NaNoWriMo & PiBoIdMo

What a month for writers! And while I can’t do all the incredible writing activities that take place every November, they always motivate me to inspire others.


NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month

Let’s start with the longest running. NaNoWriMo began in 1999. That first NaNo binge, as you’ll learn more about HERE, “had little to do with any ambitions we might have harbored on the literary front. Nor did it reflect any hopes we had about tapping more fully into our creative selves. No, we wanted to write novels for the same dumb reasons twenty-somethings start bands. Because we wanted to make noise. Because we didn’t have anything better to do. And because we thought that, as novelists, we would have an easier time getting dates than we did as non-novelists.”

Isn’t that why all NaNoWriMo 20-some-year-olds write? And all this time I thought my inner critic is what held me back between my first rejected submission at age 25 and the next at 40. Ha! It was moving away from the dating scene that did it. I’ve been a NaNoWriMo winner, and the best gift in it for me was finding out I could do it. I could write a novel.

Ever since then, I’ve been a cheerleader for anyone considering that crazy, month-consuming activity. It started with the cards I used in my writing teaching for decades. Cards that evolved over the years since my master’s project on teaching writing back in the 80’s. I wanted something to propel my students into fiction that kept readers turning pages. Tension. Conflict. Suspense. All that goof stuff that’s easy to leave out. And that’s where Fiction Magic began, but I’m ahead of myself.

Years ago, I did posts during NaNoWriMo, with a “NaNo Nuj” in each post. Each nudge was a phrase from my card set (my one, funky handmade set). No one has time to read a lot if they’re doing a novel in a month, but a few words now and then? Perfect! What I heard back from participants was encouraging.  Comments like, “When I didn’t know what to do next, I used a NaNo Nuj ” and “Where can I get these cards?”

But I still didn’t get it.

It took me years and lots more requests (thank you NILA MFA, Western WA SCBWI, & Oregon SCBWI) before I got up the courage to get the cards out where they could do any good. Kickstarter helped collect most of the expenses, and Ad Magic helped me put it all together.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year (or if you just enjoy writing at your own leisurely pace), check out or grab a half-price Fiction Magic deck and guidebook! And be sure to follow Janet Lee Carey’s blog, Dreamwalks, where she’ll feature Fiction Magic cards all month. (Janet is a smart writer and wise person with a library of fantasy books all with her name on them.) That way you’ll get to try up to a dozen of the prompts before realizing you want all 54 cards and the guidebook with a page of craft information and writing life encouragement for each of the 54 prompts.


PiBoIdMo is Picture Book Idea Month

Picture book creators have all the fun, at least when they hang out with Tara Lazar, the zany, smart, lovable creator of PiBoIdMo and author of amazing picture books herself. Her books are popping out like bunnies! And she has a bevy of followers with their own books published from PiBo ideas. Obviously, she’s on to something here. Do you need more convincing? Meet Tara! I never miss PiBoIdMo.

Picture book writer Jan O’Neil and I got together November 1st last year with a bunch of writer friends and zipped through half of our 30 picture book ideas for the month. One sitting! We both finished the rest in one sitting, too. Our trick? We used Fiction Magic cards. I was feeling smug about it until Tara asked me to write a PiBoIdMo final day follow-up blog post on using Fiction Magic cards to flesh out and revise story ideas created during PiBoIdMo. Gulp. Being a person who believes in jumping and waiting for the net to appear (who first said that?), I said yes, and then panicked. I took my idea list and pulled cards. Oh, my. It worked! Here’s that post. Read the other posts while you’re there, too. You’ll see how and why everyone gets inspired.

And along with Picture Book Idea Month is an activity for all picture book lovers…


Picture Book Month

What’s important about picture books? So much. You probably have lots of answers for that yourself, and if you want to read more reasons from the creators of piles of picture books, check out the daily posts in Picture Book Month. You’ll rekindle your love affair with picture books. It’s an honor to be included on this year’s picture book champion list, which reminds me… I have a post to write for them!

But first, if you’re in the Seattle area, join me for our second annual NaNoWriMo & PiBoIdMo Kickoff. Or say hi to me at the “Author Next Door” event at Oak Harbor Sno-Isle Library on November 16.

So, writers—how are you spending your month? Writing, I hope!