The Journal, Monday, December 11,

Hey Folks,

Well, before I even think about returning to my own fiction, I’ve decided to power-through the first half of my latest copyedit to get it finished.

The author of the novel and I have agreed that I’ll finish the prepaid first half, then bow out of the project. It’s just too rough.

In related news, I’ve recently added several “new” inappropriate tag line verbs to my list. I’ll be publishing those in a topic here soon, and in my ProWriters blog in the future.

Not sure when this Journal will go “daily” again, if ever. But I do suspect I’ll at least be publishing it more often once I’ve put this edit behind me.

I’m also not sure of the form it will take. I’ll continue to include boring tidbits about my blasé life for those who like that sort of thing, and I’ll continue to share tips and knowledge you probably can’t find anywhere else.

In the meantime, from my friend Dan Baldwin, here’s a guest topic for you, reprinted by permission.

So You Want to Be a Ghostwriter

I have written more than 60 books, but five out of six have someone else’s name on the cover. Oh, I usually get some form of writer’s credit, but that’s often in the Acknowledgements section printed upside down in 6-point Mandarin Chinese.

But author credit isn’t why someone pursues ghostwriting projects — unless it’s to gain credit with other authors who need ghostwriters.

Ghostwriters are in the business to make money or to gain the experience that will lead to that money. If you’re considering ghostwriting, here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.

Tip #1. You’re Not the Author — You Only Write the Book.

Keep your ego out of the project. That goes for your desires to win the Golden Ghost Award for Best Acknowledgement, your personal opinions or cause du jour, or what you think your author really ought to say. It’s his (or her) book. Keep it that way.

Tip #2. KISS Your Author.

Keep It Simple, Stupid. Most books are written at the eighth grade level. Why? Because just about everybody in America has at least graduated from the eighth grade. Everybody gets the message (or at least can read the message) when you write at that level.

Tip #3. Make Sure the Price is Right.

What is the right price for a ghostwriting project? I’ll answer with another question: How hungry are you?

The amount of writing, research, client hand-holding, and expenses will vary from project to project. Get a handle on as much of this as possible before quoting a price. Know how much you need to earn from a given job and start at a figure above that. Life as a ghostwriter is a life of negotiating. Have a rate or a fee in mind, but don’t hesitate to adjust according to the level of rumbling in your stomach.

Tip #3a. If the would-be client says, “I’m pretty famous for my memos around here, heh-heh,” double your fee.

Tip #4. Your Client Must Know He is Part of the Project.

I had a potential client tell me, “Just go to the Internet and you can get everything you need.” My response was, “Well, then what do I need you for?”

Fortunately, the potential client was a friend who took my response in the right frame of mind. The writer carries the heavier burden in terms of work, but the project must be a cooperative effort. It’s his book; he has to earn that name on the cover.

Tip #5. You Don’t Have to Believe What Your Client Believes.

But know where to draw the line. Provided you remember that you are the writer not the author, a Republican can ghostwrite for a Democrat. A Christian can ghostwrite for a non-believer. A “My Country Right or Wrong” guy can ghostwrite for a “Peace at Any Price” guy.

When you take on a ghostwriting project, you are hiring out. Once you accept the job, you can be loyal to your client without being loyal to his cause.

Tip #6. Understand that at Some Point Things are Going to Go South.

Something inevitably comes up to extend the agreed upon deadline, foul the research efforts, or get between you and that final payment. Provided the client doesn’t abuse the privilege, put up with as much as you can, finish the job, and earn something worth its weight in gold — a good referral.

I have on rare occasions walked away from a job, but I did so in a way that maintained a level of respect, courtesy, and integrity. I have also finished and been fully paid by clients I will never work with again. One of your best ghostwriting resources is a mental file labeled I Will Never Do THAT Again.

Tip #7. Clients Should Pay as They Go.

As Dr. Laura said about promises of marriage made in the steamy back seat of a sedan on a lonely road, “Unless you have a ring and a date, you don’t have squat.”

I think I got that quote fairly right — certainly the meaning. Your client must be invested in the project or in his mind it’s not a real project. Invest is the key word. Get an up-front payment and then stagger payments on a pay-as-we-go basis.

