Tag Archives: root monsters

Gotta stop for the day

Today was my flex day and Lanternfish was my goal. I wound up waking early, even though that wasn’t my intention. After I tended the dogs, I read back through my previous chapter, then let her rip.

Last time, I wrote right up to the cusp of Lanternfish’s biggest battle. Today it was time for that battle. A little bittersweet for me because it’s also Lanternfish’s final battle. I’ve spent a lot of years with this fictional ship.

Don’t worry, it isn’t all devastation and she has a different role, but the main characters do too. To grow, sometimes you have to give some things up.

There were deaths among the named crew members. This is war after all, and some of that needs to happen to keep things realistic.

There was a conflict between a Prelonian officer and Sergeant Schuster about rank. James settled that with a promotion that made Schuster into a captain. Since he is a marine, the rank isn’t as high as a naval captain. Quite different actually.

Schuster had a big night with his own POV adventure to go along with it. Banquo went with him and deployed the poison of Big Boogah which is a nice tie back to the original story.

Mule and Yoshiko also had a long night, but they were bailed out by Mule’s knife, also known as the black spot. Now they have the obligation to find and recover it. A nice tie to the second story.

Mal saved the day with one of his magical creations, but I need to go back and make that more prominent. Maybe add some results readers can appreciate.

Root monsters were involved, but I only focused on them in the aftermath. One named Fishbone is walking around with a fifty-caliber hole through his chest and the others think it’s hilarious.

I stopped with James in a state of exhaustion. Everything changed in the scope of one night. He has dead and wounded, he lost his ship. And he doesn’t know if it made any difference at all.

This is the perfect place to cut it off for the day. My next day will be a reflection and assessment section.

The events of this battle will lead directly to problems for the Palumbos, and I need to dream up how they will handle the two or three things I need them to accomplish.

Serang is at the point of her big event, but that seems like something I won’t reach this weekend.

All told it came to 4200 words. That’s amazing by my standards, but it has to do with getting out of that middle slog. This book is at 45,000 now. I hoped for about 50K at the midpoint so I’m a little shy. Since this is fantasy, I’d like to break 100K with the finished product.

When I write that fast, the results are usually weak. I like what I have, but I’m sure it’s full of word echoes and soft descriptions that I’ll have to address later.

Right now, I’m pleased with the results. I have a couple of guest spots to schedule, so the timing for that is perfect.

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Have to be happy with today

It all came to 2800 words today. I’m always apprehensive, but it feels right to me.

It started with Serang’s army making plans for a major attack. They have to keep the moon phase in mind because of the Fulminites and their special ability.

What I didn’t care for was the three page chapter. I try not to do those, but I got everything I needed down and didn’t want to add filler just to make this section ten pages. I see these in books from time to time, so I figure I’m safe. It is what it must be.

I switched to James and Lanternfish, but handled this a bit differently. By this time, readers have experienced sea battles, so I told a bit to move the story along. We joined James at the aftermath of a battle where they wound up rescuing some Prelonian prisoners from the Hollish.

Then they went ashore to examine a signal from Diego Palumbo. In one of his previous sections, Diego left a bit of intelligence behind in hopes James might find it. Back in HMS Lanternfish, they used special lanterns for this purpose.

I turned recovery of the data into a root monster competition where the prize was getting a name. It became quite an event with monsters being thrown off a cliff, lots of laughter, and some confusion over what James might want. All told four monsters got names: Papers, Buckle, Fishbone, and Splat.

In brief, the army is in place with a plan. The “navy” is in the right spot, but needs to review their treasure. Even Diego and Camila are set up for their next adventure. I also have a cool sequence planned for Mal the witch doctor. And it all wrapped up with root monsters.

I’m pretty happy. The next stretch behind the keyboard will have to be James interpreting the data, but then all hell is going to break loose on multiple fronts.

Tomorrow is my errand day, then I drive to Nevada for a visit. Mom doesn’t have wifi, but I can pigtale to my phone if anyone needs me. I’m up at Story Empire with an interesting story structure. I’ll monitor comments, then check them once more before my drive. I will be out of range until I get to my parent’s home, but I can check again there.

Long drives are heavenly for spending with my Muse. I discovered a new song that gave me a character. It will be a couple of years before I can use him, but I might get an idea how a special grave digger fits into Lizzie’s universe over in the hat series. The song is too obscure for her band to play, but it’s a cool character idea.

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The big squirrel festival

I had two goals today, and those didn’t have a lot of parameters. I wanted to go back over my existing work with a fine toothed comb, and I wanted to add some small amount of new words to Lanternfish.

What I didn’t plan on was the big squirrel festival in the back yard. This started off with one squirrel running down the fence then staring inside at the dogs as he waited.

That’s enough to make Frankie blow a gasket, so she had to chase him off. Another squirrel showed up, and the neighbor dog chased it away. The sound of her made Frankie have to go out and play, then they chased each other up and down the fence. I suppose the squirrels watched this part from the treetops.

Between bouts of this, more squirrels showed up, and we repeated the process all over again. Sometimes two of them at once.

Otto doesn’t care much anymore. This usually happens when a younger dog takes up the challenge, and Frankie is the younger of the two.

Somewhere in the middle of that, I managed to work through one chapter of Lunar Boogie, and one Chapter of Lanternfish. I still assume they suck, but I did what I could.

I also managed to add 1000 words to Lanternfish; not my most productive day. Even then, I resorted to root monster antics because they usually flow pretty fast.

There is a quiet and mysterious scene for Serang coming up. There will be some fantasy elements and a discovery involved. I just have to finish a chapter on the open sea before I can take that on.

I’ll try to dabble a bit more today, but right now I have to get up and let Frankie out. It seems there is a squirrel in the back yard.

