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An Idea-Seeding Example | #challenge #amwriting

Friday, July 19, 2019

I mentioned in a previous post that I look for creativity-seeds when coming up with these daily fiction-related ideas when nothing original comes to mind. I wanted to show you an example of what that looks like.

On Sunday, I was having trouble focusing, so I went to my Sounds Interesting list on Goodreads and started reading the back-cover blurbs of the books there. (A process I explained in even more detail here.) I landed on The Pirate Prince by Connie Mason. The first part of the blurb reads:

She was a jewel among women, brighter than the moon and stars. Her hair shone like newly minted gold, and her skin was as smooth and iridescent as an exquisite pearl. Her lips were lush and pink, made for kissing. She was a pirate’s prize, yet he could not so much as touch her.

Why did this blurb stand out to me? Because it offended me (as an author and lover of historical romance) in all its cliche-ness. So I let myself react to it viscerally:

She was not a jewel among women—she was as dull as a cloudy sky. Her hair did not shine like newly minted gold—it was a balance between the colors of dirt and potting soil. Her skin was not as smooth and iridescent as an exquisite pearl—she had visible freckles and moles and suffered a skin ailment that made scaly patches that were itchy, dry, and painful. Her lips were not lush and pink, made for kissing—her mouth was asymmetrical (top lip much thinner than the bottom, as if they’d come from two different mouths), and her top lip disappeared almost completely on the rare occasion that she smiled; the corners had a permanent downward turn, discouraging conversation, much less kissing; and it was a mouth known for expressing her opinions about whatever topic struck her fancy. She was no man’s prize; yet once he met the stubborn, independent old spinster, he couldn’t get her off his mind.

Have you ever seen/heard a story blurb that inspired your own creative idea?

Has It Been an Idea-ful Week? | #challenge #amwriting

Sunday, July 14, 2019

My computer has been at the repair shop since Tuesday (fan needed to be replaced), but I’ve still been sticking to my idea-per-day challenge.

So, although I’m having to post this from my phone, I still wanted to stay accountable and check in to see if anyone else is keeping up with the challenge.

Seeding Creativity | #ideaperday #challenge #amwriting

Monday, July 8, 2019

Another post, another photo to show that I’ve been sticking to my Idea Per Day challenge for July.

Because of traveling and recovery from traveling/vacation, the ideas still aren’t flowing freely. But I have decades’ worth of stuff saved on my computer that makes really great seeds for ideas—from actual story ideas I’ve jotted down before to my casting book and even to blog posts I’ve shared here before.

Now that I’m home and my schedule is back to normal, my next step is to work on making sure that I’m going this at the same time every day. The plan is to have the notebook sitting on my bedside table to do it just before bed each night, since that used to be my most creative time for writing to see if I can get that back.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep making sure that I write down one fiction-related idea per day . . . even if I do have to search for some seeds to get started with!

Where do you find seeds for your ideas?

Have You Had an Idea per Day? | #challenge #amwriting

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Happy July 4! Just in case you didn’t realize, it’s July 4 all around the world. Here in the U.S., we’re celebrating Independence Day. I’m *really* looking forward to having to keep my dog calm during the hours of neighborhood noisemaking with firecrackers and other things that go boom. (I’m kind of surprised, actually, that it hasn’t already started now that it’s 1 PM!)

But I digress . . . (Yes, it’s a holiday from work and I’m scatterbrained—which really has nothing to do with its being a holiday. Welcome to my world.)

July Challenge: One Idea per Day
On Monday, I posted my personal creativity challenge for the month of July, which is to purposely come up with and write down one fiction-related idea each day of the month. I’ll freely admit . . . I had to start by going back through decades-old files on the computer and reading a whole bunch of old, vague ideas and story starter in order to start getting the juices flowing. But it worked!

Handwritten Story Ideas | July Challenge |

And not only do I have an idea for each day of the month so far, I woke up thinking about the idea I’m going to write about today. Again, it’s one that goes back to something I came up with a long time ago. But it’s a story idea. It’s fiction-related. And it made me wake up thinking creatively. So, even after just three days—it’s working!

