Tag Archives: word metrics

I think it works…

At not quite 3700 words, I pushed my pirate hat back on my head and looked across the room at Lisa Burton, my robot assistant. She wore her Serang costume and twirled the huge guandao about.

Lisa Burton

“I think I accomplished what I set out to do today. The Fulminites are terrifying, and no root monsters were killed in this adventure.”

“You killed the Fulminites though.”

“Did I, or did they do that themselves?”

Flattop, the root monster, sat beside my iPad. “Whew! Modders all go splat, but okey dokey at the end. Then get to throw hailstones.”

“I thought you guys deserved a bit of fun.”

“I like how Fēngbào came out,” Lisa said.

“He’s a god that Serang knows about. He brings the monsoon… violently, I might add. Not a lot more than that, which is kind of the Lanternfish style. No in depth legends to slow the story down. He just is what he is and brings the rain.”

“And thunder, and lightening, and waterspouts, and wind that can level a city…”

“Okay. He’s kind of over the top, but that’s also Lanternfish style. I worried about this scene for weeks, but sometimes you just have to put on your pirate hat and hack away at it. I can change it if my critique group thinks I need to, but it’s hard to change something that doesn’t exist.”

“Speaking of your group, did you get the final section of Grinders sent out?”

“Yup, it’s on the way to them. I’m not going to worry about it, until I hear back from them. You did some good work today, Serang played an important role on Kiriwina.”

“Modders like those names. Kiriwina, Matacucu, and Rakiura.”

“I pulled some of them from a map of the Pacific Islands, and changed some with Google translate. That’s how I came up with the name Fēngbào, too.”

“Modders not know Booble slate.”

“It’s okay, buddy. Only I have to know that.”

“So how come Serang didn’t get all torn up in the explosion like everyone else?”

“I don’t need her to be wounded, and maybe she wasn’t as close to the epicenter as the others were. Don’t think about it too much.”

Lisa sat down the weapon, then picked up the bamboo flute. “I’d love to be able to play this thing for real.”

“You have been, haven’t you?”

“Robot girls don’t have lungs, genius. I’ve been holding it to my lips then playing back a soundtrack.”

“It helped me with my writing. Maybe you can play that Kill Bill number one more time.”

“You know that was played on a pan flute and not one of these, don’t you?”

“You fake it well. Maybe that’s all any of us can do. I hope I fake my stories well enough to make people enjoy them.”

***

Back to the office tomorrow, but 3600 words, and a difficult section out of the way is a good day every day.

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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.

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Vacation time trickles out…

I have everything I need to publish Serang today, but I procrastinated. People aren’t hurting for something fresh from me, so I have time.

  • Side note, still time to read Viral Blues for Halloween.

I’d like to publish this before the year runs out, and next weekend is a fair option. I need to devote some time to the blurb for this one. Because it’s a supporting story for Lanternfish, it takes place in a mildly fantasy setting. It isn’t quite as big as Lanternfish, but there is a dragon of sorts, (Maybe two or three depending on how you count) and I don’t want to mislead anyone.

Serang is a coming of age tale, so I need to communicate that. It takes place in a time of great political upheaval, so that has to get in there. I don’t want people to be upset because there are fantasy elements, or disappointed that it isn’t epic fantasy. A bit more thought might help when writing this blurb. By next weekend I might have it all sorted out.

What did I do with my spare time? I spent some time supporting the Something Wicked blog tour, along with some of my older posts. Today there is a blog push from the paid promo I did, and I already saw one sale from that. Fingers crossed for more.

I’ve also been staying up late for the World Series. So far the home team hasn’t won a single game. That’s never happened before, and it’s been a great series. Game seven is tonight, so I’ll be tired at work tomorrow. A nap seems like a good idea so I’m not too flat in the morning.

We had a chore day, so we got the camper put away for winter, and managed a date night out of the deal. Halloween is the only beer tour I participate in these days, and got my glow in the dark tee-shirt. I’m wearing it right now.

I spent a couple of days adding thousands of words to my side project. This one is a cyberpunk tale set in a futuristic version of San Francisco. It challenged me to use science fiction to exaggerate some issues we see in current society, and it challenged my world-building skills, too.

I’m very happy with a piece I wrote yesterday that went down during the Chinese New Year parade. A cyberpunk version of that parade. If the stars align, I can publish it on actual Chinese New Year for a bit of extra luck. I’m year of the rat, next year is rat. Maybe I’m due for some luck. There are rats in the story…

The story is called Grinders, and I’m at 71,000 words right now. Getting it done this year shouldn’t be too tough, and if I can afford the artwork, publishing on Chinese New Year seems realistic.

