Monday, April 14, 2014

See It, Hear It, Write It

Where do you get your ideas is a question I get asked all the time by readers and aspiring authors. I don't have one pat answer. Truthfully, an idea can come from something I've read or heard, by hard brainstorming or out of thin air - poof - an idea. Once the spark is there, I either let my mind wander or I give rein to my fingers to type at will. Some times it feels like my imagination goes straight from my head to my fingers without a pause in between. It's as if I don't know what's coming out until I read it. Hard to explain. But before that happens, an idea is born.

I realize that answer is rather vague and general so to illustrate what I mean, here is a few of the stories I've written, both published and unpublished, and how I came up with the ideas.

Sleeping with the Lights On is the story of a fifty year old woman who is still searching for Mr. Right and a career. She sleeps with the lights on because she's alone. This story grew from a gabfest with my sister. She'd had another memorable date the night before. We started recounting her memorable dates over the years and got to laughing. I had to write some of it down.

The Pink Corvette is a mystery involving a woman and her waning marriage. I saw a pink corvette on the road one day and since there wasn't a Mary Kay sticker on it, I started thinking about who would drive such a vehicle. Who I came up with spawned the story.

Honey On White Bread is based on my mother and father. I intentionally set out to write a story based on my mom's childhood. My parents came of age in the forties, poor but happy. How the title came to me is one of those rambling thought processes that would take too long to explain. Sometimes just sitting and thinking is like that. So...briefly, white bread was considered a rich man's food at one time. Honey is sweet and special and also not always in the cupboard of the poor years ago. My hero uses the two to describe my heroine.

Jonathan Jay Somefun was inspired by one of my uncles. He was a ladies' man and practically a full blooded Indian. It was also written during a time when I went to Laughlin for girls' weekends with my mom every few months. We ran into him one weekend in Laughlin and the story begged to be written. The name held a double entendre for the story of the man who hung around the bars in Laughlin.

The title, Amanda in the Summer, came from a folded wedding invitation putting those particular words together. The story came out of thin air. No other way to describe it.

The Art of Love and Murder came about through hard brainstorming. I made up my mind one day to write a series. Up until then, all of my stories were unrelated, individual tales. At dinner one evening, I asked Frank to brainstorm with me. We kicked around various ideas that night and for several days after until my character Lacy Dahl jumped into my  head. She would go on a mission to discover where she came from...and it would be dangerous. Since it involves some mysterious art and a murder or two, well, the title was easy.

Southwest of Love and Murder is the result of The Art of Love and Murder. A secondary character in the first book is the main character of Southwest. I did have some trouble with the title but some Facebook friend suggestions helped me put it together. And so it continues. I have two more books brewing in this series which could very well lead to more. Secondary characters walk into a scene and new ideas happen.

That's a smidgen of where ideas come from - a word, a person or purposeful brainstorming. Anything and everything is fodder for a story.


  1. I enjoyed reading about your creative process!

  2. Interesting post. I love hearing about how authors get their ideas. Sometimes I get ideas while reading other books, but then I'm afraid I'll end up unintentionally copying the book I was reading in one way or another. The book I'm working on now (the first time I've ever completed a first draft!) was inspired by a song on my iPod while working a night shift job back in 2008. The character was inspired by that song and the story sort of fell in place around her.

    1. Sounds great. Inspiration can really kick start a story. Congrats on finishing the first book!

  3. A visual, a phrase, or an odd occurrence can all lead to a story, but at base, for me anyway, it's always, "What if?" Thanks for a fascinating peek inside your creativity

    1. Oh definitely, Nikki, that what if question is great. Thanks.