We’re Almost Back…

Word Museum is being revamped and will go live soon. It is back under original ownership and will be ran by Lori and her daughter. Word Museum was originally started in 1997. We’ll be bringing back a lot of the old material in our archives, but you’ll also find brand new material, author interviews, chats and oh-so-much-more.

While you’re waiting, read about Amelia, our first museum coordinator.

See you soon!

Chat Log: Libby McKinmer

August 6th, 2004 Chat with Libby McKinmer

22:01:08 [becuziam] Thank you!

22:01:21 [K9Star] Nope

22:01:33 [Libby] Tonight we give out clues…then you’ll have to go to http://www.libbymckinmer.com and in the guestbook fill in your guess! Registered name please!

22:01:39 [becuziam] K9star, are you related to anyone in the Park?

22:02:23 [Libby] K9Star…is it warm where you live?

22:02:42 chris enters this room

22:02:45 [K9Star] Today it is

22:03:04 [Libby] Hi Chris! Welcome!

22:03:10 [Jacqueline] Hi Chris!

22:03:18 [K9Star] Hi Chris Woof!

22:03:20 [chris] Hi Libby

22:03:55 [becuziam] K9star,do you live in the States ?

22:03:56 [chris] K9 is here?

22:04:08 [K9Star] I’m Here!

22:04:20 [Libby] Chris, K9Star is my special guest helping me kick of the Name the Mystery Keeshond in Fox Holl contest that’ll run til Sept 15th. The winner gets a trade paper copy of the book autographed by both of us!

22:04:24 [K9Star] I do live in the States

22:04:47 [Libby] K9Star, do you have any siblings?

22:05:19 [K9Star] I have 3 littermates

22:05:22 KimCox enters this room

22:05:23 >[KimCox] Welcome to our chat. Please obey the net etiquette while chatting: try to be pleasant and polite.

22:05:32 [chris] Hi Kim

22:05:39 [Libby] Hi Kim!

22:05:45 [K9Star] Hi Kim! Woof Woof

22:05:51 [Libby] K9Star…do you know what snow is?

22:06:02 [becuziam] In one of the Southern States? Below the Mason-Dixon line?

22:06:09 [K9Star] We have lots of snow

22:06:14 [Jacqueline] Hi Kim!

22:06:32 [becuziam] Hi, Kim!

22:07:05 [KimCox] Hi all

22:07:05 [Libby] Maybe while people ponder some clues, I could give a quick precis of Fox Hollow, if that’s okay, Jacqueline?

22:07:33 [chris] I’ve never seen a Keeshond. Are they rare?

22:07:51 [Jacqueline] Sure, Libby

22:07:57 [Libby] Fox Hollow is a tale of twisted revenge…a young architect is set up by her ‘loving’ fiance to take the fall when he defaults on money owed to a loan shark!

22:08:01 [K9Star] Not really.

22:08:08 Nyssa enters this room

22:08:13 JLAbbott enters this room

22:08:30 [K9Star] Woof Nyssa & JL

22:08:32 [becuziam] Hi, Nyssa!

22:08:34 [Jacqueline] Welcome Nyssa and JLAbbot!

22:08:43 [JLAbbott] Hi Libby!

22:08:44 [Nyssa] Howdy friend!

22:08:45 [Libby] She has only a few days to find him…and the money…before **she** becomes part of what’s owing. K9Star helps her in her quest…

22:08:48 [becuziam] Hi, JL

22:08:57 [Libby] Hi Rach! Hi Laura! Welcome, welcome!

22:09:31 [Nyssa] Thanks, I can’t stay but a minute, but I wanted to make an appearend for you.

22:09:45 [JLAbbott] Stop telling me about it, EJ…LOL!!

22:09:47 [K9Star] Do you have a question for me?

22:09:48 [Libby] Thank you VERY much…someone has already guessed Adric!

22:10:20 [Nyssa] lol, Is it?

