The Journal, Sunday, 6/18

Hey Folks,

Okay, first, Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. I hope you have a great day. I’m sending this out early, and then I plan to have a good day myself.

Topic: Website Stuff

This morning I worked to revise the postings on my new Writing in Public blog at hstanbrough.com.

I deleted the old email plugin and added a new one. Then I scheduled Jobs Like That (the novella) to repost in several parts.

It should go out every two hours from 9 a.m. this morning through 11 p.m. tonight. Tomorrow it will resume at 7 a.m. again, and the final post will go out at 5 p.m. tomorrow.

The “posts” page on the site is The Stories.

Pretty much any plugin will send an email when a new post happens. (JetPack comes to mind.)

But this one is supposed to send an email each time a new post happens per category.

Subscribers can subscribe to one or more categories.

So two or five or twenty writers can post scenes from their own short stories in their own category. Subscribers will receive emails only for the categories to which they’re subscribed.
But all from the same site. Amazing.

If the plugin works (fingers crossed), I’ll report that here in case any of you ever need to try something like this.

And when I’ve ironed out the bugs, I hope some of you will join me.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out really late this morning. I’ll correct that very soon. Nonwriting day today. I’ll be watching posts from Writing in Public. With any luck, there will also be a baseball game on somewhere.

If I get to do any fiction writing, I’ll report that in tomorrow’s Journal.

See you then.

Of Interest

Nothing that I saw.

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

Writing of

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

Total fiction words for the month……… 45050
Total fiction words for the year………… 337957
Total nonfiction words for the month… 11550
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 1001530
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 439487

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 570 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels or novellas)………………… 7 novels or novellas
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 176

The Journal, Friday, 6/16

Hey Folks,

I’m adding this note late: I’ve decided to serialize my novella, Jobs Like That, over on the Writing in Public website at http://hstanbrough.com. If you’d like to receive an email each time a new installment is posted, drop by there and sign up for a free subscription. This thing is heavy on detail and grounding the reader in the scene. For genres, it’s heavy on action-adventure with a considerable chunk of romance tossed in.

Wow. When I got up, I started almost immediately working on the Writing in Public website. I enjoy doing that. It’s kind of a hobby. Now if I can figure out the new subscription plugin.

Anyway, I got so wrapped up in doing that, I almost decided this would be a nonwriting day. That will happen before too long, but I’d like to finish the novel first.

***

Sometimes I think I’ll never learn.

Y’know all that guff about the story slowing down, me taking a wrong turn, all of that?

Nope.

I tried to continue the story past the natural ending. That’s all it was. More on that below.

I started cycling through today, just finishing off what I did yesterday, and the ending flashed through, crystal clear. It was as if the characters were lined up in the back of my mind, their hands on their hips, all of them frowing and mouthing, “What are you doing, Harvey? Stop it!”

And here I am with another finished novella. That and a reminder that every book writes differently.

Revising Goals

Another realization came over me this morning. It’s been a day of realizations.

I set a goal at the beginning of the year to write at least one novel per month and to write 15 on the year.

Today that slapped me in the face. Hard.

The thought actually crossed my mind that I should “expand” my current WIP, which finished itself today, so it would be a novel.

But I don’t like that. It adds pressure, and it’s unnecessary. Plus, it would lead me to force something on my characters and my storylines, and I just don’t want to do that.

So I’m revising my goal instead. In fact, I think I mentioned this awhile back, but I’m not sure. Anyway, I’m doing it now.

I will write at least one long work per month (novel or novella) and 15 on the year. What the hey? It’s my goal anyway, right?

Today, and Writing

Worked on the new Writing in Public website for awhile this morning (a few hours). Finally to the Hovel at 8 a.m. and to the novel around 8:30.

So my writing day was over early, at around 11. Then putting the water on the yard, etc.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “The Magic Bakery: An Epilog” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-magic-bakery-an-epilog/. And I do recommend checking back and reading the comments on recent earlier posts.

Just as a little addendum to my post a couple days ago on word usage, there’s “The Bell Tolls for ‘Whom’” at http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/06/the-bell-tolls-for-whom/. Such fun!

And one more, again via The Passive Voice: “There’s No Such Thing As A Self-Published Author.” Despite her foolish and faulty claim (“The term implies that a person can successfully publish a book all alone, and that’s simply not true.), the author then sets that aside with “Creating a digital book today is rarely done by one person all alone.”

