Tag Archive for: Imagination

The Writer’s Creative Mind

My husband, Bob, and I were enjoying our morning coffee recently
when he looked out the window at the fence of live bamboo. I’d planted it to
avoid looking into our neighbor’s living room. And of course, I’d placed
containers in the ground to prevent the plant from spreading outward and
conquering the world, as bamboo likes to do. What caught Bob’s attention was
the height it had achieved. He suggested pruning.

My fiction writer’s imagination immediately went to work and
I recommended getting a couple of panda bears to keep the bamboo trimmed.

“Well, that’d be different, but that’s not what I had in
mind,” he said, looking at me like I’d lost my mind. “Tree trimmers can do the

It’s moments like this one, where Bob’s practical solution
and my imaginary one remind me fiction writers have vivid imaginations!

In a stream of consciousness, I thought of Lewis Carroll, the
British author, who wrote Alice in Wonderland. Carroll’s creative
mind shines through from cover to cover in the characters, plot, and story. And
it’s a children’s book! Though adults are captivated by its originality

In the story, Alice falls through a rabbit hole into a
wonder-world of anthropomorphic creatures, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the
White Rabbit, and the Queen of Hearts. Alice’s stable and innocent world is
challenged by the adventures she encounters in Wonderland.

Over the years, the story’s meaning has been studied and
debated. Critics suggest Alice showed signs of mental illness, as did other
characters, like the Mad Hatter. Reviewers have even questioned if Carroll was
on drugs when he wrote
Alice in Wonderland. While others state the
story is a child’s progression into adulthood.

What we do know is that Carroll’s characters and surreal imagery
have influenced film and literature, especially the fantasy genre.

So where does this lead me? Back to the imagination of fiction
writers. Whether we write steamy romance, espionage, science fiction, cozies, or
mystery thrillers, we often start with a kernel of truth. After that, our creative
mind takes charge. We don’t have to invent anthropomorphic creatures like Lewis
Carroll did. As authors, though, we must create compelling characters!

I take a quick look out the window. My bamboo fence has shot
skyward another six inches. Just since I started writing this blog!

Can you imagine that?

Kathryn’s books –
The Nikki Garcia Thriller series and her short story collection – Backyard
Available on Amazon.

Kathryn Lane started out as a starving
artist. To earn a living, she became a certified public accountant and embarked
on a career in international finance with a major multinational corporation. After
two decades, she left the corporate world to plunge into writing mystery and
suspense thrillers. In her stories, Kathryn draws deeply from her Mexican background as well as her travels
in over ninety countries.


Photo credit:

Einstein, Oz, and Ms. Poppins by T.K. Thorne

Writer, humanist,

          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
       Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        New places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.

This glorious spring, scientists finally took a “real” picture of a black hole. All the ones we’ve been seeing have been artists’ renditions because black holes are really not visible. They swallow light. Creative astrophyicists used a multiple array of telescopes hooked together to get an image of light bending around the massive gravity pit, just as Einstein predicted!

Einstein was right about so many things—space/time, gravity, quantum physics, even a big something scientists of his day scoffed at and he decided he was wrong about—the cosmological constant. Okay, he was a little off, but the concept was not, and modern physics has gone back to it. Albert used math, but first he used something we all have and think too little of—imagination.

Einstein visualized what-if’s.  What if I could ride on a wave of light? What if I were inside a plunging elevator? All in his mind.

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”—Albert Einsten

It makes you wonder if we are so busy stuffing knowledge into children, we neglecting to teach them to use their imagination. But Children are born with creative genius. The better question is, what are we teaching them that stiffles that creative thinking and problem solving?

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”—Einstein

I’m not going to admit how old I was when I finally accepted that I would never be able to coss the Deadly Desert and find Oz. I wept, believing that I had lost something precious and irreplaceable.
But I was wrong. 
What was the Deadly Desert really, but that pesky voice that says, “No you can’t,” or “That’s impossible.”

