Audible and Apple and Spotify and more! So many Audiobook distributors!
Tag Archives: writing
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Inspiration for “Desert Town Angels” – Nipton
As I have said, one of the ways I get inspiration for story ideas is through reading news articles in the paper, online or in magazines. Although I may not actually visit a place, I can imagine what it’s like through articles.
I read A LOT. I used to be a voracious fiction reader, but when I started writing, I didn’t want to be inadvertently be influenced or compromise my own creativity, but that’s for another blog entirely.
Nipton is this tiny spot on the bottom of the barren desert landscape desert as you travel to and from Vegas and California on the 15.
It was another one of those turnoffs I had always wanted to explore, but never had the time and in the desert, if you turn off without knowing what to expect, you might find yourself in a very precarious situation without cell service. I don’t advise adventuring in the desert areas unless you are fully aware of the dangers and prepared for emergencies.
Quick side story, coming back from Laughlin one time, the LOML and I were in an older car and the radiator overheated IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. We actually happened to stop under an overpass, the only one for as far as the eye could see. We were alone on the road and we filled the radiator with water and hobbled to the rest area. When an older man saw us and we told him our story, he said we were lucky we didn’t crack the radiator because we hadn’t waited for the radiator to cool before putting water in it. LESSON LEARNED. Be prepared when traveling in the desert.
Back to Nipton. Right after I published “Desert Town Angels” the LOML and I decided to take a side trip from Searchlight to the 15. Searchlight is a desert town similar to all the desert towns that inspired the fictional setting of “Golden Peaks.” Most people just drive right through the main road without even noticing the town. Of course Searchlight, the hometown for Sen. Harry Reid, has this really great place to use the restroom and buy snacks when going to and from Laughlin.
So we veer off at Searchlight and after passing a few residences, we head into the lonely desert under gray skies. Soon we pass a Joshua Tree forest. The first time I ever saw a Joshua Tree, which looks like a cactus mated with a palm tree, I thought I was looking at the Martian landscape, before we actually had photos of the Martian landscape.
Then up and over a hill where we passed snow-covered hills. We were excited to see the snow that came right up to the road (we’re from the West, we don’t get snow, we have to go to snow). At the bottom of this pass, there was a gathering of trees on the barren landscape that I thought was maybe a ranch. Silver train tracks cut across the desert and two trains were approaching from opposite directions (that’s when I kicked myself for not putting a train somewhere in my story).
Reaching the trees, we saw buildings and didn’t know we were in Nipton until we reached the train tracks and slowed down as we realized two things: 1. There was nothing beyond the tracks and we were about to leave Nipton and 2. If we crossed the tracks we would be stuck on the other side for a while.
With quick thinking, we turned left into a parking lot and there was a sign that read Nipton. Jumping out of the car with our cameras, we caught the two trains just as they passed looking as if they were going to crash into one another. It was interesting how one train had seemed closer and we didn’t expect them to reach the intersection at Nipton at the same time.
Turning, we walked to a rock garden in front of the B&B. Readers, if you love trains and barren desert landscapes and outdoor activities, this B&B is for YOU. There is one room in the cabin that faced the trains. Don’t worry, they provide earplugs as we were told by one of the friendly guests who gave us a tour of the cute little B&B.
Then we saw a restaurant, and a General Store, which was stocked pretty well. Not so long ago I had read about some problem on the 15 that diverted traffic through Nipton and the General Store was sold out and had to turn customers away. It was a very cute store.
Standing in Nipton, I smiled.
This was what I had envisioned, this desert town.
A collection of wood buildings with limited amenities on either side of a road leading to a state road on one end and on the other, an Interstate anchored by a larger desert town.
It wasn’t until after the trip that I realized my imagination had been influenced by these articles. I had been in Nipton and other desert towns before I ever visited them. I can already imagine what it will be like when I visit Goodsprings.
Imagination based on things you read in articles is another example of creative inspiration. I knew what a place like Nipton was like without ever going there because I had been to similar towns and I had lived in the desert area for so long.
If you enjoyed “Desert Town Angels,” I hope you got a sense of what it’s like to visit a desert town. I hope that if you have been to one yourself that I have captured the essence of the desert town atmosphere. If you have not, I hope that when you do have the opportunity to visit a desert town you will feel as if you’ve already been there, if only in your imagination.
R. A. Lee
Desert Town Inspiration – Part Two on Inspiration for Writing
Traveling is another way to get inspiration.
For years I had been reading articles about desert towns and entire towns for sale. I have also visited old Western towns and mining towns like Calico (California) and Oatman (Arizona). I plan to visit Goodsprings (Nevada).
A recent trip through the desert and mining towns of Nevada solidified my resolve to finally write what would become “Desert Town Angels.”
As the LOML and I drove through the Nevada desert and passed signs near Area 51 for Alien jerky, I was thinking about all the stories that could come from this mythic military compound.
