How do I get inspired to write?

It Happened One Doomsday at Barnes & Noble

Hey, read any good books lately?

Everyone has a unique way of getting inspired. I spark ideas by doing tons of research. The world we live in is so weird, it’s impossible not to get inspired.

Before I wrote about the crystal magic in IT HAPPENED ONE DOOMSDAY, I went to plenty of lapidaries (rock shops), which are all over the place in Colorado.

I also attended quite a few gem and mineral shows, and visited metaphysical shops to talk to people who really believe in crystal healing. It was an eye-opening experience. I took some of those ideas and expanded them to a super-powered level to create the unique magic system in this book.

I also drew on my own experience working in an antiquarian bookstore, where we had boxes full of ancient books that were strangely worthless, because no one wanted to buy them. Some of them were centuries old, some of them in Latin, some even handwritten. Those inspired the magical books Dru studies.

Plus, I used to be a professional test driver. I tested dozens of prototype and experimental vehicles, sometimes in hairy conditions, so I had some real-life experience to draw on when writing the car chase scenes.

Somehow, all of that came together in this book. It was so much fun to write, and I’m deeply moved that so many people are enjoying reading it!

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“One hell of a ride!” –Foreword Reviews

Foreword Reviews

Seems like every reviewer has a different currency: five stars, five moons, five thumbs up (which for some reason makes me think of Sha Na Na).

Whatever they are, whenever there are FIVE of them, I sit up and take notice.

Which brings us to this exquisite “five heart” write-up from Foreword Reviews:

“The story unfolds in bold, cinematic strokes. Action sequences, particularly the final car chase, thrum with tension as Dru and her team streak through urban decay, mountains, high desert, and occult landscapes in sexy, demon-possessed muscle cars. Well-executed imagery and pacing make this a joyous thrill ride with a sense of peril.”

Plus, somewhere in there, they call Dru “adorkable.” Which is both funny and sweet. And so true.

Love it!

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“Quite clever.” –Bookpushers

BookpushersHere’s another fantastic review, in case you’re wondering what all the buzz is about.

This particular review comes from the mysterious yet discerning E over at The Bookpushers:

“MacNaughton provided a very interesting twist on some myths about the world ending and the signs of the apocalypse. I really thought how he modernized some of them quite clever and loved the additional personality aspects, which went along with his modern twist.”

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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in Muscle Cars

Hellbringer 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona

Don’t try this at home. Really.

True story: before I wrote this book, I was a professional prototype vehicle test driver.

So when I set out to write about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse tearing up the highways in Christine-ish muscle cars, you can bet I had fun with it.

Check out this interview on MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape where I not only talk about cars, I also go pretty deep into the cool quirks of my characters, and what exactly Dru’s universe (or the “Druniverse”) is really like.

Plus, I share some cool insights about the “magic” properties of crystals (including how the pharaohs of ancient Egypt used to protect themselves against the evil eye).

And the surprise fan favorite character that everyone is talking about. Hint: this particular character has four wheels. (!)

Check out the interview here on >

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Until we get lightsabers, here’s the next best thing.

Not a lightsaber, but an actual real-life shard of selenite.

Not a lightsaber, but an actual real-life shard of selenite.

In my book, Dru fights demons and creatures using magical crystals.

Here’s what’s cool: all of the crystals she uses are magically charged versions of actual, real-life crystals: quartz, amethyst, galena, pyrite, etc.

Being a writer who writes about crystals, I’ve naturally built up a modest collection of crystals over the years.

The towns in the Rocky Mountains are rife with rock shops and lapidaries, some of them little more than a room in someone’s house. If you know where to look, you can find some pretty cool stuff.

Here’s a picture of my biggest crystal find yet: a natural selenite wand. Because of its mineral structure, selenite is fiber-optic, which my lovely wife is demonstrating here with LED lights.

In the books, this wand belongs to Dru’s ultimate nemesis, an evil crystal sorceress bent on destroying the world.

Fun stuff! Especially because, hidden in the between all the fancy magic, there’s a little bit of science. Neat-o.

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The #1 Weirdest Thing about Writing a Book Series (and It’s Not What You Think)

Greyson Carter - It Happened One Doomsday

Greyson Carter. Restores old cars. Rescues stray animals. Often forgets to shave. Happens to be cursed to bring about the end of the world.

In my Dru Jasper urban fantasy series, one of my lead characters is Greyson, a half-demon mechanic with a possessed muscle car.

He’s your archetypal tough guy. He always wears a black leather jacket and aviator sunglasses.

Which is cool. Right up until the moment the leather jacket gets destroyed.

