Tag Archives: word metrics

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

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.

40 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

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.

37 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

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.

44 Comments

Filed under Writing

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.

34 Comments

Filed under Writing