Tuesday, September 27, 2011

GUEST BLOGGER PATTI LACY: Brainstorming the Next Novel ... It’s All in a Day’s Thought (and Giveaway!)

Julie here, and let’s face it— “brainstorming” means different things to different people. To Ruthy, Mary, Audra and Pam, it’s sitting in a room at the Hyatt during the ACFW Conference, fleshing out each other’s plots. To me, it’s praying out on my lower deck, crying and pleading with God to give me an impossible plot twist like He did with A Heart Revealed. To my artist husband, it’s flipping through an Architectural Digest magazine to get his creative juices flowing. And to my dear friend Patti Lacy? It’s all in a Day’s Thought, and trust me—this woman is so cerebral and creative, tapping in to her brain leaves me gaping like Alice in Wonderland, in a constant state of shock and awe.

I had the privilege of endorsing Patti’s new book, Reclaiming Lily,which releases October 1st through Bethany House, and I was so moved by this incredible story and the evolution of it, I asked her to write a guest blog. So the article below will show you how a seed of an idea took root in a very fertile brain and blossomed into one of the most beautiful pieces of fiction I have ever read. Please welcome one of my dearest friends and favorite people, author Patti Lacy.

Hey, Seekers! What a blessing to cozy into y’all’s couch!Today I’m sharing a secret. What else would you expect from the Spanning Seas & Secrets writer?

While my Seeker friends could disconnect half of their creative synapses and roll out novel after novel, I’m scratching my head and doodling all over that sheet of paper headed The Next Great American Novel.

Anyone relate?

Oh, I’ve got random thoughts all right: Did they really kill sparrows during the Chinese Revolution; Romans 8:28; it’s sunny, praise God; at age eleven, my mother’s cancer doctor nursed her parents back to health; speaking of health, Lord, heal my friend with cancer; tomorrow’s teaching day; why is my stomach bloated; remember when we walked Boston’s Freedom Trail; that new lady at church self-mutilates…and so do lots of teens, particularly girls. Please help, God; what’s for dinner, Texas ranks #1 for frequency of tornadoes, little Lucy’s adjusted to the U.S., praise Him; where’s all my pens, the dog needs to be fed, our pastor’s wife had a miscarriage—

Hey, brain cells!

How can ANYONE write with this going on?

On second “thought,” at least I’m noggin’ nogging, though the literary value’s sinking to the level of last year’s want ads. How can I tame my Twitters au natural and create a cohesive, have-’em-turning-that-next page book? The answer may be closer than you think.

When your imagination has packed its bags and gone to … Seekerville, grab a sheet of paper and corral those random thoughts! Yep, go ahead and label it The Next Great American Novel. They teach you to think big here at The Ville. Scribble out some headings, and let’s g---rrrr---ooooo----www!!!! Here's a stream-of-consciousness peek at what I did with Reclaiming Lily, pulling from my thoughts, my experiences, my own history to craft a story that was part fiction, part truth and all mined from those crazy thoughts that just might lead you to a story ...



Brave Chinese doctor … Chang Kai? (I interviewed Dr. Chang, whose story broke my heart yet inspired me to think sacrificially. How I want to share it with YOU!

Wife of a pastor…Gloria? (I admire my pastor wife friends who must constantly guard their hearts…and their husbands…against all that’s said and done in the name of religion. Surely they’ll share…won’t they?)

A troubled teenaged girl…Lily/Joy? (Oh, dear God, what can we do to help self-mutilators? What research/treatment is available?I make phone calls. Read. Already I’m seeing a determined, almond-eyed beauty, a grieving wife, an alienated young girl … How can I lasso them and then pull the string taut with conflict????


Hmmm. Could the troubled teenager (Lily/Joy?) be a lost girl of China and the daughter of Kai?

Could childless Gloria span seas and secrets to adopt “Joy”?

Could Kai want to reclaim Lily/Joy? (*needs to be INTENSE)

Which family will bear the burden of the killer disease PKD?

*Check dates on Cultural Revolution, Western adoptions from China

*Research PKD by calling MD contacts, Barnes Hospital, where friend was treated. Call friend…


China? (*this’ll take research galore. Can I swing a trip? Find the resources I’ll need?)

Boston? (*ditto, though my memories and Google and friendly Yanks might make it happen.)

Fort Worth? (*Can I use the time period when we lived here? Big plus. Another big plus: plenty of Cowtowner connections to lasso bucking bronco plot issues

I order books. Visit the library. Turn pages. Take notes. Let my fingers do the Googling.

You want the good news first, don’t you? Kai, Gloria, their love interests, and Joy can entangle like fine Oriental silk thread when I knot them with a mother’s protectiveness, a sister’s longing, and a desperate killer, PKD. The end result? I love…Reclaiming Lily! My agent’s saying, “Maybe.”

Oh. You wanted that bad news. Yeah, so did my crit partners.

Kai CANNOT be Lily’s mother and make the dates fit for both the Cultural Revolution and Western adoption.Would my readers flex their credibility muscles enough so that Joy could be Kai’s sister?

Agent says rework synopsis and let’s think about it.

Crit partners say….


Eventually, agent says…YES!

Stan Williams’ The Moral Premise flies off the shelf.

No, I didn’t tape cards on my study door like Stan does, but I did brainstorm on wants and needs and moments of grace and, of course…


Energized fingers tap, tap, tap Chapter 1 into a Reclaiming Lily file.

