Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Muse and Inspiration - Do You have Any?

I'm pleased to introduce the multi-published Cheryl K. Tardif. Cheryl and I met in a huge national writing contest last fall. She was supportive and unfailingly polite to a veritable newbie like me, which was just golden during that hectic time. The more I learn about Cheryl - from her book marketing, her diverse writing abilities, reading her blog, to her books being studied in class - I'm simply astounded. I only hope that someday I can accomplish what this author has and I'm eternally grateful she liked my work enough to put her name out there supporting me.

As a writer, I find inspiration in everything I see, hear, touch, smell, taste and do, and I encourage other writers to look for signs of the muse. If you’ve ever met someone who has shared a part of their life with you and their tale has resulted in a thought of: “Wow, that would make a great book”, that’s your inner muse talking. Sometimes something you see--like two people having an argument in a restaurant--might trigger inspiration in the form of: “What if a wife is plotting to kill off her husband after a romantic dinner?” Okay, not everyone’s mind works that way, but mine sure does.

If I asked you to write down ten things you saw today, could you turn them into a story plot? If you’re an aspiring author, I bet you could. I know I could. If you told me about something that happened in your past, I know it would send my muse into overdrive. My massage therapist told me about a detour she took to a strange little town and the creepy hotel she visited. I’m now writing a suspense/horror novel about my version of what’s going on there. If I allowed her to, my muse would be constantly whispering novel plots in my ear. As it is, I can barely shut her up, so I keep files on strong ideas.

If I was to ever run out of plots--and I honestly can’t see that ever happening--I’d only have to listen to the evening news for five minutes to become inspired by a story idea. While most people dwell on the facts of what they hear, a writer’s mind ventures into What-if-land. What if the bank robber stole the money because someone is holding his family hostage? What if that car crash involved a famous actor who is being stalked by a delusional fan? What if that tornado was really a black hole and everyone was sent to an alternate universe? And that’s just the news!

As a child, I had a deep love for killer whales. Every time we went to the Vancouver Aquarium, I wanted to jump right in with Skana and swim with her. Today, I’d probably have second thoughts, but I still dream of swimming with orcas. This led to my critically acclaimed, bestselling novel Whale Song. As a teen, I was interested in the paranormal--ghosts, psychics, strange happenings. This led me to write the first in my paranormal suspense series, Divine Intervention, a novel about psychic government agents searching for serial killers. Back in 2004, my mother told me about a friend who wanted to go down some river where people kept disappearing. This led me to wonder where those people went, what happened to them, and my thriller The River was born.

Your muse is that inner voice that speaks to you in dreams or thoughts, that helps you see a potential plot, even in the simple things. Inspiration can be found anywhere, but the most important thing for a writer to know is this: Your muse will help you find inspiration, but only when your mind is open to the search.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif is an award-winning, bestselling Canadian author who writes suspense and some YA. “I kill people off for a living,” she likes to tell people. When she’s not plotting a character’s demise, Cheryl is delving into her romantic side as Cherish D’Angelo, her pseudonym for her new romantic suspense. Cherish’s debut romance, Lancelot’s Lady, will be released September 27th, 2010.

Thanks so much for blogging with us today here at Wicked, Cheryl! I wish you much success with your upcoming romance title and we look forward to having you blog with us again as the release date draws closer. Readers interested in learning more about Cheryl can find her on Twitter and Facebook. You can read an excerpt and buy her work at these locations online: Kobobooks, Smashwords, and Amazon.


  1. Thank you so much for the warm welcome, C.J. I really enjoyed writing this post on muse and inspiration.

    And don't worry; if you keep doing what you're doing, you'll be published soon. There's no doubt in my mind. I loved Vampire Vacation.

    Thank you again for allowing me to be a guest at Wicked Writers. I feel so...wicked. ;-)

    Cheryl Kaye Tardif

  2. Thank you for your inspiring blog. I get ideas but that's as far as it goes in regards to the plot. I can dream about them but I can't put it in words- at least not my fiction writing.

    thank you for your ideas. I will definitely try them.

    And I agree with you Vampire Vacation is the best!

  3. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment, Bertena. Here's another idea for you for constructing plot...

    If you get a basic idea for a plot, determine your main protagonist and main antagonist (male/female, young/old, married/single, job, family ect.) Then give the protagonist a challenge early on, some small thing she must do, solve or overcome. In every chapter give her something else, maybe something a bit worse to overcome, leading up to the final chapters and resolution.

    If you get stuck, just think of yourself in your character's situation. What would "up the ante", make things worse?

    There is nothing more rewarding than torturing your main character by throwing obstacles at him/her and then watching him/her find the way out. :-)



  4. You are very welcome, Cheryl! Good job on the post and I think you captured the essence of "muse" quite nicely!