Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Factory Idea by Victoria Hamilton, author of Bowled Over


Stirring Up Trouble...
Vintage kitchenware and cookbook collector Jaymie Leighton has been estranged from her high school best friend Kathy Cooper since they were teenagers, but she never knew what turned Kathy against her.
After fireworks at a Fourth of July picnic, Jaymie discovers the body of her former friend in the park.  On the ground nearby is Jaymie's own Depression-era glass bowl, broken in two.
With her fingerprints all over the bowl and a troubled history with the victim, Jaymie suddenly finds herself at the top of the list of suspects.
Did the killer intend to frame her for the murder?  If so, she is ready to mix it up, because solving crimes is vintage Jaymie Leighton...

Come On Down To The Idea Factory!
The question writers are faced with time and again is “How do you come up with your ideas?” I sometimes wonder why it’s even a question, but that’s just because I’ve been a writer for so long I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have more ideas than time to write them down.
So, for a serious answer?
There is a lot of talk out there now about the ability to rewire your brain for specific purposes, be it success, happiness, or creativity.  I think writers rewire their brains by the constant search for ideas.  We begin by plodding along plotting, and then we start to desperately seek ideas from friends, conversations, strangers, other books, newspapers, online, and every other place in the universe.  Before you know it everything gives you plot ideas or character types.  I guess the real miracle is, two writers can look at the same piece online or read the same article and it will inspire completely different stories.
Ideas are not the problem.  I have more book ideas than I will ever be able to write.  When you are continuing a series, though, it’s just a little different.  It’s kind of like filling in a form with information.
For example…
Bowled Over is book 2 of my Vintage Kitchen Mysteries series.  So there are quite a few things that determine, to some extent, what ideas I can use and how I need to use them.
1 – I am writing a cozy, so I discard immediately any ideas that are too far out or graphic or weird.  I’m not saying you can’t use stuff like that, but it should be sparing and well worked in.
2 – The setting is Queensville, Michigan, a small town on the St. Clair River; any ideas I have need to fit that small town atmosphere.  I’m not saying small town folk are so different from big city dwellers, but there are intrinsic differences that the setting absolutely affects.
3 – I have a set cast of characters to make use of: Jaymie Leighton, the protagonist.  Becca Leighton Burke, her older bossy sister.  Daniel Collins, her kinda/sorta boyfriend.  Detective Zachary Christian.  Valetta Nibley, Jaymie’s best friend.  And of course, Hoppy the three-legged Yorkie-Poo and Denver the crabby tabby.  I need to use many if not all of them, but I need to find fresh characters too, that either already live in Queensville or have a reason for being there.
4 – It is ‘vintage kitchen’ mysteries.  So there must be, at the heart, some kitchen equipment or element.  Readers will definitely be disappointed if you make something important in the first book of a series then ignore it in the second!
5 – And recipes!  Got to have vintage recipes.  Jaymie is always on the search for old recipes to use for her cookbook-to-be.  I don’t necessarily use them as a plot point, but they need to be present and on her mind.
Within those strictures, I need to find a story and make it as creative as I can.  Bowled Over came from a few random thoughts…
I wonder what happened to all my friends from highschool that I no longer see?  I live in a reasonably large city, so it’s no mystery that I don’t see them, but if I lived in a small town we’d be running into each other all the time.
Wow, that would be awkward if there was someone with whom you didn’t get along in high school.  It would be really awkward if they were your enemy!  Then all your other friends would be forced to either take sides or try to ignore the enmity.
What if that person died?  Would you be a suspect because they were your enemy?
You can see how that ended!  Throw in a vintage bowl of Jaymie’s that winds up being the murder weapon and bingo… you’ve got a cozy mystery centered around vintage kitchen stuff!
So… do you have any ideas that could end up in a book?  Have you ever thought of writing one?

Victoria Hamilton is the pseudonym for author Donna Lea Simpson.  As Victoria she writes the bestselling Vintage Kitchen Mystery series (Book 1 – A Deadly Grind – May 2012) and the upcoming Merry Muffin Mysteries, also from Berkley (Book 1 – Bran New Death – September 3rd, 2013) Victoria loves cooking and collecting vintage kitchen utensils, as well as reading and writing mysteries.

Connect with Victoria Hamilton:

Purchase through:  Kindle | Paperback

Vintage Kitchen Mysteries:

Victoria Hamilton is one of the authors being featured on the Cozy Mystery Book Tours Fantastic 4 Giveaway. Click HERE to enter.
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