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Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Agent’s Role in Digital Publishing

Please welcome guest blogger Laurie McLean

It was difficult for me to write this guest blog. Not because I didn’t understand the content of what I wanted to teach you. I’ve been immersing myself in digital publishing for the past two years and have even created a writer’s university and online marketing business from what I learned. It wasn’t because I didn’t have enough to say. I have so much to say on how digital technology is the most disruptive development in publishing since Gutenberg it’s ridiculous. No, it was because digital publishing is evolving and changing and fracturing at such a rapid pace I find I can’t sit down and plot out a course my normal weeks or months prior to the first class because so many huge announcements keep changing the focus and priorities of my knowledgebase.

But I think I have a handle on what I can teach writers next week about where digital publishing has been and is now. I’ll maybe even be able to predict accurately where it will be and when. And if there are ten more earth-shattering announcements that come out between now and March 7th, we’ll just deal with it during comments, questions and answers. Sound good? All right.

My main job in publishing today is as a literary agent who handles adult genre fiction (including romance), as well as young adult and middle grade children’s books. In this role I have been fascinated by the process of selling books to large New York publishers, and sometimes to medium-sized houses or indie presses. However, I come from a different background than many of my colleagues—for 20 years I ran my own highly successful public relations agency in the Silicon Valley and we dealt solely with emerging companies. Some of my former clients you may have heard of: Apple Computer, Adobe Systems, Intuit, Hotmail…and the list goes on and on. We worked with these companies in their formative years to build them into brand names and then hand them off to huge multinational PR conglomerates when they outgrew our size (at the height of the dot com era we still only had 15 agents and one office.) So years later, as a literary agent, when I saw my first demo of Web 2.0 social media such as Twitter and Facebook, and the new breed of ePublishing tools like Smashwords, and Amazon’s then-named DTP service, my old radar picked up a familiar signal and I knew we were witnessing the first blips of a perfect storm for publishing. I recognized that adrenaline rush. And I knew you could either get in the water and surf that wave or be plowed under by its sheer magnitude. I’m a surfer of information from way back, so I dove in. No fear.

I want to share what I’ve learned these past two years, from a literary agent’s perspective, on how digital publishing is changing even a bestselling author’s process and making this the best time ever to be a writer. I also want to educate writers about what to expect from their literary agent in this time of rapid evolution (some might even call it a revolution). It’s not enough any more for an agent to negotiate a deal with one of the big six and call it a day. It’s not enough to go to lunch with your agent once a year at RWA nationals and talk about your career. Things are changing too quickly for that to still be effective and authors need a guide who can help them thrive with all the new opportunities for backlist reissues as eBooks, short fiction sales, writing experimentation, alternate content, online author brand building, blogging, YouTube videos, and much, much more.

So join me for my workshop, The Agent’s Role in Digital Publishing, March 7-14 here at FF&P. I’ll open your eyes to the new publishing paradigm and you can decide whether to sink or swim. I’ll bring the fins and goggles! J

-Laurie McLean, Larsen Pomada Literary Agents


Larsen Pomada Literary Agents

1029 Jones St., San Francisco, CA 94109

At Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents in San Francisco, Northern California’s oldest literary agency founded in 1972, Laurie represents adult genre fiction (romance, fantasy, science fiction, horror, nouveau westerns, mysteries, suspense, thrillers, etc.) as well as middle-grade and young-adult books. She looks for great writing, first and foremost, followed by memorable characters, a searing storyline and solid world building.

For more than 20 years Laurie ran a multi-million dollar eponymous public relations agency in California's Silicon Valley. She is passionate about marketing, publicity, negotiating, editing and a host of other business-critical areas. She is also a novelist herself, so she can empathize with the author's journey to and through publication.

Check out her blog, www.agentsavant.com, for tales of the agenting life, and www.larsenpomada.com for valuable information and links, plus her submission guidelines. Query her at query@agentsavant.com.

Laurie is also on the management team of the annual San Francisco Writers Conference, which just completed its eighth year. For further information go to www.sfwriters.org.

And finally, Laurie is the dean of the new non-profit San Francisco Writers University, a social networking hub for writers with online and live classes, at www.SFWritersU.com.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Immerse Yourself in Scotland’s Otherworld

Please welcome guest blogger Cindy Vallar

My first introduction into the Otherworld, where magic and mystical creatures abide, came when I was just a wee lass. I donned a brown uniform with a brown beanie, then opened my orange handbook to learn more about Brownies! At the time, I had no idea this was my first introduction to Scotland. I was simply learning about wee folk who helped us with our chores. (For those not familiar with real Brownies, they were the entry level group of the Girl Scouts of America.)

As I grew older, I felt more at ease with the leprechauns and banshees of the old sod – Ireland – where my mom’s family came from. I was one of the first to return as a freshman in high school. I never thought about Scotland until I began reading historical romances. Many years later, while working in a school for seriously emotionally challenged teenagers, I attended a weekly staff meeting. Bored, I scribbled on my tablet (I write, rather than doodle):

Lightning flashed. A lone rider spurred his mount along the rough Highland track bordered by tall firs. He stiffened and toppled from his horse.

The English teacher, reading over my shoulder, whispered, “Neat! Write more.” Thus began a twelve-year odyssey into the history and culture of Scotland. When The Scottish Thistle, my novel about the Camerons and MacGregors during the Rising of 1745, was published, this was how I wove those three sentences above into the opening of the story:


Earlier, Thistle had blessed the torrential rain. Now, the smuggler cursed it. A lightning bolt slashed the ink-black sky. The shadows of the night blurred, and Thistle shuddered. The premonition descended with the finality of a coffin lid being nailed shut.

Thistle stood at the left hand of a dark-haired man. Swirls of mist curled around their feet and shadowy forms rose up between them, separating Thistle from the stranger. A flash of steel pierced the darkness. The white mist turned bright red, then faded to nothingness.

The smuggler's eyes flew open! Thistle strained to hear, but thunder and wind obliterated other sounds. Lightning flashed; in the instant it illuminated mountain and glen, Thistle glimpsed a lone rider spurring his mount along the rough Highland track bordered by tall firs. He stiffened and toppled from his horse. Two caterans crept from the trees. While one searched their unconscious victim, the other rifled his satchel.

As the smuggler's four companions surrounded the caterans, Thistle stepped onto a wind-smoothed boulder. With an arrow nocked taut against the string of the black longbow, Thistle aimed the lethal missile at one cateran's heart and waited.


Although The Scottish Thistle is historical fiction, I wove aspects of the Otherworld into the story so readers have a better sense of the Highland folklore. In the passage above, Thistle (a smuggler) is gifted with the Two Sights, the ability to see the future, although those possessing this “gift” often consider it more a curse. I could have stopped there, but Scotland’s Otherworld is rich with creatures and superstitions that spin their magic around those who venture into their realm. Within my novel’s pages, readers meet Bean-nighe (the Fairy Washerwoman) and the Queen of the Daoine sìth or fairy folk, and the gruagach or brownies.

If you’d like to meet these and others who populate the realm of Scotland’s Otherworld, join me for my workshop, “Witches, Kelpies, and Fairies, Oh My!” – If you dare!


Cindy Vallar, Associate Editor of Industry for Solander, writes the “Red Pencil” column where she compares a selection from an author’s published novel with an early draft of that work. She also reviews for the Historical Novel Society’s journal, Historical Novels Review. She is a freelance editor, the editor of Pirates and Privateers, and the author of The Scottish and “Odin’s Stone,” a romantic short story of how the Lord of the Isles settled the medieval feud between the MacKinnons and MacLeans on the Isle of Skye.

She belongs to the Historical Novel Society, the Red River Branch of the Clan Cameron Association, and the Scottish Clans of North Texas. In 2005 at the Clan Cameron North American Rally, Cindy received the first Friend of Clan Cameron Award. Prior to becoming an author and editor, she was a school librarian for twenty years and also taught computers and social studies. She invites you to visit her award-winning web site, Thistles & Pirates (http://www.cindyvallar.com/), to learn more.

Witches, Kelpies, and Fairies, Oh My!, presented by Cindy Vallar, runs from March 28th through April 24th, 2011.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Demystifying Point of View

Please welcome guest blogger Melissa Mayhue

I thought… you thought… he thought… they thought… Which one is correct? It all depends on your Point of View!

One important facet of writing a story that captures the reader’s imagination involves framing that story within the proper point of view. So, how does a beginning writer discover the proper point of view for a story? There’s no big mystery to it – Simply think like a child and follow the rules.

Think like a child

I like to think of point of view in terms of one very simple question: Who am I now? Remember playing pretend? House? Dolls? Dress-ups? Those games from childhood were limited only by our imaginations. You picked a character to be [the mom, Barbie, a Princess, a spy] and you became that character. It’s the same thing when you’re trying to stay in the proper point of view in your writing. Set your imagination free – BE the character you are writing. Get in that person’s head and view the action through their eyes. Not only is that the key to effectively putting into words what your character is thinking and feeling, it’s also the key to immersing your reader into the action.

How do you choose whose eyes to look through? That depends on what you want your reader to get out of that particular scene. If, for example, you want them to understand why your heroine behaves the way she does, put them inside her head, thinking her thoughts, feeling her feelings.

Follow the Rules

If you plug “rules for writing point of view” into Google, you’ll get approximately 76,100,000 results. Obviously, there are as many rules for how to use point of view effectively in your writing as there are people giving advice on how to write. There’s no way anyone’s writing can meet all those standards so, what this means to you is that you need to decide which rules are important for your writing. I have my own short list and I’ll share those with you, with the reminder that these are simply the ones that work for me. They’re not THE rules, they’re only MY rules.

Rule One: Everything that happens in the context of point of view has to make sense to the reader. It needs to be seamless. Invisible. Why? Because anything else pulls the reader out of the story. If my reader has to stop and re-read a section to determine which character had that thought or to question how that character could have known what happened in the last chapter when they weren’t even in that scene, I’ve broken the rhythm of the story. Rhythm-breaking is bad. My goal as storyteller is to keep my reader immersed, flowing with the rhythm of the words from Page One right up to The End.

Rule Two: Pick a point of view that fits your story and your writing style.

First Person - Story is told from the point of view of the narrator using “I” or “we.” Going back to my Who am I question, I am the one telling the story. Everything is happening to or around me and the story is expressed in terms of what I experience and my perception of that experience. This POV can be limiting to use in that I can only share with the reader what I as the character see, feel, hear, sense, and know.

In spite of its inherent limitations, this particular type of POV can be very effective. It’s more frequently seen in urban fantasy than in romance, but it’s even found a home in such classics as Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.

Second Person - Story is told about “you” and your experiences. This is the least often used POV in any type of fiction. Though I did find one example to share with you [Robbin’s Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas], I have not seen it used in the romance genre -- which is not to say it hasn’t been used or that it can’t be used, it’s just that I can’t imagine ever using it in my writing.

Third Person - This is the most commonly utilized POV for fiction and for romance in particular. It uses “he,” “she,” “it,” or “they” to express point of view. Third Person is broken into two sub-categories – omniscient and limited.

Omniscient is written from the view point of an all-knowing, all-seeing narrator and isn’t often used in the romance genre. Limited – the most frequently seen in romance – gives an author the flexibility to be any character at a given time, sharing with the reader whatever that particular character experiences. The biggest danger in using limited third person POV is the tendency to head hop, a situation where the writer slips from one character’s thoughts to another’s and back again.

Rule Three: Once you’ve picked a style and character, stick with it. No head hopping allowed! If the character whose eyes you are looking through can’t see or hear or feel it, your reader can’t either. Are there authors who don’t adhere to this rule? You bet there are and some of them are very successful. But, remember, these are MY rules and since I don’t like head hopping as a reader, I avoid it as a writer.

Rule Four: Don’t be afraid to change which character you are if it will make the story better for your reader. This doesn’t mean you’re free to break Rule Three! This means you either make a clean break within the scene so that it’s clear you’ve taken the reader into a new character’s head or you begin a new scene to switch to another character. Maybe the reader needs to spend a couple of pages in the villain’s head to understand just how evil he really is. Perhaps a secondary character’s point of view could give more clarity to the story. Don’t limit yourself. Don’t limit your story.

Rule Four.One: Every character in your book does NOT need point of view time. Be selective.

Rule Five: No more than one point of view change per chapter. Why? Because it seems confusing to me as a reader so I avoid it as a writer. If I need to change more than once, I probably chose the wrong character’s head to be in to begin with.
How does the process of thinking like a child and following the rules translate into actual writing? For me, it looks like this:

I write in limited third person point of view. Once I choose my character for a scene, as far as I’m concerned, I AM that character. I’m in their head, seeing what they see, hearing what they hear, feeling what they feel. If that character can’t in some way experience something, I can’t write it. As that character, I can’t see myself, so I can’t ever describe my own expressions, just as I can’t describe what another character is feeling.

If I reach a point where I feel it’s absolutely imperative to the progression of a scene to share what another character is thinking or feeling, I have some new choices to make. Is it time for a scene break – to become someone else for the remainder of the scene to view the situation through their eyes? Or maybe I chose the wrong character to begin with and I need to start from the beginning of the scene in a different character’s head.

Point of view is only one piece of the craft of writing. An incredibly important piece, granted, but certainly nothing mysterious or difficult. Simply get into character by using your imagination, follow the rules that fit your writing style and you’ll see how easy it can be!

What about you? Do you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share that help you maintain point of view consistency in your writing?

MELISSA MAYHUE writes award-winning paranormal romance for Pocket Books, all set in an imaginary world of Faeries and Mortals. Her seventh book, HEALING THE HIGHLANDER hits stores on February 22 and her eighth, HIGHLANDER’S CURSE, is available on March 29, 2011.

You can visit her on the web at: www.MelissaMayhue.com or come Twitter with her at www.Twitter.com/MelissaMayhue


Andrew MacAlister longs for a cure to free him from the excruciating pain caused by an old wound, but when he rescues a drowning woman, he has no idea how much his life is about to change. All Drew knows is that this mysterious woman is hiding secrets — and that he’s never felt such a consuming desire before. Yet he cannot deny her request for help, even if it means bringing the detested English army to his Highland clan’s home.

Leah Noble McQuarrie still harbors a deep hatred of the Fae who tortured her eleven years ago, forcing her to escape back in time to the thirteenth century. A descendant of the Fae, Leah denies her heritage and her magical healing abilities. But the English army is holding her beloved adoptive grandfather captive, so Leah must seek help from the Fae — and the captivating man whose touch she craves.

Then Drew discovers Leah’s secrets, and he’s torn between old loyalties and trusting a woman who has the power to give him the future he’s sought — but could destroy his clan forever. . . .

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Don't Forget Seconds: Secondary Characters

Please welcome guest blogger Danica Avet

When we learn the craft of writing, the majority of our time is spent learning how to make the main characters' stories stronger, action-packed, and interesting. But what about the secondary characters? We can't forget about them!

I'll admit, most of the time when I'm reading a book, the secondary characters are the ones I really remember. These are characters who move on the peripheral of the main characters' lives, yet their actions help set the pace and tone of the entire book. Secondary characters have the power to change your reader's mood. If your secondary character is a joker, they can lighten a particularly heavy moment. Or, if they're stiff and dour, they can gloom up a perfectly hilarious scene which might make it even funnier.

The power of a secondary character can't be dismissed. Sometimes your secondary characters get more attention than the main characters, but that's because their actions, lack of actions, words, anything they do can have a heavy impact on a scene. Let's look at a scenario:

(I've been reading a lot historical romances lately, so pardon my non-paranormal scenario)

Lord Fufflebutt has six daughters and no money. He loses everything at the gaming tables and the only thing he has to offer the hero, Duke of Handsome, is his eldest daughter, Lady Pretty. Sounds familiar, correct? Duke of Handsome accepts her because he needs an heir, but she comes with attachments: five younger sisters (a bluestocking, a hellion, a gamester, a hoyden, a tomboy, and a loner) who get up to hijinks throughout the book. They, along with their father who is irresponsible, silly, and jolly, come and go throughout the book. Say on the wedding night, things are getting hot and heavy between Duke of Handsome and Lady Pretty when Lady Hoyden sneezes behind the screen because she was hiding in the room to escape her governness (or something). This changes the dynamics of the love scene, it could even change the dynamics between the hero and heroine. One small action by a secondary character has unbalanced what looked like a regular wedding night.

The way secondary characters come and go is essential to give your story life. A story revolving around two people with no outside interference, no matter how interesting the couple, can be stagnant and stale. I'm not saying it's impossible to do, but secondary characters are so much fun to write! They can be as outrageous, coarse, insane, whatever, as they want and readers just think "I have a friend just like that" and move on. It actually helps the reader delve further into the story.

I love writing secondary characters. Sometimes, they're more fun than the hero or heroine because the rules don't really apply to them. Yes, you can delve into their lives, but they aren't the main focus of the story so the reader only sees the surface you choose to show them. This is also a great way to set-up a series if you're so inclined. Some of my secondary characters have become main characters in my books because they were so irresisitble to me when I wrote the original story. Even I didn't know what went on behind the mask they showed, which makes it so much fun to delve deeper.

Do you enjoy writing secondary characters?

Danica Avet was born and raised in the wilds of South Louisiana (that would be somewhere around Houma) where mosquitoes are big enough to carry off small children and there are only two seasons: hot and hotter. With a BA in History, she figured there were enough fry cooks in the world and decided to try her hand at writing. For eight years she played at writing, but in 2008, she decided to get serious and began down the rocky road to publication.

Unmarried with no children, Danica is the lucky pet of a compulsively needy dog and two cats. The pitter-patter of little feet has been known to make her break out into a cold sweat.

Writing is how she gives the voices in her head a way out. They speak to her constantly wanting their stories told and she does her best to accommodate them. She writes paranormal romance and may eventually branch out to contemporaries. When she isn’t writing, working, or contemplating the complexities of the universe, she spends time gathering inspiration from her insane family, reads far more than any sane person would want to, and watches hot burly men chase an oblong ball all over a field.

Ruby Uncut and on the Loose

Ruby Fontenot, a Cajun hermit, loses control of her life when she’s tapped to become the last Lineage Chieftain in a paranormal world she had no idea existed. With the power to change the face of The Veil by choosing its leaders, Ruby is now a wanted woman. Once she meets a member of the Veilerian High Council, what began as a fight for her life turns into a fight for her heart and her freedom.

As the High Council Representative, Lucian Ravenswaay has spent decades searching for the elusive Lineage Chieftain only to discover she’s his life mate. But this vampire has bigger plans than settling down; he wants a Council seat and to get it, he’ll have to turn Ruby over to them. The line between what he wants and what he needs is blurred and making the wrong choice could mean the destruction of an entire society.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cross Genre

Please welcome guest blogger Allison Pang

I originally wrote A Brush of Darkness (formerly known as Shadow of the Incubus) as a paranormal romance. There was an HEA (Happily Ever After). There were longer love scenes. There was far more romance in general than there is now. At the time I wasn’t entirely sure about the HEA thing, but everyone I spoke to insisted it had to be there if the book were going to qualify as a romance.

