Abigail's Song was unplanned and unexpected, a bit like a pregnancy that happens in the story. And sort of like a woman in that situation, I had to consider my options. After publishing A Girl with a Knife, I was supposed to be working
on the next book in the series, No Job for a Woman. A good number of reviews
ended with “I can’t wait for the next book!” Readers expected Ella’s new
While I imagined and researched what could happen to Ella on her ship
voyage, I gave myself a month to explore other ideas. The marketing courses I
took recommended writing a reader magnet: a novella of around 15k-20k words offered
for free to entice readers to join my newsletter. And yes, join my monthly
newsletter. It’s fantastic, and you will get a free book.
I started a list of ideas for this reader magnet (some
writers call it a ‘cookie’). When I thought of expanding on how Abigail got
sick and came to the hospital, I found my story. I challenged myself and wrote
in the first person, something I’ve never done before. Writing came easily,
almost effortlessly. Eight chapters flowed together. The word count for a novella
was met, but the story wasn’t complete. Not by a long shot. I didn’t even know
where it was going. Was it supposed to end with Abigail being adopted? Or was
that where her journey started? My imagination kept showing me a Jewish wedding scene,
but I wasn’t sure if Abigail was the bride, and who was the groom.
When in doubt, I go to the basics: Save the Cat beat sheet (it’s
a fantastic tool for novel structure). The beat sheet forces the writer to
think not only about what happens, but why it happens. What is the problem
Abigail needs to solve? What lesson does she learn? The theme was so obvious,
yet it took me a while to see it. Abigail’s major lesson was about prejudice,
something I’ve experienced firsthand, growing up Jewish in the Soviet Union.
Once I realized it, I knew my book would be a full novel, and I wouldn’t stop
until the first draft was done. Ella’s voyage had to wait.
The experience of writing was magical. I would get up at 5 a.m.
and head to my computer without a vague idea what this writing session would bring.
As I added to the last thing I wrote, a curtain would rise to reveal the next
scene. The characters acted out their parts, and I described what they’d done,
even when they gave me a shock.
After weighing my options, I put Abigail's manuscript away and returned to it a year later (not something we can do with a pregancy) When I reread it, I was conflicted. This story was such a departure from Ella’s adventures. And Abigail was a very different type of heroine than Ella. Before leaving her home, Ella had all advantages of a daughter of a nobleman. Abigail was born into poverty, and even as a child had to help her mother earn their next meal.While Ella shunned social norms for a woman, Abigail wanted to live them. Independent Ella pursued her career. A gentler spirit, Abigail played piano without ambitions of performing and fantasized about marrying the man she loved. Two very different heroines, but both are strong women that will save the day.
Strange coincidences signaled to me I should finish Abigail's Song. A detailed book on Chatham and its history, that wasn’t available a year before, suddenly reappeared in Amazon store. By coincidence, the author’s last name is Fridman, the same as the name of the Jewish family who adopted Abigail (it was also my grandfather’s last name).
the strangest of those signs occurred. After one writing session, the landline
phone that lay on my desk beeped like someone was dialing a number. There was
no one in the room but me. Spooky! Although, I don’t remember being scared. I
looked at the phone screen, and it showed the number 44. I googled what the
number could signify, and it means that my angels are close and are helping me
achieve my goals. Later that day, my daughter begged me to stop by McDonald’s
so she could dip her fries into ice cream like some TikTok star recommended. We
got the order number 44. Twice in one day! I took it as a sign that Abigail's story must be told.