Tag Archives: planning

Some parts are more difficult

I’m still on my hiatus from drafting new material. The Muse sent me a bunch of future material and that’s been going great. I have two decent storyboards for stand alone tales. I also have three for stories about Lizzie and the hat.

The concluding story of Lanternfish still needs some work. Dealing with con men is harder that you might think. It requires a kind of mind game with the readers as well as the characters in the story.

I’m not sweating this yet and if I don’t start drafting something before December, I can live with that.

What is coming harder is any kind of comedy. I have faith in myself, but that will only get me so far. A lot of it comes to me as I write, but I usually have some antics in mind long before I start. Right now, I’ve got nothing.

This involves the relationship between Lizzie and the hat, but also the root monsters. As a buddy story, Lizzie and the hat will be easier to deal with. I have three reasonable plots and if I started writing today, they would be fine.

People love the root monsters from Lanternfish, and they need to shine as the trilogy comes to an end. I really hope I haven’t revealed all their tricks yet. I have a neat denouement in store for them, but that only helps at the end. They need purpose and humor as the tale unwinds.

One thing I’m toying with is to give them a tiny character arc. Instead of being told what to do, maybe they can start grasping what is happening and make some choices on their own. I’m not married to this idea, and as comedy relief, it kind of goes against all the rules.

What I really need are some root monster vignettes that sometimes come to me in dreams. Then I can sort through those and decide what could work in the story. I’m on the verge of reading HMS Lanternfish from start to finish as part of my editing process. That could spark some things, and you can bet I’ll have a notes app handy.

I’m 80% of the way through the book I’ve been reading, and that will signal time for editing. I might even do my traditional word searches in the evenings while Old What’s Her Face is watching television. I find that not focusing makes that go better. I miss common spelling errors when I get wrapped up in the story.

I sound like I have a plan, but I really don’t. I just know that I want Lanternfish out this summer, before it gets swallowed up with promotion for my Halloween oriented tale.

I hope everyone out there is being safe, and getting to enjoy some of the things you like.

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Vacation and the Muse

I went over the next chapter of Mrs. Molony before sending it out to my critique group. I admit it was a little rough, but the hours are dwindling on my vacation. Back to the real world tomorrow.

A whiff of sandalwood caught my attention. I got up from my desk and followed it like a bloodhound. Lorelei, the Muse waited in the main office.

“Where is your little assistant? Don’t tell me I’ve missed her.”

“Lisa is with Sean Harrington, making art.” I gave her a quick glance from her high heels, past her designer jeans, to the top of her long curly hair. “Haven’t seen you around here, lately.”

“You committed to series work, and I didn’t feel like you needed me. As long as you’re being creative, sometimes it’s better to get out of your way.”

“Well, I could use you now. I looked over my old storyboards and don’t have a lot to add. Then I tried to start boards for the final Lanternfish story, and the next Hat tale. It isn’t looking too good.”

She pulled me into a hug. “Aww. You’ve been on a break for a little over a week. Maybe you should give it more time.”

I fumbled a bit before speaking. She is a minor goddess, and pretty fit to boot. “Yeah, but you’d think all my ideas would fill a board.”

“I snooped. You have plenty of things for Lanternfish. The Hat series tends to be shorter. I think you’re going to be fine.”

“I need turning points for Lanternfish. There’s some cool stuff, but I haven’t been able to fit it into three-act structure. I haven’t even come up with things for many of the crew to be involved in. So far it’s just James and Serang, with a bit of the Palumbos. I need things for the other characters, particularly the root monsters. I need ways to hide any big cons that might be happening.”

“It’s only been a week. Relax. Things will come to you. You may find yourself inspired after I leave today. That’s kind of how Muses work.”

“And what’s with all the ideas for The Hat? I have more ideas than I can write in several years. Don’t want it to grow stale for readers. I’m trying to write one per year. I have two years worth of storyboards, and a solid idea for one after those.”

“Don’t be such a baby. I know you like those characters, and you enjoy writing their adventures. I may have visited your dreams a few times, but they are solid ideas.”

“That seems kind of invasive. Maybe I wanted to see you.”

“Maybe you wanted to look at me. There’s a difference. You’ve been extremely busy, and it feels like solid work. Enjoy your break. Add to the storyboards as interesting things occur to you.”

