Wednesday, March 9, 2011

DIGGING DEEP … Unearthing Story Ideas From Your Own Backyard (and Giveaway!!)

What do ham, chicken and shaving cream have in common? Well, if you live in my brain—a scary place to be, for sure—you would know that it’s buried treasure dug up from the recesses of my mind. “Treasure” that will likely make its way into a story or scene in one of my books.

Julie here, and as a card-carrying CDQ (caffeinated drama queen), I tend to like my stories with lots of passion, drama and angst … uh, not unlike my personality, of course, which is sure to earn ‘treasure’ for my husband in heaven. But I digress …

As writers, we all want to create a stiff breeze—causing readers to turn the pages of our novels so fast that they get windburn. But what’s the best way to do that, to create scenes and stories that jump off the page? Well, when I was a single in my twenties, I hung out with girlfriends called Russ, Charlie and Ernie (Rusceilla, Charlotte, Ernestine), which not only made me sound pretty darn popular, but gave me a wealth of fun ideas and memories to draw upon when infusing more drama and fun into my stories or scenes.

For instance one of these friends had a habit of daydreaming, eyes trailing into a glazed stare in the middle of a conversation, which is not only a cute and quirky idea for a character, but prompted us to label these episodes of hers as OBEs or “out-of-body experiences.” Which is something each of us should be adept at giving our readers—not just “telling” a story, but giving the reader an OBE that will effectively transport them from their own reality into yours, where they become one with the characters.

How do I like to do that? Well, there are lots of ways to hook a reader in—great characters, great plot, roller-coaster tension, etc.—but today I want to focus on how to dig deep to come up with story ideas that can add drama, fun, quirk, insight, inspiration, emotion or anything else that will whoosh your reader out of their world into yours. An out-of-body experience that can translate into an out-of-pocket purchase of books that steal them away.

The number one way that I come up with ideas to make my stories or scenes sing is drawing from personal experience, something that scares the living daylights out of my husband. So much so, in fact, that the poor man won’t even read my Journal Jots on my website, the weekly blog I write to my reader friends. He claims he’s too afraid of what he might find, and … well, he’s probably right.

For instance, once I had a friend over for dinner who was telling my husband how much she loved A Passion Most Pure, and the conversation went something like this:

“I really loved the relationship between Marcy and Patrick,” she said to my husband, sipping her soda in my kitchen. “Except for the fight in the bedroom. I don’t know,” she said with a scrunch of her nose, “that just seemed pretty hard to believe.”

Without missing a beat, my husband took a deep breath and exhaled, upending his Diet Coke before giving her a dry smile. “Believe it,” he said calmly, no doubt reliving the horror of a young wife who went ballistic when he worked late one night at a studio that didn’t have a phone. All that angst, all that tension dug up out of my own backyard and plopped right into my very first love scene between an older couple whose love was now as real as it was strong. Real life, real emotions infused into every scene translate into real tension, not only fast-flipping a reader through a chapter or scene, but through an entire book as well.

Unfortunately for my husband, I do this a lot, such as using his nicknames for me as my heroes’ nicknames for their wives (i.e. Little Bit, Little Girl, etc.) or utilizing scenarios from our lives to add drama and depth to the lives of my characters. In fact, I tend to do this so much that once at a family reunion, I told Keith I was tired and wanted to go home. “Yeah, Keith,” my brother-in-law said to my husband with a wink, “you better get going—I think you’re chapter sixteen tonight!”

Although I LOVE drawing from personal experience to add drama, fun quirk or reality to my books, there are a wealth of other means to do this as well, and following are some the ways I’ve dug deep in order to come up with them:

1.) PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: I’ve talked about this above, but since it is my favorite way to pump up a scene, I decided to give you an example from my upcoming release A Heart Revealed that answers the question I posed above of “What do ham, chicken and shaving cream have in common?” You see, in A Heart Revealed, I have a scene between newlyweds Katie and Luke who hit their first bump in the road when Luke discovers Katie has enrolled in law school without his knowledge. Thinking she had abandoned her quest to be a lawyer to become a mother to his daughter, he is shocked to learn of what he views as her deceit. A fight ensues that takes him from an amorous homecoming to sleeping alone on the couch.

To infuse more drama and reality into the scene (and fun), I borrowed a situation from my own life where Keith and I got into a fight over a ham at the grocery store when we were newlyweds. Like Katie in the scene at the end of this blog, once I cooled down, I tried to tease my husband out of his anger by putting his shaving cream on the floor in the hall instead of putting it away. Suffice it to say that except for a ham becoming a chicken, Katie and Luke’s situation is grounded in reality where all the emotion and drama comes from the fertile ground of personal experience. As mentioned, if you have the patience to get all the way through this somewhat lengthy post, the scene can be found at the end of this blog.

2.) Geneology: Family background and stories are another excellent way to dig up great ideas. My Aunt Julie is Irish, so it was a lot of fun borrowing ideas, traditions and expressions from the wealth of her past. Expressions like “Oh, go on with you, now,” or “the pig roots out the money,” helped to add an Irish flair that gave my dialogue a little more authenticity.

3.) DREAMS: Probably the best example of this is Stephanie Meyer, whose entire “Twilight” series stemmed from a dream she had. I’ve talked to many authors who have said the same thing, that some of their best inspiration and ideas have come in the middle of the night when their head is on the pillow.

4.) THE BIBLE: Francine Rivers’ epic novel Redeeming Love is perhaps one of the best examples of digging deep into the Bible for story ideas. Based on the prophet Hosea who marries a prostitute because God commands it, Ms. Rivers transforms this Biblical account into a riveting drama set in the 1850 Gold Rush era. Another example is my all-time favorite, Liz Curtis Higgs' “Lowlands of Scotland Series.” This dramatic account of Jacob working seven years to marry Rachel, only to have her father trick him into marriage with her older sister Leah is a masterful and truly unique rendition of this biblical story, beautifully set in 1700 Scotland.

5.) SONGS: This is a big one for me, as I feel songs cannot only embellish a historical setting by incorporating popular songs from that specific era, but the lyrics themselves can help shape and mold the mood of key scenes. I’ve actually used this a lot in my upcoming release A Heart Revealed.

6.) BOOKS: Well, right off the bat, I have to give credit to Margaret Mitchell whose masterpiece novel Gone With the Wind not only inspired me as a twelve-year-old to write 150 single-spaced pages of my own novel (which became the basis for my debut novel A Passion Most Pure some 40 years later), but has been a kind of a romance template as to what I want to incorporate in my own books. But my digging deeper doesn’t just end with GWTW. Just last week I was desperate to come up with three new plots for my next 3-book proposal and I hit a snag. Guess where I ended up? Yep, standing in front of my bookcase, browsing hundreds of books I have read for a trigger of an idea, a plot, a direction. All of a sudden, an idea from one book would merge with another and before I was through, I had a unique direction and plot triggered by several books, but unique all on its own.

7.) FAIRY-TALES: This is a stellar source of ideas for plots and scenes, and if you don’t believe me, just ask Melanie Dickerson, whose wonderful YA novel The Healer’s Apprentice—a medieval tale loosely based on Sleeping Beauty—is nothing short of magical.

8.) NEWSPAPERS/TV NEWS: This is another great springboard for a wealth of wonderful ideas utilized by many authors, including our own Ruth Logan Herne, whose powerful stories are often a pulse beat away from the headlines of current events.

9.) PHOTO ALBUMS: Oh, man, what a blast I have looking through my 92-year-old aunt’s photo albums!! I’ll see a picture of three couples at a wedding, and ask who they are, and WHOA, BABY, can you get some great stories and ideas from a simple picture. Or just let your imagination roam while you browse, and you will be amazed with what you can come up with.

10.) MESSAGE BOARDS/SUPPORT BLOGS/PERSONAL ADS: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve researched something on various support blogs or even browsed the want ads, personal ads or message boards and have come up with an idea from comments left on blogs or situations wanted in newspaper ads.

11.) TV SHOWS/COMMERCIALS/MOVIES: This one speaks for itself because the visual medium provides a hotbed of great ideas. A storyline which you change or add a twist, or just play the what-if game—moving eras, locales, characters, scenarios around like chess pieces on a board.

12.) THE DICTIONARY: I know this is going to sound crazy, but once I wrote an entire story based on a word I found in the dictionary, and just last week, I needed ideas for a title, so I poured over the pages of the dictionary until I came up with tons of great ideas, not only for titles, but story ideas too!!

Trust me, this is just a tiny glimpse of the many ways you can dig deep to find hidden treasure right in your own backyard. So, roll up your sleeves and let’s dig up some more dirt on the best ways to unearth great ideas. Leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway for a signed copy of any of my books, including my upcoming release A Heart Revealed. If you leave a comment AND a new source of finding story ideas, you will not only be entered for a signed copy of one of my books, but an additional prize of a top CBA book as well.

Without further ado, I give you a scene from A Heart Revealed, which hopefully, will illustrate that digging deep in the soil of one’s own backyard is one of the most effective ways to get down and dirty in stealing your readers’ heart.

“Katie?” Luke tucked a finger to her chin. “Why did you go to the bank?”

She wriggled off his lap and stood to her feet, her breathing compromised considerably. “Because … I … well, I needed the money.”

He blinked. “Money? For what?”

She hefted her chin, steeling her nerve, but a lump still caught in her throat. She swallowed it and met his gaze head-on, her body as tense as when she’d broken curfew with Father. “For law school,” she whispered. “First-semester payment was due today.”

He stared, mouth slacking open. The deep tan in his face faded several shades, highlighting the spray of freckles across his sculpted nose. “Law school?” he repeated, his voice as raspy and thick as if the chocolate pie he’d devoured was lodged in his throat. He rose to his feet while a muscle twittered in a jaw of rock. “Tell me you’re joking.”

Katie took a step back, one hand braced to the chair for support as her eyes pleaded with his. “You knew from the very beginning that law school was my dream.”

He slammed his chair in, his voice hard. “That was before I made you my wife, Katie, the mother to my child. Not once since I put that ring on your finger have you mentioned anything about law school.”

“Luke, I know this is a shock—”

“A shock?” He jerked his plate and fork from the table and practically hurled them into the dishwater, sloshing water all over the sink. He turned and ripped the tie from his neck, singeing her with a glare. “No, Katie, this is more like getting slammed with a blunt object.”

His temper ignited hers. “You’re being ridiculous; this is not a big deal.”

Not a big deal?” His brows lifted to a dangerous level. “You take money we don’t have, then lie to me about law school—”

“I didn’t lie!”

He fisted the tie and took a step closer. “You deceived me, Katie—it’s the same thing. You’re my wife, for pity’s sake—we’re supposed to make these decisions together.”

“Would you have said yes?” Her chin jerked up.

“Are you crazy? No, I wouldn’t have said yes. You have no business in law school. You have a daughter to care for, a part-time job at the BCAS, and we don’t have the money.”

She sucked in a deep breath, willing herself to be calm. “Lizzie’s agreed to watch Kit five days a week, and you know yourself Carmichael plans to trim the payroll.”

“And the money?” he asked, his voice as cool as the chicken bleeding on the counter. He braced hands on his hips, forearms strained with muscles.

The words on her tongue thickened, hesitant to part from her lips. “It’s Parker’s,” she whispered, feeling the heat swarm in her cheeks at the mention of Luke’s best friend whom she almost married. “From the account he set up for me when he broke our engagement.”

His eyes flickered in hurt, as if she’d just swung that blunt object he mentioned right at his head. And then in a slow blink of his lids, his gaze hardened to ice and his jaw went rigid, shadowed with bristle that made him all the more ominous. “I see. Well, you sure know how to kill a mood, Katie Rose.”

“Luke, this can work, I promise.”

“No, it can’t … because I won’t allow it.”

A harsh breath heaved still in her throat. “Excuse me? You won’t allow it?” She slapped hands on her hips and leaned in. “In case you forgot, this isn’t the BCAS and you’re not my boss.”

He moved close, hovering over her like impending doom. “I’m your husband, Katie Rose,” he said in a tone as tight as the muscles in his face. “What I say goes.”

