Tag Archives: ideas

Unique–just like everything else!

I just finished reading “Pack Dynamics” by Julie Frost, which is a Bunniculaparanormal action adventure sci-fi urban fantasy medical thriller. The novel focuses on werewolves and vampires and a veteran with PTSD that finds himself stuck in the middle of some pretty crazy stuff.

One key feature in the novel is killer bunnies. This is not a new concept–heck, there’s an entire game series about that. There’s the horror movie “Night of the Lepus”. There’s the kids book “Bunnicula”. There’s even Monty Python. We’re told continually as authors to be original, and yet we see ideas like killer bunnies surfacing again and again. So how does Frost get away with it?

While some things get used so much they run the danger of becoming cliché, authors can actually get away with quite a lot if they’re reasonably careful. In this case her bunnies are important to the plot, but they’re not the plot itself. They’re test subjects in some mad science, and don’t actually play a direct role in resolving any of the plot. It works in this instance because they’re used in a way that is not so unusual: lab animals. There’s a reason why they’re killer bunnies, and their purpose for being is to provide the protagonists a believable way of solving a serious problem.

So if you’re going to borrow an idea that’s been done before it’s not the end of the world. Just try to make your idea fit your story in a way that’s believable, and see if you can’t tweak it just enough to not look like a direct attempt to borrow someone else’s idea. Had the bunnies gotten loose and started leaping around ripping out people’s throats I probably would have started quoting Monty Python (“they’ve got…teeth! And they can…leap!”) and set the book aside to pick up something else.

But in starting to write this post it occurred to me that Frost actually borrows an even more obvious idea: this is a vampire and werewolf novel! Those are so incredibly not new that I totally missed it! The point, I decided, is that sometimes ideas become so prevalent they become an intrinsic part of the genre–or even a genre unto themselves. There is a specific audience out there looking for vampire and werewolf novels; they’re not about to complain that the idea has already been done–it’s why they’re reading the book!

So the point is you have to be aware of what’s out there so that you can make your ideas as original as possible, but also don’t sweat too much over it. No one worries any more about putting space ships in their sci-fi–it’s not so much an idea as an expectation, or part of the setting. No one will even question it.

On the other hand, turning those expectations on their heads can be a great source of ideas. Could we have a sci-fi novel where everything happens on a planet that has no space-flight capability? We have an entirely new sub-genre growing in the fantasy genre–a genre sometimes called sword-and-sorcery–using early muskets instead of swords!

If you’re concerned about an idea being too unoriginal you might consider running it past some well-read friends. If you tell them you have an idea for an Arthurian legend where Arthur is actually an oppressor trying to move England away from democracy and into hereditary monarchy, and you have this lovely scene in mind where he’s trying to convince two peasants why they should accept him as their king they might be able to warn you what not to do to avoid it coming out like Monty Python–or at least warn you that it’s been done and you’ll want to refine your idea so as to make it more unique.

On the other hand, if they start getting excited about the idea and extrapolating further based on what you’ve given them, you might know you’ve got a winner.

But if they tell you “Sorry, Arthurian Legend reboots have been done,” well… Find out what they’ve seen before and go ahead anyway. For all we know Arthur reboots could become the next “black-powder fantasy.”

Thom Stratton

About Thom Stratton

Thom Stratton was born and raised in Idaho, and now lives in Utah with his Finnish wife, three amazing kids, three distinct cats, and a big, goofy dog. He works for a regional bank, and is part owner of a video game store. He enjoys writing, photography, war gaming, music, theater, building things, and reading. Though active in writing as a teen, he convinced himself it could never be a career. Decades later upon moving to Utah, where there’s something odd in the water, he has decided to get serious about writing. To date he has written five novels to be published posthumously by his greedy estate and is polishing a set of short stories to start submitting. Any day now…

Keepin’ Stuff, and Keepin’ Goin’

I keep a lot of “stuff”. Some of it, I even keep on my computer: old writers magazines I didn’t make time to read when they hit my INBOX. Further, I admitted (all too recently) how many partial books I have written (and “kept” thinking “some day . . . ). And admitted how much I want to work on my longest, most researched, toughest book, an historical tale from Celtic Times in today’s England.

So I was deleting literally HUNDREDS of “saves” from some of my 1586 folders (that is an accurate, not an exaggerated, number). And I spotted an old Writer’s Digest article called “6 Simple Ways to Reboot Your Writing Routine,” by Brian A. Klems. Since my “writing routine” consists most of thinking about, but not necessarily DOING the writing, I thought maybe I’d better READ THE ARTICLE, this time, from January 10, 2012. And, yes, sometimes the “old” ideas are the really “good” ideas.