I paused, looking at her wasn’t exactly horrifying. She looked every inch the Greek Goddess, even in modern clothing. “At least there is an end in sight for Lanternfish.”

“It’s your first series, and it will be your first complete series. You should be proud of that. Then you’ll have room for your stand-alone books.”

“It would be nice to spend some time on those. I have one storyboard that’s three years old.”

“You will. Give yourself a few months. I’m sure you’ll start the Lanternfish book before the year ends. Try to enjoy yourself.” She swirled her wrist, and a crystal goblet appeared in her hand. “Aren’t you going to offer me a drink?”

I grabbed my beard and thought. “We’re all stocked up on cheap boxed wine. Lizzie St. Laurent seems to thrive on the stuff. Either that or one of her Monster energy drinks.”

“Let’s brave the wine. Maybe you ought to stock some better supplies out here.”

“Like I said, Lisa is working away from home today and I’m a little short.”

“There are delivery services in your modern world. Phone something in, and I expect a little better stock the next time I appear.”

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For my next amazing stunt…

My presentation went well, and my work week ended on a high note. The drive home was uneventful, and the wildlife all but disappeared.

I’m kind of a curmudgeon when it comes to technology. I go all in on things that interest me, but avoid other parts of it. I didn’t want to take the time pairing my phone with the company car, so I made both drives in total silence. When I take my truck, I usually have my Lizzie and The Hat playlist blasting.

Funny thing about those silent drives. This is when Lorelei the Muse joins me and we have great conversations. There is no set path, and we bounce from project to project. I came up with some neat ideas for the post-apocalyptic thing I have partially storyboarded. I have some root monster ideas for the next Lanternfish story, and may have partially solved a geographical problem I discovered. Even Lizzie and The Hat were topics and I have some ideas about them, too.

Old What’s Her Face has to work today, so I had a morning to myself. I spent the time finishing the draft of Grinders. I’m just shy of 77,000 words. I think that’s a good length for a modern-day stand-alone novel. I like the way it came out. Story threads wrapped up, and there is some hope for the future. Even the animals got a half page epilogue to give them some closure.

After the first draft of Grinders, I tried to read all the blogs I missed from my road-trip. I admit to not commenting everywhere, and some of you only got a “like” and a tweet. I’m not even going to try catching up on Twitter.

I’m sure there will be a session of paying those damned bills today. We might even squeeze in a date night of some kind.

I have a loose plan for the future, but am not committing to very much. Grinders needs to go into the fermenter for a while. I’ll probably read everything I have of HMS Lanternfish tomorrow. That will put me back in the right mindset, and help me add words when I get another flex day.

I owe a few people some reads, and may carve out time for that. Part of me wants to start another side project immediately, but it doesn’t feel right. I have a new story about Lizzie and The Hat that could fill that slot. Lanternfish has been patiently at anchor since September, and I need to move that project along. I promised a trilogy, and Serang will only keep people distracted for so long. I must release a Lanternfish story in 2020.

Serang seems to be doing well, but could always use more reviews. I never intended to push her as hard as Viral Blues, but a couple more tour posts wouldn’t hurt. Maybe I’ll dig through my list and see if there’s someone I haven’t bothered in a while to host me. I still have one fresh new Lisa Burton poster I haven’t revealed to anyone. I can use it here, but I like to send her to other sites.

My early thought is Lanternfish can fill the rest of 2019 quite well. I need to think about what kind of cover and artwork I want for Grinders, set the money aside, then contact Sean. If I do this right, it could be out at the end of Winter or early Spring. By only working on Lanternfish, I have time for budgeting, thinking, and planning out my 2020 goals.

I guess my next amazing stunt is to dial it down a bit. Lanternfish lets me keep a hand in, but there are other things on my horizon, too. Winter feels like the right time for this. Do any of you take a step back this time of year?

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How do you like your apocalypse?

I have a question for all of you. I have a storyboard going, and it’s been growing like crazy. It’s probably going to get bumped up on my list.

Right now it’s just a loose collection of index cards with cool ideas to use in the story. There is a plot, and a smidgen of character arc. I also have a Pinterest board that I’ve been saving visuals in.

The story is going to be post-apocalyptic fiction. As I dwell on my setting, I have a lot of ways to take this, so: How do you like your apocalypse?

