Throwback Thursday Poems

by Kristina Ludwig
Dec 3
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: December 3, 2015 at 9:20 am

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged here, mostly because I’ve been focusing on motherhood posts for my Prego in San Diego blog–and all my other mom duties!

In fact, the idea for this blog came to me while I was writing this post about the Baby Rhyme Time sessions at our local library. I remembered how much I used to love writing poetry, and was suddenly flooded by memories of poems I’d written in the past. Here are 3 of my favorite throwbacks!

#tbt poems!

Four Seasons (age 8… and there’s also a song to go along with it LOL. You have to love the last “rhyme” too.)

Oh spring, oh summer, oh winter and fall,

Which is the best season of all?

I do not know because spring rains a lot,

And summer is wonderful, humid and hot.

In winter, it’s snowy. The snow falls all day.

In fall, leaves are falling, oh falling away.

These are the four seasons, all going around.

In the four seasons, you can’t wear a frown.

 

Roses (age 11…Deep stuff. ;)

Roses are beautiful

And symbolize love.

Their fragrant, colored petals

Bring happiness.

But yet, they have thorns

That can prick you when you touch them.

Somehow, roses remind me

A little of life.

You can be hurt by the thorns in life,

Yet, life is sweet when you prevail.

Your happiness is bright

As a pink rose petal.

 

Love-Matics (age 25…for the love of my life–number-based because he adores math. We’re still quoting the last four lines!)

When you are young you’re all alone

But having so much fun,

That it almost takes you by surprise

When you find the one.

Pretty soon, you’re one plus one

And over time you find

That this very special person

Has touched your heart and mind.

Day by day you fall in love

As on dates you go,

Learning more about each other

As your love begins to grow.

But one plus one will not last long

Your lives merge as they do,

And, before you know it,

You have become two.

Two people joined together

Are much stronger than 1 + 1,

For they have formed a union

That becomes second to none.

The lovers’ lives will intertwine

And join for eternity,

And soon, before you know it

They will form a family.

The lovers live in harmony

Each other they adore

And naturally, soon enough,

They add up to three or four.

At this time, the love will build

And you may wonder why.

It’s because as kids are born,

The love will multiply.

I’m so glad I am not one,

That we in love make two

Because I’ve never felt more delight

Than the day I fell for you.

There you have it… 3 fun throwback poems. Writers out there, do you write poetry? Have you ever revisited some of your previous work for laughs and nostalgia? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

5 Essential Tips to Turn Your Passion for Writing into a Career

by Kristina Ludwig
May 7
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: May 7, 2015 at 2:19 pm

From childhood, our parents and teachers encourage us to hold on tight to our dreams, just as the song says. However, some time between preschool and prom, many of us lose that amazing and innate child-like ability to believe we can do anything. In college, we might put aside our passions, like music, acting, or writing, to focus on some “marketable” major that will land us a “secure” (and likely immensely boring) job. After we graduate, we take said job and soon find ourselves stuck in an annoying day-to-day routine, one that leaves no time to realize our childhood dreams and passions.

In my first bestselling eBook on Amazon, Rumspringa Breakan Amish girl who wishes to become a veterinarian is told by her boyfriend, “Don’t just hold on tight to your dreams–actualize them.” This is the mantra by which I try to live my life. As a child, I had many dreams: to play Mozart for my dad on the piano, to play the flute in marching band, to become a cheerleader, to act and sing in a musical, and, most of all, to publish a book. By the time I was in high school, I’d accomplished all of these childhood fantasies except the last one. Self-publishing was not “a thing” yet, and I obviously wasn’t going to land a literary agent in high school, when my focus was split so many different ways. Besides, I was an amateur. I’d have a lot of work to do before I could become a published author.

So, I put aside that dream, instead earning my Doctor of Pharmacy degree and practicing pharmacy for 6 years. Although the field was lucrative and I enjoyed many aspects of it, I couldn’t let go of my dream of becoming a published author. I just had to do it. If I didn’t pursue my passion, I knew that I’d regret it for the rest of my life!

Here I am in my office, doing some writing!

Here I am in my office, doing some writing!

