Sunday, November 14, 2010

Merrie Destefano talks her journey to Afterlife

We have a winner! I let Merrie pick a random winner and the name she gave me is Kathy, who commented second. Kathy I will be emailing you soon! Thanks everyone for making my first guest blog a success!

Yeah, so I said I was posting Merrie's guest blog Thursday. Well, I lied... No, I didn't, I changed my mind when I checked my email, (about a minute ago) saw an email from Merrie containing her guest blog and didn't want to wait putting it up.

Also Merrie has offered a signed copy of Afterlife to one lucky commenter and as a bonus I will be throwing in an Afterlife themed bracelet or necklace I made. In the book people can be resurrected up to nine times and my concept was you get a bracelet (or necklace, wearer's choice) with one bead and each time you resurrect you add another bead. Silver nuts are placed between each life bead. The one in the picture is a Nine-timer bracelet. Please leave your email and whether you want a bracelet or necklace so we can contact the winner.

That said, without further ado here is Merrie! Drumroll please!

My Journey to Publication
By Merrie Destefano

Patricia asked me to share a little bit about my journey to publication.

I wish I was one of those people who could slam out a book in three months, whose first draft was pretty near perfect. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The truth of the matter is, I drive my writing group nuts. What book is this, they’ll ask after I start reading a few pages for critique. Oh, it’s the same book, I’ll tell them, just completely different.

I have a tendency to write and rewrite and then write some more, changing names and moving characters around and slashing plot lines. While it might seem like I’m having a great time, throwing away thousands of words at a time, I’m not.

I’m driving everyone I know, me included, nuts. They probably all wish that I would take up something meaningful to do in my spare instead of write. Something like playing miniature golf. Or raising bonsai trees. Or studying organic chemistry.

Just in case you don’t believe me, listen to the genesis of Afterlife: The Resurrection Chronicles.

In the first draft—under the title, White Burn—this story took place on Mars. (Do I hear snickers already?) It was a detective story, where the main character was tracking down a cult leader who had stolen a serum that could raise the dead. Besides falling into the hands of a dangerous cult leader, this serum also happened to be stolen by a gang leader, which led to one grisly gang war—a little bit like The Night of the Living Dead. Only on Mars.

Needless to say, that book didn’t garner much attention from agents or editors.

In the second draft—under the title, Once to Die—the story was moved to Los Angeles. Here, I had a homicide detective, a woman named Addy, chasing a serial killer who could raise the dead. This story must have been tighter and better written, because at least a few editors talked to me at this point. They even smiled. Right before they told me, no way were they going to publish this book. One of them was even kind enough to give me a few pointers. He said something like, try setting it in the future and throw out everything except the resurrection drug.

I confess, I’m the brooding sort, so I mulled and groused over his well-meaning rejection. I thought about it for so long that I actually came up with a story idea based on that simple one-line suggestion.

In Afterlife, I built a future where the technology for resurrection has been around for awhile, long enough for it to have a serious impact on our culture, our major world religions, our family system, our judicial system, you name it. After working on the story for a month or so, I realized that if I removed this one small element—death—from our culture, it changed everything.

Writing the actual book took me about a year and a half, with the prerequisite three-four month period of writer’s block tossed in the mix. Once I found my agent, Kimberley Cameron, she sold my book in a relatively short time period to Diana Gill of Eos/HarperCollins. I think we sold the book in August, 2009, and the book comes out in September, 2010.

Afterlife is a Hydra of sorts: one part urban fantasy, one part romance, one part science fiction, one part mystery. It’s a tale about a man who watches over people during that fragile first week after resurrection, when memories from previous lives are still sifting to the surface. And it’s a story about the woman who has just resurrected, who holds a secret in her subconscious that could change the world.

But for me, it’s a story that tells me that my wild and disorganized writing process somehow manages to work. Even though I drive a lot of people nutty along the way.


  1. elizabethgr@sbcglobal.netNovember 14, 2010 at 8:51 PM

    At least you went forward and published your writings. I have so much trouble with mine. I can write the first few pages or paragraphs or a chapter, then I get lost. I see it more in my head, but I can't put it down on paper, or even compter, as everyone else can.

