Category Archives: Muse

Writing along

I looked up from my desk at the writing cabin and decided to call it a day.

Lisa Burton walked into the office in full pirate regalia. “How did it work out? Did you have a good day?”

“It really was. 2700 words I didn’t have before. Add that to the 2000 from Wednesday and things are cooking along.”

“There’s a little coffee left before you leave. Do you want it?”

“Sure. I got through my con men on Wednesday and closed the loop on three concurrent stories. Everyone is on the page now. Today, James did what he had to as far as completing the repairs on Lanternfish. She’ll be ready to launch soon.”

“Don’t you think I’d look great in period costume breaking a magnum of champagne over her prow?”

“I’m sure you would.”

“Maybe you should write that one down.”

“It’s early in the story. There could be better things coming.”

“Then you don’t have to use it, but if you write it down you won’t forget.”

“You’re a computer. You remember for me.”

“You can bet I will. So, did the queen go along with James’s scheme?”

“Shh, that’s a spoiler. You can check out the draft later.”

“What are you planning tomorrow?”

“Don’t know. Serang still has some war to wage, but she ought to gather some clues along the way. I need her to discover some old secrets, too. I might wing some of that, or take a little time to think it through.”

“You mean you’d just waste a day to think?”

“Sure. This whole country could use more thinking before writing.”

Lisa smirked. “Uh huh?”

“If it doesn’t want to come together, I can always revisit Lizzie and the hat.”

“I kind of hate it when you do this to me. I never know how to dress for the day. Am I wearing cute performance outfits or being a pirate girl?”

“How about badass monster hunter outfits?”

“I know your style. It’s too soon for those, After about ten chapters you’ll get to them. So how should I dress tomorrow?”

“I don’t know. I have to go where the Muse leads me.”

“Fine. I’m going to put on some jeans and cowboy boots, add a Smithereens tee-shirt and fashion beret, then pull the Waltus armor on over the top. Maybe I’ll even buckle on a cutlass for good measure.”

“Do it and I’ll post a picture on my blog.”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“Of course I would.” I pointed to my head. “You don’t understand how this brain works.”

“From what I can tell, your processor runs on coffee, pumpkin beer, cheese, and crackers.”

“Actually, that’s pretty accurate. All I can tell you is that I intend to write tomorrow. If it’s Lanternfish, it’s Serang’s turn again. If not, then I’ll start the next Hat book.”

“Maybe I’ll just wear one of my polka dot dresses and some nice heels. Those make me happy.”

“There you go. I like those, too.”

“Enough to write me into another book?”

“Probably, but I’m not going to. You got a story just last year. I’m going to try revisiting Serang and see how that goes. That’s as much commitment as I can give you.”

“I’ll take it.”

“So, do we have some cheese and crackers?”

Yeah. And some dry salami. I’ll get you set up.”

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It’s been too long

I got to the writing cabin relatively early this morning. Lisa Burton met me at the door. She wore a tight knee-length khaki dress and a matching envelope cap.

“What’s with the outfit,” I asked.

“Veteran’s Day is next on the calendar. Things are still kind of boring out there, so I try to celebrate everything at home. You haven’t been out here in a while. What’s the occasion?”

“Nothing special. Just trying to keep the boredom away. I’ve been doing some storyboarding and looking for graphics. I have a lot of cool poster ideas for you as I write the next few books.”

“I’d love to go over your ideas. Maybe I can get some outfits ordered.”

I headed toward my office and turned on the lights. Lisa had placed sheets over everything, so I pulled them away and piled them in the corner. “Problem is that all the cool ideas are several books away from the ones I’m writing next. Things will have to come to me as I write those.”

“I’m sure you’ll come up with something. Maybe I can help.”

I walked down the hall to the paranormal office and threw the switch. A spark and hum revealed the same slip covers over all the furniture.

I thought as I pulled them all back. “I might be able to use that garrison cap in a story. Hang on to it.”

“For the hat?” she asked.

“Yeah, why not. I have a mission in a future story that will require him to be flat. Lizzie might come up with a performance outfit using it, too.”

“That seems worthy. I’ll keep it within easy reach. What are you working on today?”

“Nothing in particular, but I’m getting close.”

Lisa pushed me back to the main office and my desk chair. She moved the iPad in front of me. “I’ll get you some coffee. Maybe just relax and enjoy a fresh cup. See where it takes you.”

