Tag Archives: Lanternfish

Lanternfish and Serang Guest Post

I’m over at Harmony Kent’s place today. The topic is the evolution of Serang as a character. If you read all the books you can track her from childhood, through becoming a young adult, and into an important leadership role. I also dropped a few Lisa Burton posters to demonstrate the various phases of Serang. Stop over and check it out. https://harmonykent.co.uk/character-evolution-and-a-new-book-from-c-s-boyack-virgilante/https://harmonykent.co.uk/character-evolution-and-a-new-book-from-c-s-boyack-virgilante/

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Some parts are more difficult

I’m still on my hiatus from drafting new material. The Muse sent me a bunch of future material and that’s been going great. I have two decent storyboards for stand alone tales. I also have three for stories about Lizzie and the hat.

The concluding story of Lanternfish still needs some work. Dealing with con men is harder that you might think. It requires a kind of mind game with the readers as well as the characters in the story.

I’m not sweating this yet and if I don’t start drafting something before December, I can live with that.

What is coming harder is any kind of comedy. I have faith in myself, but that will only get me so far. A lot of it comes to me as I write, but I usually have some antics in mind long before I start. Right now, I’ve got nothing.

This involves the relationship between Lizzie and the hat, but also the root monsters. As a buddy story, Lizzie and the hat will be easier to deal with. I have three reasonable plots and if I started writing today, they would be fine.

People love the root monsters from Lanternfish, and they need to shine as the trilogy comes to an end. I really hope I haven’t revealed all their tricks yet. I have a neat denouement in store for them, but that only helps at the end. They need purpose and humor as the tale unwinds.

One thing I’m toying with is to give them a tiny character arc. Instead of being told what to do, maybe they can start grasping what is happening and make some choices on their own. I’m not married to this idea, and as comedy relief, it kind of goes against all the rules.

What I really need are some root monster vignettes that sometimes come to me in dreams. Then I can sort through those and decide what could work in the story. I’m on the verge of reading HMS Lanternfish from start to finish as part of my editing process. That could spark some things, and you can bet I’ll have a notes app handy.

I’m 80% of the way through the book I’ve been reading, and that will signal time for editing. I might even do my traditional word searches in the evenings while Old What’s Her Face is watching television. I find that not focusing makes that go better. I miss common spelling errors when I get wrapped up in the story.

I sound like I have a plan, but I really don’t. I just know that I want Lanternfish out this summer, before it gets swallowed up with promotion for my Halloween oriented tale.

I hope everyone out there is being safe, and getting to enjoy some of the things you like.

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Not really an oracle

You have to admit, life has been strange for a while now. I’ve been fighting with technology, old and new. Working from home, and all the learning curve that entails. I wish I really were an oracle, maybe I could make some kind of plans for the future. Here are a couple of interesting things that have happened across the last year. I’m not ready to pick lottery numbers or dive into the stock market, but they’re kind of crazy.

Back in September, on Friday the 13th, I released Viral Blues. This is a story featuring Lizzie and The Hat, and deals with tampering of the nation’s vaccine supply. Not quite the same thing as COVID-19, but maybe it’s just circumstantial. There is localized quarantine in the story. This is dark humor, so I’m not sure anyone is ready for that right now.

I released Grinders on February 18, 2020. This one is a cyberpunk tale that projects what I was seeing at the time into the future. It has cyber-shut-ins in the story. These are people who never leave home. They work from home. Play and gather online. Even take advantage of deliveries for every personal need. I had no idea we’d be living this mere weeks after I published it. It’s kind of starting to creep me out.

Recently I’ve been drafting HMS Lanternfish. This is the second book of a series about pirates in a fantasy environment. A gunpowder fantasy if you like that term. I don’t have a link for this one yet, but here is one for Voyage of the Lanternfish, book one in the trilogy.

A big part of the story is the environment they live in. This leads to what gamers call random monsters on occasion. The first book had a creature called Buwaya. This is like a mashup of a crocodile and a dinosaur. She walks upright on land. She never appeared in the story other than via some vocalizations and stories.

Part of her story is that one day her mate just swam away. Aptly named, Buwaya’s mate, appears in HMS Lanternfish and is a bit more active than she was. (Naming kind of reminds me of Grendel and Grendel’s Mother.) Here is the weird part. Scientists have just discovered a fossilized trackway in present day South Korea. It provides conclusive evidence of crocodiles who walked upright on land. I swear, I didn’t miracle this into existence somehow. It provides some of that reality I try to bring to my speculative fiction. I’ll take it.

Maybe they were in shallow water, and the article didn’t address that. I’ve seen photos of crocodilians standing up in the water with only their nostrils above the surface, but this doesn’t sound like what they discovered. There were no tail-drag marks like you would expect.

Maybe something like this? Maybe not?

If you’re interested, you can check the article here https://tinyurl.com/y7xxu96c

I wish I were an oracle, and these were more than blind-assed luck. I’d find a way to sell a few more copies of these books, and to end this infernal lockdown without making everyone sick again.

The only draft I have going is The Ballad of Mrs. Molony. This is a new book for Lizzie and The Hat. After that, my focus will move to publication and promotion for the new stories. I’m going to take a break from drafting new material to work on some storyboards.

With my recent string of luck, maybe we’d all be safer if I avoid anything too futuristic for a while. I have one historical piece I could move on next. Or there is the post apocalyptic tale I have roughed out, but it includes autonomous zones and some things you might not want me poking with a stick.

I’d appreciate it if you’d check out the links above. I think these are all good stories, and you might find something that appeals to you. You can also read about the scientific discovery and that might spark you to try out Lanternfish.

What weird circumstances have you stumbled across lately?

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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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650 words

I admit it isn’t my best writing day, but it really shouldn’t have been a writing day at all.

I had some critiques back and my only goal was to work through those. Old What’s Her Face is off today, so I went into my home office for the sole purpose of doing that.

I’m also trying to get more organized. It’s easier to send out my submissions as whole chapters. It also makes those submissions easier to understand because they are chapters. Prior to this, I used a word count to send out submissions. With this goal in mind, I wanted to get to the end of a chapter.

I don’t hit the backup story as hard as Lanternfish right now, but it feels nice to have everything on an even keel. Lanternfish has 32 chapters completed. The Ballad of Mrs. Molony has 7.

They’re different genres, and stories about Lizzie and The Hat are short on purpose. Lanternfish kind of fits the mold of epic fantasy, so it is longer. The spread between these genres could misrepresent the proportions of giving you simple chapters alone. Also, Lanternfish is sailing toward the end, while Mrs. Molony is somewhere in the middle.

So, my 650 words kind of brings my writing life into balance. It’s a small thing, but it’s good until I mess it up again. I’ll probably mess it up this evening.

Messing it up involves the fact that they called my wife in for an extra shift. She’ll go to bed about 6:00, then report for work at midnight. I’ve been staying up when this happens unless it is one of my work nights. It’s just easier on her that way.

I have an entire evening to myself. I may break down and look for an old movie, but I’ll probably work on one of my stories. I’d like to get Lanternfish across the ocean and right up to the face of the action.

I’ve been dealing with scenarios that require certain characters to be in two places at once. I’ve been thinking about them for months, and writing it is going to be how I solve the problems. Some of my scenarios will have to fall by the wayside. After I commit to where they will be, that will build the fences for how the rest of the tale shapes up.

I also need to keep planting some things as they cross the last ocean. These can payoff in the final book somewhere. Tonight could be the night for some of that.

Tomorrow will probably be a strange day. I have no idea what my wife will expect. Sometimes she wants to sleep, and I try to be quiet. Other times she wants to stay up so she doesn’t get jet lagged or whatever you might call it. I’m not making any plans for tomorrow, and will take it as it comes.

It doesn’t sound all that productive, but it was good stuff to get done. How is your weekend shaping up?

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Back to the writing cabin

I got a decent start this morning, and didn’t take time to look at any social media. There is a particular section of the book I wanted to complete.