Going after your passion is hard work, and it takes guts. I’m a practical person, and I value financial stability, so I took my transition slowly. Here are five essential tips that I used when I decided to turn my passion for writing into my new career:

  1. Pursue your passion part-time first - I kept up my writing skills by journaling, and worked on my teen novel when I wasn’t at my “day job.” I also started a blog, attended writing conferences, and took advanced level writing classes to hone my skills. I worked toward my goal every day–while still keeping my full-time job for financial comfort. After a few glasses of wine, throwing your steady job away and rushing headlong after your passion might make sense, but it’s much less stressful to start pursuing your passion part-time first.
  2. Build an author platform - While I was working as a pharmacist, I began to dabble in indie publishing. I published my first teen novel on Amazon, but it barely sold any copies since I had no author platform. I realized that if I wanted to actually turn writing into a career, I would have to find my readers and sell some books! So, I became active on social media, began blogging twice a week, and hired professionals to create an author website for me. My next book, a teen short story, landed on the Amazon bestseller lists, mainly because I’d found a readership and learned to promote my work.
  3. Network, Network, Network – The indie author community is a friendly one. Since self-publishing is a relatively new field, we authors love trading tips. I attended several writers’ conferences and local meet-ups before my daughter was born. Now, I do most of my networking online. I’ve found many like-minded authors through blogs, Facebook groups, and Twitter. These contacts have been invaluable, providing me with moral support, as well as fresh ideas.
  4. Know where to look for work – If you want to make a full-time career of writing, chances are you’ll also have to do some freelancing in addition to indie publishing. TheLadders.com is a comprehensive career resource for professionals, and can assist professional writers in finding freshly-posted jobs. Also, local writers’ groups are an amazing place to meet other professionals and find out about interesting career opportunities.
  5. Evolve with the industry - Self-publishing is constantly changing, since it’s still a relatively young industry. If you want to keep doing your passion (i.e. writing and publishing books), you have to be willing to constantly change with the business. This means you must publish on multiple stores (I was exclusively on Amazon, but am now expanding to Kobo), and stay abreast of the latest trends in promotion.

So, there you have it: 5 essential tips for turning your passion for writing into a career. Writers out there, how did you pursue your passion? Aspiring writers, how are you planning to take the leap into the industry? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Reflections on a Baja California Vacay

by Kristina Ludwig
Apr 27
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: April 27, 2015 at 9:20 am

It’s so nice to return to the blog… Between writing my new eBook (Amish Shopkeeper–look for excerpts coming soon!) and mini-vacations here and there, things have been a little crazy.

Last weekend, I visited Baja California with Antonio, Xaviana, and some friends, and was super-inspired by the vibrant culture and seaside beauty. We’ve been talking about road-tripping to Mexico forever, since it’s so close to San Diego, and I’m pumped to share my random reflections with you!

Our first stop was the ocean town of Puerto Nuevo. The music of mariachis filled the air as merchants hawked their wares–everything from hats to jewelry to mini guitars. The salespeople seemed so passionate about their merchandise that everything was hard to resist, and I found myself wondering, “Do I need this random fill-in-the-blank?”

Delicious aromas of fresh coffee and sweets from the dulceria wafted out to greet us as we headed to lunch at a restaurant with a sunny rooftop dining area overlooking the glistening waters of the Pacific. The oysters, lobster, shrimp, and fish were so fresh that they tasted as though they had just been caught an hour ago, and there’s nothing like a real Mexican margarita. ;)

Afterwards, we wandered the colorful streets, stopping at an art cafe. These are fairly popular in Puerto Nuevo, and I think they’re amazing, since they combine two of my favorite things, art and coffee. We purchased a beautiful beach painting from brilliant artist Jorge Prieto B. I admired the paintings and straw art as I sipped my Mexican mocha, which was as spicy, rich, and complex as the local culture itself.

After that, we drove a bit further south to Ensenada, another beach town, and stayed in a resort there.

A shot of our resort at Estero Beach in Ensenada

A shot of our resort at Estero Beach in Ensenada

 

Ensenada is what I would call “raw”–it has some pretty sketchy areas, a stark contrast to the polished sheen of its tourist district. We had dinner under the stars, in a table overlooking the water, with the music of a nearby wedding serving as the perfect soundtrack. The next morning, we brunched at a classy restaurant with live piano music and authentic Mexican cinnamon rolls and breakfast dishes. I was in love–with the food, the ambience, and the price. I couldn’t get over how excellent the quality of food and service was for the money. If you’re looking for a supremely affordable vacay, Baja California is for you!