Torched by magic. Slashed by an evil monster. Burst apart at the seams as Greyson himself is transformed into a hulking evil creature by the forces of darkness.

This causes a major wardrobe problem.

Because what is he going to wear now?

Does he run around half-naked? Borrow someone else’s shirt? Go shopping for a new leather jacket?

When you write a standalone short story or novel, you can pretty much do anything you want with the characters without worrying about how that impacts the story in the future. Because there is no future.

But when you write a book series, that all changes. Bizarre things start happening.

Suddenly you start worrying about continuity like you never have before. Little creative decisions that you make on the spur of the moment can have a ripple effect that impacts the story in every book to come.

It’s silly to think that losing a leather jacket in Book 1 turns out to be a real headache in Book 2, but it’s true.

In the movie The Last Action Hero, there’s a funny moment when Arnold Schwarzenegger opens up a closet and it’s packed with nothing but identical leather jackets. Because that’s all his character ever wears.

Such an elegant solution.

How did I eventually solve my problem? Greyson spends a good chunk of the book without a shirt, which leads to so many great moments: funny, sexy, awkward, but mostly a lot of fun.

Now, it’s too soon for me to reveal how I solved the wardrobe conundrum in Book 2. But I had to figure out a convincing way to get a half-naked Greyson back into his signature leather jacket and sunglasses — fast.

Trust me, it wasn’t easy. But it was pretty amusing.

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New audiobooks: get your fiction fix on the radio

Cool news! A brand-new Colorado radio station (JBCM Radio) is now featuring audiobook clips of It Happened One Doomsday, read by Yours Truly.

Recording your own audiobook clips, I discovered, is a wee bit more challenging than it initially appears. But it is fun.

All you need is a good microphone, recording software (and a tutorial on how to use it), some good music, and a block of quiet time to actually record your voice.

That exact moment, of course, is when your next-door neighbor will start tearing down his walls. With power tools.

But the recordings worked out, and now you can listen to my latest clips for free on SoundCloud.

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3 weird (but true!) facts about It Happened One Doomsday

SFBC spotlight on It Happened One Doomsday

Science Fiction Book Club spotlight on It Happened One Doomsday

While this book is fiction, it was inspired by some very strange facts.

It all started with crystals. Here in the Rocky Mountains, you’re never far from abandoned gold mines, ghost towns, or rock shops.

In It Happened One Doomsday, the main character gets her magical powers from real-life crystals such as galena, amethyst, pyrite, ulexite, or quartz. Some people believe these rocks have metaphysical properties.

People like Dan Aykroyd from Ghostbusters, for instance. I once had a strange conversation with him about his private-label vodka, which he filters through Herkimer diamonds.

These “diamonds” are actually ultra-pure quartz crystals, which supposedly cleanse anything they touch.

In metaphysical beliefs, different crystals have their own supposed powers. Galena defends you against evil. Amethyst protects you from psychic attack. Halite (rock salt) dissolves negative energy.

Continue reading

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“Really enjoyed this easy read.” –Speculative Herald

Speculative Herald

Much to my disappointment, there’s no one here named Harold. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

I love it when a book review gets into the specifics of what makes a book different.

Because let’s be honest. It doesn’t help anyone when a review just says “This book is awesome!” or “This book is stupid!”

We need to know why. What makes it awesome? What makes it stupid?

(And just for the record, yes, once a reviewer called my book — and I quote — “really, really stupid.” All I can say is: Wow. Put a lot of thought into that review, didn’t you, Bubba?)

Anyway. I digress.

I always enjoy reading reviews that point out the exact elements of a story that stand out from the crowd, good or bad.

This review from The Speculative Herald calls special attention to the possessed muscle cars, a road trip through the desert to a haunted mansion with a portal to the netherworld, and a trio of evil demons in hot pursuit.

Bottom line:

“It’s an enjoyable read with very easy to like characters, a fast paced plot, lots of action and a healthy injection of wit.”

Well said.

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“Nail-biting action and dry humor.” –Cover2Cover

sitting on a stack of books

Ah, the good old days of building furniture out of books.

I love it when a reviewer picks up on the cool little “Easter eggs” in It Happened One Doomsday.

Things like all of the different crystals Dru uses in her magic, and how they interact. Or the blink-and-you-miss it muscle car details.

I love putting those telling specifics into my books. And when the reviewers notice, I’m always happy.

But my favorite kind of reviewer is the one who loves the book so much they ask for a sequel!

Check out this fantastic new review from Cover2Cover:

“ I liked that Dru is not some special person with the most powerful magic or sorcery. Instead, she is smart, more than a little bit unsure of her abilities but determined to help others. The guy is the one who needs saving in this and it is at times hilarious the things they go through to halt Doomsday.”

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