Idea searching

Creating art is such an impossible thing to describe. How does one explain the genesis of the fantastic world she’s painting, or the witty characters she’s chronicling the adventures of?  Where do our ideas come from?

And, perhaps more importantly, where do we go to find them again when they’ve fluttered away?

For me, the first priority is always music. Although I’m distracted by coffee shop chatter, I’m never annoyed by music. In fact, sometimes a song hints at a new story for me and I’ll listen to it on repeat for an hour as the idea bubbles to the surface. I have playlists for all my characters.

But, some days, even music can’t shake my creativity awake. In that case, I’ll go for a run, exercising my physical muscles in the hopes that my mental muscles will soon respond.

If that fails, then I curl up with a mug of tea and some knitting, totally admitting defeat in the quest for words for the day. But that doesn’t happen too often. Plus, within an hour of some caffeine and some mindless knitting, my brain is almost always ready to go with new ideas.

Other writers I know have certain teas they always drink when they’re writing, or a candle they light before they sit down to type. Some swear by browsing Pinterest for a while, letting ideas percolate. The ancient Greeks used to summon a muse with words, incantations and rituals. A famous author I follow on Twitter once admitted to trying to tell the story to his dog, verbalizing the plot points as they happened.

I don’t think there’s a wrong way to find new ideas. Every new way might promote new ideas!

Fears and Self-doubting in the Creative World

Hi all!

Short blog post is short, but will be leading into a longer one. If you read this blog, you’re probably a creative person. Or my mom. (hi, Mom!) and if you’re a creative person, you’ve probably felt doubts. Fears. The ever lurking shadows of failure.


The rejections and bad feedback that makes you feel awful. The people who look at your art and say “I don’t get it.” The review of your band that calls it worse than drunks at karaoke. You know, the non-fun part of being creative.


But those insidious whispers are WRONG. You are talented. You are amazing. You make good art and you make the world a better place. Everyone is cheering you on, and the world is waiting to meet you. There are so many good things ahead in your creative journey. Keep going. You can do it!


Here’s the thing. We all get those feels. And I’d like to think, just maybe, if we talk through them, together but anonymously, maybe we can get some things off our minds, and go back to making beautiful art.

To me, Rumple is beautiful art. Disagree, fine.

To me, Rumple is beautiful art. Disagree, fine.

So, on my tumblr, I’ve opened up to anonymous asks. I’ll leave it that way for about a week, and in that time, share your fears, your doubts, your moments of “OMG, I’m a fraud,” your cat’s name, your belief that Rumple/Belle is the best thing ever… okay. Maybe not the last two. But please, share your fears-no matter where you are, published, just starting out, a dancer or a knitter. I bet someone else is feeling the same one. All the fears will be condensed into one post, so you will be totally, totally anonymous.

Unless your fear is that Belle will never forgive Rumple. Then everyone will know that one’s me.

You’re not alone, and in a follow up post, I’ll try and address these fears. We are stronger together, and even stronger when we talk.

Business of Art Interview: K. Kazul Wolf

So, it’s time for another Business of Art interview, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to introduce K. Kazul Wolf, a writer as well as a professional chef! Her creativity amazes me and her story prompts are a great way to beat writer’s block. They are posted every week on her Tumblr.


 Hi! Tell me a bit about yourself?

Hallo! My penname may be K. Kazul Wolf, but most people call me Bacon. My day job is a chef-who-turned-baker at a four diamond restaurant in the Finger Lakes of New York, and then I come home to my crazy house of two dogs, too many cats, and chickens who also think they’re cats. Otherwise, I’m a fantasy author that talks too much about dragons.

How long have you been writing? What do you love about writing?

I’ve only been writing for about five years, give or take. I was kind of a late bloomer with both reading and writing — I couldn’t care less about reading until I picked up either Harry Potter or The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (it’s the chicken and the egg, I have no idea which really came first) when I was ten, and couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with my love of creating worlds until I was eighteen.
As to what I love about writing: I love creating. There’s nothing I love more than to weave any medium into something beautiful, or emotional — something that makes you feel. Writing is perfect for that.

I loved the Narnia books too! What other books are among your favorite?

Ohhhh, that’s such a hard question! My top to go-tos, though, are: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, and The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor. No one can ever beat Diana Wynne Jones’s world-building and plot complexity, and Laini Taylor is absolutely beautiful in her prose.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever heard?

This is going to sound lame, but simply: write. Yeah, we all have moments of doubt, but those insecurities you feel are felt by every single author out there. If you don’t push through them and get the stupid words out, you won’t have written, and you won’t be a writer. So, yeah. WRITE.

I couldn’t agree more! Doubt sneaks into every writer’s brain. Tell me a bit about the projects you’re working on now.

