Amazing Instant Novelist . . .Does anyone remember this?

Amazing Instant NovelistI stumbled across an old memory today on Pinterest, check out these archived screenshots of my old haunt – The former AOL site was the brainchild of Dan Hurley, the original 60 second novelist, you can check out his book here on GoodReads.

Amazing Instant Novelist was affiliated with Chicken Soup for the Soul, it was filled with message boards for writers and readers alike. I found the site in 1997 and was hooked. I read and I wrote and I became part of my very first cyber family there. There were contests and prizes and tons of camaraderie, it was, for lack of a better word, fantabulous.

It wasn’t long before I was asked to join the ranks as NovlQwiet, and became one of their volunteer admins. I was rather brokenhearted when the site was acquired by some other entity and faded from existence. I still miss it to be honest. The years I spent there are treasured.

It was there I realized I had something to offer, something I didn’t need to keep to myself, buried in notebooks and journals . . . my words. They read them, they picked them up and they displayed them; they valued them. I was encouraged and applauded and it was good. So good.

I’d never been in the company of other writers, I wasn’t even certain I was one of them until they assured me I was. The other Novls embraced me, the writers who came there to write respected me, and the readers who simply came there to read uplifted me. It was kind of a beautiful thing and I’ll always, always be thankful I was a part of it.

Crystal R. Cook


29 thoughts on “Amazing Instant Novelist . . .Does anyone remember this?

    • Well…as I read through this site I noticed I actually responded to it in 2015! It appeared again in my email box and sent me hurtling into the past! What a time that was. Along with stretching my poetry muscles I was also working out some “life” issues as well. AIN was just what I needed and I know I was not alone. I went on to complete my career and since I’ve retired (22 years) have had two chapbooks published by Finishing Line Press. Highlight of my life!! If you are interested, you can find them either on Finishing Line Press or Amazon under the name Diana Weiss. I’d love to get feedback. I was NOVLDove and AMAZNDove way back then. As I said in 2015 I’ve sort of stayed in contact with Hap and Fur and Carmel now and then. I was blessed to meet each one of them. I wish there was a way we could get back together. My very favorite part of the poetry board was the Firsties board. First lines that brought out the most remarkable poetry…none the same despite beginning with the same line. I copied and saved as many as I could and have gone to them over and over. I hope this thread will appear in my email again. 😉. Luv you all. Stay well in this most extraordinary time.


      • I was a journalist then and still am — doing a kind of editorial quality control for one of the world’s biggest news providers. And now I have a husband if 21 years … a HS junior … and a sophomore in college. AIN is a sweet memory.


  1. Going to take a long shot. I was HostNovlWrmhrt and worked in the chatroom. I married HostNovlCoyote. Sadly, I lost Ed 1-3-2020 and I only wish I had found this before I lost him. There were many who worked the chatroom who worked hard and I loved what we did. HostNovlBee we lost 4 years ago, but have not been able to keep in touch of any other Host from the chatroom. So nice to see all of you. The Instant Cafe was a home away from home and it brought me the love of my life.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss . . . I miss that little corner of the web, it felt like home. It makes my heart smile when someone stumbles upon this post who has such fond memories of it as well ❤️ I pray you’ve found support and comfort and are surrounded with blessings as you continue your journey ❤️


  2. Instant Novelist was fun on AOL.. I use to look forward to writing the little stories using the word for the week that they gave us.. It was fun.. I now write children’s stories for a blog

    Liked by 2 people

    • Children’s stories ❤️ So happy you’re still writing! I miss much from those days, I found my voice there. Did you participate in Noah Webster’s Ghost? One of my favorites 😊


  3. I was Gaea617 on AIN. Still friends with GMenei on Facebook and following NOVLHack. No way to friend NOVLHack/Texrat or as I called him Hackrattie. I loved AIN and it was such a huge part of my life

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Is there an archive anywhere of the posts from AIN?? I used to submit stories every week, and I loved the feedback and the community there. If this were revived, I’d join again in a heartbeat.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. How wonderful to know there are still those out there who enjoyed and were supported by all the NOVL and AMAZN Folks…and remember! It feels like an eternity ago, doesn’t it? I was proud to be NOVLDove and later, AMAZNDove…leader of the pack in short poetry. NOVLHap pointed out your blog to me and NOVLCarmel. Thanks to the Hapster! I do remember your name and some of those that were mentioned in other posts. NOVLRedShoes…I sure do remember her! The people who found the site and were loyal to it for so many years….well, we were a blessing to one another. I felt very loved when my husband died and so many of my online friends left messages for me. …a blessing. I, too, wish there was a place like it somewhere in the internet now. Perhaps we should start one??!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • This is a very old post but what do I have to lose, I’ll post and see what happens. I loved the site and was probable one of its worst writers when I first posted. I remember NOVL Kati and Doc, Kati was incredible and helped me more than any of my teachers in school ever did. I was writing to help myself through depression. I had a lot on my mind but was unable to put it on paper. Kati helped me so much and if anyone knows of her or keeps in touch with her, let her know she is still my hero.


        • Wow, Hap! I remember you so well. And you got to meet Pammy99 as I recall. I hope you and Dovie and Carmel will join us in the Henhouse. The page isn’t all that busy but hoping it will pick up and maybe if enough were interested, we could get something going. We’ve rounded up Bec, Prism, Thalia, Teque, Smile, Brit, Magi, Bre, Joshua, Fur, and a number of old posters. Have been searching for Raven, Raine, glas, Fain, and Redhed among others. I just checked the page and added 4 more. Cannot find Loki and have also been looking for Vernon/Dewey.
          I didn’t have the email new comments checked. Do now. Thank you for answering!


  6. Hey Crystal, NOVLHap here 🙂 I was on the Short Poetry boards. I’m still in touch with NOVLs Dove and Carmel. Those certainly were the days. It was a perfect example of a community of practice, where experts honed their skills and newbies learned along the way and we all worked to support each other. I’m quite active on Twitter and they talk about Personal Learning Networks…I think these boards were the digital start of these networks. Always brings about a warm fuzzy glow thinking about them! 🙂 It would be nice to have those boards again…just can’t ever find anything quite like them…you know?? Take care! Melissa

    Liked by 2 people

    • I remember you 🙂 I remember Dove as well, so many memories and yes, there has been nothing like those boards since. I certainly do miss the camaraderie and sense of community, more like a family in so many ways. Your message has been a lovely surprise 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi NOVLHap…I wrote poetry on AIN from about ’97 to ’98 under the name Kathymars1. I won and placed during some of the weekly contests and thoroughly loved the ability to express myself openly on this very special forum! I’d dearly like to have another means to verbally express myself on a board like AIN. Thank you for the time you gave to being a NOVL!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I found myself on an insomnia-fueled Google search down memory lane when I finally remembered the name of the AOL forum where I spent several years writing little short stories & talking to like minded weirdos. And here I am at your post. I agree with you, it was an incredibly supportive space. I was 17 or 18 when AIN was on its way off AOL. I’m so sad that I lost a lot of my submissions (for which I won first place a few times in the weekly contests.) 😦 A computer crash in the late 90s took with it a lot of my early scribblings. I wish there was an archive. I’m not sure I even remember my AOL handle at the time. But I had a sort of a mentor in one of the NOVLs there, NOVL Doc, I think was his handle. He really supported my writing and we stayed in touch for a number of years before losing connection. Have you kept in touch with any of the other NOVLs? Maybe one of them knows him – I’d love to know how he’s doing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Doc! I remember them all so fondly 🙂 Sadly, we didn’t all keep in touch, I’ve just recently been trying to seek a few of them out myself. We all lost a lot of precious memories and words when the site closed.

      For a while, there were archives you could access, but I’ve not had any lick finding those now either. I’ll tell ya what though, if I do, I’ll come right back here and let you know!

      It’s nice to make contact with someone else who remembers this lovely little place . . .


      • Even this little connection has brought back a warm fuzzy feeling! I am certain we probably even interacted because I was on the forum basically 96 to 98 or 99, or so. I just wish I could remember more user names, including my own (I changed it once or twice). I think there was a NOVL RedShoes maybe who was nice? Your handle also sounds familiar.

        Glad to make this connection here 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • For me as well 🙂 Redshoes sounds familiar, but it’s been so long! We were all assigned certain boards and contests, so we didn’t all interact on a regular basis . . .

          If you happen to remember your screen
          name over there, I’d love to hear it 🙂


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