The Journal, Wednesday, 8/24

Hey Folks,

This is gonna be a long post. I apologize in advance. Just the way it worked out.

After I knocked off for the day yesterday, I went to work. (grin)

I spent about two hours updating the rest of those 2013 – 2015 posts over at the big blog. So I knocked that off my To Do list. Then I moved them from Uncategorized (didn’t go to MailChimp the first time around) to Pro Writers and scheduled them to post in the future. I’m good now through February 2017.

Writer Bonnie Edwards commented on yesterday’s post. I especially enjoyed the quote by James Blaylock, but she talked about some other stuff too that always entertains me.

What I didn’t say in my response was that one of the posts I revisited, revised and moved yesterday had to do (in part) with the kind of comical folks she mentioned in her comment.

I thought you might get a chuckle from it, so I’ve used part of it as the topic below.

The chore fell to me this morning to clean and replenish the three hummingbird feeders we have hanging in the yard. That happens about every other day this time of year. (grin)

One particularly annoying woodpecker hangs upside down from them to help the hummers drain them. At night, the bats take care of the rest.

Also wrote and rewrote the topic for today. Even though it’s a cross-post from the other site, I rewrote and revised it enough that I’m counting the nonfiction words on the day.

In fact, I rewrote it the first time yesterday (rewrite is not a bad word in nonfiction) for the other site, then rewrote it twice this morning.

Now the other post (which will come out in February) reads the same as this one, albeit with a bit more over there. So I cross-posted it eventually from here back over to there. Twice. (grin)

Again, it’s already been a good day and I haven’t started writing yet. I love days like this.

I decided a couple days ago I’m going to try to maintain a 4000 word per day average through the rest of this novel. Should be fun to watch.

Topic: “Oh, I Don’t Write for Money,” (he said, one forearm draped dramatically over his forehead as a glass of wine and a cheese stick balanced precariously in his other hand.)

First, a disclaimer — I am aware there are folks out there who are not writers and don’t care to be. That’s fine. What follows is about those who are or claim to be writers.

Over all the years when I was goofy enough to believe I was making a difference presenting in writers’ conferences and sitting on panels (there’s a waste of time you’ll never get back) in genre conventions, I must have heard it at least a thousand times: “Oh, I’m not into writing for money.”

And every single time, for me, that begged the question, “Then why in the world are you here?” I mean seriously, if you don’t write for money, why are you spending money on the latest conference, convention, or seminar?

Okay, some folks love learning strictly for the sake of learning. Got it.

But what about the other five or six out of a bajillion?

Now don’t get angry. Coming from a (former) writing instructor, “Why do you write?” is a completely valid question. But really, it’s strictly rhetorical.

The fact is, writers who say they don’t write for money belong in one of four groups:

Group One consists of hobby writers.

They really don’t write for money. They also don’t invest much of their own time and money in learning how to write. When they do invest money in their writing, it’s for a good and specific reason.

These are the ones the other family members turn to when someone has to write a eulogy. Perhaps they write to leave a legacy—perhaps a memoir or a family history—so descendants will have a record.

Perhaps they pay a proofreader or copyeditor to clean up the writing a bit, and they might even attend a writing workshop or two. That’s perfectly understandable. Absolutely nothing wrong with being a hobby writer.

Group Two are the same folks, but they harbor a secret desire to be professional writers.

They really don’t write for money either. And they hedge their bets by not investing much of their own time and money in learning how to write. If they don’t learn, they have no reason to write seriously and they will never risk failure.

However, they’re so overcome by the fear of failure that they will never seriously consider themselves writers, nor expect others to consider them writers.

That’s okay too if they can’t overcome the fear, but I hope they find something they love to do and do that instead.

Group Three consists of those who are not writers, will never be writers, and know it. They are who this topic is really all about.

They say that they don’t write for money in a tone that indicates they’re bragging. They believe themselves above scrabbling for the filthy lucre, and generally — if they actually write at all — they’re in pursuit of writing The Great American Novel.

They have an elevated calling, you see, and they’re above the whole sordid mess in which we mere mortals are entangled.

However, for some reason they believe others see them as writers (Pssst! No, we don’t.) and they attach some elevated importance to that as well. They would fit right into the Brit TV show Keeping Up Appearances, and any one of them could play the role of Hyacinth. And they’re precisely as annoying.

Those in this group spend sometimes vast amounts of money on appearing to be a writer. But learning and honing the craft doesn’t matter. Appearance — what others believe about them — is everything.

Shrug. Stretch. Yawn. Okay. Whatever.

Those in Group Four are writers, or at least aspirants who have a real shot at being writers.

Those say (usually humbly) that they don’t write for money either. But they invest time and money wisely in learning and honing the craft. (Like those in Group Two, they’re also hedging their bets, but only out of fear of rejection.) We can lump them in with those in Group Five.

Everyone else belongs in Group Five. They are writers. They never utter “I don’t write for money” unless they’re being sarcastic.

These folks have learned what those in Group Three will never learn: If you want to write, write. It’s that simple.

Neither do they think nonstop of all the money they’re going to make. That isn’t what it’s about. They just write.

As one personal example, I seriously doubt I’ll ever make a solid living with my writing. But I also seriously expect my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will rake in cash by the barrel load. And that’s fine. But I get all the fun of telling the stories and putting them out there. (grin)

Let’s pause here for a moment so you can do a quick self-assessment if you want to. Nobody’s judging. Whether and why you belong in any of the first four groups is strictly up to you to decide.

Okay, all done?

Good. Now, here’s what you do.

If you belong in Group One, Two or Three, you can go home now.

Stop reading this and go find something fun to do.

Why? Because I see no reason to take you seriously, or at all, as a writer. And frankly, if you’re in Group One or Two, you don’t expect me to. In fact, you’re probably laughing along with the rest of us.

If you’re in Group Three and you’re still reading — well, sorry.

I realize you expect the rest of us to not only realize you’re a writer but admire your tenacity, etc. Here you go. Let’s see if I can hit the high spots:

  • You expect the rest of us to grovel and beg for an autographed copy of your recent release.
  • You authored your book (but not for filthy lucre) and are selling for some exorbitant amount because it’s Just That Good.
  • Oh, and because you paid some subsidy publisher a few thousand dollars to like it enough to publish it.

