Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Well-Trained Author: Supercharge Your Brain to Generate Great Ideas with Guest Beth Goddard

This is my first time to visit Seekerville as a guest, and I’m so excited to be here.

I know it seems like such a “no-brainer” that you need an idea if you want to write a novel. That’s the basic building foundation, right? But I’m here to tell you that you need much more.

When I attended my first writer’s conference back in 2001 (American Christian Writers), I met DiAnn Mills, Lynette Sowell and Kathleen Y’Barbo.  I think they were the only novelists at this particular conference. I asked them how they came up with their ideas. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine I would ever ask such a question because since then, I’ve trained my mind to do just that and now it’s a struggle to shut the idea machine off.  But at the time, I didn’t have a clue.

So if you have an idea and you’re working on your novel, I have some news for you. Publishers don’t want a book.

They want an author.

Let me explain. Editors want someone who has more than one book idea and not just someone who has one book idea, but an author who has great ideas—lots of exceptional and unique ideas.

Maybe you’re there already or maybe you’re still learning how to find the ideas. But even with a well-trained mind, you probably need to refresh your process for honing those unique ideas that will catch an editor’s attention. I know I do.

Sure you need to find your voice, perfect you craft, and network—no one ever stops doing that, even someone at the top of their game. But I’ll venture to say that more than great writing, editors and agents are looking for that great story and lot of them to follow. They want a prolific author.

The good news here is that with unique and exceptional ideas communicated through great hooks and pitches, you’ll see less rejection. A great idea will open doors for you.

An agent I spoke with at length on this topic shared that at conferences, he listens to people pitch their books all day long.  Example: Someone will pitch a book. It’s the story they’ve been working on for a year, two years, maybe five. But they only have one.

One is not enough. This particular agent wants to see that someone is a prolific writer. 

Over the years as I’ve learned how to find ideas, my question has morphed from where to find them into how do I find enough time to turn them all into stories.

I translate that into: So many ideas, not enough time, or so many ideas, not enough brain.

But here’s the catch: Though ideas are everywhere, not all of them are blockbusters. Not all of them are something that will catch an editor’s or agent’s attention.

One way to develop an eye for not only what makes a great story idea that will catch attention, but compelling writing to showcase that idea, is to judge a contest. You’ll quickly begin to see how to open a story in the best way and what kind of story and writing stands out. 

The point is that the more you practice, the more easily you’ll be able to come up with ideas to create a pipeline of potential novels. You’ll be able to prove that you’re an author. Not just someone who has written a book.  And you won’t have to count yourself as one of the many who one day wants to write a novel. Anyone can do that, as self-publishing has shown us. But not anyone can write a great novel with a great idea, and do that repeatedly.   

Of course story ideas start differently for everyone. For some people it starts with a character, for others a setting, or some other plot element. I write romantic suspense, or romance with a suspense element. Normally, I start with a setting or a situation..

I’ve listed a few things to get you started on filling an idea file. Again, this list might seem like a no-brainer if you’re a seasoned author, but it always helps to refresh and remind ourselves.

1) Curiosity—stir up your curiosity to learn more about things that interest you.

2) Teach yourself to be interested in more things. Broaden your horizon by reading widely from magazines and watching the news, discovery channel, etc., to find stories. TIP: I don’t read looking for stories, I simply read. When something snags my attention, then I know to look more closely. 

Make a list of the magazines or other reading where you could elicit ideas. One of my favorite magazines to generate ideas is Wired Magazine—I love this one because the articles are completely random. You never know what will be included. Because I enjoy adventure and travel stories, I also take National Geographic and National Geographic’s Adventure Magazine. I even read through my local electric company co-op magazine.
3) Talk to people and observe them. They’re a wealth of story ideas and also inspiration for characters.

4) Real life (goes hand in hand with talking to people)

    Example: In my story The Camera Never Lies, I knew I was going to be short on word count and needed to add another chapter or so. Friends shared a story about the husband taking Ambien and they discovered that he was buying Jesus, Mary and Joseph dolls from an infomercial while sleeping. That inspired me to write about my main character’s mother sleeping walking and added another layer to the mystery—had her mother committed murder in her sleep. Of course, I also added the purchase of the Jesus, Mary and Joseph dolls.

5) Explore things that you’re passionate about. Example: Growing up in Texas I was always fascinated with the redwood trees that I’d learned about in school. I dreamed of seeing them one day. I never imagined I’d end up living close enough to drive to one of the state parks for an afternoon hike—it’s one of my favorite places in the world. I’m so excited that I now get to write those three stories set in the redwoods.

6) Constantly ask, “what if.” This one IS a “no-brainer.”

