The Journal, Sunday, 7/12

The Day

Rolled out just before 3 a.m. Back to reality.

Still recovering from the camping trip. For a full day and the better part of a night, Dan and I were alternating between the low of being exhausted and the high of repeated adrenaline rushes. That sort of thing wore me out when I was 30. I’m a little older than that now. (grin)

So I messed around the house a bit, went for a walk, got some pics (posted a few on Facebook and I’m posting one here, see below), then did some things to improve the camper shell I bought the other day. Now I’m gonna take the rest of the day to do nothing. Talk with you again tomorrow.

Here’s the pic:

DSC00014_600

Topic of the Night: Ending a Streak

This isn’t really a topic. Being a little selfish here.

Today I decided to end the streak I began back on April 15, 2014. On that day, I published the first short story in a self-challenge. Following the lead of Dean Wesley Smith, I challenged myself to write at least one new short story every week for a year. I exceeded that goal by quite a bit, but it’s still a bit sad to see a streak end.

Last week I published my 100th short story. It also was the 71st short story in a row that I wrote during the past 66 weeks.

I fully intended to write a new short story for this week too. In fact, I started one before I left on the camping trip.

Now I could have simply slapped an ending on it and called it finished, but that would not be in keeping with the spirit of the challenge. I started three other stories today as well. I wrote three more openings. Those openings might become something someday, but for now, they simply aren’t working.

Writing Off Into the Dark is a freeing, Zen-like technique. It isn’t something you can force. (If you force it you aren’t writing into the dark.)

Over on the Free Short Story of the Week blog I’ll continue to post a short story each week. For now, those will be stories I wrote before I began the challenge, stories that I haven’t shared since the challenge began.
If you enjoy magic realism or think you might, the first few will be from Gervasio Arrancado.

The Writing

I wrote more on the story that was going to be the short story of the week and then I wrote three new openings, none of which panned out. I wrote the words, but I can’t feel certain they’ll be published so I’m not going to count them. So no new publishable words of fiction for today.

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: XXXX

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month…………… 18790
Total fiction words for the year……………… 424473

The Journal, Saturday, 7/11

The Day

Rolled out just before 4:30 (Arizona time) in New Mexico, north of Lordsburg. No checking email. No Internet. Just reality.

Great trip, but Dan and I experienced three days of excitement and adventure in about 8 hours.

Topic of the Night: Refilling the Well

I write from experience, as do most of us. Or at least near experience. I experience things, then put my characters in those situations, then extrapolate out from there. But to do that, I have to experience things. I have to refill the well occasionally. Yesterday, I topped off my well of experience.

PART I

We pulled into our camp about 45 feet away from a 500 foot drop into the Gila River, got out and began re-exploring and taking pics. I take photos for my book covers, but many also give me story ideas. Others are “art photos,” suitable for framing and display, and I might someday offer those for sale.

Then it started sprinkling, then raining. We got in the cab of the pickup.
It started raining harder, then hailing pea-sized hail. Soon that turned to dime-sized. That all lasted about an hour, then quit.

Cool. Back to exploring and taking photos, except this time there waterfalls all over the place. I think there were three or four to our south, two or three across the gorge to our west, and another one to the north. The widest (that I could tell) was probably 50 feet. The narrowest was a few feet. But all of them were grandiose. Remember, all of them were falling at least 500 feet.

Then an hour, maybe two later (I think… it might have been longer) Dan noticed a massive blue curtain to the west with a roiling off-white valance. I have never seen a wall of rain quite like that, and it looked like the precursor to a tornado, or maybe a batch of them.

Of course, being guys, we climbed a nearby rocky hill so we could see better. (grin)

When we’d seen all we wanted or needed to see, it was back to the pickup, and just in time.

The rain came. It was horizontal. I am not kidding. Then the hail came. It was dime-sized to quarter-sized, and much of it too was horizontal. The waterfalls I mentioned earlier were flowing hard, but after they plunged off the cliff, the wind caught them and tossed them up so they looked more like geysers. Again, I am not kidding.

