Tag Archives: word metrics

Something unexpected

Old What’s Her Face and I drove to Twin Falls to buy our daughter lunch back in August. Before that, the last time I saw her was May.

She came walking through the door last night, completely unexpected. It was about the first time she’s gotten two adjacent days off in all that time. After griping about her car troubles, she settled in and opened her Christmas presents. The auto issue was a simple fix, it seems.

I put a halt to every plan I had mapped out. Family comes first, and she stayed until just before noon this morning. We wound up having a great chat and I loved seeing her.

This ate up all my quality writing time, but I don’t care. I finally bit the bullet, pulled on my headphones and starting writing the aftermath of Mari’s big shootout in the afternoon. Red Dead ambience is great for this story.

My scene involved a big chunk of dialog as Mari went through processing at the local jail. I need to do a bunch more if I’m going to save her from the gallows.

I’m going to try to add that bit tomorrow, but it’s also the day I call my mother. Like I said about my daughter, family first. Even a little bit will move the pegs, and I like what I’m getting down.

Mari needs to go through some soul searching about her ox and her dog. If she’s going to die, she will want to guarantee they are cared for. This next section of the book will be less action, but I want some gut wrenching bits to it. She’s still having her PTSD dreams, and I might get some mileage out of those.

I also have another hard blow planned for Mari, but that will be several chapters down the line.

Word count is way down today and I don’t care. I’ll gladly park a manuscript to spend the day with my daughter. It was like a late Christmas present for me.

14 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

Blood everywhere today

I’ve been writing a little for the last four days. I haven’t really tried to keep a word count for a couple of days, but it’s substantial.

Today, Mari caught up with the people that murdered her entire family, and left her for dead back in the swamp. She’s been through hell getting to this point, so I didn’t spare the details of what it’s like.

There were seven men opposing her, but at least she got to deal with them in chunks. This section is gory, bloody, and painful.

I figure if she could hang in there for this, maybe readers were deserving a payoff, too. There is plenty of blood, shit, and snot to go around in this section.

Part of me is already thinking of toning it down, but I decided to write this post before I did something stupid. Even a month from now, if I figure it’s going to offend someone’s sensibilities I can make a change. No sense ruining it this afternoon.

I ended it with Mari surrendering to the local sheriff and looking forward to her hanging. The other side is where her family is now. I need to keep that mindset for tomorrow’s writing session.

I think it turned out well, but I have other things that need tending. I have some Story Empire posts to schedule, and I need to write out my business plan for next year.

Since slacking off for a couple of weeks we haven’t had a Pinterest board to check out. This is almost like a notebook for me. This one is tough for me to share. I call it The One I May Never Write. It’s been on my mind again, but I need something special to make it one of my stories. Witch doctors come to mind, but it still needs reasoning and thought behind it. Check it out and let me know what you think. https://pin.it/7zOWWN2

19 Comments

Filed under Writing

A little writing

It’s nothing earth shattering, but it all counts. I’ve managed around 5400 words in the last two days. I took this week off, mostly because I deserve it.

We didn’t do much of anything during the holiday other than watch the prequels to Yellowstone. I never had much interest in the main series, but Sam Elliot and Harrison Ford have some draw for me. These were good, and I’ll try to keep up with the Ford/Mirin version as the new episodes drop.

Old What’s Her Face returned to work yesterday, so I cracked open my manuscript. I only have Mari’s swamp story going right now and need another one to balance things out. I decided not to start something else until I finish this one.

Most of those new words came today. I’d stopped at a tough point to get going again, but muscled through it yesterday. Today I had one difficult trial for Mari to get through, but it blossomed into so much more that I had to keep going.

She wound up closing the gap on the men she’s following, but got trapped on a crumbling bridge at night. No food, no water, and no grazing for her animals. The bridge isn’t trustworthy in daylight, so it’s deadly at night.

For whatever reason, she took some injuries and I left her trying to heal up where the animals could drink and feed. I think it turned out to be a pretty decent section.

With holiday leave included, I don’t have to return to the office until next Tuesday. I might even be able to finish Mari’s story, but am not counting on that. This one needs a bigger denouement than some of my others and I’m not going to rush just to get done.

At some point, I’m going to have to do some serious editing. I have the Space Chimp story, one for Lizzie and the hat, and Mari’s story that will need some attention.

This needs to get done, so that will be my task after I finish this draft.

