Tag Archives: aging

Writing away

I’m up to 6900 words now. Might get a little more time tomorrow. I’m still getting used to these characters and trying to find a balance in the early going.

Basically, Jenny is a TV news woman who does local interest stories. She’s aging and her station wants to diversify and get younger at the same time. They promoted her to Assignments Editor, which is off-camera. Also makes room for a targeted replacement.

She would like to do hard news, but the deck is stacked against her. I know where this is all going, but am trying to find a balance. She’s a single mother of a college student who is also a major character. There are the workplace struggles. Plus a plot I want to get into.

I want the plot to unfold slowly, but am afraid if I don’t call it out in the first two pages I might bore some people. I want to challenge myself with a mystery-box style, but it’s obvious to me there’s going to be a learning curve. I’m trying to use some subtle imagery to call things out, but I don’t think it’s working too well. Things like an image on a kombucha bottle, a restaurant sign, and a few others.

I’m using a lot of workplace tension to try to keep the interest up. Jenny is trying to get her former cameraman used to her replacement. Struggling to find a schedule that keeps all the reporters busy, that kind of thing. She’s also haunting the basement to look through old files from various newspapers her conglomerate absorbed over the years. Maybe one of those will bring the kind of news she wants to dive into.

Finally, I sent Jenny on a day trip with her son. He’s failing Geology and has the opportunity to do some extra credit with a scintillator. This is basically radioactive prospecting. Her news research is starting to come together with his research paper.

I really should start my other story, but I’m dwelling on this for a while. It would probably help to get two going so I can bounce back and forth.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Might return to outer space with Percy the Space Chimp. Might stay where I am for a few more chapters.


Filed under Writing

What I wound up doing

After my reading binge yesterday, I had no agenda today. I earmarked time to talk with my mother, and we spent two hours on the phone. No rush. No squandered time.

I’ve got this character that’s been screaming at me for attention. She only has the vaguest outline of a plot, but she’s really interesting. Today I went down the research rabbit hole for her.

I spent my day learning about newsroom hierarchy, cattle mutilations, rare earth minerals. Double checked the locations of the Green River Killer. I spent an hour learning about radioactive prospecting by geologists, and shopped for scintillators. These things are better than Geiger counters and have even been used from low flying aircraft to identify ore bodies. Even made up a joke about them.

Research led me to common items in every home that will give off a radioactive signal. Things like several fruits and vegetables, smoke detectors, granite countertops, bricks, ceramics, and our cell phones. Cigarette smoke is radioactive, but vapes aren’t. No idea why that might be important, but it’s something I learned about today. A scintillator will pick up these light duty readings where a Geiger counter will not.

Botox and fillers took up a brief section of time. My character is going to be an aging television reporter whose looks are fading along with her desirability on camera. She wants more out of life. She wants to do hard news. I gave her a great weird habit that I think some might relate to. (Weird is kind of what I do.)

I invented a son for my MC, and decided she’s a war widow. This had me learning about audiologists, audiology technicians, and even Foley artists. What kind of college courses might be needed in these fields? I’ll have to make some of this up on the fly.

I’m getting close to what looks like a plot, but it isn’t ready for a storyboard just yet.

I need some kind of shadowy figure or a group to add tension as the rest unfolds. Why are they following her? Probably federal types, but it could also be something related to a tech billionaire. The kind who send rockets into space.

I scratched out some notes about a mentor type character. My MC can’t go from fluff pieces (or weather girl) to investigative journalism all at once. I like the idea of a disgraced newsman trying to live in obscurity. Maybe he was a fanny patter after that became newsworthy and he took the fall.

Sometimes I just need to get things out of my head. I’ve been known to make these sheets for stories that never get written. Sometimes they take two years before I turn them into something. Working ahead has served me well over the years. Then again, I might start drafting this next weekend. Who knows.


Filed under Writing

It Finally Happened

Well, it happened. It was inevitable, eventually, but I never expected it to get here so fast. When I got up this morning I was SIXTY years old. I suppose I should be happy, not everyone gets this chance, but I’m kind of lukewarm to the idea.

I feel like I was supposed to accomplish a lot more by this point in life. Does everyone feel that way? Maybe it’s just me. (Not about me, about yourselves.)

