My mystery, the one that got me an agent, is currently on submission to several New York publishing houses. Yays or nays are forthcoming, probably around the first of July.

So what's a writer to do while waiting?

The advice I've gotten--and I think it's sound--is to start working on something new. I don't want to start a second book in the mystery series, because if book #1 doesn't sell there won't be a book #2 in that series.

So I'm brainstorming.

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a friend at my "day" job. She's a big Survivor fan (the only remaining one, I think), and I said, "They should make a show where they play for real. "

She said, "Ooh! Yeah. You should write a book about that."

So I wrote up a brief synopsis:


Twelve select death row inmates. A tiny remote land mass. Dozens of cameras mounted on electrically-charged towers.

The last man living wins.

In 2019, reality TV is back. This time they’re playing for keeps.

Broadcasted live, 24/7, Survival Island is a big hit. Ratings are through the roof.

Then one day the channel goes black.

A law enforcement crew, sent to investigate, discovers that the finalists--two of the most notorious serial killers in history--have somehow escaped.

Bodies of identical twins start showing up in north Florida, with the contestants’ unmistakable signatures. Have the killers joined forces? Have they, in essence, become one maniacal bloodthirsty mind?

The hunt is on--with a five million dollar reward--but Dr. Michael Caldwell isn’t in it for the money.

His daughters are missing.


I showed it to a writer friend, and he sent me this link.

I'd never heard of the movie, and it amazed me that someone had stolen my idea. :)

It just goes to show, with so many creative minds in the universe, it's not unusual for two or more people to come up with the same premise.

Long before The Da Vinci Code became a publishing phenomenon, an author named Lewis Perdue wrote this. Dan Brown claims he never heard of Perdue or his work, and I believe him. At any rate, Brown and his publisher beat the plagiarism charges in court.

That's the thing. You can't really copyright an idea. If I wanted to go ahead and write Survival Island, I could. But what would be the point?

I have another thriller idea, but I'm keeping it to myself for now. I think it's pretty original, but who knows? Another author or screenwriter might be working on the same thing. Or, maybe it has already been written and just not become well-known, Like Lewis Perdue's book.

I need to hurry up and write it before the movie comes out. :)

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You'd be amazed at the number of times my husband's read a synopsis for some allegedly 'stunningly original' story and said, "I saw a show with the same story six months ago."

Then again, maybe you wouldn't be.

All I know is what I did. Worked on a sequel enough to have an outline for it and the intro written, in case someone was interested in the first one, and then put it to bed. Started something completely different.

Someone was just telling me in an email yesterday that when Dennis Lehane was starting he was rejected by 30 agents and then 50 publishers before getting a deal. All bets are off when it comes to predicting things in this industry.
Hi Sandra,

Yeah, stories like Lehane's are encouraging and scary at the same time. :)

Of course in his breakout, Mystic River, the plot itself wasn't all that original. The characters and the extraordinary writing made that book stand out. I think that's the key, because there really is nothing new under the sun.
One of my tie-in novels (a Friday the 13th) that came out last year had this premise, only with Jason, but I'm probably not the first one to think of it either.

You are right, most ideas are not really new. You just need to find a way to give them a new twist. Your own personal take.

As for what to do while you wait, absolutely keep writing. Always keep writing.
Hi Christa,

I do think that's the best advice--keep writing. Otherwise, it's hard not to go nuts waiting.
I'm close to sending my novel out again this year, but at this point in my life, I'm simply stretched too thin to start work on another novel. I've been doing a lot with short fiction. And sometimes an idea will pop into my head for one of the three sequels I'm planning, and I'll write it down, but nothing has pulled the trigger yet to make me want to commit. Which is fine - at the moment!

By the way, I think your twist to that particular storyline (which rather reminds me of "The Running Man") is pretty interesting. If you wanted to avoid copycatting the movie, why not start with the site going black?
Hi Christa,

Yeah, there might be a way to salvage that plot. I'll have to think about it. Thanks!
If the book you have out there now is what you hope will be the first in a mystery series, I'd write the second book now. I had my second book done by the time my first one was picked up, and I made a deal on the second six months before the first was on the bookshelves. Since then, I've had the luxury of having actual time to write each book in the series because I've always sort of been one ahead of the game.

If for some reason the first book isn't picked up, maybe the second would be and IT could end up being the first in the series.
Hi Karen,

That might not be a bad idea. I would probably have to change the characters' names (if #1 doesn't sell), and maybe the protag's profession. Might work. Thanks!

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