Lisa met me in the kitchen in her pirate garb, then followed me to the office. “Are you going to include the adventure with Waltus, or not?”

I’ve been toying with this section for a long time. It goes in, it gets cut, it goes back in, etc. The main issue boils down to a lot of making ready, setting sail, and traveling. The arctic is a fascinating place, but the interesting bits are few and far between. I know, I’ve been there.

I didn’t want it to be unrealistic, but have to keep the modern fiction reader in mind. I decided to include a bit of crush/romance because people on a ship are still people. Then I added Waltus back into the story.

People seem to love the root monsters, and their tales kind of reflect the truth, but aren’t documentaries either. Instead of living through the adventure, I had James come across the aftermath and ask what the hell happened. Flattop isn’t maybe as animated as the other monsters, but he did a good job filling his captain in about the attack by Waltus on the ships.

This all played out against a stark icy landscape that posed an obstacle to getting the ships where they need to go. I included some wandering around on the sea ice, and eventually found a laborious way to move all three ships. I stopped after moving the first one, but I have two more to go. I’ll likely shorten those parts up, because readers will have already seen that action.

It was 12:30 when I looked up. “Okay, Waltus is back in. I should probably work on my next Story Empire post.”

“I want to read it,” Lisa said.

“You’ll have to wait until I leave. I need to start researching my next post.”

“Killjoy.” The WiFi went down.

“What happened? I need to look up some data about the Guardian Archetype.”

“I turned it off.”

“Don’t be a brat. You can read Lanternfish after I leave. I need the Internet so I can get my next post ready.”

“Nope, I’m the Threshold Guardian. You can’t complete your task without appeasing me.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me! I can’t believe you… oh. I get it. Now turn the WiFi back on so I can rough out this post.”

Lisa smirked, then spun on her heels and left. The WiFi came back on, and I managed to rough out my post, and even found a decent graphic for it.

Old What’s Her Face and I have a combined errand trip this afternoon, and I might even get the post scheduled before the evening is over. It came to well over 3000 words of new fiction, but I didn’t keep an exact count again.

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A writing day

I got to the writing cabin late this morning. It felt good to not have the alarm clock dictating my day for a change. Lisa Burton was nowhere to be seen.

There was hot coffee in the kitchen, so I helped myself, before heading to my office.

Lisa’s voice came over the intercom. “What’s it going to be today? Lizzie and the hat, or a little bit of piracy?”

I picked up my pirate hat and pulled it on. “Why do you want to know?”

“Because I want to wear the right outfit.”

I turned on my iPad, then took a seat. “I’m thinking Lanternfish today.”

“Thanks, I’ll be right there.”

I dedicated a lot of words to adjusting to a fleet of three ships. Serang’s ship still needs some things, and those had to be created. I ended that section with a pennant for her to fly and by painting the name Kirin across the rear of her ship.

This is a neat callback to her origin tale, but the language has changed. Quilin is the name from her country, but Kirin is the name from Giapon. The appearance of this magical creature always marks great change in her life. (His appearances are more symbolic than an actual animal showing up.)

Then I moved back to Lanternfish. Mule is still working on the knife he found in Giapon, and it’s going to play a larger role later in the story. He’s also trying to hide his animalistic ear from Yoshiko, who was the girl presented to James as a concubine.

Lisa showed up in her pirate gear. “Reporting for duty.”

Lisa Burton

“Cute, but you may want to put on more clothes. They’re sailing through arctic waters right now.”

“That’s bogus. Do you know how hard it is to get deliveries right now? I’ll button my vest, but I can’t get any new clothes for weeks.”

“We’ve all had to adapt.”

She looked over my shoulder. “You need to end Mule’s suffering. He obviously likes that girl, but he’s ashamed of his ancestry.”

“James isn’t going to have a clue. What do you suggest?”

“Have one of your con men tip him off. They’re supposed to be great observers.”

“Oh yeah. Then he can act like a father and try to make things right.”

