Short Story Sunday 141: Sunday Morning

            It was such a long week for Amy. This was the first year the Christmas holiday was going to be spent at her house. It was her idea to host the holiday. Usually Christmas was spent at her mother’s house, but unfortunately this was the first Christmas without her mother. Her older sister lived two hours away. She didn’t want to host it because it made more sense for her to come to them rather than have the whole family go to her house. Amy’s younger sister lived in a one-bedroom apartment that could barely fit herself and her cats. Her brother still lived in his dorm at college.

Amy wanted to do Christmas, even though she didn’t have much of a choice to begin with. She was excited to carry on some of her mother’s traditions as well as make her own with her kids and the family as a whole. However, she didn’t realize how much stress was going to come along with it.

Normally Amy just had to bake a couple of Christmas pies to bring to her mother’s house and shop for gifts from her, her husband, and the kids, to everyone else the family. Once that was done she could focus on shopping for her own children from Santa.

Amy worked full time while the kids were at school. She had school hours so she was able to be home when the kids were home, but unless she was able to get a babysitter, she couldn’t do much shopping or preparing for Christmas while she and the kids were home together.

Jim, her husband, went away for a business trip the end of the first week of December. Normally he was around to help her out, but it was either he went on the trip then or he wasn’t going to be home for Christmas.

So it was a week before the official holiday. Amy was running around like a headless chicken trying to get the house in order—cleaning, getting the decorations put up, baking, and cooking. She also had so many errands to run—buying gifts for everyone, getting ingredients to cook and bake, and getting even more decorations if need be. Oh, and a gingerbread house. The kids suddenly wanted to start a new tradition and build a gingerbread house with their cousins on Christmas morning.

As soon as Jim made it home from the airport, Amy gave him a quick kiss hello and then goodbye as she dropped the kids on his lap and she ran for the door. She shivered as she sat down in her car. She immediately turned on the heat and her seat warmers rubbing her gloved hands together.

Christmas was in a week and the temperature was ridiculously low. The least the weather could do was make it snow. All her mother ever wanted was a white Christmas. Sometimes she got it, sometimes she didn’t. Since she wasn’t going to be there, Amy wished it would snow so bad.

The mall was mobbed as it always was the week before Christmas. Amy circled around the parking lot for about twenty minutes before someone finally pulled out of their spot and she was able to nab it before any other cars came circling around. She pushed and shoved her way through the various stores as people brushed by her on either side. Sometimes she would get stuck walking behind people who moved as slow as a snail muddling through peanut butter. Then she would get really frustrated.

And the traffic. The traffic was always horrendous no matter where she was going, no matter what time of day it was. While she seemed to always be in a hurry, she dealt with the traffic. There was no sense in getting upset over something she couldn’t control, but it always angered her when other people would lay on their horns or block intersections simply because they were too impatient to wait another round of red lights.

Day in and day out for the whole week before Christmas, Amy constantly ran errands, tried to keep up with the cleaning of her house, and tried to bake and cook some food in advance. She was always cold and she hated the cold weather. If she was going to be this cold, then the weather should have the decency to snow.

Not that she particularly cared for snow, either. She hated shoveling, hated brushing the snow and scraping the ice off of her car, and hated it when the kids had snow days.

Yet, every morning she looked out her window and frowned when she realized there was no snow on the ground for her late mother.

Christmas Eve came sooner than Amy hoped it would. She and Jim took the kids to church and then they went home to eat dinner and watch a Christmas movie. They then hung all their stocking up by the fireplace, set out the milk and cookies for Santa, and then Jim and Amy tucked the kids into bed, who were all too excited to sleep.

Amy always waited about two hours before placing Santa’s gifts under the tree. She wanted to make sure the kids were truly in a deep sleep. She couldn’t trust any of them.

She would take that time to do any extra wrapping or baking for the following morning. She would spot clean the house to make sure that it was fully prepared and in ready condition for the mob of company that was going to walk through her front door around noon that next day.

It was well past midnight when Jim put a hand on her shoulder. “I’ll put the presents under the tree. You go to bed.”

Amy had five more cupcakes to frost. She let out a massive yawn. “In a minute,”

“No, you said that two hours ago. Go to bed.”

