Tag Archives: fiction

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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Unclear Purposes Blog Tour

Joan is a good friend, and has the final book of her trilogy available right now. She’s also one of my compatriots over at Story Empire. Make her feel welcome and share her excerpt across your social media. Joan, the floor is yours.

Craig, thank you for hosting me today and helping to spread the word about my new release with your readers. Unclear Purposes is the third and final book of the Driscoll Lake Series.

The male lead in this book is a former FBI agent turned PI. He has a few secrets. Let’s learn a little more about Vince Green.

 

Excerpt:

“Good morning, Agent Green.”

Vince’s eyes narrowed. “Tami Sutton. What brings you here today?”

“Came to see you, of course.”

“It’s been a while since anyone referred to me as Agent Green.”

She cast a glance around the office. “Nice place you have here. Small but efficient. Good location.”

“Suits my purpose. But I gather you’re not here to discuss my place of business.” Vince sat on the corner of his desk.

He was straightforward and to the point. Tami liked that. “You’re right. I want you to do a job for me. Money’s good…”

“…Why not hire someone who lives in New Mexico? Or even San Antonio?”

“Because I believe you’re the best suited for the job. I’ve checked your background, so I know about a certain incident in Alpine. It turns out, we have something in common.”

Vince’s jaw tightened. “That isn’t a subject up for discussion.”

“No? Then I won’t mention it again. But I think you’ll agree we have the same goal.”

“How’s that?”

“Like me, you want answers and are willing to take risks to get them. So much it cost you a promising career.”

“Leaving the FBI was my choice.”

“That’s not what I heard.”

 

Blurb:

Some people take secrets to the grave…

Three years after her husband’s murder, Christine Lawrence still struggles for balance. She has a rewarding career and a close circle of friends but feels oddly unfulfilled. Worse, the close relationship she once had with her teenage daughter has grown increasingly strained.

Former FBI agent, Vince Green, is battling demons of his own—painful secrets that drove him from Driscoll Lake. Newly resettled in the small town, he makes his living as a private investigator.

When Vince and Christine cross paths, stumbling over the body of a murder victim, he’s forced to confront memories he thought long buried. The circumstances surrounding the killing are eerily similar to a victim from his past.

As the body count continues to rise, Christine finds herself drawn to Vince. With a murderer stalking the streets of Driscoll Lake, neither is aware the killer has targeted her as the next victim—or that Vince’s past is key to unmasking a disturbed and deadly killer.

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Springtime in Idaho, plus a bit of luck

Yesterday was a travel day for me. This means my only job was to get to Lewiston and check into my room. I have a presentation to make for work today. I’ll go over my presentation materials in a few minutes.

While I’m waiting for the hotel to place out continental breakfast it seems like a decent time to update my blog.

Springtime in Idaho is a beautiful time. I saw animals all the way here. There were pheasants, turkeys, both mule deer and white tails. I even saw a bald eagle over the Salmon River.

Mostly though, Idaho Spring means construction. I passed through three construction zones yesterday with lengthy stops by flaggers. I even got to see one car who must have blown past the flagger at the far end, because he nearly had a head on collision with the pilot car I was following. Good times. There were two more construction zones, but they were monitored by those construction stop lights that are showing up more frequently. Only one rock hit my windshield and it didn’t chip.

Just past Grangeville, I got to watch a crop duster working. These guys always amaze me. Their acrobatic stunts are better than an air show. He was working close to the highway, and I almost ducked when he flew over my truck. I’m pretty sure I’m free of fleas and ticks now.

Since my only task was to get here, I decided to leave early. I was on the road by six am. My intent was to score some writing time if possible.

You can laugh if you want, but bald eagles have always brought me luck. Whatever my goal was, the sighting of an eagle insured success. This is what happened yesterday.

Serang and her master were still on that river. At this point in the story, they’ve been traveling a lot. There were lessons to learn along the way, and some cool creatures and scenery, but this is a novel not a travelogue.

I decided to tell a bit, jumping the story ahead by weeks and months. They sold their boat, marched back into the mountains, and met up with the only other living monk as far as they know. We made a fun stop at a blacksmith’s shop along the way. The elder monk also taught Serang an important lesson about the tigers she seems so enamored with.

Considering I haven’t been able to write any new fiction for a month now, I’m pretty happy. It came to 4010 new words I didn’t have before. Thank you Mr. Eagle.

When I called Old What’s Her Face last night, I learned that we’re going to have company again this weekend. That kills any writing time for Saturday or Sunday. I have a flex day in there, so maybe I’ll score some time then.

Or maybe, I’ll see another eagle on my way home today.

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The author lifestyle

I’ve always updated with warts and all. Seems like lately there have been more warts than cool stuff. It wasn’t in my master plan, but much of it is out of my control.

This is the third weekend in a row that I haven’t been able to write. I’ve done some blog things, and they count. They simply aren’t new fiction.

We watched the Derby yesterday, and I spotted the interference before the race was even over. I may be in the minority, but I agree with the disqualification.

This is the biggest stage in the world for horse racing, and they struggle to survive in this world of extended animal rights. I’ve been at a race where a horse had to be shot, and watched the tractor drag him away. News crews would love that for their headlines, but the sport itself doesn’t need it.

The jockey yesterday put a lot of equine lives at risk, and a few human ones too. This is made more risky by the large field the Derby always has.

We raced out for date night and had a nice dinner at Kahoots. This is one of our regular stopping places. I never learned of the DQ until I googled it later in the evening. It was the right call.

Plans to publish Serang before school lets out are all but gone. I haven’t finished writing it, and there isn’t any time to set up tours and such. Things are about to be incredibly busy at my office, and it’s field trip season for my position too. This poses a new issue.

Summer releases have always sucked for me. Yak Guy is a pretty fair story, but it goes relatively unnoticed for that reason. I can toss Serang to the summer wolves, or hold it back for later. I want to release The Viral Blues in conjunction with the Halloween season. This story seems to still have a realistic publishing goal.

If I hold Serang back, I don’t want to try two releases at the same time. This would make Serang more of a December release, but it has nothing to do with the holidays.

Some of this is my fault, because I’m shooting for three releases this year. It’s a tough goal to meet while holding down a full time job.

I’ve always understood the commercial reasons to write series instead of stand alone novels. I largely ignored it and wrote what I wanted. Right or wrong.

My inner circle talked me into it, so I’m committed now. A series is the one thing I haven’t taken on, and maybe it’s time. Of course, I never do anything half-way…

There are two kinds of series. One kind has an overarching plot, and the other involves more stories in the same universe using the same characters. I’m writing one of each. Lanternfish is intended to become a trilogy. The Hat will have more stories in the same universe.

Many of the overarching series have supporting stories to keep interest going. This is what Serang is. She is a supporting character to Lanternfish who earned her own story.

I mentioned this, because not everyone reads every blog post I throw out there. I’ve probably already talked about all of this in the past. Serang’s job is to preserve interest in the Lanternfish series until I can publish the next volume in 2020. The Hat will return in October.

In a perfect world, Serang would be ready to step on the stage and do her job. This would give me all summer to finish The Viral Blues.

It isn’t a perfect world. I may have to start leaving the house on Saturdays for a few mornings just so I can meet my goals.

They say all blog posts perform better with a picture of some kind. It has nothing to do with writing, but enjoy a picture of Otto falling asleep on his feet.

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Secrets, colds, date night, and new words

I took vacation from Wednesday through Monday. This time, I didn’t tell anyone, including my wife. This is because the last time I tried to get some writing time it got pirated away. I lose the vacation hours either way, and my employer doesn’t qualify whether I was content or not.

While everyone was reading my group post about hosts willing to promote our work, I was working on new fiction.

Old What’s Her Face was off Friday, and we both woke up with colds. No idea what that was about, but we were phlegmy and both had headaches. She got over it before I did, but by mid-afternoon we both felt fine. Fine enough to go to Old Chicago for pizza and craft beer.

I slung quite a few words today, but didn’t keep score. My tale moved from a transition scene into an action scene, and those move quite a bit faster.

I’d have to consider this vacation a success already. Tomorrow I dedicate some of my morning to calling my parents, so I don’t expect much else to happen. My story is at a point where I have to think about it, and hopefully the Muse will show up for me.

I’m also off Monday, but so is my wife. This isn’t necessarily a deal killer for new fiction, but it’s usually much less than when I’m alone.

If I were to wish for anything, it would have been a couple of guests for Lisa Burton Radio. I didn’t get any takers, and don’t quite understand why. I’ll probably do a promo again, but the risk is to get over a hundred at once like the last time. (At one per week, that’s two years of applicants to get through.)

I could have done without the cold, but it’s been a pretty good vacation so far and I have two days left. Maybe I should look for some December wallpaper.

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Exposing your work, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Hi, all, and welcome to another edition of Lisa Burton Radio. This week is a special edition, because it’s geared to all you authors out there. It might give some good ideas to bloggers who want to host guests too.

Today, I’ve collected a group of power bloggers who host authors on their sites. This gives an author a way to reach a larger audience than they might if they were simply posting about date-night or something. This means when you have a new book to promote, or maybe to give an older title a secondary push.

We’re going to start by addressing the three-hundred-pound gorilla in the room, and I mean that literally. Chris The Storyreading Ape, hosts one of the largest author blogs around. “Did you get my fruit basket, Chris?”

“Yes I did thanks, Lisa – very thoughtful of you to use edible leaves to weave the basket, so I didn’t miss out on my veggies, which help keep me at my physical peak.”

“So Chris, do you have a regular scheduled slot for authors, or do you take them piecemeal? While you’re at it, give our listeners a bit about what it takes to get into the Author’s Hall of Fame, and what benefit that brings.

“I have a prime post slot at 01:00 am, London, UK time, every day, which I use to give priority to author articles, except Mondays (reserved for my weekly Monday Funnies).

“Regards how to get articles onto my blog, see the following link for authors seeking to get into my Authors Hall of Fame: https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/contact-me/if-you-are-not-already-in-my-authors-hall-of-fame/

“For authors already in my HoF, but would like to submit further articles, or run book promos, use this link: https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/contact-me/if-you-are-already-in-my-authors-hall-of-fame/

“The main benefit is getting yourself, as a person, not just an author, in front of my blog followers, but also in front of my other media followers as well, on Twitter, two Facebook Pages, Tumblr blog, LinkedIn, etc, including a my Flipboard Authors Hall of Fame Magazine.

“Some of my other blogger/author friends often reblog author articles, which spreads your fame even further.

“The big plus is, it’s free publicity.”

“That’s a great point, Chris. These promos are all free. My own author operates on a shoestring, and I know others do too. With all the reblogs, social media sharing, and more, you could put your work in front of a hundred-thousand potential readers. Then it’s up to you to sell yourself.

“My next guest is Colleen Chesebro. She is an author and poet herself, and hosts authors on her blog. She also offers up a weekly book review. Colleen, you have a neat way of doing these interviews with your list of questions. Tell us about that, please.”

“Hi, Lisa. I thought long and hard about what I could do to help to promote other authors. Then, it occurred to me how hard it’s been for me to learn the art of writing and publishing. So, I thought the idea of using questions and answers would be the perfect way to learn from other author’s experiences.

“I made a huge list because everyone is different in their style of writing. Also, I didn’t want everyone to choose the same questions. I even added some unusual questions, like: “As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?” I was surprised at how many authors have included this question in their interviews.

“The response has been overwhelming, partly because the author has the opportunity to choose what they want to write about. It’s free promotion to share their books, their writing style, and for my readers to learn a few intimate details of the lives of people they know only through blogging and writing.”

“Sounds great! How do authors sign up?”

“The authors can choose from my massive list of questions and by following the instructions HERE. If you’re interested in booking an interview, make sure to read the instructions carefully. My contact information is found in the link.

Conversations with Colleen is a weekly feature held each Wednesday on colleenchesebro.com. I also share these posts on social media. Currently, I’m scheduled through January 2019 and have interview slots available starting in February 2019. If you have a blog, I’m happy to interview you!”

“I’d better have a word with Craig. If he’s going to have a January book release he needs to start contacting you guys.

“All that social media sharing brings me to my next point. Authors tend to get out of the visit what they put in to the visit. I have some who never even show up and comment on the post. I have others who share it everywhere, and even a few that reblog it sporadically for months. I look at the stats, and I know which posts perform better.

“My next guest is Sally Cronin, and she offers several options, including the Cafe and Bookstore. She offers kind of a unique double hit for her guests, fill us all in Sally.”

“Thanks for inviting me along to join these stars of our blogging community Lisa, and I include you very much in that, as your interviews with characters of author’s books, is a creative way to showcase others. We do need to think outside the box when promoting ourselves and others, and the more zany the better. For example, as well as Colleen Chesebro’s Conversations she also entices us in with a Poetry Challenge which is a great way to promote your blog and books. Annette Rochelle Aben who is one of your hosts has a radio podcast – Where the Magic Happens, that both your author and myself have been guests on. The Story Reading Ape was ahead of the game with his Hall of Fame and we consider him the king of this particular jungle.

“You make an excellent point about guests and their level of participation. I often get requests from authors to feature them in the Café and Bookstore, and like you, I spend quite a bit of time putting the post together and promoting it across social media. I do clearly request that the author share across their own networks and also respond individually to those who have taken the time to respond but on a few occasions there is no interaction at all. More than anything the author is not getting the best out of the promotion and is certainly not leaving a good impression with potential readers.”

“Where did you get the idea of the Café and Bookstore which is your primary author promotion and tell us about how you extend the life of the posts?”

“After about two years of blogging, and promoting authors I began to lose track of authors I had showcased, their books and reviews. I put together an alphabetical list of writers and added the Amazon link to buy books, the author’s website, up to seven covers and the most recent review for one of their books. I now have a platform where I can add new authors, keep track of new releases and reviews. In addition I can share the whole bookstore on social media on a regular basis to encourage readers to browse. You can find out how to join the other 150 + authors on the shelves of the bookstore and on the Café and Bookstore page.

“I re-share all posts in my weekly round up on Sundays and this includes the author promotions with a cover and link to their promotion. The round up is one of the busiest posts of the week, and because I post a great deal, many readers pop in on Sunday and visit the posts that they missed. There are thousands of posts published each week, just in the circles we all move within, and it is easy to miss several. I recommend that if anyone posts more than a few times a week that they think about a round up post.”

“Is there anything else you can recommend to authors that will help them promote their work?”

“Despite all the advice out there on book marketing, and about the dangers of over self-promotion, there are still people who bombard us with posts and comments about their own work to the exclusion of others. It simply does not work. You have to remember that the majority of our followers are writers and this means that they are also usually avid readers. They quickly lose interest if the only posts and comments you make are about your books. They won’t buy them, read them or promote them. If you want to build yourself a platform to promote your work, share it with the work of others and see how it flourishes.”

“That’s a good point too, thanks Sally. You can’t post exclusively about your own book. People will turn a deaf ear, and eventually you’ll lose all the followers you worked so hard to gain.

“My next guest offers something very different. Her name is Annette Rochelle Aben, and she offers a podcast. Honestly, Craig just did one of these interviews and said it was a piece of cake. He was worried about saying just the right thing, but it was more like talking with an old friend.

“Annette, tell our listeners how they can take advantage of your podcast and spread the word even further.”

“Reach out, let me know you would like to do a podcast with me and we will send your message out to a world-wide audience.”

“I check Craig’s stats, and I can see how the interviews perform. Do you ever do anything like that?”

“Our tech people give us statistic updates on a monthly basis. Each month those stats increase and for the first ten months of 2018, we had over 5 million hits on the magazine site. This means, over 5 million opportunities for people to hear what you have to say.”

“And how can our listeners contact you?”

“They can contact me through my website, or through the magazine.”

“My next guest is Sue Vincent, whose blog is called the Daily Echo. Sue does something pretty cool in that she also hosts artists and photographers. What this means to an author is her crowd might not be the same crowd you get in other places. Promotion is all about reaching many people, so this can work to your advantage. Welcome, Sue.”

“Hi Lisa, I have to say that this get together is a great idea, although the Small Dog seems to feel that if Apes get fruit baskets, she should have a dog basket. Even the dog runs an open invitation through December for guests to take part in Ani’s Advent calendar. Maybe you could ask Craig if his canine friends would care to come over? The Ape has already agreed to take part.

“I agree with the rest of the party… as a writer, you want to be read, but it’s no good constantly shouting ‘buy my book’…you need to let readers get to know you as a person. Share your passion.  My own blog is eclectic, with most book-related posts on a separate author site. And all the promotion listed here is free and has a potential reach of hundreds of thousands worldwide. While I am happy to host book launches and blog tours, I do keep a daily spot for guest posts, open to writers, artists, musicians and photographers… and bloggers are writers too. Then there is the whole ‘target audience’ thing, and for that I host Living Lore posts with a theme of folklore, myth and legend, and the Elusive Realities spot for true stories of strange personal experiences. Many people have a story to share…and I like sharing.

“I feel I should mention writing challenges too. Colleen runs a weekly poetry challenge, I run a photo prompt every Thursday. We link to every entry, giving extra exposure to writers, I share many of the entries on my blog, and have an open invitation to regulars to come and introduce themselves as my guest. And with all this possible free promo, I seldom have a guest every day! It is easy enough, all I need is a post, links and pics and I’ll do the rest. And neither the Small Dog nor I bite 😉 I am easy to contact through the blog, or by email at findme@scvincent.com.”

“That is a ton of promotional opportunity, Sue. Thanks to you, and all my guests today for participating.

