Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Finding Story Ideas

Hi my name is Imari Jade, and I’m a writer. 

Fans often ask me where I get the ideas for my books. I get most of the ideas from things that go on in my everyday life, but most of it comes from paying attention to trends, reading and publishers’ calls for submissions. My kids call me the, anthology queen. My latest release, Bite Me, is a part of Mélange’s Midnight Thirsts Anthology. I believe it’s my eight anthology contribution. So, why do it? The answer is simple, I like to write. Bite Me, is a paranormal vampire tale about a young man named Beck Griffin who moves to New Orleans after his grandmother dies and finally gets to meet his godfather and benefactor, entertainment mogul, Tristan Lamont. It doesn’t take Beck long to find out that life in the Lamont mansion is far from normal. Tristan has a gorgeous blond male chauffer, a handsome male business partner, and Tristan, who should be around the age of Beck’s deceased father, looks closer to Beck’s age. Add the pale white skin, a predominantly night time existence, and the fact that he’s never seen any of them eat food, Beck begins to suspect that he’s living in a den of vampires. Beck can deal with all that, but he can’t deal with the fact that all three of them look at him like he’s a Happy Meal. If you haven’t guessed it yet, Bite Me is an M/M or gay erotic tale and something quite different than my fans are use to me writing about.

Bite Me
by Imari Jade
(GLBS - M/M)


“Good evening, everyone, and welcome to New Orleans, Louisiana. The time is now eight p.m. on this lovely Thursday. The temperature outside is a balmy ninety degrees. We hope you enjoy your stay in the Crescent City and thank you for flying Delta Airlines.”
Beck Griffin unfastened his seatbelt and stretched his arms and back after sitting for a few hours on an airplane from Alexandria, Virginia. He rose, stretching the rest of his lean five feet ten inch frame. First Class or no First Class, sitting for extended periods of time still took a lot out of him. And flying at night was for the birds. He was a day person and usually getting ready for bed or in the studio composing songs, or watching some reality show on television about this time.
He reached up and pulled the elastic band from his hair and the locks cascaded down his shoulders. He pulled it all together neatly and replaced the band. He wanted to make a good first impression and didn’t want anyone to see him with mussed up airplane hair. Beck grabbed his carry-on bag from the overlay and followed the rest of the First Class passengers out of the plane, past the stewardess who had been smiling at him since he boarded the plane. He found his way down the walkway and then into the terminal of the Louis Armstrong Airport.
Beck stepped into the men’s room to empty his bladder, surprised by how neat and clean the place was. After taking care of his need he washed his hands and dried them under the warm air blower. Beck checked out his appearance one last time. He supposed he should have shaved. Tristan, he learned, liked things neat and orderly and probably wouldn’t like the mustache and goatee he’d been attempting to grow since the beginning of his senior year in high school a little over a year ago. Oh, well, tough. He left the men’s room and walked toward the baggage claim to get the rest of his luggage. Hundreds of people in every imaginable race passed him. Several young high school girls dressed in green and white checked uniforms smiled at him as he walked by. Beck smiled back.
Don’t even think about it, a voice said inside his head. Beck looked around, shrugged and made his way to the pickup counter for his two suitcases. The rest of his things had already been shipped and should be waiting from him at Tristan’s place
Tristan Armont, his benefactor, godfather and his father’s best friend had been a part of his life for as long as he could remember. Though he’d never met the man, they had communicated over the years through letters, emails and telephone conversations. Tristan had supported him financially and mentally since the age of one and now he was finally going to get the chance to meet him face to face.
Beck had been raised by his maternal grandmother after his parents died and she told him that Tristan wanted to raise him but she insisted that he stay with her until he was old enough. She rationalized it all by saying that Tristan, being a single man, didn’t have time to change diapers and wipe noses since he had several businesses to manage. Life with his grandmother hadn’t been all bad. She taught him lots of things about life and responsibility, and she could play a good game of chess. The only thing she wouldn’t do was discuss his parents or what happened to them. She mentioned she’d talk to him about them on his eighteenth birthday, but she died a week prior to it.
Tristan couldn’t make it to the funeral but he sent someone to handle everything and to get his grandmother’s affairs in order. He also sent specific instructions that Beck was to close up the house and get to New Orleans as soon as he could.
Beck looked around the crowded terminal for Tristan after he got his luggage…not that he exactly knew what Tristan looked like. His grandmother did mention that he was tall and brooding, whatever the hell that meant. He didn’t see anyone who could fit that description, but he did spot a young man around his age holding up a sign with his name on it. The young man was blond and nice looking, and just a little shorter than him. Beck walked over.
“Master Beck?” the young man asked.
Beck nodded. “And you are?”
“Isaac Winslow, your driver,” the young man answered. “I’m also Master Tristan’s driver.”
Isaac wore a dark blue chauffer’s uniform with a dark blue cap and black shoes. He had a southern accent and a tenor sounding voice. He wore his blond hair short and he had pleasant blue eyes. Skin as pale as talc and long blond lashes added to his good looks. They were around the same build too, but Isaac was slimmer and a little less muscle.
“Please follow me.” Isaac picked up both of Beck’s heavy suitcases like they were feathers and headed out of the terminal.
Beck had to walk fast to keep up with Isaac. “How long have you worked for Mr. Armont?” He’d talked to Tristan thousands of times and he never mentioned that he had such a young driver.
“About a year,” Isaac answered as the doors leading outside opened to allow them to exit.
The heat hit Beck in the face as soon as he stepped out. “Darn, it’s humid,” Beck replied as Isaac led him to a stretch white limousine.
“You’ll get used to it,” Isaac said. He put the luggage in back, closed the trunk and walked around to the passenger door and opened it for Beck.
“Thank you,” Beck said noticing how close Isaac stood by him.
“What are you wearing?” Isaac asked.
“Pardon me?”
“Cologne. What is the name of it?”
“I’m not wearing cologne,” Beck replied.
“Then why do you smell so good?” Isaac asked with a smile.

Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone and take on new challenges. There are a lot of writers out there and I feel if I just stick to one genre I’ll just get sucked up in the forgotten writer’s black hole. I don’t like tags, so I don’t consider myself just a romance writer, I like to think of myself as a multi-genre writer who has published a wide variety of books like paranormal, horror, erotica, gay, yaoi, interracial, contemporary, historical, voyeur and ménage.

I don’t have a problem finding ideas for stories. Sometimes it’s just the opposite. I’ll be in the middle of writing one story and another idea emerges. The ideas just pop into my head when I least expect them, even while I sleep. A good writer learns to keep a notebook and a pen with them at all times. 

In Love with a Dark Stranger, my current full novel release with Melange came to me while I was watching a documentary on grave robbing in Egypt. Archeologist Bethany Dailet is offered a trip of lifetime when she is asked to join her teacher and mentor on an archeological dig in Egypt. Bethany is nearly run over by a rider on horseback while she is walking through a marketplace in Cairo. The rider, she learns, is none other than the bandit Al-Shar Khan whom the police suspect has been vandalizing tombs in the Valley of the Kings. The two cross paths again when two men kidnap Bethany and try to sell the beautiful blonde to Al-Shar, who recognizes her as the woman from the marketplace and who thinks she may be a spy since he does not believe in coincidence. While the American consulate searches for the archeologist, Bethany is trying to figure out a way to escape from Al-Shar’s harem which is watched over by two huge eunuchs and a compound of trained guards. And she doesn’t like the fact that Al-Shar watches her from behind a mask and won’t reveal his identity to her, even though he has expressed an interest in bedding her.

Chapter One 
“Stop them,” someone shouted in broken English.
Bethany looked up just in time to see four men on horseback headed her way. Thinking quickly, she jumped backwards, upsetting a cartload of perfume, and narrowly escaping a group of children as they scurried out of the way. The first two horses, two magnificent beasts neared. Their riders were masked, making identification impossible. She, on the other hand, stood out like a sore thumb in her dark American made pantsuit, sunglasses, and a straw hat. Had it not been for the fact that she needed appropriate climate-friendly clothes, she wouldn’t be caught dead outside in such an outfit. She got up, apologizing to the vendor, just as the two horses approached. The rider on the first horse looked down on her as they rode by. For one fleeting moment, their eyes locked. He winked and then rode off with the other man, leaving behind a mob of angry shoppers, venders and two very slow police officers who gave up the chase.
“Damn bandits,” one of them said as he dismounted and came to her rescue. “Are you injured?” Their uniforms were a khaki colored tunic, pants, and cap. He lowered his gun and put it back in the belt holster. Like most of the men there, he wore a stylish beard and goatee.
“I’m fine,” she assured him, even though she didn’t know how much English he knew. Her Arabic was horrible.
“We are sorry for your inconvenience.”
His English was passable. “Thank you. Who were those men?”
“Common criminals. We have been chasing them for some time now. They rob the tombs of their treasures and sell them for profit.”
Bethany frowned. “Outrageous. I hope you catch them soon. I came all the way to Egypt to see those treasures they are pilfering.”
“Are you here on vacation?”
“No. I’m an archeologist. I’m here to participate in a dig near the Valley of the Kings.”
He smiled. “Welcome to Cairo. I hope you don’t let this incident spoil your visit.”
“Thank you, and no, it won’t.”
The other officer called to him. He bowed and mounted his horse. “Have a pleasant stay.”
Bethany bowed respectfully. “I will.” The two officers rode off, leaving her a bit perplexed about how to make restitution to the perfume vendor.
“It’s okay,” the woman said to her. “Nothing is broken.”
“Thank you. I’m not usually so clumsy.”     
She smiled and waved Bethany on. “A wink from Al-Shar Khan would make me clumsy too.”
“Who is Al-Shar Khan?”
The woman fanned herself with her hand. “Al-Shar Khan is that big strapping fellow that almost ran you over, whose kisses are so passionate that they’ll sweep you off your feet.”
Bethany smirked. The woman sounded like she had firsthand knowledge of the cur, which Bethany doubted since the woman was probably old enough to be her mother. “Thank you,” she said after finally making a purchase. She waved goodbye and walked through the crowded streets of Wekala-Al-Balqa. There were people everywhere hawking their goods in a language completely foreign to her. She had only been in town a couple of days but she had fallen in love with the historical place. Like the United States, Egypt was a mix of cultures…Egyptians, Muslims, Berbers, Bedouins, Nubians, and an American here and there.
Talk about tourist attractions. They were everywhere from the pyramids to the desert. She was only supposed to be there a couple of months and would not get a chance to see it all. But if it was up to her she would never leave. “Kisses that would knock me off my feet,” she repeated as she sat down for a cool drink at a local café. The thought nearly made her swoon. To be kissed senseless by a man was what she always desired, but unfortunately, she never found anyone who cared enough to make her feel special. And Mark was the worse. Funny, it had been five months and the hurt was still deep. This trip to Egypt was meant to put him out of her mind forever. So, she planned to bury herself in her work until he was just a memory. Sudden feeling cool from the fruity orange drink, Bethany rose, grabbed her packages and decided to call an end to her shopping excursion. She had too many packages to walk back to the hotel with, so she did the next best thing…she hailed a taxi.

Sometimes my ideas come from something I’m passionate about, like music.  I’ve written stories just by listening to the chorus in a song or from just one sentence. I’ve been a boy band fan since I was a child, and now I’m found rejuvenation by following some current boy bands from Korea. I have to admit I’ve enjoyed doing the research. There’s nothing like watching hours and hours of handsome young and virile men moving sensually around a stage to get the ideas flowing. It not only keeps me young but keeps my ideas fresh. So far two novels have spawn from this new interest, with the third just days away from being in the publisher’s hands. Cougar tales are hot and fans can’t get enough of them. Who says a woman’s life ends when her children leave the nest? Romance novels are not just for young women any more. 

I’d never hear the term yaoi, until I was asked to participate in an anthology about it. Yaoi is just another term for gay romance, but with a considerable difference. One of the males is almost always the aggressor. He’s bigger, richer, and goes out of his way to woo the younger, smaller male into falling in love with him. Most of it deals with Japanese characters. Since I’ve always been a fan of anime it wasn’t a hard stretch for me to research this topic and fall in love with this genre. In fact, I have to admit that I enjoy writing this more than contemporary M/F romance. But how can a typical girly/girl who isn’t gay write about gay males? Easy, you have to do the research. Love is love and sex is sex no matter who the players are. It’s not for everyone. I had to watch a lot of gay movies and anime to get the hang of things. But what I did discover is that the males get quite passionate in their endeavor to find love and have to go through many obstacles that heterosexual couples do not encounter. The best kissing scenes I’ve ever witnessed was between two males in an anime series entitled Junjo Romantica by Shungiku Nakamura. This has opened new opportunities in writing for me. Yaoi is gay romance written by females and is a new craze among manga fans. Had I shied away or declined the offer for the anthology I would have missed out on all the new fans I’ve made and missed out on a lucrative earning potential.

What advice can I give to new writers? Embrace technology. You’ve got to get a presence with the social Medias like Facebook and Twitter. No one is going to know you unless you put yourself out there. Participate in chats, join author groups and go to conferences. The best advice I can give is just write. I write on the bus to and from work. I write during my breaks. I get up on the weekends at four-thirty and write or answer email or socialize with my fans on Facebook. I don’t go out to clubs with my friends and they know better than to ask me because I’m writing. You have to be disciplined and stay focused, and not be afraid to try new things or be afraid of rejection. I learned early that rejection means, (1) your story is not good enough in the form it is in, which means buy a grammar book, or (2) your story is not right for the publisher…get the publisher’s guidelines first and see what they are inquiring and check the backlist to make sure they haven’t just published something similar. 

My latest release was a 400 page monster that I began writing ten years ago. I saw that baby go from an idea to a five-subject tablet, to a floppy disk, to a zip disk and finally to a flash drive. But it never made it out of my house. I kept editing it and tweaking it and I never thought it was good enough. Over the years I have changed that story so many times, but only because I started reading and writing and improving and then finally I said, its time. So I submitted it and it got accepted in one week. And then a couple of months after several hair-pulling edits with the editor I saw the cover. I started shrieking and doing the Snoopy dance in my office, and I kept thinking had I not submitted it I wouldn’t be feeling this good. I didn’t know a thing about Canada, or the Mounties, but I did watch a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and knew what I wanted the story to be about. After doing the research the book basically wrote itself. It’s bloody, gory, horrifying and romantic, and worth every minute of the stress it caused. The title is Cursed. Look for it if you’re ready for a long and exciting read.

I don’t give advice I don’t follow. I would have offered it to Melange, but I read Mélange’s guidelines first and Cursed is over 100,000 words. They would have probably turned it down, not because it isn’t a good book, but because of its length.

Funny, I had no idea what I wanted to write about for this blog. The idea came to me on Saturday morning at five o’clock. My muse told me; just write about you and some of the things you’ve gone through. New writers take note that we are no different than you are, except we’ve just been doing it longer. No matter what subject, if you want to write about it, write about it. There is someone out there who will eventually love it enough to publish it.

Imari Jade
Romance that leaves you breathless….


Mysti said...

Great advice, Imari. I love to try new things too and hope to branch out with lots of things published in various genres, though I'm sure they'll always have at least a touch of romance :)

Mila Ramos said...

Great advice Imari!! How did you come up on your genres? I would love to know how you got to where you are.