Chipping away at things

So far, I managed to make edits to a chapter of Lanternfish. This is the one my critique partners had recently. Good suggestions this time, and they improved the story quite a bit.

I got the next chapter ready for submission, then sent it off. They only have about a half-chapter left after that. I may add my back material and let them look at it, too.

The next Hat story has been languishing while I finished Lanternfish. I decided to read every single word of it this morning. Never added any new words, but it’s still progress. When I’m ready to write next time, I’ll be up to date.

It rained like crazy this morning. We have ducks swimming above the lawn in the park next door. That’s a lot of water. It’s also giving my Asian Pear tree fits. Fire blight spreads this way, and it has a touch of it. It kills whole trees, but this variety is pretty resistant.

Between projects, I decided to monkey with one of my old cowboy hats. This started life as a custom beaver blend hat. I was always disappointed in it, because it wasn’t quite what I expected. The crown was about 30 degrees crooked, and I had to reshape that myself. It was supposed to be a nice light brown, but arrived in a pumpkin color.

I’ve turned this hat into my lab rat over the years. Recently, I’ve been surfing the web looking for ways to artificially weather hats. They just seem to look better after they break in a little. Out comes my lab rat hat for a bit of experimentation.

I used the tea kettle to steam the crap out of the brim, then used an old round extension cord as a mold to put a kettle roll around it. It looks pretty darned good.

For my next amazing stunt, I used thick instant coffee in a spray bottle to darken it up. This one didn’t work as well as the Internet sold it. It knocked the pumpkin color out, and it’s kind of a buckskin now. (Not horrible) My question is whether it will remain color-fast. Meaning when it rains am I going to have cold coffee running down my neck?

I also spent a couple of bucks on something called fullers earth. This can be used to add some stains for artificial wear and tear. I haven’t tried this, yet. I’ll do it in conjunction with some salt water and olive oil so the colored earth will stick. My attempt will involve lightly using a soda straw to blow the color on in some key places, like the pinch point of the crown. Maybe where I normally handle the brim, etc.

Fiddling around with hats probably doesn’t sound as much fun as writing about root monsters and pirates, but it gives me something to do. Who knows, maybe this hat will be something worth wearing on a camping trip one day.

I still need to go through my short story one more time, but I have a few weeks yet. If there’s any time after I call my parents tomorrow, I will probably tackle a fresh new chapter of the next Hat story.

Hope all of you are having good weekends whatever you’re up to.

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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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Review for Viral Blues by C S Boyack #HumourousDarkComedy @virgilante

Viral Blues get’s some love today. Go visit and check it out. Jaye and Anita are super supporters of the writing community, and prolific authors. You might find your next favorite blog or new read while you’re there.

Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie ~ Authors

Someone knows about the hat. The creature from another dimension that helps Lizzie fight against the creatures of darkness.
They are summoned to a cryptic meeting with a secret society, where they meet other people with enhanced skills. It turns out someone, or something, has been tampering with the world’s vaccine supply. The goal doesn’t appear to be political or financial, but biblical pestilence.
Can this group of loners come together in time to make a difference when even the proper authorities are obstacles?
Check out Viral Blues, for your dose of paranormal adventure, with a strong sample of dark humor. And in recent superhero style, don’t miss the secret last chapter after the back material.

Our Review

I wasn’t sure about the premise for Viral Blues, considering the state of the planet right now. I thought it might be just a little too close for comfort, but the cast…

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Not tons going on

It’s rare that I get to this point, but the title says it all. Work this week was kind of a disaster, and I’m not excited about the future of some things right now. I won’t say more, but I need to get in another six years or so before I can retire. Craig will play nice. Craig will do what he must.

I didn’t write anything, but still fiddled with the writing business. I sent out a submission for critique on Lanternfish. I also added some personal information to the end of my short story. No idea whether the publisher wants that, but if I don’t send it, I could be shooting myself in the foot.

I still need to read the short one more time, and may do that tomorrow. Mrs. Molony is still hanging around, but since this is my short weekend, I decided to bag it for now. Getting Lanternfish out is my main priority. The critiques are bringing me closer to that goal. I’m a little concerned about having Mrs. Molony ready in time for Halloween.

My artist is busy with Lanternfish projects, so I won’t swamp him with the Mrs. Molony stuff until that’s finished. I have a cover in mind and some fun Lisa ideas to support the story.

I touched up and scheduled my next Story Empire post. That will show up at the end of next week. I really enjoy posting over there, but need another solid idea. My stronger suit is characters, so I should focus on that again. Trying to come up with something for my July posts. Maybe another Expansion Pack or two.

I also started another pin-board on Pinterest. This one is dedicated to magical items and mad science stuff. I like to have reference points when I write and have found them quite helpful. They’re open to anyone, so if they might help you, feel free to help yourselves.

I spent some time finishing Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on Netflix. I heard it was going away, and I’ve seen the early episodes a couple of times over the years. It kind of dragged in the middle, but finished pretty well. It gave me a cool new magical idea, so I made some quick notes before I forgot it. Who knows if I’ll ever use it, but it’s down in one of my apps if the occasion should come along. All in all, I’m glad I stuck with it. I may have caught the first parts on PBS years ago, but never saw the end until this weekend.

I’d like to find something else to watch on either Netflix or Disney+. Something speculative in nature. In another week or so, Disney+ has one that looks fun called Artemis Fowl. Any recommendations until then? Leave them in the comments.

I’ve made an executive decision to stop drafting new material after Mrs. Molony gets published. My brain needs a break for a while. (Three publications per year, two years in a row.) I’ll work on some kind of promo, but have no idea what that will look like. I’m also going to turn my attention to my storyboards. I’d love to produce another stand alone title, but I promised a Lanternfish trilogy. This means when I start back up, Lanternfish III has to be a priority. A more detailed storyboard will help with that.

Hope all of you are having a good weekend. We went from sunny and about about 95 degrees to raining and 70 degrees today. When one extreme front meets another, at least we didn’t get the gigantic winds. We don’t seem to get tornados out west, so that isn’t a worry.

Talk to me people. I’m trying to avoid all the negativity in the world right now. What’s fun on television? What kind of character tips would you like to see at Story Empire? How’s the weather where you are?

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Poking my head above ground

It’s about 10:00 a.m. as I start this post. I just finished the draft of HMS Lanternfish. It’s one hell-of-a-lot bigger than I wanted it to be, but it’s all good stuff.

This is where I start contemplating the old phrase, “Kill your darlings.” It’s an important concept in fiction. Today isn’t the day for that. Today is the day to savor the moment and not dive into something I’m not ready for.

One of the things that occurs to me right now is that every stop the ship made in this adventure involves something important. Every stop does something to advance the story in one way or another. If I start eliminating chapters, characters, or scenes, the story will lose something. If I eliminate some of the monsters and such, it will change the world Lanternfish is set in.

Honestly, in science fiction or fantasy, 120K word volumes are common enough. I didn’t hit that watermark, but I’m not far off.

Only a few of you will know what I’m talking about here, but you can get it from context. If I eliminate Fēngbào, the bringer of storms, or the Omcrom, the story will lose something. Besides, I have a cool Lisa Burton poster on order that involves Lisa vs the Omcrom.

The critique and editing phases always tend to reduce words to a degree, so the count will go down in a small way.

I might eliminate some characters, but who? There are some that were barely used in this volume, but will have a bigger role to play in the final book.

This is why I’m not doing it today. If I send a chapter per week to my crit group, it will take weeks for them to see the end. I have some specific work to do after that, then I always read from start to finish one more time. At this pace, I’ll be lucky to have it out by August.

Somewhere in there, I need to finish The Ballad of Mrs. Molony, too. That ought to clear my head for the Lanternfish read. My hope now is to have Lanternfish out in time that it doesn’t interfere with releasing Mrs. Molony for the Halloween season.

