Words from Nature

The connection between today’s children and the nature world gets further eroded each year. The Lost Words is a big, beautiful book of poems and artwork created to celebrate the wonder and reinforce the importance of everyday nature in all our lives.

Here’s a summary from the publisher: “In 2007, when a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary — widely used in schools around the world — was published, a sharp-eyed reader soon noticed that around forty common words concerning nature had been dropped. Apparently they were no longer being used enough by children to merit their place in the dictionary. The list of these “lost words” included acornadderbluebelldandelionfernheronkingfishernewtotter, and willow. Among the words taking their place were attachment, blogbroadbandbullet-pointcut-and-paste, and voicemail.”

In response, nature writer Robert Macfarlane and artist Jackie Morris created a “spell book” meant to be read aloud. They sought “to summon these words again into the voices, stories, and dreams of children and adults alike.”

The brief video below shows off the gorgeous artwork of The Lost Words (though it doesn’t truly do it justice!). This a book with heft that is sure to become a family heirloom. I highly recommend buying this special book for all the children in your life.*

* If you decide to purchase from Bookshop.org, a portion of the sale will support indie bookstores and authors, including me.

Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas?


Where do writers come up with their story ideas? It’s one of the most common questions we are asked, and the answer is different for every writer. For me, the answer is also different for every story I write.

Many of my ideas come from reading and watching the news. Something will catch my attention and cause me to wonder “what’s that all about?” or ask “what if…?” The answer that develops inevitably becomes a magazine article, short story or novel premise. Other ideas come from real life experiences — events witnessed firsthand — that grip my mind so tightly I must write about them to expel them. A car accident perhaps, or a child bullied at school.

A few years ago, a bizarre nightmare led me to draft a short fiction piece that eventually won an award and publication in the literary journal River Styx. That was a first for me. Inspiration through dream hasn’t struck since, but I’m glad it did that once.  (If you’re curious, Download NightWindow.)

Much like their different origins, my stories also tend to have different voices. The thread that ties all my ideas and writing together is my goal to weave compelling stories and bring characters to life, whether short fiction, novel or nonfiction.

Where do you get your ideas? Do they vary depending on whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction? Share your thoughts!