After a signed contract, trip to China, first draft, and two revisions, here’s our hook:

When a deadly disease strikes the Wang family, Harvard graduate Dr. Kai
Chang alerts Lily, the sister Kai left on orphanage steps. Standing in her way is Gloria Powell, a Fort Worth pastor's wife who distrusts Kai. Surely their troubled teenager, who’s skipping school and youth group and layering on attitude as thick as her makeup, can’t handle more drama in her life. Andrew, Gloria’s husband, disagrees…and brings Kai to Cowtown.

A Texas-sized tornado whirls about the meeting place of Kai and Gloria. Tempers and cultures collide. Can Kai, Gloria, and Joy reconcile their differences, surrender their dreams, and allow God to implement a joyful, miraculous plan that will save them all?

So ... how 'bout you? Do you weave snippets from your own life into the rich tapestry of your writing? If so, tell me how you did it. If not, just leave a comment and we will include you in the drawing for a signed copy of Reclaiming Lily. And if you haven’t tried this technique, are you willing to scratch that noggin’, then get started?

Thanks, Seekers, for the visit! Y’all made the 2011 ACFW conference ROCK!!!!!!


At the age of fifty, Patti traded in her grade books for a writer’s pen after the Still, Small Voice encouraged her to novelize the story of her best friend. Patti’s first three novels, An Irishwoman’s Tale, What the Bayou Saw, and The Rhythm of Secrets, explore the secrets women keep and why they keep them. Patti’s fourth book, Reclaiming Lily, a Bethany House title, transports readers to the steps of a Chinese orphanage, where two cultures and two women collide. Patti soothes her itch to teach by leading seminars, facilitating writing classes, and speaking at women’s events. Patti and her husband, Alan, a college administrator, live in Normal. They have two grown children and a dog named Laura. You can contact Patti through her website at Patti Lacy Website.


  1. The coffee pot's all set. Line up!

    Of course I incorporate snippet from my life into my stories. :)


  2. HELEN!!! It was SOOOO fun to see you and hug you at ACFW, you sweet thing!!! And thanks for setting up the coffee as always, and to go with it we have a full breakfast bar complete with waffles, omelots and crepes any way you want them -- with peaches, strawberries, cheese or cinnamon-nut feeling -- you name it. All topped off with whipped cream, of course!!

    WELCOME TO MY GOOD FRIEND, PATTI LACY!! Had SUCH a blast with you at ACFW, sweetie, but uh ... no more surprise brunches, okay???


  3. Hey, Hey, Patti--I'm here. You told me to be here, and I am! Bought the Moral Premise at Conference and planning on reading it, interesting that you chose to include that book in your arsenal right after brainstorming, I know your agent recommends it so I'm planning on reading it very soon-- and your book of course! :)

    Thanks for being such a friendly lady!

  4. Woohoo! Happy Dancing that my copy of Reclaiming Lily arrived today.

    Pretty convinced my thought process when it comes to fiction wouuld scare some folks. :D

  5. Hi Patti:

    I’m curious: did you actually write out the moral premise of your book? If so, did it guide your writing or did you uncover it once you were into the book?

    I’ve noticed that many romances, if not most, could easily be said to have several moral premises.

    Yes, I do use free-association to come up with ideas. It always worked for me in coming up with advertising copy ideas.

    I’d love to read your new book.




  6. Coffee? Sure. It's 1 am and I'm (supposed to be) writing on deadline.
    I didn't think there was a brain out there that resembled mine, but alas, Patti!

    I get caught up in my own brain storms and they, like my coffee, have to brew awhile. I'm really good at going into my bedroom, pulling the covers over my head and pressing the on button. The thoughts germinate there for a while and then I get up and write. Did I mention this is in the daytime...sometimes...I also have been known to wake up in the middle of the night and go write down the dialogue that I was dreaming or my plot storms.

    I found a secret of my own. Evernote. It is the best place for me now to jot down all my zillions of thoughts and ideas whether I use them or not. It is so easy for me to organize them there. And I'm actually making some progress. Imagine that!

  7. Dont enter me I get to review this for a blog tour just waiting for the book to arrive.

    Love the way you brainstorm and its nice to see how a book takes shape. this is interesting to me as my friends adopted a child from China. She is now almost 9 and they adopted her at 2 and a half. but for her there is no family anyone knows about.

  8. Oh, I so loved seeing you in St. Louis, girlfriend! And Patti, you have a way of putting together a killer outfit (Death by Design, a new romance chiller, garment district...) Sorry, thinking out loud.


    Anyway, Patti is beautiful and so amazingly talented. Great post. I can see the stream of consciousness thinking and REVEL in it because my brain does the same thing only I'm never smart enough to be quiet....

    Which these gals remind me of regularly.

    Hey, I'm dropping off some new creamers for the season to go with the coffee, pumpkin spice and peppermint mocha... GREAT BREAKFAST, JULES!!!


    Crepes. I'm SO in.

  9. Patti,

    Such a joy to meet you at ACFW! You are an amazing woman! Thanks for providing a glimpse into your brilliant mind.

    Love your new cover and blurb. Also loved learning how you wove the pieces together to create a story that's begging to be read. I'm ordering your book today.

  10. Erica -

    It's like a pachinko machine in here. It's scary. And I don't really know what a pachinko machine is. I heard it somewhere. FRIENDS I think. Phoebe said it. Maybe.

    Pinball machine.

    That's better.

    Or like playing PLINKO on the Price is Right.

    Yes, I use stuff from my daily life. I've changed the name of my town to a fictional one so I can give it a Panera etc. but it's very real. I have four kids. Their antics work their way into MSs regularly. One of my WIPs [well, it's not a WIP. Yet. Think it's this year's NaNo project] has a character that is very very much like me.

