Everyone is self isolating, if not outright quarantined right now. It get’s boring, even for those of us who can work from home.
Add into that, a whole bunch of people who lost their jobs and are trying to file for unemployment right now, and we could all use a break.
Reading is a good way to spend a few hours, and all authors would love to have you check out their wares. I don’t want anyone to accuse me of taking advantage, so I’m going to do a free promotion. Even folks who lost their jobs can take advantage of a freeby.
Don’t freak out on me just yet, because I set it up to run on Monday. This post is just so you can line up ahead of time, while practicing your social distancing skills. I’ll run out another post when it goes live.
I try to have a method to my madness. Yak Guy is an older title these days, and I never thought it got as much love as it could have. The reviews are all positive, but there just aren’t enough of them. Hopefully, you follow my logic. I’m not linking the cover, because the freeby trots out on Monday.
This is the one where I based the characters off the Fool’s Journey from the Tarot Deck. Yak Guy is The Fool who goes on the journey. He meets other Major Arcana characters along the way. Obviously, I had to weave in a few others, but it made for a fun way to tell a story. I was kind of proud of my Wheel of Fortune. (It’s an entire city with multiple choices of roads leading out.)
For today, you might want to give your yak an extra ration of oats, maybe use some saddle soap on your rigging. The journey begins Monday.
My day started at 5:00 AM. The dogs had all the sleep they could stand, and wanted breakfast. My wife has to work, so it was a reasonable writing opportunity.
I made good time flying out to the writing cabin, and landed just as the sun peeked over the horizon. The elevator lowered the gyrocopter into the hangar, then I trudged toward the stairs.
Lisa Burton met me at the top landing. She held out a half-gallon bottle of sanitizer. “Hands.”
I paused, then reached forward. She pumped several squirts into each hand. “Wash them completely. If you still have some, do your forearms.”
“Jesus! I have enough to do my whole body.”
“Maybe you should. I have. I’ve also wiped down your office and iPad.”
I walked into the cabin, and an alarm went off. “Stop! You are too close to Lisa Burton. Please maintain social distancing at all times.”
“What was that?”
“I downloaded it, then paired it with my internal radar. You’ll find a canister of sterilizing wipes on your desk, and a gallon of bleach beside the door if you have any accidents.”
“That’s awesome.” I opened my iPad and the manuscript for The Ballad of Mrs. Molony. Lisa sat at the far end of my sofa. “What are you doing?”
“Watching. So I know what to clean after you’re done out here. The chair and desk for sure.”
“Is there any coffee?”
“I made it after you took off this morning.”
I headed for the kitchen. “Stop! You are too close to Lisa Burton—”
“Oh, my God. Turn that off.”
“It protects both me and you.”
I retrieved my coffee, then returned to my desk. “I used this cup.”
“And touched the cabinet, and moved one cup to get to your favorite one, and the coffee pot, and who knows what else.”
“I need you to go away. I have to do some writing, and you’re bugging me.”
“Fine. I’ll be in the bubble bath. I haven’t washed up for an hour.”
Music came on over the speakers.
“That’s Lizzie and the Pythons, for inspiration.”
“Cool. What playlist?”
“This one’s from The Hat. I can play Viral Blues if you like.”
“Maybe, when this one runs out. Now scoot.”
She left me to my own devices and I relaxed a bit. I managed to add 1700 new words to my side project. Not my best day, but not horrible at all. I stopped just before I had to describe a tiki bar the previous band trashed the night before Lizzie and the hat had to play there.
Lisa’s voice came over the speakers. “Maybe you should do one of those business letters like everyone else. You know, something comforting in these uncertain times.”
Dear Readers of Entertaining Stories:
We are open for business here at the Writing Cabin. You should have no worries about Lisa Burton, because she is in fact a robot, and immune to catching the virus.
Because it is possible for her to carry and transfer the virus to others, she is currently washing and using hand sanitizer like a mad woman.
