Tag Archives: word metrics

Happy with my output

Sundays are usually wasted days for me. As an example, I always call my parents on Sundays. We chat for about an hour, and I won’t sacrifice this time for anything.

Old What’s Her Face is also off today, so that means distractions and noise. She’s had the Harry Potter marathon on since last night and it started again first thing this morning. As much as I love these films, I’ve seen them hundreds of times and wanted something else.

I decided to go into another room and pick at my WIP. I also tried an experiment with dubious results. I’ll experiment a bit more, then it could lead to a post for Story Empire one day. It involves ambient noise while I write.

It started off with me monkeying with Alexa one day. There wasn’t a lot of choice there, but Staci Troilo set me up with an amazing site. I tried it today, but the noise goes off as soon as my phone darkens. This led me to YouTube, and that was more functional. The trick is to pick something and not get caught up surfing for several hours.

I settled upon two different “songs” for lack of a better term. One involved a peaceful meadow, the other was designed for inside a tomb.

The meadow is where I started writing, and I like what I came up with. Serang found the ruined city as planned in my storyboard. She uncovered the secrets I plotted out, but how she went about it was magical.

She’s discovered the lost temple of the Cartomancers. The one that was burned in the history of a previous war. This gives me a great tie back to the original Lanternfish book, and it works because we’re back on the original continent.

It turns out there is still one hidden storeroom that was not destroyed in the first war. Serang uncovered this by playing her flute. She noticed that a semi-circle of standing stones were placed in exactly the same configuration as the holes on her flute.

Musical stones are a real thing, so mine work as a kind of lithophone when someone grinds on them. This lithophone required multiple people, but it opened a hidden door to a small treasure trove of the intellectual variety.

It gives me a great tie back to Mule, his parents, and even the goblins who used to live in these lands. I’ll be circling back to this in the denouement phase of the story.

I also spent extra time to detail this area. This is a special place and so I added some fantasy creatures and details to make that apparent. I created linen birds, a ribbon bird, and even a clown spider. The spider also took Serang back to her youth when orchid mantises were fascinating to young monks. (Orchid mantises are also real.)

It only came to 2500 words, but I really like them. I need to go over it several times, but at least they exist. Wreck of the Lanternfish is about 32,000 words right now. I mention this, because it needs a big denouement. Both James and Serang have a couple of gigantic things to accomplish and I’m getting closer to those. My married cons have one big one to pull off, but it isn’t on par with the others. (Important to the story, though.)

I should probably wrap the war up somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 words. That will give me plenty of room to change the world and give everyone’s favorites a conclusion of some kind.

I’m sorely tempted to go back in my cave and write more, but I’m off tomorrow. I’ll start my day by going over what I just produced. There is an opportunity to drag out the discovery and that could be helpful. Best to look with fresh eyes.

28 Comments

Filed under Writing

A good day for writing

I didn’t get to the writing cabin very early. I allowed myself to sleep in, took my time tending the dogs, then browsed through a bunch of sites.

By the time I got there, Lisa had already set everything up for me in the paranormal office. She wore one of her favorite bandage dresses with a cherry pattern and red heels.

“What’s all this?” I asked.

“It’s your first real writing day in weeks. I put the coffee in a thermos beside your desk, and disabled the WiFi in here so you won’t get distracted.“

“I won’t get distracted.”

“I know. There’s no WiFi. I’ll turn it back on so you can save to the cloud when you’re finished. Now see if you can help that poor girl find the killer.” She left to take care of other duties.

I read back over my last chapter, made a few corrections, then forged ahead. It felt like a slog, because everything is starting to come together. There were a couple of times I had to go back and adjust the plants that were starting to pay off in the story.

My detective character still can’t remember his encounter with Lizzie and the hat. His wife’s spirit talked him into asking his father for help, but that happened off the page. I spent some time with him going over the six silver bullets his father provided him, and kind of like the way that scene came out.

Because of this POV character, I’m using more section breaks now. As the story comes to an end that always seems to be the case.

Meanwhile, Lizzie finished blinging up her pawn shop jacket and earned some new snow tires, because it’s the little things that count. She also spent the evening with one of her bosses at the diner. When chasing a monster that only shows up a few days per month, she also tends to get a little grouchy.

I enjoyed her evening with Dave at the diner, and it’s a nice reminder that she had friends before the hat upended her life. The diner was quiet, it was a major snowstorm, and a killer is stalking their streets. Makes the dinner shift kind of slow. I’m not totally out of my mind, because right after they locked up, Lizzie went monster hunting on the first night of the full moon.

