NaNoWriMo is back! are you in?

But first, I want to thank everyone *immensely* for the birthday wishes! It was a lovely weekend made even lovelier by all the fabulous, happy thoughts coming my way. Grazie mille!

And now, the winner of a free, signed copy of Justin Catanoso‘s My Cousin the Saint: A Search for Faith, Family, and Miracles from the commenters on my blog is:

Leanne of From Australia to Italy

Congratulations Leanne! I’ll be in touch!

Now, on to the NaNo stuff.

I’ve gotten several emails asking whether I’m going to be doing NaNoWriMo again this year. So I’m making it official here and now:

Yes, yes I am NaNo-ing, and you can find me here:


For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. It’s more international than national, but it *is* all about writing a novel–or at least 50,000 words throughout the month of November.

Last year, I got up close to half that mark, but sadly, haven’t worked much on those 21,000 words since. So here’s my question to you: should I bend the rules of NaNo and continue that story, or should I start anew with a whole new idea (yet to be thought of)?

In some respects, I’m excited to get going on something new and interested to see where it takes me, but then, well, last year’s characters have been running around in my head lately too, and I’m wondering whether they don’t have more to say.

But on the other hand, they could also say things in, say, January and make room for new faces, no?

Can you tell I’m a Libra? Balancing, weighing, difficulty deciding….

So what do you think? How about an excerpt of last year’s unfinished novel, so you know what, and who, we’re talking about? Here are the first 450 words or so:


“All I want is a coffee…strong, bitter, small!” yelled Saliha Abu Al-Fadl, her deep brown eyes glaring at the only man who could give her what she wanted.

It felt good to shout. She couldn’t remember the last time she had done it.

Nearby Salvatore Amato’s head was pulled from an article on military spending. He sought out the raised voice. Behind him to his left, was, as he expected, a damsel in distress. Always a sucker for such a thing, he folded the Philadelphia Inquirer under his arm and rushed, as much as an 83-year-old man can rush, over to the coffee counter.

“Excuse me, can I help?” he said as much to the woman as to the barista.

The woman wearing a burkha turned around and looked straight into a pair of coal black eyes framed by bushy white eyebrows and a rather pronounced nose. She glanced down and took quick note of his dark grey suit, white shirt, and black tie with small white crosses on it.

He topped off the look with a black derby, white band of course, that made her think of the old American gangster films. Her son, an increasingly famous movie producer, had sent her hundreds of his own favorite movies so that she could share his passion while learning English.

And now this animated gangster was waving a wooden cane back and forth at the young man behind the counter.

“She’ll have an espresso doppio,” said Salvatore. A smirk sneaked out from underneath a wild white mustache as he turned to Saliha. “My kind of woman,” he said as he looked into the woman’s pools of espresso for eyes and added a wink for good measure.

Saliha looked to the man behind the counter, hoping that the stranger had spoken the correct words. The coffee on the plane from Iraq had been watered down and weak, and she needed something much stronger to get through the day ahead.

“Well that’s all she had to say,” said the barista and turned away. He slammed the metal container holding the last brew hard against the end of the drawer that holds the old grounds.

“They have a strange language at these shops,” Salvatore said. “You may speak perfect English, and complimenti, it seems like you do, but it certainly doesn’t help you get a coffee here.” He took a black handkerchief out of his jacket pocket and wiped his forehead clean of the sweat that had formed on his walk over.

“Thank you sir,” Saliha said and turned back toward the counter to await her first coffee on American soil. As the machine hissed and gurgled, she could no longer contain her anticipation. Her lips curled into a broad smile that only she knew was there.


So what do I do? Start anew? Continue? Help!

21 Beans of Wisdom to “NaNoWriMo is back! are you in?”
  1. 10.20.2008

    Oh my gosh, I am hooked after one paragraph! I want more!! Somehow I missed this last year. I would vote either for bending the rules OR continuing this during a different month, just don’t give this story up. I can’t wait to read your first novel! I hope I haven’t missed that also.

    You certainly didn’t miss anything! Thanks so much for your input–I won’t give up on Sal and Sal, as I call them 😉

  2. awedree

    Please CONTINUE. I enjoyed reading the excerpt and am waiting for more!!! I am very interested in the story of a Middle Eastern immigrant, especially in what seems to be an environment with Italian immigrants/Italian Americans. As someone of similar descent, I’ve always been intrigued by the similiarities between my culture/experiences and those of Italian and other Mediteranean immigrants.

    You write beautifully. Keep it up 🙂

    Thanks! I’m intrigued by the Mediterranean cultures as well, particularly the similarities between those across different religious backgrounds. I’m definitely looking forward to further exploring this….

  3. Gil

    Continue with what you have. Why put it to waste. Good luck!

    Thanks! It certainly won’t go to waste even if it has to wait just a *bit* longer 🙂

  4. I say if the characters are swimming in your head now, keeping working on this novel.

    Not to get too crunchy but when characters “speak” to you…you should listen to them. 🙂

    nyc/caribbean ragazza’s last blog post..I’m not mad at Penèlope Cruz for dating my man.

    Yes! Yes! I’ll just have to wait and see how’s speaking on November 1 🙂

  5. 10.20.2008

    I’d go with finishing what you’ve already started – it’ll give you a great sense of accomplishment. Alternatively, start afresh. There now, I know, that’s no help at all! I always believe we should write the stories that want to be written, that come to us to be written. So if the old story is still insisting on being told, work on that for NaNo, but if there’s a new one busting to get out, then honour that one.
    Whatever you do though, have fun!

    Absolute Vanilla’s last blog post..It’s a tough life…

    Thanks for the advice, which *is* a help. In fact, I think I’ll be following it. Especially the fun part 😉

  6. Tina

    Please continue! And I want a copy! 🙂

    Tina’s last blog post..¡Feliz Día de la Madre!

    Hopefully I can give you a copy in person 🙂

  7. 10.20.2008

    I think you should start fresh, primarily because I am a stickler for rules, but also because my guess is that you kind of are also. Even if your wrote another 50K words in this novel, I think you wouldn’t have the sense of accomplishment that you would have had if you had started November 1 with a blank page.

    Also, are you going to do NaBloPoMo again? I’ve been thinking about doing either NaBlo or NaNo, but I haven’t decided which. I’m kind of leaning toward … neither, actually.

    flurrious’s last blog post..Who Wants Some of this Pizza That I Found on the Bus?

    I’m still thinking of NaBlo, yes. And I just might be crazy enough to do both again…hmm….

    And yes, I am a stickler for rules. You know me too well.

  8. 10.20.2008

    Oo! Oo! Oo! I LOVE it, Michelle! And yes, I think I AM nano-ing… I’m waiting until the last minute, though, to see if I can get my mom’s situation more stable.

    I think I need to write my next mystery during that month. Or get a good start.

    jen of a2eatwrite’s last blog post..A Great Reminder

    Can’t wait to hear more about this new mystery Jen! And many positive thoughts coming your way regarding Mom 🙂

  9. 10.20.2008

    I really do wish I could do it this year. Last year was my first year giving it a try and I didn’t “win” — but I got I think about 40,000 words on a new project and I was proud of myself. Unfortunately, this year I have a writing deadline on November 15, and I expect to be down to the wire with it, so no NaNo 2008 for me 🙁 🙁

    But I want to cheer everyone else on!

    So whichever project you choose, I’m excited. I think you should work on the one that’s most itching to get out… it’ll keep you going through the month. Then again, there really is something to be said for starting something from scratch on November 1 and seeing where you end up on November 30. Good luck. Keep us posted!

    nova’s last blog post..What I Did on My Staycation

    You’ve described my dilemma perfectly. I think what I may do is start out with something completely new and then if those old characters *really* want to talk to me, I’ll listen 😉

    And I’m so happy for you that you have that deadline 🙂

  10. 10.20.2008

    Happy Belated B-day.

    See you around the Nano boards!

    Nano’s enormous fun. This will be my fourth one.

    Devon Ellington’s last blog post..Monday, October 20, 2008

    Thanks for the bday wishes, and woohoo! Can’t wait for November 1 🙂

  11. 10.21.2008

    LOVED this bit from last year’s story that you shared — Saliha Abu Al-Fadl and Salvatore Amato are two lively and very intriguing characters — NaNo is grueling enough that you’ve got to work on whatever seems like the most fun. I like your idea of starting with something completely new, but still giving your old characters permission to speak if desired. Good luck! (and I’m looking forward to reading more!)

    anno’s last blog post..Sunday Scribblings: My Style

    Thanks for the support Anno 🙂 I’m very much looking forward to NaNo!

