Authors that Influence and Inspire Me, Part II: Carolyn Keene

I suppose it should read Carolyn Keene, et al, for I learned many years ago while researching Nancy Drew Mysteries that Carolyn Keene was in fact a pseudonym under which multiple authors operated. They were given a set of guidelines and paid to write the mysteries within those rules.

I discovered Nancy Drew the summer after second grade. My cousin, Chelsea, challenged me . Who could read more Nancy Drew? Determined to beat each other, we raided our Aunt Jeanne’s home library and hijacked all the yellow, hard-backed books she had. When that supply was exhausted, we raced to the library.

That summer was magical. My creative mind was suddenly opened to a wealth of mystery, intrigue, suspense, and, sometimes, sleepless nights. I am pretty sure my cousin won the bet, but suddenly I was an avid, passionate reader. From that point, I fell in love with books. The smell, the feel, the covers. All of it. I loved each book, even the ones I never read. And I still do.

Today, my daughter’s bookshelf is filled with Nancy Drew. I have spent ten years adding to my collection. With over 200 books carrying the name Nancy Drew, though, it is a long process. However, my favorites will always be those yellow, rough-feeling, hard-backed “original” mysteries. What better than a young woman solving mysteries in a time when women were mainly homemakers to jump-start my inner reader all those years ago?


Authors that Influence and Inspire Me, Part I: Zane Grey

It had to be Zane Grey first. With his sweeping, pages-long descriptions of landscape, deep, moving soliloquies, and sweet romances, it had to be Zane Grey first.

I am not sure when I first picked up one of his novels. Sometimes I feel my mom’s love for his books passed down in utero and I was born loving him too. Thank you, Mom, for that beautiful gift. I have read fifty-four of his Westerns, and love them all. My goal is to collect each of his novels (preferably in used book stores so I can nab copies that are older than I am) and read and enjoy each one.

Goal number two is to include Zane Greyesque elements in my writing. Call them modern-day Western-in-the-East elements: chivalrous heroes, strong, vivacious heroines, and perilous outdoor adventures. Callum’s Compass, my first completed romantic suspense, has a scene in the third act inspired directly from a Zane Grey novel, and I plan to include at least one scene or notion inspired by him in each of the next two romantic suspense novels. Hopefully, in every book I write.

With more than 100 books printed in his name (though some have had help from his children), 20 or so of which were printed after his death, what better career to aspire to? Though soliloquies and page-long scenic descriptions are not the accepted standard in today’s literature, the influence of his writing upon mine is unavoidable, and something I am thankful for.  I hope that I can honor this man I admire with my writing. I hope that I can touch the tip of the Zane Grey description iceberg and create lasting stories that resonate with reader’s minds for decades to come. I know Zane Grey’s books have done just that for me. #ZaneGrey #Inspired #Influenced


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Five Things I Learned at Taylor University’s Professional Writing Conference

Choosing to drive 358 miles, 6.5 hours on Friday to Upland, Indiana, for a 2-day writer’s conference, and then back home 358 miles, 7.5 hours, the very next day may seem a bit “out there” to some. But, this amazing conference was well worth the exhaustion. The beautiful campus welcomed me in with miles of cornfields, two sky-high windmills, and a science building whose atrium room took my breath away. I learned so much in two quick days, so narrowing it down to the top five was difficult.

  1. We are all on a journey. Thank you Ann (no ‘e’) Byle for pointing this out. Each author who attended is at a different place on their journey and just because I am still near the beginning does not mean I won’t make it to the end some day.
  2. I am a giant killer. Thank you James Watkins. Your first-thing-in-the-morning speech was a fantastic way to start Saturday, and truly inspiring. I feel more empowered to slay the giants in my life.
  3. Be specific, but flexible. Thank you Ginger Kolbaba. Your words of advice in our one-on-one were spot-on.
  4. Strive for closure! Thank you Dr. Dennis Hensley for reminding me to keep focusing until the project is complete.
  5. Christian authors and writers are easy to talk to, quick to pray, and kind with words of encouragement. Thank you to all attendees for welcoming me to Indiana and helping me grow.

I wish I could express to each person who taught me something this weekend how much I appreciate it. I cannot wait to attend next year’s conference, and would encourage any writer to make plans now for the awesome event.