The pickup (again, we were parked 45 feet from the edge of a 500 foot drop into the Gila) was jostling around hard from the wind. We seriously considered working our way down a “chimney” between two huge rocks to slip into a 1,000 year old pueblocito that had remained dry throughout.

But everything around the pueblocito was wet and slick, and very near the pueblocito, should you miss your grip on a juniper tree, was that same 500 foot drop with nothing to grab but slick rock and air. We stayed in the pickup.  (grin)

With more storm fronts rolling in, we decided to head for Lordsburg. It was apparent we wouldn’t be able to use our cots and sleeping bags, etc. Dan couldn’t make use of his tarp to protect from the rain because the wind was, well, western wind.

PART II

Several miles down the road there’s a large wash. The road ducks into it for about a quarter-mile, then out again. Only the wash was under fast-moving water.

So we “decided” (as if there was a choice) to make camp near a rancher’s windmill and catch pen until the wash was not moving.

I slept sitting up in the cab (because I can) and Dan slept under the camper shell in the bed of the pickup. It rained and dropped lightning off and on pretty much all night. However, when I wandered down to the wash in the predawn light, it was damp but not flowing.

About an hour later we drove down a hill, across the wash, up onto relatively firm ground and out. There were other minor adventures, including inching past a motorhome that some moron had parked ON THE ROAD (this is a dirt road, one and a half lanes max) because apparently he didn’t want to drive any farther in the mud.

But we were tired and hungry and wet and far from home (just like in the Marine Corps) so we didn’t honk or shoot at him or anything when we went by. (The owner and whomever else was apparently asleep in the back.)

Into Lordsburg at last, we dropped in to a restaurant for breakfast, then out to Shakespeare where a very kind gentleman named Rod allowed us in to take pictures even though they usually only allow people in during official tours. (We told him we’re both writers and that our characters know Shakespeare better than we do. Truedat. One of Dan’s characters named the place.)

Then Dan dropped south of I-10 to St. David and dropped me off. And here I am. Dan should be home about now, as I write this.

I’m not gonna write today. I’m gonna indulge my other side and enjoy the pics and videos. Tomorrow I’ll write the story of the week and then get back to Book 8 of the West Crowley saga.

BY THE WAY if you’re one of those who limit yourself to writing “only novels,” I urge you to read the topic of the day on Dean’s site AT THIS LINK. It isn’t today’s post.

The Writing
No writing today.

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: XXXX

Writing of “(as yet untitled)” (story of the week)
Day 1…… 2238 words. Total words to date…… 2238

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056
Day 12… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month…………… 18790
Total fiction words for the year……………… 424473

The Journal, Wednesday, 7/8

The Day

Rolled out at a little after 1. Checked email and took care of some other housekeeping type matters.

Had another good walk this morning. I set out to do 6, but with various side trips to line up pics, I ended up with just under seven and a half miles. Great walk. And so far I can still move. (grin)

Went out about 4:15, was at the two mile mark (per the road signs) by sunrise. Got some pretty good pics. I switched back to my 105mm prime lens. All former Marines who take photos should use a 105mm. (Inside joke.) Anyway, after breakfast and a shower, I got a load of laundry started, then posted some pics to Facebook. You can see them here.

Then over here to write on this for a little while. I’ll write the topic of the night now, then go write my own stuff for awhile, then do whatever else and report it all here.

There is a GREAT BLOG TOPIC over at Dean’s site. It’s all about attitude. Go read it. I command you. (grin)

Okay, I did nothing the rest of the day but write, except that I allowed myself to be distracted by Facebook comments on the pics I posted there. Usually I’m pretty good about turning away from this (business) computer but not today for some reason.

And then I had what I thought was going to turn into an emergency with a long-time Marine Corps friend, but it wasn’t. At this point, only three of us remain from the earliest days of our unit at Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma. That’s just unreal to me. And when I emailed one of those guys today, the email bounced with “no such mailbox.”

Freaked. Me. Out.

But I called and he’s still around. Thank goodness. I’m gonna go see him in August and then probably swing up to Lake Havasu City and visit with the other one.

