Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Mining Life for Story Ideas — Plus a Book Giveaway


Where do you get your story ideas from is a question authors are often asked. My short answer is "from life." Take my August Love Inspired release Reuniting His Family, for example.

Background: I grew up in a village in Upstate New York that has a maximum security correctional facility. My mother and my father (at the end of his work career) were employed there. Mom was administrative assistant to the director of the school program and Dad lead a maintenance crew. Both of them said, more than once, that most of the inmates they had contact with in their jobs said they were innocent of the crime that had gotten them there.

Fast forward a few — okay, a lot — of years. I was gearing up to write a new proposal for Love Inspired and got thinking about the claims of innocence my parents had heard. What if an inmate was falsely convicted of the crime he was incarcerated for and released when that came to light five years later? What if he had found Jesus in prison? What would his reentry into society be like? What prejudice might he encounter? What if he had motherless kids? My story idea was born.


A FATHER'S PROMISE 
Rhys Maddox wants nothing more than custody of his two sons. Released from prison after a wrongful charge, the widowed dad will do anything to bring his boys home where they belong. But that doesn't include falling for their former social worker. Now leading an outreach program for families in transition, Renee Delacroix can't escape the tall, dark and intriguing single dad or his adorable little boys. But Rhys is determined to go it alone. Until one incident that may cost him what he wants the most. Now it's up to Renee to save him if she can make him see she's just what he needs to complete their forever family.

Harlequin | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

READ AN EXCERPT

Now for that giveaway. Again, some background, small-world category. I no longer live in my hometown. But a church friend where we do live does prison ministry. Another worked for the  NYS Department of  Corrections in Albany and visited various facilities throughout the state. A third worked as a nurse at a maximum security facility a little south of where we currently live. So, here's your question to enter to win a copy of Reuniting His Family (print or ebook; winner's choice): Does anyone here do prison ministry or have a connection to a facility? Or not?

I'll come back Thursday morning and post the randomly chosen winner in the comments.

27 comments:

  1. Jean, congratulations on the new release! I love how life can inspire stories, as you've clearly shown. This is a great set-up for a story!

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  2. Jean, this sounds like a very compelling story. Love the cover!

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  3. Jean, congratulations on your new release. What a clever way of mining your life for stories.

    I don't have anyone working in prison ministry, but your question made me think of something. My daughter is studying horticultural therapy. They focus on how best to use plants to help/heal people.One of the populations served by this is Riker's Island, a huge prison in NYC. She's going on a visit there in a few weeks. I thought she'd be nervous, but she's excited because she said it's a renowned program and she's eager to see it in action.

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  4. Congratulations release of this new book! It sounds really good!! I have been stalking my Walmart for a copy, but they have not put them out yet! Where we live, we have two prison pretty close by. My husband used to work in one of them as a guard several years back. Would love to win a copy of this book!! Thanks so much for the opportunity!!!
    Tiffany
    jtabalk(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  5. Jean, I love all the resources you had for this "prison" story. Intriguing for sure.

    My husband was career military and after coming home to the States after living for three years in Germany, I decided our three young children needed a Christmas project. In Europe, we had opened our home at holidays to many of the single guys and gals and I wanted to continue that Christmas outreach. So that year, we did a prison project and filled large boxes for each soldier in the stockade...about 35 guys. The children and I baked goodies, wrapped gifts, and filled those boxes to the brim. On Christmas Eve, we delivered the presents. The men were standing in formation, waiting for us. We gave each man a box of gifts with lots of words of encouragement and joyous hugs from the children. It was a very special night for us. I wrote about it and the story was published. Just thinking of those men and that special moment in time when we went to prison on Christmas Eve still brings tears to my eyes. Not because of our outreach but because of the love we found there.

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    1. That's so touching, Debby! I know your gifts and expressions of caring must have made a huge difference in those soldiers' lives.

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  6. No I don't but I believe it is an important ministry to reach the forgotten ones.

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  7. Congrats on your new book. I've never done any direct prison ministry. We've done numerous outreaches by sending books to prisoners, giving parties for children of prisoners, and I wrote a similar story where my heroine works with a prison ministry.

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    1. I'll have to look that book up, Merrillee.

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  8. Clever story idea, Jean. Well done!

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  9. This story sounds so inspiring, Jean! I love it when experiences like yours someday find their way into our novels!

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  10. Sounds like a winner. My office used to be next to the criminal justice professor. I chaperoned his students to one of the women's prisons. All I can say is I wouldn't survive behind bars.

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  11. Hi, Jean. The story sounds fabulous. I'm rather fascinated by your hero's name. It's great. Very unusual and masculine-sounding. Blessings!

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  12. Christine, Lenora, Cate. Thanks. My editor and I love the cover, too. Despite my black thumb horticulture therapy sounds interesting to me.

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  13. And thanks, Belle, Pamela, Lisa, Myra, and Leigh.

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  14. Congratulations on the new release Jean. It is amazing where ideas come from. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  15. Congratulations on your book release! Intriguing story idea--and I love that cover!

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  16. Our friend Paula, who loves Jesus, worked in the maximum security facility just outside the small village in upstate NY. She worked as a nurse and I'm sure her light shone to all she cared for.

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  17. I don't know of anyone nor am I related to anyone who does prison ministry. I have read a few books about this very subject, where the main character spent time in prison and was wrongly accused. Trying to fit back into society was hard for them because it's like they had a black mark on their heads. Even though they never committed the crime. People hear the word prison and it immediately sends out a bad connotation. Of course there were a supporting cast within the book of friends and/or family members who know them well. And others who were willing to give them a second chance, say employers.

    I think we could relate in some ways when it comes to fighting prejudices or stereotypes in our own lives. And how valuable our true friends and family are in supporting us. :-)

    Thanks for the book spotlight and getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how it came about. Thanks also for the giveaway!

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  18. Thanks for the peek into the process for you new book. It's inspiring.

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  19. No one in my family does prison ministry or have a connection to a facility but I do give my books to a family that couldn't afford to buy them and they so appreciate that and the message they receive from the books. My son became a police officer in June of this year and I am always so proud to hear of how he is helping others. Thank you for writing Love Inspired. I really enjoy reading them and the message I get from reading them.Very inspirational!
    Cnnamongirl at aol dot com

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  20. In the church we were members of before we moved-- they had a mitten tree. People donated hats, gloves, scarves etc. in children's sizes for the children of people who were incarcerated.

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