The Journal, Thursday, 4/27

Hey Folks,

Today is a nonwriting day for fiction. It’s currently only around 1:30, and I’m making the call.

I’m in the Hovel, where I’m going to enjoy a good cigar in solitude and do something completely useless, like play solitaire or something. Then I’m going to finish a few chores at the house and call it a day.

I spent much of the morning doing things around the house, including putting a new screen on the upper panel of our front screen door, doing some laundry, stuff like that.

I went to the Hovel in the late morning and wrote most of what you see below. After that, as I began to cast about for something to write, my grandson came in.

For the next couple of hours he and I jumped through various federal and state and local bureacratic hoops.

Finally, after we ran in frustrating circles for a couple of hours, Bryan’s phone rang. It was yet another bureacrat, but one of the rarest kind. Not only does she actually DO her job, but today she went out of her way to do her job.

In fact, she called us to clarify, simplify and set aside much of the instruction we’d been given by another bureacrat earlier.

All we had to do, she said, was call our contact at Job Corps and have that person call her. She would personally fax the records directly to them on our behalf. End of story.

In short order, she rendered everything we’d done over the past two hours for the OTHER bureacrat completely unnecessary.

Which is fine, because at least we learned some things from having to deal with the earlier bureacrat, never mind the stress levels and the otherwise wasted two hours of our lives.

Like we learned how to use the combination copier/scanner/printer (I haven’t done that for years); and how to fill out an Official Request Form online and then print it for signature and then scan it into a .jpg file —

So we could email them to him.

Me: Wait, what? Back up. We can EMAIL this stuff to you?

Bureacrat: Yes, of course.

Me: Hmm. So then the signature isn’t really necessary, since you’re going to be looking at a picture of the document. I mean, how can you be sure who signed it?

Bureacrat, after a pregnant pause: Ha! Y’know, I guess you’re right. (Insert laugh track here.) Hey, how about that? Now ain’t that just the funniest thing?

What I Wanted to Say: (Insert series of expletives, many never before uttered in that particular order in this solar system.)

What I actually said: No. No, it isn’t.

And that’s what I hate about cell phones. It doesn’t have the same satisfying SLAM we used to get when we’d slam a telephone receiver into a cradle.

Oh, the issue? We wanted to get Bryan’s HS transcripts for Job Corps. Which we were initially told Job Corps had gotten for themselves a couple of weeks ago.

So it was one’a dem days. Life rolls, eh?

Anyway, here’s the topic I wrote earlier.

Topic: On Practice

One of the invaluable lessons I’ve picked up from DWS over the past few years is that a writer must practice.

His way (and the way that works best for me) is to pick one or two techniques that interest him, and then practice that (or those) in the next work.

That’s why I’ve been writing pulp detective fiction.

For one thing, the shorter novel (by definition, 25,000 to 44,999 words) is very interesting to me, and pulp readers expect shorter novels.

But the other, more important reason, is that I wanted to simultaneously study and practice writing high-tension, bang-bang-bang, action-adventure, thriller-type scenes.

And the cliffhangers and hooks that go with them.

Why? Because you only have to know four techniques to sell your stories:

1. Ground the reader in the scene. (In brief, experience the setting through the physical and emotional senses of the POV character.)

2. Write suspenseful, high-tension scenes.

3. Close (or “end,” but I prefer “close”) each scenes with a cliffhanger.

4. Open the next scene with a strong hook.

If you do those four things, the reader won’t be able to put your book down.

In case of a house fire, right after the children and the dog, your book will be the first thing that makes it out alive.

In fact, your book will probably be tucked under the reader’s arm while he’s rounding up the kids and the dog.

But I digress.

After my latest novella was finished, I wanted desperately to be finished with writing “pulp detective” fiction — or at least with the main character in my last two novels and that novella.

In some ways, the guy’s weak, and I don’t like that. The detective in a pulp mystery or thriller should never be weak, at least not in any major way.

He can appear weak intentionally to set a trap (Columbo) or he can appear “sensitive” blah blah blah.

But he can’t be indecisive or allow others to take the lead in his cases. And this guy even did that at least once.

So I’m through with him until he grows up. In fact, I might write one more with a different POV character and have Galecki killed off. Something. Shrug. I dunno.

Anyway, this morning I realized I’m not through practicing writing those suspenseful, high-tension scenes, cliffhangers and hooks.

And I’m not through practicing writing the two levels of pacing that go along with that. (The Two Levels of Pacing will be another topic.)

So whatever I write next, it will contain those kind of scenes because that’s what I want to practice. Also I enjoy it.

Of course, such scenes can be written in literally any genre. I know I can write them in westerns or SF or pulp detective.

In fact, genre doesn’t matter at all when it comes to this sort of psychological suspense-filled stuff because it’s merely an interplay among characters or between the POV character and some part(s) of the setting.

