The Journal, Wednesday, 1/18

Hey Folks,

I woke up in a bad mood today and with a bad attitude. Not only do I feel like I could chew wheels and spit nails, but I feel like that might be a worthwhile long-term occupation. However, I’ll get over it. Maybe.

I’m not sure why all this is going on, but I’m certain it has something to do with age. Seems everything has something to do with age.

The little girl wants outside badly. But she won’t stay outside very long. And she wonders, pointedly, why I let it get so cold out there.

Of Interest

Nada. A second filler post at Dean’s today. He should be back in form tomorrow.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 2 a.m. Finally got to the novel (in the Hovel) at 7.

Not surprisingly this close to the end of the book, I did a lot of cycling and also moved a few things around. Most notably, some things I’d cut before fit now. So I put them in place and adjusted them a bit to fit the new scene.

All told, by 9:30 I had around 1700 new words. Novel’s still moving right along. And the end is just around the corner, but I still can’t see around that corner yet.

I kind of hope I finish it today. I’d rather do that, even if in a marathon day, than finish it in a shorter day tomorrow and then have to fill the rest of the day with something else. We’ll see.

But the way it’s running, the marathon might happen tomorrow or even the next day. I don’t think it’ll take more than two more days to finish this one. I feel like there are still another five or six thousand words on this one.

Up to the house to change out of my sweats and into my other work clothes. (grin) Back to the Hovel and the novel at 10:15.

Made my daily goal plus a little. As I expected, this is gonna run for at least another several thousand words, so I’m gonna stop early (it’s almost noon) and take care of some Life things.

Thanks for being along for the ride. Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 3285
Nonfiction Words: 370 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3655

Writing of The Claim (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4391 words. Total words to date…… 4391
Day 2…… 3632 words. Total words to date…… 8023
Day 3…… 1416 words. Total words to date…… 9439
Day 4…… 2673 words. Total words to date…… 12112
Day 5…… 4284 words. Total words to date…… 16396
Day 6…… 3159 words. Total words to date…… 19555
Day 7…… 3834 words. Total words to date…… 23389
Day 8…… 4953 words. Total words to date…… 28342
Day 9…… 4982 words. Total words to date…… 33324
Day 10… 3618 words. Total words to date…… 36942
Day 11… 3133 words. Total words to date…… 40075
Day 12… 2964 words. Total words to date…… 43039
Day 13… 3410 words. Total words to date…… 46449
Day 14… 3285 words. Total words to date…… 49734

Total fiction words for the month……… 51362
Total fiction words for the year………… 51362
Total nonfiction words for the month… 12180
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 12180

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 63542

The Journal, Tuesday, 1/17

Hey Folks,

First, my deep gratitude to Michaele for letting me know the Journal wasn’t in her inbox this morning. My apologies. I forgot to check the category box. (grin)

It was a good post. If you’re interested, you can find it at

The baby needed to be close this morning for some reason. Who knows what’s in a little cat’s mind? But that’s fine. The time we get to spend with loved ones is limited and it can end in a blink. I try not to take a minute of it for granted.

With the novel I’m in a Catch 22. And I always do this. When I know the end of a novel is approaching I hesitate to write. Why? I don’t want the story to end because I enjoy writing it. You see my conundrum.

This is why I like to start another one right away. Though (for me) they aren’t nearly as much fun in the early going before the characters and situations mature.

Topic: Exciting News About Pronoun

You will remember I tried Pronoun once before. I was enticed by the fact that they distribute to Amazon, thereby alleviating that particular headache.

Also, Pronoun doesn’t take a cut of your royalties. Their service is free.

However, I was less than satisfied with their interface. And what put a nail in the coffin for me possibly using them was that authors weren’t allowed to pick and choose to whom Pronoun distributed their books. It was all or nothing. So I chose nothing.

Now things have changed. Here are the highlights from the email I received from them this morning:

We are increasing author royalties to 70% for all books priced $9.99 or less and sold in the US and Canada. Yes, even books priced $2.99 and below will earn 70%. For many authors this will translate to double what they were previously earning.

We’re giving authors more choice over distribution. You can choose where you want your book distributed when you publish your book.

We’ve added the option to price your book for free [sic] on all retailers. Based on our data and your feedback, we know that is an important marketing tool for authors.

We’re offering Author Pages. You can now send your readers to one place to find information about all of your books — whether or not they’re published by Pronoun. Plus it’s free.

You can now set up pre-orders for your books across all retailers including Amazon. That means you can effectively plan your book’s marketing campaign with complete confidence.

So the bottom line is, I will try Pronoun again, probably with my current WIP.

Just FYI, books distributed by some distributors seem to sell better for some reason than books distributed by others. For that reason, recently I’ve been tracking sales (loosely) from venues supported by Draft2Digital vs. those supported by Smashwords.

Of course, you can’t distribute the same title from two different distributors. But I have enough titles out there — around 250 now — that I can compare sales numbers from one distributor to the other. I will report any findings here later.

You can find the full official press release for Pronoun at

Of Interest

Nothing at Dean’s today.

If you enjoy casual research, by which I mean mining small gems that might add to your knowledge base, I recommend getting a free subscription to Smithsonian’s newsletter. Here are a couple of examples that piqued my interest from the recent edition.

If you enjoy space stuff, in this video you can watch as a Space X rocket delivers a payload to orbit and then successfully lands back on the launch pad. This is a first, something that was science fiction and is now science fact.

I also recommend the incredibly interesting too. Nothing proves guilt like the rush to cover up a crime.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out right at 2. Per usual I didn’t get started writing early for various reasons. The biggest reason is that I simply didn’t open the file and start on it.

Finally outside around 4 with a cigar and the novel. The day was as socked-in with fog as I am. I opened the novel, but mostly cycled back, adding very little. (That’s a good thing.)

Back outside for a bit, but too damp-cold out there to write (stiff fingers) so back inside to write all of this. Now (8 a.m.) back to the novel.

