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Everyone loves a good story. In fact, telling stories is an effective way to connect with any audience. It doesn’t matter if you’re teaching a class, writing a blog post, or recording a podcast. The art of storytelling should be a large part of your content creation because it’s an excellent marketing strategy. The tough part is coming up with these stories in the first place. If you read on, you’ll find seven tip to keep the ideas flowing so you’ll have just the right one for any situation.
Share A Recent Encounter
We “walk past” – via social media and real life – numerous story ideas every day. Stories happy to you and all around you. In order to harness these ideas, think about who you’ve spoken to recently, what you’ve been up , or who you’ve encountered either online or in person. Now, think about how you can tie that into a blog post or email you need to write.
A Past Conversation
Even the most inconsequential conversation can have an effect on the rest of your day. A brief chat shared with a stranger while standing in line, or even the snippet of an online conversation in the comment section of a post. Is there something you can use from that to create a story? Without giving away too many personal details, you can use the essence of that conversation to impart a message to your readers.
Stories from our childhood often shape who we are today. Is there a childhood memory you can tie into current events or circumstances? There’s bonus points if the memory from your childhood equipped you to get through a current situation. Readers enjoy connecting through shared memories.
Pay Attention to Your Environment
This morning, it was extra quiet around my neighborhood and I was surprised to be able to tune my ears in to hear so many distinct bird calls. I was able to pick out a cardinal and a blue jay, as well as the busy chattering of a squirrel. In addition, I was also able to hear a telephone conversation my neighbor was having about picking up groceries and taking them to a shut-in relative. While I wouldn’t use that specific story for my audience, her conversation reminded me how important it is to help out those who may not be able to help themselves.
Take Notes in the Moment
As a writer, I am always on the alert for a good story. Unfortunately, there are so many things to remember on a regular basis, that it’s hard to keep all those ideas in your brain. So, as not to forget those juicy storytelling ideas, either jot them down with the old-fashioned pen/pad combination or use the notes app on your phone. You’ll thank yourself later, I promise.
Have Meaningful Conversations
I have three children, and when they’d come home from school, I’d make a point of sitting down with them and chatting about their day. You’d be surprised at the drama going on within the walls of the school: and I’m not just talking about the students. Children can be quite astute, and they pick up on the gossip of teachers. I’ve heard about unplanned pregnancies, spats between teachers, and what teacher got called the principal’s office and why! So many stories, so little time.
Another good way to get people to pay attention to your stories is to surprise them. Hook your readers by connecting two seemingly unconnected things, such as, “How training my dog to fetch helped increase my wordcount by a thousand word per day”. That’s right! That’s an eye- catching title, isn’t it? I almost wish it were true. It’s a good example of how skills sets can transfer from one event to another, and would make a great story.
It’s so easy to lose one’s creativity when under stress. Sometimes you may feel the well has run dry and you can’t squeeze out one more story. But storytelling connects us as humans. Everyone loves a good campfire tale. This is why you need to keep your radar up for story ideas.
Until next time,
If you are struggling to focus on work with everything going on around us, you are certainly not alone. Even those of us who are used to working from home are experiencing a new normal with the current conditions.
Trying to keep up a regular routine through stressful times isn’t an easy task by any means. In reality,it can be nearly impossible. Between the news, social media, and casual conversations, the information you receive, can fill your mind with fear and anxiety.
If you’re struggling right now, I hope to offer you some tips which may help with the process. Let’s take a look at some effective ways to work through stress and uncertainty.
Establish a Routine
If you’re used to going out to an office or worksite every day, communicating with co-workers in person, and having coversations during coffee breaks and office parites, working solo from home can feel quite strange. Your only connection is virtual, either through a video conference, through email, or over the phone.
It might be difficult to establish your own routine when you are the only one in the “office”. Perhaps you are used to taking cues from others or working in with a team on projects. Now that you’re flying solo, creating a schedule is the first step to working in this new normal.
Set a time where you wake up and work. Prepare a breakfast (if you eat breakfast) the night before, or start your day with a beverage and reflection. Having a hot cup of tea or coffee while going over the tasks you want to accomplish for the day will go a long way toward moving yourself into the right mindset for getting things done.
Schedule in breaks during the day and establish a set time for stopping work. This last is important because it can be easy just to do “one more task”. Instead, close out your “work day” and ease yourself into “home life”, even if that means simply walking into the next room. Perhaps play a favorite song to signify the transition.