7) Make a list of all your favorite novels and movies and try to figure out why you enjoyed them. Is there a related theme that interests you? Or look for existing movies or plots and twist them around changing them up until they no longer resemble the original. Remember, there are only a few basic plots. Stars War, Harry Potter, and Eragon all share the same basic plot.

8) Most importantly, train yourself to recognize the right idea—that one that will stand out.

At this point, you might think you have a lot of ideas, but the next step is to determine if the idea is unique, memorable and marketable.

If something catches your attention as unique, unusual, or memorable, chances are it will catch the editor’s attention as well, and more importantly, the readers’ attention.

Tip: Be careful about where you get your ideas. We all filter similar things like a TV show, a country music song, an emailed urban legend, and the like that sparks an idea for developing a novel. Editors will see that same idea repeatedly. Avoid that.

This is KEY: Dig deeper into that idea and look for the not-so-obvious.

9) Last but certainly not least is a technique that I frequently use, though I don’t think it’s that popular. Be random

This is one of my favorite ways to generate a story. I come up with a random blurb and then it’s like a game or a puzzle to turn that into a compelling plot with complex characters and high stakes. You’d be amazed at how successful this can be.

I hope you got something for this article, and now that I’ve written it, I’m itching to find something new and unique that I can use to write my next proposal!

Elizabeth Goddard is a 7th generation Texan who lives in East Texas with her husband and four children. She and her family recently spent five years in Oregon, which serves as the setting for several of her novels, but in 2010 they returned to Texas to live near family again. She writes for Barbour, Heartsong Presents and Love Inspired Suspense. 

You can find her on at or on Twitter and Facebook.

Oregon Outback - a four-in-one novella collection - Coming July 2012 from Barbour Publishing.

The harsh, yet peaceful Oregon Outback molds the lives of four rugged brothers who stumble into love.

FBI agent Jonas Love has brought trouble back home, endangering his life and that of an old flame. Cattle rancher Carver Love finds himself falling for the sheriff in the midst of chasing down modern-day rustlers. Thrill-seeker Lucas Love fears nothing—until he meets a beautiful bookkeeper. Justin Love is trailing a fugitive who’s heading too close to home—and one particular lodge keeper.

How will God protect these men as they risk their lives to defend the ones they love?

Today Beth is giving away one copy of Oregon Outback to one of our visitors. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition!  Thanks, Beth!


  1. I really enjoyed this post. I especially appreciated the statement, "Publishers are looking for an author,, not a book." Great book don't happen by themselves. It takes a writer to make the book. That's really good advice to take to heart. Thanks for all the lovely ideas on how to supercharge my brain. I have copied and pasted this article to my desk:)

  2. Hi Beth!

    Thanks for the great post - this one is definitely a printer-offer.

    I thought this was interesting: "...editors and agents are looking for that great story and lots of them to follow. They want a prolific author."

    So a successful author will have that ability to take story ideas and turn them into great stories - lots of great stories. What a goal to shoot for!

    Now I just need to make the time to write all those stories :)

    I'm leaving a late night snack of scrambled eggs with ham and cheese - compliments of my son. He just got home from work and is starving (his usual condition - the poor guy is skinny and eighteen years old).

    I'll see you all in the morning!

  3. And I've set up the coffee pot to have fresh brew to go with Jan's eggs, ham, and cheese.

    Thanks for the insights, Beth. Some of these I'm better at than others.


  4. Ink in the Book! Welcome to Seekerville and is that the coolest pix or what???


    This is a terrific list of idea generators!!

    I realized I don't use all of them. I need to stretch my idea muscles. Thanks for the help!!

  6. Given that I spent 11 years in Oregon, I'm definitely in the contest.

    One question I do have is that you said agents/editors are looking for an author, pointing out whether or not an author has more than one idea. What is the best way to do that and make it sound professional (i.e. that you're just not throwing things out there). I've pitched two books in a session, which matches the number of manuscripts I've completed and thought ready for publishing. Should an author be ready to pitch as many topics as possible?

  7. I second Tina, Ink in the Book has a super cool picture!

    I have a book set somewhere unlikely, I've never heard of a book in the CBA set there and every time I mention it, I get asked more about it--forget plot or premise, just the setting. The first time was to an agent in this sentence, "And I could possibly set a sequel here" and she wanted that book. UM, at that time I didn't even have a plot, just a setting. SO that was the next book I wrote!

    Can I be super excited here? I have 3 agents interested in one of my books as we speak, and the editor that asked for my book from my contest win has said if they don't decide real soon can she go ahead and read it? Oh my word, I hope something comes from this!!

