The Journal, Friday, February 16

Hey Folks,

My apology in advance for the long post. I promise, it’s worthwhile.

After I signed off yesterday I listened to a few more videos from the “Writing Thrillers” workshop. Good stuff.

Today I’ll probably finish the workshop, then work on some new book pages for StoneThread Publishing. Eventually, each major book we publish will have its own page.

The pages for the novels and short story collections (or most of them) are finished. I only need to add a few of those and then code a new page for each nonfiction book.

But back to the workshop for a moment.

I already know a lot of what I’m hearing in the Thriller workshop, but reminders are good too. And I knew hardly any of it a year or two ago. Yet I thought my writing was good. More on that in the tied-in topic below.

I finished the workshop around 1 p.m. All I can say is Wow. I didn’t think anything could unseat Dean’s “How to Write Science Fiction” workshop for the sheer number of writing gems and excellent insight and advice.

But this “Writing Thrillers” workshop completely eclipses it. I recommend it highly.

I’ll spend the rest of the day working on the StoneThread Publishing website. I might write a bit tomorrow early. Then it’s a few days off for a camping trip near a thousands-of-years-old pueblocito.

I won’t post while I’m gone, obviously, and I’m not going to worry about pre-posting anything. Just be sure to check the KillZone blog and Dean’s blog, and I’ll see you again on Monday or Tuesday.

***

All of this workshop stuff reminds me again of the woman who emailed me a year or so ago asking for a critique of her work.

After some back and forth (I generally don’t offer critiques), I read her story. It was only six pages.

I invested some time (free) and offered a constructive critique in the form of a series of short questions in imbedded comments scattered over the first couple of pages of her manuscript.

Topic: Character, Setting, and Grounding the Reader

In the opening of any story (scene, etc.) you must hook the reader and take them to depth. That means within the first 200 – 500 words, the reader should connect with the POV character in some way AND be firmly grounded in the setting. More on that later.

The story I was to critique opened with a husband on an exercise bike in the living room of their home. His wife came in and they started talking. The conversation went on for three pages.

At no time did I learn what the husband or wife looked like or what they were wearing. I have no idea whether they were young or older, trim or heavy, wet or dry.

I didn’t know anything about the setting except that there was an exercise bike of some sort in the living room and the guy was sitting on it as they talked.

I have no idea what other furniture, if any, was in the living room, whether there were any windows or doors or a fireplace, or whether there was anything on the walls.

(No, wait. As the story opened, the wife DID “walk into” the living room and saw her husband on the exercise bike, so there must have been at least one door.)

But I don’t know whether she came in from outside or from the kitchen. If there was a kitchen.

I don’t know whether the floor covering was carpet, hardwood or tinfoil. Or even whether there was a floor. I have no idea whether it was day or night. There were no clues.

I have no idea why the exercise bike was in the living room, though I kind of assumed he was watching TV as he pedaled. But I have no idea whether there was a TV in the room either. Or a potted plant. Or whether he pedaled, for that matter. There was no movement.

I have no idea whether the temperature in the house was warm or cool. I didn’t hear an air conditioner or fan running, or the exercise bike, for that matter.

The only sounds were the disembodied voices of the characters. There was no sense of setting, no sensation of movement, even on the exercise bike. It was talking heads on a white background, minus the actual heads.

So I made a few suggestions, posed as brief questions like “What’s he look like? What’s she wearing? Can you describe the room?” etc. I explained about grounding the reader, and so on.

In her quick reply, the author wrote only, “I’ll take this under advisement.”

Oh. Well, good for you.

She also told me that “usually critiquers make a point of finding something good to say.”

Umm, I’m pretty sure she had me confused with her mother. Liking something unconditionally is Mom’s job. Mine is to write and, to a lesser degree, to attempt to pass along what I know.

Okay, to that end…

Folks, when you open a story, you MUST pull the reader to depth quickly.

Spend 200 to 500 words naming and describing the POV character and allowing that character to provide his/her opinion of the setting.

And remember that opinion MUST be filtered through the POV character’s physical senses. After all, the story comes from the character, not the writer.

As a quick example, say the setting is a formal library in a mansion and the deceased owner had a habit of smoking a pipe filled with black cherry tobacco while he read.

The reader doesn’t care whether you, the writer, think the room stinks or is aromatic. But what the POV character thinks about the room reveals part of who he/she is and enables the reader to connect.

When any given POV character encounters the smell, one might wrinkle her nose and frown or say something snarky. Another might smile slightly and think of her father, who also smoked a pipe.

In that opening 200 to 500 words, invoke all five of the POV character’s physical senses and let him use those to provide his opinion of the setting.

The lighting is dim or bright (happy or glaring, etc.); the wingback chair, which is covered in human skin, is repulsive or interesting or even enticing; the paneled walls evoke a warm, comfortable feeling or are closing in. You get the idea.

This technique, this opening, will both reveal part of the POV character’s character and enable the reader to see, hear, taste, smell and feel the setting. It will pull the reader into the POV character’s head.

And your reader will be firmly hooked. THEN you can allow the plot to advance, get into the action and so on without risking losing the reader’s interest.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Radish Fiction” at https://killzoneblog.com/2018/02/radish-fiction-a-new-income-source-for-writers-plus-changes-to-amazon-kindle-worlds.html. There’s a bunch of stuff about Amazon Kindle Worlds first, but you can scroll down to Radish Fiction. It’s worth the short read, and it has nothing to do with radishes. (grin)

See “Hugh Howey: Self-publishing is the future — and great for writers” at https://www.salon.com/2013/04/04/hugh_howey_self_publishing_is_the_future_and_great_for_writers/.

Dean has upped the ante on his new Kickstarter. See “North by Northwest Kickstarter Getting New Rewards” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/north-by-northwest-kickstarter-getting-new-rewards/.

Fiction Words: XXXX (novel revision over the past week)
Nonfiction Words: 1180 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1180

Writing of The Age Exchange (novel, working title)

Brought forward…… 6985
Day 1…… 1285 words. Total words to date…… 8270
Day 2…… 1120 words. Total words to date…… 9390
Day 3…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 6300
Total fiction words for the year………… 44456
Total nonfiction words for the month… 5560
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 13580
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 58036

Calendar Year 2018 Novels to Date………………………… 1
Calenday Year 2018 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
Calendar Year 2018 Short Stories to Date……… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 28
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182

The Journal, Friday, February 9

Hey Folks,

Well, another good “Of Interest” section today.

Today will probably be another non-(fiction) writing day for me. I’ll work on the copyedit I started yesterday on my wife’s memoir, and then I’ll probably round out the day by reading. Still resting up fron January, I think.

Topic: About Publishing and Publishers

A young writer got in touch with me earlier today to ask my recommendation on publishing. She mentioned that she was “talking to a publishing company that is a subsidiary of Hay House.”

I didn’t look up the company, but a little bell went off in my mind. I believe Hay House is one of the companies that charges writers an up-front fee to publish their work. If they don’t, their “subsidiaries” almost certainly do.

I told her, and I will tell you (again), “I recommend indie publishing 100%. You can pay someone to design a cover and do the eformatting (and/or layout for paper publication), but after that you don’t pay anyone anything and your royalties belong only to you.”

For an overall guide to indie publishing (self-publishing), click http://harveystanbrough.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Quick-Guide-to-Self-Publishing-FAQs.pdf. This is a good little book, and it’s free.

And if you’d like a by-the-numbers crash course on digital publishing, click http://harveystanbrough.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/DPubV2X.pdf. This one is a little outdated (and it’s also free), but it will teach you how to format and submit your work to various distributors.

Some writers are still in the agent chase, though I will never understand why. Hiring an agent is tantamount to giving the guy who cuts your grass once every two weeks 15% ownership of your home.

If you’re still seeking a “traditional” publisher and aren’t wild about negotiating contracts, I recommend finding a good intellectual property rights lawyer and paying him or her to negotiate the contract for you.

Better yet, learn copyright and do it yourself, perhaps with an IP attorney in the wings to advise you.

Either way, I will never advocate paying any company up front to publish your work. Period. A few that spring to mind are Booklocker, Wheatmark, AuthorHouse, etc.

And before you sign ANY contract, READ IT or better yet, have your IP attorney read it. Giving any publisher “all rights” (print, electronic, etc.) to your work for the life of the copyright is just foolish, even for what appears to be a good advance.

Just ask yourself, what is your intellectual property (your copyright on a story or novel) worth to you over your life plus 75 years?

Now, a personal example: if a traditional publisher wanted one of my novels, even all rights for the life of the copyright, and wanted to pay me say $250,000.00 up front, I might be interested. But no amount short of that. And that would be only for the one novel. And that’s just me.

That’s the amount that would pique my interest, and signing that contract would leave me with 28 other novels to sell.

You’ll have to set your own price based on your own needs.

Back in a day or two.

Of Interest

Check out Dean’s post, “Flying In the Face of Common Knowledge” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/flying-in-the-face-of-common-knowledge/.