That about right?

You’re also probably madder than eight wildcats in an oil drum right now. But really, just chill and go find something you actually enjoy doing. Seriously.

Now, if you’re in Group Four or Five (Bonnie), hey, this entire post celebrates you. I’m pulling for you, I’m proud of you and I’m glad you’re one of us.

Keep learning, keep writing, and keep making wise investments in your education.

But don’t tell people you aren’t writing for money. Just keep having fun making stuff up.

Of Interest

A good post with a good gem or two over on Dean’s site today on Novel Challenge Day Six. He talks about failing to success.

The Day

Rolled out right at 3:30 after 7 hours of sleep. Seven hours seems to be working into my norm. I’d prefer 6, but I guess I have to do what the body prefers. (grin)

Moved to the outside desk about 4:15, worked on the topic above, etc. All of that took until 5:45, then filled the hummingbird feeders.

That consumed about twenty mminutes this morning. Then I took care of a few other things, Facebook, email etc.

So 6:50, still at the outside desk, finally to the novel. Since I have to read back a bit anyway, I’m gonna (finally) create a reverse outline.

7:30, the reverse outline is up to date. Taking a short break to prepare to head out to the Hovel.

8 a.m., in the Hovel and to the novel. Despite a few short breaks to share some almonds with a few baby squirrels about 20 feet from the door of the hovel, I added 1200 words to the novel in the past hour and a half. At 9:30, a brief break.

9:50, back to the novel. After adding another 1200 words, another break at 10:50. I’ll go to the house and check on the babies. Man I wish all my novels would run this fast. (grin)

11:20, back to the novel. After another 700 words, I’m taking a break at 11:50 to take care of something I just remembered. Gotta cut some cardboard and cover the tires on my trailer. If I don’t do it now, I might forget. Back in a bit.

Well, that took only about 15 minutes. But I took the knife back to the house and decided to check email etc. while I was there. Anyway…

12:20, back to the novel. 1:40, Well, I decided to go through and change a lot of the spelling of some of the bad guys’ dialogue to heavy dialect using truncated words and phonetic spellings. Labor intensive, that.

So a little over an hour gone on that, and now to the house to grab a sandwich or something and check on the babies.

2:30, back to the novel.

Calling it a day a little after 3.

Back tomorrow.

Today’s Writing

Fiction Words: 4249
Nonfiction Words: 1850 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 6099

Writing of Haley’s Story (working title, action-adventure novel)

Day 1…… 1005 words. Total words to date…… 1005 words
Day 2…… 4551 words. Total words to date…… 5566 words
Day 3…… 4776 words. Total words to date…… 10342 words
Day 4…… 5336 words. Total words to date…… 15678 words
Day 5…… 4698 words. Total words to date…… 20376 words
Day 6…… 4238 words. Total words to date…… 24614 words
Day 7…… 4249 words. Total words to date…… 28863 words

Total fiction words for the month……… 84776
Total fiction words for the year………… 514928
Total nonfiction words for the month… 19170
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 185850

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 700778

The Journal, Tuesday, 8/23

Hey Folks,

It’s already been a great day here (at 7:40 a.m.) and I haven’t even started writing yet.

My mind is racing this morning, remembering things I let slip earlier and taking off in different directions from some of those things.

So after I moved to the Hovel and wrote a lot of the stuff below, I also created a “Current To-Do” list and put it where I’ll see it often.

Items there include

  • writing the post for next week re my ghostwriting service (see “The Day” below),
  • reading through (aloud) and publishing my two most-recent novels,
  • uploading more of my work to BundleRabbit (and finding other bundling resources),
  • prepping my last seven novels for possible print-layout, and
  • going through more of my old pro-writers posts, then updating those and reposting them to the main Pro Writers blog over on the big site.

Of course, I’ll do all that around my writing time each day. Though I might take one “day off” if necessary later in the week to catch up on all of it at one time.

That’s pretty funny, actually. If I do that, I’ll be taking a day off from playing and enjoying myself to trudge through some work. (grin)

* * *

This is gonna sound weird, but this novel is flying along so fast I’m almost afraid I’m going to finish it too soon.

Still, I feel like I’m at about the halfway point (probably a little less), so I’ll probably clear 4,000 words again today. Even with the very serious subject matter, this one has been a great deal of fun to write.

Topic: Lessons I Have Learned

What follows are several of the more important things I’ve learned as a writer. Other than the tenets of grammar and syntax, I learned most of them over the past three years.

I’ve annotated them lightly. Possibly some of these will become topics for later posts.

The first three are synonymous with Heinlein’s first four business habits for writers.

You must write and you must finish what you write (HR 1 and 2). A writer is always either writing or looking forward to getting back to writing.

Rewriting (HR 3) and revising is not writing. Cycling is writing. Writing is a function of the subconscious, creative mind.

You must submit or publish what you write (HR 4). Well, if you want to earn a living. Otherwise, what’s the point? (grin)

Write to entertain yourself first. This one took me awhile to learn. But about three novels back, maybe four, I finally got it. I wasn’t in a rush to publish any of those. Two of them still aren’t published. I hope to read them aloud this weekend (but around my writing time) and then publish them. Because again, otherwise what’s the point?

Writing-related tasks are not writing. At those times when you aren’t writing, you aren’t a writer. You’re a doing-something-elser: rewriter, researcher, reader, learner. In the foregoing list above, the first is not only unnecessary, but harmful.

When you’re stuck, just write the next sentence. No need to annotate this.

When you stop writing for the day, always leave a jagged edge. Never stop writing for the day at a clean ending. If you reach the end of a scene or chapter, begin another scene or chapter.

Keep coming back. Even if only for 15 minutes or a half-hour. Keep coming back. You’ll be amazed how the words pile up.

“Someday” pertains to dreams, not goals. “Someday” doesn’t pertain to things that are within your control. If it’s within your control and you want it, do it.

Of Interest

Dean slipped on Day 5, but his “slip” still got him over 4,000 words. The guy’s work ethic is an amazing catalyst.

If you’re interested in learning to write action in anything, I recommend reading H.A. Jones’ post on Ben Haas.

Later in that article, you’ll find a link to writing advice directly from Ben Haas.

About those unedited pages you’ll find at the second link, one commenter wrote “More here in four typewritten pages than you’ll find in many a scholarly writing manual.” I agree.

Another guy wrote that he “doesn’t agree” with much of what Haas wrote in those pages. I pretty much always agree with anything a prolific writer offers as advice. I at least keep it in mind.

The Day

Rolled out a little after 3:30. At the outside desk by 4 where I found pulp writer Ben Haas’ name and did some research. You’ll find some of that in “Of Interest” above.

Around 5 I was preparing a post for today over on the other site about my new ghostwriting service. But I realized I need to take my time with that, so I’ll post that next Tuesday.

Moved out to the Hovel around 6:30. Between then and 7:30 I wrote everything above this (got through the first several items in the topic and left it to add more later).

Then at 7:30, I walked up to the house to talk with my wife about the possibility of doing print books, both for the purpose of price-comparison with ebooks and to sell through our own online stores in Ebay, Amazon and StoneThread Publishing. To me this seems like a smart thing to do.

8:10, finally back to the novel. Well, sidetracked at around 8:30 by an old friend on FB looking for my contact info. Answered him, then stayed there for a bit.

9 a.m., back to the novel. By 10:20, after several small interruptions, I managed to add a thousand words to the novel. Up to the house for a little while.

10:45, back to the novel. By 11:40, I added another 1000 words. Back to the house for a short break and to check on the babies.

12 noon, back to the novel. At 12:45, after adding another 800 words to the story, a brief break.

1:15, back to the novel. This might be my final session for today. At 2 p.m. I took a “working” break to look over what I’ve written above. I added a couple things. Now back to the novel.

Okay, a bit of a short final session, sort of, and I’m stopping for the day at just over 4200 words.

Back tomorrow. Thanks for coming along.

Today’s Writing

Fiction Words: 4238
Nonfiction Words: 940 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 5178

Writing of Haley’s Story (working title, action-adventure novel)

Day 1…… 1005 words. Total words to date…… 1005 words
Day 2…… 4551 words. Total words to date…… 5566 words
Day 3…… 4776 words. Total words to date…… 10342 words
Day 4…… 5336 words. Total words to date…… 15678 words
Day 5…… 4698 words. Total words to date…… 20376 words
Day 6…… 4238 words. Total words to date…… 24614 words

Total fiction words for the month……… 80527
Total fiction words for the year………… 510679
Total nonfiction words for the month… 17320
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 184000

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 694679

The Journal, Monday, 8/22

Hey Folks,

Well, it dawned on me this morning soon after I got up that I had a short story (derived from the current novel) to publish.

So over the next few hours I created a cover and a promo doc, then formatted the story for two distributors and to post. I published the story to the distributors and my website, then scheduled it to release on September 30 as the Free Short Story of the Week.

So no writing early (as usual) but a good, productive morning. I forgot to send it to my donors, so I hopped on the hotspot and did that soon after I got to the Hovel.

Topic: Pricing

I’ve been talking with DWS and a few others recently about pricing. And by the way, if any of you would care to add your thoughts on the topic, please email me or leave a comment below.

What spurred some of those chats is something I noticed about traditional publishing’s price points for ebooks.

I like James Lee Burke’s novels. A lot. But not enough to pay $12.99 for an ebook.

The other day when I was on Amazon.com considering one of his books, I realized I could get the paper edition for only a few more dollars. And that’s when the realization hit.

Now, when I was publishing my novels to paper, I did so strictly for the comparison on the book’s page at Amazon.

My reasoning? The reader will see the paper edition for $15.99 or $16.99 or whatever, then see EXCACTLY THE SAME BOOK, cover and all, in the electronic edition for only $4.99 or $5.99.

So I was using the paper edition, primarily, to drive ebook sales. And it seemed to work fairly well.

I’ve sold very few paper books. That’s fine. The royalty was only $2 and small change for each sale. (And that’s only when you select “expanded distribution,” which means you have to put a higher cover price on the book.)

On the other hand, I’ve sold a LOT of ebooks, and when one of those sells for $4.99, the royalty is $3.49. (And even higher at Smashwords.)

So I wondered about traditional publishing’s exorbitant prices. But I think I’ve figured it out.

Instead of using paper prices to drive ebook sales (like I and most indie publishers do) they seem to be using daunting ebook prices to drive up paper sales. After all, since they use offset printing and do massive print runs, their per-copy cost per book is extremely low.

The upshot?

I’m gonna stick to my considerably lower prices for ebooks to drive ebook sales when compared with the much higher prices (extended distribution) on paper books.

Of Interest

Dean’s ongoing quest to finish his WIP in seven days. Should be interesting to watch.

The Day

Rolled out just before 3 a.m. Outside by 4.

Worked on formatting etc. the story I wrote yesterday (excerpted from the WIP novel), grabbed some breakfast and moved to the Hovel around 6:30 and started working on everything above.

While writing the topic I was sidetracked and considered again putting all my newer novels (seven of them) in print, then selling them directly through StoneThread Publishing.

That led me to get back on my hotspot and query a print layout person as to pricing. I just don’t want to learn to do all that stuff myself.

8:30, (finally) to the novel. At 9:15, after cycling for most of an hour and with 900 new words done, a break.

9:45, back to the novel. 10:50, another short break. I only got 500 words this hour, but I went to the house twice (once for a broom and my sunglasses) and swept the area around and under my desk. One thing about having an adobe office — there’s always dirt on the floor.

11:05, back to the novel. 12:20, after 1100 more words, a bit longer break. My latest story (the one excerpted from my WIP) is up at Amazon, so I’m going to add it to my Short Stories page. That and grab some lunch, then spend some time with my 4-legged son and daughters.

1:10, back to the novel. 2:10, after another 900 words, another short break.

2:20, back to the novel. This thing’s still moving along so fast I can only barely keep up. But I’m already getting tired. Not sure I’ll have a good word count today.

