The Journal, Saturday, November 4

Hey Folks,

In “Of Interest” below, I mention a Smashwords podcast. It’s all about how to work with beta readers. As such, it extolls the virtues of letting readers into your work and (I’ll bet) mentions none of the downsides.

You all know that I often employ a first reader. That’s one avid reader who knows exactly what to look for (specific places where confusion ensues, inconsistencies, and OBVIOUS wrong-word issues IF they pop out at him) and what to leave alone (literally everything else).

Sometimes, with some stories, I ask Kenneth to look for certain overall things: Is there too much description? Is the story too vague? Too anything? Not enough something?

But even when I do that, I never ask-for (or want) his advice on how to fix anything. He understands that and he’s good with it.

So if you use a first reader and the two of you are clear on a set of strict guidelines, that’s fine. In fact, I recommend it. In fact, I recommend Kenneth (krf1952@gmail.com).

So what are the downsides of using beta readers?

The first and biggest, to me, is that using beta readers is the latest thing. The latest craze. I’m lucky, I guess, in that I’ve never been big on chasing after the latest craze. Like writing in all lower-case or omitting quotation marks around dialogue or not using punctuation at all or using beta readers.

So here, just to play devil’s advocate, I’m going to point out a few more downsides. Consider them food for thought.

1. If you allow ten people to read your book, all ten will give you different input. (Of the ten, two or three will LOVE your book, two or three will HATE it, and the others will think it’s all right. And chances are, none of them will tell you the truth.)

2. Input from one reader will often directly contradict input from another. In that case, whose advice do you take?

3. Most advice from beta readers, no matter how it’s disguised, will boil down to how they would have done it.

4. The biggie — why would you ever allow anyone else, especially someone who’s never written a novel, to influence how your novel is written?

Of course, every writer is different, and I’ve heard that a lot of writers swear by beta readers. So there y’go.

As the Big Mick just said, “Hey, whatever you wanna do. I got my own mountain to climb.”
***

Had a slow early morning, then a leisurely trip to Sierra Vista, then home. I’m going to read today, and maybe do some thinking, but I’m not going to write fiction.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Via The Passive Voice, I encourage you to read “The Pendulum May Be Swinging Away from Fair Use” at http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/11/the-pendulum-may-be-swinging-away-from-fair-use/. Read TPG’s comments, then maybe click through and read the original post. But read TPG’s comments.

Maybe to make up a bit for “8 Things…Fight Scenes” in yesterday’s Journal, via The Passive Voice see “Q&A: Uneven Balance is a Tension Killer” at http://howtofightwrite.tumblr.com/post/165745299548/qa-uneven-balance-is-a-tension-killer. If you don’t read it all, scroll down to the 12 “rules of action.” This seems a great deal more realistic than the thing from yesterday.

And finally, see “How to Work with Beta Readers” at http://blog.smashwords.com/2017/11/how-to-work-with-beta-readers.html. Remember your salt shaker, please.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 560 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 560

Writing of ()

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

Total fiction words for the month……… 1105
Total fiction words for the year………… 450547
Total nonfiction words for the month… 2280
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 170343
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 620890

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 706 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, 11/1

Hey Folks,

Wow. November already. For that matter, 2017 already. What happened to 1978? Just sayin’.

I failed to mention yesterday that we had a little visitor.

In the pre-dawn pitch, I was at my outside desk when I heard a sound that seemed not part of the usual early morning sounds.

I grabbed my torch (I like the Brit “torch” so much better than “flashlight”) and went looking for my kitten.

As I stepped past the southeast corner of the house, I shined the light to the west.

Toward the southwest corner of the house, something was sniffing at the base of the double doors that lead from my bedroom into the back yard.

When I shined the light on it, the head moved and a pair of eyes shone back at me. But it was too black to be my kit and it was too small to be Hannah, my wife’s cat. Besides, Hannah was still in bed.

Thinking it must be one of the neighborhood toms, I stamped my right foot and yelled “Git!”

It blinked a time or two, then stuck its fluffed-out tail straight up in the air and turned around to leave.

In that flash of time, the broad white streak up its tail filled the beam of my light.

At that point — and I am thankful — the story ends. The visitor wandered off to the west, the aroma around the back of my house no worse for wear.
***

Out east of my house where I usually walk there are a few planted cottonwood (grandfather) trees. Until recently, the man who owns the little strip of land on which they stand was keeping them watered with a buried PVC system.

But the PVC kept breaking, I guess, and leaks kept springing up, so eventually he turned off the water to the whole row.

The two nearest my house had become oases for local wildlife. But for the past week, they’ve been dying.

At first I thought they were simply going dormant with the advent of autumn. But when I started walking again, I noticed the ground around them was dry.

My landlady knows the guy well, so I’d meant to ask her whether she might ask him to turn the water back on to the few trees that are (maybe) still viable.

I hadn’t seen her until this morning. She said she would talk with him. Then she asked whether, for the time being, I could rig up something to run from her water source at the back of the corral. Maybe I could at least run water to the “big” tree at the corner. (This cottonwood is well over a hundred feet tall and very full.)

So instead of walking this morning I spent a couple hours gathering old garden hoses, inserting new washers, and running a system. As it turned out, I was able to run water to two cottonwoods, so we’ll see whether we got to them soon enough. I hope so.

Cutting off water to ANYthing out here is just counterintuitive, or should be. And that’s a very nice way of expressing the red-hot thought that’s usually in my mind on this topic.
***

Well, I wrote right at a thousand words in a crazed hour today, but the thing didn’t go anywhere. It wasn’t on the WIP. Not sure what’s going on with that.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Indie Authors on Indie Authorship” at http://blog.smashwords.com/2017/10/indie-authors-on-indie-authorship.html. Frankly, I didn’t read this. I thought some of you might be interested.

Fiction Words: 1105
Nonfiction Words: 600 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1705

Writing of Pulp Novel 5 (a Stern Richards novel)

Day 1…… 1080 words. Total words to date…… 1080
Day 2…… 2167 words. Total words to date…… 3247
Day 3…… 1370 words. Total words to date…… 4617
Day 4…… 1840 words. Total words to date…… 6457
Day 5…… 1193 words. Total words to date…… 7650
Day 6…… 1407 words. Total words to date…… 9057
Day 7…… 1180 words. Total words to date…… 10237
Day 8…… 2834 words. Total words to date…… 13071
Day 9…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 1105
Total fiction words for the year………… 450547
Total nonfiction words for the month… 600
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 168663
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 619210

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 703 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, Saturday, 10/21

Hey Folks,

Well, I spent much of the morning on the Jerry Jenkins website I told you about yesterday.

Here are my recommendations:

— take advantage of the free giveaway for signing up for his newsletter. You can always unsubscribe later.
— take advantage (with a grain of salt, as always) of the appropriate blog posts and other items listed on his Resources page.
— take advantage of his blog, which I finally found at https://www.jerryjenkins.com/blog/.
— be careful of spending money. Like many of these sites, it exists primarily to upsell you on other products.
— avoid getting a Writers Guild membership. It does NOT include any of the courses on the site. The Writers Guild is basically a forum in which you can glean advice from people who have zero or very little idea what they’re talking about. So caution there.
— before you shell out the bucks for any of the courses, be sure to read the course description.

***

I also rediscovered Chris Fox’s website (see “Of Interest”). I ordered his ebook, 5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter. Mostly out of curiosity. (You can get it free at his site for signing up for his nonfiction newsletter, but I didn’t want to sign up. Besides, it was only $1.20 at Amazon.)

I thought I might write today, but that’s not going to happen. Not just yet.
***

However, reading roughly half of 5,000 Words Per Hour reminded me of several things I used to do back when I was being very productive. It also encouraged me to begin doing them again.

Chief among those things was having a dedicated writing space. That consists of not only a physical location, but a dedicated computer and chair so that when I approach that computer and that chair in that location my subconscious knows it’s time to play.

Mr. Fox, I and others espouse that theorum, and I know it to be true at least in my own case because it worked so well for me for so long.

So I spent part of the afternoon prepping a new place. It isn’t The Adobe Hovel. Then again, it doesn’t harbor scorpions and burrowing animals and things that bite sandaled toes beneath the desk.

I’m not promising myself when I will begin writing fiction again, but when the urge hits, the place will be there. Onward.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Introducing the Smart Author Podcast” at http://blog.smashwords.com/2017/10/smart-author-podcast.html.

“When You’ve Lost Your Passion for Writing” at https://www.jerryjenkins.com/youve-lost-passion-writing/. A couple of good tidbits and some things I didn’t know.

