Don’t worry if Humanities Instructor Nicole Sarrocco seems a little distracted in these next few weeks. November is National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, when writers challenge themselves to complete a novel by writing 1,600 words each day for a month. Between classes, grading, and her two kids at home, Sarrocco is doing her best to participate by snagging 5 minutes of writing time here, 15 minutes there each day.
And then there are the events around her brand new book. A published poet and celebrated playwright and screenwriter, Sarrocco has become a novelist with the release of Lit by Lightning: An Occasionally True Account of One Girl’s Dust-ups with Ghosts, Electricity, and Granny’s Ashes (Chatwin Books, November 2015).
Lit by Lightning is the product of NaNoWriMo in 2013. After five years of teaching at NCSSM, Sarrocco left in 2010 so that she and her husband, Jason, could help her mother run the family business. While handling accounts payable and human resources, Sarrocco needed a creative outlet, so she took on the NaNoWriMo challenge. That first day she sat down and decided to build on recent Facebook posts she’d written about her strange experiences at the grocery store. “I was getting 50 ‘likes’ from those posts,” she remembers. “If it makes people feel better or laugh, that’s great. There’s not much more I can want from writing.”
“I just sat down, I didn’t plan anything, and I wrote what was on my mind that day,” she says. At the end of the month, she sent the manuscript off to her editor friend Phil Bevis at Chatwin Books. He liked it. The publisher describes the novel as “an intensely personal and strangely universal tale of finding grace in chaos, creating meaning from nonsense, and for heaven’s sake not making too much of a spectacle of yourself. A witty, hilarious, transcendent, and disturbing tale of ghosts, manners, and the family we choose and the ones who choose us.”