Monday, January 16, 2017

Mood Board Magic

New Moon by Pat Erickson
Hi everyone,

Today I wanted to turn on all you writers - aspiring or fully accomplished -  to the notion of Mood Boards.

If you have a visual sense, and most of us who can see do, creating mood boards can be one of the most inspiring practices you can do, that isn't actual reading or writing. Fabulous for tackling the 'blank page', starting a story 'in medias res' and giving your characters, animals, conflicts and geology the personality needed to come to life.

Want to create a mood board for your current project or seed of an idea?

Let's get started.

What is a Mood Board?

  1. an arrangement of images, materials, pieces of text, etc. intended to evoke or project a particular style or concept.

    "We put together a mood board with key images and words that best convey the essence of the story, book cover, event our brand."
The Mood Board can be digital or physical. I used mostly digital mood boards for writing projects, and keep them, or just images on Pinterest, but more of that in a moment. Let's explore the uses next.

Uses for a Mood Board

  • To design a process, either abstract. as in writing, or tangible as in building in the physical world (books to covers to new kitchen designs).
  • The mood board is all about the vision. What you can't say in words.
  • Mood boards are essential when communicating visual ideas to others, as in commissioning a book cover, collaborating artistically or pitching ideas, including book to film projects.
  • A mood board is a springboard. Instead of facing a blank page, you can collect images as ideas for character, climate, topography, conflict and stakes in storytelling, or inspiration for a brand, or a brand new bathroom or garden.

How to Create a Mood Board

It's simple:

1. collect images

2. arrange the images in meaningful ways

This is all up to you and your individual style. The idea is to explore. Play around, and discover what lights you up the most.

Example Mood Boards

As I mentioned, mosts my book mood boards are on Pinterest for the world to see. It's a fun way to share images, get inspired and get to know your story world. Here is an example from a new series - just sold -  and soon to be announced. Working title - Amassia books 1-3.

If you are on Pinterest, I'd love to connect. And, shout out if you have an example of your mood board on line, or are just starting one. I'd love to see it. 

Kim Falconer's latest release is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel. Find this novel in a store near you.

You can also learn more about Kim at, the 11th House Blog, and on FaceBook and Twitter.  

She posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month and runs Save the Day Writer's Community on Facebook. Check out her daily Astro-LOA Flash horoscopes on Facebook

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Things I choose to carry

Welcome 2017!

Thanks to your predecessor, I am going to kick your ass.

Sorry if that offends, but this is war. As the great Billy Joel said, "We didn't start the fire," but this year, we are going to make it our submissive little puppy.

So now becomes the time to choose your weapons, right? Take with you what you need and leave behind all the stuff that is just weighed down. As a female, I do this about once a month with my purse. This year, I'm doing it with my life.

In order to do that, I have to figure out exactly what I'm carrying. I have recently become familiar with the notion of Family of Origin. Boiled down, it means that you are the sum of everything that you have witnessed, done, absorbed, consciously and unconsciously. Its the unconscious stuff that really kicks you in the butt. Family of origin, when known, can be a powerful tool to help figuring out why you hold truths sacred, or how you define the universe.

While sorting through my truths, I discovered that what I watch and what I read has a LOT to do with how I think and what I think about the world. Wow. Knowing that some day some little girl might read Diaries of an Urban Panther and take something with her for the rest of her life. Geez. What a responsibility. I LOVE it.

So one of the things that I will take with me is Grandmother Willow from Disney's Pocahontas. I think that the essence of the tree spirit has sort of infiltrated how I see our connection with everything. Even trees. Everything I do, say, sing, write- it ripples.

Ripples start out small but echo out for miles. They are a change to the status quo, and someone has to start them. Someone else will see what I do, say, sing, write and perhaps they will take that with them.

Now, I'm pretty sure that I'll never actually talk to a tree. I will never have a raccoon or a hummingbird follow me around. I will never have such perfectly straight and untangled hair.

But I will listen. I will watch and be still and wait to make sure that what I an doing is the best for everyone, not just myself. Because it ripples.

And what I have found, is that when everyone is happy, fed, healthy, and feels secure, I am happy, fed, healthy and feel secure. Funny how it works that way.

So we are going to call this year "The things I carry" as an homage to Tim O'Brien's powerful masterpiece about his experiences in the Vietnam War. Its the movies & books whose messages have taught me how to live and that I still carry with me.

Maybe they can help teach you something that you might need to completely own 2017.

Until Next month...


Amanda Arista,
Author, Diaries of an Urban Panther

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year, Supernatural Undergrounders

Pohutakawa, the NZ 'Christmas tree'
A major trope of epic fantasy (which is what I'm currently writing with the Wall of Night series) is the "road trip": aka "a farm boy (or gal) goes on a journey" during the course of which they will likely encounter lovable animal (or robot, or supernatural) companions and acquire sidekicks (the "band of brothers" -- or sisters!)

The road trip is also a major feature of the Christmas - New Year period in real life -- and part of the Fantastic Road Trip is that one should visit previously unknown terrain and climes.

So I thought I'd marry the real and the fantastic traditions for you today with some a few photos from my Christmas-New Year road trip -- which I suspect will be new terrain for many, even those who have seen the Lord of the Rings films.

The clime is certainly different, since Christmas / New Year falls in summer here, although if the terrain is sufficiently elevated, snow may still be seen.

Now for those pictures:

The magical Lake Rotoiti in Nelson Lakes National Park

The awesome power of the Huka Falls, near Lake Taupo:

A vista toward Lake Taupo, the source of the Huka Falls:
Not my car, alas!

Here be snow, still: Mt Ruapehu in Tongariro National Park:

I think if there is one message I take from these photos it's that nature generally and national parks in particular rock -- something to be both celebrated and cherished in 2017 and beyond.


Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, interviewer and blogger whose first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. Her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night, Book Three) was published this year.
Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we