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Long Islanders join National Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month. (Nov. 6,

November is National Novel Writing Month. (Nov. 6, 2011) Credit: Steve Pfost

Allison Lambert of Selden works on hers in her car during lunch breaks. Andrea Stolz of Patchogue thinks she'd have an easier time writing hers on a typewriter, eliminating the distraction of email. Kate Regina of West Babylon makes strides on hers in local Panera Bread cafes.

These wannabe authors are among 400 Long Islanders who have taken a pledge to write an entire book during the month of November. They've joined in National Novel Writing Month, a campaign that encourages people to stop putting off the dream and churn out 50,000 words. That's 1,667 words a day.

For many would-be writers, the hardest part of writing the book is staying in the chair. Having a deadline helps them overcome that, participants say.

"You fall behind one day, and it gets really hard to catch up," says Matt Silvestri, 27, of Garden City. "I usually find myself procrastinating as long as the sun is up. Once it goes down, I think, 'Oh, I should probably be writing something.' " Then, he works until he's too tired to type anymore. He's attempting a book titled "Waterbury," about a man who hunts demons.

HOW IT STARTED

NaNoWriMo -- pronounced nah-no-RYE-moh -- began in November 1999 with 21 participants; this year, 250,000 people are challenging themselves. Writers sign up for free at nanowrimo.org, where they can chart their word count progress daily, get pep talks and hook up with other participants in their region.

The Long Island NaNoWriMo writers, brought together through the website, held a kickoff party at Chili's in Farmingdale at the beginning of the month and have been holding "write-ins" twice a week at Panera Bread restaurants in West Babylon and Farmingdale. Meetings have been drawing a handful of writers, some placing a rubber duck next to them on the table as a signal to NaNoWriMo participants that they are compatriots.

The novel genres vary widely: Lambert, 25 and a social media specialist, is embracing her love of Japanese culture. Regina, 27 and a page at West Babylon Public Library, is writing a murder mystery that features a librarian who finds clues in the works of literary sleuths such as Sherlock Homes and Nancy Drew.

HOW IT'S GOING

By Friday, Regina was up to 27,183 words. "The bodies have been found, the detectives have reached the scene," she says.

Stolz, 44, and her son Ben, 15, a sophomore at Patchogue-Medford High School, are both writing horror books featuring zombies. At the end of last week, Mom was up to 10,200 words, nearly catching up to Ben, who was at 10,987. The elder Stolz tried to complete NaNoWriMo last November by writing a parenting book. "I thought, 'This will be so easy, because I'm a mom.' " It wasn't, and she gave up halfway through. She and Ben would both have to speed it up to reach 50,000 by Nov. 30.

Although there's no shame in falling short.

Even if participants don't reach the goal by deadline, that's OK, says Sarah Mackey of the Office of Letters and Lights, the California-based nonprofit that runs NaNoWriMo and other literary events. "You still made that time for your writing and gave yourself permission to make it a priority," she says.

Patricia Moore, 29, of West Babylon, a first-time NaNoWriMo participant, is writing as she waits for the birth of her first child in December. She's penning a story about a 15-year-old girl who works in the circus. The book's title is "The Circus of the Macabre." "It frees you up from poring over every sentence and trying to make sure it's perfect," she says of the NaNoWriMo November marathon. "That's what December is for."

WHAT THEY'RE WRITING

A sampling of Long Islanders who are participating in National Novel Writing Month:

Christopher Beattie (50, Wading River)

WORKING TITLE "Future Fear"

FIRST LINE "Wakey wake," the crisp metallic voice cried from the darkness in a methodical monotone voice. "Please take your wakey wake medicine now!"

Kate Regina (27, West Babylon)

WORKING TITLE "Murder on a High Note"

FIRST LINE One never seems to think that the highest point in an event could also be the lowest.

Ben Stolz (15, Patchogue)

WORKING TITLE  "Devolution"

FIRST LINE  "Nathan! Nathan wake up!" I awake from my nightmares to stare into the green eyes of an angel -- and not just any angel, the eyes of Persephone Brown.

Andrea Stolz (44, Patchogue)

WORKING TITLE  "The Gaunt"

FIRST LINE She pushed the e-chure onto the pile of holographic junk mail next to the computer, considered swiping it through the eye beam incinerator, then stopped herself.

Beth Ann Masarik (27, Port Washington)

WORKING TITLE  "Servant 'Tude: Heiress"

FIRST LINE The door to my bedroom swung open, as the sounds of my parents' screams pierced throughout the house. I lay curled up in the corner as the predator approached me.

Are you working on a novel as part of NaNoWriMo? Add your photo and details of your progress to our online gallery.

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