Tag Archives: On Writing

New from the HWP Poster Collection

Now available from HWP:

“If you have a pencil and a sheet of paper, you have everything you need.”

This poster is printed on 80# cover stock 12″ x 18″.

Shop here!


Wordless Wednesday


Photography by Savannah Renée ©2008.

V for Victory



Shenandoah Valley Daily Inspiration from your MLs: DAY 30!!!!


NaNoWriMo 2012! A thirty day VENTURE full of uncertainties, dangers, pitfalls, and risks. A mountain climbing expedition like no other. A bold battle of words, spirit, drive and VALIDATION. Today as we make the final ascent to the summit, we want to congratulate you on your ambition, your fortitude, and your awe inspiring camaraderie! Never before in the history of the Valley have writers united in such a way! We are so very proud of the courage and inspiration that you have provided your fellow writers throughout this journey.

You’ve ran the good race, fought the good fight, and claimed VICTORY over that mountain! As each of you cross over that 50K mark, we are here to cheer you on! And for those of you who find yourself mid-climb when the clock strikes midnight, know that 50K is still within reach. Never give up! Keep writing those words, and we will be here waiting at the top to celebrate your VICTORY. No soldier left behind! Huzzah!

Thank you for this making NaNoWriMo 2012 the most amazing season yet! You inspire us!

Your ever faithful MLs,
Susan & Rebekah

“If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride–and never quit—you’ll be a winner. The price of victory is high, but so are the rewards.”
-Paul “Bear” Bryant

Shenandoah Valley Writers In The News

Harrisonburg Daily News Record 

Tell Your Story
Take your novel idea from a flight of fancy fiction into reality

November 3, 2012
By Samantha Cole

Susan Utley, of Warren County, always said she’d write a novel — someday.

In 2006, she made the jump from short story writer and poet to earn the title of novelist, with the help of National Novel Writing Month, held each November since 1999.

By the end of the month, she’d penned her first novel. A year later, she founded the Shenandoah Valley region of writers as Municipal Liaison.
Operating under the quirky abbreviation “NaNoWriMo,” the worldwide project whips creative juices into a wordsmith’s frenzy. Using nanowrimo.org, writers are challenged to log at least 50,000 words in 30 days.

“If it is on your ‘one day list,’ stop thinking about it and just do it,” says Utley.

Sometimes it takes several tries for authors to meet that goal. For Kelly Giles, James Madison University librarian, the fits and starts don’t hold her back from hitting the keys again.

She’s made three attempts so far in her Jane Austen pastiche, each time logging more momentum. In addition to the hope of finishing this year, Giles will “pay forward” the encouragement she’s received back into the writing community by hosting a “write-in” session from 2-5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4 in JMU’s Rose Library, Room 3311.

Pulling It Together

No need to become a hermit; this marathon month of writing isn’t meant to be run alone, says Utley, whether in a write-in meetup or the virtual world.

“One of the truly extraordinary benefits of participating in NaNoWriMo is the knowledge that you are not in this alone,” she said. “The NaNoWriMo community of writers is one of the most supportive groups of people I have ever encountered.”

Last year, they numbered over 250,000 around the world; 36,843 of those finished with their goal of 50,000 words completed.

This November, over 600 of those writers call the Shenandoah Valley region home, with 400 more “affiliated” with the area, or keeping up with the Valley’s progress.

Utley says it’s not uncommon to find as many writers online at one time as words in a novel: thousands of fellow writers are often on at once, contributing to forums, asking and answering questions, swapping inspiration and offering encouragement along the way.

Novice Novelists

Now co-owner of her own publishing company, Utley has words of wisdom for reaching that daunting word count in a month.

“The best advice I can give to any writer is to ignore your inner editor and just write,” she said. “Your inner editor is the perfectionist in your brain that second guesses every word you write and forces you to rewrite …  until they are perfect.”

This self-editing kills creativity, she says, when the main goal, at least at first, should be simply getting the story down.

Finding their most productive time of day can also help writers beat a block. Her tactic is to meet goals in the morning, while others may find “the dark and solitary approach” more conducive to creativity.

Where does she find inspiration for nearly 2,000 words per day? Books, browsing antique store shelves, taking walks and people watching — Utley’s favorite method — can all spark ideas.

“I find that true, genuine interactions and emotions provide the best inspiration for developing believable characters,” she said.

Giles takes the task one chapter at a time. “Treat it like you’re writing a serial and have to get the next installment out on a deadline,” she said, “even if you have no idea what’s going to happen next!”

Start Writing 
Susan Utley’s top 3 tips for aspiring novelists:

1) Ignore your “inner editor” and write freely
2) Discover your optimal time of day for writing productively
3) Have friends and family hold you accountable

For more information on regional meet-ups and how to get involved, email Susan Warren Utley.
Contact Samantha Cole at scole@dnronline.com or 574-6274

Flash Friday: NaNoWriMo Update

It’s that time of year again. Today is Day 4 of another exciting season of NaNoWriMo. For those unfamiliar, National Novel Writing Month represents the one month out of the year where authors throw caution to the wind, break all the rules of writing, ignore their inner editors and just write to get the words down. The goal? 50,000 words, 30 days, 1 novel. Will it produce the next great American novel? Not necessarily, but who knows? Stranger things have happened. As an added bonus it gets all the uppity-ups and muckety-mucks of the writing and publishing world in a tizzy. But then these days so do shiny vampires, kid wizards and zombies.

For me it is an exercise in reckless literary abandon and a great way to get the creative juices flowing. Yes there are stumbling blocks, but more often than not, those blocks are followed by moments of brilliance that make me smile and push me forward. This season, my stumbling block hit me right out of the gate at 98 words when I accidentally killed off my main character. (I think she was trying to tell me something.) Fortunately, Day 2 delivered more caffeine and new inspiration. So here is my Flash Friday synopsis of the work in progress:

After killing off my main character within the first 98 words of what was to be a grim post apocolyptic piece, I changed directions and have begun writing what appears to be a young adult novel with a hint of a magical/fantasy element that has not yet been fully revealed to me. As I progress beyond the first 3000 words I am sure much will change but here is where we are now:

It began with a leaf blowing on the wind and landing on the windowsill of an unknown girl who introduced herself to me as one Miss Emilee Penderhaven the great, great granddaughter of Adolphus Penderhaven founder of the Penderhaven School for Unwanted Boys and Girls and author of Penderhaven Tales, a collection of dark bedtime stories read to very bad children. Emilee is a student of science who has both feet firmly planted on the ground, except when she is falling out windows or tripping up stairs. When a peculiar new professor arrives on campus, Emilee finds herself with a schedule change that takes her from the stainless steel, glass enclosed laboratories of the Penderhaven Science Department and lands her in the rich, dark, mysterious passageways of Penderhaven Hall, a castle like structure which houses the English Department and more than a few family secrets. Above the arched entrance of Penderhaven Hall Emilee encounters the Latin phrase, “ALIS GRAVE NIL, Nothing too heavy for those who have wings.” Where that will take her only the pen knows.

For those of you participating in NaNoWrimo this month, good luck to you!

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