IDEAS, From Spark to Fiction – WATCH THE SERIES

Where do I get my story ideas? Most writers have probably heard that question numerous times, and sometimes it’s difficult to answer. Some of my ideas seem to come out of nowhere, fully-formed. At other times, the birth of a story is made up of several factors that are only clear in retrospect. Many stories grow out of my own experiences, interviews with interesting people I meet exploring, or comment someone makes that stirs my imagination.

To answer the question, I’ve decided to do a series of videos on the creative sparks that have led to different books I’ve written.

Here’s the playlist. I’ll add to it as I post more videos. If you want to be notified when the playlist is updated, signup for my Storyteller Academy newsletter

WILD PASSAGE – IDEAS, from Spark to Fiction

TAKING CHANCES- IDEAS, FROM SPARK TO FICTION

CATALINA’S LOVER- IDEAS, FROM SPARK TO FICTION

If you enjoyed watching these videos, subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified of the next release. A “like” would come in handy as well.

Where do you get your ideas?

Vanessa

Taking Chances – IDEAS: From Spark to Fiction

Where do I get my story ideas? Most writers have probably heard that question numerous times, and sometimes it’s difficult to answer. Some of my ideas seem to come out of nowhere, fully-formed, and other times the birth of a story is made up of several factors that are only clear in retrospect.

The creative spark that eventually became Taking Chances was born during an afternoon walk with my friend Jan, while describing a novel I’d been reading. Although the book was well-written, I was on a rant because I would not believe in the romantic premise …

Click on the video to listen to how Taking Chances was born…

I had fun remembering this one, and if you enjoyed it too and found it interesting, I’d love it if you’d subscribe to my YouTube channel and share the video with others. A “like” would come in handy as well.

Where do you get your ideas?

Vanessa

Wild Passage – from spark to fiction…

People often ask where I get my ideas for my novels. It can be a difficult question to answer, because every story is different.

My novel Wild Passage, for example, had its origins in the most terrifying night of my life. My husband Brian were 70 miles west of the Oregon coast on our sailboat, Julie Marie II, on a voyage from Canada’s Juan de Fuca straight to San Francisco.

Let me tell you the story…

I had fun remembering this one, and if you enjoyed it too and found it interesting, I have a couple of favours to ask you.

I’d love it if you’d subscribe to my YouTube channel and share the video with others. A “like” would come in handy as well.

And have a great day!

Vanessa

Review of Sharon Karaa’s ACCIDENTS HAPPEN

Accidents HappenAccidents Happen by Sharon Karaa
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tabitha Brownlee’s journey from pre-bride jitters to true love begins with a bizarre accident and an attempt to save a life, then suddenly dumps her to a comedic version of “the other side” where she tries to negotiate a bureaucratic snarl-up that seems incapable of reversing her accidental and unauthorized death. While Tabitha’s fights a disaster-prone battle to reunite with her body, the author gradually unveils the loving woman beneath this heroine’s tough outer shell.

ACCIDENTS HAPPEN is the sometimes funny otherworld story of friendship, love, and tough choices, with a wealth of intriguing characters I hope to see in future spin-offs of this book. Good work, Sharon Karaa!

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I’m sponsoring today’s Kindle Nation giveaway! Could you be the one to win a Kindle Fire?

Seeing Stars – only $.99 Mar 10-12, 2017 on Amazon Kindle.

I’m sponsoring today’s Kindle Nation giveaway of a Kindle Fire at Kindle Nation Daily! Follow the instructions at http://tinyurl.com/grpmxnu to enter for your chance to win!

  • Have you entered today’s brand new Kindle Fire Giveaway for March 10? Subscribe free for your chance to win!
  • And keep the good times rolling by checking out my $.99 special on my Seeing Stars Kindle edition.
  • Check out this free giveaway at http://tinyurl.com/grpmxnu  and keep the good times rolling by following my Vanessa Grant Amazon author page (just scroll to the bottom of the page at http://tinyurl.com/grpmxnu and click on the “Follow” link.)

