Are You a “Real” Writer? (Humor)

Hi Folks,

This topic doesn’t really fit with the current series of how-tos I’m posting here, so I thought I’d slip it in as a bonus. Just some things to think about.

A couple months ago on Facebook, which as we all know is a fount of absolute wisdom, someone posing as a professional fiction writer posted that writing is a “deliciously tedious travail” or some such nonsense. Yeah, I’m not kidding.

Being who and what I am, I quickly tossed in my two cents: “If you think writing is hard, you aren’t doing it right.” I then mentioned Heinlein’s Rules and the URL (my website) where the person could download a free copy. That’s it. (By the way, that’s Hint: It’s not just for SF writers.)

About nine hours ago as I write this, someone else posted “U [sic] obviously are’nt [sic] a real writer.”

Oh man! Caught me!

Well, I’m just SO embarrassed at being exposed as a fake that I thought I’d better come out in public.

If being a “real” writer entails enduring “deliciously tedious travail,” then I guess I’m just not a real writer.

Now don’t get me wrong. I really really really WANT to be a real writer, but it’s just so HARD to write with one forearm flung dramatically across my forehead as I complain about how difficult my “process” is.

I understand now that “real” writers spend hours and hours THINKING about writing and TALKING about writing. Apparently that’s part of their process. And then from what I can gather, advanced “real” writers such as the Facebook respondent apparently spend more hours CHATTING about writing in online groups.

But I don’t do any of that.

For a long time, I’ve called myself a writer. Apparently I was wrong.

Somewhere along the line, I got the moronic notion that a fiction writer, by definition, is a person who puts new publishable words of fiction on the page. Probably I got that idea from Dean Wesley Smith, another not-real writer who does none of the above but has well over 17 million books in print through traditional publishing. Many MANY more now that he’s gone strictly independent.

If you look up many professions in the dictionary, you’ll find that a lawyer practices law, a mechanic fixes engines and a plumber, you know, plumbs stuff. By extension, pilots fly planes and painters (either kind) paint. Doctors repair people, veterinarians repair pets, and teachers teach.

I mean, if someone asked me if I was a real cable guy or a real contractor, somewhere in the discussion I would pretty much have to mention that I install cable service or oversee the building of houses. Right? I mean, right?

So based on those obviously wrong-headed definitions, I got the notion in my head that if I was going to call myself a professional writer, I should, you know, actually write.

So that’s what I did. After roughly 50 years of learning my craft, I began calling myself a professional writer on October 19, 2014. (You laugh, but don’t you remember the day you became a [fill in the blank]? If not, check in with yourself. Maybe you’re in the wrong career.)

And since October 19, 2014, I have written 717,024 words of published fiction. Almost three quarters of a million words of published fiction.

How did I do that? By setting a goal and striving to reach it. I often failed. My goal was to write 3,000 words of fiction per day. That’s it. Nothing more.

Now there are only 14 days left in the one-year period that began on October 19, 2014 and will end on October 18, 2015 (inclusive).

That means over the past 351 days I have written an average of 2042 words per day.

That means I spent two hours per day doing my job. Two hours per day.

Anyone know a mechanic or a pilot or a doctor or any of those others up there who work a two-hour day?

Okay, so anyway, here I am to confess. This is kind’a like Fake Writers Anonymous. “Hi. I’m Harvey. And I am not a real writer.”

But I’m okay with it. Actually, I don’t have time to be a “real” writer by the definition of the person on Facebook. Writing is not a “travail” of any kind for me, delicious or nasty tasting or anything in between.

Writing is great fun. Seriously, it’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on. And really, I guess you DON’T have to keep your clothes on either.

Please, don’t be a “real” writer. Instead, sit down at the keyboard, put your fingers on the keys, and write whatever comes. Trust your subconscious. It’s been telling stories since before you knew there even was an alphabet.

Hey, it worked for Bradbury. It worked for Dean Smith.

It works for me.

‘Til next time, happy writing.


Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out or just click If you’ve already contributed, thanks so much. If you can’t make a monetary donation, please consider forwarding this post to a friend or several. (grin) Again, thank you.


Farewell, Smashwords, and Why

Hi Folks,

First a couple of announcements—

1. On September 23, Author Earnings released a new report that ALL writers should see. Especially if you’re locked into traditional publishing or if you’re on the fence.

The previous report I mentioned talks about market share in ebooks from traditional publishing vs. indie publishing. So it was kind of abstract.

But this report shows the actual distribution of income to individual authors who choose to publish traditionally vs. independently. This probably will surprise you. And if you’re an indie publisher, it will surprise you in a very good way. I encourage you go follow this link and sign up to get your own reports as they come out.

2. Yesterday, September 30 2015, was the final day for my Daily Journal blog. I created a spreadsheet that enables me to track what I write, how long it takes, and my daily, monthly and annual numbers. So no more need for the journal.

However, past editions of the journal will be available on this site for a limited time in case anyone wants to go back over some of them for the topics. Just click the tab.

3. And a note — If you self-publish, you are an indie publisher. If you publish through ANY subsidy publishing house — in other words, if you pay money to a publishing company to publish your work PLUS they keep a share of your royalties — you’re not an independent publisher. You’re just lost. Please don’t fall into that trap, and if you’re already in it, please do yourself a favor and break free. Every subsidy publisher, every place that charges you an up front fee PLUS keeps a share of your royalties, is a scam.

Okay, back to your regularly scheduled programming. (grin)

If you are an independent (self) publisher, this is an important post for you.

In the previous post, I busted a few of the myths of digital publishing. In that, I talked about the distributor, Smashwords. Recently I decided to leave Smashwords behind and switch all my distribution to Draft2Digital. Below is why.

Now this was strictly a business decision, as you’ll see below. If Smashwords cleans up their act quite a bit, I probably would go back to them, at least for partial distribution. This post appeared in slightly different form in my other blog, the Daily Journal.

Back in 2011, during the first year of the “gold rush” of electronic publishing, I signed up for a Smashwords account. Today, I have 143 books (nonfiction, novels, short stories and collections) published with them.

When I finished a work, whatever it was, first I published it to Smashwords. I allowed them to distribute it for me to 12 of 13 sales venues (all but Amazon). Then I published it to Amazon.

