Tag Archives: The Hat

A bit of writing work today

Today wasn’t intended for new words. I had some writing messes to clean up, so that was my big goal.

First, I’ve had critique samples for Lunar Boogie for a week. While there weren’t any huge changes to make, there were a lot of small things. I find it too hard to focus on weeknights, so today I took up the challenge.

I also needed to get another submission ready for my group. I bounce back and forth, so this time they get to see Lanternfish. I worked on the next chapter for about an hour, including checking with an online editing program before sending it out. It’s out, so I’ll get to learn if my married cons still have what it takes to carry a chapter.

Only after taking care of all that, did I turn my attention back to Lunar Boogie. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I had some issues with the ending of the story.

As a recap, I wanted to end this one on a down note which provided for a bit of character growth for Lizzie in the next book. I wound up ending it on a major bummer and wasn’t happy with it.

Last weekend, I added a scene and it kind of helped, but still wasn’t what I needed. Remember, these are partially comical in nature, so they really can’t end on sour note.

Today, I threw caution to the wind and added a bunch of material I was saving for the opening of Good Liniment, the next book in the series. It wound up requiring a chapter break which caused the last two chapters to be short ones.

This required me to research crystal therapy and come up with a name for a pot shop. All in a day’s work, right?

I hate to sacrifice some of the stuff from the next book, but think it probably works better here. Basically, Lizzie’s parents made an appearance earlier in the book via FaceTime. At the end, Lizzie goes to California to spend some time with them. Alone, without the hat.

As far as what I included, Lizzie spent this time with her mom, and she is a genuine C. S. Boyack character. I will have to come up with some additional material for Good Liniment, but I can handle that. I can also have Lizzie spend some time with her father who is running for State Senate.

What I enjoyed is how Lizzie is an amalgamation of her mother and father. I never planned this and it just happened. This is one of the fun things that keeps me going as a writer. Lizzie is hard working like her father, but lives paycheck to paycheck as a musician and hangs out with some strange characters. She isn’t quite as stoic and dedicated as her dad, but isn’t as batshit crazy as her mom either.

Lizzie’s mom helps add a laugh or two after the bummer moment. I think moving the material to Lunar Boogie was the right move.

I need to turn my attentions back to Lanternfish. I left James on the high seas the instant before the opening volley of a huge sea battle.

I hope all of you have power and water by now. That you’re warm and safe. Drop me a line and let me know what’s going on.

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It’s a conundrum

I may have finished Lunar Boogie this morning. Then again, maybe not. I’m struggling with a situation and airing it out might help me. A few of your comments might be helpful, too.

First is to admit that The Hat series is a form of superhero fiction. Readers expect certain things, but I’m troubled by what you don’t see regularly.

Lizzie and the hat have a symbiotic relationship that lets them fight monsters. They need each other. However, Lizzie is just a regular girl.

In superhero tales, we get used to seeing massive destruction and various villains getting done in. It’s part of the expectations. We almost never see the down side of all that.

Lizzie is a good character, and I want to make sure she’s fully developed. Some of this should start to wear on her at some point and that’s what I want to get across. I understand it isn’t why we read heroic fiction, but if you have fully developed characters, sometimes they’re going to have issues.

In other genres, like adventure, we know people fire machine guns in the streets, but the cops never seem to show up. First, why not? Second, is this police absence expected in the story?

My thought was to deal with some of this between books. I understand that readers of heroic fiction don’t want to spend chapters of effort on mental health issues. Those stories are best suited to other authors.

To deal with it between books, I have to leave readers with a sense of the problem. I can pick things up on the other side with a nod before the next adventure. I have some fun things planned for that.

What I have in hand is a book that ends on a bummer note. The goals were achieved, people will live happy lives because of Lizzie’s efforts, but it’s kind of a downer at the same time. Keep in mind these are also supposed to be comedic in part. (Bummer and comedy don’t mix too well.)

When I pick it up in the next story, since Lizzie is a musician, I figured people might mistakenly refer to her episode as rehab. In fact, that part works pretty well.

My problem is the mental cliff-hanger I’ve created in this volume. I like it, but I don’t at the same time, and I’m out of time today. Perhaps a medical professional can deliver a line or two about things being okay and that would work. Would this be enough of an uplifting phrase if I do it well?