“Over-my-dead-body,” she enunciated, incensed at the crick in her neck as she seared him with a look.

If … necessary.” He ground out the words between clenched teeth.

She spun on her heel and stomped to the counter, snatching a knife and cutting board from the drawer to hack at the chicken. Heaven help me, I married a Neanderthal. She stabbed the poultry with the blade, sawing it into pieces with her husband in mind. Down the hall she heard the bathroom door slam and the shower turn on, and she was sorely tempted to steal his water pressure by turning the kitchen spigot full force.

He’s just tired. Guilt slithered in, as slick as the chicken grease now coating her hand. A thought flitted through her mind, and her knife stilled on the chicken, embedded deep in a thigh. A smile tugged at her lips. “Of course! I’ll tease him out of it like I do when he’s a grump.”

She glanced down the hall at the sliver of light beneath the bathroom door and grinned. Yes, a cool shower would calm him down, but hopefully not enough to cool the passion she’d seen in his eyes. Rinsing her hands, she quickly dried them off and reached for the tube of Barbasol shaving cream she’d bought him from Woolworths. A grin tipped her lips as she placed it in the middle of the hall floor rather than waiting to put it away in the bathroom, almost giddy at the prospect of his response over her little “tease.” Humming to herself, she finished cutting the chicken and sealed it into two butcher-wrapped packets. She paused, noting the shower had stopped, then smiled and hefted a package of chicken into the icebox. Singing her favorite song, she reached for the second packet. “Five foot two, eyes of blue, but oh, what those five foot could do. Has anybody seen my—”

A massive hand clamped on her wrist, and she gasped. The chicken in her hand plummeted to the floor in a dull splat as she broke free and spun around. He stood barefoot, striped pajama bottoms and muscled chest bare, blond hair dark and spiked from his shower. “Pick it up,” he breathed. A spasm twittered in the hard line of his jaw. “Now, please.” With a heated gaze fused to hers, he jabbed a stiff finger toward the Barbasol in the middle of the hall floor. The deadly voice held a note of pleading, although his features could have been sculpted in stone. “Pick it up, Katie.”

“No, you pick it up,” she quipped, her smile suddenly fading at the fury in his eyes. “Luke, I was just teas—”

“I said, pick it up—now,” he repeated, his face as white as the paper-wrapped chicken now lying on the floor. Body quivering, she did as he asked, and when she rose, he snatched the tube from her hand. Without another word, he stormed down the hall and entered their room, then left once again with pillow and sheet in hand.

She followed him to the parlor, her heart in her throat. “Luke, it was just a joke, the shaving cream in the hall, I promise. Can’t we talk this out, please?”

He hurled the bedding on the sofa before striding to the window to jerk up the sash, muscled arms bulging with the motion. “The time for talking is long past, Katie,” he said in a harsh tone. “Go to bed.”

“But, Luke—”

“I said … go to bed.” He stilled her with a look, the clench of his words as tight as the tension in the room.

She blinked, fighting the sting of tears in her eyes. She’d only seen him like this one other time—the night Parker had walked out on them both. Hard, cold, angry … and hurt. She shivered and backed away, well aware that nothing she could say would soften him tonight. “I love you, Luke,” she whispered “Good-night.”

Katie returned to the kitchen, the heave of a sob in her chest as she put the groceries away. Her lips quivered when she spied the package of chicken on the floor, and she closed her eyes, hand to her mouth. What have I done? She sagged against the counter and began to pray, not sure when Luke would forgive her or even when he would speak to her again. And at the moment, she had no earthly idea if she would even see law school in the fall.

But … there was one thing of which she was absolutely certain. She swiped the tears from her eyes and bent to put the chicken away, a cold realization shaking her to the core.

The honeymoon was definitely over.

162 comments :

  1. Oh my gosh Julie what a scene! I hate when you tease like this LOL, it reminds me how long I have to wait to read this! Ugh! Hahaha I still love ya though. ;-)

    I think you just about covered the bases with where to come up with story ideas and inspiration but I like to look around my own neighborhood. Towns like mine have rich histories that I think anybody can draw from. If you look at an old church or an old building that can really get the creative juices flowing IMO! Old cemeteries are great places to do that too, just a name or an inscription on a gravestone can inspire that story!

    XOXO~ Renee

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  2. Goodness, I've gotten my ideas so far from dreams, other books, old newspapers, songs, and personal experience which you've covered.

    I have gotten two ideas by playing the What If game with my own life.

    My newest one happened while nursing my son. When you can't do anything except maybe read a book (and at the moment the current read while nursing book is A Passion Redeemed, wow, that was good timing for this comment!) I let my imagination wander, esp. while feeding in the middle of the night, thinking about what if my child did this? or what if my husband came home and told me this? etc.

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  3. hi!!! loved what you wrote so far!!! things that i use for inspiration are newspapers from other countries...i like to look at the editorials and entertainment pages. i also like to people watch. i sit and try to make up a story about why someone is wearing something they are wearing . or i might watch a couple talking and just by watching their body language try to figure out what is going on...hope this helps and helps get me some goodies!!! love your work!!!

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  4. JULIE!!!!!!!! I HAVE THAT T-SHIRT.

    And I hate to make everyone here GREEN WITH EVNY but I just started reading Julie's next book, A Heart Revealed tonight. That's right, I have it in my hot little hands.

    That's not absolutely true, my hands aren't that little...and honestly they're of a normal temperature.

    Still, I've got the book!!!!

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  5. Goodness! I can't wait to read this book! Another possible source for book ideas could be your pastor's sermons. Though they are based from the Bible, the additional commentary they give by using illustrative stories from their own lives and people they have come across can really spark your imagination.

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  6. Hi Julie:

    I’m a little concerned. Katie and Luke had their book. I thought “A Heart Revealed” would be the oldest son and the battered wife’s love story. What’s the deal?

    I also suggest these places to generate story ideas:

    Museums
    old cemeteries
    walking battlefields
    courthouse records (old deeds, liens, suits)
    visiting old forts (very interesting)
    talking to old, lonely people in parks and nursing homes
    volunteer organizations literature
    visiting re-enactor events
    go to Medieval Fairs & Renaissance Fairs
    Continuing education course catalogues
    Visit the county medical examiners office (some give tours)
    Spend a day at the court house watching trials
    Go to hobby events like model airplane flying
    Go to a balloon event
    Go to a experimental airplane fly-in
    Go to a bluegrass festival

    Since you worked on “A Passion Most Pure”, for forty years, when did you write the opening lines:

    “Sisters are overrated, she decided. Not all of them, of course, only the beautiful ones who never let you forget it.”

    This does sound like a teenager wrote it.

    I think you inspire long posts! : )

    Vince

    vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

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  7. Love your blog, Julie!

    I attended a baptism Sunday and got the idea for a new story about a....

    Maybe I better write the book before I share the details. :)

    I believe a writer can take any bit of information or setting and turn it into a story. Don't you agree?

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  8. Julie~

    These are amazing. In my "Novel Ideas" file on my computer are stories that fit several of these categories...

    SONGS: My current WIP "Give My Love to Rose" was inspired by a Johnny Cash song by the same name. The two books that round out the series flow naturally from the characters in the first book who simply demand their stories be told.

    BIBLE: I have the notion of telling the story of Dinah, Jacob's daughter. All we know about her is that she's "defiled," and her brothers kill an entire tribe of people over it. The Bible never finishes her story. I also have an idea for a modern series loosly based on the lives of Peter, Paul, and Mary (Which Mary? you ask. Well, I'm not sure yet. That's part of the fun).

    FAMILY: My husband's maternal grandparents had a wonderful love story around the time of WWII. Someday I'd like to adapt it into a novel.

    BOOKS: "What if this couple had a daughter, and she did this?" Was a question I asked about one of my favorite books, and it grew into a story idea.

    DREAMS: A woman goes off on her own, after an argument, to a room in a remote part of a large house. Of course, she doesn't tell anyone where she is going, and then falls asleep. She wakes to the sound of people calling her name and realizes that she has slept for hours. She emerges to the sight of the hero barreling down the hall toward the room. Boy is he mad when he sees her! (I had to write it down because I was forgetting pieces after I woke up.)

    One of these stories is actually started. The rest are still merely "Novel Ideas." This post has me itching to work on them, though.

    I'd love to win a book.

    andeemarie95 at gmail dot com

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  9. Great Scene, and Post Julie,

    I can honestly say I draw from nothing but my vivid imagination.

    Okay so that gets fed from a gazillion places.

    Like from many of the places on your list and those others have posted. I glean from cemetaries and the obituaries too.

    They are great for names and if you read the memories you can come up with some pretty cool info to use.

    I dig alot from my past and my marriage as well. I have four sisters and that gives me a virtual gold mine.

    Blessings
    Tina

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  10. Melissa, I think nursing is a great time to do plot work, too! And Vince, I swear I've gotten some really, really great lines from old folks at the nursing home we visit. One lady told me once, 'well, I wasn't sittin' on the bedpost, but I heard a story...' I loved that line!
    I like to eavesdrop on conversations (not in a weird way, but in line at the store) and sometimes the little snippets really sound interesting and dramatic. :)
    Julie- I just bought A Hope Undaunted at my Christian bookstore and it was the last one of yours they had left! I always read and then donate to the library, so it'll be in there collection for everyone else to read very soon!

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  11. Lady DragonKeeperMarch 9, 2011 at 2:14 AM

    ... And we're supposed to wait until the fall??? Minus the pre-readers ... *cough*Mrs.Connealy*cough* =P

    @ Mr. Vince - Aw, leave some ideas for the rest of us ... just kidding. =) I think maybe Ms. Julie picked a Luke/Katie scene because they're already established from previous books, so it's not as much of a "spoiler"?
    Actually, I like that we still find out what happens after with all the O'Connor siblings and their spouses (and Marcy and Patrick) ... poor Steve, how will we find out what happens to him after his book? =)

    Hmm ... I once wrote a story based on an old Ed Sullivan show clip of the Beatles' first performance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9Vvup0fock =) In the audience at 1:14, you see this boy covering his ears because of all the screaming the teenage girls surrounding him are doing ... so I thought, "What was he doing there? Did he just want to listen to his new favorite band? Was he a boyfriend or brother of one of the girls there?"

    Thanks for the chance to win! =)

    jafuchi7[at]hawaii[dot]edu

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  12. Wow! So many wonderful places to go in search of story ideas in your post today, Julie, as well as in the comments. I'm feeling inspired!

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  13. *fanning self*
    Julie!
    Gracious
    making us wait til then are you?
    sheeshh...

    Meaty (ahem) post as usual... Thanks.

    Hilarious too, as usual - and Mary's comments make it more so.

    Seekerville should definitely start its own tee shirt line, don't you think?!

    Ah Vince - splendid additions.

    I was wondering about eBay... Such a source of inspiration. I mean - think about just categorizing all that STUFF first of all, then how did it get put up on eBay? So so many stories. :)

    may at maythek9spy dot com

    It's snowing here. arg. I'm ready for spring...

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  14. See, this is why I need to go back to work full-time . . . because I'm running out of unique story ideas!

    Let's see, where do I unearth ideas?

    Well, from movies: The idea for Stand-In Groom came to me when I first saw The Wedding Planner---because I didn't like the fact that for the movie to have a happy ending, the wedding planner had to break up the engaged couple.

    From TV shows: The idea for a hero who's a chef who ends up on TV (Menu for Romance) came from my addiction to Food Network. Oh, and his name, Major, came from my family genealogy, as did many other names in my books. (And then there are all the names I haven't been able to use, because I have such a large---and close-knit---extended family.)

    From "falling in love" with actors (in certain roles, usually): The idea for The Ransome series came from my falling irrevocably in love with Paul McGann as Lt. William Bush in the Horatio Hornblower movies---stemming from Horatio's wedding at which Bush tells him he doesn't believe there's ever a good time to get married. So, of course, my imagination started coming up with a heroine who would turn that attitude on its head!

    Dreams: I have many, many documents in the Ideas folder on my computer with story summaries that have come from my very vivid dreams.

