Thursday, August 30, 2012

Misplaced Hero - Episode 34

The Case of the Misplaced Hero 34

Episode 34 - The High Commissar Arrives
by Camille LaGuire

"The relief train has arrived," said Tralkulo, as she met Rozinshura in the front hall.  "And the car is back from the mountain."

Rozinshura sent her to fetch the car and the sergeant.  The station was not far, but it was up hill, and with his limp, it would be slow going.  Besides, he needed to talk to them both as they went.

The sergeant reported that they had accounted for more names. All of the missing crew members were dead, as was one of the four foreigners.

"Winston Argoss?" asked Rozinshura.

"Yes, Kinchin Captain.  It appears he was shot by the bandits while he ran away. He was found in the woods."

"I want to hear from whoever found the body. I want to know of anything unusual found in the area.  Also, if anyone has found lost clothing."

"There's a lot of clothing in the debris, Captain."

"I mean away from the debris.  Something... dropped.  Anything that does not belong in the woods."  He paused. "And we must find out about this Cussar girl Pookiterin arrested.  Is she from a village, or did she come across the river?"

He glanced at his sergeant.  The man was exhausted, and in despair over the additional orders.

"Never mind; She's long gone.  We may find her later," he said.  "For now, everyone to the kitchen to eat, and rest and help Niko."

Rozinshura considered the note from the book.  With no one to explain it, this was all the information he would get:  A coup.  A bomb to kill High Commissioner Vshtin, tomorrow.  And a list of names.

If it could even be called a list. The names were scattered and squeezed in, as if the person who wrote them were taking notes and didn't know how many there would be.  They seemed to be in two groups. People to be assassinated?  The assassins themselves?  People to trust or mistrust?

There was only one name there whose part was obvious.  Vshtin.  The High Commissioner could be a zealot, but not so much that he would assassinate himself.  But, for all Rozinshura knew, the traitors could be on the train too.  It would be best to tell Vshtin without alerting anyone else.  Rozinshura could imagine a bloodbath on the station platform, if they thought their plot was uncovered.

He sighed and climbed out of the car.

The platform was covered with security men.  That in itself was alarming, but there were also regular soldiers and workers unloading relief supplies from the train.  Still, Pookiterin might already be there, giving his tale of traitorous locals.

If so, his best defense was to cloak himself in duty and self-confidence.  He grabbed Tralkulo and bulled his way in among the workers. He took their reports. They had supplies and workers and even two doctors.  Good doctors it seemed, but he had no time to see if they were surgeons.

He made a great show of his authority, and directed them all to where they should be.  And then, having built up steam, he headed over to make his entrance on the platform.

The guards were not impressed when he told them he was the district facilitator.

"No admittance!" they said.

"By whose orders?" he replied, pretending astonishment.

"Colonel Sochir."

Sochir's name was on the list, set aside a little from the others.  Still, good or bad, he was closer to Vshtin than Rozinshura.

"Where is he?  I must speak to him at once."

"He is busy."

They stood there like stone, three young men trained to yield nothing.  They were prepared for any assault except, perhaps, for being asked their opinion.

"Then I'll report to you," said Rozinshura. He took a deep breath, prepared to tell a wild tale of impossible problems, but just then a voice from the other end of the platform hailed them.

"Kosha Rozinshura! My kinchin!" called a strong voice; the voice of an orator.

And there came the High Commissioner himself, hailing him by his nickname, as if they were old childhood friends.

The Case of the Misplaced Hero -- now available as an ebook at major online retailers, including:

In most ebook formats at Smashwords, plus Amazon's Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel, Apple iBookstore(Coming soon to Sony.)

Now also at Amazon's international stores: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Organizing the Blog - The Tickler File

I've been doing this blog for almost three years.  And before that I had other blogs.  Many other blogs.  And I've taken them all seriously -- trying to write good content and post regularly, etc. I also used to write articles for article farms, which is sort of like freelance blogging.

One of the side effects of this is that I have a huge folder full of half-finished posts, or post ideas, or lists of post ideas.  Some of them are more or less finished, but I just didn't like how they turned out, or the subject was wrong or something.  Or I had this grand plan to do a series, so I held onto it and then forgot about it.

And I have a dozen different ways I titled or filed them, so I can't easily sort through them to find the gems.

This fall, I'm shifting into gear again on this blog (see this post), and one of the things I know I've got to do is schedule things. When I post the "Coming Attractions" on Sunday, that's a commitment -- I need to be able to list those upcoming posts with assurance.

Which means that if inspiration strikes and I type up a quick draft of a cool post one day at Taco Bell, I need to be able to lay my hands on it two weeks later when the time comes to polish it up and post it. And if I come up with a grand plan for a series, I need to have that somewhere I can find it, and a date to actually get to it.  All that work can't just disappear into my hard drive.

But my work and organization habits are what they are -- so this week I've been messing with ways to organize the "Blog Posts" folder.  I think I've hit on a plan.

I'm treating my blog like a magazine this winter, with a strict production schedule, and regular features. And, you know, the more I think of this blog as a traditional pulp magazine, the less I have to reinvent the wheel.  Old-time newspaper and magazine offices already invented the solution for me:

A "Tickler" File

A tickler file is made up of 43 folders, always.  It doesn't matter how big or small, or how complicated the jobs it is designed to take care of.  It's always that length, because it's actually a physical manifestation of a perpetual calendar.  It helps any production office keep it's editorial calendar in order.

There are 31 folders representing the days of the month (numbered 1- 31), and 12 more folders representing the months of the year.

As you come up with stories and material, you schedule them by dropping them into the appropriate folder.  For things more than a month away, you don't worry about the exact date, you just drop it in a month folder.  For things coming up in the next 31 days, you drop it in the days folder.

Each day you begin by pulling out the folder for the day, and taking out the items to be worked on.  Then you cycle the empty folder to the back of the stack of days, so it's ready for next month. When you're ready to schedule a new month, you pull that folder, distribute what's in it to the right "days" folders, and then stick it in the back of the "months" batch, to be ready for next year.

Productivity gurus (such as David Allen of Getting Things Done) love to use tickler files to organize their whole lives.  It's designed, after all, to make simple order out of the chaos of a busy production office.  However,  the tickler file was designed for deadlines, and that's where it really shines.  With a newspaper office you have to put the issue out every single day -- so it's not just a to do list, it's a must do list.

This emphasis on publishing and deadlines makes it a natural for a blog.

