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"Where do you get your ideas?"
Writers get asked this all the time. The short answer is, everywhere. Little seeds get planted in my brain from a news item, something someone says, pop culture, or a good brainstorming session. I love to create worlds and people!
For the Out on the Ice Series, I was inspired by the 2018 US Women's National Hockey Team winning the gold medal against arch rival Team Canada. I'd written hockey stories before, but it had been a while. Watching the gold medal game reminded me how much I enjoyed women's hockey, and how much I wanted to write a story set in that world.
My debut novel, Out on the Ice, was a true Art Imitating Life process. I discovered and came to terms with my own bisexuality while writing the story. (You can read more about that journey HERE.) It focuses on found families and letting love into your life. It also highlights pro women hockey players and the difficulties they face to make a livable wage playing the sport they love.
Unexpected Goals was actually the first idea I had for the series: a US/Canadian enemies-to-lovers story between former rivals, now teammates. There's such a feisty history between these national teams that I couldn't resist forcing a goalie and a goal-scoring forward together to watch the sparks fly! This book also explores finding where you belong, a central theme in all my stories.
For Calling the Shots, I wanted to delve into the disparity between men's and women's athletics, particularly hockey. The rival head coaches in this romance want the same things, but go about them in different ways. While one is brash and outspoken, the other prefers to let her success do the talking. It's also the first time I wrote a single mom character, which was fun.
After everything going on in the world over the past few years, I wanted to write something light and happy with escapist elements. When the idea for It's a Fabulous Life first came to mind, I burst out laughing. How about a retelling of one of my favorite movies, It's a Wonderful Life, but as a sapphic romance? Set in a Hallmark-y small town obsessed with its winter festival? And the angels are drag queens! Let me tell you, I had a total blast writing it and banged out the first draft quickly. I love Christmas movies, music and TV specials, so it became my mission to sneak in as many references to them as possible. It was also a fun challenge staying true to the spirit of the original story while giving it a modern twist. It's a Fabulous Life is a celebration of queer joy, love, and living your truth.
If I can give aspiring writers one piece of advice, it's tenacity. This is a marathon, not a sprint. It took me 20 years, double-digit manuscripts (not counting the ones I started but didn't finish!), and about 200 rejections before selling my first book. Believe in your work and your words. Find friends in the writing community, whether it's online or in person (or both!). Supporting other authors and getting support is super important in what can be a solitary endeavor. If you need to take a break, take a break. If the ideas and voices in your head never go away, you'll come back to them when the time is right.
ROMANCE WRITER RESOURCES
Writing groups & communities:
Chicago-North Romance Writers https://chicagonorthromancewriters.com/
Women's Fiction Writers Association https://www.womensfictionwriters.org/
From Written to Recommended https://angelajames.co/
(Click on "From Written to Recommended Author Community")
Inclusive Romance Project https://www.inclusiveromanceproject.org/
Golden Crown Literary Society https://www.goldencrown.org/
When in Romance https://bookriot.com/listen/shows/when-in-romance/
Fated Mates https://fatedmates.net/
Smart Podcast Trashy Books https://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/podcast/
The Sapphic Book Review https://www.buzzsprout.com/1935982
Lez Talk About Books, Baby! https://macac1.podbean.com/
Queerly Recommended https://www.queerlyrecommended.com/
Kris Clink's Writing Table https://krisclink.com/podcasts/
You Should Write a Book https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/youshouldwrite
Heaving Bosoms https://www.heavingbosoms.com/
Brown Book Series https://brownbookseries.com/
Romancing the Story https://romancingthestory.buzzsprout.com/
Meet Cute BookPod https://meetcutebookpod.alitu.com/1?order=newest
Hashtags to follow:
Support these Romance-loving independent bookstores!
Love's Sweet Arrow (Tinley Park, IL) http://lovessweetarrow.com/index.html
The Ripped Bodice (Culver City, CA & Brooklyn, NY) https://www.therippedbodicela.com/
Meet Cute Romance Bookshop & Fizzery (La Mesa, CA) https://meetcutebookshop.com/
Happily Ever After Books (online in Canada) https://happilyeverafterbooks.ca/
Romance a la Cart (popup bookstore in Ohio) https://www.romancealacart.com/
The Last Chapter Book Shop (Chicago, IL) https://thelastchapterbookshop.com/
Resources are always being updated, so check back for more!
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