Sunday, November 01, 2009


NaNoWriMo a Go Go!

It's official. Today is Day 1 of National Novel Writing Month! Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

If you've decided to take the challenge and are "nanoing," I applaud you already for making the commitment! Now, you just have to plant your butt in chair and write. It doesn't matter whether you outlined, are finishing a W.I.P., or are writing by the seat of your pants, the important thing is to just do it. Tell your friends and family about your plans and ask them to respect your writing time.

NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty says, "Taking care of everyone's needs while still finding time to buy groceries and bathe every couple of days can be a feat." LOL. Let's hope you can still find time to bathe! But he's right about cutting back on everyone's needs. This is you time. You deserve it! Chris also adds, "Think of November as an all-expenses-paid, 30-day vacation to novel-land. It's a place where you can whoop and holler and dance the crazy dance. A place where you conjure new worlds, dream oversized dreams, and explore the wilds of your imagination. For one month, you get to orient your life around your creative spark, rather than vice versa." Here, here.

If you are new to NaNoWriMo, WOW! had an issue last November focusing on novel writing, called A Novel Idea. In that issue, Suzanne Pitner, a three time NaNo winner, wrote a great article called NaNoWriMo Applied. It's full of wonderful resources and encouragement for Nanoers.

So celebrate today. Grab your favorite snacks and open up a blank page or your W.I.P., and have fun. You can do it!

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Interview with Madeline Mora-Summonte, Runner-Up

Madeline Mora-Summonte’s work has appeared in over 20 publications, including Highlights for Children, Storyhouse, and Every Day Fiction. She’s written poetry, personal essays and book reviews, but her first love is fiction in all its forms, from flash to novels. Every week, she attends a writing workshop where the talent and the creativity of the group continues to amaze her. The workshop, led by mystery author Blaize Clement, is where the seeds of this story took root. For the fifth consecutive year, Madeline is participating in November’s National Novel Writing Month. A four time winner, her goal this year is an extremely rough draft of a YA horror novel.

She lives with her husband/best friend in beautiful Sarasota where they don’t spend nearly enough time walking on the beach and collecting seashells as they’d like.

You can visit her website at

Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Summer 2008 Flash Fiction Contest! The last paragraph of your story gives me goosebumps! It’s great! Where’d you get your idea or inspiration for this story?

Madeline: Thank you so much! What a wonderful compliment! This story emerged - almost whole - from a writing exercise. I attend a weekly writing workshop, led by mystery author Blaize Clement, where the group does semi-timed writing based on a given word or phrase. The one that triggered this story was “a disguise.” Who knew, right? But that’s the magic of writing.

WOW: I guess I should never underestimate the power of a simple writing exercise! NaNoWriMo, on the other hand, is not a simple exercise. I saw on your website that you participated in and completed NaNoWriMo for the past five years. That’s quite a feat! Does it get any easier each year you complete it? Do you have ideas before you start, or do you just dive in head first on November 1st?

Madeline: Let me just say first off that I LOVE NaNoWriMo. I look forward to it like a kid looks forward to Christmas. I pull out my NaNo t-shirts, wipe out my NaNo mug, display my NaNo postcards and other goodies. Even my husband gets into it, presenting me with a “good luck” card at the start and a “congratulations” one at the end!

Every year is different. I think I winged it a couple of times, but I prefer some level of preparation so I usually approach it with a particular project in mind, notes and brief character sketches at the ready. I do play with different genres. This year I tried a YA horror/mystery type of thing, and it was a lot of fun.

WOW: Have you used, or do you plan to use, any of the material from NaNoWriMo for your short stories/flash fiction?

Madeline: I don’t think so. Somewhere in my mind I have a dividing line - novels over here, short stories/flash over there. I have noticed, though, that while the novel ideas tend to stay put, the flash ideas like to cross over and settle down.

WOW: Have you considered writing a novel for publication? If yes, are you working on one now? If no, why not?

Madeline: I am in the process of revising a novel. I love writing flash fiction, but my ultimate goal is to be a novelist. I’ve lost count of the number of manuscripts banished to my closet. Some of those never made it out for submission - I knew they just weren’t good enough. Others came close to securing an agent - requests for partials and fulls kept coming. One ms (a NaNo novel!) actually managed to snag an agent - she wasn’t able to sell it, though, and after our contract was up, we amicably parted ways.

