November is National Novel Writing Month, and a number of budding authors have been trying their hand at the game.
NaNoWriMo is an internet-based collaborative network of writers that promotes novel writing. Started in 1999, its goal is to inspire writers to finish their projects. Cherokee County is home to a number of writers, including Josh Hutchins, Breanne Gustin, and Bob McQuitty.
Hutchins has been writing for years, but only until recently has he been able to turn his skills into a novel. He runs a podcast called "Twilight History," and his new novel, "Romano Saxon War," stems from his long-running serial.
"Twilight History" is a combination of science fiction and alternate history. The protagonist lives on Earth, but travels through different dimensions and to different worlds.
"We've got a hundred episodes right now. It's hours and hours of content. It is voice-acted and sound-scaped. They are dark and twisty stories associated with alternate history," said Hutchins.
After having scripted 16 episodes of the podcast, Hutchins' partner, Jordan Harbor, convinced him to turn it into a novel.
It can be very difficult for writers to finish novels on their own. For that reason, Hutchins became a part of the Oklahoma Writing Federation Inc., a nonprofit group dedicated to promoting higher standards for authors.
Hutchins was first inspired to write fiction after watching a TV series. He bought the books and didn't like one of the characters, so he said to himself, "I can write this better."
Hutchins, now an attorney, was always writing in high school and throughout college. He jokingly said that his legal writing professor told him on one assignment that "it was the worst legal writing assignment that I have ever read, but you had me on the edge the whole time!"
He submitted to Amazon.com, which published the novel. It is in Paperback and on Kindle.
Breanne Gustin of Keys published "Naturally," her book of poetry, when she was in college in 2005. She had written verse throughout high school and into college, inspired by the small town in which she grew up in rural Arkansas.
As a freshman at University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, she came across a publisher and submitted her portfolio.
"I remember receiving the letter that they'd like to publish my poetry, and that was extremely exciting. I was involved in bits along the way, approving the cover art and writing the cover information," she said.
Gustin, who wrote under her maiden name of Breanne Brake, said it's weird to think of where she was then, and where she is now. She believes if she were to resubmit her work, now as a mother, her book would look very different.
"It's like sharing a little of my journal, so after I got over the excitement of getting it published, I got nervous that people would read it. It was definitely outside of my comfort zone. It felt very personal," she said.
The book was well-received by her community, and she sees it as a part of her that she can leave with posterity.
To other aspiring writers, she recommends going for it.
"I was nervous about trying in the first place, but I always had a lot of expectations on me. I wanted to have something to show for it. It was worth it. Even though it's not on everyone's shelf, it's on my shelf, and my kids think it's awesome," she said.
Retired NSU professor Bob McQuitty published "Prost, Herr Meier: Toast Mr. Meier," in 2015. It's about a teenager who explores his political identity after having moved to Germany following World War II His worldview is again challenged later in life as he returns to Germany during a time where communism has a hold over the country.
McQuitty was unavailable for comment at press time.