Tag Archives: NanoWriMo

Author Highlight: Dawn Chapman

April is here again. It’s my birthday month, and I’m celebrating with an author interview.

Dawn BookDawn Chapman is the author of The Secret King Series and Director of TSK Productions Ltd.

Do you write full-time or part-time?

It’s almost full time, even with a full time job. I work 7-3pm in the day as my paying job at the moment, and then from 4pm till 9pm I’m working on TSK’s projects.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing?

Write what you want to. Don’t always try and please others. Get some beta readers you can trust and work had to keep them. If one person says something is wrong you can ignore it, but if 5 people say it… then think about what they’re saying.

Where is your favorite place to write?

A caravan site in Devon. 🙂 I’ve just come back from a weeks holiday there, the other half goes fishing, and I get to create in peace. Love it.

How often do you write, and do you have a special time during the day to write?

I would much prefer to write early, but if I’m off, I write all day. Sometimes 16 hours a day.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I’ve done both, as part of NaNoWriMo. In fact TSK’s first novel was on the fly. I hadn’t planned anything, and one of my TSK fans for the series, said ‘why don’t you try writing their story before they get to Earth’ and that was it, I thought why not, and I wrote my first 50k in the 30 days. The following 84k I wrote up till my birthday on the 13th december, and the rewriting took TSK’s first book to 103k.

Dawn 1

Dawn Chapman has been creating sci fi and fantasy stories for thirty years. Until 2005 when her life and attention turned to scripts, and she started work on The Secret King, a 13 episode Sci Fi TV series, with great passion for this medium.

In 2010, Dawn returned to her first love of prose. She’s been working with coach EJ Runyon who’s encouraged her away from fast paced script writing, to revel in the world of TSK and Letháo as an epic prose space journey.

Where TSK came from.

The Secret King began its journey in 2007 when I broke my hand. I had a dream and that dream became a feature script. I wanted to learn and find likeminded people, so I joined an online writing community, this is where I met one of TSK’s partners Steven Kogan and from that first rough draft of a feature film I began to plot a TV series. I asked Steven if he would like to write inside my world and he accepted, together we penned 13 episodes, and became fast friends over the next few years.

In 2010 I started entering competitions and discovering NaNoWriMo was where I found my second partner, Jaime Bengzon, who also came on board with TSK’s TV series as a character designer. In 2016 we made it official and formed TSK Productions, with the dream of novels, novellas, comics and animation in our sights.

To date the TSK team is 14 strong, and growing. And we just released our first two audioshorts from the series by the talented Holly Adams! –


Visit Dawn on her personal blog – kanundra.com — and —


Check out TSK on the following:

Websites –

Production Website –  www.tskproductions.com

Main TSK Website –  www.thesecretking.com


Twitter –

Production – https://twitter.com/ProductionsTSK

TSK – https://twitter.com/TeamSecretKing


Facebook –

TSK Productions Ltd –


The Secret King Fan Page –


Nanowrimo, libraries, and literary agent

The backstory:

It’s Nanowrimo again. I’m being a rebel.

For a year now I have been preparing to send out one of my novels. The novel has waited patiently in “revision” mode as I have worked on a query and fretted and done nothing. I have done nothing!

Over the summer I attended Osfest, a writer’s convention, where the wonderful writer panelists explained that I just need to jump in. They gave me great resources which I admit I have not been diligent about tracking although I do check them every once and a while.

The Inciting Incident:

On Thursday, I was sick and left work early, but it was too early to go home because the cleaning lady was at the house, so I stopped by the library. I have been carrying around my “revision” project in paper format. So when I have time, I pull the project out and work on it.

Something you should know about the library that is close to my work: it is The Story Center. Pretty enticing name for an author, right? The library focuses on writing, publishing, printing, and reading. More than other area libraries, The Story Center brings in speakers and holds workshops on writing, offers their own certification, and has even assisted some local authors to be published.

So there I was, hacking and barely standing with my manuscript under my arm. I needed a table, silence, and a trashcan for all my tissues. When I walked in, a poster popped out of nowhere. I almost walked into it because I had my nose in my phone and my mind on sickness. “Writer’s Conference.”

During Nano, the last thing I am usually looking for is a conference. There are only 30 days to get a novel written and who has time to do that between work and real life? But this one has big bold letters saying “AGENT.”

I haven’t seen a lot of local events with agents. I did attend an event with MARA last month with an acquisition editor, but see paragraph two. I have very little experience or knowledge of the publishing community and have not been good about expanding my base. When I see an event that says “editor” or “agent” and even “author,” I’m trying to find the time to attend.

Plus, work shuts the office at 5, the talk was scheduled at 6, and I would be ten minutes away (versus the 50 minutes if I was at home). So I went. And it was great.

