This is an odd one for me. Basically, I’ve switched to watching almost exclusively Korean shows on Netflix. I like them because they present new ways of looking at things, but still retain a semblance of plot and character growth.
They have a lot of fantasy and supernatural tales, and aren’t afraid to dabble in sophomoric humor, so you can further see the appeal to me. I started watching a new one last night involving a fantastic creature trying to become human. At one point he said, “I don’t think like humans.”
This stuck with me. When we write, even our aliens and fantastic creatures have to be presented for human readers. We have to put things in their language. However, this could be a relatively cool plot point in itself.
I intended to work on my Space Opera this morning, but I’m dwelling on the possibilities for characters who aren’t human. I have Percy the Space Chimp and his human girlfriend specifically in mind.
The natural flow of a trilogy is introduction to the world and environment along with some characters and an introduction to the struggle in book one. This one is already written.
Book two is where the bottom falls out. The enemy has some victories, and things start to fall apart for the heroes. This is what I will be working on this year.
My focus is book two, but to finish the thought, book three involves a regrouping with little hope of success, and even a possible suicide mission, that manages to overcome the great evil. For an example reflect upon the original Star Wars Trilogy.
Here I am in book two. Percy is only part human, and I have a perfect alien character to lead him into the idea of not thinking like a human. This can cause problems in his relationship, his loyalty to the cause, and his leadership ability.
What I wound up doing was deleting about 500 words from this project, because I like the idea of where this new thought could take me. This means I need to spend some time in the daydreaming phase, and it’s perfectly okay here. It’s Sunday, and not like I’m squandering my best writing opportunities away. Maybe by next week, I can get this story really moving.
Leave me some comments. Do you watch any K-dramas? What do you think about classic trilogies? Are you a fan of “pull my finger” comedy? Have you ever had a negative word count day?
After my reading binge yesterday, I had no agenda today. I earmarked time to talk with my mother, and we spent two hours on the phone. No rush. No squandered time.
I’ve got this character that’s been screaming at me for attention. She only has the vaguest outline of a plot, but she’s really interesting. Today I went down the research rabbit hole for her.
I spent my day learning about newsroom hierarchy, cattle mutilations, rare earth minerals. Double checked the locations of the Green River Killer. I spent an hour learning about radioactive prospecting by geologists, and shopped for scintillators. These things are better than Geiger counters and have even been used from low flying aircraft to identify ore bodies. Even made up a joke about them.
Research led me to common items in every home that will give off a radioactive signal. Things like several fruits and vegetables, smoke detectors, granite countertops, bricks, ceramics, and our cell phones. Cigarette smoke is radioactive, but vapes aren’t. No idea why that might be important, but it’s something I learned about today. A scintillator will pick up these light duty readings where a Geiger counter will not.
Botox and fillers took up a brief section of time. My character is going to be an aging television reporter whose looks are fading along with her desirability on camera. She wants more out of life. She wants to do hard news. I gave her a great weird habit that I think some might relate to. (Weird is kind of what I do.)
I invented a son for my MC, and decided she’s a war widow. This had me learning about audiologists, audiology technicians, and even Foley artists. What kind of college courses might be needed in these fields? I’ll have to make some of this up on the fly.
I’m getting close to what looks like a plot, but it isn’t ready for a storyboard just yet.
I need some kind of shadowy figure or a group to add tension as the rest unfolds. Why are they following her? Probably federal types, but it could also be something related to a tech billionaire. The kind who send rockets into space.
I scratched out some notes about a mentor type character. My MC can’t go from fluff pieces (or weather girl) to investigative journalism all at once. I like the idea of a disgraced newsman trying to live in obscurity. Maybe he was a fanny patter after that became newsworthy and he took the fall.
Sometimes I just need to get things out of my head. I’ve been known to make these sheets for stories that never get written. Sometimes they take two years before I turn them into something. Working ahead has served me well over the years. Then again, I might start drafting this next weekend. Who knows.
As the work week ended, I knew I had a bachelor weekend ahead of me. This is usually when I can really move the chains on this author career, but I kind of squandered that.
After finishing the biggest edits, I’m down to reading each story without the interruptions of the other two so I can see if there are any glaring plot holes or tedious parts. I’d like to let everything rest for a while before I take that project on.
That leaves me with the concept of drafting new material. I have a complete Lizzie and the hat story ready to draft, but I have one ready to publish, too. No rush there.
My main focus is the second volume in the SF trilogy. All I have for that so far is the heroes must venture into unclaimed space to find someone who seems to know far too much about the enemies that started a galactic war.
