Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Idea Fairy

Dear readers, the Rockville 8 are honored to introduce debut author Jane Sevier. Jane's first book, the award-winning novel, Fortune's Fool is available now and she's here to tell us about The Idea Fairy.


“Where do you get your ideas?” It’s a perpetual question writers are asked, and they smile over it. The Idea Fairy brings them, of course.

If you really think about it, though, that’s not such an outlandish question. It relates to the nature of creativity and how the mind works, which fascinate me. If I ever go back to school, I’d like to study creativity scientifically.

But back to ideas. Sure, people have them all the time. Lots of them are crazy or boring or too hard to carry off. But every now and then, you get a good one. But how do you turn it into a story that people want to read and will connect to?

Take this blog, for example. When the lovely Rockville 8 invited me to join them today, I was thrilled. Then it occurred to me that I needed an idea to blog about that was more than just nattering on about my book, and the terror set in. Fortunately, I had an idea about where to get ideas.

Have you ever tried a logline generator? Loglines are those 25-word-or-less descriptions screenwriters use to pitch their movies. Novelists call them elevator pitches. Here’s mine for Fortune’s Fool: When her husband dies and leaves her penniless, a 1930s Memphis socialite becomes a fortuneteller, only to discover she has the true sight.

Let’s say you decide to write a novel, but you really and truly don’t think you have any ideas. Total. Idea. Block. Never fear! You simply Google “logline generator,” and come up with a site called—what else?—Random Logline Generator! I’ll give it a whirl. On my first try, I get, “A mechanical noodlemaker doesn't get along with the ex-husband of a thief.” I don’t know about y’all, but I find that one a little hard to work with.

I hit the “Generate Random Logline” button again and end up with, “An adolescent interior decorator, a drug addict, and a dyslexic outlaw cook dinner in a whorehouse.” The adolescent interior decorator and the dyslexic outlaw cook are promising, but I don’t want to write about drug addicts.

I’ll give it one more spin. “A car salesman and a team of yodeling criminals find a lost gorilla.” Now, that’s what I’m talking about. Who can resist a good car salesman story? And I can think of all kinds of scenarios with yodeling criminals and gorillas. What if the gorilla could also yodel?

The point is not that a logline generator will give you a story you actually want to tell, although it might. But it will make you think about possibilities, and that’s where good ideas come from. If I’m having a slow writing morning, I sometimes go to the Random Logline Generator! to get my brain cooking. The hard part is stopping after 2 or 3 or 70—the silly thing is highly entertaining.

So, where did the idea for Fortune’s Fool come from? I was in the Westlake Barnes and Noble in Austin, Texas, where three mystery writers were doing a reading. Louisiana author Deborah LeBlanc was a few paragraphs into a scene at a voodoo ceremony—alas, I can’t remember which book—when I thought, “What would it be like to discover that you have the true sight?” I dug out the little notebook I carry for writing down ideas and scribbled, “Woman who finds herself down and out and decides to become a psychic, only to discover that she has ‘the sight.’ Uses her grandmother’s tarot deck. Or the mojo sack that brought her parents together. Grandmother met grandfather playing piano in Mineral Wells.”

You see where I really got my logline. Except the piano playing in Mineral Wells, all of these elements ended up in the book. Members of my extended family will recognize the bit about the mojo sack. Perhaps because I am so Southern and know hundreds of my cousins of all degrees, most of whom are natural storytellers, lots of family lore figures in what I write.

Then, of course, I had to decide where to set Fortune’s Fool. I wanted to tell a Southern story and didn’t want to make it modern-day. Because it has always had a fascinating cultural history, I have lots of family there, and I like to eat ribs at the Rendezvous, I chose Memphis. I love the ’30s and ’40s with those wonderful movies and style. A little research told me that in the 1930s, Memphis was the murder capital of the United States, and, voilĂ . I had my setting.

So you see, Virginia, there really is an Idea Fairy. You just have to trust her to find you.

To find out more about Nell Marchand and the cast of characters who will populate the Psychic Socialite series, visit me at


  1. Good morning, and congrats on your release! What a stunning cover. I had no idea about the random logline generator...what a fun way to spend "plotting" time. :) Great post!

  2. Enjoyed your post today. Congratulations on your book!

    Lisa Mondello

  3. Oh, I love it, but don't call me Virginia :) Jane, terrific first blog and I'm going to try your random idea generator. Watch out Internet, you just might explode. Seriously, I'm thrilled about your release of Fortune's Fool. I had the opportunity to read it in the Daphne and was wowed at the depth of your writing. Obviously the screenwriting community agrees. I expect wonderful things from Jane Sevier! Well done.

  4. Jane,

    What a great idea for a post. Love how you got your idea for Fortune's Fool. If we listen, they will come! :) Thanks for the tip about the random logline generator site. Beautiful cover! Congrats on the release of your book!


  5. Thank you for the good wishes, Gillian, Lisa, Donnell, and Joy!

    The Random Logline Generator! might one day yield a useable idea. It hasn't yet, but it is a total hoot. Be careful, though, y'all, because it's addictive.

