Writing Inspiration . . . Where do you find yours?
Admittedly, I’ve found mine scouring book covers online, stock photo sites, snapshots of actors, models, cover models, body builders, body builders that moonlight as cover models, talk show hosts, etc, etc., etc. I found inspiration for my upcoming book entirely by accident.
I’d been researching Marines in Afghanistan and wanted to know a little bit about their daily life over there. What do they do in their down time, do they even have down time, do they have access to Facebook, Twitter, Skype, cell phones or texting to keep in touch with their loved ones at home? How do the loved ones at home handle the long separations? How do the long separations affect their relationships?
Since I’m phenomenally good at procrastinating, and Facebook plays a large part in that procrastination, I thought it was only fair to turn to the site for help. I simply sent out a feeler. I posted a comment, asking for anyone who knew of someone with personal experience and who wouldn’t mind giving me some info. I got an immediate response from an elementary school teacher in my home town of Gueydan, LA, whose son, a Marine, had recently left the Corps. She gave me his name, tagged him in the message, and I contacted him. Not only has Lance Corporal Ben Bonin proven to be a wealth of information for me, he’s turned into a dear friend as well. He and his girlfriend, Haley Broussard, were so helpful to me in researching my previous book, MEAGAN’S MARINE, I decided to write them in that book as secondary characters. Their roles were so promising, that I eventually decided to give them their own book.
I wanted to meet them in person, so we met at a lovely seafood restaurant called the Regatta La. Seafood & Steakhouse, in Ben’s hometown of Lake Arthur, a town I’d spent lots of time in my previous life/marriage.
I sat there for two and a half hours, taking pages of notes, as these two young adults regaled me with stories of their personal experiences. Ben Bonin comes from good people in a small town. He was a good kid, athletic, respectful, and responsible. Or as they say where I come from, he was raised right. Tall and broad shouldered, with brown hair, hazel eyes and a kind smile, he looked like a clean cut, all American boy next door.
Ben Bonin (Pronounced Bo-nay)
Ben gave me so much insight to what life in Afghanistan was like for him. He’d been deployed twice, that’s two 7 month deployments to Afghanistan. He described so many things, like the act of ‘digging in’ while deployed and out on a mission. That’s digging a hole, in the cover of complete darkness, large enough for the entire team of four men to hide inside. He told me how, when waiting inside that hole for members of the Taliban to reveal themselves while setting out road bombs, the wind would blow that desert sand in a steady and repeated pattern that hit their helmets right at eye level. He told me about narrowly missing a road bomb himself. He described the feeling of weeks or months of dirt and sand build up, caked upon his skin. Wipes are a piss poor substitution for soap and fresh water, a rarity in the desert, but they were better than nothing. How when he got home, he’d take three or four baths a day . . . just because he could and it felt so damned good to be clean. How thoughts of his girl, waiting for him back at home, filled his daytime thoughts when he wasn’t occupied with a mission. How images of her invaded his dreams as he slept. I recently heard how he lost so much weight during his first deployment due to the heat, that he got the nickname “Bones”. How sick he got of eating the MRE’s…so sick that everything got to taste the same. How his mom sent him bags of Ramen noodles, his favorite meal when mixed with plain old oatmeal—yep, you read correctly—oatmeal MIXED with Ramen noodles and eaten as one meal, simply because it wasn’t the same on crap. . . nom, nom, nom!
Then I turned to Haley, a pretty, fresh-faced girl with big brown eyes and auburn hair.
Haley Broussard (Pronounced Brew-sard)
She grew up in another small town not far from where I live now, and rode horses all her life. She’s competed in rodeos for years, and I’ve seen enough of the footage to know she’s damn good at it.
“What was it like to have the man you loved so far away, Haley?” I asked her.
She turned to Ben, linked her hand in his, and stared into his eyes. She told me about the three torturous weeks with no word from him. How she moped around the house, bit her nails, ate sunflower seeds by the pound, tried to sleep a lot, jumped at every phone call, checked her Facebook account constantly (in case her phone wouldn’t ring), snapped at her poor mother, and finally screamed when the caller ID showed his number. How she couldn’t speak for a moment, her relief was so great. How they talked until they couldn’t anymore because someone else needed the phone. And how, once the call ended, she started all over again with worrying about the love of her life until he made it back to the Battalion Base so she could see his face during Skype calls. She told me about his thoughtful and romantic acts—actually admits that he’s more romantic than she is. (Earlier, he’d bragged to me in a text message about how romantic he was—I had laughed, then answered that I’d have to hear that from her mouth before believing it.) As it turns out, this particular Marine could give lessons on being romantic. Maybe it’s because he knew how easy it was to lose everything in a flash. He arranged to have a single fresh rose sent to her every Monday. I know, right? Sigh… And how he rented a stretch Hummer for her 21st birthday for her and all of her friends.
