Tag Archives: edit

The Bone Yard

I cringed as I pulled into the garage tonight. Lorelei* had already opened the hidden door and was waiting beside my gyrocopter. She wore a long canvas duster, knee high boots, and a silk scarf.

“Hey. What brings you out tonight?” I asked.

“Let’s fly,” she said. “I’ll tell you where to go.”

We lifted off the street and I banked toward the Misty Mountains.

“We aren’t going to the writing cabin tonight,” she said. “Head east toward the coast. Better kick in ballistic turbo whatever. It’s quite a ways.”

I knew what she meant, trimmed the wing angles and pushed the accelerators forward all the way. When we came to the sea, she told me to skim the surface.

“What are we looking for?”

“Wildlife.” She pointed off to our left, “Over there.”

I banked and saw a long serpentine back rolling in the water. “What is that?”

“Mosasaur. Better climb a little higher. It can jump pretty high.”

“Are you going to tell me what this place is?”

“Jurassic Water Park.”

“You’re kidding. That’s pretty cool, I guess.”

“The island is just up ahead. Circle Mt. Spooky and find a place to land.”

There was only one mountain, and it was surrounded by a junkyard and small village. I spotted an open field and made a low pass. It was clear enough, so I landed. We followed a red brick road into the village.

Lorelei led me to a warehouse and held the door for me. It was filled with shelves, crates, and boxes. I picked up a musty yellow rag and raised an eyebrow toward her.

“That’s the yellow badge of courage. Keep looking.”

I flinched as rodent scurried across my feet. When I turned the corner there were millions of them. I stepped behind her and pushed her forward.

“Are you afraid of hamsters?”

“Hamsters? Really? Why are they here, and why so many?”

She shrugged and said, “Eleventh plague of Egypt.”

“I never heard of an eleventh plague. This AMC Pacer has plates that say Christine.”

“You’re catching on. Let’s head for the Tardis.”

“Cool,” I said. “I’d love to look inside that.”

“It stands for ‘Take a real detour in stories’.”

It turned out to be a bar. It was the same size on the inside. The walls were decorated with memorabilia. I spotted a baseball bat with a lightning bolt carved on the side.

“Special Kid? Shouldn’t it say Wonder Boy?” The Sorcerer’s Rock was framed next to it. A wooden case held the Maltese Mallard.

I sat at the bar and put my chin in my hand. The waitress, Polly Pan, brought me a beer. “This place is almost fun,” I said.

“On Saturday nights Polly Pan performs an epic sword fight with the pirate, Captain Colostomy Bag,” a severed head said.

A chill ran down my spine as I glanced toward Lorelei.

“Washington Irving left him here,” she said. “He lives with Khaleesi, the mother of wombats.”

“And what about the robots by the pool table?”

She grabbed my hand and dragged me over. “Craig, meet 4Q2 and 5319009. Let’s just say these really aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” She cupped her hand around my ear and whispered, “They came here on the Aluminum Falcon.”

I downed my beer and stepped outside. Lorelei grabbed my hand and tugged me back toward Mt. Spooky. She said, “One more thing to see. You’ve nearly got it.”

We entered a tunnel and she led me to a pedestal with a cheap tin brooch on top. “Read it,” she said.

I picked up the brooch and turned it over. “One brooch to rule them all. One brooch to find them–

“Make it stop,” I said. “Nothing here’s good. It’s almost fun, but not quite. Can we go home?”

“Alright. Follow me.” She led the way back down the trail. At the red brick road she shoved me into the bushes and we froze.

I six foot tall woodpecker hopped down the trail and we waited until he was out of sight.

“What’s his deal?” I asked.

“Peter Benchley left him here.”

“Of course he did. Let’s fly, there wasn’t even any alcohol in that beer.” We buckled up and headed home in silence.

Lorelei spoke when we hit the coast. “I know you’ve been editing. I’m trying to help. Sometimes it takes a small change to make the story better.”

“How will I know what to change? Should I be sending stuff to the bone yard too?”

“There’s a space reserved for your stuff. You have a good critique group, listen to them. You should find some decent beta readers too. Listen to everything they say, but only you can make the final decisions.”

* Lorelei is my Muse.