“Looks like it falls to me to wrap it all up. Lisa Burton Radio is here to interview your fictional characters. I rarely interview actual people or – you know, apes. Getting your character on the show is as easy as sending an email to coldhand.boyack@gmail.com.

“Think about all the ways you can expose your work, and none of it costs a dime. They are all unique, and would make a nice blog tour if you plan ahead. My own author has done exactly that several times.

“Since we’re supporting blog hosts today, I’m asking the authors out there to share this post far and wide. Use those sharing buttons, reblog the post. I’ll be adding it to Flipboard, Mix, and several others along with the big social media sites. You might even want to bookmark it for future reference.

“For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton. Now I’m heading to Amazon to find a doggie basket.”

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When you want to scream, but shouldn’t

Ahh, writing vacation-time. It sounds lovely. It has such promise to it. Time to sling words at my iPad and build something wonderful.

It didn’t work out like that, and I regret using my vacation time for this. Here’s how it came out. A writing day, for me, is never a day. It’s a matter of hours, usually in the morning. When my wife is at work, I get quality time to chip away at my projects. She’s doesn’t work dawn to dusk, however. Her shift at the hospital usually puts her home around noon. You can see how a day get’s trimmed down to six hours or so, at best.

Wednesday was my flex day. I would have gotten it off regardless of vacation time. My wife got off at 8:00 that morning. I managed 1700 new words before my house got noisy, and bulldogs went berserk over playtime, etc.

Last weekend, we got the camper winterized. The man’s first move was to look at our roof and tell us we needed to have the entire roof recaulked, and quoted us a price of $900. (Dennis Dillon RV, in case you’re keeping score.) I’ve been around a scam or two in my day, and did not bite.

When a service costs more than my house payment, I tend to dig a bit deeper. It turns out my brother had his done in Elko, Nevada, for $175. He did this, because he didn’t have time, but said it was fairly easy to do.

My first idea was to tow the sucker several hundred miles and get it done there. Elko is a ridiculously expensive place to have anything done, but at least it’s cheaper than this clown wanted.

It turns out, my brother had all the time in the world right now, so he wanted to come up and look at my camper. We made arrangements for him to come up Thursday.

My wife was off Thursday, and it wasn’t a writing day anyway. Good deal, right?

He never got here until late afternoon. We looked at the roof, and he said the skylights and vents needed to be caulked, but the rest of it was fine. However, moving into Mountain Standard Time, we were out of daylight. We dragged the camper home, and waited until morning.

Frost killed some of the momentum, because this requires a dry environment to work properly. We went to the store and bought four tubes of caulk, just in case. Turns out these weren’t cheap, and I was into it about sixty bucks.

By mid-day, we were able to remove the old sealant, and do the caulking. We weren’t cheap about laying down the beads either; however, we only used one tube of caulk.

My wife had to work Friday, but my writing day was lost. Don’t get me wrong, visiting with my brother, and just hanging out with him was wonderful. I never regret spending time with family.

After we finished, we returned the unused caulk for a refund. In other words, I spent fifteen dollars to do what Dennis Dillon RV wanted to charge me $900 for. Oh, there was pizza, beer, and other expense involved, but you get my point.

Today, he didn’t hit the road until about 10:30. We did some more visiting over coffee this time. I really enjoyed our time together… but the writing time today is a total bust too. My wife will be here soon, and that’s all she wrote.

Tomorrow, Sunday, is the day I call my parents. This destroys Sunday mornings as writing time. My wife has to work again, but it is what it is.

We’re both off Monday, for Veteran’s Day. This means no quality time for writing purposes. Six glorious days turned into a few hours Wednesday morning.

My writer’s soul wants to tear shit up and burn it to the ground. I wish I’d never wasted my vacation time on this crap. We could have visited and fiddled with the camper on the normal days I get off and it would have worked out the same.

There is always something to do at the office, and I wish I’d have just went to work. When I return on Tuesday, I’ll be behind again, but didn’t get to do what I wanted with my vacation time.

This kind of thing frequently happens to me. Life tends to throw these curveballs my way more often than not. I’ve actually gotten about four hours of writing time in the last month, and they were all last Wednesday.

This is an author’s blog, and I try to give it to you warts and all. Sometimes I’ve been know to write 10,000 new words in one day. Sometimes I get 1700 in a month. We have real lives too, and life tends to get in the way.

I’ve learned to be grateful for other things over time. I got to visit with my brother, which rarely happens. I saved $885 that I don’t have too. This week, I got what I needed. This song has become the theme of my life. Maybe you can relate to it.

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