Writing Ideas – Where do they come from? by M. Kate Quinn – Guest Blog and Giveaway


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Writing Ideas – Where do they come from?

I’m often asked where I get ideas for my stories. The answer is both simple and complicated – life. The ideas come from life.

I’d venture to say that writers tend to be people watchers. We can’t help it. We look for the story in everything and in every place. The beach, the grocery store, the park, the mall, when visiting someone in the hospital, even at a funeral. Story ideas abound in these places.

For me, it starts something like this: In an elevator going up to the top floor in a medical building a woman is riding along with me in the cab. Her arms are folded and her mouth is pulled into a straight line. I ask myself why. Is she late? Is she angry? Nervous? The door opens and a man in a lab coat steps in and pushes the button for the top floor. I think his stab of the button was a bit heavy handed. Is he cranky? Why? Is it just that everybody’s in such a frenzied rush these days? The man and woman exchange a glance at each other and she quickly turns away. Ah, I think. And the magic two words float into my head: What if?

What if they know each other? What if they’re lovers? Why the standoffishness? Maybe he cheated on her, or she him. Or, what if they had gone out on a date and he was supposed to call her the next day and didn’t? And, if that was the case, why didn’t he call?

And so it goes. While I sit on a leather arm chair in my doctor’s office waiting for my annual exam my mind is building a story about a couple in an elevator, bit by bit, idea by idea.

Why has no place in what the heart knows for sure.

On the eve of their wedding Victoria Gliden and fiancé Owen Walker call it quits. He accuses her of not being able to get over her deadbeat father’s vanishing act when she was a child and she and her cold feet run and don’t look back.

An interior designer, Victoria, has an important meeting on Cancun that could garner her a promotion and the plan was to incorporate her presentation with the honeymoon cruise that’s journeying to the island. Since she’s sure Owen is on his way to Portland to escape the aftermath of their ruined wedding, Victoria takes the honeymoon cruise anyway. Only Owen has the same idea and they’re stuck with each other for six days, five nights.

Tony Gliden, Victoria’s father, dies in a freak accident and is sent back to earth disguised as a crotchety old man with the mission to convince his daughter to believe in love. So, he, too boards the ship.

At sea, destiny takes a detour when Victoria befriends the quirky old man with kind eyes and together they join forces with a quartet of unabashed women in their fifties who drink pink martinis and flirt with the wait staff but are wiser than they look. While trying to dodge Owen, Victoria’s new acquaintances help her face old wounds and confront new fears.

Most of all, Victoria and Owen both realize it all boils down to one word—why?

By journey’s end will two broken hearts get their answer?

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Words spilled from Owen’s lips before he had the chance to think. “I don’t know, Vic, maybe on some level I was meant to be here on this ship.”

She didn’t respond, kept her tooth locked down on that lip. But, her eyes were windows to some distant place he longed for. So, he and his glass of vodka let more words tumble free. “Sometimes I still can’t believe you really did this.” He gulped his drink in an effort to shut himself up, but it was fuel to his fire. “That you did this to us.”

“Don’t.” Victoria grabbed the fancy clutch that she’d squeezed into a misshapen blob of sparkly fabric.

“You know what?” He couldn’t stop and suddenly he didn’t want to. “It’s just too bad you’re so ridiculously afraid of veering off that rigid path you’ve carved out for yourself. That’s got to be a tough trek, Victoria. You must be exhausted.”

She stood up from the bar stool, chin held high, eyes swimming.

“You’re leaving.” It wasn’t a question. Owen knew the answer too well.

“Um, yes, I uh, promised my friends that I’d meet them.”

“Well, I guess I’ll see you back at the suite then, huh?” Pent-up energy raced around in him banishing every urge he had to stroke her hair, pull her to him, make them right again. His tone was caustic and it felt good and lousy both.

For each millisecond that he held her gaze, Victoria squirmed, her hands wringing that now pretty ugly evening bag, that tooth all but drawing blood as it pressed the pink flesh of her lower lip. She broke the stare and darted away as though she were being chased.

Owen’s heart squeezed like a fist had wrapped itself around the muscle. A tear pricked his eye. Victoria could run all she wanted, but for the first time in almost two days something finally made sense. She loves me.

About the Author:mediakit_authorphoto_victoriaatseaBorn to a feisty Italian mother and a gentle blue-eyed Irishman, I was given the name “Marykate,” inspired by Maureen O’Hara’s character in the movie, The Quiet Man, an old-time favorite love story that co-starred John Wayne. With a grandmother Catherine and an Aunt Mary the name was an obvious choice.

I’ve been writing stories all my life. There’s an old Macy’s box in my attic filled with my writings from childhood, now smudgy-looking pages produced on my portable Olivetti Underwood typewriter, an eighth-grade gift from my Grandmother Catherine.

I am a recent First Place winner of a short story contest sponsored by Reader’s Digest Magazine and write a column entitled “Boomer Humor” that appears monthly in my neighborhood newspaper.

My husband and I are our own love story. We have a slap-happy middle-aged second marriage with a combined total of six grown children, one delightful granddaughter, another precious little baby on the way and one ridiculously spoiled, amazingly handsome cat named Sammy.

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  1. Thanks for hosting!

  2. Your bio reads like mine, except for the cats.

  3. James Robert says:

    Have a great Tuesday and thank you for the opportunity to win

  4. Thank you for your insightful guest post! I always appreciate reading an insight to the writing process. Loving this book tour! 🙂

  5. congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win 🙂

  6. Who are some of your favorite authors; what strikes you about their work?

  7. I liked the excerpt.

  8. Enjoyed the excerpt.

  9. The detective work is always an intriguing part of writing!

  10. Marcy Meyer says:

    Enjoyed the excerpt. I think it’s great that real life leads to stories in your mind. I love the ‘what if’, as well.

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