Taking inspiration from natureThis time of year, I love to take a notebook out to a local park or to an overlook by the lake near my house. It's warm, the sunshine makes me happy, and I get a great wave of writing inspiration from being outdoors after a long, cold winter.
But surrounding myself with Mother Nature isn't just for putting myself in a good frame of mind to write. It's also good for inspiring story aspects. I've probably incorporated the outdoors and nature into every book I've ever written. After visiting particularly beautiful places, I come away with ideas for stories -- whether it's set in the mountains of Tennessee, as is my May release, Her Very Own Family, or the lovely beaches of Florida's Gulf Coast, like my first book, last September's A Firefighter in the Family. Nature can be a character in and of itself, a living, breathing entity. This is something the editor for my young adult books looks for in my YA books. In fact, it was something I had to incorporate even more than normal while revising this month's release, Heartbreak River (written as Tricia Mills), set in the mountains of Colorado. My editor pointed out places to really bring the setting to life, such as giving the river its own personality and having that personality change as my main character's journey progresses.
With the wonders of online research and television documentaries, nature can even inspire stories set in locales I've never visited in person. This was true for my second YA novel, 2010's Ice and Desire. It is set in Alaska, and I had a wonderful time researching all the nuances of Alaska's climate, flora, fauna, and landscape. Through my writing, I hope not only to provide an enjoyable story, but also inspire others to get out and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer, to really stop and smell the roses (or pines or sea breeze or whatever wonderful scents are riding on the air).