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Vacation day four: New words and new problems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Vacation day one: Author problems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Another Bachelor Weekend

Just me and the dogs this weekend. Old What’s Her Face went to Nevada to visit family. I kind of planned on getting a lot written, but it didn’t work out quite that way.

I spent a good part of my day playing a stupid game. I used to feel guilty for things like this, but that isn’t healthy. The fact is, I work hard all week. I generally work hard most weekends, and I felt like goofing off.

There are two complete books on the Cloud right now, and I got the formatted MS back for The Midnight Rambler today. I also have two mostly drafted stories that I’m working on.

It wasn’t a complete abandonment of my available time. I managed about 4/5 of a chapter. I think there are some great humorous bits in it. I made a fun James Brown joke, and even managed to electrocute Lizzie St. Laurent. (Just a little bit. I’m sure her hair grow out.)

I don’t know that I’m going to get a lot more done tomorrow either. I have one blog assignment, and that might be it for my weekend.

Vacation is looming. We can’t afford to do squat, so I’m staying home, but we’re going to the fair one night. The free concert that night is Pat Benatar. We’ve seen her before, but it’s hard to pass up a stellar show for the price of fair admission. I can also have fair food, so that will be our supper.

Boise has had a great lineup of musicians this year, but tickets seem to be around $150… each. That would be an expensive night out for us. We passed on Melissa Etheridge, Bonnie Raitt, and The Black Crows. Pat Benatar is a favorite and will be a good time.

With all that leave available, I might squeeze a bit of writing time from the rest of the week. Time will tell.

We’ve tied the record for most days over 100 degrees here in Boise this summer. I have no doubt that we’ll be breaking it before this is all over. The pups and I are staying cool, and doing whatever strikes our interest. I hope all of you are doing whatever grabs your attention, too.

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A reasonable effort

From a purely numbers point of view, I managed three-quarters of one chapter. It was already started, and I finished it.

Every story comes with its own challenges, and this Hat story is no different. This time, the problem comes to Lizzie, but she knows where and what it is from the very first chapter. There is no big mystery to unravel.

It involves a swarm of gremlins at a national security agency. This is a real place in St. Louis, and since these stories are in pseudo St Louis, it was a good fit.

The struggle comes from Lizzie not being outfitted to fight a swarm of tiny creatures. The .357 magnum revolvers just don’t seem to work here, and a pitchfork isn’t much better. I gained a bit from trying to find her some better gear to finish the job.

I’m at just under 3/4 of the way through the story. This one is still going to have all the crazy things, and a lot of banter, but it’s more about Lizzie powering up to a degree. Can’t be a large degree because of the ongoing nature of these stories.

I’m delving deeper into Lizzie’s circle of friends, and even introduced a new witch with a new skill set. There’s even a chapter where Noodles the turtle-dog-thing gets to help her out. It’s crazy just like he is, but she’s going to lose access to him. The hero has to cross the finish line herself.

One of my goals here is to show the struggle of young people today. Granted it’s a crazy POV, but Lizzie constantly fights to make ends meet. This story is largely about debt. There is real world bank type debt, but there’s also indebtedness to friends. I’ll have to remember to include some kind of gift for Noodles.

My desire is to wrap this one with a couple of musical gigs, then have her start paying back some of that personal debt. Right now, I have it planned as a work party that’s just a cover for a girls night with her new witch friends. I have to decide how graphic I want these girls to get when there are no men around.

I suppose the hat will be there, and he might help tone things down. He can also be a bit gossipy, so there should be some chances to let him shine. Lizzie does have one secret that can get out. I’m going to stand silent on it, because it will be revealed in The Midnight Rambler, which is being formatted as I type this. It will publish this fall. After all, what would October be without a new Hat story?

I’m also sensing a concern here. I like having access to Lizzie’s circle of friends, but I don’t want to develop a theme here. Problem leads to seeking help from the coven which allows her to succeed. I may be fortunate in that the next story will involve Lizzie on the road away from Good Liniment and all it has to offer.

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I couldn’t stop myself

Today was one of those rare writing days that only seems to come along once per year. I even goofed off before I got started. Old What’s Her Face bought me some New Orleans style coffee with chicory, and I took my time to enjoy it. Made a trip around the yard to water plants, and checked in on my Story Empire friends for a while.

