Tag Archives: word count

Poking my head above ground

It’s about 10:00 a.m. as I start this post. I just finished the draft of HMS Lanternfish. It’s one hell-of-a-lot bigger than I wanted it to be, but it’s all good stuff.

This is where I start contemplating the old phrase, “Kill your darlings.” It’s an important concept in fiction. Today isn’t the day for that. Today is the day to savor the moment and not dive into something I’m not ready for.

One of the things that occurs to me right now is that every stop the ship made in this adventure involves something important. Every stop does something to advance the story in one way or another. If I start eliminating chapters, characters, or scenes, the story will lose something. If I eliminate some of the monsters and such, it will change the world Lanternfish is set in.

Honestly, in science fiction or fantasy, 120K word volumes are common enough. I didn’t hit that watermark, but I’m not far off.

Only a few of you will know what I’m talking about here, but you can get it from context. If I eliminate Fēngbào, the bringer of storms, or the Omcrom, the story will lose something. Besides, I have a cool Lisa Burton poster on order that involves Lisa vs the Omcrom.

The critique and editing phases always tend to reduce words to a degree, so the count will go down in a small way.

I might eliminate some characters, but who? There are some that were barely used in this volume, but will have a bigger role to play in the final book.

This is why I’m not doing it today. If I send a chapter per week to my crit group, it will take weeks for them to see the end. I have some specific work to do after that, then I always read from start to finish one more time. At this pace, I’ll be lucky to have it out by August.

Somewhere in there, I need to finish The Ballad of Mrs. Molony, too. That ought to clear my head for the Lanternfish read. My hope now is to have Lanternfish out in time that it doesn’t interfere with releasing Mrs. Molony for the Halloween season.

I need to be content today. Show a bit of patience, then turn my attention to the critiques I received over the weekend. I also have a submission to mark up for a partner. Back to the regular grind, tomorrow.

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Strange Weekend

I had writing goals, plus some other authorly chores I needed to attend to this weekend.

The plus side was having almost enough words to send out a critique section of the next Lanternfish. Almost… So I added 1800 words on Friday and figured I was good to go.

When it came time to clip the section out of the MS, it only came to 3500 words??? I have no idea. I must have sent out a larger section the last time than I intended. Those were the last new words I’ve produced all weekend.

Most of my time was dedicated to reading Grinders from front to back. I accomplished that, and spotted a few places that needed adjustments. I also did my word searches and fixed all the simple errors.

After that, I sent an inquiry off to my formatter. I might be able to send it off before the holiday ends tomorrow.

I also prepared a cover reveal post and sent it off to those who offered in my comments from last week. I honestly don’t know how much good a cover reveal does, but it lets me do something for Chinese New Year.

Sean is working diligently on Lisa Burton Posters for a blog tour. With that and formatting, I might be ready to go in a month. Who knows, the cover reveal might build some interest.

I visited blogs a moment ago. I commented on very few, but tried to like the posts I read. I also used the Twitter button for a bit of support.

I may return to Lanternfish tomorrow, but don’t want to hit it too hard. Sometimes I need a day for being lazy. All in all, I accomplished a lot. It just wasn’t new words. If I get enough to to send a critique sample out it will be a bonus, but I’m not targeting that.

Hope everyone had a great weekend, and if you’re off tomorrow that you get to do something fun.

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For my next amazing stunt…

My presentation went well, and my work week ended on a high note. The drive home was uneventful, and the wildlife all but disappeared.

I’m kind of a curmudgeon when it comes to technology. I go all in on things that interest me, but avoid other parts of it. I didn’t want to take the time pairing my phone with the company car, so I made both drives in total silence. When I take my truck, I usually have my Lizzie and The Hat playlist blasting.

Funny thing about those silent drives. This is when Lorelei the Muse joins me and we have great conversations. There is no set path, and we bounce from project to project. I came up with some neat ideas for the post-apocalyptic thing I have partially storyboarded. I have some root monster ideas for the next Lanternfish story, and may have partially solved a geographical problem I discovered. Even Lizzie and The Hat were topics and I have some ideas about them, too.

Old What’s Her Face has to work today, so I had a morning to myself. I spent the time finishing the draft of Grinders. I’m just shy of 77,000 words. I think that’s a good length for a modern-day stand-alone novel. I like the way it came out. Story threads wrapped up, and there is some hope for the future. Even the animals got a half page epilogue to give them some closure.

After the first draft of Grinders, I tried to read all the blogs I missed from my road-trip. I admit to not commenting everywhere, and some of you only got a “like” and a tweet. I’m not even going to try catching up on Twitter.

