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Spend November writing a novel

Cecilia Nasmith

By Cecilia Nasmith, Northumberland Today

Maureen Pollard is one of the volunteers inviting you to follow her lead and write a novel in 30 days with the National Novel Writing Month challenge.
Angela C. Johnson photo

Maureen Pollard is one of the volunteers inviting you to follow her lead and write a novel in 30 days with the National Novel Writing Month challenge. Angela C. Johnson photo


If you've always felt like you have a novel in you, but wondered how to get it out there, taking the National Novel Writing Month challenge could mean a completed first draft by Dec. 1.

Between midnight Nov. 1 and 11:59 p.m. Nov. 30, two local volunteers will be there to help you through the process of turning out a 50,000-word first draft of that novel you've dreamed of writing.

Four-time challenge participant Jennifer Bogart runs a small company called Morning Rain Publishing and is a published author with the young-adult fantasy series Liminal Lights to her credit.

Three-time challenge participant Maureen Pollard is a social worker in her day job.

“I write fiction just as a fun outlet,” Pollard said in a recent interview.

“I've got nothing published yet, but I have written a couple of novels I'm still working on shopping around, cleaning them up and trying to get someone interested.

“Jenny and I really love writing. We are doing this as passionate volunteers,” she said.

The first step is to register. Create a free account at (look in the region of Canada – Ontario – Elsewhere), and get ready to novel in November.

Pollard and Bogart are making sure you don't have to go it alone, with introduction, kick-off, support and wrap-up sessions in Cobourg, Port Hope and Brighton.

An introduction session takes place Oct. 22 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Cobourg Public Library (200 Ontario St.).

A kick-off party takes place Nov. 1 from 7 to 9 p.m. at CJ's Tap and Grill (1 Strathy Rd., Cobourg).

Two November sessions will offer in-progress support, Pollard said.

“We’ll have writing prompts for when you feel stuck, word sprints to help you boost your progress, and small incentives and rewards,” she said.

Plot Twisters sessions are planned in all three communities:

• Cobourg – Nov. 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Trinity United Church (284 Division St.).

• Brighton – Nov. 12 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Brighton Public Library (35 Alice St.).

• Port Hope – Nov. 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Jack Burger Sports Complex (60 Highland Dr.).

Feel The Momentum sessions are planned in all three communities:

• Cobourg – Nov. 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Trinity.

• Brighton – Nov. 21 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Brighton library.

• Port Hope – Nov. 24 from 10 a.m. to noon at Jack Burger.

A session called One Final Push runs from 7 p.m. to midnight Nov. 30 at the Cat and Fiddle Pub (38 Covert St., Cobourg).

A Thank Goodness It's Over celebration takes place Dec. 3 from 1 to 3 p.m. at a location to be determined.

The challenge is to write a 50,000-word first draft in the month of November, Pollard noted, not a finished-and-polished text.

“They talk about letting go of your inner editor, not trying to repair any of the words, just getting them out there,” she said.

“You can seriously get 50,000 words out in 30 days. The national novel-writing program has follow-up webinars and blog postings about editing and cleaning up your work.

“They don't have to be good words, they don't have to be the right words, they just have to be 50,000 words. Later you take the good words, the right words, and go back and do the editing.”

This is true of basically any novel, she said — by the time it is published, quite a lot of work has been done on it.

“But you can't do that work until you have got the first draft out there.”

As for inspiration, different muses move different writers. Pollard's own fascination is Newfoundland, and she has drawn on that for two of her previous novel challenges.

“One was just a fun story about pirates in Newfoundland. The other was a sort of historical romance set in World War II in Newfoundland.”

That one involved a piece of Newfoundland history that has always stayed with her, when the Americans came to build a base in Argentia. They chose it for its natural-view harbour and its flat expanses of land that would accommodate an airfield. But to obtain the land, they had to evict a thriving farming community, family operations that had been mainstays for a hundred years or more.

Pollard and Bogart are looking forward to offering participants the opportunity to connect with other like-minded writers seeking ways to increase their word count.

“We’re looking forward to helping you create your masterpiece or, at the very least, reach your goal of finally writing that novel,” Pollard said.

For more information, e-mail or