Ever wonder if your wellspring of ideas will dry up? I do.

The thought hit me tonight: When I finish the first draft of my WIP, what’s next?

Of course there will be finding volunteers to read my newly finished baby, editing, and, eventually, writing a query and shopping it around.

But what will be my next WIP? Where will the idea originate?

I used to think I had an unending supply of ideas. After all, my imagination is sometimes sparked by a blurb I see/hear on the news (as was the case for “Blind Date Bride”) or even by something I witness in the mall.

Unfortunately, I’ve come to realize that those snippets don’t necessarily have the chops to sustain a novel — of any length. They might make it into the story as part of a scene, but there’s usually no conflict … nothing at stake.

Huh. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have worried about that. Good thing I’ve learned something since then, eh?

And now that I’ve had some time to mull things over in my head, I do have some good ideas rattling around in there. First off, I can finish Drew & Lainy’s story (which could probably kick off an entire series, seeing as it’s set in a high school that happens to be a hotbed of teacher-on-teacher romance).

Brad and Kenny’s brother needs his own story, too. Matt’s buddy, Dave, has a built-in backstory (complete with secret baby). Another of his teammates could also have a tale to tell. And during my recent fit of decluttering, I stumbled on an old idea with a lot of promise.

Guess my wellspring of ideas won’t be running dry anytime soon. That’s a relief!

You often hear writers say their story ideas come from the strangest places.

I’m not so sure that’s true. Ideas are all around us … all we have to do is open our eyes (and ears) to the possibilities.

The initial idea for “Blind Date Bride” came from a news story I heard on the radio back when I still lived in Logansport, Indiana. I first wrote its opening scene as a one-act play. I’m not sure if it ever got produced by the Logansport theater company, because I moved away before the one-act festival.

But once the idea lodged itself in my brain, the story was too good to ignore. I fleshed it out beyond the church basement, where the hero and heroine argue with their respective friends (who entered them in a wedding contest even though neither of them were in the market for a spouse ‚ even a temporary one). I put them (reluctantly) in the same apartment for 90 days, fully expecting some hairy situations to come up. I gave them pasts and a future (together).

My current WIP, “Trouble in Paradise?”, features the best friends from Kari & Damien’s story. They actually started dating at Kari & Damien’s fake wedding — and got more action on the wedding night than our hapless bride and groom. When one of the first people to read “Blind Date Bride” said, “Bethany and Cody should have their own story”, my imagination was off and running.

My first manuscript, “Operation Snag Mike Brad,” was inspired by my crush on a coworker (who became the basis for pseudo-playboy Mike James). Cassie & Dustin’s and Bree & Mike’s stories grew from that first MS, though they’ve both taken on lives of their own beyond the original story (at least I hope they have).

“Operation Snag Mike Brad” also inspired the story I plan to write for this year’s NaNoWriMo. It’s the story of Brad’s brother, Kenny, who turns up at Erin’s first Kingston family dinner with a fake fiancee in tow. (The fake-out’s his desperate attempt to get his matchmaking Ma off his back.)

I honestly can’t remember where the ideas for Meg & Matt’s or Drew & Lainy’s stories came from. (The character of Drew is loosely based on another guy I once worked with, so he probably gave me a germ of inspiration.) His story is set in a fictional high school on the other side of the (also fictional) major town in my first three manuscripts. Meg & Matt’s story is the only one set where I live now, Arizona.

On the drive through New Mexico while I was on my summer vacation I had an idea from a road sign, compounded by something I saw on the side of the road a few miles later. It’s still a nebulous, unformed idea, but I jotted it down. Maybe it’ll develop into something more … and maybe not. But at least it’s a possibility.

Heck, I even had an idea when I heard Gary Coleman had died. I haven’t done a lot of development on it, either … but it kind of fits with my other TV-related stories.

OK … that’s a little weird. Maybe story ideas DO come from the strangest places, after all.

Where’s the weirdest place you’ve gotten a story idea?