I sipped my coffee, then opened a new folder, created a blank document. A little copy and paste, and I’d created a title page and copyright data. I wrote one sentence, then another.

I knew in broad strokes what has to happen, but didn’t really plan a way to execute that. I worked on some dialog and it led toward the planned event. Might as well execute the plan and see what happens.

I dabbled, and backspaced my way along, not really expecting much. When I glanced down at the bottom of my document I’d written 3000 words. My jaw fell open.

Lisa had her own cup of coffee. She held it toward me. “Take all you can…”

I clinked her cup. “Give nothing back.”

Lisa snapped an open palm salute. “I I I I.”

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Vacation and the Muse

I went over the next chapter of Mrs. Molony before sending it out to my critique group. I admit it was a little rough, but the hours are dwindling on my vacation. Back to the real world tomorrow.

A whiff of sandalwood caught my attention. I got up from my desk and followed it like a bloodhound. Lorelei, the Muse waited in the main office.

“Where is your little assistant? Don’t tell me I’ve missed her.”

“Lisa is with Sean Harrington, making art.” I gave her a quick glance from her high heels, past her designer jeans, to the top of her long curly hair. “Haven’t seen you around here, lately.”

“You committed to series work, and I didn’t feel like you needed me. As long as you’re being creative, sometimes it’s better to get out of your way.”

“Well, I could use you now. I looked over my old storyboards and don’t have a lot to add. Then I tried to start boards for the final Lanternfish story, and the next Hat tale. It isn’t looking too good.”

She pulled me into a hug. “Aww. You’ve been on a break for a little over a week. Maybe you should give it more time.”

I fumbled a bit before speaking. She is a minor goddess, and pretty fit to boot. “Yeah, but you’d think all my ideas would fill a board.”

“I snooped. You have plenty of things for Lanternfish. The Hat series tends to be shorter. I think you’re going to be fine.”

“I need turning points for Lanternfish. There’s some cool stuff, but I haven’t been able to fit it into three-act structure. I haven’t even come up with things for many of the crew to be involved in. So far it’s just James and Serang, with a bit of the Palumbos. I need things for the other characters, particularly the root monsters. I need ways to hide any big cons that might be happening.”

“It’s only been a week. Relax. Things will come to you. You may find yourself inspired after I leave today. That’s kind of how Muses work.”

“And what’s with all the ideas for The Hat? I have more ideas than I can write in several years. Don’t want it to grow stale for readers. I’m trying to write one per year. I have two years worth of storyboards, and a solid idea for one after those.”

“Don’t be such a baby. I know you like those characters, and you enjoy writing their adventures. I may have visited your dreams a few times, but they are solid ideas.”

“That seems kind of invasive. Maybe I wanted to see you.”

“Maybe you wanted to look at me. There’s a difference. You’ve been extremely busy, and it feels like solid work. Enjoy your break. Add to the storyboards as interesting things occur to you.”

I paused, looking at her wasn’t exactly horrifying. She looked every inch the Greek Goddess, even in modern clothing. “At least there is an end in sight for Lanternfish.”

“It’s your first series, and it will be your first complete series. You should be proud of that. Then you’ll have room for your stand-alone books.”

“It would be nice to spend some time on those. I have one storyboard that’s three years old.”

“You will. Give yourself a few months. I’m sure you’ll start the Lanternfish book before the year ends. Try to enjoy yourself.” She swirled her wrist, and a crystal goblet appeared in her hand. “Aren’t you going to offer me a drink?”

I grabbed my beard and thought. “We’re all stocked up on cheap boxed wine. Lizzie St. Laurent seems to thrive on the stuff. Either that or one of her Monster energy drinks.”

“Let’s brave the wine. Maybe you ought to stock some better supplies out here.”

“Like I said, Lisa is working away from home today and I’m a little short.”

“There are delivery services in your modern world. Phone something in, and I expect a little better stock the next time I appear.”

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Living in the moment

I put the pro in procrastinate today. It was a perfect writing day for me, because Old What’s Her Face had to work. I spent my time on reading blogs, social media, chatting with friends. Eventually, I decided to work on something.

I got to the writing cabin late, with four projects looming. I need to make edits to Lanternfish, send out the next section to my critique group, brush up my short story, and possibly add new words to Mrs. Molony.

Head down, I hacked away at the chapter I needed to edit, but something didn’t feel right. I wandered through the cabin. “Lisa. Lisa?”

“Back here.” I found her working on the flowerbeds outside.

“We need to go to town. I have to tip over a statue.”

“What on Earth for?”

“It’s a living in the moment thing. This is all over the news and social media. I want to be able to tell my grandkids that I participated. Maybe some of this can weave its way into one of my stories.”

“You flew out here. It’s several hours back by road.”

“Then we’d better get started.”

“You can ride in my sidecar, or we have the old Land Rover from our storyboarding safaris.”

“Let’s take the Land Rover.”

It took her an hour to get ready and fuel up the car. Several decent mud holes, a couple of snowdrifts, and we finally reached Boise.

“This is your shindig. Where to?” Lisa rolled down her window.

“There’s a perfectly good statue of Lincoln in the park. We can start there.”

Lisa’s eyes flickered as her internal works paired with the cellular network. “That’s bronze. You won’t even be able to budge it.”

“You have that industrial robot strength. I’m sure together we can get Abe on his head somehow.”

“Oh, no. This is your deal. I’ll drive you, because you pay the bills. Any vandalism is all on you.”

“Party pooper.”

She signaled then pulled in by Zoo Boise. I hit the ground running as soon as she found a parking spot. I grunted while trying to shove the bronze onto the grass. Finally, I crawled up on his pedestal and tried again. Abe didn’t budge.

“Well?” she asked.

I strained with all my might, then clutched my side. “I think I pulled something.”

“Can we go now?”

“I’m not giving up.” I looked both ways, then jogged across the street to the community rose garden where I kicked over their garden gnome. I dusted off my hands while strutting back to the car. “How about that?”

“Fabulous. I need to swing by the nursery on the way back. We need some plant food.”

She drove down State Street then parked at the nursery. “Coming in?”

I stared at the flock of plastic flamingoes in their lawn. “No. I’m good right here.”

Lisa walked inside and I waited until she was out of sight. This was my moment. I attacked the flamingoes with fury. I managed to kick six of them over when the management came running.

Not wanting to deal with The Man, I dove in the Land Rover, then sped away.

I went around the block, then called Lisa’s internal cellular number. She didn’t answer. Finally, I dropped the Rover into gear and headed home. Lisa is pretty resourceful, and I’m sure she’ll find her way back.

Lisa Burton

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Back to the writing cabin

I got a decent start this morning, and didn’t take time to look at any social media. There is a particular section of the book I wanted to complete.

Lisa met me in the kitchen in her pirate garb, then followed me to the office. “Are you going to include the adventure with Waltus, or not?”

I’ve been toying with this section for a long time. It goes in, it gets cut, it goes back in, etc. The main issue boils down to a lot of making ready, setting sail, and traveling. The arctic is a fascinating place, but the interesting bits are few and far between. I know, I’ve been there.

I didn’t want it to be unrealistic, but have to keep the modern fiction reader in mind. I decided to include a bit of crush/romance because people on a ship are still people. Then I added Waltus back into the story.

People seem to love the root monsters, and their tales kind of reflect the truth, but aren’t documentaries either. Instead of living through the adventure, I had James come across the aftermath and ask what the hell happened. Flattop isn’t maybe as animated as the other monsters, but he did a good job filling his captain in about the attack by Waltus on the ships.

This all played out against a stark icy landscape that posed an obstacle to getting the ships where they need to go. I included some wandering around on the sea ice, and eventually found a laborious way to move all three ships. I stopped after moving the first one, but I have two more to go. I’ll likely shorten those parts up, because readers will have already seen that action.

It was 12:30 when I looked up. “Okay, Waltus is back in. I should probably work on my next Story Empire post.”

“I want to read it,” Lisa said.

“You’ll have to wait until I leave. I need to start researching my next post.”

“Killjoy.” The WiFi went down.

“What happened? I need to look up some data about the Guardian Archetype.”

“I turned it off.”

“Don’t be a brat. You can read Lanternfish after I leave. I need the Internet so I can get my next post ready.”

“Nope, I’m the Threshold Guardian. You can’t complete your task without appeasing me.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me! I can’t believe you… oh. I get it. Now turn the WiFi back on so I can rough out this post.”

Lisa smirked, then spun on her heels and left. The WiFi came back on, and I managed to rough out my post, and even found a decent graphic for it.

Old What’s Her Face and I have a combined errand trip this afternoon, and I might even get the post scheduled before the evening is over. It came to well over 3000 words of new fiction, but I didn’t keep an exact count again.

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A writing day

I got to the writing cabin late this morning. It felt good to not have the alarm clock dictating my day for a change. Lisa Burton was nowhere to be seen.

There was hot coffee in the kitchen, so I helped myself, before heading to my office.

Lisa’s voice came over the intercom. “What’s it going to be today? Lizzie and the hat, or a little bit of piracy?”

I picked up my pirate hat and pulled it on. “Why do you want to know?”

“Because I want to wear the right outfit.”

I turned on my iPad, then took a seat. “I’m thinking Lanternfish today.”

“Thanks, I’ll be right there.”

I dedicated a lot of words to adjusting to a fleet of three ships. Serang’s ship still needs some things, and those had to be created. I ended that section with a pennant for her to fly and by painting the name Kirin across the rear of her ship.

This is a neat callback to her origin tale, but the language has changed. Quilin is the name from her country, but Kirin is the name from Giapon. The appearance of this magical creature always marks great change in her life. (His appearances are more symbolic than an actual animal showing up.)

Then I moved back to Lanternfish. Mule is still working on the knife he found in Giapon, and it’s going to play a larger role later in the story. He’s also trying to hide his animalistic ear from Yoshiko, who was the girl presented to James as a concubine.

Lisa showed up in her pirate gear. “Reporting for duty.”

Lisa Burton

“Cute, but you may want to put on more clothes. They’re sailing through arctic waters right now.”

“That’s bogus. Do you know how hard it is to get deliveries right now? I’ll button my vest, but I can’t get any new clothes for weeks.”

“We’ve all had to adapt.”

She looked over my shoulder. “You need to end Mule’s suffering. He obviously likes that girl, but he’s ashamed of his ancestry.”

“James isn’t going to have a clue. What do you suggest?”

“Have one of your con men tip him off. They’re supposed to be great observers.”

“Oh yeah. Then he can act like a father and try to make things right.”

Lisa left me to my own devices, so I moved the ship further into the arctic, added some tiny bits of arctic wildlife, and an encounter with the Northern Lights. The root monsters wanted to know if Saint Elbow was coming back.

James convinced them that it’s Saint Elmo, and the Northern Lights are different.

I ended my day by sailing them directly into a wall of ice that blocks the passage. The last discussion was to sail around or wait for summer.

Lisa brought in a plate with a sandwich.

“Bologna? Really?”

“I’m having a hard time getting things right now. It’s bologna or nothing.”

“I like bologna. This won’t last forever, then we can get a variety of food and you can buy more clothes.”

***

It all sounds a little slow, but the delays can work to my advantage. While they’re trying to get there, the war rages on. I need the situation different so James has to adapt on the fly. I think that’s better than knowing where all the advantages are and trying to turn the tide.

I’m going to add in a monster encounter, probably tomorrow. Lanternfish has plenty of monsters and it’s been a while since one showed up. This one is going to be more like a gigantic version of something that already exists, but I may change it up a bit as I write it.

This will also provide an opportunity for the root monsters to tell the tale, because they were largely left out during the section in Giapon. I know everyone likes the root monsters, so I want to keep including them.

Right now, I have the obstacle, a supply stop, then the war. I hope to wrap it up in the traditional second book style of total disaster with a glimmer of hope. That will allow me to exploit that glimmer of hope into the third book in the trilogy.

It came to about 3500 words today. If I can write my monster encounter, then clear this obstacle, I might have enough for my critique group by tomorrow night.

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From the Writing Cabin

My day started at 5:00 AM. The dogs had all the sleep they could stand, and wanted breakfast. My wife has to work, so it was a reasonable writing opportunity.

I made good time flying out to the writing cabin, and landed just as the sun peeked over the horizon. The elevator lowered the gyrocopter into the hangar, then I trudged toward the stairs.

Lisa Burton met me at the top landing. She held out a half-gallon bottle of sanitizer. “Hands.”

I paused, then reached forward. She pumped several squirts into each hand. “Wash them completely. If you still have some, do your forearms.”

“Jesus! I have enough to do my whole body.”

“Maybe you should. I have. I’ve also wiped down your office and iPad.”

I walked into the cabin, and an alarm went off. “Stop! You are too close to Lisa Burton. Please maintain social distancing at all times.”

“What was that?”

“I downloaded it, then paired it with my internal radar. You’ll find a canister of sterilizing wipes on your desk, and a gallon of bleach beside the door if you have any accidents.”

