African Me & Satellite TV, on Lisa Burton Radio

Today on Lisa Burton Radio, we’re on the phone with Princess Sithole, all the way from Zimbabwe. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl. “Welcome Princess.”

“Thank you Madam Lisa! Mangwanani – although that is good morning in Shona. Is it morning with you?”

“Yes, but I think you’re a day ahead of me. My bio says you’re a cook. That has to be a fun job, creating new things and feeding your family. Tell us a little about that.”

“Yes. I cook. It is not always a fun job. In Zimbabwe some years back, and even now again, there is very little food to be bought. One time it got so bad that all I had to cook with was carrots from the garden and Marmite. Still, I am very, very good at cooking, so nobody complained. I suppose you could call it a job – what I do, but I think of it more as caring for my family, Suzette and Herman, and before Felix the cat and Cher the dog too. Hau. Shame. I get sad even now, thinking of them. All my family. Blood and two legs is not everything, you know.”

“It takes a lot of gumption to create something and share it with the world, even if it’s a garlic martini. Your life isn’t all fun and games though. You’ve had to deal with instances of animal cruelty and even murder in your village. How did that effect you?”

“Aah. That garlic martini. It was the one thing that did not bring much praise. Although, as I say, the tasting of it led to the falling off of a chair, so it wasn’t all bad. Laughter is food too sometimes, so I don’t see it as a complete failure. I’m sure that if I drank alcohol I would have enjoyed it. Garlic is wonderful. Before the animals were killed, so cruelly, Cher used to enjoy stealing wine if it was on a low enough table. That old dog suffered a little with arthritis, and being a colonial Labrador, I was not very surprised that she took Chablis for the pain. Very common painkiller with colonials. Mr Mandela, my parrot, too likes a little to drink. But then, when you see how those killers treated him you would understand. That is why he is called Mr Mandela – because he was hurt for so long and has still not bitten anyone. Yes, my little friend. We are on the radio with Madam Lisa. I hope you are not offended by being called Madam. It is my way. The way we do things here in Africa, even now. It is wrong maybe, but it is expected by many. Even though I personally only use it for those I respect and no other, it’s a habit so deep now after so many generations, it’s hard to break. I think that too much value is attached to appearances, be it the hue of your skin or any other thing. Cruelty is very much in the eye of the beholder. Some people honestly think that we are lesser than they. Not to even talk about how much less animals are. Poor things. I have seen people shocked at the chickens of Africans, scratching away in the dirt. They would never eat such a cruelly treated, in their perception, chicken. I personally would rather eat such a chicken than one which has been unable to move very much at all for all its life in a small cage. Life is just as cruel as we allow it to be. I wish it was not so. I bet you are surprised to see an African cook as a chicken activist. I am very fond of chickens. Live ones, that is.”

“You and me both. In my own story, I had to deal with lots of prejudice. You’d be amazed how many people aren’t willing to accept an electronic human. You seem very attached to your employers. What can you tell us about them?”

“You are indeed as human as human can be. You have love in your heart and that is what makes you human. That is what makes Mr Mandela human too. My employers? Yes, I suppose that they are that. They are more my family. They have been that for me more than employers, and I love them both very much. They are not racists at all. Not like those other two, read and you will see, and they are not afraid to say so. Any more. It was not always so. Suzette has been fragile for a long time. Just like Christopher was – he who was murdered. She is crazy, a little bit, but beautiful, inside and out, and Herman. Well. Herman is a lion and I would do anything for him, even though he insulted my martini.”

“They sound like very nice people. If only everyone were that way.”

“Indeed they are. The good thing is that most people are good people. Sometimes the bad people are so bad that they seem to grow in stature in our minds, even though in reality the truly bad are almost always cowards. They feel that making others smaller makes them bigger somehow. Suzette understands the problems we face in Africa today. People think that there is no more racism because there is no more apartheid. Ha! Here if you are poor and you want to eat, you will have to learn to be as inferior as is required. I suppose it is that way all over the world in one way or another.

