Guest Author – Elisabeth Naughton

Elisabeth_NaughtonThanks so much to the Ruby Slippered Sisters for having me here today! For those of you who don’t know me, I write romantic adventure and paranormal novels and was a 2007 GH finalist in RS. My GH finaling manuscript – STOLEN FURY – went on to sell in 2008 and was released just a year ago in January 2009. Since then I’ve had three books release and have two more scheduled later this year.

Being busy is a blessing (especially in this economy) but it’s created logistical problems for me. My husband works from home and we have three young kids. The one office we have (hubby’s) is off our bonus room and gets loud when the kids are home. And the more I write and promo and release, the more space I need for…stuff.

We’re getting cramped in our suburban home, so we’ve started house shopping and though we haven’t been totally serious yet, we’re getting there (me, probably faster than anyone else). Friday, after a “scouting trip”, the DH and I found a house that looked like it was abandoned, and I called my realtor to ask her what she knew about it.

Now let me preface this by saying the house sits in a gorgeous neighborhood filled with million dollar homes. 2.6 acres, on a hill, phenomenal view of the valley below. It’s really paradise. The realtor told us the house was in foreclosure and that it’s currently bank owned, but not on the market yet. That piqued our interest because this type of home would normally be out of our price range, but in today’s economy, there are some AWESOME real estate deals out there if you can find them. So yesterday we stopped and peeked in the windows.

OMG, my jaw hit the floor when I looked in the house. The entire inside is gutted. As in, drywall missing, floor GONE, cabinets ripped off the walls. Wiring is exposed, the kitchen is demolished, subflooring is all you can see. My first reaction was, Holy crap. What the hell happened here? It literally looked like a bomb went off inside. Then my writer’s mind kicked into gear.

I envisioned an angry home owner, in the clutches of foreclosure. This was his dream home. He tried to salvage it but couldn’t. In a violent rage, he slashed up walls, demolished the kitchen, shattered the expensive tile work so that the bank – those greedy misers – couldn’t have it. Corporate America might be able to steal his home, but not his dream and he’ll take down anyone who tries to get near it.

Now enter a young couple. The guy grew up around construction (lucky, huh?). He takes one look at the place and says, “This is all cosmetic. I can totally fix that. This house is a steal.” They buy it. Start working. Move in. Think they’ve found heaven. Little do they know, the vengeful previous owner is hiding in the shadows. Watching. Waiting. Planning his ultimate revenge…

Yeah. This is where I think I scared myself out of buying this house. On the drive home the hubby said to me (full of excitement), “Are you thinking about the house?” My glassy-eyed response? “Um. Yeah. Sorta.”

STOLEN SEDUCTION 400x600People ask writers all the time where they get their ideas. For me, ideas come from the tiniest sparks, like this. Would I write this book? I don’t know. I’d probably have to kill off the husband, throw in a hot neighbor hero (hey, I write romance after all), get rid of the kids (‘cause you know, they get in the way of all that romance) and figure out a villain motivation more exciting than revenge. (Ooh…some kind of buried treasure? A missing relic? The secret formula for the cure of cancer? Ideas are popping…) I’d then have to figure out a way to put the whole thing in my genre brand – either romantic adventure or paranormal – and that would be hard, but not impossible. So, as far as writing goes, I’ll never say never. But the possibilities? Yeah, those are totally exciting. And they’re what I love most about my chosen profession.

I have no idea what will happen with the house. I do want to get inside and take a look. My writer brain just isn’t going to stop until I see it for myself. And as I can hear my almost-five year old screaming from the other room right now, I definitely DO need a quieter place to work. A lot will depend on what we learn from the bank this week, but one thing’s for certain…at least I’ve got a new idea out of this whole process if nothing else.

How about you? Where do you get your ideas? I’d love to know what spark ignited the book you’re working on now and if your original vision is anything like what it’s turned out to be.

