The Journal, Thursday, November 15

Hey Folks,

My new all-time favorite quote:

“The faster I write, the better my output. If I’m going slow, I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.” ~ Raymond Chandler

Hey, even if you don’t believe me or Dean, you have to believe Raymond Chandler, don’t you?

The above is not because Raymond Chandler was an experienced fictionist who knew all the “tricks.” (There are none.)

It’s because he learned to trust his subconscious and allow the characters to tell the story. After all, they’re the ones who are living it. (grin)

To write a fiction (short story, novella or novel) put your fingers on the keyboard and write the first sentence that comes to you. Then write the next sentence, then the next, etc. Repeat until your character(s) lead you through to the end. It really is that simple.

And another quote I had to share, this one from my first reader (for the Nick Spalding series) when I sent her Consequences less than a half-hour after typing the last word:

“The best donuts are still dripping glaze….” ~ Nan Dozier

And yet another favorite quote:

“There are 4 kinds of homicide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy.” ~ Ambrose Bierce (I must add, I agree wholeheartedly.)

I announced to my bride this morning that I would spend part of the day prepping Nick 4 for pre-publication release on January 15. In other words, I would prepare the cover and promo doc, then upload it to D2D, Amazon, and Smashwords. Then I would take the rest of the day off.

She reminded me that she’s off this afternoon. So that was a good fit. Back to writing tomorrow.

Topic: The Most Important Advice I Can Give You About Writing (Seriously)

Yesterday I published my 35th novel and the fourth in a series. I also have 2 books in another series (SF), 10 in another (Wes Crowley Western), and 9 in another (Pulp). And then there are all the stand-alones and novellas.

I also am closing in on 200 short stories, many of which are included in 31 collections. So below is what I can share with you about writing.

First, a disclaimer: Many folks write only to cross an item off their bucket list or to leave a family record or simply as a hobby. All of that’s fine. But the advice that follows is not for you.

If you think of yourself as an aspiring professional writer (or as a professional writer), please read on. I’ll present my advice in a moment.

But first, one more disclaimer: Whether or not you call yourself a professional writer, if writing isn’t absolutely the most fun you can have with your clothes on, don’t do it. Seriously. Life is short. If writing is tedious for you, go find something fun to do. Again, what follows is not for you.

Okay, if you’re still reading, here’s the rest:

1. Follow Heinlein’s Rules 1 – 4 and then write the next story. (To see my personal experience with Heinlein’s Rules, download them here.)

2. Don’t hover over one work (rewrite). If you do, at some point you will experience a sinking feeling in your gut. That’s because you’re stripping your original voice and anything else that’s good off of it.

3. Instead of hovering, practice. Practice will never make “perfect” (nor will rewriting) but it will make you a better storyteller. Rewriting won’t. Writers write.

4. Never stop learning from people who’ve been there. (Don’t listen to advice from people who aren’t farther along the road than you are.) What your conscious mind takes in will seep into your subconscious and come out through your fingers as you write.

5. Don’t be a control freak. You are not the General Manager of the Universe. Let the characters tell the story. They’re living it, after all. Instead of directing them from your Authorial Ivory Tower, roll off into the story and run through it with them. I promise, you’ll enjoy the trip.

6. Find a good READER to be your first reader, preferably one who is interested in your work. His/her only job will be to note (and report to you) typos, misspellings that your spell check misses, and inconsistencies. At no time should your first reader tell you how you “should” have written something.

7. If you don’t know punctuation and pacing (especially these two), get thee to a good, conscientious copyeditor. His/her job will be to extend the reach of (or replace) your first reader. If the copyeditor you find does not provide a free sample edit, or if s/he charges more than two cents per word, email me.

8. Create and maintain a professional website. Most often, the “free” ones look shabby, and they’ll nickel and dime you to death with “extras.” A professional website is an investment, and a good one.

9. Create (or commission) a good, attention-grabbing cover that’s appropriate for the genre. You CAN judge a book by its cover, and readers do so every minute of every day.

10. Force yourself to take the time to follow Heinlein’s Rule 4: Submit or publish your work. This is the one I most often fall off of, and I always regret it. Readers can’t buy it if it isn’t available.

11. When it’s time to publish, go traditional if you must (be wary of the contract), or go indie. But stay the hell away from subsidy publishers. Every one of them is a scam. They exist only to separate you from your money. (If your first thought begins with “But,” read this one again.)

12. Publish wide. Avoid exclusivity. Most of my sales come from Amazon. But I also receive a nice check every month from Biblioteca (libraries), Kobo and Barnes & Noble. The others will come, but they can’t if the books aren’t available to wide segments of readers.

Okay, that’s all I can think of for now. Enjoy!

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Announcing Custom Carousels – A new away to customize your D2D Author Pages!” at

Some great comments on “A Question I Got” at

See “Business Musings: Positive, Pleasing, and Optimistic” at

In keeping with the season, see “Thanksgiving in Space” at

Via The Passive Voice, see “The Continued Decline of Author Solutions” at I can only repeat, PLEASE stay away from subsidy publishers. You don’t need them. They exist ONLY to separate you from your money.

See “Key Ways to Give a Mystery Room to Breathe” at As you read this, do so with a grain of salt. The “original” opening grabbed me. Ms. Dane’s rewrite does not.

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 1090 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1090

Writing of ()

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

Total fiction words for the month……… 46616
Total fiction words for the year………… 425146
Total nonfiction words for the month… 9160
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 160266
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 585162

Calendar Year 2018 Novels to Date………………………… 9
Calenday Year 2018 Novellas to Date…………………… 3
Calendar Year 2018 Short Stories to Date……… 11
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 35
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 7
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………… 193
Short story collections…………………………………………………… 31