Where Does a Writer Get Her Ideas?

A writer seems to collect a mountain of ideas and most fade away from lack of interest.

But sometimes, an idea steps up and slaps the writer in the face.

I’ve spent many years writing for television and now spend my time writing the St. Michaels/Sterling Silver Mystery Series.  I’ve never seen an idea blossom into a project like this. 

Last summer, I had lunch with friends who volunteer for Plein Air-Easton who suggested it might be a perfect venue to set a murder for my mystery series.  I was tempted to spend the week strolling around, talking to artists, admiring their work—in other words, doing research.  But no, I told myself, you have one book in print, one on the boards and one in development.  Wait until next year.

Some ideas are not to be denied.  About two weeks ago, my volunteer-friends were excited about this year’s Plein Air event:  the 10th Anniversary celebration, big prize money and important people coming.  Their excitement was infectious and I thought it would be great to support a local effort. 

The next morning, I was in a meeting with the event directors when this novel idea slapped me again.  This year’s opening dinner and Paint Out event will be at Wye House on Bruff’s Island, which is named for the first English settler there – the first of five silversmiths.  Silversmiths!  Sterling silver mystery series!!  The title came in a flash:  Painted Silver.  

Who am I to stand in the way of an idea?  The work is underway and many things are falling into place in curious, wonderful ways.  That’s why I’ve started the Painted Silver Blog.  You can follow this madcap journey begun by an idea that wouldn’t be denied.


Baubles and Blood

A local jewelry designer read my murder mystery called “Tarnished Silver” and loved it.  I love her original jewelry designs in her little shop here in St. Michaels.  A mutual admiration society is nice but she had a better idea:  a new line of sterling silver jewelry!

Jeannette Silva will unveil her new designs this Saturday in conjunction with a major book signing this Saturday!

Jewelryweddingcollection 024aThe handcrafted Silvawear designs blend sterling silver wire with freshwater pearls, crystals and sterling beads.  Jeannette’s line of unique jewelry includes necklaces, bracelets and earrings.  She is a resident of St. Michaels and active in the local artist community.  Her little shop on Main Street is a favorite with tourists and locals alike.

It should be fun meeting her customers and introducing my readers.  Authors, you never know what opportunities will pop up.  Always keep your eyes open!

If you’re on the Eastern Shore on Saturday, come by and say hello!  Both the artist and I will be available for conversation this Saturday, August 10 from 10-1 and 3-4:30.
Place:  American Holiday Shop
St. Michaels, MD


Celebrating an Indie Bookstore!

At Mystery Loves Company bookstore,  the American independent spirit was alive and well this 4th of July weekend !

IMG_1632This bookseller made me the featured author  in the 22nd anniversary celebration.  Mystery Loves Company began in Baltimore in 1991 and moved to the tiny town of Oxford, Maryland in 2006… and is thriving!  The 700 residents and a wide array of visitors wander in, browse and explore titles they might not see on the bestseller lists.  The proprietor, Kathy Harig always has time for a customer.  Conversations cover a gamut of topics and usually focus down to “Oh, you might be interested in this (author, new release, classic…)” and the visitor smiles with a new book or books in hand. Continue reading

Writing from TV to the Page

Over the years working as a TV writer/producer, a tidal wave of stories was building up inside me that had nothing to do with my work.  So, I turned to eBook and print formats.

Was I arrogant to think that the shift from screen to page would be easy?  I assumed that a story was a story whether it appeared on TV or the printed page.  Didn’t my experience and awards show I knew how to tell a story?

Maybe I wasn’t arrogant, just naïve.  I didn’t realize what I didn’t know.  There is a huge difference between telling a story on the page vs. a TV or movie screen.  I had to adjust.

Now that my first murder mystery is published, I can share what I’ve learned so far:

The structure is different.  Stories on the screen tend to focus on a small window in time.  Actions and reactions are fueled by an event or a place.  Think of the action-packed movie that is still a good adventure, “Die Hard”HH – all the action happens in a couple of hours.  The same is true with the new crop of “Star Trek” movies and most of your favorite TV shows.  Like anything else, there is an exception to this general rule and an excellent example is “Downton Abbey.”  The action shifts from the upstairs family characters to the downstairs servants to the war location and so on creating mini stories held together by the characters and the Big House.  But the exception proves the rule, the time in each case is basically the same.

The story presented on the page (electronic or paper) can take the reader through weeks, months, even years.  Lengthy flashbacks or detailed backstory can appear at any time with a three-star break or a change in font.

This major difference makes the writer look at the story differently.  When TIME is a controlling factor, I think it’s easier to make decisions about the story:  Does this event move the story along?  Does this extensive dialogue slow down the action?  Does this bit of backstory clarify the story or character relationships or does it bog down the flow?  All these questions are important even if you’re not doing a thriller.

When writing for the page, the writer has much more freedom… to expand the story or destroy it!

It might be easier to write for the page since you can include anything you want without the restraints of time, for example.  It’s also easier to create a morass that might drown you.  Sometimes, boundaries are helpful.  With almost complete freedom, it’s up to the writer to impose good strategies and make tough decisions.

But that’s not all I’ve learned so far.  I’ll share some other nuggets in another post next week..

Let me know if you’ve had an experience writing for both the screen and page.  I’d love to compare notes!