Main image for Undo

I finished writing Undo, my debut fiction novel, in September 2021. It's currently with beta readers and I cannot wait to bring it to a wider audience!

Corey lives in Morley, Oregon. His family is well known for winemaking and ranching in this rural Willamette Valley town. After tragedy strikes, he discovers a device that allows him to jump back in time. Will the power of undoing his actions get him what he wants? Or, does Corey learn there are some things you cannot fix?

I wrote the book between January 25 and July 9, 2021. I'm capturing the weekly progress of editing, proposing, and sharing below.

Progress, Visualized

  • On average, I wrote 677 words per session
  • Between January and July, I wrote 79,266 (99%) of the planned 80,000 words

Editing & Marketing Dispatches

September 3, 2021: Beta Readers

I have some pretty awesome people rolling up their sleeves to beta read my book. This feels exhilarating! And terrifying. But mostly exhilarating. I'll be pausing updates during this time, and after beta readers are done, I'll be synthesizing their feedback and making adjustments. Then ... it's query time! Exciting. See you on the other side!

August 27, 2021: Next Week's the Week

I'm right on schedule to finish the rough edit of my Undo manuscript, and then it'll be ready for some beta readers. Steady progress this week. I'm pretty excited about that. Summer is drawing to a close way too soon, though. My oldest has already started back at college, and my youngest is about to start high school again. Can we slow things down, just a little bit?

August 20, 2021: 500k

I'm right on schedule to finish the rough edit of my Undo manuscript, and then it'll be ready for some beta readers. Steady progress this week. I'm pretty excited about that. Summer is drawing to a close way too soon, though. My oldest has already started back at college, and my youngest is about to start high school again. Can we slow things down, just a little bit?

August 13, 2021: Dog Days

These are hot and humid times where I am, but far from lethargic. I'm keeping up with getting back into running, doing some biking, and spending my weekday mornings with a half-hour of editing, as has been my custom since I wrapped the first draft of my novel. I'm excited for beta reader feedback in the coming months!

August 6, 2021: All That Summer Has to Offer

How is it that another week has gone by? Unbelievable. As with last week, I was able to spend four mornings editing. It's honestly delightful, to read my book with somewhat fresh eyes. I might even pick it up this weekend (shocker) and do some editing then. We'll see how many other projects keep me from doing that. Hope y'all have had a great week and are enjoying all that summer has to offer.

July 30, 2021: Assuming the Role of the Reader

I split this week into book proposal preparation (my book about remote work tips) and editing this book. Once I got the latter printed out properly, it was a pleasure to sit back and assume the role of the reader. I'm about 45 pages in, taking time to mark up things I need to update, but mostly enjoying the act of reading. Looking forward to picking it all up again next week!

July 23, 2021: Shifting Gears

I assembled and printed my book out for the first read-through and rough edit. Now, I just need to make the time to sit down and do it! I shifted gears a bit this week, working mostly on preparing a proposal for my [#365DistributedWorkTips project]( It’s just the kind of blogs-to-books content that I think people will love if I can find the right match.

July 16, 2021: No More Counting

No more word counting for me. Now that the book is substantially complete, I spent my writing time this week getting into editing. First, I assembled all the sections into a single document to help with finding and replacing, and ran the whole mess through Grammarly. That picked up a bunch of formatting things that were easy to fix. I probably need one more day to go through the chronology and make sure it all squares up. Then, it’s off to print it and give it an initial read-through. I’m sure next week will be filled with more rough editing and writing a few more paragraphs, but I’m excited that it’s almost ready to share out to others for an early read!

Writing Dispatches

July 9, 2021: That’s a Big Milestone

Whoa. I FINISHED my book! This morning I wrote the last paragraph, but I’m going to have to pause the celebration just a bit. There’s still my own editing to do, then getting some beta readers to help point out where it can be even better, and then … who knows? It was a pleasure to get this story out of my mind and into a book, and it’ll be even better to have others experience the roller coaster I’ve written. Let the editing begin!