Be Grateful and Mindful
Practicing simple gratitude can make a difference in your mindset for the day. Write a list of the things you are grateful for. Even the small things can certainly boost your mood. Pin the list up somewhere easily visibly and try to refer to it when you feel your mood lagging.
While it may sound new-agey, focusing on the things you’re grateful for, you can train your brain to think in a more positive matter. In turn, that will switch your focus from the negative things going on right now, to the good things going on in your life.
Find and Use Available Support
One of the brighter spots in this situation is that you’re not the only one who’s being impacted. Most, if not all of the people around you are in the same boat. This means, there’s a lot of support available.
You might spend more time connecting with friends and family without the pressure of running here and there to distract you. Or you can connect with others over social media or other online support channels.
Financial support is available too. If you’re struggling with finances, don’t hesitate to reach out to your bank or utility companies. Many of them have programs in place to assist their customers.
Emotional support is important. Seek out support from a trained therapist via telephone or online. If you do not have insurance, payment plans will surely be available.
Put Self-Care First
We’ve all heard the proverb “You cannot pour from an empty vessel”. It’s so true. You can’t give support o if you don’t support yourself. Focus on self-care in these trying time. Learn to say no. Prioritize or delegate tasks. You can’t do everything.
Practicing self-care doesn’t always mean chocolate and streaming movies. In fact, becoming less active can be detrimental to both your physical and emotional well-being. What you should do, however, is balance the “veg-out” with the “work-out”.
Exercising on a regular basis is an effective way to deal with stress. Yoga, lifting weights, or even walking around your house will get your blood moving and your brain into high gear. I remember reading an article about a grandmother who lived in an apartment and wanted to lose weight. She didn’t feel comfortable going outside and walking, so instead she walked circuits around her apartment and got her steps in that way. These things can be done. You just have to use your imagination. There are online videos and programs you can access for free.
Focus on things which relax you, such as breathing exercises, meditation, or simply sitting and being in the moment. Make practicing self-care a habit, and your stress level will certainly reduce.
Granted, it’s difficult not to stress out when we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. The uncertainty about supplies, personal health, and finances can lead to sleepless nights and worrying. However, the tips I gave you can help you manage your emotions and keep them from getting out of control. The first thing to remember is to be kind to yourself and keep your expectations at a reasonable level as you transition into this new phase of your working life.
Are you a last minute shopper? Do you not like waiting for things to arrive on your doorstep? Who doesn’t like instant gratification every once in a while?
Most of us have writers in their lives, heck, I am one. I know it’s hard to shop for us, because most of the time we’re hidden away in our caves. However, I’m here to assist you in getting a quick and dirty gift for your writer-loves.
Please, be aware that your writer (or you) must have access to a Kindle or E-Book reader app to take advantage of these gifts. Once you get to the buy page, look underneath the “One Click” button and you will see “Buy for Others” . Clicking this button will allow you to purchase these digital books for others.
Disclaimer: Please note, this post contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission when you purchase through these links.
I absolutely love this book. The entire book is a reference list as to how to describe emotions and how certain emotional issues your characters may have are expressed in their actions. Just reading the book can spark ideas that you probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
Click below to gift writer-love this gem of a reference book.
Next up is 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love….and who doesn’t want that? This is a little book I discovered when I was looking for a way write faster. If you have ideas on where you think your story may go, but when you sit down at the keyboard or with your journal, you feel stagnated, try this book. In addition, any writer will appreciate some tips and tricks on how to write faster, and at 2.99, it’s an inexpensive gift that keeps on giving.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Doesn’t really matter, does it, as long as you’re getting those words down on paper. The key to writing and keeping on writing is to understand and internalize the essence of story structure and world-building. This book: Plot Gardening: Write Faster, Write Smarter by Chris Fox can give you the tools to kick your writing up a level. Click below to purchase:
Any romance writers in your life? Do you want to become a romance writer? Not only should you be reading in your genre, but picking up Gwen Hayes’ Romancing the Beat, will definitely help you get those romance beats just right. She even dissects one of her own stories as an example, and the eighties song references add some fun to the book.
Click below to purchase/gift:
At 99 cents (at the time of this blog post, please check prices before you click), Libbie Hawker’s “Take Off Your Pants” is both a fun and informative read. Learn how to create a character arc, plot, theme, antagonists and allies for your book, no matter the genre.
There you go! Don’t worry if you’ve waited until the last minute. These digital gifts are high in content and information. I’m sure your writer-love (or you) will use these book way beyond the holidays.