I’m sure there will be a session of paying those damned bills today. We might even squeeze in a date night of some kind.

I have a loose plan for the future, but am not committing to very much. Grinders needs to go into the fermenter for a while. I’ll probably read everything I have of HMS Lanternfish tomorrow. That will put me back in the right mindset, and help me add words when I get another flex day.

I owe a few people some reads, and may carve out time for that. Part of me wants to start another side project immediately, but it doesn’t feel right. I have a new story about Lizzie and The Hat that could fill that slot. Lanternfish has been patiently at anchor since September, and I need to move that project along. I promised a trilogy, and Serang will only keep people distracted for so long. I must release a Lanternfish story in 2020.

Serang seems to be doing well, but could always use more reviews. I never intended to push her as hard as Viral Blues, but a couple more tour posts wouldn’t hurt. Maybe I’ll dig through my list and see if there’s someone I haven’t bothered in a while to host me. I still have one fresh new Lisa Burton poster I haven’t revealed to anyone. I can use it here, but I like to send her to other sites.

My early thought is Lanternfish can fill the rest of 2019 quite well. I need to think about what kind of cover and artwork I want for Grinders, set the money aside, then contact Sean. If I do this right, it could be out at the end of Winter or early Spring. By only working on Lanternfish, I have time for budgeting, thinking, and planning out my 2020 goals.

I guess my next amazing stunt is to dial it down a bit. Lanternfish lets me keep a hand in, but there are other things on my horizon, too. Winter feels like the right time for this. Do any of you take a step back this time of year?

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A tough stretch for me

Last weekend was my two day weekend, and I didn’t get much done. My wife was off at the same time, and it’s a distraction. Some things, but not a lot.

I get a three day weekend this time out, but my parents will be here any minute. I allowed myself to sleep in, because I deserve it once in a while.

Today came to about 1000 words. Not my best effort, but it’s progress. It will probably be the only writing I get to do.

Serang finished her assignment out in the wilderness, had some vivid dreams with deeper meaning that will payoff later, then she and her master headed out once more. They passed through miles and miles of opium poppies in bloom. There is no specific adventure for this part, so it’s just a bit of scenery.

Their main goal is to get to a boat, then meet back up with the only other monk left alive after the great purge. (As far as they know.)

I need to steer Serang toward what people know from Lanternfish, and this involves both internal things and external things. She showed a bit of growth and maturity in conversations with her master, now it’s time for her to experience boats.

It’s important to give Serang her hat, boots, and the rest of her outfit. She needs to learn martial arts, and weapons training. She also needs to grow and mature. She’s already been involved in some thefts and fights, which will relate to her future life.

Now it’s time to get on a boat. Can’t become a pirate on dry land. My next real day off is Wednesday, and I hope to move the story ahead then.

I’m looking forward to Mom and Dad coming. I haven’t seen them since fall, and we’ll go out to dinner somewhere. It will be nice. Our daughter is also coming since it’s her birthday weekend. I haven’t seen her in a while either.

Behind the scenes, I have some blog projects to work on, and may get some time for that Sunday afternoon.

I probably won’t update again until Wednesday night, but it’s because things won’t be that interesting. Hope all of you have a great weekend, Happy Easter, and all that jazz.

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My short weekend

I only get a two day weekend on the rotation. My wife is off too, so it doesn’t make for much of a writing weekend. Normally, it isn’t even worth trying.

Tomorrow is when I call my parents, so I lose an hour in the morning there.

I really wanted to reach a part in Serang, so I dabbled this morning among all the noise. This isn’t the same as quality writing time, but it did add words.

It only came to about 800 words, but I got to and through that folk legend I’ve been planning. I like the way it turned out, and Serang is working on completing her quest.

I’m happiest with a callback to her childhood that brought a bit of emotion to the scene. Early reports are that it worked.

This is the start of Serang’s quest. It involves a bit of mining while dealing with the local wildlife. It’s going to take a few words (and locations) to bring it full circle.

It wasn’t productive, but it was successful. Forward progress counts even a few hundred words at a time.

Because I already had some words, this allowed me to send about 6000 words to my critique group. I already have the majority of them back. I seem to keep making the same errors over, and over again. Maybe we all do that, but I’d like to think I’m improving in some small way.

I’ll probably try to address the critiques after talking to my parents tomorrow. They’re coming for a visit next weekend, and I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t seen them in a while. It will be fun, but takes the place of any writing progress.

The rest of the weekend will involve a whole lot of Game of Thrones.

