Nanowrimo Spotlight: Recipe for NaNo, A Pinch of Oregano, a Dash of Chutzpah

Greetings! Today I have another spotlight interview from a fellow Storywonk, so welcome Melina Kantor! You can find Melina on Nanowrimo as MelissaDK

When did you get started with Nanowrimo, Melina?
Way back when podcasts first came out, one of my favorite authors, Lani Diane Rich, and her friend Samantha Graves (C.J. Barry) started a show called “Will Write for Wine.” At the time, I was an avid reader, but not a writer.

On October 6th, 2007 (yes, I remember the date), I was in Central Park with my dog, earbuds in place. We took a break by the duck pond, and after listening to the episode about NaNo, I rushed home and signed up. By the end of November, I had the draft of my first book. I was shocked.

This is my eighth Nano, and my third time participating in NaNo in Jerusalem.

I love bundling up in my NaNo hoodie, drinking hot apple cider at a cafe, and pounding out the words.

And a personal tradition – towards the end of NaNo, when I’m exhausted and suffering from writer’s block, I write while listening to this episode of Will Write for Wine. Of course, I’m also addicted to StoryWonk NaNo (also thanks to Lani Diane Rich).

Image - Melissa

What are you writing about this year?
This year, I’m writing a sequel to a story I wrote a few years ago. It’s a contemporary romance that takes place in a sweet shop in a tiny Cretan village by the sea. Unlike my other stories about Crete, this story takes place in the winter, so I’m weaving in Greek New Years traditions and recipes. Oh – and there are donkeys! Lots of donkeys.

My stories always involve aspects of my Greek / Israeli identity, which I refer to as “a pinch of oregano and a dash of chutzpah.” The village in this story, although fictional, is based on my family’s village.

What is your favorite book – you have to pick just one!
Hmm. Well, I’m not going to pick any books by authors I know personally. I was going to say Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner. But I think I’ll go with The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. I don’t read a whole lot of YA, but I very much identify with the character of Lena, a high school student who travels to Greece to visit her family.

What advice would you give to all your fellow Wrimos?
It’s been said before, but find a community! In New York, the write-ins I went to were huge. We’d do word sprints, throw out challenge words, and party. We have write-ins in Jerusalem too. Sometimes, it’s only two or three of us, but they are equally valuable.

Also, random word generators (Google and find your favorite) and Apples to Apples cards are great for those times you don’t know what to write.

You can find more of my advice here.

Sneaky Ninja question! What have you learned from writing?
Ooh, lots! Where to start?

  1. I’ve learned that 50,000 dreadfully written words can magically (okay, sometimes painstakingly) turn into an actual book.
  2. I’ve learned that writing is an escape. My first NaNo in Israel took place during a war. This year, we’re dealing with daily terrorism. But, every night, I can go to my computer and be transported to Crete.
  3. Writing isn’t isolating. I’ve met some of my closest friends through writing groups, including RWA (Romance Writers of America).
  4. Writing 50,000 words in thirty days makes you feel like a superhero, capable of anything!

I treat NaNoWriMo like a holiday. Maybe it’s because I was born in Berkeley, the home of The Office of Letters and Light. Or maybe it’s because I like the party atmosphere.

Who knows? Whatever the reason, I can’t imagine November without it!

Best of luck! Write on, Wrimos! 😉

Melina edits and co-ordinates the RWA Contemporary Romance Blog. Thanks for dropping by, Melina!


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