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It’s time

Otto woke me up around 6:00 this morning by putting his huge wet head across my forehead. When he gets like this, it’s usually best to get up and feed him,

After dog chores, and making a bit of coffee, I headed for the writing cabin.

I radioed ahead and Lisa was ready for me. She already had her pirate gear on. I breezed past her and made for my office.

After a quick check of social media, and baseball standings, I stared up into a pair of malignant black eyes.

Doubt opened his wings and sailed off his perch, landing on my desk. He made one of those guttural throaty noises only a raven can make.

“I get it,” I said. “It’s time to get on with it.” I opened up the manuscript for Voyage of the Lanternfish.

Doubt croaked at me as I read the first page. I found a couple of wordy passages and fixed them.

These weren’t direct enough, and the repairs helped me get into a deeper point of view.

I kept going.

Doubt interrupted me a few places, and I gave most passages a second thought. I didn’t fix many.

“Not this time, buddy. I have a lot of things to doubt in my life, but this manuscript isn’t one of them. I like this story, and you aren’t going to cloud it up for me this time.”

I kept moving. By the time the day ended, I’d moved through 187 pages. This likely doesn’t mean much, because all writers write differently. My style is a lot of white space on the page. I’ll likely have more pages than some other author.

It took most of the day, but it was a good day. Doubt tried his best to put me off his game, but it didn’t work.

I have tomorrow off too, and intend to keep going. This is a good story, and I want to have it ready as soon as I recover a bit of promotion money.

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A small update

I sat at my desk and did some blog chores. I scheduled a post for a guest, assembled and scheduled another interview, and responded to an additional inquiry.

I got up and carried my iPad to the paranormal office, turned the skeleton key, and went down three steps onto the cold stone floor. The gargoyle in the corner looked like an old friend. I placed my hat on its head, crossed the pentagram inlayed into the floor, and rolled open the top on Patty Hall’s old desk.

There are already a couple of micro fiction pieces on my disk, so I reviewed those. They aren’t great, but they have the bones of something better. One of them has a bit of a science fiction thing going for it, but that’s okay for Halloween.

Still, they could be better. They could always be better. I needed at least a couple more ideas to pull off Macabre Macaroni this year.

Lisa came in wearing her full pirate regalia. “There you are, matey. I thought you were in your office.”

“This is my office too, technically.”

“True. I just got a text from Lorelei. She’s going to be stopping by.”

“If there were ever a time for the Muse to show up, it’s this weekend. Why are you still wearing your pirate gear?”

“We both know it’s just a matter of time before you decide to start editing. Doubt the raven has been hyperactive lately. He knows it’s coming too.”

“Sometimes I wish Lorelei had given me a different animal. One that means cash and lots of it. Some kind of golden goose or something. Don’t they have those on Olympus?”

Lorelei swung around the doorframe. She wore a blue summer dress, and her brunette hair spread clear to her shoulders. “Are we feeling a little overworked today?”

“Yeah, in some ways. I have lots to do, and I don’t seem to be getting everything accomplished.”

“Is that a new perm?” Lisa asked.

“Yes. You like it?”

I leaned back in my chair so they could get all the girl talk out of their systems. I may have emitted a small sigh.

“Okay, look. I know you have tons of ideas,” Lorelei said. “I’m no slacker in that department. What seems to be the problem?” She moved to the couch and patted the seat beside her.

I sat beside her, but stayed rigid. She leaned into my side. The sandalwood she always wore was intoxicating.

“I don’t have a bunch of great ideas at micro length. I have at least three that will work at novel length, and two that might make good novellas, but need about three that will work for Macabre Macaroni. Then I need to–”

She placed a perfectly manicured finger to my lips. “You’re just out of practice. Take stock for a minute. You’ve done your blog chores. You have a couple of micros, and maybe the raven can help you with them. Something will come to you. It always does.”

“I’m supposed to be reading, editing, and spending some quality time with BookBub too. When am I supposed to do all that?”

“You have four days. Pace yourself and it will all get finished.” She leaned in and kissed my cheek. “It doesn’t matter what you work on. You’re working and things are forging ahead. Now, I’m going to catch up with Lisa and leave you to it.”

I went back to the desk and stared at a blank page for a few seconds, but not before watching her walk away. Then I wrote out a story about a cell phone app that seemed to fit the coming season. To be honest, I like it better than the two I already have. A Muse is a wonderful thing. She doesn’t have to say a word, and the ideas just show up.

I checked my calendar, and I need two more by the middle of October. There really is time for everything. Sometimes I get angry with myself when I think I should have gotten more accomplished.

