Inspiring Creative Minds Podcast - Episode 1


Hello! And welcome to the Inspiring Creative Minds podcast. I'm Jennifer Harris, author, editor, and writing coach here with author Doreen Rankin. You can find us at, home base for the Inspiring Creative Minds writing community and at

We decided to start this podcast because through our journey as writers we have experienced the fear, frustration, and confusion that comes with embracing the title of author. And we know what it is to feel the jitters as you publish your first book. But we also know the excitement you feel as you hold your first book in your hands. It’s not always an easy journey, but we hope this podcast encourages you along the way.

Since this is the first episode of the Inspiring Creative Minds podcast, we thought it would be a good opportunity to give you a little background about us and answer some of the most common questions we’re asked as authors and about the writing process.

In November 2016, we published the first book in The Catalyst Series called Choices. We first started writing the book in May of 2016. Choices was born out of a couple of questions: How do decisions made at a particular moment in time affect not only those around us, but also future generations? How far reaching can the consequences of those decisions become? How many generations are potentially affected by a single moment in time?

Doreen: I want to start with one of the most interesting questions that we’ve gotten, and Jenn just give me your honest answer about this, clearly as you can: Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

Jenn: I think being a writer is absolutely a gift. There are so many opportunities now for writers to make a living from their writing and from self publishing. We can create our own schedules and be creative and enjoy what we do. What do you think, Doreen?

Doreen: I think it’s both. I think it’s a very solitary sort of a thing to do for a living, and I guess sometimes you have a tendency to live in your head so it’s hard to become engaged sometimes when you’re out in groups with people, in social settings. If I’m in the back of my head writing a character or writing a book, then I’m sort of isolating myself. But because I enjoy being alone, I think I have a real benefit of having writing to turn to for something that entertains me and keeps me busy.

Jenn: I definitely think that you will find a lot of introverts as writers because of that very reason.

Doreen: Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

Jenn: I do. Actually, I used to write short stories all the time when I was younger and I always had a story going in my head. But when I was about 12 or 13, I started carrying around a one-subject notebook and I started writing a story. What happened was as I was writing that story my friends started to take interest in what I was going. So during study halls a couple of friends would take my notebook and read the story and it would come back with additions to the story, which was actually pretty neat because it would go around to different people. Different thoughts would be put into the book and it really developed into an awesome full-length novel. We didn’t do anything with that novel, obviously, but…

Doreen: Why not?

Jenn: Well, because we were 12 and 13. Our science teacher who knew what we were doing wanted us to submit it, but it just wasn’t something that…it was something we did for fun and we didn’t want to take the fun out of it by adding pressure.

Doreen: So do you think you were afraid to submit? I mean, there are plenty of places that a kid that age could submit things, through the school or contests or whatever. Did you just not want to? Were you afraid to share what was written down or did you just have no interest?

Jenn: I think that there was definitely a lot of fear. Fear of rejection, fear of not being taken seriously simply because of our age. And again, we were doing it for fun and having so much fun doing it that we didn’t want to put that aspect of fear into it.

Doreen: It’s interesting that you say that because don’t you think that’s the thing that stops a lot of writers as adults? Not just as kids. It’s the fear, fear of rejection or fear of the process.

Jenn: Oh, absolutely…

Doreen: Feeling like you don’t know the next step to take or what to do or whether or not…it almost seems as if it’s something that other people do. It’s impossible. It’s not a possible thing. It feels overwhelming because it is a long process.

Jenn: I think it’s definitely something that a lot of writers face, is that fear, and I mean, honestly, while that project gave me the confidence to actually finish novels in the future and over the next 20 something years, I actually didn’t publish a novel during that time because of fear. It took a very long time to get over the fear of rejection and the fear of not being taken seriously before I finally published.

Doreen: I think a lot of people feel that way. I think that’s a real common feeling and I think it’s something that stops a lot of writers who may really have a fantastic book and something to put out there that people would enjoy and they’re just sort of frozen in the process. It’s an involved process and they can may get through part of it and get the writing, the actual writing done, but then the rest of it seems overwhelming. So I’m hoping we can take this opportunity with this podcast to address some of the things that have stopped people because I had a very similar experience to yours in that I’ve always written. I’ve written since I was very young. It just never occurred to me that I could actually be an author, that I could actually have a book that was published that other people could read. It felt like that was just a dream, that was something that other people did, I didn’t do.

Jenn: Right.

Doreen: So hopefully maybe we can give people tips on how we overcame some of that and ended up with a published novel and, you know, a series of novels.

Jenn: Absolutely. That’s the whole purpose. Our next question is where is your favorite place to write?

Doreen: My favorite place to write is in my office. I have my office set up just exactly the way I like it and that’s my go-to quiet place to do whatever it is I’m going to do at the time, but I have everything set up just the way I want it. I have my coffee mug. My dog stays in there with me. His dog bed’s in there, and that’s just my quiet time and I absolutely love my office. It’s set up just for that. How about you?

