News from NaNoLand

July Newsletter: News from NaNoLand

Camp NaNoWriMo by Sarah Shuttleworth

Have you ever thought ‘Someday I’d like to write a novel’? Have you heard of NaNoWriMo and thought that the idea of writing 50,000 words in one month seems daunting? Well I’ve got the perfect thing for you to test those waters and push yourself to write that story! Camp NaNoWriMo is a virtual writer’s retreat, designed for maximum flexibility and crea- tivity. NaNoWriMo has Camp sessions in both April and July, and they welcome word-count goals between 30 and 1,000,000. Maybe a novel isn’t exactly what you had in mind. Camp NaNoWriMo writers can tackle any project they’d like including new novel drafts, revision, poetry, scripts, and short stories. You set your own goal whether it’s to write a certain number of words, hours, minutes, lines, or pages.

If you would like more information, have questions about how NaNoWriMo works, or would just like to connect with other writers who will be writing with literary abandon this July contact Sarah Shuttleworth at

National Novel Writing Month is also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that believes your story matters. They know that writing makes the world a more crea- tive, vibrant place. Through NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo, and the Young Writers Program, they work hard to empower and encourage that vibrant creativity. And, they can’t do it without writers like you.


  • Encourages you to focus on a novel! Bonus points for 1st drafts.
  • One goal everyone shares: 50,000 words in 30 days.
  • Hundreds of in-person write-ins led by local Municipal Liaisons.
  • A 100% fun writing challenge that believes your story matters… and that you can totally write it.


Camp NaNoWriMo

  • Focus on any writing project: novel, short story, cookbook…
  • Set an individual goal! You can even track time instead of words.
  • Join a virtual “cabin” to create your own cohort of up to 20 folks.
  • A 100% fun writing challenge that believes your story matters… and that you can totally write it.

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Member Spotlight

March Newsletter Member Spotlight: Sarah Shuttleworth

Member Spotlight: Sarah Shuttleworth



In November of 2010 Sarah saw someone post on facebook about a writing challenge they were participating in called NaNoWriMo. On a whim she looked up the site, made an account, and unknowingly started a journey that would change her life. That year she started writing with no plot and no idea how to even write a novel. She met up with friends in Fort Stockton who were also participating. They had a great time that first November but once it was done they missed those writing sessions and wanted to do something to progress their writing all year round. Critique Cafe was born from that.

Sarah participates in Critique Cafe all year long but November is one of her favorite times of the year. She is a Municipal Liaison for National Novel Writing Month and loves when she gets to help encourage others to write their own novels during the challenge. She loves the NaNoWriMo organization and how much they do to encourage young story tellers.

When she isn’t writing she may be found participating in her other hobbies which include painting, reading, and tabletop gaming. That is when she isn’t busy chasing down her two little boys and shuttling them to various activities of their own!


Spotlight Feature Article by Sarah Shuttleworth

It was a dark and stormy night. Of course it was, that’s how all of these things seem to start isn’t it. I was waiting at the bus stop, wrapped up in my jacket, huddling underneath the small covering when I saw her. A flash of lightning lit up the street and there she was, walking with no umbrella. I watched her walking in the darkness for a moment wondering why someone would be out in weather like this with no umbrella.

Another flash of lightning lit the sky and I noticed a person following a good distance behind her. He had a large hat on and a trench coat with the collar up. The woman crossed the street at the cross walk and turned towards the bus stop. I tried to nonchalantly look around, trying to keep an eye on the man. He was leaning in a doorway watching the woman. Lightning flashed. I tried to try to get a better look at him but even with the lightning, darkness seemed to cling to him, completely covering his face so I couldn’t make out a single detail. His head followed her as she walked into the bus stop. She sat on the other end of the bench, closed her eyes, and leaned against the dirty plexiglass. She had short blonde hair plastered to her face and her red jacket was dripping it was so soaked. Should I say something about the man?

“Hey.” I managed to say.

“Oh, uh hello.” She said with a nervous glance. The smell of vanilla and brown sugar tickled my nose.

“Crazy weather huh”

“Yeah, I didn’t know it was going to rain, otherwise I’d have grabbed an umbrella.”

“Here, take mine.” I held out my umbrella.

“Oh I couldn’t. You need it, besides I’m already soaked anyway.”

“I’ll just be jumping on and off the bus. I don’t need it. I insist.” I gave her a smile. She returned one as she grabbed the umbrella.

“Thanks.” She said.

I chanced a look across the street to see if the man was still there. He was staring at her. An 18 wheeler passed in front of me and when it was gone, so was he. I quickly looked around but there was no trace of him. Maybe I was imagining things. I looked back over to her and saw that the man was now on our side of the street and walking this way. I could feel my heart pounding faster and my mouth going dry. I could see him blurred beyond the plexiglass. I didn’t know what to do. My palms were getting sweaty. I had an intense feeling that something terrible was about to happen. I opened and closed my mouth several times but no words seemed to come out. I swallowed the lump in my throat and refused to take my eyes off the menacing man. Thankfully the bus pulled in. Safety was a few steps away. I jumped to my feet.

“Ladies first” I said as I gestured to the door, hoping she would enter quickly so we could leav

e. She smiled as she half opened the umbrella and darted onto the bus. She stood on the top step as she closed the umbrella. I went to step onto the bus when a hand grasped my arm.

