A bit more work

I’m still editing. It’s mostly boring work, but I am seeing things that need repair. I find editing tedious, and that means it doesn’t make good blog fodder either. I’ll suffice to say all three manuscripts are up to chapter 11, then leave it there.

Today, I used my headphone with some YouTube playlists. I really like this option, but the advertisements are a nightmare. There are probably some without ads, but I haven’t been lucky enough to find them. I have one that’s instrumental blues, one that’s called samurai warrior music, and one I’ve been saving. It’s all the spaghetti western music by Ennio Morricone. I’m open to hints as to where I can find ad-free versions of long playlists. I don’t mind one up front, or even the occasional peppering. One (in the middle) of every song is too much.

One thing I never mention is that I research constantly. Some things make it to my storyboards, others are simply notes to tuck away.

I learned something about LIDAR. This is kind of like radar, but it’s been used to discover lost civilizations in the rain forest and other places. I have a story way in the future that will need this information.

I need a name for a group of celebrity ghost hunters. They’re going to be obstacles for Lizzie and the hat sometime this Spring. I’m having no luck, but the best I came up with is The Four Clairs. (Meaning Clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience, and claircognizance.) I’m not thrilled with it, but might run with it.

Technetium is another discovery. It’s a radioactive, rare earth, material. I doubt it’s truly dangerous, but I can still write it that way. My idea involves aliens, and it’s way in the future. This one only has a sheet of notes. There isn’t even a storyboard yet, but I think there will be. I like the ideas I’m getting for this one.

I’ve also been looking up images of Alfred E. Neuman. It’s for a gag in one of the upcoming hat stories. Even some of the humor needs a bit of research.

Maybe this is one of my secrets. I have things developing all the time. Some of them will never get there. When I’m ready for a project, I usually have something pretty close to jump on.

I haven’t shared a Pinterest Board for a while, and some of you seem to enjoy them. I create these things for inspiration. Sometimes I return to them for ideas about creatures, settings, characters, and more. Not usually for main characters, but supporting things. Let’s go for one of the big ones today. This is my Fantasy Board https://pin.it/1JYU7Vm

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A different angle on editing

I’m down to the final reading of each manuscript. This is something I always do, but since I have three, there might be an option.

Today, I started out reading one chapter, then switching stories to do the same thing. Right now, I’m up to about seven on each story.

I did this, because when I get into the tale, I start enjoying it, then I miss things. I have no illusions about missing something. There’s always some stupid thing that gets published.

It honestly feels like it’s working better to do it this way. Doubt I’ll ever have three finished stories at the same time again, but this one time it feels right.

I’ve also decided I still have to do a final final reading only concentrate on one entire book. Maybe I made more work for myself, but if the product is some small degree better, it will be worth it.

I started watching The Last of Us on HBO last night. Pedro still has to impress me after that dismal Wonder Woman movie. Honestly, it doesn’t look like much goes into being The Mandalorian. That’s about my favorite thing of the last few years, but he’s a guy in a suit 99.9% of the time.

The girl from Game of Thrones is fun, but the one who died early on was, too. I am enjoying the settings. I can recognize some of the fungi that went into making them, like shelf mushrooms and slime molds.

I actually wrote slime molds into the SF book I’m editing right now. These things are cool, because they move, have a certain amount of memory, and a few other amazing things. I’m not creating zombies out of them, but modifying their genes to have them perform useful tasks, like identifying minefields.

The show makers seem to have done their research into fungi. They shouldn’t be completely bound by facts, and they aren’t, but it’s nice to see some of the small inclusions. Things like “root” systems that can cover miles. Some fungi could be the largest things on Earth if you consider acreage over weight.

Things otherwise are kind of boring. Work has been extreme and home feels like a food and sleep station around the office. Things seem to cycle like that, and I’m looking forward to a week where things dial back a little.

I might get another lap of editing this evening. Right now, I need the break, and might not return to it until Sunday.

Hope all of you are having a great weekend.

