Getting inspired in uninspiring times

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Monday musings by the bestselling

by Raine Thomas

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

The world is changing moment by moment, but if you’re like me and still homebound due to COVID-19, you might feel like every day is the same. I’ve begun to understand with far too much clarity why Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day slowly lost his mind. This repetitive lifestyle can be stifling!

For a writer, inspiration is critical. It’s what helps us sit in front of our computers for hours on end writing stories and developing characters. When those creative juices aren’t flowing, the work comes to a grinding halt. So how does one find inspiration in the uninspiring?

The great news is that most of us have access to inspiration everywhere, even within the confines of our homes. We can find it within the pages of books and magazines, while listening to the lyrics of the latest hits on the radio, by engaging in conversations with our family members and friends, and scrolling through social media. We can even open our windows and look outside for a change—unless, like me, you live in Florida where it rains nearly every day between May and November.

I, of course, have to mention movies and television as sources of inspiration. I’ve been researching sports and athletes for future story ideas, but with all professional sports currently on a COVID hiatus, I’ve had to get creative to find the inspiration I need. Hello, YouTube! Amidst my family’s constant eye-rolling, I’ve watched hours of sports highlights and fails over the past couple months.

Sometimes, we can even find inspiration within ourselves. My upcoming release, For the Win, is a baseball romance. I started the basic outline of the book years ago. Even the book cover has been done for a couple years, just waiting for inspiration to strike. My other writing projects ended up taking precedence, however.

Until COVID hit.

It seems having my hours cut in my full-time event planning job finally gave me the kickstart to write this story. It was like the characters woke up from a deep sleep and all started talking to me at once. I finished the first draft in five weeks, and with all humility aside, it’s already become one of my favorite books I’ve ever written. The beta feedback has been incredible! It makes me wonder why it took so long for that inspiration to strike.

My advice? If you’re struggling to find inspiration through some of the ways I mentioned above, dig through your archives. You’re bound to have first drafts of projects you started and never finished. Dust them off, give them a review, and see if one of them finally speak to you. You might have a future hit on your hands!

These times are unpredictable, my friends. Let’s use that to our advantage. Find inspiration wherever you can and use it to make some magic in this crazy world of ours!

Raine Thomas

Raine Thomas, new adult, young adult and romance

Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine has signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen.

She’s a proud indie author who is living the dream. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Get to know Raine on her

And follow her on Twitter @Raine_Thomas.

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For the Win

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An exciting excerpt from the upcoming new romance by the bestselling author

Raine Thomas

It didn’t take long to get to their destination. Will had given the driver an address a few blocks from his house. It was a safety measure his father had suggested years ago when Will first started living on his own. There had been several times when the advice had saved his ass, especially once he started getting more well-known.

They pulled up to the curb in front of the dark dwelling belonging to the incorrect address. “Nice neighborhood,” the driver observed as he entered their arrival into his app.

Will finished entering a tip amount in the app on his own phone, knowing he’d likely forget otherwise. “Yeah, it’s quiet,” he said as he reached for his door handle. “Thanks for the ride.”

“Hey, wait…can I get your autograph?”

Although Will wanted nothing more than to get out of the car and into the crisp December air, he obliged the driver by signing a couple of greasy napkins that looked as though they were the source of the cheeseburger smell. He signed one for the driver and one, he was told, for the driver’s son, then made his escape.

He focused on his phone and pretended to get absorbed in responding to a text on his way up the driveway. As soon as the car pulled away and turned out of sight, Will put the phone in his pants pocket and walked along the silent suburban streets to his house.

The driver had been right about the neighborhood, he idly thought as he rounded the bend towards home. The houses were all well-tended and there was little crime in the area. In the months he’d been renting there, he hadn’t met a single unfriendly neighbor. It also suited him being a short drive from the ballfield and convenient to Denver nightlife. Although he doubted he’d be there much longer since his contract was up and his agent was close to finalizing a deal with Atlanta, the neighborhood had served him well.

