Tag Archives: Voyage of the Lanternfish

Still on vacation, kind of

I milked the system to gain a small vacation for writing purposes. New Years Day was a holiday, I took Thursday and Friday off, then the weekend came, and my flex day is Monday. It took some manipulation, but I gained some reasonable personal time by doing it.

Old What’s Her Face was off all the same days, except for tomorrow. There is good and bad to this process. Understand that we’ve been married for a long time, and sometimes you just need your personal time. Still, we watched some movies together, even managed a date night last night. Our son gave us a gift card for Christmas, so we had a nice seafood dinner on a weekend where we didn’t get paid.

I wound up going into a different room to do a bit of writing each day. I spent a few weeks making a playlist, and wrote with music in the background this time. This is theatrical stuff, and normally fades into the background, except for those few pieces that grab you and force you to listen. I know people love playlists, so here’s a brief list of some places I sampled from:

  • Last of the Mohicans
  • Kill Bill
  • Once Upon a Time in the West
  • Wonder Woman
  • Pirates of the Caribbean (of course)
  • The Forbidden Kingdom
  • The Exorcist
  • 47 Ronin

There are a few others, but it covers a broad spectrum. I intend to keep adding to this, because some days it helps the words flow. I’m going to scope out a few other old films, but will wait until payday before doing so.

It’s a whole different kind of music from my Lizzie and The Hat playlist. That one is full of old Rock and Roll, Blues, and a few other cuts from odd places, even Glam Rock.

Writing happened. Every day was over a thousand words, but I never had one of those blockbuster days. Those just don’t come along very often.

My pirates explored Bungo Bungo, the floating island. I had a lot of fun coming up with new creatures for a rather magical place. The Omcrom were a lot of fun, but I struggled to keep them mundane. I wanted tribal creatures that were rather benign, since everything else that shows up is murderous or carnivorous. They’re about knee high, wear simple leather togas, walk upright, but occasionally use their knuckles in a four legged trot. They have long tails, and the beaks of sea eagles. They’re trimmed out with moss where hair should be, but I didn’t go into detail about whether this is a modified form of hair or feathers.

In typical Lanternfish style, you get a glimpse of their culture, but no more than my pirates might observe while they’re on Bungo Bungo. I kind of want a bit more from them, but there is one more encounter as they’re leaving the island. That one involves the root monsters, and could turn out well.

There is also the gigantic oil toad that seems to be in charge. He even gets dialog. Then I came up with the idea of the boatmen, which aren’t men at all. They’re scary and nasty.

I have a couple of images on Pinterest that I melded together to create the Omcrom. These are line diagrams of what an artist calls trolls, and I think they are wonderful. I also have a few images of Stellar’s Sea Eagles, that became part of their makeup. Here is my piracy board if any of you are interested. I can’t share someone’s graphics here.

The pirates reached the cave and obtained the tidbit of information they need to return to the war. I still need to get them off the island and back to the ship. After obtaining the info, I should probably move on fairly fast. It’s going to take a couple of days to get back to the ship, and I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do with that section. I even managed to weave in a callback to Voyage of the Lanternfish, and a couple of small ones to Serang.

I started at nearly 40K words, and stopped today at 47,700. Not a real productive vacation, but I did some things with my wife along the way, too. We watched Captain Marvel, and I don’t think it deserved some of the fanboy bad press it received. I enjoyed it. I also polished off the last two inches of my prized bottle of Laphroaig. I’ll have to budget for a new one come payday. Don’t panic, there are still a few treasured bits of bourbon in my cabinet. I’ll survive. There are also a few pints of stout around here.

With a stellar day tomorrow, I’d like to work up to 50K. I also have to make that root monster scene come across well. I’m going to hit it hard tomorrow. I’m tempted to come up with another monster or creature, but Bungo Bungo might be interesting enough now. I’ll figure that out as I go.

31 Comments

Filed under Writing

Escaping the storm

I got started at the writing cabin fairly early today. Lisa Burton, my robotic assistant was in a snit.

“I don’t know how to flatten my skull so I can cosplay one of those Boondish people in your story.”

