The Journal, Thursday, 5/18

Hey Folks,

Huh. Not sure why MailChimp didn’t send last night’s post. Still, any hard-core followers went to the main site to check it out. The post was there.

I put it up at around 5:15. And it was tagged appropriately (Daily Journal category) so MailChimp should have sent it out at 7. Here’s hoping it’ll go out today. I’m posting this at 4:41.

There was no topic in yesterday’s post. The only matter of any real importance (probably) was my admonition to read the comments on Dean’s “The Magic Bakery: Chapter Eight.”

Some great comments. You can find that at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-magic-bakery-chapter-eight/#comments/.

I have to hit the grocery this morning. Probably I’ll do that early. When I get back and get things put away, I should be able to write as much as I want.

Had an interesting thing happen yesterday with the novel. Right in the middle of it (well, short of that at around 8000 words), I wrote a chapter/scene that would also make an excellent beginning for a short story. Hmmm.

Topic: Bad Writing Habits Come in Degrees

In the email update from The Digital Reader, Nate points to “Bad Writing Habits and How to Break Them” (http://writerunboxed.com/2017/05/04/bad-writing-habits-and-how-to-break-them/.)

I didn’t put this in Of Interest because, frankly, it’s sideways advice.

It isn’t really good advice, except on the largest possible scale: Yes, it’s better to avoid bad writing habits.

But when it comes to specifics, it’s misleading at best and can be downright harmful, as evidenced by how rapidly the comments on that post deteriorated into counting repeated words, etc.

The main “bad writing habit” the author (Anna Elliott) cites is “how many times my characters nodded in agreement to something.”

She goes on to say “probably 90 percent of those nods were entirely unnecessary [so] I cut them.”

Okay, so be on the lookout for bad habits. Good advice on the surface.

But I was annoyed by that “nodded in agreement” thing. If everytime a character nodded in her book she followed “nodded” with a prepositional phrase (in agreement, in acceptance, etc.) THAT might have been what was boring the audio guy to tears.

“He nodded” or “she nodded” or “character-name nodded” is a ton less intrusive than “he nodded in agreement.”

Folks, every time ANYONE nods, it’s “in agreement.”

I’ve seen writers write “he nodded yes” and “he shook his head no.” But the fact is, every time anyone nods, it means yes. Every time they shake their head, it means no.

I’ve also seen them write “he shrugged his shoulders” (what else is he gonna shrug?).

I’ve seen them write all sorts of other bodily motions and then double-down with an in-sentence explanation of why the character made that motion.

Silliness. “If you want to stop a bad writing habit, how about cutting out the unnecessary explanation?” he said, with a voice that sounded as if exasperation were dripping off his tongue because he was so annoyed with the question.

And in the course of the comments following the article, I foresee a whole group of writers “experimenting” with cutting out ALL instances of “nodded” and “shrugged.” And if those are gone, can “gestured” or “smiled” or “grinned” or “laughed” or “chuckled” be far behind?

The answer to all of this is simple, of course. If your character nods (shrugs, smiles, grins, giggles, gestures, etc.) in response to another character saying something, write “He (or John or she) nodded.” Then continue with his/her verbal response if there is one.

“He nodded” is a short, quick narrative that enables the reader to see an action from the character. And it isn’t “unnecessary” if, at that place in the scene, the character nodded.

Not to even mention it’s over in a blink. 99% of readers don’t even notice it.

“He nodded in agreement,” on the other hand, is plodding, ugly and repetitive. It needs major surgery, as in cutting away half of it.

But once you slash away the truly “unnecessary” part, your reader won’t be nodding off. (See what I did there?)

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3:30.

Around 6 I headed for the store. When I got back, my wife met me outside. Seems my kitten had brought in a baby bird. It was a nestling, but with feathers and barely able to fly.

It was unharmed. I cuddled the little thing in my palm, took it to the back fence, gave it a good scolding and opened my hand. It just looked up at me.

I petted it with my index finger and said quietly, “Go on.” It flew to the ground about ten feet away. So a happy ending.

After all that I put away the stuff I bought, then visited Facebook while I ate a quick breakfast. Then I came here to write all this stuff.

Wow. Slow day so far. I sat down at the novel at around 10:30 but I just didn’t feel comfortable. Know what I mean? Uneasy for some reason.

I wrote a little, put the water on the yard and later moved it. Wrote some more, then did some other little stuff. Moved out to the Hovel with a cigar at around noon. I’m more comfortable out there. Kept pecking at the novel.

