Kind of wiped out today

We headed about 80 miles north, to Astoria today. The problem is it takes about six hours to get there. Traffic is horrendous, and slow.

We also stopped at Cannon Beach both directions. Astoria is kind of a bust. It just doesn’t have the charm of the other coastal towns. We drove past the Goonies house, but it is privately owned. We found an article that said the owner isn’t too happy that Google marked it on their maps. People knock at all hours of the day and night, they leave trash in his yard, etc. We drove past and moved on.

Cannon beach is where a lot of the scenery for the movie was filmed, and it’s much more charming. We stopped again on the way back to take pictures of what I’m calling the One Eyed Willy rocks.

I added another tee shirt to my pile. This one has a cool Bigfoot graphic on it. When winter comes, I’m going to have some cool new shirts to wear around the house.

I took one photo in Cannon Beach, because the place spoke to me. All of the downtown is so cute and put together, then there is this one building. It’s been neglected, and looks like a story element to me. One of my commenters said she likes my inspirational stuff, so here it is. Haunted art gallery, anyone?

We drove through some ancient forests today. The undergrowth consisted of blackberries, segmented grasses, and ferns. All the downed logs were covered in thick mosses. The whole thing screams, “Once upon a time.” It isn’t hard to envision Treebeard, or fairies living there.

I’ve read many stories where magic ebbed and flowed in some cycle. Most of the time it’s the lunar cycle. Why not the tide? This is also influenced by the moon, but it happens twice per day. It might be fun to delay the final battle with your evil character to time the low tide, when the character is weaker. Miss it, and the monster may come after you on the high tide. It could increase the urgency, whereas waiting for a month could get boring.

That’s it for tonight. I bought a shellfish license, and may throw out my crab ring tomorrow. I love crabbing, and the eating isn’t bad either.

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I am such a tourist

We stuck both North and South of Lincoln City today. I don't know what it is about Oregon, but they don't seem very original here. We drove through Salem, Dallas, Detroit, and now we're in Lincoln County. They also have a Portland here. They need one of the fantasy authors to send them some original names.

We went to the aquarium in Newport. We went there years ago, but it's always fun. I wound up with a tee shirt that has a big octopus on it, because I'm a tourist. Here are some snaps.

I was too short to make my beard stick out.

I took quite a few photos, but won't bore you with more than a few.

Fly my minions, and turn everyone into zombies.

We hit the Tillamook cheese factory to the north of Lincoln City. We ate so much grilled cheese stuff, I may need to visit the bran factory tomorrow.

I'd love to get an interview with Bigfoot for this blog. He isn't responding to my emails… Yet.

Tomorrow we are heading for Astoria. My wife is a huge Goonies fan, and wants to see where it was filmed. Maybe she can order some Rocky Road ice cream while she's there. The girls went to the factory outlet mall, and I stayed behind to update the old blog. They promised to scope out someplace that sells chowder and craft beer.

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Stresssss!

Today was rough. My wife was in a panic because she couldn't retrieve her email off the Cableone account. She connected with some service kid in Bangalore. Then she yelled at him, because he couldn't understand her. She was to the point of stomping her hoof, once for yes and two for no, before handing the phone to me. I had the poor tech in one ear and my angry wife in the other for well over two hours. (And I wonder how I wound up with high blood pressure.)

I wound up allowing him to access our computer to fix the problem, which still took over an hour. I need to go back in and lock out access after I post this.

Then my work contacted me, because apparently no one can cover for me if I take a vacation. If I never take a vacation I get in trouble for that. I'm almost better off to go home and never plan anything, just so I can be available on-call to approve things.

We spent the afternoon loading the camper and hooking up the truck. I have several items locked in my backseat. I'll transfer those to the truck bed before we drive away. I just didn't want someone stealing them overnight.

Right now, I'm about ready to scream, and may still. The only saving grace was my father. He grew this in his vegetable garden and is very proud of it.

To tell you the truth, I don't know if it's one of their fancy odd colored carrots, or if it's a parsnip. It kind of made my day in the same way it made Dad's. It's probably a good thing I didn't see this before writing Will O' the Wisp. Those who read the book will know what I'm referring to.