But I have learned something from every single one of those manuscripts and experiences, and I am a better writer for it today. It’s a process, and one I hope I don’t ever stop learning from and growing with.

WOW: Also on your website, I read how you started creating stories by dictating them to your mother. I got started as a writer by dictating stories to my parents, too. At the time, did writing down the stories make your nightmares more controllable? Do you find that writing now helps you organize and control your thoughts, too?

Madeline: If I remember correctly, it helped at the time. Now, though, some of the scariest things I come across are from stories and books!

I sometimes use my journal to unclutter my mind, but I don’t use fiction writing to organize my thoughts. If anything, that’s where I let it all out - the craziest, the scariest, the dumbest ideas -plop out on the paper.

WOW: It’s always a great feeling to let it all out! What do you hope to accomplish next in your writing career?

Madeline: You know that feeling you get when you read a great story or a wonderful book? How you can’t wait to tell people about it, how you can’t wait for someone you know to read it so you can discuss it? I’ve had that experience many times and, for a reader, there’s nothing like it. That’s what I want to do. I want to give that feeling to other readers, just like it was, and still is, given to me, by so many great writers.

Click this link to read Madeline’s award winning entry. For more information on Madeline and her writing, you can visit her website.

Last week to enter the Winter '09 Flash fiction Contest with Guest Judge Literary Agent Janet Reid! Visit the Contest Page.

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Sunday, November 30, 2008


What You Can Learn from NaNoWriMo Winners

National Novel Writing Month ends today, so I thought I'd share an article with some final thoughts about NaNoWriMo. How did everyone do with the challenge this year? Any success stories to discuss? :) --MP

by Rochelle Melander

...NaNoWriMo winners will finish a 50,000-word novel by midnight on November 30th. Earlier this month, I interviewed several NaNoWriMo Winners by email. Every writer can learn something from the success of these writers. Here are my favorite tips:

1. Busy is not an excuse. In fact, many of the NaNoWriMo Winners keep chaotic schedules. Winner Elizabeth McKinney from Winston-Salem wrote her novel while also writing professionally for her full-time job. Winner Nicole Gustasa from California said, “Not only did I finish National Novel Writing Month last year, but I did it while I was moving, finalizing my divorce and working a 60-hour a week job!” Never whine about being too busy to write. If you want to write, you’ll find time to write.

2. No MFA? No problem. Many of the wannabe writers I meet put off their writing careers until they can get more education or experience. Don’t wait. Educate yourself by reading and attending workshops. Get experience by writing. Winner Susan Drolet said, “When I actually finished an entire novel, I realized that you don't have to be a professional writer or have a degree in journalism to put words together to make a coherent story. I am so proud of my accomplishment!”

3. Success creates success. Every NaNoWriMo winner I talked to was proud of their 50,000-word accomplishment—and they should be. NaNoWriMo success boosted the winners’ writing confidence and spilled over into other areas as well. Winner Kristine Augustyn said, "Because I actually completed the novel I feel that I can do many more things. It has given me greater confidence and inspiration and in turn I have inspired others to try things." Kristine gained the confidence to start a new business, Badge of Intent. For me, the discipline of writing gave me the knowledge and the confidence to create and stick to an exercise program.

You don’t need to be a National Novel Writing Month winner to know what successful writers know. Take a look at your own writing successes. Perhaps you committed to and finished a journaling program. Maybe you finished a big writing project on time. Or you got that first big article published. Ask your self, “What practices led to that success?” Make a list. Do more of the same—and you will be more successful. It’s that simple.

Visit the National Novel Writing Month website for more success stories.
Kristine Augustyn’s website is Badge of Intent.

Right Now! Coach Rochelle Melander supports people in writing to transform their lives and businesses. If you’re ready to establish credibility, make more money, and market your work by writing a book, blog, or Web site, get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Blog Entry for the 21st of Nano

21 November 2007 (Real World Date)

Well, fellow nano-ers, here we are three weeks into that wild, type till you drop, adventure. To those who have been watching, cheering us on, nodding and smiling weakly, we do know you are out there and as soon as it’s over we’ll pay attention to you again. This is a bleary eyed, sore wristed, attempt to cheer everyone on.

