Old What’s Her Face and I went to Zoo Boise this morning. I wanted to do this as soon as they announced their new Stellar’s Sea Eagles. This is because I designed the Omcrom from HMS Lanternfish from them. Covid took care of that for me, but today I visited them after the fact.
These guys are huge. They were a bit snotty and stayed where I couldn’t really see them until their misters turned on. This guy hopped right down to enjoy his shower and gave me this image. They are bigger than our bald eagles or even the golden eagles around here. Very impressive.
I also saw several varieties of hornbill. Their cages aren’t the best for photography, but I took some anyway. I used these guys to design the anvil bird from Lanternfish. I added the ability to speak and a bit more color, but this is the root creature.
We saw all kinds of things, but they were as hit by the heat as we were. Most were shaded up and sleeping. The red pandas were out, but we mostly saw a bushy tail hanging from their nest.
I got to see the gibbons which also excited me.
The blond one hung out on the ground and took advantage of the shade. This one was accommodating. I have something in mind for a gibbon in a future story.
It involves a comic book character called Special Agent Golden Gibbon. In my story, a couple of my characters are impressed with this fictional character in their world. One will be inspired to take some risky actions based upon what Golden Gibbon would have done.
This is me being weird again. My fictional story has a fictional creation inside it. I might even write some outtakes from the comic into the story once I start drafting it. How many layers of fiction is that???
We had a great time, and even picked up gyros on the way home. After all that heat, I took a short nap, then it was time for the radio show. It wound up being a great day.
I got to the writing cabin at a decent time this morning, then made my way to the paranormal office. I rolled the top of Patty Hall’s old-fashioned desk back, then opened my document.
Lisa Burton, my robotic personal assistant walked in.
“Ta-dah! Ready for work, Captain.”
“Yeah, um… We finished that one, remember.”
“You’re here to do edits, though, right?”
“I’m going to wait until August. Let it clear my mind a bit.”
“The raven of Doubt will be so disappointed. He’s been super excited to help you.”
“He can wait, too. I’ve been working on something for Lizzie and the hat. It’s fun, and keeps me busy.”
“Does he become a pirate hat?”
“Great, then I have the wrong outfit. What should I be wearing?”
“Nothing special. I need some help with research, and you’re faster than I am.”
She took a seat on the couch. “Okay. What do you need?”
“Well, we’re back to witchcraft in this tale. Every one of the witches has a different base for their magic. I need you to find some things I can use.”
“Like elements and stuff?”
“Yeah, but not completely. There’s plant magic, death magic, weather magic. Maybe one can have art magic.”
“What about Lichtenberg marks?”
“What the hell are those?”
“People get these elaborate scars when they’ve been hit by lightning. They also show up in lawns, and even wood. Turn on your iPad and I’ll bring them up.”
“Those are cool. They almost have to be magical. I can work with that.”
A knock came at the front door. “Probably your Amazon guy. Get rid of him, and let’s go to work.” I flipped through the images while Lisa got the door.
When she returned, she had guests. Consultia, Libraria, and Wiki, the Research Sirens.
“Okay, I know you ladies are good, but I have words to write.”
“Nonsense words, if you don’t have some facts ready,” Consultia barged into the room. Her giant Afro bounced as she clacked across the floor, then sat on the couch, crossing her long legs.
Libraria followed in her sexy librarian garb, stacked her books on my coffee table, then took a seat on my desktop.
Red headed Wiki wiggled her fingers in hello, as she sat in the wing backed chair.
“If you want to know about Lichtenberg scars, let me set you up with some interviews. It would be best if you could see them in person, and consult with a doctor,” Conversia said.
“I can book us tickets to Congo,” Wiki said. “Lightning strikes there more than anyplace on Earth.”
“I can’t go to Congo. Besides, that’s dangerous.”
“How will you really know unless you experience some of these things?” Libraria asked. “The smell of ozone, the explosive feel.”
“All I need are the scars. I don’t intend to write a lightning storm.”
“We might find a fulgurite,” Wiki said.
“It’s a stone configuration left behind after a lightning strike.” Libraria opened one of her books. “See.”
“Those are cool. I can use those in the story.”
Wiki looked at her iPad Mini. “If you’re willing to fly on standby, I can get some good rates.” She turned it around and held it by the Pop Cap on the back as if I could see that far.
“All five of us?”
“You and Lisa,” Conversia said. “We have other methods and can meet you there.”
“I know your tricks. Lure unsuspecting authors onto the rocks of research so they don’t get anything accomplished. I write fiction. It has to be plausible in the story world, not factual. You’d have me so far down the rabbit hole I’d never come out.”