    Conversations: The first piece I ever worked on for more than a few thousand words---ten years and more than 200k---came about when my college best friend and I were talking about all of our friends and acquaintances (and the guys we each liked) one day and she said the immortal words, "I wonder where we'll all be in five years." (You should warn your nonwriter friends to never say these words to you!)

    From personal experience: The scene in Love Remains when Zarah goes to talk to the pastor about the singles ministry . . . let's just say the editor had to work with me quite a bit on that one to pull its tone down---after so many years, I hadn't realized I still carried so much emotion about that issue and my own personal run-in with someone in a leadership position at a church that didn't understand or respect the need for what we were doing in the singles ministry.

    And in my next book, The Art of Romance, the heroine is a romance novelist. So LOTS of personal experience went into writing her character!

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  15. Oh my, Jules. You packed a heavy hammer this time, my friend! Passion, pathos...

    I loved reading everyone's take on their ideas. Where they get them, how they twist them. A writer's mind is a FRIGHTENING PLACE TO BE...

    Visit at your own risk.

    Vince, great list.

    Like most o' youse, mine come from random places and then get layered. Snips of music, Country songs, overheard conversations, visuals...

    I think a tiny scene I spotted at a tiny Memorial Day parade will become a 2012 novel for LI, because that one glimpse was enough to paint a whole series of what-ifs???

    Love this. I've made coffee but I'm doing extra duty at work today so I brought the Keurig along. That way folks can help themselves. Italian Sweet Cream and Vanilla Caramel to add a hinted delight.

    And cheese strudel from Allegany County. :)

    Yum!

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  16. Cheese strudel? Yum! Thanks, Ruthy!

    Has anyone seen Helen? I'll check the coffee pot.

    Wonderful ideas from everyone today.

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  17. Oh my goodness, well to start, I just want to say how much I love your books! When I first started reading them, I borrowed the second one from my friend and I ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting cause I just had to know how it ended! It was so riveting! So of course I had to read all the rest of them! All your books just have a way of grabbing on to you emotionally, the writing is just phenomenal! Ok, now to my idea of ways to get inspiration for stories. When I'm out and about by myself or with someone, it doesn't matter really, I like to people watch. And when I see couples together, no matter what age, I like to create there love story in my head. I give them backgrounds and their own struggles just on my impression on how they look and act with each other. Its fun for me but you could totally take one of those little stories and expand them into books!

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  18. Wow, Julie, that's a powerful scene!!!! Can't wait to read the book!!

    Thanks for the dips for digging up ideas for our books. Not sure a dictionary would do all that for me, but I'm going to check it out.

    Love the T-shirt!

    Hugd, Janet

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  19. Great post, Julie and awesome scene!

    I've gotten ideas from sermons and overheard conversations (purely by accident I assure you, yeah right). But one of my favorites is taking stories told by my grandparents and parents and twisting them into a story.

    --Kirsten

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  20. Oh wow. What an amazing scene, Julie! I cannot wait to read the whole book!!

    Blessings
    Michelle V

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  21. Julie,

    I have that t-shirt too!

    I use events or emotions that I've gleaned from real life. Of course, I tweak them to work them into my plot line. : )

    Nice post.

    RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

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  22. Julie, I'm with Renee. You are such a tease. Not only here but in your novels as well. smile

    But who doesn't love a tease?

    Great list of idea sources and Vince you added quite a few good ones as well.

    I brought bagels and a selection of cream cheeses from Einsteins.

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  23. KBishop:
    Such a tease! . . . How much longer must we wait for the next book?

    Thanks for the entertaining read. While inspiration may be grounded in reality . . it's the escape from it that some of us enjoy.

    I always enjoyed hearing the stories of senior relatives about their early lives and stories they'd been told about their ancestors. I learned about my great grandmother Sarah Morningstar, an American Indian who died young from blood poisoning from a splinter. I was recently reminded of my English Grandmothers nervous habit of flipping her one bottom false tooth with her tongue making it bounce in her mouth. She was very beautiful so it seemed like such an unusual behavior - - but as a grandchild, it was just cool.

    I also will never forget my Dad (whose mental state continued to decline over his last 4 years) share stories about his day. I'll never know if he was reliving his past or creating a new reality. He'd go on and on about riding in cars with his buddies, going dancing, running track and playing sports in his high school phase. He boasted proudly about his beautiful wife who would always be 19 years old. He loved his job at Brown Shoe and tried to go there often .. and usually around 4am.

    I love being reminded by brothers and sisters of childhood escapades.

    With Facebook and rekindling old friendships, I've accessed memories that had been long forgotten.

    Wherever inspiration is found, the past, present or dreams for the future; we are all better for it.

    Have a great day

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  24. 'MORNIN', ALL!!! I hope y'all wore your dirtiest and "holiest" (many of us are Inspirational writers, after all!) clothes to meander out into the backyard and dig up new ideas!! I'm still scraping mud off my boots from trekking out into my backyard, but OH, the treasure one finds!!

    This morning we're going to eat light because my husband mentioned he was going to get a donut tomorrow on his way to a business appt., and I've been dreaming donuts ALL NIGHT LONG!! I'm a bit of a donut freak, which is NOT good when you are 5'3" and small bone!!

    So, belly up to the donut bar where we have warm cake donuts with chocolate and vanilla icing, bear claws, cinnamon-glazed crullers and cheese danish with PLENTY of cinnamon hazelnut coffee and your choice of tea. If I didn't mention your favorite donut, let me know and we'll remedy for you. And for those who need their protein fix, slabs of maple-cured bacon and scrambled eggs run through the garden ... or, uh, in this case, the "backyard"! :)

    Happy Wednesday, all, and HAPPY DIGGING!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  25. RENEE!!! Story to do that, sweetie, but that's my way of appeasing myself until the book comes out ... seeing snippets kind of reminds and revs me for what's up ahead, so I'm glad it does the same for you. Gosh, I hope it will be worth it ... And town histories, old churches and cemeteries are OUTSTANDING places to dig up dirt, so GOOD JOB, Renee!!

    MELISSA!!! WOW, I'll say that's "good timing," girl -- I'm impressed!! The only time that happened to me was in an airport where I ran in to Deb Raney after an ACFW conference and I and another friend sat down and chatted for a few minutes with her. I got the biggest kick out of stopping the conversation midway to tell Deb that I was sorry, but I just had to get back to my book because it was so good and then proceeded to pull her half-finished novel out of my purse. SOOOO fun!!!

    Anway, THANK YOU for reading Redeemed, and I'm thinking Charity will give you a few "ideas," but I can't guarantee they will be very good ones ... And I NEVER thought of playing "what if" with my own life!! Unless you count the time I thought "what if I were Scarlett O'Hara ..." :) Thanks for the suggestion and good luck in the contest!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  26. Enjoyed the post, Julie!

    I think everyone's covered most of the ways to get ideas already. I did read a book about Nora Roberts that said her books often have themes about current-day issues. Like in the beginning, she would have characters dealing with two-income marriages.

    It's been awhile, but I think that's one example. I found that interesting.

    I'd love to win the book.

    cathy underscore shouse at yahoo dot com

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  27. I've got a box of donuts sittin' right here!

    Where do ideas come from? Pretty much all those places, I supposed.

    I wrote a 5K story based on the song 'He didn't have to be' once. Then used it as a backstory for something insanely longer. Not that they'll ever come out of the drawer...

    Book 5 in the series I've got going now is inspired by a book I read. I'd been planning on it then realized that the little sister in books 1-3 was perfect for it.

    If you look at my Facebook page you'll see a picture of my 5yo daughter. That's bound to find it's way into something sometime ;).

    My kids have found or are finding their way in. A few things with DH have.

    A friend is writing a Sleeping Beauty adaptation. She got on Mellie's influencer list for her new one and is way excited =D.

    I need that shirt.

    And I need the shovel.

    So no one can find Mary when I have to bury her to get a hold of AHR.

    Wish I'd get to hang out here more today cuz Julie days are fun! But I have to clean like crazy to get ready for the trip to Denver next week - the rest of this week is crazy and we leave Saturday... You guys are infinitely more fun ;).

    carol at carolmoncado dot com

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  28. NIKKI ... thanks SO much for your kind comment, my friend -- MUCH appreciated. And "people watching" should have been first or second on the list because it is one of the BEST ways to get ideas. Gosh, I never thought of newspapers from other countries, but that sounds pretty fascinating, so GREAT suggestion!

    MARY!!! Oh, man, now I'm sweating bullets, girl, and my nails will be down to the nubs. Maggie Brendan freaked me out when she told me she received it yesterday and didn't know I had written War and Peace -- she said it was 700 pages. I know it's a little longer than Undaunted, but come on, 700 pages??? It's kind of funny that I'm reading your book while you're reading mine ... LOVING Wrangler in Petticoats so far. Logan is such a GREAT and different hero!! Sooo much fun!!

    EMY ... LOVE that name, by the way, as that is what I call Emma Malloy in A Heart Revealed several times and I just love the sound of it! Oh, GOOD ONE -- pastors' sermons are a WONDERFUL way to get ideas and I've done this myself. In fact, some of my best ideas have come during my pastor's sermons, which is why my bulletin is always scribbled up each week! Of course, one could also be accused of daydreaming during church ... :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  29. Oh - speaking of using the Bible as a reference for ideas...

    If you haven't checked out Jill Eileen Smith's The Wives of King David yet, you need to. I reviewed the first two on my blog today - Michal and Abigail - and started Bathsheba yesterday. She's got 'The Wives of the Patriarchs' coming up and I can't wait for those either :).

    Me? Oh yeah. Historicals? Not so much. But if I could find a way to take a story like Marcia Schyler [Grace Livingston Hill] and make it contemporary? I so would!

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  30. VINCE ... calm down, my friend, this is primarily a book about Emma and Sean, but as always, I can't resist torturing the rest of the clan, ESPECIALLY the couple from the last book!! In fact, believe it or not, my editor had me pump up/increase Katie and Luke's scenes for that very reason, which I did. And, of course, in true keeping with my agent's emphasis on "moral premise," A Heart Revealed is a book about honesty, and Katie and Luke's story fits in very nicely with that theme.

    And, WHOA, BUDDY, what a list!!! I think we can all go home now because you just about covered it, my friend! I think you may be right -- I may inspire long posts!!

    As far as the first lines from A Passion Most Pure, the line I wrote from the first manuscript when I was twelve were:

    Patrick O'Connor was dead. Yet the sky hadn't altered it's azure hue, nor had the birds retired their chant so familiar to the city in the spring.

    When I started to rewrite A Passion Most Pure forty years later, my first line was:

    Faith O'Connor would have given anything to trade places with her sister. To be the second rather than the firstborn … or at the very least, the firstborn of a mother who didn't cling to the catechism of the Holy Mother Church in the naming of her offspring!

    As you can see, my first and second attempts were pretty pathetic, so after many drafts, I changed the first line to what it is today:

    “Sisters are overrated, she decided. Not all of them, of course, only the beautiful ones who never let you forget it.”

    And, uh ... it SOUNDS like a teenager wrote it because, in fact, I am a delinquent who has never grown up!! :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  31. JULES!!!


    Another workshop in a box.

    So when you retire from writing you can tour and do nothing but workshops and conferences.

    Insist upon a limo and chocolate at every appearance.

    Please let me know when you are hiring so I can apply for your virtual assistant position!

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  32. DEB, YES, I do agree that a writer can take any bit of information or setting and turn it in to a story! I can't remember the name of the book where a ton of Inspirational writers joined together to each write their own short story that I think began with the line, "It was a dark and stormy night," but that's proof that writers are born with a fertile mind and imagination that can take them anywhere at anytime!

    ANDREA!!! WOW, girl, you have some stellar ideas, there, for sure, ALL of them, so no wonder this post got you itching to go! I don't know if you have ever read the bestseller, The Red Tent, but it deals with Dinah's story in a very unique way that shot it to the bestseller list a few years ago, so you may want to check it out. I didn't care for it, personally as I like my romance warm and intimate, which I didn't find this novel to be, but apparently tons of other people did!!

