Tag Archives: Estivation

A little catching up

The blog tour ended some time ago. THE HAT is still selling in some degree. I did have a blank day, but only one. That seems to be the way of all my releases. They spike as my friends spread the word, then drop off. Still, those seventeen positive reviews might help me out a bit.

Before I get into my weekend plans, I’m going to suggest that not everyone is into the Superbowl. If you’re one of them, you could probably read THE HAT from start to finish before the game ends. The cover in the side bar is a link.

Today was my flex day, which gives me a three-day weekend. I spent today working on Lisa Burton Radio stuff and reading. It looks like tomorrow will be more of the same. That should clean up the interviews I have working, and finish the wonderful book I’ve been reading.

I am going to surf through some active storyboards at some point. I’ve gotten a lot of decent ideas from Lorelei, the Muse, lately. I want to leave a few sticky notes at minimum, and may do more than that on a couple of them.

If the stars line up, I may even add a chapter to ESTIVATION. This is the second novella I have planned and it is a suspense story with a science fiction background. I don’t feel rushed at all with this one. THE HAT is out there, THE YAK GUY PROJECT is a finished product playing a waiting game. I have all year to finish ESTIVATION, and like I said, it’s a novella.

I’d like to start stockpiling some more short stories, but I’m not exactly feeling it right now. There is a pretty good chance that I’ll dive into another novel after I finish it. This one is a pirate story, but it needs to spend act one not being a pirate story. This is because the main character has to spend some time trying to be his father before realizing that he’s not. He is his own person, and has a different skill-set that might solve the big problem. Right now, I’m debating whether this is a deal killer. You put a pirate ship on the cover and people expect some piracy right off the bat.

Lisa would look good as a pirate, wouldn’t she?

Something will come to me. It always does. Besides, I should do something more with THE HAT, and I should find something to do with THE ENHANCED LEAGUE. Pitchers and catchers report to camp in two weeks. Unless someone offers a cool suggestion this might amount to a free period around Spring Training somehow. It cracks me up how a 99ยข book gets ignored, but if you offer it for free – people scoop them up like M & Ms. I’ve gained reviews from free copies too. This is one of those places where I’m inclined to just accept it and go with it.

You guys remember THE ENHANCED LEAGUE, right? Any really good promotional ideas you can spout?

Lisa Burton

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My 2018 Business Plan

Like most years, I’m going to assume this will get lost in a sea of New Year’s Resolution posts. I’ve been pleasantly surprised in the past, so I’ll put it up today and see how it fares.

This year, my business plan is going to look a bit different. In the past it was all about taking on one more thing. Maybe that would be the thing that helped me really accomplish something. I always felt like if I worked just a bit harder, maybe it would be enough.

What I wound up doing was dedicating so much to those things that I had much less time for writing. I enjoy writing, and hate social media, so why did I go down that path? Previous business plans always included time for something new to test out. To be honest, Goodreads, Facebook, and Google Plus have all been a disappointment. Twitter still seems to provide some benefit, but not when compared to the time it requires. Facebook requires payment for anything to actually get seen now.

This year, I’m going to fall for yet another author philosophy. Most of these have a grain of truth to them, even though nothing seems to be the magic bullet. This one is: the best promotion an author can do is to release his next book.

I’m excited about 2018, because I have a head start. I have two complete books to release in the vault right now.

The Yak Guy ProjectThe oldest one is The Yak Guy Project. This is the novel I submitted to a publisher. If it isn’t picked up, I could release it around the end of winter. If it is picked up, there is still a chance it would be a 2018 release.

If a publisher wants it, the cover will probably change, but I can live with that. I can still use my Lisa Burton posters for promotion. The only thing remaining is to send it to my formatter, and that takes about a week.

Yak Guy is the one about a lazy young man who wakes up in an alternative world. He must learn many of the things he failed to learn in his previous life. He is helped along the way by a string of mentors and situation that are based upon the Major Arcana of the tarot.

The HatI’m also parked on The Hat. I’m excited about this one. I really enjoyed crafting these characters and having them interact with each other. This one will come out some time in January, and it’s already back from the formatter. I really like the Lisa Burton posters for this one too. Something new for me is the idea that Lizzie and the hat have more stories to tell, and could show up again one day.

The Hat is about a hard working young woman who’s dealing with some bad breaks. She comes across an old hat that is actually a being from another dimension. Together they form a symbiosis that allows them to accomplish more than either of them could do alone. Like I said, I’m really excited about the characters in this one. It gets pretty crazy and I think you guys will like it.

