Writers, where do you get your ideas? In my just-released workbook, The Novel Workbook for Messy Writers, the whole first section is dedicated to getting ideas. While some experienced novelists probably have long lists of ideas waiting to be written, beginner writers might struggle with this step—the first step, really! That said, I encourage even experienced writers to complete “getting ideas” exercises. It’s a great for stretching and challenging your creative muscles. My workbook suggests numerous ways of generating ideas but one of my favorites is “This Meets That”.
“This Meets That” is similar to something we have in the book business called “comps”. “Comps” is short for comparables, and it refers to what other books that a book under discussion would be compared to. So an author, an agent, a publisher or a reviewer might describe a book thus: “It’s got the sweet romance of Stargirl but in a dystopian setting like Divergent” (I would read this!) Sometimes comps are simply expressed like “It’s X meets Y” or “part X and part Y”. When I was agent hunting, I described my young adult sci-fi, Zero Repeat Forever, as “Part Terminator and part Beauty and the Beast”. My publisher describes it as “The 5th Wave meets Beauty and the Beast”. But one of my favorite ways to describe it has always been “Twilight meets Terminator”!
What does this have to do with getting ideas? For indie romance authors, who often write and publish six or more books per year, the “getting ideas” part of writing is critical. Readers are hungry for new premises and new characters, but new ways of telling familiar stories are also always popular. So a great way to generate ideas is to mash two familiar stories together, creating something new. In doing this you not only have created an interesting premise for your book, but you also now have access to at least two existing books/stories’ worth of inspiration (and indeed detail) to draw from.
X meets Y premises can be lots of fun, and the further X is from Y the better, in my opinion. Only imagine the possibilities! I’d love to read “Cinderella meets Clan of the Cave Bear” for example. A prehistoric prince and his enchanted mystery princess? Are you kidding me? That would be awesome. Or how about “Scheherazade meets High Fidelity” about a plucky Muslim teen who keeps her disgruntled record store boss amused with stories so he doesn’t close down his failing business. (OMG someone please write this).
I could go on and on about this, but I’m at risk of coming up with premises I want to actually write. And I have a deadline. I need to focus!
What X meets Y retellings would you like to write?
There are many thousands, if not millions of aspiring novelists out there who simply don’t know where to start. Thousands more writers have attempted or even completed a novel or two but are looking for a new way of approaching their next one. Then there are successful, published novelists who are sure they’ve forgotten how to write a novel and will never be able to do it again. And finally there are published novelists who are confident they can do it again if they could just find their laptop under the chaos on their desk.
The Novel Workbook for Messy Writers is for all of the above and more. It’s a writer’s workbook that provides just enough structure to get the creative juices flowing, while leaving writers the freedom to get their words down how, when and where they want to. Lists, quotes, doodles, collage, prose, verse, song lyrics, maps and diagrams will all fit into the Workbook pages, allowing writers to create a complete and detailed blueprint for their novel, including such information as character names, setting descriptions, genre, musical inspiration, props, world-building and much more.
Including prompts and tips on each page, The Novel Workbook for Messy Writers is for novelists of all ages, at any stage in their writing career.
G.S. (Gabrielle) Prendergast is the bestselling author of numerous books for children and teens. She studied writing at the University of New South Wales in Australia, at San Francisco State University and the University of British Columbia. After years of working in the music industry, in social welfare, and the film industry, Gabrielle began writing books when she became a mother, so she could work from home. Her books have received nominations for the White Pine Award, the Canadian Library Association Award, the Vancouver Book Prize and several other honors. She won the BC Book Prize for her YA sci-fi Zero Repeat Forever and the Westchester Award for her YA novel in verse Audacious. Born in the UK and both an Australian and New Zealand citizen, Gabrielle now lives in East Vancouver in a permanent state of “under-construction”. You can find Gabrielle on Instagram or Tiktok @gsprendergast
My latest book, Victoria & Violet, is the first novel in my brand-new Royal Maids series and I am super proud of it! Why? Because it is the first book in which I have included real people and real events alongside the fictional. To do this has been an ambition of mine ever since my first book was published in 2007 so having achieved it feels like a very big deal.
Best of all, readers and reviewers seem to be loving it, too!
Although Queen Victoria, Lord Melbourne, the Duchess of Kent, Lehzen and others feature in the book, the story really revolves around the lives and burgeoning romance of fictional housemaid Violet Parker and fictional assistant to Lord Melbourne, James Greene. These two characters were a joy to create, and their electricity was immediate which made a usually hard job all the easier!
Their paths have crossed a few times before the book opens, but the interest is firmly in James’s court (so to speak!), rather than Violet’s who has far more important and life-changing things on her mind than romance, such as escaping the clutches of her overbearing mother and forging a life of her own. Of course, it is not as though Violet would ever consider James a possible suitor considering his superior status…yet he really is most persistent!
All too soon, James and Violet are thrown together over and over again as their roles become ever more important to Victoria and Lord Melbourne. Amid a court that travels from the gardens of Windsor Castle to the corridors of Buckingham Palace to the wedding of the Queen herself, Victoria & Violet takes you on an adventure of drama, intrigue and romance that I hope has you quickly turning the pages!
Why not give it a try?
Victoria & Violet
It should be a dream come true to serve the Queen of England…
When Violet Parker is told she will be Queen Victoria’s personal housemaid, she cannot believe her good fortune. She finally has the chance to escape her overbearing mother, a servant to the Duchess of Kent.
Violet hopes to explore who she is and what the world has to offer without her mother’s schemes overshadowing her every thought and action.
Then she meets James Greene, assistant to the queen’s chief political adviser, Lord Melbourne. From entirely different backgrounds and social class, Violet and James should have neither need nor desire to speak to one another, yet through their service, their paths cross and their lives merge—as do their feelings.
Only Victoria’s court is not always the place for romance, but rather secrets, scandals, and conspiracies…
Rachel lives in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of 29 novels including the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy, the Shop Girl series (Aria Fiction) and the Templeton Cove Stories (Harlequin). Her latest novel, Victoria & Violet is the first book in her new Royal Maids series with the Wild Rose Press and releases 17th October 2022.
Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association as well as the Historical Novel Society and has thousands of social media followers all over the world.
I’ve been pulling cards on Sundays to try to make it part of my planning process. Every Sunday, I update my work and personal plans to ensure I record what I accomplished and didn’t, then I turn my sights on the coming week. It’s not that I “believe” in the tarot, but because it centers me and reminds me of aspects of my life I wouldn’t otherwise consider when I set my plans. So, onto this week’s card…
Pentacles again. Hmmm. Well, first, I’ll study the art on the card. We have Daedalus, again, holding the pentacles close to his chest, like he won’t share them. Remember, he’s the father of Icarus. He’s also a skilled craftsman. Here, he’s observing his nephew Thalos as young Thalos crafts a gold bracelet. See that side-eye he’s giving the kid? He’s jealous of his skill and worried that he’ll surpass him. The child is engrossed in what he’s doing, unaware of Daedalus’s concern.
What does that mean for me? I’m not sure. I’m not here worried about another person surpassing me in skill. I write and I edit for other authors. I wish everyone well. Truly. I don’t obsess over stats or even check mine often. A sin, I know, when writing is my business. I’m okay letting go of the worry of whether or not I write a bestseller. So, what else could this mean for me? I turn to the book…
It says that the card represents my holding too tightly to my possessions or things that represent my personal value. What could that be? Yes, I’m acquisitive, meaning I collect things. They’re things that bring me pleasure whether they hold value or not. Am I getting a little overwhelmed by my things? Yes. Simply put, I need to figure out what I want to keep and what I should let go of. In the near term, could this mean that I need to price my items for the coming sale so low that I can offload my inventory? Hmmm. Or does it mean I need to do some future planning for a huge clearing out of my spaces? Selling, tossing, giving away things? I’ll keep that in mind. I can’t do much about it until after next Saturday because I’m too busy trying to create inventory for the sale. I’ll put “weaning the horde” on my December To Do list.
In the meantime, I’m creating “stuff.” Here’s another Christmas card I painted…
Can you think of things I should offer to readers here in the future to help myself empty my bins and shelves?
Here’s another puzzle-contest for you! Our fridge is still stuffed with leftovers, but today, we start weeding/tossing what hasn’t been eaten and what is surely past its expiration. The puzzle shows you what you might do with some of those leftovers! Looks yummy!
So, solve the puzzle then tell me your favorite way to use up those leftovers for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!
I ran across this photo and thought…there’s a story! Bet you can figure out one to tell, too! So, for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, study the photo then tell me a story! It doesn’t have to be long or even any good. Just have fun!
I set my alarm for 5 AM. My daughter is rising that early to start the turkey, but she needs me for one vital task, and one only. She needs me to reach inside the turkey to pull out the “stuff” inside it because she’s too squeamish and doesn’t want to start her day gagging. So, yeah. Hero Mom to the rescue. After that I might or might not go back to bed. It’s 3:30 AM presently, and I thought since I’m already up with a lovely bit of insomnia, I’d go ahead and post today’s blog.
So, from my family to yours, I wish EVERYONE a happy, wonderful day, and for those celebrating Thanksgiving, hold your friends and family close, eat too much, nap through your turkey comas, then get up to eat those leftovers again. Yes, in our house, it’s all about family and feasting—and PIE.
Grin, the hero of my most recent cyborg romance release, is an architect. He designs buildings and oversees their construction. His skills are very much in demand. He enjoys his role tremendously.
His newfound heroine, Mohini, is planning an extremely dangerous mission. The participants won’t likely survive it. They will be venturing deep into enemy territory, possibly facing battle robots and armies of undead warriors. There will be explosions and shootouts and firefights in deep space.
An architect is likely not the first hero anyone would consider for such a daring assignment. (grins)
Grin isn’t a normal architect, however. He’s a cyborg and all cyborgs were trained for battle. Many of Grin’s brethren LOVE fighting. It pleases their design.
Grin doesn’t enjoy fighting. At all. His programming is different. Killing or harming beings gives him no joy.
He will fight, however, to protect the beings he cares for. Grin will do anything to keep his daring female safe, even risk capture by a past enemy and/or death.
That, I believe, makes him even MORE heroic. He is stepping forward when needed, knowing full well he isn’t the perfect candidate for the tasks he’s volunteering to complete.
I suspect you’re the same way. You’ve tackled tasks you had no experience or interest in completing because those tasks had to be done.
Maybe you took care of a child while their parents were ill, rearranging your already busy days to ensure they were tended to and happy.
Or you helped a newcomer to your town find the post office. (That is an extremely stressful task for a direction-challenged person such as myself.)
Or you loaned a much-cherished reference book to a writer, knowing the book might be damaged or you might not get it back.
Or you asked a hard question of a leader, knowing it had to be asked but the leader wouldn’t welcome it.
These are hero moves. You might not be saving the entire world but you ARE saving someone’s world. You’re making a difference in lives and in the universe.
Tell me about your moments of heroism. I want to hear how you’ve stepped forward in the past and helped when it would have been much easier for yourself not to volunteer.
Grin And Bare Him
This cyborg will be the warrior his female requires.
Cyborgs are designed to fight. That is their primary purpose and 98.2356 percent of the manufactured warriors enjoy battle. Tremendously.
Grin, a K model, is one of the rare exceptions. When he escaped his cruel creators, he set down his sword and allocated his processors to less violent pursuits. He projects he’s left his war-waging planet rotations behind him forever.
Then he meets his beautiful, beguiling female, the one being he’s destined to protect, to claim, to love for all eternity, and his plans for peace are completely decimated.
Mohini needs a ship.
She has a dangerous mission to complete and the first step in that assignment is arranging transport to an enemy-controlled planet. The vessel she has set her sights on is guarded by the sexiest cyborg she’s ever seen.
To gain access to his ship, Mohini is prepared to kiss, caress, seduce the muscular male. The mission is her focus. The pleasure she experiences will merely be a bonus.
A female has to do what a female has to do to save the universe.
Grin And Bare Him is a Cyborg SciFi Romance set in a dark, gritty, sometimes-violent universe.
It features a humanoid female undertaking a dangerous mission, a cyborg intent on keeping her alive, and an enemy with enough firepower to blow up an entire sector.