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FREE on Kindle Dec. 23rd and 24th ONLY: HIS MAJESTY, THE PRINCE OF TOADS
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Now on with the show:
I'm convinced everyone has story ideas. But maybe they don't recognize them. And of course, a story idea doesn't come with a complete story- most of the time, anyway. It's a germ of an idea. Something that is a little, or a lot, different from the everyday thoughts that run through our heads.
Most authors will tell you they don't get story ideas from their dreams. I do, but only occasionally. SIREN popped into my head in a dream, and it wasn't just a concept. It was probably the first half of the story. And while I do remember my dreams, usually I don't get more than fragments. FAERIE, which will come out sometime, I promise, was a fragment, with the heroine's inner conflict but not too much else.
LOKI'S DAUGHTERS came about on a dreary Sunday afternoon when my daughter, son, and I were sitting around the table, watching the kids play. My daughter and I complained that we'd never found any Viking romances that didn't have that supposed "romantic rape" scene. We detest those. So the three of us got spent the rest of the afternoon laughing and composing a Viking plot where the Vikings were the good guys. I think it was probably more romantic comedy at the time, and in fact it sounded almost like a stage musical.
LADY WICKED came from a young male social work colleague, sweet thought he was, who absolutely refused to believe that barely a hundred years ago, in some places such as England, wives were considered the husband's chattel, and could not even make a will without their husband's permission.
FIRE DANCE was probably mostly the result of years of working with abuse survivors and learning so much from them in terms of human triumph and survival. I had to write a heroine who represented the amazing courage I had seen so often.
But HIS MAJESTY, THE PRINCE OF TOADS probably had the most unusual beginning:
Back in the ancient past of my writing career, a good friend and Regency-writing colleague named Shirley Karr sent me a joke about a very modern princess and her encounter with an egotistical amphibian. You've probably seen it. It made the rounds of all e-groups lists the way jokes fly around the world on YouTube and Face Book today. I thought it was funny, but I thought it needed a more historical feel, so I re-framed it in a historical setting and sent it back to her:
Once upon a time, a beautiful, intelligent princess lived in a lovely kingdom by the sea. One day as she strolled in her garden alongside her favorite fountain, a frog leaped to the fountain wall beside her, startling her."Good morning," said the frog as he strutted along the wall (no mean feat, considering the shape of his legs). "I have come to rescue you."The princess studied the frog quizzically, for she had never seen a talking, strutting frog before, and certainly could not imagine why she might need rescuing."I am not a really frog, you see, but an enchanted prince. One kiss from you and I shall return to my former glorious state, whereupon I shall save you from spinsterhood and carry you off to my castle where you can cook my meals, do my laundry, and bear me dozens of sons who will all be as handsome as I am."That evening the princess sat down to supper at her table, set with the finest china and Waterford crystal, and smiled as she speared her Frog Legs Forestiére with her golden fork.
Of course, no heroine of mine would ever fry and skewer a hero, not to mention a frog. But it could happen metaphorically.. And you can tell by the epithet given him, "His Majesty, the Prince of Toads", that he is in dire need of a real lesson in loving. And there's nothing like a good romance to give it to him. And so the process began of finding said hero, and then, just the right heroine to deliver such a come-uppance. And, as is usual for me, I had to pay attention, for Lucas and Sophie did not have an ordinary story. It was truly their story, not mine!
Writers, the next time you find yourself struggling for a new story concept, the place to look is your own experiences. You don't have to stick with the details you experienced. How could you go to the core concept and expand to make a unique story?
And readers, if you wanted to write a story, what event in your life might trigger a story with a new twist?