Finally!!!

Today wound up being a good writing day. Otto got me up around six this morning. I took the time for breakfast, feeding the dogs, surfing my social media. My typical morning.

I read back through what I wrote the other day, then forged ahead. My MO is to rush forward and get to the action. My better stories come across when I take my time. Part of my rush is why I come up with short word counts. Having a large cast really helps on these, too.

Part of me worries about making the intro boring, but I don’t think that’s the case here. I threw in a few fun things, you know a killing and dumping of the body, a man hunt by the root monsters, cracking open a tomb, that kind of thing.

Now that we’re underway, they sailed right into a fight. Their enemies were watching for them to leave the secure port, and sprung a trap. (It didn’t work out well for them.) It feels good to be back at sea with these guys.

Be right back… HMS Lanternfish is at 14,600 words now. It’s a nice start. I lament losing all that time, and tomorrow more than most, but Wednesday is looking good for moving ahead even more.

Tomorrow, Old What’s Her Face is off, so I’m going to the dump with my peach branches. There may be a few more errands in store and that’s okay. The day is pretty much shot anyway.

About a month ago, we decided to plant a zucchini in one of our old pots from the porch. Today, I cut these.

I’m sure we’ll be drowning in zucchini at some point, but it’s kind of fun. I like the idea of not giving up any of our yard and using a pot.

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The day I gave completely up

This may sound kind of spoiled to a few of you, but it’s a slice of the author life. My prime writing time has always been mornings. This applies to all endeavors in life. If you want me at my best, catch me early. This works at the paycheck job and everywhere else.

My tree trimming insists on getting done in the morning. This is a matter of necessity, because of the heat. You can see this shaping up to be a struggle.

I got up early and tackled HMS Lanternfish. It’s now over 11,000 words and growing. Today was never going to be a super productive one, because I talk to my parents every Sunday. After that, I tackled the tree… again.

With my brand new blade on the Sawsall, I sallied forth. Thirty minutes later, I’d managed to cut one branch about the size of a half-dollar. What the hell! My goal was to chunk these up into manageable sizes, removing weight until I reached the break. This way the final cut wouldn’t cause more damage.

I gave up on plan A, and tackled the big cut. This thing was smoking before I finally managed the cut, and there is still one more to do. Some minor branches got broken in the big event, so I got out the ladder and a hand saw. It seemed to work faster than the damned electronic thing did. While I was up there, I salvaged some nice high fruit.

Old What’s Her Face came home from work and helped me load my truck. I was nearly there… until she said, “The dump is closed today. You can just do it tomorrow.” That’s when I lost it. I’ve given up my morning every single day of this vacation for this stupid project. Now I have to give up even more time to finish it.

She reminded me that she’s off Tuesday, which isn’t ideal for my productivity. I wanted to go through the roof, but resisted. Essentially, I lost Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. I don’t begrudge her a day off, it’s just the way things happen. I decided the damned residue could sit in my truck until Tuesday, and I’d haul it off then.

If you remember the heat, my garage smells like peach schnapps now, and I don’t care. I’ll deal with it Tuesday, but I’m going to do my thing – for me – tomorrow. (And I’m going to drink tonight. The hard stuff.)

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Small updates

I still have tool problems, but those are all solved tonight. This is my way of saying I’ll have to finish my tree pruning tomorrow. At least everything is in order now, and I should make short work of the remainder. Even have a fresh saw blade now.

I spent some serious time with the Lanternfish project. Beginnings are always tough, and this one is tougher because it’s the second book in a trilogy. In reality, it takes time to stock a ship and man her. In fiction, I could just glance off that and set sail. I think a better option for me is to merge some of this. It comes across a bit more realistically, but they’ll get moving in a better time frame.

To keep things interesting, there are some root monster antics. While the pirates are making ready, the monsters have some assignments to deal with. This is going to force me to tone them down for a spell later on. I believe the little guys are better in small doses. It’s the “leave ’em wanting more” theory in action.

As soon as we hit the open sea, I have a fantasy creature I’m going to weave in. This will also serve as a bit of foreshadowing, so bonus there. There is also going to be an enemy waiting for them, so I can get right to some adventure after taking time to get underway.

It came in at about 3500 words today. Since there were no new words yesterday, I’m behind on my target of 20,000 words during my vacation.

I also read that book I’ve been getting to. I gave The Scout: Dark Crossings, by D. L. Cross five stars. D. L. Cross is actually Staci Troilo. This is a short story that stands alone in her Invasion series. I’ve read the first novel too, and loved it.

My suggestion is to read The Scout. It only takes a half-hour or so, and I think you’ll like it. If you like it, there is a whole series in this setting. I’ll be reading the whole thing.

Tomorrow is the day I call my parents, so some of my morning will be dedicated to that. Pruning trees will fit in well with that timetable. I don’t know if I can check in with Lanternfish, but it could happen.

I always want more, but my task-list is getting checked off a bit here and there.

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How do you like your apocalypse?

I have a question for all of you. I have a storyboard going, and it’s been growing like crazy. It’s probably going to get bumped up on my list.

Right now it’s just a loose collection of index cards with cool ideas to use in the story. There is a plot, and a smidgen of character arc. I also have a Pinterest board that I’ve been saving visuals in.

The story is going to be post-apocalyptic fiction. As I dwell on my setting, I have a lot of ways to take this, so: How do you like your apocalypse?

The question is two-fold. There is a when factor as well as a why factor. I’ll take them in that order.

When?:

• During

• Right after

• Moderately after

• Generations after

There are advantages and disadvantages here. During gives you all the madness as an obstacle to deal with. That can also be a disadvantage, because maybe your plot doesn’t involve the zombie horde. I’ve also already published something that had a “far after” vibe to it, so that isn’t likely to happen again. (Ref: The Yak Guy Project.)

I’m leaning toward moderately after. The disaster is over, looting has already happened, but some gleaning of items is still possible. Any gangs of looters have long since shot each other. Doesn’t mean criminals aren’t around, but not the mob mentality of the initial disaster.

Still, the question is for you as I talk my way through this. Consider the timeframe in your suggestions.

Why?

• Disease

• Zombies

• War

• Pollution

• Asteroid impact

• Evolution

• Climate change

• Famine

• AI takeover

• Aliens

• Who cares?

I won’t break these down individually for the sake of space. Suffice it to say, while I love zombies, I’ve kind of walked that path. I’m leaning toward the “Who Cares” option and just plunking the story down in the leftover environment. Readers would probably get pissed if I didn’t glance off the cause in some fashion.

Again, the question is for you today. Consider why in your responses.

I have the whole concept set in swamp country. (Haven’t seen anyone do that yet.) I want to have some scrounging possible, but also bartering, and shops where the better scrounged goods can be purchased. I’m looking for a return to horse power, and I mean the kind with hooves. This probably eliminates robots and aliens from the mix.

I’ve already researched the possibility of naturalized species, invasive species, native species, and more. Alligators and rattlesnakes are a cinch for this tale. Add in the python problem, a few wild hogs, and it sounds like a great place to drop a story. Then there are the crazy weather disasters along the southern coast, and I have plans for some of that, too.

Back to the question of the day: How do you like your apocalypse?

In other news, I dabbled on my task list today. Trimmed the peach tree until the battery died on the Sawsall, finish it tomorrow. Bought the book I want to read, and worked my way through the formatting of Viral Blues. Sent an email detailing issues. I never cracked HMS Lanternfish, and I regret that. I kind of got sidetracked by this post.

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Make a plan, work the plan

This post poses a conundrum for me, because it could fit into Story Empire, too. It winds up here, because it’s partially about my vacation plans. This one is another stay-cation for me. I want to write and just get some down time.

I’ve gotten to a place in writing where I can get a lot done, and there are a few tricks involved. These take time to farm, but harvesting them really speeds things up. First, I have about six storyboards going at all times. This doesn’t leave me pondering what I might write next. This is a common problem among fiction writers. Think of this like a farm, because it’s a long term project. Some boards are complete, others are partially complete, and some are just a collection of loose notes on index cards. Whenever a decent idea hits me, I make an index card and add it to the appropriate board. (Or start a new one.) Today, when I finish one project, I can dive right into the next one.

Next is my Pinterest app. I don’t know too many authors who use Pinterest, because all of the focus is on promotion. I don’t tend to use it like that. I have character boards, setting boards, and more specific ones like Pirates, or The Hat. When I surf through them, I get a lot of inspiration for my stories. It’s nice to refer to when describing a visual aspect of a tale.

Third is my new concept of more than one story at a time. I’m learning that it’s possible, and super productive. My current theory is to make them very different stories. Character traits don’t seem to bleed over this way, and character arcs don’t get muddled because the stories are so different.

My vacation starts tomorrow, and won’t return me to the office until next Thursday. Now I need some kind of plan.