Because of the blizzard, their night was mostly a stakeout. They spent some time listening to the idiots who call in to Night Bump Radio, then checked what appears to be a favorite travel path of the monster. They just reached the drainage when the sound of distant gunfire pulled them into action.

That’s where I stopped for the day. While it felt kind of laborious, I’m happy with the scenes. I was surprised when my word count came in at 3000 words, because it felt like about half that.

Sundays usually make for lousy writing days. I need to put something together for Story Empire so I’ll dedicate my time to that. I have a couple of things roughed out, but I need to find some graphics. I know posts always do better with graphics, but rarely use them here.

I’m calling it a win. I got some words down, and actually like what happened. Tomorrow I’ll get my next SE post scheduled.

23 Comments

Filed under Writing

A Banner Day for me

I knew company was coming this weekend and really wanted to get some things done before they arrived. They’re here now, but I made the most of this morning.

I have dual points of view in this story. Obviously, Lizzie is getting the bulk of screen time, but there is a detective, Joe Yoder, who is chasing what he thinks is a murderer. He’s kind of cool, because he communicates with his dead wife during the story. Neither Joe, nor his wife, have any paranormal abilities.

The day started out with Lizzie staking out the monster, but did not work out according to plan. As the victims pile up, she and my cop wound up on the same lonely street.

It wound up not being a great moment for him, but he’s chasing something he cannot understand. This is clearly Lizzie’s territory. She’s kind of soft hearted and doesn’t want him to get killed while trying to do his job. This led to a conflict that involved some of the hat’s special powers.

What I liked is that Joe also has a supernatural father. I’ve known this since before I started drafting this one. Joe plays a prominent role in this story, but he started off in my imagination as the herald to the next story which will heavily feature his father.

I used this section to discuss the secret between Joe and his dead wife. That way, readers get a clue, but Lizzie and the hat do not. The next book is going to dive deeper into the witchcraft community, and Joe’s dad will be a big part of that.

Joe got a lot of depth from this, because he blames his father for letting his wife die. He’s wrong, and I’ll have to weave in some kind of minimal reconciliation.

The trick is going to be keeping these as stand-alone stories in the series. Right now, I don’t think readers have to read Lunar Boogie in order to understand Good Liniment. My critique partners will help me on this point.

It was a banner day for me. I didn’t hit 5000 words, but I broke 4900 before I ran out of gas. I’m pretty happy with what I produced.

The weekend is for enjoying my company. I might get another writing day on Monday.

42 Comments

Filed under Writing

Did what I could today

Sundays are never good writing days for me. This is the day I call my parents, and that usually eats up a considerable part of the morning. The other bookend is when Old What’s Her Face gets home from work.

Since I just saw my parents, and they’re coming tomorrow to get the repairs finished, our conversation was short. What to do? What to do?

I cracked open the Lanternfish MS, read the two previous chapters, then started writing. James and crew are on the open ocean once more and headed for war. Piracy is a distant memory for now.

I even managed a good section with root monster antics. Today’s effort only came to 1500 words, but I like what I accomplished. Chapters have to bounce between characters since some of them are in other places right now. I feel like it was a productive day.

I also addressed the Lanternfish critiques I’ve been parked on. This chapter was about my married cons, and the game they’re working. My experts seemed to like it, but I made plenty of boneheaded mistakes to address.

I also wrote my next post for Story Empire. I’ll get it scheduled sometime this afternoon.

While none of it seems outstanding by itself, when you tally it all up, I had a pretty good writing day. I was due, and feel good about how the weekend shaped up.

Hope all of you had wonderful weekends, too.

27 Comments

Filed under Writing

Got a bit more accomplished

I arrived at the writing cabin in the pre-dawn hour.

Lisa let me in, and she was already in her seasonal outfit. Today she was a gingerbread girl complete with some kind of white piping sewn around the hem of her miniskirt. Candy cane striped thigh-high stockings ended just shy of her dress. “Wow! Two days in a row? It’s almost like old times.”

“Almost. I have to cut it short today, but don’t want to squander the hours I have.”

“Then you’d better get started.” She got behind me and pushed me toward the writing office.

I intended to get the ship underway, but still had a couple of loose ends to wrap up in Tusconi. I took care of those and managed to make sail before I stopped.

It only came to about 800 words today, but like I noted, there were limited hours available. The good news is that Lanternfish is finally underway.

Lisa looked over my shoulder. “I think it’s good stuff. A tearful departure and a thought toward loved ones.” She placed a little square gingerbread robot on the table before me. “Don’t run away. I baked these myself from a recipe on the Internet.”

I took a hesitant bite. “Mmm. These are good.”

“Whew! I’ve never tried anything like this before.”

“Why a robot?”

“Because robots are underrepresented in the Christmas lore. We’re starting a new tradition here. If my sculpting skills were better I would have tried some robot girls, like me.”

“Well, I think they’re delicious. You can work on it, and I’ll come back tomorrow. No writing, just a Christmas visit.”

“And my Christmas bonus? These gingerbread shoes aren’t cheap, you know?”

“Yeah. I’ll bring that, too.”

27 Comments

Filed under Muse, Writing

Back in action

I got to the writing cabin fairly early this morning. Lisa Burton met me at the door wearing a green and white mini-dress with matching elf cap. “What are you doing here?”

“I work here from time to time, remember?”

“I though you were getting a refrigerator delivered today.”

“That’s tomorrow. Rather than squander a whole weekend, I decided I’d better accomplish something today.”

“And which project is it going to be?”

“Huh? Don’t worry about changing clothes. I like the festive look.”

“Oh, good. I was just about to use the hot glue gun to put tiny bells on these pumps.” She held up a pair of metallic green heels.

“Sounds like a plan. I’m going to launch Lanternfish if it’s the last thing I do.”

“Okay. I have to make your coffee, then I’ll bring you a cup. You might hear me jingling as I come down the hall.”

“I hope so. 2020 has been kind of a gloomy year and any little bit of cheer is welcome.” I marched to the writing office and could see my breath in the air. Lisa had already provided kindling and wood, so I made a fire in the fireplace before I got started.

I opened my chapter by sliding Lanternfish from dry dock into the water. It takes some time to outfit a ship this size and I needed to respect that. I used the time to define some relationships, mostly between James and Bonnie. They are always parted on these journeys, and that’s pretty realistic for the era. I decided to spend some time with them as a couple.

I also spent some time reintroducing a few other characters. The overall trilogy seems to have a cast of thousands, and I can’t expect readers to remember all of them. Since it’s still early, a line or two seems more helpful than not.

Lisa jangled into my office with coffee. Somewhere along the line she’d managed to accessorize with an enameled bracelet and necklace of holly leaves and berries.

“Where’d you get those?” I pointed to her wrist.

“Cute, huh? I found them on EBay for a steal. As a bonus, Bunny likes to chew up the boxes.”

“You’re a little tall for an elf, but your heart’s in the right place.”

She leaned in close. “I don’t have a heart. There is a hydroponic layer to keep my skin healthy.”

“I know that. It’s a figure of speech. Means you have the right spirit.”

“Thanks. You type away. I’m going to go do my nails. There are boards of Christmas nails all over Pinterest.”

“Have a good time.”

I pecked away at my project, and ended at 3200 words for the day. I like this chapter, but there’s nary a cannonade in sight. Plenty of time for fantasy sea monsters and naval warfare after they leave the harbor.

I also like the way that Serang has been up to her neck in warfare in the preceding chapters. I think it adds a sense of urgency that readers can pick up on, even though the Lanternfish crew has no idea.

Tonight is all about packing all our food into the tiny freezer and a group of old coolers. Hopefully, getting the new one delivered and installed won’t be an all day affair, but my experience with such things hasn’t been good. If this is all I manage to write, so be it.

In other news, I worked through all my critiques for the other story. My group really didn’t like my title, so I changed it. The book about Lizzie and the hat is now called Lunar Boogie. Probably jump to that one next go round.

26 Comments

Filed under Muse, Writing

Slower Going Today

I’ve been left to my own devices this weekend. Old What’s Her Face had a trip planned to Nevada, but her Covid diagnosis put that off. She went back to work and rescheduled her trip this weekend.

That leaves me and the bulldogs, who are feeling pretty needy. I didn’t do anything last night, because it was Mandalorian night. I’m loving the story, but hating the cliff-hanger.

I needed to jump back to Lanternfish, since it’s falling behind the other book. I’m struggling to get my cons enough page time. I finally decided on a path, then pushed ahead.

The Palumbos might just have to get shorter chapters. I like to keep things about the same length, but their sections don’t involve cannonades and sword fights. They put on their shows and try to influence the outcomes. After that, I don’t want them standing around for the sake of page time.

