Sunday, August 10, 2008

Into the Melting Pot


by Christine Wells

Kill me now.

Someone just stole the most fantastic story idea I had for my next book--a series, actually. Well, OK, she didn't steal it. It was just one of those serendipitous things where two people in different parts of the world who don't know each other came up with the same idea at roughly the same time. Unfortunately, this New York Times bestselling author has already converted the idea (did I mention it was fantastic?) to print and now I have to come up with something equally brilliant. Or at least something that will convince my editor to give me another contract.*g*

Story ideas aren't often a problem for writers. We usually have too many ideas rather than too few. However, the process by which the germ of a notion gradually evolves into a concrete springboard for a one hundred thousand word novel differs from writer to writer, so I can only tell you about mine. The closest I can come to describing my so-called process is similar to the way Lady Malmerstoke described (perhaps not entirely accurately) to our hero the way women think in Georgette Heyer's POWDER AND PATCH.

"They jump, you see...From one thing to another. You'll arrive at a new thought by degrees and you'll know how you got there. Women don't think like that."

So here, as near as I can remember, is the leap-frog thought process by which I reached the premise for THE DANGEROUS DUKE.

*I read about the courtesan Harriette Wilson's threat to expose prominent clients if they didn't pay her to keep their name out of her memoirs.

*I thought about power and how a woman in the nineteenth century could seize her own power and wield it to get what she wanted. She might not be able to vote, but she might still play a part in world affairs.

*I watched 5 straight seasons of UK spy series "Spooks" and absorbed the continuing question in that wonderful drama--does the end always justify the means? I asked myself, how does a spy live with what he does? How does he leave it all behind and live happily ever after?

*At the same time, I took an interest in a debate about whether heroines were simply place-holders in romance. The theory goes that the reader doesn't care too much about the heroine's qualities, she wants to step into the heroine's shoes and fall in love with the hero.

*And finally, I thought about the difference between fantasy and reality and whether we really want our fantasies to come true. Could you really live with a hero like Dain in Lord of Scoundrels?

*Oh, and somewhere along the way, I found pictures of my hero and heroine. These were the people I wanted to write about.

After a lot of leaping about, all those snippets went into the melting pot. Then came dithering, writing, rewriting, sweat and tears but no blood, thank goodness, after which there emerged a story that went something like this (with thanks to Publishers Weekly for putting it more concisely than I could):

Maxwell Brooke, a dangerous operative for the Home Office, has unexpectedly become a duke, thanks to an arson that killed the four heirs ahead of him. Determined to bring the suspected perpetrators to justice, he has jailed Reverend Stephen Holt, who may know their whereabouts. Outraged, Holt's sister, widowed Lady Kate Fairchild, threatens to publish a diary that could embarrass high figures in government unless her brother is freed. Although the scandals are real, she hasn't actually written the book yet, and the handwritten volume Max steals from her home contains only Kate's sexual fantasies. He kidnaps her (on the thinnest of pretexts) and begins to make her dreams come true...

Simple, huh?

Where and when do you get great ideas? Have you ever tracked your thought processes? Do you believe women think differently from men? Are writers simply crazy?

One lucky commentor will win the sum total of all my crazy thought processes in the last year, THE DANGEROUS DUKE!

93 comments:

Elyssa Papa said...

Mine?

Elyssa Papa said...

Woohoo! Welcome back to NY, you rooster, you!

Christine, I feel your pain about the storylines. Grrr at that NYT bestseller author. How dare she! LOL

My thought process for Lay All Your Love On Me, my second finished manuscript, went something like this last summer when I first got the idea:

1. Turn the TV on. Ohh. Paris got arrested and she's going to jail. What if Paris is simply misunderstood. Me thinking more... What if there was an heiress who had something bad happen to her and needed to escape?

2. Why not set in South Africa? It's hot. It's exotic. And it's just a sexy setting. (I'm a big fan of outdoor sex--in books--and there's many opportunities for this in LAYLOM).

3. But the first thing that happens is that she runs into a photojournalist! And what's even worse it's a man from her past, who's known her since she was a teenager.

4. He has no problem keeping her secret... for a price. And what happens when an uneasy alliance turns to love???

And this is what happens as a result---the first 100 words or so:

****
Trouble had found Noah Harper.

It wasn’t every day that an heiress landed at his feet—especially one who wore Hello Kitty underwear. With her dress flopped over her head and her back to him, the only thing Noah saw at first was her ass.

And if he did say so himself, it was a great ass.

Then, her dress righted and the woman stood, turning around. Noah took a step back, his camera banging hard against his chest. He rubbed a hand over his jaw, still not quite believing his eyes.

He'd long ago stopped believing in ghosts… until this one came back from his past.

“Simone?”
****

And the newest idea: I'm writing a real bad boy--a rockstar in need of redemption in the worst way possible, and the one woman who can do it.

Anna Campbell said...

Ely! Congrats on the rooster. Love the sound of the book! Good luck!