Seeing Stars

Momentary Passion…

Arizona astronomer Claire Welland is anything but starry-eyed when it comes to romance. She knows her home on an isolated mountaintop observatory makes marriage to most men impossible, but that doesn’t mean she can’t have a little romantic fun. The last thing she expects when she comes home to Port Townsend, Washington, for her high school reunion is to be swept off her feet by Blake McKenzie.

Forever Love…

Once the town bad boy, Blake is now a prominent shipbuilder dedicated to helping local teens. When he asks Claire to talk to one of his boys about astronomy, he’s only thinking she might give direction to a troubled kid. He certainly never dreamed she’d inspire him – to fall in love. Now Blake is determined to show Claire that their future together is in the stars … if she’ll only open her eyes.

Have a great day and read a good book!

Vanessa Grant

10 Tips for Effective Writing

10 effective writing tips for for clear, powerful, and effective writing.

In this video, I’m sharing 10 red flags that I look for when revising my writing, a list I’ve built up over the years, distilled from a combination of my own experience and others.

The core is based on a little book I was given when I first went to university several decades ago, and still have in my bookcase: The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White, a little goldmine for writers first published in 1918, and now in it’s 4th edition (with a 2011 Revised edition by the original authors and William Strunk, Junior).

Feel free to make suggestions for other videos and multimedia online courses you would like to see in future. Reply with your suggestions, or tweet @vanessa_grant

Vanessa

Seeking input: Hero’s Journey – at the heart of storytelling

Hi everyone, please could you help me?I am planning on creating an online course for storytellers on how to incorporate the Hero’s Journey into their creations. Right now I’m in my research phase and I’m looking for input.

If you were to take a course in Hero’s Journey – at the heart of storytelling what questions would you hope it would answer for you?

Image licensed under Creative Commons by Esbjorn Jorsater

Thank you so much for taking a moment to help me with your feedback!”

Vanessa Grant
Check out my courses at StorytellerAcademy.ca

Dick Francis, master of mysterious beginnings

First published on PenWarrions.com

I told the boys to stay quiet while I went to fetch my gun. (Twice Shy)

Twice Shy by Dick Francis

When I read those first words of Twice Shy by  Dick Francis, my immediate thought was, “Now there’s a powerful opening hook!”  Then I put the thought aside and kept on reading, because first and foremost I love a good story. Time enough to analyze how Francis hooked me and try (hope) to bring that power to my own writing after I’d read the story. 

So began my study of beginnings. The opening hooks I loved most were the ones that not only promised, but also delivered an amazing read. Many of them were written by Dick Francis.

E. C. Sheedy introduced me to the idea of searching for the power words in writing that impresses me. Gun is definitely a powerful word, associated with violence and death. Paired with boys, which implies youth, it becomes even more dangerous and powerful. The command to stay quiet implies a threat, increasing the dangerous stakes.

In seventeen words, Dick Francis completely hooked me. When the next paragraph reveales that the first person narrator is a Physics teacher in a boys school, using the gun as a prop for a lesson on ballistics, I’m even more intrigued. I know the gun is going to be important – after all, this is a mystery. The narrator will be the detective character, and I’ll be staying up late to read this book.

Dick Francis didn’t disappoint me.

I intensely disliked my father’s fifth wife, but not to the point of murder. (Hot Money )

Hot Money begins with the above statement by jockey Ian Pembroke, whose mother was his father’s second wife. I love the way the author blends powerful words  like intensely, disliked and murder with details that skillfully reveal the murdered wife was preceded by four others, one of whom will be Ian’s mother. I anticipate family discord, and I expect Ian to be the innocent prime suspect.

Hot Money delivers on the promise of its opening sentence with a delightfully complex family arranged in factions around three ex-wives, an intriguing mystery, and the delight of discovering Ian’s complex relationship with the father who, when his own life is threatened, turns for help to his estranged son – the one person everyone else suspects of the murder.

