Category Archives: Muse

A bit of research

Lisa walked into the paranormal office while buckling on her gun belt. She had a look of grim determination. She’d put on her jodhpurs, boots and top from the time we went on the outlining safari. “I don’t think this is a good idea.”Lisa Burton
“It’ll be fine. If I’m going to write these stories, a bit of research is necessary. I don’t know some of the details and I want to make the stories plausible.”

“You’re stories are all speculative fiction.”

“That’s not what I mean. Sure they have fantastic elements, but the real-world stuff has to be that much more accurate.”

“Those girls are hell-bent on destroying your writing career by sending you down a wormhole of research. They aren’t called the Research Sirens for nothing.”

“That’s why you’re coming, to protect me. I enjoy research, and a certain amount of it is necessary.”

“Yeah, and a certain amount of it isn’t. Remember when they talked you into flying to China? If Lorelei hadn’t showed up you’d still be there today.”

“They’re the best researchers ever, and I want their help.”

“I’ll pull the Land Rover around. It goes with my outfit.” She headed up the stone steps, then turned back. “Lorelei will be pissed if she finds out.”

“Then we can’t let her find out.”

***

Lisa parked behind the Olympus Lounge in the tiny mountain town. She set the meeting up, and this is where the Sirens chose.

She made me wait in the car while she looked around the parking lot, one hand on her big assed gun at all times. She held up her hand and made a come here motion with two fingers. She shouldered her canvas map-bag and we went inside.

The lounge was decorated with marble columns running up into a darkened ceiling. We crossed a marble floor while glancing at busts of famous authors.

The ladies waited on various pieces of plush furniture. Wiki sat cross-legged on a huge beanbag with her nose buried in the iPad mini she never seemed to be without. Her red A-line haircut looked like it was multiple shades from various dyes, and had been cut to look like it was chewed into shape. She wore a tee-shirt with the Apple logo, a denim skirt, black leggings, and sneakers.

Wiki had always been the most helpful, and she wrinkled her nose in the most adorable way when she spotted us. She jumped up and skipped to a table booth had been reserved for our meeting.

Conversia rose from the sofa and straightened her black sequined dress. Her caramel skin and huge spiral perm drew instant attention. The scoop neck on her dress wasn’t something that could be ignored. She walked gracefully to the table, heels clacking on the stone floor as she walked.

Libraria came out of the back somewhere. Her blonde hair was in a tight ponytail, and she hadn’t given up on the sexy librarian look. She carried a tray with a carafe of red wine and five glasses. She glanced at me over the top of her glasses before placing the tray on the table.

Conversia gestured at my chair and I took a seat.

Libraria poured the wine and offered me a glass first.

Lisa scooped it up and took a tiny sip. Her eyes fluttered as she did a complete chemical analysis. “He won’t be having any today. He brought his own.” She reached in her canvas bag and produced a small thermos and tin cup. “He prefers coffee anyway.”

Wiki leaned forward and gushed. “What are we doing today?”

“I, um, I’m working on two novellas and I’m nearly ready to start. They’re quite different, and I need to get some details right.”

Libraria said, “Thank the Gods you came to us first. Starting now could be a disaster. You need to do your research until everything is perfect. Why don’t you tell us what you have in mind.”

“Well, one of them is about these people locked in an underground bunker. They’re stuck there for three months, because of a regular thing that happens in their solar system. As a part of the story, I need to know about the human circulatory system.”

“What you need is a good book on anatomy. Entry into medical school would be even better, but you may not have time. I have a complete library here and can help you find anything you need.”

Wiki turned her iPad toward me and opened her mouth in a silent “ta-daaa” gesture. The whites of her eyes were framed by the heavy mascara she always wore. Her black fingernails and collection of friendship bracelets framed a YouTube video of the human circulatory system.

“Is that a new nose-stud?”

