National Novel Writing Month is back!

Novel fever takes the world by storm.
Symptoms include flashes of brilliance, questionable plotlines, and blatant use of mixed metaphors.

Berkeley, California (Oct 10, 2011) - At midnight on November 1, armed only with their wits, the vague outline of a story, and a ridiculous deadline, more than 250,000 people around the world will set out to become novelists.
Why? Because November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, the world’s largest writing challenge and nonprofit literary crusade. Participants pledge to write 50,000 words in a month, starting from scratch and reaching “The End” by November 30. There are no judges, no prizes, and entries are deleted from the server before anyone even reads them.
So what’s the point? “The 50,000-word challenge has a wonderful way of opening up your imagination and
unleashing creativity,” says NaNoWriMo Founder and Executive Director (and 12-time NaNoWriMo winner) Chris Baty. “When you write for quantity instead of quality, you end up getting both. Also, it’s a great excuse for not doing any dishes for a month.”
More than 650 regional volunteers in more than 60 countries will hold write-ins, hosting writers in coffee
shops, bookstores, and libraries. Write-ins offer a supportive environment and surprisingly effective peer
pressure, turning the usually solitary act of writing into a community experience. That sense of community even extends beyond the page—so much so that several dozen marriages and at least six babies have resulted from NaNoWriMo over the years.
In a few years, those babies will surely take part in NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program, a version of the event geared toward kids and teens. These budding authors also benefit from a community of their peers, as well as the free resources (including lesson plans, workbooks, and a snazzy classroom kit) used by thousands of educators worldwide.
Although the event emphasizes creativity and adventure over creating a literary masterpiece, more than 90
novels begun during NaNoWriMo have since been published, including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, both #1 New York Times Best Sellers.
“Writing a novel in a month inspires incredible confidence in seasoned and first-time novelists alike,” says
NaNoWriMo Program Director Lindsey Grant. “Completing a draft of the novel they’ve been contemplating for ages gives participants a tremendous sense of accomplishment and leaves them wondering what else they’re capable of.”
For more information on National Novel Writing Month, or to speak to NaNoWriMo participants in your area, visit or contact
The Office of Letters and Light is a California-based international non-profit organization. Its programs are the largest literary events in the world. Learn more at


Founded by: Freelance writer Chris Baty and 20 other overcaffeinated yahoos in 1999.
Now run by: The Office of Letters and Light, an august 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Oakland.
How NaNoWriMo got from there to hereIt’s a funny story, actually.
Annual participant/winner totals 1999: 21 participants and six winners
2000: 140 participants and 29 winners
2001: 5000 participants and more than 700 winners
2002: 13,500 participants and around 2,100 winners
2003: 25,500 participants and about 3,500 winners
2004: 42,000 participants and just shy of 6,000 winners
2005: 59,000 participants and 9,769 winners
2006: 79,813 participants and 12,948 winners
2007: 101,510 participants and 15,333 winners
2008: 119,301participants and 21,683 winners
2009: 167,150 participants and 32,178 winners
2010: 200,500 participants and 37, 500 winners
Number of official NaNoWriMo chapters around the world: Over 500
Number of K-12 schools who participated in 2005: Over 100
Number of K-12 schools who participated in 2006: Over 300
Number of K-12 schools who participated in 2007: 366
Number of K-12 schools who participated in 2008: 600
Number of K-12 schools who participated in 2009: 1,295
Number of K-12 schools who participated in 2010: 1,800
Number of NaNoWriMo manuscripts that have been sold to publishing houses: Many (details below)
Number of words officially logged during the 2004 event: 428,164,975
Number of words officially logged during the 2005 event: 714,227,354
Number of words officially logged during the 2006 event: 982,564,701
Number of words officially logged during the 2007 event: 1,187,931,929
Number of words officially logged during the 2008 event: 1,643,343,993
Number of words officially logged during the 2009 event: 2,427,190,537
Number of words officially logged during the 2010 event: 2,872,682,109

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Site of Interest: Publetariat

This weeks site of interest is

WOW! This site is amazing. It's packed full of useful information about the writing industry. A must visit!