July 2, 2021: Four-Day Work Weeks

Just four days of writing this week. Monday is a special day in the summer. Last year, I took a bunch of my vacation days and filled summer with 3-day weekends. I’m doing the same this year, so this week marked the beginning of a 10-week stretch of 4-day work weeks. It’s nice to have that bonus day off each week, especially while the weather’s nice and the days are long. The end of this book feels like the last miles of a marathon. It feels like it should be over already! I’m still making steady progress, and I’m looking forward to being able to read it in its entirety and roll up my sleeves on editing.

June 25, 2021: Comfortably Sitting Upright

Morning writing felt SO good this week. After not being able to write for 3 of 5 days last week, I welcomed the chance to comfortably sit upright for a half-hour each morning, as has been my routine for most of the year. The book is coming to a close soon. I’m writing the culminating scene now and can then start in on the closing act before getting into editing. There’s still a long road ahead, but the miles pass by with every new day now. Soon I’ll be getting to where I started heading so long ago … with another published book. It’s so exciting!

June 18, 2021: Tunnel o’ Pain

Well, this was certainly not the greatest week for writing. I got through Monday and Tuesday, setting up the story structure for the last part of the book and making some progress on the narrative there. Then I underwent planned hernia surgery Tuesday afternoon. I thought I’d feel well enough to get some words down during the balance of the week, but this morning I likened recovery to a tunnel that I had to get through. I’m just not in the right frame of mind to write right now, though I’m grateful to be in less pain and greater mobility than Wednesday morning. This weekend will put me over the top, so to speak, so I’m really looking forward to getting back at it on Monday morning!

June 11, 2021: Wistful for the Ride

As you near the end of any journey, you can start to feel wistful for the ride. I’m already feeling that way, though I have 20% more to write before I can start to edit this book and get it into some beta readers’ hands. That’s going to be the hard part: editing, marketing, and publishing. But that can’t erase how these writing mornings have felt. As an author, I’ve enjoyed escaping to my made-up world and having my conjured characters do what they will. I know that my future readers will have ten-fold pleasure in having this world and its inhabitants unfold in front of them as they read page after page. We’re getting there, folks. We’re getting there.

June 4, 2021: Gratitude for the Craft

Well, that’s another solid, consistent week of writing. Morning time continues to be prime for helping evolve my story. Just one more act to go and then I’m in the last quarter of the book. I think it’ll end up a little longer than I’d planned, but that’s what editing is for, right? I have a same-day surgery coming up in a little more than a week. It’s been a long time since I’ve had anything medical going on, so that’s been weighing on my mind the past few weeks. I’m grateful that there are talented surgeons here and the best technology, and I probably won’t have to skip a beat with morning writing given how the timing is working out with the procedure and recovery. This is a good thing because writing is the silver lining in every single day.

May 28, 2021: Wayfinding

It’s been quite a week. Some high word counts are because I was able to repurpose some narrative from my first draft. I’m closing in on the last section of the third quarter of the book. It’s the low point when all is lost and you have to wonder, “How do they get out of this?” I’m looking forward to writing some of these upcoming scenes. We all wonder how we’re going to get out of “this” — whether “this” is a job-related issue, a medical malady, or a complication in a relationship. The magical part about this literary situation? I get to hold the flashlight as my characters figure their way out of this. We’re going to get them from a pit of emotional darkness back to the light. It’ll just take a little ingenuity, some creative wayfinding, and a few clicks of the cap.

May 21, 2021: First Thing Monday Morning

The beginning of this week crawled by, but the last few days have felt like a whirlwind. The weather has turned uncharacteristically hot, and the basil, tomato, and pepper seedlings I started inside are now secure in their new garden homes. Everything’s growing so fast! The morning constant, and the most satisfying part of my day has been the modest about of writing I do before anything else. I do take a break on the weekends, and resuming writing on Monday morning again is one of the few things I look forward to about the beginning of the workweek. I hope you all have wonderful weekends. I, for one, will enjoy my relatively unstructured time and look forward to picking up my story first thing Monday morning.

