I've been to Paris twice but I've...never been to Brie.
Actually, I've only been to Paris once, but what the hey.
I'm a lapsed traveller these days. It's closing in on 20 years since I last left these sunny Australian shores. The reasons for this are varied, but the two biggest ones each come with feet to shoe and a mouth to feed. And given that the first-born is intellectually-impaired to the point he'll never be an independent person, overseas holidays (and even long domestic trips) seem to be off the horizon for a while longer.
So, given that, I thought I'd talk today about inspirational places which require no travel. Places which, strictly speaking, don't exist.
I'm not going all "woo-woo" (as the lovely Sommer Marsden calls it) or spiritual. In this case, I'm talking about online.
For the last year I've been a member (and for some of that time, an Admin) of a group on Facebook called Curvy Girl Romance. As could be gathered from the title, it's a group which started simply as a place for readers to talk about Curvy/BBW romance/erotica books. Importantly, it's also a place for those readers to mix with authors of such works.
From a simple beginning, the group has evolved greatly. The focus is not so much on the books now as it is on the members—their stories, their victories, their confidence and, sometimes, their courage—and on a greater acceptance of a wide range of body types. There is nothing quite so thrilling to me (and as far as I can tell, all members) than when somebody posts a selfie with some variation on "I never post selfies but this group has given me the strength and courage to do it".
This weekend the CGR group is having a celebration for the first anniversary of its existence, though that's not the reason I'm posting today. No, I'm posting because that group is my Inpirational Place. It has become my home-away-from-home-while-still-at-home.
It was my life-long love of the fuller female figure which brought me to the group (plus I'm friendly with the woman who started it all, Erika Masten). I came for the curves, but I stayed for the company. And I've gained several of my closest Facebook friends from within the membership.
The group is much more than just a place to admire big, beautiful women (admire in every sense, not just the physical). Another strength with the group is how damn hard we police the rules as an Admin team. We wield that ban-hammer like Bill Oddie wields a black pudding! Scammers and spammers and bad Casanovas, watch for our hammers 'cause we'll do you over!
Knowing it's a safe place adds to the inspiration value because members feel free to share without fear. Firstly, as a writer, that kind of environment is golden. Wonderful research value. But more importantly, as a plain ol' human bean, just being there is an automatic mood-lifter.
Previously, I had always written my heroines with a little more meat on their bones. Since my involvement in the group, though, I've had an epiphany. I've had an "I never post selfies but..." moment.
I learned how fulfilling it is to write my characters exactly as I'd long wanted to. That I didn't need to hold back and just make them busty, or a little voluptuous. That I could write heroines who have hips to see you through a storm, and bellies you can worship until you reach inner peace.
And that to pour myself into the story didn't drain me, but rather inspire me further.
EDIT: I forgot to mention that for this weekend only, I've made my book "Indigo" (the one that shows up over there on the right of the page) FREE ON AMAZON! You're all most welcome to grab a copy and see if it does things to you or for you!