I could also add one more chapter, which after writing it here seems like a good idea. She wouldn’t be completely cured, but readers could see her getting some help.

In some ways, I’m lucky to be out of time. This has been on my mind for months, and now that it exists it could be easier to find a way to address it. Having a week to ponder the issues might play to my advantage.

One thing that’s also possible is to get the next book ready to go for a quicker release. Then Lizzie’s fans can get the answers a bit sooner than the annual release schedule.

Do any of you ever have struggles like this? I know the genre pretty well, and what I’m proposing isn’t required. Would I be better off to drop the idea entirely and go back to her musical lifestyle as if nothing happened?

Right now, I’m leaning toward the additional chapter. Maybe even just a scene to end on a higher note. What do you guys think?

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Not the day I planned

I woke up to about eight inches of snow today. Nothing I haven’t seen before, but there were sidewalks and the driveway to deal with.

Old What’s Her Face has permanent dibs on the good snow shovel. It’s one of those push shovels that works like a snowplow. That leaves me with an old square concrete shovel that won’t empty because the snow sticks in it.

I did the sidewalks while she worked over the driveway. At the end, everything got finished, but my shoulder hurts for some reason.

On the bright side, Frankie loves the snow. She likes to stick her head under it, then wander around bind until she runs into a tree or something. Then she rolls over and wriggles her way for a yard or two. This is the same dog that hates the rain, but she seems to love this.

I laughed so much that I forgot to take a picture. Some blogger I am.

I intended to write, and did to a small degree. Mostly, I worked up a chapter for my critique group and sent it off. I also worked over a section for one of the other group members.

My writing involved more of a slice of life for Lizzie, but it seems to work. I’m right down to the end, so I need the next section to be creepy and scary. That’s one of the tricks to The Hat series. I need some humor, some slice of life, plus a bit of horror and intensity. Shifting back and forth has to feel right, but as the author, I need to get in the right frame of mind, too.

Eventually, I broke down and listened to some music. Maybe that will help. This kind of music:

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A good day for writing

I didn’t get to the writing cabin very early. I allowed myself to sleep in, took my time tending the dogs, then browsed through a bunch of sites.

By the time I got there, Lisa had already set everything up for me in the paranormal office. She wore one of her favorite bandage dresses with a cherry pattern and red heels.

“What’s all this?” I asked.

“It’s your first real writing day in weeks. I put the coffee in a thermos beside your desk, and disabled the WiFi in here so you won’t get distracted.“

“I won’t get distracted.”

“I know. There’s no WiFi. I’ll turn it back on so you can save to the cloud when you’re finished. Now see if you can help that poor girl find the killer.” She left to take care of other duties.

I read back over my last chapter, made a few corrections, then forged ahead. It felt like a slog, because everything is starting to come together. There were a couple of times I had to go back and adjust the plants that were starting to pay off in the story.

My detective character still can’t remember his encounter with Lizzie and the hat. His wife’s spirit talked him into asking his father for help, but that happened off the page. I spent some time with him going over the six silver bullets his father provided him, and kind of like the way that scene came out.

Because of this POV character, I’m using more section breaks now. As the story comes to an end that always seems to be the case.

Meanwhile, Lizzie finished blinging up her pawn shop jacket and earned some new snow tires, because it’s the little things that count. She also spent the evening with one of her bosses at the diner. When chasing a monster that only shows up a few days per month, she also tends to get a little grouchy.

I enjoyed her evening with Dave at the diner, and it’s a nice reminder that she had friends before the hat upended her life. The diner was quiet, it was a major snowstorm, and a killer is stalking their streets. Makes the dinner shift kind of slow. I’m not totally out of my mind, because right after they locked up, Lizzie went monster hunting on the first night of the full moon.

Because of the blizzard, their night was mostly a stakeout. They spent some time listening to the idiots who call in to Night Bump Radio, then checked what appears to be a favorite travel path of the monster. They just reached the drainage when the sound of distant gunfire pulled them into action.

That’s where I stopped for the day. While it felt kind of laborious, I’m happy with the scenes. I was surprised when my word count came in at 3000 words, because it felt like about half that.

Sundays usually make for lousy writing days. I need to put something together for Story Empire so I’ll dedicate my time to that. I have a couple of things roughed out, but I need to find some graphics. I know posts always do better with graphics, but rarely use them here.

I’m calling it a win. I got some words down, and actually like what happened. Tomorrow I’ll get my next SE post scheduled.

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A Banner Day for me

I knew company was coming this weekend and really wanted to get some things done before they arrived. They’re here now, but I made the most of this morning.

I have dual points of view in this story. Obviously, Lizzie is getting the bulk of screen time, but there is a detective, Joe Yoder, who is chasing what he thinks is a murderer. He’s kind of cool, because he communicates with his dead wife during the story. Neither Joe, nor his wife, have any paranormal abilities.

The day started out with Lizzie staking out the monster, but did not work out according to plan. As the victims pile up, she and my cop wound up on the same lonely street.

It wound up not being a great moment for him, but he’s chasing something he cannot understand. This is clearly Lizzie’s territory. She’s kind of soft hearted and doesn’t want him to get killed while trying to do his job. This led to a conflict that involved some of the hat’s special powers.

What I liked is that Joe also has a supernatural father. I’ve known this since before I started drafting this one. Joe plays a prominent role in this story, but he started off in my imagination as the herald to the next story which will heavily feature his father.

I used this section to discuss the secret between Joe and his dead wife. That way, readers get a clue, but Lizzie and the hat do not. The next book is going to dive deeper into the witchcraft community, and Joe’s dad will be a big part of that.

Joe got a lot of depth from this, because he blames his father for letting his wife die. He’s wrong, and I’ll have to weave in some kind of minimal reconciliation.

The trick is going to be keeping these as stand-alone stories in the series. Right now, I don’t think readers have to read Lunar Boogie in order to understand Good Liniment. My critique partners will help me on this point.

It was a banner day for me. I didn’t hit 5000 words, but I broke 4900 before I ran out of gas. I’m pretty happy with what I produced.

The weekend is for enjoying my company. I might get another writing day on Monday.

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First day of Staycation

I took a couple of days off with the goal of working on my manuscripts. I kind of needed some time anyway. I never took any holiday time, allowing others to have whatever they wanted.

Yesterday was my flex day and it was a bust. I’ve had an eye appointment for weeks, and made it for my normal day off. That canceled out any ability to write, but I knew it would.

Turns out my far sightedness has gotten worse. This leads to new prescriptions and I decided to get new frames at the same time. We have insurance and a flex account, so why not?

I also lost a couple of days this weekend, because my in-laws are coming. It’s good for me to socialize, so it will be fine. It makes days like today more important though.

My start was kind of slow. I took my time making coffee and tending dogs. I even read blogs before I decided what to work on.

As is my norm, I read my last chapter before I started. Then added to the story about Lizzie and the hat. It started off with humor, a musical performance, and some of her band mates having fun at the expense of the saxophone player. Lizzie and the hat exchanged barbs about wet tee-shirt contests.

Then things got real serious. I brought in some isolation, and close proximity to the possible killer in this story. I stopped there, but it’s going to be a long night for Lizzie. Might be a sad one, too.

I’m excited for this section, but it’s time to stop. I find it’s always better to stop when I have something screaming at me for the next day. Company won’t show up until Friday night, so tomorrow should be productive. I also have the Monday holiday for writing as well.

I’ll have to put together something for a new character I introduced as well. It’s about time for he and Lizzie to meet up. There are some fun things planned for that, and it will give him a lot more depth.

My hope here is to end this one well, but also on a bummer note. I don’t know how that will work out as far as keeping the books as possible stand-alone reading, but it will set up events for the next volume. I’ll have to rely on my critique group to give me feedback there. They can’t weigh in until I write it, so I’ll keep forging ahead.

I’m sure it needs some work, but today’s effort came to 3300 words. This is a good day by my standards.

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The Jaws Conundrum

This post might ramble a little bit, but that’s how weekend posts work. My parents visited during the week, and they brought my brother with them. I haven’t seen him for a while and it was nice to spend some time together.

They’re having car troubles and their tiny hometown doesn’t offer the options that Boise does. They got the stupid thing diagnosed, but have to come back next week to get the work done. Unfortunately, all of this happened, and will happen, on days I have to work.