3:20, one really good hour later, just under 1300 words. Like I said, when I’m not cycling, the novel’s flying right along. So much for not having a good writing day.

I’m at a really good stopping point, I’m gonna call it a day.

See you tomorrow.

Today’s Writing

Fiction Words: 4698
Nonfiction Words: 750 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 5448

Writing of Haley’s Story (action-adventure novel)

Day 1…… 1005 words. Total words to date…… 1005 words
Day 2…… 4551 words. Total words to date…… 5566 words
Day 3…… 4776 words. Total words to date…… 10342 words
Day 4…… 5336 words. Total words to date…… 15678 words
Day 5…… 4698 words. Total words to date…… 20376 words

Total fiction words for the month……… 76289
Total fiction words for the year………… 506441
Total nonfiction words for the month… 16380
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 183060

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 689501

The Journal, Sunday, 8/21

Hey Folks,

I started the day off wonderfully when I found Dr. Mardy’s Quotes of the Week newsletter in my inbox. It was all about two of my favorite people and writers, the mystery man and Mark Russell.

If you haven’t subscribed, I recommend it. To subscribe, send a blank message to drmardy-on@mail-list.com. If you want to see today’s newsletter only, You Can Read It Here.

Announcement

Need a ghostwriter for your short story, novella or novel?

I’m sure none of you are in this particular boat, but you might know someone who is. Please spread the word for me.

I’ve been writing prolifically for the past couple of years across many genres and under several pen names or personas.

As a result I’ve decided to offer my services as a ghostwriter, but for fiction only.

My price range is competitive and I love what I do. I’m an expert at retaining the voice of the eventual author.

So if you know anyone who has a story in them but lacks either the time or the passion to sit down and commit it to the page, please pass along my name. Have them email me directly with their idea at harveystanbrough@gmail.com.

I appreciate it. And if you’d like a finder’s fee, well, you and I can discuss that as well. Just be sure the person mentions that you referred him or her.

Topic: A Trick for You

I mentioned yesterday that I’m still training myself to write for about an hour per session (about 1000 words) and then take a break.

The retraining isn’t easy, but neither is it difficult. It isn’t something that can be achieved (at least by me) in one lump sum.

Rather, I’ve realized, it’s something that happens over time, with practice.

I’m pretty much at the point where my brain shuts down after an hour so so. My big battle for awhile (to vastly overstate it) has become reaching a particular number goal.

This is especially true later in the writing day when I’ve been at it awhile. It’s more than easy, especially once I’ve hit my daily word count, to say “Well, that’s enough for today.”

But it often isn’t. Often I want to keep writing because the story is running. But even then, my conscious mind sometimes tries to shut me down with the “that’s enough for today” ploy.

But I’ve found a way to mostly overcome that. Especially when the story is running. And that’s the first trick I want to share with you.

The Trick

First, the numbers (word counts, etc.) are not important in the slightest in any real way. They are important to me personally ONLY in that they drive me to sit down at the computer in the first place.

So when I sit down to write, whether for the first session or coming back, the thought in the back of my mind is always “Well, it’s only a thousand words.” I don’t think about time. I don’t think about it being an hour-long session, because I’ve already slain that particular dragon.

Now for me, 1000 words is a little daunting. I can only assume that’s because there are four numerals in a row. (Yep, it’s that simple.)

Why that assumption? Because 999 words doesn’t seem nearly as daunting. But 999 words is only one word less. See? For me, in how it affects my psyche, 999 words is the same as 450 words or 100 words. It’s just three digits, and for me, writing to three digits is pretty much automatic.

This becomes especially important when I’m approaching a particular number goal and still a little short. I think, “Well, I only need another 370 words (or whatever).”

And again, the numbers aren’t important. They just start me writing. But the thought enables me to start writing again. Then I get lost in the WIP and ALWAYS exceed whatever the number was. Wonderful fun.

Yesterday, I ended the day with 4776 words. And yes, even then (after I glanced at the bottom left of my Word document and noted the word count) my first thought was, “Man, I could easily make this a 5000 word day.” The key word in that thought is “easily.” And I could have. After all, 5000 is only another 224 words. (grin)

But I was tired. And near the end of the day is the only time when I pay attention to Time. It was getting close to 3 p.m., which is often the end of my writing day. I’m a little paranoid about getting this Journal wrapped up and “out there” every day.

So I stopped. Because I was tired, I allowed “that’s enough for today” to take over and I stopped.

Now one of my overall learning/retraining goals is to push the tired feeling back to 5000+ or 6000+ words. And I’ll get there.
It just takes time.

One note: I’m not trying to reach five or six or seven thousand words in a day so I can finish this novel quickly. I’m not even trying to write fast. I’m just writing, and I enjoy writing, telling stories, more than anything else I do. So the longer I can enjoy writing, the less time I have to do anything else, which for me is fine.

Of Interest

Nothing today other than DWS’ personal challenge to finish his novel in seven days. But be sure to check Kris Rusch’s site tomorrow for her Free Fiction Monday.

The Day

Rolled out at 3:30 and headed outside by 4. There, as has become my habit, I just messed around online for a couple hours. A game or two, email, Facebook, etc.

At around 7 I wrote the topic above, then the announcement. Now I’m going to take a break, then get back to my novel. (grin)

Got to the Hovel around 8, but had an important email come in, so I hopped on the mobile hotspot for a few minutes and responded.

8:15, to the novel. 9:20, after an hour and just under 900 words, a brief break.

9:30, to the novel. 10:20, Slow going for another hour with some cycling and another 600 words, then another break.

10:40, back to the novel. At 11:40, with a little over 1000 words, off to grab some lunch.

11:50, back to the novel. 1:05, with another 1200 words, taking a short break.

1:30, back to the novel after taking a few minutes to add the “note” at the end of the topic above.

Okay, at 2:45 I’m calling it a very good day.

I also got a good short story out of today’s writing, so that’s the short story for this week. (grin) I won’t count the words separately, of course.

Back tomorrow.

