The Journal: An Epiphany

In today’s Journal

* An Epiphany
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

An Ephiphany

In an effort to help with your writing career, I’ve always tried to be up front and honest with you guys with both my blunders as well as my achievements. Boy do I have a doozie for you today.

You know how I’m always saying Take Your Time with your writing? Bear with me here.

Sixty-some novels into my fiction writing career as I wrote the final chapter of the Wes Crowley saga, I decided to see whether there was room for more Wes Crowley novels in the series.

To that end, I started reading through the series. Books 1 (The Rise of a Warrior) and 2 (Comanche Fire) are great stories (my opinion, I know, but check them out for yourself). So I expected the same when I started reading Book 3 (Wes Crowley, Texas Ranger).

Uhh, not so much. As I read through it, I was almost embarrassed by it. But that wasn’t right. After all, it was the seventh novel I’d written. It should be at least AS well written as the novels that preceded it.

But Book 3 reads erratically at best. Reading as a writer, it’s not good. Okay, so then I needed to figure out why.

There was only one answer: It sucked because as I was trying to span the chronological time-distance from Book 2 (Comanche Fire) to Book 4 (Leaving Amarillo), I allowed my conscious mind to intervene. Ugh.

Of course, I would never do that now. I’d get up and walk away first. But as I said, it was only the 7th novel I’d written. And I allowed myself to get in too big a hurry. (This is not an excuse; it’s an effort at explanation.)

Here’s what happened: In Book 4, which was the first novel I’d ever written, my two main characters, Wes and Mac, were already corporals in the Texas Rangers. And in that book as the saga opened, they’d been in the Rangers for about 16 years.

Then ol’ Wes tugged on my sleeve and said, “Why don’t you tell folks about our early years?” So I wrote a three-book sequel.

This is where Take Your Time comes in, something I set aside when I wrote the third prequel to Leaving Amarillo. For some stupid reason (probably because the original series was only three books), I got hasty. I tried to write those early years in only 3 more books. Had I taken my time and worked my way through those 16 years with short stories, novellas and novels, the Crowley series might well be over 20 books instead of only 12.

In my haste to bridge the gap between Book 2 and Book 4, I opened Book 3 with Wes and Mac being corporals and then employed flashbacks to a couple of fairly major events that had happened during that 16-year gap.

But now, I know better. Now I know to take my time. And as a happy coincidence, now I also am looking for more stories to tell about Wes, Mac and the others. And I can do that, but first I have to clear the clog in the pipes.

So first comes some actual work. For the first time since I started following Heinlein’s Rules, I’m going to break Heinlein’s Rule 3. I’m going to rewrite Book 3. It’s all right. Even Heinlein said he occasionally broke his own rules.

The new story will open about 6 months (instead of 16 YEARS) after Book 2 ends. I say I’m rewriting because I will use much of what’s in the current version of Book 3. I’m not going to throw it out and start over (recast). (Really, I’m just cutting, cycling, and writing new stuff.)

Once that work is done—and once I’ve taken down the old Book 3 and published the new Book 3—I’ll move ahead through that 16-year gap with more stories and novels.

And when I finally reach the last book of that “gap” series, it will tie-in naturally to the current Book 4, Leaving Amarillo.

Instead of going through and renumbering the entire series, I’ll probably call the new books, collectively, a “gap” series. The series will be titled Wes Crowley, the Missing Years or something like that.

When I’m through rewriting Book 3, I’ll send it to my first readers, then publish it and start the all-new “gap” series books. Folks, if you couldn’t tell, I am STOKED! (grin)

I started the rewrite yesterday and will continue until it’s finished. I don’t expect it to take more than a few days.

And a well-earned Thank You to my chicky-chicky wife, Mona Stanbrough (who prefers to remain anonymous) who puts up with my whining and helped me talk through to the epiphany. Thanks, dollface. (grin)

Update: I got through the old Book 3 and identified what I could keep and what I needed to cut (the stuff that happened 16 years later). I cut 11,087 words from the original Book 3. No doubt some of what I cut will end up in the final book in the gap series.

Below, under The Numbers, I’ll display my progress on the revision. Notice I brought forward 31,122 words, so as it stands it’s already a short novel. I have only to cycle through it and then write whatever new will lead to the next book (the first book in the gap series). Once the cycling is finished, this is gonna be fun!

I wish all of you this much fun with your writing. But, you know, without the work of rewriting. Oh, and the post(s) including the topic on Characterization is coming.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Maximize Virtual Event ROI” (free book in exchange for a subscription) at They wanted my phone number. That was TMI, and for me personally virtual events are not that important, so I didn’t download this, but it sounds like it might be a good opportunity for some.

See “Copyright Tips and Traps … Don’t Trust Your Intuition!” at Good article. But buy a copy of the NOLO Press Copyright Handbook.

See “What Does Your Vacation Smell Like?” at Interesting take on the sense of smell (for your POV character).

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 1010 words

Writing of Wes Crowley, Texas Ranger (novel rewrite)
Words brought forward………………………………………… 31,122

Day 1…… 0773 words. Total words to date…… 31895

Total fiction words for May……… 72669
Total fiction words for the year………… 443948
Total nonfiction words for May… 19640
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 104500
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 548448

Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… 9
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 3
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 62
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.