A glorious writing day

This had to be the longest work week in history. It added to my back problems, because I had to spend the entire day yesterday in an uncomfortable chair to attend a Zoom meeting.

I doubted my ability to even get out of bed this morning, but I made it around 7:00. I think the Woodford Reserve helped last night, because I slept like a baby.

Frankie was a little shit most of the morning. She’s really smart and calculates things. She wanted Otto to play outside with her, but he’s figured out her nonsense. She spots an imaginary squirrel, then paws the door with urgency. She runs out all excited, but he watches from the doorway.

Now she’s added me to her game. It was cold, but I’d let her out enough times that I left the door open so she could come and go. She started coming to me in a lather. She stomps her front feet back and forth, makes a Chewbacca noise, then runs to the door… but the door is open.

I decided that maybe someone threw a ball over the fence or something and she wanted me to see it, so I stepped outside and played right into her evil plan. Otto always goes outside if I do. As soon as he stepped onto the patio, she jumped him. I was just a device to get Otto to go outside. I really wanted to write, but you’ve gotta stop and laugh at that.

The Lanternfish crew was in the wake of a large sea battle that introduced some new elements into the story. Today was about what’s known as a sequel. If you haven’t been reading Staci Troilo’s excellent series over at Story Empire, you’re missing out. Here’s a link to the first one.

Stories have a kind of ebb and flow that I’ve always thought of as waves. The crest of the wave is all cannons, fire, and action. The valley between waves is about recovery, regrouping, then forging ahead to the next crest. They’re more properly called Scenes and Sequels. I think the naming is unfortunate, and prefer my wave analogy.

The crew completed their primary mission as privateers. They delivered their goods to the Admiralty. From this point on, everything changes. It’s more dangerous, riskier, and I hope I can pull it off.

One of the weird things I love is an outfit upgrade, and I wrote two into this chapter. One involves passing Yoshiko off as a princess to Western minds. She is a princess, but it isn’t that big of a deal in the East. The hope is the Westerners will fall all over her.

The other involves General Serang. You guys remember Serang. She’s come a long way since her origin story, and her appearance in Voyage of the Lanternfish. Just to refresh your memory, here is Lisa Burton posing as Serang.

Lisa Burton

I really like her makeover, and as she steps to the dock ahead of her army, everything is different. The only things she kept are her weapon, and that rockin’ hat. Sadly, she just marched out of this story. At nearly 96,000 words, the final chapters are all about James and the Lanternfish crew. She has a big role to play in the final book of the trilogy.

Makeovers are a great way to announce a change has happened. There’s something new here. If you like superhero movies you’ll see them used all the time. Two characters, two visions, one of grace and loveliness, the other of power and strength.

Anyway, I’m pretty happy with it, but it may need some fine tuning. Today’s word count comes to about 3200. A very good kickoff to my four day weekend.

If you’d like to check out Serang, you can find her origin story or Voyage of the Lanternfish on my Amazon Page.

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Gotta write something…

It was a busy week at work. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it. When you combine that with my short weekend, I didn’t get a damned thing accomplished on the writing front.

Next week is looking like it’s going to be just as busy, but I have a three day weekend at the far end.

I managed to dabble a bit, but it doesn’t amount to anything I can see. I marked up some work for a critique partner. I’ve been sitting on my own critiques for a week and finally addressed those. Then I sent out another section, but I wrote that two weeks ago.

I also hacked out my next Story Empire post, but it needs some work. Beyond that, I added a few words to my Jason Fogg short story in the evenings, and that’s it. This stuff counts, and it has to be done, but it isn’t the same as one of my 3000 word writing sessions.

Old What’s Her Face and I ordered takeout, then watched whatever we could find on television. That’s kind of boring, too. I’ve decided that most takeout doesn’t travel well. Sweet and sour chicken is great at the restaurant, but becomes a big dough ball by the time it gets home. Anyplace we’ve gone that comes with fries tends to work out the same way.

When it comes to take it and bake it pizza, or a bucket of chicken, that stuff works well. Maybe it’s because they’ve had decades to perfect the product.

Don’t lose faith in me. I intend to have two more releases this year, and inclusion in an anthology. Some weekends are better than others.

Looking forward to next weekend and maybe I can move one of my stories ahead. Hope all of you are safe and well. Those of you who write, I hope you had a productive weekend.

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Searching for McDoogal #newbook

Let’s all welcome Mae Clair today. She’s one of my best author friends, and a co-founder over at Story Empire. Today she has a new book to tell us about, and it’s a short read. I love short books and it’s nice to see Mae dipping her toes in that water. I read it and gave it five stars.

***

Hi, Craig! Thanks for hosting me today for the release of my Amazon 90-minute short read, In Search of McDoogal. It’s great to have a new release, and a different one at that. As a mystery/suspense author with a bent for urban legends, many of my books carry a somber tone.

Not McDoogal. This is all light-hearted fun. The reader gets to tag along as two friends try to recover a missing painting before the artist returns to town.

Brady Conrad and Declan Fitzgerald met in high school. Now, a dozen years later, they both hold key positions at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Research. Declan is IMER’s Director, while Brady serves as an investigator. Much of the financial stability behind IMER comes from Declan’s grandfather, Bartholomew Winston Everett Fitzgerald, III. That’s a mouthful, right?

The senior Fitzgerald only gets a passing mention in McDoogal, but I have plans to explore his role in the future. I hope to continue “IMER” with a series of short reads and novellas. With that in mind, I even developed a logo for the institute. Check out the image on the left.

Down the road, if all goes well, it may show up on future book covers to designate subsequent tales in the series. And the fact that my institute is devoted to both terra firma and the briny deep, gives me lots of wiggle room to play. I wouldn’t be surprised if an urban legend even crept into institute study down the road. 😉

IMER comes up several times in McDoogal, but the gist of the story is all about that missing painting mentioned above. Brady has mistakenly sold it, and only has a set number of hours to recover it before his girlfriend—the artist—returns from an out of town trip. He doesn’t have much information to go on…the buyer’s name is Abe, he drives an orange pickup, and lives in a small town called Breakers Bay.

Road trip! And naturally, nothing goes smoothly . . .

***

BLURB:In search of something ugly…
All Brady Conrad wants to do is earn a few merit points with his artist girlfriend, so he volunteers to cover her gallery when she leaves town. What should be an easy day of sales goes belly up when he mistakenly sells a cherished painting.
With the clock ticking toward Vanessa’s return, Brady has less than a day to track McDoogal down. He coerces his friend Declan to tag along for moral support. How difficult can it be for an investigator and the director of a renowned institute to find a single painting in a town the size of a postage stamp?
Neither Brady nor Declan counted on a suspicious sheriff, rival baseball teams with a longstanding grudge, or a clueless kid trying to win his girlfriend with all the wrong gifts.
McDoogal is smack in the middle. But Brady’s biggest dilemma isn’t the disastrous hunt. It’s confessing to Vanessa her painting is the ugliest thing he’s ever seen.

***

I hope you’ll join in the fun of this road-trip-buddy-fic-comedy-of-errors. In Search of McDoogal falls into Amazon’s 90-minute short read category—perfect for an extended lunch break or quick read any time of the day or evening.
Thanks for helping me celebrate the release!
PURCHASE FROM AMAZON
Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:
Amazon| BookBub| Newsletter Sign-Up | Website | Blog| Twitter| Goodreads| All Social Media

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A long weekend

I took Friday as a vacation day, and Monday was my flex day. This was just what I needed, to be honest. It doesn’t mean I wasn’t productive, but I didn’t hit it full speed either.

Start with Friday. Old What’s Her Face had to work, so this was my writing day. I tried to hit it hard, because I didn’t expect a better opportunity. I wound up adding 4100 new words to Lanternfish.

I’ve been setting the stage for some of this for a few chapters now. I started to reveal the con job my crew is going to have to pull once they arrive in the war zone. I also have some seeds that haven’t sprouted yet and look forward to those chapters.

Then I sent Lanternfish into a hot welcome in the form of two Hollish warships. With their little fleet, only Lanternfish is capable of defending herself, unless there is an even older battle tactic that might still have some life in it.

I also finally introduced my ghost into the story. This is an old Japanese legend, and honestly, Japanese ghosts are scary as hell. This involves haunted items. I did a ton of research on them, then made my own up to fit the framework. The result was bloody and gruesome, and I’m well pleased with it.

A root monster earned a name (kind of), and they made a mistake involving a golden phallus. Have to keep some of the humor going here.

My wife was off Saturday and Sunday. We’re doing our best to stay home, and did small things around the house. I pruned my Asian pear a bit, and have more to go. I continued with thinning its fruit. I should have sprayed it for coddling moth, but haven’t done that yet.