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Strange writing day

I wound up with a bachelor’s weekend again. This is when my wife traditionally goes to Nevada to visit her brother for the Super Bowl.

As per usual, I am watching the dogs and hanging out here. I really enjoy these weekends, because I can work on my projects without a lot of interruption. Or so, I thought.

I’ve been moping around lately about Lanternfish. This project has a lot of moving parts, but I’ve been through this before. I know that if I only make a few commitments, the pieces will start coming together like they should. That was my big goal for the weekend.

I tried to work on it, but the dogs weren’t having it. I’ve never seen them so needy, so I assume they’re missing Mom. They each needed up in my lap, one at a time. As soon as one was happy, the other one needed me. We chased the squirrel.

Two fat bulldogs acted like treeing hounds and they got the stupid thing cornered. Then they started coming to the door to get me to help. Since this is just my crabapple tree, all I have to do is walk out and the squirrel makes a run for it.

We repeated this action a couple of times, until I decided I wasn’t getting anything accomplished. Days when I can do what I want are kind of rare birds.

Ultimately, I sequestered myself in the room I used when I had to work from home. My goal was to start adding those little stitches that start to bring the Lanternfish cast back together.

Naturally, I did this by breaking them down even further. Diego Palumbo went on a field trip without his wife. He’s looking for things he can interpolate into predictions she can magically make for the Hollish army. This has worked well, so far, but now they need more. The ultimate goal was to place the old green signal lantern on the cliffs beside the sea. Readers of HMS Lanternfish will know this is how they communicated with the ship.

That’s where it all went a little crazy. Diego is not a hero in the traditional sense of the term. He’s a con man, and a coward, so when he ran into trouble, I had to handle it a bit differently. I also wound up adding to the cast, but I hope to minimize this new character.

The whole thing kind of baffled me, because my target points were simple enough, but when I ended today, I had 4000 new words.

Of the three different stories going on right now, the Palumbos are supposed to be the shorter ones. I liked the way it came out, and Diego wound up learning a lot more than he anticipated.

Next on my checklist is some actual warfare for James and Lanternfish. It’s time to start getting deep into the action. This will be followed by a more tranquil section for Serang and her army. She will make a major discovery in that chapter.

I’m off on Monday, so if I can get that far over the weekend it will be super indeed. To do that, I’ll have to resist jumping over to Lunar Boogie, so we’ll see how it goes.

Honestly, all new words count, so it really doesn’t matter which book they apply to.

I may even schedule an evening writing session. Depends upon how I’m feeling about it all. That’s more of the beauty of the rare bachelor weekend.

Wish me luck.

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Did what I could today

Sundays are never good writing days for me. This is the day I call my parents, and that usually eats up a considerable part of the morning. The other bookend is when Old What’s Her Face gets home from work.

Since I just saw my parents, and they’re coming tomorrow to get the repairs finished, our conversation was short. What to do? What to do?

I cracked open the Lanternfish MS, read the two previous chapters, then started writing. James and crew are on the open ocean once more and headed for war. Piracy is a distant memory for now.

I even managed a good section with root monster antics. Today’s effort only came to 1500 words, but I like what I accomplished. Chapters have to bounce between characters since some of them are in other places right now. I feel like it was a productive day.

I also addressed the Lanternfish critiques I’ve been parked on. This chapter was about my married cons, and the game they’re working. My experts seemed to like it, but I made plenty of boneheaded mistakes to address.

I also wrote my next post for Story Empire. I’ll get it scheduled sometime this afternoon.

While none of it seems outstanding by itself, when you tally it all up, I had a pretty good writing day. I was due, and feel good about how the weekend shaped up.

Hope all of you had wonderful weekends, too.

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How I spent my day

I started off setting up the old Mac, now that my work PC has been replaced by a laptop. The laptop gives me more versatility, and I have my desk back.

After the inevitable upgrades, I spent some time letting my email program catch up. All of that took a few hours. They weren’t wasted hours, we played ball with the dogs and did more regular things.

Then I knuckled down and put HMS Lanternfish through Amazon’s grist mill. This led me to adding the series data to Voyage of the Lanternfish, which I managed to screw up. It probably doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, but I wanted to call it the Lanternfish Trilogy, and wound up submitting as the Lanternfish Series.

I decided to go with it at that point. It was that or wait a day, change book one again, then take a stab at book two. If I need to, I’ll change them later.

Right now, I’m waiting for the green light from Amazon. It can take up to 72 hours, so I’m not going to panic… much.

I’m doing something different this time. Since this is a series/trilogy, I can play some games. I’m going to run out Voyage of the Lanternfish as a freeby for the five days Amazon lets me. At the same time, I’m going to offer HMS Lanternfish as a 99¢ book. I completely stole some of this from John Howell. (Sorry, John.)

Pretty good deal if buyers time it right. Book one and two of the trilogy for a grand total of 99¢. My desire is to bring more readers in, maybe net some early reviews, and see what happens.

Book one will return to its regular price after my Amazon clock runs out, book two will remain 99¢ for a while longer, then I’m raising it to a reasonable price.

If everything looks like it’s working somewhat, I still have Serang that could be used as a free book to walk readers in, too. Watch for Lisa Burton. She has some new posters she’s taking on the road to help me out.

I may have a day or so lag time before I appear on any blogs. I need HMS Lanternfish to exist before I start the free promo on Voyage.

It’s a plan. No idea if it will work, but I have high hopes. My understanding is the second book often doesn’t perform well until the trilogy is complete. Maybe I can crack that nut just a tiny bit.

Watch this space. Pirates, sea battles, monsters, and root monsters are about to return. Oh, and there are some scary assed Japanese style ghosts included this time, too.

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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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