It was date night

Last night Old What’s Her Face decided she wanted to go to dinner. She mentioned La Tapatia, which is one of our favorite places. The food was phenomenal, like always.

The service was a bit slower than usual, but that seems to be a theme everywhere. I’ve even seen some places close for a day or two because they don’t have employees available.

During this waiting period we did what all loving couples do in the modern era. We gazed into each other’s eyes. Scratch that. We picked up our cell phones and ignored each other like a true American couple.

I spotted something on Facebook that Krispy Kreme has pumpkin doughnuts available already.

We swung by and picked up a dozen on the way home.

The one with the swirly top is supposed to be a pumpkin cappuccino, and new on the list. There is also a pumpkin cheesecake filled variety, but our dozen didn’t include any of those.

I wanted to taunt everyone about how awesome they were. However, they really weren’t. They were all pretty bland, and if you handed me one and asked me what the flavor was, I could not tell you. Guess we fell victim to marketing, but the product didn’t deliver.

Right now, I’m watching the Star Wars marathon, and blogging. Old What’s Her Face is currently making her own cheese cake. Bet it’s a damned sight better than those doughnuts were.

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A reasonable effort

From a purely numbers point of view, I managed three-quarters of one chapter. It was already started, and I finished it.

Every story comes with its own challenges, and this Hat story is no different. This time, the problem comes to Lizzie, but she knows where and what it is from the very first chapter. There is no big mystery to unravel.

It involves a swarm of gremlins at a national security agency. This is a real place in St. Louis, and since these stories are in pseudo St Louis, it was a good fit.

The struggle comes from Lizzie not being outfitted to fight a swarm of tiny creatures. The .357 magnum revolvers just don’t seem to work here, and a pitchfork isn’t much better. I gained a bit from trying to find her some better gear to finish the job.

I’m at just under 3/4 of the way through the story. This one is still going to have all the crazy things, and a lot of banter, but it’s more about Lizzie powering up to a degree. Can’t be a large degree because of the ongoing nature of these stories.

I’m delving deeper into Lizzie’s circle of friends, and even introduced a new witch with a new skill set. There’s even a chapter where Noodles the turtle-dog-thing gets to help her out. It’s crazy just like he is, but she’s going to lose access to him. The hero has to cross the finish line herself.

One of my goals here is to show the struggle of young people today. Granted it’s a crazy POV, but Lizzie constantly fights to make ends meet. This story is largely about debt. There is real world bank type debt, but there’s also indebtedness to friends. I’ll have to remember to include some kind of gift for Noodles.

My desire is to wrap this one with a couple of musical gigs, then have her start paying back some of that personal debt. Right now, I have it planned as a work party that’s just a cover for a girls night with her new witch friends. I have to decide how graphic I want these girls to get when there are no men around.

I suppose the hat will be there, and he might help tone things down. He can also be a bit gossipy, so there should be some chances to let him shine. Lizzie does have one secret that can get out. I’m going to stand silent on it, because it will be revealed in The Midnight Rambler, which is being formatted as I type this. It will publish this fall. After all, what would October be without a new Hat story?

I’m also sensing a concern here. I like having access to Lizzie’s circle of friends, but I don’t want to develop a theme here. Problem leads to seeking help from the coven which allows her to succeed. I may be fortunate in that the next story will involve Lizzie on the road away from Good Liniment and all it has to offer.

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A little better today

I’m definitely in the middle slog with Mari’s swamp story. I broke the 40,000 word mark by the time I quit and ended at a chapter. (Half a novel. Woo-hoo!)

This can’t be an action sequence, so there was a lot of training involved. Some of it quite brutal and she has bruises and scrapes everywhere. I also included a tiny bit of world building, but didn’t get too deep this far into the story.

I’ve reached the point where it’s time for her to pick up the trail once more. There are more clues to where the killers went in the next town, but she’s better prepared for what she’s seeking now.

Oddly enough, an old movie called Hannie Caulder came on the other night. There are some similarities to the story I’m telling, but I think mine is better. Of course, I don’t have access to Raquel Welch, but I like Mari and she’s doing just fine.

