I eat, sleep, and breathe music. It’s no secret. Music is the plot of one of my most successful series. And it was music that guided me through the harrowing process of writing A Hustler’s Promise 3. Let me go back a bit…
When A Hustler’s Promise 2 was released, I felt like the two-part book was complete. I never intended to make it a series and I loved how it ended. There was nothing else to write about. Apparently, my readers didn’t think so. Not all of them but enough were vocal enough (and some not so nice about it either) that I decided to attempt a part 3, a finale.
For months, I couldn’t come up with a plot good enough to be blessed with the title A Hustler’s Promise 3. So I put it aside.
Disappointed with how my last series performed, I decided to revisit my old characters and see if they could help jump start my creativity. I started working out plot ideas for a few different set of characters. I thought I had something going with Jaicyn and Rayshawn and decided to write.
Things were going well. Readers were thrilled to know that I was bringing back their beloved couple. I had a great cover and a great story. Then tragedy struck. I’m not being dramatic. I’m an author and losing a third of your novel because of a technical glitch in your writing software is considered a tragedy in my world.
Here’s where music came into play and changed everything for me.
While I was dwelling on what I’d lost, I was watching television. I happened to catch an UNSUNG documentary on Bone Thugs N Harmony. I LOOOVVVE me some Bone. I always have. I feel a serious connection to Bone because they are from Cleveland, OH which is about 90 minutes away from my hometown of Youngstown, OH. As I was watching their story and reliving those moments I spent listening to their music on repeat when I was teenager, it wasn’t nostalgia that I was feeling. I felt homesick for the first time in a long looonnnng time. I think it was because Bone is so inherently Ohio. Everything about them screams Cleveland, Ohio and that is something I relate to because no matter how long I’ve been in the South, I have not lost my Ohio-ness.
The places and characters in A Hustler’s Promise are all based on my hometown. Some of the situations that my characters face are deeply personal because I’ve lived through them. And hearing what was basically the soundtrack of those days of my life made me want to finish A Hustler’s Promise 3. I’d lost a third of my book but I didn’t want to give up.
So, over the course of a couple of weeks, I sat at my desk, blasting my entire Bone Thugs N Harmony collection and being inspired. The music felt like home. It made writing about the expericences I had back when I was doing what I was doing a little easier. So I wrote. Whether it was good or bad, I wrote. I eventually started telling the story how it needed to be told. I didn’t think about what I’d lost.
One of the most important elements of this series is the city of Washington Heights and the people in it. The cast of characters are people who I knew and grew up with. They are people who I’ve loved and lost in the streets, and although I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent (and guilty), they will live forever in the pages of the three novels that make up the A Hustler’s Promise series. And I felt like I’d be letting them and my city down if I failed to end this series properly.
What started out as a book written solely for the readers turned into a series that I am sad to see end, but I know that I poured my heart out for my city. And it was music, the close connection that I have with this one particular group, that brought it all together.