Tag Archives: characters

Things authors worry about

I managed to write eleven unique posts to promote The Midnight Rambler. I wish I had a purchase link to insert, but I’ll have to wait a couple of weeks. I’d like a few more posts, but they’ll have to wait until I have a few spare moments.

I wrote a post about the music, keeping the setting consistent, and expanding this universe. I think it was pretty good stuff and those who follow the eventual tour shouldn’t be disappointed.

While hacking these out, something dawned on me. I came up with a cool new character and a way to introduce him. His role is to show there’s more going on around Lizzie and the hat than what they can see. I even figured out a great way to blame his actions on them and tie it to Night Bump Radio.

Then it occurred to me that he would be awesome at the final act of the Asian end of the world story I’ve been dreaming up for two years. This is the problem. In my schedule, the end of the world story comes before the one where I want to introduce him.

It would be cool to intro him, then see some problems he causes for Lizzie and the hat. Then he gets an important cameo in the Asian story. Don’t know how to solve this problem, but I have a couple of years to figure it out.

Back to work tomorrow, so my author hat has to come off for the week. Maybe something will come to me during the commutes.

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Filed under Blogging, Writing

Something new to share

The word metrics aren’t that impressive today. It came across at a little over 1900 words. Let’s face it, those 5000 word days don’t happen very often.

I’m mostly posting to share some new artwork. I’ve threatened to have Sean Harrington prepare some artwork for the Research Sirens for a long time. They seem to show up at the writing cabin frequently, so I’m going to use the group poster today. He actually sent each one individually as well if I ever want to use them.

***

I got to the writing cabin early this morning. Temperatures have gotten into the seventies recently, but at 5:30 it’s still pretty cold. Percy the Space Chimp was asleep on the couch, so I had coffee in the kitchen with Lisa Burton my PA and robot girl.

“People loved the poster of my tagger girl over at John Howell’s place this week,” she said.

“See, I thought it was a poster of Hellpox.”

“Let’s face it. I’m the spokesmodel, and it’s always about me to a degree. Besides, readers love my shining personality.”

“That’s true, you always seem to make more sales than I do on these tours.”

“Good to know with my performance review looming.”

Percy wobbled in still wearing his flight suit. “Are we finally going to work on something today?” He poured himself a steaming cup.

“Yeah, but these are hard sections for me. I have to deal with the fall out from your relationship with Buffer, then set up some character growth for you.”

“That’s all crap. Plop me in a star fighter and let’s blow some shit up. Readers like that.”

“They do, but they also like to see you change over the course of the story. You’re defensive about people’s prejudices toward Space Chimps, but you have your own prejudices as well.”

“That’s what makes me charming. Isn’t it enough that you ratted me and Buffer out? Can’t you leave me something of myself?”

“The goal is to have you become a better person amid all the spying and warfare around you. I’m also about to reveal a cool plot twist involving your favorite comic, Agent Golden Gibbon. I just need to decide how the real world part of that is going to come across, then save some for the second book. The guy’s going to need a name, and a description and I have to look some of that up.” We all headed for the writing office.

I froze at the sight. My office had been invaded by the Research Sirens.

Research Sirens

“You really shouldn’t make a move without digging into your new character a bit.” Libraria dropped her book bag on my desk then parked herself in my lounge chair.

“Ugh! Not these chicks again,” Percy moaned.

Wiki patted the side of her beanbag, wrinkling her nose at him in a kind of smile.

“I don’t think Buffer would approve.” He sat beside her anyway.

Conversia guided me to the couch, then sat uncomfortably close. “What kind of character do you have in mind?”

“I’m thinking he’ll use a pen name for his comic, because he’s kind of a spy. I want that to reflect in the name he uses.”

Wiki typed away at her iPad mini. “Thesaurus indicates something like Supermole would work.”

“I can use that as a place-marker, gives him a bit of personality already. Change it later if something better comes along. Supermole writes this comic, but it gives clues as to terrorist events that haven’t happened yet. Leo figures it all out, which gives him a nice spot to shine.”

“What kind of alien will he be?” Lisa asked

“I thought it might be fun to have him be an actual gibbon. I’ve already sold the idea that Space Chimps exist, so why not?”

The sound of nylon on nylon held everyone’s attention as Libraria crossed her long legs. She dropped a huge book on the table before me. “There is some argument, but there appear to be about twenty species of gibbon alive today. Once you read this, you’ll have a better idea of what you need. Once you finish it, I have another one about the fossil record.”

Conversia leaned in until her Afro tickled my ear. “I still hold there’s great value in oral stories. They give a wonderful flavor to the history of gibbons. We can fly to the South Pacific so you can see wild gibbons, then interview the elders who live there for some of their stories.”

Wiki wrinkled her nose then turned her screen to show me a video. “Gibbons are the fastest arboreal animals in the world. Even faster than some birds as they swing tree to tree.”

“I have to use some of that. It would be kind of an adventure to add a chase scene that doesn’t involve cars. Maybe Percy here could swing after him.”

“Are you crazy, dude? I can’t keep up with that.”

“Keep it in mind. Maybe you can drive him to the Cicis for capture later on. First I need to decide how much of a role to give him.”

“I think he would be one of the good guys. Leo and I love Agent Golden Gibbon, and it would be fun to meet the creator.”

“All good ideas.” Conversia wrapped her toned arm around my shoulder. Her perfect manicure tapping over my heart. “I figure no more than six months in the jungle and you’ll have all the gibbon knowledge you need. I can use my recorder for the stories, then you can have Lisa make transcripts once we return home.”

“Look, girls. I appreciate the zest, but I only write fiction. I have to live in the real world, and they’re going to miss me at work if I leave for six months. I have to make some of this up as I go. Besides, Old What’s Her Face wouldn’t like me spending six months in a grass hut with three Sirens and a robot girl.”

“We’re harmless, mostly.” Conversia pressed her bosom into my side.

“You should still ground the story in reality,” Libraria cautioned.

“Okay, how do you feel about a trip to the Boise Zoo. Best I can do. They even have ice cream.”

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Filed under Muse, Writing

Long Weekend

Like most of you, I had a long weekend. Old What’s Her Face had to work, so I wound up left to my own devices.

At one time, I talked about making sauerkraut again. She bought me some from the store. It isn’t the same concept, because I wanted to make it. It still made for a tasty supper with a Polska kielbasa. Might have to break down and make some anyway.

I worked on edits, and sent something to my crit group. They were all off this weekend, too. I never expected a rapid turn around, and I hope everyone had a good time. Since publication target is late winter, there is plenty of time.

That left me with my side project. I’ve gone over the first few chapters more than any others I’ve ever written. Right now, I’m pretty happy with them. I’m introducing main characters in two different locations, but they finally managed to come together before the weekend came to a close. We entered space, traveled across part of the galaxy, and committed an unintended murder. Now one of the characters has to run, and it’s reason enough for everyone to wind up on the same ship.

I’m going with five main characters since this is likely going to be a trilogy. Five, or thirty, main characters, depending on how you count the clones. It’s complicated. (You guys know how my imagination comes into play.)

As I get acquainted with the characters, some personalities are starting to develop. There have been a few crass remarks flung around. This might sound strange, but I always have an idea of who they are, but as they interact on the page it develops more than I roughed out.

I managed a pretty good bit of emasculating dialog. I kind of like how it came out. Former lovers are something I’ve never written before.

All told, I probably added about 7000 new words to it. Can’t keep calling it “It,” but I don’t have a title yet.

The Muse is torturing me with this future story for Lizzie and the hat. I like to plan ahead, but this one is about five down the line. Seems a bit excessive, but I can’t seem to stop her once she starts inspiring. It involves a twist on some Asian mythos. Things like the afterlife, spirits, and reincarnation. I already have a list of magical artifacts and creatures going. I dedicated some time to research because it’s so interesting. I already have a few humorous things in mind, so that’s positive.

Outside of that, I have Asian pears running out my ears. I’ve been eating them all weekend. They keep pretty well, so I may have to claim part of the vegetable crisper. For now, I’m leaving them on the tree. Works for now, but isn’t a long term solution.

That’s about it. It’s time for supper, and some more Asian pears. Hope all of you enjoyed your weekend, too.

