A Very Brief Post

Hi Folks,

A very brief post today.

First, I wish you a happy Christmas Eve, a Merry Christmas, a happy and prosperous New Year, and an overall happy holiday season.

I also invite you to check out my Journal for today. Anytime today, please visit This Link. I’ll be updating the post until around 3 p.m.

To make it more valuable to writers and the curious, from this day forward the Journal will contain

  • an introduction in which I will name the Topic of the Day so you’ll know up  front what’s coming
  • an Of Interest section that will contain links to other sources that I have already vetted
  • the Topic of the Day itself
  • a section called The Day in which I will detail my own writing process for that day, what worked and what didn’t. Some writers will find this section of value and some won’t. This is my laundry as a writer, clean and dirty mixed, drying on tight lines strung between T posts in my virtual back yard for all the world to see.

If you haven’t tried the Daily Journal yet, or if you tried it and didn’t care for it, I hope you’ll visit today’s post and see what you think. Then, if you would like to subscribe, simply click The Daily Journal link either here or in the header of either website. As always, it is free of charge.

All best,

Harvey

Setting Goals — 2016 Is Almost Here

Hey Folks,

If you’re a human being with dreams and aspirations, this is a great time to be thinking about what you want to attain or achieve in 2016.

If you’re a writer, that means thinking about goals.

At the minimum I recommend setting a daily writing goal, one that automatically resets at the beginning of each time period. If your goal is to write 1000 words per day and you meet or exceed it, great. At the beginning of the next day, it resets to zero and your goal is to write 1000 words. See how many days in a row you can meet or exceed your goal.

One caution here— Set realistic goals. By “realistic” I mean goals that you know you can reach, but that make you stretch a bit. If you find yourself meeting your goal continually, you might want to raise it a bit. If your set your goal too high so that you very seldom reach it, and if that starts to become disheartening for you, lower it a bit.

I also recommend setting a mid-term goal. What do you plan to accomplish before January 1, 2017? It’s only a year away. And what about long-term goals? What do you plan to have accomplished by January 1, 2021? January 1, 2026? Those are only five and ten years away.

A Quick Discussion of Goals vs. Dreams

Beware of confusing these two.

A goal is something that is within your control, at least for the most part.

For example, writing a certain number of publishable words of fiction per day is within your control unless some sort of emergency derails you one day. And if it does, that’s all right because the goal resets the next day.

Writing a certain amount every week also is within your control, again, more or less. You could write a short story every week and see how long you can keep that streak alive. It isn’t as easy as it sounds. (grin)

A dream, on the other hand, is in no way, shape or form within your control.

A dream might be to hit the bestseller lists with your first novel, or to make a million dollars on your first novel. That’s a wonderful dream, and I hope you achieve it, but if you do it won’t be because you decided it would happen. Too many factors are not within your control.

So by all means, dream and enjoy it.

But in the meantime, set realistic goals. Setting goals is your best shot at realizing dreams.

My Goals

Before I do this, one disclaimer — Your goals don’t have to mimic mine. We lead different lives and have different priorities, and that’s fine. If you surpass me by a bunch, I’ll applaud and cheer you on. If you attain your goal of writing only one hour per day, four short stories and one novel per year, I’ll applaud and cheer you on.

If you are a writer, what matters is that you write.

My goals are based on writing approximately 1000 publishable words of fiction per hour. That’s only 17 words per minute. Leaves a lot of time for staring off into space.

So here are my personal writing goals. I know I can achieve them because I’ve achieve them before. But they’re big enough to make me stretch. If you’d like yo watch my progress (or hold my feet to the fire), Sign Up for my Daily Journal.

Daily:

  • 3,200 new publishable words of fiction per day, plus whatever nonfiction (blog posts, articles) I write.
  • write at least 500 words of publishable words of fiction every day (Going for a streak here. Even if I miss my daily goal, the 500 words will keep the streak alive.)

Weekly:

  • At least one new short story every week. (This was recommended by Bradbury, and it’s a great deal of fun. My previous attempt resulted in a streak that lasted over 70 weeks and about 75 short stories.)
  • 22400 new publishable words of fiction per week (the daily goal x 7).

Monthly:

  • One new novel per month (in addition to the short stories and necessary nonfiction).

Annual:

  • Write at least 12 novels during the year. I would like some of these to be in series.
  • Write at least 52 short stories during the year. I hope, this year, to write at least one story in every major genre except mystery. Mystery just ain’t my bag.
  • Write at least one million publishable words of fiction. If I meet my daily goal for at least 313 days I will exceed this goal by 1600 words.

Side Goals:

  • Create an ebook cover for each of the publications above, plus for the five- and ten-story collections I compile from the short stories (so covers for 12 novels, 52 short stories, and 15 collections—79 covers).
  • Format and publish all works as ebooks
  • Layout and publish all major works (novels, collections) as print booksAlso I will have compiled those short stories into 5 ten-story collections and maybe 10 five-story collections. (Giving readers an option.)