“It is! Thanks for noticing. It’s a real diamond too–”

Conversia placed a perfectly manicured, red fingernail under my chin. She turned my head her direction. She batted her eyes and leaned forward, the scoop-neck of her dress guaranteeing I wouldn’t turn away. “Pay attention. Sometimes all you need is a consultant. Someone else has already done this research. All you need to do is find them and ask them some logical questions.”

“Uh-huh, um, what kind of questions?”

“What do you intend to have happen in your story? Ask if that’s plausible.”

“Okay, so I have another story where the character is going to learn to play the upright bass. I don’t know anything about bass clef.”

Squee! Look at these cute bass clef earrings I found.” Wiki wrinkled her nose and turned her iPad back towards me.

Lisa moved towards her. “Those are really cute.”

Wiki slid over in the booth so Lisa could sit down.

Libraria said, “I also have books about music theory, simple chords, and can even find you one about how to build your own bass.”

“Girls!” Conversia said. “The man needs another consultant. There are any number of music teachers, instrumentalists, and whatnot that could answer his questions. I suggest a month or two in Vienna or someplace where he can really learn.”

“It isn’t going to be symphonic in nature. It’s more like rock-a-billy, bluesy stuff.”

“I see,” Conversia said. “Perhaps I can set up a mentorship with Brian Setzer or someone similar.”

“That would be awe–”

Lisa slapped me across the forehead. She opened her mouth and played back an audio recording of my own voice. “I don’t have to be perfect, I just have to be plausible.”

I leaned back in my chair and sipped my coffee. The girls leaned back in the booth, and Libraria crossed her arms.

“I think we’re done here,” Lisa said.

Wiki turned her iPad around once more. In a half-hearted voice she said, “Look, a cute cat… playing an upright bass.”

Lisa grabbed me by the collar and stood me up. She pointed me toward the door and gave me a shove.

“Bye, ladies. Always a pleasure,” I said over my shoulder.

***

Lisa pulled onto the highway out of town. “You’re such a dope. A few horn-rimmed glasses, a scoop-neck collar, and a wrinkled nose and you’re ready to move to Vienna. I told you they were dangerous. Lorelei told you they were dangerous.”

“I think Conversia was onto something though. I need a consultant for each story.”

“I have all your friends in my database, and there are a couple who will do a wonderful job. I’ll send out some email and see if they’re interested.”

“At least you didn’t fall under their spell.”

“Don’t be so sure. Wiki and I ordered those earrings, and a bass clef pendant to go along with them. We’ll be like sisters, she said.”

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The day I accidentally created the universe

I walked out of work at 5:30. My mind was full of ideas about all the blog projects I have to get to. Lisa's radio show demands constant attention to keep it up to date. I have a couple of October invites I need to get to as well. Then there is the matter of one last micro-fiction for my October celebration.

Lorelei, the Muse leaned against my tailgate. She faced the Boise Mountains, and I knew she wanted something. She knows I like that view of her athletic form, and she taunts me whenever she wants something. She wore heels and a short skirt, but abandoned the jacket in this heat. She walked up to the passenger door and waited for me to unlock it. She looked fantastic, but then she is a minor goddess.

We buckled in and I worked my way out of the parking lot to the stop light. “So what's up today. You seem to be jumping in fast after your vacation.”

“I know you have ideas, and I just want to know when you're going to get on with them.”

“I plan on writing the micro this weekend. It's only a two day weekend for me.”

“Yes, and you have all your blog duties, I understand. It's time to get started on the novellas. Have you done anything with them?”

“I was thinking I might start the first one next weekend. I have outlines, characters, and more. I've been dwelling on The Hat a lot lately. I even have a character name.”

“And?”

“Lizzie St. Laurent.”

“That's a mouthful, but sounds appropriate to the story. When do you think Lizzie can get to work?”

Next weekend. In fact, I keep trying to go beyond the story, so I know it's time to start writing.”

“Going beyond isn't always bad. Maybe there's more than one story to Lizzie.”