His head throbbed dully with every step he took, telling him he was sobering up. He longed for a bottle of water. A frigid wind had him picking up the pace and burying his hands in the pockets of his Berluti suede bomber jacket. He sure as hell wouldn’t miss the Denver winters, he mused as he finally headed up the path to his front door and fished his keys out of his pocket.

Photo by Zachary Keimig on Unsplash

He’d forgotten to leave the porch light on, so he struggled with finding the right key on his heavily shadowed front porch. The cold night air quickly numbed his fingers. He dropped the keys with a jarring clang.

Cursing, he shifted to look for them. His foot connected with them, sending them skittering under one of the two porch chairs. He cursed again, more loudly this time, and bent to retrieve them. He couldn’t see a damn thing under the chair.

Having an a-ha moment, he pulled out his phone and triggered the flashlight. He turned the light towards the chair and caught the glint of light off metal.

Then the shadows in the second chair moved.

He jerked back into a standing position and braced himself for a possible assault. His heart throttled into overdrive.

“Who’s there?” he demanded.

Jesus, Campbell, he thought. Could you sound any more like a fucking horror movie cliché?

Forcing his hand to remain steady, he aimed the phone towards the second chair. His racing heart calmed as fear eased into confusion. There was a small, shivering lump sitting on the chair…a lump with two long braids and wide, glistening eyes staring right at him.

A little girl.

Why the hell was there a little girl on his front porch?

For the Win

Determination.

It’s what gets Jasmine Li out of bed every morning. She’s determined to overcome the injury that has derailed her career in ballet, the only love she’s ever known. She can’t afford to allow a baseball player to distract her, no matter how hot and persistent he might be.

Commitment.

Will Campbell defines the word. It’s what makes him a successful pitcher and it’s helping him learn how to be a single dad to a little girl with plenty of trust issues. Just his luck, the one person his daughter—and his heart—finally respond to is a stubborn, sexy ballerina with plans that don’t involve relationships or children.

But Will didn’t become the best closer in the majors by giving up. He knows what he wants and what his daughter needs, and he’s going to get it. Jasmine Li has met her match … and he’s playing for the win.

For the Win will be published in the summer of 2020.

Raine Thomas

Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine has signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen.

She’s a proud indie author who is living the dream. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Get to know Raine on her

And follow her on Twitter @Raine_Thomas.

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What to write?

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Monday musings on an author’s decision by bestselling author

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Raine Thomas

I’ve never met an author who didn’t have at least five stories running through their minds at any given time. I’m no different! I hear characters in my head whenever I’m not focused on anything else…while I’m walking the dog, washing the dishes, taking a shower, or riding in a car, for example. (I’d say I never heard them while I was driving, but that would make me a bald-faced liar.)

With so many stories to choose from, how do I decide what to write? Do I follow the trends? Listen to reader demands? Or do I cave into the loudest voices in my head and share their stories first?

In my career, it’s really been a combination of all of the above. I started writing my Young Adult Fantasy series about the Estilorians back when my daughter was a toddler. I had just lost my job and it was the perfect time to finally sit down and write the stories of sisters Amber, Olivia and Skye. It did so happen that YA, in general, was really popular at the time thanks to series like Harry Potter and Twilight, though I would have chosen to write the Estilorian books first in any case. They were simply the stories in my head begging to be written most.

Thanks to the popularity of my first Estilorian trilogy, it made the most sense to write more books in the series. Thus, the Firstborn trilogy came next. I got to know new characters in the world I’d spent years creating, which made it a fun writing journey. I’ll admit that the reader feedback (reviews) from my first books helped shape some of the characters in the Firstborn trilogy, and I’ll always be grateful for that. They’re some of my absolute favorites!

After publishing my sixth Estilorian book, New Adult fiction was all the rage. It was a new genre pioneered largely by indie authors and it called to me. I wrote For Everly (a New Adult baseball romance) in six weeks. It was the fastest and easiest I’d ever written a book, and it’s still one of my most popular and well-reviewed. I made more from sales of For Everly in the span of four months than I’d made in two years of my full-time job’s salary. I was sure I’d be writing full-time in no time!

Unfortunately, the New Adult market, like many others, quickly became saturated. Millions of new authors published books that year. I published Meant for Her (another New Adult baseball romance) five months after For Everly. Sales fizzled across the board and they’ve never bounced back. I heard the same story again and again from my fellow authors everywhere.

After that, I realized it was foolish to write to trends unless it happened to align with a story I want to tell. Now, I write the stories I want to write when I want to write them. It’s been remarkably liberating!

I published my seventh Estilorian novel, Deceive, the year after my baseball romances came out. From there, I moved on to my House of Archer series (New Adult rocker romances). Now I’m working on For the Win (a New Adult baseball romance). I’ve got plenty of other stories waiting patiently in the wings too…and I can’t wait to share them with the world!

Raine Thomas

Raine Thomas, new adult, young adult and romance

is the award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine has signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen.

Raine is a proud indie author who is living the dream. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Get to know more about Raine on

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If I Lead, Will You Follow?, by Raine Thomas

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BecomingShadedWhen I finished the last book in my YA fantasy romance series, I felt ready to move on. After six books, it was time to stretch my wings and fall in love with new characters and a new world. Then I actually sat down to write.

 

And froze.

 

It turned out that it wasn’t as easy for me to make the transition as I’d thought. I was so enmeshed in the Estilorian world that I had trouble removing myself from it. It made me wonder if my readers would have the same reaction.

 

Eventually, I realized that the problem lay in that the story I wanted to write was entirely different from my other books. Rather than it being a young adult fantasy romance featuring a female protagonist, the new concept centered around a futuristic dystopian world with a male sleuth as the protagonist. Romance would only be a small part of the storyline. As I wrestled with the outline, I sensed I was moving in the wrong direction.

 

Shortly after this epiphany, the characters in my upcoming release, For Everly, started yammering at me to write their story. So I did. It flowed so easily that I finished it in six weeks. Considering I work full-time as well as write, this was quite the feat. It told me I’d made the right decision.

 

For Everly is a New Adult Contemporary Romance, so it’s still a departure from my other books. However, one of the key elements loved by my fans—the romance—is still present. In a way, this is a baby step toward writing that other book. I’m “conditioning” my readers to accept that I can write more than just one genre. The pre-release buzz has reinforced that this was the way to go.

 

Some well-known authors have switched genres with mixed success, and I think this trend ties in with my above decision. J.K. Rowling, for example, followed up her Harry Potter series with The Vacancy. The book shares nearly as many one-star reviews on Amazon as five-stars, with the average being three. Ms. Rowling went from writing YA fantasy to writing a darkly-themed adult contemporary. In so doing, she managed to upset a rather large segment of her fan base.

 

Stephenie Meyer, however, went from her popular Twilight (YA paranormal romance) series to The Host, a YA sci-fi thriller. While The Host is a departure from the vampire books loved by her original fans, it still retains a number of the elements that made Ms. Meyer’s work so popular. The Host’s four-plus star average on Amazon and the excitement around the recently released movie support the conclusion that Ms. Meyer successfully transitioned between genres. It therefore seems that the way to effectively switch genres while retaining your fan base is to retain the core elements that drew your fans to you in the first place.

 

As a reader, have you taken a leap of faith in books by your favorite authors that differed from their usual work? Did the new genre work for you? Why or why not? We want to know!

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Raine-Thomas-Headshot-small-233x300

Raine Thomas is the bestselling author of an award-winning series of YA fantasy/romance novels about the Estilorian plane. She became truly passionate about writing when one of her stories took an Honorable Mention in a fourth-grade writing competition (who would have thought a story about a dancing spider would garner so much attention?). Carrying that passion with her, she earned her bachelor’s degree in English with a focus in Creative Writing from Georgia State University, then her master’s degree in Humanities from Central Michigan University.

Residing in Orlando, Florida, Raine is a hopeless romantic with a background in the fields of mental health and wedding planning…two areas that intersect far more than one would think. Her years working with children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral challenges inspired her to create young protagonists who overcome their own conflicts. She’s a proud member of Romance Writers of America and a contributing blogger on The Writer’s Voice. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

 

 

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