Tag Archives: the Research Sirens

Just a clicking away

I got to the writing cabin at a decent time this morning, then made my way to the paranormal office. I rolled the top of Patty Hall’s old-fashioned desk back, then opened my document.

Lisa Burton, my robotic personal assistant walked in.

Lisa Burton

“Ta-dah! Ready for work, Captain.”

“Yeah, um… We finished that one, remember.”

“You’re here to do edits, though, right?”

“I’m going to wait until August. Let it clear my mind a bit.”

“The raven of Doubt will be so disappointed. He’s been super excited to help you.”

“He can wait, too. I’ve been working on something for Lizzie and the hat. It’s fun, and keeps me busy.”

“Does he become a pirate hat?”

“No.”

“Great, then I have the wrong outfit. What should I be wearing?”

“Nothing special. I need some help with research, and you’re faster than I am.”

She took a seat on the couch. “Okay. What do you need?”

“Well, we’re back to witchcraft in this tale. Every one of the witches has a different base for their magic. I need you to find some things I can use.”

“Like elements and stuff?”

“Yeah, but not completely. There’s plant magic, death magic, weather magic. Maybe one can have art magic.”

“What about Lichtenberg marks?”

“What the hell are those?”

“People get these elaborate scars when they’ve been hit by lightning. They also show up in lawns, and even wood. Turn on your iPad and I’ll bring them up.”

“Those are cool. They almost have to be magical. I can work with that.”

A knock came at the front door. “Probably your Amazon guy. Get rid of him, and let’s go to work.” I flipped through the images while Lisa got the door.

When she returned, she had guests. Consultia, Libraria, and Wiki, the Research Sirens.

“Okay, I know you ladies are good, but I have words to write.”

“Nonsense words, if you don’t have some facts ready,” Consultia barged into the room. Her giant Afro bounced as she clacked across the floor, then sat on the couch, crossing her long legs.

Libraria followed in her sexy librarian garb, stacked her books on my coffee table, then took a seat on my desktop.

Red headed Wiki wiggled her fingers in hello, as she sat in the wing backed chair.

“If you want to know about Lichtenberg scars, let me set you up with some interviews. It would be best if you could see them in person, and consult with a doctor,” Conversia said.

“I can book us tickets to Congo,” Wiki said. “Lightning strikes there more than anyplace on Earth.”

“I can’t go to Congo. Besides, that’s dangerous.”

“How will you really know unless you experience some of these things?” Libraria asked. “The smell of ozone, the explosive feel.”

“All I need are the scars. I don’t intend to write a lightning storm.”

“We might find a fulgurite,” Wiki said.

“What’s that?”

“It’s a stone configuration left behind after a lightning strike.” Libraria opened one of her books. “See.”

“Those are cool. I can use those in the story.”

Wiki looked at her iPad Mini. “If you’re willing to fly on standby, I can get some good rates.” She turned it around and held it by the Pop Cap on the back as if I could see that far.

“All five of us?”

“You and Lisa,” Conversia said. “We have other methods and can meet you there.”

“I know your tricks. Lure unsuspecting authors onto the rocks of research so they don’t get anything accomplished. I write fiction. It has to be plausible in the story world, not factual. You’d have me so far down the rabbit hole I’d never come out.”

Libraria looked over her glasses, and my heart stopped. She leaned over and kissed my forehead leaving me with a face-full of cleavage. “But it’s such a sweet rabbit hole.”

“Uh-huh. Whatever you—”

Lisa snapped her fingers in my face. “Come out of it. You know their tricks, but they can be helpful. Just focus on what you need.”

“What I need is something written by a guy named Cotton Mather. He’s like the patron saint of a group—”

Libraria returned to her books and selected a gigantic tome. “I brought his entire collected works. You should read all of it, so you have a better understanding, and can choose the best part.”

“How did you know I’d want— Nevermind.” I flipped through the pages. “Oh, Hell no. I need to base something off his words. My readers would shoot me if I wrote like this.”

Conversia leaned forward in her scoop-necked dress. Tiny bits of glitter flashed in the light against her ebony skin. “It was a long time ago, and people were pretty flowery back then. I know three historians who can give you a real feel for his time and role back then. Maybe even a trip to Williamsburg.”

I closed my eyes and calmed myself. “I’m writing about Lizzie and the hat again. I only need references to a few things, and a snippet or two. It’s their story, not his. They are outside observers to this world, so they don’t need to know how everything works.”

Wiki turned her iPad around once more. “He had silly hair.” She wrinkled her nose in an adorable silent laugh.

“You can stay, and you can help, but I’m giving Lisa total control. If it goes too far, she pulls the plug. I don’t have months to fly all over the world for something that might be two lines in my fiction. Even though you are fun company. Agreed?”

Libraria slid into my lap and leaned her head on my shoulder. “Agreed. Shall we get to work?”

***

Needless to say, today wasn’t one of those word-count giants. I did learn some fun things that will show up in Good Liniment.

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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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