Tag Archives: curse

Ganbei! And more word count

I spent my morning writing again. This time, the ship made port. It was kind of fun having them slow down by reducing sail until it was gone completely. They also had to man the yard arms. This involves every available person going aloft and lining up across the yards. This was occasionally done in the age of sail, because when men are aloft they aren’t manning the guns. This is a foreign country after all.

The locals towed them in via a sequence of longboats, complete with drums.

Their mission here is to pose as their enemies, and accept delivery of a cargo the enemy already paid for. I still need to bring some tension to the fact that someone could blow the whole thing for them.

They explored the new city, and I had fun describing it. They saw people who resembled cormorant fishermen, but in my setting the birds used were replaced by diving reptiles who resemble flightless pelicans.

I worked to describe streets filled with vendors of every kind, including flowers and the scents that go along with flowers, food, and the like.

Serang gave a bamboo flute lesson to some street thugs, and only broke one nose… and a wrist. She also stole the thugs money to pay for the flute. Good news, this time she didn’t kill anyone.

We met Serang’s uncle who is the brewer of Huangjiu. (Think saki here, but more Chinese.) Serang is a big drinker, and now we know why. There were many cries of Ganbei, as the cups were drained.

We also learned of her sad story, and how her father was killed by the dragon turtle. (Who will not appear in this story beyond a giant parade puppet.) We also learned that she was once something called a temple maiden. This was before the Emperor decided to westernize and eliminated the temples.

The ship’s (witch) doctor sought the help of a traditional Asian doctor. This made me stop to explore all kinds of things. There isn’t a ton of detail available so I made most of it up. It’s a fantasy, I get to do that.

To distract from the idea that I had to make part of this up, I also researched maggot and leech therapy. That ought to make your skin crawl, but it actually serves a purpose in the real world.

I am using a bit of googling to come up with the foreign words. There are some minor modifications on my part, but the terms have real meaning. I’ve worked pretty hard to update my cheat page so I remain consistent from this point on.

I’m horrible about spelling some things, and foreign words won’t even pick up on my spell-checker. By getting them right on the cheat sheet, I can copy and paste for consistency. It isn’t like these words are used every page, so it’s pretty easy.

If all goes well tomorrow, I may get to have some fun with false teeth, money changers from this newly westernized world, and a recovery by the severely wounded first officer. I may have even found a use for the skin of the bay frogs from a week or two ago.

The story is fast approaching 60,000 words, and I should break that tomorrow. I’m having a terrible thought about all the various land wars that are breaking out, and how this could become a trilogy at some point. Scares me to even think about it, because I have some different stories to write already.

I’m calling it The Voyage of the Lanternfish. I’m considering dropping the first word to make it Voyage of the Lanternfish. What do you guys think?

Chime in here. Are you intrigued by fishing reptiles, bamboo flutes, maggot therapy, and temple maidens?

There are a few more hours until first pitch, and my curse is consistent. I watched the game last night, so of course the Diamondbacks lost. Maybe I should just write and check scores in the morning.


Filed under Writing

Hallo-WE-en features Will O’ the Wisp

Will O’ the Wisp
Will O’ the Wisp is a paranormal tale from C. S. Boyack. It involves a mildly handicapped girl facing a mysterious threat. The wisp has been killing off Patty Hall’s family for generations, and she’s next on the list. It is suitable for young adult readers. It’s a perfect Halloween read.

All stories involve some kind of research. I set this story in 1974, because I wanted Patty to use her wits, and display a bit of patience in revealing this story. Suspense is a great story technique, and having high speed internet would have spoiled some of the fun.

Keep reading here…


Filed under Writing

The Chicago Cubs, on Lisa Burton Radio

Welcome to another edition of Lisa Burton Radio, the show where we interview the characters that bring the stories to life. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl.

I work pretty hard to find stories to share with you, and I’ve been working on this one for a month. As most of you know by now, The Chicago Cubs won the World Series, breaking a curse that lasted 108 years. Unfortunately, Mr. Epstein is unavailable. I tried Chapman, Lester, Schwarber, and Montero to no avail.

This is an important story, so I kept at it and today my very special guest is Murphy, the billy goat. “Welcome to the show, Murphy.”


“Oh, for those of you listening out there, I downloaded a goat to English translation program, and Murphy is happy to be here.

“Your bio says you were the face of the Billy Goat Tavern, in Chicago, is that right?”


“Yes, that does make us somewhat alike. I’m a spokesmodel for Craig’s writing career. I’ve got to tell you, we both love baseball too. In fact, Craig is working on a collection of baseball short stories with a slight science fiction angle.”


“So as a major fan yourself it was disheartening to be thrown out of the stadium?

Baaah. Baaaaahhh.

“Okay, here. I brought you some lovely cans to chew on. So, you were at the actual 1945 World Seres at Wrigley, and they asked you to leave because of your odor?”


“And you’re sick of being blamed for everything.”


“Mr. Sianis took it hard. You and he were at the game, and he issued the curse. So it wasn’t your fault at all then. Can you elaborate?”

Baaah, baaaaaahhh.”

“So he thought they damaged the reputation of his business, and he issued the curse.”

Baaah. Baaaaahhhh, baaah.

“So you want our listeners to know the Cubs just sucked from 1909 to 1945, and you’re sick of being blamed for those years. There wasn’t even a curse in place.”


“People went crazy and started blaming you for everything. It was character assination on a grand scale.”


“Good thing you didn’t have a Twitter account back then. So you aren’t responsible for things like the Buckner Blunder, or the black cat at Shay Stadium?”


“Okay, okay. Have another can, look this one held creamed corn. So Buckner had on a Cubs batting glove when the blunder was made, but you didn’t put it there, and the cat was just a Mets fan. Got it, and now our listeners do too.”


“You’re welcome. So now that the curse is broken, what’s next for you?”


“Yeah, being a spokesmodel is a pretty good gig. I don’t know of anyone who might need a goat, but I think Geico did some work with a goat once.”


“No, I don’t know any authors who might need a goat spokesmodel. Craig has written a few goat characters, most recently in a short story in his second Experimental Notebook.”


“I’m so glad you liked it, I’ll make sure to tell him. Would you get consider going back into cursing?”


“Only if you can’t land another spokes gig, or a Hollywood film. I think your story is fascinating, and listeners of this show like magic and curses and things like that. Urban legends and mythology are really popular around here.”


“Well, yeah, you are, in a way. The idea is to milk that for all it’s worth. You’re already a legend, might as well cash in on it.”


“No, sorry, I don’t have contact information for Michael Bay, if I did we’d already be talking about a Lisa Burton movie, know what I mean?”


“You’re just going to have to do the legwork. A brave little goat in Hollywood, beating the streets.

“Thank you for visiting with us today, Murphy. For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton, and have a Happy Thanksgiving.”


Nobody wanted to take a chance on a Thanksgiving edition of Lisa Burton Radio, so she put together this conversation with Murphy.

If you’d like Lisa to interview your fictional character, drop her a line at Coldhand (dot) Boyack (at) gmail (dot) com. Just replace the parts in (parenthases) with the necessary symbol.

We’re also toying with the idea of making the show into “Dear Lisa” on occasion. She has several questions about her tattoos, and needs a couple more before we try this. It doesn’t have to be specifically about Lisa, but she does enjoy those. The contact information is the same as for the interviews.

Go Cubs, signed Murphy.


Filed under Lisa Burton Radio

The Idea Mill #21

It's about time for a trip to the old Idea Mill. This is a regular feature of my blog where I discuss ideas that come to me in the news.

I set up a bunch of push feeds and get news I might be interested in pushed my direction. When something clicks with me, I save the link until I have enough to make one of these posts.

The idea is that maybe it will pique your imagination too. Some of these ideas might make a great story element, others might fuel an entire novel.

Let's dive right into our first story.

We start with an outbreak in the American Midwest that's probably over by now. At the time of this article the body count is at eighteen. It involves a rare bacteria called Elizabethkingia.

This is what appeals to me. I really can't let go of a character named Elizabeth Kingia who turns out to be patient zero in a disaster story. She's a modern day Typhoid Mary who spreads a disease everywhere she goes. It wouldn't be hard to turn her into a supernatural character if that was your mindset. Maybe she's the daughter of the horseman, Pestilence.

I just love the name. I'm sorry about the real life situation, but this kind of thing lends a bit of realism to a plague story. This is a real bacteria. It's really called Elizabethkingia. It's really causing problems. You can read the article I saw here.

In this story, a mummified sailor was found floating on his yacht. It is believed he could have been dead for up to seven years. A genuine ghost ship in the modern era. Police say he split from his wife, and believe she died of cancer. He was last documented in 2009.

This kind of story can lend some real authority to any ghost ship story. There are any number of Flying Dutchman type stories, and this story gives them legs.

When I think about this story, the sailor isn't the problem. What killed him is the problem. You could put him on a spaceship, a train, or whatever you want. I see him as the opening scene in the story though. Read the article, with a picture, here.

Finally we have curses. I was first exposed to this in a television show called Rome. Curses were scratched out on sheets of lead. In this case, they had to get to the underworld, and they were placed in someone's grave. I suppose this made whoever's grave it was into some kind of afterlife messenger.

This television show caused me to research until I found the prayer/curse stones I used in Panama. Counterclockwise for a curse, clockwise for a prayer.

The story is that someone didn't like a barkeep and his wife very much. Here is the translation:

“Cast your hate upon Phanagora and Demetrios and their tavern and their property and their possessions. I will bind my enemy Demetrios, and Phanagora, in blood and in ashes, with all the dead…”

“I will bind you in such a bind, Demetrios, as strong as is possible, and I will smite down a kynotos on [your] tongue.”

One of the things that appeals to me from the article is the idea of a professional curse writer. I can imagine that writing wasn't a common skill, and that sheets of lead weren't something easily procured either. This means a professional curse writer could probably charge a steep fee. I want to be a professional curse writer in my next life. Maybe this writing gig could be more profitable then. (Just joking… Not really, I want to be a professional curse writer.)

I can imagine a husband and wife working in a city. He is a professional curse writer, she sells counter curses, like the eye amulets or phallic symbols in previous Idea Mill posts. They might make fun main characters in a con job type story. Read the story yourself here.

These are fun, because there are recent news stories to support them. Part of the Idea Mill is me coming up with a corny story that incorporates all of the ideas. My goal is to spark your imagination.

Let's say Elizabeth Kingia is spreading a disease around … Let's use Southern Europe somewhere. A professional curse writer causes her so much trouble that she flees the country on a chartered boat.

Authorities in a new country find the boat run aground. The only person aboard is the mummified captain. There is no evidence of who his passenger was, or what cargo he was hauling.

Elizabeth Kingia is free to spread the plague to England, America, Australia, wherever you want to send her. You'll have to come up with some kind of hero to chase her down, but this is the root of a story. I would probably make my hero the professional curse writer and bring his wife along for color and backup.



Filed under The Idea Mill