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Working away here

I intended to update last night, but with a great new review I felt like that served me better. Actually, I got three new reviews over the weekend, but Robbie blogged about it and that means a lot to me. (Thanks, Robbie.)

Over the course of the last two days, I’ve managed about 5000 new words on my project. My characters made it to their destination city and are researching their options. In the mean time, another assassin is lurking about. There is a bit of small monster mayhem going on too. My main character, James, has been approached by a man with a shady plan. The new guy calls himself Johnny Jump Up. This little encounter led to James going missing.

Johnny has a past, and I’ll weave a bit of that into the story later. Particularly how he came by the name.

This one is tentatively called Voyage of the Lanternfish, and it’s pirate themed. I made a general piracy board on Pinterest, and it’s good for inspiration. There are some great angler fish images there. I chose the term Lanternfish for my fantasy story. I’d love to share one, but I don’t want to step on anyone’s copyright. You may want to check it out on Pinterest.

In author terms, I’m fast approaching the end of Act One. This is where the plan fails and the bottom falls out. I’m really looking forward to getting there. The section I’ve been writing involves a bit of deep tension. I like to jump ahead and get to the action, but some scenes like this are necessary.

One of the tough decisions I made was to set this in a fantasy world. This was an attempt to distance myself from a certain popular franchise. This means I need alternatives to places like Tortuga. It also requires me to include a few fantasy creatures, like the owlcats I referenced a couple of times. I plan to glance off some of this, just to give the world some flavor. Things like saltwater bay frogs, and pelicanfish. I’ll come up with a few more, but may not use them all.

What I need to be doing is chipping away at some blog tour posts. I have another book ready to go, and I want to release it before summer, because summer has been pretty dismal in my experience. I need ten posts, and really need to start on them.

In other news, I wrote and scheduled my next Story Empire post. It’s up on Wednesday. I also exchanged enough material to complete another of Lisa’s interviews. I admit to pecking away at these. I’m a bit ahead of the game, so I’m using that time to work on my story.

My wife and I are both off tomorrow, and that usually doesn’t lead to new fiction. This may be a good time to start working on those promotional posts.

I’ve also neglected blog reading, Twitter, and the rest. Maybe I’ll spend some time catching those up.

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Wednesday, I’ll take it

I got to sleep in until about 6:30 today. It felt great. I should mention that my work alarm goes off at 4:00, so this was my version of sleeping in. Did all the morning stuff, and wound up covered with bulldogs.

That’s where my writing day began. Like all writing days, I started with my last chapter. It helps me get into the flow, and gives me a chance to fix typos and such. I usually have something cool I’m trying to do, and that leads to some tweaks to things I already wrote. Today it was minimal and I got right into it.

My characters crossed paths with an assassin, and we got a glimpse of what the tiny monsters are capable of in groups. There was gunplay, some sneaking about, and sinking a body into a duck pond.

One character was fascinated by a glop of apple pie that landed on another character’s cleavage and slowly moved downward until she wiped it and licked her finger. There is something going on there, but she’s pretty broken and it might take a while to develop.

My characters got to the big city, so we’re done with the camping part of the tale. They have plenty of gold, but not in a format they can spend. They are running low on coinage, and only one of them has a head for money.

Not to fear. There are some tiny monsters about to try scavenging for any gold that might be untended around town. Oh, what’s better than eight tiny monsters… eighteen tiny monsters. I’m finding these guys are adding a bit of color to the story. They’re freaky, scary, but funny to a degree too. I might have to have a scene where the characters discuss having too many of them.

My main character has been staring at the ships along the river port. He’s there to do some research with the goal of starting a war, but those ships are sure appealing. Starting the war will free his lady love from the bad guy. We all know that isn’t going to happen, but it’s his current goal.

Things I need to consider before my next writing day. (Saturday) There has been a surprising lack of swordplay in this story. My MC needs to go through a melancholy phase and come up with a partial new plan. I’m going to have to count on the other characters to carry me through this phase. He has issues living up to his father’s reputation, and avoiding it all at the same time. I think he’ll start out manic about all the things he is learning, then depressed that he can’t formulate a decent plan, then he’s going to say screw this and do something completely different.