Topic of the Night: A Few More Notes on Goals

1. Just Start — Yes, I understand you have Xxxxx going on tomorrow (or next week or whatever) but no, that is not a legitimate reason to put off setting a goal or starting a challenge. Why? Because there will ALWAYS be one Xxxxx or another starting or stopping or going on. There will always be birthdays and vacations and movies you’ve been waiting forever to see and so on and so on. If you want to start a challenge, just start.

2. Missing Isn’t the End of the World — If you miss your goal, what happens? Nothing. The same thing that happens when you achieve your goal for the day. Nothing. So don’t sweat it. If you vow to write 3,000 words of publisable fiction per day and you write only 1200 one day, nobody’s gonna come beat you up. Your house won’t suddenly be foreclosed. The bank won’t suddenly come get your car. Nothing happens. So challenge yourself already. Set goals.

3. Adjust Your Goals as Necessary — If you challenge yourself (or set a goal) to write 3,000 words per day and you just can’t make it and feel that you need to back that off to 2,500 or 2,000 or whatever, that’s perfectly all right. Again, it’s YOUR goal. It affects nobody but You. If you only write 1000 words per day (that’s about an hour) five days per week that would still be 20,000 words per month. That’s a 60,000 word novel in three months, and that’s taking every weekend off and only working one hour a day.

4. Set Other Goals Too — I have to shed some fat. Beginning today, my goal is to walk at least 4 miles per day. Every day. (It’s just walking.) And yes, I’m going to keep a journal to motivate myself. Last year I lost from 205 down to 174 pounds.

Okay, this is a biggie. IF ANYONE OUT THERE would like to post your numbers on a website (similar to the way I do here), let me know and I’ll set you up with an account on another website. Right now several other people have accounts but only a few are using the site. I’d be happy to let you in if you want in. It’s a good way to get support from other professional writers and hold yourself accountable.

The Writing
Finally got back on the horse today. Not as much writing as I’d liked, but the story is flowing again.

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: 2178

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… 2178 words. Total words to date…… 28056

Total fiction words for the month…………… 16552
Total fiction words for the year……………… 422235

The Journal, Tuesday, 7/7

The Day

Rolled out at 2. Checked email, then did some things with an old friend’s website. Cleaned it up a bit.

Had another good walk this morning. Just under 4.5 miles out along a rural road out here. I used to walk in town but I don’t care for getting bit by all the “good” dogs out there who “wouldn’t harm a fly, really.” Right.

Checked Dean’s blog. More on that in the topic of the night below.

I’m taking a day off my own writing today. I have a routine appointment with my doctor in a little over an hour, so just kind of killing time until then. After that, probably lunch (since I’ll already be in town anyway) and then back here.

Okay, the trip to Benson is over. Back here I didn’t do a lot. Just kind’a rested for awhile.

And no, none of that has anything to do with the doc appointment. All of that was fine. As I wrote in a poem one time, “It’s time to reconnect some frazzled ends, / unbend a few warped planes, demagnetize / a short in my long circuit.” (grin)

Wes threw me a curve a couple days ago, something huge and completely unexpected. I’m gonna give it a day and a night to ferment. Note: I’m NOT going to think about it and wonder what happens and all that. That isn’t my job. I’m just giving my subconscious to decide what it wants to do, where it wants to go with this new plot twist.

(Yes, there is a plot. Per Ray Bradbury, plot is not something you carefully plan out. Plot is the tracks the characters leave as they run through the story.)

So back at it tomorrow.

Topic of the Night: The Value of Personal Challenges

Dean Wesley Smith started on July 1 with a new personal challenge: he would write a short story every day during the month of July. At the end of the month, he’ll compile all of those stories and the accompanying blog posts in a book titled The Stories of July. I’m pulling for him.

Folks, here’s a guy who has 40 years as a professional writer and well over 100 novels traditionally published. Yet he still sees value in setting goals and challenging himself specifically.

He has said in his blog for the past three days that if he hadn’t challenged himself to write those stories, he wouldn’t have written them. Even though he was exhausted toward the end of his day, he forced himself to write the story on each of those three days because he had challenged himself and he didn’t want to fail in the challenge.

In that way, he gave power to the challenge, and in that way, he increased his body of work by three more stories.

If at the end of July he’s written only 30 stories or only 28 or something, certainly he will have failed to success. But for my money, I think the earlier in a challenge you fail, the harder it would be to continue the challenge the next day.

Add to that the power of streaks. The more consecutive days he goes with a new story written each day, the harder it will be for him to allow that streak to end. At that point it becomes “Well, I’ve written a short story on each of 12 consecutive days, how can I just let the sreak die today?”

And that’s the power of streaks.

The Writing
Nada today.

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: XXXX

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… 3186 words. Total words to date…… 24293
Day 10… 1585 words. Total words to date…… 25878
Day 11… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month…………… 14374
Total fiction words for the year……………… 420057

The Journal, Saturday, 7/4

The Day

Rolled out at 1.

Spent an hour or so just waking up, checking out a few websites. I shouldn’t do that. Most often when I look at other websites that have anything to do at all with writing I am disappointed or flat out annoyed.

  • JA Konrath is an avid supporter of Amazon Kindle Unlimited. For some reason, he apparently sees nothing wrong with supporting Amazon’s drive toward a monopoly.
  • Another famous guy constantly talks about being certain to hit plot points and rewriting etc. which is contrary to everything I teach. He (and his editor) do occasionally come out with some good stuff so I won’t diss ’em too bad. Steven Pressfield and Shawn Coyne. Also a major shout-out to Jeffrey Simon, Steven and Shawn’s web guy, who taught me out of the kindness of his heart how to send more than one blog from one URL. Thanks Jeff!
  • CampNaNo (I heard) expects around 1600 words per day (they think that’s a lot) and preach that writing sloppy is all right. Plus some of the completely irrational crap I read from some of the folks who participate just flat boggles my mind. (I do know there’s also some good things coming from good people on NaNo and I know some of you probably swear by it and that’s fine. I just can’t handle all the negative stuff I hear people telling writers who don’t know better than to listen.)
  • And then there’s ol’ Chuck Wendig, who is a prolific profesional writer and could do SO much good but still preaches rewriting and a bunch of other stuff that I believe is mega-bad advice. He also feels compelled to curse, purely gratuitously, in very annoying ways. I guess the fact that there’s simply no reason for all the garbage language is what makes it so stinkin’ annoying.

Every time I do browse the web like this (about once every other month or so) I feel so very frustrated for all the young writer minds out there that are being twisted out of shape by these successful people who are sitting back and flinging the smelly stuff far and wide. I absolutely abhor it.

Then I remember all over again why I’m so very glad I finally found Heinlein’s Rules and Writing Off Into the Dark and the (most of the time) true common sense of people like Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rush. Bless their hearts. And I don’t mean that as a Texas epithet.

Turning to the writing ‘puter now to write the next short story. This is number 100 overall and the 71st story I’ve written since April 15, 2014.

Okay, finished the short story in three average sessions. About another hour to create a cover, publish it to Amazon and Smashwords, and post it to my website. This is not only number 100, but it’s also the first ever to be posted to the main site. Hope it works. (grin)

In the meantime, if you want an advance look, you can find it on my main site at HarveyStanbrough.com. Just click the Free Short Story of the Week tab.

Oh, re the challenge I issued yesterday, it’s a GREAT way to hold yourself accountable. So jump on in.

Topic of the Night: No topic tonight. Sorry. Too tired.

The Writing
went very well today. Conceived of, wrote, and published “Death of a Persona,” a dark but humorous jaunt through the imagination. My personas are characters in this one. Eric Stringer’s personality really shines through. Read this one, and I think you’ll see what I like about Eric. And why I had to let another persona go.

I was going to write some with Wes too, but I decided to take the rest of the day to do nothing. My brain’s tired. (grin)

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: 3201

Writing of “Death of a Persona” (story of the week)
Day 1…… 3192 words. Total words to date…… 3192 done

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906
Day 8…… 3201 words. Total words to date…… 21107
Day 9…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month…………… 9603
Total fiction words for the year……………… 415286

The Journal, Thursday, 6/2

The Day

Rolled out a little after 2.

