Engaging Methuen Readers

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What’s NaNoWriMo, Precious?

If your friends have suddenly been seized with the writing demon, you’re not alone. National Novel Writing Month occupies the entirety of November. If you’re not a writer and don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, here’s a rundown.

What it is

National Novel Writing Month challenges writers to produce 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30. This pans out to about 1,667 words per day, but because November also includes Thanksgiving, most writers try to work faster than that.

Novels can be about anything, but it’s generally agreed that this isn’t a way to produce a finished piece. Instead, it’s a way to shake off the rust and get your creative juices flowing. Some writers have generated viable first drafts for NaNoWriMo, too. Erin Morgenstern, whose debut, The Night Circus, became a bestseller, drafted her first novel over the course of two NaNoWriMos.

That said, a lot of people don’t worry about writing a cohesive novel for NaNo. Writers have been known to produce short stories, write correspondence, generate computer code, blog, and otherwise dedicate themselves to content creation. 50,000 words of anything is a lot of writing! I’m actually counting this blog post toward my own total.

Well-known authors give pep talks throughout November to participants who register as Wrimos. It’s a creative good time that started with 21 participants in 1999.

How it started

Chris Baty was a hobbyist writer living in the San Francisco Bay area in 1999. He had the idea to challenge writers to generate a novel in 30 days, and sure enough, 21 people took him up on it. That first NaNo was set in July. However, the nice weather proved to be a distraction and the next year, Baty moved the event to wintery, unpleasant November.

2000 was also the year that Baty and a friend set up a website to organize WriMos and help them track their progress. Through a connected Yahoo group, he clarified the rules: the novel had to be new, couldn’t be co-authored, and had to be written and verified entirely within the month of November. Writers who achieved 50,000 words were considered to have “won.” That year, 140 people participated. NaNoWriMo was becoming a national phenomenon.

In 2005, NaNoWriMo was officially so big that it had to be its own company. Baty himself had written a couple of books about banging out a fast first draft, during NaNoWriMo, of course. Thousands of people participated, with membership in this de facto creative organization growing every year. In 2017, over 300,000 people participated from around the world. Tens of thousands met their goal.

How to participate

It’s easy! Just create an account on and get down to business. It’s not too late to catch up! Regions tend to form groups and write cooperatively, sometimes with food present. Events like all-night write-ins and kickoff parties are common. The NaNo website hosts topical and regional forums where writers can support each other.

A lot of libraries also have NaNoWriMo programs. Some of these are in the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium! Check out Hamilton-Wenham’s library NaNo program while November is still in full swing.

So what are you waiting for? Go write that novel today!

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Novel November Displays @ Nevins Library

November offered a cornucopia of displays at the Nevins Library as we honored and celebrated Veteran’s Day, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), graphic novel memoirs, Thanksgiving, up-cycled crochet projects, and a raven in the stacks!

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NaNoFriMo Week, Part 3: the conclusion

NaNoWriMo ImageIn honor of National Novel Writing Month, aka, NaNoWriMo, Nevins Buzz wrote a story during the month of November.  Three of our contributors passed around a story, mostly posted on Fridays in November (This is why we’re calling it NaNoFRIMo!) What follows is the exciting conclusion…

Click on the links to read  Part 1 and Part 2

The building he stepped into wasn’t like the library at the Grand Academy of Wizards. There books floated (and on occasion spontaneously combusted). Still the small library felt welcoming as Gerald stepped through the front door. He looked up, it really was small though, “Really, really small.”

A laugh came from the desk next to the door, and he realized that it was also a silent library. Or it had been.

He cleared his throat a couple of times and turned to face the woman behind the desk. She was short and slight, perhaps five feet tall. She had light brown hair cut close to her head, and the bit of white peeking out at the roots gave a clue to her age. “Ah– hi–” He stuck out his hand, then pulled it back. “I apologize. It’s a beautiful library. Truly.”

The woman smiled, “No apology needed. This is a small town, and it’s no shame to have a small library. Are you new in town?”

Gerald glanced around the library as a meow seemed to echo through the space, “I-ah-no, just busy.”

“I’m Ms. Halwort.” She chuckled to herself, “Sorry, just before you got here we had Story Time. I’m Dorothy and the self important meow came from Madeline.”

“A cat?”

Dorothy nodded, “Our library cat. She adopted us about five years ago and we let the children name her.”

“Oh–” Gerald glanced from side to side before focusing again on Dorothy, “I’m Jerry– Gerald.”

“Well Jerry Gerald, how may I help you?”

Gerald frowned, “No, it’s– ah–” he blushed, “I’m not usually this scattered.” A smile fluttered across his face, “In my youth I could talk the bark off a tree. But now with Abby and Dana– and Angie–” Gerald sighed. “I feel like I’m juggling war wands… ah, chainsaws. It’s like I’m juggling chainsaws on a teeter totter.”

Without a word Dorothy picked up a flyer from the display next to her and handed it to him. “Dad’s and Donuts is the 2nd and 4th.”

Join Us For
Moms and Muffins Story Time
1st + 3rd Saturday of Each Month

“Thank you. That’s not actually why I came here. But thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Dorothy folded her hands on the desk and waited. She didn’t have to wait long before Gerald spoke.

