8 Best Selling Novels Written During NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it’s affectionately called, starts in less than two weeks.


I’m a past winner of this book writing frenzy. I’m proud of my stickers and certificate saying that I participated and completed 50,000 words in 30 days (which works out to about 1,667 words a day). I had been struggling to complete a novel length story for years and the year I decided to do WriMo I was determined to finish a first draft “no matter what.”

The resulting work, The Sangoma’s Daughter, started out as a vague idea I had about a down-on-his-luck janitor at an American university who meets and has a tempestuous relationship with a young Zulu woman from South Africa who is a sangoma (a traditional healer). I decided to “pants” the story.

For those of you who don’t know what a “pantser” is, it’s someone who just jumps into writing a story with no pre-planning and then writes a white-hot first draft by the “seat of their pants” – a pantser. I’m now a firm believer in being a plotter – someone who writes out beats (story actions) and figures out what the characters want from each other before the story begins. As I write within the plotted out beats I often find the freedom to pants some scenes as well.

The result of pantsing a NaNoWriMo novel was a 50,000 word story that is a total mess. As I wrote I became fascinated with this janitor who lived by himself in a utility closet on campus and the Sangoma’s daughter never quite made it into the story. It was a wreck.

Some days, in order to get out my writing quota of 1,667 words, I’d make up lists of things that my janitor would be thinking about instead of figuring out what he was doing. I’d write endless run-on sentences just to pile up words. The “novel” is full of long passages of description that aren’t important, dialogue that is pumped up with unnecessary information and general fumbling around to try to find what my story was about. I still haven’t made another pass at this story, but I will return to it someday to see if I can salvage a chapter or two.

What I did get out of participating in NaNoWriMo, though, was a sense of accomplishment and a respect for the hard work it takes to complete a novel. I said I was going to write 50,000 words and I did. I met a wonderful community of people who were all struggling with the same journey of discovering what their stories were about. I also realized what it would take to stick to a novel-length story: lots of hours in the chair, no editing, staying immersed in the story, keeping to word counts and deadlines, being okay with writing a terrible first draft and not giving up. No wonder Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Although my story was a wreck, there are several best-selling novels that came out of participation in NaNoWriMo. Perhaps yours will be a best-seller some day, too.

Leave me a comment about your participation in NaNoWriMo and let me know if you’ve published your work. Please include a link to the work so we can check it out.

8 Best Selling Novels Written During NaNoWriMo

The Lunar Chronicles

Some novelists struggle to write ONE first draft during WriMo.

YA fiction writer Marissa Meyer wrote THREE: Cinder, Scarlet and Cress.

These futuristic re-tellings of famous fairy tales with a sci-fi twist were all written during a 2008 NaNoWriMo. As a self-professed geek and chronic over-achiever, Meyer says she participated in WriMo that year because she was trying to win a contest where the Seattle based writer with the most words written during the month would get to play a walk-on role on a future episode of Star Trek. She came in third with a word count of 150,011 and didn’t get the role, but she ended up with 70,000 words for Cinder, 50,000 words for Scarlet and about 30,000 words for Cress. 

Before she published the novels, all three had to be completely scrapped and re-written. Meyer said, “I may not produce anything of quality during NaNoWriMo, but I always come away with a great roadmap.” It was two years to the day she started Cinder during WriMo that she got her first offer from a publisher.

Meyer says she’s a neurotic plotter who spends weeks, months even, on brainstorming, plotting, re-arranging notecards and making character arc charts. She also uses the Scrivener color-coding feature to help keep track of what’s going on in her stories. Her revision process is extensive. For these best sellers she did two entire rewrites, six or seven rounds of revisions, had eight beta readers, and did countless polishing and editing after WriMo was over. All that hard work paid off for Meyer and her Lunar Chronicles series is a huge success.

Darwin Elevator

Jason Hough (pronounced “Huff”) is still in denial about his success with his WriMo novel, Darwin Elevator. He did a WriMo in 2007 and said his story, Tact or Fiction, basically fell apart after the first chapter because he tried to pants it and just jumped into it with no planning. He did finish with 50,280 words, however. Although the story was a bust, he had a sense of accomplishment and a new found respect for the hard work it takes to write a novel.

