Tag Archives: con games

The win column

I called my parents this morning before doing anything else. Mom is headed out to put flowers on graves today.

After that, I decided to get my butt in gear and return to Lanternfish. The story is in a weird place right now, and it’s almost like I have a second middle slog.

I caused this by having the various characters scattered all over the continent. Each group had something to accomplish, and they’ve all done that now.

This poses a problem, because they all need to reconvene. I can’t just pop everyone into the end game. Serang and James both have large groups of people to move around. It’s a world at war, so a clear road just isn’t going to work.

At this time, readers will have seen land and sea battles in abundance. I’ve resorted to watching them from afar, then gathering intelligence to make the next moves.

I’m just about there. Serang is on the final leg of her journey. I added a tiny chapter about Diego Palumbo, but also sped it up somewhat.

James is idle, and still needs to account for the root monsters before he gets moving again. I can probably tackle that in the morning. Root monsters require a different mindset than writing cannonades and cavalry charges.

I need to figure out some kind of fantastical creature to weave into the scenery along the way. This is a somewhat fantasy story, and at this point root monsters are accepted and normal characters. It won’t have to be much, maybe some kind of wildlife.

It came to around 2700 words, so I’m calling it a good day. If I can do that tomorrow, I won’t lament taking yesterday off.

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Flex day productivity

My only goal for today involved Lanternfish. Okay, there were two. I got exposed to someone with Covid, and had to get another test. My results were negative, so that was a goal, too.

I picked up Lanternfish with Mule and Yoshiko trying to retrieve his ghostly knife, also known as the black spot. This turned into a somewhat adventurous romp, and Yoshiko stepped from behind her veil of complaint servitude to show some gumption. I kind of like the way that turned out.

After that, I returned to the Palumbos. Everything is turning to crap for the Hollish invaders now, and while nobody will ever figure it out, they played a role in all that. As the battle lines collapsed, they were tasked with an important role by the Hollish General Staff. No spoilers here, but it put them in an unusual circumstance.

They murdered someone along the way, so there was a smidgen of adventure involved. I have mixed feeling about this, because the dead guy was a huge threat and I could have milked that a bit more. Words were flowing and I didn’t want to stop for deep thought at that point. Sometimes you have to move the story ahead. I might rethink this during my remaining commutes this week.

Note to self: Probably need to come up with the next root monster adventure, too.

These were short chapters, but accomplished quite a bit. I find moving the pieces around this board to be challenging compared to other stories I’ve written. I’ve done the different story lines before ala Tarantino, but this one is more complex than my previous work. Everything has to come together at the right times and places. Characters have to get misplaced along the way. It’s just more complicated.

Having said that, I’m having a good time with it. It think that bodes well for readers of the trilogy.

Next up is Serang and her most important adventure yet. This proved the perfect place to stop for the day. Having the Palumbos fall into another con game, and drive away with the goods allowed me to calm things down from the big Lanternfish battle. It’s about time for some martial arts warfare and I hope I can make it huge and fascinating.

I try to post a few word metrics, but didn’t keep count this time. The draft is at 51,000 words. By going back to my last update and doing a bit of voodoo, it looks like my Sunday and Wednesday combined came to just over 5000 words. Most of that was today, so it was a great day.

Since I’m Covid-free, I’m going back to the office to finish my work week. Might address Serang over the coming weekend.

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Strange writing day

I wound up with a bachelor’s weekend again. This is when my wife traditionally goes to Nevada to visit her brother for the Super Bowl.

As per usual, I am watching the dogs and hanging out here. I really enjoy these weekends, because I can work on my projects without a lot of interruption. Or so, I thought.

I’ve been moping around lately about Lanternfish. This project has a lot of moving parts, but I’ve been through this before. I know that if I only make a few commitments, the pieces will start coming together like they should. That was my big goal for the weekend.

I tried to work on it, but the dogs weren’t having it. I’ve never seen them so needy, so I assume they’re missing Mom. They each needed up in my lap, one at a time. As soon as one was happy, the other one needed me. We chased the squirrel.

Two fat bulldogs acted like treeing hounds and they got the stupid thing cornered. Then they started coming to the door to get me to help. Since this is just my crabapple tree, all I have to do is walk out and the squirrel makes a run for it.

We repeated this action a couple of times, until I decided I wasn’t getting anything accomplished. Days when I can do what I want are kind of rare birds.

Ultimately, I sequestered myself in the room I used when I had to work from home. My goal was to start adding those little stitches that start to bring the Lanternfish cast back together.

Naturally, I did this by breaking them down even further. Diego Palumbo went on a field trip without his wife. He’s looking for things he can interpolate into predictions she can magically make for the Hollish army. This has worked well, so far, but now they need more. The ultimate goal was to place the old green signal lantern on the cliffs beside the sea. Readers of HMS Lanternfish will know this is how they communicated with the ship.

That’s where it all went a little crazy. Diego is not a hero in the traditional sense of the term. He’s a con man, and a coward, so when he ran into trouble, I had to handle it a bit differently. I also wound up adding to the cast, but I hope to minimize this new character.