A little cycling but nothing major in that regard. Writing mostly brand new stuff, but at 1:30 (three hours after I started) only one new scene and a few touch-ups. A little over 1000 words.

Well, a good couple of hours, but I seem unable to break over a 3,000 word day. (grin) That’s okay. Novel’s coming along.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

For those of you who, like me, either missed or chose not to attend the Branding online workshop, see Business Musings: How To Build A Brand: The Early Stages at http://kriswrites.com/2017/05/17/business-musings-how-to-build-a-brand-the-early-stages-brandingdiscoverability/. I guess she’s going to do a series of these.

To catch up and read Kris’ first blog on branding, see http://kriswrites.com/2017/05/10/business-musings-types-of-brands-brandingdiscoverability/.

While we’re on the topic, check out Raoul Davis’ “7 Keys to Building a Successful Brand” at https://businesscollective.com/7-keys-to-building-a-successful-brand/.

And at Dean’s place, see “Too Much Other Stuff” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/too-much-other-stuff/.

Fiction Words: 2612
Nonfiction Words: 1020 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3632

Writing of A Fresh Kill (tentative title, novel)

Day 1…… 2751 words. Total words to date…… 2751
Day 2…… 2986 words. Total words to date…… 5737
Day 3…… 2961 words. Total words to date…… 8698
Day 4…… 2612 words. Total words to date…… 11310

Total fiction words for the month……… 26724
Total fiction words for the year………… 274318
Total nonfiction words for the month… 9580
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 84270

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 358588

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 540 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 4 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 24
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 167

The Journal, Wednesday, 5/10

Hey Folks,

Today I worked on various things around the house, mailed out two packages of books.

One was a collection, the full set of The Formalist, a twice-monthly poetry magazine, to my eldest granddaughter.

The Formalist was a very nice, perfect-bound journal that lasted ten or twelve years. I was fortunate to have some of my poetry appear in it alongside some big-name poets.

The other mailing was a full set of the Wes Crowley series. It will be auctioned off in a silent auction at my high school reunion next month. (Yeah, mailing that one was fun.)

If anyone out there is interested, you can now get the full set of the Wes Crowley novels in paper. But if you are interested, write me for details. The full set (in paper) if bought anywhere else would run you just under $150. If you get them direct from StoneThread Publishing, I provide a substantial discount.

***

Everybody has good days and bad days. I’ve had a string of the latter lately. I’m not complaining, just explaining. No worries. I’ll come out the other side.

Even Robert Heinlein himself said he’d broken his own rules several times. I just keep telling myself this is a transition month and it’s all right.

I added a little over 1700 words to The Storm today. But honestly, the thing just feels stalled.

Unless lightning strikes today or tonight, I’m going to set it aside and move on to something else.

In the meantime, I’m taking the rest of today off. Hoping all this life-roll stuff settles out soon.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3:30. Took care of all the stuff above, then started writing on The Storm at around 10:30. Why? Heinlein’s Rule #2.

In fact, I was so busy with all that other stuff that I didn’t even think to check Dean’s site or update this Journal until a break at around 12:30.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

At Dean’s, “Ticking Clocks,” on various offers that will expire soon. If you’re interested, take a look at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/ticking-clocks/. Otherwise, skip it. Not even a daily update today.

Fiction Words: 1735
Nonfiction Words: 360 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 360

Writing of The Storm (tentative title, novel)

Day 1…… 3227 words. Total words to date…… 3227
Day 2…… 3366 words. Total words to date…… 6593
Day 3…… 2893 words. Total words to date…… 9486
Day 4…… 3172 words. Total words to date…… 12658
Day 5…… 1021 words. Total words to date…… 13679
Day 6…… 1735 words. Total words to date…… 15414 (stalled)

Total fiction words for the month……… 15414
Total fiction words for the year………… 263008
Total nonfiction words for the month… 5360
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 80050

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 343058

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 532 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 4 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 24
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 167

The Journal, Tuesday, 5/9

Hey Folks,

Today should be the last day of settling into my office. I think the more difficult task will be getting used to writing in here. I almost look forward to winter, short as it is, so I can move my writing back to the Hovel. I put a lot of stuff through my writing ‘puter out there.

Speaking of the writing ‘puter, it’s back. (grin) I had nothing to lose so I plugged in an AC power (chosen at random from among three) and set it aside yesterday.

A little while ago, strictly out of curiosity I opened it and turned it on and voila! It’s back.

Topic: Epiphanies and Stuff

I set myself a personal challenge. For the month of June, I want to write a new short story every day. That’s tough enough.