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A bit of writing work today

Today wasn’t intended for new words. I had some writing messes to clean up, so that was my big goal.

First, I’ve had critique samples for Lunar Boogie for a week. While there weren’t any huge changes to make, there were a lot of small things. I find it too hard to focus on weeknights, so today I took up the challenge.

I also needed to get another submission ready for my group. I bounce back and forth, so this time they get to see Lanternfish. I worked on the next chapter for about an hour, including checking with an online editing program before sending it out. It’s out, so I’ll get to learn if my married cons still have what it takes to carry a chapter.

Only after taking care of all that, did I turn my attention back to Lunar Boogie. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I had some issues with the ending of the story.

As a recap, I wanted to end this one on a down note which provided for a bit of character growth for Lizzie in the next book. I wound up ending it on a major bummer and wasn’t happy with it.

Last weekend, I added a scene and it kind of helped, but still wasn’t what I needed. Remember, these are partially comical in nature, so they really can’t end on sour note.

Today, I threw caution to the wind and added a bunch of material I was saving for the opening of Good Liniment, the next book in the series. It wound up requiring a chapter break which caused the last two chapters to be short ones.

This required me to research crystal therapy and come up with a name for a pot shop. All in a day’s work, right?

I hate to sacrifice some of the stuff from the next book, but think it probably works better here. Basically, Lizzie’s parents made an appearance earlier in the book via FaceTime. At the end, Lizzie goes to California to spend some time with them. Alone, without the hat.

As far as what I included, Lizzie spent this time with her mom, and she is a genuine C. S. Boyack character. I will have to come up with some additional material for Good Liniment, but I can handle that. I can also have Lizzie spend some time with her father who is running for State Senate.

What I enjoyed is how Lizzie is an amalgamation of her mother and father. I never planned this and it just happened. This is one of the fun things that keeps me going as a writer. Lizzie is hard working like her father, but lives paycheck to paycheck as a musician and hangs out with some strange characters. She isn’t quite as stoic and dedicated as her dad, but isn’t as batshit crazy as her mom either.

Lizzie’s mom helps add a laugh or two after the bummer moment. I think moving the material to Lunar Boogie was the right move.

I need to turn my attentions back to Lanternfish. I left James on the high seas the instant before the opening volley of a huge sea battle.

I hope all of you have power and water by now. That you’re warm and safe. Drop me a line and let me know what’s going on.

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Naming characters

I kind of left you guys hanging. Work was busy this week, so when I got home in the evenings I was too tired to work on much.

This weekend is a self-imposed slow burn. I’m dabbling with reading Serang to make sure I can understand it before I share it with the world. I’ve also started reading a novel. I’m way behind on my reading and will try to remedy some of this over the next month.

I intend to do the edits on Serang, then work through The Viral Blues the same way without hitting it too hard.

Honestly, I’ve been working on fiction at an accelerated pace and feel the need for a slow stretch.

In order to keep this interesting, I want to talk about naming characters again. Older posts indicate I still have my daughter’s graduation program to pick from, and I frequently glance at the Major League Baseball rosters for the same reason.

One source I’ve wanted to use has kind of dried up. Phonebooks are a great roster of names. They’ve gotten hard to come by lately, so I decided to keep our local one this year.

All of the online directories do some amazing things. They do almost everything, except for what I need. You can’t just flip through names and check them out.

As an author, naming characters is important. We all know some common last names, like Smith or Jones, but not every character can have the common names.

This is the new Boise telephone directory, and it’s kind of amazing. This book used to be three inches thick, and came with a second volume that was about two inches. Things have changed.

Nobody has a land line anymore. Yellow Pages are no longer the advertising necessity they used to be. Abe demonstrates this pretty well. Keep in mind the white and yellow pages are included in this one book.

Sometimes you need a great name for a fictional business. Browsing the phone book can help here too. Maybe we come up with our own fictitious name, but it’s nice to get some inspiration from somewhere.

I’ve made two different trips to New Orleans and intended to get a telephone book each times. Both times I failed. I want this one because of the diversity. I’d like to get a swath of Cajun, Creole, American Indian, and French names to browse. It’s a big enough city to offer the diversity of many other cultures, but the regional names are a bonus.

Recently, I found a source that might be able to send me one. Fingers crossed. I’m counting on other people here so I might have to keep chipping away at it.

Until then, I still have my traditional sources, plus this Boise directory.

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It’s a brain purge

I woke up this morning with a new character in my head. I have to get rid of her, because I have too much going on right now.

The bulk of this summer is going to be gearing up to release two books before the end of the year, and I already have multiple characters waiting their turns.

The next project has to be The HMS Lanternfish, so after I get everything beat into shape I can work on it. There are several more stories in my mind for Lizzie and the the hat, too.

So here we have this girl who is ten years or less. In my dream, she was on a bicycle that looked like it came right out of the seventies. Banana seat, tall handlebars, maybe some bolt on extras. She was a daredevil of some kind. In my dream she jumped her bike over a UPS truck. I’m not so sure we had UPS in the 70s, so maybe she has a second-hand bike. That could build a bit of family relationship and background for her.

She made kind of a signature move that I can’t quite describe. Maybe one of you will know how. She pursed her lips, then moved her lips to the side. (Is there better language for that?) Then she squinted her eyes before launching herself down the ramp.

I don’t exactly know what kind of trouble she gets into, but I suspect space invaders were involved in a small town setting. Those darned alarm clocks spoil everything.

I’ve written children, girls, and period pieces before, so I’m up to the task. I just don’t have time for her antics right now. I’m hacking this out in hopes that she goes away. If she refuses, I might have to deal with her one day.

Old What’s Her Face and I are going to try to go camping over a long weekend. If I seem a little unresponsive, it’s because I don’t have wifi or cell service. I’ll catch up with everyone when I get home.

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While not camping

It’s 108 here right now. I’m watching the baseball game with a cold beer now. Found a little writing time this morning.

This section is about introducing the new cabin boy. He’s kind of subservient, but I want him to show his adventurous side a bit. Right now he’s interacting with the crew a bit, learning a few tasks, and he went through orientation. This involved listening to the root monsters tell their stories on the forecastle. (No, I didn’t make the reader suffer through them again on the page.)

Since this is a bit of character building, I had the captain show him how to load a flintlock pistol. I may have spent too long here, but that’s really what it’s like to load one of these things. Readers might find it interesting, but there were also some remarks about kids and fathers and some nice dialog to break up the task.

We’ve moved into the section that involves experimenting and mathematics. The first test was successful, but too small to be useful. The Captain needs to think bigger to see the real value here.

I’m going to pepper this section with some actual piracy on the high seas. This is to illustrate the success of the new process for my readers. That will likely start tomorrow morning.

For some reason, my transitions take me longer to write than the adventurous sections. It wasn’t a tremendous word count, but I’m at 93, 500 words now. It may be smaller, but it’s still progress.

This next section is to reveal what’s possible for my readers. Then I head into my big final phase of the story. This one might get finished this month with a bit of luck.

I also worked up the shtick for another Lisa Burton Radio show and got it sent out. Keep me in mind if you’d like a bit of free promotion. If you’re holding out for September to release your next book, planning an interview for then works out well.

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Did not expect that

I try to update every Wednesday, just so the world doesn’t forget about me. I know it’s Tuesday, but I discovered something tonight. If you need your Wednesday fix, I’ll be up over at Story Empire tomorrow.

One of my things is to cruise through Pinterest every night. My boards are all story related. I have some related to projects, some for characters, some in genre fiction that fits my style

I have one I call “girl art.” These help with characters, descriptions, outfits, etc. I save things there I might want to use for Lisa Burton outfits and more. Let’s face it, as a guy, I need a reference for outfits, hair, and such.

I did not think Pinterest allowed nudity, but I was wrong. Today my feed was full of nude women. You know the kind, lots of Photoshop and airbrush.

I must have pinned something for Lisa, and Pinterest thought “more like this” meant nudes. (Note: Lisa will never appear nude.)

I was so offended I stopped looking after a couple of hours. 🤪

Honestly, what I need are more old weathered faces. I pinned a few, but they don’t come up regularly. Some of them are so interesting, and would make great characters. I added a brief conversation with an old woman to my current project, and I mentioned her thickened eyelids, but I want a bit more. I need more of those old dry mudflat faces. I’ll have to revisit that scene in the editing phase now.

I pondered about a book of short stories a year ago, and they were all introduced by this ancient woman from the rocker on her front porch. I may revisit it one day, but it’s still in the idea phase. Think of this wizened elder serving in a Rod Serling capacity. Maybe add a corncob pipe, etc.

Maybe I’ll have to do a specific search for the kind of faces I’m looking for. Normally, pinning a few will keep them coming, but I may have to dive deeper on these.

My work week, and my weekend are looking like no new fiction will happen. I’m going to shoot for preparing a Lisa Burton Radio interview, and that might be my limit this week.

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A Tetris kind of day

I started out with good intentions of writing a bunch more words, but it didn’t work out that way.

Today was a day to spend with Lorelei the Muse. Here’s why.

A novel needs characters, a plot, setting, but it needs something else too. All those bits and pieces have to form a cohesive whole when you’re finished. It kind of reminds me of swishing all those blocks around to build the wall in Tetris.

I have characters, setting, and plot, it’s that other part that has me stymied today. Nobody wants to read a story where problems don’t have to be faced and eventually overcome. Deciding to pull the sword from the stone, then doing it makes for a pretty unsatisfying tale.

There is a plot sized problem, but I’m dealing with a section sized problem here.

My pirates are in the process of pulling off a big con game. I’ve spent some quality time fleshing out characters and setting, but they need some kind of larger adversity in this part. There is a lot of personal adversity, but the bigger part isn’t on the page.

I wound up with some ideas, and made steps in that direction. There has been a shadowy threat in this story all along, so why not use that again. It also gives me a chance to face a collection of the shadowy guys in the big ending of the story.

There are more things to accomplish in this part of the world, but I have plenty of time to weave some of this together… if I start now.

To that end, I put down about 1500 words. This really helps, because it makes a commitment I can build off of.

The good news is, I have a two day work week ahead of me. We took vacation time with the idea of going camping. We failed to make a reservation, and over the fourth, there isn’t likely to be even a bushwhacker’s site available. We may be staying home for a few days.

This gives me four long commutes with the Muse, and I can figure out a way to weave all the pieces together before sailing away to the next section.

It was a good writing weekend, and I have thousands of new words on the page. I have a vague idea of the section sized problem, and am looking forward to some vacation time to put it all together.

Hope all of you had a great weekend too.

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Airports, NOLA, Hacked

Yesterday was a flight day for me. I’m at a conference in New Orleans for my paycheck job. This is one of those weeks where I’m going to miss things. If you get a like from me, that might be as good as it gets. I’m here with all of my bosses, and my time is theirs.

I kind of like airports. They make for the best people watching. Everyone has a little bit of stress, and that helps reveal character. One example is the guy in Denver who decided to jump off the people mover. You know, those George Jetson things that are like a flat escalator. He vaulted over the rail, which also moves, fell down, and scattered electronic devices everywhere.

The best one was a lady. She had thick permed hair that hung to the points of her shoulders. Either from dye or the perm, it was burnt looking at the ends. She was notable in that her posture was to hold her head out in front of everything else. Her nose would arrive in a room before the rest of her. She was a dark brunette. The whole appearance gave her the image of a fluffy vulture. She would make a great character.

I met up with all the rest of the Idahoans before dinner. We went to a place that had a fried fish menu. Honestly, I could have gotten the same thing in Boise. My crowd needs to be a bit more adventurous. I can show them some places, but I’m at their mercy.

While in the Boise airport, I started reading Hacked, by Sue Coletta. I finished it in the air on my way to Denver.

This thing is an intense thrill ride, and it’s a good stepping stone into the kind of books Sue writes. It’s novella length, so it won’t take you long to finish it, and honestly, you won’t want to put it down.

I am starting to really love the novella length. I just think as we get more and more pressed for time, it has a place in our lives. Judging from the reaction to my own novella, some of you must feel the same way.

I’m pressed for time right now, so here is a link to Sue’s book. Hacked.

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