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July is Camp NaNoWriMo!

Congratulations-Wrimo April 2019.pngAs my regular followers know, I’m a big fan of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The big event is every November. For those of you that are unfamiliar with it, the basic idea is that writers across the globe decide to accept the challenge of writing the rough draft of a novel within the 30 days of November with a minimum goal of 50,000 words.

Considering the fact that November is also home to Thanksgiving and most people are gearing up for the upcoming holiday season, it’s a bit nuts. (LOL) It’s also a lot of fun. Personally, I get much more work done when I’m under a deadline. For instance, when I have a signed book contract that clearly states that I need to complete different parts of the project by certain set dates. I’m good at coming up with story ideas and starting novels, I’m just not very good at actually finishing writing them. So, NaNoWriMo is a great help for me.

Once you sign up and commit to writing your novel on the NaNoWriMo webpage (, you can introduce yourself to your fellow writers, read pep talks and other helpful articles about writing (they even get celebrity writers to write guest posts), and the web page provides a word tracker and graph to help you stay on track to meet your word goal.

I first read about NaNoWriMo on a writing blog (sorry, but I’ve forgotten which one!) back in 2009 or 2010. I loved the concept, but at the time I was hard at work researching and writing Shipwrecks of Coos County (which was published by Arcadia Publishing in 2011). So, I wasn’t able to participate for the first time until November 2011. My first project was a quirky story where the reader got to choose what the main character did next. It was a lot of fun to write, but it was tricky keeping track of all of the options and mini story lines. I compared it to writing a spiderweb. I was thrilled when I met my word goal before the deadline. Woo-hoo!

I called the novel “Crossroads” and self-published it. Unfortunately, I later learned that the term “choose your own adventure” was copyrighted. I had read some of those types of stories as a child, and I honestly just thought that the term described the genre. Oops! I was asked to either pull the book or make changes. I initially changed the phrasing to describe the book as something along the lines of a “multiple choice story,” but the powers that be weren’t satisfied. So, I pulled the book from publication. It was a fun project, but it wasn’t my best writing (I was sure that I could do better). The experience was discouraging, but I was okay with the outcome.

Since 2011, I became a regular NaNoWriMo participant. I wrote novels every November through 2016. Then in 2017 I had some family issues come up which didn’t leave me with enough time to write, so I didn’t participate. I tried again in 2018, but my heart just wasn’t in my project, so I withdrew from participating after about a week.

In between, I learned that NaNoWriMo also hosts “Camp NaNoWriMo” a few times a year. What I like about camp is that it’s much more laid back. Instead of everyone setting the ambitious goal of writing a full 50,000 words, writers are given the option of choosing what project they would like to work on. You can write something new, edit an existing manuscript, or simply set a time goal (how much time you would like to spend on your writing project that month).

Camp NaNoWriMo is held in April and July each year.

Phew! That was a lot of back story– all to get to today’s announcement: I’m participating in this month’s Camp NaNoWriMo. I love writing, but I’ve faced several set backs in my personal life over the past few years. These challenges have shaken my confidence as a writer– which has led to me spending less time writing. I felt that Camp NaNoWriMo was the perfect opportunity for me to “get back in the saddle” and try to jump start my creative writing.

The project that I’m working on this month is a mainstream fiction novel. I’m tentatively calling it “An Unreasonable Proposal.” The basic premise is that the main character gets a call from her ex-husband, twelve years after their divorce. He asks her to do him a really big favor– and unreasonably big favor. The ultimate question is whether or not she should do it. She knows that she doesn’t owe him anything, but there are other people involved– and she’s a softie.

I don’t want to give anything away (especially since at this point the story is still subject to major changes), but midway through the story there will be a huge twist.

I’m thrilled to be able to say that so far it’s working. Camp NaNoWriMo (along with my word goal and deadline) have provided me with the motivation that I need. It’s day #8 of the challenge, and I’ve already written the first 17,409 words. I’m on track to meet my goals!

If anyone else is interested in participating, I go by the nickname “Reprieve26” on both the Camp NaNoWriMo ( and NaNoWriMo ( webpages. Feel free to look me up and add me as a writing buddy. Together, we can help motivate each other to keep writing!

Thanks for reading!

~ H. S. Contino


I'm a combination writer and crafter. My books include "Shipwrecks of Coos County" (Arcadia Publishing, 2011), “Shipwrecks of Curry County” (Arcadia Publishing, 2017), and "Paw Prints" (Create Space, 2013). I'm also the owner of "Reprieve's Corner: Handmade Crafts" ( I live on the southern Oregon coast.

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