The Journal, Sunday, 9/20: Leaving a Jagged Edge

Rolled out around 1:30. Answered some emails, then came here to write this, then to the novel. I’m going to Tucson this morning, so I want to get some done on the novel before I go.

Probably you’ve noticed I’m not doing more on short stories right now. I will, but the challenge is definitely kaput since the novel popped up. Just the way it is. The story of the week for tomorrow is already pre-posted. So sometime after tomorrow I’ll write the story for next Monday (28th).

I can leave a novel to write a short story, then return to the novel. I can do that. But I can’t leave a novel to write a bunch of short stories and then come back to the novel with the same fire. And novels sell better than short stories, plus I want to see what happens in the novel, so there y’go.

Leaving for Tucson around 9:15, so in the shower by 8:30, so I can write and do whatever else from the time I finish this until around 8. The extra half-hour gives me time to leave a jagged edge on the story to prep for when I come back.

Leaving a jagged edge is some of the simplest and best writing advice I ever received. I got it from SF writer CJ Cherryh when I heard her speak at Eastern NM University in Portales, NM.

Simply put, it means don’t stop writing at a clear, clean break. For example, before you stop writing for the day, you might put your character in the shower.

When you come back to the story later, you’ll have to get the character out of the shower before you can write anything else, and that will get you back into the flow. Or maybe the character being in the shower when you come back will send through your fingers a scene that results from the character having been in the shower.

Perhaps you’ll open with a scene in a restaurant (he showered to get ready to go to the restaurant) or a business meeting or whatever.

I’m sure you get the idea.

Okay, it’s not quite 3 a.m., so on to the novel for awhile. Then I’ll come back and post my numbers, all before 8:30. If I get a chance to write more after I get back, then I’ll change the numbers and this post. If not, it will be good to go.

My Current Goals and Challenge
My goals are to write 3,000 words of publishable fiction per day and at least one short story per week. Stay tuned.

Today’s Writing
After a good session on the novel, I added a few more posts (pre-posted) to my other blog, then came back to the novel. When I left for Tucson, I had written 2942 words in two long sessions.

Weird missing my daily goal by only 58 words, but not that big a deal, right? I got involved in some other stuff after Tucson and didn’t get back to writing today. However, tomorrow is a new 3000-word daily goal.

Also kind of a great feeling knowing I’m well over a half-million words so far on the year. (grin)

I’m removing the short stories I was reporting on earlier. I’ll put them back when I write on them again. Much as I enjoy writing short stories, I have to admit it feels really good to be working on another novel. Kind of in a race with myself. (grin)

Fiction Words: 2942

Writing of “Norval Babineaux” (novel)
Day 1…… 3405 words. Total words to date….. 3405 words
Day 2…… 1487 words. Total words to date….. 4892 words
Day 3…… 4139 words. Total words to date….. 9031 words
Day 4…… 1516 words. Total words to date….. 10547 words
Day 5…… 2942 words. Total words to date….. 13489 words (2942 before Tucson)

Total fiction words for the month………… 36897 (1590 on Wes)
Total fiction words for the year…………… 501938 (Woohoo!)

In case anyone’s wondering (I was), I’ve also written 155,419 words on this blog. That does NOT include emails or seminar handouts or my “main” blog that comes out every ten days. So total word count of published fiction and this blog since January 1 2015 is 657,357 words. (grin) Tomorrow, back to fiction only.

I tagged DWS in this because if it weren’t for him, I would never have achieved this. So just in case you get a ping back or something. Thanks, Dean.

The Journal, Saturday, 9/19: Fun with Aphorisms

Rolled out at 2:30 again, fired up to write. I got my coffee, checked email, and an aphorism sprang to mind. I wrote that one in a “Quotations” text document I keep, and it birthed another one. That happened several more times, along with the necessary revisions, and then I went to another file I’ve kept for years: definitions.

I spent some time there, writing a few new definitions and transfering some older ones to my list of quotations. Before I was finished, two and a half hours had passed. So I was writing within a half hour of getting out of bed, but not on the novel. Yet. (grin)

Then I came here. More in the topic below on aphorisms. Hope you enjoy it.

Had a necessary trip to Sierra Vista today (about three hours). I planned to write for awhile first, but we went sooner than I expected. Got back, pulled up the novel, wrote about a hundred words, and remembered My Team (LSU) might be playing today.

Looked them up online. Sure enough, Auburn at LSU was on, halfway through the 3rd quarter. The score was lopsided. Well, there was only a quarter and a half left, so I went to watch it. (grin)

Hey, priorities right? The novel is going really smoothly right now. I’ll have a bit of time to write after the game, and I’ll write for a few hours in the morning before I go to Tucson.

By the way, I’ll be at the SSA Forum tomorrow at around 10 a.m. That’s at the Tucson City Center InnSuites Resort, 475 N. Granada. Primarily I’ll be there to visit and to announce four new all day seminars. Hope to see some of you there.

Okay, went back to the game for a bit, and LSU beat Auburn 45 – 21. Geaux Tigers. (grin)

Now to the novel for awhile. Then I’ll come back and post my numbers.

My Current Goals and Challenge
My goals remain to write 3,000 words of publishable fiction per day and at least one short story per week. I still also intend to write 30 short stories before October 1. I have a ways to go on that one. (grin) Stay tuned.

Topic of the Post: Fun with Aphorisms
“Aphorism” is defined by dictionary.com as “a short pithy saying expressing a general truth.” My aphorisms sometimes come out as definitions (ala Ambrose Bierce) and are most often satirical. Here are a dozen of mine. Remember, these are tongue in cheek:

  • apology, n. A device intended to soothe wounds and thereby put a victim off his guard; a precursor to the next offense.
  • arrogance, n. ignorance advertised.
  • common sense, n. A myth. What’s common to some is obviously a luxury to most.
  • human, n. 1. The most conceited animal on earth, unjustifiably so.
  • intellectual, n. 1. One who will drive a Hummer six blocks to a Save the Ozone rally. 2. A closet tuna-eater.
  • intolerance, n. Proof of an atrophied mind and a lazy disposition.
  • kindness, n. An imagined effect created by hopeful expectation. The word itself never issues forth from one whose lips the word has crossed, except to convey superiority.
  • opinion, n. Offered as it is from a single point of view, a meaningless group of words to anyone but the author.
  • patience, n. A pliable substance that wears thin when it’s most needed.
  • protestor, n. 1. One who exercises the right to dissent, provided him by a patriot, against whom he most often dissents. 2. One who, lacking a cause, will create a posterboard sign decrying the lack of causes and picket the nearest conservative.
  • question, n. Because it stirs thought, the only truly important grouping of words in any language.
  • victim, n. In our society, the person held responsible for the crime perpetuated against him.

