Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 3, Day 8

Year 2, Month 3, Day 8 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day off of writing the novel The Edwards Mansion: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I said last night I expected to have a large day writing today. Boy, you have to know that if I put that out there, the universe is going to laugh and just say, “Oh, no you won’t.”

So not going to go into all the stuff that happened today, but it wiped me out completely.

By the time I got home from all the stuff, about all I could do was go watch some television.

I finally made it into this office to do e-mail for the first time all day around 2 a.m.. Then I looked at my writing chair and actually laughed. I have about three brain cells working. So I decided to do some stuff that required little brains.

So I finally did all the busy work to get the new lecture listed on all three web sites and all three sidebars and such.

New lecture is the result of trying to do an updated blog on Paying the Price, but realizing it was too harsh to put here. So I said that and some fine people said I should make it into a lecture. So with the idea that I would talk about paying the price and give help on how to get through some of the prices, I recorded the lecture last week. I think it’s a good one.

The lecture is focused at writers who are interested in being around in ten or more years, still writing. It concerns friends, family, jobs, money, education, and a bunch more. Under the lecture tab above.

So no writing today but this blog. And even this isn’t coming quickly like normal. Wow. (Anyone seen my brain?)

For my topic of the night, Kris suggested I talk about the knife in NCIS and the writing it took to make that work in so many ways. Maybe tomorrow when I have a brain. It was pretty cool.

So tonight the Topic of the Night is simple: Attitude.

In the old days, I would have been angry at the world for taking my writing day. I would have been angry at the fine people around me, at the events out of my control, at everything, because I woke up with a plan to write today and jump that novel forward.

And I stated that. But alas, it was not to be due to things beyond my control.

As a long-term writer, I know how this works. If I had had a regular corporate job, I would have gone to the job and got my hours in and dealt with all the stuff afterwards. But because I have the freedom to not have to do that, my writing once again got a short shift.

But that’s normal for writers. That’s part of being freelance. Sometimes life events just crowd in and kill the best made plans.

And I learned a bunch of years back that anger does no good. It only ruins more days and makes one lost day a whole bunch of lost days.

Strangely enough, I would not have even noticed this if the last two weeks hadn’t been so tough to get through.

So I’m not even angry. I’m tired and wiped out, but not angry.

Tomorrow I will have a blast because I am buying a huge book collection. It’s going to take two moving trucks to move it. It’s nifty and amazing and going to be great fun to deal with.

Then tomorrow night, after dinner, I’m planning once again on getting a jump at the writing of the new novel.

Hear that, universe? I’m not angry, I’m just saying, “Come and get my writing time again. I dare you.”

How’s that for attitude? (grin)

(Remember, Paying the Price lecture is now available, and the November online workshops are taking sign-ups.)

——–

Totals For Year 2, Month 3, Day 8

– Daily Fiction: 00 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 8,450 words  

– Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 00 words

– Blog Posts: 650 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 6,700 words

– E-mail: 12 e-mails. Approx. 1,100 original words. E-mails month-to date: 228 e-mails. Approx. 5,800 words

– Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 0 Covers

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

Continue reading

Posted in Challenge, On Writing, publishing, Writing in Public | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Mid-Month Reminder of November Online Workshops

Middle of the month heads-up for online workshop sign-up. All workshops are limited to 12 writers including the new workshop, Making a Living with your Fiction Writing.

Each workshop is six weeks long and takes about 3-4 hours per week to do. I have bolded the newer workshops that have started this year.

More information and how to sign up for a workshop is under the green button or under Coast Workshops tab above.

December workshops schedule under the tab. January, February, and March workshops will be posted soon.

All workshops have openings at the moment.

Class #31… Nov 3rd … Depth in Writing
Class #32… Nov 3rd … Making a Living
Class #33… Nov 3rd … Character Voice/Setting
Class #34… Nov 4th … Designing Book Covers
Class #35… Nov 4th … Designing Book Interiors
Class #36… Nov 4th … How to Write Science Fiction
Class #37… Nov 5th … Promotion for Writers
Class #38… Nov 5th … Ideas
Class #39… Nov 5th … Plot Your Novel
Class #40… Nov 5th … Productivity

NEW WORKSHOP STARTING IN NOVEMBER!

Class #32… Making a Living with Your Fiction

You always dreamed about making a living with your fiction. Now learn how to do it without having a bestseller and how to keep the income coming in for years and years.

Kris and I put this business workshop together. We both made a living for over two decades in traditional publishing, now we are making even more money as indie writers. We know both sides. And in six weeks, we’ll help you get there as well. Only 12 spots available.

ALL WORKSHOPS START ON MONDAY, TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY.

New Lecture:

Paying the Price: A Working Writer’s Mindset

If you desire to make a living with your fiction, you must pay some prices to reach that goal. All long-term authors have paid many prices in one form or another.

In this lecture, Dean Wesley Smith talks about the different prices writers pay and how to deal with them. 10 videos of help navigating the world of freelance fiction writing.

Twenty-three lectures now available. Many more lectures coming very soon.

Posted in On Writing, publishing, workshops | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 3, Day 7

Year 2, Month 3, Day 7 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day nine of writing the novel The Edwards Mansion: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

For nine days now, this novel is going slow because I am just not giving it time. Wow, amazing how that happens.

But tomorrow, finally, this wild and crazy two-week period comes to an end. On Thursday I have a huge book collection to buy, but that’s in the afternoon and I have movers to move it, so that shouldn’t bother my writing either.

So yeah! Almost there.

Last day to sign up for the October workshops.

Tomorrow evening I’ll have announced the new lecture Paying the Price. I am pretty happy with how it turned out.

