Today’s not Monday, is it?

Man writing

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Just when I thought life couldn’t get any busier.

For some of you who have been reading this blog over the preceding years, you’ve noticed that I rarely miss publishing a post on Mondays. But in the frantic activity of the last week, Monday of this week was overlooked. I decided to take this opportunity to tell you why Monday didn’t get its appropriate respect this week.

The usual schedule for the counselorssoapbox blog has been a post every Sunday about a feeling related word. I try to include a picture that illustrates the idea along with some quotations featuring the word of the week. Some of these quotations are humorous, and some are insightful.

Monday has typically been reserved for a post on mental health, substance abuse, or having a happy life. I suppose skipping this week’s Monday post was my way of doing a little personal self-care.

Sometimes Wednesday features a Writing Wednesday post about my fiction and nonfiction books and my writing process. And when possible, the other days of the week might feature anything else; I’ve managed to write. I just never know what these will be until I get them finished.

There are new things in the works.

Starting next week, I will be teaching another class about drugs, alcohol, and substance use disorders, The topic, and the material are very similar to the way I’ve taught this class in the classroom in the past. But the content has been redesigned. Over the summer, I took a course on how to teach online and my class on The Effects Of Drugs And Alcohol On The Body and The Brain, also known as the Physical and Psychological Effects of Drugs, and sometimes called Chemical Dependency Counseling has been completely redesigned. If you’d like to look at the videos for this class, you will find them on my counselorssoapbox YouTube channel on the playlist SUD-CD. To get academic credit for the course, you would need to be enrolled through Fresno City College.

Two new novels are due to be published shortly.

I spent the first seven months of this year working on several new novels. Two of these novels are currently in the revision and proofreading stages. Since sometimes, the details change when I go to publish them. I will tell you more about them as we get closer to the publication date.

Both are in new genres. Having started my novel writing efforts so late in life, I’ve approached novel writing the same way most people approach relationships as a teenager. I tried to date as many genres as possible without getting married to anyone genre category.

Throughout my life, I’ve read widely, and I can’t say there’s any single category of book, either fiction or nonfiction, which doesn’t interest me. So, I must at least spend some time with some new genres in my writing.

One of the novels I plan to publish before the year is out will be a dystopian, post-apocalyptic novel about a country that takes over the control of social media to control the way people think. This novel is not necessarily connected to the recent COVID-19 pandemic or current political events. As a teenager, I thoroughly enjoyed reading both Utopian and dystopian novels. Brave New World and 1984 were two of my favorite books. The working title for this book is Story Bureau.

The second novel features a reporter exploring the paranormal phenomena. This book will include both a ghost story and a mystery, and the current working title for this book is Oaktree Hotel Hauntings. For those of you who read and liked my time travel adventure titled Sasquatch Attacks, this novel features the return of reporter Nancy Nusbaum who is now working for the Paranormal News.

The Counselorssoapbox YouTube channel continues to grow.

I’ve added several new videos to the Counselorssoapbox YouTube channel. Some of these are shorter videos on substance use disorders. I’m also working on some new mental health videos. While I enjoy all the things I’m doing, I still need to take some time out to eat and sleep.

The mental health field continues to change.

Both my private practice clients and the supervision I do have moved online. Staying mentally healthy in the coronavirus era has been a challenge for both clients and counselors. As humans, we all need some social connection, but we also need to be careful to minimize our contacts and the spread of the virus. My self-care plan also includes an emphasis on devoting some time out of my schedule to stay in touch with those people in my support system who I currently can’t see is much as I would like.

So that’s an update on my life both personally and professionally. How are you all taking care of yourself these days? Please feel free to leave a comment or question in the comment box below or use the contact me form.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts today.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.

Man writing

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

NaNoWriMo is a way to grow as an author.

The National Novel Writing Month is a mixture of competition and un-competition. During this month aspiring authors attempt to write an entire novel, a novel of at least 50,000 words, during the 30 days of November. That works out to 1667 words per day average. Each participant is competing with themselves to see if they can take an idea and turn it into a finished novel in 30 days. In the spirit of un-competition, anyone who completes their novel is considered a “winner.”

My experiences with NaNoWriMo.

