That Tiny Website — Short Stories, Video Games, and Freelance Editing

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WIP Update #5/NaNoWriMo Update

This is going to be a combined update for a couple of different writing-related items at this point, as I felt like neither of them were long enough to warrant their own post at this point. That said, both were important enough that I wanted to be able to post about them on the blog.

In September, I asked many of you (both here and on Twitter) to give me your thoughts as to what topics you’d like to see if I did another NaNoWriMo Tips series this year. I got a lot of good ideas for what topics I could potentially talk about and even had started talking with a couple of different folks about potentially guest blogging for the series this year, as it seemed like a good idea.

I also recently wrote this short story that I really liked. In rather exciting news, it seems that a lot of you liked the story as well — which is great considering that the story itself is intended to very much be an introduction to what would likely be a larger story, if not a full novel. I took a poll asking people whether they’d rather see me do the NaNoWriMo Tips series again this year or if I should do the full version of this story on my blog for NaNoWriMo.

The results of the poll are irrelevant for reasons I’ll get into momentarily. The story won by a decent margin (69%-31%). But that’s not the reason I’m writing this post.


I’ve been working on my current work in progress novel for quite some time now. I’ve written four different posts to this point sharing where I’m at in the process of getting it to the point where I could look to publish it, all with varying levels of working having been done when I wrote said posts. In my most recent WIP post, I went through this long list of things that allowed me to get to the point where I had written three drafts of the book. Within that list was a note mentioning how I had a mental breakdown that led me to write a blog post about the duality of writing. Even still, there was a footnote buried in that list1I use the term buried loosely here. It’s obvious the footnote was there. That said, I know full well most of the views I get on my posts come from folks who don’t click on the footnotes. I’ve looked at the data. mentioning how this wasn’t just a one-time occurrence. Granted, the breakdown that led to that post was a one-off, but the act of breaking down was not — and is not — an isolated incident for me.

I’m finally starting to get the help I need to be able to deal with some of the stuff that caused everything I described in the paragraph above. I’m sure it’s going to be a long process — mostly because I’m already realizing there was a lot more that I need to work through than even I initially realized — and I’m not particularly ready to talk about it here yet. That may well be something that happens in the future. After all, the whole reason I started blogging/writing back in 2009 was because of a suggestion given to me by the therapist I had gone to see then when I told her I couldn’t afford to come to our second appointment. But that time likely isn’t any time soon.

That said, I bring all of this up because of something that happened somewhere along in the process of finally reaching the point of realizing that I need help. I found the place from which one of the characters in my book is coming from. I admittedly didn’t expect it. The character isn’t necessarily the character I was looking to continue building on in the next draft of my book. But at the same point in time, doing so not only makes a lot of sense to me but feels a bit more meaningful.


I say all of that to say I won’t be doing NaNoWriMo Tips in November of this year, nor will I be starting a NaNoWriMo project based on the short story linked in this post. If you’re looking for NaNoWriMo help, I would encourage you to pop over to r/nanowrimo on Reddit, as it was a great resource for me last year. I likely will still turn that short story into a book in the future, as it’s a story that has existed — at least in part — in my head for nearly six years now.

This November will be dedicated to working on my work in progress and helping to build it out to where I want it to be. I’m hoping that between whatever notes my editor has for me by that point, my own quick plot consistency review I’ve been working on, and the newfound voice for one of the story’s characters that this edit will go a long way towards getting my work in progress to a finished product.

NaNoWriMo Tips 2019

Last October and November, I took on a project that I admittedly didn’t expect to gain much traction. I wrote a series of posts giving advice to those who were participating in NaNoWriMo 2018. As someone who has participated in NaNoWriMo on three different occasions — and finished it twice — I felt like I had a lot of advice I could share that could be beneficial to someone participating for themselves. Much to my surprise, the series went over well, with four of the posts in the series making my top 20 posts of the year despite being published with two months (or less) left in 2018.

I wanted to get a bit more of a headstart on the project this year, however, I also wanted to try something new in the process. What I’d like to do is to see what those of you who are considering participating in NaNoWriMo would like for me to write about. What questions about the month-long writing endeavor do you have?

I’m not sure exactly how many topics I’ll write about this year. With that said, I’ve listed the topics I wrote about last year below. While I’m not opposed to revisiting a particular topic and putting a different spin on it if there’s enough interest, I would like to see what new topics you all would like for me to write about.

If there’s a specific topic you’d like for me to write about, leave me a comment and suggest it. I’m going to work on planning out my post schedule over the next couple of weeks so that I can begin writing them in early October (as I learned last year, this project takes a while).

If you don’t have a topic you’d like me to write about, I would still love to hear what you’re planning on writing about for this NaNoWriMo. Leave your story I’d in the comments. I’d love to talk about them.

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.

NaNoWriMo Tips: I’m Not Going To Make It. Have I Failed?

Welcome to the twelfth1Can we all take a moment to appreciate how weird the English language is? I mean. How the fuck is twelfth a form of twelve? 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.



Today’s post will talk about the one topic I’ve largely avoided bringing up aside from highlighting my own failures and addressing how to avoid them. It’s getting close to the end of November. Including today, you have four days left to write your NaNoWriMo story. If you’re writing based on the average pace needed to finish your NaNoWriMo project (1,666 words a day), this means that you have 6,664 words to go.

That said, if you’re on pace, this post isn’t totally meant for you. For that matter, if you’re not going to finish your story in November, but you are going to hit the 50,000 word count goal within the 30 days, this post isn’t totally for you either. That’s not to say you can’t read the post and get something out of it. If nothing else, stick around and jump in the comments and encourage others. But the post I’ll have that’s more meant for you is coming on Friday2I recognize that’s not in sync with the typical Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday posting schedule I’ve kept for these, but what am I supposed to do? Thirty days hath September, April, June, and NaNoWriMo..

This post is meant for those of you who are coming to the end of the month and are feeling disappointed, despondent, upset, overwhelmed, heartbroken, or frankly, just fucking pissed that you aren’t going to finish your NaNoWriMo novel on time. And although I mentioned a couple of posts back that this series’ post about writers’ block was the hardest one for me to write, this post likely had the most edits to it. That’s because it’s really hard to say the right thing to someone when they don’t reach a goal they really wanted to hit.

When I failed my 2012 NaNoWriMo project goal, it didn’t hit me that hard. At least, it didn’t initially. The idea floated around in my mind for weeks afterwards. While I didn’t finish writing the story in November of 2012, I did work on it regularly throughout December of 2012, as well as January through March of 2013. But then, as you’ll recall from the last post, I gave up on the story because I hated it.

November 2013 rolled around and I didn’t have any free time to do NaNoWriMo. I had just gotten a promotion at my job — one that meant I went from working 40-45 hours a week at an hourly pay to working 60-80 hours a week on salary — and my free time had vanished almost instantly. It’s also one of only two years since 2011 where I didn’t have any involvement in NaNoWriMo at all3Be it as a participant, as a passive reader of someone’s project, or as someone who gave advice to others in some way.. And it didn’t really bother me because I was so busy.

That said, November 2014 was a different story. I did have free time again, so in mid-September or so, I started making a game plan for the story I was going to write. I spent a Saturday afternoon sitting in a Panera near my apartment outlining and writing out a basic plot synopsis, all while coming up with these dramatic, vibrant characters. By the time I left, while I didn’t have a story fully modeled out, I had a great start towards it.

That’s what I’d love to tell you happened. In reality, I opened a Google Doc, wrote down two sentences or so of an idea, plus a short character description for a main character4Though I scrapped the story arc sentences I’d written, I do still have the two paragraph description I wrote for this character saved in my notes. I’ll use her at some point in the future. I think?, then played around on Sporcle for an hour or so until I went home and played video games for the rest of the day. I tried this again a handful of times more before the start of November, only to have the same end result.

I didn’t want to try writing a novel again. I mean, I did. But at the same time, in my mind at that point, I had failed with my 2012 NaNoWriMo project not once, but twice. My initial failure meant I hadn’t met my goal within the NaNoWriMo time limit. Then I had failed again because I had not only given up on my story with a few thousand words to go, I had also come to hate the story itself.

I say all of that to say that I was just looking at things the wrong way, though I didn’t recognize that at the time. Though the fact that I hadn’t finished my novel in 30 days was true, I had managed to turn out a 60,000+ word story with a complex backstory and a fairly significant amount of world building built in. The world building in particular should have been something I was incredibly proud of — even if my characters and the story itself did frustrate me — because it was a tough task that I had never attempted before when writing a story. But I was too caught up in being frustrated with failing two years prior that it kept me from even starting NaNoWriMo in 2014.

So what advice can I give to all of you from my own experiences? While my story isn’t a perfect one-to-one match, I think there’s still some key takeaways that can be made.

1. It’s Okay to Be Mad…For a Little While

If you’re mad or frustrated that you didn’t finish your story during NaNoWriMo, that’s fine. If you have frustration over not meeting your goal, that can be a great motivator towards working to meet the goal eventually, even if it’s not within that deadline. I know I’ve used my own frustrations with failing at projects to do them better the next time I attempt them (or for my next project, depending on the context of the project).

With that said, don’t dwell on your frustration for too long. If you do that, you run the risk of the spiral that I fell into myself in 2014 that I described above. At a certain point, you have to take why you’re frustrated, recognize where that frustration comes from, and make a plan to not have that failure in future attempts, be it with this story or with future shots at NaNoWriMo.

2. Focus on Your Successes

Even if you didn’t get 50,000 words written in November, how many words did you write? 25,000? 30,000? More? That’s a lot of writing! It’s a huge accomplishment to finish NaNoWriMo for sure. But it’s also a big accomplishment to dedicate part (or all) of a month to writing a story.

NaNoWriMo is supposed to be somewhat of a sprint. Authors often spend months or years writing their books. You just attempted to write a book in a single month. And while there will likely be more time you’ll invest into your story if you want to finish it or if you want to do something with it, the progress you made during NaNoWriMo is a great thing. Be proud of yourself.

3. Make a Plan For How You’ll Finish Your Story

If you do want to finish your story out, even after NaNoWriMo ends, great! I’ll be talking more about this specific point in Thursday’s post, though I do want to address for a moment in the context of not finishing your story during NaNoWriMo.

While the concept of getting your ideas on paper within the deadline of NaNoWriMo isn’t valid anymore with the end of NaNoWriMo nearing, the premise that you should get your main story on paper is still valid. Tell your story, start to finish before going back and editing it. Make sure you end your story, regardless of if you’re truly ending the story or setting up for a sequel or series. Then, chart out the steps you’ll take in the plot of your story to get you from where you are right now to that ending. Taking a little bit of time to make this structure (if you haven’t already) can help you to make sure you reach your new goal of finishing, even if it is in a different timeline than you initially planned.

4. Find Someone to Help Hold You Accountable For Your New Goal

One of the hardest thing to do when it comes to writing5Or anything, really. That said, we’re focusing on writing for now. is to stick to goals you make without having some level of accountability towards reaching those goals. In an ideal situation, you’ll have someone close to you who will be willing to help you stick to those goals. If you have that, your solution is simple. Just tell your close person your goal, keep them updated, and stick with it.

That said, if you don’t have someone close to you who cares about your writing goals, this can be a little trickier of a predicament. As much of a cesspool as Twitter can be for various reasons, one of the beautiful things about Twitter is that there are ton of great writers’ groups out there (shout out to Ch21Con) that use Twitter to great effect. As I mentioned prior, resources like /r/nanowrimo on Reddit are great for this as well. You could even try asking in the comments here. If there’s a commentor that has an interest in your story, perhaps they’ll be your accountability person. I might even do it for some folks…though I admittedly can’t take everyone who reads this site. That would just be silly.


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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