But in addition to that, I want to write those stories truly “in public.” I want the public to be able to watch virtually as the stories grow, scene to scene.

To that end, in the original challenge, I was going to paste each scene to a Facebook page I set up just for that purpose.

Then a couple days ago, my conscious mind wheedled its way in and I lost control. I decided maybe it would be better to post the whole story (albeit still once a day) to the Facebook page.

I reasoned that (1) apparently there weren’t many folks all that interested and (2) those who were interested would still see the end product each day, follow my progress on the challenge, etc.

But then Robert J. Sadler, a dear friend in Texas, pointed out to me in an email that, frankly, I was chickening out. (grin)

And he was right. (Friends respect each other enough to tell each other the truth. In my world, that’s the main qualifier to earn the title.)

In part of his note to me, he wrote

“…I can understand if the prospect of no story-starved pedestrians standing outside the window seems a reasonable reason for not implementing your challenge.

“That said, you made a point that this was your challenge and not issued to anyone other than yourself. So with that perspective in mind, whether the tree falls in the forest with no one around to hear it, the tree still falls. …

“So … if you wanna write-in-public, as you suggest, then knock yourself out… even if there is no public to witness it.”

Or as Yoda put it, “There is no try. Do or do not.”

And the epiphany?

Writing scenes has always been easy for me. Scenes pop into my head all the time, complete with characters, setting, dialogue and so on. So I can write scenes all day.

But with my conscious mind creeping in as I thought about the challenge, I allowed myself to “hope” the scenes would connect well and the characters would lead me through to the end.

And that’s what I was doing wrong without realizing it. That whole “hope” thing.

Once I replaced “hope” with “trust” (thanks to my friend’s email), everything else fell into place.

So the challenge is back on, in its original form.

Beginning on June 1, I will write one short story per day for the month. Each time I finish a scene, I’ll paste it “live” to Facebook so whoever wants to can see it.

But my friend was right. It’s my challenge. I’m not challenging others to do something similar, though if they do, it’s all right by me. I’m not even challenging others to watch. I’m challenging myself to give others something to watch.

If they watch and enjoy, wonderful. If they don’t, it will still be one hell of an experience. (grin)

If you want to follow along on that madness, visit https://www.facebook.com/HarveyStanbroughWritingInPublic/. Some preliminary stuff is already there. The challenge begins on 1 June.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out a little before 4 a.m. Did little the first few hours. Went to the grocery early, around 8, to get that out of the way.

Back here I did some household chores and basically wasted the morning. Along the way I wrote this stuff and cross-posted a version of the topic to the big blog. It will post there next Tuesday.

I also read over most of The Storm and touched it a bit here and there, but I’m not counting today as a writing day.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

If you enjoy great photography and great fiction, stop by Robert J. Sadler’s website at http://robertjsadler.com/ and browse. You won’t be disappointed.

See “The Elements of Style: ’50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice'” at http://boingboing.net/2017/05/08/the-elements-of-style-50-ye.html.

See “How to determine your price point when self-publishing” at http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2017/04/how-to-determine-your-price-point-when.html.

At Dean’s place, “No Writing Tonight” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/no-writing-tonight/. Not particularly helpful, except to me at the moment after the last few days. (grin)

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 790 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 790

Writing of The Storm (tentative title, novel)

Day 1…… 3227 words. Total words to date…… 3227
Day 2…… 3366 words. Total words to date…… 6593
Day 3…… 2893 words. Total words to date…… 9486
Day 4…… 3172 words. Total words to date…… 12658
Day 5…… 1021 words. Total words to date…… 13679
Day 6…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 13679
Total fiction words for the year………… 261273
Total nonfiction words for the month… 5000
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 79690

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 340963

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 531 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 4 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 24
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 167

The Journal, Thursday, 5/4

Hey Folks,

Hey, happy Cinco de Mayo if that’s your thing. Otherwise not a lot to post here today.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out just before 4 a.m. Finally to the Hovel around 7:30. But back to the house to set water, then to order cigars, etc. Finally back to the Hovel and the novel at 9:40.

Again, I played in the world of the novel off and on much of the day. Just over 3000 words, so I’ll take it. I really need to pick up steam on this one though.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

First up this morning, “Ebooks are not in crisis” at http://selfpublishingadvice.org/self-publishing-news-ebooks-are-not-in-crisis/. From the article “…disinformation has breached the indie walls – and that means it could be doing real damage to people’s writing plans.” Also, I urge you to check out this site beyond just what’s posted here.