    I'd love to win a book :D.

    carolmoncado at gmail dot com

  11. Yay, Helen. One perk of being at Seekerville (besides the percolating cybercoffee) is meeting new authors! Glad we race alike!!!

    Julie, agreed, we are done with surprise brunches...except perhaps celebrating a grandbaby's arrival???

    Melissa, I ADORE sweet ladies who keep their promises!!! YAY!!! Cannot WAIT to read snippets from YOUR baby, cohesively and literarily bound, of course :) Thank you for stopping by!!

    Um, Erica, think we could all use tips from someone whose name is on a NYT Bestseller list. So out with it, girl!!!

    Vince, GREAT QUESTION! For the first time, I actually worked out The Moral Premise as I tackled my agent's proposal template, which is almost as difficult as completing a novel). After I bled and healed all over the file and zipped it to Natasha, she asked me to apply all the steps, beginning in Chapter 8 of the book.

    Vince, after listening to Stan at conference, I came away with the sense that there's one OVERLYING moral premise in the greatest of stories but certainly trickledown effects. Thanks for your interest in "Reclaiming Lily," Vince!!! Happy writing!

  12. Patti, it was such fun to meet you at the conference! Your writing is amazing. I love how you can take so many random ideas and weave them all together to make them coherent and fascinating. Not an easy thing to do.

    I wonder why Normal was named Normal!

  13. Carla! A like thinker!!! YAY!!! You've blessed me BEFORE coffee! Yep, this Seekerville group percolates EARLY!!! Ahem. Back to business. Could you clue me in on Evernote? Obviously, I need the help!!!

    Ausjenny, one of my favorite Down Unders!!! Wow, you have supported my books PRE Moral Premise, you doll!!! Thank you for stopping by! Now go plot away!!!!

    Ruth, fun just RADIATES from you!!! What a blessing to enjoy some of those beams at ACFW. Glad I have fooled you with a few scarves and costume jewelry!!! Next year, Lord willing, let's schedule a REAL chat. With CREPES!!!

    Debby, I'm so grateful that I got to hang near you as well, though your groupies kept me from those soulmate chats that MAKE the conference! Did I hear the cash register ching ching? I made a sale!!!! YAY!!!!

    Carol, I LOVE the snippets I gleaned from your post re your WIP! Good thing you included that Panera; I LOVE them and used them to cater my daughter's wedding feast! Nice to meet, even at such a mind-blowing place as the Ville!!!

  14. I'm still pretty new at this...haven't yet finished my first ms. So far ideas come to me,mostly unbidden.

    I've done the up all night thing when the characters just wouldn't let me sleep. I figured out the subplot connecting the three books in the series that way.

    I've had a few Seeker induced Aha! Moments, but so far I haven't actively brainstormed.

    I'd love to have Reclaiming Lily.

    andeemarie95 at gmail dot com

  15. Welcome to Seekerville Patti. What a fun peek into your mind. Writers have so much fun playing with all that's in our minds don't we? Scary sometimes--but definitely fun.

    Julie the crepes are delicious. I can attest to the fact that you're a terrific cook. smiling

    Thanks for sharing Patti. Your book sounds fascinating.

  16. It's so fun seeing how others think! It's fun seeing all those dots in my head suddenly connecting and forming into something. Love that!

  17. Cara, seeing you at conference is definitely on my plus list! Now...about my Normal, the location of a teachers college (Normal institution) as opposed to an ag college (agriculture and science, etc.) Imagine, that was the "old" way to delineate universities? If you're ever barreling down I-55 on your way to Chicago, call, and we'll coffee at The Hound, okay?

    Andrea, how I wish I could toothpick open my eyes and late night plot! Seekerville IS the place for those lightbulb moments...may you have many more!

    Sandra, nice to meet you here. Savoring my second cuppa! AAAHHHH.

    Patty, so should we call you a dotter rather than a plotter???? Waving!!!

  18. patti...i look forward to reading your latest novel...it sounds great!

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  19. I started a story note log yesterday.

    Just to start to gather my thoughts for 2013 series, and random book ideas I've been toying with.

    My daughter looks at list.

    It runs the gamut from glass-bottled milk to suicide and sheriffs.

    And then she looks at me and says something akin to: "This all makes some kind of sense to you, doesn't it?"

    I nodded and avoided her look of pity.

    So I totally get this. And when ideas come to me, I stick them in a current file like this and then some of them end up in the same book. And that seems to deepen the conflict from multiple directions.

    Or make me certifiable. ;)

  20. I think I spend all of my waking moments daydreaming....uh, brainstorming! Otherwise, life would be so boring.

    Some ideas get written down, but not until after they've percolated a bit on the back of the stove, brought out and tasted, then sent back to percolate some more.

    Actually, I get a lot of my ideas from the genealogy work I've been doing for my family. There are so many situations that I just start wondering about, and before I know it there's a full blown story. Real life is more interesting than almost anything you can make up.

    I'd love to read "Reclaiming Lily". What a great concept for a story!

  21. Welcome to Seekerville, Patty! Loved seeing you in St. Louis!! Thanks for sharing your process of unearthing another wonderful story.
    Love Reclaiming Lily's cover. And the explanation of the name of your town. Living in Normal would be reassuring. :-)

    Julie, breakfast is amazing. Not that I'd expect anything less from the hostest with the mostest.


  22. Welcome Back. Welcome Back, welcome back, welcome back (insert Welcome Back Kotter theme song here)

    Terrific post. I am reminded of two things I heard long ago.

    1. Life is like a blackboard and we keep trying to rewrite, erase and rewrite issues in our lives through our writing until we get it right.

    2. Another is that if we carefully examine the books we write there is a dominant theme that plays through all of them that we as writers subconsciously weave into every single one.

    Very excellent post, Ms. Patti!

  23. Helen, I'm lining up for coffee!

    Patti, I know you probably loved teaching, but we are blessed you laid down teaching and pick up the pen for writing. Looking forward to reading your books.

  24. Good morning, Patti! I'm not one to pull a plot out of a hat. I can come up with lots of "ideas," but as we well know a stand-alone "idea" does not a story make! I have to let ideas brew, layer--then "all of a sudden" (ha ha) there it is! :)

  25. Karen, Your support makes me smile! THANKS!

    RUTH, TELL US ABOUT THE 2013 SERIES! Surely wit's sprinkled in there liberally! And maybe a teenaged daughter character??? :)

    Jan, glad you are following the whirls and twirls and actually think it sounds plausible!!! Thank you!!!!

    Janet, is there ANYONE in ACFW who smiles bigger and embraces more graciously than you??? Thank you for making EVERYONE feel a part of something bigger. Praise God for your gift.

    Tina, I SOOO want to sit and chat over coffee. How do you EVER manage this wild locale...and manage to ferret out the heart of the matter???? So far my theme's those secrets, and if my next series is any proof, you've nailed things! However, not many seas are spanned in Normal, the setting for the next synapse storm!!!

    Patsy, what a nice post. God lets me out of the writing cage at least once a month through memoir-writing classes. What joy to be taught by the folks over at Luther Oaks Retirement Village. Talk about natural-born AUTHORS!!!!!

  26. MELISSA JAGEARS!!! Sooooo fun meeting you at ACFW, my friend, and hearing how you met your hubby!! I just LOVE a good romance, and yours was one of the best!


  27. ERICA ... your thought process, scare some people??? That's what you get hanging around Mary Connealy too much, girlfriend ... :)

    SOOOO great seeing you at ACFW!!!


  28. RUTHY ... thanks, sweetie -- crepes are to die for, aren't they??? Especially anything with peaches ...


  29. PATTI ... no grand baby yet, but I've had two nights of good sleep, so I am READY!!

    And I am FREAKING OUT HERE!!! My daughter-in-law is an OB-GYN and says I can be in the delivery room with her!! Say, WHAT??? She says they do that now, so I may just get to see my first grandchild born -- how cool is that????


  30. CARA SAID: "I wonder why Normal was named Normal!"

    Uh, well, it wasn't because of Patti, I assure you ... :)

    (Sorry, "Rebel" ... just couldn't resist!!)


  31. ANDREA SAID: "I've had a few Seeker induced Aha! Moments" ...

    I hope that's a good thing, sweetie -- not always sure with we, Seekers, you know???

    Missed you at ACFW, girl, so start praying NOW to go next year, okay??


  32. Thanks, SANDRA!! It was SOOOO fun rooming with you and Audra, girlfriend!!

    And, RUTHY SAID after her daughter asked her if her notes made sense, "I nodded and avoided her look of pity."

    LOL!!! Looks of pity??? As writers, I suspect we all live in a world of pity. Or ... is it just me and you???


  33. JAN SAID: "I think I spend all of my waking moments daydreaming....uh, brainstorming!"

    LOL ... GOOD GIRL!! It's definitely "brainstorming," not daydreaming or lollygagging or mooning. We are professionals, you know ... :)

    Missed you at conference, Jan!!


  34. JANET ... thank you, sweetie, and I totally concur with Patti:

    There is NO ONE "in ACFW who smiles bigger and embraces more graciously than you. Thank you for making EVERYONE feel a part of something bigger."

    AMEN to that!!


  35. Hi, Patti! It was good seeing you at the conference!

    Brainstorming is an interesting thing. I have done a lot of brainstorming while listening to romantic music, driving in the car, and generally just thinking about my characters and their situations. I think I tend to start with a situation, then the characters develop, then the plot. Sometimes I have to talk things out with someone else to figure out the details of the plot and conflict. But when I'm stressed about something, no ideas will come to me. I have to be in a somewhat relaxed state, I think.

    Awesome story idea, Patti! Keep up the good writing!

  36. You teach at a retirement center. OH MY what a cool thing to do. I am so jealous. Will look into this.

    In a former life I was the director of nursing at Oral Roberts University Village, Retirement Center.

    I love that age bracket..wow you really have blessed me with a mission now. Thank you.

  37. Patti...this is an outline/brainstorming technique that I can latch on to! I get overwhelmed when I think of formal outlines, spread sheets, etc...I know they work for some people, but all that reminds me too much of my overwhelming college days : ). I loved your train of thought paragraph...my mind flies in a lot of different directions, too. I think my brainstorming for writing comes a lot from places, movies, novels, Bible stories, and other things that I find interesting. I may not have been there myself, but I want to go there in my imagination. Thanks for the post! I'd better run...my 2 yr. old son is really quiet which usually means there's some mischief taking place! : ) God bless~Stacey

  38. TINA ... you and Patti would SO hit it off, seriously!! You are both bottom-liners (like moi), and would bless each other TREMENDOUSLY!!


  39. Lord have mercy, Patti!

    I came home from the ACFW conference with an extra day built in to decompress, wash clothes, wade through email and all that jazz...

    Then I read your post and I'm whirling so fast, I feel like a whirly-gig!

