Tuesday 26 November 2013

What inspires you? (plus an ebook giveaway)

By Lisa Harris

As a writer, I’m always looking for inspiration. That nugget of a story that simmers in the back of my mind until finally, it’s ready to be put down on paper. I love discovering new characters and new plots. For me, it’s invigorating and simply put, fun.

As a young girl, I used to imagine myself writing in some secluded cabin in the middle of the woods. Soft music played in the background, snow drifted past my window, before dusting the ground with a layer of white powder. With a fire roaring in the background, I sat in front of my typewriter—yes, this was a long time ago—producing bestseller after bestseller. 

Right. Somehow that never happened. 

When I started writing, my kids were young, so reality for me was scrambling to find a few moments to write while the kids took a nap, or while Dora the Explorer sang in the background. I’d quickly peal the peanut butter and jelly sandwich from the keyboard and brush off the cheerios from my chair and write. Finding inspiration wasn’t exactly on the menu. I had to learn to sit down and write, inspired or not. 

But no matter who we are, I think it’s safe to say that we all long to feel inspired. Whether it’s writing a book or a poem, creating a stunning dish in the kitchen, listening to music, taking a class that challenges us, or simply being inspired to be a better person, we all need inspiration.  

I’ve also found that in the busy world we live in, I need to be intentional in finding that inspiration. Which means intentionally stopping to be quiet, listening for God’s voice, taking a quiet walk in a garden, or making sure I don’t miss the colors of the sunset. 

Here are a few things that inspired me: 

Friends and family

My children

The African bush







What about you? What inspires you?


Lisa latest book is a romantic suspense from Revell.

When two Jane Does are killed on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia, detective and behavioral specialist Avery North discovers they share something in common--a tattoo of a magnolia on their shoulders. Suspecting a serial killer, Avery joins forces with medical examiner Jackson Bryant to solve the crimes and prevent another murder. But it doesn't take long for them to realize that there is much more to the case than meets the eye. As they venture deep into a sinister world of human trafficking, Avery and Jackson are taken to the very edge of their abilities--and their hearts. 

Dangerous Passage exposes a fully-realized and frightening world where every layer peeled back reveals more challenges ahead. Romantic suspense fans will be hooked from the start by Lisa Harris's first installment of the new Southern Crimes series.

ebook giveaway for Australian and New Zealand readers:
Lisa has kindly offered to give away an ebook copy of Dangerous Passage to an Australian or New Zealand reader who leaves a comment on this post. The winner will be announced in the post comments on Tuesday, 3rd December.

LISA HARRIS is a Christy Award finalist and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 from Romantic Times. She has over twenty novels and novella collections in print. She and her family have spent almost ten years living as missionaries in Africa where she homeschools, leads a women’s group, and runs a non-profit organization that works alongside their church-planting ministry. The ECHO Project works in southern Africa promoting Education, Compassion, Health, and Opportunity and is a way for her to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” (Proverbs 31:8)
When she’s not working she loves hanging out with her family, cooking different ethnic dishes, photography, and heading into the African bush on safari.  For more information about her books and life in Africa visit her website at or her blog at For more information about The ECHO Project, please visit


  1. Hi Lisa, you are right in saying we all need inspiration. And as authors hope their books will inspire their readers, so too the author should be inspired amidst the writing of it.

    For me, I'm inspired to write by hearing true stories, both in the present and historically, of real people and the challenges they faced. Sometimes news items will spark a story idea.

    I was also inspired by your post, Lisa, to snatch those moments - the cabin idea is pie in the sky for me too ;-)

  2. Thanks so much for letting me drop by your blog! And Ellie, I guess all we can is snatch those moments, but at least we can dream. LOL And in the meantime, look for that inspiration around us!

  3. Inspiration comes in so many forms - my kids are often sources of inspiration, it may be things they do or something they say, or even something they show me.

    I also have to snatch moments for writing, as much as I'd also love a cabin, the reality is that I have to grab moments between work, mothering, and everything else that comes with being a working Mum.

    1. You are so right that with mothering comes so many responsibilities, but how wonderful to find that inspiration in your kids and day to day lives. So often it is the simple things, and the things we have to try not to miss!

  4. Hi Lisa, I am a reader (as you know) I never wanted to be a writer but books inspired me to use my imagination and I would be in the books and making up my own stories. One was the Magic faraway series I so wanted to climb that tree and be in those lands. Then I wanted a wardrobe to take me to Narnia and yes I did try to get through my wardrobe. Books I read now I dream about and pretend I am part of the story at times.
    I actually was walking yesterday, with my new condition I cant walk as long or far but coming on the way home I looked up and saw hills. We have hills and with the sun etc they look like small mountains. I have walked that way hundreds of times even more but it felt like it was the first time I saw it and it was inspirational.

