Tag Archives: books

NaNoWriMo: Week 1 Pep Talk – There Is No Wrong Way to NaNo

nanowrimo2017shirtNovember is National Novel Writing Month, an international phenomenon during which authors (or budding authors) challenge themselves to write a 50,000-word first draft of a novel.  Participants can create an account on www.nanowrimo.org  and register their novel, friend other writing “buddies” and receive regular writing pep talks from best-selling authors such as Gene Luen Yang, Charlaine Harris, Diana Gabaldon, John Green and many others.  Writing happens off-site, either by typing into a word document or crafting with good old pencil and paper, but participants are encouraged to log their daily word count of 1667 words and join in online forums for support to help them stay on track to reach their word count goal. 

A few years ago my family attended a group event at church.  We’d all gone apple picking together, and then had met up at the church to make as many pies as we had supplies, and the pies were then donated to the local food pantry for Thanksgiving dinners.  I was showing my kids how to do this – peel the apples, slice them this thin, put them in this bowl – when I looked up at my friend working next to me.  She hadn’t peeled her apples, and she was chopping them into large pieces. 

Well that’s wrong, I thought.  To be honest, I might have even said it out loud.  And then I looked down the long table where several of us were working, and saw that – darn it – everyone was making pie differently than I was.  And none of them were wrong.

NaNoWriMo is like that. There’s really no wrong way to do it. Whether you’re a pantser (writing by inspiration or “by the seat of your pants”), a plotter (plotting the entire story before writing one word of novel) or somewhere in between, as long as you’re putting words on paper, you’re adding toward the total 50,000 words of your novel. No editing, no rewriting, no critique partners. Just get that story out and on paper – you can edit and rewrite in December or January (the “What’s Next” months post Nano). NaNoWriMo is a great excuse to give yourself permission to “finally” write that story that’s been percolating while you’ve been busy adulting – attending classes, raising kids or working a 9-5 job. For thirty days, tap into your creative side and just…Play.

Ok, ok – believe me, I’ve heard all the excuses, and mostly, from my own mouth. Or more accurately, my own mind-mouth

–I don’t have time. You do. In fact, you have more time that you think, if you cut out social media and mindless TV

–I don’t have any ideas. You do. Probably a notebook full of random things you’ve jotted down. Or pick a headline from a news story. Or write about that relative.

–I don’t have any support.  Actually you’ve got that, too, if you check out the online forums. Tell your family, roommates and work colleagues that you’re going to try this NaNo thing, and yeah, that might mean fewer nights hanging out, but only for 30 days, at the end of which you’ll have a good chunk of a first draft of a novel. Believe me, you’ll find your tribe, get support and have fun.  I guarantee that you won’t regret it. 

So join us – The world needs your novel!


This post was originally sent as a NaNoWriMo Week 1 Pep Talk to the USA: New Hampshire Region and published on the NH Writers Project Blog on November 1. 



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Friday Fun: The Smartest Card

Time for a shameless plug:


We just dropped our son off at college this week, and you know what I’m the most envious about?  That he’s going to school in Boston, which gives him access to the Boston Public Library!  He’s our third child in college, and they’re all good readers, but even so I’ve encouraged all of them to visit their town’s public library and apply for a free card. Public library collections are very different from college library collections, since the colleges need to cater to a specific audience – namely the professors and students, focusing their collection on materials that can supplement coursework.  Years ago I worked at a small public library in Durham, home to the University of New Hampshire, and one day two young ladies walked in, obviously new students at the school. They looked around the small magazine reading area, taking the entire library in in a few glances. Back then the library (now in it’s own gorgeous building) rented space in a storefront of a strip mall and the staff did their best with the tiny, odd space. We had a magazine reading area, children’s area, public computers and a small staff area in the back of the storefront. Usually we’d get visitors who would look around and then compare it to the big, beautiful library in their home town or places they went on vacation. But these two girls looked around, sighed, and one said to the other, “Oh, yeah. That’s more like home.”  Our tiny library was familiar to them, a haven of normalcy in their big, unfamiliar college territory.

What’s in your wallet?

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Friday Fun: My Bookshelves

book shelves

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August 19, 2016 · 8:30 am

Writing Prompt Wednesday: Read or Really Happened?

read or reality

For me, it’ wondering if I ever actually rode a unicycle.

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Friday Fun: You Should See the Research

the research

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May 6, 2016 · 5:10 am

A to Z Blogging Challenge: V, Variety

The variety of stories available to enter and live in for a time is truly wonderful.

which door


During April, I’m participating in The A to Z Blogging Challenging, blogging 26 days of the month on writing topics while systematically moving through the alphabet. The goal is to develop a more regular blogging habit and network with other bloggers.  Join us!

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A to Z Blogging Challenge: N, National Library Week

books-that-is-exactly-how-they-workLast week many in libraryland celebrated National Library Week, so, basking in the afterglow, I thought I’d take an entry to give a nod to our libraries.  The theme this year was #LibrariesTransform and patrons and staff alike were encouraged to use the hashtag on social media when commenting about how libraries transform individuals and communities.  We had a banner week – kicked off by our municipal budget being approved during the Town Vote – which really demonstrates that we must be doing something right. (Whew!)

I’ve always believed that in order for someone to really understand the value of a library in a community, they have to experience an “Ah – ha” moment.  A patron has to connect with the right book or service that meets their needs at the right time; making the value of the library very personal.

My hometown in New Jersey didn’t have a library, and though I was a voracious reader — and writer, eventually receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Playwriting from New York University — my “Ah ha” moment came much later.  We had just moved to Indiana where my husband was getting his PhD, and I wandered into the public library with two small children.  As a kid I hadn’t been familiar with the public library, I pretty much lived in the school library during the year, and we didn’t have many books at home.  My mother (who, ironically was a pediatrician – nowadays pediatricians partner with librarians and educators about developing language and vocabulary through parents reading aloud to children)  thought reading was a frivolous activity that would only contribute to our already poor eyesight deteriorating worse.  If I desperately needed research material for a school paper (and our set of Encyclopedia Britannica couldn’t resolve it) Dad would drive me to the Shrewsbury or  to the Freehold Public Libraries twenty minutes away…with their threateningly tall floor to ceiling shelves, 1970’s boxy architecture and shushing librarians (another fun fact: my current library’s addition is one of those 1970’s boxy structures, so it was oddly familiar to me from my first visit).  So visiting the main library in South Bend was a real eye-opener.  The room –imagine, a room dedicated to children’s books!– temporary as it was, since they were renovating the actual Children’s Room –  was bright and spacious.  The shelving was low.  My kids surveyed the landscape like natives, immediately at home.

When I mentioned to the librarian that I was struggling with toilet training our oldest, the librarian offered me a canvas bag of stuff – books, an audio cassette/book combo and a VHS tape – something from their themed bag collection that they had for parents and teachers, and this one was all about toilet training.  Ever skeptical, I checked out the bag and shared it with our oldest, and, as it goes during “Ah ha” moments, Something happened.  A patron was matched with exactly the right item at exactly the right time.  Adelia sat with her dad and I, reading Alona Frankel’s classic Once Upon A Potty.  Then we tried the VHS tape, depicting an different animated potty story.  Something clicked with our daughter.  We started to talk about Prudence (the character in the book) and her struggles with waiting and sitting (and sit and sit and sit and sit) on the potty, and Adelia somehow, as a 3 year old, identified with Prudence.  She saw a character in a book mirroring and validating her experience, and she saw this character endure and overcome. It was amazing.  This bag of stuff from the library – that I had been so skeptical about – had been the very thing that our family needed to get through this crisis.  It was the Ah-ha moment that made me a believer in the value of libraries to transform lives.


During April, I’m participating in The A to Z Blogging Challenging, blogging 26 days of the month on writing topics while systematically moving through the alphabet. The goal is to develop a more regular blogging habit and network with other bloggers.  Join us!


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