She told me that he insisted that she fly with HIS family to meet him in Hawaii after his deployment.
She also said how she entered their hotel room to find that he had rose petals spread all over their room, from the door to the bed, with candles lit and everything.
“Seriously?” I asked. Haley looked at Ben, and beamed up at her sweet Marine, as he sent me a slightly sheepish grin and nodded. Only slightly, I emphasize, because he was totally confident and proud of his actions.
OH. MY. GOD.
How could I not fall in love with this couple? It was inevitable. That’s when I decided that book would not only share some of their experiences, but that I had to have these two beautiful people on the cover of what I would forever consider to be their book. I mean—just look at these two!
They are both such bright, young, responsible and respectable adults. When I first met them, both were students, and Ben worked part time. Since then, Haley has graduated from Lamar University in medical sonography. Ben should be graduating from technical college in May and is working as an electrician’s helper during the week.
I expect an invitation to their wedding one day. I’ve already told him I hope he wears his dress blues. I guess it’s because my dad was a Marine also, and I admit I have a weakness for Marines in uniform. I expect to see them have beautiful children one day. I know they are wonderful people who will contribute something good to this world. And if they never do another thing, they will have inspired me to write a story based somewhat upon their unfailing and inspirational love. I haven’t finished the book yet, so I haven’t scheduled the photo shoot for the cover. I have some ideas about what I want. I guess I’ll have to wait and see if they pan out for the book cover. He’s already informed me that he won’t do anything to disrespect the uniform…and the cammies are as much a part of the uniform as the dress blues or the greens.
The working title for their book was RAINY SEASON, but certain input from Ben has led me to change it to ONE YEAR TO FOREVER, because, as Corporal Bonin so eloquently stated, “It means something.” And that’s just how Haley’s Marine rolls . . . Oo-rah, Benjamin . . .
Sometimes life can influence fantasy in a good way.
Have a good one!
MEAGAN’S MARINE is book 3 of my Halos & Horns series, which is a spin-off series from my La Fleur de Love series. Seriously folks, I started a spin-off series so I could put real people on the covers of my books. It’s a little difficult to form a physical bond with a silhouette…know what I mean? I chose the fabulous Scott Nova as the male cover model for my book, simply because he fits my mental image of Master Sergeant Mitchell Hebert. Right at 6′ tall and as fit as a Marine of 20 years. Had my fabulous cover artist, Kim Killion, add the USMC tattoo on his arm. I’m partial to the old globe and eagle tat, since my daddy, a WWII vet, had one on his arm also.
Incidentally, MEAGAN’S MARINE also got a rave review from InD’tale review magazine, and it’s building a decent amount of favorable reviews on Amazon, as well. Here’s what InD’tale had to say.
It’s tough going for single mom, Meagan Hutton. She has to keep up with an active three-year-old son, her job as bartender extraordinaire at Red’s club, and her online college classes—all while doing whatever she can to make ends meet. Throw in paranormal activity of the creepy kind, happening with disturbing frequency in her home, and she’s struggling just to stay sane. The last thing she needs is a handsome, though hesitant, Marine sniffing around her or her son.
Master Sergeant Mitchell Hebert, recently retired from the U.S. Marines, likes keeping things simple. He’s had an easy time of it, right up until a pretty barmaid with a Texas twang crept her way into every thought his last several months in the middle east. When they met a year ago, a relationship seemed promising, until he discovered she was a package deal. Turns out, her ex-fiancé, a fellow Marine who lost his life in Afghanistan, left her with a son to raise on her own…and a little something extra.
The Halos and Horns series is filled with new characters you’ll love, along with frequent appearances of old favorites from my La Fleur de Love series. Enjoy!
~ Lori Leger ~
It’s a good thing I never claimed to be an avid blogger, or else I’d have to own up to it and call myself a liar. Sheesh! I’ve published two books since my last blog post. This one is the fourth book in the Seasons of Love seasonal anthologies I publish with other authors. As you can see by the cover, CHRISTMAS BY CANDLELIGHT is another Christmas themed book. We have several return authors in this one, a wonderful group of ladies that I love working with. These books haven’t made money hand over fist for us, but our names are reaching fans of other writers, that may well have bypassed us, if not for these anthologies. Here’s the rundown on this book which, I’m proud to say, received 4.5 stars and a Crowned Heart from InD’tale review magazine. As a matter of fact, I’m so particularly proud of this review, that I’m going to post it here, for your reading pleasure.
BABY BLUES CHRISTMAS – Cathryn and Zach are newlyweds juggling business and careers, breaking and entering, and the tough task of baby making. Throw in a little family drama and a dark secret and it makes for a memorable first Christmas together. ~ Lori Leger (This is part 3 of the Cathryn/Zach saga, started in “Loving Cat”, my short story in the SPRING PROMISE book, continued in “Still Loving Cat” in the SWEET SUMMERTIME LOVE book, and culminating in “Baby Blues Christmas” in the CHRISTMAS BY CANDLELIGHT book.) So, whatever you do, don’t read these out of order.
CHRISTMAS IN WHISTLER – Hurt by her ex-husband and his scheming girlfriend, Daria Stark hopes to leave her heartbreak behind during a week-long ski trip over the holidays. Can a sexy frenchman brighten her aura before she heads home to reality? ~ Kim Hornsby
GIFT FROM THE HEART – Simone escaped her past for ten long years, but when an old crush appears from out of nowhere, Christmas takes a nostalgic turn for the worst. Will it eventually bring her the
peace and forgiveness she’s been missing in her life, or another case of heartbreak she can’t outrun? ~ Trish F. Leger
A HEART AWAKENS – As soon as Cara adopts a clever puppy, her life begins to change. When the widowed freelance writer starts to fall for a hunky landscaper, past troubles and feelings of loyalty to her dead husband threaten her chance at happiness ~ Karen Sue Burns
ONE STEP OVER THE MISTLETOE LINE – Claire’s plan to get away to a cabin for Christmas goes from perfect to complicated when her handsome neighbor RJ shows up in the middle of a snow storm. She
immediately realizes the potential for trouble at this cozy cabin with bear skin rug and hot toddies aplenty. As if a Christmas Eve couldn’t get any more dangerous, there’s a bad Santa afoot.~ Carmine Valentine
SUMMER LOVIN’ – Garden gnomes are mysteriously appearing at Ella’s townhouse complex. When Jim, a sexy as hell detective with ulterior motives agrees to help her solve the whodunit, their mutual attraction takes them from gnomes to ninety in record time. ~ Karen Sue Burns
DO-OVER SUMMER – The summer starts out on the wrong foot for Jewel Price, bookstore owner on Daniels Island. Infatuated with the visiting celebrity novelist, Matt Cross, Jewell soon finds herself in too deep with a man who might be interested in her for all the wrong reasons. ~ Kim Hornsby
STILL LOVING CAT – Zachary has waited twelve years to marry the only girl he’s ever loved. Two weeks shy of their much anticipated wedding day, an accident has Cathryn waking in a hospital, with no memory of the last year of her life. Can Zach love her enough to make her remember why she left a fiance and the picture perfect lifestyle she thought she had in Dallas? ~ Lori Leger
THE LAST BLIND DATE – Mimi Goodenough has no idea what’s in store for her as she zips herself into her satin evening gown having agreed to one last blind date. Her best friend has good intentions, but even she didn’t see this one coming. The evening starts with sexual tension and dangerous sparks with a man she can hardly resist. Derek Black isn’t just any blind date. Charming and handsome, yes, but something is amiss. From the glittering lights of Seattle to the shadowy foothills of the Cascade Mountains, hang onto your stilettos, Mimi! In one evening, she finds romance and danger on a champagne-fueled thrill ride. ~ Carmine Valentine
It’s official…I LOVE to fly!
Honestly, I was terrified that I’d be one of those people who’d be air-sick. Not so, as a matter of fact, I particularly enjoy the take offs, landings, any sign of turbulence, and when the plane makes the sharply angled turns. FUN! Wish I could afford to do it more often.
