Tag Archives: The Hat

A reasonable effort

From a purely numbers point of view, I managed three-quarters of one chapter. It was already started, and I finished it.

Every story comes with its own challenges, and this Hat story is no different. This time, the problem comes to Lizzie, but she knows where and what it is from the very first chapter. There is no big mystery to unravel.

It involves a swarm of gremlins at a national security agency. This is a real place in St. Louis, and since these stories are in pseudo St Louis, it was a good fit.

The struggle comes from Lizzie not being outfitted to fight a swarm of tiny creatures. The .357 magnum revolvers just don’t seem to work here, and a pitchfork isn’t much better. I gained a bit from trying to find her some better gear to finish the job.

I’m at just under 3/4 of the way through the story. This one is still going to have all the crazy things, and a lot of banter, but it’s more about Lizzie powering up to a degree. Can’t be a large degree because of the ongoing nature of these stories.

I’m delving deeper into Lizzie’s circle of friends, and even introduced a new witch with a new skill set. There’s even a chapter where Noodles the turtle-dog-thing gets to help her out. It’s crazy just like he is, but she’s going to lose access to him. The hero has to cross the finish line herself.

One of my goals here is to show the struggle of young people today. Granted it’s a crazy POV, but Lizzie constantly fights to make ends meet. This story is largely about debt. There is real world bank type debt, but there’s also indebtedness to friends. I’ll have to remember to include some kind of gift for Noodles.

My desire is to wrap this one with a couple of musical gigs, then have her start paying back some of that personal debt. Right now, I have it planned as a work party that’s just a cover for a girls night with her new witch friends. I have to decide how graphic I want these girls to get when there are no men around.

I suppose the hat will be there, and he might help tone things down. He can also be a bit gossipy, so there should be some chances to let him shine. Lizzie does have one secret that can get out. I’m going to stand silent on it, because it will be revealed in The Midnight Rambler, which is being formatted as I type this. It will publish this fall. After all, what would October be without a new Hat story?

I’m also sensing a concern here. I like having access to Lizzie’s circle of friends, but I don’t want to develop a theme here. Problem leads to seeking help from the coven which allows her to succeed. I may be fortunate in that the next story will involve Lizzie on the road away from Good Liniment and all it has to offer.

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Low productivity

Sean Harrington delivered some graphics about a week ago. My only real plan was to insert them into the Midnight Rambler manuscript. It’s important to keep this one moving ahead for an October promotion.

We started off by going to the farmer’s market downtown. It’s been years since we went, and they’ve kind of split it between locations. For some reason, it just wasn’t as good as past years. Old What’s Her Face still found some things to buy, like lemon cucumbers.

I kept my eye open for the breakfast burrito lady, but she was absent. Maybe she’s gone to the other location, or maybe she’s bagged it like so many others during the Covid era.

We still managed to go to lunch downtown, then swung by Whole Foods. This is another location we haven’t visited since pre-Covid.

For myself, keeping my goals small seems like a good idea. I managed to insert my silly graphics into The Midnight Rambler, and that might be it for this weekend.

I’d like to work on one of my current projects, but Sundays aren’t really good writing days. The other distraction is television. We have about four years of The Boys to catch up on, and that takes time. It’s a worthy project, and I’ll probably nudge that ahead to some degree.

I sent Sean back an email for two Lisa Burton posters. Honestly, her promos tend to draw more attention than my own. Something about her image seems to get clicks.

Promotion isn’t really one of my favorite gigs, but I’m toying with a new idea. After so many volumes of The Hat Series, I have a lot of old Lisa Burton posters. I could pick a time and do a Lisa-only tour for the series, recycling the posters since most have only been used one time. It isn’t hard to write as Lisa. Add a poster, maybe a 99¢ sale here and there, it could work.

Now it’s time to decide whether I read a friend’s book, read Midnight Rambler for a final pass, or just surrender to the television.

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I couldn’t stop myself

Today was one of those rare writing days that only seems to come along once per year. I even goofed off before I got started. Old What’s Her Face bought me some New Orleans style coffee with chicory, and I took my time to enjoy it. Made a trip around the yard to water plants, and checked in on my Story Empire friends for a while.