The question is two-fold. There is a when factor as well as a why factor. I’ll take them in that order.

When?:

• During

• Right after

• Moderately after

• Generations after

There are advantages and disadvantages here. During gives you all the madness as an obstacle to deal with. That can also be a disadvantage, because maybe your plot doesn’t involve the zombie horde. I’ve also already published something that had a “far after” vibe to it, so that isn’t likely to happen again. (Ref: The Yak Guy Project.)

I’m leaning toward moderately after. The disaster is over, looting has already happened, but some gleaning of items is still possible. Any gangs of looters have long since shot each other. Doesn’t mean criminals aren’t around, but not the mob mentality of the initial disaster.

Still, the question is for you as I talk my way through this. Consider the timeframe in your suggestions.

Why?

• Disease

• Zombies

• War

• Pollution

• Asteroid impact

• Evolution

• Climate change

• Famine

• AI takeover

• Aliens

• Who cares?

I won’t break these down individually for the sake of space. Suffice it to say, while I love zombies, I’ve kind of walked that path. I’m leaning toward the “Who Cares” option and just plunking the story down in the leftover environment. Readers would probably get pissed if I didn’t glance off the cause in some fashion.

Again, the question is for you today. Consider why in your responses.

I have the whole concept set in swamp country. (Haven’t seen anyone do that yet.) I want to have some scrounging possible, but also bartering, and shops where the better scrounged goods can be purchased. I’m looking for a return to horse power, and I mean the kind with hooves. This probably eliminates robots and aliens from the mix.

I’ve already researched the possibility of naturalized species, invasive species, native species, and more. Alligators and rattlesnakes are a cinch for this tale. Add in the python problem, a few wild hogs, and it sounds like a great place to drop a story. Then there are the crazy weather disasters along the southern coast, and I have plans for some of that, too.

Back to the question of the day: How do you like your apocalypse?

In other news, I dabbled on my task list today. Trimmed the peach tree until the battery died on the Sawsall, finish it tomorrow. Bought the book I want to read, and worked my way through the formatting of Viral Blues. Sent an email detailing issues. I never cracked HMS Lanternfish, and I regret that. I kind of got sidetracked by this post.

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Make a plan, work the plan

This post poses a conundrum for me, because it could fit into Story Empire, too. It winds up here, because it’s partially about my vacation plans. This one is another stay-cation for me. I want to write and just get some down time.

I’ve gotten to a place in writing where I can get a lot done, and there are a few tricks involved. These take time to farm, but harvesting them really speeds things up. First, I have about six storyboards going at all times. This doesn’t leave me pondering what I might write next. This is a common problem among fiction writers. Think of this like a farm, because it’s a long term project. Some boards are complete, others are partially complete, and some are just a collection of loose notes on index cards. Whenever a decent idea hits me, I make an index card and add it to the appropriate board. (Or start a new one.) Today, when I finish one project, I can dive right into the next one.

Next is my Pinterest app. I don’t know too many authors who use Pinterest, because all of the focus is on promotion. I don’t tend to use it like that. I have character boards, setting boards, and more specific ones like Pirates, or The Hat. When I surf through them, I get a lot of inspiration for my stories. It’s nice to refer to when describing a visual aspect of a tale.

Third is my new concept of more than one story at a time. I’m learning that it’s possible, and super productive. My current theory is to make them very different stories. Character traits don’t seem to bleed over this way, and character arcs don’t get muddled because the stories are so different.

My vacation starts tomorrow, and won’t return me to the office until next Thursday. Now I need some kind of plan.

  • I need to cut down a significant portion of my peach tree. This isn’t productive on the writing front, but works well on the staying married front.
  • Hauling the tree residue away has to be part of this mix, and is a chore in itself.
  • I need to buy and read one book. This one is a short read, and ought to work well for me. Then there are reviews to post on multiple fronts, too. Copy and paste helps here.
  • HMS Lanternfish hasn’t even set sail yet. It’s time to stock her with pirates and supplies, then hit the open sea. I’d love to get 30,000 words down, but 20K might be more realistic.
  • I need to get some blog posts written for The Viral Blues. It will be release time before I know it, and I want to be ready. Might hit up some of my favorite hosts to check their availability during my break, too.
  • There is a loose plan for some group promo at Story Empire. I need to dedicate some thought to that, and see what kind of posts I might need.
  • I have the formatted manuscript for Viral Blues in hand. I need to check it on every program I have. Stories about Lizzie and the hat have a few silly graphics as part of the shtick. These can be a nightmare formatting wise. Again, I want to be ready. I won’t know for sure until I push it through Amazon’s machinery, but any errors I can identify now will make that part easier.
  • Blurb writing. (La la la. I can’t hear you.)

