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

When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

Hi Folks,

For well over a year (as I write this, May 2015), I’ve been practicing pushing down my conscious, critical mind and the fear it brings to the table. Yet this morning as I was going through my morning wake-up ritual, fear flooded over me.

This morning it’s back to the writing.

I have at least one more prequel to write (it will be book 3 in the Wes Crowley series) and I’ve already started the first sequel (The Marshal of Agua Perlado).

I also have to write the short story of the week sometime in the next few days or break the streak I’ve had going since April 15 of last year.

So no lack of writing opportunities. No lack of ideas.

But I was overwhelmed. What I’m I gonna write first?

Well, I can’t write all of them at once, so I have to pick one.

I can hammer out a good short story in only a few hours. But I want to get the siphon going on a novel again, so I need to write one of those.

And that’s when the fear hit, in the form of feeling overwhelmed.

Despite the fact that my next novel will be my sixth, and despite the fact that all of those have come since October 25, 2014, a sense of feeling overwhelmed washed over me.

What am I thinking? I can’t write a novel! It’s too much! It’s too big! It’s too many words!

Know what? That’s true. I can’t write a novel.

But I can write a sentence.

I can write a great line of dialogue or descriptive narrative to pull my reader into the story. I can write another sentence, and another. I can write a scene.

There’s an old saying: How do you eat an elephant? The answer? One bite at a time.

I can’t write a novel, but I can write a scene.

I can’t write 40,000 or 50,000 or 60,000 words, but I can write 1,000 words per hour. I can write three or four hours per day.

And I can tell a story.

Some stories are short and are accomplished in only a few thousand words. And some stories keep going until you look up 30 days later and you’ve written a story of several tens of thousands of words. That story would be a novel.

And I know it can happen because it already has.

In the overall story of Wes Crowley and friends, in five novels, I’ve written 225,252 published words of fiction.

How? By not allowing myself to feel overwhelmed. By pushing down my conscious, critical mind and the overwhelming feeling that I can’t possibly write a novel. I just recognize and admit that I can’t.

And then?

I write the next sentence. Then I write the next sentence. Then I write the next sentence.

Happy writing,
Harvey

Beats All You Ever Saw

A little after 11 p.m. the dingy brown steel door of The Rainbow Room exploded outward. It slapped the yellow concrete block wall behind it as Jesse Rickman came through head first and air borne.

He landed on his face just short of where that little tar strip was oozed up. You know, between that big square concrete slab in front of the door and the asphalt of the parking lot. Then he bounced a little, like on wrestling on TV. Only in wrestling they ain’t landing on concrete, though they do wince like they are.

Well, the light above the door stopped about halfway out that concrete square. Jesse finally came to rest in the dark just past that. And his head was just shy of where the red light from the neon Rainbow Room sign lit the asphalt.

Anyway, an instant after Jesse hit the pavement, Ray Dickie came stomping through the door on his own two feet. He looked pretty imposing with his Bull Durham ball cap, his brown hair stringing down over his shoulders and his full, bushy beard.

His shoulders and chest bulged under the regular white t-shirt that was tucked into his greasy jeans. His cheeks were rounded and red up under his eyes like he’d seen a little exertion. His hands were balled into fists at his sides, and he was cussing a blue streak a mile wide and thicker than Texas.

Only he stopped for a second with the light of the door behind him, and he about blocked it. I mean, Ray ain’t no little guy. Rumor had it, back in the day he tried out to play defensive tackle for the Rams, only he was too big.

‘Course Jesse ain’t no little guy either at around 6’2” and north of 200 pounds, but he ain’t measuring up to Ray Dickie. Not in any good kind of way.

Well, with Jesse kind’a hidden in the dark down there on the asphalt, when Ray stopped he jerked his head right, then left. Like maybe he thought Jesse found his feet and run off.

But no such luck. You know, on Jesse’s part.

Still, all Ray could catch a glimpse of at first was me and Jackson. And then there were several others to the left and right of Ray himself. They came out when he followed Jesse’s hurled body through the door. Now they were bunched up on either side of it, six in one group and five in the other.

Me and Jackson were out front of Jesse. That’s on account of we’d just got out of Jackson’s ’48 F150 pickup and were heading in for a drink when that door blew open.

I figure Ray prob’ly saw us first, though prob’ly through an alcohol haze. But first or last, I was glad he saw us at all and counted us as no threat, ‘cause we weren’t.

Anyway, after he looked right and left, Ray finally looked down and caught sight of Jesse.

Jesse was just pushing himself up from the asphalt and shaking his head, hard, like he was clearing cobwebs. Now they got time for stuff like that on wrestling, on account of it’s all put on and the cobwebs are all fake anyway. But even with real cobwebs, Jesse should’a been in a bigger hurry than that. I know I would’a been. He could clear out the cobwebs some other day.

Anyway, as he pushed himself up I got a good look at his face, only I had to stoop over a little.

The right side of his face was scratched and raked, and his whole forehead was one big cherry from sliding along the concrete before he got to the asphalt. There was some blood mixed into the front of his pretty long blond hair too, like he’d been scalped. There were a few black tarry pebbles stuck in his right cheek, and two above his right eyebrow.

Anyway, he got his elbows under him, with his forearms still on the ground from there up to his wrists. So he was leaning kind’a up from the waist with his shoulders and head in the air and pointed in a particular direction. So kind’a like one’a them lizards doing pushups on a rock out in the desert, if you’ve ever seen that.

Now right there, see, if I was Jesse, that’s when I’d’a been digging the toes of my work boots into that concrete, getting me some leverage to sprint myself outta there. I’d’a made good time, too. Bet on it.

But not Jesse. Right there he paused again to shake his head. That was like on wrestling too, come to think of it, only on wrestling it’s all fake like I said.

