Tag Archives: Portugal

Let’s Talk about Panama

I’ve been blogging about the effort that goes into getting Panama up on Amazon. There were a few updates to Wild Concept to add an end page about Panama. These have been fun blogs, and the response has been good.

But what the heck is Panama about? While I hate promotion, I don’t mind telling everyone about my story. Since this is my blog, I don’t feel like I have to post something über polished and full of hooks here either. So here we go, we’re all friends here and that’s how I’m addressing this.

Panama is set during the construction of the Panama Canal. Yellow fever is killing huge numbers of workers, but that’s all the news that’s getting out. In reality, they are getting back up and wandering into the jungle. The locals talk of a strange beast leading the dead away. They call him El Chivato.

Ethan and Coop have some experience with the supernatural world. Ethan talks to ghosts. Coop has premonitions, and is trying to learn about magic. He just keeps getting run out of town before he actually learns anything.

Basically, these two dipshits get recruited to deal with a problem that’s bigger than they are. When they arrive, they’re faced with the bid for Panamanian independence, a Columbian army that stands in the way, and a supernatural army no one else knows anything about.

In my vision, construction is an international effort. Sure, Americans are driving the work, but expatriates from all over the world are there for the big money. This breed of treasure hunter flowed in when the Klondike gold rush failed. It’s a pretty rough crowd. I briefly explored a few themes about prejudices.

The big problem is driven by a Carlist fanatic with dreams of a Spanish re-emergence in the new world.

There’s magic involved. It comes with an international flavor to match the crowd. European witchcraft mingles with voodoo and Indian medicine. There’s even one discussion about Chinese magic.

These two dipshits will be lucky to get out alive. The other option is joining the undead. (But not zombies. It’s a bit different.)

People like a reference point so here it goes. It’s like Wild Wild West meets Men in Black, with a sprinkling of Bill and Ted. I even threw in a smattering of celebrity cameos. (Period appropriate ones, sorry no Kardashians.)

I had a blast writing it. I think it’s fun, and serious enough when it needs to be. I’d appreciate it if you guys would check it out.

Of course I’ll provide a link. You can also click on the cover on the right sidebar. Panama

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Confronting Evil

I touched down at the writing cabin and eased to a stop. Bento* was walking out of the forest carrying something furry. Smoke trickled from his lips, and he had a rifle slung over his shoulder.

I parked on the elevator and rode into the basement. I dropped off my boots and headed upstairs. Bento was in the kitchen, in slippers of his own.

“Looks like you got some rabbits,” I said. “I hope that rifle didn’t chew them up too bad.”

“It didn’t,” he said. “I snared them. The rifle is for protection. Your forsest is dangerous. These are for lunch.”

“Cool. Just Don’t tell Lisa**. She’s a known rabbit lover.”

“I am aware. I’ve seen Bunny, and quite frankly, we’d need to invite friends over if we cooked him.”

I slapped him on the shoulder. “He’s pretty big, alright. I’m going to work.”

I slipped into my paranormal room and tossed my hat on the stone gargoyle. I had at least two big fights I wanted to put my main character, Patty, through. I let the Will ‘O the Wisp out of the bell jar and started writing.

Bento slipped in and made coffee. He swung the arm into the fireplace so it could boil. He handed me a cup of grounds. “Drop this in when it boils. Swing it back over the fire, and don’t over cook it. I know Lisa does everything for you, but you aren’t helpless.”

I wrote my way through the first fight, and looked through the cabin. Lorelei*** promised to show me her Sharon Stone move before the big fight. We called it extra inspiration. She was nowhere to be found.

I rummaged through an old closet and changed into some pajamas and a tee shirt. I climbed upstairs to the shower. Bento had moved into Lisa’s room and was living out of two suitcases. His straight razor, comb, and shaving bowl were all lined up perfectly on the dresser.

I stepped into the shower in my bed clothes and turned the water on cold. It was cabin in the mountains cold. I watched how the cloth stuck to my legs, and chest. I checked how the cloth stuck when I moved around. My hair went limp, and my beard tangled across my chest. Patty doesn’t have a beard, but I got the general idea. I shivered as the icy water ran down my butt crack. Maybe that part doesn’t need to go into the story.

I dried off, changed, and put the wet stuff in the laundry room. Bento scowled as I carried the clothes through the kitchen.

Coffee and the fireplace was my next stop. When the shivering stopped, I pulled on my lab coat and buttoned it tight.

I whipped up a rainstorm for the ages in my story. It might as well be dark and far from home while I’m at it. Patty faced the thing that caused her all the problems. Spoiler alert, she survived.

Still no sign of Lorelei. She owes me.

The smell of braised rabbit wafted into the office. It was exotic and delicious all at the same time.

I freshened my coffee and sat in my wingback chair. I slid the ottoman into place and put one leg up.

Bento dropped off a plate of crusty bread, grilled sardines, and some white cheese. “Start with this. Lunch will take a bit longer.”

I picked at my pre lunch. I don’t know what the Portuguese call it, but it was good.

My word count is at 69,878. That’s 2450 for the day. I’m sure it would have been better if Lorelei had shown up. Patty needs to come to grips with what happened, accept a few things, clean up her mess, and go through a denouement.

Somehow, I doubt this story will reach 80,000 words. I always reduce words when I edit, and don’t know if I can call Will ‘O the Wisp a novel. I mean, I could. I could call it a moose, but that wouldn’t make it true.

When I go back through it, I can add some words by making all the bad things worse. I have to be careful not to make Patty too whiny and upset the readers.

That’s a worry for a different day. I have to finish the silly thing first.

Bento set up his braised rabbit on the coffee table. Everything was wonderful, even the grilled vegetables.

When we finished, Bento rolled a cigarette and said, “I’ll get the dishes later. I’m going to step outside for a moment.”

All in all, it was a pretty good day.

* Bento is a supporting character in my novel, Panama. Coming soon to a Kindle near you. The search for a cover artist continues. He’s filling in for Lisa while she’s on vacation.

** Lisa is the main character in Wild Concept. She’s also a robot, and works for me full time. Oh, and she’d appreciate a few more readers.

*** Lorelei is my Muse, and did not appear in this story. I wonder if there’s some union I can lodge a complaint with.

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Filed under Muse, Writing

Writing Like Mad

The phone rang on my way to the writing cabin this morning. “Hello. This is Bento* speaking – stop.”

“Hey Bento. I’m almost there, what’s up?”

“You have guest – stop. Miss Lorelei** is here – stop.”

“Why do you keep saying stop?”

“It’s standard telegraph etiquet – stop.”

“This is a phone, not a telegraph. You don’t have to say stop. What does she want?”

“She says she’s here to inspire you – st– she thinks you’re going to make up some lost ground today.”

“Give her some coffee or something, I’m almost there.”

“I already did. I’m not a barbarian,” Bento said.

I trudged in through the basement and put my boots in the soapbox. I slipped on my mocassins and headed up. Lorelei met me at the top of the stairs. She had on a short tight black witch’s dress and some black high heels. Her witch’s hat had the brim shaped to frame her face. I swear, she could make a throw rug look awesome.

I booted up my iPad and sat at the roll top desk in my paranormal room. Bento and Lorelei already had a fire started and the lights on. She opened the enchanted window and shooed Doubt*** outside. I smiled and turned away too late.

“Oh, he’s coming back. You need him, but not today. Today your job is to make the electronic ink fly,” she said.

Bento went to work on the alchemy artwork. It bubbled merrily from retort to retort and wound up smelling like a fresh tin of pipe tobacco when he finished.

I started writing, and my main character, Patty, suffered a terrible loss. She wound up alone in the dark with everyone mad at her. I even added some rain for her discomfort.

Lorelei swung the cauldron into the fireplace and added water. I watched her crouch down and stir. I hoped her dress would fail, but it managed to hold up somehow. This is what she calls inspiration, as if that actually works.

Bento added some pork and vegetables to the pot and disappeared again. The smells were delightful as the food mingled with the aromatherapy from the artwork.

I kept typing, but things were distracting. I put Patty through a major meltdown and a minor temper tantrum. I paused to pick my fingernails with the desk spindle, and had another idea. Another story element was born.

“When do we eat around here?” I asked. “That stuff smells wonderful.”

Lorelei ran her fingers through my hair and said, “Why don’t you give it another hour. You’re really making progress today. You’re going to lose some writing time in the next few weeks.”

A tingle ran down my spine, and I wanted nothing more than to make her happy. I went back to my typing.

“You know, I don’t know if I’m making this creepy and scary enough,” I said. I swung the coffee pot away from the fireplace and tipped the pot into my cup. I sat on the couch and blew the heat off the top.

Lorelei sat in the wingback chair and leaned way way forward. The view was mesmerizing. “I could invite the Stygian Witches for tea. They might give you some pointers.” She batted her eyes and smiled. “Or you could just keep going and see if you need them later.”

I walked to the desk and went back to work. “That isn’t fair, you know.”

“Aren’t you feeling inspired? I could whip out my Sharon Stone manuever.”

“Maybe when Patty has to confront the big bad evil. I might need some extra help there.”

She wrinkled her nose and said, “you’ve got it.”

Bento came back and set up a folding table I never knew we had. He tossed some noodles in the pot and set the table.

I wrote for another forty five minutes and asked, “So what are we having?”

“I call it pork noodles. I learned how to make it in Chinatown,” he said.

We moved around the table and Bento dished us up. The food was wonderful.

“So how did you do today?” Lorelei asked.

“Word count at 67,428. Holy cow, that’s 5171 words today.”

“See what a little inspiration can do?”

“Yeah, apparently so.”

