I’ve Got an Idea – Now What?

Today’s guest blogger is John Lindermuth, author of sixteen novels, including eight in the Sticks Hetrick series.  John is a retired newspaper editor who now serves as librarian for the county historical society, assisting patrons with genealogy and research. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and past vice-president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.  Here’s his take on writing a book.

One of the most common questions a writer hears is, “Where do you get your ideas?” It’s an easy one to answer–ideas are all around us.

You discover them in your reading, in what you hear (writers are notorious eavesdroppers), in what you see, and so many other places. But an idea isn’t a story. An idea is simply the germ of a story. It’s what starts you asking, “what if…”

The next step in the process is creating character(s), a plot and a story location. There’s been much debate over which is more important–character or plot. In my opinion, they’re of equal importance. You can’t have one without the other.

Speaking of the former, you want your main characters to have substance and not be paper cutouts. Readers relate to a realistically portrayed character.

So, how do you imbue them with “life?” You give them a personality. You build them from the ground up, with a past and present life, distinguishing characteristics–personality, in other words. But, by no means, do you just dump a block of description and narrative and say this is Joe Smith. You introduce the character bit by bit as you build your story, introducing your character gradually to the reader in the same manner as we learn about people we meet in real life. You don’t learn the entire life history of a person you’ve met in one encounter. Why should it be any different in fiction?

Now, as to plot, this is how it all plays out together. You introduce the crime or crimes, the detective, the investigation, discovery of motive and, eventually, the identity of the culprit. Most thrillers identity the criminal at the outset. In a mystery, I feel that takes the fun out of the story. Most mystery readers like to try and determine the criminal before it’s disclosed by the writer. Traditionally, mysteries started as this type of puzzle, providing clues throughout the narrative to lead the reader to the conclusion. Being the sneaky people we are, writers like to throw in red herrings (misleading clues) to throw readers off the track and add subplots to add more sauce to the story.

This is how an idea becomes a story.

And here is John’s latest Sticks Hetrick novel, In Silence Sealed.

Lydia, daughter of Swatara Creek Police Chief Aaron Brubaker, is accused of murdering her boyfriend Jason Russell, handsome but feckless stepson of  Clay Stoneroad, a famous writer who recently moved to a farm outside town.

Daniel ‘Sticks’ Hetrick, now a county detective, is determined to prove Lydia’s innocence. His job is made more difficult when the weapon her father insisted she carry is found missing.

Mysteries surround the Stoneroad family. Vickie Walker, a strange young woman also recently arrived in town, insists Nan Calder, the writer’s secretary, is her sister, a claim Calder denies. Then Diana Wozniak, reporter for a sleazy tabloid, is the victim of a hit-and-run accident and police learn she attempted to blackmail the writer.

The sudden disappearance of Lydia and Vickie puts Hetrick and his friends in a desperate race against time to find them, unravel secrets and apprehend the real killer.

John’s website is at http://www.jrlindermuth.net

And leave a comment.  Where do your ideas come from?  Do you start with character or plot?  We’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

Mystery from Down Under

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Today, Peter Mulraney from Adelaide, South Australia, tell us about some of his writing.  In addition to authoring a series of novellas, Peter is a modern-day mystic.  He intends for his books to be read in one sitting, perhaps two hours.  … Continue reading

Real Life Spawns a Book

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Author Frankie Capers has four children, ten grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren.  It’s probably the great grandchildren that provide her with many of her stories. Frankie, besides poetry, writes children’s Story-Coloring books. The child can color the story as the story … Continue reading

Helping a Stranger

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I received this from an Austrailian author, Kitty Boyes.  I don’t often post these, but I thought this raised a question sufficiently interesting that I would put it up.  I would love to hear if any of you have experienced … Continue reading

Bloom Where You Are Planted

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Our guest today is Lynn Hobbs. She is an award-winning authorof inspirational Christian fiction and biographies.  Each book in her first series, Running Forward, a powerful faith and family saga, won first place for Religious fiction in the Texas Association … Continue reading

The Cost of Survival

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Today, we’re going to look at a new science fiction thriller by author J.L. Stowers. Behind The Cost of Survival The Cost of Survival is a science fiction thriller exploring the dark side of human nature from a world on … Continue reading

Attacked!

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Today’s guest is Ada Brownell, author of six books and hundreds of stories and articles. When she sat down to write her latest book, The Peach Blossom Rancher, she drew from her experiences growing up in Colorado’s Peach Country near Grand Junction, picking peaches … Continue reading

An Interview with Juan Grande

Interview with Juan Grande

Jim: Today, I’m interviewing Juan Grande. He lives in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and as I understand it, he was a big help to Crystal Moore in A Silver Medallion. How are you today, Mr. Grande?Cover - A Silver Medallion

Juan: I am fine, gracias. I not know where “Grande” come from. Please call me Juan.

Jim: Okay, Juan. Of course, Juan Grande translates to Big John. You must admit, you are a stout person.

Juan: Please forgive my English. I not know “stout.” My wife call me solid.

