Category Archives: Writing

Not quite so organized

I stayed up past eleven o’clock last night watching my baseball team lose another game. They lost again today. Sometimes I think the only time they lose is when I can watch. It’s a powerful burden to carry a curse.

With that in mind, I hoped to sleep in a bit, but Otto wasn’t having it. Whenever he gets table scraps in his bowl, he can only hold out so long. My day started at six.

I tried not to do anything too heavy until after I called my parents this morning. After reading Father’s Day blogs, I really am blessed to still have them around.

I moved into writing by rereading what I came up with the day before. A few minor edits, and I was ready for new words.

The words didn’t come as easy today. I had to search back for some of the commitments I’d already made. Things like how many guns this ship was designed to hold. Gear certain characters have available to them. That kind of thing.

I also had to research the language of root monsters. Let’s face it, I’m making it up on the fly, but once I commit, I need to be consistent with it. This also revealed an inconsistency in the way I spelled some of their words, so I fixed it.

The biggest accomplishment was updating the “cast of characters” sheet so I have this data readily available.

On the momentum side, the root monsters declared war on seagulls. The cook declared war on root monsters, and my main character had to deal with all of it. Bay frogs were cooked and eaten.

There is a tropical storm brewing, and they sailed out to get ahead of it. The couple who got together had to figure out how to be together aboard the ship, but that was pretty easy.

There might be a use for the skin of bay frogs. They’re pretty big, like roast turkey big. Might make a cool look for some leather items. Frog skin gauntlets? Frog skin chicharones?

I’m debating whether the new character, Serang needs a magical fu dog at her disposal. That might be drifting too far into the magical stuff, but it’s added diversity too. What’s scarier, a realistic looking fu dog, or one that’s bronze with a green patina? They’re also supposed to come in pairs, so maybe she needs one of each.

Now that I think about it, that’s a lot of work from nine o’clock to noon. That’s when Old What’s Her Face got off work today.

She went to the store and went seafood crazy. We googled a recipe for grilled oysters. They turned out good, but they weren’t New Orleans good. This might have to do with living in Idaho instead of next door to actual oyster beds.

She also bought a few king crab legs. I’m stuffed right now.

My hands are kind of buggered up from shucking oysters and trying to coax king crab out of its shell. For those who don’t know, king crabs are kind of spiky.

I’m off tomorrow, but so is she. I may get some new words down, but I’m not making big plans.

Hope everyone had a nice Father’s Day. I called my dad. If you still have access to yours, you should too.

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The heavens parted today

Some days even I get lucky. I made it a point to sleep in a bit and get a slow start. I wanted to surf through social media while having my first cup of coffee.

It actually felt good, but the dogs wanted me to get on with it. They took up their positions to remind me.

There is Frankie, who thinks she’s part monkey by climbing behind me.

Here is Otto, who has claimed one arm of my chair.

Today the words just wouldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop when I did. Old What’s Her Face called to say she’d gotten off work, or I’d still be at it.

At that time, I paused to work on Lisa Burton Radio interviews and schedule another announcement for a friend. Lots of new books coming out right now.

As far as my story goes, I concluded the romantic interlude. It made for a fun tropical vacation. A message in a bottle got dropped into the ocean, some skinny dipping occurred. A creature similar to an anteater appeared on the beach, only he’s a snaileater. Glow in the dark tiny bats made an appearance similar to fireflies.

When the kids got back to town, the captured ship had been completely stripped, painted, renamed (Lanternfish) and is getting ready to set sail. I even amazed myself at the way I stitched some things together.

I built that bit of doubt I mentioned the other night, then quelled it with a small private action and a bit of dialog. This served to strengthen the bonds of friendship amongst the main characters.

A couple of the main characters got new outfits, and one purchased a bird called an anvil bird. He’s like a combo of parrot, toucan, and hornbill. Sean Harrington may have to paint him one day down the road.

The woman who bought the bird revealed a very personal issue, and dealt with the matter by purchasing the bird. Too spoilerish for her character arc to go into more detail.

I even introduced a new crew member. Since this is an alternate world, using words like Asian, Chinese, or even the outdated Oriental won’t quite work. I gave her Eastern features and left it at that. I’ll probably have to go back and work that out later.

