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WIP Update #3

My inner monologue: Oh hey. Are we at the six month mark where we provide an update to the novel you’ve been working on fort he better part of a year now?

*Checks calendar*

Also me: Yeah. Well, more or less. But it was a really shitty six months where I didn’t get much done because I was struggling with a ton of shit mentally. I was to the point where I felt like I was in a rut I’d never get out of1I wrote about this for an upcoming post that will go up at some point in (likely) March.. You can’t have expected me to write during that time.

My inner monologue: Did you write anything new in story?

Also me: Yes…

My inner monologue: Let’s hear about it then.

Also me: Finnnnneeeeeee.

Oh hey. Happy…*checks calendar again*…February. I know some of you are wondering how my work in progress of a novel is going. Especially since I decided to make finishing a draft (or two) of it one of my writing goals for this year. And yes, I know that doing a separate work in progress update post doesn’t exempt me from my regularly scheduled quarterly goal update posts, but if there’s any way I can get more posts out of the same amount of content with how busy I’ve been the last couple of months, I’m going to take advantage of it.

When we last checked in on my progress of the first draft, I had around 35,000 words and just under half of my chapters written. I can happily say that — as of writing this — the draft is now over 53,000 words, with 21 of the 26 planned chapters written, as well as the 22nd chapter started. At this point, it’s looking like the initial draft of the book will end up somewhere in the 65,000-75,000 word range, which is a bit short of where I’d ideally like to have the book when it’s completed. That said, I’ve already identified a few areas of the book that will receive some significant expanding in the second draft. Part of this will be for world building reasons, while part of it will be to better flesh out the backstory of one or two of the main characters.

On the plus side, being this far into the draft has gotten me to the point where I’m comfortable discussing some of the broader points of the book in a bit more detail. Since I’m still WAY far out from having this book ready for publishing in any capacity, I’ve deceided to limit that sharing to those who support me on Patreon rather than the general public. One of this month’s rewards was a podcast giving a little context as to two of the main characters of the story, but I’ll be expanding on this more in the coming months. If you’d like some of those pre-release updates, you could always consider supporting me on Patreon. Wink wink nudge nudge.

I’m also hoping that this first book will become part of a larger series. While I don’t have too much I can share about that at this point, I will say that there will be a noticeable tonal shift between this book — which is intended to be a sci-fi slice of life love(ish) story — to the rest of the series (which will keep the sci-fi parts, though not so much on the slice of life or love story parts). There are a couple of characters in this work in progress that will feature heavily in the rest of the series, hence wanting to build up backstory for those characters as I mentioned above.

I’m still hoping to have the first draft done by mid-April, which will require some significant writing over the course of this week to be a safe bet. Time after this week has the potential to get a bit more scarce2For reasons I’ll share in a later post., so if I can crank out an additional chapter or two before the middle of the month, it’ll make hitting that deadline a bit easier.

Of the various projects I’ve been working on, this is definitely the one I can remember being the most excited about. I wrote the short story that this project is based off of nearly two years ago at this point, so it’s been a story whose plot and characters I’ve become quite attached to. I’m excited to eventually share it with all of you.

Mid-Month Short Story Challenge: An Update

I’ve been doing the Mid-Month Short Story Challenge since July of 2017. In that time, I’ve posted 16 prompts covering a decently wide range of genres, story styles, and other gimmicks to try to challenge both myself and others who were participating in the challenge to create unique stories. During that time, I’ve enjoyed developing my own writing skills based on prompts that were often created in collaboration with other people.

I put the Mid-Month Short Story Challenge on hiatus in December because I didn’t expect to have time to write a new short story around Christmas, nor did I expect anyone else to do so. That said, as I was creating my writing goals for 2019, I came to a realization. While the MMSSC has been a great way to build my own skills as a writer, it has not taken off in the same way I had hoped it would. Through 16 editions of the prompts, there have been a total of 4 stories other than mine written from those prompts. Total, that is, not per prompt. And while I do enjoy the challenge myself, I don’t feel the need to produce new MMSSC prompts if no one is writing for them aside from me. I already have a work in progress I procrastinate on a ton.

While I may bring back the MMSSC in the future, it likely won’t be soon. If you are interested in writing a short story based on one of the old prompts, that’s awesome! I’ve linked the prompts below, along with a very short description of each. After the prompt, I’ve also linked my responses to each prompt, in case you want to read those. 

