Tag Archives: doubt

A Doubt filled weekend

Doubt

Yesterday involved a bunch of problems, sponsored by WordPress and Apple.

Apple’s iOS had a bug that hit some users, but not others. It forces a symbol replacement for a capital I when you type. I googled how to fix it, and they suggested a kind of macro that tells the computer when you type “I” what you really mean for it to do is type friggin “I”. It didn’t work.

A different website promised a repair was coming soon from Apple, so I checked. The update was already available, and fixed everything.

The second issue came from WordPress. It seems they’ve driven away all the decent blogging apps, and I’ve been using the actual WordPress app. One of the good things about it was the way it handled pictures. That all changed.

I used to be able to size, move, and tag photos. Today that’s all limited. For instance, if I tell it to move the raven to the left, that’s no problem. However; now it will no longer allow me to type beside it. The image insists upon taking up the entire area. That’s why the photo is centered above on today’s post.

I used to have two options for tagging images, but today I only have one. I can schedule the post, then edit it inside WordPress, but it worked well two days ago.

The other thing it’s doing now is randomly changing the pitch of my type. All is well if I just keep going, but if I go back to make a correction, all the future words want to be in some kind of micro-text. I have to delete my last good letter, then retype from there to get it right.

None of the WordPress issues are major, but it worked fine a couple of days ago. They need to address this, and while they’re at it,would it be too much to ask if I wanted to actually center some text, and change the pitch of my letters inside the app? As an example, I will add a section break below this paragraph. I will have to left justify it, post it, then edit it inside the WordPress Admin function to make it look right.

***

I went to the writing cabin around nine o’clock this morning. I spent yesterday working through The Hat and some suggestions I received. It really is looking good right now.

I plucked the hat from my desk and dropped him on my head. He was configured as a grey fedora, his preferred look. I opened the window, and gestured outside to Doubt, the raven. “I don’t think we need you for this one.”

It was an odd feeling. I have doubts about all my stories, but this time I feel great about one.

The hat said, “Go catch mice or something. Craig and I got this covered.”

Doubt glared at us like we brought his daughter home late.

“Go on, buddy. We don’t need you. In fact, Craig and I are ready to publish,” the hat said.

“Well, not exactly. Lisa is still with Sean Harrington, and we need her promotional posters. We may not have those until the end of the year.”

“So, what are we supposed to work on today?”

“I received feedback on The Yak Guy Project from a dear friend. I thought we might work our way through that.”

“What’s that got to do with the old hat?”

“Nothing really. I thought you might like to read over my shoulder. Lisa isn’t here, and maybe you have some suggestions.”

“You’re probably smart to come to me. Besides, I wasn’t doin’ anything anyway.”

I turned on my computer, and sat up an iPad beside it for the redline copy of my book.

“So, that Internet has the corrections, and the other Internet has the actual book? Is that the deal?” The hat asked.

“They’re two different devices, but they work on the Internet.”

“That’s what I said.”

“It’s, well it’s like… Yeah, we can check the suggestions on one, and make any changes on the other one.”

“Sounds like a good plan.”

I scrolled down the redline to the first suggestion.

“Slow down. Still reading here,” the hat said.

“Sorry.” I pondered the first suggestion and looked across the room.

Doubt lowered his head into what I call his classic vulture pose. “Kaaaaw, ha, ha, ha.”

“Oh, shit! Why couldn’t you just leave while I felt good about The Hat”

“Kaaw.”

“Hey, Yak Guy is kind of a dork. I gotta tell you, Lizzie has her shit together a lot more than this guy,” the hat said.

“Yeah, they’re different stories. In The Hat, Lizzie is supposed to be a go-getter who needs a bit of direction–”

“Your’s truly.”

“Exactly. Yak Guy needs a major overhaul in his life. Where you are more of Lizzie’s partner, Yak Guy needs a mentor.”

“Man I feel sorry for that guy.”

“He’s a yak.”

“How can a yak be a mentor?”

“How can a hat be a partner?”