 If anyone ever told Einstein it was impossible to ride a beam of light, it’s an awfully good thing that he didn’t listen. And neither did the scientists who took a picture of nothing. Maybe they both listened, instead, to Mary Poppins, who said:

“Everything is possible, even the impossible.”

T.K. Thorne’s childhood passion for storytelling deepened when she became a police officer in Birmingham, Alabama.  “It was a crash course in life and what motivated and mattered to people.” In her newest novel, HOUSE OF ROSE, murder and mayhem mix with a little magic when a police officer discovers she’s a witch. 

Both her award-winning debut historical novels, NOAH’S WIFE and ANGELS AT THE GATE, tell the stories of unknown women in famous biblical tales—the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. Her first non-fiction book, LAST CHANCE FOR JUSTICE, the inside story of the investigation and trials of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, was featured on the New York Post’s “Books You Should Be Reading” list. 

T.K. loves traveling and speaking about her books and life lessons. She writes at her mountaintop home near Birmingham, often with two dogs and a cat vying for her lap. 

 More info at TKThorne.com. Join her private newsletter email list and receive a two free short stories at “TK’s Korner.


by J.M. Phillippe
Sometimes, I feel stuck. Sometimes, all I have in me is a stream of consciousness dump…
I am fumbling for words, searching my memory for rich sensory details, imagery and metaphor, a perfect picture painted with perspicacity, brought forth from my fertile imagination. 
I am new again, raw, an amateur who is just barely beginning to understand what creative writing is. I am spilling out consciousness on the page in rambling streams of poorly relayed emotion. Write what you know, but what do I know, anyway? What stories are mine to tell?
Oh, and I thought I was dark before, thought I had some sense of loss or grief, of the thousand natural shocks, but I am only a Horatio, battered witness of the twists and turns all around me. Transferred trauma, and they tell me to take care, but care has been taken to take such time away. I have no time. I have no energy to use what time I have.
I don’t take the time. I don’t spare the energy.
I sleep too much and not enough.
I fall back on the old words, the easy words. It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a shot rings out. Once upon a time, in a land far far away. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Call me Ishmael.
In the room the women come and go, talking of Michaelangelo. And how should I presume?
All words are old, all words used so many times already. Should I dig up my vocabulary books, reacquaint myself with the archaic and obsolete, so that I may impress myself with my own prolix prose? 
And the seven (less or more?) great plot lines continue to unfold, over and over, and as Aimee Mann sings, “But nobody wants to hear this tale, The plot is clichéd, the jokes are stale, And baby we’ve all heard it all before.”
The only thing that’s mine is my voice. The only thing that can be new, the only thing that could make a story I tell different than any other.
But my voice needs words.
Words words words.
Lost in page counts, lost in deadlines, lost in pressures and anxieties floating all around me like ash, so thick it coats you, so thick it chokes you.
But even in the ash, a spark may fly, a tiny flake of potential floating on eddies, looking for the right tinder to settle on, the right wind to blow, and kindle standing by, waiting to burn.
I am a pile of kindle, ready to burn. I am waiting for my spark to find me.
J.M. Phillippe is the author of Perfect Likeness and the short story The Sight. She has lived in the deserts of California, the suburbs of Seattle, and the mad rush of New York City. She works as a family therapist in Brooklyn, New York and spends her free-time decorating her tiny apartment to her cat Oscar Wilde’s liking, drinking cider at her favorite British-style pub, and training to be the next Karate Kid, one wax-on at a time.

Movie or Book? Which Kind of Imagination Do You Have?

by Linda Rodriguez
My name is Linda, and I am a bookworm. I’m the kid who constantly
heard “Get your nose out of that book!” and “You’re
deaf, dumb, and blind when you’ve got your nose in a book!” I
was the kid who carried extra books to school beyond all the heavy
required texts. I’m the kid who read ahead in the reading books to
get to the end of the story.

