Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Power of Serendipity

Today's a two-post day.

The first post is about serendipity--those rare moments when everything just seems to come together.

I keep an "ideas" folder. Whenever I hear an interesting story or read an article that piques my interest, I cut the story out or note the details on an index card and stick it in my ideas folder.

A couple of months ago, I had to have physical therapy on my right knee, which I'd injured in an electricity outage in a thunderstorm.

During a rehab session, while my right leg was in a massaging boot, I read an article about a police department scandal. I was intrigued enough to stop by my local Half Price Books and pick up the magazine the story had appeared in. I cut the article out and filed it in my folder.

For the past six months, I've been struggling with the concept of my "brand." While I've been extremely disciplined about learning to understand the publishing industry, I have not been as disciplined when it came to the type of manuscript I write and developing recognition as a writer who is known for that particular type of manuscript.

The problem is that I love to try my hand at writing various genres according to my mood and whim. The push/pull for me has been to develop a focus that I can then begin branding for a potential readership.

No matter what I've played at writing over the past half year, I keep returning to thrillers. My passion is to write contemporary suspense novels (with a lot of sexy romance along the way).

So, at RWA National, I made a point of attending the workshops devoted to romantic suspense. I sat in on classes given by Karen Rose, Robin Perini, Madeline Hunter and Brenda Novak. I left RWA feeling energized and ready to write a new contemporary suspense novel.

Since Sunday afternoon when I got home, I've written 5,000 words on what I'm temporarily calling "Blair's Story."

My critique partner, Jeanne Laws, read the first few pages and emailed me the comment: "I don’t know where you’re going with it, but this is gold so far."

Yesterday, while I was eating lunch and editing the first twenty pages, I listened to a NPR radio interview. KERA, my local station, was interviewing women police officers. The program caught my attention, and I stopped editing to listen. Krys Boyd, a local commentator, mentioned that there would be a lecture on "Women in Law Enforcement" last night at 7:00 PM at the Sixth Floor Museum (the spot from which Lee Harvey Oswald shot John F. Kennedy).

I immediately changed my plans for the evening to permit me to attend.

The program focused on three current and past Dallas policewomen: a Hispanic woman who was the first to ride in a two-woman patrol car and who was the only woman to ever head up the Dallas Police Association; an African-American woman who was one of the first six women officers to go into the field in Dallas (Dallas and Washington, D.C. were the first major cities to put women on patrol in 1972); and an Anglo woman lieutenant who now is in charge of the night shift in the Dallas Central Business District. I sat in the audience beside a woman who was formerly an ATF agent in Dallas.

The material these women offered was FABULOUS. I took notes until my right hand cramped. I also got the business cards of the lieutenant and the ATF agent, who agreed to let me call them.

I can't wait to get back to writing Blair's Story. I have a sense of purpose, a sense of excitement and the happiness that comes from knowing I'm on the right track.

I'm bringing a yellow legal pad with me to jury duty today in case I spend time waiting in a pool. I'm ready to write this sucker.

Always be on the lookout for your next novel. Sometimes serendipity will pop up to help you.

Read on for today's second post below.


Shannon Canard said...

This sounds exciting! And isn't it the best feeling when events and influences seem to fall into place, causing your story to take off? Makes the world seem like a magical place.

Good luck!

Maya Reynolds said...

Hi, Shannon: I was sorry not to get a chance to run into you at RWA National.

I enjoy reading your blog.

Maria Zannini said...

Good for you, Maya! I can't wait to read it.


shelley said...

That does sound exciting. I know I'm struggling with the same branding issues. My muse hates to settle on one thing. I'm thinking genre blends might work for me. All the best with your WIP.

Maya Reynolds said...

Maria and Shelley: Thanks for the good wishes. I'm so pleased.