Several years ago, I attended an Indiana RWA event—Bob Mayer’s Write it Forward workshop. It was inspiring and Bob’s book, The Novel Writer’s Toolkit is one of my go-to references. He has lots of valuable things to say about writing and the process of writing. Another mentor is Lani Diane Rich, whose Chipperish Media’s How Story Works podcasts are an invaluable source of inspiration and education for any writer. From Lani, I learned about discovery—what begins my process when I write.
All books begin with an idea, as Mayer says. That’s “the heart of your story.” For me, it’s mostly characters in my head banging around, begging for their stories to be told, but sometimes it’s an event in my life. That was the case with my very first book, Rule Number One. The fun we had in a pub in Cork, Ireland, when Son got to pull his own pint of Guinness, inspired a scene that became Katy and Jack’s story.
Sometimes it’s a film I’ve seen that sparks an idea that turns into a story. The seeds of my first novel, Once More from the Top, were sown with one scene from a movie that I saw over forty years ago. That one scene stayed with me and eventually ignited the creative process that became the first novel in my Women of Willow Bay series. The next story in that series came from a secondary character in Once More From the Top who cried out for her own story and the third started as a simple friendship between colleagues that turned into a romantic suspense story when a walk along the Lake Michigan shore made me start wondering about shipwrecks and lost treasure.
My days spent wandering around wineries, not only in northern California and the Sierra foothills, but also in Michigan and Indiana inspired my Four Irish Brothers Winery series and the little town of River’s Edge, which in turn, brought me all the wonderful new characters whose stories will be coming up very soon from Tule Publishing.
The creative embers that I had deliberately banked for the last few weeks in order to work on paying gigs flared into a small fire this week that is already filling my mind and overwhelming me with ideas. As I worked on my editing projects, I scratched notes on scraps of paper—words, conversations, scenes, choices, things I need to research—for Book 3 of the Lange Brothers series and also for the Weaver Sisters series that is coming up next. All the characters in my head began speaking at once and I even bought a new notebook because the current one is getting filled up fast. This process—this flurry of ideas—is what Lani calls discovery and I have been deep into it.
A friend once asked me, “So have you been writing this week?” I mentioned briefly that I’d had several new ideas and was playing around with them, making notes, and figuring them out. He grinned and said, “See? That’s the difference between a writer and the rest of us. When you daydream, you write it down. I daydream all the time, but I never think to write it down.”
Well, maybe that’s not the whole difference, but it’s probably the beginning…
Stay well, stay safe, and most of all, mes amies, stay grateful!