As for my favorite stories that I’ve written as part of this challenge, I’m quite partial to the weirdness that was Earth: A Study of Simulated Planet Behavior from prompt 11, as well as my first attempt at a true fantasy story with prompt 2’s response, In Training. The other notable thing that these prompts allowed me to do was to expand on abandoned projects I’d used for other things, such as The Isle Charon as well as Foxtails.

Thank you to everyone who has read the Mid-Month Short Story Challenge posts over the past year and a half or so. It’s been a lot of fun to do. I’ll make sure to give a heads up before restarting the project if I do reboot it in the future.

Eyes Upon Us

This post is a response to November 2018’s mid-month short story challenge. Click on the link in the previous sentence to read the prompt, share your story, and read those written by others.


The beauty of frequent airport travel is that you begin to learn the best places to sit in your home airport before your flight. For me, this is completely contingent on what I’m doing. If I have a lot of work to get done before my flight, I’ll find a corner near my gate where I can camp out with an outlet and put headphones in. If I’m travelling with others, I find that it’s most efficient just to get to your gate, find seats for everyone, then send off small parties for food so as to save seats.

Today, I’m flying alone for work, but I have nothing to do before my flight. This is my favorite time at the airport, as I can sit and people watch. For the early morning flights that my job necessitates, this means the optimal place to sit is a small grove of black tables and yellow chairs near the Starbucks and McDonald’s in the D concourse. This placement is great because I can see people leaving both restaurants, all while still watching the four gates across from the food area.

My morning begins with a rambunctious child announcing himself by sprinting ahead of his parents, a tiny suitcase thrashing wildly behind him. His parents lag some twenty to thirty steps behind. Mom appears to be on the phone with some family member making plans while dad pushes a stroller housing a small child with one arm and drags a larger version of the child’s suitcase with his other. Their story is not particularly interesting. I see it nearly every time I come to the airport. Grandma/grandpa/distant cousin Louis has died and the young family has a funeral that they need to go to either out of caring for that family member or obligation to avoid hearing whining from the family members that do care. It’s a coin flip which one is the case.

Behind them, a young woman in sweatpants and a pajama top carries a duffel bag over one shoulder as she stares down at her phone. Her crimson dye no longer covers all of her hair, sandy blonde roots poking out at the base of her skull. She strolls into the Starbucks and takes her place at the back of the line, still deeply engrossed in whatever is featured on the screen in front of her. This type of traveler is growing increasingly common. While I certainly find myself doing this on many of my own trips, it’s much harder for me to imagine their story when my view of them is nothing more than a face and a screen in the crowd.

After a short lull in the early morning foot traffic, I’m greeted by my first real opportunity of the morning. A middle aged couple — at least I presume they’re a couple from their matching non-corporate suitcases and laptop bags, similar styles of wedding rings, and general disdain for one another — came walking up the ramp that led to my area of the terminal. The woman walked five to ten steps ahead of the man, her pace only slowed out of annoyance when she allowed him to catch up.

The man’s name either Oliver or Shithead. I assume the former, though the woman referred to him by the latter much more frequently. If their roles were switched — the woman looking frightened in the face of a truculent man verbally berating her — it’s likely that one of the several passersby in the airport would have said something. Instead, everyone looked at the couple with worried eyes and scared faces.

Oliver took a seat on the ground near the giant window between gates D21 and D23 that overlooked the tarmac. He shouted after the woman — her name was Amelia — asking her to get him a coffee, black with sugar. Whether or not she heard him was unclear. Amelia joined the line at Starbucks, three people behind the crimson haired girl. Through all the shouting, said girl was the only person that I noticed who didn’t look up at Amelia and Oliver. Personal sound bubbles created by headphones are a hell of a drug.

A giant blue, red, and yellow plane tail made its way past the window, driving its way down to a gate further along the concourse. Oliver’s head turned to follow the plane’s path, watching it until it made its way out of sight. As his head turned all the way to the left, I noticed a tear rolling down his face, hitting the shoulder of his gray t-shirt. Oliver opened his laptop bag and pulled out a small bottle of pain killers. He popped the lid off, dropped two of the pills in his hand, then quickly consumed them.

I heard a gabby pair of gentlemen walk out of the McDonald’s behind me and make their way back toward the main concourse area. The taller of the two men — a slender fellow with ash brown hair and a black duster — paused their walking by elbowing the shorter man in the arm. The tall main pointed towards Oliver with two fingers, leading the shorter man to nod and walk off without the taller man. The tall man removed his coat, folding it over his arm, and begin walking towards Oliver.

