Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Story Number Eight…


In case a few of you are wondering, I sort of started another short-story-per-day challenge on the first of the month. Didn’t say much about it since I was also working on THE GREAT BUNDLE coast workshop and Strengths workshops. 

But I have been having fun at this new challenge and today got a few covers of the first seven. So here is my day and such about the writing.

Update on the last two day’s stories. 

Both of them plus the story tonight caused me some swearing and walking around the house muttering to myself. Not the stories, the evening and the writing. All three nights I started into what I thought would be a short story and quickly came to realize it will be a novel. 

Sigh… Fun, but really annoying when you are working on short story per day challenge.

So I did still manage to get stories both nights. Two nights ago I grabbed the 500 word start of a story I had began about twenty years ago. I reworked the opening with a cycle and with no idea where it was going, I ended up with a 2,200 word story called “The Last Short Putt of a Fearful Man.” Yup, a golf story.

Kris said it worked.

Last night after about 1,500 words on what will be a novel called Drawing Dead: A Cold Poker Gang Mystery I put that aside and did a very short story called “The Wait.”

Kris called it creepy and that it would sell. (But it will be in Smith’s Monthly. And maybe a book called Stories from April. We shall see.)


Spent a bunch of time either walking for exercise or doing covers at WMG for these short stories. Of the covers below Allyson did the Poker Boy cover, since she does them all. You get an idea from that cover what the rest of them will be when we get them all done, all 35 of the Poker Boy stories and novels, and relaunched.

Got home, cooked dinner, did e-mail, then set to work very early for me on the night’s story. Again I thought it would be a short story. And alas, it was clear after almost 2,000 words it was not. So Bellman Falls: A Thunder Mountain Novel went over into the novel starts and up on my board. Five pretty major novel starts from this challenge so far.

At 1 a.m. I went to my sheet of half titles and smashed together “Through the…” and “For Sale Sign for a story titled “Through the For Sale Sign.”

It was in a subdivision, so figured it was Bryant Street, and started writing.

At 2 a.m. I took a nap and Kris woke me up forty minutes later. Grogged around until after 3 a.m., then with a bowl of Rice Chex, I went back to writing.

800 words and another short break and then finished the thing bay 5 a.m. at 2,500 words.

Story number eight in eight days.

Here at the Covers and Stories

Story #1… April 1… Not Easy to Kill the Light Next Door… 1,700 words 
Story #2… April 2… A Reason to Play a Hunch… 3,200 words 
Story #3… April 3… A Deal at the End of Time… 3,000 words
Story #4… April 4… A Nice Place for Murder… 3,400 words
Story #5… April 5… The Five Roads Tavern and Eatery …3,200 words
Story #6… April 6… The Last Short Putt of a Fearful Man …2,200 words
Story #7… April 7… The Wait …1,200 words
Story #8… April 8… Through the For Sale Sign …2,500 words

(Plus five novel starts so far…)


May ONLINE Workshops 

All May online workshops are available and have openings.

ALSO, the workshop schedule through August is now posted. You can sign up ahead for any workshop you want through August.

So for information on how to sign up, go to…

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 #41… May 2nd … Author Voice
Class #42…  May 2nd … Business
Class #43…  May 2nd … Endings
Class #44…  May 2nd … Writing Fiction Sales Copy
Class #45…  May 2nd … Writing and Selling Short Stories
Class #46…  May 3rd … Depth in Writing
Class #47… May 3rd … Advanced Character and Dialog
Class #48… May 3rd … Cliffhangers
Class #49… May 3rd … Pacing Your Novel
Class #50… May 3rd … Plotting with Depth


Tracking Running… April 8th, 2017
4 miles. No running.
Weight 194. (Goal 170)
Month to date distance: 31 miles

Tracking Word Counts… April 8th, 2017
Totals For Year 4, Month 9, Day 8 (Year started August)
Writing in Public blog streak… Day 1,297

— Daily Fiction: 3,600 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 19,700 words  
— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 1,000 words 
— Blog Posts: 500 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 4,600 words
— E-mail: 12 e-mails. Approx. 1,100 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 197 e-mails. Approx. 13,900 words
— Short Fiction Goal: 120 stories (July 1st to June 30th). Stories to date: 16 stories.
— Novel Goal: 12 Novels. Novels finished to date: 5 novels.


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  • Colleen

    Oh, thanks, Dean – LOVE the covers! My favorite, I think is A Nice Place for Murder. Or maybe The Wait. Might be Not Easy to Kill… Hmm. Guess I just like them all! (Note that you call it The Last Short Putt, but the cover says “Shot Putt.”) Thanks again, I always love seeing your covers!

  • allynh


    I know that this will sound crazy, but I suggest that when you hit “novel” that you simply take the week and finish it, rather than setting it aside. Then calmly write the next story that comes to you, be it short or novel.

    Based on reading your blog, as long as you focus on writing short stories in a day, and be flexible in the result, that you will generate more than enough short stories even if interrupted by the occasional novel. HA!

    • dwsmith

      Yeah, I would normally do that but the challenge of a short story per day is fun and I would like to have a second book in the series. Stories from July and Stories from April. Maybe in ten years I’ll have an entire year worth of stories in books. That would be fun.

  • J. D. Brink

    Dean, question:
    I’m sure you have your plan and everything, but when you say that Kris said the one story would sell… Given that you’re goal is to generate enough short stories to go around anyway, wouldn’t it be helpful, if you happen to have produced a story that another market would consider, to go ahead and float that story out first? To possibly get new eyes on your work that might find it in one of those magazines, kind of get paid to promote in another channel?
    You certainly don’t need the “discoverability” the way most of us do, but what’s the harm, even where you are, in tapping into another channel once in a while?

    • dwsmith

      J.D., no harm at all and that’s what I teach others to do. You have outlined the absolute best route. And I suggest everyone follow what you said.

      However, as we are all different, I am a different writer. And I have been through the magazine wars and edited numbers of them as well. At one point I had over seventy different short stories in the mail to major magazine markets. Been there, got the rejections, got the checks, got the award nominations, everything.

      So for me it was all a game and one everyone writer should play. But I am almost 67 years old, don’t need to play it any more since I put up all my stories stand-alone and have my own magazine and collections and so on. My stories pull more readers back to my stories. And I like that.

      Again, you are right. I SHOULD do what you suggest. And I teach all younger writers to do that. I mailed out my first short story to a magazine in 1974. 43 years ago. Bought the tee-shirt.(grin)

      By the way, at my last attempt to count, I sold 106 novels to traditional publishers and just under 200 short stories to traditional markets where I mailed off a story. I tell writers when they reach that level they have the option to do it a different way as well. (grin)