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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

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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.”

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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?

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It’s been too long

I got to the writing cabin relatively early this morning. Lisa Burton met me at the door. She wore a tight knee-length khaki dress and a matching envelope cap.

“What’s with the outfit,” I asked.

“Veteran’s Day is next on the calendar. Things are still kind of boring out there, so I try to celebrate everything at home. You haven’t been out here in a while. What’s the occasion?”

“Nothing special. Just trying to keep the boredom away. I’ve been doing some storyboarding and looking for graphics. I have a lot of cool poster ideas for you as I write the next few books.”

“I’d love to go over your ideas. Maybe I can get some outfits ordered.”

I headed toward my office and turned on the lights. Lisa had placed sheets over everything, so I pulled them away and piled them in the corner. “Problem is that all the cool ideas are several books away from the ones I’m writing next. Things will have to come to me as I write those.”

“I’m sure you’ll come up with something. Maybe I can help.”

I walked down the hall to the paranormal office and threw the switch. A spark and hum revealed the same slip covers over all the furniture.

I thought as I pulled them all back. “I might be able to use that garrison cap in a story. Hang on to it.”

“For the hat?” she asked.

“Yeah, why not. I have a mission in a future story that will require him to be flat. Lizzie might come up with a performance outfit using it, too.”

“That seems worthy. I’ll keep it within easy reach. What are you working on today?”

“Nothing in particular, but I’m getting close.”

Lisa pushed me back to the main office and my desk chair. She moved the iPad in front of me. “I’ll get you some coffee. Maybe just relax and enjoy a fresh cup. See where it takes you.”

I sipped my coffee, then opened a new folder, created a blank document. A little copy and paste, and I’d created a title page and copyright data. I wrote one sentence, then another.

I knew in broad strokes what has to happen, but didn’t really plan a way to execute that. I worked on some dialog and it led toward the planned event. Might as well execute the plan and see what happens.

I dabbled, and backspaced my way along, not really expecting much. When I glanced down at the bottom of my document I’d written 3000 words. My jaw fell open.

Lisa had her own cup of coffee. She held it toward me. “Take all you can…”

I clinked her cup. “Give nothing back.”

Lisa snapped an open palm salute. “I I I I.”

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Missed it by thiiiis much

I hit it hard this weekend. I was so close to finishing H.M.S. Lanternfish I could taste it. Needless to say from the title, I never made it. I blame Rusty, but let’s concentrate on the positives.

I just received critiques back on one chapter, but have about three more written. I also received cover art, and followed this up with ordering the first Lisa Burton promotional poster.

My short story is in the can, but I need to pass over it one more time, then get some other eyes to check it out. I already checked with them, and they’re on board. I’ll probably send it out PDQ. I still need to figure out a title.

Inside Lanternfish, I have a lot going on in these closing chapters. There’s a bit of intrigue and some crazy things, too. I’m going to end it with a lot of daring do, and kind of a disaster at the same time. This is going to be a challenge to pull off, and maybe it’s good that I ran out of time. It might be best to tackle this when I’m fresh so the balance comes out well.

Remember when I said the middle volume of a trilogy is usually the shortest one? Yeah, I was wrong. This one is going to be every bit as long as the first, and may exceed it to a small degree.

All combined, I hit about 9700 words over the four days. That’s nothing to cry about. I’m down to counting weeks before I can send it to my formatter and think about publishing. Honestly, I’m probably about six or seven weeks out. That’s mid-July sometime.

That timetable will depend on me, my mentors and helpers, and Sean Harrington with the promotional posters. It may seem absurd, but I’m already concerned about my ability to have The Ballad of Mrs. Molony available for the Halloween season.

I think I’ll make it all work, and while Lanternfish is aging, I can add words to Mrs. Molony. I need to avoid taking on any more projects and it should be fine.

It’s fun to lament the completion of the draft, but honestly I couldn’t be happier. Even though I lost some time on Saturday and Sunday, I wouldn’t trade a visit with my daughter for a few more words.

Hope all of you had a great weekend whatever you were doing.

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And then Rusty showed up

I already posted about my 3500 words on Friday. I’m on the downhill slide of Lanternfish, and it’s getting fun to move toward the big event that ends book two.