At first glance, the tall man looked like an odd cross between on Old West gunfighter and an evangelical Midwestern preacher. I blame the duster. But the more than I looked at him, the more he seemed like a kindly person than either of the negative stereotypes he initially appeared to be. The man walked over to Oliver, held out his hand, and helped Oliver to his feet.

Oliver began talking to the man, though from the distance they were away, I couldn’t make out anything they were saying. Oliver mostly nodded, the corners of his mouth fighting their hardest to avoid being in a frowning position. He sighed heavily and sat down in a nearby chair, holding his head in his hands. The tall man stood closer to him, placing his hand on Oliver’s back and rubbing it in small, circular motions lightly.

After a few minutes, Amelia exited the coffee shop, a cup of coffee in each hand, and walked toward the window. She handed Oliver his coffee, then began talking to the tall man. I wondered if she would continue her shouting at Oliver in front of the man or not. It was clear that she didn’t have — or at the very least chose not to use — the restraint not to do so earlier. Would she do it when she was more than just a (very noticeable) face in the crowd?

Instead, after a brief conversation, Amelia handed her coffee to Oliver, then wrapped her arms around the tall man and hugged him. Their embrace didn’t last long, though it was evident that there was some sort of pre-existing relationship between the two of them. My best guess would have to be that the three of them were mutual friends at some point in the past, though at this stage, the tall man was much closer to Amelia than to Oliver.

As I watched their embrace, I had failed to notice that the shorter man from before had taken a seat the table beside me. He wore a black suit with a white shirt and silver tie. On the left side lapel of his jacket, he wore a small pin of an orange fox. The shorter man too was looking on, watching this scene from afar.

“What’s going on over there?” I asked him as I took a sip of my coffee.

“Who?” he asked, “me?”

“Yeah. Do you guys know the lady that was screaming at that man earlier?”

“Kind of,” he replied. “The man over there holding his jacket is the head of Cyngreen Research.”

“The company trying to find out how to access the Halycon Realm?”

“That’s the one. He’s always trying to meet people he runs into that don’t act like typical humans.”

“Hoping to meet a being from Halycon?” I asked.

“Precisely.”

“Any luck?”

The shorter man shuffled in his seat and smiled as he turned towards me.

“Of course,” he replied. “Where are you flying to today?”

“Boston.”

“What a coincidence. How would you like to join us for dinner? We’d love to hear more about the Halycon Realm from someone who is from there.”

I laughed to myself as he reached out his hand to shake mine.

“You have a good eye,” I said. “How about Al Dente in the North End. 7pm?”

“It’d be our pleasure, mister…”

“Ka’la Banon.”

NaNoWriMo Tips: You Did It! Now What?

Welcome to the final post of my NaNoWriMo tips series. For other tips in this series, as well as a schedule for future posts, take a look at the links below. Today’s tip and my discussion of it can be found immediately below the schedule.



First off, it’s time for some really large font and capital letters. Because caps lock is cruise control for cool.

CONGRATULATIONS! YOU DID IT! YOU WON NANOWRIMO!

The fact that you were able to finish a 50,0001At least. word novel in 30 days is a really exciting achievement. I know that I was incredibly excited — and somewhat relieved — both times that I finished. It felt like this immense weight was lifted off of my shoulders. It wasn’t a bad weight either. Just a weird, oh lord, did I just do that, kind of weight.

We’ve reached a point in the NaNoWriMo process that I admittedly know very little about. That is, what should you do after NaNoWriMo. You’d think I’d know a lot about it, having won NaNoWriMo twice before. With that said, I’ve done the same thing following the project both times — in that I’ve done nothing. If your entire goal for NaNoWriMo was to just see if you could write your novel during these thirty days and nothing more, that may very well be the best follow up for you. You’ve completed your project, you don’t plan to do anything more with it, so sit back, get yourself a celebratory dinner, and enjoy the fact that you did it.

What I’ve found is a bit more common amongst those who participate in NaNoWriMo is that they want to do something

I will say that my personal recommendation — regardless of what you’re looking to do as follow up with your story — is to take a little bit of time to relax before you get into whatever it is you’re doing with your story next. Remember: you just wrote 50,000 words or more in 30 days. Even taking a day or two off to relax can be refreshing, giving you the energy to help take on whatever your next task is with your story. Making progress is important, but so is your mental health. Don’t neglect the latter in favor of the former.

I Want to Edit My Book

For a first-time NaNoWriMo winner, this is likely the most logical next step to your journey. Since you wrote your story so quickly, there’s likely a lot of work you’ll need to do on it. How much you do in the editing process, particularly if you don’t plan to publish it, is somewhat up to you.