Very very weird day. I wrote almost nothing — DID almost nothing — all morning. From the time I got up until around noon, I wrote maybe 500 words, all in cycling.

Mostly I was staring at the manuscript, willing something to happen.

Then around noon, I glanced back over my reverse outline and picked out a main character who hadn’t appeared in the story for awhile. I put my fingers on the keyboard and started writing with that character in mind.

By 1:40, I had another 2000 words. It’s a good feeling knowing I’ll at least make my word count today. Easily. And the end of the novel still isn’t in sight, though I still sense it’s close.

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 3410
Nonfiction Words: 870 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 4280

Writing of The Claim (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4391 words. Total words to date…… 4391
Day 2…… 3632 words. Total words to date…… 8023
Day 3…… 1416 words. Total words to date…… 9439
Day 4…… 2673 words. Total words to date…… 12112
Day 5…… 4284 words. Total words to date…… 16396
Day 6…… 3159 words. Total words to date…… 19555
Day 7…… 3834 words. Total words to date…… 23389
Day 8…… 4953 words. Total words to date…… 28342
Day 9…… 4982 words. Total words to date…… 33324
Day 10… 3618 words. Total words to date…… 36942
Day 11… 3133 words. Total words to date…… 40075
Day 12… 2964 words. Total words to date…… 43039
Day 13… 3410 words. Total words to date…… 46449

Total fiction words for the month……… 48077
Total fiction words for the year………… 48077
Total nonfiction words for the month… 11810
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 11810

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 59887

Stigma Dis, Stigma Dat… Whatever

Note: This post was originally scheduled for October 2014. It didn’t post to MailChimp, so I’m posting it again now. I’ve revised the original post so it’s up to date.

Hey Folks,

Received yet another note today from a friend about the “stigma” of self-publishing. What a bunch of crap. There, I said it.

Not only is it a bunch of crap that there’s a “stigma” in the first place, but it’s an even bigger, smellier bunch of crap that anyone who calls himself or herself a writer cares either way. Writers write.

Self-publishing (indie publishing, not going through a subsidy publisher) is just another way to get your work to readers, period. That’s all it is. And if you tell a good story, someone out there will want to read it, period.

Look, if you’re a fiction writer, either professional or aspirant—you know, a person who actually puts new words on the page—and you’re serious about your writing, do yourself a HUGE favor and swing by the website of my unintentional mentor, Dean Wesley Smith. You’ll find it at

While you’re there, please be sure to click the Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing tab and read some of the ridiculous myths we’ve all bought into over all these years.

Now just so you know, Dean is no slouch. The guy has had over 100 novels published with “traditional” publishers since the late 1980s. He goes almost strictly indie now.

One other thing—if you truly are serious about your writing, check out the Lecture Series tab on Dean’s website as well. His video series on Heinlein’s Rules is absolutely essential. It’s $75 and easily, EASILY worth several times more that. Think of it as an investment in your future. Seriously.

Dean’s wife is Kristine Kathryn Rusch. You can find her website at

Kris is the only person in history to win a Hugo award both as an editor and a writer. She’s had hundreds of novels published through traditional publishing, and now does tons of stuff in indie publishing. You want to see a work that literally defines the definition of accomplishment? Check out her Retrieval Artist Series.

Those of you who still feel there’s a “stigma” attached to self-published books, listen up:

Self-publishing doesn’t make a book bad anymore than traditional publishing makes one good. It’s the writing, nothing else.

And because I’m in a good mood, I’ll tell you something else: YOU are literally the worst judge of your own writing. When you’re editing and polishing and rewriting because you think it’s boring or bad or needs to be “punched up,” that’s because it’s in YOUR voice.

You are with your voice 24/7, so OF COURSE it sounds boring or bland or bad to you. But to other readers, it will sound unique— Well, if you don’t polish all the good off of it before you finally submit it or put it up for sale.

A little factoid for you—did you know before WWII there were NO traditional publishers?

That’s right. Only self-publishers and the pulps. There were no trade paperbacks until the late 1940s, but people (even writers, who are getting severely, I mean SEVERELY screwed by the big publishers) seem to think traditional publishing predates the printing press and is the most wonderful thing since that same old clichéd sliced bread. Ugh.

Oh, Dean is also the first person in history to create a monthly magazine (Smith’s Monthly) that contains a complete novel and several short stories and all of the work is his own. Quite an accomplishment.

Stop by and take a look. Maybe it’ll clear away some of that “stigma” for you. Seriously.

‘Til next time,


I am a professional fiction writer as well as a copyeditor. For details, or just to learn what comprises a good copy edit, please visit Copyediting. It costs less than you think.

If you’d like to get writing tips several times each week, pop over to my Daily Journal and sign up. In the alternative, you can also click the Pro Writer’s Journal tab on the main website at


The Journal, Monday, 1/16

Hey Folks,

I love being my age. It’s a built-in excuse for being grouchy about all manner of things. Woohoo!

A couple of days ago, I wrote “One of my Brooklyn guys (that’s him on the left) dropped in to say, ‘Hey, whadda you know from females, am I right?’ To which I replied, ‘Wull, yeah. But it has to be done, right?'”

Then I forgot to add the pic. (sigh)

Okay, so THAT’S him on the left.

Topic: Words (and Grammar and Syntax)

When I was teaching grunt English at ENMU-Roswell a billion years ago, I went to the bookstore one day to sign for a shipment of textbooks I’d ordered.

There, stamped on the box in bold black all-uppercase letters was “GRAMMER BOOKS.”

A poignant moment, that.

But I don’t fault the warehouse workers who inked the stamp and applied it.

And amidst the storm of unruly comments and laughter from the bookstore workers, I was gracious. I forgave whoever put the stamp together in the first place.

But secretly I hoped he or she wasn’t also an aspiring writer.

Daniel Webster once said (paraphrasing here) that common use trumps denotation. But I don’t think he meant that to be used as an excuse by professional writers.

Words, grammar and syntax are the tools of your trade. Know how to use them.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch started this with a small post on Facebook: “When did ‘alright’ become all right? (She grumps after seeing the WRONG spelling in an ad for a national magazine. Sigh)”

My first comment was “So called ‘professional’ reporters once said troops had found a ‘weapons cachet’; they also constantly use ‘likely’ when they mean ‘probably,’ and interchanging ‘infer/imply’ has become acceptable in many circles. The dumbing down continues. Check out the film Idiocracy if you haven’t seen it. Great stuff.”

Seriously, if you haven’t seen Idiocracy yet, find it, rent it, buy it, something. Watch it. It’s a very funny film that almost made me cry. And not because I was laughing so hard. But because it seems prophetic.

My second comment (because this stuff annoys me practically to no end) was “Oh, and I’ve seen ‘a myriad of’ used in two separate articles (one in Smithsonian Magazine and the other [I believe] in Archaeology). So I’ve seen myriad mistakes, a veritable plethora of mistakes, by alleged professionals, the likes of whom would have Cronkite and Murrow spinning in their graves.”

Why Cronkite and Murrow?

Because they were consummate professionals who would be eternally embarrassed had they misused a word due to their own ignorance of the language. An ignorance that shouldn’t exists because they’re professionals.

Writers should take pride in their profession. But instead, increasingly in our dumbed-down society, writers are shifting the responsibility for their writing to the reader: “It’s good enough. The reader will know what I mean.”

I’ll bet you wouldn’t want your heart doctor going in to see whether mabye he could clear that stuff out of those little round tube-thingies leading to your ticker.

Maybe readers will know what the writer means, but not necessarily. And if they don’t, that’s the writer’s fault, not theirs.

My point is, if you want to make your living using words, be more than familiar with the language. Know what words mean, how they’re spelled and pronounced and their proper use. Know the formal rules of grammar and syntax too. If for no other reason than so you can break them, intelligently and intentionally, to create a particular effect in the reader. (Like writing a sentence fragment for emphasis.)

And when some moron slaps a “grammar police” label on you, smile. They’re only acknowledging your superior knowledge and work ethic, though I suppose it would seem sweeter if they actually realized it.

Okay. Grouch session over.

* * *

My kitten constantly acts as a muse, feeding my imagination. When we’re together when a noise of undistinguishable origin occurs, she’ll jerk her head around and look at me as if to say, “Uh! What was that?” Then her eyes narrow as she says, “We don’t really know, do we?” Then, most often, she licks her right shoulder (her version of dropping the mic) and walks away.

Of Interest

See Dean’s Chapter Seven: Writing a Novel in Five Days While Traveling (

Also, it should be Free Fiction Monday over at Kris’ site (

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 2:30 again this morning after sacking out at halftime of the (cough, boring) second NFL game last night. Let’s all get together and ban field goals of less than 50 yards. Or until the last two minutes of the game. Or maybe altogether.

By 3 I was ready to start on the novel. Then I went to Dean’s page to check for comments. Then I scrolled down farther in Facebook, found Kris’ post, and came here to write all of this.

I actually felt my brain kick on around 3:30. (An hour to wake up?) Incredible. Anyway, writing this stuff is almost as much fun as writing the novel, so it’s all good.

After I wrote the topic above, I copied/pasted it over to my big blog.

And just like that, it’s 4:45. I have to let the chihuahua and the other cat out of their kennels (where they like to sleep). So I’ll start on the novel around 5 this morning.

Well, more delays. The girls (cats) both went outside, so I went back outside to make sure the little one stayed in the yard.

While outside, I started reading Dean’s latest (see “Of Interest”) and in about five minutes a very light snow started falling.

Snow is water, and I’ve heard that water is bad for computers, so back inside, then out with my flashlight to circle the house, driving cats ahead of me, to get them back inside too.

So now, 5:40-ish, I’m starting on the novel again. Three full hours after I got up. And I have a routine appointment with my doctor at 10:30, so I want to get as much done as I can between now and then.

6:30, 800 words added and I’m taking a brief break.

Well, that turned into a shower and getting dressed for the day. A little after 7, back to the novel.

A good session, though I’ll have to cycle back through this very detailed chapter carefully later to make sure all the details are in place. In to make breakfast around 8, back to the novel around 8:45.

I read back over the most recent chapter (the detailed one) and added very little. Close to an hour, mixed with popping up and down to do other things. At quarter to 10 with a little over half my word count done I stopped writing at a good place. I’ll start again after I get back from seeing the doc.

Back later than I expected at 1:20. Then I heated up some beef tamales and ate. I almost called it a day after that because I also have some work I want to do on the 4-Runner. But I’ll write a bit longer and see what happens. So 2 p.m. back to the novel.

Well, I knocked out a couple hundred words in almost an hour. I also talked with my wife and let the cats out and back in about four times.

I’ve had an old quilted black bomber jacket for several years that I really like. The only thing it’s missing is a hood, so Miss Mona is making one for me.

The jacket was finished and the girls went into the house just before 3 p.m. So I moved myself and my computer out to the Hovel to get a little writing done. (grin)

Well, for the first day in awhile, I didn’t reach my goal. But I stopped at a very good place. Had I continued, probably those 36 last words would have ended up in the “cuts” bin.

I sense the end of this one is near, although (thankfully) I can’t see it yet. We’ll see.

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 2964
Nonfiction Words: 1350 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 4314

Writing of The Claim (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4391 words. Total words to date…… 4391
Day 2…… 3632 words. Total words to date…… 8023
Day 3…… 1416 words. Total words to date…… 9439
Day 4…… 2673 words. Total words to date…… 12112
Day 5…… 4284 words. Total words to date…… 16396
Day 6…… 3159 words. Total words to date…… 19555
Day 7…… 3834 words. Total words to date…… 23389
Day 8…… 4953 words. Total words to date…… 28342
Day 9…… 4982 words. Total words to date…… 33324
Day 10… 3618 words. Total words to date…… 36942
Day 11… 3133 words. Total words to date…… 40075
Day 12… 2964 words. Total words to date…… 43039

Total fiction words for the month……… 44667
Total fiction words for the year………… 44667
Total nonfiction words for the month… 10940
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 10940

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 55607

The Journal, Sunday, 1/15

Hey Folks,

REALLY slow start today. Not with the story. It’s fine. I just stayed up too late and then had a bout of insomnia. So a lot of waking-up, dawdling time this morning.

Drizzling rain here this morning. When I’d been up about an hour, I, a good cigar and my second mugga coffee headed outdoors with my laptop to play Spider, read some stuff (see “Of Interest”), etc.

Of course, halway through the cigar (about a half-hour) it started sprinkling. I set up an umbrella, but the stuff was just heavy enough that it was still splattering and leaving minuscule droplets on my computer. Sigh.

So inside with the computer (cigar under the umbrella) then back outside to commune with nature for awhile. Huddled under an umbrella. On a cloth office chair. Crap.

Inside to put the chair in the house, then back under the umbrella, this time with just me, the cigar and the coffee. Good stuff.

I was wearing my medium-weight jacket (it’s about 45° outside with a light breeze) and the collar wraps around. That put me in mind of an old detective-type trench coat.

And suddenly I was a guy standing under an umbrella in the pre-dawn darkness at an outdoor café in a new town with which I am not familiar. (Character with a problem [rain] in a setting.) Not sure how I got there (or why) except there’s a crime to be solved. Don’t know what that is yet either.

Maybe my next novel will tell me.

I’ve been jonesing to write a series with a recurring main character but with different storylines for each novel (instead of one long, ongoing story). Maybe this is it. We’ll see.

Or I’ll write another psychological/sociological SF. I love writing those.

Quick Quiz

1. What differentiates SF from other genres?
Answer: Setting. (Really. That’s it. Nothing else.)

2. What one genre trumps all others?
Answer: Science Fiction/Fantasy. If a story has even one element of SF in it, it’s an SF story.

You can write Horror, Psychological Suspense, Western, Romance, Thriller, etc. If you place the story in an SF setting, it’s SF.

From the Wow Department

The philosopher Seneca in his letters to his cousin Lucilius, wrote, “Who knows what a day is worth? Who understands that he is dying every day? Our mistake, you see, is in looking ahead to death. A good deal of death has already passed. The years which have so far gone by are in the hands of death. So, do what you claim to be doing, and embrace every hour. In that way you’ll be less dependent on tomorrow if you set your hand to today. Life flits by while things get put off.”

Of Interest

See Dean’s Chapter Six: Writing a Novel in Five Days While Traveling ( Great stuff. Be sure to read to the end. A gem on focus and making choices.

From a comment on Dean’s post from Chapter 5, “Here’s an older article from Scientific America article that discusses major flooding in the past. It’s a current topic and you might find it useful in your time travel stories.”
California Megaflood: Lessons from a Forgotten Catastrophe (

And a family in Russia lived so deeply inside Siberia that they weren’t aware of World War II (

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 2:30, but did very little until around 5, when I finally came here to write this stuff. I’ll start on the novel shortly.

Finally to the Hovel during a break in the rain, around 7. By 7:30 I had 600 more words, cycling, filling out a scene.

Oof. Hard to stay motivated today. Took an extended break from around 8 to 9:30. Conscious mind keeps saying it wouldn’t kill me to take a day off (an unreasoning fear). But I’m still more afraid of missing my word count than anything else.

Well, I made it. Not by much, but I made it. And I’ll take it. Off early today.

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 3133
Nonfiction Words: 670 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3803

Writing of The Claim (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4391 words. Total words to date…… 4391
Day 2…… 3632 words. Total words to date…… 8023
Day 3…… 1416 words. Total words to date…… 9439
Day 4…… 2673 words. Total words to date…… 12112
Day 5…… 4284 words. Total words to date…… 16396
Day 6…… 3159 words. Total words to date…… 19555
Day 7…… 3834 words. Total words to date…… 23389
Day 8…… 4953 words. Total words to date…… 28342
Day 9…… 4982 words. Total words to date…… 33324
Day 10… 3618 words. Total words to date…… 36942
Day 11… 3133 words. Total words to date…… 40075

Total fiction words for the month……… 41703
Total fiction words for the year………… 41703
Total nonfiction words for the month… 9590
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 9590

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 51293

The Journal, Saturday, 1/14

Hey Folks,

It’s Saturday, so I’d like to be done a little early. With that in mind, I set firmly in my brain last night that I wanted to get up at 2 a.m.

I used to do that all the time (set a mental alarm clock) back in the day and it always worked. But I haven’t tried it consciously for years. It worked this morning.

Topic: A Reminder to Let It Be

This notion of writing in public, letting others know at least most of the major twists and turns in process, is a little frightening.

I’m human, so I want to impress others. But I’m also striving to be honest in case you might glean something that will help from all this stuff. So I want to lay the process bare.

To that end, despite the fact that the novel has been running, today might be a day of cycling back from the beginning. More likely, it will be a day with a little of that and a lot of letting the story run where it wants to, even though I’m not personally wild about the direction right now.

The novel keeps wanting to turn more to the antagonists’ side of things. That is, those characters keep rearing their heads in unusual ways, taking over.

From the beginning, this story has been about one main character: Jonathan Kirski. But in this novel, the bad guys seem poised to take over. Not the world, so much. They already have that. But the novel itself.

Most of the “good” characters’ thoughts and actions seem boring and flat. But the bad guys are going nuts.

Now, I write off into the dark. So I have to allow the characters to go where they want to go, do what they want to do. But I’m starting to get the sense that this book might go a lot longer than usual and have more cuts at the end than usual.

One thing is for sure: getting to the eventual end of this one is going to be a blast.

Of Interest

Check out Dean’s Chapter Five: Writing a Novel in Five Days While Traveling (

Of great interest to me and I hope to you, check out Patricia Brink’s Interview Questions at Also click the Mike button next to the Patty button above the interview for her husband’s take on “What Patty Should Have Said.” Great fun.