    Yes, random thoughts is (are?) my middle name too.

  40. Melanie, I saw you here, there, everywhere but couldn't part the sea of fans to compliment you on your NOVEMBER release, "The Merchant's Daughter!" LOVED "The Healer's Apprentice," so expect MORE of the same excellence!!!

    Sigh. Maybe next year we can talk synapse stimulation...or NOT!!

    Tina, I have lots of lesson plans, etc., and would love to share how things get started (actually, with a book discussion meeting) patti@pattilacy.com!!!

    Stacey, Oh, DEAR ONE, TREASURE those moments. Gulp. Looking at the photos of my 25- and 23-year olds. Let's keep in touch, now that we know our synapses fire in the same irregular, crazy cylinders. (If I confess that I'm a Moral Premise pupil and may resort to all the Stick-It notes, will you sever our relationship before it gets going????????)tion

  41. Patti, what an amazing post!! I love how your brain works. Can totally understand it! :)

    You know, my last book idea came from watching a dad and his daughter on a flight from RWA in DC back to Atlanta. I took that one little idea and ran with it.

    Your new book sounds amazing. I can't wait to buy it!

  42. I weave snippets of my own life into my books. Great ideas here.

    Jodie Wolfe

  43. Hi Patti! Your brain is scary, in a familiar kind of way. Looking forward to reading Reclaiming Lily. Interesting to see how much goes into one of your novels. I already know I'll enjoy it.

  44. Thanks Patti for sharing your secrets to brainstorming...what a big help:) In my 1st draft MS which I'm working on I do include snippets from my own background like living in a tiny house with many of us children, a near rape scene and lots of pioneering moments(as a kid my family pioneered 1 1/2 sections of land...lots of rock/root 'pickin':). I've been told my MS is fairly graphic...not really sure how to tame that down and still 'keep it real'. I wanted to write what I love to read...and I need 'real and vivid' to keep my attention. Any ideas?
    Thanks for being here on Seekerville! You book sounds great...I would love to be entered for a chance to win:)


    lornafaith at gmail dot com

  45. Patti, this is a cool post. The jumping from life to imagination to what's next to what if. That is exactly how it happens and it's fascinating to see someone who's managed to write it down and keep track, to give us a look at the inner madness. :)

    It was fun getting to know you better in ST. Louis.

  46. So we're all somewhat certifiable...

    I love disjointed plotting. We had a great plotting session in St. Louis (when Myra thought we were slacking) and managed a great story idea for Pam and Audra... Loved 'em.

    Mary was bossy. But she's smart so we let that go.

    And she ordered us a coffee service. Really. She did this. For us. For our plotting session.

    Gotta love her.

    Patti, I love exploring deep subjects like this in books. The whys and wherefores... the turnarounds. The growth it allows.

    What makes you embrace a tough subject like self-mutilation?

  47. Wow, these are so great! I can't wait to read them!

  48. And, Patti, I wanted to tell you how much I love the cover (and the premise) of your book. Very intriguing!

  49. Pam: NOOOOO! Someone as cool and collected-looking as you has BRAIN TWITTER??? I cannot believe it!!!

    Sigh. I still am unpacked from conference. How long will my husband keep quiet about those bags piled behind the bedroom door????

    Missy, glad we are connecting, girl! Missed seeing you at ACFW! I remember that plane story. Amazing.....Will you be at SOKY again this year????

    Jodie, thank you for relating!!! You seem like a sweet person...so why are you hanging out at Seekerville? :) :)

    Patricia!!! It has been WAYYYY too long. And what do you mean scary in a familiar sort of way? You have been one of those ones who's "familiarized" yourself with my books since DAY ONE!!! Praise God for influencers like you!!!!!

    Lorna, Jan Stobbe once shared, in a seminar, to write what's on your heart, what's real for the situation, and then work with the houses, etc., later re what needs to be tamed down. I now need to climb on my Audience of One soapbox and beg everyone to write that story for Him. The Lord God is absolutely our ultimate contest judge, publisher, purchaser!!! Bless you, sweetheart!!!!

    Mary, YOU like MY method??? YAY!!! I will sprint out the door in a few minutes with ANOTHER blessing from God. And if I get to know you better next year, will you order coffee service for me??? :) :)

    Ruth, it truly was the reality that a woman not THAT far from my age has self-mutilated. If a Christian sister is suffering such angst, how can I NOT talk about it, work through it, search for God's redemption, even in THIS (Romans 8:28)?????

    God CAN and does work for good in ALL things in the lives of those who love Him, who call on His name!!! That plot ending can change the world!!!

  50. Virginia, thanks for stopping by!
    Pam...I would be THRILLED if you would read my book...then tell me what I can do to make it better...

    next time.

  51. Jan Drexler~ Those genealogies are gold mines. I have two or three percolating story ideas based on family histories. To my grandparents, these are just the way things happened, but for me, the romance rises to the top like the richest cream.

    Julie~ All those Aha! moments have been good so far. The latest such moment came from Shirley Jump's guest post on conflict. I'd been trying to force story elements into place, but they just wouldn't go. Reading that post was like flipping the magnets. I figured out the big issue and then all the little things went right where I wanted them. It was really great.

  52. Thanks for the ideas on brainstorming, Patti! I write a lot of stuff down like that but I was always losing them, so now I keep a special journal in my purse just for story ideas, characters, plot twists, etc., so I can find them again when I need them! I also work on ideas when I have down time at work, such as when I have literally waited more than an hour for a court case to come up. Somehow, I find that the best time for brainstorming...

