Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 3, Day 14

Year 2, Month 3, Day 14 of this Writing in Public challenge.

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

Still no clue where the book is going. But I’m now making great speed into the darkness.

Rolled out around 1 p.m., did some e-mail, then made it to the snail mail (which was open today after that stupid holiday yesterday) and then the bank (also open) and then to WMG Publishing offices.

Spent a little time there talking with another professional writer and some of the fine folks who work there, then headed off to yet another bank and then to Pop Culture Collectables for a short time.

Then back to WMG Publishing by 4:30 to have lunch and work on workshop stuff there. Home by 6:30 to have a nap with the white cat, then dinner, news, and dishes.

Then into this office to do workshop stuff. Then at 10:30 Kris and I headed up to WMG Publishing and I worked on collectables to get out to the store while she walked. Home by 11:30 to watch The Voice. Another great night of great advice for artists of all sorts.

Then around 2 a.m. I finished up the last details of the online workshops for the week, then went over to my writing computer. By 2:45 a.m. I had 1,300 new words. A very short break, then by 3:30 I had another 1,200 words.

A little longer break, then by 4:15 I had yet another 1,300 words. Powering right along.

One more break, very short, then by 4:50 I added in another 1,050 words.

4,850 words, all in fast sessions. Damn this is fun when things go so fast. Wow. Means I must be on the downhill slide of this book, but honestly I have no clue. Time will tell.

Topic of the Night: Never Quitting

This topic is so huge, no chance will I even begin to cover it in something like this. But tonight on The Voice there were a lot of great stuff, some of which I’m sure I’ll talk about in coming days.

But there was one really amazing moment with an 18 year old kid. It was a hell of a battle and Adam picked the other guy, even though the kid was clearly the frontrunner going into the battle. The other guy improved so much, and gave it so much heart, Adam really had no choice when thinking about who could handle the pressure and grow going forward.

But this poor 18 year old kid (who was scary talented and had done a fantastic job) was crushed. All of the judges talked with him, but then as Pharrell started to talk with him, it was clear the kid was having troubles, so Pharrell said, “I’ll walk you out.”

Remember, this was Adam’s singer, but Adam seemed as hurt by the choice as the kid and clearly had no idea what to say.

And no other judge stole him for their team because they knew Adam was right.

Pharrell took the kid into the back. The kid said, “I really wanted this.”

And then Pharrell said to the kid, “How many things you wanted in your life that you didn’t get and you survived.”

The kid nodded.

Then Pharrell said to the kid, “Keep going. If you stop now, than no is right.”

Wow, amazing advice for any artist. I have watched so, so, so many writers get discouraged either by the old traditional system or this new indie system and just quit.

And usually they quit in the early days, with the first discouragement. And for them, no is correct. Quitting is the correct choice because things don’t get easier.

As Kris said after we watched that event for a second time, “That’s why we are still around and writing.”

I agree. We get knocked down, our careers get crashed, projects die, but we have never really quit.

Now granted, I have taken some side trips, gotten lost in some “Oh, shinny” moments over the decades. And in writing alone I have lost decades at times to stupid myths and bad decisions. But I keep coming back to writing, never quitting.

Now, this is not something that can really be taught. It is part of paying the price, though, for your art.

You either have the ability to keep pushing forward, pushing away all the people around you who think what you are doing is foolish, or you don’t.

Brutal truth. And not a damn thing I can say or Pharrell can say to change the outcome.

You either have the ability when knocked down to stand back up, or you stay on the ground and whine and then move on. You either have the desire to continue chasing your dream even after bad events or decisions that might take decades from you, or you don’t.

The kid is either going to go home, recover, and then go back to work on learning the music career, or he’s going to end up letting that one “no” define his life. He does that and he will end up in some family business or dull job wondering what might have happened if Adam would have said yes.

But as Pharrell said, if the kid does that, then “no” was the right answer for him, because from this point forward, the music career only gets harder.