Thanks to Dawn Turner, a great professional writer in her own right, for pointing me to this website.

I also recommend reading Building a Strong Story: 7 Critical Elements ( I don’t necessarily endorse everything in it, but I recommend reading it because you never know what you might find that will help You.

Hey, the big book launches tomorrow! I know you guys don’t need it, but tell your friends, would’ya? They can find The Professional Fiction Writer: A Year in the Life at any online retailer by following this link:

Today, and Writing

Rolled out right at 2 this morning. And it’s Saturday, so I’d like to reach my word count goal early.

Ideally, I’d like to hit my goal before the rest of the house is awake around 6, but that isn’t going to happen today. It might not happen any day. I seem to need an hour for my brain to turn on no matter what time I get up. (grin) One of those age things I think.

I started on the novel this morning around 3. By 4:30 I had just a hair over 1000 words. So one-third of my goal. No cycling back this morning. Just writing. But deep in the psyche of a character (and a female) so my conscious mind messed with me almost constantly.

One of my Brooklyn guys (that’s him on the left) dropped in to say, “Hey, whadda you know from females, am I right?” To which I replied, “Wull, yeah. But it has to be done, right?

From 4:30 to 6 I wrote all the stuff above, read the stuff on Patty Brink’s website, Dean’s stuff etc. Headed out to the Hovel soon. I’ll do the rest of my writing out there. Probably I’ll call it soon after I reach my goal.

In the Hovel around 6:30. In two sessions with a short break in between, I knocked out just a little over 2000 words.

8 a.m. up to the house for breakfast and to see how the rest of the world is living.

9, back to the Hovel. I wrote for about another hour and a half, then moved to the house. There, I wrote for another half-hour or so off and on.

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 3618
Nonfiction Words: 790 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 4408

Writing of The Claim (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4391 words. Total words to date…… 4391
Day 2…… 3632 words. Total words to date…… 8023
Day 3…… 1416 words. Total words to date…… 9439
Day 4…… 2673 words. Total words to date…… 12112
Day 5…… 4284 words. Total words to date…… 16396
Day 6…… 3159 words. Total words to date…… 19555
Day 7…… 3834 words. Total words to date…… 23389
Day 8…… 4953 words. Total words to date…… 28342
Day 9…… 4982 words. Total words to date…… 33324
Day 10… 3618 words. Total words to date…… 36942

Total fiction words for the month……… 38570
Total fiction words for the year………… 38570
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8920
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 8920

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 47490

The Journal, Friday, 1/13

Hey Folks,

I’ve received some interesting and heartfelt comments lately. I appreciate them. I haven’t allowed any of them through as comments on the blog because they were personal rather than of interest to writers. But I’ll always respond privately.

Several (thank you) offered blessings. One was a tad derogatory.

What I write in this Journal never is for self-aggrandizement. Trust me, I have a big enough ego that I don’t need that. (grin)

In every case, I choose to share personal matters that I feel might help you in your own struggles with writing. This isn’t altruism in any form. If it does me no harm, costs me nothing and might help someone else, why not share it?

Some would argue that I occasionally share personal matters that are not related directly to writing. That’s true. However, in every case they affect my writing time.

From my perspective, I do that because we’re all in this race together.

I share non-writing related events that affect my writing time because similar events in Your life might also affect Your writing time. And how I handle them in my life might (or might not) be helpful to you in how you handle them in yours.

The notion that each of us is required, when faced with a new problem, to figure it out and solve it on our own is ludicrous to me. So I share my experiences.

That really is all there is to it.

Of Interest

See Dean’s Chapter Four: Writing a Novel in Five Days While Traveling ( Great stuff.

I missed this yesterday: Check out Kris Rusch’s Business Musings: All Romance Ebooks & Visions of The Future Part Two (

Today, and Writing

Rolled out way late at 3:40. (I do realize this seems an odd time to put after “way late.” If you’re used to rising at say 6 a.m., this would be like you getting up at 7:40 one morning.)

However, within about an hour, I was cycling back and writing. The retraining has begun. Now if I can just remember to focus on that.

I got only about 600 words in the first session before my stomach started complaining that maybe my throat had been cut in the night. Food. It wanted food.

Finally out to the Adobe Hovel and back to the novel a little after 8.

By noon, I’d written three sessions (each with a break from ten minutes to a half-hour) and got to within 200 words of my daily word count goal. That feels good. At that point, the rest of the day is easy-peasy.

By 1 p.m. I had another thousand words. Feeling good about the day. As old what’s his name on the A Team used to say, I love it when a plan comes together. (grin)

Subtopic: Just Write the Next Sentence

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that this novel is really flowing along quite well. That isn’t to say I haven’t encountered difficulties at times.

But most often those difficulties come in the form of my conscious mind wanting to “figure out” what happens next.

I’ve been fortunate, in that each time that’s happened thus far, I recognized it for what it is and remembered to Just Write the Next Sentence (whatever comes) and don’t worry about it.

I’m just telling a story here. It’s a fun story to tell and I’m enjoying it immensely, but it’s still just a story.

* * *

Another thousand or so words. Good day today. Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 4982
Nonfiction Words: 580 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 5562

Writing of The Claim (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4391 words. Total words to date…… 4391
Day 2…… 3632 words. Total words to date…… 8023
Day 3…… 1416 words. Total words to date…… 9439
Day 4…… 2673 words. Total words to date…… 12112
Day 5…… 4284 words. Total words to date…… 16396
Day 6…… 3159 words. Total words to date…… 19555
Day 7…… 3834 words. Total words to date…… 23389
Day 8…… 4953 words. Total words to date…… 28342
Day 9…… 4982 words. Total words to date…… 33324

Total fiction words for the month……… 34952
Total fiction words for the year………… 34952
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8130
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 8130

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 43082

The Dawning of Dexter

This is for my granddaughter Amber, who has known Dexter for a very long time.

* * *

When Dexter Murfee Nettleson approached the cash register at the front of the Morning Store, he had everything he needed to create a wonderful day.

