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If you’ve wondered where I disappeared to over the past few months, I’m here to confess that I’ve fallen into an imaginary world of my own making.

It all started a year ago. I joined thousands of others from all over the world and made the commitment to write an entire novel in one month. (Some of you know this strange ritual of insanity as NaNoWriMo.) I ate too much chocolate and slept far too little and somehow managed to finish my novel in thirty days.

I named it One act of Defiance and then refused to look at it for two months. Finally, I reread my book and I loved my characters, but I knew it could be better. I thought of great novels and movies and tried to think of the things that made them great. Certainly a key factor is deep characters that we can empathize with and who change over the course of the story, but other factors are mystery and high stakes and action and a deep theme.

I brainstormed ideas to make my book better, and I realized I had two choices. I could go ahead and edit my novel as it was, or I could completely rewrite it and make the story bigger and deeper. I ended up taking my characters and my first chapter, and I started again.

I worked with a few editors and mentors. I sought out critique and tried to apply their suggestions. The second time writing my book was harder and took longer.

I decided to enter my novel in a few contests. This morning I learned that my book was long-listed for the Caledonia Novel Award and I was asked to send my full manuscript, and then tonight I found out that my book received the third-place prize in the Page Turner contest. I’m so thankful for all of the amazing people who supported, encouraged, and taught me on this journey!

I’m afraid I’m only resurfacing from my imaginary world briefly. Did I mention that I entered my book in these contests before it was quite finished? I have seven days to write the last 10,000 words, so my novel can be considered for the Caledonia Novel Award.

Good thing I work well under pressure. 😉

Much love,

Rachel

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