Friday, April 26, 2013

Where do authors get their ideas?

First things first!  The winners of Return to Shirley Plantation from last week are:
Callie and Betz!  Callie also won the other goodies too! Congratulations ladies and thank you so much for dropping by!

Secondly, just a bit of writing news. Abandoned Memories (Book 3 in my Escape to Paradise Trilogy) is due to
Artist Jon Paul
my publisher May 1st!! YIKES!!  So I've locked myself in my captain's cabin for days on end, without food or drink (not really. I'm not that crazy.. besides I love to eat!) furiously trying to finish it.  I'm a very punctual person so cutting it this close is unusual and stressful for me. Right now, it looks like I might make it. We shall see!!  There's no cover for this book yet, and there probably won't be one until the end of the year, but I found this online and thought it was a nice fit!

I often get asked where do I get my ideas for stories and do I ever run out of ideas? Great questions. I actually had to sit and think about it for awhile by going through all my books and remembering where the idea came from.  I get ideas from so many sources and often they are a combination of the ones below:

Personal Interest
My pirate series grew out of a personal interest and love of pirates, but it was also rekindled by the very first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, along with some great pirate books I was reading at the time. But the actual story I must give the credit to God for. I had never written a complete book before and had no idea what I was doing. In fact, I didn't plot the story at all. I just started writing it and let the characters take over.

Moral Lesson
One of the biggest problems I've struggled with over the years is worry and fear. I come from a long line of worry worts and anxious people, but I've learned with God's help to conquer these fears, at least most of the time. So, I wanted to write a story about a young girl plagued with the same weaknesses and then thrust her into the most harrowing situation possible with not only her life on the line but also someone she loves. Through her story, I wanted to show how God intervenes, allays her fears, and makes all things work out in the end.  Hence, The Falcon and the Sparrow came into being

Alot of ideas come to me while I'm on my daily walk. There's something about getting outside and being active that jars my creativity. Try it sometime if you're stuck creatively. The Charles Towne Belles series formed in my mind during one such walk. The idea actually started with a parable in the Bible about the seeds and the sower. I was pondering it and talking to God and an idea came to me about creating a series around that Scripture with the heroine in each book representing one of the seeds in that parable.

Fascinating History
When I'm dong research, I'll often come across history that I never knew about or some happening in the past that intrigues me. One day I ran into the War of 1812 and started reading about it. I was blown away by the stories, especially those that happened around Baltimore. The miracles of these stories couldn't be explained by anything but God's intervention!  And that got me thinking about story lines and characters I could center around these historic events. And then came my Surrender to Destiny series.  

One of my favorite cities in the United States is Charleston, South Carolina. I spent a week there once doing research and I fell in love. Since then my heart tends to wander there when I'm trying to come up with a new story. I know the history pretty well, so all I needed to do was choose a time period when lots of exciting things were happening and then generate a story around it. Hence Veil of Pearls was formed.

A Cause you wish to address
This came into play in the creation of Veil of Pearls, along with the location. I've always been
abhorred by slavery and prejudice. I hate it wherever I see it and I know it displeases God. So, after I chose Charleston as the location of the story and 1811 as the date, I asked myself: What would happen if a spoiled plantation owner's son fell in love (unknowingly) with a black slave who didn't look like a black slave. You see the possibilities? 

TV Show
I love a good TV show. I suppose it's the author in me because I'm fascinating with story and characters. One of my all-time favorite shows is LOST. The characters were phenomenal, the story wild and adventurous and the supernatural element was great.  I wondered how I could mimic the feeling of the show in a new book series that had the same elements: stranded characters, all with a
secret past, fighting the elements and each other while some supernatural force is trying to destroy them.  Hence, my new series, Escape to Paradise was born.

All my ideas have come from a combination of the above. But there are plenty of other sources for ideas, depending on the type of book you're writing. Current events, Movies, Relationships, Friends, Other books, etc.  Ideas are all around you. You just have to know what you want to get across to the world. What do you want to say that you want people to know? What is burning on your heart to be told?  Then decide how best to get that across, in what location, time period, and with what characters?  With God's help you'll be amazed what you can come up with!