22:10:27 jgilliam enters this room

22:10:30 [Libby] K9Star…do you like cats???

22:10:32 [Nyssa] Adric says HI

22:10:43 [Nyssa] Hi Jeramy

22:10:58 [becuziam] Libby from Iowa says Hi, too

22:11:01 [K9Star] I loooove to chase cats-as high as I can!

22:11:02 [Libby] Hi!

22:11:11 [Nyssa] I think there were 5 pups in Adrics litter.

22:11:13 [jgilliam] Hello Nyssa, Libby and the rest

22:11:24 [Libby] Sooooo…you’re agile, are you?

22:11:26 [becuziam] Mountains?

22:11:36 [becuziam] Hi, Jeremy!

22:11:37 [K9Star] Woof Woof

22:11:55 [Nyssa] Do you vocalize allot?

22:11:58 [K9Star] I live near the mountains

22:12:10 [K9Star] Woof Woof Woof Woof Woof

22:12:18 [Nyssa] Which mountains?

22:12:21 [becuziam] Washington state, K9?

22:12:33 [chris] What kind of cats do you chase. Big cats? House cats?

22:12:48 [K9Star] Not mountains that big

22:12:56 [becuziam] Bobcats near Yellowstone?

22:13:00 [K9Star] I chase house cats

22:13:04 [Nyssa] Virginia Mountains

22:13:07 [Nyssa] ?

22:13:16 [Jacqueline] Hi and welcome. We’re chatting with author Romantic Suspense Author Libby McKinmer tonight. To enter your name, please type it in the upper left hand name box and then type “enter”. We’ll be using protocol so please type “?” to ask a question and “!” to make a comment and “ga” to signify “go ahead”

22:13:18 [K9Star] North

22:13:27 [Libby] K9Star must be VERY brave in Fox Hollow. Have you had Schutzhund training, K9Star?

22:13:45 [Jacqueline] when you’re finished speaking. We’ll call on you in turn. Thank you for joining us!

22:14:02 [K9Star] He he, no, my Mom’s a push over

22:14:41 [Jacqueline] K9Star is Libby’s special guest helping her to kick off the Name the Mystery Keeshond in Fox Holl contest that’ll run til Sept 15th. Throughout the chat, K9Star will be giving his clues about his identity. So pay attention! The winner gets a trade paper copy of the book autographed by both Libby

22:14:46 [Jacqueline] and K9Star!

22:14:55 [jgilliam] Libby, where did the idea for this novel come from (your inspiration)

22:15:26 [Nyssa] AAAAAHhh K9 is a HE!

22:15:26 [Jacqueline] ga, Nyssa. :)

22:15:54 [K9Star] Yes, I’m a boy dog

22:16:23 [Libby] I’d had the idea for a while…and I always have pets in my books, so I thought, why not include a Keeshond? Since I have several, I know the personality quite well. And romantic suspense is my favorite genre. ga

22:16:35 [Nyssa] Delicate question, Are you aahhhem. intact?

22:16:49 [becuziam] Do any of your relatives live in Va, K(?

22:17:00 [K9Star] Aaah, no

22:17:06 Betty enters this room

22:17:09 [K9Star] No

22:17:16 [jgilliam] Nyssa?!?!? How rude… LOL

22:17:21 [K9Star] Woof Woof Betty!

22:17:43 [Libby] Hi Betty! Thank you for coming!

22:17:44 [Nyssa] WELLLL!! it helps to cut the list considerably

22:17:56 [Jacqueline] Hi and welcome. We’re chatting with author LibbyMcKinmer tonight. To enter your name, please type it in the upper left hand name box and then type “enter”. We’ll be using protocol so please type “?” to ask a question and “!” to make a comment and “ga” to signify “go ahead” when you’re finished

22:18:04 [Libby] “Cut” the list??? Tee-Hee

22:18:18 Lainie enters this room

22:18:23 [K9Star] Ouch

22:18:24 [JLAbbott] ?