That afternoon, we continued to a wine tasting at Shedeh Winery. The wine country was all rolling hills and dry, dusty roads, and, like Southern California, the temperature was considerably warmer inland than by the coast. We enjoyed full-bodied, exotic red wines complemented by fresh bread and tapenade–the perfect end to the perfect mini-getaway.

At the Shedeh Winery, with special guests Xaviana and the Very Hungry Caterpillar ;)

At the Shedeh Winery, with special guests Xaviana and the Very Hungry Caterpillar ;)

After that, we drove back home, spending about an hour and a half at the border in massive lines to get back into the US. It may have been a long time, but it certainly wasn’t boring; there were tons of vendors to keep things interesting. We bought coconut-pineapple ice cream, and enjoyed our last encounter with the vivid Mexican culture–until next time, at least!

5 Random Places to Find Inspiration

by Kristina Ludwig
Jan 12
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: January 12, 2015 at 9:00 am

As writers, we have to be open to the weird and the wonderful, and inspiration often strikes in totally random places. Often, we don’t even need to search for inspiration; it finds us instead. With that in mind, here are 5 random places where you might find your next story idea!

Image courtesy of somethingoneverything.com

Image courtesy of somethingoneverything.com

  1. Vintage Stores - Writing historical fiction? Then head to your local vintage store before you slide into your desk chair. Browsing is so much fun because each item has its own unique story–and it’s up to you to find and tell it.
  2. Gyms - Your blood is pumping and the endorphins are flowing; these factors can launch your creativity into overdrive. Add to that the fact that your mind is mostly blank when you’re doing reps or running on the treadmill, and you have the ideal environment to dream up awesome new writing projects.
  3. Your Shower - Many times, you don’t even need to venture out of the bathroom for inspiration; just take a shower! Great ideas often hit when you’re sudsing up.
  4. Bed - The saying, “Sleep on it,” is so true; sleep really lends us a sense of clarity. If you’re stuck at a stubborn point in your story, “sleeping on it” is often all you need.
  5. Public Transportation - Not only do you have uninterrupted time on a bus, train, or airplane, you also have an abundance of people and conversations. Hello, people watching!

Writers out there, what is your favorite random place to find inspiration? Is there a special location that always works for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories.

NaNoWriMo Reflections

by Kristina Ludwig
Dec 1
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: December 1, 2014 at 9:31 am

At the beginning of November, I decided that I would do a type of alternative NaNoWriMo challenge. If you missed it, you can check out the blog post I wrote about it here. Basically, my goal was to finish writing Book 2 of my California Mermaids series, The Mermaid’s Wedding. However, I was projecting the word count to be between 30,000 and 35,000 (not the usual NaNoWriMo 50,000), and I’d already had a head start–I’d written the first six chapters in October before the birth of our daughter, Xaviana. I figured this “NaNoWriMo for Wimps” would be optimum for me, since I am taking care of Xaviana, and I lost a week of writing time in the beginning of the month when my parents visited. And, of course, there was the Thanksgiving holiday. All of these factors combined to create a pretty abbreviated writing month.

nano_feature

It turns out that I was right to set this modest goal. By the end of today, I will have completed my first draft of The Mermaid’s Wedding. I only have to finish the last three chapters, and I’ve mapped them out so that all I have to do is actually write them. This will be easy because the momentum is there. The book will be just under 35,000 words. Even though I’m technically finishing my modified NaNoWriMo a day late, I feel great about it!

I know that some of you commented that you liked the idea of the alternative, personalized NaNoWriMo. Writers out there, did you participate in the traditional NaNoWriMo, or are you a fan of my “NaNoWriMo for Wimps” idea? If you took the challenge, did you meet your goals? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

5 Writing Lessons Learned from Watching the VMAs

by Kristina Ludwig
Aug 25
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: August 25, 2014 at 11:27 am

Last night, Antonio and I watched the VMAs. I adore these awards shows, not only for the elaborate performances and the glamour, but, of course, for the intrigues, conflicts, and awesome surprises!

vmas

This year’s VMAs were fun to watch, and, naturally, they inspired me to write this blog post. I believe that the various forms of the arts (music, drama, literature, and visual arts) influence each other, and there are many lessons we writers can learn from the VMAs. Here are five:

