A Banner Day for me

I knew company was coming this weekend and really wanted to get some things done before they arrived. They’re here now, but I made the most of this morning.

I have dual points of view in this story. Obviously, Lizzie is getting the bulk of screen time, but there is a detective, Joe Yoder, who is chasing what he thinks is a murderer. He’s kind of cool, because he communicates with his dead wife during the story. Neither Joe, nor his wife, have any paranormal abilities.

The day started out with Lizzie staking out the monster, but did not work out according to plan. As the victims pile up, she and my cop wound up on the same lonely street.

It wound up not being a great moment for him, but he’s chasing something he cannot understand. This is clearly Lizzie’s territory. She’s kind of soft hearted and doesn’t want him to get killed while trying to do his job. This led to a conflict that involved some of the hat’s special powers.

What I liked is that Joe also has a supernatural father. I’ve known this since before I started drafting this one. Joe plays a prominent role in this story, but he started off in my imagination as the herald to the next story which will heavily feature his father.

I used this section to discuss the secret between Joe and his dead wife. That way, readers get a clue, but Lizzie and the hat do not. The next book is going to dive deeper into the witchcraft community, and Joe’s dad will be a big part of that.

Joe got a lot of depth from this, because he blames his father for letting his wife die. He’s wrong, and I’ll have to weave in some kind of minimal reconciliation.

The trick is going to be keeping these as stand-alone stories in the series. Right now, I don’t think readers have to read Lunar Boogie in order to understand Good Liniment. My critique partners will help me on this point.

It was a banner day for me. I didn’t hit 5000 words, but I broke 4900 before I ran out of gas. I’m pretty happy with what I produced.

The weekend is for enjoying my company. I might get another writing day on Monday.

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First day of Staycation

I took a couple of days off with the goal of working on my manuscripts. I kind of needed some time anyway. I never took any holiday time, allowing others to have whatever they wanted.

Yesterday was my flex day and it was a bust. I’ve had an eye appointment for weeks, and made it for my normal day off. That canceled out any ability to write, but I knew it would.

Turns out my far sightedness has gotten worse. This leads to new prescriptions and I decided to get new frames at the same time. We have insurance and a flex account, so why not?

I also lost a couple of days this weekend, because my in-laws are coming. It’s good for me to socialize, so it will be fine. It makes days like today more important though.

My start was kind of slow. I took my time making coffee and tending dogs. I even read blogs before I decided what to work on.

As is my norm, I read my last chapter before I started. Then added to the story about Lizzie and the hat. It started off with humor, a musical performance, and some of her band mates having fun at the expense of the saxophone player. Lizzie and the hat exchanged barbs about wet tee-shirt contests.

Then things got real serious. I brought in some isolation, and close proximity to the possible killer in this story. I stopped there, but it’s going to be a long night for Lizzie. Might be a sad one, too.

I’m excited for this section, but it’s time to stop. I find it’s always better to stop when I have something screaming at me for the next day. Company won’t show up until Friday night, so tomorrow should be productive. I also have the Monday holiday for writing as well.

I’ll have to put together something for a new character I introduced as well. It’s about time for he and Lizzie to meet up. There are some fun things planned for that, and it will give him a lot more depth.

My hope here is to end this one well, but also on a bummer note. I don’t know how that will work out as far as keeping the books as possible stand-alone reading, but it will set up events for the next volume. I’ll have to rely on my critique group to give me feedback there. They can’t weigh in until I write it, so I’ll keep forging ahead.

I’m sure it needs some work, but today’s effort came to 3300 words. This is a good day by my standards.

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Book Review – The Ballad of Mrs Moloney – C.S. Boyack

Lizzie and the hat get some love over at Jessica’s place today. Go to her site and check it out. While you’re there, check out Guns of Perdition. It’s a weird western that I really enjoyed.

Jessica Bakkers

You all know by now I’m a huge fan of C.S. Boyack. From the moment I read “The Hat”, I was hooked, and after “Viral Blues” I concurred that these stories about a snarky talking hat and his symbiotic friendship with ‘gal-with-a-heart-of-gold’ Lizzie St Laurent, were my favourite stories in Boyack’s impressive repertoire. So, when I learned about a new ‘hat’ installment, “The Ballad of Mrs Moloney”, I was jazzed to say the least.