Her name is Serang. She’s tall, thin, beautiful, and deadly. She carries a single bladed pole weapon. Another creation called a bay frog got speared. (Frogs don’t live in salt water in reality, plus this one is big.)

I have some cool plans for Serang.

A bigger ship requires a bigger crew, but I can’t name them all. I need enough to make it feel like a whole crew, but limit dialog and actions to those with names.

Oddly enough, I did it all without root monsters, the moving reef, or any of the other sub stories.

Tomorrow, I really want to dive into it again, but it’s also the day I call my parents. I’ll sacrifice a few hours there any time.

Hope all of you are enjoying your weekends. Probably wrap up the day with Baseball, salted caramel stout, and Papa Murphy.

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The Contract – between heaven and earth

I’m really excited to have John and Gwen stop by today. I had the honor of being a beta reader on this story, and I think you guys are going to like it.

The CONTRACT between heaven and earth

By John W. Howell & Gwen M. Plano

Thank you, Craig, for inviting us to join you today. We are super excited to be featured on your blog where some of the most imaginative writing takes place. Also, we are so thrilled to meet Lisa Burton. We’ve wanted to try on The Hat, but we promised to be on our best behavior and besides who knows what could happen if we did. Thanks again.

The Contract

Available on Kindle and Paperback

Kindle priced at $0.99 for the introduction.

The CONTRACT is a different story for writers John W. Howell and Gwen M. Plano. For either of them, it is their first attempt at co-authorship. After a year of Hurricane Harvey and other challenges, they have created, what they have termed, an inspirational thriller that bridges heaven and earth.

Here is the blurb:

The earth is threatened with a catastrophic political event which could result in international warfare and destroy all life on the planet. In heaven, a divine council decides that extraordinary measures are essential. They call for an intervention that involves two souls returning to earth. The chosen two sign a contract that they will work to avert the disaster.

Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien, a teacher, become heaven’s representatives on earth. The story follows them as they individually and then together face overwhelming obstacles and eventually end up on a strategic Air Force base in California. It is there that they discover a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States. The terrorists have a plan for global dominance, and they are determined to complete their mission. Although military leadership appears to have the President’s best interests at heart, it is not clear who can be trusted and who should be feared. The action is rough and tumble as Brad and Sarah try to figure out the culprits for the plot that will turn into a worldwide conflagration unless stopped.

If you enjoy thrillers, this is one with enough twists and adventure to keep you riveted and guessing. If you like your thriller along with a good romance, Brad and Sarah’s initial attraction and eventual love will sustain you as they live out their heavenly and earthly desires.

Trailer

Here is an excerpt.

After a few moments of silence, the general got up and walked over to a double set of windows. He pulled on his chin and appeared taken aback by the information. Then he turned to face Brad, crossed his arms, and leaned back on the window.

“Do you know who arrives in four days, Sailor?”

“No, sir.”

“The President of the United States.”

Brad gulped. “Oh, my God. They sent me here because the bomb has something to do with the President?”

“Sailor, when you went on an op, wasn’t every detail orchestrated?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Didn’t you have diversions in place, to sidetrack the guards?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Your SUV is set to explode at zero-ten-hundred hours in four days. The President will address the base at that time in the ball field. The entire Reconnaissance Wing will congregate on that ball field. Do you understand?”

“I do, sir. Equipped with our nation’s most advanced aircraft, the Reconnaissance Wing provides for our national security.”

“Sailor—” The general smiled. “You may have thought you’d have a few days of vacation here, but you’ll work with me now.”

“Yes, sir. Whatever you need, sir.”

Authors Bio.

John Howell Head shotGwen's headshot

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. The last, Circumstances of Childhood is a family life thriller story and launched October 2017. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

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

John’s other books.

Available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

Gwen had a lengthy career in higher education, and it was there that she published her first book, Beyond Boundaries, for students interested in volunteer work in developing countries. After she retired, she wrote her award-winning memoir, Letting Go into Perfect Love.

Gwen lives in Branson, Missouri with her husband.

Gwen’s Books.

Available on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2wdXsrn

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Odd day to update

I had to change my work week around. This led to me getting Tuesday as my flex day. I kind of expected to get a lot done, but it never felt quite right. Sometimes you just have a feeling.

Otto tried to get me started early, but I got him to go back to sleep. I didn’t get up until 7:00.

This is still okay, but the dogs were well rested and crazy for a few hours. Think of a moving battle that rolls from room to room and across the floor. They’re just playing, but bulldog style has to be witnessed to be appreciated. Imagine two hippos with mouths wide open. They growl and rush at each other before a lengthy pushing match ensues.

I wound up reading through the last two chapters of Lanternfish and making some edits. I discovered an odd bit about paying off the crew when they got to the pirate stronghold. It’s all fixed now, but it took some thought and experimentation.

I also dreamed up a few more scenes to bring into the story somehow. Then I drifted off into research.

This time it’s about jellyfish. How they work, which parts do what; that kind of thing. It’s probably going to lead to a jellyfish that’s several miles wide, and big enough to get a ship stuck for days. It’s also big enough to ensnare an entire pod of whales. It’s a work in progress, so we’ll see how that comes out after a bit of improvement.

I’m also working on bits about the root monsters vs seagulls, and vs the ship’s cook. May, or may not, include them.

My daughter was home today, so we spent most of the day talking. For some reason I can daydream and say, “Uh huh,” at the same time. (I think it’s a Dad thing.) Her last day at the Boise job is tomorrow, she starts in Sun Valley again Sunday.

The cat will be moving with her. He was pretty funny today too. He attacked the dogs and ran upstairs. He’s quite the little antagonist. He likes to hide between the throw pillows while Frankie tries to draw him like a badger.

I can’t complain about today’s outcome. It will be the last big visit with my daughter for a while, and it was nice. My story is between acts, and at a transition phase. It’ll keep.

Things might be quiet on my front for the next few days, but Lisa Burton Radio is all scheduled and ready to go. I will respond to comments and such as time allows, but will be with colleagues in McCall and my time is not my own.

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Hodgepodge kind of day

Otto decided to get me up at 5:00 this morning. It really wasn’t in my plan, but Momma put some leftover chicken breast in his bowl, and he knew it was there. He held out as long as he could, then needed to get at it.

Across yesterday and today, I got one shtick out the door for an interview, and scheduled one for July. I have another one to schedule, and two more to move ahead in the queue. One of my guests is a planner, and needs a date in August. I went ahead and scheduled that one too. (I love planners. They can make the interview part of a larger tour.)

I managed about 2000 new words of fiction today too. Yesterday was all about cannons, swords, and action. Today was all about coming down from that. The pirate crew is starting to meld together, and it occurred to me that, as a whole, the crew is also a character. A lot of character building happened today. Fart jokes were made too.

I watched a beautiful horse race today, which led to another Triple Crown Winner. These things are rare, and there may have been as many Popes in my lifetime as Triple Crown Winners. (I’m not taking the time to count.) So excited for Justify and his peeps.

Now I’m hoping my baseball team can pad their lead in the west. This is going to be a tough series, and we’re on the road, but stranger things have happened.

I took a minute to catch up on blogs, and stumbled across some exciting news. Karen O, is the first book reviewer I ever met. Years ago, she was taken by Lisa Burton in her debut novel. She asked me if she could use Lisa in a story she was writing.

Lisa was just lounging around, and I hadn’t come up with tasks for Lisa at the time, so I said yes. Karen serialized this story on her blog, and it was a lot of fun. A while back, she asked me if it might be alright to publish it. I said yes, with no reservations, and encouraged her to do it.

Karen is doing a cover reveal today for her story, Neighbors. Lisa has a small co-starring kind of role in the story. Go visit Karen for more information at this site In A Small Compass.

If I do nothing else, it’s been a productive weekend. I plan on addressing those pending interviews, but we’ll see how it goes.

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Welp… Sunday.

I worked on writing projects this weekend. I could have been more productive, but could have gone the other way too.

Part of the mix, as always, is to keep Lisa Burton Radio moving along. At this stage of the game, I have worked ahead, so I stole some time for writing.

I didn’t accomplish much, but I never intended to. I needed to familiarize myself with the manuscript, because I stepped away from it for so long. This involved some light duty reading, and a few corrections along the way.

