Saturday, January 2, 2016


John M. Daniel’s Blog
January 2, 2016

Happy New Year, writers and readers, storytellers all. I trust you’ve had joyous holidays and are ready to take off the paper hats and put away your noise makers, and settle down to making and keeping resolutions.

For those of us who call ourselves writers, the most important resolution is to be writers. That means, we must write. Carolyn See, a superb novelist, book critic, teacher, and inspiration, offers this advice: Write a thousand words a day, five days a week, for the rest of your life. Well, that has worked for her. I admire her fortitude and her dedication. I confess I don’t follow her advice literally, but I have set aside one day a week, Sunday, for writing fiction. I think the point is to have a routine and to stick to it. I recommend that approach. It has worked for me. So one resolution I have is to stick to that routine.

I’ve reread the blog posts I’ve written during the past season, and I came away from that experience regretting that I sounded so dark so often. Yes, I still believe that stories need conflict to survive; and I still maintain that a writer should face the monsters and not be afraid of the dark. But I believe just as strongly that the Joy of Story is just that, and that writing, telling, reading, and listening to stories should be a positive experience. So another resolution I have this New Year is to (in the words of the great Johnny Mercer) “latch on to the affirmative.”

Another resolution I’ve made is to be more accepting of the enormous and rapid changes that have happened and are still happening in the publishing business. I can’t hope to stay on top of all the developments and trends in all areas of publishing, but I can and shall change my attitude to accept with interest the changes I’ve feared and closed my eyes to. After all, though I still consider myself a twentieth-century man, I’ve learned to live in a world with ebooks, Print on Demand,, cell phones, and Facebook. I can adapt, and I can adopt.

Have you made resolutions this year? Are they about writing? If so, please share them with others by leaving a comment at the end of this post.


Speaking of resolutions and new years, please check out the promotion at the end of this blog for my ebook Promises, Promises, Promises. This is a strange and ingenious book (says its proud author). It takes place in the year 1963 (with flashback stories set in earlier times). It’s a novel, but it’s also a trio of connected novellas, which in turn are made up of connected stories. It’s about promises kept and not kept, and there’s a resolution that must be faced on the day John Kennedy was killed, November 22.


It will interest some of you to learn that the literary magazine Black Lamb, to which I’ve contributed essays monthly for the past six years, has ceased print publication. The magazine will continue, however, in an online format, starting this month. Black  Lamb’s current website address is I assume that will be the address of the online magazine once it’s up and running. If I learn different, I’ll let you know.


Calling all authors—
I feature a guest author the third Saturday (and week following) of each month. If you’re interested in posting an essay on my blog—it’s also a chance to promote a published book, email me directly at


Call for Submissions: 99-Word Stories wanted!

The deadline for February’s 99-word story submissions is February First. The stories will appear on my blog post for February 13, 2016.

note: this 99-word story feature is a game, not a contest. Obey the rules and I’ll include your story. I may edit the story to make it stronger, and it’s understood that you will submit to my editing willingly. That’s an unwritten rule.

Rules for the 99-word story feature are as follows:

1. Your story must be 99 words long, exactly.
2. One story per writer, per month.
3. The story must be a story. That means it needs plot (something or somebody has to change), characters, and conflict.
4. The story must be inspired by the prompt I assign.
5. The deadline: the first of the month. Stories will appear on this blog the second Saturday of the month.
6. I will copy edit the story. The author of the story retains all rights.
7. Email me your story (in the body of your email, or as a Word attachment) to:

This month’s prompt for next month’s 99-word story:

 You’ll note that the stories will appear on The Joy of Story February 13. That’s Valentine’s Day Eve, folks. To celebrate this coincidence, I challenge you to try your hand at romance writing (sincerely or as a spoof). Use this sentence, or something like this sentence, somewhere in the story: “It was one of those kisses that murmur, ‘Let’s get lost…”

Reread Rule 3, above; this must be a story, not just an essay. If I receive your story by February 1, and  if you follow the rules, your story will appear on this blog February 13.

And now a word from our sponsor.

Promises, Promises, Promises

Three Novellas
by John M. Daniel
Anyone who remembers the year 1963
will never forget it.
$4.99, Available from Kindle and Nook.
Be sure to type in the full title, including subtitle:
"Promises, Promises, Promises: Three Novellas."Kindle edition:

Spring in Dallas: Wealthy bachelor Fergus Powers decides to get married for the first time, at the age of 68, but first he must inform the other women in his life…
Summer in Los Angeles: Art student David Llewellyn spends the summer painting a mural for a movie star and learning from two women how to have a love affair…
Fall in Minneapolis: Widow Rose Llewellyn, eight months sober, hears the news of JFK's assassination. Will her resolve hold, or will she succumb to despair?
Promises, Promises, Promises is made up of three novellas set in 1963. Combined, they form a three-part novel about love, promises, family, the controlling power of generosity, and the importance of home. Each of the three parts is told from a different point of view, covers a different span of time in that significant year, and is set in a different location. The book ends with an epilogue that ties the three novellas into a cohesive novel.
The book is laced with humor and with sorrow, and the characters live in each other’s lives while they compel the plot forward, decision after decision. Together these closely connected novellas show the changes that happen to the three principal characters, and the changes that happen to them as a family.

John M. Daniel is a freelance editor and writer. He has published dozens of stories in literary magazines and is the author of ten published books, including the Guy Mallon mystery novels. He and his wife, Susan, own a small-press publishing company. They live in Humboldt County, California.


Thank you for dropping by. I hope you’ll be back again, soon and often! Next week you’ll get to read the 99-Word stories submitted during the month of December 2015.


  1. I'm the first to comment! I hope (resolve) to finish editing the short novel I first drafted in 2008, then market/gather my essays, and try to have a peaceful, stress-less year as much as possible. Thanks for the blog, John!

    1. good luck with all that, Eileen. I know you can do it!