Category Archives: Writing

A Voice in the Silence

It’s my honor to welcome D. L. Finn to Entertaining Stories today. She’s here to tell us about her newest publication, and it sounds pretty good to me. Denise is a friend, a Story Empire partner, and a great author. I hope all of you will make her feel welcome, and don’t forget to use those sharing buttons at the end.

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Thank you for having me here today, Craig, to celebrate the release of A Voice in the Silence.

I’ve never had a pet who wanted a bath. Our dogs thought it was a punishment when I went from water to soap, while the cats would attempt to end all water contact with their front claws and propelling back legs. So, I had fun writing the bath scenes that included animals.

Imagine Drea’s surprise that they seemed to enjoy it, not only the dog Charlie, but the cat Jane, and rat Ben too. You’d either think they were the best-behaved and trained animals ever—or wonder. I know my mind would come up with an unusual scenario or two, but never consider these animal’s truths.

Still having a dog, cat and rat show up just when Drea needed it was an enormous boost for her in the depressed state she was in. She deserved that small moment of peace to bond in everyday chores like bathing these animals before her life, and theirs, unraveled.

Fun Finn Facts

1. Could there be labs trying to create talking animals? If they do and they escape they are welcome at my house.

2. Do our loved ones who have passed on try to communicate with us? I believe so.

Blurb

Drea Burr has experienced more than her share of loss when a stray dog, cat, and rat enter her life. Although the animals start to mend her broken heart, there is something very unusual about them. During a snowstorm, Drea discovers a chilling set of footprints leading to her front window. Both the police and a ghostly messenger warn her about a killer stalking widows. Help comes from her late husband’s best friend, Adam Hale. As the two try to discover answers, more questions arise— about a killer, ghosts, and animals experimented on in a lab.

Can Drea and Adam survive the threats coming from so many directions and save themselves and the animals they’ve grown to love? Or will more tragedy destroy her second chance at happiness? Find out in this thrilling, cozy paranormal adventure.

Excerpt

Drea gasped and sat up on the couch. Her heart was racing like her nightmare of falling off a cliff had been real. Although it was still dark out, dawn was peeking through the veil. She had slept soundly through the night. The familiar crackling of the fire was absent. She shivered in the cold room, wrapped the blanket tightly around her, and took the simple route of turning on the central heat over rekindling the flames. This time of year, she preferred the warmth of a woodstove over forced hot air, but since becoming a widow, she chose where to put her energy.

The animals were curled up on the blue wool hearth rug and hadn’t stirred. A pleasant sensation passed through her— a sense of belonging, or being needed. That inspired her to pull on her snow boots, coat, and gloves and grab her new black fabric wood carrier. She shut the door quietly behind her without letting it latch. The garage door creaked open, exposing her to the winter chill.

The headlamp fit snuggly across her brow. A simple flick of a switch lit her path across the pristine snow to the woodshed. As the narrow beam of light guided her forward, her boots sank into the covered landscape. She quickly filled her carrier with oak and turned to go back into the house when her path crossed another set of footprints.

Her heart raced as she studied the tracks. They were bigger and deeper than the ones she’d made. The square heel left out any possibility of being a forest animal, and the tracks led away from the house into the trees. A quick scan of the area didn’t offer any answers.

She took a deep breath to push her fear away. Next time, she’d bring her gun. How stupid to go outside alone with a killer on the loose.

Charlie’s paw swept the door open, and he sprinted to her side.

She met the dog’s wide-eyed gaze. “Someone’s been here.”

Charlie sniffed the air, nodded, and fell in behind her. His head bumped against her legs, quickening her sluggish pace. Looking to her right, she spotted more footprints—right outside her front window. Time inched forward as goosebumps crawled over her skin.

Finally they were inside the garage. She dumped the load on the concrete floor and raced to the button that would shut the door and offer her protection from the outside world. Charlie stood statue-still next to the closing door, which moved at the speed of a turtle. She sighed in relief when the outer metal door thumped shut and quickly gathered up the wood.

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Author Bio

D. L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 she relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to Nevada City, in the Sierra foothills. She immersed herself in reading all types of books but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations include adult fiction, poetry, a unique autobiography, and children’s books. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to all readers to join her.

D.L. Finn Links:

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D.L. Finn blog

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I was supposed to read today

I’m a couple of books behind right now, and have some serious reading I need to get on with. I earmarked this holiday for that purpose, but it never happened.