I first heard about NaNoWriMo about 2010. The following year, 2011, I made my first attempt. That ill-fated attempt stalled somewhere around 5000 words. The remnants of that manuscript still reside in the ancient recesses of my computer’s hard drive. While that particular story has not yet emerged into the light of day, the lessons learned put me on the path towards becoming a better writer.

For the next few years, life happened. Then in 2016, I took another try at completing a novel in the 30-day time span. This time I was able to complete the project. That book, initially with the working title “thrift store” took two more years to revise and edit before it was published in late 2017. That manuscript spurred by NaNoWriMo grew from the original 50,000 words to over 80,000 and the title shifted to Casino Robbery, my first published novel.

Because of that accomplishment, I pulled out another one of my partially finished novels, and earlier this year that manuscript now revised, edited, and retitled, ended up being published as my second novel “Sasquatch.”

In November of 2017 during NaNoWriMo, I started and finished a novel with the working title “Family Secrets.” Over the next year “Family Secrets” has been revised and edited several times. In 2019, I published that novel using the title Dark Family Secrets:

How did I go about writing 50,000 words in one month?

One of the lessons NaNoWriMo has taught me was the importance of setting deadlines. I have many incomplete books, both fiction and nonfiction, stored away on the hard drive still not finished, some going back 20 years. None of them were ever completed because there was always a busy life and the next shining project getting in the way.

Once I learned to make meeting the deadline my highest priority, at least for that limited period, things started happening. This process has worked for me in writing the first draft, revising, and finally pushing the publish button. I could have drawn each of these tasks out over more time but having a deadline on my calendar forced me to finish a project so that I could check that one off my list, and I would be ready to start on another project next month.

October is my time for preparation for NaNoWriMo.

I didn’t want to cheat myself out of the full experience of writing a novel in 30 days. Not that anyone else would’ve known if I had jumped the gun and started writing early, but I would’ve known. So, I don’t begin to write until November 1. What I do allow myself to do before that date is preparation.

The three books that were finished during NaNoWriMo had some similar features. I thought about the general idea, started making some notes, and selected a working title knowing that title might change. I try to prepare an outline, though it is never in any fine detail. As ideas come for events, scenes if you will, I digitally jot them down. As the scene list grows, I rearrange the order.

When I start to write its very likely new ideas will occur to me, and they will get inserted in my list of events wherever they fit. I’m also likely to find that some of the things I initially thought would be separate scenes all get used in a single chapter.

Another thing I try to have planned before November first is a list of the characters, their names, and a brief description of them. If I’m using a specific location, I may do a little research and write some notes on that location. None of this advanced preparation is firm. Once November 1 arrives, everything is subject to change.

What happened in 2018?

The 2018 NaNoWriMo novel had the working title “Planning Accidents.” It was the second adventure for Arthur Mitchell, the protagonist from my first novel Casino Robbery. For the first time that year, I created a cover that I could use for the e-book edition of the book that ended up being “Planned Accidents” Since then I have completed two other novels.

So, what am I planning to write for NaNoWriMo this year?

I have two possibilities that I am outlining at the moment. I decided not to give you the working titles since I now know that the title will likely change in the process.

If you’ve ever thought about writing a novel, then NaNoWriMo this November, might be just the encouragement you need to get that first draft written. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments about writing. If you have questions for me, please send them along. I’ll get back to everyone just as quickly as possible, though as you can see for the next month, I am likely to be extremely busy.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Arthur Mitchell and Plutus Mystery #3 is available now.

Arthur Mitchell and Plutus Mystery #3 is available now.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.

Letters From The Dead

Arthur Mitchell discovers a letter from Abigail Morton Pettengrew to Inspector Detective Thaddeus Kincaid describing a kidnap and murder. Abigail and Detective Kincaid are both dead and now someone is out to end Arthur’s life.

Letters from the Dead is the third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

My latest book, Letters from the Dead, is now available.

Letters from the Dead is my fifth book, the third in the Arthur Mitchell and his Dog Plutus Mystery Series. Letters from the Dead is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback editions.

Counselorssoapbox YouTube video channel continues to grow.

I started this video channel project largely for the students and counseling classes. I can tell the younger students prefer watching videos to reading the text. Creating videos turned out to be a bit of a challenge for this digital immigrant. The current series of videos about drug use and abuse. Please feel free to check out the videos.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Arthur Mitchell and his dog Plutus discover another mystery.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.