So I shoehorned it in. Abby and Ion were going to be together forever, by God!

And then I sold it to Pocket (along with a request for two more). I was ecstatic…until the editor requested that I rewrite it as an Urban Fantasy. And, oh yes – take out that HEA. And maybe try to set up a love triangle for the next book.

I wept.

Sort of an interesting conundrum, really. On one hand, as an author you want to believe the book and the story are your words and your ideas and they should never be changed. On the other, publishing is also a business. I’m of two minds. Sure, I’d like everything to be perfect…but I also consider myself something of a word whore. I’m perfectly willing to make changes if it means a stronger book, and I had to trust that my editor knew what she was doing.

So I sat and looked at the revision letter (all 26, single spaced paged of it), and while I didn’t take every suggestion offered by my editor, I did agree with many of them. (Not that this happened overnight. It required several days of chocolate.)

In six weeks I rewrote about 70% of the book. The underlying themes were still there. It still started the same way and ended the same way. (More or less.) I got rid of some of the love scenes. Shortened others. Brought up some of those secondary characters. Made Abby more independent overall. Beefed up the world-building. Strengthened the mystery elements.

In short, the suggestions made it a stronger story.

Not that it’s without fault. I’d say the book stands as more of cross-genre than anything else. It’s worked for many readers so far, though there has been a bit of backlash from some because there’s not enough romance for straight PNR (i.e. no HEA) and too much romance for straight UF. It still holds as being marketed as a UF, because even if I removed the romantic elements, the story would still stand. However, given the general overlap between UF and PNR anyway, I suspect it’s probably going to become more common to see the genres merge over time, granting authors a greater flexibility to write the stories they want to tell.

A marine biologist in a former life, Allison Pang turned to a life of crime to finance her wild spending habits and need to collect Faberge eggs. A cat thief of notable repute, she spends her days sleeping and nights scaling walls and wooing dancing boys….Well, at least the marine biology part is true. But she was taloned by a hawk once. She also loves Hello Kitty, sparkly shoes, and gorgeous violinists.

She spends her days in Northern Virginia working as a cube grunt and her nights waiting on her kids and cats, punctuated by the occasional husbandly serenade. Sometimes she even manages to write. Mostly she just makes it up as she goes.


A Brush of Darkness

I had a naked incubus in my bedroom. With a frying pan of half-cooked bacon and a hard-on. And a unicorn bite on his ass. Christ, this was turning out to be a weird morning.

Six months ago, Abby Sinclair was struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Now, she has an enchanted iPod, a miniature unicorn living in her underwear drawer, and a magical marketplace to manage. But despite her growing knowledge of the OtherWorld, Abby isn’t at all prepared for Brystion, the dark, mysterious, and as sexy as sin incubus who shows up searching for his sister—and is convinced Abby has the key to the succubus’s whereabouts. Abby has enough problems without having this seductive shape-shifter literally invading her dreams to get information. But when her Faery boss and some of her friends vanish as well, Abby and Brystion must form an uneasy alliance. As Abby is sucked deeper and deeper into this perilous world of faeries, angels, and daemons, she realizes her life is in as much danger as her heart—and there’s no one she can trust to save her.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Traits of A Storyteller – Gathering Plotting Ideas

Please welcome guest bloggers Sue Viders and Becky Martinez

Every day somewhere, some poor writer comes up with a wonderful idea he or she hopes will become the beginning of a story. Where do these ideas come from? Where do they go? It’s one of the questions many non-writers often ask writers.

“Were do you get your ideas?”

The truth is they can come from everywhere and some of them will go nowhere. Unfortunately another truth is, there is no telling where an idea will come from or how it will it develop. It would be wonderful if an idea for a book could come marching out of a writer’s brain fully developed and ready to be written down for that next great best seller. Instead an idea often starts just as a little seed. From there it needs to be carefully cared for and build or developed until it can become a short story, a novella, a full book, the beginning of a saga.

