Guest blogger: MJ Flournoy
Where’d that idea come from, anyway?
How do you come up with the ideas for your stories? That is a familiar question I often hear and the answer is different for each story. One of my favourite methods for finding story starters is watching the headlines and then asking what if or why not? Have you ever read or watched a news story and were just completely disappointed by the outcome? Yes, we have all been there. That is where being a writer takes over. We rewrite the story and change the outcome to something more satisfying. Yes, I know, if only life were that easy. But I write fiction and in doing so I get to make sure the bad guy gets his and the good guy or gal gets theirs.
The idea for A Matter of Trust grew from a real news story that aired. A woman on her way to Florida stopped at a convenience store. There she encountered a child with a man, something just didn’t feel right about the pair, so she called 911. Because this woman listened to her inner voice, a child was rescued. I read about it and the what if factor kicked in and A Matter of Trust took shape.
Being a teacher I was very familiar with that inner voice that whispers softly when something isn’t quite right. Often I listened to my own inner voice and as a result was better able to help my students. I often wished I had some special ability that would allow me to know when a child needed my help, but of course in the real world things like that aren’t there. That’s what I love about writing. When I write, I can give my characters special abilities or talents. And that is how the Maniac was born. My character, Jolie Wyngate, is a teacher with a special gift, which she tries to keep secret. But when it comes down to keeping her secret or protecting a child, the kid always come first. Then there is the Maniac she has to deal with constantly. The Maniac is a main character in the book even though she doesn’t have a body, but exists only in Jolie’s mind. Or at least that’s what Jolie assumes. The Maniac is the source of some of the special bits of info that often leads to Jolie getting into hot water. A teacher with psychic ability who knows things she shouldn’t definitely isn’t someone the school board welcomes.
So for this story, A Matter of Trust, I took a story from the headlines and gave it my own twist. Jolie and the Maniac took the bare bones of the outline and made the story their own.
Another way I often get story ideas is from dreams. Have you ever had a dream so real that it felt like you were watching a movie? Have you found yourself waking to realise you just had to write down the amazing things you’d just witnessed? I really love getting ideas from dreams because in a dream, the internal editor that nay-says all my ideas is turned off. I try to write down these ideas as soon as I wake, because unfortunately, the details are fleeting. The further away from the dream, the dimmer the details become and soon they fade completely.
Most of my stories have elements of paranormal in them. Actually, paranormal is more normal for me than what most people think of as normal. I’ve lived in several houses that most people would call haunted. I often include elements that I’ve experienced in my stories. During the 1970s I lived in a house where 40s crooning love songs played softly in the background during the night. I recognised the music because that was my parent’s era and they played the songs often. Needless to say I blasted 70s music on my radio all night because if I were going to listen to music, I’d prefer it be from my own time period. This particular house had several other anomalies, but I’ll save those for another time.
I am currently writing about fairies and dragons, neither of which I know anything about. So, even though I’ve lived in houses with spirits and had warnings that saved my life a couple times, I have never encounter fairies or dragons. I would say I wish I could, but as I once told my daughter-in-law, be careful what you wish for …
MJ Flournoy loves crafting stories of romance and suspense, most of the time elements of the paranormal find their way into her work. Although she is currently working on a romantic suspense, sans paranormal at an editors request. Her interest in writing grew organically from her love of reading. A late bloomer, MJ attended college as a non-traditional student and earned a degree in history with an eye toward writing historical romance.
After graduation from college, MJ became a middle school teacher which helps to keep her grounded in the real world while her plots take her away to the extraordinary worlds of imagination and creativity. MJ enjoys adding a twist of paranormal to her plots.
MJ makes her home in rural Georgia with her husband and one neurotic cat. She has two children and two granddaughters. Her favorite activities are writing, reading, and travel.
A Matter of Trust
Jolie’s paranormal abilities had always caused her grief. But can they save the life of a child who has been spirited away from her parents and the life of the man she loves?
Jolie Wyngate is a middle school teacher with an extraordinary gift—or is it a curse? Throughout her life, she’s been never been sure. Now, when she is implicated in the disappearance of a child, the ultimate value of her powers will be put to the test.
Mac Carlson, former Navy SEAL and security expert, is tasked with rescuing the girl, Rachael Anne. From the moment he meets Jolie, his suspicious and protective nature sets its sights on her as a prime suspect. Can Jolie clear her name and gain this man’s hard-won trust?
More importantly, can she save the girl before time runs out? She won’t be able to do it without her psychic abilities—but Mac has a hard enough time trusting Jolie as it is, let alone trusting her powers to lead them to Rachael Anne.
As Mac and Jolie realize they have no choice but to work as a team—and as they slowly warm to each other in the process—they realize they have a new problem: the man they are after has set his sights on Jolie. Now Jolie will need all of her abilities, and all of Mac’s strength and skill, to stay out of the fiend’s hands and bring Rachael Anne back home.