I’ve checked our recent invoices, and there is another 50-gallon drum of sanitizer on the way, along with two cases of soap, and twenty-five pounds of bubble bath. She has also rented scaffolding so she can wash the walls and ceiling after I leave.
Rest assured we are still producing new fiction, and will have more releases in 2020. As ebooks only, these are free of all contagions, and you can enjoy them, along with our previous releases in relative safety.
Don’t touch that dial! You’ve landed on Lisa Burton Radio, the only show that brings you interviews with the characters you love. My special guest today is Chastity Sullivan, and Chastity is someone I respect. She’s an independent business woman who operates between factions that don’t always get along.
On top of all that, Chastity is a vampire. “Welcome to the show, Chastity.”
“Mab and Clyde told me all about their visits. So, I’m very excited to be here.”
“I think we all kind of know what a vampire is, but you’re something new. Can you give us an idea of what being a Dawn Fang means?”
“When people hear the word ‘vampire’, they are probably thinking of the Old World variety. Weak or killed by sunlight, an array of powers, and uncontrollable blood lust. Dawn Fangs are completely different. We’re actually alive with heartbeats, the ability to breed, eating regular food, and a full immunity to sunlight. I can pass as a mortal with ease, which is very beneficial to my business. Dawn Fangs can be a little overly emotional at times and we traded our magic for three unique powers for each of us.”
“Spill it, girl. This in an interview show. We want to know what special powers you got when you became a Dawn Fang.”
“Well, my abilities aren’t trade secrets. Our powers tend to work off our personality and habits prior to turning. A major part of my business is letting people indulge in their sexual desires, which can involve my participation. So, I ended up getting the ability to never tire and a charm mist that I can emit from my skin. I have a lot of fun with it too because I can make people do what I ask or have them fall asleep. Helps calming down some of my impulsive friends too. My third ability is telekinesis, which I’ve honed to the point where I use it without thinking. Floating mugs to my hand when I’m tending the bar or stroking an attractive patron’s neck from afar is always fun.”
“Okay, so that mist thingie is pretty cool. Can you make it smell like Clive Christian perfume?”
“Come to think of it, I never really considered the smell. It doesn’t have any odor that I can sense, but I have heard people describe it. One man claimed it smelled like his mother’s home cooking and a woman last night swore it was the scent of roses after a heavy rain. From what I can tell, the charm mist takes the smell of whatever my target loves the most. So, the perfume scent could happen if that’s what you’re into. Not sure I can charm a robot, so I don’t know how to test it.”
“My bio says Clyde is the leader of the Dawn Fangs. It’s been a couple of years since I talked with him, but it seemed like he just wanted everyone to get along.”
“Clyde really is an odd one, huh? He’s the most powerful Dawn Fang and possibly the strongest creature outside of the gods of Windemere. I’ve seen him cleave a mountaintop in two with his fists, so you know he could conquer the world if he wanted. Yet, his goal is to show that Dawn Fangs and mortals can live in harmony. Many of us are already living among what would normally be our prey and aren’t causing any trouble. My business is a great example since I cater to both sides who will unwittingly drink alongside each other.”
“That’s what I mean. He dreams it, but you live it. Your business is called the Scrumptious Siren. It’s an amalgamation of services, but it’s frequented by Old World vampires, Dawn Fangs, humans, elves, dwarves, and well, basically everyone. The fact that they all get along proves that it works.”
“To be honest, I don’t see many Old World vampires these days. They’ve aligned with Nyte and I’m not always seen as a neutral location. Can’t blame them since I was part of Clyde’s gang long ago. Even without them, we do have occasional rule breakers. I can stop the fights inside with my mist, but there are times when a vampire or mortal will take a grudge outside. That’s why I have vampiric hummingbirds in the surrounding forest. They really only go for vampires and drain them of any blood they steal, but I’ve had to change them since becoming a Dawn Fang. Now, my pets deliver a knockout drug and leave them for me to handle. Beyond that, everyone plays in harmony under my roof.”
“Okay, Windermere is not Earth, and I get that. Here we have laws, and our enforcement might not be so swift, but those systems can work with a bit of respect from the participants. Just to keep things interesting, you’re also kind of an informant of sorts. What can you tell us about that?”
“I would call myself more of a broker of secrets and rumors. The Scrumptious Siren is a popular place for a variety of people. It functions as a bakery, tavern, inn, sex palace, spa, and just sometimes a dance club. This means I get to hear a lot of what’s going on around the area. Since I need to make deals with traders across Windemere for the best supplies, I get more information from them. Maybe I have a few intimate friends in every port and some high places too. I’ve spent centuries creating a global network of connections, so stories always seem to find their way to me.”
“Having a good source of information is important. I myself have been known to hack into computer systems while others go into harm’s way.”
“We don’t have computers, so my hacking is more physical. It isn’t that I get involved, but I usually get what Clyde needs and hand it off. Things are probably going to be different this time. I really need to take a firmer hand in events now.”
“It seems like you have a good thing going here, why risk it all at this time?”
“Where to start? Somebody has shown up with this weapon called the Fist of Durag. Durag is the Sun God of Windemere, so you know he doesn’t like vampires. This person has already depowered and killed at least a dozen Dawn Fangs across the globe. That’s only the ones we know because we’ve lost contact with more. I worry that an army is building around this person. The last time the Duragians marched against vampires, we barely survived and that was only because Clyde returned with his new powers. They’re ready for him this time. There’s also an . . . incident with the Fist of Durag holder that has made this personal. Probably best that I not make that public. It would be really bad for business right now.”
“Okay, I can see the desire to get involved at that point. Aside from everything else, you are very powerful, and Clyde could probably use the help.”
“The whole scenario has me worried, especially because Clyde isn’t acting like himself. I don’t know if I would call him scared, but he’s definitely nervous. I’d compare it to someone seeing a ghost that they swore would never return. I think this weapon was created from the same accident that turned Clyde into a Dawn Fang, so it could be the one thing that can kill him. I can’t really sit on the sidelines when one of my closest friends is in such danger. I’m not as good a fighter as Mab or the Vengeance Hounds, but I have a good amount of tricks.”
“I wish you all the success possible. Then you can get back to helping everyone get along. What’s next for the Scrumptious Siren?”
“I’m looking into building a simple racetrack around the hill and possibly turning one of the lower floors into a small brewery. I need to find people who are more knowledgeable than myself. My business is only as good as my employees since I can’t master everything. I might expand the relaxation area around the hot spring I made too. It’s a fairly new type of business in Windemere, so I’m not sure what else to do with it. We already have massage rooms. Maybe I’ll take a trip to explore the world for new ideas once I know I won’t get murdered by a crazy priest wielding a god-powered weapon.”
“Chastity, I think all of that is cool. The world needs more people like you who build and bring folks together.
“For our listeners today, you can read all about Chastity and the Dawn Fangs in the War of Nytefall series by Charles Yallowitz. The newest edition is called War of Nytefall: Eradication, and Charles promises it won’t be the last one.
“Thanks for listening today, and I’ll add all the details to the website once we go off the air. Don’t forget to use those sharing buttons today. Charles has done it for everyone who ever appeared here, and he deserves a bit of love today. For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.”
As Dawn Fang vampires are found dead across Windemere, their infamous leader will remember what it is to be afraid.
With the truce between Nyte and Nytefall nearing its end, an old enemy has emerged to rekindle the vampires’ most ancient feud. A Duragian priest is on the move and he is wielding a weapon that can depower and kill Dawn Fangs. This follower of the Sun God has claimed enough victims that Lord Tempest wants the weapon for himself and Clyde is beginning to worry that his fledgling kingdom is in danger of extinction. When it becomes clear that the mysterious relic and Clyde’s transformation into the first Dawn Fang are connected, he will be forced to face a past that he can barely remember.
What can Clyde do to defend his people, his life, and the child he does not know is on the way from the terrifying Fist of Durag?
Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After spending many years fiddling with his thoughts and notebooks, he decided that it was time to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house with only pizza and seltzer to sustain him, Charles brings you tales from the world of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and drawing you into a world of magic.
I got started at the writing cabin fairly early today. Lisa Burton, my robotic assistant was in a snit.
“I don’t know how to flatten my skull so I can cosplay one of those Boondish people in your story.”
“Don’t worry about it. If they get any lines at all, they’re going to be minimal.”
“I have some adjustable parts so I can change my facial features, but not to that extent.”
“Maybe you can try a hair bump. A big one.”
“It would have to be big, but I might try it.”
“I wouldn’t worry about it. The root monsters get plenty of dialog, and you haven’t tried to dress up like one of them.”
“I suppose that’s true. So what are we writing today?”
“James is wounded, he’s had his vision, and they’re still running from the big storm. They don’t know it, but they’re on their way to Bungo Bungo.”
“What’s with all these names?”
“I’m trying to borrow from the Pacific islands as much as possible. I set Lanternfish in a fantasy world to avoid comparison to another famous Pirate adventure. I’m also avoiding any Carribean references if I can.”
“Got it, so what’s on the agenda?”
“James has to process his vision, then make a new plan without all the data he’d like.”
“Doesn’t that happen in all the stories?”
“You caught me. I think it’s an important part of character building. Because they have the second ship, and all the extra mouths, they’re running low on food. They can’t just pull into McDonalds and fill up. Serang even has them using boards and hand lines to catch fish.”
“That calls back to her own book, so that’s kind of cool.”
“When I was a kid, people used to troll in boats with a board wrapped in fishing line. It’s totally not PC today, but everyone called such a rig a Chinaman.”
“Oh, so you made the connection in your mind that Serang would know about this way of fishing.”
“Yeah, but I don’t come right out and call it that. Besides, it’s a fantasy world, there is no China.”
Lisa left to try bumping her hair to absurd levels, and I went to work. James processed his vision, healed his burns, but not his bad back, and they escaped the storm. They made it to the floating island called Bungo Bungo, and even stepped on the beach. Then I had to give up for the day.
Bungo Bungo is a magical place, and because it moves around, it’s going to have a variety of things from all over the world occupying it. I’m pretty excited to get going on this section, but ran out of gas.
I started the weekend at about 31000 words, added around 2000 on Saturday. Sunday I didn’t do anything. I never broke 40000 words, but I’m thiiiiiis close. That means today came in at just under 7000 words, and that’s the best day I’ve had in a long time.
The magical beer horns sounded, and were chased into the office by a pair of root monsters. Beer sloshed all over the floor. I scooped one up before the monsters made a mess of things.
Something tells me Lisa is going to put the monsters back in the vegetable crisper while I’m at work.
At not quite 3700 words, I pushed my pirate hat back on my head and looked across the room at Lisa Burton, my robot assistant. She wore her Serang costume and twirled the huge guandao about.
“I think I accomplished what I set out to do today. The Fulminites are terrifying, and no root monsters were killed in this adventure.”
“You killed the Fulminites though.”
“Did I, or did they do that themselves?”
Flattop, the root monster, sat beside my iPad. “Whew! Modders all go splat, but okey dokey at the end. Then get to throw hailstones.”
“I thought you guys deserved a bit of fun.”
“I like how Fēngbào came out,” Lisa said.
“He’s a god that Serang knows about. He brings the monsoon… violently, I might add. Not a lot more than that, which is kind of the Lanternfish style. No in depth legends to slow the story down. He just is what he is and brings the rain.”
“And thunder, and lightening, and waterspouts, and wind that can level a city…”
“Okay. He’s kind of over the top, but that’s also Lanternfish style. I worried about this scene for weeks, but sometimes you just have to put on your pirate hat and hack away at it. I can change it if my critique group thinks I need to, but it’s hard to change something that doesn’t exist.”
“Speaking of your group, did you get the final section of Grinders sent out?”
“Yup, it’s on the way to them. I’m not going to worry about it, until I hear back from them. You did some good work today, Serang played an important role on Kiriwina.”
“Modders like those names. Kiriwina, Matacucu, and Rakiura.”
“I pulled some of them from a map of the Pacific Islands, and changed some with Google translate. That’s how I came up with the name Fēngbào, too.”
“Modders not know Booble slate.”
“It’s okay, buddy. Only I have to know that.”
“So how come Serang didn’t get all torn up in the explosion like everyone else?”
“I don’t need her to be wounded, and maybe she wasn’t as close to the epicenter as the others were. Don’t think about it too much.”
Lisa sat down the weapon, then picked up the bamboo flute. “I’d love to be able to play this thing for real.”
“You have been, haven’t you?”
“Robot girls don’t have lungs, genius. I’ve been holding it to my lips then playing back a soundtrack.”
“It helped me with my writing. Maybe you can play that Kill Bill number one more time.”
“You know that was played on a pan flute and not one of these, don’t you?”
“You fake it well. Maybe that’s all any of us can do. I hope I fake my stories well enough to make people enjoy them.”
Back to the office tomorrow, but 3600 words, and a difficult section out of the way is a good day every day.
I closed my iPad and looked across the desk at Lisa in her pirate garb.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“I’ve written myself into a bind and need time to think. I managed 1200 words, but it pales in comparison to yesterday.”
“You changed the slaves into natives that practice head-binding. That was kind of cool.”
“Yeah, not a lot of explanation, but it adds to my world building. Do you know people practiced the shaping of infant skulls all over the world, but had no way of communicating with each other about it? It’s kind of amazing they would come up with the same bizarre practice in different cultures like that.”
“Yes, I have full Internet access and looked some of it up for you, remember?”
“Yeah, thanks. I need to do some serious thinking here.”
“How long do you think it will take?”
“No telling, but it makes sense. I passed 30,000, so this is the middle slog. You know how I love the middle slog.”
“What’s the issue, maybe I can help.”
“The pirates captured a treasure ship. They decided to divide the weight between the two ships, and take the galleon with them. She’s a pretty worthless ship and not much more than a merchantman.”
“So, basically, more troubles.”
“Yeah that’s kind of a theme in fiction. They worked through some dangerous waters and are within sight of Matacucu. I need them to approach the temple of the exploding monks, but I don’t want them to learn too much from this stop.”
“I don’t know exactly what my landing party is going to do there. I want to build my con-man characters up a bit. Readers are due for a real fight scene, because the galleon didn’t put up much of a fight.”
“What if they learn nothing at all, then wind up in a fight. Your con-man maybe picked up on some valuable information they can discuss later. You can shoot your way out of the harbor and keep it mildly adventurous.”
“That could work, but I need to think about it. I’ve also teased the exploding monks for 30,000 words, and it’s time to see what they are capable of. Readers have earned that now. The only problem is it has to be devastating and horrible.”
“Then write it that way. What’s the big deal?”
“It almost needs to be bad enough to kill off a character we’ve gotten to know. Maybe even a root monster or two.”
Flattop climbed my desk drawers and stood between us. “You would kill modders?”
I clasped my hand over my eyes and lowered my face. “I don’t know. There are lots of you guys and not all of you have names. Then there is a new one people haven’t gotten attached to yet. That’s the problem. Readers love you guys far beyond anything I expected.”
“Modders are helpful.”
“You are, but at last count, I think there were nineteen of you. That’s adding on Shrimp, the new guy.”
“We might get by with only seventy-two.”
“What!” Lisa said.
“They don’t understand numbers. I think he’s trying to be helpful.”
“You’re going to have to figure it out,” Lisa said. “You can do some writing tomorrow, but then you aren’t off again until Wednesday.”
“I know, and there is a big monster just over the horizon. He might even be a god. They’re going to flee from him as much as anything else. I know they’re going to wind up elsewhere and gain some better intelligence on the monks. That’s going to be a big section.”
“I thought the second volume of a trilogy was supposed to be the shortest one.”