About Publetariat

Why Publetariat? 
The indie author tide is rising. Every day there are new stories of authors taking their careers into their own hands and choosing, notresorting to, self-publication.
There's an increasing level of genuine interest in, and respect for, self-publishing and small, independent imprints on websites and in publications that would've sneered at the very idea a decade ago. As they begin to see the financial benefits of indie authorship, growing numbers of mainstream-published authors are self-publishing their back catalogs, reverted works and new works. Now, as indie authorship stands poised to become the 'next big thing' in publishing, the time is right for authors and aspiring authors to see self-publishing for what it is: one among several legitimate means of reaching a readership and pursuing a career in authorship. 
What Is Publetariat? 
Publetariat is an online community and news hub built specifically for indie authors and small, independent imprints. Who needs another online writers' community? If you're an indie author or a small imprint, you do. There are plenty of online sites and communities for writers, but none of them serve all the specific wants and needs of indie authors and small imprints.
When you're an active indie on one of those other sites, it's only a matter of time before more traditional-minded site members start belittling and dismissing you and your work because "you weren't good enough to get a real publishing contract," or some similar nonsense. This is a place where you will never again have to defend your choice to go indie, because everyone here has either done the same thing or supports your decision to do so. 
Who Is Publetariat? 
Publetariat was founded by April L. Hamilton, and its editorial staff includes experts in writing, journalism, editing, book design, publishing in both hardcopy and electronic formats, book marketing and promotion, web design, podcasting, video trailer creation, author services and social media - all topics of great interest and grave importance to indie authors and imprints.  In addition to publishing content from those listed below, we trawl the internet daily to bring you the most valuable content in books, publishing, book promotion, authorship and more from all over the web. 
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Library events for writers

Mystery writers give would-be authors a clue
Libraries in Waukegan and Lincolnshire host mini-conferences for thriller fans and aspiring mystery writers

LINCOLNSHIRE, IL — October 14, 2011 — Fan of mysteries? Working on writing one of your own? Get a peek into the author’s thought process and gain insight into the business side of the writer’s life at a "Love is Murder" Mystery Mini-Conference at a local library next month—a well-timed opportunity for November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). 

Each afternoon event features a panel of published mystery writers who will discuss the joys and challenges of publishing, their secrets of success, and their most recent novels. Participants will have the opportunity for Q&A, and ample time to mingle with the guest authors and network with other attendees. Discussion will be followed by Q&A and a book signing. Books will be available for purchase courtesy of Lake Forest Book Store. 

As a special bonus, one registered participant at each event will win a ticket to the "Love is Murder XIII" Mystery Writers' Conference to be held at the InterContinental Chicago O’Hare in February 2012. The prize is valued at $275.

Writers Revealed: Mystery Writers Panel 
Saturday, Nov. 5, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Waukegan Public Library, 128 N County St, Waukegan
Featuring authors Andrew Grant ("Die Twice"), Shane Gericke ("Torn Apart"), Tasha Alexander ("And Only to Deceive"), and Luisa Buehler (Chicago-based Grace Marsden mysteries).

Love is Murder Mini-Con
Saturday, Nov. 12, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Vernon Area Public Library, 300 Olde Half Day Rd, Lincolnshire
Featuring authors Raymond Benson (official author of the James Bond 007 novels), Michael Harvey ("The Chicago Way"), Jeffrey Small ("The Breath of God"), and Robert Goldsborough ("Three Strikes You're Dead"). The Vernon Area Library event will be preceded by an Agatha Christie presentation with actress Betsy Means of WomanLore at 1:00 p.m. 

The mystery writers events are free and open to all, but registration is required for raffle entry. Call the hosting library to register or visit their website.

About the Waukegan Public Library
Since 1898, the Waukegan Public Library has provided the community with opportunities to learn, gather, and be entertained. The main library is located in downtown Waukegan at 128 N. County Street, just north of the County Building; the Hinkston Park Branch is located at 800 N. Baldwin, in the Waukegan Park District Field House. The library houses one of the largest collections of materials in Lake County. Free parking with library validation is provided at the downtown branch in the City of Waukegan parking garage, at the corner of County and Clayton. For more information, call (847) 623-2041, or visit

About the Vernon Area Public Library District
The Vernon Area Public Library District serves a population of 41,000 within a 32-square-mile area that includes Lincolnshire, Prairie View, and parts of Buffalo Grove, Long Grove, Riverwoods, Vernon Hills, and unincorporated Vernon Township. For more information about the library and its services, visit

# # #
Press Contacts: 

Elizabeth Stearns, Assistant Director of Community Services
Waukegan Public Library

Catherine Savage, Head of Integrated Communications
Vernon Area Public Library

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3 simple rules for writers

The below 3 simple rules are not only true for life in general but also for writers who want to get ahead.

