“How do you know what to write?”

I am asked this all the time. I’m sure all writers do. Whether it’s story ideas for Upstate Parent or story lines for book characters, I truly draw inspiration from my own experiences.


In an upcoming short story about Kate and the Grit Girls, I was inspired by a trip I just took with some girlfriends of mine. I came up with a fictitious situation and the words just flowed from there.

For Upstate Parent, I write about what I’m most passionate about – adoption, food allergies, fun activities, and more. I have one son who adore cooking with me, so I did an article recently about cooking with children in the kitchen.

We don’t always write what we know, though. In one book I hope to publish down the road, my main character lives in New Orleans in 1915. I’ve never been to New Orleans and I certainly wasn’t around in 1915. I drew inspiration from photos from the place and time, from the early days of jazz music, and from reading non-fiction accounts of that setting.

Another book I’ve been working on is based on the Biblical account of the Woman at the Well and her meeting with Jesus. We learn so little about her, so it was fun to modernize her (to the 1990s!) and imagine what her life was like.

For War Torn Heart, I was inspired by my Alma Mater – Clemson University. Clemson has a very rich military history and nearly all of the class of 1943 left college to fight in the war. When I worked for a different newspaper almost 15 years ago, I visited a small town just up the road from Clemson that seemed so quaint and simple. That became the home of protagonist Abby.

A certain photograph, phrase, song, or scripture can inspire a writer. A moment in time, a person, or even a dream can bring an entire story to life. As a writer, I only hope I can get it all written down before it leaves my mind.


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