Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Novel One: Day Seven…Finished

All Done with Novel 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.)

The Day Went Like This…

Did about an hour of e-mail and then got out the door a little after 3 p.m. I did some business errands and then got to the WMG offices around 3:30. All the same as yesterday. Then I packed up some stuff for the south store and took it out there.

Then worked with Allyson on some covers. I found a piece of art that made me think of my Mary Jo Assassin series, so thought I might do that book next, so Allyson did me a cover for the book that is way cool.

I have no idea at all what the book will be about, but I am guessing there will be a diamond in it because the title is Death Takes a Diamond.

In case you never saw the very first Mary Jo Assassin novel, it was called Death Takes a Partner.

Cool covers, huh? I like how this series is looking. Thanks, Allyson.

So after I got done with the cover stuff, I worked at the office for two hours on workshop stuff, then I left the car at the office and walked home to get distance. A nap and then I cooked dinner. Then I walked back up to the WMG offices to get the car and then head to the grocery store for some supplies before making it back home.

Worked on some challenge reading and e-mail until around midnight, then went to the novel.


Not sure how to describe tonights writing sessions. I did five of them from midnight until 5 a.m.

I had, because of another time travel issue, go back to the start once again. Last night I was only about a chapter away from finishing, but good that I didn’t because of this new problem.

So I went through the entire book again, for the second time, something I really hate doing. I like cycling back, but not the entire damn book. But it had to be done because of dates and the math and other things I had wrong because of going one way but the ending needed another way.

I would say I took out just less than I wrote. I wrote about 3,200 original words, but the novel ended up only 38,000 words long. Only net 100 words for 5 hours.

But I’m going to count the words written, so I will count the 3,200 words new in five hours.

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)




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

 Challenge Day 8… Words written… 00.  Total so far… 00 words.

The Day Breakdown

5 hours writing… 3,200 words
1.5 hours exercise plus normal movement… 11,100 steps
5 hours of work for workshops and meetings and such.

The rest television, cooking dinner, and so on. Plus 7 hours of sleep. One nap.


Days over 6,000 words… 6 of 7
Days over 11,000 steps… 7 of 7
34 hours of regular job work in seven days


Tracking Word Counts… July 7th, 2017
Writing in Public blog streak… Day 1,387

— Daily Fiction: 3,200 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 41,100 words  
— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 00 words
— Blog Posts: 400 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 2,800 words
— E-mail: 21 e-mails.  Approx. 1,100 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 196 e-mails. Approx. 11,300 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 #1… July 11th … Depth #3: Research
Class #2… July 11th … Author Voice
Class #3… July 11th … Business
Class #4… July 11th … Endings
Class #5… July 11th … Writing Fiction Sales Copy
Class #6… July 11th … Writing and Selling Short Stories
Class #7… July 12th … Depth in Writing
Class #8… July 12th … Advanced Character and Dialog
Class #9… July 12th … Cliffhangers
Class #10… July 12th … Pacing Your Novel
Class #11… July 12th … How to Edit Your Own Work
Class #12… July 12th … Writing Fantasy

Depth #3: Research and Writing Fantasy are both new this month and will fill quickly.


You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Thanks for your support.


    • dwsmith

      Thanks. Allyson did them, I just found the art for the second one and then she made it fit.

      I think I have Allyson talked into doing another Cover Series Branding workshop like the last one. Four weeks long, where each person gets a template for a series cover from Allyson out of the workshop and she also helps you use the template to brand your series. We are thinking of Fantasy Series Branding this time. I will shout when it opens. (Last one sold out in less than two days.)

      • J.M. Ney-Grimm

        I think I have Allyson talked into doing another Cover Series Branding workshop like the last one.

        That’s awesome! I’m currently flat out of cash (a bunch of medical expenses due to a torn retina), but Allyson does amazing work, and her students are lucky to have her! 😀

  • K. Vale Nagle

    Congratulations on finishing your first book of the challenge early, Dean!

    I started trying your cycling method of writing this summer. I’ve been recovering from a pulmonary embolism so it helped to track my recovery using words per day. The good days get me around 2500 cycled and 2500 new words in two one-hour sessions. The bad days take longer, but I still aim for 2500 a day. I planned to start in June and then write the bulk of this novel over July’s Camp NaNoWriMo, but I finished it in the first few days of this month. Now it’s onto the sequel.

    One thing I thought you might find interesting is that getting a BA in creative writing taught me to write fast. I’d done a computer science degree in the past, so for creative writing I only had the 3000 and 4000 level workshops and reading classes. I’d often have a novella, four short stories, and an essay come due at the same time (while still working as a programmer). I didn’t have time to edit a milion drafts before turning it in. Professors would also talk about how crucial voice is and how it only comes from writing around a million new words. So when I read your book on Writing into the Dark, I thought: yeah, this is exactly what my degree prepared me for.

    • dwsmith

      I think you are the very first person to say that in my memory. Usually anyone with a creative writing degree must unlearn almost everything they were taught to actually be a professional storyteller. That’s because those that teach those programs are not storytellers, they are great teachers.

      So your unique way of looking at what you had to do is fun and refreshing and shows true perspective. Nifty.

      Also never heard of the thinking about critical voice only comes in at a million words. Most writers never make a million words in a career because their critical voices are turned on far, far too high and it won’t let them write anything. So that is strange as well.


      • K. Vale Nagle

        I could definitely talk about where the degree didn’t help (or confused) writing genre afterwards — I’d suggest a different path for anyone who didn’t want to spend any time on literary fiction. It was a class on literary publishing that made me go: hey, there’s a huge section of the industry missing from view. What IS going on out there? That brought me to the Passive Voice, KKR, Joanna Penn, and here.

        It was also weird to see so many people who loved writing but didn’t want to try to make a living at it. After each embolism I set a life goal: learn to write was the first. But this time, I’d like to write a hundred novels. I may or may not get an MFA or do Clarion or Odyssey when I recover more. But I’m definitely going to do what helps with that goal: put good words on the page and publish the novels as they finish.

        So, well, thank you.

        • dwsmith

          K., Vale, great goal and very possible. Now the key is have the goal out there and just focus on one at a time, then down to one day at a time. The key is it all adds up. Sometimes when you aren’t even looking. (grin)

          • dwsmith

            Kristine Kathryn Rusch. My wife. Major bestselling and award-winning writer. Kris for short. (grin)

  • JM6

    I found the last two posts very instructive. The temptation in setting a goal of X thousand words per day is to keep pushing forward, even knowing that you’ll have to go back later and fix things (as websites like NaNoWriMo seem to urge). These two posts clearly show that the STORY comes first and the world-count comes second. The STATED goal was to write four novels by writing X number of words per day. The TRUE goal is to COMPLETE four novels, not to write four “first drafts” with a certain number of words. The word count is just a handy guide to push the novel along. That’s why ignoring the word count when it became necessary to go back through to fix the novel (twice) was the right move.

    You seem to understand that quite well. As a much less experienced writer, I have to be sure I’m properly stating the ACTUAL goal (finished stories) to avoid pursuing the WRONG goal (just get words on the page). I’ve pursued the wrong goal before and wound up with dross it was too much effort to edit. (I think the phrase is “polishing a turd.”)

    Anyway, however the rest of the month goes, thank you for that insight.

    • dwsmith

      JM6, exactly. Well put. I honestly hadn’t thought of that since I write finished copy and I know the myth is that you are supposed to write sloppy. So for me, the entire focus is exactly as you said, to finish four novels this month. The word count was after the goal was set. I figured if I average near 6,000 words a day, that would get me to my normal novel length of 40,000 words.

      So I set the goal, then did the math and set the word count to hit the goal. Thanks for saying that so clearly.

  • Thomas E

    K, I guess from my perspective I got the same things from a software engineering degree that you did from a creative writing degree:
    1. It made me write a lot, to very tight deadlines
    2. Lecturers wanted clear writing that explained very complex ideas.

    The difference is:
    1. It was taught exclusively by people who had made a living in the industry.
    2. It was business focused. It taught me about copyright, corporate law, and contract law.
    3. There was an expectation that work should be done right first time and on deadline.

    First job or of uni I was expected to write all the business processes for a piece of software (Three book length manuscripts) In a month.

    I guess what I’m saying is a creative writing degree done with the intention of people actually making a living at writing would look very different from what we get today..

    (I’m basically spending a degree worth of money on my writing but doing it over a longer period taking workshops from bestselling writers)

    • dwsmith

      Exactly, Thomas. A Creative Writing Degree is to teach teachers, not professional writers. A valid program, just wrong if you want to make a living with your fiction.

      Basically what we are doing here with our workshops and lectures is exactly what Kris and I feel should be offered in a real degree for becoming a professional fiction writer. We didn’t intend that when we started this, but it has sure turned out that way. (grin)