You've found the home on the net for romance writer, LaVerne Clark. Thanks for visiting! :)

I write suspense and light fantasy/paranormal set in the beautiful country of New Zealand. A land of myths and magic, Aotearoa (Maori for Long White Cloud) has always been a storytelling nation and it is my pleasure to share mine with you.

Make yourself your drink of choice, stay a while and feel free to leave comments. I love to meet new friends.

Heartpounding suspense and fantasy Downunder

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Finding Story Ideas - Anne Ashby

Please help me welcome fellow Kiwi and incredibly talented author, Anne Ashby. Little did Anne know that I was one of her preliminary readers for this book before it was contracted (hehehe) and I was absolutely blown away by the writing, characters and beautiful setting. After reading it, I had to read more of her work. Grab yourself a copy - I bet you'll be blown away too. 
Hi LaVerne, thanks for inviting me to join you today. I’ve been giving some thought to providing an interesting (and possibly helpful I hope) little spiel on some facet of writing and have come up with an idea I’d like to share.

Finding Story Ideas

One of the most frequent things a writer seems to be asked is “how do you come up with ideas?” For me the answer is likely to be an “oh, I don’t really know, they just pop into my head”.  I do find driving is great for me and my muse, swimming too. Probably that’s because my brain is pretty dormant during these times. Luckily, once I think of something it tends to stay with me, so I don’t have to hurriedly drive onto the shoulder, stop and grab a pen, or even more awkward, have a pen and pad beside the pool.
There are so few themes in romance stories and sometimes it feels a struggle to add something fresh and new to the mix. But finding a unique story isn’t so hard if you are open to the suggestions that abound around you every day. Surfing the net will bring you a gazillion ideas, newspapers and magazines heaps more. Song lyrics, TV programmes, talking with people, all add volume to the possibilities. For example, some years ago I read an article that brought tears to my eyes.  About a high flying business woman, it wasn’t until halfway through the article we learned of her youthful angst which this lady dismissed as irrelevant.  However to me it showed her enormous strength of character and I based Kelsey in ‘TIME TO BURY THE PAST’ on this amazing example. Reading of how she’d survived an abusive relationship, the means she employed to protect her child, miscarrying a second child because of a beating that almost killed her as well, finally running away and hiding for years until she knew her partner had died in a gang related incident. The horror of a young teenager needing to deal with such occurrences stuck with me and I wanted to share that even such horror can lead to a happier life. My most recent release ‘WILDERNESS LIAISON’ sprang into being after a walk down memory lane with my mother. We were chatting about a tramp (hike) we’d done along the HEAPHY TRACK some years ago and suddenly Shal and Jodie were the ones beside the swollen river.
                                                                     My advice is to be open to everything around you. I’m sure there are stories being written right now with a sports theme. So many exciting/interesting things have happened in London I’m sure some of them will be blended into stories. Perhaps the girl beside herself with happiness at winning a bronze or the one crying despairingly because she’d only managed silver could spark an idea for your heroine. Avoid the Olympics as a setting though, this will date your story. There are many other events which occur every year, use one of them instead if you do decide on a sporting theme.
But what I wanted to share with you is some great advice I recently read. I wish I had taken the name of the person posting it on-line so I could give her credit but unfortunately I didn’t. However I am going to share it anyway because it struck me as being a wonderful way to search for ideas. Every week this writer reads a magazine outside of her area of interest. What a great idea. You only need to visit the magazine section of the supermarket to see how much variety there now is. A city girl, she spoke of reading an article about a woman farmer that had spurned her into writing a story. Perhaps you might never use that particular idea/setting given in an article, but reading it will give you a greater depth of knowledge and understanding of human nature so your time will never be wasted. Maybe it’s not your hero/heroine but a secondary character who might become a karate expert, a heavy metal musician or a scrap booker. A DIY expert, a joiner or a quilter. The prospects are endless. Get off to the library or magazine shop, who knows what exciting ideas might be lurking within covers you’ve never considered opening before. Your next storyline and/or characters might be patiently waiting there.  Good luck and happy hunting.

Back Blurb

The concrete jungle defines financier Shal Gregory. He thrives on the liveliness and sheer vitality of the fast paced business world. So how does he find himself alone in the thick of the New Zealand bush with a feisty guide who undoubtedly despises everything he stands for?
Jodie Mathieson’s devotion to the wilderness fulfils her. She isn’t prepared for an intimate liaison with a man who clearly does not share her love of the great outdoors. But the sparks between them ignite and soon scare Jodie into flight.
Bewildered but determined, Shal tracks Jodie down and resolutely embarks on a course to convince her that having some differing life goals isn’t enough to keep them apart.
But can Jodie ignore past experiences? Dare she believe him?
The Wild Rose Press:            


  1. HI Anne funny you mentioned this topic. My great nieces and their mom and I made a trip to Austin to the LBJ Library and Museum in March I thought of an intriguing idea for a story. Not that it is going like I actually thought it would lol. I'm using it for my Camp NaNoWriMo project this month. SO I see how things will trigger an idea for a story.
    Thanks for sharing with us your ways of finding story ideas.

  2. Hi Kathy, thanks for stopping by. I have to admit mostly my ideas just arrive in my head from some obscure place but I loved this idea of checking out magazines which you normally would never look at. I've checked out a couple of my sons' gaming mags so far but nothing in them inspired me so I need to move on. Good luck with NaNoWriMo

  3. sounds like great novel. now i'm going to have to read it to find out whether they end up in the city or wilderness. (much like writing time travel romances and deciding in whose era they should remain...)
    and like you say, inspiration is everywhere.

    1. Hey Nora, you can be sure I'm not going to let on where they end up lol, although the word compromise seems rather appropriate. Thanks for leaving a comment

  4. You're not wrong. The back stories from the athletes and all the struggles they overcame were breathtaking. I'm similarly inspired listening to a programme called Desert Island Discs where again, the things that people have experienced personally are so different from their public personae.

    1. I dont know Desert Island Discs but if it can give some inspiration for new stories then its worth it I'm sure. Its so often the little things that give us pause for thought, then before we know its exploded into 65K words. Tks for stopping by Maddy

  5. Thank you for sharing Anne. I loved Wilderness Liason.
    Another place for finding inspiration is spending time in cafes people watching.
    Over your latte or flat white listen to the people around you, observe their body language and occasionally you'll overhear a snippet of conversation that will set your mind off in a crazy direction.
    It was a snippet of overheard conversation as I walked along a busy street that sparked the idea for "Ashlyn's Bodyguard".
    Two hardcase looking guys in gang leathers swaggered ahead of me on the street. I was keeping back, definitely not wanting to attract their attention.

    The bigger one said to the other in a deep threatening tone. "That f***** bird got a f****** death wish."
    The other one belched so loudl it echoed of buidlings. "Whazz's a Judge's daughter doin' with tha' f***wit?"

    I can tell you my mind boggled. But beleive me I couldn't get that snatch of conversation out of my mind.
    Who was the bird? Who was the f***wit? What was she doing consorting with gang members? The questions were endless.
    There is inspiration everywhere if you're open and receptive enough to take note of it.

  6. Thank you Shirley, you're a darling to share your enjoyment of my story. I was a little nervous about kiwis reading it in case they found things I'd done wrong, but so far all is sweet. Thanks for sharing that overheard conversation. I can imagine the scene so clearly just from what you say. You developed it into a story? Okay Ashlyn's Bodyguard has to go on my TBR list. I need to know what on earth a Judge's daughter is doing with gang members

  7. Love your ideas for inspiration, Anne. Mine is definitely while driving solo. No radio, just my muse & me. I have to use the cruise control otherwise my speed would be all over the place. :) Wilderness Liasion sounds like a great book. All the best.

    1. Cruise control, now thats a safer idea. I've been lucky, my radio stopped working when battery was changed and I refused to get the code to get it going again. I was sick of the kids always fiddling with the stations, so driving for me is always in silence, except for those voices shouting in my head. Tks for stopping by Diane

  8. My best ideas come when I'm in the shower. Maybe because it's so hard to write in there? LOL Thanks for sharing your ideas. I love the magazine one. Gonna have to use that myself!

    1. I'm thinking there must be something contrary about muses. They always sneak in when we are least likely to be able to record what they're telling us, showers, driving, swimming. Great to hear from you

  9. Hi Anne, I'm doing a talk to the Auckland chapter of Romance Writers on just this topic in February. I'd like to use your examples, if I may. When I wrote comedic poetry, I used to find inspiration all the time on the loo! There's still a pen in the smallest room, just in case!

  10. Hi Jo, I've missed a few Ak meetings, hope to make the next one. Please feel free to use my examples if they help

  11. Great post and ideas! Good luck with your book promo Anne!

    Laverne, is it ok to tell authors we recommended their manuscripts? he he!

    1. I hope so Kelly as I've let a couple of authors know now when I've pre-read and enjoyed their work - BUT only after its published! I've also gone on to buy their books. I feel so proud of their work and privileged to have been a part of it.

      Anne - thank you so much for your post. Its been fantastic having you here! And for everyone dropping by - thanks to you too for making Anne's visit a goodie :)