March 1 and my newest release comes out today. For this, I am grateful. Midnight Confessions was not what some of us call "gimme books", but I got to write it exactly the way it was conceived, which in itself is something for which to be thankful. The situation, some of the characters, the idea of a heroine living with ghosts. Salacious ones, at that. It all came to me at once.
I was at a writing retreat, something the four us call "The Red Door." For a few years now, we've been getting together quarterly for weekend retreats. When one of us (we all write different types of stories in different way)needs to come up with a new idea we'll sit away from the others and use 4x6 cards to prime the pump of creativity. Random words appear in our heads and we jot them, one word per card until we have about 8 or 10 cards. To brainstorm ideas we take the cards back into the group and simply say them out loud one at a time.
The only rule we have is that we don't invest anything in the words themselves. Unlike having a proposal or synopsis to work on, we have nothing but abstract thoughts/words/ideas. It's an amazing process. Simple but effective.
We jot notes on the others' reactions to the words. This works incredibly well. The author with the cards will often develop a thread to a story this way. No defense maneuvers are taken because nothing is invested in the thread. No one holds back comments because since nothing is invested we're not going to step on toes or hijack an idea or try to put our own direction on someone else's story. It's a perfect, clean, clear brainstorming tool.
Except for Midnight Confessions, a concept that landed almost fully formed as I sat in the small backyard, pen poised over my first card, clearing my mind so *one* word could appear to me. Instead, I got the entire concept for the novel (which ended up being the first of a series).
I tried to put random words on my cards, I really did. But no matter how I tried to avoid investing in this idea I only put down words on my cards that followed the haunted mansion theme, the idea of ghosts who refused to leave, a madam with her own agenda, a heroine at a crossroads.
So, Red Door pen warriors I am eternally grateful for you. And for that particular day when I bent the only rule we have for that exercise.
Although I felt I had something precious in my head, I was still unsure what my editor would think. Dark paranormal being all the rage, I wasn't sure she'd like the lighter tone I brought to my ghost stories. She didn't even blink! Gave me the go-ahead on nothing more than an email that use: A gleam in my eye...in the subject line.
Freedom to write the story as I saw it, was a gift I'll never forget.
And so, now, today, Midnight Confessions is released to the world.
And I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to bring it to the page in much the way I first envisioned it. It was much easier to conceive the book than it was to write it, but with some of the kind reviews I've been getting, I think I just may have pulled it off.
Is that a "gimme book"? I don't know, but I'm not sure I'll see the like again.