Have you had an idea each day so far this month?

July Challenge: Put Your Thinking Caps On! | #amwriting #challenge

Monday, July 1, 2019

Hi! Long time, no see!

In going through and updating all of the goals, milestones, and Master Plans I set for myself at the beginning of the year, I remembered that one of the major pieces I’ve let fall to the wayside is this blog. Well, consider it revived!

And I’m tying it into another Master Plan for the year, which is to start writing again. With that in mind, I came up with a challenge for myself—and I hope you’ll play along, too!

July Challenge

I’ve already set up a three-ring binder with some notebook paper and a couple of sections. One is for another writing project, which I posted about on Instagram (and I’ll explain more about that here later). But as I was staring at the blank first section of the binder, I suddenly had an idea—not just to get myself thinking creatively again (priming the pump for writing) but also to have something to blog about this month:
An Idea per Day |

An Idea per Day!

As you might be able to see in the Post-it Note in the photo, my idea for getting back into both blogging and writing is to challenge myself to come up with one new fiction-related idea each day. Ideas can range from full-on story ideas to:

  • Characters
  • Scenes
  • Settings
  • Conflicts
  • Dialogue exchanges
  • Relationships

And so on.

I’m doing this handwritten in a binder on notebook paper because that’s how I got started writing. And, as Julia Cameron puts it:

When we write by hand, we connect to ourselves. We may get speed and distance when we type, but we get a truer connection–to ourselves and our deepest thoughts– when we actually put pen to page (para. 3).

I’m also going to do it at night during the time I’ve set aside to “wind down for the night”—a time to relax and clear my mind before I actually go to bed. For many, many years, the hours between “activity” and “sleep” were my most prolific creatively. It’s the time of day when my internal editor/left-brain critic is tired and ready to go to sleep after working all day but my creative right-brain is ready to get out and play. Of course, that’s if the idea doesn’t come to me randomly some time throughout the day. If it does, I’ll jot down a note to myself wherever I am (a Post-it, on my phone) and then rewrite it into the notebook before bed.

And I’ll be sharing some of them here, too! So . . .

Who’s Ready for a Challenge?
Works Cited:

Cameron, Julia. “Morning Pages: Why by Hand?” Julia Cameron Live, 4 Oct. 2012,

Writing Fiction: Going Outside the Box for Story Inspiration

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Last week, I posted about how I was using book blurbs to spark my own story ideas (and, as the ideas I posted hopefully show, I have definitely not been merely copying those ideas!). I’ve done a few more of those, but after a while, the ideas (like the book blurbs) just got repetitive. (And as someone who has worked as a blurb writer in the past, I will say that the blurbs, even the best written ones, are not necessarily indicative of the quality of the story between the covers—and there is quite a bit of a formula that goes into writing them, which is why they all sound familiar.)

This week, I’m trying to think outside of my normal “idea-generating box” (romantic films, books, stories, etc.) to see if there are other places where I might find story inspiration.

And one of the places (that I’ve never used, personally, though a lot of romance authors do) is looking at fairy/folktales. I started with a list of the usual suspects (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty & the Beast, Rapunzel, Snow White, etc.). But then I remembered a book I’ve had my entire life (published in 1970, it’s actually older than I am, slightly).

The two stories, which start the book off, that I would consider the most well-known/usual suspects are “Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Princess and the Pea.” It also includes (in simplified versions for young children):

And now, by looking for the originals of all of those stories online, I have more rich resources to peruse for story seeds during my writing time this week!
Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales: First Series, by Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales: Second Series, by Hans Christian Andersen

Grimms’ Fairy Tales, by The Brothers Grimm

Because I could go on doing this “searching for story seeds” forever, I’m putting myself on a timeline. Starting next week (Sunday), I will stop looking for story ideas and start on the “cultivating seedlings” part of the writing process, by going back through the ideas I’ve written down and starting to flesh out the ideas into characters (with names!) and plots.

