The Journal: Requesting Your Recommendations

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Topic: Requesting Your Recommendations
* Today
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“Readers don’t buy books, they buy stories by voices that resonate with them. The more distinct your voice, the more likely your signal stands out from the rest of the noise.” Russell Blake

“We all think we live in an exceptional time, and this is the big show, and all else was preamble. Wrong. This is only our show, and we are tomorrow’s preamble, so lighten up and have fun with whatever you’re doing, and if nothing else, try to be nice, unless you’re a dick, in which case be honest about it.” Russell Blake

“I’ve made the decision to take it easy this year [and write only 4-5 novels], recharge my batteries, and only write when I want, so it’s not like it’s a job. Part of the problem in turning what you love into a job is you can lose the passion for it.” Russell Blake

Topic: Requesting Your Recommendations

Every now and then over the years, I ask for your recommendations for websites. Most often I hear crickets.

I’m not sure whether there are no other websites that you visit, or whether you just don’t want to share. Or maybe I’m just not specific enough with my request.

I’ll try again.

Please recommend the websites of any authors who

1. have written and published 10 or more novels or 100 or more short stories (traditional or indie) and

2. who share their experience and/or wisdom in a blog, BUT

Please DO NOT recommend any websites of authors who

1. are not successful from at least a productivity standpoint and

2. in their “advice” to writers offer nothing but the same old tired myths. I won’t share and perpetuate the myths, and frankly I don’t really want to waste my time reading regurgitated nonsense.

That’s it. That’s what I need. And I need it so I can share it with all of you and with a wider audience on the Writers Resources page of my author website.

Recently, Alexander T, a friend in Russia, shared some good news with me: the completion of his second novel.

But he also shared the website of Russell Blake. Blake is comparable to DWS, KKRusch, and me with his productivity. Five and one-half years into his journey as a novelist, he’d just finished his 51st novel.

He’s also a plotter, and says outlining first is more efficient. Hey, to each his own. Obviously it works for him, and I’m happy for him.

I personally can’t bring myself to outline only because I can’t imagine wanting to write a story when I already know the story. For me, that’s boring. But that’s me. If you can write an outline and then the story, more power to you, though I hope you’ll allow the outline to serve only as a guide.

But Blake has things of value to teach us all.

Finally, he’s also fantastically successful as a NY Times and USA Today bestselling novelist. (It doesn’t hurt that he writes Romance and Young Adult titles, in addition to other things. I’ll be ordering one of those other things today.)

You’ll see a link to a couple of his posts in “Of Interest” today. I encourage you to check out his website, especially at I admit, I spent the first few hours of the day today just exploring his website. Good stuff.

If you know of any writers who fit the first set of criteria above, please mention them in the comments on the website or email me. Share the wealth.

Occasionally, too, I stumble across the website of an author who is not so accomplished but still offers great advice. Such is the case with Adela Crandell Durkee, whom I featured in yesterday’s Journal.

Ms. Durkee is the exception that proves the rule. She is still mired in many of the myths, but she doesn’t preach them. And what she does preach (and how she preaches it) is pure gold if you’re paying attention.

Today will be a good day. I was about to turn to the novel at 7:30. Then I remembered I hadn’t yet applied my first readers’ input on Blackwell Ops 7.

So I did that. First readers are indispensible, folks. I usually have two (male and female) but I was blessed with four for this novel. In addition to covering each other with similar input re typos, each one pointed out things the others didn’t see. It took me only a half-hour to read and apply their suggestions.

Robert S showed a place where I needed to add a sensory description, which I solved by adding three words to an existing sentence.

Tony H offered only two comments, and one was a compliment that showed I was on the right track with the opening. The other was a structural issue (a mangled sentence) that I corrected with only a slight rewording.

Mike R pointed out a few things I corrected and a few I set aside as a matter of taste. And the last, Nan D, pointed out a few places where a character said something that was decidedly out of character. Again, I corrected it with only a few words.

Excellent input, and the story is a TON better for their relatively few recommended changes. My sincere thanks to you, Robert, Tony, Mike, and Nan. Now I can publish the thing. The first readers and my patrons will receive a copy of the finished novel in about an hour (as I type this).

Well, the actual publishing to Smashwords, Amazon, Draft2Digital and BundleRabbit took only about a half-hour. Then I remembered I needed to create a new book page on the publisher website, etc. Sigh. So I did that, visited Books2Read to verify the universal book link, etc. No wonder I sometimes put off publishing. (grin)

If you’re interested in the cover and/or book description (sales copy, remember?), see

I’d hoped to write a little more today but I had to settle for just over 2000 words, many of those added by my characters as I read through the almost 4000 I wrote yesterday. Where there were three chapters, there are now five.

This is a very exciting journey!

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “5 1/2 Years” at

In a nod to yesterday’s Journal topic, see also “Taking a Break” at

See “Think Like a Writer: TOC” at This might help, depending on how you’re wired.

See “Voicing a Revolution” at

See “A Bunch of Workshop Bundles” at

The Numbers

Fiction words today…………………… 2253
Nonfiction words today…………… 1110 (Journal)

Writing of Jonah Peach (tentative title)
Brought forward…… 4416 words

Day 1…… 1047 words. Total words to date…… 5463
Day 2…… 2254 words. Total words to date…… 7717
Day 3…… 1196 words. Total words to date…… 8913
Day 4…… 2972 words. Total words to date…… 11885
Day 5…… 1592 words. Total words to date…… 13477
Day 6…… 2705 words. Total words to date…… 16182
Day 7…… 1905 words. Total words to date…… 18087
Day 8…… 3818 words. Total words to date…… 21905
Day 9…… 2253 words. Total words to date…… 24159

Total fiction words for the month……… 21594
Total fiction words for the year………… 419159
Total nonfiction words for the month… 10290
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 313550
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 732709

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 10
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 44
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 197
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

6 thoughts on “The Journal: Requesting Your Recommendations”

  1. Hi Harvey! Thanks for posting about first readers. I just finished my first Writing Into the Dark novella and asked someone to proofread my story. I told this person I didn’t want a critique – I just want someone to read it for fun and flag any typos, missing words, misspellings, etc., She was sooo excited (at first!) but then 3 weeks went by and when I texted her to touch base she started making all kinds of excuses about not having the time and so. (Which might be true because this time of year is crazy busy for many people). Of course I turned this into an opportunity to beat myself up. Maybe my writing really does suck? And sucks so bad nobody wants to read it? I printed Dean’s words over my computer…Dare to be bad! Dare to suck! I know I need to just keep writing and learning…and refuse to give up. Just entertain myself and keep moving forward. Thanks for letting me vent!

    • You’re welcome, Maggie. One of the most important things about a first reader is that they have to know you trust them to tell you the truth. You might ask whether she started it and if so, what about it caused her to stop reading.

      You can catch most typos, misspellings and wrong word usages (waste for waist) with your contextual spell checker if you’re using Microsoft Word.

      Give me a quick sales pitch in one to three sentences. What’s your novella about? What genre is it? You can do it here in another comment or email me.

  2. Hi Harvey! Trying to write a succinct successful sales pitch is gonna take some practice…but here goes…

    Fourteen-year-old Lizzie Luna, closet pet psychic, finds talking to animals so much easier than communicating with the people in her life. Her divorced parents are dating other people and that’s embarrassing enough without cute Vincent Metzger making her go all tongue-tied whenever he’s around.

    I’d appreciate the feedback, Harvey. From my short blurb can you tell the genre is teen romance? But also paranormal, too, because the heroine is a pet psychic.

    Thank you!

    • I like it. The length of the sentences is my only big concern. Maybe shorten things and shift things around a bit. And don’t be afraid to use fragments, especially in blurbs or descriptions:

      “A closet pet psychic, 14 year old Lizzie Luna can talk to the animals. Literally. But communicating with the people in her life? Not so much. And she goes completely tongue-tied whenever that cute Vincent Metzger is around. What can she do?”

      1. The paranormal is up front. “Literally” (a fragment) emphasizes it.

      2. I omitted the bit about her parents. If you feel you need to keep it, I recommend something like “Her divorced parents are dating other people. That’s confusing enough. And embarrassing.” (I traded “embarrassing” for “confusing” to tie-in to the confusion she feels when she’s around Vincent, though I added “embarrassing” back in as a less-important aside, again as a fragment for emphasis).

      3. Then I traded “all” for “completely” to inject a sense of finality.

      4. Finally, I added a question to subliminally invite the reader to help her solve her quandary.

      But let’s open this up to other input. Anyone out there want to critique Maggie’s description or my alternative? All help is appreciated. (And note, we’re critiquing [being critical, critical mind] the description, not the story itself.

      Finally, I still recommend getting Dean’s little book on sales copy. It really is invaluable.

  3. Thank you sooo much, Harvey! Writing it in Lizzie’s voice sounds a hundred times better.

    And I just started rereading Dean’s sales book. It’s very helpful. 🙂

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