    1. Don't you love how you can sit in a chair in your house and be transported to different places, even different worlds. That too is what I love about reading. And yes, we can see the same thing over and over but not really see it, which is why I want to be more intentional of really see what (and who) is around me.

  5. Hi Lisa, thanks for visiting with us today :) Sometimes a situation or conversation can inspire me and start the 'what if...' questions rolling around in my mind. I've always found music inspiring, and I often listen to music as I write.

    I started reading Dangerous Passage last night, and I'm really enjoying the story. Our lucky giveaway winner is in for a treat :)

    1. Thanks so much for inviting me, Narelle! And oh. . .those 'what ifs' are always going through my mind too. LOL So glad you are enjoying the story!

  6. Good to read about what inspires you to write, Lisa, and to see those beautiful photos. When I began writing my first novel, I would sometimes drive to a nearby lake here and watch the ducks as they swam, then took flight. I found the beautiful V shaped ripples they left on the surface of the water inspiring--not to mention the ducks themselves! I love seeing something of nature as I write, even just green foliage or the leaves moving a little in the breeze.

    1. Love those descriptions, Jo-Anne! It's so easy to get caught up in life that we miss the beauty of things--like the leaves moving in the breeze. It reminds me of the verse that says 'Be still and know that I am God.' May we all find time to be still. . .and be inspired!

  7. Hi Lisa, great to have you along on ACW.

    As I mostly write stories that feature angels and demons, I get some of my inspiration for those supernatural beings from billboards advertising new video games. I don't play the games but many of the covers feature some terrific characters especially the darker ones.

    What's a Mozambique Thanksgiving like compared to home? Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving this week.

    1. Goes to show you can find inspiration in just about anything. :-) As for our Thanksgiving, our kids don't arrive until Saturday from boarding school, so we won't have a typical Thanksgiving by any means as we will be traveling to get them, but I'm still just thankful that they are coming home so that is enough for me!

  8. HI Lisa

    I spent part of my childhood in Zambia and my parents later went back as missos in Zimbabwe. My paternal grandmother came from Capetown before emigrating to Australia - our family's connection started in the 1600s. Africa, her people and her land inspire me.

    Apart from that, I write fantasy (YA) - I find the great authors I have read inspirational (Tolkien, Lewis, Le Guin, McCaffetry, Lessing, Weis, Eddings, Stephenson and others), as well as the natural world, travel, other cultures, history, science and God's love inspire me.

    Thanks for an interesting post.

    1. What a cool connection, Jeanette! I've never written fantasy, but there is something about creating your own world that I think would be so much fun. Happy writing!

  9. Hi Lisa, congratulations on your book release. :)

    I'm inspired by lots of things, but my love of reading history challenges me to think...'what if...' and I'm off with an idea.

    I'm often taken with an idea which I find too contemporary (as an historical writer) and try to convert modern day plots to historical settings. Happened yesterday when my daughter and her friends were making her 21st birthday invitations. One idea prompted another, until we had a whole scenario of possibilities.

    Thanks for visiting our blog this week. I hope you see wonderful success with Dangerous Passage. :)

    1. Don't you love that fun process, Dorothy! Thanks so much for your sweet words of encouragement!

  10. Hi Lisa,
    Your writing atmosphere sounds similar to mine. Always plenty of noise around the house. As for inspiration, I love it when I'm inspired by other people's books. That is why I like to encourage everyone to keep writing if you've the passion for it, because there's no telling where this ripple effect may end. I've found that straining for inspiration sometimes yields no results at all, and then something as sudden as a story on the news can work. It's an unpredictable business.
    I hope your new book, Dangerous Passage, does really well. It sounds like an exciting plot.

    1. What you said, Paula, made me think about how often I solve many wrinkles in my book by not looking for inspiration or answers, but by just washing dishes or something else that doesn't require any thinking. So that is so true!

  11. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Lisa. Inspiration is such a funny thing. A few times I've woken up at 3am and just had to jot something down that suddenly occurred to me out of the blue. Maybe my brain is freed up from my conscious systematic attempts to work out problems and can roam free and make connections I wouldn't normally think of. Music is a great connector between emotions and thoughts. With the right song I can find it so easy to describe or show emotional scenes that I would otherwise find hard. Smell is also so powerful, particularly for triggering memories. Like the smell of hot cement after the rain or newly cut grass.
    I think my ideal writing environment would be outside in the midst of beautiful creation. Your post has reminded me that even though I'm inside I still can surround myself with things that inspire (the wet cement might be a bit of a hard one though :) ).

  12. I do think that it is easy to force that inspiration which must be why when we're sleeping or doing something brainless, the answer comes to us. And yes, music does bring emotion doesn't it and I love your reminder of smell as well. Though yes, maybe wet cement isn't quite the smell to inspire me. LOL

  13. Congratulations Linsey! You're the winner of Lisa Harris' ebook, Dangerous Passage :) I'll send you an email later today to organise the delivery of your prize.


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