All told it feels like about 3500 words. It could be as high as 4000, but it was a good writing day. It would have been more, but my daughter is working some kind of swing shift. She likes to talk, and I’m okay with that. Yeah, it cuts into writing time, but I don’t want to give up father/daughter time either.

That’s it until the weekend. Back to the office tomorrow where I have multiple projects I want to work on. I’d like to have 80% of those finished before the weekend starts. If it’s not one goal it’s another in my life.

Bonus points, I have commute time to daydream about my main character’s phases and how I’m going to get through them. Hopefully, I’ll have a plan prior to Saturday morning.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

I didn’t get some things done, but made good progress on others. I still need to create a couple of shticks for Lisa’s radio show, and I have one more to schedule. That one is weeks out, but the author requested a specific date and I want to accommodate her. I know how I feel when making plans. I would want to know it’s a done deal. It is a done deal, I just need to get on with it.

I dedicated my time to my own fiction. It came to around 3000 words. I don’t have a complete count, but somewhere around that mark. My main character has to cover up one eye, because the townsfolk decided it’s the evil eye. I also created four tiny monsters with more to come. They haven’t even taken to sea yet, and that’s one of my biggest obstacles here. Act one involves the guy trying to live up to his father’s reputation. He will decide to take his own path, and that’s the part that occurs at sea.

Doesn’t sound like a problem, until you think of promoting it as a pirate story. Will people stick with it long enough to get to the parts I advertise? It may be something that sorts itself out in the second or third pass. Right now I have to draft the damned thing.

I might carry those flighty readers along with some symbolism, and an eye patch could be part of that. His eye is fine, but it’s now permanently red. That scares the general population.

I’m also dealing with travels and conversations. This is touchy, because I want to do some world building and have some of these conversations. However, too many campfires and such might irritate some folks. Like I said, this is the draft process

I’d like to work on it tomorrow, but I need to keep up with the promises I made others. I may need to have a Lisa Burton Radio day and be happy about it.

In other news, my bread rose for about 30 hours and turned out awesome. (Awesomely? Is that a word?) Old What’s Her Face bought me a banneton, also called a brotform, for Christmas. This is a special basket for raising free-standing loaves of bread. I’ve never used it before. It helps the loaf retain its shape on the final rise. It also adds a cool spiral shape to the top crust.

Today was the day. I also used my peel and baking stone for this one. Here’s how it turned out, and it was great with our corned beef.

You can see the spirals the basket made before I added the expansion slices. To use the peel, also in the photo, I added some corn meal to it and the baking stone. This isn’t for flavor, it’s to keep things from sticking. My only mistake was taking the bread from the brotform while the oven reached temperature. This gave it time to spread and I should have done it at the last second. Next time: Dump, slice, bake in about five seconds.

It already has a wonderful sour flavor, and that’s the result of the long rise. My bread usually doesn’t develop that until the next day. No idea why.

I’m skipping the Irish whisky tonight. Old What’s Her Face bought me some cool Irish stout from a small brewery. Beer is very Irish too, so I’m not disappointed.

Hope all of you who are celebrating do it with care. We’re staying home and may rent Justice League on TV. Maybe.

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I’ll take it…

Old What’s Her Face kind of ate up any opportunities I might have had on Saturday. We still managed a nice date night, and I got one of the Lisa Burton interviews all scheduled. Most of Sunday was spent responding to interview requests. There are so many questionnaires out in cyberspace now that some of them have to produce a post. Thanks for all the reblogging everyone.

Yesterday morning, Tituba the sourdough told me she was ready to go to work. I built a standard, no recipe, dough. Water and flour to make a batter, palm full of salt, glurg of olive oil, about half a spoonful of starter, add flour until it looks like bread dough.

Sourdough is a symbiotic organism. The wild yeast raises the dough like you might expect, but it’s the bacteria that gives it that sour flavor. To make it come out right you want a long slow rise. Their symbiosis works like this: Yeast produces alcohol which bacteria loves. In return, bacteria protects yeast from mold.

Last night it was raised, but looking a bit blah. This morning it was blowing the lid off my bowl. I punched it down, formed a loaf and cleaned up the small Dutch oven I use for bread. Start rising all over again and turn my attention to other matters.

There are still some interview requests trickling in, and it’s to a point where I can let them stack up. I’ll get to everyone today, but I needed some quality time with my work in progress.