After their short chapter, I returned to Tusconi and launched the refurbished Lanternfish. I may have to make a bigger deal of it and need time to think. Right now, the main characters watched it all from a carriage on a hilltop. They are trying to keep a few secrets, so I didn’t want the queen to break a bottle over the prow, since she’s the big secret.

I’m debating what to do with Mr. McCormack. He’s a quartermaster’s mate, but Fala is the real quartermaster. He also has a girlfriend in Tusconi, and they’ve been making plans. Taking him or leaving him would be realistic, but I’ll probably take him along.

I mention this, because Lanternfish has a lot of characters. Giving them all page time could water down the story to a degree. Most of them are supporting characters, but we assume they’re rigging sails, preparing meals, or swabbing decks somewhere.

This is why I stopped where I did. Dan and Fala are married, but will both make the voyage. Mule and Yoshiko are solidly together and will make the voyage. James will leave his wife behind. I might be able to do some contrasting things about the risk or benefit of leaving your loved one behind or bringing her along. Maybe – maybe not. I need to think about it.

In a way, this book is like writing multiple books all on its own. I have Serang’s story, the Palumbo’s story, and the Lanternfish story. That won’t last, and will come together at the end. Right now, I need to move the Lanternfish part ahead and it should get a larger portion of the pages. If I have to assign page time it would be Lanternfish >Serang>the Palumbos.

Word count wasn’t great, but I still have 1600 words I didn’t have last night. I have some fun stuff planned for the root monsters after they get underway. James will also have to try out the improvements to the ship which could be fun.

For now, it’s probably time to shift back to Lizzie and the hat. They have their own issues, because any clue gathering they get only comes once per month. I nearly have that worked out in my mind. It’s about time for the December full moon.

26 Comments

Filed under Writing

Not much to report, but I’ll do my best

I planned to write this weekend, but Covid changed that for me. Old What’s Her Face was scheduled to work, but that didn’t happen. Oddly enough, it sounds like they want her back for her Thanksgiving shift. It appears you either get better in ten days or you die. We kind of hoped she would at least get the holiday off.

I had to make a trip to the office to drop off projects and pick up new ones. No idea how long my work will make me quarantine, but I tested negative and have zero symptoms. I’ll figure it all out in the coming week.

I even stopped on the way home to do the shopping. I knocked it out of the park. Years ago, I did the shopping, but that’s been a long time. You kind of instinctively know what you’re running low on, like laundry soap. Thank God for lists.

As far as writing, it was catch as catch can. I never really got specific times for my projects. I added a line here and there, and jumped between books to a degree.

I wrote another action scene for Serang, but stopped before the wrap up. She still needs to assess the battle and the location of specific things near her before moving her army.

Lizzie and the hat are also proving difficult. Lizzie hasn’t figured out there is a monster in their midst, and my old cop character is having no luck with his murder investigation. I wound up writing the next murder discovery, but forgot that Lizzie and the Pythons had to play a gig before the event.

I’ve never done this before, so I blame having too much on my mind. I’ll have to back up and add that event. The danger here is overkill. This was a two night gig, and this will be the second night. I need to spread some suspicions more than have the band rock out. Don’t quite know how I’m going to pull that off, but I need to minimize it since readers attended the Friday night show.

I’ve spent a lot of time counting calendar dates and comparing them to the lunar cycle. I don’t need a specific year when I do this. I hope the stories aren’t that limited in scope and have some longevity. I learned that the last possible day Thanksgiving can happen is November 28th. If the full moon occurs the weekend after (Because of gig schedules on weekends) this would be a blue moon.

This means my next full moon would be December 29th. Between the gig I need to back up and write and the December date, the cop should be chasing a possible killer and Lizzie should be chasing a monster. (No idea if that’s a weekend or not, but I almost hope not. Lizzie and the hat will need some freedom to hunt that night.

I picked this setting for a couple of reasons. First, all of the Hat stories seem to wrap up around Halloween and I want to break the mold a little. Second, blood on snow makes for a good visual. It stays red and doesn’t dry brown like blood on leaves. It also has to be washed away, leaving an ice slick, or loaded and carted off. With multiple victims, I can do both.

I may try to hack out a couple of paragraphs to repair my story this evening. Drives me nuts to have something in a state of disrepair like that.

The scorecard:

  • Wreck of the Lanternfish = 12,571 words
  • Just Plane Wered = 9098 words

34 Comments

Filed under Writing

Writing along

I looked up from my desk at the writing cabin and decided to call it a day.

