Tag Archives: sirens

Ugh! A day of distraction

Old What’s Her Face went to Nevada to visit her brother. This has become an annual thing for Super Bowl weekend. We aren’t that big of football fans anyway, and it’s no big deal.

I looked at it as an advantage, and intended to make the cannons roar and come up with more root monster antics. Lanternfish is my primary project right now, and it’s time to add some words.

After sleeping in for a few hours, I went to the writing cabin and built a fire in my office. Lisa usually has the place all warmed up for me, but she’s still making art for Grinders.

Once the bite of cold mellowed, I opened my iPad and went to work. I’m on the downside of one adventure, so this is kind of a recovery section. I usually fill those with planning and assessment of what they accomplished, maybe something about their next move.

These can be slower to write, because there are no cannonades or magical adventures. It’s all about traveling. This time, I elected to minimize most of it and simply get the crew to their next location.

Since their plan is to restock both Lanternfish and La Girona, there isn’t much to go over. It isn’t like they have massive goals for this stop.

It’s going to be a surprising turn of events for them in Giapon. (Pseudo Japan.) That also allowed me to shorten up the planning phase.

That’s when the knock came at the door.

“Lisa, can you…” Oh yeah. Nobody here but me.

I opened the door to find a tall, leggy blonde in a linen skirt suit. Her hair dangled down to her midsection. She looked over her glasses at me. “Looks like you could use some help.”

“Libraria. Where are the rest of the Sirens?”

“Oh, we’re all here.” She spread her hands and wiggled her fingers.

Conversia, the gorgeous black woman wore a gold scoop-neck top that… well she should have been at the Grammys with some two sided tape, moved in from the left. Her Afro hair danced in the breeze.

Little Wiki, the redhead, stepped to her right. Her hair still had a sequence of different reds buried in it, and was in an A-line that looked like it had been chewed into shape by gophers. She wore striped stockings that ended just before her frayed denim shorts and a sequence of friendship bracelets on both arms that rivaled the stockings for color. She made her odd wrinkle-nosed smile and wiggled her black fingernails. “Hi. Can we come in?”

“Kind of cold out here,” Conversia said.

I couldn’t help myself from looking. “Yeah, I see that. Come in.”

Conversia smirked and winked. They all came inside, then made their way to the office beside my fire.

Wiki flopped on the couch while Libraria checked my draft. Conversia turned her fanny toward the fireplace.

“This isn’t bad,” Libraria said. “You need to add some depth when you get to Giapon. Giapon is the name Portuguese sailors gave the country that would become Nippon or Japan of today. You’ll need setting, weather, people, architecture. Everything. What do you have planned next?”

“They aren’t going to scoop up supplies and just sail on. That would be a letdown for my readers. I figure the leader is going to take them in for his own amusement, but they’ll be almost prisoners until he gets bored with them.”

“Emperor, Shogun, Gosanke leaders???”

“Uh, huh. One of those.”

“Oh honey, you really need our help.” Conversia moved in, uncomfortably close.

“Well. Nearly the whole world is at war. There’s the one the Lanternfish crew is headed for, but there is one between Giapon and Di Guo Quishi that Serang is most familiar with.”

Wiki turned her iPad Mini around to show us. “There were fifty-one different Shogun. Some of them didn’t live too long, but it might be a great source of names.”

“Where are they going to make port?” Libraria asked.

“I’m way ahead of you. They’re going to the Eastern side of the islands away from the the local war. I wanted somewhere toward the north so they could dip in and out. I chose Mito.”

Libraria reached in her handbag, searched through something, then produced a book that was bigger than the bag itself. “This is the complete history of Mito from the ice age through today. You really should read the whole thing.”

“How did you fit that in there?”

“We’re kind of special.” She guided me to my chair, then sat on the arm beside me, placing the book in my lap.

Conversia sat on the ottoman, then leaned way to far forward. “I think we should go to Japan. Nothing like conversing with the locals to get a feel for things. Take in the smells and colors. You can read the book during the flight.”

Wiki turned her iPad around once more. “Look at these beautiful gardens. I’d like to see those. It says they have an ancient aqueduct that’s still in use today. Oh, all that has to go in your book.”

“No it doesn’t. I’m not writing a travelogue. This isn’t even supposed to be Earth. It’s just based somewhat on real places. If I want to place a volcano there, I have every right.”

“Did you know there are two different kinds of volcanoes?” Libraria asked.

“Yes. And stop that–”

Wiki turned her device around once more. “There is a shield volcano and–”

“Stop! Please. All I need to do is snitch a few things to make the world realistic. Then I can add in some fantasy elements, and move my story ahead.”

“What kind of fantasy elements?” Conversia asked.

“I don’t know. We haven’t really dealt with ghosts and such yet.”

“Excellent choice.” Libraria lifted the book from my lap then slid herself into its place. “Japan has some terrifying ghosts. There is one called Funayurei who are the ghosts of those who died at sea. They approach ships and ask for a ladle. If someone gives them one, they will scoop seawater aboard so fast the ship will sink.” She produced another book. “Then there are the River Boys. They look like turtles and are tricksters who can drown people. Oh, and Tsunami Ghosts are horrifying. I’m trying to keep things nautical for you, but we can look further if you like.”

“Those are wonderful,” Conversia said. “The Tsunami is recent enough we could probably interview people who’ve seen the ghosts to get an idea of what they’re really like.”

“Okay, you ladies need to slow down. I know your game is to crash me on the rocks of research so I never finish my trilogy. Still, it’s all pretty interesting.”

“That’s the spirit.” Libraria ran her French tipped nails through my hair. “You’ve got a lot of reading to do.”

“I know my way around a kitchen. I’ll make us some coffee.” Conversia’s heels clacked away.

Wiki turned her iPad around once more. “Do we want these airline tickets, or not?”

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A writing lesson, Craig style

Lisa* the robot girl and I sat in the front office at the cabin. I pecked away at The Yak Guy Project for about thirty minutes. Part of my story involves a gradual movement from the guy’s familiar environment to one that is a bit more Asian. This requires a little more world building. I suppose it’s because the yak screams Asia to me.

“What kind of world building should I do to make it real for the readers?”

Lisa said, “I suppose clothing and style might help. Maybe some mannerisms.”

“I don’t know, clothing is always your thing. It kind of feels like low hanging fruit at this point. What about silk?”

A knock came at the door. Lisa spread her hands to indicate she wasn’t expecting anyone as she walked to the door. When she opened it, three beautiful women barged into the writing cabin and headed for me.

A blonde in a tailored skirt-suit spoke first. Her hair was in a tight bun. She lowered her glasses and looked over the top, revealing her perfectly arched brow. “I’m Libraria, these are my sisters Consultia and Wiki.”

Consultia had light black skin, a spiral perm so huge it sagged at the ends. She wore a shiny black top with a collar so wide it hung off one shoulder, and was dangerously close to falling completely off. She paired it with a black and white skirt and a pair of those low-topped, high-heeled boots. Her smile could serve as a beacon to lift anyone’s spirits.

Wiki had a denim skirt with black tights underneath. She paired that with tennis shoes, and an Abercrombie tee-shirt that showed off her athletic physique. She wore red hair, straight from the bottle. It had an A-line cut and layers that gave her a Sonic the Hedgehog look. She wore a cluster of string friendship bracelets on one wrist, and a necklace that amounted to a gold plated thumb drive.

Libraria opened a book bag and pulled out an old leather covered book. She slid it slowly across the desk with her perfect French-tips. As she slid it she leaned over farther and farther. I saw all the way to her navel between two perfectly tanned breasts. “This is the complete history of the Silk Road. It’s fascinating stuff, and will give your story a deep sense of reality.”

Wiki tapped away at her iPad-mini with her home-painted nails in alternating black and white. She turned the iPad toward me. “Look at this video. These cute little silkworms are munching away at fresh mulberry leaves.” She wrinkled her nose and smiled. Mesmerizing.

Consultia walked around the desk and sat beside me. She had some of the longest legs I’ve ever seen. From her position on the desk, and my position in the chair, we were close to having a Sharon Stone moment. “Did you know the Chinese kept the secret of silk away from the rest of the world for centuries? A person could be executed for smuggling out silkworm eggs.” She grabbed my hand and placed it on her top. “Feel this, it’s 100% pure silk. Nice huh?”

I managed something like, “Uh-huh,” right before Consultia sat in my lap.

Libraria said, “The cultivation of silk worms is called, sericulture. It’s been going on for thousands of years.”

Wiki said, “Here is a documentary about sericulture you should watch. And look at these beautiful Chinese dresses.”

Consultia reached for the iPad. “I love the cherry blossoms against the sky blue background. I think I could pull this off. Do they have one that’s a little shorter, or with a split for my leg?”

Wiki wrinkled her nose again and smiled. “You could totally pull that off. Let me check for other styles.”

Consultia ran her fingers through my hair. “Do you think I could pull that look off?”

“Oh yeah.”

She pulled my head to her chest and hugged me. “You’re so sweet.”

Libraria touched a nail to her collar bone and slowly slid it down over her breast. “The Silk Road began at the Pacific Coast and went over the Himalayas.” She kept moving downward. “It wound up in the fertile Mediterranean area.”

I think my jaw must have popped open somewhere around Nepal, because Consultia eased it shut.

Wiki said, “Look at these silk paintings about sericulture. Isn’t it cool that it’s a painting about silk, and it’s actually made on silk?”

Consultia pulled me tighter and looked up. “You know what? We should actually go to China.”

“Looking up tickets and accommodations,” Wiki said.

Libraria said, “Or we could take your little gyrocopter. I mean it goes into outer space and everything.”

“Great idea, but it’s only built for two.”

Libraria said, “We can double up. Wiki is tiny, and she could sit in your lap.”

Wiki clasped a hand to her heart, smiled and nodded. “Sounds like a blast.”

The sky grew dark and dimmed the light in the writing cabin. Thunder rolled across the meadow, and the door kicked in. Lorelei* stood in the doorway, and she was pissed.