Enter Draft2Digital, a sleek new company that does what Smashwords does but MUCH more quickly and efficiently. They distribute to the same “big six” that Smashwords distributes to (Apple, B&N, Kobo, Inktera, Oyster, and Scribd) plus Tolino, a growing ebook store in Germany that was created specifically to rival Amazon.

Yesterday, I published a short story to D2D and Amazon, but for the first time, did NOT publish it to Smashwords. Why? Because then I’d have to clunk my way through the “opt out” radio buttons thirteen times so Smashwords would not distribute it (because D2D is distributing it).

Now admittedly, if I HAD done all that, the story would still be available in the Smashwords store, and I’m always advising writers to sell in as many markets as possible. But the thing is, having to spend a half-hour clunking around on Smashwords’ site just so a short story will be in their store… well, it simply isn’t worth the time.

Another thing, through the Smashwords online store I’ve sold mostly nonfiction. And most of that I’ve sold when I’ve created coupons for it, and then advertised the coupons. Again, it’s a lot of effort for very few sales.
I’m not lazy when it comes to expending necessary effort, but any time I spend uploading etc. is part of my investment in my writing. Since it’s part of the investment, I have to consider what return the effort will yield.

Here are a few stark numbers:

  • At it takes me about 15 minutes from clicking Create New Title to clicking Publish IF the process is uninterrupted by Amazon’s ridiculous page-loading times and jumping around. Probably the average time is 20 to 25 minutes. However, Amazon is currently my best venue, so the frustration, while annoying, is worthwhile.
  • At it takes me about 10 minutes to go from entering the title of my book to clicking Publish at the bottom of the form.
    • But then I have to go to their ISBN Manager to assign an ISBN for distribution to some of the big six as well as several tiny library venues (where I’ve never sold a book).
    • Then I have to go to their Channel Manager. There I have to find my book (there are three pages) and then click thirteen “opt out” radio buttons one at a time so Smashwords will not distribute to anyone except the online store.
    • Even after I’ve done all that, even though I’ve opted out of distribution to every place that requires an ISBN, I continue to see a message saying I need to assign an ISBN to my books. Very, very clunky system. I skip over the ISBN Manager since I no longer use them for distribution, but using the Channel Manager easily adds another 10 minutes and roughly half a ton of frustration to the process. Not worth it.
  • And D2D. Ahh, D2D. At it takes me about 3 minutes from Add New Book to Publish. On the final page I check the stores to which I want them to distribute my work (so seven checkmarks), verify that the work is either mine or that I have the rights to publish it, and I’m done. They assign an ISBN for the venues that require it, but I don’t have to do anything with that.

D2D does for me what Smashwords does but in a lot less time and with absolutely zero frustration. Score!

So for me, it’s bye-bye to Smashwords. I might put my major publications (novels, collections) up in their store, but frankly I doubt it. I really REALLY don’t like having to “opt out” 13 times per publication.

Now I’m a fair guy, so I will be addressing this issue with Mark Coker soon. Well, relatively soon. I probably won’t do so until I’ve moved my major nonfiction books over to D2D. Anyway, I’ll keep you updated, but I think he’s pretty entrenched in the way he does things.

So it’s like this. Five years ago, Mark and his company were on the cutting edge of ebook publishing and distribution. Today they’re eating dust from every other major player.

If you have any questions about any of this, I’d be happy to try to answer them for you. Please ask in the comments section below.

‘Til next time, happy writing.


PS: UPDATE: I’ve also found another sales venue. To look it over for yourself, visit OmniLit.

Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out or just click If you’ve already contributed, thanks so much. If you can’t make a monetary donation, please consider forwarding this post to a friend or several. (grin) Again, thank you.

The Journal, Wednesday, 9/30: On Being Organized, and a Major Change

Rolled out a little before 3. I had forgotten how much “little work” would be necessary to create a new publisher website. This morning I created folders for covers. I filled one with covers that are 150 x 225 pixels, another for 180 x 270 pixels, and another for 300 x 450 pixels.

That and sorting them took three hours, but it’s necessary when you have to upload covers for 9 novels, 20 short story collections, 15 nonfiction books, 5 poetry collections, and 110 short stories. Of course, it’s a good problem to have and I’m not complaining. (grin)

Anyway, now when it comes time, I can upload all the covers of each size to the new website at once. And that will save me a huge chunk of time.

If I hadn’t done this, I’d have to open the individual folder for the novel, collection or story, upload the cover in each of three sizes, then go to the next individual folder. To repeat that 159 times would take considerably more than three hours. (grin)

After I get the new publisher website up and running, I’ll put together a few more collections. With twenty plus uncollected stories, that should be six collections (four each with 5 stories and two with 10 stories). Then I’ll start thinking about box sets. It’s all about opening several revenue streams for each story.

The writing today will be a big push to advance this novel and to close out the month. With my dismal showing the last couple days, I won’t make 70,000 words of fiction for the month but I should easily clear 65,000. I’ll take it. (grin)

Good post over at Dean’s blog today on a new scam traditional publishers are pulling on their authors.

No walk today. I’ll continue working on the website until around 8 or 8:30, and then start writing for the day.

After I wrote much of this blog post, I had some time left before my writing time begins. For awhile now I’ve been wanting to design a spreadsheet that will enable me to see daily and monthly details as well as annual trends in my writing. So I started messing around with that.

I tried three different structures before I hit on one that does what I want in a compact space. (BTW Dawn, I did this without looking at yours. I want to compare them after the fact to see how similar they are. (grin)

Anyway, it worked. And you know what that means, right?

Because it worked, this blog is going away. Only four of you were not subscribed to my Pro Writers blog, so I transferred you over. You won’t have to do anything. And then probably I’ll start posting to that blog once a week or so instead of every ten days. I might also report, briefly, on my own progress on projects at the end of those posts just in case anyone is interested.

So there y’go. After posting here almost every day since October 19, 2014, and after 210,525 words of what we’re all agreeing is nonfiction (grin), I’m shuttin’ ‘er down.

Thanks for hangin’ in with me all this time. See you on the flip side.

Today’s Writing
Good enough day of writing today. It is what it is, and tomorrow is a new month.

