Tag Archives: The Hat

It’s a conundrum, or two

I’m back in my room now. There was another junior thunderstorm, but it was right overhead. Some of you asked for photos, and I couldn’t get them. It shook the windows, but didn’t have the staying power of yesterday’s storm.

I also bought some ski-lodge quality slippers for my wife and daughter. Today is Old What’s Her Face’s birthday, and we exchanged texts and spoke on the phone. Seems to happen every year that work sends me out of town on her birthday. She already bought her own present, and the slippers are just for fun.

I had to attend a midday event, and wound up with some time to myself this afternoon. I have to go to a banquet this evening, but a couple of hours in between were well spent time.

The Hat is a finished draft. It came in at 25,500 words. My intent was to publish it as a novella, but my personal idea of a novella is 30K. Word count numbers seem to be pretty fluid. Am I worrying about something that doesn’t really matter?

There is a lot going on in this story. I demonstrated Lizzie’s symbiosis with the hat by having them play the upright bass together. He has all of the skills, but none of the arms and fingers. This is how they fight evil, by working together.

I’m a bit worried about the denouement part of the book. I have a lot of loose ends to tie up, and currently, I’ve done it using my bass clef section breaks. I have the aftermath of the big fight, the replacement (and upgrading) of musical instruments, the demonstration that complex characters will go forward together. That last part means as musicians and as fighters of evil.

I don’t like long denouements. I once beta read for an author who spent a quarter of the book defining a happy-ever-after for her characters. This included naming grandchildren that hadn’t been born to children that hadn’t been conceived in the main story.

I know I’m not that bad, but I still worry. If I eliminate some things that are dear to me, I could probably turn this into a dynamite short story. I want a novella and those parts are important to me.

If I turn each necessary bit of closure into an entire chapter, that will help with word count, but it will also push me toward the long denouement I’m trying to avoid.

Any suggestions?

I’m fairly sure either my critique group, or a couple of decent beta readers can help me out, but I’m not ready for betas yet. I have several passes to make before I can share it with betas.

Okay, I know someone is going to ask. Here are the slippers. I think those dingle balls are going to be Frankie bait though. They should be cozy on our new floor.

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Made a Task List

It’s my two day weekend, so I don’t have high hopes here. I also have to go to a work convention starting Tuesday so productivity is kind of against me.

Old What’s Her Face is going to Art in the Park tomorrow with a co-worker. They generally have more fun without me, and can spend money without my disapproving glances. We have plans for beer and pizza tomorrow night. My only opportunity is likely the few hours she’s at her artsy thing.

My task list is loaded with blog sized projects. I can be productive if I keep the goals smaller. I want to add a few things to a living document I keep about writing. I have another interview to work on, and I need to get something ready for my next Story Empire appearance.

Sean Harrington made me some simple text-based graphics for The Hat, and I can probably add those in. Beyond that, it’s all dumb luck, but I added a few more things to my list anyway.

We bought and watched Resident Evil: The Final Chapter tonight. Gotta say Milla Jovovich has held up well over the years. She still has the best brows in Hollywood.

I tend to keep my character descriptions sparse. I do this on purpose most of the time, so readers can use their own imaginations. When the appearance is important, ala Lisa Burton, I will add more. In The Hat, Lizzie is described as being brunette, and she gripes about her “stupid long face.” That’s about it. Watching this movie tonight, Jovovich also has a long face, and it doesn’t look bad at all. I don’t intend for Lizzie to look bad, but some self depreciation never hurt a main character. It kind of goes hand in hand with self doubt.

Anyway, I’ll let you know if I make any progress.

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Sometimes I get lucky

My wife’s new schedule sucks, but it plays into my plans on occasion. I also call my parents every Sunday, but they’re on vacation right now. I started my day, like always. Dogs got fed, social media got surfed, other apps that drive news to me got browsed.

Then I read the last two chapters I wrote on The Hat. I’m at the phase where plants and payoffs have to get installed and not just the loose storyboarding I do. This led to deleting nearly a thousand words. Some of this has to do with the fact that Lizzie’s Mini Cooper doesn’t have a trunk, it has a tailgate. Oops.

