One Final Chance to Win a Great Prize: Family History NaNoWriMo Contest – 26-29 November 2015

For the final week of NaNoWriMo 2015, here is one more chance to win a great prize thanks to GeneaBloggers and F+W Media.

Here is the contest announcement:


A NaNoWriMo Contest at GeneaBloggers!

During National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), GeneaBloggers and The Accidental Genealogist and Family Tree University want genealogists and family historians to consider writing their own life stories. Have you struggled to write your family’s memoir? There’s help on the way . . .
Take a look at the Writing Your Family Memoir independent study course from Family Tree University, created by Sunny McClellan Morton.
Writing Your Family Memoir: Create a Captivating Record of Your Family’s Story: The story of your own or your family’s history is likely to be the most personal, emotionally satisfying and overwhelming writing project you’ll ever undertake. You’ve collected oral histories, personal memories, journal entries, photographs, letters and countless other documents. Now find out how to weave them together into a compelling story. In this course, you’ll work with a published writer to craft an outline for your book and start putting your family’s legacy down on paper.
Better yet, why not enter the Family History NaNoWriMo Contest this week and you could win a FREE download of Writing Your Family Memoir independent study course from Family Tree University valued at $99.99. We’ll select one (1) lucky winner!
You could win if you enter by 11:50 pm CST on Sunday 29 November 2015. Click here!
[To find out the name of the lucky winner from Week 2, click here].

Contest information ©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.
Blog Post ©2015, copyright Lisa A. Alzo, All Rights reserved.

Staying the Course: Finishing Week 3 of NaNoWriMo

Well, Week 3 of NaNoWriMo 2015 has concluded and I am still “in it to win it.” I am writing something every day.I  am pushing through to beat the excuses of not having time and trying to focus on my project, despite many other writing deadlines. 

Image Credit: Pixabay

Okay, let’s get the accountability stuff out of the way. Here are my stats for Week 3:

  • Total Words Written 21,867 
  • Words Remaining 28,133
  • Current Day 22 
  • Days Remaining 9
  • At This Rate You Will Finish On December 21, 2015
  • Words Per Day To Finish On Time 3,126

This is a tall order to finish before 30 November 2015.  But, not impossible. I am planning for some writing sprints this week.  We shall see.

Now, more importantly, here are a few things I have learned about “writer self” in Week 3.

  • I need to schedule my writing sessions for this project because there are too many other priorities (in other words paid writing work) pulling for my “rear in chair” time.
  • I am an early morning creative writer.
  • I need external deadlines (I tend to let my self-imposed deadlines pass).
  • I don’t really believe in “Writer’s Block” (more about this at another time).
  • I really do like my writing project. Every time I go back and review my research I am amazed at the complexity of the story.
  • I enjoy the process of storyboarding and I could not get through NaNoWriMo without Scrivener for Mac and Windows (It was so worth buying both versions).

Week 4 is underway. Will I win?  Stay tuned…

If you are still in it too…I’d love to hear how you are doing.

©2015, copyright Lisa A. Alzo. All rights reserved.

Family History NaNoWriMo Contest at GeneaBloggers – 19-22 November 2015

Announcing the Week 3 Family History NaNoWriMo Contest at GeneaBloggers

Memoir writing is a topic I have covered in articles, blog posts, presentations, and courses. Most recently I wrote an article, “Telling Your Own Story: Crafting a Memoir in Six Steps,” for the Summer 2015 issue of Crossroads–the official quarterly publication of the Utah Genealogical Association (you will need to be a member to access the issue to read the article).  I also wrote a post for the Legacy Family Tree Blog in 2014 on “Five Fabulous Digital Tools to Power Your Life Story.”

If you have been thinking about writing a memoir, you will want to enter this week’s Family History NaNoWriMo Contest at GeneaBloggers.

Again I am happy to be teaming up with my colleague, Thomas MacEntee at GeneaBloggers, and F+W Media for another Family History NaNoWriMo Contest. Below is the announcement for the Week 3 contest – for another great book–The Truth of Memoir.

A NaNoWriMo Contest at GeneaBloggers!

During National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), GeneaBloggers and The Accidental Genealogist want genealogists and family historians to consider writing their own life stories. What will you leave behind for your descendants to understand you and how you lived? And how do you write about others in your life as part of your own memoir?

Subtitled “How to Write about Yourself and Others with Honesty, Emotion, and Integrity”, The Truth of Memoir by Kerry Cohen covers the topic of how to write about others in a memoir. “. . . Cohen’s personal experiences make her highly qualified to write on this topic, as she is the author of the bestselling memoir Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity.
Memoir is unique in its power to injure others and most memoirists have had to struggle with the repercussions of writing about people in their lives, often in unflattering ways. How were they able to triumph over fear? The Truth of Memoir contains insight, advice and recounts from thirty memoirists on the topic of writing about others, from family members and friends to ex-lovers and children. This book will give writers the courage to tackle these topics without doubt or fear.”
Better yet, why not enter the Family History NaNoWriMo Contest this week and you could win a FREE copy of The Truth of Memoir, valued at $17.99. We’ll select one (1) lucky winner!
You could win if you enter by 11:50 pm CST on Sunday 22 November 2015. Click here to enter!
Contest information ©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.
[To find out the name of the lucky winner from Week 2, click here].
Blog post ©2015, copyright Lisa A. Alzo. All rights reserved.

Half Way There: Continuing the Climb in Week 2 of NaNoWriMo

Well, it is now Sunday 15 November and two weeks since I started my NaNoWriMo journey. There’s good news and bad news. 

Image Credit: Pixabay

Whenever I am asked which I want to hear first I always choose bad news first so that the good news is what I hear last. 

The bad news for my personal NaNoWriMo tally is that I have written a total of 16,061 words thus far.  I am averaging 1,070 words per day, which is 600 under what I should be writing to reach the 50,000 words goal.  At this rate I won’t finish until 17 December 2015. If that were to happen it certainly would not be the end of the world, but I would much rather make the 30 November deadline.  To finish on time I need to bump up my word count to 2,122 words per day. The good news, however, is that I am STILL HERE. Still trying.  And I have written 16,000 words!  This is more than I have done on this project in the past six months.

So, still striving and aiming to write even more words in Week 3. I won’t lie and say it is going to be easy, or that I have some magic momentum consuming me. What I do have is a desire to do the best I can.  

As part of the NaNoWriMo experience you get “Pep Talks” in messages from other writers on the site. For the halfway point, one of the pep talks had the following quote: 

“Here’s what I want you to know: The kindest thing you can do for yourself right now is to let go of this fear. Don’t worry about writing something bad. Just write.”
— Stephanie Perkins.

So, for me, it will be one foot in front of the other (or one keystroke at a time) to continue the climb. I am not worried about writing something bad. I just plan to keep writing. 

For me, it isn’t the destination, but the journey that counts.

©2015, copyright Lisa A. Alzo. All rights reserved.

The Four Must-Have Items in My Writer’s Survival Kit

Here we are…it’s November! And I can’t wait to start writing. How about you?

Image credit: Pixabay

In order for me to keep my commitment to NaNoWriMo (and 50,000 words is definitely a commitment), I have identified four essential or must-have items for my personal writer’s survival kit.

1. MacBook Air. I like the portability of my MacBook Air. While I plan to do most of my writing in November in my home office, I may occasionally want a change of scenery and may choose to head to a library or coffee shop. 

2. Scrivener. If you are a writer and not using Scrivener, go download it now!  You can choose Scrivener for Windows or Scrivener for Mac (There’s a very liberal 30-day free trial, if you want to try it out before purchasing it). This project management tool by Literature and Latte had changed the way I write.  I especially like the corkboard feature for creating virtual index cards to outline/storyboard articles, blog posts, books, courses, and ancestor profiles. Honestly, I can’t write without it.

