Writing Ideas From Real Life

Where do we get our ideas for writing? We’ve all heard the advice to “write what you know,” but we don’t want to end up with a memoir either – not when we set out to write a novel.

Looking back at the five novels I’ve written, I realized that I often took a germ of an idea or an event or experience from my own life and built it into my books.

The trick is not to write the whole experience, but use it as a jumping off point.

Here is an example. In my book, Reckoning Tide (the sequel to The Wind Weeps), I needed to create an incident that had tension and danger and a resolution.

The characters, Jim and Andrea, are in a remote inlet on the coast of British Columbia. They have taken the skiff from their fishing troller and have gone partway up the river to explore.

Photo by Ken Johnston

Just as my husband (the Captain) and I did many years ago, Jim and Andrea tied the skiff to an upturned tree root and walked along the tidal flats.

I was terrified of grizzlies that might be coming to the river mouth to eat salmon. I should have worried more about getting separated from the skiff by the incoming tide.

photo by Ken Johnston

The setting in Khutz Inlet is such that all sorts of danger come with its beauty. Rather than tell my own story in the novel, I used what I knew about the place (the sights, the smells, the danger) to create the final chapters of my novel.

Have you used some of your own experiences as a jumping off point for a scene in your novel? If not, why not try it?

If you would like to find out what happened in the real life version, you can visit my blog post about it here. https://wordsfromanneli.com/2015/04/01/cut-off-2/

To see how I have used that experience in my novel, you can read Reckoning Tide. But first, you should read The Wind Weeps (which is free to download). Just click on the book cover images on the left sidebar to download.

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Marlie

I’m so thrilled to announce that Marlie is now available as an e-book and within a day or two will be available as a paperback as well.

My fifth novel takes place on the BC coast again. Must be my favourite place to be. As you follow Marlie’s new life on the remote Queen Charlotte Islands, now called Haida Gwaii, you may be surprised to meet some characters you have met before in The Wind Weeps and in Reckoning Tide.

But Marlie’s story is different from the first two in this grouping. She has several adjustments to make in her first months in the islands. Her experiences in the new home she has chosen send her emotions in all directions. She needs to dig deep to draw on her inner strength.

Unlucky in love, Marlie flees a bad relationship. She accepts a teaching job in the remote Queen Charlotte Islands. The beauty of the islands and the rugged challenge of northern living enthrall her. A good-looking artist has his eye on her. The perfect gentleman. Or is he? And what about that handsome fisherman? Is he just a bit too real for her with his hunting and fishing? Just as Marlie hopes that her life has made a turn for the better, disaster strikes. She is shocked to see her life spiraling downwards yet again. How could she have made such an error in judgement—an error that sets more bad luck in motion?

Not willing to lose control, Marlie takes a deep breath and sets out to get her life back on track. But can she do it alone?

Set in the remote islands of coastal British Columbia, Marlie is a heartfelt romance of love and loss and love again.

Experience the fears and joys of northern island living and delight in a second chance at true love.

You can put Marlie on your Kindle by clicking this link:

Paperback version is now available on amazon as well.

For those with e-readers other than Kindle you may find the version you need at smashwords.com

Book cover:

Painting by Jan Brown

Design by Anita B. Carroll

All Love is not Equal

Very often we see a pattern in novels that tell love stories. But besides the usual “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and boy gets girl back,” there are other kinds of love stories and these are the ones I like to create in my novels.

Take a look and consider whether any of these kinds of love have happened to you or someone you know.

We read of unrequited love in the love triangle in Julia’s Violinist. Being “torn between two lovers” is as heartwrenching for the reader as it is for Julia. Add the setting of postwar Europe with events that will have you thinking about them long after you read the book, and you have the ingredients for a worthwhile read.

Another kind of love develops in The Wind Weeps and its sequel, Reckoning Tide. Here we have the misguided love between Andrea and the handsome Robert, whose attentions take an abnormal twist. You’ll find yourself wondering how Andrea ever could have thought this was love. But is love that turns into a manic obsession really love?

Then we have the love that happens by the slimmest of chances. Perhaps it came about because of the alignment of the stars in the sky and the grains of sand on the beach that day, as seems to be the case in Orion’s Gift when Sylvia meets Kevin in a Baja campground. Can such a love, that happens purely by chance, withstand the test of time? Can it survive when their former lovers are on a “search and destroy” mission?

What better time to load up on these love stories than on Valentine’s Day! You’ll be glad you did, once you lose yourself in the lives of Julia, Andrea, and Sylvia, and their significant others.

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You can find my novels on amazon.com (click on link) and other amazon outlets by typing in my name or the titles of my novels.

 Do you have recommendations of novels with unusual love stories? Why not leave a comment and share them?

One of my recommendations for more love stories is the Em and Yves Series by Darlene Jones. Click on the link to see her books on amazon.

Love and Drama

Women love a love story.

Men?

I think men secretly love a love story but they don’t want to let their emotions go all to pieces, at least not so anyone could see. While they wouldn’t be caught dead holding a copy of some romantic novel, they wouldn’t mind watching a movie with drama and a relationship as long as it wasn’t too sappy.

