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Pen your own story in November

It's time to get creative. The organizers of National Novel Writing Month, a nonprofit established in 1999, believe everyone has a story to tell. They've designated November as the time to do it. And they have online and local networks in place to help unleash those novels.

Those who sign up are making a commitment to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. But they aren't alone. To date, more than 192,000 novelists around the world have answered the call to write.

Last year, 341,375 participants started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, middle school English teachers, day care workers and more. They walked away novelists. One of them was Elisabeth "Liz" Granholm. The Duluth woman has written three novels over the past three years by writing 50,000-word novels each November. This year, she's stepped up to helm Duluth-area events as a municipal liaison

"I believe it gives the local aspiring writers a chance to take the time and write that novel that people keep saying they're going to do but never have the time or chance to do it," she wrote in an email. "They can get together with others and encourage one another and know they aren't alone." Granholm said the thing she loves most about the month-long writing crusade is "the fact that the different individuals that gather have such a broad history and background all come together to help each other write these novels and are there for each other."

The Duluth group held their first in-person event Sunday at the Olive Garden, giving participants a chance to meet as they start honing their plotlines and developing characters. More events will be held over the course of the month.

There is no cost to sign up for National Novel Writing Month. Participants can choose one or more regions to link with to find events. Douglas County residents, for example, could join both the Duluth and Northern Wisconsin regions. They can access various forums and online threads dealing with everything from historical accuracy to what color blood a copper-based life form would have. Participants will also get pep talks from established authors. This year's coaches include James Patterson, Lev Grossman, Rainbow Rowell, Marie Lu and Jeff VanderMeer. And people can connect with online buddies to tackle writer's block or chase plot "bunnies."

The group's website, nanowrimo.org, provides information on the event and incentive for participants. Since 2006, more than 100 books written during National Novel Writing Month events have been traditionally published, including Sara Gruen's "Water for Elephants," Erin Morgenstern's "The Night Circus" and Hugh Howey's "Wool." More information on the event is available online. People can sign up throughout the month, according to organizers. But the story deadline is 11:59 p.m. Nov. 30.

Hannah Rubin, editorial associate with National Novel Writing Month, had a piece of advice to all prospective novelists.

"Do it," she said. "It is an amazing seat-of-your-pants adventure that will transform your November like nothing ever before."

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