Jim: Okay. That works for me. How did you get to know Crystal?

Juan: My amigo Bull O’Malley call me . Ask I look after her. Help her if possible.

Jim:   Did he tell you what help she might need?

Juan: He say she want rescue two niñas, ah, girls, from bad man in San Sebastian.

Jim: Just how bad was this man in San Sebastian?

Juan: Muy bad. Kill people. Steal. Lie. I think drugs.

Jim: Kills people? Who is this man? What is his name?

Juan: He is called Josè Rodriquez de Allende.

Jim: Can’t the police arrest him, lock him up?

Juan: He is rich, powerful. Many men work for him. Maybe police also. He own police. We no get help from police.

Jim: That’s sounds like a big order. How did you go about it? And were you successful?

Juan: I no can tell you. Author tell me no give away plot.

Jim: It sounds dangerous. Did Crystal work with you? Did she help any, or did she just come down and ask you and your men to do it?

Juan: I ask her stay in Puerto Vallarta. Me and my men rescue girls. But she say no. She must help. She no can ask me do it and not help. I beg her stay in Puerto Vallarta. But she no let us go and not she go.

Jim: Did she actually do anything to help?

Juan: Si. Yes. She muy importante. She take girls away.

Jim: Took them away? How did she do that?

Juan: I no can tell you. Author tell me no give away plot.

Jim: Juan, your English is pretty good. Where did you learn it?

Juan: Mi esposa, ah, wife, take university in Texas. She speak good English. I learn some.

Jim: How do you know Mark?

Juan: Bull have home in Vallarta. I meet him long time back. He ride the bulls. He ride one time here. We have much memories.

Jim: Juan, it has been a pleasure talking with you. And I’m anxious to find out if you got the young girls free, and how you – and Crystal – accomplished it if you did. Thank you for your time, and stay safe from Josè Rodriquez de Allende.

Readers, as I understand it, Juan Grande was instrumental in the rescue of the girls. And while he wouldn’t say if they succeeded of not, I believe they were successful. Otherwise, Juan Grande might not be here today. But, I’m getting on the Internet right now to get a copy of A Silver Medallion.   Would you like to join me?

Kindle:  http://amzn.to/1WxoEaF

90 secondTrailer:   https://animoto.com/play/key7NqR0qbmN1JVWrCe8RA#

 

 

The Reluctant Heroine

There’s been many pieces written on the amateur sleuth. Quite often, the amateur is pulled into the case and reluctantly takes it on. In my Crystal Moore Suspense Series, Crystal admits the most dangerous thing she ever did was say “no” to a man who never heard the word. And in that incident, she was pulled into the situation against her will. But, she had the will to extract herself, even if at a great cost. However, this is not the main thrust of the book. In fact, this is revealed only when she tells her sidekick about the incident two years later.

As unadventurous as Crystal sees herself, in both of the first two books it is Crystal who pushes herself into harm’s way. a-ton-of-gold-cover-9-1-16

For the main plot line of A Ton of Gold, Crystal jumps into the fray. She gets in the middle of things when she believes someone is trying to kill her grandmother, her only remaining family and the woman who raised her.

My latest book is A Silver Medallion, June 2016. Here, Crystal decides to undertake a dangerous mission to rescue two young girls from a drug lord in the jungles of Mexico. Everyone tries to talk her out of it. Her grandmother, Eula, “who is tough enough to charge hell with a bucket of water”(description of Eula courtesy of a Caleb Pirtle review) tells her it’s a bad idea. Brandi, Crystal’s street-wise sidekick, says she can tell a dumb idea when she smells one. And Crystal’s boss, a former bull rider, tells her it is too dangerous. Lucita, the mother of the two girls is not certain she wants Crystal to go, afraid a mistake might mean harm for the children.

Even Crystal is reluctant. Several times, she convinces herself not to go. But her conscience keeps pulling her back. She is plagues with nightmares about the two young girls and their mother, slaves for the rest of their lives. She tries to think of some other approach. But the circumstances eliminate all of them. Finally, she is convinced if she ever wants to sleep again, or have a normal life, she must go and at least try.

Fortunately, she gets hooked up with mysterious Juan Grande. But if she is successful, she will have two ruthless and powerful men, one in Texas and one in Mexico, who now want her dead.

In A Silver Medallion, as with A Ton of Gold, Crystal enters into the dangerous situations willingly, yet fearfully. She has the unusual combination of reluctance and eagerness. It makes for an interesting and engaging character. She is the kind of character that adds to the joy of writing.

For less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks, or a Blizzard at the Dairy Queen, you can get a digital copy of A Silver Medallion. And as one reviewer on Amazon said, “Once I began reading it, putting it down became the challenge.”

Or from the BookLife Prize in Fiction, Critic’s Report: “reads like a gold-medal thriller from page one.”

A Silver Medallion on Kindle at: http://amzn.to/1WxoEaF

A Silver Medallion in paperback at: http://amzn.to/28LIdWs

Cover - A Silver MedallionETWG Contest Award -ASM