Arthur Mitchell and his detective dog Plutus are enjoying their peaceful life when Arthur’s friends begin to die in mysterious accidents. Who is behind these accidents and will Arthur be the next to die? What is the meaning of the clues Plutus discovers?

Planned Accidents is the second Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

My latest book, Planned Accidents, is finally finished.

Planned Accidents is my fourth book, the second in the Arthur Mitchell and his dog Plutus mystery series. Planned Accidents, the Kindle edition, is now and the preorder phase. Its official release date is April 1, 2019. The paperback edition is currently available from Amazon.

I started this book last November as part of the NaNoWriMo contest. Planned Accidents was one of the “winners” of that adventure in 2018. I have spent the last three months editing and revising the book. Of course, life always seems to get in the way of being creative. So, there have been several starts and stops along the way. I think the reason I finally finished this book was I set a firm deadline for myself for it to be released by 1 April.

Counselorssoapbox YouTube video channel continues to grow.

I started this video channel project largely for the students and counseling classes. I can tell the younger students prefer watching videos to reading the text. Creating videos has turned out to be a bit of a challenge for this digital immigrant. The current series of videos is about drug use and abuse. Please feel free to check out the videos.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Too busy writing to write anything?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.

Man writing

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How do I describe what I’m doing with all my time?

I woke up the other morning and realized that I’ve been so busy working on various projects that I’ve not yet gotten around to the final revisions and the publishing of my third novel tentatively titled “Planned Accidents.”

I spent a lot of time creating content. I can’t be sure which of that content accurately qualifies under the heading of writing. What we mean by writing has changed so much during my lifetime I’m no longer sure when I’m writing and when I’m not.

What’s the difference between writer, author, content creator, and so on.

As a self-published author, there’s a lot of tasks that need to be done. First, I get the idea, then the outline, and finally the slog through producing that first draft. The first draft in hand there is the editing and revision, creation of covers, formatting the manuscript, and all the steps to uploading that manuscript to platforms, so it’s ready for purchase. If that was all I had to do, I don’t know what I would do with my spare time.

I tried compartmentalizing my thinking. When I’m in my creative persona, I’m the writer. The steps that involve the editing and publishing I think of as my author persona. The author part of me takes the creative output of my writer persona and makes it into a published book.

Am I really a writer if I spend all day doing things that are writing?

I feel a layer of guilt about even calling what I do writing. When I was younger writing meant using a stylus, a pen, or pencil, and placing characters on a piece of paper which could be interpreted by others as the words I intended. Indeed, I am old enough to have primarily written using cursive rather than block letters.

As I have completed additional trips around the sun, I find this a less threatening metaphor than saying I have gotten older, my writing has involved considerably less writing. Over the last century, more or less, I think we came to accept that products created using a typewriter can be justifiably called writing. From typewriters it’s been a leap, sometimes a traumatic one, to producing that same final “written” product using a computer.

Is it writing if I dictate it?

The last few years I’ve developed pains in my wrists when I try to type too much. Where I once took pride in “pounding the keys” the keys on my computer began to pound back. Recently I’ve taken to primarily dictating. While writing and dictating are both forms of storytelling, I’m wondering if we’re stretching the meaning of the word writing when I tell people I have written several books when I have in fact been dictating them?

I think the concept of writing has crept ever larger.

Today a lot of people read written material by having the computer convert the words into sounds they can listen to. Some writers turn their products into audio “books.” I understand we shifted from calling things manuscripts when scribes had to hand copy them, to calling them books when that Gutenberg invention allowed for mass production. There’s a part of me that feels guilty about calling something a book knowing that people will be listening to an artificial intelligence convert electronic images into speech. Many people today read a book without either a physical book or the need to use their eyes to look at the item they are “reading.”

Are making videos other forms of writing?

One “little” project I’ve been working on over the last month has turned out to be not so little. Many of my students and more than one of my colleagues has emailed me asking if I had seen a particular video. Notice I no longer call those messages which arrive on my computer as something they have written to me. Emailing letters has substantially replaced writing letters.

I have spent a good part of January creating a YouTube video channel and producing videos for that channel. I noticed that readership of the counselorssoapbox.com blog had suffered as students, went to researching things on YouTube. The net result of this cultural shift is my new video channel with the shockingly creative name Counselorssoapbox.

