I got to the writing cabin early this morning, and headed for my office. Lisa* was still rattling around upstairs and playing with her rabbit.
I spread my projects across my desk. One pile for Will O’ the Wisp; which needs a final pass and an edit for the international version. A second pile is my work in progress, The Playground, which requires a mountain of research. A half finished book called Maplecroft that I’m reading sat on the far corner. Finally, a list of 15 possible short stories and micro-fiction pieces I want to write. (One Macabre Macaroni is finished, and one short is partial.) Then I placed the bills in the middle of the desk.
Lisa brought coffee as soon as it was ready. She had her jeans tucked inside some heeled boots with a beige blouse and one of those cool endless scarfs. “Looks like your work’s cut out for you today.”
“Yup. Do you want to help with some of it?”
“Sure, what do I have to do?”
“My idea is to put out a book of short stories and micros for 99¢. The hope is that people will take a chance at that price and might buy one of my novels.”
“Okay, so what do you need?”
“There isn’t any reason my novel characters can’t make an appearance in these shorts. I need you to research women’s clothing. I have this stylish character that’s ready to take on a new adventure.”
Her eye units pixelated and her hand quivered. She moved herself onto the couch. “Are, are you serious? I may have to reboot.”
“I don’t see why not. You’re one of my favorite characters, and if someone likes your short story, they might like your novel. Find some outfits in your style, but not too many. It’s just a short story.”
She kissed me and ran to the front office. She actually made a noise that sounded like Squee. I started the trudge through my bills. I had to add a new vendor to my bill-pay and that always frustrates me. I was half way through a good tantrum when Lisa texted me.
“There is a Mr. Herring here to see you.”
What did he want? I bought one of his stupid products once, and he probably wants to sell me more.
A short, heavyset man with a red comb-over and rumpled suit wiped his greasy hands on his pants and offered it to me. “How ya doing. Red, Red Herring.”
I shook his hand and asked what I could do for him.
“I’m passing through, and wanted to see how my last package worked out for you. You was gonna write something called Jack O’ Lantern or somethin’.”
“It’s called Will O’ the Wisp,” I reminded him. “It worked out just fine, thanks. There are going to be a whole bunch of new problems though.”
“Glad you liked it. I don’t give no refunds though. What kind of problems?”
“Marketing, for one. How am I supposed to promote this story when the main character spends so much time on the wrong project? What kind of excerpts can I publish without spoiling something?”
“I don’t know nothin’ about no marketing. I sell my products and its up to you to use them. You bought the premier product, that I named after myself it’s so good. I’m sure it will mesmerize your readers. Now this week, I’m having a close out sale on minor ruses. Got any characters that you wanna confuse or mislead?”
“No, look, I need to figure out how to put a blog tour together and pre-write the posts. And I need to do all of that without spoiling the big surprises for my readers.”
Lisa put a perfectly manicured nail to her lip. “Um.”
“What? If you have any ideas I’d love to hear them.”
“Well, it’s just that. I looked at your short story list as part of my research. There is one where some ruses and misdirection could be helpful.”
“I ain’t comin’ back this way for a long time,” Red said.
“I don’t even know if I’m going to write that one.”
“My ruses last a long time. You can use them in a couple years, and they’ll still be fresh.”
I turned to Lisa. “Take care of it for me. Make him sell you a bundle of some kind, and get the sale price.” I need to get back to work.
Lisa made the Dwarven fist salute, and I went back to my office. Every project has to start somewhere, so I decided to read Maplecroft. One less thing on my desk would force me to concentrate when I got to Will O’ the Wisp. And he says he doesn’t know anything about marketing. He’s walking out of here with my check though, isn’t he?
Will O’ the Wisp can wait a little while. I still haven’t heard from a few of the ARC readers. It probably doesn’t need much, the early reports have all been good. Finish my reading, work on some research, then tackle Wisp on the next lap.
I also managed this Bread. We aren’t eating all of the big round loaves, so I dug out my ancient cast iron bread pan. I used just a hint of sourdough starter on it, and it took two and a half days to raise completely. Hint: This brings out that wonderful sour taste.
The long rise also produced a beautiful blister crust that doesn’t show up well in the photo. It’s there, I promise.
*Lisa Burton is the main character in Wild Concept. She is a robot, and works as my assistant at the writing cabin these days.