Tuesday, December 17, 2013

And we're out

Well, that's it. All the pens are gone. All 88 of them, and I'm still one short (time to put in an order. Hmmm, what's on MY Christmas list that I can drop in the cart. I mean, you know, to make the shipping worth it...).

Every pen that went out to kids has been greatly appreciated, not only by me, but by the kids themselves. I've even had other students -- and even teachers -- search me out to see if I have any more of those "fancy" pens everyone else got ("I'll buy one..."). It may just be the novelty of the fountain pen, but the kids have had a blast using them in class and showing them off to their friends.

The ink choices have been a little surprising. I have filled most of the pens with blue ink (my personal favorite), but I honestly thought there would have been more greens and reds and the not-so-safe-everyday colors. I bet I'll get more of those once everyone starts to run out of ink (and two already have! That's a lot of writing to do in a week).

December (and the winter break in three days) should bring about more of the stories getting typed and saved to Figment.com. I plan to start posting excerpts from the participants stories when we get back in January. And if I happen to throw in a snippet of my story as well... Hey, why not.

Have a safe and happy holidays, and I hope everyone gets the pen (and ink, and paper) that they asked Santa for.

"Dear Santa,
     I have been a really good guy this year, and for Christmas, I'd like a clip-less TWSBI Micarta with a fine nib, and/or an Edison Collier in Persimmon Swirl with a fine nib..." 

Monday, December 9, 2013

It's time for prizes!

With the weather as it was (and still is) on Friday, we got a late start to school (and I could barely get to work), and had to delay the gifting of prizes until this morning. That being said, here are the winners and their choice pens:
Gia C. gets the Rotring Skynn.

The Retro 51 Ace of Spades went to Conner S., a high schooler
who just finished her fourth year of NaNoWriMo.

Ashly B. chose the Picaso, Santos O. the Hero,
De'Vion W. the Duke, and Chris B. the Jinhao.
*Wyatt R. & AC W. each took home the
Sheaffer Budget pens.
Anthony A. took the Lamy Sarafi after his
first successful NaNoWriMo.

Alyssa G. has already been using the
Franklin-Christoph Piper pen she chose.
*Alex W. & Rebekah D. now have one as well.

Ashton C., Zach H., and Mikayla S. each
have their very own Pelikano. *Jacob K. & Fernanda L.
 grabbed a blue Pelikano.

Bre S., Jessica S., Caleb S., and Sabena S.
(huh...all last names 'S') have a Platinum Preppy.
*And the long list of additional owners: Isaiah Z., Laura L.,
Louis A., David S., Regina B., Jose R., Braedon W.,
Jacob C., Jasmine S., Kim F., Christian M., Caulier A.,
Stephany A., Danny T., John B., Eddie S., Daniel C.,
John M., Izaak S., Adam T., TJ W.,  Cori B., JJ R.,
Cesar S., Zach L., Camryn S., Aeron B.,Paul G.,
Madison M., Rebecca S., Kelli R., & Scarlet M.

TWSBI's go to Sarah R., Sierra W., Avery E., Riley L.,
Brittany G., Ariana A.,Carmen F., Maci C., Maya J., and
Cadi B. (there were a lot of TWSBI's, and still a few left).
*Now include Pernisha V., Cooper S., Atanacio R., Matt P., Rafael R., Dustin K., Phaedra G., Aryn B., Liam C., & Abbigail L. as proud owners

Casey S. is the proud owner of a Kaweco Sport (which
is currently the pen inked up and in my pocket). *Nayeli C.,
Marco N., Trace L., Ally W. & Antonio R. also have Kawecos.
Two of the Sheaffers (the 100 & 300) went to
Scott B., and Sarah S. *Grace W. walked
away with the calligraphy set.
This one hurt the most to give away, but this student most definitely
deserved it. Ashley H. not only finished her word count, but wrote
over 60,000 words in the month of November.

Inks of choice so far:
  • J. Herbin Rose Cyclamen -- TWSBI 540
  • Pelikan Brilliant Green -- Jinhao Coleto
  • Noodler's Libery Elisium -- Sheaffer Prelude 300
  • Private Reserve DC Supershow Blue -- TWSBI 540
  • Private Reserve Sherwood Green -- (my own) Kaweco Sport Ice
  • Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-peki -- (my own) TWSBI mini 1.1mm stub
  • Noodler's Shah's Rose
  • Pelikan Turquoise -- Picaso 
  • Diamine Red Dragon -- TWSBI 540
  • Noodler's Ellis Island -- TWSBI mini
  • Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku -- TWSBI 540
  • Noodler's Blue -- TWSBI 540
  • Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses -- TWSBI 540
  • Rohrer & Klingner Blu Mare -- TWSBI 540
  • Private Reserve Electric DC Blue -- TWSBI 540
  • J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage
  • Noodler's Black
  • Diamine Ancient Copper
  • Waterman Inspired Blue -- TWSBI 540
Only three winners left to pick prizes, then everyone else that participated gets got their chance. Each one of the winners is also receiving a journal provided by Franklin-Christoph. Thanks again for encouraging these young writers, and spread the word.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

And the winners are...

