Monday, May 12, 2014

You're Never Too Old for a New Idea

Radine Trees Nehring was supposed to be a guest on Judy’s Stew in late April, but neither of us know what happened to the post. So please welcome her as a Wednesday a guest on a Monday. Radine is a member of Sisters in Crime, Ozarks Writers League, Authors Guild, and has served on the board of the Southwest Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. She is a 2011 inductee into the Arkansas Writers’ Hall of fame, and her most recent book is A Fair to Die For from Oak Tree Press.

But that’s only half the story. Here’s more about Radine in her own words

A writing career can start at any age--I'm one who has proved that, even if I was much younger than people like A. Carmen Clark (The Maine Mulch Murder) who sold her first novel to a publisher when she was in her eighties, and Millard Kaufman, who was eighty-six when he began his first novel, A Bowl of Cherries, and ninety when it was published. I was a mere fifty when I began writing for paid publication. It all happened because I fell in love with the Arkansas Ozarks. My husband and I bought land here in 1978, and my first essay about an Arkansas happening burst out of me in 1986. It sold almost immediately and was followed by dozens of published essays and magazine features, as well as a weekly fifteen-minute radio program of Ozarks news. Everything I wrote was about the nature, people, places, and events in the Arkansas Ozarks. In 1990 I began forming a number of my published pieces and other material into the non-fiction story of the Nehrings' transformation from city career people to happy Ozarks hillbillies. The result, Dear Earth: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow, was released in New York in 1995, earning the Arkansas Governor's Award for best writing about the state.

I wondered, "What next?" and decided I'd like to try writing a cozy mystery series. A Valley to Die For came out in 2002 and has been followed by six more "To Die For" novels, each of them showcasing the adventures of Carrie McCrite and Henry King and their friends. The Carrie and Henry adventures feature real Ozarks locations, real Ozarks history, plausible crimes, (given the locations), and a cast of fictitious characters--some of them Ozarks natives--who could be real folks--but aren't. Number eight in the series is in work.

I am so grateful to say that others must enjoy these visits to Ozarks tourist spots as much as I do, because the series has earned over twenty-five writing awards, including a Macavity nomination, and a National Silver Falchion from Killer Nashville. The biggest thrill was being chosen the 2011 inductee into the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame.  (Who? ME?)

And now here’s her post on the age-old question that makes most authors cringe: Where do you get your story ideas?

Published authors are sometimes asked "Where do you get your story ideas?"  Many folks seem to think getting ideas is the most difficult part of writing fiction, and sometimes they offer to sell writers their story ideas, or give them to the author and then share, half and half, in the earnings.

Authors reading this will probably agree with me that it doesn't work that way. In fact, sometimes too many story ideas can be more of a problem than a lack of same. (Right now, an idea for novel number nine is tickling me while I'm still writing number eight. Sheesh!)  Ideas for my novels come from my life experiences, from what I read in the news and elsewhere, and from listening to and watching people in public places. They come from Ozarks history and the people who lived it. But, most of all, they come from locations in the Arkansas Ozarks that shout “story at me.  Though the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism has made location suggestions, as have others, I have to visit potential destinations and spend enough time there to find out which of them do shout “story.”  (And then I have to be sure park employees, business owners, and others in those locations are going to be comfortable with having a mystery novel feature their special place. With one exception, all have been thrilled. In each case, employees and/or park rangers have entered into story research so thoroughly that they began living plot creation with me as we explored possible crimes and perils. Now that's fun!)

In addition to all of the above, plots now have to fit my major characters, especially Carrie McCrite and Henry King. (Once cautious friends, now a married couple--see A Wedding to Die For.)  I know them better than anyone walking the earth with the exception of my husband and sister and brother-in-law.  Shirley Booth, Carrie's best friend, and her husband Roger, are dairy farmers “down in the valley” and, as fourth-generation Ozarks dwellers, they are able to offer both wisdom and humor.

I love these people, love spending time with them.  Author Marilyn Meredith once said she kept writing more of her series novels because she wanted to learn what was going on in her characters' lives.  I know just exactly what she meant.

If you'd like to come along on this adventure for the fun (and suspense) my books are available through traditional book stores, and on line at, B& and others, in both e-book and print formats.  Links are offered on my web site:



judyalter said...

Welcome, Nadine. Love that you addressed the question of where you get ideas. I am embarrassed when someone says to me "I have a story you simply must write about." I tell them, gently I hope, that it's their story, not mine. I need my own story that lives in my heart.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Radine, thans for mentioning me. As you know I started out on my writing career later in life (when I was already a greandmother--though I did plenty of writing before hand. I do miss seeing you, but it's just too darn hard to travel these days. Sure glad I did it when I could.

Radine Trees Nehring said...

Marilyn, I treasure our face-to-face times together and remember them so clearly that I can hear your voice and imagine I am spending time with you right this minute! See what real friendship does? Thanks, Radine