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I’m so tired…

I’m not afraid of work, never have been. I’m trying to remind myself this author gig is what I do for relaxation. Somehow, I failed today.

I had to deal with dicey WiFi all morning and a couple of router reboots. Then AutoCrit refused to load, so I had to paste my MS in there multiple times before it decided to work. I still blame the weak-assed signal. Eventually, I caught a strong section of signal and everything loaded.

I spent about 12 hours correcting grammar and punctuation in my SF novel. It always amazes me how many words are one letter different, and I found and corrected several of those. There were a lot of doubled words that needed killing, along with all the commas and question marks I had to fix.

Spelling and grammar apps don’t particularly appreciate science fiction either. Place and character names kind of make it cry.

Where did my fun and relaxation go?

On the other hand, I am overjoyed at getting this leg finished. All three books have passed this waypoint. I still have some specific word searches I want to do next, but hope the technology might have eliminated that phase for me. I’ll still test it out.

The last lap will be to read them all to see if things make sense.

It looks like I won’t be drafting anything for another few weeks, but this part has to get done. Before I start back up, there are a few books I want to read, too. I decided to stay in this phase for a while longer. I’m not hurting for drafts and will dedicate as much time as I must here.

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Ugh! Editing

I got to the writing cabin kind of late today. Old What’s Her Face and I usually have Sunday breakfast at home, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the week. Nothing too fancy, just really nice.

It’s also the day I call my Mother and I dedicated an hour to that.

Drafting new material is my favorite part of the job. I love the process of coming up with new characters and having them interact. Today, I had to grit my teeth and start editing.

I walked into the cabin’s living room which serves as the public-facing office.

A talking yak debated something with a talking hat. A retired leg-man was discussing the breakdown of modern society with a Chinese monk woman who carried a huge guandao.

Lisa Burton, the robot girl was in a dither trying to get root monsters down from the antler chandelier.

Percy, the Space Chimp pointed a hairy finger from across the room. “I got a bone to pick with you.”

I slammed the door, and returned to my vehicle. “Nope.”

I returned home and parked myself in a spare room we use for an office. The old Mac opened the AutoCrit website just fine, and I was able to upload my manuscript. However, it never highlighted a damned thing.

It feels great to produce a perfect draft, but I never have and something was wrong. I wanted to use my iPad to make the actual edits.

The site works perfectly on the iPad, and my dreams of a perfect MS were shot down.

I wound up using the split-screen feature and the iPad for everything. This isn’t particularly easy, because the text is so small in split screen. Clicking on AutoCrit’s suggestions is a little more touchy at this small size, too.

I admit to chickening out on the big stuff and worked on The Hat story because of its size. I managed to fix all of my typical mistakes. Mostly missing punctuation. I seem to miss a lot of question marks when I draft.

I have the free version of AutoCrit, so I don’t have all of its amazing features. Still helpful with spelling and punctuation. I had one word spelled wrong about five times. At least I was consistent.

That hat story moves into the TBR editing pile. I think I’ll take on the swamp story in the morning. I dread this stuff, but it must be done.

It’s been a while since I shared a Pinterest Board. This is a good one for all authors. Sometimes we all need location and setting. Check it out and let me know what you think https://pin.it/3ILyqyc

This one has markets, catacombs, a street of birdcages, public gardens and more.

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Am I done? Maybe.

My only goal today was to do some writing. I’ve previously mentioned that Once Upon a Time in the Swamp required a long denouement.

My intent here was to wrap things up, but also provide a potential future for Mari. I have no intention of a sequel, but I want readers to know life goes on after her traumatic events. Today, I reached that point.

Mari’s tale came in over 70,000 words, but that’s not real lengthy. I’m of the mind a story will be as long as it needs to be. I like the story, but there are always things to second guess about one. Time for that later.

At some point, I’m going to have to spend some real money on cover art for all these stories. I think they’re worth the cost of good art, and that industry also needs a few patrons. In fact that gives me an idea for a possible Story Empire post in the future.

