That’s one of the most common question writers hear. The simple answer is ideas are everywhere–in overheard snatches of conversation, in dreams, in what you read, in the sight of a woman standing on a pier.
What those asking the question fail to understand is an idea is not a novel or even a short story. An idea is merely a starting point. It must be nurtured like a seed to achieve maturity and become something more. It’s like turning up the heat under a pot of water.
Some ideas fizzle out before making that transition to something else. The best, the ones that reach maturity, are nourished by imagination, experience and lengthy periods of consideration. Sometimes ideas are rejected when we realize all we’ve done is mimic something that already exists; unless you can put a stamp of originality on it, it may not be worth pursuing. They shine when you realize you have something unique.
The best ideas take time to evolve. John Fowles recorded how the genesis of his French Lieutenant’s Woman began with nightmares and images of a haunted woman which persisted until he had to know her story.
Seldom do such stories arrive complete in a single flash of inspiration.
An idea of mine led to The Tithing Herd, a new Western, released July 25 by Sundown Press. Here’s the blurb:
When an ex-lawman Lute Donnelly sets out on the trail of the ruthless gang of outlaws who murdered his brother, revenge is his only desire. But when he stumbles upon Tom Baskin, a youngster who has been duped into helping the outlaws and then left behind, Lute reluctantly takes the boy under his wing–and begins to find his humanity again.
United in a common cause, the pair travel a dangerous trail in search of revenge and redemption. But when Serene McCullough, the widow Donnelly loves, begs him to help her son move the cattle herd gathered by cash-strapped Mormons as their church tithe, he can’t refuse her.
When the cutthroat gang kidnaps Serene to bargain for The Tithing Herd, Lute and Tom find themselves pitted against insurmountable odds–with unexpected help coming from an old friend.
Lute’s desire for vengeance is trumped by his desperation to save the woman he loves at all costs–if he can live long enough to do it…
Bio: A retired newspaper editor, J. R. Lindermuth is the author of 15 novels and a non-fiction regional history. Since retiring, he has served as librarian of his county historical society where he assists patrons with genealogy and research. He lives and writes in a house built by a man who rode with Buffalo Bill Cody. His short stories have appeared in a variety of magazines. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Short Mystery Fiction Society, where he served a term as vice president. You are invited to visit his website at: http://www.jrlindermuth.net.
Let’s cut to the chase. I’m the antagonist in your suspense and thriller books. That’s the bad guy or she-devil in the novel you’re reading. I’m the sum of them all. I’m the evil mist that seeps through your doubts and fears with a relentless intensity. You won’t easily shake off my wickedness.
While Shakespeare’s Jacobean tragedies seem to validate the theory of the seven deadly sins, sometimes there seems to be an eighth. Killing for the thrill. No rhyme or reason.
My tool chest is as vast as the author’s imagination can take you. The guns and knives are a given. The snapping the neck is quick and often not a premeditated murder resulting from the buildup of a sudden rage. The poisons are as the delicious as the classic movie, Arsenic and Old Lace. The devices of strangulation, suffocation, and chemical asphyxia include the rope, plastic bags, carbon dioxide drowning. That crazy thing called petechiae when the lack of oxygen causes your skin to muddle with your blood is something a savvy detective would look for, unfortunately. I’ve also learned the perfect way to dissolve a human body. Not one thing left. Not even a gold tooth.
My author can write gore, which is surprising because she passes out at the sight of blood. I was particularly fond of my starring role when the blood spurted out of my throat, due to an ice pick jammed into my jugular and with good reason. I watched as the red liquid swirled and commingled like a watercolor with the glass of scotch I had poured for me.
Is it possible good writing, with excellent research, can take an author out of their field of knowledge and even out of their comfort zone? Absolutely. And that’s part of the fun because an author might take you out of you out of your safe haven, if only for a while. Corriere wrote about transgenderism long before the world said goodbye to Bruce Jenner and we met Caitlyn. She has written about false prophets. And then, there’s that blood thing.
Since early childhood, Lala has been passionate about all the arts. She is a painter and a former stage performer. Early work careers blended high-end real estate sales while becoming president of an interior design firm.
Her fifth grade teacher, Miss Macy, was the first mentor to suggest she consider a career in writing. That extension of the arts, the written word, turned into a full-time passion in 2001.
- Endorsement and long-term mentoring from the late Sidney Sheldon
- Published in regional magazines, newspapers, writer’s guides and journals.
- Award winning poetry.