In 2008 he tried again, but this time he had a highly detailed outline, lots of character sketches and maps, and an idea of what he was getting himself into. He completed the first 50,000 words of Darwin Elevator, then after stepping back for awhile and doing a first revision pass himself, he hired a freelance editor.

He recommends using writing software like Scrivener to get the job done because it makes the revision process so much easier. He also advises everyone to do their research when they are querying an agent. He says, “At least 75% of queries are discarded almost immediately by agents for simple mistakes. Lesson: It doesn’t take much to increase your chances significantly.”

For more inspiration from Hough check out his post: Doing NaNoWriMo: some tips for success.


Hugh Howey has been a supporter and participant in WriMo for several years. His breakout dystopian sci-fi novella series, Wool, thrust self-publishing into the national media spotlight. After selling tens of thousands of books directly to readers, he was picked up for a six-figure deal by a major publisher. Howey wrote three of the five novellas of the Wool series in 2011 and published one of them.

Check out Howey’s post NaNoWriMo is Almost Here for some great inspiration and what to look for if this your first time participating.


Rainbow Rowell says she did “some of the bravest writing” she’s ever done during her 2011 WriMo stint. She was already an accomplished author with two published books, Attachments and Eleanor and Parkand thought that WriMo was something amateur writers did.

She was reluctant to participate because it seemed like something writers who needed to trick themselves into writing did to just pile up words. But then she thought it might be wonderful to have a nice big pile of 50,000 words to play around with.

Her pile of words written in 2011 wasn’t a mess at all and became the first 50,000 words of a best-selling novel called Fangirl

Rowell credits WriMo with changing how she wrote. Usually she would start writing by rewriting what she had written in the last session, but for WriMo she had given herself three goals: to write every day, to write at least 2,000 words a day, and to keep moving forward.

She was surprised to find that she could easily pick up where she left off and felt like the momentum she generated by staying in the world of the story contributed to its success. She didn’t finish the novel during WriMo, but after a heavy rewrite that Spring to finish the story, she was shocked to realize she kept almost all the words she created during WriMo.

Rowell said, “NaNoWriMo helped me push past so many of my doubts and insecurities and bad habits. And I think that’s partly why I love Fangirl so much now—because I remember how swept away I felt when I was writing it.”

The Night Circus

Although Erin Morgenstern‘s novel, The Night Circus, has had rapturous reviews, strong sales and the movie rights bought by the producers of the Harry Potter films, it started out as a much different story during NaNoWriMo.

Morgenstern said, “I was working on a different story altogether, one that was becoming progressively more and more boring because nothing was happening. I needed something exciting to happen and I couldn’t figure out how to do it with the locations I had so I sent the characters to the circus. That circus was immediately much more interesting and eventually I abandoned that other story and its characters entirely and focused on the circus instead. What eventually became The Night Circus started from exploring that spontaneously-created location, figuring out who created it and who performed in it and what its story was.”

She calls herself a binge writer and prefers to write in long sessions rather than every day. She attributes this to getting her start as a serious writer by participating in NaNoWriMo.

Water for Elephants

The transplanted Canadian, Sara Gruen, (now a U.S. citizen as well) moved to the U.S. for a job as a technical writer in 1999. When she got laid off in 2001, she decided to gamble on writing fiction instead of looking for another job. Her novel, Water for Elephants, started as a WriMo novel and has been on best-seller lists for over a year, read and discussed by book clubs around the country and turned into a film starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattison. (60% on RottenTomatoes.com)

In her pep talk for NaNoWriMo participants Gruen says was having trouble with her own word counts when she realized she wasn’t heeding her own advice. She was ignoring her own rules: no editing, it’s okay to write a really bad first draft, and move around the story as much as you want. When she realized this for herself, she tossed all that aside and started focusing on writing the fun parts of the story that she wanted to write.

As her last bit of advice, Gruen said, “However far behind you are, take comfort in knowing that there is somebody else out there in the same boat, and look for that next fun scene. And then the next. And if that doesn’t work, set someone on fire. In your book, of course.”


