Tag Archives: inspiration

Hobbies for Your Characters – Writers’ Resources

Just as a quirk can make your character more interesting, so can their hobbies! Having a hobby gives your character something to do, whether they stumble into the craft shop and discover a murderer or build model planes while discussing their crumbing marriage. What hobbies would you add?

  • fishkeeping/aquarist
  • cross-stitching
  • knitting
  • crocheting
  • painting (oil, acrylic, watercolor)
  • spelunking
  • reading
  • playing a musical instrument
  • cryptozoology (Big Foot, anyone?)
  • history buff
  • volunteering (there are more ideas on this here)
  • hiking
  • kayaking
  • swimming
  • fishing
  • hunting
  • poetry
  • diving
  • sailing
  • sci-fi conventions
  • historical reenactment
  • crystals (either as a rock collector or in a New Age sense)
  • antiquing
  • tarot cards
  • bicycling
  • cooking or baking
  • scrapbooking
  • gardening
  • making fishing lures
  • writing
  • traveling (by boat, plane, bicycle, motorcycle, etc)
  • martial arts
  • running
  • crafts
  • playing billiards/pool
  • watching football
  • collecting (stamps, figurines, spoons, shot glasses, etc.)
  • surfing
  • sailing
  • photography
  • horseback riding
  • parasailing
  • skydiving
  • origami
  • mountain climbing
  • golf
  • gambling
  • skateboarding
  • chess
  • yoga
  • blogging

I’ll continue to add to this least, so feel free to check back! Also take a peek at the other information on my Writers’ Resources page!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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20th Century Timeline for Writers (1900-1999)

This is a work in progress as part of my Writers’ Resources page!  It’s here to give you some help or maybe just a little inspiration if you’re working on any sort of historical fiction.  You’ll find that the links open a new tab so you can come back easily.  You can also check out the 19th Century/Old West Timeline.

Have something that shoudl be added?  Leave me a comment!



Hawaii is annexed as a U.S. territory


-both the World’s Fair and the Summer Olympics are held in St. Louis


Scouting for Boys by Robert Baden-Powell is published and will begin a tradition of Scouting around the world


Ronald Reagan is born (Feb 6)


Prohibition (the 18th amendment) was passed on Jan 16.  The country wouldn’t officially go dry until Jan 17, 1920


Martin Luther King, Jr. is born (January 15)


-the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (Dec 7)


Wham-O introduces the Frisbee (Jan 23)


Hawaii becomes a state (August 21)


Cat’s Cradle (Kurt Vonnegut) is published


-the first Super Bowl is played (Jan 15)  (Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs in L.A.)


Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated (April 4)


Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut) is published


The Mary Tyler Moore Show is broadcast (until 1977)


-Stephen King publishes Carrie, his debut novel (April 5)


Ronald Reagan is elected President and is at that time the oldest person elected for the position


Madeline Albright becomes the first female Secretary of State, the highest ranking female official in U.S. history the time (Jan 23)


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5 Small Things to Inspire Your Writing

We all get stuck sometimes when it comes to writing.  It doesn’t matter if you write every day or once a week, there are times when it just gets tough.  While I can’t say that I have a cure-all for writer’s block, I do find that these really help when I’m trying to get the creative juices flowing.  What makes these really great is that they’re small and don’t take up a lot of time, so they’re easy to work into your weekly schedule.  To sweeten the deal, they’re all basically free!

5 small things

Write It Down – Record random thoughts and phrases that appeal to you.  They don’t have to make sense or necessarily be a part of story.  It might just be a string of words that sound good together, and that’s okay. Phones are great for this these days, and I specifically bought a phone with a built in stylus just for this purpose, but I think a small notebook and a pen are also particularly helpful.  You may never use the little bits that you write down, but it will encourage your brain to come up with the right phrases when you need them.

Watch People – The people around you make great characters!  Or at least they are the great foundations of characters.  Your boss might not actually be hatching evil plots behind his desk, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take certain elements of his personality or appearance and use them in your next story.  Pay attention to how people talk and move.  Observe two people from across a crowded room, where you can’t hear them, and imagine what they might be saying to each other. 

Read – Everyone says this about writing, but I think there’s a reason for that.  Reading is inspiring, educational, and builds vocabulary.  If you’re actively reading (which means paying attention to plot and sentence structure, the development of characters, etc.) then you’re learning.  You may be discovering what you do or don’t want to do in your own work, but it’s still learning.

Watch Television – Wait, did I just say that?  Sure, why not?  How many movies are made from books?  Just because it’s on a screen doesn’t mean it can’t be helpful.  As with reading, pay attention to plots and dialogue.  If there’s a particular scene you like, think about how you would write it to convey the same images you see on the show.  Interested in writing in a particular genre?  Watch movies and TV that deal with that same subject matter and look for inspiration.

Go Someplace New – I always feel particularly inspired when I travel, even though that doesn’t happen very often.  (I’m very happy at home in my yoga pants, thank you.)  But you don’t have to take a trip across the country or around the world to get your writing mojo going.  Anyplace you haven’t been to before could give you the start of a new story.  It could be a park, a store, or even a back road.

What habits have you formed that help you feel inspired?  Let me know in the comments!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.


