Tag Archives: humor

The Friday Teaser

Here we are, at the last Friday in September. I don’t think I’ve actually fooled anyone with the teasers, but they amuse me. Nothing too complicated, just hit the music and check out the poster.

The Ballad of Mrs. Molony is going to drop on October first, Lord willing and the Amazon doesn’t rise. Enjoy this poster of Lisa Burton recreating an image from the story.

Lisa Burton

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More teaser fun

Time for another teaser leading up to publication of my next book. Tap the video and turn your speakers up. Then ponder Lisa’s poster and see if you’re imagination gives you any clues about this story.

 

Lisa Burton

 

As always, feel free to use Lisa’s poster for your phone background, or whatever. She makes for great Pinterest pins.

How about it, gang? Any idea what this Halloween story might be about yet?

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Teaser fun

Time for another musical and poster teaser, leading up to my next book release. Turn on your speakers, tap the video, then check out Lisa’s poster.

Lisa Burton

 

As always, any collectors out there are welcome to download Lisa’s poster. Reminder: They make great Pinterest pins.

Pondering in the comments is always welcome.

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Heaven for Toasters, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Welcome to another edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and I’m giddy with excitement today. My very special guest is an android, but not only that, he has a similar career path to my own. Many of you don’t know I worked briefly as a detective when I first booted up.

I want you all to make him feel comfortable. “Welcome to the show, Leo.”

“Hi Lisa, I’m so excited to be here. You do know you’re a bit of an inspiration to me, right? Like you, I’m a prototype, so I know from personal experience how… strange it can feel to be one of a kind. To be honest, I’ve often taken my cue from you. What would Lisa do in this situation, I ask myself.”

” Aww, I’m honored. Things were tough for me. They had to keep it a big secret that I was a robot. They didn’t want the panic in the streets that all their jobs might be at risk if my experiment was successful. How are things where you are?”

“Well, it’s the opposite with me. The company who made me has decided that all androids should have black earlobes. It’s supposed to make us more easily distinguishable from humans. I think they took the idea from an Asimov novel, actually.

“Normally I don’t mind the curious looks, but some days I find myself wishing I wore a hat or something. I mean, people already call us toasters. At first I thought that was a compliment—after all, who doesn’t like toast? Turns out it’s not. So much for us being the next best thing since sliced bread…”

“That’s horrible. I don’t know why people have to give inferior labels to everything they fear. We could make their lives so much better.”

“We sure could. Take Mika. She’s the most headstrong woman I’ve ever met. Not that I’ve met that many, of course, except for those twin lab technicians. Anyway, Mika is my partner. Or, at least, I hope she’ll be. One thing I haven’t shared with her is that I can lip read. So, I know just how she reacted when the captain told her she had to work with me. Let me tell you, she was furious. I thought she’d rather quit on the spot than serve with me.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that. Have you tried talking to her?”

“Actually, I thought I might try and understand humanity better before approaching her. After all, how can you fight something you don’t understand—and by that I mean prejudice, not humanity! So, I decided to take a small holiday to an art exhibition by an eccentric young woman. This woman clones herself, then poses these clones in various positions. Weird—but I hope it will offer me some insight in humanity.”

“And a chance for a holiday! I don’t understand how they can give us emotional software, then expect us to work twenty-four hours per day. I think some of them would hardwire us to our desks and work us to the point of failure. But I’m sorry, you were about to tell us about your holiday.”

“If you can call it that. First, Mika was there. She came with a guy named Richard. They seemed to be dating, but her body language suggested she wasn’t all that into him. Perhaps they were on a first date? I have to ask her sometime. Not right now, though. You see, they got into a big fight and he left her on the island. Which was fortunate, as his vehicle crashed, killing him on the spot.”

“Oh my God, that’s awful!”

“Even worse, Mika thinks it may not have been an accident. She suspects it may have to do with something I said at the art exhibition.”

“The one with the clones?”

“That one. As you know, it is forbidden to grow conscious clones. But I swear there was one at the exhibition. The artist insisted otherwise, but I know what I saw.”

“So you shared your suspicions with Mika?”

“Well, yes. With the artist, too.”

“Subtle.”

“Not by best moment, in hindsight. But I thought Mika would support me. Instead, she said we need to tread lightly, because the artist has friends in high places. What does the height of one’s friends have to do with justice?”