  1. Sex Sells - Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” performance raised some eyebrows, with the steamy twerking and blatantly sexual costumes. In fact, parts of the routine were totally inappropriate for the large population of pre-teen viewers. But let’s face it: There’s no denying the fact that sex sells. This is the same reason that, in literature, erotica books are best sellers. I’m not advocating switching your genre to erotica if you normally write clean romances, but I’m also not judging the artists who inject a healthy dose of sex into their books or music. As a YA writer, I like to keep my books clean and uplifting, but sexy art makes the world go round. ;)
  2. Conflict Equals Drama -  Speaking of Nicki Minaj, according to several articles, the “beef” between Nicki and Iggy Azalea is over. Last night, Iggy reportedly told Nicki backstage that she did great, and Nicki said “Thank you, baby.” But Iggy’s face during Nicki’s performances seemed to tell a different story. I don’t know about anyone else, but I saw a little conflict there, and I felt like the camera people were honing in on it. And why not? After all, conflict equals drama. It hooks viewers, and in literature, it keeps readers entertained and drives the story until the end. Creating rivalries and conflicts is so essential to writing that the great teachers continually emphasize the importance of “torturing the characters.” So don’t be afraid to torture yours!
  3. When in Doubt, Add a Little Humor - The announcers at the VMAs were so funny; I found myself giggling on and off the entire time. Just as the humor balanced out the performances, wardrobe malfunctions, and little dramas, adding some “comic relief” to our writing can provide readers with much-needed reprieves from the heavier stuff.
  4. A Lot of Work Goes into a Polished Product - The VMA performers had months of rehearsals, not to mention hours of prep-time to look and feel their best on the actual day. Just as they had to work hard to make it look easy, so must we writers. Multiple drafts, professional editing, beta readers, and constant practice allow us to present our most polished products every time!
  5. Don’t be Afraid to Deviate from Your Genre–But Know When to Stick to It - I was a bit underwhelmed by Taylor Swift’s performance last night, in part because she has deviated so far from her original image as country-inspired girl with guitar. True, the artistic process is all about evolution, but fans expect some consistency as well. Taylor did not seem entirely confident with her overblown routine, and looked fairly awkward during some of the more demanding dance moves. While I give her props for evolving, I also feel as though she may have deviated too far from her genre for comfort. The same is true in writing. Many times, we find ourselves pigeon-holed into a genre that we may never have expected. I, for example, would never have guessed that I would write eleven Amazon best sellers–and counting–in the YA Amish Romance genre! And while I’m excited to try out a new genre, YA Mermaid Romances, I will continue to keep the Amish writing alive, since that is what many of my fans have come to expect and anticipate.

Writers out there, did you watch the VMAs last night? If so, did you learn any interesting lessons? I’d love to hear your random reflections!

Perplexed by Life and/or Human Nature? Turn it into a Story!

by Kristina Ludwig
Aug 4
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: August 4, 2014 at 11:14 am

One of the pieces of feedback that I receive most about my books is that the characters, situations, and feelings are believable and relatable. And there are reasons for this. First of all, I’m an avid lifelong reader, and have been exposed to various types of literature. I know how touching it is to feel for a character, so I’ve learned techniques to create reader empathy for my own characters. Also, I love to channel my characters, really becoming absorbed in their worlds. And, most of all, I am fascinated by human nature and all of its oddities, which is probably why I enjoy making up fictional characters so much in the first place.

One of the most interesting things about getting well-acquainted with new people is learning to interpret their moods, and eventually being able to guess how they will react to certain situations. That’s why, with family, significant others, and close friends, we can often predict how they’ll handle the ups and downs of life–and even sometimes what they’re thinking or about to say. This same concept applies as we get to know our fictitious characters. Even if we create character profiles detailing everything from childhood background to favorite color before we ever start writing, we still have a “getting-to-know you” period with these products of our imagination, as they develop and become more real to us.

Perplexed face courtesy of SHERV.net

Perplexed face courtesy of SHERV.net

Human nature, and life itself, is so perplexing, full of twists and turns. Even when we know people well, they can surprise us and throw us a curveball, and when we’re writing, our characters sometimes do much the same thing. Human nature can be fickle, influenced by so many factors, and sometimes, uncharacteristic behavior can be most intriguing of all. Observing it in someone you know is interesting, but creating it in your own characters can be pure magic.

