Is a tragedy acceptable today?

I stayed up until midnight playing video games with my son. I knew I'd pay for it today, but did it anyway.

Frankie, the alarm dog, got me up at 4:30. I should be overjoyed that she gave me twenty minutes longer than my alarm clock usually does. It's a flex day, so maybe I'll grab a nap this after noon.

I hacked out another micro-fiction while the dogs managed to go back to sleep. Then I grabbed a fresh coffee and sat beside the footboard of my bed.

A slurping noise moved from the darkness to just the other side of the footboard. A black tentacle slid a Nylabone out on the floor beside me.

“Black is a new look for you, isn't it?”

“Oh, you know me. Always trying something new. I think it makes me scarier in the dark.”

“You could be onto something. Things you can't quite see are more frightening. What's with the dog toy?”

“Oh, Frankie and Otto were tugging at it yesterday and it flew under the bed. I thought she might need it back.”

“Not for much longer. I think her puppy teeth are almost all gone now.”

“Good thing too. Those babies are sharp. I had to steal a Bandaid while you guys were sleeping.”

“No problem, that's why they're there.”

“So what brings you to talk to the old under-the-bed monster today?”

“Tragedy.”

“You're going to have to be more specific.”

“Okay, tragedy is a time honored kind of story. When done well, it produces a powerful emotional experience for the reader–“

“Right a PEE, I read your blog. Too funny.”

“As I was going to say, it seems to be out of favor today.”

“Times change and all that.”

“Maybe they do, but maybe they shouldn't. Not everyone gets a happily-ever-after in real life. Fiction should reflect real life.”

“Riiiight. You write stories about spacemen, witches, and dwarves.”

“Okay, but I try to get real human emotions into them.”

“You still haven't told me what specifically brings you here today.”

“I nearly wrote a Greek tragedy a few years ago with The Cock of the South. I chickened out, and didn't completely go that route. Well, I've gone and done it again.”

“And you're worried it will make people mad. You're looking at it from the wrong side of the mirror. For every one of those happy endings, a monster dies somewhere. Do you know how many of my friends are hanging around the Union Hall just waiting for another story?”

“How many?”

“All of em, and they aren't going to get another story because the author killed them off.”

“Don't you guys always manage to stick a hand out of the grave right at the end, or open your eyes suddenly?”

“Only in horror. Not every monster story is technically a horror story.”

“That's all great, and I appreciate that monsters would understand, but they don't buy many books these days.”

“So it's a commercial thing?”

“Not exactly, it's a story for my blog.”

“Now you're just being stupid. Those things have the lifespan of a gnat. Eight hours later the readership forgets all about them.”

“Maybe they do, and maybe they don't. They don't swarm back and re-read the posts, but the story might stick with them.”

“Yeah, that's a good point. Is this for your macaroni thing?”

“It's called Macabre Macaroni, and yeah.”

“Maybe you can bracket it with something happy on either side. End with one that isn't a tragedy. They always remember the last one.”

“So bury it in the middle somewhere?”

“That's my opinion.”

“Thanks Under-The-Bed Monster, I owe you one.”

“You owe me several, but who's counting.”

35 Comments

Filed under Writing

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.”

39 Comments

Filed under Muse

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.

25 Comments

Filed under Muse

Do I need a plan?

I have three days off, and two of those will let me get some things done. I intended to monkey with some micro-fiction tonight, but didn't get that far.

The best I could manage was to change my wallpaper again. I like the speed racers, but the white Bonneville Salt Flat, mixed with the white page of my blog was too much for me. I cropped some of the sky out, and used a picture of the Sawtooth Mountains. This one may not be perfect, but I'm content with it.

My wife and I watched The Passengers on television tonight. I thought it was a wonderful movie. A little romance, a little science fiction, a bit of Titanic disaster. Good film.

I have a critique I need to work through, and that will take about fifteen minutes. I need to work up a couple more shticks for Lisa Burton Radio and send them out. Then I have a backlog of interview requests, but I have to keep the line moving too.

Beyond that, I want to write three micro-fiction pieces for October.

My main distraction is wanting to start one of my novellas. A blogger/author friend told me she wrangled 5000 words today. That's a tremendous day, and it calls to me to get started. I need to resist the call.