Jim untied the strings from the apron Amy was wearing. The apron had her name stitched in the middle, though it belonged to her mother, the first Amy.

Jim brought the apron up and over Amy’s head and she stuck her tongue out at him as she continued to frost the cupcakes. Jim took the spreader out of her hand and placed it down on the counter. Then he took the cupcake and put it back on the cooling rack.

“Go to bed.” He said in a more stern tone.

Amy sighed, defeated. She’ll just have to set her alarm for an hour earlier so she could finish up. No big deal.

The moment Amy laid in bed and her head hit the pillow, she was immediately out cold.

She awoke the next morning, not to her alarm, but to Jim standing over her with a large mug of steaming coffee. Amy sat herself up rubbing her eyes.

“What time is it?” she goaned.

“Six in the morning. I started to hear the kids rustling upstairs, so I thought I would beat them to waking you up.” Jim replied handing her the coffee.

Amy took a sip and then her eyes grew wide. She looked at the clock. “I set the alarm for four-thirty!”

“I know. I shut it off.” Jim chuckled. He sat down on the edge of the bed slurping his own coffee. Amy could smell the French vanilla wafting from his Santa mug.

“Why would you do that?” Amy glared at him.

“You needed the extra rest. It’s Christmas, you need to relax. I thought I would let you sleep in as much as you could before the kids pounce on us.” Jim explained.

Amy sighed. She knew he was right, but there was still so much that she had to do.

“I finished everything for you last night.” Jim put a hand on her knee knowing exactly what she was thinking. “Now, before we go get the kids and surprise them that we’re actually awake before them, go look out the window.”

Amy’s eyes grew wide again. Oh, no, had their company already started arriving? She wasn’t even dressed!

Amy pulled the blankets off of her lap and stood up from the bed. She gripped onto her reindeer mug tightly taking little sips as she walked over to the other side of her bedroom. She pulled the blind up and gasped.

Jim smiled. “Merry white Christmas.”

Words: 1,395

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Short Story Sunday 140: Snowstorm

            It was the week before winter break. All the kids in school were getting antsy anticipating the long awaited holiday vacation. They were rowdy and weren’t learning anything new as they were too excited to pay attention to anything their teachers said.

Actually, their teachers were too excited as well. They knew the kids weren’t going to learn anything the week before a school break and they were done as well. They didn’t want to teach, so most classes were watching movies or just playing games throughout the school day.

It was pointless, really.

The parents, on the other hand, were not as excited as the kids and teachers. The parents had enough to do throughout the house as they prepared for the holiday—baking, shopping, wrapping—it was a stressful time especially when you were working on top of it and had little kids running around the house with no homework to keep them busy.

So when the last Monday before break rolled around, you can only imagine the look on Angie’s face when she woke up that morning to the world completely covered in white.

And the snow was still falling.

Angie gasped as she looked out the window. She knew the weather called for snow overnight, but she didn’t think it was going to be this bad. There had to be at least six thick inches covering their yard. She couldn’t even see her car.

How was she going to get the kids to school?

Then a thought struck her.

Angie ran out of her bedroom and into the kitchen turning on the TV. The news immediately popped up and sure enough, the weather man was on. He was exclaiming about how surprised even he was that so much snow fallen overnight and it didn’t look like it was going to end anytime soon.

Then, Angie noticed, at the bottom of the screen, names of the schools in the state scrolled horizontally. And of course, the schools her kids attended were certainly on the list.

On that Monday, the kids were excited, but they were relaxed. They were just giddy to have a pajama day. They sat by the fire watching movies most of the day. It wasn’t too bad for Angie. She was still able to get things done around the house.

On Tuesday, the snow was still falling. The kids remained in their pajamas still as it was too cold for them to go outside and play. They drank hot chocolate, played board games, and played with their toys while Angie continued to prep for the holiday.

On Wednesday, the kids were starting to go a bit stir crazy. The snow was still falling and Angie was worried about them going outside in case they somehow managed to bury themselves. Plus, it was too cold and if she was to be completely honest, she didn’t want to have to deal with the snow pants and boots. She didn’t want to put them on, track snow through her house, take them off, and wash them. Then she would have to make hot chocolate again because, to the kids, that was a requirement to going outside and playing in the snow.

On Thursday, the snow still fell from the sky, but it was lighter now. The kids were going completely crazy so Angie finally gave in. The kids needed to get outside as they had been cooped up in the house for three days straight. Plus, she still had some baking to do.

When Friday came along, all hope was lost. Angie was still stuck in the house with the kids. While the snow had stopped, there was just too much of it to bring the kids to school. The schools closed due to the snow and there wasn’t much point in going in for a half day before vacation.

After lunch on Friday, Angie sent the kids outside to play. The sun was shining, but the snow didn’t seem to be melting. It was still pretty cold and there was too much snow that it was hard to tell if it was really melting or not.

Angie sat at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee in hands. She sighed happily for the little peace and quiet she was going to get all winter break. The kids had already done everything they possibly could do before the vacation even started.

She just had to hope now that their presents would be enough to keep them occupied until school started again.

And for no more snowstorms.

Words: 760

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Short Story Sunday 139: Smile

            If you’re having a bad day, all it takes to make it better is for someone to be kind and hand you a smile. If you’re having a good day, all it takes to make it a little brighter is for someone to be kind and smile. It works both ways.

I was heading to the dentist and dreading it. I never enjoyed going to the dentist. I’m pretty sure no one really enjoys going to the dentist. I didn’t like the noise or the smells of the office and I certainly didn’t like the feel of it on my teeth.

So when I parked my car I sat in the front seat for a couple of minutes. I was a bit early for my appointment and even though there was a slight chance that they could take me early and I would get it over with, I just didn’t feel like getting out of the car. So I sat on my cell phone for a little bit.

When I finally did get the courage to head into the building, I noticed an older man sitting just outside the front door. He was in a wheelchair looking up at the sky. A younger woman dressed in scrubs sat behind him on the rock wall talking on her cell phone.

I was going to just walk right on by, but the man and I made eye contact. Not even thinking, I gave him a smile. Stranger or not, whenever I lock eyes with someone I always smile at them. I don’t know why, it’s just something I’ve always done.

“Hi, how are you?” he smiled back at me.

“I’m good. How are you?” I said politely, but kept walking. I slowed my pace to give him a chance to respond, but I wasn’t about to stop.

“I’m good, thank you.” He replied looking happier than anyone else would if a stranger spoke to them.

I went into the dentist not thinking anymore of the conversation that I just had. I checked myself in to the receptionist when I made it to the waiting room. I waited for about ten minutes, went in, got my teeth cleaned, and left. It was just like any other dentist appointment and I was glad that it was over for another six months.

When I walked out the front door of the building I noticed the nurse was gone, but the gentleman was still sitting at the end of the walkway.

We didn’t make eye contact this time, but as I walked by him I smiled and said, “Have a good rest of your day.”

The man looked at me as though confused. Then he smiled back. “Thank you,” he said sweetly almost surprised that someone was acknowledging him. “You have a nice day as well.”

“Thank you.” I gave him a nod and continued on my way.

As I walked back to my car I wondered what he was doing out there. Was he just out for a walk and trying to get in his daily dose of sunshine? Was he there for his own dentist appointment and was waiting for a ride back home? Where did his nurse go and why did he need a nurse in the first place? Was he a part of an assisted living place? How often did friends or family visit him?

I wasn’t sure why I was thinking so much on it, but I was happy that I seemed to be able to make him happy while he sat outside, no matter what he was doing or why or what kind of a mood he was in. I felt as though I brightened his day.

I started the engine and pulled out of my parking spot. The lot was a one-way place so I was going to drive by the old man on my way out of the parking lot. I wondered if anyone was going to pick him up anytime soon, even though I had just walked by him just two minutes ago.

Sure enough, when I drove by him, he was still sitting there. I took my hand off the wheel and waved to him with a bright grin on my face. He saw me and his face lit right up.

He waved back to me giddily.

I wasn’t sure what that man’s story was, but I think I made his day a little brighter regardless. If I did, that made my day a little brighter too.

So, if you’re in a good mood, share a couple of smiles. It works both ways.

Words: 767

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Short Story Sunday 138: Packing

            Jen and her boyfriend, Rick, were going away on their very first week-long trip together. They were celebrating two years of dating and thought it was about time they start moving things forward. Jen thought about moving in together, but before she could say anything, Rick suggested going away for a week. She agreed only because it would be good practice to live together and it would be nice to get away.