Things were flowing so well for Lizzie and the hat, that I couldn’t help myself. The wild goose chase continues, but she accomplished some things today that should help her out with her assignment.

Joyeux had to turn Lizzie down cold. The device she wanted to borrow is still in use, and Joyeux can’t spare it right now.

Help came via Cyrus Yoder, but it was Destiny the elemental that made her new device. It’s a mallet. The old fashioned kind that looks similar to half of a rolling pin. I can’t wait to see what kind of monkey business I can concoct with that device.

Cyrus is still grouchy and reserved. Dash is still helpful when he’s allowed to be, and Noodles made his first appearance. He’s going to have a bigger role in this story, but I never got that far.

Fallout from a giant flood is part of the influence in this book. Lizzie is broke. (When isn’t she) Venues for her band are struggling, so the hat booked the band into a junior high dance. I’ll probably get to that bit on my next writing session.

It was a good four-day author stretch. I moved both Mari’s and Lizzie’s stories ahead. Mari’s word count is at 23,800. Lizzies is at 12,500.

I’d like Lizzie’s story to remain at that short novel size. So she might be 25% finished. Mari’s story is intended for a full sized novel, so perhaps 25%, but it might come in a bit shorter.

I expect things to slow down with the changes being made at my workplace. It’s okay. I have two complete novels in the can right now, add these two, and I’m in a pretty good position.

I’ll need to set aside some time to add the cartoons to The Midnight Rambler, and do a final editing pass on it before fall. I will also take time to edit book one of my space opera, which still needs a title.

I might have to use my headphones and read during the evenings. They tend to drown out whatever Old What’s Her Face has on television so I can concentrate.

I hope all of you who got a holiday found a way to enjoy it.

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Strange thought today

My family has never been one for Hallmark holidays. I haven’t heard from any of my kids today, and it really doesn’t matter.

I’ve been dwelling on the idea that last year I called my father and wished him a Happy Father’s Day. It was the last time I would ever do that, and I kind of wish I could today. Strange idea, but if you follow this blog or read my fiction, you can consider the source.

Aside from that, it was another low word count day. I feel much better about it, though. The wild goose chase has begun. Lizzie and the hat left Good Liniment in search of Joyeux DuPont.

Joyeux has a cool new house I wanted to describe. The witches in this series are kind of eccentric. They have to fit into modern society, almost hide among us. When they’re at home they can be themselves. I try to make their homes something just a degree off the standard. We’ve seen Evelyn’s 1960s rancher and Cyrus’ Victorian. You will soon see Professor Lagomorph’s modern architectural nightmare.

Joyeux bought an old water tower. The kind that used to house city offices in the lower levels. She’s in the process of turning it into her home.

I rarely blurt out what any witch’s strong discipline is, except in the case of Dash Goodman. There are enough clues for readers to figure them out. Joyeux is turning the water tank into her personal greenhouse, and it’s already filled with some cool things. I think readers are going to like her. She got a brief intro in Good Liniment, but will get more of a chance to shine in this story.

If you’re a fan of Noodles, the pet creature, he’s going to shine in this one, too.

While it was a low volume day, I feel better now that the chase is on. This one should pick up the pace now, and I have tomorrow available, too.

Call your dad and wish him a Happy Father’s Day while you still can.

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Slower going today

Lizzie and the hat went a little slower than I anticipated today. It makes perfect sense when I think about it. I’m in the phase where I’m still moving pieces around.

Once I got past some of this in Mari’s story my word count really picked up. I had to get Lizzie inside the server farm so she could deal with the gremlins. That didn’t go well, so she needed help.

Some of this stems from the ongoing series aspect here. I can’t just plop Dash Goodman into the story without some minor reintroductions. We’re also exploring a new part of Good Liniment for this help, and I need to slow down and describe it. I have every intention that someone could pick this story up without ever having read any of the others and not feel lost.

Turns out the basement at Good Liniment might be even more interesting than the bar and restaurant upstairs.

This is going to turn into a wild goose chase to find something to deal with the gremlins. Imagine trying to kill cockroaches with pistols. She needs a new tool. It’s going to allow Lizzie to foster a relationship with Joyeux DuPont, and allow me to introduce a new witch entirely.

This one won’t be quite as dark as some of its predecessors. I’ve gotten Lizzie shot before, gave her a mental meltdown, and there have been some brutal killings in previous volumes. I can afford one that’s a bit lighter.

This doesn’t mean Lizzie will have a cakewalk. I intend to put her under a curse that could be career ending. (I intend to play it for humor.)