“If it's a novella, how do you pull that off? A second novella?”

“Let's not get ahead of ourselves. You haven't written the first one. Remember telling me a story will be as long as it needs to be? Maybe it's actually a novel.”

“Would you be mad? I know you want a novella.”

“We've gone over this before. I inspire – you create. That's up to you. I'm only trying to steer your career in directions that could benefit you.”

Her sandalwood perfume was inspiring me. It's so rare these days that it sometimes warns me she's around. “I've had a couple ideas for a follow up story, but nothing is taking full form yet.”

“Like I said, no rush. Deal with this one first. Maybe you can write one of your short stories about her for the next Experimental Notebook.”

“That would probably be best. You know what would be fun? I could team her up with Jason Fogg. He should get another story in any future Notebook. He has a science fiction background, and she has a paranormal basis though.”

“So? Doesn't seem to stop your robot girl from interviewing angels and ghosts.”

“I mean, well, I suppose it could be done. She'd probably do better with others of her kind though.”

“If you say so. It isn't like you're lacking for paranormal characters.”

“Yeah, but the guys from Panama are over a hundred years in history. Even the Will O' the Wisp kids are nearly fifty years in the past.”

“Keep talking it out.”

“I don't under– Oh, she might get along well with a bunch of characters from The Playground. Gina, Morley, Helena, Justine, even Clovis under the right circumstances because he brings so much tension to any scene.”

“Now you're getting it.”

“Maybe one day I'll do my own paranormal team adventure. It could be like the Marvel Universe, but I'm no Stan Lee.”

“Neither was he, until he was.”

I suspected I was high on sandalwood. “Maybe Lizzie, Jason Fogg, throw in Clovis and Justine, maybe Morley Jenkins. Take on some huge world class bad guy.” I turned to the passenger seat, but she was gone.

She'd done it again; filled my head with ideas, most of which will never bear fruit. This is kind of her style. I wind up dwelling on things and eventually stories take shape. I knew my head had been filled with all kinds of inspiration, and I'm actually looking forward to see what takes form.

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Still Gearing Up.

I looked up from my iPad in the paranormal office. The sound of the mailman driving away caught my attention. My coffee cup was empty anyway, so I headed for the lobby, by way of the kitchen.

Lisa sorted the mail, and it looked like everything was for her and her radio show. It usually is.

I grabbed coffee and turned back toward my office. The sound of a heavy door closing caught my attention.

A large man in a rumpled shirt and tie climbed from an aged Cadillac sedan. You couldn’t miss the head of red hair.

“Oh, crap, it’s that guy. Hide!”

“What guy?” Lisa asked.

The front door opened and he stepped inside. “How ya doing? Name’s Herring, Red Herring.” He held out a hand.

I shook his hand, and it was sticky. I must have looked at my palm.

He held out a handkerchief. “Sorry about that. It’s those hot wings. I know I shouldn’t drive and eat at the same time, but you authors don’t exactly all live in the same neighborhood.”

“I know who you are, Red. You’ve been here every year since Lisa moved into the writing cabin.” I wiped my hand on my jeans, rather than risk his hankie.

“Oh yeah. Sorry I don’t remember you, but I remember the blonde. How ya doin?”

“I’m fine Mr. Herring.”

“Oh, so formal.” He pulled a tri-fold brochure from his hip pocket and handed it to Lisa. “Weren’t you the guy that bought the kit I named after myself?”

“The Red Herring. Yeah, you got me.”

“How’d that work out for you?”

“Actually, it was pretty fair. I used it in The Playground. It was okay, I suppose.”

“When in doubt, cover it with a lot of blood I always say.”

“Huh, there was some blood involved, now that you mention it.”

“Good man. Now, what I have today is the Red Herring Two-Point-Oh. It’s the latest and greatest in false leads–“

“Hold on, I thought I bought the latest and greatest last year.”