The Ballad of Mrs. Molony (The Hat Book 3) by [C. S. Boyack]“Mrs Moloney” picks up where “Viral Blues” left off, with Lizzie and the Hat just doing their thing, working gigs, getting by, and obsessively shopping the internet for stuff a five-hundred-odd year old hat finds cool (forgive me if I’m off on the Hat’s age – his history is so damn rich it’s hard to keep track of his age, and you know, he hardly shows any wrinkles).

Lizzie and the…

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Did what I could today

Sundays are never good writing days for me. This is the day I call my parents, and that usually eats up a considerable part of the morning. The other bookend is when Old What’s Her Face gets home from work.

Since I just saw my parents, and they’re coming tomorrow to get the repairs finished, our conversation was short. What to do? What to do?

I cracked open the Lanternfish MS, read the two previous chapters, then started writing. James and crew are on the open ocean once more and headed for war. Piracy is a distant memory for now.

I even managed a good section with root monster antics. Today’s effort only came to 1500 words, but I like what I accomplished. Chapters have to bounce between characters since some of them are in other places right now. I feel like it was a productive day.

I also addressed the Lanternfish critiques I’ve been parked on. This chapter was about my married cons, and the game they’re working. My experts seemed to like it, but I made plenty of boneheaded mistakes to address.

I also wrote my next post for Story Empire. I’ll get it scheduled sometime this afternoon.

While none of it seems outstanding by itself, when you tally it all up, I had a pretty good writing day. I was due, and feel good about how the weekend shaped up.

Hope all of you had wonderful weekends, too.

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The Jaws Conundrum

This post might ramble a little bit, but that’s how weekend posts work. My parents visited during the week, and they brought my brother with them. I haven’t seen him for a while and it was nice to spend some time together.

They’re having car troubles and their tiny hometown doesn’t offer the options that Boise does. They got the stupid thing diagnosed, but have to come back next week to get the work done. Unfortunately, all of this happened, and will happen, on days I have to work.

I can’t take any credit for this one, but my brother had a cool analogy and I wanted to share it with all of you. Basically, the Covid Crisis is Jaws.

Chief Brody wanted to close the beaches and keep everyone safe until he could sort out the shark and restore the natural order.

Mayor Larry was worried about the economy. He was willing to sacrifice a tourist or two to preserve the summer economy and keep the locals fed all winter.

Obviously, the shark played the role of the virus in this analogy. Basically, we have to choose whether we are team Brody or team Larry.

It’s probably late in the game for this analogy, but I thought it was clever and wanted to share it with you guys.

In other news, I had the house to myself today. I never kept count, but I added a couple thousand words to Lunar Boogie. It was mostly fun stuff between Lizzie and the hat and kind of became a slice of life. The banter came out good, it has some decent humorous bits, and I’m pleased with it.

The next section will involve another brutal murder and I intend to ramp up the personal tension for Lizzie. This one has a side character and it’s about time for him to meet up with Lizzie, too.

About all I could manage during the week was to send off a section of Lanternfish to my group. I have their critiques back and will probably address them tomorrow. I also have to write and schedule my next post for Story Empire. I have an idea, but it’s going to be challenging.

Hope all of you are having a good weekend, and stay out of the “water.”

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Lorelei Comes for a Visit

My company left at around 10:30 this morning. I haven’t honestly had a writing day since before Christmas and was looking forward to some quality time.

I arrived at the writing cabin and got ready to work. My robotic personal assistant, Lisa Burton dropped off some coffee, then waited for instructions. She wore boots and leggings and an oversized sweatshirt with a wide collar, exposing one bare shoulder.

“I need to read what I have before I get started. It’s been so long I can’t decide whether to pick up the Lanternfish story or the one about the hat.”

“If you need anything, just yell. I’ll be in the front seeing if there are any online bargains today.”

I had started reading Lunar Boogie when Lisa returned. “You have a visitor.”

Just what I needed on the first quality day in weeks.

Lorelei, the Muse, stepped around Lisa and into my writing office. She was as tall as Lisa, but less curvy. Beautiful in a Greek goddess kind of way. “What’s this I read about you toning things down in 2021?”

I held my palms forward in a gesture of peace. “That was about my publishing schedule. I want to satisfy the fans and get some series books out there. After that, who knows what I might do.”

“That’s where I have a problem. Your act of creation fuels me. I let you take some time off last summer, but it can’t become a habit. In fact, you haven’t been behind the keyboard since mid-December.”

“Calm down. There’s a difference between publishing and writing.”

“I’m listening.” She moved to the recliner in the corner and sat down.