Fiction Words: 3538

Writing of “The Coming of Simon Stark” (SF novel)
Day 1…… 3800 words. Total words to date….. 3800 words
Day 2…… 1516 words. Total words to date….. 5316 words
Day 3…… 2942 words. Total words to date….. 8258 words
Day 4…… 4261 words. Total words to date….. 12519 words
Day 5…… 3039 words. Total words to date….. 15558 words
Day 6…… 2600 words. Total words to date….. 18158 words
Day 7…… 4634 words. Total words to date….. 22792 words
Day 8…… 3149 words. Total words to date….. 25941 words
Day 9…… 3641 words. Total words to date….. 29582 words
Day 10… 1900 words. Total words to date….. 31482 words
Day 11… 1476 words. Total words to date….. 32958 words
Day 12… 3538 words. Total words to date….. 36496 words

Total fiction words for the month………… 65135
Total fiction words for the year…………… 530176

The Journal, Tuesday, 9/29: Collections, Box Sets and Other Non-Writing Stuff

Okay, coming to you a little earlier again. This one is set to go out at 6 now. My short story of the week will go out at 5 every Monday from here on out.

Well, I didn’t get up this morning. Wide awake, I looked at the clock and thought it said 1:45 a.m. That’s close enough to 2 to start a normal day (for me) so I got up. But in actuality, it was 11:45 p.m. last night. Two hours earlier.

Still, I was awake, so I figured I might as well make the best of it. I worked on my new publisher website for a couple hours. That was my waking up time, only it lulled me. (grin) So around 1:30 I went back to bed for about an hour and a half.

Got up again at 3, did a little more on the website, read/researched a couple other publisher websites, and signed up to sell my ebooks via OmniLit (, a new (to me) online ebook vendor. Again, if you have your books available only in Amazon, you are SO missing out.

Finally, a couple hours after getting up the second time, I closed the websites to get them off the screen, and turned to my writing ‘puter and the Stark novel.

Nope. Didn’t happen. I felt like it’s been forever since I had a good walk, so I grabbed my camera and headed out. Had a short walk (just over 2 miles) but got some great pics. Came back and put a few on Facebook.

Then I made and ate breakfast, then got a shower, then came back here and did some preliminary work re collections. I didn’t realize how many uncollected short stories I have floating around.

Then to write this and what you see below (everything except Today’s Writing and the numbers) and now, finally, just after noon, I’m turning to my writing ‘puter. Barely time to get my 3000 words for the day before I take off an hour for NYPD Blue. Pretty sure this is the last week of the show.

Oh, this notice is actually a day late, but I hope you’ll drop by and read the topic (Writing A Bunch of Words) on Dean’s post from yesterday. I recommend this for those of you who want to increase your productivity but can’t quite get that from me. In this post, Dean shows you how he wrote 6300 words in 7.5 hours. Chances are, it isn’t what you think. He also gets a tad snarky, his word, not mine. (grin)

Okay, although I very much enjoy working on my own websites, I also dread it. When I get my teeth into a project, I want to keep going until it’s finished.

Working on a website is a very different kind of creativity than writing. For one thing, I have a final result in mind when I start. I also am even more anxious to see the finished website than the finished novel. And I work quickly so I can finish a website in MUCH less time than it takes to write a novel. For those reasons and more, it would be SO easy to take off a couple days and just get the Publisher website up and running.

But today is also the next to the last day of the month. I’d love to go out with 70,000 words this month, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen. Still, I’d like to make a run at it. And if I take today off, there is no possible way I’m gonna finish the month in style.

So one more part of my retraining rears its ugly head. I need to write when I can (writing must remain my number one priority) and do everything else when I’m not writing. That includes working on that website. And that means part of my retraining is to make myself able to turn my back on it when it’s time to write some more.

Another number two priority is putting together some collections. I just realized this morning I have twenty uncollected short stories. There also is still one 5-story Stringer collection that has not been combined into a 10-story collection yet, plus a single Stringer story that has not been collected. Nick Porter has two uncollected individual stories, and then I have twenty.

So I have to think of a way of putting all those together in various batches. The individual stories I probably will bunch with my own with a nod to the original pseudonym. But I still have to put the collections together, format them, create covers and publish them.

And I enjoy doing all of that, but it isn’t writing, and I enjoy writing more than all of that put together. Hence the priorities. (grin) But it’ll get done. Before too long. I just have to write when I can write and work the rest of the time.

Oh, and then BookBub popped up with a link to 8 Tips on Creating Single Author Box Sets. So now I’m thinking in that direction too. Oh well. A guy’s gotta have a hobby.

Today’s Writing
Poor writing day today, though I did get a lot of other things done and started, as I alluded to above. I expect a much stronger writing day tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Fiction Words: 1476

Writing of “The Coming of Simon Stark” (SF novel)
Day 1…… 3800 words. Total words to date….. 3800 words
Day 2…… 1516 words. Total words to date….. 5316 words
Day 3…… 2942 words. Total words to date….. 8258 words
Day 4…… 4261 words. Total words to date….. 12519 words
Day 5…… 3039 words. Total words to date….. 15558 words
Day 6…… 2600 words. Total words to date….. 18158 words
Day 7…… 4634 words. Total words to date….. 22792 words
Day 8…… 3149 words. Total words to date….. 25941 words
Day 9…… 3641 words. Total words to date….. 29582 words
Day 10… 1900 words. Total words to date….. 31482 words
Day 11… 1476 words. Total words to date….. 32958 words

Total fiction words for the month………… 61597
Total fiction words for the year…………… 526638

The Journal, Monday, 9/28: How I Write

The Journal, Monday, 9/28: How I Write

Rolled out a little after 3, having stepped outside to watch some of the lunar eclipse last night.

More than likely I won’t get a lot of writing done today, at least on the novel. I do have to write the short story of the week. It posts tonight at 6 p.m. But I also have to take my pickup to Sierra Vista again to finish the repair I started last week. Life happens.

I don’t really want to pry my head out of my novel right now, so I think I’ll publish an excerpt from the novel as the short story. It’ll work well. You’ll see. (grin) Well, if you read it.

I also want to increase the visibility of my books to brick and mortar stores, so I’ll be opening a publisher website over the next several days to do that. This is something I picked up on while reading over some of the comments on a recent DWS post. Invaluable stuff.

Okay, a bit on how I write. This was prompted by a subscriber who mentioned that he enjoys the posts but that it simply isn’t the way he writes.

I want to say up front, that is absolutely fine. As DWS says, every writer is different. Every writer’s process is different. But I can’t write about other writers’ processes in this blog. So do your own thing, no biggie.