This is one of those stories where I could kill my main character in the last chapter and it would work out well. I’m sure it would be a stronger story because of that. I also know I’ll never actually do it.

I took one tiny break to Google wildflowers of the Florida Panhandle, for the sake of accuracy. This world is full of exotic creatures, because Florida is that way now. A few wildflowers help blend everything together.

There’s a pretty good chance I’ll pick up Lizzie and the hat the next time I take up the keyboard. This is a great point to leave Mari, and she even has a roof over her head this time.

While I already know what’s going to happen with all my stories, sometimes switching tales brings new ideas and thoughts.

I’d kind of like to have her cross the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge. It would take about eight days by ox and wagon from where she is now. This is because after an extended war and nationwide system failures, it makes for a decent struggle. Imagine trying to live off the land, but there is only a swamp and it’s below you, out of reach.

My research says this thing is eighteen miles long. I can stage it so there’s at least one uncomfortable and hungry night spent on the bridge. Fill it with holes from war damage, add a ton of ox, and it could be interesting. No area for grazing either, which could cause a critical delay if I come up with something. Weigh that against the odds of my spelling the damned thing correctly.

I’ll have to ponder it while moving the hat forward in his next adventure.

Hope everyone out there is having a great weekend.

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It’s an adjustment

These two day weekends aren’t great for my productivity. I’m still adjusting, but got approval to shift my schedule to 7:00 to 3:30. The afternoon has provided some reading time that I’m making use of.

I’m not much of an afternoon writer, so I don’t know how that will work out. I intend to give it a try anyway.

This morning I goofed off for a while, then retreated to my office/junk room. With headphones, Old What’s Her Face and the dogs can make all the noise they want.

I wasn’t committed to either project, but wound up with Mari’s story. She found what’s intended to be her last mentor, bought a pistol, and is learning to shoot.

I included a lot of techniques I’ve known about all my life. Even mentioned the 21 foot gun fighting studies the FBI conducted decades ago. Right now, I’m torn between how much would be interesting to readers, and how much they would like Mari to absorb without explanation so I can get back to the action.

I don’t think there’s a right answer here. Some folks would enjoy everything I included and more. Other’s just want to get on with the big finale.

I’ll try to find a sweet spot that can satisfy as many as possible. For now, I’m writing it and making sure Mari doesn’t do unrealistic things as the tale unfurls.

I never liked it when someone is an instant expert at something, and expect some practice and training prior to perfection.

The big trick here is to keep it interesting as Mari goes through her character arc. This is a revenge tale at its core. I can’t just have the inciting incident followed by a finale. Where’s the fun in that?

I’ve stitched in a few tidbits about the world that was lost. What led us to a post apocalyptic setting. That kind of thing, and probably need a little more of that.

Delays are good for this kind of story. Injuries, economics, and others can provide that. Campsites are good places to second guess the whole thing, and question choices she’s made.

I didn’t keep track, but it wound up being about a chapter. I try to keep those to ten pages.

Right now, I need to mentally shift into some of that second guessing and delay type thinking. This makes Mari a real person for the readers. With luck, I can work on it again tomorrow.

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Low productivity

Sean Harrington delivered some graphics about a week ago. My only real plan was to insert them into the Midnight Rambler manuscript. It’s important to keep this one moving ahead for an October promotion.

We started off by going to the farmer’s market downtown. It’s been years since we went, and they’ve kind of split it between locations. For some reason, it just wasn’t as good as past years. Old What’s Her Face still found some things to buy, like lemon cucumbers.

I kept my eye open for the breakfast burrito lady, but she was absent. Maybe she’s gone to the other location, or maybe she’s bagged it like so many others during the Covid era.

We still managed to go to lunch downtown, then swung by Whole Foods. This is another location we haven’t visited since pre-Covid.

For myself, keeping my goals small seems like a good idea. I managed to insert my silly graphics into The Midnight Rambler, and that might be it for this weekend.

I’d like to work on one of my current projects, but Sundays aren’t really good writing days. The other distraction is television. We have about four years of The Boys to catch up on, and that takes time. It’s a worthy project, and I’ll probably nudge that ahead to some degree.