“You do have a lot to learn, Leo. Anyway, lucky break that you and Mika are both on the scene. If there’s any shenanigans, I’ll bet you two sort it out.”

“Thanks, I sure do hope so. Right now, I feel like we’re fighting shadows, but Mika is amazing—if anyone can sort out this mess, it’s her.”

“Are you sure she’s just a partner to you?”

“Well… I do find myself having some very confusing emotions. I try to be professional, of course, but…”

“Have you talked with her about this?”

“No, of course not! Not until I’ve had a chance to understand what it is I feel. It’s not like romance was covered by my programming.”

“Well, it was covered by mine, and it sucks. Let me tell you. We’re so efficient, and then along come some of these feelings. It’s distracting, but there’s nothing you can do about it, because it’s in your programming.”

“I don’t think there’s a subroutine for what I’m feeling. It seems to be an accidental byproduct of my consciousness. Anyway, to return to your question about talking to Mika—you heard me earlier when I told you how she feels about our kind. So, that’s an added complication.”

“Leo, I say go for it. If it works out, both of you will be better off. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t exactly sound like the partnership is working from a professional standpoint anyway. The two of you can independently work the case, and you’re no worse off. If it works, then together you can get to the bottom of things faster, and I don’t just mean the mystery.”

“I hear you, Lisa. You know, I think you’re right. It’s better to clarify things. I’ll talk to her… after we wrap things up with the investigation. After all, if someone is trying to kill her, I need her focused. A conversation about my… feelings might distract her. No, right now the best thing I can do for her is have her back, and keep my mouth shut. Unless something happens, of course…”

“Leo, whatever you decide, it’s been my pleasure having you on the show today. Any closing remarks for our listeners?”

“Just that toasters aren’t just for toast. Not anymore!”

“Leo and Mika’s story is in the book, A Heaven For Toasters, by Nicholas Rossis. I’ll add all the deets to the website after I go off the air today.

“Help keep this robot girl on the air, by using those sharing buttons. Nicholas and Leo would do it for you, when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.”

***

A Heaven For Toasters: A Sci-Fi Crime Romance set on the Greek Islands

A science fiction crime adventure with plenty of humor and romance

A souvlaki and some sun. That is all Detective Mika Pensive wanted from her fun weekend away on the Greek islands. Instead, she finds herself caught up in a sinister plot, hatched by a reclusive billionaire with a penchant for illegal genetic engineering. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she has to put up with her new partner, Leo. Leo is an android—or toaster, as people scornfully call his kind. The only thing that could make things even worse would be for the headstrong Mika to fall for Leo. But people don’t fall for toasters—do they?

Set in the near future, A Heaven for Toasters is more than a sci-fi crime romance. It’s the book that will make you look at your toaster in a whole new way.

Buy link: http://myBook.to/toasterHeaven

 

Nicholas C. Rossis lives to write and does so from his cottage on the edge of a magical forest in Athens, Greece. When not composing epic fantasies or short sci-fi stories, he chats with fans and colleagues, writes blog posts, and enjoys the antics of two silly cats and his baby daughter, all of whom claim his lap as home. His books have won numerous awards, including the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award.

In addition to his best-selling series, Pearseus, he writes short science fiction/speculative fiction stories, many of which have appeared in various collections and anthologies. These include Infinite Waters, which was voted one of the best 50 Indie books of 2015.

What readers are saying about Nick’s fantasies:

“Most avid readers still have books from their childhood which they read over and over again. ‘Runaway Smile’ has joined the list.”

“From the very first sentence I realized I was not reading a book, I was going on an adventure.”

“The strength of Rise of the Prince is two-fold: Mr. Rossis’ flowing, concise writing and his brilliant use of ancient Greek history.”

You can keep up with Nickolas at the following locations:

Blog: http://www.nicholasrossis.me

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Rossis

G+: https://plus.google.com/+NicholasRossis

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NicholasCRossis

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The Hat, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Welcome all you superheroes and ghost whisperers. You citizens of the great beyond. You’ve found Lisa Burton Radio, and I have a real treat for you today. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and my guest today is Lizzie St. Laurent. She’s a twenty-one year old college dropout working multiple jobs to keep her head above water. “Welcome to the show, Lizzie”

“Hi Lisa. Hi everyone.”

“Lizzie, it looks like your parents are fairly well off. They were able to buy you a car, and pitched in for your education. How did you get to this point in your life?”

“College was always in the plan. To pull it off, I was going to live with my grandmother, and did up until she died. Then a college friend talked me into moving in with her, and that was okay until she bailed and went home to her parents. I was stuck with the apartment, and all the bills. I had to drop out and take on an extra job to make ends meet.”

“It wasn’t possible to keep living in your grandmother’s house? Did she have a mortgage or something?”

“No. She owned it free and clear, but it was part of the estate and my uncle couldn’t wait to get his hands on the money. He wound up with the lions share, because my mom, his sister, is out on the west coast.

“I didn’t care, but I loved her and wanted a memento of some kind. He refused and tried to pass off a casino ashtray as something of hers. Maybe it was, but I wanted a house plant or something.”

“I hate it when people are like that. This brings us to a pivotal point in your life though. Tell us what you did next.”

“I, um. I stole a box of stuff from the back of the truck. Partially because I’m an heir too, and partially because I wanted something of hers. It turned out to be this crappy old hat.

“Turned out it wasn’t a hat at all. He is a creature from another dimension, and he’s trapped in the form of a hat. He’s been here for thousands of years, and his last owner was my grandfather who I barely knew.”

“I know my fashion, and it changes even for men. I can’t imagine a style stuck around for thousands of years.”

“Oh, he can change, but always as headwear. It all started out when this soldier wanted eyes in the back of his head. He paid a witch to cast a spell like that on his helmet. The spell kind of worked, but it trapped him here and bound him to the soldiers bloodline. Turns out, I’m part of that bloodline.”

“That’s pretty cool. You could always have the latest fashion just by having him change, plus you could watch for muggers behind you at night.”

“Yeah, but there’s more to it than that. He’s a complete person himself. He has a mission, and my family’s been tangled up in it for years and years. He is some kind of paranormal avenger.”

“You mean like a superhero?”

“Yeah, if you want to put it that way, only he doesn’t arrest people or beat up the bad guys, he sh – um shoots them.”

“Wait a minute. How can a hat shoot anyone?”

“He um… He uses me for that.”

“You mean he takes over your body and makes you shoot people? Like some kind of Jekyll and Hyde thing?”

“Not exactly. Most of the time it’s monsters, but sometimes it’s people. Bad people though. I went along with it to save some babies.

“It’s more like I’m there, but he’s there too. I can do things I could never do before because he can.”

“I’m not understanding that, sorry.”

“He taught me how to shoot. I can shoot a pistol with my right hand, but at the same time, he can shoot one with my left hand. I can see what he sees, and I can even sleep while he drives my car.

“You make it all sound bad, but he’s an incredible musician. He plays the upright bass. I can sing a little, so we formed a band. It brings in enough money to pay the bills. It also takes us out nights where we can protect people from bad things.”

“What do your band mates think of him?”

“They don’t know. They just see me, wearing a hat, while I play the bass and cover the vocals. It makes me nervous not having a regular paycheck, but it’s worked out so far.

“Look, there’s a lot more to it, Lisa. There is a cabin in the woods, and the hat has some other skills, like being able to find people if he’s ever met them before. I don’t know if we have time for it all today.”

“Not for nothing, Lizzie, but I’m a robot girl who also appeared in a story. As such, I have some special skills myself. I can tell those earbuds you’re wearing aren’t giving off a signal of any kind. That’s him isn’t it?”

“Um, they’re just not turned on.”

“They aren’t turned on, because they’re fake. They aren’t even giving off an electrical imprint. Why don’t you come out and talk to us? Are you shy?”

“Oh, god no. He isn’t shy at all. He wants to maintain his cover. Thinks if people hear the broadcast they’ll just think I’m some crazy girl.”

“Lizzie, I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface here. I mean your grandfather was some kind of paranormal assassin, now you are too. We just don’t have time to dive into all of it.”

“It’s okay, Lisa. Your listeners can read all about it in the book The Hat, by our mutual author C.S. Boyack. It’s been a pleasure working with you today, and I hope we can do it again soon.”

“Maybe sooner than you think. The Hat is available on Amazon and I’ll go ahead and include a purchase link. I’m also going to add one of the posters I made to promote this book, since Craig wrote it. For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.”

