The Journal, Tuesday, 9/1 (Yay!)

The Day
Rolled out a little after 2. It’s September 1, a shiny brand-new month. New possibilities, newly re-set goals.

Thank goodness.

Coffee and email to wake up. No walk today. Had a violent storm come through here yesterday. That and this little bug that’s taken hold of me recently will keep me from walking today. I’ll walk tomorrow for sure. A good long one.

Well, back to writing today. It is September 1. No real significance there except that this month I will rededicate myself to writing. I will also see my 755th full moon sometime this month, and the first thing has about as much significance to anything important as the second.

As I alluded to in yesterday’s post (I think) things move so fast in my life. I mean even second to second. Or maybe it’s just that I’m noticing the seconds more. I’ve been too distracted recently, with the violent weather and whatever it pitches into the air and a minor nagging illness and all that. I can imagine my drill instructor (Sgt. McGrew, my favorite) saying, “Well, get UNdistracted, y’moron.” And he’s right.

So I’m beginning to focus on writing again because it’s important to me

I felt bad for awhile last night as I considered that my monthly total was only 22641 for this month. That’s very low for me. I’m usually up in the 60,000 to 80,000 per month range.

Then I got to thinking about it. If I wrote 22641 every month for a year, that would be 271,692 published words of fiction in a year. One of my writing heroes and a very prolific SF writer named Jack Williamson once lamented that try as he might, he never wrote much more than 100,000 words in a year.

So I’ll take it.

And as I keep saying, today is September 1.

Topic of the Morning: No topic today. I’m pooped.

Today’s Writing
Fiction Words: 1590

Writing of “Paper Hearts” (began as “A Hiding Place for Weary Men” — short story of the week)
Day 1…… 1056 words. Total words to date….. 1056 words
Day 2…… 1590 words. Total words to date….. 2646 words done

Writing of Book 9 of the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 3213 words. Total words to date….. 3213 words
Day 2…… 1046 words. Total words to date….. 4259 words
Day 3…… 1858 words. Total words to date….. 6117 words
Day 4…… 1023 words. Total words to date….. 7140 words
Day 5…… 1587 words. Total words to date….. 8327 words
Day 6…… X943 words. Total words to date….. 9270 words
Day 7…… 1084 words. Total words to date….. 10354 words
Day 8…… 1056 words. Total words to date….. 11410 words
Day 9…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXXX words

Total fiction words for the month…………… 1590
Total fiction words for the year……………… 466631

The Journal, Monday, 8/31 (Yay!)

The end of a month. A horrible month. Whew. Glad to see this one end.

The Day
Rolled out a little before 3. I was up late (for me) last night working with web browsers. I’ll tell you the rest in the Topic below.

A personal note — I’ve received a few emails recently from some of you expressing concern for what’s going on. Really, nothing. Just life. (grin) But I’m doing a mostly daily journal here, and I’m trying to be as transparent as I can in revealing my own life as a professional writer. That’s mostly to let you see what’s possible, but also that normal (or abnormal) everyday life continues to happen.

To that end, I want to let you see the rough days as well as the smooth ones, the days when I struggle to put together a sentence as well as the days when everything’s flowing and I hit 1200 words in an hour.
So I do appreciate the concern, but really, everything’s fine. If you know me, you know I slip into grouch mode pretty easily, and when I’m in grouch mode, my two year old inner child isn’t far behind. (grin)

Administrative note — I could have finished the short story I started yesterday in time to start a streak. I could have finished it this morning and created a cover and posted it before 9 a.m. when MailChimp sends out the story of the week to all the subscribers. (I had the story of the week covered with an older one that I reworked a bit but I still set the deadline for my challenge week at 9 a.m. on Monday morning.)

One of the reasons I didn’t bother was because I’ve been sending this daily journal post. It includes my daily numbers and it goes out at 5 p.m. every day. I couldn’t finish the story before that deadline.

So I need to work out my deadlines so they coincide. I’ll do that before I start my story-a-week challenge again. Since my workday begins at 2 or so in the morning and ends at 5 in the early evening, probably I’ll shift the story-a-week deadline to 6 p.m. on Monday instead of 9 a.m. on Monday.

We’ll see. Anyway, it’s now 6:30 a.m. I have a new browser I’m happy with thus far (see the Topic below) and am ready to start the rest of my day. No fiction writing today. The month is over. Today I’ll take care of some more administrative stuff, like adding a couple blog posts over on the other blog to get a little bit ahead.

Now it’s almost noon. I’ve added four articles to the other blog post so I’m caught up through October 1.

Topic of the Morning: Internet Browsers

I’ve used Firefox for years. The problem is, I’m a complete two year old when it comes to putting up with things that annoy me and that probably have a solution. The keyword here is probably.

I will spend hours, even days, searching for a solution to an annoyance when I know the solution “probably” exists.

The problem with Firefox was this: When I tried to view a video or even open a website that has photos or videos on it (for example, news feeds or weather radar) in Firefox, my computer would slow to a crawl. It also sounded like a fighter jet warming up on the runway.

You know the sound. When the pilot is increasing the engine speed while keeping his foot firmly planted on the brake until the engines are spinning fast enough to punch him into the sky. Well, something like that. You know.

Anyway, Firefox invoked Adobe Flash, which ran as a separate process and ate up tons of memory, thereby taxing the processor and slowing the computer to roughly the speed of an abacus in the hands of an untrained chimp.

As all humans do in all human endeavors in which Conflict is trump, I finally sought change only when the aggravation of putting up with my current browser finally outweighed the inconvenience of finding a new one, moving all my bookmarks, reinserting all my saved passwords, and all that stuff.

And of course, the need to switch browsers brought up another problem. Which browser?

Now fixing this problem should be as easy as looking at browser comparisons or reading reviews. But it isn’t. Not unless you look at several comparisons from various sources and look for common notes among them.