Anyway that was probably his second mistake. You know, the first being whatever he’d done or said that caused Ray to use him as a battering ram.

Anyway, when he caught sight of Jesse, Ray stretched his lips wide open side to side in the evilest grin I ever saw. “Heh,” he said, and then he lumbered forward, only like he was in a hurry. He went back to cussing, too, only there were a lot of “c’meres” and “I’m’a gonna kill yews” mixed in.

Well, when he drew up along Jesse’s left side, he crooked his right elbow up like those wrestlers do on TV. Then he did a little leap, turned his butt toward Jesse and crashed down on him.

Jesse had just enough air to grunt, and that’s about all the noise we heard on the other side of Ray’s cussing. That and a few “oohs” from the crowd on either side of the door.

About the time Ray’s butt hit Jesse’s back, his elbow took Jesse in the back of the head and reacquainted his face with the asphalt. Only on the left side of his face this time. At least the two side’s’d match, if you could call that a good thing.

Well, about the time that grunt squished out of Jesse, Ray got off him and crabbed around in front. He grabbed Jesse’s hair on both sides and reared up on his knees.

That pulled Jesse’s head up about where it was before Ray landed on him, only now Jesse’s arms were just kind’a hanging there.

I believe Jesse was out cold.

That’s about the time through the top of my eyes I saw a little short shadow slip out through the door with an attachment sticking up and to the right.

2

For a second, I guess the shadow and its attachment was more interesting than what was about to happen to Jesse, so I looked up.

The shadow was Miguel “Mickey” Muñoz, the guy who runs the place. The attachment was his sawed-off Remington 870 shotgun.

Which he wasted no time in cocking.

Now racking a shell into a magazine-fed Remington shotgun makes a particular sound that’s hard to ignore. And plus, just as Muñoz pumped a shell into the chamber, he yelled, “Ray!”

Ray stopped, only Jesse’s hair was still twisted up in his fists just above Jesse’s ears on both sides. But Ray looked up at Muñoz and said, “Huh?”

Now I couldn’t see his face, but I’m betting Aunt Hattie’s gold teeth he was frowning.

So then Muñoz said, “Whatchu doing, Ray?” He dipped the barrel of that shotgun toward the ground a couple’a times. “Put that guy’s head down and come over here.”

Ray looked down at Jesse’s head like he’d just noticed it was there. Then he looked up at Muñoz again. Then he shrugged, straightened up on his knees and kind’a shoved Jesse’s head away from him.

It hit the asphalt with a dulled thwack, then rolled onto its left cheek.

Ray looked at Muñoz again and his ears raised a little, like maybe he was grinning. “Like that?”

Muñoz nodded. “That’ll do. Now come on over here.”

Ray looked down at Jesse again, then pursed his lips and squeezed out some spit. Prob’ly he was trying to get it to land in Jesse’s right ear. I couldn’t quite see if he hit the mark, but I did see that a lot of it was still stringing across Ray’s beard.

Anyway, Ray pulled his right foot up under him, then grabbed his right knee with both hands and pushed himself up. He overbalanced and teetered a little, and me and Jackson took a couple steps backward. Trust me, you don’t want Ray Dickie landing on you.

Then Ray kind’a leaned to the front and off he went to see what Muñoz wanted. Six shuffling steps into it, he stopped and said, “Whut?”

Muñoz pointed toward Jesse with the shotgun. “Wha’d he do? Run off on a tab?”

Ray looked back toward Jesse, then shook his head. “Nuh uh.”

Muñoz frowned. “Did he ask your girl to dance? Rosemary ain’t here tonight, is she?”

“Nuh uh.”

“So what then?”

Behind Ray, Jesse had his head up again, though only half as far as the first time. He shook it again.

Ray frowned at Muñoz. “You said.”

Even in the dim red light reflecting from a distance off the asphalt on Muñoz’ face, I saw his forehead wrinkle. “What? Whaddya mean, I said? I said what?”

Meanwhile, Jesse slowly pulled himself up to his knees. The top of his khaki button-down shirt was hanging open down to his belly and the top four buttons were gone. He only had one shirt pocket, on the left breast, and it was hanging by half of itself. Only the back of the tail was still tucked into his jeans. His black belt and the silver pass-through buckle were both scarred by the concrete.

He shook his head again. Then, before I got a chance to look him over good, he sucked in some breath and jerked his head around to look over his shoulder right quick. Like he’d stuck a fork in an outlet, or maybe like he could feel Ray’s breath or something.

Only Ray was still back there with Muñoz.

Jesse turned to us again and raised one hand to wipe something off his head. I guess Ray got him after all. He looked at his palm, wiped whatever was there on the back pocket of his jeans, then looked up at me and Jackson.

The left side of his face was covered in generally the same manner as the right, plus there were a few pebbles stuck to the side of his neck. That must’a happened when Ray landed on his back. Otherwise he wouldn’a been that flat.

Still looking at Jesse, both me and Jackson, like we were synchronized or something, jerked our heads to the left a little bit. You know, telling Jesse to git while the gitting was good. I mean, we didn’t say anything out loud—not with Ray standing right over there—but Jesse got it.

Moving real easy, he put his fingertips on the ground and pushed himself up to his feet. Then he looked back at Ray again and started tiptoeing off to his right.

Meanwhile, Ray focused his full attention on Muñoz and that Remington. He slipped his thumbs into the front pockets of his jeans, then shifted his weight from his right foot to his left. I swear I thought he was gonna say, “Aw shucks” or something like that.

But real quiet, and kind’a whining—me and Jackson could still hear him, but just barely—he said, “You know, Mickey. What you said.”

And just then me and Jackson heard cars pulling into the parking lot behind us. At first we twisted our necks around to look, but then we turned on around.

