Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing,  Writing in Public

Starting September

Starting September

Well, we were stunned today when the new Kickstarter Fiction River subscription drive hit its base goal in 23 hours. Wow!!!  And Thank You! We love what we do with Fiction River. In the last four years it hasn’t always been easy, but we are so proud of the end product and working with all the fine editors on the volumes.

And we are going onward without pause. And doing new stuff. So if you want to get some great original fiction, click on the image to the right and check out the discounts on the Fiction River Kickstarter Subscription Drive.

Writing Workshops and Books in Kickstarter

New Kickstarter Fiction River subscription campaign has a number of writing related awards. Six writing books by me and Kris, either paper or electronic at a discount. Plus a discount on a lecture, a discount on a six-week workshop, and a discount on 3 different six-week workshops.

Plus, one reward where I will take you, your friends, a made-up character, anything you want within reason and put it in a short story for Fiction River. Not just once, but three different characters in three different stories. That will be fun and a challenge for me.

Less Than One Week

September workshops start in less than one week. And there is still room in all of them including the new Speed workshop.

If you haven’t taken a workshop from us before, start with Depth. Maybe the most important workshop we have done for your writing.

Topic of the Night: Exercise

Some of you may have noticed that I have been reporting my streak here of getting over 10,000 steps. Actually I have been trying to hit five miles per day and have done that every day since the first of July. No miss. Took some time out of every day, but I spent the time.

Since July 1st I have lost 16 pounds by also watching what I am eating. Not dieting, just reduced intake and moving to healthier stuff. And basically no breads. That’s stunning how much that helped.

So now, on time here on the first of September, I am starting to add in running. Very slowly and very carefully, but adding it in. So on top of making sure I hit the base five mile goal of walking every day, I will start below adding in my running miles.

Not much at the start because I will run/walk a bunch, but I will count the running miles as well as the total miles for the day and record them below. It will only be a few miles per week these first few weeks, then climb up to over twenty miles running into October.

Now, for those of you new into this writing business, the one thing you can’t imagine is how really hard this profession is on your body. Especially if you are not sitting correctly. And not getting up and moving around every hour.

One thing I have watched over the years is writer after writer be forced to stop writing because of physical injury. Always sad for the writer and also very, very painful.

Before July I was 65 years old and way, way out of shape and overweight, so I needed to get back into shape and hold that going forward.

Kris has been doing a fantastic job now for a number of years of getting into shape and running. You want to see how we look now, just watch the Kickstarter video. Shows us over 4 years.

I have lost about 60 pounds since my heaviest ten years or so ago. When I am finished with all this, I’ll put up a before and after picture.

My point to all this…

In July I mentioned I had set myself a challenge I would talk about a little on September 1st. Well, it’s September 1st

Now understand, normal challenges don’t much interest me and can’t keep my attention. If something doesn’t seem flat impossible, I will shrug and walk away.

So to get back into shape, I needed a challenge that seemed, on the surface to be just stupid, impossible on the next level down. Well, in June, Kris mentioned a run to me that made sense to the stupid and impossible part of my sick brain.

So I sat down and figured out how it might be done, if I was really stupid. But I might be able to do it and I could keep track of it because it was only four plus months long.

So at 65, out of shape, solidly in the overweight category by any measurement, and with really bad knees, I signed up for the Las Vegas Marathon in November.

26 miles plus a few hundred yards or so. And it must be done in 5 hours because they have to close the course and let cars back on the road.

The marathon is run in the evening on the Strip. Yes they close the Strip and it’s a Rock and Roll Marathon, so a band every mile or so. Should be a blast!!

Even when doing something head-shakingly stupid, I plan out my attack. I figured I had to hit every day over five miles of walking and I had to lose two pounds a week. (Missed that goal by 2 pounds.)  And I had to do that for two straight months before I would consider the next step.

I have been adding in 1/8th mile run segments, but at this weight I still have to be careful. But tomorrow, I have to start slowly bringing in the running. And keep the weight dropping.

I would like to start the marathon 20 pounds lighter than I am right now, which is possible over ten weeks. The challenge of the next two plus months is to just get to the starting line without injury. I will be 66 years old at that point and at a healthy weight for my height.

One thing that might make this make a tiny bit more sense. I ran cross country in high school for three years. When I came out of the first year or so of law school when I was about thirty, I had gained almost 40 pounds (from doing nothing but sitting, eating, and studying). In four months I lost all that weight and ran a marathon and finished it.

The only one. I did it in 4 hours and 30 minutes or so if I remember. I won’t beat that time in November.  Not even going to try. But I still have to go fast enough that they won’t kick me off the course.

I really haven’t done any running in the last 36 years, but the training is still there. Or I hope like hell it is. (grin)

So that’s what I will be reporting on over the next ten weeks besides the writing and other fun stuff.

Exercise, it really is critical to writing, and staying at a good weight is also critical. Especially as you get older and want to keep writing, which I plan on doing.

So, if nothing else, this could be interesting. It might be funny. We shall see. Onward.

September Online Workshops

They start on Tuesday!!!

Click the workshop tab above for description and sign-up or go to

Questions about any of the workshops, feel free to write me. There is room in all of them at the moment.

