NaNoWriMo in a Blink

NaNoWriMo 2012 is over. Somehow, unlike past years, this blog was silent throughout the entire month. I was dreadfully irresponsible regarding my blogging. Yes, that does usually happen during the school year, but it’s no excuse, and certainly not during NaNo. So this is to recap the month, which was full of firsts and frustrations, tied with a bow of success!

 I am not teaching a writing class this year, so had no students to ‘force’ through the YWP. I also did not lead it as an after school program, for various reasons. I did put up a poster to chart my own progress, and I spread the information out to some other interested teachers, but as far as I know, I was the only one in the school writing. (I did get a surprising bit of interest in my progress, so will probably repeat that next year, and may again be the staunch supporter of the school’s YWP.)

However, this year, I decided to shoot for the full 50k. Then, I had an extra surprise: my wife decided to write! It was a very different experience, pursuing our goals together. Then, we decided to get more social than I have in the past. We attended the regional kick-off party, the “Evening of Scribbling Recklessly” (all-night write-in for our region), and even the TGIO party on Dec 1. We made some friends, got well acquainted with our fantastic MLs, and both succeeded in writing over 50,000 words!

My wife wrote an Elven Fire campaign, similar to The Beginner GM, which was my project from last year. I wrote The Mayan Millennium, and was surprised at how much my characters took over and guided the work this time around. Pleasantly surprised, I should add. I think they made it a much better story than I had planned! I’m glad that I didn’t abandon it at the beginning of NaNo and switch to something else. I stayed faithful to the work, and it rewarded me well. I finished Mayan at 50,090 words.

Another new thing? I used the writing program Scrivener this year and LOVED it. It’s a fantastic program that any writer would benefit from trying, in my opinion. Winning NaNoWriMo allowed me to buy it at 50% off it’s usual price. Great deal, and now I own it.

What’s next? Well, I’m planning to submit a story called Slave Princess to the quarterly Writers of the Future contest. Slave Princess is a novella that was never posted to my website or otherwise much advertised, mostly written for a friend during a failed NaNoWriMo attempt in the past. However, I’ve dug it back out of the dust and am now editing and revising to send it in to WotF. After that, I have two novels to edit! Mayan Millennium and On Common Ground. One of them will be going to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest, and the other will get agent-shopped and then self-published (if it isn’t picked up first) this summer! The question is, which one gets what?? Yet to be determined. I’m horrible at choosing between great options!

Also, my amazing wife has taken up a hobby of cover artwork! She did several NaNo covers through the forums, and modified / finished a cover concept that someone else offered for On Common Ground! I love the new look, front to back.

Oh, there’s one more thing that will be new, but started in November: the website! is getting a redesign, courtesy of Stephanie from I am super-excited about this, and will try to keep updates posted here as it happens. (If you have any thoughts about features or pages you’d like to see on the site, PLEASE comment and let me know so I can get them included in the big redesign!)

Happy Holidays, everyone.


We’ll talk about where I’ve been later. First, I want to celebrate! I now officially have a published work. Elven Fire for the Beginner GM  is finished and published, through the wonderful folks at It took several re-uploads for small corrections, but it’s done and available on CreateSpace and Amazon.

Last summer, George F. Rice published the  Elven Fire manual, introducing his family’s 20-year project to the world.
Elven Fire is a new RPG tabletop game, like many others available on the market, but with some very unique aspects such as the Damage Class table that allows a player to use any kind of die in existence (or that can be conceived) to play the game. In addition, it is more “family friendly” than many in the genre, while still maintaining the classic, high fantasy style that has made these types of games famous.

Elven Fire for the Beginner GM is not an alternate manual. Instead, it is a guide for inexperienced GMs of Elven Fire (or if you’ve never even heard of RPG games before!). ‘The Beginner GM’ includes an introduction to the special challenges of being a GM (in addition to being a player) and then walks the reader through three ‘arcs’ (storylines) of labyrinths. Each labyrinth is five rooms, which is a several-hours night of gameplay. Each labyrinth includes step-by-step instructions for the GM, specific battle statistics for every creature or opponent, and occasional tips and tricks for the GM.

You’ll still need the manual to make your characters, and you’ll want the manual for all of the other great information there. This is by no means a replacement for the manual. However, playing a starting group through all three arcs of The Beginner GM will bring that starter, no-nothing group of rag-tag adventurers all the way to the threshold of the Intermediate level.

The most exciting part, however, is that my name’s on the cover!! My author’s copies will arrive this week, so I still have some exciting celebrating to do, but I wanted to go ahead and write up the blog post to announce it. I would also like to mention that I wrote this work during last November, while leading several middle schoolers through NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers’ Program and I would certainly like to thank the Office of Letters and Light for all the hard work they do to make that program happen. (Not to mention the Winner’s Codes they give out for those who make it!)

NaNoWriMo’s Last Breath

Today is the last day of 2011′s NaNoWriMo. Let’s see how it all has turned out, with the understanding that there are still about 16 hours left for things to change.

My 2nd period, who had a word count goal of 60,000 (30 kids x 2k words each) topped out yesterday at 62,058 words with threats from some of bringing more today. (Their class doesn’t meet today.) Way to go, kids!

