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Library Marks National Novel Writing Month With Local Author Fair

Author at the fair
Ryan Denham
Kevin Wright of Morton talks with readers during the Local Authors Fair in 2017. He writes horror, urban fantasy, and mystery books.

The Bloomington Public Library will showcase central Illinois writers this weekend at its third annual Local Author Fair.

The event is part of National Novel Writing Month, when amateur writers—especially first-timers—are encouraged to write 50,000 words of a book during November.

The first book that Melissa Davis of Normal ever published was started during “NaNoWriMo.” It’s called “Land of the Shadows,” a paranormal fantasy.

“You can fly by the seat of your pants when you’re writing a National Novel Writing Month book, because you’re told not to think too hard, to write as fast as you can and go back and edit later,” said Davis. “That’s how I got started with book writing. But it’s been a lifetime journey.”

Sue Rovens’ three novels were all started during previous National Novel Writing Months. The writer from Normal uses the 50,000-word target to complete a book draft and then go back months later and edit.

Rovens, who also works at Illinois State University’s Milner Library, self-publishes her suspense books under the name Plump Toad Press. She likes the control of self-publishing.

“For me, and how I write my books, I don’t really want someone else telling me how to write it, how to finish it, how to create characters or change this scene. The stories I write, I work very hard, and they’re very personal stories,” she said.

But self-publishing requires a huge commitment to promotion and marketing. Rovens travels to events regularly, and she’ll be one of 23 featured authors at the Bloomington Public Library’s event from 2-4 p.m. Sunday. She also has a blog where she interviews other authors.

“Always be selling. Always. You never know who’s gonna buy it,” Rovens said.

Davis works with a publisher in Florida, called World Castle Publishing. She said a smaller, independent publisher like that is a good fit for her.

“There’s a lot more freedom with what you write,” she said.

When it comes to publishing, the writing is the easy part, Davis said. The editing process can be lengthy, not to mention the layout and production of a book.

“There’s a lot of pirating, especially with electronic books,” she said. “And it just makes me so mad, because they have no idea. It’s not like we just woke up and boom, we wrote a book. There’s so much more involved in it.”

The Local Author Fair is Sunday, Nov. 3, from 2-4 p.m. at Bloomington Public Library. All genres and reading levels are represented among the 23 McLean County authors.  The event is free and open to all with authors stationed throughout the library.

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Ryan Denham is the content director for WGLT and WCBU.