#FiftyShades of Reality – Part 2

That movie just opened last week and it’s still everywhere – on blogs, on Facebook, on TV, and on the tongues of women everywhere. I just watched a short trailer, and the scene showed the two characters sitting at a long dining room table, one at each end. That got me to thinking about reality vs. TV.

When I got married, I had all sorts of ideas about what married life would be like. It was all romanticized, influenced by movies and TV and books. Even though marriage hasn’t been exactly what I imagined, I’m quite happy with the reality:


Gracie & Peanut

We sleep in a king-sized bed, but with a miniature Beagle and a miniature Schnauzer wedged between us.

No long dining room table for us – we eat in the living room on our coffee table. At least it’s one of those that swings up to table height.

No gourmet meals at our house. Most nights it’s soup out of a can or grilled cheese because we’re both tired from work.

Jetting off to an exotic location isn’t in the cards, but we did spend Valentine’s Day browsing a really cool antique mall.

While TV romancers send huge bouquets of flowers for Valentine’s Day, my hubby surprised me with a drawer to hold K-cups – and my Keurig sits right on top, so there’s no lost counter space. THAT was a perfect Valentine’s Day. For me.

As I read back over this list, I realize just how lucky I am. This marriage thing may not be straight out of a romantic movie, but it makes me incredibly happy.

How about you? How different is your life than what you imagined?

#howtowrite: Mining Ideas


A frequent question I get is “Where do you get your ideas?”

My answer is simple. Everywhere. Look around you. Listen. Read. I’ve got several novels drafted – here’s how I’ve done it.


Denim & Diamonds by Lori Robinett

Denim & Diamonds is my first novel. The story began to germinate when I worked at a law firm. A client came in, needing an estate plan. She had several horses that she cared about deeply. They were her primary concern. She wanted to know how she could structure her estate so that her little farm would be taken care of. That got me to thinking . . . and the Diamond J was born.

Widow’s Web/Fatal Impulse (my next novel . . . hopefully to be released in 2015) was inspired by a story I heard when I was 10 years old. My family vacationed in Colorado, near Salida. At some point, Mom talked to a local about the mountain roads, the steep drop-offs, the dangers of driving. I remember a woman telling a story about a car that went off Highway 50, somewhere near Monarch Pass. The woman said the woman’s body wasn’t recovered until the next summer because the ravine was so steep and rugged that it was too dangerous for rescue crews to go down. The car was left there, a mangled mass of steel. The idea of someplace being so rugged that a body couldn’t be recovered stuck with me. I thought, what a great way to get rid of a body! (yes, even at 10, I thought that way – is it any wonder that I devoured Stephen King novels in my early teens?)

Alien Threat (still in draft form) was inspired by conspiracy websites that picked up a local news story several years ago when a local research scientist was killed. Apparently there have been a lot of scientists killed in unusual ways. Too much to be coincidence? Not in my novel.

If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, there are several resources you can mine for inspiration:

  • Read the news (especially a couple of pages back in a newspaper)
  • Pick up a book and turn to the 3rd page and read a line, then turn to the 30th page and read a line
  • Think of a book you like, then imagine that story line in a different genre (what if Harry Potter was written as a romance?)
  • Think of two movies you like, and imagine them in a mashup (Harry Potter meets Rocky)

When you come across ideas like that, find a way to record them:

  • Keep an idea journal.
  • Jot ideas on scraps of paper and drop them in a jar.
  • Write the idea on a sticky note and stick it to your wall.
  • Write your idea on an index card and keep it in a card file box.

So . . . where do you get your ideas? When you get an idea, how do you remember it?


Strong Women: When Your #Baby is a #Preemie

Mom 001You may already know that my youngest has had some health issues. What you may not know is that before she came along, I was weak. I passed out when the nurse pricked my finger when I went in for my first prenatal appointment. I couldn’t stay in the same room when the vet examined my kitten. The thought of going through childbirth terrified me. I worried about everything – the pain, what life would be like, if I could handle being a mom.

Then, on June 22, 1995, I left my doctor’s office, drove myself to the hospital and 15 minutes later, my kiddo was born by emergency C-section. She had her first heart surgery when she was a day old, her first brain surgery when she was three weeks old, and another when she was three months old. Pretty rough stuff for a 2 lb 7 oz infant. I was in pretty rough shape, too. During my stay at the hospital (part of it in ICU myself), I was poked, prodded, and so much blood was drawn, it really didn’t bother me anymore. Our tiny baby spent three months in the NICU. During that time, I discovered that I was so much stronger than I ever dreamed. Suddenly, the little stuff didn’t matter as much. I shifted into survival mode.

But the moment I realized how strong I was was when my kiddo needed surgery at 2 1/2 years old. Her shunt failed. She needed a new valve and catheter into her brain. The surgery went well and she was released the same day. We took our little girl home with a c-shaped scar on her head, thankful for the good docs at the University of Missouri. A week or so later, I sat in the neurosurgeon’s office with her in my lap as the doctor pulled staples out of her head (you know, what he used looked a lot like what I use to pull big staples out at the office . . . ).

If anyone had told me that I’d be able to do that a few years before, I would’ve shaken my head and declared confidently, “No way!”

She needed another surgery when she was 11, and just last month, she needed another. This most recent one was difficult for different reasons. My kiddo is now living on her own, an adult. Yet, it was just as hard to watch them take her away to the O.R. as it was all the other times. I still waited anxiously to see her after it was over. This time she didn’t want me to stay the night with her, she wanted her boyfriend. Though that hurt my feelings, I left them together at the hospital, glad that I’ve raised a daughter who is strong enough to deal with her health issues.

The obstacles that life throws at you make you stronger. I tried to incorporate that in my book, Denim & Diamonds. I wanted Beth to start off unsure of herself, and wanted her to grow throughout the story – to find strength that she didn’t know she had.

Tell me about your strength. When did you discover you are stronger than you thought?