This isn’t always a deal killer for me, because I tend to write about a third of my stories without a complete storyboard. It’s easier when I already know the characters well, and I have one volume all slicked up already.
I need to keep the tradition of a second book of the trilogy in mind. Plans fail, the bottom falls out, small disasters accompany that, so everyone can regroup for book three. This one also has a decent romance side story, and I can do the same thing with it… to prepare for a reconciliation in book three. Something like that.
What to do? What to do?
I bagged the whole thing and read a novel this morning. Spare time is a premium around here, and any reading will cut into my writing time. It’s a fact of life, but sometimes I just need that break and yet it still feels productive.
I’m going to dwell on my SF plot a bit longer. This second volume seems like it needs a smaller issue for my characters to focus upon inside the margins of the galactic war. My heroes can’t be everywhere at once, so something in their face that can also reflect the larger conflict.
I have no lack of ideas for The Hat Series, and don’t need to wrack my brain there. I also have two solo tales that could use some TLC. Nothing helps that process like a day in the National Forest, but a good book is pretty close.
I might even read another one tomorrow, rebel that I am.
Now that all the resolutions posts have come and gone, it’s time to share my business plan.
This is one of those posts that always seems to draw attention and good comments. I write one of these out every year and share it. Keeps me focused.
2021 and 2022 were brutal. This caused me to set realistic goals last year, and the theme will continue into 2023.
Everything needs an edit, but I have book one of a Space Opera finished. There is another Lizzie and the hat book in the same status. I’m very close to finishing Once Upon a Time in the Swamp, a stand-alone title.
Setting the bar at two publications seems realistic enough. One Hat story and the solo title should work out well. There is still one draft to finish and a lot of editing, but it sounds entirely possible. I could have a third one, but that will be gravy above and beyond the goal.
Most of my focus is going to be on drafts. I have another fun Hat tale ready to go. I have years of material for that series. I need to write the second volume of the space opera and that’s really my target project.
Aside from that, I want to work on some storyboards for new things. I tend to plot years ahead, but admit to not always making a storyboard for the hat stories. I dwell on some of this stuff so long I don’t always have to map it out.
With these new tales, I’d feel more comfortable with a good storyboard. One of the things I’ve done with The Hat Series is keep the POV with my main characters who are not witches. We get glimpses that can make readers think, but not a deep dive into my witchcraft world. One of my new ideas is tentatively called Dash Goodman and the Last of the Mud Men. Dash would be the main character and readers would get a closer look at the magical world. Don’t get too excited, because this might be two years, or more, out.
I already know what kind of airplane Dash will steal, who his sidekick/girlfriend will be, and even a familiar that he’s going to summon. I can introduce some Native American culture into this one. This one requires some mystery boxes and ties that I haven’t quite gotten nailed down. It will cover several things that I’ve alluded to in the main series, but haven’t gone into detail.
I have another one that ties much more loosely to the Hat world about two kids in Detroit. My idea is to get a bit of Indiana Jones style while exploring abandoned homes and businesses. Ultimately, one of the items they recover would lead one of them to become a magical adapter. In the main series we’ve touched upon a tiny bit of that. My bigger intent would be to have a fun adventure story. I’ve already discovered the Maguffin from a bit of American history. Less committed to this one, but it has potential.
I had a new character come to me almost fully formed and I want to explore what she might have to offer. She feels like she’s reaching her expiration date, has an upper teenage son, and a dead end job. She’s a reporter who is only allowed to do fluff pieces and gossip articles. She wants to do more, but her whole organization avoids hard news because people want fluff, character assassination, and gossip. Somehow, this one feels like uncovering proof that aliens visited Earth at some point. Not completely sure about her, but she’s a fun character with some interesting quirks. I kind of want her to look up a discredited former reporter to learn the ropes, but he was revealed as a workplace womanizer and has a really bad attitude. I already have a bittersweet ending for it that works for this era.
1.) Publish Goodbye Old Paint and Once Upon a Time in the Swamp.
2.) Draft the second book of the space opera and another hat tale. (Probably the one with the Headless Horseman and the horse racing world.)
A.) Draft another story. Maybe the Red Pill/Blue Pill tale for Lizzie and the hat unless the Space Opera takes on some momentum in my mind.
B.) Storyboard my guts out on these other tales.
C.) Consider if my African Adventure tale could be valid.
It may look like a lot, but there are only two main goals. (Okay, each of those has two commitments.) I think that much is realistic, and anything else that happens is gravy.
