Monday, January 16, 2012

Finding Inspiration

Please Welcome Tori St. Claire to the Blog today!
Tori is giving away a a $25 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky commenter! Be sure to follow the tour for a better chance to win. 
Finding My Inspiration

Inspiration strikes when I’m least expecting it, and often it triggers from the mundane. 

For instance, with STRIPPED, I was listening to Ke$ha on the radio, Take it Off, and I had a flash of a vision for a story.  I piddled with that brief scene, and what ended up being the book had nothing to do with that little flash.  But that small instance where imagination conjured a picture took me down the path of planning an idea.

Sometimes I’ll hear a particular line from a movie or television that inspires me.  Case in point:  “Finally.”  One word, said when the hero/heroine finally kiss at the end.  For weeks I was all about “finally”, and I ended up with a plot for another book.  That had nothing to do with the hero/heroine waiting forever for the first kiss.

Other times, there’s something I’ve seen as I’ve passed by.  A creepy hospital led to a series as my alter-ego about the Knights Templar.  My writing co-hort and I went to a conference and passed a hysterical street name.  We now have a joint series in the works, set in a town with that name, and our impression of what that name “portrays”.

Still other times there’s something I know I want to do, so I’ll stew on ideas until I figure out what works with that particular object/place/plot point.  For example, I have a big, goofy Newfoundland dog who loves people but intimidates them when she comes bounding up, slobber flying.  I want a Newfie in a book, and I set out to figure out where/how a dog like that would fit.  (Hilarious is all I’ll say.)

Characters will hit me as well.  They don’t always end up starring in the next particular work, but the work might be driven toward his/her eventual story.  When this happens, when I’m able to get to that story, those are the easiest writes by far.  The stories almost tend to write themselves.  Example – A Broken Christmas, by my alter-ego, Claire Ashgrove.  Another example – Sergei in STRIPPED.  I considered, “Does Natalya work with anyone?” and BAM!  There he was, out of nowhere.  You will see him again, I promise.

There are times I wish I could say, “This is what I do when my muse goes silent.”  Unfortunately, I suffer from the reverse problem – my muse is never silent.  Most recently, when she was faced with the task of creating a three-book proposal, she kept spouting stuff that yielded ten to accomplish the subplot.  And then she comes up with some crazy ideas like, “You can really write 8 novellas in 8 months while you’re working on those contracted deadlines.”

At any given time I have anywhere from 2 -5 books running around in my head.  I stop long enough to put down a little info in an outline, set the idea aside, finish what I’m working on, and then I will look at my schedule for the year and see if I can work the idea in anywhere.  If not, it sits a little longer.  If so, it gets written then.

More often than not, I’ve had to learn how to push aside ideas and leave them for other authors.  Like the YA idea that hit me one afternoon out of nowhere.  I ran with it for about ten minutes before I consciously had to tell myself, “You don’t write YA, you’re not going to write YA.  Leave it alone.”

I have had a lot of people remark that the overflow is a “gift”.  Trust me… not always.  It’s a pain the rear to be sidelined by a random idea when you’re in the middle of something else.  Particularly if it’s a character who won’t shut up, until he/she gets acknowledgement.  I have one right now hammering at me.  He doesn’t seem to understand that before he gets to speak any further, my editor has to thumbs up the proposal ;)

Whether you’re a writer or not, I’d like to know if there’s anything that inspires you for your particular hobbies.  Care to tell me below?


Tori St. Claire grew up writing. Hobby quickly turned into passion, and when she discovered the world of romance as a teen, poems and short stories gave way to full length novels with sexy heroes and heroines waiting to be swept off their feet. She wrote her first romance novel at seventeen.

While that manuscript gathered dust-bunnies beneath the bed, she went on to establish herself as a contemporary, historical, and paranormal author under the pen name, Claire Ashgrove. Her writing, however, skirted a fine line between hot and steamy, and motivated by authors she admired, she pushed her boundaries and made the leap into erotica, using the darker side of human nature and on-the-edge suspense to drive grittier, sexier, stories.

Her erotic romantic suspense novels are searingly sensual experiences that unite passion with true emotion, and the all-consuming tie that binds -- love.

Tori can be found at:

Twitter: @claireashgrove


Body of secrets…

As a member of the CIA’s elite, Black Opals, Natalya Trubachev must live a lie, working undercover as the lover of Dmitri, a Russian mob boss. His business is trafficking vulnerable Las Vegas strippers overseas for twisted sex games. Natalya’s business is to blow the ring wide open and bring down Dmitri and his American contacts. But the stakes are raised when she learns that the next target is her own sister Kate, a dancer in the famed club Fantasia. Only now does Natalya realize how personal her mission has become, and how far she’s willing to go to complete it.

Body of lies…

The manager of Fantasia is Brandon Moretti, an undercover detective who keeps a close eye on his girls, and an even closer one on his sinfully sensual hire. For Natalya, working the club could be the break she’s been waiting for. But for Moretti, Natalya is a possible link to a killer. Only he never counted on her being so lethally seductive or so dangerous to get close to.  As every forbidden pleasure between them is stripped away, his own secrets threaten their security, but it’s Natalya’s that could destroy them both.


He slammed the ball of his fist down on her desk. A box of chocolate-covered cherries jumped. He glanced at the white and red carton briefly, then dismissed it, locking his gaze with Natalya’s once more. “I’ll tell you about wrong ideas. Let’s start with how your boss told you not to dance, and you decided to do so anyway.”
“My boss?” Natalya laughed again. “Make up your mind which role you want to play, Brandon. You’re only my boss when it’s convenient for you. Otherwise you’re too busy fucking me.”
He clamped his teeth down on the stream of oaths that choked off his air. He couldn’t argue with the truth. Moreover, he caught the flat glint of her eyes. The unfeeling stare that told him the words were real enough, but the woman who said them wasn’t. For a moment, in the dancers’ lounge, he’d glimpsed that mesmerizing Natalya who drove him to maddening limits. While this shell made him every bit as crazy, he ached for the woman who prompted him into foolishness. She had been on the stage. She deserved the fight.
“Damn it, where are you?” Frustrated beyond all means, he swiped his arm across the desk, sending the chocolates flying into the wall.
She blinked. But not at him, he realized, as he followed the trajectory of her gaze. She stared at the floor where the box had broken open. Smashed chocolate-covered cherries coated the floor, sugary ooze pouring from a squashed corner.
Brandon straightened. Unease filtered through his angry haze. He’d hit the candy hard. But not hard enough to smash two entire trays of candies, each held in egg-shaped cups. That candy was already crushed, long before he’d hit it. And to accomplish that, while keeping the flimsy plastic cups from collapsing, someone had done it piece by piece.
“Who gave you that?” His gaze flicked back to hers, and he took a small measure of satisfaction at witnessing the truth behind her eyes before she once again snapped the shutters closed.
“I told you jealousy wasn’t a pretty color for you.”
He pursed his lips, ground his teeth together. With patience that defied his years of training, he gritted out, “No games. Who gave you the chocolate, Natalya?”
Defiance radiated in the proud jut of her chin. Sparkled behind her unblinking stare. Then, as she blinked, the facade crumbled. She shook her head. “It wasn’t here when I left for the stage.”
In the next heartbeat, the color drained from her face. He knew then, she’d made a connection. Associated the candy with someone else. Someone who had the capacity to strike fear into her fearless little heart.

Tori is giving away a a $25 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky commenter! Be sure to follow the tour for a better chance to win. 


  1. "Lethally seductive" - that's hit the spot right there. Thank you for the excerpt.


  2. The excerpt sounds fascinating. I love the way you got the idea for the story line.

  3. I enjoyed reading what inspires you, Tori; it was interesting.

    I look forward in reading Stripped.

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  4. So many ideas, so little time. I have the idea overflow problem too. Mostly when I'm deep into a book I need to finish writing, and my mind wants to start on another idea.

  5. I don't have many hobbies other than reading and traveling. The travel shows on PBS inspire me in ter,s of where I want to go and what I want to see and do once there.

  6. Great excerpt and post. Can't wait to read Stripped. Thanks for the blog tour.


  7. Excellent excerpt!!!
    Ideas for other stories usually hit me while I'm trying to finish writing a different story. Then I have to stop and jot down what's flashing through mine mind for the new story or else it will be lost for good.

  8. I loved your excerpt.

    Your muse must be related to mine. At she realizes that I can't outline, but she recently started sending me visions until I started the MS, while I was re-writing two others.

  9. SOOOO many ideas, so little time! I have so many new stories in my head I never know which way to jump. It's usually the strongest one that I go with.

  10. Not only do I enjoy reading about the route a book takes to get published, I also like to read about the inspiration that caused the idea that formed into a book.

    Just wondering about the YA idea...did you pass it along to one of your writer buddies who does do YA?

    I'm not a writer nor do I do anything or have any hobbies that require inspiration.

  11. Wow, I hope whoever mashed those chocolates gets punished! Great excerpt. I'm jealous that you can write so many different story lines at once.

  12. Thanks for sharing your story. I am a writer of poetry, music, and also an artist. For the past ten yrs. since I got married, I never seem to have time for anything. Recently, I have been inspired to start writing again.Thanks for your insight.

  13. Afternoon everyone! Boy -- it's nice to see all of you here. Great turnout today!

    And thank you so much for participating on this tour. I really appreciate it. A lot!

    I tend to prioritize my ideas, which ones I think are stronger, versus which ones I think can sit a while longer. Most of them I do go back to at some point, but some just sit and wait... and wait... and wait... (Yes, yes I know Martin, we'll get to yours one day. Sheesh!)


    Arthur -- hang on to that fire and let your inspiration guide you. Don't let it go :)

    Karen -- no, I didn't pass it along. As an author, I don't care to have folks pass me ideas -- my visions are never what they created -- and you never know, there's always some day. Maybe when I'm older, when my children are old enough to appreciate YA, I might brush the dust off that idea.

  14. Stripped sounds like such a great book. I can't wait to read this.
    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

  15. Hi Tori,

    Thanks for the peek at your writing process, always fascinating to a non-writer.

    caity_mack at yahoo dot com

  16. This sounds like my type of book.


  17. I hope you all enjoy Stripped. I think you will, if you like erotic suspense.

    I'll check back in later this evening.

  18. Your muse is "never silent"? It could be a could also be mental illness (LOL)! If the voices in your head tell you to hurt yourself--DON'T LISTEN. It's exhausting when the brain is always going.


  19. Great excerpt! I love how you can find inspiration in things that most people wouldn't pay that much attention to.

  20. I'm inspired by so many things! My current WIP was inspired by shovelling snow. I jotted down some notes on two very different dreams I had that were their own stories but in that disjointed way of dreams. Songs often hit me with inspiration. I understand your overflow-sometimes I just wish my brain would be quiet!

    Thanks for the post, I really enjoyed it.

    mljfoland AT hotmail DOT com

  21. I can totally see how an overactive muse could be a problem (just like an underactive one). I was starting to freak out that I wouldn't have anything else to write after I finished my current project, since nothing had really come to life for me. And now that I've finished the final edits, I have another story. Hallelujah!

    Truth be told, I'm glad I didn't have the new story until I was at the end of this one because I am far too easily distracted. lol

    Best of luck with your book!


  22. I love it when inspiration strikes in unexpected places! Best wishes on your book!

  23. Great post. Very interesting to see how a prolific, published author like yourself gets her inspiration.