Last week, I shared four spectacular NaNoWriMo successes on the Sisterhood of Suspense blog. With only three days left in the challenge, I thought I would boost everyone’s morale with these additional success stories. I was inspired and motivated by the advice and takeaways from their NaNoWriMo journeys.
Alan Averill wrote the first chapter of The Beautiful Land several months before NaNoWriMo and then put aside the manuscript. When he learned that his friends were planning to participate in NaNoWriMo, he decided to join them. He wrote 60 percent of the novel and finished the rest in January. He credits the experience with helping him create a fast-paced book: “One of the great things about NaNo is that you don’t have time to think about what you’re doing. You’re basically a Writer Shark, and if you don’t keep swimming forward at all times, you’re going to die.”
In 2008, Marissa Meyer (author of Cinder) heard about a contest in which the Seattle-based writer who clocked in the most words during November would win a walk-on role in an upcoming episode of Star Trek. A chronic overachiever, Marissa took on the challenge and ended up writing three novels: Cinder (70,000), Scarlet (50,000), and Cress (30,000). Unfortunately, she didn’t place first but finished three novels that she polished over a two-year period. While much of the original material was scrapped, Marissa has no regrets: “I may not produce anything of quality during NaNoWriMo, but I always come away with a great road map.” She had offers of representation from three agents, and when the series went to auction, Macmillan’s Feiwel & Friends placed the winning bid.
Carrie Ryan started writing The Forest of Hands and Teeth during NaNo 2006. During that month, Carrie wrote between 20,000 and 30,000 words and then kept on writing afterward, finishing the first draft in April 2007. Later in 2007, Carrie sold the rights. The first of a trilogy, the book became a New York Times best-seller, and the film rights have been optioned by Seven Star Pictures. Carrie’s advice: “If you want to sell a book, you have to write a book. And if NaNo is what it takes to motivate you, then jump in with both feet. If you fail, the key is not to give up—the key is to keep writing.”
Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen wrote the first draft of The Compound during NaNo 2005. It then took six months to edit and polish the manuscript. The book sold to Feiwel and Friends in July 2006 and then went through another fourteen months of editorial revisions before final publication in late 2007. A long journey, filled with ups and downs, but definitely worth the wait. Seven more Young Adult books followed. Stephanie’s take-away: “This book is a symbol of how never giving up helped me realize a dream.”
ONWARD ♦ AVANTI ♦ EN AVANT ♦ WEITER ♦ ADELANTE