Old What’s Her Face has to work all four days I’m off, so getting to the conclusion is a real possibility. I added 2500 more words on Saturday morning. This included the creation of another new creature called a snubhorn, who is basically a beast of burden.

I needed to think the next bit through, and turned to my short story. Normally, I would jump to Mrs. Molony, but the short story has a deadline. I wound up finishing it, but it needs a little something. It’s going to be a bit short for the desired word count, but I don’t want to lengthen it only for that.

Then Rusty showed up. My daughter decided to drop in for a visit, but she brought Rusty with her. This is the leftover from a litter of Rottweiler puppies her roommate had bred. Since nobody wanted him, she decided to keep him.

I’m here to liven up your life.

I love seeing my daughter, but Rusty is a handful. He’s a perpetual motion machine, and licks everything. As he walks he licks the couch, the footstool, the chair, my shoe, the wall, whatever is within reach. It’s cute, but weird. He also get’s Frankie pretty fired up, to the point of angry sometimes.

He’s also gangly. He slid across the dining room floor, into the kitchen with all four paws in the air. He impacted the pantry doors and I had to put them back on track.

I worry, because he’s an intact male Rottweiler. Otto is also intact, and I would like to see Rusty start staying in Sun Valley when our daughter visits. He’s twice as big as he was when he came in April, and while he’s cute, Otto doesn’t need that shit. I’ve been around a lot of dogs, and Rusty is going to be huge when he grows up.

My daughter took him to town for a few hours this morning, and I added another 1500 words to Lanternfish. It isn’t a lot, but it’s better than nothing. It’s important stuff, too, so that helps. Then she came home and gave me a haircut.

As I’m writing this, Old What’s Her Face took our daughter to the store. There was some talk about buying something for dinner, so I have a hunch Rusty will impact my Monday writing plans, too.

All told, there isn’t a downside. I get to visit with my daughter, got a haircut, and honestly get a kick out of this gigantic weird puppy. I just wouldn’t want a steady diet of him.

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A glorious writing day

This had to be the longest work week in history. It added to my back problems, because I had to spend the entire day yesterday in an uncomfortable chair to attend a Zoom meeting.

I doubted my ability to even get out of bed this morning, but I made it around 7:00. I think the Woodford Reserve helped last night, because I slept like a baby.

Frankie was a little shit most of the morning. She’s really smart and calculates things. She wanted Otto to play outside with her, but he’s figured out her nonsense. She spots an imaginary squirrel, then paws the door with urgency. She runs out all excited, but he watches from the doorway.

Now she’s added me to her game. It was cold, but I’d let her out enough times that I left the door open so she could come and go. She started coming to me in a lather. She stomps her front feet back and forth, makes a Chewbacca noise, then runs to the door… but the door is open.

I decided that maybe someone threw a ball over the fence or something and she wanted me to see it, so I stepped outside and played right into her evil plan. Otto always goes outside if I do. As soon as he stepped onto the patio, she jumped him. I was just a device to get Otto to go outside. I really wanted to write, but you’ve gotta stop and laugh at that.

The Lanternfish crew was in the wake of a large sea battle that introduced some new elements into the story. Today was about what’s known as a sequel. If you haven’t been reading Staci Troilo’s excellent series over at Story Empire, you’re missing out. Here’s a link to the first one.

Stories have a kind of ebb and flow that I’ve always thought of as waves. The crest of the wave is all cannons, fire, and action. The valley between waves is about recovery, regrouping, then forging ahead to the next crest. They’re more properly called Scenes and Sequels. I think the naming is unfortunate, and prefer my wave analogy.

The crew completed their primary mission as privateers. They delivered their goods to the Admiralty. From this point on, everything changes. It’s more dangerous, riskier, and I hope I can pull it off.

One of the weird things I love is an outfit upgrade, and I wrote two into this chapter. One involves passing Yoshiko off as a princess to Western minds. She is a princess, but it isn’t that big of a deal in the East. The hope is the Westerners will fall all over her.

The other involves General Serang. You guys remember Serang. She’s come a long way since her origin story, and her appearance in Voyage of the Lanternfish. Just to refresh your memory, here is Lisa Burton posing as Serang.

