My first novel was easy. I slid a fresh piece of paper into my Smith Corona and began with Chapter One. I kept writing until I reached the end of the story. Easy as pie. I think that manuscript lies deep in some closet in the house, where it belongs. R.I.P.

Now, after many published articles and devotionals, I’m a bit wiser as I learned a bit over the years. And then there’s Word, a boon to every writer on the face of the earth. The delete key emerged as my weapon of choice, and the send key eliminates trips to the post office.

Now that The Divine Meddler is in the final edit stage, I’ve concluded writing a novel for publication is a bit like having a baby. It’s great fun to make, but labor to deliver. I decided to share its saga with you.

The Nugget

I received one of those delightful letters consigning me to jury duty. Ugh. Is there ever a good time for one of those? It was for a capital murder case in Rochester and I, along with hundreds of potential jurors, arrived at the Hall of Justice at the appointed time to fill out a massive questionnaire. By the time I finished, I decided I would appeal to neither the defense nor the prosecution.

Because my husband had worked for 40 years in the Monroe County Crime Lab as a forensic chemist (a real CSI), he testified in every court in Rochester and the five surrounding counties. I don’t think there was an attorney, DA, magistrate/judge that did not know him. Why would a defense attorney want the wife of such a crime fighter on the jury?

Also, I don’t believe in capital punishment. Why would a DA want to waste time with me? Nevertheless, there I was, sitting in the jury box, being questioned as a potential juror. The judge asked the first question.

“Mrs. LeDoux, can you be objective in this case?”

“Yes. But if there is scientific evidence, about which I know nothing, and both an expert witness and a scientist from the crime lab testify, I’ll always believe the scientist from the lab because I know how brilliant they are.”

Maybe I was just a little prejudiced? Well, the attorneys clustered at the judge’s bench, and I heard one say, “and she doesn’t believe in capital punishment, either.”

I told the truth, and the truth set me free.

The Great “What if?”

Enter the writer’s great question: What if?………………

Could we find a better solution to death row, or life imprisonment? Both are hugely expensive for the taxpayer, what with appeals and general yearly cost per prisoner. Is there a better alternative to executions? What if the state executed a person in every way except physically? The spouse inherits and gains widow or widower status. Beyond basic medical care, there is no need for a trip to the hospital. Corpses don’t need hospitals. There is no legal access or communication with the outside world–ever. No TV, phone, internet, or mail delivery. Nada.

The person works for his keep, which is food, shelter, clothing. What must the guards be like? They will either be spiritually evolved or sadists with free reign, because everyone on the outside considers the prisoners dead.

By the time I created this strange world, I ended up in a medieval styled monastery. And therein lay the genesis of The Divine Meddler. My protagonist, like his fellow prisoners, must eventually face the living God with nothing worldly to cushion him from his past or his conscience. I imagine some felons would prefer death. How will God deal with such a one as Lou Skalney? Why do some people occasionally disappear during the night? Are the monks sadists or spiritual guides?

In my next Books and Writers blog, I will take you on my journey through creating characters, plot twists, and movement through the tale’s arc.

And this is the fun part!