I haven’t set my mid-term or long-term goals yet.

Fiction Lengths

For the sake of full disclosure, and because it seems appropriate to this post, here are my personal definitions of the various lengths of literary genres. This is a brave new world in which we no longer have to worry about hitting a certain page count (a certain folio) for traditional publishing’s price points:

6 to 99 words — Flash Fiction
100 to 2,000 — Short Short Story
2,000 to 6,999 — Short Story
7,000 to 9,999 — Long Short Story (or Novelette)
10,000 to 29,999 — Novella
30,000 to 39,999 — Short Novel
40,000 to 69,999 — Novel
70,000 — Long Novel

Okay, looks like that’s it for this time. See you on January 1 with a new post of interest to professional writers and aspirants.

‘Til then, happy writing!

Harvey

Remember, to sign up for my mad diary of a professional writer’s journey and learn by osmosis what to do and what not to do, click The Daily Journal.

To receive a free short story every week in your email, click Story of the Week.

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 paypal.me/harveystanbrough. 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.

A Revised Baker’s Dozen: Thirteen Traits of a Professional Writer

Hi Folks,

I’m sending this out a little early because, darn it, it’s the Christmas season and I wanna give you a few presents. I’ll slip in an appropriate post on the 21st just to keep the routine of every ten days going. That’s when this one would have gone if I’d left it to its own devices.

First, Merry Christmas. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope you have an enjoyable holiday season. Also, I hope you will accept the contents of this post as a small token of my appreciation, a minor gift for your attention over the years.

Here are thirteen traits of a professional writer.

The first five are a true gift to anyone who wants to be a professional writer. They are what Robert Heinlein called his “business habits.”

Note that these five rules have nothing to do with whether or not you like Heinlien’s work or want to write science fiction (or any other particular genre). If you want to write fiction, period, and if you follow these five rules, you will be a professional writer:

  1. You must write.
  2. You must finish what you write.
  3. You must not rewrite.
  4. You must put your work on the market (submit your work so publishers can buy it or publish it so readers can buy it).
  5. You must keep your work on the market (keep it in the mail until a publisher buys it or keep it published so more readers can buy it).

To get my annotated paper on Heinlein’s Rules (it’s free) Click Here. (Clicking on the link will open a new window and enable a PDF download. When the file opens, click File in the upper left corner of your browser and then click Save Page As and save it to your desktop.)

There are more free things in PDF format at the Free Stuff tab above, including The Rise of a Warrior, Book 1 of the Wes Crowley series. It’s available here for download in PDF, but you can also Get it free at Smashwords in Kindle (.mobi) or Nook/Apple (.epub) format. Enjoy!

The other traits of a professional writer are in no particular sequence:

  • You are an avid reader in the genre(s) in which you want to write.
  • Writing is high on your list of priorities, and it’s Great Fun! not d-r-u-d-g-e-r-y. Seriously, don’t torture yourself. If ANYthing you’re doing 1) is drudgery and 2) is not your money-making job, for goodness’ sake stop doing that and find something else to do. Duh.
  • You hunger to continue learning the art of storytelling, and you actively seek instruction from successful long-term professional writers (a few novels does not a career make). You take criticism from those with less experience with a MASSIVE grain of salt. Or not at all.
  • You are a professional. You check your manuscript for typos, punctuation gaffes and wrong-word usages (e.g., waste for waist or solder for soldier) before even thinking of sending it to a publisher (or indie publishing).
  • You look at writing as a vocation, not something you do for therapy or because it’s a “calling.”
  • You understand that style manuals, making sure your grammar and syntax are perfect, and political correctness have absolutely N-O-T-H-I-N-G to do with creative writing. (The subconscious creative mind creates; the conscious, critical mind destroys.)
  • Holidays and other interruptions are incidents during which you slap on a fake smile and “get through it” so you can get back to your writing.
  • You are vaguely aware of the occasional presence of other people in your life. You believe they might even live in your house as they seem to be there with some regularity.

As Algis Budrys wrote in his book Writing to the Point, “Your writing cannot be done by anybody else but you. Also, when you are not actually doing it, you are doing something other than writing. … Many people who call themselves writers spend very little time doing writing. … That very rare person, the real writer, in effect just writes. When they’re not actually writing, they’re resting from writing, and they get back to it as soon as they can.”

You can get Writing to the Point and several other great writing books in a bundle for next to nothing. But only through December 27. To see the bundle, Click Here. I strongly recommend this, and no, I don’t get anything out of it if you buy a bundle. But you will get a great deal out of it.

Researching is not writing. Rewriting is not writing. Reading or learning, though valuable pursuits, are not writing. Attending writers groups is not writing. Writing is putting new words on the page, period. By extension, a writer is a person who does just that.

Til next time, happy writing!

Harvey

To sign up for my diary of a professional writer’s journey and learn by osmosis, click The Daily Journal.

To receive a free short story every week in your email, click Story of the Week.

