Your bad date, my inspiration

Have you ever been chatting with a friend and while they’re telling you a story you were completely distracted by how you were going to steal that story and incorporate it into a book?


Then you’re not a writer.

Writers are thieves. I mean, we won’t mug you for your cute purse (probably). But like they say on Law & Order, anything you say can and will be used as fodder for fiction. I actually haven’t watched Law & Order in a couple years, but I’m assuming it’s still using that “ripped from the headlines” theme.

Most of the time, my own theft is fairly innocuous. Ask my cousins who unknowingly lent me their first names (Thanks, Lindsey! Thanks, Katrina!). And my mother, who inspired a throwaway line about tripping over an orange traffic cone (keep providing me with material, Mom, but please watch your step). Don’t even get me started on my single friends’ bad dates.

In A Good Kind of Trouble, I used a couple of real-life incidences as inspiration for workplace scenes. One scene was a newsroom scuffle between Lindsey’s editor Sam and the newspaper’s in-house counsel, Lara Petrie. My critique partner had concerns about that scene.

“I just don’t know if it’s believable that an argument would escalate to a physical altercation,” she said.

This was a bit awkward. I’d worked in newsrooms and seen things that would make an HR professional run screaming, so it hadn’t occurred to me that readers would question something I’d seen happen. More than once. I toned it down a little for the fictionalized version.

The other “ripped from real life” scene was inspired by stories I heard from two different lawyers about life in huge law firms. Gordo’s method of sneaking out of work to have an occasional social life combined two different stealth escape plans. The details were changed, of course, to protect the not-so-innocent.

This is important information to keep in mind if you know any writers. You may need to start each conversation with a disclaimer, like, “This is strictly confidential,” or “Don’t you dare put this in your book,” or “Put down the pen, Ellie. I mean it.” Something like that. Your writer friend will get the hint.

And will wait until you leave to write it down.

(Originally published at Jane Reads, who also did a lovely review! Thank you, Jane!)

The Writing Cycle

The thing about writing, for me, is that I just love it so much. And yet… There are days when it is not easy. Difficult. Teeth-gnashingly, gut-wrenchingly hard. And I can’t imagine not doing it.

I know this makes no sense, so I made a chart to explain what I mean, using the creation of A Good Kind of Trouble as an example.

Stage 1

I was trying to fall asleep when a great idea for a title popped into my head. This was followed by the opening scene of a funny romantic mystery. Then the next scene, a chase scene. Yes! This could be a lot of fun. Then I got out of bed and started writing it down. This eventually became the first chapter of A Good Kind of Trouble, though at the time, it was titled Trust Me, I’m a Lawyer.

Great Escape Blog Tour post1 graphicStage 2

I was proudly a “pantser” when it came to writing. No plotting allowed! Let’s just see where this baby goes. I thought Ben and Lindsey’s story would be a short action-packed romantic mystery. Maybe a novella. That would be fun.

Stage 3

I was passing the 40,000-word mark and realized that I was nowhere near the end of the story. This “novella” was outgrowing its category. I was starting to become concerned, but the mystery Ben and Lindsey was unraveling was complex. The story kept surprising me with its twists. So it would be a short novel. No problem.

Stage 4

Or maybe it would be a long novel. The story had long since abandoned any idea that it could be contained in a novella. Ha! Yet more twists emerged, characters revealed unforeseen depth, and while I was still having fun uncovering all those details, I was starting to panic a little. I was at 80,000 words and I still couldn’t see the end. What if I couldn’t find a way to end this novel? Commence hyperventilating.

Stage 5

The End.

I have never been so happy to write two words in my life. At the time, they were my two favorite words among the 104,000 words that made up the book. This story had consumed me for a year and I was so happy to send it off for the first round of edits. I moved on to a new book in a different series. New characters, new dilemmas, a whole new world. Ben and Lindsey’s story, now called A Good Kind of Trouble, was behind me.

Stage 6

I was trying to fall asleep when I started thinking about Fiona Larkin, a minor character in A Good Kind of Trouble. She was interesting—a widowed single mother, and a lawyer. And what about that FBI agent, Matt Pritchard? Now that could be a minefield of conflict to navigate.

Or what about Ben’s new boss, the handsome and enigmatic Jude Fields? What kind of woman would it take to make him open up or settle down?

Oh, no. I was getting pulled back into the Twin Rivers universe.

But was that a bad thing? I mean, it was fun writing in that world. Maybe this should be a series.

And then I had a great idea for a title…


(Originally published at Bab’s Book Bistro)

Road Trip, part 3

More road trip photos! Of a different trip, though.

Here’s the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe. The tree outside the door to the chapel is laden with rosaries.

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The famous staircase to the choir loft.

2014-11-15 at 11-12-04 2014-11-15 at 11-13-56 The shopping is nice. Maybe I should say, the browsing is nice. Most shopping in Santa Fe is a bit outside my budget.

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Coastal scenery

I’m missing my hometown this week. October is a beautiful time to visit the coast. Rare sunny days that feel like summer, except that summer is generally foggy. While I’m pining for the ocean and checking my calendar to see if I can sneak away before the rainy season starts, enjoy a photo from the northern California coast.

NorCal beach

Hello, Gorgeous!


Look what arrived today!

CtD 4 (1)

The UPS guy said he’d never seen me so happy to get a delivery, and this is the man who brings me shoes, so he knows my happy faceCtD 2.

I’ll be putting five of these in the mail for the winners of the giveaway, as soon as my assistant there gets this box unpacked.

Coastal getaway

Summer vacation photos! Okay, it wasn’t much of a vacation, just a few days away at the coast. But it was lovely and nice to get away.

San Simeon exterior

We went to San Simeon, home of W.R. Hearst’s little summer place.

San Simeon LibraryBW

My favorite rooms? The library. Of course.

San Simeon Library

So many books.

I soaked in inspiration for future WIPs, taking photos of locations that will feature in a couple new works. At least, once I finish the current book. My to-be-written list is growing and fast. Being back on the coast, at the edge of the continent, it always inspires a flood of new ideas.

San Simeon sunset

So tell me, where do you find your inspiration?

How I spent my summer vacation

Halifax 29Do you use your vacation to relax on a beach? Or do you cram in every historic site, museum, and landmark on the map? Come talk about how you spend your summer vacation over at Laffeinated Ink, where I’m blogging today.

Unsolved mysteries

I’m blogging over at Laffeinated Ink today about unsolved mysteries. Come visit us and share your favorite unsolved crime or mystery. Or how the theme music to Unsolved Mysteries still haunts your nightmares.