October Update. Of sorts.

… yeah, that did NOT go the way I hoped. I’ve spent all of October in a severe fatigue crash, bad enough that I haven’t been able to write much at all except occasional bits of random fluff. I’ve been over-optimistically hoping that I’d bounce back in time for NaNo, but although I am now doing better, I think trying to launch into my original November plan would be like trying to run a marathon on a half-healed broken leg.

Instead, I think I’ll spend November getting back up to speed in general, and working on CC and fanfic like I had originally planned for October. I’m toying with doing prompts for Starborn like I did for Kestrien last year, but I feel like I’ve got enough to be getting on with for a month. And I really want the first CC book finished by the end of the year.

Perhaps I will hold my own private NaNo sometime at the start of next year! The space gays are still calling me…

September Writing and Projects Update

(What happened to July and August, Helen? Good Omens happened, and then specifically Pray for Us, Icarus happened and devoured my soul. However I did also move CC on by 10k and in a new and exciting direction, somewhere in the midst of the haze of angsty AU vibes.)

I have a mad plan, or possibly a genius strategy, I’m not sure which. I find myself very tempted by NaNoWriMo this year. Specifically I’d really like to blast the first Starborn novel and get some sort of feel for the story, even if I end up scrapping everything I write on that first go. But as usual, I’ve got multiple in-progress projects that could really use another 50k added onto them, particularly Celestial Chronicle (50k would finish the first book, easy) and I am unsure of my own ability to write a complete original novel in just 50k.

But I have discovered over the last couple of months that now my health has improved and I’ve got back into the habit and enthusiasm of writing, my speed is way up, and 50k in a month is no longer a particularly special goal. So here’s what I’m thinking: spend October finishing the first book of Celestial Chronicle (and writing Instructions Not Included, which has been a bit neglected due to the aforementioned AU) and then spend November completely obsessed with Starborn to see if I can get something out that’s more in the 75k-100k range. I just really, really need/want to write “Disaster Gays Rescue Sad Bisexual From Poor Life Choices IN SPACE”, but I keep getting stuck on the worldbuilding/storytelling balance with it. For a fast burst in something like NaNo, I’m willing to be utterly shameless in just stealing plots and tropes from other things, which may in turn give me more of a structure to build on during a rewrite.

(I am currently playing Subnautica, a survival/exploration game with some absolutely lovely ecological worldbuilding, but perhaps more importantly for this particular context, it features a Good Old Sci-Fi Standby plot: ship crash on planet, other ship go to investigate, that ship also crash, Weird Alien Shit. I am eyeing this plot thoughtfully and considering shoving it into a sack and throwing it at the Disaster Gays. I mean, Starborn is meant to be that kind of series anyway, it’s practically built from the ground up on all my “distress beacon/lost ship/abandoned colony” scenarios I have sitting around in notes files. Maybe I should just dive right into it.)

Anyway, that’s the plan. Casually finish a novel (and a novella if we count INI), casually launch self into attempting to write 75-100k in a month. No pressure.

P.S. I now have a Ko-Fi and a Patreon. There’s not much going on at the Patreon yet but I’m considering posting snippets of the NaNo attempt during November, if I get any interest. Any support is appreciated, as I am currently not working a day job: getting an income stream going, even a small one, will mean I can continue to dedicate my time to writing rather than needing to start thinking about returning to work as my health improves.

June Writing Update

A funny thing happened at the start of this month. The Good Omens TV series came out, and I lost my goddamn mind over it, and that’s pretty much been my emotional state for the entirety of June. I wish I could say I’m sorry but I’m NOT. It’s so fantastic being this into something and part of a fandom that is also collectively losing its mind in such a joyous way.

So anyway if you want to read my Good Omens fanfic, it’s over at AO3. As is a music video I made. I have it really bad for this series and with me, that means launching into a multi-chapter plot-heavy sequel thing, because of course it does.

It may not have been the worst timing, to be honest: it’s given me a chance to let CC sit a bit while I figure out where to go next. It’s also stirred loose the block I had on TOSOT (because casefic is casefic even if one involves Dartmoor and daft one-liners and the other involves Kyoto and high-octane angst, and also I have a bit of a rage-against-the-heavens thing going on) and shown me that when appropriately driven I can write 5,000 words in a day. (It’s not something I plan to make a habit of. It would burn me right up to do that too often. Still, good to know.)

So basically I’ve written something like 25,000 words in June, most of them about an angel and a demon who are So In Love, but some of them about my idiot children too, and I’m having All The Fun.

Goals for July: rotate between Celestial Chronicle, The Other Side of Twilight, and Instructions Not Included.

Also post the first three chapters of CC so people can get a look at the rewrite and where I’m going with things.

(Belated) May Writing Update

I ended up being away when I would normally have done my update, then had a very busy weekend and week!