“With Suzette and Herman, it is not about the colour of your skin, but the colour of your heart. It is simple really, when you love truly. We were all family. Christopher too before he was taken, even though he pretended to be so very stupid for so very long. The whole world should look at the colours of hearts when they seek to hate and kill. Not the colour of skins or any other apparent difference. We are all the same inside our heads and our hearts.

“Another thing. If we don’t share what is in our hearts, nobody will see our true colours. If Christopher hadn’t written so many words for his whole life, after he died, nobody would ever have known the true colour of him. In the end we saw that his colour was gold, and still today I cry with joy for having known him as well as sadness for having lost him. Our writing is important when we are gone. Even if it is just how we enjoyed our breakfast. Writing shows our colours to those who loved us when we are gone as well as when we are here. Writing keeps us alive forever.

“Yes Mr Mandela. Your colour is gold too. As were the colours of Felix and Cher. All animals have souls of gold. People could learn a lot from animals.

“You know Lisa. We think that our lives will never end, and that there will always be time to make things right. But that is not true. The only time to be right and do right is right now. We should live our lives considering love first. Who we love, what we love and believe, and know that of all things in life, love is the most important. We must find it where we can, and nurture it when we do.”

“I love animals. I have a pet rabbit named Bunny that I rescued from a butcher. I can send you a picture after the show.”

“Eish! Rabbit stew is also very much enjoyed in Zimbabwe. They are not so easy to catch. Myself, I have never tried it. I am not your usual Shona woman though – I much prefer cheese to meat. Mr Mandela will enjoy meeting your Bunny. He likes to snuggle. Does your Bunny sleep with you also? Mr Mandela sleeps on my pillow. Now I know that parrots snore too. I make sure to take many pictures of him and to write about his special occasions. Like I always say, we must leave our footprints behind for others to see. To learn, to laugh, or just to know. Even parrot footprints.”

“Oh, you’d like my boss. He writes all kinds of things, and understands those things could be around for a long time.”

“That sekuru is a very handsome man, your boss. That beard – eish! It is truly legendary. Does he throw the bones also? In Africa he would be very well known. I must read his writings soon, to see his colour, and to see what footprints he will leave.”

“He doesn’t throw the bones, but now that you mention it I’m sure he’d love to learn. Our sponsor today has been AFRICAN ME AND SATELLITE TV, by Jo Robinson. Any final thoughts, Princess?”

“Thank you so very much Lisa. It has been a great honour to be here even though I never thought I could ever be on a radio show. I believe that I will be famous in my small part of Africa today! I will send you a copy of my cookbook, Africolonial Cuisine, when Jo gets around to publishing it for me. Eish! That one! Of course she is my family too – my mother I should say, but she is a little crazy too and runs around like a mongoose with a snake that won’t die sometimes. Still, I love her, and will love her even more when I see my new book on Amazon! I made a cover for it myself – would you like to see it? I wish you very well in your future Lisa. You must come and visit us. Suzette and Herman will be pleased to have you stay, although some of the local ladies might be jealous of your impressive bosom. Eish! It is indeed a very Shona bosom! What sort of martinis do you like?”

“I don’t need to eat or drink, but I’d still like to visit eventually. Thank you for being my guest today.”

***

For many years Suzette has managed very well to live her life without actually taking part in it, avoiding any possibility of pain by very carefully ignoring reality. Until something happens. Something so terrible that she has no choice but to abandon her cocoon of safety.

After the brutal beating of an elderly domestic worker, Suzette takes her in, and sets off a chain of events that leads to devastating heartbreak. And an unexpected hero changes everything. Finally finding her voice, she speaks out, and her world explodes, culminating in the death of a very special man.

On her path to make amends, she discovers the story of his life, connects with the people of his past, and finds the chance to fully live her life once again if that’s what she chooses to.

Here is the purchase link again, in case you missed it.

 

You can find Jo at the following locations:

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

Goodreads

Google Plus

Blog

Jo doesn’t know I’m posting this, but she is a great advocate for indie authors. I find her blog informative and extremely helpful. She also provides author services, like cover design, proofreading, and formatting. The links for those services are in her blog.