“Don’t worry about it. If they get any lines at all, they’re going to be minimal.”

“I have some adjustable parts so I can change my facial features, but not to that extent.”

“Maybe you can try a hair bump. A big one.”

“It would have to be big, but I might try it.”

“I wouldn’t worry about it. The root monsters get plenty of dialog, and you haven’t tried to dress up like one of them.”

“I suppose that’s true. So what are we writing today?”

“James is wounded, he’s had his vision, and they’re still running from the big storm. They don’t know it, but they’re on their way to Bungo Bungo.”

“What’s with all these names?”

“I’m trying to borrow from the Pacific islands as much as possible. I set Lanternfish in a fantasy world to avoid comparison to another famous Pirate adventure. I’m also avoiding any Carribean references if I can.”

“Got it, so what’s on the agenda?”

“James has to process his vision, then make a new plan without all the data he’d like.”

“Doesn’t that happen in all the stories?”

“You caught me. I think it’s an important part of character building. Because they have the second ship, and all the extra mouths, they’re running low on food. They can’t just pull into McDonalds and fill up. Serang even has them using boards and hand lines to catch fish.”

“That calls back to her own book, so that’s kind of cool.”

“When I was a kid, people used to troll in boats with a board wrapped in fishing line. It’s totally not PC today, but everyone called such a rig a Chinaman.”

“Oh, so you made the connection in your mind that Serang would know about this way of fishing.”

“Yeah, but I don’t come right out and call it that. Besides, it’s a fantasy world, there is no China.”

Lisa left to try bumping her hair to absurd levels, and I went to work. James processed his vision, healed his burns, but not his bad back, and they escaped the storm. They made it to the floating island called Bungo Bungo, and even stepped on the beach. Then I had to give up for the day.

Bungo Bungo is a magical place, and because it moves around, it’s going to have a variety of things from all over the world occupying it. I’m pretty excited to get going on this section, but ran out of gas.

I started the weekend at about 31000 words, added around 2000 on Saturday. Sunday I didn’t do anything. I never broke 40000 words, but I’m thiiiiiis close. That means today came in at just under 7000 words, and that’s the best day I’ve had in a long time.

The magical beer horns sounded, and were chased into the office by a pair of root monsters. Beer sloshed all over the floor. I scooped one up before the monsters made a mess of things.

Something tells me Lisa is going to put the monsters back in the vegetable crisper while I’m at work.

Lisa Burton

34 Comments

Filed under Muse

Getting back in the groove

I landed at the writing cabin early this morning. I had the little gyrocopter buzz a mammoth and her calf to clear the runway, but it was a piece of cake after that. Frozen ground is almost as good as asphalt.

Lisa met me coming up the stairs. She wore a green, knee-length, Christmas dress with furry white trimming. “What are you doing here? Thought you were done for the year.”

“Not by a long shot. I stepped back to do promo, but never intended to take a longer break. How’s the coffee situation?”

“I can make some. I have the cabin wired as a smart home, so all I have to do is send a signal to the coffee maker.”

“Very efficient. I’d expect nothing less from you.”

“Go into the lobby and check out my Christmas tree. I’ll bring you a cup when it’s ready.”

The tree was one of those artificial pencil trees that are so popular now. Lisa always was on top of trends, but she decorated it with shapes she’d cut out from old compact disks and circuit boards. She had stars and reindeer, there was even a pair of high-heels in shiny compact disk silver. “What’s with these ornaments?”

“Those are things robot girls like. I didn’t think you were coming out until next year.” She opened a large box with bubble-gum pink baubles. “Do you want to help me finish decorating it?”

“Tough to pass up, but I need to start writing again.” I left her to it, then went to my office.

The first step was to reread a few chapters of HMS Lanternfish. This helped to get back into the swing of things. When I finished that, Lisa came back.

“I’ll go get my pirate outfit. Didn’t know that’s where you were working. Do you want the root monsters?”

“Where are they? I assumed they went home.”

“They’re in the vegetable crisper drawer.”