During my vacation, I only got two short windows to work on Estivation. I’m about ten percent of the way into it. My intention is to have this also be a novella, but I can’t be certain until I finish it. I’ve adopted the idea that stories will be as long as they need to be.

This means, if I manage to write about 30,000 new words of fiction this year, I will have three books release in 2018. I’m pretty sure I can manage that and more.

Releasing a book is also work, I might add. I’ll need to pre-write at least thirty blog tour posts to release three books. I have a living document with topics, and can reuse the topics for each book. There is also monitoring of those posts and all that goes with it.

If luck holds out, I will have ample time to write Macabre Macaroni stories for October, and may even manage a few short stories. Enough short stories could lead to a third Experimental Notebook, maybe for 2019. I’d also like to start on another novel length work.

In order to do this, some things have to go. The Entertaining Stories blog has always been ground zero for my writing career, and I’m going to keep it that way. I also want to dedicate myself to making Story Empire even bigger and more valuable to our followers over there.

Entertaining Stories feeds into all the popular social media sites, so I’ll have a presence on them. I get Facebook alerts, so that helps to a degree. (Even though most of them are from Facebook reaching for my wallet.) My blog even feeds into Goodreads and my Amazon author page.

I’ve never been hard to find, and the blog is a pretty easy way to reach me. However, I can still be found on the other places too. I just won’t monitor those as closely as the past.

Giving up some of the social media time means taking time for more of what I enjoy. I have some favorite authors I haven’t read in years. I want to remedy that in 2018.

I’ve always been a sporadic blogger, and that isn’t likely to change. I tend to land about five posts per week, occasionally more or less. I also have to keep to my Story Empire schedule.

I should also have more time to dedicate to invitations. I try to provide whatever a host asks for, but it got difficult last year. I want to enjoy any guest appearances or mutual promos we manage to come up with.

Lisa Burton Radio is still a blast for me, and it seems to be well received every week. I’ll stick with Thursdays for Lisa’s show. She is about due for another wave of guests as I type this. Keep this promo opportunity in mind if you’re doing a blog tour or just want to reach a new audience. I enjoy working with all the talented people on these, so there is something in it for me too.

And that’s it for my 2018 goals. They should be easy to reach. They should allow me more freedom to accept what comes my way. They should also be a lot more fun.

So welcome, 2018. We’re excited to have you. Lisa even says you can borrow her shoes.

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Trying to get something done

I’ve had a lot of time to myself, but not a ton of motivation. That isn’t quite right either, I desired to work on some writing related projects, I just didn’t feel like it. Today seemed like a day to accomplish a bit more.

My daughter happened to be home again today. This means she talks my ear off. I’m pretty patient about such things, because I know there will come a time when she has better things to do. For the last three days, I’ve learned how to load a pit on an airplane, how bags get broken by falling off the conveyor belt, how some people try to sneak pets on the plane without paying for them, etc. Today I learned all about the color wheel and how to apply eye makeup. At some point my ears started to get tired.

After my makeup tutorial, I told her I needed some quiet time to get some things done. She decided today was a good time to run some errands downtown. It feels kind of mean, but she is an adult and I need my time too.

My partner and I went to work on projects.

I opened my art program and did what I could to decorate for Christmas on my blog. Could be better, could be worse. It was time to retire the time machines and move ahead. It may seem like a tiny effort, but I’m counting updating the site as an accomplishment.

My app added some cool new brushes to the mix. Now it does things like add falling snow with one swipe. There is even one for a corrugated tin wall. Don’t know how I’ll use those just yet, but they’re cool.

I finished up a small guest post I committed to and sent it off. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, but it’s all delivered.

I lengthened my manuscript out to the end of a short chapter one. Two thirds of my characters are on the page, they have a problem, and a dream for the future. What they don’t have is personality. The damned thing reads like deadpan facts. I need to work on it, and have a few physical hand brushes and such that can add something to their relationship. Rather than just grabbing a quick bite before they head for the shelter they could feed each other. Little flourishes, but I’ll work on it.

Chapter one ends with a scream, and chapter two will introduce my antagonist. (There are only three characters in the story, plus a few news reports and such.)

I’m going to claim daily blog updates as an accomplishment too.