And Vegas. What can I say? It was exhausting! I developed a serious case of cankles on the second day and didn’t see my ankles again for the rest of the week. The flight home was painful for my legs and feet. But, it was fabulous too! I hated to leave because I’d just begun to relax and see a few things, such as the sights and sounds of Fremont street at night. It’s one giant party, with fabulous light shows overhead, street vendors, live bands, people dressed up as everything from the Transformers to Gerard Butler in 300, to Rick James and Michael Jackson. Of course there are always Elvis look a likes and girls dressed in feathers.It’s amazing! I saw a few poor souls holding cardboard signs claiming to be homeless and asking for donations so they could eat…or not…who knows? Mostly though, I saw couples, walking hand in hand, families with toddlers in strollers, older people experiencing it for the first time, like myself, and security guards…cops. Lots and lots of cops…both men and women, there to make their presence known and ward off any signs of trouble. Honestly, I was alone, and felt completely safe and comfortable. The place was lit up like it was daytime, except when they toned down the lights for the light show. It was awesome and I want to go back with my hubby.
As far as gambling is concerned…it’s not my thing. My soul sista/roommate, Arlene, kept saying “You’re in VEGAS, you have to gamble a little!” Poor thing, she did mostly everything alone because I was busy with convention things all day and by the end of the night I was too pooped and in too much pain to do anymore walking. She left two days before I did, so didn’t get to see me actually put a $5 bill into a penny machine and play for a whole hour. Whoo Hoo, big spender!
Romance Novel Convention #1: Fabulous! Jimmy Thomas did an awesome job, considering it was his first and in my opinion, tried to take too much of it on himself. NOBODY can do that by themselves. But he’s promised that next year’s will be more organized, bigger, and better. Knowing what I do about the man, I totally believe him and will attempt to do everything I can to attend next year’s July convention.
I didn’t have a chance to attend as many classes as I wanted to…sometimes there were two or three I wanted to attend going on at the same time. Sometimes I’d take someone else’s place as a volunteer so someone else could go to a class. This convention was all about networking and meeting people for me and getting my name out there. I believe I accomplished my goal. And by golly, they WILL know how to pronounce my last name at the next convention! I lost count of how many times I said “It’s “Lay’-jhay … not Lee-ger!”
The entertainment set up by Jimmy Thomas was amazing! An Elvis tribute artist who is professional enough to be the first one invited to perform inside the gates of Graceland. The voice, the gold lame jacket and skinny black slacks, the hair, the dance moves…all amazingly similar to the KING of pop. Such a talent. Acts included quick change artists and magicians, singers, and Julian Mora of International Men of Steel, performing an awesome show to Jon Bon Jovi’s “Wanted, Dead or Alive”. What can I say? The crowd went wild! A costume ball with two huge props: one a gorgeous dress make of damaged pages of discarded books from a local library. The other, a huge opened book, a “Once Upon a Time…” page with gorgeous scenery on the opposite page. Both were exquisite pieces of artwork. The costume party was so much fun and ALL the guys danced their feet off with us gals…even Chief Running Bare-Chested Jimmy Thomas. It was actually the first time any of us got to see him cut loose a little and have some fun. Did I mention it was a family affair for him? Both his younger brother, Billy, and his mom, Cynthia, were also in attendance and working their bums off with everyone else. I mustn’t forget to mention “Big Mike” Michael O’Hearn, a previous holder of the Mr. Universe title. Yes, I got pictures with him…:D.
And then there were the Casanova Suitors, mingling with us all week, pitching in, helping, being perfectly adorable gentlemen. All four of the guys were so friendly and talkative. Jimmy certainly knows how to pick them. They called bingo…even played strip bingo one day, which I’m sad to say, I missed. I heard they stopped at the briefs or boxers. They performed live, acting out scenes as someone narrated from three different excerpts of books. It was laugh out loud hilarious! They danced to “Open Arms” and “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” to the delight of everyone in attendance. They answered questions, smiled for us, flexed for us, and put up with dozens of screaming women judging their handsome, though well-covered derrieres. There could only be one winner, alas, and Shawn Cunningham was voted Mr. RNC Casanova while the others congratulated him.
I met the charismatic board of InD’Tale review magazine, including the fabulous T.J. McKay, it’s president/owner. InD’tale hosted the first ever RONE’ award ceremony, which I was honored to be nominated for. The first anthology, Hearts, Hearths & Holidays, published by my Cajunflair Publishing company, was up for an award, and though we didn’t win, we got certificates for First Honorable Mention…which is equivalent to first runner up. Not too shabby but I’m determined to win next year. Speaking of winning, my sweet-as-can-be friend and fellow Ass Cheek Angel, Kellie Kamryn, won for her book, The Perfect Score, in a different category and I was honored to go up and accept for her. It couldn’t have gone to a more worthy author and Mama Angel is so unbelievably proud of Baby Angel!