Some writers say they come up with ideas in the middle of the night and keep notebooks by their beds to write them down. Others keep notebooks in their cars. You never know when inspiration will strike.

But there are a few traits that set writers apart, and that help to turn those ideas into books. For the most part you will find that writers are:




Sometimes downright nosy

Story tellers

Curiosity is important because a writer might hear a news story and instead of accepting it as just another event, the writer might start asking “what if.” What if the murder was not all it seemed on the surface? What if the hit and run was at the back bone of a spy plot? What kind of love story was behind the star crossed lovers who re-kindled a teenage romance 40 years later? Bestselling author Harlan Coben tells book signing audiences that his current mystery Caught came about as a result of wondering what happens to an innocent man who might be arrested as a result of those televised sex-sting operations.

Being introspective is another important trait because a writer must go beyond simply observing emotions on the surface. The writer might watch an event or overhear an exchange in a coffee shop and start thinking of how those emotions might be expressed or brought to the surface in scene. A writer will think through feelings and must come up with a way to describe them for hero or heroine in their next book.

A writer must be observant because no two writers will witness a simple event the same way. Again, a news event might go from being simply a car crashing into a building or running off the side of the road. A writer can turn it into a seminal event in a person’s life or show how it can change the lives of several people – think the Oscar winning movie Crash of a couple of years ago.

And then there is that part about being just plain nosy. Mystery writer Robert Crais loves to tell audiences that you don’t want to get into a personal conversation near him. He says he’ll eavesdrop in restaurants and coffee shops without apology because he always picks up some good writing ideas. Sometimes it’s as simple as picking up an accent or inflection, but sometimes he can come up with a good story idea or two.

For a writer, something simple that might happen to the old neighbor next door, like a stranger suddenly coming around everyday can transform into tales of any genre. While a “normal” non-writer might just see it as a relative or a friend coming to call, a writer might turn it into something different. To a mystery writer the visitor might be planning to kill the old lady after talking her into leaving him her money and house. A romance writer might think the lady is having an affair with the nice looking gentleman that perhaps she loved in her youth. A sci-fi writer might think the gentleman caller looks otherworldly, robotic. Have the aliens landed? A fantasy writer might think the two elderly people are using that appearance as a disguise and change into werewolves to go out marauding at the next full moon.

Yes, a writer will see each situation differently. But the final trait a writer has is to be a story teller. The writer will see beyond just the general idea. To a writer the idea becomes a plot, a story that can move the reader, charm the reader or hold the reader in its grip until the final page. The idea transforms into a character moving through a fictional world that must be invented by the story teller.

When readers ask where ideas come from, it’s difficult for a writer to say, because for writers, they are all around us. We see ideas everywhere, just as we see stories and plots in everything around us.

Yes, today, some writer, somewhere will come up with an idea for a book… and it will probably come from something simple…

Sue Viders is the author of more than 20 books, numerous articles and columns for both artists and writers. Her writing book Heroes and Heroines, Sixteen Master Archetypes, is used in many college and university writing courses. Her book, 10 Steps to Creating Memorable Characters is gaining use as a practical workbook. Her newest book is an ebook that outlines how to take an idea from the beginning through finished book.

She also developed Deal a Story; an interactive card game that can help writers work on their creativity and is based on her Heroes and Heroines book.

Becky Martinez is an award-winning former broadcast journalist and published author. Her latest book, Deadly Messages published by The Wild Rose Press in February 2010 was an Aspen Gold finalist. She has had several short stories published and contributed to an anthology. She was also one of the co-authors of Ten Steps to Creating Memorable Characters, a workbook for writers

The Plotting Wheel, presented by Sue Viders and Becky Martinez runs from February 28, 2011 through March 27, 2011