    Yes, I use snippets from my own life in my stories...mainly as little anecdotes, or similarly shared experiences. But just more exaggerated! The main character of my novel is a lot like me, personality-wise, but comes from a broken family and has just found out her dad's new wife is expecting sextuplets. Um, not MY life...


  53. Loved walking through the process with you! And I can't wait to read this book!


  54. I loved reading about your plotting techniques, Patti! Mine are similar.

    My latest story idea, though, came from an old photo I ran across on the Library of Congress website. The title and subject of the photo were perfect for a Inspirational Romance book and the plot ran from there.

    Reclaiming Lily looks like an amazing read!

  55. Patti -- loved your post! I can truly relate to trying to harness the whirlwind of thoughts. Can't wait to review Lily for Faithfulreader.

  56. Brain twitter?


    Now that you mention it, that's exactly what it sounds like in my brain most of the time.

  57. Patti,
    The cover to your new book is gorgeous. WOW! What a drawing card!

    And I love the 'premise' behind your post. I LOVE brainstorming...I just wish more people who lived in my life liked to brainstorm with me. You know, I usually get that 'blank stare' from the 'normals' in my life :-)

    But I've just started reading Stan's Moral Premise and it puts a whole new spin on the 'heart' of a story.

    Love seeing you this weekend.

  58. Andrea, what beautiful writing! I love the part about the cream...and your rich legacy! Your books will be awesome!!! NOW I plan to keyword search Shirley's post. Could use a little conflict help myself!!!!!!

    Stephanie, Oh NOOOO! Will you be able to preserve you and your husband's relationship and refrain from writing about sextuplets??? THANKS for joining the Twitter-brained, Tweeting crowd.

    Speaking of...Julie, you will be a GREAT grandmother/mom in that hospital setting. Have had that TWEEEEEEETTT stored up for a few hours and just knocked it out with a good jog in the rain!!!

    Y'ALL!!!! Joy survived rooming with me at ACFW!!!! Can you believe it? But note that her post isn't very long. Her ears and brain is tired.

    Natalie, SOOOO cool! I just got an idea of the historical (not hysterical, Julie) kind after reading Doris Kearns Godwin's FABULOUS "Team of Rivals." If you like Pultizer Prize-winning, brilliantly written, life-changing books, this one's for you!

    SUSAN!!! You got on!!! YAYAYAY!!! ?Cannot wait for our brainstorming time somewhere between there and Normal. Won't that be fun???

  59. Pam, next conference,I want to get to know you better. Methinks you are fascinatingly complex and fun:)

    Pepper, my husband is the king of blank stares; know exactly what you mean. I enjoyed seeing you as well. You looked gorgeous at the banquet!!!

  60. Patti,

    I LOVE having the opportunity to crawl inside your beautiful mind--both in this post and at ACFW--to glimpse a genius at work. What a treat to see how the story took shape! You, my dear, are an amazing word weaver, a gifted soul, and a precious, precious friend. I can't WAIT to dig in to Reclaiming Lily (which found its way into my mailbox today!)and savor every delicious word. Blessings on your book launch, and you can bet I'll be spreading the word!


  61. Hey Laura, from May the K9 Spy...

    Do you help your Mom by sitting in her lap and looking deeply into her eyes when she sits quietly too long? Yeah. I knew you'd know what I was talking about.

    Mom's debut novel is about ME! So yes, most of it is based on stuff that really happened in our lives. It's up to the reader to figure out which parts are what though... And that's a BIG part of the fun! BOL!

    Congratulations to YOUR Mom and her book coming out this weekend. WAHOOO!! /backflip/

    may at maythek9spy dot com

  62. Diana, you are acting just like a sister should! I cannot WAIT until the brunch bunch folks see the photos. No, I haven't sent 'em yet; WAYY down the machete list:)
    Now get back to your rewrites!!!

    May, what a GREAT post. It took me aback for just a moment--actually, quite awhile :) Laura currently resides in the doo-doo house for peeing on my Korean son's bed while both Mom and Dad were out of town last weekend.

    We have grounded her from reading "Reclaiming Lily" until October 1st.

  63. Where has the day gone???

    Oh, yeah. Bible study at my daughter's church this morning, then catching up on emails, finishing the post-conference unpacking, helping hubby for a few minutes with his outdoor project...

    (Pant, pant...)

    Anyway, welcome, Patti! Oh my goodness, I'm reading Reclaiming Lily (advance reader copy) right now and simply enthralled!!! Wow, what a story!

    Whenever I pick up a book like this that is so rich in detail and emotion from page one, when I get to a stopping point I usually go straight to the author's notes at the end to read about how the story came about. It was fascinating to read how you pulled all these ideas and experiences together, Patti! I'm just blown away (and insanely envious!!!)!!!

    However...I can just hear Madame Agent talking you through the plot points in her unique yet utterly irresistible manner. How does that Star Trek Borg saying go?


    Great job, Miss Patti! Superb!

  64. Great to see how you take an idea and roll it with facts until you end up with a completely awesome book, Patti!

    It was lovely connecting with you at conference, and Natasha has a proposal template? GROAN!!!!

    Am I allowed to write the novel and then the proposal? Sounds way easier.:-)

  65. LOL, Naomi, that's the way I usually do it!!!

    And yes, Natasha does have a template.

