SkipJack congratulates Pamela Fagan Hutchins for winning the 2017 Silver Falchion for Best Adult Mystery with her heartfelt and suspenseful Fighting for Anna. We hope you enjoy this inspirational post from Pamela.

Writers often get asked where they write and what inspires them. My answer has always been that I like to write outside. Pedantic, though true enough. But that isn’t the complete answer. As writers, becoming really clear about what results in the creation of your best work requires inner transparency, clarity, and honesty. It begs experimentation. It demands you listen.

I write “outside” in a variety of spaces because in order for me to release—or even find—the words from inside me, I need inner space, away from my Type A self and the myriad reasons/stressors that I can find, gather, or manufacture as an excuse not to write. So the question of where and how I am most creative, and its honest answer, is important.

I’m going to try to answer it.

Today I am awake in a completely dark house. It’s 10 degrees outside and snowy. With the windows around me, curtains back, and no houses in my vantage point, I feel as though I am out there, even though I am toasty warm inside on the couch by an old stove.

The sun is about to rise.

The badlands to the east are a dark heartline against the lightening sky. There’s an ohm-like hum as pink and orange seep upward, infusing the underbelly of barely blue clouds and splashing out over the snow-swept slopes of the Bighorns. The hum rises in pitch and intensity. Slowly, the Big Sky catches fire in a ring around the Earth. Deer rise in a graceful dance, tails and ears twitching as they listen, button noses high, seeking messages from the Wind. The hum reaches its crescendo, a hallelujah chorus to the morning, and the colors thin out, melting into a liquid gold that trickles overhead. The Fireball rises over the horizon, and the grateful world kneels at its feet. A chimera shimmers and I catch it in my startled chest. The exultant chorus gives over to the sweet morning song of the prairie birds. The day has begun.

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My day has begun, and by participating in this timeless ritual, my heart has been laid open, my mind cleared, and my core exposed to the essence of Place. In the span of this sunrise, the chimera—the collective histories of all that was before me—has seeped into me. Because of this place and its miracle, what was empty in me is filled. I’ve stolen a piece of magic from the sky.

So it turns out that I need the outdoors for my writing because it fills me with iridescent magic before the everyday can mire me down. That magic becomes words on a page if I move quickly enough to capture it before it fades away. I may be writing about Texas or the Virgin Islands or New Mexico, but this time spent in the great outdoors of Wyoming will move through me long after I leave.

And that is my answer. That is where I write, how, and why. What’s yours?


Pamela Fagan Hutchins, winner of the 2017 Silver Falchion award for Best Mystery (Fighting for Anna), writes overly long e-mails, hilarious nonfiction (What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too?), and series mysteries, like those in her What Doesn’t Kill You world, which includes the bestselling Saving Grace and the 2015 and 2016 WINNERS of the USA Best Book Award for Cross Genre Fiction, Heaven to Betsy and Hell to Pay. You can snag her newest release, Bombshell, if you’ve already run the rest of the table. She teaches writing, publishing, and promotion at the SkipJack Publishing Online School (where you can take How to Sell a Ton of Books, FREE) and writes about it here on the SkipJack Publishing blog.

Pamela resides deep in the heart of Nowheresville, Texas and in the frozen north of Snowheresville, Wyoming. She has a passion for great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as long hikes and trail rides with her hunky husband, giant horses, and pack of rescue dogs, donkeys, and goats. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound (if she gets a good running start).

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12 Responses to Stealing Magic From the Sky: What Inspires Your Best Writing?

  1. Eric Hutchins says:


  2. My best writing comes from time alone…I need inner and outer space to ponder the good, the bad and the ugly of my stories, and my life. My best writing comes EARLY in the morning: 5 – 7 am before my family and the world is up and moving. It gives me time to think. And YES I love the outdoors, but that’s not always possible, so I take what I can get.

    • Pamela says:

      Man I wish I could write early in the morning, but it’s rare when my psyche cooperates with that. But I wrote this blog at 5 am. So maybe I can sometimes. 😉

      • Sounds like you have a good system going. When you need some inspiration, I’d recommend reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s BIG MAGIC. She has a take on creativity in a way that I’ve never heard of before, and is REALLY making me reconsider my way of thinking. m3

  3. LOVE those peaceful pictures. Wow, you guys, what a wonderful place. I’m the opposite – when I try to write outside, I see and hear too many things that distract me. I just sit and veg. What works for me is that I have a beautiful office Alpha Hubby built for me away from the normal traffic of a home. It is slowly coming together with things that bring me peace – pictures, sheers that flow in the breeze, the two 6′ windows full of outside beauty, furniture that fits me, green plants that require little maintenance. It is a writing room, nothing else. The bills get paid and files filed elsewhere. Blog posts just “come” to me and I sit down and it flows out. The books? Not so much. With them I schedule time to write.

    • Pamela says:

      Never knock a schedule. And a set of goals. They keep me going. Your office sounds peaceful and inspiring!

  4. Bob Ranck says:

    Such inspiring sights, such beautiful words. I Know the beauties of those places and they do make the angels want to sing at the sight.

    But for me, the places of greatest inspiration are those simple little bundles of memories, tied up and shelved in my mind, each one unwrapped and opened to reveal a treasure of words, images, and thoughts picked up like souvenir gifts, years ago. This unwrapping is done in the cab of a Freightliner, backed up at midnight to a loading dock in Tinley Park or seated at the table in my wife’s sewing room with a Yorkshire asleep at either elbow and a laptop under my fingers.

    “Where”, exactly, does not matter if the heart is involved in the unwrapping and the soul in the writing; the truth just flows onto the page. Really, anywhere is good, if the process works. Though I will admit, some settings are better than others

    • Pamela says:

      Hats off, sir. Beautiful, inspiring words that made my heart smile. And is your Tinley Park in NM or IL? Because IL has the worst interstates IMHO, and broke the microwave in my RV. Still pisses me off 😉

  5. Thanks for the shout-out, SkipJack Publishing. I’m so grateful to be one of your authors, and appreciate all that you do!