Um, “rarely” is not the same as “never” and it isn’t the same as “can’t.” But if that weren’t enough, the author (Beth Bacon) then dismisses herself as a professional when she writes that “…we perpetuate the myth that one person can do it all by themselves.” I mean, wow. Anyway, you can read the whole thing at http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2017/theres-no-such-thing-as-a-self-published-author/.

Fiction Words: 1378
Nonfiction Words: 400 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1778

Writing of Jobs Like That (June novella)

Day 1…… 2248 words. Total words to date…… 4925
Day 2…… 0505 words. Total words to date…… 5430
Day 3…… 1204 words. Total words to date…… 6634
Day 4…… 1535 words. Total words to date…… 8169
Day 5…… 2825 words. Total words to date…… 10994
Day 6…… 1631 words. Total words to date…… 12625
Day 7…… 3462 words. Total words to date…… 16087
Day 8…… 1113 words. Total words to date…… 17200
Day 9…… 1378 words. Total words to date…… 18578 (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 45050
Total fiction words for the year………… 337957
Total nonfiction words for the month… 10850
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 100830
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 438787

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 568 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels or novellas)………………… 7 novels or novellas
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 176

The Journal, Thursday, 6/15

Hey Folks,

Well, there y’go. Half the month is almost gone already.

Kind of two topics in the post today. Read down through the “Today and Writing” section for some craziness.

Topic: More Thoughts on Challenges

I was telling someone a day or two back that any 30-day time period is still 30 days even if it doesn’t start on the first of a calendar month. Duh.

I’ve pretty much decided when I finish with the June novel, I’m going to start my story-per-day challenge again while posting each scene “in public” to my new Writing in Public website.

I hope to eventually add other writers with similar challenges into the mix. I’ll make the offer again when I find a plugin that will enable us to send subscribers an email update each time we post a new scene, vs. once a day.

In the meantime, if you have a website already and you want to start a challenge, you can do so right there. Just do it.

Especially if your website isn’t already cluttered with your past writings, lectures you’re offering and two blogs. (grin)

You could even post your updates “live” to Facebook, though I advise against it. What goes on Facebook is out there forever whether you like it or not. Putting it on my own website gives me the option of taking it down.

Today, and Writing

Started the day with coffee, email and Facebook, but then did some more work on the new Writing in Public website. I don’t want to start that yet anyway, but I want the site to be ready when I do.

To the Hovel, finally, around 10:30.

Well, I feel like the novel took a wrong turn somewhere. I’m listening to my creative subconscious, not my critical, conscious mind.

The little voice deep inside’s been nagging me over the past couple days of writing even as I wrote. That’s how I know it’s the creative subconscious.

I wrote some good stuff during that time (I think) but it went in a different direction, maybe into a different story, maybe even into a different genre. The current WIP is action-adventure, and this thing wandered off into romance or something.

Not like a romantic episode or twist, but like the story’s turning completely into a cute-meet, boy gets the girl sort of thing. Ugh. Fun enough to write, but not the same story.

Then again, this is not the typical girl who appears in a male-dominated action-adventure, so maybe she and the situation are supposed to be there. We’ll see.

So I started reading way back at the first word, allowing myself to touch the story as necessary, just very minor tweaks and corrections of inconsistencies. I have a feeling I’ll know when I hit the point where the story wandered off in the wrong direction. If it did.

Doing nothing but cycling I added around 1100 words by 2 p.m.

Then I moved up to the house and got distracted. Made some tea, fed a cat, responded to an excellent comment (see “Of Interest” below) etc. Finally back to the reading/cycling at 3.

Well, I didn’t finish the read-through today. I did learn that the part I thought I was going to cut doesn’t need to be cut. The woman involved just hasn’t shown me yet who she is.

I’ll start again tomorrow where I left off today. A little cycling and then (I hope) full steam ahead.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

For a wonderful surprise, see “The Magic Bakery: A Chapter in the Center” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-magic-bakery-a-chapter-in-the-center/.

For fun, check the comment and my response on my previous Journal post at http://harveystanbrough.com/daily-journal/the-journal-wednesday-614/. (Thanks again, Elise!)

