The “Come Write In” Program


by Jacqueline Hatch

With National Novel Writing Month upon us, this is the perfect time to get up-to-date on all of the events taking place in your area. Whether you’re looking to write the next “Great American Novel”, host an event or work as a volunteer, the NaNoWriMo website is stocked with information on how to get involved.

“Come Write In” is one of the outreach programs associated with National Novel Writing Month, meant to connect libraries, bookstores and local spaces with NaNoWriMo participants. The goal of this program is to build writing communities and support both artists and local businesses.

You can visit the National Novel Writing Month website to sign up your business as a “Come Write In” location. Libraries, bookstores, coffee shops and universities have all been featured as “Come Write In” locations in past years. Participating businesses get posters, bookmarks and the chance to be connected with local volunteers to help manage events.

The NaNoWriMo website also has a Library Outreach Guide, a NaNo University Guide, as well as a blog filled with relevant information. Once the 2015 list of “Come Write In” locations has been finalized, you can visit this page to find a writing space near you.

If you are located in Washington D.C., you may want to participate in events at the DC Public Library, which is committed to supporting local writers, “from providing space and some friendly competition to fantastic incentives for registered participants who meet their word count goal.” Featured events include writing workshops, Twitter chats, movie showings and prize giveaways. Just for registering, you will receive:

  1. A DC Public Library Tote Bag
  2. A Special Edition DC Public Library bound journal printed on the Espresso Book Machine
  3. A DC Public Library Flash Drive
  4. Earbuds for listening to music while you write
  5. The Finish-It Toolkit: A punch card to the Digital Commons for:
    • A class in creating book cover art
    • A class in typesetting and preparing for publication
    • A printed copy of your book from the DC Library POD Book Machine!

Many libraries in the D.C. area will participate in NaNoWriMo events this year. In fact, twelve DC Public Library locations will serve as sites for local NaNoWriMo writers as part of the “Come Write In” program this year. Participants are welcome to bring their own laptops or make use of the library computers available.

If you have any specific questions about events or locations and want to get in touch with someone involved with the “Come Write In” program, you can email If you cannot participate and still want to contribute to NaNoWriMo, you can also visit this donation page to help support the literary community.



NNWM: Creative Outlets


by Emily Powers

Chris Baty created national Novel Writing Month in the summer of 1999, and is celebrated the entire month of November. The challenge came about by jokingly making a near impossible deadline for writing a novel in a month’s time. Baty and twenty-one writers participated in the original challenge and were successful.

When interviewed, Baty said, “I’d seen writers pull off miraculous feats when given impossible deadlines. To help make the whole thing less scary, we all got together after work and on weekends to write. That camaraderie, coupled with the stupid deadline, gave all of us the high commitment and low expectations that turn out to be a godsend when you’re writing a first draft of a novel.”

In the years since, the challenge has grown leaps and bounds. In 2014, an estimated three hundred, twenty five thousand participated in the challenge. Since this is a growing phenomenon, more programs have opened up to encourage writers to construct their own first drafts of novels.

Grant Faulkner (National Novel Writing Month executive director) said, “National Novel Writing Month is a wonderful opportunity for people to dive into their imaginations and do one of the most crucial things in life: create.” Faulkner works with roughly one thousand volunteers who facilitate writing events for aspiring authors and for all those who wish to learn and create.

The liaisons understand the work and pressure on students and adults who have life outside of writing, but they give great advice on goal setting and follow through. For example, Chelsea Brown, who was recently a college student, has participated in NNWM and knows the pressuring demands of school, work and wanting to write. She sets a word goal (for each novel) at fifty thousand words for the month of November. Brown states that pacing yourself and having a strict schedule for writing will make this goal achievable. In other words, writing about sixteen hundred words per day, which averages to about four double spaced pages, will allow a writer to reach the fifty thousand word goal by then end of the month. An easy way to keep track of progress and words written is on the NaNoWriMo website.

Even though the creative writing process may be done solitary and in front of the computer, the liaisons, like Chelsea Brown, facilitate places and events to collaborate and workshop.

Brown states, “NaNo is about more than just getting the words on the page, it’s about linking writers together, about creating a community.”

In addition to the goals, the purpose of this celebration of writing is to be creative, enjoy your imagination and spread it on paper. “Brown’s advice to potential novelists is simple: “Just write. Don’t edit. Don’t let your mind make you feel like what you’ve written isn’t good. Just write it. You can go back and edit later. But you have to get it down on paper first. You can edit what isn’t good, but you can’t edit what isn’t there.”

Check out your local university or college libraries to see upcoming events. Connect with other writers on the NaNoWriMo website, and let your creative side shine!

Chicagoland Public Library Supports “NaNoWriMo”

In a recent article, Northbrook library takes on novel-writing, The Chicago Tribune reports on one Chicagoland public library that is offering support and services for participants in National Novel Writing Month.

National Novel Writing Month, also known as “NaNoWriMo,” is a nationwide nonprofit effort that challenges people to write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November.

In 2012 Kate Hall, executive director of the Northbrook Public Library in Northbrook, IL, decided to participate in her first NaNoWriMo at the last-minute, creating a sci-fi retelling of “Pride and Prejudice”.

“I had a friend who was doing it, and I thought it would be so much fun if we did it together, but then I got totally into it,” said Hall, who will be participating in her third NaNoWriMo challenge next month.

This year, Hall has decided to take her participation in this event a giant step further by launching a community-wide NaNoWriMo event, sponsored by the Northbrook Public Library. Every Sunday, the library will host write-in sessions to help keep experienced and novice writers on track.

“I’m writing the program, and we’re having weekly write-ins. … And we have over 350,000 volumes that you can access and professional librarians that can quickly help you find information so that you can get what you need and immediately go back to writing your novel.”

Over 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been professionally published and, with the efforts of people like Hall, there may be many more to come. Whether someone is a veteran writer, aspiring novelist, or just looking to improve their writing skills, NaNoWriMo offers many tools to help writers achieve their goals. More information on National Novel Writing Month and how to participate can be found at If you’re in the Northbrook area, please visit for information on the Northbrook Public Library’s weekly “write-ins”.

CNET contributor invites readers to join him in collective sci-fi novel project

Writer and CNET contributor Eric Mack has a unique idea for his National Novel Writing Month project: a crowdsourced sci-fi novel. Mack calls the idea “the world’s first MMOSFN — Massively Multiwriter Online Science Fiction Novel.” It has long been speculated that digital books would be able to change and evolve in later editions based on readers’ feedback, but this project allows potential readers to impact the course of the book before it is even fully written.

Mack plans to post the start of the story on a public Google Doc where anyone can add suggestions. At the end of every day, Mack will incorporate what he believes to be the best suggestions into the story and will update the document to show the novel’s progress.

The main idea of the novel is one that Mack says he has had for a while. The story will take place a few decades in the future, after the occurrence of the singularity, the theoretical point at which technological or artificial intelligence will reach the capability of human intelligence. Humans in the book will be close to reaching immortality thanks to advances in technology. Humanity also learns that both extraterrestrial civilizations and alternate universes exist. A distant civilization predicts that an immortal human race will cause “complications” and sends “a hero” to Earth to find a resolution.

Among some of the potential story elements Mack suggests are:

Of course, there are ways that this project could go wrong, chief among them being the possibility of vandals flooding the public Doc with inappropriate content as a joke. However, Mack’s plan to moderate potential additions to the book will hopefully cause this problem to be avoided.

The book will be posted on CNET’s website after its completion at the end of November and all contributors who wish to be named will be credited. The book will also be made available under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which allows the story to be shared anywhere and in any way as long as it is attributed properly.

Montclair Library Connects Writers and Community

By Joslyn Lang

When most people think of fall days in November, what comes to mind may be cooler weather, holidays, football games, and pumpkin-spiced everything. What comes to mind to writers in November is National Novel Writing Month or “NaNoWriMo”. NaNOWriMo takes place during the whole month of November, ending at 11:59pm on November 30. It is an annual internet-based creative writing project that challenges and encourages writers to write a minimum of 50,000 words in order to begin the process of their novel.

NaNoWriMo’s goal is to keep writers inspired during the whole month. For libraries, NaNoWriMo is a way to connect with their community to support those “would-be” novelists to finish their first drafts. In the article, “Montclair Library Celebrates National Novel Writers Month” by Bob Cannon, readers find just one more way that writing is celebrated. Cannon notes that in recent years, he has heard the notion that print may become dead. However, he declares that this is not the case, or thinking at Montclair Public Library during NaNOWriMo. During November on Fridays from 2 to 6pm, Montclair Public Library hosts a series of writer drop-ins, where they partner with The Write Group and Watchung Booksellers.

