Tag Archives: root monsters

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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Back to writing

Today was my flex day, and I intended to make the pixels fly. It didn’t exactly work out that way, but I’ll take it.

I decided to bounce back to Lanternfish. I’m right on the cusp of starting the end game of this book, which is the second of a trilogy. There were just a few bits of scene setting that I needed to address.

Don’t laugh, but I found a picture on Pinterest that relates to one of my characters. This will make a good Lisa Burton promotional poster, so I decided to write it into the tale. I even found some particular shoes this character needed. You never can tell what will inspire me.

Doing this gave me the opportunity for a root monster adventure, and I’m pretty happy with how that turned out, too. The downside is I didn’t crack 2000 words. I had a whole day, but it seemed to take forever to get all this down.

I’m happy with what I produced, and that’s what counts. I had the chance to write more, but quality matters and I feel this is good stuff.

I also ordered a cover and three Lisa Burton Posters from Sean Harrington. Both Lanternfish and Mrs. Molony are at about the same stage of completion. I had to pick one, so I went with Lanternfish. I sent Sean the ideas I have for the cover, and think it will look pretty cool. Now I need to wait patiently. I also have some great ideas for Lisa’s art, but those will have to happen after the cover comes.

In other news, I haven’t been on Twitter for two weeks now. I was a daily user, but it takes so much time. I’ve been tweeting out everyone’s blog posts and will continue to do so. I had some support over there and failed to reciprocate. I also had some new followers, and need to do something about all of them.

I checked in today and did what I could. I promise to try harder in the future. Twitter has been mildly productive for me, so I need to keep up on it.

I also sent off a promotional post for Grinders. It should go live by the end of the week, and I’ll share it here. I think it’s a good post and hope it draws some attention.

Tomorrow is another work from home day for me, so that’s about all I can manage. I got permission to take some time off at the end of the week, and may use some leave. I have hundreds of hours of leave available, and should use a little of it. It caps eventually. In that case, maybe I can move one of my stories ahead. That short story needs some attention and I should focus there.

Should focus doesn’t absolutely mean I will, but it kind of sounds like a plan. Sort of???

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Back to the writing cabin

I got a decent start this morning, and didn’t take time to look at any social media. There is a particular section of the book I wanted to complete.

Lisa met me in the kitchen in her pirate garb, then followed me to the office. “Are you going to include the adventure with Waltus, or not?”

I’ve been toying with this section for a long time. It goes in, it gets cut, it goes back in, etc. The main issue boils down to a lot of making ready, setting sail, and traveling. The arctic is a fascinating place, but the interesting bits are few and far between. I know, I’ve been there.

I didn’t want it to be unrealistic, but have to keep the modern fiction reader in mind. I decided to include a bit of crush/romance because people on a ship are still people. Then I added Waltus back into the story.

People seem to love the root monsters, and their tales kind of reflect the truth, but aren’t documentaries either. Instead of living through the adventure, I had James come across the aftermath and ask what the hell happened. Flattop isn’t maybe as animated as the other monsters, but he did a good job filling his captain in about the attack by Waltus on the ships.

This all played out against a stark icy landscape that posed an obstacle to getting the ships where they need to go. I included some wandering around on the sea ice, and eventually found a laborious way to move all three ships. I stopped after moving the first one, but I have two more to go. I’ll likely shorten those parts up, because readers will have already seen that action.

It was 12:30 when I looked up. “Okay, Waltus is back in. I should probably work on my next Story Empire post.”

“I want to read it,” Lisa said.

“You’ll have to wait until I leave. I need to start researching my next post.”

“Killjoy.” The WiFi went down.

“What happened? I need to look up some data about the Guardian Archetype.”

“I turned it off.”

“Don’t be a brat. You can read Lanternfish after I leave. I need the Internet so I can get my next post ready.”

“Nope, I’m the Threshold Guardian. You can’t complete your task without appeasing me.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me! I can’t believe you… oh. I get it. Now turn the WiFi back on so I can rough out this post.”

Lisa smirked, then spun on her heels and left. The WiFi came back on, and I managed to rough out my post, and even found a decent graphic for it.

Old What’s Her Face and I have a combined errand trip this afternoon, and I might even get the post scheduled before the evening is over. It came to well over 3000 words of new fiction, but I didn’t keep an exact count again.

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A writing day

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.”

Lisa Burton

“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.

“Bologna? Really?”

“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.

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Time for some Woodford Reserve

Today was my flex day. I started off with my usual surf through social media, read blogs, etc.

Then I turned my attention to the Lanternfish manuscript. I always read my last chapter before starting, and managed to correct a couple of typos. (Probably missed some, too.) I do this to get back into the story.

My goal was to have them sail away from their stop in Giapon by the end of the morning. I kind of made it.

This is because there was a lot to do. Serang needed to appoint officers on her inferior ship. None of the people aboard like each other, but she made a good start with them. Its sail pattern is inferior, and its going to have a hard time even keeping up with Lanternfish or La Girona, and they aren’t fast ships.

This led to some team building when a new sail pattern required construction of additional sails. They used people from all the various factions and Serang made them work together.

I also planted a little surprise for James in the form of a gift from the shogun. He isn’t interested in his new teenage concubine, but his adopted son sure is. The hopes are that some of this tension can carry my story while they sail the arctic waters. This new character will get a bigger moment later in the story.

In an emergency, I have a loose idea for an encounter with a monster that will happen outside of James’s view. He will only get a report from the root monsters after the fact. I need to figure out how to drop enough clues as they call the monster Waltus, so readers can figure out it was a walrus monster. I’ll only write it if I think the story could use it.

At the end of my day, Lanternfish and La Girona were still tied to the dock. Serang’s ship, called a turtle boat, was being pushed away from the dock by some pole men. May sound lame, but I’m counting it. They’re leaving now.

Research said the turtle boat was a real thing, and seems to have some connection to the Korean Peninsula. I also got lucky with names again. While Giapon is an old reference to Japan, Goryeo is an old reference to Korea. These make good names for my fictional locations.

I ended my fiction at 2900 words. My next section will be finishing the repairs while at sea. James wants to get the natives away from Giapon, and hopes to avoid a revolt over taking them away. It was a good day for me.

Grinders is still chugging along. I contacted two more hosts for next week, and already heard back from one. I prepared that post and sent it out. It’s a post about my antagonist, so I think it could draw some real attention.

Tonight it’s Woodford Reserve on the rocks. Back to the paycheck job tomorrow.

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A different kind of week

I spent the first two days of it sick. This means sick enough to stay home from work. It’s one of those typical sinus things I seem to get about every other winter. This one came with fever and deep coughing. It’s worse when I sleep, so I haven’t been getting much of that.

Wednesday, I got up and assessed how I felt. I decided I could return to the office. I tried to hit it hard in the morning, and got a lot accomplished. I probably should have stopped at noon. The shivering returned, but I had aspirin with me. After a couple of those it settled down. I think the fever broke for good near quitting time.

I probably wasn’t firing on all cylinders either day, but I managed to get more accomplished than I could have from home.

Today was my flex day and I looked forward to some writing. When I left Lanternfish, they’d landed in Giapon and stumbled into a dangerous situation. Today was the day to flesh out that situation.

It wound up being a section of dialog, and I felt pretty good about it. This exchange is supposed to take place over several days, and my goal is to have it come across like a verbal chess match with a very powerful man.

I’d like to break this up with some other goings on that involve the crew. This shouldn’t be too hard, but I’m going to try minimizing the root monsters. They had a pretty active role in the last part, and readers can get too much of a good thing.

All told, I was happy with today’s progress until I checked my word count. 676 words! That’s all I managed. I know low output days are part of the gig, but that’s pretty minuscule by my standards.

There are several reasons for this, one of which could be my cold. It may be that I’ve truly reached the middle slog, like happens on every book. It could also simply be one of those off days that happens to all of us.

Old What’s Her Face has to go in at midnight, then pull a double shift tomorrow. In theory, I should be able to accomplish a bit more then. However, I agreed to stay up until she goes to work. My coughing all night isn’t going to help her get a little sleep. I also need to get a haircut, but could do that any time tomorrow.

My goals are to nudge Lanternfish ahead in the morning, get the haircut in the afternoon, then my wife is alluding to date night in the evening. I don’t have faith that she’ll want to go out after that shift, but will stay open to the idea.

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Still on vacation, kind of

I milked the system to gain a small vacation for writing purposes. New Years Day was a holiday, I took Thursday and Friday off, then the weekend came, and my flex day is Monday. It took some manipulation, but I gained some reasonable personal time by doing it.

