Thinking back to the seeds of my latest novel, Fury From Hell, I smile. The idea for the novel came to me while I was actively seeking a topic so I could take part in that November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
I was in the City crossing the street on Madison and 43rd Street a late Spring day in 2012. It was warm and the sun was lowering in the sky so there were shadows to be seen here and there. There was street construction that day. A large orange and white chute blocked a lane and a plume of steamy heat curled up to the blue sky dotted with streaks of white clouds.
Watching the smoke curl up, I wondered what if within the steam was a demon that infused itself into unsuspecting women as they walked on cracks on the glasphalt sidewalk. I giggled at my silliness. But, something clicked. I went back to the office and began outlining a novel — the Glasphalt Fury. Over time, the idea morphed and re-shaped itself many times.
By the time November came around, I had both an awesome experienced NaNoWriMo mentor and a full outline for this paranormal cop thriller. That month was the very first time in my life where I wrote three times a day — morning, noon and night! It was a nerve-wracking caffeine-filled 30 days that went by in a blur. SuperStorm Sandy kind of went by in a blur for me as I was so busy writing (my lights only flickered, they never fully went out).
By December 1st, I thought I had a great manuscript but it needed to be finished. It was just over 51K words. But, by this time, I was exhausted! I just came through a month of no sleep and more coffee ingestion than ever before in my life. I slept for the first few days and then the holidays were upon us. By January 3rd, I found out I was pregnant with my third child! The book had to be put on hold as I processed this new development in my life.
In the Spring of 2013, I found renewed vigor to get the Glasphalt Fury finished and edited. I was 7 months pregnant and trying to edit while battling fatigue after working my day job. I finished the edits and began sending off the manuscript to agents and publishers. Needless to say, it did not go well. Why? Because, I rushed my manuscript. I wanted the birth of my child to coincide with the “birth” of my new novel.
Every thing has its own gestation period and I was trying to incubate the book way to fast for its development cycle! After 23 rejections, or was it 26?? I felt I had to revisit what I was submitting especially since two of the rejections came back with very useful and helpful critique.
I decided to take a Gotham Writing course to help me figure out what this manuscript was missing. The course KICKED my butt! It was tough too realize that I wasn’t a perfect writer! LOL.
One of the exercises in the course was to write a line of description of the sky above where you were at that moment. My sentence was 46 words long. 🙂 [One of my classmates beat me — theirs was 76 words long!]
Clearly, I had a problem.
Long story short, writing this novel was a lesson for me. This novel is technically my third full-length novel. I did not complete the 1st one. The second one had technical difficulties and this third one suffered from baby-brain! Through it all, I learned a lot! I know what to do and when I have to allow my MUSE to gestate and let the novel percolate in my subconsciousness — this is a must or else you run the risk of allowing your BRAIN to write instead of your writing muse. Please never let your brain write! That is, unless you are writing a fact-based article.
Through this whole long 22-month process, the book went from being titled “Glasphalt Fury” to Fury From Hell. It was a stand-alone novel and it is now a series following Detectives Jennifer Holden and Betty Feinster as they solve murders on the streets of Brooklyn and battle demons vying for their souls.
Fury From Hell’s theme spins on the age-old conflict — good vs. evil. Holden is an atheist who has baggage in her childhood that keeps following her around. That baggage leads to her possession by Fury Abatu and brings Holden to the attention of both the evil denizens of the Hell and the human warriors of good here on Earth — modern-day witches.
This book has not always been fun for me to write but the process has been deeply empowering. I went from hating this book immensely (because it made me WORK!) to loving it almost as much as I love my now 1-year-old daughter.
To summarize, the journey of bringing a novel from an ephemeral idea to a fully realized book with a cover and blurb is not charted out in a static formula. No matter how many novels you write the journey for each one will be vastly different. Each book brings something to the fore in your life that needs your attention now.
Thank you all for sharing your thoughts with me on Twitter and FB these last few months. I can’t wait to hear more of your stories of how you helped your novels come into being.
Ta-ta for now,