Took off at noon today. I have bread dough rising for some nice rolls. Most years I stay up until midnight doing this, so it’s a nice change. I forgot to add all the special ingredients like garlic and Parmesan, so I had to knead them in. I do this about half the time and it always works out.
I’m close to the end of Goodby Old Paint. There are a few sections I want to rework for smoother flow. This is always a concern with comedy. One liners are one thing, but other sections need some setup and sometimes I have to go back and clarify some of that.
There are still some miles to travel in Once Upon a Time in the Swamp. I came up with a good bit while commuting to the office this morning. I’ve been tormenting Mari in some fitful dreams. I have a cool section I can use this once more. I’m liking the dreams, because she tends to interact with a skeleton and a dead snake as much as humans. Works for my strange mind, and yet, since it happens in dreams the story stays more grounded.
After I wrap these up, there will be an editing phase, but I’m in no rush to publish. My last blog tour didn’t produce much at all, so I’m going to start doing things on my time. October was always a great month for me, as was January. There was soooo much competition in October, and I know of a bunch more coming for January, I might just avoid all of those.
I generally develop stories years into the future, and if I told you how many I have planned you’d be shocked. By dwelling on them for as long as I do, there is usually plenty to put into a story.
My next stunt is to return to Percy the Space Chimp and start his second volume. The first one is complete, but I’m not publishing until I have an entire trilogy ready to go.
I’ll also start another Lizzie and the hat story, because I enjoy having two projects to bounce between. I’ve been building this one for years. Most of you don’t know this, but Good Liniment was supposed to be a pivotal book in this story. We meet the local coven and many of those characters appear in subsequent tales. It was a long-term plan, because Lizzie needed some people she can talk to about the supernatural world.
The next story I’m starting will feature one of these characters. I designed him so he has a ton of personality. He’s not unique, but the way I present him is. I got some nice comments about him when Good Liniment dropped, and it’s time for him to step up.
Tentative title for this one is Run For The Roses. (Subject to change) Here’s a little hint
Turn the speakers up for this one. I doubt I’ll get a lot of action today, or tomorrow, but blogs are forever. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and catch up with me when you get a break.
I consider myself a fairly dedicated author. Most weekends I manage to accomplish something even if it’s small. Sometimes I make great strides.
This weekend wasn’t one of those times. I paid all the bills after the paychecks hit the bank. Always a good goal. I also had an appointment to get my brakes worked on today. This required a drop off at 8:00, then a pick up at 2:00. It’s about a 45 mile round trip and traffic can drag that out.
Basically, that was the extent of my day. Old What’s Her Face and I went to breakfast this morning after dropping off the truck.
I have twelve posts ready for my October blog tour and could probably use a couple more. Thing is, I don’t want to bore the hell out of people either. If I am a guest somewhere a couple of times per week, that’s going to fill the month of October.
Touring is a toss-up really. Most friends and fans will follow along and I kept each post unique. There’s only so much value in appealing to them over and over again. The dream is to reach new readers and that requires multiple appearances to glean them.
Where does that scale balance? More posts might help find some new fans. More posts could also get annoying to my loyal fans and friends. A dozen feels about right and the topics won’t get stale. I think that’s where I’m going to stand.
This means, no blog writing this weekend. I did a lot of surfing on Pinterest and a few similar places while daydreaming of future stories. I have some fun ideas and a few ideas how to bundle several of them into the same story. I suppose that’s productive in a way.
I’m looking forward to next weekend. I’m going to drive to Nevada and bring my mother back for a visit. I like long lonely drives and also enjoy drives were I can chat with someone. I’ll get one of each next Friday.
That might not be the best situation for writing, but regular life is important, too. I’m sure you’ll be hearing plenty from me once October arrives. Might even publish my book next weekend.
I managed to write eleven unique posts to promote The Midnight Rambler. I wish I had a purchase link to insert, but I’ll have to wait a couple of weeks. I’d like a few more posts, but they’ll have to wait until I have a few spare moments.
I wrote a post about the music, keeping the setting consistent, and expanding this universe. I think it was pretty good stuff and those who follow the eventual tour shouldn’t be disappointed.
While hacking these out, something dawned on me. I came up with a cool new character and a way to introduce him. His role is to show there’s more going on around Lizzie and the hat than what they can see. I even figured out a great way to blame his actions on them and tie it to Night Bump Radio.
Then it occurred to me that he would be awesome at the final act of the Asian end of the world story I’ve been dreaming up for two years. This is the problem. In my schedule, the end of the world story comes before the one where I want to introduce him.
It would be cool to intro him, then see some problems he causes for Lizzie and the hat. Then he gets an important cameo in the Asian story. Don’t know how to solve this problem, but I have a couple of years to figure it out.
Back to work tomorrow, so my author hat has to come off for the week. Maybe something will come to me during the commutes.
These two day weekends aren’t great for my productivity. I’m still adjusting, but got approval to shift my schedule to 7:00 to 3:30. The afternoon has provided some reading time that I’m making use of.
I’m not much of an afternoon writer, so I don’t know how that will work out. I intend to give it a try anyway.
This morning I goofed off for a while, then retreated to my office/junk room. With headphones, Old What’s Her Face and the dogs can make all the noise they want.
I wasn’t committed to either project, but wound up with Mari’s story. She found what’s intended to be her last mentor, bought a pistol, and is learning to shoot.
I included a lot of techniques I’ve known about all my life. Even mentioned the 21 foot gun fighting studies the FBI conducted decades ago. Right now, I’m torn between how much would be interesting to readers, and how much they would like Mari to absorb without explanation so I can get back to the action.
I don’t think there’s a right answer here. Some folks would enjoy everything I included and more. Other’s just want to get on with the big finale.
I’ll try to find a sweet spot that can satisfy as many as possible. For now, I’m writing it and making sure Mari doesn’t do unrealistic things as the tale unfurls.
I never liked it when someone is an instant expert at something, and expect some practice and training prior to perfection.
The big trick here is to keep it interesting as Mari goes through her character arc. This is a revenge tale at its core. I can’t just have the inciting incident followed by a finale. Where’s the fun in that?
I’ve stitched in a few tidbits about the world that was lost. What led us to a post apocalyptic setting. That kind of thing, and probably need a little more of that.
Delays are good for this kind of story. Injuries, economics, and others can provide that. Campsites are good places to second guess the whole thing, and question choices she’s made.
I didn’t keep track, but it wound up being about a chapter. I try to keep those to ten pages.
Right now, I need to mentally shift into some of that second guessing and delay type thinking. This makes Mari a real person for the readers. With luck, I can work on it again tomorrow.
I closed my iPad, then leaned back in my lounge chair. “That’s a wrap for today, folks.”
Lisa Burton, my robot assistant picked the twin ponytails from her hair. “Back to more Cicis tomorrow?”
“You really need to get these girls some better clothes.”
“I did, but they tend to wear jumpsuits while they’re on the ship. We’re deep into the mission right now.”
Percy, the Space Chimp, perked up. “Not bad, dude. I’m finally in the shuttle and weapons are hot. I’m expecting to kick some major ass tomorrow.”
“Me, too. We’re nearly finished. You have two adventures left in this book and I should easily break eighty-thousand words.”
“Could be a lot bigger for science fiction.”
“True, but in this era people seem to like something shorter if it isn’t going to wrap in one book.”
“And we have three coming.”
“We’ll see. My first trilogy was popular until the final volume. Nobody wanted root monsters and Kung Fu after book two.”
He bolted upright on the couch. “Dude, don’t do that to me. I planned on three volumes.”
“That’s still the goal, but I might not release any of them until they’re completely finished. A tighter release schedule might help. It was a good day at 2800 words.”
“And, tomorrow we’re blowing the crap out of things?”
“That’s the plan. I gotta tell you, I’m thinking about starting something different.”
“Don’t do that. We’ve got what it takes.”
“I think so, too. I can always start another hat story. You were backup, then moved into primary position. I feel the need for a new secondary story. There are some stand alone ones I could write. There’s the revenge story that takes place in a post-apocalyptic swamp. One that’s an African adventure that still needs some black magic ideas. I even have one about Dash Goodman going on his quest to become a full member of the coven. It will involve a Native American girl and some of her lore, a stolen PBY floatplane, and summoning a fun familiar for him that I dreamed up.”
“Nobody wants to read that crap. A talking Space Chimp with a Human girlfriend working as a spy is what they want.”
“Relax. I still need Dash to be an apprentice for a few more years. What do you think about Dash Goodman & the Last of the Lava Men, or Mud Men, or something?”
“I think it sounds stupid. I could steal a ship and save you from writing it. Show you some real adventure, too.”
“There’s also the Detroit story. Tons of abandoned homes and two kids playing Indianna Jones stumble across something more serious.”
“We could go back to the fleet graveyard and find some antiquated garbage, too.”
“Calm down. We’ll work together tomorrow. Dash Goodman needs a serious outline to chase a McGuffin, and so does the Detroit thingie.
“I won’t let you down. I promise.”
“I wonder how I’d look as an Indian Princess?” Lisa asked.
“Probably too blonde, and it’s going to be a modern setting. She’s Salish, so I’d need to do some research before I could start. Feels like something two or three years down the line.”
“Will we be done by then?” Percy asked.
“I think so. I still have to weave other things into my schedule. Sometimes I work better with a side project. I’m just warning you it could happen.”
“Good talk, but let’s see where tomorrow takes us. Maybe you’ll get so fired up you don’t want a side story.”
Percy the Space Chimp got fed up with all the company and went to the kitchen. Presumably for coffee, but something told me he was going for a walk in the National Forest.
I texted Lisa. “See if you can get rid of, or distract, Conversia and Libraria. Wiki isn’t as old as they are and might not be as devious.”
No idea why it worked, but a tour of Lisa’s closet seemed to do the trick. I’m sure she could make a girlie museum out of that place someday.
I looked across at Wiki. “Got time for a couple of questions?”
She looked up from her iPad.
“I haven’t seen Lorelei around lately, but I keep getting ideas. Do you know what’s happened to her.”
“All the Muses got really busy with the lockdown. People were cooking, painting, all kinds of artsy things. Lorelei started working the night shift just to keep up. She’s been around. Have you woken up with fresh inspiration?”
“See.” Wiki wrinkled her nose in smile.
“That’s another thing. I love your little smile. How do I describe it if I want one of my characters to do something similar?”
Wiki clicked away on her small iPad. “These days it’s often called a bunny smile. There’s a warning that it leads to bunny lines on the nose as someone ages. Maybe I should stop doing it.”
“Please don’t. It’s adorable. I don’t know where I’ll include it, but probably in the hat series. Don’t know if Joyeux DuPont fits into the next book, or not. Maybe the one with moths if I can figure something out for it.”
“What seems to be the problem?”
“So many problems. I don’t see how a moth would be all that dangerous. I just had a cool victim scene I wanted to use. There seems to be a complete lack of legends or deities that have anything to do with moths.”
Wiki slid over, then patted her beanbag. “Check this out. Calyptra moths have been known to exhibit vampirism. That’s real-world, and ought to be creepy enough for you.”
I sunk in beside her. “Wow! There’s even a North American species. Lizzie’s staked a lot of vampires, so I’m not sure just yet. Why can’t there be a demon or something from Aztec legend.”
She passed me her iPad again. “Check out this story. There’s a legend of The Killing Stone in Japan. It was said to contain an evil spirit known as the Nine Tailed Fox. Just recently, this rock split in half. What if the demon escaped?”
“How’s that help me? I can’t just send Lizzie to Japan.”
“I’m not a Muse, so you’ll have to figure some of it out. Why couldn’t it be a Native American shaman who trapped a demon in a stone. When it breaks, your demon could escape.”
“Huh! The hat lived through a lot of history, so he could explain some of it. I’m just stuck trying to work out all these problems. Moth monsters, the Kentucky Derby, gremlins, a talent competition. Some are going better than others. Lorelei has to have been invading my sleep.”
“Hmm, you’ll have to step your gremlins up for modern times. Lizzie lives in pseudo-St. Louis, right?”
“Yeah, but I never call it out, so I can make up my own streets and parks.”
“Good plan, but you know what is there? The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. They’re one of the major players in the spy game.”
“What do they do?”
“It’s like a warehouse of computer data involving satellite photos, maps, weather, all kinds of things. Gremlins can’t just chew on airplane cables these days and hold someone’s attention. Put them into those servers, and you might really have something.”
“That’s pretty good, and gives me something to think about.”
“There’s more. Look at this video. A guy is playing two saxophones at once. That ought to score some points with your talent judges.”
“Dang. It would, too. I can probably use that, but that story is years down the line.”
“Never too soon for research. I can get Conversia to take you to Japan and the Kentucky Derby. She likes people to get first-hand knowledge for their stories. Maybe interview a few old-timers. I’ll bet Libraria could help you learn Japanese so you could talk with them.”
“That’s the part I can’t do. I’d love to go gallivanting around for research, but I still have to hold down a job. It’s traditional research, or nothing.”
“Check out this Bugs Bunny cartoon. It has gremlins in it.”
I watched the video, and caught myself laughing even after all these years. “That’s awesome. Got any more?”
“Sure. How about some old Kentucky Derby footage?” She clicked away at her device. “Do you know the difference between a Muse and a Siren?”
“Don’t tell me there’s a video for that, too.”
“A Muse shows up to inspire you. A Siren’s job is to crash your career on the rocks of research. Did you get any writing done today?”