Filed under Muse, Writing

Weekend Wind Down

I’ve been hitting it pretty hard for weeks now. I admit, this weekend wasn’t really really productive. I got some things done, but I’m starting to wear thin.

This was a good weekend to work too. We’re between paychecks, and this means I can’t afford a lot of expensive distraction. It’s funny how the assessor never showed up when real estate prices were falling, but he made it right out when the market turned back up. My house payment is $100 per month higher now, due to taxes.

That same $100 could buy my cover art for Panama.

I didn’t write at all yesterday. It was the perfect day for it too. I needed to ruminate about a transition in my current story, and there was nothing I could do about that. My main character needs to go on the attack now, and shifting gears needs to get written the right way.

I managed to do some editing on Panama. (Coming soon to a Kindle near you.) These older works are good stories, but I’ve learned so much since I wrote them, that they need some cleaning up. I used to use a lot of filtering words, and killing them is dropping my word count. Panama is a short novel anyway, and I don’t want people to think they aren’t getting their monies worth. I managed to add more life to the jungle, and even included some smells and touch senses. If it’s still short, I may have to price it down accordingly.

I think Panama may need another editing pass once I finish this one. I want to double check the calendar and times in the story. Every writer runs the risk of saying something happened yesterday, when it was a week ago in the manuscript.

I used my cool fountain pen and wrote out some more character sheets. Some, or all of these characters will appear in whatever my next project is. For some reason, using a different tool makes you see things differently. There could be a shred of plot developing in my mind.

I also took some time off and just vegetated. I watched Django Unchained. Totally unrealistic, and totally fun. Lot’s of weapons errors, but I suspended disbelief well. I’m starting to really like Christoph Waltz, but I’ve only ever seen him in Tarantino movies.

Today, I laced up my writing boots and went to work. It didn’t amount to much, but there are 1152 new words on Will ‘O the Wisp. For those of you keeping track, I’m at 49,667 words now.

There is no absolute number of words for what qualifies as a novel. Popular thinking is 80,000 and that’s always been my benchmark. I used to always write long. I’ve learned to be more sparse, but now I have the opposite problem. It’s easier for me to trim than it is to add.

This blog update doesn’t mean I’m finished for the weekend. I’m about to begin reading the next book in the horror six pack I bought. I really enjoyed the last one about two thugs transporting a werewolf to an underworld boss. I have more editing to do too.

I’ll probably do a little bit of everything, but then I have a television appointment with the Walking Dead.

I always like the time changes when they come around, but I’m not looking forward to 4:00 AM Daylight Savings Time to start my work week.


Filed under Writing

And now the Work Begins

I heard a rustling sound in my office and woke up. I’d slept in my recliner at the writing cabin. Roald’s dwarven beer is some pretty strong stuff.

Lisa gathered the drinking horns and headed for the sink. I headed for the bathroom, then the coffee pot.

“Aren’t they cute,” Lisa said. “They wash up like two birds in a birdbath.” The drinking horns played under the faucet.

“Yeah, adorable. Remind me of this the next time I want to write fantasy. Where’d Roald get to?”

“He’s tending his cows and shoveling the snow off the porch.”

I made my way to the office and booted up my Mac. A rooster’s crow sounded by the back door. I knew what it was, and it wasn’t an actual rooster. A quick look through my old binoculars showed Cobby, the dwarf, snowshoeing across the meadow. “Hey Lisa, will you let Gallicus inside, he’s probably cold. Don’t be afraid, he’s good around friends.”

“Why should I be afraid of a cockatrice? I’m not a biological life form. He can’t turn me to stone.” I heard her open the door and let him in. She shot by me, ran upstairs and shut her door. “I’m going to keep Bunny away from him, just in case.”

Gallicus the Cockatrice

Gallicus the Cockatrice

Gallicus took up a branch on the bronze tree that served as Doubt, the raven’s perch. I watched them for awhile to make sure they got along.

Cobby hung his cloak on the coat rack and came into my office. He was limping, and looked older since I’d last written about him. His beard hung in thick black ringlets down to his solar plexus. I guess I tortured him quite a bit in his book.

“You’re looking good,” I said, “but I see you’re limping.”

“I managed to hurt myself again.” He sat a leather wrapped brick of something on the coffee table. “Uncle sent you some scrapple.”

“Tell him I said thanks, that’s wonderful.” Scrapple consists of boiled down pig snouts, hoofs, fish heads and whatever else Uncle can think of. There was no way I was eating it, but it doesn’t hurt to be polite. Doubt, the raven, would be very happy with it.

I grabbed a notebook and pen and took up my usual spot in the recliner. “The editor says we need more emotions when the bad stuff happens. The readers will like you more if some of that gets on the page. I also need more description, not just sight and sound, but taste, scent and touch.”

Lisa brought him a coffee and he detailed out the settings from his story. I wrote as fast as I could, but it was hard to keep up. I didn’t want to miss anything, but some of this would bog down the story too. Today was all about notes, I’d sort it all out later.

Things got much harder when we talked about his feelings. I prompted him a little, “You suffered some pretty big losses in the story. Friends, family, personal injuries. Readers want to know how you feel about that.”

Cobby wrinkled his brow and paused. “Those are personal thoughts. They’re not for everyone.”

“They aren’t going to be judging you, they need a little help to understand you. You’re a fictional character, and they need to feel your pain. I know you cry, and mourn. They need to get a taste of that too.”

“I don’t want to blubber all over the page. I have an image to uphold, people are counting on me.”

It took a long time, but I finally got him talking. I had to pry information out of him by asking about his family, his relationship with Echo, and how his apprentice was getting along. He told me how worried he was that the Remsians would get him eventually.

I scribbled like mad for about six hours. I had pages of notes to consider.

The drinking horns blasted the peace and quiet away. We went to the kitchen and they marched back and forth along the countertop.

Roald came back inside and rubbed his hands together. “Sounds like it’s time for something cold and frosty, by golly.”

They were quite the contrast; Cobby with his Mediterainean looks and Roald with his pale skin and blond beard. They were the best of friends.

I sat down my notes and found a mug for one of us. I knew I missed some things, but I wrote as fast as I could.
Lisa saw the look on my face and tapped her forehead. She leaned over and whispered, “I recorded it all, and can print you a transcript if you like.”

“Thanks, but I’m afraid I have to feel this part. Just don’t lose it.”

Lorelei, my Muse showed up with a bottle of wine and found a glass.

I said, “Oh hey, Lorelei, um we’re just working on a few edits. I’ll get back to my new story soon.”

“I’m not worried, you know. My job is to inspire your creativity.” She held up the drinking horns on either side of her face, and curtsied.

“So you aren’t mad that I didn’t write more of Will ‘O the Wisp?”

“I don’t care what you work on, I just want you to be creative.”

Lorelei’s quite the gal. Never judgmental, she just wants me to create. She’s not the one pushing me to post something on Amazon either. That’s all on my head. As long as I write, and try to improve she’s as happy as can be.


Filed under Muse, Writing

The All Nighter that Never Happened

I set everything up in the cabin and started writing about some forgotten items in The Will ‘O the Wisp. I was going to have my main character, Patty, show up but she has school tomorrow.

I’d just gotten started when there was a knock at the door. Three loud, well spaced knocks.

I ran out to the lobby and met Roald, the dwarf. I always got a kick out of him. He has one of those engaging personalities, and an accent that’s just charming. He says things like vell instead of well, and yust instead of just. He’s kind of an outsider to his group, being from a different tribe. He takes it all in stride and is a worthy dwarf if ever there was one.

“What are you doing here this late at night?” I asked.

“Miss Lisa, she sends us a letter. You want to see Cobby tomorrow. He’s busy making some stuff, but I come tonight, by golly.” He patted his chest and stood up straight.

“Please come in, and take off your coat. You can put your snowshoes and weapons in the corner.”

He fluffed the snow and ice off his blond beard and said, “Is there some place I can tie up my cows? I been traveling a couple days now. They need to take their packs off and get some rest.”

“Not out there. There’s dire wolves and cave lions left over from an earlier story. They can go in the basement corral. Lead them down the slope and I’ll have Lisa open the door.”

I pushed the pager and called Lisa, “We’ve got company. Can you open the garage door downstairs? We need to put Roald’s cows in the corral.”

“Roald’s here? That’s wonderful. I’ll meet you down there,” she said.

