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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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Not as good as I’d hoped

It’s a bachelor weekend around here. Old What’s Her Face decided to brave the $5 gasoline and visit some family in Nevada. I had big plans for moving at least one story ahead.

I spent Friday night with a huge bottle of Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, Obi Wan Kenobi, and Crime Story. No sense getting greedy about writing, and I deserved an evening of whatever the hell I want.

I woke up early and intended to make the pixels fly. No real target or agenda. There’s a scene that I’ve been dreading in Mari’s story and rather than put it off I faced it head on.

There are some scenes I don’t feel like I write particularly well, but I’ve learned a pseudo-trick. I kind of write them from the side. I don’t have to write erotica to include characters who are intimate. I just pick it up from the other end. Works for me. (I need to dwell on this and I might get a Story Empire post out of it.)

This scene involves a personal failure on Mari’s part and she paid the price. Rather than feel every broken rib, or penetrative act, I skipped ahead to her being roused by a rescuer. Fire ants found their way into the story.

The old woman who rescued her is going to become a kind of mentor. This lady was actually in the war Mari sees the remnants of. There are some new bushcraft and frontier skills headed Mari’s way, but I never made it that far.

This is also the character that’s going to bring that little bit of Voodoo to the tale that makes it one of my stories. I’ve done my research and this is a gift from an entity known as Papa Legba.

I never did a formal count, but it feels like 3000 – 3500 words. Sounds awesome, but I had about seven hours at my disposal. I got up early. It’s also likely to be my weekly word count as well as my day. I’ll see how far I get tomorrow. Right now it’s at 15,160.

Mari’s story involves a lot of moving around, and I’m trying to get into the scenery. This includes remnants from the war, like the night she spent beside the burned up hull of a Blackhawk helicopter.

I’m also touching upon some of the exotic wildlife that has made its way into the Gulf Coast area. Nothing preachy, but there are iguanas and pythons present already. A few Quaker parakeets also exist. I’ll probably step it up from there, but so far it’s been realistic. Don’t know if I’ll include a bit about global warming, but it feels like something that could work here.

Poor Mari is really going through the crucible in this one. She’s tough and well prepared, but not as well as she thought. Perhaps this mentor character can provide a bit more that she’s lacking.

This mentor will provide some things, but not everything. I have another stop far down the line that will deliver a bit more, but it’s Mari who’s going to have to make the ultimate evolution before the big showdown.

I’m probably going to go back to some television for the rest of the day. Stormy and hot here in Idaho. It’s a weird combo, but the weather all year has been weird.

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Started another one

I got Mari to a crossroads in the wilderness and it poses a small geography problem. She needs to take all three options before her. I wrote one of them that allowed me to show a bit of setting and close the book on her former life. She made it back to the crossroads, and I want to think the next part over in more depth.

This meant it’s time to start on the next hat story. For some reason this one flowed better. It’s probably because I know the characters so well.

Here’s the shtick for this one. It opens with Lizzie working her dead end jobs in the wake of a disaster that happens in The Midnight Rambler. I’m still cognizant of keeping each volume as a stand alone title in the series.

A huge flood event is part of Midnight Rambler. I’m making sure to drop enough details so those who skip MR will be able to pick it right up in the next book. Those who read in order will see the continuity across the titles.

Since Lizzie lives in a basement apartment, it’s out of commission for repairs, so she’s temporarily living with Shade, her saxophone player. It’s a return favor from Lunar Boogie.

The FBI is asking for Lizzie’s help on a matter of national security. They’re forcing her into it by exposing a file on her previous goings on, then leveraging her unpaid student loans as a kind of payoff. It’s a crappy payoff, but it’s in keeping with the events of her regular life.

I may have mentioned it here, but never between the covers of the books. I never mention where Lizzie lives, because I want to make some of it up as I go. If I need a special park or event center, I don’t want to limit myself as to what actually exists. Having said that, here in author land, it’s basically St. Louis.

I found out the National Geospacial-Intelligence Agency has an important site in St. Louis. I won’t reveal the city in my story, but it fits my plan perfectly.

The NGIA is all about satellite photos, spy planes, and other geographical data. I added they can track ships at sea and a few other tidbits. They’re part of the US Intelligence network.

Turns out the NGIA has been invaded by gremlins. All Lizzie has to do is get rid of them in a big server farm.

Lizzie is living on disaster food stamps, disaster rental assistance, FEMA monies, and whatever else she can scrape together. I had some fun with her trying to sell timeshares and working for Uber Eats. Also had fun with the hat trying to sell timeshares.

I have a nice line about insurance coming up when she finally gets to the campus.

Let’s just say, I’m having a great time. Ran into a snag in writing Mari’s story in first person, then nearly starting Lizzie’s story in first person, too. Got over that after a couple of paragraphs.

I like writing two at once so I can keep making word count. I broke 3000 words on Lizzie’s next tale while dwelling on Mari’s next moves. Tomorrow is a good writing day, and I may bounce back and forth.

Not too bad for having accomplished nothing yesterday. Don’t feel at all bad about it either. It’s nice being ahead of the game.

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Just checking in

I haven’t updated in a while, because so much of my life is fairly routine. It isn’t like we have date night every weekend these days. There are some things folks might relate to.

Today is a day of chores. This found me crawling around on my hands and knees in the mud, but the sprinkler system is up and running now. Then I had to climb a couple of ladders to change lightbulbs in the garage. After that, I lugged some photos and paintings up to the attic. These were permanent fixtures at my office. Since we’re getting a new location we were told to bring everything home and expect limited room at the new place. I’m afraid a stark barren cubicle is in my future.

Old What’s Her Face and I decided to put out the patio furniture while we were at it. She also learned that some old vinyl records are valuable and had me look through our attic box. Turns out some of the more valuable ones we have twice. An artifact of getting married and each having a copy.

This doesn’t mean that we’re going to do whatever version of eBay exists for old records. They’ll probably stay in the attic since we no longer own a turntable.

As for writing, I started a new project. Yesterday’s word count came to over 1700. This will be a stand alone, and I shared my start with some friends who seem to like it.

I have most of a storyboard for this one, but it’s nice to be able to drift a bit during the process. One odd thing kind of surprised me. I needed a name for my main character. I outlined her as kind of a scrawny blonde of some kind. The kind who’s strong, but not muscular.

When it came down to it, she became a Cuban-American girl. Since this is somewhat post-apocalyptic, I don’t need to bleed a lot of Cuban culture into it. She’s a formerly American girl with an Hispanic look to her.

I’m glad my friends liked the start, because it will probably come out a bit darker and grittier than my usual fare. I’ve already killed two innocents in the first 1700 words.

I am a firm believer in light moments, and have a couple of animal characters I’m counting on to bring a bit of charm. Also, to make it one of my stories, I’m going to include a little magic. Since the setting is the former American South, it will be a bit of Voodoo.

This also marks a return to first person point of view for me. I love it for Will O’ the Wisp, and I’ve used it for several short stories, most notably about Jason Fogg. I think this will come across better as first person since much of the time Mari will be alone.

I have a tile I really like, because it pays homage to an old film favorite. I also have a mental block against it, because Once Upon a Time, seems to indicate something from the past. Granted it will be from Mari White’s past, and not necessarily our past. (Mariposa Rivas-White)

The working title is Once Upon a Time in the Swamp. I’d love to know what you guys think about this. I know titles don’t seem all that important during the drafting phase, but they really help me while writing.

I’m the guy who still needs a title for my space trilogy, and have two more volumes to figure that out. If you happen to be online today or tomorrow, I’d like to know what you think of my working title.

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From weird to productive

Today is my flex day, and I started off with no idea how it was going to go.

I’ve had 1.1 hours of comp time on the books for a couple of years now, so I decided to simply waste it and come home early last night. It was one of the best things I ever did. For some reason, I was wiped out going into the afternoon.

When I got home, I crawled into bed, freezing, and slept for over two hours. Old What’s Her Face even played ball with the dogs, and I didn’t stir. She said they tried bringing me their toys and I never woke up. She had to shake me to come to supper.

I wound up sleeping around eleven hours last night, and only woke up when Otto decided he was hungry. For whatever reason, I feel great today.

I wasn’t feeling particularly creative, but I wrote anyway. That’s what I have to do with sporadic times available to me. I snuck back in. Meaning I backed up a couple of chapters to do some light edits and get back into it.

Percy was in the process of blowing crap up, and that made it easier. I didn’t plan it that way, but it was a fortunate accident.

I finished the adventure part, then moved into the assessment phase. There’s really only a couple of things left to do before book one is finished.

This will leave me with a decision to make. I could write another Hat story, but I already have one in the can. It’s probably a better move to write something completely different. It would be a bit more grim than I’ve written lately, and a stand alone tale.

The word count came to almost exactly 2000 today, so I’m pretty pleased with it.

In other news, my peach tree is in full bloom. Earlier this week it would have made a great picture covered with snow and ice, but the overcast skies didn’t make for good photography. I snapped a quick one, then updated my background. I also changed my header for a different look. It’s Springtime now, so it was time to give the old blog a facelift.

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Word count and future ideas

I closed my iPad, then leaned back in my lounge chair. “That’s a wrap for today, folks.”

Lisa Burton, my robot assistant picked the twin ponytails from her hair. “Back to more Cicis tomorrow?”

“Probably.”

“You really need to get these girls some better clothes.”

“I did, but they tend to wear jumpsuits while they’re on the ship. We’re deep into the mission right now.”

Percy, the Space Chimp, perked up. “Not bad, dude. I’m finally in the shuttle and weapons are hot. I’m expecting to kick some major ass tomorrow.”

“Me, too. We’re nearly finished. You have two adventures left in this book and I should easily break eighty-thousand words.”

“Could be a lot bigger for science fiction.”

“True, but in this era people seem to like something shorter if it isn’t going to wrap in one book.”

“And we have three coming.”

“We’ll see. My first trilogy was popular until the final volume. Nobody wanted root monsters and Kung Fu after book two.”

He bolted upright on the couch. “Dude, don’t do that to me. I planned on three volumes.”

“That’s still the goal, but I might not release any of them until they’re completely finished. A tighter release schedule might help. It was a good day at 2800 words.”

“And, tomorrow we’re blowing the crap out of things?”

“That’s the plan. I gotta tell you, I’m thinking about starting something different.”

“Don’t do that. We’ve got what it takes.”

“I think so, too. I can always start another hat story. You were backup, then moved into primary position. I feel the need for a new secondary story. There are some stand alone ones I could write. There’s the revenge story that takes place in a post-apocalyptic swamp. One that’s an African adventure that still needs some black magic ideas. I even have one about Dash Goodman going on his quest to become a full member of the coven. It will involve a Native American girl and some of her lore, a stolen PBY floatplane, and summoning a fun familiar for him that I dreamed up.”

“Nobody wants to read that crap. A talking Space Chimp with a Human girlfriend working as a spy is what they want.”

“Relax. I still need Dash to be an apprentice for a few more years. What do you think about Dash Goodman & the Last of the Lava Men, or Mud Men, or something?”

“I think it sounds stupid. I could steal a ship and save you from writing it. Show you some real adventure, too.”

“There’s also the Detroit story. Tons of abandoned homes and two kids playing Indianna Jones stumble across something more serious.”

“We could go back to the fleet graveyard and find some antiquated garbage, too.”

“Calm down. We’ll work together tomorrow. Dash Goodman needs a serious outline to chase a McGuffin, and so does the Detroit thingie.

“I won’t let you down. I promise.”

“I wonder how I’d look as an Indian Princess?” Lisa asked.

“Probably too blonde, and it’s going to be a modern setting. She’s Salish, so I’d need to do some research before I could start. Feels like something two or three years down the line.”

“Will we be done by then?” Percy asked.

“I think so. I still have to weave other things into my schedule. Sometimes I work better with a side project. I’m just warning you it could happen.”

“Good talk, but let’s see where tomorrow takes us. Maybe you’ll get so fired up you don’t want a side story.”

“Maybe, but I wouldn’t count on it.”

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Buncha Random Stuff

I was going to write this like a Writing Cabin post, but there’s more to it than that allows.

I don’t often talk about it, but the way I work involves planning out multiple stories in my head, sometimes years before I can start writing them. When I surf the Internet, it’s usually with a purpose. Sometimes I add things to my Pinterest boards that I won’t need for years. If you look at The Hat board you’ll see things that haven’t been in any of the books, but will be at some point.

I was searching for a magical virus or something with the idea of providing a bit of humor to a future Hat story. One of the characters who gets introduced in Good Liniment is somewhat destined to become Lizzie’s friend. She’s a younger witch with plant based magic named Joyeux.

Randomly thinking it might be fun for Lizzie to come down with something stupid that Joyeux has to help her with. No plot, nothing that major. Then I stumbled upon something called Jumping Frenchmen of Maine. It’s a real disorder from the 1800s. I have a story roughed out involving St. Vitus’ Dance, and while this isn’t the same thing, it’s close enough to explain a magical antagonist’s arrival in North America. I might not ever write that story, but it was an interesting discovery.

PS: Do enough people know what a dibble is for me to make it a magical artifact from Joyeux’s past? Would I have to explain it with some depth?

Other than that, I added about 1200 to the nameless space trilogy. I had to physically weave between the boxes that have invaded the only private space I have, but it feels productive. It’s like writing inside a kid’s blanket fort in here.

I have a major concern about these words. Percy and Buffer have a shared history. They’ve been together since before the story opened as veterans who served aboard the same ship. They’re both disabled veterans now, and helped each other through the rough times.

I’ve done pretty well at keeping the situation flirty between them. Made simple enough because she’s a human and he’s a Space Chimp. Today, they put all their cards on the table and this poses multiple problems for me.

First, I’m not a romance author. I don’t seem to have that gene, but these aren’t romantic characters either. Am I crazy for even attempting this?

Second, I did this at 70,000 words. It’s not insta-love, but is it too soon if I can make this a trilogy? Would I be better served milking it until the last volume? It accomplishes a major step toward Percy’s evolution or character arc.

I also set this up with some backstory of how they became disabled veterans in the first place. I know we’re all supposed to hate backstory, but it feels really good where I plopped it. It’s an interesting tale, and it’s not in chapter one. It’s at 70K. I don’t feel bad about it at all here.

I need to come up with something new for Story Empire. Now that my Easter Egg post is live, it won’t take long for my turn to come around again. I have something roughed out, but I’m not sure I like it. What I really need is another series of some kind, like the one I posted about the Hero’s Journey. Maybe I can edit what I have into something presentable.

I’ll probably make a couple of editing passes on the nameless story, and look over the future SE post the same way.

I really need to come up with a title, but I want something reflective across the broader trilogy. I would like something like “Of X & Y,” where X & Y are variables across all three books. “Of Clay Pots & Clones” doesn’t quite sound right to me. Is that a catchy title for the first book? I’m at a loss here. “Of Spies & Clones” ??? One of you authors or big-time readers let me know if you would check the blurb on a title like this. The cover art will sell it as science fiction.

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