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July 11, 2013

Elizabeth Essex: In Praise of Pinterest

One of the things I am asked most often as an author is, “Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?”
And my answer is always the same: everywhere.
I get them from other books that I’ve read, and photos that I have seen. From the music that I listen to, the stories that I hear, and experiences that I’ve had. I remember all these things. But I am a visual thinker. I think of my collected experiences as a series of live pictures—like
an endless personal movie running constantly in my head. And so, for inspiration, I like to surround myself with pictures of the things that help me visualize my story.
My current book, SCANDAL IN THE NIGHT, is a story of love lost and found, set in pre-Raj India, and in the mid-19th century English countryside. To help visualize and write the story, I sought out photos that augmented or supported the images that the story had created in my head. And the place where I could most easily find them and collect them was Pinterest.
Pinterest gives it’s users the ability to search through a vast store of varied visual images, on a variety of different topics of interest, at one centralized  “web location.” And better yet, it lets users manipulate, move and store the images in ways that are useful to the user.

On my Pinterest page, I made a “closed” board—think of a virtual bulletin board—where I could collect and pin those images. In fact, I made a board for each of my novels. I searched for and collected the images that inspired me—the images that helped me with descriptions in a particular scene, gave me a sense of the colors in my hero and heroine’s world, and let me go ‘shopping’ for their clothes. On each ‘pin’ I was also able to write down the associations I had for each picture, of where I thought it fit in my story.
And when I had them all collected together, I opened the board and made it accessible to everyone else, so now you can see what I saw while I was writing. I have six boards up at present—one for each of my books. And more boards are in progress, being made as I write.:)
Have a look for yourself, and see what you think (click here).
You can also visit boards of other members of the PlottingPrincesses.
Elizabeth Essex is the award-winning author of the critically-acclaimed Reckless Brides historical romances. Romance so good it’s scandalous...
Amazon | B & N | iTunes

What do you think of Pinterest? Do you like to see photographs that authors have chosen to represent the images in their heads, or would you prefer to keep your own mental images of the book instead? Or perhaps make Pinterest boards of your own for the stories you've enjoyed reading? Tell us what you think.


Sylvia said...

Hi Liz,
What a great idea. I never thought of using Pinterest this way. I'm going to steal your idea and use for Christmas book I'm working on.


Unknown said...

Great Sylvia!

That's just what I wanted to hear. Now you're inspired too!

I think you are going to find it a great deal of fun. But be careful, it can swallow you whole for hours at a time. I like to give myself Sunday mornings to work on my boards. Then after that, it's back to my writing. Otherwise I would spend waaay too much time there.

Cheers, EE

Unknown said...


2 Copies of SCANDAL IN THE NIGHT are up for grabs today to random commenters! Tell you friends. :)

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Good morning, Ms. Essex! I love pinterest, but have not taken the time to create boards. I do have covers up with information on my site and the PP site. Pinterest can be a fun place to browse and discover. hugs

Tin said...

Hi, Elizabeth!

I think Pinterest is a really useful way to organize and collect ideas. I've enjoyed looking at people's boards and discover new recipes, new worksheets and activities for kids, printables, etc. --

I like seeing authors' vision of their characters and the world they have created in their stories. ^_^

Unknown said...

Morning, Elizabeth! I enjoy visual images, and visiting Pinterest/Tumblr...etc. I believe when posting/sharing photographs on my timeline wall on FB, that I am inspiring my author friends/artist friends. I am delighted and take pleasure/joy that I've helped in researching a gown, or place, that they needed as inspiration for their novel or a sewing project.

Barb Han said...

Now that's a great use of Pinterest. Sadly, I can get distracted for hours looking at all the pretty pictures.

Unknown said...


You might give an inspiration board a try (in your copious spare time-NOT!) :)

It's a handy place to collect ideas for future books as well. I have 'secret' boards, which are just not public yet, of images that have already, or might spark my imagination. It's a great place to put that picture that makes you think, "I've always wanted to write a story about...."

