MBM: 6 Places to Find Novel Ideas by Janice Hardy

Last week of March Book Madness. It’s been awesome, and I’ve learned a ton. If you’ve missed any days, make sure to catch up. (Schedule and explanation at the bottom of this post.)

Today Janice Hardy is here discussing where to find ideas for your novels. I’ve been following Janice online for several years. She has great writing advice and ideas, so make sure to check out the links and her new writing book below.

Janice contributed to March Book Madness last year about having a premise vs. a plot (link to that post at the bottom). I’m so excited she agreed to add her thoughts again this year.


Janice Hardy:

Ideas can come from anywhere. When they spontaneously appear it’s great, but sometimes the itch to write is there, but we just don’t have any ideas we like. Or there’s no idea we like enough to want to spend months writing it.

If you’re facing a lack of ideas but an urge to write, here are six places  you might find that novel idea, or the perfect nudge to get an existing idea up to snuff.

Continue reading “MBM: 6 Places to Find Novel Ideas by Janice Hardy”

MBM: Know Your Audience — Even the Subtle One, by Cindy Piper



Welcome to the second day of



You can read more about March Book Madness here, but basically it’s an excuse for me to discuss everything about writing, editing, and reading books with some amazing authors and readers.

Fun, fun, fun!


Here’s the schedule:

The collective talent listed above . . . Wow! It’s going to be a great month.


Today we have Cindy Piper on MARCH BOOK MADNESS.

Cindy is a mother of three, avid reader, and blogger at wechoselife.blogspot.com.

I know Cindy very well because I married her older brother. :) (If you need help, that makes her my sister-in-law.) I love her to pieces. She lived with us for a short time before she was married and became close to not just me, but my kids. She read to them all the time and has given them many books over the years. We love Cindy and her family!

So…here’s she is.


CINDY PIPER: A Good Author Knows Their Audience — Even The Subtle One

I love reading everything from Dr. Seuss to June B. Jones to murder mysteries.  

If you can’t tell, I have kids — three kids. I love children’s books.  I hoard them.  I love a good book.  To me, this means the author understands their audience. seussthl

Obviously Dr. Seuss understood he had two audiences.  There’s hidden meaning in each of his books. Take, for instance, The Lorax.  When my son was three, he loved this book and had most of it memorized because of the rhyming words. But I also enjoyed it because Dr. Seuss talks about social issues, particularly the environment and consumerism.  I also enjoy the lyrical rhythm of his books.  He cleverly puts the message in an enjoyable rhyming way. 

(Happy belated birthday, Dr. Seuss! March is National Reading Month because we love your books.)

I also have a two-year old who loves reading all kinds of books.  One of his — and my — favorites is a book called 13 Planets. It’s about the solar system and has great pictures, so my son enjoys looking at it over and over.  But there’s also great information about the planets and space for me. I’ve learned a lot

My six-year old reads Junie B. Jones with me.  There’s subtle humor in there for an adult who may be reading or listening to a child.  Barbara Park is witty and makes the book enjoyable for adults and children. We also like Nate the Great.  It’s a series about a kid detective who solves mostly kid mysteries. He’s a clever kid, and I admit that I enjoy the stories also.  Lately we’ve started The Magic Tree House series.  I think I like these books more than my son. In general, I’m more amused by reading than he is.

The authors of the books I read over and over to my little ones understand that the book is not just for the child.  

I also live to read or listen to books on my iPod.  I read a variety of themes and authors.  I like murder mysteries with plot that I just can’t figure out. I love a good memoir. Right now I’m listening to a story that’s fiction, but is written with the intent to inspire you to have a better perspective on life.


I think even within the same reader, there are many audiences. Just like myself, I’m a mother,  a student of life, a teacher, a wife, etc. A great author understands his audiences.



I am a wife and mother of three children.  I love reading to them.  I started a blog in August after my daughter was born premature with Spina Bifida.  It is www.wechoselife.blogspot.com



Cindy reads to her kids more than any mom I’ve ever met. She’s amazing, and her kids are brilliant because of it. You should hear her almost-three-year-old read. It blows me away. (Can you tell I’m a little biased? :) ) Anyway…

Thank you, Cindy.

I think I understood this concept — sort of — but until you put it this way, I hadn’t really thought it through. It’s so true. How many parents are sitting through children’s books each and every night?

Authors need to make sure they are entertaining their target audience (in this case, the children), but we also need to be aware of the cross-over audience. If it’s a children’s book, is there stuff in their for the parents? What about YA? I know a lot of mom’s who read YA. Is there humor in there that only they would understand? It doesn’t have to be much; just a bit of something in there to let the cross-over reader know you appreciate them and want to entertain them, too.

Very cool. Thanks, Cindy!


How have you seen this cross-over audience concept applied? Any suggestions for authors of a certain genre? Join the conversation below.





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Check out last year’s MARCH BOOK MADNESS here.

Dystopian, Dystopian, Dystopian

I’m editing. And editing. And editing a little more. I can feel my manuscript tightening, growing, and hopefully gaining strength. Editing is like the refiner’s fire. I love it. 

The lovely Cassie Mae was my guest yesterday and she gave 8 awesome tips on editing (check it out here). Tomorrow, Jessica Khoury will also discuss editing. Jessica’s debut novel, ORIGIN, will be released from Penguin/Razorbill sometime in September. If you haven’t heard or read about this new YA novel, check it out here. It looks awesome! 