I knew either story could lunge forward today. They were both at that point where I could really accomplish something. I was feeling kind of upbeat and went for Goodbye Old Paint. Lizzie and the hat it was.

Mari’s story is a little more grim, so I’m saving that for a different day.

I still believe in torturing my main characters, so Lizzie didn’t get completely off the hook. I’ve done a lot to her over the volumes, so today I gave her a curse.

This volume is intended to be a little more light hearted than before, but it’s still dark humor. Basically, she started turning into a toad. I peppered this with moments of normalcy that eventually faded into madness. Many bugs were eaten.

The hat freaked out, and couldn’t find his go-to guy, Dash Goodman. In desperation he called Joyeux DuPont. I already set some of this up in a previous session, so the phone number was easily available.

A bit of research at Good Liniment, then Joyeux picked up Lizzie and the hat and whisked them away to visit with a new character. In her classic fastback Barracuda, no less.

Mad Mellinger is my kitchen witch, and between her and Joyeux, they conjured up a cure for Lizzie. It’s pure madness, I promise. I was inspired by those videos where someone is returning home after wisdom tooth extraction. The ones where they say all kinds of stupid crap. Lizzie has a lot to live down now.

It’s important to view my witches as an outsider, because Lizzie isn’t one of them. On the rare occasion I need them to flesh something out, I used the hat in kind of a Dr. Watson role to ask a question.

I’m super excited about all the goofy crap I included in today’s session. From Lizzie trying to make a burrow while under the spadefoot curse, to a couple of Deez-Nuts jokes, it was a great day.

Since Joyeux has plant based magic, and is basically an herbalist, it was easy enough to have her provide the magical ingredients for Mad to cook up. That worked out quite well.

I always try to keep my witches to a certain plan. Their houses are kind of unusual and isolated from everyone else. I’d already written Joyeux’s converted water tower about a month ago. I decided Mad lives in a converted barn. It’s a pretty cool repurposing of an old building.

They have wands, and they aren’t like other writers use. Dash has an old pipe wrench. I noted once before that Joyeux uses a garden dibble. It might seem pretty simple, but Mad’s wooden spoon just seems to fit her magical style. I also peppered her location with some fat hens, and a few beehives, but they weren’t more than scenery.

There’s an egg scrying scene, and I’m going to have something similar before Mad’s section ends, but this vision is for Lizzie.

I even added a section that reveals Joyeux is from Detroit. It’s a long shot, but if I ever write my Detroit story, it could now tie into the hat universe with a bit of magic involved in that plot.

Right now, I have two loose plans that could support the hat series. One is the Detroit story, and another involves Dash Goodman going solo in his own story. Don’t know if I’ll ever get to them, but they’re ideas, anyway.

I want to get this one to the point that Lizzie is aimed back at what caused her curse, with a vengeance. That means spending the night at Mad’s place, driving back, then dealing with some real world problems. After that, I’m going to pick up Mari’s swamp story once more.

I never noted my stopping place last time, but by the miracle of WordPress, I did note it here last weekend. Today’s word count is – not joking – over eight-thousand words. It’s bound to be full of typos, and too many words, but I’ll deal with all that tomorrow morning.

Right now, I think I need to find something to watch on one of the streaming services and veg out.

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I was supposed to read today

I’m a couple of books behind right now, and have some serious reading I need to get on with. I earmarked this holiday for that purpose, but it never happened.

Things were flowing so well for Lizzie and the hat, that I couldn’t help myself. The wild goose chase continues, but she accomplished some things today that should help her out with her assignment.

Joyeux had to turn Lizzie down cold. The device she wanted to borrow is still in use, and Joyeux can’t spare it right now.

Help came via Cyrus Yoder, but it was Destiny the elemental that made her new device. It’s a mallet. The old fashioned kind that looks similar to half of a rolling pin. I can’t wait to see what kind of monkey business I can concoct with that device.

Cyrus is still grouchy and reserved. Dash is still helpful when he’s allowed to be, and Noodles made his first appearance. He’s going to have a bigger role in this story, but I never got that far.

