It’s Spring and the snakes are coming out of their winter holes. The rule of thumb in North America is that snakes are most active April to October and hibernate during the cold months.
Now that I have your attention…
One question I get asked the most is: how do you come up with your story ideas? I get asked this by people who think they want to write or by beginning authors who fizzle out after their one budding idea. My answer is—ideas are everywhere. All you have to do is be observant.
I was blessed or maybe cursed with a wacky brain, and I mean that in a good way. It’s almost like my brain is a huge room with thousands of doors. When I see or hear something I want to remember, I mentally open a door and shove the information inside. The door slams shut and doesn’t open until I need to recall that information; most of the time this information comes to me in a dream. Yes, I know, it’s strange. I do, however, keep a notepad in my purse because sometimes I overheard bits and pieces of conversation that I think might be useful dialogue in a story.
But…what does this have to do with snakes and story ideas? Well, you know me, I’m gonna tell ya.
Eons ago when I was working on my Master’s degree, I was at my study buddy’s house. It was a hundred year old southern Victorian with a sweeping wrap-around veranda that she and her husband planned to restore once she graduated. Deb had already told me that she thought the house was haunted because during the night she and hubby would hear scratching noises and movement in the attic and sometimes inside the walls. I can tell you that I do not thumb my nose at the mention of ghosts. Well, Deb and I were sitting at a table when I spotted something from the corner of my eye. A closer look revealed a rather long snake slithering up the screen door. Talk about freaking out—yep a doodle. Thank goodness it was on the outside of the screen. Deb hurried to shut the front door for fear the unwelcomed visitor might find a crack big enough to slither through. After all who wants a snake in their house?
Deb and I carpooled to the university with three other ladies. It became a running joke with them teasing Deb about spooks and spirits, and saying she should host a Halloween party and invite the hobgoblins to give everyone a good scare. I know—it wasn’t nice of them. As was our routine, I met at her house to study. This time we were in the kitchen and a snake slithered across the floor and disappeared under a cabinet.
To make a long story short, that night when she and hubby got ready to retire they pulled back the covers and a snake was coiled in the middle of the bed. Deb and hubby gathered a few belongings and left the house. Do you blame them? The next day her hubby called an exterminator to check the house and what he found was shocking. The entire attic and underneath the house was infested with snakes, and the noises between the walls was slithering snakes. The exterminator told Deb he could tent the house and kill the serpents, but there was no guarantee that others wouldn’t return. You know, they were never able to sell that house.
When I was writing Cloud Woman’s Spirit, a paranormal western romance, the snake incident seemed the perfect plot vehicle to ramp up the drama and add suspense to the story. By the way, if you click on the Historical tab and then the book cover the live link will take you to Amazon where Cloud Woman’s Spirit is available in print and as an ebook.
Here’s a little excerpt from Cloud Woman’s Spirit to pique your attention:
A deathlike stillness followed, and the lonely shack seemed to moan in sorrow for its impending doom. While jewel-bright snowdrops fell like tears from the rotting eaves, a low, confused murmur began to drift from the dwelling. Soft cries, distressed whimpers, and the mad screams of a demented soul shredded the light with haunting, mindless sounds. The distant moon hid
its face behind a thick cloud and continued on its arch across the sky, heedless of time. The heat from the fireplace had awakened a nest of hissing serpents. From between the rocks of the fireplace, the ceiling beams, an old spittoon, and holes in the straw-ticked mattress, snakes slithered with blind obedience along their prelaid paths, bright flashes marking their arrival. Their agitated tongues reached out to taste the sleeping man’s scent. Bufford Dobbs lifted his hand to flick the annoyance that touched his face. He shifted to relieve the weight on his chest. It was the sound, the buzzing, that disturbed his sleep. He mumbled incoherently, “Leave me be.”
The movement between his legs, over the top of his balding head, over his shoulders, and the slithering of something inside his boot caused him to sit up. He blinked, trying to bring the room into focus. A chill spread through his veins and iced downward to his nether parts, threatening to release his bowels. “What the hell?” Horror washed over him in waves when he realized his blanket of warmth radiated from a mass of slithering bodies.
So there you have it, dear friends. Story ideas are everywhere. Do you have a scary or unusual incident you’d like to share? I'd love to hear about it.
Cloud Woman's Spirit is available also available at Barnes&Nobles, KOBO, iTunes