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Monday, October 12, 2015

From NaNoWriMo to Twitter to Published! - a guest post by DJ Davis

Note from Liana: November is National Novel Writing Month. Several of my books started as NaNo projects. THE DAY BEFORE wasn't, but it was written NaNo-style one crazy February, and I love the idea of a fast first draft. You can't edit a blank page! To help persuade those who are sitting on the fence debating the merits of NaNo I've invited several published authors to share their experience at taking a book from the 50,000-words-in-a-month challenge of NaNo to finished product on the shelf. Our first guest is crime write DJ Davis

On November 1, 2013, I sat down at my computer for my third year of NaNoWriMo. I had a blank screen and a goal to write 50,000 words in thirty days. As a confirmed “pantser” I had no plan. I wanted to write about a dog, I knew that much. And I had a title in mind, Courageous Cain. That was it, the big plan. A dog story.

Thirty days. That’s 1,666.666 words a day. Okay, maybe it’s better not to think about all those sixes. I didn’t write every day. I’m human. I have a job. I need a break sometimes. I also have bouts of insomnia so I wrote a lot at night. But I made it, and then some. At the end of the month I had over 70,000 words. I also had a manuscript that was taking on a life of its own. I kept up my November writing pace for another six weeks until I came to those two magical words, “The End.” What a feeling!

So now I had a 130,000 word… mess. A first draft mess. This was my first manuscript which showed any real promise and I found myself deep in the jungle of revision and editing. My best writing buddy and critique partner (Trace, know you who you are!) helped tremendously. What a job that was! After seven months I offered it to other test readers and they liked it, too. So I began learning how to write query letters.

I started slowly and queried a dozen agents over the next two months. I received a few nice rejections, some form rejections and that was it. Then one day I heard about a book pitching event on Twitter called Pitmad which was founded by Brenda Drake.

Outside of having some fun on Facebook, social media isn’t my strong point at all. Pitmad was to be held on September 9, 2014, just a couple days away. I had never been on Twitter, but I wanted to give it a try, so I signed up. My first tweets were pitches for pitmad. Two were favorited, which meant somebody was interested in my story! One was an agent and one was an ebook publisher, Champagne Books. I sent the required query to both. The agent kindly rejected me. The publisher wanted to see my manuscript. While they were reading it I was researching them and found nothing but good things.

Champagne Books offered me a contract. My first finished manuscript had a publisher and I was in writerly heaven! It was like having a new family. Everyone was warm and welcoming and I was honored to join such talented authors. I was handed over to an editor, the wonderful Nikki Andrews. She made spot-on suggestions and corrections that improved the book and my skills all the while coaching a newbie to the ebook publishing world.

My debut novel, COURAGEOUS CAIN, was released on September 7, 2015. Nearly two years from that first day of November when I sat down to a blank screen and blinking cursor. I’m now learning how to promote an ebook, another step on this amazing journey.

I’m still a beginner, honing my skills and finding my style. I won last year’s NaNoWriMo and again spent months (though not quite as many as I was more prepared with a three sentence premise) editing my story. I think it has a future. I’m excited for this year’s November madness. This time I’m going in with a simple outline. I hope to see you there.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations! I still remember the excitement I felt when my first manuscript was accepted. Once you get the hang of promoting its pretty easy.