NaNoWriMo 2016: Your Novel, Your Universe

nanowrimo_2016November is National Novel Writing Month! This is my fourth year participating.

NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel or non-fiction book. Register and begin your book prep at On Nov. 1, participants begin working toward the goal of writing at 50,000-word book by Nov. 30.

One part writing boot camp, one part rollicking party, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) celebrates its 18th year of encouraging creativity, education, and the power of the imagination through the largest writing event in the world. This year, NaNoWriMo expects nearly 500,000 people—including K-12 students and educators on their brand new Young Writers Program website —to start a 50,000-word novel in the month of November, guided by this year’s theme: Your Novel, Your Universe.

NaNoWriMo in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina area

I registered and joined the participants in the Raleigh-Durham region. As of Oct. 30, 387 participants have registered in NaNoWriMo RDU, so you’re not alone, and there are many ways to network to reach your goal. The kickoff party was Oct. 29 at the American Cancer Society in Raleigh and write-ins are planned in Cary, Durham, Apex, Brier Creek and Smithfield throughout the month.

NaNoWrMo in Johnston County, North Carolina

The Johnston County Writers Group is encouraging local participation in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) with four November write-ins at Grapes & Grounds, 135 S Third St, Smithfield. Each write-in is 4pm to 6pm on Thursday, Nov. 3, Thursday, Nov. 10, Tuesday, Nov. 15 and Tuesday, Nov. 29.  Co-hosts are Gary Ridout and myself, Cindy Brookshire.



Author Hope Dougherty (right), a member of the Johnston County Writers, recently held a book talk at Grapes & Grounds.

Wifi and street parking are available at this cozy coffee shop in historic downtown Smithfield (owners/baristas Patrick and Teresa Yauch sell wine, too). Directions to Grapes & Grounds at

The Johnston County Writers Group will still meet at our regular meeting time, 6:30 pm on Nov. 10, the second Thursday of the month, at the Selma Public Library, 301 N. Pollock Street, Selma, NC.

Join us!



Romance and Hope at a book club meeting in Pine Level


As a writer, you’d think I consume book after book, like a chain smoker igniting one cigarette with the stub of another.

Not so. Much of my reading time is spent on digital and print news – The Washington Post, the News & Observer, the Smithfield Herald and the Selma and Pine Level News. How can I resist headlines like this one:


Participating in the book club through St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Smithfield, North Carolina, forces me to read books.

This book club gathers once every two months, in member homes, after the eight o’clock morning service. We laugh, we talk, we eat brunch and drink coffee. We discuss the book du jour, from The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins to A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg. In the process, we share our lives with each other. The selection of the next read is by vote. Some books are challenging. Some are popular. Most are books I wouldn’t have picked up on my own, which almost makes it seem like a blind date with a book.


On Feb. 14, it’s my turn to host the book club. Since it is Valentine’s Day, we voted to read the romance Irish Encounter by Hope Toler Dougherty.

Hope is a local writer, and I invited her to join us for the discussion of her work. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, but I met her through the Johnston County Writers Group, which meets Feb. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Selma Public Library.

hope toler dougherty

Hope is a librarian in the town of Princeton, which is so small, the public library is housed in, and amplified by, the media center at the local high school. I have visited this library numerous times and have thoroughly enjoyed hearing presentations by other local writers, such as Alice J. Wisler, Cindy K. Green and Ellen Edwards Kennedy.


I’ve also attended two of Hope’s presentations. One was the launch for her book, Mars with Venus Rising, which takes place in the town of Mars, Pennsylvania. The second was a craft talk, about things like using the software Scrivener to organize your manuscripts. Writing is hard work, and often a thankless endeavor. Editing, publishing and marketing your books is even tougher. Hope has worked hard to get two books published, and is currently working on a third and fourth manuscript.

I’m hoping the Valentine’s Day meeting of the book club will bring us all a good time, with lots of laughter, as we discuss Hope’s work.

I wonder what book we will read next?