Goals, a Wish, and Research

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Welcome
* Correction
* One More Note on Goals
* Something I Wish for You
* Back to Research for a Moment
* The Writing Yesterday
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“[T]rust your own writing and voice. Act like an artist instead of a doormat for heaven’s sake.” Dean Wesley Smith

“I ghosted a novel set in Argentina a couple of years ago. When writing a scene, I logged on
to ‘airport Buenos Aires images,’ picked out a few details, and wrote my characters walk-through. I did the same with streets, stores and restaurants – a quick look at images and then back to scribbling. That’s the extent of my in-depth research. My author’s agent wrote him amazed at his intimate knowledge of a place neither he nor I have been.” Dan Balwin, ghost-writer extraordinaire


Welcome to Lauria 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.


A day or two ago I said cement is the wet, gooey stuff and concrete is the same thing after it hardens.

Not true. From a “recovering engineer,” “Cement is the dry powdery stuff you mix with aggregate and water to get concrete.”

So there y’go. I guess the watery stuff is liquid concrete, like lava is still lava whether it’s red and flowing or solid in its rock form, right?

One More Note on Goals

Despite how extremely prolific he is, Stephen King has a relatively modest daily goal.

About his process, he says, “When I work, I work. I try to write 6 pages (so around 1500 to 1800 words) every day. Three to four hours, and I try to get them fairly clean the first time through.”

He doesn’t always hit 6 pages a day because “there’s real life. Something comes up and you have to go see the doctor or take somebody a care package or go to the post office or whatever,” etc.

Something I Wish for You

Blackwell Ops is a really cool series (for me, the writer). Of the 17 novels, there are 11 different POV characters (operatives, assassins). And the possibilities for new characters (and books) is endless.

Also, although the basic premise of each novel is the same as all the others — somebody’s gonna assume room temperature — the details vary widely.

Each POV character has his or her unique personality, character traits and quirks, and background. (Just as everyone you know does.) So every story writes differently and unfolds in wildly different ways. It’s almost like writing a series of one-off novels. (grin)

Even in the novels in which the POV character (or characters) repeat, their lives and experiences are different as they age and have more experiences. So writing (or reading) a Blackwell Ops novel is like peering through someone else’s window to see what they’re up to.

I wish something like this for you because these books are both interesting and fun to write.

And that’s where I’m going in a moment.

I have to. (grin) I already know Soleada will star in at least one more novel. And I already know a new male operative (as yet unnamed) will star in another one.

Remember that 500-word opening I completely cut from the previous novel? It will serve to open one of the next two (probably the second one, but who knows?)

Back to Research for a Moment

I’m thoroughly familiar with various kinds of weapons and firearms, so I don’t have to do much research on those. I have not traveled widely though, so sometimes I do a little research on either real cities or towns or on the landscape, etc. where fictional cities or towns are located.

In one Blackwell Ops story, a hit took place in a fictional restaurant in a city located in (I believe) a country in South America. For that one I spent a few minutes looking at photos of the inside and outside of an actual restaurant that appealed to me as the site for a hit.

I even noted the very narrow streets and the parking situation etc. outside so my character wouldn’t park in a place or direction inconsistent with local customs.

But here’s the kicker — All of that research is the “spot” research I mentioned yesterday. I pop online on my business computer for a few seconds (seldom longer than a minute), learn what I need to know, then pop back into the story. The characterS layer-in the details as they need them, and the story (and they) move on.

The Writing Yesterday

I started a new novel yesterday. It will be another Blackwell Ops novel, and another installment in the story of Soleada Garcia. And I’m having a ball writing it.

The numbers below for the first day could have been much higher. The story is racing along, but we had an unexpected but necessary trip to Sierra Vista. So I stopped writing at 1 p.m.

I’ll talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

Just Say No to Artificial Intelligence in Your Creative Pursuits, Please

Writing Tips from the Masters

so you want to be a writer? (a short poem by Charles Bukowski)

“The Myth That Writing is Hard” Dean Wesley Smith

The Lifespan of a Story Ideas to stretch what you have.

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 930

Writing of Blackwell Ops 18: Soleada Garcia: Settled

Day 1…… 4078 words. To date…… 4078

Fiction for January……………………. 33384
Fiction for 2024…………………………. 33384
Fiction since October 1…………… 336429
Nonfiction for January……………… 11680
Nonfiction for 2024…………………… 11680
2024 consumable words…………… 45064

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

Note: If you find this Journal of value and want to make a one time or recurring donation, please do not pledge through Substack. I don’t use Stripe. Instead click this link. If you can’t donate, please consider sharing this post with friends.

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.