Saturday, September 22, 2007

Chris Baty says

from my email:-
Dear NaNoWriMo author,

You know what time it is? Time for a novel-length email about things afoot at NaNoWriMo!


We'll be opening sign-ups for another noveling season late at night on October 1. Between now and then, all of the content on the current site will be archived, and the forums will be wiped clean for the 2007 event. All active NaNo accounts from last November will stay active, and Script Frenzy log-ins will work as well.

We'll be turning off sign-ins this Monday so we can have a week of thing-resetting and something-migration that Russ swears is very important we do without anyone hanging around the site watching us. We will miss you that week, but we'll be reunited in October, and we can share stories of our time apart then.

At the end of the last NaNo, I invited everyone to join me in publicly posting a couple big, fun, scary goals for the new year. Then we went after those goals like otters on lutefisk, and kept a progress log of it all in the NaNo forums.

You can see what kinds of amazingly scary goals people set for themselves (and pulled off!) here:

Officially the YoBFSA comes to a close when NaNoWriMo 2007 begins. If you are a YoBFSA participant who has achieved one of your goals by then, please let us know by sending an email to with the subject line: BFS Winner. We'll email you a certificate in October to commemorate your achievement.

My big, fun, scary adventure? I set out to learn basic Spanish and work on my radio production skills. Did I earn the certificate? You better believe it---I'm even a proud graduate of Piedmont Adult School's Spanish 1A class. My radio production skills: still ailing. But it's a start!


We're going to be implementing a bunch of new things this year to help get the site ready for a freakishly superpowered future. These include an entirely new back-end system, a new server, and new Author Profile pages (more on this below). Some or all of these things will break spectacularly and immediately upon launch. We will hurry to fix them. They will break in different ways. We will fix them again. This will last most of October.


So you know those beautiful gray book-like author profile pages with the turning pages we've had on the site for the past three years? We're saying goodbye to them this week.

I know, I know. The design was so beautiful and sleek it made us weep. But as nice as it looked, it caused us a lot of problems, financial and otherwise. The system was built by a genius designer/programmer who created it in such a complicated way that most professional Flash programmers wouldn't touch it. Which meant every time something broke or needed an update, we had to hire a Flash Yoda who charged us Jedi-level hourly rates. Last year, adding a "Winner 2006" image to the winners' photos, changing a few text labels, and adding a European character set cost us $2000.

That made us weep too, but for different reasons. The other problem was that the tidy, magical books are very hard to slip new features into without a major overhaul. Which is bad because we receive dozens of great Author Profile page feature suggestions from participants every year, and we also have tons of our own ideas for new things we want to integrate into the pages.

We'd like comment-able novel excerpts, customizable participant blogs with room for audio and video, in-dash Twittering, an "encouragement capsule" where friends and family can upload morale-boosting messages to be released to writers when they hit certain word-count goals, and a billion more things.

As a first step towards a future where we can easily add new modules to the AP pages, we'll be launching a much more expandable system on October 1. It's clean and pretty, and over the course of the next year---knock on fundraising wood---we'll be able to add the exciting new features and powers you've been requesting. Once in place, those cool new functions will make the current Author Profile pages look gray and lifeless by comparison.

In case you missed the announcement in the last newsletter, we're going to have some extraordinary help writing the pep talks we email out to participants in November. In the last email, I revealed that NaNo 2007 authors would be receiving a pep talk from none other than novelist Sue Grafton.

Now I'm here to unveil the identities of three more of this year's NaNoWriMo pep talkers. They are...drum roll please...the ferocious Garth Nix! The fantastic Naomi Novik! And the awesome Neil Gaiman!

Yep. These writers have all answered the no-pressure-at-all call to inspire 100,000 authors in various states of noveling exaltation and despair with their kind words. We actually have eight pep talkers signed on for this year, but Tavia has asked me to wait until the site relaunches to share the identities of the other four. Which I've agreed to do. But one of them is Tom Robbins.


See? This is why I shouldn't be in charge of these things.


Did you know we run two events in November? There's NaNoWriMo, which you're already familiar with. And then there's the completely separate Young Writers Program, over at Where kids 12-and-under and K-12 classrooms taking part as a group enjoy their own private creative mayhem. Authors in the YWP get to pick their own word counts, and they receive extensive curriculum, activities, games, YWP participant and winner certificates, private forums, and a VIP lounge for teachers. We also mail a free poster, progress chart, button pack, and sticker bundle to the classrooms to help incite noveling in the students.

The whole thing has gone a little bonkers in the last couple years, growth-wise. Last year, we had 15,000 kids and teens take part. That number will likely double this year.

That’s the very good news. The bad news is that we don't have enough money to host NaNoWriMo and the Young Writers Program and continue our Libraries in Southeast Asia project.

Donating 50% of our net proceeds from donations and merchandise sales so Room to Read can build libraries on our behalf has given thousands of kids in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam the chance to fall in love with reading. But now we want to take the next step, and help kids around the world fall in love with writing. And to do that, we need to start putting 100% of our resources into our own programs.

Happily, Room to Read is doing great. They were a tiny start-up when we first met them, but they've since mushroomed into a global philanthropic powerhouse, raising over $1,000,000 per month in donations. Go Room to Read!

Since becoming a nonprofit ourselves last year, we've struggled to find the funds we need to keep the doors open and servers humming year-round for NaNoWriMo, Script Frenzy, Young Writers Programs. With every dollar as precious as it is, we want to focus the donations we receive on what we do best: Hosting life-changing writing adventures for kids and adults.

We hope you'll join us in that goal by making a donation to NaNoWriMo when the site opens in October. We also hope that those who loved our Libraries in Southeast Asia project will continue to support Room to Read directly through their website,


So true. So true.

See you on the site in October!


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