Sunday, September 25, 2011

New Release: Dangerous Charade by Elizabeth Means!

Thanks, Alison, for having me as a guest on your blog! Today I’m going to talk a little bit about how and where I come up with story ideas. The short answer is…I get my ideas everywhere. My “writer’s antennae” is up all the time. Every juicy bit of news, gossip, current event, personal drama , interesting historical reference, natural disaster, etc., etc. that the antennae picks up eventually ends up in the writing corner of my mind. There it gets filtered and sorted into one of three categories: A. Yes! This would make a great stand-alone story hook. B. Meh, this could make a great kernel or sub-plot to weave into a different story. C. Junk, mental delete.
I write down the ones I want to keep on an index card and put them in what I’ve come to refer to as my idea box. It’s an old, oval-shaped wooden box that sits on a shelf. I’ve been doing this for years and the box is currently overflowing with ideas. It would take me multiple lifetimes to flesh them all out into finished stories.
Sometimes when the mood strikes me I’ll get the box out and play mad scientist with the ideas. I’ll take one idea and see what would happen if I added an element of another. Or two others. Or somehow turn the idea on its head. A word of caution, though, this method could lead to a super-story discovery that will have you up writing for nights because you’re too excited about the idea to sleep. On the other hand, it may lead straight to a horrific “Franken-story.” Beware!
This is partly how I came up with my idea for “Dangerous Charade.” I love James Bond stories. The idea of an elite, larger-than-life, (and oh-so-sexy) agent working for a mysterious boss named “M” to solve a mystery, catch a bad guy and not get killed at the same time draws me in every time. Plus, he gets to use high-tech, top-secret weapons and gadgets and go toe-to-toe with some of the world’s worst criminal minds.
But what if James Bond was a young female? Living in England in the 1880’s? What if instead of wearing a fashionable watch that’s also a Geiger counter this female James Bond carries a fashionable black-fringed parasol that’s also a gun? It’s been a lot of fun dreaming up gadgets for my Victorian era heroine.
I hope my idea process has inspired you. I find the initial, conceptual phase of a writing project to be the one that makes me the giddiest with excitement and anticipation of what’s to come. I strive to enjoy it to the fullest because after it comes the business of writing. Then re-writing. And that’s a completely different animal!

BLURB: Dangerous Charade
To escape an arranged marriage Gabrielle Broussard flees her home to become an undercover investigator with an elite, all-female investigative agency. Her first assignment, as governess at Westford castle to investigate the suspicious death of the Countess of Westford, quickly becomes complicated when she finds herself attracted to her number one suspect.
Lord Julian Blackwell is a survivor. After his father’s bankruptcy, he becomes a self-made man in Victorian England’s booming industrial era. Trapped into a loveless marriage, he has survived the shock of his wife’s sudden death. But now he must survive rumors and outright accusations. Hiring a private agency to investigate and prove his innocence seems like a good idea…until desire threatens to compromise both the case and the life of the investigator.

EXCERPT: Dangerous Charade
Gabrielle raced across the lawn toward a side entrance most often used by the servants at Westford. Dawn was breaking and she needed to move fast. If anyone saw her, she would be hard-pressed to explain why she was returning from a ride at this time of day, in the dark. And carrying a fancy parasol, no less.
She’d almost reached the door when Julian’s voice cut through the still morning air like a knife.
“Oh!” Her free hand flew to her mouth as she whirled toward the sound of his voice. He stood close to the building, hidden in the shadows. “My lord, you nearly scared me to death! I didn’t see you there.”
“Just what are you doing out here, lurking about in the shadows?” she demanded, adrenaline pumping.
“What am I doing?” He stared at her incredulously. “Not that I owe you any explanation for my actions while on my own estate, but I came out to watch the sunrise. What the devil are you doing?”
“I was…checking on Buttercup. I’m told she’s been acting strangely.” Gabrielle took a few more steps toward the building. “But—good news—it appears she’s doing fine.”
In a flash Julian was between her and the door. He regarded her closely. “That doesn’t explain why you’re lugging a parasol around in the dark.”
Gabrielle swallowed hard. She saw his green eyes narrow. “One never knows what one might encounter lurking about in the shadows. I may have needed it to defend myself from something. Or someone,” she added pointedly.
Julian stepped closer to her; they were less than an arm’s length apart. “Do you think you need it now?” The suggestive tone in his voice was unmistakable.
Her breathing quickened, and she averted her gaze. “What I think is that you are most unnerving.”
Julian reached out and tilted her chin up with his fingers. “What kind of game are you playing, Gabrielle?”
She didn’t answer. And he didn’t ask again. Instead he brought his head down very slowly and claimed her mouth with his own.

Author Website:
Buy Link: Now available from the Wild Rose Press!

Good luck with your new release Elizabeth, sounds very exciting. PS, I love your 'what-if?' It sounds like a winner! Writers take note: turning an idea on its head is a great gateway to success!
Next week: The Importance of Bad Reviews


Sandra Koehler said...

This is a gorgeous cover, Elizabeth. Makes me want to dive right in...Sandy/Alison

Susan Macatee said...

What a great idea, Elizabeth! And so unique!

Best of luck with it!

Jerrie Alexander said...

Love the cover and the premise. The idea box is much better than my file with cut out newspaper stories...I'm going to give it a try.

Good luck and many sales!

Calisa Rhose said...

I have a notebook I keep ideas in but usually if I really like an idea it goes into a blurb file on the pc. I just love the idea of a spy girl in the 1880's. Great post Elizabeth!

Jennifer Jakes said...

I love James Bond too -- have ever since I was a kid!
What a great idea and twist for Dangerous Charade. I can't wait to read this one:)
Wishing you many, many sales.

Anonymous said...

Great plot idea, Elizabeth! And love that Cover! Wishing you lots of Sales!

hugs, Kari Thomas,

Masquologist Extraordinaire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth Means said...

Thank you all!!!

Sandra Koehler said...

Thanks Elizabeth and best of luck with Dangerous Charade!