Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Writer's Story Basket

I'm often asked: "How do you get your novel ideas?"

I've never used story prompts, that's just me. I never needed them, the stories just keep coming. Many of our stories reside within in, from our experiences. Here's my brief life bio, and yes, it's all about me:
  • A small town girl, I grew up in north central Washington State, just across the Columbia River from the Colville Reservation. This is where Chief Joseph "retired" and they named a major dam after him. Lots of rodeos--real ones, Native American influences. North central WA State is basically orchards, fruit, sand and sage. That sand and sage is important, because when I read a western setting, if that scent and color isn't there, phooey. I've dug arrowheads from the sand along the river and my friends and I rode our bicycles everywhere.
  • I've always been a heavy reader, starting pretty early I hear. Dad was a storyteller, loved to read pulp westerns to me and maybe I got some of that. No nice little fairy tales for this little kid.
  • I'm of German descent, both parents and 2 older siblings speaking a language I could never manage. French seemed easier and I've lost both. The Schwartzes own Mill Haven's (The Basket Maker's Wife's town) Quilt Shop.
  • Mom was a great cook and canned as most did living in the rural area. And like others, we had a huge garden. She played the organ and there was lots of dancing. I still love to dance, especially tangos/rumbas/waltzes and rock & roll. With my own bow and arrows, I wasn't up to Hunger Games, but enjoyed it and bowling/athletics.
  • Mom is like a bank of stories. She was an artist with a crochet hook. I've just learned a little--enough to use in a story.
  • Mountains play a huge part, some of my relatives mountain hunters, fishermen in the area. Great resources when writing about those topics.
  • To my memory, the only Baskets in our home were plastic laundry baskets. The Basket Maker's Wife would have been shocked. I love handcrafted baskets of this Ozarks area where I live now. I'll never make one, but I appreciate them.
  • Moving on, I went to college, a small town girl in an overwhelming large student base. Not a clue.
  • Got married, had children, continued my love of painting and took up a new love--writing. By that time, I'd canned, baked, etc. too. And raised calves, herded a bull back into a pasture, and worked in the small orchard. So, a farm wife who sewed all my daughters' and my clothing, doll clothes, husband shirts, etc. Lots of sewing. In The Basket Maker's Wife, Lynn learns how to sew and patch to start her own business and to help Nora.
  • To add to income, I worked in offices.
  • Marriage and raising my own children added to my child-characters believability. Writers want believability. I began to write heavily and wrote for major publishers: Berkley, Dell, HarperCollins and Harlequin. Most of the time, it was for 2 publishers at the same time--that and a family is not easy. Call it prioritizing and cutting Fat-Time.
  • Children grown, I started another love, driving cross county to research my novel sites. Very important that. Went to buffalo runs, forts, fur traders and gold miner trails, threw tomahawks at rendezvous. Photography came with that. Lots of stories in pictures. (I wish I'd taken a picture of that old wooden windmill in Kansas. Lots of stories in that one.)
Right there, in the above, are a whole bunch of stories. If you've read my novels, you'll find that the range is from romantic suspense, to emotional resolve, to humor and more. "Author Branding" is successful--that is: stick with the same old. I haven't be able to stick with any one subgenre, though it's usually romance. I believe in romance, so there's another element. :)

Basket Maker’s Wife
NOW 4.99
>>“Couldn’t put it down.” In the small Ozarks town of Mill Haven, 42 year-old Nora is suddenly pregnant and hit with unwanted insights. Shadowed by her dark past, Nora feels undeserving and is unprepared for the sweetness of love and the man who wants to marry her. She has two grown sons and an older one, the baby she gave away. Where is he?<<

You might want to list your background to mine for stories--but I'm pretty sure they'll stream right out of you. Everyone has at least one story in them and most writers have a basket full. :)

The Egg Basket (2) is coming soon--I hope. I'm writing the 3rd of the series now. 

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