Lots of writers, not quite as many winners (which is to be expected). There were around 90 students that actively participated in NaNoWriMo this year, and about a third of them met or exceeded their word goal (even my 5 year old daughter met her word goal!). Twenty-nine students put pen-to-paper or fingers-to-keyboards and worked throughout November to finish something that very few people can say they've done -- write the own novel. Here is a list of the winners, plus the number of times they have written:

  1. Liam C. (1st year)
  2. Nayeli C. (2nd year)
  3. Carmen F. (3rd year)
  4. Scott B. (1st year)
  5. Avery E. (1st year)
  6. Anthony A. (1st year)
  7. Ashly B. (1st year)
  8. Ashley H. (2nd year, and she wrote over 50,000 words!)
  9. Casey S. (1st year)
  10. Chris B. (1st year)
  11. Conner S. (4th year!)
  12. Ariana A. (1st year)
  13. Sierra W. (1st year)
  14. Jessica S. (1st year)
  15. Maya J. (3rd year)
  16. Maci C. (2nd year)
  17. Sabena S. (1st year)
  18. Riley L. (1st year)
  19. Brittany G. (1st year)
  20. Santos O. (2nd year)
  21. Caleb S. (1st year)
  22. Cadi B. (2nd year)
  23. Sarah S. (2nd year)
  24. De'vion W. (3rd year)
  25. Ashton C. (1st year)
  26. Alyssa G. (1st year)
  27. Bre S. (1st year)
  28. Pernisha V. (2nd year)
  29. Sarah R. (3rd year)
Congratulations to all of the winners, and to everyone that took on the challenge. Tomorrow we start handing out prizes, and I (hopefully) will be able to give a great pen to all of the participants. By the way, students need check out the Inks & Samples page and choose the color of ink they want to fill their new pen with. Thank you to all of the donors, and especially to the Goulets for all the ink (honestly, I think the vast amount of ink choices is what I love about fountain pens the most...).

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The end is nigh

Well, it's been a whirlwind November, and I can't believe that the end is already here. Looking at the HMS Young Writers page, kids are finishing up their word counts and hopefully celebrating their success. Unfortunately, my month of NaNoWriMo ends tonight at just 41,767 words out of 50,000. Despite a few 4,000+ days, I just won't be able to make those final 8,000 before midnight.

I'm okay with that. These last few days have been spent with the family celebrating the holidays, and while I could have locked myself in a room and finished, I realized I'd be missing some special things.

I got to go out with my daughter on her first boat ride ever in Port Aransas, TX while we went dolphin watching. She had a great time, and one that I would have missed if I had skipped to write. Am I disappointed not to make it? Sure, but I've helped introduce a whole new group of kids to writing, and that's what's more important.

So despite these things being constant companions throughout the month,

NaNoWriMo will ends without me being a winner once more (but it was fun trying).

And this may be a couple of days late, but I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Please keep coming back to the sight as we start to post winners, start giving away the prizes donated by our sponsors, and share some of their stories written during November. Please take time to visit their sites or drop them an email to let them know just how much you appreciate their support of our kids.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

In to the final week

I can't believe that there is only one week left in this flurry of writing (no, seriously. I can't believe it. There's only one week left and I'm behind. Waaaaaay behind...). The kids have been furiously writing away on their novels, and some have even met (and greatly exceeded) their word count goals. We start counting words for real tomorrow, so I'm hoping to see a number of "verified" winners start to pop up on the HMS YoungWriters classroom.

The good news about this week is it's Thanksgiving, and that means that everyone (me included) who is behind on their word counts can (maybe) get caught up. The scary part, is that after Tuesday, I won't see my writers until NaNoWriMo is finished and the word counts finalized. No more encouraging words, writer's block jumpstarts, etc... They'll be completely on their own. And I bet they're going to be amazing.

As for me, after a wonder dinner of Lamb Pot Roast and mashed potatoes cooked up my by wonderful wife (and personal chef) Tammie, I was able to knock out over 5,000 words just today! Unfortunately, I'm still 7,000 words behind...


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It's been 13 days already?!

Interesting fact: I learned not long ago that the ?! is called an interrobang, and is not a standard punctuation mark.

Really? 13 days? Wow time flies. Kids are writing (and I'm trying to catch up to my own word count) and having a great time. In fact, three of my sixth graders are actually finished with their word count goals! There have been over 59,000 words logged on to the HMS Young Writers page, and not every student writing has had an opportunity to update.

In talking with the kids, there has been a good mix of typing and handwriting (some of the kids are doing both). I hope to have all of them signed up and official before we start verifying word counts. I'd love to see as many purple "Winner!" tags show up by their names. And once we're done with November, it'll be time for a breath, prizes, then back to work on editing.

I just hope I make it too...

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Only day two?!

Yep, only the second day, and I've had to work extra just to get back on track (I'm ahead right now. Let's see how long THAT lasts...).

As of last count 96 kids have signed up to write this year, and a few of them are already updating their word counts over at ywp.nanowrimo.org. It amazes me each year that I do this, the number of kids that choose to write. Even more so are some of the kids that join up, kids that I never would have pegged to want to write. What's that saying about a books cover?

Thank you again to everyone that's helped me make this happen. I'll try to get pictures up of the kids' writing process when I get some.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ready? And WRITE!!!

Day one, and we are off on this writing month with 96 kids signed up. 96! That's 38 more than last year (and 12 more than I have pens for...), but these kids are excited and so am I (now if this football crowd would quiet down so I could work on my own word count...).

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Less than 24 hours to go...

and over 92 middle and high school students (mostly middle) are signed up to write!

I hope CreateSpace can keep up with all the novel requests...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wow! Just wow!

Less than one week to go, and I've already run out of NaNoWriMo buttons and posters! Since starting this group, I've never had that problem (and it's a nice problem...). A month ago, I really thought that I'd have a drawer full of pens left over for next year. I have 84 pens...there are 85 signed up, and more coming in every day.

This is a good problem.

Friday, October 25, 2013

One week to go!

It's almost that time! NaNoWriMo is only one short week away, and the list of middle school writers is up to 58 as of this morning. That's the same number of students that I had last year in middle school and high school combined.

The Beginner Prize Packs have been flying out of my office, and the kids are excited to start receiving goodies. I've also set up an Instagram account for the kids to show off their writing as they go. You can follow it at FPARMY. To post to the account, either tag the picture @fparmy, or #hmsnano in the comments.

Wish us luck! This competition is going to rock this year.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Stretch Goals

There's a "stretch goal" for everything these days, so why not a writing club? Here at HMS we have started using incentives called "Spirit Sticks". There are a number of different kinds, for all kinds of groups. And I've got one for NaNoWriMo.

I've tried to think of an interesting way to earn these. Students already get the official NaNo button, just for taking on the writing challenge, so I wanted to make this prize something they had to work for. And I finally figured out the challenge.

Phobias. Yup, your character (protagonist, antagonist, or secondary) has to have a phobia, and it has to actually play a part in the story. It doesn't have to be a major part, but it shouldn't just be mentioned, either. And to make things more challenging, let's say it needs to be somewhat obscure, and it cannot be duplicated within the group.

Check out The Phobia List for a rather exhaustive listing of phobias. My secondary character, Jason Knight, has "daemonophobia", the fear of demons. And seeing as how my novel is a Supernatural Thriller, with demons, things could get interesting...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The new NaNoWriMo buttons are awesome!

The people at the Office of Light and Letters (those behind NaNoWriMo), have updated their posters and buttons this year. And having grown up in the '80s, I love them. 8-bit pixels for the win!

Edison Beaumont from Brian Gray & Edison Pens

This one... hmmm... this one.

I've wanted an Edison pen for almost three years now. They are gorgeous, and write wonderfully, and everyone that has talked about their own Edison pens have done nothing but rave about them. Honestly, I never thought in my wildest dreams that when I emailed Brian Gray over at Edison pens about donating to our group, that I would receive an email back the very next day saying "Sure!"

Now I'm jealous...

I don't even know who the pen is going to yet (or even just what criteria the students have to meet to be eligible for it), but I'm jealous of them none-the-less. One of my students will have an Edison pen before me. There's got to be a way...

"Dear Santa,"

Monday, October 14, 2013

Zebra Zmulsion pens from Shu & JetPens

JetPens.com is one of my most favorite places to visit and shop. They have some of the most unique writing supplies available, and there is something there for everyone. And imagine my surprise when I contacted JetPens, and got a reply from the CEO and co-founder of JetPens! And it got even better when a package of 70 Zmulsion pens showed up on my doorstep.

If you ever want to kill some time looking at pens and writing supplies, head over to JetPens or Goulet Pens. You'll be lost for hours.

Assorted inks & ink samples from Goulet Pens and Fountain Pen Geeks

Thanks to the generous donations of people over at the Fountain Pen Geeks forums and Goulet Pens, I am swimming in ink. There is a color of ink for every color of the rainbow (and even some that aren't). I couldn't believe the box that showed up on my doorstep from Goulet Pens, with over 80 ink samples! I'll try to get a picture posted later tonight, and attempt (I said attempt...) to get a list of the inks and color samples posted on the "Inks Available" page (but there are a lot... I mean, A LOT!).

I can't thank everyone enough for all of the support for these kids. They are getting excited, and can't wait to start their novels (quite a few have even asked if they really have to wait until November 1st... yes...). And big thanks to the Goulets from gouletpens.com, and Pencils+Pens & kenshin over at the FPGeeks forums.

Writers Bloc gift certificates from Cheryl at Writer's Bloc

A big thank you to Cheryl at Writer's Bloc for the donation of THREE gift certificates of $10 each for www.shopwritersblock.com. They have tons of great stuff to fit any writer or style.

Assorted Chinese fountain pens

There are some really nice fountain pens in this set, especially the Jinhao Cartelo 100 (on the right in the black/tan case). These pens were donated by a wonderful member of the Fountain Pen Geeks Forums. Thanks jlikesink!

Private Reserve Orange Crush fountain pen ink from Sam at Pendemonium

I've started to become a real fan of Private Reserve ink, and the Orange Crush is one of those that is quickly becoming a favorite (and it's very close to Hutto Orange!).

Field Notes donated by Michele Seiler and Field Notes

These are some of my favorite notebooks around. I have a stack of them at home, and I carry at least one (if not 2 or 3) with me at all times, though my wife usually rolls her eyes when I have to run back inside to grab them. Field Notes also has special color editions that come out four times a year. These are always fun, and almost always sell out within a couple of weeks of introduction.

KUM pencil sharpeners from everyone at KUM in Germany

Oops... Apparently I forgot to take a picture of all the pencil sharpeners that KUM has sent us this year. Hey, I guess I did plan ahead, and took a picture when they first showed up. These are the best pencil sharpeners in the world, and the only ones that touch my "fancy" pencils.

Doane notebooks donated by Chad Doane of Doane Paper

These are great. I don't go anywhere without a notebook like this in my pocket.

Faber-Castell JUMBO Dot Grip pencils donated by Michelle Seeber & Faber Castell

These pencils are wonderful. I've used them many times in the past, and they are always a pencil I revisit.


Rotring Skynn donated by Pendleton Brown at Pendleton's Pens

Not only is this man a master nib meister, he loves the idea of kids writing novels, and especially writing them with fountain pens!

Lamy Safari donated by Karen Scott at Filofax, Inc. & Lamy

Lamy pens are some of my absolute favorite pens. I own five of them (a blue Safari, yellow Safari, neon yellow Safari -- which is just cool! --, green apple Safari, and Vista). The Vista is the very first pen I ever bought myself, and it has been one that is constantly in my rotation.

Pelikan Pelikanos donated by Nancy Kopec & Pelikan Pens

These pens are great, and are perfect for young writers. And they have left handed models, too!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sheaffer 100, 300, & Calligraphy Set donated by Kathleen Pilkington and Sheaffer Pens

A Sheaffer Prelude fountain pen was my first fountain pen that I owned, and it is still one of my favorites today (although I do need to get the nib worked on. It's become a bit scratchy). The pen was a gift from dad, and I don't think he really knew what he was starting...

This is my Sheaffer Prelude, in Barleycorn Gold.

Piper Trillium Rhodium Ballpoint donated by Franklin-Christoph

Franklin-Christoph donated a large number of assorted journals as well.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Everything is better with pirates!

Even marching shows. Ahoy Hutto!

This is really what a "football field" is for.

The Hutto High School Marching Band heads to their first contest this Saturday. Tonight's the last Tuesday practice before show time. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Kaweco Sport Ice donated by Christiane Gutbertlet & Kaweco

Continuing with my posts of pen prizes, Kaweco graciously sent us 6 Kaweco Sport Ice fountain pens in blue, red, pink, green, orange, and yellow.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Prize packs

I'm working on putting prize packs together today. Every student that takes on the NaNoWriMo challenge will receive one of these packs. 
Each prize pack contains:
     1. Either a Field Notes or doane paper journal (for plotting, character sketches, etc...);
     2. Faber-Castell JUMBO Dot grip pencil;
     3. from JetPens, a Zebra Zmulsion gel pen;
     4. a KUM pencil sharpener (I LOVE KUM sharpeners! Everyone should have a least 3 or 4);
     5. stickers (sometimes you've got to celebrate that awesome scene, or perfect line);
     6. one dice (I know, I know. "Dice" aficionados will say "die", but after researching which is correct, it turns out BOTH are correct these days. Ah, modern English. I got this idea from my co-worker, Mrs. Hemenway. The die is used when you're stuck and don't know which way to go with your story. "The die is cast."). 

There is one thing missing that I'll add this week. I've ordered NaNo writers buttons, but they haven't arrived yet. 

Thank you again to all of the donors and supporters. We all can't wait until November 1st. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Preppys donated by Lisa & Brian Anderson, and Pens for Kids

I couldn't believe my eyes when I met Lisa and Brian Anderson at the Dallas Pen Show and was handed a bag full of Platinum Preppys to go out to my young writers. 40 Preppys in red, pink, blue and green will go into their hands. These are great pens, and I own 7 of them myself.

TWSBI 540s and minis donated by Philip Wang & TWSBI

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Creativity Already?

Kids are joining in every day, and with 30 left before NaNoWriMo starts...I hope I have enough pens?

I decided to try something a little more "creative" with the sign up this year. Normally, students interested in writing would simply stop by my door and let me know they were interested. This year, there is a "registration" form.

Some of the students are getting creative with their "Hero" names:
  • Wild Pirate
  • Vital Power
  • Captain Blocksalot
  • Shinobi Peach
  • The Invincible Hamster
  • Unicornasong
  • Rambo Chowbaca
  • Saxophone Man (guess which instrument this one plays...)
  • The Green Dragon
  • Night
  • Pokecrafter95
  • Geek Girl
  • Nerd Girl
  • Super Writer (predicting the future?)
  • Wild West (this one was creative...his last name is West!)
  • Deep Thought
  • Sceamintin
  • Z Fang
  • CB
  • Elite Band Chick (yeah she is!)
  • Leo Boy
  • Outstanding Red
  • Crazy Boy
  • Cerda
  • The Captain (hey, I get to have fun with this too)
  • Fire Blaid
  • Copurnium Cowfish
  • Writterholic
  • Fat Cacaque
  • Mister Super Man
And there's quite a few more that have already signed up. Time to get ready for writing!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Dallas Pen Show

Back from the Dallas Pen Show! Yes, I went to a pen show...

I met so many wonderful people there who were very excited to hear about all of the students signing up to write during NaNoWriMo. And thanks to the Andersons, I have 40 Preppy fountain pens to give out to the writers! These pens are great for beginners, and experienced fountain pen users as well (I have 6 or 7 of them myself). I'll post some pictures of the different pens I saw and people I met this week.

Also thank you to Pendleton Brown for the great work on my Rotring 600 (I finally can use it!) and the donation of the Rotring Skynn fountain pen for a student. As we stand right now, I have 77 fountain pens to award, 70 Zebra Zmulsion pens, 72 Faber-Castell Dot Grip pencils, Field Notes journals, Doane Paper journals, and Franklin-Christoph and Rhodia journals... This years NaNoWriMo is going to be awesome!

Stay tuned for pictures coming soon!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An Open Letter of Thanks

Thank you for your support. I don’t think there is anything I can say beyond that to show my gratitude. Not only have you supported me in ways I never expected, but you have supported and encouraged my students as they take on challenges which most students would never accept.

I sponsor a group of middle school students who take on the NaNoWriMo challenge, to write a novel in just 30 days. These young men and women are putting their heart and souls on the page for people to read, and -- as scary as it is -- critique. Through the generous donations of pens, pencils, and journals from throughout the writing community, many students are excited about putting pen (or pencil) to paper to write their own novels.

I get excited every year as November draws close, to see all of the returning students as they prepare for their writing challenge. Even more exciting are the new writers who crowd around my office windows, staring in amazement at the pens displayed there. They plot and devise ways to win the pen of their choice, and ask questions about the pens or how to get one.

Your donations mean the world to these students, some of which may never have had the opportunity to own something as nice as what you all have given. You are helping me to make new, lifelong writers and learners out of these students. Thank you. I could never do what I do without your help.