The Journal, Sunday, 5/21

Hey Folks,

Well, I decided early this isn’t going to be a writing day today either. I have to get my office situation settled out. Worked on that the better part of the day and think it’s finally there.

Tomorrow I’ll dive back into the novel. It’s been going great. No problems at all, and my favorite dictum, “just write the next sentence,” is easy on this one.

So I’ll probably blow through a bunch of it tomorrow. One proviso: tomorrow the kid calls Job Corps again, and if they say come on down, well, that’ll take priority. But otherwise it’s writing all the way.

Topic: Ask Me Stuff

If you need help with your writing, and if you think I can help, please feel free to ask. You can ask as a comment or in a private email. Either way is fine.

As I wrote to a friend earlier today, I’ve long believed the Question is the most important grouping of words.

Not only (or even) because questions lead to answers, but because they evoke thought. In both the questioner and the respondent.

When I’m asked a question about writing, I try to provide the best response I’m able to give at the time (at my current level of skill).

But to do that, I have to think. It’s impossible to know anyone else’s situation, of course, regarding their writing process or otherwise.

So I tell them what has worked (or is working) for me, to include anything new I’ve learned since we last talked.

But during that process, I also reinforce within myself the things I’m doing and/or remind myself of things I should be doing.

I’m pretty sure that’s why “they” say the easiest way to learn something is to teach it. I don’t know whether it’s the easiest way, but it’s definitely the best way.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3. Didn’t really want to, but it felt like it was time (if that makes sense) so I did.

Screwed off the first couple of hours, then got busy on my office. That’s one of the reasons for all the slow starts recently. Too distracted by the desire to fix the office.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Kind of interesting what Dean’s doing with his running. If you’re interested in running. Or you might be able to adapt it to your writing. See http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/started-running-finally/.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 400 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 400

Writing of A Fresh Kill (tentative title, novel)

Day 1…… 2751 words. Total words to date…… 2751
Day 2…… 2986 words. Total words to date…… 5737
Day 3…… 2961 words. Total words to date…… 8698
Day 4…… 2612 words. Total words to date…… 11310
Day 5…… 2205 words. Total words to date…… 13515
Day 6…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 28929
Total fiction words for the year………… 276523
Total nonfiction words for the month… 10580
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 85270

Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 361793

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 543 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 4 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 24
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 167

The Journal, Thursday, 5/18

Hey Folks,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Topic: Bad Writing Habits Come in Degrees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3:30.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

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

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

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

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

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

Writing of A Fresh Kill (tentative title, novel)

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

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

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

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

The Journal, Tuesday, 5/9

Hey Folks,

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

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

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

Topic: Epiphanies and Stuff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In part of his note to me, he wrote

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

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

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

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

And the epiphany?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, and Writing

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

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

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

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

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

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

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

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

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

Writing of The Storm (tentative title, novel)

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

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

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

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

The Journal, Wednesday, 5/3

Hey Folks,

Topic: More on the Challenge

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

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

That presents a minor problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Administrative Note, or Shameless Begging

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

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

Today, and Writing

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

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

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

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

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

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

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

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

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

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

Writing of The Storm (tentative title, novel)

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

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

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

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

The Journal, Saturday, 4/22

Hey Folks,

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

***

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

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

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

Topic: What Is Possible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, and Writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

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

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

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

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

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

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

The Journal, Friday, 4/21

Hey Folks,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Topic: Shut Up, Conscious Mind!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The one thing I wasn’t doing was writing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, and Writing

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

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

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

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

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

9:20 back to the Hovel and the novel.

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

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

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

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

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

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

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

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

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

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

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

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

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

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

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

The Journal, Tuesday, 4/18

Hey Folks,

Well, yesterday I reported finishing a short story titled “Beats All.”

Yesterday early evening I read it aloud to my wife. At the end, I frowned. “This sounds like the beginning of a novel, doesn’t it?”

(I’ve long known and preached the value of reading aloud. Yet I’m still amazed at how valuable it really is.)

She said, “Yes. It ended, but it isn’t finished.”

Okay. Ugh. Now I have two novels going concurrently. And they’re in the same world and feature some of the same characters.

