The Five Hundred and Seventh Post — The One Where I am Distracted By This Shiny Apple Some Woman Threw on the Ground…

An idea to me is as entrancing as a golden apple with the words “To The Fairest” scratched over its skin. I’ll drop everything and pick it up, marveling over the firm flesh, the sweet smell and wondering what it would taste like on my tongue.

Maybe that’s why I have so many unfinished projects.

The idea I had was brought on by a daydream I had and a memory of an odd thing from a magazine. The daydream was of looking up at the night sky and seeing the stars disappear one at a time as if someone was putting out candles. I think I had watched a documentary about the end of time or something like that. The memory was of something in the old Dragon Magazine (I don’t remember where I saw it, if you can find it – drop me a line what issue it was featured in, it’s been driving me crazy!) about a dragon so large, it swallowed whole worlds. Under treasure type, it just had the word ‘planets’. So, while a t work today, I put those two images in my mind togetr – stars going out and a dragon large enough to swallow the Earth. What I got was a Lovecraftian horror idea that I must bring to fruition.

One staple of Lovecraftian horror is the One Cursed with Knowledge. This person has seen the truth of the world, and it’s driven him past all sanity. Sam Neil’s character in In The Mouth of Madness is a good example. Usually, this is one of the side characters, so we only get half the story.

What if it was the main character that was being driven mad?

What if he was right?

My mind was off and running. I needed a good way for the dragon to feed, some way nice and slow so that the characters would think they have time and hope, but to be able to jerk that hope away in the last chapter.

Worms. Another little vision came to me: clumps and knots of squirming worms wearing human skin like a suit. They walk among us, spreading their kind about to consume the world down to the very bedrock and send those nutrients to the dragon. This is fantasy – I don’t have to explain it any more than that (Thank God. My browser history has taken enough of a beating from Valentina). The main character is the only one who can see the worms for what they really are.

This poor guy. This story is going to be so bleak, it would have Howard Phillip telling me to cheer up.

On the way home, I tried to figure out the sub-genre. Swords and Sorcery would be good, but there was no way they could defeat this sort of creature the way I had it imagined. It didn’t feel right. I thought about pulp fiction and that clicked. Forbidden magic, minds going mad from the revelation, flights to lost cities – this was the perfect thing.

So, I need to do a little more research. I want to really nail the feel and style for Lovecraftian horror. The best way to do this is by looking around for a style guide on the Internet. TVtropes.org has a good one, but I want to get the nuts and bolts down. With that in mind, I’ll need to read some pulps. Lovecraft, for obvious reasons, and maybe some Robert E. Howard since he was a contemporary of Lovecraft.

When am I going to start writing it? Not for a while I’m afraid. This year is already filled with assignments, so it’s going to 2023 when I finally put fingers to keyboard to get the first draft out, but I am going to get the outline and research done long beforehand.

The Five Hundred and Sixth Post: The One Where I Scramble For Something While Sitting Outside a Snow Globe…

It’s snowing where I’m at right now, and I’m at work. It looks pretty, but I also know they’re not going to let us out of work early because only one to three inches here – not really panic material. Well – not to my bosses. To the average Louisville resident here, that’s cause enough to panic buy milk, bread and bourbon.

What does this have to do with writing? Not a thing, but it’s what’s happening now.

I’m working on Valentina’s Repast after completely gutting almost all the chapters I wrote and it is coming along a lot better now. I think it was too bloated with the love story loaded into the beginning. Pushing that aside for now and working on the killings and the problems that brings up. Rather than forcing it, I am going to try to let it grow organically.

That is one of the problems I have when it comes to writing (especially romance) in that I tend to force a plot point rather than let it come up in the course of the story. Hopefully, this will be a better fit and maybe I can stick to it. I have so many ideas and blank notebooks…

This is going to be a little short because I do want to get back as I am writing a spicy scene, and Thursday kinda crept up on me. Stay warm, stay safe and I’ll have something a little more substantive in the next one!