Lisa Burton walked into the office in full pirate regalia. “How did it work out? Did you have a good day?”

“It really was. 2700 words I didn’t have before. Add that to the 2000 from Wednesday and things are cooking along.”

“There’s a little coffee left before you leave. Do you want it?”

“Sure. I got through my con men on Wednesday and closed the loop on three concurrent stories. Everyone is on the page now. Today, James did what he had to as far as completing the repairs on Lanternfish. She’ll be ready to launch soon.”

“Don’t you think I’d look great in period costume breaking a magnum of champagne over her prow?”

“I’m sure you would.”

“Maybe you should write that one down.”

“It’s early in the story. There could be better things coming.”

“Then you don’t have to use it, but if you write it down you won’t forget.”

“You’re a computer. You remember for me.”

“You can bet I will. So, did the queen go along with James’s scheme?”

“Shh, that’s a spoiler. You can check out the draft later.”

“What are you planning tomorrow?”

“Don’t know. Serang still has some war to wage, but she ought to gather some clues along the way. I need her to discover some old secrets, too. I might wing some of that, or take a little time to think it through.”

“You mean you’d just waste a day to think?”

“Sure. This whole country could use more thinking before writing.”

Lisa smirked. “Uh huh?”

“If it doesn’t want to come together, I can always revisit Lizzie and the hat.”

“I kind of hate it when you do this to me. I never know how to dress for the day. Am I wearing cute performance outfits or being a pirate girl?”

“How about badass monster hunter outfits?”

“I know your style. It’s too soon for those, After about ten chapters you’ll get to them. So how should I dress tomorrow?”

“I don’t know. I have to go where the Muse leads me.”

“Fine. I’m going to put on some jeans and cowboy boots, add a Smithereens tee-shirt and fashion beret, then pull the Waltus armor on over the top. Maybe I’ll even buckle on a cutlass for good measure.”

“Do it and I’ll post a picture on my blog.”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“Of course I would.” I pointed to my head. “You don’t understand how this brain works.”

“From what I can tell, your processor runs on coffee, pumpkin beer, cheese, and crackers.”

“Actually, that’s pretty accurate. All I can tell you is that I intend to write tomorrow. If it’s Lanternfish, it’s Serang’s turn again. If not, then I’ll start the next Hat book.”

“Maybe I’ll just wear one of my polka dot dresses and some nice heels. Those make me happy.”

“There you go. I like those, too.”

“Enough to write me into another book?”

“Probably, but I’m not going to. You got a story just last year. I’m going to try revisiting Serang and see how that goes. That’s as much commitment as I can give you.”

“I’ll take it.”

“So, do we have some cheese and crackers?”

Yeah. And some dry salami. I’ll get you set up.”

23 Comments

Filed under Muse, Writing

Might as well keep it going…

Since Old What’s Her Face is working today, I really didn’t have a good excuse not to write. I already uncorked this genie, so why not?

The final book in the Lanternfish trilogy almost has to be told in three parts that will merge eventually. I’ve written books like this before, so I’m used to the idea.

Yesterday, I started with Captain James and his goings on in trying to make Lanternfish seaworthy once more. It made for a neat start and included a lot of personal stress for him.

Meanwhile, a continent away, Serang and her army are in the war already. It was time to write some of that. I don’t know about you guys, but action scenes always slow me down. It doesn’t seem like that should be the case, but it is for me. They’re also where I usually need the most help from my critique partners. I’ll go over it a dozen times before I let them see it.

Serang managed to get herself blown up. Martial arts and steel are great against some enemies, but not others. It was also a nice way to remind my readers of the exploding monks and Fulminite order.

This led to a recovery scene, and the story needed one after all that. Time for a little recon and planning.

My next section has to be the cons, Camila and Diego Palumbo. I’m a little nervous about their sections. I need to keep them tense and interesting, and trickle out bits of the main story. It’s a bit different than relying on root monsters or martial arts to carry these sections.

I’m committed and maybe I’ll learn some new tricks about holding things back and keeping it interesting all at the same time.

The story has a title and has had for several months. I’m almost loathe to share it before publication, but what the hell. I’m calling it “Wreck of the Lanternfish.” It’s going to be pertinent to the main story, and I can’t imagine calling it anything else. It also might not be quite what you think.

Because today involved an action scene I only hit 2500 words. That’s still a pretty good day in my book. Chapter two isn’t too soon for explosive action, is it?

47 Comments

Filed under Writing