Writing never started until about 10:00 Saturday, and it came to about a chapter. We learned that bored pirates will do nearly anything for rum. We also spotted a distant ship on the horizon, and started giving chase. My intention is to give the idea that it takes time to pursue a distant ship in the age of sail. This isn’t to mean things are boring now. I’m using this phase to illustrate a battle plan and make ready. This will be a one shot thing, but I think it’s important to include.

Next stretch will involve a sea battle, some monsters, more monsters, some magic and mayhem.

After that, I assembled and scheduled interviews into early July. I have a hard time not forging ahead on these things. Right now, there are two more I need to work up shticks for. I know what it’s like being an author and trying to promote my work. However, what am I supposed to do when I get fifty applicants at once? These post once per week, and there are fifty-two weeks in a year. Not everyone will come through, so that won’t be the case, but it illustrates my position.

So, should I bust my hump and get those two shticks written and sent to the authors? Absolutely. But with being scheduled into July, I have to take the hours I can get for my own writing. I suffer with this all the time, and I realize there is no right answer.

I hope my guests will forgive me, but everything will be finished in time for the remaining July dates.

I also wrote my next post for Story Empire and got it scheduled. Then I roughed out one after that. I may not use that one, but I actually have an alternate idea too. I may pick away at that during the evenings, and decide when my next turn comes around.

Oh, I also assembled and scheduled a post I’m hosting for some friends. They sent an html file, so it amounted to a couple of clicks, but it’s ready too.

In personal news, we didn’t do a damned thing beyond hanging out. No date night, nothing. I managed to watch a couple of baseball games and even drank one beer.

I consider it a productive weekend, even if it wasn’t massively productive. I hope all of you enjoyed your weekends too. My next flex day is Friday, and I hope to deal with those monsters, cannons, and magic.

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Mid-Week posting

I’ve always tried to post three times per week, plus have Lisa Burton Radio on Thursdays. I hear whispers of folks stepping things back during the Summer, but I never have. There are times when I have more to say, and will exceed this number of posts, but I like to keep fresh content coming.

This isn’t always easy, so sometimes you get pet pictures, or something about sourdough. There are times when I’m not actively drafting a new story, and still want to post something.

April and May were tough months. My paycheck job was busy as it ever gets, and that takes a certain amount of calories. I also set a goal of releasing Yak Guy before school lets out for the summer. This is because my experience with summer releases isn’t very good.

Good news, two new five star reviews showed up this week… so far. An author could always use more.

During this same stretch, I was swamped with Lisa Burton Radio interviews. Since I am a weekend warrior as an author, this cuts into my productivity time too. I closed my current novel, and focused on getting other things accomplished. In this, I feel like I’ve been successful.

I have interviews scheduled ahead until the later half of June. I have one more to assemble and schedule, but since you can’t read it until the end of June, there is time to catch my breath. I’m down to following up authors I’ve sent materials to, so there will be July interviews. If you’re interested in having a character interviewed by Lisa, it’s possible to shoehorn one in based upon other folks dragging their feet.

Over at Story Empire, I need to check the schedule and write those posts I’m going to be responsible for. I may write something and get it scheduled over the coming weekend.

One of the things most folks are struggling with now is called GDPR. I think it stands for God Damned Privacy Regulations. Most of us are posting a privacy policy on our blogs and websites to be as compliant as possible.

I’m against the whole theory behind this, but I went ahead and posted one anyway. Please look up at the top of my blog.

Yeah, all the way up. There is a page called “Privacy Policy.” I think I covered all the requirements, but this blog is called Entertaining Stories. This means I tried to make it informative and entertaining at the same time. Make sure you’re all protected and check it out.

Today, I dusted off The Voyage of the Lanternfish and read the whole thing; all 30,000 words. If things work out, I may be able to add some words to it on Saturday. I’m introducing the pirate crew, so a few of their stories are appropriate. Fortunately, a bunch of sailors telling stories isn’t too hard to sell.

I have one more event in the getting acquainted with new characters part, then there will be a huge sea battle. A battle with monsters and magic included. I’m excited to get back to it… if things work out.

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