Since nano began on the first of nano, so long ago, I didn’t know what to expect. I started with the goal of simply keeping up at 1,667 words a day. This was so doable for me that I challenged myself to 2,000 words just to put some padding on in the event real life intruded. I have my total word count up to 40,000 now. However, let me tell you about life.

My family and I chose a cell company several years ago that was just getting started, a Montana owned company. We stayed with them and I think they have changed hands three times. They renewed our contract every time I went in to ask a question or replace a phone. Each time I was assured I was getting a deal. I added a third phone because a nice lady convinced me it was cheaper. Suddenly, we were paying huge bills and questioning the personnel who got out another contract. We made three payments in September and again paid an October bill. The reminder to pay them text kept coming up anyway. This month I opened the bill to see a whopping bill for $280.00. Enough is enough.

This bit of real life nearly cut my day’s word count down considerably. After standing around in a competitor’s store and filling out paper work, we signed a contract. Okay, now we have two new phones, funny how phones only work with the company you have a contract with. We have two new numbers to memorize, or put on speed dial. I also have to break up with the old cell company.

But, last night, when I should have been reading a book about Halo: The Flood, to my son before bed, I let him sit in front of the desk top while I finished up my daily supply of at least 2,000 words.

The stove that caught fire is gone, the new stove is working well. The new cells are working and I will turn them off when I nano and, as always, forget to turn them back on!

If again, you are a fellow nano-er and think you are too far behind, put the bedtime story off, put the kids in front of a really risqué video, turn off those phones and write!

For our cheer leaders and the people in our lives who are rolling their eyes, go ahead, roll those eyes, by the 30th of Nano life will return to normal and we can boast about that novel we wrote for the rest of the year. Your kindness has not gone unnoticed, when we come up for air, we’ll take you to McDonald’s.

Be well and write what you can! I’ll see you again about the 30th of Nano.

Sally Franklin Christie

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Sunday, November 18, 2007


Subject: Mid NaNo

This is my first year as a participant in what we call NaNo. November is National Novel Writing Month, and people all over the world take up the challenge of NaNo. The challenge is simply to write at least a 50,000 word novel by the 30th of November. It isn’t complicated.

So, in October, I was still arguing with my inner editor about my ability to pull off a project that demanded 1,667 words a day, just to keep up. I think I can, I think I can, was my mantra coming up on the end of October.

My family can be very demanding. I have a brand new baby grandson for distraction. The phone rings too often. To make time for writing I had to draw a line, put up boundaries. Risk people being put out by my need to have time away from them while I wrote my 50K.

I started out by making a cap that has the words “Not Now I Am Nanoing” across the front. I rehearsed it with my family. If I wear the NaNo hat, unless their heads catch fire, I am going to have to get back to them. My frequent phoners were made well aware before the event that I was going to be incredibly busy and would be turning off my phones during the time I needed to devote to the ‘project.’

The first half of NaNo has passed and my family has been pretty good about letting me NaNo. However, when the stove caught fire a few days ago, I abandoned my ‘project’ and opted to help save the house. The fire was put out, but the stove was a total loss.

I have been able to keep my inner editor away. I try to bang out 2,000 words every day. I haven’t skipped any days and, as I write this, I have 33,622 words. When I feel a hard session coming, I simply change characters and pick up the story from another point of view. Three major characters are taking up the slack. I gave up on correcting spelling for fear of giving the inner editor a toe in the door.

During the next two weeks, less than two weeks, now, I plan to continue to set daily word goals. I keep the NaNo hat near and know where the off buttons are on my phones. Yes, I do forget to turn them back on, but the voice mail tells the opening scene, so callers are entertained. I am well into the last days of NaNo and when I reach the 35K mark I’ll start tying up loose ends.

To those who are NaNoing and feel wretchedly behind, you can pump up that word count. It isn’t too late to carve out more time, turn off those phones, stay away from that email and make a NaNo hat.

Be Well and Write Well.

Sally Franklin Christie

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