People often ask authors where they get their ideas, as if writers are miners braving the deepest darkest pits to bring back precious nuggets of gold. Well, ideas are not so very hard to find, especially if you keep your eyes and ears open to the world around you. (Although, I must admit I’ve literally descended into the depths a few times and found good ideas waiting there.)

When the weather is cool enough, I like to go on hiking adventures with my family to explore Ancient Puebloan ruins. Awhile back, I heard about Ballroom Cave, hidden behind some ruins in a small canyon. My family and I were SO there!

To reach the cave, we followed a little stream through about a half mile of cottonwood trees. It was an easy, shaded hike, which is important for our family, since we have young kids. The cave entrance was located behind a crumbling Anasazi curtain wall, up on a hill dotted with boulders.


I was the only one of my family daring (or foolish) enough to go down into the cave itself, once we got past the wall. It isn’t an extensive cave system, like you’ll find in other parts of the world, but I really liked it. There were black rings on the floor where ancient folks tended their fires, and dents in a big slab of rock where they ground corn. Even though the cave isn’t huge, I got spooked as I explored the dark recesses and my imagination took over.


My imagination served me well later on in using the cave as inspiration for more than one fictional setting. I find that when I get out and explore nature, I come back with a head full of ideas that often trickle out in my writing. For me, that’s one thing that makes writing so fun.