We turned on Disney+ and watched the new Star Wars movie. We went to it in the theater, but now that it’s that simple we decided to watch it again.

I dabbled with other writing projects, adding a few words to my short story, and a few more to Lanternfish. I’m debating parking Lizzie and the Hat now, until one of those gets finished. This is always a possibility, and it feels like time.

I had one goal for today, and that was to send a chapter of Lanternfish to my critique group. My iPad seems to have a haunting of its own today. When I selected the chapter, it froze up and wouldn’t let me do anything. I closed the app, and that will sometimes break the strangle hold. Not this time. It decided to arbitrarily delete the last two chapters I’d written.

Rather than throwing the stupid thing against the wall. I put it down and made a pot of coffee. About once a year, Old What’s Her Face buys me a can of chickory as a treat, and I used it. This gave me time to think. Apple just had an update and that could be part of my problem. Doesn’t solve anything, but it came to me in the kitchen.

Pages gives me options upon selection of a part of my work, copy/cut/ delete. Maybe it cut the section and was still on the clipboard. I could simply paste it back… Big nope. It had been deleted.

As a last feeble effort I tried the undo button. It restored everything that I’d lost, and I was able to copy and paste it for my critique group. It’s a miracle that I didn’t reboot the whole thing, which would have cleared the undo button.

Today was a possible writing day, too. I continued, but after my adventure, didn’t accomplish much. If you add on the dabbling with the short story and today, my whole weekend probably landed at about 5000 words. Good progress any way you slice it.

Tomorrow is working from home, and Wednesday I get my turn in the office. I have enough work for one day, but really need to go in for more files and such.

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Character Archetypes: The Shadow

This is my conclusion on the eight Character Archetypes over at Story Empire. If you missed any of them, and they might help you, I even give a tiny tutorial of the search feature at the end of the post.

Story Empire

They say all good things must come to an end, and here we are at #8 of the Character Archetypes. This series is (was, small tear here) a breakdown of the main Character Archetypes of basic story structure.

Our character today is a fun one, but I find them difficult to write. He’s known as The Shadow. (Dun, dun, DUNNNN!)

This is almost always your antagonist, but there’s a lot more that goes into him than simply making him thwart the hero at every turn. He’s called the shadow for a reason. He is a reflection of the weaknesses and darker parts of the hero himself. This makes the mission of your hero much more difficult.

One of the things to consider when crafting this character is that with a few different turns along the way, your hero could become the shadow himself. It’s likely that your hero might have…

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Book Promo – GRINDERS – by C.S. Boyack…

Chris Graham is hosting me today at his place. The reviews for Grinders are wonderful, and I’d appreciate anyone who would share from his site. Driving him a bit of traffic is the least I can do.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Thank you for having me back, Chris. It’s been a while and I’m happy to be here. I am showcasing my newest novel today, Grinders.

This is a cyberpunk story set in our near future. I went out of my way to make sure there were some good things and bad things about our future way of life. Unfortunately, there are already some similarities showing up. I know I feel like a cyber-shut-in during these troubling times.

I’ve been to enough Zoom meetings to last a lifetime, but in futuristic San Francisco some of that is prevalent. Imagine police officers giving courtroom testimony in a kind of virtual reality, or holographic doctors being projected from an ambulance.

The story has been getting some good reviews, but could use more attention. I’d like to share a few snippets from various sites:

No one has a wilder and more fertile imagination than…

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Back to writing

Today was my flex day, and I intended to make the pixels fly. It didn’t exactly work out that way, but I’ll take it.

I decided to bounce back to Lanternfish. I’m right on the cusp of starting the end game of this book, which is the second of a trilogy. There were just a few bits of scene setting that I needed to address.

Don’t laugh, but I found a picture on Pinterest that relates to one of my characters. This will make a good Lisa Burton promotional poster, so I decided to write it into the tale. I even found some particular shoes this character needed. You never can tell what will inspire me.

Doing this gave me the opportunity for a root monster adventure, and I’m pretty happy with how that turned out, too. The downside is I didn’t crack 2000 words. I had a whole day, but it seemed to take forever to get all this down.

I’m happy with what I produced, and that’s what counts. I had the chance to write more, but quality matters and I feel this is good stuff.

I also ordered a cover and three Lisa Burton Posters from Sean Harrington. Both Lanternfish and Mrs. Molony are at about the same stage of completion. I had to pick one, so I went with Lanternfish. I sent Sean the ideas I have for the cover, and think it will look pretty cool. Now I need to wait patiently. I also have some great ideas for Lisa’s art, but those will have to happen after the cover comes.

In other news, I haven’t been on Twitter for two weeks now. I was a daily user, but it takes so much time. I’ve been tweeting out everyone’s blog posts and will continue to do so. I had some support over there and failed to reciprocate. I also had some new followers, and need to do something about all of them.

I checked in today and did what I could. I promise to try harder in the future. Twitter has been mildly productive for me, so I need to keep up on it.

I also sent off a promotional post for Grinders. It should go live by the end of the week, and I’ll share it here. I think it’s a good post and hope it draws some attention.

Tomorrow is another work from home day for me, so that’s about all I can manage. I got permission to take some time off at the end of the week, and may use some leave. I have hundreds of hours of leave available, and should use a little of it. It caps eventually. In that case, maybe I can move one of my stories ahead. That short story needs some attention and I should focus there.

Should focus doesn’t absolutely mean I will, but it kind of sounds like a plan. Sort of???

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Where’s the beef?

This isn’t one of my normal word metric posts, so feel free to move on if that’s what you’re looking for. Tomorrow is my flex day and if I make any writing progress I’ll probably post about it.

Today, I have an independent thought to share with everyone. Might be a rant, but we’ll all find out together.

In America, COVID-19 is interfering with the food chain. We have dairymen pouring milk on the ground, produce going to landfills, and more. Some folks have tried to remedy this by donating to shelters, or allowing people to harvest what the restaurants would normally buy. Nothing’s perfect, but anything is better than total waste.

I’m not so sure a tutorial about how to make ricotta or something would help use some of that raw milk, but certain animals will eat it, too.

The one that frosts me is that we’re about to have shortages of meat because this damned virus is disrupting the operation of the slaughterhouses and such. I totally understand that it’s not the employees fault, and there will be some bobbles along the way.

This isn’t about suffering animals, and I won’t be weighing in on that. My concern is the damned waste that’s going on because they’re in the process of euthanizing perfectly good animals. These animals go to the dump.

I did some research and understand their problems. It takes about 45 days to get a chicken ready for market. It’s like an assembly line, and you have to harvest at the end or the next generation clogs everything up.

Eventually, I assume someone will stop producing at the lower level to alleviate this to a degree. We’re all doing the best we can, and nothing is going to be perfect.

I’m just going to note that even an older chicken makes good soup, and they can grind it into multiple products. Maybe some donations here will prevent some of them from just going to the landfill. (Also, pigs will eat them, and pet food is a possibility.)

When it comes to pigs and cattle, that’s where I have the biggest issue. If you keep an animal alive, it doesn’t need refrigeration. Both of these animals can be pastured. Their use is delayed, but they aren’t completely wasted.

I get that private pasture isn’t readily available, but we do have millions of acres of federal land. I’m not talking about taking away anyone’s grazing rights, but why couldn’t we issue some temporary allotments for putting these animals outside for a while. Sure, you might have to fence in the pigs, but that can’t be impossible. Lots of potential shepherds out of work right now, too.

The BLM and Forest Service might take a brief hit, but we’re talking about a couple of months. Not decades of overgrazing. There is plenty of land outside the allotments people are not depending upon for a living.

Aside from that, any sexually capable animals might have value to someone who wants to increase the size of their herd. (Not steers and such, I get that.)

Additionally, I can’t be the only person left in America who knows how to dispatch a large animal and is capable of butchering it myself. Give me one of those steers from the feedlot awaiting a trip to the slaughterhouse. You buy the paper and tape and I’ll share it with you.

I’m upset that we’re all going to have shortages, at the same time animals are being disposed of. I really hate waste. The shortages are inevitable. Sick workers can’t get the job done and I understand that. However, an animal can still be eaten after it’s due date as long as you keep it alive.

BLM and Natural Forest will heal, and a few months aren’t going to hurt anything. It’s not like I’m asking to put livestock out there for many years. After we get beyond this, remove the animals and leave the land to do its thing.

I just hate for the answer to, “Where’s the beef?” to become, “In the trench behind the barn.”

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Two updates in one week

It feels good to accomplish something on occasion. Old What’s Her Face just called as she got off work and put an end to my writing day.

This time, I didn’t have any work commitments, or other projects to address. It was a day for me to do whatever I want, and I chose writing.

I got up late, which felt awesome. Usually, Otto wants his breakfast by about 5:00, but he was feeling lazy, too. I fumbled a bit with what project to tackle. Sundays don’t give me a lot of time, but I can address the critiques I have for Lanternfish. That gives it some momentum this weekend. It isn’t much, but it counts.

Jason Fogg is to a place where I want to think about it for a while, and that left Lizzie and The Hat.

The book is called The Ballad of Mrs. Molony, but she hasn’t made an appearance for a while. This is because she’s going to get the big ending scene. Lizzie and the Pythons finished their gig at a country bar, and spotted the vampires they’re after. Things went downhill from there.

They took up a vigil trying to spot one passing pickup in an area that seemed like a good target. Stakeout work is boring, so I’m counting on characters to keep it interesting. It’s their style to bicker and pick about things, and there is plenty of that in this chapter.

Lizzie pissed off the clientele at the country bar, (Who knew cowboys wouldn’t appreciate Van Halen,) and I let the hat go on a supervised Internet shopping spree. He’s kind of an Internet junkie these days.

All told, it came to over 3300 words, my best day in a long time. I could have easily kept going, but my wife is on her way home. I’m going to reread an old short story of mine, because I can see a place for that character in the world of Lizzie and The Hat.

The story is called Night Bump Radio. It involves a character from Will O’ the Wisp, who grew up to host a late night call in show. It’s based loosely on the old Art Bell programs where people call in about bigfoot, aliens, ghosts, and all kinds of things that go bump in the night.

The loose idea is this becomes a point of worry when people start calling in about a mysterious character known on the streets as The Hat. Hey, you can’t shoot things up without a witness or two picking up on it. I can sort of introduce it here. Step it up a bit in the next book, then the one after that, I can have some real fun with it. It also gives me a tie to Patty Hall, from Wisp, if I want to include her down the road.

Not a lot planned for tomorrow. I’ll probably look at my critiques and make a few adjustments, then that will close out my weekend. Hope all of you are safe, well, and doing something fun this weekend.

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Life in the modern era

Things have been slow around here, but I don’t want you guys to forget about me. I wasn’t designed to work from home, but I’m doing it anyway.

There have been a lot of connectivity issues and delays, but I’m getting things done somehow. I was supposed to be in Savanna this week, but that got canceled. The conference went virtual, so I’ve been attending Zoom meetings like everyone else. It works, but doesn’t encourage a lot of interaction. Today is my flex day, but there was one meeting I wanted to sit in on late morning. This seems to be how it’s done right now.

I always get up early, so I had some writing time before I had to log in. I’ve been on a roll with Lanternfish, but I have samples out for critique. That made it easy enough to eliminate for today.

Nothing I do has a deadline, but I usually have a plan I want to stick with. I hope to get Lanternfish out this summer. You know I hate summer releases, but as book two of a trilogy, I don’t expect much from it until book three is released.

Then we have Lizzie and The Hat. Their current story is called The Ballad of Mrs. Molony. Again, no deadline, but I’d like to have it out for the Halloween season. These are short novels on purpose, and I already have 21K words. No pressure there.

That leaves the anthology story, featuring Jason Fogg. I managed a good 1500 words of it before I had to check in at the office. It’s a bit light for a flex day, but I feel good about it.

I’m writing this one without a storyboard, but at least I have a broad concept and some familiarity with the character. I even dreamed up a new way to take him out. I haven’t written it yet, but it seems there are a few ways to take Jason out. I froze him in his cloud form in an earlier story.

I was told to make this story 10K to 15K words and I’m off to a good start. I think they want it by mid-summer sometime, and if I chip away at it, I should make it.

After my Zoom meeting, I decided to thin Asian pears. This is easiest when they’re BB sized. I use a pair of scissors and go to town. I managed about 2/3 of the tree until my back said no more. I’ll probably prune it a bit, too. I don’t have to thin the branches I’m removing.

I don’t have a new picture, and hated to retire the cool frozen pond background, but it’s time. Winter is over. I’m recycling some bulldog brindle as a background for now. It makes a cool enough graphic.

As I type this, I’m in the process of acquiring some Hattori Hanzo steel in preparation of killing Bill. But first it’s time to get even with Lucy Liu. I think I’ll just bum out for the rest of the day

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