Hi everybody!

Welcome to NaNoWriMo 2019 in the ChiWriMo region! November is right around the corner, can you believe it? 

We’re gearing up for a fun month of novel-writing mayhem, so to kick things off, we’re doing a little “getting to know you” segment so you can learn a little more about your municipal liaison team here in ChiWriMo.

Second up: Gabe



 NaNoWriMo Username: writergabef

 Facebook Group name: Gabriel Fisher

 Years doing NaNoWriMo: 2016-present

 Years being an ML: 1 (this is my first year)

 Favorite part of Nano: Being able to go to write-ins in person to focus on writing and meet new writers!

 Most challenging part of Nano: writers blocks!

 Most memorable Nano moment: completing my first novel in my first year.

 Other miscellaneous fun: I’ve been a planner, pantser, and planster over my 3 years of doing nano. I’ve found that planning works best for me.

 Favorite Writing Quote: “Whatever story is in your mind, just write it so you can get it on paper.” Gabriel Fisher


Hello! My name is Gabriel Fisher. I live in River Forest, IL. I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo for four years. I have completed NaNoWriMo for three years. Besides writing, I like to learn, play video games, read, listening to music and watch YouTube.

As for a good tip for NaNoWriMo, if you’re a planner, I recommend creating a word document for the world building of your novel. Make sure to include characters, settings, as well as an outline for your novel. This way, if you get stuck, you have something to fall back on to help you keep going.


Getting to Know Your MLs: MalikT

Hi everybody!

Welcome to NaNoWriMo 2019 in the ChiWriMo region! November is right around the corner, can you believe it? 

We’re gearing up for a fun month of novel-writing mayhem, so to kick things off, we’re doing a little “getting to know you” segment so you can learn a little more about your municipal liaison team here in ChiWriMo.

Second up: Malik


Stats and Facts:


 NaNoWriMo Username: MalikT

 Facebook Group name: Malik Turley

 Years doing NaNoWriMo: 2012, 2016-present

 Years being an ML: Two!

 Favorite part of Nano: I’m a “pantser” and I love being surprised by the twists and turns my novel takes!

 Most challenging part of Nano: holding onto the ideas that pop up between writing sessions!

 Most memorable Nano moment: making myself cry writing the final scene of my 2016 novel.

 Other miscellaneous fun: I am a professional bellydance teacher and performer, I had a short story published in the inaugural issue of Castabout Arts & Literature, and I have a drink named after me at Ward Eight.

 Favorite Writing Quote: “Kill your darlings.” – Stephen King


Hello! My name is Malik, and I am a writer.

That is not an introduction I would have written a few years ago. I had toyed with NaNoWriMo once back in 2012 on a whim. My bestie was doing it and her excitement was contagious. The whole sitting-down-and-writing-every-day part was less contagious…I wrote each weekend, got to just over 17K words, and then let it go.

So how can I call myself a writer now? That same friend was my inspiration again in 2016. This time, she wasn’t here to do Nano (Cancer took Jen from us in March of 2016). I felt like her Nano energy needed to stay in the world, and I had gotten more practice in doing things daily through my dance life. I signed up again and committed to seeing it through in her honor.

That year I discovered that I genuinely love writing! The craft, the community, and the chance to fill the world with strong characters all speak to me. I enjoy playing with different genres, points of view, and story lengths. Writing has become an integral part of my self-care routine, and I owe that all to Jen and Nano. Three novels and a handful of short stories later, My name is Malik and I am a writer.

In November I’ll add “Nano Cheerleader” to my twitter name and will be here in the Chiwrimo area to help you celebrate your successes and push past your blocks. Virtually and at the in-person write ins, look for me if you need a boost!

We. Can. Do. This!

Getting to Know Your MLs: smwalter

Hi everybody!

Welcome to NaNoWriMo 2019 in the ChiWriMo region! November is right around the corner, can you believe it? 34725808_10100693041207069_903578853274812416_n

We’re gearing up for a fun month of novel-writing mayhem, so to kick things off, we’re doing a little “getting to know you” segment so you can learn a little more about your municipal liaison team here in ChiWriMo.

First up: Stacy

NaNoWriMo Username: smwalter

Facebook Group name: Stace Stus

Years doing NaNoWriMo: Since 2007, with a couple years off here and there for law school and life

Years being an ML: Something like since 2011 or 2012? I’ve lost track!

Favorite part of NaNoWriMo: All of my friends and family know that I do it now, so in November, I get a free pass for skipping a lot of stuff. Being an introvert, this is a huge benefit for me! Also, even when other stuff in my life has gone awry, November is always there – even if I’ve barely written all year, I know that in November, I have NaNoWriMo, so it really helps me validate my creative aspirations.

Most challenging part of NaNoWriMo: I start to get a really bad case of FOMO (fear of missing out) around the middle of the month, and it makes it hard to concentrate, because I’d rather be spending time with friends. Usually, if I take a little break and allow myself a social event or two, I start to feel better and can dive back in with renewed vigor.

Secrets to success: 1) I limit my preparation and outlining to the last 7 days of October leading up to November, to avoid getting into my head too much. 2) I do everything I can to conquer week 2 – whether it’s piling up words in week 1 so I’m ahead when week 2 hits, or forcing myself to write a few sentences even if I really really really don’t wanna, that’s the hardest week for me to get through. If I can write every day of week 2, even a small amount, then I know I can win the month.

Most memorable NaNoWriMo moment(s): I still remember my first year doing NaNoWriMo, I joined the regional word war between Chicago, New York, and Toronto. We came in second place, and I had a blast, racking up something like 150,000 words that year. That’s the most I’ve ever written for NaNoWriMo, ever. Now, I usually squeak by the 50k mark. I think it was just the brand new experience of doing NaNoWriMo for the first time, and having that little competitive thing going for me, really worked well to keep me going. I also remember the first novel I finished, which was something like November 13th of my first year – On Her Own Two Wheels. I was sitting in a Starbucks when I hit my 50,000 words, it was great!

Other miscellaneous fun: I live on a 39 acre farmette with 25 chickens and 3 dogs. My chickens are almost all named after Lord of the Rings characters.

Favorite writing quote: Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.

Happy novel-writing, friends!

World Building in Your Stories

The number of movie adaptations based on graphic novels or animae has been growing.  Heck, take a look at your Netflix lineup! From Ant-Man, to Death Note, Dare Devil, Ghost in a Shell – let’s never speak of that Last Air Bender Shyamalan mess though. Shh.

But all of these adaptions have another thing in common: world building.

When it comes to writing, world building is everything, no matter what genre you’re in. Can the reader picture the universe your characters are in? Are the characters following the rules you created? Is the world distinct and vibrant or vague and just another mesh of other well-loved stories?

World building takes skill. It takes constructing your setting and timeline. It takes constructing a culture. It takes constructing three-dimensional characters and not cardboard cut-outs. Universes can be created, like the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the DC Animated Universe. It made sense watching Saturday morning cartoons to see the Flash appearing in Metropolis, betting that he was faster than Superman because, well, duh, why not? The rules had been established in that world.

At the end of the day, your story has to pull in your readers to the point where they almost forget their reading a story – to the point where they invest their time to finish your book. And to the point where they take your world into their own hands in the form of some fanfiction.


submitted by ChiWriMo participant Sarah Luyengi

Choice Book Recommendations

New books, new year! There are so many début books to keep on your radar this year. From young adult to graphic novels, 2019 is the year that keeps giving. But how can you keep up with all the new authors you ask? Besides simply roaming through your favorite bookstores or asking a librarian at your local library, you can always plug in and head over to Goodreads or Amazon in the comforts of your home. What do the stars say?

-        The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

The blurb: “In the vein of Big Little Lies and Reconstructing Amelia comes an emotionally charged domestic suspense novel about a mother unraveling the truth behind how her daughter became brain dead. And pregnant.”

If you are a fan of mystery and suspense, this one should be on your radar. Stories that reveal seemingly Perfect People and their Imperfect Lives have been on an upswing ever since titles like Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, and Big Little Lies have turned into smash hits.

-        Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

The blurb: “A literary courtroom drama about a Korean immigrant family and a young, single mother accused of murdering her eight-year-old autistic son.”