It’s time for me to embrace the thing I hate most about these projects… editing. I have three finished books at this time. They are tentatively called:

Of Space Chimps & Asteroids

Goodbye Old Paint

Once Upon a Time in the Swamp

I think I’ll pick up Percy the Space Chimp and see if I can shove his story through AutoCrit. This is somewhat dubious, because I’m going to have to try using the ancient Mac for the website, and my iPad for the corrections. Things were so much simpler when I had two iPads, but iOS won’t let the old one update anymore.

I don’t expect this to be a single day event, and know it won’t be particularly easy. If I can make that work, my next step will be to read it from start to finish and make it suitable for the public. This one will be held back until I can write two more volumes.

After that, the other titles will follow that same path… maybe.

Already second guessing this. Old Paint is a Hat story, and therefore, the shortest of the three. Maybe I should try this experiment on that one first. Ugh!

Either way, I’m determined to start this next phase this weekend. That means no drafting of new material for at least a month. Deep breath, but it’s time to shift gears now. Fingers crossed.

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Guest Post – The Last Drive by John W. Howell #newbook

Let’s all welcome John Howell to the Entertaining Stories blog. John is a dear friend, one of my collaborators at Story Empire, and a prolific blogger. He’s also one hell of an author.

He’s here to tell us about his newest release. Please use those sharing buttons to help him out. I know he’s done it for me, and I’m pretty sure he’s shared your promos, too. The place is yours, John.

I am so pleased to be with you today, Craig`. I want to thank you for helping to spread the word about The Last Drive. I have been impressed on your ability to develop characters and storylines that are chock full of personality and excitement. I had not thought about creating a sequel to Eternal Road. One day though it struck me that the story was probably half finished. I decided that the characters deserved to at least have a story that was a definitive conclusion. I’m glad to say that I feel the story is complete now.

Here is the blurb and then we can get to a short excerpt from the book.

The Blurb

In the sequel to Eternal Road – The final stop, Sam and James are reunited to look for two souls, Ryan and Eddie. Ryan was killed in Afghanistan, trying to avoid a schoolyard with his crippled plane. Eddie Rickenbacker, Ryan’s hero, is to guide Ryan to his Eternal Home, and now both are missing.

The higher-ups believe that there has been some interference in Ryan and Eddie’s journey by Lucifer, so Sam and James have the task of finding Ryan and Eddie to get them back on the road despite the evil interference. Unfortunately, the machinations designed to prevent Ryan and Eddy from completing their journey take the pair to horrifying testing grounds. The places visited represent the best work of the Devil. They are the trenches of World War I in France, gladiators at the Roman Coliseum, the sinking Titanic in 1912, Hiroshima 45 minutes before the bomb, and the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1943.

This book is for you if you like plenty of action, strong characters, time travel, and a touch of spiritual and historical fiction. So, join Sam and James as they try to find the missing souls while staying one step ahead of the Prince of Darkness, who is determined to destroy all that is good.

An Excerpt.

“First of all, God is too busy to concern Himself with the whereabouts of one soul.”

Sam holds up two fingers. “Two?”

The Archangel waves his hand. “Whatever. The point is, it is my job to run interference on these kinds of problems so God can focus on the important stuff.”

Sam shrugs. “I would think having Lucifer run wild with souls on the Eternal Road is crucial.”

“Yes, but it is still not worthy of Divine Intervention.” The Archangel flushes with frustration.

“So, you want me to go and find the two of them with no backup from the Chief?”

The Archangel frowns. “I do not know what the big deal is all of a sudden. You handled Lucifer just fine the last time.”

“I had to call back home and get someone to come down and smite him.”

The Archangel sits up straighter. “Yes, and if that is the situation this time around, we can do the same thing.”

“Promise?”

The Archangel’s eyebrows jump in surprise. “I am an Archangel, for Heaven’s sake. My word is golden.”

Sam glances down. “Sorry, Sir. I get nervous when I think of having to take on Lucifer alone.”

“So, take James with you. You two seemed to hit it off, and he proved valuable, as things turned out.”

