♫ Wouldn’t You Like to Be A Genius, Too ♫

ImageSometimes I have ideas, and I think I’m a genius. Within a week, I see my genius advertised on television for $19.95. Someone beat me to it.

I have two genius ideas right now:

Genius Idea #1- I think every automobile should have a light bar running from left to right across the back of the car. It will show you the degree to which the driver has applied the brakes. Is Grandpa riding the brake and thereby applying only a little pressure? Just a few lights of the bar will light. Is the driver braking rationally in preparation for a stop? Possibly half of the lights will light. Or has the driver slammed on the brakes because a squirrel darted into the middle of the road and held up a stop sign? All of the lights across the rear end will blind you with their redness. Rear end collisions would be eliminated with my light bar, which is a way better idea than that goofy additional red light in the back window. … The Big Three have ignored my emails.

Genius Idea #2 – We don’t heat our upstairs in the winter. It’s great for sleeping, and with plenty of blankets, it’s always warm and toasty in the bed. Getting out is manageable, but taking off warm pajamas to put on frozen clothing is brutal! This year, I’m putting my clothes for the next day into a box with an electric heating pad hooked up to a timer set to turn on an hour before I get up. I’ll let you know how that invention works out and if the guys at the Shark Tank go for it.

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When I came up with an idea for my next book, I thought I’d hit upon genius again!

I’m a Janet Evanovich fan. In 2008, I picked up the first book in her Stephanie Plum series, and I read it in one sitting. I laughed out loud – something I rarely do when I’m by myself. I read the next thirteen books in the series, plus the in-betweens, in just two weeks.

In Explosive Eighteen, there is quite a bit of action at Stephanie’s apartment in New Jersey. I thought it would be awesome to have Susan and Darby go to New Jersey, stay with his uncle in Stephanie’s apartment building, and their story would run parallel to hers for one weekend. Darby would comment on the passed-out redhead in the hallway, or they would be awakened by multiple gunshots in the middle of the night, and the uncle would bark, “Go back to bed. It’s just the bounty hunter across the hall.”

Genius I tell you! There would be no mention of any names whatsoever. Only an Evanovich fan would catch the references.

But I do my homework. Research and a quick online consultation Imagewith a copyright attorney quickly exposed my folly. Even though no names would be referenced, characters and locations are by design copyrighted. If fictitious characters and locations can be recognized, you cannot use them.

It would have been fun to write, and I was disappointed. This idea came to me out of nowhere. I was working on something else at the time. Why was it dumped into my head by the universe?

Ha! I don’t give up that easily. It’s still a good idea. In my next book, Windy City Hunter, coming to an eReader near you in 2013, I have Susan and Darby staying in a condo in Chicago. I know I want a subplot in the condo, and I still want to use my idea of these two looking in on events from another book.

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Not the book I have in mind.

I’ve been speed-reading Public Domain Books! I’ve already found two possibilities. I’m pretty sure this isn’t an original idea, and when someone reads my book they will likely have no idea what I’ve done, but I’m pleased that an idea fell into my head, and I figured out a way to make it work.

Have you ever used a public domain book when writing? Tell me about your inventions!