Not that we’d lost interest in Ray and Muñoz, but there are things you don’t turn your back on.

It was those two homicide dicks, Valentino and Galecki. Cops.

Only they came in different cars. That was different.

Valentino swung his car into a spot first, and then Galecki pulled his in on the passenger side of Valentino’s.

For a second I thought it was just really good timing, what with Jesse and Ray and then Muñoz with that shotgun.

Except Valentino and Galecki work homicide and there wasn’t anybody dead here. Or any dead body here. You know.

Then I remembered on the other side of The Rainbow Room was Mickey’s Place, the cops’ hangout. So they were probably off duty. Probably they were glad there weren’t any bodies anywhere.

3

When he first got out of his car, Valentino put his left hand on the roof and glanced over at Jesse, who was halfway across the parking lot by then and still limping away.

The left side of Valentino’s grey, off-the-rack suit hung open. His heater dangled upside down in its holster at his left side. He watched Jesse for a minute, then closed his door and turned toward us.

Galecki did the same thing, complete with watching for a moment as Jesse limped along, only at his car.

His suit was a copy of Valentino’s. Only the fedoras were different. Galecki’s was dark brown and Valentino’s was grey. Trust an Italian to match his hat to his clothes. Still, they were both fedoras.

The cars were the same too.

Both Ford Crown Vics, both in a plain white wrapper.

Both unmarked, like that made a difference. Hey, if it’s a Crown Vic, chances are the filling is a cop.

As they walked toward me and Jackson, I nodded amicably. “Detectives.”

Bigs Valentino glanced past me for a second, checking out Muñoz and Ray, then directly at me. The guy’s got the most intense eyes I’ve ever seen. There’s never any doubt who he’s talking to. The only mystery is how deep he’s going into your brain. “Pilfer,” he said. “What’s going on?”

He calls me Pilfer on account of I could generally lay hands on whatever you might need whenever you might need it. Even information. You know, back in the day. In exchange for monetary consideration.

Me and Bigs kind’a used to be partners that way, him needing and me providing. I don’t know Galecki, though I’ve seen him around. I heard he’s a good guy though. And he’s hanging with Bigs, so he can’t be all bad. Maybe.

I shrugged. “Oh, nothing, Bigs. Nothing. Me and Jackson, we were just taking some night air before we go inside.”

Galecki said, “So you haven’t been inside yet?”

While I was busy with Galecki, Bigs glanced past me again. He seemed to be sizing things up.

Jackson said, “Wull, yeah, but—”

I looked at Galecki. “No, not here.” I looked at Jackson. “He means here, man.” Then I looked at Galecki again. “We just got here a few minutes ahead of you guys. You gotta forgive Jackson. He gets nervous.”

Galecki looked at Jackson, then at me. Prob’ly trying to decide what to believe. Then, like he really didn’t want to be involved, he shrugged and looked around, kind’a stretching his neck. Only he avoided looking straight at Muñoz and Ray. Finally he said, “Yeah, well, you know—nice night for it.”

Bigs apparently decided Muñoz was in control of whatever was happening behind us. He grinned that direction once and tipped his head just the slightest bit. Then he glanced at me. “Hey, you boys have a good night.”

Then the two dicks stepped around us and started toward the front corner of the place over on the right. The front entrance for Mickey’s Place was around that corner, about twenty feet down.

I turned around to see what Muñoz and Ray were doing.

Only they weren’t there. They and their entourage had gone inside. The entourage itself prob’ly disappeared when me and Jackson first turned around to face the cops. I tugged on Jackson’s sleeve and started toward the door of The Rainbow Room. “C’mon,” I said. “I wanna see what Muñoz told Ray that caused him to beat the crap outta Jesse.”

Jackson wagged one hand. “As if. By now it’s all history, I’m sure.”

We got to the door about the time Bigs and Galecki reached the front corner of the building.

4

I reached down, worked the brass latch with my thumb and pulled on the big door handle, then swung it open.

Even before we went in, the pounding beat, beat, beat of some kind’a progressive rock stomped through the door at us. Some would-be singer was yelping at the top of his lungs over and between the beats. And that was on a sound system or a radio or something. Maybe we could get them to turn it down.

There’d be a live band on Friday and Saturday nights, maybe. If someone wanted to play, and if Muñoz wanted to hire them.

The sound was accompanied by a mixture of smells—mostly alcohol, vague body odor and smoke—maybe with a little hint of perfume swirled in.

Inside, the smells were stronger. The place was dimly lighted, too, and hazy with the grey stench of cigarette smoke. And maybe there was some other smoke too. Seemed to be a little eau de marijuana mixed into it here and there.

As for the lighting, other than the few lights above the bar, there were maybe ten lights in the ceiling, and they were recessed. Plus some were kind of an orange yellow and some were red.

There was a slightly raised bandstand in the far corner on the left. It was Tuesday, so there was a set of drums and a couple’a empty mike stands on it, but nothing else. And it was dark. It had its own lights, I guess, when there was a band.

There was a dance floor on the near side of the bandstand, then thirty or so cheap wooden tables with their chairs. Most of the tables had at least a couple’a people seated at them, all tainted by the orange-yellow and red lights. They were all talking among themselves, leaning toward each other to be heard underneath the music.

And then the bar stretched the length of the wall to the right. Like I say, it was the only part of the place that was pretty well lighted. And then there were a couple’a short fluorescents over the whiskey and wine bottles on the shelf under the mirror behind the bar. There were several people at the bar. Most were on barstools, most minding their own business, their elbows on the bar and their shoulders hunched around their own problems.

To the right of the door, a new bouncer had taken Ray’s place.

It was Blay Mercer—the Blay is short for Blaylock, I’m not jokin’—in all his camouflage glory. He was never in the military, but he wanted to be I guess. He was perched up on a barstool he’d dragged over from the end of the bar. The heels of his worn black combat boots were hooked over the chrome rail that ran around the base of it about a foot off the floor.

His blue eyes filled his coke-bottle glasses as he peered at us from beneath a camouflage boonie hat. His kinky dark brown hair supported it with tight curls. “Hey guys,” he said, his head bopping to the beats of the music.

“Hey,” Jackson said as we moved past. No live band, no cover, no need to stop.

We headed for a couple barstools at the near end of the bar, one on each side of the corner where it turned to run back to the wall.

Jackson took the barstool at the corner on the long side of the bar.

I moved past the corner and aimed my butt at the first barstool on that side. There were only two barstools behind me, and both were vacant. Beyond that was the door that connected The Rainbow Room to the more conservative Mickey’s Place.

I liked that barstool. I could see most of the room from there. I looked forward to maybe spotting Muñoz and asking him about what happened earlier.

As I sat down and swiveled the barstool to face the tables, I looked at Jackson. “So, you gonna get your usual?”

He nodded.

I thought Muñoz would be behind the bar, but he wasn’t.

The bartender on duty was Josh Dermin, an old guy who was basically a chunk of conservative flesh.

He wore a white t-shirt over khaki trousers and black oxfords. The guy was bald, save for a quarter-inch stubble of white hair in the center of the top of his head. The rest of his hair was also a quarter-inch long. It formed a white horseshoe from his left temple around the back of his head to his right temple. It also extended down the back of his neck.

He’s one of those guys who shaved down to the neckline of his t-shirt. When he bent and moved his shoulders just right over the rinsing sinks, the front or back of his t-shirt would bulge open a bit to expose some of the hair he didn’t bother shaving. That was on his chest and back. And probably his shoulders.

I rapped on the bar with my knuckles just as a man about halfway along the bar said, “See you next time, Josh.”

The man slipped off his barstool as Dermin raised his left hand toward me to let me know he’d heard me.

Dermin watched, wiping his hands on his bar towel from force of habit, as the man leaned down to look at the ticket containing his tab. Then he leaned forward and said something to the guy, but I couldn’t hear it.

The guy laughed and said, “Good one.” Then he straightened, fished several bills out of his pocket and laid them on top of the ticket. “Keep it.”

Dermin grinned and raised a hand as the man turned away. “Thanks, Bob.” Then he picked up the ticket and the bills, turned and opened the cash register.

My mouth watered. Soon after Dermin got the money put away and dropped his tip into his pocket, I’d get my first taste of the day of a Beam and Coke.

I always ordered Beam and Coke for the first one. After that I just took whatever was in the well with Coke. I’m a good friend to Jim Beam, but after the first one it all tastes about the same anyway.

And I might as well order for Jackson too. A salty dog in an old-fashioned glass.

Dermin straightened and shoved the register closed as he flopped his bar towel over his left shoulder. The ding of the register sounded just as Ray Dickie came around the far end of the bar.

Behind him was Mickey Muñoz.

5

 I focused on Josh Dermin.

As he turned away from the cash register, I raised my right hand and smiled. “Hey, Josh. Just bring me a—”

“Hey, you can’t bring that in here!” It was Blay Mercer.

“You can’t stop me! Where is he?”

Mercer again, yelling. “Hey! I said—”

Then noise of a struggle came from behind me. Somebody hitting the floor.

Me and Jackson both twisted around at the same time.

Blay Mercer was lying on top of someone on the floor, struggling, and four hands were extended toward me.

No, four fists. And something else. Like a small pipe.

Mercer shifted and there was a flash of blond hair.

With blood in it.

As he was getting up, Jackson pointed and yelled, “Jesse! That’s Jesse Rickman! And he’s got a—”

The explosion was tremendous in the enclosed space.

Behind me people were screaming, chairs were falling over, tables were scraping on the floor.

I seemed glued to the barstool. I swiveled back around to look at the tables.

The bartender had disappeared.

I felt myself frown. What’s all the screaming about?

As I was turning back to see where Jackson had gone—

How did he get off his barstool? Mine seemed stuck.

He had taken a step and stopped. He turned his head to look at me. “Jim?”

His face looked weird.

“What?” I said. Then I looked down.

Both hands were over his gut. Blood was pumping out through his fingers.

He frowned at me, then bent double and fell.

It took all my effort to turn my head back toward the bar.

Where’s Mickey and his shotgun?

Mickey was right behind Ray Dickie, being shoved along by Dickie’s backward progress.

Dickie was backing up, his hands up in front of his chest like a shield.

So he was okay. He was going the right way.

I twisted, agonizingly slowly, to look back at Mercer and Rickman, still tangled up on the floor. Just like wrestling on TV. Only that’s all fake.

Behind me, the door exploded open and slapped the wall.

A thunderous, “Where’s the gun?” came from a million miles away and right behind my left shoulder.

Bigs! That was Jimmy Bigs Valentino!

I started raising my right hand to point. “Over th—”

Another explosion, and I watched as a flame shot out directly toward me.

Why me?

But something zinged off something. The seat on Jackson’s barstool spun like it was gonna take off. Somewhere behind me somebody grunted hard. Somebody fell down.

Then another explosion right inside my left ear and a red spot formed on top of Rickman’s head. His back kind of bulged and the hole started pouring blood.

Mercer jerked his arms back and screamed, his arms still flailing as he seemed to levitate up off Jesse Rickman. He landed on his feet and backpedaled ‘til his butt hit his barstool. His glasses flew up and off as he and the barstool went down together. He was on his back on the other side of it, still screaming.

There was something long and dark next to my left eye.

I turned my eyes, then my head.

It was Valentino’s arm. His right arm. His left was on the other side of it, both extended, his pistol out front in his hand.

It must be his right hand. The holster was on the left earlier. He must be right handed.

He moved past me, swung around the corner of the bar.

A hand on my left shoulder, squeezing. “You okay?”

I looked up and to the left. “Huh?”

It was the other guy. Galecki.

“You hit or are you all right?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m okay.”

He moved past me and past the corner of the bar.

Valentino yelled to somebody to call for an ambulance.

Galecki was saying nobody could leave until things were sorted out.

I finally managed to get turned around.

People were picking up chairs, straightening tables, sitting, talking.

I leaned forward, my elbows on the bar, my fingers gripping the inside edge of it.

Dermin was there, standing by the cash register, the phone in his hand.

Was he there all along? Maybe he blended into the cash register.

Valentino was on one knee, saying to Ray Dickie everything was going to be fine.

Galecki was talking quietly to the folks at the nearest table.

The music wasn’t playing. It had stopped sometime or other.

Where was Mickey? I really wanted to talk with Mickey Muñoz but he was gone.

Maybe back in his office. I’d really like to see him, talk to him. I’d like to ask him, you know.

Hey Mickey, what’d you say to set Ray Dickie off?

* * * * * * *

 

The Journal, Monday, 4/17

Hey Folks,

All right. Fourteen days left in the month, inclusive. If I’m gonna meet my monthly goal of writing at least one novel per month and my annual goal of writing at least 15 on the year, I have to get hot. (grin)

By the way, that “get hot” thing isn’t pressure. For me, it’s a realizaton and good news.

And writing a short story or two along the way wouldn’t kill me either. (Donors, they’re coming.) Man, I just wanna play.

* * *

I’ve been screwing around each morning for awhile now, just kind of hanging around the house, not going to “work” in the Hovel until daylight (around 6:30).

I kind’a have to do that because I let the other babies out at 5. Afterward, they want to go outside, and I don’t allow them out while it’s still dark without me being at my outside desk near the house.

This morning I thought about heading out early. But instead, I think I’ll try writing fiction on my business computer. Then when I’m ready to go to the Hovel (after sunrise) I’ll put what I’ve done on a flash drive and carry it out there.

Probaby I’ll start that tomorrow morning. As I write this, I’ve already been up for three hours and the sky is growing light.

Either way, I’m hoping this will be a great day of writing.

At this point I don’t even really care what I write. I only care THAT I write. Being away from it for even a few days is driving me nuts. And yeah, that’s a pretty short drive for me.

Topic: A Bit More on Goals, and Elephants

On Dean’s post from yesterday (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-fifteen-halfway-through-the-challenge/), another commenter (Mike Lawrence) asked DWS whether he was writing his current short stories “in public.” In other words, is there someplace he can go to view them now.

He isn’t. He’s writing them to compile a “month of April” story collection as well as to fill the pages of Smith’s Monthly, his magazine.

I responded to the comment as well with a lesson I learned back when I was writing a short story every week. My streak reached 70 weeks before I broke it, pretty much intentionally.

With the advantage of hindsight, though, I’ve come to understand that I broke my own streak (again, intentionally) because of pressure I put on myself.

Because I was posting those stories “live” in the same week I wrote them, eventually the pressure of having to post one every week ate my goal and the streak.

In other words, posting a new story every week became more important to me than just writing the story in the first place.

So it wasn’t fun anymore. The pressure of “having” to post a story each week sucked all the fun out of writing them. And that is what killed the streak.

As I wrote in my comment

I tried later to “restart” another one-a-week story [streak], but it never got off the ground because I couldn’t shake the elephant out of my head. I was writing [the stories] one at a time, but I could never shake the sense that I had to do that for at least 71 weeks to surpass what I’d already done.

So again, no fun. All pressure. And what I hoped would be a new streak never got off the ground.

So consider this topic a cautionary tip.

The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. If you look up and realize you’re trying to eat the whole elephant, eating it suddenly becomes an impossibiliity.

Setting an overall (large) goal that you can attain if you reach is a great practice.

But it’s important that you break that overall goal into smaller goals that are still attainable within tighter timelines.

Meeting those smaller goals creates the streak (an accomplishment), which in turn feeds your self-esteem and the larger, overall goal.

But don’t pressure yourself with something silly like I did.

Or look at it like this:

Letting someone into your story (short or long) will often kill the story.

For that reason, I never let anyone into my work before it’s finished.

But by posting a story a week “live,” I was allowing those who subscribed to my Free Story of the Week into my streak without realizing it. And so it died.

As I also mentioned in my comment on DWS’ site, I probably will attempt to write one short story per day for a month some time.

But when I do, I’ll publish them individually and in collections (six 5-story, three 10-story, and one 30- or 31-story). I probably will “leak” some of them to my donors, but I definitely won’t write them “in public.”

I won’t risk it.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 2 again, but I sacked out a little early last night. It’s all good.

I read newsletters, wrote the stuff above and in “Of Interest,” and played on FB to start the day.

Well, a little under 3000 words on the day, but it was still a great day. I finished a short story and wrote some extremely terse scenes. Total score!

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Story Sixteen and Still Going” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-sixteen-and-still-going/.

If you’re interested in the Strengths Workshops, they’re all up and he’s offering a special deal: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/strengths-workshops-available/.

If you enjoy great Cajun humor, check out https://www.facebook.com/LelandAndBo/videos/239439739744449/.

Fiction Words: 2977
Nonfiction Words: 890 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3867

Writing of “Beats All” (short story)

Day 1…… 1743 words. Total words to date…… 1743
Day 2…… 2977 words. Total words to date…… 4720 (done)

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…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 17290
Total fiction words for the year………… 225846
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8900
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 66240

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 292086

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 510 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels

The Journal, Sunday, 4/16

Hey Folks,

A few days ago I mentioned here that all the coyotes and other predators seem to have left the area.

A day after I wrote that, the owls were back and I had a scare. This morning, the coyotes are back.

Well now, isn’t that the way it always works? (grin)

From around 4 a.m. I was serenaded for almost an hour straight by song dogs. No owls as yet, but I’m sure they’re lurking out there somewhere.

But it’s Easter, a day that always reminds me of the incredible gifts I receive pretty much every hour of every day. I only need to be aware of them.

For example, unlike human predators, the 4-legs and feathered in the rest of nature always seem to give warning when they’re in the vicinity. That’s a gift.

And those warnings get my blood pumping with regard to keeping my little girl safe. Another gift.

Whatever significance Easter holds for you, I hope today was a good day in your world.

* * *

The plan for today was to write and read. We’ll see how that turns out. It’s Sunday and it’s Easter, so probably a family day.

Guess maybe I’ll get some reading done later today or tonight. No writing. Been kind of keeping myself available in case anyone wants to do anything.

I’m gonna post this, then go back to taking more pictures or something.

I guarantee you, barring a plane landing on my house tonight, I’ll be back to full speed tomorrow.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out around 2:20, a little earlier than my preferred norm. (The baby slept-in until 4.)

Mona and I went to the store early (around 8), then home to put things away. Then the day just kind of unfolded. Very lazily. Took a lot of pics, put them on FB, but did very little else.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Via The Passive Voice “Six novelists reveal how to self-publish successfully” at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-4401186/Independent-novelists-self-publish-successfully.html.

At Dean’s today, “Story Fifteen… Halfway Through the Challenge” http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-fifteen-halfway-through-the-challenge/.

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

Writing of “Beats All” (probably a short story)

Day 1…… 1743 words. Total words to date…… 1743
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

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…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 14313
Total fiction words for the year………… 222869
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8010
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 65350

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 288219

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 509 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels

The Journal, Saturday, 4/15

Hey Folks,

Well, it’s Saturday. A short post today.

As it stands, I’ve watered the yard, and I’m planning to take a drive and a hike to see some petroglyphs with my wife and Bryan.

In the afternoon, I’ll either return to one of my WIPs or read. No pressure, no worries.

I’m not stuck on either story. Just relaxing my way through the past couple of days, making other things and people priorities. Kind of a minor life roll. So it’s all good.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3, but after a good night’s sleep this time.

Around 10, went to hike to the petroglyphs near Millville (ghost town) AZ, west of Tombstone. Got some good pics. Had a good hike.

Back here around noon to make burgers for lunch, then posted some pics on FB. Helped my wife rearrange some things in the house, then went outside and sat with a good cigar, took some more pics, plastered them all over FB.

Around 2:15, inside, checked email, found a partial copyedit waiting. So now I’m gonna post this, then do that. Afterward, I’ll read and/or blow off the rest of the day.

Tomorrow morning, back to writing. (grin)

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

At Dean’s, “Story Fourteen and Other Stuff” http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-fourteen-and-other-stuff/.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 210 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 210

Writing of “Beats All” (probably a short story)

Day 1…… 1743 words. Total words to date…… 1743
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

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…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 14313
Total fiction words for the year………… 222869
Total nonfiction words for the month… 7680
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 65020

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 287889

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 508 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels

The Journal, Friday, 4/14

Hey Folks,

Wow. Almost half the month gone already. Amazing what even one missed day of writing does to the productivity. And I might have another nonwriting day today.

Bryan and I are headed for Sierra Vista this morning. Mostly to pick up a few essentials for him for his trek into a new life at Job Corps. That could happen as early as a couple of weeks from now.

And plus, I just want to get out of St. David for awhile. (grin)

Probably we’ll dawdle and take much, if not all, of the morning. Then after we’re back and settled, maybe I’ll visit Hal (the writing ‘puter) for awhile out in the Hovel.

Nope. Around noon I decided to build my BundleRabbit inventory instead.

If you’re one of the folks who recently subscribed, please don’t be dissuaded by this couple of days with no writing and no topics or writing tips. I’ll be back to full power soon. (grin)

Today, and Writing

Rolled out right at 3 even though I went to bed a bit late for me. Hey, them’s the breaks.

To Sierra Vista around 7:30.

Stopped to show Bryan some petroglyphs near Charleston/Millville (AZ), then to Walmart for a bunch’a stuff, then Sonic to slam down a couple’a burgers, then back here.

Got back at around 11:30, played with posting pics on FB for a little while. Found one that looks like the right profile of an ancestor of Captain Jean Luc Picard. (grin) That’s him up there on the left.

12:30, I’m gonna spend the balance of the day uploading short stories to BundleRabbit. It’s insane to have all this inventory and not be pushing it out the door in yet one more direction.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Via The Passive Voice, “Mystery, Thriller, or Suspense: Does the Label Matter?” For the full article, see http://diymfa.com/reading/mystery-thriller-suspense-label-matter.

At Dean’s, “Story Number Thirteen and an Answer” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-number-thirteen-and-an-answer/. There are some gems in this one.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 290 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 290

Writing of “Beats All” (probably a short story)

Day 1…… 1743 words. Total words to date…… 1743
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

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…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 14313
Total fiction words for the year………… 222869
Total nonfiction words for the month… 7470
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 64810

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 287679

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 507 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels

The Journal, Thursday, 4/13

Hey Folks,

Well, I had a pretty good scare this morning.

I let the little girl out with dim, pre-dawn light in the sky. She skittered off around the corner of the house to her favorite place to look through the fence.

About the time I got settled at my outside table, a hoot owl started hooting. It was on a telephone pole some forty yards from the house.

But immediately after that, as I was still getting up, another one screeched.

And that one was much closer. It was perched on another telephone pole directly above my little girl’s favorite place.

I raced around there. Probably that was a funny sight, me running in dark grey sweat pants, a black jacket and house slippers.

The baby hadn’t even made it to her favorite spot.

There was a little “lean-to”, where awhile back I leaned a heavy 3-feet by 3-feet piece of perforated metal against the backyard shed.

The lean-to was only about two feet from her, but she didn’t even duck under there, another of her favorite spots.

The screech of the owl had frozen her with fear.

She was hunkered down, visibly trembling, on bare ground about five feet short of her usual place. A mostly white kitten against an all-but black background.

I scooped her up, then looked up and gave some nasty directions to the owl. Then I took the baby into the house.

When I went back out, I shined my flashlight on the one sitting on the more distant pole. I said, “Go on, git!” and he flew off.

The other one was already gone.

Time to buy a .410 and some shotshells.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3:40 after a fairly late night. I processed some pics I took yesterday and posted them to Facebook, then read some email.

Then I handled the episode with The Owl and the Baby, then came here and wrote all this. It’s almost 6 a.m.

Getting a slow start today, but no biggie.

Laundry day. Put on the first load around 8:30, did some other stuff while that was washing. Working around the house on various things today.

That includes moving Bryan out to the camping trailer we have parked outside. Kind of a reward for him getting into Job Corps, and to give him a little practice at doing things on his own, but with us only a couple hundred feet away.

He’s getting electricity from the Hovel via a heavy duty extension cord (s/b able to run the AC unit).

He and I moved his bed and all his stuff, then cleaned the old bedroom, which is now the new dining and utility room. Yeah, it’s an old house.

So all kinds of stuff up at the house today, rearranging and cleaning.

Received and installed a new passenger side mirror on the 4Runner, and received and returned the WRONG windshield washer reservoir for the Tacoma.

All in all, a very good day. But no fiction.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “The Magic Bakery: Chapter Four” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-magic-bakery-chapter-four/. This is another GREAT post.

Below that, if you’re following his daily updates, “Story Twelve and a Wonderful Dinner.” Actually it’s pretty interesting.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 530 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 530

Writing of “Beats All” (probably a short story)

Day 1…… 1743 words. Total words to date…… 1743
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

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…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 14313
Total fiction words for the year………… 222869
Total nonfiction words for the month… 7180
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 64520

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 287389

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 506 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels

The Journal, Wednesday, 4/12

Hey Folks,

Well, something’s ‘off’ in my world today. Not sure what, and therefore not sure how to fix it. I’m annoyed. I’ll leave it at that.

I’m also not sure what will happen around here today. So I’m calling this a nonwriting day. (Turned out to be a writing day after all.)

I won’t write, at least not fiction, unless a lot of stuff in my mind settles out.

Maybe I’ll start a new website where I can vent. I’m not writing under any of my personas anymore, so maybe I’ll use one of them for that.

Probably I’ll spend the balance of the day uploading selected short stories to BundleRabbit. I’ve been meaning to do that for awhile anyway.

Topic: Streams of Income

If you’re a writer, and if you’re intelligent enough to have embraced indie publishing, you want as many streams of income as possible off everything you write.

If you aren’t a writer, you can stop reading now.

If you are a writer, but you’re still pursuing an agent and/or a traditional publisher so THEY can make all the money off various streams of income, please stop reading now.

Anyone else, keep reading. For the rest of you, for at least a limited time, I’m offering to answer any questions any of you have regarding getting revenue from your stories, short or long.

The only prerequisites are that you’ve read this topic in its entirety, and that you have downloaded and read the free resources I offer over at http://HarveyStanbrough.com/downloads.

Those include The Essentials of Digital Publishing, Quick Guide to Self-Publishing & FAQs, and Heinlein’s Business Habits For Writers (Heinlein’s Rules), Annotated

I also recommend you read and study the posts under the MS Word for Writers tab on the website. Especially if you’re still using the Tab bar or the spacebar to indent paragraphs.

A write not being thoroughly familiar with MS Word (or whatever program you use) is like a carpenter not being really sure what a hammer is for.

But to the topic.

Basically, getting multiple streams of income first relies on making your work available in as many different venues as possible.

If you “publish” (distribute) exclusively with Amazon or anyone else, you can’t do that. In fact, if you publish exclusively with Amazon, you aren’t even allowed, legally, to post your short story or novel on your own website.

So that’s the first lesson, a’right? Go wide.

I recommend distributing everything you write to Amazon and to Draft2Digital.

Smashwords also is a good distributor that will get you into a lot more minor venues, but I’ve never made a sale (since 2011) in any of those venues. So personally I don’t allot any of my time to uploading my work to Smashwords.

Once you’ve settled on distributors, you can shift into the second level of building multiple streams of income.

Collect your short stories. Collect your novels. Period.

When I have written ten short stories, I automatically have 10 new streams of income.

If I make those stories available (through D2D and Amazon) in nine venues, that means I’ve just created 90 individual new streams of income.

If I also collect those stories in two 5-story collections and one 10-story collection, I’ve just created three more streams of income. Times the same nine venues.

So now, having written 10 short stories, I begin receiving income from 117 different streams of revenue.

Later, there’s no law that says you can’t combine two, three or four 10-story collections into one omnibus collection either. More streams of income.

Of course, you can also group your novels. You can sell the first five books in a series in one book. You can sell the last five books in a series in another book. And you can sell all ten books in a single book.

Again, from having written 10 novels, you’re now bringing in revenue from 117 different streams.

Every time you find a new way to present your work, you create a new stream of income that is multiplied by the number of venues in which you offer that work for sale.

That’s also why I use and recommend BundleRabbit. When your work catches the attention of a curator there and he or she bundles it, you’ve just created yet one more stream of income.

Try it. The math isn’t as difficult as it seems.

And those trickling little streams of income all flow into the same river that feeds your bank account. It really is that easy.

Any questions or comments, please add them below or email me directly at harveystanbrough@gmail.com.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at around 3:30. Not sure what the day will hold.

I messed around, wrote the stuff above, then cross-posted it to the big blog (for January, 2018).

Then I went to the store and the PO, then back to the house.

I was thinking about BundleRabbit again when an idea hit. So I wrote the opening, about 350 words.

Once I had that, I saved it to my flash drive and headed for the Hovel. That was around 1:30.

I wrote on the thing for about an hour total, then went to put my spare for my 4Runner back underneath the truck.

Came back to the Hovel and wrote another half-hour, then called it a day. I didn’t write anything on the novel, but I got a good start on what will probably be a short story in the same series. We’ll see.

That or maybe it’s a start on what will be the fourth novel in the series. A lot better than I expected when the day started.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

At Dean’s place, not really a lot, actually. He and Kris will offer a new online workshop titled “How to Edit Your Own Work”. Might interest some of you.

If you haven’t signed up for the email subscription over at The Passive Voice yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. I read almost every article, but I don’t really have time to read them and then pass them on. Visit http://www.thepassivevoice.com/, then scroll to the right to subscribe via RSS. If you want email updates (my own preference) scroll down in the right sidebar.

Fiction Words: 1743
Nonfiction Words: 770 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2513

Writing of “Beats All” (probably a short story)

Day 1…… 1743 words. Total words to date…… 1743

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…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 14313
Total fiction words for the year………… 222869
Total nonfiction words for the month… 6650
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 63990

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 286859

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 505 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels

Read Everything, Think Critically, Accept Only What Feels Right

Hi Folks,

Many of you know I put a lot of stock in Dean Wesley Smith’s advice, but sometimes he tosses a blanket over a topic and beats it to death with assumptions and generalizations.

When he’s talking about things he knows about, his advice can be golden. I’ve learned a great deal from him.

However, he has his prejudices like anyone else. I suspect he was burned once by a bad freelance editor (or book doctor) who didn’t know what he was doing. This is precisely why, when I was editing (yes, freelance copyediting), I offered writers a free sample edit. That was a complete edit of up to a few pages. In that way, my ability sold itself.

Anyway, as what I suspect is the result of a bad personal experience, DWS seemingly endlessly tries and convicts “book doctors” and “freelance editors.” Among the charges he levels without any possible way of actually knowing about all book doctors or all freelance editors, he says

  • they have never written a novel (I have written over twenty and I have gone back to editing for others as well)
  • they have no experience at all in commercial fiction writing (see above)
  • they know only what English teachers taught them (no, some of them have a feel for the language)
  • they have no idea what will make a novel sell (some do, and a good one has a very good idea what will keep a novel from selling, and he or she will steer you around that)

Now it’s worthwhile to note that Dean himself says after he’s written a novel, he sends it to a first reader (his wife, Kris Rusch) and then sends it off to a copyeditor.

However, in his rant against “freelance editors” he doesn’t mention that he uses a copyeditor. That’s a little misleading to say the least.

Perhaps his copyeditor is licensed, but I’d bet not. Would he have hired this person in the first place if the copyeditor had said he or she was a “freelance editor” instead of a “copyeditor”? I’m just sayin’, to many people in the business, the terms are interchangeable.

As a disclaimer, let me say that there are many so-called freelance editors (and proofreaders and copyeditors and book doctors) out there who don’t have a sense of the language. There are many who mean well, but don’t know what they’re doing. And yes, there are some who are strictly scam artists and mean only to separate you from your hard-earned money.

There are also many out there who are very good at what they do and they can help you improve your work. I am one of them.

So do a little research. At a minimum, request a free sample edit. If your would-be copyeditor won’t let you see up front what he or she can do for you, don’t hire that editor. Move on to the next one.

I take exception to Dean’s post not only because I am a very good freelance copyeditor who always gives more than I am paid for. I take exception because he’s a trusted, respected source of information and he’s steering all writers away from what some of them might actually need. And he’s doing so based solely on generalizations, innuendo, and half-truths (i.e., all freelance editors are bad, but he sends his own work to a copyeditor).

As a related aside, DWS also has said many times, “real” editors (by this he means “not freelance”) work for publishers in New York. Period. All other editors are charlatans who are only out to scam you out of your money. All of them.

I guess the twenty-something “editors” working in New York for the Big Five are licensed. But I’m not gonna ask him.

Okay, so the point here is the title of this topic, and it kind’a piggybacks on the Learning post I wrote here a long while ago (http://harveystanbrough.com/pro-writers/learning/). If you’re a writer, it’s important that you keep learning. In that regard, I recommend that you

  • Do a little research to discover your would-be advisor’s level of experience (I never accept advice on a particular topic from anyone who has less experience with that topic than I do)
  • Even after you’ve decided to trust the source to provide good advice, Think Critically about what you’re being told
  • Discard ANY advice from ANYONE that’s based on broad generalizations and assumptions. All of it. Period.
  • Discard any advice that doesn’t “feel right” to you or work for you

I do recommend DWS as an excellent source of information regarding production as a writer, getting depth in your writing, etc.

However, I’ve noticed over the past several years, he DOES base some information on assumptions and generalizations. He slips them in every now and then. Fortunately, they’re pretty blatant so they aren’t difficult to identify and steer around.

I’m just sayin’, forewarned is forearmed.

Happy writing.

Harvey