I’m competent at doing this, according to various readers’ input. My writing has never been called “thin,” for example (even when I thought it was).

And more than several times readers have gone out of their way to tell me they felt as if they were there, in the scene with the characters. Ba-ba-ba-bingo!

But I’m not expert at it by any means, and it’s what I want to practice at the moment.

Give it some thought. What are you practicing?

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 2:30. After email etc. I did some stuff around the house. Then Bryan got a phone call. Then the stuff above happened.

1 p.m., back out here to the Hovel to write the stuff before the topic and enjoy a cigar.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

“Story Twenty-Six” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-twenty-six/.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 1080 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1080

Writing of

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

Total fiction words for the month……… 33587
Total fiction words for the year………… 242143
Total nonfiction words for the month… 15650
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 72990

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 315133

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 519 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (16 novels)… 5 novels
Total novels to date (since Oct 19, 2014)… 27 (includes 3 novellas)

The Journal, Wednesday, 4/26

Hey Folks,

Very short post today. Knowing me, I’ll be back with longer stuff tomorrow.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3. Dabbled in what people call “politics” for awhile, but that isn’t an intense enough word.

5:30, I set aside the impulse to chew wheels and spit nails and escaped to the story. Cycling, of course.

Wrote for about a half-hour, then got busy around the yard, then a walk with my wife, then Walmart, then the PO. Finally back at 9:30, updated FB and checked email.

Almost 3 when I got back to the story. Did a TON of cycling. This is an odd duck. I don’t like present tense writing. It sounds like stage direction to me. But this story felt like it lent itself to it, so I tried it. First reader has it now. We’ll see.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Wonderfully interesting comments on Dean’s “The Magic Bakery: Chapter Six” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-magic-bakery-chapter-six/comments/. It’s almost another entire blog post.

Also see “Story Twenty-five” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-twenty-five/.

Fiction Words: 1133
Nonfiction Words: 170 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1303

Writing of How Hard the Ground (short story)

Day 1…… 1807 words. Total words to date…… 1807
Day 2…… 1133 words. Total words to date…… 2940 (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 33587
Total fiction words for the year………… 242143
Total nonfiction words for the month… 14570
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 71910

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 314053

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 518 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (16 novels)… 5 novels
Total novels to date (since Oct 19, 2014)… 27 (includes 3 novellas)

The Journal, Tuesday, 4/25

Hey Folks,

A few days ago I mentioned that I had an idea for an 11th novel in the Wes Crowley saga. A few of you cheered. Thanks for that.

Part of my reasoning was that the last novel (and the saga) didn’t end the way I wanted it to. Several other readers also noted it didn’t end the way it would have if they were the protagonist.

So I was all set to pull a Hollywood cheat. I was thinking maybe Wes had dreamed (nightmared, more specifically) book 10. I was going to have him wake up at the beginning of book 11 and go on with the story from there after shaking off the dregs of the nightmare.

But in preparation for writing that novel, I read over part of book 10, The Right Cut, this morning.

know what? The saga is finished. Just as I thought it was when I finished writing book 10 in June of last year.

And the ending was completely satisfying.

It still didn’t end the way it would have ended if I (or others, apparently) had been the protagonist.

But I wasn’t. Nor were others. The protaginist was Wes. Writing this particular book 11 would have turned Wes into someone he’s never been.

So no, I won’t do that.

More than anyone else I’ve ever known, Wes always lived up to the ideal that being upright is not a matter of degree.

As it is, the series explores Wes’ life from the time he was 15 years old until he was nearing 60. And that’s enough.

Oh, someday I might put together a collection of Crowley stories that he’s telling his grandchildren or something like that. Of course, they would be stories that are not contained in the saga. We’ll see.

But the saga, the main story of Wes Crowley, is finished.

For those of you who read only paper editions (no ebooks), I can tell you The Right Cut will be out in paper in a week or so. (grin)

As for me, well, beginning today, it’s a whole new world. Time to write something new.

Para ahora, adios, Wes Crowley, mi amigo.

***

I’m still planning another challenge. Soon. But it’s something for which I’ll need to take Dean’s advice and “clear the decks,” meaning prepare the way for fewer distractions.

At the moment, I’m in the midst of a life roll, so it’ll be awhile yet before I announce the new challenge.

I can tell you it will have a great deal to do with actually writing in public. Beyond that, frankly, I haven’t figured it out yet.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out right at 3. I spent most of the morning in a haze of general confusion. Mostly that means my brain was so full of thoughts it was difficult to grasp one, or even tail one to any kind of logical conclusion.

I messed around most of the day, looking at old story starts, old ideas. Nothing caught my interest.

I looked at a file of character names I have.

I looked through about 700 stock photos.

I looked at some old titles I have lying around.

Nothing.

Around 2:30, finally, my gaze lit on a file name in my Writing folder in my Dropbox.

I opened it, and there I found a quote that I liked so much I’d written it down and saved it.

