Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Wrap Up and Start New


The few of you who jumped into the May short story challenge are starting up. Remember to have fun. Still two spots open if anyone wants me to read their short stories.  And a number of spots open in the novel challenge starting in June. Information on both the short story challenge and the novel challenge with me as a first reader is below.

I finished my challenge last night of 30 short stories in 30 days and the final cover is done below. After I finish the next chapter of the Magic Bakery, I’ll do the blurbs for those stories and post them in one blog. Later in the week. Stay tuned.

Tonight after a ton of workshop stuff and having a wonderful dinner with a friend from out of town, I got to my writing computer and pulled up the novel I had stopped on months ago. It is called Heaven Painted as a Sunset: A Ghost of a Chance Novel.

I started at the first page and went through it and spotted exactly where I had gone sideways. That was at 16,500 word mark. I cut the rest out into another file and sat down and got 1,100 words done on the book, powering forward.

So going on the novel now.

And tomorrow I go to five miles per day on the exercise. Only made four today.



There are two of them now if you want me to be your first reader. 

30 short story challenge is starting either on May 2nd or June 1st. Your choice. Write 30 short stories in 30 days or 60 days. I have exactly six people signed up to try it. Three in May, three in June. Room for a few more crazy writers who want to get some stories done (as I am just finishing). Information, cost, and rules at

Novel a Month for three months challenge is starting June 1st.  Someone mentioned math. The minimum length for the three books is 30,000 words, so even if you didn’t get a half-book head start in May, you would have to write minimum only 90,000 words in three months, about 1,000 words per day, or about an hour for most. But it will get you three done in three months. I will limit this to five or so at the most, so don’t delay if interested. Information at

Again, I will be your first reader on both challenges. And both have bail-out points. See the rules on the links. Ask if you have questions.



I sent out all the letters Saturday for anyone signed up on the May online workshops. List below. If you think you are signed up and didn’t get a letter from me tonight, write me.

And all the workshops start on Tuesday and Wednesday and room in all of them. Even the new editing one.


Here are all the story titles, lengths, and covers for the April challenge. 

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
Story #9… April 9… Blind Date …4,100 words
Story #10… April 10… Keep Hoping for a New Tomorrow …1,700 words
Story #11… April 11… That Old Tingling …3,200 words
Story #12… April 12… The Last Man …2,500 words
Story #13… April 13… Smile …2,700 words
Story #14… April 14… Always a Way …4,000 words
Story #15… April 15… A No-Win Hand …1,800 words
Story #16… April 16… Habit …2,000 words
Story #17… April 17… A Thief of Regrets …4,600 words
Story #18… April 18… In the Dream of Many Bodies …1,400 words
Story #19… April 19… Wings Out …2,200 words
Story #20… April 20… Delightfully Dizzy …1,700 words
Story #21… April 21… An Immortality of Sorts …2,300 words
Story #22… April 22… Tombstone Canyon …2,600 words
Story #23… April 23… Hidden Canyon …4,300 words
Story #24… April 24… A Lady in Heat …2,400 words
Story #25… April 25… A Look at His Heart …3,900 words
Story #26… April 26… Black Coffee …4,000 words
Story #27… April 27… A Missing Sister Dream …2,600 words
Story #28… April 28… Lost Time …3,100 words
Story #29… April 29… Whistle for Help …2,200 words
Story #30… April 30… Obvious Creeper …2,200 words

(Plus seven novel starts…)


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 … How To Edit Your Own Work (new)
Class #50… May 3rd … Plotting with Depth



The Writing of HEAVEN PAINTED AS A SUNSET: A Ghost of a Chance Novel

 Left off on January 5th before writing the book in Las Vegas. Left off at 28,500 words.

Cut back to 16,500 word mark. Restarted. 
 Day 1 (of restart)… Words written… 1,100.  Total so far… 17,600 words.


Tracking Running… May 1st, 2017
4 miles. Almost no running.
Weight 195. (Goal 170)
Month to date distance: 4 miles

Tracking Word Counts… May 1st, 2017
Totals For Year 4, Month 10, Day 1 (Year started August)
Writing in Public blog streak… Day 1,320

— Daily Fiction: 1,100 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 1,100 words  
— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 00 words 
— Blog Posts: 600 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 600 words
— E-mail: 37 e-mails.  Approx. 2,400 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 37 e-mails. Approx. 2,400 words
— Short Fiction Goal: 120 stories (July 1st to June 30th). Stories to date: 38 stories.
— Novel Goal: 12 Novels. Novels finished to date: 5 novels.


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  • Ed Ryan

    Hey Dean

    When you say you cut the rest, how many words do you think you chopped off the end? I know you usually write ~40-50,000 words so 16k or so is a pretty significant ways into it for one of your books.

    Just curious how far past the left turn you had written

    • dwsmith

      Just put that in the blog, Ed. I just cut 12,000 words. I had it up near 28,000 words, but wow did I go a wrong direction. (grin)

  • Harvey

    Dean, just another gem to be mined from you on your Ghost of a Chance novel:

    “I started at the first page and went through it and spotted exactly where I had gone sideways. That was at 16,500 word mark. I cut the rest out into another file and sat down and got 1,100 words done on the book, powering forward.”

    Pure gold. Thanks.

  • Ellen

    Dean – where did you get the images of the same woman for all the Marble Grant covers in all those different poses? Do you have an artist that created all of them for you? They are great.

    • dwsmith

      Nope, just went to the artist’s portfolio and got them. Many I had to alter because of dialog bubbles or too close to the top or something like that. I sure like them. Perfect for that character.

  • Jack Giannis


    I recall reading about you making a run at this before, so I understand that you seeing a wrong turn and tossing out the future events is a regular procedure for your stage-four talent, but I believe everyone understanding they can do this at any level is just as important. As a (for lack of a better term) Into-the-Dark Cyclist unstuck in time, Creative You knew the way forward. Just toss the derailment aside. Instantly, no wreck happened. With the track switched back to a straight line, you plowed forward.

    Seeing a wrong turn, this is essential. But the what to do after this illusory wreck is the hurdle. The answer? Write the next sentence. This part needs to be taught, shouted from the rooftops. “Stirring the words can fix things” is one of the biggest myths–yet a terrifying roadblock–most writers face. I find it incredibly experienced and wise that you knew not to even try to rewrite those 12000 words (which you likely already perfected by cycling) in order to fix anything. My experience tells me it is also so basic. But it is a forgotten tool because of the myopia outlining and even cycling can cause, and where writers can get utterly lost as Plotters between the planning, the note-taking, the typing, the endless stirring. The root of this is fear.

    Thankfully, my Creative Muse taught me this tool early. The absolute fluidity of my process–realizing I was unstuck in time–perhaps made me a permanent Cyclist (man, that’s sure better term than Pantser or even Plotter, although we do lose the valuable hint of keeping the butt in the chair). Anyway, this is exactly what I did deep inside my third book years ago. Would have lost the story otherwise. I backed up in time, completely scraped several chapters, even switched viewpoint, then moved forward, eventually returning to the original vp and time, but arriving at completely different events. The true events. The discarded work was so unimportant when the story was right and done (though I still have those pages saved somewhere).

    Hopefully every adherent to our school of thought will recognize this experience in their process at some point as a priceless tool.

    We live in stories, so miraculously our Creative subconscious knows exactly what to do. Just write.


    • dwsmith

      Jack, spot on the money. I will delete those 12,000 words in that side file when I finish the novel.

      The problem to most early writers is the idea that everything they write is “precious” (Yes, like Lord of the Rings… (grin)) Beginning writers think of their words like Gollum thinks of the ring. And sadly, if in that state lasts too long, they morph into a Gollum-like writing figure, protecting their Precious (words).

      Words are just tools to tell a story. Code. Black marks on a page that create images in reader’s minds. Tools that can by tossed away when not working without issue.

      And realizing we do not have to write from word one to the last word is so freeing as to be unimaginable. Suddenly all the need for outlines is gone and writing into the dark with cycling becomes fun. It’s like being a reader with our own work. But we are all readers before we are writers, so that drive to write from word one to the end is powerful and thus makes words even more “precious” to writers not past the problem.