The other aspect of human nature that I find incredible is evolution. This is why, in my books, I always choose to write about dynamic characters as opposed to static ones. One of the most telling parts of a person’s character is how (s)he responds to challenges in life, and how life experiences shape personality. Just as a jagged rock in the ocean wears down and becomes smooth over time from the continued bashing of the waves, so can people’s characters be molded by their good and bad experiences. Will your character become rougher and tougher when (s)he faces adversity, or smoother and more worn down? You, as the author, are in control of that. Embrace it!

Some of my most dramatic books have been written in times when I’ve been most perplexed by my own life or my relationships with those around me. Do you find this to be true in your own work? I’d love to hear your reflections and experiences!

Life is an Uphill Battle: The Elusive Journey to Success

by Kristina Ludwig
Feb 11
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: February 11, 2014 at 10:56 am

This past weekend, Antonio and I finally bought bikes! We had been talking about it for months but kept putting it off; this is basically a crime in SoCal, since almost every day is biking weather.

Naturally, we decided to celebrate our new purchases by taking them for a spin around the neighborhood, to the beach, and back. We’re not hard-core, Lance Armstrong-type cyclists; we’re just in it for fun and exercise. And believe me, I never realized how many steep, looong hills there are around us!

Biking near the beach

Biking near the beach

The most massive hill is on the main street heading toward our house. By the time we reached it, we’d ridden about 6 miles: we’d circled the beach, cruised up and down hills, and looped by the outlet malls. So, of course, we were pretty tired. The last hill was a steep and steady workout: almost a whole mile of constant incline. We were ready to pass out, but we pressed on, motivated by the prospect of going home and immersing ourselves in the bubbling waters of the hot tub.

We only took one break, and that was to snap some pictures by this even steeper hill. For those of you who are Facebook fans, you may recognize this picture from yesterday’s Motivation Monday post.

Antonio's "uphill battle" picture

Antonio’s “uphill battle” picture

When he saw this picture, Antonio said, “Life is an uphill battle,” and he meant it in the best possible way. In order to rise to new heights and challenge ourselves to accomplish things we never thought possible, we have to fight daily battles and commit ourselves to continuous improvement. And, just like our first bike ride around Carlsbad, there will be moments of exhaustion and doubt, but the key is to keep pushing. If we do, we’ve truly earned the right to soak our tired muscles in that cozy hot tub.

I was surprised how much our “uphill battle” on the bikes reminded me of my daily commitment to writing ever since I became serious about it in October 2012. It has been an uphill battle, especially at the beginning, as I learned new skills, built my platform, and fought to make time for writing with my crazy schedule of travel and working as a pharmacist. And now that I’ve been writing full-time for 5 months, the battle continues. There’s a lot more pressure to succeed when you’re focusing on something full-time; I’m feeling it, and working to evolve as a writer and a person everyday.

Readers and writers out there, what is your “uphill battle?” How are you able to rise to the challenge? And what is your favorite “reward” when you accomplish your goals?

Book or Movie: Which Do YOU Like Better?

by Kristina Ludwig
Jan 20
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: January 20, 2014 at 9:07 am

It’s an age-old debate, but one that never seems to get tired: When we read a book and then watch the movie based on it, we always ask each other or at least ourselves, “Which did you like better, the book or the movie?”

Book and movie

A lot of people say, “Oh, the book was so much better!” And why is that? My guess would be because books allow readers to use their imaginations to fill in the details of the scenes and characters. Reading the book is more of an active process that engages the mind, while watching the movie is a more passive one. As a result, readers have certain expectations of how the characters will appear and how the plot will unfold, and because everyone’s imagination works differently, many people will be disappointed in the way the movie represents the book. Think about how many times you’ve heard people say, “Why did they pick so -and-so to play that part? That wasn’t how I visualized him at all!”

Also, many movies fail to pick up on the subtle undertones and themes that permeated the books. “The Wizard of Oz” book, for example, was written as a political satire, but the movie portrays a more lighthearted version of the story, focused on beautiful images and dramatic action. Another example is “The Hunger Games” series. The movies capture some of the political themes of the books, but miss out on other important ones. As riveting as the movies are, the books have more depth and dimension.

However, some people prefer the movies to the books because they are more visual people and enjoy seeing the action unfolding before their eyes instead of reading about it. Another reason why some prefer movies to books is because the act of watching a movie, especially in a theater, is more of a social one, while reading a book is more of a solitary activity. And finally, some prefer the movie to the book because it’s fairly magical to watch the book they read come to life. In fact, I think that’s why we all want to watch the movies of our favorite books, even if we insist we always like the books better.

I love both the books and the movies, for all of the above reasons. Sometimes, I’m just in the mood for a movie, while other times I want to lose myself in a good book. I enjoy comparing the book and the movie, and eagerly anticipate the interesting new twists that Hollywood screenwriters sometimes incorporate into the movies.

Which do you prefer, the book or the movie, and why?

 

Reflections on a Holiday in Lebanon

by Kristina Ludwig
Jan 9
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: January 9, 2014 at 11:01 am

Remember when you were in elementary school, and you missed class to go on an “educational trip?” And then, when you came back, your teacher asked you to write all about it, just to make sure you’d learned something?

Back in the day, this felt wrong to me. My elementary school brain was like, “What? I just got back from vacation and have all this catch-up work, and now the teacher is giving me even more work?”

But now I realize it’s a helpful exercise, and that’s why I looove blogging about my reflections after I return from various trips. Call me a nerd, but I actually get excited to do it. After my vacay, I’m excited to get back to work!

My holiday in Lebanon was extremely restful…perhaps too restful (check out my recent blog post about dreams if you don’t believe me:) I enjoyed the gracious hospitality of my in-laws, who not only let us stay in their private downstairs guest suite, they also threw two parties to celebrate our wedding and Antonio’s birthday. And just to make our stay even better, Antonio’s mom cooks the most phenomenal Lebanese food I’ve ever tasted!

At a Lebanese Christmas party with my sisters-in-law, Aline and Danielle.

At a Lebanese Christmas party with my sisters-in-law, Aline and Danielle.

Because of the gut-wrenching Middle East situation and the perceived danger of visiting, Lebanon is not considered a tourist destination. That’s a shame because it is a truly unique and amazing place. The night scene is full of super-fun bar/lounge/club areas, like Jounieh and Uruguay Street, and the late-night dining is second to none. The night life is especially vibrant during the holiday season, when twenty- and thirtysomethings who work in other countries return “home” to celebrate.

 

Dancing the night away at Club Mad, part of Lebanon's night scene.

Dancing the night away at Club Mad, part of Lebanon’s night scene.

There are also plenty of nature activities: gorgeous, paradise-like beaches, awe-inspiring caves, hiking trails, and acres of forests. The snow-capped mountains are so breathtaking that they hardly look real, especially at sunset. And there’s even Faraya, the fun ski resort community where we spent New Year’s Eve at our friends’ chalet. I know what you’re thinking…skiing? In the Middle East? Not exactly what I’d pictured, either.

The people I met in Lebanon were friendly, and most were able to speak three languages, English, Arabic, and French. The food is fresh, and so packed with super-nutrients that I fought off the yucky cold I’d picked up in three days flat! The Lebanese cook with healthy olive oil and lemon, and definitely get their recommended dietary allowance of fruits and vegetables. My personal favorite exotic fruit was “ashta,” a sweet and succulent delicacy that I practically inhaled.

Ashta, my Lebanese fruit obsession.

Ashta, my Lebanese fruit obsession.

By the end of my holiday getaway, I’d immersed myself in this intriguing culture, and I’d even picked up some Arabic. My brain was swimming with words, and, strangely, I’d think of random Arabic phrases either at night after a few drinks or the next day when I woke up. Interesting how the brain works.

During my stay in Lebanon, I was desperately trying to complete Mercy’s Fall, my Amish fiction novella, but I was completely uninspired. I was fed up with myself until I realized that I couldn’t possibly think or write about the Amish when I was in this fascinating, relatively new (to me) foreign land. So, I focused on drinking in the unusual experiences and journaling, and two totally new story ideas came to me: the dream YA novel from my previous entry and a YA novel about a Lebanese-American girl discovering herself in her family’s ancient homeland. And on the flight home, my imagination was so ignited that I returned to Mercy’s Fall and finished writing it in two days!

The trip back to California was a long one (thirty hours to be exact, through Moscow, where it was dark until 10 AM), but now that I’m back, I’m feeling rested. The getaway was just what I needed. It broadened my horizons, and also made me thankful for the fast internet we have in the U.S. :)

Are you more inspired after you return from a particularly stimulating vacation? What kind of inspiration do you find in other countries, or even new cities in your own homeland? I’d love to hear your thoughts!