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NRMS student completes Nanowrimo challenge

New Richmond eighth-grader Aubrey Berning holds one of the free copies of the book she wrote for completing the Nanowrimo competition process. (Photo by Jordan Willi)

Before taking part in the National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) challenge last November, New Richmond Middle School eighthgrader Aubrey Berning didn’t have much interest in writing of any kind. However, after completing the challenge and receiving her five free printed copies of her novel, titled It Started with a Rose, Berning feels like writing is something she wants to do for a living.

“In November, I just thought it would be cool to have a challenge, but now I really love writing,” Berning said. “My book is about a girl named Sarah who is a vampire and how she is struggling with her mother’s death even though she died 200 years ago. She meets someone who helps her get her mind off of her mother, but then her best friend, who is also a vampire, is kidnapped and her new friend tries to help her find her best friend. The whole idea came from something I had been thinking about before I wrote the book.”

The process started in November with 15 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders meeting during their lunch periods to help offer advice and encouragement to complete the challenge, as part of the NRMS Tiger Quest Enrichment program. The goal of the challenge was to write an entire book in one month. Each student was required to write at least 30,000 words to complete the first part of the challenge and Aubrey was one of the only ones to reach her word goal and complete the process, which included editing her own story in January and February.

“We were trying to find something from an enrichment standpoint for kids who really enjoy writing,” said gifted and talented teacher Jodi Markowski. “It is a unique experience for the students. Aubrey was probably the only one who saw the whole process through to the end. That is probably because they write like crazy in November then take December off and edit during January and February. This is the first year we have taken part in the challenge as a school.”

One of the main reasons Berning decided to participate in the Nanowrimo challenge was because her older sister went through the process on her own last year as a senior in high school and received her own set of free copies of her work.

“It was hard when I couldn’t think of what else to write, but my sister helped me through it, so it got easier,” Berning said. “The hardest part for me was probably writing the ending because I didn’t know how to end it. The most fun I had with this contest was getting to put my ideas on paper and watch them grow.”

When her five free copies of her novel arrived at her house, Berning couldn’t have been more excited to see the final copy of her novel.

“When I got home from school one day, I saw that my dad had my package in the window and I started to freak out while talking with my sister on the phone because I was really happy,” Berning said. “I was just really happy with the book and everything else. After taking part in this competition, I kind of want to go to college for writing, specifically writing novels.”

Along with taking part in the challenge, Berning participated in Camp Nanowrimo, an online course in which students continue to work on their writing and then receive a hardcover copy of their work.

“We started offering the group as a separate writing club that would meet once a week in each grade level then combine them so they could brainstorm ideas and encourage each other,” Markowski said. “They would also come and share some of their favorite passages from their stories with each other as well. After the first part of the process it was all up to the students to do it on their own.”

For more information on Nanowrimo, visit nanowrimo. org, or contact Jodi Markowski at

“I would tell anyone interested in taking part in this competition next year that they should go for it and try it out even if they don’t finish just to see if they like it,” Berning said.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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