  • I need to cut down a significant portion of my peach tree. This isn’t productive on the writing front, but works well on the staying married front.
  • Hauling the tree residue away has to be part of this mix, and is a chore in itself.
  • I need to buy and read one book. This one is a short read, and ought to work well for me. Then there are reviews to post on multiple fronts, too. Copy and paste helps here.
  • HMS Lanternfish hasn’t even set sail yet. It’s time to stock her with pirates and supplies, then hit the open sea. I’d love to get 30,000 words down, but 20K might be more realistic.
  • I need to get some blog posts written for The Viral Blues. It will be release time before I know it, and I want to be ready. Might hit up some of my favorite hosts to check their availability during my break, too.
  • There is a loose plan for some group promo at Story Empire. I need to dedicate some thought to that, and see what kind of posts I might need.
  • I have the formatted manuscript for Viral Blues in hand. I need to check it on every program I have. Stories about Lizzie and the hat have a few silly graphics as part of the shtick. These can be a nightmare formatting wise. Again, I want to be ready. I won’t know for sure until I push it through Amazon’s machinery, but any errors I can identify now will make that part easier.
  • Blurb writing. (La la la. I can’t hear you.)

I’m probably leaving stuff out, but that’s how it goes sometimes. I’m hoping to take full advantage of the Halloween season for Viral Blues. I’m still waiting on a couple of Lisa Burton promo posters, and should have the last ones in time. This means the easy link for The Yak Guy Project will be replaced by one for Viral Blues. If you haven’t read Yak Guy, all you have to do is click that cover image in the sidebar. He’ll live forever on Amazon, but you’ll have to go looking for him.

I’m still considering a pre-release for Viral Blues. My results with these have been mixed. What is the current consensus with you guys? Do pre-release books gain your attention, or just annoy you?

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Expansion Pack: The Stakes Character

Hey, everyone, I’m up at Story Empire today. We’re discussing stakes in our stories, and the use of a stakes character to drive them home. Stop over and say hi.

Story Empire

Hi gang, Craig here again with another Expansion Pack. These are designed to enhance the series I wrote about The Hero’s Journey, also known as the Writing Monomyth.

It’s worth repeating that none of the Expansion Pack material is required for your stories. These are just as advertised. If you want to get a bit deeper into the optional stuff, you might find them helpful.

I think everyone understands the concept of stakes, but in fiction there has to be a risk of some kind. What might be lost? What might be gained? That kind of thing.

You can even use a recipe card to a degree: If hero doesn’t accomplish goal, blank will happen. There is a lot of room to play here, particularly in the goal area. Today we want to focus on the ________ will happen part.

You’ve read books, or seen films, where the…

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Running water, no hospital required

We did a few events around here yesterday. I dreaded changing out the kitchen faucet, and have done it one other time. Our old one started leaking inside the fixture and simply gave out on us.

Saturday found me outside squeezing peaches. They were about perfect, and I earmarked part of Sunday to pick a bunch of them. Oddly enough, Frankie woke up in the middle of the night and had to make a security patrol. I chocked it up to doggie strangeness and we went back to bed.

In the morning, I discovered the problem. The tree broke. I’ve seen this happen to other peaches, but never had this problem. I guess the wheel just went around for me. We decided to leave it as is while we tackled the sink first. (12 hours. I only needed 12 more hours.)

The nightmare part of the sink project was getting the old faucet off. It has a nut that needed to come off and it was waaaay up there between the basins of the sink. I tried about ten different tools, and none of them fit. The best I could manage was a pair of pliers, but that required me to twist like it was a bottle cap. I couldn’t use any leverage, which is the advantage of a wrench.

It failed. I sent Old What’s Her Face to search the toolbox. I have a roll of old open end/box end wrenches. This isn’t what they are for, but one fit, and the handle left room between the basins to move it about an eighth of an inch.

It took me about ten resets to move the nut one revolution. Keep in mind, this is inside the cabinet, on my back (Which I feared for) and at the limits of what my short arms could reach. It took a long time, but I prevailed. Once it was loose, it easily spun off then hit me in the head.

The new one was a piece of cake. My wife put the fitting together while I grabbed coffee. She crawled inside and put the mounting nuts on, which were designed to be finger twist tight. Whoever designed this one deserves an award of some kind.

After coffee, I connected all the water lines and installed the gun. This unit has one of those pull out hoses for squirting off dishes or filling pots. What do you think? No hospital required.

We took a break, then tackled the peach tree. We managed about three baskets of fruit from the broken part before giving up. It was 90 something degrees outside. There are a lot more peaches on other parts, and I hope they don’t decide to break off too. I won’t get another chance at them until Friday.

We’ve always picked a basket here and there, but I feel like I’m pressing my luck. Probably based upon what already happened. The poor old tree is in for a major trim, the kind you give with a chainsaw, now. I really like this tree, but if this is the end of it, so be it. No matter what I do, it’s going to be ugly, but it could fill back out next year.

My back is surprisingly okay today. My neck and shoulders are kind of stiff, but that’s easily overcome.

Time for a peach, possibly in a daiquiri.

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