So, people have asked why I got into writing and how I went about publishing a novel.

For starters, I’ve always been a diarist. I journal for clarity, understanding, reflection, therapy, and documentation. You too? I’ve kept a journal since I was about my daughter’s age of 10. When an idea bubbles up, I jot down the inspiration to expand upon later. Sometimes, those thoughts manifest into something larger. My life’s collection of journals would fill a bookcase!

“Writing is Refined Thinking” (Stephen King).

Every author’s journey is different, but here’s an outline of mine….

In 2017, I made a new year’s resolution to write a novel. And so, Despite the Buzz began. I kept a log of words and hours as a testament of my dedication to the project. I also started calling myself a “writer,” even though it seemed audacious at first. Having a dedicated writing space helped me focus (especially as a mom).

Inspiration and Application

During this time, I read for inspiration and support: books like Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown, and On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.

I created characters around causes they (we) cared about. I incorporated research. Developed a story arc. Worked forward and backward with foreshadowing and budding romances. Played with word choice. Phrasing. Dialogue. Tense. Perspective. Structure. Setting. I’ve visited my main character’s home a hundred times, and the funny thing is, her apartment is purely fictional!

At times, I’d step away and then reread to re-familiarize myself with the story. Years passed. I wrote and wrote until I felt like the narrative wrapped up nicely: a gift I could give to readers one day.

Next, the Editing Process Commenced!

I paid for developmental editing because I wanted objective feedback from a professional in the literary business. I’d met the owner of an editing company at a writing conference…once upon a time. I contacted her, decided on an affordable level of editing, paid for the service, and was paired with an editor based on my writing submission and goals.

OMG, I had an editor! It was very exciting. Someone was reading my story! What would she think?

The feedback I received was helpful and motivating. I made changes based on what aligned with my vision as it was unfolding. I massaged in details and added educational footnotes. Then, I sent the manuscript back to the same editor to see what she thought of the updates.

Stages of Sharing a Story

Eventually, I shared chapters with friends, printed papers to proofread, and invited my husband to read the novel. I asked him for specific feedback regarding an aspect of the story he is knowledgeable about. I made a few modifications based on his input.

After that, we paid for copyline editing (the nitty gritty). Suggestions were sent through Microsoft Word’s Track Changes, and I could accept or decline the editor’s fine-tuning recommendations. The investment felt valuable to me because I really wanted to present readers with a polished product (and my eyes could only see so much).

I considered my purpose and audience, wrote a preface and epilogue, then started querying a long list of carefully chosen literary agents in hopes that one might represent me to a publishing house. As a debut novelist, I sought professional assistance with my query letter and synopsis: there are formulas to both, and I wanted to get these crucial documents right. Then, I pitched my book intention with an earnest effort!

Publishing Possibilities

Meanwhile, I was taking webinars on publishing options. I learned about alternative (indie and hybrid) routes to publication. There are pros and cons to taking a less (or non) traditional route: a pro is keeping creative control. This appealed to me. Come to find out, a friend’s husband ran a graphic design and indie publishing business! It felt fated. I gave up my querying pursuit and partnered with Blue Jay Ink.

Making a Physical Book

Interior design for Despite the Buzz entailed varying formatting, positioning artwork, incorporating images, contemplating aesthetics, and including color. My vision of a mixed-media paperback was coming to life! I even invited my kids to draw illustrations! I didn’t anticipate seeing each page as a frame, but that’s how I would describe this stage of the journey. Exterior design involved the cover and spine.

A Project in Progress

Eventually, it was time to open the door and let beta readers see DTB! I reached out to people I trusted, including college professors. I asked 16 readers for what I needed and wanted: careful analysis (based on pre-determined criteria, depending on each person) and praise to go inside the front cover. I felt vulnerable while awaiting those initial responses, but as Brené Brown encourages, I was “Daring Greatly.”

I bet fellow VCMC writers can relate. It isn’t easy to go from journaling for yourself to writing for an audience! I put myself out there and learned from others. Slowly, my book baby developed into a book business (and marketing is another story as is my struggle with perfectionism). Despite the Buzz was born on Mother’s Day, 2021.

The realistic novel is widely distributed through IngramSpark, which supplies Amazon, B&N, other retailers, Baker and Taylor (so public libraries – when requested), and, thus indie bookstores.

Becoming A Published Author

Overall, the process of writing, revising, designing, and polishing took me over four years. Since then, getting the word out about my work has taken time, plus events, networking, advertising, reviews, contests, and creative thinking. Support from friends and family has helped.

Author-preneurship can be a tiring (but rewarding) job. I aim to grow my “author platform,” connect with creatives, expand readership, enhance composition skills, and increase the potential for future possibilities.

It’s nice when my son reads these articles and my daughter helps me set up for book events. She’s a diarist, too!

In summary, I think honoring a creative calling is worthwhile. Opportunities have opened, and as a result, I’ve published more work—like this article!

Recommendations for Writers and Families

Nowadays, writing feels professional, productive, and purposeful. I like using my passion to empower others.

What advice do I have for aspiring authors? Journal. You might use those idea seeds later. Write for yourself and for others. Join writing groups (like the Writers and Publishers Network). Utilize resources (such as the Women’s National Book Association). Read. Take notes. Study the craft. Practice. Be brave. Publish or share something. Aloud, online, or in print.

How can we encourage writing in our kids? Take them to libraries, make time for reading, discuss stories, and prompt your children to journal, create poetry, or try fiction (comic book creation, perhaps). For example, my family keeps a shared gratitude journal.

Thanks for reading!

P.S. Feel free to contact (or “follow”) me: I can be reached through, on Goodreads, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.



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Tamara Miller Davis
Tamara Miller Davis is an author, mother of two kidz with Z names, pet owner, fire captain's wife, substitute teacher, parent club volunteer, dance enthusiast, and U.S. Coast Guard veteran from Michigan. Tamara published her debut book "Despite the Buzz" in 2021. The colorful novel is a cautionary tale about tech's influence. She is a member of other local writing groups: the Writers and Publishers Network and Ojai Poetry Series. Tamara enjoys reading, rollerblading, downhill skiing, boogie boarding, biking, tubing, kayaking, walking her dog, listening to podcasts, traveling, going to concerts, supporting causes, and finding common ground with a variety of people. She also likes making lists. Tamara appreciates this quote from Stephen King's memoir "On Writing": "You must not come lightly to the blank page."


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