“It is, but it’s not looking that way here. After Matacucu, they wind up on Bungo Bungo. That’s a big section. Then they have to wind up in pseudo-Japan, which I haven’t even named yet. That’s another big section. Then they have to fight with their own admiralty, implant some spy’s and a special army into the war, then gain their minor victory amidst tragedy.”
“This isn’t looking like the 90,000 word piece you had planned.”
“I know, and that’s why I need to stop and think. I’m committed to bring this in as three volumes, even if they’re big ones.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to get a haircut.”
“I could fix you up right here. Maybe a nice pompadour?”
“Thanks, but no thanks. I think I’ll go see Chuck the barber.”
I landed at the writing cabin early this morning. I had the little gyrocopter buzz a mammoth and her calf to clear the runway, but it was a piece of cake after that. Frozen ground is almost as good as asphalt.
Lisa met me coming up the stairs. She wore a green, knee-length, Christmas dress with furry white trimming. “What are you doing here? Thought you were done for the year.”
“Not by a long shot. I stepped back to do promo, but never intended to take a longer break. How’s the coffee situation?”
“I can make some. I have the cabin wired as a smart home, so all I have to do is send a signal to the coffee maker.”
“Very efficient. I’d expect nothing less from you.”
“Go into the lobby and check out my Christmas tree. I’ll bring you a cup when it’s ready.”
The tree was one of those artificial pencil trees that are so popular now. Lisa always was on top of trends, but she decorated it with shapes she’d cut out from old compact disks and circuit boards. She had stars and reindeer, there was even a pair of high-heels in shiny compact disk silver. “What’s with these ornaments?”
“Those are things robot girls like. I didn’t think you were coming out until next year.” She opened a large box with bubble-gum pink baubles. “Do you want to help me finish decorating it?”
“Tough to pass up, but I need to start writing again.” I left her to it, then went to my office.
The first step was to reread a few chapters of HMS Lanternfish. This helped to get back into the swing of things. When I finished that, Lisa came back.
“I’ll go get my pirate outfit. Didn’t know that’s where you were working. Do you want the root monsters?”
“Where are they? I assumed they went home.”
“They’re in the vegetable crisper drawer.”
“Oh-my-God. Are they okay in there?”
“Oh yeah. It slows them down and keeps them fresh. They drank all your beer the other day, though.”
“No, then. I don’t need their mischief just yet. My pirates have so many problems I don’t know how they’re going to deal with them all. I’m going to have to address a bit here and there. I’m going to deal with this treasure galleon on the horizon, then address some of it in the cool down phase.”
She placed a steaming mug on my desk. “Holler if you need anything. I’m going to work on my tree.”
My crew took the galleon, and it posed yet another problem. Throughout their adventures, they’ve never had enough. They didn’t have enough cannon, they needed munitions, they needed crew. This time they have all of those things. Sailcloth, food, whatever they need. The galleon provided them with too much.
Gold is heavy, despite what the movies show us. You don’t just toss gold bars around like potatoes. A bellyful of gold will make Lanternfish draft lower in the sea, and limit her mobility in a fight. They even have to distribute it correctly to keep the ship running true.
There’s also the question of how to cashier the crew when there’s too much. They can’t pile it under cots and hammocks. They also lose motivation to continue on with the war effort. The crew is tasked with warfare, but could easily retire to a nice island or villa somewhere with this much gold.
Most of my time was spent in the cool down phase while James speculated on the logistics. He’s a worrier, and that suits his character.
Lisa returned with fresh coffee, and an outfit change.
“What’s with the little guys?”
“I only got a couple of them out for inspiration. There are another dozen in the fridge. They think my tree has weird fruit growing on it.”
“Your ensemble is inspiring, too. You make a picturesque pirate.”
“Darned straight. Let me know if you need my Serang outfit for a chapter or two.”
“Not today. I’m about done. I have a couple of other projects to get to. 2100 words is a good day after being away for so long. We’ll pick it back up tomorrow.”
It feels good to get back to new material after my break. I want HMS Lanternfish to hit the shelves in 2020, and it would be best if it were in the Spring to spread things around a bit. Guess I’d better keep chipping away at it.