Do you look around during the day and wonder what if? What if that happened, what if people really had to choose this or that? Don’t you love those stories that go deeper into a “what if” question?  Today’s guest blogger is Gerry Schmitt, international best-selling author of Shadow Girl, book #2 in the Afton Tangler Thriller series. Ms. Schmitt gives us the lowdown on asking that all-important what if.


Gerry Schmitt and What IfSmall what ifs lead to big stories
by Gerry Schmitt

As an author with forty-two books to her credit, I owe a deep debt of thanks to innumerable mystery and thriller authors who have shared their writing tips and tactics and helped illuminate the way. John Sandford and his terrific Prey series comes to mind for textbook-perfect characters, humor, and plot twists. Michael Connelly is a master story teller with beaucoup subplots tossed in for good measure. Of course, Jeffery Deaver taught us all Forensics 101. And Mary Higgins Clark continues to demonstrate that ordinary women can so easily get tangled in life and death struggles. (I also have Mary to thank for the agent we share.)

But the one author that really takes my breath away when it comes to story originality is Stephen King. When I met King years ago, he talked about how his stories always begin with a what-if.

What the heck is a what-if you ask? It’s an author’s jumping-off point. In one of King’s earliest books, Salem’s Lot, he asked, What if vampires invaded a small New England town? In The Green Mile he posed the question, What if an inmate on death row possessed paranormal powers to do good? In Misery, his what-if gave us a hapless, damaged mystery writer held hostage by his biggest (and most terrifying) fan.

What-ifs are like log lines for a TV show – an elevator test for a killer sales pitch.  In novel writing, your what-if helps you home in on a single, compelling premise that forces you to confront the very essence of your story line. A what-if premise strips your story down to bare bones, preceding even words and internal architecture.

In Shadow Girl, my newest thriller, I asked myself, What if a helicopter carrying a donor heart for a multimillionaire was shot out of the sky? That premise launched me headfirst into my first chapter. No fussy back story, no long-winded character introductions, just crazy nonstop action.

And now, as I’m sitting at my computer yet again, I smile to myself and think, Thank you, Stephen. Because my brain just pinged out another what-if idea that ought to jump-start the first chapter of my next book!

Shadow Girl by Gerry Schmitt

Buy your copy here.

2nd in Series
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425281789

The brutal murder of a business tycoon leaves Afton Tangler and the Twin Cities reeling, but that’s just the beginning of a gruesome crime spree…

Leland Odin made his fortune launching a home shopping network, but his millions can’t save his life. On the list for a transplant, the ailing businessman sees all hope lost when the helicopter carrying his donor heart is shot out of the sky.

Now with two pilots dead and dozens injured, Afton Tangler, family liaison officer for the Minneapolis Police Department, is drawn into the case. As she and her partner investigate family members and business associates, whoever wants Leland dead strikes again—and succeeds—in a brazen hospital room attack.

The supposedly squeaky clean millionaire has crossed the wrong person—and she’s not finished exacting her revenge. The case explodes into an international conspiracy of unbridled greed and violence. And as Afton gets closer to unearthing the mastermind behind it, she gets closer to becoming collateral damage…

About The Author

Gerry Schmitt is the author of the Afton Tangler Thrillers, and, writing under the pseudonym Laura Childs, the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty-five novels, the Tea ShopScrapbooking, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. She is the former CEO of her own marketing firm, has won TV and radio awards, and produced two reality TV shows. She and her professor husband enjoy collecting art, travel, and their two Shar-Pei dogs.

Author Links –
Webpage – Facebook 


August 8 – My Reading Journey – REVIEW

August 9 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 10 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

August 11 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

August 12 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

August 13 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

Thank you, Gerry, for visiting ePen. We love you and your books! For more Gerry aka Laura Childs, click HERE.