Fallout from a giant flood is part of the influence in this book. Lizzie is broke. (When isn’t she) Venues for her band are struggling, so the hat booked the band into a junior high dance. I’ll probably get to that bit on my next writing session.

It was a good four-day author stretch. I moved both Mari’s and Lizzie’s stories ahead. Mari’s word count is at 23,800. Lizzies is at 12,500.

I’d like Lizzie’s story to remain at that short novel size. So she might be 25% finished. Mari’s story is intended for a full sized novel, so perhaps 25%, but it might come in a bit shorter.

I expect things to slow down with the changes being made at my workplace. It’s okay. I have two complete novels in the can right now, add these two, and I’m in a pretty good position.

I’ll need to set aside some time to add the cartoons to The Midnight Rambler, and do a final editing pass on it before fall. I will also take time to edit book one of my space opera, which still needs a title.

I might have to use my headphones and read during the evenings. They tend to drown out whatever Old What’s Her Face has on television so I can concentrate.

I hope all of you who got a holiday found a way to enjoy it.

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Strange thought today

My family has never been one for Hallmark holidays. I haven’t heard from any of my kids today, and it really doesn’t matter.

I’ve been dwelling on the idea that last year I called my father and wished him a Happy Father’s Day. It was the last time I would ever do that, and I kind of wish I could today. Strange idea, but if you follow this blog or read my fiction, you can consider the source.

Aside from that, it was another low word count day. I feel much better about it, though. The wild goose chase has begun. Lizzie and the hat left Good Liniment in search of Joyeux DuPont.

Joyeux has a cool new house I wanted to describe. The witches in this series are kind of eccentric. They have to fit into modern society, almost hide among us. When they’re at home they can be themselves. I try to make their homes something just a degree off the standard. We’ve seen Evelyn’s 1960s rancher and Cyrus’ Victorian. You will soon see Professor Lagomorph’s modern architectural nightmare.

Joyeux bought an old water tower. The kind that used to house city offices in the lower levels. She’s in the process of turning it into her home.

I rarely blurt out what any witch’s strong discipline is, except in the case of Dash Goodman. There are enough clues for readers to figure them out. Joyeux is turning the water tank into her personal greenhouse, and it’s already filled with some cool things. I think readers are going to like her. She got a brief intro in Good Liniment, but will get more of a chance to shine in this story.

If you’re a fan of Noodles, the pet creature, he’s going to shine in this one, too.

While it was a low volume day, I feel better now that the chase is on. This one should pick up the pace now, and I have tomorrow available, too.

Call your dad and wish him a Happy Father’s Day while you still can.

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Slower going today

Lizzie and the hat went a little slower than I anticipated today. It makes perfect sense when I think about it. I’m in the phase where I’m still moving pieces around.

Once I got past some of this in Mari’s story my word count really picked up. I had to get Lizzie inside the server farm so she could deal with the gremlins. That didn’t go well, so she needed help.

Some of this stems from the ongoing series aspect here. I can’t just plop Dash Goodman into the story without some minor reintroductions. We’re also exploring a new part of Good Liniment for this help, and I need to slow down and describe it. I have every intention that someone could pick this story up without ever having read any of the others and not feel lost.

Turns out the basement at Good Liniment might be even more interesting than the bar and restaurant upstairs.

This is going to turn into a wild goose chase to find something to deal with the gremlins. Imagine trying to kill cockroaches with pistols. She needs a new tool. It’s going to allow Lizzie to foster a relationship with Joyeux DuPont, and allow me to introduce a new witch entirely.

This one won’t be quite as dark as some of its predecessors. I’ve gotten Lizzie shot before, gave her a mental meltdown, and there have been some brutal killings in previous volumes. I can afford one that’s a bit lighter.

This doesn’t mean Lizzie will have a cakewalk. I intend to put her under a curse that could be career ending. (I intend to play it for humor.)