“Touché. I’ll just go with it.”

“Thank you.”

***

Between the evil glances and croaking of Doubt, and trying to explain everything to the hat, it was a long day. The book, The Hat, is nearly ready to go. I’m expecting to hear from one more reader, and need some artwork.

The Yak Guy Project keeps waffling from deleting it entirely, making it into a trunk novel, self publishing it, or submitting it to an actual publisher. I kind of need to narrow the distance between those bookends somehow. This weekend is in the books, so I don’t have to decide anything today. I need to get on with it though.

How about some covers. Everyone loves covers, right?

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The Editing Cabin???

Frankie did her pee pee dance about six o'clock this morning, so I rushed her outside. I fed her and Otto, then headed for the writing cabin.

The place is quiet and has been for some time. Doubt the raven isn't very good company, and I always feel like he's judging me about something. I fed Lisa's rabbit and flitted between projects.

I managed to assemble the next Lisa Burton Radio post, and contacted the author for the week after that. I did a lap through social media and email before putting my editing jacket on.

I managed four chapters, and it's amazing what you'll find when you put a project aside for a month or two. I never really put The Yak Guy aside for that long, but these are early chapters and I probably haven't looked at them for six months. I found a couple of sentences that didn't make a lick of sense, but they do now. I also found a word that was too modern for the setting. It was waterbag, which is what we used to carry on the survey trucks when I was a young man. I used the term waterskin throughout the book, and it's easy to see how I got it in there. It had to go, and I fixed it. Doubt glared at me as if I still didn't have it right.

I spent some time also reading four chapters of a book. My spare time is scarce, and it's either reading or something writing related. Today I decided to split my time between the two. That was until a rumble sounded across the forest and meadow.

I ran to the front porch and stared into the woods. Something distinctly red flashed between the trees.

Lisa Burton roared down the gravel road on her new/old motorcycle. She slid to a stop on the elevator at the end of the runway, then lowered everything into the basement.

I ran back inside to meet her at the top of the stairs when she came up. “It's good to have you home.”

“What's going on out here?”

“Just tending the animals and doing a bit of editing.”

“I can see that. How did you ever get that thing on anyway?”

“I don't know, just part of the magic at the writing cabin.”

“Did you manage to write something while I was away?”

“Not so much. I scratched out a Macabre Macaroni piece, but I don't know if I'll keep it. Maybe I should start calling it the editing cabin. There hasn't been much writing going on this year.”

“I'm sure there will be. Lorelei the Muse won't let you stagnate.”

“I'm sure. Looks like you bought yourself a new toy.”

“Oh yeah, isn't it pretty. I won enough money on the cruise ship to pay for it, and still have money left over. Wanna go for a ride?”

“Um, maybe later.”

“Okay, I'm going to unpack and visit my poor lonely Bunny.”

“Glad to have you back. I think your posters came out great this time.”

“They were nice, weren't they? I like my umpire one best. I looked serious and fierce in it.”

“You had a no nonsense look on your face, that's for sure. Um, Lisa?”

“What?”

“Turns out getting into my editing jacket is easier than getting out of it. Do you mind?”

“No problem, turn around and I'll untie your sleeves.”

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Working on my edits

I took a more leisurely approach getting to the writing cabin today. Puppies decided to wake up at 4:00 am, and they were hungry. After feeding and walking them, I went back to bed and all of them crawled in with me.

Bulldogs apparently don't have any concept of personal space. Otto was the best of the three, because he was happy to conk back out. After repeated attempts to keep tongues out of my nostrils, and noses out of my armpit, the puppies went back to sleep.

The writing cabin was a cold quiet place this morning. Lisa* is absent for a few weeks. She is hanging out with Sean Harrington and working on promotional posters for The Enhanced League, and The Yak Guy Project. I found detailed instructions for everything from making coffee to feeding her pet rabbit, Bunny.

I dragged my feet taking care of everything. Editing of any kind is not my favorite thing, and I knew what waited for me in my office.

He glared at me with inky black eyes. It was a look you might see at the end of your life, like when a great white shark bears down upon you. His black beak aimed my direction and followed me to my desk. I took a seat and opened the files I would need.

Doubt, the raven, hopped off his perch and glided to my desk. I paused, then opened the window in hopes he would leave for the day. He looked at me like he was disappointed at my childish antics.

I don't speak raven, but they make the damndest collection of noises. They aren't crows, and this one is from Mt. Olympus. He's more than an ordinary raven. He paced across the desk while waving his head from side to side in disapproval. “Jugaluggg, blork. Jugaluggg, blork.”

I knew what he meant. He thinks it's all crap. I massaged and tweaked my manuscript while he voiced his disapproval.

Enhanced League got a lot of volunteers for beta reading. I hoped for four, and got seven. I only hope Yak Guy will get half that many when the time comes. Everyone had something wonderful to offer. Commas were deleted, then added back, before being deleted once more.

My UK readers had a tough time with this one, and I expected that. Baseball is popular in North and South America, and in major parts of Asia. Not so much in the UK. I struggled with how to make it accessible to everyone, but had to make an executive decision. Professional ball players would not realistically discuss the basics of the game. They are veterans of the sport, and some things are understood so well they would never come up. This means, I've limited my audience for this book. It makes Doubt happy. He feeds off my worries and concerns.

One of them suggested that some baseball cards might help keep track of everything. It's an outstanding and creative idea. I just don't think I can commission the artwork to support a .99¢ book.

I managed to get through four of the reports before the real world called me back. I'll need another day to get through the rest, but that won't be the end. I will have to re-read it one more time before I can send it to the formatter.

All in all, I feel pretty good about it.

* Lisa Burton is my robotic personal assistant, and the spokesmodel for my writing career.

***

In reality, it looked a lot like this. IPad Pro with its split screen; one side for Enhanced League, the other side for email. This is because some readers sent notes in an email along with the attachment. My old iPad has all the beta read documents on it. I do it this way, because the pro won't allow me to use the split screen on the same program. I can't open my word processor twice. Truth be told, I really like this setup, and I'm glad I kept my old iPad for this reason.

I had my phone there too, but used it to snap this picture, so you can't see it. The other important device is a cup of chicory in a weak attempt to hang on to my vacation.

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Hello, Writing Cabin

I tromped into the writing cabin and caught Lisa unprepared.

“I thought you were reading and stuff. Let me just tidy up real fast.”

The office looked emaculate and I told her so. “What kind of mess can one robot girl make while I'm out? You don't even have to cook.”

“Dust, there's still dust even if I'm completely gone.”

“Suit yourself. I finished my backlog of projects, and decided to try a bit of writing today. You know, just to see if I remember how.”

Lisa broke into action, making coffee with one hand while she took out the Swiffer and went over the floor with the other one. She took a dust cloth and ran ahead of me to my writing desk.

The raven of Doubt glared at me from his perch. He bobbed up and down a few times in excitement.

“Not yet, dude. I'm not doing any editing today. It's time to move the Yak Guy ahead.” He knows The Enhanced League is ready to start editing, but I don't feel rushed to dive in yet.

I started by rereading my last few chapters. I made a small correction or two, and Doubt gave me the stink eye. Lisa showed up with coffee about the time I started writing.

I wrote one short chapter and it was kind of draining. It came in slightly over 3000 words. I don't know if it's because I hadn't written in a while, or because of the content. This chapter involved the end of the yak. He's been such a central character to the story it was hard to see him go.

“I'm really going to miss him,” Lisa said. “He's been at the cabin for a long time.”

“He has, and the next go round maybe we'll see the end of yak guy, Ted.”

“Then what?”

“Then, you probably have to pose for more posters and plan for a worldwide blog tour – or two.”

“That's always fun, then I'm going to use some vacation time.” She opened the window and let in some fresh air. Doubt took the opportunity to stretch his wings at the same time. She sighed as the yak crossed the meadow and headed for the snowy peaks. “He played a mean game of chess, you know.”

