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Yes, Virginia, you CAN publish your novel (but it will take more than a month) by Juneau Black

3 November 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

Are you in? NaNoWriMo started yesterday, and I’ve been shuffling my schedule to make extra time to write each day. I’m not writing a novel this year. Instead, I’m finally writing a nonfiction book I’ve been thinking about (and jotting down notes for) for years.


Today’s tip tells a NaNoWriMo success story—and it’s a good one. Enjoy!

Happy Writing!

Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

Yes, Virginia-3

Juneau Black is a name full of mystery, isn’t it? Who is Juneau Black? Well, Juneau Black is an author. Sort of. Juneau Black is the pen name of two writers, Sharon Nagel and Jocelyn Koehler. We wrote a novel during NaNoWriMo. Now it’s a book you can hold in your hands.

Want to do that yourself? You can! Here’s what we learned:

Have an idea: Sounds basic, and it is. Have your idea before you start writing. We came up with characters and concepts first (using cute animal finger puppets — yes, really!), and then built up the larger story around those. We weren’t 100% sure who the murderer would be (pro tip: that’s an important part of a murder mystery.). But that didn’t stop us. We kept writing. Don’t feel you have to know everything. Just know something. Get those notes on file somewhere.

Shady-Hollow-Web-MediumHave a plan: When we first decided to write Shady Hollow, we knew it would help to have an external deadline. So we chose to write it during NaNoWriMo. Go here to get started with NaNo: There are lots of tools and tips for writers, and a supportive community as well! We also chose to tag team the writing: Sharon one day, Jocelyn the next. We’d email the file back and forth after adding our daily word count. If you’re working alone, you just have to make sure you’re accountable to you. Alternatively, ask a pal to check your progress.

Have a goal: With NaNoWriMo, the goal is already defined: 50,000 words in 30 days, or 1667 words per day. That’s just enough to net you a short novel. Maybe you can’t squeeze that much into your month, but you can still define your own goal (two months? six months?). Then stick to it. Break down your daily word count so it’s not overwhelming. Can’t write every day? How about one morning or evening a week? Do whatever works for your life.

Have a timeline: We achieved a complete draft after NaNo, but that was only the first part. We had a bad first draft. Much editing was needed. It was only when we decided that the publication date would be November 2015, for real, that we got moving and made the book happen. Don’t settle for “some day”. Choose a real day. Then work towards it.

Have flexibility: We had some setbacks with Shady Hollow. The project limped along for a while. There were cross country moves, career changes, and marriages. We chose to indie publish it, which meant that we were responsible for a huge part of the work. We accepted that life happens, and didn’t give up. When your plan gets derailed, or you miss a deadline, don’t punish yourself. Identify what went wrong, fix it, and get back on track.

Have a party: When you finish your novel, celebrate. Maybe you don’t need to publish it. Maybe it’s enough for you that you wrote it. However you define success, when you reach the end line, have a party. We are! On November 4 at 7 pm at Boswell Book Company, we will read from the book and answer questions and giggle a lot. Because we wrote a novel. And that’s amazing. Come on over if you can (details here). We’d love to meet you!

Shady Hollow is now available in paperback and ebook. Order it from a spectacular bookstore like Boswell Books, or your favorite online bookstore. Learn more about Juneau Black and future books here:


Jocelyn Koehler

Jocelyn Koehler

Sharon Nagel

Sharon Nagel

Juneau Black is the pen name of authors Jocelyn Koehler and Sharon Nagel. They share a love of excellent bookshops, fine cheeses, and a good murder (in fictional form only). Though they are two separate people, if you ask either of them a question about their childhood, you are likely to get the same answer. This is a little unnerving for any number of reasons.

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