Hey, Christine, so glad we're finally reaching a point where people can read your fantastic second book. For those who like to turn green with envy, start getting out complimentary colours to emerald - I read this months ago. It was like this special treasure just for me. But yanno, eventually you want to talk about a special treasure and nobody was there who had read this great story. Grrr! The hero of this is amazingly sexy and I love that Lady Kate keeps him on his toes the whole way. Hey and congratulations on the great Publishers Weekly Review and the RT four stars and KISS award. You rock, Ms. Wells!

Elyssa Papa said...

Wow, congrats Xtine on all the great reviews and accolades for TDD!

Christine Wells said...

Hi Ely, what a fab story! Snorked at the Hello Kitty underwear. Your process sounds a lot more logical than mine does, I must say. I can see a clear progression there. Thanks for the congrats on those reviews, btw.

Looks like you're taking home the rooster tonight. I'm sure our suave fowl will provide you with more inspiration for that hero in need of redemption!

Virginia said...

Oh this book looks like a good one. I would love to read it. I have never read any of Christine's books.

Christine Wells said...

Anna, you're such a sweetheart. Thank you for your kind words and congrats.

I'm sure everyone knows by now that I owe FoAnna several kidneys due to her lightning fast brilliant powers of critiquing. It does seem like it's taken forever for this book to come out, doesn't it? I can't wait to hold it in my hot little hands:)

Christine Wells said...

Hi Virginia, thanks, if you do read it I hope you like THE DANGEROUS DUKE!

flchen1 said...

Woo! Congrats on the GR, Elyssa! And that story sounds pretty intriguing--how fun to hear about your thought process! ;)

Christine, I do think that women think differently than men, at least some of the time. I think that some can do more of that compartmentalizing thing where they can selectively turn parts of their brains off and not register stuff while they work on other stuff. Or maybe it's just individuals who can do that, but that doesn't seem to be something I'm very good at ;) As for ideas, I'm not much of an idea person, but I love reading the product of all you authors' brainstorms! Congrats on book #2!!!

Louisa Cornell said...

Yay, Elyssa!! Put that bird on a leash in the Big Apple! He is one dangerous bird!

Yes, Christine, all writers are CRAZY, but it is a nice crazy, right ladies? Right? Anybody? Bueller?

I love your thought processes Christine and Elyssa. And La Campbell, no fair rubbing it in. I have wanted to read this book since I got my gorgeous cover flat for it (now framed in my writing studio!)

LOST IN LOVE came from a writing exercise a CP suggested when I was stuck on another book. I had to take four words - glittering, cave, journal and soldier and write a story. That story was chapter one of Lost in Love and the rest is history - my first book was born!!

My second book came when I was doing some research on places in Suffolk. I found a site with beautiful black and white photos of Suffolk. There was one taken in Dunwich, the village that literally fell off into the see. The photo was of a long tree-lined drive that lead off a cliff. There had once been a home there but in the photo there was just the drive and the trees and the mist. I imagined what the house would look like and voila THE RAVEN'S HEART was born.

And a conversation I had with an editor at conference has given me an idea for a Regency set paranormal series with opera singers as heroines. We'll see what happens there.

I never know what is going to trigger a story idea, but I hope they never stop coming!! And some have to cook longer than others, don't you think?

Christine Wells said...

Hi Fedora! Thanks for the congrats!

I've always thought it astonishing the sheer force of concentration most men can devote to sports. There could be an earthquake and they wouldn't notice, but then I can get pretty absorbed in my writing, too.

I suppose the difference is that women are so often the primary caretakers of everyone else. They don't have the luxury of becoming absorbed in a task because if they do, they're likely to find little Johnny sticking his finger in the toaster or something.LOL

Nature or nurture? I'm sure men and women think differently but I wonder how things will change as their roles in life and family do.

Christine Wells said...

Louisa, thank you for sharing your processes. I'm glad to hear that someone benefits from writing exercises in that way. It must be the rebel in me but as soon as someone gives me something to write about, I don't want to do it!Your stories sound wonderful.

I love the idea of the town that fell off into the water. There's something about true historical events that can really grab the imagination, isn't there? And sometimes a photograph or painting can trigger great story ideas. Oh, and of course your experience as an opera singer is a perfect 'platform' for a series. Can't wait to see what's around the corner for you.

Hey, I'm glad I shared. I'm enjoying reading all these ideas.

Elyssa Papa said...

Oh, the GR isn't in the Big Apple. He's in the capital of NY. Or as we natives call it "Smallbany" instead of Albany because everyone somehow knows everyone here, despite it being a city.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hey Eyssa - Congrats on the GR nabbing!

Yes, I think women think differently than men. We have to. We have too many balls in the air between family, work, and me time to deal with that slow linear thinking.

But that doesn't really explain where the ideas come from. That's still mystery & magic to me. I know for THE TROUBLE WITH MOONLIGHT I was inspired by a confluence of superhero shows at the movies and on TV. I hadn't seen that done in historicals (besides vampires) so I thought invisibility would be unique. However I see in the September RT that Elizabeth Boyle also has a Regency coming out with an invisable heroine.

I guess those creative arcs just float in the sky and different people can reach up and translate them in their own way at the same time.

Can't wait to read THE DANGEROUS DUKE. This one has intriqued me for some time.