The LOML turned to me and asked if I was getting any story ideas.
Traveling does amazing things for your imagination. How does the sky look? How does the air feel? What does the landscape look like? You can close your eyes and feel the atmosphere. Traveling and visiting new places is how you derive inspiration to make a fictional town come to life.
Many mining and desert towns have one similarity and that is the reality that the main road is just a pass through for major traffic going anywhere else but the desert town through which they are driving. You will pass through a town and never know its significance.
We passed so many towns that had gone through bust and boom mining gold and silver, but we would never have known that without learning a little about their history as we traveled.
Virginia City is an exception. This mining town near Reno and Lake Tahoe is historic. One narrow road leads through a town of wood buildings all connected along storefronts leading out to a wooden walkway. There is a train and a mine tour, but be prepared to walk up and down hills as Virginia City is in a very hilly part of Nevada. There is even a gravesite on another hill outside of town. Looks like something right out of a Western.
You don’t just aimlessly drive through Virginia City. It’s like Oatman and Calico, they’re all tourist destinations.
This was the atmosphere that finally solidified my resolve to start writing “Desert Town Angels.”
In addition to having an inspiration from articles, I now had the atmosphere I needed to fuel my imagination.
The experiences you gain from traveling, they inspire the real world feeling necessary to give life to the world about which you are writing.
If I don’t blog for a while, that means I am writing furiously or editing.
Whenever I am writing and I am stuck on a plot point, I feel the need to continue writing so that’s when I get ideas for a blog. I get ideas for ANYTHING from blogs to baking!
I usually blog when my brain is working through character direction and plot. Then I dream a scene and stop blogging a while.
(I just finished my seventh, a Novella, “My Vegas Valentine,” and I am working on my 8th, a short story, “The Unbreakable Heart of a Princess.”)
When I am done with the short story, I will write about my final inspiration, which is creating atmosphere based on a place you have never been, but heard about in a news story.
I believe you can write about anything without ever being there, as I write about Nipton in Part Three of this series. There would be no fantasy stories or stories set in outer space or on other worlds if we didn’t have the imagination to wonder what’s possible if we could visit these places.
R. A. Lee
Why My Fourth Novel is Like the First Pancake
So, I started writing my trilogy and it turned into a fifth romance/suspense/thriller novel based on a small desert town thrown into transition when the patriarch dies and it is revealed he has given it away to a stranger. Fun, huh? Yes, there will be romance. Yes, there will be suspense. Yes, there will be moments so dramatic you won’t be able to put it down!
Now, onto why my fourth novel is like a pancake. (You can tell I am stuck in a crucial part of the fifth novel because I have to write, but I am still trying to figure out at what point the poignant moment is revealed).
When I get to a point when I have to wait for the advice of my characters otherwise the plot seems forced, that’s when I start busying myself with other projects like baking. So I got this new gluten-free all-purpose flour WITH NO PANCAKE RECIPE ON THE BACK and set out to experiment.
Invariably the first pancake is a mess.
So is my fourth novel.
Like any good idea, I had the beginning, middle and end. This would have been a modern retelling of the beauty and the beast story. A woman gets a call from a mysterious stranger in the middle of the night threatening he is going to call the police on her brother who has just broken into his house. In despair, the woman rushes out to save her brother and is confronted by a very angry (but sexy) recluse and when they clash, she pulls the phone cord from the wall and pleads for her brother’s release so that he can finish law school.
Then there’s the end. In a lover’s quarrel over a mystery that was always vague, the woman is prepared to leave but is given the book that will solve all the mysteries. She is not to go to the main mansion but follows the elderly woman who gave her the book so that the mystery will be solved. The man sees her and is compelled to follow because it reminds him of that night so many years ago (I know, crap, right?). Following the woman into the mansion, he sees her standing on the ballroom floor and is compelled to dance because the room has been set up to look exactly like that night from long ago (when something mysterious screwed up his life). Taking her in his arms, the spell is broken as they dance. The woman pulls away and throws the book at his feet. She no longer has to put up with his mommy-daddy-screwed-me-up issues.
Then the epilogue. Then … well I might salvage that for another novel because it’s really sweet.
So, that is why you’ll never see my fourth novel. I don’t want to present anything half-baked (Oh, that’s funny). I really try my best to present my best work (please forgive any typos or mistakes in my novels, they do get proofed) and each typo or mistake is a dagger to my perfectionist self-esteem.
So, that is why my fourth novel is like that first, ruined pancake. The others taste great, at least to me.
You Know I Am Writing When …
You know I am writing when …
I suddenly decide to embark on a culinary adventure
I dust off my bike for a ride
I pull out a duster
It’s time to organize my photos from a recent vacation
It’s time to watch everything in my DVR
In short … you know I am writing when I am doing anything but sitting at the computer and typing.