Tag Archives: writing

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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Too many windows

I generally only have one or two windows open at a time. Recently, it’s gotten kind of crazy. I’m working on two manuscripts at once, so when I find something interesting or informative, I currently leave that window open. Beats adding a bunch of bookmarks when I only need them temporarily.

Let’s take a look at them, just for a laugh.

Entertaining Stories – you are here.

Facts about Potassium Iodide – used for radiation poisoning

Google window -for saltwater taffy

Recipe – for saltwater taffy – vehicle for Potassium Iodide

Google translate – for English to Spanish

Biography site – about a lady named Madeleine Mellinger. I was looking for a cool name, but I like the history, too. Probably just call mine Mad Mellinger. She could be a little mad.

Google Window – how to make kombucha

Site – what is a SCOBY

Google window – culturing beer yeast

Biology site – toad trilling sounds

Site – yeast ranching

Google window – mother of vinegar

Site – Eastern diamondback rattlesnake

As I use data from these sites, I will close the windows. At that point, I usually add notes to my cast of characters, that way I will have a smaller, more pertinent, line or two about the subject.

It’s too many windows, but I intend to close a few of them over the upcoming holiday weekend.

It might surprise some of you to find that speculative authors also do a ton of research. I reserve the right to change some of it up, but want to know the basics before I do.

How many windows do you currently have open?

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That’s a wrap

Vacation is over. I had three projects to deal with, and only accomplished a project-and-a-half.

We got our daughter relocated to her new apartment, and that took a few days. (One for recovery. Part of one to exchange furniture and get the replacement to her.)

I don’t feel like this was a squandering of my leave time. I spent plenty of time goofing off because I wanted to. It’s taken me years to learn something that’s probably obvious to the rest of you, but I’m allowed to just relax and do fun things occasionally.

I’ll do my best to complete that project for a friend, but I’m halfway finished. I’ll dedicate next weekend to that with some real focus.

After that, I want to read through The Midnight Rambler from start to finish. I haven’t looked at it for a while, so relatively fresh eyes could really help the story.

Beyond that, everything is kind of loose ideas. I’m bound to start another story, and might even start two. I also need to come up with some artwork for Midnight Rambler, at least in my mind.

I might not get it all done next weekend either, but I’ll move the chains somehow.

For now, it’s back to the grind with some focus on what my job requires. I’m going to be way behind, and it might take the first couple of days just to catch up. I will, somehow.

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That was unexpected

Let’s start with the good stuff and updates. I’m seeing some sales for Good Liniment, and I hope everyone is enjoying it. There are even some pages read for Wreck of the Lanternfish. Glad I figured out it wasn’t on Kindle Unlimited. Probably cost me some sales, but it works now.

Whatever disgusting plague I had seems to be over now. I ate the equivalent of one meal over a period of a week, just so I could get up every morning to see how I felt before calling in sick. On Friday, I made it to work, but didn’t accomplish much beyond the backlog of crap. Forge ahead on Monday.

I even skipped my corned beef in exchange for two of the golf ball sized red potatoes that are part of the meal. Once I got home Friday night, I remedied that. Rumor is corned beef hash for breakfast tomorrow.

I spent a little time updating my blog. The new cover is linked in the sidebar now. I finally got it onto Goodreads, too. Just all those fiddly things that have to get finished.

I even managed to spend some time with Percy the Space Chimp today. I didn’t keep track, but it was slow going. No more than 1000 words or so. Finished a chapter at least.

That was when it was time to address the new problems. Roommate issues in Sun Valley caused our daughter to take a leave of absence, then move back to Boise. We rented her a U-Haul, then spent the afternoon unloading it here and lugging things upstairs. I also have some of her crap in my office, which is going to get more use with more people here. I left myself a path to my chair and put my headphones on charge. I’m having water now, and a preemptive Aleve.

I’ve been calendaring and sending out blog tour posts sporadically. I can only keep up with about two per week. My days of hitting multiple sites per day, or five days per week are over. I’ll keep pecking away at that, but I have all my volunteers lined up.