1. Know your goals and go after them. Set aside time to work on your writing. Promote your writing. If you want to be a writer, be one.
2. Don't be afraid to ask. ASK other writers for help and advice. ASK people to support your writing. You might be surprised at how many say yes.
3. Step out of your comfort zone, both with your writing and how you promote it. Try new genres and experiment with your writing. Do a book signing or speak at a conference. You might just find that you're the only one holding you back.

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Interview with Camille Matthews

A bit about the author
Camille Matthews, MSW, LCSW is a clinical social worker and writer who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, complex PTSD and attachment disorders. In 2002, she received her certification in the new field of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) from the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association and established the Pathfinder Program in Farmington, NM where she treated adolescents, children and women victims of domestic violence using EAP.

She teamed with illustrator, Michelle Black to create the Quincy the Horse Books for children ages 5-10. Matthews was born and raised in the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky where her father was a law school professor. She was an only child and her favorite thing to do was visit her grandparents and cousins. She is a lifelong equestrian, avid reader and student of politics who blogs and is an op ed contributor.  She relocated to the Reading, PA area from Northwestern New Mexico in 2010.

What age range is your book for?
Children ages 5-9 and horse lovers of any age.

Can you share a memory of yours or a story of you from when you were within the age range of your target readers?
My grandfather had a farm and I often visited him on the weekends. My favorite horse was a gray mare named Nancy. He would saddle her up so that I could ride her around the pasture. I would pretend that I was Robert E. Lee and she was Traveller.

How has life changed for children today than when you were that age?
Children are much more regimented and protected. They have many planned activities. I loved playing outside from dawn to dusk and did many things that might now be considered dangerous like riding my bike without a helmet, climbing trees, shooting off fireworks on the 4th of July. I am not sure we let children have enough imaginative and unstructured play. 

How is life still the same?
That is a hard question because it has changed a lot. I would say that even in the face of the stresses we face in life today that family is still first and that parents try very hard to be a home base for their children.

What was your favorite toy or activity when you were that age?
I l loved riding my bike and reading.

What inspired the Quincy the Horse books and how did you decide on this age range for your books?
Quincy is a real horse and he had some adventures early in his life on which the stories are based. So I would say that Quincy’s real life experiences inspired me. I had the idea for the Quincy the Horse Books and thought about the stories quite a bit, but I never seemed to take the step of writing them down. Then, during a period where I had to put my life on hold to care for my elderly mother, I was able to take that next step. Part of it was getting in touch with my own childhood again. I know Quincy the Horse has some of the issues I had as a child and I felt a need to express them.

Relationships are an important theme of the Quincy the Horse Books. I wanted the books to be picture books and be appropriate for children who could grasp this aspect so that made them a good fit for the 5-9 age range.

Finally, I have my own children. Over the years, we’ve attended a lot of birthday parties. I love the idea of building a theme gift around a book. If you were to give a gift basket to a child based on your book, what else would be in the basket besides (your book’s title)?
I would envision a basket that contained Quincy Moves to the Desert along with a watercolor set and pad for doing artwork because the artwork in the book is so striking. I would also add a set of horse stickers showing different breeds of horses, some candy corn to feed and a shiny red apple!

You can find out more about Camille Matthews’ World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Matthews and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions.

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My Characters are Frozen...Help!

The title might seem a bit strange but let me explain. At one time I was in the middle of a novel, writing everyday for a definite number of hours usually from about 9 to 11. After that I would take time out to ride my exercise bike and then to have lunch. This routine I did daily, religiously you might say because I found that like any other routine once you got into the habit of that being what you did everyday at that time, then you would naturally just get up and do it. There would be no slacking off, no procrastinating, just do it. I found that worked well for me.

In fact it worked so well that once I got into the novel and knowing my characters a bit better, I loved being with them each day. Loved it so much that in the afternoon, after lunch, I would find myself sneaking back to my studio and writing, writing, writing. Do you think I might have been a bit obsessed? You would be right on.

I would hurry and get my other work done. I had a young child in school and I could usually work around the time she was there, until around two thirty. Pick her up, come home, and no more writing until I could sneak back again after she was tucked in bed for the night. Then sometimes I would work into the wee hours of the morning. Just depending how fast my characters were getting around and how exciting their life was. ( I guess you might have figured out by now, that other than my writing and my child, I didn't have much of a life)

But there were times when I did have visitors, or other obligations that I just couldn't get away from. This brings me to the particular day that I had to be in the kitchen baking and cooking, which I didn't mind once I got started, but that day I found myself thinking only about my characters. Little dialogues would go running through my head and I just couldn't take the time to write anything down, let alone sneak up to my writing studio and get back into my book. Then an odd picture came into my mind. I call it odd because that is how it felt, sort of unworldly. There in my mind's eye were all my present characters exactly where I had left them, all standing like in a play, frozen in whatever position or room or frame of mind that I had left them last. It was a sight to behold and that is how they stayed every time I thought of them until I could finally get back to my studio and back to my writing world.