Class #21… Sept 6th … Author Voice
Class #22… Sept 6th … How to Write Thrillers
Class #23… Sept 6th … Speed
Class #24… Sept 6th … Writing Mysteries
Class #25… Sept 6th … Character Development
Class #26… Sept 7th … Depth in Writing
Class #27… Sept 7th … Advanced Character and Dialog
Class #28… Sept 7th … Cliffhangers
Class #29… Sept 7th … Pacing Your Novel
Class #30… Sept 7th …Expectations (Writing on the Rails)

Totals For Year 4, Month 1, Day 31

Writing in Public blog streak… Day 1,077

Over 10,000 steps streak… Day 62

— Daily Fiction: 00 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 67,400 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total:1,900 words 

— Blog Posts: 900 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 12,700 words

— E-mail: 14 e-mails. Approx. 1,100 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 513 e-mails. Approx. 35,200 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 0 Covers


— Year of Short Fiction Goal: 120 stories (July 1st to June 30th). Stories finished to date: 8 stories.

— Yearly Novel Goal: 12 Novels. Novels finished to date: 2 novels.


You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more as time goes on. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.


  • Jason M

    I love your goals, Dean — thanks to your example, I’m ghosting a novella in eight days from an outline, just to see if I can do it the way you do.

    But running a marathon is stupid at any age. It does nothing but damage the body, particularly the knees, and it sounds like you don’t need any more of that.

    Try a mini-triathalon instead. Swim half a mile, bike 20 miles, run three miles. Much more doable, much less impact on your body. Plus it’s something you’ve never done before.

    • dwsmith

      Hate bikes. And where I live they are death traps. Thought about that. But the bike part just stops me cold. About fifteen years ago Kris and I went and bought two brand new bikes from a bike shop here in town (now long out of business). I rode it home. Gave it away ten years later. Never rode it again. Kris rode for a while until a car almost hit her and she broke an elbow.

      And actually, marathons don’t hurt you. You’ve listened to too many myths on that one.

  • Jes

    I love reading your challenges, simply makes me happy. I like how well thought out it is even though it always sounds a little nuts.
    I agree bicycles are death traps – I’ve know one person to die, another with brain damage (yes even wearing a helmet), and just recently someone struggling with possible permanent paralysis. Really tragic and sad. Not worth it.
    I agreed writing takes a physical toll. I’m glad for your sake and for Kris’ you are taking care of yourself. She’ll want you around for a long time.
    Good luck with your challenge– and have fun!

  • Prasenjeet

    Hi Dean. Great to know that you’re losing weight! Well done. But remember that the real challenge is to maintain your weight (once it is down) and not to go back. Fortunately, I have been exercising regularly (5 days in a week and NOT counting the 5 mile long walks I take every morning and evening). I bring the same attitude to my writing career. The best part of being a writer is that I can have my own schedule. There is no boss on top of me who just hands over work when I want to exercise. Every evening at 5:30 I stop and work out. And I am only 31. Have a nice day! 🙂

    • dwsmith

      This was weight I gained over thirty years, a pound or two a year as I got older. So yeah, not going back once I get it down.

      • Prasenjeet

        Amazing! How a pound or two a year can make anyone overweight or obese overnight! (30 years). That’s the power of compound effect. I am assuming the same thing happens with book royalties as well. Those one or two sales a year should not be scoffed at! (grin)

  • Jo

    I’ve had to move to a standing desk and prioritize exercise to #1, even before writing, due to spinal problems.

    I can sit down IF i’m leaning back. Like lying in bed reading or back in an easy chair.

    It’s pretty bad. I don’t know if it will ever get better, or just keep getting worse.

    Being obese doesn’t help. I’m assuming losing weight will help everything. At 300+ pounds it’s probably the first thing I should worry about.

    • dwsmith

      Ughh, Jo, does not sound like fun at all. Back problems are just horrid by any measure.

      And yeah, the weight loss will help the back. When I was up around 260 I had some days I literally couldn’t move off the couch my back was so bad. Turns out I learned about five years ago that from the days of skiing and golf I had crushed the bottom four vertebrae in my back. My weight was causing the problem on those and as I lost weight the back pain eased. But it was flat crippling and I know a lot who suffer from it. So hang in there.

  • D S Butler

    Thank you for sharing your challenges, Dean. I’ve been following your blog for a while now and love reading your posts about writing and publishing myths and your writing challenges. Today’s post really hit home, though. I’m relatively new at publishing and never tried to go the traditional route so haven’t had too many problems with the myths, but one of my major flaws is wanting everything done yesterday.
    I can write a lot in one day, but if I don’t have time to reach my five thousand word goal, I feel frustrated with myself. I have a tendency not to bother to fit in a twenty-minute writing session because I know I’ll only be able to get five hundred words or so. Reading your posts over the last couple of years has made me realise how those small writing sessions add up. It sounds obvious, but my mindset is very much all or nothing.
    I want ten thousand word days and to lose 40 pounds in two months. But life doesn’t work like that, and I’m finally starting to see that it is consistency that delivers results in the long-term.
    I hope you meet this new marathon challenge. No matter what happens, aiming for a challenge like this means you will end up lighter and healthier than when you started.