Jenn: I actually don’t have a favorite place. It depends on my mood for the day. Sometimes, if it’s a gorgeous day outside I’ll sit out on the lawn or the rock outside or under a tree, which is great because I have the laptop and can do that. Sometimes I sit at my desk when I really need to focus. Other times I’m sitting on the couch with my two dogs at my feet and my cat in my lap, so that’s a very comfortable place. I really don’t have a favorite place. Sometimes the beach. It’s just wherever I feel like being at that moment.

Doreen: I actually wrote a whole scene at the hairdresser’s one day while I was waiting for the hair dye to be washed out - on my iPad.

Jenn: I’ve been there. Fencing practice that my son goes to—I’ve sat there watching his fencing practice writing an entire scene in a notebook.

Doreen: So no hard and fast rules just wherever it comes to you and that’s the time…when you have the inspiration, that’s the time to write it.

Jenn: Absolutely!

Doreen: Here’s another question that we got that I thought was kind of interesting. I don’t know how easy it is to answer. Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits? When they’re your habits I guess they don’t seem unique or quirky. Off the top of your head what do you think? Can you come up something that you think is kind of a unique or quirky habit?

Jenn: Well, I agree, because I do them, I don’t think that they’re necessarily quirky, but they probably are. One of the biggest things that comes to mind is standing up and acting out different scenes or motions to get a really good feel of what I’m trying to describe. So sometimes you might walk into a room and you might find me acting out this weird motion that makes absolutely no sense out of context just so I can get a feel for what I’m trying to say.

Doreen: Right, and we had quite a few scenes where we had to do that, where the action in the scene was fairly intense and it had multiple characters involved in the action and sometimes in order to describe it properly you have to act it out. You have to think about how you move your body in a scene where there’s a lot of action. Say you’re going to take a swing at somebody and they’re behind the counter, how do you describe how you’re going to do that? Are you reaching across the counter? What’s the arc of your arm? I think there’s a lot to be said for actually just being able to act out that action. Maybe other people do that, I don’t know. But I guess in my head that would be the only thing I could come up with that would maybe be considered quirky or a unique way to write a scene or write part of a scene.

Jenn: Another question that we get asked a lot is an interesting or fun fact about our book. For people who haven’t read it yet and they want to know, “What’s really interesting about your book?” That’s a really interesting question because sometimes when you’ve written the book and lived in it for so long, it’s hard to come up with an interesting or fun fact because you lived it, you created it, and you don’t know what other people might find interesting or fun or different about your book. So I think that’s a really good question.

Doreen: Yeah, it is because I think it’s really hard to pick out some part of the book that you’ve written…I think the whole book is interesting!

Jenn: Well, we wrote it, so…!

Doreen: But yeah, it’s hard to pick out the one thing that you think is maybe interesting or a fun fact. I think probably maybe people would find it interesting that one of our major characters in the book, and she’s actually the character that tells the story, she doesn’t have the ability to speak and so her point of view comes from her thought process and what happens in her head. And so, I think that’s probably not a real common way of writing a story and I think maybe it’s unique to us. I don’t know.

Jenn: Yeah, I don’t know, but when you came to me with that idea and I read the first few scenes, I thought it was extremely interesting and definitely a pleasure to read.

Doreen: Let’s go to our last question, we’ll wrap it up. Is there an overall message you want the read to get from the book?

Jenn: For me the overall message would be that the choices we make in any moment in time have such far reaching consequences that we can’t even imagine. Decisions made back in say 1951 actually affect people here in 2017 and I think people when they’re making decisions and they’re faced with choices, they don’t always think about how far reaching the consequences of those decisions can actually be. And I think it’s really important to just take a step back and really think about that. It’s amazing. It really is amazing. You might think of it as the ripple effect, but it’s just it’s amazing how far reaching the consequences can actually become.

Doreen: Yeah, I feel like that’s the same message that I hope people will get, is that what seems like a small decision to you can have a huge impact on the future and that can impact people you don’t even know. People who aren’t even born the day you make that decision can be impacted by your choice, what choice you make and you might have several choices in any given situation and those, probably all of those choices, have the potential to have some impact in the future, but the wrong choice or as we show in this book a lot, the selfish choice, can potentially have a devastating impact. I think that’s kind of the message I want people to hear from this story.

Jenn: I agree. I agree, that’s the overall message…and I hope that you will check out the book! You can find it on It’s available in Kindle and paperback.

We just wanted to take a moment to thank you for listening to the Inspiring Creative Minds podcast. You can find new episodes of the podcast every first Monday of the month. Next month’s topic will be about the writing process and brainstorming story ideas.  

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Music for this episode: Into the Clouds by Nicolai Heidlas