“That’s awesome.” I opened my iPad and the manuscript for The Ballad of Mrs. Molony. Lisa sat at the far end of my sofa. “What are you doing?”

Lisa Burton

“Watching. So I know what to clean after you’re done out here. The chair and desk for sure.”

“Is there any coffee?”

“I made it after you took off this morning.”

I headed for the kitchen. “Stop! You are too close to Lisa Burton—”

“Oh, my God. Turn that off.”

“It protects both me and you.”

I retrieved my coffee, then returned to my desk. “I used this cup.”

“And touched the cabinet, and moved one cup to get to your favorite one, and the coffee pot, and who knows what else.”

“I need you to go away. I have to do some writing, and you’re bugging me.”

“Fine. I’ll be in the bubble bath. I haven’t washed up for an hour.”

Music came on over the speakers.

“That’s Lizzie and the Pythons, for inspiration.”

“Cool. What playlist?”

“This one’s from The Hat. I can play Viral Blues if you like.”

“Maybe, when this one runs out. Now scoot.”

She left me to my own devices and I relaxed a bit. I managed to add 1700 new words to my side project. Not my best day, but not horrible at all. I stopped just before I had to describe a tiki bar the previous band trashed the night before Lizzie and the hat had to play there.

Lisa’s voice came over the speakers. “Maybe you should do one of those business letters like everyone else. You know, something comforting in these uncertain times.”

***

Dear Readers of Entertaining Stories:

We are open for business here at the Writing Cabin. You should have no worries about Lisa Burton, because she is in fact a robot, and immune to catching the virus.

Because it is possible for her to carry and transfer the virus to others, she is currently washing and using hand sanitizer like a mad woman.

I’ve checked our recent invoices, and there is another 50-gallon drum of sanitizer on the way, along with two cases of soap, and twenty-five pounds of bubble bath. She has also rented scaffolding so she can wash the walls and ceiling after I leave.

Rest assured we are still producing new fiction, and will have more releases in 2020. As ebooks only, these are free of all contagions, and you can enjoy them, along with our previous releases in relative safety.

Sincerely, the Management.

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Ugh! A day of distraction

Old What’s Her Face went to Nevada to visit her brother. This has become an annual thing for Super Bowl weekend. We aren’t that big of football fans anyway, and it’s no big deal.

I looked at it as an advantage, and intended to make the cannons roar and come up with more root monster antics. Lanternfish is my primary project right now, and it’s time to add some words.

After sleeping in for a few hours, I went to the writing cabin and built a fire in my office. Lisa usually has the place all warmed up for me, but she’s still making art for Grinders.

Once the bite of cold mellowed, I opened my iPad and went to work. I’m on the downside of one adventure, so this is kind of a recovery section. I usually fill those with planning and assessment of what they accomplished, maybe something about their next move.

These can be slower to write, because there are no cannonades or magical adventures. It’s all about traveling. This time, I elected to minimize most of it and simply get the crew to their next location.

Since their plan is to restock both Lanternfish and La Girona, there isn’t much to go over. It isn’t like they have massive goals for this stop.

It’s going to be a surprising turn of events for them in Giapon. (Pseudo Japan.) That also allowed me to shorten up the planning phase.

That’s when the knock came at the door.

“Lisa, can you…” Oh yeah. Nobody here but me.

I opened the door to find a tall, leggy blonde in a linen skirt suit. Her hair dangled down to her midsection. She looked over her glasses at me. “Looks like you could use some help.”

“Libraria. Where are the rest of the Sirens?”

“Oh, we’re all here.” She spread her hands and wiggled her fingers.

Conversia, the gorgeous black woman wore a gold scoop-neck top that… well she should have been at the Grammys with some two sided tape, moved in from the left. Her Afro hair danced in the breeze.

Little Wiki, the redhead, stepped to her right. Her hair still had a sequence of different reds buried in it, and was in an A-line that looked like it had been chewed into shape by gophers. She wore striped stockings that ended just before her frayed denim shorts and a sequence of friendship bracelets on both arms that rivaled the stockings for color. She made her odd wrinkle-nosed smile and wiggled her black fingernails. “Hi. Can we come in?”

“Kind of cold out here,” Conversia said.

I couldn’t help myself from looking. “Yeah, I see that. Come in.”

Conversia smirked and winked. They all came inside, then made their way to the office beside my fire.

Wiki flopped on the couch while Libraria checked my draft. Conversia turned her fanny toward the fireplace.