  8. Oh, and I just recently started doing things with #7. If I read a book I ABSOLUTELY love I start to dissect it on what exactly makes that the best book for me, because if whatever that foundation is makes me happy, I'm sure I'd LOVE to write it.

    Recently I decided to try to think of two of my favorite stories that I could mash together--and I really like the idea that came out of it. had to share with hubby and he really liked it too.

    But oh yes, the hard thing is to figure out which story to do next, not enough time or brain!

  9. This gets my brain clicking. I have several ideas in the pipeline, but I'm having such trouble with plot and character arcs in my current MS, I'm afraid to mess up another good idea. :/ Working on it, though.

    Great post!

  10. Oh, forgot. When you said not all of your ideas are blockbusters, I have a pile of virtual book idea notes. And a few books ago, I was trying to decide what to write next but none of them said, "This is the BEST" there was no blockbusters screaming out to me. So, I wondered if I could combine two of my ideas into one.

    Then I got excited! So if you have a list of ideas already but none of them seem worthy enough, see if you can combine any of them.

  11. OH, MELISSA!!! I'm so excited for you.

    You are such a terrific writer I know lots of good things will come from it.

  12. Beth, this is a simply wonderful post about channeling ideas into storylines. Thank you so much for being here today!

    I agree... publishers are avidly hunting authors, not books. It's in everyone's best interests to develop a stable of authors the readers identify with...

    And that takes repetitive sales.

    Great post!

    Jan, the eggs are cold. :)

    Helen, the coffee is wonderful! You've put a smile on my face. And I heated Jan's eggs up in the microwave... what???? I was supposed to wipe down the microwave FIRST????

    Folks do that????

    Too hot to bake in upstate. I'm treatin' the lot o' youse to ice cream sundaes later.

  13. wonderful post that had me thinking...have I utilized this one,, that one? I love to plot and the last one on your list is a lot of fun.

    Thank you Beth - your novellas sound great and are probably great examples of putting your post into practice.

    Walt has a good question --I'll be back.

  14. Good morning, Beth.

    I love talking about ideas and where they come from. Like you, I've always got more ideas going than I have time to write.

    From the time I was a child, I always entertained myself with the "what if" game. That was my way of entertaining myself when I had to be somewhere I couldn't read (like in bed with the lights out).

    Ideas are the fun part of writing - before you have to get down and dirty with the hard part.

    I get ideas from just about anywhere. I shared this on some blog recently but I'll say it again cause I love the example.

    One morning in church, I noticed that a man a few rows in front of me had a stuffed bunny sticking out of his back pocket.
    I know I shouldn’t have been plotting in church but I couldn’t help it. That bunny had me asking all sorts of questions in my mind and before church was over, I had the rough outlines of a story.

    Off to my last day of school. I'm SO excited to have the whole summer ahead to write and ask WHAT IF?

  15. I enjoyed this post. I never thought ideas could come from so many places. Thanks for the chance to win your book. It sounds great! Ruth, I would love a sundae! It is going to be in the 90's here today. May I have hot fudge, please?

  16. Welcome, Beth!

    I love to brainstorm with others. You've given me hope for some of my stories that I wonder if they're good enough to pitch. So maybe I'll keep them in my back pocket in case I ever get asked if I have other stories.
    Now to figure out what an agent is really looking for.

    I enjoyed your post today. Thanks for sharing.

    Jackie L.

  17. Hi Beth,

    This is a great post.

    I like to learn about unique occupations for the hero or heroine and then start asking what if?

    A good place to find out about unique occupations is watching public television. They have so many programs that spotlight regional or local people and their occupations and hobbies.

  18. This is so wonderful. I feel much better about getting excited by articles in Mental Floss. Check it out.

    One thing I have learned is if one idea does not lead to another than you are shutting down your creative flow. I thought I should concentrate on one book that is based on someone I know but three story ideas have come from that first idea.

    Peace, Julie

  19. Beth,

    Thank you for such a great post! Point #8 really stood out for me; to make sure your idea is a great idea and isn't the same one everyone else has.

    This is a definite post to keep!


  20. Mary Curry! You're still in school. Wow. Ours ended weeks ago.

    Don't forget you owe me a chat.

  21. So where does everyone keep their ideas I wonder?

    I keep mine in a recipe file box.

  22. And what percentage of writers do you think get their best ideas while working on their current WIP. Which makes us insane as we try to finish one so we can move on to the next great IDEA.


    OMG ... LOVE the Jesus, Mary and Joseph story!!!

    Ironically, I get my ideas on the treadmill. They seem to fly as fast as the belt, so I always keep a notebook handy.

    Definitely a keeper post!!


