The Adventure Begins Anew

I’m honored to be the first to welcome TKZers to 2022! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, filled with family, food and fun, and ending with a resolution to begin a new writing adventure in the new year. Consider this quote by Winston Churchill:

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy then an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then it becomes a tyrant and, in the last stage, just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”

While I can’t relate to every one of the phases Mr. Churchill describes, I love the metaphors, and he made me wonder how I would own adventures in my limited experience of novel-writing. Here goes:

When I begin a new book, I spend some time searching for ideas. Is there some message I want to convey? Or a character who’s anxious to make his/her debut? Is there a particular mystery I want to challenge readers with or a basic theme I’m interested in? I spend time reading good novels and craft-of-writing books. I go for a run and play what-if games. I try not to force the issue, but let my brain relax, hoping for inspiration.


Then it happens. Something bubbles up and captures my imagination. Oh, happy day! Now it’s time to get to work.



I pull on my virtual hiking boots, strap my laptop in place, and head out to First Draft Land. Although I have a good idea where I’m going, I’m not entirely sure how to get there, so I wander around for a while. (A long while.)

Even though I made it to the end of the story, it’s just a mess, so I go into revision mode. Applying lessons learned about plot, structure, dialogue, tension, and other TKZ topics, I straighten out some of those detours and rabbit holes. I weed the prose, kill my darlin’s, and heartily eradicate the dreaded adverbs. (Just checking to see if you’re paying attention.) Now we’re getting somewhere:


Having reached what I believe is the end of my writing adventure, I gleefully ship the manuscript off to my developmental editor, convinced she will be delighted with the almost-perfect story. My editor has a very direct approach to feedback as you can see by her response to the manuscript.

Maybe she was just having a bad day, but I trust her judgment, and I take her critique to heart and work some more. The adventure resumes, and we loop through each leg of the journey to clear away the debris so the reader won’t stumble.

Finally, the editor gives it a green light, and I begin the last mile to the finish line. Beta readers come alongside to offer their wisdom, then it’s off to the line editor and proofreader for the final changes. (Who knew it took so many people to write a novel?)

What started as a joyful romp through the garden ends with a quiet sigh of relief and gratitude. There’s only one thing left to do: launch it out into the world.

Success! Adventure complete. Dragons slayed and townspeople rescued. After a short nap, it’s time to start another adventure.

Now where did I put that book on marketing?

* * *

How about you, TKZers. What writing adventure are you planning for 2022? What phases will you go through? How will you manage the long trek to publication?

This entry was posted in Writing by Kay DiBianca. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kay DiBianca

Kay DiBianca is a former software developer and IT manager who retired to a life of mystery. She’s the award-winning author of three cozy mysteries, The Watch on the Fencepost, Dead Man’s Watch, and Time After Tyme. Connect with Kay on her website at

41 thoughts on “The Adventure Begins Anew

  1. Happy New Year, Kay!
    I’d share this post with everyone who says, “One weekend, when I have some free time, I’m going to write a book.”
    It’s a journey all right, and one you have to love if you want to be able to say, “I’m an author.”
    I’m starting my next book, and I have 3 pages of mind mapping (that sounds classier than “Scribbles”) notes just to figure out who my main character is, and what they heck he’s doing in my story scenario.

    • Good morning, Terry, and Happy New Year to you!

      Writing a book sounds like such an easy thing to do. Maybe it’s a good thing that people think they can whip up a great book in their spare time. If they knew what a long journey it is, they might not even try.

      Good luck with your new book. Looking forward to seeing how your main character fits in. I’d also love to see the result of your mind-mapping exercise.

    • Mind mapping is a wonderful tool. I’d never heard of it before JSB turned me on to it last fall. Tjat and The Storymatic
      (a tip o’ the hat to James Scott Bell)..

