The Journal, Monday, December 31

Hey Folks,

Rolled out early this morning, excited to get started on covers.

I started the day by downloading several photos from Unsplash at I can’t recommend them highly enough. Great royalty-free stock photos and they’re free.

I redesigned the cover for Nick 4 (Consequences), which will release on January 15. Then I designed the cover for Situation Solved, which will release on February 15. Later today, I hope to design a cover for Blackwell Ops. It will be with my first reader as soon as I find one. (grin)

I haven’t decided yet whether to release Blackwell Ops on March 1 or March 15. Given my upcoming novel-writing challenge, I might release it earlier rather than later to make room for earlier releases of the ones I’ve yet to write.

We aren’t planning any special festivities around our house tonight. Yes, a new year begins tomorrow. But a new year begins with every sunrise, doesn’t it? (grin)

As promised, the year in review….

First, the maybe boring stuff:

In 2018, I managed 11 novels, 3 novellas, and 11 short stories. That was wrapped up in 537,762 words of fiction, give or take a few that fell away unreported.

I also managed 191,726 words of nonfiction for a total of 729,238 total words on the year. I’m a happy lad. (grin)

On top of that, I started or revised a few new programs for other writers:

▪ A free, honest critique of the first page of your story (up to 500 words — email me at

▪ A free sample edit if you’re considering hiring me as your copyeditor (see

▪ A constantly growing list of writer resources (see

A little history of the journey so far….

But before I write anything else, Thank You all for following along on this journey for the past year. Many of you have been with me since the beginning, back in April 2014 when I started writing a short story every week. That streak lasted for 70 weeks, and I learned a great deal more than I thought was possible.

Then in October 2014 I started writing my first novel. Leaving Amarillo was based on a short story I wrote during the streak, one titled “Adobe Walls.” And it turned into a trilogy. Leaving Amarillo continued in Longing for Mexico and then South to Mexico.

Then, of course, the characters tugged on my sleeve and said “What about the early days?”

And along came three prequels: Rise of a Warrior; Comanche Fire; and Wes Crowley, Texas Ranger. And then four sequels to the original trilogy: The Marshal of Agua Perlado, The Battle of Tres Caballos, The Scent of Acacias and The Right Cut.

So from one event (the climax) in that one short story, I wrote a series that spanned 415,000 words and some 50 or 60 years in the life of Wes Crowley.

After The Right Cut, though I longed to write more in that world, I knew the story was finally finished.

Along the way to The Right Cut (a journey of a year and eight months), I also wrote 6 other novels in three genres, 79 short stories and a novella.

During that time, I also managed to write another nonfiction book (Writing the Character-Driven Story) and compiled 13 collections of short stories. Plus two blogs, posting weekly on one and (almost) daily on the other. And I haven’t looked back.

As our favorite mentor, Dean Wesley Smith says, keep moving forward.

Yesterday, I finished my 11th novel on the year (a personal record) and my 37th novel overall. In four years and two months. And frankly, I still feel a little like a slacker. (grin)

Tomorrow, I’ll begin my 38th novel. My goal is for that one to be the first of ten novels I’ll write in the first 100 days of 2019. We’ll see how that goes.

I have a vague idea that I might revisit Nick and Marie in their pre-World War I world. Maybe with some time travel to move them to a new setting.

I might also revisit the contemporary world of Blackwell Ops and/or a contemporary detective or PI world. Or the magic-realism future-kingdom world stemming from the origin novel Keeper of the Promise. Or the future-Earth SF world of The Consensus. I’m not hurting for ideas. (grin)

But what I write isn’t important. At all. What’s important (to me) is THAT I write.

And most importantly, I won’t allow the process to exhaust me. I’ll keep it fun. If it becomes “work,” I’ll call it a win, take a day off to reset my attitude, and move forward. If I encounter a life roll, I’ll reset the goal and start again when the life roll passes. (shrug)

Of course, I’ll post the journey here. I hope you’ll follow along, and I hope it will spur you onward on your own journey. Because that’s what really matters.

Now I’m gonna head up to the house for breakfast. (grin)

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Novel and Short Story Challenge Again” at An excellent opportunity. And Dean’s older than I am, folks. This won’t keep coming around indefinitely.

See “Party tricks and naked writing: the eccentric life of Victor Hugo” at

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 840 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 840

Writing of (novel)

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 79079
Total fiction words for the year………… 537762
Total nonfiction words for the month… 20040
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 191726
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 729238

Calendar Year 2018 Novels to Date………………………… 11
Calenday Year 2018 Novellas to Date…………………… 3
Calendar Year 2018 Short Stories to Date……… 11
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 37
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 7
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………… 193
Short story collections…………………………………………………… 31