Celestial Chronicle

Wrote chapters 8 and 9. 9 ended up being an unexpected slog and I couldn’t quite figure out why, until I suddenly realised that it wasn’t about what I was writing, but what I was going to write. I have been assuming that chapters 10-12 would cover the same sort of ground as they did in the original draft, i.e. the confrontation with Neikos, the labyrinth, the Kyoto lead-in, the Kestrel/Luna kiss etc. But this draft has changed so much, that actually it’s going to go completely differently. 90% of that stuff needs to happen at the end of this first book, rather than the halfway point, and that requires a lot of reworking of things, because it means I need to bring in Guardians Marina and Terra, and another Archduke, before I get there.

So now I need to figure out what my mid-book crisis point is if it’s not that, but chapter 9 immediately became easy to write as soon as I stopped trying to force it to lead into the old scenario, so I think I’m on the right track. Might need to take a break for a couple of weeks and write something else so I can turn over the options in my head.

Goals for June: figure out what’s going to happen next and hopefully finish ch10-11.


Continued worldbuilding work. I tend to over-correct away from worldbuilding because I have read so much advice that says “don’t get sucked into worldbuilding so much that you never write the story”. Which is true! But actually if you’re trying to create a coherent alternate setting of any kind, there is a lot of non-writing work to put into it, otherwise you end up doing what I’ve been doing this month, which is writing three sentences and then stopping because you need to name someone or something, or figure out the logistics of your spaceship.

It’s still worth doing the writing, I think, since that helps find out what questions you need to answer (and of course square brackets are a writer’s best friend for placeholders), but it’s been slow going as I feel out where I’m headed. I’m also having the usual problem of Just How And Where Do I Infodump Without It Being Too Much Of An Infodump, compounded by the fact that I’ve got three layers of backstory to worry about – there’s the general setting mechanics, the immediate political situation, and the personal histories of the characters involved.

Goals for June: Continue to explore character stuff and pin down background details so they’re consistent.

April Writing Update

Well, April decided to continue much as March had, and my doctor now suspects that I’m getting a hayfever reaction that’s triggering the fatigue and flu-like symptoms, so that’s fun, since it could go on for months. Would it be excessive to wear a full hazmat suit out of doors? :/

Celestial Chronicle

Got chapters 6 and 7 written! Suck it, fatigue!

It’s kind of fascinating how it’s playing out this time around. I’m using pieces from the first draft but the whole flow and pacing is different. At this point in the earlier version, Kestrel and Luna had recognised each other and Astra was yet to appear. This time around, the reveal hasn’t happened yet (mostly so I can let them get properly attached to each other first because I am a monster) but Hikari is ready to join us as of the last scene of chapter 7. It feels like everything is moving a lot faster, but I’m at roughly the same narrative point. Current wordcount: ~38k

Also, this happened:

“It’s not kidnapping if you put her back after,” protested Akemi.

Goals for May: Minimum goal is to get to chapter 9, main goal is to get to chapter 11 or 12. I feel like that ought to get me to the showdown with Neikos and the labyrinth and the Kestrel/Luna kiss, but we’ll see. If I can get to that point I’ll be in all new territory, and we might finally get to meet the other two Guardians.


Worked on a lot of bitty details, like names for the fully FIVE MILLION CAST MEMBERS that seem to be involved. I mean, I like big casts and I cannot lie, but this may be excessive even for me. Sigh. Anyway most people have names and a bunch of exciting backstory, lots of stuff to explore. I am definitely setting this up as a series where I have a rough plan and a lot of space to explore, rather than something with a strict outline or end point. We’ll see how that works out…

Wrote a couple of scenes of Aster’s viewpoint that may or may not be the opening scenes of the first book. Not sure yet, but I enjoyed writing them a lot, particularly the first glimpses of Kallisto being her Awful Awful self.

Goals for May: Write a bit more of Aster’s POV and keep working on the details so I’ve got a solid background. I might do some blog posts to convey a bit more of the universe and characters. You all need to meet my disaster gays. 😀

The Other Side of Twilight

Didn’t work on it this month since I was so low on energy and time, and CC is my first priority. I think I’ll try and set aside a chunk of time, a few days or a week, later on in May to just plough through to the end of Blood and Promises and see where I end up.

March Writing Update

So much for the best-laid plans… I’ve been battling a persistent bout of increased fatigue and immune system symptoms (which I refer to as phantom flu, and which ironically I was planning to write a blog post about this month). That’s taken up most of March.

Celestial Chronicle

Managed about 5k words of Idiot Nerds Go On Dates But Don’t Realise They’re On Dates (very important content). Sincerely wish I could draw well enough to do a manga-style page of Shoichi and Satoru having their simultaneous OH NO HE’S HOT moment.

Goals for April: I think I’m going to try a min-max approach: minimum goal is writing chapters 6 and 7, stretch goal is getting to chapter 10.

The Other Side of Twilight

Suddenly realised I’d taken a wrong turn and needed to rewrite and rethink slightly. Which is fine but has slowed me down somewhat.

Goals for April: Finish at least one more chapter of Blood and Promises. Hopefully finish the whole thing and start work on The Road to Hell.