I found a lot of inspiration in reading about these authors and their varied paths to publishing success that began by participating in NaNoWriMo. I wish all of you much success with your writing journey this coming month and hope to hear from you how it’s going. If you haven’t yet done a WriMo, I urge you to take the plunge.

Remember, Stories are the Wildest Things, and they can take you places you’ve never been before, especially if you’re the ones writing them. See you in the Winner’s Circle.

(Sources: Nanowrimo.org, BarnesandNoble.com/blog, Author websites)

5 Things I Learned about Writing from Fishing with my Brother-in-law

Hemingway with trout. Flickr photo by Don the Upnorth Memories Guy

Hemingway with trout. Flickr photo by Don the Upnorth Memories Guy

Ernest Hemingway was known as an avid fisherman. There’s a fishing contest still running in Cuba that’s named after him. It’s been running since 1950 and he won the first three years it was held. He once caught seven marlins in one day. He’s the only person to ever pull a giant tuna into a boat in one piece. Apparently, the only way he could do that was by shooting at the sharks that tried to eat his catch with a sub-machine gun.

In 1935 he won every fishing contest in the Key West-Havana-Bimini triangle. After living on his boat, Pilar, for a while, he eventually moved into Room 1 at the Compleat Angler Hotel in Bimini in the Bahamas.

If you Google Hemingway and fishing, 2.57 million results show up.

I went fishing in Buzzard’s Bay recently with my brother-in-law. It wasn’t your typical “movie-version” fishing trip where we got up at the crack of dawn to hurry out on to the boat and be alone in the outdoors to learn more about ourselves. We left casually around 10:15-or-so a.m. when the tide was on its way out. We invited a neighbor to come with us by yelling through his window as we were passing by. He paused, thought about it for 2 seconds, then said, “Yeah, sure.” He threw on a shirt and sandals and came running out to join us.

We jumped in the whaler and headed out to the spot where they had caught several large striped bass over the past few days. Instead of being humid and overcast like the past few days had been, we had clear skies and a cool breeze. It felt good to be in a boat on calm water, to smell the salt air, to feel the wind in your face. My thoughts turned to Hemingway. While the guys scanned the radar looking for schools of stripers, my imagination took me to the Keys and the Bahamas with Papa Hemingway, rod in hand, reeling in the big ones.

We threw in our line, an eel rig with spongy white rubber eels on an umbrella set-up of massive hooks, and let it out to about 30 feet. We trolled back and forth to the number 26 channel marker, trying to avoid the lobster pots that were just below the surface. The first few passes we mostly caught seaweed and had to clear the lines before the next pass. Occasionally we’d notice that a hook had or one of the fake eels was twisted on the line, a sure sign that we’d had a hit but didn’t know it.

On the third or fourth pass there was a loud click and high-pitched whirr as the fish took the bait and started to run. My brother-in-law handed me the rod and I pulled, feeling the weight of the fish pulling against my arms. I could barely move the reel and I sat back, adjusting the rod for more leverage.

“Keep the rod tip up.”

“Don’t sway from side to side.”

“Keep reeling or he’ll get away.”

The guys coached me and I reeled with as much strength as I could. It was tiring and the fish felt like it was fighting hard to avoid being pulled in. My arms started to feel weak and numb, but I kept reeling, reeling, hoping to see the fish as it got closer to the boat. The way the rod was pulling down, we all thought we had a monster of a fish on our hands. As I got near the end of the line, the guys stood up to get a better look.

“There he is, bring him around to port.”

I moved the rod around to my right, since I was facing backward, and my brother-in-law gaffed the fish and dragged it into the boat. It was a good-sized fish, a keeper, but not the monster we all thought we had. The silver scales and white belly flashed in the sun and a small pool of blood drained onto the deck. I put a foot gently on the fish’s tail to keep it from flopping around on the boat.

“That’s why it was so hard to reel in.”

We all looked at our catch and saw that the fish had gotten hooked in the back, not the mouth. What made it so hard to reel in was that I was pulling the fish through the water sideways.