And a few straight aphorisms:

  • Failure is only practice for success.
  • The right to free speech does not include the right to an audience.
  • The one thing I cannot tolerate is intolerance.

How about you? Do you write aphorisms? It’s a fun exercise and a great way to keep the brain pan lubricated.

Today’s Writing
Didn’t write as much today on the novel as I expected to. I could have written more this early a.m. I could have written for the hour or so that I was watching LSU football.

No biggie. Sometimes I allow things to interfere. I know I’ll be gone much of tomorrow, so I’ll hit it early and hard before I leave in the morning. (By the time I leave for Tucson, I will have been up 6 or 7 hours.)

So I screwed around today a little too much. Because of that I missed going over the half-million mark for the year. (grin) Bad, bad Harvey.

Fiction Words: 1516

Writing of “Norval Babineaux” (umm, novel)
Day 1…… 3405 words. Total words to date….. 3405 words
Day 2…… 1487 words. Total words to date….. 4892 words
Day 3…… 4139 words. Total words to date….. 9031 words
Day 4…… 1516 words. Total words to date….. 10547 words

Writing of “Curious Shapes” (short story)
Day 1…… 1022 words. Total words to date….. 1022 words
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words (done)

Writing of “Nick Mansione” (short story)
Day 1…… 1458 words. Total words to date….. 1458 words
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words (done)

Total fiction words for the month………… 33955 (1590 on Wes)
Total fiction words for the year…………… 498996

Well, I’ll go over the half-million mark tomorrow then. Easily. (grin)

The Journal, Friday, 9/18: Priorities. Choices.

Well, as you can see, I decided to skip straight to 7 p.m. with this blog.

In the ongoing email nonsense, stupid me, I did it again. I rolled out at 2:30, fired up to write. I got my coffee, checked email. Then I spent over an hour responding to one. Ugh. That’s okay. It’s the last one.

And this was completely my fault. I can’t control what others ask. I can control only my response. Okay, now I can check that re-re-re-realization off my to-do list.

Hey folks, if you wanna share jokes, pictures, or other sillinesses with me, that’s all well and good. I need a break like everybody else.

But if you ask me a series of serious questions only to set me up for “sparring” via email because you think it’s fun? No. Don’t do that. I will wish bad things for you.

I don’t do light banter and sparring for fun about writing. I will give you my own proven best advice. You take it, you don’t, no worries. But ask because you seriously want to learn, and at least consider what I send back.

Don’t do it just as a juvenile exercise in verbal sparring. That’s just annoying.

Of course, if you would do that in the first place, you wouldn’t be signed up for my blog(s).

Listen, if any of you have not yet read Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing and Killing the Sacred Cows of Indie Publishing, I strongly advise you to do so. You can find both of them free, every chapter, at http://deanwesleysmith.com/killing-the-sacred-cows-of-publishing/. Eventually he’ll take them down, so I hope you’ll go read them when you can. You could even save them into a Word document or something so you can look at them from time to time.

Well, as I said, I’m tweaking my retraining schedule again. No walking again today. Writing. Only writing and little breaks.

Yesterday I called time of death on my 30-short-stories-by-September-30 challenge. That was stupid. I still have time, and it’s still possible if I stop being a moron and misusing my time. So it’s back on. Yeah, I know. Indecisive. Hey, I’m showing you all of it, not just the good stuff.

Again Dean showed me exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right time in his Topic today. He’s talking about his own challenge to write ten books in the last four months of this year. It took him 17 days to write the first one, so he’s behind a bit. He wrote, “So what am I going to do now that the first book of the ten took longer to write than expected? Write the next book, that’s what. It is a very long time between now and the end of the year.”

See? Isn’t that perfect?

My Current Goals and Challenge
My goals remain to write 3,000 words of publishable fiction per day and at least one short story per week. I still also intend to write 30 short stories before October 1. I have a ways to go on that one. (grin) Stay tuned.

Topic of the Post: Priorities and Choices
As you know (ad nauseam) I encourage those who would be writers to consciously set priorities. And you do set your own priorities, period.

Yes, I know other people and sitautions are affected, but barring absolute emergencies (the house is on fire, etc.) you still set your own priorities. If you make playing golf once a week your priority, then that’s what you do.

Then once your priorities are set, you still have choices to make.

Let’s say playing golf is your number one priority on Sunday. But on Friday, a good friend calls and asks you to bring your pickup and your trailer and help him move across town.

Well then you have a choice to make. Choices are up to you too. Do you say Sorry, but this is my golf day, or do you say, Sure, I’ll be right over? Up to you.

What brought this up? I said to a recent correspondent that if someone decides they WANT to write, after that it’s a matter of sitting down and writing. The correspondent maintains that some people really want to write, but they don’t because they have no choice.

Sorry. That’s pure, unadulterated bull cookies.

It’s all a matter of Priorities and Choices.

Writing is something a guy really wants to do. He goes so far as to carve out time to do so, say one hour per day for five days per week.

But when the time rolls around for him to write, he chooses to mow the yard instead. Or he chooses to accompany his wife to the grocery. Or he chooses to watch a sporting event. Or he chooses to help his friend move across town.

Then later when his writer friends ask how his writing is coming, he says, “Oh, I didn’t write anything this week. I had to [fill in the blank]. I really had no choice. But I’ll get it next week.

No, he won’t.

The point is, it’s always something.

Sorry, but I’m just not buying it. Been there, lived it, succumbed to and overcame all the writer’s fears, and I’m still here.

If you couldn’t tell, “I had no choice” is way up there on my list of detested complaints. If you want to do something, do it. If you don’t, don’t. Shrug. Seriously, with very few exceptions it really is that simple.

(Oh goodness. I’d really like to finish this story right now, but the house is on fire and the door to my office is getting hotter as I speak. Maybe I ought’a go out the window, with my writing computer, of course.)

Okay, enough of this. I’ve been up almost 3 hours. To the stories.

Today’s Writing
Today I learned two things. One, writing really is easy when you remember to trust your subconscious. (Doh!)