I didn’t do anything particularly exciting, and it felt great. I did what I wanted, when I wanted to do it. I was mildly productive and I wasn’t at the office. Sometimes it’s good to have a break from the workaday world, and that’s what I did.

Hope everyone has a Happy Halloween, and finds a way to take a small break on occasion.

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Weekend writing

Today was a little odd, in that I didn’t get to write in the pre-dawn hours. My wife and I are both off, and this usually kills my schedule. It did today, too, but if I don’t adapt a little, I can’t get anything done.

I went to another room in the house, which required me to move a bit of equipment around, but it was that or nothing. There was a little distraction in that the light on the ceiling fan is hanging down by a wire.

This kind of thing irritates me. I got out the step stool and monkeyed with it for an hour, until my arms ached. I have to twist it until the threads catch, and you wouldn’t think it would be that hard. All I can say is the size of the piece prevents me from seeing, and working overhead doesn’t help either. It was something I had to feel. In this project, I failed. I have a better ladder, so I might try again tomorrow.

As far as word count, it feels like about 2000. Not my best day by a long shot, but not awful either. In one more critique sized chunk I’ll break 30,000 words. This scene doesn’t lead to rapid word count either. I just finished an action packed section, and Lanternfish escaped to the open sea. As captain, James needs to think about his next move.

This is important stuff, because he has a balance to maintain. Open seas are relatively safe, but the war torn coast where he’s headed is dangerous. Privateers loot enemy ships to supply their own country. Pirates don’t want uniforms and boots. They want something more valuable. He also needs intelligence and needs to decide how best to gain it. Between strategic moves, keeping his crew motivated, the ship supplied, and more, the captain has a lot to keep track of.

This works in the scope of a book, because it can’t be all action and/or humor all the time. Readers need a breather, too. It isn’t like I don’t know what James is going to do, but I want to make sure I sell it correctly.

James is one of the more serious characters aboard the ship. I’ll have to delve into something more colorful as they set their course.

I’m once again noticing the value of a large cast. Lanternfish tales never seem to have me worried about the word count. I can always dip into something the crew is doing to add a bit of color.

If I can hit 2000 words per day, I’ll break 30K before the weekend is over.

In another part of my life, the wifi in this house improved when CableOne finally decided to replace their ancient router. However, the new one came with dead spaces, one of which is where I work. I was looking into various pieces of equipment to boost the signal, then decided to talk about it with my son. He’s been looking into the same thing, so he was well versed.

He pointed out the new routers come with two signals. He suggested I try the other one before buying any equipment. I didn’t even know what he was talking about. It seems the router is identified twice in searches, the only difference is that one ends in 5G. Not every bit of equipment is functional on 5G, certainly not this old iPad. I made the switch and all is well in wifi land.

I point this out, because some of you might not know this either. If you’re having wifi troubles you might try this simple trick before spending more money.

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Vacation ends

Time to go back to the office tomorrow. I’m regretting not taking the next two days off, but I hate being behind at work, too. My staff has been working, and I’m sure there is a pile awaiting me.

Vacation was filled with obstacles, but I did the best I could. I never did look into promotional blog posts and should have. I don’t need any of them until September, but I like to work ahead. Blogging isn’t like drafting new work, and I could create one every evening if need be.

One of those obstacles was my yardwork, but that is all finished and I’m still married. The peaches are about gone, and they’ll be missed until next year.

My word goal was plucked out of thin air, based upon what I’m capable of. The problem with those kind of projections is assuming there won’t be interruptions. I failed to hit 20K, but I did hit 10,400. Total is at 17. 4 K, so it was a productive vacation.

I month ago, I went on the hunt for a New Orleans phone book to help with character and place names. I’ve never been able to score one. I like this area because of the “melting pot” that city offers. I know not many have land lines, but I don’t want to call them anyway. I only want to browse through names for my fiction.

I failed on NOLA, but I did score this one:

I don’t see why Baton Rouge isn’t just as good, and I put it to good use today. Lanternfish needed some new characters, and this helped me come up with some decent names.

I also worked up a raft of deadly dangerous sea creatures. These are based upon the real world Portuguese Man of War, but they’re a bit different in my fantasy world.

I had to leave Lanternfish at sea, but they are approaching a nearby port in hopes of finding one of two people who can serve as sailing master.

My next flex day is Monday, so I should score some writing time this weekend. After that, it may be two weeks before I can tackle it again.

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Writing on my flex day

It may sound like work, but don’t buy into that. I write for relaxation, and I got plenty in today.