Since this was an old January 2012 piece, I thought it very fitting that I try to learn something from it now, at the end of January 2016. Here’s the short list:

  1. Your New Year artist statement: You do have one don’t you?
  2. Your Current regimen. Still working?
  3. Your hardware, software: Time for an upgrade?
  4. Writing extracurriculars: Are you missing out?
  5. Your support network: Is it in place?
  6. Day planners and deadlines: Have you mapped out a path to success?

SELF‑EXAM TIME:

  1. What do I write? Any fancy, new idea that pushes its way into my head. Why do I write it? Because sitting down to write something new is exhilarating! At this point, everything always looks POSSIBLE. OK, Brenda, but dig deeper. How much does this really matter to me? Why should I bother?

DEAR READER: WRITE A SIMPLE, HEARTFELT ARTISTIC STATEMENT WHICH WILL SUSTAIN YOU OVER THE NEXT 11 MONTHS.

(If you wrote an artist statement LAST YEAR) drag it out, dust it off and find out whether any of it still applies. Make sure this statement for the new 2016 year fits you, fits your desires, fits your aims.

  1. Current regimen ‑‑‑ I HAVE one ? ? ? I usually set goals for the next day as I write my 750words on my journaling site. I know my most productive hours are in the morning. That said, those hours often collide with my “new” husband’s hours (haven’t quite reached our 4th anniversary, and this while we are in our 60’s and 70’s ‑ can you say “set in his/her ways”?), and I drop things from my agenda which are REALLY the things I want to get done. I need to start VERY early in the a.m. and get the MOST IMPORTANT THINGS done FIRST ‑‑‑ before our hours clash. SO:

6‑7 am: Get up, eat

7‑10:30 am: WRITE & REVIEW RESEARCH

I’m currently blogging for 3 different sites: A ‑ short, once a week; B ‑ full length, once a week; C ‑ two per week, but will need to increase as we get closer to May and June

Blogs can be written later and on specified days.

10:30‑noon: Household chores

And I MUST set my phone to buzz me when it’s time to move on ‑‑‑ for me, that’s a deadline and I’m pretty good at meeting (or even beating) deadlines!

  1. Hardware, software & upgrades: It’s good having a live‑in computer genius with magic hands around. Why, just tonight he reinstalled a program which may now prevent the SEVEN SHUT DOWNS I’ve been plagued with today! Hooray! for husbands ! ! !
  2.  Writing Extracurriculars: We’re both “retired” from Navy (him) and Teaching (moi). We’re just well enough off, normally, to be able to go to many writing workshops, conferences, as well as many theatrical venues: as a former drama director/debate coach, that’s Life’s Blood to me. We’ve already paid for two major workshops, and have our season’s tickets for this years plays and musical events which keep my blood flowing (AND ideas coming ! ! !).
  3. Support Network: I’ve been in one 40‑year‑old critique group for many years. I couldn’t go to their weekly sessions while I was teaching, but am now able to attend pretty regularly. My husband and I also started a small critique group (2 couples, with occasional visitors). Both families have been a bit bogged down since before the end of 2015 with holidays, illnesses, family “emergencies,” etc. We’re working at getting back on track. I’ve also found a neighbor and an “old” friend of many years who would be glad to act as Alpha or Beta readers. My Distractors/Discouragers? I have no one who discourages me from writing . . . other than myself. With this new plan (above, and last item below), I’m hopeful that will not be a problem now. Distractors? That’s something else again. The needs of extended family are occasionally almost over‑powering. I MUST learn to find good, gentle, kind ways to keep that from being a regular problem.
  4. Day Planners/Deadlines: I loved the quote the Writer’s Digest author of these main ideas gave: He’d had a college professor who would tell her graduate students, “A good paper is a done paper.” I’ve already set deadlines for myself from now until June 20, 2016. When I get close to that deadline, I’ll extend it through the next several months, and move from my historical novel (which takes precedence now) to one of the THREE non‑fiction tomes I’d like to pen. Or, actually, “compute.”

WHAT’S YOUR PLAN ? ? ?

To NaNo or NOT to NaNo Now?

Are you one of the many who have been doing the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)?   Are you feeling a little burnt out by now? What are you planning on doing (writing? ? ? ) next Tuesday when, one way or another, NaNo is OVER?