I’m finding some neat things to include using Google Maps. This is a post apocalyptic tale, so ruins of those places can make it into my stories. I had her stop at the Stennis Space Center, but need to flesh it out a bit more.

There is a cool dinosaur park just ahead of her. The kind with a trail that has Dino-statues in the forest. It isn’t a day away from where she is so I might have to miss that one. Her mission won’t allow her to slow down and goof off without a good reason. She would pass it around noon and wouldn’t normally stop. Including it might feel kind of forced. I know of one thing that might work to include it, but need to sleep on that.

I’ll get back to the manhunt tomorrow.

21 Comments

Filed under Writing

Crisis of Confidence

I never got to write at all last weekend. We never had a drop of rain from May to October, and when we finally did, the skylights decided to leak.

This led to getting on a contractor’s list, and waiting our turn. The house is over twenty years old, so we decided to replace the roof and skylights rather than make repairs. It was time.

They started last Friday and had about six guys on the job. Two elected to work Saturday, but didn’t finish. It snowed Sunday, and that killed Monday. I had to take Tuesday off, because they needed inside. Somehow they’d lost one of the roof vents. I get it, they removed the part, slung the underlayment and lost track of it. That all got sorted out and the job was finished on Wednesday.

It snowed again Thursday, so I’m grateful, and the roof looks awesome.

I managed to add somewhere around a thousand words to my WIP, but my mind has other things going on.

I tried to fill this with a bit of storyboarding. I have one idea that’s going to require magic and artifacts and putting them in the right order to make a discovery. A storyboard is needed. My brain is still focused elsewhere.

I’m going to write about it here. Maybe it will get some of these thoughts out of my head. Maybe it will help me reach some conclusions.

I typically do a yearly wrap up post, followed by a new year business plan. It’s time to be thinking about this, but my thoughts aren’t good.

Both of my 2022 publications performed dismally. Reviews seem to be down, too, and I’m trying to draw some conclusions. Add a few of what I call drive-by one-star ratings, and I may never sell another copy again. You know the types, they never bought the book, never read it, but drop a one-star rating, because it amuses them. Amazon is so picky about reviews, and heaven help you if a family member gives you one, but some random stranger who never read the story gets to destroy your rating and they leave that up.

It’s hard to draw conclusions here. I was getting a majority of five-star reviews three years ago, but not now. I’ve either gotten worse at this, or I’ve worn out my welcome. Don’t know how else to take this.

It’s possible that people are sick of Lizzie and the hat. There are millions of choices out there, so I understand.

I listened to my first dramatic podcast recently. Something to fill the commute time with. It was pretty bad with pregnant pauses and poor dialog, but the story was so compelling I’m going to listen to season two next. Tells me that small foibles aren’t enough to put someone off. There’s also a book, but I wasn’t going to pay $16 for an ebook. Price does matter at some arbitrary point.

Giving up isn’t an option for me. I love writing and will always do it. Publishing, on the other hand could be on the chopping block. I already feel like most of my readers are there because of me and not any deep interest in the story or my creativity. My readers mean a lot to me.

I also need to assess my membership at Story Empire. I’m the guy who watches the stats and most of my posts perform well. I struggle to come up with fresh content over there, and now I’m wondering why anyone would pay attention to a guy who can’t get his own books out of the cellar.

I’ve known many an old timer who makes beautiful things, but really doesn’t have a place for them. Old men still whittle, and grannies keep knitting afghans, even though they’ll never wind up at Christie’s Auction house or in the Louvre.

Going wide, and trying to make everything free has limited merit. Amazon is still where all the action is, and Kindle Unlimited is only available if the work is exclusive, so I’m torn on this.

Blog tours used to be my bread and butter, but those failed, too. I know why, and it’s hard to change. It’s complicated. I sold more books by announcing the publication here, than I sold on the subsequent tours. Maybe I’ll blog about new publications, then forget about them. Birds and turtles leave the nest and are on their own. More turtles hatch in a year than I can publish books, though.

The financial difference between selling 500 copies and 5 copies is negligible. Neither situation is going to pay for a week of groceries.

If I stop doing a lot of promo, I don’t really need Lisa Burton anymore. I love commissioning her art, but it was all for promo purposes. That offers some savings, and it matters. She’d probably look good in post apocalyptic armor, or floating around at zero-G with Percy the space chimp, but to what end?