Until next time,
‘Tis the season, isn’t it? When the last day of the year rolls around, many of us around the globe think about gift-giving, gift-receiving, and the joy of the holidays. It can be such a warm and fuzzy time of year, and I hope you enjoy every moment of it you can.
I’m the kind of person who likes to give gifts because I enjoy seeing the surprise (and hopefully delight) on the other person’s face when they open the gift I selected especially for them. But that’s just me. It might also be that I enjoy shopping…..but we won’t talk about that right now!
Writers can be difficult to buy for. Besides the requisite pens and journals, maybe you want to be a little more creative for your writer-in-residence. Well, as a writer myself, I picked out a few choice gifts which will make your writer friend smile…..a change from our usual dour expression. (It’s not personal folks, it’s just the writing life.)
Please note, this post contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission when you purchase through these links.
First, we writers need something to wear. Yes, we might be satisfied to lounge around in an old hoodie and our favorite jeans, but this shirt will not only give us something new to wear, but a brand new outlook on life. Yes, we write and we also know things. Too many things:
The next gift on the list is a classic. A writer looks for inspiration in daily things, whether it be nature, television, or even the progress of the microwave as it reheats a cup of coffee for the millionth time. Stephen King is a prolific writer, world-famous, etc, but it’s nice to read about his thoughts on writing years ago. If your writer doesn’t already have this book , then they should.
Writer’s Block. If you’ve been within fifty feet of a writer, you’ll know the term writer’s block. Fact is, it’s been a virus around the writing community for years, and no one has been able to cure it. However, this awesome little card set just might do the trick. At least, your writer can add it to their arsenal of weapons.
This is one of my favorite gifts, and if no one buys it for me, I’m going to pick it up for myself. While I am a coffee drinker by rule, I have nothing against a steaming hot cup of tea. It make me feel super classy and if you get these teas with literary quotes, you’ll feel like a high-class author too!
Like some sort of prehistoric beast, we hunch over our keyboard or journals, typing/scribbling words as fast as our feverish minds can churn the stuff out. No interruptions, please! Or our creative flow may come to a screeching halt. Try this on for size:
I have a lot of pencils. Pens. Markers. Highlighters. And I’m sure a lot of writers out there have the same overflow of writing implements. It’s just that we’re all in search of the magic pen which will make the words flow. Shhhh! Don’t tell us it’s a myth. While we search, in the meantime, we can store our pens in this:
This one is a wee bit over the twenty dollar limit, but it was so cool, I had to include it. I’m a bit of a sucker for inspirational art….I don’t like it too cheesy, but this is a print that is great to stare at while my brain raced to fill in the next paragraph, or sentence, or word.
Happy shopping and if you’re a writer reading this, don’t be afraid to treat yourself!
Everyone’s got a favorite horror movie. But, I think you would agree, the ideas have to come from somewhere. Many of these movies are based on or strongly influenced by books. Let’s take a look.
The Collector – John Fowles
Film Adaptation starring Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar, 1965.
While this may be more of a thriller than a horror, meh, this is a personal favorite of mine and will be included on the list.
From Amazon: Hailed as the first modern psychological thriller, The Collector is the internationally bestselling novel that catapulted John Fowles into the front rank of contemporary novelists. This tale of obsessive love–the story of a lonely clerk who collects butterflies and of the beautiful young art student who is his ultimate quarry–remains unparalleled in its power to startle and mesmerize.
Burnt Offerings – Robert Marasco
Film Adaptation: 1976
This is one of the first horror movies I’ve ever seen and Bette Davis was in it too!
From Amazon: Ben and Marian Rolfe are desperate to escape a stifling summer in their tiny Brooklyn apartment, so when they get the chance to rent a mansion in upstate New York for the entire summer for only $900, it’s an offer that’s too good to refuse. There’s only one catch: behind a strange and intricately carved door in a distant wing of the house lives elderly Mrs. Allardyce, and the Rolfes will be responsible for preparing her meals.
Jaws – Peter Benchley
Film Adaptation: 1975
“Smile, you son of a bitch!”
Gosh, how many times have I seen this? Too many. I read the book as a teenager, back in the 80s, after having seen the film. The book offers a different slant, concentrating on a lot of soapy stuff between Mrs. Brody and Hooper, but it’s still a keeper.