Now, I don't actually need a classic tickler file.  My needs are really not that complicated. I only publish one thing a day.  (Or I will starting in September.) I've got a strict schedule, and most of the days of the week are spoken for. The posts I have to organize are really just the Wednesday Writing/Thinking posts, and Friday Favorites.  (Maybe some of the Tuesday posts.)

That gives me a very specific number of posts each month, with very specific time slots.  I can probably make do with just using monthly folders.  Mark the Wednesday posts with a W and the Friday ones with an F.  I could even add a number 1-4 for which week they're for.  I could add a "this week" and a "next week" folder if I need more help.

My tickler file may be simpler than the full blown one, but it works on the same principle.

See you in the funny papers.

Progress report for "A Round of Words in 80 Days"

Sunday Day 56 - 240 minutes.  Mostly on the story.
Monday Day 57 - 25 minutes - mainly on my blog template. Otherwise, it was a busy busy day.
Tuesday Day 58 -185 minutes.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Misplaced Hero - Episode 33

The Case of the Misplaced Hero 33

Episode 33 - Alex Captured!
by Camille LaGuire

Lina lurked in the hall, keeping watch as Alex peeked into the kitchen.

There was no one there.  Not even Niko.  But there was a pot simmering on the stove.

"Niko will be right back," he said.  "Let's hurry."

Almost as soon as he spoke, someone started pounding from within larder. Thorny was awake! Alex fumbled out the keys.

"I'm coming!" he called. "Hold on!"

The pounding stopped as he got the door unlocked. He pulled it open...

And found himself face to face with Captain Rozinshura.

For a moment Alex and Rozinshura stared at each other. And then each grabbed the other by the lapels.

"Where is Thorny?" shouted Alex. "What did you do with him?"

"Who are you?" shouted the captain, and being the one of greater bulk, he propelled Alex backward and up against the wall. "Who ARE you!" he growled again, his nose only an inch from Alex's.

"I'm nobody," said Alex, just as emphatically. "I'm just looking for my friend. What did you do with him?"

"Pookiterin took him," said Niko.  The captain shot him a glare, while Alex made a lurch to get away.

"I have to get him back," said Alex.  "If they take him away to some prison or something, I'll never find him."

The captain made a little sound, and shifted back uneasily, like he knew something Alex didn't.  Alex grabbed his lapels again.

"They're going to do something worse to him, is that what you're thinking?"

"What do you think?" said Rozinshura, almost gently.

"I don't know!"

The captain gave Alex a shake to make him let go, though he kept his own tight grip.  He pulled back and studied Alex at arms length, looking him down and then up again.

"Niko!" he called.  "Why did you give him a uniform?"

"His clothes were wet," said Niko.

"Completely wet, from head to foot?" said the captain. Niko nodded.  "Like the old man."

"Yes, like the old man," said Alex.  "He jumped in the river and I dove in after."

All of a sudden Rozinshura let go of Alex with a shove that sent him back three steps.  Then the captain swore in frustration and held up a book for all to see.

"The book is dry!" he roared.  "It's not yours!"

"That's right," said Alex.

"Then whose book is it?" the captain called up to the ceiling, as if the timbers could answer.  Neither the timbers nor anyone else answered.

"Where did you get the book, captain?" asked Lady Featherdale.

The captain stared for a second at the wall, and then abruptly stalked to the door, calling loudly, "Tralkulo!"

He glanced back at Alex, his eyes a little distant, like he was thinking.

"Who are you?" he asked one more time.  "Who is that old man?"

"We're stowaways," said Alex.  "He's on a drinking binge. He's been hopping trains all over the countryside, and I followed him to keep him out of trouble.  I don't even know where I am."

Alex braced himself for a more difficult questioning than Lina had given him.  The captain looked down at the book and thought for a minute.

"You chased the girl," he said.  "Where did she go?"

"I didn't really chase her," said Alex.  "I just stalled the guards so she could get away."


"Because the colonel is a creep," said Alex.  The captain gave him a blank look, so he explained. "He makes your skin crawl."

Rozinshura nodded as though he understood and agreed.

"Where did she go?"

"I don't know.  Into the stable, I think, but she might have gone over the fence."

The captain looked like he might press the point, but just then the floor rumbled slightly, and there was the sound of a train whistle, not far away.  The captain swore and closed his eyes.  Then he rushed from the room, shouting again for Tralkulo.

Alex turned Niko.

"Where'd Pookiterin take him?"

"I think to the train," said Niko.  "But he might be running away from the train."

"Great," said Alex.

"But if he wanted to run away, he would go to the station anyway, because that is where they fuel the cars."

The Case of the Misplaced Hero -- now available as an ebook at major online retailers, including:

In most ebook formats at Smashwords, plus Amazon's Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel, Apple iBookstore(Coming soon to Sony.)

Now also at Amazon's international stores: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sun Update - and Coming Attractions

Still on the reduced summer blogging schedule for one more week. I'm trying to ramp up for full production in September, but I'm not yet where I want to be.

Where I want to be is a whole week ahead.  That is, I want to have all but the final polish done on all blog posts and art for the upcoming week by the time I do this "coming attractions" post.  I'm sort of rolling in to that, because I have a number of rough draft posts for further out, but this week.  But for this coming week, you have to squint really really hard to believe that what I have done constitutes a complete, unpolished draft.

This problem could haunt me a little throughout September because I don't have the episodes on this blog story done ahead of time. I have a very good idea of what will happen in each of those episodes.  There will be 41 total, plus a "credit cookie" episode which will lead into next summer's continuation of the story.  (There is one scene that might stretch into two, but even if so, the story WILL be done by the end of September.)

This week's progress for A Round of Words in 80 Days:

Wednesday Day 52 - 120 minutes
Thursday Day 53 - LOOOooooonng day at day job. (Or at least it seemed that way.)
Friday Day 54 - 190 minutes
Saturday Day 55 - 245 minutes

The tricky part here is remembering to record everything.  And I've decided to record everything (except screwing around on the internet).  I'm treating this like a job rather than a business. I'm punching the clock.  Since the day job decided not to demand the extra hours of me this semester after all, I figure that leaves 20 hours a week to devote to this blog.

Now, that's not twenty hours of nose-in-manuscript writing.  That twenty hours has to cover things like blog maintenance, approving comments, setting up a post template, brainstorming post ideas, everything related to running the blog.  In other words, what I would be doing if I were hired to do this and paid for it.

It won't include screwing around on the internet (even if it's considered "networking" or "promotion" or "learning" or "research"), or the informal idle "thinking" time that we all do on or off the clock.  Although I will include some tasks like that if they are formal and focused.  (For instance specific and necessary research tasks, or the time I take to list a post on a linky list.)