Back to my manuscript. While I have started and will finish–at some point–a sequel for Sadie, the manuscript I’m working on right now has nothing to do with Sadie. It’s set in the near future. It’s a romance. It’s dystopian. And I’m soooo excited about it. 

If you’re not sure exactly what dystopian is, neither am I. It’s just fun to say. Dystopian. Just kidding. What I think it is–hope it is–is a genre set in a future with an out-of-whack society. Think opposite of utopia. It’s playing the “What if?” game in a futuristic setting–only in a  depressing way. Kind of weird that I love it so much because I’m usually an optimistic person, but really, it’s a blast to write! And read. 

(There’s a fascinating article on goodreads.com today talking about the trends in dystopian literature through the years. You can read it here.)

Some of my favorite dystopian novels/series are Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins), Matched (Ally Condie), Host (Stephenie Meyer), and Uglies (Scott Westerfeld). But since I’m writing dystopian, I would love to read more of it. So I’m here asking you guys: 

What are your favorite dystopian novels? I know there are a lot in the YA genre, and I love YA, but I would also love to read some good ones in the adult market if you know of any. So what do you love?

While I’m on the dystopian subject, I’m going to see Hunger Games tomorrow! Yeah, I’m just a little excited. Please Hollywood, stick to the book! If you haven’t read Hunger Games, do. It’s awesome.

Come back tomorrow to meet the fabulous Jessica Khoury. Until then, Choose to have a good day!

Clean Romance: Old-fashioned Idea or New Trend?

(Warning: I’m stepping out of my comfort zone to get on a fairly large soap box.)

Why does everything have to be sexualized? I’m sick of it!

Last night, our family went to the Detroit Pistons game (basketball game for the non-sports people). It was such a riot and a blast, and I was having such a great time. Until . . . the dancers came out. Their moves, their outfits, their fake bodies. Everything reeked of sex and I was cringing with my five kids next to me, including my teenage boy and girl. (I would have been cringing without kids.) My husband’s company offered us great seats and as such, there wasn’t much to miss. I kept saying, “Hey, you guys want some popcorn?” “Hey, look at the mascot over there? He’s funny, right?” “Wow, look at all the pretty lights!” just waiting for the songs to be done.

FYI, I will be writing a letter to the Pistons staff because I write letters when I’m offended. Part of me believes it makes a difference, because I once sent a nasty letter to Google about an offensive ad and next thing I knew, I was emailing back and forth with one of their Senior Board Members. I haven’t seen the ad since. But even if my letters fall on deaf ears, I have no business complaining unless I speak up and try to do something about it (like I mentioned in a recent post). Watch out Pistons management, Mother Bear around the corner.

But I digress.

I’m sick of our sexualized culture. I’m sick of feeling like a Mother Bear all the time. Movies. Books. Video Games. Radio. Even harmless websites have harmful advertising in the sidebar. I mean, come on people!

Enough already!

Interestingly enough, I’m seeing a trend in the book world. There is a large group of people that are running to the Young Adult (teen) market. Readers and writers. Why? I think that many, like me, are sick to death of the of this over-sexualization in our culture and are hoping to find less prevalence in the teenage world. I say “less” because the YA genre is not free from sex. WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH THIS WORLD? Hmmmm, deep breath might be warranted at this point.

*Deep breath*

Okay. Back in control.

This new ‘clean’ trend in the YA is awesome, but…what if I don’t always want to read about teenagers? No offense to that group of people, but I already live with two teens. Do I really have to read and write about them too? I have friends who turn to the Christian market to find clean romances to read, but really, do I have to read cheesey religious books now too? No offense to religion or religious books, especially because I consider myself very religious, and SADIE has religion in it (although my next book doesn’t). Hopefully you are understanding my point, though.

There has to be a place somewhere that I can read about engaging, quirky, fascinating adult characters without muddling through the smut.

So here’s my plea to everyone out there.

I write romances. I write clean romances. But I can’t read my own stuff all the time. As much as I might like my stories, that’s lame and dumb. So please writers, PLEASE give me some reading with grown-up characters that’s safe for my 13-year-old girl to read. PLEASE! And it’s not just for me. I’m telling you, there’s a whole market out there that few are tapping into. Readers are running in droves to the YA market because they feel like it can’t be done in the adult world. It CAN! It has to for my sanity!

*Another deep breath*

My last point.

  1. Why is Jane Austen considered the greatest romance writer of all time? Her books are super squeaky clean. You might get a kiss out of the main characters. Maybe. But we totally and completely adore them–at least I do.

2. Why were 9 out of the top 10 grossing films of 2011 PG-13 or less, when over half (at least) of movies in theaters are rated R?

3. Why are people running to the YA market?

4. Why don’t authors and Hollywood understand this?


Enough ranting.

And if you haven’t heard about it, commonsensemedia.org is a great website for parents or non-parents who want to find out what content/smut is in movies and books. It isn’t all-inclusive, but it has the major ones. You can check out some of their book reviews here. Big thank you to them!!!

I’m still waiting for goodreads to come out with a rating feature so people not only rate how much they like a book, but where it would fit on the PG-XXX scale. Maybe someday.

(UPDATE: there is a new book website called literrater.com which rates books on content. Check it out!)

Okay, I’m done. Stepping off the soap box now. But I’m really hoping you’ll weigh in on this.

Do you agree with me? Disagree? Am I old-fashioned or could this be the new trend? What are your thoughts as a reader, writer, movie goer, music listener? As a parent? As a non-parent? As a consumer?