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A Fountain of Inspiration

When I was in middle school, I dreamed of writing an amazing fantasy novel.  It had everything:  teenagers on the verge of discovering something new, dragons, and even a secret society complete with hooded robes. But when I sat down in front of the computer to write it, I never even got through the first chapter.

Twenty years later, I finally know what the problem was.  I was typing it instead of writing it.

Don’t get me wrong.  Typing is the most efficient way of doing things.  As a freelance writer, I type anywhere from 5-10,000 words per day.  I could never do that by hand.

But the inspiration for all those keyboard clicks comes from writing by hand.  When I need a new plot or character details and I sit down with a notebook, I tap into something that is completely inaccessible when I’m on the computer.  I’ve read articles before about how the process of writing by hand works well because your brain has time to keep up with your fingers.  Maybe that’s it, or maybe it’s some sort of magic voodoo that can only be cast by the spilling of ink.  I don’t know, but it works.

Of course, this all means that I am a total sucker for a good pen and a nice notebook.  Since I’m ridiculously cheap and living on an artist’s budget anyway, I settle for decent pens.  The truly nice ones are only the ones that are given to me for birthday or Christmas presents.  I like a pen that feels good in the hand and flows well, so that’s pretty much either ball point or gel.

All of that changed when I got my first iPen subscription box.  Each box includes a fountain pen (and a lot of other cool stuff, too).  While I was crazy excited to get this box, the fountain pen was the part I was seriously doubting.  Who writes with a fountain pen?  It can’t flow as nicely as a gel pen or a smoothly as a ball point, and the results are going to be impossible to read since I’m not a calligrapher.

I’m still not a calligrapher, but I was so wrong about the fountain pen.  The Wing Sung Demonstrator that came in my box doesn’t look like much, but it writes like a dream!  I had other typey-typey work I should have been doing, but instead I messed around with learning how to fill this pen so I could use it for some character creation.

The Demonstrator came with a very fine nib (that’s the pointy part where the ink comes out) and it is so amazing!  The ink flows freely and evenly, without any big splotches to make it look like some historical document.  The case of the pen is just plastic, but it’s molded nicely at the grip.  I had never filled a fountain pen before, so it took a few minutes and I got a little ink on my hands, but I’m in love.


*This post was in no way sponsored or endorsed by the iPenStore.

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A Reminder for Writers

Just a quick reminder that you should be writing. (And so should I!)


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NaNoWriMo Word Count: Zero

Hello and Happy NaNoWriMo!

Last year was the first time I attempted this great feat.  I achieved a whopping 17,000 words.  I was pretty disappointed in myself, to be honest.  I really thought I could do this.  I had a good idea for a book, and I was excited about it.  So where did I falter?  You know what?  I don’t even remember.  I just know I didn’t get it done.  I finished the book much, much later.

So I’ve had some qualms about signing up this year.  Do I really want to make this commitment and then let myself down?  Haven’t I been just so completely busy already without piling another 50k words on top?  But then again, I have another great idea for a book.  Shouldn’t I just do it?  But on the other hand, it’s already getting late in the evening and I haven’t had a chance to write a single word.  That big zero at the top of the NaNoWriMo page is not just taunting me, but making outright fun of me.

Hulu has the old Bob Ross shows now.  (Don’t worry, this is going somewhere.)  I used to absolutely ADORE this show.  I watched it all the time as a little kid.  It turns out that Bob is just as hypnotic as he was back then.  His soft, even voice makes it seem like even I could pick up a brush and a gigantic paint palette and create a beautiful scene of trees on the water.  It’s just a bunch of simple little paint techniques that don’t seem like much of anything when you look at them individually, but when you stand back and put them together they make something beautiful.

Hmmm.  That sounds like something familiar.

And Bob starts with a certain type of canvas, but he tells me I can use any kind of canvas I want.  And I don’t have to paint the happy little trees right where he puts them; that’s completely up to me.  And sometimes, he says we’re going to get a little crazy and put a few extra plants over here in the corner, and just see how they look.  It’s all just whatever I want; no big deal.

Okay, Bob.  I get it.  I can paint my own beautiful scene with my words.  They might not seem like much by themselves.  I have to stand back and look at them all together.  And it’s okay if I don’t have all of my decisions made ahead of time.  I can throw in an extra scene here or there and just see where it takes me.  No pressure.  It’s all just whatever I want; no big deal.

Time to start writing!

written on an old typewriter



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Sandwich Thoughts

Sometimes when I sit down for my writing time, it’s an amazing thing.  A couple cups of coffee and an hour later I’ve cranked out over 1,000 words and I’m deliriously excited.  Other times, the cursor just blinks blankly at me, mocking me for my lack of inspiration.

I wouldn’t be the first person to notice that great ideas come in the shower.  I’ve noticed they also come while driving, grocery shopping, or even making a sandwich.  I just wish I could get the words to flow as well during writing time as they do during anything else time.  For instance, when I’m making lunch, the little obnoxious narrator in my head will say something along the lines of, “She stacked the lunch meat atop the smattering of mayonnaise in a delicious architecture.”  The narrator jumps ship when I sit down at my computer, and when my character needs to have lunch, “She makes a sandwich.”  Great.

Where’s your favorite place to have great thoughts?



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