Lisa left me to my own devices, so I moved the ship further into the arctic, added some tiny bits of arctic wildlife, and an encounter with the Northern Lights. The root monsters wanted to know if Saint Elbow was coming back.

James convinced them that it’s Saint Elmo, and the Northern Lights are different.

I ended my day by sailing them directly into a wall of ice that blocks the passage. The last discussion was to sail around or wait for summer.

Lisa brought in a plate with a sandwich.

“Bologna? Really?”

“I’m having a hard time getting things right now. It’s bologna or nothing.”

“I like bologna. This won’t last forever, then we can get a variety of food and you can buy more clothes.”

***

It all sounds a little slow, but the delays can work to my advantage. While they’re trying to get there, the war rages on. I need the situation different so James has to adapt on the fly. I think that’s better than knowing where all the advantages are and trying to turn the tide.

I’m going to add in a monster encounter, probably tomorrow. Lanternfish has plenty of monsters and it’s been a while since one showed up. This one is going to be more like a gigantic version of something that already exists, but I may change it up a bit as I write it.

This will also provide an opportunity for the root monsters to tell the tale, because they were largely left out during the section in Giapon. I know everyone likes the root monsters, so I want to keep including them.

Right now, I have the obstacle, a supply stop, then the war. I hope to wrap it up in the traditional second book style of total disaster with a glimmer of hope. That will allow me to exploit that glimmer of hope into the third book in the trilogy.

It came to about 3500 words today. If I can write my monster encounter, then clear this obstacle, I might have enough for my critique group by tomorrow night.

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Vacation day

This is one of the busiest weeks of the year for us at work. With everything pretty much settled now, I decided to take today off.

I didn’t have any specific goals other than not having to get up and commute. This week began with a return to Daylight Savings Time, included a full moon, and ends with Friday the 13th. None of those are particularly troubling. In fact, I published Viral Blues the last time Friday the 13th rolled around.

The news is depressing with all the viral scares going around. I was looking forward to baseball season, so that’s kind of disappointing. I understand why they’re making all these changes, but I don’t have to like it.

Fortunately for me, there is the writing thing. I need to address some critiques I have back, but I don’t have them all. With that in mind, I decided to add more words. It wasn’t a banner day, but 1600 new words are more than I had when I got up this morning. I kind of like them, but always reassess when my next writing day begins.

The tour for Grinders is ongoing, and I needed to deliver some materials for that. I think it’s time well spent. No sense publishing these things if I don’t try to make people aware of them. This tour hasn’t been any more productive than any of the others, but there is one noticeable difference. I’m enjoying it more. By only having two posts per week, I don’t feel rushed and harried to cover all the comments and such. Comments have been great, too. There seem to be more of them this time.

This could actually be a good thing in the long run. I buy books by earmarking them in my head, then getting to them when I have some time. I don’t always remember all the things I was interested in, and sometimes a reminder will send me running to Amazon. Perhaps, by spreading the posts out, I can have those little reminders online for those who are more like me.

Two years ago, I decided that writing my next book was my best source of promotion. It seems to be working to a degree. My backlist is getting more action than it ever has. It isn’t a lot, but it’s noticeable. More publications means I’m out there more frequently than ever before. Phase two of this idea will be some “specials” when my series books are ready to come out. It’s possible I might weave in a free day for one of the older titles, too. That’s all speculation. My main goal is to get the next Lanternfish book ready to set sail.

Those 1600 word might be all I accomplish this weekend. There could be a few more, but the story has moved to a point where I’m not stressing about it. If I can’t get it finished before Summer, I may just release it in the middle of Summer. I never have great luck with Summer releases, but I’ve been told the middle of a trilogy is a tough sell anyway. They usually don’t move until the series concludes.

I’m open to suggestions on that point. Let me hear from you in the comments. I’d like to learn your release day and promo secrets.

Oh, Public Service Announcement: Hiding in the closet with a copy of Grinders is a great way to spend the weekend and will not expose you to Corona Virus. It’s an E-book, so you can’t substitute it for toilet paper, but you won’t want to after you get into it.

On one of my last posts I tossed a photo of Otto out there to draw interest. Frankie demanded equal time, so here she is on one of the rare times when she pauses in her playing.

Being good, temporarily.

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Time for some Woodford Reserve

Today was my flex day. I started off with my usual surf through social media, read blogs, etc.

Then I turned my attention to the Lanternfish manuscript. I always read my last chapter before starting, and managed to correct a couple of typos. (Probably missed some, too.) I do this to get back into the story.

My goal was to have them sail away from their stop in Giapon by the end of the morning. I kind of made it.

This is because there was a lot to do. Serang needed to appoint officers on her inferior ship. None of the people aboard like each other, but she made a good start with them. Its sail pattern is inferior, and its going to have a hard time even keeping up with Lanternfish or La Girona, and they aren’t fast ships.

This led to some team building when a new sail pattern required construction of additional sails. They used people from all the various factions and Serang made them work together.

I also planted a little surprise for James in the form of a gift from the shogun. He isn’t interested in his new teenage concubine, but his adopted son sure is. The hopes are that some of this tension can carry my story while they sail the arctic waters. This new character will get a bigger moment later in the story.

In an emergency, I have a loose idea for an encounter with a monster that will happen outside of James’s view. He will only get a report from the root monsters after the fact. I need to figure out how to drop enough clues as they call the monster Waltus, so readers can figure out it was a walrus monster. I’ll only write it if I think the story could use it.

At the end of my day, Lanternfish and La Girona were still tied to the dock. Serang’s ship, called a turtle boat, was being pushed away from the dock by some pole men. May sound lame, but I’m counting it. They’re leaving now.

Research said the turtle boat was a real thing, and seems to have some connection to the Korean Peninsula. I also got lucky with names again. While Giapon is an old reference to Japan, Goryeo is an old reference to Korea. These make good names for my fictional locations.

I ended my fiction at 2900 words. My next section will be finishing the repairs while at sea. James wants to get the natives away from Giapon, and hopes to avoid a revolt over taking them away. It was a good day for me.

Grinders is still chugging along. I contacted two more hosts for next week, and already heard back from one. I prepared that post and sent it out. It’s a post about my antagonist, so I think it could draw some real attention.

Tonight it’s Woodford Reserve on the rocks. Back to the paycheck job tomorrow.

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Busy, but productive

I started my week off with a visit to Mae Clair’s blog. I ended it with a stop by John Howell’s place. These were both stops to promote Grinders. A couple per week is much easier to manage than the dozen or so I’ve done in the past. I still intend to put out a decent number of them, but I’m going to spread them out a bit more.

Lisa Burton went back on the air somewhere in the middle to host Charles Yallowitz. He also has a new book out, so if you haven’t stopped by Lisa Burton Radio, you probably should.

All of these fine people loaned me their space, or have agreed to soon. I would appreciate it if you’d stop by their places and check them out. Maybe you’ll find a cool new blogger to follow. They’re all accomplished authors, so you might find some great reading there, too.

Today, I focused on producing more tour posts for Grinders, but at two per week it was much less stressful. I’m making every post unique, and that allows me to reblog them without sounding like a broken record. More like a wounded record, maybe.

I also made a new pinned tweet. I’m a big believer in the pinned tweet, and regularly share those of my friends and supporters. That’s why I’m embarrassed to admit that I forgot to make one for Serang. Maybe if I hit the Summer doldrums I can toss one out for that story. It isn’t like I don’t have some great artwork to add to it. I’m not much of an artist, but I can cobble together something presentable.

I also worked through critiques for two different projects. My side project was pretty easy, but Lanternfish took some effort. My group helped me make this section so much better, and I owe them a huge debt. Both projects are ready for new words, and I may add some tomorrow. I have some fun research that I need to shoehorn into Lanternfish somehow.

Today I cleared my decks. No idea where tomorrow will lead me, and I don’t really have a plan for it. I’ll check in with all my hosted posts and might even manage some new words. Hope all of you have a great weekend ahead of you.

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