And if you are thinking that after a few sales, the writing career gets easier and you are owed lots of “yes” answers, you are delusional.

The higher you climb in any art, the more difficult, more challenging, and with the right attitude, more fun.

But no is always a part of it. Always.

One side note to be clear here… Thinking of quitting is perfectly normal and I know of no writer or artist who hasn’t thought of that many times. They key is actually quitting or not quitting.

Don’t let a “no” be the right answer for you.

——–

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
Day 10… 4,200 words. Total words to date…. 19,500 words
Day 11… 3,250 words. Total words to date…. 22,750 words
Day 12… 3,200 words. Total words to date…. 25,950 words
Day 13… 1,450 words. Total words to date…. 27,400 words
Day 14… 4,600 words. Total words to date…. 32,000 words
Day 15… 4,850 words. Total words to date…. 36,850 words

——–

Totals For Year 2, Month 3, Day 14

– Daily Fiction: 4,850 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 30,000 words  

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

– Blog Posts: 1,100 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 11,550 words

– E-mail: 38 e-mails. Approx. 1,300 original words. E-mails month-to date: 377 e-mails. Approx. 10,900 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

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Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 3, Day 13

Year 2, Month 3, Day 13 of this Writing in Public challenge.

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

I wish I had a clue where this novel was going. Just pounding along. Once I have a clue, I might be able to figure out if I’ve taken any side trips as I aways do in these Thunder Mountain novels.

And talk about writing series issues. (I talk about many of them in the Series online workshop.)  I want these Thunder Mountain books to all stand alone, yet I don’t want to bore to tears the readers of the first three in the series. Ahh, what to put in, what to leave out? I’ll figure it out once I know where I am going with this story. Standard for me.

The day was pretty basic. Rolled out around 1:30 p.m. and went to the snail mail (none) and banks weren’t open either. What a stupid holiday this one is. Annoying.

Anyhow, went to WMG Publishing, did some stuff there, then went to get my flu shot. All done.

Then I headed to the grocery store deli for lunch, stopped at WMG to eat it, then headed to Pop Culture Collectables to look at a nifty collection of toys that had come through the door. It was from one of the store’s regular pickers and it was good stuff.

Home by 6:30 for a nap with the white cat, dinner, news, and dishes. Then into this office to finish up the workshop stuff for the day, then up to WMG offices around 10:30 to get some stuff.

Home by 11 p.m. and down to watch The Voice. Really amazing stuff this week, as normal for that show.

Back in this office around 12:30 to finish up some stuff, then rested in the living room for ten minutes, then with iced tea and a breakfast bar, I headed for the writing computer.

I got 1,350 words done by 1:55 a.m., took a quick break, got some peanut butter, then went for another session.

This time I managed 1,200 words before 2:45 a.m. I was moving. Again no idea where, but the story is flowing right along.

Then I grabbed some sparkling water (I kill the iced tea around 3 a.m.) and did another 1,100 words by 3:30 a.m.

Another quick break, then I did 950 more words by 4:15 a.m. and called it a night. I think I could have gone farther, but I was at a good point to stop.

So 4,600 words tonight. Amazing what happens when you give the writing some actual time. (grin)

Topic of the Night: Be True to Yourself.

Tonight on The Voice, they are doing the battle rounds. Gwen has her husband Gavin helping her. At one point he said to one of the singers, “When you let yourself be who you are is when you become the most interesting.”

Let that sink in for a moment because Pharrell said to one singer, “Over feel, not over think.”

Wow, do both of those seemingly simple statements apply in so many ways with writing.

The second one is, of course, what I shout about here all the time and have for years. Critical voice is not how you write stories. You write stories from your gut, your passion, your fear, your hate, your feelings. Never from where your English teacher taught you or to some idea of what would sell.

So I have a hunch that when I see stories that are clearly written without passion, I’m going to just take Pharrell’s statement. “Over feel, not over think.”

