Challenge, Scammers, Ellipsis, Em Dash

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Welcome
* The Bradbury Challenge Writers Reporting
* On Scribe Media and Other Scammers
* The Ellipsis and the Em Dash in Fiction
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quote of the Day

“The fact self-publishing isn’t big news now is exactly because it’s so successful. It’s zooming along with no roadblocks, so there’s no news. Authors who take their indie careers seriously are making a lot of money self-publishing. They’re doing their own marketing and turning out books quickly for their growing fan bases.” Anne R. Allen (see Of Interest)


Welcome to “tmoler” and any other new readers or subscribers of the Journal. I hope you will find it useful.

Get the Archives and other free downloads at the Journal website. Just click the links and a PDF will download in a new page.

I also recommend reading the posts “I Believe in You” and “Fear”. Can’t hurt, and it might help.

The Bradbury Challenge Writers Reporting

My former mentor Dean Wesley Smith is now charging writers $600 to write as much as they can. Why would anyone pay that when they can write as much as they can anyway? But at least you get a free mug and a t-shirt. I think. (grin)

Rules of the Challenge

I challenge you 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. (Please see the correct format below.)

  • Reporting your numbers to other writers can help encourage them and yourself to keep writing.
  • You can join or rejoin the challenge at any time. There’s no cost.
  • This is a great way to jumpstart your writing and get more practice pushing down the critical voice.
  • The whole point of this challenge is to have fun and grow as a writer. Learning to keep track of your writing is a bonus.

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

Short Fiction

  • Balázs Jámbor “The name” 3500 Literary
  • George Kordonis “The Ringing” 2011 Urban Fantasy
  • Adam Kozak “Love Imitates Art” 4552 Romance, Humor
  • Alexander Nakul “Under the Lighthouse” 12292 Historical Fantasy
  • Alexander Nakul “Nikola Zimny and not only” 1796 Humor
  • Christopher Ridge “Caveman Day” 2100 Horror
  • K.C. Riggs “It Came” 6164 words Fantasy

Longer Fiction

  • Balázs Jámbor *Kylen’s Story* (tentative title) 2200 Fantasy (26000 to date)

On Scribe Media and Other Scammers

As it turns out, this is fairly old news.

Yesterday I linked to “Bad Writing Advice: 21 Terrible Tips You Should Ignore” by an anonymous alleged “bestselling” writer at Scribe Media. I stand by my belief that most of the tips in that article are good ones.

An astute and curious reader (Thanks, Russ) did further research. He discovered these two articles, which as he said are pretty revealing:

The Downfall of Scribe Media + What That Means For Authors

Scribe Media Shutting Down The article could have used a good copyedit.

As an aside, both articles were written by folks who either run or work-for subsidy or “vanity” publishers. The central idea posed in each article is that even though Scribe Media is sadly gone, you, the writer, still need someone to publish your book.

In fact, all three of these companies — the now defunct Scribe Media, Publish Your Purpose, and Ghostwriters and Co — were or are subsidy publishers.

Despite their various pitches, subsidy publishers do not care about you and they do not care about your book. Like traditional publishers, they care only about your money, specifically how it can become their money.

Subsidy publishers are a little more honest. They charge an upfront fee and often a royalty split, but you usually get to retain all or part of your rights.

Traditional publishers are more sleight-of-hand. They take ALL rights for the life of the work, pay you a pittance, and their bottom line grows exponentially when they add your title to their spreadsheet. And they’re fine with that becuase what was your intellectual property is now theirs.

I recommend STRONGLY against getting involved with any subsidy publisher for any reason. They can do nothing for you that you cannot do for yourself. Same goes for traditional publishers.

If you want to avail yourself of outside help with your book — for example, a copyeditor or cover designer or a layout artist or even a ghostwriter — that’s perfectly fine. In every case you will pay an upfront fee for services and retain all rights.

In fact, if you want a good ghostwriter, I suggest you contact my buddy Dan Baldwin. And hell, if you want a novel ghostwritten and are willing to pay me to do so, I’LL even write it for you. In less than a month. Guaranteed.

But I suggest you should never, ever, under ANY circumstances, pay a fee to have your book published. Subsidy publishers, every one of them, are a scam. Every one of them is nothing but smoke and mirrors, and the goal of every one of them is only to separate you from your hard-earned cash.

The Ellipsis and the Em Dash in Fiction

In seminars and even in one or two of my nonfction books, I used to teach the appropriate use of the ellipsis in fiction: to indicate the trailing off of an unfinished sentence of dialogue.

In that case, the ellipsis — which ALWAYS is constructed of three unspaced periods — is followed with the punctuation that would have ended the complete sentence, almost always a period or a question mark.

Today, I most often use the em dash (or “long” dash. The em dash is used in every case to indicate an interruption, whether a speaker is interrupted by someone else or by him or herself.

Therefore, unless indicating the trailing-off is absolutely necessary to establish the mood of the speaker or for some other specific reason, I use the em dash exclusively.

For a great deal more on these and all the marks of punctuation (and spelling punctuation) and their uses plus a brief grammar refresher, please see Punctuation for Writers, Second Edition.

I’ll talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

Is Self-Publishing a Good Choice for Authors in 2024? The answer, even in this article, is a resounding Yes.

Character Type & Trope Thesaurus: Dark Lord or Lady

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 1050

Writing of Blackwell Ops 18: Soleada Garcia: Settled

Day 1…… 4078 words. To date…… 4078
Day 2…… 4194 words. To date…… 8272
Day 3…… 4277 words. To date…… 12549
Day 4…… 4916 words. To date…… 17465
Day 5…… 4613 words. To date…… 22078

Fiction for January……………………. 51384
Fiction for 2024…………………………. 51384
Fiction since October 1…………… 354429
Nonfiction for January……………… 15110
Nonfiction for 2024…………………… 15110
2024 consumable words…………… 66494

2024 Novels to Date……………………… 1
2024 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2024 Short Stories to Date……………… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 83
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.