The Daily Journal, Monday, April 15

In today’s Journal

▪ Notre Dame Cathedral
▪ Blackwell Ops 4: Melanie Sloan
▪ I couldn’t get through the OP
▪ Topic: Mentoring (or Not), A Cautionary Tale
▪ Daily diary
▪ Of Interest
▪ The numbers

First and foremost, our hearts go out to the people of Paris and France as Notre Dame, which has stood since the 14th century, is on fire today.

I don’t watch network news, so I first learned of this at around 1:15 p.m. from my dear friend Michaele, for whom the Cathedral was once her parish church for a short while.

Of course, human beings are all about placing blame. The latest news I’ve heard (onilne, CNBC) says at the moment firefighters are treating the situation as if the fire was caused by an accident probably from some of the renovations ongoing in the Cathedral.

Let’s hope that’s the case, and that there are no human beings on Earth ugly, hateful and mean-spirited enough to demolish such a lovely icon of peace and spirituality.

I won’t be writing more today.

Blackwell Ops 4: Melanie Sloan released today. I just have a gut feeling that this series is going to “hit” in the minds of readers. I hope so. Anyway, it’s released so I uploaded it to BundleRabbit this morning.

I argued with myself about whether to even post the following link. I couldn’t get through the original post, but you might find The Passive Guy’s comments enlightening at the end of “The Golden Age of Youtube Is Over” at

Via Kevin Tumlinson’s newsletter, “Click this link to find a whole bunch of exciting, FREE new thrillers from a collection of amazing authors:” I checked. True story. (grin)

Topic: Mentoring (or Not), A Cautionary Tale

I spent an hour and a half this morning (not kidding) very carefully crafting a 360-word email to a young woman who wants my help with her writing.

We’re all at various stages of writing ability. We all have our human glitches, our learning abilities and disabilities, our disconnects.

For just one example, I know people who can write several thouseand words per day by dictation. What they speak into the recorder comes out clear and concise and in sequence, a complete story or novel, beginning to end. they can do that, cycle through one time, and be done.

I wish I had that capability, but I don’t. My head just doesn’t work that way. If it did, I could probably write upwards of 10,000 words of new fiction per day. (Talk about being prolific!)

But when I do things my way (or in the way I am able to do them) I’m a pretty good writer. And I like to share what works for me.

So as I wrote above, we all have our glitches and our own ways of learning.

Enter the mentoring relationship.

I see mentoring as a way of drastically cutting or flattening a learning curve. I see it as a good thing for both me and my students.

Everybody who’s reading this can eventually learn exactly the same things I’m teaching my mentoring students. (With the proviso that you can “get it” from the way I “put it.”)

But with my students I can focus on specifics. I can provide more deeply detailed information that goes to their specific needs.

As a result, my students will learn in a month or a few months what might take them years to glean from my blog posts. But that’s only because both they and I are satisfied that they can learn from me.

Of my two current mentoring students, I’ve known one and her writing for several years. She’s also attended a lot of my writing seminars. She and I both know she can learn from me because we’ve both seen her do it.

I’ve only just met my other student (and so far, only via email), but she’s clear on what she needs to learn, and judging from her emails, she has a capacity to learn it from the way I teach. So again, we’re both satisfied it’s the way to go.

That sense of being satisfied is all-important.

We live in an age of scams. There are hundreds of organizations (ahem, cough, subsidy publishers) and individuals out there who are more than willing to take your money and not feel bad in the slightest that you don’t get what you pay for.

I’m not one of them.

The thing is, I won’t mentor a writer formally and take his or her money unless I’m relatively sure s/he can learn what I’m trying to teach and in the way I have to teach it.

So I wrote the young woman a carefully crafted email trying to draw her out. Before I’ll agree to mentor her, I need to know who she is as a writer.

So in my email to the prospective student, I advised her to take her time and tell me all about herself as a writer. And to be bluntly honest because there really are no wrong answers.

I also asked more specific things like the following:

How long have you been writing? How often do you write? And when do you write? Every day, once a week, when?

How did you do in school? What learning abilities and disabilities do you have? Do you read a lot of fiction? What genres?

In what country or what region of the US do you live? (She uses Brit spellings.)

Do you tell people (friends, relatives, colleagues, clients) stories orally? If so, do the stories come out more clearly than when you’re writing them down? (If so, maybe you’re one who can dictate your stories.)

Do you outline or mind-map your stories before you write? (Be honest. Every writer is different, and again, there are no wrong answers.)

Tell me what frustrates you about writing (if anything). Be specific.

I hope she’ll answer all of those things and more under the general “tell me about yoursel” question.

Not to protect me, but so I can understand her perspective. So I can be relatively sure a formal mentoring relationship won’t be a waste of my time and her money.

If writing stories is important to her (and it is), then it’s equally important that she learns to do it well and from someone who can teach in the way she needs to learn.

Rolled out very early this morning at 1 a.m. But I was wide awake, so I made coffee, came to the Hovel, etc.

By the time I wrote the email I mentioned above and the things I wrote above, it was 5 a.m. A break, then to the novel to begin cycling at 6:30.

A break around 8 to see my wife off, then another at 10:30 with cycling finished and a little over 2200 new words written.

My high-action scene is over, so things will slow down a little bit now for a day or two. (grin)

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Challenges Both Started” at

See the comments on “Smell Your Story” at

See “Free Fiction Monday: Mr. Alibi” at

See “First Page Critique: Unearthed” at

Fiction Words: 2220
Nonfiction Words: 1220 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 3440

Writing of Blackwell Ops 6: Charlie Task (novel)

Day 1…… 2774 words. Total words to date…… 2774
Day 2…… 1776 words. Total words to date…… 4550
Day 3…… 4190 words. Total words to date…… 8740
Day 4…… 2662 words. Total words to date…… 11402
Day 5…… 2087 words. Total words to date…… 13489
Day 6…… 2220 words. Total words to date…… 15709

Total fiction words for the month……… 25747
Total fiction words for the year………… 243548
Total nonfiction words for the month… 18610
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 95680
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 339228

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 5
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… X
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 42
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 7
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 193
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31