No Plot? No Problem!


December 2015

Twenty-eight days later, my Kickstarter campaign comes to an end. Through the generosity of family, friends, friends of friends and, yeah, even strangers, I raise more than $4,000 in direct donations and in-kind services such as a professional photo shoot for updating my website’s profile picture.

I now have enough money to self-publish my middle school-grade novel Do Over on CreateSpace as a paperback, and through Kindle as an eBook. What’s more, I have money left over to market my book, which isn’t something I planned on having.

It’s a dream come true!

It’s also a dream that has evolved over the years, ever since I picked up the book that changed my life: No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days, by Chris Baty.

Baty’s the founder of National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, as it’s commonly called). Each November, hundreds of thousands of would-be novelists around the world try to write 1,667 words a day for 30 days, at the end of which they have the first draft of a 50,000-word manuscript.

Fifty-thousand is the minimum number of words that qualifies as a novel, according to the US Library of Congress.

I happened on Baty’s book in April of 2005, and rather than wait for November to roll around, I chose May to speed-write my novel because May has an extra day and, more importantly, it doesn’t have a hugely disruptive holiday like Thanksgiving.

That crazy, exhilarating month, I wrote what became my first novel for middle school-grade readers. It’s a semi-autobiographical story about a precocious girl who solves a scary mystery with the help of her homeschooling dad.

It’s semi-autobiographical because at the time I wrote Walking Distance, I was also homeschooling my precocious daughter Mara. Mara and I loved to walk. We walked everywhere, and so the dad and daughter in my novel also covered a lot of physical and emotional distance.

Which is why I called the novel Walking Distance.

After getting the book as good as I could get it, something strange happened. My dream changed. No longer was it enough to have written a book. Now I wanted to get it published.

So I signed up for a writers’ convention at a nearby college. I paid extra to have ten pages of my manuscript critiqued.

What happened next, I will never forget.

To be continued . . .




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