For more fun, visit The Passive Guy’s site at http://www.thepassivevoice.com/. Some great humor there. Specifically I’m thinking of “How a Witch Cured My Writerly Envy” and “My Partner Doesn’t Use Bookmarks….”

Fiction Words: 1113
Nonfiction Words: 650 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1763

Writing of June Novel

Day 1…… 2248 words. Total words to date…… 4925
Day 2…… 0505 words. Total words to date…… 5430
Day 3…… 1204 words. Total words to date…… 6634
Day 4…… 1535 words. Total words to date…… 8169
Day 5…… 2825 words. Total words to date…… 10994
Day 6…… 1631 words. Total words to date…… 12625
Day 7…… 3462 words. Total words to date…… 16087
Day 8…… 1113 words. Total words to date…… 17200

Total fiction words for the month……… 43672
Total fiction words for the year………… 336579
Total nonfiction words for the month… 10450
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 100430
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 437009

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 567 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 5 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 176

The Journal, Tuesday, 6/13

Hey Folks,

Topic: Foiled, Sort Of, By Technology

Well, I called off the challenge I extended earlier re writing in public. Thus far I haven’t found a WordPress plug-in that will email multiple postings per day from a blog to subscribers. Much less from multiple feeds.

As my friend Robert pointed out awhile back, writing in public is still writing in public even if nobody’s being notified or watching.

And I very much enjoyed my abbreviated effort earlier this month, so I still plan to do it again soon. I’ll keep you posted in case any of you want to follow along.

(If DWS was doing this, I’d follow along avidly, if only to pick up tips on how to do it.)

Anyway, while I was looking for the aforementioned plug-in, I realized the few who signed up have their own websites as well.

From a marketing standpoint — and really, isn’t everything about marketing? — it would be better for them if they post on their own blog so any readers will already be on-site to buy their books.

I know that sounds fickle and maybe a little lazy, but the fewer times a reader has to click to buy your books, the more likely they are to buy.

I hope everybody who’s reading this will dive into a challenge of your own. And if any of you happen to find a plug-in that will do what I outlined above, please share the info.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3:30 this a.m., and probably this is the last time I’m going to mention it.

Most mornings I browse emails and Facebook while waking up with my morning coffee.

Today, like yesterday, was an exception. I worked a bit on the new website from the time I got up. About an hour into that process, I realized it wouldn’t work the way I’d hoped.

At that point I called time of death. I emailed the few participants to let them know and offer some advice, then moved on to other things.

Around 6 I headed out to get the lawnmower. Chores this morning. Cool! Took only an hour to mow front back and west yards.

Now I’m resting up a bit and working on the new website a bit. Just playing, really. Biding my time as we have an appointment around 9:30 and don’t want to start anything serious before then.

After Mona’s doc appointment (she’s better than good, healthy as a healthy horse) I hit WalMart, then bought gas, then a new gas can (the old one is severely cracked, which I found out just after I’d filled it), then home to write.

I was writing along fine from about noon, but then Job Corps called with yet more requirements. Back to hurry up and wait.

And I still have to go back to pick up Mona from work, so I’ll have a better writing day tomorrow.

See you then.

Of Interest

“The Magic Bakery: Last Chapter” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-magic-bakery-last-chapter/.

Fiction Words: 1631
Nonfiction Words: 510 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2141

Writing of June Novel

Day 1…… 2248 words. Total words to date…… 4925
Day 2…… 0505 words. Total words to date…… 5430
Day 3…… 1204 words. Total words to date…… 6634
Day 4…… 1535 words. Total words to date…… 8169
Day 5…… 2825 words. Total words to date…… 10994
Day 6…… 1631 words. Total words to date…… 12625

Total fiction words for the month……… 39097
Total fiction words for the year………… 332004
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8930
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 98910
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 430914

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 565 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 5 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 176

The Journal, Saturday, 6/10

Hey Folks,

Yesterday I outlined how “writing in public” positively affected my writing. This morning, I had an exciting idea.

You already know I’m preparing a website for my next Writing in Public challenge. It should be good to go before July rolls in.

Those who are interested in reading stories or novels as they develop will subscribe. Then each post will be emailed to them as it’s posted.

I’ve decided to open that challenge to a few other writers. Here’s the nutshell:

  • Basically, you can write whatever you like and post as often as you like.
  • You’ll have your own log-in information and complete control over your part of the site.
  • The parameters of your challenge are completely up to you.
  • The one requirement is that you write “in public.” (Duh. Otherwise it would defeat the purpose of the site.)

If any of you would like to participate, email me to let me know and we’ll work out the details: harveystanbrough@gmail.com.

***

I mentioned yesterday that Bryan’s back in wait and see mode with Job Corps. We hope to hear something on Monday.

Topic: Story Starters (and some ways to come up with them)

(Note: This is excerpted from a post I wrote yesterday as an article for a regional writers’ group publication and for the Pro Writers blog. But it won’t post over there until early 2018. I didn’t include this topic in today’s nonfiction word count.)

There are two ways to start a story: with a story starter or with a story idea. Those are not quite the same thing, though they can be.

What I call a “story starter” is a seed, period.

It might be a line of dialogue or narrative that pops into your head. It might be you asking yourself “What if?”

It might be a philosophical thought or a photograph or event and the feeling or thought it evokes.

It might also be a story IDEA, the skeleton for the opening of your story.

The story idea is simpler to define. It’s a character with a problem in a setting. (The problem doesn’t have to be “the” conflict problem of the story.)

The story idea, if it occurs to you whole, can also be a story starter.

But the sole purpose of both the story starter and the story idea is to get you to the keyboard.

Or put in a slightly different way, the sole purpose of both the story starter and the story idea is to cause you to sit down, right now, put your fingers on the keyboard, and start typing.

So how do you come up with story starters?

The typical professional fiction writer would say, “How do you not?” But here are some specific ways that have worked for me.

First, prepare.

Open a new blank document or flip open your notebook and pull out a pen. I use Notepad. Don’t worry about formatting. It isn’t important right now.

Keep that document open on part of your computer screen (or on your lap). Then, in any order,

Browse Photos

Begin looking at photos one at a time.

These can be photos you took, photos you acquired from a stock agency, public domain photos or even photos you see in magazines, on Facebook or wherever.

If you choose a “found” photo — one other than your own or other than those you acquired from a stock agency — you can’t use it for a cover. But you can use it for whatever thought it evokes in your mind. The thought, not the photo, will become part of the actual publication.

Look at the photo and write down the first line that springs to mind. It might be narrative or dialogue. It might be a philosophical thought. That’s a story starter.

If nothing comes to mind, don’t dwell. Set it aside and move on to the next one.

Events

Whether recalling a memory or witnessing a live event, write down the first line that springs to mind. That’s a story starter.

Other Stories and Articles

Read. If you’re a writer, chances are you read.
Often a line from another story or novel will grab me. And often that becomes the basis for my own story or novel. (No, this isn’t plagiarism.)

Sometimes too, comments in a nonfiction article or a description in a travel article will move something in me. And become the basis for a story or novel.

You get the idea. Just read. And keep your pen and paper handy.

Titles

Sometimes a title will pop into my head. I have zero idea what the story will be, but I know what it will be about. Maybe even the general direction it will take.

DWS has a voluminous collection of old stories and novels. From those he makes lists of “half-titles.” He writes the first half of a title on one list and the last half on another.

When he’s stuck for a story starter, he’ll browse the list of half-titles, crash two of them together to form a new title, and start writing.

Most of us don’t own a large collection. But you can still go to your local bookstore (or Amazon) and browse titles, right?

You can even lift whole titles if you want (I don’t recommend this), as long as they aren’t trademarked. Titles can’t be copyrighted individually.

That’s just a few ways to come up with story starters. Once you get in the habit of exercising your idea muscle, you’ll come up with many more on your own.

In short, if you want to write, you can write.

1. Get an idea.
2. Sit down with your fingers on the keyboard.
3. Write whatever comes. Don’t edit. Don’t “fix.” Don’t think. Just write.
4. DON’T intentionally write sloppy copy. That’s bad training.

It really is that easy and that difficult. If you haven’t tried this yet, you’ll be amazed at how much fun you’ll have.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out just before 2 a.m. My son drove down from Flagstaff. He got here just before I got up, and went to bed soon after.

I wrote on the novel for a little while, then got caught up in the day and visiting.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Dean has a pretty informative post over at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/writing-a-novel-in-five-days-while-traveling-turned-in/, especially if you missed his posts on the topic. (He links to them and the resulting novel.)