Recently, literature focuses more on immigrant families and the immigrant experience in the US. Important stories like this are ways to connect the division between citizens and foreigners. The narrative on behavioral health has also changed, and combing two important subjects makes this book a good “want to read.”

-        Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen

The blurb: “Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in I.T., trying to keep the spark in his marriage, and struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142.”

This book gives flash-backs of Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter and that’s a good thing! The plot has Philip Van Dyke themes all over it, coupled with a Interstellar-like familia bond between father and daughter. Don’t miss out on this one.

Find a comfortable couch and your favorite blanket to read some of these debut books. Have any other books on your radar? Don’t forget to share!


submitted by ChiWriMo participant Sarah Luyengi

First Quarter Check-In

Did you make a New Years Resolution to write more? How has that been working out for you?

It’s that first millisecond of the New Year – cheers, clapping, and is that a hint of regurgitated vodka? – and the idea of Being a Go-Getter is still fresh. But, once you actually slog your way through January, it’s already somehow February and your writing is almost non-existent.

No fear! In this world of Netflix and 90 second microwaveable dinner, it’s common for your writing goals to be shoved in the back. Here are some ways to nudge it back to the forefront of your attention. They may be easier said than done, but what’s the harm in trying?

-        Create a deadline for yourself! It’s helpful to hold yourself accountable. Making a deadline gives you that extra sense of urgency to finish your work. Make sure that your deadlines are reasonable, though. It can be easy to mark a date on a calendar without really giving yourself enough time. At the end of the day, life happens, and sometimes that can interrupt your writing time. Don’t forget that your deadlines are there to help you get through it.

-        Join a writer community; hearing other writers’ challenges and successes can be just the push you need. Online platforms are perfect for meeting hundreds of other aspiring writers out there, like you, from different walks of life. You can always take it a step further by meeting in-person. Local libraries and independent bookstores typically offer writing events – there’s always something out there!

-        Read something that influences your writing skills and get the creative juices going in your noggin’. Take a glance at the best-sellers section, staff recommendations, or movie-adaptions to find a story that can spur on your own work. You could take it a step further and specifically look for a book in the same genre that you’re writing, too.

Get into the mindset of writing and you may just surprise yourself by starting something new. The year is not over yet.


submitted by ChiWriMo participant Sarah Luyengi

The “Secret” To Winning NaNoWriMo

I have an insight.

Just hear me out.

There’s a widespread secret to “winning” NaNoWriMo (in the traditional sense). And it’s actually numerically true. Like, it’s measurable and about as scientific as you can get when you’re talking about something like noveling.

Here is the secret:

Survive Week Two.

Without fail, every single NaNoWriMo, the sharpest drop-off occurs after Week One. People can go strong for 5 to 7 days. That’s easy – it’s practically like a Creation Vacation! WHEE, NOVELING! But then… you realize… oh geez, you have to DO something with what you’ve just created. The characters have to… exist. And live. And breathe. And do something… interesting. Like, a plot or something. Right? NOOOOOOO!


But how can they do that when you feel like you’re starting to write complete crap? Your creative resources are starting to flag, right? You’re feeling drained, maybe even a little resentful? Oh geez, ANOTHER night in front of this computer/notebook? I WANT A BREAK. (table flip, lots of screaming)

Here’s the thing: Most people who manage to survive and slog through Week Two end up “winning” NaNoWriMo. THIS IS A FACT, we see it every November. Maybe not with 50k words, but they manage to actually write most of the 30 days of the month, hit an admirable word count, AND they shockingly find they’ve built up so much momentum that they can keep going, even after the deadline of November 30th is over.

This phenomenon has been present since the beginning of NaNoWriMo, if you read the founder’s book, No Plot? No Problem! (by Chris Baty, this book seriously changed my writing life). I personally think there are scientific reasons surrounding this, related to what we know about habit-building and behavioral modification, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.

So, if it helps at all, if it gives you even the teeniest tiniest bit of motivation to hang on and keep going, despite the part of you screaming to just stop and give up, just think of it this way: if you survive week two, you’re probably going to “win” NaNoWriMo – whatever that means to you. And isn’t that kind of pretty awesome?


