NEWSFLASH: Zero Sum, Book 1, Kotov Syndrome, my Wall Street thriller serial trilogy, has been reviewed by acclaimed author Steven Konkoly, whose The Jakarta Pandemic just got its 100th Amazon review, and who just released Black Flagged. The review is a wonderful deconstruction of the trilogy, and is recommended reading for one and all.

MAJOR BREAKING NEWS: Justin Bogdanovitch just published a poignant and touching review of An Angel With Fur for prominent online lifestyle magazine . It’s really a must-read review. 


My author went to Nano and all I got was this dumb book.”

An update on my new magnum opus, King of Swords.

For those just tuning in, last Friday, Nov. 11, at around 2 p.m. I got it into my noggin that it would be a swell idea to come off of having just finished writing about 150K words of The Delphi Chronicle and launch into a book for the National Novel Writing Month challenge – to write at least a 50K novel during the month of November.

Being as in Mexico it’s not unheard of to start happy hour around noon on Fridays (or most days, for that matter) it seemed like a perfect idea. Hell, after grinding out 150K of intricate international conspiracy, 50K would seem like a massage with a happy ending, not that I know what that means (wink wink). My point is that cocktails were involved, and so, without taking into consideration what it would do to my posture or my Iron Man triathlon training regime, I launched into it.

Today is one week later, and I’m at 45K words of what is shaping up nicely – it’s a hell of a story so far, as you can tell from the first few chapters (link below). One problem is that it is going to take more than 50K words to tell it, no matter how concisely I write it. There’s just way too much going on, with a lot of story getting packed into a slim wrapper. The characters are at that point where they’ve come alive, and taken on a life of their own. Who knew that the protag had a dark sense of humor? Who knew that the assassin would be that interesting and complex? Who knew that there would be conspiracies within the conspiracies, and that nothing would be as it seemed?

For those following along at home, I could finish this today at 50K, clock it in, and have won my “personal best” bet with myself for the fastest I’ve ever written a fiction novel. But the story wants to keep rolling, so I’m going to let it run and see what happens. My hunch is this is a 75K-85K effort, if I’m going to include all the nuance, which seems worthwhile. So I’ll let it have its way, and hopefully by next Thursday or so I’ll be done, and can polish it for three or four days, and clock it.

You can track my daily progress online here & read the opening few chapters I wrote Friday. And again, please, no wagering. This should serve as a cautionary tale for those considering doing anything after tequila blinds you to reality. Don’t do it, kids.

It’s also pushed editing and polishing my latest work in progress, The Delphi Chronicle, for two weeks, so this will delay that release to around third week of December, with King of Swords releasing around second week of December, assuming it isn’t drivel. I also think I’m going to end the promotion of Zero Sum where the first book’s for free around the end of the year, or end of Jan. at the latest.

That’s the news from my end. I’m keeping my head down and pulling on the oars as hard as I can, so hopefully by end of next week I’ll have birthed me a book…


Join Russell Blake and 9 of his author friends at WoMen’s Literary Cafe’s Mystery Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their ebooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!”



  1. Fri 18th Nov 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Nutcase. Seriously, when do you get time to eat? I am not asking about sleep because you are seriously sleep deprived.

    It seems as if it is going well on your side. I gave up on Nanowrimo but with 13 days left I still might have a chance to do it. Damn you Russell, now I have a guilt trip coming on.

    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 18th Nov 2011 at 6:17 pm

      My process is one of extreme focus and intensity. I work very long hours, from around eight a.m. to around midnight, crafting the story. It’s not for everyone, but it’s the only process I’ve found that works for me – I tried doing 2 and 4 hour stints, and it takes me half that time just to reread and get back into the story, so it’s inefficient.

      I don’t recommend or encourage others to work this way. It’s not particularly good for you. It’s exhausting. Your legs and back hurt from sitting all day. You forget to eat for long periods. But the positive is that the real world disappears, leaving you in the world of your creation, enabling you to get a lot of depth to the characters and the story than you otherwise would.