  2. Good morning, Kay. And Happy New Year!

    Great post, and good time to plan for the coming year. My first project is to edit and publish Book #5 in my Mad River Magic series. I finished the rough draft yesterday afternoon, so the editing, beta reading, editing, publishing will get top priority.

    But my “real project” for ’22 is marketing. After a year of retirement and being a hermit, it’s time to re-engage. I’m studying Newsletter Ninja and taking my newsletter seriously. As soon as book #5 is off to beta readers, I’ll be planning and starting a reader magnet to entice people to join my newsletter mailing list.

    After that, I plan to hold my nose and jump back into Facebook, hopefully starting an author page.

    And, I’ve joined with some good friends to work together on marketing efforts. This is one time when it is nice to be in a group where everyone else knows more than I do.

    Thanks for sharing your process, Kay. Wishing you great success in the new year.

    • Good morning, Steve, and Happy New Year!

      I’m looking forward to your next Mad River Magic book. Can’t wait to see what those kids are up to now.

      I’m with you on going deeper into marketing. There’s so much to learn, and it’s great to be a part of a small group of folks who are sharing their knowledge with each other.

      It’s going to be a great year.

  3. An adventure indeed, Kay. I spend a good deal of time mapping out the journey, primarily to know what my “signpost scenes” are. I need a grasp of my “mirror moment” because it guides the whole book. Then along the way I can be creative in how I get from signpost to signpost.

    Fortunately, I’m married to my developmental editor, so the rates are good.

    As release day approaches, I am at work on the next one, and “in development” on the one after that. So is this an adventure or a hamster wheel? A little of both, I’d say. And I love it.

    • Good morning, Jim, and Happy New Year! I’m so glad TKZ is back after the break. I was having a bit of withdrawal over the holidays.

      I admire your methodology. As a matter of fact, your craft of writing books have been the signposts that have kept me from being hopelessly lost in the process. Although I still wander around a lot in the first draft, I use your books as my compass to get back on track. Thank you!

      Being married to your developmental editor is definitely an advantage. Not only are the rates good, but I bet you’re always the top priority.

      Adventure or hamster wheel? Whatever it is, I agree with you — I love it.

  4. Happy New Year, Kay! Thanks for the smiles to set us off on our journeys. We’ve probably waved at each other as we wander the paths through the Gordian knot of your first treasure map.

    My first round of beta readers weighed in on book #7, Until Proven Guilty. The DNA expert gave me four single-spaced pages of homework to do. Whew. Had to push out the January target release date. Now shooting for early spring.

    Wishing TKZers a productive new year of writing.

    • Good morning, Debbie, and Happy New Year! Glad to know there are fellow wanderers out there in First Draft Land.

      Book #7? You’re writing them faster than I can read them. I love the title and I’m looking forward to seeing what Tawny and Tillman are up to these days.

  5. Happy New Year, Kay! I’m juggling two WIPs, one nonfiction, one fiction. In February, I’m teaching a 5-week course on serial killers. And I have a few speaking gigs and several guest posts. My “trick” is to not think about the hectic schedule, put my head down and do the work, stay focused. Everything will work out in the end. 🙂

  6. I remember a while back, we had a discussion here about Churchill. He’s one of those historical figures that’s given back so much to everyone – in this case as a statesman and an author. It actually blew me away that he pursued a literary career in addition to saving to the world from the Nazis.

    Thank you for starting January TKZ on a high note. Now I just have to get back to the routine. Grind, grind, grind.


    • Happy New Year, Ben!

      Churchill is an amazing figure, right? His ability to lead in the darkest time would be enough to ensure his place in history. But he was a prolific writer and left behind serious works of history as well as many wonderful and clever quotes.

      Hoping you have a great adventure in 2022!

  7. Happy New Year, Kay! This is the perfect post to begin 2022 here at KZB. Journey perfectly describes the process. Mine isn’t that different from yours. I’m currently in the revision phase with my library cozy mystery novel. Oh, what a tangled web mystery can be. Figure out the actual murderer’s story. Make the “herring stew” of possible suspects, and then set my sleuth hero and friends to work.

    My novel has a date with my developmental editor on the 31st. She’ll give me her unvarnished opinion, which is exactly what I and the book will need. Then it will be more revision, and then I’ll send it to my betas by the end of February. They’ll have it for two weeks, and then send it back to me for one more round, followed by copy edits, etc.

    I’ll be refining the outline for Book 2 while they have it, and plan on starting the draft of that book in April. (I created an Excel workbook last month to track my 2022 writing journey 🙂

    Here’s a productive writing year for everyone at KZB!

    • Good morning, Dale, and Happy New Year!

      Your process sounds very similar to mine. It’s exciting to hear you’re closing in on the finish line, and I’m looking forward to that release date.

      I know I’m biased, but I think mysteries are very hard to write. Figuring out the puzzle and then finding a way to present it to the reader so it slowly builds toward the climax, is difficult for me. I hope it gets easier, but I’m not pinning my hopes on it.

      Have a great week.

  8. Happy 2022, Kay! Love that quote from our beloved Mr. Churchill. How have I never heard it before? Thank you!

    So fun to read about your bookish process. There is a rhythm to this business of writing, isn’t there? I can’t say I’ve hit my stride, but I’m definitely sensing that beat, at least the one that feels natural to me.

    There are so many things to write about that the first question I ask myself is, do I want to spend A LOT of time with the characters and world that might come from this idea? If the answer is no, move on.

    I’m about 30% into my third novel, which is a different sort of book from my second, which was a different sort of book from my first. The adventures keep coming!

    Thanks for giving us a jumpstart into a fantastic new writing year!

    • Good morning and Happy New Year, Lisa!

      Churchill was amazing. His quote about the adventure of writing a book struck a chord. He managed to make it entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time.

      I like the fact that your books are all different, and I’m looking forward to the third one. Your first two novels were terrific.

      Best wishes for a great adventure all year long.

  9. Ahhh . . . we’re back! Talk about withdrawals, Kay! (Is there a “methadone” for TKZers over Christmas and New Year?)

    For me, I’m ramping up my website in January & February, with a little help from Laura Christianson at (Sorry, don’t know how to make that a link…) We’re going to simplify and spruce it up.

    I will be working with Kathi Lipp and her team at Writing at the Red House this year. Looking forward to that.

    I think I mentioned before I’ll be published in February in Chicken Soup for the Soul; and, a couple of days ago I sent in a submission to Guideposts-we’ll see.

    Heard from my agent this morning. She wants to set up a Zoom call. *Gasp*

    As far as stories, I’m having so much fun with Storymatic! **Nod to JSB** I actually have created two stories which remain unfinished, but I finished another, all in one sitting. If any of y’all want to read the finished one, email me, and I’ll send it. It’s called The Camping Trip, and this is one trip you don’t want to go on. Trust me.

    So good to be back. Seems like normal life is here again.

  10. Happy Drink More Red Pop Day*, everyone! OK, good, the thumbs-ups work again. I’ve already applied several.

    Once more unto the breach, dear friends…! I’m happy to see you all as I sit here, bright-tailed and bushy-eyed this morning, ready to set the world afire with…what? I’ve found 150,000 words in 3 old files: Temple of the Permutants, Something Wicked in Ichekaw, and Obliterator .850 one of which I may likely “unto” this year.

    My process varies, under the control of my mind’s creative djinn**. I’m not a believer in “messages,” except in non-fiction.*** The story is the message.

    * I found a birthday card for my sister, once. It said you should only drink on holidays, then listed 366 such, 19 of which were the same ‘Drink More Red Pop Day.’ As if.
    ** Not to be confused with gin. See
    *** A non-fiction m/s, as it grows, acquires sentience, reaching the point where, when I say, e.g., “I think I’ll add another illustration here“, the m/s replies, ❝ИО УОЦ ШОИ❜Т❢❞ The Index, the Illo List, the TOC, the note-to-printer, the text reference, all rise up in rebellion against my feeble attempt, and I decide a little footnote will suffice.