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 paypal.me/harveystanbrough. 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, Tuesday, 12/15

Hi Folks,

Back on track for writing during my quiet time. In fact, during the wake-up, I wrote an article, basically, to rebuff a HuffPo article in which the author got pretty much everything wrong. As my response was not really long, I’m including it in this post.

For reference, the full Huffington Post article is here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/janet-tavakoli/apple-taxes-authors-patie_b_8711882.html

I hate it when such obviously slanted stuff is offered (and bought, unfortunately, by many writers) as fact. Here’s my rebuttal.

The first sentence of Ms. Tavakoli’s article is an outright falsehood. The rest of the article is misleading at best. No doubt this is the result of either extremely shoddy research or an intentional and very steep slant.

Let me set the record straight from personal experience. I have been selling my works through Apple since 2011. I don’t have an account with Apple, nor do I own any iProducts.

Originally I sold to them through a distributor called Smashwords. I still could but when a new distributor with a much cleaner user interface came online (Draft2Digital, or D2D) I began using them instead to distribute my work to several major venues.

Today, I submit my work (184 short stories, novels and nonfiction books to date) through Smashwords, D2D, XinXii (only long works) and Amazon. As a result, my titles appear within a week in over 400 sales venues and 1200 libraries worldwide.

Ms. Tavakoli’s article is at least in the ballpark where she talks about venue shares of sales, but she completely omitted several major players, including Kobo, B&N, Baker & Taylor, OmniLit, Overdrive, Tolino (Germany), Rakuten (Japan) and Gardners (UK) as well as the subscription services, such as Scribd and 24symbols.

My sales personally are about 50% Amazon, 20% StoneThreadPublishing.com (the reader gets a big discount) and 10% Apple with the rest distributed among the others.

I encourage writers to indie publish. It isn’t difficult, and it’s far better than giving a large share of YOUR royalties to people you will never meet who do absolutely nothing to earn it. I also encourage indie publishers to do their own research and avoid such obviously hard-slanted articles as Ms. Tavakoli’s HuffPo piece. Or email me. I’ll be happy to answer any questions.

Got the notice from CreateSpace that Book 9 of the Crowley series is ready to proof, so I’ll do that later today and then order a few copies of several books so I have sets available.

Later today sometime I also have to write some nonfiction for my other blog.

The Day

Rolled out right at 2. Too cold to let the baby out yet so she’s snoozin’ somewhere. The first hour went by quickly with email that included the stuff above plus responding quickly to some Facebook stuff. Then here to start this. Now to make my second mugga stuff.

I spent another half-hour putting together a list of things I have to get done today. When more than two or three nonfiction things pile up on me and they’re necessary, I make a temporary Do Today list and leave it on my desktop. I won’t think about those things while I’m writing because I have them listed for viewing later.

Off to play with Hal.

Got two good sessions on Babineaux with a break in between before 6:30. Now I’m gonna proof The Scent of Acacias, then order books. I’ll mark that off my list, then go back to Babineaux.

Okay, proofed Scent, ordered enough copies of various books to be able to mail out 4 full sets of the series at a moment’s notice, then dealt with some stuff on Facebook. I guess that’s not too bad for 2 hours gone. Back to Babineaux.

To knock another item off my list I searched high and low for a clock (free or premium) I could download for a website client. She wants something with an ocean theme. They just don’t exist. Sorry Ronny.

There were a few other things I didn’t get done on my nonfiction to-do list, but I’ll move them to tomorrow. Except writing a blog post or two for the Pro-Writers Series. So I’m gonna close down the fiction writing now and go do that.

Back to Babineaux in the morning.

Oh, and Heinlein’s Rules Chapter 4 is up over at Dean’s place.

By the way, I don’t like that this little journal eats up the main page every day. So probably I’m gonna switch this back to a different website. You shouldn’t notice any difference unless you read it on the website. And even then you won’t notice much. Also, service should be uninterrupted.

Today’s Writing

Three good sessions, not a lot of interruptions. Still not the stellar day I’m looking for but not bad either. The novel keeps moving forward so I’m good with that.

Fiction Words: 3056
Nonfiction Words: 1563

Writing of Norval Babineaux
(Words brought forward 5231)

Day 1…… 3059 words. Total words to date…… 8290 words
Day 2…… 3436 words. Total words to date…… 11726 words
Day 3…… 3056 words. Total words to date…… 14782 words

Total fiction words for the month……… 39545
Total fiction words for the year………… 643536

Total nonfiction words for the month… 11895
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 53998 (since September 1)

The Journal, Monday, 12/14

Hi Folks,

Well, on the second day of my new system of writing during my quiet time, I messed it up. (grin)

On the up side, I limited my waking up time to about ten minutes. On the down side, I spent the next two and a half hours on admin stuff, prepping The Scent of Acacias for layout for print. Sigh. I forgot I hadn’t done that yet.

I already have folks wanting boxed sets of the trade paperbacks. Hard to sell those when I don’t have them prepped yet. (grin)

I need to name my writing computer. Maybe I’ll call him Hal as a nod to 2001: A Space Oddyssey. I’ve always found it disrespectful that Picard barks “Computer” to preface a request to the ship, yet he recognizes the android/robot Data as a viable life form.

The Day

Rolled out right at 3 after a rough night, the first part of which I spent sitting up on the couch. I keep saying I’m gonna get a recliner, but if I do that I might not ever get anything done again. (grin) Little girl cat came in and got me around 11, so I picked her up and we both went to bed. She’s such a good kit. She takes care of me as much as I take care of her. Give that girl opposable thumbs, there’s nothing she couldn’t do.

So email and the first mugga coffee, then the stuff above and then here to start this journal entry. And now it’s almost 5:30 and I’m turning for the first time to my old buddy Hal.

Today’s Writing

Well, Hal and I did all right. We did a little more reconstructive surgery, but mostly just writing off into the dark. I love that. Especially when I have talkative characters, a tense situation, and a desire on the part of one of the “good” characters not to defuse the situation but to nuke the bad guys.

Okay, the scene I’m talking about was a five year old girl and a six year old girl facing down five older kids. So no nukes, but some serious attitude adjustments. Great fun.

Today I worked through three “normal” sessions of about an hour and two shorter ones.

I think I have one more wound to close tomorrow (maybe two), and will do a lot of writing into the dark to cover the patch. After that it’s onward and outward to the end.

Y’know, I enjoy these characters so much, I hope they do somethign I can turn into a true series. (Not a saga, one long story, like the Wes Crowley thing, but an actual series.)

Fiction Words: 3436
Nonfiction Words: 492

Writing of Norval Babineaux
(Words brought forward 5231)
Day 1…… 3059 words. Total words to date…… 8290 words
Day 2…… 3486 words. Total words to date…… 11726 words

Total fiction words for the month……… 36489
Total fiction words for the year………… 640480

Total nonfiction words for the month… 10333
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 52435 (since September 1)

The Journal, Sunday, 12/13

Hi Folks,

Today is the first day of me going back to writing earlier instead of allowing my quiet time to be taken up with other nonsense.

I’m allowing myself a half-hour to an hour and a half administrative time. During that time I’ll check and respond to emails, update my Fiction spreadsheet and tend to other administrative matters.

I’ll also take care of the kitten and come here to begin the Journal entry for the day.

Today I’m going to try something I haven’t tried in awhile. I’m anxious to get back into writing something longer than a short story. So in a few minutes I’m going to open my file on Norval Babineaux. (The Advent of Simon Stark novel sprang from it earlier.) I like the characters and the setting, so I’m going to go back to it. I’ll read through it first, then put my fingers on the keyboard and just write whatever comes.

Below you’ll see a “brought forward” number of words (not new words) and then new words written after that each day. If it works out the way I expect it will, it will turn into a novel or novella.

The Day

Rolled out a little before 2. Email, coffee, the kitten and here to write the above. This morning my admin time took a little over two hours. It included updating my Fiction spreadsheet with new buy links (D2D sends me an email when a title is available at a new vendor) and selecting a few professional pics to share with a friend for a cover she’s trying to put on her latest title.

Okay, almost 4 a.m. so now to Norval Babineaux.

I started reading through Babineaux, allowing myself to touch it here and there as I moved through it. All of this was in creative voice, just reading and adding what sprang to mind natuarally. I wasn’t looking for how many times I used the word “that” or any of that nonsense.

About halfway through the reading I took a mandated break to conduct a catch and release on a mouse that my little girl cornered in the living room. Didn’t have to move furniture, etc. and this one took all of five minutes from spotting him to dropping him over the back fence. It’s that time of year, but I really wish they’d find somewhere else to go.

Read through some more, added maybe another hundred words and took a break to fill an order for The Wes Crowley Saga direct from StoneThread Publishing. Cool. He got a better price than he would have anywhere else, and the author (I) got a bigger slice of the pie. Win win.

In case you’re wondering, here are the figures:

The author gets 85% of the retail price for direct sales at ST Publishing.
The author gets 82% of the retail price for sales at Smashwords.
The author gets 68% of the retail price for sales at B&N, Kobo, Apple etc. BUT
The author gets only 35% of the retail price for sales at Amazon. (Go figure.)

Took a break from 8:30 to about 9 a.m. to do some other little stuff, and I’m going back to the story now. Gonna hit it until about noon. That’ll get me through what I wrote originally and maybe plus a little. Then I’m gonna watch football, probably for the rest of the day. I might get back to ol’ Norval today, but probably not.

Today’s Writing

Okay, I did a few reading sessions, each time adding maybe 10 to maybe 20 words.

Then three decent new sessions for the totals you see below. Not bad for a (voluntarily) abbreviated day.

Fiction Words: 3059
Nonfiction Words: 650

Writing of Norval Babineaux
(Words brought forward 5231)

Day 1…… 3059 words. Total words to date…… 8290 words

Total fiction words for the month……… 33053
Total fiction words for the year………… 637044

Total nonfiction words for the month… 9841
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 51943 (since September 1)

The Journal, Saturday, 12/12

Hi Folks,

This was mostly a non-writing day. I wasn’t really planning it to be a day off, but that’s how it turned out. So about 2:30 p.m., I called it.

Suffice it to say I really need to start getting two to three hours of writing done while the world is quiet in the early morning hours. Then no matter what happens the rest of the day, at least I got something done.

The Day

Woke up around 1 to rain pounding on the roof. Dozed off and on until I finally crawled out a little before 3.

The rain had stopped so I let the little girl out to play. Got my coffee, checked email, kicked around on Facebook. All of that was about a half-hour. In all that time I never checked the weather site.

Then I heard something that sounded like a train. I thought it was raining again, hard, but it didn’t sound quite like that. Worried about the baby, so I got my ball cap and sandals and flashlight and went out looking. HUGE wind and sleet/snow. Found her, got her in, then started to publish the story I wrote yesterday.

Well, I read over it first since I was dead tired when I wrote it. It wasn’t bad, but I added almost 500 words and adjusted the character’s voice to one of my favorite “attitude” accents. So I updated it below. I had hoped to write a lot more today. Uhhh, no. But that’s all right. Writing is a game of averages.

Also updated a page on the publisher site with buy links and did some other little stuff there. Then I came here.

With the little girl in and wanting out, I type a little (nonfiction stuff, website stuff), and a cat passes between me and the keyboard. I type a little more, and a cat passes between me and the keyboard. It’s a cycle, like the tides. (grin)

So that was the first couple hours.

Makilak 180Okay, I created a promo document and a cover for the new story. I like the cover, so I’m putting it over there on the left again. Got the thing published to my current three distributors.

Then I sent an email to Smashwords asking them to please update the Channel Manager on their site so it has a bulk option. I have over 180 titles on their site. Every time they add a new market that I’m already selling to through a different distributor, I have to go line by line through four pages of entries, stop at each title, scroll to the side, then click a radio button that says Opt Out. (The other distributors all have options to opt in or out in bulk.) So we’ll see how that goes.

Got the story and cover published also to the Short Story page on my website and pre-posted as the free short story of the week for February 22. 🙂 For the short story page, that makes 119 short stories. Who knew 119 would not be a prime number? But it’s 17 rows of 7 pics. Go figure.

I ate a quick breakfast at my desk around 6:30, then started skimming pictures. A few days ago I was tasked with going through some of my landscape photos to select several to have printed and send to the kids for Christmas gifts.

My photos are not organized. Which is like saying at 2 p.m. on any August day in Yuma it will be a little warm. In my Photos folder I have 140 subfolders, each with anywhere from 100 to 800 or more pics inside.

I started picking pics at 7 a.m. and by 7:30 I had a few picked out, with a few more to find. Then the best-laid plans of a man (me) were overruled by the best laid plans of a mouse (I call him Jonas). I hadda go capture Jonas, transport him outside and drop him over the fence. Amazing how agile those little things are.

I wound up moving a dining room table, a treadmill, an antique wash stand, a gun case we inherited from Indiana, and various and sundry other smaller items. All this time I was packin’ heat in the form of a 3w x5l x3d thin-cardboard box, a stiff front cover from an old small Marine Corps logbook (to cover the box once the mouse was trapped inside) and a small but bright flashlight (to find the mouse by the glare of his beady little eyes). All of that in two hands. Oh, it was a great deal of fun.

So the Jonas Games started right at 7:30 and ended right at 8:30 with me depositing him over the back fence. He scurried off with never so much as a by your leave or adios or anything else.

Then I went back to selecting photos. It was a pretty quick and much less selective process from there on out. But it still took until 9 a.m. to be done with it.

That was over five hours ago. Ugh. I don’t hover well, folks. I hover sort’a like a rock. Let me explain.

Please understand, I realize I’m probably wrong from the outset on this— I’m a guy, after all— but I tend to make up my mind about what I’m going to do, and then I get up and do it. Or I make up my mind that I’m NOT going to do something, and then I move on. It’s a simple, easy, stress-free, hover-free way to live.

I’m not good with hovering. I am not the guy who would ever put together a committee to study the feasibility of meeting to determine whether we should meet to consider locking the doors and turning out the lights when the meeting is over. No sir. I’m more the kind of guy that people like me would hire to stroll past that meeting room and toss in a live beehive just to add a little color to those poor souls’ drab existence. Or a CS (teargas) grenade. Whatever.

To slap you with a cliché, life’s too short to spend it hovering. Do or don’t do. And for goodness’ sake, if you ever DO want to hover, go hover someplace where there’s a pool table and some friends with beer money and call me. Well, I guess that wouldn’t really be hovering, would it? That’s a decision. And a pretty good one.

Okay, so for the last five hours I’ve been caught up in a vacuum. So I’ve been doing things that require concentration but not unbroken suspension of the beta state of consciousness. So no fiction writing.

I worked on the slides for the neat little slide show on the home page of the publisher site. I created each slide myself a couple weeks ago. I re-created five of them today, saved them, resized them, uploaded them, deleted the old ones they were replacing, then put them in place in the slider. Then I experimented with various transition effects and settled on a boring but effective fade thing.

Finally I put a “quick, let’s just get to it already” menu at the top of that home page as well. I don’t like having to go on a quest to find my way off a splash page, so I figure nobody else does either. So now, in addtion to the four photos and three other “picture” links on the home page, there’s also a quick menu at the top.

Okay, interspersed with all the stuff I documented above, I kept coming back here in 10- and 15-minute spurts to add to this post.

Around 12:45 I had a quick bite of lunch. As happens on days that I actually get some writing done, at 1 p.m. I thought about putting my fingers on the keyboard and writing whatever comes. But some days fingers just naturally want to curl into the fetal position. Or maybe that’s the jugular-clutching position. So no fiction writing today, other than the little bit you see below.

Today’s Writing

Added not quite 500 words to the story I mostly wrote yesterday, then did all the stuff you see above, then came here to add this at about 3. I’m gonna post this, then go sit on the couch and sulk while I watch what’s left of the Army-Navy game.

Okay, so at least I got the 483 words, albeit almost inadvertently. Still, better than rolling a zero.

Fiction Words: 483
Nonfiction Words: 1386

Writing of “Makilak Crismazizzle” (short story)

Day 1…… 2913 words. Total words to date…… 2913 words
Day 2…… 0483 words. Total words to date…… 3396 words (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 29994
Total fiction words for the year………… 633985

Total nonfiction words for the month… 9191
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 51293 (since September 1)

The Journal, Friday, 12/11

Hi Folks,

Still under the weather a bit today but definitely on the mend. It feels good knowing by this time tomorrow I ought’a be back to my normal level of unhealthinessicity. (grin)

The Day

Rolled out a little before 3 this morning. Sometime overnight my subconscious set up an alarm reminding me to get the “boxed set” of the Wes Crowley novels out for that one guy who might want it for Christmas. (grin)

So in the midst of my first mugga coffee, I started copying/pasting and formatting. Then spell checking, reparagraphing here and there, revising my use of ellipses and em dashes, etc. Basically I brought the entire series up to my current skill level as a writer. Amazing how much stuff I’ve learned since I wrote the first word of that series back on October 19, 2014.

And no, I don’t usually go back over old stuff. I did so this time only because I was putting the whole thing in one book. And I didn’t change words (except a few errors I found). Only paragraphing really, for readability and pacing. Over 800 pages, just under 415,000 words. Cool.

Wes Crowley Saga 180Created a promo document and a new cover for the overall series (that’s it over there on the left) and then resized all nine novel covers and inserted them in the book as well, one at the beginning of each novel. Isn’t Coralín pretty?

So that’s all I did from about 3:30 right up through 10:30. That was almost an hour ago. Then I published the thing to D2D, Smashwords and Amazon. Then I came here to write this, and now I’m gonna break for a bit, maybe visit Dean’s site (new Heinlein’s Rules stuff over there) before getting to the writing computer.

Sometime in the next few days I’ll do some research to see whether I can find a place that produces the boxed-set boxes. If so, and if they aren’t terribly expensive, and if I don’t have to order a b’jillion of them at one time, I hope to sell this creature through StoneThread Publishing in paper as a boxed set too. Failing that, I might have it put in one Lahahaha HONG volume.

Oops. On break since I wrote the above, and forgot to put the new cover on the publisher’s site and create a new page for that one. So off to do that now, THEN to the writing ‘puter. Here’s the book page if you wanna look at it.

Okay, got the updates done, then had to go find my little girl cat. Now that everything and everyone is where it/they’re supposed to be, maybe I can play for awhile.

Today’s Writing

I just want you guys to know, turning out a lot of words doesn’t mean I sit here and write all day. What it takes is getting to the writing computer, and then writing.

Case in point, at 10:30 this morning I made my first attempt to get to the writing computer. I finally got there shortly before 2 p.m. Hey, stuff happens. And when it happens around here, it seems to always come off the blades of a fan. (grin)

Had three frantic sessions crammed in between other stuff. That’s all right. Had a blast while I was writing. And it’s a funny story, depending on which way your sense of humor is warped.

Now I’m gonna post this (almost 5 p.m.) and put down some numbers.

Fiction Words: 2913
Nonfiction Words: 602

Writing of “Makilak Crismazizzle” (short story)

Day 1…… 2913 words. Total words to date…… 2913 words (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 29511
Total fiction words for the year………… 633502

Total nonfiction words for the month… 7805
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 49907 (since September 1)

Finding the Right Web Browser

Hi Folks,

Right up front, let me say if you have a browser you like, one that works for you, then you might want to just skip this post. I’m not putting this up here as a source of argument, but only to help those who might have found themselves in the same situation.

There are a lot of browsers out there that are NOT Internet Explorer (or the upcoming Edge) or Google Chrome or Firefox or Opera or Safari.

I’m just sayin’, just because those have the big corporations (and the big corporations’ dollars) behind them doesn’t mean they’re the best or even the only choices you have.

If this intrigues you, or if you currently use one of the Big 5 and are ready for a change, read on.

I’ve used Firefox for years. The problem is, I’m an utter two year old when it comes to putting up with things that annoy me and that probably have a solution. The keyword here is probably.

I’ll spend hours, even days, searching for a solution to an annoyance when I know the solution “probably” exists. Fingers crossed.

The problem was this: When I tried to view a video or even open a website that has photos or videos on it (for example, news feeds or weather radar) in Firefox, my computer would slow to a crawl and sound like a fighter jet warming up on the runway.

You know the sound. When the pilot is increasing the engine speed while keeping his foot firmly planted on the brake until the engines are spinning fast enough to punch him into the sky. Then, just as the sweat beads are breaking out on his forehead and his right leg is quivering, the engine hits the right speed and he jerks his foot away from the brake, allowing the jet to rocket down the runway.

Okay, that probably isn’t exactly how it happens, but you get the drift.

Anyway, when I was browsing a website with photos etc., Firefox invoked Adobe Flash, which ran as a separate process and ate up tons of memory. It (over)taxed the processor and slowed the computer to roughly the speed of an abacus in the hands of an untrained chimp.

(Wow, kind’a like overtaxing us citizens slows the economy to roughly that same speed. Fascinating. Oh chill. I’m kidding. You know, probably.)

ANYway, as ALL humans do in ALLl human endeavors in which conflict is trump, I finally sought change only when the pain of keeping my current browser finally outweighed the fear and inconvenience of finding a new browser, moving all my bookmarks, reinserting all my saved passwords, etc.

But that brought up another problem. Which browser?

Now fixing this problem should be as easy as looking at browser comparisons or reading reviews. But it isn’t. Not unless you look at several comparisons from various sources and look for common notes among them.

Ditto for reviews. You have to compare several reviews and study them to discern the kernels of unbiased truth hidden in the bought-and-paid-for-and-therefore-biased text.

And finally, you have to download the new browser, transfer all your stuff (or at least find out how difficult it is to transfer all your stuff) and then use it for awhile and wait to see what happens.

Relatively speaking, I got lucky. Eventually.

Yesterday (?) or the day before, I compared notes (per my griping above) and settled on Opera. I downloaded it, transferred everything (to Opera’s credit, the transfer was easy) and began using it.

I liked the user interface and enjoyed the ease with which I was able to get around on the browser. Everything was fine for a few hours.

Then it crashed.

The browser was still there. The tabs I usually have open (email, harveystanbrough.com and a couple others) were still there. But in each window, the content — all of the content — was replaced with black.

I closed Opera and restarted it, and everything was fine. My tabs all came back even. No problem. Probably just a glitch, so no worries.

Then it crashed again. Same thing, a half-hour later. Okay, so not just a glitch. Sigh.

So I started reading again, comparing notes.

Just in case you’re doing this search yourself, here are the two best comparison sites I found:

http://www.topattack.com/list/best-internet-browsers-review/4 and

http://internet-browser-review.toptenreviews.com/.

There I finally found a few that seemed like good candidates to become my next browser.

I downloaded and installed Internet Explorer 11 and was immediately sorry. Like the rest of Microsoft, it’s far too bossy for my tastes, and it isn’t NEARLY as fast as the two comparison sites above claim it is. Plus it uses a ton of memory, again, as opposed to what a lot of reviews say.

I quickly grew tired of the “big” browsers. I had tried IE twice and hated it both times. Firefox, of course, was out, Google Chrome seemed overly flippant in their lack of desire to allow the end user (me) to set things up for my convenience, and Opera… well, I liked Opera except that it apparently is a crash machine.

So I read in-depth reviews about three other browsers: Pale Moon (based on the Firefox engine but sleeker and faster), Torch (based on the Chromium engine, like Google Chrome, it allows for a LOT more personalization and is not as high-handed) and Sea Monkey (based on the Firefox engine but just as fast as Firefox while using a LOT less memory).

I finally installed Pale Moon, but the first time I visited a news site that had a few pictures on it and links to videos (not videos, just LINKS to videos), it acted like Firefox. Someone turned the ignition key in an F-16 cockpit and the computer slowed to a crawl. Now the crawl was considerably faster than the Firefox crawl, but a crawl is a crawl.

Thing is, I can’t abide a crawling browser. Let me explain. In my world, I don’t really notice 1/60th of a minute as it ticks past, but I can get a lot done in, say, 15 seconds. So in my world, a minute has four 15-second segments. In my world, an hour has 240 of them. Not just 60 minutes, but 240 quarter-minutes, during which I can be accomplishing things IF my browser isn’t crawling along, sapping my strength and my patience.

So the search continued. All of that was on Day 1 of my search.

On the morning of the second day, fresh out of bed at 3 a.m., I grabbed a cuppa coffee, turned on Pale Moon, opened a new tab and began comparing browsers.

I swear, I thought I heard my computer say in a soft, almost menacing voice, “What are you doing, Harvey?” (see 2001: A Space Odyssey)

And yes. Aloud I said, “Nothing. Nothing, ProBook 6460b. Everything’s fine.”

Then I downloaded the installation files for Sea Monkey (http://www.seamonkey-project.org/) and Torch (http://www.torchbrowser.com/).

Torch downloaded first, so I installed it and TADA! it’s working great.

If it continues to work well, that will be the end of my search. If it doesn’t, well, I still have the installation files for Sea Monkey set aside, so we’ll see.

If you have any questions about any of this, please ask in the comments section below.

UPDATE: Since I pre-posted this, I resolved most of my issues by changing my Internet Service Provider (ISP). Apparently I was using one that sent signals, primarily, via clay tablet. Once I converted to one that uses actual electrons, my service improved greatly. Still, the above seemed like a useful post so I decided to leave it here.

‘Til next time, keep writing!

Harvey

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The Journal, Thursday, 12/10

Hi Folks,

Okay, I had a bit of a rough night last night, but the lag isn’t too bad. So my goal for today is to write two separate short stories. If I can do that, I should shoot straight past my daily publishable-words writing goal.

This is my way of jumpstarting myself back into writing after finishing the novel. Helps me avoid the post-writeum depression.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t celebrate finishing a novel. For one thing, that would be like a mechanic celebrating putting an engine back together after an overhaul. Plus it means I’m leaving behind some people and situations I enjoyed, so what’s to celebrate?

On the other hand, I do celebrate a great scene coming together or a great ending and resolution falling into place, as it did yesterday. That’s like the same mechanic feeling satisfied that during the overhaul he increased the horsepower by 20 percent. (grin)

The Day

Rolled out just after 3 this morning, mostly awake, so I must have gotten more sleep than I thought.

Little girl cat (my youngest daughter) helped with that. She stayed in bed last night until about 2:30 when she came strolling in and jumped up on the couch beside me. She groomed for a moment, then curled up in the crook of my elbow and went back to sleep. Good girl. She was my alarm. Then she hit Snooze. Plus she was reunited with Dad. Made me smile. And we call them simple creatures.

So just after 3 I made my first mugful, let her go play, and completed my commute to my office (about 20 feet from the couch, 70 if you add-in the diversion for coffee).

Then I started writing this. Now I’m gonna turn to the writing ‘puter and write something over there. Back in a bit. Oh, it’s almost exactly 4:30.

Today’s Writing

Well, by 10 a.m. I had the first short story finished. Three sessions and two breaks. During the breaks I read Dean’s stuff (he has the first two chapters of Heinlein’s Rules up) and spent about 10 minutes on Facebook with a favorite niece. I also signed up for one of his Classic online workshops.

The Classic workshops are the ones that used to take 6 weeks and he would assign and grade homework, etc. Then he’d leave the lessons up for a couple weeks, then close them off again. He calls these Classic because he stopped carrying them live but he still offers them (sans feedback on homework, which never was personal anyway) for half the price.

It’s a good value at $150 vs. $300. When I get through the current course, I’ll let you know what I thought of it. Oh, also, once you pay for the course, you can go back to it whenever you want. So like I said, it’s a good value.

About 10:30 I decided to work on the drudge stuff for two stories (the one I wrote today and the one I adapted a couple days ago). Okay, so for each of those I created a promo document (title, description, keywords), formatted it (once for Smashwords, once for D2D and Amazon), created a cover and published it to Smashwords, D2D, Amazon and my website on the Free Story of the Week. I’m up to February 15 now with stories of the week. 🙂 Oh, then I updated my Short Story page on my website. Finished all that by 1, then took 20 minutes or so to walk out in the yard. Then back here to record what I’ve been doing, then a shower.

Now it’s almost 2 p.m. I was turning to write another story, but I’m still tired from the coughing bouts last night. So instead of playing with another story right now, I’m gonna clean up a few things, publish this, and then do some reading. I’ll start writing again tomorrow.

Oh, I did figure out how to add my nonfiction writing into my totals. So you’ll see a daily and monthly total beginning today, and an annual total beginning next year, same as with the fiction. Nonfiction includes this blog (the parts that are unique each day) and the Pro-Writers blog. I don’t include emails and all that nonsense. And of course it will be approximate, but probably not off by more than a couple hundred words per year or so.

Fiction Words: 2556 (I’ll take it)
Nonfiction Words: 766

Writing of “Dr. Zimmer in the Amazon” (short story)

Day 1…… 2556 words. Total words to date…… 2556 words (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 26598
Total fiction words for the year………… 630589

Total nonfiction words for the month… 7203
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 49305 (since September 1)