Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Where do author's get their ideas?

I'm sure I've spoken to this subject before, but it's the question I'm asked most frequently. When I speak to a group, they almost always want to know where I get my book ideas. The easiest answer? Everywhere.

I've been writing stories all my life, from the time I could first put pencil to paper, but it took until I was "grown up" to take the time to formulate those stories into something digestible. I wrote mostly for diversion. Entertainment. And then one day I had a wisdom tooth pulled. While I was curled up in a chair nursing my wounds, I watched Indiana Jones, which was followed by a PBS special on Pompeii and the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. That was the moment I knew I had a "real" story idea. What if Mt. Vesuvius buried the Holy Grail at Pompeii? St. Paul visited the region in a reasonable time frame to have carried it, and the Bible stories I'd learned growing up provided portability. Such was the beginning of The Treasure of St. Paul, later re-released as Touched by the Sun.

From there, I was rarely short of ideas. I've always had a fertile imagination, and once I learned to focus my writing into a cohesive theme and plot, it became a matter of refining my art. I've been inspired by pictures, by buildings, by real life events, by venues, by random conversations on a train. The project I'm working on now was an idea that came to me about a girl walking through a graveyard, very much at home there. I've written a story about a walk through a French market in Aix-en-Provence. About a Night Gallery episode showing someone walking inside a painting (my version isn't quite as spooky, but its just as supernatural). About a gorgeous house set back off the road and my experience with bed and breakfasts. And some of my stories have been inspired by the characters themselves.

When several readers commented how much they disliked a secondary character in LIVING CANVAS, I was determined to redeem her. Admittedly, she was fashioned after a bad example of a friend, but everyone has a reason for who they are, including that character. Those readers who didn't like her when she was introduced formed a different opinion after reading RETURN TO HOFFMAN GROVE, and I have to admit I loved the challenge of fixing a broken character. Likewise with cheating paramedic Matt, who appears in both those books. I figured he deserved a chance, too, and so I wrote COOKIE THERAPY. Apparently I did a good job, because one of my readers asked me to redeem Mike (from both those books), but I also had a reader who came into the series late, who didn't know Mike's history, tell me they didn't understand why people were sympathetic to an abuser. To that person, I would direct you to read RETURN TO HOFFMAN GROVE, and to the others, I'm afraid I don't have confidence Mike can overcome the darkness he's fallen into.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Break on Through to the Other Side

Hooray! This week is the last major deadline at the day job. Can't wait to break through to the other side of work/life balance. Another week of administrative loose ends, and then I can get back to MY life.

It feels like the last day of school and the doors are flung open to a bright, beautiful day. When I was a kid, that meant more time on the tennis courts. Evenings on the softball field. Cubs games in the Big City (I can say that this year, they're GOOD this year!). Hot days spent at the swimming pool. And for the rainy days, nerdy girls like me spent extra time at the typewriter/computer making up stories, giving vent to an overactive imagination.

As a grown up, it means more date nights with friends. Holiday time with the DH. Long walks on warm summer nights. Concerts in the park. And I'm still a nerdy girl. More time to make up stories.

What kinds of things did you do when school let out for the summer? Anything that carries through to your grown-up self?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Dates Gone Bad

The first thing that came to mind when I typed the title for my post today was Indiana Jones. "Bad dates." (That's the way my mind rolls.)

What I actually intended was to describe the other kind of dates. Between men and women. But I figured the title amused me, so I left it. (Easily amused some days, even if I'm the only one who's entertained.)

In my current work in progress, I'm writing the first date for a girl who has a long line of first dates--and no second dates. It got me to thinking about first dates with bad impressions. Those dates are the fodder for numerous movie plots, and in real life, do we actually know when we've made a bad impression? Sometimes, for sure, other times?

I have a wealth of "not good" first date experience to draw from. There was the guy who wanted to meet at a fast food place, made me buy my own food, and then left as soon as we'd finished eating. There was the guy who talked about his two-times ex wife, and about how they couldn't seem to move on. If he wasn't so frustrated with her, he'd still be married to her. .

I'm glad those days are behind me!

Do you have any first date stories to share? Who knows! Maybe one of them will be backstory for my beleaguered heroine! You know, that one guy (or gal) who ....