“It was, but time marches on. We made improvements. It has a help-line now, just like grandma’s Thanksgiving turkey.”

“Maybe it is a turkey.”

“I’ll tell you what, I’ll let you have the last one in my car for thirty percent off. You can’t beat that anywhere. In fact, I’m heading back to the home office after this stop, so I can probably cut you a deal on everything left in the car. “

“I’m sure you can. I think the discounted Red Herring Two-Point-Oh will be enough. Lisa, can you take care of this?”

“I can, but hang on a second.” Her eyes fluttered briefly. “We have pretty meager supplies on the shelves downstairs. You’re almost completely out of plot twists and turns.”

Red got out a pencil and notepad. He licked the tip of the pencil before he started writing.

Lisa continued, “I think you should consider a few of these double crosses too.”

“What for?”

“You still have that rough outline of the fraudster guy who starts wars for money. I think they sound perfect for that.”

“You know It’s a year or two in the future, right? Besides, I haven’t figured out if it’s a fantasy, a pirate story, or a pirate-fantasy story yet.”

Red butted in. “The double crosses have no expiration date. You can use one this fall, and one ten years from now and they’re still just as fresh as they are today. They come in a cute little commemorative six-pack container now too. I have six-packs, twelve packs, or cases.”

“Okay, we’ll take a case. Plus the newest version of the Red Herring, and two cases of twists and turns,” Lisa said.

“Hey, wait a minute–“

“Don’t be such a baby. We’re a long ways out here, and Red only stops by once per year. Besides, you used all our supplies up on short stories and micro-fiction. You know you’ll never stop writing those.”

“Atta girl.” Red offered Lisa a form. “If you fill this out, I’ll add you to my email list. I like to send a card at Christmas. I also offer free shipping for every order over fifty-bucks.”

I rolled my eyes as Lisa accepted Red’s form.

“Let me get the stuff out of the car. I’ll be right back.”

I waited until he was outside. “I don’t want his junk mail clogging up my email. I already get daily promos from PayPal, Zazzle, and everyone else. He’s going to be offering us Happily Ever Afters at Christmas, and love triangles at Valentine’s Day. You know that, right?”

Lisa held up the Tri-fold brochure. “How about these bloody murders at Halloween? There’s even an alien invasion kit.”


“Let me see that, those are kind of cool.” I accepted the brochure, then caught myself. “Look, you get rid of Red. I’m going to my office before I buy anything else.

***

Lisa stepped into the paranormal office and sat on the red, Victorian, picture-frame couch.


“Did you get the stuff stocked downstairs?”


“Oh yeah…”


“What?”


“Well, Red also had an unreliable narrator and a carton of sidekicks in the car. He gave me a deal, because he didn’t want to take them to the home office.”


“Uh-huh. He probably has a trailer full of the stuff he disconnected back at his hotel. Every author out there probably gets a discount for helping him out.”


“Could be, but hey! You’re well supplied for your next push, right?”


“Kind of explains why he doesn’t have an app.”


“Oh, he does. I downloaded it, and he takes PayPal too.”


“Let me guess: Makes all deliveries personally.”


“How did you know?”


“Just a good guesser. He’ll show up with your order and another trunk full of stuff to sell.”


“Seems pretty efficient.”


“Doesn’t it though.”

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Shifting Gears

I flew a wide circle around the meadow at the writing cabin. After Lisa’s explosives incident, I tried to be careful.

She used the forks on the tractor to maneuver a section of our survival bunker into the hole. I took it as being safe to land. She came over the speaker in my gyrocopter. “Coffee is all ready. I’ll be in after I get this section in place.”

I touched down, moved onto the elevator, and lowered everything into the basement. No sense risking my ride if Lisa wasn’t finished blasting.

I decided to move into the paranormal office, since the sound of heavy equipment was closer to the other wall. Doubt, the raven, flew into the room and accompanied me. I smirked at him and said, “Sorry dude, I’m writing micro-fiction today.”