  12. 10.21.2008

    Hi Michelle,
    Thanks for the book! I look forward to reading it.
    I think you should change someones name as then the book is ‘different’ and you are not cheating. Or change something small, which makes it a teeny tiny bit different.

    Leanne in Italy’s last blog post..I’m a winner!

    Hah, I think you’re thinking like a Calabrian 😉

  13. 10.21.2008

    Thanks for fixing it so I could read it. The post cut off at the juicy part !

    Trust you to write a novel with coffee in it – I say go with the flow. If this novel is pouring out of you, it’s already got and interesting beginning, so see it to the end !

    In bocca al lupo.

    Scintilla’s last blog post..The Gardener

    It’s hard for me to keep coffee *out* of anything I write 😉 Glad you could finally read it!

  14. 10.21.2008

    Which do you want more? I think it’d be perfectly fair to work with what you’ve got, but it’d also be fair to start fresh… or go somewhere in the middle, which is starting fresh-ish, using what’s in your head from last year but in a new direction. Go for it, however feels best.

    Meg’s last blog post..Busted: Eating Crow, But Thankfully Not Dick’s

    Thanks Meg! Excellent advice 🙂

  15. I like it. I think you should continue and bend the rules a little. I mean, who would know but us 15 right now? LOL

    Unless of course, you have a fresh NEW story to tell?

    Salena of The Daily Rant’s last blog post..Farming The Wind

    Hah, thanks! I’m actually leaning toward starting fresh now…good thing I still have a little while to decide 😉

  16. 10.21.2008

    Rules are meant to be broken…especially anything to do with writing! Go with what feels right. Just write!

    I’ve done NaNo the last 3 years & I’ve followed the rules, starting fresh every time. But every time the same characters kept emerging. After last year’s NaNo, I realized that from those 3 NaNos I could pull out one story, so I’ve been working on that this year. I’ve got a first draft completed.

    I’ll be doing NaNo again this year. Not quite sure what I’ll be working on just yet. But the clock is ticking & I realize I need to really start thinking….off to think…

    Good for you Alison! What a great turn of events! And thank you for your support 🙂

  17. Chel

    I signed up for NaNo but now I’m thinking I was crazy when I did that. Aighh!

    I’m pretty sure being crazy is a prerequisite 😉

  18. 10.22.2008

    Well now you started it like that, you can’t just leave it, you have to write more.

    I can’t handle cliff hangers.

    So glad that you are doing this, I can’t wait to read it!
    Woo Hoo!!

    Ciao Cara

    Scarlett & Viaggiatore

    Wanderlust Scarlett’s last blog post..Fall Fashion In Santa Fe

    Thanks, as always, for your support. They won’t be forgotten–in fact I have another 20,000 words or so full of Sal and Sal….

  19. 10.22.2008

    YAY!! I’m kind of patiently waiting on the edge of my seat…



    Scarlett & Viaggiatore

    Wanderlust Scarlett’s last blog post..The French Patisserie In Santa Fe

    Hee hee, well for you, you just may get a sneak preview 😉

  20. 10.24.2008

    Hey I say if you’ve got more to say, continue to run with it! I’m still having a hard time of thinking of how words equate out to number of pages too. 50,000 seems like a whole lotta words. Little intimidated to have signed on for this project, but should be fun!

    LJ’s last blog post..begging you for mercy

    It *is* a whole lotta words…we’ll get there eventually!

  21. 10.25.2008

    Continue on, MF! I really do think your love for espresso is larger than you and your whole world. Eyes like pools of espresso indeed. It gives Italy a whole new light for me, you should turn it into a book if you finish by the end of Nov. I am all for rule bending, especially if it means you will finish this story. What did you decide?

    NewWrldYankee’s last blog post..How to Not Lose Money in Getting the Local Currency

    I’m actually leaning toward something new…we’ll see what happens on November 1 😉

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

Calabria Guidebook

Calabria travel guide by Michelle Fabio



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake