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You're Not Alone: NaNoWriMo Experts Share Their Stories & Experiences

We are only hours away from the month of November, which means many writers will be participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Whether you're a veteran or a rookie at NaNoWriMo, tackling the goal of writing 50,000 words in a month is just a tad bit intimidating.

That's why Writer's Digest has brought together some NaNoWriMo experts who will be joining you in your quest this November. From a variety of different backgrounds and writing styles and genres, these folks are all attempting to write 50,000 words and will be reporting in on their progress twice per week. Currently, they've taken time out of their busy writing schedules to introduce themselves below. After you read their bios, be sure to check back in every Monday and Thursday during November for a progress update from our writers. They'll have tips and thoughts on tackling stumbling blocks, hitting your goal, and more, throughout NaNoWriMo.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Let us know! Give us your own bio and progress reports in the comments section!

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Natania Barron and Jonathan Wood are, most of the time, speculative fiction writers. They share common affinity for video games, RPGs, action films, and caffeinated beverages. The rest of their lives is something of a study in contrast. Natania is a four-time participator, a two-time NaNoWriMo winner, while Jonathan's never been daft enough to try it. Jonathan prefers an outline and a great deal of planning when writing novels. Natania prefers the "win and wait" model.

Jonathan Wood

When it comes to influence, Natania often cites George R.R. Martin, but Jonathan "just doesn't get those books"; Jonathan quite enjoys Robert Jordan, but Natania's quite certain they're best used as doorstops. While they've both published (separately) in Weird Tales and, collectively, in Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters, Jonathan's known for his No Hero Series, published by Titan Books, which includes the tagline, "What Would Kurt Russell Do?" Natania's debut novel, Pilgrim of the Sky, had floating mansions, parallel worlds, and absolutely no sign of Mr. Russell. Either way, they're hoping to cobble together a weird fantasy novel, or at least the bare bones of one, during NaNoWriMo 2014.

Natania Barron

They will be chronicling this mad collaboration at their blog, Two Brain Space.

Rachael Herron

Rachael Herron is a NaNo success story: NaNoWriMo 2006 was her first NaNo attempt, her first win, and thatbook turned into her first published novel. She is the internationally bestselling author of the novel Pack Up the Moon, the Cypress Hollow series, and the memoir, A Life in Stitches. Her next mainstream standalone, Splinters of Light, will be out in March 2015 from Penguin.

She teaches people how to stop sabotaging their own writing practices, and can't wait for this year's NaNo, in which she'll start her 2016 release. She received her MFA in writing from Mills College, and when she's not busy writing, she's a 911 fire/medical dispatcher for a Bay Area fire department.

Rachael is struggling to learn the accordion and can probably play along with you on the ukulele. She's a New Zealander as well as an American, and she's been actively blogging since 2002.

Nikki Hyson writes modern fantasy with a classical twist. Currently unpublished, she's in the process of querying agents while she second drafts a sequel. An avid support of NaNoWriMo, this will be her fifth year of literary abandon (and hopefully a 5th win). Also, for the past 2 years, she's participated in Camp NaNo.

Nikki Hyson

A confirmed "pantser," she generally lets a question seed itself in her subconscious, germinating for weeks to determine if it has the goods to sprout. Usually, she's just as surprised by her endings as any reader. Never satisfied with writing by accident, she loves "how-to-write" books. Some of her most used are: Tell Me (How to Write) a Story by EJ Runyon, On Writing by Stephen King, Wired for Story by Lisa Cron, and No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty.

You can visit Nikki at her Facebook page.

November/December 2014 Writer's Digest

The November/December 2014 issue of Writer's Digest
is loaded with advice, tips, and strategies
to help you survive—and thrive—during NaNoWriMo.

Regina Kammer writes historical, contemporary, and Steampunk erotica and erotic romance. Her short storiesand novels have been published by Cleis Press, Go Deeper Press, Ellora's Cave, House of Erotica, and her own imprint, Viridum Press. She began writing historical fiction with romantic elements during NaNoWriMo 2006, switching to historical erotica when all her characters suddenly demanded to have sex.

Regina Kammer Headshot

Regina has done—and won—NaNoWriMo eight times and has published four of those novels (with a fifth in her publisher's editing queue): the Amazon best-selling Victorian erotic romances The Pleasure Device and Disobedience by Design; the award-nominated erotic romance The General's Wife: An American Revolutionary Tale; and the erotic epic Hadrian and Sabina: A Love Story.

Regina approaches NaNoWriMo with an outline leaving enough room for character flights of fancy. She frequently gets lost in, the OED online, or historical clothing websites wondering what her characters are wearing before she can get them naked.

You can visit Regina at, follow her on Twitter @Kammerotica, and like her on Facebook.

Kathy Kitts (AKA Apollo16) is a retired geology professor who served on the science team for NASA's Genesis Mission. She had dozens of nonfiction publications, from professional papers to textbooks, but is no longer interested in "what is," but rather, "what if." Her latest publications include short literary fiction (Storyteller's Anthology) and speculative fiction (Ad Astra, as K. Eisert, and Mad Scientist, as K. Kitts). For more links and NaNoWriMo related goodies, visit her website.