Another thing I could be struggling with is the publication schedule. Good Liniment is on Amazon right now. Midnight Rambler will come out this Fall. Goodbye Old Paint could include growth points from a story nobody’s seen yet. I don’t think this is the problem, though. Moving the pieces into place always takes time for me.

I’d like to fit Kevin the vampire in here somehow, but he’s not exactly working for this story. Dash’s kind of help seems more pertinent. I also need to come up with something for Night Bump Radio, but government hacking should be a simple enough idea. Tying it to the urban legend of Hellpox might take some serious thought.

Word count came to 2200 today. About a thousand off from what Mari’s last writing day produced.

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Reporting in today

Plans didn’t change, but nature dictates what I can do.

I actually wrote that one into The Midnight Rambler, and got the cover ordered. I plan on releasing this one for the Halloween reading season. It’s a hat story, and I’m excited to share it with everyone. I wasn’t going to talk about it today, but this song is invading my head right now.

While Lizzie and the hat are chasing the Midnight Rambler, there is a major flood event happening. Naturally, the band drifts into songs about rain.

It was raining when I woke up. It rained all day. We have a first-rate thunderstorm brewing out there right now. Safe to say, spraying my trees wasn’t on the agenda today.

I wound up starting with Mari, back in the swamp country. This involves a big portion of world building in a town called Columbia. This is based upon a nuclear submarine that washed miles inland during the big war. The reason this is a post apocalyptic world.

The end of the war involved nuclear weapons and the subsequent wave brought it to rest. The town built up around it, and some wise person used the reactor to provide electricity to the town. They boast it’s the only town with electric lights in the whole world.

This next section is going to be hard to write. I need some time to think it out, because Mari is going to get herself in trouble.

I switched back to Goodbye Old Paint. Lizzie is dealing with the FBI and the file they have on her activity. I have some real problems in store for her, too. I need to get things moving and this always takes a bit of dabbling. Lizzie’s problems will be more humorous, while Mari’s are pretty serious.

Lizzie is sorting things out from the end of Midnight Rambler, like FEMA benefits. I swear this will still work as a stand alone.

I need to get her to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to see her problem first-hand. It’s going to be something she and the hat are ill equipped to handle. (Still coming up with things the hat can call this agency that are incorrect.)

Still, I added words to both stories. I’ll probably stick with Lizzie and the hat tomorrow. Assuming it’s still going to be raining. If the weather breaks, I may actually spray my trees.

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Started another one

I got Mari to a crossroads in the wilderness and it poses a small geography problem. She needs to take all three options before her. I wrote one of them that allowed me to show a bit of setting and close the book on her former life. She made it back to the crossroads, and I want to think the next part over in more depth.

This meant it’s time to start on the next hat story. For some reason this one flowed better. It’s probably because I know the characters so well.

Here’s the shtick for this one. It opens with Lizzie working her dead end jobs in the wake of a disaster that happens in The Midnight Rambler. I’m still cognizant of keeping each volume as a stand alone title in the series.

A huge flood event is part of Midnight Rambler. I’m making sure to drop enough details so those who skip MR will be able to pick it right up in the next book. Those who read in order will see the continuity across the titles.

Since Lizzie lives in a basement apartment, it’s out of commission for repairs, so she’s temporarily living with Shade, her saxophone player. It’s a return favor from Lunar Boogie.

The FBI is asking for Lizzie’s help on a matter of national security. They’re forcing her into it by exposing a file on her previous goings on, then leveraging her unpaid student loans as a kind of payoff. It’s a crappy payoff, but it’s in keeping with the events of her regular life.

I may have mentioned it here, but never between the covers of the books. I never mention where Lizzie lives, because I want to make some of it up as I go. If I need a special park or event center, I don’t want to limit myself as to what actually exists. Having said that, here in author land, it’s basically St. Louis.

I found out the National Geospacial-Intelligence Agency has an important site in St. Louis. I won’t reveal the city in my story, but it fits my plan perfectly.

The NGIA is all about satellite photos, spy planes, and other geographical data. I added they can track ships at sea and a few other tidbits. They’re part of the US Intelligence network.

Turns out the NGIA has been invaded by gremlins. All Lizzie has to do is get rid of them in a big server farm.

Lizzie is living on disaster food stamps, disaster rental assistance, FEMA monies, and whatever else she can scrape together. I had some fun with her trying to sell timeshares and working for Uber Eats. Also had fun with the hat trying to sell timeshares.

I have a nice line about insurance coming up when she finally gets to the campus.

Let’s just say, I’m having a great time. Ran into a snag in writing Mari’s story in first person, then nearly starting Lizzie’s story in first person, too. Got over that after a couple of paragraphs.

I like writing two at once so I can keep making word count. I broke 3000 words on Lizzie’s next tale while dwelling on Mari’s next moves. Tomorrow is a good writing day, and I may bounce back and forth.

Not too bad for having accomplished nothing yesterday. Don’t feel at all bad about it either. It’s nice being ahead of the game.

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Chipping away at it

Somehow, I managed today as my flex day. It hasn’t happened very often that I get a four day weekend out of the schedule, but I’m pretty stoked about it.

Tried my hand at some fiction this morning. It’s going slow. I’ve been dwelling on this story for years, but I still have to get post apocalyptic America on the page along with everything else. This involves things like transportation which is back to horse power, or in Mari’s case ox power.

It also involves a monetary system where barter is king, and salvage is a way of life. The currency exists in the form of quarters. These are more durable than old paper money, and people can sift through the rubble for them on occasion. Sometimes purchases are made by the coin count, other times by the pound. It’s +/- $20 per pound of coins. I looked it up.

I also have to work with geography and a few ideas from the fall of our modern society. For now, I’m sticking with “Once Upon a Time in the Swamp,” for a title. Something else may come to me as I write it out, but it functions for drafting purposes.

I’d like to start another Lizzie and the hat tale soon. Working on two projects at once really functions well for me. When I get in a bind on one, I can switch to the other and still earn word count out of the day.

I keep finding some pretty obscure music as part of my hat research. After so many volumes, I’ve covered a lot of tunes people are likely to recognize. I hate to use obscure stuff, but might have to start weaving some of that in.

This is something new from Samantha Fish. I think it’s a cover of an older song, but I can totally envision Lizzie and the Pythons playing it.

I’m thinking the working title for this story will be “Goodbye Old Paint.” That will probably be a line of dialog in the story. It will involve national security, and her being forced into helping. My motivator could go down in flames, though. It involves Lizzie’s unpaid student loans. If the president forgives those it might force me to change directions.

With any luck, I might start writing this one before the long weekend ends. Right now, Mari and the swamp need more of my attention.

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Content with progress

Today is my flex day, and it’s nice when they tie into the weekends. I’ll start on my long change when I return to the office tomorrow. Since I work ten-hour shifts, four in a row gets kind of brutal. It’s my back mostly. Not a lot of nice recliners at the office.

During my vacation I had three goals, but only accomplished one and a half. This weekend I finished up that other half, then did a complete read-through of Midnight Rambler. I had a few things to fix, but it’s a fun story.

The hat has to face one of his enemies, and Lizzie finds a boyfriend of sorts. It all goes down during a major storm event that becomes almost a character in its own right.

Those who read all the stories will get hints of something that plays into my next project, but I’m still not abandoning the idea that each story stands alone.

My next move will be to send an email for a cover, internal graphics, and a couple of Lisa Burton posters. I just need to figure out what those might involve.

There were errands and such, too. We went from freezing to 86º in three days. I uncovered the air conditioner and got it running. I still haven’t set up the sprinkler system, but it’s been raining.

I also had to take my truck in for service. That cost me Saturday afternoon, since nothing is just around the corner here.

Old What’s Her Face signed up for a service called Peacock. It’s the NBC version of a streaming thing. I discovered one of my all-time favorite series on there and have been binge watching it. Crime Story is set in 1963. There’s a lot of neon, chrome, old cars, and a wonderful playlist involved. There’s also lots of murders and hits, the rise of a Mafioso, and the cop who’s trying to stop him. Who knows, maybe the Muse will bring me some fresh inspiration from all this.

Hope all of you enjoyed your weekends.

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