In the conference room at Montclair Public Library, writers get to experience working on their drafts in a supportive environment where they receive that extra push of moral support that may get that draft that never seems to get finished, finished. But Montclair does much more than just set up a room for writers to work on their novels. They have expanded to target a broader audience by having speakers come in, as well as providing other incentives. This allows people who may not normally walk in to participate in NaNOWriMo to stumble in by the incentives, such as prizes and drawings. The Write Group is also planning on launching a database, where writers can upload their book, and if it gets chosen, will be made into an eBook that is shared across the country.

A Montclair local author’s panel is another way that the community is connecting with one another while also showing the importance of celebrating local authors. Eveline Speedie, a member of The Write Group stressed that NaNOWriMo is all about celebrating local writers and is happy to be “…providing a small community for people to join. It’s for support, it’s for networking, it’s for utilizing the programs that the Library kindly works with us on providing to the community.” Montclair Public Library encourages anyone who is interested in writing a novel, even those with no experience to come out and join NaNoWriMo and the events. While NaNoWriMo’s end goal is to have completed the 50,000 words, Speedie sympathizes with the ones that do not finish a novel during the month. “That’s the beauty of NaNo,” said Speedie. “I don’t think everybody finishes. But the idea is to encourage people to think ’finish,’ and if you don’t, you’re not a failure. You’ve started something.”

Penguin Random House Announces New Library Marketing Initiatives


By Nicole Lamberson

Penguin Random House is working to strengthen its efforts with libraries in a series of moves this month aimed at increasing its already dominant presence.

Library Journal reported that Penguin Random House announced a new Adult Library Marketing Group, fusing Penguin and Random House’s operations. Though the two companies merged in July 2013, adult library marketing efforts have remained separate. President of Sales, Jaci Updike, wrote that by streamlining its marketing operations, Penguin Random House “will be ramping up our already extensive outreach efforts to libraries nationwide with our innovative marketing programs.” The new marketing group will ensure an integrated effort and that the process for libraries will be a smooth transition.

The article noted that libraries will likely see a “stepped-up energy,” and that both companies have had a history of commitment to libraries – Random House “has long been a model for trade publishers in library marketing,” and Penguin brings “far more [books] than its competitors” to the American Library Association’s annual conference.

News of its new marketing group is not the only library related news for Penguin Random House this month. The company announced a new partnership with BiblioCommons to expand its eBook offerings. BiblioCommons describes itself as “the only software vendor to focus exclusively on the online experience of public library patrons.” The agreement will make more than 38,000 titles available to BiblioCommons acquisitions platform. Vice President and Director of Library Marketing and Digital Sales, Sales Operations for Penguin Random House, Skip Dye, stated that working with BiblioCommons helps “public libraries play a new role in the discovery” of their titles and authors.

These steps show a concerted effort by Penguin Random House to continue strengthening its relationship with libraries. It also shows the importance libraries still play for publishers. It’s an essential market in increasing discovery and gaining new readers, and Penguin Random House is making sure to stay ahead of the pack.

La Jolla Library Sets Up Biotech Lab

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

With the rapid changes happening in the literary world, everyone is scrambling to keep up. Libraries, as a public service, want to remain relevant in an increasingly digital age. According to the American Library Association, many libraries offer services such as digital literacy training and assistance with the usage of online government programs.

However, some libraries are thinking a little more out-of-the-box. The La Jolla branch of the San Diego public library has started the first biotech laboratory in a library, called Life Science Collaboratory.

According to the La Jolla branch website, “Qualified volunteers from local biotechnology firms, research institutions and DIY bio-enthusiasts are supplying programs to educate the public about the Life Sciences and encourage civic debate and interest in this revolutionary field.”

This program is part of the library’s Innovation Space, a program that includes 3D-printers, centrifuges, and a DNA analyzing and sequencing tool.

One need not be afraid of picking up any pathogens either. The lab is only a level 1 Biosafety lab, and according to library manager Shaun Briley on The Washington Post’s website, “The chemicals in the cleaning closet are more dangerous.”

Additionally, the lab is only in use when a qualified volunteer is present.

Briley hopes that other libraries will follow this example, not necessarily in Biotech, but in whatever fields happen to be of interest in their local area. “Every community has some focus, something they do in particular, and here it just happens to be biotech,” he said.

The statement the La Jolla branch makes on their site is that, “An enduring tenet of libraries is that an informed public with free and open access to information is a cornerstone of democracy.  Our mission is to inspire lifelong learning, be technology facilitators and guides to the future.”

We can safely assume they are doing just that.