NaNoWriMo. No, it’s not a voodoo curse, although it might as well be. National Novel Writing Month, which begins on November 1 of each year, is when writers all around the world sit down at their keyboards will a common goal: to write 50,000 words by the end of the month.

The results don’t have to be a polished novel; on the contrary, the idea is to simply complete a first draft, no matter how rough it might be. The editing and polishing come later.


NaNoWriMo began in (1999) with 21 authors in the San Francisco Bay area. The latest figures available (2013) show the following:

NaNoWriMo 2013 counted 310,000 adult novelists, plus an additional 89,500 young writers. There were 651 Municipal Liaisons in 595 regions, 650 Come Write In libraries and bookstores, and 2,000 YWP classrooms. We also had a darn wonderful Night of Writing Dangerously, with the first non-staff keynote by NaNo-novelist Gennifer Albin.

Here in Rochester, you can hook up with other writers via the Facebook page.

I’m trying something new this year: my depression makes it hard for me to keep focused on my writing for a full month, and so I’ve never been able to complete a novel. So this year I’m going to capitalize on my mental state and incorporate it into the makeup of my protagonist.

I’ve always viewed depression as a challenge rather than an obstacle. I’m pretty sure I could have given in to it years ago and qualified for a Social Security disability pension, but that would be letting the depression win, and that’s something I’m not ready to do yet.

Instead, I’m channeling my depression into The Melancholy Vampire.

I’ll post the link when I’m done.

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Dead Trees, or Pixels?

I don’t follow the debate over printed books versus electronic readers. I made my choice long ago, and have never regretted it.

The reason for choosing an e-Reader was one of practicality: in my old apartment, I had very little storage place, and I have a voracious appetite for books. My Nook was the ideal place to keep my 2,000+ volume library. And now that I’ve given up the apartment and live in a rented bedroom, it’s even more of a necessity.

So saving space was my primary motive. Having something to read whilst waiting in doctors offices, waiting for the bus, and similar situations was only secondary.

Of course, the abundance of free books didn’t hurt, either. There are daily offerings from BookBub and other sources, and even Project Gutenberg has gotten in on the act and is converting all of their holdings to eBook format.

But still…

There’s still something about the smell of old books, the feeling of pages between your fingers.

A Nice Surprise!

Today’s mail brought a pleasant surprise. I recently changed my Medicare insurance provider and they told me I’d be getting a book in the mail explaining my benefits.

There was a book in today’s mail, along with a letter from the insurance company, so I assumed it was that book. But when I opened it, it turned out to be a mystery novel from St. Martin’s Press, along with an explanation of what they were asking me to do. Basically, they’d like me to read and review the book, as well as advertise it on social media.

And that brings us back to why I still like bound books: there’s always the chance that I’ll get one in the mail along with a request for a review.

So my plan for the next couple of days is to finish the book (I’ve already started it), and post a review both here and on my social media accounts.

I’ll keep you posted!

Robyn Jane

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National Novel Writing Month 2016

October brings changing colors and falling leaves. Some of us are old enough to remember the smell of burning leaves. Even now, there’s the joy of raking up a huge pile of leaves, only to run and jump into it.

Pumpkin spice coffee is everywhere. It’s a month of changes, of leaving one season behind and anticipating the delights of the next one.

For some of us, October means it’s time to get serious about our writing. November is only a couple of weeks away, and November means National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short.


What Is NaNoWriMo?

In essence, NaNoWriMo is a put-up-or-shut-up event for writers. It’s the month when anyone who has ever considered writing a novel can do so in a supportive atmosphere. As it says on the web site:

The NaNoWriMo season is officially dawning! No good launch is accomplished alone. Thankfully, there’s a whole crew of writers setting off to explore creative universes with you this November.

In hundreds of regions around the world, NaNoWriMo’s Municipal Liaisons are leading writing events to help your novel soar. Make sure to check your regional calendar to find an event near you!

The emphasis is on quantity, not quality. The idea is to complete your novel as a rough draft, and then go back later and edit it.

By concentrating on words, you’re encouraged to simply write your story; punctuation, spelling, grammar—all of that can wait until you’re done. For me, that takes a huge load off my shoulders, as I’m the kind of writer who agonizes over every single word, comma, period, phrase; by ignoring everything but the words them selves, I’m free to simply tell the tale.

