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Severna Park resident Valerie Stewart (purple shirt) and other area writers met at Severna Park Library on November 30 to discuss the works they created during National Novel Writing Month. Photo Credit: Judy Tacyn

Severna Park resident Valerie Stewart (purple shirt) and other area writers met at Severna Park Library on November 30 to discuss the works they created during National Novel Writing Month. Photo Credit: Judy Tacyn

Local Residents Celebrate National Novel Writing Month

by: Judy Tacyn

Are you ready to write a novel in just one month? Local writers recently took the annual National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge to finish a novel in just 30 days, and they shared their adventures and works at the Severna Park Library on November 30.

The goal of NaNoWriMo isn’t necessarily to publish a novel. The objective is to get ideas out, let creativity flourish, meet people locally or virtually who are also in the sprint to finish their story, and most importantly, have fun.

Writers may research, develop outlines, draft notecards and build characters, but they may not craft a sentence until November 1. Then, the race is on to complete 50,000 words by November 30.

Authors get started on the NaNoWriMo website (www.nanowrimo.org), where they create a profile, enter working titles, collect badges for meeting milestones and track progress. Supportive online forums provide an opportunity to ask questions, request feedback and trade characters. Around the country, in-person “write ins,” like those held weekly at the Severna Park Library, allowed writing time, idea- and plot-sharing, and commiseration.

Severna Park resident Valerie Stewart has participated in NaNoWriMo since 2007. This year, Stewart’s fantasy novel focused on telepathy and the search for a perfect world.

Her goals were to be as creative as possible and to finish rather than publish. The first person to read Stewart’s works is a childhood friend who receives the manuscripts as Christmas gifts. Stewart’s novels are proudly displayed on the shelves of her friend’s library. The two friends share feedback and discuss possible revisions.

Janet Frank of Pasadena also wrote a fantasy novel. Frank’s books are set in modern day, but with a twist, “like maybe a dragon,” hints Frank. In Frank’s world, people must surrender their memories to their god; however, one character remembers something that he shouldn’t. Joining forces with an unlikely ally, the lead character then searches for missing memories.

First-time novelist Kimberly Butler of Annapolis finished her romance novel with only hours to spare. “Many nights turned into early mornings [in November],” shared Butler. Butler’s first novel, “It’s a Christmas Miracle,” is a romance tale. Butler’s protagonist is a recently widowed military wife, pregnant with her deceased husband’s child, who finds love again with another serviceman.

The NaNoWriMo community in Severna Park was launched three years ago by Katie Zaworny, a NaNoWriMo novelist and librarian in the Glen Burnie branch. Along with Rebecca Hass, a fellow NaNoWriMo novelist and programming and outreach manager for the Anne Arundel County Public Library system, the novelists are a passionate group. Local and virtual support systems were invaluable to Butler’s first venture into novel writing.

“The NaNoWriMo writers are simply amazing,” Butler proclaimed. “Whether in person or via the forums, the group was tremendously supportive.” Butler was deemed a “winner” by finishing her novel at 4:00am on Monday, November 30, just under the deadline. “I don’t know that I would have had the motivation and inspiration to finish in just 30 days without this group,” she said.

NaNoWriMo was founded by Chris Baty in 1999. The event started with just 21 participants and six “winners” (writers who complete 50,000 words in a single month), to 42,000 participants in 2014, nearly 6,000 of them winners.

In addition to National Novel Writing Month in November, NaNoWriMo’s programs also include Camp NaNoWriMo, the Young Writers Program, Come Write In and the “Now What?” months. To learn more about National Novel Writing Month, visit www.nanowrimo.org.

The December, January and February issue of “Happenings!” is now available at local libraries and online at www.aacpl.net/events. For more information on your local library’s programming, contact Rebecca Hass at rhass@aacpl.net or 410-222-7371. To learn more about the local NaNoWriMo group, contact Katie Zaworny at glenburnielibrary@aacpl.net or call 410-222-6270.

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