22:18:28 [Jacqueline] Hi Lainie!

22:18:37 [Nyssa] ok ok, How about this. Are you a Show dog? Do you do obediance?

22:18:54 [jgilliam] ?K9Star

22:19:19 Boop enters this room

22:19:20 [K9Star] Um, I did enter a show once. Now I train in agility

22:19:22 [becuziam] ?K9star

22:19:45 [K9Star] ga

22:19:47 [Jacqueline] Libby, can you tell us again about Fox Hollow and K9Star so the stragglers can catch up and join in the fun?

22:19:58 [becuziam] Do you live in the western states?

22:20:14 [K9Star] No

22:20:26 [jgilliam] K9Star, do you live in US or Canada?

22:20:39 [K9Star] US

22:20:44 [chris] Do you live in Canada?

22:21:05 [K9Star] no

22:21:09 [Nyssa] Do you have any Mach titles?

22:21:12 [Libby] K9Star is my special guest tonight…K9Star is helping kick off my Name the Mystery Keeshond contest that runs thru Sept 15th. K9Star will be giving identity clues, then you go to http://www.libbymkcinmer.com and fill your guess in my guest book. The winner will get a trade paper copy of Fox HOllow sign

22:21:16 [becuziam] ?K9star

22:21:16 [jgilliam] Do you live a New England state or a warmer climate

22:21:38 [K9Star] No titles yet

22:21:45 [K9Star] New England

22:21:47 [Libby] ed by K9Star and I. K9Star’s people bid and won his appearance in Fox Hollow…and helped many rescue Keeshonden with their generous bid!

22:22:06 [Nyssa] Do you have allergies?

22:22:15 [JLAbbott] How old are you, K9, if I can be so bold to ask…..ga

22:22:24 [Jacqueline] ga, JLAbbott

22:22:27 [K9Star] No allergies

22:22:27 [jgilliam] ? Libby

22:22:36 [K9Star] I’m not 2 yet

22:22:40 [JLAbbott] Ooops…just did….

22:23:10 [Jacqueline] ga, jgilliam

22:23:40 [JLAbbott] ?Libby

22:23:54 [jgilliam] Libby, do you always have a heroine or have you written other books with a man as the lead character?

22:24:19 [Nyssa] I am sorry guys, I am plum tuckered out and need to go to bed. When will the book be out?

22:24:26 [K9Star] I thought I was the lead character LOL!

22:24:44 [Libby] In my books, usually women are the lead characters….

22:24:48 [Libby] LOL

22:25:10 [Jacqueline] Nite, Nyssa, thanks for joining us!

22:25:13 [Libby] Fox HOllow releases September 1 from http://www.amberquill.com . Thanks VERY much, Rach. I appreciate you coming.

22:25:14 [becuziam] ?Libby

22:25:28 [jgilliam] Goodnight Rach… See you on the list.

22:25:33 [K9Star] Night Rach

22:25:45 [Jacqueline] ga, JL

22:25:56 [Nyssa] night, and good luck, I haven’t the foggiest. Keesy kisses to all lub Adric

22:25:58 [JLAbbott] Where did you get the inspiration for Fox Hollow’s setting…it’s wonderful!!!

22:26:34 [becuziam] Libby, will K9 be helping shut down a mill?

22:26:53 [Libby] I grew up just north of Toronto…and it’s HONESTLY just like that. Fall is gorgeous…tons of trees, there are ponds, streams, etc. I spent many happy hours in the saddle exploring, let me tell you!

22:27:33 [Libby] Bec, all the funds K9Star helped raise go to the Sunshine Fund to help offset medical needs for rescued Keeshonden.

22:27:35 [becuziam] ?Libby

22:28:14 [Jacqueline] ga, becuziam

22:28:48 [becuziam] will K9 be helping shut down a PM?