Another thing I could be struggling with is the publication schedule. Good Liniment is on Amazon right now. Midnight Rambler will come out this Fall. Goodbye Old Paint could include growth points from a story nobody’s seen yet. I don’t think this is the problem, though. Moving the pieces into place always takes time for me.

I’d like to fit Kevin the vampire in here somehow, but he’s not exactly working for this story. Dash’s kind of help seems more pertinent. I also need to come up with something for Night Bump Radio, but government hacking should be a simple enough idea. Tying it to the urban legend of Hellpox might take some serious thought.

Word count came to 2200 today. About a thousand off from what Mari’s last writing day produced.

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Not according to plan, but I’ll take it

Today might be my last flex day ever. I really wanted to make the pixels fly, and earmarked this time for Lizzie and the hat.

All I needed to do first was go back through Mari’s story for some quick changes. I wanted to add a few southernisms and some Spanish to my dialog. Little things like Miss Kililah, as opposed to just Kililah.

I wound up getting into the story as I edited, and added 3500 words to it. I got through a tropical storm, and the Voodoo scene I’ve been looking forward to. I did some research here, and think I stayed fairly true, but also made it work for the story.

Papa Legba is an entity who can speak every language. Extinct languages and even those that haven’t been created yet. He serves as a kind of broker between us and the Gods because we can’t speak their language. His favorite number is three. I used three old fashioned keys to a really cool effect. He loves black and red, so I covered an altar with deadly coral snakes. He also loves dogs, more on that in a couple of paragraphs.

It may seem like a neat thing, or even a handy tool for Mari, but it’s actually a major upgrade. We see a lot of heroes who can fly, are bulletproof, stretchy and bendy. This story doesn’t lend itself to that. How many heroes have you ever seen with an enhanced olfactory sense?

To expand on this, Mari rescued a black & tan coonhound. She’ll have to rescue her one more time, but I didn’t get that far. Here’s Mari, having lost her family, and suffered through a brutal gang rape. I gave her something adorable to grab onto. The fact that it’s a hound with a superior olfactory sense works wonders for me. It gives me some better bonding opportunities to work with as Mari learns her way around this unique skill.

I stopped right there and moved over to Lizzie’s story. I want to read what I have so far, and will focus on that before adding any new words. I still have hopes to move Goodbye Old Paint ahead before the weekend wraps up.

If I get anything done tomorrow, I’ll check in again.

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Better than I’d hoped

Sundays are usually horrible days for me to write. I call my mother and spend about an hour with her. There are general chores and such that I earmark for Sundays. I might gain an hour or so, but usually don’t.

For whatever reason, probably having the house to myself, I managed some quality time. I stayed with Mari’s story, and feel kind of bad about it.

I left poor Lizzie handcuffed outside of a secure Federal agency in the grass. She didn’t do anything wrong, but she’s been there for a couple of weeks now. Next weekend I’ll get what amounts to my last flex day ever and might return to help her out.

Mari’s rescue was complete. She lost four or five days in an unconscious state. Sun, fire ants, and abuse will do that to you in my story.

Her rescuer is Kelilah, and she survived the war Mari only sees the remnants of. As Mari got her legs under her, she started checking the fish traps and figured out how they work. A neat skill for someone traveling through swamp country.

Kelilah also told her bits and pieces about the war. Not too many speak of it, so this was a rare opportunity for her to learn something about the previous world.

This conversation peppered a scene where Mari learned how to throw a box of knives Kelilah had collected from her old military unit as they were killed. These Arkansas toothpicks were a symbol of the scouts.

They also spent some quality time learning how to knife fight, and it’s more brutal than just trying to stab someone.

Bath time also came along which involved a trough and heating water on an outdoor stove Kelilah had built. This is where Mari learned one of her attackers, the same ones who killed her family, wrote his name across her ass. It will wash away eventually, but someone named “Keefe” made it to the top of her death list.

As the bruises heal, and the deep tissues start feeling better, Mari and Kelilah are heading for a distant community to forage. There are quality fruit trees and things there. I’ll have Kelilah reveal a bit more about the past as this section expands. For now, they have to wait until I get some more writing time.

With no expectations, my word count exceeded yesterdays. I always struggle with transitions, and now that I made them the story flowed better. Mari’s skill set is growing by leaps and bounds. She has two clues to work with, Keefe and someone with a yellow handled machete. Much better than the laughing silhouettes from her personal attack.

Still raining in Idaho. Now that the weekend is over, I’m sure it will return to sunny days and high temperatures. Heaven forbid we get a nice weekend. For those of you wondering, Old What’s Her Face pulled in about an hour ago and had a great time with her brother and our grandson.

Hope all of you had wonderful weekends, and have a great week ahead of you.

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Not as good as I’d hoped

It’s a bachelor weekend around here. Old What’s Her Face decided to brave the $5 gasoline and visit some family in Nevada. I had big plans for moving at least one story ahead.

I spent Friday night with a huge bottle of Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, Obi Wan Kenobi, and Crime Story. No sense getting greedy about writing, and I deserved an evening of whatever the hell I want.

I woke up early and intended to make the pixels fly. No real target or agenda. There’s a scene that I’ve been dreading in Mari’s story and rather than put it off I faced it head on.

There are some scenes I don’t feel like I write particularly well, but I’ve learned a pseudo-trick. I kind of write them from the side. I don’t have to write erotica to include characters who are intimate. I just pick it up from the other end. Works for me. (I need to dwell on this and I might get a Story Empire post out of it.)

This scene involves a personal failure on Mari’s part and she paid the price. Rather than feel every broken rib, or penetrative act, I skipped ahead to her being roused by a rescuer. Fire ants found their way into the story.

The old woman who rescued her is going to become a kind of mentor. This lady was actually in the war Mari sees the remnants of. There are some new bushcraft and frontier skills headed Mari’s way, but I never made it that far.

This is also the character that’s going to bring that little bit of Voodoo to the tale that makes it one of my stories. I’ve done my research and this is a gift from an entity known as Papa Legba.

I never did a formal count, but it feels like 3000 – 3500 words. Sounds awesome, but I had about seven hours at my disposal. I got up early. It’s also likely to be my weekly word count as well as my day. I’ll see how far I get tomorrow. Right now it’s at 15,160.

Mari’s story involves a lot of moving around, and I’m trying to get into the scenery. This includes remnants from the war, like the night she spent beside the burned up hull of a Blackhawk helicopter.

I’m also touching upon some of the exotic wildlife that has made its way into the Gulf Coast area. Nothing preachy, but there are iguanas and pythons present already. A few Quaker parakeets also exist. I’ll probably step it up from there, but so far it’s been realistic. Don’t know if I’ll include a bit about global warming, but it feels like something that could work here.

Poor Mari is really going through the crucible in this one. She’s tough and well prepared, but not as well as she thought. Perhaps this mentor character can provide a bit more that she’s lacking.

This mentor will provide some things, but not everything. I have another stop far down the line that will deliver a bit more, but it’s Mari who’s going to have to make the ultimate evolution before the big showdown.

I’m probably going to go back to some television for the rest of the day. Stormy and hot here in Idaho. It’s a weird combo, but the weather all year has been weird.

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Reporting in today

Plans didn’t change, but nature dictates what I can do.

I actually wrote that one into The Midnight Rambler, and got the cover ordered. I plan on releasing this one for the Halloween reading season. It’s a hat story, and I’m excited to share it with everyone. I wasn’t going to talk about it today, but this song is invading my head right now.

While Lizzie and the hat are chasing the Midnight Rambler, there is a major flood event happening. Naturally, the band drifts into songs about rain.

It was raining when I woke up. It rained all day. We have a first-rate thunderstorm brewing out there right now. Safe to say, spraying my trees wasn’t on the agenda today.

I wound up starting with Mari, back in the swamp country. This involves a big portion of world building in a town called Columbia. This is based upon a nuclear submarine that washed miles inland during the big war. The reason this is a post apocalyptic world.

The end of the war involved nuclear weapons and the subsequent wave brought it to rest. The town built up around it, and some wise person used the reactor to provide electricity to the town. They boast it’s the only town with electric lights in the whole world.

This next section is going to be hard to write. I need some time to think it out, because Mari is going to get herself in trouble.

I switched back to Goodbye Old Paint. Lizzie is dealing with the FBI and the file they have on her activity. I have some real problems in store for her, too. I need to get things moving and this always takes a bit of dabbling. Lizzie’s problems will be more humorous, while Mari’s are pretty serious.

Lizzie is sorting things out from the end of Midnight Rambler, like FEMA benefits. I swear this will still work as a stand alone.

I need to get her to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to see her problem first-hand. It’s going to be something she and the hat are ill equipped to handle. (Still coming up with things the hat can call this agency that are incorrect.)

