#Bookreview – The Hat by C.S. Boyack

The Hat keeps collecting good reviews. Have you read this one yet? Check out what Robbie had to say about it. While you’re there, she has a fun collection of books herself, and they have recipes to go with the stories.

Robbie's inspiration

thumbnail_Rosies Book Review team 1

What Amazon says

Lizzie St. Laurent is dealing with many of the struggles of young life. She lost her grandmother, and her living arrangements. Her new roommate abandoned her, and she’s working multiple jobs just to keep her head above water.

She inherits an old hat from her grandmother’s estate, but it belonged to her grandfather. This is no ordinary hat, but a being from an alternate dimension. One with special powers.

Lizzie and the hat don’t exactly hit it off right away, but when her best friend’s newborn is kidnapped by a ring of baby traffickers, Lizzie turns to the hat for help. This leads her deep into her family history and a world she’s never known.

Lizzie gives up everything to rescue the babies. She loses her jobs, and may wind up in jail before it’s over. Along the way, she and the hat may have a new…

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The Idea Mill #34

This one is going to be a bit different than other Idea Mill visits. I usually save links and try to get three unique stories to post about. Today I have two, and I’m combining them into one concept.

If you’re new to these, I write speculative fiction and that involves asking “what if.” I think it’s important to base spec fiction in reality wherever you can. These stories help build a bit of foundation that we can use to build our speculative story.

This time, I don’t even have links. This stuff is everywhere and is very current news. This is why I’m constructing the post this way. If I wait, it might not be as current.

You must have all seen the stories involving Cambridge Analytica and the misuse of Facebook data. I know Facebook stockholders are aware of it. In a nutshell, these people pirated the data to make targeted events during the last election cycle. If you believe all the stories.

We live in an age of data. The world is full of massive databases that contain everything from our banking information, our preferences online, where we eat, where we buy groceries, and more. Surf for a new book to read, someone is tracking it. Follow a clickbait article with a titillating story and it’s been logged. I know if my wife looks at anything on her laptop, my Facebook ads change and show me options to her search. Made it kind of hard to surprise me for Christmas.

This is what we already live under. Enter the new database that we’re contributing to. This one is fun… there’s no harm in fun, right? It’s almost taken on a party atmosphere. Here’s how it works:

You take a swab and wipe it around the inside of your mouth. Then you mail it to a company who will analyze it and send you an idea of your genetic heritage. Usually it proves that Mom really did know what she was talking about as far as your ethnicity.

Keep in mind, your results are going into a database somewhere. Keep in mind that one of the largest databases in the world was just accessed inappropriately and misused. Now we have a solid foundation to start speculating. What if…

What if the Nazis had access to such a database. Think how much more efficient their genetic purging could have been. Genocide went on before the Nazis, and it’s still going on today. Don’t tell me it will never happen on such a large scale again.

We can also take this into the speculative realms. What if aliens made a cold clinical decision and used this database to collect whatever they prefer and destroy the rest.

Keep in mind that your heritage is only one thing a DNA test can reveal. How about one of the cancer genes? Maybe the hacker is big insurance, and they start raising the prices on those who have one of these genes. Maybe the general population develops a new prejudice against someone with one of these genes. You no longer have to worry about cancer killing you… your neighbors will do it long before then.

Maybe the database starts influencing reproduction. Insurance refuses to cover children from matings they didn’t pre-approve. Maybe it’s not so deep, what if humans start checking out potential mates on the database before getting involved with someone? We already run background checks and credit checks on potential partners. This isn’t all that far fetched. My own wife and I spend part of date nights on our phones these days. Humans aren’t as connected on a personal level as they were twenty years ago. Nope, not getting involved with her because she’s going to lose her teeth by the time she’s fifty.

Take it up a notch, and have one spouse cave to the pressure of breeding with an approved partner. A mutual agreement would certainly lead to a marital breakdown. A secret affair can also add a mountain of stress.

Maybe there is a trend toward a certain genetic combo that poses a workplace hazard. Could employers start demanding DNA tests as part of the hiring process? Maybe it reveals a reasonable percentage of people with that gene are prone to thefts.

These are big ticket issues that work in some kinds of fiction. They play on the idea of what we are afraid of, which is always a good idea in fiction. There is also a possibility of taking it down to a smaller level and telling a good story too.

What if some family fun revealed a secret nobody was supposed to know? A bigot could make for a good character arc. Pride makes a great thing to toy with in our stories. He or she despises some kind of race or ethnicity. A DNA test reveals the character is of that heritage at least partially. First thing would be to despise his parents and blame them. Maybe he runs away and goes on a journey where he finds himself and discovers some errors he’s made during his life. Maybe he finds family members he never knew he had. Maybe the employees he’s been making work overtime, and denying benefits to, are his nieces and nephews.

Obviously a family member who was the result of an affair could be pretty dramatic too. What if this revelation changed the line of succession to the throne of some country? Or maybe it’s a huge inheritance? You could play this for laughs, or make it dangerous and dark. What do you mean Uncle Bob can’t inherit Grandpa’s company?

I’m not contributing a corny story this time. I wanted to rush out the foundation stories from the news and speculate a bit. What could you create using these two current events? I’d love to hear it.


Filed under The Idea Mill

Circumstances of Childhood, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Welcome to this week’s edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and we’re waiting for a very special caller. While doing that, let me ask you something.

How would you feel if you were accused of something you didn’t do? What if the ramifications were beyond serious? Would you rely upon the system to get it right? You only have so much energy and time. Would you focus on proving your innocence, or would you try to find the actual culprit?

Oh, my phone lit up. “Hello, this is Lisa Burton.”

“You are receiving a collect call from the Suffolk County Jail. Do you accept the charges?”

“Yes, please.”

“Hello. Is this Lisa? Please forgive the collect call. I didn’t know when we scheduled this interview that I would still be in jail.”

“Yes, Greg it’s me. Don’t worry about the call. I’m sure you will have some interesting information behind the fact you are in jail. For our listeners, this is Greg Petros. Can you give us a bit of your personal background?”

“First of all, Lisa. I’m totally embarrassed having to call you from a public phone in jail. I was to have a bail hearing this morning and it was postponed so I need to spend the night. More games by the District Attorney to get me to say I’m guilty. He accused me of hiding funds and revoked my original bail. Secondly, I’m not too sure what your listeners want to hear about me.”

“I understand how you feel especially in your current position. Okay, I’ll do it. Greg is a football guy at heart. He was a Heisman Trophy winner in college and went on to quarterback the New England Patriots for ten years. After that he became a highly successful sports commentator.

“Greg wanted to do some good with all the money he earned, so he started a new company called Petros Investments, with worldwide clients. So, Greg, how do we go from there to Suffolk County lockup?”

“Oh man, Lisa you don’t beat around the bush. Well, I have to say direct questions are very appropriate given what happened. As you mentioned, I started an equity fund. I started by putting in my own money and then attracted a whole bunch of the people I knew. I had some very important and wealthy friends.

“The fund grew to over a billion dollars under investment. Our objective was to invest other people’s money and be able to sleep at night. I guess about a month ago I got a heads up from my financial guy that the SEC had some findings on a routine audit. They called in the Justice Department and I was hit with an indictment on twenty-three counts of mail fraud, securities fraud and insider trading.

“All this over a so called mishandled twenty million in funds. Hell …oh excuse me. I should know not to use that word on the radio. Anyway, even if there was twenty million missing it was probably my money. I put a hundred million into the company. Of course, that is academic since once the news of the indictment got out, all my so-called friends pulled their money and the firm tanked. All for what? Some accusation that I mishandled the funds. I haven’t even been to trial yet and I’ve been punished as if I’m guilty. I’m not. Guilty that is. I’m sorry Lisa. I haven’t had much sleep over the last few days and it is looking worse by the hour. I shudder to think of closing my eyes in this place.”

“That has to be tough. Are you getting any support from outside?”

“My daughter Constance has been frantic since she heard what happened. She has decided to stay in my house in the Boston area for the duration. She lived in New York and tells me she can work anywhere. I also have a terrific lawyer. He used to be the corporate council but has been hired by the law firm defending me. Finally, my oldest friend, Keith who I grew up with showed up. He and I were like brothers. His parents adopted me when mine passed away. He is giving me moral support and excellent advice.”

“Keith sounds like a great friend. Maybe he can run down some leads for you or something.”