Christine Wells said...

Donna, isn't that interesting about Eliz Boyle's new novel? And the best thing is that it won't be anything like yours. No two writers ever treat material the same way. And anyway, you got there first!

In my case, the similarities were not just themes or springboards, but the entire basis for the series was the same. And as I'm the one coming later, I'd prefer not to look like I might have copied. Never mind, as usual, I have a million and one other ideas. I just have to see what my editor wants and go from there.

Jane said...

I do a great deal of thinking when I'm lying bed waiting to fall asleep. I would guess this is where I get my ideas for life in general and for work. I do think that men and women think differently. We just see things a certain way and vice versa. I'm looking forward to the release of "The Dangerous Duke."

Congrats on the GR, Elyssa.

Amy Andrews said...

Ooh Christine - I love the sound of your book!

Luckily for me ideas seem to arrive in my head with reasonable fullness so I dont have to jump sideways too much to get to the plot.

Men most certainly think differently. I always say my dh's brain is like sponge and mine's like a sieve. He's got the time and focus to absorb the most inane pieces of information. Mine takes everything in and all but what I need to survive the next 24 hrs leaks out again!
They also seem to have an incredible ability to appear to be listening to you BUT not actually take anything in. I found the ultimate remedy for this. If there's something really important I need to discuss with my dh, I take my top off first. Suddenly I have all that amazing male focus! Works everytime!

Christine Wells said...

Jane, I don't think you're alone in the way you come up with ideas. There must be something about that period between waking and sleep that helps the thought process. I heard a workshop April Khilstrom gave where she said you should write down questions you want your subconscious to work on before you go to sleep. Overnight, your mind works on the problem while you sleep and hopefully in the morning you have your answer.

Christine Wells said...

Snork, Amy! You're hilarious!! What a pity taking your top off is really a remedy confined to your husband *g*. Not a universal one, or so I'd hope!

Actually, you're right about the sponge/sieve thing. Since having children I'm like that too. I wonder if I'll ever get back to the way I used to be when I could focus absolutely. I still manage to do it sometimes, which is why dinner is so frequently a little, er, overcooked.

Helen said...

Congrats Elyssa have fun with him

Great post Christine I am so looking forward to reading this book I loved Scandals Daughter and I know I am going to love this one as well not long to wait !!!

I think Men and Women think differently I have no imagination most of the time and I am in total awe of the storylines that you authors think up I just don't have it in me but I really enjoy the adventures and love affairs that I have with the books that are written.
I have visited so many countries and met so many wonderful Heros and Heroines over the years bring the books on.

I will be ordering The Dangerous Duke as soon as I can YAY.

Have Fun
Helen

Margay said...

I think I might be afraid to trace my thought processes because, some days, they jump all over the place. I usually have way too much on my mind any given day - worry about keeping my M.S. in check, about my daughter's struggle with bipolar disorder and Asperger's Syndrome, about my sister who has bipolar and Crohn's, my brother who had surgery on his neck, my other daughter's upcoming test for her license and her plans for college next year, needing to do repairs on my clunker (otherwise known as a car) - and these things just rattle around in my brain vying for space amongst all these other characters with their own sets of issues. I'm not sure that's a trip anyone wants to take with me! Actually, I'm not sure I want to! But, a lot of that chaos inside the head is the basis for stories I write, so I can't really complain. And I do think men think differently than women. In my experience, they get it done and forget about it, whereas women tend to think it to death (at least the ones I know - myself included - do), rationalize, analyze, dissect, and make excuses for it. We also try to empathize and find the good in all situations/people. I think men are more cut and dried; it's either black or white. Women see - and appreciate - the shades of gray in between.

Tiffany Kenzie said...

Writers ARE crazy :) I'm def. a believer in that...


Too funny Ely!

I find ideas everywhere. My last story was a Gerome painting I think was called Circassian beauty. Viola my harem idea came to life through the eyes of Jinan and a question of what if she were sold into slavery.

Do women really want to just read romance to fall in love with the hero? If that's the case I might be in trouble. I like the self discovery and growth of the characters that gives them the ability and freedom to love.

Congrats on the lovely reviews!

My newest idea is stemmed from my love of classical music and talented musicians. And a courtesan that's something of a prodigy :)

I think my ideas just kinda pop up in research.

Buffie said...

Do men and women think differently?

Holy heck, yeah!! Of course! Shoot men think differently at work than they do at home! At least mine does. See he is an accountant, so at work he is all about the little details. But when he comes home, it's "What? Did you say something? I don't remember you telling me that!" It's a darn good thing I love him!

PJ said...

Congrats on the GR, Ely!

Christine, too bad that NYT author got to the idea first. I'm sure you could have done terrific things with it but I'm also sure you'll come up with something equally terrific!

I'm a very lucky girl because I'm reading THE DANGEROUS DUKE right now and I am loving it! Congrats on the fabulous reviews, Christine. You deserve every one of them!

Eva S said...

Christine, I know I'll love this one, I've been waiting for your second book!
I think everybody should be a little crazy, or life would be very boring...

Gannon Carr said...

