Write A Letter – It’s February

Fountain pen on paper

Write a letter, it’s February! Or, as I’ve learned to call it InCoWriMo. The challenge is to handwrite (in ink) a letter every day during the month of February and mail it. No email, no text message, just old school pen on paper.

Curious as to what to include in your letter? Then, check out these prompts posted by one of my favorite vendors, Goulet Pens. Feel free to check them out and drop them a letter. Rachel and Brian would love to hear from you!

What do you need to write a letter? It’s simple. Grab a pen and some paper and start writing. Put it in an envelope, seal it, add a stamp and mail. (You can order stamps online, you know!)

If you need some ideas of writing topics, here are a few prompts to get started. I typically write about what I like to do for fun, my work, and my awesome cat.

  •  Your career
  • Your school experience
  • How you spend your free time
  • What makes you the happiest?
  • Have you been on any adventures?
If you’re looking for correspondents, here are few ideas that might interest you.
  • First responders
  • Family you seldom see
  • School friends that you haven’t chatted with in a while
  • Neighbors

If you don’t get 29 letters written and mailed this month, it’s ok! The important thing is to take some time away from the digital world and put your thoughts on paper. If you can’t find a correspondent, drop me a note with your address and I’ll try to add you to my list!

Feature image courtesy of Debby Hudson

My NaNoWriMo Prep

old typewriter

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) starts in 7 days. For those of you that aren’t familiar, that’s writing 1,667 words/day for 30 days! I haven’t fully participated in ten years, but this year I am going to make an effort to start and finish with success in 2018! These are the preparatory steps that I am taking to get ready: distraction-free writing, formatting applications, and time-management.

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Distraction-Free Writing

I’ve found that if I am presented with a formatting toolbar, I will use it. I can’t help it. So, I won’t be using Word or Pages, or anything else that will let me format the text. I just want to focus on writing every day. There are two web-based applications that I’ve used previously. The nice thing about writing online is that your manuscripts are available anywhere you can use a browser.


Novlr is a web-based writing application that is very easy to use. It costs $100/year, but they do offer a two-week free trial. You start with a new novel and keep adding chapters as you progress. You can turn the Proof Reader feature on or off. That helps with readability, spelling, and passive tense. Your word count is displayed at the bottom of the writing pane. They are very pro-writer and are always working on features to enhance the application.


Hiveword is another web-based writing application. There are three tiers: free, annual, and lifetime. All of which are reasonably priced. Hiveword works on the concept of developing the bones of a novel before delving into the meat of writing.  You can develop scenes, characters, point of view, and plot lines – then start writing chapters. This method is great if you are throwing a lot at the wall and want to organize it later.

Formatting Applications

So, you finished! Yeah! If you’re going to publish your own book or e-book. You’ll need to format it properly for submission. Additionally, if you’re going to submit your finished manuscript to an agent or publisher, it too will need to be formatted.

Microsoft Word

This is a staple. There are versions for Mac and Windows. Office 365 Home is $99.99/year for six users. Plus, there is an online version. You can download manuscript templates to assist you. Often times, I look at what a literary agent or publisher wants and follow that format.

Apple iWork

iWork contains Pages (word processor), Numbers (spreadsheet), and Keynote (presentation software). You can work online, on your iPad, iPhone, or Mac. Plus you can access the online version on PC via a browser. iWork is FREE!


Scrivener, to me, is one of the best software applications for writers – once you get over the learning curve. They (Literature and Latte) even have a special edition of their software for NaNoWriMo! This is a 30-day trial version so don’t start using it until November 1. If you complete your word count, they will generously discount the full license fee – a 50% value!

You can use Scrivener to write your novel as well. You will want to make sure you take these three steps first.

  1. Set up automatic backups. Trust me, do this.
  2. Connect Dropbox. You will want to make sure you have a cloud backup of your files. Plus if you end up using Scrivener on multiple platforms using Dropbox makes it easy. (FYI – this is an affiliate link and I’ll earn extra storage space if you sign up.)
  3. Use the NaNoWriMo template. This is provided in the special edition of Scrivener and if you already have Scrivener, go to the page and scroll to the bottom for the template.

Time Management

As I’ve written previously here and here, it’s essential to block out time for your writing. If you don’t, November will be half over and you still didn’t get a good start on NaNoWriMo!

Additional Thoughts

I wanted to leave you with a list of additional tools you may find valuable in your NaNoWriMo journey. Please follow me on Facebook and let me know how you’re doing. Also, you can connect with me on the NaNoWriMo site (you’ll need to create an account first) too!

  • One Stop for Writers – This is a digital library focused on writers. It has amazing resources! They offer a free account as well as a $90/year account. I use the free resources.
  • Grammarly – I used this constantly! I have the browser plugin plus the plugins for Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook.  This is pricey at $139.99/year – but worth it to me!

Feature picture courtesy of Elijah O’Donnell

My Watercolor Muse

If you’ve wondered where I’ve been these past several weeks, I’ve been exploring my watercolor muse. I can’t honestly say what prompted me to go this direction, but it happened on a Friday and I’ve been hooked since then! And then, my friend Lisa Greer took me to a paint-along class and that cemented the idea in my head!

Getting Started with Watercolors

Last year, I picked up a set of Winsor-Newton student watercolors and a pad of paper at Hobby Lobby. I played a couple of times and then put them away. Then, I found Skillshare when I took a free class on Google Analytics.

After that class, I browsed around and found classes on watercolor techniques that were simple and easy to understand. Some of the classes that I took included:

Continuing Education

My niece has been a fan of YouTube for a very long time. That’s where she’s learned to draw and is quite the young artist. So, taking a cue from her, I started exploring watercolor tutorials on YouTube. Here are some of my favorite channels:

Paint Along Opportunities

As I mentioned previously, Lisa took me to an acrylic paint-along class. I had a great time! Most of the places around here work with acrylics or oils. I did find an online subscription service that has Youtube tutorials and live paint-along sessions. I’ll write about that in another article!


If you sign up for SkillShare, you’ll get two free months and I’ll get one free month. It’s a win-win deal!