    TINA!!! We sound a lot alike as I mostly glean from my own life as well, especially since like you, I have a "gold mine" of ideas being one of thirteen kids (ten girls!!) in a VERY volatile and passionate family!! Aren't we lucky???

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  33. Great scene, Julie!!!

    And you are so sweet to put me in your blog post! AWWW!!!

    Yes, I love drawing from fairy tales. The book I'm working on now is a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs story, tentatively titled Sophie and the Seven--but it's mostly about the romance between "Snow White" and the "prince" who saves her from her evil stepmother the "queen." But I also like to draw from classic love stories. I like to get the gist of the chemistry, if you will, from Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet. I'm inspired by them, but I don't try to duplicate them, if that makes sense.

    I don't like to draw so directly from my life experiences as you do, Julie! LOL! I'm kind of ... I don't know ... shy about people thinking I'm using my own experiences in my books, so if I use them, they are changed greatly.

    Lately I've been getting inspired by listening to Taylor Swift's love songs, especially Love Song and Enchanted. It's amazing the great ideas that come to me! So when I'm in the car driving alone, I listen to those two songs. Very inspiring, let me tell you!

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  34. Oh yes, and I just happen to be wearing my Be Careful or I'll put you in my Novel shirt today!

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  35. Always love to read your posts. Glad I saw this through the ACFW Book Club. Just recently found songs helping inspire the emotions in certain scenes. Loved all the other ideas, too. I try to use those pesky terrible life situations and my reactions as a catharsis. Just not all of them, LOL!

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  36. VIRGINIA ... thank you, my friend, for buying AHU -- MUCH appreciated!! And thank you, too, for donating it to the library when you are done -- you are a real sweetheart!! LOL, the lady's line from the nursing home that "'well, I wasn't sittin' on the bedpost, but I heard a story...' is EXACTLY what I am talking about here -- PERFECT example of taking real life and infusing it in to our stories. You just HAVE to use that line, Virginia, somewhere in your work, okay?

    LDK!!! SO fun to see you here, my friend, and thanks for defending me to Vince! :) Actually, I used that particular scene because it illustrates perfectly my point of pulling something from one's life to enrich or make a scene more dramatic. I could have just had a scene where Katie and Luke fight verbally, but it's so much more fun and detailed to add a chicken and some shaving cream, which provided a perfect springboard for tense, tight dialogue with a touch of humor!! I LOVE your keen observation about the little boy on the Ed Sullivan clip -- I'd say you are a BORN writer if that piqued your curiosity, so take it somewhere, okay? Good luck in the contest, Jen.

    KELI ... as far as I'm concerned, the comments are where it's at today -- I've gotten VERY INSPIRED with all the places people are coming up with to glean ideas, which is exactly what I hoped to do today, so YAY!!

    HUGS,
    Julie

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  37. LOVE that last line! "The honeymoon was over."

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  38. LOVE that last line! "The honeymoon was over."

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  39. Wow, loved this post, Julie. I needed a Julie fix this morning!! Can't wait for the book to be out; if this is a giveaway, please enter me. Love the t-shirt!! Have a great day!!

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  40. Oooo, KC ... EBAY!!! Great suggestion, my friend, which also tells me you spend some quality Net time either buying or selling, right? And you're fanning yourself over a scene with nary a kiss??? (Although there are a couple of VERY nice kisses in this scene prior to the confrontation, I will say.) Then I guess I've accomplished my job of infusing romantic tension into this scene, I hope? And snowing??? It's SNOWING where you are??? For some reason I thought you lived in Springfield with Carol M, but you can't be there because we have 45 degrees in St. Loo, and Springfield is usually warmer than that ...

    KAYE!!! How fun to see you here, my friend, and WHOA, you got a wealth of digging holes there, girl, all REALLLLY good! I especially like the one about your girlfriends' statement in college, "I wonder where we'll all be in five years." THAT is pure gold when it comes to dredging up ideas, and I have to admit, your books show a wide range of imagination and fun ideas for plots and characters!! Thanks for dropping by.

    Oh, man, RUTHY -- cheese strudel??? I will eat ANYTHING with either peaches or cheese (the sweet cheese danish kind of cheese) on it, so you had me at "cheese." And honestly, Ruthy, I have NEVER seen anyone come up with more ideas from more places than you, my friend, judging from all your posts on our Seeker loop. I swear, somebody can yawn on the street, and it germinates an idea for you, seriously, which just goes to show that your brain is a breeding ground for snazzy ideas and snark -- a great combination, by the way!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  41. WOW, TAYLOR, you just may have made my day today with that glowing comment about my books -- BLESS YOU, my sweet friend, for your encouragement! Cannot BELIEVE you read A Passion Redeemed in one sitting, but then I wrote it in WAY less time than any of my other books (almost 500 pages written in approximately one month of writing time vs. my usual 6-9 months), so if it pulled me through the writing process that fast, I guess it's not too surprising the reading process might go quickly too. I'll blame it on Mitch (sigh), one of my all-time favorite characters and the gritty spunk of Charity, also one of my favs.

    And, ooooo, LOVE the idea of creating love stories out of random couples!! So many times Keith and I will see a couple who do NOT seem to go together, and we try to figure out their story and the attraction, which is VERY fun to do, so you are definitely on to something there, my friend. Good luck in the contest, sweetie, and I hope all my books read as quickly for you as APR!

    JANET ... Yeah, every writer needs a T-shirt like that, don't they? My sister gave me that, and unfortunately for my friends and family, it's ALL TOO TRUE with me!! And don't pooh-pooh the dictionary till you try it, girlfriend -- seriously, you would be shocked at how many fertile ideas are incubating there!!

    KIRSTEN ... Thanks, my friend, and I am SO with you on the ancestral stories. My 92-year-old aunt has told me a ton, and because they are part of our own heritage, they become all the more exciting and real, making a GREAT springboard for a great story!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  42. ROSE ... It is a fun T-shirt, no question! Sounds like you and I write the same way, relying primarily on our past experiences and emotions, two VERY powerful components in creating a great story ... uh, especially if you are a CDQ ...

    SANDRA ... moi? A tease??? Must I remind you that Charity O'Connor LIVES AND BREATHES in my mind??? Of course I'm a "tease," and although one may not fully appreciate a "tease" in real life, in books they are sooooo good for a plot line!! Thanks for the bagels and assorted cream cheeses, Sandra -- YUM!!!

    OMIGOSH, KAREN, I cannot believe you're here!!! How fun is this, seeing a comment from one of my favorite relatives??? Talk about fertile ground for stories, girl, we would definitely have them with all the vacations we took together over the years, wouldn't we???

    And, gosh, Karen, you had a great grandmother named Sarah Morningstar who was an American Indian and died young from blood poisoning from a splinter? How can I have spent countless weeks of vacation with you over the years and not know this? And the story about your English Grandmother's nervous habit of flipping her one bottom false tooth with her tongue making it bounce in her mouth is absolutely priceless! Can I use it in my next series?

    You know what, Karen, YOU need to start writing, my friend, because living with Mike alone gives you a lock on interesting and quirky things to write about, not to mention your heritage!! DO IT!! I've got connections in the biz, so I could help you with everything you need to know on the road to publication!! Thanks for coming by today -- it makes my day!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  43. I love all the ideas for finding stories!

    My favorite place for story ideas is on Ancestry.com. I've been working on dh's and my genealogies for a couple years now, and I've found the best stories by following rabbit trails.

    Local history is another one of my favorites - every time we move to a new place I dig into the history, visit museums, try to get to know the place.

    I see the donuts are all gone already. Good thing I stopped by Krispy Kreme on the way!

    Enter me for the drawing please!
    jandrex(at)juno(dot)com

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  44. LOVE that last line! "The honeymoon was over."

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  45. Thanks, CATHY! And current events are ALWAYS a good idea and a great way to connect people to your story. Karen Kingsbury is a master at doing this, I've noticed, but I didn't know Nora was. Of course, Nora is pretty much a master at everything, although I haven't read her in a long, long time.

    CAROL M!!! I certainly hope you intend to SHARE those donuts, young lady ... And I clicked on your FB link, but didn't see the pic of your daughter. Of course, I am technologically challenged ... One shirt and shovel coming up, and I cannot BELIEVE Denver is next week ... YIKES!! Saying one right now that you get ready and have the best time ever!!

    CAROL M!!! CLOSE THE LAPTOP AND STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER ... Have you forgotten you have a trip to plan for, a house to clean, kids and hubby to take care of AND a job??? Don't let me catch you here again, young lady!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  46. Hi Julie:

    You wrote this at twelve:

    Patrick O'Connor was dead. Yet the sky hadn't altered it's azure hue, nor had the birds retired their chant so familiar to the city in the spring.

    This is very philosophical! It reminds me of the opening burial scene in Doctor Zhivago as seen through the eyes of a child. It’s emotional. It has ‘sight’ and ‘sound’ words, it sets the season and the location in a city and it uses description to set an emotional point of view.

    Were you going to writing workshops at ten? : )

    BTW: Sean and Emma’s story is your book that I most want to read. Sean is the first male in the family to marry so I’ll naturally think of this as his story and Emma is already the most sympathetic heroine I believe I’m going to encounter in a long time.

    When is the release date?

    Vince

    P.S. “War and Peace” is a long book which seems longer than it is and “A Hope Undaunted” is a long book which seems shorter than it is.

    P.P.S. I have an idea for a “T” shirt for your husband: I Appeared in ‘A Passion More Pure’.

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  47. Okay - cleaned out part of the garage including a cooler that um, well, let's just say it was growing things. But we need it for this weekend.

    Now my fingers are FROZEN [it's COLD here! Okay - not THAT cold, but when using the hose to spray out said cooler...]

    I think I finally got a link to the actual pic, Julie. It was in the pics at the top - there's like 5 of them but they changed it all and now it's harder to get to JUST the pic... Or at least it is for me...

    Here it is

    Warming up and then will get back to work =D.

    Love ya lady!

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  48. [And I had dictated that blog post - or most of it - to my phone and emailed it to myself so all I had to do today was post it - upstairs is cleaner too...]

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  49. TINA ... LOL!! "WORKSHOP IN A BOX" ... I like that!! Not sure it's true, but I like it nonetheless. And limo and chocolate??? I wish. More like a '98 Olds Alero and Boston Baked Beans, if you get my drift!

    Hey, MEL, thanks, my friend, and YOU are more than welcome!! LOVE your writing, so I cannot wait for the next one, which is loosely based on Beauty and the Beast, right? And, OH BABY, a story based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs sounds sooooooo fun!!! You have me itching to read it now ... Yeah, you and I are alike in the waterworks area (both emotional), but when it comes to "shy," I still have to look the word up because I don't know what it means. :) You know what? We should ALL wear our "Careful or You'll End up in My Novel" T-shirts to our after-nine parties at ACFW!! Wouldn't that be a great pic??

    Thanks, CARRIE -- and SO good to see you here, my friend!! Songs are the best for cranking up those emotions, aren't they, though?? I try to use my "pesky terrible life situations" too, but like you, not all of them. Grin ... my husband won't let me! :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  50. Hi, Julie. This is an “inspiring” post. Haha. I think you’ve covered the majority of idea-forming in your blog post today. I don’t know if it has been mentioned yet, but listening to stories from your family is a great way to generate ideas. My grandpa is a natural story teller anyway, and he no doubt does some embellishing, ha, but he tells stories of his childhood and young adult life that are a hoot. Definite story ideas are born there. I wrote a children’s story based on one of his tales, actually. He was a young child during the Great Depression and fought in the Korean War. He married my grandma who was the only girl in the midst of four brothers.

    I, like many others, are looking forward to reading your new book. Well, except for Mary Connealy who already has it. The stinker. But anyway, I’m glad you incorporate old story-lines into your new stories. Luke and Katie are my favorite couple of your books and I’m glad to peek into their lives again.

    You know I would love a chance to win A Heart Revealed (yay for Emma and Sean!). I’ve had a soft spot for Sean (and Emma) since the beginning. :p

    road_to_avonlea_17(at)yahoo(dot)com

    -Whitney

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  51. SHELLY ... thanks, sweetie, I'm kind of partial to that last line, too. And actually, lines can really trigger a scene or story as well and do for me A LOT!!