I planned on hitting it hard because I have company coming this weekend. This time, I don’t even regret losing the writing time. Sometimes it’s nice to get out of the house and do something else.

This morning started like every other one. I intended to sleep in, but at 5:00 my bladder reminded me that it was still present. Since the dogs are used to getting up at 4:30 they wanted breakfast. — of to the races.

Coffee and food later, and I did my social media surfing. Everything except for blogs. Those take longer, so I held them for early afternoon.

I opened a new document and started writing. A mysterious ship named the Blackwall sailed into the harbor at Tusconi searching for the owner of the largely abandoned Lanternfish.

It took me some effort to put together the gap in time for my characters and reveal bits about this period of their lives. A big part of it involved moving the pieces around to deal with Bonnie Philson, now Cuttler.

James spent an entire novel rescuing her, and I can’t just abandon her to start this yarn at sea. She also doesn’t fit the mold as a pirate, so it took some effort.

I still haven’t hit all the characters yet, and only mentioned a few of them without any page time. This is a large cast, so I can’t just shove them all in the first chapter. Character soup is something I can’t stand. Besides, in theory someone could start here without reading Voyage of the Lanternfish. They deserve to get walked in.

I ended the day at just shy of 7000 words. That’s a good day for me, and while I have hit higher marks, I haven’t done it many times.

It occurred to me that because of this book, which I am calling HMS Lanternfish, I am currently working on four different books right now.

I received my corny graphics for Viral Blues, and manipulated them into the manuscript. Since this is a sequel to The Hat, I wanted to keep the same style.

I made cover sheets for Serang and Viral Blues last weekend, plus, I have one I’m dabbling with that I haven’t even mentioned in public yet.

The main focus for 2019 has always been subsequent titles. My group convinced me to try series work, so that’s where I’m going. Lanternfish will be a trilogy eventually, with Serang as a supporting tale. Lizzie and The Hat will be an ongoing series that won’t have prerequisite stories before you can enjoy them.

Me, being me, I can’t just give up on stand alone titles. The one I’m dabbling with is a bit of science fiction. I learned I can draft more than one story at a time if they are different enough. Somewhere between Lanternfish and science fiction they ought to be different enough. The advantage is that when the well runs dry on one story, the other one lets me get new words down.

I still have to figure out blog tour posts and get all of that moving. My target is to have Viral Blues out in time for the Halloween season.

Look over yonder, in the sidebar.

If you haven’t picked up Voyage of the Lanternfish, it makes for a great summer book. There will be more coming, so those of you who want to explore more of this world can do that.

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Wednesday writing day

I love my flex schedule. It gives me a day here and there to do some writing. I set my alarm just like a regular work day, then ignored it completely.

The crow woke me up just before six o’clock. I swear that is the loudest crow I’ve ever heard, and he likes to let the world know he’s there at the crack of dawn. Maybe he needs a lesson from my Beeman air rifle. (If you’re reading this Sue, just ignore this part.)

After feeding the dogs and making coffee, I started off by checking email, then read the last section of The Viral Blues.

The characters had a big night fighting off the forces of evil, and the story required a bit of cooling down. Lizzie and Lisa did some girl bonding, then Clovis and Gina helped pump everyone up for the next phase.

Jason Fogg wound up wearing a dress, which didn’t make him too happy, and I’m headed toward the final showdown. I also worked in a mild musical gag, because it makes sense for a Lizzie and the hat kind of story.

I’ve been trying something a little different. When I first started writing, I would put on some classical music. Old What’s Her Face complained about it, so I started writing in silence. I’ve found that almost anything can distract me these days, but I decided to do a bit of a test.

I went to YouTube and turned on some soundtracks. I’ve been bouncing between Last of the Mohicans and Ennio Morricone music. Some of those power chords from Once Upon a Time in the West really do it for me.

I’ve only done this a few other times, using Pirates of the Caribbean music. (For Lanternfish, obviously) Sometimes Wagner from the Excalibur soundtrack.

So far it hasn’t made me more productive. I managed a sum total of 2900 new words today. It doesn’t seem any worse either, so there’s that to consider.

It was a good day, but I’m finished now. I’ll probably dedicate some time to my next Story Empire post. I left it unfinished, but need to keep up on that stuff.

Something odd happened too. In my first Expansion Pack post over at Story Empire, I mentioned Stephen King’s story, Thinner. The film is so old it isn’t available anywhere, but there it was on television late one night. I never use my recorder, but I recorded it. If we get a slow evening around here I’m going to re-watch it.

Back to work tomorrow, but it was a pretty good author’s wednesday.

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