Saturday, August 1, 2015

Cooking Up a Novel

By Lauren Linwood (Guest Blogger)

Readers often ask where I get ideas for my novels. My first six books were all historical romances, so many times I would look at the two eras that interest me (medieval times and the American Old West) and go from there.

Im a native Texan, where the Texas Rangers have always seemed larger than life. Besides reading a few books about the Rangers and scouring the Internet, I also visited the Texas Rangers Museum in Waco to look at all their exhibits and soak up the flavor. The result was Ballad Beauty.

I love visiting San Francisco, so I decided to set another book in that fabulous city. During the 1870s, San Francisco rivaled any large European city in sophistication, with its cosmopolitan culture. I enjoyed researching places that existed thensuch as Cliff Houseand sending my characters to visit there. That novel turned out to be A Game of Chance. With gambling at the center of events, I researched gambling palaces of that decade and learned all about the various games of chance played.

When Im plotting, I always play the What if . . . game. By asking that question, I came up with the premise for both of my medieval romances. In Music For My Soul, I asked myself,What if a woman became a troubadour?In researching The Hundred YearsWar, I thought,What if a captured noblemans family refused to pay the ransom for his release? What would happen to him?That research and those questions led me to write A Bit of Heaven on Earth.

I switched gears recently and decided to try my hand at writing a romantic suspense. I enjoy reading them, so why not write one?

The research was a little different. I had to go to a dark place and distinguish between psychopaths and sociopaths. I read up on serial killers and stalkers. And then I threw bits and pieces of what I knew into that mix. Things I drew on from my life included:

*Making my hero Nick a writer. He talks about plotting and creating characters (so I used my own experiences for him)

*Having my heroine Callie be an actress (I’ve known several over the years)

*Giving Callie a huge white dog named Wolf (stole that one from my neighbor’s dog)

*Letting Nick & Callie enjoy a wonderful day in New Orleans (where I honeymooned)

*Having Nick be a Cy Young winner (my former student won this award last year)

I think all writers toss in parts of themselves no matter what they write, and thats what I did in Leave Yesterday Behind. Writing sometimes is like creating dinner out of leftovers in your fridge and whatevers in the pantry. I put all kinds of things into the dishsome Im familiar with, some I might be combining for the first timeand the end result can sometimes be quite surprising! If it works, great. If not, thats where revisions come in.

But I guarantee you, in every novel I’ve managed to slip in pieces of me and my past history, along with my research.

Youll find the blurb and an excerpt from the book below. If you like what youve read, leave me a comment with your email address. Ill give away an ebook copy of Leave Yesterday Behind to one randomly selected person who comments.


Callie Chennault vaulted to fame on the nighttime soap Sumner Falls, but after a decade of playing the same role, she is ready for a new acting challenge. When Callie is attacked by a stalker on the streets of New York, she takes a leave of absence from the show and returns to her roots in Aurora, Louisiana, to heal both physically and emotionally and determine her next career move.

Former professional baseball pitcher Nick La Chappelle has also come to Aurora to lick his own wounds after a messy divorce. A Cy Young winner and one-time ESPN broadcaster, Nick longs for the quiet of a small town in order to write murder mysteries under a pen name.

Sparks fly when Callie believes Nick is taking advantage of her great-aunt’s hospitality, but they resolve their differences—and surprise themselves by falling in love. Their bond is tested when both Nick and Callie become the focus of a serial killer nicknamed Lipstick Larry. Can they outwit a murderer bent on seeing them dead and survive to build a lasting relationship?


Maybe she should take a cab home. But her subway station was only a block and half away. It would be foolish to stand out in a downpour after nine at night when she could duck in and be on her way downtown in a couple of minutes. Callie liked that people left her alone on the subway. A few sometimes stared at her and frowned, wondering if they’d ever seen her before. Most turned away, not quite able to place her.

After all, she left Jessica behind at the studio every day. No chic clothes, Ravenous Red mouth, or fancy hairstyle. She didn’t often get recognized in real life unless it was a die-hard fan. Even then, most New Yorkers were cool about it and simply ignored her.


She turned automatically and saw a man standing behind her. He was probably the reason she’d had the feeling of being followed. He seemed a little out of breath, as if he’d been keeping up with her awhile. It had happened before. She knew it would happen again.

And always with this type.

He was non-descript in every way—average height and build, brown hair, glasses. Harmless looking. Dopey grin on his face, like he’d hit the lottery because he’d actually had the balls to speak to the crush of his daydreams. She knew enough to be firm. Give him a brief little personal moment, a smile and her signature on something, and get back to her life.

Then a quick flash of John Lennon signing an autograph for Mark David Chapman zipped through her brain. Hed been average, too.

And he’d killed Lennon hours after someone snapped a photograph of them together.

You dont look like Jessica up close.His voice was silky, almost caressing, yet the tone was definitely disappointed.

Her pulse quickened. She took a step back to put a little distance between them and brushed against a brick wall.

I like to give my skin a rest away from the studio. All that heavy make-up and hairspray can cause a girl some damage.She kept her tone calm and friendly as she glanced over the mans shoulder.

No one was in sight.

I want to see Jessica. Shes my favorite.

He pulled something from his pocket and held it up. “Put this on. It’ll help. It’s the perfect shade.” He smiled shyly. “I’ll even let you do it. You’re the expert.” He reached out and grabbed her wrist and laid the item in her hand before letting go.

Chills ran through her as she opened her palm. In it lay a gold tube of Jessicas signature Ravenous Red.

Buy link for Leave Yesterday Behind

About Lauren

Lauren Linwood’s historical romances use history as a backdrop to place her characters in extraordinary circumstances, where their intense desire for one another grows into the treasured gift of love. Her romantic suspense novels feature strong heroes and heroines who unite to defeat a clever antagonist and discover a deep, abiding love during their journey.

A native Texan, Lauren is an avid reader, moviegoer, and sports fan who manages stress by alternating yoga with long walks. She plans to start a support group for House Hunters addicts—as soon as she finishes her next piece of dark chocolate.

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