I love it when someone finishes one of my books and asks, “How do you come up with this stuff?” I love it because I’m a talker as well as a writer, and I can talk about books as long and thoroughly as I can write them.
This question earns an entire blog post because it is a big question, and in truth, the way I come up with the story lines/characters/settings has evolved since I started writing with fervor in 2009. Now a-days, because I have so many manuscripts in various stages of to-be-written, ideas come to me more like this… “Hey, I’m a publisher and I’m looking for authors who can write books about A, B and C. If you’re one of these authors, send me your manuscript.” After reading a post/blog/tweet to that extent, I then spend several days mulling over the request (which I naturally assume is just for me), until my overactive imagination either creates an entire new storyline, or I figure out how one of those not-quite-done manuscripts can be tweaked in just the right way to qualify.
But that’s now. Before I remotely had a grasp on the idea of getting paid to write and it was more of an I-just-need-to-get-these-ideas-out-of-my-head kind of process, it went something like this…
When I first rediscovered my love of writing (I had done it with passion through middle school and high school, but then tucked all those handwritten notebooks of stories away so that I could devote the time necessary to thoroughly enjoying college life, which then led to thoroughly enjoying after-college life, then settling into married life, then kids, then… you get the picture, right? If not, refer to my bio.), inspiration for story ideas simply hit me.
I had just finished obsessively reading the entire Stephanie Plum series and then vacationed in this gorgeous area of northern Michigan where the lakes were all interconnected through these large rivers. As I sat on a rented pontoon, cruising past an empty parcel of land with a For Sale sign perched right near shore, I thought, “What a great location for a resort.”
That morphed into the idea of placing a strong-yet-naive heroine into this setting and pairing her with my version of an alpha hero to whom she was both attracted and desperate not to like, and everything else began to fall into place around it. The best part was, I hadn’t intended for it to become a series, but I just couldn’t quite give up the characters once I’d finished writing the first Resort. In fact, as I put the finishing touches on the last in the series (available in May), I am already giving strong consideration to the idea of Bree having her own series. Stay tuned…
My very first self-published book, The Bartender, was pulled from my own personal experience during college. I dated a bartender for a short time and he was different from what I assumed a stereotypical bartender would be. He was actually really nice, despite his lifestyle, and undoubtedly has made some woman a very happy lady. I know in my book he certainly did.
I’ve also written a series of books about about fictitious beings called Lightbearers, which I haven’t released yet. This series came about as a result of an RWA class I took that was meant to help you develop pitches that would put your story at the top of the slush pile. I have always loved faeries, and therefore not surprisingly I like to write about faeries, but this instructor suggested that one of the ways to make your book stand out is to come up with something that the publishers haven’t seen before.
Well, faeries have been around for…forever, so that wasn’t exactly a new concept. If I wanted this series to sell — and I do, I really do because I love, love, love the characters and am absolutely convinced you all will too — I needed to come up with something to hook the publishers. But I couldn’t seem to let go of my faery ideas.
Then I realized hey, this is paranormal, and I’m making this world up in my head, so I can do whatever the hell I want with it. There are no rules, other than to build it well enough that the reader believes in it. So I took my beloved faeries and tweaked them. Where does magic come from? Within? They’re born with it, like a limb? What if the magic comes from somewhere else, say… the sun? What if they need the sun to live, like it’s their oxygen? What happens if they are kept from the sun for too long? And what if they have the ability to share their magic with other beings…?
See how my convoluted mind works? Yeah, I know. Me neither.
From there I ended up with nine manuscripts in varying stages of completion that I am working to sell to a publisher, rather than publish on my own. I believe this series deserves to have a strong national publisher backing it. Trust me, it will be worth the wait. And if you aren’t yet sold, let me also point out that I’ve introduced all sorts of different beings into this series. Shifters (the ultimate alpha males). Cupids. (No, they aren’t infants fluttering around with little bows and arrows in their hands.) Demons. Water sprites. And yes, my beloved faeries make an appearance as well. I guess I really do love the fae.
I hope this has given you some insight into the creative mind of an author. At least, this author. If it hasn’t, drop me a line. If you have a few hours to kill, I’m happy to expound verbally on just about any angle, any idea, any concept from any one of my books. Or another author’s books. Especially one of my favorite authors. I could go on and on….