Ditto for reviews. You have to compare several reviews and study them to discern the kernels of unbiased truth hidden in the bought-and-paid-for-and-therefore-biased text.

And finally, you have to download the new browser, transfer all your stuff (or at least find out how difficult it is to transfer all your stuff) and then use it and wait to see what happens.

Relatively speaking, I got lucky.

Yesterday (?) or the day before, I compared notes (per my griping above) and settled on Opera. I downloaded it, transferred everything (to Opera’s credit, the transfer was easy) and began using it.

I liked the user interface and enjoyed the ease with which I was able to get around in the browser. Everything was fine for a few hours.

Then it crashed.

The browser was still there, and open. My windows (email, harveystanbrough.com and a couple others) were still on the screen. But in each window, the content — ALL of the content — was replaced with black.

I closed Opera and restarted it, and everything was fine. My tabs all came back. No problem. Probably just a glitch, so no worries.

Then it crashed. Same thing, a half-hour later. Okay, so not just a glitch. Sigh. Well minor-league-curseword-that-begins-with-D.

So I started reading again, comparing notes.

Just in case you’re doing this search yourself, here are the two best comparison sites I found:

http://www.topattack.com/list/best-internet-browsers-review/4 and

http://internet-browser-review.toptenreviews.com/.

I found a few programs that seemed like good candidates to become my next browser. I downloaded and installed Internet Explorer 11 and was immediately IMMEDIATELY sorry. It’s far too bossy for my tastes, and it isn’t NEARLY as fast as the two comparison sites above claim it is. Plus it uses a ton of memory, again, as opposed to what a lot of reviews and the two comparison sites above say.

I quickly grew tired of the “big” browsers. I had tried IE twice and hated it both times. Firefox was out, and Google Chrome seemed overly flippant in their lack of desire to allow the end user (me) to set things up for my own convenience. And Opera… well, I liked Opera a lot except that it apparently is a crash machine.

So I read in-depth reviews about three other browsers: Pale Moon (based on the Firefox engine but sleeker and faster), Torch (based on the Chromium engine, like Google Chrome, it allows for a LOT more personalization and is not as high-handed) and Sea Monkey (based on the Firefox engine but just as fast as Firefox while allegedly using a LOT less memory).

I finally installed Pale Moon, but the first time I visited a news site that had a few pictures on it and links to videos (not even videos, just LINKS to videos), it acted like Firefox. Someone turned the ignition key in an F-16 cockpit and the computer slowed to a crawl. Now I have to admit the crawl was considerably faster than the Firefox crawl, but a crawl is a crawl.

Thing is, I can’t abide a crawling browser. Let me explain.

In my world, I don’t really notice 1/60th of a minute as it ticks past, but I can get a lot done in, say, 15 seconds. So in my world, a minute has four 15-second segments that I’m intuitively aware of. In my world, an hour has 240 of those. It doesn’t just have 60 minutes, but 240 quarter-minutes. That’s a lot of quarter-minutes. And during that time, I can accomplish a lot IF my browser isn’t crawling along, sapping my strength and my patience.

So the search continued.

This morning, fresh out of bed, I grabbed a cuppa coffee, turned on Pale Moon, opened a new tab and began comparing browsers.

I swear, I thought I heard my computer say in a soft, almost menacing voice, “What are you doing, Harvey?” (see 2001: A Space Odyssey)

And yes, I responded. Aloud. I said, “Nothing. Nothing, ProBook 6460b. Everything’s fine.”

Then I downloaded the installation files for Sea Monkey (http://www.seamonkey-project.org/) and Torch (http://www.torchbrowser.com/).

Torch downloaded first, so I installed it first. TADA! It’s working great.

If it continues to work well, that will be the end of my search. If it doesn’t, well, I still have the installation files for Sea Monkey set aside, so we’ll see.

If you have any questions about any of this, please ask in the comments section below.

Also, be aware I’m also gonna make this one of my upcoming posts over on the bigger blog. So if you’re signed up over there too, you’ll see this again before too long. Probably late September.

TOMORROW  BEGINS  A  NEW  MONTH!  GO  FORTH  AND  WRITE!

Today’s Writing

Well, I just don’t have any writing in me today. Well, fiction writing anyway. I probably hit around 3,000 words today of nonfiction and silliness. In fact, there are almost 1700 words in this post alone.

Okay, but I just noticed I didn’t add my total from yesterday (1056) to the daily total. I added it to the monthly and annual, but not to the daily, so I’m correcting that today.

Fiction Words: XXXX

Writing of Book 9 of the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 3213 words. Total words to date….. 3213 words
Day 2…… 1046 words. Total words to date….. 4259 words
Day 3…… 1858 words. Total words to date….. 6117 words
Day 4…… 1023 words. Total words to date….. 7140 words
Day 5…… 1587 words. Total words to date….. 8327 words
Day 6…… X943 words. Total words to date….. 9270 words
Day 7…… 1084 words. Total words to date….. 10354 words
Day 8…… 1056 words. Total words to date….. 11410 words
Day 9…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXXX words

Total fiction words for the month…………… 22641
Total fiction words for the year……………… 465041

The Journal, Sunday, 8/30

The Day
Rolled out right at 2 this morning. Good to feel back on schedule.

Spent more time this morning on email than usual but for a good reason. I woke to Dr. Mardy Groethe’s weekly newsletter in my inbox. Dr. Mardy is a verbivore. He is the author of I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like, Oxymoronica, and several other books in the same general vein.

Each week his newsletter contains an interesting “puzzler” regarding a famous literary figure. Dr. Mardy provides a brief history and several quotes about the person, and at the end of the newsletter he reveals the person’s name.

After the puzzler hints and before the revelation, he provides “This Week’s Theme.” Then he offers up a bit of introductory prose and then a collection (usually a dozen) of his own favorite quotes on the topic.