I sent Sean back an email for two Lisa Burton posters. Honestly, her promos tend to draw more attention than my own. Something about her image seems to get clicks.

Promotion isn’t really one of my favorite gigs, but I’m toying with a new idea. After so many volumes of The Hat Series, I have a lot of old Lisa Burton posters. I could pick a time and do a Lisa-only tour for the series, recycling the posters since most have only been used one time. It isn’t hard to write as Lisa. Add a poster, maybe a 99¢ sale here and there, it could work.

Now it’s time to decide whether I read a friend’s book, read Midnight Rambler for a final pass, or just surrender to the television.

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The Stakes are High

Let’s all welcome Judi Lynn today. She’s a long-term blogger/author friend, and she has a new book to tell us about today. Please check it out, maybe consider it for your summer reading list. Before you leave make sure to use those sharing buttons. All of us struggle to get the word out and a click or two is pretty simple.

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I’ve been a fan of C.S. Boyack for a while now—his blog: Entertaining Stories | Just a fiction writer, trying to reach the world. (wordpress.com), his posts about writing on Story Empire: Suspension of Disbelief | Story Empire (wordpress.com), and his many wonderful books: Amazon.com: C. S. Boyack: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle. So, I’m happy to be his guest today to promote my cozy mystery, THE STEAKS ARE HIGH.

This is the second book in my Karnie Cleaver series. Karnie works in her family’s butcher shop with her parents, brother Chuck, Aunt Aida, and Aida’s son and daughter. They not only work together, but they get together every Sunday for suppers. They like each other. That led me to write a story that focused on family dynamics, the good and the bad. When Karnie married Matt Roeback, Chuck’s best friend, his family is close, too. And she inherited his two kids, Chelsea—almost three—and Jackson—five. When Matt’s ex-wife left him, Chelsea was only six months old and doesn’t remember her mother. Jackson doesn’t want to. They’re both ready to have a woman who loves them. So was Matt. And I wanted to show how all of them bonded as a family in this book.

I also wanted to show that even when people love each other, sometimes the need to do your own thing can cause chasms. Karnie’s older brother, Porter, left the butcher shop and moved to Florida soon after he graduated high school and never looked back. He was always their parents’ golden boy who could do no wrong. He’s handsome, smart, and maybe a little too into himself. He didn’t come home for weddings and rarely answered phone calls. Until now. But when he gets into trouble, home looks better than it once did. Karnie and Chuck aren’t jumping up for joy when he wants to return to the family business, but their parents greet Porter with open arms, their prodigal son returned.

And then there’s the mystery. And it emphasizes relationships this time, too. Farley Rawlins is the victim, and people would line up who disliked him. He and his wife can barely tolerate each other, but she stays with him. Why? He’s such a pain, she doesn’t want to bother with one court battle after another to get rid of him. Then there’s his mistress, Cecilia, who’s not happy because he’s left her for someone else. Not his wife. And there’s the myriad of people who rent from him, and he’s threatening to throw them all out so that he can raise his rents.

I also wanted to show the hardship of parents who have kids with special needs. Don’t get me wrong. They love their kids with all their hearts, but they always worry what will become of them once they’re gone.

I enjoyed writing this book. I didn’t even fuss through the messy middle (and that’s unusual for me). And I thank Craig for helping me promote it. If you try it, I hope you like it.

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Steaks-Are-High-Cleaver-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B0B6D731ZD/ref=sr_1_1?crid=31Y3GUAIWDOR7&keywords=the+steaks+are+high%2C+judi+lynn&qid=1657829492&sprefix=%2Caps%2C53&sr=8-1

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Judi Lynn lives in Indiana with her husband, a bossy gray cat, and a noisy Chihuahua.  She loves to cook and owns more cookbooks than any mortal woman would ever need.  That’s why so much food sneaks into her stories.  She also loves her flower beds, but is a haphazard gardener, at best.   

My blog & webpage:  http://writingmusings.com/ 

My author Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/ 

Twitter: @judypost 

On BookBub at Judi Lynn with a link to Judith Post (for my urban fantasies): https://www.bookbub.com/authors/judi-lynn

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Sad

It was a simple enough plan for this weekend. Write as much as I could before returning back to the work week. It’s the weekend between paychecks, so we try not to do anything that costs money, or gasoline.

I got started on Mari’s story, but it’s another transition phase. Those always take me longer. When the sun came up completely, I went outside to water the hanging baskets and potted plants.

That’s when the heartbreak announced itself. I’m afraid my peach tree is no more. It was going to be a good crop this year, too.

The main part of the tree snapped in the night and is laying across my lawn. The bits that are left hang over the fences, but there’s nothing to recover that would form up on my own property.

We’ve been talking about it, and it’s going to take a huge trip to the dump and require a hard day in the sun. Temperatures have been over 100 degrees for weeks. I’m not looking forward to this. With the next payday, I might even hire someone who has the proper tools and a trailer that can handle the volume.

I mention this, because it’s going to require ladders and lines to make sure the highest pieces fall in my yard and not the neighbors. Somewhere over the years, I started having a hard time with ladders. Add in a chainsaw and it’s kind of a risky proposition.

I’ll stop here. It’s kind of hard to be creative with my current mindset, and I don’t expect much tomorrow either. I should probably be happy it didn’t take out the patio cover or the fences.

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This and that

I wound up having more decent writing days over the holiday weekend, but none that matched my 8000 word day. I jumped from Lizzie and the hat back to Mari’s swamp story.

I’m faced with a problem in Goodbye Old Paint. I’m at 25,000 words, but Lizzie and the hat are aimed back at their main problem. If I want this MS to come in around 45K, I need to think about how I’m going to add to the tale. There’s no guarantee they can solve the gremlin problem in one swoop, but I don’t need things getting repetitive on me either. This can only mean one thing… time to switch stories.

Mari and her new friend/rescuer/mentor, Kililah wound up trying to return the coonhound to her rightful owner. Turns out this pup revealed herself to be a cull. Meaning she fled from a wild hog, and the owner intended to shoot her.

Mari wound up buying her from him with the promise that she’d leave the area so the pup wouldn’t taint the bloodline. I had some fun moments with Mari and the pup, and she named her Worthless as a jab at the man who was going to shoot her.

I might go back and flesh some of this out, but Mari and the pup learned a little from each other by hunting squirrels and trailing rabbits. Mari is still getting used to her enhanced sense of smell. Can a dog be a kind of mentor? Maybe I should play that up. Hmmm.

Poor Mari got chewed up again when the ox panicked at the sight of a bobcat. I had some fun with her yelling at him that he takes a bigger crap than that puny bobcat. This led to what I thought was an emotional epiphany for Mari. She wasn’t the only one who lost everything. The ox lost his brother and life long partner, too, on that fateful day.

Wounded and bleeding, she discovered an old cabin in the swamp, complete with the skeleton of the owner. She spent some fevered nights haunted by things she’s not taken proper time to dwell on. She also spent plenty of time talking to the skeleton, then scavenging whatever she could to help her on her journey.

I stopped today with a scene I often use. I like to call it the Hero Revealed scene. Mari’s been treated pretty poorly in life, she’s been beaten, raped, had her entire family murdered, taken some hard falls, and kept coming back. Some of the salvage provided a new look for her, and I kind of like the way it roughed out. Kind of a no-nonsense post apocalyptic fashion statement.

At just over 31K words Mari has a lot left to her tale. I have one more mentor for her to meet, then she has to use her enhanced skills and lessons without benefit of mentors to reach her goals.

Right now, getting Mari’s story to novel length looks easier than getting Lizzie’s tale to the noveloid length I prefer for Hat stories.

I’m bagging it early today. Old What’s Her Face and I have some errands to take care of, and we might even wrangle date night out of the deal.

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Wreck of the Lanternfish by C.S. Boyack #bookreview #pirates #fantasy

Teri has some wonderful things to say about Wreck of the Lanternfish. Please visit her site to check it out, and consider following this incredible author and supporter.

Books and Such

James Cuttler created a peaceful spot for he and his wife to settle down. Far from the war that ravages their homeland, far from the reputation he earned as the notorious Captain Bloodwater, and far from responsibility.