“Keith and I were in college together as well as childhood friends. We revolutionized the game of football. Stuff taken for granted now like quick huddles and option plays we were pulling off every week. One night we went to a party. Neither of us liked to drink but on the way home we were hit by a drunk driver. I was driving and tried to avoid the accident. I yelled to God to help me find a way out. There was no way out and we crashed head on. Keith hit the dash with such force that er um he was killed”

“Wait a minute, you’re talking to a dead guy? I need to download The Sound for some of these shows. You know The Sound, from Law and Order? I could play it at moments like this. What did they do to you in there?”

“You just made me think of the first time I heard the cell door lock. I thought about the Sound myself. I think I keep hearing that dun, dun, dun too. With Keith it isn’t like that. I have to admit sometimes I think I’m just making his presence up. Keith first came to me when I thought all was lost. He told me this fabulous story about someone he calls The Leader. He tells me the afterlife is about earning the right to be in the presence of The Leader. He even told me he knows who hacked my computer and took the twenty million, but he can’t tell me. He says there is a time continuum that can’t be altered. He has been forbidden to interfere. I understand his predicament and want him to get to the goal he seeks. He can help but can’t alter history.”

“It all sounds a bit like helping Clarence get his wings. I mean, it would be nice to help Keith, but you have troubles of your own.”

“Your wings analogy is spot on. I love Greg and want him to progress and would never ask him to violate the sacred instructions he has been given. Brothers are like that, Lisa.”

“So how is the trial going?”

“I get this feeling that the prosecutor is out to make a name for himself. I can imagine getting a guilty verdict on Greg Petros would be a ticket to higher office. The case all centers on whether or not I used my computer to take twenty million out of the firm. Our experts say I was hacked and had nothing to do with it. I understand they have an expert who will be on the stand tomorrow who takes the opposite position. At this point it’s very convoluted. I think it will be a matter of who the jury believes. I know I didn’t do it and that is all I know. I can’t figure out how the twenty million came up missing.”

“So. if you can’t figure it all out, maybe the prosecution can’t either. Will that help you in some way?”

“I don’t think he cares if he figures it out or not. All he can see is a former jock and rich guy who is brought to his knees by his fine legal work. He will do anything to get a conviction.”

“I wish you the best of luck, Greg. Keith too, if he’s listening out there on his cosmic radio. Any last thoughts for our listeners today?”

“Thank you so much, Lisa. I’m sorry if I sounded all in earlier but I had a life that would be the envy of most of the world and it turned to a nightmare in the blink of an eye. I think my friend Greg would advise us all to enjoy the moment since that moment is all that counts.”

“To learn more about Greg and Keith pick up the book, Circumstances of Childhood, by John W. Howell. I’ll post all the links after I go off the air.

“You can help John and Greg by using those sharing buttons today. I’m sure they’d do it for you, and John has a long history of supporting other authors. Here’s your chance to pay a little of it back.

For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.”


When a former pro football star and broadcaster, now a Wall Street maven is accused of insider trading, will he be able to prove his innocence and expose those who are guilty?

Greg and his boyhood pal dreamed of big success in professional football and then later in business. Greg was the only one to live the dream. Now the founder of an investment fund Greg is faced with a routine audit finding by the SEC. The audit points to irregularities and all the tracks lead to Greg. The justice department hits him with an indictment of 23 counts of fraud, money laundering, and insider trading. His firm goes bust, and Greg is on his own.

His best friend knows he is innocent but has been ordered under penalty of eternal damnation not to help.

If you enjoy stories of riches to rags, redemption, brotherly love, and a little of the paranormal, Circumstance of Childhood will keep you riveted.

Circumstances of Childhood

Book Trailer

YouTube Book Review

John HowellJohn began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. His latest book Circumstances of Childhood, a thriller fiction story, was launched in October of 2017. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Blog Fiction Favorites, http://johnwhowell.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Twitter –https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave

Authors db –http://www.authorsdb.com/authors-directory/6604-john-w-howell

LinkedIn –http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-w-howell/48/b59/462/

Google +https://plus.google.com/+JohnHowellAuthor/

Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

Amazon Author’s page –https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell


Filed under Lisa Burton Radio

Wednesday, I’ll take it

I got to sleep in until about 6:30 today. It felt great. I should mention that my work alarm goes off at 4:00, so this was my version of sleeping in. Did all the morning stuff, and wound up covered with bulldogs.