He’d found smiles on Aisles 5 and 7, giggles on 3 and 8, and belly laughs on 10. The ones with the hands attached to the sides of the belly were toward the far end of that aisle, but he didn’t mind walking the extra several steps.

A belly laugh wouldn’t carry the same weight if it wasn’t flanked by a pair of hands. And that the hands were in white gloves reminiscent of those worn by Mickey Mouse made them even better.

Perchance Golightly, the lovely young cashier, shared an extra wide smile of her own. “How are you today, Dexter?”

He was so pleased to receive it, he tossed her a giggle.

“Fine, fine,” he said, then flashed his teeth at her as befitting common courtesy.

She juggled the giggle for a moment, but she finally pulled it under control and set it on the front of the conveyor belt.

“No, no, that one is for you, Miss Golightly. A tip for the dealer, so to speak.”

She retrieved it at once and slipped it into the left pocket of her smock. The left pocket was special. She reserved it for candy kisses, Horatio Hornblower Bubblegum, and the occasional slice of slapstick.

She glanced up at him, the faded edges of her smile still in place. “Find everything all right today?”

“Oh yes, everything looked perfectly fine to me.”

Both leaned back, each pointed at the other, and together they yelled, “B’dumpbump, tsh!” Then they both giggled, each issuing one giggle out of their private stock.

“No, no,” he said. “I found everything I was looking for. A place for everything and everything in its place, as they say.

“But really, everything was fine too. And shouldn’t it be, on such a glorious morning as this? After all, in a few short hours we begin the Transition.” He flung his hands wide as if announcing a major new development in the processing of cheese and very nearly dropped a belly laugh and two giggles.

Perchance pretended not to notice, suddenly finding the fingernails of her left hand extremely interesting.

In the interim, Dexter managed to corral his purchases. He arranged them on the conveyor belt. “There,” he said. “All better.”

Perchance said, “As compared with what?” Then she reached for the first item he’d placed on the conveyor belt. “But you’re right. The Transition begins soon. And not a moment too soon, in my estimation.”

“I can’t say I disagree with that, but let’s remain positive, shall we? After all, the Transition is a joyous occasion.”

“As with all Transitions since the dawn of time, n’est-ce pas? But you’re as right as you always are, and who can argue with that?” A mischievous twinkle came to her eyes. “Positivity is the watch word of the day.”

“Of the week,” he said.

“Of the fortnight,” she said.

“Of the month,” he said.

“Of the millennium,” they both said together to stave off the march through years and decades and centuries, then bumped a pair of belly laughs between them.

His had hands on the sides of it, but hers was more demure. As a cashier, she had to maintain a certain decorum, after all.

Besides, her hands were busy raking in his good graces as she verbalized a running oral inventory. “One belly laugh with hands,” she said, “and another, and let’s see, one, two, three—a dozen more. You want these in bags? It’ll save time if you don’t want them in bags.”

“You know better, Perchance Golightly. No, I’ll ingest them here, as I always do.” He raised one finger in the air. “For ‘tis better in all things to be prepared than to wish for things unrealized.”

From long practice, Perchance ignored him. She turned back to the conveyor belt. “And how many giggles you got there? Two, four, six, seven. Ah, eight—that one was jiggling. Nine, so… twenty-three. That it?”

“And the smiles.” He put one finger in the air again. “Don’t forget the smiles. For ‘tis a lazy practice to—”

“I’ll get to them.” She frowned. “But no grins? Dexter, what if you someone is beyond the help a simple smile can give, but not quite ready for a giggle?”

“Oh dear. I knew I’d forgotten something. Getting old, you know.” He turned to glance back toward the aisles. “Where are the grins?”

“I asked you first.” She bared her teeth in a flash and pointed at him. “Gotcha! But seriously—well, not seriously, but you know what I mean—they’re on Aisles 2, 6 and 8, small, medium and fanatic.” She put the back of her hand alongside her mouth and faux-whispered, “The fanatics are on sale.”

He swept one hand along the conveyor belt. “Can you hold these items for me?”

She huffed. “I’ll count slowly. Go, man! Go!”

And Dexter turned as quickly as his massive shoes would allow and flapped back across the store to Aisle 2. There he stopped and turned around to cast a glance, askance, at Perchance. He put his hands out to his sides, raised his eyebrows several notches and shrugged.

Perchance gestured.

Without bothering to face the aisles again, he shuffled sideways to Aisle 3, then 4, then 5. His eyebrows remained ratcheted up.

Finally she huffed again, then gestured and yelled, “Aisle 8, my dear Mr. Nettleson, if you want the fanatics.”

He raced into Aisle 8 and came out a long moment later all but staggering under the weight of the grins he’d picked up.

Perchance never was one to wait for the conveyor belt to deliver affectations. There was too much chance one might ride over the edge and fall into oblivion somewhere beneath the belt. Nobody knew what was under there, and she certainly wasn’t going to be the first to find out.

As she waited for Dexter, she tapped the fingernails of her right hand on the chrome strip in front of the conveyor belt. A rhythm developed. A pleasing rhythm.

Her left hand grew envious. Soon it crept unnoticed from its position near her hip, joined the right on the wide chrome stage, and those fingernails began tapping too.

Within seconds the two sets of fingernails joined in a rapid-fire, staccato flurry of unchoreographed dance steps, the likes of which still never have been seen again.

But as Dexter exited Aisle 8 and moved toward the register again, she came to her senses. She quickly relegated her left hand to the left pocket of her smock. Unlike the candy kisses, bubblegum barrels, and slapsticks, it wasn’t there for storage. It was in time-out to think about what it had done. Oh, it would be remorseful. That much was certain.

In the meantime, in keeping with her promise to count slowly, she allowed her right hand to walk on two fingers toward the first giggle on the belt.

It looked odd, that hand, walking in that limp-step. But the second finger beyond her thumb was longer than the other by almost a half-inch, so the limp-step was necessary. Either that or she’d have to take one step with the shorter index finger, then drag the other along like a weak cousin.

She’d remedied that last year in preparation for the solstice by growing the fingernail on her index finger especially long and cutting the one on the next finger over almost to the quick. But she was repaid for her efforts to eliminate the limp with one fingernail broken—or maybe severely sprained—and the other painfully in-grown. That, she was certain, was a direct result of embarrassment at the jagged edge she’d left on the nail.

And that’s when she realized surgery, or practicing medicine in any form, wasn’t for her. She was a cashier, plain and simple.

Ever since then, when she had reason to tarry while awaiting the return of a forgetful shopper, she had employed either the limp-step or the step-drag-step technique. The latter looked sillier than the former, but it did enjoy the singular benefit of keeping the fingernail polished as it dragged along the conveyor belt.

On the other hand—well, on either hand—she couldn’t wear colors because they, too, would wear off that one nail on the conveyor belt, and that would just look silly. And she liked wearing colors on her nails, so most often she used the limp-step.

An Nee Way, the way Dexter spaced out the items on the belt, she didn’t have to worry about going too fast. Everything had to be spaced just so, according to Dexter. Six inches from one item to the next and so on. It was practically a forced march for her poor right hand from one giggle to the next.

And never mind the extra time it took get from here to there. Dexter was a doll, but he was never mindful of customers waiting in line behind him.

Of which currently there were none, but there might easily have been if there were any other customers around like Dexter. But the only other customer that came in with any regularity didn’t hit the store until the late afternoon. So overcrowding was never really an issue.

Still, Perchance often dreamed of seeing the aisles were as packed with shoppers as with affectations, greetings and the occasional fine comestible. Like shrooms. Shrooms were a delectable comestible, and they often contributed smiles all their own. Or grins and even giggles, sometimes, if a customer selected shrooms from the wrong bin. So why offer the magical shrooms at all? Well, customers do have a right to choose, now don’t they?

Her right hand had walked almost all the way to the last giggle by the time Dexter came huffing up to the register again.

“There!” he said, and lowered his arms into a kind of chute, spilling grins all over the belt. Then he set about spacing them.

Perchance slapped at his hand, lightly so he would know she was joking. “No time for all that, now. Leave ‘em be. I’ll take ‘em where they are. We have to get you out on the street.” And she abandoned the limp-step finger-walk and began raking the grins toward her an armload at a time. “Let’s see four, eight, sixteen, and eight more make twenty-four. So fifty-three all told.” She reached beneath the counter and slapped another grin on the belt. “There. We’ll round it out at fifty-four for you.”

“But I only—”

“Don’t have a hissy, Dex. You’re only paying for twelve. They’re on sale, remember? And this one’s a freebie from me to you. But don’t hang onto it on my account. Use it as you see fit.”

“Thanks, Perchance.”

“Now then, it looks like your total comes to three guffaws, two slapsticks and a hug.”

“Three guffaws? Are you sure? Maybe I ought to put back—”

Perchance rocked back away from the belt, put her hands on her hips and laughed loudly. “There’s one guffaw. I’ll carry the rest. You know your credit’s good with me.”

Dexter flashed his teeth at her again. “Thanks, Perchance.” For a third time, he raised one finger into the air. “The Transition awaits!”

“So it does. Go on, y’old piker. Hit the sidewalk. See you tomorrow.”

And hit the sidewalk he did.

He exited the Morning Store with only a long moment to spare, but fortunately it was the very last building on the very east end of the very first town, locationally speaking, on Earth.

It would be a glorious Transition, a glorious Transition indeed. He looked to the east for a moment and stretched his arms wide to loosen himself up for the day ahead.

He turned around, prepared to dispense smiles, grins and giggles. Among those he would scatter a few chortles left over from the day before, and the ever-popular but less-often induced belly laughs.

Then with the prep work completed for another Transition, he put on the largest, broadest, happiest smile he had, and beamed over the face of the earth.

* * * * * * *


The Journal, Thursday, 1/12

Hey Folks,

Topic: Planning

This kind of goes along with Dean’s post on traveling and writing and my recent post on life events or life rolls and writing. Notice, the common denominator is writing. If you don’t write, substitute the activity that is nearest and dearest to your heart and keep reading. (grin)

I was doing the early morning shift for quite awhile (maybe two years?), getting up at 2 or 3 and hitting the sack at 8 or so.

Then a month or two back, I decided to adjust my schedule back to a more normal schedule, getting up at 4 or 5 and going to bed at 10 or thereabouts.

I made that decision for two major reasons: One was the onset of winter. I don’t stand cold weather as well as I used to, and I’ve never liked it. The other was the revival of “real” television shows, as opposed to the glut of “reality” shows that plagued (IMHO) the airwaves for so long.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I experienced a life event in the form of my grandson needing to move in for awhile. I soon realized this will be an ongoing life roll because it probably will be a long-term thing, meaning I expect it to last from a couple of years to four or five. And with that, of course, comes additional responsibility.

Among my new responsibilities are teaching my grandson to set goals and then work toward them. On some of those, my help is required. For example, his first goal is to get his GED.

Like so many unfortunate youths these days, he was “passed” through school despite having learned (read “achieved”) very little. He completed his senior year of high school without having earned quite enough credits to graduate. But given his knowledge base, that probably was a blessing.

As it happens, I was both a college instructor and a GED instructor for a period of years in a college in New Mexico. So I can help him with that. When the materials arrive in a week or so, teaching classes will become part of my schedule.

For a bit of background, my wife and I have been empty nesters since our youngest son left home close to twenty years ago. Also, our lives have changed considerably since then. For example, I’m a full-time fictionist now. My wife works at a job away from the house five days a week.

So all of that conspired to require rethinking my schedule again. If I want to keep writing (and I do), and if I want to get anywhere near my goals (I will), I have to adjust my schedule so I have time to write.

So I started working my way back toward getting up in the wee hours (2-3) and going to bed at 8-ish. Of course, there will be rare exceptions to my bedtime, but I mean to rise and shine between 2 and 3 every day regardless.

