Colleen Houck

“I took hold of that scourge -filled ship and crushed it between my limbs, hurtling it into the second sun, the red one that gave me strength. But I was too late." Terraformer

Colleen's blog

  • Modern Ink Society

    March 20, 2017


    Jennifer A. Nielsen

    The Genesis of Inspiration

    Welcome to the thirtieth session of



    “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

                                                                       — Eleanor Roosevelt

    Introducing Jennifer

    Bio: New York Times Bestselling author, Jennifer Nielsen, was born and raised in northern Utah, where she still lives today with her husband, three children, and a dog that won’t play fetch. She is the author of The Ascendance trilogy, beginning with THE FALSE PRINCE; the MARK OF THE THIEF series, and the forthcoming A NIGHT DIVIDED. She loves chocolate, old books, and lazy days in the mountains.

    Jennifer’s Featured Book



    Here’s a little teaser

    As a lethal plague sweeps through the land, Ani Mells is shocked when she is unexpectedly captured by the governor’s wardens and forced to submit to a test for the deadly Scourge. She is even more surprised when the test results come back positive, and she is sent to Attic Island, a former prison turned refuge — and quarantine colony — for the ill. The Scourge’s victims, Ani now among them, can only expect to live out short, painful lives there. However, Ani quickly discovers that she doesn’t know the whole truth about the Scourge or the Colony. She’s been caught in a devious plot, and, with the help of her best friend, Weevil, Ani means to uncover just what is actually going on.  But will she and Weevil survive long enough to do so? “

    The Scourge” is an explosively thrilling tale of adventure and intrigue, courage and heart from “New York Times” bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen.

     The Genesis of Inspiration
    The most common question most writers get is, “Where do you get your ideas?” Although that seems rather basic, it’s always been a hard one for me to answer because my first thought is, “Where don’t I get them?”
    The author Orson Scott Card once said, “Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.”
    Personally, I won’t claim to find fix or six ideas every day, but I absolutely believe Card is correct. And I have a theory as to how any writer—or non-writer—can begin to work their way toward daily inspirations for stories.
    It’s called, “What If?”
    “What if” is a game I used to play with my son when we’d be in a public place and he was bored. I might look around the food court at the mall and say, “Someone here is trying to hide their superpowers. Who is it?” He’d look around and finally identify someone nonchalantly eating their ice cream. “Him!” “Oh yes, I can see it now. But their arch nemesis is here too. Where are they?” He finds a woman waiting impatiently in line. “Her!” “What if they bump into each other? What will happen next?” And the story begins…
    Most of my story inspirations begin in similarly humble ways. Lyrics in a song, a story from history, a useless fun fact that catches my attention. An offhand comment in a podcast. This was the genesis for THE SCOURGE. The podcaster was discussing the history of Leprosy (always a fun beginning for any children’s book, no?) and how in the twentieth century, we knew what it was and how to cure it.
    Yet it was still legal in many parts of the world to pull a leprosy victim from their home and send them to a leper colony even though we could cure it. There are still people living in some colonies today, cured of their conditions for decades yet they have nowhere to return to.
    The injustice of that floored me and I began playing “What If” with that piece of history. What if fear becomes the driving force of a country’s policy? What if the leader of a country is willing to use that fear to control the population? What is the price of segregating a population into groups between the acceptable and non-acceptable people? The answers to those questions became THE SCOURGE.
    For writers who are seeking their next idea, or how to flesh out the idea they have, I suggest they play the same game. Do you see a mother pushing a stroller down the street? What if you change the time of day from 3 pm to exactly midnight? What if you remove one character? Mom. What if you walk into the scene to help the baby and at the end of the street, the lights flicker, and a cloaked figure appears, its eyes on you?
    Do you hear a politician saying something that is damaging to their career? What if they are being blackmailed? By whom? Do you see an unusual weather condition? What if the cause isn’t natural? What else could it be?
    Simple questions like these become the genesis of inspiration. They are the reason why some people find new story prompts every single day where others find none at all. Finding ideas begins with developing the habit of seeing something ordinary and then asking questions. Come up with the most interesting answers you can, and suddenly, the story begins.
    Look around you now. What if…

    If you’d like to chat with Jennifer and Colleen, there is a Goodreads chat going on through the month of March! Join the book club chat for a chance to win FREE BOOKS!


    This entry was posted in Featuring Authors, The Modern Ink Society, Uncategorized.

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    Author Bio

    I’m Linda Louise, one of the bloggers on this website and Colleen’s little sister. I’m just a girl in her mid-thirties who feels thirteen when I play outside with my boys, fifteen when I sing my heart out listening to tunes while driving by myself, and sixty five when I go out past ten at night. I have a thing for junior mints, Mt. Dew, shrimp and kale (though not all at once) and I have a crush on Superman. I still get girlish butterflies when I read Twilight, cry when I read These is My Words, and smile from ear to ear when I read Anne of Green Gables. I have nightmares about aliens on a regular basis and I have a bad habit of midnight snacking. I love everything sports, except golf (although can that honestly be considered a sport??), and I hate anything that slithers, hisses, or stings. I have a problem with giggling at inappropriate moments and I sometimes wish life was a musical. I love science, hate math, love Dr. Seuss, and hate olives. My family is my world and my joys come from their happiness. I’ve learned I don’t know much about anything and I live for a good adventure, naps, cuddles, stories, exceptional food and The Shire.