Category Archives: Writing

Progress, depends on how you define it.

Today was my flex day. I made no effort at all to wake up early, but was up around six o’clock. I took my time with chores, social media, email, and my standard AM process.

I turned to my manuscript, and started reading the last chapter plus. Fixed a few spelling errors and one double word.

Right now, the story involves moving the pirate ship into harm’s way once more, and doing some character building to help carry this section.

I need to make sure to build some tension as they face a well trained enemy with multiple ships, and that might be slow going as I work back and forth across it. This will lead right into the big finish scene.

There is a lot that has to happen in the finale. I’ve planted quite a few things that need to pay off now. Magic, cannon, swordsmanship, and a new monster will be involved. Then, of course, there is a denouement of some kind.

I’m mildly concerned about the big finish, because I don’t want it to feel like a battle scene that drags on. There are enough characters, and it’s a moving battle, so I get some leeway.

Denouement is another struggle. I have a happy ending I could go with, or one that leads into a possible sequel. My big issue with this involves my readers. If they don’t take to book one, will anyone be interested in book two? A second book would also eat time for something else I’d like to write.

Who knows how I’ll handle it. Honestly, I need to focus on one step at a time here.

Moving pieces around the board doesn’t sound like much progress, but it’s required in the story.

On the other hand, I wrote three blog posts this afternoon, including this one. One of them will post over at Story Empire next week. Blogging counts by my rules, so today was fairly productive.

Back to work tomorrow, but my next flex day is Monday. With a three day weekend I might even finish my novel, but it would be a stretch. I won’t rush it. If I have to wait another week, so be it, but I’m getting close here.

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While not camping

It’s 108 here right now. I’m watching the baseball game with a cold beer now. Found a little writing time this morning.

This section is about introducing the new cabin boy. He’s kind of subservient, but I want him to show his adventurous side a bit. Right now he’s interacting with the crew a bit, learning a few tasks, and he went through orientation. This involved listening to the root monsters tell their stories on the forecastle. (No, I didn’t make the reader suffer through them again on the page.)

Since this is a bit of character building, I had the captain show him how to load a flintlock pistol. I may have spent too long here, but that’s really what it’s like to load one of these things. Readers might find it interesting, but there were also some remarks about kids and fathers and some nice dialog to break up the task.

We’ve moved into the section that involves experimenting and mathematics. The first test was successful, but too small to be useful. The Captain needs to think bigger to see the real value here.

I’m going to pepper this section with some actual piracy on the high seas. This is to illustrate the success of the new process for my readers. That will likely start tomorrow morning.

For some reason, my transitions take me longer to write than the adventurous sections. It wasn’t a tremendous word count, but I’m at 93, 500 words now. It may be smaller, but it’s still progress.

This next section is to reveal what’s possible for my readers. Then I head into my big final phase of the story. This one might get finished this month with a bit of luck.

I also worked up the shtick for another Lisa Burton Radio show and got it sent out. Keep me in mind if you’d like a bit of free promotion. If you’re holding out for September to release your next book, planning an interview for then works out well.

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A little update

We cancelled our weekend camping trip, so we’re going to be sticking around the house this weekend. When I left my office, it was 100 degrees outside. The low country was pretty much that temperature. When I climbed up to the bench, it hit 106.

Bulldogs tip over and die at those temperatures. Our weekend would have been spent with wet towels, possibly dunking dogs in the lake, etc. That doesn’t sound like much of a camp out to me.

My plan is to write as much as possible. We might get a shot at date night since payday is in about five hours.

In other news, I created a BookBub account. People who are smarter than me said it’s the place to be, so now I am. I’m still figuring it all out, and it seems like a kinder gentler version of Goodreads.

I’m telling you this so you can all rush over there and check it out. I’ll need BookBub friends, and the extremely generous ones can post your reviews there too. Okay enough pimping my new location. Here is my BookBub Link. I’m open to any tips you guys have about finding my way around there.

New topic. Rosie’s Book Review Team has been extremely kind to me over the years. These wonderful ladies take a chance on my books and post honest reviews. I’m thrilled that those reviews have all been favorable.

If you’re an author, you need to know about this group. What better way to check out their site than to check out the five-star review Robbie Cheadle gave to The Yak Guy Project. I’ll be monitoring the comments and hope to see you there. Feel free to share the post on your various social media accounts.

Here is the link” Rosie’s Book Review Team.

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Lucked into some writing time

One of the odd circumstances about being broke is it provides more writing time. We like to go out on the weekends, or even just go to the farmer’s market, but have cut most of that out lately. After I called my parents, we had our usual Sunday breakfast, played ball with the dogs, and time was on my side.

My pirates picked up a new crew member, avoided a serious monster, but encountered another one that should not be taken for granted. I debated sharing him here, but I’m going to go ahead, because I’m happy with how he turned out. I’ve never heard of anything like him before.

Writing pirates brings its own challenges, beyond having never sailed in my life. Some tropes are required to make it piraty. Others take on the theme of seen it all before. As an example, there are no giant squid, krakens, or magic swords in my story. I’m trying to be unique here where I can.

My little monster is a riff on the hermit crab. Only imagine something more like a giant conch shell. Inside this shell is a kind of sea dragon. I modeled him after a Chinese dragon, but gave him an eel-like tail. He has a scary breath weapon too. I won’t mention any more, but I thought he was pretty cool for something about three feet long. I may change him up a bit on the editing pass, but I really like him.

For those of you keeping score I’m at 90,600 words today. That’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 2600 words. That’s unheard of for a Sunday around here.

In other news we found this in our flower beds. Talk about monsters.

I didn’t put anything in the image for scale, but he’s about 2.5 inches long. He has the look of a borer. Last time one of these showed up, they killed my apricot tree. At least he was in the front yard away from my peach tree.

Keep away from my peach tree, dudes!

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Fair enough, I’ll take it

The dogs drove me nuts last night. I pulled some light clothes on and went to sleep on the couch. Something about scratchy Frankie paws on my neck, and about 60 pounds of Otto on my leg wasn’t working for me.

Old What’s Her Face got me up when she went to work at 3:00 AM. She suggested I try again, since she wouldn’t be in the bed at the same time. I was in a pouty mood and intended to just get up and get started, but I gave it the old college try.

I still had to nudge Otto off of me, but managed to sleep until 6:00.

I spent the first two hours puttering on things. This is my normal process, but I dragged my feet, because I call my parents at 8:00.

After the phone call, I decided to give it a try. I wound up making some decent progress. It feels like 1500 to 1800 words. Not bad at all for a Sunday. This was a transition phase, and those are slower to write.

My pirates sailed to the uncharted island, and are now prepared to go ashore. I put some effort into approaching the island through a thick fog, and the dangers that might present. There was a shipwreck, some big lizards that we’ve seen before, and something I called a black shark from out of the blue.

I expect this island to take up some time in the story. There are several things that have to happen. I’m debating making it a place that is in constant fog, and letting my pirates see bits and pieces of it. To my mind, it keeps it kind of mysterious, and will let readers know this is a big world.

There are people here, and there will be monsters. I stopped when I did so I could daydream about some of it with more specificity than before.

For those who are keeping score, I’m at 81,600 words. I’d like to hit 100K, and it feels like I can. That’s long for me, but this is an epic fantasy. It may not be formal fantasy, it’s a kind of flintlock fantasy, but fantasy just the same.

I picked yet another basket of peaches this afternoon. Peach waffles tomorrow morning for sure.

I’m off tomorrow, but so is my wife. This usually isn’t the sign for a good writing day, but we’re going to have a date lunch out of the deal. We ought to be able to get in to Old Chicago and have pizza without the long lines and waits.

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Love Wednesday Flex Days

I dabbled early this morning. Ate some peaches, checked some social media. Then I reread my last chapter. Turns out there were some ‘its’ and ‘they’re’ errors to fix. Not to fear, these are on my word search before I ship it out to beta readers.