- Endorsements from USA Today, The Arizona Daily Star, Andrew Neiderman [author of the Devil’s Advocate], Betty Webb, J Carson Black, CJ West, The Virtual Scribe, Paris Afton Bonds, and many other remarkable authors.
- Widow’s Row
- CoverBoys & Curses
- Evil Cries
- Kiss and Kill. Endorsed by USA Today as MUST READ SUSPENSE
- Bye Bye Bones, endorsed by Betty Webb and JCarson Black.
Readers and reviewers applaud her hallmark original plots, her in-depth character portrayals, rich scene settings, and authentic dialogue, all delivered with a fresh new voice. Oh, and her TWISTS!
Lala is a desert rat. She nestles there with her husband of over 28 years along with Finnegan & Phoebe— Teacup Yorkies weighing in at nine pounds….. total.
Linda L. Kane MA in Education, PPS, School Psychologist, and Learning Disability Specialist, is the author of The Black Madonna, Witch Number is Witch, Icelandia, Katterina Ballerina, Cowboy Jack and Buddy Save Santa, and Chilled to the Bones. The Daisy Murphy Mysteries. She lives with her husband and three dogs and six horses in California.
Chilled to the Bones buy link, Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Chilled-Bones-Linda-Lee-Kane/dp/1941851495/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1475707486&sr=1-1
How would a friend describe me?
This is a loaded question so I decided to ask a couple of people. Robin states that “I am intense, driven, tolerant, loving, and caring.” Shari states that I am kind, friendly, tenacious.” There were other comments but I think that will do for now.
I have several degrees, I am now retired, I began writing when I began riding horses, I have been married for forty-four years (he tolerates me, or me, him). I have three dogs, six horses, and one bird, all own me. I have four beautiful, incredibly, intelligent grandchildren.
.Where would I live if I could live anywhere?
On the coast of California, although I might add the meteorologists claim that we are heading for a big earthquake. So I think I need to weigh my options there.
I was raised in a Hispanic household. Wonderful grandparents.
Being retired, I can’t say enough about the freedom to do and to be anything I want. I’m rediscovering myself.
A random fact about me was that I volunteer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, an incredible place to visit, to learn, to enjoy..
My favorite hobby would be painting in watercolor and acrylic and competing at horse shows.
A fact I think I’d like to share with readers is ‘to never give up,’ there are so many things that buzz in your head, telling you to stop what ever you’re doing. Don’t, you’ll live with regrets and I know when I die I don’t want my last words to be, ‘if only’.
My favorite books and author would be Brad Metzler, Steve Barry. Books I’ve just read, are Kill the Indian, Save the Man, and just recently I’ve been reading YA books, Miss Peregrine Peculiar Children, all three volumes.
My favorite genre would be historical fiction and non fiction.
A book that is now on my bed stand would be Education for Extinction.
My favorite all time book is The Historian, each word the author writes has depth and meaning. I pour over her words.
I read every review on my books and would love to have more. You can only improve yourself and your writing by looking at what others feel.
I prefer Facebook to twitter but I am on both sites, look me up.
There are three bookstores that I like quite a bit they are Petunia’s in Fresno, California, The Book Barn in Clovis, Ca. and Harts Haven in Fresno. They are wonderful people and really care about their authors and books.
Chronological books in order: Matty’s Adventures in Numberland.a series with the new book coming out next month, Witch Number is Witch. The Black Madonna (speculative historical), Icelandia, a series and the next book will be out next year. Katterina Ballerina ( a children’s book about never giving up their dreams), Cowboy Jack’s and Buddy Save Christmas, and Chilled to the Bone, a series with the upcoming book coming out next year. I’m finishing up ‘Bottoms Up’, it should be out by next year and I’m beginning a book about the genocide of the First Nation of the United States.
Because of my many interests in life, I think I have a book for everyone. I haven’t settled completely on a genre, maybe when I grow up.
I began writing for myself, because of curve balls that were thrown to me at a very early age. Parents fighting, parents divorcing, new father’s. abuse, and being bullied. I had incredible sisters who have always been there for me and I wanted to give back to them, my kids, their kids, and grandchildren everywhere. Maybe my writing will inspire the next astronaut, president, doctor, historian, painter, ballerina, or writer. Whatever your dream, keep it close to your heart and never give up, and just be the best that you can be.
More years ago than I like to count (okay, about 22), the first book in my “Angie Amalfi culinary mystery series” was published. At the time, it wasn’t supposed to be a series at all, but a single-title “romantic suspense.” Thank goodness, I didn’t end the book with my heroine, a gourmet cook who couldn’t find a good job, and the hero, a San Francisco homicide detective, going off into the sunset for their “happily-ever-after” life. That I gave them a bit of happiness, and no sunset, meant that when my editor asked for a second book with the same main characters, I was able to deliver. That was sixteen books, two novellas, and umpteen short stories ago.
As the years went by, I joined the ever-growing ranks of the “indie published,” writing romance, romantic fantasy, and even a couple of supernatural suspense thrillers. I also wrote a few more Angie Amalfi stories, but I found that the person I was twenty-two years ago when I conceived those stories—young, with a growing family, etc.—isn’t the person I am today.
While I love the characters—and after all these years, Angie Amalfi is so real to me that if she came knocking at my door, I’d simply invite her in for a cup of coffee and some Italian cookies—it was time for a change. I wanted a way to keep Angie “alive” to both my readers and I, but also to be able to write stories that felt more connected to who I am now.
So, I debated with myself: did I want to write a spin-off series from my Angie books? What are the pros and cons of doing so?
The first “pro” is pretty obvious: the books have a built-in audience. Those who have read one series, are very likely to at least try the books in a spin-off series.
Another pro is that the cast of characters has been worked out already. You know many of the characters who will populate your books, their personalities, how they’ll act, etc. Same for the setting. Both of these are huge time-savings for any author.
The cons are the risks involved. The main one is that the new series simply isn’t as well liked as the original. This could be damaging to both series, and cause readers to wonder if a beloved author has “lost it,” “burned out,” etc.
Another is that the well-known characters may seem changed in the readers’ eyes and come across differently than in the original series. This can be not only disconcerting to a reader, but can cause them to really dislike the changes.
Or, the problem can be the opposite—the “same old, same old” syndrome. If not enough has changed from the original series, a reader may wonder why the author bothered to change the lead series character at all.
In my case, I decided to write the “Inspector Rebecca Mayfield” mysteries because of the “pros” I listed above, and also because she is able to satisfy a side of me that Angie no longer could. Rebecca is a career woman—she fought her way up the ranks of the San Francisco Police Department to the position of homicide detective. To do so, she gave up a lot in her personal life, even losing a fiancé because he couldn’t bear to live with the danger she put herself in. She’s got a good heart, but she’s also tough. She wants love, but she’s a loner and if that’s her lot in life, she accepts it. She’s dedicated to her work and believes she’s making the world just a little bit better by doing it. Bottom line, she’s a darker, older, more serious character than Angie. Many people have made the transition and, thankfully, are enjoying Rebecca’s travails.
There are several “How-to’s” that have helped this transition to work. The genre has changed only slightly (the Rebecca books aren’t culinary cozies, but the characters do talk about food, and Richie is a good cook—which is a surprise to Rebecca, believe me). They have a similar “feel” to them as far as level of violence and language, although again, the Rebecca stories are a tad harsher in both. The biggest “how-to,”, I believe, is that despite Rebecca being a much more serious and emotionally darker character than Angie, the books continue to have similar kinds of humor and emotion, which were hallmarks of the Angie Amalfi mysteries. Providing much of the humor in the new series is Rebecca’s relationship with Richie. Nothing would make the two happier than to walk away from the other and never look back, but something keeps making them not only look back, but go back to the other. This also causes a lot of the emotion in the books as both wrestle with their growing feelings about the other.
Last but not least, since I was often asked in what order the Angie stories should be read, I decided to make it easy for Rebecca Mayfield readers. The first book (free on most retail sites) is entitled ONE O’CLOCK HUSTLE, and the just-released book, number four in the series, is entitled (you guessed it), FOUR O’CLOCK SIZZLE.
Joanne Pence was born and raised in northern California. She has been an award-winning, USA Today best-selling author of mysteries for many years, and has also written historical fiction, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, a fantasy, and supernatural suspense. Joanne hopes you’ll enjoy her books, which present a variety of times, places, and reading experiences, from mysterious to thrilling, emotional to lightly humorous, as well as powerful tales of times long past.
by Alexandra Sokoloff
A 2015 release published by the author
Reviewed by Carl Brookins
The accomplished author of this work is a multiple award winning writer for the screen, in fiction writing and she conducts workshops on a variety of topics around writing and film making. This work grew out of her workshops and is designed to be used with a course or workshop.
Her experiences, insights and organizational abilities are in full force here. Even without the actual workshop, this book is well worth acquiring and examining. For many authors, it can be a foundation for either a novel or a film. It is well-organized into four major sections, Story Structure, More Screenwriter Tricks, Story Breakdowns and The Business.
The workbook is written in a highly engaging style with an occasional discursion into Alexandra’s seriously tongue-in-cheek but trenchant observations of the Hollywood and national publishing community. It would be easy to dismiss the entire effort as a frivolous effort but that would be a mistake. Works of this genre can often use a little relaxed attitude to help readers through sometimes arcane and dense detail.
Finally there is a very good section that deals with the business of publishing which any writer who wantsto be successful needs to know. It is no longer sufficient to hire an agent and leave all the business to her or him. To be successful, one needs to be current with the business. For the time being, this book is an excellent foundation. Even experienced writers can learn from this book.
Nancy Lynn Jarvis finally acknowledged she was having too much fun writing to ever sell another house, so she let her license lapse in May of 2013, after her twenty-fifth anniversary in real estate.After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager for Shakespeare/Santa Cruz at UCSC. She invites you to take a peek into the real estate world through the stories that form the backdrop of her Regan McHenry mysteries. Real estate details and ideas come from Nancy’s own experiences.
Amazon Author Page for all books http://tinyurl.com/nkjcg2d
Right out of the box I have a question for your readers, PJ. How long do you have to wait before you should categorize a book as “The Best Book I Never Wrote?”
Readers, if you’re like me, you eavesdrop in restaurants and store checkout lines and make up storylines that incorporate what you hear. I recently went into the ladies restroom at The Mission Ranch Inn (owned by Clint Eastwood) in Carmel. The two bathroom stalls were occupied by friends who were chatting back and forth as they attended to business.
“…that’s when I realized I was locked in the bathroom. I pounded on the door, but, of course no one came because they were closing down for the night. There was one small window to the outside and I managed to get it open, but I couldn’t see what was below it or where it lead. Now, I’m small…”
“That you are.”
“so I figured I could squeeze through it. The only thing was I had on a brand new outfit—not an inexpensive one, I might add—of cream colored pants and a matching sweater that I didn’t want to get dirty or worse, ruin, so I took them off.”
The two women came out of their stalls. I’d guess they were plus-or-minus eighty years old. The tale-teller continued as they washed their hands, “I couldn’t decide if I should go through the window head first or feet first…”
That’s when they left. Well, maybe not a book, but a darn good short story.
I don’t have a traditional bucket list, I have a book bucket list so long I’ll need to live to a hundred-and-sixty if I have any hope of writing through it, and it grows almost daily. Yesterday I got a new idea from a friend that I’m sure would make a fabulous book.
My friend is a private investigator and a source of many great book ideas and details, a couple that I’ve used, and three that I will at some point use in my Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series. Mostly she finds people and has solved birth parent mysteries, inheritance mysteries, and even a transgender…no I can’t tell you any more about that one because it’s one of her stories that I will use soon.
She’s been trying her hand writing a book with chapters for various cases she’s solved. She’ a great story teller, especially when she describes how her mind works as she solves mysteries. I want to read her book! The problem is, she’s bogged down and despairs that she will ever finish it. She says her problem is that she always has theories about what led the people she investigates to do what they did, a back story, if you will. She’d like to talk about her theories, but doesn’t want to write fiction.
I suggested—OK begged—her to collaborate with me. She could write a chapter of detective details and I could write a fictional short story to explain them based on her theories. Unfortunately, she’s not on board, which is awful because I’m convinced the book would be fascinating. I haven’t given up hope, but at the moment a collaborative effort with her seems like the best book I never wrote.
It’s disappointing, too, because I’ve found writer friends helping one another yields great promotional benefits. I edited a collaborative cookbook called Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes. It was great fun, we all benefited from mutual marketing, and the book continues to introduce readers to new favorite authors even two years after its release.
A Neighborly Killing by Nancy Lynn Jarvis
Waking up to gunshots and discovering the body of their neighbor just outside their bedroom door is bad enough, but when the Coroner rules the death a suicide, Realtors Regan McHenry and her husband Tom Kiley don’t believe it for a minute. Never mind what the physical evidence says; they heard their dead neighbor arguing with someone in the moments preceding his death.
What really happened has become more than just a mystery they’d like to solve because the circumstances of their dead neighbor’s past keep interfering with their present and putting them in danger.