Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Blog Tour - "Porch Swing Girl" by Taylor Bennett (Teen Author!): Inspiration: Chase it, Find it, CAPTURE IT!

Today I have the incredible pleasure of welcoming teen author, Taylor Bennett, to my blog as a part of her blog tour! Taylor's debut YA Christian fiction novel, PORCH SWING GIRL, recently released with Mountain Brook Ink. I'm so enthused about this -- not only because Taylor is a fabulous teen author, but also because of this story. I haven't finished reading this yet, but I can already tell that this will book will be on the shelf of my favorites. (Fans of inspirational contemporary YA fiction, you do not want to miss this!)

See below to learn more about the book, the author, and hear her advice for writers!

About the Book:

What if friendship cost you everything? Stranded in Hawaii after the death of her mother, sixteen-year-old Olive Galloway is desperate to escape. She has to get back to Boston before her dad loses all common sense and sells the family house. But plane tickets cost money—something Olive gravely lacks.

With the help of Brander, the fussy youth group worship leader, and Jazz, a mysterious girl with a passion for all things Hawaiian, Olive lands a summer job at the Shave Ice Shack and launches a scheme to buy a plane ticket home before the end of the summer.

But when Jazz reveals a painful secret, Olive’s plans are challenged. Jazz needs money. A lot of it. Olive and Brander are determined to help their friend but, when their fundraising efforts are thwarted, Olive is caught in the middle. To help Jazz means giving up her ticket home. And time is running out. You want to write. Your fingers itch to grasp a pen, hug a pencil, dance across a laptop keyboard. You have words swirling in your brain, begging to be written—to be shared with the world.

So you sit down, put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), and you…


You stare down at that page and the words disappear. You grasp at empty nothingness and try to catch a few—just a few—and put them down on paper. But…


The empty page stares at you, mocking you. Laughing, even!

“You’re not a real writer,” it hisses. “REAL writers know what to write. REAL writers know how to write. You’re just a…”

Wait!! Don’t let that empty piece of paper call you a fake. You have the passion and drive to be a real author. What you need, dear writer, is INSPIRATION.

But what do you do when your idea well is dry as a bone?

You most certainly do NOT give up—in fact, don’t even think about giving up. Don’t let that empty page get in your head, don’t let that nasty internal editor keep you from writing. Don’t let procrastination rule the day.

No, instead, capture that spark—that tiny bit of inspiration, so small you barely know it’s there. Not sure how to do that? Don’t worry. I’ll help you.

To capture that inspiration, first you have to…

Chase it

First, make a list of what inspires you—don’t know where to start? Here are a few examples:

  • Listening to your favorite music—or something brand new
  • Browsing through a used bookstore and flipping through old books
  • Sipping coffee (or tea!) and watching the rain fall outside
  • Taking a walk on a deserted country road or through a bustling park
  • People-watching at a busy place like the mall, where you can observe many different kinds of people
  • Talking to someone interesting—your grandpa, who traveled the world when he was in the military; your mom, who teaches classes at the college; your little sister, who is convinced that unicorns are real

Find it

Now, go out and do one of those inspiration-sparking activities. For example, let’s say that you’re curled up in your favorite chair, sipping your favorite warm drink. Turn on some music (instrumental works best) and let your mind wander. Sometimes (and maybe I’m a little weird, I don’t know) I imagine myself as a character in a future book. I listen to the music and imagine it as a soundtrack to a movie. If it was a movie soundtrack, what would be happening on the screen?

Or if you choose to go people-watching instead, you might do something similar. Instead of imagining a story to go along with the music, you’ll be privy to thousands of stories, all unfolding in front of you. Maybe a young couple catches your eye, or a group of three friends. Perhaps your gaze is drawn to the pensive, thoughtful young lady behind the counter at the pretzel shop…you get the picture. Pick a person or two and imagine them as a fictional character—what might be going on in their life that would explain their actions?

The most important thing to keep in mind during this stage is that, no matter what you do, you need to ask questions—the WWWWWH method works well (who, what, when, where, why, how?) but don’t be afraid to dig deeper. Brainstorm a character’s backstory, as well as where they’ll be by the end of the story. Just make sure you keep questioning—and answering—until you have the first seed of an idea.

Capture it

Now that you have that story seed—that first spark of an idea—it’s time to get it down on paper. Quick, before you forget! There are several ways to go about this. You could…

  • Write a quick chapter one—use those questions you asked earlier to build a chapter full of unanswered questions and unexplored plot points. YOU might not even know the answer to those questions, but the simple act of writing them out in story form might be just what you need to discover which ones you’d most like to explore.
  • Scrawl out a list of scenes you imagine taking place in your book. Don’t worry about plot holes or going in chronological order—just get your ideas down on paper. Later, you can go back and organize them in a more formulaic three-act structure.
  • Freewrite—don’t necessarily write Chapter One, just pick up your pencil (or crack open your laptop) and start writing. Chat with your potential main character, write an exchange between two side characters—anything goes!
  • Make a Pinterest board. This is something I do for every one of my ideas, and it’s a great way to learn more about your characters and setting. As you search for images that reflect your story idea, keep asking those questions—when you’re done, you’ll have a board with pictures of characters, locations, and important objects, plus a better understanding of your story idea.
  • Talk to someone—sometimes the simple act of explaining your idea out loud will help cement it in your mind. Plus, if you find the right person to listen, they might even have a few ideas to offer. Brainstorming with another person is always a great way to capture that inspiration.

And…there you have it. Maybe there are a few ideas that will help spark your inspiration—and maybe not. Our brains are all different, and they all work in different ways. Just because these tips and tricks have helped me in the past, that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily work for you. One of the most important things to remember while plotting and brainstorming is that what works for others might not necessarily work for you. And that’s fine. As you grow as a writer, you’ll develop your own system for finding, chasing, and capturing inspiration.

Have you already started to develop that system? If so, how do you hunt it down? I’d love to hear about your process in the comments!

About the Author:

Homeschooled since kindergarten, Taylor Bennett is the seventeen-year-old author of Porch Swing Girl, which will be released by Mountain Brook Ink on May 1st. When she’s not reading or writing, Taylor can be found playing her violin or taking walks in the beautiful Oregon countryside. She loves to connect with readers via her author website, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (her favorite!), Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Connect with Taylor:


Blog Tour - "Porch Swing Girl" by Taylor Bennett (Teen Author!): Inspiration: Chase it, Find it, CAPTURE IT! @TessaEmilyHall #amwriting

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for having me on you blog, Tessa! I had a great time and I’m thrilled that you’re enjoying Porch Swing Girl :)


Thanks for stopping by my blog!