Tag Archives: characters

The Idea Mill #30

It’s been a long time since I trotted out an Idea Mill post here. Honestly, the feeds I got weren’t that awe inspiring lately. I also got busy with my own writing projects.

I checked my folder, and some of the things I earmarked really weren’t up to snuff, so I went looking.

All authors need inspiration. I get mine everywhere, but I use push feeds to send me news of things that are more my style than what the Kardashians might be up to. When I get a few decent ones, I assemble them into one of these posts. The hope is that one might inspire your next bit of fiction, or enhance something you’re already working on.

Let’s start off with Congress and the Military. You could write any number of horror stories just on those two words, but I found an article. A bill apparently moved from a sub-committee toward the floor of the House that would split the United States Air Force in two. The Air Force would remain, and the new group would be called The Space Corp. It hasn’t happened yet, but the fact they are discussing it lends all kinds of swagger to all those space military stories out there. You can read more here. The military hasn’t done this since the Army Air Corp was turned into the Air Force in the first place.

Let’s throw in the job announcement at NASA too. The one for Planetary Protection Officer.

The timing is ripe for one of those ground floor kind of stories. Maybe set the stage with top secret information that something is out there, and we need protection from it. Then introduce your first group of cadets and start outlining. Can’t find a threat? Let’s give honorable mention to this flying bat-monster over Chicago.

This is a well worn trail, and we all know it. Today, you have a point for some research to add a degree of realism to the piece you create.

Our next story is about unsolved languages. Apparently Facebook’s robots created a language of their own to interact with each other. The punchline is that we don’t know what they’re saying to each other. That could be a story all on its own, but a researcher brought us this cool article about Researching Lost Languages.

To me, this article has more interest than the Facebook news. Robots with a secret language is another well worn trail. There are all kinds of ancient languages out there that we’ve never been able to crack. Without the Rosetta Stone, we may not have cracked hieroglyphics. Other ancient languages don’t have a handy Rosetta Stone lying around. There is even a wonderful Nazi tie in that adds a veil of evil to the whole thing.

An ancient language researcher would make a neat character. It has shades of Dan Brown and Indiana Jones all at once, particularly with the Nazi tie. Maybe we wind up cracking one of these languages, and find out something that we really don’t want to know.

The last one involves a revelation that blood from young animals can slow down the aging process in older animals of the same type. This all started with dental research in the 1950s. Dentists are evil enough to make decent bad guys. Ever seen Marathon Man? It even had a Nazi tie in.

The research led to sewing lab rats together, and intentionally wounding the older of the pair. An unstitched rat was given the same wound. The one with access to young blood healed faster and better. There is even more potential in this research because the article delves into modern stem cell potential. To get more information, read the darned article.

I think I’m going to borrow from this one myself. I still have that Grinders novel I want to get to, and it fits right in. This could fuel any number of mad science type stories. It lends credence to some kind of Lady Bathory tales too. Need a modern day Fountain of Youth, maybe you just found it.

Just for fun, I try to come up with a corny story that uses all these elements. That young-blood story is going to be rough, but I’ll try.

The Men in Black captured a flying bat monster over Chicago. (Extra credit for using him) They tried to communicate with him, but couldn’t understand him until they found a researcher into ancient languages.

The researcher discovered he was speaking one of the ancient languages, but he needed time to interpret it. In the mean time, the Space Corp is formed and the first volunteers join up.

Eventually, the threat is revealed. Bat Monster is a spy, and the researcher recovers his communication kit. This allows eavesdropping on the invaders.

Our Space Cadets, (I hope they call them Space Cadets) ship out. They are going a long ways, so they have to be in suspended animation. Part of the process involves the Cadets donating their own blood as part of their revival process. The blood of eighteen year old Cadets will help reanimate the thirty year old soldiers when they arrive. Then, of course, they have to battle the hideous bat monsters.

How’d I do? More importantly, what will you do? Did you find a useful story element here? Maybe an entire plot?

