Laura Ellen: Sometimes I hit a rut with my writing. I am either stuck and unsure how to move forward in my novel, or I am simply feeling uninspired and don't want to sit down to write. When this happens, I read my way out. Sometimes it will be a new book - one everyone has been raving about or one I've really been wanting to read and haven't had the time. But more often than not, it's a favorite book. Favorite books are 'favorites' for a reason -- whether it is the endearing characters or the rich writing or the smart way the plot unfolds -- something in each inspires me and makes me want to write. Two of my all-time favorite get-me-out-of-the-rut books are: A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly and A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray.
Elisa Ludwig: One of the challenges in writing about crimes is learning to think like a criminal (assuming, of course, that you, the writer, are not one yourself). The other day I stumbled on a show called I (Almost) Got Away With It, which is on Investigation Discovery. (Not having cable I watched old episodes on Netflix.) The show details the amazing things fugitives have done to escape the cold hard handcuffs of the law. One of the shows I saw involved a murderer who escaped prison THREE separate times before fleeing to Canada. One of his escapes involved fashioning a saw out of a toothbrush and a razor blade. You can't make this stuff up!
Diana Renn: Sometimes I find inspiration in taking a break from a big project, like a novel, and turning to something smaller. Recently I've been reworking a short story. I set myself some manageable goals: whittle down the word count, make it more contemporary, amplify suspense and tension, and see if it's possible to write a micro-mystery in under 8,000 words. It's very satisfying to hear the gears click into place and enjoy the thrill of experimentation without having to jettison potentially hundreds of pages. Writing in shorter formats reminds me of of how to make choices and boldly plunge forward to see if they work. Reading and re-reading short stories by others also inspires me, bringing elements of writing craft to the foreground.