So far, those videos have been limited to video presentations of the material I covered in the classes I teach on substance abuse counseling. Where we will go from here remains to be seen. What I’m not sure about is calling all that video production time “writing.”

I do know that creating the script from which a movie is made qualifies as writing and has a special name “scriptwriting.”

Maybe the title writer will go the same way as the title scribe.

I’m told that initially writing was created more for high counting then for creative endeavors. When someone had to keep track of 17 camels, 52 sheep, and 114 goats, it is a lot easier to come up with one symbol for each type of animal. And look how useful it is to have numbers rather than to have to repeat that word goat 114 separate times.

While I’m not a linguist, I’m inclined to believe that the occupation “scribe” ultimately gave us the word scribble. I’ve noticed people inventing a lot of new words to try to describe this process of creating which no longer fits neatly into a particular category. Watch for the words – creative’s, author entrepreneur or contraction of that, and several more expressions designed to cover how “writing” is being transformed by new technologies.

Eventually, writing had to expand to include words to describe a lot more than naming farm products. As a result, scribing became writing. What remains to be seen is how much longer I can call all these things I’m doing writing.

Are Audiobooks, podcasts, and videos forms of writing?

Some people are calling themselves videographers. I’ve even seen some people describing themselves simply as “YouTuber’s, or should that be You-Tubers?” I used to know what a tuber was, but I’m not sure anymore.

Presumably, audiobooks began as a written manuscript which one or more people convert so that it can be listened to rather than read. If I listen to a book can I say I have read it? The line between writing and speaking becomes fuzzier when we talk about podcasts, which frequently start as an oral conversation, but may eventually end up as a written transcript.

My videos certainly start with a written outline before their produced though I’m not sure I can call that outline writing in the same creative sense in which I use the word writing when I am referring to either my blog posts are my books. Maybe some of you can help me with figuring out which of these creative endeavors I have been doing qualifies is getting around to doing my “writing.”

Thanks for reading my ruminations and if you have any suggestions for why I’ve been so busy writing things that I haven’t finished writing my book, please leave a comment.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

My promiscuous relationship with punctuation.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Man writing

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Periodically I get in trouble with the punctuation police.

If you’re one of those people who has memorized the entire Code of Federal Regulations section on proper punctuation, you probably have little sympathy for my proclivity for loose relationships with punctuation.

I will plead guilty to abusing commas and neglecting my hyphens, but with an explanation.

I came from a home filled with dysfunctional punctuation.

I grew up without a good role model for punctuation. What I know about her I learned on the streets from certain undesirable types who use punctuation purely for oral communication. I learned early, that people who came from proper punctuation homes followed a certain code. But when you learn your punctuation for use in ordinary conversation, you’re likely to ignore some of the punctuation etiquettes.

Someone who is effective as a public speaker inserts frequent pauses for dramatic effect. The resulting (pregnant pause) often is in no way related to (pause) the proper use of Miss Comma. If you’re used to the looser variety of commas, you would prefer that they spoke plainly, telling you what they mean rather than hiding behind a fan of proper punctuation rules.

Why has Miss Comma fallen out of fashion?

I find it disconcerting, when reading aloud the text of the speech that someone gave, to encounter Miss Commas smiling face in places where the speaker would never have permitted her while eschewing to allow that same Miss Comma to continue to maintain her ongoing relationship with that person’s speech. I realize that proper punctuation is all the rage these days. I prefer my punctuation to be plain-speaking, saying what she means and meaning what she says rather than hiding behind her cousins, dashes, colons, and semicolons.

No matter how much the dictates of fashion might change, my taste seems unchangeably fixed. Despite the current proclivity towards severely underweight women, I continue to prefer women with a little meat on their bones. Likewise, despite frequent opportunities to date some of these newer punctuation marks, I would rather spend my sentences was several commas than to engage in a dalliance with even a single frivolous dash.

I trust you will forgive an old man for this philosophical digression.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

The pain of revision.

By David Joel Miller, Writer.

Man writing

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

After the writing comes the revision.