Cheers, EE

Unknown said...


I have to say that I'm not much of a foodie, but I can see the possibilities of seeing photos and getting inspired without having to keep a shelf full of cookbooks in the house.

And I am so glad to hear that you like to see what authors put on their boards. I really have fun making the boards, and get a lot of pleasure out of sharing them.

Good luck in the drawing, and thanks so much for stopping by to chat today. Cheers, EE

Unknown said...


I'm so happy to see you here, today! (Waving!)

And yo are very correct—I know I have been inspired by gowns (was it a redingote?) that you've posted on your FB. Great way to share information. Oh, and I HAVE to share one of the absolute BEST Pinterest Boards for anyone interested in the Regency Period: Regency Quill

Seriously GORGEOUS images, of everything you could imagine. Have fun looking.

Best of luck in the drawing, and thanks so much for stopping by to chat. Cheers, EE

Unknown said...


Try my Sunday morning time slot. And maybe use a self timer from your iphone? Some times I make a list of things, like "I could use a photo of Jessica Chastain." Or "let me see if I can find a good shot of a frigate."

It helps keep me a little bit on track. And one image leads to another, and the next thing I know the board is filling up. :)

Good luck staying on track! :) Cheers, EE

Phyllis said...

iiz - Cool post.
I admit I am a Pinterest member, but I haven't don't anything with it since I started. Personally, it another thing to take up my time.
I'm very glad it works so well for you.

Unknown said...


With all the demands on our time, I try to use my 'playtime' on Pinterest constructively, using it as a reward when I have hit my goals for the day. And I find a little creative playtime keeps my creative batteries charged as it were. All work and no play makes Mrs. Essex a dull writer. :)

And I admit I lean on it heavily when I am about to start into a new story. It helps me refine my ideas about characterization. And it's FUN! Which is why I like to write romance. :)

Happy pinning, and happier writing. Cheers, EE

Kathy Ivan said...

I know we've talked about Pinterest, and I haven't taken the plunge yet, but seeing all those gorgeous pictures on your sight have inspired me. I'm going to stick the big toe in the waters and give it a shot. I love the way you use it for inspiration for your stories. That's such a great idea. I'm going to give it a try.

Unknown said...


Oh, HUZZAH! It really is fun and easy. I know you'll be able to find pictures of 'mountain lodges' and there will be one that will just spark your imagination, and you'll be off and writing. :)

And pictures of the keys.....Just saying. :)

Happy pinning, and happy writing! Cheers, EE

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Liz,
What a great idea! I loved looking at your pix. I've been wondering what the heck pinterest is used for b/c I just don't get it. But you have showed me a use for it. :)

Happy pinning! :)

Unknown said...


As an author, this is just one way that I use it for inspiration and communication, but as a plain old mom and shoe-aholic, I have personal boards with clothes and shoe combinations etc. etc.

And I can see using it as a research tool too. One Pinterest member of spoke of in one of the other comments, Regency Quill, has collected a HUGE inventory of images pertaining to the Regency. I go to her board first when I need an image of anything from that era. Great research tool.

I'm sure there are other uses, but that's all I've come up with so far. :)

Cheers, EE

Kathleen Baldwin said...

This is very cool, Liz! Thank you for a great post and some wonderful photos!

Unknown said...

You are most welcome, Kat!

Sometimes all we need is good use that makes sense to us for technology to live up to its potential. :)

Thanks for stopping by! Cheers, EE

Unknown said...

And out GIVEAWAY winners are:

Tin, and Juanita Decuir!

Please send me an email to elizabeth (at) elizabethessex (dot) com with your mailing address.

Congrats, and thanks for stopping by the Plotting Princesses!

chris keniston said...

late to the party but what a wonderful and informative post - it proves what i've thought all along of your books - you could make a book about the yellow pages interesting!!!

I'm not very familiar with pinterest but am about to look into it!


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