The Journal, Wednesday, 10/26

Hey Folks,

Well, a long post today, but I hope one that’s worthwhile for many of you.

First, I bit the leather strap and signed up for Dean’s POV online workshop this morning. Just in case any of you would like to join the same session, I signed up for Class 42, beginning on November 1.

They run for 6 weeks, with (usually) five homework assignments. I rarely turn those in, but I find them valuable for continued practice and study. Naturally, I’ll report back here with my assessment of the class. Really looking forward to this one.

To see why I’m excited about it, you can read the description here (scroll down to Point of View).

Now I think I know POV fairly well, and I’m certain I handle it well in my novels. But there’s always more to learn and I inevitably learn a LOT of collateral things from Dean during these workshops. Well worth the money if you don’t mind investing in your craft.

Not a lot else to report today other than roughly a b’jillion sparrows alighting in the yard on their way south in two big flocks.

But I was reminded early by a friend about the odd writing habits of famous writers. So let’s chat about that for a little while. (grin)

Topic: Odd Type Writers (a purloined title)

Like maybe Hemingway’s drinking is why he wrote so well.

Or he wrote standing up while in his underwear and with a drink in his hand.

Or that (as he allegedly told one aspirant) he wrote standing up while in his underwear because the gravitational pull on his ‘nads enabled him to access his masculine source.

Uh, okay, frankly, I’ve never known a man who was able to AVOID “accessing his masculine source.” Naked, in his underwear, or in any other state of dress. Just sayin’.

Or I do most of my writing on yellow legal pads while standing on my head on the sidewalk and spitting BBs at passing motorists. (I know. Ludicrous. But if I repeat it often enough and say it to one or more interviewers, someone out there will try it.)

It is true that Hemingway often wrote while standing up (but not in his underwear and not with a drink in his hand) because an old injury to his spine made sitting for long periods uncomfortable. He also kept a daily word count. (grin)

These sorts of myths proliferate in the writing community, and I even heard many of them when I was in college. From professors. Whom I was pre-trained to trust in all things.

Only my ability to think, my distaste of soundbites and my general aversion to blanket gullibility enabled me to see through the veneer of nonsense. Well, that and the fact that on my website it plainly states “Caution: professional fiction writer. I will lie to you. And you will enjoy it.” And I don’t want to be a hypocrite.

Oddly enough (or perhaps appropriately enough) most of these gems were started by the writers themselves when asked ridiculous questions.

When someone asked Harlan Ellison where he got ideas, finding himself in just the right mood he said, “From a little shop in Schenectady.”

Yeah. But you don’t hear of writers booking flights to Schenectady and racing up and down the streets looking for a sign that reads Ye Olde Idea Shoppe, right?

So why do so many of us buy into these other ridiculosities?

I don’t know.

Maybe because we want to think if we do something weird because we believe a famous writer did the same weird thing, we’ll invoke some sort of magic and lightning will strike.

A long time ago, another writer (Thanks, Bob C) sent me a list of “unusual work habits for writers” that he “picked up on Quora.” I quote some of them below. Please note that despite the title, most of these are not “habits” at all. The comments in parentheses are mine.

Truman Capote wrote lying down, as did Marcel Proust, Mark Twain and Woody Allen. (Anyone ever try this? I did, a very long time ago. It’s stupid.)

Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Philip Roth, Lewis Carroll, Thomas Jefferson, Fernando Pessoa and George Sand all wrote standing up. (Yep, I tried this one too. My feet and back were both aching within a half-hour. I’m betting it’s nonsense unless there’s some other valid reason that has nothing to do with the writing itself.)

Roth also walks half a mile for every page. (Really? Umm, why? Think maybe this is just a comment on his balancing walking for health with being sedentary?)

Roald Dahl wrote in a shed. (Been there, done that [re The Adobe Hovel], but I don’t know that it’s “odd” or qualifies as a “habit.” It’s just a good place to write.)

Umberto Eco has a converted church as his scriptorium. One floor has a computer, one has a typewriter, one in which he writes long-hand. (Nope, not buying it. Why switch back and forth? And if so, why stick a flight of stairs between one and the other?)

Haruki Murakami commutes into a city apartment in Tokyo where he writes. (Okay. <shrug> So?)

After the publication of Joe Gould’s Secret, Joseph Mitchell came to the office at the The New Yorker magazine almost every day for the next thirty-two years without filing another word. (How is this a writing habit?Seems more like a scamming habit. Or a visiting habit.)

Ray Bradbury wrote an early version on Fahrenheit 451 in nine days on a rented typewriter in the UCLA library basement. (This one is true, but it isn’t a habit. It was his only access to a typewriter at the time. And it wasn’t just “an early version.” And how is this either sensational or odd?)

Will Self uses a wall of Post-It notes to plan and structure his writing. (Not odd for someone who wants to outline or storyboard.)

Elmore Leonard writes on yellow legal pads. (Is this odd? Yellow legal pads were the original laptop. Like card catalogues in libraries were the first Google.)

Michel Faber corrected the first manuscript of The Crimson Petal and the White with house paint because he couldn’t afford Tipp-Ex. (Maybe, but neither odd nor a habit. More of a necessity, eh?)

Gustav Hasford was a serial hoarder of very overdue library books, and had 10,000 of them in storage lockers. (Wouldn’t want his library fine, but again, not a writing habit.)

Don DeLillo types each paragraph onto its own sheet of paper, so that he might concentrate better. (Now that’s odd, if true, but I don’t buy it. And even if he did, with apologies to trees, so what?)

Gay Talese would pin pages of his writing to a wall and examine them from the other side of the room with binoculars. (Nope, not buying it. All the binocs would do is make them appear to be within arms’ length so, you know, a lot of wasted effort there.)

Jonathan Safran Foer has a collection of blank sheets of paper. (So do I. It’s called a “ream.” And again, not a writing habit.)

Cormac McCarthy said that his perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper. (Nope, not buying it as written.)

Ethan Canin copied John Cheever paragraphs out to learn what made the man’s writing tick. (I’ve done this and I don’t find it odd at all. It isn’t a writing habit, but probably a very good learning habit.)

Anthony Trollope required of himself two hundred and fifty words every quarter of an hour. (GREAT habit [1000 words per hour, 17 words per minute]. Ever heard this one anywhere else? But I see nothing odd about it.)

J.G. Ballard, a fan of discipline in writing, prepared very long outlines, and aimed for 1,000 words a day. (<shrug> Okay. But not a writing habit. More of an outlining habit. Or maybe obsession.)

Walter Benjamin advocated delaying writing an idea as long as possible, so that it would be more maturely developed. (I’ve heard something similar about the guy who wrote Texas and Hawaii and all those. Wonder how many ideas they lost?)

Richard Ford and his wife shot a book by Alice Hoffman, after she had given his book Independence Day an unfavorable review. (This is not a writing habit. It is, however, a tad unbalanced if true.)

If you’re interested in such things, whether for inspiration or laughs, I recommend a book titled Odd Type Writers by Celia Blue Johnson (Perigee, 2013).

Of Interest

Check out Kevin J. Anderson’s website. Some good stuff there. I especially recommend checking out his Categories, like the Short Story Category (Hint: it isn’t all about short stories) and the Novels Category (nope, it isn’t all about novels) and the Process Category. You get the idea. Take some time. Browse. And remember to take everything with a grain of salt. Keep what feels right to you and pitch the rest.

Dean’s post caused me to check out KJ Anderson.

The Writing Day

I rolled out around 3:30 and spent an hour on catching up with overnight events (emails, etc.). Then outside to read a few newsletters, catch up on Facebook and so on.

I grabbed a quick breakfast (just toasted English muffins with some sort of cream spread), then put on a load of laundry around 6:30.

Incredibly, with most email and other Internet things behind me, I started writing at around 8 this morning. The novel has entered a stage where I can hardly wait to get back to it each time.

Around 9 I folded and put away laundry, then changed from sweats into day clothes.

Around 10 I came back out to write some of this and look over my reverse outline to see where to go next.

That is, which characters to feature in the next chapter. This book is one of those in which the POV changes every two or three chapters to different characters in different scenes around the world. And one scene that’s decidedly off the world.

Well, I reached the end of a chapter and it feels like the end of the day, though the word count is a bit low. A lot of cycling today (a result of splicing together some of the parts I shifted yesterday). But I’m good with where it is. I already know where I’m starting in the morning.

By the way, for anyone who thinks this novel is moving along quickly at 31200 words in “only” 11 days, please realize that’s only a mean average of writing a little over 2800 words per day. In other words, it’s not all that much.

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 2406
Nonfiction Words: 1660 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 4066

Writing of The Consensus

Day 1…… 1833 words. Total words to date…… 1833
Day 2…… 2304 words. Total words to date…… 4137
Day 3…… 2465 words. Total words to date…… 6602
Day 4…… 4418 words. Total words to date…… 11020
Day 5…… 2701 words. Total words to date…… 13721
Day 6…… 3010 words. Total words to date…… 16731
Day 7…… 2775 words. Total words to date…… 19506
Day 8…… 1716 words. Total words to date…… 21222
Day 9…… 3499 words. Total words to date…… 24721
Day 10… 4993 words. Total words to date…… 28814
Day 11… 2406 words. Total words to date…… 31220

Total fiction words for the month……… 59785
Total fiction words for the year………… 645303
Total nonfiction words for the month… 20640
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 235980

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 881283

The Journal, Tuesday, 10/25

Hey Folks,

Very cool morning, coolness wise. One of my former Marines added me to a “secret” group on Facebook. It’s basically a reunion of the (mostly) young Marines I served with in Second Light Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion in Yuma Arizona 30-some years ago.

They were some of the best people I ever knew, at once my brothers and my sons. It’s great to be back in touch, and it cause me to think back a bit.

So for anyone who wants to know some personal stuff, read on. If not, skip down to Great Breakfast.

On November 25, 1970 (almost 46 years ago), I graduated basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and became a Marine. Initially I had three MOSs (job descriptions). I was an 0311 (infantry rifleman), 0331 (machine gunner) and 0351 (light anti-tank assalutman).

Later I was switched, against my wishes, over to 6753 (later, 7222), a HAWK missile system radar operator. I’ve never understood why, but I always assumed it was because of my age (I turned 18 in boot camp) and the fact that my first enlistment was for four years.

Twenty-one years after I graduated boot camp, on October 1, 1991, I was transferred to the Fleet Marine Corps Reserve on retainer. (You don’t “retire” after twenty years. You are on retainer.) Ten years later I was retired.

During that time, I was blessed and honored to serve with some of the best Marines, officer and enlisted, ever to have worn the uniform.

My experiences while I was on active duty in the Corps spurred me to write probably the greatest thing I’ll ever write. It’s a simple toast, and I offer it to my guys here:

May your days be vibrant,
your evenings calm,
your heart safe and warm at home.
Semper fi.

Today, as I write this almost 46 years after I graduated boot camp, I’m wearing a ball cap with a Marine Corps emblem embroidered on the front of it. I have several. I wear one or another without a second thought almost every day.

Most of the time, I still remove my cover (the ball cap) when I enter my house or a building. When the National Anthem plays on television, whether or not anyone else is around, I still find a reason to be standing up.

On the rare occasion when I am fortunate enough to hear the Marine Corps hymn, again whether or not anyone else is around, I still come to attention. The Hymn runs through my mind almost constantly when I’m walking (and back in the day when I was running).

My oath is as meaningful to me today as it was the day I first raised my right hand and all the times afterward when I reenlisted. A solemn oath isn’t something about which you simply change your mind. If you can do that, it wasn’t a solemn oath in the first place.

If I had it to do over again, I would change nothing. I would do all the same things again, even though now, with 20-20 hindsight, I can adjudge them right or wrong. That’s what life is. But I would do them more strongly and with greater conviction.

* * *

Great Breakfast (in about five minutes)

Who knew you could find recipes here? (grin)

I like breakfast sandwiches, and this is usually my “big meal” of the day. My latest favorite is bread, sliced colby-jack, tomato, egg, and thin-sliced ham.