Sam shakes her head. “I don’t know about that, Sir. James fell in love with me, and I broke his heart. He might not want to go along. Even if he did offer to go, there’s a genuine chance he’ll fall in love all over again.”

“You know we have ways to handle that eventuality. James has not thought about you once since you left him in his Eternal Home.”

Sam stares the Archangel in the eye. “You sure?”

The Archangel holds her gaze. “I guarantee it.”

Sam shrugs. “Well, then it might work. I do think James would be a great partner for this kind of mission.”

A Link to the Trailer

Buy Links

The Last Drive is available in paper and Kindle editions on Amazon. Here are the universal links. The Kindle edition is on sale for 99¢ through mid-February.

Kindle https://mybook.to/FYmkKr

Paper https://mybook.to/BCsWV

Author Bio

John is an award-winning author who after an extensive business career began writing full time in 2012. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. He has written Six other books that are on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Lakeway, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Author links

Blog Fiction Favorites, http://johnwhowell.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Twitter –https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave

Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

Amazon Author’s page –https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/john-w-howell

Eternal Road Buy links

Kindle Universal link  mybook.to/EternalRoad

Paper universal link mybook.to/Eternalroadpaper

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Weekend Effort

I had some good intentions, but failed once again. I managed about an hour of writing on Saturday with the intent of a bit more today.

When I stopped, Old What’s Her Face was on the phone with our daughter. She was doing laundry and being bored. I mentioned that if she drove to Boise, we would buy her dinner as a joke.

It took legs from there. Our daughter brought two large baskets of laundry and ran it through our machines.

We wound up going to Olive Garden because it’s our daughter’s favorite. I have to admit being impressed with their new menu. My meal was wonderful

She stayed this morning until around 3:00, and I’m not going to dive into my MS this late in the day. It was virtually a lost weekend, but I’ll take it.

I already mentioned that in three months or so, our daughter is going to leave the state. Seeing her will become damned near impossible after that, so I’ll take all I can get.

There will be other weekends, and I will finish this project eventually. Back to work tomorrow.

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My 2023 Business Plan

Now that all the resolutions posts have come and gone, it’s time to share my business plan.

This is one of those posts that always seems to draw attention and good comments. I write one of these out every year and share it. Keeps me focused.

2021 and 2022 were brutal. This caused me to set realistic goals last year, and the theme will continue into 2023.

Everything needs an edit, but I have book one of a Space Opera finished. There is another Lizzie and the hat book in the same status. I’m very close to finishing Once Upon a Time in the Swamp, a stand-alone title.

Setting the bar at two publications seems realistic enough. One Hat story and the solo title should work out well. There is still one draft to finish and a lot of editing, but it sounds entirely possible. I could have a third one, but that will be gravy above and beyond the goal.

Most of my focus is going to be on drafts. I have another fun Hat tale ready to go. I have years of material for that series. I need to write the second volume of the space opera and that’s really my target project.

Aside from that, I want to work on some storyboards for new things. I tend to plot years ahead, but admit to not always making a storyboard for the hat stories. I dwell on some of this stuff so long I don’t always have to map it out.

With these new tales, I’d feel more comfortable with a good storyboard. One of the things I’ve done with The Hat Series is keep the POV with my main characters who are not witches. We get glimpses that can make readers think, but not a deep dive into my witchcraft world. One of my new ideas is tentatively called Dash Goodman and the Last of the Mud Men. Dash would be the main character and readers would get a closer look at the magical world. Don’t get too excited, because this might be two years, or more, out.

I already know what kind of airplane Dash will steal, who his sidekick/girlfriend will be, and even a familiar that he’s going to summon. I can introduce some Native American culture into this one. This one requires some mystery boxes and ties that I haven’t quite gotten nailed down. It will cover several things that I’ve alluded to in the main series, but haven’t gone into detail.

I have another one that ties much more loosely to the Hat world about two kids in Detroit. My idea is to get a bit of Indiana Jones style while exploring abandoned homes and businesses. Ultimately, one of the items they recover would lead one of them to become a magical adapter. In the main series we’ve touched upon a tiny bit of that. My bigger intent would be to have a fun adventure story. I’ve already discovered the Maguffin from a bit of American history. Less committed to this one, but it has potential.