22:28:50 [K9Star] I have 2 rescue sisters that live with me

22:30:15 [Libby] The money K9Star helped raise in the auction goes to the Sunshine Fund to help with medical expenses for rescued Kees. Some will probably be mill dogs.

22:30:37 [becuziam] ?k9

22:30:47 [chris] What exactly does a mill dog do?

22:31:07 [jgilliam] ?Libby

22:31:34 [Jacqueline] testing

22:31:44 [Jacqueline] ga, becuziam

22:32:15 [JLAbbott] ?K9

22:32:16 [becuziam] Dio you live in Tennessee?

22:32:35 [K9Star] No, New England

22:32:49 [Libby] Chris, a Puppy Mill dog lives in horror, being bred & bred until she can’t be bred anymore and then killed. The puppies go to pet shops. It is the equivalent of a canine concentration camp, IMO.

22:32:56 [becuziam] Thank you.

22:33:39 [Jacqueline] ga, jgilliam

22:33:44 [jgilliam] What made you want to be a professional writer in the beginning? Who or what inspired you to pick up the pen the first time and put your thought and stories to paper?

22:33:50 [becuziam] Good night, Elizabeth– Jeanne

22:33:55 becuziam exits from this room

22:34:24 [chris] Sorry, I realized that after I asked the question. That’s why I would never buy a pet from a pet shop. ga

22:35:35 [Libby] I remember the first REAL story I wrote in high school. Before that, I’d been more inclined to music and drawing. But I think just my love of the written word drew me in…and in university I did a lot of writing…academic papers, so fiction was a release when I found myself living in the FAR nort

22:35:57 [Libby] ga

22:36:24 [Jacqueline] ga, JL

22:36:32 [JLAbbott] K9, my spaniel wants to know if you only like Kees,or if you’re into other breeds…..she had a Kees best buddy in obedience class and misses her! ga

22:36:57 [Libby] Also…my Dad was a huge influence….he read SO much, even poetry to me before I was born.

22:37:11 [K9Star] We just have Kees living here, and 2 cats

22:37:46 [Libby] K9Star, would you consider yourself ‘spoiled’ or ‘pampered’?

22:38:06 [K9Star] Absolutely!!!

22:38:20 meggusmac enters this room

22:38:21 [jgilliam] What kees isn’t pampered… I don’t think they could be spoiled…LOL

22:38:42 [Libby] Hi!!! Great to see you Meggus!! Everybody, Meggus is my MOM!!! Hugs!

22:38:56 [Jacqueline] Hi and welcome. We’re chatting with author Libby McKinmer tonight. To enter your name, please type it in the upper left hand name box and then type “enter”. We’ll be using protocol so please type “?” to ask a question and “!” to make a comment and “ga” to signify “go ahead” when you’re finished.

22:39:01 [jgilliam] Hi Meggus

22:39:11 [jgilliam] ?Libby

22:39:11 [K9Star] Hi Libby’s Mom! Woof Woof

22:40:43 [Libby] ga Jeremy

22:41:15 [jgilliam] Libby> What are the main character’s names in the book, including you special guest (assuming you used an alias)? Is there any rhyme or reson to the choice of character names or whatever pops into your thoughts?

22:42:11 [Libby] The architect’s name is Melissa Miller; the PI is Rees McAllister; the fiance is Jackson Tobin, his accomplice is Alyce LeBlanc &

22:42:43 [Libby] Melissa has a cohort named Jennifer, and a friend named Sharon. K9Star got to use his OWN call name in the story!

22:43:25 [Libby] I pick names that I like…names that I don’t associate with any real person usually, so I don’t ‘write’ him or her!! <g>

22:44:13 [meggusmac] Hi everyone

22:44:28 [Libby] I try to even give the villains cool names!

22:44:37 [Libby] Hi!

22:45:21 [Libby] K9Star….are you a city slicker or a country mouse?

22:45:27 [meggusmac] You choose very good names in all your stories

22:45:40 [K9Star] I live in the country

22:46:19 [K9Star] In the Green Mountains

22:46:39 [JLAbbott] ?Libby

22:46:46 [Libby] BTW, the hero, the PI, Rees, has a cat in this story…just because it helps me see his character, and because K9Star has cat buddies!

22:46:47 [chris] Is that Vermont, K9?

22:47:07 [K9Star] Yes, Chris

22:47:10 [meggusmac] I can hardly wait to read your newest book, keep up the good work

22:47:52 Lainie enters this room

22:48:46 [Libby] ga JL

22:48:55 Elaine enters this room

22:48:55 [Libby] Hi Lainie….welcome!

22:49:02 [JLAbbott] Libby, do you write every day? What are your work habits like?

22:49:09 [Libby] Hi Elaine…welcome!

22:49:09 [Jacqueline] Sorry, the phone interupted

22:49:56 [Libby] JL…atrocious!!! I don’t write nearly as much as I’d like. I edit a lot, so don’t get in the writing time I’d like to…and tend to crowd deadlines as my editor can attest <g>!!

22:50:06 [meggusmac] I am signing of now

22:50:20 [Libby] I’m a nighthawk, so tend to get much more done between say 11 pm and 2 or 3 am for myown writing

22:50:30 [Libby] Thank you VERY much, Meggus. I appreciate it.

22:50:50 [jgilliam] Before I go, I was just wondering if this book falls into the genre of stories similar to John Grisham’s “The Firm”, etc. (Missing money, being chased with little time to solve the mystery, small amounts of suspense)?

22:52:06 [Libby] I’d like to say yes!! <g> But I like big amounts of suspense!! And a bit of romance thrown in there!

22:52:56 [Jacqueline] Shall we give away a prize before jgilliam leaves, Libby?

22:53:29 [Libby] Yes, please, Jacqueline…if you’d care to draw a name, I’d appreciate it! Winner gets a free download of Fox Hollow when it releases.

22:53:49 [Jacqueline] Okay, everybody stay put for a minute.

22:54:13 [Libby] The tension mounts……

22:54:52 [Jacqueline] And the winner is…my daughter drew the name :)

22:55:04 [Libby] Whoever wins, if you’ll send a email to libbymckinmer@libbymckinmer.com, I’ll send you the download in your choice of format — html, pdf, or lit — the day it releases.

22:55:08 [Jacqueline] Congratulations, JLAbbot!!

22:55:29 [JLAbbott] OH nO……..not me

22:55:36 [K9Star] Congrats JL!

22:55:45 [JLAbbott] LOL I’m the book’s editor!! Choose again

22:55:59 [JLAbbott] Please give someone else a chance to win

22:56:02 [K9Star] Oooops

22:56:18 [Jacqueline] I suppose you’ve read it. LOL!

22:56:25 [Libby] That’s really nice, JL…especially since you’ve seen Fox Hollow’s warts and wrinkles!! <g>

22:56:26 [JLAbbott] Thank you though…I really appreciate it

22:56:33 [Jacqueline] Okay, how about Chris?

22:57:03 [Libby] Great! Congrats, Chris. And thanks to Jacqueline’s daughter for drawing! :))

22:57:09 [KimCox] congrats, Chris!

22:57:09 [JLAbbott] Congrats Chris!!!!

22:57:10 [Jacqueline] Chris is the second name :p

22:57:24 [Jacqueline] Congrats Chris!!

22:57:25 [chris] Well, thank you very much. I love Libby’s books

22:57:34 [Libby] Thanks!

22:57:43 [jgilliam] Libby and K9Star, it has been a pleasure and the best of luck on the upcoming release. ‘Night all. Keesie HUGS and KISSES

22:57:56 [chris] Yes, and thank you Jacqueline’s daughter

22:58:02 [K9Star] Night, and thank you!

22:58:09 [Jacqueline] Nite jgilliam! Thanks for coming to the chat!

22:58:13 [JLAbbott] Great fun tonight! Thank you!!! And you guys will LOVE Fox Hollow…trust me!!!

22:58:18 [KimCox] B)

22:58:21 [chris] Nice to meet you K9. My Persian cat TEXAS says Hi

22:58:23 [Libby] I’d like to thank everyone for coming tonight, and especially my mystery guest K9Star! You helped make it a lot of fun. And thanks to Jacqueline, Kim and the terrific people at http://www.wordmuseum.com!! Much appreciated.

22:58:33 [K9Star] Hi Texas!

22:58:37 [Jacqueline] Thank you Libby and K9Star! I’m going to have to head to your site after this. :)

22:58:45 [KimCox] 8)

22:59:16 [Libby] Give me til tomorrow, Jacqueline? I haven’t got the contest details up yet <g>! Which speaks to my work habits again!! :)

22:59:24 [KimCox] Thank you, Libby, for being our guest, and also your sidekick K9Star!

22:59:25 [Jacqueline] I have to say, Libby, this was the most interesting chat

22:59:45 [Libby] Thanks, I had fun, too!

23:00:01 [K9Star] Good night everyone! Thank you for inviting me

23:00:18 [Libby] Good night, all!

23:00:20 [KimCox] Hope you can come back and be with us again.

23:00:29 [KimCox] Good night!

23:00:51 [Libby] Any time!!

23:00:54 [Jacqueline] Nite all! Kim, I saved the log and will send it in a minute.

Flashback: Pre-Plotting

When you see “Flashback” in front of an article, it means it is an article that originally appeared on Word Museum in the beginning before it was sold and then regained by Lori. We have reposted these articles, because we feel they add great value to the site. Where possible we include the date of the original article.

Written By: Cait London


Doing the Yellow Pad Thing or Preplotting



Plotting is a big word. I prefer to divide it into two units: 1.) preplotting and 2.) structuring the novel. Preplotting is the yellow pad stage, tossing ideas out there, locking firmly into one theme, developing one basic plot, and toying with all the things that could happen within that plot. Structuring the novel involves placing all those events and twists in a logical order to excite the reader.

For now, we are concerned with preplotting, getting those ideas, not the logical sequence of events comprising the novel. It is important to understand that: There is no right way to plot a book; each individual seeks to find a method that will work for them. It’s a pot shoot, trying different methods until one works better than the rest. To argue which method is best, is a road without an end. But by trying different methods, the individual writer can develop their own way to work. In my experience, working with new writers, I find this is the stage that they might skip, plunging on to construct a perfect story without building a good foundation. That is why I stress preplotting.

I used to be a “gut” writer, and sometimes still am, just letting those stories flow onto paper without a structured plan. Okay, I did have this basic idea for a 10 chapter book (this could be stretched for a longer one): introduce conflicts, characters, setting in the first three chapters; develop the relationship and escalate the events until a critical development puts the characters on the line around the 9th chapter (a point or event which tests the relationship), and allow for a nice soft come-down on the 10th chapter. Along the line of my basic chapters, numbered one through ten, I’d draw 2 hearts, indicating love scenes. That is the basic curve for a romance. “Plunging” quickly got me into trouble at about the third chapter ; now I spend more “yellow pad” time, eliminating the potential of writing myself into corners.

My first Avon book, as yet untitled, involved the lives of three women. This required individual plotting of each life, then braiding their lives and loves together in the complete book. I did not “plunge” into this book.

In the Tallchief series (written by Cait London), I developed mini-plots for the Tallchief ancestors and have been asked by readers to write their stories. In plotting the Tallchiefs, I developed five siblings, each teenage life altered by the death of their parents. I constructed a town, Amen Flats, and different basic elements and landmarks to run through each book. Then I considered the family dynamics-the role of the eldest brother, only eighteen and ready to accept responsibility for his younger siblings. Duncan was terrified that he would fail to keep them together. Each Tallchief had a role to play in their survival, and Fiona, who was just ten at the time of her parents’ murder, had the awesome burden of being “good.” As an adult, Fiona emerges in The Seduction of Fiona Tallchief (Silhouette Desire 4/98). I constructed the Tallchief basic concept all at one time, each would have a prologue describing how they felt at the time of their loss, each would have a legend, each story woven with elements of their ancestors. Then with the composite Tallchief series set in place, the characters birth order and basic personalities, their family history, I began their individual stories. All the prework, the preplotting, set a good foundation for each story. When I began kneading Fiona as a character and what could happen to her, pushing for a basic plot, I found a twist that led into a duet spin-off: Nick Palladin: Man of Secrets 8/98 and Scent of a Woman 12/98.

There are three Palladin brothers, each haunted by a dark legacy: their father held up the convenience store and murdered the Tallchiefs’ parents. Who is the most unlikely man for a woman with Fiona’s background to love? “Unlikely” tosses in a twist.

This preplotting yellow pad stage-turning ideas–is laborious, brow-sweating, draining, tedious. Good stories come not from siphoning off basic themes from other books, but delving into yourself, really working to produce the best that you can. Sometimes you find that you cannot handle the topic you have chosen-been there, done that. My idea was great, but I couldn’t handle intense forensics.

* Know yourself. Who are you and what are your strengths, your weaknesses, your background and what you know? Be critical about your endurance level. If your attention is short, you might not be suited for a long novel. Humor is basic; a writer either has it or not, but if they do, it can be honed. I do not believe humor can be taught. Sometimes, to learn who you are as a writer, you have to step out on a ledge and take chances.

* How to get ideas: Some years ago, I wrote what became a popular article on Story Fishing. The article was intended to help people who cannot easily generate ideas. Basically, ideas come from people and people related actions. According to Webster’s Dictionary, a novel deals with human experience. Search microfiched historical newspapers. Scan CD Roms, Bartlett’s Famous Quotations and hobby groups. From the listing of the American Billiards Congress, I researched 1880s billiards and wrote The Wedding Gamble by Cait Logan. This is the story of a professional woman billiardist in Montana. I like to travel western fur trader/gold/NA trails and ideas are everywhere. I traveled/researched the entire Oregon Trail for Night Fire, and it is loaded with ideas. In Be Mine, the story of a German immigrant who wanted to keep her traditions, but also wanted to be a “modern” woman of the West, I used carrier pigeons as an element; the idea was harvested from microfisched newspapers.

Another Be Mine element was 1800s “working women’s” tokens, found in a flea market. A wife, finding these tokens in her husband’s clothing-well, that was another twist in Be Mine. Music presents an excellent source of ideas; the Wall Street Journal, newspapers and magazines (contemporary writers can find loads of ideas in women’s magazines). Then I seek out unusual businesses or ethnic festivals. A peek at a Psych 101 text book is a good place for ideas, and baby name books (the explanations create wonderful characters).

* Other ways to get ideas include playing games:

* The “versus” game: Make a list of human traits and “versus” them, i.e. honor vs. loyalty.

* Playing the What If game-this is fiction as we know it, stepping off that ledge.

* Turning crimes of violence or robbery. Why? Who stands to benefit.

* An incident that had profound affects on lives (that would be the convenience store robbery in which the Tallchief parents are murdered.

* I develop a “toy box” in which I keep ideas. They may not be useable when they arrive, but if I like them, I’ll stuff them away for future use and development. Try developing a personal database of basic ideas, i.e. a love-triangle, territorial disputes of water and land, historical preservation society fighting a shopping mall development, survivor’s guilt (I just did this one), literacy, spousal abuse, etc. Busy work between projects, like working on my toy box, or database of ideas is essential, building a supply of ideas, working them. I also develop a title database, which can lead to stories. This is churning the idea mill, not waiting for an idea to drop in, but being positive and working toward a goal. Constant work habits are essential in the writer. Sometimes ideas do drop in and when they do, write them down.