It's even more entertaining after two pints of Smithwick's. I rarely post on Tuesdays, but tomorrow is mostly about traveling. I can probably answer comments after I get camp made. Have a great time and I'll check in later.

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Why I like to plan ahead

I lost some time this weekend to company. We had fun and it was well worth having them up. These things keep happening, and so I've learned to plan ahead. Here is another example.

My task list for this fall is pretty long. I'm starting in August just to get ahead of the curve. I knew today and tomorrow were available. My wife came home this afternoon and announced she took tomorrow off to get ready. That's how it goes. I have today only.

I spent hours today trying to figure out how to make an interactive table of contents for my book of shorties. I made a table, but I don't like it. It does not appear in the text of the book. I can open an ePub format under iBooks, and it appears when you click the tab. It works flawlessly there.

The problem is I want to give it a clever title, like Roster of Experiments. That does not appear under the tab. I'm left with that title in the book and absolutely nothing visible underneath. Kill me now. It looks terrible like that.

Now I have no idea how much damage I did to the manuscript. Of course I didn't work off of a copy, because my genius apparently does have boundaries. I think my next great stunt is to put it through the Amazon grinder and see how the preview looks.

After tugging out shards of my beard, I tried a different project. I sent off everything for my October blog tour. This was out of an internal need to scratch something off my list. Add this to making a commitment to my next novel, and it qualifies as forward motion.

I also wrote another Macabre Macaroni story. It needs a bit of polish, but it exists. That gives me three stories, and I need a minimum of four. Maybe I'll see something creepy and oozing at the coast that will inspire me.

We're probably going to wind up driving most of Wednesday. This means I'll probably skip my post that day. I won't leave you guys hanging, and will post at least something while we're on vacation.

Tomorrow is all about loading up, hooking up, and charging up. We leave early in the morning on Wednesday. Have a good week everyone.

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Choosing my next novel.

Company drove away this morning. We’re going to be getting the camper ready for the next few days, and I feel the need to get something accomplished. This one is just a choice and a commitment, but I’ve struggled mightily to get here. I decided today is the day, because I can strike something off my task list before vacation starts.

Lisa* pulled the decrepit old Land Rover to the front of the writing cabin. She wore a sleeveless mini-dress in a jaguar print. She put her hair up in the victory rolls she so often wears.

I climbed in beside her and we headed for the beach. We parked by a large outrigger canoe. I crawled in front while she pushed us into the water. The sky was cloudless and the blue tropical water helped ease the tension of my pending decision. I let a hand dangle in the water, until some kind of serpent rolled off to our left.

“How come I’m the only one paddling?” Lisa asked.

“Because you have the strength of ten men. You’re better than an outboard motor.”

The island wasn’t far, and the swaying palm trees were already visible. Lisa headed us toward the sandy beach.

“Better blow that conch shell, so they know to gather,” I said.

“Robot girls don’t have lungs, remember. You’ll just have to blow it yourself.”

I brushed my mustache aside to make a good contact, took a deep breath, and blew. The huge seashell made a mighty blaat. I smacked my lips. “Tastes kind of fishy. Maybe we’d better run it through the dishwasher when we get back.”

Lisa beached our canoe and we left the beach on a rocky trail.

“I told them we’d all meet near the Moai statues,” she said.

“Near that handsome one?”

“Yeah, your favorite one.”

We took our places behind a table, all decked out with a grass skirt and tropical drinks in porcelain coconut shells. The contestants wandered in and took up places.

I slid the microphone in front of me and took a sip of my drink. “All of you have worked very hard this summer. Everyone has points that make a good novel. You all have something that works as my personal challenge. Unfortunately, everyone has weak spots too. Many of these cannot be addressed until I’m in the first draft phase.”

Lisa said, “Wargler and Grinder, please step forward.”

One group, dressed in large hats with rapiers and flintlock pistols stepped forward. They had a small hairy fellow with them, that reminded me of a goat, with a dagger. Another group consisted of an older male cop and his young female partner. They had some gothic looking guy beside them, followed by a white rat and a large muskrat.

I slid the microphone in front of me. “Wargler, you have a lot going for you. I love fantasy, and the slightly different setting appeals to me. Plumed hats and flintlocks seems like it would be fun to write. You have a fun personal challenge in making someone who starts wars for profit into a character people can cheer for.

“This story must have a ton of deception and unreliability to work. This is also going to be fun to write, but it takes a lot of time to come up with. I have some good ideas, but not enough yet. It’s also going to be challenging to write it in such a way as to be fun, and not annoying.”

I turned my attention to the next group. “Grinder. I have so much hope for this story. I’ve been dying to get back to science fiction, and this tale really appeals to me. A detailed theft using surgically altered animals, would be fun to write. The dirty underside of a slightly futuristic city really appeals to me. The message of letting bio-hacking get out of control is also appealing.

“On the down side, you need more plot. Your bad guy is super smart, and the cops are inept. This isn’t bad, but somehow the cops have to deliver the conclusion. I have more cool ideas than plot right now. I can’t write between the cool ideas and call it a novel.”

Lisa leaned toward the microphone. “Grinder and Wargler, I’m sorry, you will not be the next C. S. Boyack novel. Please return to your camps and develop your plots.”

One of the Wargler characters slammed his cavalier hat on the ground. The muskrat from Grinder stood on her hind legs and spread her arms wide in a begging position. Eventually, they all shuffled off toward their camps.

“African Adventure and Yak Guy, please step forward.” Lisa steepled her fingers and sat back.

A beautiful blonde in safari gear and a pith helmet stepped forward with a young man wearing a western vest and brand new safari style hat. They were joined by a young man who appeared to be wearing second hand clothes, accompanied by a large black yak.

I needed another sip of my drink. “African Adventure, your outline is more developed than any other. You have almost everything going for you. There are so many antagonists, or antagonistic forces, that this will be an absolute thrill ride. The young American geologist who comes to Africa under false pretenses.–

The man snapped around to look at the woman, who bit her lip.

“The young woman who is trying to accomplish something in the 1890s. Women are not held in high regard, and she must manipulate the system somehow. There is even a witch doctor who controls some very dangerous animals. The Boer War, the Matabele uprising, man-eating animals, fire, and Africa herself have a lot to offer. The Boer woman’s name is Kimberlite, not Kimberly. That alone ought to tell folks why he’s a geologist, and what her secret plan involves. You are the only character among all the outlines with a name today.

“I like the personal challenge of turning this into a romance. I won’t write it as the primary force, but more as background. While Grinder and Wargler are ‘save the princess’ stories, this one is more along the lines of, ‘you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find, you get what you need.’

“There is a downside, and it’s a big one. It involves Internet trolls. The whole hubbub over Cecil the lion has me concerned. There is no way I’m going to write about the African bush in the 1890s and not include hunting. For an author who is lucky to get a dozen reviews, one or two people with an agenda could be a disaster. There is also the fact that this would be my third paranormal story in a row.”

I turned and faced the Yak Guy. “Your story is so strange, I don’t completely know what to do with it. It’s the tale of a young man with ‘failure to launch’ syndrome.”

Yak Guy spread his hands and sneered. The yak said, “I agree. He needs to grow up.”

I paused until they got the idea that I was talking. “I like the idea of using the major arcana of the tarot and telling the fool’s journey. It’s a wonderful personal challenge. I may have to combine some characters, and not go all the way through, but it sounds like fun. Your outline is also quite far along.

“On the downside, what the heck do I categorize it as? I’ve already made that mistake with my book of short stories. It seems like Amazon has a category that is like spiritual fantasy, and maybe that would work. The whole thing has a Purgatory flavor to it.”

I looked down and took a long sip of my drink. Lisa reached over and took my hand for support. I scribbled a note and slid it to her.

Lisa stood, wiggled side to side as she adjusted her dress, and addressed the remaining contestants. “You’ve both worked harder than the other contestants. Your outlines are more complete, and that’s why you’re in the final round. Each of you has the chops to carry a novel, and you probably both will someday. Today there can only be one winner. I’m sorry African Adventure, please return to your camp and work on your plot.”

She turned to Yak Guy. “Congratulations Yak Guy, you will be the next C. S. Boyack novel. Please pack your things and head for the dock. I’ll send a boat, and a, I don’t know, a horse trailer to bring you ashore. You have a couple of months to get to the writing cabin and begin your draft.”