Well, I’m coming to an end to my year-long project, where I take prompts every week and write a short story involving all of them (more about this over here). And as for my WIP novel, I conveniently have a rough query:

Emma wakes up to a man with black eyes and razor-pointed teeth hovering over her, in a strange house, an even stranger land. She can’t even try to run; the town she’s in is surrounded by a ward that keeps out a seething darkness of eaters — formless remains of people who have lost their souls, and will do anything to get another. But even that doesn’t compare to the fact that she can’t even remember who she was before she woke up.

The monster-man, Bob, and the owner of the house, a Magician named Morgan, seem nice enough, though the sink like a bottomless pit, an oven that likes to shoot its racks at unsuspecting victims are a little hard to swallow. There’s no solace outside — the townsfolk blame her for the infestation of monsters, and it’s only Morgan and Bob keeping her safe. Emma can’t understand what motivates them to help her, what’s in it for them and what they want from her. The truth is a tricky thing when you can barely remember your own name.

That query sounds intense! Can’t wait to read the story! You mentioned you’re a professional chef, which is awesome! Do you find your culinary expertise influencing your writing?

Yes! You have no idea how much I annoy my friends with cooking metaphors. For awhile I stayed away from food in my own writing, but looking back, I don’t know why. Who doesn’t love food? On the level of similarities between the two, there’s actually a lot, especially with baking. It takes patience, precision and practice. You’re not going to start off icing wedding cakes like a pro, or cooking tenderloins to a perfect medium-rare, or  cutting perfect tourne (those are evil). And there’s always more to learn, and always different ways to perfect your style and taste.

One of the features of my blog is “the business of art” In your life, have you encountered any challenges or confusion relating to business matters and your art?

Oh gosh, yes. As a writer, I could complain about having to be a small business and brand onto myself until I’m blue in the face, but I that’s something other people can cover way better then me. As a chef, it’s a little different. Just like the literary industry, it’s very unique, and it can be hard to break into the fine dining side of things. Especially as a woman. I actually had training and classes on a very nice culinary resume before applying to culinary jobs. Even with all that, one of my first interviews the man kept asking me, “But you’re so pretty, don’t you want to be a waitress?” I wouldn’t have accepted the job, even if it was offered. And as a vast contrast to querying vs. job applications, this was personal. It wasn’t that I wasn’t a right match, it was that I was a girl.
That being said, I got my first fine dining job at a great restaurant on the second day of a stage (unpaid internship), when the head chef came up and asked if I wanted a be hired as a garde manger. Being the quiet introvert on top of being a girl, it’s a hard place to be taken seriously even if I have all the skills. It’s sad that there’s still so much sexism in the culinary field (oh the irony with all the kitchen jokes), but that doesn’t mean it should stop you from trying to do what you want to do.
Thank you so much for a great interview (and for making me hungry. Mmm cake.)

If you’d like to find out more about K. Kazul, here are her homes on the ‘net.

A Thank You to the Writing Community

I’ve always been a writer, but aside from classes, I’ve never shared my writing with anyone other than my long-suffering best friend.Then, a little over a year ago, I realized the story I’d been drafting was something I really, really loved, and wanted to share with other people, maybe even see in print someday. It had been years since I’d declared myself “a writer” to anyone, but, it was time.

So, I hit up Google  for writing sites. Absolute Write, Ladies Who Critique, and Maggie Stiefvater’s annual CP love connection. I met amazing critique partners, who encouraged me to keep writing. They saw potential in the messy, plot-less draft I’d created.

As summer turned to fall, my writing picked up steam, and I was selected for the Pitch Wars mentoring contest, and gave me a whole new network of awesome writing friends. Between that, joining SCBWI, spending (too much?) time on twitter, and crashing in on Nanowrimo meetups, I met even more awesome writers. Seriously, if you’ve ever considered doing any of those things, try it out. You never know who you might meet.

Then an amazing thing happened. The more I interacted with the writing community, the stronger my writing grew. Even more valuable than the editing and writing tips is the sense of fellowship, that bolsters  me on rough days, and cheers with me on great days.  I ‘m not alone anymore, writing stories for only me  and my cat.

This is a thank you to all the writers and creative folk I’ve met so far. Loyal critique partners who will brainstorm plot twists and listen to my rambling tangents, incredible beta readers who offer feedback on the manuscript as a whole, and the hundreds of people I’ve interacted with on Twitter and Tumblr.

I’ve even been lucky enough to meet a few of you in real life.

Your kind encouragement helps me through days when writing a novel seems impossible. Your thoughtful feedback sharpens the story from the vague draft it was into something sparkling. The way you fangirl (or fanboy )over my characters re-ignites my own enthusiasm for them. Your sympathetic ear when real life explodes and writing seems impossible makes the struggle to get words on the page easier. Your joy at my success makes it ten times more awesome.

You have no idea how much you matter.