Lisa Burton

I really like her makeover, and as she steps to the dock ahead of her army, everything is different. The only things she kept are her weapon, and that rockin’ hat. Sadly, she just marched out of this story. At nearly 96,000 words, the final chapters are all about James and the Lanternfish crew. She has a big role to play in the final book of the trilogy.

Makeovers are a great way to announce a change has happened. There’s something new here. If you like superhero movies you’ll see them used all the time. Two characters, two visions, one of grace and loveliness, the other of power and strength.

Anyway, I’m pretty happy with it, but it may need some fine tuning. Today’s word count comes to about 3200. A very good kickoff to my four day weekend.

If you’d like to check out Serang, you can find her origin story or Voyage of the Lanternfish on my Amazon Page.

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A long weekend

I took Friday as a vacation day, and Monday was my flex day. This was just what I needed, to be honest. It doesn’t mean I wasn’t productive, but I didn’t hit it full speed either.

Start with Friday. Old What’s Her Face had to work, so this was my writing day. I tried to hit it hard, because I didn’t expect a better opportunity. I wound up adding 4100 new words to Lanternfish.

I’ve been setting the stage for some of this for a few chapters now. I started to reveal the con job my crew is going to have to pull once they arrive in the war zone. I also have some seeds that haven’t sprouted yet and look forward to those chapters.

Then I sent Lanternfish into a hot welcome in the form of two Hollish warships. With their little fleet, only Lanternfish is capable of defending herself, unless there is an even older battle tactic that might still have some life in it.

I also finally introduced my ghost into the story. This is an old Japanese legend, and honestly, Japanese ghosts are scary as hell. This involves haunted items. I did a ton of research on them, then made my own up to fit the framework. The result was bloody and gruesome, and I’m well pleased with it.

A root monster earned a name (kind of), and they made a mistake involving a golden phallus. Have to keep some of the humor going here.

My wife was off Saturday and Sunday. We’re doing our best to stay home, and did small things around the house. I pruned my Asian pear a bit, and have more to go. I continued with thinning its fruit. I should have sprayed it for coddling moth, but haven’t done that yet.

We turned on Disney+ and watched the new Star Wars movie. We went to it in the theater, but now that it’s that simple we decided to watch it again.

I dabbled with other writing projects, adding a few words to my short story, and a few more to Lanternfish. I’m debating parking Lizzie and the Hat now, until one of those gets finished. This is always a possibility, and it feels like time.

I had one goal for today, and that was to send a chapter of Lanternfish to my critique group. My iPad seems to have a haunting of its own today. When I selected the chapter, it froze up and wouldn’t let me do anything. I closed the app, and that will sometimes break the strangle hold. Not this time. It decided to arbitrarily delete the last two chapters I’d written.

Rather than throwing the stupid thing against the wall. I put it down and made a pot of coffee. About once a year, Old What’s Her Face buys me a can of chickory as a treat, and I used it. This gave me time to think. Apple just had an update and that could be part of my problem. Doesn’t solve anything, but it came to me in the kitchen.

Pages gives me options upon selection of a part of my work, copy/cut/ delete. Maybe it cut the section and was still on the clipboard. I could simply paste it back… Big nope. It had been deleted.

As a last feeble effort I tried the undo button. It restored everything that I’d lost, and I was able to copy and paste it for my critique group. It’s a miracle that I didn’t reboot the whole thing, which would have cleared the undo button.

Today was a possible writing day, too. I continued, but after my adventure, didn’t accomplish much. If you add on the dabbling with the short story and today, my whole weekend probably landed at about 5000 words. Good progress any way you slice it.

Tomorrow is working from home, and Wednesday I get my turn in the office. I have enough work for one day, but really need to go in for more files and such.

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Two updates in one week

It feels good to accomplish something on occasion. Old What’s Her Face just called as she got off work and put an end to my writing day.

This time, I didn’t have any work commitments, or other projects to address. It was a day for me to do whatever I want, and I chose writing.