Making this is fun. I start a scrambled egg frying. While that’s working, I layer Miracle Whip on two slices of bread, then cut and add a slice of tomato and a slice of colby-jack to each slice of bread.

I flip the eggs (I love flipping stuff in a skillet), then add pepper and whatever other spices. I lay a slice of provolone on top of the egg, then the slice of ham.

When the egg has cooked long enough so the bottom is done, I flip the whole thing so the ham’s on the bottom. (I haven’t missed on the flip yet, knock on wood. Probably tomorrow.)

hawkA half-minute or so later when the ham is seared and the cheese is melted, I slide the whole thing onto one slice of bread and add the other to the top. Nom nom nom. (grin)

Tonight will be snacky stuff while watching Game 1 of the World Series.

Oh. That thing to the left is a silhoutte photo of Hawk, our Arizona Black Eagle who believes (and professes) himself a hawk. Aspirations are good.

Of Interest

Over at Dean’s place, Adjust[ing] A Goal. An excellent example of “failing” to success outside of writing.

The Writing Day

Rolled out at 4:15, was at my outside desk almost immediately and, off and on, checked email and Facebook, wrote the stuff above and had breakfast.

Now it’s a little after 8 and I’m headed for the novel for the first time. Should be a great day of writing today.

Wrote a little right off the starting block. Then I was taken with a notion that some chapters were out of order. So I took a little time to create a reverse outline (with the new sequence), then rearranged the chapters. It flows much better now.

Well, same ol’, same ol’. I frittered away much of the day, did some admin stuff, and finally started writing in earnest around noon-thirty. Yet I managed to steal a pretty good day.

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 4093
Nonfiction Words: 900 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 4993

Writing of The Consensus (novel)

Day 1…… 1833 words. Total words to date…… 1833
Day 2…… 2304 words. Total words to date…… 4137
Day 3…… 2465 words. Total words to date…… 6602
Day 4…… 4418 words. Total words to date…… 11020
Day 5…… 2701 words. Total words to date…… 13721
Day 6…… 3010 words. Total words to date…… 16731
Day 7…… 2775 words. Total words to date…… 19506
Day 8…… 1716 words. Total words to date…… 21222
Day 9…… 3499 words. Total words to date…… 24721
Day 10… 4993 words. Total words to date…… 28814

Total fiction words for the month……… 57379
Total fiction words for the year………… 642897
Total nonfiction words for the month… 18980
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 234320

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 877217

The Journal, Monday, 10/24

Hey Folks,

Today’s topic is extremely important. Be sure to scroll down and read it.

I rolled out around 3:30. Coyotes were howling so the girl and I stayed inside for about an hour before we came outside. I checked email and around the Internet, and she patrolled the yard.

Well, I was all set to go camping this weekend with my buddy Dan. Then I remembered the World Series runs Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and (if necessary) Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Sigh.

It dawned on me this morning that I’m very glad I’ve kept a running tally of my nonfiction writing. In that count I include this Journal (minus repeated word counts on novels) plus nonfiction books, but no emails, etc.

With my fiction and nonfiction writing combined, I’ll hit around 1,068,000 words this year.

With my fiction (based on what I’ve written thus far) I’ll end the year with around 782,000 words.

For my nonfiction, again based on the year to date, I’ll end the year with 286,000 words.

In trying to figure that out, I found an excellent new resource: a calculator that tells you with the click of a button what day of the year it is on a given day and how many days are left. For example, yesterday, October 23, 2016, was the 297th day of the year and there were 69 days remaining. For the link, see Of Interest below.

Topic: Learning (Free)

No, this isn’t about my audio courses on various aspects of writing, many of which I offered you free yesterday.

This is much bigger than that.

If you’re into expanding your knowledge, you can take free online (and audio and video) courses from the world’s leading universities at

I recommend getting a glass or cup of your favorite beverage. Then plan to sit for an hour or two and browse. This site is an incredible resource.

Because of my interest in the possibilities posed for space travel by magnetic drives, I’d like to know more about Electro-Magnetic Fields (under the guise of Engineering).

So I went to and searched their archives for “Engineering.” Then I scrolled the results a bit and found “Electro-Magnetic Fields.”

In just one of several listings, I found a series of 42 YouTube lectures by Professor Harishankar Ramachandran at (Just in case you want it too.)

Then I created a new folder on the favorites bar of my browser and dragged the URL above into it.

I went back to the list on Engineering and found 12 audio lectures on Introduction to Engineering by Todd Laursen of Duke University. Yep, dragged it into the folder as well.

And yes, I will make time to watch/listen to these videos and audios. If I find I can’t understand the concepts they offer, I’ll keep them in my file and go back to search for more basic or prerequisite audios/videos/courses.

Here’s the key: Even if I don’t use what I learn specifically in my stories, my own newly gained knowledge of the topic will inform my stories. Remember, learn with the conscious mind, and create with the subconscious.

When I searched Writing Fiction, I found several lists of tips on the subject by Hemingway, Faulkner, Borges, Fitzgerald, Lovecraft, Chandler, Vonnegut, and many others. There are “rules” for writing short stories, horror, detective stories and others. As always, take them with a grain of salt. These folks write fiction. They are not above lying to you. (grin)

OpenCulture itself offers 10 Rules for Writing Fiction by 29 different authors.

Now again, use your discretion, especially when it comes to writing advice. What works for one will not work for all. In fact, what makes sense to one will not make sense to all. But be advised (you already know this), if a concept makes you uncomfortable, it’s probably something you need to learn and practice.

I’ve always found it a valuable process to master a particular technique before deciding whether to keep it or toss it. Notice I didn’t say “try” a technique. I said “master” a technique.

If you simply try something once or twice, it’s all too easy to toss it aside as unsuited to you. But if you master it first and then toss it aside, at least you’re doing so for a reason other than it giving you a minor bit of discomfort.

In my browsing for courses for myself, I also happened across the MIT OpenCourseware website. I clicked the Find Courses tab, and I was amazed at the number of courses that popped up.

Go. Browse. Learn.

Of Interest

Here’s that Full Year Reference Calendar and Calculator I mentioned above.

From the topic above, here’s the link to OpenCulture.

Here’s a direct link to an alphabetical listing at OpenCulture of 1200 free courses.

Here’s the MIT OpenCourseware website.

Dean’s site — I mention this only because he says he’s making some big changes soon.

Today is also Free Fiction Monday over at Kris’ site. That feeds into learning too. Her stories are great for entertainment, but they’re even better to study for how to write short stories.

The Writing Day

Between about 5:30 and 8:45 I researched and wrote most of the stuff above this, ate breakfast and changed clothes.

This is silly. By 10, I’d written only about 300 words. Oof. Then I made the mistake of visiting Facebook for awhile. If I spent this much time on Facebook at any other job I’d have been fired, and rightly so, long ago.

Finally back to the novel at 12:30 with maybe 500 words on the day thus far up to that point. (Just trying to lay it all out honestly here. Distractions happen to all of us. I hope.)

AT LAST a decent day of writing. Now if I can just hit that for 5 or 6 hours a day instead of 3 maybe this thing will start to come together. (grin)

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 3499
Nonfiction Words: 960 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 4459

Writing of The Consensus

Day 1…… 1833 words. Total words to date…… 1833
Day 2…… 2304 words. Total words to date…… 4137
Day 3…… 2465 words. Total words to date…… 6602
Day 4…… 4418 words. Total words to date…… 11020
Day 5…… 2701 words. Total words to date…… 13721
Day 6…… 3010 words. Total words to date…… 16731
Day 7…… 2775 words. Total words to date…… 19506
Day 8…… 1716 words. Total words to date…… 21222
Day 9…… 3499 words. Total words to date…… 24721

Total fiction words for the month……… 52386
Total fiction words for the year………… 637904
Total nonfiction words for the month… 18080
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 232460

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 871324

The Journal, Sunday, 10/23

Hey Folks,

Rolled out at 4:30 this morning, but relaxed and knowing it was going to be a good writing day. I’m beginning to think writing off the NFL was among the best decisions I’ve ever made.

By 7 I had already written around 800 new words on the novel. It took a slightly different direction than I anticipated, but that’s good. After being intentionally set in a corner for a day, the subconscious is eager to get back to playing in this new world. (grin)

I’ll write most of this journal entry this afternoon after I’ve stopped writing fiction for the day.

For now (so I don’t forget), an update on the world. My kitten jumped the front gate while I was still in explore-the-Internet mode. I grabbed my flashlight and told her to get back in the yard.

Naturally, she ran around the corner to the side gate (where she usually comes in). That was fine, but before I could get there to open it for her, she jumped it too.

In doing so, she surprised a bird that was stupid enough to roost within a few feet of the ground in vines that are growing up the fence near the gate.

He, awakened from a dead slumber, flew straight.

She, being a homicidal muffin on legs, pursued as if she’d been fired off a catapult. (Get it?)

At the back door, he flew into the window (Go toward the light, young bird) in an attempt to escape. Where he hit was six feet off the ground.

Whereupon my muffin, standing at her full six inches, leapt straight up and caught him at six feet.

I was amazed. But by then, I was close enough to catch her on the way down (at about four feet elevation) and ran my hands over her hands and face to dislodge the bird, who disappeared as if into another dimension.

Just then, my friends (at the moment) the coyotes howled in the distance. I used that as an excuse to send her into the house and close the door.

And I swear I heard, In a nearby mesquite tree, the labored breathing of a sparrow with one wing over his chest, as a man might do after ducking, in sequence, a gun shot and then around a corner.

So an adrenaline-charged beginning to the day.

Then I went to the novel, which is where I’m going again now.

I did not note the short story, “Harold Cranston’s Final Trip,” below because the story (except for a ten-word epigram) is derived from the novel.

Of Interest

I don’t remember whether I’ve mentioned it before, but if you sign up for the free newsletter at Creative Market, you’ll receive an offer of free goods (fonts, website templates, photographs and more) every week on Monday. They also offer great sales from time to time on various items. Finally, their blog (included in the weekly newsletter) can be invaluable with design tips and many other things.

I’ve decided to make my Audio Lectures available to recipients of this Journal at a steep discount. Follow the link, read the How to Sign Up information, then scroll down to select any courses in which you might be interested.

Now take $20 off any course. That means Courses 2, 3, and 5 through 8 are free to you. All I ask in return is that you spread the word on those you like to your writing friends. While you’re at it, tell them about this Journal. (grin)

You really can’t beat free instruction from a guy who knows what he’s doing. Most of the time.

Today’s Writing

Started writing this morning about 6. Took a break around 7 to add to this Journal.

cranston-cover-180I stopped at around 11 to read part of my manuscript aloud to Mona. She liked it. I decided to make it a short story, although I had to add a brief epigram.

So at 11:45 I’m diverted for a bit while I format, create a cover, etc. for that. Then back to the writing. (That’s the cover over there on the left.)

At 12:20, I finished with formatting, the cover, and the promo doc. Now to distribute.

12:40, finished and posted to the site for release as the free story of the week on December 9. Now to email my donors, a bite of lunch. Then back to the writing at 1 p.m.

Back to writing around 9 after breakfast.

Well, writing off and on, literally in 5- and 10- minute sprints, so not too bad a day though I expected a lot more. I was able to create an alien species, no easy task. And their ship, which is also a living creature who is in a symbiotic relationship with them. (grin) A lot of fun.

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 1716
Nonfiction Words: 800 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 2516

Writing of The Consensus

Day 1…… 1833 words. Total words to date…… 1833
Day 2…… 2304 words. Total words to date…… 4137
Day 3…… 2465 words. Total words to date…… 6602
Day 4…… 4418 words. Total words to date…… 11020
Day 5…… 2701 words. Total words to date…… 13721
Day 6…… 3010 words. Total words to date…… 16731
Day 7…… 2775 words. Total words to date…… 19506
Day 8…… 1716 words. Total words to date…… 21222

Total fiction words for the month……… 48887
Total fiction words for the year………… 634405
Total nonfiction words for the month… 17120
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 232460

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 866865

The Journal, Saturday, 10/22

Hey Folks,

Rolled out on time today (around 3:30) but really groggy. Took a long time just to feel mentally functional. Well, you know. As functional as I ever get.

