Topics for Discussion, and Bradbury Challenge

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Back to the Future
* Topics for Discussion?
* Bradbury Challenge
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.” Anton Chekhov

“A cyberattack on US hospitals and clinics disrupts their computer systems and emergency services, forcing them to use paper records and human intervention.” teaser for an article in Interesting Engineering (see “Of Interest”)

“Paper records and human intervention?” Wow. If one rude boot kicks the plug out of the wall,  whatever will we do?

Back to the Future

As you can see, I decided to go back to posting the Journal in the morning. Old habits and all that. Plus once it’s gone, I won’t be tempted to mess with it all day. So starting today, my nonfiction numbers will be current but I’ll report my fiction numbers one day late.

This is more timely too for me to get links out to you in “Of Interest.” Time-sensitive ones don’t pop up very often, but when they do I like to post them as early as possible.

Plus by the end of the day I’m too tired to much care whether I post an edition of the Journal. So I’ll knock that out first thing and then get on with the writing. Like I did successfully for so many years. Duh.

Topics for Discussion?

Just a reminder, if any of you have any particular topics you would like me to discuss in the Journal, email me at and let me know. Or if you have questions to ask, knock yourself out. Often when I receive a question it turns into a Journal topic. Of course, I won’t use your name unless you specify that you want me to.

Yesterday a writer who just finished her first book (congrats!) said her editor suggested she print some ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) and sent them out to advanced readers. She asked my advice.

A few things—

An advanced reader is not the same thing as a first reader. For me, my first reader replaces what a copyeditor would do. He catches any wrong words, typos, and inconsistencies that pop out at him as he reads. And unlike a “beta reader” (always a bad idea), he never critiques or offers an opinion on how he would have written the story.

If you have a good copyeditor (punctuation, pacing, and other mechanics) you shouldn’t need a first reader. If you’re well versed in grammar, punctuation and syntax (basically, if you have a feel for the nuances of the language), you can get by with a first reader instead of a copyeditor.

ARCs—Back in the old days of traditional publishing, publishers sent out ARCs to select readers to garner advanced reviews. Those would not be first readers, just advanced readers, meaning they would read the book for the purpose of writing a review of it before the official publication or release date. The release date often coincided with book launches and all that.

But putting the thought in your mind that when you finish your novel it will go to advanced readers for reviews might make the novel “important” to you, and if it does, it will stop you cold.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s perfectly all right if you want to print ARCs, set up release dates and launch parties, and all that. I know one writer who wrote a novel, had a launch party both physically and online, and then stopped writing (intentionally!) for two years while she promoted that novel. Then she wrote her second novel and did the same thing.

I don’t know whether she ever wrote a third, but I suspect she didn’t. I suspect she watched sales, saw that she wasn’t making a ton of money, and everything suddenly seemed like too much work for too little return, which of course it was.

Imagine how many more novels she could have written while her first novel was slowly being discovered by readers. And with more titles out there, she would have been more and more discoverable.

Personally, I don’t do ARCs. And IMHO, if releasing a book is special enough to warrant a launch party, you aren’t writing nearly as much as you should. If I held a launch party for every novel, in the first half of 2021 I’d have had to have a launch party every two weeks. I wouldn’t have time to write. And isn’t WRITING the point of being a writer?

I also don’t see stories of any length as important at all. They’re just what they are: stories. Each one will be special to some, enjoyed by many, and disliked by a few, and that’s fine. In fact, my stories are so UNimportant that I can remember only the vaguest details of any individual novel or short story I’ve written, and I don’t even remember that much about many of them.

Rather than worry about who likes or dislikes my work and why, I prefer to write the best story I can, publish it, then start the next one. If you do your best, what others think doesn’t matter.

I just enjoy looking in on my characters. When something they’re doing interests me, I write it to find out what happens. I’m the first human ever to see that story unfold. How exciting is that?

Bradbury Challenge

Most of those who have joined in this challenge have written tens of thousands more words than they might have otherwise. You can still join in the challenge at any time. And if you’re a fiction writer, why not?

During the past week, in addition to whatever other fiction they’re writing, the following writers reported their progress:

  • Erin Donoho “The Magic of Being” 3800 words YA
  • Balázs Jámbor “Fragments” 2500 words Sci Fi
  • George Kordonis “Cult of Youth” 4514 words Horror
  • Alexander Nakul “Royal ball and gazebo”1720 words Erotic Fantasy
  • Chynna Pace “Hidden Magic” 1664 words Fantasy
  • Christopher Ridge “I Wanna Cut Somebody for Christmas” 3100 words Horror
  • K.C. Riggs “Rain” 2728 words General Fiction

Congrats to all participants for hanging in there.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Writers, have you fired “Chekhov’s Gun”?” at Grain of salt. Read, absorb, but forget it while you’re writing.

See “Remember What It Was Like to Travel Pre-Smartphone?” at Maybe good for research, or just for nostalgia.

See “Cyberattack hits US hospitals…” at Story ideas abound.

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 1080

Writing of “Penthouse Bound”

Day 1…… 1485 words. Total words to date…… 1485

Writing of “Untitled Stern Talbot Mystery”

Day 1…… 190 words. Total words to date…… 190

Writing of Rose Padilla (WCG10SF5)

Day 1…… 4283 words. Total words to date…… 4283
Day 2…… 3963 words. Total words to date…… 8246
Day 3…… 1463 words. Total words to date…… 9709
Day 4…… 2445 words. Total words to date……12154

Total fiction words for August……… 9494
Total fiction words for 2023………… 124041
Total nonfiction words for August… 4650
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 154550
Total fiction words since August 1…… 9494
Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 278591

Calendar Year 2023 Novels to Date…………………… 2
Calendar Year 2023 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2023 Short Stories to Date………… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………… 73
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………… 221
Short story collections…………………………………………. 31

Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark, adherence to Heinlein’s Rules, and that following the myths of fiction writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.

2 thoughts on “Topics for Discussion, and Bradbury Challenge”

  1. Great advice as always! And much appreciated. I’m at the point where if something that isn’t absolutely necessary takes away from my writing time, I’m inclined to just skip it. 😄 The more I actually write my stories, the more productive I am and the better I feel.

Comments are closed.