In honor of the release of my current romantic suspense – STOLEN SEDUCTION – I’ve got a copy of book 1 in the trilogy – STOLEN FURY – to give away to a lucky commenter today. Just answer the question above. And if you want to learn more about me and my books, visit me on the web at

54 responses to “Guest Author – Elisabeth Naughton”

  1. Joan Swan says:

    Hi E,

    Thanks for coming by! And thanks for the contest too — awesome book. Since I already have it (of course), I won’t be greedy and enter the contest.

    You and your houses! It definitely sounds strange. I was thinking of a body buried underneath the house (probably the bank manager who foreclosed) and the prior owner committed suicide and haunts the house so that anyone who moves in would be miserable.

    Like you, my ideas start as kernels. Usually with a character situation or a conflict. Rarely with plot, as I try to let my plot develop organically from the characters.

    Can’t wait to hear who the lucky winner of your book is!


    • Thanks so much for inviting me, Joan! (J and I are CPs, for those who don’t know. And I owe all my publishing success to this woman!)

      LOL about the banker buried under the house. That is SO you! And the fact you’re thinking in ghosts tells me I’ve dragged you over to the paranormal side.

  2. Katrina says:

    Hi Elizabeth. Thanks for stopping by. The house sounds amazing!

    I think my worst ideas come when I try to force them. “Forcing” seems to mean any time I sit down and think, “Okay, I need to generate some ideas.”

    My best ideas start as sparks, like yours. Usually when I’m trying to fall asleep, and almost always on a work night – leaving me exhausted for the next day. Sometimes it’s just a conversation that pops into my head and I think, “Who are these characters?” Other times, it’s a memory. The ms I’m working on now came to me this way and kept me up all night the first night, and it was just because I remembered the stress I felt as a kid when I visited my Uncle and Aunt’s house in a small mountain town. There was so much conflict in that town (not the guns and knives variety, but the racism and bored-teenager variety).

    Anyway, it’s so nice to see a GH finalist getting her career launched. Best of luck to you!

    • Thanks for the congrats, Katrina! It’s fun to be here with other GHers talking writing.

      I’m with you on the bad ideas coming when we force them. Whenever I get stuck in a ms, I know it’s because I’ve either tried to force something or I haven’t listened to my characters. Pushing on never works for me. I have to stop and listen and figure out where I went wrong.

  3. Jeannie Lin says:

    Welcome Elisabeth! I love the break down of what’s going through your mind and I hope either the house or the story works out…or both!

    I’m going through a dark, dark time in my writer’s journey right now. 🙂 <– smiling to keep from crying

    I've remastered my very first book to try to pull it into something viable. It's the idea that sparked all my other books and I got it by combining two of my favorite genres — western heroic fantasy and Chinese wuxia. Though it's rewarding to try to rewrite the "crappy first book", now that it's coming to a close, I feel that I've come full circle and that I'll never have another idea again.

    I try to look into next month and there's a black hole. All my writing buddies constantly have shiny new ideas plaguing them, but not me. Please tell me this insanity is temporary? I haven't heard about a single other writer who has issues coming up with new ideas. I'm ready to spin an idea wheel.

    Back to a shiny note, major congrats on your success and the upcoming releases!

    • It’s not unusual, Jeannie. Though it sure is frustrating, isn’t it?

      I think as writers, our creative juices are sometimes slowed by things going on in our lives – stress, illness, family issues. Last summer I had a serious health issue, wound up in the hospital for a few weeks, spent the remainder of my summer recovering at home. I had a book due but had nothing going on in my head and the thought of writing nearly killed me. Just about the time I was sure there was no way I’d get that book done on time, my brain snapped back into writer gear. The key is not to push it.

      A friend of mine just went through this. Her mom died in Nov. just after she turned in a book and she had nothing until just about a week ago. In her case, her brain needed time to grieve and deal with her loss, and it didn’t want to start thinking about books yet. Now that some time has passed and she’s healing, it makes sense her brain is clicking back into writer mode.

      So never feel like you’re alone. A lot of writers go through this. Just relax and let your mind wander. I bet you’ll start coming up with ideas before you know it.

  4. Liz Talley says:

    This was a nice read this morning…welcome, Elizabeth! I had to laugh because I think we are all alike. Always thinking of how a circumstance in our life can lead to a story. I mean, a writer’s imagination? Scary where the mind can go, huh?

    My book that comes out in June started on a lark – wasn’t even in the genre I was writing. I came up with it after watching my roommate at Nationals put on knee-high stockings…in July?…with sandals? It stuck in my head and when I went to a workshop and the editor asked people to submit logline pitches on a piece of paper, I jotted something down about a librarian who wears knee highs with her espadrilles overhearing a few teens making fun of her, so she decides to go to Vegas, get glammed up, and fall in love.

    The editor must not have liked it enough, but it rooted in my mind and developed into a book that I eventually pitched and sold.

    Thanks for coming to visit!

    • Liz Talley says:

      Oops! Sorry I used a “z” instead of a “s” in you name. 🙂

      • Wow, Liz. That’s an awesome story on a kernel bursting into a book! How fun! I hope your roomie got a big shout-out in the acknowledgment section of your book. 😉

        And no worries on the “Z”. The only time I throw a fit about the spelling of my name is when the production department at my pub house gets it wrong. LOL

  5. Elise Hayes says:

    Hey Elizabeth, how wonderful to hear of a fellow-GH sister who has reacher her publication dream! Five books out or in the pipeline (or is it six?) in the short time since your 2007 final–WOW! Did you have a pile of manuscripts under your bed, or have you just been writing your fingers off since that first sale?

    I get my story ideas from what I think of as “seeds.” It’s usually a “what if” situation that pops into my head, based on a conversation I hear, a book I read, a nugget of history, even dreams. Then I start wondering, “hmm, what happens next?” And a book idea gets launched!

    • Hi Elise!

      I had the first two books in my Stolen trilogy written when I sold, that was it. And my agent reminded me constantly, “This is the only time you’ll be ahead of the deadline game, so enjoy it now.” Little did I know she was right. That trilogy released in Jan ’09, Aug ’09 and Jan ’10, and my new paranormal series starts in May, followed by book 2 in August. Lots of books, all together, which has kept me very busy, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Right now I’m finishing up the proposal for book three so hopefully will have contract news on that soon.

      I love playing the “what if” game. So many possibilities!

      • Elise Hayes says:

        Whoo-eee! That’s quite a writing schedule. Keep up the great momentum!

      • Tamara Hogan says:

        So, I have to ask…do you write full time? I’m boggling at your productivity!

        • Pretty much, Tamara. I have a preschooler at home with me during the day, but I work when I can – editing, galleys, promo stuff. I do most of my new writing at night though – after my kids (ages 10, 7 and almost 5) are in bed. Honestly, I don’t know how some writers work full time all day, handle family after work and STILL find time to kick out bestsellers.

  6. Darynda Jones says:

    Great post, Elisabeth, and welcome! I agree with Liz. I think we are all alike, and yet so different from the rest of the population. I once got an idea for a short story from a red tack I found in the bottom of my shoe. LOL. You just never know.

    And I’m with you on the romance. There MUST be romance. I really loved your story and I hope you are able to get a better look at that house. It sounds awesome. As Kevin Costner said in The War, “Lipstick and rouge.” Just cosmetic stuff.

    Good luck and congrats on your sales!

    • Hi Darynda. What a great name. I went to school with a girl named Darinda, but I’ve never seen that name since!

      I love that Costner line. I’m going to have to remember it. But I have to know…what story emerged from the red tack in your shoe? Tell, tell…

      • Darynda Jones says:

        LOL, it was a high school thing. She moves to a new school gets a tack stuck in her shoe on the way to her first class, bends over to pry it out, and naturally the hero trips over her. Awww, high school…:)

        And thanks about my name! I’ve only met one other person with it and it was also spelled different.

  7. Good Morning Elisabeth! We had a neighbor come to the door yesterday. She’s a total activist spreading doom and gloom about the city is going to do this and that. Our house values are going to drop. Our views are going to vanish. It’s always something new with her. After she left (reluctantly), I told my husband, “she is soooooooo going in my manuscript”, I might even make her into a killer.

  8. Oddly enough, I get a lot of ideas while I’m on vacation. I think it’s because we’re doing things we don’t normally do, and meeting a lot of new people.

  9. Diana Layne says:

    Hi, Elisabeth, and welcome!

    I have enough drama in the family I’ll never run out of ideas, the trick is to disguise the characters enough so no one recognizes themselves, lol. Other than that I love the news, just got an idea this morning…so many ideas, so little time, sigh!

    Congrats on the success to another GH sister, looks like you’re off to a great start. Best of luck for continued sales!

    p.s. and good luck on the house hunting, don’t envy you that…ugh.

    • Hi Diana,

      I get a lot of ideas from the news too. Esp. the National Geographic channel. Now that one I could watch for hours.

      The house hunting is actually fairly fun. It’s keeping my house clean so it can be on the market that’s the pain. Ack!

  10. INCiDeNT says:

    My ideas come from anything — lyrics, the sound of music, vocals and instruments, something devastating like that house you mentioned 😉 or something created. Colours, symbols, TV, the written word too. I must admit that I have a thing for the paranormal — sparks fly like a flame to oil for anything supernatural. Emotions are a huge key for them too.

  11. azteclady says:

    Ms Naughton, you gave me chills–and it didn’t take very long.

    (Please don’t enter me in the drawing–I can’t answer the question, as I don’t write)

  12. Hi Elisabeth! I have your books in my TBR mountain, LOL. I’m always drawn to good action-adventure romantic suspenses.

    I usually always come up with character/situation first and then the plot blossoms from there. My first romantic suspense ms was born from the idea of a woman desperately searching for her missing son. Last year’s GH finaling ms was born from the idea of an emotionally scarred scientist who is framed for the theft of her prototype.

  13. Terchil says:

    I’m not a writer (unfortunately, I was not given any talent) but please enter me in the contest anyway. 🙂

  14. Elisa Beatty says:

    Welcome, Elisabeth! Thanks for joining us–and thanks for sharing some inspiration! How amazing you’re so far along after a 2007 final!!

    I’m not sure where my inspirations come from–little flashes of a scene, a scrap of dialogue, a body posture…I think I was probably washing dishes when I flashed on a woman assembling a gun she had to use to stop an assassin who was chasing her brother… I think it was just the motion of my hands that suggested it, and the boredom of dishwashing. Anyhow, that’s become the opening scene of the book that’s a sequel to my current WIP (the gun assembling, not dishwashing.)

    Nice to have you with us!

  15. Hi Elisa,

    It’s amazing how the mind works, isn’t it? Something as so mundane as washing dishes can stimulate all kinds of ideas. Very cool!

  16. Gwynlyn MacKenzie says:

    Hello, Elisabeth. Fancy meeting you here! When Joan said a 2007 GHer, I wondered which of the Bond Gals it could be, but decided to be patient rather than ask. I’m so happy to see you here!

    I get some of my best ideas in my garden. Almost all my stories have a flower or two in them. Roses kicked off my Tudor trilogy—white roses gleaming silver in the moonlight, to be exact. Wrote a Regency using the petals rather like a trail of bread crumbs and they stuck in my mind. I guess having lived in Lancaster, PA (The Red Rose City) not far from York (The White Rose City) aided the process.

    • Hey Gwynlyn!

      Since I have a brown thumb I can’t quite associate with the garden thing, but I bet my husband could since he takes care of all the roses I insisted on planting when we bought our current house.

      My relatives are all from Carlisle, PA, just outside Harrisburg. Now I’m wondering what rose city that is. LOL I actually live just south of Portland OR, which is considered a plain ol’ “Rose City”.

  17. Ina says:

    Hi Elisabeth!
    thanks for a great post – and there are fantastic answers to your question!! I would have enough ideas (I believe…), but I can’t put them into a whole story… don’t ask me how long it takes sometimes to write a simple post, can’t imagine what it would be with a book… I’m just glad there are a lot of authors out there who can do it 😉
    have a great day,

  18. Hey, Ina. Thanks for stopping by!

    My running partner is a non-writer but constantly coming up with book ideas for me. Since she helps me plot my books sometimes, it’s been a treat.

    And you know, I’m just glad there are lots of readers out there like you who read our books! 🙂

  19. Tina Joyce says:

    Hi Elisabeth, loved reading your post. It’s funny where ideas come from, isn’t it? We once had a house guest who ended up staying faaaar longer than we’d anticipated (a week turned into a month). My daughter, tired of giving up her room, declared in jest, “Off with her head!” And, in the sometimes twisted way my mind works, the germ of an idea took root and grew. My family still chuckles about my “headless” manuscript. It’s also a way to look back at what could have been a rather unpleasant experience with laughter, rather than annoyance.

    Thanks again for the post. Enjoyed it. I hope you get to take a reel peek inside your mystery house.

  20. Elisabeth, how sweet of you to join us today! Congratulations on all your success with the “Stolen” series. I’m very excited to read them.

    I got chills thinking about that abandoned old house on the hill. I did, however, recently finish reading “The House on Haunted Hill,” which has more than a little to do with it.

    I’ve always been a daydreamer, but I still struggle to come up with grand plot lines. I focus on little things, small glances and gestures. I love people-watching, and I think that must be where I get most of my inspiration.

    • Hi Jamie, thanks so much for the welcome. And I hope you enjoy the Stolen books!

      I could spend hours people watching, couldn’t you? I’m perfectly happy to sit with a cup of coffee at an outdoor cafe and just watch the stream of people up and down the street. So many great research moments there!

  21. Beth Langston says:

    Thanks for a great post, Elisabeth. (I had to retype your name 3 times–since I have the same one–with a Z).

    The idea for my WIP came from my long-suffering (and subsequently smug) daughter. A couple of years ago, I was bemoaning the fact that “interesting plots are my weakness.” Those sagging middles–yikes.

    She said, “Pick someone else’s plot and recycle it.”

    It was such good advice. I picked my favorite fairy tale–which gave me the skeleton of a story– and built it beneath two characters I loved in a time period that’s always fascinated me. And it just works. Yay.

    (another 2007 GHer)

  22. Leni says:

    I’m always inspired by people. They could be family,friends,co-workers,or strangers. Just about any situation I find myself in can always be used for something.

    • Hi Leni,

      So very true. I told my g’friend’s husband last night that he needs to be careful. I’m always listening and using phrases I hear people say in conversation. You just never know when something you say is going to wind up in my book!

  23. Vivi Andrews says:

    Hi Elisabeth!
    I love hearing where authors get their ideas. My GH book came from an awful afternoon trapped on a boat with a squabbling couple and a few other choice characters. I started thinking what could possibly make the day worse and ended up with murder & mayhem… in a romance, of course. 🙂

  24. Hi, ELizabeth. Thank you for visiting us today. Love your story and totally understand the attraction with the house. I hope things work out for you and your family.

    The idea for my Golden Heart entry came about with a call from the US Treasury confirming an appointment for a delivery.

    Often plot Ideas pop into my head from a one-liner statement. The right word and I’m off.

    Congrats on your sales.


  25. Thanks for visiting, Elizabeth. The house sounds wonderful, even with the wrecked interior. But as I was reading your blog, the hair on the back of my neck started prickling–so hope you either buy it or write about it!
    My ideas come from time at the track–riding around and thinking what if….
    Congratulations on your books and hope you have your own quiet writing space very soon!

    • Thanks, Bev.

      Actually, I should share that we’re pretty sure the damage inside the house is from a frozen pipe during the big freeze we had here back in Dec. The house had recently foreclosed and no one was living in it. From the damage we could see, it looks like an upstairs pipe broke and water seeped down the walls and ruined the floors. Though…the vengeful previous homeowner makes for a good RS, doesn’t it?

      Thanks to everyone for the great comments today!


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