Thursday, March 12, 2009

Readers ask, "Where do you get your ideas."

Hello from Gail Gaymer Martin at

"Where do you get your stories" is a common question that authors get from readers. They come to me from many sources--sermons, Bible verses, newspaper articles, a unique setting, people I see in my daily life, and from events told to me by family and friends. In fact, I often have friends start to tell me a story, and then stop and say, "You'll probably put me in your next novel."

I never do that, but I sometimes take pieces of their experience and twist it around to create a different but similar scene in my book. You've all heard the saying truth is stranger than fiction. That's true and I'm glad not to have experienced my sister's adventure a couple weeks ago while she was spending two winter months in Sedona with her husband Max and another couple, Nancy and Fred.

(Click for enlargement - and use back button to return)

You'll see my sister Jan (the short blond) with me when we visited her and her husband in Sedona January 2008. Behind us is bell rock, one of the amazing rock formations people like to climb. My sister's adventure happened on mesa not too far from the condo where she was staying.

When I received Jan's telephone call early in the morning, the sound of her voice prompted my question. “Are you okay?”

“I am now,” she said, “but I have a story for one of your novels.”

From the tone of her voice, my heart gave a jump. “What happened?”

This is a brief summary of her story:

The four travelers love to hike and when Jan and Max’s grandson Jack came for a visit, they decided to take him hiking up to a mesa not far from their condo in Canyon Mesa Country Club. Fred, with some health problems, opted out of the hike, but after lunch his wife nancy joined my sister and her husband along with Jack, and they drove to the beginning of a hiking trail into one of the surrounding mesas. Time: 1:30 PM

This dramatic story continues with getting lost. Time 3:30. They turned back and came to a dead end. Human tracks had vanished, mud pools nearly sucked off their shoes, then mountain lion tracks and evidence of wildlife unsettled them. Time 6:00 PM They changed directions as night settled over them. In the dark, they had falls, scraps, leaving blood running down their arms and fearing the lions would pick up their scent. With dangerous drop offs and night's lowered temperatures, they faced reality. They had to find a way to stay dry. Jan dragged out her suvivor knowledge and suggested they feel for loose tree bark to cover the wet ground so they could huddle together for warmth and wait until morning.

Any good writer likes to hook the reader, so I'll end this chapter here, but if you'd like to read the full story and learn the ending, which was amazing, you can visit my Gail's Thoughts blog at

One of these days, you'll find a scene like this in one of my novels, filled with emotion, drama, and romance. I'll keep you posted when that book comes to reality.


Missy Tippens said...

Wow, Gail! What a hook. I'm heading over to finish the story now. :)

Gail Gaymer Martin said...

Hi Missy. I'm relieved that my sister is home, and I've told her "no more hiking on wilderness trails."

She doesn't listen to me though. (Laughing) I will say I praised God many times that they were resuced and had nothing horrible happen.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

What a great story!

I'm inspired by everything and everyone around me. I love listening to people talk (I'm an avid eavesdropper really) and many times a great one-liner will become the opening line for a book. And many times the story unfolds around that one line.

Thanks for sharing how your great books are inspired, Gail!