With the first of November upon us, writers everywhere have stockpiled food and bid farewell to their family and friends as they hole up in their writing caves until December 1.  November is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, an annual internet-based creative writing event that challenges participants to write a new 50,000-word novel in thirty days.

The project was founded by Chris Baty in 1999 with twenty-one participants, and the official NaNoWriMo website was launched the following year.  The number of registered participants has grown steadily every year, and the affiliate Young Writers Program and official podcast were developed in 2005.  In 2010, over 200,000 writers registered for the challenge, and nearly three billion new words were written.  A summer version of NaNoWriMo (Camp NaNoWriMo) was introduced in 2011.

The novel can be on any theme and in any genre.  However, it cannot be a project already in progress.  Writing of the new novel cannot have commenced prior to midnight on November 1, and the 50,000-word mark must be reached by 11:59 p.m. on November 30.

While I’m not working on a new novel during NaNoWriMo, I am committed to writing twenty-seven new pages of my developing novel or approximately 6,700 new words—not bad for a writer with a full-time day job.

For a comprehensive list of FAQs and guidelines, visit the website at www.nanowrimo.org.

Have fun, and good luck!



That Muse-Guy

There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer station. He lives in the ground.  He’s a basement guy.  You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in.  You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you.  Do you think this is fair?  I think it’s fair. He may not be much to look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist (what I get out of mine is mostly surly grunts, unless he’s on duty), but he’s got the inspiration.  It’s right that you should do all the work and burn all the midnight oil, because the guy with the cigar and the little wings has got a bag of magic.  There’s stuff in there that can change your life.


~ Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft


Ensio Ilmonen

Ensio Ilmonen


Double, double, toil and trouble,

Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,

In the cauldron boil and bake.

Eye of newt and toe of frog,

Wool of bat and tongue of dog,

Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,

Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.


Double, double, toil and trouble,

Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Cool it with a baboon’s blood,

Then the charm is firm and good.


~ From William Shakespeare’s Macbeth


"The Three Witches from Shakespeare's Macbeth" by Daniel Gardner, 1775

“The Three Witches from Shakespeare’s Macbeth” by Daniel Gardner, 1775

Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Contest is currently accepting fiction submissions up to 3,000 words until midnight (PST) on October 31.  This opportunity is open to all writers and all themes.  As always, submissions must be original, unpublished fiction.  Glimmer Train does not publish poetry, fiction for children, or novel excerpts unless they read like complete stories.  Multiple submissions are accepted.

The first place winner will receive $1,500, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and ten copies of that issue.  The second and third place winners will receive $500 and $300, respectively.  Results will be announced in the January 1 bulletin.  For more information or to submit your work, visit the website at http://www.glimmertrain.com/pages/guidelines/very_short_fiction_guidelines.php.

Good luck!




The seasons send their ruin as they go,

For in the spring the narciss shows its head

Nor withers till the rose has flamed to red,

And in the autumn purple violets blow,

And the slim crocus stirs the winter snow;

Wherefore yon leafless trees will bloom again

And this grey land grow green with summer rain

And send up cowslips for some boy to mow.


But what of life whose bitter hungry sea

Flows at our heels, and gloom of sunless night

Covers the days which never more return?

Ambition, love and all the thoughts that burn

We lose too soon, and only find delight

In withered husks of some dead memory.


                            ~ Oscar Wilde, born on this day in 1854


Oscar Wilde with "Poems" (Napoleon Sarony, New York, 1882)

Oscar Wilde with “Poems” (Napoleon Sarony, New York, 1882)

Dawn comes later and later now,

and I, who only a month ago

could sit with coffee every morning

watching the light walk down the hill

to the edge of the pond and place

a doe there, shyly drinking,


then see the light step out upon

the water, sowing reflections

to either side – a garden

of trees that grew as if by magic –

now see no more than my face,

mirrored by darkness, pale and odd,


startled by time. While I slept,

night in its thick winter jacket

bridled the doe with a twist

of wet leaves and led her away,

then brought its black horse with harness

that creaked like a cricket, and turned


the water garden under. I woke,

and at the waiting window found

the curtains open to my open face;

beyond me, darkness. And I,

who only wished to keep looking out,

must now keep looking in.


           ~ Ted Kooser


Photo by mattbuck

Photo by mattbuck

Early-bird registration for the largest and most essential literary event in North America is now open to attendees, presenters, and exhibitors through October 30.  The Association of Writers & Writing Programs is hosting its Annual Conference & Bookfair at the Los Angeles Convention Center and JW Marriott March 30 through April 2, 2016.

Each year AWP Conference attendees participate in “the big literary conversation” and networking, with unparalleled access to the most influential organizations and voices in contemporary literature. The 2016 conference will feature 2,000 presenters and more than 550 readings, lectures, and panel discussions on modern fiction and poetry, writing technique, publishing, and teaching, and hundreds of presses, literary magazines, online journals, and literary organizations will be exhibiting at the upcoming bookfair.

Featured presenters include keynote speaker Claudia Rankine, who is the author of five collections of poetry and recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as Rabih Alameddine, Richard Bausch, Peter Ho Davies, Jonathan Franzen, Kelly Link, Joyce Carol Oates, Roxana Robinson, and many other award-winning authors and poets.

With more than 12,000 writers, teachers, students, editors, agents, and publishers in attendance, the 2016 Conference & Bookfair promises to be the most informative and inspiring literary gathering of the year.

For more information or to register, go to www.awpwriter.org.




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