Hello! Welcome to the fourth post in my blog mini-series: The Creation of a Novel, where I’ll be sharing behind-the-scenes information about my upcoming debut novel, Waltz in the Wilderness. I hope you’ll join me on this journey toward launching my story into the world and leave your questions and thoughts in the comments section below. I love connecting with readers!
So far I’ve written about two of the most common questions an author hears and shared a tidbit about the history of mail delivery in 1850s San Francisco. If you missed those posts, you can find post one here and post two here and post three here.
Have you heard of NaNoWriMo? It’s an acronym that stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a month when thousands of novelists sign up to cheer each other on toward the goal of writing 50,000 words or more in a single month. That month happens to be November and well, that rarely works for my schedule. I have four young children whom I homeschool and I think we all know how crazy the holiday season can be, especially with kids. So I’m glad that a few years back I discovered something called Camp NaNoWriMo.
Camp NaNoWriMo is different from regular NaNoWriMo for two very important reasons. First, during standard NaNoWriMo it’s all about the novel and all the writers who sign up are feverishly typing away toward the goal of completing a novel. While that works for me (obviously) that doesn’t work for other writers whose goals involve producing articles, poems, essays, or any other type of writing you can imagine. During Camp NaNoWriMo all forms of writing are welcome.
The second reason Camp NaNoWriMo is different is the reason I like it so much: it happens twice a year in April and July. Yes! Now those are months I can work with. In April my kids typically get two weeks off from school for spring break and in July we’re usually enjoying our summer vacation. That means this homeschooling mama is freed from teaching duties during that time and there aren’t a slew of holiday activities to navigate. Woohoo!
So, one year I let everyone know that I planned to participate in that year’s July Camp NaNoWriMo. In the three months leading up to the event I spent my spare time doing my research and sketching out a rough plot line. Then, July 1st arrived and I posted a sign on my office door that read something like: “Knock on this door for anything short of a 911 emergency and expect to spend the rest of your summer doing chores.” Thankfully, my husband has always been extremely supportive of my writing and by that time had a home office. So the kiddos were not left unsupervised and had someone to turn to when they couldn’t agree on which television show to watch.
By the end of the month, I had my 50,000 words written and typed, “THE END” on the final page. Boy was I excited! I had done it! I’d written an entire novel in just one month! Now, all I needed to do was spend some time revising and editing it. Then I’d be ready to start pitching to agents.
That fall, I signed up for a local conference that boasted the name of one of my favorite authors as a member of its faculty. I spent ages learning what a book proposal was, what an elevator pitch was, and what it took to stand out amid the crowd. I thought I was so ready as I walked into that first day of the conference. LOL I had no idea how far I had to go.
The first thing I learned was that my novel was far too short for the genre I’d written it for—especially if I wanted it published by a traditional publisher. Then I was told that my opening line was boring. You don’t know humble pie until you read your first line aloud to a room of twenty other authors and not a single one raises their hand in response to the question, “Based on that sentence, how many of you want to know more?”
Here’s the full description of Waltz in the Wilderness:
She’s desperate to find her missing father. His conscience demands he risk all to help.
Eliza Brooks is haunted by her role in her mother’s death, so she’ll do anything to find her missing pa—even if it means sneaking aboard a southbound ship. When those meant to protect her abandon and betray her instead, a family friend’s unexpected assistance is a blessing she can’t refuse.
Daniel Clarke came to California to make his fortune, and a stable job as a San Francisco carpenter has earned him more than most have scraped from the local goldfields. But it’s been four years since he left Massachusetts and his fiancé is impatient for his return. Bound for home at last, Daniel Clarke finds his heart and plans challenged by a tenacious young woman with haunted eyes. Though every word he utters seems to offend her, he is determined to see her safely returned to her father. Even if that means risking his fragile engagement.
When disaster befalls them in the remote wilderness of the Southern California mountains, true feelings are revealed, and both must face heart-rending decisions. But how to decide when every choice before them leads to someone getting hurt?
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In the days to come, I’ll be sharing more about the development of this novel but, tomorrow I want to share with you about one of my favorite real historical people whom I included in Waltz in the Wilderness, so be sure to stop by!
Have you ever thought you were prepared for something only to discover you weren’t? What’s the longest time you’ve ever worked on a single project?
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