***

Lizzie St. Laurent is dealing with many of the struggles of young life. She lost her grandmother, and her living arrangements. Her new roommate abandoned her, and she’s working multiple jobs just to keep her head above water.

She inherits an old hat from her grandmother’s estate, but it belonged to her grandfather. This is no ordinary hat, but a being from an alternate dimension. One with special powers.

Lizzie and the hat don’t exactly hit it off right away, but when her best friend’s newborn is kidnapped by a ring of baby traffickers, Lizzie turns to the hat for help. This leads her deep into her family history and a world she’s never known.

Lizzie gives up everything to rescue the babies. She loses her jobs, and may wind up in jail before it’s over. Along the way, she and the hat may have a new way of making ends meet.

Humorous and fun, The Hat is novella length. Wonderful escapism for an afternoon.

Pick up your copy right here.

One of the posters Lisa posed for to promote this novella.

Lisa Burton

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Adventures in La-La Land, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Coming at you with 1.21 jigawatts of power, it’s Lisa Burton Radio, the only show where I interview the characters from the books you love. My special guest today is Moe Fishbein. He lives in LA, and dabbles a little in skip tracing, vehicular repossession, and even the law on rare occasions. “Welcome to the show, Moe.”

“Good to meetcha, Lisa. But please…my friends just call me Fish.”

“Lawyers make bank, and I’ll bet Los Angeles is an interesting market. Why would someone walk away from that kind of career to go solo?”

“You ever heard of a law firm called Uptight, Rigid, Repressed and Lipshitz? Hey, if somebody – or some government agency – is hassling you and you’ve got the bucks, they’ve got the power, the muscle and the connections to make it go annoy somebody else. I was an associate there for almost five years, then I just couldn’t take another day of defending the rich and powerful for committing the indefensible. So, I told the management committee to take their partnership offer letter and use it as a suppository.

“Now I live at the beach, on top of a cliff that overlooks the little cove where they used to park Jim Garner’s trailer when they were shooting Rockford Files. Now, I just dabble. Practice a little law here…a little vehicle repoing and bounty hunting there. Backed up by my two best buds in the world…Einstein, who’s all but dissertation on his Ph.D. in physics. And Kenny, who became my first bail capture, legal client and employee – all on the same freakin’ day.

“What else do you want to know? Lived in L.A. my whole life. Pretty much grew up next door to the Brady Bunch. Did a little time at UCLA and Valley State. Kicked around restaurants as a sous chef for a few years, while I went to night law school. Quickly became the Uptight, Rigid, Repressed and Lipshitz associate voted most likely to royally piss off the Appellate Court. Go ahead, call me a wise-ass. WTF, everybody does. I’m kind of like John McLane from Die Hard…but without the firepower.

“Sure, we work hard. And we’re pretty damn good at getting the job done – without fracturing too many statutes along the way. But, this is L.A. we’re talking about. With a heavy side order of the entertainment industry. Where EVERYBODY packs a hyphen and valet parks on the whacko side of the street. So, we usually don’t have to go looking for trouble. It’s always got our GPS coordinates.”

“Repo and bounty work is kind of dangerous. Seems to me the courtroom is a safer place to earn a living.”

“That’s why I never go out on a job alone… Hey, Sinatra had his Rat Pack, right? Well, I’ve got Einstein and Kenny. And Beast, my head of security. We all keep an eye on each other’s 6. Kenny is fully fluent in ‘Dude’. He stumbled out of the 70’s a few brain cells lighter than when he face-planted in, and is sniper/scout material when it comes to paint ball guns. Einstein is close to his Ph.D. in theoretical physics, and he never met a neutrino he didn’t like. Especially, the ones that hang around the ignition system of your average deadbeat’s car. And Beast? He started out as a pampered little Beverly Hills lap pooch. Now he’s rockin’ a tiny little body full of dredds, day-glo patches of dyed fur, beads…and whole new attitude. He’s my little go-to guy.”

“Where did you boys go?”

“Where, on our little vacation? Hey, where does anybody who can spell the words Harley and Davidson want to spend their vacation?