Take care of the GR, Ely.

Christine, I can't wait to read THE DANGEROUS DUKE! I love the plot. Who wouldn't want a handsome man making all of their sexual fantasies come true?!

Of course men and women think differently. My hubby sounds a lot like Buffie's. So anal and detail oriented about so many things, but he definitely has selective hearing at home! ;) Arrgh!

Dina said...

I think men & woman think differently for sure. I don't write, but it must take some special people with fanitastic brains to come up with what they d. ;)

Deb Marlowe said...

I'm so looking forward to A Dangerous Duke! Not long now, for those of us who have to wait--Yay!

In the 'writers are crazy' theme: Since I got back from SF, I have been having the most insanely vivid dreams. Lots of times I do remember my dreams, but these are particularly detailed and organized and they are really staying with me.


Huh. Maybe it's a side effect of jet lag. At least once a night I wake up thinking, Wow, I should put that in a book.

Anybody else having this going on?

Maureen said...

I think men and women definitely think differently. I found this out as my husband and I were raising our children.

Joan said...

Christine,

Add me to the list of "can't wait to get The Dangerous Duke" readers.

I don't think there's any thinking to it...men and women do not have the same thought processes.

I love to watch guys minds work...its by turns intriguing, amusing, exasperating and fascinating.

Susan Seyfarth said...

Christine--

Big hugs on somebody stealing your fabulous idea! I hate it when that happens, & as an unpubbed writer, I have absolutely nothing on the line. I hope you're not gnashing your teeth over there.

And I'm laughing at the men & women thinking differently thing. My husband & I are total oppposites when it comes to decision making--only we've reversed the gender roles. He's Mr. Intuitive & I'm Madame Think It Through. We make each other crazy. But eventually we come to center & figure it out.

And I can't WAIT to read the Dangerous Duke! When is your release date again? Tell us, tell us so we can stalk our local booksellers!

Buffie said...

Helen -- love your avatar of the kidos! Too cute!

Cassondra said...

Interesting topic Christine.

I have always said I think more like a man. It's linear. BUT when I'm coming up with ideas for creative work, it's not linear. I have to switch. I learned to do that songwriting, and you just never know where the tiny germ of an idea will come from. I learned through songwriting that I can nurture that, and how to get into a space to "hear" that--and to get the rest of the song out of the air when I've only heard a little tiny bit of it.

And I also learned that yes, it is in the air, and anyone who is bothering to listen then can hear it, and if they have more channels to get it cut and out there, they'll get it done before me, so when I get a really good idea, I stash it away and pull it out only when I'm alone in my creative cave. I don't think about it in a room full of writers, that's for darn sure.

It's really aggravating to have a great idea "stolen" out from under you. No, of course it's not actually stolen, but it feels that way when you first discover it. Phil Vassar's song "Just Another Day In Paradise"? I wrote that. A couple of years before anybody knew who Phil Vassar was. Mine's different, and he cut his own song, which is brilliant, but it was frustrating. I could write down a dozen of them that I've "lost" in just that way. Somebody else did it first.

The process by which I renovate a kitchen is entirely different from that by which I create a story--or a song. Switching from one kind of thinking to the other isn't always easy for me.

And my women friends who can't think in a linear fashion? I have trouble communicating with some of them. So I can relate to the guys out there who get frustrated with women who can't follow a logical thought train. :0/

Kirsten said...

Wow, so many interesting things to comment on today!

I have no idea where ideas come from, but my books usually jump off from The Big Idea and meander from there. My YA was, "What if you had superpowers but couldn't tell if they were good or bad?"

My current WIP was inspired by the Bandit Buddies! We were talking about favorite fairy tales and romance hooks and Beauty and the Beast kept coming up. So I decided I wanted to try a Beauty and the Beast story where the heroine was the beast!

Do heros sell romances? I would prefer to think it could be either heros or heroines, but you'll have to help me here, BBs. Can you think of a series you loved and adored that centered around a group of women? I can think of lots that center around men (Mallorys, Bridgertons, Gena Showalter's new series...) but not as many about women. This is a concern for me, because I usually find myself plotting around my heroines!

Zeitgeist. This is my word of the month. It seems to come up in conversation as I'm talking about books and plotting and how trends run in packs. One of the themes in my YA is whether the ends really do justify the means -- wonder where I came up with that one? ;-) It's not surprising to me that we come up with similar story ideas, though I would expect that living in Australia and living in the USA would distinguish the trends you're seeing, at least to some extent.

As for men and women thinking differently (I love Amy's mind like a sieve comment -- I am soo like that!) there's no doubt in my mine. But I hadn't thought about Christine's point, that it goes back to the hunting v. caretaking. Very wise, Madame! I also wonder if that's why women worry like the dickens about things, whereas men can put things into their little compartments and not think about them?

Deb, you MUST MUST MUST write down all those lovely inspirations you are getting in your dreams! Ever since I started researching dreams for a new YA I have gained a new appreciation for the importance of our nighttime lives and visions. That's great stuff you're channeling, m'dear. Don't let it slip away!

terrio said...