I posted a few pics of a big range fire (the Dragoon Fire) near here on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/harvey.stanbrough.

Fiction Words: 1204
Nonfiction Words: 310 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1514

Writing of June Novel

Day 1…… 2248 words. Total words to date…… 4925
Day 2…… 0505 words. Total words to date…… 5430
Day 3…… 1204 words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 32708
Total fiction words for the year………… 325615
Total nonfiction words for the month… 7580
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 97560
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 423175

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 562 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 5 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 175

The Journal, Friday, 6/9

Hey Folks,

One astute reader noticed I wrote that the files I was waiting for were mailed on June 30. So, um, that would be almost a year ago.

They were mailed on May 30. In this situation, it still feels like a year ago. I corrected it. (Thanks, JGV)

Topic: End of the Challenge

Unfortunately, yesterday was the last day of the challenge.

Another friend (Thanks, RS) mentioned privately I could write a couple of flash fiction stories (up to 99 words) or short shorts (up to to 1999 words) to keep the challenge going.

I don’t want to use flash fiction. That would feel like cheating to me. I understand that most readers probably wouldn’t mind, but I’d mind. For me, using flash fiction breaks the spirit of the challenge.

And as for writing short shorts, that would be fine. But once I start writing, I can’t predetermine a story length. The characters take it to where they want it to go. It simply is what it is.

Spoiler alert: You’ll see a much longer version of this topic over on Pro Writers on Tuesday, June 20.

I’ll be back with another similar challenge before too long.

I found this challenge extremely beneficial to my work. Even abbreviated, this challenge

● dramatically increased my production. I now have 8 new short stories I wouldn’t have had without the challenge. Also, I’ve averaged just under 4,000 words of new fiction per day.

● increased my proficiency. Because I was posting the stories “live” scene by scene, I felt a sense of urgency to write them cleanly and get them out there.

● actually decreased the harmful influence of my critical mind. Again, because I was posting the scenes “live,” I cycled back through them one time to add any obvious omissions. Then I spell-checked them, and then I published them. The sense of urgency kept me from getting mired in the process. (No rewriting, remember?)

● enabled me to learn and practice new techniques more quickly and more cleanly, again because of the sense of urgency that was attached to it.

● handed me 2 new novel starts. That’s right. Out of only 8 new stories, 2 of them will be developed and expanded into novels.

I’ll use the rest of this month to gather story ideas (story starters), finish my novel and maybe write a second one, and create covers for and publish the stories I wrote this month.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out a little before 4. Did little the first few hours but write the stuff above and another blog post.

I probably won’t even write on the novel today, though I might, later.

Right now I’m switching Internet browsers from Firefox (been with them for years) to Microsoft Edge. Firefox updates every few days and it still crashes regularly. Enough is too much.

So logging into sites I use often, saving passwords on the new browser, all that.

I’m also putting together the dedicated website I’ll use when I start the next writing in public challenge. Slowly. But still fun.

Well, I called Job Corps. Despite their saying earlier that today was the deadline, we’re still up in the air. The lady said they’re re-reviewing his package, so I guess that’s good. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I had already called off the challenge. It’s already after 2 p.m. With all that’s happened today I’m just gonna make this a nonwriting day for fiction.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Just this morning in The Digital Reader I learned of a place called Reedsy. Among many other things, Reedsy offers free courses on various aspects of writing, publishing, marketing etc. Check them out at https://blog.reedsy.com/learning. As always, take what you learn there with a grain of salt.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 580 (Journal) 1130 (blog)
So total words for the day: 1710

Writing of June Novel

Day 1…… 2248 words. Total words to date…… 4925
Day 2…… 0505 words. Total words to date…… 5430
Day 3…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 31504
Total fiction words for the year………… 324411
Total nonfiction words for the month… 7270
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 97250
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 421661

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 561 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 5 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 175

The Journal, Thursday, 6/8

Hey Folks,

First, before I forget, awhile back the editor of a magazine in Mexico asked me to write a short story for her magazine.

I did and submitted it.

She loved it and asked permission to translate it. Of course, I said yes.

If you’re interested, here’s the link to the story in Spanish in the magazine EstePaís:

http://www.estepais.com/articulo.php?id=1057&t=ila-y-el-pinonero

I’d be happy to send a copy of the English original to anyone who wants it. Now, too, I can finally self-publish it. (grin)

A little personal stuff…

Well, my life roll is coming down to the end.

It will be a tense couple of days as we await some records from Indiana (supposedly mailed last week on Tuesday) and Roswell NM. Those will determine, in large part, my grandson’s future.

As an action-oriented kind of guy, I feel a little helpless when things are completely outside of my control. Especially when bureacrats are involved.

When I think of what set this excellent 22 year old boy on this path, and especially when I consider what kept him on this path — being prescribed drugs he didn’t need and those drugs creating the symptoms they were supposed to alleviate — I just wanna chew wheels and spit nails. In particular directions.

But as with all things in life, it simply is what it is and we’ll deal with it.

In the meantime, for now, we wait and hope Job Corps will happen for him.

Now to the escape of writing for awhile.

Topic: Day 8 of the Challenge

Overall, this challenge hasn’t been difficult at all. It hasn’t been easy — a challenge shouldn’t be easy — but it hasn’t been difficult either.

In fact, whether or not the life roll intervenes and ends the challenge prematurely, I will do this again, complete with the writing-in-public part.

The challenge thus far has been a matter of

1. Coming up with a story starter (for me that’s usually a line of descriptive or philosophical narrative or a line of dialogue);
2. dropping a character with a problem related to that line into a setting;
3. and writing. Oh, and every now and then,
4. telling my critical voice to sit down and shut up.

That fourth one is a matter of patience and persistence.

If a story beginning (opening) is boring me to death, I trash it and either move on to the next story starter (I’ve done that twice) or I start over.

More often, my critical voice tells me (on an opening that isn’t boring me) “this is not good” etc.

To overcome that, in every case, I remind myself that I won’t personally like every story I write. But that has no bearing on whether another reader will or won’t like it.

So I persist, follow it through to the end, and publish it.

And invariably, some reader pops up out of nowhere and tells me how wonderful is the story that I thought sucked canal water from all 50 states. (grin)

That’s some great validation and reinforcement for shutting out the critical voice. Just sayin’.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out just before 4. Spent the first hour-plus fully awake, sipping coffee and reading some great stuff, most of which I shared below in “Of Interest.”

Around 7 I sat down at my office desk and began writing.

Around 8:30 I moved to the Hovel.

With a couple of breaks, by 11 I had 2800 words on the story. No end in sight. (grin)

I wrote some more, then went to the PO to check for some records that were allegedly mailed from Indianapolis on May 30. Unfortunately, they still haven’t arrived.

Long talk with my wife and then my grandson. Around 2, finally back to the short story.

With everything going on, I forgot to post the new scenes after scene 2. I finished the story around 3.

Nothing on the novel again today.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Some very good comments at Dean’s http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/a-bunch-of-things/#comments.

Also see Robert J McCarter’s posts on his challenge at http://robertjmccarter.com/2017/05/sswm-introduction/.

I’ve also added Mr. McCarter’s category “Short Story Marathon” to Writers’ Resources on my site, or you can see it at http://robertjmccarter.com/category/story-marathon/.

See “10 Tools That Help Me Sell More Ebooks” at https://www.kseniaanske.com/blog/2017/6/4/10-tools-that-help-me-sell-more-books/.

Fiction Words: 4507
Nonfiction Words: 720 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 5227

Writing of “Adele and the Makers” (Story 8 for June)

Day 1…… 4507 words. Total words to date…… 4507 (done)

Writing of June Novel

Day 1…… 2248 words. Total words to date…… 4925
Day 2…… 0505 words. Total words to date…… 5430
Day 3…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 31504
Total fiction words for the year………… 324411
Total nonfiction words for the month… 5560
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 95540
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 419951

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 560 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 5 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 175

The Journal, Wednesday, 6/7

Hey Folks,

Not a lot to report today.

Topic: Day 7 of the Challenge

Well, the challenge is rolling along. I feel like I’m settling into this thing.

By that I mean I’m not frantic, “worrying” about coming up with story ideas, etc.

The conscious, critical mind repeatedly attacks in various ways. But once I recognize it for what it is and set it aside, I’m able to get back to writing.

Today’s story went really well and really quickly. In a little over 2 hours of writing time, I hit the end at something over 2700 words.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3 and spent the first few hours doing nothing but Facebook and email stuff. Put on a load of laundry (the first of two) and headed to the Hovel around 6:30.

Finally around 7:20 I started the story for the day. It’s a gangster thing from the gangster’s POV. Interesting.

With a couple of breaks to check and fold and put away laundry, I finished the story at around 11:30 and posted the whole thing (two very long scenes) to The June Challenge page on my website.

Off for a bit to change gears, and I hope to add some to the novel today.

Nothing on the novel again today. Job Corps and other stuff on my mind.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

You might get something out of “When I Worked in Advertising” at http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/06/when-i-worked-in-advertising/. I stopped reading at “In one of the 16 or so drafts of my new book,…”

Fiction Words: 2738
Nonfiction Words: 260 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2998

Writing of “What Happened That Day” (Story 7 for June)

Day 1…… 2738 words. Total words to date…… 2738 (done)

Writing of June Novel

Day 1…… 2248 words. Total words to date…… 4925
Day 2…… 0505 words. Total words to date…… 5430
Day 3…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 26997
Total fiction words for the year………… 319904
Total nonfiction words for the month… 4840
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 94820
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 414724

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 559 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 5 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 174

The Journal, Tuesday, 6/6

Hey Folks,

Well, just last night I was saying I might as well stay up later and get up at a more normal time. The staying up later part isn’t that difficult, but the other is much easier said than done.

That’s all right.

Easing into the day today. As I write this it’s almost 9 and I’ve done nothing relative to writing.

I did go to the grocery early. I like to get there when nobody’s parking their cart sideways in the aisle or backing up in front of me without looking or otherwise pretending there’s nobody on Earth but him or her.

Kind of annoyed about my challenge. I didn’t think it through quite thoroughly enough.

You know that life roll I’ve mentioned here a few times? That will end sometime this coming weekend or early the next week, one way or another.

Bryan’s time with me is coming to a close. He’ll either go to Job Corps this week (they’re mulling over some things) or he’ll move to NM to visit his uncle.

If the former, no worries. I’ll drive him into Tucson and send him into his future. If the latter, I’ll probably have to drive to northwest NM. That will all but kill the challenge. For this time.

So we’ll just have to wait and see.

Topic: Day 6 of the Challenge

I didn’t brainstorm any new story ideas last night as I had planned. But I eased into today, so it’ll be all right.

I mentioned above that the challenge might end prematurely sometime between three days and a week from now. That’s out of my control, so I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

But I’m already thinking of the next one, especially if this one doesn’t work.

If I do this challenge again, the “writing in public” aspect will take center stage.

Probably I’ll open a new website (I own several). I’ll advertise the snot out of it, and then I’ll take subscriptions. Those who want to read the stories scene-by-scene as they progress will subscribe to them.

Probably it will still be free, with donations accepted. But this way the stories will go to a group of folks who are dedicated to seeing them. Or at least dedicated enough to subscribe.

I’ll write each story a scene at a time, and then I’ll post each scene, as it’s finished, to that “blog.” Each scene will be emailed automatically to those who subscribe, and then the whole story will be posted to the website on its own page.

Yep, I like it.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 2:30. Did pretty much nothing most of the early morning, then went to the grocery at around 5:30.

Home and put stuff away around an hour later, then a quick English-muffin and cheese breakfast.

Saw my wife off to work at 8:30, then came here to write some of the stuff above.

Finally to the Hovel around 9. I wrote the topic, and now I’m gonna cast about for a story starter.

Around 10 I hit on a story idea and started writing.

Around 11 I went up to the house for lunch, then took a phone call from a good friend.

A little after noon, back to the story.

1 p.m. to the post office and maybe (if necessary) to Benson.

Around 3:30 I finished the story. It flowed really well when I had time to work on it.

Nothing on the novel today. I need to get a handle on this stuff.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

A pretty good post on rebranding (with examples) with “A Fun Series” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/a-fun-series/.

And a friend reminded me to remind all of you, if you need EXCELLENT print or ebook formatting or covers at extremely reasonable prices, visit Cover to Upload at https://covertoupload.com/.

Fiction Words: 3258
Nonfiction Words: 650 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3908

Writing of “Incident in a Cantina” (Story 6 for June)

Day 1…… 3258 words. Total words to date…… 3258 (done)

Writing of June Novel

Day 1…… 2248 words. Total words to date…… 4925
Day 2…… 0505 words. Total words to date…… 5430
Day 3…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 24295
Total fiction words for the year………… 317166
Total nonfiction words for the month… 4580
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 94560
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 411726

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 558 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 5 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 173

The Journal, Monday, 6/5

Hey Folks,

Well, through my first weekend and the challenge is still on track. And 1/6th over after today. (grin) Harder than it looks. Then again, I know what it is to dig a ditch, so….

The more I think about it, the more I think I’m going to move this Daily Journal blog back over to another website.

My main website feels cluttered, and I haven’t had more than a couple of new signups for the Journal over the past few months since this blog has been over there.

If you’re subscribed via email, this won’t necessitate any change on your part. The posts will still be emailed to the same list of folks.

And more than likely it won’t necessitate any change on the part of those who are subscribed via RSS either. But I’ll be sure to post the new URL just in case.

Topic: Day 5 of the Challenge — Exercising the Idea Muscle

When I was speaking at a lot of writers’ conferences, attendees often complained of how difficult it is to come up with story ideas.

I knew what they meant. They meant it’s hard to come up with stories that are born whole, beginning, middle and end. Characters, setting, conflict, and resolution.

Yes, it is. But why would you want to do that anyway? More on that later.

So what is a story idea? Actually, it’s only one kind of a story “starter.”

A full story idea is a character with a problem in a setting. That’s it. The problem might or might not even be ‘the’ problem of the story. Doesn’t matter.

As I said, that’s one kind of story starter.

Other story starters mmight be just a line of dialogue or an action that pops into your head.

It might be an odd characteristic of a character’s face (a cauliflower ear, a nose bent sideways, startling eyes).

Or it might be the aforementioned character with a problem in a setting. But it won’t be a story born whole.

The sole purpose of a story starter (or story idea) is to get you to the keyboard.

As I write this, I’m beginning day 5 of a 30-day short-story-a-day challenge.

Yesterday, as part of my growth as a writer, I made a point of coming up with two new story ideas before I called it a day.

I plan to do that every day through the rest of this challenge. Why?

For one thing, coming up with story ideas at the end of a good day of writing is much easier than coming up with even one good story idea in the midst of waking up in the early morning.

It also alleviates the pressure of having to try to come up with something during that groggy hour or so.

For another, coming up with ideas (story starters) is not difficult, but it’s an acquired habit. To do it easily means to do it regularly.

So I’m practicing. I’m exercising the idea muscle.

And it works. I actually came up with three story ideas yesterday. But one of them was born whole.

A line popped into my head, followed closely by the POV protagonist, the antagonist, an extra character, the conflict, and the resolution. The whole story.

I tossed it out.

Why? For the same reason I don’t outline novels.

I write first to entertain myself, to see what the characters are going to do and say, and where the story’s going to go. It’s exciting.

If I already know the end, writing the story will bore me. And if it will bore me, chances are it will bore the reader.

As always, I’m learning as I go. Part of that is acquiring the habit of exercising the idea muscle.

This challenge is the perfect time to acquire a habit like that.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3:30. Messed around with waking-up stuff and wrote everything above this.

After that I scheduled “Exercising the Idea Muscle” for publication over on the big blog too. It will come out sometime early next year.

Around 7:15, I moved out to the Hovel.

Well, the story starts I came up with yesterday — neither of them worked. Still, I plan to make that my last act of the day, every day, coming up with a couple of story starts.

Usually when I write an opening it takes off. This morning I wrote two and both of them fizzled.

Onward.

Finished the story. Gonna spend the rest of the day to coming up with more story starts. (grin)

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “The Best Advice an Author Can Get” at http://thefutureofpublishing.com/2017/05/the-best-advice-an-author-can-get/.

While you’re there, consider subscribing to The Future of Publishing blog.

Fiction Words: 2843
Nonfiction Words: 790 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3633

Writing of “Untitled” (Story 5 for June)

Day 1…… 2843 words. Total words to date…… 2843 (done)

Writing of June Novel

Day 1…… 2248 words. Total words to date…… 4925
Day 2…… 0505 words. Total words to date…… 5430
Day 3…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 21001
Total fiction words for the year………… 313908
Total nonfiction words for the month… 3930
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 93910
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 407818

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 557 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)………………… 5 novels
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 3
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 172