Denim & Diamonds is an example of what you can do if you spend a month following your dreams. It is a woman's story about starting over. Beth Pickard's father died and left her his horse ranch - a huge shock since they weren't close. He also left her a fortune - a life changing $1 million bequest . . . but there's a catch. She has to move to the ranch and run it successfully for a year. Can she do it? And is the ruggedly handsome ranch foreman, Beau, working with or against her?
Denim & Diamonds was written in 30 days in November 2005 as part of National Novel Writing Month. That was the first year I tried it and I went it alone. I went to one write-in at a local college and was shocked that many of the others were doing it for fun. Granted, writing is fun and NaNo is the most fun of all, but they weren't taking it seriously. They didn't want to be published. But I did.
When NaNo was over - and I received my Winner's Certificate - I cried. It was one of my proudest moments, but very few people knew what I had done or even what NaNo was. Winning NaNo included Lulu offering to publish my winning book. As friends and family repeatedly asked me about NaNo, I decided the best way to answer their questions was to publish my book on Lulu so they could see for themselves what can be written in 30 days or less.
Denim & Diamonds is truly exciting for me to share, because it is literally the first draft. I ran spell check on the book and sent it to Lulu. There are plot holes and the characters aren't as developed as I would like, but people are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about it. The local library has a weeks' long waiting list for it and I still get royalty payments from the sale of the book. I've been working on the rewrite and the story has been polished with the help of my critique group. Hopefully someday it will be available as the first in a series. The story has changed a bit, the characters have grown and the plot has evolved. But I'm still proud of that first draft . . . and without that first draft, I wouldn't have had anything to polish. So . . . if you think you might want to write a novel someday, consider National Novel Writing Month so you can get your own first draft finished. And, please, understand that what you write in November will be a ROUGH draft - it is by no means finished. It has taken me nearly six years of polishing and editing to get it in shape to start querying editors about. The story is still about Beau and Beth, but it is so much more now than it was that cold day in November 2005 when I wrote THE END.
The Fulton Sun, a local newspaper, did a front page story on me when Denim & Diamonds came out, and the local NBC affiliate, KOMU, has done two human interest stories on me. I've been asked to do talks at local libraries and festivals, have taught at children's writing festivals, and have been interviewed for newspapers from out of state. It's been a fun ride, and I've learned so much through this process, about writing, editing, rewriting, critique groups, querying . . . and I'm sure I will continue to learn.
That first draft is no longer available - I like the idea of being able to share it with people, so they can see what can be written during the wild madness of National Novel Writing Month, but since that story has gone through a major rewrite, I don't think it's fair to have that first draft out. Hopefully one of these days you'll be able to buy the real book!