“What are you doing here?” Libraria asked.

“Call it an intervention. Now you bitches get out.”

“That isn’t very nice,” I said. “These girls are helping me with my book.”

Helping! Is that what you think? These are Sirens, Research Sirens, and their job is to enrapture you and distract you until you abandon your story. Then you’ll think of a better story, and a better one after that. You’ll never finish another story. Now I said move, and I meant it.”

The girls slowly backed away, stuffing things into book bags, purses, and in Consultia’s case her blouse. They walked in-step to the door. The view from this direction was just as fabulous as the other way. I put my elbows on the desk, and my face in my hands.

Lorelei slapped me across the cheek.

“Ouch!”

“Oh you liked it. They are distant cousins of mine, and have been wrecking authors for centuries. Fiction isn’t the same as other writing. Speculative fiction is even less connected to facts.”

“Yeah, but there still needs to be a basis in reality to ground the reader.”

“Absolutely, but after you’ve developed the world, you can plow through some of it. Imagine your story about Yak Guy growing up. He’s coming along nicely, and then your readers are shifted into ten thousand words about the history of silk. They’ll be disappointed. They’ll lose the story.”

“That sounds bad alright. So where’s the line?”

“It’s different for every story. In something like Panama, you needed to research the area, and get the names right. In Wild Concept and Arson, you can make some of it up. Some science fiction is less adventure and more theory based, in that case you have to do your research.”

“How do you suggest I proceed? They seem like great researchers.”

“They are the absolute best researchers. That’s part of their spell, but their goal is different than yours.” She put an arm around Lisa. “This is all the research you need. She can Wiki, Library, and Converse with the best of them. She can even feed a video to your monitor if she has to. She isn’t trying to derail your career, and keep you from success. Remember, a paragraph or two is usually enough in the stories you write.”

“But I learn so much cool stuff when I research.”

“Yes, it looked like you were having a good time. You can’t share everything you learn. Take some tidbits and bullshit your way through it. The Raven of Doubt will be there for you at the end.”

“How did you know to show up here?”

“Lisa called me. She told me what was going on and emailed me pictures of the Sirens. I came as soon as I could.”

“Thanks, I think.”

“I’ve been helping you write since the day you started. Your talent has improved over the years, and your success has grown too. You have to trust me on this one. Part of that success is your ability to finish what you start. Perfection is impossible, but damned good is a possibility. Those girls would ruin all of that, and have you thanking them for it.”

“Lisa, make a note to always be here when I’m researching. If something goes off the rails, you can intervene.”

“I’ve got your back, boss.”

* Lorelei is my Muse. Lisa is my robotic personal assistant.

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My writing Saturday

It didn't work out exactly as I planned it. Does it ever, really? If you plan on tearing it up, it slows and stalls. If you plan on a light day, it winds up being 6000 words.

I started somewhere in the neighborhood of 6:00 AM. Yak Guy made some mistakes and learned what he did wrong. He's thinking about deeper subjects and making progress. He insulted someone who didn't deserve it, and can't defend himself. Now it's time to go back to the city.

This story involves transportation by animals. Things take time, and it should not be rushed through. However, I've established that fact pretty clearly, and it's time to jump over some things for the sake of the story. While establishing the facts of this world, I wove in a bunch of philosophy and dialog to keep it from being simply landscape. Now, I'm jumping ahead to keep the journey moving.

It's time to introduce the next major arcana character. This one is called The Emperor, but in my story he is The Lord. Rather than make him The Lady's husband he is her father. That way I can keep things interesting for Yak Guy.

My daughter passed her boards, and took a week off with friends to go to Sun Valley. She has a few more school hours before she can get her license. She decided to get up about 6:45.

If my daughter had an Indian name it would be She Who Cannot Stop Talking. This means the writing came to a screeching halt. I'm really okay with it. I love my daughter, and don't mind spending time with her. I'm sure her first big girl vacation was exciting to her.

I managed less than a thousand words today, and tomorrow is looking grim. I decided to go down the research rabbit hole. The Research Sirens kept me occupied for a long time, and one bit of knowledge leads to desire for another, and another. This time it was silkworm propagation. I haven't quite figured out what I'm going to do with it all, but it's a neat bit of world building that isn't common in stories.

Note to self: Research Sirens would be great in stories about the writing cabin. Now I have to do more research into sirens so I can have them show up. This should be fun.

It's all writing to me. Even this blog is writing. Research needs to be done, and it's productive in my eyes. I wish I could claim a higher word count, but so be it. I'd rather worry about planting things in my story that will pay off later.

My wife had to return something at the mall, and I tagged along. I needed some legal tablets, and a few more notebooks. The tablets are to make notes for the tax man, and the notebooks are for me to use in my writing. Of course I stopped off for a pint at Old Chicago. Have to feed that writer's brain somehow.

We managed date night with supper at P. F. Chang's. Not my most favorite, but my wife loves it. We picked up The Last Witch Hunter on DVD. We loved it in the theater, and decided we needed to own it. That's how I'm spending the rest of my evening.

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