He glared at me like I brought his daughter home late.

I spent a couple of hours on micro-fiction. I managed about 1700 words, but it wasn’t easy with Doubt glaring at me.

The biggest problem is a stylistic issue. What do you do when your character is speaking, and all that comes out of her mouth is guttural grunts and growls? It’s important to get her viewpoint, but we also need to know what gets heard. I have an idea involving italics, and quotations. I won’t share the story until October, so maybe something else will come to me.

Lisa came in with questions. “How are you going to furnish this bunker after I assemble everything?”

“You’re going to have to leave out the last section. Then load up all the furniture, food, and stuff before you attach the last piece. We don’t want to carry too much down the ladder, and beds and such won’t fit.”

“I think you’re a month out. I need to wire and plumb everything, plus you’ll need high speed internet and all the bells and whistles.”

“No problem. My story characters might have to live under harsh conditions, but there’s no reason we have to. You’ll need to seal it against moisture, then bury it.”

“Yeah, with all that fresh earth out there, one of the sabretooths came off the mountain and did what cats do in fresh earth.”

“You’re a trooper. I’m sure you’ll figure out what–”

The front door burst open, and we went to see what happened.

Lorelei, the Muse, stood framed in the doorway. Sunlight backlit her brunette hair and formed a halo around her face. I always assumed it was some kind of goddess trick. She wore a short summer dress and wedge shoes. She spread her arms and said, “Buongiorno!”

Lisa squealed and ran to hug her. “Where have you been lately?”

“I took a vacation. It looked like you guys had enough to do with the Yak Guy. Today, I’m here to check on your next projects.”

“Oh, cool, I can give you a tour of the bunker.”

“I peeked at it. It doesn’t look like there’s much there yet.”

I stepped forward. “There will be. Lisa has some nice ideas to decorate it, and I’ll make sure it’s functional.”

“Thank God. I was afraid you were going to decorate it.” She reached onto the porch and produced a large box. “I brought you a present. It looks like you’re getting prepared to write Estivation, but I don’t want you to forget about The Hat.” She sat the box on the coffee table and removed the lid with a flourish.

An old grey fedora sat inside, and a whiff of mothballs caught my attention. I eased closer, and the dents in the crown narrowed like eyes, and the crown of the hat formed eyebrows above them. “Hey, how’s it going?” the hat asked.

“Um, fine.” I looked at Lorelei. “You really weren’t kidding about this were you?”

“I never kid when it comes to inspiration.”

“What am I going to do with him?”

“Please, you’ve done this before. Talk to him. Spend some time together, then write his story.”

“But what about Estivation?”

“These are both supposed to be novellas, remember? You can probably work on them together. When you burn out on one, take up the other.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll help you,” the hat said. “I’m pretty sure the robot chick will too.”

I put my hand around my beard. What had I gotten myself into this time?

Lisa hooked her thumbs in her tool-belt and rose to her toes. “I will too, I always do.”

Lorelei said, “Lisa, I heard you ordered some hats in preparation for this one. Let’s go see what you bought.”

“Fun! Come upstairs and we can try them all on.”

The girls headed upstairs. That looked like the end of construction for the day. I looked at the hat. “What now?”

“Traditionally, I go on your head. Then Lorelei tells me you have a paranormal office. Let’s go take a look.”

I plopped the fedora on my head. “Fine, but I need more coffee for this.”

“Oh, none for me, thanks. Never touch the stuff.”

This could be a crazy Fall, and Winter.

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Still editing

I have more editing to do, so I headed for the writing cabin after tending the dogs. I flew the little gyrocopter low across the forest, around the meadow, and banked toward the landing strip.

That's when all Hell broke loose. An explosion sent rocks and sod soaring over a hundred feet into the air.

I pulled up on the stick and banked right. When I came around, the cabin still stood, but I wondered what the hell was going on.