The Five Hundred and Fifth Post: The One Where I Take a Medium-sized Chance…

I’m at a sticking point with The Truth Will Out. I’m not getting into it like I am with the other books. Nothing feels committable or nailed down. The main character doesn’t feel settled down and the theme (and this is the big thing with me) doesn’t really sing with me. It just lays there like an overfed cat. This is really frustrating because I want to get to work on it on the New Year.

Normally, I’d set the story on a shelf in the back of my mind and let it work itself out. I’m going to do something different this time. I’m going to just throw caution to the wind and pants the thing. Pantsing is writing the story without any sort of outline or guide, contrasted with Plotting which is when an outline is being used. I tend to be a bit of a hybrid. I have a guide in my head, but I don’t adhere to it or I keep it loose enough in case I get a good idea while I am writing.

I am going to just sit down with the two scenes I have in my head and the end in mind, but I am not going to be committed to anything other than the two scenes. I will have no idea about what is going to happen after those two scenes are written.

Outlines? Where we’re going we don’t need outlines.

I hope that this is the elixir to break this stand-off. It’s a good idea, but I just need to shake things up a little.

As far as everything else goes – I just need to get some stocking-stuffer shopping finished and I’ll be done. Nothing big to be honest. Nancy likes dark chocolate, so she’s going to get some dark chocolate malt balls and maybe a gift card. She doesn’t want a whole lot, and she doesn’t read this blog, so I can openly discuss these sort of things. Might get her a gift card to Half-Price Books. She loves that store.

So, in the New Year I’m going to start Pantsing The Truth Will Out and outlining the second draft of Romance with Advantage and try to finish up Valentina’s Service. That one I am going to completely re-write now because I don’t like the direction it’s going…that and I need to have it done by Halloween to meet the deadline. I might do that one first and let Romance with Advantage come around in the end of the year. We’ll see how this experiment works.

Well, that’s all for now. I am going to take a couple of weeks off for the Holidays and will be back Thursday in the New Year to try to write this blog at least fifty-two times, along with four novels. Speaking of novels – if you look to the right, you can find my current works and the works of good friends. Check them out! Until 2022 – take care and be safe out there.

The Five Hundred and Fourth Post: The One Where You Should Have Picked Under in the Over/Under Writer’s Betting Pool…

Sorry for the late update, but I have been working twelve-hour days at my dreaded day job. I’m sneaking this on after hours at work, but I can proudly say I am still on schedule.

Now – you’re going to want to mark this day on your calendars. It si a high-water mark for me, and the chances of it happening again are going to be astronomical.

Ready?

I have to pad my novel.

I know! I’m just as shocked as everyone else is. You see, for those of you who might not know, I have no problem exceeding a word count by thousands of words…and not wanting to cut a single syllable. You want a 50K novel? I’ll write 65K. I can’t help it. I get dragged down side stories and lost in the thickets of description and before I know it, I have to trim everything down.

Not this time. This time I’m writing Catastrophic Christmas Party and I’ve hit all the major plot points – even threw in the beginning of a love interest for giggles. I was so sure I was going to run off at the mouth and have to cut down a couple of scenes.

Total word count? 30K roughly. Novel was supposed to be 50K. I very, very badly undershot it.

Padding is going to be not that nig of a problem, I’m just miffed that I have to do that. I can throw in a couple of scenes with Evan dealing with Christmas shoppers and his whammy. I can even include a scene with his parents and give a little bit of a back story with him. Maybe even a chance encounter with the love interest. Like I said, it’s not a problem of padding, I’m just flabbergasted that I have to do it.

Speaking of padding – I am out of Nanowrimo this year. As it ends up, overtime at work started and that always cuts into my writing time, especially since I like to get big checks so I spend at least 12 hours here at work. I’ve been noodling and outlining another novel in the meantime, but I’m not pounding the keyboard like I should. Something-something-eight hours of sleep…I don’t know. Next year – next year I’ll have a better idea of time management and maybe skip the overtime. I’ve won it once, I know I can do it again if I focus.

Well – that’s all I have time for right now. There’s not much else going on other than I got my flash, so my camera kit is pretty much complete, now all I need is to take some time and start photographing again before it gets too cold. I might even hit up a couple of friends and see if they would be willing to model for me in an ad for Valentina’s Feast.

So – take care, I’ll see you next week.

The Five Hundred and Third Post — The One Where I Feed My Other Obsession!

During my vacation, I decided to go to a fountain pen show up in Columbus. I didn’t even know there was such a thing, much less one that was close enough to me to consider driving. So – me and the wife bundled into the car and drive three hours with money burning a hole in my pocket. I found out some interesting things during my trip:

  1. Rest stops are determined by the smallest bladder.
  2. They’re not apparently speed limits, but suggestions.
  3. Everything tastes better at 80 mph, except boxed apple pies. Those things are nasty at any speed.
  4. Drink enough Monster energy drinks and you’ll achieve Bullet-Time.

I got to the pen show (no tickets!) and spend a few minutes trying to find a way inside, I stumbled up to the reception table and put down my ten dollars. I was not prepared for what would happen next.

There were so many tables! Not just fountain pens! Bottles of ink by the score! Notebooks! Sealing wax and other paraphernalia! My mere $700 was not enough! I walked around in a bit of a daze. Not only were there so many tables – I expected ten or fifteen, but there were at least thirty in the ball room and seven right outside. There were small time companies there, individual collectors selling and buying.

There were so many people! It was a little crowded as far as I was concerned. Again, I had small notions, but each aisle was crowded to the point where I had to excuse myself in passing in between two people. I was shocked that there were other people that were as excited about fountain pens as I am. Nancy kept pace with me as I looked around.

The first person I talked to had this gorgeous pen that looked like it was crafted from a single block of rose quartz. It was love at first sight. It had a very fine nib – the only kind I like to use. This is no mere shopping list pen. This is an instrument to put down my deepest thoughts. This is the crowning piece in my collection.

“How much is it?”

“Six hundred dollars.”

I’ll find others.

I moved on. I found so many wonderful pieces, but I came here with a shopping list:

  1. Pilot Vanishing Point in Very Fine: the novelty of this pen is that the tip retracts. Don’t look at the price. Numbers mean nothing against quality.
  2. A bottle of shimmering black ink: I’ve got a sample of it at home, and I liked it. I was hoping to find a bottle here and add it to the second pen I was going to buy.
  3. Second pen: because buying one pen is absolutely ludicrous. Very fine nib and must look good.
  4. Notebook: because I don’t have a problem, Nancy.
  5. Holder for said pens: I can’t leave them out to the elements, can I?

The second person I asked about the Vanishing Point, sent me down to the right table: Crazy Al’s Pen Emporium. I am not making up this name. His table stretched down the length of the ball room. Stacks upon stacks of pens and pen boxes fought for my attention. Inks in every color conceived by the eye of man (except shimmering black) were arranged in neat rows.

I would have swooned, but Nancy has said repeatedly she will not catch me.

I approached the man in the red t-shirt. He looked up at me and held out his hand. I figured that this was the aforementioned Crazy Al, but he didn’t accuse the cats of stealing his thoughts, or try to explain how the lizard people really run things, so I think he was more Decently Medicated Al. I shook his hand and he asked how he could help.

“I’m looking for a Vanishing Point in a very fine nib. Do you have one?”

“Sure.” He picked up a box with a blue and chrome pen inside and handed it to me. My heart fluttered. The body matched a bottle of blue ink I had a home, waiting to be used. This was a match made in Heaven.

“How much?”

“$140 and you get a free notebook.”

I don’t know what Nancy thinks when I shell out this kind of money for a pen. She’s more of a ‘whatever works’. I have standards.

I count out the money and hand it to him with the glee of a four-year-old getting a present for Christmas. I get the box and the notebook of my choice (the yellow Rhodia) in a very nice bag. I saw the notebooks and made a beeline for them. They have the one notebook maker that I love and in the style and color I like. I drop more money and stuff the book in my bag. I’m getting the stuff on my list one after the other. Nancy comes up to me and shows me a plastic bag with a ballpoint pen. She shows me the Pilot erasable ink pen. It’s not my style, so I let her have it. I am still focused on getting pen number two and a carrying case.

As I walk down the aisles, I’m struck by the different types of people here. It’s not just old white guys. There are women, young men walking along with me. They’re pouring over ink bottles and asking about particular pens. I’m just poking along when I see the sparkles.

I must know more.

I make my way to the table at the end. Behind it is a nervous looking man in glasses and a light grey t-shirt. On the table in front of him are sparkly pens in white, purple, green and grey. They all call to me. I must heed them.

The guy begins his spiel about the pens (“made from Venetian glass.”) and the pen holder he’s selling with them. I kind of listen to him just to be polite, but the majority of my attention is on the pens. They wink, tease and whisper to me. I pick one up and turn it over in my hands. Yes, my little one – I will save you.

“How much for this one and do you have and extra fine nib?”

“Sure.” He takes it out of my hand and starts to put on the tip. “You want a carrying case for $30?”

Shut up and take my money. All $250. All that I’m missing now is the ink and a nicer carrying case. With a troubling amount of endorphins bubbling in my head, I head down the aisles to look for the last two things on my mental list.

I wonder what Nancy things of all this. I just dropped half a house payment on two pens. I’m hoping it’s along the lines of ‘it’s his money’ or at the very least ‘at least it isn’t drugs’. Although I think drugs would be cheaper at this point.

I come to another long table where there is ink, pens and pen cases. I start looking through the inks. I came down here for shimmering black, but so far, I’ve come up distressingly empty. Nancy sidles up next to me and asks what I’m looking for.

“Shimmering black ink.” I see a nice orange, but it’s not what I want right now.

Nancy – being the wonderfully efficient wife – corners one of the guys behind the table and whips out the old country charm. “Do you have any shimmering black ink?” This is what I love about her. She’s so out there, willing to talk to people where I am not. The guys look from one to another and tell her that they think they have any shimmering black, but if they did it would be in this try here.

As I walk over to the try, my eye is caught by this wonderful little case. Holds two pens, but all I really need is a case for the Vanishing Point pen and another with the color du jour. I pick it up and turn it over in my hands. It looks nice. Something I can put in my pocket. “How much for this?”

“$120, but I can let it go for $100.”

Yikes. You see, Nancy’s birthday was only a few days away and I hadn’t gotten her a gift yet. If I got this case and a bottle of ink, then I would have less than $100 to get a gift, card and cake. I’m not concerned about the card and cake, but I need to nail the gift. Okay – new plan. Look for a cheaper case and call it a day.

“Sugar, I see some ink over there. I’m gonna got see if they got yours.” She is delightfully tenacious. I wander behind her and look at a pile of leather cases. I pick up one that looks like it could hold three pens and fit in my pocket. I open it up.

It’s someone’s eyeglasses. Whoops. I put it back down and hope no one saw me. I might just go back and see about that other case. It looked nice and felt good. If I got it, I would have enough to get Nancy a nice gift and a decent cake and card. Instead of running over and taking the case, I decide to walk around a little bit more.

Nancy is still darting from table to table like a hyper-focused hummingbird while I mosey about and look at the inks on display. They’re nice, and there are a couple of shades of read that look good, but I’ve got four bottles at home.

I continue to walk down the aisles, looking at the leather cases and getting prices. Looks like I’m going to be spending about hundred either way. I might go back and get the first one. It looked nice.

“Sugar, I think I found someone who might have the ink you’re looking for.” Nancy gently grabs my arm and guides me to a table. Two ladies are behind the table, sipping on cans of soda. One of them looks up at us and hurriedly slips her mask back up. In Columbus, the mask mandates are still in effect.

“Hi,” I smile and remind myself that it’s all right to talk to people. “I was wondering if you had any shimmering black ink?”

They look at each other and shake their heads. “Have you tried that table?” She points down the aisle. “Or have you tried Crazy Al?”

“I did both of them, ma’am. Came up empty.” I may not really like talking to people, but I will be polite as the situation requires.

“I’m so sorry, sir.” The other one says to me. I just shrug and thank them for their time.

“I’m going to go get the case I saw earlier. Weaving through the crowds (I swear there are more people here than when I first came in), I make it back to the table. With one hand, I fish for my wallet and with the other, I grab the case. “I’ve decided to get this case.”

True to his word, he let it go for $100. Practically out of money, I relax a little bit. I didn’t get everything on my list, but the ink was a long shot anyways. I turn to my ever-present wife and say, “Let’s just look around a little bit.” With no pressure of cash on me, I can walk about and just scope things out. One guy was selling a glass and wood chess set. Someone else was selling wax sealers and supplies (I should have held out!). Ink wells, books about antique pens and more supplies. One guy had just a pile of old pens he was selling for parts. I should have brought my broken pen here and see if I could find the part I needed. Next time.

Coasting down from the post-shopping high, we both realized it was time to go. On the way out, Nancy stumbled onto a ball point pen on the ground. It looked good, like it was taken out of the package and set on the ground as a sacrifice. Nancy smiled and put it in her pocket. That’s my wife in a nutshell: refuge for the lost, neglected and forsaken.

The trip back was uneventful – with Nancy telling me that security would not be patient with us running amok through the empty King’s Island park (“I know how to operate the rides, though.” “No.”) and running through the tolls (“Kentucky – we get you coming and going.”).

Sorry if this post was longer or more boring than usual, but once I got going, it seemed I had to throw everything in. Just a reminder: my latest novel Valentina’s Feast is in Amazon and all other digital platforms, so give it a gander.

I promise next week will be shorter. Thanks for hanging in there.

What $600 gets you at a pen show in Columbus, OH

The Five Hundred and Second Post: The One Where I Admit My Addiction to KDP!

The book and the Kindle pre-orders have been out for a few days, and I do have some pre-orders waiting – thank you, very much! I’m a touch disheartened that no one’s snatched at the book yet. I know it’s steep, and there is very little I can do about that. If I price it any lower, I’m not going to get as much profit from it. Yes – this is still a business and I need to make some sort of income from this. As much as I like the notion of being an indie author…I do have to admit that having someone else taking care of the marketing would be nice. I’m not really the ‘slap hands, kiss babies’ sort of person.

Maybe I’ll try submitting a novel and deal with the rejections.

I’m trying my best to not look at KDP’s reports on sales. It’s addictive hitting that site to see if you have any sales. It’s also maddening when you click on the site and see nothing there.

As my wife points out: “You’re a good writer, we just need to get your name out”. Which in this day and age is easier said than done.

But enough of that – there is a link to the books on the right, as well as links to all the others.

I can’t remember if I’ve said this or not, but I am going back to The Marvelous and Malefic Doomsday Medicine Show. I can get that finished up sooner than starting a brand-new project – Catastrophic Christmas Party is going to be my Nanowrimo project, so I can get halfway to four books before July. I really, really want that pen.

Other than all of that, there is nothing more to say. I’m stopping overtime for the next couple of weeks, and honestly, I don’t think it’s going to go on much longer. I’ll be happy to get that morning writing period back and maybe quit napping during afternoon lunch. As I told Nancy: “I am not addicted to caffeine. I can quit whenever I want with no ill effects.” Then we both have a good laugh and I go back to snorting Pepsi Max syrup.

With the rumbling of the thunderstorm overhead, I probably should wrap this up before the power goes out. Like I said check out the books on the right and maybe click on a link to purchase one of them. I’ll talk to y’all in the next one.