Camp NaNoWriMo Tools for Nook

Nook Lists for WritersWith Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) starting soon, I wanted to point out that several of our popular creative writing apps are available on the Barnes and Noble Nook Color. The iPad versions have been featured on numerous sites, including Cult of Mac, NPR All Tech Considered, and MakeUseOf.

  • Our Lists for Writers app has dozens of lists to help quickly develop characters, settings and plots.
  • Our Story Dice app uses combinations of pictograms to help brainstorming of plots.
  • Our Name Dice app gives instant inspiration in the form of random character names. It’s really surprising how much the right name can shape the character’s personality in the writer’s mind.

Sometimes, using an app to throw some random ideas into your writing can really help spark your creativity! Good luck with Camp NaNoWriMo this year!

9 Packing Tips for Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMo Participant 2013 blog header

Camp NaNoWriMo is a spin-off program of the very popular NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.) In the single month sessions of April and July, you can get some encouragement to get significant chunks of writing done. Visit to join! It’s free!

1. Set a reachable goal (with mini-goals.)

With Camp NaNoWriMo’s lower end goal only being 10,000 words in a month, this is an easily reachable goal for most people. If you have plenty of time on your hands and think you can turn yourself from a couch potato into a writing machine, maybe 50,000 words is within your reach. Once you set your word count goal, it’s very important to have some checkpoints along the way. If your goals is 10,000 words for the month, you need to write 2500 words each week, and around 500 words, five days each week. Print out a blank calendar and mount it somewhere you will see everyday. Cross off each day as you complete your word count, and make a note of your daily word counts.

2. Set up a regular writing spot.

Do you work best at your desk? Dining room table? Recliner? Window seat? Library? Park? If you have one productive spot, take some time to clean it up and refresh your supplies. If you need a variety of places, make a list of those now so you don’t have to think about it later.

3. Assemble resources.

Some writers need paper, pens, dictionaries, thesaurus, etc. Others need a laptop and an iPad or phone with apps. I’ve been in both camps and can do it either way. I highly recommend that if you work on a laptop, that you turn off your internet connection during your scheduled writing time. This will increase your productivity greatly!

4. Schedule time to write.

Gaining skill and mastery requires regular practice just like playing the piano or fencing. When is your brain firing on all cylinders? Early morning? Late night? Find a time and carve it out on your calendar. Don’t skip it. Just do it. Even if you write nonsense for an hour, you might write one great sentence that will help you accomplish your goal tomorrow. Legendary composer Aaron Copland said that he found the greatest time of inspiration to compose between the hours of 8am-4am, Monday through Friday. Get busy and just do it!

5. Get to know your characters.

Who are these people you are writing about? Spend some time making character profiles, family trees, relationship flow charts, and finding reference photos. The more fully you envision your characters, the more easily dialogue will form between them. If you write a brief backstory for each character, that will help you find their motivations for the way they behave with your other characters.

6. Do your research.

Researching setting improves the process by providing a great deal of credible information to draw from. Is your novel set in 18th century France? You might want to study! Is your main character a neurosurgeon? Read up on it! Are your characters from a modern-day Chicago suburb? Get on Google and look at the satellite and street views of some Chicago suburbs! Print out some houses for your characters to live in. Draw a map. Lay out a house design so your action makes sense.

7. Tell no one, someone, or everyone.

I go back and forth on this one. I either tell everyone I know that I’m working on something, or no one, and do it secretly. This is up to you, but make a decision and stick to it. If you decide to keep it to yourself, keep it! This is most difficult to do if you are married or otherwise committed to a significant other (or have a parent living with you.) You can choose to tell that one person only. That seems to be a good choice, but only if that person is supportive and doesn’t cast judgment on you.

8. Determine your reward.

What are you going to do when you complete your goal? Go out to dinner? Buy new shoes? Go sailing? Whatever it is, find a picture of it, put it in a cheap frame, and keep it nearby during camp. When your internal motivation hits a wall, look at your reward for some external motivation.

9. Assemble a writer’s block first aid kit.

I have two kits: physical and virtual. My physical kit contains a dictionary, a thesaurus, story dice, pipe cleaners, unusual pens and pencils, assorted paper, number dice, lists I’ve kept over the years, a couple of current magazines, creativity card deck, and a stress ball. My virtual kit contains: iPad, iPhone. I use brainstorming apps on my iPhone and use my iPad as a sketchpad, notepad, and timer. Thinkamingo has a toolbox full of apps that help me with my brainstorming process, including: Lists for Writers, Story Dice, Name Dice, and Story Spark. Other apps I use for organizing my writing, sketchbooks, and productivity are A Novel Idea, Penultimate, Simple Pomodoro Timer, and Dropbox.

Ann Adair is the President and Co-founder of Thinkamingo Inc and makes mobile apps with her family. She has participated in NaNoWriMo for years and never crossed the finish line. Following her own advice, Ann plans to write at least 10,000 words in April’s Camp NaNoWriMo.



Thinkamingo + Maker Faire = Fun!


I wanted to share with you a little bit about something different we did this past weekend. We had a booth at the Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire.

We have several interests that intersect at an event like this: robotics, makerspace, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and general creativity.

We did not do this to sell anything. In fact, we set Story Dice to go free all day Saturday resulting in over 12,000 downloads and Top 10 rankings in Education for both iPhone and iPad, and a Top 200 ranking in OVERALL iPad Apps. After all that, we still had a great sales day. We did this to get practice talking about what we do, explaining our apps, interacting with a variety of people, and watch people interact with our apps.

Our activities:

Story Dice Flash FictionActivity #1 – Roll the Story Dice using one of our devices, and create a Flash Fiction on a postcard to take with you. This engaged guests to actually play with the app on a device (iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire), write a short fiction, and have a souvenir that had our company name and logo on it.


Group Fiction ProjectActivity #2 – Group Fiction Project called Mini Maker Faire-y Tale. Participants were invited to add a sentence or illustration to an ongoing story throughout the day. This was extremely popular and attracted a lot of attention. Kids and adults were excited about it all day.


Group Fiction

This was the first of four completed Group Fiction projects throughout the day. It was a smashing success and I will likely do this at future events.

Ann gives a talk about creativity and brainstorming




Activity #3 – Spark Your Creativity workshop. I gave an informal talk about brainstorming and different ways to get unstuck. I shared a lot of my own secrets and demonstrated our newest app Sketch Spark at the end of the talk.


Set up

Specific things we had at the booth: pipe cleaners (we made flamingos with them!), baskets of pens/pencils/markers, postcards for the writing activity, iPad, iPhone, Windows Phone, 2 Kindle Fires, sign stand with a listing of all of our apps and platforms, easel with a company sign, email signup sheet for newsletter, hand sanitizer, media feature book containing articles/reviews/coverage, roll of paper for group fiction project, marine battery in a rolling backpack for recharging devices throughout the day, business cards with holders, lanyards and nametags, flamingo necklace, camera, QR code stickers for Story Dice, and sparkling personalities! We also packed our lunch/snacks/drinks.

story dice
Results: We gained newsletter subscribers. We spread goodwill in our maker community. We acquired photos of us actually doing things with other people. I am ready and willing to give another talk/workshop about Creativity and Brainstorming. We finally got business cards, a large sign and easel for future talks, and started a physical media feature book.

We had a ton of fun and learned a lot. If you have an opportunity to do something like this, go for it!

This post would be incomplete without a shout out to Mark Frauenfelder, editor-in-chief of Make magazine, and the founder of the popular Boing Boing blog. He and his daughter, Jane, featured Story Dice on NPR and Boing Boing because they love playing with it!