I’d like to write something SHORT. Pithy, if I have the stomach for it by then. I’d like to leave my NaNo novel alone . . . but only for a LITTLE while. Then I want to finish what was already partially a “rewrite” anyway. I’d like to re-read what I have, in its entirety, then go through eliminating words like “that,” “was,” “–ly adverbs,” etc. Then, with my Thinking Cap firmly in place after that little “review” of what was done in November, or NOT done in November, I’d like to take another couple of days to just write some SHORT pieces before I begin the major overhaul. I’ll give myself from 3 days to PERHAPS as much as a week.

But, what to write?

I got out my treasured Natalie Goldberg “Writing Down the Bones” which, thankfully, has LOTS of “writing exercises” in it. And most of them would fit the bill nicely: could be SHORT, possibly PITHY pieces, possibly SALEABLE (?) essays and/or articles. And they would have nothing to do with my November’s effort.

Below, I’m listing a truncated selection of Goldberg’s suggestions. AND her “rules.”

RULES:

  1. Start, if you haven’t one already, a list of possible topics or ideas: from a line you heard someone say, to a flash of memory, a remembrance of an old friend, a newspaper article which caught your attention, but didn’t delve deep enough . . . ANYTHING which could turn into a “topic”. This list will make you start noticing material in your daily life with the writing coming out of a relationship with your life, its texture, if you will. This “composting,” as Goldberg titles it, is the beginning of your body digesting and turning over your material by “raking, fertilizing, taking in the sun’s heat,” and ready for the “deep green plants of writing to grow.” The list is intended to give you a starting place, so you don’t waste writing time contemplating dozens of writing “ideas” without putting a word on the page.
  2. Once you begin writing, watch where your mind takes the topic . . . let it go.
  3. Don’t try to control your writing — just “step out of the way.”
  4. Keep your hand moving!

POSSIBLE TOPICS FOR BEGINNING — just to give you a head-start on your “list”:

  1. The quality of a special light you’ve noticed
  2. Begin by writing “I remember . . . ”
  3. Write about something you feel strongly about, something you love; turn it around and write as if you hated it. Then write a perfectly neutral version.
  4. Choose a single color, like purple; notice everything purple during a 15 minute walk — return and write about that color.
  5. Write in a different place: a laundromat, bus stop, café, etc.
  6. Write about your morning, being as specific as possible; slow your mind to go over all the small details.
  7. Visualize a place you really love: BE there, seeing the details. Write abut its colors, sounds, smells.
  8. Write abut “leaving” with any approach you want: leaving the house in the morning; the death of a friend, a divorce, etc.
  9. Explore your earliest memory.
  10. Write about the people you have loved.

Now: get to work on YOUR list of possible topics.

Ideation and critical mass

One question writers often hear from other people is “Where do you get your ideas?!” So, since we’re a bunch of writers here, I’m asking you to weigh in. Where do you get your ideas?

For me it takes time. I don’t usually get fully-formed ideas all at once. I usually get a piece of an idea, and I capture it in my “Well” file. Every now and then I’ll read through the Well, but some of the more tantalizing pieces tend to stick in my head. After a while, like molecules in those science videos on how water vapor forms raindrops, they’ll bump into another idea and I’ll suddenly realize they fit together.

Eventually enough of these pieces will coalesce into a coherent idea that achieves “critical mass” and screams to be written. It can take years for this to happen sometimes, or sometimes just a few hours.

Of course that begs the question: “But where do those pieces come from?” Well, I have a terrible curiosity. I’m often scanning the news, reading websites, watching YouTube, and basically running a lot of stuff through my head every day. Sometimes some of it sticks.

A few weeks ago I was looking for a science fiction story idea. Somewhere in my daily web wanderings I stumbled across the term “magenta”. I didn’t recognize that word, so I looked it up. I discovered a new type of star I hadn’t known about previously! The more I read the more I realized it was suggesting a story. That one kernel of knowledge suddenly became the link between a bunch of disparate ideas. Boom! Critical mass.

Some people get inspiration from their dreams. This is rare for me. My dreams make very little sense, and tend to be long, dull things. But just this morning I had a long dream that took a peculiar turn–but not so peculiar it was no longer viable. Granted, it’s bizarre–a group of people suddenly realize a hostile force is forcing them apart into separate realities, and they have to find a way to communicate in order to fight their way back together and overcome the enemy.

It somehow made sense in my dream, and I’ll bet if I think about it long and hard enough I can make it make sense, but for now it’s just another drifting story molecule. One of these days it’ll bump into some other molecules that don’t make sense separately, but suddenly do when you put them all together. I’m looking forward to that moment. Epiphanies are a real kick!