The problem, of course, is that writers are taught so much crap in schools and the myths of publishing are so harsh. But to start getting through those myths and all the crap you were taught in high school (yes, I know the song), start writing to passion and stop caring about perfect. You might be surprised how readers react to you.

Gavin’s statement of course hits right on this same topic. “When you let yourself be who you are is when you become the most interesting.”

I can tell you this. If you are rewriting something into a polished stone because that is your belief system, you are taking all of yourself out of the work and it becomes dull. As an editor I saw that in hundreds of thousands of manuscripts and all of them I rejected. You have to learn to let yourself be who you are in your writing. Hard, I know. I talk about some of that in the productivity online workshop.

People ask me why I started selling after I started following Heinlein’s Rules in 1982. It is simply because those rules helped me be myself in my writing.

I also starting having fun, enjoying the process of writing, enjoying finishing and getting stories out to readers.

So at the moment, I am writing a Thunder Mountain novel, set mostly in the mountains of Idaho and the Old West. It’s time travel. I love time travel, I love Idaho and the Old West, I write with passion for all of them. It’s who I am and I am having a blast.

As last night’s topic was about, I don’t over think, I just write with no fear. What is there to fear? I don’t over think or outline something to death, I just write to passion and trust the process.

There was a ton more on The Voice tonight, including an amazing scene with two experienced country singers, Blake, and Little Big Town all jamming. I’ll talk about that later if it comes up and how in a way that’s what we are doing here next week with thirty-plus professional fiction writers coming in to be together.

I know most of you have your noses up in the air about The Voice. Free education. Can’t beat it. Your loss.

And there was a pattern in the singers tonight that I wager no one saw. Not a spouse or partner mentioned or in the audience for any of the singers. All parents and friends. No comment on that, just interesting that most of the artists on tonight were long-term experienced singers, most in their late twenties and early thirties, with stories of paying pretty high prices for their music.

And speaking of being true to myself, here’s a picture of #12 of Smith’s Monthly, my own magazine. Yes, I did make it a full year and powering into the second year. Nifty, huh.

Dean With #12

——–

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
Day 10… 4,200 words. Total words to date…. 19,500 words
Day 11… 3,250 words. Total words to date…. 22,750 words
Day 12… 3,200 words. Total words to date…. 25,950 words
Day 13… 1,450 words. Total words to date…. 27,400 words
Day 14… 4,600 words. Total words to date…. 32,000 words

——–

Totals For Year 2, Month 3, Day 13

– Daily Fiction: 4,600 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 25,150 words  

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

– Blog Posts: 1,000 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 10,450 words

– E-mail: 31 e-mails. Approx. 1,100 original words. E-mails month-to date: 339 e-mails. Approx. 9,600 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

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Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 3, Day 12

Year 2, Month 3, Day 12 of this Writing in Public challenge.

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

I finished the Coben book last night after I wrote the blog here, so I ended up seeing the sun come up and then sleeping too long and missing the writer’s lunch today. I did manage to get out to Pop Culture Collectables by 3:30 p.m. to look at a collection of comics that had come in to buy. And also a collection of vintage post cards. Cool stuff.

Having nifty collectables walk through the door is one of the huge advantages of having a brick and mortar store.

Kris showed up out there around 5 p.m. and we headed home. I still had the big accounting project to get done that I had put off last night, so instead of starting on that, I put it off again and went to take a nap with the white cat and watch some football. Then dinner, news, and dishes.

Then I went to work on the workshop homework and stuff, a lot of which I already had done over the last few days in small chunks here and there. At 10:30 I was mostly done and Kris and I headed up to WMG so I could get some stuff I needed for the accounting and she could walk.

Home by midnight and I went to work on the accounting project because I couldn’t put it off any longer, but then decided to watch a little television. Wow, when I don’t want to do something, I find all sorts of things to do. (grin)

Finally, a little before 1 a.m. I went after the project and ended up getting it done fairly quickly since I had dinged so much of into place five and ten minutes here and there.

So by 2:30 a.m. I was finishing the last of the workshop stuff for the day and by 3 a.m. I was at my writing computer.