Congrats on the GR, Ely. No fair gloating (even gently) PJ. LOL! Love the new avatars Helen and Kirsten.

I'm another linear one. I'm way too logical and practical for my own good. And I agree that women tend to over-analyze things whereas men just take it and leave it. I would feel sorry for them having to figure us out but as I can't figure them out either, they get no pity from me!

My ideas come mostly right before I drift off to sleep, some while I'm driving, and then a few while I'm getting ready in the morning or for bed at night. In other words, during the few times my brain is doing something that doesn't take a whole lot of focus or energy.

I take road trips quite often and mostly to the exact same place. Which means I know ever leaf between here and Knoxville. So the trip doesn't require much thinking, I just go. That's when I can plot an entire story and I often have to pull over to make notes.

I can't imagine ever running out of ideas. I have more trouble getting anything down to finish and move on to the other characters waiting not so patiently.

Can't wait to read this book. And I can totally relate to Lady Kate pitching a book she hasn't actually written yet. ;)

p226 said...

Ideas come to me at any time. All the time. Constantly. Without end. Ever.

Developing the idea doesn't take long either. It just rushes at me.

Putting it into words though? Weeeee....

Hey, I latched on to something else in the post though.

100k words? Is that about average? If that's the case, I could wrap my book up and start writing the sequel!

I've long since blown past the 100k word mark.

And now I'm panicked. Because I don't think I have a backup of my WIP, and the laptop that holds it is suffering a hard drive crash. My automated backups just get my work stuff. My WIP is not included in the backups....

forensic_mode="on"

panic_mode="on"

p226 said...

Oh god... that was soooooo close.

My WIP is recovered...

I swear, if I didn't have $25,000 worth of forensic recovery software and hardware RIGHT ON MY DESK, I would've given up writing.

So, lesson here folks......

Learn from my *almost* mistake...

MAKE COPIES OF YOUR WORK ON OTHER SYSTEMS. Copy it to a backup drive. Copy it to another computer. Email it to yourself at your google account. Do whatever you have to do to backup your work.

Man, all of my day job stuff was backed up, no biggie.... but my WIP just came *so* close to disappearing forever.

jo robertson said...

Great post, Christine. I love hearing about other writers' processes because they're all as different from one another as can be. TDD sounds scrumptious!

I hate when my ideas are "stolen" by other authors (giggle). Sometimes I have an idea percolating around in my brain and see a TV show very similiar. I always shout out, "They stole my idea, buggers!"

Most of my ideas come from events in real life. Something happens and I think, if that happened in a book, we'd say it's too fantastic and unbelievable. So I set about making it believable. Truth often IS stranger than fiction.

jo robertson said...

Congrats, Elyssa, take the chook to a NY show or something snazzy!

LAYLOM sounds tres sexy!

Virginia, you're in for a treat. Christine's first book waswonderful and this second one sounds even more amazing!

jo robertson said...

I definitely think men and women think differently, probably because of our evolutionary roots. The male had to be very focused, shutting out all stimuli except his goal, usually his prey. The female learned to be tuned to the tiniest changes in facial or body language to tend to her young.

Whenever Dr. Big's engrossed in a sports event on TV and I've asked him a question five times, I think, "Oh yeah, throw-back to caveman days."

Minna said...

Yes, women definitely think differently from men. For instance if I try to follow the so called directions one of my brothers has given me so that I could get from place A to place B, I inevitably end up getting lost. I do much better with a map and an address -and without his directions!

Keira Soleore said...

Ely, all yours!! w00t! You've been stealing the chook on a fairly regular basis these days.

Christine, what a fabulous post!!! To answer your last question: Of course, writers are crazy. You need to be a little crooked in the head to be able to leapfrog from idea to idea in answer to the "what if"s.

Joan said...

OMG, p226!

Close call, huh? Yet you've just pointed out a third way of thinking...the writer's way of thinking.

It didn't matter wheather you were male or female at that moment when you thought all your work was gone...your writer soul just skipped a beat...

As to exceeding 100K, yeah that's usually the target word count. But realize, that when you go back through your baby, you'll be able to tweak and tighten it up to come back down to publishing reality.

catslady said...

I think everyone's a bit crazy lol and women most definitely think differently then men.

Joan said...

Wow, Deb. Cool that you're having dreams after SF.

Mine have only been of {deep voice} Garlic World!

I dream rather vividly all night..in color...and can usually recall a majority of it. Never anything per se that would guide me to a story, though I'd LOVE to have the blue swiss 1950's style party dress I was wearing the other night... :-)

Deb Marlowe said...

Kirsten,
I'm definitely keeping track of these dreams. It's just so unusual for me. Maybe a new part of my process?

:-)

Deb Marlowe said...

LOL, Joan.

Garlic World is the new Hades. Work *that* into your Roman stories!

:-)

Christine Wells said...

Helen, you're a sweetheart. THank you! I hope you enjoy THE DANGEROUS DUKE.

Christine Wells said...

Oh, Margay, hugs to you with all that going on. I don't know how you do it. Hope you have some great books to escape into when you get the chance.