* Work on themes, i.e. the strength of the Tallchief family, bonded together; good over evil, a woman discovering her strengths and making a new life, etc. This theme will run throughout the book, connecting the series of events, which is the plot. Or that’s what works for me.

In preplotting, understand the givens:

* Yourself and your strengths, weaknesses, ref: above.

* Your story will twist and turn.

* For every action, there is a reaction. If not the predicted reaction, then the story takes a twist. (One of my readers says she likes King and me because of the twists. Now that is a compliment!)

* Slot the book to a specific market.

* Book length. Chapter length. Do your research.

* There are no new plots, only a variations.

By this time, you have your basic plot and a theme. Now work on a title to anchor you to the book, this is called a “working title.” Also, have an idea of the book-humorous, dark, tense, and so forth. This also anchors you to the book while creating, but you may wish to change this as the story turns and changes in development. I write humor and I write dark and intense, but sometimes in the writing, they change during the writing.

Next, freewheeling, make a list of everything you want to occur in the book, just tossing ideas on paper. Keep in mind actions/reactions/twists. This list is critical; it is what will happen in your book. Some writers use a yellow pad; others use index cards. There is software that attempts to do this brainstorming, but nothing is as good as time spent doing the yellow pad thing. If you wish to try software, try Collaborator III. Shove those ideas out there; get an array of ideas that you may or may not use. Remember that developing a plot is like the actual writing of the book; it is a “work in progress.”

Make a list and develop characters for your novel. Some writers prefer doing this before making the list of events which will later become their plotline, and that leads to actual connecting a series of events, the second half of plotting.

Editors are seeking “fresh ideas.” Preplotting, spending effort at the yellow pad stage, offers a feeding ground for these fresh ideas. Preplotting efforts help you better know your story.

That’s it for preplotting. It is painstakingly painful, but it pays off. I’d like to leave you with an affirmation: You MAKE time for writing; you don’t FIND time.

Lois Kleinsasser, aka Cait London (Silhouette) and Cait Logan (Berkley/Dell), consistently places on USA Today, Ingram’s, Waldenbooks and other national mass market and series best selling lists. She has millions of books in print, is published in 28 countries, and is currently at work on books approaching 40. She travels to and researches the sites of her books and has driven the entire Oregon Trail and several Northwest and Canadian fur trader/gold trails. She writes articles for writers’ magazines, lectures, and has many national awards. She is currently nominated for Best Americana. She is a member of Novelists, Inc. (professional), Romance Writers of America, Orange County RWA, and Sisters in Crime. Though Lois grew up in rural Washington State, she is a long-term resident of Missouri and is the mother of three daughters. 1998 marks Lois’s twelve years in publishing. As Cait London, her ’98 lineup is The Seduction of Fiona Tallchief (Silhouette Desire 4/98), !

Nick Palladin: Man of Secrets (Silhouette Desire 8/98), Maternity Leave (Silhouette Anthology 9/98) Avon Untitled (11/98), Scent of a Woman (Silhouette Desire 12/98).


Recommended Reading List for Writers


1. WEBSTER’S NEW COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY. This dates words, when they came into use. In the back is an excellent writer’s reference area for grammar, punctuation, etc.

2. TECHNIQUES OF THE SELLING WRITER. Dwight Swain. This book encompasses everything you need to be a fiction writer.


Books on Plotting:


* WRITING MYSTERIES by Mystery Writers of America

* 20 MASTER PLOTS by Ronald B. Tobias



* A Baby Name book, preferably one that defines the meanings and when they were popular

* WHAT’S WHAT by Reginald Bragonier, Jr. and David Fisher


* DOMESTIC TECHNOLOGY by Nell Du Vall. This gives the year of an item’s creation

* BARTLETT’S FAMOUS QUOTATIONS or a quotation book.


The 3 Basic Plots: Revenge, Possession and Escape