May 14, 2021: On Lengthening Days and Storylines

Well, it’s been quite a week. Writing went really well, with a mixture of surgery on my first draft content and writing new storylines to go with the arc of this new and improved version. The world in my book is looking a bit different. Conflict is heightening — and the storyline is deepening — just as the outside world is changing. The leaves on the trees are bursting out of their buds, daylight hours are lengthening, and my little tomato, basil, and lettuce plants are almost ready to be transplanted into the garden. Add to that the CDC guidance for the vaccinated to resume mostly mask-free life, and you’ve got a recipe for hope. And, my wife and I are about to enjoy a weekend evening away at a bed and breakfast. All good things, indeed.

May 7, 2021: Second Dose

I got my second dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine Monday afternoon. I write every weekday morning, and I closed the lid on the midpoint section of the book during Tuesday’s session. The next 25% of the book needed some thought organization before I rolled up my sleeves, so I planned to dedicate Wednesday morning to that. Tuesday was horrid. Not long after finishing writing, I became nauseous and felt really lethargic. I spent most of the day curled up in bed, unable to focus long enough to read or watch television. I did get out for a run to clear my head, but it felt more like a death march than a workout. So I was incredibly grateful when the malaise retreated about bedtime on Tuesday night. I felt focused enough to do the planning work Wednesday morning (no words), and Thursday’s session included a section I’d already written in my first draft. Now I’m off to the races again, working steadily through the next section.

April 30, 2021: The Ride

The fun and games in my book are just about over and I’m about to crest the midpoint of my plot. It was a great writing week, and my two and a half hours of disciplined writing yielded some pretty good material. My characters are really coming to life, at least in my head. I’m a runner, and I like to think of fitness analogies. One that maps pretty cleanly to writing is training for a race. In my experience, the rewarding part of the journey is the training. The race — be it a 5K, marathon, or ultra — is the icing on the cake. But the real reward is the process. I feel that way about these morning writing sessions. It’s a time of day that’s all mine. I am not distracted by anything. I’m not beholden to anyone. I’m free to go wherever I want, simply by writing words on the page. The destination will be a sweet reward, for sure, but right now I’m really enjoying the ride.

April 23, 2021: Midpoints

I’m getting to the midpoint of my story. Midpoints are turning points, and I have a feeling that the next few weeks of writing are going to be really enjoyable. My characters’ personalities are starting to come out, too. Here’s an excerpt from this week’s writing:

I wondered if I could do something like that. Cheat, on that scale. As I thought about it, though, that ugly feeling came back to me, the one that I had after I’d cheated on the test. Was it fair? Was it right? I looked around again at everything that Paul had built, and I thought about my own circumstances. I was growing up in this wonderful place with some pretty amazing people as my family and friends. You bet it felt right.

Outside, the weather’s been whipsawing between 60-degree days and sub-freezing snow, but mother nature’s about to make up her mind. It was odd to mow the lawn mid-week and have it covered with snow last night. The week ahead is more temperate and the days are getting longer. And, the writing shall continue. All good things.

April 16, 2021: On Germination

It was another really fun week of morning writing. I am at a really engaging part of my story: the good times are rolling and there’s plenty of fun and games. Drama’s on tap and it all makes for rollicking good fun in the creative side of my brain. I’ve been watching seeds germinate and grow in my utility room, too. As the garden gets ready to receive them in a few weeks, I can’t help but draw parallels between those seeds and writing. Day by day, they get fractionally taller, and months from now, they’ll tower over their former selves. Same with my book. I look back and see a fantastic foundation, and the evolving story ahead will complete the towering structure I’m after.

April 9, 2021: Content Massaging

I’ve been enjoying the cooler mornings and warmer afternoons this week, and the sun rising a bit earlier than normal. I continued writing every morning for a half-hour, and some of the days were really high word counts from massaging prior content into my new story structure. Writing came easily this week, and Thursday’s contribution was mostly new content. I have to tell you, though, that I have really been needing weekends lately. They're a time for running, recharging, exhaling, and perhaps a little landscaping. Monday will be here soon enough, and with it, more writing.