The whole thing kind of baffled me, because my target points were simple enough, but when I ended today, I had 4000 new words.

Of the three different stories going on right now, the Palumbos are supposed to be the shorter ones. I liked the way it came out, and Diego wound up learning a lot more than he anticipated.

Next on my checklist is some actual warfare for James and Lanternfish. It’s time to start getting deep into the action. This will be followed by a more tranquil section for Serang and her army. She will make a major discovery in that chapter.

I’m off on Monday, so if I can get that far over the weekend it will be super indeed. To do that, I’ll have to resist jumping over to Lunar Boogie, so we’ll see how it goes.

Honestly, all new words count, so it really doesn’t matter which book they apply to.

I may even schedule an evening writing session. Depends upon how I’m feeling about it all. That’s more of the beauty of the rare bachelor weekend.

Wish me luck.

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Work Ethic and Scammers

Bear with me tonight, I'm free writing this as I think it up. Lately, in the real world, I've been coming across a lot of people who don't want to work for their money. The idea is one of, “You make the money, and I'll share it with you.”

This has gone on forever, but it's really getting prevalent today. I see people forming bogus franchises to teach someone how to get rich quick. They sell the franchises to suckers who are looking for a work-free way to make a fortune. The buyer gets the right to use the name and company logo. Many times there is a multi-level marketing concept behind it where the franchise guy gets a cut of everything the buyer earns. It becomes a kind of pyramid scheme.

Most of these businesses involve using a computer to scour the Internet for addresses and such. Then they sell “referrals” to actual business folks who have to work whatever field is involved. This means the consumer is getting a professional who is earning less. Consumers are working an angle too. Do you really want a discount professional working on your project? Discount brain surgery anyone?

Someone striking it rich doesn't actually happen very often. Many of the most successful people have a string of failures behind them. I remember the stories of Col. Sanders failing at all kinds of things before he tried marketing chicken. There is a famous statement about how many ways Edison learned not to invent a lightbulb. Edison and Sanders put their time in.

In the real world people put in their ten-thousand hours. Writers put down the million words to gain expertise. Would you respond to an Internet sweeper who promised to find you a literary agent, only to wind up with an agent with limited (or zero) experience working at a discount?

I saw a report about some newish hotel scams recently. One involves a phone call in the middle of the night. The hotel suffered a major computer malfunction and they have to collect everyone's credit card again. Except the hotel didn't really have a computer meltdown, and the caller isn't with the hotel.

Another one involves a wifi spot inside the hotel. There will be a sign with name and password for guests, usually a paper sign on the bulletin board. Again, this one has nothing to do with the hotel, and someone is scouring the user's computers for personal info.

The last one involves something I would have fallen for myself. Someone slides pizza coupons under the hotel door. They have an actual franchise name and logo, including photographs of the franchise's product. Think Pizza Hut here. Glossy paper, same font, same photos — fake telephone number. Give them your credit card number, maybe the expiration date and code off the back. What's keeping that pizza??? There is no reason someone couldn't circulate these at your house either. Maybe they head out in the dark and shove them all in the Sunday paper.

Twitter is full of folks calling themselves SEO experts, marketing experts, and even lifestyle coaches. These might be services of value to some folks, but I can't believe these are all on the up-and-up. There are way too many of them.

The other thing that's bothering me lately is the bending of facts, or complete abcense of them, to make arguments. Now that I'm on Facebook, I see this every day. They are logical fallacies, but I don't know all the formal names of them.

It works something like this: Someone shoots up a public square; therefore, we should vote for X (or against X). They twist tragedy before we even have time to process it. This is cold blooded opportunism at its worst.

Another version involves someone posting a silly video or meme. One of the comments will certainly be, “Looks like a real X supporter.” Substitute the politician of your choice for X. I know these are supposed to be jokes, but there is a twist in them that renders the comment un-funny. There is a serious desire to engage in the character assassination of politician X.

From my point of view, support someone, don't support someone, but be honest about it. Stomping down politician X doesn't make politician Y look good by default. It's a logical fallacy, they might both be terrible. Maligning someone's supporters doesn't make the commenter look intelligent.

In a perfect world, I'd like to see a human experiment. I believe we can educate ourselves out of this situation and make a difference. I'd like to take one class of high school seniors per year, teach them a class about such things, and see how they fare vs. their classmates over time.

The class would include logic, rhetoric, facts, evidence, and responsibilities. I might add some budgeting and long term planning. I know it isn't common core stuff, but it might prove valuable to the students who took the class.

This was kind of a rant, and I apologize for that. Maybe someone will be saved from one of the hotel scams, and that makes it worthwhile. Maybe one person won't send their hard earned money to someone promising the moon without any qualifications.

Maybe an author will use one of these situations to ramp up the pressure in a story someday. That would be cool.

Enough ranting. I have a couple of emails I need to get to before bedtime. There are going to be some fun guests here the rest of this week, so stop back and tell them “hi.” Maybe check out their wares. It's easy to hit the tweet button and help them spread the word. Maybe one of them will do the same for you one day.

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