Interesting, I think you're right about the difference in men and women. You notice it the most when something bad has happened. You want to talk it out but you don't necessarily want a solution or even believe there is a solution. Men don't want to know about that stuff--they just want to fix it or let it go.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Tiffany, you're not alone getting ideas from research. I do, too, and I have to be careful not to become so wedded to this fabulous snippet of information that it takes over the story. Story comes first, always.

You wrote: I like the self discovery and growth of the characters that gives them the ability and freedom to love.

I couldn't agree more. I want to like and admire a heroine and follow her journey as much as the hero's. She can be ordinary but she has to rise to the occasion in some way. I'm just repeating what I heard in a workshop with an editor at RWA. I've seen it myself, too, the way readers adore books with tortured heroes and could care less that the heroine is an utter drip. In fact it is very difficult to write a romance that has equally strong character arcs for both hero and heroine.

Thanks for the congrats, btw. I'm very pleased with the way THE DANGEROUS DUKE has been received.

Christine Wells said...

LOL Buffie. I often find my husband doesn't start listening until he catches a word that interests him and then I have to repeat what I've said so far. Drives me crazy! But that usually happens after he's put in a long day at work and I pick a better time if I really want him to listen. I'm the same if he talks to me while I'm at the computer.

Christine Wells said...

PJ, your confidence is very comforting, I must say:) I'm thrilled that you're enjoying THE DANGEROUS DUKE! You're so kind.

Looking forward to my day with RNTV on the 27th!

Christine Wells said...

Thanks, Eva. You're so right! It would be boring if everyone in the world were sane.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Gannon, yes it does seem like a pretty good deal, doesn't it?*g* But as we know, the path of true love never ran smooth...

Christine Wells said...

Fantastic brains? Why Dina, I think I like you;) So much more comforting than thinking we're crazy.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Deb, my sistah from another mistah (ok, so it doesn't have quite the ring of brother from another mother, but hey)that's great about your dreams! Isn't that nice of your subconscious to do all that work for you while you sleep? Hope it's fodder for many books!

Christine Wells said...

LOL Maureen, you find out a lot about your spouse when you have children together, don't you? I always marvel at the way mine can focus so easily on something to the exclusion of the chaos around him.

Christine Wells said...

Thanks, Joanie T. You've made a study of men and the way they think, I see. Can't wait to read those Romans and the way they, er, think...

Christine Wells said...

Smoov, you're a sweetheart. No, I'm not gnashing too much, don't have time to gnash. But the suicide scene from Madame Butterfly adequately expressed my feelings when I first found out;) Melodramatic? Moi?

Laughed at you and your husband's switch of the traditional gender roles. I know plenty of women who buck the so-called norm as well.

My release date is September 2, thanks for asking! No doubt I'll be tooting my horn in the lair that day so you won't be allowed to forget;)

Christine Wells said...

Oh, yes, Buffie, I meant to comment on Helen's avatar too. Gorgeous!

Christine Wells said...

Cassondra, that's fascinating and I'm not surprised to hear you say that ordinarily your thought process is linear. I think we can train ourselves that way, too. When I'm in business mode, my thoughts tend to be linear, too. As a lawyer I was trained to gather all the information and analyse it step by step. But I don't think that's natural for me.

Commiserations on all those 'stolen' ideas. I might have thought I'd copied this other author, except that she's never been on my radar and I know exactly the springboard that sent me on this train of thought. It was an episode of the Simpsons, believe it or not!

Anyway, as I said, no time to gnash my teeth! I've already thought of something new and I hope equally good:)

Helen said...

Thanks for the comments on the picture I finally tried to put one on they are treasures my grandchildren although I need and updated one Hayley is 1 now and walking and Jayden is a normal 2 year old boy gotta love them

Have Fun
Helen

Christine Wells said...

Kirsten, I love writing about complex heroines too but I'm quoting Hilary Sares and also writing from my own observation of reading reviews and readers' comments. THis pertains mainly to historicals, though. In YA and women's fiction and contemporary, I see a lot more stories that are mainly the heroines'.

Isn't that interesting that you were looking at the end justifies the means too. I suppose in this age of counter-terrorism it is an issue on people's minds.

Kirsten to my shame I don't read much Australian literature. Certainly, they don't publish romance here, so the trends I absorb are all US ones in that respect.

I love the sound of your Beauty and the Beast story and I can't wait for the Delcroix Academy series. I really like the moral dilemma you've added to the classic superhero story. THanks for the discussion!

Pat Cochran said...

Kirsten,

There's Nora Robert's early series
about the Calhoun women, I certainly enjoyed reading that series.

As to men vs women and their thinking processes, my poor Honey still gets dizzy from spinning
about trying to follow my thinking. LOL We have agreed that it stems from men and their "logical" thinking. Honey will proceed through with an idea and when he
is done, it's done! With me, I
can start explaining my idea, but
so many related ideas begin to
make themselves known. I have to
verbalize them and thus begins the
verbal game of tag!

Pat Cochran

Terry Odell said...

Well, I'm back at home but this is the first chance I've had to 'play'. "Only" 64 comments.