“This isn’t bad,” Libraria said. “You need to add some depth when you get to Giapon. Giapon is the name Portuguese sailors gave the country that would become Nippon or Japan of today. You’ll need setting, weather, people, architecture. Everything. What do you have planned next?”

“They aren’t going to scoop up supplies and just sail on. That would be a letdown for my readers. I figure the leader is going to take them in for his own amusement, but they’ll be almost prisoners until he gets bored with them.”

“Emperor, Shogun, Gosanke leaders???”

“Uh, huh. One of those.”

“Oh honey, you really need our help.” Conversia moved in, uncomfortably close.

“Well. Nearly the whole world is at war. There’s the one the Lanternfish crew is headed for, but there is one between Giapon and Di Guo Quishi that Serang is most familiar with.”

Wiki turned her iPad Mini around to show us. “There were fifty-one different Shogun. Some of them didn’t live too long, but it might be a great source of names.”

“Where are they going to make port?” Libraria asked.

“I’m way ahead of you. They’re going to the Eastern side of the islands away from the the local war. I wanted somewhere toward the north so they could dip in and out. I chose Mito.”

Libraria reached in her handbag, searched through something, then produced a book that was bigger than the bag itself. “This is the complete history of Mito from the ice age through today. You really should read the whole thing.”

“How did you fit that in there?”

“We’re kind of special.” She guided me to my chair, then sat on the arm beside me, placing the book in my lap.

Conversia sat on the ottoman, then leaned way to far forward. “I think we should go to Japan. Nothing like conversing with the locals to get a feel for things. Take in the smells and colors. You can read the book during the flight.”

Wiki turned her iPad around once more. “Look at these beautiful gardens. I’d like to see those. It says they have an ancient aqueduct that’s still in use today. Oh, all that has to go in your book.”

“No it doesn’t. I’m not writing a travelogue. This isn’t even supposed to be Earth. It’s just based somewhat on real places. If I want to place a volcano there, I have every right.”

“Did you know there are two different kinds of volcanoes?” Libraria asked.

“Yes. And stop that–”

Wiki turned her device around once more. “There is a shield volcano and–”

“Stop! Please. All I need to do is snitch a few things to make the world realistic. Then I can add in some fantasy elements, and move my story ahead.”

“What kind of fantasy elements?” Conversia asked.

“I don’t know. We haven’t really dealt with ghosts and such yet.”

“Excellent choice.” Libraria lifted the book from my lap then slid herself into its place. “Japan has some terrifying ghosts. There is one called Funayurei who are the ghosts of those who died at sea. They approach ships and ask for a ladle. If someone gives them one, they will scoop seawater aboard so fast the ship will sink.” She produced another book. “Then there are the River Boys. They look like turtles and are tricksters who can drown people. Oh, and Tsunami Ghosts are horrifying. I’m trying to keep things nautical for you, but we can look further if you like.”

“Those are wonderful,” Conversia said. “The Tsunami is recent enough we could probably interview people who’ve seen the ghosts to get an idea of what they’re really like.”

“Okay, you ladies need to slow down. I know your game is to crash me on the rocks of research so I never finish my trilogy. Still, it’s all pretty interesting.”

“That’s the spirit.” Libraria ran her French tipped nails through my hair. “You’ve got a lot of reading to do.”

“I know my way around a kitchen. I’ll make us some coffee.” Conversia’s heels clacked away.

Wiki turned her iPad around once more. “Do we want these airline tickets, or not?”

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Weekend efforts

The writing cabin was quiet all weekend. Lisa is off somewhere with Sean Harrington making promotional art for Grinders. You would think this is the perfect opportunity to get some writing done, but it didn’t play out that way.

I still have the cover reveal happening for Grinders. There are multiple posts across the blogosphere currently, and if you find one, I’d appreciate a tweet or FB post in support. I love comments, and am circling back through to keep up with those.

I paid the invoice for book formatting, and already received the finished product back. Grinders is easier to format than one of The Hat books, because it does not include the silly little graphics of that series.

Doubt

Doubt, the oversized raven who was a gift from my Muse, stared glared at me from across the office. He opened his wings then glided to my desk. “Glorp. Glorp.

Despite their similarities, Ravens are not crows, and make the damndest collection of noises. He pecked at the back of my iPad. “Glorp.”

“Not this time, pal. I think Grinders is a good story. All my advance readers are excited for it, and you aren’t going to bring me down about it.”

“Chugga, glorp.”

“Okay, so it won’t publish for Chinese New Year. That only matters to me. Readers won’t care one way or the other. They just want a good story. Once Lisa gets home with the posters, I’ll make it available.”

“Chu, chu, chugga.”

“No. You’re not getting into my head this time. It’s always a concern with a new book, but my stuff has been well received in the past. I have the cover. I have the formatted copy, and once Lisa gets home, I’ll start writing blog posts and contacting people about my tour.”

He paced back and forth across the desktop. “Glup-glorp. Glup-glorp.”

“Do your damndest, but I haven’t got time for you right now.”

He continued to pace and scold, but I opened the HMS Lanternfish file and added about 1500 words to that story. It still isn’t enough to send out to my critique group, but about half of them still have the submission for the next story about Lizzie & The Hat. I don’t want to wear out my welcome in the group.

Lanternfish sailed away from Bungo Bungo, and the root monsters had a unique spin on story time. They might have taken things a bit too far this round, and I had to figure out some punishment details for them.

Everyone seems to be on good terms once more, but it’s a long way to Giapon. James can’t use his magical sextant now, because they have La Girona in their wake. La Girona is a ship they captured, and might be quite valuable to the war effort, if they ever get there.

Sailing to Giapon, and on to the war, has to be done the old fashioned way. This poses some issues for me. In fiction, you have to take the boring stuff out. I may move the story ahead to Giapon, or I might have another sea based encounter for them. Right now, I’m leaning toward moving the story forward. I have a whole week to dwell on it now. Besides, after Giapon I need to do even more sailing, so a monster there might be more appropriate.

“Glup, glup, glup.”

“No. I’m not going to write a raven into my story. Go back to your perch. I have to check on comments along my cover reveal trail.”

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Escaping the storm

I got started at the writing cabin fairly early today. Lisa Burton, my robotic assistant was in a snit.

“I don’t know how to flatten my skull so I can cosplay one of those Boondish people in your story.”

“Don’t worry about it. If they get any lines at all, they’re going to be minimal.”

“I have some adjustable parts so I can change my facial features, but not to that extent.”

“Maybe you can try a hair bump. A big one.”

“It would have to be big, but I might try it.”

“I wouldn’t worry about it. The root monsters get plenty of dialog, and you haven’t tried to dress up like one of them.”

“I suppose that’s true. So what are we writing today?”

“James is wounded, he’s had his vision, and they’re still running from the big storm. They don’t know it, but they’re on their way to Bungo Bungo.”

“What’s with all these names?”

“I’m trying to borrow from the Pacific islands as much as possible. I set Lanternfish in a fantasy world to avoid comparison to another famous Pirate adventure. I’m also avoiding any Carribean references if I can.”

“Got it, so what’s on the agenda?”

“James has to process his vision, then make a new plan without all the data he’d like.”

“Doesn’t that happen in all the stories?”

“You caught me. I think it’s an important part of character building. Because they have the second ship, and all the extra mouths, they’re running low on food. They can’t just pull into McDonalds and fill up. Serang even has them using boards and hand lines to catch fish.”

“That calls back to her own book, so that’s kind of cool.”

“When I was a kid, people used to troll in boats with a board wrapped in fishing line. It’s totally not PC today, but everyone called such a rig a Chinaman.”

“Oh, so you made the connection in your mind that Serang would know about this way of fishing.”

“Yeah, but I don’t come right out and call it that. Besides, it’s a fantasy world, there is no China.”

Lisa left to try bumping her hair to absurd levels, and I went to work. James processed his vision, healed his burns, but not his bad back, and they escaped the storm. They made it to the floating island called Bungo Bungo, and even stepped on the beach. Then I had to give up for the day.

Bungo Bungo is a magical place, and because it moves around, it’s going to have a variety of things from all over the world occupying it. I’m pretty excited to get going on this section, but ran out of gas.

I started the weekend at about 31000 words, added around 2000 on Saturday. Sunday I didn’t do anything. I never broke 40000 words, but I’m thiiiiiis close. That means today came in at just under 7000 words, and that’s the best day I’ve had in a long time.

The magical beer horns sounded, and were chased into the office by a pair of root monsters. Beer sloshed all over the floor. I scooped one up before the monsters made a mess of things.

Something tells me Lisa is going to put the monsters back in the vegetable crisper while I’m at work.

Lisa Burton

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