We’re in a phase of getting everything ready to start living on a fixed income. There are a few years left, but that promo money could be directed to paying things off, and doing deferred maintenance on our house.

I need to figure out what I’m going to do moving forward. While it would be nice for my year end posts, that’s not an absolute requirement either.

I’ve been sharing Pinterest boards and people seem to be enjoying them. This one is about promotion, but it’s not my promotion. I call this one Friend’s Books. Check it out https://pin.it/QrAhbO1

54 Comments

Filed under Writing

My new normal

I started kind of late today. I wanted to write and had a fun scene in mind. It required me to have Mari do something nice for a kid, then make it dark and dismal right after.

I’ve probably been under a rock somewhere, but recently saw the term PTSD dreams. These sound kind of like what Mari is going through, but I won’t use that term in the story. If I don’t have it absolutely right, I could inadvertently offend someone going through this issue.

Mari will continue to have her dreams, but I’m not putting a name on them. This time it got weirder than they have previously, and her dead son made an appearance.

I’ve put her in a strange position of discovering some good in the world, but getting sucked down by her own past at the same time.

Her life now involves one gigantic ox, who she doesn’t exactly love, but has grown to respect. There’s also a coonhound pup at that gangly stage where she’s all legs and enthusiasm, and Mari loves her dearly.

I need to milk this for some emotion between her own suicidal quest and concern for her animals after she’s gone. Must remember to do that.

As far as the word metrics go, it came to 2000 words today. That sounds wonderful until you realize it’s also 2000 words for the week.

I no longer have a flex day I can dedicate to writing, so this is my new normal. Things will slow down, but I can still push out something every year.

My Pinterest boards have been getting some wonderful comments, so I’m going to keep sharing them. Today, I’m going to share one that is a subset of locations. I call it “Decay.” https://pin.it/E5d3QUa

34 Comments

Filed under Writing

Pecking away at the keyboard.

It seems like progress in the writing game just involves planting yourself before the keyboard and chipping away at the outline; written or mental. That’s how I approached my day.

Once Upon a Time in the Swamp is as much about the post apocalyptic world as anything else. I’ve had some fairly grim sequences, and decided to make this stretch a little happier.

Mari came to a city that seems to have accepted their world, and life is much nicer here than anyplace she’s been so far. She’s been in a dark place, and this will give her something to think about as she continues her travels and the hunt for those who killed her loved ones.

She might even have fleeting thoughts about what might happen after her quest ends. This section was kind of a nice respite, but I won’t let her make too many long term plans. Her quest is a life or death kind of thing, so she’ll turn dark again fairly soon. This usually happens when she’s alone once more.

I chose a place called Spanish Fort, Alabama for the town that’s moved on from the historical disasters. Mobile won’t be quite as nice after she leaves.

I’m at around 47,000 words now, and added about 2500 today. Might even get a few more tomorrow.

Old What’s Her Face has to work tomorrow, and we had a nice breakfast before I sequestered myself away. Not exactly date night, but it was great.

It’s time to think about what I need as I approach that arbitrary 80,000 word target. We can learn more about the world, but she needs another fresh clue about the men she’s chasing. Eventually, she has to catch up to them, and this story is going to require a longer denouement phase. I don’t have a hard plan for the number of words, but it’s on my mind now.

I’ve been sharing Pinterest boards and have gotten some good comments about them. These were all made at ten minutes per night over a long period of time. I don’t use the app like everyone else. My boards are all writing related, and are more like a visual notebook or inspiration board. This one is called Magical Gadgets, Mad Science. https://pin.it/3peGbLC

Let me know what you think. Almost anything can be a magical gadget, but it’s nice to have a reference and that’s what I’m building. Is there something here that might fit into one of your stories?

41 Comments

Filed under Writing

Distractions

I looked up from the roll-top desk in my paranormal office and sighed.

Lisa Burton, my robot personal assistant was lounged out on the couch. “What’s the matter?”

“I added fourteen-hundred words today and it looks like Lizzie’s story is going to come up a little short. I still have to add her big tantrum at the end, but the President and the courts are messing with me over that. I have no idea how student debt is going to play out.”

“Then make it up. You have the basis in fact that you’re always harping about.”

“I know, but I’m not completely in the swing again.”

“These are supposed to be short novels. They seem to be character driven, so you know, drive that.”

“I am. I keep thinking up junk for a story about three books down the line and just need to focus.”