I have all four characters on the page now. Addressed some women’s issues from a historical (Or not so historical) perspective. This was mostly stage setting. She’ll round out her story later on after she gets comfortable with the other characters. My characters blew up a building, stole some gold, and one is carving a turnip/yam kind of thing for some reason. The main guy has made some heavy remarks about his father, which sets up something nice down the road.

I didn’t do a word count, but I’m finally over five-digits. That’s got to be pretty close to 4000 words one way or another. I could do more, but don’t want to get rummy over it.

My Apple Pencil needed a recharge, then I used it to make an updated blog banner. I think it needs to be a bit more Spring-like before I trot it out, so the snow sculpture remains for now.

I should still schedule my free days for Enhanced League, but the primo time for this title is the end of the month. That means I can put it off for another week, and I will.

Since everything is ready, I assembled and scheduled another LBR interview. That means I’m two weeks ahead, yay.

Tituba needed cut and fed so she’s happy to work again when I need her. This bread is nothing fancy. No free standing loaves, no French bread, just a nice Dutch oven variety. This is what I get with my leftover stew tonight.

Maybe I’ll turn my attention to some lightbulbs that need replacing. Then I can work up a shtick for an interview that’s already returned the questionnaire. It may have been a slack weekend, but today was pretty productive.

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Writing hazards

I don’t play golf, but I know they have hazards on the course. There are sand traps and water hazards that can mess with your game. My writing days are full of hazards too.

The main one is my daughter. She likes to talk — a lot. She talks for hours about her job to the point where I feel like I was there with her on her shift. Today, she has a new topic though. Enter Jackson.

We’ve never owned a cat. In her entire life there has never been a cat. We’re dog people. They aren’t foreign to me, my mom had cats at various times. It’s something new to my daughter, and she’s really excited about it. I refuse to stop her chatter, and try to be a good dad. Things change and young adults have been known to move halfway across the country on short notice. We spent a lot of time letting the animals get used to each other.

My big concern is dogs and cats together. They get supervised time together and are doing really well with the situation. Otto wants to sniff him, but that’s about where his interest ends. Frankie is the one to watch. Jackson likes to sneak up on her and bonk her on the head.

I’m still being diligent, because Kipling taught me The Female of the Species is more Deadly than the Male. This certainly seems to hold true with my dogs. Otto is a big hugger and lover of all things. Frankie is psycho and I don’t completely trust her around Jackson.

After my daughter goes to work, and Jackson goes to her room, I get a chance to write new words. There is still the bulldog hazard, but I’ve gotten pretty good at writing around it.

This one is Frankie, and I can get an arm around her and still type. I can’t quite reach around Otto in the same fashion.

Still, all progress is good. I wound up with around 2500 new words on the day. Skulls were bashed, shackles were fitted, and the big abduction happened. Aside from this, an ugly fish bit one of the supporting characters. My next move will be to define the stakes for the characters, imprison the love interest, and force the men into a task they don’t want and are ill equipped for.

Unfortunately, my own servitude is calling. Tomorrow begins the work week for me, so it will be Saturday at minimum before I can write again.

In other news, I got three more nice reviews for The Hat over the weekend. People seem to really be enjoying it, and that’s like rocket fuel to my writer brain. I haven’t sold a copy in days, but there is lag time between purchases and reviews. Reviews can lead to sales, so I hope it keeps up a bit of momentum.

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Sometimes I get lucky

My wife’s new schedule sucks, but it plays into my plans on occasion. I also call my parents every Sunday, but they’re on vacation right now. I started my day, like always. Dogs got fed, social media got surfed, other apps that drive news to me got browsed.

Then I read the last two chapters I wrote on The Hat. I’m at the phase where plants and payoffs have to get installed and not just the loose storyboarding I do. This led to deleting nearly a thousand words. Some of this has to do with the fact that Lizzie’s Mini Cooper doesn’t have a trunk, it has a tailgate. Oops.

The dogs were in sleep mode for some reason. They’re crazy right now, but I’ve learned to strike when the iron is hot. I replaced everything I deleted with better words, then added more. Days like this make me wish I kept a better count, but it looks like I wrote about 5000 new words total. The story is a handful of words under 20K right now.

Lizzie came away from the disaster with a partial victory. Any subsequent attempts won’t go so easily. She had a crisis of faith during the disaster event, and there was a bit of soul searching. We also learned about some new abilities the hat has, and they’re kind of scary.