3. Moleskine notebook. While I do my writing in Scrivener, there are instances when I may not be online or have my computer with me when inspiration strikes (in the middle of the night, for example), and I often find it difficult to type on my phone’s virtual keyboard. During these times having my Moleskine notebook comes in handy. I like the classic Pocket Plain notebook, but there are larger sized Professional Style books. I can then snap photos of the handwritten pages with my smartphone and save them to my Evernote (premium) account to retrieve, read, and transcribe later on.

4. Coffee. I am an early bird and do my best writing in the early morning AFTER a large mug of coffee.  My personal favorite is Revv (for my Keurig). But I also stock up on Starbuck’s Via packets for those times when I want a quick caffeine fix or for when I travel.

I will definitely add other items to my kit as the month progresses, but for now I am armed with these essentials and am looking forward to starting my writing journey.

What items will you stock in your writer’s survival kit?

Copyright 2015, Lisa A. Alzo
All Righst Reserved


Fiction, Nonfiction or Memoir…What Will You Write in November?

Do you have a family history project on the back burner? A novel inside your head you have always wanted to write? A half-written nonfiction manuscript stashed somewhere on your computer’s hard drive? November is the perfect time to tap into your creativity and finally get that first draft in place!

Image credit: Pixabay

If you are ready, here are three ways to stop dreaming and start writing.

1. Sign up for NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. The very first NaNoWriMo took place in July 1999 (see Yes, it is an ambitious goal, but could be the “kick in the pants” you need to overcome your fears and get serious about storytelling. If you are committed to cranking out 50,000 words by November 30, click here to create your official NaNoWriMo profile (it’s super easy, I promise. I signed up today).

2. Be a rebel. You may ask, “Do I have to write a novel?”  If a novel is not your thing, don’t despair. You can still participate in NaNoWriMo. See the “What Genres Can I Write In?” section on their website. There is even a special group called NaNo Rebels in the forums for those who works don’t qualify as lengthy fiction. While I have pondered the possibility of writing a novel someday, my own writing roots are planted firmly in the area of creative nonfiction, so for this year I plan to focus on a project for this genre.  I am looking forward to being a “NaNo Rebel.”  Perhaps you can join me?

3. At the very least—start a Blog. Not quite ready to commit to word counts, deadlines, or peer pressure?  Then aim for a smaller goal. Blogging is a great way to take those baby steps to complete a writing project of a bigger scope (sign up for a free account on sites such as Blogger,WordPress, or TypePad). Even if you just wrote 500-600 words once a week (one blog post), you would be making progress. Begin with a small time commitment such as 15 minutes per day (come on, we can all find 15 minutes!) and then work your way up to longer sessions. Schedule this time on your calendar, block out all other distractions (such as Facebook, or other time wasters, social media) and set an alarm or timer. Write until the alarm or timer sounds. You can even make your blog private if you are not ready to share your posts with the world. The goal is to write something—anything.  Remember: You can’t edit a blank page!

Speaking of blogging, during November I will be sharing writing tips and resources on this blog (articles, books, videos, etc.), as well as a number of my favorite writing tools (writing software, productivity apps, and more). If I see any discounts or deals on such products I will also share the information with you. I’ve even teamed up with my friend and colleague Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers—each week there will be a unique contest on the GeneaBloggers website, where you will be able to enter to win some great prizes (stay tuned or more information). 

In addition, after years of making the excuse that “I don’t have time for NaNoWriMo,” I have decided to take the plunge myself and make the commitment to write those 50,000 words. I am going to focus on a project that has been waiting in the wings for over 10 years, and it is time to finally finish this book. After so many stops and starts, I decided I just need to start with a clean slate. I will share with you here my adventures, progress, successes and frustrations. 

Onward to November!  Let’s start writing!

Copyright 2015, Lisa A. Alzo

All Rights Reserved