Brainstorming Your Next Great Idea (Part 2)

Tip #1: Plan it like you bake it.

Anyone who has baked something can tell you: there are certain ingredients you need to include in your dough/batter for certain things to happen. There are ingredients that help it to rise, ingredients that thicken, ingredients that sweeten…I’m not going to start naming them because I’m sure I could name some of them, but I’m a writer, not a baker.

In the same way, there are certain ingredients to a story that help it make it all that you want it to be.

If you’re going to make chocolate chip cookies, what’s the first thing you do?

Look up a recipe. (Unless you’re a genius baker and you just know how to make them off the top of your head. If so, kudos to you.) In the same way, you’ll want to look at a “recipe” for your story. What do you need to include to make it delici-I mean, a good story? Every recipe starts off with a list of ingredients. That’s what we’re doing here. Except instead of writing a recipe, you’re going to write your synopsis.


“Already?” you say. “But I’m not ready! I still haven’t created my fifteen woodland languages and the complex mathematical formula I need for space travel!”

Luckily for you, this doesn’t have to be your final synopsis. This is just your working synopsis. Think of it like your working title. “Cool Woodland Space Story.” You’re not actually going to call your book that (I hope) but that didn’t stop you from naming that doc, now did it?

So….start looking at other “recipes.” Read books, watch movies and TV shows, listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos, play video games…whatever. Immerse yourself in the genre you’ve chosen.

Then—write the synopsis. It doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t have to be long (in fact, it shouldn’t be). It could be one sentence with a dangling participle and a misplaced phrase.

Editing is later, remember? This is just writing.

And as you write the synopsis, think. What do you love about the genre you’ve chosen? What tropes do you love? What tropes should you avoid? What’s an interesting twist you can put with it? In other words, what makes this yours?

We’re not just making chocolate chip cookies anymore. We’re making your chocolate chip cookies.

Instead of flour, what time period is the setting? Past? Present? Future? Does it even take place on Earth?

Instead of sugar, who is the main character? What is the MC’s story? Their desires? Is this story about them achieving something or about them learning that failure is in fact an option sometimes?

Instead of cinnamon (ooh, that’s a different ingredient), what’s the mystery or the unknown or the thing that will keep your readers coming back?

Think back. What part of your story first intrigued you?

Focus on that.

Same as how you don’t make a chocolate chip cookie to taste the baking powder, you don’t want to write a story and focus on the bland parts.

Everybody’s heard of space travel. But who’s heard of woodland gingerbread men traveling through space in a giant tea kettle? (Please don’t write that. And I don’t mean because I’m going to.)

But….this is only the ingredients. Don’t jump ahead and start measuring stuff out. Don’t begin mixing the cookie dough before you even put in the salt (sorry, I’m loving these analogies). Those steps will come later. For now, just focus on the ingredients. Focus on what made you love the story to begin with.

If you write something that intrigues you, it will intrigue someone else, too. That’s the beauty of stories. They connect people together. They provide something that we can bond over.

Kinda like cookies. 🍪

Happy writing!

Brainstorming Your Next Great Idea (Part 1)

We’ve all been there. A sudden flash of inspiration. A story floods our mind. We have characters that seem real, yet unique. Their trials seem realistic, but still interesting. We have this burning idea that we just need to write.

But then. The unthinkable happens.

The story begins dying in us. Little bit by little bit.

What we once thought was so magical seems…boring.

The characters turn flat, we run out of ideas.

And so we move along, until the next bit of magic captures our interest and we go chasing after yet another new story.

So what happened? Why did the story go south?

I honestly don’t know. It’s happened to me several times. I’ll be coming up with an idea inside my head, fleshing it out, and thinking it sounds amazing.

And then.


It suddenly seems bland. Not worth continuing on with.

So what’s a writer to do? How do we keep our stories fresh? How do we make sure that we don’t embark on writing a story only to have it die out on us moments later?

There are a few ways I’d like to propose that might help us stay the course in our current writing endeavors. I will be going more in-depth with these in the next writing tips blog posts.

Tip #1: Plan it like you bake it.

Tip #2: Plan it like you eat it.

Tip #3: Plan it like you go out for coffee.

Happy writing!

Introduction to Wetherholt

I’ve had an absolute blast writing my first book Wetherholt and its sequel Wondering. They’re both set in 1870s America and center around two sisters as they write letters to each other of all their doings. My inspiration heavily draws on the themes from Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott, with focus on family, love, and society.

To give you more of an idea of what the story is like, I present to you…the synopsis!

When Lissie Dairton heads to New York City to visit her aunt and uncle, her only regret is that her older sister Nett can’t come along. Her remedy is to write witty and insightful letters keeping Nett informed of her adventures in the big city—from dealing with their beastly aunt and refusing advances from a ghastly suitor to attending plays with heiresses and falling in love with a dashing Mr. Elwood.

From afar, Nett replies with her usual practicality as she tries to keep her flightier sister’s feet on the ground. But soon, Nett is swept up in her own adventure as she meets the brother of Lissie’s prospective beau. Levelheaded, caring, and sensible, the elder Elwood brother seems like the answer to all her dreams. But what at first seems like happiness becomes confusion as Nett’s almost-suitor begins acting stiff and distant.

Lissie remains convinced that she and her sister will marry the Elwood brothers, but Nett is uncertain. With family disapproval and the seeming disinterest from the elder brother, how can there possibly be a satisfactory end for everyone?

Now available on Amazon!

A Place to Hang the Moon (Cozy Book Reviews)

Best paired with: Hot cocoa and chocolate chip cookies

A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus is a cozy children’s book centered on three orphaned children in London during World War II. After the death of their grandmother, they inherit a large sum of money that they are too young to touch. With no guardians, their grandmother’s solicitor recommends that they look for their future family as they are billeted out into the countryside. However, their inheritance is to be kept a secret so their money won’t be a draw for people to adopt them. As the children travel from billet to billet, they encounter various hardships including bullies and ruined books. Will they ever find their true home?

The three Pearce orphans in A Place to Hang the Moon are fantastic main characters. The eldest, William, is the responsible one, and is practically raising his younger siblings. Edmund—much like Edmund Pevensie whom he was named after—is the one who says things that were probably better left unsaid. And Anna, the youngest, is a sweetheart who just wants to love and be loved. As I read the book, I noticed how the three siblings were always there for each other, showing love and being understanding. Having such a strong bond between the siblings helped to drive the coziness of the book. Sentences describing what the children were thinking and feeling were written excellently and made them seem all the more alive.

By far, though, my favorite character was Nora MĂĽller, the local librarian who’s been somewhat ostracized for being married to a German. Throughout the book, she shows complete love to the Pearce children, although people in the town declare her “unsuitable” to take care of the children. Nevertheless, whenever they come into the library, she helps them the best she can. In one of my favorite parts, Anna finds out she has nits—lice eggs—in her hair, and Mrs. MĂĽller offers to get them out right there in the library.

“Thanks, Mrs. Muller,” William said. “But honestly—we’ll manage.” A part of him hoped she couldn’t see the tears burning his eyes. Another part rather hoped she could.
The librarian’s voice was nearly a whisper. “I’ve no doubt you would. But this seems to me rather unfair to expect a boy of twelve to manage.”

Kate Albus was directly inspired by C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe when the Pevensies were forced to leave their mother in London and go to the countryside during the bombing. I haven’t read very many World War II novels, but maybe I should read more, considering one of my favorite books is Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery.

All in all, A Place to Hang the Moon was a wonderful trip to 1940s England…a trip that I’ll no doubt take again.

A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus
Buy A Place to Hang the Moon