I got up late, which felt awesome. Usually, Otto wants his breakfast by about 5:00, but he was feeling lazy, too. I fumbled a bit with what project to tackle. Sundays don’t give me a lot of time, but I can address the critiques I have for Lanternfish. That gives it some momentum this weekend. It isn’t much, but it counts.

Jason Fogg is to a place where I want to think about it for a while, and that left Lizzie and The Hat.

The book is called The Ballad of Mrs. Molony, but she hasn’t made an appearance for a while. This is because she’s going to get the big ending scene. Lizzie and the Pythons finished their gig at a country bar, and spotted the vampires they’re after. Things went downhill from there.

They took up a vigil trying to spot one passing pickup in an area that seemed like a good target. Stakeout work is boring, so I’m counting on characters to keep it interesting. It’s their style to bicker and pick about things, and there is plenty of that in this chapter.

Lizzie pissed off the clientele at the country bar, (Who knew cowboys wouldn’t appreciate Van Halen,) and I let the hat go on a supervised Internet shopping spree. He’s kind of an Internet junkie these days.

All told, it came to over 3300 words, my best day in a long time. I could have easily kept going, but my wife is on her way home. I’m going to reread an old short story of mine, because I can see a place for that character in the world of Lizzie and The Hat.

The story is called Night Bump Radio. It involves a character from Will O’ the Wisp, who grew up to host a late night call in show. It’s based loosely on the old Art Bell programs where people call in about bigfoot, aliens, ghosts, and all kinds of things that go bump in the night.

The loose idea is this becomes a point of worry when people start calling in about a mysterious character known on the streets as The Hat. Hey, you can’t shoot things up without a witness or two picking up on it. I can sort of introduce it here. Step it up a bit in the next book, then the one after that, I can have some real fun with it. It also gives me a tie to Patty Hall, from Wisp, if I want to include her down the road.

Not a lot planned for tomorrow. I’ll probably look at my critiques and make a few adjustments, then that will close out my weekend. Hope all of you are safe, well, and doing something fun this weekend.

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650 words

I admit it isn’t my best writing day, but it really shouldn’t have been a writing day at all.

I had some critiques back and my only goal was to work through those. Old What’s Her Face is off today, so I went into my home office for the sole purpose of doing that.

I’m also trying to get more organized. It’s easier to send out my submissions as whole chapters. It also makes those submissions easier to understand because they are chapters. Prior to this, I used a word count to send out submissions. With this goal in mind, I wanted to get to the end of a chapter.

I don’t hit the backup story as hard as Lanternfish right now, but it feels nice to have everything on an even keel. Lanternfish has 32 chapters completed. The Ballad of Mrs. Molony has 7.

They’re different genres, and stories about Lizzie and The Hat are short on purpose. Lanternfish kind of fits the mold of epic fantasy, so it is longer. The spread between these genres could misrepresent the proportions of giving you simple chapters alone. Also, Lanternfish is sailing toward the end, while Mrs. Molony is somewhere in the middle.

So, my 650 words kind of brings my writing life into balance. It’s a small thing, but it’s good until I mess it up again. I’ll probably mess it up this evening.

Messing it up involves the fact that they called my wife in for an extra shift. She’ll go to bed about 6:00, then report for work at midnight. I’ve been staying up when this happens unless it is one of my work nights. It’s just easier on her that way.

I have an entire evening to myself. I may break down and look for an old movie, but I’ll probably work on one of my stories. I’d like to get Lanternfish across the ocean and right up to the face of the action.

I’ve been dealing with scenarios that require certain characters to be in two places at once. I’ve been thinking about them for months, and writing it is going to be how I solve the problems. Some of my scenarios will have to fall by the wayside. After I commit to where they will be, that will build the fences for how the rest of the tale shapes up.

I also need to keep planting some things as they cross the last ocean. These can payoff in the final book somewhere. Tonight could be the night for some of that.

Tomorrow will probably be a strange day. I have no idea what my wife will expect. Sometimes she wants to sleep, and I try to be quiet. Other times she wants to stay up so she doesn’t get jet lagged or whatever you might call it. I’m not making any plans for tomorrow, and will take it as it comes.

It doesn’t sound all that productive, but it was good stuff to get done. How is your weekend shaping up?

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