One of the questions I guess I am asked the most is where ideas for my stories come from. Well, the short answer is, any and every where. Even my dreams. Which is what prompted my latest podcast. Below is the printed version, or if you prefer, click the link to hear it. Listen to Birth of A Story Podcast
Hello, welcome to today’s show. Like most writers, I have my own particular way of generating a story. I know I’ve talked before about the crazy way my brain works. I really wonder sometimes if it ever sleeps. More than once, I’ve woke up in the middle of the night with scenes and stuff, even dialog so firmly planted in my brain I question whether or not it really happened. In fact, more than one story idea came about through this – I don’t know, I guess you could call it this dream process of mine.
Last week, for example. I had a dream about this guy – no, not that kind of dream – although I am a romance writer so I can see why you’d think that. Anyway, it was what I call an idea dream about this man named Jake. And no it’s not Jake from State Farm and yes he came to me with a name -- and he had a story to tell.
So, the dream starts out with this guy sitting on a horse looking out over this deep ravine. He alternates between being sad and being mad, and in my idea dream, the first thing I do is start asking “why”. Why is he there? What happened? Where is he? What is the timeframe?
And that’s when the surfing starts. The best way I can describe that is like channel surfing. You know, you sit there clicking the remote time after time trying to find something to watch on TV? Well, that’s how my brain works in create mode. I get all these flashes of scenes, events, even dialog that scroll through my brain, one after the other. Eventually, it wakes me up and, crazy as it sounds, I can recall the essence of it all in detail.
So, what happens then? Well, when I get up, go to my computer and jot down notes for when I am ready to piece it together.
Well, In Jake’s case, the dream went on most of the night so when I woke up, it was time to get up. So, I started the coffee and went to my office and wrote my notes. After breakfast, because, Jake wouldn’t get out of my head, I went back to my office and wrote chapter one.
If you’ve read my books, you know that I write dual POV, meaning I write both the hero and heroine’s point of view. The one I choose to open with, whether female or male, is what will set the tone for the story. In Whispers On The Wind, and Chasing Hope, I started with the male POV. Secrets of The Heart and Mail Order Groom started with the female because that is what the story needed. In Jake’s case, it will start with his point of view because that is what sets the tone for the story.
And, I really like this idea and so I’m going to share with you my notes and that first chapter now.
OK…so here are the notes I jotted down. The strikethroughs are things I nixed.
Jake Holloway, age 42, single/widower/divorced man
. Grown or almost grown child?? Maybe. Owns Red Oak Ranch in central Texas. Has a dog named Biscuit Hondo; his favorite horse is a dappled gray mare named Misty.
His wife left OR Died four years ago;
an accident of some sort; maybe he was involved; not sure; rarely leaves the ranch except to take care of business in town, order supplies, etc. Anniversary of divorce OR wife’s death is coming up; brings about mixed feelings; needs to move on but so far hasn’t been able to.
I’m thinking contemporary – may change to western historical which will change everything about the heroine.
Scenario one: Has a daughter – thinks he needs a girlfriend and plays matchmaker Scenario Two: Has a son – doesn’t want his father to get involved with anyone else
How does he meet the heroine?
Scenario One: She’s a travel writer for a national magazine; doing a piece on central Texas; car breaks down
Scenario Two: Has accident/gets lost/car trouble maybe involving one of his horses/cows/dog and ends up on his ranch.
Can't be anything like his ex/deceased wife--must be vivacious, inquisitive, funny; outdoorsy; likes to camp/cook outside. Not too feminine. Loves kids.
Now….after some noodling on each of the scenario’s above, this is what the rough first draft of Chapter One became. Oh, and by the way, Jake said the story is called Texas Winds. We’ll see. And the original version has some other cuss words in it and I’ve kinda glazed over them for this reading.
Texas Winds Chapter One
Saddle leather creaked as Jake Holloway leaned forward and studied the deep ravine that changed his world four years ago. He wanted to fill the gaping hole with dirt, the way they did Mary’s grave. But nothing would ever fill the yawning void in his heart.