My 4th period came in just short of their 38,000 goal (19 kids x 2k words each) with 35,932 words. Remember, there’s still 16 hours left for them to come bursting into my classroom waving sheets of scribbled words and numbers, yelling out their total word count. They aren’t too very short. One kid could make it happen for them.

Each student that succeeded in hitting their goal is invited to the Thursday Dec 1 afternoon pizza party NaNoWriMo Celebration! (Wow that’s a long name for a party.)

I would like to brag and celebrate my own personal success of winning MY first NaNoWriMo YWP, passing my 25k goal with 26,733 and counting! Woot for me!

My afterschool WriMos trudged in with sad faces yesterday. They were falling far short of their goals, but, I am proud to say, they were still writing. There was one that usually comes later, however. (She’s in spelling bee practice the first half after school.) Word in the halls was that this sweet girl with a modest 12k goal, had over 20,000 words in hand. She arrived, and it was true. She had over 170%! Oh, how we celebrated.

Then, I went to validate her words, and she stopped me.

“No, Mister! Don’t do it.”

I was startled, and tried to explain that I was validating her win, so she would have her little purple Winner bar.

“No, I don’t want to do that. I didn’t finish the story. I’m only half way done, and there’s no way I’ll finish it in time. I’m not a winner yet, and I hold to that decision.”

How can I not respect such integrity? I searched the FAQs but could find nothing on what to do if you hit (or explode) your word count, but aren’t done with the story at the end of the month. For now, she remains unvalidated… but she’s a winner in my book.


Update: My wife went and found some information and emailed me to have something to help sway the girl, since she couldn’t comment from work. The email is below.

From the FAQs, The Basics, “How do you win?”:

“You win NaNoWriMo by writing to your word-count goal by midnight on November 30.”

Writing to your word-count goal. Not finishing your novel.

Also, in the CreateSpace talks:

“… you will receive a redemption password when you reach your word-count goal and become an official NaNoWriMo 2011 winner.”

When you reach your goal. Not when you finish your book.

I’d say it’s pretty clear!

So during my off period, I pulled her out of class and presented this information to her. After assuring her that she could (and should) finish the work and pursue publishing in the spring, she confirmed that she did want to validate now. So we quickly grabbed a computer and got her validated. I am so very proud of her, and excited about the future of her story.

Then, when I got home, I had the following email from the Office of Letters and Light. I think Tim said it quite well.

Hi there,

Wow, she has real grit to go with her drive, it sounds like; that’s fantastic. Our official position is basically that, if she hits her word count goal, we consider her a winner. We also encourage young writers to continue writing their novels, and to edit them in later months. I’m going to link a FAQ about it here:

This is also our official position on how to win:

I hope this helps! Thank you for writing in, and please let your student know that we are incredibly proud of her accomplishment, and that she deserves to celebrate!

Tim Kim
Office Captain
The Office of Letters and Light

Missed a week

Missed a week? I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Yeah, okay, I admit it. I could blame it on being sick, but I didn’t get sick until the middle of last week, so I don’t have much of an excuse. I wish I had a really recent update on my students, but I was out sick much of last week, so I don’t have their current numbers. The week before that, though, one class had a total of 35,000 words! Fantastic. I’m really excited to see what they have after this week of Thanksgiving break. It’ll be the last class period during NaNoWriMo, so really have to be done by that point, and they know it. Crossing my fingers.

I, while still underscoring for the official adult WriMo goal, am having my best NaNo year yet! I currently as of yesterday have just over 15,000 words, which is 60% of my 25k goal. Today and tomorrow are dedicated to writing, with Wednesday as a safety net. I plan to be done by Thanksgiving. It is a marvelous feeling to finish a book like that. To set a momentous goal and achieve it is a sensation that you carry with you. I love seeing it in my students. I love feeling it in me.

Now, on to random-doesn’t-actually-matter-just-thoughts-about-me-out-of-my-head stuff. This morning, I spent nearly an hour in Barnes & Noble waiting for the Jewelry store next door to open. I don’t usually have the time to just “hang out” in B&N, or any other bookstore, much to my chagrin. Got to tell you, I love it. I imagine finding my name on the shelf. I run my fingers tenderly across the leather spines. (Have you SEEN the new B&N Leatherbound Classics editions? Bibliogasm.) I touch the covers of treasured stories from my past, or of world-changing classics and there’s an electric charge that runs through me, connecting me with Captain Ahab, Robert Louis Stevenson, Dorian Gray, Shakespeare, Scheherazade, or HG Wells. It’s a world that I love being a part of. The power and joy of the written word, the very feel and pleasure of holding a good book.

I do enjoy having digital books, and I use Shaker (my iPod) to read on, but shopping in iTunes and downloading a pdf just doesn’t have that same experience. You can laugh. Apple and the Nook people certainly want you to, and make fun of that sentiment in their commercials, but the reality is it is true. I am not lighting torches and waving pitchforks over the coming of digital publishing; I think it’s awesome. Neither, however, am I using my old paperbacks for toilet paper. They can, and will, coexist. And I will indulge in both.

Now it’s time for me to get my name on one of them.