Well, first, very pleased to report all three of my blogs are now in one central location. In the upper right corner of my new website, you can now click a link to subscribe to the Story of the Week, The Daily Journal, and/or The Main Blog (Pro Writers category). When you subscribe, your email address will be added to whichever list(s).

If you’re subscribed to The Main Blog, you will receive that post in your email every ten days (1, 11, 21 of each month). If you’re subscribed to the Story of the Week, you will receive a freshly minted short story in your email every Monday. If you are subscribed to The Daily Journal, you will receive that post in your email every day just after 6 p.m.

Not a lot to the day today. Tweaked the website a bit more. Added a My Personas page and then a page for each persona. That was kind’a fun. I also put a new short story on the Harvey Stanbrough page and on the Eric Stringer page. So if you aren’t subscribe to the story per week and you’d like to read a couple of really good short stories, stop by there.

I wrote a little bit, then had to a pretty good walk, then tweaked the site a bit more. Then I wrote a bit more. That’s the whole secret to being a writer, as I think I talked about recently in a topic of the night. It isn’t just writing all the time (nobody deserves that much Heaven). It’s coming back and coming back and coming back.

Topic of the Night: Dean Wesley Smith is Insane

Of course, I mean that in only the best possible way. (grin)

Dean issued himself a new challenge. He’s going to write a new original short story every day during the month of July. Even I am not that insane. But I am thinking of starting a pool to bet on when he’ll break the streak. I might even tell him about the pool. Maybe that’ll keep him going for 31 stories in 31 days. (grin)

Also, remember that his “day” is not like most people’s day. His day begins at around 1 p.m. and goes until around 5 a.m. the next morning.

I urge you to go take a look at his blog today.

Also take a look at his topic of the night. It’s about creating and using a Title Generator. Interesting stuff, especially if you can write a story off a title. I often do that with my short fiction.

The Writing

Decent day of writing today. I feel like I’m building up slowly or something. I could have hit at least another thousand words today. The story’s really rolling. But when NYPD Blue came on, I psyched myself. I decided I’d turn on the TV and turn up the sound and just LISTEN to NYPD Blue but continue writing. Then I’d watch all five episodes on Sunday anyway.

Nope. It’s just too good a show. When I turned it on, I stopped for just a moment, was drawn in by the hook, and spent the next 45 minutes (no commercials on Audience) watching an excellent show.

So I got just a little over 2000 today. No biggie.

Today’s Writing
Fiction words: 2486

Writing of Book 8 in the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 4125 words. Total words to date…… 4125
Day 2…… 2624 words. Total words to date…… 6749
Day 3…… 2766 words. Total words to date…… 9515
Day 4…… 1412 words. Total words to date…… 10927
Day 5…… 3441 words. Total words to date…… 14368
Day 6…… 1052 words. Total words to date…… 15420
Day 7…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 17906

Total fiction words for the month…………… 3538
Total fiction words for the year……………… 408884

A Tip and Resources for Writers of Short Fiction

Hi Folks,

Dean Wesley Smith is the professional long-term fiction writer whom I consider my mentor. He’s made his living with his fiction for over 3o years and has well over 100 novels published through traditional publishers. This is back before traditional publishers lost their minds and made their contracts completely one-sided.

I emailed Dean about my most recent (at the time, back in November, 2014) short story, “Saving the Grenlow”:

“Seriously doubt I’m up to Asimovs or any of that yet, but I did just post (yesterday) my latest short story of the week, an SF piece a little under 3,000 words based on one of our assignments in the SF workshop. I think you might like it if you get time to drop by.”

His reponse?

“Wow, Sheila [Williams, editor] would be angry if she read that. How dare you pre-edit her magazine for her? And it clearly hasn’t sunk in yet for you that writers are the worst judges of their own work. You are going to need to learn that and stop devaluing your work with false judgements.”

So there you go. As some of you know, I don’t usually “devalue” my own work. That particular time, the groveling just snuck up on me, probably because I was talking with my mentor. But his “How dare you pre-edit her magazine for her?” really hit me. Duh. Don’t devalue your own work with false judgments. Seriously.

Topic of the Day: Traditional Publishing for Short Fiction

Don’t misread this. I would NEVER advocate going the traditional publishing route with novels, not the way traditional publishers’ contracts read right now. Don’t take my word for it. Check ’em out for yourself. And when you read the part that says your book belongs to the publishing company until it goes “out of print,” remember that “print” now includes ebooks, which literally NEVER go out of print. Be careful out there.

On the other hand, there is absolutely nothing wrong with making a quick few hundred dollars on a short story BEFORE self-publishing it to Amazon and Smashwords, right?

If any of you would like to find traditional short story markets that pay professional rates, DWS and another person in a workshop with me suggested checking these sites:

Duotrope at http://duotrope.com

The Grinder at http://thegrinder.diabolicalplots.com/

Also, look for some of the big annual short story anthologies, like the ‘Best Short stories of XYZ year” and some of the major genre annual anthologies. They’ll list the markets the stories came from, as well as a list of markets that were considered for inclusion.

The Pushcart Prize anthology also has great lists of nominated magazines, with addresses.

With short fiction, of course, you should always follow their guidelines. To not do so is an insult.

So there you have it. Believe in yourself. You believed in your story enough to write it, so submit it and see what happens. There’ll be plenty of time to self-publish to Smashwords and Amazon when rights revert to you after traditional publication. After you’ve pocketed that three hundre dollar check.

‘Til next time, happy writing!

Harvey

Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out. If you’ve already contributed, Thanks!

A Public Service Announcement… sort of

Yeah, sort of. If you’re a writer, you need resources, and the fact is, I’m a good one. I’ve recently revamped the Writers’ Resources listing in the right sidebar of my page.

That sidebar contains a list of copyeditors as well as various useful tools: several dictionaries for everything from slang to sex; language translators and conversion resources for measurements, mileage, money and more; invaluable information for would-be independent publishers; character naming conventions; free apps; free or inexpensive alternatives to Microsoft Word; and a great deal more.

Among the great deal more there are also miscellaneous resources, such as the newly added Historical Maps site where you can get free digital maps, two resources concerning gardening, two or three quotation sites, notes on police procedures, and links to various writers’ groups. Seriously, take a look.

I also point directly to the websites of Dean Wesley Smith and Steven Pressfield. If you haven’t visited Dean’s website, you are missing out on a TON of great information for writers and indie publishers (and you are an indie publisher if you’re a writer and you’re smart). If you haven’t yet read Pressfield’s Do the Work and The War of Art, well, just stop complaining about not finding time to write ’cause really, seriously, you don’t have a leg to stand on.

Of course, there are also my very own instructional blog posts, which come out every ten days and which of course I hope you find useful. I don’t care for false modesty, so I’ll just say, without bragging, if you read my regular posts, you will learn a great deal about writing, and it will be good information, not the inane bullcookies you hear from people who hold themselves up as experts although they’ve never published anything. I mean, puh-lease.

One thing… Beginning with my next post, you’ll receive those on the 1st, 11th and 21st day of the month. Up until now they were going out on the 10th, 20th and 30th, but despite protracted, endlessly frustrating negotiations, my team thus far has been unable to get February to go along with the program re the posting on the 30th. So I’m making the switch.

Just in case you’re scratching your head and saying something like “Huh?” the problem is that February has only 28 days, except every four years when it begrudgingly adds a 29th day, apparently to tease us and show us it could get to 30 if only it wanted to, which of course it does not because, frankly, that’s just the way February is.

Okay, finally, I’ve also decided to take the plunge into donation land. I mean, I’m a professional writer. I make my living with my words, except the words in my instructional blog posts, which I give you because it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Okay, but warm, fuzzy feelings don’t put bacon on the table, and the fact is, I like bacon, despite the fact that (or maybe because) liking bacon isn’t politically correct because it isn’t made from soy.

So if you’re one of those folks who tells me now and then how much you learn from these posts or how valuable they are or how reading them doesn’t actually give you a migraine, hey, I hope you’ll consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar. You can click the preceding link or you’ll find a button in the upper right corner. And if you’re one of those folks who like to remain silent because, after all, that’s your right, but you also enjoy the posts, learn from them and so on, I hope you’ll consider tossing a tip my way as well.

