The Movies & TV That Made Me

Not only do books influence authors, TV and movies do as well

What inspires you to write? A book that you read that you loved? A movie scene that gave you all the feels? A song that made you pull the car over? A dream that stayed with you all day until you typed out all the details?

All of these things have happened to me and more than once. No judgments as I tell you a little bit about the TV shows and Movies that inspired my writing.

Now this one is going way back to when I was a kid. Way back to when I’d carry a beat up notebook and two pencils around with me everywhere I went. You know, just in case inspiration struck. I was ten or twelve when I discoved Are You Afraid of the Dark on Nickolodeon and I.ate.it.up. Every week I’d watch and take notes of what the episode was about. And then I’d re-enact the episode with my kid brother. And then I’d try and write something similar.

This particular episode (see right) was one of my favorites and inspired countless ghost stories. For those of you who haven’t been lucky enough to see this; the episode is about a girl who discovers a missing girl trapped within the mirror inside the empty house next door. Like …. that is genius on so many levels. That episode alone triggered a fascination with ghosts, empty and abandoned houses and cool bedrooms. I wrote stories about ghosts at baseball fields, ghosts in woods, ghosts frigging everywhere. Over twenty five years later, I wrote a story including a ghost of a friend.

I feel like you should have seen it coming that Twilight would make my list. For the record, I did not jump on this bandwagon the moment it started. In fact, I repelled it. I stayed away as long as I could. A friend brought it over one night when we were both away from our boyfriends. And that was it. I was hooked. In ways other than writing inspiration – I own and read all the books. Seen and own the movies. Watched said movies with my 9 year old.

And my favorite – I had this sticker on the back window of my car until I traded it in – well after I had my child. I had to explain it to everyone I encountered but I loved it.

As for inspiration, I wrote a YA novel after reading Twilight and it’s my longest novel ever! There are portions of the movies that I watch and giggle to myself because I know they’ve pressed upon me so much.

There have been tons of movie scenes and TV that have been an inspiration to me over the many years I’ve been writing. These are just a couple of them.

I will let you in one little secret. Again, no judgments. Favorites always seem to come back around to us, don’t they?

Last year, Nick rebooted Are You Afraid of the Dark. I watched with my kiddo and I managed to find myself yet another way to be inspired. One character inspired two entire novels! Be on the look out and see if you can figure out who he is!

Novel Plotting and Planning

How I use Microsoft One Note

Check out the video on my You Tube channel covering One Note

There are countless ways to plot and plan your novel. You can use a notebook, binder or white board if you like physically plotting. You can use any amount of online programs or apps. You can just not plot at all. The right to chose is yours.

My plotting and planning preferences have morphed over the years. From using pen and paper to what I use today – One Note.

When I really started focusing on my writing in 2005, I plotted and planned my novels by using hard cover, spiral bound notebooks. I wrote the story in pencil in the notebook as well as all plotting materials. At the end of the story, it makes kind of a scrapbook. I have these for almost every book I’ve written.

In 2018 I started using Mircosoft Excel and a USB dedicated to my writing to keep all plotting material. I’m just going to say it – I HATE Excel. With a passion. I have to use Excel in my 9-5 and it’s triggered panic attacks. I’m not kidding. But I used it for a brief minute because it was there.

At the end of 2019 I looked into One Note. Like Excel it was included in my Microsoft 365 subscription (I pay $7 a month for access to Word, Excel, One Note, etc). I hated it too. It made no sense to me at first. But I did love the idea of using tabs like in a notebook.

I forced myself to learn it, at least enough to operate it, and it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to use and navigate.

Breakwater Notebook, Amelia Tab, Personal Details Page

Breakwater is a current work in progress and has been for a few years now. It’s original plot structure was in the hated Excel so I moved it all over to One Note. I first used One Note to plot and note another work in progress throughout this Spring and Summer, Cedarwood.

Above, You can see how I created the One Note Notebook entitled Breakwater and added Tabs or Sections; Amelia (I do one tab for each main character), The Town, The Plot, Chapter Summaries and Calendars.

Each tab has it’s own set of Pages and Subpages.

These are outlines that work for me and I love them.

Below, you’ll see The Town Tab with the Inspiration Page open to show some photos that I found.

In the above, you’ll see the Plot Tab opened to the Soundtrack Page. I love keeping track of lists of songs that remind me of the story or the characters I’m working on.

Watch the You Tube video above to see a tutorial on how to set up this Breakwater Notebook and the tabs. This will be the second novel I’ve used One Note to plot and I love it!

Also, a quick add. I’ve also been using an online program called http://www.pacemaker.press for an extra, added push for plotting and planning. There is a free version and a paid version, so I can only speak to the free version, but it’s pretty cool.

I use it more to just track my daily word counts, but it’s absolutely worth a look. You can set up your goal and each day you input your progress. It gives a little confetti celebration every time you enter progress so that’s pretty cool.

If you’re a plotter or just want an easy place to store notes, ideas or web links I’d suggested getting to know and using One Note. It’s simple and fun, can be personalized and better than Excel. Just my opinion.

The Journey of Endless

Click above to see the You Tube video on my channel covering The Journey of Endless

Endless. The very first novel I wrote and self published. It’s not the first novel I ever wrote. That one we’ll discuss at a much later date. That one has it’s own terrifying history.

Back to Endless. I began writing Endless in 2005. As you know, I’ve loved writing and been writing forever but this one was different. I did research and plotted. I printed and saved so many things from the internet. I bought a huge spiral bound, hard back journal and began writing, with a pencil, my story.

Oringal Endless

I spent years on Endless, on and off. I probably finished her around 2010. I spent months writing and then months, sometimes years, not writing. For the longest time Endless lived in this notebook. (Do you want to see even more inside the Original Endless? Click Contact Me and sign up for my newsletter. You’ll get sneak peeks inside delivered right to your inbox!) Other than myself, there are three other people who have seen this version of Endless.

I wrote several of my other novels in this exact pattern – hard bound, spiral notebook with a pencil. I now call these my Novel Scrapbooks because there are so many pieces tucked and taped into these notebooks.

In 2015, I started writing more and hearing the buzz about online or self publishing. I’ll be honest. I did very little research and it shows. I went with lulu.com and I love them. I find their platform easy to use and the cost to do this is way, way low. I say I did little research because I plowed into the process like I do everything – 100 mph and no idea what I’m doing. I’ve lost count on how many versions of Endless I self published in the beginning because of flaws and mistakes I made with and in the manuscripts. Five or more maybe? That’s on me, though, not Lulu.

Endless, first few self pub versions

Flying at 100 mph leaves room for plenty of mistakes. There were tons and tons of typos, formatting issues and stuff that just made the book look like it was obviously self published. I wanted to change that but I wasn’t sure if I had the capability to do so. I let Endless sit for a few years.

In that time, I joined a local writing group and starting learning so much about my craft that it was almost embarrassing that I’d put this bad boy out there they way I had. But, we live and we learn. And we continued learning. One of the most important things I learned in this process was to know when to stop and put your baby out there.

As writers, we’re always going to be learning new things and masterning those skills so in essence our writing can change over time. A lot of people can look at their first novels and cringe or chose to see how far they’ve come. I’ve come a long way and I have a heck of a long way still to go. I’m no expert. There are rules I still don’t remember or understand. And that’s okay.

In 2018 I took the new skills I learned and re-published Endless with a flashy new cover font and sent her out again. I also started submitting Endless to traditional publishers.

As of now – the dreaded 2020 – I’ve got a folder full of sparkling rejections. I’m in the process of re-editing Endless for one final issuance before I let my baby be in the world as she is.

Sneak Peak

I could probably spend forever learning new skills and changing her over and over again, but it’s time to move forward. I love this book. It will always be extremely special to me.

I also want to mention – my self publishing journey is probably different than almost anyone else out there. I work with a minimal budget. I don’t pay for editing – I have family and friends work on it with me. I use photos taken by people I personally know for cover photos. I do all the formatting myself in Lulu. I can’t afford editors, designers or formatters. Not yet. Maybe never. So I fully understand my books will never be the high level of awesomeness that other more equiped self published authors are. That’s okay too.

I’d love to have my books in a brick and mortar Barnes and Noble, instead of just online. I’d really love my books to Lifetime movies. I’m also completely happy with having the journies that I write be out there. Someone, someday, may find them and enjoy them and that’s the coolest feeling ever.