Lisa took a place on the couch in case there were assignments.

“I intend to publish those two books, but will keep writing. I have several storyboards and am kind of missing my stand-alone stories.”

“That doesn’t sound like a plan. Maybe you just need some inspiration.”

“That’s as good as you’re getting right now.”

“Did you know the laws of salvage are nothing like people think? They’re actually about how a good samaritan deserves compensation.”

“Seems like a quick change in topic, and one of your tricks to me.”

“If someone were to rescue or preserve something, could be goods, or even part of a ship, they receive a lien against those items. The owner has to make good on the lien before claiming the goods.”

“So, it’s not just finders keepers?”

“Not at all. In fact, you could be charged with theft by keeping the items.”

“What if there’s nobody left alive to claim the items?”

“The country of origin can also participate. Spain will occasionally make a claim when someone discovers a sunken treasure ship.”

“That’s a maritime system, and I don’t see it working in the Lanternfish plot.”

“Just because something is on your property doesn’t make it yours, either. Otherwise, whenever someone walked in here you could claim everything they have.”

“That’s right, so pull that top off and hand it to me.”

“Ha ha. Nice try.”

“So, you’re telling me that if an alien ship crashed on my ranch, I can’t claim the wreckage. I can render a service and claim compensation, but can’t keep what I find.”

“Seems about right.”

“But the country, or planet of origin, could make a claim in our Earth courts.”

“In theory, yes.”

“I think if it were me, I’d take as many pictures as possible. Save them to a thumb-drive to protect them from government deletion, then share the photos with every news service and social media format I could find. The government couldn’t cover it up then.”

“Might make you a fugitive.”

“Almost certainly. If I filed my claim right away, there would also be a court record. That’s a bit safer place for the evidence.”

Lisa leaned forward. “The aliens probably wouldn’t go to court. You might gain possession by default, given enough time.”

“If only it weren’t for the damned Feds. They’ll try to take everything and claim it was a weather balloon. They won’t get away with it, because I have photographic evidence and good filings in the court. Once something is in the court record, they aren’t going to cough it up.”

“Looks to me like even losing possession of the wreckage, you’re poised to make yourself a celebrity speaker and go down in history as bringing the existence of aliens to the general public,” Lisa said.

“I’d need a place to hide for a while. I’m sure the Air Force or FBI would want to haul me in. It would have to be off the grid someplace.”

“You’d be dodging those guys for months.”

Lorelei stood, then dusted her palms together. “I think I’m finished here. Good to see you both again.”

“Wait a minute,” I protested. “You played me, but it won’t work. I have my own storyboards to jump on.”

“Looks like my little scheme failed. I’ll let you get back to your writing. Have a happy new year.”

“You, too,” Lisa said.

I watched Lorelei walk down the hall until she turned into the living room that served as the front office. “Did you keep any notes?”

“Your robot girl is on the job.” Lisa polished her nails on her sweatshirt. “I have a video recording of the entire meeting.”

“Why don’t you reduce the video to notes. I’ll get set up for storyboarding, and we can work on it together.”

“That sounds fun.”

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Business Plan 2021

It looks like that time again. I try to prepare a business plan for my writing career every January. These have been some of my most popular posts over the years, but that isn’t why I write them. I feel like everything is better with a little planning.

I’m sure this is no surprise, since I’ve posted both here and at Story Empire about my storyboarding method for plotting out my stories.

Mostly, I write these to keep myself honest. I refer back to them throughout the year to see how I’m doing. Let’s dive into it.

A few years ago, I decided my best promotional move was to write my next book. I’ve gotten discouraged with advertising that fails to produce, social media that sucks time, but doesn’t seem to do much else, so I write.

Honestly, it seems to be working. I can’t explain it exactly, but if someone were to pull up my Amazon page, it appears that I’m somewhat seasoned and in it for the long haul. Perhaps people are more willing to take a chance on me more than someone who only has one book. No idea, but it makes some sense.

It’s not that readers pick up everything I write. If someone likes paranormal tales, I have a few. Same thing for science fiction and fantasy. Some are like me and read all those genres, but I can appeal to the specialists now, too.

For the last two years, I’ve published three books per year. It’s kind of a grueling pace, but it was worth it.

This year, my goal is two publications. I want to complete my Lanternfish trilogy and get it out the door. I’ve already started on the final volume, but it’s been slow going. Too many holidays and not enough quality time.