That is, it’s really easy when you just sit down, put your fingers on the keyboard, and write whatever comes. Don’t try to figure out what’s gonna happen next, etc. Let the story tell you, through your fingers, what DID happen next. (This is Writing Off Into the Dark).

And two, I learned that the story I’m writing about Norval Babineaux is NOT a literary short story about the Cajun culture set in Louisiana. In fact, one’a my characters, a woman named Marie Babineaux, put her hands on her hips, jutted out her chin, and said, “Hey you. This here ain’t no simple little Cajun thing, no. This here is one’a them complex deals. This here is mo’ complex than a fi’ty cent sale at the Dollah Sto’ when you ain’t got nothin’ but fo’ty-nine pennies. You see what I’m sayin’?” Then she snapped her fingers in front of my nose. “Hey, hey! Earth to Harvey. Get on the stick, Dude. I gotta get outta here an’ get in the stores. No more’a this sittin’ aroun’, you.”

It is a science fiction novella or novel that BEGINS in Louisiana and spreads around the world. It might be the first book of a saga or series. Holy cow. And I thought my next longer work would be either the 9th book of the Wes Crowley saga or the first book in a detective series. Go figure. What wonderful fun!

Fiction Words: 4139

Writing of “Norval Babineaux” (umm, novel)
Day 1…… 3405 words. Total words to date….. 3405 words
Day 2…… 1487 words. Total words to date….. 4892 words
Day 3…… 4139 words. Total words to date….. 9031 words

Writing of “Curious Shapes” (short story)
Day 1…… 1022 words. Total words to date….. 1022 words
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words (done)

Writing of “Nick Mansione” (short story)
Day 1…… 1458 words. Total words to date….. 1458 words
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words (done)

Total fiction words for the month………… 32439 (1590 on Wes)
Total fiction words for the year…………… 497480

Tomorrow I break a half-million words for the year! Woohoo!

The Journal, Thursday, 9/17: Critical Mind. Ugh.

When asked what advice he would give new writers, Ray Bradbury said, “Write at least a thousand words a day for ten years. Write at least a short story every week of your life, or its equivalent in essay form, play form or the novel. … Habit is everything. Learning one’s craft is locked into habit.” So there you go.

Got a good night’s sleep last night despite the idiot dog across the way doing his bark-at-nothing thing at regular intervals. Rolled out right at 3 to begin the day.

Slipping a bit in my ongoing retraining, so I’m retooling again. I always check email first thing while I’m waking up, read news stories, etc. But recently I’ve been responding to lengthy emails from a person who asks a lot of questions.

Now I’m not blaming the person for asking, so don’t get me wrong. I could always just say something like “Sorry, I don’t have time for this.” But I’m trying to help, trying to share my own knowledge and experience, so I don’t mind. And if you know me at all, you know I usually go overboard with my answers to be sure I answer the question thoroughly. So totally my fault.

This morning I received an email like that with nine numbered questions. To save a little time scrolling up and down I opened a Notepad document, listed 1-9 down the side, then wrote my responses.

It still ate an hour and a half out of my day. Granted it was almost a thousand words (I checked only for purposes of this post), and that many words of nonfiction from the conscious mind in an hour and a half is pretty much blazing speed, at least for me. But I allowed my response to eat about 1500 words worth of my fiction-writing time. And I’ll lose more time too. Time that I can’t afford to lose.

The problem is that once I’m working in my conscious, critical mind, it takes awhile to get back into the free-flowing subconscious creative mind.

So I’m tweaking my retraining schedule again. Beginning tomorrow morning, I’ll still check email, read news items etc. to wake up as always. I’ll even respond to some email, but long stuff or stuff that I feel requires a long response will have to wait until the end of my day.

Oh, beginning tomorrow also, this post will go out later in the evening. I’ll try 6 for awhile. If that doesn’t give me enough leeway, I’ll raise it to 7.

Now about the conscious mind. One of the primary functions of the conscious mind is to protect you. If you’re about to lean your hand on the hot burner of a stove, the conscious mind is what causes you to feel the heat and jerk your hand away. The conscious mind is what causes you to sense the edge of a cliff is near and back off. (The subconcious mind would say, “Go ahead! Might be a trip!”)

For a writer, the conscious mind invokes every writing myth you ever heard in an attempt to stop you from writing. (If you don’t finish what you’re writing, you can’t submit it or publish it and you won’t be “hurt” by rejection or criticism. This is why we don’t mind outlining or plotting or thinking about writing or just rewriting and “polishing” ad nauseam.)

And the critical conscious mind is wily in that regard. Notice, I recently (only a few days ago) had retrained myself to take no more than a half-hour of waking-up time before turning to the writing computer. Enter this correspondent, and suddenly I’m taking an hour and a half to two hours. Nicely played, conscious mind. (grin) But I’m putting a stop to it.

So how do you beat the conscious, critical mind? You take a personal oath to adhere to Heinlein’s Rules. Then when you realize you’ve fallen off, you wag your finger at your conscious mind, set it back in the corner where it’s supposed to be, and get back on Heinlein’s Rules.

  1. You must write.
  2. You must finish what you write.
  3. You must not rewrite.
  4. You must publish what you write so people can buy it.
  5. You must keep it published so more people can buy it.

I’ve been falling down on Rule 2 lately. Why? Because my conscious mind keeps wanting to know where the story is going in advance. So I have to clear that away, start another story, write an opening and see where it goes.

I have to stop “thinking” and Just Write the Next Sentence. Now I’m putting all this here so you can see that if you have to battle this stuff, you aren’t alone. I battle it too.

Okay, so I wrote that response to my correspondent, and that siphoned me into using my conscious, critical mind. Since I was drowning in the CCM anyway, I came here to write this. And now four hours of the day are gone.

Now I’m gonna take a bit of time to adjust my head. Maybe I’ll read a little more Bradbury or something (it motivates me), and then it’s to the writing computer. I’ll see you again this afternoon when it’s time to post this.

By the way, I’m officially calling time of death on my 30-short-stories-by-September-30 challenge.

Did some reading and a few other things, and now, a full six hours after I got out of bed, I’m finally starting my fiction writing. That is completely unsatisfactory. Sometimes there are valid reasons not to write. Today is not of of those days.

My Current Goals and Challenge
My goals remain to write 3,000 words of publishable fiction per day and at least one short story per week. I probably will announce a new challenge soon. I do still want to stay in my retraining though, and writing short stories is the best way to do that right now. Stay tuned.

