Tag Archives: piracy

Sunday, better than expected

I never expect to get anything done on Sundays. Even when my wife is working, I have other projects that get in the way. The first one is calling my parents.

Every Sunday since I moved to Idaho, I call my parents. There are times, like camping, where I have no signal, but it’s a regular thing. We take about an hour, and I wouldn’t trade it for a few more words on paper.

I goofed off a bit this morning before calling them. When we finished, I decided to take a look at my WIP.

I want the pirates to take a couple more ships, then sail to the pirate island of Lagarto to cash in. (Lagarto, because Tortuga was already taken.)

At this point in the story, I don’t want to detail the sea battles any more than I have to. Readers have already experienced that, and I don’t want to make it repetitive. (Other than the big one at the end.)

I briefed on the idea that they captured a ship. Then one of those magical things happened that can only happen while you’re drafting a story. It caused me to deviate from the outline, but all the same things will happen, they just won’t happen on Lagarto.

See this ship carried a bunch of raw materials for the looming war. I’m trying to avoid them capturing treasure ships and the like. They know who wants the war, and who they want it against. They decided to sell the loot to the underdogs in the war.

This includes some surplus cannon they stole in a previous stop. This ought to make them pretty popular in this port.

I can’t have this be an easy stop, because that doesn’t make for good fiction. Lagarto would have been one of those places, because they are pirates going to a pirate stronghold. However, as pirates sailing into a more standard country it won’t be that easy.

I concocted a scheme, whereby, they will have to go ashore and find some smugglers. The smugglers can contact the authorities and make the arrangements. This is not unrealistic, because privateers were an actual thing. These were pirates who operated on behalf of a king somewhere.

Then I concocted a monster to deal with while sneaking about the moors and bogs. It is a fantasy after all. I didn’t write that section yet, but may just have the root monsters relay the story.

The root monsters are becoming the keepers of the oral history of this ship. I even let them tell one of their stories using a desiccated fish head as a puppet. He gave it dialog and everything, while moving it’s jaws open and closed. Their stories are absurd, but have a grain of truth to them. They’re kind of tribal in nature.

I love it when something like that happens in a draft. The world is detailed enough, and the setting leads to things that just work better.

For those keeping score, I managed about 2500 words today. Sundays are usually about 200 editing based words.

Back to the office tomorrow, but Old What’s Her Face and I picked a couple of baskets of fresh peaches to share with our co-workers. From here on out it’s probably going to be Shaq on Shark Week, some supper, and a beer.

Advertisements

26 Comments

Filed under Writing

Reasonable day’s work

Today was my writing day. Otto got me up before six o’clock this morning, and I just went with it.

I fed the dogs, checked social media, and did the usual morning goofing off. Then I reread my last chapter, made a few corrections and got started.

My pirate crew left the pseudo-Mediterranean country, and is once more at sea. I tried to give this stop a different flavor than they had in the last country. They had to shoot their way out of port there, this time they left without a hitch.

They nearly burned down a meadery, pissed off their enemies, and did some different kind of things at this stop. I’m pretty pleased with one section where they discuss a time after piracy, and what they might do. I think it makes them more complete, because they have hopes and dreams.

Some punishments were meted out aboard the ship, but there is no taking of lashes involved. They also captured a stowaway and decided to let him stay, but he’s on probation.

I also included a fun discussion about the oral history of their voyage. The idea that their story might be told in a different way than any of them expected is kind of fun.

They’re headed for the tropics again, and this is where I need to do some thinking. They should take on another ship or two, but at this point in the story I don’t need to detail how it happens. I think readers would tire of that kind of thing this late in the book.

I may shorten up here, but build up to it by putting some stress on the captain. He and his best friend have a mission, but the rest of them expect to do a little piracy. If the captain is going to keep their loyalty, he has to consider them too. This isn’t the navy where they just beat sailors into submission. These guys expect a payoff.

Success at sea could leave to an unplanned detour too. A ship full of goods ought to be unloaded before the end game starts. This can cause a bit of stress for the main characters, because they want to get on with the end game.

Like I said, I want to think though some of this next part. Today came out at about 3000 words. Not a bad day at all.

Sundays are never great writing days, but I might manage a bit. I’m also going to pick more peaches for my wife’s workplace. I need a few more for myself too. They seem to get eaten pretty fast.

26 Comments

Filed under Writing

Daydreaming and research

Today is the last day of my vacation. I’m pretty sure to be behind at the office, and that’s gnawing at me. I have a fantastic staff, and I’m sure they covered for me, but there are some things I have to handle myself.

I’ve reached a point in my current project where I need to daydream about the next section. This seems to work better for me than freewriting my way through. Because of this, today is a day for distractions and research. I may even take a nap this afternoon.