  1. Wow. Even after you explain it, I am still amazed at your writing. Getting ideas for books is one thing, but actually turning those ideas into a novel is another. My hats off to you, MaryLu, God has truly given you a gift.
    Hugs and God bless.

  2. Fri Apr 26th,
    "Morning, MaryLu."
    First off -- "Congratulations to -- Callie, and, Betz" !!! Way to go gals.
    And, before I comment on your "story ideas" ... let me just say, that the cover you might possibly be considering for "Abandoned Memories" -- I absolutely love it !!! No kidding !!! What a dreamy and beautiful scene, the various shades of blue are outstanding, the dress and the ship -- gorgeous !
    How -- neat, interesting and cool to read how all of your story ideas came about ... I thoroughly enjoyed that, and what brought each novel to light.
    Especially interesting was your logic behind the "Charles Towne Belle" series, and each heroine representing one of the 'seeds of the sower' parable.
    Well, MaryLu ... just keep that creative brain of yours flowing ... your books never cease to amaze !!!
    Also, thrilled for you that you will make your May 1st deadline.
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda

  3. Thanks for this little peak inside your head, MaryLu! I hope you and all your readers have a wonderful weekend!

  4. First of all, I agree with Brenda about the cover. And I am so happy for you that you'll hopefully be making your deadline! Actually just thought and prayed about that today <3

    I LOVE how all your story ideas came about! The one I am writing sort of just happened and, same as your first one, is just kind of happening as I go. Not sure how it's going to end! The trouble is trying to come up with a moral lesson for it. I don't want to write a book that has no point. Which is what I love about yours, MaryLu! They are so exciting and suspenseful, AND tell a great story about God's love :)

  5. MaryLu,
    This was such an interesting post! Thank you for sharing where some of your ideas have come from. I'm looking into writing a book this summer and I'm trying to get the whole idea for it put together and reading this has given me a bit of inspiration. I'm excited to see where my writing adventure takes me.
    As for your writing, please keep writing! I've enjoyed each of your books and look forward to reading more from you. Praying you will make your deadline on Abandoned Memories!
    - Leah

  6. Thanks ladies!! Yes, I love the book cover too.. it would fit nearly perfectly for the story except the dress needs to be simpler..
    Anyway, glad my crazy way of coming up with stories helped you, entertained you...inspired you!

    Sarah, I didn't know the theme or moral of my first book until I was at least half way through, so your theme may spring forth soon!

    Leah, so glad you were inspired by my post, and thank you for your kind words. It's quite an adventure.. writing a novel! I pray your story really comes together and you have fun while you're writing it. I've found that my best books have been when I've had fun writing them. :-)

  7. Cap'n - thanks for sharing! It is very interesting to see where books come from. At this time in my life, I have enough going on without thinking about possibly writing even one story. I rather think a journal might be a good idea at times, though...:) My life would probably make a very interesting

  8. Great post, ML! It is wonderful how God has given you inspiration from many sources!! Blessings!

  9. Thanks for sharing! I usually get ideas from TV shows or books I've read. I have no idea why about the TV shows when most of them are predictable, but I get them nonetheless. My sister used to say I would rewrite stories I read. "If you want to know what the main book is about, read her stories," she said once to our parents, who chuckled. I would create my own ending and events happening to the characters, whose names I would change since I usually didn't like the names the authors picked. That was back when I was very little, though. I guess fan fiction is usually a precursor to other story ideas.

  10. I have been wanting to ask you how do you come up with your ideas and when do you get the time to write but this answers it completely. Right now I'm working on my own book and hope to become a fabulous writer like you. There is nothing better to read than an adventurous, pirate book combined with the power of Jesus Christ. I enjoy reading your works. God has truly blessed you. Thank you for spreading the Word! God Bless!

    1. Thank you so much! I pray many blessings on your writing and your book. :-)