“Don’t get on the bus.” It was the man from across the street. I tried to pull away but he was remarkably strong.

“Let me go!” I pulled and pulled, but his grip never slackened.

“Trust me. You don’t want to get on that bus.” I looked him in the face. He was an old man, covered with scars.

“Don’t get on that bus.” He emphasized each of those last words.

“Why not?” I asked.

“I’m trying to help you kid.”

“Doesn’t seem that way” I tugged my arm again.

“Look at her again.” He whispered, his lips barely moving.

I looked up onto the bus and saw the woman staring at us. She had a pleading look on her face and held out her hand like she wanted me to join her. The man suddenly pulled something out of his coat with his other hand and held it up to her. Her face immediately changed from a sweet, demure, young woman to a raging snarl. I stepped backwards and he let me go. The door of the bus closed as she was still snarling at him. The bus began to pull away and I looked at the old man.

“Did I just see what I think I saw?”

“What did you see?” He asked as he tucked the item away.

“Did she have fangs?”

He chuckled.

“You thought I was the threat didn’t you.” He said with a wry smile.

“You’re not answering the question. What’s going on?”

He looked me over.

“Come with me and I’ll tell you everything you want to know.” He stepped out into the rain and began walking away.

What should I do? It’d be crazy to follow him, right? Confused, a little scared, and without an umbrella, I jogged into the night to follow him and unknowingly start a
crazy journey that would change everything about my life and what I knew.

News from NaNoLand

December Newsletter: News from NaNoLand Wrap Up

National Novel Writers Month Wrap Up by Sarah Shuttleworth

National Novel Writing Month has come and gone. Several members of Critique Cafe joined in the challenge and each pledged to write 50,000 words during November. November is typically a very busy time of the year but this group powered through all of life’s obstacles, challenges, schedules, and events. The participating group wrote an amazing 338,713 words!

During the month we gathered together at various events to come to- gether and write. We had several short write ins at local Come Write In location The Garage Coffee, Music, and More. We had our first ever Write In Motion event where we travelled around town stopping at vari- ous locations to write for a couple hours before moving on to the next one. We also had my personal favorite annual event, the Afternoon of Writing Dangerously. During that event we spend an entire afternoon writing and eating, it’s a potluck and not only can this group write well but they can cook well too! During this years Afternoon of Writing Dangerously a total of 26,260 words were written!

Overall I am really proud of the whole group. One wrote while waiting at the hospital for a grand-baby to be born. Some wrote in free moments at work. Some wrote in cars on the way to visit family. All worked really hard and no matter what their final totals were, have a story they can now start to edit and polish. In the end we had six complete their goal and made it to that 50,000 word count. Now the fun begins as we begin on the editing journey! Well maybe after a nap…nanowrimo

News from NaNoLand

November Newsletter: News from NaNoLand

National Novel Writers Month by Sarah Shuttleworth


In November of 2010 I saw someone post on Facebook about a writing chal- lenge he was participating in called NaNoWriMo. I’d heard about it before so I knew vaguely what it was. On a whim I looked up the site, made an account, and unknowingly started a journey that would change my life. On November 4th, 2010 I started writing a novel with no plot and no idea how to even write a novel. I posted about joining the challenge and to my delight I had friends in Fort Stockton who were participating. That month we got together several times and had a blast writing and encouraging each other. Once it was done we missed those writing sessions and wanted to do something to progress our writing all year round. Critique Cafe was born from that and has since become something very special to me. I look forward to all of our meetings and have met some amazing people through this group.

When November 2011 was getting close I saw an application to become a Municipal Liaison for the organization. I applied and was appointed as ML for the Elsewhere in Texas region. Since then I have organized meetings every year for our group. I’ve watched as we’ve grown from a couple of friends meeting in a living room to a writing family filling up a coffee shop. NaNoWriMo has become something I’m passionate about. My goal as an ML is to encourage as many people as I can along this writing journey. In the years since our local group has been participating we’ve written collectively over 2, 678, 000 words! Some of those words have gone on to be edited and published! I’m very proud of our group and very passionate about what NaNoWriMo can do for creative lives. So if you’ve ever thought that someday you’d like to write a novel, come join us. You won’t regret it


News from NaNoLand

October Newsletter: News from NaNoLand

National Novel Writers Month by Sarah Shuttleworth

The very first NaNoWriMo took place in July 1999, in the San Francisco Bay Area. That first year there were 21 participants. 20 years later there are more than 400,000 participants from all around the world are expected to participate this November. So what exactly is NaNoWriMo? National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1st, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30th. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel. National Novel Writing Month believes in the transformational power of creativity. They provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.

“Too many people think they’re not a ‘creative type,’ but to be human is to be a ‘creative type’. NaNoWriMo teaches you to believe that your story matters, to trust the gambols of your imagination, and to make the blank page a launching pad to explore new universes. That’s important because when we create, we cultivate meaning. Our stories remind us that we’re alive, and what being alive means,” says Grant Faulkner, Executive Director of NaNoWriMo.

So how can you join in on the fun? Sign up on After you’ve signed up come to a local meeting! Fort Stockton has a local group that meets regularly during the month of November for Write-ins. Write-ins are full of fun, games, encouragement, and writing! You can also contact local Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo Sarah Shuttleworth at to ask any questions, request more information, or find out when and where the next meeting will be.

Is there an age limit to participate? No! Younger aspiring novelists can join the Young Writers Program