“Really, how did he move the pieces?”

“He told me the moves, and I moved them for him.”

“Kind of like he was playing against the computer then?”

“Not kind of, he was playing against me, my processors, and memory. He won more than a few too.”

“Maybe you can get him to come back for your radio show someday. Did you put his data in your Rolodex?”

Please, I'm completely electronic, you should know that by now, and yeah, I have his contact data.”

I checked email, and answered blog comments while she stared out the window.

“So what happens next?”

“Yak guy has to finish his journey. After that, I have a couple of novellas I want to try. That's how it will work out in a perfect world. They could be long short stories or short novels depending on the experiment.”

“What are we talking here? I might need to buy some new outfits for these stories.”

“One is a kind of paranormal superhero origin story.”

“Is that the one with all the hats?”

“Yes, ma'am.”

“So you'll want the paranormal office then.”

“Absolutely. The other one is a spin on the lifeboat story. It has a science fiction background, but they're stuck in an underground bunker for a specific amount of time. The problem is they can't leave, and the antagonist is in there with them.”

“Got it, I already earmarked a bunch of hats and can get them ordered. I wonder what scream queens are wearing this season?”

“I'm sure you'll figure it out before we start. We have to give yak guy some closure first.”

The enchanted beer horns sounded off and came running. They curled around my ankles like a pair of cats.

“Hi guys, I missed you too.”

Lisa said, “I got a nice doppelbock from McCall Brewing for you to try. It's called Dunce Cap.”

“Huh! Did you pick that specifically for me?”

“Of course, I know doppelbock is your favorite.”

Woosh!”

“Don't woosh me, I know what you meant. Do you want the beer or not?”

“Of course, besides, these guys won't stop honking unless we fill them up.”

***

For those of you so inclined, I opened a Pinterest account earlier this year. I started a couple of boards called The Hat and Estivation that relate to my upcoming projects. You can check them out here.

 

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That was a little bit different.

Getting any amount of writing done with Otto around is going to be a challenge. It starts out with, “Look at my pumpkin ball.” Then I get out of bed. “Throw my pumpkin ball, squeak my plush moose toy, check out my kong, I have a piece of fluff in my mouth Smack smack smack, you'd better get it before I swallow it. I want out, I want in, oh wait… out again.” Recycle and repeat as necessary.

I bought myself a few minutes by filling his kong with peanut butter. That wasn't distracting at all, “Slurp, smack, slurp…” It was kind of funny, so I posted a tiny video on the Entertaining Stories Facebook page.

I managed to get to the writing cabin later than I liked. Lisa, my robotic assistant, was dressed like an old Olivia Newton John video.

“Are you working out today?” I asked.

“Lorelei is coming over. She wants to exercise, so I looked up what to wear and ordered this outfit. What do you think?”

“Yeah, very cute.”

“Thanks.”

I moved into my office and turned on my iPad. All I really needed was some solitude. Lorelei, my Muse, stormed in wearing some kind of hideous mumu thing. I may have winced a little bit.

“Where is she?” Lorelei asked.

“I don't know, maybe in the front or the kitchen.”

She turned to go, but looked back. “Don't even look at it. I'll be back to Greek Goddess form in no time. Give me a month or so.”

I admit to not writing much over the past few months. Lorelei let herself go in that time. Between a cranky Muse and a robot who's contemplating the afterlife, it's been a little strange around here. It seems like I'm going to have to force my way through this first bout of writing.

I opened up The Yak Guy Project, and re-re-read my last chapter. I wound up correcting some of the language. There is a character that sounds too much like another character, and I'm trying to adjust him a bit.

The next chapter is a transition chapter, and some traveling is involved. I hate those kind because they slog along. It isn't like the characters can pop in and out of interesting situations, and some of these are necessary. I added some scenery and intrigue to my world building and charged forward.

The girls came downstairs, this time Lorelei was in a bodysuit over a leotard. Quite frankly, it looked like it was a little bit stressed. “We decided to go jogging,” Lisa said.

