Brain squirrels, rabbit holes, & characters being a**holes

by | Apr 8, 2024

I think it’s safe to say that every book I’ve written began with a single, tangible moment of inspiration, be it a snippet from an overheard conversation, a piece of a dream, or a “what if…?” question popping into my head.

Calliope Jones, from Magic Remembered, showed up asking, “What would a witch on the cusp of perimenopause have to do to claim her magic before it’s gone forever? Oh, and by the way, I’m divorced and my 2 teenage sons live with me.” A different female character woke me one morning with this provocative sentence: “Blood pooled at my feet with every beat of the heart cradled in my hands, and I hadn’t yet decided whether to eat the mineral-rich organ or stuff it back into my lover’s chest.”

Niiice…

In a couple of instances, the appearance of a side character sent me scrambling for my note pad, such the trio of Brodeur sisters in Once Blessed, Thrice Cursed, and Jake the dragon shifter, star of Paper Dragon.

During my recent bout of burnout, I didn’t completely stop following idea squirrels, or getting lost in research rabbit holes (I literally could not stop the idea machine even when I was flat on my back, lol…) Let’s take a tour through my Scrivener files (Scrivener is the writing app I use), and see what’s in the story queue:

Calliope: Oh my. There are 3 (count ’em, THREE!!!) different versions of MAGIC UNDERMINED, the future fourth novel in the Magic Series. Calli was my first fantasy heroine and I feel pressure, both internal and external, to do good by her and Tanner and the rest of their circle of friends and family. What I need is for one of the 3 ideas to become… compelling (perhaps by returning Calliope to the mysterious, blood-sucking trees) Because that’s when I know a handful of chapters has a chance of becoming a full-length novel.

Pandora: The first time I read the myth of Pandora (Greek version), I got pissed off. Some of those Greek philosophers and poets really had a thing against women. When I discovered Pandora was originally given an urn to bring to humans – not a box – I began to get intrigued. And then a modern version of Pandora began to talk to me from her day job at the café inside Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (I don’t always get to pick the settings, and she was insistent about this particular museum). Interestingly, this story doesn’t have a “working” title, and I think that’s one of the reasons why the story hasn’t progressed beyond 4 chapters and 10,000 words.

Elżbet (the indecisive main character contemplating eating her lover’s heart): I showed the first chapter to my treasured alpha reader, and to my youngest son (who plays D&D). They both wanted to know why I gave them so little to read, and when I explained that was all I had, they *might* have cried. So, yeah… I need to make time to explore Elżbet’s world. One thing I do know is her world is not connected to the world of my previous fantasy novels.

Mystery WIP #1: I was listening to the Casinos, Gaming Halls, and Clubs in Romance Novels episode of the Fated Mates podcast, and my brain went, “SQUIRREL!!! What if I took the Sex Club trope, only made it a _____ Club?!?!?!” I promptly divided my favorite Tarot deck into the major and minor arcana, shuffled, and pulled 5 cards from the major arcana for 5 possible Main Characters. Then, I pulled 2 cards from the minor arcana for each of the 5, and then 1 more for a little extra sauce, and came up with 5 potential novellas in the _____ Club Series. IF THIS SERIES HAPPENS, it’s going to be very tropey, very romancey, and very sexy. EVERYBODY will get their HEA.

Mystery WIP #2: This story has already gone off the rails. One of the MCs from the _____ Club Series wrenched the Scrivener file out of my hands, opened a NEW file, and started dictating. And OF COURSE, this is the story currently holding my imagination hostage. This MC will not let me work on anything else until his spot in the story queue is assured.

As my writing pals say, sometimes characters are a**holes.

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