Thursday, January 10, 2013

WHERE DO YOU GET STORY IDEAS?


By Guest Lynn Cahoon

When I started writing, I signed up for classes at my local university in the MFA, Creative Writing program.  A homework assignment for my course in creative non-fiction led me to a small mining town thirty minutes from my home.

With the Civil War raging in the east, gold was discovered the Idaho mountains. In December of 1862, Bannock, now known as Idaho City, was founded. Towns sprung up almost overnight during this rush.  (Think Paint Your Wagon.) At its heyday, Idaho City had over 250 businesses, and was the largest city in the Northwest, surpassing Portland, Oregon.

Bannock, Idaho, now known as Idaho City

 But as the gold dwindled and the wooden structures were destroyed by a series of fires, the capital moved to Boise, a town deep in what’s now the Boise National Forest.  Today, the town is a thriving tourist spot with several of the original buildings still intact, and some repurposed for other usages.

When I walked down the dirt streets, a sense of history overwhelmed me, and the writer's mind started wondering , what if…


My wanderings took me up to the Pioneer Cemetery.  The cemetery was established in 1863, a must for this dangerous town.  Out of the first 200 graves, only 20 people died of natural causes.


It’s estimated that over 2000 graves exist in the cemetery, but as I walked through the tree-lined paths, I found Mary’s grave. Covered with a full granite grave cover, her husband had carved a poem telling her how much she would be missed and that he’d meet her in heaven.  The romance writer in me took that poem, and started researching the other Mary, as I called her.

Mary Pinney's grave

Her husband, James Pinney, went on to become a mayor of Boise (the capital city) and remarried a woman also named Mary. I always wondered if he remembered his first Mary and the lovely promise he’d put in stone on her grave.  A promise to meet her in the next life.

When I turned in that story for my professor, she said she loved the story, but she felt like there was too much fiction in the recounting of Mary’s untimely death, which I chose to focus on for the assignment. No, I didn’t know if she died in childbirth, like I’d written, but many women did. And I could see her, trying to make it to her husband’s office where he ran a small store and post office for the town. I imagined her peeking into the high windows of the Masonic Hall, trying to see what the men did when they met.  The Grand Lodge #1 was started in this small town in 1867.

Boise Grand Lodge #1, Masonic Hall

So, I learned a lot about the town of Idaho City through my research, but I learned more about my style of storytelling. I want to know the everyday stories, not only the history.  And if my truth gets surrounded by a little creative fiction, so much the better
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My current release, The Bull Rider’s Manager is a contemporary set in my hometown of Boise, with a side trip to Vegas.


Barb Carico’s all about business.  Now that her best friend tied the knot with Barb’s new business partner, she’s busier than ever. Managing Jesse Sullivan’s career and public persona can be a handful. Add in an aging mother who goes through home health nurses like candy, Barb’s hanging on the edge.

Her one salvation?  Hunter Martin, prodigal son of Martin Family Dairy and, hopefully, Jesse’s next sponsor. After his brother’s death, Hunter becomes an instant dad to his seven-year-old niece.  For Hunter, the rodeo weekend with Barb is the perfect excuse to relax.

When their dinner turns into a quick trip to a Vegas wedding chapel, both Barb and Hunter agree their nuptials were a mistake. Barb doesn't know anything about being a wife or mother, but she needs one favor.  A favor she'll trade her lifestyle, independence, and even risk her heart to make come true.


Lynn Cahoon, Author

Lynn Cahoon is a contemporary romance author with a love of hot, sexy men, real and imagined. Her alpha heroes range from rogue witch hunters to modern cowboys. And her heroines all have one thing in common, their strong need for independence. Or at least that’s what they think they want.  She blogs at her website, A Fairy Tale Life. www.lynncahoon.wordpress.com

Buy link - http://www.amazon.com/The-Bull-Riders-Manager-ebook/dp/B009VLZHVQ

Sources:
http://www.idahocityhistoriclodge.com
http://www.idahocityevents.org

13 comments:

  1. Hi Sweethearts! Thanks for having me here today. I loved going back home and sharing a touch of Idaho history with you. With a touch of fiction, of course.

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  2. It's amazing how one idea leads to another. Great article, Lynn!

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  3. Lyn, welcome to Sweethearts. Loved your post. I hope to visit Idaho someday soon.

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  4. Hi Lynn, it's so nice to have you visiting with us today. I used to belong to the local historical cemetary commission and loved reading the gravestones and trying to learn what happened to the people buried there.

    Your story sounds great. We love history around here and it seems you do to. :)

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  5. Lynn, great post. I too love poking around old graveyards. Thank you for a glimpse into your creative process!

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  6. Welcome, Lynn, to the Sweethearts. The story of Mary is fascinating. Often, our lives take directions we didn't even know about, like yours did with the Mary story. You are a born fiction writer, sounds like.
    Old cemeteries have been a source of history and research for our family--my two sisters have poked around many cemeteries to find our lost ancestors. I trailed along with them a few times, more interested in the lives of those who lay beneath the stones, rather than where one of my ancestors were.
    I enjoyed the story on Bannock, too. I've not been to Idaho, but all around--close. It was a true wild west place.
    Thanks for visiting with us today, and good luck with your writing and releases.

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  7. Thanks for stopping in Kay and Deborah!

    Caroline, Idaho is beautiful. I miss it.

    Hi Paisley, my new home town has a bit of history too. I'm over on the Mississippi river near St. Louis, so I do a lot of grave site walking here too.

    Celia, I love the other Mary's story. Idaho City is a great place to visit. Very rustic and entertaining.

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  8. I love hearing your mining stories, Lynn! Thank you!
    -R.T. Wolfe

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  9. Thanks for visiting Diane and RT!

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  10. I've always believed History is the best source for inspiration in writing.

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  11. oh, I am a sucker for old cemeteries. It's so nice to have you here today and get to know you and your book better! Mary's story is intriguing for sure.

    I visited Boise on a trip to Albertson College when I was a counselor. Loved it even though I didn't get to see much during my brief stay.

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  12. Al - I so agree. I visited our local art museum today and fell in love with more story ideas.

    Tanya - Albertson's (or College of Idaho - as the residents still call it) is a beautiful campus and a great school. I attended the public (and cheaper) BSU.

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