At Dean’s, “The Magic Bakery: Chapter Seven.” See http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-magic-bakery-chapter-seven/.

Fiction Words: 3172
Nonfiction Words: 150 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3322

Writing of The Storm (tentative title, novel)

Day 1…… 3227 words. Total words to date…… 3227
Day 2…… 3366 words. Total words to date…… 6593
Day 3…… 2893 words. Total words to date…… 9486
Day 4…… 3172 words. Total words to date…… 12658

Total fiction words for the month……… 12658
Total fiction words for the year………… 260252
Total nonfiction words for the month… 2490
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 77180

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 337432

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 526 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 4 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 24
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 167

The Journal, Wednesday, 5/3

Hey Folks,

Topic: More on the Challenge

I’ve decided to label these “challenge” posts with the “topic” tag. These entries aren’t really topics, but I figure some folks might get some insight from these ramblings.

One requirement of the challenge is to write a new story every day for a month (old hat — Dean’s done it twice now). But to fulfill both requirements of my challenge, I also have to post each new scene/page as it comes through my fingers.

That presents a minor problem.

I love writing in the Hovel, but I don’t have Internet out there. I get online via my phone’s hot spot once each day at the end of the day to post my stuff.

But that uses data, and leaving the hot spot on all day would cost too much.

My grandson reports that the Internet signal from the house reaches the camping trailer, which is about 50 feet closer than the Hovel.

So for the duration of the challenge, I might have to move Hal into the camping trailer. (My grandson will be moved out by then.)

The other thing I’m thinking is that I want to post scenes, not just pages. (Most often my scenes are only a page or two long anyway, 600 to 1000 words.)

Posting scenes will enable me to focus subconsciously on cliffhangers and hooks, something I’m practicing right now. (grin)

I also think the “mini-story” between the hook and the cliffhanger will be more interesting for readers. And I’m thinking that could only be a good thing.

So that’s the first real variation from Harlan’s trick.

***

One writer on FB yesterday asked why I wasn’t jumping into the challenge right now vs. waiting for June or July.

The answer is, I’m clearing the decks physically and getting myself mentally prepared first.

Physically, I have a necessary trip to make this month, plus two days of the month were already gone by the time I decided to do this.

And mentally, if you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been lax in my writing lately.

After turning out 92,000 words of fiction in January, I turned out only a little over 59,000 in February, 56,000 in March, and 39,000 last month. So in April, I had a mean average of a measly 1300 words per day. That won’t cut it.

I’ve decided that every short story I write for the challenge will be range from 2,000 to 6,000 words.

So to prepare myself for that, I’m trying to write an average of 3,000 words per day through the month of May. Thus far (through 5/2) I have 593 words in the bank toward that average. So far, so good.

If I can get myself back to a “norm” of writing 3000 words per day on average, I’ll have a lot better chance of completing the more important goal of the challenge: at least one new short story every day.

Also, I’ve decided to begin the challenge on June 1. July is now my “emergency” month. I’ll slide the challenge to July only if something comes up between now and June 1 that prohobits me being able to complete the challenge in June.

An Administrative Note, or Shameless Begging

If you’re on Facebook, please support this challenge by visiting https://www.facebook.com/HarveyStanbroughWritingInPublic/ and clicking Like and Follow. Then share it with your writer or reader friends. (Those of you who already have, thank you.)

In the lead-up to the starting date, I’ll keep the page relevant by adding little tips for writers (and inside glimpses for readers). With any luck, I’ll make a dent in some of the myths of writing while I’m playing.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out a little before 4. Did a lot of little stuff up until around 7:30 when I moved to the Hovel. There, I wrote much of the above.

9:15, out for a quick walk. When I get back, I’ll begin on the novel for the day.

I worked on the novel for about a half-hour, then headed to the house for some iced tea.
While I was there, I descaled the coffee maker with vinegar, put on a load of laundry (the descaling takes awhile), watered a row of vines outside and ate lunch (hot tortillas and colby-jack). Of course, I checked email and FB.

Back to the Hovel and the novel around noon-thirty. A break around 1:30, folded clothes and back to the Hovel.

Well, not quite as good today as yesterday. Still good on the average, though.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

From the StoryBundle FAQs page: “We’re always in search of awesome indie books, so we’re interested in checking out your work. If you’re an author, email us at submissions@storybundle.com.”

Check Jack Giannis’ comment at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/wrap-up-and-start-new/#comment-175199. Excellent. But there’s something erroneous in the comment that points at a lack of understanding. See whether you can find it.

Dean also posted about his new challenge (exercising). If you want to see that, it’s at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/challenges-starting/.

Fiction Words: 2893
Nonfiction Words: 830 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3723

Writing of The Storm (tentative title, novel)

Day 1…… 3227 words. Total words to date…… 3227
Day 2…… 3366 words. Total words to date…… 6593
Day 3…… 2893 words. Total words to date…… 9486

Total fiction words for the month……… 9486
Total fiction words for the year………… 257080
Total nonfiction words for the month… 2340
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 77030

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 334110

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 525 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 4 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 24
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 167

The Journal, Tuesday, 5/2

Hey Folks,

A few more thoughts on the forthcoming challenge—

I won’t write a novel in public. There’s no realistic way to do so.

Also, I’ve decided on a dedicated Facebook page as the venue for this challenge. Might as well make it truly “in public.”

To that end, here’s the post I added to Facebook this morning. I also shared it with several major writers’ groups around the nation:

ANNOUNCING A NEW CHALLENGE

A few decades ago, a writer named Harlan Ellison set up a desk in a storefront window and wrote short stories, one after another, on a manual typewriter.

As he finished each page, he stood and taped it face-out to the window so those interested could read his stories as they were being produced.

No editing, and (OMG!) no rewriting. It’s called “writing in public”.

I’m thinking of doing the same thing on a special, separate Facebook page I will set up in the near future specifically for this purpose.

I will also combine this with a personal challenge to write at least one short story per day for a month straight (in either June or July), mimicking my unintentional mentor, Dean Wesley Smith.

I’ll post the pages of the story as they come out on the FB page so readers can follow along as the story progresses. I wll neither request nor accept comments on the pages/stories. (Trust me, that would kill the impetus.)

Just to be sure you understand, I’m NOT challenging anyone else to do this. Only myself. I’m a masochist, not a sadist. 🙂

Thoughts? 🙂

Today, and Writing

Rolled out right at 3. Checked email and found Gnondpom’s comment awaiting approval. That led me to writing the first long bit above about the challenge. Which I later replaced with the Facebook post.

Around 3:30 I went to CreateSpace again to do the final proof of The Right Cut.

I seem to be taking a leisurely stroll into the day. That feels good. Around 8 a.m. I went to the Hovel, revised some of the above.

Around 8:30 I created a cover for the story I wrote a day or two ago and did the other prep work (formatting, promo doc, etc.). I saved it to my flash drive. Later today I’ll upload it.

Around 9 I went back to the house to get my sunglasses (prevent too much glare from the computer screen). I ended up creating the FB page for my forthcoming endeavor.

10 a.m., finally back to the Hovel and the novel.

Worked on the novel off and on much of the day, interspersed with too much playing on FB with my new page, etc.

If you’d like to see the new page where the magic will happen (grin) check out https://www.facebook.com/HarveyStanbroughWritingInPublic/. Again, comments are welcome.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Some great comments on “Challenge Hit!! 30 Stories in 30 Days” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/challenge-hit-30-stories-in-30-days/.

And some sheer excitement at “Wrap Up and Start New” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/wrap-up-and-start-new/.

Fiction Words: 3366
Nonfiction Words: 490 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3856

Writing of The Storm (tentative title, novel)

Day 1…… 3227 words. Total words to date…… 3227
Day 2…… 3366 words. Total words to date…… 6593

Total fiction words for the month……… 6593
Total fiction words for the year………… 254187
Total nonfiction words for the month… 1510
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 76200

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 330387

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 524 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 4 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 24
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 167

The Journal, Friday, 4/28

Hey Folks,

Well, the first reader for “How Hard the Ground” enjoyed it, so it goes to market today.

Of course, he’s alone with me often, miles from anywhere, way out in the desert. And he knows how well I can shoot.

So that might have had a lot to do with his positive report. (grin)

But I’ll take it.

Topic: The Two Levels of Pacing

If you’ve been following me or my work for any length of time, you know I enjoy studying and applying pacing.

Overall, pacing means doing things to make the reader move through the book very fast when you want him to (action scenes) and doing things to make him slow down (rest) when and where you want him to (lunch or a day off for a picnic with the family or something).

There are a lot of tricks to that overall story pacing. Shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs and less dialogue, for example, for a fast-paced scene. The reverse, pretty much, for a slower-paced scene.

But here I want to talk about the second level of pacing. What I call Internal Pacing. Pacing inside an action scene.

Even in the midst of high-tension action scenes, the POV character notices things he wouldn’t ordinarily notice.

Realizing and understanding that and letting it come through your story will add another level of reality.

Plus it’s a ton of fun if you enjoy being inside your POV character’s head. And you should.

This is the point where you get to work with nuances. For that reason, these are the scenes to which I most often cycle back to let my character add detail when necessary. The POV character is in the heat of battle.

And you have to balance the bang-bang action with a description of the setting. (This is from within the character, remember.)

And the description isn’t normal either. This is what the character sees, hears, smells, tastes and so on while his senses are in that heightened, adrenaline-fueled state.

If you’ve ever been in a car accident or other high-tension situation, you know what I mean.
It’s as if visual and auditory representations of what’s going on come to you in stop-action, frame-by-frame pictures and sounds.

For a quick example, say you’ve come to a complete stop behind a flatbed truck that’s stopped at a stop sign.

His right turn signal is on.

You look to the left and see that nothing’s coming.

The guy in the truck lets off his brake and begins forward, so you let off your brake, assuming he’s going to turn.

But for some inexplicable reason, he brakes again and stops.

And you brake again, probably hard. But the road is covered with ice.

You know you’re going to slide forward and hit that ominous thick, flatbed truck and there is nothing you can do about it.

Still, you feel your eyes grow larger, you feel your grip tighten on the steering wheel, you feel yourself pressing harder on the brake.

And you see the hood of your car inching inexorably closer and closer to the ugly steel bumper on the back of the truck.

Everything slows down to a crawl during that intervening second or two. And then BAM, the hood of your car crumples and you’re back to real time.

Now, does describing the setting inside an action scene slow the action?

No. It adds a great deal of depth (and reality) to the action rather than glazing over the surface of it.

As always, questions and comments are welcome.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out actually at a little after midnight. Sometimes that’s how things work out.

I busied myself with email etc., then took a few pictures soon after first light.

Around 9:30 I moved out to the Hovel and started a new story.

11, a break and up to the house. My brain’s working a little slower today.

12:18… well, that “break” turned into a whole thing. I ordered something for my grandson through Amazon. Amazon sent me an email saying it was delivered 2 days ago. Um, no, it wasn’t.

So I went to the PO. (“Do you have a tracking number?”)

So I went home, got my computer, and went back to the PO.

They looked up the tracking number. Said the package was delivered to MY address in St. David (my town) but after that, in Litchfield Park, up near Phoenix.

My PO got on the phone with the LP PO. Guy said it was delivered.

Wonderful. So I’m out $10.

I went to Amazon, left “feedback” for the place that sold me what I ordered, then went to Ebay and ordered the same thing. It cost a little more, but it will be here in three days. And Amazon can bite me. (grin)

12:30, back to the story.

1:30, finished the story at exactly 1900 words. How weird is that? Plus it’s a weird story.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

“Story Twenty-Seven in Twenty-Seven Days” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-twenty-seven-in-twenty-seven-days/. Not a lot in this one.

See “A Novel Challenge” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/a-novel-challenge/. This is a really cool challenge. If you’ve ever wanted to push yourself and get expert feedback (possibly free), this is your chance.

Fiction Words: 1900
Nonfiction Words: 880 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2780

Writing of Suction Cups (short story)

Day 1…… 1900 words. Total words to date…… 1900 (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 35487
Total fiction words for the year………… 244043
Total nonfiction words for the month… 16530
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 73870

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 317913

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 520 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (16 novels)… 5 novels
Total novels to date (since Oct 19, 2014)… 27 (includes 3 novellas)

The Journal, Saturday, 4/22

Hey Folks,

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

***

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

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

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

Topic: What Is Possible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, and Writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

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

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

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

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

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

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

The Journal, Friday, 4/21

Hey Folks,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Topic: Shut Up, Conscious Mind!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The one thing I wasn’t doing was writing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, and Writing

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

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

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

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

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

9:20 back to the Hovel and the novel.

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

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

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

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

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

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

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

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

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

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

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

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

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

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

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

The Journal, Thursday, 4/20

Hey Folks,

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

Then I was hungry, so I got breakfast.

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

***

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

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

Topic: On Word Counts and Averages and Productivity

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

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

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

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

But the daily word count goal can be useful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I do pay attention to two particular averages.

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

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

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

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

Sounds like a lot, huh?

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

But let’s focus back down to reality.

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

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

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

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

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

Well, that’s up to you.

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

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

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

So now I’m gonna go write.

Today, and Writing

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

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

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

11:10, back to the novel.

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

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

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

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

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

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

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

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