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Where do writers get their ideas?

Ever wonder where the plot idea comes from?

In my last correspondence, I asked what you wanted to see more of in these bi-monthly emails. Based on the response, the life of an author intrigues you. I’ll share my process and, if different, how other writers work.

How about we start with my most recent release, The Job. The job is to target a person, ruin their reputation and take away all their assets and everything they love and hold dear. In my book, that mark is Andrew Donovan. Dr. Leigh Harris, his wife, becomes a target as she’s the only true asset he loves. While she races to bring her groundbreaking cancer treatment to market, someone is trying to kill her.

The original idea was a diva (movie star, singer, daughter of a prince, etc.) and her bodyguard. They hired him to protect her when death threats get too close to home. The only problem, the person hired is the one threatening her life. Her prissy attitude makes it difficult for him to be patient. It’s not until he meets her shy twin sister, he has second thoughts. A bit of a suspenseful romance and very different from The Job.

The sequel, The Heir, is a work in progress. When I read the last chapter of The Job, the story flows right into what happens next. I’ll create a very rough outline as a few things must happen. As for the rest of it, the characters decide their lines as they’re speaking them. Some authors write very detailed outlines, rarely veering off course. Those we call ‘plotters.’ The rest of us are ‘pantsers,’ flying by the seat of our pants. I like to call myself a ‘plantsters’ as I fall somewhere in the middle, although I probably lean more to a pantser.

I’m constantly adding to my list of book ideas. I could read an article or watch the news, and an idea pops into my head. In Deja Vu, book 2 of my Unbroken Series, Amber suffers a traumatic attack. I didn’t plan this. I’d been listening to the Weinstein story on the news and the attacks on the women he abused. I heard smart, educated people bashing the victims. They wanted it, or they would have been able to stop him. They wore short skirts—they deserved it.

I struggled and clawed my way to the top in the corporate world in the 1990s. I saw many women jump ahead because of the extras they offered. I also had many higher-ups expect the same from me. I luckily was never in a position I couldn’t get myself out of; however, I could see how an intelligent, career-minded woman could. I was taking one of my long bubble baths when the idea hit me. I was so angry listening to the bashing of these women, Amber’s attack became imminent. Her thirst for the story that could make her career was so strong, she found herself in a situation she couldn’t escape. The ego of her attacker came from those remarks that made me see red.

Bad things happen to good people. It’s how they deal with it that makes all the difference. Amber works her way through the emotional side of her attack and helps others. She even goes as far as trying to educate young men at the college level, making a difference before they get out into the world. She finds a positive in an otherwise horrible experience.

My current project, The Missing Piece, many of you know, came as a fluke. I wanted to try dictation, and at lunch discussing this with my husband, I had a vision of a woman running in the woods, looking over her shoulder as her attacker pursues her. Who’s chasing her and why? Did he hold her captive for a while? If so, what was his reasoning? Did he know her—stalk her—or a random kidnapping? Was she alone? What’s her motivation to get away and survive? Does she? Or does he catch her? These questions pop up and turn my characters in different directions. What if? I ask that a lot. The most intriguing answer is the one I use.

My first draft is the most fun for me. It’s when the story creates itself. Although my first edit run can be tedious, many of my twists and turns show up here. What if I did this instead? Oh! I bet if I changed this, I could lead readers to believe this?

This happened during The Job. I made one significant change that caused me to rewrite several parts, that alteration creating more mystery and intrigue in the long run.

DID YOU KNOW: It takes eight to ten hours to read an 85-90k word book for the average reader? How long do you think it takes to get that same book ready for publication?

The first draft takes about sixty hours to write (1,400-1,500 words per hour). I know some quick typists can spit out eighty words per minute. We writers are anal and usually go back and read a few lines here and there to ensure we’ve got the proper flow. That slows us down. I typically stretch these sixty hours out between two to three weeks, as we have other responsibilities to manage, such as marketing and social media presence.

The first editing round is the longest. Mine typically takes two to three weeks.

The second round of editing is quicker. I send my book to my e-reader and sit in my reading place, highlighting anything that needs attention. It’s amazing how much I find when I switch my writer cap with my reader one. This round takes about a week.

My third editing round takes place in two editing software programs. I run the manuscript through one and then the other. Each one takes about three to four days, so another week here.

I then send my book out to my beta readers. I give them three to four weeks to make comments and get their opinions. I take a few days to make changes based on their feedback.

Now my editor gets it for her first, extensive round of line editing. This part takes two to three weeks.

I get it back and go over her suggestions and corrections. I don’t always agree with everything. I’m picky about my dialogue. It may not be proper English, but it’s the way my character speaks and projects themselves. The difference is obvious between a doctor talking to her peers and chatting with her family. While I give some background, I feel you learn a lot about my characters interacting.

I then send it back for the final copyediting/proofreading. This can take one to two weeks. Formatting can take another week, as I have four different formats to create. The cover and back blurb should happen once my editor gets it the first time so that rarely slows me down.

A book to go from start to publishing takes me anywhere from thirteen to eighteen weeks. That’s only if only obligations and responsibilities don’t take up my time. I could not work on The Missing Piece for four weeks now because of this. I’m so eager to get back to it, I’m taking it on vacation with me. Hubby will read; I’ll work on finishing my first round of edits.

If you haven’t already, I invite you to join us in my Facebook Reader’s Group. We’re a fun group, posting comical memes, updating progress, and posting book reviews. I invite authors from time to time to stop in as well and introduce themselves and give away free books and other goodies. It’s a private group, so you’re safe within our confines. Click below to join:


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