Our daughter’s plan is to look for a place back in her area and keep her job. Real estate in Sun Valley is ridiculous, so that dream might die hard. Fingers crossed for her, but there are a lot of jobs around here that pay as much or more than she currently makes. Some of them are even at our airport.

Jackson the cat is back, and I kind of like him.

Tomorrow is likely to be busy and noisy around here, so I don’t think much more will get done on the author front. Hope all of you have having fun somewhere, or being productive as you choose.

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Odd Word Metrics

I spent my morning trying to write promotional materials for the eventual release of Good Liniment.

It’s not the same as new fiction, but I got five posts roughed out. It probably doesn’t reach 2500 new words, but it’s fairly close. To finish them, I would need a blurb and some links. Those details will come later.

I ordered three new Lisa Burton posters for this release, and they came out wonderful. Sean Harrington really outdid himself on them, and they reflect items from the story. That made posts where she visits someone fairly easy to write.

I should have about that many more before I’m ready, then I need to figure out where I want to take this tour. I’ve done so many of these over the years they can be kind of tiring. I’m excited about the story, but not about promo. Probably a flaw in my personality.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the comments and responding, it just doesn’t work as well during the work week. I’m even considering some vacation time so I can be present in the moment, but work is too crazy right now.

I might even get a couple more written tonight, but I’m not committed to the idea.

This is the spot where I would usually insert a musical teaser for one of The Hat books. I try to hold back the posters for my hosts, but can’t resist sharing one today. They came out so good this time.

Lisa is taking Noodles for a walk in this picture. If you’d like to learn more about Noodles, you’ll have to come along when the tour starts, or even read the book. It’s coming soon, I promise.

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Just Rambling

Since it was payday, Old What’s Her Face and I had date night Friday. We decided to try a new place. It’s fancy and they did a good job on the building. It was the mirror opposite of the burger joint we visited two weeks ago.

If you remember, I finished a burger the size of my head and thought I was going to die. Friday I ordered grilled ahi. It was supposed to come with black rice, spinach, corn salsa, and avocado.

The tuna was sliced and spread across the bed containing everything else. If you reassembled it, it would be about 3” x 3” and 3/4 inch thick. The black rice looked really cool, but tasted like dirt. No seasonings of any kind. There were two spinach leaves, a spoonful of corn, and I swear to God, one piece of avocado about the size of a sugar cube.

I mentioned this last time, but restaurants seem to find those extremes these days. Way too much, or not enough. The tuna was great, I’ll give them that much. For the price of my ahi, I could have bought three burgers the size of my head.

We’ve been watching some shows on the premium services. I watched a Netflix vampire movie this evening. Why does a skinny female vampire lift a huge man off his feet with one hand, but later in the film struggle to drag a wounded ally away before the sun rises?

Also, why does every damned vampire story seem to have a character named Victor or Viktor? Pay attention and you’ll notice it, too.

I introduced an alien woman in my WIP and named her Taisiya. I found it in a naming list and thought it was cool. Try actually spelling it the same way twice when it comes up every third page or so.

My WIP also has a character named Auburn. Do you know how many damned times I’ve typed out Amber? I finally did a word search to fix them all to this point.

I caught a couple of times where I wanted the Snakeworks, but wrote out the Skunkworks instead. Have to dodge that one, because it’s a real place. Word search to the rescue again.

I really try to take this stuff seriously and bring new things to the table. I worry about low-hanging fruit and try to shake things up. If I ever write a vampire named Victor, just shoot me.

We checked out the first couple episodes of Endgame. Truthfully, I watched it for Morena Baccarin. Old What’s Her Face probably had a different reason. Honestly, it’s really fun. It’s so complicated I can’t see it having a long run, but I’m going to stick with it.

Managed a tiny bit of writing today, and my damned crew still hasn’t left the Snakeworks. I never intended to get a lot done today, but there are a couple-three interesting things that happened there. Percy and Buffer are disabled veterans. She has a prosthetic arm, and his is only a finger. They are very close, so I had them wake up together after a drunken debacle.