Lisa Burton crackled across my radio. “I was paying attention to something else. Didn't know you were getting so close. Come on in, I promise it's safe.”

I touched down but veered at the end to avoid a six foot stone that landed at the end of the runway. The gyrocopter veered off into the soft dirt and grass. I left it there, and climbed out of the cockpit.

Lisa came running. “Sorry about that. I've been trying to dig a spot for your underground thingie. It's too rough for a shovel, so I tried the tractor. That didn't work either. Turns out Idaho is a sequence of granitic batholiths. I can't get your thing deep enough any other way.”

“It's a shelter, not a thingie–“

Lisa pushed me behind the gyrocopter.

She pushed down on the plunger and my knees buckled beneath me.

“Stop that!”

“Sorry, I thought you needed the shelter for your next story.”

“It's one of my next stories.”

“I found the outline and checked it out. Estivation is a cool title. I googled it, and it's like hibernation only in extreme heat.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“So what are we going to do down there, once I get it installed?”

“I figured we'd lock ourselves down there for three months, just like the people in the story. One of my author friends did some extreme research and she–“

“Oh, Hell no. You can stay down there for three months, but I have to take care of Bunny.”

“Bring him with us. It'll be fun.”

“Right, fun, until you go all Jack Nicholson from being locked up for so long.”

“I'll tell you what. You finish installing it, and then we'll talk about it. I have some editing work today.” I headed for the cabin. “And no more blasting while I'm here.”

“Killjoy. Fine, I can clear the hole with the tractor until you leave. I'll save my blasting until you go back to work.” She grabbed the gyrocopter with one hand and dragged it back onto the runway. “What about the other story? Is there something there I can work on while you're editing?”

“Not many special props for that one. It's called The Hat, so you can pick up a hat if you want.”

Squeee! I look good in hats, I'd better order a bunch of them.”

“That's the spirit. Nice quiet internet shopping while I work on Yak Guy.”

“You've got it, boss.”

“And you're going to have to bust up that rock and get it out of here.”

“No problem. With explosives.

“What's that?”

“Oh, nothing.”

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The Editing Cabin???

Frankie did her pee pee dance about six o'clock this morning, so I rushed her outside. I fed her and Otto, then headed for the writing cabin.

The place is quiet and has been for some time. Doubt the raven isn't very good company, and I always feel like he's judging me about something. I fed Lisa's rabbit and flitted between projects.

I managed to assemble the next Lisa Burton Radio post, and contacted the author for the week after that. I did a lap through social media and email before putting my editing jacket on.

I managed four chapters, and it's amazing what you'll find when you put a project aside for a month or two. I never really put The Yak Guy aside for that long, but these are early chapters and I probably haven't looked at them for six months. I found a couple of sentences that didn't make a lick of sense, but they do now. I also found a word that was too modern for the setting. It was waterbag, which is what we used to carry on the survey trucks when I was a young man. I used the term waterskin throughout the book, and it's easy to see how I got it in there. It had to go, and I fixed it. Doubt glared at me as if I still didn't have it right.

I spent some time also reading four chapters of a book. My spare time is scarce, and it's either reading or something writing related. Today I decided to split my time between the two. That was until a rumble sounded across the forest and meadow.

I ran to the front porch and stared into the woods. Something distinctly red flashed between the trees.

Lisa Burton roared down the gravel road on her new/old motorcycle. She slid to a stop on the elevator at the end of the runway, then lowered everything into the basement.

I ran back inside to meet her at the top of the stairs when she came up. “It's good to have you home.”

“What's going on out here?”

“Just tending the animals and doing a bit of editing.”

“I can see that. How did you ever get that thing on anyway?”

“I don't know, just part of the magic at the writing cabin.”

“Did you manage to write something while I was away?”

“Not so much. I scratched out a Macabre Macaroni piece, but I don't know if I'll keep it. Maybe I should start calling it the editing cabin. There hasn't been much writing going on this year.”

“I'm sure there will be. Lorelei the Muse won't let you stagnate.”

“I'm sure. Looks like you bought yourself a new toy.”

“Oh yeah, isn't it pretty. I won enough money on the cruise ship to pay for it, and still have money left over. Wanna go for a ride?”

“Um, maybe later.”

“Okay, I'm going to unpack and visit my poor lonely Bunny.”

“Glad to have you back. I think your posters came out great this time.”

“They were nice, weren't they? I like my umpire one best. I looked serious and fierce in it.”

“You had a no nonsense look on your face, that's for sure. Um, Lisa?”

“What?”

“Turns out getting into my editing jacket is easier than getting out of it. Do you mind?”

“No problem, turn around and I'll untie your sleeves.”

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Tuning up a manuscript

I woke up at 6:30 today. Hey, my wife had to work, and I'm on vacation. If the puppies let me sleep that long, I'm taking advantage of it.

I made it out to the writing cabin about 7:30. I had three dogs to feed, and forced Otto into a short, slow walk around the park next door. He's been pretty sedentary, and I wanted him to move around a little bit.

Lisa is still gone, having scheduled her own vacation right after she finished up posing for Sean Harrington. Right now, it's just me and Doubt the raven. A little bit of that New Orleans chicory coffee and I went to work.

I opened up The Enhanced League and started into my reading. My beta readers all pointed out things I used, and I wanted a final reading to make sure everything still flowed. They all had some ideas I didn't use too, but that's kind of how beta reading works. These wonderful people helped me make the book so much better.

Doubt spotted a spelling error and a formatting issue too. For these short stories, I usually start off with a date followed by a colon. Some of them had a location immediately after that, and some didn't. I revamped everything, replacing the colons with periods, and made sure they all had a location. This involved my fictional broadcast team being in some places where the location isn't relevant to the story, but that's how I did it. If nothing else, it helps define how big the league is.

I sent off an email to my formatter. I last contacted her in late April, and feel bad for taking so long. Life has a way of interrupting my writing career, and that isn't all bad either.

I decided to break up the work by assembling and scheduling a guest post for tomorrow. This is pretty simple to do, but it takes some time. I emailed the advance link back to the guest, and checked that off my task list.

Then I decided to start writing blog tour posts of my own. I only managed one, about something new in this book that I call anthems. I wrote about my inspiration to create them, and how I used them in the book. I still have more posts to write, but it feels good to get started.

That's when the phone rang. “Hello.”

“Hi, this is Lisa. Just wanted to see how you're getting along.”

“Oh, fine. It's the first day of my vacation. How's your vacation?”

“It's good, I finished up with Sean yesterday and grabbed a bus out of town.”

“A bus?”

“You know robot girls can't pass through TSA machines. It's a bus or come home to get the rocket-pack.”

“Oh yeah, from the second Notebook. Where did you decide to go?”

“I'm in sunny Southern California right now. There are cruise ships operating out of San Diego, and I may decide to play a little blackjack.”

“Hardly fair with your card counting skills.”

“It isn't illegal to be smarter than they are. Besides, it's my main source of spending money.”

“What about your paycheck?”

“That's cute, but it doesn't provide the kind of wardrobe I'm used to.”

“Well, try to have a good time. Then I need you to help me with a time travel story. Right after that I need to polish up The Yak Guy Project. Before you know it, we'll be starting on The Hat, and Estivation. We need some Macabre Macaroni stories too.”

“It all sounds like fun. The posters are going to be awesome.”

“With you and Sean, I never have any doubts. Can't wait to see them. Do you think I need to find a bus depot and pick you up eventually?”

“Um, I'll keep you posted on that. Bye.”

Research Note: The Henderson Motorcycle Company was an American company. If it were still around, it would be revered right alongside Harley Davidson. They were part of the Schwinn Bicycle company. The Henderson Streamliner is an Art Deco masterpiece.

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