The Journal, Wednesday, 11/30

Hey Folks,

Yesterday was so hectic, I actually forgot to view and listen to the Week 5 videos of the DWS workshop I’m taking right now. So I spent the first couple of hours this morning doing that.

Well, summer in southeast Arizona is officially over. Shortly after the sun came up this morning (pilot light was on, blower wasn’t working yet) it was 21° outside. Ugh. No moisture in the air to hold in the heat of the day. It Is Eye-Cee.

Topic: Horrible Advice

By “horrible advice,” I mean advice from people who recommend you do exactly the same garbage you’ve been hearing your whole life and THAT DOESN’T WORK.

This topic was keyed by an article at BookBub: “Self-Publishing Your NaNoWriMo Book? Don’t Miss These Steps” ( I provide the link NOT because I recommend the article (I Don’t), but so you can see first-hand what bad advice looks like. I intend to defrag (or maybe frag) their advice a bit later in this topic.

Okay, first, as everyone who follows my Journal knows, I don’t like NaNoWriMo. It’s wonderful to get a person started writing. But in every other way it’s terrible. Now, I know some of you like it, and that’s fine.

Most notably, it is actively based on the premise that you should give yourself permission to write a bad “first draft” and then fix it later, and it prods you to involve others in your work (critique, content edits, etc.). There are other bad things about it, but those are the big two.

So with that as the basis, back to the BookBub article.

First, their introductory premise: “Your NaNoWriMo book is most likely not ready for readers today.”

No, if you wrote it in accordance with NaNoWriMo guidelines, it probably isn’t because you INTENDED for it to be bad.

Writing something intentionally bad the first time is like filling a wheelbarrow with dirt a shovelful at a time. Then moving it halfway to where you want it. Then dumping it. Then loading it all back up again and moving it the rest of the way. So metaphorically speaking, how many times you “revise” or “rewrite” or “polish” is the number of times you’re dumping and reloading the wheelbarrow.

But if you wrote the cleanest “first draft” you could at your current skill level, do this:

1. run your contextual spell checker,
2. have someone proof it for spelling errors (yes, even after you ran the spell checker) and wrong-word usages, and
3. publish it and start writing the next one.

IF YOU TOOK NANOWRIMO’S ADVICE and intentionally wrote a “bad” first draft, I advise you to go back through it ONCE, reading for pleasure but with your fingers on the keyboard, and allow yourself to touch it. When you finish, it should be as good as you can make it at your current skill level. This is not rewriting because it’s done with your creative subconscious in control.

Okay, now to the ten points BookBub says you shouldn’t miss (and why you should ignore them):

1. Revise the book (and they say “several times”).

Umm, no. Not even once. I’m a writer. I’m being paid to write. I’m not being paid to rewrite, revise, or polish. IF YOU DO REVISE, REWRITE OR POLISH, YOU WILL POLISH YOUR ORIGINAL VOICE RIGHT OUT OF YOUR MANUSCRIPT.

2. Get critique partners.

Umm, No! I strive not to allow my own conscious, critical mind into my writing. Why would I allow someone else’s? Also, why in the world would I accept advice from someone who isn’t a LOT farther along the road as a writer than I am?

3. Do line edits. (Wow. Under this one, they list “43 Words You Should Cut From Your Writing Immediately.”)

Again, no. This is your proofreader’s or first reader’s or copy editor’s job. And please PLEASE don’t cut ANY words from your writing “automatically.” Words are there to be used. Use them as necessary.

4. Hire an editor.

Okay, yes, a copy editor. But a “developmental editor?” Seriously? How can ANYone else POSSIBLY know more about your characters and your story than you do?

5. Understand your target audience.

Blah blah blah. Everyone knows this is smart. In the real world, it means “Be aware that there’s a reader on the other side of the book.” That’s all. Don’t worry about it. Besides, If you write what you love, readers will come. (Do I need to repeat that?)

6. Choose a great title.

Umm, yeah. Duh. But most often the story itself will give you the title. Again, don’t worry about it.

7. Hire a cover designer.

Okay, but I recommend you learn to do it yourself. I design all my own covers. Most of them take about five minutes if I have already selected the cover photo. This isn’t difficult if you follow a few basic common-sense guidelines.

8. Format your book correctly.

Again, duh. But I wonder why they didn’t say “Hire a formatter?” Anyway, this is also something you can learn, FREE OF CHARGE, by downloading The Essentials of Digital Publishing from my Free Stuff page at my website.

9. Choose retailers and/or distributors.

Yeah, this is kind of misleading. (Like if you stand in the path of a tidal wave you might get “kind of” wet.) As long as you aren’t insane enough to go exclusive with Amazon or anyone else, you’ll do fine on this score. And if you DO go exclusive, well, then you don’t have to worry about stores and distribution, do you?

