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Epic Snake Orgy Cures Writer's Block

In my third novel, Seeing Gethin, my protagonist’s brother is crazy about snakes—brown, red, spotted, striped, harmless, venomous, or invasive. He’s a “herper”—someone who loves herpetology, the study of reptiles and amphibians.


"Do you mind? A little privacy here?" Northern water snakes in a mating ball.

Unfortunately, as I worked to make Gethin a more 3-D character, my lack of experience with snakes made me reluctant to describe them. For the most part, I had only seen snakes in zoos or killed on roads.


Cue the writer’s block.


Luckily, my partner Mickey is an athletic, impulsive sort of guy. He prescribed a rigorous hike. While gazing at the water from a grassy overlook in Riverbend Park of Great Falls, Va., he suddenly noticed movement in every nook and cranny of a stone wall beneath our feet.


There, within arm’s reach, were hundreds of Northern water snakes—brown, muscular-looking creatures writhing in large mating balls. No need for soft lights or Barry White music. The snakes were in the mood.


Back home, inspired by Snake-a-Palooza, I set my hands on the keyboard, ready to plumb Gethin’s psyche.


In my last blog entry, I described how friends can help a writer talk out whatever literary conundrum has caused writer’s block. Walking off writer’s block is another cure. You never know when you might come across an epic snake orgy.

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