Apricot Nectar

So authors of novels that involve relationships have some options. They can give up on men as readers and write “romance” novels for women. Or, they can write the kind of novel that both men and women can enjoy, with more happening in the novel than simply a love story.

The latter is the kind of novel I prefer to write. I always have relationships going on in my stories, but the background events and locations raise the interest level for all readers.

Let me give you four examples:

One

In my novel, The Wind Weeps, a woman becomes involved with two commercial fishermen. Of course she chooses the wrong man. After that, it’s a matter of her survival. I don’t take the fishermen out of their setting and focus only on the love affairs. The events that influence the development of the story are set in the real working lives of the fishermen. The characters run their trollers, they do some hunting, they do boat maintenance, go mushroom picking, and explore the fabulous coast of British Columbia from Vancouver to the Queen Charlotte Islands. But all this is written to appeal to men as well as women. Romantic attachments develop within this lifestyle. Exciting drama and tense situations keep you turning pages.

Two

My novel Reckoning Tide is the sequel to The Wind Weeps. It is a “must read,” if you enjoyed the free download of The Wind Weeps. I think you will find the continuing adventure and ending of Reckoning Tide very satisfying.

Three

Another love story in a practical, yet exotic setting is Orion’s Gift. Sylvia, a gorgeous California woman,  has received news that prompts her to flee her comfortable home. She goes on an extended trip down the Baja Peninsula. But for the men, who also enjoy real life situations and a love story sneaked in on the sly, I introduce Kevin, owner of an Alberta hardware store. Kevin is a handsome man who has let his wife steamroll over him for years. Events evolve that allow Kevin to escape, and Baja is his destination. When Kevin meets Sylvia, they should live happily ever after, judging by the sparks they send up to the heavens, but their two spouses are hunting them down. Trouble looms.

If you like a good love story with spicy sex, and  a real inside look at dry camping on the Baja Peninsula, Orion’s Gift is the book for you.

Four

And then there is Julia’s Violinist. Born of German heritage, in what was then Austria-Hungary, Julia is an innocent victim of the fallout of two world wars. Julia’s Violinist is not a war story, because, as its author, I dislike war stories. But what I have learned is that when there is major strife in the world, people still  try to continue living their usual lives. The war tears up the very foundations of Julia’s life. Widowed, having lost her home to the spoils of war, she and her two children are rebuilding their lives. Times are hard. Very hard. She remarries, but her husband is a difficult man.

Then one day a letter arrives from Canada. After twenty years, her first love has found her again after searching for her through the Red Cross. “Come to me,” he writes. “Thank God I’ve found you. I still love you after all these years.”

You will love Julia too. I guarantee it.

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All titles available at amazon outlets and at smashwords.com

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The Wind Weeps

Mad Song (excerpt)

by William Blake

The wild winds weep,

And the night is a-cold;

Come hither, Sleep,

And my griefs unfold.

How did Andrea’s life become so hopeless and full of grief that the crying of the wind sounded like it could be the theme music for the movie of her new lot in life?

In a remote cabin on the rugged coast of British Columbia, Andrea, a pretty and vibrant young woman, seeks escape from the man she has married. He was so handsome, persuasive, and charming. He promised to love her forever–and he will–“till death do us part.”

Her friends are far away in the town she and her husband left behind. They haven’t heard from her in a long while…. No Internet, no phone, no mail. They assume she’s happy.

How were they to know? It all seemed so idyllic at first.

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But then, Andrea is too remote for contact with them. Almost forgotten.

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And all the while, she is fighting for her survival against huge odds.

The Wind Weeps

From August 22 until September 4,  over the Labour Day weekend, all my books will be priced at $1.99. Click on the book cover images for Orion’s Gift and Julia’s Violinist for the amazon link.

The Wind Weeps is available at most amazon outlets, including:

amazon.com

amazon.co.uk

If you have an e-reader other than Kindle, you can download The Wind Weeps through smashwords.com. Kobo, or Barnes and Noble.

A Whale of a Tale

Three years ago when I began my other blog http://wordsfromanneli.wordpress.com this was my first post.

A Whale of a Tale

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Feeling sorry for myself, I slumped on an upturned white plastic pail at the back of the salmon troller. Here, I could easily hang my head over the side and wretch if necessary—and it often was. The sky was gray, the sea was gray, the boat was gray and everything, absolutely everything, was in motion. I was wishing my life away, wishing it was any time in the future. Anytime without this dreadful seasickness. Who knew it could be such misery?

Captain Gary, lounged in the wheelhouse, sipping coffee as he steered. He seemed quite at ease with the tossing of the boat. A bit of a break from work.  No need to check the gear. For the time being, it was too rough for fishing. The way we were pitching around, the lures we trolled were most likely doing a spastic underwater dance. Any salmon fooled into taking a bite would have the bait jerked right out of his mouth. I imagined the shiny spoons playing keep-away with the fish.

Anyone who has ever been seasick knows, except for sheer pain, there’s not much that feels worse than nausea. Dying would have felt good if it meant an end to this wretchedness. Is it coincidence that “nausea” begins like “nautical” and ends with “sea”? I wallowed in my misery.