    Hey, JACKIE, thanks, my friend, and YES, this IS a giveaway. And I'm guessing if you win, you'll want your name put on my growing list of signed copies of A Heart Revealed due out mid-August, right??? You have a good day too!

    JAN ... nope, the donuts aren't gone yet because Carol is going to share hers or else ... :) And, YES, genealogies are the best, so I never thought of Ancestry.com, but I'm thinking those "rabbit trails" would be fun to follow. And local history?? EXCELLENT idea!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  52. Such a great scene.
    Vince Katie and Luke are a sub plot. I've only read about the main romance in the single chapter I've managed to read so far.

    But I love knowing this is in there, too.

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  53. LOVE THAT LAST LINE.

    Oh my goodness, what backloading! The honeymoon was over.

    *bounching up and down like a teenager* WHEN DO WE GET MORE???? I should get special privledges right??

    Don't answer that, it's okay, don't want to make everyone jealous. :) JK.

    I get so many ideas from what you mentioned, books, music, news, LIFE! Like driving around town and just seeing something (like I mentioned in Pepper's post a while back)that BAMS slaps me upside the head with a story idea.

    LOVE THIS BUSINESS!

    Even if you get too many ideas you don't know what to do with them. :) Often times a comment from someone is twisted in my brain and given a whole new lease on life for a story idea.

    Anyway, GREAT post, they always are around here. I'll check back in later. :-))

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  54. VINCE ... grin ... nope, no workshops at ten, just an overactive imagination and a love for words! The release date for A Heart Revealed is Sept. 1st on Amazon, but CBD shows it as August 1st, but more than likely you'll be able to find it in some stores mid-August.

    And, yeah, I've had a LOT of people say they are anxious to read Emma and Sean's story, primarily because they like Sean and because Emma is such an amazingly giving person who does have such a tragic past. My husband is absolutely ga-ga over Emma, but hated Charity with a passion, so naturally AHR is his fav so far.

    What an incredibly nice thing to say, Vince, about my book compared to War & Peace -- THANK YOU!! Not sure I could convince my husband to wear a T-shirt like that, but it's a great idea ...

    CAROL ... grin ... CUTE PIC!!! Now get back to work ...

    WHITNEY ... gosh, girl, your grandpa's experiences sure sound like a book to me!! Thanks for saying Katie and Luke are your favorite couple because I have to admit, they are neck-in-neck with Charity and Mitch for me, although I LOVE all my character couples, truly. But the chemistry between Katie and Luke is just soooo tense and volatile at times, like it is with Charity and Mitch, and I guess I just LOVE that type of tension. My poor hubby is an easy-going kind of guy, but trust me, I've tried to pull him into tense dramas in our marriage more than once, much to his angst! Good luck in the contest, sweetie.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  55. Julie, GREAT photo. I'm wondering if you're digging a grave for one of Mary's dead bodies? LOLOLOLOL.

    Big hugs and great post.
    Cheryl

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  56. Love the photo, looks like you are ready to go to work, I would love to win this book

    I follow

    mamat2730(at)charter(dot)net

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  57. Kay said: See, this is why I need to go back to work full-time . . . because I'm running out of unique story ideas!

    Bite your tongue, girl! lol

    Tell you what...YOU come be ME for a while, and I'll be you, then we can switch back.

    Kinda like 9-to-5'ish!

    No one will be the wiser!

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  58. Oh wonderful wonderful post, Jules.
    I LOVE IT!!!
    And I think it would be fun to visit your mind...in short spurts. I'm sure I wouldn't make it out without some singes :-)

    And I already get a windburn going through your books.

    I love the ideas can come from all differen places. I think I have a novel idea from each one that you listed, but Alot comes from personal experience, geneology, songs, and daydreams.
    Sigh.
    I love OBEs.

    Great scene - as usual!
    Poor Katie Rose.

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  59. My current wips are:
    1. Daydreaming combined with personal experience (& family history) but the idea for the hero came from a movie.
    2. Personal experience combined with a personal account I read from a survivor of the sinking of the Lusitania.
    3. A fantasy retelling of the Bible in a Lewis-ish type of way.
    4. and one of the sequels to book #1 is based on my personal experience of a trip to England combined with my work with adults who have Asperger syndrome.

    Whether songs are the inspiration for my story ideas are not, they are DEFINITELY a part of the creative process.

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  60. Julie! Ooooohhhh!!!! I'd LOVE to win a copy of your book! You know I'm one of your biggest fans! :D

    I actually got a story ideal from The Muse writer's prompt book. Not a novel ideal, but a short story ideal. I've written several shorts and sent them into Woman's World hoping they'd buy, but so far I've had rejections. I decided to write a story from a story prompt that caught my attention. I received an email from the assistant editor saying she sent my story on to the editor and that she loved this story and hopes to see it published. I'm still waiting for rejection or acceptance, but that was the most enthusiastic response I had received. It's amazing how reading writing prompts can be a catalyst for ideals.

    lr dot mullin at live dot com

    ~Linnette

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  61. Thank you, Ruthie, for providing coffee.

    Rained last night. I wouldn't qualify it as a rain STORM, but I lost my internet connection.

    Story ideas, huh?
    I utilize things that my kids did as tots and going through school.

    Now one of my favorite exercises is taking a gem of an idea and brainstorming/developing it with my daughter.

    I have an office cubbyhole stuffed with newspaper articles that I found interesting and saved.

    Helen

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  62. Pam, thanks for the offer, but I don't think I could last five minutes in your life! But if you'd like to come write 95,000 words for me between now and May 1, I'd be more than happy to let you! :-D

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  63. WOW!! Great post, Julie! And that scene from your book captivated me so much that my cornbread muffins in the oven almost burned, LOL! (I'm serious...the timer sounded but I was lost in that scene...until I smelled "well-done" muffins, which are still edible, thankfully*grin*). ~ This post is definitely another "keeper post" for me. I haven't read all the comments posted today so please forgive me if someone already mentioned this, but the Yellow Pages phone directory is also a source for me (yes, makes me sound very exciting, doesn't it, teehee). If I'm looking for a piano tuner, it's SO easy for me to become "lost" viewing the ads for all kinds of businesses--and then story ideas flow. I have to remind myself WHY I had that book out in the first place! ~ Thank you again for this awesome post, and that picture of you is precious!!! :) Hugs from rainy Georgia, Patti Jo

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  64. Uh-huh, Kaye, 95K?

    Maybe we need to negotiate a little more!

    lol

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  65. Great post, Julie! You've already mentioned two of my favorite sources of inspiration, dreams (although they usually need to be edited!) and family history (my hubby's family goes back to Jamestown's original settlers, and boy are there some colorful characters in the mix!)

    On the same line as genealogy, take a look at some vintage newspapers sometime, either online or in local archives. There are lots of stories there that have details you won't find anywhere else, and give not only ideas but a ring of authenticity. I recently stumbled across a link for the records of Newgate Prison through another blog, and boy is that a treasure trove!

    I also follow a couple of vintage fashion blogs, to get inspiration for costuming my characters and make sure said costume is authentic, and they often include tidbits of inspiration. One recently did a feature on beetle wings used as decoration on clothing in the Victorian era. Another just did a post on mourning clothes, and reminded me of the popularity of memorial hair jewelry in the 18th and 19th century. Since my current heroine is a widow, it added a poignant and personal detail for her to be wearing a brooch containing a lock of her husband's hair.

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  66. Great ideas! Thanks for the post and the peek at your book!

    I find that ideas for a story or scene pop up all over the place. I know it's getting bad when I hear a conversation or watch a group of people and think, "Oooo..I can use that!"

    I was stuck on a scene a few weeks ago. While watching TV, I thought the plot would go a certain way. It didn't, but I went off in the direction I was thinking about. I found the resolution to my scene!

    Thanks again for putting this all together. By the way, please enter me in the drawing!
    teaching by writing at yahoo dot com

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  67. Hey, MARE, you ain't seen nothing yet on Katie and Luke's story!! Another one of the "knock-down, drag-out" scenes in the book is lifted straight from Keith's and my sometimes rocky marriage that first year, so it's SO fun to dredge all that up and assign it to Katie and Luke!!

    CASE!!! Yes, you SHOULD get special privileges and you will, my friend, with the earliest signed copy I can possibly get since you won my newsletter contest to have a character named after you.

    ATTENTION ALL READERS: CASEY MIRANDA HERRINGSHAW WILL APPEAR IN A HEART REVEALED AS ONE OF EMMA'S GOOD FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS, which is WAY more than just a walk-on subordinate character. AND another good reader friend of mine, Michelle Tuller, will have a minor subordinate character named after her in honor of coming in 2nd place in the contest after Case. SOOOO thrilled that I can forever immortalize two of my FAVORITE reader friends in a book ... uh, or as long as it's in print, that is, which may or may not be all that long!! :/

    Hey, CHERYL ... LOL!! I sure could be "digging a grave" right now reading Wrangler in Petticoats because there are more dead bodies lying around in this one than ALL of Mary's other books put together!! Shooting that photo on Monday sure helped put me in the mood for some Mary Connealy-style shooting, I'll tell you that!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  68. EDNA!!! Haven't seen you around for a while, my friend, so it's good to see you here. And, yeah, I AM ready to "go to work" on my WIP as soon as I glean ideas from all these wonderful comments!! Thanks for stopping by and good luck in the contest!

    PAMMY ... that would be an interesting mix, I think -- a Dacus/Hillman historical!! And I seriously doubt EITHER of you will ever run out of ideas, or at least I hope not!!

    PEP, I'll tell you what -- YOU are one person who will NEVER run out of ideas because quite frankly, your mind NEVER STOPS and when you add in your personality, talents, craziness, you are a virtual Pepper Mill of well-seasoned ideas, truly. You, my friend, could be you own numbered point all by yourself!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  69. Julie,

    Really liked the scene with Katie and Luke. Totally believable with their personalities in the earlier books.

    I agree with your use of personal experience. I think it always make for great scenes. Like truth better than fiction-good inspiration.

    Hope to hear more on Parker.

    Penelope Powell

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  70. Fabulous as always Julie!

    In addition to all your great ideas, I like to take pretend naps and just see where story ideas can lead. When I can watch the story play out like a movie, I know I'm on to something.

    Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

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  71. Hey Julie,

    Great post with lots of interesting ideas - I'm always looking for new ways to come up with ideas.

    Loved your scene - but I was confused as to why Katie put the shaving cream in the hall?? And why Luke was so mad?

    I love stories from older relatives, too. My grandma once told me a great one about her and her sister going to the movies during the war. The theater was very empty but one man came in and sat right beside them (odd with so many empty seats). She wondered why he wasn't out fighting with all 'the good men'. Then he had the NERVE to put his hand on her knee. (My grandma was 4 ft 11 or so). She sat calmly and pulled a hat pin out of her hat and STABBED him with it!!! She didn't even budge. He, however, raced out of the theater in a hurry!!

    I laughed so hard at that story! Have to use it one day.

    Love to be entered in a draw for your book!

    Have a great day.

    Sue
    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

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  72. Ooo, Julie Pepper Mill, what a great description of our dear Pepper Basham. :)

    And LOL, you're too funny in your comment. I'll digress you already know how excited I am.

    And don't you DARE say you're books won't be in print forever and eternity. I can't bear to think of such a day!

    ;-)

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  73. Julie, I really didn’t like Charity. She was just so conniving. Not an honest bone in her body! But I did like Mitch a lot. I really thought Brady was going to be my favorite male lead. A Hope Undaunted was the first of your books I read because I didn’t know the Daughters of Boston was related in any way. Oh well. But I loved Brady in A Hope Undaunted. I still gotta pull for Luke, though. Mitch isn’t far behind. Brady is in a class of his own. SO, Collin? Coooollin? Haha. No. I like Collin, too.

    ANYWAY, thanks for sharing. : )

    -Whitney

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  74. Hey, LINNETTE, how you doing, my friend?? And GREAT NEWS that your story got a good response from the assistant editor!!! Saying one RIGHT NOW for SUPERNATURAL FAVOR IN JESUS' NAME and that it's a go, girlfriend!! Keep me posted, okay?

    HELEN!!! I just KNEW you had to have a reason for not setting coffee up because you are SO darn reliable most mornings, and I would say a severed Internet connection qualifies as a pretty good reason!! Ohhhhh, YES, ideas from our kids is a WONDERFUL place to get great input for our stories!!! Gosh, if I start weaving in funny things my daughter said growing up, it would make Charity and Henry look downright sweet!! And brainstorming with your daughter??? Oh, honey, I am SOOOO jealous!! Wish my daughter would do that with me, but alas, she's not a big reader ...

    KAYE!!! 95,000 words between now and May??? And this is why you are able to put out more than one book in a year, which makes me sooooo green with envy, but then I've learned to live with Mary and Ruthy doing that, so I'm getting better at handling my jealousy ... :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  75. PATTI JO!!! WHOOPS ... sorry about the cornbread muffins, my friend, but MEGA THANKS for the compliment!! And, WHOA, BABY, do NOT know why I didn't think of the Yellow Pages and apparently nobody else did either because you are the first, so GREAT JOB!! That would be an absolutely WONDERFUL place to brainstorm, truly. And thanks for the compliment on the pic. My husband took one look at me and angled a brow. "That's what you're wearing for this pic?" he says, nose scrunched like he smelled something bad." "Uh, yeah ... what's wrong with it?" "It's just not real flattering, you know?" Not exactly sure what he expected me to wear in a muddy backyard with a shovel in my hand ... spike heels and boa, maybe???

    E.C. -- OH, FABULOUS ideas, girl -- THANK YOU!! And what a find with tidbits from fashion blogs, especially the mourning brooch for your heroine -- VERY COOL!!

    CHRISTINE ... LOL, I know what you mean about thinking, "Oooo..I can use that!" You are a BORN WRITER, my friend!! Glad you found your resolution watching TV -- that medium truly is a great incubator for fun ideas!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  76. Jules, I wrote THREE books between December 1, 2009 and January 3, 2011 (100k, 95k, and 110k---and the shortest one was the historical!!!) I was supposed to have almost six months to write this book---but then I broke my ankle and my previous book was late. And I was scraping the bottom of the creative barrel before I broke my ankle!

    So today's post is really making me take stock of what I can use in this book to get it moving and finished BEFORE deadline.

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  77. Sounds like a great story!! I love all the inspiration!! I think a lot of writing must come from persnoal experiences of themelves or others around them! I would love a chance to win this book! Thank you!

    kcmelone[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  78. House is looking a bit better so popping back in...

    I'd share the donuts but they're leftovers from Sunday... Not sure anyone but the 3yo wants them...

    Julie - did you get my Boston Baked Beans email? I giggled ;).

    And...

    DID I READ THAT RIGHT?! AHR is an AUGUST release?! I thought it was OCTOBER for some reason! Oh, that's a bit better ;). I still may have to hunt down Ms. Connealy though...

    I didn't burn muffins but I knew I shouldn't have read that scene at the end. It's like giving a drop of water to a guy wandering the dessert.

    Cruel.

    Yep.

    You, dear Julie, are cruel. As cruel as cruel can be. Yep.

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  79. EVA MARIA!!!! LOL ... "pretend naps" -- I LOVE IT!!! I take "pretend naps" all the time myself, but usually it's someplace like a seminar or a funeral, where once I actually plotted three scenes ahead (but you can only do this when it's a person you really don't know ...). Sometimes my husband will catch me in a seven-mile stare and ask me if I'm plotting. The man knows me so well, he could live my life for me ... :)

    Hey, SUE, not surprised you're "confused" ... my husband feels that way a lot with the things that come out of my brain. Okay, Luke was mad because Katie enrolled in law school without telling him when he thought she was going to stay home to be a mom to his daughter. BIG UPSET in the McGee household, let me tell you, that goes on for many, many scenes!! And Katie put the shaving cream in the hall because her sense of humor is as warped as mine, apparently, which is what I did to my husband one day when we got into a huge fight over a ham in the grocery store. We were not speaking to each other when we got home, and while putting the groceries away, I started to cool down and decided to "tease" him out of our fight by putting his shaving cream in the middle of the hall floor instead of putting it away like I usually would. Suffice it to say, a chicken dropped to the floor of my kitchen when my husband clamped a hand to my wrist as well, not liking my little tease anymore than Luke does in AHR!! The good news is that Katie and Luke are still together ... as are my hubby and I!! :)

    CASE ... Believe me, I'd like to think my books will be around for a while, but one never knows, truly.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  80. Hi Julie...I'm a newcomer to Seekerville and I love it! Thanks for the great ideas! I'm just beginning my first story and I'm really enjoying the process. Some of the things that have inspired me so far are:
    Movies: I love Jane Austen stuff...and pretty much any chick flick : )
    Landmarks/travel: I lived in Asia and traveled there and have also been to England. There's something about seeing a place, where someone lived, learning the history, and watching the people there that is inspiring to me.
    BBC: I love a lot of BBC stuff...most recently inspired by Downton Abbey.
    I have yet to read one of your books and would LOVE to : ).
    Stacey
    www.thedanielsgreatadventure.blogspot.com

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  81. What a great list, Julie! When you look at things that way, the ideas just pop out.

    Can I add one more? I found the idea for my stories literally in my own backyard in the history of our own area.

    Mary, shame on you for making us all jealous. Just for that I'm not sharing my pancakes with you. :)

    Loved the scene, Julie. Can't wait to read the book.

    PS. Google hates me lately. It keeps eating my comments. Someone needs to feed the Google monster so I can start commenting again.

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  82. Hi Seekers! This is Lorna Seilstad. I'm signing in as Anonymous because Blogger hates me lately. It keeps eating my comments. Someone needs to feed the Blogger monster so I can start commenting again.

    What a great list, Julie! When you look at things that way, the ideas just pop out.

    Can I add one more? I found the idea for my Lake Manawa series literally in my own backyard in the history of our own area.

    Mary, shame on you for making us all jealous. Just for that I'm not sharing my pancakes with you. :)

    Loved the scene, Julie. Can't wait to read the book.

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  83. Hi Seekers! This is Lorna Seilstad. I'm signing in as Anonymous because Blogger hates me lately. It keeps eating my comments. Someone needs to feed the Blogger monster so I can start commenting again.

    What a great list, Julie! When you look at things that way, the ideas just pop out.

    Can I add one more? I found the idea for my Lake Manawa series literally in my own backyard in the history of our own area.

    Mary, shame on you for making us all jealous. Just for that I'm not sharing my pancakes with you. :)

    Loved the scene, Julie. Can't wait to read the book.

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  84. SUE MASON ... I completely forgot to comment on that ADORABLE story about your grandma -- PRICELESS!! Sounds like the making of a story to me ... :)

    WHITNEY ... Not surprising how you feel about Charity -- that's how most readers react to her, but I can't help it -- I absolutely LOVE the woman!! But then Scarlett is my favorite all-time character, so maybe that gives you some insight into why Charity appeals to me. And she wasn't honest in the beginning, but by AHU, she really starts to shine, and in the next book, AHR, she is hands-down one of my FAVORITE characters, making me laugh in almost every scene she's in.

    And Brady IS in a class all his own, truly. When I wrote his and Lizzie's story in A PAssion Denied, I saw him as a Billy-Graham-type character with a past as bad as he was good in the present. An incredibly STRONG man with a an incredibly destructive weakness. If Brady was one of your favs, then you are going to LOVE Sean, I think!

    KAYE ... you know, it's bad enough you crank out books like Connealy and Herne, and with a broken leg, no less, but they're ALL so darn good, too, just like theirs, which if I didn't like you so much, would REALLLLY get on my last nerve!! Glad today's post could help, my friend.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  85. Hey, COURTNEY, thanks for coming by, and I think you're right about the personal experience being the driving force in most writing, in transferring one's emotions/feelings/personality into a scene as well tidbits from one's life. Good luck in the contest!

    CAROL ... YES, I did get the Boston Baked beans e-mail, THANK YOU!! AND I am NOT cruel -- "cruel" would be posting the scene I just wrote yesterday ... needs some work, I'm afraid ... :/

    STACEY!!! WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, GIRL -- we're thrilled to have you here!! You WILL learn a lot, but more importantly, you will "connect" a lot, which is KEY. Not to mention make some reallllly great friends, so THANK YOU for coming by!!

    Uh, and YEAH, I would certainly think visiting places like Asia and England would be good for a few ideas, you know -- I'm jealous!! Now, if you tell me you've been to Ireland, our friendship is over!!

    And you haven't read one of my books about the O'Connors yet??? Well, girlfriend, we need to remedy that as soon as possible, so good luck in the contest. And if you don't win here, I have another giveaway going on at Amber's Seasons of Humility blog at the end of the month, so check my website calendar for the link and date. Oh, and if you do decide to go ahead and buy/borrow/steal one of my books, be sure to start with book 1 of the Daughters of Boston series, A Passion Most Pure. It kicks the whole two series off with a couple of big surprises that would be ruined if read out of order,okay? Thanks, sweetie!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  86. NEWSFLASH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    TWO KINDLES AND TONS OF SEEKER BOOKS BEING GIVEN AWAY TODAY AT:

    KINDLE GIVEWAY

    DON'T MISS OUT!!!!!!!!!!

    HUGS,
    JULIE

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  87. I, too, rely on personal experiences for inspiration. Music from different genres is a stimulation for me as well.

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  88. Thanks, Julie! : ) I WISH I could go to Ireland!! So we can still be friends ; ) If you ever need a traveling buddy, let me know! Thanks for the recommendation on your books! I hope I can win...and if I don't, I'm going to check out the other giveaway! ~stacey

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  89. Someone mentioned pastor's sermons, and I remembered that the Peter, Paul and Mary idea (and one more that I had forgotten about until just this minute) came to me while I was listening to my husband one Sunday. I'm sure he'd be a little offended if he knew my scribbling was story ideas rather than sermon notes. :)

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  90. Oh, yeah, your scene sounds familiar to my ears! I'd say they were two first-born's trying to have their way, but we know they aren't. Dynamite, Julie! You always have powerful scenes.

    I place I would love to see an idea come from is "Cold Cases," whether based on a love triangle gone wrong, an unrequited love, romantic energy between case workers, etc. "Forensics" is another program I'd like to see a book revolve around it.

    Please enter me! Can't break you trilogies!

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

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  91. What can I say..my idea is wonderful,boring,funny,interesting stories at bus station..Man,you can laugh so hard.
    People waiting for the bus can give a tons of stories to inspire a thousands books.
    It's so mind-blowing to see how many people can discuss their lives at this odd place..:)

    And you would make a brazilian fan,really happy to win of your books,because even if I buy your books,I have to wait a month to put my hands on it!

    Come on..:)

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  92. So excited for the chance..I forgot the email! haha


    niastrong21(at)gmail(dot)com


    Your books made me believe again that marriage can work..thanks!

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  93. I'm going blooming mad waiting on this next book. Bonkers, I tell ya. I cant wait another minute for this amazing book to come straight to my door step as soon as the ink has dried.
    I'm only half way joking. Lol. Once again, you are an amazing artist, using paper as your cloth canves, and your undoubtedly marvolous imagination as your paint brush.
    Looking forward to reading your next book. Thank you for painting a beautiful story.
    -Sara

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  94. Loved the scene! Can't wait for your book! You have got to stop teasing us like that!
    Can't believe I'm not the only one who is inspired by strange words in the dictionary!
    I just love your journal jots!
    Keep writing!

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  95. Great blog and post, Julie. As a reader, I love reading your post as you make my day! Just talking to older relatives or neighbors, a person learns so much about their roots that they wouldn't know otherwise.

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  96. KASSY ... Music is so KEY in inspiration, isn't it??? There was one worship song that I played over and over so much while I was writing A Passion Most Pure, that it has become a theme song to me. It's called Glory to the King, and there is a line in there that mentions the Scripture "He's a Father to the fatherless," which I included in APMP because of that song. To this day, when I hear that song, the whole O'Connor trilogy flows in my head. Thanks for coming by, and good luck in the contest!

    STACEY ... do NOT give up till you win a book, okay? Starting in August through October, I will be having a TON of giveaways, and I also have some periodically here and there, so check back with my website calendar every now and then, okay?

    Oh, ANDREA, you are TOO cute, you know that??? I'm not sure which is worse -- me plotting during a funeral mass or you plotting during your husband's sermon!! Let's ask him, shall we??? :)

    LINDA!!! Cold Cases would make a GREAT springboard for ideas -- EXCELLENT IDEA!! I'm not quite as gung-ho on forensics, though. Both my hubby and I don't like blood, and we've just gotten into NCIS to replace our JAG obsession, and last night, we both had to close our eyes through about two minutes of a scene because it was WAY over the top, blood wise!!! I guess we're wimps! :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  97. NIA FOR JESUS ... first of all, LOVE that addy, my friend -- VERY COOL!! Secondly, bus stations would be an IDEAL place to come up with stores ... airports, too, and train stations, so GREAT IDEA!! Of course, one has to DRIVE to those places, first, which requires putting on makeup and decent clothes and fixing one's hair, something I shy away from these days as much as possible ... :) And, YES, we MUST get a book in your hot, little Brazilian hands, okay?? :) Good luck in the contest, sweetie.

    Aw, SARA, don't know if I'm extra emotional today or just my normal weepy self, but your sweet note brought tears to my eyes -- THANK YOU!! I hope it's worth the wait, sweetie. My husband and crit partner think it's the best one so far, but I'm not so sure. My 92-year-old aunt called it a "gangbuster of a story," so hopefully you will think so too! Good luck in the contest, my friend.

    YAY, FAYE!! Another dictionary fan here!!! I personally get an adrenalin rush whenever I page a dictionary or my Synonym Finder book, no joke!! And, girl, if I didn't "tease" you like that, you might forget about me, and we can't have that, can we?? Thank you SO much for reading my Journal Jots ... that makes two of us!! ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  98. Hi Julie:

    Lady DragonKeeper had a good question:

    “poor Steve, how will we find out what happens to him after his book? =)”

    Do you think your editor will allow you to write an Epilogue for the last book?

    Vince

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  99. Lady DragonKeeper:

    Thanks for your comments about my list.

    Here’s a creative idea that might help everyone:

    When I was in advertising, we always had to “Come up with 100”!

    Come up with 100 ideas for a ‘preferred customer sale’ or 100 ideas for ‘a sale we’ve never run before’ or 100 headlines for the new ‘wall-away’ recliner line.

    If you train your mind to think in terms of 100, you’ll be amazed at how many ideas you’ll come up with. And quickly!

    BTW: Most will not be good ideas but there will always be one or two gems in the mix.

    Vince

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  100. Vince, what a great idea!

    Mary, thanks for taking me out of the SPAM filter. It's my husband's fault, you know. He the one who likes Spam. :)

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  101. There's one more in this series isn't there, Julie?
    I was thinking that as I read. One more O'Connor to find happily ever after...

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  102. I can hardly wait to read more of A Heart Revealed! I would love to win this book!I enjoyed the rest of your post also.
    Thanks.

    pmk56[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

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  103. RBOOTH ... gosh, girl, sooooo glad I could "make your day"!! You helped to make mine, too, so we're even. And I totally agree -- talking to older adults is a FABULOUS way to dig up new ideas. Hey ... I'm old ... anybody wanna talk to me????

    VINCE!!! Are you the one who's so keen on epilogues?? I can't remember, but somebody was begging me to write an epilogue for one of my books, and I've always considered the next book to be a kind of "epilogue," but Steven's story would certainly be the place for that. I'll definitely give it some thought, Vince. And I think my editor would have no problem with an epilogue at all, especially on the last book!

    And, Vince, "100 ideas" is a GREAT concept, my friend. When Revell asked me to come up with a few title suggestions for APMP, being the completely analI gave them about 135 of them ... such is the life of CDQ. Sigh.

    LORNA!!! You were in the spam filter???? That's downright insulting, girlfriend -- SO SORRY!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  104. “Yeah, Keith,” my brother-in-law said to my husband with a wink, “you better get going—I think you’re chapter sixteen tonight!”

    Julie, your BIL knows you TOO well! lol

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  105. I think Whitney just likes the guys, that's why she didn't like Charity! lol

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  106. Oh wow this place is hoppin' today! It seems like the blogiverse is taking up so much of my time lately but I'm not complaining in the least! I just hate it when I don't have enough time to visit everyone everyday! I hate to miss stuff like this!

    Thanks again for the tease Julie, I really would rather have little snippets like that, it makes the imagination run wild. I like to see how close I can get to the real story you know what I mean?...it doesn't happen that I get close often Julie especially with your books. Your ideas are one of a kind. ;-)

    XOXO~ Renee

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  107. Absoultely love the excerpt from your story. Can't wait to read it.

    One of my historical westerns, Husbands May Run but They Can't Hide, came from the story of Jacaob, Rachael, and Leah. That story always makes me feel so sorry for all three that were involved.

    But I took how Leah must've felt and ran w/it. I start the story the next morning when the hero wakes to the wrong bride. (But he wakes to the younger sister.)I really thought this was the most exciting place to start the story.

    My story has finaled in a few contests but my opening offends too many judges and I need to re-work it. And it gives some the wrong idea that the book will have love scenes.

    Maybe I will dig it out and see if I can salvage it.

    I also like old country songs for inspiration.
    These are some of the best songs that inspire me.
    Sunday Morning by Johnny Cash
    Lucille by Kenny Rogers
    And Harper Valley PTA...I love the attitude. (Call me weird.)

    Connie
    bcountryqueen6 at msn dot com

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  108. OK. I love the t-shirt, though I think it would scare my wife if I wore something like that.

    Fantastic post. I never thought of some of those sources.

    I got the idea from my latest WIP from a sermon. I guess that's a good place to start.

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  109. TINA ... Yep, only ONE MORE O'Connor to go ... I'm going to have to throw a "Farewell" Party when the book comes out. Sniff ... very sad.

    PAM K ... thank you SO much, sweetie!! I can hardly wait to read it too, 'cause next time I do, it will be the galleys. YIKES!!! Which means it's realllllly close to hitting the shelves!!

    PAMMY ... I'm afraid my BIL does know me pretty well. In fact, my whole family thinks I'm a card, but trust me on this, I am NOT on the only character in this family of 13, believe me!! And you could be right about Whitney, Pam -- good thinking!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  110. Hey, RENEE, and if you think this place is hopping, you should head over to the Seeker-sponsored bash on the Barbara Vey's PW blog where she is giving away TWO KINDLES today and tons of SEEKER books and other books too. Search these comments for the word "newsflash" and you'll find the link, okay? Thanks for swinging by, you sweet thing.

    MICHELLE V!!!!! Forgive me because I was just going through the comments again and noticed I missed yours -- SORRY!! You must have posted it just as I posted one, so it got by me. Haven't seen you in a while, so it's great to see you here!! Good luck in the contest, my friend.

    Thanks, CONNIE, I appreciate your sweet comment. And I LOVE your title: Husbands May Run but They Can't Hide -- sounds fun!! Have you ever read Liz Curtis Higgs' Scottish trilogy that I mentioned in this post? It's based on Jacob, Rachel and Leah as well.

    And I gotta tell you, starting the book the morning after the honeymoon sounds like a GREAT place to start to me, so I cannot imagine why the judges would find that offensive. Uh, and what's wrong with a book having love scenes??? My books are pretty much saturated with them!! :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  111. WALT ... if your wife isn't "scared" by now, with you being a writer, than I doubt a T-shirt is going to do the trick!! :)

    And were your ears burning, sweetie?? We were talking about you on the Seeker loop and the general consensus is we all love you and think you might just be the next Nicholas Sparks. Make us proud, boy!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  112. Hello Julie,
    Very informative post. One place I get ideas is from courtroom transcripts.
    Please enter me in the draw.

    janet(underslash)kerr(at)msn(dot)com

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  113. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  114. Where does one get one of these T-shirts?

    Although I do know a lady who screen prints Ts... Maybe I can have her make me one =D.

    Vince- I so need to do that with titles. I stink at them. Horribly. Horribly.

    Actually, I need to find Julie's discarded titles list and surely I can find something on there...

    Oy.

    I had to pull one out of thin air for Genesis. One WIP didn't have a title until last Wed or so - and the deadline was EARLY Friday morning remember?

    Okay - some packing and cleaning done. Some fighting with very cranky children who don't want to help done.

    Also had a lovely conversation with Casey in which I tried to bribe her with chocolate chip cookies [it sort of kind of worked - and I ended up promising to bring a bunch to ACFW I think].

    Now to get back to the cleaning again...

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  115. Oooo, JANET, courtroom transcripts!!! VERY NICE, young lady!! Do you work in a courtroom or have access to such transcipts??? Consider yourself entered, my friend, and good luck in the contest!

    CAROL -- You're back!! My sister bought the T-shirt for me, but I'm pretty sure you can Google "writer's T-shirts" and you'll probably come up with a ton of great ones!!

    And chocolate chip cookies to ACFW??? OH, YES!!! I can see us all now in the lobby bar of the Hyatt, munching on our chocolate chip cookies. I get dibs sitting next to Carol ... :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  116. Don't worry, Julie, I could never forget, I've been waiting to hear about Sean, and why a guy as nice as him hasn't found some one yet since the day I opened the pages of A Passion Most Pure. I have been waiting forever.
    Keep writing! Very excited for your new series, even though, the O'Conners won't be in it. I mean, are you sure? I'm sure some of them would be alive still and one of their children could pop in as a cameo. I would miss them so much. But i guess that's why I own the books, so I won't miss them.
    Loved reading about Katie and Luke. Can't wait for Steven's story!!!

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  117. Can't wait to read the rest of the book!
    Ann_Lee_Miller@msn.com

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  118. LOL Julie! I'm holding you to that!

    A triple batch makes 10 dozen. That'll be enough for Keith to have some too ;).

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  119. Excellent post, Jules!! I'm sorry I'm late to the party. I'm just glad I made it and got to read that great excerpt!! :)

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  120. FAYE, I have to admit that I am tempted to bring an O'Connor or two into the series, my friend, and that's not a half-bad idea!! After all, Steven IS a prohibition agent, an agency that merged with the FBI in 1933 or so, so I could have Steven show up as a friend of the poor-cop hero in book 2!!! Mmmmm ... :)

    Question for you Faye on my next series ... would you rather see San Francisco (Nob Hill/Napa and Barbary Coast) as a destination or a Southern destination like Savannah???

    ANN!!! Always great to see your smiling face, my friend. Can't wait to see what you think of AHR!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  121. Wait, Julie! Don't close up camp yet! I have to poke in and tell you what a hoot of post you have here, LOL!

    Personal experience? I don't know why you refer to your husband as 'that poor man' when I've read your books and if they're any indication of what life is like at home???

    I'm just sayin'...

    I'm with you all the way on the song inspirations. Especially country. Most have a beginning, middle and end. Lots of conflict. Usually, boy gets girl.

    What's not to love???

    Can't wait to hold A Heart Revealed in my hot little hands. Katie was a spitfire in A Hope Undaunted, but I think AHR will give AHU a run for its money, LOL!

    As always, great writing, my friend. And glad to hear hubby is an awesome source of inspiration!!

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  122. CAROL ... 120 COOKIES???? YOWZA, girlfriend, I'm definitely sitting next to you now ... :)

    Hey, MISSY, no problem, sweetie -- I always know to look for you about this time 'cause I can always count on you to pull up the rear, my friend. Besides, I know you've been knee deep in contest entries. Glad you got them put to bed.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  123. Thanks, Julie. I would love to be someday. :-)

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  124. AUDRA, SWEETIE PIE!!! You're pulling up the rear tonight with Missy, girl! Thanks for popping in, my friend. I'm in bed, watching NCIS and finishing up comments and Keith just read your comment about what life is like at home, if my books are any indication. Good news -- he smiled!! :) Get some sleep now, girl, because I know the kind of rat race you've been running lately.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  125. WALT ... and WE would LOVE you to be someday too!! Then you can do a guest blog on Seekerville and shut down Blogger!! ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  126. Hey Julie! It's Alex Brown. Just finished getting ready for bed after an amazing Ash Wednesday service. The cardinal came and did the homily and he was an amazing speaker!! I am so excited for A Heart Revealed!!!!!!! It sounds WONDERFUL!!!

    And I'd probably get ideas from my friends, especially my sister. She is absolutely crazy (in a good hyper way) and has an imagination that blows my mind away.

    Thanks!
    Love, Alex

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  127. I love reading your sneak peeks! It always makes my day to read a good story, even if its just an amazing scene! I'm not one for writing but I love reading and I would love to be in this contest. Hearing how you get your ideas is very interesting though :)

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  128. Oh sorry my email :)

    berryfoot@aol.com

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  129. Hi Julie:

    Yes, I’m a big fan of Epilogues. When done right (not as an ad for the next book or used to clear up loose ends) an Epilogue provides the reader with a ‘second helping’ of the HEA emotional high. And it’s free and it’s enjoyed at very little extra reading effort.


    M. C. Beaton writes ideal Epilogues in her Hamish Macbeth series which is very popular in the UK.

    It is said that the first chapter sells your book and the last chapter sells your next book. Think how nice it would be to have twice the ‘happiness’ experienced by your readers because your book had a great epilogue.

    BTW: I also like quotes at the start of every chapter. M. C. Beaton also does this very well.

    However, I think it is much more powerful when done in a historical novel with the quotes being ones that would have been quoted in the novel’s time period.

    Your friend, Julie Klassen, did this very well in her book “Lady of Milkweed Manor”. That’s the one thing I wished you did in your books. (Reading really good and apropos quotes adds to the enjoyment and makes me feel like I'm getting smarter by reading the book.)

    Vince

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  130. ALEX!!! Girl, it's SOOO GREAT to see you here, my friend!! Caps off my night perfectly, truly! Ash Wednesday is always a really special day in my extended family too. And siblings are a REALLY good source of ideas ... and cousins too, right??? Tell Ari and Blake I said "hello," okay? Good luck in the contest, Alex!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  131. Haha Julie I've been over there since Day 1! There were over 3k comments yesterday!

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  132. TAMARA, thank you for coming by, my friend, ESPECIALLY since you aren't a writer and this post is geared toward writers. BUT, of course, I LOVE giving sneak peeks to my readers too, so THANK YOU for being one of those as well! Good luck in the contest, Tamara.

    VINCE ... I LOVE quotes at the beginning of chapters too, honestly!! I love that about Julie K's work, among many other things, of course. And my #1 favorite author, Liz Curtis Higgs, does that too, in her Scottish novels. I see that and I SO admire the author because it takes extra time, thought and research to attempt that and get it right. Trust me, I am WAY too anal to do something like that. It would take a month of my life to do it well enough to suit me, and I barely make my deadlines as is.

    BUT ... I do love it, no question.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  133. I love this Julie,I had forgotten all about our Army days and the events around moving so far from home. I am anxious for your book to come out.Thanks for sparking ideas, this site is such a blessing to me.enter me--Bevschwind@hotmail .dot com

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  134. RENEE ... I figured you would be, but I didn't have time to wade through 3,000-plus comments to find out for sure! :)

    You know today is INSPY DAY, right??? We gotta flood with comments today too!

    BEV!!! Oh, "army days," YES!!! After all, if they can make a whole TV show out of that (Army Wives!!), think how many stories you must have to tell! :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  135. Yeah I know it's Inspy day! I was the first to leave a comment and I posted a list of some of my fave authors and books too! :-)

    XOXO~ Renee

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  136. Awesome post! Thanks for sharing your ideas.

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  137. Julie, I am crossing my fingers that you do include an O'Connor in your new series! Personally, I really like Southern Savannah, but Nob Hill and Napa sound great too!
    Whatever you do will be awesome!

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  138. OMW! Not only im I the last to get here, but I feel like Ive bee away forever. Lol Love, love, love the Post Mrs.Lessman. And that scene?Someone hand me a fire exstingesher, quick, cause that scene nealy melted my computer.The underlying tension and angest made for one hot scene. Abd I loved all the different places you get inspiration. One place I seen to always get a bew idea for a story or a scene is church. As weird as it sounds, I find that as I listen to Pastor about Paul or John and thats getts me to thinking about how they lived or whose lives they changed and sometimes thin, if I were then how would I deal with what God gave then to do? An BAM! an idea will hit me for a story about the trials God gives us. or something like that.
    Anyways thank you fir anothsr wonderful post Mrs. Lessman and I'll for certain be forwarding it to my firend Abigail. She is jsut dying to get her hands on your book, same as I. So, of course Id love to eneter the giveaway, if Im not too late.
    Love Ya,
    Ashley
    i95fahrenheit(at)ymail(dot)com

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  139. RENEE ... BLESS YOU, MY FRIEND!!! YOU ARE SOOOO on the ball!!

    MARTHA ... thank you, sweetie, and thanks for coming by! Good luck in the contest!

    ASHLEY!!!! Girl, I've missed you SOOO MUCH!!!! Figured you were crazy busy with school, so I REALLLLLY appreciate you stopping by AND sharing the info with you Abigail too! Give her a hug for me and keep one for yourself!

    Hugs and more hugs,
    Julie

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  140. nice post. thanks
    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

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  141. ABI ... alway love it when you stop by, no matter how late or how brief, sweetie -- THANK YOU!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  142. Hi! I'm a little late for this post...but if the giveaway is still open, I'd love a chance to win! :-D Every one of your books looks awesome!!

    Oh, and another place I get ideas for love stories is through historical events. I read an interesting and not widely known event in history and think, "Now that would make a neat love story if I threw a couple into that senario!" :-)

    ~ Katy
    legacy1992(at)gmail(dot)coom

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  143. Hey, KATY, thanks for stopping by, sweetie. And I just have to ask -- it sounds like you haven't read any of my books yet -- is that the case?? I thought you had because you posted the cover of APMP on your blog, but your comment above seems like you haven't. WHICH ... if that's the case, then we need to remedy that PRONTO with a win, girl, so if you don't win here, I have another giveaway at the end of the month -- check my website calendar, okay? AND ... I will have TONS of giveaways in August and September when my next book comes out, so check the calendar then too.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  144. PENELOPE!!! I just noticed that I never responded to your comment, my friend, and I am SOOO very sorry!! Sometimes these old eyes misses one or two, you know??

    Anyway, regarding Parker, you will be glad to know that although he is not in my next series, I do have a Parker-like hero who actually gets the girl this time!! He's more of a cross between Brady and Parker, actually, but a REALLLLLY nice guy, so he will get his happy ending for sure!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  145. I cannot wait for this book to comne out!!! So excited for it!!!
    I would love to win!

    Thanks for great giveaway

    Jennifer

    jmschwindt0306 at gmail dot com

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  146. I am slowly catching up on my blog reading and I am so glad I discovered this gem in my reader by YOU dear Julie.

    To be honest and I have not mentioned it to a lot of people but I have felt a story growing in my heart. I have honestly never thought of being a writer and this story by always remain in my heart but your tips are priceless..... so many things I had not thought of. I may do some brainstorming.... we shall see.

    Love the scene with Luke and Katie and I am so glad we will once again get a glimpse at not just the two main characters but the whole O'Connor clan :) I adore them so.

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  147. Julie,

    No, I have not read any of your books yet. :-( I hear great things about them, though!

    But I am a great admirer of the covers - they are SO beautiful!! :-D

    Thanks for the heads up! I'll take a look at your calender and keep an eagle eye out for your future giveaways.

    Thanks so much for the heads up! :-)

    ~ Katy

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  148. JEN, thank you SOOO much, sweetie, and good luck in the contest!!

    CHRISTY!!! Oh, girl, I would LOVE to see you write a book. Your heart, your passion would be such a blessing captured on pages. I will be there for you, sweetie, when you do ... :)

    KATY ... DEAL!!! I have a feeling if you like passion for God and romance, you are going to like my books even better than my covers ... or at least I HOPE you do! :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  149. Thanks for all the great ideas! Can't wait to read this book!
    Blessings,
    Karen :)

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  150. Hey, KAREN, thanks SO much, both for coming by and your kind comment. Good luck in the contest!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  151. Many of my story ideas have come from dreams or past experiences. I feel more connected to the story and characters when I have an emotional involvement like that. It's easier for me to be excited about my story when I have that connection. Then I use it as a springboard to daydream about other scenes.
    cynthiakchow(at)earthlink(dot) net

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  152. I will Mrs.Lessman, and school will be over for the year soon, so I'll deffinitely be jumping back into the blogging world then...if I can last that long.:)
    Love Ya,
    Ashley

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  153. CYNTHIA ... Well, you and Stephanie Meyer, so you're in good company, my friend!! Cynthia, I'm not sure I knew you were a writer -- good for you, girl!!

    ASHLEY ... You better, sweetie, because the Web is NOT the same without you ... at least for me!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  154. Julie...sorry this is a bit late to post but I was very inspired by your post. I love the excerpt of your new book...can't wait to read it! Thanks for being so real and sharing a little of where you get your ideas...it's a big help:)

    I too have had different novel ideas...floating in my head. I would love to do a few books based on my growing up years. Maybe make it into YA books, not sure. Definitely think that growing up in the wilds of Northern B.C., have the makings of a good story. Riding the calves and horses with friends and making tree forts, chopping wood, stooking our hay and encountering a few wild animals all could be part of it!
    I've also thought of doing a story in the 1920's with the oil boom in some of these small towns here in Alberta...I think that would be a lot of fun.

    ...anyway, those are some of the ideas floating around in my head:)

    I would love to be entered to win one of your books:)

    lornafaith(at)gmail(dot)com

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  155. LORNA ... Ooooooo, Canadian cowboys and 1920s oil booms sound WONDERFUL, girl, so DO IT!!! And thank you for coming by AND for your sweet comment. Good luck, sweetie!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  156. Julie,

    I'm way late to the party, but I wanted to comment on your questions on your jots and I don't use FB.

    I think whatever the setting your new series will be a page-turner and not to be missed. That being said, I love Southern fiction even though (or perhaps because) I've been in the NY snowbelt my whole life.

    As for wealth I don't think I really have a preference. I know in hard economic times like these most like to read about the wealthy, although maybe that doesn't apply to CBA...I don't know.

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  157. HiJulie, personal experience for me at the present time is my best source of stories. I love listening to conversations at another table when we eat out. LOL I'm having fun thinking of names for my characters and my constant reading wakes many ideas lurking in my head. I'm in Scribes and being critiqued for the first time and scared to bits about critiquing someone else. I hope by mentioning that I'm interested in the first five pages that I'll have a chance to be picked. I'm very anxious to read Kate and Luke's story as a married couple Thanks for offering your works as the giveaway. I hope I win.

    Sharing His Love,
    Barb Shelton
    barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

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  158. JULIA!!! Good for you, not giving in to the FB monster!! And thank you for your input, sweetie! I'll announce the winner next week in Journal Jots, although you already have won your signed copy of AHR!! :)

    BARB!!! LOL ... you love to eavesdrop, do you??? Well, you're sure to get some pretty interesting scenarios and ideas that way, that's for darn sure! Thanks for swinging by, my friend!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  159. I'm DYING to read the book! Can't wait! It's release can't come soon enough. Thanks for the insight also, I'm working on my book right now and hit a dry patch. I'll have to look for some inspiration.

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  160. ASHLEY ... Thank you SO much, sweetie, for your enthusiasm and kind words. I'm glad the post inspired you in your own writing as well -- go get 'em, girl!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  161. Wow!! I love this excerpt.. Can't wait to read. Please include me in the drawing.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

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  162. MISSKALLIE, darlin', thanks SO much for coming by, by the drawing was on Saturday, you sweet thing! But I have another giveaway coming up at the end of the month, so check out my website calendar, okay?

    Hugs,
    Julie

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