Nanowrimo spotlight: Jean Davis – Author, Blogger, NaNo Participant

October 27, 2016

Programming note: I’m still looking for Spotlight interviewees for this year! Post a comment or email chriskelworth at gmail dot com if you’re interested.

Good afternoon! I’ve been too busy to post this spotlight for a little while, but–here’s Jean! Jean, tell us a little about your Nano experience:

2016 will be my 11th year participating in NaNoWriMo, and my 8th year serving as ML for my region. Shortly after finishing my first novel (which took double digit years). I heard about NaNoWriMo from a writer on a fan fic site on which I was participating at the time. Writing a novel (albeit a really rough draft) in 30 days seemed like an outrageous prospect given my prior experience. As it turns out, that was, in fact, possible! After proving to myself that I could churn out a really rough draft in a month, I decided to start taking this whole writing thing seriously – joining a critique group, learning a whole lot about writing, and later, getting published.

The only year I did not reach 50K, was the one year I was building a house and I knew going in, that year wasn’t going to be a winner. However, I always enjoy spending time with my local NaNo community, which is by far, the best part of the whole challenge, so I dove in anyway. I also spent several years doing the Young Writers Program side of NaNo with elementary students. Thankfully, my children grew up and though one stopped participating, the other one has joined the adult program, allowing me to spend much more time with my adult participants and my own writing.

What are you writing about this year?

This year I’m writing the second half to a YA Sci-fi novel I started once during NaNo as a short story that panned out into a bigger idea, and again last year as novel but then set aside to write another novel because the middle of the plot wasn’t quite clicking with me yet. I have notes this time (I’m not usually a planner), so that should help keep me on task. My daughter should too, she really wants to read the finished book. She wasn’t at all happy with me when my novel intentions got hijacked last year.

Where are your backup files, and why?

If you’ve ever lost a even a day’s worth of writing, you’ll back up all over the place. The loss of your creative efforts is a severe motivation sucker. Recently an unexpected windows update and a Word auto-save malfunction caused a week’s worth of editing to vanish into the ether. I was most displeased. No one wants that any time of year, but especially not during NaNo when you’re pushing yourself so hard. Protect your words! My writing is now auto-saved to Google Drive. I also do a back up to a flash drive and a network drive every couple days.

What advice would you give to all your fellow Wrimos?

Commit to writing your novel. Which beyond making time to write every day means: Get yourself some support, either from family and friend. Get involved with your region for more support and motivation. Log in to the NaNo forums or your regional forums and glance at all those progress bars to see where yours comes in. Set up a reward for yourself when you reach 50K as extra motivation. This could be a winner shirt, guilt free time for a game, movie or show you’ve been wanting to watch/play, or dinner at your favorite restaurant.

Sneaky Ninja question! Who is your favorite author ever – you have to pick just one!

This answer would change widely depending on when in my life you asked the question, but at the moment, I’m going to say George RR Martin for the simple reason that even though it’s been so many years since the last book, I’m still anxiously waiting for his next one.

Sahmara book cover, written by Jean Davis

I recently published my second novel, Sahmara, which was my first NaNo novel in 2006. It is available in print and ebook and currently free with Kindle Unlimited.

Busy with their own war, the gods of Revochek lose control of the destinies of their people. The gods aren’t the only ones staring at defeat. The country is in ruins, its people killed or prisoners. If all of Revochek falls, the balance of the gods will be broken, paving the way for Ephius, the god of Atheria, to plunge the entire world into war.

One young woman escapes her Atherian captors only to find herself alone, unarmed, and starving. Torn from her life of privilege and the arms of her ma’hasi lover, Sahmara is unfit for life on the run. The well-being of her family is unknown, and if Zane hadn’t been killed, he is a slave. No one is coming to save her.

Desperate, Sahmara prays for help. She does not expect her prayer to be answered by an ancient woman with a thirst for blood or that her single desperate plea might be the one that rescues them all.

You can find more from Jean at her blog. Thanks for sharing this with us, Jean!

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V is for Video Diaries

April 25, 2012

The Script Frenzy A-Z challenge so far…

One of the highlights of Script Frenzies are the little video clips that the staff at the Office of Letters and Light film and post on the website, talking about their own struggles with their scripts, to encourage the rest of us and start conversations on the discussion board. Here are some of my favorite videos from this year…

Some ‘Young Writers Program’ Script Frenziers made their own trailer for the event, which is pretty cool!

Lindsay does a little demonstration of script formatting in action! The script equivalent for the video is here.

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Big OLL Interview with Director Grant Faulkner

January 9, 2012

Well, it’s taken a little longer than I hoped, but the time has finally come to share a very special interview. I hope you all enjoy the chance to get to know Grant Faulkner, the new Executive Director of the Office of Letters and Light. Grant is taking over for Chris Baty today, leading the organization that runs National Novel Writing Month and Script Frenzy, and I’d love to wish him a great first day!

What did you want to be when you grew up? Were you dreaming of becoming an accountant, a lawyer, a fireman?

Other than a brief dalliance with wanting to be Batman at the age of 3, I always wanted to be a writer. I think it’s somehow genetic. I remember staring at the pens and paper in my local bookstore with fetishistic delight as a boy and wanting to buy them all. I asked for a diary with a lock on it for Christmas when I was 5, and I’ve since purchased all sorts of different pens and journals and notepads.

My father is a lawyer in Oskaloosa, Iowa, where I grew up, and he always saved an office for me in case I decided to become a lawyer. I loved going to that office as a child and penning what I thought would be wildly successful novels. I was fortunate that my parents didn’t push any profession on me and have been wonderfully supportive of me as a writer despite the choice of such a precarious profession.

How did you end up on the Office of Letters and Light board? Were you asked by Chris Baty?

I’ve always looked for ways to marry my personal life as a writer to my professional life, which can be a challenging thing to do. I’ve been lucky because I’ve been able to work as a journalist, an editor, and a writing teacher, and then I landed at the National Writing Project, a non-profit dedicated to improving the teaching of writing in the nation’s schools.

Chris has always been so inspirational to me on so many levels, so I reached out to him to see if he could help me further my career and deepen my knowledge of nonprofit management by recommending nonprofit arts organizations who might consider me as a board member. He ended up asking me to consider the Office of Letters and Light, which was a dream organization for me on every level—wonderful programs and a fantastically intelligent and fun-loving board and staff. I simply can’t believe how lucky I am to work with such amazing people.

How many times have you participated in Nanowrimo or Script Frenzy? How well did you do?

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