      I’m sure there are other, better processes. I just haven’t found any that work. So I do what works for me. It probably isn’t for most, or even any.

      • David Barron  –  Sat 19th Nov 2011 at 6:25 am

        I find that six hours (with a walk-around break every hour or two) is my natural ‘work-shift’, and it usually results in about 5000 words. Then again, I’m a part-time writer. It’ll be different once I have enough books up and selling to do this full-time and don’t have to schedule blocks of time around the whims of the jungle.

        • Russell Blake  –  Sat 19th Nov 2011 at 6:36 am

          That’s actually more sensible than what I do, and actually, a bit faster per hour than I am. I have been pulling 12 to 15 hour days of writing, with a couple of half hour meal breaks, and that’s about it. But I’m only averaging maybe 7500 words a day. so divvy them up, and you’re faster, by a significant margin. That’s why I find it amusing when other writers go, “No way, you can’t be writing that kind of pace!” Uh, yes, I can, because I choose to lock myself in a room and just do it. If I was miraculous, I’d be cranking 12K + per day of high quality first draft. Not a chance. My rule is I shoot for 10, get 5 to 7.5, then come back and spend 1/3 the time it took to write it, rewriting. If you do the math, you quickly see that 12 to 14 days of, say, 12 hour days, is around 150 hours. At 500 words an hour, 75K to 80K words suddenly isn’t such a miracle anymore. If anything, it’s a bit plodding.

          I just always have approached life from a perspective that, if you’re going to go for it, go for it till you bleed, so you have no regrets that you wouldda/couldda if you’d only given it more.

          • David Barron  –  Sat 19th Nov 2011 at 7:37 am

            I ‘cheat’ the speed a bit because I’ve usually set up ahead of time a couple chapters worth of scenes for me to knock down, so those six hours don’t contain as much plot-think-time. On the ‘publisher expense sheet’, I bill myself for 800 words an hour, then afterwards add 10% to the total hours as a rough estimate for ‘outlining’.

            Once I get to a ‘stable life point’, I’ll be able to pull that off every day, no problem–barring tropical illness, vacations, etc.–as opposed to three or four days a week as now.

            But, yes, if I’m not tired after I’m done for the day, I’m not working hard enough (for myself). Life is too short to slack off. Anyways, it’s fun!

      • Gerhi Feuren  –  Sat 19th Nov 2011 at 5:00 pm

        The longest stretch I can isolate any day is four hours, and that is not every day. Most of my time is broken into small snippets and I get completely antsy if I have to sit still for long periods of time.

        When I studied I used to finish 3 hour papers in one and a half hours not because I did not know any more, I just could not sit still any longer. It is a tendency I have to work against continuously.

        To work against physical fatigue from sitting in the same position for too long I also have a standing desk and I sometimes write in a lounge chair with the laptop on my lap. Either way I have to get up and walk around frequently. Maybe a broken leg will give me a leg up?

        • Russell Blake  –  Sat 19th Nov 2011 at 7:43 pm

          The stand-up desk isn’t a bad idea. That’s actually my biggest problem – a sore back and aching legs after twelve hours glued to a screen. Oh, and burning eyes and blurred vision.

          That’s why after this one, I’m going to slow the pace some. No point in doing back to back years like 2011. I seriously doubt I’m going to be any more successful with eighteen books out than with fourteen, so next year’s goal is three books, and that’s all she wrote.

          • Gerhi Feuren  –  Sun 20th Nov 2011 at 3:40 pm

            I am using my current Nanowrimo idiocy (I mean odyssey) as a kick starter to see what I can accomplish focusing on writing for a whole year. I’ve laid enough groundwork up to now and I think my writing skills are now up to it.

            I’m seeing what I can accomplish from now till the 10th of December, then a month long break, and then 11 months of mad writing.

            Can I get a picture of you, I want to put it in the middle of a target above my desk – so that I think twice every time I want to stop writing.