I was thinking about taking an admin day today to fully format the nonfiction book I’ve been talking about here recently: The Professional Fiction Writer | A Year in the Life.

Apple won’t let the book through unless I remove all “competitor” links (a childish response). Amazon is much the same way.

I find it odd that the two biggies are so frightened of readers maybe buying something from a different store.

I’m reminded of the old Christmas/Santa classic movie scene in which Macy’s decided it was genius to send shoppers to other stores and thereby build good will.

Anyway, in the manuscript for the book there are other problems in other areas as well. If I publish it as-is, I’ll have to spend at least one full day going through to edit or delete links, etc. So we’ll see.

Now I’m also thinking I might just publish a much slimmed-down version that includes only the topics. But somehow that doesn’t seem enough.

I’ve lived long enough that the slightest bit of indecision keys me to leave it alone, check back later and decide then. So that’s what I’ll do.

Maybe taking a day off today anyway. If I “feel” like getting back to the writing later, I will. But probably, I’ll spend the day watching college football and then the Dodgers at the Cubs for game 6 this afternoon at 5.

And I’ll spend at least part of the day doing some prep work in the kitchen.

I enjoy cooking, primarily coming up with new stuff. This morning will be ground chuck slow-boiled together with green chili, red onion, white onion, red enchilada sauce (medium), diced tomatoes with red peppers. I’ll use it for juevos rancheros this morning, and for Sonoran (flat) enchiladas later. Or maybe add some cumin and go to chili with it.

The kitten jumped the fence and was out for awhile. I try to not worry about it. But would I try to not worry about it if my 4 year old human child had a propensity for crossing the usually quiet neighborhood street because she might not get hit by a car? Same kind of thing.

Don’t know whether you noticed (I didn’t) but I completely blew off the story of the week goal this week. I wrote a chapter this week that I could use as the story (I even mentioned it recently), but looking back on it and doing that would feel like cheating to me, so I won’t do that.

So the streak dies. It’s so important I don’t even know how long it ran this time. (grin) I still plan to write at least one short story every week. It’s a fascinating form, and I want to keep my hand in.

Well, I did a lot today, but no writing other than this stuff. Among many other things, I washed my wife’s car and (finally) my 4-Runner, and it didn’t dissolve. I thought it might, as it looked to be made primarily of dirt, secondarily of mud and tertiarily of rust. But it’s still there. Yay.

Now to take off the jury-rigged back bumper so I can use the underneath spare tire rack. That or make a cover for it and fit it to the roof. But I’d hope I’d never have to get the thing down. It weighs in the neighborhood of a b’jillion pounds.

It’s about 2:15, so I’m gonna go ahead and post this now. The novel’s been tugging at me. If I do anything on it today, I’ll report tomorrow.

Topic: Time Off

Yeah, I’ve heard all the stuff about “recharging the batteries” and “refilling the well” and all those reasons to take time off. But this isn’t that.

I used to smoke cigarettes. When I quit, cold turkey (eight or nine years ago, I think) part of that process was making myself smoke one when I wanted to.

The key was that if I could control when I DID smoke, then I could control when I DIDN’T smoke.

Same thing now with my subconscious, the guy who does all my writing for me. I’ve put him in a time out. I could have written today, probably hit two or three or four thousand words fairly easily, but I want to be in control of that.

So when I take time off, sometimes it’s to do other things (family emergency, camping, etc.) but sometimes it’s to show myself who’s boss.

Today was one of those times.

I had the urge to sit down and write four or five times today. Each time I said Nope, and found something else to do. And my subconscious went off into the corner and pouted for awhile.

Tomorrow I’ll welcome it back. We’ll sit down at the ‘puter together and whip out some words. But for today, he’s not the boss of me. (grin)

Caution: You can’t let something like this be your conscious mind telling you to take a day off and use “being in control” (or whatever) as an excuse. But you can do it for real if you want. It’s kind of refreshing in an odd way.

Of Interest

My latest free story of the week, The Shaman, posted yesterday at

If there was ever any doubt in your mind where kittens come from and why they’re so very special, check out this video:

Today’s Writing

El zippo.

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 970 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 970

Writing of The Consensus

Day 1…… 1833 words. Total words to date…… 1833
Day 2…… 2304 words. Total words to date…… 4137
Day 3…… 2465 words. Total words to date…… 6602
Day 4…… 4418 words. Total words to date…… 11020
Day 5…… 2701 words. Total words to date…… 13721
Day 6…… 3010 words. Total words to date…… 16731
Day 7…… 2775 words. Total words to date…… 19506
Day 8…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 47171
Total fiction words for the year………… 632689
Total nonfiction words for the month… 16320
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 231660

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 864349

The Journal, Friday, 10/21

Hey Folks,

Rolled out way late at quarter-to-five this morning. Woke up at 2:30 but just kept going back to drowse mode. I have to do that every now and then (can I get an amen?).

I checked the Internet, came up to current on Facebook, and started a post for the publisher’s newsletter over at StoneThread Publishing. (It will go out to a small list in a week or so.)

In doing that, I also found some problems at Amazon and Smashwords (see below). I’ll have to rectify the Smashwords problem in the next few days. Only Jeff Bezos can rectify the Amazon problem, and something tells me he won’t.

By the time I got through all of that, it was after 8 a.m. My wife will head away to her day job at around 8:30, and I’ll head away to mine.

Song dogs were out in force this morning, and close enough to see. The baby girl passed me, headed for the door in low kilter, as I walked from my outside desk into the back yard to see whether I could spot them.

One of them, as I watched, stopped, rocked his head back and howled like a wolf starring in a movie. Picture perfect. Of course I didn’t have my camera.

So now I have a crow (a massive thing with probably a four-foot wingspan) who believes himself a hawk and a coyote who believes himself a wolf. It’s a beautiful world. As long as Hawk stays up there and Wolf stays out there.

You will remember I already uploaded the draft version of The Professional Fiction Writer: A Year in the Life to Smashwords and Draft 2 Digital.

I couldn’t upload the file to Amazon at the time because January 15 was not yet available as a release date.

I went back to Amazon this morning to upload the file and got a surprise.

Even though the option to “Upload a Draft” is still available, when I tried to do so a brief nastygram popped up saying Amazon no longer allows Draft uploads. To make the book available for preorder, I have to upload the final draft.

Of course, the final draft of this book won’t be available until after December 31 (the final Journal entry for the year) so that’s an impossible request. So I can’t make it available for preorder at Amazon until early January. Which means it won’t be available for preorder on Amazon at all. Groan.

So when the final version is formatted and clean, I’ll still publish to Amazon, but not as a preorder. Then, on whatever day I push it to Amazon, I’ll also select “publish now” at Smashwords at D2D. Sigh. Good ol’ Amazon. Anything to make the writer/publisher’s job more difficult.

It does not speak highly of me that I am grateful Jeff Bezos is not currently within reach. If he were, I would be asking for bail money.

Now, although you can preorder the book at Smashwords, you cannot do so at retailers to whom they distribute. Formatting glitch. My fault. So I’ll rectify that sometime this weekend, upload the new file, then be done with it until the final version is finished.

Topic: Believing in Yourself and Doing

A coyote who believes himself a wolf isn’t. Except maybe at the spirit level.

An Arizona Black Eagle (crow) who believes himself a hawk isn’t. Except at the spirit level.

We humans are no different. No matter what we believe ourselves to be, what can be attained or achieved in spirit is not the same as a physical transformation.

We can howl with the spirit of a wolf or soar (with ecstasy) like a hawk. But we can’t actually be those things.

On the other hand, like all other animals, we can figure out how to do what we want to do.

Human beings cannot fly. But we can (and have) contrived ways to get ourselves into the air: airplanes, baloons, parasails, mechanical wings, etc.

This is where many writers fall flat. We can never, despite all the words we use when describing ourselves to others, “be” writers anymore than we can be a wolf or a mechanic or a carpenter.

But we “can do” (and have done) writing. It is something we commit, not what we are.

We have contrived apparatuses (apparati?) that enable us to write, to communicate and tell stories via the written word.

So in the final analysis, it is each aspirant’s task to get beyond “can.”

To attain the nearest approximation to Hawk, the crow has to combine Belief with mechanics and application: flapping the wings in a certain way, gliding for a certain amount of time and in a certain pattern.

Likewise the coyote, to draw nearest to actually being a wolf, must combine Belief with mechanics and application: holding the head at a certain cant, using the right intonations in precise ways and for precise lengths of time.

And the human who aspires to being a professional writer must also combine Belief with mechanics and application. A human simply believing and saying he is a writer isn’t enough.

Neither are obtaining an apparatus and achieving a level of skill in using it enough.

If the human being wants to approximate being a writer, he must write.

Of Interest

Great post on Dictation in Fiction at Dean’s site today.

I also encourage you to visit NaNoWriMo Every Month. A lot of good stuff there. Scroll down. There are gems to be mined.

Today’s Writing

Started writing around 9:30, interspersed (as always, it seems) with little life things. By 11 I had around 1100 words (cycling and a new scene) and went to read for a while.

12:30 after reading part of Heinlein’s “Methuselah’s Children” back to writing.

Well, I allowed too many distractions in today. Picked at the writing off and on. Missed my goal by a couple hundred words, but I’ll take it.

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 2775
Nonfiction Words: 1010 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 3785

Writing of The Consensus

Day 1…… 1833 words. Total words to date…… 1833
Day 2…… 2304 words. Total words to date…… 4137
Day 3…… 2465 words. Total words to date…… 6602
Day 4…… 4418 words. Total words to date…… 11020
Day 5…… 2701 words. Total words to date…… 13721
Day 6…… 3010 words. Total words to date…… 16731
Day 7…… 2775 words. Total words to date…… 19506

Total fiction words for the month……… 47171
Total fiction words for the year………… 632689
Total nonfiction words for the month… 15350
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 230690

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 863379

The Journal, Thursday, 10/20

Hey Folks,

Well, for awhile I entertained the notion that I was going to make the transition from a summer schedule (up at 2 or 3, to bed at 8 or so) to a schedule more suited for winter (up at 5, to bed at 9 or 10).

But I guess that isn’t going to happen. Looks like my body clock has settled on a hybrid schedule. To bed at 8, 9, or 10 and up at 2 or 3 or 4. And the former seems to have no relationship to or effect on the latter.

I was glad to see the Cubs win the game last night. I hope they carry whatever magic that was over to the next game.

I rolled out at 3 this morning after waking at 2:30. Went outside almost immediately with the little girl. She much prefers doing her business outside, and who am I to argue? I only want her to remain safe.

Played on the Internet awhile, read Kris’ post, some other stuff. I went inside at about 5 to see what time the ballgame was on this afternoon. Twelve hours from now. Lots of time to write, read and do other things.

I came back out, wrote for a little while (mostly cycling, adding details). Then I slipped up. I responded to some email, read a newsletter, then sidetracked myself and watched a 20 minute video on a news program.

The video featured three men — an Army Ranger, a Navy Seal and a Marine — who were in Benghazi at the CIA compound. Against a direct order to stand down (do nothing), they ran to the villa to try to save the ambassador and the others.

Those same three men later co-authored the book that became the movie “13 Hours.”

I understand there are contradictory reports about that order to stand down. However, I know men like those and I believe them. Others are free, of course, to believe whatever they like.

For me there’s a single litmus test when trying to determine who’s lying and who’s not. I ask myself one question: Which person stands to gain something by lying? Always, every time, that’s the one who’s lying.

Anyway, that derailed my urge (or maybe my ability) to write for awhile. I’m took a break. Despite Kris’ blog post (see Of Interest), sometimes writing doesn’t seem all that important.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t about politics. It isn’t so superficial as all that.

Of Interest

I urge everyone to read Kris’s post, The Importance of Fiction. I hope it helps you more than it helped me, at least on this day.

Today’s Writing

Started writing this morning at 5:30. Stopped around 6 to make coffee, get breakfast, etc. Long break, waiting inside for the cold to abate, checked a website for glitches for a friend, etc.

Back to writing at 8. I created a Notes and Names text document (similar to a reverse outline) for my current WIP, and did some cycling through. Almost slipped into conscious mind stuff for a bit, but staved it off and started a new scene.

Then I took a short Internet break and allowed myself to be sidetracked (see above).

Now it’s after noon and I’m back. I still have Benghazi in my mind, but I don’t want to make this a non-writing day. I don’t want to allow my ire over liars and traitors to derail me. They aren’t worth it.

So I’m going to put my fingers on the keyboard, start another new scene, and write what comes. Whatever it takes, right?

Stopped writing at 4 p.m. with just over my daily goal. I’ll take it, given the day.

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 3010
Nonfiction Words: 600 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 3610

Writing of The Consensus

Day 1…… 1833 words. Total words to date…… 1833
Day 2…… 2304 words. Total words to date…… 4137
Day 3…… 2465 words. Total words to date…… 6602
Day 4…… 4418 words. Total words to date…… 11020
Day 5…… 2701 words. Total words to date…… 13721
Day 6…… 3010 words. Total words to date…… 16731

Total fiction words for the month……… 44396
Total fiction words for the year………… 629914
Total nonfiction words for the month… 14340
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 229680

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 859594

The Journal, Wednesday, 10/19

Hey Folks,

Well, a slightly atypical morning this morning, and a very short post. I won’t elaborate because I don’t want to write it down. Suffice to say it had to do with killing something to put it out of its misery.

Working on laundry this morning, and this, and writing. The ALCS Game 5 comes on at 1 my time, the NLCS Game 4 at 5. I’m pulling for Toronto and the Cubs.

Despite my intention to stop writing in time to watch the games, I didn’t get started until 10.

Of Interest

At Dean’s place, a couple of interesting comments on the Kevin J. Anderson interview. If you haven’t read/listened to/watched the interview yet, I encourage you to do so. You can find links in yesterday’s Journal.

In today’s post, Dean talks a little about revising his website. If you need any help with your own website, please feel free to email me with questions. I’m pretty good at that stuff. And I’m always open to handing out advice or discussing things with like minds.

Today’s Writing

Started writing late, around 10:30, and by 12:30 (only a few minutes’ break) I had 2300 words. So it’s going well.

By 12:55 I had another 400 words. I’m going to watch the game for a while. If I’m not back, it’s still a pretty good day. I’ll take it. (grin)

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 2701
Nonfiction Words: 230 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 2931

Writing of The Consensus

Day 1…… 1833 words. Total words to date…… 1833
Day 2…… 2304 words. Total words to date…… 4137
Day 3…… 2465 words. Total words to date…… 6602
Day 4…… 4418 words. Total words to date…… 11020
Day 5…… 2701 words. Total words to date…… 13721

Total fiction words for the month……… 41386
Total fiction words for the year………… 626904
Total nonfiction words for the month… 13740
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 229080

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 855984

The Journal, Tuesday, 10/18

Hey Folks,

Mona found a kitty whisker from my little girl under my pillow this morning. (‘Bit sleeps curled up under my chin each night.) Mona came out with it and said, “Look. ‘Bit was waiting for the whisker fairy.” (grin)

There’s going to be a free online indie author business conference on October 22. For details, see “Of Interest” below. Lot of stuff there.

Frittered away much of the early morning on Facebook.

Which reminded me, my wife checked our passports a couple days ago and found mine expires in less than two months. So I spent some time online this morning reading requirements and then downloading the renewal form.

In case you’re in a similar fix, the passport “book” costs $110 (but it’s good for ten years). The card costs only $30, but you can use it only for non-air international travel and only to Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Bermuda.

I’ll be renewing the book. I figure $11 a year isn’t all that bad.

As I reported on Facebook, I was writing along fine on my WIP at about 9:30 when a friend stopped by to visit.

dsc00004aHere are a couple of pictures.

I left the type on the first photo (the font is Georgia, 10 point) so you could see how tiny this creature is.

In the second photo, the background is a folder icon on my desktop. 🙂

When it flew away, the undersides of its wings were a vibrant, international orange.

dsc00006aOf Interest

First, some great comments on Dean’s Trust the Reader.

Second (again from Dean), you can listen to or read a transcription of An Interview with Kevin J. Anderson or watch the interview on YouTube.

I also recommend you spend some time looking around on The Creative Penn. Good resource.

From The Creative Penn, “Also, make sure you check out the Indie Author Fringe this coming week, a free online conference from the Alliance of Independent Authors.” Yeah, free? I’ll be attending.

Today’s Writing

I decided to try putting the writing stuff down here in “Today’s Writing.” Duh. We’ll see how that works out.

I wrote pretty much continually (off and on) from about 9 this morning until 1 and managed only around 2000 words. Ugh. Yet the story is moving along nicely, so no real complaints.

I ate lunch, then took a break to finish reading a Heinlein novella and begin reading a short story, then returned to the writing around 2. By 3, I had another 1300 words.

So 2000 words in four hours, and another 1300 in one hour. Maybe there’s something to this calming down and taking breaks stuff Dean preaches all the time. (grin)

Stopped for a few minutes to add to this Journal (just the writing stuff down here) and now to take a short walk.

The walk turned out to be a little longer than I expected. I realized I hadn’t seen the little girl for awhile. She’s so tiny she can hide pretty much anywhere. As is often the case, she finally walked out from underneath some brush and found me.

I’m not entirely sure what I would do without her.

One ballgame or another is on probably at 5 this afternoon, so I’ll turn-to for about another hour of writing, then call it a day. Right now I’m at a “natural stopping point,” and that’s probably the worst possible place to stop. I’d have to come back to a blank page. So I’ll finish the chapter I’m working on now, then begin a new one before I stop for the day.

Sure glad I sat down yesterday, put my fingers on the keyboard, and just wrote the next sentence. If I hadn’t, this one might have been dead in the water too.

Also I know I can pull a short story for this week too out of what I’ve written in the past two days. So the pressure’s off there. Maybe even the first of a series of short stories. “The Edge of Time” series. Hmm.

Okay, a little over 1100 more words in another hour. A good day.

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 4418
Nonfiction Words: 630 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 5048

Writing of The Consensus

Day 1…… 1833 words. Total words to date…… 1833
Day 2…… 2304 words. Total words to date…… 4137
Day 3…… 2465 words. Total words to date…… 6602
Day 4…… 4418 words. Total words to date…… 11020

Total fiction words for the month……… 38685
Total fiction words for the year………… 624203
Total nonfiction words for the month… 13510
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 228850

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 853053

The Journal, Monday, 10/17

Hey Folks,

Well, up a little before 4 after a late night watching the game and then a new Brit show that just started on PBS. Well-written show called The Durrells on Corfu.

Outside to freeze with a cigar (low 40s) and be serenaded by some seriously off-tune coyotes.

I wrote everything below by about 9:30. I also posted the topic below to my main blog for release on October 25, so that took a little while.

Now I’m on my way in to change out of my sweats and long woolies and into my another-day-in-the-desert clothes. Then to a day with The Consensus.

Well, I honestly expected a good day of writing, but it didn’t turn out that way. I won’t bore you with details. Suffice it to say there was a whole thing with trying to renew some of my domain names (for my personas’ websites) and some other stuff.

Still, the new daily goal I reinstituted on myself works.

I almost tossed in the towel early, at around 3. But I would either have had to count today as a non-writing day or put down a disgustingly small word count.

When I remembered I had reinstituted my daily goal, I went back to the story, put my fingers on the keyboard, and wrote the first thing that came to mind. Then I wrote the next sentence, then the next sentence and so on. (Writing into the dark, anyone?)

And it worked. You’ll see the result below. Had I stopped when I was going to and hadn’t called it a non-writing day, the count would have been a very small three-digit number.

But armed with the need to hit a daily word count goal and the knowledge that I can write right up until around 4:30 or 4:45 (ACLS tonight at 5) I kept going. Still didn’t hit my daily goal, but I came a lot closer.

Vive le daily goal. (grin)

Back tomorrow.

Topic: NaNoWriMo (yawn, stretch)

A friend sent me some information re the upcoming NaNoWriMo annual “challenge.”

In case you’re interested, the link is Tips for Surviving the Agony and Ecstasy of NaNoWriMo. There, I’ve done my civic duty. Now I can play a bit.

Okay, first, how about that title, eh? I mean, seriously, “The Agony and Ecstasy”? Does that evoke a picture of a poor, beleagured, suffering-for-his-art writer with one forearm flung dramatically across his forehead or what? (grin)

I’m joking. Really. I don’t knock anyone who does NaNoWriMo. I know a few writers I respect a great deal who take part every year. (One is Sam, one is Ann and one is Dawn. There are probably others, and that’s fine.)

My friend also mentioned that NaNoWriMo is very similar to WITD (Writing Into the Dark).

Well, sorry, but it isn’t. The only way it even approximates WITD is that there are words involved.

WITD practicitoners strive to write clean copy the first time through (including cycling while in creative mind). I’m not even saying WITD is “better,” but it is definitely different. These things aren’t even cousins, unless they’re very distant cousins.

NaNoWriMo participants aren’t called upon to create anything of value. They’re called upon to put down 50,000 consecutive words in a month (about 1667 words per day) with the premeditated intention of going back to “fix” it sometime in the future.

I suspect that’s because it’s loosely tied to (and therefore encourages) the harmful notion that it takes much longer than a month to write a quality 50,000 word novel. (And where’d they come up with that arbitrary 50,000 words?)

For that reason alone, I personally don’t see NaNo as a valid challenge. It’s designed to get the participants started, and then they have eleven months to “clean up” what they wrote before the next NaNo begins.

To me, that’s a lot of silly extra work. And chances are the cleanup will do more harm to the novel than good.

Still, that NaNoWriMo “gets people started” might be the one good thing about it.

Then again, what’s wrong with simply not writing if you don’t have the driving desire to write?

The answer is, Nothing.

And how much is the world harmed if people don’t write because they don’t have that driving desire?

The answer is, About as much as it’s harmed (or helped) when an actual writer finishes a novel and moves on to the next one. Not at all.

Now I DO like the goal aspect of NaNo.

But again, there’s a downside. Realistically, anyone could do the same thing in any given month.

Yeah, I know November is National Novel Writing Month (hence NaNoWriMo), but so what? It could as easily have been any of the other months. Or all of them.

I mean, what’s to keep NaNo participants from setting a goal of writing a 50,000 word novel in ANY month? Or, for that matter, EVERY month?

For example, my goal for this calendar year remains 12 finished, published novels. The difference is that I’ll write each novel cleanly the first time through, then let it go (WITD).

So why not do it in conjunction with NaNoWriMo, report my numbers, etc?

Because when I do it on my own (again, just my preference), I don’t have to hear other voices spouting nonsense about writing rough first drafts, etc. (Some — not all, but some — even advocate “free writing” during NaNo: intentionally not giving a thought to capitalization, punctuation, etc. in favor of speed.)

What would really impress me is to see someone other than Dean Wesley Smith (even me) make it through JaNoWriMo, FebNoWriMo, MarNoWriMo, ApNoWriMo, MarNoWriMo, JuNoWriMo, JulNoWriMo, AugNoWriMo, SepNoWriMo, OcNoWriMo, NovNoWriMo, and DecNoWriMo with a published novel to show for each session. 🙂

Anyway, I’ve already blown my chance at that one with no novels finished in February, March and September of this year. But my goal for next year is already set: at least one completed novel per month and fifteen on the year. (grin)

And if anyone cares to join me in any given month, just holler.

Of Interest

Over at Dean’s place, maybe beating a dead horse with Trust the Reader. But check it out. You might find a gem or two.

It’s Free Fiction Monday over at Kris’s site. As I write this, the story from last week is still up but the new one should be there by the time this posts.

Today’s Writing

Fiction Words: 2465
Nonfiction Words: 1060 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 3525

Writing of The Consensus

Day 1…… 1833 words. Total words to date…… 1833
Day 2…… 2304 words. Total words to date…… 4137
Day 3…… 2465 words. Total words to date…… 6602

Total fiction words for the month……… 34267
Total fiction words for the year………… 619785
Total nonfiction words for the month… 12880
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 228220

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 848005