Old What’s Her Face was off all the same days, except for tomorrow. There is good and bad to this process. Understand that we’ve been married for a long time, and sometimes you just need your personal time. Still, we watched some movies together, even managed a date night last night. Our son gave us a gift card for Christmas, so we had a nice seafood dinner on a weekend where we didn’t get paid.

I wound up going into a different room to do a bit of writing each day. I spent a few weeks making a playlist, and wrote with music in the background this time. This is theatrical stuff, and normally fades into the background, except for those few pieces that grab you and force you to listen. I know people love playlists, so here’s a brief list of some places I sampled from:

  • Last of the Mohicans
  • Kill Bill
  • Once Upon a Time in the West
  • Wonder Woman
  • Pirates of the Caribbean (of course)
  • The Forbidden Kingdom
  • The Exorcist
  • 47 Ronin

There are a few others, but it covers a broad spectrum. I intend to keep adding to this, because some days it helps the words flow. I’m going to scope out a few other old films, but will wait until payday before doing so.

It’s a whole different kind of music from my Lizzie and The Hat playlist. That one is full of old Rock and Roll, Blues, and a few other cuts from odd places, even Glam Rock.

Writing happened. Every day was over a thousand words, but I never had one of those blockbuster days. Those just don’t come along very often.

My pirates explored Bungo Bungo, the floating island. I had a lot of fun coming up with new creatures for a rather magical place. The Omcrom were a lot of fun, but I struggled to keep them mundane. I wanted tribal creatures that were rather benign, since everything else that shows up is murderous or carnivorous. They’re about knee high, wear simple leather togas, walk upright, but occasionally use their knuckles in a four legged trot. They have long tails, and the beaks of sea eagles. They’re trimmed out with moss where hair should be, but I didn’t go into detail about whether this is a modified form of hair or feathers.

In typical Lanternfish style, you get a glimpse of their culture, but no more than my pirates might observe while they’re on Bungo Bungo. I kind of want a bit more from them, but there is one more encounter as they’re leaving the island. That one involves the root monsters, and could turn out well.

There is also the gigantic oil toad that seems to be in charge. He even gets dialog. Then I came up with the idea of the boatmen, which aren’t men at all. They’re scary and nasty.

I have a couple of images on Pinterest that I melded together to create the Omcrom. These are line diagrams of what an artist calls trolls, and I think they are wonderful. I also have a few images of Stellar’s Sea Eagles, that became part of their makeup. Here is my piracy board if any of you are interested. I can’t share someone’s graphics here.

The pirates reached the cave and obtained the tidbit of information they need to return to the war. I still need to get them off the island and back to the ship. After obtaining the info, I should probably move on fairly fast. It’s going to take a couple of days to get back to the ship, and I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do with that section. I even managed to weave in a callback to Voyage of the Lanternfish, and a couple of small ones to Serang.

I started at nearly 40K words, and stopped today at 47,700. Not a real productive vacation, but I did some things with my wife along the way, too. We watched Captain Marvel, and I don’t think it deserved some of the fanboy bad press it received. I enjoyed it. I also polished off the last two inches of my prized bottle of Laphroaig. I’ll have to budget for a new one come payday. Don’t panic, there are still a few treasured bits of bourbon in my cabinet. I’ll survive. There are also a few pints of stout around here.

With a stellar day tomorrow, I’d like to work up to 50K. I also have to make that root monster scene come across well. I’m going to hit it hard tomorrow. I’m tempted to come up with another monster or creature, but Bungo Bungo might be interesting enough now. I’ll figure that out as I go.

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Escaping the storm

I got started at the writing cabin fairly early today. Lisa Burton, my robotic assistant was in a snit.

“I don’t know how to flatten my skull so I can cosplay one of those Boondish people in your story.”

“Don’t worry about it. If they get any lines at all, they’re going to be minimal.”

“I have some adjustable parts so I can change my facial features, but not to that extent.”

“Maybe you can try a hair bump. A big one.”

“It would have to be big, but I might try it.”

“I wouldn’t worry about it. The root monsters get plenty of dialog, and you haven’t tried to dress up like one of them.”

“I suppose that’s true. So what are we writing today?”

“James is wounded, he’s had his vision, and they’re still running from the big storm. They don’t know it, but they’re on their way to Bungo Bungo.”