Cover for planned accidents book

Planned Accidents cover

As some of you are aware, I spent the month of November participating in the NaNoWriMo (the National Novel Writing Month) contest. This event is the fourth time I have attempted this and the third time I have succeeded in completing a first draft of a novel in one month.

Participating in the contest has taught me a great deal about writing a novel. What I’m struggling with now, even more than writing a novel, is the process of revision, trying to turn that first rough draft into something worth publishing. I would like to share with you some of the challenges I’m experiencing in revision, but first a little background.

Casino Robbery started the Arthur Mitchell mysteries series.

Planned Accidents is the second in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series. Arthur’s adventures began in the book Casino Robbery. After the financial crisis in 2008 Arthur Mitchell, accountant, gave up working at Fantastic Finance to take what he thought would be a safe and stable job working as an accountant for a Las Vegas casino. Arthur was trying to avoid anything risky. What Arthur hadn’t expected was to be in the middle of taking his fiancée to lunch when the casino was robbed. During the robbery, the criminals shot Arthur and killed his fiancée.

Because of the robbery, Arthur developed a severe case of PTSD. Unable to return to work Arthur opened a small thrift and collectible store on a rural Highway between Las Vegas and Utah. Unfortunately for Arthur, it turned out that as being shot wasn’t accidental, someone had wanted him dead, and he was pulled into investigating the robbery. Arthur became both an amateur and an accidental sleuth.

Planning Accidents turned into Planned Accidents.

Arthur has settled into running his thrift store, thinking the danger is behind him, when someone begins contacting the former employees at Fantastic Finance demanding money. First one and then another of Arthur’s former colleagues dies in mysterious accidents. At least that’s what the police think they are. Arthur’s not so sure any of this is accidental.

I started this novel with the working title Planning Accidents. What I found, as I wrote was that talking too much about planning the accidents took the focus off my hero Arthur and started me writing more about the people who could be planning these accidents. To shift the focus back on to Arthur and how he is drawn into investigating these supposed accidents, I’ve decided to change the title to Planned Accidents.

My first draft ended up with a lot of loose threads.

As I began my revision in January, I discovered I had included a lot of events that had nothing to do with Planned Accidents. Several times in the first draft I had Arthur buy some limited-edition lithographs. When Arthur inspects the lithographs, he discovers he has two copies of the same piece of art both with the same serial number. Somebody has been counterfeiting works of art and selling them directly to collectors. Once Arthur purchases the art from those collectors, the fraud becomes apparent.

Of course, the counterfeiters don’t want to be caught, and they make life extremely dangerous for Arthur Mitchell, as in they try to kill him. Once I realized this whole subplot had nothing to do with the Planned Accidents I pulled out the discovery of the duplicate lithographs and left that for Arthur to encounter in mystery number three or maybe even number four.

What do I do with the letters from the dead person?

One of the lots Arthur buys at an estate sale includes a bunch of letters an elderly lady had written to a police detective which were returned to her unopened. The author of the letters wrote to the detective describing a murder she had witnessed. Again, I discovered I had another crime for Arthur to investigate but trying to send him in that direction while he is trying to avoid being killed by someone who is planning his accidental death just mucked up the plot a little much. I pulled out all the material about the discovery of the letters from the witness, and I’ll save that for another Arthur Mitchell mystery. Once I get Planned Accidents finished, I think I want to start on this mystery, currently with the working title of “Letters from the Dead.” I think once we start opening the letters we will find the elderly lady witnessed more than one shocking crime.

Does this book need another page of description?

In the revision process, I struggle to decide whether I have written too much description or when there are insufficient details. I read a lot of other fiction, particularly in the amateur sleuth category. Occasionally I’m impressed by some extraordinarily brilliant description that produces a vivid image in my brain. More often though, when I reach long passages of description, I find myself speeding up, skimming over the description.

I am starting to feel like description, at least in an amateur sleuth mystery, is like spices in a stew. A little bit of spice, especially chili powder, can enhance the dish. But I don’t want my novel to resemble my stew, the time I accidentally dumped in a whole jar of chili powder.

I have an idea. If any of you readers would like to read draft two of “Planned Accidents” sign up for my mailing list or use the contact form and when it’s ready, I’ll send you an advanced reviewer copy of “Planned Accidents” and you can tell me if I’ve included too much or too little description. Of course, other feedback would be helpful also.