Here: Upload ebooks to Amazon and Smashwords and let the latter worry about distribution. For print, upload to CreateSpace and then select “Extended Distribution” and you’re done. This advice is gratis from yer Uncle Harv.

10. Create a marketing plan.

Uhh, no. Write the next book. The most effective marketing you can do is to write the next book. And the next one. And the next one. Do that, take my advice on other matters (like #9 above) and understand that writing is about the long term and marketing will take care of itself.

But if you’re stuck on the notion of marketing, I recommend Kris Rusch’s book, Discoverability.

Of Interest

At Dean’s place, An Interesting Assumption ( He flat nailed it. Pretty good daily post below that too.

Today’s Writing

Started on Ray Acuna around 9:45 after writing everything above, checking Dean’s site, etc.

Got about 900 words done in a good first session, then went in and tried to try on my old field jacket from the Marine Corps (17 years ago).

Uhh, No. Seems there’s a three-inch gap down the front that didn’t used to be there. Funny how clothing shrinks over time. Off to the thrift store it goes. Back to the novel at 11:30.

Guess I’m finally back on track with writing. Pretty good day today. Oh, and I’m pleased to announce this feels like it’s gonna be a novel. (grin)

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 3752
Nonfiction Words: 1130 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 4882

Writing of Ray Acuna (tentative title)

Day 1…… 2058 words. Total words to date…… 2058
Day 2…… 3752 words. Total words to date…… 5810

Total fiction words for the month……… 24539
Total fiction words for the year………… 679694
Total nonfiction words for the month… 19060
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 257900

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 937594

The Journal, Tuesday, 11/29

Hey Folks,

Whew! Rolled out a little after 4 this morning, and had an email requesting a list of my books. When I tried to reply, the email bounced. Uh oh.

So I set to work trying to figure out why I couldn’t reply from “”

Finally, almost three hours later, I figured out how to correct the problem. Narrowly avoided a disaster there. But I did avoid it and I learned something in the process. So that would be a win.

After that I finished fine-tuning the list of available titles from StoneThread Publishing (Nick Porter, Gervasio Arrancado, Ray Sevareid, Eric Stringer and me) and emailed it to interested parties. If you’d like a copy of the list, Click Here. It was fascinating to think I wrote most of that stuff in the past two years.

Then I created a new Christmas Sale page on both and and posted the whole thing to Facebook. I did some other little things while all of that was going on. Now I’m gonna take a break (9:30-ish) and then turn my hand to my real job: writing something.

Well, as I read through some of the original Snubbing the Gods, I realized it wasn’t two separate stories: it’s three. This is gonna be fun once I get it sorted out. Three short stories minimum, three novels, or some combination of the two.

Let me ‘splain.

Sometimes (this is only the second time for me) a character who starts out as a secondary character suddenly grows a skin and hair and a personality. He becomes another protagonist, or antagonist.

That’s what happened here. So I think I’m off and writing again, although I don’t have even a clue what to call this particular story. So for now, it’s tentatively titled Ray Acuna after the protagonist.

I took the segment of Snubbing the Gods that introduced Ray Acuna (about 400 words). I read over those first few paragraphs. Then I tossed the whole thing and started over.

So Snubbing the Gods is officially shelved. DOA. Gone. Kaput.

Ray Acuna is shown below. It feels good to be back on track.

Of Interest

Not much over at Dean’s place today. Nothing else that I saw.

This came in late. Over at Kris’s site, Some Holiday Fun (

Today’s Writing

Not a lot, but a lot more than lately. After I read a little about Ray Acuna and got solidly in the character’s head, I put my fingers on the keyboard and wrote what came. Learning all sorts of new things about him and people he knows. Way cool.

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 2058
Nonfiction Words: 430 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2488

Writing of Ray Acuna (tentative title)

Day 1…… 2058 words. Total words to date…… 2058

Total fiction words for the month……… 20787
Total fiction words for the year………… 675942
Total nonfiction words for the month… 17930
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 256770

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 932712

Top Three Tips for Emarketing

Hi Folks,

Awhile back, a lady sent me a request. “Harvey, would you go to my Facebook page, These Three Words, and ‘friend’ the page?” (This is not the actual name of the page, of course.)

In her friendly but business-like email, she then explained a bit of what the page is about, how often she posts to it, and so on. It was generally a good email. But she didn’t include a clickable link.

I emailed her back a quick note asking her to send me a link. I could have stopped there, but always striving to teach, I explained that I was running too hard to take the extra time at the moment to copy/paste the title of her page into a search engine, browse through the responses, find it, go there, and click Like. (Of course, I did take the extra time to explain all that. Wordy, I am.)