So, back to you! Where do you get your ideas? How do you transition and idea from first thoughts to a fully formed concept? Leave a comment!

 

Thom Stratton

About Thom Stratton

Thom Stratton was born and raised in Idaho, and now lives in Utah with his Finnish wife, three amazing kids, three distinct cats, and a big, goofy dog. He works for a regional bank, and is part owner of a video game store. He enjoys writing, photography, war gaming, music, theater, building things, and reading. Though active in writing as a teen, he convinced himself it could never be a career. Decades later upon moving to Utah, where there’s something odd in the water, he has decided to get serious about writing. To date he has written five novels to be published posthumously by his greedy estate and is polishing a set of short stories to start submitting. Any day now…

Taking Your Office With You

Years ago, when I was living in the Bennion‑Taylorsville area, but teaching high school In Park City, I spent a lot of time in my car. Some days I had an evening rehearsal with my students, PTA, or other meetings in the evening. It hardly seemed worth while to drive all the way home, only to drive back two or three hours later.

I met and was impressed with a workshop presenter, Shirley Kawa‑Jump, who had written How to Publish Your Articles. Among other ideas, she talked about the possibility of establishing a mini‑office for your car. Bingo! That’s what I needed!

One Christmas I received a small lap desk with two small drawers: perfect for pens, pencils, discs or (now) a thumb drive or two. The bottom of the desk was a cushion, but the top, a hard wood which could be elevated to the “slant” you wanted while reading, or correcting papers. Flat, it was the perfect platform for a laptop computer.

I checked out Kawa‑Jump’s book for what other items I’d need for my “in‑car office”. A plastic container could become a mini‑post office with scale, stamps, different sizes of envelopes, address labels and a free postal rate card for things which needed to be sent by snail mail (does anyone do that any more?). It was suggested that you could also carry a few pencils, pens, paper clips, sticky notes, lined pads of paper, etc.

That box, or another ‑‑‑ maybe even slightly larger ‑‑‑ could become a “file drawer” for a few folders, research materials, your business and/or tax‑related info, contracts, response letters, etc.

If you plan to use this “office” for longer periods of time, you might want to include a handy pocket‑sized dictionary and a thesaurus (in case you’re parked somewhere without access to the internet), a copy of the good ol’ standard: Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, Writer’s Market (or a few copies of their recent magazines).

This office stood me in good stead, even when I was just out‑and‑about in Salt Lake. Occasionally, I took a break by leaving the house and driving up one of the canyons or to a park. Why not? I had all my “stuff” with me? I could get “away from it all,” yet still take it with me!

Here’s an added bonus: where do you “office” at home? If you have a small closet that could be cleared out, or a basement room with a little unused alcove, add a shelf or two: a nice one for your “desk” and a couple at one (or both?) sides for a few more books and magazines. Invest in a comfortable chair which will do for reading or computing Voila! Now, you have your own office at home . . . and you thought you didn’t have enough room!

Episode #51 – Developing a Rich Story with Adam G. Sidwell

SidwellToday’s guest is Adam G. Sidwell. In between books, Adam Glendon Sidwell uses the power of computers to make monsters, robots and zombies come to life for blockbuster movies such as Pirates of the CaribbeanKing KongPacific RimTransformers and Tron. After spending countless hours in front of a keyboard meticulously adjusting tentacles, calibrating hydraulics, and brushing monkey fur, he is delighted at the prospect of modifying his creations with the flick of a few deftly placed adjectives. He’s been eating food since age 7, so feels very qualified to write the Evertaster series. He once showed a famous movie star where the bathroom was.

See Adam’s Goodreads profile.

About James Duckett

James is a geeky, nerdy dude. He writes, sometimes. He blogs, sometimes. He's helpful to people, sometimes. He doesn't like to repeat himself, sometimes. He's funny... looking... always.

His hopes and aspirations of the future is to one day find a way that people will pay him while he sleeps. It is his dream job.

Think a little deeper

Deep in thoughtI recently finished reading “Imager”, by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. I was impressed by just how much thought he put into his setting. Granted, Mr. Modesitt is an economist, but it’s clear he took the time to really think through the implications of his magic system in the book. Imagers, his version of wizards, are able to create items merely by picturing them in their minds, but the materials to create that item have to come from somewhere.

This detail is important to the story, but not only does Modesitt adequately establish this “rule”, he takes it a step or two further. We have people who can create complex substances, and with no more energy than solving a particularly difficult Sudoku.