I’ll earmark some specific time for BookBub after I call my parents tomorrow. That will be my priority. If there is time remaining, I’ll go back over the micros I have and see if I can make them better. Then I may actually open one of those books I’ve been promising to read. Monday will be for whatever’s left. Maybe I can get the next interview settled.

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Now what?

I got to the writing cabin late today. Old What’s Her Face had to work and the dogs let me sleep in. Since this never happens, I took full advantage.

Lisa Burton sat in the front office drinking a bottle of peroxide.

“Stop! What are you doing? Don’t you know that stuff’s poisonous?”

“Really, after all this time you don’t understand the robot part of robot-girl?”

“Then why?”

“I’ve been out stumping for Quantum Wanderlust. The hosts usually have tea or some kind of special snacks. I eat it to be polite, but my holding tank needs cleaned on occasion.” She stepped from behind her desk wearing yet another new knee length dress; black with white polka dots. She proceeded to cartwheel across the office floor.

I turned away as her dress flipped up. “Stop! Nobody wants to see that.”

“Marilyn Monroe made a statement when her dress blew up.” She placed her hands on her hips. “Would you be more comfortable if I jumped up and down instead?”

“No, I don’t think that would make me comfortable at all.” I wrapped my hand around my beard. “Tell you what. I’m going to my office and you can do whatever you need to do – out here.”

“Fine. I can’t go around smelling like I have halitosis.”

I stomped off to my office and got started. Today was singularly unproductive to be honest. I pulled up my collection of storyboards and all of them need some work. I intend to write another novella next, but want to dive deep into another novel right on its heels. Neither storyboard is ready for prime time.

Storyboarding is my way of outlining. I always write faster with a good outline/storyboard. This means I need some solid daydreaming time. I may have to turn off the radio during my commutes, because that usually attracts the Muse. I have some great ideas, some fun vignettes, even some good characters, but no story yet. At least not ones I’m content with.

I feel bad about it, because I’ve only put out The Enhanced League this year. Enhanced League did great for about two weeks then flatlined. Yak Guy is close to ready, but I want to try something different with it. Here I am facing October, usually my best month of the year, with nothing new to promote. I’m going to push some of the older stuff, and I might come up with something for the baseball playoffs. Maybe I should have started on The Hat sooner and gotten it ready for an October release. Fact is, I didn’t so there’s no use dwelling on it.

My mind is in a weird place too. I got another great review for Panama today, and Quantum Wanderlust is starting to get a few reviews. Sales are kind of dismal though. There are so many free and 99¢ titles available I don’t know what else to try to get readers. It isn’t really about the money, but it would be nice to cover the expenses in putting the books out.

I never actually step away, but this is as close as I’m going to get. I need some time with my thoughts, but those thoughts are going to be about my storyboards so I can keep writing stories. I will try to come up with something that resembles a plot and character arc for the storyboards I have. This may take a few days or it may take a few weeks. No telling.

While that’s going on, I have a list of short stories I could dabble at. It never hurts to have a few of those in the bank, and they could lead to a future Experimental Notebook.

Regrouping for me. Do any of you ever get to this phase? I never see other authors talking about it.

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A good writing day

I landed out at the writing cabin at quarter to seven. I moved the little gyrocopter to the elevator and went in through the basement. It's still too dark to risk walking to the back door out here, and I didn't need the mammoth migration to decide my gyro looked like a good butt scratcher.

Lisa* had the office all ready for me, and handed me some coffee as I passed through the kitchen.

Yak guy wound up rescuing the children, now he has to figure out what to do with them. It's a long way to safety, and there is no home to return to. It was a good section, and I got about 2500 words in. We killed the bad guys yesterday, and today was a toning down that brought new problems. Now there's the possibility of more bad guys out there, being discovered by them, facing the wilderness, and keeping a bunch of kids safe and sound.

I weaved my hands behind my head and reflected on it – for about three seconds.

“Hey, you kids, put that down. Get out of the paranormal office. Yes, that's sharp.”

“Lisa, what's going on out there?”

“You wrote all these kids into existence, and I can't watch them all.”

“Can you get Yak Guy to help?”

“He's trying, but they're everywhere at once.”

“Run them all outside, and position them like a baseball team.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yup. It's nice out, and I'm going to write another Enhanced League story. They can fill in while we work on dialog.”

I moved my iPad to the deck, and looked at the position players. Our grass was dead, long, and muddy, but I used my imagination and hacked my way through. Lisa fetched some equipment from the basement, and she and Yak Guy each fielded a team. The yak himself served as the umpire, and the kids actually listened to him.

It wound up qualifying as a short story, and not a micro, so I felt pretty good about that too. If you add them together the word count is the best I've done for a while. If you include this post, it will break 5000 words.

I put my hat back on, and put my iPad away.

“Hold it, buster. Where are you're going?”

“Home. All this ball playing reminds me that I need to play some too, with Otto.”

“What am I supposed to do with all these kids?”

“I don't know. Make them clean your radio studio?”

“My studio, and the cabin are spotless.”

“Make them play baseball until they're all tired.”

“I don't even have enough food for all of them, and where are they going to sleep?”

“They aren't picky. I wrote them a bunch of tents, put them in there.”

“Right, with all the creepy stuff that wanders around this cabin, I'll have to guard them all night.”

“It isn't like you sleep anyway.”

“I still need to recharge, and I like to take a bubble bath at night. What then?”

“Look, you're going to have to improvise. You have the yak, and Yak Guy Ted can help too.”

“Fine, but after these books are drafted, I'm putting in for some leave.”

“You should. We'll be in edit and beta mode and you can get away then.”

“I will too. Don't think I won't.”

“Okay, bye. Good day today.”

Whatever.”

*Lisa Burton is my personal assistant, and the spokesmodel for my writing career. She's also a robot, and makes regular appearances on the blog and in cyberspace.

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A day of celebration

I got to the writing cabin late today. I have family responsibilities on Sundays, and won't shirk those. I went into my office and started on all the things a writer has to keep up with.

I answered several emails, checked Twitter and Facebook, then proceeded to WordPress. Lisa* brought me some coffee, and I looked away from the computer. “Guess who just won a Planetary Award?”

“I don't know, who?”

“Me. My short story, Something in the Water, won a Planetary Award over at Planetary Defense Command.”

“Oh.”

“I thought you'd be more excited. I'm excited.”

“It would have been nice to have Bombshell Squad win something.”

“I get your point, but Something in the Water was a fun story, and it caught the judge's attention. Besides, you've been getting plenty of attention. Wild Concept sold some copies during its 99¢ sale, and the UK sale is still going on. They may even surpass the US store.”

“I suppose. It's just that you've grown as a writer. Bombshell Squad is a little better writing than Wild Concept.”

“I don't get your point. Something in the Water is just as recent, and reflects the same amount of growth as a writer.”

“Should we celebrate, or something?”

“I think we should. We'll get the enchanted beer horns filled up and drink them dry. Make sure you post a picture of the haunted biplane on the blog too. People may want it for a phone background, or even a computer. Besides, you're in the picture, and some people might like that too.”

“That's a good idea. I love my flight jacket.” Her eyelashes fluttered, and I knew she was online.

Lisa scowled. “I have some bad news too. It looks like someone held a kegger out at the island. They defaced the Moai with spray paint and left garbage everywhere.”

“That sucks, why do people have to act like that?”

“Don't know. Do you want me to take a sandblaster out there and try to clean it up?”

“No. Today we celebrate. Drop a note to the National Park Service fairies. They'll take care of it.”

“You're not going to make those poor fairies scrub those giant statues, are you?”

“It's kind of their job, but no. They use dermestid beetles.”

Lisa's eyelashes fluttered again as she searched the Internet. “Gross, those are the kind of beetles scientists use to strip bones clean.”

“Right, they use them for museum displays. I think even the cops use them to study the bones of murder victims. The fairies keep a large herd of them, because they eat garbage and even spray paint.”

<Snort>

“What?”

“Do the fairies use tiny little dehorning saws and branding irons?”

“I have no idea. I'll bet they have an informational page on their website. You should check it out.”

“I'm going to, and if they don't I'm going to shoot them an email.”

“For right now, let's celebrate.” I whistled for the enchanted beer horns, and they both trumpeted. Lisa filled them up while they wagged their tails and helped us celebrate. Lisa doesn't need to eat or drink, so I'll probably empty both of them myself.

*Lisa is my robotic personal assistant, and the spokesmodel for my books. She even has her own Facebook Page.

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A little forward momentum

I got to the writing cabin early today. A light layer of fog covered the meadow as I walked inside. Lisa* handed me a cup of coffee and I went straight to my office.

I read my last two chapters this time. I have a thing about reading my last chapter before I start every time. There is a lot going on at this point in the story. Characters are meeting for the first time, and the maguffin changed hands several times. It seemed appropriate to reread two chapters.

I'm glad I did. I had a continuity with the maguffin going into a bag, then being removed from a pocket. I fixed it, along with some missing quotation marks, and some extra ones I managed to get in there. You know how it happens. You write a bunch of dialog, and automatically start the next paragraph with quotation marks.

My heroine participated in an abduction she never wanted. Then she had to imprison the poor guy, but had no idea how. Fortunately, her helper had some ideas.

I changed point of view to the abductee. He isn't up to full speed, but he's gaining fast. He's already tried to escape twice, and is determined to go through the wall via brute force.

“Hi, Dad. Is today your day off?”

I decided to use the heavy porcelain cover from the back of the toilet to let my character work his way through the wall. I'm going to present it from the heroine's POV so it's kind of a surprise. (Why do I tell you readers these things in advance?)

“I have to go in to work, but not until later. I wound up tearing off two of my fingernails, and need to reapply them. Blah, blah, blah…”

My heroine is a doctor, but not anymore. Maybe she could use some sodium pentothal.

“You ought to hear the new words everyone is saying now. It's 'en fleek', it's kind of like saying 'on point.' It's so funny we were at school and…

Lisa grabbed my coffee cup. “See you next time.” The walls dissolved, and I wound up plopped in my living room. Writing opportunity had come to a screeching halt.

I wound up with seven new pages of material. It's forward momentum, but nowhere near what I had planned. So tiny yay for me.

Back to the paycheck job tomorrow. I still need to finish things between heroine and anti-hero, which ought to take about one chapter. Then I need a chapter of closure for the character who represents all the victims in this tale. I want to show some healing, but a long road remaining for her. I may have to adjust this because of her age.

I hope to finish this first draft soon, but with all the interruptions it might take another month.

* Lisa is the main character in Wild Concept. She's a robot who helps me around the writing cabin these days.

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Somebody stop me!

Today is my rotating day off. I got to the writing cabin early this morning. Lisa* had the coffee on, and a fire in my office fireplace. She had on her racing jacket, a short skirt, and heels.

I fired up my computer, and started re-reading my last chapter. I start every writing session this way. It was time for the good guys to recover the mcguffin.

But first… I ought to check WordPress. My service was sporadic, annoyingly so. It was almost like a sine wave of service. Catch it on the peak, and pages loaded – catch it in the valley, and everything stalled. It was so annoying, I started writing.

Lisa went about her chores and left me in peace.

Lisa loves the Will O' the Wisp

I must be past the dreaded middle. I started off with a trip across the city to recover the mcguffin. Once those characters recovered it, I changed to another character.

This character learned about mojo hands, dumped a gun barrel in the Mississippi, and went after the mcguffin himself.

When they met up it devolved into fisticuffs. Well, one punch, but the fist was the size of a milk jug.

Things got a little strange trying to stay in one perspective. I had to use *** breaks to explain what each character was doing as they got to their automobiles.

I wrote my first car chase scene. It was kind of short, but sometimes I think Hollywood carries things too far. At some point the police would show up.

Lisa came to check on me. “Are you about ready for a break?”

“Not right now, I’m on a roll.” I turned back to my writing.

She refreshed my cold coffee and left.

There were a couple of near misses in the car chase, then I destroyed one of the cars. A character died. A dog got scared. (Hey, he’s a character too.)

“I think the beer horns are about ready for beer time,” Lisa said.

“Not now, I need to get this idea down. I’ll be done in a minute.”

I got my survivors to the hospital. “Lisa! I need you to put on a suit and read some lines.” I heard her thunder upstairs.

She returned in her brown suit. “Ready. What am I this time.”

“An attorney.” I handed her my iPad. “Read this.”

She repeated the lines.

“No, no, no. That’s too cheerful. Try to be a little more forceful, bitchier even.”

She tried once more, and postured during the forceful points.

“Better, I need to change it.” I went back to writing.

“Are you sure you’re okay? You seem a little bit crazy today.”

I managed a maniacal laugh, and kept typing. My antihero spent some time in a roadside cafe, and managed to put two and two together. He’s been working for the bad guy all along. This isn’t going to end well for someone.

Lisa rattled around in the hallway. “Go on in there. You guys can be a little bit early today.” The enchanted beer horns ran into my office blasting their baritone notes in my ears.

“Wait, I need my heroine to feel bad now. She has to take responsibility for what happened.”

Lisa held up a growler of nice brown ale. “Look, beer. Mmmm. You like beer.”

“Yeah but.”

“Don’t you have Rafflecopter prizes to deliver?”

“But emotions. My heroine has to feel bad.”

She filled the horns with beer. “Oooh! It’s so cold and frothy. I’ll bet it’s good too.”

“But the internet sucks right now.”

“Okay, I’ll boost your signal. Come on, you can feed your plants some sardines. You always like it when they snap thing up.”

I picked up one of the beers and drank deeply. “Okay. I guess I can stop for the day. I managed 6500 words, and could have gotten more.”

“I know you could, but you’re getting weird. It’s time to walk away for the day.”

*Lisa is the main character in Wild Concept. She’s a robot and helps me around the writing cabin these days.

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