So I got a full night’s sleep for the first time in two weeks, rolled out around 2 p.m. and managed to get a bunch done, get to the snail mail, and then to the WMG offices around 3 p.m. Then I went out to the shop (which is on the south end of town across from North by Northwest bookstore) and had fun there until about 5:15. p.m.

Then back to WMG where I talked with another professional writer who had stopped by for an hour before heading home. Kris and I did some planning on the coming Advanced Master Class and other business stuff and finally ate dinner around 8:30 p.m.

By 9:30 I was back at WMG offices working on workshop stuff. I finally finished it all about the time Kris was done walking at 11:30 and we headed home to watch The Voice.

I managed to get in here by 2:30 a.m. and sent out the very last of the workshop assignments and finished up a few things before moving to the writing computer around 3:15 a.m. I managed just 1,100 words in one session that ended a little after 4 a.m.

Just can’t get much done if I only give writing the novel an hour, but at least it is something. Ramping up tomorrow.

Topic for the Night: Survival as a reward.

This was triggered by something Pharrell said to one of the singers in a snippet from what’s coming next week on The Voice. The singer was having trouble with something and he asked why and she said it was because so many people had told her she couldn’t sing, couldn’t succeed.

Pharrell told her bluntly that she was standing here now, and then he said, “Where are those people now?”

Exactly.

I talk about this in different ways in the Paying the Price lecture I will announce tomorrow. All along the path toward being a full-time fiction writer, you will have family and friends who try to hold you back in some way or another. Some do it purposefully, or with good intentions, but mostly the reason is that the friend (or other writer) can’t handle your success.

Kris and I have always had people who talk bad about us because we tend to be out front, trying new things, stirring up things. Sometimes, early on, those comments and losses of friendships hurt. But as time went on, I know I just sort of adopted the attitude that the problem wasn’t mine.

I came to believe that a friend doesn’t act that way. So they were not real friends.

A couple of my long-time friends have been there every step of my crazy career, often shaking their heads, but offering support when I needed it or asked. Kris has a few long-term friends like that as well. I feel very lucky to have those long-term friends.

My family was not supportive in any way. Most of that came because I was never around them much, and they flat didn’t understand. My job as a fiction writer was not a standard job. I’m sure some of the blame on that rift was me not explaining what I did clearly enough, even though I felt I tried.

What is interesting is that to some people who live and work around you, being an internationally selling fiction writer, making great money, is not a valid job. You will run into those people as well along the way if you become a full-time fiction writer. They think that being an accountant or a local attorney is far, far more valid as a job than a job in entertainment and will cut you down at ever turn. Their jobs are important, of that I have no doubt. I hire them. But only if they respect what I am doing as well.

And then there are the people around you who think you aren’t working in your writing time, so you can help them. Nasty to stop that sort of thing. And it never ends.

Over the years, I have had writer friends come and vanish. I have had writers come in, think they were hot, too hot to be around me, badmouth me, and then vanish, while I just kept on selling books and making a living.

For me, survival and success is the best “f**k you” to those who tried to pull me down along the way. Or, as Pharrell said so well tonight, “Where are those people now?”

Or as I call those people. “What ever happened to…?”

So if you have someone around you who is telling you that “you can’t do … (whatever),” then my suggestion is just sort of pull away and let them and their nasty words fade into the past. Don’t confront. Just keep doing what you are doing, believe in your own art and skill, and don’t give the negative person the voice to try to pull you down.

Then you can look back years later and wonder “What ever happened to…?”

That’s why I never, ever allow a writer in our coast workshops to badmouth another writer. That kind of negative energy is not allowed around me. This profession is tough enough as it is.

Now, time to get another full night’s sleep. Outside my open office window the Pacific Ocean surf is roaring so loudly I can barely hear my radio. Wisps of fog are floating across the full eclipse of the moon, and my white cat is now asleep on my writing chair.

Night.

——–

Writing of the novel The Edwards Mansion: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

Day 1…. 1,800 words. Total words to date…. 1,800 words
Day 2…. 3,200 words. Total words to date…. 5,000 words
Day 3…. 1,850 words. Total words to date…. 6,850 words
Day 4…. 1,200 words. Total words to date…. 8,050 words
Day 5…. 1,100 words. Total words to date…. 9,150 words
Day 6…. 1,650 words. Total words to date…. 10,800 words
Day 7…. 2,150 words. Total words to date…. 12,950 words
Day 8…. 1,250 words. Total words to date…. 14,200 words
Day 9…. 1,100 words. Total words to date…. 15,300 words

——–

Totals For Year 2, Month 3, Day 7

– Daily Fiction: 1,100 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 8,450 words  

– Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 00 words

– Blog Posts: 1,100 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 6,050 words

– E-mail: 46 e-mails. Approx. 1,100 original words. E-mails month-to date: 228 e-mails. Approx. 5,800 words

– Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 0 Covers

(starting step-counting on Monday)

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

Continue reading

Posted in Challenge, On Writing, publishing, Writing in Public | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 3, Day 6

Year 2, Month 3, Day 6 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day eight of writing the novel The Edwards Mansion: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

Again, another slow writing day on the novel because, to be honest, I didn’t give it more than one session. Just can’t get much done if you don’t give it time. Sort of one of those tricks about writing a lot. (grin)

Ahh, well, the day was a nuts Monday, as I expected. Rolled out once again at 12:30 which seems to be difficult for me to get past these days. Did a little e-mail, then headed to the snail mail, then to WMG Publishing.

Worked there for a short time, then to a bank, then to Pop Culture Collectables (my store), then to a second bank, then to the grocery store for lunch, then back to WMG by 4:30 to work on workshops. Then at 6 I headed to a store for supplies for the shop, then to Goodwill to see the new store (just opened).

Home by 6:30 to take a nap with the white cat, dinner, and news.