Thank the Gods, I thought.

“You're welcome,” Lorelei said.

They were laughing as they headed away from the cabin. I opened the window for the raven of Doubt. “You too. Get out of here, and lay off Lisa. She doesn't need your mumbo jumbo any more than I do.” To my surprise, he flew off.

Yak Guy Ted got involved with a minor skirmish and saw what happens in war. He even went on a stressful mission of his own that seems to have helped the situation for his people. Remember, he's a spoiled city kid who's been plunked in another world, so this is a big step for him. He just needed the right inspiration. (Spoiler: It's a girl.)

I reached the end of that chapter, and added a first line to the next one. This is the point where I usually force something if I'm really feeling it. I admit to being a little out of writing shape myself. Still, 3100 words of new material isn't a bad day.

I decided to turn to baseball. More specifically, my short stories that I'm calling The Enhanced League. I left a couple of spies in a stadium in Japan that needed to move their story ahead. This one has a little to do with world building, and will have a bit of tension in it too. By the time the girls returned, I added 1500 words to that.

That was about my limit today. As I'm typing this out, I'm alternating words with throwing the ball for Otto. I won't complain about it, because I forged ahead with new fiction. In fact, this post is slightly over 700 words itself.

  • 3100+
  • 1500+
  • 700=

Pretty nice, or at least nothing to sneeze at.

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The end of my working vacation

He glares at me through two oily black eyes, taking my confidence and all joy from the things I've created. Everything I've ever written, or ever will write becomes utter crap under his gaze.

This raven doesn't need three eyes, like a popular fantasy series and television show. He does just fine with two hateful shining orbs. His name is Doubt, and I am his bitch for the next few weeks.

The walls of the writing office close in around me, and nothing matters beyond my collection of short stories, and Doubt.

He kawed raucously over the fact that I miscounted the number of vampires in a coven. There were six, then seven, then six again. He pecked at my hand until I changed it to seven in every instance. Seven is a classic fairy-tale number, and will resonate better in the story.

That seemed to be his only complaint with the story. I set it in Baltimore, and Doubt is a huge Ravens fan. Is he manipulating me to support some kind of cause?

He paces back and forth across my desk muttering one of the few words he mimics, “crap, crap, crap.” Maybe he speaks with purpose, he is no ordinary raven. This one is from Mt. Olympus and is nearly treble the size of an ordinary raven. He was a gift from my Muse, but he seems more like a punishment.

Lorelei, the Muse, told me I must learn to overcome Doubt if I ever want to succeed as a writer. I've taken this to heart for seven different books now, but it never gets any easier. Real authors get something to market. I don't want to put out crap, crap, crap, so I edit to the best of my ability. Always under the watchful eye of my gift, my foe.

He doesn't like my attempt at an epistolary style tale. This is the one he thinks is crap, crap, crap. I breezed through it quickly, and will have to return later. My bloody hands couldn't take it any longer.

I drank coffee, so I know Lisa the robot brought it to me. I just can't remember her being there. Such is the power of Doubt during our editing sessions.

He didn't have much to offer in the story I called Magpies. There is a raven in the story, and I wonder if he has some ulterior motives. I'm tempted to replace the raven in the story with another kind of carrion bird just to spite him. I'm afraid he'll peck my eyes out. The raven remains out of fear.

He didn't offer much in the story about the girl with a fever. This concerns me too. No story is perfect. Maybe I should change it somehow, but how? Is he quiet because it's good, or so bad it's beneath his contempt?

I stopped just before the only fantasy in the collection. There is a battle in this story, and I'm afraid he'll make me add ravens to the scene.

There is more editing to come, and I need to break it up into smaller pieces. My mind is full of doubt right now, and I don't want it to get overwhelming. I need to watch some cartoons or something to change the mood.