Then with the stoke of the first key, they all magically started moving, interacting, talking, crying, being angry or sad or happy. And this made me very happy to be back interacting once again with my unfrozen friends.
Happy writing everyone!

Copyright 2011 by Carol Marlene Smith

Carol Marlene Smith is an author and artist living in Nova Scotia, Canada. She has four published novels and a number of short stories. She loves to write about the positive power of writing! Email 
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Site of Interest: Write Wild

This weeks site of interest is Write Wild

Write Wild is run by Christie Wright Wild.

"I wanted to have a blog that focused on picture books. My goal is to reach ALL writers, though. I hope that parents and teachers will also enjoy my blog, because of the picture book and literacy aspect it offers. I chose to have a leprechaun "theme" because I love four-leaf clovers and I can find them easily. My record is 21 in ten minutes (or something like that). For those of you that choose to follow me on my journey toward the pot of gold we call publication, I call you my fellow rainbow riders"writers" because we are all searching for the best way to find that pot of gold at the end of the writing rainbow. Enjoy!"

One of the great things about this site is the Picture Book Contest.

More about the contest:
 "This quarterly contest is held four times a year:
  1. WINTER (January, February, March)
  2. SPRING (April, May, June)
  3. SUMMER (July, August, September)
  4. FALL (October, November, December)
The winner will receive a free detailed critique from me. I know it's not a national contest that offers cash or publication. But it's a fun way to participate in entering a contest, get a bit of visibility, and boost your confidence.

I will announce the winner's name and story title (as seen below). I promise to give my honest opinion and follow Margot Finke's advice of what a professional critique should include (even though mine are free). But actually, you'd WIN it! So go ahead, be brave.

There will be one winner per quarter, maybe two. Please enter only one of the four categories per contest:

  1. EARLY PBs (age 2-5) Just think pre-school. (Shorter, simpler, etc.)
  2. REGULAR PBs (age 4-8) The majority of PB's in elementary schools are these.
  3. NON-FICTION PBs (age 5-10) The market always has room for these.
  4. RHYMING PBs Hard to write well. Make it shine.
Entries will be judged based on the following criteria:  proper age range, 1500 words or less, fits the category you entered, creativity, language, and marketability.

How to enter:
  • Become a follower of my blog.
  • Enter by sending me an e-mail.
  • The subject line should read:  BLOG CONTEST: (SEASON), (CATEGORY), (TITLE)
  • The story must NOT be an attachment.  Copy and paste the story into the body of the e-mail.
  • Once I post the winner, wait 1-2 weeks for your critique to arrive in your e-mail's inbox via a Word attachment.
***You may enter any time.  I will read, review, and keep track of all entriesthroughout each contest. I will post the winners on the 4th Saturday in the month following the end of each contest. And I will provide a link below to show off the winners!***  

Disclaimer:  I will treat all writers with a professional level of respect. All original works will be kept private and confidential and will not be shared with others. This is my promise. I may change and edit the contest and rules over time according to the number of entries I may receive, etc. 

Reminder: If ever you should get your winning manuscript published, be sure to let me know. I'd love to interview you for my monthly HIGH FIVE feature, where I interview debut picture book authors! Published authors* are allowed to enter (but only if you have two or fewer books published)."

The site also offers author interviews, writer quotes and more. Well worth checking out.
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What your website should have

We're all aware that the internet has changed the way writers can market and promote their work. The possibilities for building an audience and finding new paid assignments are numerous thanks to social media sites like facebook, twitter and linkedin. Although such sites are great on many levels and each offer advantages for writers to network and further their careers, a website dedicated to the writer and their career is a must for optimising their online presence and establishing themselves as a professional.

The first step is obviously to claim a domain for your site. You can get cheap and easy to use websites from hosts like

Once you have your site the next step is to decide on the look and feel of the site. It should reflect your style, look professional and be easy to navigate.

Now for the content. This is probably the hardest part as you want to give your visitors everything they might need but without it overwhelming them.
Here's a list of the basics you might want to include:

  • Your contact information. You don't necessarily have to put your full address and phone numbers (remember safety first always) but an email address or contact form is a must.
  • A bio. Give basic background information about yourself and your career so far.
  • A photo of yourself (professional headshot is best). People like to see who they are dealing with.
  • Testimonials/endorsements from past clients.
  • A sales page for your products with an easy to use 'add to cart' feature.

You want to make everything simple for your readers so they can navigate your site with ease. Also if you include links to other websites on your pages make sure they open in a new window so that your readers don't lose your site when they click.

Some useful widgets you might want to include are:

Share widgets are available for most other social media sites too or alternatively add a bar to your website using a widget like the free tool bar from to make it even more interactive.

What other features do you think are must haves?
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Interview with Maha Huneidi

Can you share a little about yourself with us?
I’m a wife, mother, and grandmother and I finally found out what I want to be when I grow up. I always loved writing, but never thought I’d publish a book because I thought of writing as just a hobby. After reading Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich,” I decided to follow his advice and write down my goal, but when it came down to it, I had no idea what my passion was, until one day when I was writing I noticed how exhilarated I felt, so my goal became to publish “When Monsters Get Lonely,” as well as my website, They were both launched together.

Tell us briefly about your book and what you feel is the most important topic/sub-message you share.
In my book, Monsters Get Lonely, Hannah’s worst fear comes to life when her monster pays her a visit in the dark of night. Hannah finds it difficult to control her dreadful fear, until Gams reveals how our thoughts magically create our lives.

The most important issue I want kids to understand is they create their lives with their thoughts. If they think monsters are scary, they’ll just end up being scared; but what if monsters were lonely, maybe they just need a friend and maybe they can help us come up with ideas. Hannah wants to be a movie director; maybe other kids want to be writers. Could the monster help them come up with ideas for stories?

Does your family and friends inspire any of your books, characters, or plots?
Yes, two of my books are based on my granddaughter and myself. I think we have to draw from real life to make our characters believable, even though the characters may not be exactly the same. My granddaughter was just a toddler when I wrote the book, so the character is not really her, but that’s how I perceived her.

Can you share your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is a bit long, and I don’t know it all by heart, even though I learned it by heart in school. It had a profound effect on me, and I always practiced it when it came to my children. It’s Khalil Gibran’s poem on children from his book “The Prophet”:

“Your children are not your children, they are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”

What is the best advice you've ever received?
I can tell you the best advice I read and wish I could follow “Moderation. Small helpings. Sample a little bit of everything. These are the secrets of happiness and good health” Julia Child. I’m afraid I indulge!

If you could have coffee with anyone (living or dead, real or fictional), who would it be and why?
I would love to have coffee with Khalil Gibran, if only to listen to him talk about anything. I’m sure that even his small talk would be inspiring.

What are your top three favorite books and why?
“The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran. This book hit a nerve; it made me want to cry for the beauty of its words. I reread it several times, and will definitely read it many more times.

“Shogun” by James Clavell. I read this book back in the 80’s, and you know how you feel sad when you finish a book because the characters grow on you? This was one such book. You get so involved with the characters because they’re growing and changing. I also loved the historical background. I actually checked it out in the encyclopedia.

And last but not least, “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel. I love the passion in Latin American literature, and this book was magical. I loved the imagery of Tita’s tears that flooded Dr. Brown’s house, and that of Gertrudis’ passion that set the shower house on fire, and I just loved that every chapter began with a recipe and that the food took on Tita’s feelings and affected everyone. I do believe that a good cook infuses his cooking with his passion. I’m a foodie and I love to cook. I even tried one of the recipes but I had to improvise. I used dried roses and chicken, instead of fresh roses and quail… This was another story I was so very sad to finish reading.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I make my husband wear headphones to watch TV because I write mostly on my recliner in the TV room. He accuses me of not being able to multi task. If multi tasking means watching TV and writing something coherent at the same, then I plead guilty. But you know what? I’m great at juggling. I can cook three or four different things at the same time without burning, overcooking, or undercooking any of them. To me that’s multitasking, but I’ll call it juggling for argument’s sake.

Could you share about any current writing projects?
Currently I’m writing to add pages to my website I also have two stories that I’m revising. I’d love to be able to concentrate on them exclusively, but I have too much to do at the moment. I intend to publish both of them next year.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Yes, I’d like to invite readers who read my book and website to leave their reviews and comments here:, or they can contact me on my website.  I would also like to invite them to build their own page by playing pretend roles and writing about it here:

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