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Breaking for a moment…

I really threw myself into writing today. It’s fun when you can see the end in sight, and know everything is coming together. I woke up fairly early, and managed 4600 words before lunchtime. Then I took a break.

I’m at 5450 on the day right now, and decided I needed another break. I’m going to see if my game is televised in about an hour, and if it is, I’m likely done. If not, I’ll probably keep going. I don’t get this kind of opportunity every weekend.

Serang and her master broke off from the caravan. They avoided a conflict with a huge baboon troop over the water hole, by riding around them. Have you seen the teeth on those guys, and the muscles. A few flintlock muskets wouldn’t be enough to stave off an entire troop of them. Since it’s fantasy, I can ramp up their abilities a little without concern.

They spent an extra day at the next waterhole, but the caravan is long gone now. Finally they went looking for an ancient trail that her master said was used by “wild men.” He’s referring to ancient people before civilization took hold.

They found bits and pieces of it, and something I never planned for happened. This is called an inukshuk.

The trail may be long gone, but the ancient markers are mostly still there. It gave the desert crossing a bit of a treasure hunt feel, and I really like it. I even played with shadows and light to reveal some of them and it turned out cool.

I saw inukshuk when I was in arctic Canada many years ago. The Inuit told me people made them because they were lonely, and that way they had a friend. Sounds like BS to me, but that’s what they said. The Basque sheepherders made rock monuments to mark the path they moved the sheep on every summer where I grew up. Eh, I stole a little from both of them.

I kept my monuments pretty primitive, and used desert sandstone to make them instead of glacial rubble.

Just before this post, they finally spotted the Temple of Wind in the distance. I’m excited for this part too, and don’t have any real plans for what happens as they pass through. I’m excited to see what happens myself. As a storyboarder, my index cards only hit the high points. The Temple of Wind is on an index card, but how I deal with this will be revealed as I write.

I should probably keep going, but if the game is on, I’m watching it. We’re dropping the Extra Innings package this year. I watched nearly every game last year, but it’s too damned expensive to keep up with. I’ll catch what few games I can, and check scores in the morning. We’re even talking about going with Hulu and getting rid of the whole satellite system entirely.

Maybe there’s something more to the statement about being a starving artist. Sometimes the only entertainment you can afford is your art. I’ve dedicated a lot of time to mine this weekend, and intend to spend more.

Hope you’re all having a great weekend whatever you’re doing.

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Sometimes even I get lucky

Today was supposed to be my last real writing day this weekend. I took it in that spirit, and cranked out 3200 words this morning. I forced myself to stick with Serang, because I want to get through the middle slog.

This was with an hour delay to update iOS, and Apple Pages, which is my word processor.

Our fictional caravan spotted the bandit’s fire before trouble began. They chose their ground and compelled the bandits to come to them. This led to a big fight, and Serang had to fight with an alternate weapon or two when she lost her staff. Turns out she’s pretty good at combat improv.

The caravan leader decided to make a forced march to get out of the bandit territory. All in all, that’s a pretty great writing day for me.

Then something miraculous happened. Old What’s Her Face came home from work and announced she is going to Nevada to hang out with her brother for the weekend.

Being the dutiful pet father that I am, I volunteered to babysit the dogs and tend the home fires. We played a little ball, I had a sandwich, then we all took a short nap.

I got up, and turned my attention to my MS again. Otto, not so much.

Daily word count is at 4300 and counting. I need to stop for a while to scrounge something for dinner. I also need to do a bit of research about their next obstacle. So I’ll leave Serang and company at the desert water hole that’s operated under a loose treaty with a killer baboon. He’s not kidding, but if everyone behaves they may not have a problem.

There is a real place in Namibia called the Wind Cathedral. You’ll have to Google it, because I can’t find any free use pictures. Basically, I’m going to turn the dial up on this and make it into a desert maze they have to go through. Since there are so many references to temples in this story, I’ll rename it something like the Temple of Wind.

This particular water hole is the tipping point of this journey. Serang and her master are going to leave the caravan and set off on their mission alone from here. I have a cool piece of folklore I can’t wait to write, and I’m making the whole thing up.

Since I have all night tonight, plus all day and night tomorrow, I may really make some progress on this story. I feel like the toughest part of the middle is behind me now.

Who knows, I may actually get to publish this one before school lets out. Cover art has been ordered already.

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1400 words today

I turned my attention back to the group story that still needs a name. Lizzie and the hat took care of a bunch of zombies, but the main focus was on Clovis and Gina.

They had to clear out a building where the virus is being loaded into vaccines. I probably need to go back through and ramp up the creepiness factor, but I like how it came out.

My favorite part was when they all got back together. The hat was absolutely manic, and laughing himself silly. I liked the part where he said, “If I had a bladder, I’d wet my pants.”

My heroes were forced to torch the building holding the virus, leaving one contaminated person inside. Since he’d never survive the virus, it was a bit easier for them.

I also revealed the big bad for the first time. This is the paranormal entity that’s behind all these shenanigans. She got away this time.

Still 1400 words isn’t too bad.

I also spent a big part of my morning monitoring that Facebook lounge post about Lisa Burton. It cut into my writing time, but all in all it was a good day. A good weekend for that matter.

Tomorrow, I have to go back to the job that actually pays me. I think I’ll call it a weekend and goof off this afternoon.

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Some days I hate to stop

Today was a writing day. When I have the place to myself, dogs excepted, it’s usually a decent writing day. Today was no exception.

I decided to work on my nameless team-up adventure. It feels like about 4000 words today, and I hate to stop. Old What’s Her Face will be home soon, and that stops it anyway, so it’s time to blog.

My characters did some spying with a drone, discovered that the bad guys raised the stakes with what amounts to a biological weapon, then identified a likely place to investigate further.

The new site is swarming with zombies, and the team was beaten back. A couple of the girls commented on Jason’s bare butt as he tried to help them avoid getting killed.

Lisa Burton was taken out of action by a huge electro-magnet. Computers and magnets don’t get along too well.

Gina decided it was time to fight fire (undead) with fire (undead). This led to a fun Voodoo ritual, and the game changed directions for a bit. That’s right at the point where I stopped, and there is a lot more to this part.

Clovis had to face a small bit of his past, in the form of zombies that he’d already made dead once before. He isn’t phased by much, so I doubt it will slow him down. I probably need to beef this part up a little.

Like I said, sometimes I hate to stop. It makes for a good place to pick it back up again.

Sundays I call my parents, so a lot of my quality time goes into that. This makes late morning a great time to address some of those Serang edits I need to get to. I’ve decided to do this in two parts. First, fix all the grammatical things, then go back to paragraph one and edit for content. To do this, I’m going to identify the key points, do word count between them, then assess if the between parts get beefed up or cut back.

Serang has been a little tougher to write, but it’s a great experience. It’s kind of a fictional biography, and there are some things from Lanternfish that cannot be changed. I’m enjoying the challenge of this one, but they are different challenges than the other story.

I’m off Monday too, so I’ll probably leap the team-up story ahead some more. At least that’s my goal.

I started my day with some sourdough toast, and it was great. I’m having a meatloaf sandwich now, and it’s great too. All in all, it’s been a great day. Hope yours is too.

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Pretty good flex day

This is my last flex day of 2018. On holidays, we work eight hour days, because so many people want time off. I only have Christmas Day off next week, and New Year’s Day off the next one.

I wanted to accomplish some things today, and feel like I’ve done that. I started off by opening a can of chicory coffee and making some. It’s kind of a treat, and not what I usually buy. I like to get a small can once in a while, like today.

Social media is always my first stop, so I worked through email and such. Then I turned my attention to some critiques I received. Working through this section a couple of times served the same purpose as reading my last chapter, so I figured to give it a go.

I wound up with 2600 words, and that makes for a nice day for me. My characters, argued, chased two different kinds of monsters around, and shot the crap out of things. I think they had fun too.

Confession time here. I don’t have a detailed storyboard for this one, and I’m struggling with word count again. I may have to give up some writing time, and make a board for the portions that are left. This one is extremely character driven, so the plot doesn’t have to be quite as heavy. I still need one though, and the characters ought to be moving it along.

Second confession time. I’m writing two books at once. This is almost always a problem, but I’m doing it again anyway.

Then I turned my attention to Lisa Burton Radio. I have tomorrow’s post all written and scheduled. It promises to be a fun one, so make sure you swing through.

I still have another one to prepare the shtick for, but I normally wouldn’t do that until Saturday. I might still do it this afternoon.

Other duties include the Christmas Eve post at Story Empire. I still have no idea what I’m going to do there, but I’ll come up with something. It probably isn’t the best day to conclude the mini-series about writing small, then medium, then large.

I also think next week might not be the best week to force upon one of Lisa’s guests. I may write something up for myself just to fill the slot.

If I don’t do anything else today, it was a good day. I may just play with the dogs and hang out. Or storyboard. I should be storyboarding.

This is squirrel patrol in the big chair with me. Note Otto’s open and alert eye as he scans the back fence. He couldn’t catch one in a million years, but he enjoys the chase.

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