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8 Ways to Inspire Your Writing Ideas by Joanna D’Angelo #amwriting

News stories about babies being accidentally switched at birth can inspire a book idea. :)
News stories can inspire compelling books

Some writers can seemingly pluck inspiration from thin air, while others must work a little harder to get the ideas flowing. The following is a list of suggestions to help you get your thoughts percolating for your future bestsellers.

1. Stop the presses! I am always coming across very cool stories on social media or on the news or various blogs or on satellite radio. Heck, even the community bulletin board at your local grocery store. Craig’s List. Angie’s List. Classifieds. Dear Abby or other advice columns.  I recently heard a national news story on CBC Radio that sparked a fun idea that I hope to pursue.


2. Doh! a deer/a female deer…Music. Music. Music.


3. Take a hike buddy (or a walk). I love to take really long walks and I will often ruminate while I am walking (with some great tunes playing on my Ipod). Great way to work out your body as well as your mind – maybe even a sticky issue in your WIP. (Work in Progress).

4. Brainstorm. I work with creative people all day online and via email. But physically being in the same room with a bunch of creative types will always inspire me.  If you have friends that you can trust not to steal your ideas (LOL)  – then try doing some brainstorming sessions over a cup of tea or glass of vino. I expect many of you already have writing groups where you do that – but sometimes pitching an idea raw and seeing what someone thinks of it – might be fun too. I used to do that all the time when I was working in TV and film. The idea is to distill your idea to 25 words or less. Just throw it out there and see where it lands.


5. If you’re struggling with writing in a particular genre or switching genres think about the genre that you most love to read. Who are some of the most successful authors in that genre? Check out their books and see how they’ve done in their chosen path. Try contacting an author you admire and asking him/her a few questions. Who knows, you might get some great advice. We have an archive of terrific interviews with bestselling authors right here at the Lachesis Publishing Daily Blog – which are certainly inspiring.

6. y648While we all know that writers need to connect to what they are writing about in some way – we still have to keep in mind what the market is and wants. Check out amazon reviews for some popular bestselling authors in a particular genre. Or peruse some popular reader blogs. It will give you a sense of what readers like. The idea is to get your own thoughts whirring, not to tie yourself in knots trying to make every reader happy. At the end of the day you still need to be true to yourself. For example many readers HATE books where the hero starts out as a big jerk. Personally, I love them.  One of my fave books is Lisa Kleypas’ The Devil in Winter, book 3 in her Wallflower series. I love that book. The hero is the villain from the second book in the series. He actually kidnaps the heroine in book 2 to force a marriage on her. Now you may ask, how the heck was Kleypas able to turn a villain into a hero? By putting him through hell! And by creating a heroine that challenged his “bad guy” persona at every turn. And by using lots of humour. And by making him fall completely and utterly in love. Now, what has this to do with giving the reader what she/he wants? Well, readers might be turned off by a hero who starts out being a “jerk”. But that’s what good writing is all about. And that’s what life is all about too. We all have dark and light inside us. And sometimes the antagonist can become the protagonist and even more so – a hero we can root for.


7. TV or not TV (or movies). Seriously. Writers sometimes look to what’s a hit on TV or at the movie theatre for their own book series. Audiences who follow a hit TV show might also be interested in books that tell similar stories. Even if the show was based on a book series. I’m sure after Sons of Anarchy became a hit we saw a spike in “biker romances” or any genre with “bikers” in it. And you can bet that after the Harry Potter movies came out there was a rise in books about kids or young people with magical powers. After The Hunger Games made Jennifer Lawrence a household name, it also made a name for dystopian YA fiction.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

8. Er . . . could you speak up please? I’m having trouble overhearing  your conversation. Yup! We all do it. So why not turn it into an artform? Hang out at your local coffee shop, diner, or chichi bistro, set up your laptop, and work it baby! People watch. Listen to to snatches of conversations and write everything down! Imagine who you might “overhear”.

Cheers and Happy Writing!


Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing. She loves chai tea, social media, and good writing. 

Connect with Joanna on twitter@JoannaDangelo, on facebook and on pinterest.

Her facebook page is: Love Romance Novels (on facebook)

Her other blogs are: thepopculturedivas and therevolvingbook

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The good, the bad, and the ugly truth about writer critique groups by Patricia Grasso (historical romance author)


The good news is you joined a critique group. The bad news is you joined a critique group. Critique groups can help make your publishing dreams come true, or they can become your worst nightmare.

