Friday, May 14, 2010


I love it when a story idea comes together.

I’ve been working on a new beginning – outlining, jotting down thoughts and ideas, but I was waiting to see my setting before I started the “Once Upon a Time” part. As I was touring, the ideas I had pre-formulated jogged back and forth trying to decide on my best approach and it actually wasn’t until I visited a second, previously unrelated locale, that the story began to take shape. Ideas jumped out at me and I began to make more notes, more outlines and the more I saw and learned, the more the story took shape. Once I knew how the story was going to flow, all the details fell into place, and everything I saw after that seemed to click in line with what I was already building. Sometimes I’m fascinated by how neatly things fit together. It was like that when I wrote The Treasure of St. Paul – once I decided I was going to write about Pompeii and then discovered that St. Paul had been in the region, and the timing of it worked so that “if” St. Paul had the Holy Grail, and his travels took him to Southern Italy before the volcano buried everything, well you get the idea. Once the story starts to roll, it is SO COOL when it almost seems to write itself. Now the research begins, exploring some of the legends already in existence to either incorporate or avoid.

Another fascinating part of the process is the almost bi-polar effect. Example: An agent/editor requests a full/partial of your work and you get so excited – you’re walking on air. Six weeks later comes the rejection in the mail and you’re ready to commit suicide (figuratively speaking, of course). Likewise with writing a story. The idea grabs you and carries you off. You get swept up in the excitement of a new concept and prepare to write, and then the reality strikes. Lots of work, moments where you get stuck or, worse yet, self doubt. Why start writing a story that you might not be able to sell? It can paralyze you and stop you dead in your tracks. But then something magical happens – and it seems to always happen this way for me. Either you get back a query response from someone that wants to see more, or you meet someone that asks you about your writing, or you get a random email from someone that loved your last book, and your balloon is re-inflated. For me, just as I was feeling like I might be wasting my time, I pulled Epitaph out of my bag on the flight home (still checking through and editing for when the editor wants to see the full manuscript after she’s read the partial). I’d already watched the movie and needed to kill another hour when the guy next to me says, “Excuse me, are you a writer?” Being able to talk to someone who understands the roller coaster ride gives you the strength to step forward and begin again because, even if no one ever reads the next book, this is what I love to do. Creative outlet, doncha know.

For the record, I think I’ve got something special with this next story. It isn’t just something to keep me going until a brilliant idea lights up over my head. It IS that brilliant idea that, to my way of thinking, is something completely new and different, and hopefully high concept enough to be that breakthrough novel. Stepping out onto the precipice, ready for the additional research and starting the “Once Upon a Time” phase. Here’s hoping the vision I have translates to paper as clearly as I see it in my head!

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