The Journal, Thursday, December 28

Hey Folks,

Well, those of you who’ve hung on through my madness will receive a double reward today, or at least that’s how this edition of the Journal is intended.

In preparation for my own return to writing fiction, I decided to take today (and maybe the next couple of days) to do two things:

First, I’m revisiting some of the lectures and workshops I’ve taken from Dean. After that, I’ll be prepping by setting goals and a schedule. More on that in coming days. My intention is to begin fresh on January 1.

Because I have a couple of short stories that I’ve already written but believe would make good novels, I decided this morning to listen to Dean’s “Short Story to Novel” lecture.

I’m listening not so much for “how-to” advice, but more for the philosophy of it. Sort of the “why-to.”

And without giving away any major secrets (the lecture is only $50 and very well worth it) here’s what I re-learned:

A short-story-to-novel development might be a good idea if

▪ you feel like the story needs to continue, that even though it wrapped, there was more to the story (this is how I felt as I finished the short story “Beats All”), or
▪ you feel you’d like to read or explore more of the story (this is how I felt as I finished the short story “Going Back” in June of 2015), and
▪ the idea of revisiting the story concept is intriguing to you. If the idea bores you, don’t do it.

Maybe in some way that will help you.

And now for the second half of the double reward. A day or two ago a friend asked my opinion on using pen names. What follows is my advice to her, excerpted and expanded:

Topic: The Use of Pen Names (or Not)

In the “old days” of traditional publishing, a lot of prolific authors used pen names, mostly because they were turning out a lot more work than the tradpubs could or would handle.

Maybe a writer was putting out several novels per year, but the publishers would buy and publish only one novel per year per author.

In that case, a pen name meant an extra income. Two pen names meant two extra incomes, and so on. For that reason, many prolific authors used dozens of pen names.

So with that as a backdrop, when I started writing fiction, I thought it would be cool to have a different pen name for each major genre.

So my more “literary” fiction, the Hemingway-like stuff, was written by Nicolas Z “Nick” Porter. My magic realism was written by Gervasio Arrancado. The crazy, edgy, horror stuff was written by Eric Stringer, and the science fiction was written by Ray Sevareid.

(These are actually more than pen names. They’re personas. You can still read their bios at And I wrote under several more pen names.

Then I realized we’re in a new publishing world today. The writer has to build a name, a reputation. If you use several different pen names, you dilute and fragment that.

Of course, you could just make sure readers know the pen name is also you, but then why have a pen name at all?

This matters so much that I went back and rebranded all of the novels by Nick Porter and Ray Sevareid under my own name. I left Confessions of a Professional Psychopath with Eric Stringer. Frankly, I was afraid to take it away from him. (grin)

In today’s world, pen names aren’t necessary unless you have a valid (to you) reason to conceal your identity.

For an extreme example, say you’re a Sunday school teacher or youth minister for your church. You can probably get away with writing in most genres—SF, action adventure, crime, etc—under your real name. Maybe even romance.

But if you bend your hand to writing steamy erotica, you might want to use a pen name for that.

Otherwise, they aren’t necessary.

Note: Dean does offer a lecture on pen names. It costs $50. I haven’t bought it because I assume he’ll spend a lot of time saying what he says publicly in his blog posts, that pen names by and large are not necessary.

If you’re interested, visit and scroll down to “Pen Names: How and When To Write Under a Pen Name.” That will get you the description.

Back soon.

Of Interest

I didn’t read Dean’s post today until after I’d written the stuff above this. Talk about timely! See “Getting Ready for 2018” at And especially the segment on “How to Set Fiction Writing Goals in 2018.” Really great stuff.

Breaking: See “” at

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 750 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 750

Writing of “”

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

Total fiction words for the month……… XXXX
Total fiction words for the year………… 453762
Total nonfiction words for the month… 6180
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 181733
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 635495

Calendar Year 2017 Novels to Date………………………… 9
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 27
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182