Now that was a stunner. I expected to get no writing done today at all. Shock of all shocks, I did.

I did a session of 1,450 words by 4:15 a.m. before saying that was enough. Amazing how just a small day of writing can feel like a total success when the day is full of life events. (grin)

Topic of the Day: Writing into the Dark.

(I won’t use the term “p*ntster” because, without a doubt, that’s the silliest word I have ever heard.)

One of the workshop writers asked me about doing a lecture on the topic of writing into the dark and I’m going to. As he said, “Everyone talks about outlining and planning, but no one talks much about the other way of writing.”

Wow, got that right. And thanks for the suggestion! Very much appreciated. That lecture will be coming in the next few weeks or so.

But for a very short introduction to the topic, I wanted to state my position clearly.

1… No writer works the same.

2… Outline or don’t outline, neither method is the ONLY WAY to do it. See #1.

3… I have done both. Extensively. Over the last few years on novels, and on almost all short stories my entire career, I wrote into the dark, usually only putting a title in and just going from there. (In the lecture I’ll get deeper into how to do that and the methods and fears behind writing into the dark.)

As far as outlining, I have done outlines that I sold books on that were less than 300 words. And I did one outline that was 134 pages long for a book that never sold, a full sales package and all included. (Yes, they were dark times back then.)

4… If some idiot at some conference or in some local English class is telling you that you MUST outline, just use #1 above. No rules. Just what works for you. The hard key is letting yourself have the freedom to experiment and find out what works for you.

5… And writing into the dark might be right for one project and wrong for another. Each project is different, just as each writer is different.

6… Even if you do an outline, there are no rules that say you MUST follow it. If your creative brain takes you off on a side road, throw away the outline and when you feel the need for one again, do a new one from where you are at.

7… And there are no right ways to outline.  None. And no one way to start a project into the dark. None.

So anyhow, a quick glance at the very surface of the topic of writing into the dark. I might do other Topics of the Night on this, more than likely around the time I am recording the lecture. (grin)

If you have things you would like me to talk about in a lecture or here on these very short Topics of the Night things, feel free to send the suggestion to me.

——–

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
Day 10… 4,200 words. Total words to date…. 19,500 words
Day 11… 3,250 words. Total words to date…. 22,750 words
Day 12… 3,200 words. Total words to date…. 25,950 words
Day 13… 1,450 words. Total words to date…. 27,400 words

——–

Totals For Year 2, Month 3, Day 12

– Daily Fiction: 1,450 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 20,550 words  

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

– Blog Posts: 900 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 9,450 words

– E-mail: 36 e-mails. Approx. 1,400 original words. E-mails month-to date: 308 e-mails. Approx. 8,500 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

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Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 3, Day 11

Year 2, Month 3, Day 11 of this Writing in Public challenge.

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

A day of strange things. Up around 1 p.m. and did some e-mail before heading off to the snail mail, then the grocery store deli for lunch, then to the bookstore where I was buying the large book collection at 3 p.m.

It took us two more truckloads to get it all. (Three total counting the one on Thursday.) I do mean moving-truck-loads. Not kidding. Yes, I am that crazy.

We got the books all moved by 5:30 and stiff and sore, I headed home. At my age moving large amounts of very heavy books is just a silly thing to do. (grin)

I took a nap with the white cat, then dinner, news, and dishes before I turned my attention to some accounting I didn’t want to do. So avoidance after an hour drove me to my reading chair to take a break.

I grabbed the book Six Years by Harlan Coben that was sitting there on the coffee table and started to read it. Two hours later I was halfway through. Kris and I headed to watch some television and by 1:30 a.m. I was in here ready to write.

I did 1,100 word session again by 2:30 a.m. and took a break, then did another 900 words by 3:30 a.m. and after another break I came back and got 1,200 words done by 4:30 a.m.

3,200 words. Just sort of clicking along.

Topic of the Night: Study

One of the WMG Publishing workshops is Depth in Writing. That workshop is to teach you how to grab a reader through a character and get them so deep into your story, they won’t leave until the end when you let them.

Depth in writing happens in openings, both at the start of the book and the start of every chapter or scene when done right.

Well, tonight, I was caught by the Coben book and something happened in the living room, something with a cat or Kris or something, and I surfaced from the book.

The book came out in 2013 and is a single viewpoint first-person novel. Coben, at least in this book, writes a lot like Dean Koontz with invisible prose and a light, but clear character style. Page-turning style.

Well, when I surfaced from the story for cat reasons, I realized what I had just read in the opening of chapter three. A stunning example of great depth. He does three paragraphs of character opinion of setting before any real plot stuff. He set us readers solidly in the scene and the character.

In other words, depth. In a fast-paced page-turning book.

Most new writers think because of the old myth about needing action first that they must start off a story with action. Deadly dull to most readers, actually. Readers don’t care about action unless they care about the character.

And then writers think that because they described the setting in chapter one, they don’t need to ground the reader back in the same setting in chapter five. Oops.  Quickest way for a reader to get confused and leave.

So the point of all this? Actually, study.

Read a book for pleasure, then (and only then) go back and study it if you liked it and if the book managed some writing feat you want to have in your work. I’m only halfway through the Coben and I wouldn’t have noticed the depth if I hadn’t been forced out of  the book by a cat event in the living room.

If this books holds as I expect it will when I finish reading, I will go back and study what Coben did along the way to hold me in a fairly slow puzzle plot with fast-paced pacing and great depth and attitude of character. The plot is not a fast-paced plot, yet his writing skill is making the book a page-turner. That’s skill.

If you don’t read for pleasure, you are lost as a writer.

If you don’t study books that gave you pleasure after you read them, you are missing a great chance at free education.

Just saying.

——–

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
Day 10… 4,200 words. Total words to date…. 19,500 words
Day 11… 3,250 words. Total words to date…. 22,750 words
Day 12… 3,200 words. Total words to date…. 25,950 words

——–

Totals For Year 2, Month 3, Day 11

– Daily Fiction: 3,200 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 19,100 words  

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

– Blog Posts: 800 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 8,550 words

– E-mail: 16 e-mails. Approx. 400 original words. E-mails month-to date: 272 e-mails. Approx. 7,100 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

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Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 3, Day 10

Year 2, Month 3, Day 10 of this Writing in Public challenge.

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

A fun day. Rolled out around 1 and did a little e-mail, then headed out to Pop Culture Collectables to spend some time out there. Then a bank stop, then snail mail, then back to WMG Publishing.

I spent about a half hour there talking with people, then another half hour doing some basic work, then another half hour working on some of the books that had come in. Tomorrow, the next truck load hits the office. A very large collection.

Then home early at 5:30 to take a nap with the white cat, dinner, and news. Then by 7:30 p.m. I was back up to WMG Publishing. At eight a bunch of professional fiction writers showed up to talk only publishing and writing. Talk of cats, movies, and collectables was off limits.

We had ten or so tonight, all well-publishing professional fiction writers. Fantastic fun. We do this about once per month. I can’t believe there is this much writing energy in this backwoods corner of the planet. Might have something to do with it being cheap to live and the ocean. Just maybe. (grin)

We talked until around midnight when Kris and I kicked everyone out and shut down the office and went home. I did the dishes I had left from earlier and then we headed to watch some television.

I got back into this office around 1 a.m. and finished up my e-mail. Then took a short rest in the living room before moving to my writing chair with a glass of iced tea at 2 a.m.

I did 1,100 new words in a session by 3 a.m. before taking a break to grab some sparkling water and a spoonful of peanut butter.

Back for another 1,050 words by 3:45 a.m.  All of this is the new viewpoint character I am adding in between chapters of the other character already written. It’s making the book a ton better to my creative voice and it’s flowing easily now. Yeah!