Topic of the Post: Nothing beyond what I wrote above.

Today’s Writing
Well, nothing like I wanted. Frankly, the fact that I started this post with that particular Bradbury quote is the only thing that made me write fiction today. I couldn’t break free of all the crap in my head. I’ll have it back tomorrow, I guess. I did write that foreword that was requested (1285 words) plus that long email earlier (1000) plus this (over 1200), so over 3000 words of non fiction. But very little fiction. Like I said, I’ll be back on it tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 1458

Writing of “Norval Babineaux” (not sure what this is gonna be)
Day 1…… 3405 words. Total words to date….. 3405 words
Day 2…… 1487 words. Total words to date….. 4892 words
Day 3…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words

Writing of “Curious Shapes” (short story)
Day 1…… 1022 words. Total words to date….. 1022 words
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words (done)

Writing of “Nick Mansione” (short story)
Day 1…… 1458 words. Total words to date….. 1458 words
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words (done)

Total fiction words for the month………… 28300 (1590 on Wes)
Total fiction words for the year…………… 493341

The Journal, Wednesday, 9/16: Challenges

Well, rolled out a little before 2 this morning. I was wide awake when I got up, but I’ve been tired most of the day.

My hobby is photography. I started it mostly so I could take my own cover shots for my books. I have a decent DSLR (Sony SLT A65) and some limited knowledge how to take good pics. Like writing, it takes practice more than anything else.

But I have very limited technical knowledge re the mechanical inner workings. Recently the image sensor in my camera got some dust on it, and of course those show up in the pics.

I don’t like to doctor pictures after I take them, so I had to find a way to clean the camera without damaging it.

Finally this morning I took a couple hours to find the right manual online. Downloaded it, read the instructions, cleaned the image sensor (first automatically, then tested it, then manually) and the next shot I took was clean. Score!

No walk today again. Just being and writing and overcoming the sense that I want to go to sleep for awhile.

Anyway, after cleaning the camera and writing this and the topic below, I moved over to the writing computer to spend some more time with Norval Babineaux.

Topic of the Post: Challenges
Yesterday I got flippant and said my short stories don’t want me to meet my goal. That was my way of saying the stories are in command. Which is another way of saying my subconscious is in command.

Now that’s great for word count goals, but not necessarily so much for the goal of writing a complete short story (or two) every day or the current challenge of completing 30 short stories by the end of this month.
But although goals and challenges are wonderful motivators, the key to writing both well and prolifically is to have fun. That was kind of my point yesterday. Sorry for the flippancy and any confusion.

Anyway, back to challenges. Do any of you have any ongoing challenges? Have you set any recurring writing goals? If so, have you broadcast it to others whom you know will support your efforts?

I hope it’s all of the above. If not, I urge you to give it a shot. For one thing, it’s a great deal of fun. For another, I won’t be quite so alone in my insanity. (grin)

If you need an additional motivation, Ray Bradbury himself advised those who would be writers to write at least a thousand words a day, every day. Of course, a lot of times you’ll go over that amount. There’s always a story or a chapter or a scene to finish.

Anyway, as I wrote in a response to a comment yesterday, my current challenge is more tongue in cheek at this point than realistic for me. That doesn’t mean some of you couldn’t do it. Beginning today and in the next 15 days I would have to write 24 short stories. So that’s one short story every day plus an extra short story on nine days. Possible? Yes. Probable or even plausible (for me)? Nuh uh.

Still, I’ll leave it in place until I come up with something better. Which is probably going to be in the next few days.(grin)

My Current Challenge and Goal
Before October 1, I will write at least 30 new short stories, one for each day in September. To satisfy the challenge, these have to be actual short stories, meaning they have to be over 2,000 words. If I write anything shorter than that, it will count on my numbers but not toward the challenge. Stay tuned.

Today’s Writing
Well, not as much as I’d liked. I’m just worn to a frazzle tired so I’m stopping a bit early. I have time for about another 1500 words, but I don’t have the brain for it.

Fiction Words: 2509

Writing of “Norval Babineaux” (not sure what this is gonna be)
Day 1…… 3405 words. Total words to date….. 3405 words
Day 2…… 1487 words. Total words to date….. 4892 words
Day 3…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words

Writing of “Curious Shapes” (short story)
Day 1…… 1022 words. Total words to date….. 1022 words
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words

One thing about these stories — I just have to write them. I don’t have to rush to slap a cover on them and publish them. All of that’s going to come later, although I will pick one each week to be the story for that week. At the end of the month if I’m successful in my challenge I should have 40 publications: 30 individual stories, six 5-story collections, three 10-story collections, and maybe one book titled The Stories of September.

Total challenge stories for the month…… 6 (Goal is 30)
Total challenge words for the month…… 25252
Total fiction words for the month………… 26842 (1590 on Wes)
Total fiction words for the year…………… 491883

The Journal, Tuesday, 9/15: Have Fun

Up right at 2 this morning at my little girl’s insistence. It’s all good. She’s a good baby.

I’m being lazy this morning. It took me over an hour to email a response to a lady who runs a nonprofit. Stuff about how to do things on her WordPress website. Yep, I still haven’t learned. Well, they either take the advice or they don’t. It isn’t like I’m getting royalties. Yawn.

I saw a video (posted it on my Facebook this morning) in which a guy hung out on a street corner. To passersby, he offered, absolutely free, either a large bar of Hershey’s chocolate or a silver ingot worth $150. In every case, they could take either one. In every case, they chose the chocolate. Oh yes, yes. I know those people. Sigh.

I also heard a classic this morning from a respondent (and I am paraphrasing the dialogue here): “Y’know, I offered this incredibly helpful product of mine absolutely free to 1,000 people and not one of them took me up on it. Guess I need to offer it to a lot larger group.”

Yeah, okay. That’ll work. Seriously? Shrug. Everybody needs a hobby.

No walk today at all. Just being and writing.

Okay, listen closely. Here, come closer. I gotta whisper so my subconscious doesn’t hear me. Ready?

My short stories do not want me to meet my goal and accomplish my challenge this month. I swear they’re against me.

Here I am needing to write two per day, and the stories are coming out longer and longer. I won’t be able to write two a day when each story is 4000 words or thereabouts, despite what I said a few days ago when I was feeling very cavalier about the whole thing.

Ugh. So I’m just gonna do what I always do at a time like this: remember to have fun. Writing isn’t work. It’s fun. If it was work, I’d find something else to do. I know I would, ’cause I’ve seen me do it. So I’m gonna have fun and enjoy the characters and what they say and do. The goal and the challenge are secondary. The characters and the fun come first.

I hope that’s how you look at your writing too. Remind yourself to have fun. Run and play with your friends.

Anyway, I posted the story I finished yesterday as next Monday’s story of the week. It’s the first SF I’ve written in awhile, and I even like it.

This morning I wrote for awhile on a new one, then got a shower and ate a little breakfast, then came back to writing. Then I played with my kitten for awhile (she’s sleeping in the window now) and came back to writing again.

As I’m writing this, I’m also eating lunch, and then I’ll go back to writing.

Currently in my challenge, I’ve written 6 stories out of 30. Today is the 15th. That leaves me 16 days (including today) to write 24 short stories. That means I have to write one short story every day, and on 8 days I have to write two. Yeah, well… we’ll see. (grin)

Well, I guess the number’s gonna stay at 6 for another day. If so, beginning tomorrow I have to write one new story every day plus two stories on nine days. Hmmm.

Topic of the Post: No topic today beyond what I wrote above about having fun.

My Current Challenge and Goal
Before October 1, I will write at least 30 new short stories, one for each day in September. To satisfy the challenge, these have to be actual short stories, meaning they have to be over 2,000 words. If I write anything shorter than that, it will count on my numbers but not toward the challenge. Stay tuned.

Today’s Writing
Well, the trend continues. And this one might actually be the beginning of a novella or novel. I honestly don’t know. I only know it feels like the end is nowhere in sight, so this one might be around for awhile even as I write other short stories past it. At least I’m havin’ fun. (grin)

Fiction Words: 3405

Writing of “The Singeing of Norval Babineaux” (short story or something)
Day 1…… 3405 words. Total words to date….. 3405 words
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words (done)

One thing about these stories — I just have to write them. I don’t have to rush to slap a cover on them and publish them. All of that’s going to come later, although I will pick one each week to be the story for that week. At the end of the month if I’m successful in my challenge I should have 40 publications: 30 individual stories, six 5-story collections, three 10-story collections, and maybe one book titled The Stories of September.

Total challenge stories for the month…… 6 (Goal is 30)
Total challenge words for the month…… 22743
Total fiction words for the month………… 24333 (1590 on Wes)
Total fiction words for the year…………… 489374

The Journal, Monday, 9/14: Farewell, Smashwords, and Why

Up a little before 2 this morning. Email responses and playing catch up with a little reading filled the first half-hour of the day. I didn’t drop by Dean’s site a second time yesterday so I did that as part of my waking up ritual this morning.

By the way, if you haven’t heard of Storybundle.com, check it out. I don’t buy every bundle that comes out, but every now and then they have one I can’t refuse. Basically, you pay what you want for a LOT of great reading.

The URL for the current bundle is http://storybundle.com/disasters. Once you sign up, they’ll send you announcements of other bundles. And free stuff. Like right now, a free issue of Lightspeed Magazine. (grin)

Guess I’ll write the topic now. Then I’ll write fiction for awhile, and then a walk (finally, after a few days off).

Took longer to write the topic than I thought it would. Finally to writing.

I screwed up. I relented and let the little girl out this morning while it was still dark. Again, something scared the stuffing out of her. When I let her in she began racing through the house like she did two days ago.

This time I corraled her quickly, brought her into my office and shut the door. But then I had to spend some time alternately catching her, petting her, telling her everything’s all right. I shut the blinds on my two open windows so she couldn’t see outside and that helped a lot. (Sure wish we could adjust our vision so we could see like they do at times.)

Still it took a good half-hour to calm her enough so I could open my office door without fear of her climbing to the top of the cabinets and inadvertently harming herself again. Now she’s lying on a Navajo rug just outside my open office door so I can see her and she can see me. Three times she walked over here and rubbed against my legs while I’m typing. Just making sure I’m still here.

I understand. Fear is one of the very few universal emotions, something we all share on this little blue rock. And anyone who believes the other creatures on this planet are not “self-aware” is really stuck in the collective human ‘holier-than-everything’ attitude.

Back to my story for a bit before my walk.

Had a good walk of just over 5 miles, then back here to read Dean’s post where I found exciting news. It was so good I threw together a special post over on my main blog and sent it out earlier today. See News Flash below.

Now back to my writing.

News Flash
Turns out ebooks are NOT declining as reported by traditional publishing’s “big 5.” Turns out, INDIE published ebooks are taking a lot larger market share. Ebook sales actually are INCREASING. Great news in this wonderful new world of publishing.

See for yourself at Author Earnings Report. Seriously, if you’re a writer, you want to read and understand this.

I urge you also to visit the website of Dean Wesley Smith where he provides a brief discussion of this. Very interesting stuff.

Topic of the Post: Farewell, Smashwords, and Why
Yesterday I started the topic of the post with “Some days you eat the bear, and some days the bear eats you.” That’s true for today’s post as well.

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

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

Enter Draft2Digital http://draft2digital.com, a sleek new company that does what Smashwords does but MUCH more quickly and efficiently. They distribute to the same “big six” that Smashwords distributes to (Apple, B&N, Kobo, Inktera, Oyster, and Scribd) plus Tolino, a growing ebook store in Germany that was created specifically to rival Amazon.

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

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

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

Here are a few stark numbers:

  • At Amazon.com it takes me about 15 minutes from clicking Create New Title to clicking Publish IF the process is uninterrupted by Amazon’s ridiculous page-loading times and jumping around. Probably the average time is 20 to 25 minutes. However, Amazon is currently my best venue, so the frustration, while annoying, is worthwhile.
  • At Smashwords.com it takes me about 10 minutes to go from entering the title of my book to clicking Publish at the bottom of the form.
    • But then I have to go to their ISBN Manager to assign an ISBN for distribution to some of the big six as well as several tiny library venues (where I’ve never sold a book).
    • Then I have to go to their Channel Manager. There I have to find my book (there are three pages) and then click thirteen “opt out” radio buttons one at a time so Smashwords will not distribute to anyone except the Smashwords.com online store.
    • Even after I’ve done all that, even though I’ve opted out of distribution to every place that requires an ISBN, I continue to see a message saying I need to assign an ISBN to my books. Very, very clunky system. I skip over the ISBN Manager since I no longer use them for distribution, but using the Channel Manager easily adds another 10 minutes and roughly half a ton of frustration to the process. Not worth it.
  • And D2D. Ahh, D2D. At Draft2Digital.com it takes me about 3 minutes from Add New Book to Publish. On the final page I check the stores to which I want them to distribute my work (so seven checkmarks), verify that the work is either mine or that I have the rights to publish it, and I’m done. They assign an ISBN for the venues that require it, but I don’t have to do anything with that.

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

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

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

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

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

My Current Challenge and Goal
Before October 1, I will write at least 30 new short stories, one for each day in September. To satisfy the challenge, these have to be actual short stories, meaning they have to be over 2,000 words. If I write anything shorter than that, it will count on my numbers but not toward the challenge. Stay tuned.

Today’s Writing
Well enough, I guess, but I was on this particular story much longer than I wanted to be. A lot of cycling back on this one as it kept twisting and turning. A lot of fun though. I hoped to finish this one today and write another, but I’ll have to save that for another day.

Fiction Words: 2511

Writing of “The Day They Came” (short story)
Day 1…… 1437 words. Total words to date….. 1437 words
Day 2…… 2511 words. Total words to date….. 3948 words (done)

One thing about these stories — I just have to write them. I don’t have to rush to slap a cover on them and publish them. All of that’s going to come later, although I will pick one each week to be the story for that week. At the end of the month if I’m successful in my challenge I should have 40 publications: 30 individual stories, six 5-story collections, three 10-story collections, and maybe one book titled The Stories of September.

Total challenge stories for the month…… 6 (Goal is 30)
Total challenge words for the month…… 19338
Total fiction words for the month………… 20928 (1590 on Wes)
Total fiction words for the year…………… 485969

The Journal, Sunday, 9/13: Writing When You Can

Up right at 3 this morning. The writing and tending to the kitten took their toll so I slept longer than usual, but she seems to be doing much better this morning. She spent a lot of time yesterday and last night resting and healing.

It’s odd how much she can put up with and how stoic she is about it. Humans could learn a great deal from little wonders like my girl. I’ve learned tons from her, not that all of it stuck.

I’ll get a little slower start to writing this morning, but I’m probably not gonna walk today so that adds a couple hours back in.

Stinkin’ coyotes are screaming this morning. Whoever first named those things “song dogs” must have been tone deaf. Or drunk. Or just a moron. Or maybe he was one of those guys who rubbed his palms together a lot while drooling through a smile and watching children being ripped apart by wild dogs. Ugh.

I did get to watch a little of the LSU @ Mississippi State game before I sacked out. Man, it’s like those LSU guys are from another planet. Geaux Tigers! I was also pleased to see this morning that Arizona and Oklahoma both won their games. And I guess Arizona put over 40 points on the scoreboard for two weeks in a row now.

Didn’t drop by Dean’s site yesterday so I did that as part of my waking up ritual this morning. Great post. I recommend it. All about the value of having the right writing group.  If you just go to his site instead of clicking on this link, you’ll have to scroll down when you get there.

I wrote the topic below, and now, as a thin line of pre-predawn blue draws across the eastern horizon, I’m turning to my writing ‘puter. Back later with zults and results.

I wrote for awhile on “Desecration,” a new story. Then I went outside for a little while, then came back in and created a new cover for the story. Then I remembered I needed to upload the four new covers I did earlier to my Short Fiction page on my website. There are now 107 covers on that page, including the cover for the story I’m writing today. (grin)

Finished “Desecration” and published it to D2D. That distributor provides an incredible experience. From the time I click Add New Book to the time I click Publish, it takes about 3 minutes.

Compare that to Amazon where the site seems to load FOREVER. And the process, when it’s uninterrupted, takes around 20 minutes. Ugh. Smashwords falls somewhere between those two, but I’m not using Smashwords anymore. It isn’t worth the effort. More on that in the topic tomorrow.

Topic of the Post: Revising Goals and Challenges
Some days you eat the bear, and some days the bear eats you. And that’s fine, as long as you aren’t dealing with, you know, an actual bear.

We set goals and challenges for a specific purpose. My purpose most often is to spur myself to greater heights with my writing. When the goal or challenge begins to falter in that purpose, it’s time to draw back and take another look at it.

Can you do that? Of course. There are three overall truisms about goals and challenges:

  • If you achieve your goal, nothing happens except maybe you feel good for a little while.
  • If you DON’T achieve your goal, also nothing happens. Except maybe you say “Darn it” and try again when the goal resets.
  • But if you change your goal for whatever reason, something DOES happen. You are invigorated. You have given new life to your endeavor, and you have given yourself the little push you need to continue.

A few days ago, I wrote that I’m not fooling myself into believing I can actually meet my goal of writing 30 short stories during the month of September. For the record, that’s 25 more short stories of at least 2,000 words each over the next 18 days (starting today). The problem is that “story” is not a set value.

If a “story” was exactly 2,000 words, I would know I have to write 50,000 words in the next 18 days. Is that doable? Absolutely. That’s less than my former daily goal of 3000 words per day.

But a story isn’t exactly 2,000 words. For example, the five I’ve written for the challenge thus far were 2485, 3213, 4329, 3174 and 2191 words. So I’m just sayin’, there’s not a real good chance I’m going to meet this goal and accomplish this challenge.

Still, I’m not quite ready to throw in the towel yet. To meet the goal and accomplish the challenge I have to write one story every day for the rest of the month PLUS seven stories. So for one week, I have to write two stories per day.

I finished my story for today AND created the cover and published it before noon. So I could easily write another story today, though I might not ’cause I might wimp out and watch football. (grin) Life happens, right? At least once a week.

But CAN I write two stories per day? Yep. As long as I think of them as “stories” instead of thinking of the number of words in them. It’s almost impossible to write 10,000 words in a day. It isn’t nearly as difficult to write two stories, both of which happen to be around 5,000 words long. (grin)

Now I do have a backup plan just in case I don’t reach my goal, and if I have to invoke it, I’ll even pay an appropriate penalty. But I’ll tell you about that if I don’t get 30 stories out on or before September 30.

Man, this is a lot of writing, isn’t it? But will it hurt me in any way, shape or form?

Uhhh NO.

At the end of this period of insanity I will have a LOT more short stories in my personal canon and (MUCH more imporantly) I will have jumpstarted my writing habit again.

You just can’t put a price on that.

My Current Challenge and Goal
Before October 1, I will write at least 30 new short stories, one for each day in September. To satisfy the challenge, these have to be actual short stories, meaning they have to be over 2,000 words. If I write anything shorter than that, it will count on my numbers but not toward the challenge. Stay tuned.

Today’s Writing
A pretty good day. I wrote “Desecration” and got a good start on “The Day They Came” which feels like it’s going to be science fiction. I should be able to finish it tomorrow and then write another one to go with it.

Fingers crossed. I need some two-story days. (grin)

Fiction Words: 3628

Writing of “Desecration” (short story)
Day 1…… 2191 words. Total words to date….. 2191 words (done)

Writing of “The Day They Came” (short story)
Day 1…… 1437 words. Total words to date….. 1437 words
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words (done)

One thing about these stories — I just have to write them. I don’t have to rush to slap a cover on them and publish them. All of that’s going to come later, although I will pick one each week to be the story for that week. At the end of the month if I’m successful in my challenge I should have 40 publications: 30 individual stories, six 5-story collections, three 10-story collections, and maybe one book titled The Stories of September.

Total challenge stories for the month…… 5 (Goal is 30)
Total challenge words for the month…… 16827
Total fiction words for the month………… 18417 (1590 on Wes)
Total fiction words for the year…………… 483458

The Journal, Saturday, 9/12

Up a little before 2 this morning. Writing before 3:30. A little delay this morning because I was (and am) tending to my kitten.

Yesterday, something outside scared her badly. She raced in, then through the house looking for a place to hide. For some reason she didn’t hide in her safe place under the bed. Instead she ran back into the kitchen, up on the counter, then up on the cabinets. The tops of those are nearly eight feet off the floor.

She was stuck there because there was no room to turn around. I ran back into my office to get a small chair so I could get her down, but by the time I got back she had already jumped to the tile floor. In the process she hurt her left hip. Now she’s having trouble even jumping from the floor up to my desk.

So I’m kind of watching over her this morning, babying her and so on.

I don’t think she broke anything, but either way she has to take some time to heal. But she’s very much a free spirit so I have to watch to make sure she doesn’t jump from too high up and keep irritating the injury.

For example, her food bowl is in a broad window alcove next to my desk, so it’s about 30″ off the floor. After she eats, she wants to jump straight to the hard floor, so I watch and redirect her to go off the front of my desk onto a chair, and then from there to the floor.

So I guess that’ll be the next few days.

This falls into the Life Happens category, and in this case, it takes precedence over everything else.

No walking again today. I don’t want to be out playing in the desert when my little girl decides to do something she isn’t up to right now.

After I filed this post yesterday I put together a cover for “Harold Nickel’s Last Dime.” In addition to writing today, I hope to get the formatting done on the two stories I’ve finished and on the one I will finish today.

Oh, just in case you’re wondering, I’m sticking to my one story a week goal too. Each story I post as the free story of the week was written during that week.

Update: Finished the last story, “Exotic,” at about 4:30. The cover fell into place and I published it to D2D. The numbers are below. Makes me feel like a real writer again.

Topic of the Post: Writing When You Can
Sometimes, like today, life intervenes in your writing time. In most cases, though, it doesn’t keep you from writing. Most of the time it merely adjusts the times that you write and the length of time during which you are able to write.

Some people (I am one of them) are fortunate in that they can slip into and out of the Alpha state of consciousness at will. Most people can, actually, though most people aren’t aware they have this ability.

But they do. Let me prove it. When you were in school taking a test, were you ever stuck for an answer even though it was right on the tip of your mind? Did you put your pencil to your lips and roll your eyes upward, as if the answers were written on the ceiling?

Yep, most of us did that. And most of the time, the answer “came to us,” just as we knew it would.
I’ll bet you do the same thing when you’re writing and you suddenly find yourself stuck for a particular word. You roll your eyes up or you stare off into space for a moment. And often as not, the word comes to you.

The physical act of rolling your eyes up triggers Alpha and accesses the subconscious. The physical act of staring off into space slows the electrical activity in the mind to Alpha rates as well.

And that’s why this technique works. Because we are accessing our subconscious mind by dropping into Alpha for a moment.

Okay, so why is the ability to slip into Alpha at will important? Because Alpha is the beginning stage of what we call the subconsicous. And the subconscious is MUCH better at telling stories than the conscious, critical mind.

So writing when you can — Most people, writers included, have more time available to them than they know. Most of the writing I get done today will be in ten minute to half-hour increments. If you write about a thousand words per hour (that’s only 17 words per minute), you can write about 170 words in ten minutes or 250 in a quarter-hour. Do that several times during the day (when you can) and the words will build up into the thousands. And the story will get finished.

So don’t worry about it. When you have a few minutes, sit down at the computer (where your story is already up on the screen) and just have fun. Immerse yourself for a few minutes or a half-hour or an hour in the sheer joy of running through the scene with your characters, writing down what they say and do.

Which is where I’m going right now.

My Current Challenge and Goal
Before October 1, I will write at least 30 new short stories, one for each day in September. To satisfy the challenge, these have to be actual short stories, meaning they have to be over 2,000 words. If I write anything shorter than that, it will count on my numbers but not toward the challenge. Stay tuned.

Today’s Writing
Writing around the kitten was a challenge in itself, but one I gladly performed. I’d have been pleased with any amount of writing today, so it all turned out really well. Super well. And all of it was writing in small increments. I hope in another day or two she’ll be back to her version of normal and we can both get back to our usual roles.

Fiction Words: 4531

Writing of “The Old Jenkins Place” (short story)
Day 1…… 1856 words. Total words to date….. 1856 words
Day 2…… 1357 words. Total words to date….. 3213 words (done)

Writing of “Exotic” (short story)
Day 1…… 3174 words. Total words to date….. 3174 words (done)

One thing about these stories — I just have to write them. I don’t have to rush to slap a cover on them and publish them. All of that’s going to come later, although I will pick one each week to be the story for that week. At the end of the month if I’m successful in my challenge I should have 40 publications: 30 individual stories, six 5-story collections, three 10-story collections, and maybe one book titled The Stories of September.

Total challenge stories for the month…… 4 (Goal is 30)
Total challenge words for the month…… 13199
Total fiction words for the month………… 14789 (1590 on Wes)
Total fiction words for the year…………… 479830

The Journal, Friday, 9/11: Going On the Cheap

Up right at 2 this morning. Again, by 3 a.m. I was writing. That’ll work. The retraining continues. I’m noticing I seem to have less self-discipline the older I get. Is that how it’s supposed to work?

No walking today. With over 7 miles two days ago and almost 6 miles yesterday, I’m taking a day off from walking.

Okay, got a lot of writing done today as well as a cover for “Finding Harold.” It will be the story of the week for next Monday.

That’s really about all that happened today. Since the topic is so long, I’ll curtail the rest of this.

Topic of the Post: Going on the Cheap
Don’t do it. There. End of lecture.

If you’re a writer and if you’re serious about your work and if you want others to take you seriously, invest in your product (your writing, your cover, your book).

You can invest the time to educate yourself and the money in professional programs so you can create your own eformatting and print layout and ebook and print covers OR you can invest money in paying professionals to do those things for you.

What brought this up?

I recently was privy to see a complete and utter piece of literary garbage that was (from the front matter of the book) “printed with the Espresso Book Machine at The University of Arizona Main Library.” I kid you not.

I can’t say whether the author believes his book has now been published by the U of A (it hasn’t) or what. Maybe he uses the service because it’s free. I don’t know. What the “Espresso Book Machine” turned out was so terrible, I won’t even do the few minutes’ research to find out what it costs, whether it’s free, or anything else about it.

What I will tell you is this: Garbage in, garbage out. Even if your writing is excellent, if the formatting of the document you feed into the maching looks like garbage, what you get back will look like garbage.

Here’s my brief review. Remember, this is all formatting stuff, stuff that could EASILY be fixed if the person who formatted it had only cared enough about his final product to take his time.

The Table of Contents — The title of this page (Table of Contents) was in the same font, same size, and same attribute (normal, not bold, etc.) as the listing below it. Capitalization of titles varied within the TOC and from TOC to actual story. The TOC itself was hokey. First was the title of the story, then a space, then the word page (yes, lowercase) and then a span of pages, for example 3-16.

Overall Layout of the Book — The inside front cover (apparently) was the only title page. The title was at the top, the author’s name was near the bottom, and a page number was at the center bottom. (The title page should not be numbered.) There was no publishing information on the title page. (Usually the publishing company name and city is displayed there.)

The next page was the copyright page. It stated the year of copyright, but failed to mention in whose name the book is copyrighted. Seriously? The formatter skipped a line and inserted a dedication. Skipped another line and inserted permission for teachers to reprint parts for classroom use. (Yeah, that’s gonna happen.) Skipped one more line and added a simple disclaimer. Then skipped a few lines and inserted a brief paragraph blaming the Espresso Book Machine for this travesty, although that isn’t how they put it. Oh, and lest we forget, the copyright page is numbered page 2.

Page 3 is the previously discussed TOC, and the first story began on page 4, a recto. Later in the book, some stories began on the verso (left page of an open book, as they should) and some on the recto (right page of an open book).

Finally, on most pages the text began at the top of the page, but on some it began one or two lines down. The same spacing discrepancy appeared at the bottom of many pages.

Titles of the Stories — The titles of the stories were the same font, font size and font attribute as the body of the stories. (Usually the title is bold attribute and/or a larger font size.)

As I mentioned in the section on the TOC above, the titles of the stories varied with regards to capitalization.

The position of the titles at the top of the page also varied. Some were left justified and some were centered.

Apparently no standard was applied. The key for good and efficient formatting is standards. They can be your own, but you have to have them, and you have to apply them evenly throughout the work.

The Body of the Stories — The body of the first story was double-spaced with no extra spacing between paragraphs and with the first line of paragraphs indented. It would have been perfect if it were single-spaced. (Remember, this is for a print book.)

Hyphenation obviously was not turned on. As a result the text is broken with rivers of wide white space running diagonally through the text.

All of that is from page 4 (beginning of the story) through the first full paragraph on page 8. After that there was an extra space between that paragraph and the next. Then it returned to no spacing after paragraphs until page 13, where the anomaly happened again.

Then it continued normally again until page 17 where the anomaly occurred twice in a row. The story ended suddenly without any sort of signifier such as “The End” or a series of asterisks or “Go Away.”

The second story was formatted differently. It was left justified, single spaced, with a space after each paragraph, and without first-line indents. Great for a blog post. Pretty good even for some nonfiction print applications. Not so much for a story in a collection of short fiction.

The third story was formatted the same as the second, except in some places it looked as if there was no space between two paragraphs.

The next several stories were formatted the same as the second and third, with no first-line indent, block paragraphs, left justified, and a space between paragraphs. Except sometimes there were two spaces between paragraphs.

This truly was an ugly, ugly book.

Now again, to be fair, the Expresso Book Machine is ONLY a machine. It was not at fault for this piece of literary garbáge. Whoever formatted the Word file for the author was at fault. The author should fire whoever laid out this travesty, immediately and with prejudice. Even if it was the author himself. Or maybe especially if it was the author himself.

Do you understand? If you put out a piece of garbage like this, it won’t matter how good the writing is because the reader won’t get that far.

So as I wrote at the outset, when it comes to downgrading your own work by going on the cheap, don’t do it. There. End of lecture. Again.

My Current Challenge and Goal
Before October 1, I will write at least 30 new short stories, one for each day in September.
To satisfy the challenge, these have to be actual short stories, meaning they have to be over 2,000 words. If I write anything shorter than that, it will count on my numbers but not toward the challenge.
Stay tuned.

Today’s Writing
Finished the Harold Nickel story, then got a good start on another one, so I’m a happy camper.
Fiction Words: 3858

Writing of “Harold Nickel’s Last Dime” (short story)
Day 1…… 2327 words. Total words to date….. 2327 words
Day 2…… 2002 words. Total words to date….. 4329 words (done)

Writing of “The Old Jenkins Place” (short story)
Day 1…… 1856 words. Total words to date….. 1856 words
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words (done)

One thing about these stories — I just have to write them. I don’t have to rush to slap a cover on them and publish them. All of that’s going to come later, although I will pick one each week to be the story for that week. At the end of the month if I’m successful in my challenge I should have 40 publications: 30 individual stories, six 5-story collections, three 10-story collections, and maybe one book titled The Stories of September.

Total challenge stories for the month…… 2 (Goal is 30)
Total challenge words for the month…… 8668
Total fiction words for the month………… 10258 (1590 on Wes)
Total fiction words for the year…………… 475299