“Do you have anything in the library on home schooling? I have two girls. Abby and Dana. No matter what we do they don’t want to go to school. We, Angie and I, we’re at the end of our ropes. The problem is I’m not sure where to start.”

Dorothy came around the desk. “Our Non-Fiction is upstairs.” She led the way to a spiral staircase that he hadn’t seen from the doorway. “The books will be in two places. 371.042 and 649.68.”

He’d gone up the stairs first, but paused and looked over his shoulder, “How do you know?”

Dorothy smiled, “Well, it wasn’t magic. I’ve been a librarian for more than forty years young man, and the Dewey Decimal system is not terribly complicated. Here we go–”

She pulled books off the shelf with titles like, Real Life Homeschooling, The Year of Learning Dangerously, and A Parent’s Guide to Homeschooling. Then they moved to the 649s. There was a book by David Guterson called Family Matters: Why Home Schooling Makes Sense, and one called Home School Manual.

Gerald held the Home School Manual in his hands, “This is a sixth edition?”

Dorothy pulled down a couple more books as she nodded. “You are not the first to want to enrich your childrens’ lives through home schooling. Nor will you be the last. If done right it’s as good a solution as public or private school.”

They both fell silent as they navigated back down the stairs, their arms laden with books. Dorothy piled the books on the counter when they got there and handed Gerald a piece of paper. “If you fill out this form and show me your ID we’ll get you a card.”

“Thank you– Thank you so much. I– my wife focuses on numbers and rules and reading these will help me convince her it’s the right thing to do.”

Dorothy took the form from him. Madeline jumped up onto the counter in front of him, and before he knew it, he had a card and Dorothy had checked the books out to it. She slid them across the counter, the long strip of thermal paper sticking out from the top one. “I wish you good luck with your wife and kids and if you need anything else, we’re here for you…” Her smile came back, “As long as you don’t need us on a Sunday, or Thursday morning, or Friday or Saturday Night.”

Gerald laughed, “Thank you so much.”

Before either of them could utter another word something that sounded like a cross between a roar and meow came from Madeline.

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NaNoFriMo Week 2

NaNoWriMo ImageIn honor of National Novel Writing Month, aka, NaNoWriMo, Nevins Buzz will write a story during the month of November! Four of our contributors will pass around a story, which will post every Friday in November. (This is why we’re calling it NaNoFRIMo!) If you’re interested in National Novel Writing Month, you can participate, too! Tell us about your NaNo efforts and how your novel is progressing. Good luck!

To read Part 1 of the story, click here

When Angie first suggested it years ago, the idea was so appealing: his own school. He could determine the curriculum, he wouldn’t allow for the degradation of core principles that occurred at the Academy to undermine his mission. He would admit only the most pure of heart, he would teach only positive, affirming enchantments.

He had been touched by her faith in him, the gleam in her eye as she described her vision—their vision—of what the new school could be. Having graduated with top honors, having defeated the Duke, his reputation secured, there was no stopping her. Them. Whatever.

Then the pregnancy.  Angie’s hospitalization early on for hyperemesis gravidarum, or “morning sickness on steroids,” then her months of bed rest. He tended to her round the clock, making sure that her health and the babies’ health was the top priority so that she could use the time to get work done and stay on top of the ceaseless phone calls and emails. Gerald was tempted more than once to employ supernatural means to keep her still and ensure the babies’ health, but Angie had been adamant that he keep magic out of the pregnancy.

When Abby and Dana were born, he was relieved: relieved that the long, stressful months of pregnancy were over. Relieved that they were healthy and as close to full term as could be expected with twins. Relieved that Angie would soon be back to work. He would never admit that aloud, of course, but her presence was…considerable.



NaNoWriMo ImageIn honor of National Novel Writing Month, aka, NaNoWriMo, Nevins Buzz will write a story during the month of November! Four of our contributors will pass around a story, which will post every Friday in November. (This is why we’re calling it NaNoFRIMo!) If you’re interested in National Novel Writing Month, you can participate, too! Tell us about your NaNo efforts and how your novel is progressing. Good luck!

Gerald hadn’t gotten rid of his magic wand, exactly. It just wasn’t terribly useful these days. And, truth be told, he wasn’t exactly sure where he’d last seen it. Knife drawer, maybe? Somewhere the kids couldn’t get at it. “Abby! Dana!” he hollered from the kitchen. He could feel the thick smell of burning eggs suffusing his sinuses and hurriedly flipped the contents of the pan. They hadn’t quite burned. “Get up! You’re going to school!”

A screeching whine pierced the eggy fog. Angie, high heels flashing and lipstick razor-edge perfect, strode past Gerald like the human embodiment of The Last Straw. Gerald watched her disappear into the girls’ room. The whine immediately escalated into a drawn-out shriek.

There’s a spell for this, Gerald thought moodily, dumping the eggs onto three plates. Would flambus marvillius have taken care of the wakeup blues? Or was that the spell for lighting five candles at once? As though in response to his thoughts, the smoke alarm added its voice to the cacophony of Gerald’s adorable children and loving wife as they pitched battle in the bedroom. Gerald fanned the ceiling with a tax return. A small, pink, sparkly sneaker sailed through the bedroom doorway, striking the opposite wall of the main hallway and knocking down a picture frame. “Stop throwing things!” he howled, grabbing the dustpan as the smoke alarm screeched on.  What a morning.

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