Maybe Mayberry this Year!

The Quantum Leap I took Writing my Book

In 1996, I had an idea for a book. It came from 2 stories I heard growing up. Both featured a woman who killed herself by self-immolation. Both were in NH, one in the 1940’s and one was in 1960’s. One was told by my maternal Grandfather and one by my father. My father embraced the story-telling tradition of his northern native and french ancestors, he was not above embellishing -even to the detriment of a good true story. My Grandfather was an honorable man with strict ideas of right and wrong, his word was generally trusted. So, one story might be my father competing with my Grandfather, except the people were well-known and it would be easy to check. I have not been able to find any hint of either story online or in newspapers.

But, the stories stuck with me and one day after a typical bizarre Mayberry encounter while delivering meals on wheels, I idly wondered what if two random, good women suddenly killed themselves by self immolation in contemporary Mayberry? So, I sat down and wrote it. I even added in another death by fire but this one was an obvious murder, which revealed the others to be murders.

Halfway through the books I decided to write a series since there was too much going on in my fictional Mayberry to work in one book. So, I wrote in an odd collection of superfluous characters and took the first of many steps I took to murder my book!

The next steps were to buy a bunch of very good books on writing and editing. It wasn’t these books, it was mainly me, I began editing without knowing what I was doing. I killed the baby, my book! But, I wouldn’t admit it and went on to try to revive it for a few years. Two years ago, I buried it and started a new book, a paranormal in Boston. This time when I realized it too could be a series, I started adding new characters and the book got sick. Before killing it, I put it into a self-induced coma and reviewed my process. About this time, I discovered Scrivener. So, now an idea for a new book with new characters goes into a New Project File. If any of this has a legitimate use, if a character works for the current book, I’ll add him, if not he’s in the future books file.

So, after a year of RWA contests and lessons, I feel like I am finally on track. Still screwing up? Oh, yeah, but recouping fast. Back to Mayberry with cold war sleeper agents and spies. I spent 4 months writing this book and that means I can spend another 5 months on it. I am also finding I can use parts of the dead book, it’s almost like they were written for it.

So, I can now see a bright light at the end of the tunnel and I am carefully approaching it with deliberate intent.


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