I had a new character come to me almost fully formed and I want to explore what she might have to offer. She feels like she’s reaching her expiration date, has an upper teenage son, and a dead end job. She’s a reporter who is only allowed to do fluff pieces and gossip articles. She wants to do more, but her whole organization avoids hard news because people want fluff, character assassination, and gossip. Somehow, this one feels like uncovering proof that aliens visited Earth at some point. Not completely sure about her, but she’s a fun character with some interesting quirks. I kind of want her to look up a discredited former reporter to learn the ropes, but he was revealed as a workplace womanizer and has a really bad attitude. I already have a bittersweet ending for it that works for this era.

Main Goals:

1.) Publish Goodbye Old Paint and Once Upon a Time in the Swamp.

2.) Draft the second book of the space opera and another hat tale. (Probably the one with the Headless Horseman and the horse racing world.)

Gravy Goals:

A.) Draft another story. Maybe the Red Pill/Blue Pill tale for Lizzie and the hat unless the Space Opera takes on some momentum in my mind.

B.) Storyboard my guts out on these other tales.

C.) Consider if my African Adventure tale could be valid.

It may look like a lot, but there are only two main goals. (Okay, each of those has two commitments.) I think that much is realistic, and anything else that happens is gravy.

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Vacation’s over

This is it for my big vacation. Back to the office tomorrow to see how far behind I am. At least it was during the holidays, so it might not be so bad.

One of the things I really enjoyed was being a more frequent blogger. I like chatting with you guys and it’s a shame the workaday world changed my schedule so dramatically. I’ll probably be back to a weekly post in no time.

I added a ton of words to my remaining WIP. Today, Mari finally made it home to discover squatters on her farm. I’m this close to finishing this project, but it will have to wait until a weekend or two.

I scheduled my next Story Empire post for later this month. I managed to milk three posts from this topic and I hope you check out my Creature Feature posts.

I also hacked out and scheduled my 2023 business plan post. That one should go live sometime on Wednesday. I’ll handle comments before the commute, but won’t get back around to them until after work.

There are three books of edits, rereads, and modifications ahead of me now. Once this tale is finished, it might be months before I tackle a new draft.

I accomplished a lot during my time off. I managed a short but wonderful visit with my daughter. I took a brief nap nearly every day. We binge watched some good stuff on the streaming channels, and it’s hard to stop at this point.

Still, the actual paycheck covers the bills and it’s time to return to that world.

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The economics of fireworks

Now that I think about it, that could be a good book title. It isn’t what I’m up to today.

For years, New Year’s Eve here has been like a war zone. My wife almost always has to work, and the bedroom lights up like we have a photographer in there and the explosions go off until sunrise.

This year, a few anemic pops about nine o’clock and that was it. How could this be? Why? What changed?

We didn’t lose those neighbors. They’re still here.

The fact is that Americans are currently underpaid. Disagree all you like, but I learned my economics during the Reagan administration. I, and most like me, had money to burn and burn it we did. We bought snowmobiles, new shotguns, pickups, etc. (We were western kids.)

This allowed people who operated those business to also thrive. The money moved around. I was there. I saw it in action.

Now here we are at New Years Eve (Last night). Honestly, I don’t miss the fireworks. The dogs don’t either, but it isn’t hard to draw conclusions. People don’t have any money right now. Those who do are hanging on to it. Never know when there will be another toilet paper run. Things like fireworks take a back seat to food and fuel.

That was just my observation from last night. Probably has no real value to anyone. Least of all those who have initiated their own personal space programs.

I called Mom this morning and spent a lovely hour with her. After that I managed to pull Mari’s fat from the fire, but it was touch and go for a while. Not a great volume of words, but I’m now ready to dive head first into the long denouement this story deserves.

I hope you all celebrated in some way, even if it was a bit more demure.

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