The dogs were in sleep mode for some reason. They’re crazy right now, but I’ve learned to strike when the iron is hot. I replaced everything I deleted with better words, then added more. Days like this make me wish I kept a better count, but it looks like I wrote about 5000 new words total. The story is a handful of words under 20K right now.

Lizzie came away from the disaster with a partial victory. Any subsequent attempts won’t go so easily. She had a crisis of faith during the disaster event, and there was a bit of soul searching. We also learned about some new abilities the hat has, and they’re kind of scary.

I need to go back again and make specific parts of the aftermath more personal for Lizzie. It involves little things, but will make some of it more real. My next move will be to go back through and flesh a lot of things out. In fact I may start from the first page and do this. I like to move forward with confidence, and doing these things helps me move forward. It may sound like one step forward and two steps back, but I’m about ten thousand words ahead of where I thought I’d be right now.

Lizzie did a bit of shopping therapy after moving where the bad guys went. In a way, it’s revealing the confidence she will need to get through the next phase. She’s looking like a more legitimate superhero now. She also has a new fatalistic attitude that could be just what’s needed… or actually fatal if things don’t work out.

I engaged in an extensive text thread with my daughter, and fashion consultant. I needed to make sure Lizzie’s new outfit made sense. She read what I had and said it sounds great.

I’m setting myself up for something odd too. This story will require a longer denouement than others I’ve written. After the main story ends, I want about three things to happen to sew up loose ends. I’ve always believed that was a bad thing. I’m worried about it, but maybe I’ll gain clarity by the time I get there. This has to do with it being a buddy story. They each need their bit of something, but they need something together too.

I want to try something fun in this book, but I’ll be damned if I can figure it out. When I do a story break, I center three asterisks (***) and jump the story ahead. Easy peasy right? This time, I would like to do three bass clefs. I can’t find a keystroke to include a bass clef to save my life. I even looked for emoji’s, and can’t find a bass clef. There are some treble clefs, and plenty of musical notes. Why no bass clef? I thought for sure Times New Roman would have one, it has all kinds of symbols.

Do any of you know how to tell a word processor to make a bass clef? Maybe I could use clip art and squeeze down to size.

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Checking in

I’ve been pretty quiet here for the past week. (For me) It was the work week from hell, and it really had nothing to do with work. I had my critique group on Wednesday, and never got home until about 9:00. For a guy who gets up at four AM, that makes for a long day. I ate some leftovers and stayed up until they had time to settle. I don’t do well eating and going straight to bed these days.

Critique group went well. Everyone likes The Hat. They thought Lizzie was a character they could get behind, and it seems to be off to a good start. I have some written critiques to address, but I’ll get to them this weekend.

Whereas; Wednesday and Thursday all felt like one big day, Thursday night was great. That’s when my baseball team swept the Dodgers out of town, and I got home at a reasonable time. On the spur of the moment I decided to do a free day for The Enhanced League. It moved some copies, and did about as well as I expected it to. It was mostly in fun. This happened though:

That tells me that under these specific categories there isn’t much competition. Either that, or there isn’t much during the late summer. Either way, I’ll take it. Who knows if I checked at the peak time or not. It could have gotten higher at some point in the day. I sincerely hope those of you who grabbed a copy enjoy it.

Honestly, I may do this again if my team manages to win the wildcard game or something. It was kind of fun.

Last night was another super long day. My parents, along with my brother and his family, came through town. They flew out for Alaska today. Everyone wanted to go to dinner last night. It was great seeing everyone, but made for another long day. I think I got home at 9:00. I also couldn’t have a drink, since I had to meet everyone after work, then drive everyone back to the hotel. They didn’t stay with us this time, because we aren’t close enough to the airport.

My brother is a home brewer. He brought me a jug of apple cider, one of mead, and a beer he made. He wants me to test drive them for him, and who am I to argue.

Frankie, the alarm puppy, went of about 5:30 this morning. I’m counting it as sleeping in, because I need the positive perspective. They both wanted a lot of poodle time with Dad today, so typing was slowed down a bit.

I added new words to The Hat, but not in bragable numbers. I spent more time going back over what I have. It’s a plants and payoffs type thing. If I want something to happen in chapter nine, I have to set it up in chapter four. It’s all forward movement, but that’s where typos happen too. Cut half a sentence, add a new half, and months later when rereading it makes no sense. That’s how it works for me. Does anyone else run into that?

This morning, Lizzie got fired, crashed her car, saved one of six babies, shot one guy then tortured him later. She also destroyed the upright bass that belongs to the hat. They’re at about their lowest point, but things are about to take an upward turn for them. I need to look at it with fresh eyes and make sure their emotions are suitable.  There was a lot of action, so some reflection is appropriate for my next blast. You know, after I go over it a bunch of times.

Speaking of the upright bass, these things must have more names than any instrument in existence: Upright bass, contra bass, double bass, bass fiddle, etc.

I’m typing this at Peterson Toyota. My truck needs serviced, and they have these little work stations I can use. These folks have always treated me well, until today. There is a service representative here today that is an absolute bitch. She acted like I was interrupting her day, and I had an appointment. She made some rude and condescending remarks, and it kind of pisses me off. Just in case anyone from Peterson reads this, her name is Bobbie Jo. I will also note that my wife and I bought two very expensive cars here, I brought my father here from Nevada to buy his Tundra, and sent a co-worker here for his Toyota. My Tundra is a 2013, and I may be replacing it in a couple of years. Peterson isn’t the only dealership in town. They don’t have to kiss my ass, but some common courtesy would be nice. I can do without the eye rolls, sighs, and snotty remarks.

My wife has to work tomorrow. I have some serious editing to do on The Yak Guy Project, but I need a table to set up both iPads.  It’s our plan to assemble about a half ton of table when I get home. After that, the big flooring project of 2017 will be complete.

Hope you guys are having a great weekend so far.

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Lazy Day

Today was all about playing catchup. The guest toilet is all reinstalled and functional. Some of the furniture is in place, and even the dogs are settling in well. Changes freak Otto out, but Frankie was fine from the first moments.

Last night, we went back to the fair. My brother-in-law and his wife were here, and the attraction was the Trace Adkins concert. This time we left in time to actually eat.

Pizza in a cone, what a great idea. It was fair quality, but with some effort, I have a hunch this could be great. I’m tempted to revisit this when I wake up Tituba this winter to use a sourdough crust. Just have to figure out how to bake it vertically somehow.

I also had an elephant ear. These are similar to what we used to call scones in my family. I skipped the honey and whatnot, because – beard.

My brother-in-law and I had multiple opportunities to sample the various beers on tap. The best one I had was Sam Adams’ Octoberfest.

We also went to see a gigantic pumpkin at seven-hundred and some-odd pounds. Hobbits could live in this thing, I swear. They also had some watermelons that could host quite a party if given the chance.

I always walk through the poultry barn, which also includes bunnies. The sampling wasn’t quite as impressive this year. None of the huge bunnies were there, but a couple of gigantic black roosters were pretty incredible.

The main attraction was this:


We had better seats than last night. If the truth be told, Adkins put on a better show than Joan Jett. She included a lot of music that nobody ever heard before. Adkins only included hit after hit. To give Joan credit, she got rained out and returned after they spent an hour squeegeeing the stage dry. It’s hard for me to admit, but that’s how I’m calling it.

Today, my wife and the in-laws decided to go shopping. Surprisingly, this was more for them than my wife. (When does that ever happen?) Being the lazy bum I am, I decided to stay home.

This allowed me to work the radio interviews forward a bit. I have a bunch of data floating around in cyberspace about these, but nothing lined up for Thursday. I got thirty applicants when I asked for guests. I sent all of them a questionnaire. I tried to send out the initial shticks four at a time, because I just couldn’t do thirty all at once. Some of them went silent when they got the questionnaire. Some went silent after getting the shtick (When I’d already invested some effort in them.) I have more to get to, and some of this situation is of my own creation. There are some who returned the questionnaire, but I haven’t done the next phase. I will, I just couldn’t do them all at once.

Right now, it is what it is. There may, or may not, be a guest post on Thursday. I will probably work up a couple of more tomorrow, but I like them to feel fresh and not like a chore.

I used some of my time to add about 1800 words to The Hat too. Today was all about planting data that would payoff disaster later. At this rate, I should hit the midpoint disaster somewhere around 20K words. If you extend out, that brings this in at about 40K. I think that qualifies as a novella. We’ll see how it all goes. I know I have some white page syndrome going on and can address some of that in edits.

Tomorrow is going to be kind of a bust on new fiction. I have some other things to do, so spare moments are better dedicated to more interviews. I’m off Monday and have high hopes.

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Wednesday Update

Today is my rotating day off this week, but I took the next two off. There are big things happening at my house, and I need to be here for that.

My morning started off like most. I get up when the dogs demand it. Today it was somewhere about six A.M. After feeding dogs, making coffee, and the usual routine, I decided to start from zero on my WIP called The Hat. I found a lot of errors, and feel bad for having sent it to my critique group already.

I also made a stupid mistake. I edited my way through, and it stopped at about 3000 words. I’d spent my first hour editing the submission to critique group instead of the manuscript. That was easy enough to address, but I felt stupid.

I had plenty of interruptions, and that’s my excuse. My interruption looked like this:

Frankie isn’t much of a cuddler, but today all she wanted was poodle time. She isn’t all that big, and can wiggle beside me in my chair. The iPad fits on the arm of the chair, and it’s a pretty comfy writing position.

Once the edits were finished, I was also refreshed on the story. I decided to keep on writing. Lizzie learned how double-action revolvers work and took a few practice shots. Their symbiosis grew when she trusted the hat to drive while she slept. It was still her body doing the driving, but her mind got to catch a few hours sleep. Turns out the hat is kind of an aggressive driver though. Lizzie and the hat are starting to mesh really well, but they still bicker.

My story is over 11,500 words now, and I feel like I’m 5000 words ahead of where I expected. Beginnings are always this way for me. I start strong, I finish strong, it’s the middle that bogs me down. This was always intended to be a novella, but if it reaches novel length I won’t panic. I don’t know if these are formal rules, but short stories generally don’t have as much setting as novels. If it looks like I’m approaching 70K at the end, I may beef up my settings to raise the word count. I may also need one more plot twist, but I’m thinking about it even now. I don’t know what might be expected in a novella, but I assume it’s somewhere in the middle.

I got a new piece of Lisa Burton art in the email today. My October micro-fiction will have a nice point of reference for people who like to read those. I think it came out pretty well.

After the writing ended, my daughter, her BFF, my wife, and I moved furniture. We’re finally getting rid of the seventeen year old carpet in the majority of the house. We’re having a fake wood floor installed tomorrow. This is a kind of vinyl plank that is hard to tell from real wood after it’s installed. It wears better than wood, and that’s a good thing for a family of dog lovers. We also tend to pick up road sand on our winter boots and this will hold up better than wood. I’ll get some pictures, but might not post them until Friday. Lisa has a guest tomorrow and we want that post to get all the attention.

We also have company coming for the rest of the week. That will eat into writing time, but I may get lucky on Monday.

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Small successes

I did some work on the Lisa Burton interviews this afternoon. I should have done more, but it's a step in the right direction.

It's kind of important to note that I have a life outside writing too. This weekend we had our date night, and the other night we watched a movie at home. I also call my parents every Sunday, regardless of what might be going on.

Then, of course, there was Game of Thrones. I want to say more, but it just aired and I don't want to ruin it for anyone.

I got to dedicate some time to my WIP this morning, but I wasn't as successful as yesterday. It still amounted to over 1700 words. Kind of mediocre success, but it's still success. I have several months worth of material for critique group, so I'm going to stop sending them Yak Guy and start them on The Hat.

It may be two weeks before I can write again, but I can live with that. We have some company coming next week, and that will be fun too. We intend to go to the fair and enjoy a couple of the concerts. I'm jazzed about Joan Jett, and everyone else wants to see Trace Adkins. I'm sure Adkins is great, but Joan Jett is a legend.

There is also the bonus of fair food. I know it's bad for me, but fair food rocks.

Back to the office for me tomorrow, but I'm sure I can step outside to look at the eclipse. We were married on a solar eclipse many years ago, so it's almost like an anniversary for us.

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