I can’t take any credit for this one, but my brother had a cool analogy and I wanted to share it with all of you. Basically, the Covid Crisis is Jaws.

Chief Brody wanted to close the beaches and keep everyone safe until he could sort out the shark and restore the natural order.

Mayor Larry was worried about the economy. He was willing to sacrifice a tourist or two to preserve the summer economy and keep the locals fed all winter.

Obviously, the shark played the role of the virus in this analogy. Basically, we have to choose whether we are team Brody or team Larry.

It’s probably late in the game for this analogy, but I thought it was clever and wanted to share it with you guys.

In other news, I had the house to myself today. I never kept count, but I added a couple thousand words to Lunar Boogie. It was mostly fun stuff between Lizzie and the hat and kind of became a slice of life. The banter came out good, it has some decent humorous bits, and I’m pleased with it.

The next section will involve another brutal murder and I intend to ramp up the personal tension for Lizzie. This one has a side character and it’s about time for him to meet up with Lizzie, too.

About all I could manage during the week was to send off a section of Lanternfish to my group. I have their critiques back and will probably address them tomorrow. I also have to write and schedule my next post for Story Empire. I have an idea, but it’s going to be challenging.

Hope all of you are having a good weekend, and stay out of the “water.”

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Ugh! Life gets in the way

I probably owed you guys an update yesterday, but here we are. This is my short weekend, and my wife is off, too. That doesn’t typically add up to much word count.

Today, we had to buy a new refrigerator. The old one started leaking on the inside, then freezing in the lower drawer. Before it ruins the kitchen floor we decided to bite the bullet.

My intent was to put it on my Sears card. They took our Sears store away, so that was the first obstacle. We found what we liked at Home Depot, but the card got denied.

I called Visa from Home Depot, and got some mush-mouthed guy I could barely understand. It was kind of like talking to Kevin the vampire over the phone. Eventually, we figured out that my credit limit wasn’t high enough.

It always was, but since we haven’t used it for a few years, they must have lowered it. I managed to get it sorted out and delivery is all set up.

After that, we decided to go to lunch. Old What’s Her Face and I haven’t really been out since this whole Covid mess started. We wound up at Old Chicago for pizza and beer. It was always one of our favorite places and I got to sample a couple of different holiday stouts.

Like I said, doesn’t make for much word count. I’ve been able to add minor amounts to my stories in the evenings, but have a hard time writing with noise and distractions. I’m only doing it, because there is no other option.

Right now, the story about Lizzie and the hat is further along at 24,700 words. Wreck of the Lanternfish is standing at 15,000.

I really need to nudge Lanternfish along. I tend to rush through some parts, but should detail some of the gyrations. Fantasy readers expect a bit more word count, and the environment is interesting. I’m at a point right now where I have to just write those parts and assess everything at the other end. Sometimes it’s easier to fix it than it is to fuss about how I’m going to write it.

I doubt I’m going to get anything else done this weekend. We have a few chores set for tomorrow and those shouldn’t be put off.

My banishment for Covid is over now and I can return to the office. I had to serve my wife’s entire sentence, then another two weeks of my own. She was the one who caught it, but I had to be out longer. Doesn’t make any sense to me, but I get to go back Monday. Hope I’m not too far behind.

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Slower Going Today

I’ve been left to my own devices this weekend. Old What’s Her Face had a trip planned to Nevada, but her Covid diagnosis put that off. She went back to work and rescheduled her trip this weekend.

That leaves me and the bulldogs, who are feeling pretty needy. I didn’t do anything last night, because it was Mandalorian night. I’m loving the story, but hating the cliff-hanger.

I needed to jump back to Lanternfish, since it’s falling behind the other book. I’m struggling to get my cons enough page time. I finally decided on a path, then pushed ahead.

The Palumbos might just have to get shorter chapters. I like to keep things about the same length, but their sections don’t involve cannonades and sword fights. They put on their shows and try to influence the outcomes. After that, I don’t want them standing around for the sake of page time.

After their short chapter, I returned to Tusconi and launched the refurbished Lanternfish. I may have to make a bigger deal of it and need time to think. Right now, the main characters watched it all from a carriage on a hilltop. They are trying to keep a few secrets, so I didn’t want the queen to break a bottle over the prow, since she’s the big secret.

I’m debating what to do with Mr. McCormack. He’s a quartermaster’s mate, but Fala is the real quartermaster. He also has a girlfriend in Tusconi, and they’ve been making plans. Taking him or leaving him would be realistic, but I’ll probably take him along.

I mention this, because Lanternfish has a lot of characters. Giving them all page time could water down the story to a degree. Most of them are supporting characters, but we assume they’re rigging sails, preparing meals, or swabbing decks somewhere.

This is why I stopped where I did. Dan and Fala are married, but will both make the voyage. Mule and Yoshiko are solidly together and will make the voyage. James will leave his wife behind. I might be able to do some contrasting things about the risk or benefit of leaving your loved one behind or bringing her along. Maybe – maybe not. I need to think about it.

In a way, this book is like writing multiple books all on its own. I have Serang’s story, the Palumbo’s story, and the Lanternfish story. That won’t last, and will come together at the end. Right now, I need to move the Lanternfish part ahead and it should get a larger portion of the pages. If I have to assign page time it would be Lanternfish >Serang>the Palumbos.

Word count wasn’t great, but I still have 1600 words I didn’t have last night. I have some fun stuff planned for the root monsters after they get underway. James will also have to try out the improvements to the ship which could be fun.

For now, it’s probably time to shift back to Lizzie and the hat. They have their own issues, because any clue gathering they get only comes once per month. I nearly have that worked out in my mind. It’s about time for the December full moon.

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Not much to report, but I’ll do my best

I planned to write this weekend, but Covid changed that for me. Old What’s Her Face was scheduled to work, but that didn’t happen. Oddly enough, it sounds like they want her back for her Thanksgiving shift. It appears you either get better in ten days or you die. We kind of hoped she would at least get the holiday off.

I had to make a trip to the office to drop off projects and pick up new ones. No idea how long my work will make me quarantine, but I tested negative and have zero symptoms. I’ll figure it all out in the coming week.

I even stopped on the way home to do the shopping. I knocked it out of the park. Years ago, I did the shopping, but that’s been a long time. You kind of instinctively know what you’re running low on, like laundry soap. Thank God for lists.

As far as writing, it was catch as catch can. I never really got specific times for my projects. I added a line here and there, and jumped between books to a degree.

I wrote another action scene for Serang, but stopped before the wrap up. She still needs to assess the battle and the location of specific things near her before moving her army.

Lizzie and the hat are also proving difficult. Lizzie hasn’t figured out there is a monster in their midst, and my old cop character is having no luck with his murder investigation. I wound up writing the next murder discovery, but forgot that Lizzie and the Pythons had to play a gig before the event.

I’ve never done this before, so I blame having too much on my mind. I’ll have to back up and add that event. The danger here is overkill. This was a two night gig, and this will be the second night. I need to spread some suspicions more than have the band rock out. Don’t quite know how I’m going to pull that off, but I need to minimize it since readers attended the Friday night show.

I’ve spent a lot of time counting calendar dates and comparing them to the lunar cycle. I don’t need a specific year when I do this. I hope the stories aren’t that limited in scope and have some longevity. I learned that the last possible day Thanksgiving can happen is November 28th. If the full moon occurs the weekend after (Because of gig schedules on weekends) this would be a blue moon.

This means my next full moon would be December 29th. Between the gig I need to back up and write and the December date, the cop should be chasing a possible killer and Lizzie should be chasing a monster. (No idea if that’s a weekend or not, but I almost hope not. Lizzie and the hat will need some freedom to hunt that night.

I picked this setting for a couple of reasons. First, all of the Hat stories seem to wrap up around Halloween and I want to break the mold a little. Second, blood on snow makes for a good visual. It stays red and doesn’t dry brown like blood on leaves. It also has to be washed away, leaving an ice slick, or loaded and carted off. With multiple victims, I can do both.

I may try to hack out a couple of paragraphs to repair my story this evening. Drives me nuts to have something in a state of disrepair like that.

The scorecard:

  • Wreck of the Lanternfish = 12,571 words
  • Just Plane Wered = 9098 words

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