  6. Jane,

    Thanks for hanging out with us here at The Eight. Many congrats on your debut release! With that logline generator behind you, plus your own individual twist on ideas, I'm sure this one will be the first of many!

    (And I'm gonna have to give that generator a shot. Looks like fun!)

  7. Hi, Nichole! Y'all are mighty sweet to invite me today.

    I'm already fiddling with the idea for Book 2 in the Psychic Socialite series, so stay tuned.

  8. JANE!! Love the post!!! And you're right - the most random piece of flotsom can waft past a creative person's eyes, through their brain or into their ears and presto-change-o, inspiration strikes again. And when we're out of our own ideas, the log-line-o-meter is there to spark new flames. I love it. Welcome to the R8, my friend. So glad about your release, so excited to read it!!

  9. Congrats on the release! I absolutely LOVE the cover. Can't wait to read it. Got it on my TBR list.
    Wishing you many, many sales.
    PS- the Logline generator is fun (and a little addicting) LOL

  10. What a fantastic idea for Fortune's Fool. I'm really looking forward to reading it.

    I usually find the best ideas are the ones that keep me asking, "How would that work exactly?"

    Great post. It's good to see you at the Rockville 8.

  11. Oh, no. The Idea Fairy is real?!?! Nuts. I thought that was a sparkly mosquito. I smashed it with my hardback copy of Breaking Dawn (not a great read; excellent bug killer). Damn. Maybe if I clap my hands... *ggl*

    Jane, I'm so thrilled to have Fortune's Fool waiting for me in my Amazon queue! In fact, why am I reading this blog when I could be reading your awesome book?
    (and best of luck! wishing you much success!)

  12. Keely, that's what facinates me so--that anything, literally ANYTHING, can grow and transmute into something new. Thank you for having me on R8.

    Jennifer, I hope you enjoy FORTUNE'S FOOL. I loved writing it and can't wait to find out what happens to Nell et al next.

    That's exactly right, Clarissa. If you hit, "That won't work," keep fiddling until you discover how it can.

    LOL, Jen! Maybe if you really, REEAALLY believe, the Idea Fairy will come back. Thanks so much for getting FOOL. Let me know what you think.

    Thanks, Unsinkables, for stopping by.

  13. Some of those random log lines are hilarious. One of my favs based on six or seven clicks:

    A game show host and five Amish bartenders go on a quest to destroy an evil ring in a grocery store.

  14. Oh, Maureen, that is one of the best ones yet! I can actually see it as a movie. Now, who should we cast as the Amish bartenders?

    Thank you for coming by.

  15. So happy to have you here, Jane! I'm trying to think of good Amish bartenders. Of course you'd have to go against type. So I keep coming up with bad boys. :-)

  16. Love the Random Logline Generator! Awesome. Great post, Jane. Congratulations on your new release. We expect to see more great things from you as the Idea Fairy continues to find you and inspire you!

  17. Evie, I'm thinking Daniel Craig, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Daniel Henney, and . . . who else?

    Candy, I hope I stay in the Idea Fairy's good graces. I have a whole series to write!

    Thanks again, y'all, for having me at R8. It has been fun.

  18. Madam, At the risk of arguing with a lady (and a very talented lady) I must humbly note (in the literary sense) that the company of a bold and dashing swain such as Yours Ever Truly has been known to inpsire the occasional author to feats of greatness.

    Lord Valentine Windham, late of Regency England (and always in the affections of my baronness)

  19. I have no doubt that is so, my dear Lord Windham. May such a swain inspire me thus one day.

  20. Welcome to the Rockville 8, Jane!! I love talking about creativity and how ideas are formed.

    I can't wait to try the Random Logline Generator. I can see my family needing to have an intervention in the future to get me off of it.

  21. Hi, Lisa! I've sure enjoyed being here.

    Believe me, I could spend days delving into creativity. And days playing with the generator if I let myself.

  22. I'm late to the party, Jane, but I love your blog! I haven't used the Random Logline Generator yet, but it sounds like fun and a good stretch for the imagination!

    Congrats again on the release of FORTUNE'S FOOL!

    Nancy Haddock

  23. If you are late, Nancy, you're fashionably so, as befits a glamorous woman. We're glad to see you, and I'm happy you enjoyed the blog.

    Thank you!

  24. Congrats on the release Jane. It sounds like a wonderful book and I love the cover and the era. Thanks to you I plan to waste, er, I mean I plan to spark my creativity by playing with the log line generator.

  25. Fortune's Fool is on/in my Kindle, Jane, and I can't wait to read it. Ooh, the Random Logline Generator sounds like fun. Speaking of which, how about Brad Pitt as the fifth Amish bartender?

  26. Linda, I figure if it sparks creativity, the generator is a good use of our time. Thanks for the good words about FORTUNE'S FOOL and the cover. And thank you for stopping by.

  27. Pat, I considered Brad Pitt as the fifth. Now I'm thinking Gerard Butler, especially if he keeps that delicious Scotts accent. I've been in love with Gerard ever since I first saw him in "Dracula 2000."

    Thank you for coming by. Can't wait to hear how you enjoy FOOL.