Blackwell Ops 10, Learning as You Go, and the Challenge

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Blackwell Ops 10 is LIVE on Vella!
* Learning as You Go
* For Anyone New to the Journal
* Bradbury Challenge Writers Reporting
* My Own Writing
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“I try to leave out the parts readers skip.” Elmore Leonard

“New Ideas come into this world somewhat like falling meteors, with a flash and an explosion.”Henry David Thoreau (courtesy of Dan Baldwin)

“I’ve never been in charge of my stories, they’ve always been in charge of me. . . . Jump off a cliff and build your wings on the way down.” Ray Bradbury (as reported by

Blackwell Ops 10 is LIVE on Vella!

That’s right! You can read along one chapter at a time as I write my current novel!

Here’s the hype:

This will be the 10th novel in the Blackwell Ops series. TJ Blackwell runs a worldwide network of assassins for hire. The targets are always deserving for one reason or another, but a large check is all TJ needs to forward the assignment to one of his operatives.

For security, all assignments are sent via a VaporStream device. Once the message is received, it vanishes. Hence VaporStream. Operatives are very well paid, but the only retirement plan is a permanent one.

To start reading, click Blackwell Ops 10: Jeremy Stiles. The first three episodes (chapters) are absolutely free. Chapter 4 should go live on September 12th.

If you’d rather copy and paste the URL, here’s the link:

Learning as You Go

I write into the dark, and I strongly advocate writing into the dark (writing without a plot or a plan and letting your characters tell the story that they, not you, are living) and Heinlein’s Rules.

However, that does not mean, as those who plot everything in advance would have you believe, that I don’t believe you need to continue learning. I most definitely do. That’s why I’ve written so many hundreds of thousands of words in this Journal since 2014.

Especially when you’re first starting out (but later too as you become more advanced), it’s critically important that you at least try to learn one new awareness or craft item about writing between every two stories you write, no matter the length.

So write a short story or novel, then pick up a new technique or become aware of or learn a new craft item. Absorb it with your conscious, critical mind. That is the only purpose of the critical mind for fiction writers.

You can also learn through assimilation by reading the works of your favorite Stage 4 and 5 writers. Much of my own fiction is available free, either in the free story of the week I publish every Friday, in Writer Downloads (see below) or by emailing me at and asking. I’m happy to share.

Whatever you read or learn and then absorb, afterward don’t think about it. Thinking is anathema to writing great fiction. So forget about it. What you need will seep into your creative subconscious and come to the fore as you write the next short story or novel.

Don’t slack up. Write, learn, and then practice when you write something new.

Don’t back up either. Don’t go back to something you’ve already written and try to work what you’ve learned into that old story. Let it stand as a marker of where you were as a writer when you wrote it.

Always keep moving forward. Not standing still, hovering with revisions and rewrites over your current work, and not backing up, applying new things you’ve learned to old stories. Keep moving forward. It’s called practice, and it’s profitable if you do a lot of it.

For Anyone New to the Journal

Be sure to visit (the Journal website) and the tabs labeled Free Archives and If You Really Want to Write Fiction. Lots of free stuff there.

I also recommend visiting my author website at and the tabs labeled Writer Downloads and Writer Resources.

Bradbury Challenge Writers Reporting

An Introductory Note — Most of those who have joined in this challenge have written tens of thousands more words than they might have otherwise. You can still join in the challenge at any time. And if you’re a fiction writer, why not?

Anyone can jump in and join the challenge at any time. This really is a great way to jumpstart your writing and get more practice pushing down the critical voice.

There’s no cost, and the challenge is a great way to increase your inventory and jumpstart your writing. Chances are you’ll have more fun than you’ve had in a long time. The challenge is also a great way to get more practice pushing down the critical voice.

As I wrote awhile back I wouldn’t be a professional fiction writer today if I hadn’t taken a deep breath and dived into the three main things I learned from Dean Wesley Smith: Heinlein’s Rules, that it was perfectly all right to trust myself, and Writing Into the Dark.

Frankly, this Challenge is my way of paying forward the best thing since sliced bread. And now the Challenge is also extended to longer works: novellas and novels.

It dawned on me that short stories aren’t everyone’s cup of whatever. I am a prime example. I enjoy writing short fiction, but I prefer writing novels. Some of you do too.

If you aren’t sure how long your story will be but you’d like to report it here, report your title and weekly numbers for inclusion below.

You might look at this Challenge as an ongoing NaNoWriMo, but without the “intentionally write sloppy” part. Do your best the first time through, spell check it, and then move on to the next story or novel.

Just think how much further ahead will you be if you start reporting your numbers this coming Monday than if you wait to start at some later date. (GV et al, I’m looking at you. [grin])

Notice, there’s no pressure re submitting or publishing. That’s up to you. I just want to help you enable the sheer fun of writing and learning to keep track.

During the past week, in addition to whatever other fiction they’re writing, the following writers reported their progress:

Short Fiction

  • Erin Donoho “The First Choice” 2700 Historical Fiction
  • George Kordonis “Secret of the Sideways Dimension” 2488 SF Horror
  • Alexander Nakul “In Portuguese apartment buildings” 5618 Thriller
  • Chynna Pace “A Curious Concoction” 2869 Humorous Fiction
  • Christopher Ridge “The Dog” 2400 Horror
  • K.C. Riggs “London is Alive” 1586 Magical Realism

Longer Fiction

  • Balázs Jámbor “Trilogy of the Lora Stories” 4000 words Fantasy

My Own Writing

I wrote only about 2000 words of fiction yesterday, but I also wrote two Journal entries, including this one except for the final input from those in the Challenge.

This post is getting too long, so please be sure to check the Journal tomorrow (Tuesday) for a clarification of how I am using Vella.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Minor Characters to the Rescue” at I disagree on some points, but this isn’t a bad primer on characters.

See “Spotlighting Rural Crime Fiction” at

See “Why This Award-Winning Piece of AI Art Can’t Be Copyrighted” at

See “How to Tell if You’re a Super-Recognizer” at Read PG’s take, then read the article.

See “Motif in Literature: Definition and Examples” at I neither use nore endorse Grammarly, but this might be a useful article.

See “Your Writing Superpower in a World of AI” at Not what you’d expect.

See “Reporting Writing Challenge” at


The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 1190

Writing of Blackwell Ops 10: Jeremy Stiles
The Way Things Go

Day 1…… 1635 words. To date…… 1635
Day 2…… 2464 words. To date…… 4099
Day 3…… 1615 words. To date…… 5714
Day 4…… 3808 words. To date…… 9522
Day 5…… 2057 words. To date…… 11579

Fiction for September…………………… 23561
Fiction since August 1………………… 147720
Fiction for 2023………………………… 175870
Nonfiction for September……………… 7720
Nonfiction for the year……………… 182190
Annual consumable words………… 358060

2023 Novels to Date……………………… 3
2023 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2023 Short Stories to Date……………… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 74
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)… 232
Short story collections…………………… 31

Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark and adherence to Heinlein’s Rules. Unreasoning fear and the myths of writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.