So, you want to be a ghostwriter. Go for it. Just follow a few basic business rules so that the experience isn’t a scary one.

(For a bit more on ghostwriting, check out http://www.danbaldwin.biz.)

Quote of the Week: “Most men make little use of their speech than to give evidence against their own understanding.” George Savile

Dan’s Western novel, Bock’s Canyon, is a Winner in the Best Book Awards 2017. His latest Western novel, A Stalking Death, is a Finalist in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards competition. His non-fiction work for writers and IP attorneys, How Find Me Lost Me — A Breach of Trust Told By The Psychic Who Didn’t See It Coming, earned a Finalist award in the Best Book Awards and the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards competition. And his short stories “Diddy” and “Lurlene Hurlbutt’s Flatline” earned a commendation in the Society of Southwestern Authors Writing Contest.

A Few Websites Dan Recommends

http://www.ssa_az.org

http://www.ssa-vs.org

http://www.lwsliteraryservices.com

Of Interest

Not much out there today that I could find.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 200 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 200

Writing of “”

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

Total fiction words for the month……… XXXX
Total fiction words for the year………… 453762
Total nonfiction words for the month… 2160
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 177713
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 631475

Calendar Year 2017 Novels to Date………………………… 9
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 27
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182

The Journal, Friday, December 8,

Hey Folks,

Just some important info for you today, mostly in the first listing below.

Via The Passive Voice, see Passive Guy’s comments toward the end of “The Contributions of Publishing’s Conference Contrarians” at http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/12/the-contributions-of-publishings-conference-contrarians/. Very informative and heartening.

Also of possible interest, see “Astronauts Get Writer’s Block, Too” at http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/12/astronauts-get-writers-block-too/. Imagine what Astronaut Scott Kelly could write if only he had learned to trust his subconscious and write off into the dark. Sigh. (Frankly, I’m kind’a ticked off that Margaret Lazarus Dean felt a need to stick that comma in before “too” in the title of the article. Ten to one she can’t tell you why it’s there except that some style manual, probably AP, said it should be. Ugh.)

Around the Stanbrough camp I’m continuing to use this time to work through some life issues, copyedit a difficult manuscript, and visit with family and friends. Fiction seems to tug at my sleeve a little more strongly each day.

I hope you’ll continue to check Dean’s site daily as well as some of the others in the Quick Links in the sidebar of my website. I’ve also updated the Writer Resources page, so you might browse that too.

Just in case I’m not back again before December 25, I hope you will all have an enjoyable holiday season, a very merry Christmas, and a safe and happy New Year.

Be back when I can.

The Journal, Tuesday, December 5,

Hey Folks,

A few days ago, a friend sent me an email: “You think too much.”

I could only respond with a smiley face.

I do understand why “you think too much” would appear to readers of this Journal to be true. After all, the point of the Journal is to bare the most intimate details and thought processes of my writing life, with the ultimate goal of maybe cutting the learning curve a bit for you, the subscribers.

But I assure you, I only think “too much” here, in this Journal. And really, I don’t know that I’m thinking too much as probably sharing too much.

I’m very aware that one of my weaknesses has been conveying too much information (TMI), whether speaking aloud or in nonfiction writing like this Journal. I’ve been that way since my early childhood, so I doubt I’ll change now.

For example, my wife often says I’m “too specific.” When she asks where something is, I might say it’s “near the back right corner of the third drawer from the top in my desk.”

I just can’t bring myself to offer up a soup sandwich like “It’s in my desk” or “It’s in a drawer in my desk.”

I actually want to say “…the third drawer from the top in the pedestal in my desk” but I assume the prepositional phrase “from the top” adequately implies that the drawer is in the pedestal. (grin)

Of course, I’m joking. But I’m not exaggerating. I DO think like that, but I would elaborate on it only here. You know, by way of explanation.

And, as Bill Shakespeare might say, “There’s the rub.”

That “by way of explanation” thing is why I elaborate to such an elaborate degree (isn’t English wonderful?). I prefer to leave no room for misunderstanding, a hopeless goal where human beings are involved if ever there was one.

So think too much? Maybe, maybe not.

Share too much? Definitely. If I didn’t, there would be no basis to believe I think too much. (grin)

***

Thanks to my friend, Robert Sadler, for the excellent poem he wrote as a take-off on my “desk” essay from a few days ago. Absolutely excellent.

I almost wrote a few days ago that Dean seems as stalled as I am. Kind of eerie. You can see the culmination of that in https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/auction-and-other-fun-things-today/.

Then today, he began offering a new nonfiction book (this after he has planned to write two novels in December). This will be an important book for some of us, especially given the gems Dean often drops along the way seemingly without even realizing it.

Dean’s new offering will be a book for writers on ways to beat critical thinking. To see the announcement and the introduction, please visit https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/beating-critical-voice-for-fiction-writers/. He plans to post succeeding chapters on his blog, so I hope you’ll follow along.

IMPORTANT: If you don’t already visit Dean’s site every day as part of your routine, and if you’re serious about your writing, please do so. The existence of this Journal (and by extension, my “Of Interest” section) is not guaranteed.

I probably won’t be back with another edition of this Journal unless and until I start writing fiction again.

Finally, in lieu of the “Of Interest” section, for an excellent article on scene structure, see “A Scene Template For New Writers” (don’t let the title throw you) at https://killzoneblog.com/2017/12/a-scene-template-for-new-writers.html.

IF YOU HAVEN’T established a habit of visiting the sites I mention regularly here, you can always find them in my Quick Links (left sidebar of my main website) and/or on the Writer Resources page on that site.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 600 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 600

Writing of “”

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

Total fiction words for the month……… XXXX
Total fiction words for the year………… 453762
Total nonfiction words for the month… 1960
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 177513
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 631275

Calendar Year 2017 Novels to Date………………………… 9
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 27
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182

The Journal, Saturday, December 2

Hey Folks,

I didn’t plan to post again this soon. With my return feeling imminent, though, I figure what harm could it do.

A friend wrote to me privately. In his email, he mentioned the desk, said he’d like to see it and wondered whether maybe it has magic powers.

Actually, it might have. I thought I’d share my expanded response to him with you.

My Desk

As I mentioned yesterday, my desk is walnut, stained naturally in a warm medium brown. The finish on the leading edge of the large surface shows some wear, primarily in four places: where my forearms rest while I’m typing and where the previous owner’s elbows/forearms rested when he was writing longhand. More on that later.

The top of the desk, which is solid walnut and almost two inches thick, looks like the deck of an aircraft carrier. It’s five feet wide and almost three feet deep.

Originally, the desk had five drawers. Two were shallow lap drawers, each 18″ wide and 2″ top to bottom. They were also as deep as the desk.

The other three drawers are in a single pedestal down the right side. Each of those is 14″ wide and 5″ top to bottom. They also are as long as the desk is deep. So tons of storage.

It just occurred to me, in that way the desk is like a giant treasure box. (All boys, it seems, regardless of age, must have a treasure box. It’s similar to a woman’s hope chest, I suppose, but it relies on actualities and memories rather than possibilities.)

I loved the two wide, deep lap drawers, but when I cut 3″ off the legs to lower it to “computer desk” height, I had to remove the lap drawers and their support so I could get my legs under the desk. Sigh.

But if I hadn’t done that, the desk would be too high, putting my arms at an awkward angle for typing. That can cause all sorts of problems.

I didn’t want to cut the desk down, and that’s why I first moved it out. Then recently I remembered it’s MY desk and I bought it so I could write novels on it. So any modifications are fine. Modifying it is better than having it sit in storage collecting dust.

I saw a stamp somewhere on the underside of the desk that identified it as having been built in the 1930s. If memory serves, according to the lady we bought it from, it was already a writer’s desk when her husband bought it, though the first writer’s name escapes me, if she even mentioned it.

Then her husband, a novelist, bought it. As I recall, that was in the early 1950s. He wrote several novels on it longhand. He also wrote tech manuals.

When he passed away, we attended the estate sale and bought the desk from his 92 (I think) year-old widow for $250.

When I told her I was a writer and novelist, she was very pleased and tears came to her eyes. “Then I know it’s going home,” she said.

