Skip the Meeting at Your Peril

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of facilitating my So You Want to Be a Writer? workshop at a meeting of the Niagara Branch of the Canadian Authors Association. We plotted a murder mystery set at the meeting and can you guess who we opted to make the victim?

A local thriller author who failed to appear.

Ideas for potential suspects and their motives abounded. We’re talking as diverse as an Argentinian in search of the grandson of W.E.B. Griffin, world-renowned author of spy novels, to an anger-management-challenged attendee whose parking place the victim scooped.

Nothing like a good brainstorming session to get the creative juices going.

We opted to make a librarian, who sat in on the meeting, our sleuth. Her stereotypical quiet, studious nature brought a lot of strengths to the investigation. And her introvert nature and resulting low self-esteem allowed us to show her personal growth through solving the crime.

I’m so glad they didn’t pick me as the sleuth. I REALLY didn’t want them to speculate on the areas of my life that could use improvement!

Hopefully, many of the attendees will take up the challenge to write a short story based on our brainstorming session. If you’d like to read one I wrote after a similar session last spring at a volunteers retreat, subscribe to my newsletter and I’ll email you the link and password.  😉 (Membership has its privileges)

Join Me Today at:

International Christian Fiction Writers, where I’m talking about family food favourites, inspired by my character Serena’s British heritage (which also happens to be mine.)

And for an interview at Suzanne Woods Fisher’s Amish Wisdom Blog No, there are no Amish characters in my novels, but if you’re burning to know the answers to such questions as can you make a living from writing and what do you like least about writing, I will tell all (more or less). 😉  And…there’s a giveaway!

Have a blessed Easter Week!


Finding Inspiration

For the past week, I’ve been in dream-up-a-new-story mode. This one is for the Love Inspired Suspense line. Since people often ask me how I come up with ideas, I thought I’d share some recent examples with you.

Ideas for snippets of scenes come from anywhere and everywhere; from a conversation at the dinner table; an interesting character I see while out and about; an intriguing news article or this gorgeous sight outside my office window this morning:

Sunrise on SnowThis particular image got me thinking that my heroine should see this the morning after a particularly traumatic evening to renew her hope. Then again…

You know what they say about red sky in the morning?

Shepherds heed warning.

That goes double for characters in my books. 😉

The original idea for the story I’m fleshing out right now actually started in 2011, while visiting a critically ill friend when her male nurse paid a visit. He was pretty handsome and so we had fun dreaming up a story featuring him.

His role has changed over the years, as the story ruminated in the recesses of my computer (ur mind). But that was the seed.

Story ideas often spring from what-if questions, too.

In this case, we asked: What if the bad guys go after the wrong woman?

It makes for lots of potential dicey situations, which my editor always loves to see. 😀

And…from the beginning, we planned to include a dog in a key role in the story.

That idea came about during a creative exercise I did for writer’s block, in which you choose three random words then write a few sentence vignette that incorporates them.

I liked the vignette so much, that at this point, it is still part of my opening scene.

Since I had so much fun with Rusty, Zach’s son’s dog in Identity Withheld, I’m looking forward to discovering this new dog’s personality. The inspiration for Rusty came from a newsletter subscriber who told me about the crazy things her childhood dog used to do and from an adorable Golden Doodle I met while out walking.

I haven’t settled on the particulars for my newest dog character. I’m thinking Ranger sounds like a fun name and I’m thinking a Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle dog) might fit the bill.

They’re courageous, watchful, protective of family, distrustful of strangers, high energy. Sounds perfect for a suspense don’t you think.

Of course, my Bella thinks she should be the model for the character:

BellaAwardShe is after all an award-winning actor. Even it was only in my daughter’s film for schdue southool.  😉

I personally think she’s been watching too much Due South and has illusions of grandeur. 😎

Your Turn: Any suggestions?