As the work week ended, I knew I had a bachelor weekend ahead of me. This is usually when I can really move the chains on this author career, but I kind of squandered that.
After finishing the biggest edits, I’m down to reading each story without the interruptions of the other two so I can see if there are any glaring plot holes or tedious parts. I’d like to let everything rest for a while before I take that project on.
That leaves me with the concept of drafting new material. I have a complete Lizzie and the hat story ready to draft, but I have one ready to publish, too. No rush there.
My main focus is the second volume in the SF trilogy. All I have for that so far is the heroes must venture into unclaimed space to find someone who seems to know far too much about the enemies that started a galactic war.
This isn’t always a deal killer for me, because I tend to write about a third of my stories without a complete storyboard. It’s easier when I already know the characters well, and I have one volume all slicked up already.
I need to keep the tradition of a second book of the trilogy in mind. Plans fail, the bottom falls out, small disasters accompany that, so everyone can regroup for book three. This one also has a decent romance side story, and I can do the same thing with it… to prepare for a reconciliation in book three. Something like that.
What to do? What to do?
I bagged the whole thing and read a novel this morning. Spare time is a premium around here, and any reading will cut into my writing time. It’s a fact of life, but sometimes I just need that break and yet it still feels productive.
I’m going to dwell on my SF plot a bit longer. This second volume seems like it needs a smaller issue for my characters to focus upon inside the margins of the galactic war. My heroes can’t be everywhere at once, so something in their face that can also reflect the larger conflict.
I have no lack of ideas for The Hat Series, and don’t need to wrack my brain there. I also have two solo tales that could use some TLC. Nothing helps that process like a day in the National Forest, but a good book is pretty close.
I might even read another one tomorrow, rebel that I am.
This is an annual event here at Entertaining Stories. Before writing this, I read back through the last few years of assessments, along with business plans for coming years. What surprised me is how positive and professional they came across. That isn’t the case this year.
Most of this involves things in my personal life that I really can’t post about. Old What’s Her Face and I each had our own health scares this year. Hers is fine, but mine remains a bit of an unknown. I have a January appointment for follow up that I may, or may not, keep. There have been major changes in the workplace, and my father passed away on December 2nd. Recently, our grandson developed a major problem that isn’t completely solved yet. This stuff hits hard.
Most of this has been a lingering problem for the last two years. It all seemed to merge at once, kind of like one of those gigantic freeway crashes we see on the news every couple of years. There is nothing I can do about most of it, so I have to compartmentalize and deal with it as best I can.
Having said that, this used to be a writing blog, and this is a business assessment. My plan said I would only release two books in 2021, and I hit that goal. Both Lunar Boogie and Wreck of the Lanternfish are available right now. Lanternfish is still in the throes of a more demure blog tour as I write this.
Looks like this year was all about series work. I’m kind of proud of that, and frightened at the same time. I miss my stand-alone stories, and want to try writing another one of those eventually.
Publishing two, instead of three, gave me more time to experiment with other things. This was a 2021 goal and I achieved that, too. First came a summertime experiment involving two stand-alone titles; Grinders and Serang. Confession, Serang ties right into the Lanternfish trilogy.
This all stemmed from an invitation to appear on Fresh Ink Group’s blog talk radio program. I really didn’t do a lot of promo around this, but it worked out fairly well. I gave away a ton of free books, but only Serang seemed to gain reviews after the fact.
This allowed me to fine tune my plan. When October came around, I decided there are four volumes in The Hat Series. There were four weeks in the month, and a new plan got launched. I promoted each volume for a week, and ran free days for two of them. This worked even better.
I moved another ton of free books, but this time there was someplace else for readers to go. To be honest, I’m still seeing sales from the October push. It seems the crack-dealer method still has some life in it. A freebie leads to purchasing additional stories. I also combined my free days with a push by The Fussy Librarian. I can see the difference, and will probably use them again.
One of the other things I did was post more at the outer fringes of my circle. Let’s face it, my inner circle already hosted me when each volume was originally released. Since we tend to follow the same people, blog tours can become like listening to a broken record. (Wow, is that a dated statement these days.)
One of the things I noticed, and my inner circle confirmed, is that Amazon’s Pages Read seem to be where all the action is. It seems to have surpassed my actual sales, but Amazon pays me and the readers are getting to read for free. I don’t know what this means, or how to use it, but it’s an interesting observation. Maybe I can find a way to milk this like a prize cow.
With two book releases, and two month-long promo tours, there was a lot of promo. Every tour post was unique, so I was blogging, but it was all hosted elsewhere.
This final bit of December promo comes with an observation. The release of Wreck of the Lanternfish is showing an equal volume of sales for the previous volumes in the series. Could this signal that trilogies are more of a sweet spot than I anticipated? Are there a larger group that won’t start a series until they know it’s complete?
I managed to keep up with my Story Empire responsibilities, and feel like they were successful posts. Entertaining Stories suffered the most. I love this site, and want to stay in touch with everyone here. With all the life issues (particularly the life issues), combined with the extra promo, something had to give.
To be honest, I want to spend more time at the Writing Cabin and maybe even let the Research Sirens steal me away for a while. Until some things settle down, that isn’t realistic.
I have been less than creative for the last six months, but have dabbled with a side project. I don’t want to push anywhere until my personal life settles down. I’m taking life one day at a time right now.
I could be alone here, but 2020 was a better year for me. I don’t ever want to see another one like 2021.
Talk to me in the comments. I really love you guys and would like to get back to more regular interaction here.
I’m excited to visit Gwen Plano’s site today. The topic is Wreck of the Lanternfish. Make sure to check out Gwen’s site while you’re there. She has a wonderful selection of books, and is one of my Story Empire partners.
Hello blog friends! Today I’m pleased to host writer C.S. Boyack. Craig is a friend and fellow member of the writers group, Story Empire. If you’ve read one of his books, you know he’s got a great sense of humor and an even greater imagination.
An Idahoan who loves nature, Craig writes whenever he’s got a free moment. Busy though he is, he makes time for writing. It’s one of his great loves, as is obvious by his long list of top-notch publications.
I’ve read four of Craig’s books, and all have earned 5-stars from me. As you might suspect, I’m really looking forward to reading his latest.
Rather than me saying more, let’s invite Craig to tell us about his book. Craig, it’s all yours . . . Keep reading here
I spent my weekend publishing “Wreck of the Lanternfish.” I swore this would come out in 2021, and now it has.
Amazon took it’s sweet time, and I ran into a few glitches along the way. For whatever reason, Apple decided to reduce the size of my cover when I save it. This led me to search back through a couple of thousand posts for Sean Harrington’s original mail to find an image the correct size. It seems Apple Mail does not have a search feature. My saved image at least tagged the date, and that helped a bit.
This led me to create a folder for Sean’s delivery emails. Since I was on a mission, I also dug out the cover for Good Liniment and saved it there, too.
It took a day to get through Amazon’s review, then a few more hours to publish, but it’s there now. Then it took even more time to attach to the series. I still haven’t seen the numbering sequence correct, but assume that’s coming. Voyage of the Lanternfish still shows as book one of two, instead of book one of three. At least the book is available now.
I also learned we can link other titles to the series without making them part of the series. This probably isn’t new, but it’s new to me. I updated Serang to populate when someone links to the trilogy.
While I was waiting, I gave Entertaining Stories a facelift. Some new wallpaper and the underwater banner image felt appropriate.
James Cuttler created a peaceful spot for he and his wife to settle down. Far from the war that ravages their homeland, far from the reputation he earned as the notorious pirate Captain Bloodwater, and far from responsibility.
A royal Prelonian houseguest is a constant reminder of what’s at stake half a world away, of the friends he put ashore to fight the war. He lives in a dream world that’s temporary, at best. It’s only a matter of time before his guest is identified and the black assassins come for her.