Here are a few more great openings from Dick Francis novels:

Dying slowly of bone cancer, the old man, shrivelled now, sat as ever in his great armchair, tears of lonely pain sliding down crepuscular cheeks. (Wild Horses)

I had told the drivers never on any account to pick up a hitchhiker but of course one day they did, and by the time they reached my house he was dead. (Driving Force)

I don’t think my stepfather much minded dying. That he almost took me with him wasn’t really his fault. (To the Hilt)

StraightAnd then there’s Straight, which I believe is Dick Francis’ most brilliantly crafted novel:

I inherited my brother’s life. Inherited his desk, his business, his gadgets, his enemies, his horses and his mistress. I inherited my brother’s life, and it nearly killed me. ( Straight)

The violence implied by killed is preceded by a tantalizing blend of what seem to be small details (his desk, his gadgets) and the threat implied in inheriting his enemies and his mistress.

What elevates this book beyond the status of a truly great mystery is the way every one of those inherited items became meaningful: not only in solving a murder, but also in painting the evocative portrait of the uncompromisingly Straight man whose death preceded the story’s beginning.

Dick Francis was a master who continues to fascinate me. Every time I re-read one of his novels I hope to soak up some of the magic of his storytelling.

Dick Francis died on February 24, 2010, survived by two sons and a legacy of best-selling mysteries. The fascinating story of his life and its real-life mystery is revealed in family friend Graham Lord’s biography Dick Francis: A Racing Life, which I discovered (and bought) while writing this blog.

Chocolate Mousse Attack – book review

Chocolate Mousse Attack (Death by Chocolate)Chocolate Mousse Attack by Sally Berneathy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Chocolate Mousse Attack is my first Sally Berneathy chocolate mystery, and I’m hooked. Divorced chocolatier Lindsay is awoken at 2 am by an urgent phone call from a neighbor Fred. The woman who just moved in across the street a few hours ago has sleepwalked straight into Fred’s house, wearing only a thin nightgown. Fred can’t get her out of his bedroom closet, and he needs Lindsay’s help. But when the two of them manage to get Sophie Fleming out of the closet, they discover it’s more than a little sleepwalking.

Sophie had a nightmare that Lindsay and Fred soon realize must be more than fantasy. It’s murder.

Sally Berneathy has created a very likeable amateur detective character with Lindsay, and great sidekick in Fred-the-neighbor with his old car, sober manner, and hacker’s knack for digging out secrets online. Add King Henry, the stray cat who adopted Lindsay and knows more than a feline should, and Lindsay’s boyfriend – a cop who refuses to cancel her speeding tickets – and it’s no wonder I’ve just fallen in love with Berneathy’s Death by Chocolate series.

I won’t add any spoilers, but if you like your mysteries with a touch of laughter, and a great cast of characters, you can’t do better than to check out Chocolate Mousse Attack.

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A Question of Fire – Book Review

A Question of FireA Question of Fire by Karen McCullough

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed Karen McCullough’s romantic suspense A Question of Fire.

Reporter Cathy Bennett knows she’s out of her element filling in for her newspaper’s society editor at a party for the city’s elite, but she certainly doesn’t expect to end the evening sitting on the grass holding a dead man’s hand. Before he was murdered by a gunshot that echoed through the night, the young man now dead on the elegant lawn gave Cathy a message for lawyer Peter Lowell.

“Danny was framed. I’ve got the proof.”

Cathy and Peter are thrown together in a quest to prove the innocence of Peter’s young client Danny, surrounded by a landscape of lies and deception, arson and murder, with just enough information to expose them to the criminal perpetrators hunting for the missing Danny.

Karen McCullough has crafted an enjoyable and suspenseful quest for the truth about the murder of a young man named Bobby, a man named Danny falsely accused of arson, a mysterious private detective, and a web of crime … and let’s not forget the romantic touch of love that makes this an especially satisfying read.

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