That’s where my writing day began. Like all writing days, I started with my last chapter. It helps me get into the flow, and gives me a chance to fix typos and such. I usually have something cool I’m trying to do, and that leads to some tweaks to things I already wrote. Today it was minimal and I got right into it.

My characters crossed paths with an assassin, and we got a glimpse of what the tiny monsters are capable of in groups. There was gunplay, some sneaking about, and sinking a body into a duck pond.

One character was fascinated by a glop of apple pie that landed on another character’s cleavage and slowly moved downward until she wiped it and licked her finger. There is something going on there, but she’s pretty broken and it might take a while to develop.

My characters got to the big city, so we’re done with the camping part of the tale. They have plenty of gold, but not in a format they can spend. They are running low on coinage, and only one of them has a head for money.

Not to fear. There are some tiny monsters about to try scavenging for any gold that might be untended around town. Oh, what’s better than eight tiny monsters… eighteen tiny monsters. I’m finding these guys are adding a bit of color to the story. They’re freaky, scary, but funny to a degree too. I might have to have a scene where the characters discuss having too many of them.

My main character has been staring at the ships along the river port. He’s there to do some research with the goal of starting a war, but those ships are sure appealing. Starting the war will free his lady love from the bad guy. We all know that isn’t going to happen, but it’s his current goal.

Things I need to consider before my next writing day. (Saturday) There has been a surprising lack of swordplay in this story. My MC needs to go through a melancholy phase and come up with a partial new plan. I’m going to have to count on the other characters to carry me through this phase. He has issues living up to his father’s reputation, and avoiding it all at the same time. I think he’ll start out manic about all the things he is learning, then depressed that he can’t formulate a decent plan, then he’s going to say screw this and do something completely different.

All told it feels like about 3500 words. It could be as high as 4000, but it was a good writing day. It would have been more, but my daughter is working some kind of swing shift. She likes to talk, and I’m okay with that. Yeah, it cuts into writing time, but I don’t want to give up father/daughter time either.

That’s it until the weekend. Back to the office tomorrow where I have multiple projects I want to work on. I’d like to have 80% of those finished before the weekend starts. If it’s not one goal it’s another in my life.

Bonus points, I have commute time to daydream about my main character’s phases and how I’m going to get through them. Hopefully, I’ll have a plan prior to Saturday morning.


Filed under Writing

Backstage, by Harmony Kent

Harmony is a good friend of mine, and one of the other authors at Story Empire. She is like me, in that neither of us can firmly stick to one genre. I think it makes us versatile. She’s here to tell us about her newest book, Backstage. Please make her feel welcome.

Hello, everyone. Harmony here. First up, huge thanks to Craig for hosting me today! He’s letting me visit today so that I can tell you about my latest book, Backstage. It is an erotic romance novel and deals with some of the sexual coercion scandals that have hit the acting industry in the last year.

Here’s a bit about the book for you:


Just when Emma thinks she’s found love. Just when her big chance comes. Just as she finds a little confidence at long last. Right then, it all goes horribly wrong.


John believed he had found ‘the one’. But the demons of his past wouldn’t allow him to break the leash, and when he gets the wrong end of the stick, it just confirms all his old prejudices and hurts.


Derek Prentis is his name. Coercion is his game. He’s the man with the money. The big man who wants to keep Emma under his control and who will do anything to keep it that way.



And here is a ‘sneek peek’ …

In the darkened hospital room, John held her hand. When he saw her awake, he smiled. ‘How do you feel?’

Emma mumbled, ‘Head hurts.’

He squeezed her hand. ‘I’m not surprised. You had a concussion. They think you hit your head on the desk or something.’

‘What about him?’

John scowled. ‘Arrested. Charged. Released on bail.’

Distressed, her voice came out high and rushed, ‘They let him go?’

‘With all his money, he can afford a good solicitor. Anyway, he won’t be stupid enough to come near you again.’

‘You reckon?’

‘Yeah. It’ll make front-page news tomorrow—you mark my words. He’d be stupid to push it.’

Emma groaned.

John leaned over her. ‘What? What is it? Are you gonna throw up again?’

‘I know what he’ll say. I’m a slut. I led him on. You know the drill, John. All he has to do is slander me. Drag up my past. Like you say, with his money … a solicitor and a private investigator.’

John released her hand and stood.

Bewildered, Emma looked up at him.

‘I’m off to speak to the others,’ he said.

‘The other women?’

John nodded. ‘Yeah. If we can prove you weren’t his only victim …’

If you enjoyed reading about Backstage, you can pre-order it now at Amazon … US LINK and UK LINK. And it goes on live sale on March 30th. Thanks so much for sticking with me this far.

Twitter: @harmony_kent 

Harmony Kent Author Page: Amazon


Filed under Writing

Lazy Sunday

Today is the day I call my parents. I set some time aside for that purpose. They’ve been getting a lot of snow in Northern Nevada, and we’ve got the back door open up here. Boise is a nice area, and we get all four seasons. There aren’t any bugs yet either, so it’s been really nice.

I managed a few paragraphs on my story today. That’s it. This one seems to require going back and working through the stuff I recently wrote. Even more-so than other stories I’ve written. I have a lot of fun stuff happening, but there is also a lot of traveling and camping going on. This is difficult to deal with, because every stop deserves some description. I have four characters to deal with, and I need to get some of their personality on the page. This leads to a balancing act between too many evenings in camp, and getting them up to speed with each other. Realistically, these are the hours they have to get acquainted. They are traveling at other times. In two different wagons.

It’s fun stuff and character vs. Too many miles behind a horse and hours beside the campfire.

I’ve introduced all these monsters too, and need to use them to a small degree. That will probably happen on Wednesday. That is my rotating day off in the coming week.

More of my time was dedicated to Lisa burton Radio. I didn’t write any new shticks, and probably should have. There are interviews scheduled for the next three weeks though. I also have a promotional thing all scheduled for myself.

I’d prefer to work on new fiction, but it all counts. I need to gear up and earmark some time to prepare a bunch of blog tour posts, for a different story… I just didn’t.

That was my Sunday. I have to put in a couple of days at the office before I can try it again.


Filed under Writing

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

I didn’t get some things done, but made good progress on others. I still need to create a couple of shticks for Lisa’s radio show, and I have one more to schedule. That one is weeks out, but the author requested a specific date and I want to accommodate her. I know how I feel when making plans. I would want to know it’s a done deal. It is a done deal, I just need to get on with it.

I dedicated my time to my own fiction. It came to around 3000 words. I don’t have a complete count, but somewhere around that mark. My main character has to cover up one eye, because the townsfolk decided it’s the evil eye. I also created four tiny monsters with more to come. They haven’t even taken to sea yet, and that’s one of my biggest obstacles here. Act one involves the guy trying to live up to his father’s reputation. He will decide to take his own path, and that’s the part that occurs at sea.

Doesn’t sound like a problem, until you think of promoting it as a pirate story. Will people stick with it long enough to get to the parts I advertise? It may be something that sorts itself out in the second or third pass. Right now I have to draft the damned thing.

I might carry those flighty readers along with some symbolism, and an eye patch could be part of that. His eye is fine, but it’s now permanently red. That scares the general population.

I’m also dealing with travels and conversations. This is touchy, because I want to do some world building and have some of these conversations. However, too many campfires and such might irritate some folks. Like I said, this is the draft process

I’d like to work on it tomorrow, but I need to keep up with the promises I made others. I may need to have a Lisa Burton Radio day and be happy about it.

In other news, my bread rose for about 30 hours and turned out awesome. (Awesomely? Is that a word?) Old What’s Her Face bought me a banneton, also called a brotform, for Christmas. This is a special basket for raising free-standing loaves of bread. I’ve never used it before. It helps the loaf retain its shape on the final rise. It also adds a cool spiral shape to the top crust.

Today was the day. I also used my peel and baking stone for this one. Here’s how it turned out, and it was great with our corned beef.

You can see the spirals the basket made before I added the expansion slices. To use the peel, also in the photo, I added some corn meal to it and the baking stone. This isn’t for flavor, it’s to keep things from sticking. My only mistake was taking the bread from the brotform while the oven reached temperature. This gave it time to spread and I should have done it at the last second. Next time: Dump, slice, bake in about five seconds.

It already has a wonderful sour flavor, and that’s the result of the long rise. My bread usually doesn’t develop that until the next day. No idea why.

I’m skipping the Irish whisky tonight. Old What’s Her Face bought me some cool Irish stout from a small brewery. Beer is very Irish too, so I’m not disappointed.

Hope all of you who are celebrating do it with care. We’re staying home and may rent Justice League on TV. Maybe.


Filed under Uncategorized, Writing