She did respond with a link, which I clicked. Then I clicked Like and was done.

But in the brief email that accompanied the link, she also expressed that she wasn’t sure what I meant by “running too hard.” She added, “Perhaps if you slow down a bit you will enjoy your visit to my page.”

Problem is (and this is a problem for which I am grateful), at the time I almost always had several manuscripts awaiting editing or proofreading. I also (at the time) usually had one or more writing seminars to prepare for and new ones to develop and write.

I also had, and still have, blog posts of my own to write and schedule, and free advice to hand out via email when folks ask (and when I know what I’m talking about). Oh, and of course my own writing takes precedence over everything else.

So I had to wonder. If hers was one of those edits in the queue, would she still want me to slow down? But I digress….

Remember, when you ask someone to do something for you, it’s always more important to you than it is to them.

Here, then, are my top three tips for emarketing via email:

1. If you send an email asking the recipients to visit your website or your Facebook or other social networking page, make it easy by providing a link. If they have to go digging to find it, they probably won’t.

2. Include a direct link to your website (Facebook page, etc.) in a “signature block” at the end of every email you send out. Most email programs provide a way for you to set this up so it will appear automatically.

3. Include a brief description along with any direct link (in your email body or signature block or on a website) unless the link itself is self-explanatory.

Visitors have literally thousands of choices when it comes to which websites they will visit and whether they will subscribe or bookmark those sites. Remember that it’s always more important to you that the visitor remains on or subscribes to your site or newsletter or blog post than it is to them. Making it worth their while is never a waste of your time.

‘Til next time, happy writing!


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.

My Daily Journal now appears on my main website at To sign up and receive an email notifications, go to the website and click The Daily Journal in the header.


The Journal, Monday, 11/28

Hey Folks,

Rolled out a little late at 3:30. Checked email and Facebook stuff. Then I went to work on a huge Christmas Sale for StoneThread Publishing. We’re practically giving them away (grin).

This sale went “live” on Facebook this morning (Monday, 11/28). But we wanted to give you guys a little better pricing.

Note that all prices are valid only through StoneThread Publishing. Even if we decide to run a sale through various vendors, those prices will not be this low.

Shameless Promotion

From now through December 24, ALL ebook novels, 10-story collections, 5-story collections and poetry collections, are on sale for $2.50 each. The complete Wes Crowley Saga (10 novels in one massive book) is only $13.

All ebooks are DRM-free. Share with your whole family! And No Shipping! 🙂

Of course, these prices are valid only through StoneThread Publishing. To order or for more information, please email

Print Addict?

Additionally, from now through December 21, ALL PRINT BOOKS are on sale for $7.50 each. Free standard shipping! These are not stocking stuffers. These are quality trade paperbacks.

Many print titles are available signed by the author. That would be moi. (grin) For a complete list or to order, email

* * *

Finished up all of that and the topic below around 6:30, then realized I hadn’t added my latest novel, The Consensus, to my website yet. Doh! So I raced over and did that.

Then my wife mentioned it might be a good idea to prepare a flyer for her to pass out where she works. So I did that.

* * *

I started on the novel again, then remembered I have to download 10 pics from CanStock. sigh. First I have to select them.

Every now and then I sign up for a subscription to a stock photo agency so I can download pics on the cheap to use for covers.

My current subscription allows me to download up to 10 pics per day for a week. All that for $30. So around $0.42 per picture, as opposed to around $7 per picture if I bought them one at a time. It’s a great deal if you use a lot of cover pics and know what you’re looking for generally.

But that ate up a couple hours.

Topic: Selling Books to Writers

I’m talking about fiction books and fiction writers here.

If you’ve written a really good book FOR writers (for example, Punctuation for Writers or Writing Realistic Dialogue & Flash Fiction or Writing the Character-Driven Story), knock yourself out.

But leave your novels and short stories at home.

When I was presenting regularly at writers’ conferences around the nation, I saw a host of fiction writers trying to sell their books to attendees. For a very short while, I was one of them. Generally, this is a bad idea.

Why? Because those who attend writers’ conferences are writers. They don’t want to buy your books. They want You to buy Their books. (grin)

Even “name” authors (think Stephen King) have a difficult time selling fiction to other fiction writers.

So why am I making an exception to this general rule?

Because I DO buy novels and stories written by Stephen King. I also buy (some) novels and stories from Dean Wesley Smith, Isabel Allende, Lawrence Block and others who meet three requirements:

they are farther along the road than I as writers;
something about their work blows me out of my socks; and
I aspire to learn from them.

When I see myself as a student of another writer, what better way to learn from them than to read their work for pleasure, and then go back and study the passages that blew me away?

And that’s why I’m making an exception in Shameless Promotion above. As I told another writer recently, if you think maybe the stuff I’m teaching you is good, I appreciate that. But years of (sometimes repeated) lessons have taught me that we generally get what we INspect, not what we EXpect.

So in the promo above, I’m offering you an opportunity to see first-hand whether I know what I’m doing. (grin) Naturally, I hope you will take advantage of it.

Of Interest

A new topic over at Dean’s place in Courage in a World of Artistic Freedom ( This is a really great post. I hope you will read it.

There should also be a new story of the week over at Kristine Kathyrn Rush’s site for her Free Fiction Monday thing. (

Today’s Writing

Finally, I moved to the novel at 9:30. Wrote for about a half-hour and realized I’m writing two novels at one time. How can I tell? Maybe the story’s just getting convoluted. They do that sometimes.

But this one isn’t just taking odd twists. It took a hard turn and wandered off into a whole new story. And the two main stories are far too divergent to ever get back together. Even the main character is different. Same name, same guy, but he acts different and even talks different than he did in the “other” story.

That happened to me once before, though I don’t recall which novel (or novels) came out of it. Anyway, I didn’t get enough writing done to record it, so I’ll count this as a nonwriting day.

For any new subscribers out there, don’t worry about it (if you were). When I started this Journal I made a pact with myself to record the bad as well as the good, the rough times as well as the smooth. This is one of the rough times. (grin)

I’ll spend the balance of the day finding where these stories are conjoined. Then I’ll do a little surgery. I suspect I’m gonna have to chunk a few thousand words and start fresh a ways back.

Anyway, see you tomorrow.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 930 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 930

Writing of Snubbing the Gods (tentative title)

Day 10… 2829 words. Total words to date…… 22264
Day 11… 2493 words. Total words to date…… 24757
Day 12… 2099 words. Total words to date…… 26856
Day 13… 0670 words. Total words to date…… 27526
Day 14… 1061 words. Total words to date…… 28587
Day 15… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 18729
Total fiction words for the year………… 673884
Total nonfiction words for the month… 17500
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 256340

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 930224

The Journal, Sunday, 11/27

Hey Folks,

I’m so spoiled. First, I have the best job in the world. Think about it. Day in, day out, I sit alone in a room making stuff up. It doesn’t get any better than that.

And second, I live in southeast Arizona. So on my rising this morning it was almost 50° outside. I enjoyed a good cigar as I began the day with emails and Facebook and a few games of Spider solitaire to wake up.

Of course, it’ll be getting cooler all day as a mass of cold air settles in, but still.

Topic: Being Unstuck in Time—A Bit More on Cycling

If you haven’t read the post on cycling (, I recommend reading that either before or after you read this topic. It will help. Even if I repeat information, chances are you’ll “get it” one way even if you don’t get it the other.

When a reader buys and reads a novel, she reads it as a linear story. She begins with Chapter 1 and reads straight through to the end. If you’ve written it well, she won’t even put it down until she’s reached and read the resolution.

So it’s safe to say most readers assume the novel was written that way too.

When little niggling details of the plot and subplot seem come together as the scene or story resolves, you, the writer, appear to be a genius. It’s almost magical to the reader.

Maybe in a scene in Chapter 2, the reader sees Aunt Marge surreptitiously slip a .32 caliber Owl revolver into the pocket of her housecoat.

Maybe in a scene in Chapter 19, Aunt Marge answers an insistent knock on her door late at night. Maybe a guy forces his way inside, and just as he begins to attack her, she pulls her revolver and enables him to assume room temperature before the EMTs arrive.

Then the reader remembers, possibly with a slap on her own forehead, the minuscule reference to the revolver that she almost skipped over back in Chapter 2 because it seemed just another part of the scene.

Bam! Just like that, the writer has achieved genius status and is rewarded with a reader-for-life.

Of course, the reader assumes you worked painstakingly from an outline. As part of that outline, in Chapter 2 Aunt Marge got a gun because she was going to use it in Chapter 19, although she couldn’t possibly have known what was going to transpire that far in advance.

Yeah. The thing is, neither did the writer. Well, neither did the writer who was smart enough to allow his subconscious to tell the story. He was unstuck in time, just enjoying the story the characters were living for him.

That’s where cycling comes into play.

You, the writer, are not working from an outline because

1. You’re writing to entertain yourself first, and
2. How boring would it be to write a story when you already know how everything’s going to turn out? That’s a lot like watching a sporting event or a movie after some moron tells you how the whole thing ends.

In entertaining yourself, you sit down, put your fingers on the keyboard, and write. Period. Write whatever comes. Then write the next sentence. Then write the next sentence.

You aren’t being the Almighty Writer On High with all that heady responsibility.

You’re down in the story, running through the scenes with your characters. Having Fun. Enjoying Yourself. You’re writing down what the characters say and do, and you’re thankful every day they allowed you to come along.

Then, late in the novel, Aunt Marge, who eschews violence in any form and firearms in particular, pulls a revolver and shoots a bad guy just before he would have done her grievous harm.

And you sit back from the keyboard as if she shot you instead. And you think, What? Where in the world did she get that gun?

We don’t know, but she DID get it. The evidence is bleeding on her living room floor.

So you check your reverse outline (see and

Then you cycle back to that scene in Chapter 2. You read over the scene (still in creative voice, giving your subconscious its head), and there it is.

There’s the point where Johnny turned away for a second as he and Lilly were taking their leave. And you put your fingers on the keyboard and record Marge slipping the revolver into the pocket of her housecoat.

And just like that, the world is all better.

Then you flash forward again to that point in Chapter 19 with the perp lying on the floor. You read over the last few sentences, then put your fingers on the keyboard and write the next sentence.

You’re probably writing faster at that point becuase the ending has revealed itself to you, or you know it will soon. So you’re bored, and you just want to finish this thing and put it out there for your readers.

Because you love your readers?

Well, okay. Maybe. But mostly because you want to start the next story. (grin)

But back to this cycling thing for a moment, and to being unstuck in time. The truth is, it’s next to impossible to hold a whole novel in your head, and who would want to? Where’s the fun in that?

Writing off into the dark (no outline) and cycling give you the best of both worlds. To the reader it looks as if you knew all along that Aunt Marge was going to shoot that intruder. But in reality, you were unstuck in time, entertaining yourself first. Writing for You.

But for your readers, to ensure a seamless reading experience, you also had the ability to move back and forth at will, adding what the characters told you to add.

And that’s fine. As Hemingway once wrote, “Never tell ’em you had to learn to write. Let ’em think you were born with it.”

Of Interest

Dean’s writing again, but no topic today. Just a regular day in his 11/26/16 Daily ( More to report in a few days, maybe. In the meantime, you at least have my silly topics to look over.

Today’s Writing

A little before 6 a.m. I wrote the topic above. Then I got a shower, changed out of my sweats, and started cycling through the novel again (from where I left off yesterday), playing catch up and stitching things together, erasing any seams.

1 p.m., just back from the store, lunch and putting things away. Back to the novel. I halfway expected to be finished with the cycling before we left here around 11:30, but that’s not the case. Still, it won’t get done until I do it.

Ahh, that’s better! Not a lot of new words added today, but I finished splicing and cycling. Tomorrow the novel should start moving along at a much faster pace. Woohoo!

See you then.

Fiction Words: 1061
Nonfiction Words: 1100 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2161

Writing of Snubbing the Gods (tentative title)

Day 10… 2829 words. Total words to date…… 22264
Day 11… 2493 words. Total words to date…… 24757
Day 12… 2099 words. Total words to date…… 26856
Day 13… 0670 words. Total words to date…… 27526
Day 14… 1061 words. Total words to date…… 28587

Total fiction words for the month……… 18729
Total fiction words for the year………… 673884
Total nonfiction words for the month… 16570
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 255410

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 929294

The Journal, Saturday, 11/26

Hey Folks,

Well, the transition from to with the Journal seems to have been flawless. No problems reported as yet.

I rolled out around 3:30 this morning but did very little for the first 4+ hours other than email, Facebook and games.

* * *

The floor of our house, with the exception of the bedroom and the two offices, is Saltillo tiles. The house itself is rammed earth. Think adobe, but without bricks.

The external walls are close to three feet thick. But the ceiling is a normal ceiling with a steel roof above it. It’s insulated, but not as much as it would be if the roof were of the same construction as the walls.

So when it’s hot, the walls absorb the heat, then radiate it through the night. In the summer time, the floor tiles offer a cool respite on the feet.

But in the winter, the walls absorb and radiate the cold, and the floor does the same. So this morning we pulled all the winter rugs from beneath the bed and unrolled them in strategic locations through the kitchen, living room and bathroom.

For all of that and my silly waste of the first few hours of the day, I didn’t get to my writing until 9 a.m. Later today, during breaks, I intend to work a bit on my 1987 Toyota 4-Runner and maybe a bit on yet another outside office.

Of Interest

Not much of interest today that I’m aware of, other than a new Recommended Reading List over at Kris Rusch’s site (

Basically, the world is returning to semi-normal after Thanksgiving Day. Tempered, of course, by the oncoming rush of Christmas.

Today’s Writing

As anyone following this mess knows, yesterday I restarted a novel I allowed to stall about a month and a half ago. I don’t usually do that, but with over 22000 words into a good story, I decided to have a go at it this time.

A couple of days ago, on Day 11 of writing this one, I cycled back a bit to add necessary sensory details, but I also wrote a new scene. Then yesterday I did some more cycling (for a description of Cycling (hint: this is NOT the same as rewriting and it has nothing to do with bicycles), please see and scroll down a few lines to Cycling.

Today, as I’m able with all the other little life stuff going on, I’m cycling again as well as writing new stuff. Today’s effort also requires some copy/pasting and stitching together a few scenes. I’ll be very glad when this process is finished and I can just move forward with the novel.

Very few new words today, but that’s all right. Part of the process with this novel. Probably I’ll have one more day like this before the novel takes off.

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 670
Nonfiction Words: 500 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1170

Writing of Snubbing the Gods (tentative title)

Day 10… 2829 words. Total words to date…… 22264
Day 11… 2493 words. Total words to date…… 24757
Day 12… 2099 words. Total words to date…… 26856
Day 13… 0670 words. Total words to date…… 27526

Total fiction words for the month……… 17668
Total fiction words for the year………… 672823
Total nonfiction words for the month… 15470
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 254310

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 927133

The Journal, Friday, 11/25

Hey Folks,

Beginning today, I’m posting this Journal to my main site at If you came here looking for the Free Story of the Week, either scroll to the blog post below this or click the Free Story of the Week tab in the menu. It will still post every Friday at 8 a.m.

If you’re looking for the Pro Writers blog post, click the Pro Writers tab in the menu. It will still post every Tuesday morning at 8 a.m.

This Journal will post every day at 7 p.m. (All times are Arizona time.)

To all of my regular Journal readers, Happy Get-Over-All-The-Stuff-You-Ate-Yesterday Day. (grin)

I rolled out closer to my normal time this morning at around 3:30. I spent the first two-plus hours with email, Facebook etc. and read The Creative Penn post (see Of Interest below). If you don’t subscribe to that blog yet, I do recommend it.

* * *

There’s no time like the present. This morning around 11:40 I switched the RSS feed for this blog over to the main site. This evening I’ll post this over there, and it will go out at 7 p.m.

If you receive this via RSS, the new feed is

If you receive it via email, you shouldn’t notice any difference, except maybe a different header. (I don’t think so, but maybe.)

I also added a final post to the blog over at, where this one was based for so long, redirecting folks to the other site for future posts.

Finally, I jumped over to the other site ( and revised the header there to include “& The Daily Journal.” Check it out. Lemme know what you think.

* * *

Mona and I passed a quiet Thanksgiving yesterday, watching four episodes of Deadwood. We were both put off by the obviously gratuitous use of “foul” language.

Yes, even me. Especially as a writer.

Topic: When to Let Your Characters Use “Bad” Language

Okay, first of all, a disclaimer: I personally believe there is no such thing as “bad” language. Every word in the language serves a purpose.

For writers, every word in the language is a tool to be used in crafting a story. But like any other professional tool, it should not be abused.

With that in mind, I’m not sure what the writers of the popular HBO series Deadwood were trying to do, but I suspect they cost HBO some viewers. With regard to dialogue, the first few episodes comprise an excellent example of what not to do.

NOT because there was some “bad” language, but because the use of it was most often gratuitous.

The main bad guy constantly dropped the F bomb. That’s fine. It was expected and it suited his character.

But with only one exception, every other major character (and all the minor characters) did the same thing, also constantly. That was neither expected nor in character.

Here’s my recommenation.

Part I: As you run through the story with your characters, write down what they say (in their own voice and using the vocabulary they want to use) and what they do.

Part II: Be sure to include their opinions of the setting and any emotions they express about the setting. Do these two things and you’re gold.

Part III: Don’t Edit (!). Which is to say Don’t Force Your Will On The Characters.

So why the (!)? Because when I say “don’t edit,” that goes both ways.

If the character wants to use one or more words that you personally find offensive, let him. Don’t force him to clean up his act.

If another character DOESN’T want to use that word (most don’t, especially in mixed company), don’t force it on him.

Are there exceptions? Well, there are exceptions to how characters talk in various situations, yes.

For example, most of the men I know wouldn’t drop an F bomb in a social setting in mixed company. That might mean a setting in which there are women present or it might mean a setting in which members of a different social stratum are present.

The same men, in a social setting in which they are among trusted male friends (peers), might use foul language occasionally. It’s a familiarity thing.

And the same men, if they find themselves in a social setting in which they perceive the other men to be in higher standing than they, might use the same language more often than they usually do in order to gain favor.

But there are no exceptions for you, the writer, when it comes to allowing characters to be who they are in a given situation. When you relinquish control, you also relinquish responsibility. Just let ’em be who they are.

Of Interest

See The Creative Penn ( for a really great (realistic) post on using Facebook ads.

Free story of the week, “Curious Shapes,” posted at this morning.

Just a brief post-holiday post over at Dean’s place.

Today’s Writing

Added 800 words in the first session, mostly cycling but adding some much needed sensory detail. Then breakfast, then switching the journal over to the other site.

Back to writing at around 12:45.

Not a lot done today, but for a quasi-holiday, I’ll take it.

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 2099
Nonfiction Words: 760 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2859

Writing of Snubbing the Gods (novel, tentative title)

Day 10… 2829 words. Total words to date…… 22264
Day 11… 2493 words. Total words to date…… 24757
Day 12… 2099 words. Total words to date…… 26856

Total fiction words for the month……… 16998
Total fiction words for the year………… 672153
Total nonfiction words for the month… 14970
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 253810

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 925963

Expressing Tone

Hi Folks,

Note: This post was originally scheduled for 4/6/2014. 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.

After my original posting of “sigh… present-tense narrative is great. please write in present-tense narrative,” a couple of years ago, several writers emailed to ask why I titled that post the way I did, namely in lower case and repeating the main primary phrase. I thought my response was entertaining enough to warrant updating and posting here.

Actually, as is the case with many techniques I use, I stole that technique from television.

In a couple of episodes of Family Guy, the writers did a take-off of Star Wars.

Of course the take-off was pure satire. The writers took pains to point out major flaws in the Star Wars story. They also pointed out places where dialogue began with a decision, wandered pretty much aimlessly for awhile, then returned with a new decision that would better serve the story.

In the actual story, the dialogue was written and delivered with excitement and pleading and firm resolve, as it should be. In the Family Guy version it was DOA, as evidenced by the flat-lined, deadpan delivery.

In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker flies off to some star system to study under Yoda, the Jedi master of masters. After some playful interaction, at the end of which Yoda finally admits who he is, Luke tells Yoda he has come to learn the ways of the Force.

Yoda, in so many words, says no, he will not train Luke. But after much pleading and wailing and gnashing of teeth (about a half-hour of movie time, if I remember correctly), Yoda finally relents.

In the Family Guy version, it went much quicker than that.

1. Luke flies up and asks Yoda to train him.

2. Yoda says, “No, I will not train you in the ways of the Force.” Wait two beats. “Okay, I will train you in the ways of the force.”

And that’s what I had in mind when I wrote “present-tense narrative is great. please write in present-tense narrative.” I preceded it with <sigh> to flatten it out a little further.

Some probably will notice that my delivery is not the same structure as that in the Family Guy episode. In mimicking the original story, they began with “no” and progressed to “okay.”

But because most who read this blather already know I’m staunchly entrenched against the inane idiocy of writing narrative in present tense, I saw no reason to do the same. Though perhaps it would have been more effective.

So consider this a revision of the title if you need one:

present-tense narrative is evil. no, wait. present-tense narrative is great. please write in present-tense narrative.

Ah, it was also called to my attention that my posts are sometimes too long (and I assume not entertaining or educational enough) to warrant reading them all the way through.

Well, at this late stage in my life I can hardly notch-up the entertainment value of my drivel, so from here on out I’ll do my best to shorten it a bit. 🙂 Maybe I’ll post a little more often too. Maybe.

‘Til next time, happy writing…


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.

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


Female Characters: On Being (or Not) PC

Hi Folks,

Awhile back, another professional fiction writer drank some Kool-Aid. Then he wrote a post about strong female characters.

Oh, except that you can’t qualify them as “strong” because that word has too many “male connotations.” So instead you have to “give them agency” and blah blah blah.

Holy crap. And wholly crap.

Do I have something against strong female characters? Hell no!

But I do have something against the writer acting as a god, making sure a female character is the prime mover in the story. Even if it’s a story about a Scout/Sniper unit in the Marine Corps, in which currently there are no women serving. And all the males (if you’re un-PC enough to even allow any) are absolutely weak and fawning like 17th century fops. That’s what I’m against.

Wait. I have an idea. How about we let the WRITERS decide what they want to write? You know, instead of trying to censor them?

And how about in ALL stories we just let ALL of the characters simply be who they are? How about that?

It isn’t an either-or world, folks. Despite what that writer or any other PC types say, a woman (and a female character) CAN be strong AND an object of sexual desire AND someone whom a man (or male character) wants to protect should HE think the need arises.

When a man (or male character) does something to protect a woman (or female character), that isn’t because she can’t protect herself and it isn’t because he assumes she can’t protect herself.

It’s because the instinctive, biological urge that runs through men, whether or not they deny it or lie about it, is to have sex with females and to protect females. It’s what guys want, and everybody knows it. If they didn’t, none of us would be here today, so there.

Now, do you want your fiction to be like real life or do you want it to be PC?

The point is, you have the right to choose.

If YOU want YOUR fiction to be strictly Politically Correct, that’s fine, really. I applaud your (ahem) choice to (ahem, ahem) “take a stand.” But you have the right to choose for YOU, not for me or anybody else.

Okay, I know whereof I speak. There were several strong female characters in my Wes Crowley series, and I didn’t conjure them up intentionally in order to be politically correct. I wrote what they said and did as they came into the story on their own. And they were wonderful.

One was a prime mover of the story early. She was relatively demure, but down to earth and very strong. (She had a great deal of “agency,” I think, although she never sold a house and never worked for the CIA that I’m aware.)

Another was a prime mover of the story that continued after the third book ended. She quite literally burst through the door into a quiet, semi-formal initial meeting, half-frightened and half-angered that I was going to leave her out of the book.

And three others were  strong but had only incidental, catalyst roles to play.

Can a character be a strong character and still play only as a catalyst? Sure. Why not? Don’t you know humans who do that?

Write what you want, folks. The Dark Ages of mandatory political correctness are coming to an end.

Does that mean you can’t still write PC stuff if that’s what you want to do? Nope. Not at all. It just means everybody can make up their own minds again now.

Happy writing, and if you need a great copyeditor, check this out.


I Did It Myyyyyyy Way…..

Hey folks,

Note: This post was originally scheduled for 3/21/2014. 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.

I don’t like misunderstandings. I like them even less when they’re based on skimming information and missing important facts that are Right There In Front Of You.

If you take exception to any concept I present in any of my posts, that’s fine, but please at least read the post first. If you just skim it and hit the high points (or what you believe to be the high points) and then choose to comment, you might miss some relevant information.

After one post, I received notes from two writers.

I corresponded with both of them and clarified my position in order to alleviate their concerns. That experience led me to the notion that this post was necessary.

Of course, I would never divulge my correspondents’ identities, and my purpose of conveying bits of those conversations here is only to illustrate.

One writer assumed the post was all about her because she and I had engaged in a peripherally similar exchange on the topic a few months ago. (She wanted me to provide something in an edit that I knew to be wrong and therefore refused to provide.)

Thing is, the post wasn’t about her.

The conflict on which I based the post was from a paid edit for which a writer initially hired me and later changed her mind.

I was actually glad she changed her mind (even though it cost me a hefty paycheck) because giving her edit less than my best effort would leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Thing is, I made it clear in the post that the bone of contention was about a paid edit. The person who assumed the post was about her never hired me to do anything.

Another person wrote to point out that a great author from the past had written “her way” and that her writing had “endured the test of time.” She drew from that the completely appropriate conclusion that “Sometimes rules can be broken.”

Actually, I couldn’t agree more.

Sometimes, to create a certain effect in the reader, it’s a very good idea to break the rules of punctuation and grammar and syntax. (See my book on Writing Realistic Dialogue at Smashwords or Amazon or my audio course of the same name, in which I advocate breaking the rules to create a particular effect in the reader.)

But my previous post wasn’t about rules or breaking them. It was about how the reader reacts every time he encounters certain marks of punctuation or the italic font attribute.

Please understand that how you choose to present your work to the world doesn’t matter to me. I would like to see you succeed as a writer, but you are free to attach whatever value you like to any advice or knowledge I pass along in these blog posts.

As more than one writer has mentioned to me over the years, everything in writing is a matter of personal preference.

That is true. Everything in writing and in life itself is a matter of personal preference. For example,

  • You may choose to omit all capitalization from your writing (e.e. cummings did it in his poetry; Don Marquis did it in his archy and mehitabel collection).
  • You may choose to write dialogue without benefit of quotation marks (Cormac McCarthy did it in one novel).
  • You may choose to replace all the periods in your work with commas or em dashes or nothing at all. That will give the reader the truly unique experience of interpreting your work however he chooses and creating the novel with you.

The point is, if you would rather concentrate on being “unique” instead of just writing your story, that’s completely up to you.

But I do hope you remember that the reader also has personal preferences.

By and large, readers choose to select works that they aren’t required to “figure out.” The reader’s job is to be entertained, not to decipher “cutting edge” writing.

Everything depends on what you deem important.

If you want readers to be standing around the water cooler on Monday morning talking about how there was no capitalization or punctuation or quotation marks or whatever in your book and “that must have taken great courage on the part of the writer, blah blah blah” that’s fine.

But frankly, if those same readers read some of my work, I’d rather they were talking about what a great story they just read. In fact, I’d rather they hadn’t noticed the punctuation or font attributes or other “writing preferences” at all.

Hope this clarifies things. 🙂

‘Til next time, happy (clear) writing.


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.

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