          • Russell Blake  –  Sun 20th Nov 2011 at 4:19 pm

            I’m not accustomed to being anything but a cautionary tale as an example, so not sure I can help with the photo.

            Point is not to just churn drivel, obviously, but rather to grow accustomed to a sustainable rhythm, whatever that is. If it’s 2500 words a day, fine. That’s a novel every two months. Most of the battle is mental, because once your expectation level is raised and you view 1000 words as something you can do over coffee, you’re right. You create your own paradigm.

            Now, whether or not it sucks is a different matter. But I guarantee after adopting this approach, you’ll get better at whatever you are doing. It may take time. Malcolm Gladwell, in Outliers, makes a compelling case that it takes 10K hours of practice to get really good at it. I’ve clocked my 10K over the last few years, but it would have taken a lot longer if I hadn’t approached it the way I did. I jettisoned most of the early stuff, as it was lousy, or rather, wasn’t mature. You may wind up making the same call, or not. Depends. But if you view your writing in the light of shelving a couple of month’s work and just moving on, as opposed to a year down the tubes, I believe it also helps you better and more dispassionately evaluate the quality of your product as you go along. You aren’t nearly as emotionally invested in it, because you can always write a better one in two more months, at that 2500 word per day pace.

            I know I’m a freak. It took a long time till I could do 5K to 7500 high quality words per day. But I’m glad I invested the time in getting there, as now I’m not so limited by time, but more by imagination. Which is as it should be.

            Good luck on your journey. Let us know how it sorts out.

          • Gerhi Feuren  –  Sun 20th Nov 2011 at 3:41 pm

            Oh, and with the stand up desk you still get a back ache, only in different place. Spreading the misery around a bit.

  2. Fri 18th Nov 2011 at 6:37 pm

    You have found the creativity zone. Nurture it and enjoy it while you can!

    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 18th Nov 2011 at 7:50 pm

      I’m not sure enjoy would be what I’m feeling right now, as I’m sitting for the 30th straight day of 15 hour writing sessions, but nobody held a gun to my head. I’ll just be glad when this one is done. I need a few weeks to get some exercise and clear my head before I launch back into The Messiah Cipher. Thanks for the support, though.

  3. Sat 19th Nov 2011 at 12:41 am

    You’re definitely an inspiration! Very much looking forward to reading your next 5-star book! 😉

  4. Sat 19th Nov 2011 at 4:12 pm

    I write the same as you Russell, as you know and get a 130K book written, with re-writes out in about two months. Once my head is in the zone I don’t want to come out until it’s finished. 18hr day writing is the norm for me.
    Taking a break from it for re-writing of trilogy and being on here but when I start on a new one for the series, it’ll be head down as normal and no exceptions. I can’t write any other way.
    I applaud you for the amount of work you’ve produced in such a short time and it’s all quality work which I like to read, when I have time.

  5. Mon 21st Nov 2011 at 1:33 am

    Hi Russell, just caught you interview over at Ahedit. Enjoyed it very much and look forward to following your site and writing. Best of luck!

    • Russell Blake  –  Mon 21st Nov 2011 at 3:17 am

      Oh good. Glad you liked it. I felt good doing the interview.

      Welcome aboard. I’ll try to keep it interesting. Pulling into the home stretch now on the new one for Nano. Will finish out in the mid-80K range, I think. Probably my best to date. We’ll see, I guess.

  6. Wed 23rd Nov 2011 at 5:31 am

    Your blog is quite fascinating. Where do you sell your books? I am now following you on Twitter; please follow me back and like me on Facebook at and I will like you back if you send me your page URL there. Thanks!

    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 23rd Nov 2011 at 6:31 am

      They’re sold on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

      Glad you like the blog. I’ll check out and like your facebook manana.

  7. Sun 27th Nov 2011 at 12:22 am

    I added you to my buddy list. I wish I would have come back to your blog sooner, it’s always fun to watch the progress of an author you’ve read.


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