April 2, 2021: Go Big Red

This week started off relatively warm and ended up below freezing with snow. By the end of the weekend, we’ll be back into temperatures more suitable for April, and for getting outside a little bit more. Such a study in contrasts. Higher word counts continued as I got to reuse and edit some of what I’ve already written, but a few of the days had me ripping through fresh material, too. I love the discipline that writing at my dining room table, distraction-free, affords me. Distractions can come as I close my iPad and get up for a second cup of coffee, but not before.

We’ve been watching closely watching Big Red and Arthur, Cornell’s red-tailed hawks. Big Red laid the third of her eggs yesterday, amidst the snowstorm, and I couldn’t help but draw parallels between what this pair of hawks is doing and my writing. Though, I’m writing from a far more comfortable place, not a frigid, windy light tower above Cornell’s athletic fields. The incubation period, though, that’s the parallel. I feel like I need to put massive trust in the process: that if I pay enough attention to this project, day after day, it’ll bear fruit. Just as Big Red knows instinctively that keeping her eggs warm and safe will bring her babies. This book is my baby at the moment. I’m just going to keep her warm and protected as she grows, and when it’s time, we’re going to publish this thing. Onward!

March 26, 2021: What would Corey do?

Wow, that was quite a week. The higher word counts are mostly because I’m dealing with story details that have mostly been written. It’s fascinating to look back at that “shitty first draft” and see it for what it is, though. There’s some really good stuff in there, but some of it deserves a gut renovation. It’s really coming together, though. I think one of the pleasures I’m enjoying at the moment is not projecting myself onto a character, but instead projecting the character onto the character. My hero, Corey, has a specific personality and set of values that are not quite like my own. So I find myself asking, “What would Corey do?” It’s kind of up to me, but it’s mostly up to him. And that’s fun.

March 19, 2021: Overwhelming

Another solid week of writing. To be honest, this week at work has been a bit overwhelming. The saving grace is that I’ve still been writing as the very first thing I do every day. Soft light shines from the corner of my quiet living room as I sit at our dining room table. I tap softly on my iPad Pro’s keyboard and enjoy the first cup of coffee of the day. It’s not stressful at all. I started working on the next sprint in my story, a goal of 7-8,000 words. Friday’s session was really fun since I was able to reuse and adapt a lot from my original first draft. Some good scaffolding there. There’ll be more (anomalous) sessions like that, but in general, I’ve stuck to my batting average.

March 12, 2021: Carrie

Carrie cut my hair on Tuesday. Usually, we talk about kids, coronavirus recovery, or local gossip. This week, though, I offered that I was committed to writing for a half-hour each morning. Her ensuing questions led me into an exposition of why I love to write, and in particular, the book I'm working on right now. I enthusiastically talked to her for at least 10 minutes about it. I shared how wonderful it is to be writing in a world of my own design. I shared how interesting it is that I have my own specific view of the setting of the book, though she, having read the same words, would likely have a totally different mental view of that world. I shared how wonderful it would be to take this book 'on the road' to share it with kids who read it as part of their school's reading challenges. And after this week, I'm 2,626 words closer to that goal. Onward!

March 5, 2021: New Project, New Progress

I resumed writing my new book on January 25. Since then, I've been writing without fail for a half-hour every weekday morning. I pour a cup of coffee, open my iPad Pro on my dining room table, set a timer on my watch, and write for a disciplined half hour. When the timer signals I'm done, I've consumed most of the cup of coffee and advanced my progress by a little more than 500 words.

By my calculations, I'll be done with this by mid-September. I cannot wait for you to read it! I'll share more in future posts, but here's a fun paragraph from one of the opening chapters.

He was right. I did like it and told them so. Snowball is a variation on dodgeball. It’d been in the news at least a year ago now, where “big thinkers” in academia said that dodgeball was just a thinly-veiled way for bullies to exploit the weak in a very public, athletic setting. Yeah, right. What sport doesn’t pit the strong against the weak? In snowball, you got some extra chances to stay in, unlike dodgeball. Get hit once, you get on your knees. Get hit twice, you’re out. But, if you catch a ball when you’re down, you’re back in the game again, able to stand up. A second chance. I like second chances.