Yes, Yes, Yes. Men and women's brains are hardwired differently. Goes way, way back to the days when the men were out hunting the mastadons and avoiding the saber tooth cats, and the women were gathering and keeping the clan alive. The brain hasn't made that many changes over time, even though their roles in a modern society have changed a great deal.

And there was a fascinating workshop on this at RWA.

Christine Wells said...

Ha! Good one about pitching the unfinished book, Terrio! Snork.

Yes, I think you're right about those moments when your mind wanders into creative mode. Another one for me is in the shower. Sadly, we have water restrictions here, which means my opportunity for dreaming has been curtailed!

Christine Wells said...

Phew! P226, glad to hear your opus was saved! Reminds me I haven't backed up today. Must do that.

For romance novels and most genre fiction, 100K is the norm. Depends what you're writing, though. Fantasy tends to be longer and literary fiction can be any length as far as I can tell. If you know what publisher and imprint you're looking to target, see if you can find out what their submission guidelines are. But yep, good rule of thumb is 100K. Congratulations on getting that far! Can't wait to read it.

Christine Wells said...

Jo, thanks so much for your kind words about my books. This is actually the first time I've had an idea 'stolen'. Undoubtedly my reaction was out of proportion.LOL But I was getting ready to pitch it when I saw the ad.

And yes, the hunter/gatherer caveman thing makes a lot of sense. I sometimes resent that sports are such sacred cows. I mean what if women insisted that the world stop for a fashion show? I'm just sayin'.

Christine Wells said...

LOL Minna, I love the way my mother does directions--its right at x street then second left at y street. She writes it out like that and I can follow it easily. Much better than a map, which I can never keep in my head.

Christine Wells said...

Keira, but we're crazy in a good way;) I just thought I'd demonstrate why it's often so hard for writers to explain where ideas come from. I'm sure there were a million other influences I'm not even conscious of but that was the general gist.

Christine Wells said...

Too true, catslady. LOL Only writers are crazy in a different way.

Christine Wells said...

Helen, what lovely grandchildren. Yes you do need an update!

Nancy said...

Christine--so sorry about the seredipity pre-empt. I know you'll have something else fabulous, though!

Ekyssa, congrats on the bird.

I tend to agree with Cassondra that ideas float around in the ether. When I have one that makes my brain fizz and my breath catch, I keep it close until I've got a good bit written. Someone else might snag it out of the ether, and I can't do anything about that--but I'm not going to wave it in front of anyone, just in case it tunes them in to that wavelength.

I think all the bandita time in SF must have ramped up my brain cells. I hadn't been on the plane home for long before I needed to pull out my yellow pad. I finally just kept it on my lap, and I got numerous ideas for books in progress as well as ideas for 3 new books. I wrote them down in the order they came to me. Once I get out my subs, I'll go back, put the ideas in some kind of order, and create files.

A lot of my ideas come from asking "what if?" after reading newpaper or magazine articles or watchinig TV.

Susan, I worked at the radio station in college, which means I know how to hook equipment to the board (or I did, with what we used then) and to other pieces of equipment. I even had a 3rd Class Radio Operator license, which I understand the FCC no longer gives. The dh, OTOH, worked as a cook in a day care center and then in his college kitchen. As he puts it, "there are no recipes to serve 80; you have to learn what goes with what." So if something plugs in and whirs in any room but the kitchen, it's my responsibility. In the kitchen, it's his. :-)

p226, glad you recovered your opus. That's a scary moment. I'd gotten slack about backups until the electrical storm fried our phones and killed the surge strip (not the computer, though, thank goodness!). Now I'm very friendly with my thumb drive.

Margay said...

Oh, believe me, whether it's my own or someone else's, I always make time for books!

Christine Wells said...

Pat, your interaction with dh seem very familiar. I really wish I could follow a thought to its conclusion but I so often get derailed by pressing needs of others, it rarely happens any more. I think it's funny the way logic is always prized over this more lateral thought process, though. Households everywhere would fall apart if the primary caregiver could only do one thing at a time.

Christine Wells said...

Terry, it's a fascinating subject, isn't it? I'll keep an eye out for that workshop when I order the tapes.

Nancy said...

Christine, I get ideas in the shower, too. In fact, when I feel as if I've written myself into a corner, the solution usually comes to me in the shower.

Helen, what cute grandchildren!

Terry, glad you're back to play. I enjoyed having lunch with you in San Fran.

Louisa, the Regency opera book sounds like great fun. I know what you mean about inspiration from travel. My 2006 GH finalist book, The Marriage Truce, was inspired by a trip a visit to a ruined castle in England--Donnington, overlooking the Berkshire Downs. I mainly come up with straight historical ideas on such occasions. At least, so far.

Christine Wells said...

Nancy, so often it kills the excitement of a story idea if you explain it to people, quite apart from the desire to keep it close. I often find verbal explanations of my work leave people uninspired until they read the pages. Thank goodness I never did much pitching:)

Wow, it must have been fun to work at a radio station. I love that you and your dh have a bit of a role reversal there.

Suzanne Welsh said...

What a great topic, Christine! And congrats Ely on the GR snag!