One of the best articles I’ve read about self-editing a book comes from New York Book Editors. I’d encourage you to click on the link in the previous sentence and give that a read if you plan to do any level of editing to your book. In addition to what they say in that post, I’d offer two pieces of advice that have helped me when I was editing.

First off, focus on minor edits such as typos and consistency within individual chapters. While this is admittedly a smaller part of the project, you’ll find that you’ll be able to make a ton of progress just within your first pass or two in the book from this strategy. Second, take a look at your book from a broader view and see if you can keep track of the various plot lines in the story. This will help you to identify if you’ve been consistent throughout your story, not to mention potentially identifying plot holes you may have created in writing quickly.

If you plan to get serious about your editing — particularly in anticipation of publishing or self-publishing — I’d strongly recommend hiring an editor. While I’m an editor myself — and I’m currently available for a limited number projects if anyone needs their NaNoWriMo book edited – I actively sought out an editor when I was going through the publishing process for my first book. When you’re self-editing a book, there will b

I Want to (Self?) Publish My Book

In a probably-not-all-that-shocking statement, publishers and self-publishing sites get flooded with new content following NaNoWriMo by authors looking to get their book published. As you might expect, this can not only cause publishers to be backed up in reviewing content, but they’ve also commonly needing to review poorly written, lightly edited works that aren’t fit for publishing.

If you’re serious about publishing or self-publishing your book, I encourage you to take your time. Be thorough about your editing, beta reading, and what not as I mentioned above. Find someone you’re willing to pay for good cover art. Give things a little time to die down following the NaNoWriMo rush. I’ve talked a bit about my self-publishing experiences in the past here if you’re curious, though I’d encourage you to seek out other authors on Twitter (such as Eve Jacob and Rebecca MacCeile) who have gone through the self-publishing process for their thoughts as well.

I Want to Lift a Character from My Book for a New Book

This strategy is admittedly one of my favorite things to do with short stories. I’ve taken characters from various short stories and turned them into a basis for my 2011 and 2015 NaNoWriMo projects, as well as my current work in progress. It’s a fantastic strategy, as it lets you do a trial run with the character prior to doing a full-fledged story with them.

Someone recently alerted me to the idea of potentially using your NaNoWriMo project as a way to trial various characters that you may want to use in a later story to see how you feel about them. Basically, you take a side character from your NaNoWriMo project, then make your next book or short story a focus on them. I hadn’t really thought about this potential angle for a project in the past, however I do think it could have some benefits. The only potential downside to this is that you did just write a 50,000 word story as a trial for a character that might not have even been the main character of that story. So long as you’re okay with that, I say go for it. While I’ve not tried this longer path to developing a character myself, I will say the turning a short story character into a novel character has worked amazingly for me. I’d have to imagine this idea would work well too.

I Want to Turn My Book Into a Series

One of the best NaNoWriMo books I’ve read was the 2011 NaNoWriMo book by my friend Erin. She posted it chapter by chapter on her blog2Just as I did with mine that year. and by the end of the month, I was clamoring for her to do a sequel to the book3Mostly because I really wanted to know how the ancillary characters in the book were going to deal with the fallout of the death of one of the book’s two main characters.. Though Erin hasn’t yet done a follow up to that story4Possibly because she killed off the functional main character of the story., there are tons of people who use NaNoWriMo as a springboard to writing a series of books. 

Turning a book into a series can be a great idea, however if you went into this NaNoWriMo without much of a plan as to what you were going to write about, I’d strongly encourage you to take some time to make a general plan of where you’re looking to go with your series, its plot, your characters, and any other relevant information you’ll need to make your NaNoWriMo project into a series. I recommend going through a bit of editing of your original manuscript prior to trying to start that series as well, as the edits you make may help drive the direction of your series (not to mention your edited story).


Thank you so much for reading the posts that have been part of my NaNoWriMo Tips series. This was a lot of work to put together, but it was definitely worth it. I do want to give a thank you to various folks who helped me with this series in some way5Intentionally or otherwise., be that promoting it, reading it, or anything else.

  • /r/nanowrimo
  • Erin M.
  • Eve Jacob
  • Rebecca MacCeile
  • C. Laidig

Finally, I want to give a huge thank you to Stephanie for hearing me out and helping me think through this series from the beginning, even when it was just an idea that had no footing. Her guidance to the word vomit of ideas I sometimes spit out is invaluable. I don’t think most of the writing I do — particularly my fiction writing — would have as coherent of a thought process as it does without her input.


Like my NaNoWriMo tips series? Have questions for me about the topics posted daily? Do you just want to talk about your story and have nowhere else to do so? Leave a comment and join the discussion.

Support my writing on Patreon by pledging at this link.

NaNoWriMo Tips: Ending Your Story

Welcome to the penultimate post of my NaNoWriMo tips series. For other tips in this series, as well as a schedule for future posts, take a look at the links below. Today’s tip and my discussion of it can be found immediately below the schedule.



It’s so close you can nearly taste it. The sweet smell of victory is less than 48 hours away. You’ve been writing since the beginning of November with one goal in mind — to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. But in addition to that, if you’ve been sticking with a theme running through these posts, you’ve likely spent the better part of a month writing the story that you w

That means that you’re to the two parts of the story that are, in my opinion, the two most difficult parts of the story to write: the climax and the ending. I’ve grouped them both together for purposes of the title of this post, but that’s only because ‘climaxing your story’ sounds more suggestive than it likely is. Unless your NaNoWriMo project is erotica, in which case, more power to you. Climax the hell out of your story.

For most of you1And even those of you writing erotica, I would assume., however, the climax and ending of your book are likely going to be different pieces. Those who strictly follow the five act dramatic structure will recognize that the climax precedes your ending (also known as the denouement), with the falling action in between then. That said, the chart you’ll see describing this structure could lead you to believe that the climax occurs in the middle of the story, with the falling action comprising a good portion of the book leading up to the ending.

In practice, however, the climax, falling action, and denouement can all occur over the final 3-5 chapters of a book. One of my favorite recent reads — An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green — begins its climax2Or at least what I could say is the climax of the book. approximately 91% of the way into the book, with the denouement not beginning until the book was 96% completed3I’m going off of the page numbers and percentages from my Kindle app, so this is a rough estimate.. I’ve read several books in recent years that follow this similar pattern, where the climax to the story doesn’t hit a peak until the story is over 80% done, only to then have a short falling action and a relatively short ending.

If you’re writing a story that is intended to have a sequel to it, this isn’t necessarily a bad route to go. You can afford to keep your ending a bit shorter if you’re planning for a sequel, because you can take advantage of cliffhanger or ambiguous style endings to build anticipation for your follow up book. With that said, if you’re looking to make your NaNoWriMo piece more of a standalone story, it might behoove you to extend the ending of your story by a little bit to tie up any loose ends to your story.

With that being said4><~~_, how do you differentiate the items that you should tie up in your climax versus what you should finish talking about in the denouement of your story? While the answer to this question might not be a cut-and-dried answer, I do have some thoughts where you might be able to draw the line.

Items to Tie Up in Your Climax

  • Your primary conflict: While this likely goes without saying, if there’s a problem your main protagonist(s) has been facing throughout the story, the climax is the place to wrap it up. This is likely slaying the big bad or overcoming some sort of adversity for the final time in the story, however, it could also include some of the following items.
  • Your protagonist’s primary lesson: If there’s something your main character is supposed to learn over the course of the book — be it the power of friendship, some moral lesson, that it’s okay to use an illegal kick because no one likes Cobra Kai5Except me. — now is the time for them to use that lesson to resolve that conflict.
  • Final deaths: If anyone else needs to die in your book, now is likely the best time to finish killing them off. There’s an outside chance you can get away with someone dying in the falling action, but they’d likely have to be someone that has been redeemed throughout the climax, now dying as a hero instead of as a villain. Think Darth Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi.

Items to Tie Up in Your Ending

  • How your main character has changed after the climax: Do they live happily ever after? Did the group of rag-tag heroes that came together to deliver swift justice decide that they’re going to stick together? Did all the pets finally get back home? This is a great time to exposit what happened after that dramatic climax.
  • Planting the seeds for a sequel: If you’re wanting to give your book a sequel, now is the time to leave some ambiguity in your ending. While you don’t need to introduce a new conflict here, making it feel like someone (likely your protagonist) has unfinished business gives you a springboard with which to start your next project off of.
  • The final feeling for your book: How do you want the reader to remember the last few pages of your book? While most stories end on a happy or hopeful note, that might not be what you’re going for. My 2015 NaNoWriMo project had a very bleak ending, however considering the climax that had preceded it, I could have written it much darker. Do you want your reader to end the book with a smile on their face? In tears of sorrow? In tears of joy? Create that lasting final scene here.

Like my NaNoWriMo tips series? Have questions for me about the topics posted daily? Do you just want to talk about your story and have nowhere else to do so? Leave a comment and join the discussion.

Support my writing on Patreon by pledging at this link.

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