What does this mean for his society? He takes the time to think it through and to educate us in the process. For one, Imagers are able to supplement the government’s coffers with the occasional small batch of metals difficult to make, for only the cost of the raw materials. But for another, if they use this ability too far it will actually ruin the country’s economy, draw undue attention to the imagers’ powers, and possibly turn the population against them. Modesitt thinks through the implications, going just another level or two deeper, and the story becomes stronger for it.

The idea of extrapolating just a level or two deeper applies to more than fantasy, of course. Some of the best moments in any genre come from taking an idea, exploring it superficially–to the level your audience is likely to–but thinking it through a little farther. You can uncover ramifications that, when your audience finally is led to make the same connection, can lead them into a genuine “Oh…crap” moment, one of the experiences we all long to provide our readers.

Take for example the movie “Sneakers”. Robert Redford’s character leads a team of rogue specialists who test companies’ security by attempting to break into it. It’s fun to watch them use their various methods to pull off the perfect heist, and we can feel good about their being the “good guys.”

And sure enough, before long the government shows up asking for their help. A brilliant mathematician has been hired by a foreign power to create the ultimate decryption system, and our lovable team of misfits needs to steal it from him before he can hand it over to America’s enemies. They go to work, and soon they’ve got the device, ready to hand it over to the NSA.
Sneakers
Then suddenly the mathematician winds up dead. Before long it’s become all to clear–it wasn’t the government that hired them. It was an unknown power trying to get the device from the real U.S. Government, and our heroes walked right it. The rest of the movie is all about getting themselves out of the mess they’ve made.

It’s a lot of fun, but I especially love the “Oh…crap” moment. It never occurred to me–just like it never occurred to them–that someone would use them and set them up like that. And yet it makes perfect sense, once we think to think about it. The scriptwriters took the time to think about it, and the result is one of the most fun heist movies I’ve ever seen.

Many of the coolest ideas in novels or film come from taking a cool idea and thinking a few more levels deep. Yes, we could have a good novel from the initial idea alone, but when you extrapolate a step or two farther that’s when the fun really begins and you have a great chance of surprising your reader. Whether it’s an “Oh…crap” moment, a plot twist, or just adding another layer of depth or realism to to your setting or situation, your readers will appreciate it.

You’re always bound to have a few readers who do take your ideas and extrapolate. If you show them that you already did that, too, they’ll respect you more as an author. If you can show them you not only thought that far,  but actually took it farther, you’ll keep them coming back for more.

So take the time to think things through. Play with the “what-ifs”. You may already have a good story idea, but taking it just a few steps farther could be what it takes to turn it into a great idea.

Thom Stratton

About Thom Stratton

Thom Stratton was born and raised in Idaho, and now lives in Utah with his Finnish wife, three amazing kids, three distinct cats, and a big, goofy dog. He works for a regional bank, and is part owner of a video game store. He enjoys writing, photography, war gaming, music, theater, building things, and reading. Though active in writing as a teen, he convinced himself it could never be a career. Decades later upon moving to Utah, where there’s something odd in the water, he has decided to get serious about writing. To date he has written five novels to be published posthumously by his greedy estate and is polishing a set of short stories to start submitting. Any day now…

Thinking Outside the Book: Unique Ways of Making Money As An Author

Photo by Vinicius Costa on Flickr

One of the biggest complaints I hear from aspiring authors is that there’s no money in it. I’ll admit, it’s no get-rich-fast career (thank heavens for that), but as creatives, there are so many ways to make it work. Whatever your genre, whatever your branch of writing, there are ways to make money at it. The ideas listed here are not intended to be comprehensive, but rather to get your creative juices flowing (you know you have them) in a direction you may not have considered. In other words, if you’ll use the creativity you use to come up with fascinating plots to come up with fascinating ways to make money writing, you’ll realize that writing is a very viable career.

Novels/Novellas:

  • Traditional or self publishing (the obvious one we all know about).
  • Have a paid subscription for your serialized book on your website.
  • Sell ebook chapters individually on your website.
  • Sell your audio book/chapters/articles on iTunes, Audible, and Amazon.
  • Sell paraphernalia from your fictional world, swords, costumes, food, games, “photos,” art, horticulture (plants grown on the planet–or you could get some unique potted plants and make bonsai-style arrangements with scenes from your story), wood carvings, toys, etc.
  • Use Transmedia

Short Stories:

  • Publish in magazines (the obvious one).
  • Talk to other short story authors and create an anthology together.
  • Talk to companies about sponsoring your short story featuring their product (like happens in Anne of Green Gables).
  •  Sell short stories as digital downloads on your website or blog.

Poetry

  • Publish a poetry book (the obvious one).
  • Team up with a musician to turn your poetry to music.
  • Sell lyrics online to songwriters.
  • Sell commissioned poems on your website. “Can you write a poem for me to give to my Grandma for her 75th birthday? Can you have it include stuff about her husband dying in the war, and her legacy of 55 grandchildren? Oh, and she loves Daffodils, if that helps.”
  • Have your poems printed on candy wrappers (chocolates, gum, etc).
  • Sell decorative plaques, meme posters, and cross-stitches with your poems printed on them.
  • Sell T-shirts, pillow cases, vases, mugs, or anything else you can put your poem on.
  • Do readings at storytellers conferences, fairs, and local holiday events, and sell your books or paraphernalia.

Nonfiction

  • Publish with a local or national publisher (the obvious one)
  • Start a website around the subject of your book, and sell your book on the site.
  • Teach community education classes around the subject of your book.
  • Create a shop, booth, or store around your book, it’s subject and audience.
  • Submit articles to magazines around your subject. I know authors who do this for a living, and their books have become a side thing.
  • Sign up for to teach an online video class. There are a number of sites that make this easy.
  • Offer private lessons or consulting.
  • Write for a number of local newspapers.

Try a bunch of things. Combine your interests to come up with really dynamic methods to make money doing what you love. Few things will work, it’s true, but if you find one or two that do, become the master of that approach. Then make more money training, teaching, and making resources for others to do the same thing. Remember that everyone is not going to like or have interest in your writing or your approach. They aren’t the ones you’re doing it for. Find a geek group that drools over your stuff and focus on them, ignoring everyone else.

What are some unique approaches you’ve tried or seen?

 

About Chas Hathaway

Chas is an author, musician, husband, dad, and X-grave digger. He's always enjoyed writing. He started keeping a daily journal when he was 13, and that started a pattern of regular writing that has continued to this day.

His first book, Giraffe Tracks, a memoir of his missionary experiences in South Africa, was published in 2010, and in July 2011, Cedar Fort published his book, Marriage is Ordained of God, but WHO Came Up with DATING?!

Chas has been playing piano since 1994, and actively writing New Age piano compositions since 1996. He has long felt that the greatest factor in the influence of a piece of music is the intent of its author. He has also written numerous LDS Hymn arrangements, many of which are available in sheet music, including the favorite hymns, If You Could Hie to Kolob and Come Thou Fount.

So far, Chas has 4 albums out:

Tune My Heart, Released 2012
Anthem of Hope, 2010
The Ancestor, 2009
Dayspring, 2007

While music and writing are his most time-consuming work, he also enjoys gardening, inventing games, and most of all, spending time with his beautiful wife and adorable little kids.

Finding the Aha Moment

Aha moments can come from just about anywhere; from dreams, to a scene that should have been in a movie-but wasn’t, even over hearing someone’s conversation at the grocery store. But for me, the greatest aha moments come from my children. Aha moments are when a writer stumbles upon an idea that is the backbone of a story. And if you write books for children, being around kids can create a lot of aha moments.

An example of just how little these moments can be is this: my daughter is three years old and loves just about anything to do with princesses and magic. One day she told me she wanted to read “Princess and the Frog” except that isn’t what I heard when she said it. I heard “Princess and the Hog” which got me thinking about a picture book about a very messy princess and a very clean hog. It was an unexpected aha moment. I wrote it out and now it is going to be a picture book.

Sometimes these sparks of a story can be like a whisper and other times like the boom of a marching band. When I had the aha moment for my ABC Adventure series I really had parades of animals with drums marching through my head. Again this aha came from my daughter. We were at the library and we were trying to find a picture book to borrow. She told me she wanted an ABC book about dragons. I did a search on the computer but yielded no results. She then asked me why there wasn’t a book like that. I responded, “Because I haven’t written it yet.”

Trigger: the AHA moment! By the time I left the library with her stack of books in tow, I had three ABC books in my head that I wanted to write. Currently I’ve planned for seven. Ranging from King Arthur to Halloween, even one on Cooking with Kids.

So watch out for those aha moments. They can be found anywhere. Good luck on your projects. Happy Writing!

Mikey Brooks

About Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is an award-winning author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His other middle-grade books include: The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis and The Stone of Valhalla. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie, and Bean’s Dragons. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com.