Tag Archives: writing

A Drift of Quills: Sometimes we take a break from writing. No, really! Does it inspire new stories or scenes? Help us focus? And what do we DO?

A Drift of Quills: When We’re Gone (Away From the Writing Desk)

Once in a while, the writers that make up A Drift of Quills actually take a break from writing. No, really! Maybe you want to know what do we do when we’re away from the writing desk. Is it gardening or improvement projects? Baking or bull riding? How about dragon-taming? Do these extracurricular activities inspire new stories or scenes? Help us focus? Read on to find out what we do with all of our copious spare time…

A Drift of Quills: Writerly thoughts by writerly folks

Let’s Take a Break from Writing…

My writing desk follows me everywhere. Virtually, anyway. Overheard conversations make good fodder for dialogue. A turn of phrase from a television show or movie often suggests an entire scene or plot point. I realized during a discussion about some people in my life that one of them in particular would make a fantastic model for a character. (No, I will not say whether protagonist or antagonist!)

I try to jot these ideas down on my phone, but sometimes I really have to tell my desk to go to its room and let me take a break from writing. Have you ever noticed that not thinking about a thing is like a magic solution for finding an answer to it?

“Whim” has often been the instigator in my break-time activities. When I’m stuck and getting nowhere with my writing, chores are my go-to writer’s block breaker. Weird, right? There’s nothing like the soothing scrub-scrub-scrub of a brush on the shower floor, or the noisy hum of the vacuum cleaner to get the ol’ brain cells dancing.

Filling the Creativity Bucket

Okay, but seriously, though, my creativity bucket needs refreshing now and then. Quite often, I do that by finding another, different creative outlet. I love fooling around in Photoshop, doing digital matte painting and maps. I’ve done some digital scrapbooking as well.

But, Robin! Can you tear yourself away from the computer at all?

Why, yes, I think I can! Sometimes I putter around in the garden. Our newly installed back yard is deliberately low-maintenance. I love looking at it, but I don’t want to have to work all the time to make it pretty. Hubby and I often sit in our (still new) swing and admire last year’s labor. It’s lovely how much the maple tree has grown in just a year, and how well it shades the swing now.

I also like to do—in fits and spurts—family history, baking, quilting, reading, crafts of various and unpredictable sorts, and decorative painting on walls. Much of that has slowed down or stopped this year. I’m spending more of my days with my writer’s hat on and evenings are for Hubby. Usually, he wants to watch television or a movie, but sometimes he feels well enough to take the Jazzy Chair we were loaned out for a spin around the neighborhood. I walk. I hear exercise is supposed to be good for me…

A Drift of Quills: Sometimes we take breaks from writing. No, really! Does it inspire new stories or scenes? Help us focus? And what do we DO? (https://robinlythgoe.com)
One of the quilts I’ve made…

Patricia RedingAuthor of the Oathtaker Series
Patricia’s website

I used to be quite a gardener. I had a huge plot. I can’t even estimate its size. I grew berries, beans, corn, squash, melons, peas, and on and on. A Drift of Quills: Sometimes we take a break from writing. No, really! Does it inspire new stories or scenes? Help us focus? And what do we DO? (https://robinlythgoe.com)Admittedly, even at the best of times, I tended to lose a fair amount of my crop because I couldn’t eat it in time and wasn’t big on storing methods (although drying herbs or beans was always a hit with me). (That said, I usually had an abundance. Don’t believe me? Check the pic here of just one wheelbarrow full of tomatoes from one year.) Also, in truth, I lost some crop to overzealous weeds that would come along about the same time that I was no longer having fun.

But I don’t garden like that anymore…

READ MORE: Right here!


“P.S. Broaddus” width=Author of The Unseen Chronicles
Parker’s website
I don’t often get the question, “What keeps you busy?” That’s usually because I have three little boys running around and through my legs. I also work as a full time real estate agent, running my own business and managing property for myself and others. I have a master’s degree in film, but I’ve taken a step back from film production and editing to give more time to my love of writing.

And while I enjoy real estate and homes and remodeling and flipping, that isn’t necessarily where I get inspiration or rest. I don’t garden – the wonderful wood nymph I married is in charge of that department. Likewise, film and film editing is work – enjoyable work, but work nonetheless.