I need to go back again and make specific parts of the aftermath more personal for Lizzie. It involves little things, but will make some of it more real. My next move will be to go back through and flesh a lot of things out. In fact I may start from the first page and do this. I like to move forward with confidence, and doing these things helps me move forward. It may sound like one step forward and two steps back, but I’m about ten thousand words ahead of where I thought I’d be right now.

Lizzie did a bit of shopping therapy after moving where the bad guys went. In a way, it’s revealing the confidence she will need to get through the next phase. She’s looking like a more legitimate superhero now. She also has a new fatalistic attitude that could be just what’s needed… or actually fatal if things don’t work out.

I engaged in an extensive text thread with my daughter, and fashion consultant. I needed to make sure Lizzie’s new outfit made sense. She read what I had and said it sounds great.

I’m setting myself up for something odd too. This story will require a longer denouement than others I’ve written. After the main story ends, I want about three things to happen to sew up loose ends. I’ve always believed that was a bad thing. I’m worried about it, but maybe I’ll gain clarity by the time I get there. This has to do with it being a buddy story. They each need their bit of something, but they need something together too.

I want to try something fun in this book, but I’ll be damned if I can figure it out. When I do a story break, I center three asterisks (***) and jump the story ahead. Easy peasy right? This time, I would like to do three bass clefs. I can’t find a keystroke to include a bass clef to save my life. I even looked for emoji’s, and can’t find a bass clef. There are some treble clefs, and plenty of musical notes. Why no bass clef? I thought for sure Times New Roman would have one, it has all kinds of symbols.

Do any of you know how to tell a word processor to make a bass clef? Maybe I could use clip art and squeeze down to size.

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Wednesday Update

Today is my rotating day off this week, but I took the next two off. There are big things happening at my house, and I need to be here for that.

My morning started off like most. I get up when the dogs demand it. Today it was somewhere about six A.M. After feeding dogs, making coffee, and the usual routine, I decided to start from zero on my WIP called The Hat. I found a lot of errors, and feel bad for having sent it to my critique group already.

I also made a stupid mistake. I edited my way through, and it stopped at about 3000 words. I’d spent my first hour editing the submission to critique group instead of the manuscript. That was easy enough to address, but I felt stupid.

I had plenty of interruptions, and that’s my excuse. My interruption looked like this:

Frankie isn’t much of a cuddler, but today all she wanted was poodle time. She isn’t all that big, and can wiggle beside me in my chair. The iPad fits on the arm of the chair, and it’s a pretty comfy writing position.

Once the edits were finished, I was also refreshed on the story. I decided to keep on writing. Lizzie learned how double-action revolvers work and took a few practice shots. Their symbiosis grew when she trusted the hat to drive while she slept. It was still her body doing the driving, but her mind got to catch a few hours sleep. Turns out the hat is kind of an aggressive driver though. Lizzie and the hat are starting to mesh really well, but they still bicker.

My story is over 11,500 words now, and I feel like I’m 5000 words ahead of where I expected. Beginnings are always this way for me. I start strong, I finish strong, it’s the middle that bogs me down. This was always intended to be a novella, but if it reaches novel length I won’t panic. I don’t know if these are formal rules, but short stories generally don’t have as much setting as novels. If it looks like I’m approaching 70K at the end, I may beef up my settings to raise the word count. I may also need one more plot twist, but I’m thinking about it even now. I don’t know what might be expected in a novella, but I assume it’s somewhere in the middle.

I got a new piece of Lisa Burton art in the email today. My October micro-fiction will have a nice point of reference for people who like to read those. I think it came out pretty well.

After the writing ended, my daughter, her BFF, my wife, and I moved furniture. We’re finally getting rid of the seventeen year old carpet in the majority of the house. We’re having a fake wood floor installed tomorrow. This is a kind of vinyl plank that is hard to tell from real wood after it’s installed. It wears better than wood, and that’s a good thing for a family of dog lovers. We also tend to pick up road sand on our winter boots and this will hold up better than wood. I’ll get some pictures, but might not post them until Friday. Lisa has a guest tomorrow and we want that post to get all the attention.

We also have company coming for the rest of the week. That will eat into writing time, but I may get lucky on Monday.

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