29 Comments

Filed under The Idea Mill

What’s in a name?

Naming fictional characters is fun, and a pain at the same time. Writing short fiction can really burn through names, but there are times I don't use them at all. In The Enhanced League, I'm having to come up with a lot of names.

I've used the Major League Baseball rosters for names in the past, but had to look elsewhere for names in these tales, because they are baseball stories. I never use someone's whole name, but sometimes a ball player's last name works for me.

The fact is that I'm parked on a great source for names, and can't use them. These are family members, and even if they've passed on, their children haven't. Some of these names have a lot of character, and that helps in fiction. (Some of the actual people were quite the characters themselves.)

Check some of these out. I'll drop the last name where appropriate, because it doesn't matter anyway.

Price David XXX was my grandfather. He went by Turk his entire life. (No Turkish blood in the family) Without ever knowing the man, there is some character already there.

My other grandfather was Hiram Sterling XXX. He went by Sterling.

I have a cousin named Tyna. It isn't pronounced Teena either. It catches the eye, and is interesting.

Gwladys was my grandmother. She Americanized it to Gladys after she immigrated here from Wales. Interesting side note, she came here on the Carpathia the year before it rescued survivors of the Titanic Disaster. Americanizing your name is interesting without writing a single word being written.

Ralph Edward XXX was a great uncle. He was the first born in a large family. Someone early on called him the little chap. He was Uncle Chappie his entire life. It's interesting.

Leonard Byron XXX went by Snuffy.

How about some of these; Charles Wellington XXX, Fred Niemeyer XXX, Thomas Harrington XXX, Walter Eddison XXX. They just have a nice ring to them. Walter Eddison was a polio survivor and one of the greatest characters I've ever known. He did like so many others, and named his firstborn after himself, but Junior was never used. He's always been Little Ed, and still is at about sixty odd years old.

Speaking of Uncle Ed, many folks in my family go by their middle names. Aside from my grandfather, Stella Phyllis XXX, Price Douglas XXX. I think going by the middle name also is intriguing. It might not be first page stuff, but it makes fictional characters interesting.

A similar relative was Clarence Lee XXX, he went by Sonny.

My other grandmother was Thelma Irene XXX. That just sounds so 1920s to me. It's an old name that gets no love these days. She was quite the character herself.

How about a great aunt named Coila Leona XXX. She went by Coila, and I've never heard the name before or since.

I'll throw in a family friend too. Her name was Agatha, only she didn't pronounce it like you might think. She insisted on Ah-gay-tha.

There you have it. A great list of names that are off limits to me. In a fictional setting, not every character can be a hero, and even heroes need flaws. Someone, somewhere, would complain that I painted their mother, brother, dad, etc. in a bad light. They might believe I thought poorly of those people, and I loved them to be honest. So these names are on my no-fly-list.

You can use them, I just can't. If you want a vampire named Thelma, or an axe murderer named Chappie, have at it.

I think it's interesting when people go by their middle name. I also think it's interesting when people go by nicknames. Without writing a single word, there is a tidbit of something in the character. It's interesting when people Americanize their name too.

On a personal note, this was an interesting exercise for me. Apparently I come from a long line of characters, and some of them were pretty over the top. Think about it, my grandparents were Turk, Thelma, Gladys, and Sterling.

So how about it you guys? Do you consider family names off limits? Do you think names are intriguing? Does the nuance of a name help when you write a character? What's your favorite source of fictional names? Do you like name generators? Talk to me.

55 Comments

Filed under Writing

Amie in Africa visits Lisa Burton Radio

Today is Thursday, and that means it's time for another edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I'm your host, Lisa the robot girl, and my very special guest today is Amie Fish. “Welcome to the show, Amie.”

“I’m really pleased to be on the show Lisa thank you for asking me.”

“So what possesses a newlywed to uproot and move half-way around the world to darkest Africa?”