A royal Prelonian houseguest is a constant reminder of what’s at stake half a world away, of the friends he put ashore to fight the war. He lives in a dream world that’s temporary, at best. It’s only a matter of time before his guest is identified and the black assassins come for her.

He mortgages his precious vineyard to pay for repairs to his ship. If nothing else, Lanternfish will be one of the most powerful ships in the war. He’ll need to avoid those on his own side who would hang him for piracy.

Serang is half a world away, leading her army of mercenary swordsmen toward the Fulminites. Mistrusted by…

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I couldn’t stop myself

Today was one of those rare writing days that only seems to come along once per year. I even goofed off before I got started. Old What’s Her Face bought me some New Orleans style coffee with chicory, and I took my time to enjoy it. Made a trip around the yard to water plants, and checked in on my Story Empire friends for a while.

I knew either story could lunge forward today. They were both at that point where I could really accomplish something. I was feeling kind of upbeat and went for Goodbye Old Paint. Lizzie and the hat it was.

Mari’s story is a little more grim, so I’m saving that for a different day.

I still believe in torturing my main characters, so Lizzie didn’t get completely off the hook. I’ve done a lot to her over the volumes, so today I gave her a curse.

This volume is intended to be a little more light hearted than before, but it’s still dark humor. Basically, she started turning into a toad. I peppered this with moments of normalcy that eventually faded into madness. Many bugs were eaten.

The hat freaked out, and couldn’t find his go-to guy, Dash Goodman. In desperation he called Joyeux DuPont. I already set some of this up in a previous session, so the phone number was easily available.

A bit of research at Good Liniment, then Joyeux picked up Lizzie and the hat and whisked them away to visit with a new character. In her classic fastback Barracuda, no less.

Mad Mellinger is my kitchen witch, and between her and Joyeux, they conjured up a cure for Lizzie. It’s pure madness, I promise. I was inspired by those videos where someone is returning home after wisdom tooth extraction. The ones where they say all kinds of stupid crap. Lizzie has a lot to live down now.

It’s important to view my witches as an outsider, because Lizzie isn’t one of them. On the rare occasion I need them to flesh something out, I used the hat in kind of a Dr. Watson role to ask a question.

I’m super excited about all the goofy crap I included in today’s session. From Lizzie trying to make a burrow while under the spadefoot curse, to a couple of Deez-Nuts jokes, it was a great day.

Since Joyeux has plant based magic, and is basically an herbalist, it was easy enough to have her provide the magical ingredients for Mad to cook up. That worked out quite well.

I always try to keep my witches to a certain plan. Their houses are kind of unusual and isolated from everyone else. I’d already written Joyeux’s converted water tower about a month ago. I decided Mad lives in a converted barn. It’s a pretty cool repurposing of an old building.

They have wands, and they aren’t like other writers use. Dash has an old pipe wrench. I noted once before that Joyeux uses a garden dibble. It might seem pretty simple, but Mad’s wooden spoon just seems to fit her magical style. I also peppered her location with some fat hens, and a few beehives, but they weren’t more than scenery.

There’s an egg scrying scene, and I’m going to have something similar before Mad’s section ends, but this vision is for Lizzie.

I even added a section that reveals Joyeux is from Detroit. It’s a long shot, but if I ever write my Detroit story, it could now tie into the hat universe with a bit of magic involved in that plot.

Right now, I have two loose plans that could support the hat series. One is the Detroit story, and another involves Dash Goodman going solo in his own story. Don’t know if I’ll ever get to them, but they’re ideas, anyway.

I want to get this one to the point that Lizzie is aimed back at what caused her curse, with a vengeance. That means spending the night at Mad’s place, driving back, then dealing with some real world problems. After that, I’m going to pick up Mari’s swamp story once more.

I never noted my stopping place last time, but by the miracle of WordPress, I did note it here last weekend. Today’s word count is – not joking – over eight-thousand words. It’s bound to be full of typos, and too many words, but I’ll deal with all that tomorrow morning.

Right now, I think I need to find something to watch on one of the streaming services and veg out.

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