I knew either story could lunge forward today. They were both at that point where I could really accomplish something. I was feeling kind of upbeat and went for Goodbye Old Paint. Lizzie and the hat it was.

Mari’s story is a little more grim, so I’m saving that for a different day.

I still believe in torturing my main characters, so Lizzie didn’t get completely off the hook. I’ve done a lot to her over the volumes, so today I gave her a curse.

This volume is intended to be a little more light hearted than before, but it’s still dark humor. Basically, she started turning into a toad. I peppered this with moments of normalcy that eventually faded into madness. Many bugs were eaten.

The hat freaked out, and couldn’t find his go-to guy, Dash Goodman. In desperation he called Joyeux DuPont. I already set some of this up in a previous session, so the phone number was easily available.

A bit of research at Good Liniment, then Joyeux picked up Lizzie and the hat and whisked them away to visit with a new character. In her classic fastback Barracuda, no less.

Mad Mellinger is my kitchen witch, and between her and Joyeux, they conjured up a cure for Lizzie. It’s pure madness, I promise. I was inspired by those videos where someone is returning home after wisdom tooth extraction. The ones where they say all kinds of stupid crap. Lizzie has a lot to live down now.

It’s important to view my witches as an outsider, because Lizzie isn’t one of them. On the rare occasion I need them to flesh something out, I used the hat in kind of a Dr. Watson role to ask a question.

I’m super excited about all the goofy crap I included in today’s session. From Lizzie trying to make a burrow while under the spadefoot curse, to a couple of Deez-Nuts jokes, it was a great day.

Since Joyeux has plant based magic, and is basically an herbalist, it was easy enough to have her provide the magical ingredients for Mad to cook up. That worked out quite well.

I always try to keep my witches to a certain plan. Their houses are kind of unusual and isolated from everyone else. I’d already written Joyeux’s converted water tower about a month ago. I decided Mad lives in a converted barn. It’s a pretty cool repurposing of an old building.

They have wands, and they aren’t like other writers use. Dash has an old pipe wrench. I noted once before that Joyeux uses a garden dibble. It might seem pretty simple, but Mad’s wooden spoon just seems to fit her magical style. I also peppered her location with some fat hens, and a few beehives, but they weren’t more than scenery.

There’s an egg scrying scene, and I’m going to have something similar before Mad’s section ends, but this vision is for Lizzie.

I even added a section that reveals Joyeux is from Detroit. It’s a long shot, but if I ever write my Detroit story, it could now tie into the hat universe with a bit of magic involved in that plot.

Right now, I have two loose plans that could support the hat series. One is the Detroit story, and another involves Dash Goodman going solo in his own story. Don’t know if I’ll ever get to them, but they’re ideas, anyway.

I want to get this one to the point that Lizzie is aimed back at what caused her curse, with a vengeance. That means spending the night at Mad’s place, driving back, then dealing with some real world problems. After that, I’m going to pick up Mari’s swamp story once more.

I never noted my stopping place last time, but by the miracle of WordPress, I did note it here last weekend. Today’s word count is – not joking – over eight-thousand words. It’s bound to be full of typos, and too many words, but I’ll deal with all that tomorrow morning.

Right now, I think I need to find something to watch on one of the streaming services and veg out.

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I was supposed to read today

I’m a couple of books behind right now, and have some serious reading I need to get on with. I earmarked this holiday for that purpose, but it never happened.

Things were flowing so well for Lizzie and the hat, that I couldn’t help myself. The wild goose chase continues, but she accomplished some things today that should help her out with her assignment.

Joyeux had to turn Lizzie down cold. The device she wanted to borrow is still in use, and Joyeux can’t spare it right now.

Help came via Cyrus Yoder, but it was Destiny the elemental that made her new device. It’s a mallet. The old fashioned kind that looks similar to half of a rolling pin. I can’t wait to see what kind of monkey business I can concoct with that device.

Cyrus is still grouchy and reserved. Dash is still helpful when he’s allowed to be, and Noodles made his first appearance. He’s going to have a bigger role in this story, but I never got that far.

Fallout from a giant flood is part of the influence in this book. Lizzie is broke. (When isn’t she) Venues for her band are struggling, so the hat booked the band into a junior high dance. I’ll probably get to that bit on my next writing session.

