Sunday, January 19, 2014

Where Does Your Inspiration Come From?

I'm so pleased to have as my guest today, MK Schiller! I asked her to write about anything relating to writing, and she picked one of my favorite topics--Where Do You Get Your Inspiration? Here's what she has to say:

I want to thank Becky for welcoming me to her lovely site.  I’m often asked where I get my inspiration.  Ideas – where do they come from?  For me, a finished story is like a tapestry. It contains threads and strings woven together in a unique pattern.  The raw materials come from real-life experiences, snippets of overheard conversations, or that funny tale you hear at a party that remains interesting long after the cocktails have worn off.  I change the sequence of events and characterizations to suit my plot, but the best stories are the ones with an element of truth. 

My first novel, The Other C-Word, starts with what I hope is a humorous airport mix up.  I took this story from my own life. My dear sweet dad agreed to pick up a friend’s son from the airport.  I didn’t like the idea of him driving such a great distance alone so I insisted on accompanying him, but this is not something you can just voice to a stubborn man like my father. I deceived him by feigning a newfound interest in basketball and suggesting we could discuss it.  I don’t like or watch basketball, so in hindsight this wasn’t the brightest strategy. 

We were about ten minutes into the drive when my dad gets frustrated and calls out my sham, explaining that it’s apparent I don’t know the difference between a Quarter Back and a Point Guard (FYI, these are different sports).  This resulted in a not so pleasant conversation about his penchant for doing favors and my concern about his driving habits.  By the time we reached the airport, we were in raised voice mode – neither one wanting to give an inch, but horde a mile at the same time. 
Now, I should explain my father had never met the man we’re supposed to pick up.  We knew his age and his ethnicity only.  My dad takes out his cell to call Mr. Late Night Airport Pick Up.  My dad introduces himself and explains we are parked at the Delta arrivals terminal. Mr. Airport Pick up tells dad he’s outside waiting for us. ‘I see him,’ I say, pointing to a young man on his cell phone a few feet from our car.  We wave at him. He waves back.  I get out of the minivan my dad insists on driving even though his minivan years are behind him.  I open up the hatch and the man places his bags in the trunk and off we go.

“So, how was your flight?” dad asks.

“Not bad. Thank you for picking me up on such short notice.” he answers.  At least he’s polite.

“Not a problem.”  Yes, it was a problem, but I kept quiet about it, and we continued to make small talk as we headed to the loop that led to the expressway on-ramp.

“Do you like living in California?” dad asks.

There’s a noticeable pause and then he finally says, “I live in Montana.”

Realization dawns in the dark interior of the vehicle as we all do a rapid double-take.  Yep…we picked up the wrong man!

A big loop around the interstate, which must have depleted at least a gallon of gas, and we’re back where we started.  It turns out Mr. Wrong guy was on his cell at the same time as my dad, but they weren’t talking to each other. In fact, Mr. Wrong guy was talking to his ride who he’d never met either.  Mr. Right guy, meanwhile was still standing outside the gate, freezing his butt off wondering where the hell we were.
Dad and I were so mad at each other at the time, but that incident cracked us up so much that Mr. Right guy had reservations about getting in the car with two laughing loons.  Eventually, dad and I had a real conversation about my fears.  Even now, when I think about what my family refers to as the airport debacle of 2001, I giggle.  Humor has an amazing way of opening up conversations and creating comfort where none exists. 

Although the scene is much different, this was the inspiration for Marley and Rick’s first meeting.  My daughter always says, ‘be careful what you say around mom, it might end up in a book.’  That’s true.  The best stories are the ones that feel real.  My new novel, A Girl By Any Other Name, is available for sale now.  Although it deals with serious subjects, humor is a prominent thread in Cal and Sylvie’s story.  Thank you for reading, and feel free to drop me a line. I’m always up for a funny story!

Author’s Website

Amazon Author page
Publisher’s site girl by any other name
Goodreads page

Author Bio
MK Schiller is a hopeless romantic in a hopelessly pragmatic world. Writing is her passion, but with a full time life and two busy teenagers, it proves difficult. But in the quiet dark of night, she sits by the warm glow of a computer monitor, and attempt to conjure up passionate heartwarming stories with plenty of humor.

She started imagining stories in her head at a very young age. In fact, friends started making requests for stories where they were featured as the heroine and the object of their affection was the hero. You've heard of fan fiction... this was friend fiction.

Even with that, it took many years to realize her dream. She hopes you enjoy my stories and always find The Happily Ever After in every endeavor.

Blurb –
Everyone tells him he needs to move on, but how can a man function without his heart?

Ten-year-old Caleb Tanner wants nothing to do with Sylvie Cranston, the annoying weird girl who moves next door to him and gets him in trouble for swearing. But at twelve, they become friends when he teaches her how to hook a fishing line and she shows him the value of a selfless act. At fourteen, he falls in love with her.

At sixteen, she dies.

Or so he’s told. But Cal never believes it. Sylvie has become part of his soul. He knows her like the steady beating of his own heart. He’d know if she was dead. Cal looks for her, prays for her and finally he just waits for her.

Nine years later, she walks into the community college English class Cal is teaching. Only this girl claims her name is Sophie Becker and she doesn’t know him. Cal knows better. He’s determined to get the girl he loves back—and protect her from the danger that took her away all those years ago.

EXCERPT Cal and Sylvie age 12

She put her hand on my arm. Her voice wavered, shifting into a soft whisper. “I can’t sleep at night and it helps me. Sometimes I get so scared that it actually hurts. I feel it in my bones, like they might crack open any minute, breaking my insides apart.”
I shifted my pole and reached for her hand. I hadn’t quite comprehended the value of hugging. “Maybe you should pray on it. Pastor Morrison says that prayer can solve a lot of problems.”
“You really think that will work?” she asked dubiously.
I shrugged. “I wouldn’t know for sure. I don’t pray right myself.”
She frowned, wrinkling her nose. “How can you pray wrong?”
“Momma says I do it wrong all the time.”
“I don’t get it.”
I sighed, staring up at the blue sky. “She always asks me what I prayed for. The first time she asked, I told her it was for a new bike and football cleats. She got real mad and said ‘Son, you are praying to God, not Santa Claus’.” I used my best Amelia Tanner impression, and the edges of Sylvie’s mouth curved upward.
“That sounds like your momma.”
“Yeah, but I guess I didn’t learn my lesson because I asked her what I should pray for then. She said I should pray to be a better person.”
“That’s a good idea.”
“That’s what I thought too. I started praying that I could throw the football longer and run faster so I could make the team in high school.”
Sylvie cupped her hand to her mouth to cover her laugh. I didn’t care. I wanted to make her laugh, even if it was at my expense. “What did she say?”
“She got pretty mad and said that’s not what she meant. She told me I was being selfish and since I couldn’t pray for myself correctly, I should pray for someone else.”
“Who did you pray for?”
I stared down at the lake. “I prayed for Mandy.”
“That’s so sweet.”
“Yeah, I asked God to make her less annoying.”
Sylvie cracked up so much I was sure she’d run all the fish away, but I didn’t care. It was one of the best feelings in the world to make this girl laugh. “You didn’t.”
“I did, but at least now I know what I need to pray on.”
“What’s that, Cal?”
I squeezed her hand, noticing how hypnotic her eyes were. “I’ll pray that you’re not scared anymore, Sylvie.”

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