Friday, March 27, 2020

Writing Through Hard Times - Ideas

This week I have been urging my fellow writers to make use of our long days indoors to get some writing done.  As a result, I started looking through some of my old writing classes and tips.  I realized they  might be useful for writers who are starting out, getting back in the groove or looking for help.  Here are some thoughts on getting your ideas together if you want to start writing something.

When I was working in various television newsrooms,  we usually began every morning with a pitch session. In some places only the managers met, but in others,  everyone had to pitch a story idea. We didn’t use every idea on that day, but we would keep a list for future reference, or get someone started researching the story in case we wanted to do it later. It’s good to always have  ideas for the future and writers can do this too.

At home with your spouse or your kids, you might try a game of "Story Idea." What would make a good story?  It doesn't have to be well thought out, but try going around the dinner table and ask everyone if they were going to write a story, what would it be about?

Who would be the characters?
Why is this happening
Where would the event take place?
What might be some of the complications that might hound your hero or heroine?
What would make them act and what would they do?
Finally, what would be the ending?

You can even do this while talking on the phone. You can always toss ideas back and forth for a story at any time. You can also do it on your own and simply start writing down the plot for a story or even a character sketch for the type of character you would like to write in your next book. It doesn't even need to be a project you might do now. Store those ideas away for the future. In the newsroom we couldn't always get to every story that came up in the meetings, but often, if there was an idea we really liked, we kept it in a "futures" file we could go to when we were stumped for ideas.

You can always put it in a "research" file if it needs more research and that can be another project for a day when you find yourself with nothing to do.

What do you do with those extra story ideas you might not want to use right now? Well, for starters, don’t lose sight of them. Just as we did in our story meetings, just because you don’t make an idea your next project, you can always use it for a later book.

There are more ways than ever to keep track of your ideas, and that way you’re never at a loss for a story to work on during those dry periods or if a possibility for a submission arises.
The best way to keep track is simple:


There are lots of ways to do that and it has never been easier to keep your ideas handy.
  1. Put them in your phone or on your portable tablet or computer. I use the memo function on my I-phone to write down my ideas if I don’t have anything else around. It can be as simple as a few words (if you think you’ll remember the whole idea later). Include as much information as you need to develop it later.
  2. Email it to yourself. I do that with my phone too. There have been times when I suddenly have an idea for a scene and all I have to use is my phone. I’ll go into the email function on my phone, write up the idea and then email it to myself.  I’ve sometimes written partial scenes that way. 
  3. Keep a notebook. That’s an old low-tech solution, but one I have always recommended. I always keep a notebook with me where I can write down random ideas. Remember what I said about listening to people in the coffee shop? Well, it doesn’t do you any good to eavesdrop if you’re going to forget those ideas as soon as you get home, so if I hear an interesting tidbit of information, I write it down.
  4. Keep a file. Again, I can keep a file of ideas on my cell phone or print up a story I see online and put it into a physical file for later. Remember all those wire stories I told you I used to keep? I still have a good many of them I can refer back to when I want to look for an idea. And your file doesn’t need to be physically in a drawer like my old ones. Save the file on your computer and put your stories into an electronic file. 
I always say story  ideas are always around us. Try them, save them, use them. They can get you through some slow days!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Getting Away to a World of Romance

These days when we're stuck inside is a good time to find new authors and new genres to read. It's great to escape into a wonderful book that keeps us interested and takes us away to a new world for a time. Today we've visiting with author Anna Lores and her steamy new book, Power Trio.

Anna tells us she started writing steamy romance novels as a by product of insomnia. One night, with a nudge from her husband to write a book, she borrowed her son's laptop and then set about bringing her very own characters to life.  After a month she was surprised with a new laptop of her very own to pursue her dreams of writing sensual happily ever after books. Now she is working to fill her world with wonderful stories she and her close friends can not just talk about and gush over, but she is racing to keep up with her imagination and growing readership. While everyone else in her house is sleeping peacefully, Anna sheds her title as Supermom of Three to write sexy love stories.

She tells us sleeping might still be a battle she hasn't conquered, but armed with her B. A. in English Literature and all the hot men in her mind calling for their very own story, she is staying busy during those midnight hours writing her next international bestselling spicy romance.

One. Two. Three men. Yes. Yes. Yes…

At the top of her game as a prestigious attorney, Evangeline Zanipolo walked away from it  all. Despite an obvious lack of skill, she tries her hand as a massage therapist. But professional success is not her goal. All she wants is love, marriage, and babies with the two men she's engaged to marry. Then both men dump her, and she's left questioning her life's decisions. Just when she's ready to throw in the towel and try a traditional relationship, three forever-bachelors walk into her life prepared to give her everything she's ever dreamed of...if they can iron out all the kinks.

Sexy businessman Brice Loffiten has always kept his lovers at arm's length, but Evangeline has snuck past his barriers and secured her spot inside his heart. He wants her all to himself, but her insatiable desires have him doubting he'll be enough.

Power attorney, Dylan Russo is back in town and ready to assert control—in the bedroom. But Evangeline might not be ready to surrender to his type of dominance.

Champion Jerry Wynn needs to be number one in a relationship. With him at the helm, the four could conquer anything. But can the other men in Evangeline's life accept him as the head of the household?

Sounds like a great read for these days we're having to stay inside. Here are the buy links:

Amazon US :

Amazon UK:

Barnes and Noble:

Thank you, Anna, for introducing your new book!  Here is the information if you would like to learn more about her and her books. 

Publisher page:

Friday, March 13, 2020

Writing Out the Storm

These are tough times for many people. So much is happening around us that we can't control and that we don't want to consider having to deal with.  No, we can't control so many things around us, it's true. But as writers we are possessed with a wonderful tool we can put to use if our minds get troubled.  What am I talking about?  I'm talking about those magical worlds we constantly create in our heads all the time.

My prescription for dealing with the current crisis (other than taking care of yourself and those around you personally)  is escape.

Escape with writing!  Write out your fears, write out a happy ending, come up with characters you can love or give love to and write out villains you want to seee destroyed. A lot of our fear may live in our heads or we see around us.  This week I should have been in San Diego for a writing conference, but even before things turned very chaotic, I decided as an older, wiser writer, it would not be in my particular best health interest to go.  I cancelled and yesterday, after the conference started, the entire event got cancelled by the County of San Diego.

But for the past week, every day I have been consoling myself by escaping to a totally different world than one where I have to worry about the daily health crisis.  I've been working on a story and that is the prescription I offer to other writers.

Start a new book if you aren't working on one now. Create that world where YOU get to make the choices for your characters so you don't feel so helpless when you return from there.  Every day I get to escape to a small town in southern Colorado where my heroine is facing grief over her grandfather's death, but she is also facing the hope of love with an old boyfriend.  This world can be as peaceful or as dramatic as I want it to be. I get to be in control.

This morning someone on Twitter mentioned that for the first time in her career as a news reporter, everyone in the shop would be covering health and Coronavirus stories.  It made me think back to if that ever happened to me in 35 years of being a journalist. And yes, it did--several times.

The day after Mt. St. Helens exploded, television viewers got only straight coverage of what was happening in the region because life had changed for so many people and as a news producer I was in early and worked late.  That is the way of life of a journalist when big things or threats happen.

The day the Space Shuttle exploded while I sat on the phone with my sister, I immediately hung up and went to work in my news department, because I knew things would be chaotic and if we put on a newscast it would be all about the event. But we would be working all day and probably into the night.

During the Los Angeles Riots we were wrapping up our day when the violence broke out and most of us never went home that night. We stayed on the air for hours on end, with just one story.

It was the same the early morning I woke up to a shaking bed because of the Northridge Quake. I called my dad on the drive to work and told him I was fine but he wouldn't be hearing from me because I would be at work for at least the next 24 hours. Several of us stayed in a hotel near the station when he finally got off our shift so we could be close and get back to work if necessary.

The same was true of 9-11 when I was about to go on the air with a 7am broadcast in Denver.  The second plane hit the World Trade Center and I knew the next few days would be nonstop coverage and I wouldn't be going home.

But what got me through all those chaotic days was focusing on the daily job at hand. Then, eventually  I would go home and get to write something other than breaking news. I escaped into a world I had created somewhere else, whether it was writing a romantic story or an uplifting story of human endurance. I made the decisions so people did what I wanted.

 Now as a full time writer of both fiction and non-fiction , I've found that escape into fantasy can be therapeutic. We as writers can make things come out right. We can do the things that need to be done and then go into OUR world and set a happy or unhappy ending. If you're feeling tense or as though things are out of control right now, take some time to escape into YOUR world. Make your characters cry if you want, make them strong and stand up to a bully or make them turn over the apple cart and do what is needed. We can ride out this current storm by writing it out!

Friday, March 6, 2020

Good News about Writing A Bad Villain

Next week I had been scheduled to appear at a writing conference and be part of a panel on villains, but with my travel  in a state of flux and indecision on whether to attend, I am going to provide a brief look at some of  what I intended to say in the discussion.. 

Villains have always drawn us into books and stories -- whether we hate the villain or find ourselves enjoying them.  Don’t we all know villains that we wanted to absolutely hate, but then we suddenly find we don’t want to see them killed off?  Perhaps we want them to live and suffer. Sometimes we even wish they could turn the page and with the right guidance he or she might come back as a good guy. What is it about some villains that just get under our skin? I wish I had the answer, but after talking to many writers—including some bestselling authors—I’ve discovered that there is no particular secret to creating a villain. 

Just as there is no magic formula to writing a great character, each villain must grow from inside of each of us and take their cues from the story itself. We can guide them in a particular way, but we can’t make the automatically behave a certain way if they don’t want to. They need to come from inside of us—the writer—and it is up to us to breathe that particular life into them. But we can make them special and we do need to make them all individual—as individual as any other character in a book.

    With all that in mind here are some ideas to consider when you start to create your own villains: 

  1. We don’t want them to be ordinary. Our villains need to be worthy of the story they inhabit. Do we want our heroes and heroines to go up against someone common that anyone can destroy? No, we want to make them strong enough that they can connive and endanger the hero and heroine while remaining anonymous if they are in a mystery or very powerful if we see them in true form from the beginning. 
  2. They should be constantly on the page or their deeds the results of their evil deeds should be steadily in the picture. Certainly we don’t want them to take over the story, but they personally need to be around often enough to cause problems for our hero and heroine. If they aren’t personally on the page, their deeds need to bring on trouble, especially just when everyone least expects it, and they need to bring on trouble in a big way. They have to bring in a problem that can’t be solved in a couple of scenes.
  3. A cartoon or cardboard villain is going to get boring very quickly. They need to be as unpredictable and as smart or smarter than your main character. Don’t we all love it when the ordinary guy can out do or out battle a superhuman villain in a simple way? A worthy foe makes your hero or heroine that much stronger when the good guys win in the end.
  4. How about a likeable villain? Well, maybe not too likeable, but think about those villains that you almost wish could get away because with a little rehabilitation they might be able to go in the right direction. We’ve all seen the in books and it takes a good author to create one who gives you that sensation. It could be the villain is nice to animals or helps others when he isn’t thieving from the rich. But if he’s taken bundles from the bank, he will still need to go to jail. Maybe your hero or heroine can take on the dogs he’s been befriending.
  5. Think about the villains that appeal to you as you create your own individual bad guys. Who was it that attracted your attention or made you think – whether in a good way or a bad way when you read their story or watched them in a movie or tv series? Think about their traits or what they do that caught your attention. Can you do that for the villain in your book? You might also look back at famous villains and those we want to see more of in the future.
  6. Don’t forget the secret villain – or the invisible ones that we don’t learn who they are, and even though the hero or heroine might solve their case or fix whatever is wrong that villain might still be out there.  
If you would like to know more about creating villains you might want to check out my new book on villains, written with co-author Sue Viders now available at  Amazon. All our books are available at 

For more information on the writing process, please visit

Characters Lead the Way

We're in the heart of the summer and it is time to relax and enjoy a few good books by the beach or in some secluded mountain cabin. To...