Camp NaNoWriMo is coming! And so is the last Ordinary Sam book.

If you've ever participated in the National Novel Writing Month events, you'll know that there are three main writing months: the NaNoWriMo event in November in which participants sign up to write at least 50,000 words of a novel, and the two Camp NaNo events in April and July, in which participants have a bit more leeway to decide what kind of project they plan to write and to set their own word goals.

For me, having three dedicated months of the year to join other writers in racing toward an arbitrary but fun deadline is the key to being able to complete first drafts. While I didn't always finish the whole draft in each month, I did meet my goals; at this point, though, I've learned that finishing the whole first draft of a novel-in-progress makes a huge difference in my ability to finish a writing project in a reasonable amount of time.

I always worked on my Tales of Telmaja books in November, so the first time I started an April writing project I wanted to work on something new. My series about a boy who is back in the real world after a year of adventures in a magical realm was an attempt to answer the question I always had about the kinds of books where kids would enter a wardrobe or cross a portal to a new and strange land: what happens when they come back, and life is just ordinary? I would come to find out that "Ordinary Sam" wasn't ordinary anymore, and that the collision between his everyday world of school and friends and the magic world of fearful Frights and evil Enchanters was going to change his life forever.

So for the last four Aprils I have followed Sam Oldfield as he discovers the truth about himself and the mysterious Sand Stone--and tries to balance a world full of homework and video games with a world full of magic and danger. This April, I will write the fifth and final book in The Adventures of Ordinary Sam.

It's bittersweet to leave a world and its characters behind, but writers almost never close the door completely. For now, though, Sam's story arc is reaching a natural conclusion, and I'm excited about getting started on that last book, the only one in the series which will, on the final page, contain the words: "The End."

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