Tag Archives: root monsters

I think it works…

At not quite 3700 words, I pushed my pirate hat back on my head and looked across the room at Lisa Burton, my robot assistant. She wore her Serang costume and twirled the huge guandao about.

Lisa Burton

“I think I accomplished what I set out to do today. The Fulminites are terrifying, and no root monsters were killed in this adventure.”

“You killed the Fulminites though.”

“Did I, or did they do that themselves?”

Flattop, the root monster, sat beside my iPad. “Whew! Modders all go splat, but okey dokey at the end. Then get to throw hailstones.”

“I thought you guys deserved a bit of fun.”

“I like how Fēngbào came out,” Lisa said.

“He’s a god that Serang knows about. He brings the monsoon… violently, I might add. Not a lot more than that, which is kind of the Lanternfish style. No in depth legends to slow the story down. He just is what he is and brings the rain.”

“And thunder, and lightening, and waterspouts, and wind that can level a city…”

“Okay. He’s kind of over the top, but that’s also Lanternfish style. I worried about this scene for weeks, but sometimes you just have to put on your pirate hat and hack away at it. I can change it if my critique group thinks I need to, but it’s hard to change something that doesn’t exist.”

“Speaking of your group, did you get the final section of Grinders sent out?”

“Yup, it’s on the way to them. I’m not going to worry about it, until I hear back from them. You did some good work today, Serang played an important role on Kiriwina.”

“Modders like those names. Kiriwina, Matacucu, and Rakiura.”

“I pulled some of them from a map of the Pacific Islands, and changed some with Google translate. That’s how I came up with the name Fēngbào, too.”

“Modders not know Booble slate.”

“It’s okay, buddy. Only I have to know that.”

“So how come Serang didn’t get all torn up in the explosion like everyone else?”

“I don’t need her to be wounded, and maybe she wasn’t as close to the epicenter as the others were. Don’t think about it too much.”

Lisa sat down the weapon, then picked up the bamboo flute. “I’d love to be able to play this thing for real.”

“You have been, haven’t you?”

“Robot girls don’t have lungs, genius. I’ve been holding it to my lips then playing back a soundtrack.”

“It helped me with my writing. Maybe you can play that Kill Bill number one more time.”

“You know that was played on a pan flute and not one of these, don’t you?”

“You fake it well. Maybe that’s all any of us can do. I hope I fake my stories well enough to make people enjoy them.”

***

Back to the office tomorrow, but 3600 words, and a difficult section out of the way is a good day every day.

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Fun on Matacucu

I closed my iPad and looked across the desk at Lisa in her pirate garb.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“I’ve written myself into a bind and need time to think. I managed 1200 words, but it pales in comparison to yesterday.”

“You changed the slaves into natives that practice head-binding. That was kind of cool.”

“Yeah, not a lot of explanation, but it adds to my world building. Do you know people practiced the shaping of infant skulls all over the world, but had no way of communicating with each other about it? It’s kind of amazing they would come up with the same bizarre practice in different cultures like that.”

“Yes, I have full Internet access and looked some of it up for you, remember?”

“Yeah, thanks. I need to do some serious thinking here.”

“How long do you think it will take?”

“No telling, but it makes sense. I passed 30,000, so this is the middle slog. You know how I love the middle slog.”

“What’s the issue, maybe I can help.”

“The pirates captured a treasure ship. They decided to divide the weight between the two ships, and take the galleon with them. She’s a pretty worthless ship and not much more than a merchantman.”

“So, basically, more troubles.”

“Yeah that’s kind of a theme in fiction. They worked through some dangerous waters and are within sight of Matacucu. I need them to approach the temple of the exploding monks, but I don’t want them to learn too much from this stop.”

“Okay…”

“I don’t know exactly what my landing party is going to do there. I want to build my con-man characters up a bit. Readers are due for a real fight scene, because the galleon didn’t put up much of a fight.”

“What if they learn nothing at all, then wind up in a fight. Your con-man maybe picked up on some valuable information they can discuss later. You can shoot your way out of the harbor and keep it mildly adventurous.”

“That could work, but I need to think about it. I’ve also teased the exploding monks for 30,000 words, and it’s time to see what they are capable of. Readers have earned that now. The only problem is it has to be devastating and horrible.”

“Then write it that way. What’s the big deal?”

“It almost needs to be bad enough to kill off a character we’ve gotten to know. Maybe even a root monster or two.”

Flattop climbed my desk drawers and stood between us. “You would kill modders?”

I clasped my hand over my eyes and lowered my face. “I don’t know. There are lots of you guys and not all of you have names. Then there is a new one people haven’t gotten attached to yet. That’s the problem. Readers love you guys far beyond anything I expected.”

“Modders are helpful.”

“You are, but at last count, I think there were nineteen of you. That’s adding on Shrimp, the new guy.”

“We might get by with only seventy-two.”

“What!” Lisa said.

“They don’t understand numbers. I think he’s trying to be helpful.”

“You’re going to have to figure it out,” Lisa said. “You can do some writing tomorrow, but then you aren’t off again until Wednesday.”

“I know, and there is a big monster just over the horizon. He might even be a god. They’re going to flee from him as much as anything else. I know they’re going to wind up elsewhere and gain some better intelligence on the monks. That’s going to be a big section.”

“I thought the second volume of a trilogy was supposed to be the shortest one.”

“It is, but it’s not looking that way here. After Matacucu, they wind up on Bungo Bungo. That’s a big section. Then they have to wind up in pseudo-Japan, which I haven’t even named yet. That’s another big section. Then they have to fight with their own admiralty, implant some spy’s and a special army into the war, then gain their minor victory amidst tragedy.”

“This isn’t looking like the 90,000 word piece you had planned.”

“I know, and that’s why I need to stop and think. I’m committed to bring this in as three volumes, even if they’re big ones.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to get a haircut.”

“I could fix you up right here. Maybe a nice pompadour?”

“Thanks, but no thanks. I think I’ll go see Chuck the barber.”

“Chicken.”

“You know it.”

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Getting back in the groove

I landed at the writing cabin early this morning. I had the little gyrocopter buzz a mammoth and her calf to clear the runway, but it was a piece of cake after that. Frozen ground is almost as good as asphalt.

Lisa met me coming up the stairs. She wore a green, knee-length, Christmas dress with furry white trimming. “What are you doing here? Thought you were done for the year.”

“Not by a long shot. I stepped back to do promo, but never intended to take a longer break. How’s the coffee situation?”

“I can make some. I have the cabin wired as a smart home, so all I have to do is send a signal to the coffee maker.”

“Very efficient. I’d expect nothing less from you.”

“Go into the lobby and check out my Christmas tree. I’ll bring you a cup when it’s ready.”

The tree was one of those artificial pencil trees that are so popular now. Lisa always was on top of trends, but she decorated it with shapes she’d cut out from old compact disks and circuit boards. She had stars and reindeer, there was even a pair of high-heels in shiny compact disk silver. “What’s with these ornaments?”

“Those are things robot girls like. I didn’t think you were coming out until next year.” She opened a large box with bubble-gum pink baubles. “Do you want to help me finish decorating it?”

“Tough to pass up, but I need to start writing again.” I left her to it, then went to my office.

The first step was to reread a few chapters of HMS Lanternfish. This helped to get back into the swing of things. When I finished that, Lisa came back.

“I’ll go get my pirate outfit. Didn’t know that’s where you were working. Do you want the root monsters?”

“Where are they? I assumed they went home.”

“They’re in the vegetable crisper drawer.”

“Oh-my-God. Are they okay in there?”

“Oh yeah. It slows them down and keeps them fresh. They drank all your beer the other day, though.”

“No, then. I don’t need their mischief just yet. My pirates have so many problems I don’t know how they’re going to deal with them all. I’m going to have to address a bit here and there. I’m going to deal with this treasure galleon on the horizon, then address some of it in the cool down phase.”

She placed a steaming mug on my desk. “Holler if you need anything. I’m going to work on my tree.”

My crew took the galleon, and it posed yet another problem. Throughout their adventures, they’ve never had enough. They didn’t have enough cannon, they needed munitions, they needed crew. This time they have all of those things. Sailcloth, food, whatever they need. The galleon provided them with too much.

Gold is heavy, despite what the movies show us. You don’t just toss gold bars around like potatoes. A bellyful of gold will make Lanternfish draft lower in the sea, and limit her mobility in a fight. They even have to distribute it correctly to keep the ship running true.

There’s also the question of how to cashier the crew when there’s too much. They can’t pile it under cots and hammocks. They also lose motivation to continue on with the war effort. The crew is tasked with warfare, but could easily retire to a nice island or villa somewhere with this much gold.

Most of my time was spent in the cool down phase while James speculated on the logistics. He’s a worrier, and that suits his character.

Lisa returned with fresh coffee, and an outfit change.

Lisa Burton

“What’s with the little guys?”

“I only got a couple of them out for inspiration. There are another dozen in the fridge. They think my tree has weird fruit growing on it.”

“Your ensemble is inspiring, too. You make a picturesque pirate.”

“Darned straight. Let me know if you need my Serang outfit for a chapter or two.”

“Not today. I’m about done. I have a couple of other projects to get to. 2100 words is a good day after being away for so long. We’ll pick it back up tomorrow.”

***

It feels good to get back to new material after my break. I want HMS Lanternfish to hit the shelves in 2020, and it would be best if it were in the Spring to spread things around a bit. Guess I’d better keep chipping away at it.

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Finally!!!

Today wound up being a good writing day. Otto got me up around six this morning. I took the time for breakfast, feeding the dogs, surfing my social media. My typical morning.

I read back through what I wrote the other day, then forged ahead. My MO is to rush forward and get to the action. My better stories come across when I take my time. Part of my rush is why I come up with short word counts. Having a large cast really helps on these, too.

Part of me worries about making the intro boring, but I don’t think that’s the case here. I threw in a few fun things, you know a killing and dumping of the body, a man hunt by the root monsters, cracking open a tomb, that kind of thing.

Now that we’re underway, they sailed right into a fight. Their enemies were watching for them to leave the secure port, and sprung a trap. (It didn’t work out well for them.) It feels good to be back at sea with these guys.

Be right back… HMS Lanternfish is at 14,600 words now. It’s a nice start. I lament losing all that time, and tomorrow more than most, but Wednesday is looking good for moving ahead even more.

Tomorrow, Old What’s Her Face is off, so I’m going to the dump with my peach branches. There may be a few more errands in store and that’s okay. The day is pretty much shot anyway.

About a month ago, we decided to plant a zucchini in one of our old pots from the porch. Today, I cut these.

I’m sure we’ll be drowning in zucchini at some point, but it’s kind of fun. I like the idea of not giving up any of our yard and using a pot.

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Small updates

I still have tool problems, but those are all solved tonight. This is my way of saying I’ll have to finish my tree pruning tomorrow. At least everything is in order now, and I should make short work of the remainder. Even have a fresh saw blade now.

I spent some serious time with the Lanternfish project. Beginnings are always tough, and this one is tougher because it’s the second book in a trilogy. In reality, it takes time to stock a ship and man her. In fiction, I could just glance off that and set sail. I think a better option for me is to merge some of this. It comes across a bit more realistically, but they’ll get moving in a better time frame.

To keep things interesting, there are some root monster antics. While the pirates are making ready, the monsters have some assignments to deal with. This is going to force me to tone them down for a spell later on. I believe the little guys are better in small doses. It’s the “leave ’em wanting more” theory in action.

As soon as we hit the open sea, I have a fantasy creature I’m going to weave in. This will also serve as a bit of foreshadowing, so bonus there. There is also going to be an enemy waiting for them, so I can get right to some adventure after taking time to get underway.

It came in at about 3500 words today. Since there were no new words yesterday, I’m behind on my target of 20,000 words during my vacation.

I also read that book I’ve been getting to. I gave The Scout: Dark Crossings, by D. L. Cross five stars. D. L. Cross is actually Staci Troilo. This is a short story that stands alone in her Invasion series. I’ve read the first novel too, and loved it.

My suggestion is to read The Scout. It only takes a half-hour or so, and I think you’ll like it. If you like it, there is a whole series in this setting. I’ll be reading the whole thing.

Tomorrow is the day I call my parents, so some of my morning will be dedicated to that. Pruning trees will fit in well with that timetable. I don’t know if I can check in with Lanternfish, but it could happen.

I always want more, but my task-list is getting checked off a bit here and there.

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More convention stuff

I have no idea how all this is tallied, but you can still vote for The Lanternfish in cover wars at the OWS CyCon.

This is the voting portal. Since you can still vote, I assume I advanced to the next round.  here. My guess is that I start from zero in the new round, so feel free to vote again. If any of you know more about this stuff, drop me a hint.

The Root Monsters are entered in character battles here. Voting is open now, so you can show these little guys some love too.

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Help a guy out

It looks like the voting has already started. I signed up for one cover war, plus two character battles.

You can vote for Voyage of the Lanternfish in cover wars here. (Open already)

You can vote for everyone’s favorite, The Root Monsters, in character battles here. (Starting tomorrow.)

The root monsters have a little something to say in the Fantasy Sound Off Board.

The Hat has a little something to say in the Urban Fantasy Sound Off Board.

The Hat is entered in the character battles in his genre too. You can vote for him here. (Voting starts the 17th. Hint, it’s a Lisa Burton poster of her wearing The Hat.)

OWS CyCon is an online convention. It promises three days of fun, adventure, and learning. While you’re visiting, check out my author booth. There are a selection of Lisa Burton posters and a few of my books available.

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