Been working on the general worldbuilding and specifics of immediate backstory. Figured out several major things that were holding me up. The nice thing about worldbuilding is that it’s possible to do it while curled up in bed feeling too unwell to sit at a computer, and I can jot down notes on my phone. This month I’ve gone from “not ready to write anything set in this universe yet” to “okay I just need to finish coming up with names for the technobabble and characters and then I can jump in”, so that’s awesome at least!

Goals for April: maybe write a few prompts or something? I want to get CC back on track though, so we’ll see how things go.

February Writing Update

Celestial Chronicle

Chapters 1-4, ~20k words. Started rewriting at the end of January, thought I would just be editing the original text, but then it rapidly became VERY DIFFERENT and required complete rewriting from scratch. So that’s pretty good progress tbh, especially since for the last week I’ve been dealing with high fatigue, and crawling along at a couple hundred words a day.

Goal for March: another four chapters seems good, let’s see if I can hit 40k. With the streamlining that’s going on in this rewrite, that might even take us up to the labyrinth, the kiss, and the whole “wtf is happening in Kyoto” question, but I shall not underestimate my ability to go off on an exciting diversion somewhere along the way…

The Other Side of Twilight (fanfic)

Story 8, “Blood and Promises”. First 4 chapters (18k or so) have been done for like three months and I’m just sloooooowly picking my way through chapter 5. It’s hard work because I’ve got to a point where I need to start explaining some of the core mysteries I’ve been throwing about. And I have the answers, neatly labelled and outlined, but the process of working them into the story without either overloading or going into extended flashbacks is… well, it requires some very careful footwork. Plus I’m feeling out the next bit of Hisoka’s character arc: I know where I want him to end up but he’s just surprised me by taking a slightly different route to get there. And then there’s Muraki being Muraki, and there are some days when I’m not quite up to writing that.

Goal for March: finish “Blood and Promises”, get far enough into “The Road to Hell” to feel confident I won’t need to change anything before I post it.

Tentative outline of remaining stories: Blood and Promises, The Road to Hell, Dead Man’s Gambit, Forever and a Day, Daylight. BUT DON’T HOLD ME TO THAT I MIGHT INSERT ANOTHER ONE SOMEWHERE.

Starborn & Kestrien

I’ve been letting them sit for the month, as I wanted to get CC rolling along well and TOSOT is taking up the rest of my time. Probably going to pick up worldbuilding on them both again. I want to ramble about Starborn in particular, and I’m hoping to get to a point soon where I can write some character one-shots without immediately contradicting myself because I changed my mind. I have private World Anvil sites for both, but so far they’re full of spoilers because I’ve been using them to work out some stuff I want to write. I’m considering making public versions.

The Secret Ingredient Is Angst

So far, the Celestial Chronicle rewrite seems to consist mostly of me making Shoichi sad, so, uh… yeah.

It’s partly because I realised that years of writing fanfic had taught me to keep a fairly flat character arc. When people are reading your stuff because they love the characters as they already are, you don’t want to change them too much. In original fiction, though, that translated into my characters entering the story in their Final Form, with all the confidence and determination they should by all rights be earning through the course of the narrative.

For Akemi, the rewrite has meant leaning harder into her impulsive side, and letting her be truly reckless before she learns to be a better leader. For Shoichi, it means a greater emphasis on his loneliness, sense of alienation, and anxiety. I had not quite anticipated how badly I was going to be giving myself feels with this.

And one thing leads to another: if I change the way he sees himself and the world, it changes his relationship with Satoru and his feelings on meeting him again, changes his reaction to becoming Luna, changes his friendship with Akemi. Not, I hope, to an unrecognisable degree. Shoichi is still Shoichi, and he still has some Thoughts on defying genre convention, and Akemi is Trying Really Hard, and Satoru is… probably off listening to Linkin Park somewhere, tbqh. But their edges are rougher. And Shoichi is sad, and I keep having to resist the urge to write the fluffy High School AU version of my own story.

“So I don’t have a choice?”
“You… always have a choice, Luna. You can reject the power of the Guard by returning the medallion to me.”
“And then someone else will take my place?”
“No. You are Guardian Luna; there cannot be another.”
“And if I don’t do it, this… Multitude will just keep taking people’s souls, and eventually destroy the world?”
“That is their goal.”
“Then I don’t have a choice. Not really. Do I?”

Why I’ve Taken Down ‘Celestial Chronicle’

Sol, Luna, and Kestrel do their best impression of a famous Sailor Moon colour illustration
Sol, Luna, and Kestrel do their best impression of a famous Sailor Moon colour illustration

Short Version:

I’m rewriting extensively and have realised that posting chapter-by-chapter doesn’t work for me. The plan is to turn the series into a trilogy of three novels, and I’m aiming to have the first book (Web of Shadows) done this year. Follow this blog for updates, and I’ll also be posting more on Twitter and Tumblr as I go.

Long Version:

Celestial Chronicle is my anime-esque magical girl series that I started writing in 2015 with the intention of publishing it serially on my website and on Archive of Our Own. It stalled when I ran into a combination of writer’s block and the first bout of what turned out to be Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Continue reading →