The WG2E All-For-Indies Anthologies Winter Wonderland Edition Author Alicia Street and Unexpected Turns

Unexpected Turns

by Alicia Street

Have you ever noticed how life’s little accidents can send us reeling in a whole new direction? And sometimes even reshape our lives?

For me it was a knee injury that changed my focus from bodies in motion to the written word. Not to mention a guy I met years ago when I was one of those people who swore I’d never get married.

Same goes for a good story. I love following characters through a novel, watching them react to the unexpected in ways that force them to grow and change. Often resisting or making bad choices or discovering a whole new path.

Which way would Scarlett O’Hara’s life have gone if Rhett Butler hadn’t shown up? Or if their child hadn’t died? Of course the Civil War came into play for a major turning point.

But sometimes it’s a small, seemingly meaningless event that begins an avalanche of change. Othello’s wife drops her handkerchief. Uncle Billy absent-mindedly wraps a newspaper around the cash he brought for the bank deposit.

Or a character steps in a direction they think is meaningless. Like that governess job Jane Eyre reluctantly takes.

In “Snow Dance,” my story for the WG2E Winter Wonderland Anthology, Amanda, a war-weary veteran of the Broadway dance world, takes her settlement from a bitter divorce and moves out to the rural eastern tip of Long Island to retreat into solitude and spinsterhood. But her safe little plan is joggled after she meets a sexy local fisherman, a troubled teenage girl and a pesky ghost. A blizzard serves as a catalyst for my protagonist and two secondary characters to face turning points they might not otherwise see or accept.

While complete in itself, this short story is also a prequel for the novels in my Dance ‘n’ Luv series. The teenage girl grows up to play my heroine in KISS ME, DANCER, the first book of the series. Her brother will be featured in book two, and hopefully my readers will get a kick out of seeing the turning points that influenced the paths taken by  these characters later in life.

Winter Wonderland on Amazon

On Nook

On Smashwords

It’s Your Turn, WG2E-Land:  So, what kinds of path-changing events influence the characters in your stories? How about in your real life?


EasyFreeAds Blog News Facebook Twitter Myspace Friendfeed Technorati Digg Google Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon


  1. Julie Day says:

    Well, in my YA fantasy ebook The Railway Angel, seeing another teenager risking his life on a railway track makes Lizzie think about how she died and relives her past. This makes her determined to help other teens who die like her and be a good angel.

  2. Adan Lerma says:

    “what kinds of path-changing events influence the characters in your stories? How about in your real life?” -

    i like the way the columns here delineate different aspects of writing, interesting, thanks!

    i guess, in my case, my 3 current series of monthly prose-poems (and one of joined prose-poems each joined to a photo) the path-changing events are the everyday stuff we pass through each day; it can include big stuff that happens, but mainly it’s some little thing each day

    these are in “A Month of Mornings” – “Everyday Gratitude” – and “Everyday Inspirations”

    eventually i’ll work my way back to fiction, but am needing to do this right now; best wishes all ;-)

  3. Lois Lavrisa says:

    Congratulations on the Winter Wonderland anthology! I can’t wait to read all of the great stories, including your Snow Dance!

  4. Diana Layne says:

    I do love ghosts, looks like a cute story! I write a lot of suspense so usually it’s a murder or kidnapping that changes my character’s life. In real life, my theme song used to be I get knocked down by jambawamba. I decided to change it to The Climb by Miley Cyrus to see if that will nix any further life changing events–I’d like to be bored for a while. So far it’s working!

  5. D.D. Scott says:

    This is a great, thought-provoking post, Alicia…well done!

    Let’s see…

    In real life…

    It’s all about synergy for me. The synergy created by continuing to go for the gusto and seeing just where those “ideas” might lead.

    We often talk here at The WG2E about publishing being a bunch of luck, but I firmly believe “you create your own luck”. If you don’t keep tossing your stars into the sky, they can’t align.

    For my characters…

    It’s all about having the guts to dance to their own beat. And it’s not until they have that courage and go for the gusto that their lives do change in ways they never imagined possible.

    Yep…I totally carry-out my own philosophies through my characters too.

    • Thanks, D.D.! As usual, you inspire me and hit the nail right on the head!

      I luuuv this — “If you don’t keep tossing your stars into the sky, they can’t align.”

  6. D.D. Scott says:

    Btw, I’m just luuuvvving all your answers today!!!

    We’re all going to get to know each other a little bit more today…and I adore those kinds of posts and opportunities!

    Again…great job, Alicia!!!

  7. Tamara Ward says:

    I’m with you, Alicia… I never thought I’d get married. Or have kids. And a spur-of-the-moment visit to a (boy) friend’s house brought me into contact with the man I’m still in love with more than a decade later. Yup, we got married… and had kids!

  8. Ruth Harris says:

    DECADES was my first “big book.” It’s the story of a marriage—and a family—in crisis set in the mid 20th Century—from the post WWII 40′s to the go-g0 60′s. The “accident” that inspired the book was that I happened, quite by accident, to know the 3 main characters in real life very, very well. They are: a sexy, successful, restless husband, the shy, somewhat-plain, rich girl he married on his way up, & the glam fashion editor who has a sizzling affair with him (I made her a publishing exec in the book).

    That affair—passionate, dramatic, life-changing for each person involved—was the spine of the novel. I would never have thought to write it unless I heard about that affair from all 3 people involved: the wife, the husband, the glam editor. I added to the personal story, portraits of 3 decades—there’s the title!—that also changed the attitudes, styles, and direction of an entire country.

    One other “accident” drew tons of publisher interest in DECADES. The main situation of the novel was being lived out by not one, but two prominent publishers—”This is my life,” one told me. They competed to pay tons of money for hc & mmpb rights.

    I never planned it, had no idea that my fictional affair reflected the real-life experiences of 2 powerful publishers. All I knew was that fate had handed me an incredible basis for a novel that combined fascinating personal dynamics with an era of profound cultural change.

    PS: The real people who inspired the novel read it, loved it AND HAD NO IDEA IT WAS BASED ON THEM!!!!

  9. Talli Roland says:

    Love this question! For me in real life, my dramatic life turn had to do with an errant BlackBerry ringing up one of my bosses and accidentally taping my rant about her on her voice mail. Oh yes. The universe DID NOT want me to stay in that job! :)

  10. Julie Day says:

    In my real life? Two events. The first was being made redundant two years ago, something I thought would never happen thinking I’d stay in the job for years to come. This led me to concentrate more on my writing and what I want out of it. The second is reading about all these indie author successes, in magazines and on here. It has made me open my eyes to new opportunities and see what else I can do to help me on my writing journey.

  11. Greg Carrico says:

    I love your examples, Alicia, and I totally agree. I find that the stories I enjoy the most are the ones where those subtle, seemingly meaningless decisions later turn out to be a key factor in the plot development. My tolerance is very low for authors who railroad me through a book, with the main character saying “Gosh, I need to do X,” then proceeding to do it in the exactly the way she planned. Boring!

    Mix it up, make me think! Get Dickensian with your characters: “What do you mean I inherited all this money because I gave an escaped convict a piece of cake?”

    • Now we’re talking, Greg! Dickens is a big fave of mine and he hit his author prime in Great Expectations. No one can top him for surprises. And even though he was so many years before Freud, his psychological insights were incredible.

  12. Lee Lopez says:

    Many years ago, I was in a dead-end job, with a failing marriage and three mouths to feed. I was going to quit my dead-end job for another dead-end job that paid a little more money, but didn’t, because it wasn’t worth the commute. If I had taken that job, I would have never gone into law enforcement. I met the person who changed that a month after I decided to stay at my job. She talked about how the Sheriff’s department was hiring. She brought me a application. I never wanted to be a cop. What attracted me was the benefits and money. I filled out the app, and the next thing I knew I was testing, going through the background and physical. I was hired, and had a successful career for over twenty years that gave me the ability to buy a home on my own, put two of three kids through college and I met my husband. It also gave me a excellent retirement package. I was able to retire with full benefits at a early age, which has given me time with my grandkids and to write. All this because I didn’t want to commute.
    I try to bring the same thing into my stories. Those little moment of decision that seem meaningless at the moment, but turn out to be life altering.

    • Thanks for sharing your this, Lee! Yes — “Those little moments of decision that seem meaningless at the moment, but turn out to be life altering.” So true! It’s what makes fiction (and life ) totally magical.

  13. In my Valentine’s Anthology story, my main character leaves her purse in a cab and it changes her life forever. In real life, I went knocking on doors in college looking for someone to tap the keg of beer my roommates and I had bought for a party. I’m now married to the man who tapped our keg over twenty years ago!

  14. I came across a stack of notebooks from college a couple of weekends ago. They were journals on topics of the teachers choosing and there was one where my 19 year old self said in no uncertain terms that I would never change my name. Fast forward 5 years and that’s exactly what I did–my first name, my middle name and eventually my last name–all changed.
    It wasn’t for the greatest reason, especially because I know now that I did it due to a lack of self-confidence–and that realization shows up a lot in my YA stories!

  15. Wow, that’s a big one, Coleen! (Now you’ve got me curious about the original.) But how great is it that you can transform your realization into story material. :)

  16. Matthew Rush says:

    I really enjoyed Snow Dance.

  17. Great topic, Alicia. I’m enjoying reading everyone’s comments. Let’s see. So many unexpected turns in my own life, but the best one reintroduced me to writing books.

  18. Great post, Alicia! In my life? It should have been a little thing. I slipped on some loose gravel 20 years ago. I was sure my ankle was broken so I had someone call the EMTs. The guys that showed up talked me into trying to stand b/c I didn’t act like I was in enough pain for it to really be broken. (High pain tolerance). I was young and stupid and bent to those in authority. When I tried to stand, it crushed my ankle. I’ve had 7 surgeries over the years and am about to have the 8th. This time to fuse it. And I’ll be non-weight bearing for 6 months. However, I’m looking at it as a blessing right now. I have time to write and concentrate on publishing which I’ve never been able to give my full attention in the past. Although I could have used less pain through the years. :-)

    In one of my WIPs, my heroine is doing a routine home visit for an investigation (something she’s done hundreds of times) when she finds herself facing a killer. And in another, two sisters stop at a convenience store and attract the attention of a serial killer. It’s those little choices in life…

  19. Well, look who I found. Hi Alicia!

    Great post girl! I’m so excited for you and for your short story “Snow Dance”!

    What awesome comments you received here. You deserve it! Say hi to Roy! :)

  20. Emma says:

    Alicia, that short story sounds amazing. Best of luck with the anthology and your novels.