Back to WMG Publishing by 8:30 to work on workshop stuff until Kris got there around 10:30 p.m. Headed home to watch The Voice, then back in here around 1 a.m. to finish the days workshop stuff.

By 2:30 a.m. I took a break and moved to the writing computer. Got about 1,250 words done before 4 a.m., and gave it up.

Now back here in this chair writing this blog.

Topic of the Night: Being Original.

On The Voice tonight there were two comments that really hit home on this topic. This was the last night of blind auditions. After one of the first ones to try and not make it, the judges were talking among themselves about why they didn’t pick the person. The guy was good and had opened for Meatloaf at one point. But no one turned for him because he sounded the same as others with his kind of voice.

So one of the judges said something along those lines and Pharrell said, “Same is lame.”

Wow, have I been shouting that to anyone who would listen here for years. Rewriting in critical voice makes “same” not better. Rewriting in critical voice takes the edges off of your story, takes away your voice, your originality that your subconscious puts in there. Rewriting to what your English teacher taught you makes your stories dull and boring and same.

Sameness in the arts is never good, either in music or writing. “Same is lame.”

And as an editor for years and years, if a story felt like every other story, was polished to an inch of its life, it was easy to reject. Very easy. And just as those four saw the sameness tonight in that one singer, sameness is clear to readers and editors.

Then the next major thing said tonight was by Gwen when talking to another singer that go no chairs to turn. She said to the young singer, “What can you do to be more you?”

I am convinced the young singer had no idea what Gwen meant. The young singer was good, but she had polished all the rough edges off and had nothing to make it her song. Then after the singer had left, Gwen turned to one of the other judges and said, “She sounded like a singer.”

Wow, a lot of people taking workshops from me have heard me say something similar. When you are typing instead of telling a story, I often say that. Stories don’t come from good typing. They come out of being inside a character’s head and relaying the setting through all five senses and telling a great story through that character.

When you, the writer, put something in, that’s typing. And almost always is dull.

Same thing Gwen said to that young singer. “What can you do to be more you?”

In writing, as in singing, I can tell you how to be more you, just as these judges on The Voice have said to singers. Do your art with passion, not to market. Create what you love, what makes you angry or sad or scares hell out of you (as Stephen King says). Tell a story with emotion, through the senses of a character that is real to you.

You do that and you will never have a reader or an editor thinking, “Same as all the rest.”

As Pharrell said, “Same is lame.”

——–

Writing of the novel The Edwards Mansion: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

Day 1…. 1,800 words. Total words to date…. 1,800 words
Day 2…. 3,200 words. Total words to date…. 5,000 words
Day 3…. 1,850 words. Total words to date…. 6,850 words
Day 4…. 1,200 words. Total words to date…. 8,050 words
Day 5…. 1,100 words. Total words to date…. 9,150 words
Day 6…. 1,650 words. Total words to date…. 10,800 words
Day 7…. 2,150 words. Total words to date…. 12,950 words
Day 8…. 1,250 words. Total words to date…. 14,200 words

——–

Totals For Year 2, Month 3, Day 6

– Daily Fiction: 1,250 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 7,350 words  

– Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 00 words

– Blog Posts: 850 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 4,950 words

– E-mail: 41 e-mails. Approx. 1,100 original words. E-mails month-to date: 182 e-mails. Approx. 4,700 words

– Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 0 Covers

(starting step-counting on Monday)

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

Continue reading

Posted in Challenge, On Writing, publishing, Writing in Public | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 3, Day 5

Year 2, Month 3, Day 5 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day 7 of writing the novel The Edwards Mansion: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

This is, without a doubt, the slowest I have ever started a novel. Wow. And it’s not because I don’t want to write it or some other head game. Nope, just been one of the craziest periods I can remember.

But I hope life is calming. I really, really want to write this book.

So anyhow, got up around 12:30 again, way early, and made it up to a friend’s house at 1:30 to drop in and say happy birthday to him. Then to the professional writer’s lunch by 2 p.m.

Great fun, with a surprise guest from Texas who shocked us all. Wonderful.

Then to WMG where I spent an hour or so working on sorting collectable books, then to my office where I worked on workshop stuff.

Home by 6:30 for a nap with the white cat, dinner, and news. Kris is still doing dishes, since I am still running around like a cop in a bad silent movie.

Back up to WMG Publishing after doing a little e-mail at 9, finished up some work on workshops there, then when Kris showed up to walk I went back upstairs at WMG to sort more books. Then at midnight I went out to the store to deliver some shelves that were in the back of my van, then home to watch some television until 1 a.m.

Then into this office to finish e-mail and finish up the workshops for the night. Then by 2:30 a.m. I headed for my writing computer. Since I have been getting up so early, I’m really tired by this point. But once I sat down, I got going fine and did 1,050 words in about 45 minutes, took a quick break, then did another 1,100 words in under an hour.

I have a hunch if I just gave this book some real hours, I might make a giant leap forward. Maybe, just maybe, later in the week. We shall see.

But considering everything, I’ll take 2,150 words.

Topic of the Night: Business combined with a blast from the past.

Since I’ve been talking about how Kris and I have bought a comic and collectables store back this last week (we started it seven years ago, sold it six years ago, bought it back this week), I figured it would make sense to talk business for a moment, at least my history in business a little.

I often get the question about how I learned so much about business. Well, I had a lot of successful ones and a bunch of failures as well over the decades. And so did Kris before she met me. And together, the year after we met, Kris and I started up Pulphouse Publishing that lasted from 1987 to 1996. Amazingly successful, and mixed in failure in a ton of ways.

My first real business was in 1973, when I became the head professional of a Palm Springs country club. I had to  stock and run the golf shop. Clothing, clubs, everything. Cost me over $35,000 to stock it that year and I had sold almost everything before the summer hit and made really nice money.