From Booklist: This novel about a rogue shark that terrorizes a beach community hasn’t aged a day since its publication more than 35 years ago. Benchley’s writing is lean and efficient—this is his first novel, and also by far his best—and the story is a solid mixture of small-town politics, mystery, and outright terror. The author positions his protagonist, police chief Martin Brody, as virtually the lone voice of reason in a town filled with people who want to downplay the shark’s presence (so as not to scare away tourists with their bulging wallets); and when the body count starts to rise, it’s Brody who has to find a way to kill the beast, even if it means putting his own life on the line.
The familiar characters—Brody, oceanographer Matt Hooper, shark-hunter Quint—are not as likable as they are in Steven Spielberg’s classic film adaptation, but in the context of the novel, they are well drawn and compelling. Those who are familiar with the movie, but not the book, are in for some surprises, and those who read the book way back when should definitely give it another look.
A Stir of Echoes – Richard Matheson
Film adaptation: 1999 as Stir of Echoes
Richard Matheson’s first entry on this list is a heck of a thriller written on 1958. Granted, the story is dated, and some of the “morals” aren’t as strong as they are today, but the book is still a good ride. The film version updates the core issue quite a bit, and is a great starring vehicle for Kevin Bacon.
From Amazon: Tom Wallace lived an ordinary life, until a chance event awakened psychic abilities he never knew he possessed. Now he’s hearing the private thoughts of the people around him-and learning shocking secrets he never wanted to know. But as Tom’s existence becomes a waking nightmare, even greater jolts are in store as he becomes the unwilling recipient of a compelling message from beyond the grave!
The Stepford Wives – Ira Levin
Film adaptations: 1975, 2004
“I thought you were my friend…I thought you were my friend…”
Written by Ira Levin, this sci-fi/horror mash-up had a concept that most are familiar with. Again, the book itself is dated, but the writing packs a good punch that keeps you reading, even though you probably already know the twist. Sometimes it’s the journey, not the destination. It was made into two film adaptations, one in 1975 and in 2004. The 1975 is far superior in its execution and also has no Matthew Broderick.
From Amazon: For Joanna, her husband, Walter, and their children, the move to beautiful Stepford seems almost too good to be true. It is. For behind the town’s idyllic facade lies a terrible secret — a secret so shattering that no one who encounters it will ever be the same.
The Sentinel – Jeffrey Kovitz
Film adaptation: The Sentinel, 1977
This is one of the books I haven’t read, so I cannot offer personal commentary.
From Amazon: Jeffrey Konvitz’s New York Times–bestselling horror novel about a young woman descending into demonic madness who discovers it’s not simply in her mind.
Aspiring model Allison Parker finally moves into her dream apartment: a brownstone on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. But her perfect home quickly turns hellish.
The building is filled with a cast of sinister tenants, including a reclusive blind priest, who seems to watch her day and night through an upstairs window. Eventually, Allison starts hearing strange noises from the empty apartment above hers. Before long, she uncovers the building’s demonic secret and is plunged into a nightmare of sinful misdeeds and boundless evil.
Let Me In – John Ajvide Lindqvist
Film adaptations: Let the Right One In (2008), Let Me In (2010)
This too, I have neither seen nor read.
From Amazon: It is autumn 1981 when inconceivable horror comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenager is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last—revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.
But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door—a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night.
The Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris
Film adaptation: 1991
“I’m having an old friend for dinner….”
Of course, you know this one and it’s kind of caught between thriller and horror. I judge it….mash up. Both chilling and entertaining, the reader finds themselves drawn to Lector’s suave, cultured personality while at the same time repulsed by his killer/cannibal ways. It’s a great read and adds layers to the film.
From Amazon: A serial murderer known only by a grotesquely apt nickname–Buffalo Bill–is stalking women. He has a purpose, but no one can fathom it, for the bodies are discovered in different states. Clarice Starling, a young trainee at the FBI Academy, is surprised to be summoned by Jack Crawford, chief of the Bureau’s Behavioral Science section. Her assignment: to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter–Hannibal the Cannibal–who is kept under close watch in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.
I Am Legend – Richard Matheson
Film Adapations: : The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971), I Am Legend (2007), and direct-to-video I Am Omega (2007).
This author was prolific, to say the least. I purchased an anthology of his stories a while back and realize most of them were Twilight Zone episodes. This is his second entry on the list, and I believe the one that was adapted into the most fillm.
From Amazon: Robert Neville has witnessed the end of the world. The entire population has been obliterated by a vampire virus. Somehow, Neville survived. He must now struggle to make sense of everything that has happened and learn to protect himself against the vampires who hunt him constantly. He must, because perhaps there is nothing else human left.