“I didn’t have a choice, Lisa. My newly married husband was offered a job in Togodo and it was expected that I go with him. I wasn’t looking forward to it, not one little bit. I had a good job in a local television production company and my family lived in the same town. I was quite happy as I was.”

“My bio says you got a little bored, and went to work using your journalism skills for an Army Colonel. What kind of reporting did you do?”

“Let’s backtrack a bit here. I was most certainly not bored. There was plenty going on at the Expats club, and I helped out at a local orphanage as well. And then we went to stay at a game lodge and the owner there taught us so much about the wild life and how the Bushman survived, and the wild plants you could eat and where to find water. It was all so fascinating. I think it was then that I fell in love with Africa.”

“Well it does say here you were blackmailed? Tell us about the blackmail. “

“This colonel just pitched up at my door one morning and asked me to film some projects for him. I didn’t want to, in Africa you steer clear of getting involved in anything with the authorities. But he hinted that Jonathon, my husband, would not be allowed to work and … well, as you can see I felt I had no choice. And the awful part about it – these projects were pure propaganda, there was no truth in any of the projects he asked me to show about their work uplifting the local community. Then, to make matters even worse I was asked to film the result of an ambush, and that was just awful. I did it twice and then made a firm decision not to do any more for him, no matter what the consequences were.”

“Good for you, standing up for what you believe in. What led to you take this stand?”

“It’s dangerous getting involved with politics when you’re a guest in a country, and by then I had fostered a child and I didn’t want any harm to come to her. I was hoping that maybe I could even possibly adopt her?”

“So what did you do?”

“Before I had a chance to refuse to work for the colonel again, the civil war broke out and I was flung in prison. I’ve never been so scared in my life. I managed to escape but the only way I could get to safety was to walk to the neighbouring country. I then had to remember everything I had learned about surviving in the wild.”

“It all sounds exciting, and dangerous. What did you–“

“Sorry, Lisa, I just can't. It's time for me to take another stand. That Clarke woman put me through hell… I can’t begin to list the things – torture, prison, a firing squad, escaping lions, more than once. You know she may have lived in Africa for decades, but I don’t think she had to endure the horrors she put me through. She’s now writing book four and I have to put a stop to it. And did I mention how many people she kills off just by tapping a few keys on her laptop? So now I’m seeking an injunction to keep Lucinda E Clarke from writing any more Amie stories, enough is enough.”

“I get it. Fictional characters have it tough. I got shot, electrocuted, and lost a couple of friends, as in dead, in the course of my story.”

“Well I'm not going to take it any longer. I’m looking into crowd funding, I’m mentioning it in the blogs and newsletters and I’ve already got a high end lawyer in London to serve her a warning. This interview is a great chance to get as much support as I can. There must be thousands of other fictional characters out there who are prepared to stand up to their authors, this is just the beginning of the revolution.”

“Amie, I think this might be a first. A fictional character suing her author. It looks like we have a caller. Hello, caller, you're on the air with Lisa and Amie.”

“Good morning Lisa, I’m Lucinda E Clarke, and I’d like you to terminate this interview immediately. It’s grossly inaccurate.”

“I have only spoken the truth, you did throw me in prison, you deliberately let me poison myself, you left me defenseless and alone.”

“You’re still alive aren’t you? I got you out of it all–“

“You didn’t have to put me in those situations in the first place. When you started writing about me I thought the books about me were going to be cosy and romantic and having babies and–“

“I gave you a more exciting life than that!”

“Oh sure you did, but you never consulted me did you? Well you’ve gone too far this time, especially the shock at the beginning of book 3 that was the final straw.”

“You had a new career waiting for you–“

“Yes, one I didn’t ask for and one I hate.”

“It’s obvious you are not going to listen to reason – while you are busy suing me, I can see that I have a radio show to counter sue and I shall have a restraining and gagging order on you.”

<click>

What a controversy. Thank you for agreeing to be on the show, Amie. Listeners who want to learn more about Amie's plight can pick up the ‘Amie in Africa’ series. I'll include all the links on the website.”