Then in 1977 I opened a used bookstore in Moscow, Idaho when I was still an architecture student and wanting to be a writer. (My wife at the time wanted nothing to do with it and hated the place.) And then I opened an album store (yes, they used to have those) and then a comic book store. All three were going at once. (And yes, I was still in architecture, tending bar four nights a week, and driving school bus in the mornings. Plus playing on blackjack teams in Nevada to pay for school. I started writing a short story a week in 1982 while doing those jobs.)

(The picture is of me sitting in my bookstore. Behind the pile of books on the desk is an electronic typewriter where I wrote a lot of stories. Besides the large main room I was sitting in, the store had six other rooms full of books.)

Bookstore

In 1980 I sold or shut down all three stores after three years, then bought the bookstore back a year later, then sold it two years later again. Comics store I sold and it did great for a time before it folded. Album store I just let go with the first bookstore sale.

But one of my most amazing early (before Kris) successes and failures combined was a place called Davids’ Third Floor in Moscow, Idaho. Right after I sold the bookstore for the first time. I designed and built Davids’ Third Floor and was half partner in it. We had a corporation and that was my first real learning experience in corporation business. The year was 1980. (I was a second year law student by this point.)

On the main corner of downtown Moscow, Idaho, sat an old abandoned department store built in the 1890s. Somehow I convinced the owner of the place to rent me the empty shell of the third floor, plus a mezzanine above it. It was huge. The idea: to build an indoor recreation center that kids and college kids could enjoy in the winter and summer. And a restaurant for the downtown business people to eat at during the day.

So we built this very elaborate miniature golf course. No windmills or crap like that, just designed like an old mining town. (The second hole to the left of main desk in the first picture goes into a mine tunnel. Big timbers and all.) There are six more holes back there in a pretend valley before the ninth hole comes out over the mine tunnel and goes across a waterfall tumbling down over the fake mountains we built in there. The second nine works under the mezzanine (which you can see in the second picture) and near and around another waterfall.

We put in an indoor driving range, hitting into nets. (to the left in the first picture, can’t really be seen.) And we put in Idaho’s very first game room, with a ton of pinball machines and early PacMan machines and so on. (That room was huge and made us a fortune.)

Then on the mezzanine we created a restaurant that catered to lunch crowds at noon and sandwiches and drinks at night. The entire place cost us $70,000 to build in 1980 money.

My partner and I seven months later had a dispute as to which way to take the business. His way would lead to failure in a few years, even though we had been scary successful the first six months. I could see it clearly, but he couldn’t. And he convinced the tie-breaker on the board to vote with him. So knowing failure was on the horizon, I sold my half-interest in the entire place to the manager of the place and walked away.  (As I predicted, the place shut down two years later.)

Success wrapped up with failure. The pictures of Davids’ Third Floor were given to me by a friend after my fire a number of years later.The first picture was taken from the mezzanine restaurant looking back over part of the golf course toward the front desk. The game room is to the right of the front desk.  As you can tell, the place was huge and this picture only shows about a third of it.

The second picture was from the tee-box of the ninth hole near the driving range looking back at the mezzanine restaurant.

I am 30 years old, standing behind the front desk in the first picture. 34 years ago almost exactly.

So why do I know so much about business? I’ve started a lot of them, some successful, some not. And each one was a major learning experience that I apply to the business of writing and publishing now.

Writing is a business.

David's Third Floor

Davids picture 2

——–

Writing of the novel The Edwards Mansion: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

Day 1…. 1,800 words. Total words to date…. 1,800 words
Day 2…. 3,200 words. Total words to date…. 5,000 words
Day 3…. 1,850 words. Total words to date…. 6,850 words
Day 4…. 1,200 words. Total words to date…. 8,050 words
Day 5…. 1,100 words. Total words to date…. 9,150 words
Day 6…. 1,650 words. Total words to date…. 10,800 words
Day 7…. 2,150 words. Total words to date…. 12,950 words

——–

Totals For Year 2, Month 3, Day 5

– Daily Fiction: 2,150 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 6,100 words  

– Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 00 words

– Blog Posts: 1,200 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 4,100 words

– E-mail: 39 e-mails. Approx. 1,200 original words. E-mails month-to date: 141 e-mails. Approx. 3,600 words

– Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 0 Covers

(starting step-counting on Monday)

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

Continue reading

Posted in Challenge, On Writing, publishing, Writing in Public | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

The New World of Writing: Dare To Be Bad

This is another modern major update of a post I did about three plus years ago about a topic that has been talked about in the Productivity Online Workshop. I’ve mentioned this topic a few times before in places, so I figured it would be time to be clear on it again and update this into this modern world of indie publishing.

Kevin J. Anderson did a good blog on the topic of taking a chance with your work, about “Daring to be Bad” on a first draft and getting it down. Read his blog here, it’s short. And even though he put it up in 2011, it’s still there and can be read.

Kevin credits me with coming up with the phrase, “Dare to be Bad” but it was a catch phrase that Nina Kiriki Hoffman and I used in our early years of our short-story-per-week challenge (1982-1985). I think Nina might have said it first, but it was our chant. And I have repeated it over and over during the decades since. Both to myself and to other writers.

Now in this new world of publishing, it still applies, maybe even more.

Kevin takes the phrase “Dare to Be Bad” and applies it to first drafts, using it as permission to write hard and fast on the first draft and then fix it on the next draft if it needs fixing. That works and works well, especially if you are a rewriter. And Kevin uses external deadlines a great deal to stop the rewriting and release the product, which is also great.