There are a couple of things I do that fill me up, that aren’t work, and sometimes even provide inspiration and encouragement… (Read more!)

(Photo by Luisa Rusche on Unsplash)

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What do you like to do when you’re not working? How do you find inspiration or focus for what you do? Let us know in the comments below!

A Drift of Quills, Patricia Reding, P.S. Broaddus, writing, short stories, flash fiction

A Drift of Quills: Fiction Shots #2 (Little Girl, Big City)

A Drift of Quills: Writerly thoughts by writerly folks
Are you ready for Fiction Shots #2? Giddyup! A Drift of Quills are writing again—It’s a flash of fiction! Three different stories inspired by one picture.

The catalyst for these stories comes from the whimsical “Non Lo So,” by Zhiyong Li on Artstation. It tickled our fancies, for sure!

Non Lo So, by Zhiyong Li (via ArtStation)
Non Lo So, by Zhiyong Li (via ArtStation)

Pour yourselves a nice cool glass of lemonade (or a delightfully warm cup of hot cocoa, depending on the hemisphere), and see where our imaginations have travelled…

Fiction Shots #2

Flash #1: Opposite Tricks

By Robin Lythgoe

A Drift of Quills: Fiction Shots #2— It’s flash fiction! Three different stories inspired by one picture. This round: little girl in a big, quirky city.


When Toady says they’re to paint the Widow Grayling’s house, Akasha stares along with everyone else. 

“Orange.” Uneven teeth make his smile particularly fiendish. The gang erupts into hoots and shouts of laughter at that. The widow’s a quiet woman of modest means. Her house used to be brown, but most of the color’s chipped off now. It would no more willingly wear orange than would the widow.

“She needs some brightening.” Zekan always backs up Toady. If their illustrious leader decided they should all become acolytes at the local temple, Zekan would hand out the cassocks and thump anyone who questioned the choice. Same if Toady resolved to filch grub down in the Bellows—Royal Ghost territory, where Toady’s Azure Fang Gang would swiftly find their end. Hopefully not a permanent one… Did the Ghosts kill children? Continue reading A Drift of Quills: Fiction Shots #2 (Little Girl, Big City)

Conlang—constructed language—is today’s topic for A Drift of Quills. Do we make up our own languages for our books? How? If not, why not? http://robinlythgoe.com

A Drift of Quills: Conlang (What’s That You Say?)

Conlang—constructed language—is today’s topic for A Drift of Quills. Do we make up our own languages for our books? How? If not, why not?

Pull up a chair, grab yourself a cookie or twenty, and read on to find out how the gang feels about fictional languages!

A Drift of Quills: Writerly thoughts by writerly folks

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


I have a kind of lazy love for language. My copy of the 17th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style makes me crazy, but… I’m one of those readers that will highlight passages in novels that sing to me. Sometimes I copy them into a file to come back to later so I can oo and ah over them. And I did take the equivalent of seven years of foreign language in high school. (I think I learned more about English there than I did in English classes!) Then there was Tolkien. Was my experience a recipe for conlang or what? Continue reading A Drift of Quills: Conlang (What’s That You Say?)

Writers and other creative people have many different approaches to beginning their projects. Today A Drift of Quills are talking about what inspires us to write our stories. They’re near and dear to our hearts, and writing a novel is an extraordinarily personal experience!

A Drift of Quills: What’s Our Inspiration?

What’s our inspiration? Writers and other creative people have many different approaches to beginning their projects. Today A Drift of Quills are talking about what inspires us to write our stories. They’re near and dear to our hearts, and writing a novel is an extraordinarily personal experience!

A Drift of Quills: Writerly thoughts by writerly folks

As I near the day I push the “publish” button for the second book in The Mage’s Gift, this seems a good time to reflect on the motivation behind the story. I think it was years in the making, and I think I will say the same about all my books and stories. What does inspire me? What prompts me to set pen to paper (I really did start out that way), and then fingers to keyboard? I’m inclined to call it “magic.” Continue reading A Drift of Quills: What’s Our Inspiration?

Blood and Shadow is Now Available!

I am thrilled to announce that Blood and Shadow, the first novel in the Mage’s Gift, is now available on Amazon! It’s taken a lot longer to get here than I’d planned, but we’re finally there, and book 2 is not far behind. No, really.

Blood and Shadow: A vengeful mage. A powerful gift. A naive youth. (Join the journey today!)A vengeful mage. A powerful gift. A naive youth.

Sherakai never wanted to become a warrior like his father and brothers. Satisfied with being fourth in line to inherit title and responsibility, he wants only to be Master of the Horse. But on the eve of his sister’s wedding, a terrible gift arrives and Sherakai’s course changes forever. His magic is the key to secrets he does not know or understand, and he must learn to fight to escape a future he doesn’t believe in. Now he must use what he hates to regain what he loves.

The regular price will be $3.99, but for TWO DAYS you can pick it up for the intro price of $0.99! (This universal link will take you to your Amazon store.)

Are you hungry for a taste of what’s to come? Enjoy a short excerpt here: Blood and Shadow…

Another Update—In Case You’re Wondering!

Hello, wonderful readers!

I just wanted to make a drive-by post to let you know I’m still breathing. I’m deep into edits of Book One of The Mage’s Gift: Blood and Shadow, and I just want to say ohmygoshhowcaneditingbesoslow?!

Yeah. Like that.

I would like to give a percentage of progress. Something concrete, like I’m 62% finished. But silly things like “consistency” have me going back and forth in the manuscript until I’m dizzy.

But… I’ve got two little snippets to share with you. First, a picture of the timeline:

Blood and Shadow timeline

Yes, it’s small. Yes, some of the words look kind of blurry. You didn’t want spoilers, did you??

Second, a corner of the map-in-progress:

Alshan Map, The Mage's Gift Bk 1: Blood and Shadow, by Robin Lythgoe

One day it will be greener, the rivers won’t look weird, and the bordering countries will have names. Won’t that be exciting?

Do you want more good news? The covers (Yes, two! One for each of the set!) are nearly done! I can’t wait to share those with you.

Stay tuned! If you don’t want to miss the release of Blood and Shadow, be sure to sign up for my Book Progress email list, which will give you nothing but information about my upcoming books.

A Drift of Quills: In Search of (Writing) Time

Writers, what do you do to find time—or to make time—to write?

Readers, are you curious how the minds behind the books work some of their magic?

It’s the First Friday of the month, and A Drift of Quills is sharing tidbits on their MO (modus operandi). Ooooh, secrets!

A Drift of Quills

Time—we all need more, right? Can I have a secret extra day in the week? Or how about a clone?

In Search of Writing TimeI’m one of those blessed souls who theoretically has time. Awesome, right? Mmmmaybe…! Anyone who looked at my life would assume there are great gobs of the stuff lying around, waiting to be used.

I have plenty to do, believe me. There are the regular chores that come with being an adult and the extracurricular chores that spring up when you belong to a group or indulge in hobbies. On top of that, there are the tasks that fall on the plate of any indie author (a.k.a. “marketing”).

And there’s research (a.k.a. “rabbit holes”).

And homework (a.k.a. “reading”).


So for me, it boils down to making the time to write. Or rather, making myself write. I seem to be most productive late at night, but convincing myself to stay up when my comfy bed is calling and my eyelids are drooping is almost as hard as scheduling dentist appointments.

Okay, not really. I’d far rather stay up late writing every single night than go to the dentist.


Structure and Goals Are Not Bad Words

If when I stick to a schedule and plunk my keester in the chair before my computer every morning, I’ve found I build up steam. I might start small; I’ve set a goal to write no less than 100 words a day. In the beginning, that hundred words can be like pulling teeth. (Ha! Pun!)

But the more I stick to the schedule, the more I write.

You’d think that with such a reward,the sticking would be easy. Inspiring. Exciting!


It is exciting. It’s also challenging.

So what helps me?

  • Joining a writing challenge (x-number of words per day)
  • Having someone to be accountable to
  • Giving in to my competitive side (trying to beat the high word counts in the above-mentioned challenge)
  • My awesome writing partner, Kristie
  • Reading
  • Music
  • Letters, comments, and reviews (especially reviews!) from my readers

I don’t list these in order of how well they work, it depends on the day and it depends on my mood (and health). The more of the items I employ, the more likely I am to sit down and write.

And apparently writing about writing helps, too. Bye, I’m gonna go practice being a fictionista!


Author of Oathtaker and Select
Patricia’s website


Time in a bottle.

Time will tell.

A time to love, and a time to hate.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .

A time for every purpose under heaven.

Time flies.

The time is right.

Time and tide wait for no man.

Hey! Have you got the time?

This is the question we Quills consider with our post for July 2016.

Most would agree, I think, that there never seems to be enough time to go around. So how, in a life filled with family, friends, day jobs, and more, do we find time to write?

I recall as a child, my mother saying that it annoyed her when people asked her how she found the time to do things. With eight—yes, count them, eight—children, she was a busy woman. She always said: “I don’t have time, I make time.” I guess… (Read more!)

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How do you find—or make—the time to write or read?
What would you like to see us talk about? Let us know in the comments below!

Image: “Clock” via StockSnap.io is licensed under CC0 1.0
A Drift of Quills: Research or Treasure Hunt?

A Drift of Quills: Research or Treasure Hunt?

Does the word “research” give you the shivers? Dark memories of term papers or visions of endless numbers and figures? Well, it’s the first Friday of June (already!), and A Drift of Quills  is here to show you what research means to fiction writers!

A Drift of Quills

“My name is Robin and I am a member of Researchers Anonymous…”

ResearchOrTreasureHunt_DoQI blame it on my mother. I read a lot when I was a little girl. When I’d come across a word I didn’t know, I’d ask Mom what it meant. She invariably sent me to the dictionary.

A hundred years later (okay, not quite a hundred…) I find myself somewhat suspicious of her motivations. Did she actually (sometimes) not know the definition? Or was that just her way of making me an independent, curious wordie?

Either way, what happened was an addiction.

Oh, it started innocently enough. Continue reading A Drift of Quills: Research or Treasure Hunt?

A Drift of Quils: Tackling Writing Challenges

A Drift of Quills: Tackling Writing Challenges

A Drift of Quills is back on this beautiful First Friday! This month we’re talking about tough writing challenges we’ve faced, and how we’ve resolved them. And—we’ve got a guest! We’re so pleased to welcome P.S. Broaddus, who has  recently released his debut middle-grade fantasy novel.

A Drift of Quills

My partners in this month’s endeavor will probably not be glad that I’ve procrastinated writing this until the last minute (I have a laundry list of excuses reasons!), but it’s given me the opportunity to get a sneak peak at what they’ve chosen to write about.

It’s good stuff— Continue reading A Drift of Quills: Tackling Writing Challenges

Five Good Things

Five Good Things (Mar 11)

Five Good Things is such a great article to put together. I get to share some of the cool things I’ve found while procrastinating researching my own writing!

Use Scrivener to Manage Your Blog
Writing straight into your blog software (WordPress, Typepad, etc.) presents its own problems—you can’t write offline, and searching through old blog posts to find mentions on a specific subject can be difficult. Boy, has Joanna Penn got some great advice! I’m definitely bookmarking this page.

The Arcanist’s Mill – A Wizard’s Tower Map with a Twist
Jonathan Roberts makes awesome, drool-worthy maps. Lands of Ice and Fire, anyone? Check out this article, in which he shows how he mapped “a wizard’s tower with a twist – somewhere a mage with a little bit of a steampunk leaning could hide out and experiment.”

Leftovers and Palette Gremlins
As long as we’re talking about artists, I’ve got to send you over to the site of one of my all-time favorites: Michael Whelan. I hope you recognize the name from Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern, Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné books, Tad Williams’s Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn — and the epic Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. “Leftovers are little spur-of-the-moment doodles or sketches created from paint left over from a work in progress. Most of these quickies end up in the trash, but some are kind of cool on their own and others have lead to full scale paintings.” Go see! Be entertained.

10 Engrossing Fantasy Books Like “The Lord of the Rings”
“Embark on an epic journey with one of these fantastical sagas.” Oh, darn, more books to add to my TBR (To Be Read) list… I’ll bet you can hear me groaning in dismay all the way to your house. Riiiight…

Free Chains of Honor Prequel Story: A Question of Honor
I read Lindsay Buroker’s Warrior Mage and loved it. I’m behind on the story now, but look! A free tale about how Yanko and Dak first met! I’m all over that.

Image: “Beach” by Ravi Pinisetti is licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal

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What good things have you seen in your world lately? SHARE below!