Skip to main content

How Breast Cancer and NaNoWriMo Helped Me Write My Novel

This is a guest post by Debbie Manber Kupfer. 

At eight years old I turned into a ladybug. The story prompt in the Puffin Post said to choose a creature and write a story from its point of view. I spent days wandering around my house and garden in Barking, a working-class borough of London, peering into my dad’s magnifying shaving mirror and imagining my life as a tiny red, spotted crawling thing. Then I wrote that story and sent it off to the magazine and I waited.
Two months later, I tore open the envelope that held my Puffin Post and scanned through the pages and there was my name in print – Deborah Manber. I’d got a mention for my ladybug story. You see, even back then I was fascinated with shapeshifters. My favorite Harry Potter book was always book 3, The Prisoner of Azkaban, when Rowling introduces the idea of the animagus, but I wanted more details. How did a wizard turn themselves into an animal? What did it feel like to change? Were they scared that they might not be able to change back?
These thoughts bubbled around my head, percolated, and eventually lead to the creation of P.A.W.S. - The Partnership of Animagi, Werewolves, and Shapeshifters. And the more I write the more I discover and yet there were years when I put this whole writing thing on hold. I worked on my puzzles (I’m a freelance puzzle constructor for Penny Press magazines) and thought that a novel could wait. Wait until the kids were out of the house, wait until I had time to devote to it, but then life threw me a curveball.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I was terrified, yet I got through it, chemo, surgery and radiation and today thankfully I’m cancer free. But it made me realize something. I made me realize I’m mortal and that if I really wanted to write that novel, I needed to do it. So during NaNoWriMo of 2012, I sat down and wrote the first draft of P.A.W.S. I encourage everyone to try this. For me NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) worked really well – it allowed me to get my story down. It took many edits and meeting a wonderful writer’s group for that original draft to become a novel, but NaNo (and my cancer) was the push I needed to get started.
Today I have two novels in the series and I’m working on a third. I also have something I never had when I started this I have a network of writer friends, both online (check out the FB group: The Dragon’s Rocketship) and a few in real life. I still write my puzzles, and drink about a gallon of hot tea with milk each day and sometimes I still watch those ladybugs and wonder what’s going on in their tiny heads.


Debbie Manber Kupfer grew up in London and lived in Israel, before somehow ended up in St. Louis, where she works as a puzzle constructor and writer. She lives with her husband, two children, and a very opinionated feline. She is the author of P.A.W.S. and Argentum and has short stories in several anthologies including Fauxpocalypse, Shades of Fear, Winter Wishes, Sins of the Past, Sins of the Future, and Stardust, Always. She also created the puzzle book, Paws 4 Logic together with her son, Joey. She believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything! 
Connect with Debbie on her blog or Facebook.

----

“Despite all the stories I shared with you there is so much I never told you, Miri, so much you’ll have to discover for yourself. 
“Be brave, mein Katzel.”
When Miri receives a silver cat charm from her omama on the night before she dies she has no idea that the charm holds a secret, a powerful magic that saved her omama’s life and is about to make Miri’s a whole lot more interesting.
Discover the magic of P.A.W.S.


Popular posts from this blog

El Deafo | Cece Bell

And being different? That turned out to the best part of all. I found that with a little creativity, and a lot of dedication, any difference can be turned into something amazing. Our differences are our superpowers.”
Genre: Middle Grade Graphic Novel/Memoir. Number of Pages: 233. Perspective: First. Location: Virginia.
This graphic novel follows the author throughout her time as a young girl in the 1970s and her experiences losing her hearing from meningitis at the age of four. She learns how to make friends and accept herself. For a complete summary, you can go here.
This was a beautiful story about someone who copes with becoming deaf. I took an American Sign Language course in college and we talked a lot about the deaf culture; it was interesting to learn about some of the daily challenges that someone who is deaf faces. This book explains those challenges in a way that children can understand and relate to. We have come a long way with accessibility since the 70s, but we all could use …

5 Reasons Why I Hate Book Series

Many of you know that I hate book series. If at all possible, I try to stick to stand-alone novels. A few rare trilogies land on my bookshelf and an even rarer few get a good review. Here are my reasons why I hate trilogies: 

1. The first book is perfected.

Authors have an unlimited amount of time to perfect the first book. They may have many rewrites and rejections before it is finally accepted by a publisher. By that point, the book should be pristine. The author may not have a deal with the publisher for a series yet, but once the first book proves its worth, the publisher will definitely ask for the rest of the series. Depending on the popularity, the author will be forced to get the next books out quickly—unless you are George R.R. Martin. There will be less time to perfect the story and it will be sent out without many rewrites, as to appease the fan-base. As a result, the rest of the series suffers in comparison to the debut. 
2. The waiting is torture. 

Part of the reason why the …

Hex | Thomas Olde Heuvelt

“Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay 'til death. Whoever settles, never leaves."
Genre: Horror. Number of Pages: 384. Perspective: Third. Location: New York.
Hex is the story of a town that is cursed by a witch with her eyes and mouth sewn shut. She shows up in houses and just stands and stares for days at a time. The people of the town can never leave and are plagued by the fear of what would happen if the witch’s eyes and mouth are ever opened. For a complete summary, you can go here.
This book started off kind of funny and light-hearted. The middle starts to get a little creepy and suspenseful, and the end is downright strange. It was an enjoyable book, but you’ll have to wait a long time for the climax. The bulk of the action happens in the last 50 pages. For me, that felt rushed and left me with more questions than answers. 
Hex was originally written in Dutch and translated to English. With that in mind, I am utterly impressed with the flow and readability of the story. Th…

Ten Things Writers Need to Know

This is a guest post by Heather Weidner. I was asked recently what advice I would give to someone who wants to write. Here’s my list…
1. Read. Read. Read. 

Read everything you can get your hands on. Learn about the genre. Learn about techniques and style. See what works and what doesn't.



2. Seek out writers like you. 

Find a writers' group. I write mysteries, so Sisters in Crime was a perfect fit. I am also in the online community, Guppies. They have tons of resources and advice. And they are so supportive and helpful. 
3. There are a lot of books out there on the craft of writing. 
My favorite is Stephen King's On Writing. Invest in books that help you. But use your library too. FREE is good.



4. If you are serious about writing, find a critique group. 
It's an investment in your time to read the submissions. Make sure that the feedback is helpful. Critiques need to be constructive and not personal. My critique group specializes in mysteries and crime fiction. And that works fo…

5 Things I Would Have Done Differently Before Self-Publishing

This is a guest post by Mark Benjamin. 
About three-quarters into 2015, I decided to self-publish. My novel was stuck in that phase of completed / nearly done, and I had been agent shopping for three years prior, and the brief thought (if at all) of self-publishing had been pushed out of my mind by the traditional method. That is, until my wife, Lucy, sent me the Amazon Kindle Publishing link. At the end of May 2016, my debut novel, A CHANGE OF HEART, Book One of The Royal Blood Chronicles, was released, an urban fantasy novel bringing back vampires from whence I first found them, cue in Lestat and Louis. There was a lot to learn throughout the entire self-publishing process; emotions ranging from doubt to hope, anxiety to determination, fear to belief. I would like to share my experiences, then and now, and how I would have done things differently.


1. Just Do It
Those three words are the beginning and end of it all. The story hit me and I ran with it. I could have waited until I thought …

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required