Challenge, Inside No. 9, First Readers, and a Flash Sale

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Even If You Are Not an American Football Fan
* Inside No. 9
* The Bradbury Challenge Writers Reporting
* About First Readers
* Flash Sale
* The Writing
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anaïs Nin

“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” Diane Ackerman

Both quotes above are from Dr. Mardy’s Quotes of the Week

Even If You Are Not an American Football Fan, Read This

As I watched Saturday’s second NFL divisional playoff game, I noticed a propensity among the defensive players on the Packers to take the easy and more-impressive but less-effective way to “tackle” the opponent.

Tackling an opponent, as every junior-high and high school football player learns early-on, involves using the shoulder, both arms, and whatever leverage is available to “wrap up” the runner and put him on the ground.

Using that technique when I played high school ball back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, even at only around 130 pounds (soaking wet), I could easily bring down any running back or even a 200+ pound tight end.

Apparently, the multi-millionaires who play the game today for a living either were never made aware of that concept or have chosen to set it aside in favor of appearing to be able to deliver a hard hit (or rip the football out of the opponent’s vise-like grip).

Even minus all the angled, near-miss “arm tackles,” If those who had running backs and pass receivers dead to rights had chosen to actually tackle them instead of delivering “hits,” the Packers would have won the game handily.

How does that relate to writing fiction?

In our game too you can take the easy and more-impressive but less-effective way to write.

All the non-writers out there will be impressed that you outlined meticulously, revised and rewrote a dozen times, and labored for several months or a year or longer to turn out your masterpiece, all the while talking about how very arduous writing is.

Or you can step out of yourself and realize that (as in the child’s game of American football) appearances just don’t matter. What matters is having fun, enjoying the game, and constantly striving to improve through PRACTICE.

Which in our game, means putting new words on the page. Study and learn a new technique, then make it your own. Practice until it becomes second nature.

If you do that, you will win far more than you lose. And you will write much better, more original and authentic fiction.

Inside No. 9

Hey, if you want to teach yourself a ton about great writing, find a series called Inside No. 9 and be prepared to take notes.

Series 6, Episode 3 “Lip Service” is nothing short of sheer genius. I’ll never stop seeing one character toss a portable hair dryer to another, then saying into her wrist “Now.”

I know the show is on Amazon Prime Video and Britbox, but you can probably find it on YouTube or YouTubeTV and elsewhere too.

The Bradbury Challenge Writers Reporting

The challenge is to write at least one short story per week (or add to your novel), then submit the story title, word count, and genre to me each week for publication in the Journal on Monday.

You can join or rejoin the challenge at any time. There’s no cost. The whole point challenge is to have fun and grow as a writer.

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

Short Fiction

  • George Kordonis “Mall Monster” 2033 Urban Fantasy
  • Adam Kozak “Free Parking” 2748 Humor
  • Christopher Ridge “Clowns” 2800 Horror
  • K.C. Riggs “The Winter Witch” 5045 Fantasy

Longer Fiction

  • Balázs Jámbor *Kylen’s Story* (tentative title) 2000 Fantasy (21800 to date)
  • Alexander Nakul *Under the Lighthouse* 11,724 Historical Fantasy (24,016 to date)

About First Readers

A good first reader can be invaluable to your writing. S/he can keep you from looking like a complete waste of space. (grin)

A bad first reader (like a beta reader or critique group) can make you question yourself and your abilities and feed-into the fears of going your own way instead of following the myths.

If you’re considering finding a good first reader, take a look at these two posts from earlier in the Journal:

Value of IP, and First Readers

First Readers (More Info)

Flash Sale

As I mention in The Writing below, my latest novel is available now for early sales.

HOWEVER, the novel is also a prime example of the concepts I explained in my post “What I Learned from the King”.

So until the book goes live, I’m offering it for sale to you for only $3 (50% off).

To get your copy now in PDF, .epub, or .mobi to read or study or both, click Donate Here. Donate $3 via PayPal, debit or credit card, then email me to request your copy. I’ll send it right out.

The Writing

As I reported a couple of days ago, Blackwell Ops 18: Soleada Garcia: Settled wrapped on Friday, writing day 10, at around 43,000 words.

On Saturday, my first reader got his notes back to me, and I applied them. Yesterday I published the book. It will go on live on Monday, January 29. It is available for presale orders now at both Amazon and all other booksellers. (But see Flash Sale above.)

On Saturday, I started the next one. Initially, I titled it Blackwell Ops 19: Soleada Garcia and left the subtitle blank.

But when I turned to the writing ‘puter, a little voice said, “No.” Soleada was standing behind the voice, her arms crossed over her chest. She has told me all the stories she’s going to tell me, at least for awhile.

I’m guessing that any others (if there are any others) will occur during the time after she and Charlie Task met (Blackwell Ops 15 and 16). The next two novels (17, 18) were prequels to 15.

To be honest, the thought left me a little sad. But if the character doesn’t want to share her stories for awhile, hey, that’s her right. It’s like your neighbor telling you a really interesting story over your backyard fence, then leaving you wanting more when he turns and walks back into his house.

So Blackwell Ops 19 will feature a new POV character. I guess we’ll see what happens. I only hope he is as interesting and as accomplished a storyteller as Soleada is.

I’ll talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

Ten British Dialects You Need to Know

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 1120

Writing of Blackwell Ops 19: Sam Thurston

Day 1…… 2843 words. To date…… 2843
Day 2…… 2338 words. To date…… 5181

Fiction for January……………………. 77927
Fiction for 2024…………………………. 77927
Fiction since October 1…………… 380972
Nonfiction for January……………… 21580
Nonfiction for 2024…………………… 21580
2024 consumable words…………… 99507

2024 Novels to Date……………………… 2
2024 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2024 Short Stories to Date……………… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 84
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)…… 238
Short story collections…………………… 31

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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.