Libraria looked over her glasses, and my heart stopped. She leaned over and kissed my forehead leaving me with a face-full of cleavage. “But it’s such a sweet rabbit hole.”
“Uh-huh. Whatever you—”
Lisa snapped her fingers in my face. “Come out of it. You know their tricks, but they can be helpful. Just focus on what you need.”
“What I need is something written by a guy named Cotton Mather. He’s like the patron saint of a group—”
Libraria returned to her books and selected a gigantic tome. “I brought his entire collected works. You should read all of it, so you have a better understanding, and can choose the best part.”
“How did you know I’d want— Nevermind.” I flipped through the pages. “Oh, Hell no. I need to base something off his words. My readers would shoot me if I wrote like this.”
Conversia leaned forward in her scoop-necked dress. Tiny bits of glitter flashed in the light against her ebony skin. “It was a long time ago, and people were pretty flowery back then. I know three historians who can give you a real feel for his time and role back then. Maybe even a trip to Williamsburg.”
I closed my eyes and calmed myself. “I’m writing about Lizzie and the hat again. I only need references to a few things, and a snippet or two. It’s their story, not his. They are outside observers to this world, so they don’t need to know how everything works.”
Wiki turned her iPad around once more. “He had silly hair.” She wrinkled her nose in an adorable silent laugh.
“You can stay, and you can help, but I’m giving Lisa total control. If it goes too far, she pulls the plug. I don’t have months to fly all over the world for something that might be two lines in my fiction. Even though you are fun company. Agreed?”
Libraria slid into my lap and leaned her head on my shoulder. “Agreed. Shall we get to work?”
Needless to say, today wasn’t one of those word-count giants. I did learn some fun things that will show up in Good Liniment.
It’s a book now. Lisa Burton and I will be touring it around for a few weeks, and I hope to see you along the route. I’ll be sharing those posts here so they’re easy to find. Each post is unique, so they won’t get repetitive.
I hope everyone will give it a chance. Short novel length, dark humor, characters that everyone has enjoyed before. Check it out.
Hi, I’m Craig, and I haven’t written a new word for two weeks. I’m unlikely to get more next week unless something changes.
Sounds like an AA meeting.
The fact is, this has been the busiest week of the year at my workplace. I was heavily involved in prep leading up to all this, too. At some point, I kind of left it all on the field, to use a sports phrase.
Old What’s Her Face and I have had the same days off, too. This isn’t particularly useful when it comes to penning new material.
I have some leave coming up, and may get to do some writing then. However, I have a stockpile of errands that will interfere to a degree if I don’t plan things well. I have to get my truck serviced, and take care of a small repair. I also have to get it sniffed for pollutants. Then there is the matter of swinging by a hardware store for some blade oil for my chainsaw. My fruit trees need some tough love and it’s best done before the sap rises.
I’ve also promised to make a quick trip to Nevada to visit my parents, so here is a rough plan. I’ll get the truck taken care of Friday morning, then go find a station that can do my sniff test. Somewhere in that vicinity, I need to find any hardware store for my oil. I will leave directly from there for Nevada. That will kill Friday, but might salvage some other days for writing purposes.
Then there is the plot problem. I’ve been dwelling on it for weeks, but have an inkling of what I want. Nothing like a long car drive to help focus some of this. It isn’t like Lanternfish needs a new character, but I’m going to introduce one. My cons can keep a secret easily enough, but adding a third party to their game could introduce some extra stress. Stress is a good thing for characters.
Normally, in times like this I would switch stories. However, I’ve finished the draft of Lunar Boogie, and want to focus on Lanternfish. It’s probably crazy, because I lost two weeks that I could have been working on something else.
I also need to keep reading what I’ve already produced. That will help me sort out what cartoons I need to order for Lunar Boogie, and I need to put some thought into Lisa Burton promotional posters.
Lisa poses a different problem. How many pirate girls can I commission here? Same thing for Lizzie and the hat. It was simple enough to do when the first book came out, and even the second volumes. This deep into both series, it gets harder to come up with things.
I’ve had Lisa pose as Serang, then in Serang’s new armor. She’s posed as Lizzie the monster hunter, Lizzie the musician, etc. I’ll figure something out, of course, but it might be a few less than I usually do.
I’m looking forward to finishing the Lanternfish trilogy. I’m down to getting the last pieces in place before things really break loose. This is the middle slog, but there are some big things planned that I expect to almost write themselves.