    • Happy New Year and Happy Drink More Red Pop Day to you too, JGuenther!

      It sounds like you’re ready to jump into the new year and sort out those 150K words. Good luck with wherever your adventure takes you this year and always.

  11. Good morning and good new year, o dragon-slyer and townspeople rescuer. I’ve limited myself to one project this year which has been ongoing since last April. It’s set for the first release of the series in June 2022. I’ve developed a process I call the 5-Ps; Preduction, Production, Publishing, Promoting, and Persistence. Once the series is up and running, I’ll do a KZ post about the series development. Hopefully others can get some good from my unfolding experience. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back on the hamster wheel. HYN, Kay! Best for your writing in ’22.

    • Happy New Year to you, Garry!

      I’m very interested to hear about the process you’ve put in place, and I’m looking forward to your TKZ post about it.You might just get a craft-of-writing book out of it. I’ll pre-order a copy.

      Enjoy the journey!

  12. Happy New Year, Kay! I’m loving your treasure maps, particularly the first one. It was the route used by USPS to deliver one of my granddaughter’s Christmas presents from Dayton to Westerville in only ten days! Oh, and it diagrams my thought process as well.

    I have started my writing adventure. It was inspired by a trip to the library. My first phase is to write the darn thing. I am planning to model my marketing after a soap company which I may talk about in an upcoming guest post. We’ll see.

    Have a great year, Kay!

    • Joe! I’m so glad you’re here. When I didn’t see a comment from you first thing this morning, I worried.

      Now about that treasure map. Actually, I copied it from the USPS postal deliverer’s manual.

      You’ve piqued my interest about your marketing plan. I know this is going to be good.

      Happy New Year to you, Joe!

  13. Thank you Kay for a great post to start the year. I’m so glad TKZ is back – it’s inspiring to read about everyone’s plans! I wish everyone all the best for a great 2022!

    • Happy New Year, Linda, and thanks for stopping by.

      I’m with you: it’s wonderful to hear everyone’s plans for the year.

      Have a wonderful week and a great year ahead!

  14. Happy New Year, Kay! My 2022 writing adventures include marketing my very first standalone. (It’s a novelette on KDP.) I’m also editing a novella that will be published by Potter’s Grove Press later this year. And finally, I’m in the research-n-outline stage of a novel I plan to query. It’s all very fun, this writing thing!

    • Happy New Year to you, Priscilla! And congratulations on the release of your novelette!

      Sounds like you have the year well-planned, and I agree with you – it’s all fun. I just pre-ordered a copy of The Hay Bale. Looking forward to reading it.

  15. Happy New Year, Kay, and thanks for getting TKZ off to a good start. I’m waiting for the copy-edited manuscript of my 7th Angela Richman, Death investigator mystery from my publisher, and I spent the holiday break working on a proposal for book #8.
    Wishing you all a safe, happy and productive writing year.

    • Happy New Year to you, Elaine. Sounds like you’re off to a great start in the new year.

      Congratulations on the upcoming release of book #7 in the series and best wishes on #8. Wishing you good health and happiness in 2022.

  16. Ahhh! You’re back!! I’ve been reading the Kill Zone archives to get my daily fix! I’ve just started book #15 since 202 and your first map looks like my thoughts. lol Last night I finally got my word count for the day. Here’s praying I can do it again today.
    Since I have to turn in a proposal for each book, I’ve already gotten the idea for my book…sortof. Then I figure out who my characters are sortof — I don’t really get to know them until I start the story. Then I play what if. This time I brainstormed with a friend and came up with a really good (I think) twist on the story. Time will tell.
    At any rate it has to be in to my editor by May 2…did I tell you I thought there were 5 months between Jan 1 and May 2nd?

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