But for this week . . .
What is one of your favorite fairy/folktales that you feel needs a romance retelling set in Portsmouth, England, in 1802–1803, featuring a hero connected to the Royal Navy?

Fiction Writing: Finding Seeds to Grow Ideas

Thursday, March 7, 2019

About a week ago, I posted on my Facebook Page about a new series idea that was percolating in my imagination. Since I’ve never really recorded my process of coming up with story ideas (mostly because it’s been a different process each time), I thought I’d record this journey as I take it. [For lack of an official series title, I’m just calling it the Peace of Amiens series.]

Finding Story Seeds
It seems counter-intuitive and like a really bad idea to look to other authors’ books for story inspiration, but that’s exactly what I decided to do. I got on Goodreads and clicked on my Historical Romance list, sorting it by highest average rating. I’m currently going through the list during my writing time each evening, reading the book description and seeing if it sparks a story idea for me.

Here are some examples (with a link to the story that inspired it) of what I came up with—some are more fleshed out than others! I also don’t have names for these characters yet…

Idea 1

  • Having suffered severe burns over half his face during battle, he is far from home (Gibraltar) when the Peace of Amiens begins.
  • She’s an admiral’s daughter sailing back to England with her sister on her brother-in-law’s (Captain) ship.
  • Inspiration from: A Kiss of Lies by Bronwyn Evans.

Idea 2

  • Her fiance goes off to war but promises to write. Through “his” letters, she gets to know him in an entirely new way—she’d been trying to come up with a good reason to cry off the engagement, realizing she wasn’t in love with him, before he left. But after three years of letters, she is so irrevocably in love, she’s not sure how she can live from one letter to the next.
  • Plot Option 1: Original Fiance Dies
    The fiance’s friend, who was actually writing the letters, finds her to offer his sympathies (and the “fiance’s last letter”?). As they spend time in the same social circles, she slowly comes to realize he’s the one who was writing the letters when she figures out she didn’t know the man whom all of his friends/fellow officers talk about—but feels like she knows his friend intimately.
  • Plot Option 2: Fiance Comes Back
    Similar to Option 1, but she figures out the fiance wasn’t the one writing the letters from his behavior now that he’s back and the only interest he shows is in her father’s money/social standing.
  • Inspiration from: Till Next We Meet by Karen Ranney
  • Also inspired by Cyrano de Bergerac (obviously)

Idea 3

  • As headmistress of a girls’ finishing school, she knows better than to allow even the slightest hint of dalliance with a man.
  • When a bored naval captain turned out on land during the Peace sets his sights on her, will he be able to crack through her shell of self- and professional-preservation and make her fall in love with him?
  • Inspiration from: Night Song by Beverly Jenkins

Idea 4

  • After losing the first ship he commanded (and on his first mission!) to the French at the Chesapeake Bay in 1781, then being a prisoner of war until it officially ended in 1783, then facing a court martial for losing his ship (and being acquitted but discharged from the Royal Navy), he swore he’d never set foot on a ship again.
  • In 1793, with the outbreak of the French Revolution, the Admiralty came calling; but he refused the commission they offered. Then they offered him a letter of marque and a ship/crew—and the chance to revenge himself time and time again on the French as a privateer. How could he refuse that offer?
  • By Amiens in 1802, he is one of the most notorious—and wealthiest—British privateers. Now in his mid-forties, he’s been thinking about retiring for a few years now, so the Peace came at just the right time.
  • Back on dry land, when he hears a rumor that an earl is looking for someone to marry the earl’s only daughter in order to give the earl a grandson/heir, at first, the former privateer isn’t interested. But then he meets her and realized she could be the greatest prize he’s ever captured.
  • Will he have more trouble convincing her or her father that he’s the right man for the “job”?
  • Inspiration from: Crimson Rapture by Jennifer Horsman

If you read the book summaries at the links provided, you’ll see that while there’s one or two threads of similarity, I really did just take “seeds” from these book blurbs in order to allow my imagination to germinate my own story ideas. (Yes, I’ve also been thinking that it’s just about time to get my garden seeds started, too.)

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