    The story sounds like it would a be a good read, espeicalliy knowing the changes it went throught.

    continued success with this book and others in the future.

    Elizabeth Gray

  2. Forgot to specify which form I would like the Afterlife bracelet or necklace. I do believe the necklace, but the bracelet would be just fine as well.

  3. I'm glad you went for it and published your writings. The book seems like a great read. Hope to hear more about you in the future. I like the bracelet best. I don't wear many necklaces, but I do wear bracelets. E-mail:

  4. Hi Merrie! Thanks for sharing this journey with us. Very interesting and heartening. You finally got there! And the final version of your book sounds great! Best of luck with sales. I'll be looking for it at my local bookstore.


  5. Hi, everyone! Thanks so much for stopping by Patricia's blog today. =)

    Patricia, I LOVE your jewelry idea. What an awesome concept. I could totally see the characters in AFTERLIFE wearing something like this.

  6. Sounds like a great book! :) I've looked at it at work and added it to my wishlist. It was interesting to hear about your writing process. Thank you for sharing. I'm working on a story right now for NaNoWriMo. This is partially started WIP #3. I really didn't want to have 3 going at once, but there you go. lol

    bookmaedin at yahoo dot com

  7. Elizabethgr,
    Hi! I just wanted to encourage you in your desire to write. It could be that your problem is coming from not plotting out your story. Have you ever read PLOT & STRUCTURE by James Scott Bell? He's an awesome writer and writing teacher. I have problems with plotting too. We all have our weaknesses when it comes to writing, but you will only get stronger through practice and study. Best wishes on your writing!

  8. Merrie, yippeee!! So excited for you. Can't wait to read the book. This sounds like it could be a great series of books.:)

    xo Lidy

  9. Sounds quite interesting; I'd love to read this one! (Wearing my new necklace, of course).

  10. Love the concept. It amazes me what can get the creative juices flowing. No, I am not personally creative, I just enjoy the creativity of others. Putting this book on my wish list - along with the bracelet.
    troublelore at gmail dot com

  11. Great Post, thanks. Its interesting to hear the authors journey. I would love the bracelet if I win thanks.
    natcleary at gmail dot com

  12. please enter me if its international

    Merrie's book has been on my wish list for a little while and it does sound awesome. I like the fact that you struggled with it, it means you didn't get it published until it was 'just right'
    Patricia, the jewelery is a neat idea too...bracelet looks awesome

  13. Wow, thanks everyone who has commented! (I seriously thought I wouldn't get a single comment and would have no one to award the prizes too.) I grinned like an idiot when I was done reading.
    And thanks again to Merrie. I love the journey you had to go through to make Afterlife into what it is. It encourages me to keep trying no matter what in hopes that one day (hopefully soon) my story will be what it needs to be.
    Oh and I think I should mention I'll keep the contest open until Nov 18th and then either Merrie or I can pick a winner.
    Thanks again everyone!

  14. Holy Moly Patty! You've got followers! :D I am almost done with my super awesome preview of your story. It's pretty good so far. I just discovered your blog on Facebook today. Shows you how much I pay attention :/
    I've never read Afterlife (my apologies to Merrie, I'm going to hit up Amazon I promise!) I usually read anything Patty recommends, she's pretty good at picking out good ones! But I think it is VERY cool that you took time to write on Patty's blog. Patty, one of these days you're going to be someone's guest blogger :D

  15. FrenchGardenHouse,
    Hi, sweetie! Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Cath's Chatter,
    I'm going to leave the final decision about shipping up to Patricia, but I am totally willing to ship internationally. I always forget to mention that. I promise I will learn soon. =)

  17. I'm up for shipping international so why not?

  18. Awesome giveaway! Well it sounds like Merry kept at it tell she got it right and I've seen nothing but good reviews for this book. I have it on my TBR list. I'm excited to read this and thanks very much for the contest. Please enter me into this giveaway. I'd love to have the bracelet, great idea about the resurrection beads =) Very cool!