“Oh-my-God. Are they okay in there?”

“Oh yeah. It slows them down and keeps them fresh. They drank all your beer the other day, though.”

“No, then. I don’t need their mischief just yet. My pirates have so many problems I don’t know how they’re going to deal with them all. I’m going to have to address a bit here and there. I’m going to deal with this treasure galleon on the horizon, then address some of it in the cool down phase.”

She placed a steaming mug on my desk. “Holler if you need anything. I’m going to work on my tree.”

My crew took the galleon, and it posed yet another problem. Throughout their adventures, they’ve never had enough. They didn’t have enough cannon, they needed munitions, they needed crew. This time they have all of those things. Sailcloth, food, whatever they need. The galleon provided them with too much.

Gold is heavy, despite what the movies show us. You don’t just toss gold bars around like potatoes. A bellyful of gold will make Lanternfish draft lower in the sea, and limit her mobility in a fight. They even have to distribute it correctly to keep the ship running true.

There’s also the question of how to cashier the crew when there’s too much. They can’t pile it under cots and hammocks. They also lose motivation to continue on with the war effort. The crew is tasked with warfare, but could easily retire to a nice island or villa somewhere with this much gold.

Most of my time was spent in the cool down phase while James speculated on the logistics. He’s a worrier, and that suits his character.

Lisa returned with fresh coffee, and an outfit change.

Lisa Burton

“What’s with the little guys?”

“I only got a couple of them out for inspiration. There are another dozen in the fridge. They think my tree has weird fruit growing on it.”

“Your ensemble is inspiring, too. You make a picturesque pirate.”

“Darned straight. Let me know if you need my Serang outfit for a chapter or two.”

“Not today. I’m about done. I have a couple of other projects to get to. 2100 words is a good day after being away for so long. We’ll pick it back up tomorrow.”

***

It feels good to get back to new material after my break. I want HMS Lanternfish to hit the shelves in 2020, and it would be best if it were in the Spring to spread things around a bit. Guess I’d better keep chipping away at it.

37 Comments

Filed under Muse

A bit about Serang

I think some of you are suffering from tour fatigue, and I am, too. Between two books, it’s been a long process. I hope you’ll indulge me one last post about Serang, and it will be mine.

This time out, I offered my hosts either Lisa Burton or me. I asked my hosts what they would like for their readership, and I really enjoyed the challenges. I think the Serang tour posts were some of the best promo stuff I’ve ever written.

As fun as that was, there is always a downside. Lisa only got one taker, but I have two posters. Rather than shop for another host this week (Holiday week considered) I decided to take it myself.

Lisa Burton

This is Lisa, posing as Serang with her Fu dogs/lions. The female is covered with grey fur, and the male is bronze. Serang had these guys in Lanternfish, but we get a lot more information about them in Serang.

One of the things I’ve tried to do is not explain too much about certain things. Readers will get a bit of information about Fu cubs and parents. How they chose Serang, and more. I never answer the question completely about how she summons them in times of need.

Readers will see her touch her weapon to a jade pendant she wears, and the animals will appear. Whether this is a result of the pendant, her weapon, some combo, or the connection of Serang’s spirit with the otherworld – I never answer. This is on purpose. Not everything needs to be explained. Readers should have a tidbit to imagine for themselves.

The Fu themselves are formidable in battle, and I’ve already written them into HMS Lanternfish. They rub on her like cats, and when the male purrs it’s almost frightening.

Serang becomes identified with the Fu, and there is a bit more information, but I’m not going to spoil it for you.

That wraps my touring for a while. I’m tired and I think you are, too. Winter is coming and I need to read, and work on the next Lanternfish story.

Both Viral Blues and Serang sold fairly well. They could both use more reviews. Serang in particular is suffering on this front. If any of you are so inclined, it would mean a lot to me.

I’m not going to include the standard cover and blurb. You guys have seen it by now, and both covers in my sidebar are linked to Amazon.

Feel free to use Lisa and the Fu as your computer screens or add them to Pinterest as it suits you. If I get ambitious, I may create a pinned tweet using this poster, but the Viral Blues one is still up and relatively new.