Does that dog ever do anything?

Something else I have been fixing as I’m working on draft number two is sorting out the role of Arthur’s dog Plutus. Plutus was important in the Casino Robbery book because he had belonged to Arthur’s fiancé’s Janet. In this mystery number two, Plutus kept turning up in various chapters but not doing much. As I revised, it became plain that Plutus unquestionably has a part to play in this story. Since Plutus helped Arthur solve the first mystery, I think I should put him to work helping to solve mystery number two and beyond.

There are some early thoughts about my revision project. I’ll share more with you in the future.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Why do indie authors give books away free?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.

Man writing

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Why do self-published authors have free books?

Almost every day I received two separate emails promoting available e-books. Some of these books are available for a reduced price, and others are available free. Well-known authors and the established publishers may run a temporary price promotion, but they rarely, if ever, offer their books for free. Why do so many self-published, indie authors, myself included, offer their books for free?

Self-published authors want to attract new readers.

Well-known authors already have a ready-made audience for their books. Avid readers are waiting for the next release. Lesser-known authors must work harder. And when you’re a brand-new author, such as myself, finding readers for what you write takes a lot of effort. One way authors, even established authors, attract new readers is to offer their book free.

Offering a book for free is a marketing decision. Authors may offer one book free for limited time, or they may have one title in their series that is permanently free. What indie authors collectively shouldn’t be doing is giving away so much free stuff that it’s hard to charge enough to support their writing.

Indie authors need to find “their readers.”

A substantial number of readers have very specific preferences for the kind of books they read. If you like action adventure, you’re not likely to read cozy mysteries or romance. New authors need to put themselves out there so that the readers who might potentially become their fans get exposed to one of their books.

Even authors who have built a group of regular readers need to continue to search for the readers who might be interested in the type of book they write. There are pros and cons to getting “typecast” for an author. Once an author is identified with a particular genre, you’re likely to disappoint their readers if they write something in another style. For an author whose name is closely tied to one category, they are more likely to have a ready-made audience for each subsequent book they write.

Authors need book reviews.

Book reviews help people decide if this is a book they would like to read. There are two types of reviewers. Professional reviewers are likely to receive a lot of books in the competition between authors for their reviews can be fierce. Professional reviews are displayed on the book’s page towards the top with the editorial content.

Reviews from readers and their “star” rating are a form of social proof. If you are writing literary fiction, having a famous book reviewer say good things about your book will help sales. For most genres having a substantial number of readers who have reviewed the book can boost the sales. Even a few negative reviews can help the reader decide whether this book is for them, particularly if the reviewer gives reasons why their review was low. One way to get more reviews is to offer many free copies during the initial book launch.

Free gets a new book noticed.

There are millions of books available right now. Each day that goes by hundreds of thousands maybe millions more get published. When people go looking for a book the search engines will display the book they think that person would want first. The popular book that is selling lots of copies will appear on page 1: the indie authors new book, the one no one is bought a copy of yet maybe ranked 67,000, and it may appear on page 3,350. Offering that book temporarily for free can bring it up in the rankings and get it noticed. Some may booksellers, by the way, separate the free books from the pay books. But even getting seen on the free book page can get an author better known.

Free promotions get the spotlight back on your book.

Once a book has been on the market for a while sales slowdown and the rankings drop. Running a free book promotion is one way to get that book back in the spotlight and arrange for people who hadn’t seen it before to notice it. Free book promotions need to be used carefully otherwise the only time the author “sells” their book is when it’s free. Some platforms limit the author’s ability to offer a book for free. This is one incentive for authors to list their books exclusively on Amazon. Books that are exclusive to Amazon can be offered free for a certain number of days during each listing period.

Perma-free Books interests readers in the series.

Authors who write ongoing series, one with a recurring protagonist, frequently set their first book permanently free or offer it at a low price to encourage new readers to try the series. If you like the characters and the author’s writing style, most readers are willing to buy subsequent books about that same character at the regular price.

Being a new indie author, I continue to experiment with ways to market my books. I think all my books are reasonably priced, but occasionally I offer one of those books free for a period. I run those free promotions on different books and often move the free deal from platform to platform. If you want to hear about new books and promotional prices including free book deals sign up for my mailing list or watch the blog for announcements.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Why are you writing that?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.

Man writing

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The why changes the way you write.

Writing is an awesome skill. The ability to write allows us to save information for later use and it enables us to transmit that information to someone in a distant place. Writing also gives us access to the thoughts and expressions of people who are no longer with us. Writing is such a useful human skill that the meaning of “writing” has expanded well beyond the use of paper and pen.

Writing also implies a related skill, which we generically call “reading.” Today under the category of writing we include alternative recording methods such as typing and dictating. Reading also includes listening to audio “books.” The boundary between writing words and delivering messages through video content is becoming less distinct.

Writing can play a great many roles in your day. What you write can be utilitarian, the recording of information and data. What you write can be very personal or can be designed to inform or entertain people you will never meet.

Creative people often explore a variety of mediums searching to find the best method to express whatever it is they are seeking to communicate. Both the process and the techniques they use change depending on the piece that they are writing. Here are some of the reasons a person might be writing and how that purpose would affect the process.

Utilitarian writing needs facts.

Utilitarian writing might be anything from making out a grocery list to recording the instructions for assembling a table. If it’s written just for you, there will be a minimum of elaboration, and you may use terms that have personal meaning. Your grocery list might include the notation “lasagna fixings” if you are planning to cook dinner, or it might say “pasta isle” if you are restocking shelves in a grocery store.

Writing can be for personal exploration.

In mental health and recovery, people are encouraged to write about their thoughts and feelings, a process often described as journaling. Personal writing can be an opportunity to write about things you don’t want other people to know. Writing your thoughts and feelings can help you sort out what’s going on. If you Journal over an extended period and then go back and look at your earlier writings, you can often see how your emotional states and your plans have changed over time.

Writing to express strong feelings.

Poetry is an especially useful medium to explore intense feelings. Poets spend a lot of time in a relatively short work, searching for precisely the right word to convey a meaning. Poetry is often included in high school English classes the most people don’t consciously read poetry after high school. I’m sure there are some exceptions, but most published collections of poems reach an extremely limited audience.

The principal use for poetic techniques these days is to marry the poem to music. The great modern poets have been mainly songwriters. The more commercial use of poetry has been the writing of commercial jingles.

You are writing because you have a story to tell.

Good writing tells the story. Fiction storytelling includes short stories, novellas, the novel, and epic stories. In the short attention span digital age the trend seems to be towards the novella and shorter length novels. Short stories used to be popular in magazines. In the digital age, those short stories attempt to find new homes on the Internet. Electronic publishing and the proliferation of video materials have expanded the opportunities for telling stories in new ways.

Storytelling is not limited to fiction. Nonfiction books, particularly creative nonfiction, either tell a story or may use those stories to illustrate the points the author is trying to make. Traditional non-fiction stories include history, biography, and military genre.

Writing is a part of your creativity.

The drive to be creative underlies a lot of human effort. Some people primarily express themselves visually, and others do their art verbally. Some creative people like to try their hand variety of mediums. If you’ve done a lot of original work in one field, you may want to write a book about those creative endeavors.

You are writing because you’d like to make some money.

Most creative people hope to make some money from their efforts. In a capitalist society, the primary way we measure the value of things is by how much people are willing to pay for it. Many writer’s goals are to be able to make enough from the writing to be able to quit their day jobs and write full-time. Many people work day jobs so they can make enough money to support themselves while doing their writing.

There’s nothing wrong with writing what people want to read. Popular writing, the writing that sells a lot of copies of a book, must also be good writing. If you are writing with the idea of becoming rich, you will probably be disappointed. Monetary results are the result of both the writing and the marketing functions.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to suffer for your art. Jeff Goins has written an intriguing book titled Real Artists Don’t Starve. These days many indie writers are earning good incomes from their writing and related activities.

These are some of the reasons why you may feel the urge to write. I feel sure there are other reasons some of you are writing. One reason is not necessarily better than another. As a writer, you may be writing for multiple purposes and writing different pieces for different reasons. What is critical, I believe, is that each time you set out to write something you get clear on why you are writing this particular piece.

This piece was inspired by a question/comment from a reader. Thanks for that inspiration. If you enjoyed this piece, please leave a comment. If you have a question for me, you can ask it through the comment form or use the contact me form. Thanks for reading and I wishing you the happiest life possible.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

How do you create character names?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.

Man writing

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Creating effective character names can be a challenge.

I struggle with the process of naming the characters in my novels. Because of those struggles, I have discovered a few tricks. Like most every aspiring writer, I was a reader first. Recently I’ve been doing a great deal of reading out loud to my family. In doing all this reading, I discovered that the way some authors name their characters create problems. First, let me tell you the things I try to avoid doing when naming characters and my solutions to these problems. At the end of this post, I will list a few resources that I use to create character names.

Don’t use character names that will confuse your readers.

I get very frustrated when I’m reading a book, and there is a group of characters who appear in a scene who all have exceedingly similar names. It’s very unclear to read about Betty, Barbara, Becky, and Bethany who meet a group of men named Daniel, Danny, Doug, and David. It takes the reader a while to get characters straight in their head. I try to avoid having two characters in the same novel whose names start with the same letter. When working on a novel I keep an alphabetical list of the characters, and I avoid multiple names which begin with the same letter.

Recently, during November, I began a first draft of a new novel scheduled to be published in the spring, which I’m titling “Planned Accidents.” This book will be episode two of the Arthur Mitchell Mysteries. Book one was Casino Robbery. I quickly discovered I had created two characters both named Howard, one in each book. Howard number two had to be renamed so that I don’t confuse readers who have read book one. I’m now convinced that I need to maintain a master list of characters for all the novels in a given series.

Avoid names that are gender-confused.

Some names can either a male or a female. I’ve noticed a disturbing trend among some authors to use nicknames that shorten the character’s name. The protagonist’s name is Rhonda, but on the next page, people are talking about Ron. Ron is dating Dan though I can’t tell from the context if Dan is short for Daniel or Daniela.

Avoid names that readily call up a particular image.

Watch out for creating a bridge playing protagonist named Donald and then having to write a paragraph in which Donald bids both trumps and no trumps. Calling a boy wizard Harry Porter is a terrible idea. While it may feel like a shortcut to use a name that readily conjures up the image you’re looking for, using these kinds of names create inauthentic, cardboard characters.

Avoid names that sound too much like a real person.

Whenever I write a villain for a novel, after creating their name, I do a quick web search. I don’t know that I’ll catch every problem, but I don’t want to write an evil villain and accidentally use the name of a candidate who is currently running for political office. I also avoid names that are too close to recognizable historical figures or sports figures.

Avoid racial and ethnic stereotypes.

Have you’ve ever picked up a spy novel and noticed that all the characters have either German or Russian names? Do all the stories about organized crime appear to be filled with Italian surnames?

Avoid names that are hard to pronounce.

In this millennium a great many people are doing their “reading” by listening to audiobooks. I discovered from my family’s nightly reading aloud session, that some names look great on the page, easy to recognize. But it’s very frustrating to keep encountering words that are difficult to pronounce. I think writers should consider what their character’s names will sound like when spoken aloud when choosing those names.

So, what are the solutions to all these naming problems?

  1. Maintain a master list of characters for your novel or series and don’t repeat similar-sounding names.
  2. I often create the name first and then write the description and biography of that person. If you’ve already cast the character, it can be challenging to find the name that fits them.
  3. If you create a new name, do a web search to make sure you haven’t selected the name of a prominent person in some other country. Also, avoid creating names that have a negative meaning in some language you are not familiar with.

To create names, I use several sources.

Behind the name is helpful for finding first names. You can look at lists by gender, ethnic origin, or merely browse the complete list, looking for a name that appeals to you. I’m currently working on an outline for a fantasy book, my first try at writing fantasy because the characters will have connections with medieval Europe I’m looking at various Old English and Scandinavian names for my characters.

For last names, I use a related website Surnames; behind the name.

Another useful resource comes from the census department. You can look at the top first names by the decade of birth. Here’s the link to the list of the top names from the 1880s.

Sometimes I mashed names up.

In the past, surnames were often created by taking the father’s first name and adding an ending. I created unique new names for some of my characters, by taking the first name from one ethnicity and combining it with an ending from a different nationality. Back in the 1970s a lot of parents were creating unique names for their children by altering the spelling or combining two first names. I do the same thing for some of my character’s last names.

Any other ideas on how to create the perfect name for a fictional character?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel