Thursday, June 2, 2016

Letting Story Ideas Bubble and Simmer

With my sixth Boardinghouse Betrothal book, A Nanny for Keeps, out this month, I've been thinking

about how this series began. When 9/11 happened, my heart went out to the people in New York City as I'm sure was the case with most people in our country. As I watched them help each other while grieving over what had happened, I became more and more interested in the city and the history there.

As a writer I kind of knew I wanted to set a story there but it took years for the idea to expand into what the series has become. We lived down south at the time and after Katrina, when my husband retired in 2006, our family moved to Oklahoma. It was there that the story ideas began to bubble to the surface. Here and there, in bits and pieces. A character here, a plot there. A profession added in, then a backstory--or the other way around.

One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted these stories set at the turn of the century when women were coming to New York City from all over to join the workforce, but I wasn't sure just how to connect them.  And then in 2010, I saw a book advertised in Victorian Home magazine. It was called A New Light on Tiffany- Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls, and I quickly ordered it.  Among so many other things, I learned that Clara lived in a boardinghouse and even met her husband there. The book and the photographs in it gave me such a feel for the city at that time--ideas for all kinds of work women could be doing began to simmer and I knew a series was in the making. I'd have a Tiffany girl in one for sure--and I did, but she didn't stay there long. She and Clara showed up in A Place of Refuge, book 2 of the series.
But at that time, I still wasn't sure just how to connect the stories.

And then, as most writers can relate to, just before I fell asleep or woke up--I can't remember which--only that I was in bed, it was as if the Lord was nudging me, telling me what should have been obvious by now. The connection was with the boarding house!
Oh my, I can't tell you how thrilled I was to have those pieces fall in place and I couldn't wait to get started! And I did, writing with joy and enthusiasm I hadn't experienced for a while!

I've so loved writing this series and although my editors have decided that they'd like me to move on  to something else and the Love Inspired Historical series stops with this book, the series will continue on. Instead of Boardinghouse Betrothals, they will now be called Heaton House and I'll be able to 'link' them to the LIH series. I hope my readers will be glad to know that the series will continue as long as there are stories to tell. Next up is Julia's story. It's about time, don't you think? I have ideas for more, of course, but if you have any ideas for more Heaton House stories you'd like to read, I'd love to hear them!

And for those writers out there who have an idea that hasn't come together yet, but just thinking about excites you, don't put it away--just let it keep simmering until it does!

Oh, and I could use some ideas for new LIH proposals as I haven't come up with anything that excites me just yet. Anywhere you'd like to see a new series set?  City life, out west or where? Time period? Late 1800s, early 1900s, or something else? I'd love to hear those, too!

Until next time,

Janet Lee Barton


16 comments:

Scraproni: Adventures of Single Woman said...

I'm up to reading Mistletoe Kiss in this series, I have not read it all as I think Matt's attitude at the beginning of the book has caused me to put it down for now. Loved reading the series and the family feel

Janet Lee Barton said...

Hi Scraoroni, Thanks for stopping by! I'm sorry you didn't like Matt's attitude at the beginning of the story. But t hope you do finish reading The Mistletoe Kiss, for I think your thoughts about him will change as you see him change and grow throughout the story. I hope so anyway. :)

Janet

Rhonda Gibson said...

Hi Janet! I love your books. I'd like to see you do another Oklahoma Land run series. I loved the Guthrie series!!

Scaproni, I agree with Janet. Keep reading. I love Mistletoe Kisses. One of her best books!!

Terri said...

Good morning Janet, I'm so excited that your series will continue as Heaton House! There are so many possibilities with the boarding house.

As for future possibilities how about a female panhandler in the gold rush days? She could be going west or already be in one of the western territories. Maybe three orphaned sisters determined to make it on their own. Just a possibility.

Janet Lee Barton said...

Thanks for the ideas Rhonda and Terri--I like all of them! I'll for sure add them to my list.

Jacqueline Wheelock said...

Such seasoned advice, Janet! No pun intended but as I think about it, like food, writing is so much better when the ideas have time to blend and complement. Thanks for giving us this memorable and wonderful series.

Jacqueline

Terri said...

Scraproni - keep reading. Janet won't let you down!

Janet Lee Barton said...

Thank you Jacqueline!

Mary Alford said...

Janet, it never ceases to amaze me the outcome of a story that you let simmer in your head. Its as if God is right there with you, stirring up your imagination and helping you create the story you are supposed to write. Great advice. Thanks so much.

Janet Lee Barton said...

Thank you, Mary! It truly is like that! And I think that the times that I've "forced" an idea before its time or into a box, have been the stories that, while I might have enjoyed writing them, there wasn't always the JOY of writing them. When I experience that kind of joy, I truly feel that it has come from the Lord. :) Hope that makes sense. :)

Diane Ashley said...

Hi Janet,
You have a wonderful God-given talent to write uplilfting stories that transport us to a different world. Thanks so much for sharing how you come up with your characters and plots. No matter the setting you choose, I'm sure the result will be delightful.

Aaron McCarver said...

Hey Janet,
You know this is one of my favorite series ever! I'm looking forward to "Heaton House" books to come!

Janet Lee Barton said...

Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words, Diane!

Janet Lee Barton said...

Aaron, thank you for stopping by! I'm so glad you like this series--it encourages me to keep writing these stories. And I'm working on that first "Heaton House" book now. :)

Lorraine Beatty said...

Hi Janet - waving from Mississippi. I enjoyed this blog. I'm always amazed at the transformation of my ideas from beginning to end. They always change and sometimes I don't even recognize the original idea. But that's part of the fun. Glad to hear you're continuing the boarding house series. It's a lovely collection.

CatMom said...

Hi Janet! Sorry I'm a day late in stopping by (still wondering where yesterday went, LOL). ;)
Just wanted to say I admire you SO much - - you are super talented and also one of THE nicest people I've ever met - - just wish you and Dan lived closer to us! :)
I've loved all of your books that I've read so far - - still have a couple on my TBR stack (did I mention I'm a slow reader? *sigh*)
But I look forward to adding many more Janet Lee Barton books to my shelf!
Hugs, Patti Jo