It was a weird writing day. I wrote a bit, did other things, wrote a bit more. It still came out to around 3000 words. This is a simple chore for the pirates, but there are some game changing things going on. Most of this will come in the form of news they haven’t received yet.

I just need to figure out what that is… A war is either starting or about to start. Things aren’t going to be as simple as sailing about and accomplishing goals. There is a new threat on the seas. The enemy has stripped their ships so they can refit the guns for land war. This turned out kind of handy, but there comes a time when the ships will be refitted.

My captain revealed some philosophy about warfare that he learned from his father. This turned into a fair bit of dialog with his best friend.

I did not force the readers to live through the monster encounter, but let the root monsters relay it instead. Old Hogar, the monster turned out to be a bear. I’m kind of happy with the back and forth about his size. The description of ‘about as tall as you are at the shoulder… if you were sitting atop a horse,’ came out well. I actually recycled it from one of my trunk novels.

Bears don’t actually get that big, but in fantasy they do.

Note to self: Probably need an excerpt of a root monster story for promotion purposes.

My outline is fast disappearing. I’m down to one major stop, some minor events, and a big finale. Then I have to concoct a denouement of some kind.

I only stopped because I need time to think about a meeting they’re going to with a semi-friendly military man. They’re all on the same side, but pirates aren’t generally the type you make allegiances with.

Thinking through this section will only make it better. I can come up with some minor tension that will still let the big events happen.

78,771 words and counting… or was that the number of peaches I ate this week?

Back to work tomorrow. That will give me four commutes with my Muse to work things out.

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Sunday, better than expected

I never expect to get anything done on Sundays. Even when my wife is working, I have other projects that get in the way. The first one is calling my parents.

Every Sunday since I moved to Idaho, I call my parents. There are times, like camping, where I have no signal, but it’s a regular thing. We take about an hour, and I wouldn’t trade it for a few more words on paper.

I goofed off a bit this morning before calling them. When we finished, I decided to take a look at my WIP.

I want the pirates to take a couple more ships, then sail to the pirate island of Lagarto to cash in. (Lagarto, because Tortuga was already taken.)

At this point in the story, I don’t want to detail the sea battles any more than I have to. Readers have already experienced that, and I don’t want to make it repetitive. (Other than the big one at the end.)

I briefed on the idea that they captured a ship. Then one of those magical things happened that can only happen while you’re drafting a story. It caused me to deviate from the outline, but all the same things will happen, they just won’t happen on Lagarto.

See this ship carried a bunch of raw materials for the looming war. I’m trying to avoid them capturing treasure ships and the like. They know who wants the war, and who they want it against. They decided to sell the loot to the underdogs in the war.

This includes some surplus cannon they stole in a previous stop. This ought to make them pretty popular in this port.

I can’t have this be an easy stop, because that doesn’t make for good fiction. Lagarto would have been one of those places, because they are pirates going to a pirate stronghold. However, as pirates sailing into a more standard country it won’t be that easy.

I concocted a scheme, whereby, they will have to go ashore and find some smugglers. The smugglers can contact the authorities and make the arrangements. This is not unrealistic, because privateers were an actual thing. These were pirates who operated on behalf of a king somewhere.

Then I concocted a monster to deal with while sneaking about the moors and bogs. It is a fantasy after all. I didn’t write that section yet, but may just have the root monsters relay the story.

The root monsters are becoming the keepers of the oral history of this ship. I even let them tell one of their stories using a desiccated fish head as a puppet. He gave it dialog and everything, while moving it’s jaws open and closed. Their stories are absurd, but have a grain of truth to them. They’re kind of tribal in nature.

I love it when something like that happens in a draft. The world is detailed enough, and the setting leads to things that just work better.

For those keeping score, I managed about 2500 words today. Sundays are usually about 200 editing based words.

Back to the office tomorrow, but Old What’s Her Face and I picked a couple of baskets of fresh peaches to share with our co-workers. From here on out it’s probably going to be Shaq on Shark Week, some supper, and a beer.

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