They were going to a cottage by a lake a few hours away from their hometown. Jen couldn’t wait to sit on the porch and watch the sunrise, lounge on a raft in the cool water, and snuggle up on the couch watching movies after dark.

As much as she anticipated it, she hated the packing part. They were leaving the next day and she still had yet to pack her things. Instead, Jen made a list of everything she needed to bring, plus everything she wanted to bring. It was more fun to make the list than it was to actually put it all together.

So, the following morning, Jen woke up extra early to get her packing down. She needed it to be done before Rick swung by to pick her up and he was coming to get her in two hours. That should give her plenty of time to gather her things together, right?

Jen opened her bedroom closet and pulled a large duffle bag down from the top shelf. She put it on her bed, unzipping the top main compartment. She pulled the side apart allowing the bag to open as wide as it could. She stared at the empty space with her fists on her hips. It was finally time to shove as many things as she possibly could into that one bag.

Grabbing her list from the top of her dresser, Jen read aloud to herself. “I need seven shirts, seven pairs of pants, seven pairs of underwear…”

She pulled open a couple drawers in her dresser and pulled out various articles of clothing. Jen pulled out seven tank tops.

No, what if it rained? What if it got chilly up there?

She put three tank tops back and pulled out two t-shirts and one light long-sleeved shirt.

No, now that didn’t make any sense. What if it was really hot the whole week they were up there?

She tossed the seven shirts she had into her duffle bag and took out the three tank tops she put back and added those back into her duffle bag. Ten shirts should have been plenty. But now that she was thinking about it, it probably was bound to get chilly at night by the lake. So, she went into her closet and pulled out a sweatshirt tossing that into the bag as well.

Now Jen needed pants. She grabbed four pairs of shorts, realizing that was all the shorts she had. She pulled out three pairs of jeans and then realized she would be far too hot in that. She put one pair of jeans back and pulled out two pairs of yoga pants. They weren’t shorts, but they were lighter than jeans. She tossed those eight pairs of pants into her duffle bag.

She grabbed ten pairs of underwear. Being a girl, she figured she might as well bring extras just in case. Jen only grabbed two bras. If they were going to be in the cottage most of the time, she probably wasn’t going to wear one anyone. It would be too hot and uncomfortable. She hated wearing them to begin with.

Jen looked back at her list and checked off her shirts, pants, and underwear. She added the sweatshirt onto the list and checked that off as well. Then she grabbed three bathing suits, three beach towels, her cover-up, and four pairs of pajamas.

On top of all her clothes, she looked down at her feet. “Well,” she said out loud to herself, “I’ll be wearing my flip-flops so I don’t need to pack those… I do need sneakers, though!”

Jen grabbed her best pair of sneakers in case they went out hiking or she just needed more support on her feet. Then she also grabbed a pair of her nicest flats and heels. What if they went out somewhere fancy? Speaking of that, she should grab a nice blouse and a skirt just in case.

Jen added another outfit plus the extra pairs of shoes. She smiled at her bag satisfied.

She used all her might trying to compact all the clothes into that one duffle bag. She pressed down using the palm of her hands as hard as she could. Jen grunted and groaned as she fought to zip the bag back up.

Then she realized something. Socks.

Jen sighed and upzipped the bag just enough to pack the socks in. She didn’t want to have to fight to close it again. She stuffed eight pairs of socks into her duffle bag and then closed it all the way again.

She stared at the fat bag sitting on her bed. She smiled and looked at her list again. Wait. She still needed to pack her hairbrush, extra ponytails, hairspray, her hair dryer, her toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash (she rarely flossed and used her mouthwash, but she figured she should bring it just in case!), her loofa, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, her razor, shaving cream… Well, pretty much everything in her bathroom.

Then what if she wanted to read a book? She’d have to bring a couple in case she finished the book up there or wanted to read something else. What if she wanted to write love poems to Rick? She was going to have to bring a notebook—actually, bring a few in case she filled the notebook up—and a couple of pens. Well, she would need about three of each color. A variety in colors was always fun and any of them could run out of ink.

