WIP Update #4

Inner monologue: It feels like progress on my book has been going really slow. I can’t imagine what I’d even have to talk about since the last time I wrote a formal WIP update post.

*re-reads the last update post*

Inner monologue: Oh. Shit. There’s actually been progress for once. Well, let’s get to it.

This post is both a long time coming and yet a post where I feel like there’s still a long way to go. There’s been a lot I’ve done on my book since February — some of which I’ll be discussing in greater detail in this post. However, to quickly summarize, I have done the following since my last post about my work in progress:

  • Finished the first draft of the book
  • Written a preview scene for the sequel1More on this further down. to the book
  • Finished a second draft for the book
  • Torn apart my book with my editor/creative director/whatever she is2Hi again.
  • Finished a third draft for the book
  • Had a mental breakdown about a lot of things3This actually happening more than once, but only one of those times did it lead to me venting about my frustrations with writing. which manifested itself in a mental breakdown post about writing
  • Drew* out what some of the characters in the book looked like
  • Plotted out the basic premise of the series that will (hopefully) come out of this book

I’m writing this post in early July, so it’s certainly possible I could add something to that list between now and when this post goes live mid-July. That said, even if I make no changes to the above list4Note: I made no changes., that’s still a ton of shit I’ve gotten done.

As I mentioned before, I was debating whether or not this was going to be a series. I’ve ultimately decided that there will be a series coming out of this book, which has meant a good bit as I was going back and editing, particularly when working on draft number three. Oddly enough though, had I decided against making this a series, it really wouldn’t have changed the ending to this book all that much. Because of the sci-fi setting this book takes place in, there’s a lot that was left to the interpretation of my mind more than anything else. As this relates to the ending of my work in progress, it allowed me to have the kind of ending I wanted to the book regardless of the route I ended up choosing.

You may have noticed on the next to last point that I have an asterisk next to drew. This is because I have a bit of a unique problem when it comes to art. Specifically, I suck at art. That said, I really wanted to be able to have some context for what my characters looked like beyond what was in my head. So I did what any rational person who was bad at art yet has access to a computer would do: I created my characters in The Sims 3. I’m not quite ready to post those character mockups on here yet — mostly because I want to do that once the book goes into the beta reading stage (or shortly thereafter). That said, I did share a couple of them this month for my Patreon subscribers, so…hint hint.

I already plan to do a whole post about the editing process once that’s done, however, I do want to take a moment to call out a specific part of the editing process that I didn’t expect to go through. I’ve been doing a lot of reading this year across various genres, reading a bunch of books that range from amazing to absolutely horrid. Nearly every book I’ve read this year has caused me to re-think some part of my work in progress. In particular, Every Tool’s a Hammer by Adam Savage caused me to really consider how much I’m working in conversations that don’t advance the plot of the story but serve to add depth to characters. As someone who loves books that do this, but am not always the best about it myself, it was a great reminder to have.

At this point, I’m probably still at least one draft away from getting beta readers for the story. With that said, when I am ready, I’ll be holding a call for beta readers on this blog (and maybe on my Twitter) after offering to some folks who have already expressed interest in doing so. Hopefully the beta reading experience will be good, as my only experience for it comes from short stories rather than a full novel.

That’s all I have to share for an update for now. My hope is to have an additional update by the end of the year, though I’m not particularly sure exactly what the timeline will be. Thanks for sticking around during the long time that this story has taken. I’m thinking it’ll be worth everyone’s patience.

The Hard Role of the Reviewer

For reasons I’ve yet to be able to explain, I’ve seen an uptick in folks I know talking about the process of reviewing books. I don’t know who patient zero for this epidemic was, however, I do know that I’ve seen this topic come up from a lot of people recently. In these threads/discussions/videos/Twitter rants/etc, there have been two primary items that I’ve seen being discussed.

  1. Should you tag/make authors aware of your negative reviews of their work?
  2. Can you review something objectively when your like or dislike of the work isn’t necessarily reflective of the quality of said work?

I wanted to take a moment to talk about these two ideas, both from the perspective of someone who is an author, as well as from the perspective of a reviewer. I swear the fact that I had a book review come out last week wasn’t intentional, though it was a nice lead into this topic.

Should You Make Authors Aware of your Negative Reviews?

Short answer: As a rule, no, but it depends.

Long answer: As humans, we aren’t particularly good at taking criticism from others well. While there are individuals that we may be more receptive to criticism from, it’s still not a particularly ideal experience. One of the things that I think people fail to realize when they write a book for the first time is that the book is no longer yours once it’s published. While you may still be the author of the book, the content you write now belongs to your readers. Some of your readers will not like your book. That’s just the hard reality of being a writer.

One of the first books I ever wrote a review for was a book I got for free in exchange for the review. I didn’t like the book. At all. But I was probably much harsher than I needed to be in my review. And I made the mistake — again, this being my first review — of tagging the author on Twitter and publicizing my negative review with them regularly tagged in my tweets. In retrospect, it was a shitty thing for me to do as a reviewer. While it was my first review that I’d ever written, I failed to consider the human impact of sharing with the author how much I disliked their book.

At this point, you’d think it’s a pretty cut and dry line that you shouldn’t share a negative review with an author. And once the book is published, I think this is true, particularly if you’re trying to get publicity for your own review based off of the author’s fame. So when is there an acceptable time to tell someone you don’t like their book? I feel like the obvious answer here is if you’re asked for any negative feedback prior to the book being published. If an author is trusting you enough to request your feedback prior to a book getting released to the public, provide whatever feedback you can to help them. It ultimately will make their book a better finished product. That’s not to say to be a jerk about your feedback. Trust me, as I’ve done that and it hasn’t gone well. But pre-publishing feedback is extremely valuable.

This is not to say you can’t have a negative review of a book. If you didn’t like a book and you want to leave a negative review on Goodreads, Amazon, your own blog, or somewhere else, that’s totally fine. Not every book is for everyone. Authors do read reviews of their books. I know that while I haven’t taken every piece of negative feedback I’ve had to heart, I have made an active effort to learn from that feedback and become a better writer because of it. As a rule of thumb, I’m much more willing to listen to a negative review that’s kind than one that’s inflammatory.

Can You Dislike Something and Still Find it Good?

I used to have a much more black and white answer on this question than I do now. The strange thing is that I’ve swung around to both ends of the spectrum on this answer, all before landing somewhere in the middle. Allow me to dissect where I stand on this by looking at the example of three different books/pieces I’ve read over time.

One of my least favorite books of all time is a book I had to read in high school called Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. I can objectively look back at the book and say that it makes a ton of great points about environmentalism, upcycling, and sustainability. That said, even after a re-read later in life, I still dislike the book. Perhaps it’s because it was a required reading during a year in high school where all of the readings felt forced (more than normal, that is). Maybe it’s because my initial reading of the book came at a time where I disagreed with much of the book’s premise, tainting my perception of it well after my world view has changed to fall more in line with the book’s points. Whatever it is, reading Cradle to Cradle is still painful for me, even though I can objectively say the book isn’t bad.

On the other side of the spectrum, I’ve read a good amount of fan fiction that would, by many standards, be considered to be terrible writing. That said, I love them. For example, I will read most RWBY fan fiction, regardless of how fan service-y it gets. I can objectively say that some of it is bad. But that doesn’t mean I enjoy reading it less. Even writing styles that get scorn for other reasons like erotica can suffer this same fate — the reader can enjoy the work even if it’s not Dickens-level writing complexity.

With that all said, there are situations where a piece of literature may be well-written or have other positive qualities, but because of the author that penned the piece, there will be an inherent dislike for that work. In my most recent Q&A podcast, I talked about how Anthem by Ayn Rand became this for me once I learned more about Rand, however she is certainly not the only example of this. There’s a surprisingly high number of people who can write a coherent book (or at the very least have hired someone who can do so) while themselves being disgraceful individuals. Although I do try to separate author from work when writing reviews, there are situations that are too egregious to do so.

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 of5I 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 scarce6For 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.

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 50,0007At 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 blog8Just 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 book9Mostly 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 story10Possibly 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 way11Intentionally 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 you12And 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 climax13Or 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% completed14I’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 said15><~~_, 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 Kai16Except 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.

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