Percy is a genetically engineered Space Chimp, and she’s a human. I wrote it such that nothing happened, but it changes their dynamic. I’m going to try getting some mileage out of the term, “Mostly Human.” Genetically, he’s close. Physically, she’s referring to her missing arm. Buffer’s really hung up about the stump of her arm.

Hope I can do something creative with it. Maybe they can have a discussion where it comes up, then he can buy her a necklace that say’s “Mostly Human,” or something. I’m still dwelling on it. Hope I can make it good.

I have a Sunday regular thing where I call my parents. It’s just Mom now, but I call her every Sunday. Maybe after that I can finally send my fictional crew back to space.

Hope all of you are having a great weekend. Leave me some comments. What do you think about character names, off-beat lovers, Morena Baccarin (Loved her since V).? Anything, really.

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How to not get anything accomplished

I wound up at the writing cabin not really knowing what I was going to do. Lisa was ready in her spacesuit, and Percy the Space Chimp seemed excited.

I opened the project, which still needs a name. A transition scene forced me to take things a little slower. We managed around 200 words.

Lisa pinched the bridge of her nose. “You’re about to have company.”

“How do you know?” Percy asked.

She pointed at herself. “Robot girl. I’m patched into the doorbell camera.” Lisa headed for the door before they could ring.

I hoped beyond reason that Lisa could get rid of them. Maybe buy me a box of Girl Scout Cookies. Didn’t work out that way.

Consultia and Libraria barged into the room. They were followed by Wiki, who peeked around her sisters and wriggled her fingers.

“Oh, no! I have a project in the works. I don’t need the Research Sirens right now.”

Consultia, a stunning black girl in a scoop-necked dress, said, “I disagree. You have two hat stories in the can, and you’re working on a space opera that could take a couple of years.”

Blonde bombshell Libraria peered over her glasses. “You need something else brewing. Your fans are going to want something unique before the space opera is ready.”

Wiki pulled out her iPad Mini, touched an app, then a huge beanbag chair in the shape of a panda head appeared. As she flopped in the seat, her red A-line bob danced seductively. “I’m ready. What are we researching?”

“That’s a cool app,” Percy said.

Wiki wrinkled her nose, then patted the chair beside her for him to sit down.

Consultia put an arm around me. Hair from her huge ’do tickled my ear. “We should talk about Detroit.” She steered me toward the couch.

“It’s just a loose idea. All the abandoned homes and businesses might be the site for an adventure.”

Libraria leaned back on the couch, then crossed her legs over my lap, leaving one stiletto heel dangling. “Characters?”

“Well, I thought I might use junior high aged kids. A boy, and a mixed race girl to explore all the buildings.”

Wiki wrinkled her nose. “It could be like Indiana Jones, and the abandoned parts are their temples.”

“I like that. I’ll need a McGuffin of some kind.”

Libraria pulled a gigantic book from thin air. “The complete history of Detroit. After you finish it, I can find you some others.”

Wiki held up her iPad. “How about this court case. This couple stole all kinds of things from the National Archives. Your kids might go looking for stuff that was never recovered.”

Percy leaned over her shoulder for a look. “That was fast.”

“Sirens are magical beings.” Wiki handed him one of her friendship bracelets.

Conversia ran a manicured nail down my chest. “We should go to Detroit to see this with our own eyes. You’ll need foils of some kind, and we can visit street gangs, druggies, and politicians. I can lead a dialog amongst you so you can get all the data you need.”

“We could explore the Detroit music scene while we’re there,” I suggested.

Libraria glared over her frames. “Wrong story.”

“Okay, but how will this be one of my stories? I don’t see science fiction, fantasy, or paranormal fitting in here.”

Consultia said, “Something will come to you. We can stay in Detroit for a few months if we need. Maybe I can get you an appointment with the Nain Rouge.”

“Who?”

Percy shot to his feet. “Wait, wait, wait! What about my story? You can’t just abandon me.”

Lisa brought in coffee and mugs for everyone. “That’s their trap. They crash an author’s career on the rocks. Craig knows this.”

Wiki frumped. “Sounds kind of mean when you say it like that.”

Lisa put a hand on her hip. “We aren’t going to Detroit, and he’s not reading that huge book. In fact, we’re going back to the space opera and letting all this stew for a few months. There’s probably a story here, but he can’t go away forever to research mindless things you might throw in his path.”

Conversia let my head bounce across her bosom, landing in her lap. “Killjoy.”

“I like you girls. I really do, but he has to stay on task. He’ll think about it. I promise.”

Libraria swiveled her legs back to the floor. “I’m sure there’s a nice champagne brunch somewhere near a quality shoe store. Are you coming?”

Lisa looked at me as she fidgeted.

“Go ahead. I’ll hang out with Percy and we’ll see what we come up with.”

Squeee!” Lisa dashed from the room to change her clothes.

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Switching stories again

Percy, the Space Chimp, leaped off the couch at the writing cabin as I entered. He regaled me with a recap of his visit to the warehouse and Ray Dongas who rules the place. He paused at the entrance to the paranormal office.

Lisa Burton, my robot PA waited inside. She wore a rain slicker and a sou’wester hat, but insisted on heels to go with them. Not so much the strawberry-blonde bombshell today as just cute.

“Wait a minute. What’s happening here?” Percy asked.

The hat atop Lisa’s head spoke. “Not your turn today, slick.”

I put a hand on Percy’s shoulder. “That’s how it works around here. Sometimes I need to give a story some time. You guys are gallivanting around the secret space city, but I need to figure out how much exploration is entertaining, and when to send you on the next leg of your adventure. Science fiction needs a bit of world building, but there’s a limit to it. This city will come back around in your tale, so I could get away with a bit more.”

“Come on, dude. I got a new shuttle I need to try out.”

“And, you will. Today isn’t the day. I need to ponder your next moves. Today is all about The Midnight Rambler.”

The hat said, “Take a break, kid. I’ve been through this a lot of times. You get used to it eventually. The Olympics are on somewhere. Maybe you can check those out.”

Lisa found a place on the couch, then crossed her legs. “What’s with all the rain in this story?”

“Couple of reasons. It’s big enough to be an obstacle to Lizzie’s success, and I have a secret plot to ruin her car.”

“She loves that car. Why would you do that to her?”

“Maybe she’s in line for a different car someday. Besides, it’s true to life. Lizzie struggles with her meaningless jobs, bills that never end, and trying to perform with her band. A paranormal tale needs some level of reality so people can relate. Then there’s the fact that some cool rain type songs have been made. Those can make it into her playlist.”

The hat spoke up. “She’s my partner, so I’m telling her. What are you going to do about her boyfriend?”

“I’m not telling you anything after that last comment. I’m still trying to make this a series of stand-alone noveloids. Anything that drifts across the titles has to be something the next book doesn’t have to explain.”

“Come on, you can tell me. I’m the hat.”

“No. I don’t think so. Success has been sparse on this caper. She can’t count on Kevin the vampire, and the Rambler is dug in to make her crazy. We’re going to initiate a few clues today that will nudge the end game forward.”

“It’s about time. She’s already crazy enough. This monster has to have an army at his disposal by now, and we’re going to have to slug our way through them to get to him. Maybe we can figure out a way to draw him out.”

“Maybe, but I don’t see it working that way. In fact, you’re going to have a little talk with her about how that last second victory only happens in the movies. Sometimes things don’t work out in the real world.”

“Well, I don’t like the sound of it. Is this going to be the Greek tragedy you’re always talking about?”

“That would be cool. Maybe I’ll give that some thought.”

The hat groaned.

Lisa took him off and placed him on the end table. “Relax. He’s already told you about his plan for a new car. If everyone dies, there’s no need for that.”

“Maybe, just the boyfriend dies. That could work.” The hat wobbled to look at my reaction.

“What do you think of this song?”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“That reminds me. I need to see what kind of help disaster areas really offer. Lizzie can’t work anywhere except where her band plays. The diner’s flooded and landscaping is at a standstill. Even her basement apartment has water inside.”

“Does this mean the Research Sirens are coming back here?” Lisa asked.

“Could happen.”

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Chipping away at things

I’ve mistreated this blog horribly this year. We haven’t done a lot in real life, so there hasn’t been much material there. I posted the zoo trip and wrote about my peaches when those opportunities presented themselves. Old What’s Her Face and I have been working opposing days for quite a while, so we aren’t together to do much lately.

As far as being an author, I worked on a few things. I picked through my critiques and made quite a few adjustments to the last chapter I shared. I feel good about the results.

I finished reading a book and posted the review for it. I’m considering diving into something else tomorrow. I have a hankering for some science fiction and have two different books in mind.

I also went ahead and started a new project. Authors write. That’s what we do, and it’s what I enjoy the most. I’m calling this a side project. It almost demands to be a trilogy. Lessons learned from Lanternfish indicate that I should finish the whole thing before trying to publish it. This means it could be my side project for a few years.

There is a small struggle in that I want two different groups to come together somewhere around chapter three. The first one consists of a pair of disabled veterans and their unique perspective. I like the lady with the prosthetic tentacle and the space chimp. I want to gripe about the treatment of veterans and a bit of prejudice for the space chimp. He’s destined to be one of the bigger personalities in this found-family adventure.

I hacked some things out for them, but it only came to three pages. That isn’t enough for a chapter, so I need to give them more thought. I’m sure I could use more setting and that will help. Can’t hurt in chapter one to have more setting.

I think the second group will take me more words to get them on the page. (There are twenty-eight of them, or three depending upon how you count the clones.) Rather than jump ahead, I’ll dwell on the first pair and see what I can come up with.

This is the beauty of being ahead of schedule. I have time to dabble with this stuff until it makes me happy. Hopefully, it will make someone else happy, too… eventually.

Tomorrow, I will dedicate a bit of time to Lanternfish. I need to keep that moving ahead for 2021 publication.

I also have a loose plan for some October promo, but am waiting for a small amount of data to start creating that. There are a couple of months, so it will happen whenever it does.

There you have it. Life in the fast lane for an author. Say hello in the comments. Life gets stale when left to my own devices.

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When plans go awry

I had my bachelor Saturday all planned out. I wanted to pick a few more peaches to eat fresh, then keep hacking my way through Lanternfish.

When I went into the back yard, Lorelei, the Muse, greeted me. She wore a pair of white shorts with an apron. That’s it aside from her sneakers. “About time you got started.”

“What are you doing here? I’m planning on editing today.”

“Yes. That’s all nice, but it’s creativity that fuels me. I want to work on your side project.” She stood on tip toes to reach the high-growing fruit.

I was inspired already. Lorelei is built like an Olympic diver, and her bronzed back glistened in the sun. “That has to take a back burner. I have two books to edit.”

“Oh, psssh! You’ll get them done. You should still dedicates some time to your science fiction project.” She handed me a peach, then went for another one.

And that’s where Saturday ended, folks. I had such a cool idea for my side project that I had to scrap most of the outline and start a new idea sheet. This was supposed to be character driven and fun. I suppose it still can be, but now it’s going to have a deeper plot. It might take me months to work this all out.

Part of this is because I’m thinking of a trilogy once more. Lanternfish was work, but perhaps if I start that way from the beginning, then don’t try publishing until it’s finished, it will be more fun.

So, what is a man, left to his own devices, supposed to do after all that? He does this.

Take few peaches fresh from the tree.

A little simmer in some simple syrup. Then pit and chunk them up.

Add a slug of insurance.

Don’t forget the other main ingredient.

Toss everything in the blender with ice, and don’t forget a nice tiki mug.

Okay, it’s wonderful, but would have been prettier with white rum. I used what I had on stock, and have my supper all ready. It’s health food, I swear.

I should find something to binge watch. Maybe some science fiction to keep my flow going.

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