What I’ve learned about writing since early 2014 is nothing short of incredible. I can’t talk with other writers about writing and NOT mention this stuff. It has proven invaluable (and I’m not exaggerating) to me. Dean suggests keeping it secret because so few will “get it,” but I just can’t do that. So here goes.

For my part (as I’ve said before), I write this Journal for three reasons: as a personal diary for myself, to share what I know, and to let others know what is possible. By “what is possible” I mean following Heinlein’s Rules and writing off into the dark can make writing a great deal of fun while vastly increasing your productivity and the quality of your stories.

Do I wish that for you? Yes. Absolutely. Do I fret over whether you’re even willing to try it? No. Not because I don’t care, but because I have my own stuff to worry about, just as you do.

If you’ll forgive a religious allusion here, I’m kind of Saul turned Paul in this deal. Remember, I used to buy into all the myths. Hell, I used to teach them. Vehemently.

I used to believe (now get this) that I could produce an original work in my own unique voice by editing and rewriting and polishing until what I had written looked like everything else in the publisher’s slush pile. I still wonder, how in the world did I NOT see the paradox in that?

I read somewhere that insanity is defined as doing something exactly the same way over and over and over again while hoping for a different result. You know, for what it’s worth.

So I don’t do that. I allow my own unique voice to shine through, which means I resign my control-freak role as General Manager of the Universe and trust my subconscious to tell the story. And then I call myself a writer so I actually am trying to develop a work ethic as a writer.

If I were a mechanic, I would spend time every day working on cars. If I were a doctor, I would spend time every day practicing medicine. If I were a plumber, I would spend time every day fixing plumbing problems. I’m a writer. Why shouldn’t I spend some hours every day practicing my craft? You know, writing?

The truth is this: Writing “fast” doesn’t mean lower quality. It just means spending more time in the chair putting new publishable words on the page. It means writing at a blazing speed of about 17 words per minute, and it means getting it right the first time.

For some, it’s too scary to even try, though they won’t say that. Instead they’ll say something like “Well, I have a life,” meaning they don’t have time to do their job. How long would you get away with that if you were a cop or a plumber or a carpenter? “Sorry, Boss, I can’t put in the time today. I have a life.” And there are any number of other excuses. And that’s fine.

As an aside, I mentioned Heinlein’s Rules to a woman in Prescott a while ago. You know how long it takes to read them. She wouldn’t even look. “No need,” she said. “I don’t write science fiction.”

I just said “Okay.” I mean, what can I say in the face of that kind of intentional ignorance?

This is the way I write. This is my process, but I didn’t come up with it. It’s how Bradbury wrote. It’s how pretty much all of the pulp writers wrote. It’s how DWS and Kristine Kathryn Rusch and JA Konrath and a bunch of others write. I want to be a long-term professional fiction writer who writes across all genres, so I follow the lead of long-term professional fiction writers who write across all genres. Shrug.

As I wrote earlier, I DO wish for others the same freedom, joy, productivity and increased quality that I’ve found in my own writing. But how you write is up to you. I don’t dwell on it. As Ben Johnson said in a movie awhile back, “Not my department.” (grin)

Today’s Writing
Wrote a little over 1200 words before heading for SV. That was on the short story of the week, “There’s No Fool.” But the short story is excerpted exactly from the novel, so I’m not counting the short story words separately. (grin)

Then when I got back I created a cover and published the story to my website and D2D. Then I wrote a bit more in one quick session, then posted this and called it a day. I’ll add the story to my Short Fiction page after I post this.

Fiction Words: 1900 (weird)

Writing of “The Coming of Simon Stark” (SF novel)
Day 1…… 3800 words. Total words to date….. 3800 words
Day 2…… 1516 words. Total words to date….. 5316 words
Day 3…… 2942 words. Total words to date….. 8258 words
Day 4…… 4261 words. Total words to date….. 12519 words
Day 5…… 3039 words. Total words to date….. 15558 words
Day 6…… 2600 words. Total words to date….. 18158 words
Day 7…… 4634 words. Total words to date….. 22792 words
Day 8…… 3149 words. Total words to date….. 25941 words
Day 9…… 3641 words. Total words to date….. 29582 words
Day 10… 1900 words. Total words to date….. 31482 words

Total fiction words for the month………… 60121
Total fiction words for the year…………… 525162

There’s No Fool

No Fool 180Reginald Cranston’s living room stretched the width of his house. A fifty-two inch wide-screen television took up the narrow wall that abutted the hallway. A couch was centered on the long interior wall. Just beyond the center of the room, which showcased a fine Persian rug, Reginald’s plush leather recliner faced the television. Overhead, a fan slowly churned, slicing the humid air.

The AC would dry it out in half a heartbeat, but Margie had felt colder than usual lately, so she didn’t want to run it. She was in her sewing room most of the time anyway. He thought about closing her vents and turning on the AC anyway, but it really wasn’t worth the hassle.

Besides sitting in his recliner he was comfortable enough with only the fan. He was still dressed in his work clothes except for his jacket and his shoes. He hadn’t even loosened his tie yet. And it wasn’t like he was sweating.

Plus at the moment, he had more important things on his mind than air conditioning. He was watching Simon Stark’s press conference. It was on all the channels, so there was no escaping it anyway. And he was trying very hard not to sneer.

Why hadn’t Susanne simply told him it was Stark? There had been rumors for weeks that he might be about to toss his hat into the ring. Instead she had sounded very mysterious when she called him to announce she was quitting her job. Quitting the law firm where only six months earlier she had been named a junior partner.

How many other women could claim to have made partnership in a prestigious law firm in such a short time? Christ, the woman had to be mental.

But whatever the case, this very morning she had resigned to work with some mysterious figure who was going to make headlines.

And now he found it was only Stark after all. “Complete and utter fools, both of them.”

He reached up to adjust his glasses, then took them off and wiped them with his handkerchief. He put them back on and stared at the screen again.

And what a clown Stark was anyway. Who was he trying to impress? The man obviously was an imbecile, and a naïve imbecile at that. Did he really believe honesty was the best policy?

The American people, most of them, were buffoons and lummoxes. They not only deserved to be lied to, but they demanded it. As Nicholson said in that movie that time, most of them couldn’t handle the truth. Had this guy learned nothing in his, what, thirty-five, forty years?

He scrutinized Stark. He looked younger than thirty-five, but he had to be at least thirty-five to run for president. Well, youth certainly wasn’t everything. It certainly wasn’t.