You’re Not Alone

As romantic is the image of the lonely writer’s garret, in NaNoWriMo you don’t work in a vacuum. There are local and regional support groups to help you. And it’s not a competition. There are no trophies, just the sheer satisfaction of knowing you’ve finally done what you’ve always promised yourself you were going to do: write your novel.

A Special Offer From Literature and Latte

Scrivener is a complete writing studio wrapped up in a single program. I can’t overstate how much it has helped me in my writing. And you can download and use a free NaNoWriMo version to use to write your novel.

Here’s the offer:

Special Trial Version
Scrivener’s trial normally runs for thirty days of use, but so that you can start using Scrivener before NaNoWriMo begins without worrying about the trial expiring part-way through November, the special NaNo trial available on this page will run from the moment you start using it all the way up until December 7th. So you can download it, get used to its features, use it for your writing throughout November, and if you like it you can buy Scrivener at a discounted price using one of the special offers below.

What are the special offers?

50% Discount for All NaNoWriMo 2016 Winners
If you achieve your 50,000 words to become a NaNoWriMo 2016 Winner, you will be eligible for a 50% discount off the regular license of Scrivener (which is normally $45 for the Mac version and $40 for the Windows version). Details will appear on the Winner Goodies page at the start of December.
20% Discount for Everyone Else
Even if you don’t reach your target this year, you can still get 20% off the regular price of Scrivener by entering the discount code NaNoWriMo the coupon code text field of our online web store.

No More Excuses

So there you have it. If you’re finally ready to write your novel, hop on over to the NaNoWriMo web site and get started.

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It’s Grocery Shopping Day

And for me, it’s a time for decisions. But first, some background:

I recently moved into my new place. And where before I had two rooms plus a kitchen and bath, I’m now renting a room in a house. I have a bedroom, and share the rest of the house with my landlord. Except even that’s not correct, because he also has one semi-permanent friend staying over, and another one who drops by every two weeks or so and stays sometimes for a couple of days, and sometimes for a week.

All of which add up to a very crowded refrigerator and freezer.

I use the bottom drawer of my dresser for storing things that don’t need to be refrigerated, but there are times when I don’t even have room enough in the refrigerator for a gallon of milk, much less a six-pack of hard cider.

Still, it’s better than living under a bridge, especially now that winter’s on its way. The temperature dropped to 44°F/6.6°C last night, and it’s not expected to get above the mid 50s today.

So when I do get to the store, I’m going to pick up some French bread, pizza sauce, and all the rest of the makings for a couple of French bread pizzas. Sure, it’s easier to buy them frozen and stick them in the oven, but I want my own recipes, not someone else’s. Mozzarella is a given, but maybe some Gruyere as well, caramelized onions, pear slices, spinach and bay leaves.

Oh…and I’ve also got a dynamite recipe for spinach and ricotta calzones I’ll be sharing with you a little later in the week.

Did I say French bread? Forget that: pizza is Italian, so I wonder why nobody ever talks about Italian bread pizza. The store I’m going to makes excellent Italian bread, and so I’ll be making Italian bread pizza!

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When a Connection Isn’t a Connection

My Windows Control Panel says I’m connected to the Internet:


But Firefox keeps telling me

The connection has timed out
The server at is taking too long to respond.

It’s been this way off and on all day. I wonder if the fact that the connection is over satellite has anything to do with it—it’s also been raining all day.

It also affects my iPhone and iPad, although I can connect via my phone if I turn off Wi-Fi and turn on Cellular Data.

Either way, it’s a pain.

One of the ironies is that my laptop is 3 inches from the Wi-Fi modem, and my iPhone is about a foot away.

Regardless, it’s a nuisance.

A Few Solutions

Wait for the problem to resolve itself.

Take my laptop to the public library.

Or get off my lazy butt and take it downstairs, where Ed doesn’t seem to have any problem with his connection. So maybe it’s just something about my room. After all, it doesn’t seem to matter whether or not the modem in my room is on or off—I just turned it off, and I still have a connection.

Or I could copy my entries to a flash drive and upload them from a different computer.

Anyway, it’s back to the drawing board. I’ll let you know what I find out.

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