But all of that will do me no good if I don’t manage to write during those early morning hours. The eventual goal is to turn my three thousand word daily goal before the rest of the house stirs. Then any other time I get for writing during the day is gravy.

So far it hasn’t worked out that way with the exception of one morning. But there was that one day.

So at this point I need to renew my focus on that, shove the silliness aside and begin writing a little earlier. Say within an hour after I get up. Starting tomorrow.

If I get up at 3, I should be awake enough to write by 3:30 or 4 (the leeway is to allow flexibility in the plan).

When the writing’s going well, I generally churn out around 1200 words per hour. So I’ll count on 1000. So by 6 on those days, I should be able to hit around 2000 publishable words of fiction.

If I get up at 2, I should be able to hit my daily goal of 3000 words of publishable fiction. I just have to get my work ethic back to the fore.

Of Interest

See Dean’s Chapter Three: Writing a Novel in Five Days While Traveling (

Today, and Writing

Rolled out right at 3 this morning, then set about wondering why. The plan was to wake up, then write for a couple hours before the rest of the house wakes up (see above). But I’d lost sight of that plan recently.

I fiddled around. I actually played Spider solitaire for over an hour. (Yeah, that’ll get me to my goal.) As a result, this morning I headed out to the Hovel around 7, and that’s when I started writing.

I did some necessary cleaning (rodent leavings on a thick window sill right above my desk) then hit about 500 words in the first session, mostly cycling. I also started a new chapter. Then the topic above occurred to me, so I wrote everything above.

9 a.m., back to the novel.

Up to the house around 10 for a sandwich for lunch and some other stuff, then back to the novel by 11:30.

I had a slow, long session as I had to cross-reference some stuff with the earlier novel. Finished that around 1:30 and took a short break. But I’d surpassed my daily goal, so everything else today is gravy.

Back to the novel at 2.

Good day today. Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 4953
Nonfiction Words: 920 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 5873

Writing of The Claim (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4391 words. Total words to date…… 4391
Day 2…… 3632 words. Total words to date…… 8023
Day 3…… 1416 words. Total words to date…… 9439
Day 4…… 2673 words. Total words to date…… 12112
Day 5…… 4284 words. Total words to date…… 16396
Day 6…… 3159 words. Total words to date…… 19555
Day 7…… 3834 words. Total words to date…… 23389
Day 8…… 4953 words. Total words to date…… 28342

Total fiction words for the month……… 29970
Total fiction words for the year………… 29970
Total nonfiction words for the month… 7550
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 7550

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 37520

The Journal, Wednesday, 1/11

Hey Folks,

I learn something new with pretty much every novel I’ve ever written.

Usually that has to do specifically with the writing process, and more specifically with novels. But sometimes I get lucky and learn or realize something that can enhance any storyline, long or short.

Topic: The Five Stages of “Grief”

More correctly, these should be called The Five Stages of Emotional Upheaval. It seems they don’t pertain only to grief.

Most of my stories have a decidedly psychological bent. I love getting deep into the characters’ heads, good guys and bad guys alike. I like to experience their motivations and their emotions.

Usually I explore those emotions through dream sequences or soulful conversations with trusted other characters.

But those are isolated blocks of text. Bam. A dream (or nightmare) sequence (and what it reveals about the character). Bam. A conversation (and what it reveals about the character).

But in the current WIP, one of my characters went farther than that.

A young woman is feeling a bit overwhelmed. Like you might be “a bit overwhelmed” by water if you stood in the path of a tsunami.

Of course, I’m writing off into the dark. But during that process, I suddenly realized the character was progressing through what has always been called “the five stages of grief.”

Only she wasn’t grieving. She had recently shared a brief time, professionally, in an office environment, with a young man.

She never gave any of the others with whom she interacted professionally a second thought. But she couldn’t seem to get this guy off her mind.

Still, their paths were permanently divergent. Of that she and he were both certain.

So when she heard from a third party that the young man had named her as the beneficiary of his life insurance, the news came as a complete shock.

To be sure, she was overjoyed to think he might have the same feelings for her as those she continued to struggle against for him, but due to their individual situations, she still expected never to see him again.

So as she considered that, she progressed through the same five stages people typically go through when they lose someone close to them: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and eventual acceptance.

And upon acceptance — since the source of her discomfort is still alive — she has to contact him. If nothing else, just to ask “What the hell?” (grin)

So there you have it. The five stages of “grief” are also the five stages of any other major emotional upheaval. Use it.

Of course, you won’t mention “five stages.” You’ll just let the reader hear and see the character progressing through them.

Of Interest

Dean’s Chapter Two: Writing a Novel in Five Days While Traveling (

Also see his 1/10/17 Daily… Some pictures (

Today, and Writing

Rolled out late at 3:45. Same routine with coffee, email, Dean’s site etc.

I started on the novel around 7, cycling back first to take care of a problem that had been nagging the back of my mind. Finally I sliced off the end of a chapter (about 700 words) and nailed it to the front of a later chapter where it made more sense. (grin)

Then I turned on the novel in earnest, knocking out around 1100 words in an hour.

Around 9 I went down to the house and put in a load of laundry. Then I came back up here (Adobe Hovel) and had another, longer session of about 1500 words.

Another trip to the house to put the wash in the dryer and start another load. Then back here to write everything above this.

Back to the novel around 12:30. Another really good session by 2. I’m gonna call it for the day.

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 3834
Nonfiction Words: 620 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 4454

Writing of The Claim (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 4391 words. Total words to date…… 4391
Day 2…… 3632 words. Total words to date…… 8023
Day 3…… 1416 words. Total words to date…… 9439
Day 4…… 2673 words. Total words to date…… 12112
Day 5…… 4284 words. Total words to date…… 16396
Day 6…… 3159 words. Total words to date…… 19555
Day 7…… 3834 words. Total words to date…… 23389

Total fiction words for the month……… 25017
Total fiction words for the year………… 25017
Total nonfiction words for the month… 6630
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 6630

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 31647