The problem was, most Americans wouldn’t even know the truth if it raced up and bit them on the ass. And they didn’t care to. It didn’t matter to them. All that mattered was the next so-called reality show on television. Or the next gossipy, sensational news story, which most often also was a lie. He snorted. Or the next handout. The next freebie.

Cranston adjusted himself in his plush leather recliner. These days, everybody was looking for luxury but nobody wanted to earn it. Stark was pushing out the same tired old lies that had been political staples forever. He simply said them in different words.

As Simon Stark turned and walked into the wings at stage left, Cranston watched carefully, searching for any sign of Susanne Devereaux. The way she had talked earlier, she would be standing alongside him at the podium. But she was nowhere in evidence.

Cranston sneered. Probably the blowhard of a pretender offered her a position for a certain very personal fee. Smitten with Stark’s slick façade, she had quit her job on a whim, with really no notice at all. Now she more than likely was too embarrassed to ask for her job back.

Probably she was afraid Reginald would hold her youthful faux pas against her. Of course, he would never do such a thing. She also probably was too embarrassed to seek employment with another law firm. Such scandals follow people who are involved in such an intimate circle.

She would have to move out of state to find another job. That would necessitate studying for and passing another bar exam. And at this very moment the poor girl probably was feeling overwhelmed. Probably she was nursing her emotional wounds somewhere. Probably she was wondering how in the world she would make ends meet after her savings ran out.

He frowned. Where did they say the press conference had taken place?

As if in response to his question, as the audience filed out, the channel switched to an outside camera.

Cranston smirked, as if finding out something Stark had preferred would remain hidden. “That’s the Mahalia Jackson Theater. I’d know that building anywhere.”

Cranston uncrossed his sock feet, turned off the television and pushed the footrest of the recliner down so he was upright. He adjusted his glasses. “Blowhard,” he muttered, and shook his head. Then he got up and padded into the kitchen to fix himself a drink.

He took a rocks glass from the cabinet and set it on the counter. Then he twisted open the cap on a bottle of Glenlivet 21 Year Old Archive Scotch. But as he tipped it over the glass, he paused. Then he put the cap back on it and twisted it closed again.

He set the glass and bottle back in the cabinet, then walked back into the living room. His loafers were still beside his chair where he’d left them. He slipped his feet into them, then turned to retrieve his jacket and his fedora from the rack beside the front door.

He reached for the door knob, but paused and looked back over his shoulder. “Margie,” he yelled, “I’m going out. I’ll be back in an hour or two.”

From somewhere down the hallway came the faint sounds of a sewing machine and his wife’s voice. “All right, dear. Do be careful.”

He shook his head, then opened the door, pushed open the screen, and pulled the door closed behind him. “Careful indeed.”

He had no time for being careful.

He was going to effect a rescue.

The air was heavy and cool. Was there a light mist falling? He thought he felt it on his hands but he couldn’t be sure.

He walked through the open bay into the garage. He got into his Lexus and put his fedora in the passenger seat, then backed quickly out of the garage and into the street. As he shifted the car into Drive, mist began to gather on the windshield. He clicked on the wipers to their lowest setting and thought again about Susanne.

The wiper blades stuttered across the windshield. He frowned. He should have waited until there was more moisture on the window.

The poor girl had called him earlier in the day, and she was all but giddy with excitement. It hadn’t escaped his attention that she had called him specifically and not anyone else at the firm. She was young and vibrant and filled with naïveté. He was certain she was making a huge mistake.

Of course, he couldn’t have told her that at the time. Doing so would have driven her away all the more quickly.

But more than once during the day he had thought of different scenarios surrounding the press conference.

The wiper blades stuttered across the window again.

Cranston frowned at the noise. Life, it seemed sometimes, was one big interruption.

Anyway, there was Susanne standing alongside her mystery man at the podium, her arm interlaced with his, beaming as she waved, princess like, to her admirers.

Of course, that was only a fairy tale from which she would experience at best a rude awakening.

The man would dismiss her out of hand when the cameras were turned off, and Susanne would be destroyed.

Or there was Susanne standing just behind the man and to one side. Her fingers were interlocked before her at her waist. Her position subliminally indicated her unwavering support for him from her place in his shadow.

The wiper blades stuttered across the window.

He frowned. Her place. Her position in Stark’s shadow.

Cranston knew Susanne Devereaux better than she knew herself, and certainly better than that upstart, Stark. She deserved a great deal more than to be in any man’s shadow.

Or there was Susanne having a successful evening with the man. She attended the press conference with him. Then she left with him, her head just enough in the clouds to believe she was ascending in the direction of the heights with him.

But she would never make it to the heights.

The wiper blades stuttered across the window. Cranston angrily pressed the Washer button on the end of the wiper control. A bit of water sprayed up, mostly in foam. The thing was empty. He would have to remember to have Manuel check that the next time he had the car in the garage for a checkup.

Still, the wipers moved more easily, at least the first two trips. The third time they stuttered, but not as dramatically as before.

Men like that— crass, worthless politicians— they were users. Even if he kept her around for a year or two, eventually he would leave her a broken woman.

Each scenario ended with a vague notion of himself, Reginald Cranston, happening across the man— of course, now he knew it was Stark— and Susanne.

Boldly, he would insinuate himself between them.

The wiper blades stuttered across the window.

Damn it! He glared at the driver’s side wiper blade just as if it could know.

He would insinuate himself between them and he would defend Susanne against the man.

And when the man— when Stark— saw that Cranston was on to him, he would admit everything from the depths of his black heart. He would laugh at Susanne in all her foolishness, and his laughter would crush her like the very fragile flower she was.

How could men treat women so crassly? Well, real men couldn’t.

But Reginald Cranston would be there. He would slip his right arm protectively around Susanne.

She would glare through her tears at the man who had treated her so despicably, and then she would turn fully to Reginald. She would put her tender head against his chest. She would weep and sob until all her sorrow and embarrassment were soaked into his shirt. And she would know the truth once and for all— that he was anything but a father figure.

He frowned. What in the world had ever possessed her to think of him as a father figure in the first place?

The wiper blades stuttered across the window.

He glared at it.

It’s true that there was a gap in their ages, not that the wiper blades could know that. She was twenty-nine and Reginald was sixty-four, but they were very much on the same page in every way imaginable. Very much. Certainly she knew he was “with it,” as the youngsters all said. And that was something that couldn’t be said of any father figure.

But yes, at last she would know the truth. And then, before she could force herself to beg him to give her job back, he would magnanimously ask her please to come back to work.

Of course, she would say yes, her eyes wide with disbelief at his grand generosity.

And he would laugh, wag his hand in the air, dismiss the act just as if it were nothing. “The sign was still up out front, after all,” he would say. “Cranston, Cranston, Swain and Devereaux.” And her name was still stenciled on her door because he knew she would be back. Probably he wouldn’t say that part.

And when she did come back he would surprise her with a raise. One that would enable her to slip away on vacation twice each year to the most exotic places.

With many of those exotic places, of course, Reginald himself already was more than familiar. He would be the perfect guide.

The wiper blades stuttered across the window.

It was annoying. Very annoying.

Susanne would understand at last, and she would be grateful. Endlessly grateful.

But now— now he wouldn’t have to go poking through restaurants hoping for a chance encounter. He had seen the press conference himself. He had waited and waited for Susanne to join Stark on stage, but she had remained absent.

For whatever reason, Stark had abandoned her before the press conference even began. No wonder he looked so smug.

But that was all right. Well, at least it would be all right.

She wasn’t at the press conference, so he knew precisely where to find her. His beautiful, fragile flower was at this moment curled up in her pajamas on her couch with a quart of ice cream. Tears were streaming down both cheeks as she replayed the press conference over and over and over. As she watched the cad, Simon Stark, turn his back on her and stride off the stage. Over and over and over again.

Fifteen minutes later Cranston pulled over and parked across the street from Susanne’s building. He straightened his glasses.

The wiper blades started across the window, but he turned off the engine, stranding them halfway up. See if they liked being disrespected the same way they annoyed and disrespected him. He glared at the one currently splitting the driver’s side of the windshield, then flung open the door.

The inside light came on, and he turned to reach through the door with his left leg. But as he tried to lift himself from the plush seat, the seat belt jerked him back.

His landing hard in the seat again caused the door to slam shut. The light clicked off.

In the sudden darkness, the dim glow of a distant street lamp illuminated the water droplets building up on the windshield. Rain-X. He would have Manuel apply Rain-X the next time he had the car in the garage for servicing.

He would have the man check that annoying beeping sound too.

He looked down at his lap, then felt with his right hand.

The seat belt. He hadn’t released the stupid, asinine, foolish imbecile of a seat belt.

“Oh bother!” Again he looked down at his waist. His glasses slipped halfway down his nose. Wonderful. He was beginning to perspire.

Angry at his own impatience, he flung his right hand down to his side, the thumb extended, to hit the seat belt release button.

But he missed.

The calm beeping continued.

He hit the end of the buckle mechanism and jammed his thumb.

Fiery pain shot up through his forearm and past the inside of his elbow. The inside of his bicep tingled.

“Agh!” He quickly raised his thumb to his mouth and sucked on it for a moment, soothing it.

Then, anger surging through him again, he twisted violently to the right in the seat and reached across his body with his left hand to unbuckle the seat belt. When it was finally free, he shouldered it off angrily and tugged on the door handle.

The beeping continued calmly. Of course it did. It had no purpose in life. Nobody to save. Nothing to do but be annoying.

He shoved the door open with his left foot and stepped out of the car.

While he was battling the seat belt, the mist had turned into a light rain.

He turned and glared at the seat for a moment, gripped the door with his left hand, drew it back and slammed it. Hard.

At least that stupid beeping stopped. Finally.

Then he felt the rain pattering on his bald spot. A few drops streaked down his glasses.

His hat was in the passenger seat, calm and dry, as if waiting for a ride.

He tugged on the door handle. It was locked.

“Well, bother!” He reached into his left front pocket.

His keys weren’t there.

He peered through the driver’s side window of his car, twisting his neck up and around.

Of course. The keys were in the ignition. That must’ve been what the annoying beeping was about while he was fighting with the seat belt. Well it certainly didn’t sound like the keys were in the ignition.

That moment was the closest he’d ever come to hitting his car with his fist. Only the thought of broken knuckles stopped him. At sixty-four, his bones were considerably more brittle than they had been when he was younger.

He put his hands on his hips and took a deep breath.

Not a problem. No worries. He would tend to Susanne first. After all, that was his mission. Afterward, later tonight or possibly in the morning, he would call for a locksmith. Or something. Nothing to worry about at the moment.

He took another deep breath and glanced around. At least it was dark. He took his handkerchief, the one he carried in his right front pocket, and mopped his brow. Then he wiped the lenses of his glasses with it and shoved it back into his pocket.

He put on the glasses, but they were smeared. Still, it wasn’t too bad. He looked down at the driver’s side window as if he could see his reflection, and smoothed his hair back with his palms.

It felt different. It seemed less somehow. The rain, probably, was making it feel that way.

He crouched alongside the car, then pressed the side-view mirror with his left thumb to turn it outward a bit. He looked into the mirror, turned his head this way, then that.

Well, it was simply a fact that he didn’t have as much hair as he used to. He wished all the more he had remembered to put on his hat.

But Susanne wouldn’t mind anyway. That simply wasn’t who she was. Especially in her current frame of mind. She would be thinking of a thousand things other than Reginald’s hair.

That was the first time a correct thought had crossed his mind all day.

Reginald took one more look into the side-view mirror, then thumbed it generally back into place. He reminded himself to straighten it electronically when he got back in the car and before he pulled out into traffic.

Then he straightened, pivoted on the ball of his right foot, turned and stepped off with his left.

And ran straight into the right front fender of a car. His momentum caused him to bend over it, and the water on the slick hood soaked into the forearms of his coat sleeves.

Before the driver could stop, the right side-view mirror thumped Reginald just above the left hip, turning him slightly.

Then the car did stop and the horn blared and Reginald launched himself backward.

The driver’s side-view mirror of his own car dug into his back.

He frowned, glaring at the car in front of him. What in the world was wrong with those people? Couldn’t they see a man plainly standing in the road? And what a strange looking car anyway. What in the world kind of a car was—

He took a second look. It was a limousine.

It was a limousine and the rear passenger window was moving down in that inexorable, slow way of electric windows. Especially in mystery movies. On dark and rainy nights.

Then Susanne’s face came into view. And Stark’s face appeared beside hers.

The second face frowned. “Terribly, terribly sorry, sir. Are you all right?”

The first face just looked at him for a moment. Then it frowned too, and cocked itself slightly to one side. It— well, Susanne— said, “Reginald? Reginald, is that you? Reginald?”

“Susanne. I— Uh— Are you all right?”

“What?” She cocked her head again, the slight frown still on her face. “I’m fine, Reginald. I— We’re going away for a few days. Strategy planning, all that sort of thing. Going by my apartment to pack some things.”

Then her mouth formed a surprised O. “Oh, Reginald, by the way, I said this morning I’d be by the office to pick up my things this week. Would it be all right if I make that next week instead?”

Reginald looked at her, saw her mouth moving, heard something, maybe words. He wasn’t sure he had heard what she said though.

It was raining a little harder. Rain was dripping from his forehead down over his glasses. Off his nose. Off his chin. He must look ridiculous. Did he look ridiculous? “What? I’m sorry, I— What?”

“I mean, if you need the space right away, you could ask Marissa or Joanne to box up my things and put them in the supply closet. There really isn’t much. Would that be all right?”

“Uh. So you’re going away?”

Susanne nodded. “Uh huh. For a few days, but maybe as long as a week. Strategy planning. You know, for the election. So I can stop by next week? That would be okay?”

“Oh. Oh, certainly, Susanne. Certainly. Stop by any time you like. Any time.” He frowned. “So you’re all right?”

She beamed. To make it worse, she actually giggled. “Of course. Oh Reginald, I’m happier than I’ve ever been.” She frowned. “But are you okay? Is your car all right? Can we drop you somewhere? I’ll only be a few minutes in the apartment. Then we’d be more than happy to—”

“No. No, I’m fine.”

Rain dripped off his forehead, off his glasses. It dripped off his ears and nose and chin. He looked at Susanne. He realized he had never seen her truly happy before.

But why would he? What in the world was he thinking? What in the world?

“You kids run along, have a good time.” He shrugged. “Margie. You know. Have to get back to Margie.”

* * * * * * *

Note: This story is excerpted from currently untitle forthcoming SF novel. The main character is Simon Stark.

The Journal, Sunday, 9/27: Keep Coming Back

Rolled out right at 2, anxious to get back to the novel.

Every now and then I check up on my lists and purge them. On this weak little list, I had only 31 subscribers. Of those, six had never opened the email when they received it. This blog has been running from my main site since July 1, pretty much every day. I think that’s a long enough time to indicate interest.

So I unsubscribed those six folks. Ten to one I won’t hear from them (because they won’t realize it), and that’s fine. (grin)

When your writing stalls, it’s hard to come back. That’s your conscious mind trying to keep you from writing. Believing you have to succumb to that is pure, unadulterated bullcookies. You don’t. You just don’t.

Once again today it felt early like I might not get any writing done. At all.

But I kept going back. I kept putting my fingers on the keyboard. I read about the previous two paragraphs, and then I wrote whatever came.

That’s the key to the whole thing. No matter the situation, if you’re writing fiction, Keep Coming Back and Write the Next Sentence. And don’t question it. If you doubt the sentence you write, that’s your conscious mind butting in. Just write the next sentence, whatever it is. Then write the next sentence, write the next sentence, write the next sentence.

Wonderful fun. I wish the same for my friend Alison and for all of you.

Today’s Writing
I wrote. (grin)

Fiction Words: 3641

Writing of “The Coming of Simon Stark” (SF novel)
Day 1…… 3800 words. Total words to date….. 3800 words
Day 2…… 1516 words. Total words to date….. 5316 words
Day 3…… 2942 words. Total words to date….. 8258 words
Day 4…… 4261 words. Total words to date….. 12519 words
Day 5…… 3039 words. Total words to date….. 15558 words
Day 6…… 2600 words. Total words to date….. 18158 words
Day 7…… 4634 words. Total words to date….. 22792 words
Day 8…… 3149 words. Total words to date….. 25941 words
Day 9…… 3641 words. Total words to date….. 29582 words

Total fiction words for the month………… 58221
Total fiction words for the year…………… 523262

The Journal, Saturday, 9/26: No topic, sort of

I slept in this morning until almost 3. Sure felt good. (grin)

Then I got up.

Not a great day around the Stanbrough camp. I won’t bore you with the annoying, frustrating, aggravating details. Just not a good day.

I almost made the topic of this post “writing for therapy,” but that would’ve been a hoax. Or politically correct. I get confused.

I do know nowadays when you tell an outright, bold-face lie it’s most often referred to as either a “hoax” or “politically correct.” Well, unless you happen to be a politician. Then it’s called a “strategy shift.”

Anyway, I couldn’t title it “writing for therapy” because I don’t personally believe in writing as a useful tool for therapy. Not real writing. And not real therapy.

Yeah, I can see writing an ex-hubby or ex-wife’s name on a weird little straw doll and then setting fire to it before hurling it over a thousand foot cliff. I mean, I don’t really think it would have the effect you’re hoping for in the real world, but it couldn’t hurt, right?

But that isn’t writing. That’s verbal vindictiveness. It’s murder without a possibility of a conviction. ‘Cause you just murdered the straw doll, see, and not the real person. Well, you know, IF you can call a nasty ex-husband or ex-wife a “real person.” Up to you, I guess.

(For the official record, I did NOT hear from my ex today. I mean my ex had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what I viewed as a generally crappy day. So there’s one bright side.)

Okay, but back to writing for therapy. Then there’s that whole weird thing where you’re advised to write a note or a letter to the victim of your passion. Only then, instead of mailing it, you flush it down the toilet. Or burn it. Or stomp on it and then flush it or burn it.

Okay, seriously, that’s just silly. If I’m gonna go to all that effort, I’m gonna mail it. See what I mean?

Besides, if I did that and then tried to flush it, guess whose toilet would get plugged up? And you know who AIN’T gonna stop by to help me clean up the mess? The ex-whatever.

But seriously, if you decide to try that one, write an actual letter on actual paper. This doesn’t work in any way, shape or form with emails. Plus it could get expensive.

But maybe there is one way for a writer to write for therapy.

Say you sneak away from your life for awhile. Say you put your fingers on your keyboard. Say you begin moving your fingers so that all of a sudden you’re out of your crappy day. You’re running and laughing and screaming and yelling and otherwise generally havin’ a freakin’ ball with your characters.

Now THAT’S writing for therapy. But that isn’t really writing, is it? Nope. It’s playing with your friends.

And playing with your friends is ALWAYS good therapy.

Today’s Writing
As opposed to pretty much everything else, the writing went well. Two good sessions before about 7:30 a.m. I wrote the rest considerably later. I’ll take it.

Fiction Words: 3149

Writing of “The Coming of Simon Stark” (SF novel)
Day 1…… 3800 words. Total words to date….. 3800 words
Day 2…… 1516 words. Total words to date….. 5316 words
Day 3…… 2942 words. Total words to date….. 8258 words
Day 4…… 4261 words. Total words to date….. 12519 words
Day 5…… 3039 words. Total words to date….. 15558 words
Day 6…… 2600 words. Total words to date….. 18158 words
Day 7…… 4634 words. Total words to date….. 22792 words
Day 8…… 3149 words. Total words to date….. 25941 words

Total fiction words for the month………… 54580
Total fiction words for the year…………… 519621

The Journal, Friday, 9/25: Help Bookstores Know Your Print Books Exist

Rolled out early again, about half past 1. My little cat needed me to get up for some reason I still don’t understand. She woke me about 12:30 and I laid there for an hour before she finally nagged me out of bed. (grin)

Did much of nothing the first couple hours again. I’d like very much to change that. For now I guess it’ll be what it’ll be. At the end of the day if I’m making headway on the novel (or whatever writing) then I guess it’s all good.

Nothing to do today but write as far as I know. I have noticed I’m getting more relaxed about writing awhile and then doing other things. I don’t think of them as breaks, really, but I guess that’s how they function.

Took an intentional break to read Dean’s post. It’s a good one. In the topic he talks about getting your indie published paper books into bookstores, how to make sure bookstores know your book exists so they’ll buy it. Yeah, the topic of my post is to send you to Dean’s post to read his topic. It’s important. Go. Read.

Hmm. Just realized tomorrow is Saturday. I like college football, specifically involving LSU (and other teams in the SEC), Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Tomorrow, LSU plays at 9 a.m., OSU vs. Texas OR Tennessee vs. Florida at 12:30 p.m. and Arizona vs. UCLA at 5 p.m. Bet I get a lot of writing done before 9 a.m. tomorrow. (grin)

Today’s Writing
I had a pretty good writing day today. At about 1:30 I went over my daily goal. Since tomorrow might be a short day, depending on what I get done before 9 a.m., I thought I’d press onward.

Lesson 1: Why did I press onward? Goals and challenges aside, being a professional fiction writer is a game of averages. For example, I’ve had three days out of seven when I did very little on the book, but my average (arithmetic mean) over the whole 7 days is well over my daily goal.

Lesson 2: Never be afraid to cut what your Creative Voice (not your conscious, critical mind) is telling you needs to be cut. This book began really taking off after I hacked off the dead weight that was the first 5,000 words or so because it was a different story. But notice that I didn’t “figure that out” with my conscious mind. I listened to that quiet little voice deep inside that told me something wasn’t right.

I still have to write a short story, create a cover, and publish it before Monday at 6 p.m. (grin)

Fiction Words: 4634

Writing of “Simon Stark” (SF novel)
Day 1…… 3800 words. Total words to date….. 3800 words
Day 2…… 1516 words. Total words to date….. 5316 words
Day 3…… 2942 words. Total words to date….. 8258 words
Day 4…… 4261 words. Total words to date….. 12519 words
Day 5…… 3039 words. Total words to date….. 15558 words
Day 6…… 2600 words. Total words to date….. 18158 words
Day 7…… 4634 words. Total words to date….. 22792 words

Total fiction words for the month………… 51431
Total fiction words for the year…………… 516472

The Journal, Thursday, 9/24: Conjoined Stories

Rolled out early, a few minutes after 1. One of my sons dropped by on his way from California to New Mexico (return trip). We visited for an hour or so before I went to bed. He was up and back on the road at around 3. Enjoyed seeing him but any visit messes up the routine a bit.

I was going to walk later this morning, but I’m not feeling well. Nothing serious. Just blah. Sometimes I have a day that just feels like a do-nothing day. This might be one of those. Then again, I never know how it will turn out if I just put my fingers on the keyboard.

It’s now a few hours later. Very odd day with the writing. I write a little, go do something else. Write a little more, go do something else. Whatever I accomplish today will be done in increments of 15 minutes to a half hour.

The story’s going fairly well, flowing and all that, but weird. Something’s wrong. That quiet little creative voice in the back of my mind is telling me so. Hmm. I think maybe that’s why everything’s coming in bits and starts this morning.

Well, until that little voice lets me in on the secret, guess I’ll just keep at it. (grin)

Ah! I figured it out. I had heard of this, but I’d never had it happen to me, at least that I can remember. I was writing two stories at one time.

The story about “Norval Babineaux” is going to be a short story or maybe a novella at most. But at about 5,000 words in, the characters in that story handed me another story that’s going to be a novel, only they aren’t in it. How weird is that?

When I’d written around a thousand words today, the separation between the short story and the novel suddenly became apparent. So I cut the short story out of the novel and adjusted the total for the novel.

That’s reflected in the numbers below.

It was fairly easy to separate the two because once the larger story took off (on the third day) all but 339 words were on the novel. (grin) Man I hate math. Well, math that doesn’t have a dollar sign in front of it. I hope this never happens again.

Okay, so if you’re following this stuff at all, in the chart below, Day 6 for the novel is today. Day 4 for the shorter work will be whenever I work on it again.

Today’s Writing
All my writing today was on the novel. After I separated the smaller story out of the larger one, the writing went a lot faster. I’m pleased. (grin)

Fiction Words: 2600 (on the nose… weirder and weirder)

Writing of “Simon Stark” (SF novel)
Day 1…… 3800 words. Total words to date….. 3800 words
Day 2…… 1516 words. Total words to date….. 5316 words
Day 3…… 2942 words. Total words to date….. 8258 words
Day 4…… 4261 words. Total words to date….. 12519 words
Day 5…… 3039 words. Total words to date….. 15558 words
Day 6…… 2600 words. Total words to date….. 18158 words

Writing of “Norval Babineaux” (short story)
Day 1…… 3405 words. Total words to date….. 3405 words
Day 2…… 1487 words. Total words to date….. 4892 words
Day 3…… 0339 words. Total words to date….. 5231 words
Day 4…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words

Total fiction words for the month………… 46797
Total fiction words for the year…………… 511838