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3 short stories in 30 days

That was the plan for Camp NaNoWriMo, and though I hit one of my major targets, I completely missed the other… Still, they’re new words I didn’t have a month ago!

How it all started

G B Ralph - Rise and Shine Stories - placeholder cover image
Rise and Shine Stories
Project placeholder cover image
Camp NaNoWriMo (April 2022)

I thought it’d be fun to revisit the boys from Rise and Shine, my gay romcom series!

I have so many ideas that never made it into the books and was keen to pick a bunch and write them up. But I’ve got more ideas than I know what to do with, and I only wanted to focus on the best ones. And so I asked the wonderful people on my mailing list to pick their faves (more on that below).

Anyway, once I’ve written, edited, and polished the stories, I plan to send them out to those on my mailing list for free 🙌 A little thank you for coming along with me. (Psst, you can join in too, also for free, if you like).

This was my first attempt at Camp NaNoWriMo, and I’d planned to write three short stories of approximately 5,000 words (i.e. 15–20 pages) each, which set my target at 500 words per day for the month of April.

If you’re interested, I go into the details in this post from the start of the month.

Selecting which stories to write

My thinking was that these short stories would slot in before, between, and after the events of the published books. That’s four in total, but I thought if I could get three done during Camp NaNoWriMo then I could catch the last one in early May.

I pulled together this little series timeline which I hope gives you a better idea:

Rise and Shine series timeline - with novellas and short stories placeholders

I already knew what I wanted to write for the first story (the morning before Duck and Dive starts) and for the final story (after the events of Over and Out, when Gabriel meets Arthur’s parents at Christmas dinner)…

But I wanted input on the short stories sandwiched in the middle, so I asked those on my mailing list: What do you want to read? What more do you want to find out? Are there any secondary characters who you think need their own time in the sun?

Here are the six options I suggested. I knew they’d all be fun to write, but I wanted to know what readers were most interested to read.

  1. Nora, the cheeky octogenarian. A nightcap with Nora? Gossip at the hairdressers?
  2. Valentine’s Day date night, including a visit to Gabriel’s housemate’s art exhibition.
  3. Patty, Arthur’s nosy neighbour. Chaos at the bake sale? Setting up her niece (Samantha) with Arthur?
  4. Gabriel’s big move from his little home town to the big city.
  5. Sharon, Gabriel’s insufferable landlady. Her mischievous cats sabotaging her date with the plumber?
  6. Arthur’s day at work and Gabriel’s day at uni.

What short stories came out on top?

The results came in, and it’s clear most readers wanted to hear more from Arthur and Gabriel, with the top three options all focusing directly on our boys! Over 50% of respondents wanted to hear about Gabriel’s big move to the city and the boys’ Valentine’s Day date – so that’s what I decided we’d do!

Rise and Shine Stories - voting results graph
Note: it was multi-choice, so that’s why it doesn’t tally up to 100%.

I’ve updated the Rise and Shine series timeline below with the selections:

Rise and Shine series timeline - with novellas and short stories

And how did it go?

I kept track of my daily progress in a Twitter thread – start here at Day 1 and then just scroll on to see the ups and downs (and also the days-long plateaus!).

As you can see, I mostly kept my actual word count (blue line) above my month’s target word count (grey line):

Camp NaNoWriMo (April 2022) overall progress (daily word count chart)

You may also notice a couple of serious flat lines there i.e. zero-word days! The first I blamed on driving for six hours, catching up with family over wines, and lavishing my niece with love and attention. Her name is Penny, and she is pictured here on lookout duty:

Penny on the lookout

Then, to follow up my zero-word Good Friday, I humbly returned to Twitter a little later to announce three more zero-word days…

I assigned 90% of the blame to puppy dog eyes, and the remaining 10% to family catch ups, dinners, drinks, eating chocolate, walks, and helping family move house.

Anyway, that’s enough excuses for one post, so I will wrap it up by saying that I hit my total word count target of 15,000 words (yay!) but I also only finished two of the three planned stories (not so yay!). Still, apparently I scored this winner’s banner:

Where does that leave me now?

Here’s the status of the 3+1 Rise and Shine Stories:

  • 0.5 (The morning before): first draft done (~6,000 words).
  • 1.5 (Gabriel’s big move): story plot selected by readers (thanks!).
  • 2.5 (Valentine’s Day date): as above.
  • 3.5 (Christmas dinner, meet the parents): first draft done (~9,000 words).

What’s next?

I’ve jotted down my plans for the story featuring Gabriel’s big move, and I’ll write the first draft of that over the next week or two. Then I’ll get stuck into Arthur and Gabriel’s Valentine’s Day date story.

I’m hoping to have these final two done by the end of May, then it’ll be time to get into editing and polishing up all four short stories, ready to send out to my mailing list subscribers!

If you want to make sure you get them all (for free!), jump on my mailing list – I’d love to have you on board!

And, if you haven’t already, you can find out more about the Rise and Shine series right here.

Rise and Shine – Book One – Duck and Dive cover image
Rise and Shine – Book Two – Slip and Slide cover image
Rise and Shine – Book Three – Slip and Slide cover image
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