Where Do You Turn for Inspiration?

It’s an interesting question, especially on a day when a blog post is due and the author is feeling brain dead.

A mushroom that looks just like my brain feels
A mushroom that looks just like my brain feels

Photographs? The great outdoors? Sure, there’s plenty to inspire here. But sometimes, I turn to a different place: Facebook

Facebook? Seriously?

Okay. I know. I admit. I complain about Facebook as an evil time suck. A place where writers, who are at the keyboard anyway, can go waste time, read cartoons, get redirected to The Onion. Get marketed to. Amused. And asked for sympathy as beloved pets cross the rainbow bridge.

But in its own whacky, time-wasting way, it can be a fun, kind, amusing, supportive community to belong to, assuming you have the right kind of friends.

I guess that I do, because once I asked for advice about a piece of evidence to drop at a crime scene, and got a zillion replies, including one from the Attorney General. Oh yes. Facebook can be a crime writer’s dream. FB is where one goes to view the pages of local folks who’ve been arrested. To see the comments behind the meager stories that the police spokesmen are willing to share. To get the inside gossip, the neighbors and relatives views. So yes. I spend/waste some time there.

But inspiration? Well, one of the things FB is best at is asking questions and getting a wide variety of random answers. Recently, I asked about “adult coloring books.” The number of replies I got was staggering. Yes. It’s true, a couple of the guys asked what I meant by adult. I left that to their obviously already fertile and active imaginations. Lots of other people said it was a great tool for relaxing and meditation. There was enough material in those responses for a good short story. Possibly for a cozy mystery series.

Writers can’t be snobs—we know that inspiration can come from anywhere. Stuck? Go ahead and ask that question on Facebook. For example, today I am feeling practically brain dead. It’s a beautiful fall day outside, but I’m in here, overwhelmed by a to do list and I have this blog post to write. So I turn to my FB friends. What shall I write about,?

From the back of my closet
From the back of my closet

And being friends—they answer. Write about food porn. Write about Halloween. One friend says, “Well, you already cleaned your desk. Now write about what’s in the back of your clothes closet?” Is anyone truly interested in stretchy leopard high heeled boots and a black leather pencil skirt? Maybe those guys who like “adult” comic books?

Another writer suggests writing about daylight savings time. A hot topic. Let’s plunge ourselves into darkness even earlier. Or I could research the origins, and why we still do it, and how people feel. Is there a story here? Perhaps. Someone is early to an event because she forgot to “fall back,” and sees something she’s not supposed to see?

One friend gave me a whole list of blog topics: Persistence, dealing with rejection, how to …., why I write. All hard topics on a day when I’m brain dead, but they can be filed away for the future. Another writer, also on the topic of the writer’s life, suggests that I blog about influences. I’m filing that one away for another day, but the ideas are already bubbling up.

Also on the topic of Halloween…there is the suggestion to blog about leftover Halloween thoughts (damage, the potential to commit a crime on

This is NOT a cat picture. Exactly.
This is NOT a cat picture. Exactly.

a night filled with spooky characters and mischief) and of course the upcoming pumpkin shortage. Is there a crime story there, perhaps? Two determined matrons battling over the last can of pumpkin and the mayhem that ensues?

Then, two subjects that blend together perfectly: “Use cat pictures” and “What’s on your unbucket list—the things you hope you’ll never have to do.”

Well. For this I have an answer: Using cat pictures because I’m feeling brain dead is definitely on my unbucket

list. Now I can move on to making the rest of that list.

So, friends out there in the digital universe, where do you find inspiration when you’re feeling brain dead? Curious writers want to know.

Happy Halloween from “Thalia Filbert”

The five of us who co-wrote Beat Slay Love as Thalia Filbert want to wish you all a haunting Halloween, full of spooks, goblins, witches, and things that go bump in the night.

Or just a funky monster or two. 🙂 Click on the image to watch the video. Happy Halloween!


Rides the Black-and-white Horse

Some years back at a mystery convention in Boulder, Colorado, I performed this tone poem with John Harvey on tambourine, Bill Moody on drums, and a variety of semi-volunteers snapping their fingers to the beat. I wrote this as an homage to the mystery novel. Recently someone quoted snippets of it on twitter with illustrations, and I liked it so much I’ve added a few of my own.

I’m always amused at reactions of people who don’t read mysteries and thrillers, who don’t know the excitement of entering a frightening world of evil or an everyday town where strangers wait their turn to make mayhem. Got the shivers yet?

Here’s how the book sees you the reader.


I am a book.

Sheaves pressed from the pulp of oaks and pines
a natural sawdust made dingy from purses, dusty
from shelves.
Steamy and anxious, abused and misused,
kissed and cried over,
smeared, yellowed, and torn,
loved, hated, scorned.

I am a book.

I am a book that remembers,
days when I stood proud in good company
When the children came, I leapt into their arms,
when the women came, they cradled me against their soft breasts,
when the men came, they held me like a lover,
and I smelled the sweet smell of cigars and brandy as we sat together in leather chairs,
next to pool tables, on porch swings, in rocking chairs,
my words hanging in the air like bright gems, dangling,
then forgotten, I crumbled,
dust to dust.


I am a tale of woe and secrets,
a book brand-new, sprung from the loins of ancient fathers clothed in tweed,
born of mothers in lands of heather and coal soot.
A family too close to see the blood on its hands,
too dear to suffering, to poison, to cold steel and revenge,
deaf to the screams of mortal wounding,
amused at decay and torment,
a family bred in the dankest swamp of human desires.

I am a tale of woe and secrets,
I am a mystery.

I am intrigue, anxiety, fear,
I tangle in the night with madmen, spend my days cloaked in black,
hiding from myself, from dark angels,
from the evil that lurks within
and the evil we cannot lurk without.


I am words of adventure,
of faraway places where no one knows my tongue,
of curious cultures in small, back alleys, mean streets,
the crumbling house in each of us.

I am primordial fear, the great unknown,
I am life everlasting.
I touch you and you shiver, I blow in your ear and you follow me,
down foggy lanes, into places you’ve never seen,
to see things no one should see,
to be someone you could only hope to be.



I ride the winds of imagination on a black-and-white horse,
to find the truth inside of me,
to cure the ills inside of you,
to take one passenger at a time over that tall mountain,
across that lonely plain to a place you’ve never been
where the world stops for just one minute
and everything is right.

I am a mystery.

-Rides a Black and White Horse”
Lise McClendon