Even so, I think it's going to be tricky hitting the 20 hour point.  Especially if I keep failing to capture the work I do on the clock.

This Past week's posts:

Coming This Week on the Blog:

Monday - Episode 33 "Alex Captured"
...and Rozinshura is once more disappointed.

Wednesday - Organizing my Blog - The Tickler File
I'm treating my blog as a serious (well, sorta) publication this fall, so I will have an editorial calendar.  To manage it, I'm going old-school with a "Tickler File."

Thursday - Episode 34  "The High Commissioner Arrives"
As the High Commissar arrives, Rozinshura decides to skip the detective work and go straight to the top. If he can.

See you in the funny papers.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Misplaced Hero - Episode 32

The Case of the Misplaced Hero 32

Episode 32 - The Locked Larder Committee
by Camille LaGuire

Rozinshura sat at the back of the larder, on the bench, looking down at the odd little book in his hand.  Niko pounded madly at the door, while Lady Featherdale stood between them, uncertain what to do.

"Niko, there is no need to make your hand bloody," said Rozinshura, without looking up from the book.  "Listen first, then pound if you hear something."

"Yes, Kinchin Captain."  Niko, whose hand was sore, hunted down the lid of a crock to pound the door with if necessary.

"Lady Featherdale, was that man Winston Argoss?"

"No, Captain, he wasn't."

"Do you know him? Was he on the train with you?"

"I've never seen him before."

The captain let out a deep sigh and rubbed his head.  None of this made sense.  Lady Featherdale sat down on the bench beside him.

"Do you think the colonel mistook him for Argoss?" she asked.

Rozinshura shook his head.

"This man was carrying secrets, so... Pookiterin did not make a mistake," he said.  He stared for a moment and then burst out rapidly: "But that makes no sense!  I do not believe this man is a spy.  And I do not know where he came from.  I do not know how he gets secrets. He makes no sense."

He looked down again at the book, as though it held answers.  It was an Imprish book; a cheap thriller.  Such books were popular in Awarshawa, even though Awarshi soldiers and spies were always the villains -- portrayed as machine-like and single-minded beasts who kept coming even after being shot or thrown off a cliff.

Not so very different from Awarshi propaganda.

In these books, the Awarshi were always defeated, but it took every ounce of effort to do so.  In real life, Awarshi didn't win much, but like the Cussars, they never gave up. So... Rozinshura liked the books anyway.  He had learned to read Imprish by reading many such books.

And that was how he knew the childish code the message was written in. The boy heroes of such novels always used the same code; write the letters backwards. A silly, easy code a diplomat or a spy would never use.

Would a professor of philosophy use such a code? Perhaps, but it was not a professorial sort of book. It was more the sort of book a professor would confiscate from his students....

Rozinshura sat up.

Perhaps that was how he got it!  He wasn't given the message.  He met up with this student named Alex, and he took the book. And then what?  How did this man get here, so far from anything, and so very drunk, except by train? It made no sense.

"Are you sure you have seen everyone on the train?" he asked the lady.

"The train was a special hired for our delegation," said Lady Featherdale, "so there were no strangers among the passengers.  But I don't suppose I know the crew.  This may sound very imperial of me, but one doesn't notice a porter or a waiter.  They're invisible."

"A waiter!" exclaimed Rozinshura

"You think he was a waiter?"

"Who is invisible, but not invisible?  Who becomes a hero to a drunk when he suddenly appears?"

"Why, I suppose a waiter would fit that description." said Lady Featherdale. "What's the riddle about?"

"Niko! Who is that boy, the one who was helping you?"

"He is from the wreck--"

"No, he is not.  Who is he?"

"He said his name is Alex, Kinchin Captain."

Rozinshura buried his face in his hands.  Right under his nose, with the plate of blootchkes. At least it was also right under Pookiterin's nose.

"Did the colonel show any interest in him?"

"No, Kinchin Captain.  He was his usual arrogant self and hardly noticed him. That's why I gave him the keys."

"Well, we have an advantage if we ever get out of here."

"Captain," said Lady Featherdale, "do you think they will shoot us?"

The captain paused for a very long time.  "Normally I would say no, but if there really is a coup, it depends on who wins.  And the risk is that we may be in the hands of the losers who would not care how Imperia would react."

"Oh," said her ladyship, looking somewhat subdued.

"Listen!" hissed Niko. He pressed his ear to the door.  "Somebody is here.  I can't tell who.  Should I knock?"

Rozinshura nodded.  Sooner probably would be better, for shooting or escaping.

The Case of the Misplaced Hero -- now available as an ebook at major online retailers, including:

In most ebook formats at Smashwords, plus Amazon's Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel, Apple iBookstore(Coming soon to Sony.)

Now also at Amazon's international stores: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Blog Story - What I'll Do Differently pt 2

All right.....

I learned a lot of stuff this summer.  I consider these Wednesday updates in August to be a kind of "summer wrap up" where I talk about that.  But I also changed my plans a few times, and I've got these big ideas in my head that are pushing out the little things I wanted to talk about.  So.... I'm going to shove the big ideas aside for a bit, and talk about nitpicky little things.

The Devil, and The Opportunity, Is In The Details

I am a great believer in what I call Passive Marketing.  I'll expand on that a more this fall, but what it's about here is Optimizing My Stuff: making the blog more attractive, make the links work better, make it clearer what people are looking at, better titles, better covers, better blurbs, better writing.

The blog story -- this online novel I've been writing -- is new, and I've been just feeling my way along.  Since I'm shifting the rest of my blog back into gear in September, I need to think about what I want to do with the presentation of the blog story:

Episode Layout

When I look at each episode -- that is, how it looks when you click a link and land on it -- I think I've got a little too much header.  It takes up so much space that the story itself starts almost "below the fold." You have to scroll to get started.

So what can I do?

First, I should look at the header for the whole blog -- the banner with the lady with the sword.  The image part of that is perfect for the blog, and I'm not going to mess with that, other than maybe find the source files and fix the ugly color of that frame border.  But the subtitle is just too big.

I really don't want to get entangled in a complete new template design right now, and Blogger's interface doesn't make it easy to change the size of just that text.  So I'm thinking of removing that text and putting it in the sidebar.

Once that's done, I think I can make the header within the post more efficient. Right now I've got a tiny paragraph which acts as a story navigation bar.  That could be smaller and more efficient -- not full sentences, but just links.

Next below that is the artwork and then the series and episode titles.  The text repeats what's in the artwork.  I think it's imporant to have the text because it's clear in all browsers and some people read in text only.   So...

Much as I love the format of an illustrated title header, I'm not going to use the art that way any more.  I'm going to do the illustration in a more "drop cap" style.  A square or rectangular illustration embedded in the first paragraph.  That should bring both the illo and the first paragraph up "above the fold" even on small screens.  (Also, the artwork will look better in those preview thumbnails which only show the middle of the image.)

The Art Itself

I've learned quite a bit this summer, but I hit a plateau in my development somewhere around Episode 20.  I set myself some strict limits in how I did the art -- particularly in format and color palette.  (I used five specific hues, and only varied them by lightness and saturation.)  I'm ready to move on.

And since I am changing stories, it's going to be somewhat easier to set myself a new challenge, but I would do it even if I were continuing with the same story.  (And how I hope that when I get back to this story next summer, I will have stronger skills, and I can take the style I've established and improve it.)

So, in October, when I start the new story, I will work on a new style. It will still be abstracted, but instead of solid silhouettes, I'll be going for a woodcut look.  The story is set in a world which suggests American Revolutionary times -- a time for rough woodcuts in printing -- but it also has a bit of the feel of a melodrama or political play which looks back on that time from a more recent period.

I went for a WPA poster look for the cover of the first book, The Wife of Freedom, and I plan to stick with that for the books.  However for the next blog story, Test of Freedom, I will do just black and white and go with the more rustic style.

Also, I am also not going to do a different illustration for each episode.  Instead, I am going to do something like they did with Adventure Magazine, and do a set of repeating "dingbat" illustrations.  I will probably do a set representing various characters and locations, and perhaps ideas, and use them as a "scene setter" for each episode.  I could use it to set point of view, or the setting, or something else.  I might to some illustrations which are specific to the episode too.

This will give me a chance to work on the illustrations a little more (and I might even polish the image when I reuse it sometimes).  It also means I might do more than one illustration per episode. 

Episode Footer

I like the navigation footer (the "stay tuned for Episode XXX" part). And I did learn from Daring Adventure Stories that the post footer can be an effective place to put a book purchase link. However, I think what I've had there is too long. I'm looking at ways to have something small and efficient but still effective.

The Rest of the Blog

This summer, I mostly took off from real blogging. I posted the blog story, and my ROW80 update posts, but otherwise just posted the occasional think piece when it struck me.  In the fall, I'm going back to real and earnest blogging.

I've got to get organized, and so next week -- the last Wednesday of August, I'll combine the self-absorption of summer with the useful cool posts of fall, and post about a great organizational tool I'm going to adapt to this blog. It's called a "Tickler File" -- once the mainstay of newspaper work, now a popular item for the productivity crowd.  In the meantime....

See you in the funny papers.

Progress report for "A Round of Words in 80 Days"

Saturday Day 48 - 123 minutes.
Sunday Day 49 - 240 minutes. (I left Monday's episode to the last minute, had to work like a demon.)
Monday Day 50 - 55 minutes.
Tuesday Day 51 -65 minutes. (And a long day at work!)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Misplaced Hero - Episode 31

The Case of the Misplaced Hero 31

Episode 31 - There Once Was a Man From Michigan
by Camille LaGuire

The colonel led them to the railway station, and then, after a nervous pause in which he paced back and forth, he led them on beyond the station, to a row of small sheds and warehouses along the tracks.  He kept glaring back at his drunken guards, as if he wanted nothing to do with them, or with Thorny himself.

And Thorny himself? He felt like a dog's dinner.

And not one of your expensive, gourmet dogs' dinners either.  A cheap, half-rotten dog's dinner for which there had been a product recall issued.

And yet....  for all he felt like death warmed over, he also felt very alive.  This was not your ordinary self-inflicted hangover misery.  Or even the misery of a misspent career. This was visceral and dramatic and gritty.

It was poetic, that's what it was. Worthy of a literary masterpiece. He called out, as words came flowing into his head.

"There once was a man from Michigan, who found himself in a fix again...."

That wouldn't do.  He wasn't in a fix again.  This was the first fix of his ever lovin' life.  This was new and fresh.  Michigan just didn't rhyme with new things.

"He hadn't the time, to come up with a rhyme," Thorny continued.  "When the rotten guards threatened him ... with a gun!"

"Shut him up!" cried the colonel. It was a ringing, pathetic cry, like a cry for mercy.

One of the guards swung a wild roundhouse punch, and managed to land it on the side of Thorny's head. Thorny went down on his seat and the guard fell right on top of him, as though Thorny were a live grenade.  My poetry is explosive, he thought.

The colonel had no interest poetry. He paced and seemed to dither, as though not sure what to do next.  He looked down on Thorny and the guard with a look of fearful pain.

"Shouldn't we kill him?" asked guard who was still standing.

"Kill who?" said Thorny.  In answer, and as if to validate Thorny's poem, the guard pulled out a pistol and aimed it at Thorny's head.  This was more of an existential crisis than he was ready for.  He struggled but didn't make it to his feet.

"Yes... no! Not here," said Pookiterin, and he looked around nervously.   He flinched as a train whistle blew in the near distance.  "And not now."

"But Kinchin Colonel, maybe now is better.  Before they get here."

"Now is not better!" said Thorny.  He struggled half up.  "You don't know what's coming on that train!"

The colonel flinched again.  Yes, Thorny had been awake during that conversation in the larder, between the colonel and the captain.  That was what was making the colonel nervous.

"It could be a friend or an enemy, couldn't it?" continued Thorny. "Maybe they want me alive!  Maybe they want to kill me themselves, did you think of that?  After all that fighting you did with the captain to get me, you're just going to dump me in an alley?  Don't be ridiculous!  I could be your ticket to glory!"

The colonel stood there, twitching.  He looked at his guards and then at Thorny.

"Glory?" he said. "You are an embarrassment!  All three of you."

"Then hide us!  Then you can find out where you stand with the people on the train, before you do anything irrevocable."

Pookiterin paused, surprised.  "Hide all three of you, then?  Yes, that will do.  There is just time for that."

He directed the guards to take Thorny into one of the sheds by the tracks, while he went off in search of something. As the guards tied Thorny up, hand and foot, Pookiterin returned.  He did not enter the shed, but rather swung the door shut.  In a moment they could hear the scrape of a latch and then the firm click of a padlock.

All three were now locked in.

"If he keeps going this way, he'll have everyone in the world locked up," said Thorny.  The guards simply kicked him.

The Case of the Misplaced Hero -- now available as an ebook at major online retailers, including:

In most ebook formats at Smashwords, plus Amazon's Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel, Apple iBookstore(Coming soon to Sony.)

Now also at Amazon's international stores: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sun Update - and Coming Attractions

Okay I've discovered the first problem of my deadline oriented goals:


Since the posts themselves are self-evident, I don't feel the need to record them and then when I try to do my update reports, I don't remember what I did each day....

Reporting is really important to a writing challenge, though.  And it's nice to be able to have a progress bar.  (Or a "4580 of 30,000 words", or "6 out of 18 chapters")  I want a progress bar!

I wrote about five pages of blather for this post on different ideas, but I realized that I was dismissing the obvious one: Minutes.

I love using minutes.  They have worked well for me in the past.  The only reason I didn't think of them was because I've used them as a self-discipline tool in the past -- I would pick a specific task I needed to concentrate on above others, and I'd only count the time working on that task.

Well, the self-discipline here is being covered by the deadlines -- so now I can use minutes differently.  I can use them to measure how hard I'm working over all. So every task in the job gets counted, whether I'm working on a blog post or story, or illustrating or doing web work.  (The one thing that doesn't count is "screwing around on the internet" -- even if it's research or "networking" -- because I do too much of that and I need to cut back.)

What I'm debating now is whether I should set a minutes goal or not.  If I do, that could cause me to take my eye off the ball on the main goal: meeting deadlines.  So I think I'm just going to ... record and report minutes spent on the job.

That's really as much as I need to do. This semester, at the day job, is going to be ... interesting.  Actually, it's pretty clear that it is already shaping up to be a major soap opera as directed by John Woo.

(Unfortunately it means no progress bar.  Curses!  I suppose I could just pick an arbitrary number, with no time limit and keep going until I get there....)

This week's progress for A Round of Words in 80 Days:

The first part of the week was marked by ideas sparking in my head.  Especially ideas for blog posts, which I did some rough partial drafts on for finishing and posting this fall.  I also had some epiphanies on my novels -- which are not part of this dare.

I put my finger on one thing that's bugging me about Devil in a Blue Bustle.  I wrote  the beginning of the story while I was still developing Mick and Casey, and there are some ethical matters which need to be handled differently.  Not a lot differently, but it's enough to throw me off.  The other thing is just that, since it started as a shorter story, I feel there is a lack of guest characters you can root for.  I feel like with Have Gun, Will Play, the audience has a relationship with all the characters, good and bad.  With this, I feel the audience has a relationship with the plot. That works for a novella, it doesn't work for a novel.  Part of this is that the roots of the story is far away, so there isn't as much to observe.

Now that I know this, I realize the story will take longer than I hoped, but I also realize it will be a better story.

This Past week's posts:

Coming This Week on the Blog:

Monday - Episode 31 "There Once Was A Man From Michigan"
Thorny vs. Pookiterin

Wednesday - Blogstory Experiment, What I'll Do Differently, Part 2
This week I'll talk about how I'll approach the art and story differently.

Thursday - Episode 32 "The Locked Larder Committee"
Rozinshura takes on the issue of the book, and who owns it.

I have some great plans for the blog starting in September, including several series on things like Impact Characters and issues in Writing the Online Novel, and What We Can Learn From Actors, and Convenience, and Clues.  But I'll talk a little about that on Wednesday.

See you in the funny papers.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Misplaced Hero - Episode 30

Episode 30 - Lina's Story
by Camille LaGuire

FOR A MOMENT, Lina evaded his gaze, as if she were afraid to tell him about it.  Then she finally just took a deep breath and started talking.

"We were in the woods," she began.  "We had heard there were bandits around, so we were scouting for them.  Then I heard the train wreck."  She looked up finally and continued earnestly.  "It was so loud.  And there was shooting. I sent my little brother to tell the village, and I stayed low until the shooting stopped.  Then I went to see, and I  found a man who was shot and dying. He had unruly gray hair like your friend."

"He was the spy?" prompted Alex.

"He said that there would be a bomb at the council in Marvu, tomorrow.  And that Vshtin would be assassinated."

"Who's he?"

She gave him a sidelong glance, and frowned.  Obviously he should know who the guy was, but Alex wasn't even sure he could pronounce the name.  Alex struggled for a reason for his ignorance, but she suddenly gave him a knowing look.

"You are Freedonian, aren't you?" she said.  "You people listen to nothing but yourselves!"

"Sorry," he replied.  "So this Vush-teen is--"

"Vshtin!" she said, somehow getting all the sounds into one syllable.  "He is our High Commissar.  He is popular, but there are some who think he has too easily made friends with Imperia.  Assassination will incite all sides.  And if they blame it on foreign elements, the whole continent would be at war."

"But this spy said it's not foreign elements?  It's an internal plot?"

"Yes, and the spy told me who was good and who was bad in this plot.  I wrote them down, but I can't remember them without the paper."

"And where is the paper?"

"I put it in a book. Pookiterin took it when he arrested us. But he didn't ask any questions about it. I wrote the names backwards, so perhaps he thought it was nonsense."

Alex sat back.  "I didn't see a book when you guys came into the kitchen.  Could he have left it in the parlor?"

She shook her head.  "He left it in the tavern when the captain took your friend away.  He wasn't interested in my things, only me."

"So it could be still in the tavern with your papers and stuff," said Alex. If the captain wasn't in the tavern, Alex could pretend he was sent to fetch them, and....

"I didn't have any papers," said Lina.  "Just the book."

Alex paused.  Awarshawa didn't seem like the sort of place people went around without papers.  And it was funny how she'd evaded his eyes when she told the start of her story.  Was she lying about why she was in the woods?  He thought about how she had brandished that sword.

"Lina," he said.  "Are you one of the bandits?"

Her jaw dropped for a second, and then she covered her face and started to snort in a goofy laugh that didn't match her beauty -- but it made him laugh too.

"Seriously, Lina, you brandish that sword like a pirate, and you don't have papers."

"In the woods you don't need papers!" she protested.  "Awarshawa is not totalitarian! Is Anarcho-bureaucracy."

"Anarcho-bur....  What does that even mean?"

"It means in the woods you don't need papers."  She shook her head, and then she looked closely at him.  "And what about you Mr. Nobody? You are not from the train!"

"Why do you say that?"

"Because the captain kept asking and nobody knows who Alex is."

"They wouldn't know," said Alex.  "We... stowed away.  That is, Thorny did.  He ... had a nervous breakdown and ran away. I followed him to keep him out of trouble."

"Where did you get on the train?  What town?"

"I... have no idea. I've been chasing him around for days."

"Did you get on in Ertusk?"

Alex was too smart to fall for that trick -- Ertusk, wherever or whatever it was, was probably no where near where the train was coming from.

"I told you, I don't know."

"I think you're a bandit too."

"I won't tell if you don't," he said.  She shrugged, so he went on.  "So you need your book, and I need Thorny, and we both want to avoid the authorities.  I think I have a plan."

The Case of the Misplaced Hero -- now available as an ebook at major online retailers, including:

In most ebook formats at Smashwords, plus Amazon's Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel, Apple iBookstore(Coming soon to Sony.)

Now also at Amazon's international stores: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Blog Story Experiment - What I'll Do Differently, Part 1

I said my post today was going to be mostly about optimizing layout.  I'm going to talk about that next week. 

What I really want to talk about first is my shift in goals.

Like so many writers, especially writers of a certain age, I've got WAY too much stuff in my life -- way too many ideas, way too many projects, way too many interests, way too many promises and responsibilities -- and not enough time and energy for them.

So the quest of my existence is to find a way to fit everything into a comfortable package.  Including, you know, sleep.

This summer was a great experience. Usually summers don't work out for me.  I am not suited to the weather or the long days, and no matter how I set my goals, I never achieve them, and even if I manage to accomplish something, it's something other than I wanted or needed.

But this summer? With the blog story driving it?  It worked.  The pieces came together and it fit my lifestyle. I didn't sacrifice to accomplish anything, I enjoyed myself a lot, and I met my deadlines with art and story twice a week.


This summer was kind of done in the laboratory.  I didn't do anything else. I worked fewer hours at the day job. I cut back on the blog.  I also had lower expectations because summer is slow on the internet.  Fewer people watching and reading.

So I was able to throw a tremendous amount of energy into this experiment.  And it needed it -- Kris Rusch was right, 600-700 words is a TOUGH length, and doing it twice a week was a major challenge.  Especially since I was more or less pantsing it thew whole time.  Sure, I had a good idea of where I was going, but whenever I got an idea, it required a lot of brainstorming to figure out the exact right details I need to put in each highly distilled chapter.  And in the end I was often writing each chapter and doing the illo right up to deadline.

And I nearly sank myself trying to do the dual goal on the Clarion Write-a-thon.  I managed, more or less, but doing an expanded version and a distilled version did not work for me.  All it did was wear me out and set me back.

But that was a learning experience too.

So what does this mean for the future?

Well, I'm going to continue this experiment, so I guess the first thing it means is that I'm taking this out of the protected summer environment and checking it out during the regular year.

This is one of the reasons why I'm switching to a different story as soon as this one is over.  The other story, Test of Freedom, is drafted.  It will still require work, but it won't require that intensive brainstorming.  It will give me more time to see if this fits in with the rest of my life, and if I can get some other projects done.

But I want to do more than see if I can survive this effort.  I want to see if it will make me thrive?  Can what succeeded for me this summer continue to work for me the rest of the year?  Can I get work done? Can I build an audience?  Can I sell books?

Next week, I'm going to talk about some of the mundane little details of how I'm going to approach this differently -- how I'm gong to tweak my blog, and things like that.

And I just realized that is pretty scary.  Why?  Because I'm tired.  Fun is exhausting and I've been having fun and my brain isn't functioning well... and next week's Wednesday post is about details.  There are so many million little details to deal with when you shift into gear.

So I think one more thing I need to do, to make sure this fall is a success, is Conservation of Energy.  I need to make sure that I don't let the little things destroy what I'm doing.

The writing, and drawing, comes first.  If I never get my website improved, or my book blurbs optimized or anything else I intended to do, that's okay.  The prime test is to see if my writing life can survive this new schedule.

See you in the funny papers.

Progress report for "A Round of Words in 80 Days"

Sunday Day 42 - Illlustration for Episode 29
Monday Day 43 - Spontaneous Story Notes for Episode 29
Tuesday Day 44 - Working on a new version of Episode 31, and this update post.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Story Notes: Favorite Bits

It's always dangerous for a writer to say "this is my favorite bit!"

Because, you know, readers may not agree.  Or worse, they may nod knowingly to themselves and say, "Yeah, we noticed, you self-indulgent noodle-head."

But you know, favorite bits are what storytelling is all about.  If it's not a favorite bit, then it needs to be the part that makes the favorite bit work.  (And, admittedly, sometimes it takes a lot of other pieces to make a favorite bit work.)  Furthermore, you'll never figure out how to do "favorite bits" better if you don't take 'em out and look at 'em.

So with that in mind, I admit to you that yesterday's episode is one of my favorites.  I'll also admit that I'm not sure why.

But on thinking about it, I have a couple of theories:

One reason is pretty basic: this is the moment when the main story kicks into gear.

Oh, sure, the episode with Lina's escape is where the action starts.  But in terms of the main problem of the story -- rescuing Thorny -- it's just a catalyst.  As long as Thorny was safely locked in the larder, with the benevolent Niko watching over him, he was reasonably safe.  His rescue is a problem, not a crisis.

Now he's in danger.  (In the clutches of someone who may bear a slight resemblance to Daffy Duck, perhaps, but still a desperate man with a gun.)  And Rozinshura, who has been keeping a careful lid on things, now has a lid on himself.  Even if he gets out, things have gotten away from him.  So it's up to Alex, and Lina, neither of whom know what's happened.

The other reason, I suppose, is just that I enjoy a good old-fashioned Warner cartoon villain, and his inability to ever fully win.

Pookiterin is the sort of character who, in a silent picture, is a magnet for cream pies in the face.  He's the kind of character who, in a cartoon, runs off a cliff, his own delusion and momentum keeping him going forward until someone reminds him of the law of gravity.

And Rozinshura, when faced with such a character, can't seem to help but do his Bugs Bunny impression.  I don't think he's such an inveterate liar most of the time -- more of a leg-puller -- but Pookiterin just brings out the worst in him.

And when I think about it, a little gullibility suits even a great competent villain.  There's a wonderful moment in The Prisoner of Zenda (1937) where the charming young villain, Rupert, gets the drop on the hero, Rudolf.  On a rational level, Rupert knows that Rudolf is a goody-two shoes, but in his heart of hearts, he can't believe that Rudolf could just throw away his shot at taking over the country.  It's an opportunity Rupert will never have.

So when Rudolf pretends to be willing to turn to the Dark Side, Rupert is willing to listen, cautiously, to a possible bargain.   He lets Rudolf have a cigarette as they talk and Rudolf looks thoughtful and then makes an offer.

"Half my kingdom...," he says.

Rupert, for one moment, utterly believes him.  It's his dream come true, he's being offered half the kingdom.

"....for a match," adds Rudolf wryly.

Rupert, of course, recovers quickly and grins.  He's a masterful villain, and scoring verbal points like that is one of his own skills, so he appreciates the skill in others.  But it does get under his skin sufficiently to give Rudolf an edge, and within moments the swordfight is on.

(You can see the scene in this six minute clip on YouTube -- the bit I'm talking about is about 2 minutes in.)

Cloak and sword heroes and villains have to be good at mind games. And I think that's one of the reasons Rozinshura stepped, unbidden, into a larger role in this story.  Alex is a little too young and inexperienced to be quite that wily.

Rozinshura, however, needs to watch out.  Not only can his glib way of bending the truth get himself into trouble, it also can get ME into trouble.  He's the only source of information on many things for the audience.  A character who lies a lot can be fine for building in twists, but it also can be very confusing in something as tightly written and short as this.

It's tempting to write a trickster scene as a script -- just give the dialog and let the audience learn to trust or not to trust.  But while that's fun, you have to have room for set up and to establish enough reality so that the audience is comfortable and not confused.  But with this story, because so much is out of the realm of knowlege of the audience and even the characters, and because all of the characters have something to hide from each other, I decided that the veiwpoint characters have to play fair with the audience.

So I've been including a little more of a "scorecard" with what Rozinshura says. It may stick out a bit too much, but I think it's necessary.

Trickster characters have been a favorite of mine since Puss In Boots.  (And folks, if you only know Puss In Boots from Shrek movies, you gotta read some iteration of the original folk tale.  Much as I love the swashbuckling Puss with the Castillian lisp, the original kitty was less Zorro and more snake oil salesman.)

Hmmmm.  I may do something about Puss In Boots -- and modern variations like Lady For A Day or Pocket Full of Miracles -- for Friday Favorites this fall.

See you in the funny papers.

(Or perhaps I should say "Ah buh, the...  ah buh, the.... That's All Folks!")

Misplaced Hero - Episode 29

The Case of the Misplaced Hero 29

Episode 29 - Thorny Revealed
by Camille LaGuire

Throughout the interview, Rozinshura had been sitting lazily, as if he were indeed a fool.  But as soon as Pookiterin was gone, he launched himself to his feet, and made his way across the kitchen with surprising speed to where Niko and Lady Featherdale were waiting.

"Quickly," he said.  "That won't keep him long.  Where are my keys?"

"Pookiterin threatened to search me, so I gave them to the boy to hold," said Niko. Rozinshura swore softly, and looked at the door. He wondered how much trouble it would be to remove the hinges.

"But I do have my own keys," said Niko, and he produced them from a shelf behind some pots and pans.

"Good man!" said Rozinshura.  "Fetch some of your hangover cure too.  He will need it."

Rozinshura unlocked the door and roused the old man. Thornton was hard to wake, but between the captain and Niko, they got him upright and had him drinking the cure, and moaning.  When he was awake enough, they stepped aside and pointed him to the doorway, where Lady Featherdale waited.

When her ladyship saw his face, she gasped.

For a moment Rozinshura's spirits lifted. She knew him!  But then he saw she was not looking at the old man. She stumbled into the larder as though pushed.

Pookiterin was standing behind her with a pistol.  Behind him were his two guards -- the worse for drink but upright.

"You think I am an idiot?" snarled Pookiterin.

Rozinshura sighed.

"I hoped you thought I am an idiot," he said.

"I knew you had the spy here. I knew it!  So I waited to see what you would do when I left, and here he is!"

"My orders are--" began Rozinshura.

"Your orders are worthless!" said Pookiterin.  "I heard the whistle of a train when I went outside.  Whoever is on that train will be no friend of yours. That emissary will come from General Bargellin, my superior."

"Are you sure?" said Rozinshura.

"Of course I'm sure! What am I telling you?"

"Are you sure it's not Vshtin himself on that train?"

"But you said..."

"I lied."

It was as though Rozinshura had dumped a bucket on Pookiterin's head.  The colonel seemed to struggle for breath, but it was no time to celebrate victory. Pookiterin still had the gun and he was pointing it at Rozinshura's heart.

"And the telegraph lines?" stammered the colonel.

"They've been down for a month now. They're always down. It means nothing."

"How did you hear he was coming, then?" said Pookiterin, suspicious.

"We go down to Vinschke every day for orders and messages."

The fact was Rozinshura was lying again; the lines were fine.  But he hoped Pookiterin would run to town to ask his masters for instructions.

But Pookiterin only licked his lips in desperation and waggled the gun.

"You and your cook are still under arrest," he said, his gaze darting back and forth, as if he were making up his story on the spot.  "You helped the Cussar girl escape. And... and yes, you tried to shelter this spy!"

Was he just planning how to cover his tracks, or was he building up courage to shoot them all? As he dithered, Rozinshura decided to help him make up his mind.  The space was small, but he and Niko were to either side.

"If you shoot me now, Niko will kill you," said Rozinshura.  "If you shoot Niko, I will kill you."

Pookiterin drew himself up, looking slightly more panicked, as if that had been his plan, but he recovered well.

"You will be shot by firing squad, according to rules.  For now, you are all under arrest."

"But what about me?" said Lady Featherdale.

"You will be detained!" shouted Pookiterin.  "As a matter of security!  Now give me my spy!"

"Why shouldn't he be detained with us?" tried Rozinshura, but Pookiterin swung his gun to Rozinshura's face and seemed ready to shoot in spite of himself.

Rozinshura surrendered Professor Thornton, along with his keys.  In only a moment the three of them were locked in the larder.

The Case of the Misplaced Hero -- now available as an ebook at major online retailers, including:

In most ebook formats at Smashwords, plus Amazon's Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel, Apple iBookstore(Coming soon to Sony.)

Now also at Amazon's international stores: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sun Update - and Coming Attractions

Midpoint in ROW80 Round 3

I meant to do different things than I did this week.  I meant, for instance, to draft more episodes of The Serial.  I did do a lot of think-work on it. And I wrote a limerick for Episode 33, in which Thorny is sober enough to realize how surreal his experience is becoming, and how that should inspire his literary side... but not sober enough to be all that literary.  I also figured out how to shuffle the correct swords into the correct hands for the finale.

And I wrote the super-rough drafts of a bunch of blog posts for fall.  I have two series coming up, one on genre and different ways of looking at it, and one on Impact Characters -- those major characters who are not the villain and not the protagonist, so what are they?  But those series are for fall, an I don't know yet how many posts will be in each series. It might be as little as two each, or they might spread out over four or more.

A Round of Words in 80 Days Update

This Segment's Progress:

Wednesday Day 38 - Illo for Thursday's Episode
Thursday Day 39 - Posted Episode 28 "The Girl With The Sword"
Friday Day 40 - Drafted the "credit cookie" ending for the story.
Saturday Day 41 - Drafted future blog posts, and wrote this update.

This Week's Upcoming Posts

Monday - Episode 29 "Thorny Revealed"
Rozinshura has to get Thorny out, identified and moved before Pookiterin gets back.

(And an unscheduled post on Tuesday: Story Notes for Ep 29 - Villains, Cartoons and Favorite Bits)

Wednesday - Blog Story Logistics; Some Things I'll Do Differently.
A look back at how I did this serial, and a few things I'll change. (Mostly about optimizing the layout.)

Thursday - Episode 30 "Lina's Story"
Lina tells her story of finding the dying spy.

See you in the funny papers.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Misplaced Hero - Episode 28

The Case of the Misplaced Hero 28
Episode 28 - The Girl With The Sword
by Camille LaGuire

Alex stood still a moment, the sword at his throat.

It was a sabre, and the girl was holding it not with the point toward him, but with the edge angled, ready to slash.  Alex's first thought was that she seemed more afraid of him than she had been of Pookiterin.

His second thought was why?

"Why did you try to poison that officer?" she repeated, perhaps answering the question.

"I was just trying to help you."

"Are you an assassin?" she said, narrowing her eyes further.  "Were you trying to stop him from finding out something?

"No!" said Alex.  "It was just a drug. It's anti-poison, actually.  It's in my pocket.  Can I show you?"

"No.  Put your hands on your head and turn around."

When he obeyed, she patted his pockets and found the bottle.  She stepped back to read it, and he turned around to watch.  She frowned at the bottle and mouthed the words with difficulty.  She was a peasant girl and probably couldn't read very well, but at least the writing was in Awarshi. After a second, she looked up.

"It's ipecac," she said, and she almost smiled.  She knew what ipecac was.

"That's right. It would just make him throw up.  And then I could get the drop on him, and you could get away."

She lowered the sword, although kept it at the ready.  She squinted at him as she thought for a moment.

"Why would you help me?" she said.

"I think you were arrested with a friend of mine.  Professor Thornton. He is--"

"Wet and old and drunk?"

"Yes, he fell in the river. Or, actually, he jumped, but he wasn't trying to kill himself. He was just so drunk he thought it was a cool idea."

"He is foolish," she said with a knowing nod.  "He talks too much."

"He's a professor," he replied.  "Words are his business." He paused and then added. "I'm Alex."

"My name is Lina," she said and she rested the tip of the sword casually on the ground.  He remembered, though, how wildly she could wield it.

"So you've see him, then?" said Alex.  "Is he okay?  Did they hurt him?"

"He'll have some bruises," she said.  "Who is he?"

"He's just a professor of literature."

"Why are the captain and the colonel fighting over him?"

"No reason at all.  He's just an old man."

She sank down to sit on a pile of sacks, and blew air out between her lips.  She avoided looking at him, and didn't question his answer, like maybe she had an answer of her own.  He remembered the questions she asked Pookiterin.

"You think my friend was mistaken for somebody else, don't you?" he said.

She nodded slowly.  "I think he fits the description of a real spy who was killed in the train wreck."

"And you know something about this real spy?"

"I saw him die," she said.  "I was with him.  It was no accident."

Alex pulled one of the bales of blankets down and put it on the floor and sat himself.

"Maybe you'd better tell me about it."

The Case of the Misplaced Hero -- now available as an ebook at major online retailers, including:

In most ebook formats at Smashwords, plus Amazon's Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel, Apple iBookstore(Coming soon to Sony.)

Now also at Amazon's international stores: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wed Update - ROW80 Goals

As I mentioned in the Popcorn Tigers post, this fall I'm radically changing my writing focus for the rest of this year.

I'm going to be Deadline Driven.

That means that nothing counts until it's published.

And to that end, I am merging my blog and my fiction writing.  You're not just going to hear about my writing, you're going to see it right here -- with the twice-a-week serial and the once-a-month comic strip.  Kind of a "what you see is what you get" thing.

Or perhaps I should say that deadline/submission/publication is where the rubber hits the road with writing.  That's the defining moment of a story, when it's in somebody else's hands.

My blog is now my writing life, my career, my work in progress -- and my dare goal.

Goals for the Rest of ROW80

The Blog Story for the remainder of this round will still be The Case of the Misplaced Hero.  It should be finished right around the end of the round on September 20.

I will meet six deadlines per week -- however, since I won't go back to my full blog publishing schedule until September, August is going to be a bit of a cheat:


For August, I'll be blogging four days a week, so I'm counting illustrations as a separate item:

  • 2 illos
  • 2 episodes
  • 2 update posts

I also hope to have the whole story done on Misplaced Hero, and maybe even get the ebook finished.  I'll post more about this project as it goes along.


I'll move to six posts per week, and I'll count each post as one item, illustrations and all.

  • Monday: Blogstory Episode, with illo
  • Tuesday: Rotating posts (see below)
  • Wednesday: Thinky-Writery Post and small update
  • Thursday: Blogstory Episode, with illo
  • Friday: Friday Favorites, talk about books and movies
  • Sunday: Progress Update and Preview of Coming Attractions

Tuesdays will have four rotating posts each month:

1st - Miss Leech and The Yard comic strip
2nd - Story Notes, or microfiction or jokes
3rd - Typography Talk (or other Art subjects)
4th - An old public domain story posted over on Daring Adventure Stories
(5th - on those months with a fifth Tuesday, it'll be potluck -- maybe microfiction or jokes.)

Other projects in September: If I don't have The Misplaced Hero ready for ebook publication before now, that will be a priority in September.  I also have to update and reformat Wife of Freedom -- the prequel to Test of Freedom, my next blogstory.

Wife of Freedom was the first book I e-published, and could use some format improvements, as well as a note at the end to direct people to the blog for the sequel.

See you in the funny papers.

Progress report for "A Round of Words in 80 Days 

I took a break for this half-week  I did do some work each day,  however.

Sunday Day 35 - Illustration for Monday's Episode
Monday Day 36 - Worked on the end sequence.
Tuesday Day 37 - Worked more on the end sequence.