Nina and I were using the phrase in a slightly different way. Not 100% sure how it helped Nina, she would have to talk about that, but for me it got me out of the obsessive rewriting mode. And it helped me get the courage to send my stories out for editors and readers to read.

The base of the phrase for me is this: It takes a lot more courage to write and mail something than it does to not write, or write and not mail or publish. And by putting out your work to editors or indie publish it, you are risking the chance that readers and editors might not like it, that it might be bad. So you are daring to be bad.

Where I have used this phrase over the years is to try to help writers who are stuck in rewriting whirlpools, never thinking anything was good enough to mail, so thus never making any real progress toward selling their work. At some point, if you write first draft or ten drafts, you have to take a chance and indie publish or mail your work if you want readers to read it. At that point you must “Dare to be Bad.”

You can’t let the fear stop you.

Of course, there are no real repercussions of mailing a story that fails. No editor reads anything that doesn’t work and no editor will remember your name if your story doesn’t work. Most of us (editors) have trouble remembering the names of the authors and the stories we have bought over the years, let alone the stories we glanced at and form rejected.

And there are no real risks in indie publishing on Amazon and iBooks and Kobo yourself. If the story sucks, if your sample is bad, or your cover sucks, or your blurb wouldn’t draw flys, no one will read it or buy it or remember you. No real risk to you. Sure, no sales, but no real risk either.

But alas, new writers (and I was no exception) are all afraid of mailing our work to editors or putting it out for readers to read. New writers think that some editor with an empty desk like we see in the movies will pull up the manuscript, read every word, realize it sucks, and then put the new writer’s name on a blacklist and send thugs with guns to the new writer’s house to kill their cats. Or worse.

And on the indie side, new writers make up this belief system that readers can remember something they don’t buy or read. I hear the phrase “I’ll ruin my career if I put out a bad story.” I always want to say, “What career?” But I am polite and never do. Because if you actually believe a bad story can kill your career, you are so deep into excuses to not take chances, I can’t help you.

The reality is that no one notices, which I suppose for some people is worse. But there are no real risks.

So I used the “Dare to be Bad” saying as a way to jump my brain over the made-up fear that kept me from mailing manuscripts. And it kept me rewriting things to death, which I had done for seven long years of wasted time.

With “Dare to be Bad” I wrote one draft and then instead of tinkering with it, I had a first reader find the typos and the mistakes, fixed those, took a deep breath, and mailed the story while repeating over and over, “Dare to be Bad.” I was convinced that every one of those stories I mailed sucked beyond words, that they all needed to be rewritten just as I had been doing without any success for seven years.

But I still mailed them.

Back in those days, I would also turn every story into a workshop after I had mailed it to an editor. The workshop, of course, would back up my fear that the story sucked beyond words and I needed to fix a hundred different things about it. I would never touch the story again.

Then I would sell the story to a major magazine and be very, very glad I didn’t listen to the workshop, or my own fear.

In those early years, with “Dare to be Bad” I never fixed a one of the stories I wrote unless an editor asked me to. And I still need that saying at times now to get something out to readers. I just keep writing new stories and now they go into my own magazine.

Granted, in hindsight, when the stories started selling back in those early days, somehow I managed to hold the fear under control and not go back and touch any story. In fact, in those early years, I became so militant about not touching a story (because I had to in order to climb over the fear) that I got angry when some editor wanted me to rewrite or touch-up a story. I always did it, but because I was so intense about the “Dare to be Bad” I got angry every time in those early sales. (I never let the editor know I was upset, but my poor friends around me sure knew. (grin))

When I look back at it, I can’t believe I actually managed to swim so hard upstream against so many myths. Knowing that Heinlein and Ellison and Bradbury and others did it the same way helped me, but mostly it was the “Dare to be Bad” chant that pushed me week after week after week.

The New World of Publishing

It takes a huge amount of courage for a new writer to put their work out into the real world. It takes one hundred times more courage to put out first drafts that you are convinced can be “fixed” and “polished.” But for seven years my fixing and polishing had gotten few stories written and finished and no sales. Mailing first drafts (with first reader catches of mistakes) got me a career. “Daring to be Bad” got me a career, such as it is. “Daring to be Bad” has paid the bills for going on three decades.

And now we move into a new world where writers can take a chance and put up stories on sale directly to readers. Writers can become publishers.

In the old days, bad stories got rejected. Form rejected, for the most part. Now the bad stories on the indie side will sink without a trace. The good stuff will find readers and get some word-of-mouth and good reviews and sales.

So many writers I hear these days talk about the “noise” of the internet, the fact that so many writers are putting up their own work that their little story won’t be able to find an audience. But all that “noise” again means there is nothing really to lose. And nothing really to fear. No one will notice if a story sucks.

So back to “Dare to be Bad.”

There are always fears of one sort of another, fears that turn into excuses, to not put your work in front of editors or readers. So let me list a few “excuses” here just for fun that “Dare to be Bad” chant might help you with in getting your stories either written or on editor’s desks or for sale electronically.

And note: Let me just take these excuses right down Heinlein’s Rules.

1… I don’t have anything to write about, and I have trouble thinking of any idea. Maybe the fear of writing is stopping you and you just need to sit down at the computer and dare to be bad. Writing something is better than not writing. (Heinlein Rule 1: You must write.) I can help with this one now with the online ideas workshop.

2… I can’t seem to find the time to write. Yup, we all had that problem starting out with day jobs and family. But if there are no major emergencies going on in your life, maybe you really don’t want to be a writer if you can’t find the time to write, or maybe you are just afraid of what you might write. Bluntly put, you need to just sit down and dare to be bad. (Heinlein Rule 1: You must write.) I help with this one now in the productivity online workshop.