I kind of like Chris Fox’s style. Stop by and take a look at http://www.chrisfoxwrites.com/. Especially check out the menu items on his For Writers tab.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 440 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 440

Writing of Pulp Novel 5 (a Stern Richards novel)

Day 1…… 1080 words. Total words to date…… 1080
Day 2…… 2167 words. Total words to date…… 3247
Day 3…… 1370 words. Total words to date…… 4617
Day 4…… 1840 words. Total words to date…… 6457
Day 5…… 1193 words. Total words to date…… 7650
Day 6…… 1407 words. Total words to date…… 9057
Day 7…… 1180 words. Total words to date…… 10237
Day 8…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 12462
Total fiction words for the year………… 446608
Total nonfiction words for the month… 10840
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 163523
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 610131

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 691 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, 10/11

Hey Folks,

Well, my subconscious is out wandering around the universe on its own, chasing shiny objects and worrying about absolutely nothing. I hope it’s having fun.

I got through the first full day without nicotine. Today is day two. From here on out, it’s just a matter of will power. Well, that and fear.

I am a recovering addict. At the moment, I’m going through the rough part, although that will end soon. But if I take even one more hit of my drug of choice, I’ll have to go through the rough part all over again.

Remembering that and guarding against the necessity of going through this again is a function of the conscious mind. So for now, the conscious mind is fully in charge.

Once it’s safe to let my guard relax, I’ll return most of the control of this insane fleshbag runabout on Starship Earth to my subconscious.

In the meantime, I hope to return bits of control later today or (more likely) tomorrow, at least enough so I can resume playing a little with my PI novel. However, there’s absolutely no rush.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Send Your Name to Mars…” at https://www.space.com/38413-your-name-on-mars-nasa-insight-lander.html. Or go straight to the form at https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/participate/send-your-name/insight/.

Via the Smashwords Blog, see “Rachel Van Dyken on Overcoming Fear” at http://blog.smashwords.com/2017/10/rachel-van-dyken-on-overcoming-fear.html. If you get something out of it, great. She lost me at “…the hate, fear, and insecurity swarming our lovely book community….” What?

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 250 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 250

Writing of Pulp Novel 5 (a Stern Richards novel)

Day 1…… 1080 words. Total words to date…… 1080
Day 2…… 2167 words. Total words to date…… 3247
Day 3…… 1370 words. Total words to date…… 4617
Day 4…… 1840 words. Total words to date…… 6457
Day 5…… 1193 words. Total words to date…… 7650
Day 6…… 1407 words. Total words to date…… 9057
Day 7…… 1180 words. Total words to date…… 10237
Day 8…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 12462
Total fiction words for the year………… 446608
Total nonfiction words for the month… 6370
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 159053
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 605661

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 682 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, Saturday, 9/16

Hey Folks,

Even after a relatively late night, I rolled out at 3:30 this morning. Not sure how much I’ll get done in writing today since it’s Saturday.

TOPIC: On Challenges, Part 2

Note: This follows on yesterday’s topic. If you haven’t read it, you can find it at http://hestanbrough.com/the-journal-friday-915/.

At the beginning of the calendar year, I challenged myself to write 15 novels during the year.

Later, after an intended novel fell short and ended as a novella, I adjusted the goal to 16 novels or novellas. That should have clued me I was in trouble.

It didn’t. I plunged merrily ahead but conveniently forgot the whole purpose of a challenge: productivity.

In my desire to write a certain number of novels, I allowed myself to be overwhelmed. In short, I lost sight of the little picture: the word count.

Grandpa always said you can’t build a house, but you can drive a nail. (Or you can’t write a novel, but you can write a scene.)

If you drive enough nails, you’ll look up one day through the clearing smoke and see that you have a new house.

Now just for fun, let’s slip a bit afield.

Productivity isn’t finishing a certain number of novels or novellas or even short stories.

In its initial, base form, productivity is putting words on the page. Like it or not, it all boils back down to the basic act: word count is what produces short stories, novellas and novels. You can’t escape that fact.

I find it particularly telling (and humorous, actually) that so many writers wrinkle up their nose and eschew word count as if it were gross and even distasteful. Pedestrian, even. Like sex.

Well, it might be. But it’s still a necessary (if ugly, depending on your POV) act in which the writer must allow his conscious and subconscious mind to engage if he is to birth a new novel.

It occurs to me that the metaphor extends when you realize word count generally isn’t talked about in polite circles.

Get it?

And it’s something all writers engage in whether or not they want to admit it.

After all, if such things really were only for us peasants, Great Britain’s royal line would be really short. In fact, it would have ended abruptly on the other side of a pair of crossed arms and a head shaking side to side eons ago. (Somebody stop me!)

Okay. Okay (deep breaths). Enough on the metaphor.

Now I don’t push productivity for its own sake. I push productivity as a matter of business.

The more works a writer has “out there” the greater the chance readers will stumble on something he’s written, like it, and buy more.

This is common sense, even given that what was once common for most seems to have become a luxury for many. But I digress.

Noting word count, whether it’s done publicly (as here) or in private (all the better people only do it in private) is what drives the writer to produce more literary children.

And when our word-count drive begins to weaken, there’s no better way to enhance it than to give ourselves a challenge.

Try it. You’ll like it. And you don’t have to tell anybody.

***

Well, I didn’t get a lot done today. I got a lot done but not a lot of writing. Calling it early to watch a ball game.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Here you go, SF folks. How could the government use the new “Micropods” at http://www.sciencealert.com/vaccines-made-of-these-tiny-micropods-could-an-end-to-booster-shots/.

Even if you don’t write erotic fiction, see “Smashwords Implements New Classifications for Erotic Fiction” at http://blog.smashwords.com/2017/09/smashwords-erotica.html. Lot of good info there on BISAC codes, etc.

Fiction Words: 1514
Nonfiction Words: 620 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2134

Writing of Doctor Ramsey (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 1781 words. Total words to date…… 1781
Day 2…… 2678 words. Total words to date…… 4459
Day 3…… 1142 words. Total words to date…… 5601
Day 4…… 2460 words. Total words to date…… 8061
Day 5…… 1302 words. Total words to date…… 9363
Day 6…… 3182 words. Total words to date…… 12545
Day 7…… 3775 words. Total words to date…… 16320
Day 8…… 3147 words. Total words to date…… 19467
Day 9…… 2780 words. Total words to date…… 22247
Day 10… 3614 words. Total words to date…… 25861
Day 11… 1514 words. Total words to date…… 27375

Total fiction words for the month……… 34456
Total fiction words for the year………… 414076
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8820
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 145220
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 559296

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 657 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novels to Date………………………… 8
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 26
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182

The Journal, Wednesday, 9/13

Hey Folks,

Not a lot other than reading and writing (very little arithmetic) going on at the old homestead today.

It feels like a do-nothing day, but I don’t want one. Besides, I need that like I need a cliché in my head.

I finally broke down and took my lawn mower in to a repair shop. That and surrounding details and sidetracks ate up the first two working hours of the day.

I started playing at the novel right at 10:30. It’s now almost 1:30 (I’ve done some other little stuff too) and I’ve written barely over 1000 new words.

I had to stop and check the total word count because I knew I hadn’t written much. I was actually surprised to see it was over 1000 words. My focus has just been scattered a bit thus far today. (For a reason, see “Of Interest.”)

It will be interesting (to me) to see what happens for the rest of the day re that focus.

Well, I really thought this would be a small day, but it worked out all right. I also have a great starting point for tomorrow (a jagged edge) and a ball game starting in about 8 minutes (grin). Tonight Cleveland might extend its winning streak to 21 games. That would be history in the league.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Via The Passive Voice, something perhaps “relevant to author promo, website and cover design decisions.” See “Designing for Human Attention” at https://uxplanet.org/designing-for-human-attention-ac0abe3d657d.

If you use Smashwords, see “Smashwords Introduces Global Pricing Control…” at http://blog.smashwords.com/2017/09/global-pricing.html/.

See “The Attitude of a Challenge” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-attitude-of-a-challenge/. Some good notes there re attitude.

For any Facebook users, via The Passive Voice, I read that FB is changing its mission statement. See https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n16/john-lanchester/you-are-the-product.

For some witty wordplay from The Passive Guy, see “Much Ado about Lavender” at http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/09/much-ado-about-lavender/.

Fiction Words: 3147
Nonfiction Words: 290 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 3437

Writing of Doctor Ramsey (novel, working title)

Day 1…… 1781 words. Total words to date…… 1781
Day 2…… 2678 words. Total words to date…… 4459
Day 3…… 1142 words. Total words to date…… 5601
Day 4…… 2460 words. Total words to date…… 8061
Day 5…… 1302 words. Total words to date…… 9363
Day 6…… 3182 words. Total words to date…… 12545
Day 7…… 3775 words. Total words to date…… 16320
Day 8…… 3147 words. Total words to date…… 19467

Total fiction words for the month……… 26548
Total fiction words for the year………… 406168
Total nonfiction words for the month… 6870
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 143270
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 549438

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 655 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novels to Date………………………… 8 Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 26
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182