I need to be content today. Show a bit of patience, then turn my attention to the critiques I received over the weekend. I also have a submission to mark up for a partner. Back to the regular grind, tomorrow.

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The weekend warrior

I work during the week, so I have to get my word count on my days off. I’m blessed to have a flex schedule that provides me with an extra day off each week, but it moves around. Sometimes my word counts seem high when I write about them, but if you spread it over a whole week they aren’t any more extraordinary than anyone else.

Today was a slow start for me. I slept in, spent some time for social media, and wasn’t generally feeling it. I also wanted to enjoy my coffee and Old What’s Her Face is off today. I decided to wait until she took the dogs for her coffee, then play ball with them.

It was about 9:00 before I got started. This is the middle volume of a trilogy, so my ending needs to have a complete disaster, while preserving that glimmer of hope they can deal with in the final volume. Yeah, it’s kind of formulaic and I own that. If it works, it works.

My writing turned out to be about a chapter and a half of solid action, and I slightly “told” small bits of it to keep the burner on high for the whole thing. If you think about a city being invaded by an enemy, you need to skip some of the running and hiding and stay with the action. I also included multiple points of view, because it’s a geographically large event.

Even after all that, I still haven’t finished the story. I need to write what is called a sequel to deal with all the things that happened. Staci Troilo is writing an excellent series about that process over at Story Empire.

The crew is in another new location right now. A bit of world building fits in with the flavor of the story. If I’m good, I’ll have one of those inspirational speeches that can lead us into the final volume. I know what remains to include in the story, and where it winds up, but I’m still trying to get there. I’m relatively certain I’ll finish it before I go back to work on Tuesday.

My short story critiques are all back, so I have to deal with those, too. This story needs some work, but it exists and that’s the hard part. Tweaks and repairs aren’t so difficult, and it is a short story.

I’m pretty happy with this Lanternfish tale, but Sundays are hard to get much done. I have other things I regularly do on Sundays. That might be the best day to deal with my short story. Monday will provide a great opportunity to wrap up HMS Lanternfish.

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Case Study: The Mandalorian

I have the wheel over at Story Empire today. It’s a case study that makes examples of some good writing techniques. Pull on your Wookie slippers, grab your Baby Yoda plush toy, and join me for a bit of pop culture with tips for your fiction.

Story Empire

Hi gang! Craig here with you today. Every once in a while I like to pick something apart for the sake of a writing study. I always use film because more people are likely to have seen what I’m discussing.

I’ve never done this with a television series before, so we’ll see how it goes because there is no end in sight. I was feeling bad during lockdown, because I hadn’t binge watched anything, so I rewatched The Mandalorian. If this post is going to spoil something for you, stop here.

This series is eight episodes long, so far. That means every episode is 12.5% of the total. Keep this in mind as we go along.

There are two immediate lessons that come to mind for authors. First, don’t drown the audience in back story. Second, hold some things back.

We don’t follow Mando from childhood and learn all about…

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Missed it by thiiiis much

I hit it hard this weekend. I was so close to finishing H.M.S. Lanternfish I could taste it. Needless to say from the title, I never made it. I blame Rusty, but let’s concentrate on the positives.

I just received critiques back on one chapter, but have about three more written. I also received cover art, and followed this up with ordering the first Lisa Burton promotional poster.

My short story is in the can, but I need to pass over it one more time, then get some other eyes to check it out. I already checked with them, and they’re on board. I’ll probably send it out PDQ. I still need to figure out a title.

Inside Lanternfish, I have a lot going on in these closing chapters. There’s a bit of intrigue and some crazy things, too. I’m going to end it with a lot of daring do, and kind of a disaster at the same time. This is going to be a challenge to pull off, and maybe it’s good that I ran out of time. It might be best to tackle this when I’m fresh so the balance comes out well.

Remember when I said the middle volume of a trilogy is usually the shortest one? Yeah, I was wrong. This one is going to be every bit as long as the first, and may exceed it to a small degree.

All combined, I hit about 9700 words over the four days. That’s nothing to cry about. I’m down to counting weeks before I can send it to my formatter and think about publishing. Honestly, I’m probably about six or seven weeks out. That’s mid-July sometime.

That timetable will depend on me, my mentors and helpers, and Sean Harrington with the promotional posters. It may seem absurd, but I’m already concerned about my ability to have The Ballad of Mrs. Molony available for the Halloween season.

I think I’ll make it all work, and while Lanternfish is aging, I can add words to Mrs. Molony. I need to avoid taking on any more projects and it should be fine.

It’s fun to lament the completion of the draft, but honestly I couldn’t be happier. Even though I lost some time on Saturday and Sunday, I wouldn’t trade a visit with my daughter for a few more words.

Hope all of you had a great weekend whatever you were doing.

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And then Rusty showed up

I already posted about my 3500 words on Friday. I’m on the downhill slide of Lanternfish, and it’s getting fun to move toward the big event that ends book two.

Old What’s Her Face has to work all four days I’m off, so getting to the conclusion is a real possibility. I added 2500 more words on Saturday morning. This included the creation of another new creature called a snubhorn, who is basically a beast of burden.

I needed to think the next bit through, and turned to my short story. Normally, I would jump to Mrs. Molony, but the short story has a deadline. I wound up finishing it, but it needs a little something. It’s going to be a bit short for the desired word count, but I don’t want to lengthen it only for that.

Then Rusty showed up. My daughter decided to drop in for a visit, but she brought Rusty with her. This is the leftover from a litter of Rottweiler puppies her roommate had bred. Since nobody wanted him, she decided to keep him.

I’m here to liven up your life.

I love seeing my daughter, but Rusty is a handful. He’s a perpetual motion machine, and licks everything. As he walks he licks the couch, the footstool, the chair, my shoe, the wall, whatever is within reach. It’s cute, but weird. He also get’s Frankie pretty fired up, to the point of angry sometimes.

He’s also gangly. He slid across the dining room floor, into the kitchen with all four paws in the air. He impacted the pantry doors and I had to put them back on track.

I worry, because he’s an intact male Rottweiler. Otto is also intact, and I would like to see Rusty start staying in Sun Valley when our daughter visits. He’s twice as big as he was when he came in April, and while he’s cute, Otto doesn’t need that shit. I’ve been around a lot of dogs, and Rusty is going to be huge when he grows up.

My daughter took him to town for a few hours this morning, and I added another 1500 words to Lanternfish. It isn’t a lot, but it’s better than nothing. It’s important stuff, too, so that helps. Then she came home and gave me a haircut.

As I’m writing this, Old What’s Her Face took our daughter to the store. There was some talk about buying something for dinner, so I have a hunch Rusty will impact my Monday writing plans, too.

All told, there isn’t a downside. I get to visit with my daughter, got a haircut, and honestly get a kick out of this gigantic weird puppy. I just wouldn’t want a steady diet of him.

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Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #Fantasy #Paranormal – Viral Blues by C.S. Boyack

Viral Blues gets some attention over at Sally Cronin’s place today. It’s nice to see the dog getting some attention in all of this. He had a pivotal scene in the story, even if he isn’t one of the main characters. You’ll have to visit Sally’s place to check it out.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Delighted to share my review for author Viral Blues (The Hat Book 2)by C.S. Boyack

About the book

Someone knows about the hat. The creature from another dimension that helps Lizzie fight against the creatures of darkness.

They are summoned to a cryptic meeting with a secret society, where they meet other people with enhanced skills. It turns out someone, or something, has been tampering with the world’s vaccine supply. The goal doesn’t appear to be political or financial, but biblical pestilence.

Can this group of loners come together in time to make a difference when even the proper authorities are obstacles?

Check out Viral Blues, for your dose of paranormal adventure, with a strong sample of dark humor. And in recent superhero style, don’t miss the secret last chapter after the back material.

My review for Viral Blues

Having read and enjoyed The Hat, I was looking forward…

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