Non-writers often ask me the question asked of all writers -” Where do you get your ideas? Do they just pop into your head or do you go out looking for them?” The answer, of course, is both. It’s nice when a story idea or image shows up in your head all of a sudden. But, you can’t rely on that kind of inspiration because it operates on its own quixotic schedule that has nothing to do with your timeline. A more reliable source of ideas is to simply observe what’s happening around you in daily life. It could be people you interact with or a story in the media – newspapers, online, radio or television. I tend to write stories in the mystery genre, and, unfortunately, it’s only too easy to find murderous material in real life. For example, within my state, we recently had a sociopathic man I’ll call “Joe” and his brother lock up Joe’s house and set it on fire – with his pregnant wife and four kids inside. Then, when one of his children escaped, he tried to force that child back inside. Only the actions of a neighbor saved the girl. Three boys died, and the wife survived, badly burned. Why did Joe commit this heinous act? He was tired of parenting and offered his brother a few hundred dollars from the insurance payout to help him get rid of his family! This is a real-life tale so appalling that, even I as a mystery writer, haven’t had the stomach to base a story on it. But, you get my point – there are tales all around you every day. It’s up to you to exercise your imagination and judgment to create a fictional world that explores the implications of those stories.