Still, I added words to both stories. I’ll probably stick with Lizzie and the hat tomorrow. Assuming it’s still going to be raining. If the weather breaks, I may actually spray my trees.

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Started another one

I got Mari to a crossroads in the wilderness and it poses a small geography problem. She needs to take all three options before her. I wrote one of them that allowed me to show a bit of setting and close the book on her former life. She made it back to the crossroads, and I want to think the next part over in more depth.

This meant it’s time to start on the next hat story. For some reason this one flowed better. It’s probably because I know the characters so well.

Here’s the shtick for this one. It opens with Lizzie working her dead end jobs in the wake of a disaster that happens in The Midnight Rambler. I’m still cognizant of keeping each volume as a stand alone title in the series.

A huge flood event is part of Midnight Rambler. I’m making sure to drop enough details so those who skip MR will be able to pick it right up in the next book. Those who read in order will see the continuity across the titles.

Since Lizzie lives in a basement apartment, it’s out of commission for repairs, so she’s temporarily living with Shade, her saxophone player. It’s a return favor from Lunar Boogie.

The FBI is asking for Lizzie’s help on a matter of national security. They’re forcing her into it by exposing a file on her previous goings on, then leveraging her unpaid student loans as a kind of payoff. It’s a crappy payoff, but it’s in keeping with the events of her regular life.

I may have mentioned it here, but never between the covers of the books. I never mention where Lizzie lives, because I want to make some of it up as I go. If I need a special park or event center, I don’t want to limit myself as to what actually exists. Having said that, here in author land, it’s basically St. Louis.

I found out the National Geospacial-Intelligence Agency has an important site in St. Louis. I won’t reveal the city in my story, but it fits my plan perfectly.

The NGIA is all about satellite photos, spy planes, and other geographical data. I added they can track ships at sea and a few other tidbits. They’re part of the US Intelligence network.

Turns out the NGIA has been invaded by gremlins. All Lizzie has to do is get rid of them in a big server farm.

Lizzie is living on disaster food stamps, disaster rental assistance, FEMA monies, and whatever else she can scrape together. I had some fun with her trying to sell timeshares and working for Uber Eats. Also had fun with the hat trying to sell timeshares.

I have a nice line about insurance coming up when she finally gets to the campus.

Let’s just say, I’m having a great time. Ran into a snag in writing Mari’s story in first person, then nearly starting Lizzie’s story in first person, too. Got over that after a couple of paragraphs.

I like writing two at once so I can keep making word count. I broke 3000 words on Lizzie’s next tale while dwelling on Mari’s next moves. Tomorrow is a good writing day, and I may bounce back and forth.

Not too bad for having accomplished nothing yesterday. Don’t feel at all bad about it either. It’s nice being ahead of the game.

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Chipping away at it

Somehow, I managed today as my flex day. It hasn’t happened very often that I get a four day weekend out of the schedule, but I’m pretty stoked about it.

Tried my hand at some fiction this morning. It’s going slow. I’ve been dwelling on this story for years, but I still have to get post apocalyptic America on the page along with everything else. This involves things like transportation which is back to horse power, or in Mari’s case ox power.

It also involves a monetary system where barter is king, and salvage is a way of life. The currency exists in the form of quarters. These are more durable than old paper money, and people can sift through the rubble for them on occasion. Sometimes purchases are made by the coin count, other times by the pound. It’s +/- $20 per pound of coins. I looked it up.

I also have to work with geography and a few ideas from the fall of our modern society. For now, I’m sticking with “Once Upon a Time in the Swamp,” for a title. Something else may come to me as I write it out, but it functions for drafting purposes.

I’d like to start another Lizzie and the hat tale soon. Working on two projects at once really functions well for me. When I get in a bind on one, I can switch to the other and still earn word count out of the day.

I keep finding some pretty obscure music as part of my hat research. After so many volumes, I’ve covered a lot of tunes people are likely to recognize. I hate to use obscure stuff, but might have to start weaving some of that in.

This is something new from Samantha Fish. I think it’s a cover of an older song, but I can totally envision Lizzie and the Pythons playing it.

I’m thinking the working title for this story will be “Goodbye Old Paint.” That will probably be a line of dialog in the story. It will involve national security, and her being forced into helping. My motivator could go down in flames, though. It involves Lizzie’s unpaid student loans. If the president forgives those it might force me to change directions.

With any luck, I might start writing this one before the long weekend ends. Right now, Mari and the swamp need more of my attention.

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