Monday, August 19, 2013

Guest Post: Silver James on Finding Inspiration


One question that all authors get asked is, “Where do you get your inspiration?” Most of us have rather pat (or snarky) answers. In my case, I blame it on my Muse. Some of you have “met” Iffy. Her favorite game is “What if…?” Her favorite things include chocolate and coffee, preferably mixed together. Her favorite way to procrastinate is look at pictures of sexy guys who might or might not resemble characters in her head. And if you put a margarita in front of her, Katy bar the door! (That’s a colloquialism. You can look it up. Google is your friend.) Anyway, Iffy is a nickname. Her real name is Iphigenia. It means “sacrifice” in Greek, but that’s a topic for another day.

Today, we’re talking about inspiration and where it comes from. There seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to Muses. Some of us depend on ours. Other authors snort and roll their eyes. “No such thing as writer’s block,” they proclaim. “You have to work through it.”

Tell that to Iffy. Of course, in my case, the Muse is like a maniacal toddler on a sugar high, complete with scissors. In fact, the picture I have of her portrays that very thing. In other words, she doesn’t need any encouragement. She has far more ideas than I can keep track of, and usually have absolutely nothing to do with whatever project I happen to be currently working on. Because she’s so scattered, I tend to write cross genres. I read that way so why not write, right? Usually, that means that I write paranormal thrillers, contemporary romances, and romantic suspense. I even have a horror novel hanging out under my bed waiting to scare the bejeesus out of me if I ever pull it out again to finish.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Get to the point. This is this, I wrote a short story several years ago after being invited to participate in an anthology of police stories. Most people submitted real life essays. Me? Nope. Iffy would have none of that reality stuff. She wanted me to write something fresh. Different. Outside the box. Uhm…yeah. I was a week away from the deadline and had nuthin’. Zip. Zero. Nada. Then one morning, I stopped in to buy a cup of coffee at the local convenience store. They’d just gone to “fancy” coffees, each with their own name. And there it was: Café Midnight, a dark roast with rich but mellow overtones sure to wake you up.

I bought the giant economy size—boy did I need the caffeine kick that morning—and headed off to work. By the time I got there, I had the inkling of a story idea. And Iffy pirouetting around my office. By lunch, I wanted to take the afternoon off to write but…day job. I stopped for pizza on the way home, banished the family, and hid in my office. By midnight, I had the rough draft for CAFÉ MIDNIGHT.

What’s it about? A burned out homicide cop. A mysterious diner. And a dead body. What could possibly go wrong, right? Well, when the cop is Joe McGwire, everything. See, he walks into Café Midnight and straight into a mystery involving Sherlock Holmes, Sam Spade, and several other famous detectives. Also, the Mafia. And the Chinese Tong. And it all came from a cup of coffee. I did mention that Iffy is rather enamored of coffee, right?

 The point of all this is that inspiration is everywhere, if you just look. It’s in a song on the radio, the headlines of a newspaper. It’s a commercial on TV. A picture shared on Facebook. A sentence overheard in the line at the grocery store. And yes, even in a cup of coffee.

I’ve recently released CAFÉ MIDNIGHT on Amazon, with a new cover and some minor revisions. It’s fun to read. It’s cheap. (Only 99 cents). Here’s the link: Amazon And the blurb:

A burned-out homicide cop. A mysterious diner. A dead body. What could possibly go wrong? 

When that cop is Joe McGwire? Everything. Back on duty after a deadly shootout, Joe and his new best friend, Insomnia, hit the streets. Drawn to a diner called Cafe Midnight, Joe walks into trouble. 

Welcome to Cafe Midnight, where the coffee's hot, you can still smoke, the payphone costs a nickel, and famous detectives hang out looking for a case. 

This short story is a fond homage to film noir and the detective novels of the last century. It's a tongue-in-cheek tale about a hard-driven homicide detective and the denizens of the dark he meets while investigating his latest murder. And finally, your question for the day:

Where do you find YOUR inspiration?!?

 Silver likes to walk on the dark side and coffee. Okay. She loves coffee. LOTS of coffee. Warning: Her Muse, Iffy, runs with scissors and can be quite dangerous. She's the author of the award-winning Moonstruck series and other books, including a new series, The Penumbra Papers, coming Fall 2013. She's been a military officer's wife, mother, state appellate court marshal, airport rescue firefighter and forensic fire photographer, crime analyst, technical crime scene investigator, and writer of magic and mystery. Now retired from the "real world," she lives in Oklahoma and spends her days at the computer with two Newfoundland dogs, the cat who rules them all, and myriad characters all clamoring for attention. She writes dark paranormal thrillers, time travel romance, and light contemporary with a kiss of suspense. Want to know more? Visit her at


  1. What a great premise from a cup of coffee, Silver!! You are amazing - and so is Iffy ;)

    Inspiration comes to me in various places, too - but I get a lot of my ideas from dreams! They can be very vivid.

    FYI - I am also inspired by my writer friends such as yourself!

    1. Dreams usually help me work through sticky scenes, Janet, but Iffy pulls things out of her...well, odd places. I find myself scratching my head and wondering where the heck that came from!

      (And silly blogger is like wordpress--can't do fancy html in the titles. "Find" was supposed to have a strike through because I was being all clever and stuff. *rolls eyes*)

    2. Sorry about that, Silver. I couldn't put it in the post title, but I thought I had the strikethrough on your heading. Fixed now.

  2. Great post!

    Love that you found your inspiration in a cup of coffee -- how appropriate!

    My inspiration finds me in the shower, while I'm driving, or when I'm in a room full of people I "should" be talking to -- basically whenever it's most inconvenient.

    1. Coffee is your friend, just sayin'... ;)

      When I'm stuck, I'll grab a hot shower and can usually find the solution. There are times I wish I had "tile chalk" so I could make notes. LOL And yeah, I've been known to "pause" a conversation so I can scramble for a piece of paper and a pen to scribble a thought down. If it's more than a scrap, I've been known to write a whole scene. I can be rude like that. ;)

  3. You know what works in the shower (or on your mirror)? Dry Erase markers...if you can find a dry place to write on the tile.

    1. Oooh! But...the operative word is DRY! LOL I like my showers HOT so the humidity in the bathroom is like a steam bath.

      There are some like bath crayons for kids that might work. I should look for those. :D

    2. I just saw these Aqua Notes things at Amazon:

  4. Those are cool! But I'm a little disturbed by the fact that there's a "used" one for sale... Seems a bit skeevy. LOL


Share your wisdom.