I’m probably leaving stuff out, but that’s how it goes sometimes. I’m hoping to take full advantage of the Halloween season for Viral Blues. I’m still waiting on a couple of Lisa Burton promo posters, and should have the last ones in time. This means the easy link for The Yak Guy Project will be replaced by one for Viral Blues. If you haven’t read Yak Guy, all you have to do is click that cover image in the sidebar. He’ll live forever on Amazon, but you’ll have to go looking for him.

I’m still considering a pre-release for Viral Blues. My results with these have been mixed. What is the current consensus with you guys? Do pre-release books gain your attention, or just annoy you?

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A different kind of effort

I got to the writing cabin late today. The dogs let me sleep in, and I didn’t feel the pressure to get anything in particular accomplished. Don’t get me wrong, I had a list.

I worked my way into the paranormal office and decided upon the chair and ottoman instead of Patty Hall’s old desk. My back is still bugging me this week.

Lisa showed up with coffee.

Lisa Burton

“Thanks, you’re a lifesaver.”

“What are we working on today?”

“I’m going to read through The Viral Blues. I need to make a list of those silly little graphics to see what I have to order.”

“I wore my hat so I could help you.”

“I see that, but I don’t think that one appears in this story.”

“Do you want me to change? I have a closet full of them.”

“It’s fine. Honestly, I’m just reading mostly.”

Doubt, the raven, soared in on silent wings landing on my chair back.

“Do your damndest. I don’t think you can distract me today.”

Brrrrrr. Kaw. Kaw, Kaw.

Lisa walked to the haunted window and opened it. Today’s image was of a bunch of hillbilly vampires at an old shack. “What do you suppose he means?”

“No idea. I don’t speak raven. He’s not going to get to me today.”

“If you’re just reading, I have an episode of Lisa Burton Radio I can work on.”

“Whatever you need, just keep the coffee hot.”

Lisa went to take care of her business.

I finished my read through. There were several sentences without periods and odd caps in the middle of sentences. I fixed them, but they are obvious cut and paste errors. I might have to do one more pass on this one.

I also completed my list of graphics. I’ll get those to Sean Harrington after the cover shows up. I’m still worried about having all the promotional stuff by September.

My next step will be to send this one off to the formatter, but I need the graphics first. That’s something to keep in mind as this unfolds. I like to get everything ready ahead of time.

I spent the rest of my day reading a short story. My reading always seems to fall behind, but this summer I might get a bit accomplished.

Hope all of you are having a wonderful weekend.

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It starts with a blog post

It doesn’t look like there’s going to be any new fiction from my keyboard this weekend. This is because I have a lot of blog commitments right now. It only seemed appropriate to start off with a blog post too. Make no mistake, this post also helps me organize my work plan so I can keep track of it all.

I have to work up one of Lisa’s shticks and send it to the author. We go back and forth on the interviews, and I need to serve it her direction.

I don’t want to saddle a guest with the week between holidays, so I’ll probably make a Lisa Burton Radio slot about my own works to hold the spot. I have books too, so why not?

This is the time of year to write a couple of posts that have proven popular over the years. The first one is a year end assessment. It’s a thought about what worked, and what didn’t during 2018.

The other one is a 2019 business plan. I usually write these in my word processor so I can dwell on them and spend a couple of days before I schedule them.

I have two posts coming up over at Story Empire, so of course, I haven’t even thought about them. One is Christmas Eve, so I might get by with some well wishes and such. I can probably cobble together a conclusion to the series I started about writing small, medium, and large for the other one.

I probably ought to do a Christmas post over here too. I have a couple of old Lisa Burton Christmas posters and might recycle one of those.

All told, there’s a whole lotta blogging goin’ on. It’s a short weekend for me, and that’s about all I can manage.

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Planning and scheming

This is my flex day. I mentioned before that I work ten hour days, and get a rotating day off each week. We get the occasional three day weekend out of the deal, and this is one of mine. It also allows for a bit of manipulation if you watch the calendar. That’s what I’ve done for November.

My next flex day is Wednesday the 7th. I took vacation on the 8th and 9th. This means I’m off from the 7th through the 12th, because the 12th is a holiday. Burn 20 hours of vacation and get six days off. Not a bad deal.

This weekend is going to be all about clearing the decks. We’re taking the camper to have it winterized this afternoon. Since we got paid, we’ll probably work in date night. I can still get my Halloween tee shirt at Old Chicago if we hurry, and that’s likely where we’ll end up. Probably time to coil up the hoses and drain the water heater to keep ahead of the silt. I might even get a haircut, just to get it out of the way.

I’ll have time to work on some Lisa Burton Radio slots if anyone is interested. The recent ones have produced really well. Some of that has to do with the book being presented, but also the involvement of the author. The last few authors have shared everywhere, and are still sharing everywhere. I see the click throughs to Amazon too. Lisa could use another few guests right now.

I’ll probably keep polishing up Lanternfish this weekend.

During my vacation I want to hit it hard. There is a new story I started, and my work life just didn’t allow me time to do much with it. If I clear the decks this weekend, my vacation time is wide open to make some real progress.

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For my next amazing stunt…

Story Empire is the group blog I belong to. Today, I’m holding down the fort over there and discussing those times when an author isn’t drafting new material. This post is intended to be a companion piece to that post. I’d appreciate it if you guys would also check out the Story Empire post, because it goes over other things than where I’m taking this one.

I have a bit of soul searching about what I might tackle next. I have no intention of starting a new draft before December, November at the earliest. It takes time to whip the storyboard into shape, and I want to be as productive as possible when I finally open a new project.

One of my mantras is: “Write the story you want to read next.” It’s served me well over the years, and keeps the task fun. The downside is that my mind moves around a lot. I write science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal stories. I like to switch things up.

The beauty of a group blog, like Story Empire, is that I get to hang out with people who are smarter than I am. Some of them have pointed out that I don’t have a series. I’ve covered a lot of bases; short story collections, novella, novels… no series. Some of my characters have returned via the short story, like Lisa Burton, or Pete from Will O’ the Wisp.

Still, they’re right… no actual series. I can’t see myself being focused long enough to write a long series, but still; throw JK Rowling kind of money my way and I’m your huckleberry. I might take a stab at a trilogy, but that would likely be my limit. Part of the problem is keeping the setting, characters, and plot entertaining.

I’m going to write this next part out as much for myself as you guys, but it opens the topics up for debate. I’d kind of like to hear what you have to say. Here are the things in my pipeline.

The one I may never write: This is an African adventure set in the colonial era. It will involve black magic, at least three kinds of opposition, and a bit of romance. (A new test for me.) It will also involve the safari. Because people have unrealistic views about hunting today, I may never write it. I don’t want to deal with knee jerk reactions to the hunting of fictional animals. I have some wonderful settings, scenes, and deceptions for this one, but I may have to add it to the scrap pile.

Score this one as more down side than up.

Grinders: This is a cyberpunk tale involving those who perform enhancement surgeries on themselves and each other. This stuff goes on today, and I can push it to an extreme in a science fiction environment. Imagine lots of neon, holographic advertising, and way too many people. I can dabble with where the internet world may take us one day. This might include cyber shut-ins who never leave their apartment. Drone deliveries, vitamin D deficiencies, and more.

Score this one as a plus in the story department, but not maybe career enhancing for me at this point.

The Group Project: I’ve had a lot of requests for a return of both Clovis from The Playground, and Lizzie St. Laurent and The Hat. It occurred to me they could exist in the same universe. They need other characters to interact with, and there are quite a few of my existing characters who could play a role here. This evolved, in my mind and on a storyboard, into something like an Avengers story only with a paranormal background.

Score this one in the middle somewhere, because I’ve never seen anyone do something like it before. The benefit to my career could be to interest readers in my backlist. Maybe a fan of The Hat picks it up, because it will be a sequel to The Hat. As they read it, they decide Lisa Burton is more interesting than they thought and want to pick up her novel. Or it could irritate readers, because Lizzie and the hat have to share the stage with other characters.

Another Lanternfish story: I just finished the draft of Lanternfish yesterday, but this world is ripe for another story. There is a war going on, and involvement of the pirates in the war could prove interesting. Yes, it’s a fantasy, but real things happened along this line and adds some credibility to them getting involved.

Score this one a bit of plus and a bit of minus. I feel this way, because nobody has read Voyage of the Lanternfish yet. If it flops, I don’t want to put six or seven months into a sequel. If it succeeds, the time for a sequel is upon me. It would head me down that path toward a trilogy. Lanternfish is the first one I’ve written that I feel could support a trilogy. (Sequels yes, but an actual trilogy is what I’m talking about.)

***

Those are the main possibilities, but they have to be looked at with a longer vision too. It is possible to write another Novella about Lizzie and the hat. This might be done a bit faster and satisfy their fans. Then I could focus on one of the other stories. I have an additional idea that could become a story pretty easily.

I could look at a third Experimental Notebook. That lets my mind bounce from tale to tale, which I enjoy. Then I could knuckle down and focus on some kind of sequel.

I also have a loose idea for a novella called Serang. She is a character from Lanternfish, and this would be her prequel story. The merit here is to satisfy any Lanternfish fans I might get while then writing one of the other novels.

Are fans willing to wait on sequels these days? I know all about George RR Martin, but I don’t quite have his kind of fan base. Would readers be satisfied with a trilogy that takes three years to deliver? These days, authors are pressed to publish more rapidly than ever before. If readers would stick around that long, I could squeeze some other stories between these and keep myself happy at the same time.

Keep in mind that I’m good for about two publications per year. With Lanternfish finished, I might put out three in 2019… maybe.

These are the things I have to sort out between now and late November. Before that, actually, if I’m going to spend some quality time on that storyboard.

What do you folks think? I know there is no correct answer here, and that I ultimately have to decide. I’m open to a bit of debate, and it may help me figure something out.

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Date night, etc.

We’re flat broke right now, which is becoming a common situation. We’ve been holding a gift card we received at Christmas and today was the day to use it. It’s to an upper level restaurant called Barbacoa.

They seated us on the shady patio right beside the lake. Here is the view from our table.

Our meal was wonderful, and it was nice to spend some quiet time away from the house even for a couple of hours.

On the writing front, I still managed around 1800 words today. I used the voyage to create a lull between the action scenes, but kept things lively enough so they aren’t boring.

They arrived in a neutral country with the intent of conducting business. This is the one I think needs a better name. I’m calling it Tusconi for now, but hope to change it later.

Tusconi is a neutral country, and intends to keep it that way. They do business with everyone.

Lanternfish is at anchor, but they are under multiple fifty-pound siege cannons from the Tusconi, Tuscans, Tuskers, whatever I can call them.

Their enemies are also at anchor in the harbor, and other guns are covering them. Tusconi will buck no hostile activity, and yet the crackling energy is present. Any hostilities between these enemies would be fatal at the hands of the siege guns.

I use a storyboard, but all I have about this stop is the crew picking up ordinance. I need to figure out a different kind of tension for this section. Everything doesn’t have to be naval battles at sea. (But I still need to figure it out.)

My hope is to engage in some snotty dialog with the enemy captain or something. I might be able to mislead them as to where Lanternfish is headed somehow. Maybe learn more from them than they intend to give.

Maybe my pirates can goad the enemy into starting a fight, and let them pay the price for doing so. Could work.

It’s a different kind of section, and I may need a different mindset to get through it. Tusconi is even welcoming to monsters as long as they behave. The root monsters never behave. It might be fun to have them running around in plain sight for a change.

I’m pretty happy with my last fictional country, so my fingers are crossed here. If it takes me longer to work this section, so be it. I am not giving myself any deadlines on this one.

After they leave, they will be fully equipped and armed. The story will change to one of active pursuit of the end goal, with enough muscle to back it up. I’ll probably let them engage in a bit of piracy along the way.

While the end goal applies to the main characters, the bulk of the crew is looking to get rich at some point. A happy pirate crew tends to follow orders as opposed to one that wonders what’s in it for them.

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