Today’s Writing

Fiction Words: 5336
Nonfiction Words: 1100 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 6436

Writing of “The Bad Man and the Boxer” (story of the week, but words not added to total)

Day 1…… 2432 words. Total words to date…… 2432 words (done)

Writing of Haley’s Story (action-adventure novel)

Day 1…… 1005 words. Total words to date…… 1005 words
Day 2…… 4551 words. Total words to date…… 5566 words
Day 3…… 4776 words. Total words to date…… 10342 words
Day 4…… 5336 words. Total words to date…… 15678 words

Total fiction words for the month……… 71591
Total fiction words for the year………… 501743
Total nonfiction words for the month… 15630
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 182310

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 684053

The Journal, Saturday, 8/20

Hey Folks,

Well, it’s going to be a very temperate day here today. For that reason I’m making this a non-writing day. I’ll work around the house and yard instead to get some things off my honeydo list.

UPDATE: Nope. I was gonna make this a non-writing day, but that turned out not to be necessary. Turned out to be a really good day for a “non-writing” day. (grin)

I got a lot of mesquite beans raked up, then picked up and dumped elsewhere. Also drilled a hole through the handle of my pitchfork and wired the head to the handle. It’s one of those modern “good quality” things that works fine until you need it to. Tell you what, it’ll work now.

If you’re relatively new to this Journal, taking a nonwriting day is not my norm. To see the true value of the Journal, I encourage you to scroll down to past entries.

Topic: Retraining Yourself

Yesterday, in that comment from DWS’s site that I posted here, he shot down (again) the myth about “fast writing” being worse than “slow writing.”

As he pointed out plainly, “fast writing” in itself is a myth. We all write at a certain rate of words per hour. So if you write 1000 words per hour (17 words per minute, my usual speed) you will finish a 40,000 word novel in 40 hours.

So whether you write a novel “fast” just depends on how many hours per day you sit in the chair and make stuff up.

If you write 1000 words per hour and write 8 hours per day, five days per week, you’ll finish your 40,000 word novel in five days. It’s all math.

If you write 1000 words per hour and write only one hour per week, you’ll finish your novel in 40 weeks (23.3 months).

In the first case you’ll be seen as a prolific writer. In the second, you’ll be seen as a careful “slow” writer.

But DWS does one thing I’ve never been able (yet) to emulate. He has trained himself, his mind, to “shut down” roughly every thousand words. Every hour.

When that happens, he gets up, moves around and comes back to the keybboard to write another thousand words. Or he watches TV for a while and THEN comes back. Or he runs errands or works at his stores or whatever.

But regardless, he shuts down every hour or so, then comes back and writes another thousand words.

That’s something I’m currently (still) trying to train myself to do. I mean, for a guy to have lasted over 40 years in this business, he has to know what he’s doing, right?

All I can tell you is this:

I’ve been practicing at “coming back” and at “breaking every hour” for two years and four months or thereabouts.

On May 20, 2014, I wrote a Pro Writers blog post titled “Retraining.” In that post, I pointed out that I was trying to train myself to break every hour.

But also, 2000 words was a good day for me back then. Today the spectre of getting only 2000 polished, publication ready words on the page in a day is frightening to me. And one of the reasons is that I’m learning, slowly, to do two things:

1. While you’re writing, break once every hour. Still not completely there, but I’m getting closer almost every day.

2. While you’re in the chair to write, actually WRITE. On this one too, I’m not quite there, but I’m coming along.

I don’t allow interruptions (or get distracted) as easily as I did even a month ago. When I’m sitting in the chair, especially at my outside desk (fiction writing area) or out in the Hovel (fiction writing area) I write fiction.

When I want or need to do other things, I break.

So this is a work in progress. But I’m MAKING progress, and that’s what matters.

It IS possible to teach an old dog new tricks, especially when the dog wants to learn. I hope you’re making progress too.

Of Interest

Nothing that I could find. DWS is in the middle of a novel challenge if you want to follow along over on his site. He just reported on Day Two of a seven-day challenge.

The Day

Rolled out at 3:30 and almost immediately began working to finalize a boilerplate agreement for the new venture I’m starting soon.

I was mostly finished with the boilerplate by around 6, so I started raking mesquite beans, etc.

Checked the weather forecast online and decided to make today a nonwriting day. Then around 9:30 I found out that wasn’t necessary. Headed out to the Hovel and wrote most of the stuff above.

9:45, to the novel.

11 a.m., taking a short break with about 1200 words done.

11:20, back to the novel. This thing is flying along almost faster than I can type. Still cycling back about every thousand words to enhance necessary descriptions, etc., then moving right along.

12:05, another thousand words, another break.

12:20, back to it.

1:10, 3500 words on the day, so one more break and one more session at least.

1:30, back to the novel.

2:40, with around 4700 words on the day, I’m calling it. I’ll head for the house, then write the topic so you guys have something interesting to read. (grin)

Back tomorrow.

Today’s Writing

Fiction Words: 4776
Nonfiction Words: 900 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 5676

Writing of Haley’s Story (action-adventure novel)

Day 1…… 1005 words. Total words to date…… 1005 words
Day 2…… 4551 words. Total words to date…… 5566 words
Day 3…… 4776 words. Total words to date…… 10342 words

Total fiction words for the month……… 66255
Total fiction words for the year………… 496407
Total nonfiction words for the month… 14530
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 181210

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 677617

The Journal, Friday, 8/19

Hey Folks,

Interesting comment and response over on Dean’s site this morning. Under his post on Writing a Novel Quickly, a respondent wrote

Got [The Idanha Hotel, the last novel DWS wrote in 7 days], and another random Thunder Mountain novel. I’m curious if I see any difference in quality with 7 day novel vs. regular speed novel (which is probably 14-21 days anyway, so not that much difference, haha).

and DWS replied

Still believing in the old myth, huh? I spend the same amount of time sitting at a computer for a novel that takes a month to write as I do for a novel that takes seven days to write. I just spend less time per day on the month novel. Doesn’t make it better, just shows me as being more lazy.

The myth he’s talking about is that fast writing is a sure sign of shoddy work. If it doesn’t take months or years to write a novel, the novel can’t possibly be any good. And of course, that simply isn’t true.

In fact, the opposite is true if all the extra time includes editing (except copyediting), rewriting, polishing and so on.

All “fast writing” really means is putting in the hours in the chair and actually, you know, writing.

But I’ve never seen or heard it explained more succinctly than DWS explains it in that brief comment.

Like I’ve said often here, there are gems of wisdom to be mined over there. This is why I always read the comments on previous posts.

Topic: Nothing today.

Of Interest

My new short story posts on Story of the Week today. If you’re not a donor and you’d like to read “As Long As We’re Wishing” free, stop by HarveyStanbrough.com. Want a teaser? What would it really be like to know then what you know now?

The Day

Rolled out late at almost 4:30. Outside by 4:45, checking Dean’s site and other routine morning things. Basically I did nothing much but drink coffee, check emails, read newsletters  and so on until around 8. That’s when I headed out to the Hovel.

Got started on the novel right at 8:30 and took a break about once each hour ranging from a few minutes (stepping outside and walking around) to a half-hour while I checked email etc. up at the house.

At 12:30, with just under 3000 words on the day, I’m headed to the house for lunch.

And at 12:40 I’m back. Decided to bring lunch to the Hovel with me. I’m really into this book right now.

2:30, calling it a (short) day. I have another project I’m working on. I hope to make the announcement sometime next week. But to do that I have to finish laying the groundwork. So I’m off to work on that for a couple hours.

Thanks for following along folks. Back tomorrow.

Today’s Writing

Fiction Words: 4551
Nonfiction Words: 460 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 5011

Writing of Haley’s Story (action-adventure novel)

Day 1…… 1005 words. Total words to date…… 1005 words
Day 2…… 4551 words. Total words to date…… 5566 words

Total fiction words for the month……… 61479
Total fiction words for the year………… 491631
Total nonfiction words for the month… 13630
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 180310

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 671941

The Journal, Thursday, 8/18

Hey Folks,

Chilly out here again this morning at about 60°. That time of year is rapidly approaching when I’ll be glad the walls Adobe Hovel retain the heat of the day.

I got all the admin work done for the story I wrote yesterday. That included preparing a promo document (see the topic below), eformatting for Smashwords, D2D, and to post the story free on my site. (It will go live on September 16.)

In admin time I also include creating a cover and resizing it into three sizes (2000 x 3000, 180 x 270, and 150 x 225), then submitting everything to Smashwords, D2D and Amazon.

Finally I post the story to my website for a scheduled release date and upload both the smaller cover sizes to the site as well. The 180 x 270 cover accompanies the story on the story-of-the-week post. The smaller one goes on my Short Stories page and serves as a buy link (a day or so later) to Amazon.

The process of posting the new 150 x 225 cover to my Short Stories page is involved, and that’s an understatement. I have to go into the back end in Text view, add the new table data (TD) and copy/paste the whole thing (the whole page) to a Notepad document. Then I go back and manipulate the table rows (TR) once for each row you see on the page, then save and copy/paste the whole thing back onto the website.

I’m not complaining. That entire process takes only about ten minutes. Still, it’s mind-numbingly repetitive and extremely easy to mess up. Thankfully, it’s also easy to fix. (grin)

If any of you would like to know more about that, let me know and I’ll send you the back end Notepad document so you can see it.

If you wonder about doing your own eformatting and/or submitting your work for distribution to Smashwords et al, pick up a free copy of my ebook, The Essentials of Digital Publishing. It’s a little outdated, but not much. (For example, I’m not sure there are step-by-step submission procedures for D2D.)

To get your copy, just visit HarveyStanbrough.com and click the Free Stuff tab. Or you can pick up a copy at Amazon or Smashwords (or other venues) for $9.99. Amazing how many of those I sell when I offer it free on my website. (grin)

Topic: The Promo Doc, A Time Saver

For each story I write, I create a promo doc. Despite that “doc” tag, I create it as a simple text document.

Doing so feels like a frustrating waste of time at first, but it isn’t as frustrating or annoying as having to retype all the information for each distributor.

So I create the promo doc and then copy/paste from it to each distributor (Smashwords, Amazon, D2D).

There are only four entries in the promo doc.

The first line is the title.

The second line is the publisher. (For short stories, that’s FrostProof808. For story collections, novellas and novels, it’s StoneThread Publishing.)

The third entry is the story description. For short stories, it’s usually a teaser of around 30 to 50 words. I use the same description for both the short and long description at Smashwords, and for the description at D2D and Amazon.

For most of my novels, I also write a much longer description. I use it for the long description at Smashwords and for the description at D2D and Amazon.

The short description at Smashwords can be no longer than 400 characters (not words), including spaces. For example, my short description for In the Siberian Fields was 393 characters and 58 words.

The long description at Smashwords (and again, I use it also at Amazon and D2D) is limited to 4,000 characters, including spaces. I’ve yet to reach the limit. The long description for In the Siberian Fields was 2,155 characters and 376 words.

The fourth and final entry on the promo document consists of Internet search terms. What might a reader be searching for? What keywords might he or she use to find your book?

When you consider these, don’t include your name or the title. Those already will pop up in search results.

Amazon limits you to seven search terms, separated by commas. (One search term can be longer than one word.) I usually write more than that (if necessary) and make sure the more important ones are within the first seven listed.

Then I copy/paste those terms to D2D (they allow as many as you want) and Amazon (they cut off anything after seven terms). So it’s easy-peasy.

Smashwords is more clunky in that regard. You have to enter each term separately, then hit the Enter key. I find it easier and faster to just write the search terms one at a time for Smashwords than to copy/paste each individual search term.

My search terms for Smashwords and Amazon for In the Siberian Fields were these: science fiction, jews, psychological suspense, lunar colony, inter-arab war, mining bones, second holocaust. (I copied these from Smashwords and they render everything in lower case. At D2D and Amazon, appropriate capitalization would be evident.)

For D2D for this novel, I might also add “horror” “terror” “ghosts” and “novel.”

Any questions on creating a promo doc or if I can help in any way, please either comment below or send me an email.

Of Interest

A pretty good post on Writing a Novel Quickly over at Dean’s place today.

I also recommend skipping down and reading the comments on his post from yesterday on Enough for the Moment. I even added one.

Ooh, got this one late. Be sure to check out Kris Rusch’s post on Agent Agreements. She says “All writers should read this, even if they’re indie published.” I definitely will read it. I hope you do too.

The Day

Rolled out at 3 and was outside by 3:15. I piddled around for a bit, then remembered I hadn’t done all the admin stuff on the short story I wrote yesterday, so I did that. About two hours on that.

I spent almost another hour (it’s a little after 6 now) writing the stuff above this. Now I’m headed over to Dean’s site for my daily dose of mining gems.

Biscuits and gravy and ham for breakfast (yeah, I’m a troglodyte) and headed out to the Hovel.

7:30, to the Angel story.

8:20, 800 words in, a break to see my wife off to her job.

12:30, with three more breaks over the past few hours, I finished “Pete and the Angel” (yesterday’s untitled angel story).Turns out it didn’t want to be a novel. (grin) This one will post on September 23. With 3500 words on the day, I’m gonna take a break.

2:45, Well I screwed up, sort of. I extened the break and used a lot of it to format the cover, prepare it for posting, and create a cover. I could’ve done that tonight. Oh well. Back to the writing. I want to at least get something started today.

3:50, calling it a day. I got a good start on a new action-adventure novel set along the southern border of Arizona. I have a feeling this is gonna be fun. (grin)

Back tomorrow.

Today’s Writing

Fiction Words: 4519
Nonfiction Words: 1180 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 5699

Writing of “Pete and the Angel” (story of the week)

Day 1…… 1974 words. Total words to date…… 1974 words
Day 2…… 3514 words. Total words to date…… 5488 words (done)

Writing of Haley’s Story (action-adventure novel)

Day 1…… 1005 words. Total words to date…… 1005 words

Total fiction words for the month……… 56928
Total fiction words for the year………… 487080
Total nonfiction words for the month… 13170
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 179850

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 666930

The Journal, Wednesday, 8/17

Hey Folks,

Well, I got one comment on yesterday’s post and five private emails. All expressed concern about the whining I did here yesterday. (grin)

Interesting. First, thank you to everyone who wrote. But it was only whining, nothing more. I promise. I think I just needed a few days off, and was spurred on in that pursuit by the recent camping trip.

I didn’t have to take off even the Friday and Saturday that we were in the field. I mean, I had my laptops (yep, plural, two of ’em ’cause the newer one has a longer battery life) with me, and I even took along a DC/AC converter to plug into the cigarette lighter.

I even plugged it in at one point. It didn’t work right away, and I conveniently forgot the ignition has to be in the ACC setting in order for it to work. (The cigarette lighter works off the alternator so it doesn’t drain the battery.)

Even knowing that, I think maybe the spectre of being stranded 20+ miles deep in the rugged terrain was in the back of my mind, so I didn’t push it.

Besides, there was all this natural beauty all around. And I had my camera. And no responsibilities. So there you go. I simply allowed myself to be sidetracked.

I can’t and don’t speak for anyone else, but for me it’s nothing short of wonderful to be a carefree 12 year old again for a couple of days.

In brief, I could have written for a total of about 8 hours before both batteries in both laptops were exhausted. And I had a thumb drive with me to use to transfer the file from one to the other.

So from a standpoint of time, self-serving excuses aside, I could easily have written a short story on Friday (character with a problem in a setting, GO) to keep my miniature streak alive.

Physically, I was back on Saturday evening. But the 12 year old wasn’t quite ready to let go on Sunday or Monday or, as it turns out, Tuesday.

So he didn’t. He stuck one finger up a nose hole, assumed a voice that eerily resembles tinnitus, and commenced whining about all the reasons he couldn’t do what he knew could do. (grin)

Now, today, finally, I’m back in my role as an adult.

Topic: Listening and Learning

Often, they aren’t the same thing.

As you know, I often recommended reading DWS’ posts and the comments on some of his posts. There are many little gems in those writings, and I recommend mining them.

But I usually eschew specifics. I usually don’t tell you specifically which gems are important and which are not. That’s because what’s right or valuable for one writer is neither right nor valuable for another.

In his recent topic on Making A Living Writing Short Fiction he recommended writing across many genres “and do it all under one name” [instead of using pseudonyms or personas].

I admit to a brief moment of panic. I do write under my own name, but I also write under several personas. (These are different than pen names, as I’ve mentioned before. But the effect is the same.)

Then, much farther along in the article under “Building a Career and Income,” he listed a few reasons the writer “mighht have no sales.” And almost in passing, under number 9, he added “You are writing under four or five names and not linking them in any real fashion to help readers” [emphasis added].

So one of the first things I did this morning (a couple days later) was run to Smashwords to be certain my personas’ author pages were linked to my name. They all were. Whew.

In case you’re wondering how to do that, check out the Smashwords author page for Eric Stringer, one of my more prolific personas. The first line of his bio reads “Eric Stringer (the borderline psychotic persona of Harvey Stanbrough) is a miserably failed newspaper reporter….”

So that was one of the gems I found. I hope you find many.

Of Interest

Check the comments on Dean’s Making a Living post.

The Day

Rolled out at 3:30 to get started on the day. It’s now 6 a.m. and I’ve just finished writing all of the above. I was about to move out to the Hovel, but it’s a nice, chilly morning at 62° so I’m going to stay at the outside desk for awhile.

Well, I moved out to the Hovel around 8 and piddled around with the untitled western for awhile. There are a few scenes in it that I just don’t want to let go so I keep trying to salvage it. Maybe it wants to be a novel. Maybe someday, but not now.

Then around 10 (finally) I started a new short story: “What It Was, Was Gunsmoke.” Finished it in about 2.5 hours. For all the confidence I ususally have (“the story will come, don’t sweat it”) sometimes I fear the words have abandoned me. Silly, I know. But the fear still comes. And when it does, I write something to get over it. Like to show myself I still can.

I took about a half-hour break to mix Gatorade at the house and grab another cigar. Now it’s 1 p.m. and I’m going to start something else. With around 3300 words on the day so far, this should be a good writing day overall.

Okay, got a great start on another story and not sure what length it will be. Frankly, that feels wonderful. Calling it a day at 2:45.

Back tomorrow.

Today’s Writing

Fiction Words: 5348
Nonfiction Words: 930 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 6278

Writing of “Untitled Angel Story” (not sure what this will be)

Day 1…… 1974 words. Total words to date…… 1974 words

Writing of “What It Was, Was Gunsmoke” (story of the week)

Day 1…… 2654 words. Total words to date…… 2654 words (done)

Writing of “Untitled Western” (officially stalled)

Day 1…… 3635 words. Total words to date…… 3635 words
Day 2…… 2373 words. Total words to date…… 6008 words
Day 3…… 0720 words. Total words to date…… 6728 words (stalled)

Total fiction words for the month……… 52409
Total fiction words for the year………… 482561
Total nonfiction words for the month… 11990
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 178670

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 661231

The Journal, Tuesday, 8/16

Hey Folks,

Whining today a bit.

Today I wanted to start writing again in earnest. I planned to write a short story to begin a new streak of writing at least one a week. But frankly, part of me keeps saying I already did that. So apparently my big problem is one of success. (laugh) Just some conscious-mind stuff I have to work through.

I’ve already had a streak of short story writing that extended to 72 weeks. That’s always in the back of my mind. It’s something I’d like to do again (but longer), yet it also seems an insurmountable goal. I’m seeing the elephant right now instead of the single-bite fork in my hand.

Still, anyone who calls himself a writer and enjoys writing short fiction should be able to write at least one short story per week. Even Ray Bradbury himself recommended anyone who wants to be a writer should write at least one short story per week.

But I’m just not able to play in that particular pen right now.

I started four different stories today, and every one of them wanted to be a novel. Not one of them wanted to focus down to one event and be a short story. And I found myself trying to force them.

Normally I’d just take off with a new novel and not worry about it, but my brain is scattered today. For example, which novel start do I want to pursue? I don’t know. None grabs me any more strongly than the others.

So I’m calling this a nonwriting day and taking one more day off. I doubt doing so will cause any major upsets anywhere across the world.

I enjoy the camping trips (though more for the talk than the rest) but I’m not wild about how much they set me back. So maybe some adjustments coming that way too.

Topic: Nothing today

Of Interest

Making a Living With Your Short Fiction.

The Day

Rolled out at 3:30, starting to get back into the groove. We’ll see. Outside by 4:30, but another slow start to the day.

7:30, finally to the Hovel to write.

11 a.m. Wow. I’ve started four different stories this morning, and all of them want to be novels. I’ve never had that particular problem before. (grin)

Calling it a (non-writing) day early. Back tomorrow.

Today’s Writing

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 390 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 390

Writing of “Untitled Western” (story of the week)

Day 1…… 3635 words. Total words to date…… 3635 words
Day 2…… 2373 words. Total words to date…… 6008 words
Day 3…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXX words (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 47061
Total fiction words for the year………… 477213
Total nonfiction words for the month… 11060
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 177740

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 654953

The Journal, Monday, 8/15

Hey Folks,

Well, I screwed up. I left the current novel (innocently enough and with good intention) to write a short story of the week (last week).

I was anticipating investing four to six hours in that story. When I started it, it was supposed to be my “goal story” for that week.

But as stories sometimes do, it became something else. And yesterday the undercurrent in my psyche was that the story was siphoning time away from my novel.

That was conscious mind creeping in, telling me finishing that particular story was “important” for some reason. (Well, I know the reason. It would be Wes Crowley’s first-ever short story for which he was listed as the author.) And it was stressing me out. I allowed it to stress me out because I was tired.

Last night I realized I can “power through” (a decision, so conscious mind) to find the end and finish it or I can go back to what I really love to do, writing, and continue with the novel.

Heh. No contest.

So maybe I’m shelving the untitled western for a bit (or maybe forever — who knows?) so I can get back to the vastly different world of my novel. That’s where my heart currently resides. It’s where my fun is.

I know me. Probably I’ll pull out the untitled western again and finish it. Maybe right after I finish the current WIP. Maybe a month from now. Maybe a year.

But even if I never finish it, so what?

I will have fallen off Heinlein’s Rule #2.

One time. For one story. In the overall scheme, not a big deal.

Topic: Nothing other than the stuff above.

Of Interest

The comments on Finished With One are a must-read.

Also, Myth of Time is excellent.

The Day

Rolled out a little before 5. Finally catching up on a mostly sleep-deprived weekend. My fault, so I’m not complaining. Just reporting.

Moved out to the outside desk by 5:30, and around 6:30 I remembered to open the door to the Hovel so it can air out a bit more.

7:40, to the writing.

10 a.m., the novel is finished at a little over 35,000 words.

Good thing. I had forgotten I have a trip to Tucson today.

Got back from Tucson and a stop at Walmart with just enough time to post this. Calling it a day. Good because I finished a novel but sucky because I missed my word count.

Back tomorrow.

Today’s Writing

Fiction Words: 1802
Nonfiction Words: 410 (Journal)

So total words for the day: 2212

Writing of “Untitled Western” (story of the week)

Day 1…… 3635 words. Total words to date…… 3635 words
Day 2…… 2373 words. Total words to date…… XXXX words
Day 3…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXX words (done)

Writing of Terminus Loop (novel)

Day 1…… 1137 words. Total words to date…… 1137 words
Day 2…… 3871 words. Total words to date…… 5008 words
Day 3…… 4481 words. Total words to date…… 9489 words
Day 4…… 4171 words. Total words to date…… 13660 words
Day 5…… 4188 words. Total words to date…… 17848 words
Day 6…… 3843 words. Total words to date…… 21691 words
Day 7…… 4113 words. Total words to date…… 25804 words
Day 8…… 4321 words. Total words to date…… 30125 words
Day 9…… 3734 words. Total words to date…… 33859 words
Day 10… 1802 words. Total words to date…… 35661 words (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 47061
Total fiction words for the year………… 477213
Total nonfiction words for the month… 10670
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 177350

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 654563