How many times had he sat here these last four years? How many I-should-have’s and I’m-sorrys clogged his throat? “Too damn many,” he muttered and pulled on the reins, turning Misty so he wouldn’t see the place where his life changed forever.
An accident. Just one of those things that happen on a ranch. She went for a ride; something spooked her horse, and they tumbled down the steep wall of the gully. The horse had to be put down. Mary survived less than a year.
He pressed his heels to the horse’s flanks, and Misty loped forward, self-blame weighing down on him as it always did when he came here.
They’d argued that morning. In fact, he couldn’t remember the last time they hadn’t started the day with angry words. But that day began differently.
He pulled Misty to a stop and let the memories in for the first time since the accident.
Scrambled eggs and bacon greeted him when he came to the kitchen. Mary stood at the stove, her skin-tight jeans and snug-fitting blouse accentuating womanly curves, her fiery red hair pulled back in a low ponytail with a dark blue bandana. Several wayward curls framed an ageless face. Her fair complexion held a rosy hue highlighting eyes of emerald green. She gave a timid smile as he entered and suddenly, the woman he fell in love with eight years before looked back at him.
Mary placed a mug of coffee beside his plate and sat down across from him.
“You’re not eating?” he asked.
She shook her head and took a deep breath. “We need to talk.”
“Okay.” He scooped up a bite of eggs as the little voice in his head that warned of danger kicked in. “About what?”
She spun the saltshaker on the table, eyes downcast. “I think it’s safe to say things haven’t been…pleasant lately.”
Well, no shit. They hadn’t had sex in six months and slept in separate rooms for the last three. Each day started or ended with an argument about something. Or nothing.
He put down his fork and wiped his mouth with a napkin. “And?”
The silence drug on, then she sat up straight and faced him. “I want a divorce.”
Before he could process that bombshell, she dropped a bigger one.
“There’s someone else.”
Anger, white-hot, and ferocious erupted. “Who?”
She flinched but didn’t look away. “It doesn’t matter.”
“Bull!” He slammed his fist on the table. “Who the hell are you seeing behind my back?”
To her credit, she didn’t flinch or break eye contact. “People change, Jake. We’ve changed. It’s time to accept that and…and move on.”
He pushed his chair back so hard it toppled over. “Seems to me you’ve already done that.” He stomped to the sink and back. “Who is he, Mary?”
“You’re angry, I—”
“No shit,” he shouted. “I’m mad as hell.” He paced around the kitchen, trying to calm his raging anger and process the conversation. He set the chair upright and braced his hands on the back. She wants a divorce.
Okay, so things had been a little strained lately, but he couldn’t see any reason for such drastic action. Whatever their problems were, they loved each other once, they could again. Couldn’t they?
He refused to think about the other man right now. “Why, Mary?” he asked as last. “Why?”
She continued to fiddle with the saltshaker, head down. “We’re not the same people we were, Jake. We want different things from life.”
“Meaning I want kids, and you don’t.”
Her eyes flicked left and right before re-connecting with his. “This ranch is all you want out of life. But I want more.” She stiffened her back and proceeded to gut him like a deer. “I don’t love you, Jake.” She took a deep breath. “I’m not sure I ever did.”
More hurtful, angry words followed, and Mary finally bolted out the back door in tears. Ten minutes later, her sorrel mare raced out toward the west.
When he calmed down, he saddled his horse and followed, his mind swimming with the key points of their conversation. She wanted a divorce. There was someone else, someone who appreciated ‘the woman inside’ or some bullshit like that.
He found her twenty minutes later.
The weeks and months that followed became a blur of doctors and nurses, specialists, and well-meaning friends who only wanted to help.
In the end, she lived long enough to give birth to a son.
A child that wasn’t his.
I’d love to hear what you think about Texas Winds and my writing process, so feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time, happy reading.