It was a good four-day author stretch. I moved both Mari’s and Lizzie’s stories ahead. Mari’s word count is at 23,800. Lizzies is at 12,500.

I’d like Lizzie’s story to remain at that short novel size. So she might be 25% finished. Mari’s story is intended for a full sized novel, so perhaps 25%, but it might come in a bit shorter.

I expect things to slow down with the changes being made at my workplace. It’s okay. I have two complete novels in the can right now, add these two, and I’m in a pretty good position.

I’ll need to set aside some time to add the cartoons to The Midnight Rambler, and do a final editing pass on it before fall. I will also take time to edit book one of my space opera, which still needs a title.

I might have to use my headphones and read during the evenings. They tend to drown out whatever Old What’s Her Face has on television so I can concentrate.

I hope all of you who got a holiday found a way to enjoy it.

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Strange thought today

My family has never been one for Hallmark holidays. I haven’t heard from any of my kids today, and it really doesn’t matter.

I’ve been dwelling on the idea that last year I called my father and wished him a Happy Father’s Day. It was the last time I would ever do that, and I kind of wish I could today. Strange idea, but if you follow this blog or read my fiction, you can consider the source.

Aside from that, it was another low word count day. I feel much better about it, though. The wild goose chase has begun. Lizzie and the hat left Good Liniment in search of Joyeux DuPont.

Joyeux has a cool new house I wanted to describe. The witches in this series are kind of eccentric. They have to fit into modern society, almost hide among us. When they’re at home they can be themselves. I try to make their homes something just a degree off the standard. We’ve seen Evelyn’s 1960s rancher and Cyrus’ Victorian. You will soon see Professor Lagomorph’s modern architectural nightmare.

Joyeux bought an old water tower. The kind that used to house city offices in the lower levels. She’s in the process of turning it into her home.

I rarely blurt out what any witch’s strong discipline is, except in the case of Dash Goodman. There are enough clues for readers to figure them out. Joyeux is turning the water tank into her personal greenhouse, and it’s already filled with some cool things. I think readers are going to like her. She got a brief intro in Good Liniment, but will get more of a chance to shine in this story.

If you’re a fan of Noodles, the pet creature, he’s going to shine in this one, too.

While it was a low volume day, I feel better now that the chase is on. This one should pick up the pace now, and I have tomorrow available, too.

Call your dad and wish him a Happy Father’s Day while you still can.

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Slower going today

Lizzie and the hat went a little slower than I anticipated today. It makes perfect sense when I think about it. I’m in the phase where I’m still moving pieces around.

Once I got past some of this in Mari’s story my word count really picked up. I had to get Lizzie inside the server farm so she could deal with the gremlins. That didn’t go well, so she needed help.

Some of this stems from the ongoing series aspect here. I can’t just plop Dash Goodman into the story without some minor reintroductions. We’re also exploring a new part of Good Liniment for this help, and I need to slow down and describe it. I have every intention that someone could pick this story up without ever having read any of the others and not feel lost.

Turns out the basement at Good Liniment might be even more interesting than the bar and restaurant upstairs.

This is going to turn into a wild goose chase to find something to deal with the gremlins. Imagine trying to kill cockroaches with pistols. She needs a new tool. It’s going to allow Lizzie to foster a relationship with Joyeux DuPont, and allow me to introduce a new witch entirely.

This one won’t be quite as dark as some of its predecessors. I’ve gotten Lizzie shot before, gave her a mental meltdown, and there have been some brutal killings in previous volumes. I can afford one that’s a bit lighter.

This doesn’t mean Lizzie will have a cakewalk. I intend to put her under a curse that could be career ending. (I intend to play it for humor.)

Another thing I could be struggling with is the publication schedule. Good Liniment is on Amazon right now. Midnight Rambler will come out this Fall. Goodbye Old Paint could include growth points from a story nobody’s seen yet. I don’t think this is the problem, though. Moving the pieces into place always takes time for me.

I’d like to fit Kevin the vampire in here somehow, but he’s not exactly working for this story. Dash’s kind of help seems more pertinent. I also need to come up with something for Night Bump Radio, but government hacking should be a simple enough idea. Tying it to the urban legend of Hellpox might take some serious thought.

