Sundays are never good writing days for me. This is the day I call my parents, and that usually eats up a considerable part of the morning. The other bookend is when Old What’s Her Face gets home from work.
Since I just saw my parents, and they’re coming tomorrow to get the repairs finished, our conversation was short. What to do? What to do?
I cracked open the Lanternfish MS, read the two previous chapters, then started writing. James and crew are on the open ocean once more and headed for war. Piracy is a distant memory for now.
I even managed a good section with root monster antics. Today’s effort only came to 1500 words, but I like what I accomplished. Chapters have to bounce between characters since some of them are in other places right now. I feel like it was a productive day.
I also addressed the Lanternfish critiques I’ve been parked on. This chapter was about my married cons, and the game they’re working. My experts seemed to like it, but I made plenty of boneheaded mistakes to address.
I also wrote my next post for Story Empire. I’ll get it scheduled sometime this afternoon.
While none of it seems outstanding by itself, when you tally it all up, I had a pretty good writing day. I was due, and feel good about how the weekend shaped up.
My book tour will continue this week. I don’t have anyone for today. I’m just going to drop some cover art and talk about my current promotion, because it’s for a limited time.
Blurb: The Lanternfish crew completed their original mission, but got exposed to a more global problem. An entire continent is at war, headed up by a head-strong young king with dreams of power, and pushed from behind by a mysterious religious order known as the Fulminites.
Rather than let their country fall under the iron boot of conquest, James and his crew set sail once more to see what kind of muscle Lanternfish can lend to the war effort. Acting precariously under an unofficial charter as a privateer, even his allies aren’t always his friends.
HMS Lanternfish explores new worlds on its way to war, and drifts considerably off course. It features an international crew of characters, and for fans of the first book, the root monsters are back, too. Tall ships, a few con games, martial arts, and everything you loved about the original book is all returning.
Hoist the colors and wheel out the guns. Lanternfish is taking to the high seas once more.
That’s the new book and you can get it for 99¢ for a limited time.
I won’t expect you to jump into the middle of a trilogy if you haven’t already read the first book. Amazon came through on my free days. Therefore, you can also get Voyage of the Lanternfish for free, but only this week.
I’m going to mention that Serang is also part of this world. It is a stand-alone title and is based upon one of the more intriguing characters in the series. Her book isn’t on sale, but if this week plays out well, I could do something with it later this month to keep the momentum going. Here’s a link for her book.
I got to the writing cabin late this morning. It felt good to not have the alarm clock dictating my day for a change. Lisa Burton was nowhere to be seen.
There was hot coffee in the kitchen, so I helped myself, before heading to my office.
Lisa’s voice came over the intercom. “What’s it going to be today? Lizzie and the hat, or a little bit of piracy?”
I picked up my pirate hat and pulled it on. “Why do you want to know?”
“Because I want to wear the right outfit.”
I turned on my iPad, then took a seat. “I’m thinking Lanternfish today.”
“Thanks, I’ll be right there.”
I dedicated a lot of words to adjusting to a fleet of three ships. Serang’s ship still needs some things, and those had to be created. I ended that section with a pennant for her to fly and by painting the name Kirin across the rear of her ship.
This is a neat callback to her origin tale, but the language has changed. Quilin is the name from her country, but Kirin is the name from Giapon. The appearance of this magical creature always marks great change in her life. (His appearances are more symbolic than an actual animal showing up.)
Then I moved back to Lanternfish. Mule is still working on the knife he found in Giapon, and it’s going to play a larger role later in the story. He’s also trying to hide his animalistic ear from Yoshiko, who was the girl presented to James as a concubine.
Lisa showed up in her pirate gear. “Reporting for duty.”
“Cute, but you may want to put on more clothes. They’re sailing through arctic waters right now.”
“That’s bogus. Do you know how hard it is to get deliveries right now? I’ll button my vest, but I can’t get any new clothes for weeks.”
“We’ve all had to adapt.”
She looked over my shoulder. “You need to end Mule’s suffering. He obviously likes that girl, but he’s ashamed of his ancestry.”
“James isn’t going to have a clue. What do you suggest?”
“Have one of your con men tip him off. They’re supposed to be great observers.”
“Oh yeah. Then he can act like a father and try to make things right.”
Lisa left me to my own devices, so I moved the ship further into the arctic, added some tiny bits of arctic wildlife, and an encounter with the Northern Lights. The root monsters wanted to know if Saint Elbow was coming back.
James convinced them that it’s Saint Elmo, and the Northern Lights are different.
I ended my day by sailing them directly into a wall of ice that blocks the passage. The last discussion was to sail around or wait for summer.
Lisa brought in a plate with a sandwich.
“I’m having a hard time getting things right now. It’s bologna or nothing.”
“I like bologna. This won’t last forever, then we can get a variety of food and you can buy more clothes.”
It all sounds a little slow, but the delays can work to my advantage. While they’re trying to get there, the war rages on. I need the situation different so James has to adapt on the fly. I think that’s better than knowing where all the advantages are and trying to turn the tide.
I’m going to add in a monster encounter, probably tomorrow. Lanternfish has plenty of monsters and it’s been a while since one showed up. This one is going to be more like a gigantic version of something that already exists, but I may change it up a bit as I write it.
This will also provide an opportunity for the root monsters to tell the tale, because they were largely left out during the section in Giapon. I know everyone likes the root monsters, so I want to keep including them.
Right now, I have the obstacle, a supply stop, then the war. I hope to wrap it up in the traditional second book style of total disaster with a glimmer of hope. That will allow me to exploit that glimmer of hope into the third book in the trilogy.
It came to about 3500 words today. If I can write my monster encounter, then clear this obstacle, I might have enough for my critique group by tomorrow night.
I got up fairly early this morning. No particular reason today, I guess I was done sleeping.
The dogs needed to wait an extra minute while I opened a new bag of food for them. Typical morning chores, dogs, coffee, then it was time to start checking social media.
That’s when the faintest whiff of sandalwood caught my attention. I stifled a smile, but didn’t do it very well. It’s a signature scent, and can only mean one thing.
The slow clack of high heels is a sound that always makes me focus, and it was coming across my hard surface flooring. Lorelei, and she looked like an image from a magazine. She wore jeans that looked like they were painted on, with a loose fitting summer top. Then there was that huge shock of brunette hair, one befitting a minor goddess.
“What brings the Muse out today?” I asked.
“I’ve been meaning to stop by, but since you’ve been writing a little. I decided to leave you alone. When I spoke with Lisa, she said you haven’t visited the writing cabin in weeks. Your creativity feeds me, you know that. I’m feeling a little neglected.”
“Don’t be like that. I’m editing, no thanks to your damned raven. I’ve been arranging artwork, and scheduling things around publication. I even got a chance to read a couple of books.”
“That’s all lovely, but you need to keep writing. I’ve told you before, publishing is your choice. I only care that you create.”
“And I’ve told you, it would be nice to cover expenses. Book covers and promotional art costs more than I make on some books. Besides, aren’t you supposed to be sending me ideas?”
“What about all those characters you’ve parked on the island? Those were some wonderful characters, and maybe it’s time to tell their stories. There is that couple from Colonial Africa, the cops in the science fiction piece, several others.”
“I don’t know, geez. Summer is a time for more than writing. Besides, getting everything ready to publish is almost a full time job. Then I have to come up with blog tour posts, get the artwork, contact my street team…”
“Yes. You’ve already whined about that. You should try to keep focus. I think you’re a wonderful writer, or I wouldn’t waste my time with you. But… writers have to write.”
“I’ll think about it. Maybe something fun will come to me.”
“That’s all I ask. Maybe one of those storyboards you’re always talking about. Those seem to lead to a test chapter or two.”
“I’ll try. I have all day today and tomorrow.”
“There’s a good writer.” She turned and walked away, wiggling her fingers over her shoulder. “I I I I.”
“What was that you said?”
“I said, goodbye.”
“Oh, yeah. Thanks for stopping by.”
“What about you? Do you have any ideas?”
“Na, mate. Ya gotta come up with this stuff on your own.”
“Well, that was singularly unhelpful.”
“I’m just a prop, mate. But I have faith in you. I feel like you’re on the verge of one o’ them epiphanies.”
“Big words for such a little head.”
“Dun gotta get personal about it. I’m trying to help here.”
“Sorry. Maybe a ghost story or something will make her happy. I feel like I’m close, but don’t quite have it.”
“I got faith in ya, and so does the lady. Maybe that keyboard thing will put some wind in your sails.”
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.
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.
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.
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.