United We Stand

Don’t forget to enter our One-Year Anniversary contest to win a Nook Simple Touch. You can enter through November 30th. Click the link below for a few fun ways of entering. The more you do, the more chances you have at winning. You need to enter through the Rafflecopter link to be eligible to win. Good luck!


Over the past few weeks, NJ and its surrounding states have gone through a tragic event in Hurricane Sandy that’s touched many of us in one way or another. Some were inconvenienced by lack of power while others were devastated in worse ways. But through all the sadness, I repeatedly hear stories of people helping people. Whether it’s giving someone shelter, food, clothes, contributions, people are reaching out to help.

Unity provides support and can help you feel like you’re not alone when faced with a challenge or an obstacle. Everyone needs a support system. Whether it’s your family, friends, church, writer’s group, or something else, we all need to feel like we belong to something larger than us. Writer and critique groups offer a way of uniting people with common desires—writing, getting published—and provide support to encourage and promote writing.

With the month of November comes the start of the National Novel Writing Month, referred to as NaNoWriMo. The goal is to write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. Last year, there were over 256,000 people who participated in this challenge. That’s an amazing number of people to support the craft of writing. Although I’ve not personally stepped up to this challenge, others I know have, and I applaud you!

This year, NJ Romance Writer’s started a tradition similar to NaNoWriMo, called JeRoWriMo (Jersey Romance Writing Month). The goal was to write 30,000 words during the month of February. Why February you may ask? What better month to celebrate love than the month where nationally we acknowledge couples and being in love with Valentine’s Day.

I’m pleased to announce that our wonderful leader, Nancy Herkness, announced at this weekend’s NJRW meeting that she’ll be leading us again in our united endeavor. Despite 2013 not being a leap year, giving us one less day to write, our goal is the same—30,000 words. With all my family and work responsibilities, I wasn’t sure I could do this, but I did! With some planning and plotting, you can, too! Here are some of my tips:

  1. Although you may not be a plotter, it helps to have a general idea/outline of the story and turning points. With just over 1,000 words a day to write, you don’t have much time to stare at the blinking cursor.
  2. Character development – know your main characters, along with their goals, motivation, and conflict.
  3. Pre-writing. Write a couple paragraphs in the main character’s POV. Get in character, so to speak, so you’re ready to go.
  4. When February 1st approaches, just write. Don’t pause to research some minute detail. Just write!
  5. 30K Write Away. That’s our motto! Save editing for March 1st. They’ll be plenty of time to correct your grammar and add detail after the challenge ends.
  6. To quote one of my favorite authors, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, “Give yourself permission to write garbage.”
  7. Disconnect. Yes, I mean turn off your cell phone, email, Twitter, Facebook while you’re writing.
  8. Share your goal with your family and ask for their help in supporting you. Even if that means eating pancakes or cereal for dinner a few times.
  9. Check in. If you’re struggling with moving forward, check in with our group. This year, we had a Yahoo group that served as a major support system. Share your challenges as well as your victories.
  10. Set your own goal. If you can’t meet the 30,000 words, that’s fine. Maybe your goal is 5k, 10k or 15k. There’s nothing wrong with that. The point is to embrace writing.

Are you game? Are you planning on joining us? I plan to and hope you will as well. If you’re entering next year or participated this year, please share your suggestions on how to prepare or share what you got out of the experience.

From all the Femmes, we wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Leave a comment


  1. Wow, what a post! You’re right about how important it is to have a support group for whatever endeavor you’re engaged in, including just life itself. The energy other people can share with you is an amazing help.

    Your tips for JeRoWriMo are fantastic! Can you post them on the NJRW loop in January to get people thinking? I’d love that.

    • Hi, Nancy. I’ll definitely post them on the loop next month. Maybe I’ll even submit to the Heartline Herald. Thanks for suggesting and a bigger THANKS for being our fearless leader again. What a great way to bring together our fabulous group!

  2. R.A. DeFranco

     /  November 18, 2012

    I’m in, Maria! I’m currently doing NaNoWriMo. So far I have written almost 28K in 17 days (I haven’t written yet today). The goal is the write the first 50K this month, take time off for the Holiday’s and wrap things up with the final 30K in JeRoWriMo. I love your tips and the spirit of this post. We are so lucky to have such a great group and to have Nancy at the helm. Can’t wait!


  3. Jenna Blue

     /  November 18, 2012

    And maybe submit to the newsletter too? : ) Super tips, Maria! Thank you!

  4. I second Nancy and Jenna…get these tips out to the group! I especially like the cereal and pancakes…which we do all the time, anyway. My kids love breakfast for dinner. Bacon is on sale this week…stock up, people! lol


  5. Nicole Doran

     /  November 18, 2012

    Great post Maria! And PopTarts do have some nutritional value too in a pinch – especially with milk. Thanks for the tips.
    Nicole 🙂

  6. Nice post, Maria! I love these tips. I am really looking forward to JeRoWriMo! And this year, I’m not going to leave it to the last minute, writing 5,400 words in the final day. Must. Plan. Ahead.


    • Hi Joanna. Yes, lets all try for no all-nighters on 2/28. I’m looking forward to picking up Vicky and Jaime’s story again. I have lots of plotting to do between now and Feb!

  7. Maria, great tips. It’s motivating me to get busy. We’ve one less day in February too and it sure makes the month pass quickly! Hoping to have 30K written prior to February and another 30K during. So manuscript will be 2/3 drafted. 🙂

  8. Jen Sampson

     /  November 19, 2012

    Great post, Maria! I couldn’t do JeRoWriMo this year, but I’m getting myself psyched for it this year. Can’t wait!

  9. Lori

     /  November 20, 2012

    I think everybody has said anything I wanted to – lol. They are great tips. The only thing they left for me to add is you have a great positive attitude Maria which is needed in a support group. I tried, am trying going slow nanowrimo its kicking my butt. I can’t just write and not correct. So I’m in revising mode on my first 25k. Plan on using Jersey’s writing month to do the other 30 like Michelle. Good luck to all who try.

    • Hi Lori. I think each person needs to customize their game plan for all of these writing challenges to what works best for you. If you need to edit before you continue, then that’s what you do. And honestly, I go back and look at the last scene to refresh my memory before writing. If I make tweaks along the way, I do. But if there’s something big I need to research, I put placeholder notes to remind me of what I need to investigate. Keep plugging forward on NaNoWriMo. The key is to keep writing. Glad you’re doing JeRo. Good luck!


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