Tag Archives: writing

A short update

It’s been hot here in Idaho. Ungodly hot. The lawn is suffering, but my fruit trees seem to be loving it. At the office, the wildlife has all but disappeared.

This little beauty built a nest on the outside of my window, so she’s about all I have. She tends to back into her silky house during the heat, but runs around in the cooler hours of morning.

She’s on the outside of the building, so I’m not worried about her as I work.

Today marks the first day of vacation for me. I don’t know what I might wind up doing, but reading, movies, and writing are on my list. I really don’t have an agenda, but maybe Old What’s Her Face and I can do some things together. I’d still like to see the Stellar’s Sea Eagles at the zoo. I based the Omcrom off them in HMS Lanternfish, and it would just be cool to see them in person. If we go, I’ll snap a photo.

I managed to send a chapter to my critique partners this morning. I also added some new words, but don’t really have a target. If I decide to stop for the day and do something else, that’s fine.

Rumor has it that a couple of bulldogs need a bath, so that’s probably on my list this afternoon.

Mostly, it’s time for a change of pace and scenery. I don’t think I’ve taken more than a day or two off in over a year, and it’s overdue.

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I’m such a keyboard slut

What can I say? I finished Lanternfish and took a break that lasted almost 24 hours. I started a new project on Sunday, and since today is my flex day I added to that.

I’m already 10,500 words into my next story. This might give you some hints as to what I’m up to. Oh, and turn the speakers up. This woman has some chops.

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Wrapping up the weekend

We did some random things this weekend without completely going out in public.

Saturday became a writing day, too. I managed about 2800 words on the day, so it was better than Friday. I think I need to start skipping ahead on the warfare and have an idea how to accomplish that. Wednesday is my flex day, so I might give it a shot. This story has a lot to accomplish beyond the war.

We managed some takeout from Wingers on Saturday night. Made for leftovers tonight. Nothing too special, but I always liked their sticky wings.

During Wingers, we watched Mortal Combat. It was exactly as advertised. Brutal, action packed, not angling for an Academy Award.

Speaking of the awards, Old What’s Her Face insisted on watching the red carpet show. She does not want to watch the actual awards, but the fashion seemed to make her happy. While it was on, I hooked up a few more hoses and puttered about that way.

I watched a few episodes of a new show called Shadow and Bone on Netflix. I’m still not sure I like it. That seems to be how Netflix things work. By the time it wraps, I usually put them in the win column.

It’s just basic life around here. Happy to have worked on my story. We rented a movie and hung out.

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Consider this an extra

I admit to getting fairly lax about updating Entertaining Stories in the last year. Let’s face it, 2020 didn’t leave us much to talk about. Everything that happened in my life happened in yours, too.

As we step into 2020 things are trying to improve. The goal of this blog has always been writing related, so let’s start there.

Yesterday I found some writing time. This is the regrouping phase of the big Lanternfish battle. A lot happened, and nobody knows all of it. Visitors showed up in the aftermath and helped spell some of it out. James spent a bit of time looking in on his wounded, and with the visitors’ help, they set some new goals.

He managed to overlook his missing son. I still need to address this from his POV somehow. I sent Mule and Yoshiko on an ill-advised quest to recover Mule’s knife. This is the haunted knife from Giapon with a mind of its own. When I ended, they were following a trail of murder and mayhem across the battlefield. I didn’t do too much, and only added enough to get started next time. Whatever it came to didn’t match the huge word count of Friday.

After that, Old What’s Her Face and I decided to go someplace to eat. It’s payday weekend, so it’s nice to have a slice of our former lives. It didn’t amount to anything fancy, but it’s Lobsterfest at Red Lobster. We had a nice dinner, then went home.

After supper, we watched Falcon and the Winter Soldier as far as they’ve been released. It’s interesting so far. Secondary characters trying to carry a story and it’s functional.

We also managed to watch Kong vs Godzilla on Friday night, and I really liked it. Could have done without all that hollow Earth crap, but I liked the film. Adventure galore, but they swung and missed on the traditional messages. Godzilla was always about an environmental warning, and Kong had this tragic emotional thing going on. They tried with some kind of high-tech weapon and a tiny deaf girl, but it just didn’t work. Let’s face it, it’s geared toward them beating the crap out of each other and it accomplishes that.

Somewhere in the midst of everything else, I managed to edit one chapter of Lunar Boogie. I should be doing more, but there it is.

Today, I frittered around with social media after talking to my parents. I determined to do something and went into an alternate room. There was writing time, the possibility of editing, but I decided to read instead. I don’t do enough reading, so it feels productive to me. (First third of a new novel in one shot is pretty good for my reading.)

It was a good weekend. I got the chance to be productive and balanced that with some real life.

I get a Wednesday flex day this week and have it earmarked for more Lanternfish. Other than that, it’s back to work in the real world.

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I morn for the lost time

This weekend wasn’t a productive one for me. My wife was off, and we tend to hang out together. (Imagine that.)

We dedicated a bit of time complaining about how our furnace went out. This one is all computerized and the numeric codes don’t really tell us anything. She didn’t want to call someone over the weekend, because they gouge you. I’m okay with this, too. We’ve been using alternate sources to take the chill off and it has been decent weather as well.

We went to Old Chicago last night, masks and all, for beer and pizza. We also rented Monster Hunter with Milla Jovovich. (Don’t waste your time or money.)

What I didn’t do was write. I feel bad, because weekends are about all I have. I managed one page of dialog and that’s it. Dialog sections tend to have a lot of white space on the page, so there isn’t much as far as word count goes.

I am going to get an hour to myself today when she goes to town. Rather than force things, I’m going to spend my time reading.

I’ve run into a section in Lanternfish that requires some micro-plotting. You know I use storyboards with broad things I have to check off, but between the index cards, I occasionally run into something like this.

Normally, I would jump to another story, but I’ve finished Lunar Boogie, and am loath to start a new one until I finish Lanternfish. I know the next one up is Good Liniment and it will suck me in and keep me from Lanternfish.

What I need is a good solid twist in my story. Jumping projects usually makes one come to me. Perhaps reading will do the same thing. Next weekend isn’t looking like a good one for writing either. Hopefully, I can come up with my twist inside of two weeks.

Hope all of you are happy, productive, and warm.

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The big squirrel festival

I had two goals today, and those didn’t have a lot of parameters. I wanted to go back over my existing work with a fine toothed comb, and I wanted to add some small amount of new words to Lanternfish.

What I didn’t plan on was the big squirrel festival in the back yard. This started off with one squirrel running down the fence then staring inside at the dogs as he waited.

That’s enough to make Frankie blow a gasket, so she had to chase him off. Another squirrel showed up, and the neighbor dog chased it away. The sound of her made Frankie have to go out and play, then they chased each other up and down the fence. I suppose the squirrels watched this part from the treetops.

Between bouts of this, more squirrels showed up, and we repeated the process all over again. Sometimes two of them at once.

Otto doesn’t care much anymore. This usually happens when a younger dog takes up the challenge, and Frankie is the younger of the two.

Somewhere in the middle of that, I managed to work through one chapter of Lunar Boogie, and one Chapter of Lanternfish. I still assume they suck, but I did what I could.

I also managed to add 1000 words to Lanternfish; not my most productive day. Even then, I resorted to root monster antics because they usually flow pretty fast.

There is a quiet and mysterious scene for Serang coming up. There will be some fantasy elements and a discovery involved. I just have to finish a chapter on the open sea before I can take that on.

I’ll try to dabble a bit more today, but right now I have to get up and let Frankie out. It seems there is a squirrel in the back yard.

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Strange writing day

I wound up with a bachelor’s weekend again. This is when my wife traditionally goes to Nevada to visit her brother for the Super Bowl.

As per usual, I am watching the dogs and hanging out here. I really enjoy these weekends, because I can work on my projects without a lot of interruption. Or so, I thought.

I’ve been moping around lately about Lanternfish. This project has a lot of moving parts, but I’ve been through this before. I know that if I only make a few commitments, the pieces will start coming together like they should. That was my big goal for the weekend.

I tried to work on it, but the dogs weren’t having it. I’ve never seen them so needy, so I assume they’re missing Mom. They each needed up in my lap, one at a time. As soon as one was happy, the other one needed me. We chased the squirrel.

Two fat bulldogs acted like treeing hounds and they got the stupid thing cornered. Then they started coming to the door to get me to help. Since this is just my crabapple tree, all I have to do is walk out and the squirrel makes a run for it.

We repeated this action a couple of times, until I decided I wasn’t getting anything accomplished. Days when I can do what I want are kind of rare birds.

Ultimately, I sequestered myself in the room I used when I had to work from home. My goal was to start adding those little stitches that start to bring the Lanternfish cast back together.

Naturally, I did this by breaking them down even further. Diego Palumbo went on a field trip without his wife. He’s looking for things he can interpolate into predictions she can magically make for the Hollish army. This has worked well, so far, but now they need more. The ultimate goal was to place the old green signal lantern on the cliffs beside the sea. Readers of HMS Lanternfish will know this is how they communicated with the ship.

That’s where it all went a little crazy. Diego is not a hero in the traditional sense of the term. He’s a con man, and a coward, so when he ran into trouble, I had to handle it a bit differently. I also wound up adding to the cast, but I hope to minimize this new character.

The whole thing kind of baffled me, because my target points were simple enough, but when I ended today, I had 4000 new words.

Of the three different stories going on right now, the Palumbos are supposed to be the shorter ones. I liked the way it came out, and Diego wound up learning a lot more than he anticipated.

Next on my checklist is some actual warfare for James and Lanternfish. It’s time to start getting deep into the action. This will be followed by a more tranquil section for Serang and her army. She will make a major discovery in that chapter.

I’m off on Monday, so if I can get that far over the weekend it will be super indeed. To do that, I’ll have to resist jumping over to Lunar Boogie, so we’ll see how it goes.

Honestly, all new words count, so it really doesn’t matter which book they apply to.

I may even schedule an evening writing session. Depends upon how I’m feeling about it all. That’s more of the beauty of the rare bachelor weekend.

Wish me luck.

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Business Plan 2021

It looks like that time again. I try to prepare a business plan for my writing career every January. These have been some of my most popular posts over the years, but that isn’t why I write them. I feel like everything is better with a little planning.

I’m sure this is no surprise, since I’ve posted both here and at Story Empire about my storyboarding method for plotting out my stories.

Mostly, I write these to keep myself honest. I refer back to them throughout the year to see how I’m doing. Let’s dive into it.

A few years ago, I decided my best promotional move was to write my next book. I’ve gotten discouraged with advertising that fails to produce, social media that sucks time, but doesn’t seem to do much else, so I write.

Honestly, it seems to be working. I can’t explain it exactly, but if someone were to pull up my Amazon page, it appears that I’m somewhat seasoned and in it for the long haul. Perhaps people are more willing to take a chance on me more than someone who only has one book. No idea, but it makes some sense.

It’s not that readers pick up everything I write. If someone likes paranormal tales, I have a few. Same thing for science fiction and fantasy. Some are like me and read all those genres, but I can appeal to the specialists now, too.

For the last two years, I’ve published three books per year. It’s kind of a grueling pace, but it was worth it.

This year, my goal is two publications. I want to complete my Lanternfish trilogy and get it out the door. I’ve already started on the final volume, but it’s been slow going. Too many holidays and not enough quality time.

The other book I’m working on is a continuation of The Hat series. Since this is an ongoing series, I don’t feel as much pressure as I do with Lanternfish. I have a couple of storyboards for volumes beyond the one I’m writing, and a few solid ideas with notes started.

Last year, a couple of things changed for me, and forced me to make a decision. My cover art and Lisa Burton promotional pieces took much longer than I was used to. I kind of overwhelmed my critique group, too. My choices were to start another project while I waited to publish the completed ones, or take a break. I took a break.

I know this doesn’t seem like me, but I needed it and I imagine my critique partners appreciated the few months off, too. I didn’t exactly kick back during this time. I spent it getting ready for two extensive blog tours. I make all my promo stops unique, so writing ahead was a good idea.

Timing of publications continues to vex me. I would like to hit one right before school lets out in the Spring, and the other around Halloween sometime. I’m not sure I’ve ever hit the Springtime target before, but have been moderately successful in the Fall.

By publishing two books instead of three, maybe that will simplify a few things. Maybe not, because Grinders in late Winter went off without a hitch.

I intend to use any spare time I have drafting something new. I don’t know what that will be yet, but I could go on the African adventure, maybe the post apocalyptic piece that’s set in the swamp, or something set in outer space. That last one seems to want to be a trilogy again.

The idea of another trilogy kind of drags me down, and excites me at the same time. For one thing, I could do things differently this time. I could hold the entire thing back while I finish it, then go for quicker releases after it’s finished. This would make it my side project for a couple of years.

Lanternfish was only intended to be a stand-alone story. Comments and feedback convinced me to turn it into a trilogy. With one already on Amazon, the others have to come along as they can.

I need to make some decisions on how to promote Wreck of the Lanternfish. I could promote the book, the whole series, or a bit of both. I could go on two different blog tours; one for the book, then months later for the whole trilogy.

I might be able to use some discount days or free days to promote with, too. James is clearly the main character, but Serang has become a co-main character along the way. Her origin story has never been on sale and walks readers into the trilogy. I could do something similar with Voyage of the Lanternfish, or both.

Promotion is like dowsing to me. I’m open to suggestions here, so don’t be afraid to speak up.

Last year, my blogging goal was to post two to three times per week. This came after years of posting four times per week, because Lisa Burton Radio was always on Thursdays. With retirement of Lisa’s show, it should have been easy to meet. I failed completely.

This is the one thing I will blame on Covid. Many of my posts are a slice of life. With all the lockdowns, working from home, and all the rest, there wasn’t much life to share. I’ve been lucky to make a weekend post for the last few months. I don’t know if this will change, so I’m not setting a goal here. I will keep updating Entertaining Stories, and meet my Story Empire assignments. Anything beyond that will have to be an extra.

Then there is social media. During my summer break, I kind of bailed on it. It never really has produced anything for me, and I spent some time changing out my pinned tweets and all the rest. I changed it almost weekly when I promoted the Experimental Notebooks. My blog automatically feeds to most of them, and I still share all of your things when I can. I just stopped actively participating.

Prior to my break, I used to go through my feed and retweet all of your posts, share the bigger things on Facebook, etc. Now it’s mostly posts from your blogs.

Older rules were that we had to be active on social media, because that’s where readers find us. It made perfect sense, but I never really saw it function in real-time. Interest in blogs seems to be slowing down, too, but it’s about all I have left. It also seems to be the only thing that will sell books from time to time, so I’m all-in here.

My goals aren’t as severe this year. Two publications that I already have partial manuscripts for. Keep the blogs up, and dabble in social media. Spend any spare time drafting something new.

Weigh in today. Teach me your promotional tricks. Do you prepare a business plan every year, or is that just me?

They say all posts perform better with a picture, so here you go. Frankie likes to help Mom make the bed, particularly when the bedding is warm from the dryer.

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A Very Short Update

Old What’s Her Face is off this weekend. Even though the holiday gave me a three day weekend, I don’t see myself getting much writing done.

I did send out a critique section and already received some of the feedback.

A portion of my day was spent writing out my 2021 business plan. Today was a day for Happy New Year posts, and I didn’t want it to get lost in a sea of those. Although, a Saturday post probably won’t perform all that well either. The plan is usually one of my more popular posts of the year, so we’ll see.

Old What’s Her Face turned on a show called His Dark Materials early this morning, and the episodes have been on all day long. They’re still on as I type this out. Honestly, I wasn’t that impressed with The Golden Compass, and it’s a deeper dive into those stories.

Even though I’m not into it particularly, it’s also distracting. I’ll probably start another storyboard for a future Hat story after I post this. I have a reasonable idea and some cool concepts. That’s where they all start, and maybe it will develop before time to write it.

Hope all of you started your new year on a positive note.

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Back to the Grind

That’s a wrap. We had a lovely small Thanksgiving. It was great visiting, and I even enjoyed having Jackson around. My daughter cut my hair while she was here.

She picked up supplies, then headed for home. I loaded my truck and went to the office to exchange projects for next week, since I’m still being quarantined. Old What’s Her Face has been cleared to return to work, but I have to stay home for two more weeks.

I’ve been writing along in the early hours while everyone else sleeps. I did the wrap up of Serang’s last battle and pointed her on the trail to her ultimate goal. I kind of want to write a chapter of my con-men, but it only amounts to about a page. That seems kind of short for a chapter. All this while Lanternfish is still in dry dock an ocean away. I need to launch that ship and get her into action soon.

There’s been another “murder” in the hat story. I have a theory how Lizzie is going to hunt this monster, but it conflicts with narrowing down its hunting area. It looks like I’m going to have to give them another month to start putting the more important pieces together.

I carried my coffee into the bedroom, closed the door, then sat down beside the bed. “I’m having some problems.”

A sound like rustling leaves came from under the bed. Dried cornstalks grabbed onto the frame and pulled something heavy closer. “Well, well, well. Look who’s back.”

“I know it’s been a long time. Work, family, the Muse keeps me hopping.”

“And now you’re stumped again. Is that it?”

“Yeah. I need monsters. Since you’re the resident expert, I thought I’d come to you. The cornstalks are a nice touch.”

“Yeah. I like to change things up. It’s Autumn.”

“How’s Missing-Sock monster?”

“She left me. Remember the “It” movies?”

“Yeah.”

“She became a roadie for him.”

“Bummer.”

“So what kind of monsters do you need?”

“It’s Lanternfish.”

“Still? Haven’t you been writing that one for years?”

“It’s a trilogy. Kind of yes, and kind of no. It’s just that I’ve spent so much time with sea monsters, I’m having a hard time adjusting to dry land again.”

“Why not stick with what you’re good at?”

“I will. I want to reuse the tortugators in at least one scene. It stitches the books together to a degree, but a lot of this story will occur on dry land. It’s a fantasy world, so I need to keep it similar, but fresh.”

“But these books aren’t about conquering the monster, are they?”

“No. It’s more of a global war kind of thing.”

“I might posit that you don’t want monsters. What you’re looking for are fantasy creatures to pepper your landscape with.”

“That’s exactly it. Why didn’t I think of it myself? I mean, I have the snubhorns. They’re horselike creatures, but they scavenge a bit of flesh to keep everyone uncomfortable.”

“I think you’re too close to it. Hunt your werewolf for a few chapters in the other story, then come back to it. What would the area look like in reality? You might have birds, bugs, a herd of grazing animals. Now redesign everything. You need something that flys, something that herds together, that kind of thing. They aren’t really monsters.”

“Thanks, Under-the-Bed monster. That really helps. Do you have any prospects lined up since your girl left?”

“Not so much. That little dog makes me play Nylabones when you’re gone. The big guy sleeps until you come back.”

“Yeah, Frankie is a little intense with her bones.”

“Oh, I don’t know. I kind of enjoy it.”

“Good for you. Just don’t become like a crazy cat lady. There’s a nice culvert across the park about thirty feet from here.”

“Yeah? Maybe I’ll check it out.”

“Get yourself out there. You never know who, or what, you’ll meet.”

“I think I will, and Craig?”

“Yeah.”

“Don’t be a stranger. I enjoy our little conversations.”

“You’ve got it.”

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