“Don’t fall in love with your words,” she said. “You’ll have to get them past Doubt before you share them with anyone.”

 

* Bento is a supporting character from Panama. He’s coming to a Kindle near you if I can find a cover artist.

** Lorelei is my Muse. I’m pretty sure she actually knows the Stygian Witches.

*** Doubt is a raven, kind of. He was a gift from Lorelei and is supposed to be helpful.

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Writing and other problems

I slept in this morning. Old What’s Her Face* needs tires, and we decided to head to Les Schwab. They have to order the tires and we can’t get them until Wednesday. We went to lunch and called it a day.

I flew out to the writing cabin this afternoon and made a low pass over the runway. It had been freshly graveled. I landed and it was better than the last time, by far. I pulled onto the elevator and lowered myself into the basement.

I wove my way through the storage shelves holding miscelaneous story elements from my past projects. A man’s deep voice resonated through the basement. “Boots. In the box.” He tossed my soapbox on the floor at the foot of the stairs.

I froze. Lisa** is on vacation. She said she found someone to fill in for her. I pursed my lips and asked, “B, Bento?” ***

“Yes. I am filling in for Miss Lisa while she’s away. Put your boots in the box. I won’t have you messing up the cabin. I’ve been cleaning all week. Little bits of rabbit fur, sloshed beer stains, coffee rings, even raven feathers.”

“But that’s my soapbox. I like to stand up there and rant about things sometimes.”

“I’m sure your readers just love that.”

I couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic, or just agreeing. He slapped me in the chest with a new pair of mocassins. I slid a three legged milking stool into place and changed my shoes.

We headed up the stairs. He hadn’t gotten a day older since the last time I saw him. He wore canvas pants with suspenders, a beige linen shirt with a Bull Durham string sticking out of the pocket, and a thick black mustache.

I headed right for the room where I’m working on Will ‘O the Wisp. I booted up my notes, and checked him out. Benjamim “Bento” Braganza; Portuguese expatriot. He works for the U.S. Government now.

When Bento returned with coffee, I was hard at work. The Will ‘O the Wisp bounced around from cabinet to rafter. “Don’t be afraid of the Wisp. It’s an important story element. There’s nothing to worry about in the cabin.”

“I am not worried. I’ve seen many strange things working for the Marshals.” He pointed toward the pentagram in the floor and said, “Marshal Coop has something similar to this. I believe now, and I have faith in them. I’ll have to see about you.”

I sipped my coffee and jerked. It was a bit stronger than I like it.

Bento disappeared, and I went back to work.

I wound up with 62,428 words. It comes to 1295 for the day. The enchanted beer horns sounded off, and ran into the room. I picked them up and carried them to the lounge.

Bento asked, “How do you shut them up?”

“Beer,” I said. I took a growler of porter from the fridge and filled them up. I handed one to Bento and headed for the main office.

I sat in my chair, and Bento on the couch. “I’m about ready to publish Panama, but I’ve run into a snag. My cover artist doesn’t like the theme of the story, so I need to find someone else.”

“I don’t blame him. Demons are uncomfortable even after you’ve been around some of it,” he said.

“I sent out three emails to people whose art I like, but I’ve only heard back from one and she’s expensive.”

“I’m sure you will find someone. There is other work to finish.” He slapped some papers on the coffee table and said, “Invoices.”

“What do you mean, Invoices?”

“It’s a simple concept. I paid for gravel, groceries, and beer. These are the receipts. You must pay me. When I spread the gravel, and cook the food, that is for my wages.”

“Lisa usually takes care of all that. She just transfers money using the computer.”

“What is a computer?”

“Oh that’s right. Your story was in 1904, there were no computers.”

He tapped a finger on the papers and said, “Invoices. Entendes?”

“I understand. Will you take a check?”

He lowered his brow and scowled.

“Maybe there’s some gold around here somewhere. I think those dwarves might have left a trunkfull in the basement.”

“You look for it. I’ll get your supper ready.”

“What is it?”

“Portuguese bacalhau, and wash your hands before supper.”

“Yes, sir. Then I’m going to teach you what email and texting are. No more surprises involving cash.”

* Old What’s Her Face is not my wife’s actual name.

** Lisa is the main character in Wild Concept. She’s a robot and helps around the cabin.

*** Bento is a supporting character in Panama. Coming soon to a Kindle near you, if I can find a good cover artist.

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Oh Yeah!

My Greg Urbano trick worked. I got some more international visitors from Italy and Portugal. This really excites me. I love seeing the international visits. Feel free to say hi in the comments.

A couple of my stories occur outside the USA . The Cock of the South is with an editor right now. It occurs somewhere between Greece and Rome. Another story is called Panama, and ought to be self explanatory.

This works so well, it ought to have a special name. I vote for the Urbano Gambit. Thanks Greg. Maybe I can figure out how to get a reader or two from the International Space Station. I wonder how that would show up on the WordPress map?

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