Guest Post by Kari Trenten

NaNoWriMo: Rough Drafting in the Shadow Forest

Guest Post by Kari Trenten

Perhaps it was a mistake to attempt to write a rough draft of My Tool, My Treasure for NaNoWriMo.

I haven’t finished my revisions on the first book in my Tales of the Navel/The Shadow Forest series (Stealing Myself From Shadows). Nor have I completed them on the second (The Hand and the Eye of the Tower), or the third (A Godling for Your Thoughts?)

Why take on the rough draft of the fourth book?

Because it’s NaNoWriMo, a time set aside for rough drafts. All of the energy and encouraging posts (and believe me, writers, I find them encouraging, thank you) are aimed at people trying to churn a story out in its rawest, most creative form.

This draft needs to be written. Now seems like as good a time as any to do it.

I’m working on a series, a magical journey based on Tarot card imagery. My Tool, My Treasure is part of it. I’ve only got a hazy idea of where I’m going. Writing this rough draft clears more of the path to that destination. I need the bones, the framework of the overall story before I flesh it out.

Everything I’ve read and listened encourages me to think long term. To have a long term plan. Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest is a major part of that long term plan.

Readers don’t like to wait too long for the next part of a story. I’ve already taken more time than many of them would like. I still think it would be better to release Stealing Myself From Shadows when they won’t have to wait too long for The Hand and the Eye of the Tower, A Godling for Your Thoughts?, My Tool, My Treasure, Blades of Thought, and My Cusps Runneth Over afterwards.

Yes, I have that many books planned. Originally the first book was going to be inspired by the Greater Trumps, the second by pentacles/coins/diamonds, the third by spades/swords, the fourth by wands/staffs/clubs, and the last by cups/cusps/hearts. Only I ended up with two books inspired by Greater Trump imagery. At first I thought they’d be companion books, concurrent with each other, until I realized that Stealing Myself From Shadows was the first book. All the preludes I’d posted at inspirationcauldron.wordpress.com were urging me to tell Christopher’s tale first. The Hand and the Eye of the Tower, Danyel and Tayel’s story was second.

I’m still confused by the association of swords and spades with air. I’m equally confused by wands and clubs being different faces of a similar suit, one affilated with fire. The sword feels more fire-like to me while the wand feels like air. I’m not always sure of this, especially since the wand might also be a club.

I’ve been struggling to learn about the symbolism of these cards for years, yet I still have much to learn. The crippling fear of my own ignorance slows me down in my path to self publication.

I’ve got to move forward. I’m not writing about the Tarot cards themselves. I’m writing a series of ambient fiction novels inspired by the cards.

That’s the story I want to tell, the story which needs to be told.

Best move on with it.



Nano-eve is tomorrow

“Nano-Eve is Tomorrow”

by Malik, your 2018 Nano Cheerleader


Nano-eve is tomorrow and all through the land the writers were waiting, ideas in-hand.

With outlines and research the Planners they sit, patiently waiting for Day One to hit.

While Pantsers are waiting for the starting bell to discover what story their mind will tell.

However they write – with desktop, phone, or pen,

one thing in common for all is the when.

On the first through the thirtieth, heed this small advice -

During Nanowrimo, never miss twice.


2018 Never Miss Twice


Hem and Haw About NaNoWriMo

“Hem and Haw About NaNoWriMo”

A Poem by A. Catherine Noon

The Self: I have an idea for NaNo, but I don’t know about it…

Hem: Yes, write it!

Haw: No, dummy, that’s a horrible idea.

Hem: Really? I have an idea?

Haw: No, that’s not what I meant. Don’t write it.

Hem: Don’t write what?

Haw: The idea.

Hem: I thought you said there wasn’t an idea?

Haw: No, there’s no idea! No writing!

Hem: So the idea is that there’s no writing?

Haw: Oh my god, shut up!

Hem: I get it!! Write the idea about the Silence! Once upon a time…

Haw: No! Stop it! Don’t!

Hem: ~typity~ Did you say something?

A. Catherine Noon
2018 Co-Municipal Liaison, Chicago Region
National Novel Writing Month
10 Events, 7 Wins
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
- E.E. Cummings