We met downstairs and Lisa spread some straw in the stalls, while I threw some hay out for the tiny cows.” Good thing the basement daylights out the far side so we could shovel it later.

Once we were situated, Roald carried a wooden box upstairs. “Athene and I got you something. Miss Lisa said you wanted a fancy drinking horn, and we gots plenty of those. There’s this guy who does great silver work, and we got lots of horns lying around from all that wild beef. So we had him make you a set.”

Lisa said, “That’s so sweet of you. Then we want to hear all about your wedding.”

“Yeah, by golly, me and Athene took the oath.” He sat the box on my desk and opened the hinged lid. The drinking horns were spectacular with a one inch high belled silver rim to drink across. They were a matched set with one horn being more brown and one being more grey in color. He sat one on the table and it moved.

It had a silver chest and tail that looked like a little dragon. Two dragon talons kept it upright while it stretched like a cat, then scurried across my desk. The other one crawled out under it’s own power and joined its friend, twitching the little arrowhead shaped tail tip back and forth.

“Um, Roald, why are they moving around?”

“That guy’s been making them for everybody. That oracle girl ordered a set too, but we have a big mistake. She make something magic with lots of sparks and stuff, afore we figured out she got the wrong ones. But here’s yours, good as new.” He placed his hands on his hip and raised his head with pride.

“But they’re running around my desk.”

Lisa said, “Well I think they’re adorable.” She picked one up and hugged it to her chest. It leaned into her and snuggled.

“Thanks, I think. So Cobby will be here tomorrow?”

“Yeah, he left the day after me. Miss Lisa said you have tomorrow to edit our story, so he’s a coming.”

The horn on the desk lowered it’s opening and swelled up. It gave off a note like a French horn in a culvert.

I took a rapid step back. “What the hell was that?”

“Just you wait, by golly.”

The horn in Lisa’s arms gave off a note that made the other one pale in comparison. It was more like a tuba in a domed stadium. At least they harmonized, it could have been worse.

“So how do you shut them up?” I asked. “I need to get some work done around here.”

“They don’t shut up sometimes. The only thing we can figure is it means beer time. Beer always calms them down.”

“I have one bottle of porter in the fridge. Is that enough?”

“Oh no you don’t,” Roald said. “I brought a little keg of good dwarven beer. It’s our first batch too.” He hustled back downstairs.

Once the horns were filled, they strutted around like little roosters. Roald grabbed the brown one and said, “Skoal.”

I grabbed the grey one and clunked it against his horn. It was the best beer I’d ever had. It was thick and dark, and clung to my mustache. It tasted like hot summer days, and toasted grain.

“Miss Lisa, do you have a mug or something?”

“No thanks, Roald. I don’t have to eat or drink. I’m a robot,” she said. “I can, if it makes you more comfortable.”

“Oh yeah, I remember now.” He flopped down on my couch and sat his horn on the coffee table.

I walked behind my desk and powered off my Mac, then flopped into my recliner. I looked at the grey horn on the desk and whistled, “Hey you. Over here.” The horn jumped off the desk and scurried across the floor. It stood up straight so I could grab it.

I drained my horn and sat it on the table so it could walk around with its friend. I muttered to myself, “I was perfectly happy with science fiction. I just wanted to challenge myself. Write a fantasy, how bad can it get? Then it sticks in your head and interrupts the next book.”

Roald grabbed the little keg and filled his horn once more. Mine belched loudly, and ran over for a refill too. I planned for an all nighter, and I was in for one. Just not the kind I had planned.


Filed under Muse, Writing

The Fetal Position

Well, I did it. I read through my latest story, The Cock Of The South, so many times I’m not improving it further. I bundled it up and sent it to an editor.

I’m sure it can be improved, but I need someone to teach me what to do. She’s unbiased, and will give it to me straight. She seems like a genuinely nice person, and I’m sure there will be sweet mixed with the bitter.

The goal is to offer some of my old stories on Amazon. I’m excited about this tale, and it will be one that gets posted. I don’t want to jump the gun and start promoting just yet though.

This was a big step for me, and I think I’m about to get an education. Now I’ll just curl up in the fetal position and have a panic attack. Maybe I need a Binky too.


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