  24. Welcome to Seekerville, Beth! Thanks for the list of idea starters! Fun practical ways to build our creativity muscles.

    I write historical romances so history has triggered some of my story ideas. That, What if...?

    Recently a one liner came to me that would be a terrific opening hook. And generated all kinds of story possibilities. Amazing. We need to carry pen and paper to record those flashes of creativity.


  25. Melissa, I'm thrilled for you!!! Keep us posted here in Seekerville.


  26. Beth, welcome to Seekerville.

    I love posts on generating story ideas. I can relate to "So many ideas, not enough time, or so many ideas, not enough brain."

    Ideas are flying through my head all the time, it's pinning them down and working on them that gives me fits, LOL!

    So glad you stopped by today. Please come back soon!

  27. Yayayay, Melissa! When it rains it pours, right? C'mon editors and agents. Don't let a Melissa Jagears original pass you by!

  28. So glad you enjoyed it! I hope it helps you fire your brain up! LOL

  29. First, good morning everyone! I'm having my coffee and I must be a later start here in Texas. LOL

    Thanks for the welcome, Tina and everyone.

    Walt, I would definitely focus on one pitch at a conference, but there are ways to let the editor know that you have more ideas. Here is something I didn't put into the post. They still want to see that you are a focused individual. For instance, while trying to break-in, you want to focus on one genre to build your audience.

  30. Melissa, so glad to hear that you're already training your mind to be super productive with ideas. And yes, definitely I combine them all the time. My book releasing in December, Treacherous Skies, I combined a couple of those ideas. So anything you can do to mix it up can work.

  31. Mary,

    Just be assured you aren't the only one who has been plotting while sitting in church. I'm guilty as well! LOL But. . .so many times that comes from a spiritual perspective. Something the pastor says immediately turns into a potential story. Sometimes I want to scream and say please, TURN OFF.

  32. Jackie,

    Keeping those ideas in your back pocket is a good thing. My back pocket is stuffed--until it's the right time for THAT idea.

    Rose, public television is a great place to find ideas for sure. Another place is I've spent weeks searching for just the right thing only to find that discovery channel had already done it! LOL OMYGOSH. So my new thing is to look THERE first and save myself some time.

  33. Okay ya'll, I've finished with my first cup of coffee, now I'm ready to go!

    I think the biggest problem is that we don't have enough PUBLISHERS! Sure, there's self-publishing, nothing wrong with that, but I love the idea of having someone who know what they're doing it love my project enough to buy it. That gives me a real sense of validation. Anyway, I think we need more publishers so we can get more of our ideas out there. LOL

  34. MELISSA-EEEEE! I'm super excited for you! Looking forward to hearing what results from all this interest!

  35. Melissa,

    Congratulations on all your interest and it definitely sounds like you're on the right track. AND this time setting was what got their attention, so SEE, you have a blockbuster setting from the sounds of it. I'm a settings person, too--the setting will usually catch my attention first. And like you've already discovered, that can be what make your story unique. Looking forward to hearing where this takes you!


  36. Elizabeth--I loved your words of wisdom here. As a newer writer, it's helpful to know what agents and editors are looking for (an author not a book, someone with lots of unique ideas, a focused writer). Thanks for all the great suggestions to develop more ideas. It seems like the easiest way for me to get ideas is through talking with people.

    I loved your #9 idea, in part because it's different from how I operate. Be random. I'm going to have to try that one. Thanks for sharing here today!

  37. Interesting that so many of you are inspired by setting.

    I am inspired by snippets of conversation.

    I keep tons of those snippets that I overhear on index cards in my recipe file.

  38. Melissa, congrats! Yes please keep us posted.
    Natalie, it's impossible to mess up a good idea. Hang in there.
    Marry C... plotting in church, LOL. There are worse things you could do in church. :-p

    Beth, welcome to seekerville. I am also random, and a Texan. I'm so glad you included agents and editors want authors, not just books. I can't tell you who what one hit wonder sang "Who Let The Dogs Out" nor can I name you every Casting Crowns Song that's been released.
    I want to be Casting Crowns, hehe.

  39. Hi, Beth!!! You all may not know this, but Beth has written at least one Medieval! I instantly liked Beth when I heard that. :-)

    These are great idea-starters, Beth. It's funny, but most of the time, my ideas come to me so gradually, I forget where the idea originally came from. But I got the idea for The Healer's Apprentice, at least the start of the idea, from watching the Disney movie Sleeping Beauty with my kids. And then I thought how fun it would be to write a series of Medievals based on fairy tales.

    I got the idea for the Regency I'm working on from watching Jane Austen movies--Emma and Mansfield Park, particularly. I get plot twist ideas from watching movies quite often. I love movies. Can you tell?

    I have often gotten story or character ideas from true life stories my friends tell me about themselves or family members. But it is a trick to come up with something "unique" each time.

    So, Beth, what are you working on these days???

  40. Nancy,

    Was it Milli Vanilli or Baja Men or someone who sant, Who Let the Dogs Out? Someone can google that one. LOL

    I love the random thing, too. It's a little different, I'll admit, but it's been fun for me when I've done that at times. Amazing what you can come up with.

    And Tina, so you keep your ideas in a recipe box. That sounds like a real treasure box. I keep everything on my laptop. I do have a notebook i occasionally write in, but I've found that I don't want to get up from my comfortable place with my laptop on my lap to go get my notebook! So, I just end up putting everything on the computer. :)

  41. It really looks to me that what an editor or agent is looking for is the same as readers want. We want books and lots of books, but they must be good novels for us to pick up the second one. i will read most anything, but to pick up another one in the series, it has to be more than mediocre. Thanks for the chance to mother LOVES these, and about the only ones i can get are new ones, cause she's read what's out there.
    Thanks again.

  42. Hey Melanie!

    So great to see you here. I'm with you--I love movies and we are movie fanatics around here. It's almost embarrassing. My kiddoes love video games and did you know there is a whole nother story world creation facet out there for THOSE! You can write video game scripts and win contests, just like in book writing.

    Anyway, we talk movies and characters and plots all the time and drive other people nuts.

    I love historicals and started writing there when I was learning craft and trying to get published, so maybe I'll join you in the REALM one day, Melanie! LOL

    As far a what I'm working on--packing for one thing--we are moving to LOUISIANA next week. And I just signed a two book contract for two more LIS books--high-stakes repo men who retrieve expensive planes and yachts from bad guys. :)

    Fun stuff!

  43. Tina asked where everyone keeps their story ideas - - I have a file on my computer, but usually, once I've written them down I don't really look at them again. If it's an idea I love, it just keeps cooking on the back of the stove.

    Beth, you said a new writer should focus on one genre to build their audience (I agree!), but how do you know when your audience is there and ready to accept a shift? I write Amish historicals, which I love, and have several ideas in the pipeline, but there's another historical idea threatening to boil over back there...

    I definitely need to make more time to write.

    Ruthy, thanks for sticking the eggs in the microwave for me. Just give any leftovers to the dogs...

    I'll take ice cream, please :)

  44. BETH!! You're on deadline and in the middle of a move and blogging with us.

    Oh, my goodness. You are amazing!!

    So how do you maintain any writing continuity through all this chaos.

  45. HI Marianne,

    Here's something to consider, I agree with you that they need to be good novels if you're going to pick up that next book, but in the good old days, writers were given that chance to grow as writers. Publisher/editors gave them time and helped them along the way. That's really changed these days, I think. But if you look at some of the great authors that everyone knows, they have been writing and publishing for YEARS in a lot of cases before the world discovered that one book that pulled them out of obscurity.

    So, I'll often give writers not just one chance, but several!

  46. Hi Beth, welcome to Seekerville! This one I really like.

    TIP: I don’t read looking for atories, I simply read. When something snags my attention, then I know to look more closely.

    It's not just reading though. I can feel it when something snags my attention, not always, I mean sometimes I'll think back to some small thing that didn't strike me at the time and get an idea but sometimes WOW, I'll be somewhere or hear someone make some offhand comments and BAM, I'm hooked. It's weird.

    Writer's think funny!!!!

  47. To go along with Beth's last comment, I just read an interesting article on Amanda Hocking, the self publishing "overnight" whiz kid who then went on to land a traditional contract for 2.1 million dollars.

    She wrote at down times on her day job, for 9 years then self pubbed.

    That's a ten year growing season.

  48. Jan,

    There are many different opinions out there. Quite a few authors write in several genres, but I'm talking about when you are just getting started. I've heard agents say when they are looking for an author with potential for many books, they still want them to be focused--in other words, know what they want to write.

    I admit, that I haven't known what I wanted to write even when signing with my agent! But he is an agent who has eclectic interests himself, and I had already published with Heartsong and Barbour so he took a chance on me.

    Now did I just muddy the waters?

  49. Tina,

    On the writing continuity, the chaos hasn't really started yet. LOL Right now I'm writing in the morning and blogging today. I get my word count in and then I pack. But I have an amazing husband who seriously knows how to pack. We have started with the books. Oh my goodness, and here I thought I'd given a lot of them away. Boxes and Boxes of books. It's INSANE!

    But he will pastor a little church and they have a library and they all love Christian fiction so we are going to a wonderful PLACE. lol

  50. I've had a story cooking in the back of my brain for a long time about barbed wire.
    I know that sounds so silly but barbed wire was a huge part of the story of the American west. And yet....BARBED WIRE????

    Someday when I write this book and it has only the most passing mention of barbed wire someone will say, "Where do you get your ideas."
    And I'll say, "Well, this one started with barbed wire."
    and the question asker will step back carefully, making no sudden moves lest I prove to be dangerous.

  51. Hey Mary!

    Thanks for the welcome.

    You're right. We DO think funny. And it's funny how I discovered that I shouldn't look for idea while reading, but allow them to look for me, as it were.

  52. Get settled in your 'brand' first and then expand. Write that different book and keep it and wait for your moment to spring it on someone.

  53. Mary,

    Concise advice. I like that. :)

  54. Okay Connealy, you need to fix that S key on your puter.

    It took me five minutes to figure out that atories = stories.

  55. Okay, I'm having "s" key problems as well. I keep trying to make sure I read back through my comments, but it makes me feel better to know I'm not the only one.

    Isn't it funny how we like to feel like we're in a community instead of all alone?

  56. Great ideas!! I'm working on several books right now and will be taking YOUR advice. I still remember meeting you at that conference, and I love how God has taken your skills as a writer and allowed you to show them to the world!

  57. That is NOT MY FAULT. I cut and pasted that from Beth's blog post.

    Of course I didn't Proofread my comment.

    I'll go fix it. At which point this comment of mine right here will look STUPID, but that's just the kind of sacrificial giving I'm famous for.

  58. Mary, great advice. Thanks.

    I have a barbed wire collection.

    Does that make me you?

  59. I just checked. It's fine in the blog, and yet I cut and pasted.

    I'm confused.

    And we all know how dangerous that can be!!!




    (Yes it is...shut up)

  61. Yes, Kathleen! You and Lynette Sowell and DiAnn Mills were the first Christian fictions authors I met and at my very first writing conference. I remember well. :)

  62. Okay. Barbed Wire and movies. . did you see the movie, War Horse?

  63. Yes, it IS fascinating!

    It's really my Dad's collection that he no longer had room for, so it's on my wall now.

    It's a larger and more complete collection than the one in the Kansas Historical Museum in Topeka.

    NOW you're really jealous, aren't you?

  64. Hey ya'll, not to throw in confusion, but you wanna see a picture of me in my wedding dress? I posted a blog over at Christiansread today. Hop over there but come right back.

    That story has some to do with ideas--and they accosted me while shopping for wedding dresses.

    The picture is twenty-plus years old, and I dug it out of a box and took a picture with my iphone. Who knew it would come to this? LOL

    Too many ideas, too little brain. :)

  65. What great ideas for finding ideas, Beth! Thanks for sharing your wisdom in Seekerville today!

    Tina asked where we keep our ideas once we collect them. I've used an index card file box. I also have a whole file drawer of newspaper clippings, many probably dating back 20 years! At one point I started an idea journal, where I recorded snippets of conversation, interesting names, plot ideas that came to me out of nowhere, etc.

    However, I don't use those systems much at all anymore. As Melanie said, ideas tend to creep up on me gradually, and I don't always know where they come from. I just go with them and hope they lead somewhere!

  66. War Horse and barbed wire. I wanted to cry! Glad to know it wasn't really happening to a real horse.

  67. Great post Elizabeth, and thanks for the encouragement.

    Jodie Wolfe

  68. I have NOT seen War Horse. There is barbed wire in War Horse?

    It sounds, based on Myra wanting to cry, like a bad thing.

  69. Hello, Beth! When I first read your title for this post "A Well-Trained..." I began thinking of a book I had used when my kids were young, "A Well-Trained Mind" by Susan Wise Bauer. It was a great resource for my children's Classics reading suggestions.

    LOL! I think I need some coffee. I had a long night and I wish it had been because I was up writing last night. Instead it was due to a cough that won't take the hint to go away!

    I'm glad you shared this about ideas! I'm have a few ideas and I've started two of them, but I feel very much like you did at your first conference. I'm full of questions and I want to ask them.

    I know I'm too late for Jan's scambled eggs with her having a hard-working teenaged son. I know what that is like to try and feed one! LOL!

    I will be ready for that promised ice cream sundae from RUTHY today!

    The weatherman said it is going to be hot this weekend, too. I will be glistening a little brighter this weekend. Smile. I had a dear friend who always told me that ladies glisten.

    Melissa, I'm happy for you! When I get more coffee in me then I'll be sure to Snoopy dance for you ;-)

    Stay cool, friends!

  70. Mary,

    The movie is a tear-jerker, and I don't enjoy those, honestly, but it's a historical and well worth watching and a million ideas will come from watching it. :)

    So you make take the risk.

  71. I'm so sorry, everyone, it looks like I hogged the comment page with my long comment :(

  72. Hey, Miriam! We used The Well-Trained Mind in our homeschool, too! I thought the same thing with the blog title :)

  73. Oh my goodness, Beth!!! You're moving Way Down South, girl! I'm just a hop, skip and jump away in Huntsville, Alabama. :-)

    Your new LIS books sound amazing! What an interesting idea to use "high-stakes repo men who retrieve expensive planes and yachts from bad guys."

    Very fun!!! And good luck with the move. I just met a couple of really super sweet writers from Louisiana a week and a half ago at a writers conference. Maybe I can put you guys in touch with each other, if you want. Do you have family in Louisiana?

  74. Melanie,

    I would love to know anything at all about writers in Louisiana. I have no family there. I know of two in LA, so pass me the information. You know my email right?

    Just in case. :)

  75. Melanie,

    Oh and I always pictured you in the north. Like Minnesota or something. Why is that? LOL

    I'm in Texas now, was in Oregon for five years, but all my family is in Texas. Thank goodness we are only moving three hours away this time instead of three days. Did I already say that somewhere? Sorry if I'm repeating myself.

  76. Yes, Mary, barbed wire was a VERY bad thing in that movie. Great story but requires a whole box of tissues!

  77. I'm a native Texan, Beth. We're in the Carolinas now, but back when we lived in Houston many years ago, I was in a crit group with DiAnn, Kathleen, and Martha Rogers . They guided me through the early days of writing Christian romance.

  78. Oh yes and I know Martha, too. I met her at my first ACFW conference, back when it was called American Christian ROMANCE writers and it was a small regional thing--maybe fifty people were there. She's a sweetie!

  79. Oh, Miriam, Ruthy is the Queen of Long Comments. You're going to have to try harder if you want that crown.

  80. I wonder if we have the same conference in mind, Beth. I remember DiAnn organized a small Texas ACRW conference at the Wyndham Hotel in Houston that I helped with. She spoke, along with Lena Dooley and Lynn Coleman.

  81. Mira,

    I think this might have been a different one. Becky Germany spoke along with Debra White Smith and it was at DiAnn's big Baptist church in Houston. Did you go to that one?

  82. Melissa! Three agents and an editor? Wow and double wow and congratulations!

    An interesting blog, Beth. Your comment about publishers looking for an author and not a book has me in re-evaluation mode. Thanks for the insight.

    Nancy C

  83. No, I missed that one. Can't remember why. The one I attended was in November 2000.

  84. Sorry, that's MYRA! As I already mentioned I'm packing and scrambling and need a LOT of grace. LOL

  85. You're welcome, Nancy and I hope it helps!

  86. Hmmm. Anyone speak German? I'm afraid I need a translator in order to respond to this last one. :)

  87. LOL--I see the German post was deleted. You are welcome to delete all references.

  88. O my gosh, this is such an amazing post! Thank you Beth, I appreciate your visit here!
    Seekerville, I'm thinking y'all are going to have to publish a book with all of these advices. It's really awesome what you can get here, on this blog.
    Beth Goddard said : 'And you won’t have to count yourself as one of the many who one day wants to write a novel. Anyone can do that, as self-publishing has shown us. But not anyone can write a great novel with a great idea, and do that repeatedly.' They need an author, not just a story. Wow, Beth that hit deep. I'll take this word for myself, because you see as an aspiring writer I'm thinking of joining this creative writing class for the next two years. But before I do that, now that summer is here, I have to be writing MORE.
    Inspiring post, really!


  89. Ganise,

    I so appreciate your enthusiasm and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy that you got something from the post! I wish your well on your writing journey!

  90. Hi Beth,
    So glad you could be with us in Seekerville today. Loved your post and topic.

    Grabbing hold of the right story idea is key, isn't it? So many float by that we have to ignore so we can concentrate of the one that grabs our imagination and won't let go.

    Congrats on your new two-book deal with LIS! YAY!

    Where are you moving to in Louisiana? I lived in Leesville for a year and at Fort Polk for two. Loved our time there. Great people. Mild climate. Yummy Cajun food.

    Plus, a move means new settings to explore for future books! :)

  91. We do have a few friends of Seekerville from Louisiana. Will have to look that up for you Beth.

    Isn't Robin Caroll from that area?

  92. What a great post, Beth! I love all the ideas. And Melissa , I love your idea of combining plots.

    Thanks for being with us today, Beth!

  93. See, posts like these always make me admire the Bronte sisters who wrote such incredible romantic dramas while living in caves.

    That's my goal. I want to live in a cave.

    Alas, I am not brilliant like a Bronte girl. So, this post was excellent for mere mortals like me!

    My brain is churning. In a good way.

  94. Debby,

    I'll be in the Alexandria area--which is central Louisiana. You're very right on grabbing the right idea out of all of the. Funny thing about using the setting for ideas now that I'll be living there, one of my first stories is set on a sugar plantation along the Mississippi. That one isn't published, but you never know. . .

  95. Thanks for the welcome, Missy.

    On those Bronte sisters, I never read Jane Eyre until I was in my late thirties and I LOVED it. I had to read Wuthering Heights in school, and I wasn't a big fan of that one because it seemed to tragic. I love an HEA. Even though Jane Eyre was tragic as well, at least they were together in the end--loved that. But hopefully, I'm remember the story correctly! LOL

  96. Beth,
    Alexandria was about an hour north of Fort Polk. A lovely town with the closest mall so I went there a lot.

    Winnie Griggs is a LA gal, as I recall.

    Lenora Worth lived in nearby Shreveport, but she's moving to FL. Probably didn't know you were moving to the state or she would have stayed put. :)

    Smiling about the setting of your first story. Love those bayous! A perfect place for a heroine to get into danger.

  97. Waving to Melissa J and trying to contain my excitment!!! Whoo-hoo!! You're close. So close. I'm getting chill bumps.

    Keep us posted!!!

  98. Jan, you have a barbed wire collection? Really? How much space does it occupy? I'd love more info.

  99. Oh, three hours is not bad! I am going to email you right now, Beth.

  100. To tell you the truth, until Beth's post today I forgot about my idea box. It's been buried on my desk. Time to pull it out!

  101. Oh Tina! I laughed out loud, literally, when I read your post. That's hilarious! You might not remember you have an idea box, but at least they're tucked away in a safe place. Forgotten Treasure. Now there's a story

  102. One day I decided that I'd used up all my useful ideas that I had listed. I mean that literally. . .these ideas were getting contracted.

    I needed something new and quick, so I sat down and this time, I admit, I read magazine and googled, searching for ideas. I filled up three whole pages with everything that caught my attention.

    Then I looked over all the ideas and chose three of those, and then I combined them, as someone else here mentioned.

    That story became TREACHEROUS SKIES, releasing in December with LIS. :)

    Anyway you can get idea is the right way.

    BTW: I'm a mentor at the ACFW conference so if you're going, ya'll come say hi!

  103. Okay, so my "S" key is SERIOUSLY acting up. Grace ya'll. Grace.

    I'm going to start packing some more now, but when I hear my iphone "ding", I'll know there's another post and respond. :)

  104. Late to the party but wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the post and all the great ideas!

  105. Thanks for stopping by, Jamie. I think we're good for a few more hours of partying. :)

  106. I'm probably going to "call it a night" soon, so I just wanted to say thank you to the Seekerville gang for having me on. I enjoyed it!


  107. Thanks, Beth, for being with us. It's been a great day in Seekerville!

    Hope your move is smooth, and you fall instantly in love with your new home.

  108. Thanks for this great post, Beth (I'm chiming in late today*sigh*) and it's yet another one for my Keeper files! I really like your straightforward (is that one word? LOL) way of writing--this was easy to follow--even as I'm getting drowsy by this time of day. Will definitely re-read when I'm wide awake! Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

  109. Beth, what a gracious guest you have been! Thank you so much for being with us today and sharing your insights.

  110. Wowzers i'm late today! It's been a crazy busy day though... research, more research [on a battlefield no less], swim/swim lessons [all my girls passed!] and so on.

    Anyway... great great stuff! I do these already I think. Or at least some of them. I'm on my 7th [and 8th, 9th and 10th] MSs with ideas for lots more so hopefully I can pull that part of it off...

    I'm so not coherent at the moment - sorry I missed out on all the fun :(. [And we're getting U-verse tomorrow so may be without internet tomorrow too! Whatever shall I do?! Hoping I can write while the guy does whatever it is he has to do...]

  111. I enjoyed the post very much thank you!!


  112. Enter me!
    God Bless!

  113. Sarah!! You have no contact information. You actually won in Seekerville either last weekend or the one before. (go look at the WE Ed) and we can't reach you.


  115. Excellent tips for finding story ideas. I especially like the "random" one - I plan on trying that one out soon. Thanks!
    Pam Zollman

  116. This book looks very interesting! Please enter me!
    Blanch, N.C.