And that’s what I like best about his newsletter. The listing of quotes he provides is a never-ending source of story titles and story ideas. And if you title and/or write a story based on part of a quote, the quote becomes a ready-made epigraph if you want one. (grin)

I will write the story of the week today, and I will write it based on a title derived from a quotation taken from this week’s newsletter.

And to slightly adjust my personal challenge, each new short story I write for the foreseeable future will be based on a quote from Dr. Mardy’s newsletter. That should be a blast. (grin)

You can find Dr. Mardy’s website at http://www.drmardy.com. To sign up for his newsletter, send a blank email to drmardy-on@mail-list.com. Again, I highly recommend it.

No topic tonight other than the above.

Good walk today. Only about 3.5 miles but new ground through a new wash. And not too sandy so no slogging, or not much. Cool.

Started the story of the week. Then my new Internet browser (Opera) crashed on me three times in an hour. So I’m looking again. Spent the last couple hours doing that, so back to writing for a bit now. I want to see how this story ends. (grin)

As it turns out, I’m not gonna find out how it ends today. Like I said the other day, the good thing about a recurring goal is that it resets if you miss it.

Today’s Writing

Well, I won’t finish the new short story I started today. No biggie. I’ll just start my new streak next week, or the next. I’ll get back on track.

I DID get a good opening written, and it’s a great title that I borrowed from a quote by Herodotus (5th c. B.C.). So I’ll run with that later.

But for now I’m not gonna worry about it. Talk with you all tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 1056

Writing of “A Hiding Place for Weary Men” (short story, but not of the week)
Day 1…… 1056 words. Total words to date….. 1056 words

Writing of Book 9 of the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 3213 words. Total words to date….. 3213 words
Day 2…… 1046 words. Total words to date….. 4259 words
Day 3…… 1858 words. Total words to date….. 6117 words
Day 4…… 1023 words. Total words to date….. 7140 words
Day 5…… 1587 words. Total words to date….. 8327 words
Day 6…… X943 words. Total words to date….. 9270 words
Day 7…… 1084 words. Total words to date….. 10354 words
Day 8…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXXX words

Total fiction words for the month…………… 22641
Total fiction words for the year……………… 465041

The Journal, Saturday, 8/29

The Day
Rolled out a little late at quarter to 3.

Wow. I hope all of you who are reading this are having a lot better month with your writing than I am so far. With the month mostly gone, it isn’t likely to improve much either.

No walk today. Not a lot else either, except I switched my internet browser from Firefox over to Opera. I’m more than happy with it. For one thing, whenever Adobe Flash would kick in to run any video (weather, etc.) it ate tons of memory. My computer sounded like a military fighter jet warming up to take off, and it slowed to a crawl. It was so bad that sometimes I used the Alt/Ctrl Delete trick to bring up the Task Manager and shut down the Adobe Flash process.

Now it doesn’t do that because Flash works differently with Opera. Cool.

I’ve been slipping badly on meeting my daily goal of 3,000 words per day. Probably I will adjust that one beginning in September.

But I still have a good weekly goal of one new short story per week. This coming Monday, I’m posting a story I reworked, but that doesn’t excuse me from the goal of writing a new one this week (before Monday). So probably I’ll do that today. Or tomorrow. (grin)

One good thing about writing short stories is that they’re usually finished in one day. Another good thing is that they can lead to a novella or novel. They’re also great fun because I can give a character a problem and drop him or her into a setting and I’m off and running. Then I just write the opening (300 to 500 words). If the opening works, I keep writing. If it doesn’t, I chuck it and start over or start something new.

But it’s pure writing into the dark, just like writing a one-off stand-alone novel. I don’t have to worry about timelines or about various characters cropping up from the past and so on.

Anyway, I don’t want to allow myself to fail on this short story per week challenge. I want to hold out for as long as I can. The last time I did this, I had a streak that ran for 66 straight weeks (I think that’s the right number) and included 70 short stories. I want to try to beat that this time.

But the thing about writing goals is this: If you fail to hit a goal, so what. Nobody dies, the electric company doesn’t turn off the power, and the goal resets. In other words, you have absolutely nothing to lose and the world to gain.

Topic of the Night: Rehashing Stuff

I was going to write about “The Value of Streaks,” but when I was looking back for info, I realize I talked about setting goals just back in July, from around the 6th or 7th up through about the 10th. In fact, I wrote about setting goals, recurring goals, and the power of streaks. If you’re interested, click The Journal tab on the website and scroll back.

And my apologies for repeating myself on this stuff so often. I didn’t realize. When I don’t have something to talk about, I’ll avoid doing a Topic.

Okay, so I’m off this now and working on my own stuff the rest of the day.

Well, as it turns out, that was two hours ago. I remembered I needed to at least rinse off my pickup (tossed cold coffee out the window and it streaked the door), and I ended up washing both the car and the pickup.

Everybody needs a hobby. I guess mine is being stupid in the heat when I could be inside, writing in the (relative) cool. (grin)

So after I cool down a bit and get a shower, I’ll write for awhile.

Today’s Writing

Got a little done on Wes’ story. And it was fun because it completely surprised me. And I’m still feeling lazy, so I guess I’ll write the short story tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 1084

Writing of Book 9 of the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 3213 words. Total words to date….. 3213 words
Day 2…… 1046 words. Total words to date….. 4259 words
Day 3…… 1858 words. Total words to date….. 6117 words
Day 4…… 1023 words. Total words to date….. 7140 words
Day 5…… 1587 words. Total words to date….. 8327 words
Day 6…… X943 words. Total words to date….. 9270 words
Day 7…… 1084 words. Total words to date….. 10354 words

Total fiction words for the month…………… 21585
Total fiction words for the year……………… 463985

The Journal, Friday, 8/28

The Day
Rolled out a little early this morning at about 1:30.

After waking up with coffee and email, I thought about yesterday’s post. I was a little harsh maybe.

For years I’ve seen writers, even retired, very successful business people, allow various companies to take advantage of them.

I despise those companies, and I don’t mind being vocal about it.

But the thing is, many writers bring these things on themselves. They’re intelligent people, by and large. They don’t have to be ignorant. And I “get” that it’s easier to just trust some faceless corporation to do the right thing than it is to check them out, or even think too hard about what they’re offering.

But you really need to do that anyway. Seriously. We are not living in the same world in which many of us grew up. Anyway, these thoughts led me to the Topic of the Night below.

So from about 2 until about 7:30, I formatted and uploaded eight more collections (all 5-story) to D2D, as well as those three large anthologies I published awhile back that were the results of contests, and the short story, “Coralín.” So all caught up on what I wanted to move over to D2D.

Now I have to update the print covers for the collections I previously published under Stringer’s or Porter’s name (personas).

And Smashwords still has the same books for distribution to a few places that D2D doesn’t go, so I probably need to update the files for them too. Not in a massive hurry for that though.

Hmmm. In fact, I might just “unpublish” the titles from Smashwords altogether. It’s a LOT of work to change the cover and the front and back matter, and the thing is, I’ve garnered a total of FOUR sales from all the remaining Smashwords venues (Baker & Taylor Blio, txtr, Library Direct, Baker-Taylor Axis360, and OverDrive) over the past four years.

Yeah, think I’ll just unpublish them, pull them from Smashwords completely. That’s only the collections that were previously attributed to one of my personas other than Gervasio. I’ll go do that right now.

All of my new short stories, novels and collections will go to both D2D and Smashwords.

Okay, I got all that done (about an hour) and then went for a walk. Though I’d be smart and go after the sun was well up, but it got hotter quicker than I thought it would. Outsmarted myself. Only turned about three miles. Guess I’ll go back to walking earlier for awhile.

I won’t be doing any writing today, other than this stuff and revisiting a magic realism story I (Gervasio) wrote a long time ago. It’s called “Carmen, Whose Face Was Cracked” and it’s a beautiful story in the ethereal sense. I’ll post it as the story of the week for this week. So it will be up on Sunday at the site and posted by MailChimp on Monday morning.

Topic of the Night: Amazon KDP Select and “Scout” Redux

You know, all I can do is tell you what I think is right.

If you go with a program like Amazon Scout, you’re keeping your work from a lot of readers who don’t use Amazon.

You’re also locking up your work for at least 5 years. Amazon’s guarantee to you is if you don’t make at least $25,000 in royalties over that five years, you can pull your book from the program. Now that sounds like a nice, big number, but seriously, can any of you live on $5,000 per year? I can’t.

And like I said yesterday, if it wasn’t a good deal for Amazon, they wouldn’t be doing it. For every person who DOES make $25,000 over five years, Amazon ALSO makes $25,000 over that same five years, multiplied by the number of people who sign up for this program. Shrug.

It just isn’t fair. It isn’t a good deal for any author.

Look at it like this. Say you own a rental property. Would you sign over the deed to that property to someone else and then pay them 50% of your income from that property to rent it out for you? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
This is EXACTLY the same thing. Exactly.

Your writing, every story, every book, is an investment. Your copyright is property.

Don’t give your property away and then split your earnings 50/50 with the new owner. That’s just insane.

Tell you what. If you’re thinking of going with Amazon Scout, you might as well go with a traditional publisher and give the TP both print and ebook rights. At least with the TP you can negotiate a more realistic royalty rate on ebook sales than the paltry 50% Amazon wants to pay, and TP probably would give you a larger advance too. AND they probably would tie up your book for only two or three years (again, it’s negotiable). Just sayin’.

And those who know me know that I NEVER recommend going with a traditional publisher. Never. But compared to Amazon Scout, TP is a better alternative.

One final note: If that $1500 advance looks attractive to you, remember that it’s only an advance. They don’t pay royalties until your book “earns out” the advance. And if it doesn’t earn out the advance? They come back to you to recoup that advance. That’s right. You could easily end up paying it back.

And now I’ll write what I should have written in the first place last night. Then I wouldn’t have had to write the rest of this. Here it is. Ready?

If You Choose To Go With Them, Read The Contract. And have a lawyer read it.

Okay, so that’s all I’m gonna say on the topic. Please feel free to prove me wrong. But don’t expect me to join you.

Today’s Writing

I pecked around a little bit, but no fiction writing today.

I think my numbers are so low for August that I subconsciously decided to take care of a lot of admin stuff instead of worrying about writing. So I did the switchover from Smashwords to D2D, I’ve kept up this blog and my other main blog, and some other non-fiction writing stuff.

Also, although I stand ZERO practical chance of getting anywhere near my 1,000,000 word goal for the year, I’m past 450,000 published words of fiction right now since January 1 of this year, and that ain’t bad.

Fiction Words: XXXX

Writing of Book 9 of the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 3213 words. Total words to date….. 3213 words
Day 2…… 1046 words. Total words to date….. 4259 words
Day 3…… 1858 words. Total words to date….. 6117 words
Day 4…… 1023 words. Total words to date….. 7140 words
Day 5…… 1587 words. Total words to date….. 8327 words
Day 6…… X943 words. Total words to date….. 9270 words
Day 7…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words

Total fiction words for the month…………… 20501
Total fiction words for the year……………… 462901

The Journal, Thursday, 8/27

The Day
Rolled out a little after 2 this morning again.

The hits just keep on comin’. First, I don’t feel well. Had a short, unsuccessful walk punctuated by the fear that a high-velocity rainstorm was going to notice me and come my way.

Back to the house, and pretty much blah ever since.

Second, what I wrote in your Topic of the Night below.

I won’t be doing any writing today, other than this stuff and revisiting a magic realism story I (Gervasio) wrote a long time ago. It’s called “Carmen, Whose Face Was Cracked” and it’s a beautiful story in the ethereal sense.

I’ll post it as the story of the week for this week. So it will be up on Sunday at the site and posted by MailChimp on Monday morning.

Oh, if you’re in the mood to listen to advice from me, I recommend you check Dean’s blog (DeanWesleySmith.com) over the next several days. He’s gearing up to put up, as a series of FREE freakin’ blog posts, a nonfiction book he’s writing on Heinlein’s Rules. I spent $75 on the video lectures, and it was literally the best $75 investment I’ve ever made. EVER. Go, get it free.

Topic of the Night: DO NOT GO EXCLUSIVE, ESPECIALLY TO AMAZON KDP SELECT OR AMAZON “SCOUT”

Don’t do it. Just don’t.

Tell you what. If you want to give someone all rights to your books in exchange for half the royalties, give them to me. Sign a contract giving me all electronic rights and I’ll be sure you get half the royalties.

Of course, I don’t have to do ANYthing except put your books out there on the market and wait for my 50% to roll in. And that’s just find and dandy with you, right?

Sounds nuts, doesn’t it? And at least you know me.

But that’s exactly what Amazon is asking you to do now.

You sign over the rights to your book for FIVE YEARS and they’ll give you a pissy, paltry “advance” of $1500 and then FIFTY percent of the royalties.

I’m not kidding.

Don’t do that. Don’t. It’s stupid. And you can’t feign ignorance, ’cause I just told you about it.

Okay, here’s what happened: A writer friend turned me on to Amazon’s new Scout program and asked what I thought.

In this Scout program thing, according to the writer, Amazon requires the author to “turn over all electronic rights for a period of five years. And then -”

What’s that? Sorry, I stopped listening.

Listen. To. Me.

Don’t. Be. Stupid.

ANY time ANY entity REQUIRES (or even asks or even suggests or even hints that) you, the author, turn over ALL RIGHTS (electronic or otherwise), the only “turn” you should do is turn on your heel and walk away.

Don’t even grace them with an answer.

Seriously, such a ludicrous offer doesn’t deserve a response.

And if you DO choose to respond, the word you’re looking for is NO.

Personally, I would use a two-word phrase. The second half of that phrase would be either a resounding NO or an equally loud “YOU.” The first half of it would consist of the acronym for unlawful carnal knowledge, which is what anyone who asks you to turn over all rights to a piece of work is trying to force upon you.

Understand?

Exclusivity is BAD. Exclusivity in which the book store (and that’s all Amazon is, a book store) OWNS YOUR RIGHTS is roughly a thousand times worse.

Don’t email telling me Amazon is a publisher. They aren’t. And they aren’t a distributor. They’re a book store. Nothing more.

And their stupid Scout program? Listen. If it wasn’t good for THEM, they wouldn’t be doing it. Duh.

All of my books and short stories are available on Amazon (a book store).

They’re also available worldwide through Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Inktera, Oyster, Scribd, Tolino,Baker & Taylor Blio, txtr, Library Direct, Baker-Taylor Axis360, OverDrive and Flipkart until a couple days ago. And they’re also available through subsidiaries of many of those companies. And I’m always looking for new sales venues to add.

DON’T GO EXCLUSIVE.

There. Forewarned is forearmed. Now go do whatever you want. Just PLEASE don’t tell me about it.

Today’s Writing
No fiction writing today.
Fiction Words: XXXX

Writing of Book 9 of the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 3213 words. Total words to date….. 3213 words
Day 2…… 1046 words. Total words to date….. 4259 words
Day 3…… 1858 words. Total words to date….. 6117 words
Day 4…… 1023 words. Total words to date….. 7140 words
Day 5…… 1587 words. Total words to date….. 8327 words
Day 6…… X943 words. Total words to date….. 9270 words
Day 7…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words

Total fiction words for the month…………… 20501
Total fiction words for the year……………… 462901

The Journal, Wednesday, 8/26

The Day
Rolled out a little after 2 this morning. Coffee and emails to wake up, and then a shocker from the Smashwords blog.

Mark Coker has decided to end his association with Flipkart, the small ebook retailer in India. That effectively hands Amazon a monopoly in distributing ebooks on that continent.

Although I understand why he’s doing it, I don’t like that even in the title of his post he seems to blame Amazon. Regardless of the circumstances, this was still his own decision. He didn’t have to completely abandon the continent to Amazon. You can read the blog post here.

This is terrible news for indie authors. Competition is ALWAYS better. Your ebooks are an investment. Make them available in as many markets as you can.

Seriously, DON’T go exclusive with any one retailer. If you do, you’re only feeding the beast that will eventually enslave and/or devour you. Amazon has already started paying KDP Select authors less than other retailers pay them. Don’t give ANYONE leverage or control over your work.

I was planning to do a little early morning writing and even get in a walk today. Uhh, no. In light of this news I’ve decided to switch all of my major publication (novels, novella, short story collections) from Smashwords to Draft2Digital for distribution. So I’ll be doing that today.

D2D will now handle distribution of my titles to all the major booksellers, including Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Inktera, Oyster, Scribd, and Tolino. Smashwords will still distribute those only to library outlets and something called OverDrive. (I’ve garnered a total of 4 sales through these outlets since September 2011 so I’m not overly worried about it.)

Why do I suspect this will supplant writing new original fiction for the day? Because it entails moving nineteen publications, all but one of which are collections. I’ve also decided I’m going to rebrand each collection under my own name (except the two magic realism collections).

Rebranding means revising the cover or creating a new one. Either way, the rebranding part will take only about ten minutes per title.

But I also have to create new front and back matter. (This is NOT a requirement of D2D. It’s my own requirement of myself because I want my books to look good.) I also have to reformat each book, double check to make sure the new copied/pasted front and backmatter on each one reads right, etc., then upload each title to D2D.

So I’m expecting to be working on this through most or all of today, and probably more on another day. Or two. (grin) That’s all right. It’s an investment. Once it’s done, it’s done.

Okay, my novels and novella were already over there. Today I put up nine of my collections. all of the ten-story collections plus a few others. I also rebranded 14 covers. No more Eric or Nick on collections.

Well, with only most of the day over, I thought I might write for awhile. But I went and talked with Wes a bit and even he agreed that my brain’s too tired to ride with him today.

I’ll do the topic of the night, and then I’m gonna call it an early day.

Topic of the Night: Be Organized
With what I wrote above about switching my books over to Draft2Digital, you can see the importance of being organized.

In the folder for each book, I had the cover (the raw product so it was easy to change for those I rebranded) as well as several sizes of the old finished cover. I kept the old finished covers as well as one size (2000 x 3000 pixels) of the new covers. I’ll make a smaller version soon so I can replace some of the ones on my website too.

I also had a Smashwords edition version of each book, plus a “general” version in each folder. Opening the general version and using Save-As made it a relative breeze to format a new verson for D2D with the new front and back matter I came up with for my D2D books.

Now again, THEY DON’T REQUIRE any particular format, but I like my work to look good and I like it all to look similar from one book to another. So I made all of the books I shipped to them look the same.

In the folder for each book I also thought I had a “promo” document. That’s just a simple text document that contains the title of the work, the short and long descriptions, and the Internet search terms. Having that little text document made it easy to just copy/paste the information for each book.

Of course, that was missing from a few folders. Huge difference. When I had that little document, it saved about a half-hour over the time I had to spend on one book when I didn’t have it.

You get the idea.

Now maybe you think you won’t ever need this level of organization.

Back when I started with Smashwords, I thought they were the be-all, end-all of ebook distribution. Now, four years later, I’m switching everything over to a new distributor, and in the future I might have to again.

So I’m just sayin’, when time is at a premium, it’s better to do the Boy Scout thing and Be Prepared.

If you have any questions about any of this, I’d be happy to answer them for you. Please ask in the comments section so others can see the Q & A.

Today’s Writing
No fiction writing today.
Fiction Words: XXXX

Writing of Book 9 of the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 3213 words. Total words to date….. 3213 words
Day 2…… 1046 words. Total words to date….. 4259 words
Day 3…… 1858 words. Total words to date….. 6117 words
Day 4…… 1023 words. Total words to date….. 7140 words
Day 5…… 1587 words. Total words to date….. 8327 words
Day 6…… X943 words. Total words to date….. 9270 words
Day 7…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words

Total fiction words for the month…………… 20501
Total fiction words for the year……………… 462901

A Sample of My Daily Journal

Hi Folks,

This will be an extra blog post. On 1 September I’ll be back to posting nuts and bolts how-to information for writing.

I’ve come to see my daily journal, the other major blog post from this site, as eminently more important than this one.

In it, I outline my day (the day of a professional writer) and write a Topic of the Night on most nights. I also generally pass along whatever important tidbits I can about the writing life and the publishing business in this wonderful new world of opportunity for indie publishers.

And then toward the end of the daily journal, I let you see exactly what I’ve accomplished (or not) in writing that day.

I wanted to give everyone a sample of that blog. So below is my post from a few days ago. If you like what you see, I hope you’ll sign up for that blog. To do so, click The Daily Journal, either here or in the link on the right side of the header on the website. Then follow the directions.

You can still keep your subscription to this blog too, but if one or the other goes away eventually, it will be this one.

Here’s the sample. This is actually from the daily journal on Saturday, August 22. Enjoy.

The Day

Rolled out at 3 this morning. Checked email, got my coffee and had to go run off a bunch of coyotes. Ugh.
No walk again today. Just writing again today.

Listen, if you’re publishing your own stuff through your own publishing company, check out https://draft2digital.com/.

I wrote a new short story today. When I went to publish it to Smashwords, for the first time EVER (153 books) my story didn’t convert to any format at Smashwords. I nuked it, tried again, and it still didn’t convert, which tells me it pretty much has to be their problem. So I sent them an email to that effect.

Then I popped over to D2D. I’d heard about it before, but hadn’t tried it. All within about a half-hour, I signed up for an account, uploaded my book and cover, and it was published in PDF, .mobi (Kindle) and .epub (everything else). It was just that quick.

And the quality is incredible.

In my opinion, you still need to do some basic formatting (or have it done) but the service itself is great.
D2D does not have their own online store, but they do distribute to Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Inktera, Scribd, Tolino, and Oyster. I’m going with them from now on for those venues.

I’ll also continue to publish with Amazon KDP (but not Select, not exclusively) and with Smashwords mostly for their online store.

Now for a break, then back to writing.

Topic of the Night: Write What Scares You

Stephen King advises writers to “write what scares you.” Sounds right to me.

Now I don’t mean like “they’re only zombies so I know it isn’t real” scary. I mean you’re tied up so you can’t intervene, your eyelids are sliced off so you can’t close your eyes, and you’re forced to watch as an intruder uses garden shears to lop off the leg, just above the ankle, of a two year old child.

(See? I almost wrote “your” two year old child, but somehow that was even worse.)

The intruder looks at you, sneers, then turns back to the baby again.

The child, wide eyed, screaming, automatically reaches down to grab the stump and— Oh no! No! Snip! Her little hand and arm are gone halfway to the elbow.

Wider eyes. Wider mouth. Louder screams. Just when you thought louder screams weren’t possible.

You don’t have to imagine the child’s eyes stretched wide in disbelieving horror. You can see them, can’t you? And you don’t have to imagine the screams either, do you?

Y’know those coyotes I mentioned before? I have nightmares sometimes about a song dog carrying off my baby girl. Ugh. Following King’s advice, I wrote a very similar scene in a short story called “A Natural Study of the Scream.”

Now I’m just enough of a scientist that I noticed, writing that scene in that story created an odd, almost paradoxical sensation. First, it was easy to write. I would have thought it would be difficult to put on paper, but it wasn’t. It was easy. The writing almost raced away without me.

But it also left me trembling, physically. I was upset to the point that I had to pour a couple fingers of Jameson’s to sooth it away. That was the first drink of alcohol I’d had in a very long time.
It was an experience. One I both dread and will most definitely repeat.

Because that’s good writing.

Today’s Writing

Wrote for a while on Book 9, still struggling with tight stuff and otherwise getting started. Then I wrote the first new story of my challenge. It will publish under the Free Short Story of the Week tab on Monday morning. Felt good to create a new story and a new cover. And the story was FUN. Read it. You’ll like it. (grin)

Fiction Words: XXXX

Writing of “Pete and Repeat” (short story of the week)
Day 1…… 1662 words. Total words to date….. 1662 words (done)

Writing of Book 9 of the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 3213 words. Total words to date….. 3213 words
Day 2…… 1046 words. Total words to date….. 4259 words
Day 3…… 1858 words. Total words to date….. 6117 words
Day 4…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words

Total fiction words for the month…………… 15686
Total fiction words for the year……………… 458086

Oh, by the way, I’m doing a new promo thing. I’ve set the price of Book 1 of the Wes Crowley saga at FREE on Smashwords. You can download ANY electronic format there and it costs you nothing.

If you’ve been wondering about this story that’s pushed me through eight books and into the ninth, I urge you to go check it out. You can get it here.

(For Kindle, download .mobi. For other e-readers, download .epub. You can also download PDF. If you read it and like it, consider leaving a review.)

The Journal, Tuesday, 8/25

The Day
Thanks to storms disrupting the clock at the head of my bed, I rolled out at 1:30 this morning, but thinking it was 2:45. So much for battery backups in the clock. (I never use an alarm, but have the clock there so I can see what time it is when I get up.)

Despite the alleged battery backup, when it turns off, the clock reverts to midnight and starts keeping time from there. So the best it can do is tell you how long it’s been working since the last time the power went off.

Wow. Remember back when stuff actually worked as advertised?

Anyway, it’s all good. I have an appointment with the eye doc this morning at 9:20 in Safford, so leaving here about 7:30 to head that way. My eyes will be dilated and all that, so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to write again today. So it’s good that I’m up a little early.

I’ve had my coffee, checked email and all that, so now I’m gonna make a run at the novel.

Read back over some of what I’d already written and allowed myself to touch it here and there (in creative mind) and ended a session with a grand total of 943 words. Woohoo. Still, at least the novel’s moving forward. Well, inching forward.

I was distracted by a notification regarding an update on one of the websites I manage. That got me started in update mode and I spent the next two hours making sure all the updates were done. Sigh.

Then one more major disruption cropped up, so I’m setting the novel aside at least until after my appointment. I have to get ready to leave soon, so I’m gonna skip down and write the Topic of the Night now.
Then we’ll see what happens with writing when I get back and my pupils get back to their normal size.

UPDATE: Okay, all is well with the eyes for the next year when they’ll talk with me about Cadillacs or something like that. I’m scheduled for a hearing test too. Anyway, back in Dear Old Saint David and my pupils are still HUGE. Okay, plus I’m basically just feeling lazy.

So I’m gonna call today a day. Hey, life happens. So no more writing for today other than the little I got done and reported earlier. Got a couple great ideas for stories while I was up there this morning though. So all in all, a great day.

Topic of the Night: Setting Realistic Writing Goals
It’s important to set goals with your writing. I mean, if you’re serious, if you really want to write, nothing else will help quite as much getting you there as setting good, realistic goals.

And by realistic, I mean something you know you can achieve.

Most people who set goals in other activities will tell you that a good goal should make you reach. That isn’t necessarily true in setting writing goals.

So what are the hallmarks of a good writing goal?

  • It should be reasonable.
  • It should automatically reset each day (or each week or each month).

What do I mean by reasonable? If you write 1,000 publishable words of fiction per hour and are able to write two hours per day but only five days per week, a reasonable daily goal would be 2,000 words per day. A reasonable weekly goal should be 10,000 words per week. If you want to fudge a bit, make it 1,500 words per day and 7,500 words per week. (That extra half hour per day makes a huge difference, doesn’t it?)

Why should a good writing goal automatically reset at a specific time?

Because “reset” means “goes back to zero.” Neither abundance nor lack is carried forward.

If your goal is to write 2,000 words per day and you write 2,438 words today, that’s wonderful. But beginning tomorrow morning, you still have to write 2,000 words. (grin)

If your goal is to write 2,000 words per day and you write only 18 words today, that’s okay because beginning tomorrow morning you still have to write 2,000 words.

But since writing 2,000 words per day is well within your capability, isn’t the goal too easy?

No. Because life happens. People happen. Distractions happen.

There will be days when you won’t be able to write for two hours.

There will be days when, even though you have the time set aside, you’ll find that your subconscious is on hiatus. On those days, nothing will come.

And there will be days when you are beset by fear and allow your conscious mind to stop you from writing. Because again, if you don’t finish, you can’t submit or publish your work and risk rejection.

Or your fear will cause you to rewrite “just this once.” Because rewriting is better than actually finishing and risking rejection.

What’s best of all about good, realistic writing goals is that they’re personal to you. Trust me, nobody else cares, except maybe a few people who support you and want to see you succeed.

If you achieve or exceed your goal, Nothing Happens except that your work is that much further along.

But if you fail to achieve your goal, guess what? Nothing Happens then either and the goal resets the next morning or the next week.

But of course, you won’t bother setting goals if you don’t intend to achieve them.

And there’s one other tool that’s a great motivator for meeting goals: The Streak.

And that will be the topic of the night for tomorrow.

I’m going to post this now. Then when I get home from my appointment, if I’m able to write anymore, etc. I’ll modify it before it actually posts through MailChimp.

So if you’re reading it on my site before 5 p.m., you might want to check back in a while.

Today’s Writing
Just a little. Less than I wanted, but more than I had when I started the day. That’s why the daily goal resets. (grin)
Fiction Words: X943

Writing of Book 9 of the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 3213 words. Total words to date….. 3213 words
Day 2…… 1046 words. Total words to date….. 4259 words
Day 3…… 1858 words. Total words to date….. 6117 words
Day 4…… 1023 words. Total words to date….. 7140 words
Day 5…… 1587 words. Total words to date….. 8327 words
Day 6…… X943 words. Total words to date….. 9270 words

Total fiction words for the month…………… 20501
Total fiction words for the year……………… 462901

The Journal, Monday, 8/24

The Day

Got up closer to 3:30 this morning. Still dragging a bit.

Checked email, got my coffee and went to check out Dean’s site. I haven’t been there for a few days. It’s almost better that way because when I go late, I read the comments too. Sometimes there’s some good stuff there.

Reading Dean’s stuff took an hour, almost exactly. Worthwhile, though. I found out in the comments section that we both use the same word counts to describe certain story types. Sort of vindication for me.

Here they are:

Mine and Dean’s: To 10,000 words is a short story, to 25,000 words is a novella, to 40,000 is a short novel, and above that is a novel.

In case you’re wondering, I also define fewer than 100 words as flash fiction, fewer than 2,000 words as a short-short story, fewer than 7,000 words as a regular short story, and up to 10,000 words as a long short story (or novellette).

Of course, those are my own definitions for my own use in categorizing and pricing my work.

No matter how you categorize your own work, it’s cool that we who are not ignorant of this wonderful new world of publishing no longer have to bow before traditional publishing and their mandatory word/page counts and price points. (grin)

I added my novella, A Little Time, to my new distributor over at Draft2Digital.

Ate lunch, and back to writing for a bit. Sort of.

Oh, by the way, I’m doing a new promo thing. I’ve set the price of Book 1 of the Wes Crowley saga at FREE on Smashwords. You can download ANY electronic format there and it costs you nothing. If you’ve been wondering about this story that’s pushed me through eight books and into the ninth, I urge you to go check it out. You can get it here.

(For Kindle, download .mobi. For other e-readers, download .epub. You can also download PDF. If you read it and like it, consider leaving a review.)

Topic of the Night: The Conscious Mind and the Fear of Rejection
I said awhile back I’d make this a topic of the night. It’s probably overdue for many of you. If so, don’t feel bad. A year ago it was overdue for me. And the thing is, even after you beat the fear back, it can show up again and again. It’s an ongoing battle.

First, the role of your conscious mind—

Your conscious mind exists to gather information and to protect you. That’s it. Nothing else.

In its role as a gatherer of information, it’s excellent. Then the information that makes sense to you and is useful to you is absorbed by your subconscious mind. After that happens, it’s yours, permanently. (This is why you don’t have to “remember” how to form a capital letter A every time you sit down to write, or to put a period at the end of a declarative sentence.)

In its role to protect you, though, your conscious mind is a pain in whatever part of the anatomy you’d care to denigrate.

Your conscious mind is what keeps you, a writer, from actually putting words on the page. It’s protecting you. If you only talk about writing but never actually put words on a page, you never have to worry about anyone rejecting your work.

I deal with this problem pretty much every day to one degree or another. Even after all the stuff I’ve written.

Many would-be writers say they’d really like to write but they can’t because

  • they don’t have time
  • they don’t have a quiet place
  • they don’t have the right equipment
  • they have to do something for someone
  • and so on.

And many more finally actually sit down to write and then, just as they put their fingers on the keyboard, they

  • have to feed the cat (dog)
  • have to make coffee
  • have to check email (Facebook, other social media)
  • have to do the dishes from the night before
  • and so on.

The thing is, it’s much easier to “intend” to write than it is to write.

It’s much easier to do research or look for cover art or take a trip to your favorite writer’s haunts to absorb his/her “spirit” than it is to sit down and actually write.

In other words, it’s easier to let the fear win.

Not everyone has the problems I listed above. Some would-be writers don’t write because they already KNOW

  • their writing won’t be any good anyway
  • they can’t possibly write as much as Harvey does (or Dean does or someone else does)
  • the story they want to write has already been done (so have ALL of them)
  • the sun came up
  • the wind’s blowing
  • and so on.

Yeah, I know those last couple were ludicrous, but so were the rest of them. Really.

Now, the best way I’ve found to get over the fear comes in two parts:

Part One: Ahere to Heinlein’s Rules. Find them here or click the new link on the Free Downloads page. I copied a three-part presentation into one document, so this is Heinlein’s Rules, annotated.

Part Two: Set realistic goals.

And that will be the topic of the night for tomorrow. Or maybe the next day.

Today’s Writing
No new writing today. The day just got away from me. That’s why the daily goal resets. (grin)
Fiction Words: XXXX

Writing of Book 9 of the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 3213 words. Total words to date….. 3213 words
Day 2…… 1046 words. Total words to date….. 4259 words
Day 3…… 1858 words. Total words to date….. 6117 words
Day 4…… 1023 words. Total words to date….. 7140 words
Day 5…… 1587 words. Total words to date….. 8327 words
Day 6…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXX words

Total fiction words for the month…………… 19558
Total fiction words for the year……………… 461958