Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Novel Four: Day One


(As a reminder, the overall monthly challenge is to write four novels and gain distance every week on my step count, starting the first week at an average of 11,000 steps per day.)

Took the Day Away, Still Got Started!

After a meeting at WMG, Kris and I went into the valley to take time away. Felt great. No screens.

And came back around eleven and got going on the novel. Really got going. See below.

The Day Went Like This…

Got up at 1 p.m., did some e-mail and got to a WMG meeting at 2:30.

At around 4 p.m. Kris and I headed into Salem. Beautiful drive. We left the 60 degree temps for the 90 degree temps, but honestly it felt good.

I dropped Kris off at a theater because there was a movie she wanted to see that I didn’t. I went picking.

I ran into a nest of scarves, enough to make a great display at our south store. (I buy them by the pound, they are very light. I spent maybe $3.00 for 40 scarves that we will sell for $5 each or more if some of them are silk or brand name. Pretty good mark-up. (grin)

I also found about ten bags of old golf clubs. Most were worthless, except for the old Persimmon Wood heads. Those are selling on eBay, depending on the maker for $25 bucks each or more. These are a little beat, so they will sell to fix up. I got thirty or so of them and a really nice carry bag that I stuck them in for around $20.  Going to be an interesting shipping challenge. (grin)

After the movie, Kris and I went out for a nice dinner and then headed home.

I did about an hour of e-mail, then got to the writing computer around midnight, just as I had hoped.

The Writing Went Like This…

I used a 1,400 word story start that didn’t work as a novel to get going, cycling back over that for an hour and changing everything to make it feel like a novel start. So basically all new words. Took me an hour. But the story start felt like the right place to start, so I used it.

Then at 1 a.m. after a short break I got up to speed and managed 1,500 words before taking a break right before 2 a.m.

Next session another 1,500 words. These are the characters I wrote in Ace High in January while in Vegas and I really like them, so it felt comfortable being back with them.

From 3 a.m. until 3:45 a.m. I did another 1,300 words. Break to get some celery and peanut butter and honey.

By 4:30 a.m. I had another 1,100 words. This novel seems to be going in larger chunks. Cool.

Then a short break and by 5:15 a.m. I hit a stopping point with another 500 words.

Not a clue where this book is going. I know I just twisted it up something awful in the first 7,000 words. (grin)

7,300 words in 6 sessions. 


Novel #1…The Writing of TOMBSTONE CANYON: A Thunder Mountain Novel

 Challenge Day 1… Words written… 6,600.  Total so far… 6,600 words.
Challenge Day 2… Words written… 6,700.  Total so far… 13,300 words.
Challenge Day 3… Words written… 6,100.  Total so far… 19,400 words.
Challenge Day 4… Words written… 6,200.  Total so far… 25,600 words.
Challenge Day 5… Words written… 6,200.  Total so far…, 31,800 words.
Challenge Day 6… Words written… 6,100.  Total so far…, 37,900 words.
Challenge Day 7… Words written… 3,200.  Final Total…, 41,100 words. (Novel count is 38,000)


Challenge Novel #2


Novel #2…The Writing of DEATH TAKES A DIAMOND: A Mary Jo Assassin Novel

 Challenge Day 8… Words written… 6,400.  Total so far… 6,400 words.
 Challenge Day 9… Words written… 6,100.  Total so far… 12,500 words.
 Challenge Day 10… Words written… 3,200.  Total so far… 15,700 words.
 Challenge Day 11… Words written… 2,900.  Total written so far… 18,600 words.
 Challenge Day 12… Words written… 3,100.  Total written so far… 21,700 words.
 Challenge Day 13… Words written… 6,100.  Total written so far… 27,800 words.
 Challenge Day 14… Words written… 3,300.  Total written so far… 31,100 words.
 Challenge Day 15… Words written… 6,200.  Total written so far… 37,300 words.
 Challenge Day 16… Words written… 6,500.  Final total written… 43,800 words. (Novel is no where near that long and might get shorter still after Kris reads it.)


Challenge Novel #3


Novel #3…The Writing of DRY CREEK CROSSING: A Thunder Mountain Novel

 Challenge Day 17… Words written… 3,100.  Total so far… 3,100 words.
 Challenge Day 18… Words written… 3,400.  Total so far… 6,500 words.
 Challenge Day 19… Words written… 2,900.  Total so far… 9,400 words.
 Challenge Day 20… Words written… 6,200.  Total so far… 15,600 words.
 Challenge Day 21… Words written… 6,300.  Total so far… 21,900 words.
 Challenge Day 22… Words written… 6,100.  Total so far… 28,000 words.
 Challenge Day 23… Words written… 6,000.  Total so far… 34,000 words.
 Challenge Day 24… Words written… 3,100.  Total so far… 37,100 words.
 Challenge Day 25… Words written… 3,300.  Final total writer… 40,400 words. (Novel is not that long.)


Challenge Novel #4


Novel #4…The Writing of BURN CARD: A Cold Poker Gang Mystery

 Challenge Day 26 … Words written… 7,300  Total so far… 7,300 words.


The Day Breakdown

5.5 hours writing… 7,300 words
.5 hours exercise plus normal movement… 6,200 steps
3 hours of work for workshops and e-mails and meetings and such.

The rest is television and cooking and travel and so on. Plus 8 hours of sleep. One 10 minute nap.


Days over 6,000 words… 16 of 26
Days over 11,000 steps… 11 of 26

25.5 hours of regular job work this week. Today is week day five.


Tracking Word Counts… July 26th, 2017
Writing in Public blog streak… Day 1,407

— Daily Fiction: 7,300 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 132,600 words  
— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 700 words
— Blog Posts: 900 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 12,700 words
— E-mail: 18 e-mails.  Approx. 900 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 794 e-mails. Approx. 46,900 words




All have openings at the moment. Information at

Any questions at all, feel free to write me. And if you are confused as to which workshop to take first, we have a full curriculum posted on its own page.

Class #13… Aug 8th … Depth #3: Research
Class #14… Aug 8th … Endings
Class #15… Aug 8th … Point of View
Class #16… Aug 8th … Writing Mysteries
Class #17… Aug 8th … Speed
Class #18… Aug 8th … Teams in Fiction
Class #19… Aug 9th … Depth in Writing
Class #20… Aug 9th … How to Edit Your Own Work
Class #21… Aug 9th … Character Development
Class #22… Aug 9th … Writing Secondary Plot Lines
Class #23… Aug 9th … Advanced Depth
Class #24… Aug 9th … Writing Fantasy


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  • Russ

    Dean – I am really enjoying reading about your progress through 4 novels in a month. You are an inspiration to writers. Thank you. Hey, could you add some photos of Lincoln City or Salem, OR, to your blog post sometime. I used to visit Oregon every year while my brother lived there for 8 years. I miss seeing it. Oregon is so beautiful.

    • dwsmith

      It took about two hours, Jessica. Annoying to me because I hate going back to the start of a book and running through it and my creative voice was getting impatient to finish. But I had reached a point near the end where suddenly I saw the ending and the point of the book. But I knew there was a ton of stuff back earlier where I had just sort of drifted and put in things that never panned out in the actual ending when I got to it.

      So with the ending in mind, I went back to the start and ran through the book, just focusing all the details at the ending, cutting out what didn’t need to be there anymore, and adding in some stuff that did. All in creative voice, all with the idea of focusing the story to a certain ending. This is that wonderful trick of being unstuck in time in your novel. When you know how it is going to end, you go back and put in all the foreshadowing for the reader earlier, then the reader thinks you are really smart because they all think you wrote it from word one to the the last word like they read it. Nope.

      So after I spent those two hours, I just ran at the ending I had focused at, and the book wrapped up nicely.

      For those of you who think every word you write is sacred, this method must seem horrid because books often get shorter when you focus them. Oh, oh, “wasted” words. (Snort)

      • Mike


        I’d be curious to know, from a tactical perspective, how you identified the areas where you wanted to focus. I know you reverse outline, so you can easily see what’s happening in each chapter. Did you just go back through and re-touch on those chapters where something related to the ending was happening? Or did you really go all the way back through and just scan for those areas?

        I did that with the recent one on the challenge (all the way back). It was a total PITA so if there’s a better way, I’d love to hear it haha.

        • dwsmith

          Once I knew the ending, I just cycled back to the start and made sure the details were in place and the bits that went the wrong way or foreshadowed something else were either removed or toned down. Again, for the entire book it only took me a couple hours but yes, I did have to scan it, even though I did have my reverse outline. Annoying and thankfully I don’t have to do that every book. Just depends on how it all falls together in the writing.