Monday, March 31, 2014

Inspiring Creativity In A Novel Series

Welcome to the day before April Fool's Day. That lets you know this post is serious. From Gail Gaymer Martin at

Authors can be inspired by many things as they create a new book, but sometimes ideas sneak up on us. I sent a blog post to the ACFW blog on Inspiring Rejection. Weird topic but it was based on things I’d learned from my April Love Inspired release, Rescuing The Firefighter. As I wrote about the creative ways I dealt with changes I had to make in the final story, I also thought about the way research can also inspire a novelist.

While writing the first book involving firefighters, The Firefighter’s New Family in the Sisters Series, I hadn’t noticed at the time how much I would set up characters for Rescuing The Firefighter. I had submitted a different storyline to my editor, but that idea was rejected and, I had to get creative. As I reviewed the second story, I realized I had already built my third novel hero and heroine into the second book. It had been done unintentionally, and it reminds me how the Lord works in His mysterious ways guiding us to into meaningful themes for our fiction.

Researching, I had learned so much about firefighting from both online research, phone calls and numerous other ways, but mainly, I learned the most important details from two firefighter’s I met on Facebook. Yes, you heard me. I posted that I needed real life information, and I was contacted by two men willing to provide me with practical and real life details on their day to day encounters. One wrote and asked, if I would you like to know the psychological and emotional struggles of a firefighter. Writers will gasp here, since there’s nothing greater than that type of information.

Both men’s willingness to take time and share their experiences and feelings was truly a gift. So don’t pass up the opportunity to seek help outside normal methods. The Internet is very helpful, telephone calls to the local fire station and even a tour of the building helps, but reality details is a gift. And the same men asked if I would like him to read the scenes that involved these incidents so that he could offer suggestions if they were needed. That was a moment that will always stand out in my mind. He was extremely helpful and made very few changes. After my author copies for the first firefighter novel arrived, The Firefighter’s New Family, I sent each man a thank you note and an autographed copy of the novel that included their names in the acknowledgments. The man who'd ask about providing more information wrote back and after expressing his thanks for the book and acknowledgment, this is what he said, “I thought you did a great job of including the technical aspects we talked about. Good details, proper terms, sequenced correctly-excellent work. But what really got to me was the story itself. When I first started reading the story, I was looking to see if the issues you and I talked about ended up being part of the book. Before I knew it, I found myself lost in the story. I was rooting for Devon and Ashley to become a couple. I loved the way you interjected wisdom into the story line. Devon and Ashley are really role models-from the way they respected each other, to the way Devon respected Ashley’s

relationship with her first husband, the way Devon and Ashley related to his ex-wife, the way Ashley and Devon related to Joey and Kaylee, etc. You were able to show the struggles they faced had a solution, and that solution included following God's word. Really nice work. You now have another fan!”

The second book Rescued By The Firefighter is in stores now and received  4 stars from  Romantic Times. The plot, inspired by the research from the first book and the developed characterization, helped me create a wonderful story that entertains readers as well as leaves them something to think about.

Research and rejection can result in unexpected gifts to authors by inspiring new novel ideas that are both creative and meaningful to readers.


Keli Gwyn said...

This post spoke to me in so many ways. First is that your book showcases firefighters. My dad spent his career as a firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service fighting wildfires. He was a real hero in my book. I like that your fictional heroes and heroines in this series show how much these brave men and women give of themselves to help others. My dad certainly cared about people and put himself in harm's way to help them. I honor that.

Next is that the post celebrates the generosity of people. I've had so many Facebook friends help me with research, both personal and writing-related. What a gift that is, especially when someone like the particular firefighter you mentioned goes above and beyond.

Another aspect of the post I enjoyed was hearing how much the firefighter got into your story. The men who've read my debut historical romance have been pleasantly surprised to discover that they "actually" liked the story. One man told me that every man should read at least one romance because he could learn a lot about women and how we view relationships. I appreciate the fact that the firefighter took the time to tell you the many ways your story impacted him.

I noticed that your editor turned down your initial idea for one of the books in the series. As a writer who, after years of waiting, writing, and learning craft, just sold her second book (this one to LIH!), I find it enlightening and a bit encouraging that even a seasoned writer such as you deals with the pain of a pass. You rose above it and came up with a great story, which shows me the value of turning our challenges into triumphs. I wish you well on your series.

Jennifer said...

Hi Keli and Gail, My dad was also a firefighter in the little town of Zion, Illinois for quite some time. That's very cool how a couple of real firefighters helped you out and enjoyed your book!

Keli what are the titles of your two books?

jennydtipton at gmail dot com

Hi Sally, I hope your family is doing well?

Keli Gwyn said...

Jenny, I sent you an email with the info. :-)