The quote was from a friend and writing colleague. If I remember correctly, it was originally a caption that accompanied a photo of a wild flower. He posted it on Facebook.

The quote? “No matter how hard the ground, beauty finds a way out.” (Thanks, Dan.)

Bingo.

I wrote “How Hard the Ground” across the top of a clean screen. Then I started writing.

About 500 words in, I realized it’s gonna be another mystery thing. Short or long, I don’t know yet. But a lot of rather morose fun.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “The Magic Bakery: Chapter Six” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-magic-bakery-chapter-six/.

“Story Twenty-four” is at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-twenty-four/.

Some fun in the comments on Dean’s post from yesterday at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-twenty-three-plus-stuff/#comments.

This just in: I strongly recommend you read the comments under “Robert Prisig Dies at 88” at http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/04/robert-pirsig-dies-at-88/. Specifically, the comment by Tom Simon. Really great stuff.

Fiction Words: 1807
Nonfiction Words: 690 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2497

Writing of How Hard the Ground (story or novel)

Day 1…… 1807 words. Total words to date…… 1807

Total fiction words for the month……… 32454
Total fiction words for the year………… 241010
Total nonfiction words for the month… 14400
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 71740

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 312750

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 517 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (16 novels)… 5 novels
Total novels to date (since Oct 19, 2014)… 27 (includes 3 novellas)

The Journal, Monday, 4/24

Hey Folks,

Some folks’ need for boundaries is amazing to me. To see what I mean, read the comment by “Patrick R” on Dean’s http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-twenty-one/ and then Dean’s response.

With appropriate respect to Patrick R, I found the exchange hilarious.

***

I did a spell check of The Platinum Blond Perturbance yesterday after I finished it. Ugh. Even writing the promo doc for this one was like pulling teeth.

And there are people who spend months or years writing a novel? I swear, I think I’d shoot myself. Or at least go find something fun to do.

This morning I’m going to create a cover and get it out. I want this thing off my desk.

For some reason this one really annoyed me. This is one of those that I was tempted to let die a few times. Even now I’m tempted to just throw it away instead of publishing it.

Fortunately, in my mind DWS keeps saying “What right do you have to pre-judge what the reader will like?”

And doubly fortunately, that admonishment was borne-out the last time I wrote something that I thought sucked canal water from all 50 states.

Not surprisingly, I don’t remember the title, but it was a short story. And the day after I published it, a reader emailed me to tell me it was one of the best things she’d ever read.

Go figure.

Remember that, folks.

1. Writers really ARE the worst judges of their own work, not only when they think it’s good, but when they think it’s horrible.

2. Every value judgement really does come down to the reader’s taste. Period.

***

Well, Bryan finally got through to JobCorps at about 9, only to hear “call back in two weeks.” That’s what they said two weeks ago.

Well, I guess it’ll be what it’ll be. But I’m annoyed to say the least. The last WIP plus this has me wanting to do odd things. I’ll leave it at that.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 4. I kept waking up and then just lying there until I went back to sleep.

I spent the first two hours reading stuff online. Spent the next couple getting a cover done and getting The Platinum Blond Perturbance distributed and uploaded to BundleRabbit.

Went to lunch with my grandson, then updated HarveyStanbrough.com and StoneThreadPublishing.com with the new book.

Nonwriting day today.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

At Dean’s place, “Story Twenty-Three plus stuff” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-twenty-three-plus-stuff/.

From The Digital Reader (http://the-digital-reader.com) a compilation of tweets chock full of URLs for you to research and read if you’re interested. See http://the-digital-reader.com/2017/04/22/paul-bibas-ebook-elibrary-emuseum-epublishing-news-compilation-week-ending-saturday-april-22/.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 440 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 440

Writing of

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

Total fiction words for the month……… 30647
Total fiction words for the year………… 239203
Total nonfiction words for the month… 13710
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 71050

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 310253

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 516 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 5 novels
Total novels to date (since Oct 19, 2014)… 27 (includes 3 novellas)

The Journal, Sunday, 4/23

Hey Folks,

Well, I woke up Sunday mornin’ with no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt…

For some reason, I woke up with that in my mind.

I love that song, “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” by Kris Kristofferson, one of America’s foremost poets in my estimation.

My own head isn’t hurting except with the hope that my novella will wrap today or tomorrow. Though I do love my whiskey and have several bottles on hand.

But I love a clear head more, so I don’t imbibe other than very rarely.

I currently have my two favorites — Jameson & Sons and Jim Beam — as well as Beam’s Devil’s Cut and a very special bottle of Rebel Yell. A friend gave me that. I was so ignorant that I opened it before I understood it was a collector’s item.

One’a these days….

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3 and per usual spent a few hours just playing. I did do one bit of creative work, creating a meme using a photo of a wiseguy and a two-word quote from a Berkeley cop: “Okay… And?” Great fun. At the expense of a very unprofessional professional.