She needed to pack a Sudoku book. What if they wanted to work on a jigsaw puzzle? She needed to bring her movies and she needed to bring a lot for a good variety of choices. What if they didn’t have a coffee maker? She might as well bring her machine along as well. She’ll have to bring the coffee. That would be easier than going to store up there and buying it. Oh, and her favorite mug! She’ll have to bring that as well.

Finally, Jen went back over to her closet and took out a suitcase. She was going to have to fill that one, too.

When the two hours was up, Rick pulled into her driveway. He beeped the horn for her to come out and when she didn’t, Rick unbuckled his seat belt and went up to the front door.

The door was unlocked, so he let himself in. There, sitting right in front of him in the mudroom, were five bags. He heaved a sigh.

“Jen?” he called.

Jen came clomping down the stairs with yet another bag, though this one was smaller than the rest. “Hi, Honey! I didn’t know you were here.”

“What’s all this?” he pointed to the bags

“Oh, I packed for the trip.” Jen grinned.

“Jen, we’re going for a week, not a month.”

“Oh, I know that! If we were leaving for a month, I’d need to go to the store and get some more bags.”

Rick sighed. Whatever. He wasn’t going to argue with her. He picked up two of the bags and nearly fell over. “Seriously, what did you put in here?”

Jen bit her lower lip. “You probably don’t want to know…”

“You do know I only have a small Camry, right?” Rick raised an eyebrow.

Jen pressed her lips together. She nodded and smiled sheepishly at him.

He sighed again. “Okay, let’s go… I think you forgot one thing though.”

Jen shut her front door behind her and her eyes grew wide. “Oh, no, what?”

“The kitchen sink,” Rick grunted limping towards the car with two of the five bags in hands.

“Oh, crap!”

“You’re not bringing the kitchen sink!”

“No, I actually did forget something…” Jen frowned. “My wallet is in the house…”

Rick stopped in his tracks and stared dumbfounded at her. “Well, go in and get it then.”

Jen looked down at the ground. “And, uh… My keys are in there as well.”

Words: 1,414

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NaNoWriMo 2016: Week Two Recap

So, the second week of NaNo is over. That was a thing and it happened.

NaNoWriMo 2016 Week Two Recap

Word count

8. 2,402
9. 2,026
10. 10,095
11. 2,066
12. 4,584
13. 2,097
14. 2,110
15. 2,120
Week Two Total: 27,500
Overall Total: 44,268 (19,268 words ahead of schedule)

I kept up my streak of writing 2,000 words a day. Week two is usually the toughest because of the “slump,” but I was lucky and actually had three days off from work. I was able to get in a little extra writing done on each day.

On the 10th, I had the house to myself and no work so I challenged myself to write 10k that day. And I met my goal! That extra boost of words have helped because I’ll reach 50k a lot sooner than I originally thought.

Short stories

 

I have 14 short stories left to write, which mean I’ve written 38. When I first started this I thought each story would be about 1,000 words so I would end up writing 52,000 words during the month. A handful of stories turned out to be about 2,000 words long while others were about 500 words.

This isn’t a big deal, but if I stuck with my 1,000-word rule, I’d have about 8 stories left to write as opposed to 14. In other words, my Short Story Sundays for next year will be well over 52,000 words. I wonder how much of it I’ll get done by the end of the month?

 

The process

 

I think I’m starting to slow down a bit… Especially after that 10k day I think my mind is screaming at me. But I’ve been staying strong! Writing has continued to go pretty smoothly.

Week three

I would like to finish all 52 stories by the end of the month if I can. However, keeping up the 2k a day, I’ll reach 50,000 words on this Friday, the 18th. I still want to write a little bit every day for the rest of the month, but I’m not going to force myself to write 2,000 words every day if I don’t have the time or just don’t feel like it.

I want to keep the routine and hopefully finish the 52 stories, but it won’t be as big of a priority. I’m usually pretty good at balancing NaNo and life, but this month has been so crazy compared to past Novembers. I’ve had a lot of family events happen so balancing that with NaNo and then everything else. (Like blogging… I’ve neglected all my fellow bloggers and totally ignored everyone’s posts this month… sorry, guys!)

How is NaNoWriMo treating you? Are you enjoying your writing project so far? Let me know in the comments! 

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NaNoWriMo 2016: Week One Recap

A week has already come and gone for NaNoWriMo. Can you believe it?

I can’t.

NaNoWriMo 2016 Week One Recap

Word count

1. 2,309
2. 2,073
3. 2,067
4. 2,198
5. 4,035
6. 2,031
7. 2,055
Total: 16,768 (5,101 words ahead of schedule)

My daily goal is to write at least 2,000 words. I’ve been pretty consistent sticking to that. Day 5 was Saturday and Double-Up Day. I double my daily goal and reached 4,000 words within three hours. It was a very productive day!

Short stories

I didn’t keep track of how many stories I wrote each day, but I’ve written a total of 14 short stories out of 52.

I’ve been aiming for each story to be about 1,000 words long. Most of them are, but there are three or four stories that are 2,000 words long. There’s also two or three that are less than 1,000 words. One is actually a poem instead of a short story that one reached just shy of 200 words.

I figured out all my prompts before NaNo started so I’ve been jumping around and writing these stories out of order. I have Short Story Sunday written for all of January and February. March is almost done and then I have a story or two for some of the other months.

The process

Writing has been going smoothly. Like I said, I have all the prompts assigned to a date. I’ve been jumping around and writing the prompts that I feel like writing first instead of going in order of the dates. I think that’s been helping me keep up the momentum of writing every day.

A couple of the short stories I absolutely love and I think they may even be novel ideas someday.

Week two

This first week went so well. I have a few days off of work in week two, so I think I’ll be able to write more this week than I did last week, even though week two is considered “the slump” week.

How is NaNoWriMo treating you? Are you enjoying your writing project so far? Let me know in the comments! 

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Story Stats

Last week I gave you guys an update on my NaNo session. I mentioned I had a lot of editing to do.So here’s what I’m working on (or plan to be working on)

I have too many ideas swirling around in my head that usually when I finish the first draft of something I decide to go ahead and start on the next project.

The upside to this is that it keeps me writing. I rarely come across writer’s block and I always feel accomplished when I finish another first draft of a novel.

The downside to this is that I never fully finish anything. I never really get to the editing part.

Editing is hard and there are sometimes when I try to avoid it at all costs. I have to be in the mood to edit. Yet, when I do edit, it turns into proofreading and I make notes of what I should edit for the “next draft.” So I essentially just put it off until the last minute.

So that’s what I meant when I said that I have a lot of editing to do. I never actually do it.

I have so many ideas and so many novels started, but here are the ones I’m the most serious about:

George Florence – A mystery novel. I’m deep in the editing stages of this one. I’ve been writing, editing, and rewriting this novel since November 2013. This is the book I hope to publish sometime in the near future. The editing has been going well overall, but there’s a lot to it (as this is one book one of a series) so it makes my head spin. I’ve not only been just editing this one but trying to plan the other books as well to make sure the timeline matches up. I’m hoping to start querying this novel come January 2017.

The Lost Girl – A fantasy, Peter Pan retelling. I wrote this novel for Camp NaNoWriMo in April 2016. While there are 50,000 words into it, the story itself isn’t fully complete and I know I’m going to have my editing cut out for me. My ultimate goal for this novel is for it to be edited and published to Wattpad by June 2017.

Hunter – A fantasy novel. I started this novel for Camp NaNoWriMo in July 2015 and finished it during July’s 2016 Camp. This is book one of a trilogy and I originally wrote the very first draft (the novel is much different now) for NaNoWriMo November 2011. I have no real deadline for this novel since the other two are my priority at the moment, but once George Florence is edited and being queried, I’ll most likely start getting real serious about this novel.

Take Over – A young adult novel. I wrote this standalone novel a long time ago. It’s always been in the back of my mind to complete the editing stage and publish it. Again, I have no real deadline for this one because I want to work on the other novels first, but this there in case I need a break from the others. Eventually, I would like to get this published. Maybe I’ll even self-publish it to get my foot in the door.

Editing is a lot and is tough. So to take a break from that and to keep on writing, I’ll be working on short stories in the meantime. I need quick stories for my Short Story Sunday feature and would also like to submit to contests and magazines.

So that’s where my work stands at the moment. There are plenty of other novels I would love to work on and beginning writing, but I think I have my work cut out for me at the moment.

Wish me luck!

How are your projects going?

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