Where Do Your Ideas Come From?

I decided to start something new this week. I posted about something that happened several years ago on fb and it seemed to get a lot of attention. Several years ago when I my kids were younger we were at the state fair. We wandered into this house up on the hill next to the antique barn. It was full of old photos. I saw one photo that caught my eye. By the clothes, I am guessing it was from the 1920’s. It was a crowd standing in the grand concourse and in the middle of the crowd was a woman who looked just like me. I got goosebumps. I tried to get a copy of the photo but they refused. I thought at the time there might be a story there but it was before I took myself seriously as a writer. So it has been simmering in the back of my brain for quite a while now. For whatever reason it came forward this week and a story started unfolding.

I have wanted to write stories before but this is the first time I have ever felt like I have to tell this story. My friend Tamara Siler Jones who has three books out knew exactly what I was talking about and she got almost as excited about it as I am.  It is all fiction but it feels like something only I can tell. So I have set some goals. I want to get it developed as fast as I can and pump out a first draft in say 60 days.

This story started with that little seed. I gave it time to germinate into something more and now I think it is ready to tell.

Where do your ideas come from? Do you start with the plot or a character?

Today I met both Tammy Jones and Shirley Damsgaard at a book signing at Beaverdale Books. Shirley has a new Jess McConkey book – The Widows of Braxton County that came out this week. Afterwards we had a late lunch and time to talk about our writing projects. Shirley left a few signed copies at the bookstore so if you want an autographed copy, stop by.

Hope your writing is moving forward.



What Are You Reading?

“I learned that we can do anything, but we can’t do everything — at least not at the same time” – Dan Millman

I am one of those people who has a very difficult time juggling work and pleasure. I put my writing in the pleasure category because for now it is still more hobby than career. I tend to put more energy into my day job and that is where the trying to balance comes in. Sometimes I can come home and start writing. Sometimes I come home and feel like my brain is fried and can’t. I tend to give more energy to my day job but I continue to write as often and as much as I can, even if not every day.When I don’t have the energy to write, I do read. It is  one of my favorite past times. It is more than entertaining.  Reading relaxes me, it inspires me, and it teaches me how to be a better writer. I continue to plug along with my novel slowly but forward progress at any speed is better than standing still.


I finished – Grave Justice by Glen Albert Ebisch. It is the second in a series and I enjoyed it as much as The Crying Girl, the first. If you like your cozy mysteries with a touch a paranormal check him out.

I am now reading – Kitty Kittty Bang Bang, a cozy mystery written by my writer friends Sparkle Abbey. I have posted about them before. They are Marylee Woods and Anita Carter. They collaborate on this series set in Laguna Beach. Marylee writes the odd number books while Anita writes the even. They each have their own protagonist, share the setting and secondary characters. It is all about the pets in Laguna Beach. The pets do not solve the crimes though. Their fourth book – Yip, Tuck, just came out recently. They have a great series. I love the titles, Desperate Housedogs, Get Fluffy, Kitty Kitty Bang Bank, Yip Tuck.They are currently working on the next two.

Another writer friend has a new book coming out this week. The Widows of Braxton County by Jess McConkey. This is her second book under the Jess McConkey name. The first was – Love Lies Bleeding. This author also has a cozy mystery series about witches as Shirley Damsgaard.

Writing is something I can’t stay away from too long or I get grumpy. If you write you know what I mean. Reading helps me heal and deal with the stress so hopefully this post will give you a few more ideas when you need to escape into a story.

Until next time,



A Little Summer Reading

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
― Stephen KingOn Writing

I read regularly but it seems like it takes me longer to finish a book then it used to. I used to get through a couple books a week now it seems like I struggle to get through one a week. Here are some that I’ve read the past few months.

I recently discovered a series that I really enjoyed. I did get through them fairly quickly. They are co-written by Rosalind Burgess and Patricia Obermeier Neuman. They write the Val and Kit Mystery series. I had to read them because Val is a REALTOR and I have always wanted a REALTOR protagonist. Originally, I wanted to see how they did it and then I got sucked into the stories. The first is ‘The Disappearance of Mavis Woodstock’ and the cover has an attractive front door. I bought them on my kindle and it was like eating peanuts, couldn’t stop with on.. They are cozies so nothing too graphic but the characters are well developed and the story lines believable. The second in the series is ‘The Murder of Susan Reed’ and the third is ‘Death in Door County‘. If you are looking to be entertained, check them out. I know I am waiting for the next one.