On the bright side, I only committed to two books this year, and one of those is drafted. I have to keep things moving, because it’s already March, but I’m not in a bad position here.
I hope all of you are doing well, and not facing your own writing problems. I’ll sort mine out, then Lanternfish will move fast.
My company left at around 10:30 this morning. I haven’t honestly had a writing day since before Christmas and was looking forward to some quality time.
I arrived at the writing cabin and got ready to work. My robotic personal assistant, Lisa Burton dropped off some coffee, then waited for instructions. She wore boots and leggings and an oversized sweatshirt with a wide collar, exposing one bare shoulder.
“I need to read what I have before I get started. It’s been so long I can’t decide whether to pick up the Lanternfish story or the one about the hat.”
“If you need anything, just yell. I’ll be in the front seeing if there are any online bargains today.”
I had started reading Lunar Boogie when Lisa returned. “You have a visitor.”
Just what I needed on the first quality day in weeks.
Lorelei, the Muse, stepped around Lisa and into my writing office. She was as tall as Lisa, but less curvy. Beautiful in a Greek goddess kind of way. “What’s this I read about you toning things down in 2021?”
I held my palms forward in a gesture of peace. “That was about my publishing schedule. I want to satisfy the fans and get some series books out there. After that, who knows what I might do.”
“That’s where I have a problem. Your act of creation fuels me. I let you take some time off last summer, but it can’t become a habit. In fact, you haven’t been behind the keyboard since mid-December.”
“Calm down. There’s a difference between publishing and writing.”
“I’m listening.” She moved to the recliner in the corner and sat down.
Lisa took a place on the couch in case there were assignments.
“I intend to publish those two books, but will keep writing. I have several storyboards and am kind of missing my stand-alone stories.”
“That doesn’t sound like a plan. Maybe you just need some inspiration.”
“That’s as good as you’re getting right now.”
“Did you know the laws of salvage are nothing like people think? They’re actually about how a good samaritan deserves compensation.”
“Seems like a quick change in topic, and one of your tricks to me.”
“If someone were to rescue or preserve something, could be goods, or even part of a ship, they receive a lien against those items. The owner has to make good on the lien before claiming the goods.”
“So, it’s not just finders keepers?”
“Not at all. In fact, you could be charged with theft by keeping the items.”
“What if there’s nobody left alive to claim the items?”
“The country of origin can also participate. Spain will occasionally make a claim when someone discovers a sunken treasure ship.”
“That’s a maritime system, and I don’t see it working in the Lanternfish plot.”
“Just because something is on your property doesn’t make it yours, either. Otherwise, whenever someone walked in here you could claim everything they have.”
“That’s right, so pull that top off and hand it to me.”
“Ha ha. Nice try.”
“So, you’re telling me that if an alien ship crashed on my ranch, I can’t claim the wreckage. I can render a service and claim compensation, but can’t keep what I find.”
“Seems about right.”
“But the country, or planet of origin, could make a claim in our Earth courts.”
“In theory, yes.”
“I think if it were me, I’d take as many pictures as possible. Save them to a thumb-drive to protect them from government deletion, then share the photos with every news service and social media format I could find. The government couldn’t cover it up then.”
“Might make you a fugitive.”
“Almost certainly. If I filed my claim right away, there would also be a court record. That’s a bit safer place for the evidence.”
Lisa leaned forward. “The aliens probably wouldn’t go to court. You might gain possession by default, given enough time.”
“If only it weren’t for the damned Feds. They’ll try to take everything and claim it was a weather balloon. They won’t get away with it, because I have photographic evidence and good filings in the court. Once something is in the court record, they aren’t going to cough it up.”
“Looks to me like even losing possession of the wreckage, you’re poised to make yourself a celebrity speaker and go down in history as bringing the existence of aliens to the general public,” Lisa said.
“I’d need a place to hide for a while. I’m sure the Air Force or FBI would want to haul me in. It would have to be off the grid someplace.”
“You’d be dodging those guys for months.”
Lorelei stood, then dusted her palms together. “I think I’m finished here. Good to see you both again.”
“Wait a minute,” I protested. “You played me, but it won’t work. I have my own storyboards to jump on.”
“Looks like my little scheme failed. I’ll let you get back to your writing. Have a happy new year.”
“You, too,” Lisa said.
I watched Lorelei walk down the hall until she turned into the living room that served as the front office. “Did you keep any notes?”
“Your robot girl is on the job.” Lisa polished her nails on her sweatshirt. “I have a video recording of the entire meeting.”