Our neighbor put the fish in the live well and we went back for about fifteen or sixteen more passes, but we had no more luck that morning. Time after time we trolled the passage from rocks to channel marker but the fish weren’t biting. It was time to go home.

We came in to shore and cleaned the gear and the boat. I posed for a photo with the fish on the dock and we cleaned it right there. I was grateful for the camaraderie, the challenge the fish brought and for the meal we had later that day. As I walked back to the cottage, freshly caught fish in hand, I thought about how what I had just experienced was a lot like writing.

What was the first thing we did when we saw someone who had not been fishing with us?

We told them the STORY of what happened.

Here are 5 Things I Learned about Writing from Fishing with my Brother-in-law:

  1. Thinking about and doing are NOT the same thing.
  2. Sometimes you have to make a lot of passes to get something worthwhile.
  3. Making a choice about where to start is important.
  4. You probably won’t be good at something the first time you do it.
  5. What you think you’re going to get is not always what you get.

Thinking about and doing are NOT the same thing.

I’ve often thought about fishing on Buzzard’s Bay. I imagined how I’d toss in a line and wait patiently for a fish to jump on the line. I thought we might have to go into deep water to get the big fish and I worried that I might get seasick on the open ocean. But when we actually went fishing we were in fairly shallow water, very close to shore. The fish were right there and we trolled, pulling a single line with a lot of hooks and it was slow, tedious work.

This is what I’ve found writing to be like, too. I have two different ways of thinking about writing. In one fantasy, everything is going smoothly and I write the next great novel in 30 days. It flows from my fingers fully formed with no rewriting or editing necessary. The other fantasy is that I sit down to write and NOTHING happens. No words come. I’m mute and have to give up writing forever. The reality is that like fishing, the thinking about and the doing are very different things. It is rare that the writing just flows, fully-formed, with no need for rewriting. It is unrealistic to think that is even possible.

On the other hand, I’ve never sat down to write and had nothing to say. I’ve resisted the sitting down many, many times. But when I do sit and write, something comes. The lesson learned, “Fishing and writing are achieved by DOING the fishing and writing, not by sitting around thinking about doing them.” If you’re stuck, get in the boat and throw in your line. You might be surprised what comes out of the water.

Sometimes you have to make a lot of passes to get something worthwhile.

As I said, we must’ve made twenty trips back and forth along that channel to catch one fish. That means there were 19 times when we failed at catching a fish. I think this is a good lesson for many things we do in life. For writing, it reminded me that a lot of writing is rewriting and that I might have to make a lot of attempts at telling a story powerfully before I find that way that works. Those twenty passes weren’t failures, they were the journey leading up to the one fish. That fish was delicious and the journey to land it made for a great story. When you’re working on your third or fourth or twentieth draft, you’re just fishing for the best story. Make sure it’s a doozy.

Making a choice about where to start is important.

Buzzard’s Bay opens out into the Atlantic Ocean. There were a LOT of places we could’ve started fishing. We could’ve spent all day searching for the best place or another place, but we started where we started because they had luck there before. They went to the same place and started there and then stopped there. We didn’t waste a lot of time trying lots of different places to see which place might work better. I think this is an important lesson for writers because too often, I decide that the way I’m doing things isn’t working. I think, “Maybe I need new software to write. What’s the latest? What if I went to a coffee shop instead of the library? I started this novel but now I’m going to switch to a short story. What if this short story idea is stupid and I never finish it?” 

If I don’t plan where I’m going to start my writing day, I find that it’s half over before I get going because I spend so much time getting ready to write instead of doing the actual writing. If you find yourself doing the same thing, pick a place to start and stick to it. You’ll get a lot more done and can always a make a change after you’ve gotten your words in for the day.

You probably won’t be good at something the first time you do it.

I’ve done a lot of river fishing, but never fished for big fish like stripers. I thought I knew what I was doing, but the guys coached me about how everything worked for fishing in the bay. I wasn’t very good at fishing for stripers. I held the rod wrong, stopped reeling when I shouldn’t have, moved the rod too much and I’m sure a lot of other things. The important thing was that I didn’t let that get in the way of catching a fish. If you’re a new writer, or coming back to it after a long time of not doing, you’re probably not going to be very good at it. (There are always exceptions to this, but for most of us mortals, that’s the way it is.) That’s okay. The first time you do something, you’re not expected to be good at it. You might not be good at it the 100th time you do it.

If you believe what Malcolm Gladwell has to say about getting good at something, you have to put in 10,000 hours to become proficient at anything. If I had thrown the rod and reel in the water after being terrible, my brother-in-law would’ve thrown me overboard to get it first of all, but I also never would’ve caught that fish. Every time I start a new project I try to remind myself that this is something new I’m doing. I’m racking up hours until I hit my 10,000. If I give up out of frustration of not being good at it right away, I’ll never accomplish what I set out to do.

What you think you’re going to get is not always what you get.

We thought we had a monster fish, but it was just average. In our minds, this was the big one. It was hard to reel in and the rod was bending and bowing as I brought the fish closer to the boat. It was still a keeper, but it wasn’t the monster we were hoping for. I’m an outliner. I like to work out beats before I start writing. I put together story boards for small videos I make with my kids on YouTube. A lot of the time I think the story is going to go one way and by the end of working on the story and re-writing draft after draft, the story has completely changed. When I resist this process, I’m get much more frustrated and find myself giving up on the writing I’m working on. When I realize that my writing is a journey, like our impromptu fishing trip, I’ve had much more success and enjoy the process so much more.


Paul and Striped Bass

Enjoy your writing journey by actually taking it. Decide where to start and stick to it. Take as many passes as you need to get the story you are looking for. Don’t worry if you’re not good at writing at first, we all take time to get warmed up and get better. Don’t be discouraged if the story has turned out a lot differently than you thought it would, you’ll surprise yourself and us.

Stories are the Wildest Things.

Madeleine L’Engle – Writing Quote Wednesday


Writing Quote created by Paul Jenny using Flickr photo by Scott Cresswell

Madeleine L’Engle was one of those authors that made me want to be a writer as a kid. Reading A Wrinkle in TIme opened up a whole new world to me and I devoured it eagerly one summer when daily rain kept us from playing outside.

When I see a copy now in a bookstore I get the warm fuzzies recalling the rainy summer days I spent reading this book. She and her husband, Hugh Franklin, were actors like me and I’ve always aspired to live as rich and full a life in creative work as they did.

I chose this quote this week because it reminded me of what Samuel Butler talks about in his essay How to Make the Best of Life. In the first episode of the Stories are the Wildest Things Podcast, you can hear this essay about how our lives as writers might be more engaging and “real” when we live on in our writing. It’s a fascinating read from the Victorian era by an iconoclastic satirist. I hope you’ll click through and take a listen.

I’m also seeking submissions of short stories in any genre and short essays about writing for the next episode. I talk about all the details on the Stories are the Wildest Things Podcast. Please submit your stories and essays by email to pauljennynyc@gmail.com and put Podcast Story and your story’s title in the subject heading.

I’ve received some great stories already and I’m looking forward to reading all of them.

Have a great writing week!


Listen to Madeleine L’Engle talk about writing, A Wrinkle in Time and her process on YouTube.com.

You can visit Scot Cresswell’s Flickr photo here. (CC license)

Stories are the Wildest Things Podcast – Now Seeking Story Submissions!


Samuel Butler – self-portrait in oil

As readers of the Stories are the Wildest Things blog, you know that one of the reasons I started this blog is to help you tell your stories in the most powerful, creative and wide-reaching way that you can.

To that end, I’m starting the Stories are the Wildest Things Podcast, hosted on Soundcloud.com, featuring fiction and non-fiction stories from around the world.

I have a lot of readers from many parts of the world and I want to share as many of your stories as I can. I’ll also discuss writing tips and techniques, do interviews with writers and other creative people, and fill you in on news about what’s happening in the world of writing including: contests, book releases, cool apps, classes and more!

For the next episode I’m looking for short stories in any genre or short essays about writing.

Submission Guidelines

Please submit your best writing up to 5000 words (double-spaced with author name, story title and page numbers in header) to pauljennynyc@gmail.com

Use the subject heading Podcast Story and your title in your email. (e.g. Podcast Story – The Little Engine That Could)

Please submit only one story or essay at a time (in English only for now) and give me some time to respond.

If I choose your story, I’ll read it on the podcast and offer links to your website or blog and any other info that you’d like to include. If you’d like to be interviewed about a book or project you are working on, we can discuss that as well. Right now, there’s no reading fee and no pay (that could change with sponsors and number of submissions), but the podcast will be professional and something you can be proud of sharing with others. Click HERE to listen to the first episode featuring an essay by Samuel Butler entitled How to Make the Most of Life.

Thank you! I’m really looking forward to reading your submissions. 


Stories are the Wildest Things Podcast – Ep. 001

Make YOUR Writing Stronger with #PitchWars

Guest Blogger and Pitch Wars participant Emily G. Moore

Hi, Paul, and thanks for having me on your blog!

Writing started as my therapy outlet, but passion took over. Before last summer finished, I had cranked out a rough draft for my first novel, a middle grade fantasy. After a few rounds in critique groups and my husband’s general seal of approval, I threw a wide net of query letters out into the literary world. Rejection after impersonal rejection swamped my inbox.

When I heard about Brenda Drake’s giant writing contest and the chance it gave for some one-on-one mentor/mentee novel critique with a professional writer or editor, I quickly rewrote my novel and submitted it. (For more info on #PitchWars,  go to Brenda Drake’s blog here.) In my head, this seemed like the best way to get my novel in tip-top shape and resubmit it to agents.

For two weeks, I joined the herd of hopefuls stampeding twitter with feeds and re-checking inboxes for page requests. By the time I scrolled through the finalists list and realized I wasn’t on it, I’d learned so much that I already expected to be excluded. I’d made dozens of friends, a few new critique partners, and connected virtually with many of the mentors. I’d clicked links to read blog posts about character, plot, pacing, and how to write query letters and pitches that sell. I began to understand the market and what agents, and ultimately publishers, were looking for.

That first manuscript never went far. (From what I’d heard at that first Pitchwars, setting aside the first novel is totally normal.) I placed it sadly on a hypothetical shelf, and I still ponder what it could be. Maybe someday, I’ll tear it apart and make it something worth an agent’s time. I sidelined it just before National Novel Writing Month 2014, and my in-laws had spent three and a half weeks of hunting season in mountainous Idaho regaling me with tales of my husband’s scarce upbringing.

On the few occasions my phone’s hotspot worked, I caught an interview with an agent on my submit list, and he said he wanted a retelling of something unique, something middle grade that would appeal to boys. ROWDY DAYS OF DOM SANDERS, the novel I am entering in this year’s Pitchwars competition, helped me finish my first ever NANO based on his suggestions.

The morphing of that first fifty-five-thousand-word NANO project into the novel DOM is full of tears, frustrations, flash card plot shuffling, and thousands of emails with my amazing critique partner Libby Webber (if you don’t know her, send her a nod and wave on twitter @libbywebber and tell her Emily sent you!) I got DOM into a middle grade word count range with just the right amount of voice and hook.

It took two months of rapid reading to find a comparison title other than its classic re-telling twin THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER. Another set of query rewrites with Dannie Morin on her blog-based Bait and pitch workshops on Thursdays all summer got it contest ready. All the while, I felt a surge of energy and excitement for August. Pitch Wars was coming back around!

This year’s Pitch Wars seemed to have amplified from last year’s experiences in so many ways. I’ve met twice as many diverse and amazing people. Just in the weeks leading up to submission day (August 18), I’ve deepened friendships and really got to know the mentors who volunteer their time and expertise to Brenda Drake’s cause.

And even as important, I’ve continued to click every link offered by those who’ve been where I sit. (Not literally, after all, my office doubles as a vehicle parts storage shed, and I think only I could find comfort in that.) But their suggestions have pushed me beyond my limits and abilities, making all my writing, both novels and freelance work, better.