The other book I’m working on is a continuation of The Hat series. Since this is an ongoing series, I don’t feel as much pressure as I do with Lanternfish. I have a couple of storyboards for volumes beyond the one I’m writing, and a few solid ideas with notes started.

Last year, a couple of things changed for me, and forced me to make a decision. My cover art and Lisa Burton promotional pieces took much longer than I was used to. I kind of overwhelmed my critique group, too. My choices were to start another project while I waited to publish the completed ones, or take a break. I took a break.

I know this doesn’t seem like me, but I needed it and I imagine my critique partners appreciated the few months off, too. I didn’t exactly kick back during this time. I spent it getting ready for two extensive blog tours. I make all my promo stops unique, so writing ahead was a good idea.

Timing of publications continues to vex me. I would like to hit one right before school lets out in the Spring, and the other around Halloween sometime. I’m not sure I’ve ever hit the Springtime target before, but have been moderately successful in the Fall.

By publishing two books instead of three, maybe that will simplify a few things. Maybe not, because Grinders in late Winter went off without a hitch.

I intend to use any spare time I have drafting something new. I don’t know what that will be yet, but I could go on the African adventure, maybe the post apocalyptic piece that’s set in the swamp, or something set in outer space. That last one seems to want to be a trilogy again.

The idea of another trilogy kind of drags me down, and excites me at the same time. For one thing, I could do things differently this time. I could hold the entire thing back while I finish it, then go for quicker releases after it’s finished. This would make it my side project for a couple of years.

Lanternfish was only intended to be a stand-alone story. Comments and feedback convinced me to turn it into a trilogy. With one already on Amazon, the others have to come along as they can.

I need to make some decisions on how to promote Wreck of the Lanternfish. I could promote the book, the whole series, or a bit of both. I could go on two different blog tours; one for the book, then months later for the whole trilogy.

I might be able to use some discount days or free days to promote with, too. James is clearly the main character, but Serang has become a co-main character along the way. Her origin story has never been on sale and walks readers into the trilogy. I could do something similar with Voyage of the Lanternfish, or both.

Promotion is like dowsing to me. I’m open to suggestions here, so don’t be afraid to speak up.

Last year, my blogging goal was to post two to three times per week. This came after years of posting four times per week, because Lisa Burton Radio was always on Thursdays. With retirement of Lisa’s show, it should have been easy to meet. I failed completely.

This is the one thing I will blame on Covid. Many of my posts are a slice of life. With all the lockdowns, working from home, and all the rest, there wasn’t much life to share. I’ve been lucky to make a weekend post for the last few months. I don’t know if this will change, so I’m not setting a goal here. I will keep updating Entertaining Stories, and meet my Story Empire assignments. Anything beyond that will have to be an extra.

Then there is social media. During my summer break, I kind of bailed on it. It never really has produced anything for me, and I spent some time changing out my pinned tweets and all the rest. I changed it almost weekly when I promoted the Experimental Notebooks. My blog automatically feeds to most of them, and I still share all of your things when I can. I just stopped actively participating.

Prior to my break, I used to go through my feed and retweet all of your posts, share the bigger things on Facebook, etc. Now it’s mostly posts from your blogs.

Older rules were that we had to be active on social media, because that’s where readers find us. It made perfect sense, but I never really saw it function in real-time. Interest in blogs seems to be slowing down, too, but it’s about all I have left. It also seems to be the only thing that will sell books from time to time, so I’m all-in here.

My goals aren’t as severe this year. Two publications that I already have partial manuscripts for. Keep the blogs up, and dabble in social media. Spend any spare time drafting something new.

Weigh in today. Teach me your promotional tricks. Do you prepare a business plan every year, or is that just me?

They say all posts perform better with a picture, so here you go. Frankie likes to help Mom make the bed, particularly when the bedding is warm from the dryer.

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A Very Short Update

Old What’s Her Face is off this weekend. Even though the holiday gave me a three day weekend, I don’t see myself getting much writing done.

I did send out a critique section and already received some of the feedback.

A portion of my day was spent writing out my 2021 business plan. Today was a day for Happy New Year posts, and I didn’t want it to get lost in a sea of those. Although, a Saturday post probably won’t perform all that well either. The plan is usually one of my more popular posts of the year, so we’ll see.

Old What’s Her Face turned on a show called His Dark Materials early this morning, and the episodes have been on all day long. They’re still on as I type this out. Honestly, I wasn’t that impressed with The Golden Compass, and it’s a deeper dive into those stories.

