Today I’m hosting author Cara McKinnon as she goes walkabout on the Internet in honor of her new release, Essential Magic. As a veteran of both NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, I’m eager to hear her thoughts on the subject!


NaNoWriMo has become quite a monolithic movement in online writing circles. Not everyone loves it, and that’s OK. The first rule of writing is that you need to do what works for you – find your own process, your own pace. And NaNo is a heck of a pace.
But I love it. I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2001. I haven’t always “won” (made it to 50,000 words in a month), but I’ve completed several projects or first drafts in the month of November over the years. My current release started as my NaNo book in 2015. I actually thought I was going to write the sequel to an earlier novel, but when I sat down to write on November 1st, Etta Mae Cook walked into my head and onto the page. And now she’s headed out into the world in Essential Magic.

essential magic

I adore NaNo for what it does for me – it makes me sit down and write every day, and put words on the page, even if they’re going to need serious revision later. As an independently publishing author, I have to wear many hats. Right now, blog posts and ad copy are the only things I’m writing each day, because it’s promo time for Essential Magic. I’m about halfway through book two in the Fay of Skye series (A Theft of Magic), but I haven’t been able to do any real writing on it for weeks. Book one needed some extensive revision (thank you to my editor for all of her amazing critiques), and after we finally got to the last draft, I had to do all of the other chores to prep a book for publication.
But Essential Magic is out this week, so my work is almost done. And next month is Camp NaNo! I can’t wait to dive into the second half of book two, and Camp NaNo is the perfect place to do it.


The Camp NaNo experience isn’t quite as frantic or fast-paced as regular NaNoWriMo in November. For one thing, you get to set your own goal. So if you want to write the last 5000 words on a novella? That can be your goal. If you want to write a 200,000-word epic fantasy, you can! Although you will be seriously burned out by the end of the month, I think. That’s almost 7000 words a day.

Another great feature of Camp NaNo is the opportunity to form cabins. Each cabin has its own discussion area, and you get to see your cabin-mates’ word counts and goals. The website tracks how many words you’ve written as a group, and it’s lovely to see that meter go up as everyone writes. There’s a much closer sense of camaraderie than in the big NaNo, when you have writing buddies but no real connection unless you are lucky enough to have an active group in your region. Write-ins can be amazing if you live close enough to join in!

My goal for July is 25-30,000 words, which should see me to the end of A Theft of Magic. That’s about a thousand words a day, which is almost a breeze compared to 1667 a day for NaNoWriMo. If you want to sign up and get started on your next writing project, go to!

And if you’d like to purchase a copy of Essential Magic, you can do so at any of the following retailers:

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Nook

Cara McKinnon

Cara McKinnon writes fantasy romances because her heart pumps equal parts magic and passion. Her love of history caused her to set her books in an alternate Victorian era, with surprisingly few changes from the real world. She lives on the East Coast of the US with her husband, two kids, and an oversized lapdog named Jake.

Visit Cara online:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

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One thought on “Guest Post: Why (Camp) NaNo? by Cara McKinnon

  1. I am writing poetry at 10,000 words during Camp NaNoWriMo in July and celebrating my birthday July 11. I am looking for writing buddies. My username on Camp NaNoWriMo is azurebreeze

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