“Well thank you for listening to me Lisa, at least there is one person who understands. Lucinda doesn’t care, it’s just good to have one shoulder to cry on, even if you are a robot.”

“So how about it, listeners? Which side of this controversy are you on? Should authors go easier on their characters, or should the characters just buck-up and take it? Let's hear it in the comments.

“And don't forget to use those sharing buttons. I know Amie and Lucinda would appreciate it, and you will too when your character is on a future edition of Lisa Burton Radio. Have a great day everyone.”

***

Purchase Links:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LWFIO5K

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015CI29O4

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M67NRG4

Lucinda E. Clarke Bio:

Abandoned in the African bush with a 9 week old baby and no resources Lucinda could look back on a childhood of mental abuse, without knowing that before her lay an even more bizarre future. She would run the worst riding school in the world, broadcast live with a bayonet at her throat, be fired from her teaching position and thrown into the media world. She would learn how to lie in the name of propaganda, write about dozens of topics for a variety of clients and have her own newspaper column. She would meet kings and statesmen, international artists and rural Africans. She would win several awards along the way for her scripting and films. Eventually she would reluctantly leave Africa to retire in Spain. A few months later she would begin writing books – six to date in a variety of genres – and start a whole new career.

Follow Lucinda at the following locations:

Blog Amazon UK Goodreads Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Twitter YouTube Facebook

 

50 Comments

Filed under Lisa Burton Radio

News and vignette

I got up late today and procrastinated with various forms of social media. I always flip through them before starting a writing day, but I lingered long enough to know I was goofing off. I still managed about 2800 words of The Yak Guy Project.

Yak Guy is the one where I’m trying to use the Major Arcana of the tarot as my story structure. I’ve had to meld some characters, and take a few out of order. Several things go on at once, and it doesn’t make sense to take them one at a time. For instance, the Empress character is also one of The Lovers. This overlaps the training of the Heirophont. I already had some of The Lovers, so I kind of moved faster on this section. It’s time for Strength, The Hermit, and the Wheel of Fortune. I may take some of these out of order, because it makes more sense to my story. I kind of want The Hanged Man before the Wheel. Right now I need to dwell on it some.

In other news, I woke up with a character and setting again. I don’t particularly want to dwell on her for weeks, and sometimes writing a vignette will get them out of my head. Here goes nothing, and remember I’m free writing this one:

Barbi Baronski awoke with a ringing in her ears. It was dark and dusty, and every muscle in her body ached. She stretched and her hands touched concrete overhead.

She’d driven into the city to model a new line of fitness wear, but couldn’t remember if she was going to the shoot or driving home. Daylight was visible if she looked along the ground above her head. She tried to rollover and crawl, but it was too tight in here. She slid along on her back using a kind of frog kick with her legs.

The ringing faded a bit, and Siri’s voice asked, “What can I help you with? What can I help you… What can I… What?, What?, What?…” Barbi kept sliding. Her back became a slow motion road rash of cuts and dirt.

Fresh air seemed like a wonderful thought, but it was dust, smoke, and grime. The sky above was brilliant blue, but there were no contrails, birds, or even trees. She pulled herself out of the rubble and sat upright.

The remains of her tattered top fell on her lap. Her $200 jeans were mostly threads, but clung together by some miracle. The entire world was silent except for the ringing in her ears. She covered herself with her right arm and stood up tentatively. There was nobody around. The place looked like a gravel pit, except for a twisted streetlight that snaked through the rubble.

She always drove home on 76, and thought she recognized some of its outline. Thank God her trainers survived. She walked for miles through the rubble. Pieces of automobiles dotted the landscape, and tiny bits of building foundations started appearing. The farther she walked, the more the rubble started to look like something. She stopped covering herself, because nobody was around at all.

By mid afternoon, her stomach reminded her that she was starving. She spotted a few walls and veered off her path to investigate. It turned out to be a family restaurant of some kind. A shard of mirror showed her that nearly six inches of her brunette hair had been singed away. A copper pipe produced a small blue flame at the end. The gas lines were still on out here.

