Fun Friday – The Plot Thickens

Okay, before I start, let me just say, I’m cheating…
That is, I’m sharing a post I wrote for the Craftie Ladies blog a couple of weeks ago. But if you didn’t see it, it is fun. This is the beginning of a long weekend for us, so that’s my excuse. ~grin~
Once friends find out I write for “Harlequin”, they like to tease my hubby with questions such as: So what’s it like to be married to a romance writer? ~Elbow. Elbow. Wink. Wink.~
Well, let me tell you. It’s not all fun and games. Sure hubby’s happy to help inspire me when I need to experiment with a kiss to get all the details right.
But I’m an inspirational writer so it never gets any further than that, much to my hubby’s disappointment I’m sure.
Besides, I’m not really a romance writer. I’m a romantic suspense writer.
So more often than not, I’m contemplating means of killing people, and more importantly, how to get away with it.
This can be quite uncomfortable for my family. Especially if they happen to notice my book of poisons sitting on the counter as they sit down to dinner.
Did you know that too much…?
Hmm, never mind, I’d better not reveal that. I’m planning to use the tidbit in my next book.
My family has learned to take my quirky ways in stride. My hubby is quick to assure people that it’s not him I’m planning to do away with when after I ask, “How could someone in your profession get away with murder?”
Most of the time, people warm right up to the subject. After all, be honest, how many of you have never contemplated how you might kill someone?
I’ve had a lot of fun with this line of questioning.
One time on the way to the airport following a writer’s conference, I shared a cab with a forensic pathologist. I was working on a mystery in which I killed someone by… hmm, won’t give that one away either.
Let’s just say by an ingenious means.
So I asked him, “If I killed someone by such and such a means, would you be able to detect that?”
The cabbie’s gaze shot to the rearview mirror. After the pathologist said, “No,” and I rubbed my hands in glee, I think the cabbie spent more time eyeing the rearview mirror than the road.
We made it to the airport in record time.
Then in the plane, I sat beside an aviation inspector. This was a divine meeting since I’d written a plane crash story that I wanted to tweak, and I had a two-hour flight to pick this guy’s brain about the myriad of reasons a plane might go down, and how.
Let me tell you, if you knew this stuff, you’d think twice before you got on a plane. I’m pretty sure the woman in front of us clutching her armrests was.
I could go and on with examples of ideas that have blossomed from the most innocuous situations.
Of course, there are drawbacks to having such an active imagination. It makes relaxing difficult.
This past summer while kayaking with the family, I couldn’t help but notice how easy it would be to sneak up on someone’s house from the water. My daughter who is also a writer locked right onto the idea and before you knew it we were spinning a tale of mystery and mayhem, and eyeing suspiciously every person who paddled by.
Of course, while I have a lot of fun writing my heroes and heroines into the worst situations imaginable, in the end, with the love of God and a good woman, the good guys triumph.

How to Make the Most of Email Irritations

This past weekend, I apparently sent myself an email about a great deal on Rolex watches.

Imagine my surprise!!!

When I’ve gotten this sort of junk mail from a real friend’s email address, I’ve always told them that their email has been hacked. Well, this week I learned that’s not necessarily so.

According to my internet provider, since the email didn’t come from my computer. I don’t have a virus.

I’ve been spoofed.

Now, here’s the scary part. If someone gets such an email from me and blocks the sender because it’s clearly spam…they could be blocking me from ever being able to email them from that address again!

These guys are deviously clever.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Well, first of all, I thought it was intriguing. Something one of my characters should have to deal with at some point. Don’t you think?

Good fiction is all about conflict. Imagine the conflict if the heroine is sending the most important email of her life to her editor or agent or future hero, and doesn’t realize they’ve blocked her address because some creep is tarnishing her good name selling watches or pharmaceuticals or who knows what else?!

Second, I wanted to warn you to be careful about blocking senders when you get spam. If someone you know is listed as the sender, even if you know he or she didn’t really send it, s/he will be the one cut out of your email box, not the real sender.

Third, to protect yourself, discourage your friends from “forwarding” you jokes etc. Or urge them to use BCC, i.e. blind carbon copy so that your email address doesn’t wind up on a bunch of computers of people you don’t know. Eventually, the forwarded email will return to the originator, who is likely a spammer farming email addresses.

Oh, there is definitely a story in this…next book 🙂

Your Turn: What is the most bizarre or irritating or scary email, social media, or computer-related situation you’ve had to deal with?


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)