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Story Ideas You Are Certain Won’t Work. But They Do.

by Gail Gaymer Martin

When I was proposing my next series, for Love Inspired, I ran amuck. Nothing excited me, and when it did, it didn’t strike my senior editor. When I asked what series ideas she would like to see, she said, “Something like Make A Wish Foundation.” Hmm? That slammed into my brain like an avalanche. My frozen mind weighted thoughts of writing a romance with characters who had seriously ill children. Impending death, doctor’ appointments, hospital stays. What was romantic about that? But the more I thought, the better the idea sounded. I’m known for writing emotional fiction, and these stories would be emotional. Why couldn’t the children be in remission with hope to survive?

I developed my fictitious organization for mothers of ill children and creating a foundation called Dreams Come True, one that was local and funded by one anonymous donor. Curiosity reigned in the novels as to the donor. Each story focused on one single mother and her ill child along with two other members with ailing children. The main characters appeared in the three novels in the Dreams Come True Series. The first book, A Dad Of His Own, received 4 stars from Romantic Times, great reviews and reader mail. Not one complaint. I took a chance on the second book. I included a single mom and dad, each with a seriously ill child. I’m thrilled that, A Family Of Their Own, has at this date become a finalist in two national contests-Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and Golden Quill and received a Holt Medallion Award of Merit.

My June release, the final book in the series, A Dream of His Own, was honored with 4-1/2 stars from Romantic Times. Early readers love the story which reveals the answer to the questions asked in all three books. Who is the lone donor of the Dreams Come True Foundation and why?

What have I learned from this experience? Sometimes off-the-wall ideas, ones that seem impossible, can make the best novels. Readers have expectations reading romances. They want boy meets girl who, in time, live happily ever after. But stories can become ho-hum, and coming up with creative stories is not easy. So authors sometimes need to step outside the box and find something that pulls the heart strings and still meets readers’ expectations of romance. It was challenging to keeping the story from becoming too serious or the illnesses too distracting from the romances, but it’s possible. The reviewers, reader comments and RT stars validate it.

Inspired I came up with something different for my next series and I hope it’s as effective.


Multi-award-winning novelist, Gail Gaymer Martin writes Christian fiction for Love Inspired and has written for Barbour Publishing, where she was honored by Heartsong readers as their Favorite Author of 2008. Gail has contracted over fifty novels with three and a half million books in print. She is the author of Writers Digest’s Writing the Christian Romance. Gail is a co-founder of American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Christian Authors Network, a keynote speaker at churches, libraries and civic organizations and a workshop presenter at conference across the US. She was named one of the four best novelists in the Detroit area by CBS local news. Gail lives with her husband in a northwest Detroit suburb.

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One Response to Story Ideas You Are Certain Won’t Work. But They Do.

  1. Beth K. Vogt says:

    “Sometimes off-the-wall ideas, ones that seem impossible, can make the best novels.”

    Love this thought, Gail!