I also read a Kathy Hogan Trocheck – ‘Every Crooked Nanny‘. What pulled me into this series is that I love Mary Kay Andrews and this is an older series she had before her MKA books. Female protagonist who owns a cleaning business gets pulled into a case when a nanny gets murdered.  Again a great cozy and do plan to read more.

I also discovered Glen Ebisch and his first book – ‘The Crying GIrl’. This cozy series has a touch of paranormal. It almost felt like a cozy horror. This one introduces the series characters who end up in a small town to find out the truth about an old teacher who dies falling down the stairs of a reputed haunted house. For some reason the protagonist questioned how that could have happened to her. That seemed a little flimsy because I suppose anyone could fall down the stairs and die but it wasn’t enough to make me not want to finish the book. I did buy the next two in the series and plan to read them too. Good fun and again, if you like cozies you should check them out. Some of these were for free when I picked them up. I love getting a free book and discovering an author like.

I also bought the first three Allison Kingsley Raven’s Nest Bookstore Mystery. I finished ‘Mind Over Murder‘ – the first. Clara Quinn has the Quinn sense. She tried to escape it by leaving Finn’s Harbor but when she is forced to return, she works part time at her cousin’s bookstore. One of the residents doesn’t like that the bookstore has books on the Occult and is very vocal about it. Later she is found dead and an employee of the store is accused of the murder. The two cousins work together to catch the killer. A good series with likable characters and I definitely plan to read more.

I also finished a book by a local author who belongs to my Sisters in Crime – Iowa group. Her name is Jody Vorbrich and she wrote ‘Murder in Central Standard Time.’ The body is found at the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge that isn’t too far from where I live. The protagonist volunteers there and stumbles upon the body. This is a well written story that kept me coming back and I am hoping this is the first of many. What makes it even more interesting is that our chapter President of Sisters in Crime Iowa this year is the Director of the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge. She is writing a series of books with a character who works at a refuge also. 

I am currently reading Neil Gaiman‘s – ‘The Ocean At The End of The Lane’ – I am half way through it and so far it has been a great treat too. It is a literary novel with a touch of paranormal.

What are you reading? Do you still read real books or an e-reader? I bounce back and forth. There are some books I need to own.

Keep reading and writing,


Writing Books

I am fascinated with the craft of writing. I love the fact that someone can rearrange words on a page in a way that can touch someone else. All writers do the same thing but they do it their own way. If you ask a writer how they write most of the time they look like they don’t know where to start to explain it. Most of them don’t know how to explain it, they just do it.

Over the years I’ve learned that writing a story is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. You might start out with an idea and maybe a couple characters but you don’t necessarily know the theme, or the whole plot. Some writers start with a character and they develop that character discovering the goal, motivation, and conflict. They use that information to start building the structure of the story. Some writer’s use the hero’s journey. Others look at plot points and know that we have to have a twist here and another one there. Dissecting books and movies help you learn more about structure. After a while, I think there is a natural rhythm to the story. You know as you’re writing that it either feels right or it doesn’t. When it doesn’t you start reviewing the structure or maybe the characters. Do you have someone doing something that doesn’t fit into their goal? i believe that you can learn to write but no one will write in exactly the same way. We all have to find what works for us.

Over the years I have started buying writer’s reference books. I seem to find something new in each one even though most of them are covering the same information. Right now, the one I have relied a lot on for my current project is Hallie Ephron’s book on mystery writing. I have used it so much, it is falling apart.

Recently I discovered William Bernhardt. He is a writer who also teaches writing in Oklahoma. He published three books on writing recently. They are not huge books and you can read them within a short amount of time but they are packed with information that can help you write your story.

The first one is on Structure, the second is about Character, and the third is about Plot. There is a lot of overlapping in the books but each one can stand alone. They are another valuable tool in my personal toolbox for writing. If you want to polish your writing skills or have thought about writing a novel. These three books would be a good start.

I feel like I am finally getting somewhere with my current story. I kind of got stuck in chapter four but I have worked through that and plan to move on to chapter five later this evening.

How is your project going? What are your favorite how-to books?

What’s in your toolbox?


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