Testimonial time here: I hired Jo to format THE EXPERIMENTAL NOTEBOOK OF C. S. BOYACK II, and found her to be fast, efficient, and affordable. She is extremely easy to work with.

She made these beautiful covers herself.

Princess’ cookbook is coming soon, I am told.

 

 

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How was your workday?

Mine went something like this:

I am going to take this opportunity to slack off tonight. Then I may go whet the edge of my axe.

An awesome guest will be here tomorrow, so that will be more fun than I am right now.

See you all tomorrow.

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Calling Indie Horror/Thriller Authors! #IndieAuthors #bookpromo #BadMoonOnTheRise

I’m kicking this party off. Teri still has three spots left. I know some of you have books that qualify.

Books & Such

For the month of October, Books & Such will again be featuring Bad Moon On The Rise, 31 days of horror/thriller writers!  download (5) If you’re an indie author of horror/thriller books, send me your info.  This is your chance for free publicity, to talk up your book, learn about other authors of the same genre, and hopefully sell some books.  Each post will contain any information you’d like to include, such as a book synopsis, author bio, contact links, buy links and a short interview.

Only 3 spots left!  Email me at tpolen6@gmail.com with your name and title of your book and I’ll send you an info sheet within the next week.

I’d appreciate any help in spreading the word about this, so thanks in advance!

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Getting things done.

This is one of those days where I had a lot of little things to get finished. Any one of them doesn't seem like much, but they add up. I tore into them with gusto, but my gusto is about exhausted.

Here is a list of the items I tackled:

  • Picked a section and sent off my critique submission to that group.
  • Made some artwork for a group promo I have going on.
  • Made a final proof for a Lisa Burton Radio post and sent it out.
  • Sent out a questionnaire for Lisa Burton Radio.
  • Sent out a micro-fiction for an anthology. (I promised to try writing a short story too. By September 7th.)
  • Wrote posts for the Second Notebook blog tour. (Seven down, five to go.)
  • Prepared a post for an October event I was invited to. This host wanted it copy and paste ready, so there was a learning curve. I haven't heard back as to whether I did it right or get to try again.
  • Got a new piece of Lisa Burton art. Catalogued it and stored it for future use. It has nothing to do with the second Experimental Notebook.
  • Assembled and scheduled this week's Lisa Burton Radio.

Like I said, they're small things. Somehow, in bulk, they managed to eat up about seven hours.

This is what I do when I get a day off. I probably missed some things, and neglected a few I should have done. When the list gets big, I hit it hard and clean up the mess later. Many of these things have deadlines, and cannot wait. Tomorrow the paycheck job beckons.

I could do more. There are still five more blog tour posts to write. Somehow I think I'm done today. I kind of feel like this old picture of Otto.

 

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Let’s all Speculate, Part 2

There were a lot of pictures yesterday, so I'll tone down today's post. This corner of Idaho actually has it's own interesting history. The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has gone through many names over the years, but that's the current one. It played a pioneering role in the dawning of the nuclear age.

It isn't as explosive a history as White Sands, in New Mexico, or Jackass Flats, in Nevada. This has to do with a more peaceful use of nuclear power. (That's subjective though when you consider the nuclear Navy.)

There were accidents, and they tell me there are three people buried out there in lead coffins. Think about that for a while. Maybe you want to write about a nuclear powered superhero or villain.

There have been over fifty nuclear generators built at INL. These include the first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus. The little town we are staying in, Arco, was the first city on Earth lit entirely by nuclear powered electricity.

There is a conning tower in the city park that reflects upon this era. The name of the ship is there, but it isn't important for this post.

The ship's number isn't lost on me either, but I don't get a paranormal vibe about the place.

Saturday afternoon we stopped at the camper for a sandwich. Then we went to a pseudo ghost town called Atomic City. The name appealed to me more than anything else. What a great name for a science fiction town.

Hee Haw reference, “Atomic City, Idaho. Population 29. Sal-oot.”

This appears to have been a place for workers at INL. It has a definite fifties vibe. There are even homes that look like the old cinder block barracks buildings. There is still a kind of biker bar here, but not much else. Check out these two abandoned buildings:

I can just see a stranger in a black suit pulling into town in a black Hudson Hornet. He gets fuel at the station, then stops at the bar where he meets a girl. What kind of trouble can they get into?

INL still requires a security clearance, and most of it is posted No Trespassing. There is an ancient train track into the facility, and it isn't hard to imagine a black train, accompanied by black helicopters, shipping some top secret item out. Of course there would be an anarchist or something screwing it all up.

There is an atomic museum further down the road, but we chose to pass. It makes me sad, but you don't leave a puppy in a hot car. You just don't.

Maybe the “man in black” and the waitress have to flee through Craters of the Moon. Want to write a late 50s or early sixties Cold War story, start your research right here. Maybe you want to try a diesel-punk story with some older technology.

I've had a drink at the Little Alie-Inn in Rachel, Nevada. This is where Area 51 is. I've also trekked through the mountains about fifty feet beyond the nuclear test site outside Las Vegas. These places get over used though. This is an area that has a lot of potential.

What would you do with this setup? I'll schedule this to go live on Sunday, since I have to hook up the camper and head home.

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Let’s all speculate, Part 1

I'm back at the campground after a day of trooping around. I took some cool pictures to share with everyone, and they get my creative juices flowing. They were taken with my phone, so quality might vary.

We got to Craters of the Moon National Monument while it was still cool this morning. If I were more dedicated, I would have gotten there for sunrise when the light is best for photography, but sleeping in was nice too. Since there are photos, I'm going to break this into two posts to spare you on loading time.

As we drove over, my wife turned on the radio. My truck displays the song title, but only has so many characters. Sometimes a title runs off screen. We started our day laughing like idiots at this:

Yeah, we're that kind of couple.

We stopped off at the visitor's center to get a map. We wanted to see as much as we could. My wife walked the puppy while I stopped inside.

They had those neckerchiefs with some kind of plastic sand inside them. You soak it in water, it swells up and acts like a swamp cooler. I bought one for Otto, and it works great.

Speaking of Otto, the canine ambassador for the bulldog breed had fun greeting people outside the visitor's center. I held the leash so my wife could use the restroom. People stopped, pictures were snapped, and his little butt wiggled like crazy.

This volcano involves continental drift, and plate tectonics. The hotspot that caused all this is now under Yellowstone National Park. This doesn't mean Craters is out of the woods. It appears to erupt every 2000 years. That's the blink of an eye in geological terms. It's actually 100 years overdue.

This volcano acts more like the Hawaiian kind. It leaks, it fountains, it leaves behind interesting features. There are multiple lava flows from various eruptions. I think the surface of Yellowstone must be harder than Craters, because there is one hell of a caldera in Yellowstone. It's more like the Cascade volcanos that atomize everything with a huge explosion.

The National Park Service takes good care of the place, and the campground looks great. Too bad it isn't open yet.

Great is subjective, but I'm talking about the new asphalt and touched up picnic tables. Craters of the Moon actually looks like this:

I'm an old desert rat from way back. I find beauty in desert environments. This old tree could be a marker along some journey a character has to make. An author could make it resemble something, it wouldn't have to look exactly like this.

One of the tricks to a place like this is to “look small.” The vistas are wonderful, but sometimes the more interesting thing is right under your nose. This kind of lava flows, makes a skin on top, and flows again. It leaves some interesting features:

It actually looks like roots or some kind of wood. Does anyone else see the monstrous fingers of some beast woven together?

Maybe your character is following up some local legend, finds this and decides the monster is no more. Oh how wrong he is…

This stuff even forms what looks like knotholes.

I thought this one was pretty interesting. Lucifer's taffy pull anyone. Again, you have to look small or you'll walk right over this kind of thing.

The NPS seems to have it in for cute bulldog puppies. We brought his leash and harness, bags to clean up after him, and even a wagon in case the rocks were too hot for his feet. Every trail is paved, but no dogs are allowed. I had to limit myself to the short trails and hurry up while my wife watched the puppy.

She really doesn't get into this like I do. I'm kind of a volcano junkie. She was content with the beautiful vistas and blue skies. Let's look at one of the broader images. I took several, but this is where the iPhone has its limits.

