Monday, June 17, 2013

Use Your Passion to Fuel Your Writing!

Use Your Passion to Fuel Your Writing  

By Chrystle Fiedler

Natural remedies have been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up, my mother practiced natural cures such as tea bag baths for sunburn, homeopathic remedies for colds and allergies, arnica oil for sprains and bruises and, of course, chicken soup with garlic was always a staple. I’ve used this passion to fuel my journalism, non-fiction and  cozy mysteries too. Today, I’ll show you how I did it and how you can too!     

The Path to Finding My Passion

My journey to becoming a published writer/author began after I graduated from Boston University with a degree in communications. But it wasn’t a straight path. I was young, I was unfocused and I tried everything. I had over 60 jobs, including working in advertising, newspapers, radio, and television writing and production in Hollywood. But none of it felt like the right path.

After much soul searching and advice from others I decided that I wanted to be a magazine writer. The idea of being my own boss was very appealing and I also wanted to help others by providing useful information through the written word.   

So, in 1998, I moved from California back to my hometown of Greenport, NY and started my new career.  I knew that I wanted to write about health, specifically, natural health. Once I focused on what I wanted to do, my passion became clear. Since then, I’ve written articles about natural health for many magazines including Woman’s Day, Natural Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Vegetarian Times and Remedy magazine.    

This led to writing non-fiction books about natural remedies: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Natural Remedies (Alpha, 2009), The Country Almanac of Home Remedies (Fairwinds Press, 2011) with herbalist Brigitte Mars and the Beat Sugar Addiction Now! series with Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, a holistic MD.

Writing Cozy Mysteries, Naturally

When it came to fiction, my agent, Ann Collette of the Helen Rees agency in Boston, suggested that I use my background in natural remedies to create a cozy mystery. The natural remedies mystery series was born and thankfully contracted by Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster in 2011.

Writing mysteries is the most fun because I get to create my own unique universe and populate it with interesting and lovable characters. I’ve chosen to make my protagonist a naturopathic doctor named Willow McQuade, ND who also owns and runs a health food store called Nature’s Way Market & Café in a three-story Victorian in the heart of Greenport. Her boyfriend is a hunky ex-cop named Jackson Spade and she has a rescue dog named Qigong (which is an ancient Chinese practice).

To reinforce the natural remedies theme, I decided to feature a natural remedy at the beginning of each chapter and sprinkle them throughout the book. I focus on a different type of natural cure for each mystery. SCENT to KILL: A Natural Remedies Mystery focuses on aromatherapy, DEATH DROPS, various natural cures and the book I’m writing now GARDEN of DEATH, medicinal plants.  

Now that you’ve read about what I’ve done, it’s time to think about how you can discover your own passion! Try looking at these categories and see if it sparks an idea you can use:

Your passion might be:

A famous person: Author Joanna Slan, writes mysteries the Jane Eyre Chronicles, Susan Wittig Albert writes the Beatrix Potter mysteries. What famous person inspired you? Who do you want to know more about?

A time period: Do you live for the Victorian era, or anything from the 1700’s? The 1800’s? 1900’s? Now? The Future?

A place: Another one of my driving passions is my hometown, Greenport, NY. This sleepy fishing village is now a thriving tourist destination. What place do you love to visit or dream of visiting? New York, Hawaii, or one of my favorite cities, London?

A pet: Author Linda O. Johnston writes a cozy series about pet rescue and I include this theme in all of my books too. Ending pet abuse is one of my passions. Do you love animals? How have they made your life better? How can they inspire your writing more?  

A practice: Tracy Weber, runs her own yoga studio and is now writing mysteries about yoga. Author Rosemary Harris is a master gardener and writes mysteries about gardening. Is there some practice you do that you have a passion for?   
A hobby: My Killer Hobbies ( sisters and I talk about how our hobbies inspired our murder mysteries. Anne Canadeo and Betty Hechtman blog about knitting, while I blog about natural remedies. Think back…what were your hobbies when you were growing up? For example, did you enjoy scrapbooking, photography,  drawing, or collecting books, stamps, or dolls? What hobby do you enjoy now? Can you see a way to write a mystery about it?     

An interest: Are you crazy about coffee like Cleo Coyle or nuts about cheese like Avery Aames? What can’t you get enough information about? What kind of magazines do you read? What articles interest you the most?

Let Your Imagination Run Wild!

One of the first steps in finding your passion is to think about these categories. Let them run through your mind, when you walk your dog, or take a shower or are cooking dinner. Play with it, imagine and keep the portal open. Write down all of the thoughts and don’t judge them! You are learning about yourself, what interests you and what you want to pursue and create around.

Once you figure out what your passion is, consider how you might use it in your writing:

·       If you want to write a cozy mystery think of a world you could create that features your passion. What might your protagonist do for a living? Where do they live?

·       If you want to write a novel, think about how your passion might make your characters more three-dimensional and real.

·       If you want to write non-fiction think about how you might translate your passion into a non-fiction book proposal. 

·       If you want to write a story about your hobby as a journalist, research publications that might be interested and pitch ideas to editors.

Whatever you do, remember, the most important thing is to relax, open your mind and have fun with the process! 

Please share what you've learned here or by visiting K.M. Weiland's informative blog and leaving a comment: 

If you share on Katie's site, you still have a chance to win a copy of my new book SCENT to KILL: A Natural Remedies Mystery! Katie has tons of helpful stuff on her site so sign up for her newsletter too! 

Here’s the scoop on Scent to Kill: A Natural Remedies Mystery

“Scent to Kill is a well-crafted mystery…Devotees of natural medicine and aromatherapy will enjoy the tips that appear at the beginning of each chapter and scattered throughout the text.” Publisher’s Weekly   

Willow McQuade, naturopathic doctor, along with her hunky ex-cop boyfriend Jackson Spade, attend a party for a psychic TV show that is filming on Long Island’s idyllic East End. However, Willow is much more interested in visiting the estate’s lavender farm, seeking inspiration for the new aromatherapy workshops she'll be holding at her store, Nature’s Way Market & Café.   

Before the party is over, Roger Bixby one of the producers is dead and the police suspect murder. Roger was working on the show, MJ’s Mind, with Carly Bixby, his ex-wife and the new girlfriend of Willow's ex from L.A., TV writer/producer Simon Lewis.   

After Willow leaves the party, she gets a frantic text from Simon asking for her help. Since Simon had a fight with Roger earlier in the evening, and because of his death is now the primary shareholder in Galaxy films, Willow's ex becomes the prime suspect. Simon begs her to crack the case and clear him of the murder. MJ McClellan, the psychic and star of the show also asks Willow for help. She hires Willow to provide natural remedies, including aromatherapy, massage, acupuncture and yoga to soothe the agitated crew of her show. 

To find the killer, Willow has to deal with ghosts in a haunted mansion, a truly dysfunctional family, death threats and “accidents,” while trying to untangle a homicide identical to one committed during prohibition. Thankfully, Jackson has been hired to provide security and is there to watch her back and help Willow solve this spooky mystery.

For more information on natural remedies, my books and writing tips please visit:!


Linda O. Johnston said...

I really agree with the idea of writing about our passions, Chrystle--and as you so aptly pointed out, mine involve pets and pet rescue!

Betty Hechtman said...

It is so great to be able to write about something you genuinely are interested in. It makes the reseach so much fun.

60 jobs! Wow. You sound a little like Casey Feldstein, the sleuth in my new series.