I committed to two October promotions this week. I haven't gotten any additional instructions, but will need to write something for those eventually.

Besides, I'm behind on my reading. I have at least three, possibly four books I need to read. If I resist the writing call for a couple of weeks, I may get a couple of those checked off.

It's a tough call to resist.

42 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Frankie the Fish, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Hello all you watersprites and merfolk, you selkies and Aquarians. You've found this week's edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I'm your host, Lisa the robot girl, and I have a very special guest with me today, please welcome Frankie the Fishtastic.

“Thank you, Lisa Burton. I am pleased that you have acknowledged my fish-tasticness. This will be a great interview. I also welcome my fellow creatures of the deep as well as those who live on land.”


“My bio says you are the supervisor of the Chameleon family. Do most families have a supervisor where you live?”


“Most families in New Town do not require a supervisor. It was not my intention to watch over the doings of the Chameleon family, but they are so in need. I help them out in this capacity with the understanding that they will never truly understand my gift to them.”


“And where do you stay? Do you live at the Chameleon household, or do you have an office somewhere?”


“I have several homes. My primary home is a 10 gallon aquarium, tastefully decorated by me. I have a cave, my sword, and a mermaid or two that keep me company. I also have a fishbowl which is used when I eat with the Chameleon family in the first floor kitchen. You see, I sometimes supervise cooking. I also have a portable home in Charlie’s backpack. I go with to help him keep out of trouble, although I don’t think he appreciates all I do for him.”


“So you're, um, actually a fish then?”


“Well of course! Why else would I live in water? Really, Lisa Burton, that was not logical.”


“Well, the show must go on. What kind of activities do you supervise?”


“Recently, bullying. Charlie decided that he wanted to invite friends over to make cookies. I told him that cookies would be a fish-tastic idea but he should remember not to put onions it them, yuck. But that’s a story for another day.


“When he said he was having Boris Bunny over, I got really worried and told him that wasn’t a good idea. Boris has issues. He can be a bully. Once he had the nerve to try and squish me. Fish don’t like hugs! Then Charlie was thinking about inviting Gary Gecko, too. The Bunny and the Gecko don’t get along.


“Charlie was asking for trouble.”


“And did Charlie take your advice, or did he find his own path?”


“Triton, no. He invited them both over without letting each other know. Can you believe it? He did promise to keep Boris away from me and also that he would not put onions in the cookies. Thank goodness for that. Even the birds wouldn’t eat the leftovers.”


“Sounds like Charlie is lucky to have you, even if it's a tough love situation.”


“Indeed. Charlie is one lucky Chameleon.”


“My author, that Ellen woman, delivered a passable product. I suggested to her subconsciously to rewrite it to include some activities the readers can complete at the end of each chapter. Can you believe she thinks they are all her ideas?”


“That sounds like fun, and gets the readers involved too. She sounds like a very creative author to me.”


“Ellen is a serviceable employee. She needs to leave the mermaids alone though. She’s given me a love-fear relationship with them that I find very confusing.”


“And on that note, Frankie, do you have any closing comments for our listeners today?”


“Gentle listeners, and not so gentle ones, I am so pleased that you showed good taste and listened in to my interview. You can learn more about my adventures, and Charlie’s too in The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon series. The author really should have titled the series after me, but what can I say. There is only so much one fish can do, no matter how awesome.


“I had a fish-tastic time, Lisa Burton. If you ever find a way to shift yourself along the grid to one of the eBooks, I’d be happy to entertain you in my world. I doubt Charlie would mind.”


“You can read more about Charlie Chameleon and Frankie's supervision skills in the book, The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon: School Days, by Ellen L. Buikema. I'm sure you'll find her more than a serviceable author.


“Don't forget to use those sharing buttons today, I'm sure Ellen would appreciate it, and Frankie would demand it. Then they'll do it for you, when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.”


***

The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon: School Days

Charlie Chameleon and his friends are having trouble with Boris Bunny, the class bully. Charlie thinks Boris is putting on an act, but his friends disagree. Follow Charlie’s adventures as he helps Boris learn how to be a friend.

Charlie's School Days – book trailer

Purchase Link

Now you can ask Frankie A Question

Read the answers here

About the Author:

Ellen Buikema is a parent, writer, speaker and educator. She received a M.Ed. specializing in Early Childhood from the University of Illinois in Chicago and has extensive post-graduate work in special education from Northeastern Illinois University. She writes adult nonfiction and fiction for children, sprinkling humor everywhere possible. Ellen is the author of The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon series and Parenting . . . A Work in Progress. She has begun research for a Young Adult historical fiction.

Social Media Contacts:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

YouTube

Pinterest

LinkedIn

Google+

Amazon Author Page

47 Comments

Filed under Lisa Burton Radio

Not bad for a flex day

Like all flex days, this one started off with a task list last night. The day started with my alarm dog at about six o'clock.

Otto and Frankie play together all the time now. A big part of this involves him feeling much better. We took more detailed X-rays about two weeks ago, and had an additional expert look at them. He has several problems, but there was concern about one specific issue. It involves bone tissue that is degenerating and regrowing.

Our vet said the possibilities were bone cancer, and a bone infection. The cancer is almost unheard of with a dog Otto's age, and the infection is also extremely rare. He wanted to try an antibiotic in an abundance of caution, but thinks maybe the X-ray simply showed something that isn't there.

Here's the deal, though. After two days of antibiotic, Otto started feeling better. After a week, I have my boy back. He runs around, plays ball, and is acting like his old self. He still limps on occasion, but two weeks ago he was dragging himself across the floor by his front legs.

How the hell does anything get a bone infection?

They've been absolutely crazy today.

Oh, come on guys, you're making me look bad now. They were playing, I swear.

I wound up doing some maintenance on my part of the Story Empire blog, and finished that. About an hour ago, I found even more to do there, but still consider it a win.

I also explored and joined a new app a friend told me about. Something called Triberr, but don't ask me anything about it just yet.

I finished the edits on a 5500 word short story for an anthology, and delivered the edited version to them.

Edits on the Yak Guy Project are finished. I'm going to put it aside for a while to work on other projects. Quite honestly, I'm thinking about submitting it to a publisher. I haven't submitted anything for years, but maybe the hybrid author is the way to go. Right now, I just need time to think about it all.

I got another five star review today for the Second Experimental Notebook. I need to write a third one of these, and they make a great side project. Not just yet though.

First I need more micro-fiction for October. I intended to write one today, but never got that far. I might rough one out while my ballgame is on.

Ah, here you go. See all happy today.

41 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

August

I lived most of my life in Northern Nevada, but there is one event I never attended. Right on the Utah line, the month of August means Speed Week.

I always intended to go at least once, but never made it. I used to own a 1956 Cadillac Sedan DeVille, and it isn’t that kind of car event. I took my car to Hot August Nights in Reno more times than I could count. You kind of have to pick one, and thousands of classic cars and hotrods always won out for me.

Speed week is where highly customized cars race across the Bonneville Salt Flats trying to set land speed records, including breaking the sound barrier. I would imagine it’s about 150 degrees right down on the surface of the salt. Reno offered air conditioned casinos with discount cold beer. They also had some awesome concerts.

At Hot August Nights, I got to see the kind of bands you never hear about anymore. I saw Chuck Berry, Little Richard, The Shirelles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and many more. They were all pretty old, and most of them are dead now, but I saw them live. Revere even owned a nightclub down there called Kicks. He played live in the evenings during the event, and it was a happening place. Some of them were one hit wonders, and the concerts were always an amalgamation. A dozen performers did about three songs each, then the headliner would do the last half of the show.

Speed week is more of a wild party atmosphere, similar to but not as excessive as Burning Man. I think it’s better for a younger crowd. I was young once too, but always found something better to do. I kind of wish I’d gone just once.

August is a tough month to depict, because it doesn’t have a special holiday or anything. There are events all over the country in August; Speed Week, Hot August Nights, Burning Man, Sturgis. I’m sure you can think of others, and if you’re in a different country I’m sure you can. Which one do you want to attend? Is one of these on your bucket list.

I’m leaving my baseball scoreboard in the banner though. It’s still baseball season, and The Enhanced League still needs some readers.

43 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized