Sometimes ideas come from the most unexpected places and times.
Always be prepared for the Muse to send you searching for a pen and something to write it down on so you won't forget it. Stuffed inside a drawer of my desk are hundreds of notes written on grocery receipts, restaurant napkins, corners torn off other papers, and yes, even toilet tissue (I won't go there with that one).
A great resource for characters and stories is found in our personal lives, experiences, our secret desires. However, this cannot be used excessively because then our characters become clones of us which eventually will become very very boring. (unless of course, you have a golden and charming personality...then by all means exploit that.)
My daughter read my short story, "Sassafras Summer" over at AuthorStand.com and said she saw me in the character. The character is male, but still I came through somehow. I was glad she said that she saw it because she knows me....whew.
We never know when a book idea, character idea, etc will pop out at us. Yesterday, after talking with my neighbor's five year old, I now have the title and story for another children's picture book.
Writing is such an adventure!