And one day, it coalesces, and you flesh it out until it's ready to hit your editor's desk.
Then there are some ideas that run you over like a freight train.
That's what happened to me last week, while I was at the World Fantasy Con in San Diego.
As a superstitious person, I'm not going to spill the beans about just what it is. But I will tell you it's a ghost story (Whoo! Love!) and it's an urban fantasy (Double whoo!).
How did this one happen? Well, my fellow paranormal writer Linda Thomas-Sundstrom and I were having lunch with a wonderful fantasy author who shall remain anonymous when we got into a powerful conversation about the death penalty. When Linda and I were walking back to the workshop area, we exchanged thoughts, as you do, then veered into a related subject: true crime books, like the ones written by Ann Rule. I asked Linda if she had read any John Douglas books, in particular THE CASES THAT HAUNT US. I told her about the stories in it--Jon Benet Ramsey, Jack the Ripper, OJ Simpson.... Linda paused, then referred back to the title of the book as well as our main topic, saying something that jerked me toward this new idea (and, yes, I am remaining vague here on purpose.
I blurted out the concept of the book, because it was triggered that quickly, and Linda and I stared at each other for a second then started laughing maniacally. She said jokingly, "If you use that, you have to acknowledge me." I said I would dedicate the book to her, LOL.
Then the idea started to get fleshed out in my head. The next morning, I just happened to have breakfast with my Ace editor, Ginjer Buchanan, and I pitched the idea to her. She wants a proposal. :)
Fingers crossed, you all. I hope to have an outline and three chapters done by the end of the year!