She dug through the rubble and found a single can of refried beans, a tiny frying pan, and a bent chef’s knife. She used the heel of the knife to chop the can open enough to get it in the pan, then held it over the open flame until it smelled edible.

She kicked through the rubble and turned over a small table. A piece of concrete served as a chair. She managed to bend the tines of an old fork into a relatively useful position and ate in silence. Hardly health food, but it was food and that’s all that mattered now.

Across from her on a piece of remaining wall were three huge frames. Two were missing everything, but the third one appeared to be the dinner menu. It read:

  • Meatloaf $6
  • Prime Rib $13
  • Rack of Ribs $11
  • Sides…

The rest was torn away and it appeared to be cloth of some kind. Threads dangled in the breeze. She finished her beans, and used the bent knife to cut away most of her fancy jeans. $200 custom cutoffs? She split the pants legs and used some electrical wire to make them into a purse of sorts. She placed the pan and the old fork inside.

 

A rock smashed the remaining glass from the menu and she removed the cloth, cut a hole for her head and used more wire to stitch the sides closed. She looked down at her new shirt which now read:

 

Prime

Rack

 

Barbi tucked the bent knife into her belt and headed into the setting sun. Home was important, but if it wasn’t there any longer, she would head west until she found a new place to call home.

 

***

I have no idea what caused the disaster, aliens, war, the refried bean festival. I also have no intention of finishing Barbi’s story, but something may come to me in the future. These vignettes are a way of retiring some of the ideas I get. Sometimes it works, and sometimes I have to revisit them even years later.

There was more too it, like a dried up river, and talking to a snake. The snake represented an ancient survivor, and Barbi drew a parallel to herself as a survivor. I figured the post was long enough, and maybe Barbi could go on her adventure without me.

How about it you writers? Do you ever wake up having been visited by the muse? Do you make notes, forget about it, start another project? I can’t write all of mine. Barbi could be a good character, she’s obviously strong. Maybe she can be a side character one day, or maybe her story will come to me later.

It appears my muse is getting back into shape. Back to the paycheck job tomorrow.

27 Comments

Filed under Short Stories & Vignettes, Writing

Geocaching with a side of murder

Regular readers will recognize D. S. Nelson, who’s been here many times before. She’s the author of the Blake Hetherington mysteries, which is a series of cozy mysteries. I’ve read a couple of these, and thoroughly enjoyed them. I think you will too. DS is having coffee with Delilah, one of her characters in this scene.

‘Geocaching is treasure-hunting for the cool.’ Delilah said, scraping the last of her breakfast onto her fork.

We were sitting in the Food Shangri La Cafe. I was nursing a cup of chicory coffee, not sure if I was enjoying it our not. Without caffeine, Delilah’s rapid conversation can be hard to keep up with.

‘And if I’m not a geocacher I’m a muggle, is that right?’ I replied.

‘Right,’ Delilah said eating the last of her Eggs Shangri La and reaching down beside her chair to rummage in her bag.

The eggs did look good. I was about to order some myself but before I could catch Carla Osman’s eye, Delilah pushed a leaflet across the table towards me.

‘Here. This’ll tell you the basics,’ she tapped at it and I looked down at the leaflet: ‘A Guide To Geocaching In Tuesbury’.

 

She tutted at me. ‘You’d think as Blake’s amanuensis you’d know more about this stuff DS!’

‘Blake keeps me pretty busy,’ I was irritated. ‘I’m on my way to the library to get some books out, but you called and wanted to meet for coffee.’

‘No need to get huffy,’ Delilah smirked at me, she knows how to wind me up. ‘This’ll save you some time, then. I better get back over the allotment. I want to check on my strawberries.’

Relinquishing a smile, I replied, ‘See ya later. Thanks for leaflet.’

‘You’re welcome. Thanks for breakfast.’

I rolled my eyes. I was picking up the bill again then.

The wind chimes jangled as Delilah left the cafe, unhooked her Jack Russell, Bertie’s lead from the peg outside and crossed the road to the allotments.

Delilah was great at keeping an investigation going when Blake got cold feet but boy could she be smug.

I took another sip of the bitter coffee, wincing at the taste.

‘Urgg’.

It was an involuntary noise that did not go unnoticed by the cafe proprietor. I busied myself reading the leaflet. There was a lot I still had to learn about geocaching. Delilah’s right, as Blake’s author it was high time I tried geocaching and Tuesbury would be the perfect place for treasure hunting.

To find out more about geocaching in Tuesbury and help the next Blake Hetherington mystery become a reality go to: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/a-deadly-orientation/

***

Bio: D S Nelson is a writer of murder, mystery and intrigue. She lives in a quixotic village in the South Downs, UK, surrounded by plenty of inspiration for her novels. Her introduction to murder came from Agatha Christie. Her inquisitive Miss Marple of St Mary Mead and very Belgian Poirot with his ‘little grey cells’, captured her imagination from a young age. With a passion for the crime genre, in particular detective fiction, D S Nelson’s writing includes cosy crime novels, novelettes and short stories. She is often inspired by the world around her, nature, history and of course people. She is currently working on the Blake Hetherington mystery series, the first six of which are now available on Kindle with novels in the series also available in paperback.

Amazon author page

Website

Twitter: @WriterDSNelson

Facebook: WriterDSNelson

Instagram: WriterDSNelson

Note from Craig: Delilah Delibes appeared on the very first ever episode of Lisa Burton Radio. Maybe you want to learn even more about her, and the books of D. S. Nelson.

Make sure you follow her links. We are doing a blog swap today I’m talking about the inspiration behind one of my short stories on her blog.

 

37 Comments

Filed under Writing

Wednesday efforts, robots, sirens, the works

I wanted to make it out to the writing cabin once more before going on vacation. The puppy saw to it that I got a good early start.

I found Lisa doing her nails in the front office. “What are you doing? I told you I was coming today.”

“I expected you later. I have a show to do tomorrow, and need to look my best.”

“It's a radio show.”

“I don't care. I do my best work when I feel confident. What's our plan today?”

“No plan, really. It's summertime, and I only want to keep the projects moving forward. I'll grab coffee and be in my office.”

I struggled with ideas for Halloween themed stories. For some reason, my Muse (Lorelei) hasn't been sending me much stuff along those lines. I finally gave up and started making a pass through The Yak Guy Project. I haven't done much with it, and wanted to get back in the swing. I need to completely rewrite one character to avoid him resembling the other characters. Anyway, my idea was to study the previous characters.

This story is based loosely around The Fool's Journey, from the major arcana of the tarot deck. The character I want to repair is the heirophont character. Yak Guy Ted (the fool) meets a lot of mentors along his journey. I have too many of them sounding like Miyagi.

It's probably poor planning, because at 50,000 words, there was no way I was going to get completely through it today. Then there was the idea of going on vacation for ten days.

I surrendered and went back to short stories. I wrote two of them. Word count came in at about 2700. They are too big to call micro-fiction, but too short for my determination of a short story at 5000. Whatever, I wrote 2700 new words, and one of them might deserve to be a little bit longer.

These are stories for my baseball project, called The Enhanced League. This is proving to be a challenge, because there is a lot of world building going on. Each story is supposed to stand alone, but support a longer book of short stories. This means my normal twist endings don't apply in every story. Like I said, a challenge. Actually writing them helps me with the clarity.

Does anyone out there still enjoy a tale with gobs of world building? They used to be pretty popular.

I looked up and stroked my beard. “Lisa, do you know where Wiki is hanging out these days?”

Lisa came into my office all in a flurry. “Don't even think about it. You remember how mad Lorelei got when you hung out with the Sirens.”

“It isn't like Lorelei's been around a lot lately. Probably hanging out at some Olympic beach party, or getting ready to go to the actual Olympics. Now answer my question.”

Lisa's eyelids fluttered ever so slightly as she checked the tracking data. “Wiki is hanging out at a coffee shop about thirty miles away.”

“Is she alone? She's more dangerous with her sisters.”

“She's alone, for now.”

“Pull the old Land Rover around. You can provide security.”

***

We found little hipster Wiki in the coffee shop hiding behind a huge mug and her iPad mini. She wore a long tee-shirt with a skull pattern over black leggings, with army boots. She had a cluster of colored string friendship bracelets on one arm, and two watches on the other. I have to admit, she looked adorable, but all of the Sirens do.

Wiki jumped up and squealed. “Hi you guys. What brings you here?”

“We're looking for you,” I said.

Lisa simply crossed her arms, lifted her chin, and said, “Wiki.”

I turned to Lisa, “Are the others nearby?”

“No.”

“Wiki, I want to do some baseball research. Stuff like bullpen carts, city populations, pitch velocity, left handed catchers, all kinds of stuff.”

“Easy- peasy.” She typed on her iPad and showed me an image of the Mr. Met bullpen cart. “This kind of stuff?”

“Exactly that kind of stuff. When did they quit using them?”

Wiki made a few more keyboard strokes. “Looks like the last one was a Harley Davidson with sidecar, in 1995.” She made a few more keystrokes. “Check out this kitty on one of those Roomba vacuum cleaners.” She wrinkled her nose in that adorable way she has.

Lisa slipped her hand inside her purse and stepped forward. “I don't think so.”

“Can't blame a girl for trying,” Wiki said.

I grabbed a large Americano while Lisa stood guard. Wiki found me stuff on PEDs, ways to throw the curveball, how domed stadiums can move the grass outside for natural sunlight, and much more. I thanked her, and she hugged me with Lisa looking on like a prison guard.

We left, and I waited until we pulled away from the curb, before asking Lisa, “Is your gun in that purse?”

“Yup, sure is. The Research Sirens are supposed to trap you in an endless research loop. They wreck careers on the cliffs of cute kitty videos.”

“But she's only one.”

“Right, but she's a Siren and knows how to flirt with you. Thank God I captured Libraria's and Consultia's cellphone data when they came to the cabin. Now I can track them. All three of them could be deadly.”

“You aren't going to tell Lorelei, are you?”

“Heck no. We're friends and all, but you're my employer. This is like confidential business data.”

***

There are several new followers at Entertaining Stories. This tale involves quite a few recurring characters, and it's easier to explain this way than with a simple asterisk and footnote.

Lorelei is an actual Greek Muse who sends me an endless stream of ideas. They aren't always what I'm looking for, and a Halloween idea or two would be appreciated.

Wiki is one of the Research Sirens. She is the youngest, and more internet based than her sisters. The sirens are dangerous, but one at a time they aren't quite so bad.

Libraria and Consultia are the other Research Sirens, and you can guess what their individual focus is. They are mentioned, but do not appear in this story.

Lisa is my robotic personal assistant, and the official spokesmodel for my writing career. For more of Lisa, come back tomorrow for another episode of Lisa Burton Radio. Apparently, she'll have cute nails, but I have no idea how you'll see them over the radio.

Special aside: Lisa is always looking for more characters to appear on Lisa Burton Radio. If you'd like one of your characters to appear, drop me a note.

***

The Enhanced League is going to be science fiction of the near future variety. It has no deadline and will be a collection of short stories and micro-fiction. I wrote one about the umpires, and another one called Banned in Salt Lake City today. SLC is known for doing this on occasion, most famously with Olivia Newton John's song, Physical. The stories need some work, but they exist now.

15 Comments

Filed under Muse, Writing

Let’s ramble shall we?

Wow, you slack off for a couple of days and the stats sure plummet around here. I don't believe the stats are as important as my sanity though, so it is what it is.

Still, blogging is good for me. It is a goal and it has some self imposed deadlines, and those can be positive things. Writing something on a regular basis has merit. I write my fiction in fits and starts. I can be very productive, and my methods probably won't work for everyone. Blogging requires me to write something at least five times per week.

Word metrics get a little bit stale as a topic, but they are part of who I am, and therefore, appropriate to the blog. I finished my short story today about Jason Fogg. It isn't great, and probably needs more polish than my normal short story, but I have faith in Jason.

This led me to thinking about characters. Jason fits into the superhero category. He isn't a hero, but let's use the word anyway. Lisa Burton could fit into that category too. I think it's important for them to have vulnerabilities. They have to be defeatable somehow.

Lisa has some charming flaws, like the idea that she believes she is a fashion icon, but sometimes gets it completely wrong. She's likely to wear one of her pinup outfits to a formal event, because she thinks it's cute. There are some serious flaws too, like her vulnerability to electric shock. She has a software conflict that can seize up her programming at times too.

Jason is a recovering addict, a kind of sex addict. He used his ability to turn into fog to become a peeping tom of sorts. He's married now and struggles to live that part of his life down. I like this better than some kind of internet addiction, because he has victims. I decided that he hates his job too. He knows too much about people, and it's made him a bit crass. I think he's relatable now. While nobody is going to respect someone who creeps on unsuspecting women, it felt more challenging than making him the standard private detective/drunk. There are a lot of people struggling with addictions of all kinds. Many of us hate our jobs, struggle with bills, fight with our spouses.

He also learned that fog is vulnerable to freezing in this story. I kind of like that. He's imperfect, he has a past, and now he has his own kryptonite. Like I said, the story needs some serious help, and I may never release it to anyone, but I'm glad I wrote it. I will polish it up, then figure out if it's worth sharing.

My superhero TV shows were on last night. It was kind of cool seeing John Wesley Shipp and Amanda Pays get a scene together on The Flash. They play small recurring roles on the show, but once upon a time, he was the Flash and she was Iris Allen. I still think their version of the show was better than the new one.

Then there is SHIELD. This was a two hour season finale that turned out really good. Evil was ultimately defeated, but it took a very personal sacrifice to make it happen. Of course it's a superhero type show, and they could return next year too. They sewed things up well, but left lots of teasers to tune in next fall.

I really enjoyed these episodes, but I decided I'm tired of something too. I'm kind of tired of characters who hold out their palms, and powerzzz. I admit to writing this myself, but I think I'll try a little bit harder from now on. Why do heroes and villains need to use their hands to call up earthquakes and such anyway? It looks good in film, and with CG animation we can even see the powerzzz. Does that relate to the written word?

Does this mean that I'm declaring it cliché? Maybe.

You all know the scenes I'm talking about. Maybe it's an attempt to show something isn't easy, or draining on the character. Their muscles flex, the arm vibrates, they grimace and sweat. I really don't know, but can I do something different? Characters with special abilities are a staple of speculative fiction. Everything from witches to supervillains can have mad powers. I've even seen vampires use their finger to glamorize someone under their control. What can I do differently? Barbara Eden and Elizabeth Montgomery never had that problem.

In other news, I worked on two more radio interviews today. These aren't completely new ones, but they have to go back and forth a few times. I feel good about hitting them back over the net.

I also got a new piece of Lisa Burton art. I ordered them four at a time, and shared the first one right away. I may hold this one back for a while. I can wait until the timing's right and come up with a story to go along with it.

One of the big benefits to me this year has been working with other talented and creative people. Sean is a great artist, and I believe his stock will rise over the next few years. I also get to collaborate with some great writers on the radio slots. I've learned a few things, and I've made some new friends too. Authors operate in solitude, and it's nice to get together on a project sometimes.

I'm stuck in a classroom again all day tomorrow. I may be a little slow responding to comments, but Lisa has a new episode of her radio show for you.

My parents are visiting this weekend, so I may not get a lot of chance for updates. Writing fiction won't be an option. It's good for me to socialize though, and I might pop in for an update.

How's that for a ramble?

57 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized