Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Novel Three: Day One

Decided On Thunder Mountain Novel for #3…

(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.)

Wow, is this place silent. Clearly this challenge is driving people into a stupor, but I’m going on posting here anyway and having fun with the writing.

And even more interesting is that the Fantasy Series Branding Workshop with Allyson Longueira didn’t fill up yet. Learn to brand fantasy series and get a template from one of the best designers working and not even 12 people want to sign up? Sort of shocked me. Guess we really are in the center of the “time of great forgetting.”

Anyway, onward.

The Day Went Like This…

I made it to the WMG offices just at 3 p.m. after doing an hour of e-mail. Worked there and then went out to the south store for a time and then back to WMG to work on workshop stuff until after 7 p.m.

I got another of the Classic workshops moved over to Teachable. Character Voice is now there. So with all the lectures, there are now four or five classic workshops and more going that way.

Got home around 7:30 p.m., took a nap, cooked dinner, and came in here to work on workshop assignments and also read some challenge stories.

Made it to my writing computer an hour late at 1 a.m.

Up until I sat down, I didn’t know what book I wanted to write. I had found a nifty piece of art for a Thunder Mountain book yesterday and came up with a great title, so Allyson did me a cover for it. Dry Creek Crossing: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

I love the title as well.

Then this afternoon I found a nifty piece of art for a Cold Poker Gang novel and tomorrow Allyson will do the cover for that. And I had a cover for another Mary Jo Assassin novel already done. No idea what any of the plots would be, but great covers.

So before I moved over to my writing computer, I looked up stagecoaches to refresh my memory because the art I found and the cover Allyson did has a stagecoach on it. Still didn’t know if I was going to do that or a Cold Poker Gang. I had a good image for the start of the cold poker gang in my head as well from a story I had already finished in that series.

As I started to move to my writing computer to sit down, the question popped into my head, “What happened if some workers in 2017 found the remains of a Concord Coach in a place it shouldn’t be?”

Cool, and I was off. I did 1,200 words in the first session before 2:30 a.m.

Took a short break, did another 1,000 words by 3:30 a.m., another short break to watch a little news, then back for another session of 900 words by 4:30 a.m.

Great start. No idea where the book is going, but I’m excited about it. And that’s all that matters. Got a hunch I’ll do the Cold Poker Gang novel next, after I get this one done. Then in August I’ll start off with the Mary Jo Assassin novel.

(And yes, I know, that is not a Concord Coach on the cover. Deal with it. (grin))

3,100 words in 3 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.  Total written so far… 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.

The Day Breakdown

3.5 hours writing… 3,100 words
0 hours exercise plus normal movement… 8,300 steps
8 hours of work for workshops and e-mails and meetings and such.

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


Days over 6,000 words… 11 of 17
Days over 11,000 steps… 10 of 17
Days over 12,000 steps… 3 of 10
Days over 13,000 steps… 0 of 1
19 hours of regular job work this week. Today is week day three.


Tracking Word Counts… July 17th, 2017
Writing in Public blog streak… Day 1,398

— Daily Fiction: 3,100 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 88,000 words  
— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 00 words
— Blog Posts: 400 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 8,000 words
— E-mail: 44 e-mails.  Approx. 3,600 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 519 e-mails. Approx. 32,000 words



NOW OPEN. Very limited. Still four spots open.

Taught by Allyson Longueira. You get a template out of it as well as learning.

See the post below this one for details. First come, first in.



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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  • J.R. Pearse Nelson

    That stagecoach cover is gorgeous! I bet I’m not the only one following this challenge in between all the summer busyness. 🙂 I’m enjoying how you find inspiration and follow your gut – or heart? – to your next novel. You keep choosing these complex novels. Great way to torture yourself. 🙂

  • J. D. Brink

    I do like that “inspired by cover art” method of writing. I definitely have found some cool would-be art that I’ve thought, “I need to write a story for this so I can use it!” I couple of those have been some really nice femme fatale sci-fi ninja girls. (You know, if you’re into that sort of thing… Actually, it’s not my go-to material, but I kind of wish it were ‘cuz those photos are really well done.)
    I’ve also kind of challenged myself to make use of mundane or off the wall titles and make stories out of them. I was cooking the other day and came up with “Garlic Press.” And actually might have a use for it!
    Fun stuff.

  • Harvey

    Not in a stupor so much as awed and pulling for you. I’ve never experienced the time of great forgetting since I started writing professionally. BUT I did just experience almost a month (17 June through 6 July plus 5 more days a few days later) when I seemed unable to write anything that interested me. It was hell. I never want to go there again. Had to go WAY back to remember “Just write the next sentence.”

  • Mark Kuhn

    Dean, no stupor for me. Between 8 AM and 9 AM I’m clicking and refreshing your blog everyday to see what you’re up to and how it’s going. Your blog fills me with inspiration, especially when the day was filled with nasty people at work jockeying for position, throwing people under the bus and outside customers being unsavory in how they speak. All this crap just opens the door for critical voice to assume his place on his own throne of bone, telling me I suck.
    But then I come to your blog, and then I look at my notes from your workshops, I re-watch a lecture.
    Then I look away from the screen and find creative voice sitting in the chair beside me. Sometimes he looks pissed. And then I ask, “Oh, there you are. Where’ve you been?”
    “Right here,” he says. “Are we gonna write some stories or what?”
    Kids. Huh?

  • Isabo Kelly

    Following along and loving this challenge, Dean! My kids are out of school and we have to cram in lots of travel and fun in just 2 months so haven’t been commenting on much. But I have loved watching this challenge. Glad you’re having fun with it so you’ll keep doing these in public (and breaking down myths!)

  • DS Butler

    I’ve been checking in every day, Dean. Your post goes live about lunchtime in the UK. Nice to see you busting past the halfway point and making it look easy. I’m glad to see the Character workshop is on teachable. I’ve been looking forward to taking that one.

    I did have one question: what genre are your Thunder Mountain books?

    • dwsmith

      Thunder Mountain genre? Well, that is the question that is a constant source of conversation around WMG. They are science fiction time travel romance western. Every one has a central couple romance as the focus, meeting, getting together, living happily ever after while dealing with traveling into the old west from a modern time. I like the western look, since that really is the focus of the series, so for now we have been going with it. We are working on a new branding since this is book #12 in the series, but so far not even Allyson or I have come up with anything any of us like better than the western brand.

  • Ed Ryan

    Great cover! I can;t speak for others, but I’m “watching” everyday and just soaking it in.

    Silly as it sounds, the break down at the end of the post always draws my eye the most ie:

    6 hours – work
    6 hours – writing
    8 hours – sleep
    4 hours – nap, dinner, dishes TV etc

    It’s a perspective thing… makes me put the 24 hour day in focus and analyze where I waste time…

  • James Husum

    I would love to take the Fantasy Cover Series Branding workshop. It is not lack of desire on my part, just lack of funds right now. So, hopefully you will do this again at some point in the future.

  • JM6

    It’s interesting to see where your priorities are as you do this. In terms of time spent, your life with Kris and your work come first. Writing is a clear second with prepping for the race a distant third, which is why that’s the one which loses out occasionally. (Your work is mostly writing-related but the writing itself takes second place to work, now, or so it seems.)

    Maybe you need to redefine your walk/run goal? In a previous post, I asked and you confirmed that the goal of your writing is four novels, which you would achieve by writing X words per day. The goal was not JUST x words per day. Your goal for walk/run is still listed as just x thousand steps per day. Maybe adding the long term goal to that reminder at the top of each post would keep that end goal, rather than the mere step count, in focus, and help you reach it?

    Just a thought.

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, JM, actually for me, family always comes first. The only reason that writing seems to come down the list is because I do it late at night. The order does not mean importance for me, just how it fits in the day. But lately the work part of things has taken up more effort and time than I thought it would. Nature of this time of the month with workshops and such. And still reading for the challenge.

      Exercise needs to be inconsistent, with day rests and such for the body to recover, so this is expected. If I looked at saying I wanted to do 10,000 steps times 31 days, I would look at the 310,000 number and just not get out of bed. (grin)

  • allynh

    Wow, is this place silent. Clearly this challenge is driving people into a stupor, but I’m going on posting here anyway and having fun with the writing.

    Remember, when wonders and miracles happen every day, that becomes the new norm.

    Each time I read Duma Key the characters, Edgar and Elizabeth, reach that point with the people around them.

    The local PBS station used to show Bob Ross painting. He would calmly do a painting in a half hour episode. No rush, no hurry, no drama. After a while I would watch the episode to feel that sense of calm.

    Bob Ross

    It is soothing to watch your numbers grow. HA!

  • Robin Brande

    It might be silent on your website, but I’m sure many, many people are eagerly tuning in every day just like I am! I love these challenges, Dean, and I love that you are giving us the day by day process on all of them. I get so much out of reading how you spend your days and how you are still able to write so much.

    So please don’t assume that just because we aren’t chiming in we aren’t riveted by your posts. I’m sure there are many, many, many lurkers…

  • D J Mills

    I am following, even if it is every second day I get time to read your daily output.
    Love both the Dry Creek Crossing title, and the image on the cover. Keep going. 🙂

  • Marsha

    Maybe some of us are quiet because you’ve inspired us to work harder. Me anyway.? I’m putting in long hours and having great fun. So many story ideas my head is spinning and my fingers can’t keep up. And of course all that heavy reading for Kris’s upcoming mystery workshop is keeping me awake late at night. . . .

  • Annie Reed

    Will you be moving the Plotting with Depth workshop over to the Classics? That’s one I’d still like to take someday.

    I’ve been enjoying your posts. Especially on the importance of giving yourself a day when you need it even in the middle of a challenge. I tend to forget that when I have low word count days, that’s just my brain telling me I need to recharge the batteries.

    • dwsmith

      Yup, it’s the next one to move. It’s a good workshop and we debated if it should move or not, but no one took it the last two times offered. Sort of one that slips down the cracks, even though it is a critical topic. Writers just don’t know it’s a critical topic. (grin)

      • Mary McKenna

        I’ve been wanting to take it. The last time you offered it though was the month before my husband deployed, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to work on it. Deployments mess me up so much; it’s six weeks after he left and I’m still trying to get back to my rhythm.

  • Sheila

    I’ve been reading too! Eagerly, attempting to sop up what I can learn since I apparently have a couple of novels to write.

    And, I’ve been busy getting stories to market.

  • Jim Johnson

    One of the lurkers chiming in. I read every day and am inspired every day, but don’t have a lot to say that wouldn’t be repetitive. Love the challenge.