3… I write, but I can never finish anything. Yup, I know all about these excuses. You can’t figure out the ending, or you get bored and jump to another project, or the project just feels awful about halfway through. If this is happening to you (happens to me all the time), you really need to dare to be bad. It takes courage to finish a project even when you think it sucks. Far more courage than it does walking away from it and quitting. (Heinlein Rule 2: You must finish what you write.)

4… Story isn’t good enough, it needs another polish. Sure, some writers need to do more than one draft, but if doing another draft is an excuse to not mail it for fear of the story being rejected or not read by readers, and this fear has a bunch of your stories sitting in files not mailed, maybe you might want to think of not doing that final polish and daring to be bad and mailing the thing or publishing it indie. (Heinlein Rule 3: You must not rewrite unless to editorial demand.) (Note: my personal belief is that all stories need a good first reader and a good proofreader before being indie published.)

5… I write and finish stories, but I can’t seem to get them to editors or find the time to learn how to put them up electronically myself. Here is where the real rubber hits the road, the real fears I talked about above hit each of us. Dare to be bad. It takes a vast amount of courage to get your stuff to editors or indie publish it to readers, even though there are no real threats coming back at you.

Again, no one notices if something is honestly bad. And maybe that’s the biggest worry of all, that no one will notice. And if that’s the case, run from this business now. Your ego is way, way too big to survive as a writer, either through traditional publishing or publishing your own stuff. (Heinlein Rule 4: You must mail your work to someone who will buy it. (Modern addition, put it up so readers can buy it.))

6… I mailed the story, got five or so rejections on it, so it must stink. Wow, again, if you give up after only a few rejections, you might again think about another career. But now, even if you do give up after a few rejections from editors, your story can still find readers. All you have to do is learn to do a cover and format your manuscript correctly and get it up on Amazon and other places.

There is no reason to ever retire a story these days. Again, no one will notice if it sucks and if it doesn’t suck, it will find readers. Maybe slowly, over years, but it will find them. But to get to those readers, you must dare to be bad. (Heinlein’s Rule #5: You must keep your story in the mail until someone buys it. (Modern addition, get your story for sale directly to readers and give them a chance to buy it.))

Courage

The phrase “Dare to be Bad” is a phrase that allows you to gain courage. Sometimes you just have to let go and dare to suck.

Someone pointed out to me once that Babe Ruth not only held the home run title for decades, but also the most strike-out title. Luckily for him he had no fear of being bad. He just stood up there and swung at the ball. That’s what I did every time I mailed a new story. I just stood up there, swallowed the fear, and took a swing.

Every writer, without exception, has mental issues with courage. Long term professional writers have figured out ways over and around or through the fears. For me, putting my work out there is always a challenge because so many of my stories have personal themes, personal fears.

It takes a lot more courage to try and fail than it does to not try at all.

Go ahead, dare to be bad and see what happens. Mail a story to an editor without rewriting it to death. Put a story up on Amazon on your own. Try new things, experiment, take chances. You really have nothing to lose.

Step up to the plate, take a deep breath, and swing.

And who knows, just as I was, you might be very surprised at the positive results.

And don’t forget to have fun.

Posted in On Writing, publishing | Tagged , , | 37 Comments

Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 3, Day 4

Year 2, Month 3, Day 4 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day off of writing the novel The Edwards Mansion: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

Up early, worked on some stuff around the house, then headed off to the store around 3 p.m. Stayed there for an hour, then off to the snail mail, the grocery store, and then to WMG Publishing by 5 p.m.

Worked for just an hour there on the “Paying the Price” lecture and then headed home for a long nap with the white cat, dinner, and news.

Then back to WMG Publishing where I worked on workshop stuff and then finished the lecture. I’ll announce it tomorrow night.

Some family stuff came up and I went home for a time. Then I watched a little television, then went into the living room and spent two hours reading the last part of Kris’s new novel, the final novel in the Anniversary Day Saga.

Trust me. This eight book saga may be one of the best large stories every told in science fiction. Ever. I know science fiction and I am not kidding.

It starts with Retrieval Artist: Anniversary Day, which is out, but is being reissued this month. The second book is Retrieval Artist: Blowback which is also out, but is being reissued in November.

Then starting in January, one new book in the saga per month. From January to June the other six books in the Anniversary Day Saga will be released. I just finished the last one called Retrieval Artist: Masterminds. The eighth and final book in the Anniversary Day Saga.

It is stunning.

And even more amazing, Kris wraps up everything that was going on in all the earlier books. The book is tense, impossible to put down, and flat amazing.

I didn’t want to be done reading. I might go back and start with Retrieval Artist: Anniversary Day and read the entire thing again. I want to spend more time with Miles Fling and the cast of characters.

Folks, get started on those first two volumes if you haven’t read them already. The entire eight book saga is done, and you want to get a head start reading this.

I’m shaking my head that she managed to pull this off. Wow, just wow.

Topic of the Night: Dare to be Bad.  It’s in the post above this one.

——–

Writing of the novel The Edwards Mansion: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

Day 1…. 1,800 words. Total words to date…. 1,800 words
Day 2…. 3,200 words. Total words to date…. 5,000 words
Day 3…. 1,850 words. Total words to date…. 6,850 words
Day 4…. 1,200 words. Total words to date…. 8,050 words
Day 5…. 1,100 words. Total words to date…. 9,150 words
Day 6…. 1,650 words. Total words to date…. 10,800 words

——–

Totals For Year 2, Month 3, Day 4

– Daily Fiction: 00 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 3,950 words  

– Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 00 words

– Blog Posts:  800 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 2,900 words

– E-mail: 19 e-mails. Approx. 300 original words. E-mails month-to date: 102 e-mails. Approx. 2,400 words

– Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 0 Covers

(starting step-counting on Monday)

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

Continue reading

Posted in Challenge, On Writing, publishing, Recommended Reading, Writing in Public | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 3, Day 3

Year 2, Month 3, Day 3 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day six of writing the novel The Edwards Mansion: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

Sort of one more wild day of getting up early. And I didn’t help it by after doing this blog last night, I went out and read a part of Kris’s new Retrieval Artist novel. I couldn’t put the thing down, so stayed up way too late.

