This is my short weekend, and I had one important chore to attend to. The appointment fell at about the perfect time to disrupt my whole Saturday. I got my second Covid vaccination today.
I wanted to jump aboard Lanternfish and move the story forward, but sometimes you have to face reality. Next weekend isn’t looking that favorable either. Old What’s Her Face is off the same days I am, and our daughter is coming for a visit. Family first is kind of a personal rule. If they go shopping or something, I might snitch an hour. I’ll have to play that by ear.
I did come up with some fun ideas while waiting in the parking lot for my appointment. This afternoon, I started two new storyboards for Lizzie and The Hat. I don’t know why I do this to myself, because any ability to write them is a couple of years away. Still, if they exist, it’s easier to tweak and perfect them over time. Hopefully, readers will still be interested when I get that far. They are pretty fun ideas.
Maybe tomorrow I can find enough time to add back material to Lunar Boogie. After that, I can send it to my formatter. Lisa Burton posters are on order, and I could get this out before June. This has always been something I wanted to do, and never made it before. If it goes into June, I’ll hold off on publication until Fall.
I also wrote something for Story Empire. It won’t post until May, so I didn’t schedule it yet. Gives me time to make it pretty.
Last injection, I felt like my arm was going to fall off. So far nothing like that. In two weeks I’ll be bulletproof.
I want to welcome back an old friend today. Sue Coletta writes these amazing murder mysteries, and if you haven’t discovered her you’re missing out.
Make her feel welcome, and make sure to use those sharing buttons to help with her latest release. The new book sounds wonderful, so I’ll let her tell you all about it.
It’s impossible to talk about my Mayhem Series without the mention of crows. For those who don’t know, Mr. Mayhem has three top crows: Poe, Allan, and Edgar. When I first introduced crows into the series, they were supposed to be sidekicks—someone for Mr. Mayhem to chat with during his late-night excursions—but Poe evolved into so much more. I’ve read some reviews that say he’s their favorite character. Not the humans mind you, but Poe, the lead crow of Mayhem’s murder. In I AM MAYHEM, I introduced one more “special” crow, but I can’t tell you why without ruining the surprise.
As an aside: Poe’s based on a real crow who comes when I call.
With each new book, I take another plunge into crow research. After years of studying crow behavior, one might think I’ve learned all I could about corvids, but I always find something new.
Humans often believe we are the only species to possess certain traits, behaviors, or abilities, especially with regard to cognition. Occasionally, we extend such traits to primates or other “higher” mammals—species we share fundamental brain similarities.
Few look toward the sky. Yet, crows, ravens, and other corvids are making multipart tools like hooked sticks to reach grubs, solving geometry puzzles, and one particularly kind magpie even nudged a clueless hedgehog across the highway before it became roadkill.
A crow’s brain is enormous compared to their body, and they don’t waste a morsel of it. Crows have long impressed scientists with their intelligence and creativity.
Now, crows can add one more feather to their brainiac cap: A new study unveiled in Science magazine found that crows inherently know things and can ponder the content of their own minds, a manifestation of higher intelligence and analytical thought believed only capable by humans and a few other higher mammals.
German scientists put crows through a series of puzzling tasks. During which they measured neural activity in different types of neurons, with the goal of tracking how crows sensed and reasoned through their work. They sought to study a specific kind of thinking called sensory consciousness.
Sensory consciousness isn’t as simple as the definition: awareness of the visual, tactile, olfactory, auditory, and taste qualities of stimuli. Sensory consciousness arises from specific brain processes. In simpler terms, the sensory feel of an experience is not something that happens to us, but rather, it’s a skill we exercise. It also differs from other mental phenomena, like conscious thought or memory.
Consider the difference between physically feeling pain vs. imagining that you feel pain. Or rubbing the softness of fleece between your fingertips vs. envisioning how fleece might feel. We writers use our sensory consciousness all the time.
Do crows have this ability, too?
To answer that question, we first need to understand the difference between our brains and birds lies within the design. Mammals’ brains are layered like club sandwiches, while birds’ brains are arranged more like pizza. All the pieces are there but they’re not stacked like ours.
Another important note about sensory consciousness: The ability to have subjective experiences that can be explicitly accessed and thus reported arises from brain processes that emerged through evolutionary history, and dates back 320 million years ago when birds diverged from mammalian lineage.