So yes, it very probably is magic. 🙂

***

I probably won’t post for a few more days.

Of Interest

Via The Passive Voice, see “A New Story…” at https://electricliterature.com/a-new-story-by-the-master-of-hardboiled-detective-fiction-1ff845e9479a.

Dean’s offering to be a first reader for other writers again. The upshot is, participants get him as a reader (with feedback) free and two online seminars besides. See https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/want-to-be-challenged-i-am-doing-it-again/.

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

Writing of “”

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

Total fiction words for the month……… XXXX
Total fiction words for the year………… 453762
Total nonfiction words for the month… 1360
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 176913
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 630675

Calendar Year 2017 Novels to Date………………………… 9
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 27
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182

The Journal, Friday, December 1

Hey Folks,

An Accounting of Days

I closed out this Journal on November 18. I didn’t want the unnecessary pressure of that daily deadline while I was working out whatever problem derailed my writing.

That was only twelve days ago, but it seems as if months have passed. Anyway, for whatever it’s worth, it worked. Or more specifically, it’s working.

Sometime in the last few days, I realized there is no specific one thing that “derailed” my writing habit. Instead, I seem to have reached a merging of life events and factors. I also realized that convergence has been building for some time.

The convergence doesn’t “stop” me from writing, but its components require time and thought. They distract me from even thinking in the way I have to think when I’m writing.

I’m not back yet, but I do at least finally understand what’s going on. And that has enabled me to turn a corner and head back toward where I want to be.

I have to give it the time it requires, but a few days ago I didn’t even know that.

History

The first sign of this convergence appeared in my writing habit a few months ago when I tossed aside my daily goal as being unnecessary. You might remember that. I said specifically I didn’t need a daily goal anymore.

Of course, that’s just silly. If writing is your chosen profession, then you must write. And if your attitude about it is on track (that it’s fun) then why wouldn’t you want to write every day? But for the moment, it is what it is.

From that point, I progressed (regressed?) through starting and giving up on challenges, starting and giving up on novels and stories, struggling to keep writing even while in the midst of writing a short story or novel, and maybe most importantly, trying to “fix” my problem in various ways:

The most obvious and telling fix was that I changed my writing environment several times, both the surface I was writing on and where that surface was located.

To give you a glimpse of the lunacy, I moved my desk out to storage, as if the desk were the problem. To replace it, I used a drafting table; then I replaced that with a large typing table.

I replaced that with an old dining room table (I cut it down to the right height); then cut down a smaller old dressing table because at least it had small drawers in it; and did a few other crazy things.

While all of that was going on, I moved out of the hovel, then back in, then out again etc. I tried to write in the hovel, outside, and in my office. I tried to set up the travel trailer as an alternative office (like the hovel), but that lasted all of one icy-cold day.

And a lot of other stuff, non-writing stuff, was going on over those few months. I won’t go into detail, but I was variously struck with direct physical, mental and emotional blows — some good and some bad — that you (or at least I) can’t simply shake off.

I just have to muddle through them the best way I can. Oddly, the good ones stand alone. They don’t serve to mitigate the bad ones, at least in my experience. Yet the bad ones tend to magnify the other bad ones. Very strange.

Anyway, in the midst of all that I stopped my only “bad” habit — cigar smoking — which was also my only avenue for an uninterrupted hour of Just Relaxation. I’ve written only 6000 words of fiction since October 10, the day I stopped.

(If I were certain I could smoke only one or two cigars per day, I’d start again in a heartbeat. As always, to validate such decisions, you must compare length of life with quality of life.)

Back to the Present

A couple of days ago, a lot of this cleared up for me. As a result, with these new realizations and with my wife’s help, yesterday I moved my old desk back inside my office. It’s a beautiful walnut creation that was put together back when craftsmanship still mattered.

That alone won’t start me writing again immediately. But it’s one massive step back toward my version of normal. I still have a few more things to work out. Maybe some gathering to do, and maybe some shedding of problems and people who lay them at my door.

As I said before, I’m not back yet. But I believe I’ll be back before too much longer. For now, I’ll just give this process the time it needs.

In the meantime, thanks for your attention, concern and support. I appreciate you.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 780 (Journal)
So total words for the day: XXXX

Writing of “”

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

Total fiction words for the month……… XXXX
Total fiction words for the year………… 453762
Total nonfiction words for the month… 780
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 176333
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 630095

Calendar Year 2017 Novels to Date………………………… 9
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 27
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182

The Journal, Friday, November 17

Hey Folks,

Topic: On Describing Setting

How much description in setting is “too much”?

Here’s a rule of thumb: If the description is something you, the author, are adding, it’s too much; you’ll bore the reader to death. If it’s the POV character’s opinion of the setting that he absorbed through his own physical senses, it will be just right and the reader will be hooked.

Every character (like every human) has a unique POV that is determined by his or her physical senses (including any limitations or enhancements of those senses) and filtered through his or her past experiences.

The physical senses provide the setting; the past experiences provide the opinion of the setting. Both are necessary.

Description of a setting is not offered as a laundry list of bland facts bereft of opinion. We don’t write, “The room was paneled in walnut. The floor was covered with a thick red carpet. The whole place smmelled of cherry pipe smoke.” (An author might bring that into a story.)

But if we give it to the POV character, he will give us his opinion of it. That’s what makes it interesting to the reader.

According to one POV character, the walls are panelled in a warm brown, welcoming wood. Unfortunately, the floor is covered in a god-awful bordello carpet and the place reeks with the filthy stench of smoke.

According to another, the heavy wooden walls make the room feel closed in, and the carpet looks like hungry flames licking up out of the floor. The only saving grace is the sweet scent of cherry pipe smoke wafting through the room.

And another would see (hear, smell) it entirely differently.

Can you have more than one POV character describe a single room? Of course. Everything depends on your story.

Just remember that any description of setting that is filtered through the POV character’s physical senses and delivered with his or her opinions is never too much.

And anything that you, the author, feel like you “should” add will probably be too much.

(If you cycle back through and the character notices something he/she didn’t notice before, feel free.)
***

Well, a couple of things….

1. I’m off the challenge. I just wasn’t feeling it. Really, I wasn’t feeling it from the beginning.

I probably won’t even publish the story I wrote yesterday. It wasn’t fun, and it wasn’t anything good. It was the result of a guy trying to force something, and that never turns out well.

Writing was fun for me right up until I stopped writing in the middle of a story back in July.

After that I wrote and published two more novels (The Implications in August and Loose Ends in September), but when I started the novel for October, I stopped writing it too.

I think maybe I need to go back to the one in July and either follow Heinlein’s Second Rule (Finish what you write) or throw it out completely, then move forward again from there.

I’ll at least go back and look at it with that in mind. Then as I move forward, I’ll look at some others I started and didn’t finish until I get back to the present. Same thing, either finish them or throw them out.

But I’m not going to do it under additional meaningless pressure. I’m doing a lot of other non-writing things just now as well, including a couple of copyedits, some family things, and so on.

So I’ll take care of those writing things as I’m moving through the other things.

2. In the meantime, it seems silly to keep publishing the Journal every day even when I’m not writing. So as of today, I’m letting it go for awhile. I hasten to add that I expect to be back.

When I come out of this on the other side, I’ll pick up publishing the Journal again, probably. But for now, as I said, it just seems silly.

After today, if I have something to convey that I believe you will find useful, you’ll get a copy of the Journal in your email.

But if you don’t, just know I’m fine. I’m just doing what I gotta do.

When I come back, I’ll be immersed in fiction writing again. Until then, thanks for hanging in there.

Of Interest

I suggest you check Dean’s place at http://deanwesleysmith.com each morning. It doesn’t really take more than a minute or two to determine whether the day’s entry is worthwhile.

I also recommend subscribing to Linda Maye Adams’ blog at https://lindamayeadams.com/.

Finally, I recommend you check the Writers’ Resources page on my website from time to time. I add links to it often. See http://harveystanbrough.com/writer-resources/.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 780 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 780

Writing of “”

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

Total fiction words for the month……… 4320
Total fiction words for the year………… 453762
Total nonfiction words for the month… 7490
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 175553
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 629315

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 719 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novels to Date………………………… 9
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 27
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182

‘Til we meet again. Adiós.

The Journal, Thursday, November 16

Hey Folks,

Okay, so my challenge is a copycat of Dean’s current short-term effort.

UPDATE: Not a copycat, not quite. My short-term challenge is at least one short story per day for the rest of November. If I miss one day, my challenge is busted.

Dean’s challenge apparently was to write 20 short stories in the last 20 days of November. Not quite the same thing as having to write one per day. If he misses a day, he can simply make it up later. (See “Of Interest” below.)

In my case, I’m doing this primarily to jumpstart my writing again. I’ll write at least one short story every day for the rest of November, beginning today. So 15 short stories in 15 days.

I hope a good novel start comes from all of this too, but either way, it should be fun.

The big thing I gleaned from the short interview with Harlan Ellison yesterday was that we write to entertain ourselves. We don’t write for the audience, and we owe them nothing beyond the completed work. I kind of like that.
***

I was up at 3, but I did practically nothing of any importance until around quarter to 9. After that I put in a load of laundry.

Around 10 I moved to the writing ‘puter. By noon I’d finished “Mistaken Identity,” a story about a gunfight in an old west saloon.

At about 1:20 I have to head for Sierra Vista for an eye appointment. Hope I don’t cut my short stories this close anymore.

See you tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “The Importance of Rest” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-importance-of-rest/.

See “When Music You Wrote Becomes a Hate Speech Soundtrack,” not so much for the original post, but for The Passive Guy’s advice following the OP. It’s on copyright, and it’s excellent. See it at http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/11/when-music-you-wrote-becomes-a-hate-speech-soundtrack/.

Fiction Words: 2082
Nonfiction Words: 290 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2372

Writing of “Mistaken Identity” (challenge story 1 of 15)

Day 1…… 2082 words. Total words to date…… 2082 (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 4320
Total fiction words for the year………… 453762
Total nonfiction words for the month… 6710
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 174773
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 628535

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 718 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novels to Date………………………… 9
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 27
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182

The Journal, Wednesday, November 15

Hey Folks,

I started the day (and this Journal) with a brief write-up about an interview with Andy Weir, best-selling author of The Martian and now Artemis.

Some of his responses in the interview put me in mind of the film Idiocracy. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly recommend it. More of the world that’s conveyed in it becomes real every day.

But the write-up sounded curmudgeonly even to me, so I replaced it with this. Frankly, I thought the guy sounded like a moron, and I decided I probably don’t want to risk buying his books.

But you can decide for yourself. You can read his interview at https://www.space.com/38725-artemis-andy-weir-author-interview.html.
***

Well, it’s already a wonderful day. I took care of a few things in Sierra Vista, and then returned to Saint David to check my mail. There was a complete collection of back issues of the old Pulphouse Magazine (c. 1991 – 1995) waiting for me. I am in Hebben.
***

I still haven’t hit on anything for a new challenge yet.

Dean’s current “little” challenge is to write a short story every day for what remained (at the time) of November. He started on November 11, so that would be 20 stories in 20 days.

I’ve decided to jump into that just for the heck of it. I’ll write a short story every day for the rest of November. Should be a piece of cake. After all, I don’t have near as much going on as Dean does. So 15 stories in 15 days. If I’m having fun at the end of that time, I’ll just keep going with it.

See you tomorrow.

Of Interest

Not a lot out there on the Web today. If you’re interested in Dean’s progress on his story-a-day goal, you might stop by and check his second close call in as many days.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 300 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 300

Writing of ()

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

Total fiction words for the month……… 2238
Total fiction words for the year………… 451680
Total nonfiction words for the month… 6420
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 174483
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 626163

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 717 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novels to Date………………………… 9
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 27
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182

The Journal, Tuesday, November 14

Hey Folks,

Well, again today I’m not going to publish my upcoming challenge. Frankly, I’m not certain yet what form it will take.

For the new folks who’ve recently joined us here on the Journal, welcome. To bring you up to speed, I’ve been a very prolific writer (by most standards) but have experienced something of a slump off and on for the past few months.

This morning, like a jolt of electricity, I realized the reason for the slump. More on that in a bit.

The last story I finished was a novel titled Loose Ends. That was in September. I published it on October 12, after my first reader had a go at it. But I have to tell you, it seems as if it were a year ago.

At times like this, I look back at numbers. They don’t always show what I’d like to see, but they don’t lie. And my spreadsheet tells me I’ve had a far less-than-productive year.

My fiction production started out well with a 92,000-word January. That fell off to a still somewhat respectable 59,000 words in February and 56,000 in March.

It dropped to 39,000 in April, and enjoyed a slight resurgence to 45,000 in both May and June.

But from there it took a nosedive to 25,000 words in July (that’s also when my seeming slump started), then to 16,000 in August before surging back up to 54,000 in September. Much of that was the novel Loose Ends.

But in October my engine stalled again and my production dropped to 15,000 words of fiction. Thus far in November, I’ve written hardly any fiction.

Somehow, in the midst all of that, I managed to eke out 7 novels, 2 novellas and several short stories in over 451,000 words.

Still, I feel like a slacker. Ugh. And worst of all, I haven’t been able to figure out what’s going on. Well, as I mentioned earlier, until now.

This morning, while searching for a particular blog post for a friend over on my main website, I came across a post titled “Epiphany.”

I took a moment to read it and realized exactly what went wrong: I fell off Heinlein’s Rules. Or more to the point, I allowed conscious-mind garbage to shove me off Heinlein’s Rules.

It happened in the midst of a story I was writing back in July. I’ve been struggling ever since.

Now I’ve long considered myself an “adherent” of Heinlein’s Rules. They really are simple, but incredibly difficult to follow.

The first rule is, “You must write.” The second is, “You must finish what you write.” See? Simple to say. Not so easy to do.

If there were a Rule 6 to Heinlein’s Rules, I suspect it would be “If you attempt to follow these Rules, you WILL occasionally fall off.” What’s worse, when you do fall off, it takes awhile to realize it. In the meantime, a kind of mental paralysis sets in.

If you don’t have a copy of Heinlein’s Rules, you can get an annotated copy free at http://harveystanbrough.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Heinleins-Business-Habits-Annotated.pdf.

I’m not coming back just yet. I have some other things to do. But now that I know what’s going on, I’ll be back to fiction writing soon. And I’m able to breathe again.

See you tomorrow.

Of Interest

PLEASE read “Important. And Pass It On” at http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2006/10/important-and-pass-it-on.html.

If you like, see “Epiphany” over at http://harveystanbrough.com/pro-writers/epiphany/.

See “Story Four a Slight Miracle” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/story-four-a-slight-miracle/. Interesting.

Well, here you go. In a continuation of yesterday’s topic (and via The Digital Reader), see “Author Blogging 103: Guest Blogging, or How to Write for Exposure” at https://the-digital-reader.com/2017/11/13/author-blogging-103-guest-blogging-write-exposure/.

Note: For some reason Nate added, “You can find links to several good posts in the comments of this blog,” but I saw only two comments on that particular post and neither of them contained a link. So I’m not sure what he was talking about there.

Anyway, for those of you who pursue “writing for exposure,” best of luck. Frankly, beyond what I already do, I’d rather just spend the time writing fiction.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 690 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 690

Writing of ()

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

Total fiction words for the month……… 2238
Total fiction words for the year………… 451680
Total nonfiction words for the month… 6120
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 174183
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 625863

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 716 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novels to Date………………………… 9
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 27
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182

The Journal, Monday, November 13

Hey Folks,

Well, this should be an interesting week. This is a convergence week for me, when several different events, sequences, and changes are coming together to consume blocks of time.

I went to Benson this morning to renew my driver’s license and combined that with a shopping trip to settle our cupboard and refrigerator accounts after this past weekend. By the time that and a couple other necessary chores were done, that was the morning. It’s now approaching noon.

On Wednesday morning, I have to head for Sierra Vista (Fort Huachuca) to renew my military ID card, and while I’m there I’ll take care of a few other things I need to get done as well.

Then on Thursday afternoon, I’ll go back to Sierra Vista for an eye appointment. Mona will be with me for that one since my eyes probably will be dilated. Ugh.

So this will be a fragmented week at best.

I keep saying I’m going to talk about my new challenge, but this edition of the Journal is getting long so I’ll plan to do that tomorrow. I know you’re waiting with bated breath. (grin)

Topic: Content Marketing

In “Of Interest” today, Linda Maye Adams talks about writing free for discoverability. I want to say, for the record, I don’t write free.

And why should I? Why should any of us give away our work for “exposure”?

After all, have you ever heard of a mechanic, even when he’s opening a new garage, offering his services free just to get his name out there? Or a plumber? Lawyer? Doctor? Fine artist? Musician?

So why should we?

So again, I want to say, for the record, I don’t write free.

But I can’t.

This Journal goes out every day and has done for almost the past two years. And I’ve been posting to one website or another (often two or three at the same time) most often on a weekly basis since around 1998.

I also occasionally donate an article (usually a reprint of a posted article) to a writers’ group magazine.

Of course, that’s all nonfiction.

But I can’t even say I haven’t offered up fiction free. Remember my 70+ week streak of publishing a new short story every week, free, on my website?

I’ve also donated novels and even whole series to various groups and individuals, all without being paid with anything but “exposure.”

So I’m not really in a position to cross my arms over my chest, set my chin and advise against giving away work for exposure.

There’s enough piracy out there that you’re giving away a lot of your work anyway. The title of one recent article in The Guardian (a worthless rag IMHO, but still) reads, “We’re told to be grateful we even have readers.”

What I will say is this: Be intelligent about your charity.

• There’s nothing wrong with using “free” or “steeply discounted” TEMPORARILY to interest readers in a series.

• There’s nothing wrong with sharing what you know, especially if you enjoy doing so and feel you have an appreciative audience.

• There’s nothing wrong with occasionally giving away something you’ve written for whatever reason you choose.

But frankly, the term “writing for exposure” smacks of a scam to me, especially when it comes from a major publisher (like HuffPo). Outfits like that make tons of money from your writing, but they’re ethically and morally bankrupt when it comes to sharing the wealth, a concept you would think a place like HuffPo would understand and eagerly endorse.

But back to the topic for a moment. Over the course of my free short story of the week, that gambit had no measurable effect on sales. Nor did any of the other times I gave away my writing. Not once.

The few times I’ve offered novels free, either on my websites, in my blog posts, or at retailers, I also saw no significant effect on sales.

If I tried “content marketing,” I think my own rules of thumb would be

• If the market to whom you’re submitting your work is making money on it, so should you;

• Look over the market (paying or not) carefully to be sure your work won’t be published among stories that are poorly crafted compared to your own; and

• Check the “reach” of the market. If you’re writing for exposure, be sure the market has more than a handful of subscribers.

Beyond that, if you figure it out, let me know.
***

For the rest of today, I’ll begin a copyedit on a lengthy work, I’ll read a bit, and I’ll work out the final details on the challenge so I can write about it here tomorrow.

See you then.

Of Interest

Thanks to Alison Holt (see https://alisonholtbooks.com/) for pointing me to this movie trailer of great interest to writers: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6225520/.

See “Discoverability Adventures: Week 2” at https://lindamayeadams.com/2017/11/12/discoverability-adventures-week-2/.

See “A List of Fonts by Women” at http://www.victoriarushton.com/fonts-by-women.

A special treat for you who follow this journal. See “Betty Boop for President” (a film) at https://archive.org/details/BettyBoopForPresident_201310.

You can see many more BB videos at https://archive.org/search.php?query=betty+boop&page=2.

And finally, straight from Backwards Bizarro World, see “New York graffiti artists triumph over developer who destroyed their work” at https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/nov/09/new-york-graffiti-artist-win-lawsuit-5-pointz. There is no mention of the so-called “artists” having defaced the legal owner’s property to begin with. Ahem.

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

Writing of ()

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

Total fiction words for the month……… 2238
Total fiction words for the year………… 451680
Total nonfiction words for the month… 5430
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 173493
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 625173

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 715 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novels to Date………………………… 9
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 27
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182