“What’s with all these names?”

“I’m trying to borrow from the Pacific islands as much as possible. I set Lanternfish in a fantasy world to avoid comparison to another famous Pirate adventure. I’m also avoiding any Carribean references if I can.”

“Got it, so what’s on the agenda?”

“James has to process his vision, then make a new plan without all the data he’d like.”

“Doesn’t that happen in all the stories?”

“You caught me. I think it’s an important part of character building. Because they have the second ship, and all the extra mouths, they’re running low on food. They can’t just pull into McDonalds and fill up. Serang even has them using boards and hand lines to catch fish.”

“That calls back to her own book, so that’s kind of cool.”

“When I was a kid, people used to troll in boats with a board wrapped in fishing line. It’s totally not PC today, but everyone called such a rig a Chinaman.”

“Oh, so you made the connection in your mind that Serang would know about this way of fishing.”

“Yeah, but I don’t come right out and call it that. Besides, it’s a fantasy world, there is no China.”

Lisa left to try bumping her hair to absurd levels, and I went to work. James processed his vision, healed his burns, but not his bad back, and they escaped the storm. They made it to the floating island called Bungo Bungo, and even stepped on the beach. Then I had to give up for the day.

Bungo Bungo is a magical place, and because it moves around, it’s going to have a variety of things from all over the world occupying it. I’m pretty excited to get going on this section, but ran out of gas.

I started the weekend at about 31000 words, added around 2000 on Saturday. Sunday I didn’t do anything. I never broke 40000 words, but I’m thiiiiiis close. That means today came in at just under 7000 words, and that’s the best day I’ve had in a long time.

The magical beer horns sounded, and were chased into the office by a pair of root monsters. Beer sloshed all over the floor. I scooped one up before the monsters made a mess of things.

Something tells me Lisa is going to put the monsters back in the vegetable crisper while I’m at work.

Lisa Burton

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All over the place today

Old What’s Her Face is off this weekend, so I did what I could. Things were pretty calm this morning so I added words to HMS Lanternfish. I didn’t track it, but it feels like about 2000 words.

Part of this was coming down from the action scene I wrote Wednesday. My crew, particularly the captain, needs time to process, and in this case heal. Those bits always take me longer to write.

Then I added a few root monster antics, because they’ve been fairly quiet for a chapter or two. It worked out kind of cool, because it led into a scene involving St. Elmo’s fire at the top of the main mast.

Since this is fantasy, a rare natural phenomenon isn’t good enough. It brought James a vision, and it’s going to let me reveal some cool things. I just haven’t written all of that yet.

Basically, it involved the king of Saphelon discussing the arrival of the Fulminites on their continent. James’s father started the first war on behalf of this king, but that’s not in the history books. The books make the current enemy, Hollish, appear to be the aggressors. The fun part is that it was James’s father who brought the Fulminites to this part of the world. When I write that out, maybe that’s why he fled with his young son to a safer area.

I also got to add a minor sea creature, and that helps with world building. Then another root monster earned a name.

Beyond that, I had my final critiques for Grinders to deal with. I spent a few hours tweaking this story, and am basically finished. I’ll take it out in January and give it a complete read over before publishing. I think you guys are going to like it.

Tonight, I sent an email to Sean Harrington about cover art and Lisa Burton posters. Grinders is a stand alone book, and was one of my side projects over the summer. I hope to release it about the time the snow melts.

In other news, we have our Star Wars tickets for the 21st. We’ve also been digging The Mandalorian on Disney+. Just listen to this theme. You have to give it a few, because the intro is long.

When I close my eyes and listen, I get a visual of Serang walking down the dock toward some unseen enemy whilst twirling her guandao slowly. It has a throwback sound to it that reminds me of Ennio Morricone.

Aside from this, Apple has yet another update. This one screwed up WordPress for me. Now everything I do, it tries to force me into the app. Don’t get me wrong, the app does some great things, but reading and commenting on blogs isn’t one of them. I have a way to force it all to work in Safari, but don’t think I should have to. Why does it seem like any upgrade only seems to break things that worked fine before? It seems to be that way for all apps, and platforms.

I doubt much, if any, progress is happening tomorrow, but my flex day is Monday. I kind of expect to move Lanternfish ahead on Monday.

Hope all of you are having a great weekend. It’s time for a nice vanilla porter and an older Star Wars movie.

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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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