29 Comments

Filed under Writing

It worked. It’s a book

I allowed myself that extra hour of sleep the time change provided. This isn’t my first book, so I didn’t completely panic when I got up.

I went through my morning routine, fed the dogs, etc. When I check email, Amazon said it was a book. I dedicated some time to updating BookBub, Goodreads, claiming the book for my Amazon author site, all those fun things. I also updated Entertaining Stories so Serang shows up in the sidebar.

I’m too lazy to cover my banner image with bamboo or jungle vines, so I’ll leave Clovis’ car and dog there for now. I could ask Sean for an art update, but I’m trying to save a buck here and there.

As of now, the cover in the sidebar links to Amazon. Then I did something unusual. I added another 1500 to 1800 words to Grinders. This one is racing toward the finish line, and I want to clear my deck so I can take Lanternfish back up.

I wrote one promotional post and sent it out, then decided to update my blog. Here is some data about Serang.

Blurb:

Monastic life is all about duty, service, harmony. For Serang, a young girl abandoned at the temple by her mother after the death of her father, that life becomes all she knows. The monks give her purpose, and become her new family.

When political upheaval causes chaos throughout the land, Serang again loses everything and everyone she loves. Alone, she struggles to survive. She convinces a wandering monk to take her under his wing and complete her training. Thus begins her adventures through strange lands and her trials to become a confident, capable, independent adult.

This is a coming of age story set in a fantasy world. It’s filled with monsters and martial arts, difficulties and dangers. The serious situations preclude the story from the levity of its predecessor, Voyage of the Lanternfish, but it provides a compelling look at the origin of one of the saga’s most fascinating characters.

 

***

This story is a supporting story to the Lanternfish trilogy. Serang was so interesting, and her part of the world so different than other places in that story, that I though she deserved her own tale. I also intend for it to hold people over while I finish writing the next volume. I hope you guys will give it a chance sometime this winter.

 

53 Comments

Filed under Writing

Saturday checking in

Things have been pretty crazy around here. I (nearly) finished up my blog tour for Viral Blues this week. The big climax was the Something Wicked tour with all my Story Empire friends. I like to reblog my appearances in hopes of sending the host a bit of traffic. For that leg of the tour, I had my own guest that day and could not post over the top of them. They deserved the spotlight, and brought us some wonderful options for Halloween reading.

I say almost finished, because I have one interview that will post on Halloween. It promises to be a good interview, and I’ll share it here. Then, that’s it for Viral Blues. I’ll watch for reviews, and if they’re on BookBub I can tweet them out. BookBub is starting to warm on me. I need more followers there, and am willing to follow back.

This is where I come to a rift between heart and head. My heart wants to return to drafting of new material. I still have two projects in the works, and one of them is near conclusion. I also have some fun ideas for the Lanternfish sequel, but it is lagging a bit behind. I may have a little maneuvering room here this coming week.

My head is telling me to release Serang. This one is a supporting story to Lanternfish, and not part of the main trilogy. I made big strides toward publishing today, and expect to publish it next week.

This may actually be a cover reveal. I don’t recall sharing the image before. With Serang, I’ll need to do a bit of promotion. I’ll do a blog tour, but I don’t think it will be as extensive. I only have two specific pieces of Lisa Burton art, plus I can recycle the one from Lanternfish. I haven’t even started writing posts yet, so that’s going to eat into my time.

I have my concerns about this story, but I freak out about all my releases. Lanternfish had comedy bits, and they were well received. Serang was one of the more serious pirates, and her origin story will be serious, too. (Sorry to disappoint those comedy fans.) I have some neat settings and situations in the story, so we’ll all find out together. The few coming-of-age stories I’ve written were well received, so fingers crossed. A lot of things about Serang are explained in this story.

My wiggle room is in the form of vacation, paid vacation. I’m getting paid to be an author. (Don’t laugh, I’m counting it as a win.) I don’t have to return to work until Halloween. Old What’s Her Face is out of town for a couple of days, and that helps, too.