The Event:

Sorche Fairbank from Fairbank Literary Agency spoke.  On Friday, she discussed the basics of the publishing world. Some of it was review for me, but getting an agent perspective was different than what I have heard from editors and authors. She had handouts with resources for how to find agents, how to write query letters, how to improve the chances of being discovered. It was a great talk, and I left more energetic than when I arrived.

So even though I should have gone in to work on Saturday, I rearranged my schedule to attend the conference workshops on Saturday.

What I really liked about the program was how interactive it was. These were workshops not just panels. The presenters were approachable and knowledgeable.

The last session on Saturday was a panel, but it was very useful. In the last Saturday panel, the first pages of people’s manuscripts were read aloud and the panelists (an agent, an editor, and an author) reacted to the writing. I submitted my writing which was terrifying as well. This was the first time I heard someone else read my writing.

–Side note: Hearing someone else read my writing, even I cringed with the amount of detail. It didn’t surprise me when the panelists indicated I had too much detail in too little space. One of the overall points the panelists made clearly through the examples was that all the writing needed to be edited down by a significant amount. They said 10-30%. One thing the panelists did not say that became clear to me is that agent/editor/reader reaction is highly subjective. Some of the pieces that I lost interest in kept their attention. Some of the pieces I wanted to hear more of they stopped early. Either I don’t have a sophisticated ear, or the publishing industry is like the mass population and vary in what they enjoy.

–Second Side Note: If I cut 30% of my words from the longest of my pieces in “revision,” I would be at 45k. Maybe I am writing novellas instead of novels? I will have to figure out how to develop more complex plots. Somehow. Eek.

If I could have changed anything about the conference, I would have placed it outside of Nano . . . but then again, I had writing time built into this month whereas other months I may not have been able to rearrange my schedule as easily. So maybe I wouldn’t have changed the timing at all. I did make it afterall.

The Resolution:

I resolve to:

  • finish my revision but to pay more attention to detail and backstory
  • ask someone to read my piece completely and ask them to react to questions on pacing, detail, and hooks
  • write a query letter on all my “finished” pieces at least ten times — from a blank page using the worksheets provided at the conference
  • create a list of at least 60 agents
  • send out my query to 10 agents at a time 2-3 weeks apart and track responses

I have no clue how all this will go, but it’s time to move on or to find someone who can help me with the revision process better. In the last four years I have gone from perpetual starting of novels to completing the novels I start. (I hear that is a success in itself.) I have tightened my outlining so there are less chapters/scenes that get cut because they have no purpose. I thought I was making progress on how to revise, but after hearing reactions to my first page, that may have been false hope. So now it is time to send things out. If they are not picked up, I will trunk each piece and try the next. Onward and upward hopefully.

Shiny New Things

Yesterday, I started this blog.

Then I spent hours wanting to play with it and love it and post every thought I had. I restrained myself under the assumption that less is more. All the excitement over the shiny new blog has me thinking about beginnings.

So I want to know:
1. When did you start writing?
2. After you decided to be share your work, where did you turn?

My giddiness is a pattern. Take writing for an example.

I’ve always written. I won school contests as early as 1st grade.

My alma mater - Go Bluejays
My alma mater – Go Bluejays

I even had some poetry in high school published in college magazines. Then school ended. College required me to shift focus. I still wrote, but I had to get the writing bug. The one that infected me with a great idea followed by four, feverish weeks of writing. College ended and work began. Writing became an exercise in short sprints written between tasks or after work while dinner cooked. I no longer submitted pieces to local magazines. I no longer entered competitions. I was a closet writer.

Last year, I decided I needed a support group. Hello. My name is Louise. I’ve been writing for 23 years.

Finding a support group is not that easy. I missed out on the convenient methods such as maintaining my connection with my English teachers or joining a group hosted by the college. As an adult, none of my friends were interested in a writing hobbyist group.

So I did what any good person would. I googled. Google scoffed at my attempts to find local writing groups. It suggested classes at a university. No published websites or meetings groups came up in my searches. The one group I did find, met on Wednesday during the normal work day. Why, Google, do you not create things on my whim that work perfectly in my schedule.

Finally, Google told me I needed to join a program called Nano. I was in luck. There would be a Camp Nano in July. So I joined. Nano Badge

I like Nano in many ways but not in others. Camp Nano introduced me to two people who would actually discuss writing and ideas. Great. But they both live far, far away.

Never fear, Camp Nano told me. In November there would be local events and a bigger program. I met a group of four writers who agreed to meet and talk with me after November. Thank you Second Chapter for being there.

Google also introduced me to Scribophile and Critters where I could inundate strangers with my writing. These online communities kicked my backside, scolded me for disorganization, shoved craft books under my nose, and prodded me until my writing improved a little.

In 9 months since deciding to do more than binge write at home, I have found programs I enjoy and built a small circle of folks I can rely on.