Some critique groups have seen all their members published by the Big 5 NY publishers. Others have ended in cat fights. Even worse, some groups have harmed an aspiring author’s confidence and set their careers back.

No critique group is better than a bad critique group.

The Golden Rule is: Leave your ego home and take your manners with you.


The following are common sense suggestions for successful critique groups. The members must trust each other. Those critiquing must give honest reactions. Politely, of course. The writer must feel free to disregard those reactions.

Do not stay in a critique group that is not helping your writing improve. Do not stay in a critique group whose members are nasty and critical. If someone is not adhering to the agreed-upon rules, the person should be asked to leave the group.

The members must agree on practical items. How many times will they meet per month? Where will they meet? Will they bring pages or send electronically? How many pages will be critiqued?


Ideally, critique groups should have 4 or 5 members. The group needs a facilitator to keep the group on track. That means keeping the group working instead of socializing.

Do not expect all praise. The members should tell you what did and did not work for them. Members may offer suggestions and alternate views about something. That is their opinion.

There is no correct answer in writing. We only have what works and what doesn’t work. You take what you want and trash the rest.

This is a tough one. Only one person speaks at a time. No interruptions are allowed. When the member critiquing is finished, the next one speaks. Meanwhile, the writer is taking notes on what is said. That prevents the writer from debating or explaining.

critiques-t-shirtRecently, I critiqued chapter one and a synopsis for Lachesis author Claire Gem. I’ve attached her blog on this experience. Every writer who puts her work out there for critiquing should have as good an experience as Claire Gem.

The following excerpt is from Claire Gem’s blog (Claire Gem aka Charlotte Daly – is also a Lachesis Publishing author. Her upcoming release with Lachesis is the contemporary romance “Memories of You”:

It’s really hard for writers to put our work out there, open it up to criticism from not only the public but also from fellow writers. .

Those criticisms you hear whizzing by your ears are not always projectiles of ill intent. Sometimes, they are sacred offerings. Nuggets of pure gold.


I had a 30-minute, private chat with best-selling historical romance author, Patricia Grasso, after our regional RWA meeting. This was a planned consultation following a sequence of emails. Basically, I asked for her help on my struggling work-in-progress. Pat was hesitant to share her “lots to say” about my synopsis and first chapter. She didn’t want me sad or angry. After assuring her I would be fine, she agreed to sit down with me after the meeting.

I went with some trepidation. As soon as we sat down, she said, “You can use all, some or none of my suggestions. The book is yours so you make the final call.”

Pat criticized my POV switches, highlighting the fact they were confusing to the reader. She suggested some major plot changes that I may or may not use. She pointed out chunks of backstory that need “to go.”

Image: 296 × 211Search by image
Image: 296 × 211Search by image

“You remember that fairy tale where the little kid drops bread crumbs to mark his trail in the forest?” she asked.

“Hansel and Gretel.” I said

“That’s how you add your backstory,” she said. “A few crumbs at a time.”

She questioned my heroe’s flaw. “Have you ever read a romance with a hero with this particular flaw?”

ColdHeartedRake“Yes, I just finished a book by Lisa Kleypas and the hero had that flaw,” I replied.

Pat regarded me for a moment and then said, “You aren’t Lisa Kleypas ”.

What I had anticipated as critical stones thrown on my work-in-progress began to sparkle like gems. I realized this wasn’t an annihilation of my work. It was a diagnosis, by an experienced veteran of the romance genre, with a suggested plan of treatment.

“Here I love these lines,” she said, pointing to two sentences on the page. “You have a flair for comedy. You need to play these up.”

“I write contemporary romance with ghosts,” I said. “Where is there room for comedy?”


“There are no rules that say you can’t have humor in contemporary, even if there are ghosts.” Pat sat back in her chair, tapping the pages. “This is your strength, the part of your voice you need to emphasize. Play up your strengths, down play your weaknesses.”

Pat’s comment couldn’t have come at a better time. I almost heard the tumblers click into place inside my head. Breakthrough. . .


Enchanting the Duke by Patricia GrassoPatricia Grasso is the author of eighteen historical romances including the Douglas Series which follows the love stories of the amazing Douglas sisters (Angelica, Samantha and Victoria) in Regency London and the Lords of Stratford Series, Regency historical romances with a fairy-tale twist about the aristocratic families in Stratford-on-Avon. 

Patricia Grasso‘s latest release is Enchanting the Duke. You can purchase it at Lachesis Publishing or on amazon, BN nook, or kobo

Connect with Patricia Grasso online on her web site and on facebook

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