    See above comment:


  66. Hey again, Patti--girl, I'd love to stay in touch! : ) I used to drive one of my co-teachers crazy because I would jump from this to that to something else in our planning sessions. She had to "train" me to stay on task : ). So I'm definitely capable of learning new ways of doing things and harnessing those ideas. I need a sticky note tutorial. I don't think I even own any : ). The kids would get ahold of those in minutes and turn it into a "handy dandy notebook", as my 4 yr. old calls it. Anyway, have a great evening! stacey

  67. Hi Patti,
    I found your comments on brainstorming so encouraging. Two of my stories have hit me upside the head. One occured while taking a walk with my husband on vacation. I began with what if...
    The other happened at work, and I mentioned to my son, what if it's a conspiracy...one story I've rewritten at least twice and will go back to one more time. The other I'm still trying to flesh out and make realistic.
    Thanks for sharing, and I'd love to be entered to win your book.
    Thanks again for sharing!

  68. Wow, Myra, coming from you, that is...HUMBLING! You cannot IMAGINE how she ripped and poked and prodded that vulnerable synopsis and my feelings. But it's all for the end product, right?

    Praise God y'all are not totally shunning this post. When I came home from conference and wrote it, everything seemed even MORE disjointed up there than usual:)

    Naomi, YES!!! E-mail me if you want a torture--I mean a copy!!! Oh, don't feel bad, I have done the novel first, then the synopsis (for, um, two books.) Like it better this way.

    Stacey, and I was a teacher, too, though I didn't quite "tackle" that young age! My synopses might have gone berserk!!!

    Jackie, wow! Thank YOU for stopping by. You know how those Seekers love their numbers, which, on days with their own ladies, are OFF THE CHARTS!!! Ahem. I think someone must've had to leave town or something today. Twitterly yours,

  69. Patti,

    So wonderful to meet you at the conference. I was so lucky to sit beside you at one of the lunches (or breakfasts). They all blur together! (I was one of those Canadians. Lyn Cote just called "Hi Canada" whenever she saw me!)

    Let me just say how amazing it was to meet all you lovely Seeker ladies (and friends of Seekerville). How wonderful and gracious you all are. The highlight of my conference for sure! (I missed a couple of you, but saw you from afar!!)

    Patti, I love that you kept repeating that you 'write what God puts on your heart'. I'm trying to keep that in mind as I dream up a new book to write!

    Thanks for sharing your brain-storming process!

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  70. Patti, I just finished reading THE RHYTHM OF SECRETS. It was hard to put down. I found myself wishing I could just stay home from work so I could read. Now I'm having the same problem while reading Julie's A HEART REVEALED. Your new book also sounds fascinating. I used to be a pastor's wife so I like the way you portray pastors'wives as very real people, not stereotypical. I'm not a writer, so can't answer your question. I did want you to know that I'll be looking forward to reading more of your work.

  71. Oh, yes. I try to put emotions that I have felt into my stories because then I know how to write it and make it more realistic. Sometimes I cringe at the thougth of putting my wonderful character into conflict, because I've grown awfully attached. LOL :) Great post!

  72. This comment has been removed by the author.

  73. Patti, that was amazing to read. Thank you for sharing your thought process.
    I used to have a plotting partner friend and we'd sit around my kitchen table drinking tea and plotting while our children acted out Disney movies.
    When she moved away, I was lost. Telephone plotting didn't work nearly as well. I still find I need to talk my story through out loud - even if I'm the only one listening.


    PS - sorry - the deleted comment above was mine. I forgot to sign out of my teacher account.

  74. Thanks for sharing with us Patti! I'm late coming in and it took a while to read all the post. Great subject.

    Carla if you see this we have twin brains. As I read your post I was amazed - I'm not alone. I think of them as pretend naps (stole that from someone) The kids may be wondering why mom takes so many naps :)

    Patti I use snippets of real life in my stories without realizing it. My 'first book' in 6th grade was an assignment. when the teacher read it she said "are you sure you haven't read a book like this before?" It was about a bird looking for his mother. I really thought it was original at the time.

    Now, years later I'm no longer subconsciously stealing others ideas but I do see parts of my real life in my characters.


    LOL ... when it comes to Natasha, that is SOOO true!! I learned it the hard way, but I have learned it, thank God!!

    And, Naomi ... repeat after me:


  76. Enjoyed this post! Would love to read your book, Patti! It sounds great. Thanks!

  77. Julie, thanks for coaxing - bribing? - Patti back to Seekerville!! Always an exciting thing when you visit, PL!

    So great seeing you at ACFW! I'm always sorry we don't have more time. Hmm, maybe next year...again, LOL!

    You must have been biting your cheek the whole time I was whining about not knowing how to write conflict on Saturday night. Wow, the stuff that flies through your head. You make all this sound so easy.

    Love your new cover and can't wait to get my hands on Reclaiming Lily. Popping over to Amazon to order my copy now.

    You better believe I'm printing off this post and will try to stuff the info into my brain.

    Did you really go to China for research?????

    Come back again soon, Patti!

  78. WOW! Great post, Patti! (and I LOVE how you spell your first name, btw *wink*). I definitely incorporate snippets (sometimes a little more than snippets) of my life in my writing--but so enjoy exploring characters and plots quite different from my own life. ~ Thanks for sharing with us, and since I'm visiting Seekerville late in the day, I brought "bedtime snacks" for whoever is hungry: Georgia Peach Muffins (warm from the oven) and homemade Trail Mix--Enjoy! :)
    Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

  79. P.S. Julie Lessman!! I didn't get to meet YOU at ACFW (I knew I should've worn my broken glasses more *sigh*). Hopefully I'll have the pleasure of meeting you one of these days! Hugs, Patti Jo :)

  80. Sue, OF COURSE I remember you, sitting next to my awesome former crit partner Eileen!!! A regret of the conference? That I didn't have MORE time to talk to you. Lord willing, next year. And keep on writing those stories of your heart!!!

