People always want to know where I get the ideas for my books, and the truth is that I see ideas for potential a romance novel almost everywhere. It all starts with a spark of curiosity. Something piques my interest, which leads to a bunch of questions floating around in my head.

I’ll give you an example: Mr. Sutton and I were attending our city’s New Year’s Eve fireworks show, and as the pyrotechnics exploded above us in a rainbow of colors, I started to wonder about the show and how it came to be. Were there companies that specialized in putting on fireworks shows? Were they busy year-round or only on occasions like the 4th of July or New Year’s Eve?

Then I started thinking about the person (or people) who were setting off the fireworks – the people who weren’t watching the sky because they were too busy on the ground. And that led me to a romance novel idea – a woman who, along with her siblings, owns a fireworks company. And the company does huge events, like the fireworks show in Boston for the 4th of July along the Charles River.

I had a heroine. I didn’t know much about her yet, but I knew she loved fireworks. Now I needed a hero… a guy who needed fireworks (in every sense of the word). Maybe this guy wants to put on a fireworks show for a product launch, a piece of technology or… I’ve got it! A video game developer who wants to make a big splash with his newest game.

Now I’ve got a heroine and a hero. And a lot of options for a fun title that have to do with fireworks – probably something with the word spark.

So now you’re probably wondering about how I came up with the idea for All the Right Places. It came from a bumper sticker. Mr. Sutton and I were coming back from a shopping trip to Target (which receives at least 10 percent of our annual household income, no kidding), and as we sat at a stop light, I noticed the bumper sticker on the car in front of us. It advocated breast cancer awareness, and it said: Save the Tatas.

In case you didn’t know, tatas is another word for breasts.

Laughing, I pointed out the bumper sticker to my husband. And he pointed out that there are a lot of words for breasts. And then he proceeded to name them all: boobs, hooters, jugs, melons, rack, tits… oh, the list just goes on and on.

And then I started thinking that there were a lot of words for butt, too: ass, backporch, badonkadonk, booty, caboose, derrière… again, so many words, so little time.

That thought led me to another – listing the words for butt would be a fun and eye-catching beginning to a romance novel. But who would be thinking about butts all the time? And then it came to me – someone who was involved in the clothing business.

And that was the genesis of the Riley O’Brien & Co. series, and the first book, All the Right Places.

I encourage you to look around, let your gaze settle on something – anything – and then let your mind wander and wonder. I’m sure you could come up with a great idea for a romance novel.

Chime in with questions and comments below.

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