I’m a full-time fiction writer now, which means I’m making my living with my words. In the past 9 months, since April 15, 2014, I’ve written over a quarter-million words of fiction (263,441 to be exact). That doesn’t include blog posts and other nonfiction. In those 263,441 words are 46 short stories and 3 novels. During that time also, I collected the stories in 12 short fiction collections and the novels into a trilogy. Finally, during that time I created 62 book covers and published those 62 works to over 100 nations around the world through various ebook and print venues. Not bad for an old man, eh? (grin)

I’m just sayin’, writing blogs posts and seminars and other nonfiction is no longer my main focus. When I write a blog post to help you out, it costs me time that I could otherwise use to tell a story. And frankly, telling stories—sitting at my keyboard making stuff up—is a great deal more fun. (grin)

Oh speaking of which, I also added a tip jar to my fiction showcase website over at HEStanbrough.com. If you sign up over there, you get a free, brand new, freshly minted short story every week. Anyway, that’s the same tip jar so don’t feel like you have to hit both of them, okay? But yeah, one would be nice. (grin) You know, if you can see your way clear.

Those tips will help me keep these blog posts going. Oh, and if you do decide to toss something into the kitty, as they say down in Texas, Bless yer hort.

Coming up, in addition to new blog posts, I’ll also be reposting a series on Microsoft Word for Writers and a revised series on Being a Professional Writer as well as a lot of other good stuff.

Until then, happy writing!

Harvey

 

A Bit More on Goals

First, a public service announcement, especially for avid readers: if you’re going to be in or near Green Valley on December 6, I hope you’ll stop by to see me and a lot of other local and regional authors at the annual Meet the Authors Book Fair. That’s next Saturday, December 6, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Desert Hills Lutheran Church at 2150 South Camino Del Sol in Green Valley.

I’ll have my new novel, Leaving Amarillo, as well as thirteen collections of short fiction and my two popular nonfiction books on writing. Stop by!

Some points about the Meet the Authors Book Fair:

  • Admission is free
  • WiFi is available
  • There will be author readings in a small adjacent room

Again, the venue is located at 2150 South Camino Del Sol in Green Valley.

Here’s a Google Map of the location.

Hope to see you there!

Okay, last time up I talked about goals.

When I first set my goal to write a short story per week for a year (back in mid-April) I was about half-terrified. I didn’t realize yet that the world wouldn’t end if I missed, and I hadn’t even considered yet that the goal would merely re-set, meaning even if I missed a week, so what? I still had to write a new story for the current week.

Once I learned to trust my subconscious to tell the story (what Dean Wesley Smith calls writing into the dark) and once I realized nothing bad would happen if I missed a week, the goal gently shifted from a severe, “whaddayou, nuts?” kind of challenge all the way down to FUN.

That’s right, fun.

I no longer doubt that I’ll write a short story per week for a year. Once I let go of the fear, I was free to just run outside and play with all my little fictional friends. And that is SO much better than all the crap I occasionally hear about writing being “drudgery” and all that. 🙂

So I still have the ongoing “challenge” of writing a short story every week for a year, but I also have set a goal of writing at least four hours per day (fiction… not counting any nonfiction, not counting emails or blog posts) at least five days per week. Can I do that? Yep. Easily. As I’ve said many times in this series and elsewhere, it’s all a matter of priorities. Now that I’m not editing and formatting and creating (beautiful) covers for Other People’s Stuff, my days are my own.

For those of you who automatically think writing four hours per day is a monstrous and probably un-doable goal, tell me: if you have a day job (or if you’re retired, back when you had a day job), are (or were) you able to go to your job and do it at least four hours per day, five days per week? Of course. In fact, you probably spent 8 or 9 or 12 hours per day at least five days per week.

Writing fiction is my job now. (Yeah, that’s right. My “job” is sitting at a computer, making up stories. Score!) If I call myself a writer, shouldn’t I be able t0 “work” at my job four lousy hours per day? Kind’a puts things in a whole new perspective, doesn’t it? 🙂

So is writing your job too? If you answered yes, maybe you should set a goal or two. 🙂 If you need help in that regard, I’m more than happy to respond to emails or to comments left in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

Back next time.

Harvey

A Few Resources and Goal Setting

Hey Folks,

A few strong resources—

If you’re serious about your work as a writer, check these out:

http://deanwesleysmith.com—The resource-rich website of Dean Wesley Smith, my own unintentional mentor and one of the most prolific writers in America. While you’re there, check out the Think Like a Publisher and Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing tabs. I also recommend checking out his Online Workshops tab and his Lecture Series tab. Also while you’re there, remember that this guy has published hundreds of novels and several hundred short stories. His wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, has done likewise. Seriously, would you rather “learn” from the peers in your critique group, or would you rather learn from someone who’s highly successful. (Hands raised, palms out: I don’t mean me. I’m not teaching anymore.)

Chuck Wendig’s blogAnother resource-rich website. Chuck regularly offers his books in bundles. I recently bought a bundle of seven for only $20, and they’re full of actual TRUE information about writing. Not the lying, worthless, even harmful stuff that’s in most how-to books for writers. I could name names but, you know, I’m a good guy. Besides, frankly, if you believe that stuff, you deserve the ensuing wasted years. WARNING: Chuck Wendig uses strong language with remarkable regularity. If you’re offended by such language, you might want to avoid this website.

Harvey Stanbrough’s Audio Lecture SeriesThis is for those of you who always meant to get to my seminars when I was teaching them live but didn’t for whatever reason. Well, that extended period of insanity is over, and I’m getting better, thanks. Now I offer the same excellent instruction online so “them as want it can take it and them as don’t can leave ‘er be.” No more need for excuses. 🙂 If you want honest, nuts-and-bolts instruction that you can apply to your writing immediately, you want these lectures. (I recommend starting with Narrative. It’s chock full of good stuff.) There’s no fluff in these lectures. It’s all meat. Or if you’re a vegetarian, it’s all peas and carrots. Okay, unprocessed peas and carrots. Sheesh. Whatever. Even if you been to my seminars, I strongly recommend my Writing Into the Dark lecture. Same link, scroll down to Lecture 12. More coming soon on Employing the Persona, Smart Self-Publishing, and maybe even Writing the Character-Driven Short Story. Maybe. I’m REALLY enjoying writing fiction. 🙂

Finally, on My Main Website, browse the right sidebar under Writers’ Resources. Seriously, there’s a lot of great stuff there. Go. Browse.

Goal Setting

Last time I defined the different types of writers. Only you know where you fit among those definitions. If you’re actually a writer (a person who writes, who regularly puts new words on the page) or a serious aspirant (that’s almost an oxymoron), set a goal for yourself. Then announce it to your friends and family.

If you do this, it will drive you to your writing computer and you’ll actually put new words on the page. In other words, you will actually BE a writer.

Can you revise or adjust goals once they’re set? Of course. Remember, they’re only artificial boundaries. We set goals to help ourselves achieve what we want to achieve. When setting your goals, bear in mind the term “realistic.” Make your goals realistic.

For example, I want to write a novel. Is a novel just a story that doesn’t end really soon? I don’t know. I haven’t written one yet and I haven’t studied enough yet to know that. But I’m taking a six-week online workshop beginning November 5 that will help me know that, so I will set a novel-per goal soon. UPDATE: By the time I got around to publishing this blog, I’d finished my first novel. It’s the one I talked about in the previous post. So woohoo! 🙂

In the meantime, I still also have the recurring goal I set back on April 16: to write and publish at least one new short story per week for a year. So this is both a recurring goal (the goal re-sets every week) and a long-term goal (one story per week for a year). I haven’t missed yet.

But what happens if I do miss one week? Nothing.

The world won’t end. My friends won’t all send me Dear John letters. Deming NM won’t dry up and blow into Texas. Well, maybe, but that’ll be because of its position alongside the journada del muerte, not because I missed writing one stupid short story. And for the overall year, I still will have written FIFTY-ONE short stories. Not too shabby for an old guy learning new tricks. In fact, that’s a pretty good year, don’t you think?

Okay, so what’s stopping you? If you’re a writer, Get On With It.

Harvey