All in all, I came back with super positive feelings for the RNC convention and Jimmy Thomas, as well as the lovely ladies of InD’tale magazine. I will be pinching pennies to try to go again next year, when I’ll attempt to get my hubby to go with me. I think I could have a blast with him in Vegas, don’t you?
Until next time,
Click this link to see a video of my week at RNC in Vegas!
The book on screen…
2013 RNC Logo
SECOND TIME AT LOVE – When a divorced couple has a longshot meeting in Las Vegas, sparks fly to reignite their smoldering feelings for each other. Will their rekindled feelings crap out, or result in a jackpot? ~ Karen Sue Burns
STAYING INN – A young widow trying to recover from her painful past, falls for a charming guest at her bed and breakfast. The promise of new love seems within reach until she learns of her mystery man’s hidden agenda. ~ Alicia Dean
HIS FOR ONE NIGHT – Left with staggering school loans and medical bills, Erin spends one evening as a rich man’s escort in order to free herself from debt. Will a single night in the company of the man of her dreams lead to more than she bargained for? ~ Trish F. Leger
LOVING CAT – After twelve years in Dallas, Cathryn ‘Cat’ McDaniel is home with two successful careers under her belt, but minus one fiance. Her first night back finds her in a close encounter with Zach, her best buddy since grade school, and the real reason she can’t commit to any other man. ~ Lori Leger
A CHILD WAS BORN (Jessica Ferguson) – When a cowboy bearing gifts crashes a BFF Christmas Retreat, he gets more than he bargained for . . . the gift of a lifetime.
BELLS WILL BE RINGING (Lori Leger) – With a looming medical diagnosis threatening their happiness, one couple is determined to celebrate the greatest gift of all…
BLUE CHRISTMAS (Alicia Dean) – When heartbreak derails a bride-to-be’s holiday cheer, will a sexy, self-proclaimed Grinch restore her Christmas spirit…and her faith in love?
THE CHRISTMAS STAR (Karen Sue Burns) – Under the glow of a magical Christmas star, two lonely people find each other and learn the true meaning of the holiday.
SHOTGUN SANTA (Jennifer Jakes) –The last thing she expected him to steal was her heart…
THREE WEEKS BEFORE CHRISTMAS (Trish F. Leger) – Through courage and perseverance one woman teaches an Earl the true meaning of the season.
TWO GIFTS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE (Kellie Kamryn) – A gift from her father brings Alyssa the chance to give herself the gift of love.
Book 2 of Halos & Horns series
Now that her abusive ex-husband is out of her life, Sarah Richard is savoring her freedom. Surrounded by people who treat her and her babies like family, the three of them are thriving. Though occasionally haunted by nightmares from her violent past, she struggles to put it behind her. With a loving surrogate family, good friends, and a new career, all she lacks is a man in her life. The question is, will she ever be able to trust another man with her and her twin daughters’ hearts?
Dr. Tanner Collins is running from his own sordid past. The man has left a trail of women from one end of Louisiana to the other, and through half the state of Texas. Even when this bad boy tries to be good, he has women throwing themselves at him at all hours of the day and night. When his admiration for Sarah turns into something stronger, he keeps his feelings in check, knowing he’ll never be near the kind of man she deserves.
When Tanner rushes to Houston to be with his parents during his father’s illness, he’s forced to deal with hidden resentments toward his upper crust parents. At some point he accepts the fact that situations aren’t always as obvious as they seem on the surface.
Note from the author:
The Halos and Horns series is filled with new characters you’ll love, along with frequent appearances of old favorites from my La Fleur de Love series. Enjoy!
~ Lori Leger ~
Okay, I admit it! I was tired of the silhouettes…I wanted to see some real faces and bodies, and yes, just a little skin. That is the only reason I decided to start a new spinoff series and call it Halos & Horns. It’s cool! My fabulous cover artist, Kimberly Killion, even designed a logo for me:
Yep! It belongs solely to me! And let’s face it, it goes nicely with my new publishing logo, doesn’t it?
Green Eyed Temptation (Formerly “Green Eyed Lady”) is the first book my Halos & Horns series. It’s a love triangle between Angelique Baptiste, Mike Harper, and Liam Nash. Who will win out? You’ll have to read it to see!
Two perfect men…One torn woman…Whose heart will be broken?