After the crows got comfortable within the testing environment, scientists introduced a rule—a red cue for “yes, they’d seen the stimulus” or blue for “no, they hadn’t.”
The results stunned scientists, and affirmed crows do in fact possess sensory consciousness.
To reconcile sensory consciousness in birds and mammals, one scenario would postulate that birds and mammals inherited the trait of consciousness from their last-common ancestor, and crows tucked this superpower in the ol’ memory bank for at least 320 million years. Amazing, right?
As bloody, severed body parts show up on her doorstep, Shawnee Daniels must stop the serial killer who wants her dead before she becomes the next victim.
But can she solve his cryptic clues before it’s too late? Or will she be the next to die a slow, agonizing death?
With crows stalking her every move, Shawnee can barely function. Things worsen when body parts show up on her doorstep. An unstoppable serial killer wants her dead. Mr. Mayhem threatens to murder everyone she loves, sending Shawnee a piece at a time.
As Mr. Mayhem sits in judgement, his cryptic clues must be solved before the final gavel drops. The game rules are simple—win the unwinnable or submit to a slow, agonizing death.
When Shawnee tries to fight back, she discovers her very existence is based on lies. But the full impact of the truth might become the headstone on Shawnee’s grave.
Joan Hall is a good friend, and one of my Story Empire partners. She has a new book out today, and everyone should run over there to check it out. Take a bit of extra time to share it to your social media from her site.
Hey, everyone. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m delighted to announce the release of House of Sorrow.
This short story is a prequel to the upcoming novel Cold Dark Night, and part of my new Legends of Madeira series.
Madeira is a fictional town in New Mexico. The state is known for mountains and deserts, cities and villages, military bases and energy production. Santa Fe, one of the older cities in the United States, was founded in 1610. Taos Pueblo, home to the Native American Puebloan people is estimated to be between five hundred to one-thousand years old.
Some places, such as Clovis, came about in the early 1900s. My fictional town is one of the newer ones, dating to the late 1860s.
House of Sorrow is different than other books and stories I’ve written. There is an element of suspense, but also historical elements. Set primarily in…
I admit to getting fairly lax about updating Entertaining Stories in the last year. Let’s face it, 2020 didn’t leave us much to talk about. Everything that happened in my life happened in yours, too.
As we step into 2020 things are trying to improve. The goal of this blog has always been writing related, so let’s start there.
Yesterday I found some writing time. This is the regrouping phase of the big Lanternfish battle. A lot happened, and nobody knows all of it. Visitors showed up in the aftermath and helped spell some of it out. James spent a bit of time looking in on his wounded, and with the visitors’ help, they set some new goals.
He managed to overlook his missing son. I still need to address this from his POV somehow. I sent Mule and Yoshiko on an ill-advised quest to recover Mule’s knife. This is the haunted knife from Giapon with a mind of its own. When I ended, they were following a trail of murder and mayhem across the battlefield. I didn’t do too much, and only added enough to get started next time. Whatever it came to didn’t match the huge word count of Friday.
After that, Old What’s Her Face and I decided to go someplace to eat. It’s payday weekend, so it’s nice to have a slice of our former lives. It didn’t amount to anything fancy, but it’s Lobsterfest at Red Lobster. We had a nice dinner, then went home.
After supper, we watched Falcon and the Winter Soldier as far as they’ve been released. It’s interesting so far. Secondary characters trying to carry a story and it’s functional.
We also managed to watch Kong vs Godzilla on Friday night, and I really liked it. Could have done without all that hollow Earth crap, but I liked the film. Adventure galore, but they swung and missed on the traditional messages. Godzilla was always about an environmental warning, and Kong had this tragic emotional thing going on. They tried with some kind of high-tech weapon and a tiny deaf girl, but it just didn’t work. Let’s face it, it’s geared toward them beating the crap out of each other and it accomplishes that.
Somewhere in the midst of everything else, I managed to edit one chapter of Lunar Boogie. I should be doing more, but there it is.
Today, I frittered around with social media after talking to my parents. I determined to do something and went into an alternate room. There was writing time, the possibility of editing, but I decided to read instead. I don’t do enough reading, so it feels productive to me. (First third of a new novel in one shot is pretty good for my reading.)
It was a good weekend. I got the chance to be productive and balanced that with some real life.
I get a Wednesday flex day this week and have it earmarked for more Lanternfish. Other than that, it’s back to work in the real world.
This is my short weekend, and my wife is off at the same time. I never really expected any writing progress, so I’m pleasantly surprised.
I have a tree I need to prune and we wanted to check out a new restaurant while we still had some Biden Bucks in our account.
Old What’s Her Face insisted we hit the restaurant at 11:00, because it’s so new. A big lunch will require us to skip dinner, but it turned out to be a pretty good idea. When arrived, there was already a line down the sidewalk.
The place is called Sid’s Garage, and it’s a burger joint, but a really upscale burger joint. I had something called the Jekyll & Hyde burger. (Really, how could I pass up something with that name.) It had a grilled peach atop a Wagyu beef patty. It was wonderful.
We shared a basket of Parmesan truffle fries, and a small plate of flash fried deviled eggs. I’ve never even heard of something like this. They’re like the love child of deviled eggs and Scotch eggs.
They also have fancy milkshakes. It’s to early for beer, so I went for one that was peach and pralines with a bit of bourbon maple flavor to it. It looked like this. Oh yeah, there was a crumble of candied bacon on top.
I mentioned writing, so here’s that brief. I never planned on writing. Somehow, I wound up closing myself into an alternate room before lunch and tearing into my project. Before it was time to get ready, I dealt with moving Lanternfish into position for the big battle.
After a bunch of orders and prep, it was time for the cannon to roar and a whole new kind of trouble to face my crew. Exploding monks made an appearance, but I had to stop just before Mal pulled one of his witch doctor shenanigans to benefit the war effort.
I’m telling you, things were really working for me this morning. It came to 2500 words and I feel like I could have doubled that given the time.
Sometimes, you have to spend time with your wife and chow down on something incredibly bad for you. With that kind of word count, I think today was a big win all around.
I woke up at five o’clock on Sunday. By visiting my parents, I missed out on a visit from my daughter. Old What’s Her Face said if I got on the road by seven, our daughter would stick around Boise and cut my hair. It felt kind of abusive of her time, but I wanted to see her.
The drive started before sunrise, and I enjoyed the dawning across the high desert. This is something I used to see every day, but took for granted.
By the time I reached Lone Mountain Station, there she was. It’s still winter, so she wore a bulky sweater, tights and knee high boots. Her shock of long brown hair moved slightly in the breeze. She watched two vehicles drive by, then stuck out her thumb as I approached.
I eased into the parking lot, then rolled down the window. “What brings you all the way out here, Lorelei? Kind of lonely territory for a Muse.”
I watched, mesmerized by her tights, as she walked around to the passenger side, then climbed inside.
“I just wanted to check in. See how your writing is going.”
“It’s been kind of slow. There were a couple of good days, but I got bogged down in the muddy middle for a while.”
“That’s familiar territory for you. Still, I know you’ve added to your storyboards. It seems like you are well primed for your next few tales.”
“Yeah, listen to this.” I turned up the music.
As she listened, I kept talking. “It’s just too obscure for Lizzie and the Pythons to play at one of their gigs.”
“Maybe when they make the movie you can include it as background music.”
“Yeah. That would be great. Since Netflix doesn’t seem to be calling, about all I can do with it is enjoy it.”
“Have you thought about making a character based around this theme?”
“That’s a great idea. He could take a supporting role for one of Lizzie’s adventures. But, I have storyboards that will take years to write out.”
“Hang onto him. He might fit on an existing board, or maybe he needs a new story.”
“Gives me something to think about.”
“That what a Muse does.”
“Of course, Good Liniment is next for that series. Then there’s The Midnight Rambler, and I have one with some gremlins, maybe one about St. Vitus’ Dance, and I’m toying with one that will take Lizzie to the Kentucky Derby.”
“How did you come up with that?”
“The hat, of course. He would hate to be one of those fancy women’s hats. I can get some comedic mileage out of that.”
“That’s a paragraph. You’re going to need a bit more.”
“Okay, Good Liniment will expand the witchcraft world. Readers asked for that, but I wanted Lizzie to evolve into her position for a few tales. There are going to be a bunch of new characters in that story. One of which is a horse lover in the form of the headless horseman. I figure he can be the herald to walk Lizzie into some problem with the horses. Weird enough for one of my tales?”
“It’s certainly weird, but so are you.”
“Thanks, I think. I don’t think I can get her there with a Barnstable Brown performance, or even Phillies and Lillies. Lizzie and the Pythons aren’t big enough for those events. I might have to invent some dive bar in the area for them to perform at.”
“Then invent one. Sounds like it’s going to take a couple of years before you write it. I’m sure something will come to you. Start a storyboard, and remember you only have about two years to complete it.”
I signaled to exit the freeway at Meridian. “What I really need is some help with Lanternfish.”
“Sorry, this is where I get out.”
“Oh, come on!”
“Anywhere near that strip mall is fine. I’ve seen your board. Lanternfish will be fine. You just need to sift through the parts until the pieces are in position for the end game. Since this is a trilogy, make sure you bring some closure to more than just James and Serang.”
“But, you could really help me.”
She leaned over and kissed my cheek. “Of course I could, but your creativity feeds me. Not the other way around. The next time you make a long drive, maybe play something other than your Lizzie and the hat playlist.”
“But, it’s such good music.”
“It really is. Sounds like that series will survive for a long time. You gained a new character out of our visit. Be happy with that.”
This is a collection of cyberpunk stories for you science fiction junkies. I’m proud to see Grinders mentioned in this circle. While you’re there, check out Bubbles in Space, the host’s own story that sounds wonderful.
These Indie authors are taking cyberpunk to the next level!
If you ask most SF geeks about their favourite cyberpunk novel, you’ll likely hear one of two answers. William Gibson’s Neuromancer or Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash.
I know this, because I’ve been asking! Genre research is something I take pretty seriously.
I’m halfway through Neuromancer right now, and loving it. Snow Crash is next in my traditionally published TBR pile.
But I have another TBR pile, too. One reserved for independent authors!
I try to read at least one traditional and one indie title in the genre I’m writing in every month. This keeps me up to date on both mainstream and marginal trends to make sure that I’m hitting the right tropes and also still offering readers something unique.
So, while I will be reviewing both the traditional and indie titles that I read while writing my new…
I read some amazing books in 2020 and I would like to share them again with you, updated with the authors most recent releases and their biography.
Today I am sharing my review from May 2020 for Viral Blues (The Hat Book 2) by C.S. Boyack
About the book
Someone knows about the hat. The creature from another dimension that helps Lizzie fight against the creatures of darkness.
They are summoned to a cryptic meeting with a secret society, where they meet other people with enhanced skills. It turns out someone, or something, has been tampering with the world’s vaccine supply. The goal doesn’t appear to be political or financial, but biblical pestilence.
Can this group of loners come together in time to make a difference when even the proper authorities are obstacles?
Check out Viral Blues, for your dose of paranormal adventure, with a strong sample of dark…
Author CS Boyack builds from the foundation an alternate reality where a man gets another chance to live life. The character development of the nameless man who would grow into Ted starts from the ground up when he awakes in pain. This man has a few vague memories of where he came from but no specifics.
My favorite character was the Yak. Not just an ordinary Yak you see on a wildlife show, but a talking Yak. Continue reading here.
I had two goals today, and those didn’t have a lot of parameters. I wanted to go back over my existing work with a fine toothed comb, and I wanted to add some small amount of new words to Lanternfish.
What I didn’t plan on was the big squirrel festival in the back yard. This started off with one squirrel running down the fence then staring inside at the dogs as he waited.
That’s enough to make Frankie blow a gasket, so she had to chase him off. Another squirrel showed up, and the neighbor dog chased it away. The sound of her made Frankie have to go out and play, then they chased each other up and down the fence. I suppose the squirrels watched this part from the treetops.
Between bouts of this, more squirrels showed up, and we repeated the process all over again. Sometimes two of them at once.
Otto doesn’t care much anymore. This usually happens when a younger dog takes up the challenge, and Frankie is the younger of the two.
Somewhere in the middle of that, I managed to work through one chapter of Lunar Boogie, and one Chapter of Lanternfish. I still assume they suck, but I did what I could.
I also managed to add 1000 words to Lanternfish; not my most productive day. Even then, I resorted to root monster antics because they usually flow pretty fast.
There is a quiet and mysterious scene for Serang coming up. There will be some fantasy elements and a discovery involved. I just have to finish a chapter on the open sea before I can take that on.
I’ll try to dabble a bit more today, but right now I have to get up and let Frankie out. It seems there is a squirrel in the back yard.