My new iPad and keyboard arrived yesterday, so there is a gift involved. I spent the afternoon setting it all up and making sure all my storyboards, Pages documents, and blogs worked. This is the big iPad Pro again, but it’s smaller than the old one. They cut the button off and eliminated all that black space around the edges. The screen is the same size, only clearer and it’s all faster. Jury is still out about the size. This one is a bit more “wobbly” and feels overbalanced when I attach the keyboard. I think it’s just a learning curve, but don’t expect to have any issues with it.

Mom sent me a box of dipped strawberries. These things are awesome, and some disappeared before I took the photo. They came with a reusable blue ice thing, so I froze it for my daughter to use. She regularly trucks supplies back with her when she visits.

In a normal world, we’d go to Old Chicago or someplace so I could sample some new beers and have pizza. We’ll probably do takeout instead. Feels like a letdown for an epic year of my life, but without Covid-19, I might make it to 61.

I’m going to dedicate a big portion of the day to reading. I’m always behind on that, so with Old What’s Her Face at work it’s a good time for it. Normally, I’d thrill to have a quality writing day. I haven’t been writing for months. If you’ve been paying attention, and probably if you haven’t, I’ve been promoting one book or another since August. I’m really enjoying the interactions in the tour, but am suffering a bit of blog tour fatigue.

This brings me to writing once more. Every tour post is unique. From Grinders, through HMS Lanternfish, and now Mrs. Molony, there has been a lot of writing. It just isn’t new fiction. I’m undecided about when to take up the keyboard again. I have projects ready to go, but might not start again until December. Not for a few more weeks in either case.

Does anyone know any good cocktail recipes for my Geritol? Feels like some kind of rum concoction to me. Might need a slug of something while I fill out my AARP application. Maybe I should start making some notes about the “Good Old Days,” so I can annoy my children with tales.


Filed under Uncategorized

Requiem for the Status Quo, on #LisaBurton Radio

“Hello, caller. You’re on the air with Lisa Burton. What can we do for you today?”

“I don’t think I’ve met you, Lisa, this is Patrick Quinn, can you please put my daughter, Colleen, on the phone?”

“Sorry, Patrick I think you’ve got the wrong number. I’m actually a radio talk-show host, Lisa the robot girl.”

“Robot girl? What can I do for you?”

“Well, Patrick, you called me and I’m glad you did. Now that we’re on the air, what would you like to talk about?”

“If I had my druthers, I’d like to talk about and to Connie. She’s my wife. She died a few years ago. Let me tell you about her … did you say your name is Laura?”

“Close, it’s Lisa.”

“Let me tell you, Lisa, that wife of mine was a firecracker, she sure kept me on my toes but a few years ago now, she got her wish to die in her sleep. Let me tell you, that’s a wish that I’m sorry came true.”

“I’m sorry about your wife’s passing, Patrick.”

“Me too, and you see, it used to be that I felt I could communicate with her, you know, even though she’s in whatever and wherever the afterlife has to offer, but I don’t seem to be able to reach her anymore.”

“You’re saying you can’t talk to her anymore? I’m sure she’s still there somewhere, Patrick, I bet she still hears you.”

“Well, that’s good to know, thanks for saying so. Just wish I could hear her. Ya’ see, it seems my brain isn’t exactly tuned in to her anymore. Colleen, did I tell you she’s my daughter? She understands all about that, she’s a darn good caregiver for her old man as well. The last thing I ever wanted was to be a burden to her, she deserves to have a life of her own, ya’ know.”

“Wait a minute, your daughter’s your caregiver, does this mean you’re not feeling well?”

“Nice of you to ask, Miss Laura, um Miss Lisa? Anyway, other than my prostate that’s acting up something fierce, I’m feeling fine, I just can’t remember things as well as I used to because of a dementia thing I’ve got. The Doc says it’s Alzheimer’s plus something else, I can’t remember the something else…well, I guess it’s no surprise I can’t remember. So when Colleen and I met with the Doc, now he’s a real smart guy, let me tell you, he’s a brain doctor so he’s gotta be…um, what was I saying?”

“You and your daughter met with a smart doctor.”

“Right, so the Doc, he says there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s so Colleen and I knew right away that wasn’t good news at all, which, let me tell you, didn’t sit at all well with either of us. I said to the doctor, I said, “Look Doc, there must be a pill or two I can take, isn’t there?” Then I said, “They’ve got a pill that can give a man a four-hour erection, can’t they give me a pill that’ll take care of my withered brain?” Get it, withered?”

“Um, yeah, that’s kind of funny.”

“I thought so too, but the doctor didn’t laugh, I guess he was supposed to be serious and all, but I thought the erection comment would lighten the mood.––”

Give me that Dad, who are you talking to? Hello, who is this?”

“I’m Lisa Burton, the robot girl. I was just having a pleasant conversation with Patrick. Who are you?”

“I’m his son, Jonathan, I have to apologize about my dad, he’s not exactly right in the head…”

“I don’t know, he made total sense to me.”

“He’s got Alzheimer’s so that would be a first, him making sense. It’s pretty difficult for everyone, I mean …”

“Well, Jonathan, I would imagine it must be more difficult for your wonderful, father, wouldn’t you say?”

“I know, you’re right, it’s just that Colleen, she’s my sister who I hope will be back soon from a support group meeting she attends, she’s the one who is more involved with him so I’m not used to when he asks the same question over and over again. And the other day, he was at my wife’s and my house for dinner, and even though my wife told him what type of soup we were eating several times, it was squash soup, he kept forgetting. It was pretty embarrassing, I know that sounds harsh, but I’m just being honest.

“Oh, and the other day, Dad walked to a restaurant near his house to meet up with some Korean war buddies of his and he got lost and he forgot to put his house keys in his pocket. Colleen had put a Contact list of people in his wallet, you know, her and me, so the police were able to get in touch with someone who had keys to help him get home. We thought he was still able to live on his own without getting into trouble but Colleen and I are going to have to figure something out, and soon.”

“Jonathan, do you ever attend the support meetings?”

“I don’t really need that kind of crutch, and besides, anything I need to learn about my dad’s disease I can find on the internet.”

“How’s that working out for you?”

“I only go to websites I know are professional so I get all the correct information.”

“What I meant was, how’s that working for you, not getting support from people going through the same thing as you are? Maybe hearing how others handle stuff related to their loved one’s illness would be good for you. Sometimes the textbook answers aren’t as good as the real-life ones. Maybe the medical journals don’t adequately address the person inside the diseased body, how they feel, what they need from a personal perspective. I don’t know, I guess what I’m saying is it couldn’t hurt, right?”

“I’ll think about it…just a sec, my dad’s saying something.”

“Jonathan, what happened to that nice lady who called me. Did you find out what she wanted?”

“Dad, I’m just saying goodbye now. Sorry, Lisa, I have to go, and, uh, thanks for listening.”

“How about it, listeners. Have any of you ever had to care for a family member or friend with dementia? My author, Craig lost a grandparent to this horrible disease, and while he wasn’t the caregiver, it was hard on his entire family.

“You can learn more about Patrick, Colleen, and Jonathan in the novel, Requiem for the Status Quo, by Irene Frances Olson. I’ll post all the purchase links and other pertinents on the website.

“For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton. Please use those sharing buttons to help Irene spread the word. The book is available today for the first time, so I’m honored to be part of Irene’s and Patrick’s release day events.”


Family caregivers are oftentimes ruthlessly challenged by uninvolved family members who are quick to condemn, but reticent to offer assistance. Such is the case for Colleen Strand, a widow who recently found her own footing who takes on the task of caring for her father, Patrick Quinn, recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Her older brother, Jonathan, criticizes Colleen at every turn and verbally abuses the father when he has the gall to exhibit symptoms of his disease. In short, Jonathan travels down the road of denial, leaving Colleen to deal with all matters regarding their father’s care.

Connected tenuously to a father who barely remembers her and a brother who has become an enigma, Colleen faces the moving target that is Alzheimer’s disease, determined to clothe her father with the dignity he deserves, while struggling to squeeze every minute of time she can from him.


Purchase Links:

Amazon Barnes & Noble Black Rose Writing Books-A-Million Indiebound

Irene Frances Olson writes from passion and experience. She was her father’s caregiver during his struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, and would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Having previously worked in memory care, she was not new to the disease, nor was her family immune. Irene hopes to make a difference in the lives of others by writing novels that encourage and support those who just might need another person in their corner.


You can also find Irene on the following social media sites:

Author website

Twitter: @Boomer98053

Facebook: @RedmondWriter

Instagram: irenefrancesolson



Filed under Lisa Burton Radio