Tag Archives: outlining

Yuck!

I spent my entire day doing word searches on Lanternfish. I’m not joking about spending eighth hours on this project. I got all the way to the end, but it necessitates another complete reading of the manuscript now. No idea when I’ll get to that. There are a couple of books I’ve been trying to read, and I’m not finding the time for them.

My daughter showed up from Sun Valley for a few hours today. I stopped all progress, and had a nice visit with her. This is more important than word searches and edits.

One of my goals was to write some new words, and that may not happen. I get a four day weekend, but tomorrow is always an odd day with some personal requirements.

After I posted last night, I spent some time on an outline. In my case, they are storyboards. I made a huge dent in the storyboard for a novella I want to write. It doesn’t seem like much, but it is some progress. About all I have to do now is ramp up the tension points, and check some timelines. I will probably pin some graphics to my board, because they always help, but I could almost start writing it today. I won’t, because I’m working on something else, and haven’t got Lanternfish out the door yet.

Unfortunately, I’ll probably spend the rest of my weekend on edits. Had I dedicated myself to new words, I could have cranked ten-thousand of them over four days. Lamenting this probably isn’t a good idea, but that’s what I’m doing right now.

I’m going to call it a day, crack open another pumpkin beer, then turn on some baseball. There are only a couple of games left this season, and I want to get my money’s worth from the season pass on television.

I’ll hit it again tomorrow.

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About that time of year

I’ve been looking for a month for something close to home, but with zero luck. Store keepers are full of empty promises.

I decided to go for my best chance, and went to the Boise Co-Op. The old one downtown. Bingo!

That’s right, everyone. It’s pumpkin beer season. I had the Anderson Vally yesterday, and it was fantastic. They are one of my favorite breweries, and never seem to let me down.

I just opened the Elysian Dark Knife a minute ago. It isn’t quite as good, but this does not mean bad. Elysian is also one of my favorite creators.

The Co-Op beer man said he only had seven bottles of the Shipyard Pumpkinhead, so I bought one of them too. My traditional favorite is Elysian Nightowl, but he only had cans. I have my fingers crossed that I can find a couple of bomber sized bottles before the season is over. Either that, or maybe find it on tap somewhere.

Because I had to move my flex day, I wound up with Friday off this week. Oddly enough, Monday is my day off next week. What a cool break!

I spent my day doing edits on a couple of existing projects. Some of this involved some word searches and such. Mind numbing stuff, actually. Hopefully, pumpkin beer will recharge my battery.

I intend to add some new words to an ongoing project before the weekend is over. I also want to work on a couple of outlines. One will be a novel, the other a novella. (With any luck.)

I might check on a baseball game sometime this weekend. The payoffs are stacking up, and I find it interesting.

My weekend list isn’t huge, but it’s bigger stuff this time. We’ll see how it all shakes out by Monday.

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Time to move on to the next project

The Yak Guy Project has been launched. The tour is over, and it’s safe to come out now. I always try to reblog for my hosts as a way of paying them back. If you missed the tour, you can still catch up by scrolling back through my feed. If you have a mind to.

I am grateful to all of my hosts, and you can all borrow my blog space any time you like.

During the tour, we sold a few books, and even managed to garner a few reviews – all of which were favorable. I intend to share any review blogs I stumble across in the next few months too. Of course, if the reviewer just manages to find Amazon to post, that is more than enough for me.

I want to get back to my work in progress, but that’s going to take at least two weeks. I’m sure there will be a warming up phase too, because I’ve been away from it for a while.

I’ve also been thinking ahead. Pinterest is a wonderful source of inspiration for me. I came across some great black and white photos from colonial Africa, and added them to a board called, “The One I May Never Write.” Many of these were people around campfires, and their faces are so interesting. There is so much character there.

Part of what’s holding me back here is popular sentiment about hunting. I can’t, in good conscience, take people from that era and work around the modern concepts of how evil hunting in all forms is. A young man in that era would want to go on safari, and he would enjoy the process. I used to be a big time hunter myself, and still look forward to my annual grouse dinner. I can write that part pretty convincingly.

I’ve toyed with some tricks. The woman in the story would be a local, and might impart some sensibility into his thought process. The group might be able to eat an entire impala, but it’s absurd to take an elephant for supper. The other trick is dealing with a man eater of some kind. Probably need a man eater in one of my type stories anyway.

The outline has a lot going for it, but the question remains. Will modern sentimentality kill this book faster than a .450 Jeffries to the head. It has a lot going for it, like magic, awesome setting, a love interest, a bit of war involving multiple factions, and oh yeah… diamonds.

Then there is a bit of author magic I need to do. I want to weave together some elements of style to help bring the setting up to something with a little more romance. There are some cool pins I’ve saved for that too. If you want, you can check the Pinterest Board. The debate still goes on in my mind. Should I dedicate months to write something the haters with an agenda could very well attack?

I don’t get it, but if you kill a fictional monster you’re a hero, kill a fictional lion and you’re a bad guy.

I also have a few different ideas involving Lizzie and the Hat. I’m determined to bring them back somehow, because that book performed really well.

Before anything else, we’re going to Las Vegas this weekend. Back when we still had money, we bought tickets to the Pink concert. I may be harder to catch this weekend, but I will get to everything somehow. This is my wife’s dream concert, but I’m kind of jazzed about it too. I’ve seen bits and pieces of her performances, and she puts on quite a show.

The following weekend, I left a bunch of people afloat on the ocean in a small ship, with piracy on their minds.

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Not doing what I should be doing

While I’m following my blog tour around, I’ve found it hard to write. That doesn’t mean I’ve been completely idle though.

I have bulldogs that need cuddles, a daughter who likes to talk about her big promotion, and my back to deal with. For some reason, my back issue decided to remind me it’s not over yesterday. It’s a bit worse today. This is an important week at work, so it needs to go away.

I reblogged Joan’s post earlier today. Now that it’s after five here, I’m going to mention that it was my turn over at Story Empire. There is a neat conversation going on in the comments about how different we all are when it comes to developing character. Stop over and join in the conversation, I’ll be monitoring the comments.

I also took some time to give my blog a facelift. I found some cool snowflake wallpaper, and Lisa went out to the island and made a snow sculpture for the banner. Then I assembled and scheduled this week’s Lisa Burton Radio.

One of the things I’ve been doing between comments and tweets is looking at my outlines. Something odd happened and it deviates from my master plan. After I finish the novella, I’m supposed to start on a novel called Grinders. This one is a cyberpunk novel about people who do extreme body modifications in an attempt to become better than everyone else. There will be some bio-hacking and such to flesh out the world.

The deal is that it’s not quite ripe when it comes to plot. I have some great characters, locations, and events. It just needs more time in the fermenter.

While I was doing that, one of my problem children kind of grew up. This one started off as a fantasy. Then it evolved into a flintlock fantasy. Somehow, in the past few weeks it became a pirate story and it all seems ready to go. Maybe it has something to do with my new hat stands. There will be magic, some artifacts, and monsters to make it one of my stories. The only remaining question is whether it’s our world or an alternate.

Sometimes it happens this way. I didn’t think this one would be ready for a couple of years. It’s nearly there, and whatever else it needs will come to me as I’m drafting it. I went from one act that I completely reworked, to three acts that are ready to start writing. You know, after I finish the novella called Estivation.

The Hat is still selling, and the reviews are all favorable. I’m so glad that people are enjoying this one. It needs more action, but I have faith in this little story. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, click on the image in my sidebar and drop 99¢, I think you’ll be glad you did.

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Lazy day, with a mummy

We all got to sleep in, but eventually dogs must be walked and fed. It wasn’t long, but it was better than I usually get. Of course, I was up late watching my team lose another game. It’s not looking good for them now, because they must win the next three in a row to move on.

I called my parents while Old What’s Her Face went to Dutch Bros. for her coffee fix. (I make my own at the house, old school.)

When she got back, we had a nice breakfast featuring a cherry chipotle bacon we bought at Whole Foods yesterday. Not much chipotle flavor there, but it was really good.

We’ve been holding on to The Mummy, Tom Cruise version, for a long time. Today we decided to watch it. Some good, some not so good, but I enjoyed the movie.


It was a little too much like the Brendan Frasier films for me. I really enjoyed those, and I think they would have been better off to start fresh. It was basically the same story with the sexes flipped. There were some new ideas involving wind scorpions and rats, and I give them credit for that. I enjoyed the two second flash of The Book of the Dead from the earlier films. In my mind, that nod to the predecessors was all that was needed.

I got sidetracked with all the mercury in the story. I thought for sure it would flow somewhere to set off a trap once the weight reached a certain point. I was wrong. Then when they found the pool of it, I wondered if a person could actually walk across it or if they would sink. Mercury is pretty dense. None of this was part of the movie, just my imagination at work.

I got a bit frustrated with the face in the sandstorm, and the ripoff from American Werewolf in London. This is what I refer to as low hanging fruit. Maybe they should have reached a bit higher. Maybe I’ll write a Story Empire post about low hanging fruit.

I give them credit for trying with the secret society, but maybe Dr. Jekyll was a bit too much. Other than that, it was pretty cool. By the end, I decided I liked it. If you have a lazy Sunday it might be worth your time.

I got a bit more Lisa Burton Radio work done, and spent some time with a couple of outlines. I still don’t think they’re ready. I’m going to start on the novella, Estivation, very soon and it will be fine. It’s about time to start thinking up character names.

The novels just need more daydreaming effort. So far it’s been difficult to come up with the twists and turns I need.

For my science fiction piece, referred to as Grinders, I have more plot for my antagonist than my protagonist. This is going to be one where the bad guy is a bit more sympathetic than normal. He needs to get caught in his misguided deeds, but still earn some kind of possible happiness. Don’t ask, it’s complicated. This one also needs a bigger and more shadowy bad guy the protagonists can catch. I’m thinking a bio-terrorist in keeping with the theme of the story. Perhaps my bad guy can have the final piece of the puzzle and cut a deal at the end.

I’m toying with two others, and need a much larger plot for one of them. I want the whole story to be a big con game, and coming up with the clues  readers can misinterpret is proving difficult. If I can pull this off, everyone goes “Oh yeah…” at the end. I hate to say it, but some test chapters might be in order here. (I hate test chapters.)

The idea of writing a team story for a bunch of my existing characters won’t leave me alone either. I think this is bound to be a loser in some ways, because I don’t have the reader base to suck everyone in. On the other hand, it could cause readers to check out my backlist too. Maybe they like Clovis and go back to read Playground; that kind of thing. In some ways, this story is coming together faster than the others. The trick here is that every character needs his or her moment. I have a great bad guy to vanquish in mind, because it has to be bigger and more dangerous to require a team in the first place.

Estivation is next. Grinders really needs to be on deck, but I don’t know if I’ll have a good enough storyboard ready. It’s about time to take out The Hat and start slicking it up too. I’ll probably give it a couple more weeks, but it’s on my radar.

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Now what?

I got to the writing cabin late today. Old What’s Her Face had to work and the dogs let me sleep in. Since this never happens, I took full advantage.

Lisa Burton sat in the front office drinking a bottle of peroxide.

“Stop! What are you doing? Don’t you know that stuff’s poisonous?”

“Really, after all this time you don’t understand the robot part of robot-girl?”

“Then why?”

“I’ve been out stumping for Quantum Wanderlust. The hosts usually have tea or some kind of special snacks. I eat it to be polite, but my holding tank needs cleaned on occasion.” She stepped from behind her desk wearing yet another new knee length dress; black with white polka dots. She proceeded to cartwheel across the office floor.

I turned away as her dress flipped up. “Stop! Nobody wants to see that.”

“Marilyn Monroe made a statement when her dress blew up.” She placed her hands on her hips. “Would you be more comfortable if I jumped up and down instead?”

“No, I don’t think that would make me comfortable at all.” I wrapped my hand around my beard. “Tell you what. I’m going to my office and you can do whatever you need to do – out here.”

“Fine. I can’t go around smelling like I have halitosis.”

I stomped off to my office and got started. Today was singularly unproductive to be honest. I pulled up my collection of storyboards and all of them need some work. I intend to write another novella next, but want to dive deep into another novel right on its heels. Neither storyboard is ready for prime time.

Storyboarding is my way of outlining. I always write faster with a good outline/storyboard. This means I need some solid daydreaming time. I may have to turn off the radio during my commutes, because that usually attracts the Muse. I have some great ideas, some fun vignettes, even some good characters, but no story yet. At least not ones I’m content with.

I feel bad about it, because I’ve only put out The Enhanced League this year. Enhanced League did great for about two weeks then flatlined. Yak Guy is close to ready, but I want to try something different with it. Here I am facing October, usually my best month of the year, with nothing new to promote. I’m going to push some of the older stuff, and I might come up with something for the baseball playoffs. Maybe I should have started on The Hat sooner and gotten it ready for an October release. Fact is, I didn’t so there’s no use dwelling on it.

My mind is in a weird place too. I got another great review for Panama today, and Quantum Wanderlust is starting to get a few reviews. Sales are kind of dismal though. There are so many free and 99¢ titles available I don’t know what else to try to get readers. It isn’t really about the money, but it would be nice to cover the expenses in putting the books out.

I never actually step away, but this is as close as I’m going to get. I need some time with my thoughts, but those thoughts are going to be about my storyboards so I can keep writing stories. I will try to come up with something that resembles a plot and character arc for the storyboards I have. This may take a few days or it may take a few weeks. No telling.

While that’s going on, I have a list of short stories I could dabble at. It never hurts to have a few of those in the bank, and they could lead to a future Experimental Notebook.

Regrouping for me. Do any of you ever get to this phase? I never see other authors talking about it.

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Feeling pretty good about today

This will be another one of my rambling productivity posts. I'll try to ask a question or two to get the comments going. Today was only a flex day, but I feel like I had enough productivity to call it a weekend.

I started out by clearing a couple of tasks before bed last night. I also unwrapped a tea pellet to try it after it aired out for a bit. The tea today was awesome, and I skipped coffee entirely. The fishy taste is completely gone.

My main goal was to work on a beta reading project, and I moved that ahead substantially. If you've never done it, it's different than pleasure reading. I'm expected to deliver some comments and suggestions at the end. Because my memory goes everywhere, I started a document right away. I chose to do a chapter by chapter breakdown. This requires a certain amount of going back and forth. Great progress, fun story.

I took a few social media breaks, as one does. After I felt like I accomplished something, I returned to my outline.

I'm pretty excited about this story. I'm forcing myself not to start writing until I finish a couple of things up. The outline is finished enough to start writing now. I went ahead and added some photographs and reminders to the cork board, but it's ready.

I'll start the other one, and keep working on one for a novel as winter winds down. Which brings me to another point. These two stories are intended to be novella length. I've never really dabbled at that length before.

Some of my short stories may have drifted into novella territory, but realistically, they are short stories. Word counts for the various lengths are all over the place, so I made up my own based upon research, averaging, and what feels appropriate. I have novellas down as being 30,000 to 50,000 words.

So why would I want to create such a monstrosity? Sales dropped off after I stopped my autumn promotions. This is fairly predictable: no promo = no sales. The only things that seem to sell right now are the Experimental Notebooks. There could be all kinds of reasons for this, so let's explore a few.

It's possible that 99¢ books are more attractive to readers. Everyone I've talked to says price doesn't matter if they want to read the book, but my 99¢ books are the ones moving. It's also possible that short fiction is appealing. I love the stuff, because I can read one as I find time. I can make a storybook last for months without losing the plot, because the stories end after a few thousand words. In total honesty, it could also be author friends who want to test drive my writing. It happens, so I'll acknowledge it.

Speaking of the Experimental Notebooks, the first one has been parked at 19 reviews for weeks now. That's such an ugly number. Would anyone like to post a review for the first Experimental Notebook and make it look all pretty? It has a Lisa Burton story.

Novellas would combine some of my theories. They are shorter, and can be finished faster. (Reading and writing, now that I think about it.) They can also be 99¢ books. There is a possibility they could be attractive. That's why I'm planning this all out. Let's face it, self publishing gave short stories a new life, why not novellas? What do you guys think?

If it all works out, I'll go back and forth between two novellas for my summer writing projects. In a perfect world, my novel outline would be ready to start in the fall of 2017.

I'm pretty happy today. It wasn't a bunch of things, but it was bigger progress on a couple of things.

This weekend will be dedicated to The Yak Guy and The Enhanced League, but my slate is fairly clean. We're also taking the grandkids to see Sue the T-Rex at the Discovery Center. (Don't kid yourselves, I want to see it too.) Beyond writing, meaning when my brain says stop, I'll get back to my beta reading.

So how about it? What do you think about novellas? Have you ever been a beta reader? Have you seen Sue the T-Rex? Do you use a storyboard for outlining, or shun outlining all together?

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