When I started out today, I had no idea what I wanted to blog about! So I hit my bookshelf in my office looking for ideas and WA-LA, I realized that my BOOKS were the blog! Often times, I scrounge around the bookstore shelves looking for that one “bargain” book that I might use for a story. I hit garage sales, when I have time, (not so often lately) and check out the used book section in my public library. Often, friends give me books and I do appreciate their understanding that in order to write a good book, a writer needs to to spark their creative juices. That’s a whole nuther blog folks. Today, I’m sticking to the subject!
The whole world is our writing oyster, to tweak a well-known phrase a little. We never know when or where we’ll use the knowledge gained in those books we keep on our shelves. Sometimes, it’s hit or miss. Sometimes, we use a book over and over and other times, we may use it once or not at all.
So I perused my bookshelf and found some fun things I’ve purchased over the years. For instance, I have a book from the Whodunit series, called Deadly Doses – a writer’s guide to poisons. Wonderful! I remember finding a way a villain could knock off my hero in Chase Wheeler’s Woman, a Harlequin Historical from early in my career. The method was simple with ingredients that are easily accessable in today’s world. I thought and thought about this. Then I realized I couldn’t in all conscience, put that deathly method into my story! I know, I know … but I just couldn’t spell it out in such specific terms. It was too easy for someone to do … so I used vague terms and the end result was the same. The hero drank the poisoned tea and almost died without me revealing the details. But at least, MY conscience was clear! I don’t know how mystery and thriller writers do it. Maybe that’s why I write romance. 🙂
I continued perusing my shelves and came up with LOVE TYPES by Dr. Alexader Avila. He gave a very insightful lecture at my chapter meeting and of course, I bought his book. This book claims that by using his LoveType tm, system, you can instantly help identify your soulmate when you meet him or her. It’s really quite fascinating and the first chapters delve into you first, Unmasking Yourself. There’s even this nifty quiz that helps you decide who you are. Then in later chapters, the author describes how to identify your soulmate from the list that includes, The Meaning Seekers, The Knowledge Seekers, The Security Seekers and The Excitement Seekers. Each of these are broken down some more into subcategories. For instance, under The Excitement Seekers, you’d find, The Gentle Artist, The Craftsperson, The Performer and the Wheeler-Dealer. There are 16 love types in all. I thought that I’d really use this book, with hopes of helping with characterizations and internal conflicts. But no. I’ve had the book 5 years at least, and the cover appears untouched. It’s in excellent condition, because I MAY have referred to it once. But that’s all. That’s not to say that I WON’T at some time in my writing life. So the book stays.
Many years ago I picked up a book at the Used Book section of the library, called A Veterinary Guide for Animal Owners. It sat and sat on my bookshelf and I knew that book would come in very handy one day. That day didn’t come far into the future because, you see, I had always wanted to use that book, somehow. And then it hit me … I’d write a romance about a female veterinarian in present day. Like Lightning became my 3rd Desire about a female vet whose office burns down and she takes up residence at our hero’s ranch to continue her practice. From there, it was a no-brainer. I had this great book that spoke of rural animal ailments and how to cure them. The research was built-in, pictures and all. And since then, I’ve used the info from that book many times in my westerns as well as my contemporaries. It was a gold mine of a book and it cost me $0.00 That’s right. The book was on the Free Shelf in the library. Don’t you just love it!
Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird is a keeper. There’s nothing like it to boost up your creativy. And then there’s Poker Champion Doyle Brunson’s book teaching me the fast strategies of Texas Hold Em. More than one of my contemporary heroes has played the game, so I needed to brush up on my poker skills.
The Cowboy Dictionary is a book I refer to with every historical I write. Where else could I learn that “huggin rawhide” means sticking to the saddle while riding a bucking horse or that a “huckydummy ” is a cowboy’s term for a baking powder biscuit with raisins or a “door knob” is a cowboy’s term for a young boy who still has some growing to do. The Best Name Baby Book I found at a used book sale and it’s my savior. Whenever I start a new story, I search through those names to find the perfect name for my hero and heroine, and sometimes, even my secondary characters.
So I ask you … if a stranger walked into my office and took note of these books, would he know I write romances? I think not. Our sources for information are as varied as the books we write! And my next question is – like the Capital One commercial, what’s in your wallet, I’m asking “What’s on your bookshelf?” Share with us the weirdest book you have on your shelf and how it came to be there.
Available today on Eharlequin and bookstores in March.
Happy Trails and Happy Reading!