Around 7, one more cup of coffee and out to the Hovel and the novel.

I cycled and wrote off and on for about an hour. Then Mona and I took a walk, just a couple miles out back.

Wow. Every story writes differently, but I hope I never have another one like this. Too convoluted, so too many opportunities for the critical mind to jump in and try to “figure things out.”

And OMG ugh. I’m definitely through writing in this world for awhile.

Anyway, I got the thing finished today. And since I include novellas in my novel count (easier than saying 20+ novels and three novellas), my annual goal for novels has just increased from 15 to 16.

Tomorrow’s schedule is up in the air until Bryan calls Job Corps. If they say “Come on down,” I’ll have a trip to Tucson tomorrow. If not, I’ll write and the trip will come later.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Some great comments and thought-provoking (and sometimes frown-provoking) questions at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-twenty-one/#comments.

His “Story Twenty-Two” is pretty good too. See http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-twenty-two/.

Fiction Words: 2571
Nonfiction Words: 330 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2901

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… 2201 words. Total words to date…… 7582
Day 5…… 2579 words. Total words to date…… 10161
Day 6…… 1344 words. Total words to date…… 11505
Day 7…… 2513 words. Total words to date…… 14018
Day 8…… 2149 words. Total words to date…… 16167
Day 9…… 2571 words. Total words to date…… 18738 (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 30647
Total fiction words for the year………… 239203
Total nonfiction words for the month… 13270
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 70610

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 309813

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 515 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 5 novels
Total novels to date (since Oct 19, 2014)… 27 (includes 3 novellas)

The Journal, Saturday, 4/22

Hey Folks,

I spent much of the early morning watching and listening to DWS’ “Lester Dent Master Plot Formula.”

Wow. It was as informative as I hoped (and more so) and chock full of gems. I hope you’ll take this opportunity to get it through the StoryBundle offer I mentioned yesterday.

If you didn’t, and in case you’re interested, here’s the link again: https://storybundle.com/writing.

Again, you get nine books on the craft or business of writing PLUS the DWS lecture as well as a couple of coupons for $$-off on some products that some writers swear by.

***

If you’re thinking of taking Dean up on his “first reader” challenge, take time to read “One Added Note” in “Story Twenty-One” in Of Interest below. His offer just keeps getting better.

Also, his “Point of Interest” in the same post kind of tickled me from a personal stanpoint. You’ll see why.

***

It’s Saturday, so I’m not sure what the day will hold. Our time with Bryan is growing short, so I’m leaving myself (and my priorities) more open to doing things with family on weekends. So we’ll see.

I’m gonna give a little more thought to the challenge I mentioned yesterday before I post it here.

Yesterday also, I happened upon the idea for my next novel. I’ll be returning to the world of Wes Crowley for an 11th novel (my 28th overall).

Topic: What Is Possible

A bit of history. When I wrote my first-ever novel, Leaving Amarillo, I thought it would be a one-off.

But it needed a sequel. So I wrote Longing for Mexico. Then I wrote South to Mexico. I thought that was the last novel in a three-book series.

Then I wrote a novella and another novel in a different world.

But Wes tugged on my sleeve, wanting me to tell more of his story that happened before “Leaving Amarillo.” He also wanted me to talk about what he did in Mexico once he got there.

So I wrote three prequels (so novels 1, 2, and 3 in the eventual series) and then two sequels (so novels 7 and 8) in the series. Again, I thought I was finished.

After that I wrote an SF novel, and then book 9 of the Wes Crowley series. And I thought that was absolutely the end of the Crowley series. No more. End of story.

So I wrote a thriller. Then I wrote a mystery novel, then another SF novel, and then a war novel.

Then I wrote novel 10 of the Crowley series. Again, I was certain it ended the story. Absolutely certain. (grin)

Let’s pause for just a moment to think about that. A 10-novel series plus several short stories in that same world came from what I thought was going to be a one-off novel. Go figure.

Then, with the Crowley stuff finally behind me, I wrote a contemporary western thriller (though it did feature a descendent of Wes Crowley), then another SF novel and then a sweeping SF thriller about a superbug that made its way to Earth.

Then another feel-good, they-came-here SF novel, then a future-earth SF novella, and then the sequel to an earlier SF novel.

After that I wrote one more SF novel that takes place off the planet (and begs for a sequel) before dipping my pen into my two latest novels. Those and my WIP are pulp-detective-fiction-action-adventure-mystery-thrillers (grin).

And when I finish the current WIP, I’m looking forward to writing novel 11 of the Crowley series.

Only I’m no longer gonna try to foretell the future and say this will be the last one. ‘Cause after all, what do I know? (grin)

Oh, and for those of you who are relatively new to this Journal, all of that (and over 100 short stories) were since October 19, 2014. So almost exactly two and a half years.

Anyway, that’s what’s possible when you just follow Heinlein’s Rules. You can get a free, clean copy by clicking http://harveystanbrough.com/heinleins-business-habits-for-writers/. (If

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3:30. Spent the first few hours writing the stuff above, then playing around. That included email, FB and DWS vids. Then to Dean’s site and the places it led me.

After breakfast, to the Hovel and the novel at 9:30.

I got a good start, then walked down to the house for a break with family at around 10:20.

Around 11 my wife and I took a quick walk out back, then grabbed some lunch. Back to the novel around 12:30.

With around 1500 words, another break at 1:30. Back to the novel at 1:50.

Well, a lot of cycling today, so another slow day on the story. I think this one’s gonna wrap as a novella. I can’t be sure just yet.

I hope it’ll wrap tomorrow or the next day. I guess we’ll see.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Story Twenty-One” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-twenty-one/. An interesting read that pulls him back into the realm of us “beginners.”

Dean also links to “Nifty Resource for Covers” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/nifty-resource-for-covers/.

For more information, you can go directly to The Digital Reader at http://the-digital-reader.com/2017/04/21/14-sites-making-spectacular-book-cover/. You can also sign up for their newsletter to receive “the latest news on ebooks and digital publishing.”

I also ran across this: https://designschool.canva.com/how-to-design-book-covers/.

Enjoy!

Fiction Words: 2149
Nonfiction Words: 880 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3029

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… 2201 words. Total words to date…… 7582
Day 5…… 2579 words. Total words to date…… 10161
Day 6…… 1344 words. Total words to date…… 11505
Day 7…… 2513 words. Total words to date…… 14018
Day 8…… 2149 words. Total words to date…… 16167

Total fiction words for the month……… 28076
Total fiction words for the year………… 236632
Total nonfiction words for the month… 12940
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 702800

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 306912

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 514 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels
Total novels to date (since Oct 19, 2014)… 26 (includes 2 novellas)

The Journal, Friday, 4/21

Hey Folks,

Well, in the midst of writing the topic below, I came up with a new challenge for myself. I’ll announce it in the next couple of days.

There’s an exciting new writing bundle out from StoryBundle. I bought it first thing this morning. To check it out, visit https://storybundle.com/writing.

I strongly recommend you drop $15 and buy this bundle. Even if only so you can get DWS’ lecture on Lester Dent’s Master Plot Formula lecture (a $50 value).

For one thing you’ll get a ton of great information on structure. For a second, as I’ve said many times, DWS inadvertently lets slip a LOT of gems in his lectures. Oh, and there are some good books in this bundle too. (grin)

Speaking of gems, I happened across these “20 Writing Tips from Fiction Authors” at
http://www.iuniverse.com/Resources/Writing-Editing/20WritingTipsfrom12FictionAuthors.aspx.

My recommendation (as always) is that you take to heart what feels right to you and ignore the rest.

Topic: Shut Up, Conscious Mind!

I’m writing this stuff in the spirit of honesty and up-frontnicity, right? So I have to tell you, for a little while today I thought this story, my WIP, was grinding to a halt.

And even with all my practice, I didn’t recognize the problem for awhile.

The other day I thought I knew how the rest of the story was going to go. So that made it boring to me. I almost shelved it then.

And then for the past couple of days, it’s been like pulling teeth. I mean think about it. I went to the store rather than write. I mowed part of the yard rather than write.

But then a little while ago, a friend sent me half a boatload of Ko-Fi through my new account. (Thanks!)

That caused me to get on my hotspot (I’m in the Hovel) so I could thank him.

While I was there (natch) I checked email and then Facebook. Occasionally on FB I mention how the writing’s going. (That’s pretty much the sum total of “marketing” that I do.)

And while I was on FB, I saw a couple places where I noted how much fun it is to just tell a story.

And that’s when it hit me. With this novel, at least over the past few days, I wasn’t just telling a story. I wasn’t playing. I wasn’t having fun.

Instead, I was worrying about length. I was fretting over details in the setting. I was mentally haranguing myself (yes, haranguing!) about characters and situations and pretty much everything else.

The one thing I wasn’t doing was writing.

See, this thing I’m writing, this story, is supposed to be noir, detective, pulp-type stuff.

By the way, “pulp” is not synonymous with “bad.” If anything, it’s synonymous with “entertaining.”

So this is supposed to be a thrill ride. It’s supposed to be fun. More to the point, pulp is a work that’s strongly dependent on a single POV (detective or PI, perp, or victim).

In pulp story writing, the writer controls the pacing, whether slow or fast. (The slower parts make the faster parts seem even more intense.) That’s what makes it fun to write and that’s what makes it entertaining.

You absolutely can not “think” (conscious mind) your way through a pulp story. As we used to say in the Marine Corps, the gunny’s job (now the writer’s job) is to lay his ears back and attack in all directions. (grin)

So now that I checked in with myself, laid my craven soul bare and slapped my conscious mind around a bit, back to the novel. Or novella. Whatever it’s gonna be.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3. Coffee and foolishness for the first couple hours.

Over the next couple of hours, I checked Dean’s site and wrote a lot of this stuff. I also listened to the first few sessions of DWS’ lecture on LD’s Master Plot Formula, and then researched some stuff online that he mentioned. Some of those gems I talk about on here.

Then I remembered I have a novel or something to write and finish. (grin) It would be entirely too easy for me to take a day off and just read and learn. But I’ll make time for that after this WIP is finished.

7:10, to the Hovel. I opened the novel, looked at it for a moment and drew a blank. Usually that’s a sign that I took a wrong direction a short way back. I played a few games of spider solitaire.

Then around 8 I took a short walk to clear the cobwebs. Weird day. But it’s okay. I feel like this thing’s on the verge of breaking loose.

9:20 back to the Hovel and the novel.

11:40. Wow. I’ve done hardly anything on the novel. Then I realized I was trying to do too much. I was “thinking.” Ugh.

I stopped and wrote the topic above. Then I wrote about the challenge I’m considering. I’ll post that tomorrow or the next day.

12:30. Now that I got my head clear on what I’m supposed to be doing, back to it.

Calling it a day a little early today but a good day, considering.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

As you might expect, some very enlightening comments on Dean’s “The Magic Bakery: Chapter Five” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-magic-bakery-chapter-five/.

He also has “Story Twenty” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-twenty/. And in case you’re one who skims, not a bad idea to read that whole post, at least through “STORY CHALLENGE… Get Me to Read 30 Short Stories.” Some gems there.

Finally, he also talks about a “Major New Writing Bundle” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/major-new-writing-bundle/. This one was curated by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and she also explains what’s in the bundle. You even get a WMG lecture.

As I mentioned above, I’ve already bought this one. Just in case you want it to, the purchase link is https://storybundle.com/writing.

Fiction Words: 2513
Nonfiction Words: 960 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3473

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… 2201 words. Total words to date…… 7582
Day 5…… 2579 words. Total words to date…… 10161
Day 6…… 1344 words. Total words to date…… 11505
Day 7…… 2513 words. Total words to date…… 14018

Total fiction words for the month……… 25927
Total fiction words for the year………… 234483
Total nonfiction words for the month… 12060
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 69400

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 303883

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 513 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels

The Journal, Thursday, 4/20

Hey Folks,

Well, kind of a dismal showing today, but a showing none the less. (grin)

Listen, if any of these posts key your Share mode, please feel free to comment on your own “process” or techniques or day, etc. You never know what another reader might find of interest or even a gem.

Epiphanies are everywhere, and they depend on the reader’s perception, not the writer’s intention.

***

Interesting morning. After I wrote the topic (below) I was on my way to the Hovel to write.

Then I remembered there were things we need at the store. So I hooked a U-turn, went back to the house, added some stuff to the list. Then I went to the store.

Got back, put stuff away, and decided to finish mowing a few places on the yard. So I did that.

Then I was hungry, so I got breakfast.

Then, finally, I headed for the Hovel. I grinned all the way knowing now I’d get to play.

***

All things considered, I seem to be relaxing my way through this novel. It’s wonderful to feel that confident and comfortable, but already (less than 12,000 words in) I’ll be glad when this one’s finished so I can write the next one. Oh oh. (grin)

I think I’m tired of the world this one is set in. I already have the next one in the series started, too. But I think I’ll take a break from this world on the next one and write in a different genre, different world.

Topic: On Word Counts and Averages and Productivity

Scott Gordon lit my fuse on this topic in a comment on the 4/19/2017 edition of the Journal, so blame him. (grin)

Scott mentioned that he feels he needs a daily word count goal in order to attain his larger, longer-term goals.

Nothing wrong with that at all. As most of you know, I’ve done the same thing. In fact, I did it for most of the past three years.

Only recently did I discard the daily word count goal as a tool in my own arsenal. That action had two effects: the number of days I actually wrote decreased. But the average number of words on the days that I did write INcreased. Go figure.

But the daily word count goal can be useful.

If you want to write a particular number of words in a week or month or year, breaking that overall number into smaller segments (a daily goal) helps a great deal.

For me, the daily word count goal served its purpose. It provided a necessary catalyst to get me to where I am now as a writer. If you’re familiar with Maslow’s Heirarchy, I’ve attained self-actualization as a writer.

That doesn’t mean I’ve mastered the craft or anything like that. It means the act of writing, in and of itself, is of the utmost importance.

Even publishing what I write is second to that in importance. Everything else (promotions, reviews, sales, etc.) is third. A very distant third.

Just as an example, one of my own “big” goals used to be to hit 1,000,000 words of published fiction in a year.

But one day I realized (for me) that’s only a number. I routinely hit around 800,000 words of fiction per year anyway. Shrug. So for me, that goal lost its importance.

Still, I reiterate, using a daily word count goal is a great idea if it’s something you want or need to do to help you attain your writing goals.

But bear in mind, in this game the Average is what matters.

There are life rolls, emergencies, family time and other reasons for non-writing or little-writing days. And that’s fine. You’re human.

Most people think I’m prolific. Well, I’m not. Not when compared with the old pulp writers, many of whom far exceeded 1,000,000 words of published fiction per year. On manual, non-electric typewriters.

But I do pay attention to two particular averages.

One is the average number of words per calendar day. That’s to keep me humble.

The other is the average number of words per WRITING day. That’s to keep my spirits up. (grin)

So how’s that workin’ out for you, Harv? Well, let’s take a look.

Through yesterday, April 19 2017, I’ve written 230,626 words of publishable fiction.

Sounds like a lot, huh?

But if I didn’t write another word of fiction this year beginning today, my mean average for the year on December 31 would be only 631 words per day. (So about a half-hour of work per day.)

But let’s focus back down to reality.

Thus far (through April 19) there have been 109 days this year. Over that 109 calendar days, my average is only 2115 words per day. Given that my typical daily word count goal was 3,000 words per day, that isn’t good. (See? Humility is a good thing.)

However, among those 109 days I’ve had 37 nonwriting days. (Over a month of nonwriting days!)

So over the remaining 72 days (the actual writing days), my average is 3203 words per day.

(To put that in perspective, had I written 3203 words per day all 109 days thus far this year, my publishable fiction word count would be up to 349,127 words. Sigh.)

Now, having figured all of this out for this topic, what’s the take-away?

Well, that’s up to you.

For me personally, I’m determined to have more writing days and fewer nonwriting days.

See, for me the secret is no longer a daily word count goal. I know if I write I’ll average around 3,000 words per day.

Oh, and I also hate seeing “XXXX” in the “Fiction Words” section below. (grin)

So now I’m gonna go write.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3 and spent the first three hours or so writing this stuff and doing little else.

Around 7, I was on my way to write and a bunch of other stuff happened.

At 10, finally to the Hovel and the novel. Around 10:50, a break.

11:10, back to the novel.

Took a break around noon, almost an hour. (At that point, as it turns out, my day was pretty much over.) I posted some pics to FB, etc. and back to the novel around 1.

I wrote a little, then decided to take a walk in the desert out back with my grandson and my camera.

A really short day on the novel today. But somehow that’s okay.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “The Magic Bakery: Chapter Five” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-magic-bakery-chapter-five/. Great stuff.

Then “Story Nineteen and Some Updates on Challenge” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-nineteen-and-some-updates-on-challenge/. Really wish I had the $600 for this, or that there were two online workshops I still wanted to take. (grin)

Also some good comments on Dean’s original post about the short story challenge: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/i-opened-my-mouth-so-here-is-how-it-could-work/.

And finally (at Dean’s), “Quick Update to Short Story Challenge” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/quick-update-to-short-story-challenge/.

Also via The Passive Voice, see “How a self-published author inspired by Stephen King knocked his idol from the top spot on Amazon” at http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/18/self-published-author-inspired-by-stephen-king-beats-idol-on-amazon.html.

Fiction Words: 1344
Nonfiction Words: 1130 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2474

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… 2201 words. Total words to date…… 7582
Day 5…… 2579 words. Total words to date…… 10161
Day 6…… 1344 words. Total words to date…… 11505

Total fiction words for the month……… 23414
Total fiction words for the year………… 231970
Total nonfiction words for the month… 11100
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 68440

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 300410

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 512 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels

The Journal, Wednesday, 4/19

Hey Folks,

Laundry day and a novel to write. Except for the “laundry day” part, could anything get better than that? (grin)

I’m gonna try to work on the novel up at the house today (since it’s laundry day). We’ll see how that works out.

Same old routine for the first few hours this morning. Not sure where it all went except for chatting on FB for a little while with my new friend Scott Gordon.

As you know, I love meeting new writing friends who are serious about learning and practicing the craft. I only wish we could all live close enough together to meet and talk writing once a month or so. Sigh.

As some of you know, I’m from the school of “If I’ve Done It Before, I Can Do It Again.” Well, you know, within limitations. For example, I’ve completed a 3-mile run in under 18 minutes. That’s never gonna happen again.

But the overall principle is valid, and it comes in handy when I’m retraining myself.

This morning, during one two-hour period, I alternately tended to laundry and wrote about 1000 words. Significantly, the writing was all on my business computer, at my outside desk and then at my office desk.

That isn’t a lot of words, but at least I’m showing my subconscious we can write on this computer and away from my usual writing space.

That’s important as I retrain myself to write in the early morning before I move out to the Hovel.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out way late at 4, but I guess I needed to sleep-in a bit.

Involved myself in the routine I mentioned above until around 7:30. That and started doing laundry.

7:30, to the novel at my desk in my office, then outside, then back inside.

9:20, a break to finish tending to laundry and some other small chores.

Finally to the Hovel around 10:30.

I wrote off and on most of the day while tending to a lot of little things around the house.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Some great comments on Dean’s “Story Seventeen” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-seventeen/.

More good stuff in his “Story Eighteen and Half-Title Pages Explained” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-eighteen-and-half-title-pages-explained/.

And finally, if you’d like DWS to be your first reader, see “I Opened My Mouth… So Here Is How It Could Work” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/i-opened-my-mouth-so-here-is-how-it-could-work/. Given all the gems he lets slip at times, this might be a really great deal.

His deal boils down to $10 per story if you finish 30 stories in 60 days. Not too shabby at all.

And his first reader service is FREE if you finish 30 stories in 30 days.

Seriously, if you write short stories and you can handle it, give this some thought.

Fiction Words: 2579
Nonfiction Words: 460 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3039

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… 2201 words. Total words to date…… 7582
Day 5…… 2579 words. Total words to date…… 10161

Total fiction words for the month……… 22070
Total fiction words for the year………… 230626
Total nonfiction words for the month… 9970
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 67310

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 297936

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 512 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels

The Journal, Tuesday, 4/18

Hey Folks,

Well, yesterday I reported finishing a short story titled “Beats All.”

Yesterday early evening I read it aloud to my wife. At the end, I frowned. “This sounds like the beginning of a novel, doesn’t it?”

(I’ve long known and preached the value of reading aloud. Yet I’m still amazed at how valuable it really is.)

She said, “Yes. It ended, but it isn’t finished.”

Okay. Ugh. Now I have two novels going concurrently. And they’re in the same world and feature some of the same characters.

The Platinum Blond Perturbance will be the third Detective Galecki novel and it’s told from his POV.

Beats All features Galecki and another detective, but it’s told from the POV of a minor criminal.

Before you ask whether I can combine these, this is not a mix-and-match situation. Each of these recent novels have been first-person single-POV efforts, something I’m practicing.

I only jumped ahead to “finish” Beats All yesterday because I was certain it was going to be a short story.

I’ve already removed it from the lineup below (I clean up the Notepad version of this Journal as my last act of business each day) so I won’t add it back until I start writing it again.

I still think it works as a short story. Sometime today I’ll put together a cover for it and get it out to donors.

Then it’s back to The Platinum Blond Perturbance.

Topic: The Differences Between Amateurs and Professionals

Really, this isn’t a topic so much as a tease. To read the whole post (it isn’t mine), please visit https://medium.com/the-mission/the-7-differences-between-professionals-and-amateurs-f8efc4840861.

Here are the highlights:

1. Amateurs wait for clarity. Pros take action.

2. Amateurs want to arrive. Pros want to get better.

3. Amateurs practice as much as they have to. Pros never stop.

4. Amateurs leap for their dreams. Pros build a bridge.

5. Amateurs fear failure. Pros crave it.

6. Amateurs build a skill. Pros build a portfolio.

7. Amateurs want to be noticed. Pros want to be remembered.

A lot of gems to be mined in Jeff Goins’ article. I hope you’ll visit.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out a little after 2. Routine stuff for the first hour or so, then wrote much of what’s above this.

At 4 I decided to get the admin stuff out of the way. I created a cover for “Beats All You Ever Saw,” then formatted and uploaded it to D2D and Amazon.

Finally I posted it to the Free Story page on my website, then emailed the .mobi copy to my donors. All of that took about an hour and a half.

Around 6:30 I signed up for a free Ko-Fi account. It’s yet one more place where visitors to the site can make a donation or “Buy Me A Coffee” if they want. For an example, see my page at https://ko-fi.com/A37113T2.

Finally around 9 I started cycling through the novel, getting it back into my head. I’m not worrying about word count today. I just want to get back into it and see where it goes from there.

Well, I’ll call this a good day, despite writing just over 2000 new words on the day. I guess I’m easing back into this one, but I’m still having a blast.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

From yesterday, via The Passive Voice, “The 7 Differences Between Professionals and Amateurs” at https://medium.com/the-mission/the-7-differences-between-professionals-and-amateurs-f8efc4840861.

Want to give folks a chance to buy you a coffee? Get your free Ko-Fi account at https://ko-fi.com/. (Thanks to Scott Gordon. See his site at http://segordon.blogspot.com.)

At Dean’s, “Story Seventeen” http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-seventeen/.

Fiction Words: 2201
Nonfiction Words: 610 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2811

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… 2201 words. Total words to date…… 7582

Total fiction words for the month……… 19491
Total fiction words for the year………… 228047
Total nonfiction words for the month… 9510
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 66850

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 294897

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 511 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels