The Daily Journal, Monday, February 4

Hey Folks,

In today’s Journal

▪ An opportunity for a free writing webinar
▪ Topic: Ramblings on a Minor Crisis
▪ The daily diary
▪ A LOT in Of Interest
▪ The numbers

According to the latest Reedsy newsletter, there’s a new live webinar this Wednesday (Bebruary 6) at 2 p.m. eastern time.

Ann Leslie Tuttle, who “spent over 20 years as an editor at Harlequin, the world’s leading publisher of romance,” will present “What Makes the Perfect Romance.” For more information or to register, visit Did I say it’s free?

Topic: Ramblings on a Minor Crisis

Yesterday I put out a call for first readers. I’ll repeat that call in the Pro Writer blog tomorrow morning. Mostly because it’s already pre-posted and I’m too lazy to take it down.

But to be honest, I’m not hopeful anyone will apply to first-read for me. And really, that’s fine. At the moment, I’m experiencing technical difficulties. Not my computer. Me.

As I wrote a very long time ago in the poem “Rejuvenation,”

It’s time to reconnect some frazzled ends,
unbend a few warped planes, demagnetize
a short in my long circuit. No robot,
I, but in dire need of maintenance. …

What I’m experiencing (shared publicly here for your edification) is a minor crisis of confidence brought on by the probability that I’m about to lose a long-time first reader.

I understand why, but naturally I don’t like it. So bear with me. Or skip ahead. I don’t mind.

A recent series of emails has me assessing my work, specifically, my novels. Here’s what I found:

Aside from detailed settings that subliminally pull the reader into the scene with the characters, all of my novels have two big things going for them:

The first is that they never contain seemingly rote repetition. Oh, there might be some repeated setting description (though not blatant) from one scene to another to re-ground the reader.

But for example, readers will never see the same tense fight scene fought in exactly the same way or in which the character uses exactly the same techniques over and over ad nauseam, as if it’s copied from one scene or book and pasted into another.

That sort of thing bores me to tears. In one bestselling author’s novels, I’ve taken to actually skipping over some of his action scenes to get to the next situation in which the hero finds himself. That stuff’s new and interesting. But how he gets out of it? Not so much.

And honestly, if that sort of repetition is what it takes to become a bestselling author, I’ll have to continue in poverty. I can’t bring myself to write that sort of thing.

When I encounter that as a reader, I feel cheated. And if I wrote it, I would feel I was cheating both myself and the reader. So that just isn’t going to happen.

The second and more important aspect is that, especially from a psychological and emotional standpoint, the main characters in my novels (like the main characters who make a difference, good or bad, in our lives) are never bland.

Readers most often either like or dislike my characters strongly. That’s because my characters tweak the readers’ emotions, even to the point that their heart rate will actually increase.

But I don’t see that as a bad thing. I actively WANT the reader to experience the sensations of fear, joy, elation, trepidation, love, lust, hatred and so on right along with the character.

Or as I wrote to a friend recently, I like to dance on the reader’s raw, frayed emotions. (grin)

Regardless of the genre, I personally enjoy reading on the edge of my seat, unsure what will happen next and grateful to be along for the ride.

So I will never write a story in which the protagonist is a stereo-typical hero or heroine, a flawless Dudley Do-Right. And I will never write a novel in which the “villain” twists his handlebar moustache, ties a virginal young maiden to a railroad track, and has absolutely no redeeming traits. (Yawn.)

So when I hear that my writing is too believable, that the psychological and emotional experiences are too realistic, that only encourages me.

If my writing is so believable that it forces a critic to stop reading a poem I wrote to have a glass of brandy, I see that as a Good Thing. (The poem was from the POV of a squirrel who’s about to be run over by a car tire.)

And if it’s so believable that it forces a reader to put my novel down and “rest” from the intensity of it for a day or two, I take that as a high compliment.

If that was their reaction because they were bored, that would be a stringent wake-up call for me. But because the writing is too believable? In my book, that’s a total score.

News like this will never affect the way I write. I can’t allow it to. Frankly, I’d rather give up writing altogether and find something else to do.

But I won’t do that either. Maybe instead I’ll give up searching for first readers.

After all, writing the stories and being entertained by them is what matters. So maybe I should keep that focus (and the challenge) in mind and just write the next novel.

Rolled out at 2:30 and made my way to the Hovel.

I wrote the stuff above. (It took awhile.)

Later today maybe I’ll snap out of my funk and write some fiction. For me. Then again, maybe I’ll go ahead and write off this last “bank” day (self-sabotage, anyone?). That’ll make the challenge just a little more difficult, hence more of a challenge. (grin)

To the house to change clothes and grab some breakfast at 6:40.

Back to the Hovel at 7 to do a little more computer and document set-up, back to the house at 8:15 to see my bride, then back to the Hovel again at 8:30.

Out for a walk at 10:30, and back to the Hovel at 11.

This is the end of the diary entry. If I write any fiction today (my last “bank” day), the numbers will be below.

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “How I Will Do 100 Paperbacks?” at No lack of confidence in that man. (grin)

See “Going In: The Fatal Funnel” at

See “First Page Critique: Death in London” at

See “Editing – Proof Listening With Word’s Read Aloud Feature” at Hmmm. This might be a viable alternative to either using a first reader or to reading my work aloud myself.

Note: The above is for Word 365. If you use Microsoft Word but a different version than 365 (I use 2010), see “Letting Word Read Your Manuscript” at It works!

See “2019 Goals Recap — Week #5” at

Coincidentally, see “You must put your story on the market” at

See “Free Fiction Monday: Without End” at I don’t mention Kris’ fiction because I’m a fan (though I am). I mention it because you can learn a ton about writing by studying her work.

Fiction Words: 1699
Nonfiction Words: 1210 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2909

Writing of Blackwell Ops 3: Marie Arceneaux (novel)

Day 1…… 1699 words. Total words to date…… 1699

Total fiction words for the month……… 4821
Total fiction words for the year………… 88224
Total nonfiction words for the month… 4430
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 29840
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 118064

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date………………………… 2
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date…………………… X
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date……… X
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 39
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 7
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………… 193
Short story collections…………………………………………………… 31

6 thoughts on “The Daily Journal, Monday, February 4”

  1. Hey Harvey,
    Great job kicking your critical self in the ass and writing 1700 fiction words today. From your post, I don’t see what’s got you down. All the stuff you wrote above is positive about your writing style. As someone who has a difficult time writing when I’m down or depressed, I understand your funk. As someone who listens to you tell me to just sit down and write the next sentence, those 1700 words are proof that people can do it. You got this!

  2. Harvey,

    Sorry to hear about the potential loss of your first-reader. If I even had a minute to spare, I’d hop at the chance to jump in. But between the writing, day job, and family, it’s just not in the cards.

    None of which matters to you, other than to say I hope you get someone ASAP that can fill the role. Surely there’s got to be a way to find someone through Goodreads or Librarything? Those places are teeming with voracious readers of all genres.

    • Thanks, Phillip. You already do far more than enough, my friend. I was just in a mood because I hadn’t started a new novel yet. (grin)

  3. Hi Harvey,

    you’re welcome to talk about your doubts.
    In my humble opinion your feedback about the stories being too belivable is a great one, too.
    Enjoy yourself, write the next story in your challenge and entertain yourself.

    Best wishes,

Comments are closed.