We crossed from the island to where we left the Land Rover in silence. The view had lost all its charm, and I stared at my boots. When Lisa beached the canoe, I looked up and saw Doubt, the Raven perched on the car hood. I nodded towards him, “Of course he would show up.”

Lisa said, “There is no right or wrong answer. You always second guess yourself. You just have to commit and make it work.”

We got in the vehicle. Lisa tugged her dress down and said, “Live with your choice and give it 100%. The other stories will still be on the island for the next time.”

“I suppose so. Doubt just plays with my mind sometimes. After I get the book of shorties published, and The Playground ready for advance readers, I need to dedicate myself to Yak Guy’s outline.”

“And maybe give him a better title?”

“Yeah, that too.”

*Lisa is my robotic assistant. She has a short story of her own coming out in The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack this September. She is the official spokes model for this blog, and you can get a set of Lisa Burton paper dolls by clicking on “Look, Free Stuff” at the top of the page.

Note: This idea grew from a vignette sent to me by my Muse. I posted it here last year. Those of you so inclined can read about it here.

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It’s…the mall

I get it. I grew up in the same small town my parents still live in. When you get to a real town, you need to go shopping.

We, on the other hand, can go to the mall anytime we choose. (And frequently do.) The difference being that my mother has to look in each store to see what's new. We tend to hit and run, only going to the one store we need.

I followed the girls into Dillard's and kept walking. Old Chicago pizza was busy, and the only chair available was in a group setting on tall hard stools. These stools don't have any back either. I'm a short guy, and they kill my back.

Still, I'm a trooper, I downed three really good craft beers. I'm entitled to one more every time I stop off on the World Beer tour. My back told me it was time to check on the girls.

I met my daughter, dragging my grandson my way. (Not her child, for clarity's sake.) Apparently, my daughter-in-law decided to show up to do a bit of school shopping. My daughter said, “Grandson has been saying he's hungry for an hour.” They wanted to go to Old Chicago so he could get something to eat.

I'm a sport, and offered to buy them lunch. Everyone else showed up before our order arrived. I only had another beer, but was pretty happy that shopping appeared to be over. Silly old man.

I got to see everyone's new haircuts, and that was fun. The little ones decided to cut each other's hair. My daughter had to clean up the mess, and she did a good job. The oldest, and third one, got highlights out of the deal, and my daughter did a good job on those too.

After everyone ate, we had another hour of mall cruising ahead of us. Ultimately, we decided to grab takeout food before calling it a day.

On the writing front, I never accomplished one damned thing. Tomorrow, we have to haul the camper over and start getting it ready.

I may get a few things done on Monday or Tuesday. We had a nice visit, and sometimes that's more important.

I hope everyone out there is having a good weekend.

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Home again…

At least for a while. My paycheck job took me to North Idaho for a few days. During this time, I missed some of your posts. This happens from time to time and there isn't much I can really do about it.

There is a trick I pull, and it might be interesting to my fellow bloggers. I surf into my stats and find the one about my most frequent commenters. I can click on them and go directly to their blogs. The point is that bloggers enjoy interaction, and I try to never miss those who interact the most. I may not be unique here, and it pays to interact on the blogs you enjoy. Say hi, leave a comment, it matters.

I'll get back in the swing for a few days, then we're taking a real vacation to the coast. I'll keep in touch, but won't give up family time or events either.

We saw several large forest fires on our trip. I'm always the driver, so I don't have any photos for you. Everyone else snapped a few. There is one East of Grangeville that looks like a volcano on top of the mountains. All of Idaho is covered in smoke, and visibility is limited.

I have company coming in today, so this post is going to be short. I need to accomplish a few promotional things before they arrive. I'm working on September and even October events, but it all happens in August.

Please visit Ali Isaac's blog today. She's running something new called Friday Fantastic Flash and asking for participants. I participated, and you should too. When I checked my stats this morning, I noticed something funny. My re-blog of Ali's site was my 666th post. Had I known that I would have prepared something paranormal, but my micro fiction is a bit of science fiction fun.

To come full circle, leave a comment at Ali's site. She participates in her comments too, and I'm checking regularly to answer any comments I might get.

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