Then got out around 12:30 again (got to get back to my normal schedule) and made it to the snail mail and a meeting with one of my insurance agents. Then to the bank, then to the store. It’s looking pretty cool. I’ll put pictures up here in a week or so if I can also find my construction pictures of the store from seven years ago.

Went back to WMG Publishing after that and worked on the lecture. Almost have it ready to go up. And then I worked on workshop stuff until Kris got there around 5 p.m. and we went out to dinner.

Then home to nap with the white cat and watch news. Back to WMG offices to work on online workshops while Kris walked.

I made it home around 11:30 and watched some television until around 1:30 a.m. Then back in here.

I needed to send out letters to everyone signed up for the October workshops. Since it wasn’t very many, I decided to send out the letters on writing breaks. So sent out some, then I wrote one session of about 850 words on the novel, then did more letters, then did another 800 words, then finished off the letters.

So everyone who is signed up for an October workshop should have gotten a letter from me. If you did not, please write me.

1,650 original words. I really need to give this book a few solid days of writing to jump it forward. It’s in the set-up and repeat period of the novel (a series novel, so earlier information has to be given to the readers of this book) and I need to plow through that faster than I am.

Topic for the night. Don’t have one tonight.

I did. About six hundred words, actually. Had to cut it because a part that was critical to the entire thing was missing from where it should have been. And it’s too late for me to write something new.

Tomorrow.

——–

Writing of the novel The Edwards Mansion: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

Day 1…. 1,800 words. Total words to date…. 1,800 words
Day 2…. 3,200 words. Total words to date…. 5,000 words
Day 3…. 1,850 words. Total words to date…. 6,850 words
Day 4…. 1,200 words. Total words to date…. 8,050 words
Day 5…. 1,100 words. Total words to date…. 9,150 words
Day 6…. 1,650 words. Total words to date…. 10,800 words

——–

Totals For Year 2, Month 3, Day 2

– Daily Fiction: 1,650 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 3,950 words  

– Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 00 words

– Blog Posts:  500 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 2,100 words

– E-mail: 42 e-mails. Approx. 900 original words. E-mails month-to date: 83 e-mails. Approx. 1,900 words

– Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 0 Covers

(starting step-counting on Monday)

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

Continue reading

Posted in Challenge, On Writing, publishing, Writing in Public | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 3, Day 2

Year 2, Month 3, Day 2 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day five of writing the novel The Edwards Mansion: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

Yet again a crazy day, but yet again expected. But managed a small amount on the novel, so good enough. (Again, monthly summary maybe tomorrow. Too tired to think about it with all the craziness.)

Got up early yet again at 12 noon, headed off quickly to the new store, then to a meeting at 1:30 p.m. Then another meeting at 3 p.m. and then yet another meeting at 5:30 p.m. with a stop at the local bookstore on the way.

Finally at 6:30 after being at full run all day, I took a nap with the white cat, then dinner, and news. Then at 8:30 p.m. I headed up to WMG office to work on the lecture and some workshop. Home around 11:30 and watched television to relax until 2 a.m.

Then in here to do some e-mail, then to work on the novel. Again, I only managed one session of 1,100 words before the brain said, “You’re done.” But with luck, after tomorrow I’ll be back on my schedule and can get some real word counts done.

Topic of the Night: First, I wanted first to thank everyone for the great support of Fiction River Subscription Drive.

After everyone is signed up for the October workshops, I’ll send those subscriptions on to WMG Publishing as well. (Yes, if you take an October workshop, which there is LOTS of room in all of them, you can get three electronic issues of Fiction River. A fun thing WMG wanted to do as part of the subscription drive. So even though the drive has ended on Kickstarter, still time here to sign up for a workshop and get three issues for a few more days at least.

Interesting that not that many people are signing up for online workshops in October. For some reason I remembered last year that a number did, but when I went back and looked, my memory was wrong. I would think, logically, that October would be a back-to-writing month after the summer. Logic and writing seldom mix. (grin)

So that finally gets me to my quick topic, or more like an observation. The seasonal nature of writing and learning writing.

Since we have doing these workshops for a few years now, (and coast workshops for almost 15 years) I am starting to see some patterns. June, July, and August tend to keep everyone away from their writing. I call it “the great forgetting” as resolutions are long in the past and summer fun gets people out of the house and away from thinking of writing.

September seems to have a lot of attention as people return to writing and are bored with summer, sort of a return to school. October and November seem to be only blank months of writer interest, and then December the writing interest fires up toward the end of the month and hits full speed in January and February and March. April and May are blank again.

Now these observations come not only from the workshops over years, but e-mail questions, interest in coast workshops, and so on. (We were never able to get a late September coast workshop off the ground.)

The observations are not at all scientific and I know every writer is different. But I’ve been finding the patterns interesting. Not a clue why I find them interesting, to be honest.

Long term professional writers are twelve months a year because this is what we do. Maybe that’s why I find it interesting that writers who can take months away and not think about it much.

Granted, newer professionals coming in have a very hard time with the twelve months per year aspect of writing, even though most would have no problem at the same time with a twelve month job (with vacation time). I understand it is really hard to balance life, jobs, family, all year long with a focus on writing. Understandable. But many younger writers and all long-term professionals still do.

I found it interesting that when I wrote down my writing last year, how really twelve months per year I was, even during bad months. I always knew I was, just got the evidence to prove it to myself with this blog last year. (grin)

So no conclusions or anything. Just wanted to toss that out there as an interesting thing I have watched over the years and now with the workshops and lectures, I have a way of watching the patterns a little closer is all.

But one thing I will say about math. 12 months at 20,000 words per month is 240,000 words or 4 sixty-thousand word novels. 6 months at 20,000 words per month is 120,000 words. If you want to increase your production, figure out a way to stay focused on your writing 12 months a year.

Seems sort of simple, doesn’t it? Really hard to do.

——–

Writing of the novel The Edwards Mansion: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

Day 1…. 1,800 words. Total words to date…. 1,800 words
Day 2…. 3,200 words. Total words to date…. 5,000 words
Day 3…. 1,850 words. Total words to date…. 6,850 words
Day 4…. 1,200 words. Total words to date…. 8,050 words
Day 5…. 1,100 words. Total words to date…. 9,150 words

——–

Totals For Year 2, Month 3, Day 2

– Daily Fiction: 1,100 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 2,300 words  

– Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 00 words

– Blog Posts:  800 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 1,600 words

– E-mail: 17 e-mails. Approx. 400 original words. E-mails month-to date: 41 e-mails. Approx. 1,000 words

– Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 0 Covers

(starting step-counting on Monday)

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

Continue reading

Posted in Challenge, On Writing, publishing, Writing in Public | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 3, Day 1

Year 2, Month 3, Day 1 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Day four of writing the novel The Edwards Mansion: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

A fun day again. And just stupidly busy, so I am happy I got any writing done tonight at all.

Rolled out fantastically early for me at around 11:30 a.m. and started into errands for the new store. From alarm stuff to heating to lease to insurance to credit card machine and so on. Including two trips to banks. Now I remember why I sleep when most people are out working. Tiring stuff.

Ended up shopping for basic supplies as well and Kris and I delivered them to the store on the way home tonight at midnight.

Tomorrow will be about the same level of crazy and by Friday things will calm.

But still a great first day for the store. (I even got to stop in for a few minutes.)

I got home from the craziness around 6:30 p.m. and took a nap with the white cat. (At least Kris told me I took a nap. I think I just passed out.) Dinner, news, a planning session with Kris, and then back up to WMG offices around nine to work on some Smith’s Monthly stuff, plus the new lecture “Paying the Price.” Kris and I think we have it so the lecture will be clear, to the point, and yet positive.

Home around midnight to watch some television. Then in here to finish up e-mail around 2 a.m. and then around 2:30 a.m. I headed to the writing computer.

It was a sputtering start after my focus being elsewhere, but I managed 1,200 words on the novel by around 3:30 a.m. before deciding that was enough for a restart. Win!

Topic of the Night is a very short observation on the new world of publishing we live in. This week has slammed home to me how really amazing this new world is.

For example, the Kickstarter Subscription Drive we are doing for Fiction River. It’s ending today and has been amazingly successful. There are still some great rewards available if you read this before the end.  Including lectures. Or you can just subscribe and get some great fiction for a year by top writers from around the world.

A subscription drive for an anthology series through Kickstarter.

That’s new world.

And earlier in the week, we did a BookBub promotion for a book Kris wrote over 15 years ago. The promotion was amazingly successful, and we can already see the halo affect in the other six books in the series. And we only put the book on sale for $1.99 for two days. WMG made a bunch of money over the costs on just the sales of the book, and the book hit #1 on a bunch of lists on a number of retailers.

A fifteen year old book surging and hitting bestseller lists because of a simple e-mail promotion.

That’s new world.

And last night I posted the details to a Story Bundle that Kris and I both have books in. Actually, we have three books of the twelve. It’s a nonfiction bundle about writing and the business of writing with some of the top writers on the subject around the country. (Details in last night’s post.)

You can get all twelve nonfiction books for $15.00.

That’s new world. 

And I finished (and the issue is out or going out to subscribers) Smith’s Monthly #12. One full year of my own monthly magazine with only my stuff in it. That’s nuts and great fun.

That’s new world.

And this month WMG Publishing gained its tenth employee and a brick and mortar store. The publishing company already has a seven thousand foot office building (where they also hold workshops) and it now has ten employees. This summer we built an audio room in our audio department designed only for audio. The room and the equipment works amazingly well.

A side point: Kris and I are not employees of WMG PUblishing. I have an office there, but I don’t work for the company as an employee. We sell them our stories and novels just as we would with any publishing company.

Kris and I made a lot of money in traditional publishing over the decades in that traditional world, but we never saw the need for even one employee. In indie publishing, we own a full corporation which owns a brick and mortar store, and has ten employees. And we’re having a blast.

That’s new world.

Sometimes things just gang up on me to make me stop and look around and say, “Wow, this is cool. I love this new world of publishing and writing.”

This new world has freedom. You are limited to only what you can imagine in this new publishing and writing business. And what you have the courage to try.

——–

Writing of the novel The Edwards Mansion: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

Day 1…. 1,800 words. Total words to date…. 1,800 words
Day 2…. 3,200 words. Total words to date…. 5,000 words
Day 3…. 1,850 words. Total words to date…. 6,850 words
Day 4…. 1,200 words. Total words to date…. 8,050 words

——–

Totals For Year 2, Month 3, Day 1

– Daily Fiction: 1,200 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 1,200 words  

– Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 00 words

– Blog Posts:  800 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 800 words

– E-mail: 24 e-mails. Approx. 600 original words. E-mails month-to date: 24 e-mails. Approx. 600 words

– Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 0 Covers

(starting step-counting on Monday)

For projects finished in the first year and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

Continue reading

Posted in Challenge, On Writing, publishing, Writing in Public | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments