Challenge,  On Writing

Challenge Day One

Went Exactly As I Had Planned and Hoped…

I got up late, made it to my writing computer first thing at the crack of 11:30 am, walking right past my internet and email computer.  (I was so proud.)

I looked at my half-title pages and came up with a first half of a title.  “The Reason…”

Then I kept looking for a second half to collide with it and saw… “of Death.”

That hit me, so typed that into the title of my story template “The Reason of Death” and started the story.

Started off in a suburb, so figured it was going to be a Bryant Street story until Mary Jo appeared.

So I went back to the top and put the subtitle under the title: “A Mary Jo Assassin Story.”

Haven’t written one of those in years, so grabbed the second Mary Jo novel from my shelves and glanced at it and then went back typing. In 40 minutes with all that I got 640 words on the story and went to do email.

Wow did I waste a bunch of time today. Two naps, watched parts of two different football games, cooked two meals for me and Kris and just otherwise messed around. I had no feeling of hurry at all. I even spent an entire hour recording a workshop.

So about 4pm, I got back to the story. I added in the word “Curious” to the title so it is now “The Curious Reason of Death.”  In an hour I wrote just over another 1,000 words and broke to go take my second nap. (Not hung over since I don’t drink, just relaxed and tired.)

After dinner I watched more television, did more workshop stuff and email, then the second walk of the day to get my steps, then more recording, then more television.

(I ended up with almost exactly 5 miles in steps.)


Then finally at midnight I got back to the story and finished it at 1 am with a grand total words of 2.700 words. At 2,500 words I knew it would be a novel, but managed to go back and wrap it up into a short story.

But no doubt this will be a start of my next Mary Jo Assassin novel. I will just remove the last 300 words and go in a different direction. That’s fun to have happen on the very first short story of the year. Yay.

I also changed another word in the title. I changed “of” to “for” so the final title is “The Curious Reasons for Death.”

Took me 15 minutes total to find the art and do the cover for the story. I kind of like it.

So first day easy and a total success. Shocking!

Patreon Topic:

I will explain what I have done on Patreon in a day or so after I check a few things, but I think that I have completely redone the levels on Patreon and will be sending those of you who have supported my blog a number of things shortly. And there is now different levels to get not only all the stories in “raw” form every day or so, meaning what came off my computer, but also getting the Short Stories From (Month) books and Smith’s Monthly. Check out the different tiers now. I will start fulfilling everything shortly.

Still a work in progress. There are no new posts up there, but there will be shortly. And I am always open to suggestions from the more experienced. Check it out at


Still going on. Anything you want on there, just hit purchase and then put in the code YearEnd to get it half price.

And a new pop-up will be posted shortly. #57… Basic strategies of short fiction. (#56 will post tomorrow night.)



    • Frank Theodat

      Well done on Day #1, Dean! Exciting to watch another challenge.

      I just signed up for your Patreon. Always happy to support your indie work. Looking forward to seeing some of the stories as they come out.

      • dwsmith

        Thanks, Frank. Got to work with WMG tomorrow to make sure I am doing it right, then the stories will head out in “raw” form to backers on Patreon. Thanks.

  • Dave Raines

    Hi Dean, I was thinking about 2022 writing goals. I went back and read your 2018 blog post “making a living with short fiction.” You won’t keep your stories in the mail for two years, of course; you’re in a whole ‘nother space both as writer and publisher! But I wondered if, today, you’d still advise the rest of us to follow that advice.

    [ For your readers’ convenience: ]

    • dwsmith

      However long it takes to get through the top markets. Hitchcock’s takes a year I am told. And I would never worry about rejections. I would send the story out to be bought. If it comes back, bummer, send it again if there is another top market. If not, indie publish it. However long that takes.

    • dwsmith

      I wouldn’t consider a story under 2,000 words a short story. My normal length is 3,000 to 5,000 words. I doubt too many of them will go much past 7,000 words.

  • Wilson E. Clark


    Congrats on a successful start with your new challenge! I’ve enjoyed following your past challenges with “Stories from July” being a particular favorite from several years ago. I’ve also kicked off the new year with a renewed daily writing routine, and am looking forward to visiting your blog and finding out about each of your new short story adventures!

  • Vincent Zandri

    Nice work Dean. More proof that being prolific (and good) isn’t a full-time job by a long stretch of the imagination. I read a thread the other day in a FB group I belong to where a writer proudly displayed that she made $100,000 this year! Awesome and good for her. But her thread went on to include the $30K she spent on FB and Amazon ads, plus another $25K on production, plus who knows what. She also spent so much time in the chair that she now considers herself “fat” (her word), and unhealthy. In the end, she’s turning to the tradtional model going forward. Huh????

    I posted my own thread where I said, I write prolifically part time, leaving myself ample time to ski (I’m no longer a hot dogger like you, haha), fish, exercise a couple hours a day, write articles, and professional blogs, walk, hang out with friends, etc. And yet I still make a solid mid-five figures every year. So back to that $100K she made. Like I said, Good on her. But it’s not what you make, it’s what you keep. And it’s also about having fun and enjoying a nice quality of life. Otherwise, what’s the point????

    Anyway, my post struck a nerve…a very good nerve with lots of the writers who belong to the group who might not of otherwise chimed in…

    • dwsmith

      Exactly, Vincent. So many who brag about making huge money also spend huge money. And spot on about it’s not what you make, it is about what you keep. The reason I harp so much on writers learning business and copyright and enjoying their writing and their publishing. When writing isn’t fun and challenging, you are flat doing it wrong. Thanks for the post.