051

And then… a few hundred meters off our port side, a humpback whale jumped completely out of the ocean, turned on its side, and smacked down sending great splashes of water high into the air. I yelled for Gary and stammered excitedly, pointing at the place where the whale had been. He stared at the gray water for a few seconds, said, “That’s nice,” and went back in the wheelhouse.

DSC_1727ed2

Photo courtesy of Ken Thorne

He had barely settled his butt into the captain’s chair when the whale leaped out again. I screamed for Gary, “Quick! Come and look!” He ran out of the wheelhouse and looked — too late — at the spot.

DSC_1726ed

Photo courtesy of Ken Thorne

“It only jumped out two-thirds of the way before splashing down,” I said, by way of consoling him. Back in the wheelhouse, he hadn’t even had time to sit down when I shrieked for him to come see the humpback who had jumped up for a third time.

DSC_1741ed

Photo courtesy of Ken Thorne

What are the chances? This time it only came out about halfway. I guess he was getting tired. Gary, also, came out of the wheelhouse only halfway before dismissing me with a wave of his hand. I guess he was getting tired too. I felt bad that Gary had missed the show, but for me, it was the highlight of the season. For a few magical moments, I had forgotten all about turning myself inside out with dry heaves.

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Photo courtesy of Ken Johnston

Goodbye!

Photo courtesy of Ken Johnston

The humpback seems to be waving to me. “Goodbye!”

***

Note: The photos by Ken Thorne were taken in one of the Pacific Inlets, not out on the open waters, but I wanted to include them to show how humpbacks jump out of the water. Besides, I was too seasick and surprised to take photos of the real humpback in this story.

 

The Turning Points Series – Anneli Purchase

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Most novels have at least one scene that is a turning point in the story. Something changes.  It could be an outer turning point where something happens to change the way the story evolves or an inner turning point where the person’s inner resolve or attitude changes. Maybe this change affects a character so that after this point, nothing will ever be the same for him or her. Some turning points are dramatic; some are more subtle.

In my novel The Wind Weeps, Andrea is pursued by two charming fishermen. She is confused when one of them , Robert, pressures her to rush into marriage, especially when many of her friends try to warn her away from him. She goes to the beach to think and finally makes up her mind to take things more slowly. But just then, Robert appears at the beach with a bouquet of orchids. Here is an excerpt with a subtle turning point:

He was beaming happiness and I stammered as I stalled, dreading having to tell him the wedding was off. And now he’d bought these expensive flowers. I didn’t know how I’d find the courage to let him down gently. Oh, bloody hell! I’m so screwed up.

Jabs of panic churned at my insides. “You – you’ve been to Powell River already? T-today?”

“I had to take care of a few things.” He counted off the tasks on his fingers, like a to-do list. “Got the Justice of the Peace all lined up for us for tomorrow at 4:00 p.m., hotel booked, dinner reservation at the best restaurant in town, flowers for my girl.”

“You’ve already done it all?” No! No! No! I need more time. I need more time. Everything was happening too fast. I wished the gravel on the beach would open up and swallow me. My knees buckled as that sinking feeling became real and Robert was quick to catch me.

“Here. Lean on me.” He put his arm around my waist and pulled me close to him. His big, warm body, so strong, made me feel safe. Robert’s faint manly scent with a hint of lime aftershave drew me in. I reached up to touch his freshly shaved chin, meaning to push him away gently. I would take a moment, catch my breath, find a way to tell him I needed more time.

But Robert took my hand and placed a kiss on the inside of my palm. His lips continued to nibble feathery kisses up the inside of my wrist to my elbow.

“I … ah … Robert … I …” When his lips moved from inside my elbow to my neck, I knew I was in trouble. When he was this close to me, I wanted to believe in him and be his. If he had thrown me down on the beach right there, I would have helped him tear off my clothes.

“Come on down to the Hawkeye,” he said, his voice husky and urgent. He grasped my hand and walked briskly to the wharf. “You can’t imagine how good it is to see you. It’s been a long three months.”

Clutching the orchids in my free hand, and taking two steps for every one of his, I couldn’t manage more than mumbled replies.

Inside the Hawkeye’s wheelhouse, Robert closed the door behind us and latched it. He took the orchids from me and threw them into the sink. His hug almost crushed me, his kisses, as desperate as mine, engulfed me. He whipped my shorts off. His pants dropped and in a second we were in his bunk. He was hard and big. I was small and helpless. I was surprised to find myself so willing, and was ashamed at my weakness, wanting—no, needing—sex like that. I’ll tell him afterwards that I need more time. The logic was so ridiculous, I burst out laughing. Robert stopped cold. “What are you laughing at?” His tone was hard and accusing. He looked so stern it scared me.

“I was thinking we’re doing things backwards; first the honeymoon, then the wedding.” He smiled with relief, but his face was the only part of him that was relaxed. His lovemaking was urgent and insistent, like a man who’d been lost in the wilderness for too long. I tried to give him what he wanted, but with Robert intent on taking, I had to be satisfied with being taken from.

The Wind Weeps

Find out more about my books on my webpage: www.anneli-purchase.com

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