Part of my research involved digging up the 1972 pilot episode of Kung Fu and watching it. Anything I gleaned here would be for a potential future project, but it could have some minor impact on my current story. If nothing else, it’s a good distraction. I may have to check out a few more episodes. They’re absolutely dated, and don’t have the settings of modern martial arts films, but that can be remedied in whatever I write.

I also did some more research on cannons; siege cannons in specific. These things were not portable, and most of them gained permanent placement as harbor defense weapons.

The most common way of naming these things is based upon the weight of a solid shot. This means a cast iron ball. I found several resources, and different eras and countries did things differently.

My better resource involved the standardization of British cannon sizes. Prior to this, the guns were all unique, and it made for a supply disaster. They came up with weights from four to forty-two pounds.

My story is a fantasy of sorts, so I don’t have to follow the exact rules. I like the pattern involved though, so kept to the references of a gun as being an eight pounder, or an eighteen pounder.

I also researched black powder mortars. These were used in the 1800s in both field and siege models. They fired shells as opposed to shot, meaning they were explosive. Cannon of that era were also capable of firing shells. Obviously a shell will not weigh as much as a solid shot, but I kept the naming convention anyway. Research is important for bringing bits into the story, but not if it overwhelms the story.

I’ve given you the general idea of how big these things were, now let’s talk about siege guns. Imagine a muzzle loading cannon that fires a 1080 pound shot. It took 200 pounds of black powder to fire it. (Who got to lift the ball into the gun?)

Siege mortars also existed. The biggest ones fired a 137 pound shell nearly two and a half miles. Remember the shell weight is lighter than the shot weight. This might be classed as a 200 pound gun.

This is where writing a fantasy helps. Most of this data is from the 1800s. The era I’m writing about is earlier than that. It most likely would have fallen back when all the guns were unique. I took the liberty of massaging a bit. This way they can capture guns and munitions with a reasonable hope of being able to use them.

There were rockets back then too. Those are even referenced in our National Anthem. (USA) These were usually inaccurate fizzling devices that proved pretty worthless. Their best hope was to start a fire somewhere. I wove a couple of those into my story, and made them just as worthless as they sound.

I had the privilege of visiting Fort McHenry when I was in Baltimore years ago. That’s where the song lyrics came into being. It was bombarded with ship born mortars, and I got to see some shell fragments. The advantage to mortars is they fly over a wall and blow up inside the fort. Cannons don’t do well against earthen forts.

Don’t know why I decided to share all this with you today, but maybe some of you will find it interesting.

If you managed to read this far, I have one more piece of data. There are two Lisa Burton Radio shows scheduled for July, and one who asked for a special date in August. That’s it…

Lisa needs more guests, and I would love to get a few in the works. I’m not going to run out her sign shaker image this time, because last time I got too many responses. Authors started to get mad and dropped out after I did 100% of my part. There are still half a dozen shticks out there somewhere that the author never responded to.

If you have a new release, or are planning a push, drop me a line and maybe we can get you on the schedule. It’s been a pretty popular spot and I’d like to keep it available for everyone.

24 Comments

Filed under Writing

Not quite so organized

I stayed up past eleven o’clock last night watching my baseball team lose another game. They lost again today. Sometimes I think the only time they lose is when I can watch. It’s a powerful burden to carry a curse.

With that in mind, I hoped to sleep in a bit, but Otto wasn’t having it. Whenever he gets table scraps in his bowl, he can only hold out so long. My day started at six.

I tried not to do anything too heavy until after I called my parents this morning. After reading Father’s Day blogs, I really am blessed to still have them around.

I moved into writing by rereading what I came up with the day before. A few minor edits, and I was ready for new words.

The words didn’t come as easy today. I had to search back for some of the commitments I’d already made. Things like how many guns this ship was designed to hold. Gear certain characters have available to them. That kind of thing.

I also had to research the language of root monsters. Let’s face it, I’m making it up on the fly, but once I commit, I need to be consistent with it. This also revealed an inconsistency in the way I spelled some of their words, so I fixed it.

The biggest accomplishment was updating the “cast of characters” sheet so I have this data readily available.

On the momentum side, the root monsters declared war on seagulls. The cook declared war on root monsters, and my main character had to deal with all of it. Bay frogs were cooked and eaten.

There is a tropical storm brewing, and they sailed out to get ahead of it. The couple who got together had to figure out how to be together aboard the ship, but that was pretty easy.

There might be a use for the skin of bay frogs. They’re pretty big, like roast turkey big. Might make a cool look for some leather items. Frog skin gauntlets? Frog skin chicharones?

I’m debating whether the new character, Serang needs a magical fu dog at her disposal. That might be drifting too far into the magical stuff, but it’s added diversity too. What’s scarier, a realistic looking fu dog, or one that’s bronze with a green patina? They’re also supposed to come in pairs, so maybe she needs one of each.

Now that I think about it, that’s a lot of work from nine o’clock to noon. That’s when Old What’s Her Face got off work today.

She went to the store and went seafood crazy. We googled a recipe for grilled oysters. They turned out good, but they weren’t New Orleans good. This might have to do with living in Idaho instead of next door to actual oyster beds.

She also bought a few king crab legs. I’m stuffed right now.

My hands are kind of buggered up from shucking oysters and trying to coax king crab out of its shell. For those who don’t know, king crabs are kind of spiky.

I’m off tomorrow, but so is she. I may get some new words down, but I’m not making big plans.

Hope everyone had a nice Father’s Day. I called my dad. If you still have access to yours, you should too.

34 Comments

Filed under Writing

Odd day to update

I had to change my work week around. This led to me getting Tuesday as my flex day. I kind of expected to get a lot done, but it never felt quite right. Sometimes you just have a feeling.

Otto tried to get me started early, but I got him to go back to sleep. I didn’t get up until 7:00.

This is still okay, but the dogs were well rested and crazy for a few hours. Think of a moving battle that rolls from room to room and across the floor. They’re just playing, but bulldog style has to be witnessed to be appreciated. Imagine two hippos with mouths wide open. They growl and rush at each other before a lengthy pushing match ensues.

I wound up reading through the last two chapters of Lanternfish and making some edits. I discovered an odd bit about paying off the crew when they got to the pirate stronghold. It’s all fixed now, but it took some thought and experimentation.

I also dreamed up a few more scenes to bring into the story somehow. Then I drifted off into research.

This time it’s about jellyfish. How they work, which parts do what; that kind of thing. It’s probably going to lead to a jellyfish that’s several miles wide, and big enough to get a ship stuck for days. It’s also big enough to ensnare an entire pod of whales. It’s a work in progress, so we’ll see how that comes out after a bit of improvement.

I’m also working on bits about the root monsters vs seagulls, and vs the ship’s cook. May, or may not, include them.

My daughter was home today, so we spent most of the day talking. For some reason I can daydream and say, “Uh huh,” at the same time. (I think it’s a Dad thing.) Her last day at the Boise job is tomorrow, she starts in Sun Valley again Sunday.

The cat will be moving with her. He was pretty funny today too. He attacked the dogs and ran upstairs. He’s quite the little antagonist. He likes to hide between the throw pillows while Frankie tries to draw him like a badger.

I can’t complain about today’s outcome. It will be the last big visit with my daughter for a while, and it was nice. My story is between acts, and at a transition phase. It’ll keep.

Things might be quiet on my front for the next few days, but Lisa Burton Radio is all scheduled and ready to go. I will respond to comments and such as time allows, but will be with colleagues in McCall and my time is not my own.

36 Comments

Filed under Writing

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.

33 Comments

Filed under Writing

A little catching up

The blog tour ended some time ago. THE HAT is still selling in some degree. I did have a blank day, but only one. That seems to be the way of all my releases. They spike as my friends spread the word, then drop off. Still, those seventeen positive reviews might help me out a bit.

Before I get into my weekend plans, I’m going to suggest that not everyone is into the Superbowl. If you’re one of them, you could probably read THE HAT from start to finish before the game ends. The cover in the side bar is a link.

Today was my flex day, which gives me a three-day weekend. I spent today working on Lisa Burton Radio stuff and reading. It looks like tomorrow will be more of the same. That should clean up the interviews I have working, and finish the wonderful book I’ve been reading.

I am going to surf through some active storyboards at some point. I’ve gotten a lot of decent ideas from Lorelei, the Muse, lately. I want to leave a few sticky notes at minimum, and may do more than that on a couple of them.

If the stars line up, I may even add a chapter to ESTIVATION. This is the second novella I have planned and it is a suspense story with a science fiction background. I don’t feel rushed at all with this one. THE HAT is out there, THE YAK GUY PROJECT is a finished product playing a waiting game. I have all year to finish ESTIVATION, and like I said, it’s a novella.

I’d like to start stockpiling some more short stories, but I’m not exactly feeling it right now. There is a pretty good chance that I’ll dive into another novel after I finish it. This one is a pirate story, but it needs to spend act one not being a pirate story. This is because the main character has to spend some time trying to be his father before realizing that he’s not. He is his own person, and has a different skill-set that might solve the big problem. Right now, I’m debating whether this is a deal killer. You put a pirate ship on the cover and people expect some piracy right off the bat.

Lisa would look good as a pirate, wouldn’t she?

Something will come to me. It always does. Besides, I should do something more with THE HAT, and I should find something to do with THE ENHANCED LEAGUE. Pitchers and catchers report to camp in two weeks. Unless someone offers a cool suggestion this might amount to a free period around Spring Training somehow. It cracks me up how a 99ยข book gets ignored, but if you offer it for free – people scoop them up like M & Ms. I’ve gained reviews from free copies too. This is one of those places where I’m inclined to just accept it and go with it.

You guys remember THE ENHANCED LEAGUE, right? Any really good promotional ideas you can spout?

Lisa Burton

40 Comments

Filed under Writing