Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Challenge Stories and Novels

Doing a Lot of Reading…

At the moment I am finishing up novel after novel for the novel challenge that a number of writers signed up for. Everyone is doing great, getting more than they would have, they tell me.

The challenge goes to the end of this month. I have not sent back many replies yet because I didn’t want my words in any writer’s head. But now, with two weeks to go, I will start sending out the ones I have finished over the next few days. I figure if the writer’s are going to make it, they are already mostly there.

I still have a number of short stories to read from the short story challenge, but not that many and I will finish that up as well in the next week.

I am enjoying reading all the work, to be honest. I am not a copyeditor, just a first reader, and even that I am not that good at because the point of this challenge wasn’t so much to get feedback from me but to see if the writer could either finish three novels in three months or 30 stories in 30 days or 60 days.

As a first reader, I am telling the writers if their story caught me as a reader and if there was anything they could work on in future stories. I don’t really do much, in most cases, to help anyone “fix” anything because I don’t want to be in their work. But I can help writers learn stuff for the next novel or story.

And every short story writer who signed up ended up getting the two online workshops for the work. Well done!

So it has been great fun. A number of people asked me if I would do it again since they missed it in April when I announced both challenges. Answer is “Maybe.” We will see when I get done with the last of the reading.

But honestly, this has been wonderful fun and I have read some fantastic stories and novels. So just “Maybe with a lean toward Possible.”

A fun way to be challenged and get a couple of online workshops in the process and fun for me as well.



All have openings at the moment. Information at

Any questions at all, feel free to write me. And if you are confused as to which workshop to take first, we have a full curriculum posted on its own page. I will be updating the curriculum in September adding in the new workshops.

Class #25… Sept 5th … Depth #3: Research
Class #26… Sept 5th … Writing into the Dark
Class #27… Sept 5th … Business
Class #28… Sept 5th … Endings
Class #29… Sept 5th … Writing Fiction Sales Copy
Class #30… Sept 5th … Writing and Selling Short Stories
Class #31… Sept 6th … Depth in Writing
Class #32… Sept 6th … Advanced Character and Dialog
Class #33… Sept 6th … Cliffhangers
Class #34… Sept 6th … Pacing Your Novel
Class #35… Sept 6th … How to Edit Your Own Work
Class #36… Sept 6th … Writing Fantasy

Writing into the Dark is a new workshop starting in September.



The Universe Between Bundle

I curated this bundle and I had great fun with it.

I loved living in that middle ground. All my writing falls in the middle ground between two places. Every story. Some more obviously than others, but without a doubt, every story or novel that I write, or every book or magazine I edit, falls in the “between” place.

This bundle not only helps a fantastic charity with, but it has some stunning novels by some great writers.

And it has an entire volume of Fiction River. A lot of short stories in there as well.

Give this one a look, folks. I think you will be very happy you did.

You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Thanks for your support.


  • Nicki

    I’m so excited for everyone who was able to participate in the challenge! I hope folks meet their goals, and get value from doing so. 🙂

  • Jeremy Bouma

    Dean—As one of the novel challengers I want to offer a BIG thanks to you for offering yourself to the handful of us who took you up on your challenge. I’m not sure what the experience has been like for everyone else, but it’s been golden—and I haven’t even read your comments yet! Perhaps it’s been golden *because* I haven’t read your comments yet…hehe.

    Anyway, what this experience has done for me is 3-fold: 1) taught me to write my own work to deadline, just as I write to deadline for everyone else I write for as a full-time vocational non-fiction writer; 2) develop the professional discipline to write every day my 2500-3000k words regardless how I “feel” or how fast/slow the words are coming (Lee Childs remark about plumber’s block comes to mind) 3) how to let go of the negative critical voice, trust my happy creative voice and just write the damn thing by writing (mostly) into the dark.

    The accountability you provided by forcing weekly check-ins and the hard end-of-month manuscript turn-in took care of lesson #1, as well as #2. And the nature of the challenge, writing a novel a month (which for me ended up being 70-80,000 words a piece) left ZERO room for self-doubt and quibbling, let alone heavy plotting (even though I did map each novel loosely before each month), and just let my internal Muse carry me where the story went—helping me also learn lesson #2 and then #3.

    Anyway, just want to say this summer has been, in the words of our illustrious president, YUGE thanks to you and your challenge. Can’t wait to read your first-reader feedback starting September 1—and also enjoy my 2 courses as a prize on top of having written 3 full-length novels in the bag!

    Blessings, Dean.


    PS—If you ever do decide to offer this again, I will DEFINITELY be the first to gladly plunk down my $600 again. That is if you let me do another round 🙂

  • Barb

    Almost done with the third, and glad everybody else is slowly getting there too! 🙂
    Looking forward to your comments, Dean, although I might not be that giddy when I do! 😉
    Await novel #3 in your inbox this weekend…