I'd like to introduce all of you to a friend of mine, Diane Vallere. We've known each other for years, belong to the same organizations, served on committees together, but ... we've never met. Gotta love the internet! I'd know her in an instant if I saw her on the street, and I know enough about her to tell all of you that she is one of the most creative people I've ever met.
Diane is a prolific author of short stories (in 3 anthologies), full length novels that include two separate series; The Style and Error Series and the Mad for Mod Series -- so far a total of 7 titles -- and is working on a Fabric Shop Mystery Series for publisher Berkley Prime Crime.
She also worked for years as a buyer for one of THE most famous luxury goods retailers, traveling the world to runway shows, shoe markets and lingerie fairs. Is she qualified to write what she writes? Darned toot'n! She's got the fashion industry nailed, and her books make you feel like you're part of it (I know this because I've read them all). Diane is also supremely qualified to hold forth on the genesis of ideas for entertaining stories, but I'll bet you've figured that out by now. So, without further ado, here's Diane!
Most people who know me know how much I love Project Runway. And the one thing that resonates with me each week is how the designers are given their inspiration and immediately told to sketch their ideas. Thirty minutes, and then off to Mood Fabrics. The designer who can channel their inspiration and merge it with their brand quickly has a much easier time when it comes to selecting material and assembling a dress.
In a way, I approach my books like a designer. Each series is a collection; the combination of my books make up my brand. And the inspiration can come from anywhere: a line at the bank, a day at the beach, an appointment with a personal shopper, an old movie. The best way for me to keep rejuvenating the pool of ideas in my head is to keep exposing myself to new things.
This is the single most important part of my full-time writing life.While juggling writing with a full time job, I didn’t have the luxury of staring at a blank page. I had to be able to turn on my writing when I had a pocket of time. That was a great skill to develop. But that skill was born out of a different skill: the ability to find ideas in everyday life. In order to turn on the writer during my 1 hour lunch break, I needed to have a cache of ideas ready to be mined.
I keep a composition book for every project that I’m working on, and any time something strikes me that might work somewhere in a book, I jot it down in the notebook. (I am a compulsive composition book buyer for this reason). I buy them in coordinating sets of three to represent three books in a series. If I get an idea for a future book, I can tear out the page and clip it to the cover for the next book in that series.
Example: Because I knew I wanted to use a counterfeiting crime as part of the plot of THAT TOUCH OF INK, I was especially tuned into anything involving money. I watched how people acted at the bank. I paid attention to people who used cash instead of credit. When something struck me, I’d write it in the designated composition book. When I needed to shake loose an idea, I’d flip through the composition book until something felt fresh. That doesn’t mean I only had ideas about counterfeiting crimes during that time. In fact, I was so in tune with those characters that I got the idea for the third book in the series too. Since my writing schedule didn’t allow for me to write it right away, I started a new notebook with those ideas. (I started the third book in November and found a lot of ideas that just needed to be fleshed out!)
Getting ideas is easy—as long as I keep myself exposed to what is going on outside of my computer!
Want to find out more about Diane's books? Go to her blog DIANE VALLERE (Go on, click on her name), and read excerpts from her books. All her books are available in print and e-book formats. She's got links to Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Nobel, Indiebound -- you name it. You'll find her everywhere. I can guarantee a delightful read!