I’ll spend the next few days dabbling with blurb ideas, maybe cobble together some promotional posts. I’ll check my list of potential hosts, and see who I haven’t put the touch on lately. I really have no idea who I’m going to ask.

I may even pull up that nearly finished draft and add a chapter to it. It’s science fiction, so it won’t tangle with any fantasy ideas I’m working on.

No matter what, I’m breaking for the World Series. I still have a few remaining pumpkin beers and can’t be expected to work all the time. I don’t have a favorite team, and nobody this year has me cheering against them either. So far the games have been great, and I hope they continue on that path.

Let me hear from you. Are you watching the Series? Do you have a favorite team? Am I crazy for releasing another book on the heels of Viral Blues? Do you like or hate the cover? Are you sick of all this book promo?

27 Comments

Filed under Writing

I came up short

I knew writing time was going to be at a premium this weekend. My ultimate goal was to break 30K words on Lanternfish, but I didn’t make it.

I’ve been stealing an hour here and there in an alternate room, and it just isn’t the same. I’m a firm believer that all progress is progress, so I have some of that to keep me positive.

A big part of my slower pace comes down to logistics. I’m dealing with a fantasy world in Lanternfish, but ships don’t just sail from point to point. Even with James’s sextant, there are weeks and months involved in moving the ship.

I have them with an easy appointment to make with the Prelonian Navy, but too much time on their hands. They decided to go chasing information about a new enemy in the war, but still need to make their rendezvous.

I like the extra tension this brings, but I’m writing myself into a corner to a degree. They need to visit two or three places, but still make the appointment. There are going to be delays with piracy, exploring, and more.

It’s easy enough to “magic” my way out of this issue, but that isn’t fair to readers. Even with James’s sextant there have to be rules. It has a limited range, even though it’s much greater than other ships can sail in a day.

They’re going to be doing some exploring in what is similar to the South Pacific. Since this is a fantasy world, I don’t have to place all the islands exactly like they might appear on Earth.

Now a bright author might just back up and change the time of the appointment to allow for all this exploring. I could do it, but I want to challenge myself. I’m even toying with the idea of being at the rendezvous point late. This could add some extra tension to the series. What sort of disaster could this lead to? (It is book two of a trilogy, so a bit of tragedy is allowed.)

There are other forces at work here, too. I have a tropical storm hinted at that will cause some delays and diversions. So I have partial information they need on two different islands, plus a tropical storm, and a tight deadline they have to make. Let’s face it, there needs to be some piracy going on here too.

One fun bit today. I included a mermaid in my story. I swore to avoid traditional monsters and legends in this tale, but there she was. She isn’t like anything you’ve likely seen before. She’s about 90 feet long and towers above the ship when she visits. She could easily pull them down to the depths, but is a benevolent creature/person. (For a change.)

In my mind it’s a good time to go back to the paycheck job. Some of this stuff tends to work itself out during the commute. I may have to adjust my outline a bit to make it all come out the way it should.

Lanternfish spent the entire first book without having everything they need. It involved crew, guns, munitions, etc. I’m also thinking about what it might do to the crew to have too much. How motivated might they be to assist in the war when their hull is overflowing with treasure? People with nothing to lose see the world differently than those who have more than they’ll ever need. It’s an interesting concept if James has to hold the crew together in face of this new challenge.

Again, putting it aside for a week often brings more clarity to issues like this. I may even have a solution in mind, but need some time to work it all out.

That was my writer’s weekend. As a couple, we managed date night at Old Chicago and I sampled the seasonal beers. We also rented Godzilla King of the Monsters, and I really liked it. I like the way they worked in the fever theory of global warming. The theory is that living creatures get a fever when they’re sick to kill off the bug that’s causing the problem. In the fever theory, Earth is the creature, global warming is the fever, and we are the virus that’s making her sick. This theory has been around for a long time, but it was cool that the film went with it.

For those of you who get a holiday, I hope you’re enjoying your Labor Day. For everyone else, I wish you a happy Monday whatever you’re doing.

30 Comments

Filed under Writing