My ideas pop into my head at the oddest times. I have a Regency historical I'm playing with right now, and the idea popped into my head after watching the entire Richard Sharpe series on BBC America.

The Erotica? Well that came after reading several, one by my friend Jo Carlisle. I wondered...what exactly would I write if I wanted to write one of these? I don't do paranormal, so historical seemed to fit my style better. And then I plotted out the whole thing, (first time ever ahead of the book), because I wanted to know I could write one with equal parts sex and story, since I didn't want to just write one with sex thrown on the pages and no substance. Once I knew it would hold together on the page, I started typing away!

Terry Odell said...

P226 - I know the feeling about hard drive near-disasters. I didn't care about anything else except recovering my WIP, and that included work stuff and household records. My "new" backup (in addition to an external mega-memory hard drive) is to email each day's work to my daughter in Ireland. The odds of us both having either a crash or a fire at the same time are slim enough. Plus the flash drive, of course.

I change the name of my doc every day, as soon as I start writing, (assuming I write, which I've been lax about while on vacation) so I can go back and find detours. So, I start with "Fozzie's book_June.01" and the next day it's "Fozzie's book_June.02", etc, etc.

limecello said...

Fun post, Christine! Haha, Elyssa - that first comment brought me back to that scene in "Finding Nemo" ith all the sea gulls. As for thought processes... I think men and women think VERY differently. Women can go from A-G in one jump and continue the conversation easily, but if a woman tries that with a man, he'll get stuck on where B-F went. :P

Caren Crane said...

Elyssa, congrats on the GR!!

Christine, I believe women "synthesize" ideas as you pointed out. Men tend to hammer along in a more or less linear fashion. When they have a flash of brilliance, it really is an occasion! I think women have flashes of brilliance CONSTANTLY. Like this:

*Little Susie is eating breakfast and allows her multi-colored cereal to turn into a multi-colored bowl of slimy glop.

*Mom has to carry bowl of slimy glop to sink for disposal and clean-up.

*Mom gets multi-colored glop on her clean white shirt (naturally).

*Mom discovers there is no stain remover in the house, so she goes on the internet to see what sort of "home remedy" she can find

*Mom (a writer) finds a site with ideas for natural solvents, herbal remedies and...love potions?

*Mom ignores suspicious crashes coming from den and follows rabbit trail of love potions across the internet

*The Orkin man knocks on the door, there to do the monthly spraying for insects in the house

*Mom thinks, "Now what if a modern-day witch posed as a pest control worker and sprayed a guy's place with a high-powered love potion?"

Women do that stuff ALL THE TIME. It's all about the rabbit trails for me. I've gotten some GREAT ideas that I'm pretty sure I can never use following rabbit trails. *sigh* I wish some ideas I COULD use would show up more often.

Caren Crane said...

Tiffany, I don't believe ALL women read romance just for the heros. Gosh, I hope they don't because I write VERY heroine-centered books. I like men and all, but women are SO much more interesting! *g*

Caren Crane said...

Deb, I usually only have very vivid dreams when I am doing lots of yoga and am, as a result, VERY open to new ideas. Write those bad boys down! You never know where they might lead you...

Caren Crane said...

Minna, I can SO relate. My husband can't give me directions anywhere. He's all about "turn where the Citgo station is" and I'm thinking, "Where is there a Citgo? Can't you just give me a street name?" But he doesn't notice street names, only landmarks, whereas I only notice street signs, not businesses or trees or whatever. Frustrating!

Christine Wells said...

Suz, I can definitely see why you found the Sharpe series inspiring. Snork! Sean Bean does fill out a uniform quite nicely, doesn't he?

Good on you for going outside your comfort zone a little with the historical erotica! I think you've got the right idea, insisting on substance.

Christine Wells said...

Great ideas for backup, Terry. I used to email mine to a google account and I should still do that. I have a thumb drive but of course when I'm in the house, so are both my laptop and the thumb drive so it's not failsafe.

Christine Wells said...

Limecello, you're so right. B-F is always largely irrelevant, yet the men get hung up on the detail;)

Christine Wells said...

PoshT, that was simply masterly. And what a great idea for a story! Are you writing it because yanno, if not, someone might STEAL it! I'm just sayin'.

Actually, I should have confined my comments to historical romance. Obviously a lot of women's fiction and contemporary and YA romance will be heroine-centric.

Yoga gives good dreams, huh? I should try it. I think I'd like yoga. I used to be quite flexible back in the day. When I could see my toes.

Oh, yes I get the landmark thing too with my dh. He also thinks that I should know north from south when I'm driving. Sheesh!

Nathalie said...

I usually get inspired by the people near to me and the great ones that passed before... but that is for medecine!

Congrats on the new release! Can't wait to read it :-)

Christine Wells said...

Oops, Nathalie, almost missed you. Thanks for commenting! I hope you enjoy The Dangerous Duke.

kimmyl said...

Christine, I do believe women think differently than men. To me women are constantly working harder to make things work. The relationship, keeping up with the kids,home while the men are always right about everything no matter what.

peggy said...

my thoughs soaking in a hot bath.
i think men and women do think
differenty.