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ghost Stories

I grew up watching Creature Features and reading Dracula and Stephen King books. As a young girl, I liked those macabre stories, the ones that relied on your imagination to frighten you. Then along came the slasher flicks and it wasn't only imagination anymore. Somehow, that ruined the "scare" factor for me. I liked to be frightened, as long as it was imagined. Once those scares became real, I didn't like them quite so much.

Some of those "movie of the week" stories were developed from books like "Ammie Come Home," which became "The House that Would Not Die" (Barbara Stanwyck and Richard Egan). It was made for TV, but that movie  prompted me to read books authored by Barbara Michaels.

My next release will most likely be in October, or late September (optimistically). Assuming I continue on the path I've started, it's going to be a "Halloween treat," a haunted house story inspired by Ms. Michaels and by that outdated made for TV movie. It will be the first in a new series - "The McCormicks." There's a part of me that wonders if I start the series with a supernatural twist, will you expect that in the subsequent books? Or is it okay to write the one as a Halloween treat, and the others as more standard romantic mystery fare? I can ask the pros when I attend the Chicago writer's conference next month, but what do you, my readers, think?

Monday, April 4, 2016

Release day! Cookie Therapy (Northwest Suburbs)

**Congratulations to Vicki W, winner of an Amazon giftcard 
as part of the Newsletter Exclusive**

Today is release day for my newest book in the Northwest Suburbs series!

To escape notoriety from her role in the school shooting she barely survived, Elizabeth Lambert moves from Houston to Hoffman Grove, Illinois. Plagued by panic attacks and nightmares, she’s determined to embrace her second chance at life, knowing that death could take her in an instant. A one-night stand with a local handsome firefighter should remind her that she’s alive, but like a good cookie, once is not enough to satisfy her craving. Will he reject her when he learns about the blood on her hands?

Firefighter and paramedic Matt Billings fights his attraction to the alluring new bookshop manager. She dangles a one-night stand under his nose, but the last time he gave in to such an offer he ended up with a child. He is determined to be a better man than his philandering father. Can he convince Elizabeth that her past is not as terrifying as suddenly being a parent, and a relationship is worth more than just a checkbox on her bucket list?

Can anyone name the other books in the series?

Welcome to my Newsletter subscribers. One winner will be chosen at random for the exclusive offer you received in your mailbox and will be notified by Sunday, April 10.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Gotta Write

Anyone ever see Singing in the Rain? (there's your earworm for the day).

I am seldom without direction as a writer. Stories pop into my head all the time, inspiration from the most inane things.

Because of the stresses of my day job, and because of the additional personal stressors this year, I chose to set the writing aside until after deadline season. We have to chose our battles, and while writing generally relieves some of that stress for me, there were just too many other things on my plate.

This week is the second of the three major deadlines, and the most demanding of them. While we have one more big push, these past couple of months without something new to write have made me antsy. The new release shows up in stores on Monday, and I'm VERY excited about that. I had so much fun writing COOKIE THERAPY... so much so that now I'm wondering if I continue with Hoffman Grove, or one of my friends suggested I write another of the Mist books - there's a redhead convention coming to Chicago this year which might make for a fun perspective.

Or do I start a new series?

Whenever I finish a book, I tend to fall back to EPITAPH, which I still haven't been able to get quite right. I finally gave up on that one when I started COOKIE THERAPY, figuring I'm never going to get it right. I've been toying with starting that one over from scratch instead of trying to "fix" it. I still like the premise, but I think it was the heroine that didn't agree with me.

So the ideas abound, and I'm hoping to dig into something next week, after we get past the end of this month and THIS deadline. I've even toyed with moving into a new genre, but I often feel the stories write themselves, so not sure how in control of that I truly am.

Any suggestions for what you'd like to read next from me?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A walk with the Lord

This has been a busy week for me. It is with mixed emotions that I tell you I lost my mother this week. For those of us left behind, we will miss her nurturing and guidance. For my mother, she held her hand out when the Lord called her home and stepped into his loving embrace.

Forgive my brevity this week. This is time to spend with family and friends and those who knew and loved my mother, and perhaps more importantly, to shore up my father as he learns to go on alone after 65 years with the same woman by his side.