I’ve learned the value of beta-readers, found out what filter words are (and deleted nearly 500!), and learned how to use action as a dialog tag and not the word “said”. I’ve learned how to shorten a query, removing fluff and dividing up comma-filled sentences. I’ve learned how to write a synopsis with just the right amount of detail and how to be professional in the literary world. These are the things any writer willing to participate in contests can receive if they fling themselves in the fray and absorb everything like a crusty, dry sponge.

Entering Pitch Wars is easy. All you need is a manuscript you think is perfect and a strong work ethic. But what you gain from it is entirely up to you. Taking part in the community this contest blossoms will benefit you as much as selling that novel. If a mentor picks you, be prepared to work hard to make that story ready for the world. And if no mentor does, then gather all that Pitchwars offered you and put it to good use on your current work in progress. There are no losers in Pitch Wars, only those who walk away having wasted a magnificent opportunity to make their writing even stronger.

About E.G. Moore

Emily G. Moore is a poet, freelance writer, and storyteller (the first of which her mom still has recorded on a cassette tape.) She’s been an active member of Kitsap County Writer’s Group, For Pete’s Sake Writers Group, and an email writer’s response group for about three years. When she’s not telling “Mommy Made stories” to her two daughters or nagging her husband to edit her latest manuscript, she can be found researching healthy recipes, attending bible study, or on a long, plot-refreshing jog. You can find her on twitter (@egmoorewriter), Facebook (facebook.com/emilygmoorewriter), and her blog E.G. Moore Freelancing and Fiction


Thank you, Emily, for a GREAT first guest post on Stories are the Wildest Things! I hope our readers get as much out of it as I did. Readers, please leave a comment about your experience and success and/or failure with Pitch Wars and make sure you drop by Emily’s blog and say hi to her on Twitter. 

Have a great writing day!



Writing Prompt 05: World’s 10 Most Mysterious Photographs

For this prompt choose one of the 10 photographs from this fascinating video by Hybrid Librarian and write a story that relates to the actual photograph or the circumstances surrounding or suggested by the photograph. I’m particularly drawn to the photograph of STS088-724-66, the Black Knight satellite.

An alternative would be to write a story about an album of mysterious photographs that someone finds or is given.

  • Why are the photographs in the album?
  • What do they depict?
  • What does the protagonist need to do to solve the mystery of the photographs?

When you write a story using this prompt, please send me a link. If you have any other ideas based on this prompt, leave a comment. Thanks for sharing!

Stories are the Wildest Things.

Writing Prompt 03: Retro Car of the Future

Flickr photo by Marlo Klingemann

Flickr photo by Marlo Klingemann

I love old photos of what people thought the future would be like.

You could use this photo to write a story about the characters as they are: a mom and child who live in the fifties but have a “futuristic” lifestyle, or you could write about a future where everything is very retro.

Please share a link to your story in the comments and follow Stories are the Wildest Things for more great writing prompts, tips and techniques to inspire your writing.

John Steinbeck – Writing Quote Wednesday



Created by Paul Jenny with a Flickr photo by Cliff Hutson


I’m in the thick of slogging away at my MG paranormal adventure novel’s first draft l and I often find myself meeting with a lot of resistance when I try to start.

I like Steinbeck’s quote about abandoning the idea of finishing because it gives me the sense that I’m engaging in an ongoing process and the work to be done is  just the work that needs to be done for that day. If I can get through my word count for just that day, I am always surprised by the end of the week at how much I’ve actually accomplished.

If you sign up for the Stories are the Wildest Things Insider newsletter, I’ll send you a free book of all the Writing Quote Wednesday images I’ve created for the blog when it’s completed.


Watch John Steinbeck “roaring like a lion” during his Nobel Prize speech on YouTube.com

Annie Dillard – Writing Quote Wednesday


Created by Paul Jenny using a Flickr photo by Julie Jordan Scott

Annie’s writing keeps me thinking deeply about the writing process and I keep a copy of “The Writing Life” on my desk to refer to often. If you don’t have a copy, pick up one HERE.


Watch this inspirational writing video by WritingAlchemy.com about Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life and her idea to “follow the line of words“.