I fiddled around with Pinterest, which is a great time waster. One of my folders is called Loose Collections, and it’s getting too big. There are some things I can break into their own folders, and should do that. I have a lot of classic cars, some pinup art, that kind of thing. I also need to revisit the board for Estivation. I’m writing it now, so there some inspiration and a few reminders are stored there. Moving things around is kind of a pain from what I can tell. First I have to make the new board, then re-pin everything I want in it, then delete the pin from Loose Collections. They really need a way to mass select and move the pins.

On the spinal front, I managed a tiny pop yesterday, and it felt a bit better. The pain has virtually gone from my left leg. I started waddling up and down the sidewalk out front. Just short stretches, multiple times. I feel like I need to move around.

Yesterday I was limping on two legs, today it’s just one. I didn’t feel like I was getting a full stride, if that makes any sense. I leaned against a post, and just swung my leg. It may have looked like a kick, but it was more of a dead-weight type thing. My back popped again. I felt even better.

Everything is improving at the speed of a glacier, but it is improving. I’m determined to go into the office tomorrow. It all depends on how hard it is to get out of bed, and get socks on my feet. I’ve been sleeping in a chair, and I’m trying the bed again tonight.

I already told my boss I would try. I also told her I might not last all day. That all depends upon how my desk chair treats me. It’s pretty hard, but it’s uber adjustable too. She has no problem with me staying home, but I’m dedicated.

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Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

“Digging in” for a new project

Company left early this morning. I had a quiet cup of coffee with no distractions. I didn’t even check email or anything else, just soaked up the calm. Sunrise here was beautiful, and I snapped a photo. It might not be creative, but would make a nice background for December. Then I opened my iPad and hacked out another one of the interviews and sent it out.

I arrived at the writing cabin in the late morning. Lisa wore one of her traditional pinup style outfits. She followed me into my office.

“Are you ready for this?” I asked.

“Not really, I mean, yes. Everything is physically ready, I just think it’s a bad idea.”

“It’ll be fun. We sequester ourselves inside the bunker for three months, just like the characters in Estivation will. That will really help me get the setting right, and the mood it has on them.” I headed out to the circular door atop the culvert in the front yard.

Lisa went first. “I’ll give you the tour.” At the bottom of the ladder, she threw a switch for the power. A tube of concrete and corrugated metal sprung to life around her. She led me into a concrete pod that served as living room, kitchen, and general gathering place. Different culverts led off the great room and served as bedrooms, a walk-in freezer, bath, and pantry.

“You did a great job on this. After the weekend I’ve had, some peace and quiet is just what I need. Is Bunny already down here?”

“Not yet. I mean, what are you going to do with the raven, Doubt?”

“Maybe I can open the window and give him free rein.”

“I hate to tell you this, but Idaho winters can be brutal. Leaving a window open for three months will be a disaster for your cabin.”

“Oh, come on. Where’s your sense of adventure?”

“There is adventure, and then there’s common sense. I have things to do. I still have to work with Sean Harrington to make posters for The Hat. You want to get that published don’t you?”

“Sure, but this place has great wifi. Maybe you can use a video connection to work with him.”

Lisa Burton

“Look, I’m not staying in a smelly culvert for three months, just to hustle you coffee. I’m not missing Christmas either. The confinement will drive you crazy, and I don’t want to deal with that.”

“It won’t drive me crazy. I thrive on peace and quiet.”

“It will in three months. Check your outline and what you intend for that nice young couple. You can come down here and write all you want, but you need to air out once in a while.”

“It won’t turn out quite the same, you know.”

“If you lock yourself down here, it won’t turn out at all. You’ll be chewing on your iPad and drooling in two weeks.” She opened the refrigerator. “I bought a growler of the last pumpkin beer. Write for a couple of hours, then I’ll bring down the enchanted beer horns. You’ll get plenty of stress and strain from this industrial style furniture. I know you hate it.”

“I really do hate it, but pumpkin beer sounds good.” I opened my iPad and sat in my bent-pipe style desk chair. “Seal the door behind you. Wouldn’t want any snow to get in.”

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Ahh, the holidays

I’m the poster boy for introverts. I swear these holidays are going to kill me.

Company arrived on Wednesday. They’re still here, and they brought their dogs.

Thanksgiving day we had twelve of us, and my son’s family also brought their dog. I mention this, because we just put in a new hard-surface floor. Doggie feet are loud on it. My dogs tend to take the occasional nap… but not when there are other dogs around.

There are three doors to get outside my house, and on Thanksgiving day they were all in use. (Think grandchildren here.) My son deep fried our turkey outside, and the kids were in and out in some kind of revolving door situation. I didn’t want my dogs out front, because they aren’t familiar with cars and streets. This meant a constant checking every time the doors opened. Add in the fact that (doing higher math, bear with me) ninety doggie toenails clicked across the floor every time someone touched a doorknob.

My brother in law likes to rough house with the bulldogs. In his defense, he doesn’t have large dogs at home so it’s kind of unique. Roughhousing at six AM is not quite what I want when I wake up.

Working at a small government office yesterday was kind of a godsend. It was calm and quiet. I think I had one telephone call all day and managed to get some long suffering paperwork finished.

Last night we all went to dinner together. This included my son’s family too. It was nice, but the Black Friday crowd made for long waits. We even paid valet parking at the shopping center because it was that busy. Five bucks was much nicer than forty minutes of cruising followed by a half-mile walk.

Today, the in-laws and my wife went shopping. I’m here with the four dogs and my other son. He’s upstairs doing his prescription opioid addiction problem right now. He’s snapping his fingers and slapping his chest all while swearing and hollering in an argument with someone who isn’t actually there. Before you ask, he doesn’t have an internet capable device, so he isn’t playing a game online.

It’s still noisy here.

I managed to prepare and send out one shtick for Lisa Burton Radio. I want to do a couple of others, but we’ll see how I hold up. These things don’t write themselves, and I need to keep the line moving. I also assembled and scheduled a guest post I agreed to host.

I finally got five minutes to debate women’s dress sizes with my favorite consultant, my daughter. Then I incorporated some small changes to The Hat. I also heard from my last beta reader for this project, and he seems to have enjoyed the story. He said notes are coming, so I’m watching my mailbox.

On a “just for Craig” basis, I wrote a little new fiction. I don’t even know what to call it, but it’s one of those pages that goes between the copyright page and chapter one. It isn’t really a dedication, so that word doesn’t fit. It’s more of a definition. It’s part of the story and helps folks understand what’s going on.

I also wrote the opening paragraphs and stopped early on purpose. My goal was just to start. This also means I started a separate “cast of characters” sheet which I always make. Starting a couple of paragraphs is always a bigger effort than it sounds.

Here is my thing that comes before the story. I am considering italics and squeezing the margins, just to make it stand out.

Estivation: In times of environmental stress, some species are known to estivate. They slow down their breathing, heart rate, and intake of food and water. Estivation occurs under times of excessive heat; whereas, hibernation occurs under times of extreme cold. The processes are similar, in that resources are limited or non-existent. When the situation improves, these creatures leave estivation and go about their normal lives.

So what do you call a page like this one? Does it intrigue you to read on? Now all I have to do is write the story. (And survive the holidays… or become a super-villain.)

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Still editing

I have more editing to do, so I headed for the writing cabin after tending the dogs. I flew the little gyrocopter low across the forest, around the meadow, and banked toward the landing strip.

That's when all Hell broke loose. An explosion sent rocks and sod soaring over a hundred feet into the air.

I pulled up on the stick and banked right. When I came around, the cabin still stood, but I wondered what the hell was going on.

Lisa Burton crackled across my radio. “I was paying attention to something else. Didn't know you were getting so close. Come on in, I promise it's safe.”

I touched down but veered at the end to avoid a six foot stone that landed at the end of the runway. The gyrocopter veered off into the soft dirt and grass. I left it there, and climbed out of the cockpit.

Lisa came running. “Sorry about that. I've been trying to dig a spot for your underground thingie. It's too rough for a shovel, so I tried the tractor. That didn't work either. Turns out Idaho is a sequence of granitic batholiths. I can't get your thing deep enough any other way.”

“It's a shelter, not a thingie–“

Lisa pushed me behind the gyrocopter.

She pushed down on the plunger and my knees buckled beneath me.

“Stop that!”

“Sorry, I thought you needed the shelter for your next story.”

“It's one of my next stories.”

“I found the outline and checked it out. Estivation is a cool title. I googled it, and it's like hibernation only in extreme heat.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“So what are we going to do down there, once I get it installed?”

“I figured we'd lock ourselves down there for three months, just like the people in the story. One of my author friends did some extreme research and she–“

“Oh, Hell no. You can stay down there for three months, but I have to take care of Bunny.”

“Bring him with us. It'll be fun.”

“Right, fun, until you go all Jack Nicholson from being locked up for so long.”

“I'll tell you what. You finish installing it, and then we'll talk about it. I have some editing work today.” I headed for the cabin. “And no more blasting while I'm here.”

“Killjoy. Fine, I can clear the hole with the tractor until you leave. I'll save my blasting until you go back to work.” She grabbed the gyrocopter with one hand and dragged it back onto the runway. “What about the other story? Is there something there I can work on while you're editing?”

“Not many special props for that one. It's called The Hat, so you can pick up a hat if you want.”

Squeee! I look good in hats, I'd better order a bunch of them.”

“That's the spirit. Nice quiet internet shopping while I work on Yak Guy.”

“You've got it, boss.”

“And you're going to have to bust up that rock and get it out of here.”

“No problem. With explosives.

“What's that?”

“Oh, nothing.”

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Filed under Muse, Writing

Hello, Writing Cabin

I tromped into the writing cabin and caught Lisa unprepared.

“I thought you were reading and stuff. Let me just tidy up real fast.”

The office looked emaculate and I told her so. “What kind of mess can one robot girl make while I'm out? You don't even have to cook.”

“Dust, there's still dust even if I'm completely gone.”

“Suit yourself. I finished my backlog of projects, and decided to try a bit of writing today. You know, just to see if I remember how.”

Lisa broke into action, making coffee with one hand while she took out the Swiffer and went over the floor with the other one. She took a dust cloth and ran ahead of me to my writing desk.

The raven of Doubt glared at me from his perch. He bobbed up and down a few times in excitement.

“Not yet, dude. I'm not doing any editing today. It's time to move the Yak Guy ahead.” He knows The Enhanced League is ready to start editing, but I don't feel rushed to dive in yet.

I started by rereading my last few chapters. I made a small correction or two, and Doubt gave me the stink eye. Lisa showed up with coffee about the time I started writing.

I wrote one short chapter and it was kind of draining. It came in slightly over 3000 words. I don't know if it's because I hadn't written in a while, or because of the content. This chapter involved the end of the yak. He's been such a central character to the story it was hard to see him go.

“I'm really going to miss him,” Lisa said. “He's been at the cabin for a long time.”

“He has, and the next go round maybe we'll see the end of yak guy, Ted.”

“Then what?”

“Then, you probably have to pose for more posters and plan for a worldwide blog tour – or two.”

“That's always fun, then I'm going to use some vacation time.” She opened the window and let in some fresh air. Doubt took the opportunity to stretch his wings at the same time. She sighed as the yak crossed the meadow and headed for the snowy peaks. “He played a mean game of chess, you know.”

“Really, how did he move the pieces?”

“He told me the moves, and I moved them for him.”

“Kind of like he was playing against the computer then?”

“Not kind of, he was playing against me, my processors, and memory. He won more than a few too.”

“Maybe you can get him to come back for your radio show someday. Did you put his data in your Rolodex?”

Please, I'm completely electronic, you should know that by now, and yeah, I have his contact data.”

I checked email, and answered blog comments while she stared out the window.

“So what happens next?”

“Yak guy has to finish his journey. After that, I have a couple of novellas I want to try. That's how it will work out in a perfect world. They could be long short stories or short novels depending on the experiment.”

“What are we talking here? I might need to buy some new outfits for these stories.”

“One is a kind of paranormal superhero origin story.”

“Is that the one with all the hats?”

“Yes, ma'am.”

“So you'll want the paranormal office then.”

“Absolutely. The other one is a spin on the lifeboat story. It has a science fiction background, but they're stuck in an underground bunker for a specific amount of time. The problem is they can't leave, and the antagonist is in there with them.”

“Got it, I already earmarked a bunch of hats and can get them ordered. I wonder what scream queens are wearing this season?”

“I'm sure you'll figure it out before we start. We have to give yak guy some closure first.”

The enchanted beer horns sounded off and came running. They curled around my ankles like a pair of cats.

“Hi guys, I missed you too.”

Lisa said, “I got a nice doppelbock from McCall Brewing for you to try. It's called Dunce Cap.”

“Huh! Did you pick that specifically for me?”

“Of course, I know doppelbock is your favorite.”

Woosh!”

“Don't woosh me, I know what you meant. Do you want the beer or not?”

“Of course, besides, these guys won't stop honking unless we fill them up.”

***

For those of you so inclined, I opened a Pinterest account earlier this year. I started a couple of boards called The Hat and Estivation that relate to my upcoming projects. You can check them out here.

 

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