Nearly a hundred miles of razor sharp rocks. In some cases the rubble is the size of a pickup truck and piled so tightly you couldn't walk through it in a million years. If you tried, you'd need extra boots, bandages, and some decent insurance.

Does anyone get the idea of Mordor here? Check out this next one for a closer image of the rubble.

This window formed as one of the cinder cones collapsed over the centuries. Random thought: need a fantasy obstacle? How about a Wind-Doe? The cinder cone reminded me of the surface of the asteroid in the movie Armageddon.

I took a short trail to look down a cinder cone. Check this out:

This hole is about 30 feet deep. The lava fountained, when it cooled it left the hole behind. Vermithrax Pejoritive was the best dragon name ever. Can you see this as the opening to her den? Can you see this whole area of devastation surrounding her den?

Walking back, the sun was shining perfectly into this small hole. It's as deep as my arm. (Sorry about the shadow in the image.) Is this where the mechanism to the hidden door is? Maybe the first volunteer has a bad encounter with a rattlesnake or a scorpion.

NASA trained astronauts here for the moon landing. They gave up when it proved too tough. Those with “The Right Stuff” couldn't handle it. Lava fields don't actually resemble meteor impacts anyway, but it gives you an idea of how harsh this area is. It's also filled with little yellow sulfur butterflies and wild flowers.

This environment can work in many kinds of stories. Imagine running for your life in this kind of place. You might just say, “Go ahead and cut my throat it will be more merciful.”

Captain Jack and the Modoc Indians hid out in a similar place in Northern California. They evaded the US Cavalry for years by using secret trails, and lava tube caves. The trail to the caves here was over a mile (each way) and that isn't fair to Otto or my wife. We enjoyed the vista from the trailhead and moved on.

There is also an area where the lava flowed over trees and left perfect casts of them when they burned out. Mt. Vesuvius did something similar to living humans.

These environments are real places. That adds credibility to your fiction. Need to look for old Snuffy's secret gold mine? Maybe your Western needs an impenetrable robber's roost. Need an area of devastation around your dragon's den? How about access to the underworld in your Greco-Roman fantasy?

Maybe you need an alien planet. I'm sure landing here would damage your space ship.

I've been getting back into pulp stuff lately. Someday, I might write one about a lost world. This would be a great place to follow the map and find the entrance. It would be easy enough to discover some dinosaur remains that looked like those ropy lava flows. What world building skills would you take from a place like this?

I reduced the size of the pictures and I hope that made them easier to load. Tomorrow's post is going to be from here, it's going to be completely different, but still allow for some speculation. I'll tag them under the Idea Mill category if you want to find them again.

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Camping with Internet service

We're in Arco tonight. The campground is closed in Craters of the Moon, or we'd be there instead. Most campgrounds have wifi these days, and this one is no exception. Campground wifi is always spotty, and again this fills the bill. I'm actually posting this by pig-tailing my iPad into my cell phone instead.

Today was all about getting here, so that's why I'm writing. Tomorrow we'll go through the park and get some photos. I'll try to give you a tiny bit of history, then invite you all to speculate with me.

The pre-sale for The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II is going okay, but it's not blowing my doors off. I drifted into the top 100 short story/anthology collections about three times, but it never lasts. This has to do with the way Amazon's algorithm works. Sell six books in one day and the meter won't budge. Sell those same six books, and only those six books in the same hour, the meter spikes.

This book is only 99¢ and early sales really help me out. One of the fun side effects is my other titles started moving. Particularly the first Experimental Notebook. Some of the novels have sold copies too though, and that's a good thing.

Question of the day: Is this because Summer is winding down, or because I'm actually promoting again?

I wrote two guest posts tonight, based upon the requests I received. I have ten more to go, and should have them done in plenty of time for the September blog tour.

This campground has the most amazing barbecue, ribs and a smoked baked potato. We love cooking, but today was a travel day, and we were tired. Now we're going to clean up a bit and walk to the office. They also have craft beer on tap, and who am I not to sample the local favorites?

More tomorrow.

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