See Kris Rusch’s post on “Confidential Business Information” at https://kriswrites.com/2018/02/07/business-musings-confidential-business-information/.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 520 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 520

Writing of The Age Exchange (novel, working title)

Brought forward…… 6985
Day 1…… 1285 words. Total words to date…… 8270
Day 2…… 1120 words. Total words to date…… 9390
Day 3…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 2405
Total fiction words for the year………… 40561
Total nonfiction words for the month… 2470
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 10490
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 51051

Calendar Year 2018 Novels to Date………………………… 1
Calenday Year 2018 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
Calendar Year 2018 Short Stories to Date……… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 28
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182

The Journal, Thursday, December 28

Hey Folks,

Well, those of you who’ve hung on through my madness will receive a double reward today, or at least that’s how this edition of the Journal is intended.

In preparation for my own return to writing fiction, I decided to take today (and maybe the next couple of days) to do two things:

First, I’m revisiting some of the lectures and workshops I’ve taken from Dean. After that, I’ll be prepping by setting goals and a schedule. More on that in coming days. My intention is to begin fresh on January 1.

Because I have a couple of short stories that I’ve already written but believe would make good novels, I decided this morning to listen to Dean’s “Short Story to Novel” lecture.

I’m listening not so much for “how-to” advice, but more for the philosophy of it. Sort of the “why-to.”

And without giving away any major secrets (the lecture is only $50 and very well worth it) here’s what I re-learned:

A short-story-to-novel development might be a good idea if

▪ you feel like the story needs to continue, that even though it wrapped, there was more to the story (this is how I felt as I finished the short story “Beats All”), or
▪ you feel you’d like to read or explore more of the story (this is how I felt as I finished the short story “Going Back” in June of 2015), and
▪ the idea of revisiting the story concept is intriguing to you. If the idea bores you, don’t do it.

Maybe in some way that will help you.

And now for the second half of the double reward. A day or two ago a friend asked my opinion on using pen names. What follows is my advice to her, excerpted and expanded:

Topic: The Use of Pen Names (or Not)

In the “old days” of traditional publishing, a lot of prolific authors used pen names, mostly because they were turning out a lot more work than the tradpubs could or would handle.

Maybe a writer was putting out several novels per year, but the publishers would buy and publish only one novel per year per author.

In that case, a pen name meant an extra income. Two pen names meant two extra incomes, and so on. For that reason, many prolific authors used dozens of pen names.

So with that as a backdrop, when I started writing fiction, I thought it would be cool to have a different pen name for each major genre.

So my more “literary” fiction, the Hemingway-like stuff, was written by Nicolas Z “Nick” Porter. My magic realism was written by Gervasio Arrancado. The crazy, edgy, horror stuff was written by Eric Stringer, and the science fiction was written by Ray Sevareid.

(These are actually more than pen names. They’re personas. You can still read their bios at http://harveystanbrough.com/my-personas/.) And I wrote under several more pen names.

Then I realized we’re in a new publishing world today. The writer has to build a name, a reputation. If you use several different pen names, you dilute and fragment that.

Of course, you could just make sure readers know the pen name is also you, but then why have a pen name at all?

This matters so much that I went back and rebranded all of the novels by Nick Porter and Ray Sevareid under my own name. I left Confessions of a Professional Psychopath with Eric Stringer. Frankly, I was afraid to take it away from him. (grin)

In today’s world, pen names aren’t necessary unless you have a valid (to you) reason to conceal your identity.

For an extreme example, say you’re a Sunday school teacher or youth minister for your church. You can probably get away with writing in most genres—SF, action adventure, crime, etc—under your real name. Maybe even romance.

But if you bend your hand to writing steamy erotica, you might want to use a pen name for that.

Otherwise, they aren’t necessary.

Note: Dean does offer a lecture on pen names. It costs $50. I haven’t bought it because I assume he’ll spend a lot of time saying what he says publicly in his blog posts, that pen names by and large are not necessary.

If you’re interested, visit https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/lecture-series/ and scroll down to “Pen Names: How and When To Write Under a Pen Name.” That will get you the description.

Back soon.

Of Interest

I didn’t read Dean’s post today until after I’d written the stuff above this. Talk about timely! See “Getting Ready for 2018” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/getting-ready-for-2018/. And especially the segment on “How to Set Fiction Writing Goals in 2018.” Really great stuff.

Breaking: See “” at http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/12/the-year-in-review-overview/.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 750 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 750

Writing of “”

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

Total fiction words for the month……… XXXX
Total fiction words for the year………… 453762
Total nonfiction words for the month… 6180
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 181733
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 635495

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, Tuesday, 10/24

Hey Folks,

One of my new favorite quotes: “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work.” ~ Stephen King

Stephen King introduces the 1986 edition of The Running Man with an essay titled “The Importance of Being Bachman.” The essay is nothing short of a gem, and I encourage you to read it.

I took the liberty of transcribing it into a Word document, then saved it as a PDF file and added it to my Free Stuff page on my website.

Please go there and download it. Read it. If you don’t glean something important from it… well, I’m betting you will. UPDATE: Just in case the link gives you trouble, try this one: http://harveystanbrough.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/The-Importance-of-Being-Bachman.pdf.

In full disclosure, I did not get the man’s permission to reprint this. However, given my purpose for doing so, I believe strongly enough that he wouldn’t mind that I’m willing to risk having my rear end handed to me in court.

King had written a longer (and angrier) essay titled “Why I Was Bachman” a year earlier. It served as the introduction to The Bachman Books, which contains The Long Walk, Roadwork, and The Running Man.

I believe the 1985 essay is the one he was referring to in “The Importance of Being Bachman” when he said the too-nosy press’s outing of Bachman as King was not a good thing.

I agree.

Anyway, go. Download it. Learn stuff.
***

Welp, World Series Game 1 tonight on Fox. Only 4, 5, 6 or 7 games left in the year. I will miss baseball.
***

I wrote a little fiction today, but nothing I’m counting. It wasn’t really storytelling. It was more a kind of therapy, maybe.

Anyway, I’ll finish up this Journal entry then call it an early day. Huh. As I applied the numbers for today, I realized my nonfiction has outdistanced my fiction for the month.

Topic: We Few, the Fortunates

Awhile back I posted a blog over at HarveyStanbrough.com titled “Why Do You Write?” I think probably I can answer that now, at least for myself.

Possibly the most annoying aspect of human life is 20-20 hindsight and the realization that we don’t get a do-over.

When I graduated basic training for the USMC 47 years ago (November 1970), I was assigned the military occupational specialty (MOS) I wanted: 0331 (Machine Gunner). I was slated as a Feb/Mar 1971 replacement for the 3rd Marine Division in RVN.

But while I was on leave, my MOS was changed to 6700, Basic HAWK (missile) Fire Control Crewman, and I was ordered to report to Ft. Bliss at El Paso for training.

I was devastated.

And then 40+ years later I found out from another Marine who preceded me by a few years that I could have requested my MOS be reinstated. He knew because he had done it. He came out of boot camp as an Avionics tech, requested 0311 (Basic Rifleman) and got it.

All I knew back then was “Follow your last order first” and “The Corps sends you where they want you to be.” I never thought to question the change of MOS and orders. I never realized questioning it was possible.

Anyway, like I said, there are no do-overs. If you don’t know enough to get it right the first time, well, you’re just what we used to call Ess Oh Ell.

After all, there is no right or wrong. You do your best, then live with the ghosts.

But that’s where we, the writers, have at least a very minor advantage. We can’t do it over, but we can have others do it over in our stead. At least I realized that much in time.

So I wrote Wes Crowley and let him do what I couldn’t because I was born about a hundred years too late.

I wrote mafioso and let them do what I couldn’t because I wasn’t born into the right nationality or community.

I wrote an explosives expert and let him blow up a strategic train trestle because I wasn’t alive to do it myself during the Spanish Civil War.

I wrote PIs and detectives because I couldn’t put up with human garbage long enough to last more than a year as a cop. (When you begin to wonder how long juries give cops for murder anyway, it’s time to move on.)

I built a lunar settlement and wrote the settlers because I’ll never get to settle on the moon.

I wrote space travelers and alien species because I’ll never get to meet them unless, fingers crossed, they hurry up and come here.

And I wrote warriors, warriors, warriors of all kinds because I didn’t know enough to take charge of my own life at a young age.

And I’ll write more. Because it’s what I do. We who miss the boat write the wake. (Yeah, isn’t that a great double-entendre word?)

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

You can now download Steven Hawking’s doctoral thesis, “Properties of Expanding Universes,” once the website is back up. It had so many requests it crashed: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/251038.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 850 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 850

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… 12620
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 165303
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 611911

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 695 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, 10/9

Hey Folks,

Well, we had a good visit with our youngest son and our oldest grandson. Also very much enjoyed watching the baseball games yesterday, especially Cleveland at New York. Even though Cleveland chose to put off sending New York home until today or until they make them travel back to Cleveland first. (grin)

Today it’s back to writing. For anyone who cares about nominal personal nonsense, today is also my last day as a cigar smoker.

I have three left, including the 1/3 that’s currently clenched between my teeth. I figured it’s only fair to my wife that I do the Nicotine Withdrawal Shuffle while she’s at work tomorrow through Friday.

I realize I should be curled into a fetal position in a shadowy doorway in a seedy neighborhood in major metropolitan area, but where I am will have to do. The whole thing wasn’t properly staged.

And now, as promised and just as if it matters to anyone but me, here’s…

My Updated Fiction Length and Price List for 2017/2018

First, a few explanatory notes —

1. In everything below, I’m talking about indie publishers, like you and me. All signs indicate the traditional publishing model (the agency model) is dead or dying across the board.

I’m also talking here about ebooks. If you want to deal with print, see my excerpt from Dean’s post at http://hestanbrough.com/the-journal-friday-106/. And remember that DWS’ pricing guidelines are for trade paperbacks, not mass-market paperbacks.

2. As DWS mentioned a few days ago, in short fiction, Length, not Genre, matters in pricing.

In long fiction, however, Genre, not Length, rules in matters of pricing. This is a major change for me and one I had a little difficulty getting my head around.

To mitigate that “lost at sea” feeling, it helped me to remember that most well-selling genres have general length guidelines (e.g., Westerns are most often around 40,000-50,000 words).

It also helps to remember that dedicated readers of a particular genre have come to expect certain price points (e.g., most Romance readers are used to paying around $3.99 regardless of the length of the novel).

3. DWS also mentioned, in response to a comment, that the terms “novelette” (long short story) and “novella” (between a novelette and a short novel) have no meaning for readers. I agree. However, to add two more price levels that pertain to Length in short fiction, I use the designations for myself as a publisher.

All of that comes into play in what follows:

For short fiction, Length, not Genre, matters:

To 2999 (Short-short Story)………………………………1.49
3000 to 6999 (Short Story)………………………………..1.99
7000 to 14999 (Novelette or Long Short Story)…2.99
15000 to 24999 (Novella)………………………………….3.49

For long fiction, Genre, not Length, matters:

Romance……………………..3.99
Western……………………….3.99 – 4.99
SF/F……………………………..3.99 – 4.99
Mystery, Suspense……….4.99 – 5.99
Thriller (big book)…………5.99 – 6.99

The pricing variations above (for me) afford room to take into account pricing for Length. For example, Cozy Mysteries generally are short novels or novels. Mysteries and those that crossover into Suspense generally are novels or long novels.

So the second tier below illustrates my own divisions for length. I suspect this is a kind of security blanket for me:

25000 to 44999 (Short Novel)
45000 to 69999 (Novel)
over 70,000 (Long Novel)

Will these change? Possibly. And of course you should feel free to use this (or not) as only a guideline.

Hope this helps.
***

Rolled out late, mostly intentionally, mostly as a time-management technique because I have only three cigars left. (grin)

I browsed the Internet, added the “Of Interest” stuff, then wrote most of this Journal entry.

Spent a couple of hours while it was still cool outside pre-cleaning a car I just got. Now it’s almost 10 and I’m headed to the novel for awhile.

Well, I keep ekeing out these little writing days. The novel is moving along fine, a spurt here, a spurt there. I’m not worried about it. This one just isn’t writing in 3,000 – 5000 word chunks.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Author Pen Names: 5 Reasons they’re a Bad Idea in the Digital Age” at http://annerallen.com/2017/10/author-pen-names-digital-age/. Great article.

Strictly for fun, see “10+ Times Writers Took Book Dedications To Another Level” at https://www.boredpanda.com/creative-book-dedications/. There are actually 57 dedications.

Fiction Words: 1180
Nonfiction Words: 670 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1850

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

Total fiction words for the month……… 12462
Total fiction words for the year………… 446608
Total nonfiction words for the month… 6020
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 158703
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 605311

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 680 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, 9/30

Hey Folks,

Rolled out slightly after 3 this morning and went straight to email and then Facebook.

As a result of one article in one of the several e-newsletters I receive each morning, I found a topic.

My reading and then writing the topic below formed the start for the day.

We have a trip planned to Sierra Vista a little later this morning. Between now and then, I hope to write a bit of fiction.

Topic: Try And vs. Try To

First, a disclaimer — When people are speaking in real life (or characters in dialogue in a fiction) and they use the “try and” structure as a colloquialism, it doesn’t bother me.

In fact, I usually don’t even notice. If I do notice, I assume the structure is necessary to that person’s (or character’s) manner of speech.

In a real life conversation, the usage is unintentional.

In fiction, the usage is usually intentional as it speaks subliminally to the character’s level of education and/or ignorance.

But when the structure appears in a nonfiction article or book, it slaps me right out of the topic. Most of the time I stop reading.

That happened this morning.

I was reading “Astronauts Are Roasting B.o.B’s Flat Earth Satellite And It’s Amazing” by Jacinta Bowler. Here’s the offensive passage:

“[B.o.B] … is currently crowdfunding to TRY AND get a satellite out to space….” (emphasis added)

How much credibility does the author really have if she doesn’t know the difference?

The article didn’t allow comments. If it had, I would have left one.

My comment might have been a snarky “Try and? Really?”

Or perhaps the more specific and illustrative “Your ‘try and’ grabbed me and tossed me right out of your article. I hope you’ll ‘try to’ do better next time.”

I like to think I’d have left the second comment instead of the first. Maybe it would help this hapless writer.

Am I being nitpicky? Not really. It wasn’t like I was looking for a fight. Shrug. I just wanted to read the article.

The author’s use of the phrase was her choice. It was a result of her ignorance, not my reading. It affected me so strongly I was unable to continue reading the article.

Fortunately, there was an article on the same topic by a different author in a different newsletter. I read it all the way through and never noticed what sort of grammar or syntax the author was using.

There’s a lesson here for fiction writers.

Readers don’t read critically. They don’t read for words or phrases or sentence structure. They read for Story. They read to be entertained.

We all have our little writing quirks. When you’re fortunate enough to have one pointed out, consider it and learn from it.

If readers are often suddenly shoved out of your story by boredom or an awkward construction, it’s your fault, not theirs.

Again, readers only want to read and be entertained.

Whether they read YOUR work is important only to you. So the question you have to answer is this: How important is it?
***

I didn’t get enough done to cause a ripple in a pond before we left. We were gone longer than we expected, and when I got back, I worked on my website. Basically, I changed the home page. Check it out at HarveyStanbrough.com.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Mars Colonization in Five Years? See https://www.livescience.com/60560-elon-musk-spacex-fly-people-to-mars-2024.html.

Here’s one on Musk’s vision for both the moon and Mars: https://www.space.com/38310-elon-musk-moon-base-mars-city-images.html.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 590 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 590

Writing of (novel)

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

Total fiction words for the month……… 54526
Total fiction words for the year………… 434146
Total nonfiction words for the month… 16283
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 152683
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 586829

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 671 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, Friday, 9/15

Hey Folks,

Welp, I started the day closer to my usual time. I read a lot (see “Of Interest”) and then checked Dean’s site.

Much of his post for today is a rehash of the previous couple of days, so it didn’t make “Of Interest,” but parts of it keyed something in me.

So I wrote the topic for today. Actually, I also wrote the topic for tomorrow (I won’t count those words until tomorrow).

I had so much fun with the latter, I decided to cross post that one to the main blog where it will appear on September 19.

You, lucky readers, get to see it tomorrow. I almost titled it “How Warped Was My Rainbow,” but decided finally on “On Challenges, Part 2.”

In the meantime, here’s the first part.

TOPIC: On Challenges

In today’s post, DWS writes “challenges … are a way to prioritize writing time. … [That is o]ne of the many values of a challenge and why I do them regularly for myself. I get far more writing done when I have challenged myself…” (see http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/time-is-everything-these-days/ if you want).

Yeah, what Dean said. I’ve noticed that too.

Back in June when I challenged myself to write a short story every day, I failed miserably. But I still wrote 8 or 9 short stories in a row. I was hyper-productive because of the challenge.

Engaging in a personal challenge is a kind of partnership between the conscious mind and the subconscious creative mind.

The conscious mind says, “Ha! Bet you can’t do this!” and the subconscious responds with “Yeah? Hold my beer and watch this!”

Obviously, this works better if you happen to have an inborn stubborn streak, and the stronger the streak the better.

I do. And it is.

Now I’m not on the verge of announcing a new personal challenge. I’m not in that place at the moment. At the moment, I’m just getting back to writing every day.

At the moment, I’m more the curious observer, watching my own progress on my WIP and marveling that the new (to me) process I’ve come up with apparently is going to enable me to finish a novel in what many would see as record time.

And for now, for me, that’s good enough. I’m happy with it. Writing is fun again.

But if you’re a seasoned writer and you find yourself stuck in the doldrums, or if you’re just starting out and feeling a bit overwhelmed (or even just whelmed) and not sure what to do first, try giving yourself a challenge.

I almost wrote “a realistic challenge,” but if it’s too “realistic” it won’t be a challenge, will it?

***

Yesterday, I guess, I mentioned in passing that when I started writing I was “stuck.” A few folks wrote me about that. Thanks.

But I didn’t really mean “stuck” in a bad way. I remember one novel I wrote that was like pulling teeth with a pocket knife pretty much all the way through. Fortunately, most of mine aren’t like that.

Most of mine flow straight from get-go to been-there-done-that.

In this particular WIP, I’ve been “stuck” two times that were big enough to mention. One of those was yesterday.

But notice too, being “stuck” lasted only until I’d stared at it long enough. I wasn’t stuck so much as mired. There were a lot of “little” bits of the scene I wanted to form and fashion and sequence just right.

You could say I rewrote that segment several times, but I wouldn’t call it that. I did make several passes until it was “just right.”

But each pass was in the creative mind and each pass made the scene (it turned out to be a chapter) a little better. A little fuller. Once I waded around in the muck and found a few rocks, I came straight on out and moved ahead.

So that’s all that was about.

Went to the grocery around 8, spent half a boatload of money and got everything put away around 9:45.

After that I did some other small things, including playing online for awhile. Finally around 11 I started to cycle back over the last couple of chapters.

When I finished cycling, I went right on writing instead of taking a break. Including what I added in cycling, I hit around 1800 words by 12:30. Then I took a break. (grin)

Flying along on the novel again for a bit, then took a break to chat with a friend via email. For a long while, I’ve told folks if you need cover or layout design check out CovertoUpload.com.

Kat Magee, the owner, changed it. She’s rebuilding the site and the new name is Daring Creative Designs. And she’s very good. Check it out at https://daringcreativedesigns.com/.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Via The Digital Reader, see “Business Musings: Rethinking A Title” at http://kriswrites.com/2017/09/13/business-musings-rethinking-a-title/. Hint: This is only peripherally about retitling a book. It’s more about Kris’ process, and in that way it’s both rare and very insightful.

Via The Digital Reader, see “You Are Already Living Inside a Computer” at https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/09/you-are-already-living-inside-a-computer/539193/. It’s very long, very thought provoking, and chock full of story ideas.

Check the comments on “The Attitude of a Challenge” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-attitude-of-a-challenge/#comments/.

Fiction Words: 3614
Nonfiction Words: 880 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 4494

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

Total fiction words for the month……… 32942
Total fiction words for the year………… 412562
Total nonfiction words for the month… 8200
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 144600
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 557162

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, Monday, 8/7

Hey Folks,

A little under the weather today. Nothing serious, just blah. Not sure how much writing I’ll get done, if any. Feels like a day of doing zip.

I added my most recent novel, a whodunit mystery, to the website. You can see it at http://harveystanbrough.com/the-implications/.

Topic: Ebook Editors (actually, formatting programs)

This stuff was going to go into “Of Interest” but it’s too important. Especially for those who are new to ebook publishing or thinking about ebook publishing.

If you fit either of those categories, or if you are frustrated with your current formatting process or software, here are a few articles I strongly recommend you read.

One: “How to Use Reedsy’s Book Editor to Format Ebooks and Print for Free” at https://selfpublishingadvice.org/how-to-use-reedsys-book-editor-to-format-ebooks-and-print/.

I’m not wild about the “‘for’ free” appelation, but the article itself is pretty good. I won’t be using Reedsy myself because

1. It’s browser based. There’s no program to download and I’m more of a want-it-on-my-computer kind of guy.

2. I’m happy with MS Word for my formatting. But I’ve been at it a long while so it’s easy-peasy.

Two: In light of my second note above, here’s a link to my free “The Essentials of Digital Publishing,” which explains in detail how to format your Word .doc for submission to Draft2Digital, Smashwords, et al (who then convert your .doc to .epub, .mobi and .pdf): http://harveystanbrough.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/DPubV2X.pdf/. I sold a bunch of copies for $10, and this is free. Just sayin’.

Three: For another article on using MS Word as a formatting platform, see “Book Production Advice: How to Format an Ebook using Microsoft Word” at https://selfpublishingadvice.org/book-production-advice-how-to-format-an-ebook-using-microsoft-word/. I’ve read it. It’s pretty good, but only for formatting ebooks.

Four: If you’re a Mac user, I recommend Vellum as I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. It’s not available for PCs, but you can read “Production: Vellum as a Formatting Tool for Print” at https://selfpublishingadvice.org/vellum-for-print/.

Five: Finally, if you’d like a simple but thorough guide into the ins and outs of Microsoft Word, check out my free blog series “Microsoft Word for Writers” at http://harveystanbrough.com/microsoft-word-for-writers/. Nothing I hate worse than receiving a manuscript for editing and seeing that the writer still used the Tab bar or the space bar to indent the first line of paragraphs. Ugh.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out way early again. Not sure why, and I didn’t feel well. I thought I might start another story, but if I wrote something today it would be just to put words on a page. So calling today a non-writing day.

Went to the grocery and the post office, did a load of laundry, read a little, watched some TV. Stuff like that.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See the stuff in the Topic above.

Via The Passive Voice, see “Note to All Creatives: Marketing is Your Job” at https://medium.com/the-mission/note-to-all-creatives-marketing-is-your-job-6c4adecc38bf/.

Also, an article about one part of the decline of humanity (in my opinion). Like cursive writing, doing math without calculators, and dictionaries beginning to insist that “imply” and “infer” are interchangeable, there inevitably comes a time when it’s easier to change the technology than to teach skills to those who use it. See “The End of Typing: The Internet’s Next Billion Users Want Video and Voice” at https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-end-of-typing-the-internets-next-billion-users-will-use-video-and-voice-1502116070/.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 500 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 500

Writing of “” ()

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

Total fiction words for the month……… 13581
Total fiction words for the year………… 376559
Total nonfiction words for the month… 3050
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 122160
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 498719

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 620 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels or novellas)………………… 8 novels or novellas
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 26
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 179

The Journal, Sunday, 7/23

Hey Folks,

Well, my kitten is all right. I won’t go into details, but my wife and I considered putting off our trip (with nonrefundable hotel stays already paid for) to stay here with her. Thanks to my bride for considering doing that. (She brought the subject up.)

I’m always torn when I (or we) leave. It’s better for Bit and the other two babies to stay here in familiar surroundings. But it’s always difficult on me, being away from her for any length of time. I’ve never been quite selfish enough to take her with me, but I’ve been on the verge pretty much every time. (grin)

So anyway, we’re on the road sometime tomorrow morning.

Because you never know what the Internet will do in a strange place, and because my schedule will be all over the place time-wise, I’ll spend part of today pre-posting a few Journal entries as placeholders.

Then if I’m able and if I have anything relevant to say, I’ll update each of those pre-posts each day before it posts.

One of the two major plot points in the WIP novel is resolved, mostly, as far as I know, but I have no idea where the end is in this book. So I also plan to write two or three hours per day while we’re gone.

I don’t want to take for granted that I “might” be able to finish it in only the few days after we get back. (grin)

Topic: A Little More on Cycling

Or maybe on different versions of cycling.

I’ve mentioned that before I start writing for the day, I usually go back about 1000 words and start reading, allowing myself to touch the manuscript as I go.

I do this with the subconscious, reading strictly for pleasure, but with my fingers on the keyboard. When something needs to be added, I add it.

A few times recently, I’ve talked with other writers about cycling. They outlined what they do and how, and so on. It’s usually something similar.

In the introduction to the library edition of A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway wrote that before he began each day’s writing, he read through the entire novel up to that point, allowing himself to touch it as he did so.

So even he was cycling, if he kept his conscious mind still during those sessions and allowed only his subconscious to touch the work. Except he cycled through the entire thing each day until it was finished.

I just thought that was interesting.

Today, and Writing

Moved out to the Hovel around 8 after all the stuff above and preparing and pre-posting the Journal for the next few days.

I decided for this one I’d try Hemingway’s method, at least for today.

So I started reading at the beginning, allowing myself to touch the manuscript as I read through it.

By noon, including four or five interruptions as I moved from Hovel to house to outside desk and back in, I’d completed the read-through of the first 16,100 words.

That brought me up to the beginning of the last chapter I wrote day before yesterday. In that time, I added around 600 words.

I was glad I conducted this little experiment, but I won’t repeat it for this book. (That is, I won’t read from the beginning again.) From here on out, I’ll begin the writing day by reading over what I wrote the day before, then go from there.

So for now, a quick lunch. Then I’ll begin reading at Chapter 19. At the end of that, I’ll begin writing new stuff again.

Well, I got through the next chapter, then ran out of steam. (grin)

I hope to add more tomorrow but that will depend on how tired I am from the trip.

Anyway, back tomorrow.

Of Interest

Check Dean’s “Novel Three: Day Six” at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/novel-three-day-six/. An excerpt: “When you don’t know where the story is going, have the characters talk about how they don’t know what to do next.”

Fiction Words: 1207
Nonfiction Words: 650 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1857

Writing of Graham’s Road (tentative title, novel or novella)

Words brought forward…… 1070
Day 1…… 3012 words. Total words to date…… 4082
Day 2…… 2675 words. Total words to date…… 6757
Day 3…… 2181 words. Total words to date…… 8938
Day 4…… 4913 words. Total words to date…… 13851
Day 5…… 2543 words. Total words to date…… 16394
Day 6…… 1207 words. Total words to date…… 17601

Total fiction words for the month……… 21419
Total fiction words for the year………… 359376
Total nonfiction words for the month… 9360
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 117190
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 476566

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………………… 605 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels or novellas)………………… 7 novels or novellas
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 25
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 179