Kathy Kitts

She's been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2003 and has volunteered as an ML, ML Mentor, Moderator, and site debugger. In 2014, she's going for her 12th win. She's done NaNo as a "pantser" and a "plotter." Knowing what to write next is helpful, but Kathy enjoys the energy of making-it-up as she goes, too. Recently, she's outlined one third of the novel, written like mad, yanked the gems from that section to plot the next third, then rinsed and repeated. It's saved her a lot of time during revision.

Tiffany Luckey is the associate editor ofWriter's Digestwhose freelance work has been published inCincinnatimagazine,Quilland on the entertainment website She’s also the founder of the humor/TV site Tiffany has participated in NaNoWriMo only once before three years ago (and has lived to tell about it!), and she’s eager to do a modified version of it this year by penning a series of short stories in November. Her favorite types of books are suspense and thriller novels, and her favorite writing-related website (besides, of course) is Some fun random facts about Tiffany: She loves watching horror TV shows, but not horror movies; she has an unhealthy obsession with handbags and chocolate; if she could be anybody in the world, past or present, it would be 1990s’ Janet Jackson; the cheetah is her spirit animal; and she listens to trickling water sounds via YouTube when she writes.

Headshot_Tiffany Luckey

Kristen Rudd lives in Cary, NC, and is a homeschool mom by day. By night, she's exhausted. She lovesNaNoWriMo. Loves it. This is her 8th year participating and her 4th as an ML (Municipal Liaison). She's won four times.

Kristen Rudd

Kristen writes YA and adult fiction, and has one complete, will-never-see-the-light-of-day novel and a whole passel of unfinished ones. Pretty much everyone in her life has told her to just finally finish something already, so she's rebelling this year to work on something already in progress.

Somewhere in between a planner and a pantser, Kristen starts outlining her story, then November hits, so she panics for a little while and dives right in. Mostly, she tries to hit word count and then set up a few scenes for the next day.

A few of her favorite YA authors are Kristin Cashore, Patrick Ness, Maggie Stiefvater, and Melina Marchetta. She's also a big fan of Rob Kroese and Wayne Franklin. You can visit her at

NaNoWriMo's been very good to EJ Runyon. She began in 2001, and in 2006 she quit Software, sold her house, and went back to University. Now it's writing and coaching daily. It's her life and she loves it.

EJ Runyon

NaNoWriMo set her on the path to writer's nirvana. In 2012, six short stories pulled from various NaNo novels became part of Claiming One, from Inspired Quill (UK). Then, in 2013, her '08 NaNo became Tell Me (How to Write) A Story, a writer's guide. This year, '03 NaNo's became a debut novel, A House of Light & Stone.

She's a Scrivener pantser all the way, and even created a jumpstart template for coaching clients. Cheeky, she suggests her writing site, Bridge to Story, for 52 free lessons.

It's been everything wonderful you'd possibly dream. 2016 & 2017 will see another how-to and a novel. She alternates literary fiction with how-to guides.

Wordspeed, WriMos!

Jessica Schley is a former book publishing company peon turned grad student, bookseller, and contemporary YA writer. Though her freelance writing has all been nonfiction and runs the gamut from bible studies to test prep materials, her fiction is all about the craziness of real life of being a teen. Now that she's almost finished with grad school, you can find her hanging out on Twitter and on the boards at Absolute Write.


When it comes to creating, especially creating fast, she's always a bit of a "gardener," to borrow George R.R. Martin's wonderful analogy, but lately has discovered her books benefit from a bit of an architectural hand, too. This NaNo, she'll be trying both—a solid outline but with freedom to run another direction as needed to keep the words flowing. 2014 will be her 10th NaNoWriMo, in which she'll be trying to defend a (very slightly) winning record. Here's to 50,000!

You can visit Jessica at

Brian Schwarz is an author/musician from Minneapolis, MN. Spending most of his young adult life touring in a modern rock band, he rarely had time for writing anything more than song lyrics, let alone novels as he had so aspired in grade school

Brian Schwarz

In 2013 (finding he had time on his hands for the first time in ten years) he wrote his debut novel—Shades (view the trailer here)—a 120,000 word pre-apocalyptic thriller during NaNoWriMo. His book won the NaNoWriMo and Lulu sponsored Let's Go Wrimos award, and was debuted at Book Expo America in NYC.

This will be his second year participating in NaNoWriMo, where he hopes to finish his next project, a Young Adult mystery with a science fiction tilt. He goes about his writing as haphazardly as he goes about his life, with a general idea of beginnings and endings—making the rest up as he goes.

Recently he's been reading Veronica Roth, Gillian Flynn, and George R.R. Martin.

You can visit Brian at

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Find the focus, energy, and drive you need to start—and finish—your book in a month. Write-A-Thon gives you the tools, advice, and inspiration you need to succeed before, during, and after your writing race. With solid instruction, positive psychology, and inspiration from marathon runners, you'll get the momentum to take each step from here to the finish line. You'll learn how to: train your attitude, writing, and life—and plan your novel or nonfiction book; maintain your pace; and find the best ways to recover and move forward once the writing marathon is finished and you have a completed manuscript in hand!

Cris Freese is the associate editor of Writer's Digest Books. He has never participated in NaNoWriMo, but has contemplated it at the prodding of his co-workers and writing friends. Whether he actually decides to try to write a novel during the month of November 2014 remains to be seen.

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