Falling Angel – William Hjortsberg
Film Adaptation: Angel Heart 1987
“I gotta thing about chickens.”
Interesting movie, stands out because of Robert DeNiro’s performance as a mysterious Louis Cyphre.
From Amazon: Big-band frontman Johnny Favorite was singing for the troops when a Luftwaffe fighter squadron strafed the bandstand, killing the crowd and leaving the singer near death. The army returned him to a private hospital in upstate New York, leaving him to live out his days as a vegetable while the world forgot him. But Louis Cyphre never forgets.
Cyphre had a contract with the singer, stipulating payment upon Johnny’s death—payment that will be denied as long as Johnny clings to life. When Cyphre hires private investigator Harry Angel to find Johnny at the hospital, Angel learns that the singer has disappeared. It is no ordinary missing-person’s case. Everyone he questions dies soon after, as Angel’s investigation ensnares him in a bizarre tangle of black magic, carnival freaks, and grisly voodoo. When the sinister Louis Cyphre begins appearing in Angel’s dreams, the detective fears for his life, his sanity, and his soul.
Duel – Richard Matheson
TV Movie adaptation – 1971
As you can tell, I am kind of a Richard Matheson junkie, but I’ll be brief.
Man in car vs. Evil 18 wheeler
Psycho – Robert Bloch
“A boy’s best friend is his mother.”
Film Adaptation: 1960
Classic. What more can be said about this one?
From Amazon: Norman Bates loves his Mother. She has been dead for the past twenty years, or so people think. Norman knows better though. He has lived with Mother ever since leaving the hospital in the old house up on the hill above the Bates motel. One night Norman spies on a beautiful woman that checks into the hotel as she undresses. Norman can’t help but spy on her. Mother is there though. She is there to protect Norman from his filthy thoughts. She is there to protect him with her butcher knife.
The Birds and Don’t Look Now – Daphne DuMaurier
Film Adaptations: The Birds – 1963
Don’t Look Now – 1973
Two separate titles made into two very good film adaptations.
Don’t Look Now is the story of a husband and wife grieving from the loss of a child while in Venice.
The Birds – well, basically, they get theirs.
These are short stories (novelettes?) rather than full blown novels. Still they offer a quick read with a big punch.
The Hellbound Heart and The Forbidden– Clive Barker
Film adaptations: Hellraiser (1987) and Candyman (1992) respectively.
The Hellbound Heart focuses on a mystical puzzle box and the horror it wreaks on a family that is unfortunate enough to come across it.
The Forbidden is about a university student named Helen is doing a thesis on graffiti, and selects a run-down estate to focus her study. She notices disturbing graffiti in an abandoned building that makes references to some sort of mythical figure known as the Candyman. Further enquiries lead her to believe this is connected with recent murders and mutilations in the neighbourhood, although the locals are seemingly reluctant to discuss the incidents. She eventually encounters the Candyman himself, gaining notoriety by becoming his latest victim.
Herbert West: Reanimator, The Dunwich Horror, From Beyond – H. P. Lovecraft
Film adaptations: Reanimator (1985), The Dunwich Horror (1970), From Beyond (1986) respectively
Herbert West: Reanimator
From Goodreads: “Herbert West: Reanimator” is a short story by American horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft. It was written between October 1921 and June 1922. It was first serialized in February through July 1922 in the amateur publication Home Brew. The story was the basis of the 1985 horror film Re-Animator and its sequels, in addition to numerous other adaptations in various media.
The story is the first to mention Lovecraft’s fictional Miskatonic University. It is also notable as one of the first depictions of zombies, as corpses arising, through scientific means, as animalistic, and uncontrollably violent creatures.
The Dunwich Horror:
From Wikipedia: Written in 1928, it was first published in the April 1929 issue of Weird Tales (pp. 481–508). It takes place in Dunwich, a fictional town in Massachusetts. It is considered one of the core stories of the Cthulhu Mythos. “The Dunwich Horror” is one of the few tales Lovecraft wrote wherein the heroes successfully defeat the antagonistic entity or monster of the story.
From Wikipedia: The story is told from the first person perspective of an unnamed narrator and details his experiences with a scientist named Crawford Tillinghast. Tillinghast creates an electronic device that emits a resonance wave, which stimulates an affected person’s pineal gland, thereby allowing them to perceive planes of existence outside the scope of accepted reality.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, nor is the graphic meant to do any more than to augment the article. So, show me what you got. What are some of your horror movies that were influenced by books. And, which did you think was better – the book or the movie? Throw your thoughts in the comments.