“Why don’t you reduce the video to notes. I’ll get set up for storyboarding, and we can work on it together.”
I arrived at the writing cabin in the pre-dawn hour.
Lisa let me in, and she was already in her seasonal outfit. Today she was a gingerbread girl complete with some kind of white piping sewn around the hem of her miniskirt. Candy cane striped thigh-high stockings ended just shy of her dress. “Wow! Two days in a row? It’s almost like old times.”
“Almost. I have to cut it short today, but don’t want to squander the hours I have.”
“Then you’d better get started.” She got behind me and pushed me toward the writing office.
I intended to get the ship underway, but still had a couple of loose ends to wrap up in Tusconi. I took care of those and managed to make sail before I stopped.
It only came to about 800 words today, but like I noted, there were limited hours available. The good news is that Lanternfish is finally underway.
Lisa looked over my shoulder. “I think it’s good stuff. A tearful departure and a thought toward loved ones.” She placed a little square gingerbread robot on the table before me. “Don’t run away. I baked these myself from a recipe on the Internet.”
I took a hesitant bite. “Mmm. These are good.”
“Whew! I’ve never tried anything like this before.”
“Why a robot?”
“Because robots are underrepresented in the Christmas lore. We’re starting a new tradition here. If my sculpting skills were better I would have tried some robot girls, like me.”
“Well, I think they’re delicious. You can work on it, and I’ll come back tomorrow. No writing, just a Christmas visit.”
“And my Christmas bonus? These gingerbread shoes aren’t cheap, you know?”
I got to the writing cabin fairly early this morning. Lisa Burton met me at the door wearing a green and white mini-dress with matching elf cap. “What are you doing here?”
“I work here from time to time, remember?”
“I though you were getting a refrigerator delivered today.”
“That’s tomorrow. Rather than squander a whole weekend, I decided I’d better accomplish something today.”
“And which project is it going to be?”
“Huh? Don’t worry about changing clothes. I like the festive look.”
“Oh, good. I was just about to use the hot glue gun to put tiny bells on these pumps.” She held up a pair of metallic green heels.
“Sounds like a plan. I’m going to launch Lanternfish if it’s the last thing I do.”
“Okay. I have to make your coffee, then I’ll bring you a cup. You might hear me jingling as I come down the hall.”
“I hope so. 2020 has been kind of a gloomy year and any little bit of cheer is welcome.” I marched to the writing office and could see my breath in the air. Lisa had already provided kindling and wood, so I made a fire in the fireplace before I got started.
I opened my chapter by sliding Lanternfish from dry dock into the water. It takes some time to outfit a ship this size and I needed to respect that. I used the time to define some relationships, mostly between James and Bonnie. They are always parted on these journeys, and that’s pretty realistic for the era. I decided to spend some time with them as a couple.
I also spent some time reintroducing a few other characters. The overall trilogy seems to have a cast of thousands, and I can’t expect readers to remember all of them. Since it’s still early, a line or two seems more helpful than not.
Lisa jangled into my office with coffee. Somewhere along the line she’d managed to accessorize with an enameled bracelet and necklace of holly leaves and berries.
“Where’d you get those?” I pointed to her wrist.
“Cute, huh? I found them on EBay for a steal. As a bonus, Bunny likes to chew up the boxes.”
“You’re a little tall for an elf, but your heart’s in the right place.”
She leaned in close. “I don’t have a heart. There is a hydroponic layer to keep my skin healthy.”
“I know that. It’s a figure of speech. Means you have the right spirit.”
“Thanks. You type away. I’m going to go do my nails. There are boards of Christmas nails all over Pinterest.”
“Have a good time.”
I pecked away at my project, and ended at 3200 words for the day. I like this chapter, but there’s nary a cannonade in sight. Plenty of time for fantasy sea monsters and naval warfare after they leave the harbor.
I also like the way that Serang has been up to her neck in warfare in the preceding chapters. I think it adds a sense of urgency that readers can pick up on, even though the Lanternfish crew has no idea.
Tonight is all about packing all our food into the tiny freezer and a group of old coolers. Hopefully, getting the new one delivered and installed won’t be an all day affair, but my experience with such things hasn’t been good. If this is all I manage to write, so be it.
In other news, I worked through all my critiques for the other story. My group really didn’t like my title, so I changed it. The book about Lizzie and the hat is now called Lunar Boogie. Probably jump to that one next go round.
I looked up from my desk at the writing cabin and decided to call it a day.
Lisa Burton walked into the office in full pirate regalia. “How did it work out? Did you have a good day?”
“It really was. 2700 words I didn’t have before. Add that to the 2000 from Wednesday and things are cooking along.”
“There’s a little coffee left before you leave. Do you want it?”
“Sure. I got through my con men on Wednesday and closed the loop on three concurrent stories. Everyone is on the page now. Today, James did what he had to as far as completing the repairs on Lanternfish. She’ll be ready to launch soon.”
“Don’t you think I’d look great in period costume breaking a magnum of champagne over her prow?”
“I’m sure you would.”
“Maybe you should write that one down.”
“It’s early in the story. There could be better things coming.”
“Then you don’t have to use it, but if you write it down you won’t forget.”
“You’re a computer. You remember for me.”
“You can bet I will. So, did the queen go along with James’s scheme?”
“Shh, that’s a spoiler. You can check out the draft later.”
“What are you planning tomorrow?”
“Don’t know. Serang still has some war to wage, but she ought to gather some clues along the way. I need her to discover some old secrets, too. I might wing some of that, or take a little time to think it through.”
“You mean you’d just waste a day to think?”
“Sure. This whole country could use more thinking before writing.”
Lisa smirked. “Uh huh?”
“If it doesn’t want to come together, I can always revisit Lizzie and the hat.”
“I kind of hate it when you do this to me. I never know how to dress for the day. Am I wearing cute performance outfits or being a pirate girl?”
“How about badass monster hunter outfits?”
“I know your style. It’s too soon for those, After about ten chapters you’ll get to them. So how should I dress tomorrow?”
“I don’t know. I have to go where the Muse leads me.”
“Fine. I’m going to put on some jeans and cowboy boots, add a Smithereens tee-shirt and fashion beret, then pull the Waltus armor on over the top. Maybe I’ll even buckle on a cutlass for good measure.”
“Do it and I’ll post a picture on my blog.”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
“Of course I would.” I pointed to my head. “You don’t understand how this brain works.”
“From what I can tell, your processor runs on coffee, pumpkin beer, cheese, and crackers.”
“Actually, that’s pretty accurate. All I can tell you is that I intend to write tomorrow. If it’s Lanternfish, it’s Serang’s turn again. If not, then I’ll start the next Hat book.”
“Maybe I’ll just wear one of my polka dot dresses and some nice heels. Those make me happy.”
“There you go. I like those, too.”
“Enough to write me into another book?”
“Probably, but I’m not going to. You got a story just last year. I’m going to try revisiting Serang and see how that goes. That’s as much commitment as I can give you.”
I got to the writing cabin relatively early this morning. Lisa Burton met me at the door. She wore a tight knee-length khaki dress and a matching envelope cap.
“What’s with the outfit,” I asked.
“Veteran’s Day is next on the calendar. Things are still kind of boring out there, so I try to celebrate everything at home. You haven’t been out here in a while. What’s the occasion?”
“Nothing special. Just trying to keep the boredom away. I’ve been doing some storyboarding and looking for graphics. I have a lot of cool poster ideas for you as I write the next few books.”
“I’d love to go over your ideas. Maybe I can get some outfits ordered.”
I headed toward my office and turned on the lights. Lisa had placed sheets over everything, so I pulled them away and piled them in the corner. “Problem is that all the cool ideas are several books away from the ones I’m writing next. Things will have to come to me as I write those.”
“I’m sure you’ll come up with something. Maybe I can help.”
I walked down the hall to the paranormal office and threw the switch. A spark and hum revealed the same slip covers over all the furniture.
I thought as I pulled them all back. “I might be able to use that garrison cap in a story. Hang on to it.”
“For the hat?” she asked.
“Yeah, why not. I have a mission in a future story that will require him to be flat. Lizzie might come up with a performance outfit using it, too.”
“That seems worthy. I’ll keep it within easy reach. What are you working on today?”
“Nothing in particular, but I’m getting close.”
Lisa pushed me back to the main office and my desk chair. She moved the iPad in front of me. “I’ll get you some coffee. Maybe just relax and enjoy a fresh cup. See where it takes you.”
I sipped my coffee, then opened a new folder, created a blank document. A little copy and paste, and I’d created a title page and copyright data. I wrote one sentence, then another.
I knew in broad strokes what has to happen, but didn’t really plan a way to execute that. I worked on some dialog and it led toward the planned event. Might as well execute the plan and see what happens.
I dabbled, and backspaced my way along, not really expecting much. When I glanced down at the bottom of my document I’d written 3000 words. My jaw fell open.
Lisa had her own cup of coffee. She held it toward me. “Take all you can…”