    Pam....WOW! You made my night!!!
    I did have help from the church secretary on "Rhythm of Secrets" :) We had such fun whipping up our dear Thelma!!!
    Cannot WAIT to hear from you after you read "Reclaiming Lily."

    Dear Pam, we have the same problem. I am ITCHING to read Julie's new book but am up to my neck in weeds and need to machete some stuff before I can even THINK about it!!! I'll look for YOUR review if you'll look for mine:) :)

    Faye, how SWEET! I have NEVER considered my character, taking Mary Conneally's approach (and also that of many other great writers) of killing off everyone when at wit's end of what else to write!!!!!

    Mary, you are SO POLITE!!! I actually thought we had a ring tail tooter on the blog and Julie or some other Seekerville bigwhig had to delete a comment!!! I'm really sorry that your accomplice--I mean, plotting partner--moved. Erica Vetsch, a GREATTTT writer, told me this weekend that she READ ALOUD her manuscript to her college-aged daughter, who FIXED the issue. Guess there IS something to that reading aloud!!!! Maybe THAT's what I need to do with this WIP...

    Jamie, glad you are percolating right along with Carla!!! WOW!!! I did the SAME THING with all my reads, actually rewriting stories like "Beautiful Joe" and "Black Beauty." Of course sometimes the horse was a Palomino, the dog, a Collie. I did not totally get the plagiarism concept until college!!! Surely you learned it much sooner :)

    Jackie, oh woman of few words (is there such a creature????) nice to have you here! You are now officially entered!!!!

    Audra, I had a BLAST talking to you and wishing I could meet those kids. Whining? You haven't HEARD whining if you thought THAT was whining!!!! Yes, I actually spent 17 glorious days in China's nontouristy areas. A woman who'd lived with us for about a month agreed to be my tour guide, banker, translator, and explain to everyone how old I was and why I was the ONLY woman in CHINA chopstickking with my left hand! With Sue, I hiked six miles on the Great Wall, lived in a walled village home, sat on hutong (alleyway) stoops and "chatted" with locals. They all wanted to know why my shoes were so ugly and how much money I made. Of course I didn't tell them about my royalty checks.

    Oh MYYYY. How did I get on THIS SUBJECT? Just showing y'all what it's like up there, folks. Just showing y'all what it's like.

    Patti, WHAT A GREAT WAY to finish out my Seekerville posts! Glad to take a peach muffin...or three!!!

  81. Shoot, Patti Jo. You were at ACFW and I didn't get to meet you? We should have a special table for the Patti, Patty Patricia, Trish, and Pat types.

    Cool group, if I do say so myself:)

  82. Patti, I'm late in getting back over here and just saw your question. I hope to be at the SOKY Book Fest again in 2012!

  83. Patti, Evernote can be found here and downloaded for free:

    Open a "new note" (title it any topic you wish) and then you can save all your bookmarks and research notes all in one easy place. You can even access it remotely.

    And you don't even have to remember to save your work, it does it for you.
    I find it very easy to use. I haven't really studied all the advantages to it, but Mike Hyatt loves it and can give you some pointers: http://michaelhyatt.com/how-to-organize-evernote-for-maximum-efficiency.html

    I hope it might come in handy for you, and others!

  84. Thank you, Carla! And thanks to all the Seekers who made this a WONDERFUL day!!!!

  85. Coffee and breakfast sound perfect, Julie--gotta keep those gray cells churning!
    Thank you for your post, Patti. What fun to step inside your head! It's good to know these chronic mental gymnastics are actually a shared condition among writers--you've documented it beautifully and vividly!
    I see so clearly that I missed MUCH by not being at ACFW this year.
    Yes, I use snippets from my life in writing, too--often the emotions or things I thought while going through an experience rather than the experience itself.
    I'm looking forward to reading "Reclaiming Lilly!"

  86. Oh my goodness, Patti! What a story!! I was wonderful to meet you at ACFW. Wish I could've sat and talked with you, but we always have blogger. *grin*
    Your brain energy twists mine into knots, btw. LOL That's a lot of thinking going on in your head!

  87. Cathy! So good to see you here! So I can claim synopse kindredship with YOU??? Good thought for slow-starting Tuesday! You WERE missed at ACFW...

    Jessica, let's schedule some time before next year, if God gets us both to...Dallas! You are such a lovely lady...but can I trust one whose mind isn't firing intermittent and random synapses????

  88. Hit the "PUBLISH" too soon, and I'm blaming it on coffee jitters. Seekers, if you have not read Cathy Gohlke's books, RUSH to your favorite site and PLACE ORDER!!!
    TWO novels, TWO Christys. My favorite? A tie between "William Henry is a Fine Name" and "I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires." What's coming for Cathy? Think Titanic.
    Yes. God willing, it'll capsize your way of thinking about Christian novels.

  89. PATTI JO ... SAY IT AIN'T SO!!! You were at ACFW and didn't come down to the lobby bar after 9:00 PM to meet us???? As my schoolteacher aunt would say -- demerits!! NEXT YEAR, darlin', and NO excuses!!

    CATHY GOHLKE!!! Soooo good to see you here, girl -- STILL thinking about your book!!


  90. PATTI ... You did an OUTSTANDING job, girlfriend -- thanks for hosting Seekerville today!