The Platinum Blond Perturbance will be the third Detective Galecki novel and it’s told from his POV.

Beats All features Galecki and another detective, but it’s told from the POV of a minor criminal.

Before you ask whether I can combine these, this is not a mix-and-match situation. Each of these recent novels have been first-person single-POV efforts, something I’m practicing.

I only jumped ahead to “finish” Beats All yesterday because I was certain it was going to be a short story.

I’ve already removed it from the lineup below (I clean up the Notepad version of this Journal as my last act of business each day) so I won’t add it back until I start writing it again.

I still think it works as a short story. Sometime today I’ll put together a cover for it and get it out to donors.

Then it’s back to The Platinum Blond Perturbance.

Topic: The Differences Between Amateurs and Professionals

Really, this isn’t a topic so much as a tease. To read the whole post (it isn’t mine), please visit https://medium.com/the-mission/the-7-differences-between-professionals-and-amateurs-f8efc4840861.

Here are the highlights:

1. Amateurs wait for clarity. Pros take action.

2. Amateurs want to arrive. Pros want to get better.

3. Amateurs practice as much as they have to. Pros never stop.

4. Amateurs leap for their dreams. Pros build a bridge.

5. Amateurs fear failure. Pros crave it.

6. Amateurs build a skill. Pros build a portfolio.

7. Amateurs want to be noticed. Pros want to be remembered.

A lot of gems to be mined in Jeff Goins’ article. I hope you’ll visit.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out a little after 2. Routine stuff for the first hour or so, then wrote much of what’s above this.

At 4 I decided to get the admin stuff out of the way. I created a cover for “Beats All You Ever Saw,” then formatted and uploaded it to D2D and Amazon.

Finally I posted it to the Free Story page on my website, then emailed the .mobi copy to my donors. All of that took about an hour and a half.

Around 6:30 I signed up for a free Ko-Fi account. It’s yet one more place where visitors to the site can make a donation or “Buy Me A Coffee” if they want. For an example, see my page at https://ko-fi.com/A37113T2.

Finally around 9 I started cycling through the novel, getting it back into my head. I’m not worrying about word count today. I just want to get back into it and see where it goes from there.

Well, I’ll call this a good day, despite writing just over 2000 new words on the day. I guess I’m easing back into this one, but I’m still having a blast.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

From yesterday, via The Passive Voice, “The 7 Differences Between Professionals and Amateurs” at https://medium.com/the-mission/the-7-differences-between-professionals-and-amateurs-f8efc4840861.

Want to give folks a chance to buy you a coffee? Get your free Ko-Fi account at https://ko-fi.com/. (Thanks to Scott Gordon. See his site at http://segordon.blogspot.com.)

At Dean’s, “Story Seventeen” http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-seventeen/.

Fiction Words: 2201
Nonfiction Words: 610 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2811

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… 2201 words. Total words to date…… 7582

Total fiction words for the month……… 19491
Total fiction words for the year………… 228047
Total nonfiction words for the month… 9510
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 66850

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 294897

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 511 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels

The Journal, Monday, 4/17

Hey Folks,

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

Topic: A Bit More on Goals, and Elephants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As I wrote in my comment

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

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

So consider this topic a cautionary tip.

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

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

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

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

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

Or look at it like this:

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

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

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

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

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

I won’t risk it.

Today, and Writing

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

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

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

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

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

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

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

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

Writing of “Beats All” (short story)

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

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

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

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

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

The Journal, Wednesday, 4/12

Hey Folks,

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

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

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

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

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

Topic: Streams of Income

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But to the topic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Collect your short stories. Collect your novels. Period.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, and Writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

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

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

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

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

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

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

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

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

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

The Journal, Sunday, 4/9

Hey Folks,

I hope you check out my site from time to time, especially the left sidebar under Writers’ Resources.

This morning I needed a refresher (and ready reference) for the police 10-codes. So I found a reference and added a link under “A-Police 10-Codes.”

Anyway, check that sidebar now and then. There’s a lot of good stuff there.

* * *

Well, as it turned out I took most of the day off. During that time I went to the store. Then when I got back I took the driver’s side seat out of my Tacoma, turned it upside down in the bed so I could get at the seat adjustment mechanism, and fixed it so it will work, then reinstalled it.

I also got a haircut (lost about five pounds).

Then, just as I was about to go back to my novel, I got my fanny handed to me by an editing client. This writer thought I “changed [his or her] work” by adding a few “He said” (6 of them) and “She said” (8 of them) to the front of dialogue in places where I couldn’t tell which character was speaking.

Before I could do that, of course, during the edit I had to read back and forth and figure out who was speaking. Those little tag lines are gold to most readers, but apparently not to this particular writer.

Okay, shrug, so now I know. If I work with this person again, I won’t bother to figure out who’s speaking and add “He said” or “She said.” I’ll just add a comment like “Who’s saying this?” and let the writer go back and figure out who’s speaking.

Live and learn, eh?

* * *

The bigger workshop/seminar I’m hoping to put together will happen or not.

In the meantime, I’m developing a one-day intensive on “Adding Depth to Your Writing.” This stuff is invaluable.

Subtopics will include Depth/Setting, Openings (how to pull the reader into the story), and Grounding the Reader (how to keep him in the story). I’ll also talk about Character Description. Not creating them, but allowing your reader to know them.

I might also talk about Cliffhangers (to establish physical or emotional tension and force the reader to turn the page) and Hooks (keep the reader reading after he turns the page).

I’m not taking signups yet, but letting you guys know first. When I come up with a date and place, I’ll let you know.

Topic: Patience Is a Virtue

Awhile back I mentioned it’s good to practice something new, some new technique you’ve learned, in each new story.

Over the past several novels, I’ve become very good at grounding the reader. I accomplish that primarily by providing intimate details regarding the setting and the people in it.

But as you know if you’re following this Journal, I do a lot of cycling.

Sometimes I cycle back to insert something the characters spring on me later in the story.

For example, say Aunt Marge suddenly pulls a .32 caliber revolver out of her house dress and shoots an intruder in Chapter 26.

If that happens, I cycle back to when she first put on the house dress, say back in Chapter 18, and allow her to take the revolver from her night stand and slip it into the pocket of her house dress.

This accomplishes two things:

One, it negates the “miracle” of the revolver suddenly appearing just when it’s needed.

Two, it makes the reader feel the writer is a genius. After all, how did the writer know, way back in Chapter 18, that our dear Aunt Marge would need that revolver in Chapter 26?

Cycling will remain an invaluable aid for precisely those two reasons.

However, most of the time when I’ve cycled back in my last several novels, I did so because I got in too big a hurry. I rushed the characters through the scenes, especially action scenes, and thereby missed much that they were trying to add.

Like how the setting looked, smelled, tasted, felt and sounded. And the POV character’s opinion of all that.

So most of the time, I was cycling back to slow myself down and let the characters add what was necessary to both ground the reader in the scene and to give the story depth.

So in this novel, the “new” technique I’m practicing is adding that depth and grounding the reader as I go.

I’ll still cycle back at the beginning of every session. But I expect I’ll be adding fewer words to older scenes and writing a lot more words in new scenes.

In other words, I’m taking my time. I’m still hitting around a thousand words an hour, but they’re more substantive words. Words that aren’t rushed and don’t skimp on necessary details.

In still other words, I’m practicing patience as I write. I understand it’s a virtue. I just wish it would hurry up and get here. (grin)

Today, and Writing

Rolled out a little after 3, made coffee and jumped into email and Facebook. I did a little more editing and offered some instruction, then headed to the Hovel at around 6:30.

A good first session, a combination of cycling and writing new stuff. Then a walk at around 7:30.

8:15, back to the hovel for another session, then I wrote the topic above.

9:20, to the house to let them know I’m still alive.

Lousy day for writing. I never got back to the novel after 9:20. Too much other stuff happening, but I plan to hit the ground running in the morning.

See you then.

Of Interest

Over at Dean’s place, a pretty good post on his short story challenge and some other stuff. See “Story Number Eight…” http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-number-eight/.

Fiction Words: 1864
Nonfiction Words: 960 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2824

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245

Total fiction words for the month……… 104340
Total fiction words for the year………… 218990
Total nonfiction words for the month… 4440
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 61780

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 280770