Word count came to 2200 today. About a thousand off from what Mari’s last writing day produced.

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Not according to plan, but I’ll take it

Today might be my last flex day ever. I really wanted to make the pixels fly, and earmarked this time for Lizzie and the hat.

All I needed to do first was go back through Mari’s story for some quick changes. I wanted to add a few southernisms and some Spanish to my dialog. Little things like Miss Kililah, as opposed to just Kililah.

I wound up getting into the story as I edited, and added 3500 words to it. I got through a tropical storm, and the Voodoo scene I’ve been looking forward to. I did some research here, and think I stayed fairly true, but also made it work for the story.

Papa Legba is an entity who can speak every language. Extinct languages and even those that haven’t been created yet. He serves as a kind of broker between us and the Gods because we can’t speak their language. His favorite number is three. I used three old fashioned keys to a really cool effect. He loves black and red, so I covered an altar with deadly coral snakes. He also loves dogs, more on that in a couple of paragraphs.

It may seem like a neat thing, or even a handy tool for Mari, but it’s actually a major upgrade. We see a lot of heroes who can fly, are bulletproof, stretchy and bendy. This story doesn’t lend itself to that. How many heroes have you ever seen with an enhanced olfactory sense?

To expand on this, Mari rescued a black & tan coonhound. She’ll have to rescue her one more time, but I didn’t get that far. Here’s Mari, having lost her family, and suffered through a brutal gang rape. I gave her something adorable to grab onto. The fact that it’s a hound with a superior olfactory sense works wonders for me. It gives me some better bonding opportunities to work with as Mari learns her way around this unique skill.

I stopped right there and moved over to Lizzie’s story. I want to read what I have so far, and will focus on that before adding any new words. I still have hopes to move Goodbye Old Paint ahead before the weekend wraps up.

If I get anything done tomorrow, I’ll check in again.

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Better than I’d hoped

Sundays are usually horrible days for me to write. I call my mother and spend about an hour with her. There are general chores and such that I earmark for Sundays. I might gain an hour or so, but usually don’t.

For whatever reason, probably having the house to myself, I managed some quality time. I stayed with Mari’s story, and feel kind of bad about it.

I left poor Lizzie handcuffed outside of a secure Federal agency in the grass. She didn’t do anything wrong, but she’s been there for a couple of weeks now. Next weekend I’ll get what amounts to my last flex day ever and might return to help her out.

Mari’s rescue was complete. She lost four or five days in an unconscious state. Sun, fire ants, and abuse will do that to you in my story.

Her rescuer is Kelilah, and she survived the war Mari only sees the remnants of. As Mari got her legs under her, she started checking the fish traps and figured out how they work. A neat skill for someone traveling through swamp country.

Kelilah also told her bits and pieces about the war. Not too many speak of it, so this was a rare opportunity for her to learn something about the previous world.

This conversation peppered a scene where Mari learned how to throw a box of knives Kelilah had collected from her old military unit as they were killed. These Arkansas toothpicks were a symbol of the scouts.

They also spent some quality time learning how to knife fight, and it’s more brutal than just trying to stab someone.

Bath time also came along which involved a trough and heating water on an outdoor stove Kelilah had built. This is where Mari learned one of her attackers, the same ones who killed her family, wrote his name across her ass. It will wash away eventually, but someone named “Keefe” made it to the top of her death list.

As the bruises heal, and the deep tissues start feeling better, Mari and Kelilah are heading for a distant community to forage. There are quality fruit trees and things there. I’ll have Kelilah reveal a bit more about the past as this section expands. For now, they have to wait until I get some more writing time.

With no expectations, my word count exceeded yesterdays. I always struggle with transitions, and now that I made them the story flowed better. Mari’s skill set is growing by leaps and bounds. She has two clues to work with, Keefe and someone with a yellow handled machete. Much better than the laughing silhouettes from her personal attack.

Still raining in Idaho. Now that the weekend is over, I’m sure it will return to sunny days and high temperatures. Heaven forbid we get a nice weekend. For those of you wondering, Old What’s Her Face pulled in about an hour ago and had a great time with her brother and our grandson.

Hope all of you had wonderful weekends, and have a great week ahead of you.

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