as an adult, I open a good novel at my family’s and my to-do list’s
risk. I will disappear into the world of the book. My kids call it
“Scorpio-ing.” (I’m a Scorpio, and that sign is noted for
its powers of concentration.) My youngest son has been known to jump
up and down in front of his book-immersed mother, flapping his arms,
to demonstrate to visiting friends how weird I am–though he and his
sister inherited that ability to be swept up in an enthralling
novel’s world.
I’m reading a good novel–classic, literary, mystery, science
fiction, fantasy, makes no difference–the author’s world and the
people in it come alive for me, and I am living the book’s story with
them. I am experiencing that world and that story in a visceral way
that is sometimes more real than the way I experience the
quite-wonderful world of my daily life. I suspect I developed this
ability as a survival mechanism in my dire childhood (which made
“Mommie, Dearest” look like a fairy tale). Pouring myself
into the book I was reading and the world it created in my
imagination allowed me escape from some very scary times for a little
kid. Novels kept me sane and allowed me to know there were many other
ways of living in the world beyond the one in which I was currently
That ability to live within the story I’m reading has served me well, though. It brought me whole, if scarred, from the kind of childhood that routinely tosses people into drug addiction, crime, mental illness, and suicide. It turned me into a writer at a young age. It allows me to experience my own stories while I’m spinning them in that same real way. 
enjoy movies, as well, but I have to say, no movie has ever given me
that same total immersion into a different reality that a book does.I
think that’s because watching movies and television is passive while
reading a book is active, drawing your whole brain into a co-creation
of the world and people of the book. My oldest son can’t do this.
He’s totally a movie person. His brain is wired a different way, very
analytical, a whizz at math and computers where he makes much more
money than all of the rest of us combined. So I know this isn’t a
given for everyone. I think it’s a function of the type of
imagination we are born with. 

I have had injuries and illnesses involving great pain and
discomfort, reading novels has sometimes been the only way for me to
gain some relief. For the hours I am caught up in the book’s world
and away from the pain troubling my body. I am living elsewhere and
involved with other things. Mysteries and fantasy novels have helped
me get through miserable nights when no medicine that I could take
would do it for me and the equally great pain of grief. The Lord of
the Rings movies are wonderful, and I love them, but they don’t take
me out of myself in the same way as the original books do.

about you? When you want to wander in a new story’s world or seek
relief from emotional or physical stress, do you turn to movies or to
books? When you read your books, do you become completely involved in
the story’s world?

Linda Rodriguez’s book, Plotting the
Character-Driven Novel
is based on her popular workshop. The
World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East
an anthology she co-edited was recently published. Every Family
, her fourth mystery featuring Cherokee campus police chief,
Skeet Bannion, will appear in 2017. Her three earlier Skeet
novels—Every Hidden Fear, Every Broken Trust, and
Every Last Secret—and her
books of poetry—Skin Hunger
and Heart’s Migration—have
received critical recognition and awards, such as Malice
Domestic Best First Novel, International Latino Book Award, Latina
Book Club Best Book of 2014, Midwest Voices & Visions, Elvira
Cordero Cisneros Award, Thorpe Menn Award, and Ragdale and Macondo
Her short story, “The Good Neighbor,”
published in the anthology, Kansas City Noir, has been
optioned for film.

Guest Blogger Judy Penz Sheluk: Ruts, Shoes and Imagination

Today, I’m excited to bring you a guest blog from my Canadian friend, Judy Penz Sheluk, whose new book, Skeletons in the Attic, was just released.  See you in September…..Debra

Ruts, Shoes and Imagination by Judy Penz Sheluk

I used to teach an online creative writing course. While a
large part of the 20-part course curriculum was structured, there was also the
opportunity to create personalized assignments. One of my favorite assignments
was meant to spark the imagination of the less-than-imaginative student. Here
it is:
Read one
book you wouldn’t normally read.

Go to
one movie you would never go to see.

one popular TV show that you’ve never watched because you didn’t think you’d enjoy

Read one
magazine you’ve never read before.

Go into
one store you’ve always avoided (too expensive, too cheap, whatever) and buy

Try to
make (or bake) one new recipe you’ve never made and always wanted to try.

Go to somewhere
different (a different park, a different shopping mall, a different coffee
shop…it doesn’t have to be exotic).

Try one
new activity.

Sit down
and really listen to the conversations around you (at a family function, at a
coffee shop, wherever). Take notes.

10.  Strike up a conversation with a stranger in a
grocery store (without coming across like a stalker).

The students who
embraced the assignment inevitably found plenty of inspiration to include in

writings. But until very recently, I’d never actually done the
assignment myself. That changed when Debra H. Goldstein invited me to guest on The Stiletto Gang. “You can write about shoes if you want,” she said,
and I knew I was in trouble. Stilettos? Haven’t worn them since my twenties…and
that’s a long way behind me in the rearview mirror (although I fondly remember
a pair of two-tone pink and mauve stilettos with a slight platform, and dancing
in them to John Mellencamp’s Authority

Today, however, my favorite
shoes are my Asics runners. They start life as a running shoe, and at the
300-mile mark, they become my walking shoes. Even my protagonists (Emily
Garland in The Hanged Man’s Noose,
and Callie Barnstable in Skeletons in the
) are runners, and they both dress for comfort vs. style.

Of course, I do have
other shoes, though they tend to be low-heeled and sensible: a pair of black patent
leather ballerina-style flats is about as fancy as I get these days. As for
sandals, my pretty white ones with the bling-y rhinestones tend to get
overlooked for my much more comfy Birkenstocks. Simply put, I was in a

But was I also in
another rut? I thought about the books I’d been reading, the movies I’d been
watching, and determined that maybe I was. I haven’t done all ten parts of the
assignment yet (well, I always do #9, so I’ll take a pass on that one) but I’ve
added The Book Thief to my to-read
pile, and just the other day I watched an episode of America’s Got Talent—and found myself enjoying it. Who knew?

Does this mean I’ll
be wearing stilettos any time soon? Doubtful. But you can bet your bottom
dollar that one of my characters will be. They’ll probably be two-tone pink and
mauve with a bit of a platform…
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

in the Attic

What goes on behind closed doors doesn’t always stay there…

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s
the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited
a house in the town of Marketville—a house she didn’t know existed. However,
there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to
Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.

Callie’s not keen on dredging up a thirty-year-old mystery,
but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is
more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart
Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she
ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?

Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged
Man’s Noose
, was published in July 2015. Skeletons in the Attic, the first book
in her Marketville Mystery Series, was published in August 2016.

Judy’s short crime fiction appears in World Enough and
, The Whole She-Bang 2, Flash and Bang and Live Free or Tri.

Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of
Canada, International Thriller Writers and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Find Judy on her website/blog at www.judypenzsheluk.com,
where she interviews other authors and blogs about the writing life.

Find Skeletons in the Attic:http://getBook.at/SkeletonsintheAttic

7 Questions Turn a Pink Bicycle into a Mystery

by AB Plum

Walking alone, because I lope rather than walk, before breakfast offers a chance to think. Or let my mind wander. Birds and trees and pots of flowering plants brighten my route in a nearby church parking lot. Two weeks ago shortly before sunrise, the pink bicycle surprised me.

  1. What was going on?
  2. Why was a pink bike padlocked to a tree standing among well-manicured shrubs?
  3. What was inside the fancy saddlebags?
  4. Was the rider of the bubble-gum pink bicycle an adult?
  5. Would an adult choose neon-yellow-rimmed tires?
  6. Had Google started issuing mono-chromatic bikes instead of their signature multi-colored ones to their employees?
  7. Why would a Google bike be three miles from the Googleplex?

Questions—without answers—hip-hopped in my head as I walked on. A large trash container loomed at the bend of the parking lot. Suddenly, my route felt very deserted. It WAS deserted. The mystery writer in me imagined an arm extending from behind the walled trash cans. I locked my jaw.
Like any good accidental sleuth, I swore I wouldn’t scream. I fumbled for my cell phone and picked up my pace.

Okay, I admit my heart was thumping as I approached the trash cans. Whether from fear or embarrassment I wasn’t sure. A quick search—a half- second glance—revealed an intact lock on the
sturdy wooden doors. My heart slowed, but my face burned a little. Done in by my own imagination.
Laughing, I took three more turns around the parking lot. I breezed past the pink bicycle. Didn’t miss a step trotting past the trash container. My mind, though, churned.

Would the bike still be there as I took my pre-dinner walk? What if it was? Should I check the saddlebags? Should I report my find to the church secretary? Should I accept that the pink bicycle might belong there after all? Should I stop obsessing?

The bike stood in the same place that evening, the next morning, and for fifteen days afterwards. It soon faded into the background. Story questions for my psychological suspense series, Silicon Valley Murders, tumbled in my head like clothes in the dryer. Strategies for the book launch of the prequel, The MisFit, took over. I walked faster and faster until I reached a Zen-like mountaintop several times.
Two weeks after first spotting the mysterious pink bicycle, though, it disappeared. No sign on my morning or evening walk. The minister who often parked near the same tree looked at me askance (that means as if I’d gone off my meds). Dusk was falling. He hurried to his car, calling over his shoulder he was late for dinner.

My husband listened to the disappearance-twist, but the Warriors’ game claimed his attention. He long ago gave up understanding where ideas for my stories start. He definitely never caught my interest about a parked bike. What was the big deal?

Admittedly, I don’t foresee a pink bicycle in any of my upcoming novels about a psychopathic killer . . . though he does grow up in Denmark, where bicycling is almost as ubiquitous as it is in Holland . . .
What about you? What kinds of ordinary objects kick start your writer’s imagination?

AB Plum was born reading—according to her mother.  She started writing shortly thereafter. Careers in teaching, public libraries, and high-tech in Silicon Valley ate into her writing, but she kept a journal of ideas for future novels. She reads widely and writes across the genres of romantic comedy, romantic suspense, and now psychological suspense. She went from publication with a traditional NY publisher to an E-publisher and now is jumping into self-publishing with her upcoming novella, The MisFit. When she’s not reading or writing, she hikes just off the fast lane in Silicon Valley. 

A Bit of History

By way of introduction, I am the granny of the group. I’ve been on this planet for a long, long time. I remember listening to President Roosevelt on the radio announcing that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. (Maybe my memory has been enhanced a bit by hearing that announcement so many times afterwards.)

Despite the fact I grew up during World War II, I had an absolutely wonderful childhood. In fact my imagination was enhanced by the war. Because they were sending English children to various places to be safe, I told everyone my little sister was a princess and we were caring for her until the war was over. No one really believed me except my sister, who for years thought she was adopted.

Blackouts (when the whole city of Los Angeles went dark) were great fun. You have no idea how exciting it was to ride in a car with no headlights, no lights on the street or traffic lights. (I’m sure my parents were not as thrilled as I was.) We had an inner room inside our house where we could wait until the air raid was over and a place we could have a small light. We played board games and ate snacks my mom had stashed away in the cupboards.

My secret ambition was to be a spy if and when the enemy took over our city. Who would suspect a kid? My friends and I dug secret tunnels in the empty lots and concocted poisons to take care of the enemy. None of our parents had any idea what we were up to because back in those times, as long as you were home for dinner no one worried.

On a regular basis the air raid warden held meetings at his home and everyone in the neighborhood was expected to attend. The adults learned how to grow victory gardens and do first aid, we kids had a great time playing hide’n go seek and various other games. The refreshments were always great despite the fact sugar was rationed.

I organized 4th of July parades with the kids in the neighborhood, everyone decorating their bikes and wagons.

And to bring it around to writing related matters, I wrote plays for my friends to perform, in middle school (called junior high back then) and I put out my own magazine and authored all the stories and articles.

Now, I’m the author of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series (Judgment Fire) as well as other books. I’d never thought of my series as being cozy, though since my characters don’t swear, not much blood is spilled on stage, there’s a laugh or two, and yes, the bad guy always gets it in the in, I guess the term cozy fits.

Years ago I wore high heels, now I stick to whatever is comfortable. Despite all this, I’m extremely pleased I was asked to join these talented young women.