I went for a breakfast bar and went back to the writing computer, getting another 1,100 words done by 4:45 a.m. and calling it a night because my eyes are tired.

3,250 words. Okay, feeling like things are running fine now.

Topic of the Night: Session Length

Those of you who have been following this for the last year or so (what’s wrong with you?) know that most of my writing sessions last from 800 words on a slow one to 1,400 words on a really fast session. But mostly I tend to have writing sessions around 1,000 to 1,100 words.

Do I automatically stop at that point when I see I have gone that far? Nope.

Do I write all my chapters that long and just stop after a chapter? Nope.

This session length comes from years and years of writing. I had to train myself early on to stand up every four pages (1,000 words under the old manuscript format structure) because otherwise I could sit for hours and really hurt my hands and arms and back. Especially those early years using a typewriter.

I realized that if I stood up every hour or so, walked around for a minute, than sat back down, I could write massive amounts of words in a day and never hurt myself. So I purposely trained myself to do just that.

After a decade or so of training, my brain now just shuts off around 1,000 words. I couldn’t type another word if my life depended on it.

But if I stand up, walk into the other room, then come back and sit down, I’m good for another 1,000 words.

So I have trained my subconscious to shut me down after a thousand words. Then allow me to restart if I stood up and moved around.

So over all the years and millions and millions and millions of words, I have never hurt myself writing as so many writers do. I have a desk that is perfect height for my hands and arms and shoulders and legs. I have support under my wrists, not some stupid laptop reach that kills so many wrists and hands.

And yeah, yeah, I know about all the special keyboards. I can barely type on the one I have. And since I have not hurt myself or my wrists or my back or my arms in four decades, I’m staying with what I know.

The key if you are going to have fun writing and end up being more productive, be smart about it. Get a top chair, good support for your arms and wrists, and a monitor big enough to save eyestrain.

I’ve seen the “it will never happen to me” stupidity in this one area stop more promising writing careers. Pain is not fun.

So get a good writing situation and start training yourself to stand up and move around every hour. You’ll be far, far more productive if your hands and wrists and back feel healthy.

Photo on 2014-10-11 at 05.17

A picture of my writing computer and chair taken ten minutes ago from my internet computer. Notice that the chair has all sorts of bells and whistles and I have perfect back support and head rest support. The arms of the chair are adjustable and curl inward and support my entire arm. I have a wrist support in front of the keyboard and two huge screens. The mouse is on the same level as the keyboard as well.

I can sit there and move nothing except my fingers and be perfectly supported.

The painting over my head is the original oil painting from Barkley Shaw of my first novel cover. The area on the other side of the computer is full of research books.

This blog is now over a thousand words, my brain is shutting off, and I’m going to bed. 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
Day 10… 4,200 words. Total words to date…. 19,500 words
Day 11… 3,250 words. Total words to date…. 22,750 words

——–

Totals For Year 2, Month 3, Day 10

– Daily Fiction: 3,250 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 15,900 words  

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

– Blog Posts: 1,050 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 7,750 words

– E-mail: 17 e-mails. Approx. 500 original words. E-mails month-to date: 256 e-mails. Approx. 6,700 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

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Writing in Public: Year 2, Month 3, Day 9

Year 2, Month 3, Day 9 of this Writing in Public challenge.

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

Finally back on track with a decent day writing. But some weird and fun stuff along the way today.

I rolled out around 12:30 p.m., early again, and made it to lunch with Kris at 1:30 p.m. to do some planning on various stuff. Then I headed to one of our local bookstores where I was meeting the moving guys to move the big book collection I was buying.

By 4:30, we had one truck full and about half of it moved to the WMG offices. We decided to do the other half on Saturday afternoon. At least two truck-loads as I expected.

So Kris and I went up to talk with the fine folks at WMG for a time, then headed home. Then at 6 p.m. we headed back out for dinner with a couple of other professional fiction writers. Great fun.

I went back up to the WMG offices to record one of my Poker Boy short stories with Jane in the audio department at 8 p.m.. Then I made it home around 9 p.m.  I did e-mail for an hour, then crashed out in the living room in my reading chair.

Kris woke me up an hour later and we went and watched some television. So finally, about midnight, I made it back into this office.

I did a little more e-mail, then around 12:15 a.m. I finally moved to my writing computer with my oldies program turned down low and a glass of iced tea in my hand. Window was open but the ocean was silent.

I did one session of 1,100 words by 1 a.m., took a short break to get more tea and a breakfast bar, and went back at it.

By 2 a.m. I had another 1,050 words. And I had realized that what I thought was going to be a single viewpoint novel wasn’t. Sigh.

So after a short break to get more tea, I went back to the front and wrote a brand new chapter two, from the other viewpoint. (Previous chapter two became chapter three.) My three previous Thunder Mountain novels had been alternating viewpoints between two characters and this book screamed for that structure as well. Just took me a while to realize it. (grin)

That I added in 950 words by 3 p.m. Another short break.

Then with a spoonful of peanut butter and a glass of sparkling water instead of tea, i went at the new chapter four.

I did 1,100 words on that by 4:20 a.m. and said that was enough for the night.

4,200 new words. A good restart after a couple of weeks of just flat life craziness.

Topic of the Night: Resting between projects.

This is going to be one of the new myths in Killing Ten More Sacred Cows of Publishing, which I will start putting up here as soon as I have the cover. I was reminded of this by a good question on last night’s blog.

The myth goes like this: I have finished a novel or a short story. I need to let my poor brain rest and recharge.

Sometimes, yes. Kris rested one entire week before going back to writing after finishing that huge eight book Retrieval Artist saga of over a million words. She had made herself plan to take a few weeks, up to three, but I knew that wasn’t possible. Kris is a writer. She writes and that’s what she does. After a million word saga, I could see her taking a week. But she barely made that. I know my wife. (grin)

But most of the time, needing to rest or recharge after a normal project is just the critical voice finding a very, very creative way to stop you from producing more work. It’s a myth built in our society from people who stand on the sidelines and think writing is magic and hard. And if it’s hard, if you actually accomplish it, then you must need to rest when finished. Your poor brain must just be taxed to the limit.  Let me simply say, “Snort.”

I just finished with the first full productivity workshop and didn’t mention this in the workshop, just because I didn’t work it in anywhere. I had more important things to talk about, honestly.

But this one is a nasty myth. It hurts writers in a number of ways and kills productivity. First off, it makes writing “important” in a writer’s mind. So “important” that by simply writing, you need to rest.

Uhhh… isn’t writing what you come home from work to do for fun?

Also, the creative voice just flat doesn’t need rest. It just loves to play. Another reason I just laugh at people who say they have “Writer’s Block.”  No, they have fear issues and haven’t figured out that if they are stuck on one project, they can move to another.

There is such a thing as project block, but never writer’s block. Writers are people who write. Period. Projects come and go. The writing continues.

The third thing this really hurts is if you stop, you have to restart. Starting is always the hardest. Which is why I try to never stop. I hate starting. I often need rest from all the whining I do when starting up. I know Kris needs rest from it. (grin)

So check in with yourself and see if you have fallen for the “got to rest myth” that is so nasty to productivity.

Remember, writing is fun. And if you can’t get rid of the “need to rest” myth after all that hard work of sitting alone in a room and making stuff up, then plan two weeks per year off, just as you would do with real work. That might make you more productive and kill the myth a little bit.

Writing is not hard. Writing is fun.

Writing is what you do when you are resting.

——–

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
Day 10… 4,200 words. Total words to date…. 19,500 words

——–

Totals For Year 2, Month 3, Day 8

– Daily Fiction: 4,200 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 12,650 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: 11 e-mails. Approx. 400 original words. E-mails month-to date: 239 e-mails. Approx. 6,200 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

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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

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One Week Until November Online Workshops

Only one week to sign up for online workshops in November. 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.

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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

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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