Even though I’m not into it particularly, it’s also distracting. I’ll probably start another storyboard for a future Hat story after I post this. I have a reasonable idea and some cool concepts. That’s where they all start, and maybe it will develop before time to write it.

Hope all of you started your new year on a positive note.

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Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Past Book Reviews 2020 – #Fantasy – The Hat by C.S. Boyack

Check out this review from Sally’s blog. If you don’t know Sally, you really should. She’s an incredible supporter of the indie author community, and has a few of her own wares available at her site. Look around while you’re there.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I have read some amazing books in the last 12 months and I would like to share them again with you, updated with the authors most recent releases and their biography.

We all tend to focus on the books we are currently marketing, but particularly in the case of series it is a good idea to promote earlier books to encourage readers to start at the beginning.

Today I am featuring The Hatby C.S. Boyack that I reviewed in January 2020

About the book

Lizzie St. Laurent is dealing with many of the struggles of young life. She lost her grandmother, and her living arrangements. Her new roommate abandoned her, and she’s working multiple jobs just to keep her head above water.

She inherits an old hat from her grandmother’s estate, but it belonged to her grandfather. This is no ordinary hat, but a being from an alternate dimension…

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My Annual Assessment, 2020

Well, here we are. We all know what this year was about. Political strife, a global pandemic, and seeing humanity at its worst, with glimpses of us at our best.

With the Christmas holiday, I kind of checked out. We went to our son’s and spent time with the grandkids. Our daughter was here for Christmas dinner, and we’ve been watching movies. I enjoyed myself, despite the restrictions we all face.

This is supposed to be about my annual assessment, so I’d better get on with it. Some of you are probably expecting some doom and gloom, and nobody will blame you, but that’s not how I see my year.

It all started out with such promise. 2020 was the Year of the Rat. I was born on the Year of the Rat. My first publication came out on Chinese New Year, and it features a couple of rats and the parade in San Francisco. It seemed like the table was all set.

Grinders did okay. It has some great reviews, but could use some more. Reviews seem to be harder to come by these days. I think it’s some of my best work and would like to get it to a few more readers.

Performance and reviews are kind of going to be the subject for a few paragraphs. I had an ambitious schedule and succeeded in publishing three books. The next two were continuations of series, which is something new to me.

HMS Lanternfish is book two of a trilogy. It sets up some things that will happen in the final volume, which I’m writing currently. I don’t know what it means, but HMS Lanternfish has less than half the number of reviews than Voyage of the Lanternfish.

I know Voyage has been available for a year longer, so that makes some sense. I also know that it’s a small dataset. Hard to draw conclusions with those kind of numbers.

Rumor has it that with trilogies sometimes the sales pick up after the whole trilogy is available. Some readers have been burned by authors who never finished the job. I understand that, but am working on the concluding tale.

Then there is the Ballad of Mrs. Molony. This is the third entry into the world of Lizzie and the hat. These have all been well received, but nowhere near as popular as the original volume. This is my open ended series, and I intend to keep it going for a few more years. I’m also currently working on volume four of this series.

It’s important to remember that reviews aren’t the same thing as sales. Most books sell more than what they garner in reviews and mine are no exception.

I also took most of the summer off. Three publications per year, for two consecutive years, got kind of draining.

I wanted to post at Entertaining Stories somewhere between two and three times per week. The year started off that way, but in the last month or so I’m lucky to get one weekend post put up.

I will blame some of this on Covid. My blog includes a slice of life along with the antics of Lisa Burton, or my word metrics updates. With Covid, there hasn’t been much of a life at all, let alone a slice worth sharing with the world.

Another excuse is also blog tour fatigue. When promoting three publications, there are a lot of blog tour posts. They fatigue me, and my readers. I keep every post unique, so they’re worth reading, and that is a bit draining.

The Story Empire blog is another pet project. I kept my end of the bargain and covered all my assigned days. I write this every year, but I’m wondering how much more I have to offer over there. I love helping others, and will keep chipping away at it. There comes a point where I have to rewrite and repackage some of my content. New writers are always showing up, so it kind of works. I already have my first January post written and scheduled.

To wrap all this up, I think 2020 was successful. There was a lot to overcome, and we’re all still dealing with it. However, I published three books, interacted with many of you, and met all my goals. In a different year, I might whine a little about low success, but in 2020 I’ll take it.

Once 2021 arrives, I’ll trot out a business plan and we can all converse about that.

Talk to me. How did your business year play out?

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