Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Favorite Question

By ML Skye (Guest Blogger)

My favorite question inspires everything

What if?

It's a great question, yeah? I have to credit my mom with planting it in my head, at a very young age, to keep my busy when she'd rather be doing something else—usually reading a good book—whenever I asked the inevitable 'Why?'. She'd stop whatever she'd be doing, look at me, and say: Instead of asking 'Why?' and expecting an answer, why don't you use 'what if?' and figure it out.

She started a lifelong obsession for me.

My dad got in on the act, too. Star Trek re-runs always aired about the time he got home from work and he'd sit and watch with me and my two brothers. We'd be watching an episode and one of us would say: What if Spock captained the Enterprise instead of Kirk? Or, what if the transporter stopped working before the person fully reintegrated? Of course, growing up in the seventies gave me a lot of good fodder for my favorite question. Buck Rogers, Battlestar Galactica, and Star Wars fed my love of science fiction and lent themselves to imagining all kinds of crazy scenarios.

Having parents and grandparents who read widely and encouraged me to do the same opened up a myriad of mind-bending worlds for me to devour and live in for a while. My mom and her group of friends were romance junkies and their books spurred my interest in all kinds of new genres: time-travel, suspense, even espionage. I never lacked for new reading material and always had an opportunity to try every new style of romance when it came out, which also means I got to ask my favorite question—a lot.

So… I apply the same curiosity to writing. Almost every story I've ever written starts with 'What if'? With Midwinter Crises, I asked: What would happen if two people loved each other madly, but split over a career issue? Then had to work together post break up? For my Furlough 99 Novella, Shyler: Finding Home, the question started with: What if a police inspector traveled to the end of the known galaxy to get her bad guy? If I get stuck or blocked, regardless of whether I'm writing speculative fiction, contemporary, or magical fantasy, I can always ask the question to shake things loose.

The scenarios spin out from there and the story unfolds, sometimes really fast with words flying faster than I can type. Other times, the question will spawn a million more, and that's when wrangling everything together into something cohesive is harder than herding cats. The ideas take on a mind of their own and my brain explodes.

Okay, not really. But all the information has to go somewhere, right? Enter the big book of What If Possibilities, also known as my Works in Progress file. I may never finish everything I start, but I have an extremely cool log of almost every 'What if' question I've ever asked. And who knows, I could get lucky and complete all the random stories in my head. I've definitely learned never to say never—I couldn't ask 'What if' if I did.

For my current release, Boyfriend's Brother, I asked what if my heroine met the wrong guy first? The manuscript grew out from there, not easily, but every time I hit a wall, I'd ponder the 'what ifs' until I had what I wanted on the page. I'm seriously thrilled with how everything finally came together.

Please enjoy the following blurb and excerpt…


Chloe Timmons and Jason McIvey are each at a crossroads.

On what may be her last weekend as 'just a girlfriend', Chloe quells her restlessness by hitting the town and runs into her boyfriend's brother, Jason, a fellow pilot in the area for an air show. A barroom brawl brings them together.

Chloe thinks her boyfriend Marc may propose, and she's not sure she's ready for marriage. Jason McIvey has to decide if he's staying in the military or going civilian. When Chloe and Jason spend the night together, it doesn't make either decision easier.


Chloe ducked and looked up in Jason's direction. "Little help here?" She stood back up, and Max's fist connected with her jaw, her head smacking back against the wall.

Stars burst behind her eyelids, but she shook it off. Jason sucked in a breath and winced.

He kept his tone light. "Thought you'd never ask."

He stepped into the fray, grabbing one of the guys and spinning him around to meet his fist. The guy went down, but Jason got grabbed by the arm and Max got a solid punch in, splitting Jason's lip in the process. Jason landed his own jab and knocked Max backward to land on a pool table. Max didn't get back up, and Jason's face showed more than a little satisfaction with laying the guy out.

He made his way over to Chloe, and with their backs together, they slowly made their way out of the bar. Only two of Max's friends made an attempt to follow, but the crowd more or less swallowed them up when Jason and Chloe stumbled out the door.

Once outside, Chloe leaned up against the exterior, slowly sliding down until she crouched close to the sidewalk. Still seeing stars, she figured she hit her head harder than she thought. Looking over toward Jason, two of him hovered in her line of sight, but she attributed that to the alcohol. She let out a chuckle that ended on a groan.

Jason sucked in the cool night air, then turned to check on her. Her cheek burned, and she'd lay odds she'd have a big purple bruise along her cheekbone. Bet that would look really lovely tomorrow.

He used his thumb to wipe the blood off his lip. "Well, that was fun."

I hope you enjoyed reading. And a huge thank you to Lisabet for hosting me on her blog!

Oh, and I'm giving away a copy of MidwinterCrises, the first book in the Capital City Seasons Series.

Please leave a comment—maybe even note your favorite 'What if' scenario—and provide your email address. I'll contact the lucky winner off list.

Best regards,

ML Skye

Creating Character Connections… One Page at a Time

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About ML Skye

Currently a writer and editor by trade, ML Skye, also writing as Skylin O'Thomas and Skye Ritchey, can usually be found on IM or browsing the web while the TV plays in the background. She credits her parents for developing her fascination with 'what if' scenarios.

Growing up, she watched a mish mash of science fiction, westerns, and military dramas and read about other worlds and distant times along with contemporary romance… thanks to her mom's reading group—a wild, wacky bunch with diverse tastes that never failed to entertain.

She started writing short stories in grade school, switched to poetry in high school, and got sidetracked by a myriad of jobs and starting a family. But the writing called again and now she gravitates toward the genres she grew up loving, combining them with sensual and erotic romance set in different times and places. Meeting her husband on a blind date—after swearing she'd never go on one—ML Skye decided to never again say never.

'What if' couldn't exist if she did.

She resides in Ohio with her husband and children.





Colleen C. said...

I like to think of "What ifs"... What if I had this much money... what would I do?... What if my Mr. Right actually came around... etc... scenarios and dreams... I have a good imagination. Thanks for sharing!
greenshamrock at cox dot net

ML Skye said...

Thank you for commenting. A great imagination can definitely spawn a lot of 'What if' dreams and scenarios. :D

Lisabet Sarai said...

Greetings, ML, and welcome to Beyond Romance! Sorry to be so tardy. The evil day job... well, you know!

I heartily agree that "what if" is a highly fruitful question to ask as a stimulus to story telling.

Thanks for being my guest and for the giveaway!


ML Skye said...

Thank you for having me, Lisabet. I'm thrilled to be a guest.

I'm open to anything to keep the ideas and words flowing, but 'What if?' almost always works for me.

erin said...

congrats to ML on the new release! Looks and sounds fantastic ;) I'd have to say I play the "what if" game about if I win the lottery ;)

Mary Preston said...

What if? must be invaluable for a writer. What if? is fantastic to use with children.


ML Skye said...

Thank you very much for commenting and for the congrats. :)

And oh... playing 'what if I won the lottery' is an excellent example. I might have a small, but specific list tucked away somewhere if I ever happen to land some winning numbers. :D

Thanks for sharing!

ML Skye said...

Yes! I think my mom was definitely on to something when she came up with that little game. :D

Thank you for commenting!

bn100 said...

Interesting question; nice blurb

bn100candg at hotmail dot con

ML Skye said...

Thank you! And thanks for commenting. :D

Debby said...

There are so many what ifs. How can I pick just one? What if you had not turned around at a specific moment/ What if you were driving a few minutes ahead? It is a fate question.
debby236 at gmail dot com

ML Skye said...

Ahhh, yes! Very much a fate question. Thank you for commenting. :D

ML Skye said...

Thank you, everyone, who commented. I used a random generator and will contact the recipient of Midwinter Crises by email.

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