“I’ve been your PA for enough years to know how it works. Just let it happen. You have a brand new book on the shelves and you can wrap this one up later. Go back to Mari’s story for a while.”

“I need to do that, too. There’s just this missing piece for the future storyboard I can’t quite get a grip on.”

“Maybe we can help.”

I snapped around so fast I nearly fell over.

                                                             Research Sirens

“I don’t have time for your antics right now.”

“Actually, you have nothing but time.” Libraria, the leggy blonde, took her time slowly leaning over the coffee table to put her books down.

Conversia slid into my easy chair, stretching her legs out full length of my ottoman. “Tell us about the problem. I’m sure you’re due for a break. Sounds like a decent word count already.

I wheeled my chair over. “I really want to write this Asian afterlife tale into the Hat Series, but there are some problems. I want to respect the differences between Japanese, Chinese, and other cultures, but I also kind of want a bit of all of them. If I explain that the afterlife has everyone all together, maybe I can get away with it.”

“What’s the story about?” Wiki turned her iPad mini my direction. “I can look some things up for you.”

“It’s the Chinese version of Armageddon. I’ve already discovered the lore from it. I want to steal some from Journey to the West and made some notes there.”

“I have a complete, unabridged version.” Libraria tapped one of her books. “What seems to be the problem?”

“I also have a ghostly character who is Yakuza. That’s Japanese. Lizzie fights monsters, so I’ve been looking into Japanese monsters. Some Asian things are scary as hell, like the one whose head leaves it’s body at night and flies around with its entails trailing after it. All of them are big on demons, too, so I need to consider some of that. I also don’t want the same old thing for Lizzie to deal with and have other characters to consider.”

“I think you should take a tour of Asia,” Conversia said. “Just the Pacific coast. Talk to some of these people. I think you’ll find a lot already blends together, despite the source. There are a lot of variations as well, so you can meld and merge to your heart’s content.”

“You’ve been trying this for years. I’m not going on an extended trip with you.”

“We could make it fun.” Libraria practically sang the last word.

“Stop that. I’ve already pushed it back and another year isn’t going to kill me now. I have two books before that one. I just have to figure out how to—.”

“Why’d you push it back?” Wiki asked.

“Because I came up with another cool character, and it would be perfect to use him. His intro is in a different book, so it has to come first. Then I have to figure out how to write a musical competition show and not have one of the judges come across like Simon Cowell. It’s a chance for Lizzie’s band to climb out of the doldrums a bit.”

Wiki flipped her iPad around to display a creepy picture. “Jiangshi.”

“Gesundheit.”

“Not that. Jiangshi is also known as the hopping vampire. He hops because of rigor mortise, and sucks souls instead of blood. Some legends have it as more of a zombie. Lots of variables, so you can put your own spin on it. Cool stuff with vinegar, yellow paper, and something called Joss paper. He’s afraid of a rooster’s crow. Maybe she can fight these things.”

“My cool new character is actually a rooster. I can work with this.”

Libraria selected one of her tomes and started flipping through it. Stopping at Joss paper.

Conversia said, “Maybe I can set up a Zoom meeting with an actual Shaman for you. Do you speak Cantonese?”

Lisa stood up. “I’ll put on the coffee. I can tell where this afternoon is going.”

 

29 Comments

Filed under Writing

An author report

I started pretty early today. Otto’s stomach doesn’t understand the big time change yet, and I was okay with that.

I added 1300 words to Once Upon a Time in the Swamp. Mari dug up a grave and gathered a bit of a clue about her self-appointed mission. Because it’s post apocalyptic, I also had her discover an abandoned mine field. Milked that baby for a bit of tension.

Then I switched over to Goodbye Old Paint, and added 1450 words to that project. Lizzie has finished saving the world, but I still have two threads I want to spend some time with. She made a couple of new friends in this one and I think they’re going to hang out a bit. I don’t think it will be boring at all, but readers will have to decide that one day.

Feels good to be writing once more. It truly is the part I enjoy most, and it was a fairly productive day.

Big Apple update last night. Some of the apps have a little weirdness to them today. I might have to edit my link after I post this.

My Pinterest board got some good reactions, so I’m going to share a few more of them. I tend to give it ten to twenty minutes a day and save things I like. The bigger ones took years to grow that large. This one isn’t as big, but it’s useful. Most of them are about writing. I’ll run one out today that isn’t about promotion.

Sometimes you just need a certain kind of character for a story. Enjoy. https://pin.it/6LyizaN

20 Comments

Filed under Writing

Vacation day four: New words and new problems

Technically, this is the last day of my vacation. Everything remaining is the weekend. They’re still leisure days, so who cares about technicalities.

I wanted to get some kind of word count out of the deal, and am satisfied with how things went. Mari left her last mentor and headed into the wilderness once more.

She wound up in a new town and used her newfound sense of smell to some advantage. I made it kind of embarrassing, because she had to sniff the abandoned saddles of the killers she’s after.

All told it came to most of a chapter. I’d like for her to spend more time here, but she’s probably discovered everything she’s going to and needs to move on.

President Biden posed a new problem for me. In “Old Paint,” Lizzie is manipulated into helping a secret branch of the FBI with a paranormal problem. I’ve posted about this before. However, the leverage was her unpaid student loans.

Part of my story is based upon an earlier era, where they used to seize assets to pay the loans down. Most typically a car. It’s fiction, and really happened, so I’m content here.

Biden threw me a curve by forgiving student debt, but I can work with it. First, Lizzie’s debt exceeds any forgiveness being offered. (Spoiler) Since Lizzie takes a lot of her hits from everyday life, I decided to add the debt forgiveness to the story at the end. Meaning, she does all this work to pay her debt, then after she finishes, the President forgives it all anyway. It really feels like something that fits into Lizzie’s journey.

What I don’t like is having this put a timeline on the series. I don’t want to release this book until early next year, and will stick to my guns. I kind of like reflecting some current events in these stories, like the various conspiracy theories that get into Night Bump Radio.

I’d rather not have been so spot-on, but really don’t have a choice. I can ignore the reality and forge ahead, or include it. I’m choosing to include it. I need a few more words for that story, and if Lizzie has a big tantrum it might even help.

On a side note, my Story Empire friends and I had a laugh about things I dream up coming true. I’m the guy who published Viral Blues two months before an actual global pandemic. The latest jab was the death of the weather witch in Good Liniment. Seems like the weather has gone to crap since then.

After the student loan thing, maybe I should write about the cure to cancer, or Covid. I really wish the grid from Grinders would come true, but it seems I don’t have control over that.

37 Comments

Filed under Writing

Vacation day one: Author problems

I worked on Lizzie and the hat this morning, and am struggling with a few different things. This usually means it’s time to jump stories.

As I take this series further, I’m getting great mileage out of expanding the supernatural world around Lizzie St. Laurent. If you’ve followed the series, Good Liniment is a prime example. The witches coven is fertile ground to spawn new tales.

I’ve done some of that, but don’t want it to become a theme. I never want to feel like I’m dialing it in because I have access to more powerful characters to help Lizzie in her efforts.

My intent is for Goodbye Old Paint to be more light-hearted and geared more toward the humor side. Past tales did this with a scoop of graphic violence, but this one doesn’t really need that.

I finished my chapter this morning, and the monsters behind the story have all been dealt with. Problem is that I’m at just over 30,000 words. I want all these to come in at slightly over 40K. That’s one hell of a denouement.

I added a section about Night Bump Radio and that always seems to fit into these stories. What’s left is returning some of the blackmail to the government agents who forced Lizzie into this project, a gig with her band, then a girls night with her new besties. (Two witches)

At the outside, I could include an epilog about the government domestic spying. Kind of like horror films always show you the real monster still exists.

Including any or all of these things feels right, but I don’t know if there’s 10,000 words there.

Part of the fun of writing an ongoing series is all the new ideas. I came up with a cool character that’s going to force me to dive into philosophy, and a monster that’s kind of gruesome and unique. Fortunately, I have years to think about them and find a plot for them.

I’ll have to figure out how, with my monster killing the homeless people and leaving no evidence behind, how is Lizzie ever going to get on the trail in the first place. Right now my options are Detective Joe Yoder, or Kevin the vampire. Maybe something else will come to me in the next year.

I need to figure out my new unaffiliated witch/circus midget/former philosophy professor and what kind of monster Lizzie will be chasing to lead her to his door. Then it’s all going to lead to a bipolar talking toilet, because it is one of those stories.

I’ve started cheat sheets for both characters so I don’t forget anything.

It really does feel like time to switch back to Mari’s story in the swamp. Maybe something will pop into my head while I’m being more serious.

29 Comments

Filed under Writing