He mortgages his precious vineyard to pay for repairs to his ship. If nothing else, Lanternfish will be one of the most powerful ships in the war, if he’s not already too late.
James will have to merge the skills of commander and con man into something new to make this work. He’ll need to avoid those on his own side who would hang him for piracy.
Serang is half a world away, leading her army of mercinary swordsmen toward the Fulminites. Mistrusted by both sides of the war, she appears as a third combatant on the battlefield. She may eliminate the mysterious order, only to succumb to the demons of her own tragic past.
Strap on your swords and hoist the colors one more time as the thrilling Lanternfish Trilogy comes to an end.
I know many of you are reluctant to start a series until it concludes. If that was your concern, fear no more. I’ll be taking this book out on tour, but will wait until after Thanksgiving to start. It’s probably the worst time, since it’s not a Christmas story, but maybe some folks prefer to avoid Christmas stories. This is an alternative.
I might have mentioned it, but I started a side project a month or so ago. I have a loose idea of a trilogy, and wanted to keep something going.
My plan is to have someplace to dabble whenever I have an hour. I learned some lessons from Lanternfish, and I can wait to publish until the whole thing is complete.
Right now, I have the final Lanternfish coming some time late Fall or early Winter. Good Liniment will follow maybe in February. I have time to fiddle with something while I scheme about promo and other needs.
Right now, the side project is at 22,000 words. This milestone stuck in my mind because of something I’m working on for Story Empire. It’s going to be a series about three act structure. At this length, I’m pretty much through act one.
I decided to assess my own story through the lens of act one. This is a found family kind of story, and all characters are on the table. Without a ton of backstory, readers should know who they are and what makes them tick.
I’m always weak on setting, but feel like readers will understand this is science fiction, and each location will differ to a degree. I have to remind myself to detail each new place, but we haven’t gone there yet.
We haven’t seen the actual bad guys, but witnessed some of their handiwork in the form of a terrorist act. Still debating whether to put a character on site, or let them experience it via news broadcasts. Since it’s a side project, I could go back and change things. It’s pretty clear what the problem is, and what kind of plan my characters have.
Because this is intended to be a trilogy, the plan is more personal. They’ll get exposed to the bigger picture as the story unfolds. They’ll need a different plan. I couldn’t do it quite the same way in a stand-alone.
If I’m missing anything, it has to be the stakes. Important in act one of a stand alone, but I have some wiggle room in a trilogy. They’ll figure it out as they get exposed to a bigger universe.
That’s something to consider for my Story Empire posts. I have four posts planned, but there should be a wrap up, and I might get some Expansion Packs out of the deal. Three act structure isn’t a rigid framework.
I’m already moving into parts of Act Two before I finish Act One. This is how it should work in a book. It’s not quite the same as a stage production. My characters are already dabbling in training and research. We might not get to the stakes for a few more chapters.
Eventually, I’ll start another main project. It will probably be something for Lizzie and the hat. If that doesn’t happen until Winter, that’s fine by me.
In other news, I picked more Asian pears this morning, washed them up, then restocked the refrigerator. They’re so much better this year for some reason. It could be the tree is maturing, might be the extra effort I put into thinning them this Spring. Might even be the extreme summer we had. Either way, I’m eating them for as long as they’re still good.
No real interruptions today. I made sure to follow my routine, and wound up making changes to existing material. I discovered that I’d gone over Mule and Yoshiko’s ending twice. Both were good material, but one seemed to fall in a better location. It’s odd for me to make a mistake like this, but I had to delete one section.
I also had to go back and add in a bit about Mal, the witch doctor. It wasn’t much, but he has fans and they will want to know how he wound up. He’s doing things on his terms, and I kind of like it that way.
I don’t mind telling you that I teared up at a few points. I know my characters are outrageous, but I designed them that way. Giving them a suitable ending was hard, but they all make sense. Readers will be left with a vision of the future for not only the characters, but the government in general.
Not everyone lived through this adventure. When there is a war, 100% survival seems unrealistic. That part was written months ago, but I worry about how it will be received.
Another concern is that a big part of this final adventure happens on land. I saw it as facing James’s weaknesses. He has to work where he is least comfortable to pull this off.
This yarn came in about 10,000 words shorter than the others. I am not worried about that. As the end of a trilogy, there is a bigger denouement, but I don’t want to drag it out either. In a classical sense, this is the one where you party with Ewoks.
The trilogy will end with plenty of cannonades, martial arts, a few con games, a haunted knife, and yes there are root monsters. I’m going to leave it in the fermenter for a month before I look at it again.
I don’t want to drop any spoilers, at least until I’m closer to publication. I’ve been sitting on the cover art for months, and thought perhaps you’d enjoy a sneak peek. It’s kind of a spoiler itself, but it’s too good not to share.
In other news, I spent last night creating a set of throwing bones that will make an appearance in the next Hat story. I may turn my attention to that storyboard, or I may download a book and read. Right now, I’m just letting it all soak in and will decide later.
I intended to work on my book today, but didn’t intend to hit it hard. I allowed myself to wake up whenever Otto decided he was hungry. It was still 6:30, but it’s two hours later than my alarm goes off.
I took my time. Read some blogs, dealt with email, and enjoyed my coffee. Even managed to pay the bills.
I started by backing up two chapters and made a few more adjustments than I usually do. I’m on the downhill slide here, and the denouement is writing itself pretty well. Since this is a trilogy, I have a lot of characters to cover.
I no sooner started than the phone rang. My daughter wanted to chat. Her premise was her sore feet. The backstory is that she rolled her ankle a couple of times in the last few years. She works on her feet and they get sore.
When she was here a few weeks ago, I showed her my rolley thing that you put on the ground and roll around with your foot. It’s like a short rolling pin, but is lathe turned so it has grooves. After about five minutes her feet felt great. She called to tell me she ordered one from Amazon.
“Okay. Good job. Thanks for calling…”
Ninety minutes later we were still on the phone. Budgets, shoes, work, Covid, etc. Mostly nothing special, but it was her. I can’t cut her off, and actually enjoy chatting with her.
Once we finally disconnected it was lunchtime. I decided to make myself a hoagie sandwich and used the stout beer mustard Old What’s Her Face bought me. It was really good.
Then I started writing, but knew I wasn’t going to finish. I brought things up to the point of Serang’s denouement, and on the cusp of the root monsters. I just never made it that far.
I have all weekend and am certain to finish the draft. I’m finding it kind of sad to bring this full circle. I’ve sailed a few seas with these characters, but it’s time to give them their happy endings. If my daughter claimed some of that time it’s fine by me.
My sincerest hope is that everyone’s ending is suitable for my readers. What I have in mind is realistic, and feels like it makes sense for the various characters.
I’ll get another chance tomorrow, and that will be fine by me.
I didn’t get a lot of opportunity to write this weekend, but accomplished something I’ve been working toward for a long time.
This final Lanternfish book is going to require a big denouement. I have a lot of characters to account for, and a lot to do once the war ends. The story stands at 74,000 words right now.
These books have all been over 100K. Since they are epic fantasy, that’s an acceptable amount. In this story, they’ve been on different continents, then different parts of the same continent. James and his group have been split into smaller groups based upon the winds of war.
Today, James and his advisors are with the Prelonian army on the outskirts of Airstony. This is the Prelonian capital, but it’s held by the Hollish. It’s been a brutal road getting here, and he’s lost track of his son along the way. Many of his long term crew are deployed elsewhere.
Serang’s path hasn’t been much easier, but she’s marched from victory to victory. So far they haven’t seen each other since the middle of the last book.
The Prelonians are outmatched by the Hollish in this battle. Their supply lines are precarious overland routes, while the Hollish can be supplied by sea.
I’m going to stop here for the weekend. Serang is here, and she’s bringing the secret to everything with her. I want a few commutes to dwell on my next words. The war is about to wind down, and the reconstruction is about to begin.
My co-main characters will occupy the same pages for the first time this year. I’m kind of excited about it.
Sundays are usually wasted days for me. As an example, I always call my parents on Sundays. We chat for about an hour, and I won’t sacrifice this time for anything.
Old What’s Her Face is also off today, so that means distractions and noise. She’s had the Harry Potter marathon on since last night and it started again first thing this morning. As much as I love these films, I’ve seen them hundreds of times and wanted something else.
I decided to go into another room and pick at my WIP. I also tried an experiment with dubious results. I’ll experiment a bit more, then it could lead to a post for Story Empire one day. It involves ambient noise while I write.
It started off with me monkeying with Alexa one day. There wasn’t a lot of choice there, but Staci Troilo set me up with an amazing site. I tried it today, but the noise goes off as soon as my phone darkens. This led me to YouTube, and that was more functional. The trick is to pick something and not get caught up surfing for several hours.
I settled upon two different “songs” for lack of a better term. One involved a peaceful meadow, the other was designed for inside a tomb.
The meadow is where I started writing, and I like what I came up with. Serang found the ruined city as planned in my storyboard. She uncovered the secrets I plotted out, but how she went about it was magical.
She’s discovered the lost temple of the Cartomancers. The one that was burned in the history of a previous war. This gives me a great tie back to the original Lanternfish book, and it works because we’re back on the original continent.
It turns out there is still one hidden storeroom that was not destroyed in the first war. Serang uncovered this by playing her flute. She noticed that a semi-circle of standing stones were placed in exactly the same configuration as the holes on her flute.
Musical stones are a real thing, so mine work as a kind of lithophone when someone grinds on them. This lithophone required multiple people, but it opened a hidden door to a small treasure trove of the intellectual variety.
It gives me a great tie back to Mule, his parents, and even the goblins who used to live in these lands. I’ll be circling back to this in the denouement phase of the story.
I also spent extra time to detail this area. This is a special place and so I added some fantasy creatures and details to make that apparent. I created linen birds, a ribbon bird, and even a clown spider. The spider also took Serang back to her youth when orchid mantises were fascinating to young monks. (Orchid mantises are also real.)
It only came to 2500 words, but I really like them. I need to go over it several times, but at least they exist. Wreck of the Lanternfish is about 32,000 words right now. I mention this, because it needs a big denouement. Both James and Serang have a couple of gigantic things to accomplish and I’m getting closer to those. My married cons have one big one to pull off, but it isn’t on par with the others. (Important to the story, though.)
I should probably wrap the war up somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 words. That will give me plenty of room to change the world and give everyone’s favorites a conclusion of some kind.
I’m sorely tempted to go back in my cave and write more, but I’m off tomorrow. I’ll start my day by going over what I just produced. There is an opportunity to drag out the discovery and that could be helpful. Best to look with fresh eyes.
It looks like that time again. I try to prepare a business plan for my writing career every January. These have been some of my most popular posts over the years, but that isn’t why I write them. I feel like everything is better with a little planning.
I’m sure this is no surprise, since I’ve posted both here and at Story Empire about my storyboarding method for plotting out my stories.
Mostly, I write these to keep myself honest. I refer back to them throughout the year to see how I’m doing. Let’s dive into it.
A few years ago, I decided my best promotional move was to write my next book. I’ve gotten discouraged with advertising that fails to produce, social media that sucks time, but doesn’t seem to do much else, so I write.
Honestly, it seems to be working. I can’t explain it exactly, but if someone were to pull up my Amazon page, it appears that I’m somewhat seasoned and in it for the long haul. Perhaps people are more willing to take a chance on me more than someone who only has one book. No idea, but it makes some sense.
It’s not that readers pick up everything I write. If someone likes paranormal tales, I have a few. Same thing for science fiction and fantasy. Some are like me and read all those genres, but I can appeal to the specialists now, too.
For the last two years, I’ve published three books per year. It’s kind of a grueling pace, but it was worth it.
This year, my goal is two publications. I want to complete my Lanternfish trilogy and get it out the door. I’ve already started on the final volume, but it’s been slow going. Too many holidays and not enough quality time.
The other book I’m working on is a continuation of The Hat series. Since this is an ongoing series, I don’t feel as much pressure as I do with Lanternfish. I have a couple of storyboards for volumes beyond the one I’m writing, and a few solid ideas with notes started.
Last year, a couple of things changed for me, and forced me to make a decision. My cover art and Lisa Burton promotional pieces took much longer than I was used to. I kind of overwhelmed my critique group, too. My choices were to start another project while I waited to publish the completed ones, or take a break. I took a break.
I know this doesn’t seem like me, but I needed it and I imagine my critique partners appreciated the few months off, too. I didn’t exactly kick back during this time. I spent it getting ready for two extensive blog tours. I make all my promo stops unique, so writing ahead was a good idea.
Timing of publications continues to vex me. I would like to hit one right before school lets out in the Spring, and the other around Halloween sometime. I’m not sure I’ve ever hit the Springtime target before, but have been moderately successful in the Fall.
By publishing two books instead of three, maybe that will simplify a few things. Maybe not, because Grinders in late Winter went off without a hitch.
I intend to use any spare time I have drafting something new. I don’t know what that will be yet, but I could go on the African adventure, maybe the post apocalyptic piece that’s set in the swamp, or something set in outer space. That last one seems to want to be a trilogy again.
The idea of another trilogy kind of drags me down, and excites me at the same time. For one thing, I could do things differently this time. I could hold the entire thing back while I finish it, then go for quicker releases after it’s finished. This would make it my side project for a couple of years.
Lanternfish was only intended to be a stand-alone story. Comments and feedback convinced me to turn it into a trilogy. With one already on Amazon, the others have to come along as they can.
I need to make some decisions on how to promote Wreck of the Lanternfish. I could promote the book, the whole series, or a bit of both. I could go on two different blog tours; one for the book, then months later for the whole trilogy.
I might be able to use some discount days or free days to promote with, too. James is clearly the main character, but Serang has become a co-main character along the way. Her origin story has never been on sale and walks readers into the trilogy. I could do something similar with Voyage of the Lanternfish, or both.
Promotion is like dowsing to me. I’m open to suggestions here, so don’t be afraid to speak up.
Last year, my blogging goal was to post two to three times per week. This came after years of posting four times per week, because Lisa Burton Radio was always on Thursdays. With retirement of Lisa’s show, it should have been easy to meet. I failed completely.
This is the one thing I will blame on Covid. Many of my posts are a slice of life. With all the lockdowns, working from home, and all the rest, there wasn’t much life to share. I’ve been lucky to make a weekend post for the last few months. I don’t know if this will change, so I’m not setting a goal here. I will keep updating Entertaining Stories, and meet my Story Empire assignments. Anything beyond that will have to be an extra.
Then there is social media. During my summer break, I kind of bailed on it. It never really has produced anything for me, and I spent some time changing out my pinned tweets and all the rest. I changed it almost weekly when I promoted the Experimental Notebooks. My blog automatically feeds to most of them, and I still share all of your things when I can. I just stopped actively participating.
Prior to my break, I used to go through my feed and retweet all of your posts, share the bigger things on Facebook, etc. Now it’s mostly posts from your blogs.
Older rules were that we had to be active on social media, because that’s where readers find us. It made perfect sense, but I never really saw it function in real-time. Interest in blogs seems to be slowing down, too, but it’s about all I have left. It also seems to be the only thing that will sell books from time to time, so I’m all-in here.
My goals aren’t as severe this year. Two publications that I already have partial manuscripts for. Keep the blogs up, and dabble in social media. Spend any spare time drafting something new.
Weigh in today. Teach me your promotional tricks. Do you prepare a business plan every year, or is that just me?
They say all posts perform better with a picture, so here you go. Frankie likes to help Mom make the bed, particularly when the bedding is warm from the dryer.