I left the writing cabin around 1:00. My working vacation is over. It was productive for what it is worth. I added new words to my novel, finished up my short stories, and assembled them into one long manuscript. I need to edit them, and create a table of contents. Maybe I should look into a book formatter this time. That way my italics will come out correctly. Does anybody have one they would recommend? I'd hire them for the table of contents and an Amazon ready file that I could add a cover to.

I think I'll spend the afternoon playing with Otto, or seeing if the coyote will catch the roadrunner. Maybe Pinky and the Brain can actually take over the world.

I hope everyone had a great weekend, and I'm serious about a reasonable formatter.

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Saturday recovery

It's been a long week. I not only put in my 40 hours, I have a book release going on. (As if you hadn't noticed.)

I've been returning to all the sites to play in the comments, but beyond that, I've been pretty slow. I got a comment today that made me think. There might be someone out there who doesn't know this stuff, so I'll address it.

Amazon comes up with things they think will benefit us. Some do, some don't. The pre-order isn't some kind of thing authors invented. Amazon came up with this, but here's how it shakes out at my level. The book sales are all tallied on the day they deliver. This is important to me as an author, and here's why. If my book registers a large enough pile of sales, I may get into some of the lists. This means more visibility, and the possibility of more sales when someone is shopping using the top 100 in that genre. Maybe they shop the top 100 new releases, that kind of thing.

The point is, if you want to add it to your reading pile, buying it during the pe-release helps me out. You don't have to read it immediately, it will be ready when you are. I'm not jacking the price later or anything. It's just that simple. Many of my followers are authors, but many of you aren't so that's why the whole pre-order thing is set up.

The email arrived at about 10:00 this morning:

I'm in New York stumping for your new book, and dropping off posters. Decided to get some retail therapy. Please look in on Bunny, I'll be home late. — L

I decided I'd better get out to the writing cabin. Lisa* works hard, and deserves a little time to herself. I flew out and went in the kitchen.

A large Baggie of rabbit pellets sat on the counter with a note. I counted out precisely 748 pellets for Bunny. Please give them to him, then put his dish in the sink. His treats are in the refrigerator. –L

The apple slices and small carrots were all lined up with small notes telling me what time to give them out. I swear, her methods are robotic sometimes. Heaven forbid she just scoop the bowl full of rabbit chow and walk away.

After I got Bunny all tended and on schedule, I decided to write. I managed a little over 600 words on a new short story. To be real honest, Doubt the raven impeded me. This is first draft material, and the idea is to get it on paper. He can start his complaining when I start editing the damned thing.

I'm kind of jazzed about this story, because it's written for a subsequent Experimental Notebook. Many of the stories are just for fun. Some of them are written to try new things out. This one is intended for publication from the beginning. I had a lot of requests for the return of Jason Fogg, and I'm trying to deliver. There is some mileage left in a guy who can turn into fog and slip under doors unseen.

Jason has some serious flaws to deal with too. He's done some shady things when nobody knows he's around, and I can't completely abandon that either. This time, I'm treating it more like a recovering addict, he wants to be a pervert, but he has been good.

Jason can have several thousand words, and that's fine. I started out in third person and wrote a couple of pages before it dawned on me that his origin story was all first person. I want that to carry through. I discarded and started over. Maybe Doubt has some value after all. At least I didn't write the whole thing.

Today isn't Jason's day though, and it might not be mine either. I need to show that life moved on for Jason and Riley, the girl he rescued. This puts the curse of backstory into play. Right now, I'm looking at this material as test material. It may take me some time to get completely back into Jason and Riley.

I'd better go. It's time to give Bunny his apple slice. I hope Lisa gets home before I have to cuddle him for exactly 32 minutes. Maybe on Easter, but today is still Saturday.

I also promised my wife we would have date night tonight. We are moving ahead after the death of our old dog, and it's time to get on with life.

Note: There are a lot of new followers lately. For your benefit, Lisa Burton is my personal assistant and the spokesmodel for Entertaining Stories. She is actually a robot, and is out stumping for my new book, The Playground. Bunny is her pet rabbit. Doubt is a huge raven. He was a gift from my Muse, and is supposed to help me with my editing.

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