Brainstorming a Book

By now you’ve probably figured out that I have a lot of fun doing research for my books. 


Yes, I let my children and their friends (whose faces have been smudged to protect the innocent 😉 ) believe I was taking them on a school trip to the fire station all those years ago, but really… in the far recesses of my mind, I must’ve known some day I’d write about a firefighter and want to know what it felt like to wear all that stuff!

And since I have so much fun brainstorming new books, I thought I’d let you in on the fun, too!

And…if your suggestion makes it into the book, you will be rewarded! 🙂

So here’s what I need:

1) A famous person, such as a celebrity, that resembles my hero Jake.

If you can give me a link to an image online, all the better. Jake is a firefighter who lives in a small town close to Seattle. He’s a widower with a four-year-old son, Tommy. Jake is tall and lanky. His brother Sam, looks like Mike Fisher (Carrie Underwood’s husband-to-be) and Jake looks nothing like him. Any suggestions? Update: I’m leaning toward Amber’s suggested Paul Walker, but still open to more suggestions.

2) A name for the community program he wants to start to help Single Parents get through the Christmas holidays (things such as men helping put out Christmas lights or bring in a Christmas tree for single moms or women baking for single dads–stereotypical, I know, but they do tend to be the areas that each struggle with). This was his wife’s brainchild and he wants to name it something that will honor her memory. Her name (at the moment) is Stacey. Although if another name lends to a better name for the program, I can change it. If you have additional suggestions for the program that would be great, too!  I’ve decided to play with a variation of Dianna’s suggestion in the comments for this one!

3) A Title for the story. The heroine is hiding out in Jake’s town (under witness protection). She was a kindergarten teacher and dog trainer, but now she works in a library. The threat of being found by the person she’ll be testifying against (kidnapper of a child) hangs over her head throughout the story. The story takes place between Thanksgiving and Christmas in a small town called Stalwart. Update: I’m still collecting great title ideas! Thank you to those who emailed me additional suggestions.  😉

Your Turn: Let your creativity run wild! The more off-the-wall the suggestion, the more intriguing twists it sparks.




Let’s Play Suspense Writer

One of the discussion questions at the back of Shades of Truth is: Kim wants to believe the best of everyone…How might that endanger her?

These kinds of questions are a suspense writer’s launching pad to all sorts of mayhem.

Let’s have some fun tossing around ideas. I’ll start.

For simplicity, we’ll pretend “Kim” could be any one of us, single or married.

What if she gets a text from her “hubby” saying he’s at the bank and forgotten the password for their bank card, and would she text it to him. Does she believe him?

Of course. Her husband’s notorious for forgetting passwords and his name came up on the caller ID.  She has the fleeting thought that there are people who tap cell phones. But it’s not as though anyone can “hear” a text message, so she quickly texts him back, and then deletes the message for security.

A few minutes later she gets a call from her hubby asking if he left his cell phone and wallet at home. Oops.

Your Turn: Who might a woman trust or believe, only to have that trust come back to bite her?

Let’s Create our Heroine ~ Brainstorming Wednesday

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been illustrating how I
build stories by involving you in brainstorming a new one. Whether you’re a reader or a writer, I hope you’re having
as much fun as I am following the comments and throwing in your ideas. 

As promised, today we’ll work on the heroine, but in
addition to exploring the lie she believes, I’d like to include another
important element in the dialogue—her goals. What is she after? What does she
want to accomplish and why? And how is that going to bring her into conflict
with the hero?

Last week, we decided our hero fireman, Jack, believes maybe
his mom was right all along that he’s not cut out to be a fireman. He’s
struggling with his emotions over failing to save the villain’s wife from the
fire. Yet, his fellow firemen’s razzing makes him more determined than ever not
to quit. 

We’ve also given him a faithful Australian Shepherd that he rescued
from a fire. (Great idea, Kav.) Blind in one eye, and singed around the corners, the dog doesn’t
take to too many people. But he’ll adore our heroine who we’ve decided to call

We’ve decided that perhaps she’s a nurse and that’s how she
met the fireman. Or… depending on which villain scenario we ultimately run with,
that her home has simply been mistaken for the hero’s and she’ll fall victim to
a revenge plot intended against the hero.

This kind of vague uncertainty of which path to take is
common in the early stages of plotting a story—at least for me. I like to
explore a number of different paths before settling on one. 

Your turn: What
should be our heroine’s goal? What lie does she believe?

For those who have been following the Wednesday
brainstorming sessions from the beginning, you’ll remember we talked about the possibility
that her dad had left her as a child. Not sure if we’ll go with that scenario,
but that kind of traumatic childhood experience is excellent breeding ground
for lies.

The Truth will Set You Free

As promised, today we’re looking at how I develop characters. A technique I learned from award-winning author and mentor, Susan May Warren, is to ask what is the lie my hero or heroine believes.
Often the lie is something from his past that changed the way he looks at himself or relationships or the world around him. More than that, it changed his approach to those things.
By uncovering the lie he believes, I can frame a story that will reveal the truth that will set him free.
If the hero (or heroine) believes a lie that resonates with readers, the unfolding of the truth to the hero has the potential to minister to the reader as well. This was my own experience when I began reading Christian fiction, and something I hope my readers will experience.
In Deep Cover, the lie the hero believes is that he alone can, and must, stop the bad guys. So as not to spoil the story for those who haven’t read it, I won’t detail how this plays out in the story.
Instead, let’s brainstorm some ideas for the story concept we talked about last Wednesday.
Let’s go with a fireman hero who was badly burned trying to save the villain’s wife. Perhaps, he hasn’t yet returned to active duty. Perhaps, he blames himself for the woman’s death. Perhaps, he feels he made a poor judgment call in the middle of the rescue.
Your turn: What lie might our hero believe? And/or… have you read a book in which the truth the hero or heroine learned really resonated with you?


The most common question I’m asked when people find out I’m a writer is: where do I get my ideas?

The answer: from everywhere.
They may come from a news report, or from an incident I see while out and about. The other day my friend called to ask me if I knew what MPAC was because some stranger claiming to be from the organization had left a note in her door saying he’d missed her and would drop by again.
Instantly, a suspense plot began to form in my mind. In Ontario, MPAC is the organization that does the market value assessments on which our property taxes are based. But what if the guy wasn’t really from MPAC?
What if he was going around neighborhoods posing as an MPAC assessor, but really casing homes for robberies?
Or what if he was posing as an MPAC assessor to target the heroine specifically?
That last question opened up a whole new range of questions. Why’s the guy targeting her? What does he plan to do? Maybe he’s not so much interested in her as in baiting the hero to do something… 
Ooh, why might he want to bait the hero?
You get the idea. That sort of brainstorming is my favorite part of creating a story. My eighteen-year-old daughter is also a writer and we have a lot of fun playing with story ideas–especially villains.
For example, the last time we went kayaking, I remarked on how easy it would be to…well, actually I’m not going to tell you what, because I don’t want to give criminals any ideas! But the simple observation prompted a slew of ideas on how we could use that crime in a story.
Your turn: Let’s go back to our nefarious MPAC assessor impersonator. Why might he want to bait the hero? Let your imagination run wild. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the creative juices start flowing. Share your ideas and watch where they lead. It’s a lot of fun.
Warning: You may start looking at the people who knock on your door a little more warily. (Cue spine-tingling music)