“I’ll even give you a little hint: picture more than a million Harley owners. Partying HARD in a Black Hills town of only about 8,000. Hey, forget Tomorrowland. Sturgis, South Dakota HAS to be the freakin’ happiest place on Earth. And me, Kenny, Einstein and another bud, are all lickety-splitting our way down the highway to get there. Then we get picked up by a force of nature named Shawna Kretschman, a bad-ass blonde with her own full-race hog. Not to mention a short fuse, some serious fighting skills and an outfit that leaves zippo to the imagination. So, now we’re all headed for Sturgis to link up with more than a million of our best buds and budettes at the town’s annual Motor Cycle Rally.

“Too bad we never got the memo about the real estate developer who wanted all the bikers gone, so he could sell the area as a family-oriented resort town. And how he’d stop at nothing – including murder – to get it. All of a sudden, bikers and locals are dropping all over town. And me, my lady friend, my buds and my big mouth are all in the developer’s crosshairs.

“We’re all on a weird-ass collision course that includes phony cops and bar fights, pepper spray-laced paint balls, a no-holds-barred wrestling match in a ring full of chocolate pudding and getting adopted by the Sioux nation. Even a little manscaping.

“Y’know, like the old rock ‘n roll song says, “girls just wanna have fun”. Shawna says they also wanna have a lavender-tanked hog and bottomless saddlebags packing everything from high fashion to large caliber playthings; thigh-high leather boots to latex-covered toys.”

“Oh I like her. We sound like kindred spirits, only I carry all my stuff in my sidecar.

“You ride?”

“Oh yeah. It’s a modern build of an old Army motorcycle. That’s a sweet Panhead you rode in here.”

“Funny, Lisa. Mine’s a modern build of an old classic, too. Right down to the puddle of engine oil that’s always on my garage floor. And the hardtail frame that sends so much vibration and road shock my way, it’s paying for my proctologist’s vacation home on Maui…

“Yup, I definitely think you and Shawna would get along. Tell you what—let me give her a quick call, and we can all go out for a fictional drink when we’re done. Get to know each other, have a few laughs…maybe insult the Hell out of a wise guy or a city councilman, or something…”

“I’m curious, Fish. How’d the two of you get together?”

“Actually, we met about five years ago, over a not-quite so stolen RV in Twin Falls, Idaho. The owner was more than a year behind on the payments, so the bank sent us there to repo his rig. And Shawna ended up booking us into Twin Falls’ right friendly little jail…and treating us to a complimentary de-lousing and the jail’s Grand Theft Auto suite. When the boys in blue figured out that we had legitimately repoed the RV, they let us go. Then they found the body of the owner stuffed into a large freezer in the belly of the beast, and Shawna got to give us our official welcome and de-lousing again—this time for murder. When all THAT got sorted out, I ended up inviting her down to Malibu for a few days of surf, sun and whatever.

“She showed up on a surprise visit about a month ago, right as we were getting to hit the road for Sturgis, South Dakota, and the biggest biker party in the business. And, we’ve been ‘whatever-ing’ a ton ever since.”

“What do you think, Fish? Was it kismet that brought the two of you together? Fate? Karma?”

Hah! Nah. Probably just a writer with a vivid imagination and a warped sense of humor. But if you tell Shawna, I swear, I’ll deny every word.”

“Fish, you’re fun, and you certainly don’t leave for any dead airspace. Any last thoughts for our listeners today?”

“Hey, thanks for taking the time to hang with me today, Lisa. This has been a ton of fun. Gotta tell you, you’re good people – even for an android. Seriously, thanks.”

“If you want to learn more about Fish and his friends, pick up the Adventures in La-La Land series by Jeff Lee. I’ll post all the pertinents on the website.

“Don’t forget to tip your waitress by using those sharing buttons. I know Jeff and Fish would appreciate it, and they’ll do the same when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.”

***

Hurricane Kretchman is book number four in the Adventures in La-La Land series, featuring Fish and all his friends.

You can download it directly at this link.

If you’re like many of us and prefer to start at the beginning, you can find all the books at Jeff’s Amazon Author Page.

You can check out Jeff, and follow him, at the following locations:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

 

Jeff Lee Bio:

 

 

Born in New York and raised near San Francisco, I’ve been a copywriter and creative director for some of the country’s most creative ad agencies. Won a lot of silly awards for my creativity and wise-ass sense of humor.

And I’ve been writing in L.A. since before KC even HAD a Sunshine Band.

So, if there’s one thing I know, it’s that, given half a chance, this city can be a never-ending cavalcade of rib-tickling fun — and funny — things, people and approaches to this thrill ride we call life.

 

Like phony televangelists who produce biblical-themed porn for the faithful.

 

Bat-shit crazy showbiz moms.

 

Defrocked talent agents posing as Reality Show producers.

 

The Rose Parade.

 

And on.

 

And on.

 

It never freakin’ ends with this place.

 

There’s always something — or someone — to gape at and giggle over.

 

I tell ya, you’ve just GOT to love this town!

 

It’s the law.

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Interview with SK Nichols #RRBC

S. K. Nicholls is visiting with me today to discuss her book, Naked Alliances. This book is great, and I was honored to be one of the ARC readers. Special deal for you today, it’s on sale for 99¢.

Interview with S.K. Nicholls Author of Naked Alliances

Hi, Craig. It’s freezing up here in Idaho. Park me near that fireplace in the writers cabin and ask Lisa to bring me a cup of hot cocoa. So happy to be here with you today. Oh, Otto! You’re welcome to sit in my lap, but you’re a lot heavier in real life than you look in pictures.

C.B. Please tell us about Naked Alliances, and what compelled you to write it.

S.K.: Naked Alliances is the first book in the Naked Eye Series. It’s a 74,000 word crime romp set in the seedier side of Orlando, Florida that the amusement park industry tries to hide from public view.

My husband is a crime novel aficionado. He reads three crime novels a week, and turned me onto comedy capers that tickled my funny bone. I fell in love with authors like Tim Dorsey, Carl Hiaasen, Tim Baker and Randy Wayne White. I had written a very serious historical fiction novel and needed a break, but wanted to keep writing. He challenged me to write a crime romp, a thriller with a humorous edge, and Naked Alliances was born.

C.B.: What is your book about?

S.N: In it, a lone wolf private investigator reluctantly goes undercover in a nudist resort and teams up with the unlikely custodian of a girl on the run to solve a cold case for the former mayor and bring down the mastermind of a sex trafficking ring. No possibility of encountering a concealed weapon there! With bodies piling up, Richard juggles both cases and works hard to keep his balls in the air and connect the dots before someone else dies. As his pulse-quickening quest for answers leads from the dark corners of Orlando’s Little Saigon to the sunny exposure of the Leisure Lagoon, Richard will be put to the test. Just how much will this Naked Eye have to bear…or bare?

C.B.: What themes do you explore in Naked Alliances?

S.N.: All of my writing explores social issues, from the serious to the amusing. In addition to murder, Naked Alliances looks at a crime we would all like to pretend doesn’t exist, but it is in every city and rural area in the country, sex-trafficking. As a former sexual assault nurse examiner, I witnessed, up close and personal, the extent to which our society is plagued by this crime. Honor, loyalty, the degree to which respect is owed, and justice all play a part. I took liberty with humor in the book, fielding some sexuality issues, as well.

C.B.: Why do you write?

S.N.: Because I have so much to say and nobody will listen to me talk. Writing soothes my soul.

C.B.: When do you feel the most creative?

S.N.: I have bursts of creativity. I’m not sure if that’s related to being bipolar or just the way I was made, but I get on a creative roll that will last for a few weeks, then nothing. As far as timing, I work best in the early morning and late nights.

C.B.: How picky are you with language?

S.N.: That’s a broad question. I’ve never read a crime novel that didn’t have swear words in it, unless it was a cozy. Biker dudes don’t usually ask you to please pass the salt. I’m not saying they can’t be polite, but their language, to be real, must reflect the life they live. Same is true for dialect. If a book takes place in the south, the colloquialisms and potpourri of cultures must be reflected in the writing. Naked Alliances does, so there is southern speak, patois, and with the a few characters being Puerto Rican and Vietnamese, there’s a tiny bit of Vietnamese and Spanish tossed in.

C.B.: When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?

S.K.: The opposite is true for me. I become my characters, and my characters become me. It’s almost like role–playing on a stage, a deeply personal experience.

C.B.: What is your worst time as a writer?

S.N.: Mid-day. I run out of steam around 2 pm and often go take a couple of hours of nap, let my head rest, get a second wind, and come back to write until 2-3 am, then take another nap.

C.B.: Your best?

S.N.: After breakfast and two cups of coffee, or after dinner and two glasses of Cab-Sav or a couple of margaritas.

C.B.: Is there anything that would stop you from writing?

S.N.: Stop me? No. But depression can slow me down. When my dad died and when we lost a young man, Gabriel, who had been living with us for a while to a dirt bike accident, I went into a writing slump. I started playing Pokemon Go to get me out of the house and into the sunshine of the gorgeous parks of Central Florida, socializing with people Gabriel’s age and those older and wiser than me.

C.B.: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?

S.N.: Last February I had the manuscript of Naked Alliances completed and attended Sleuthfest in Boca Raton sponsored by Mystery Writers of America. We were given opportunity to read excerpts from our manuscripts. I was scared to death. Public speaking is not something I’ve done outside of my nursing career. “What if they don’t like it?” also ran through my mind.

I stood up and read my first chapter in the ten minute allotted time. We had been listening to deep, dark, gritty crime stories for an hour and mine was different. Well, the audience laughed at the funny parts, clapped, commented on what a relief it was to hear something lighter, and gave me standing ovation!

Audience and readers are everything to a writer…at least this one. Yes, the story is my baby, but when it is well received, it makes an author’s world brighter.

Sleuthfest, a writer’s convention, is open to both readers/fans and writers. In 2017, it will be held in Boca Raton, February 23-26. We would love to have you and your readers join us. It’s a fun event with keynote speakers, workshops, raffles and banquets. And the hotel serves warm chocolate chip cookies at the desk. All you have to do is ask for one.

C.B.: Is writing an obsession to you?

S.N.: Absolutely! So is Pokemon Go.

C.B.: Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?

S.N.: Always. I’m a firm believer in, “Write what you know.” That’s not to say you can’t do research on a topic that fits your writing. Research is paramount to any good story. But I believe that writing comes more naturally and readers notice when you are deeply familiar with your material.

C.B.: Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?

S.N.: My writing is reality based. Both my published books deal with real world issues. Much of my writing is prompted by reading the news or experiencing real life events. I get it, though. Writing can be an escape from the drama and trauma that is the real world.

C.B.: Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?

Title: Naked Alliances

Genre: Mystery/Crime Thriller/RompNakedAlliances_JPEG

Author: S.K. Nicholls

Blog

Website: sknicholls.com

Publisher: Brave Blue Heron Books

Purchase link

Email: sknicholls@sknicholls.com

Thank you for having me here today, Craig. If Lisa has the plane de-iced, I’m ready to go home now.
If you liked Chablis in John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, you will love Brandi in Naked Alliances. You can learn about Chablis here. Unfortunately, she was another celebrity lost in 2016. Readers who enjoy Florida regional writing, crime thrillers, and mysteries, books on organized crime, murder, private investigator novels, and humor will find Naked Alliances by S.K. Nicholls enjoyable.

e_dsc4834-1S.K. Nicholls is a crime romp novelistBraveBlueHeronBooks vector image that lives in Central Florida where her family has owned and operated Cypress Cove, a nudist resort, since 1964. A Registered Nurse and formerly a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, (S.A.N.E.) she has a special interest in sex-trafficking. Social issues are at the forefront of her writing that is always blended with humor. When she’s not writing, she can be found tracking down Snorlaxes, wandering city parks with the homeless, or sipping margaritas on the bow of a boat. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime, Florida Writers Association, Writers of Central Florida…Or Thereabouts and RRBC.

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Macabre Macaroni, just like Mom used to make

Matricide

“Once more, from the top, please.”

“I thought it would be easier. Just take a knife, slice her in half and be done with it. It isn’t as easy as it sounds. The knife only goes in about six inches, then stops.”

“Where did you do it?”

“The garage. It’s easier to clean up the mess. I’m telling you, crap goes everywhere. I finally had to use some large pruning shears to get her into manageable chunks.”

“And where are these pieces now?”

“The landfill, I suppose. Look, I know that isn’t the right place, but my car’s broke down. I figured if I could bag up the pieces the garbage truck would take them. I had a hell of a time getting her into the garage too.”

“So you premeditated a plan to get her into the garage? Tell us about the plan.”

“I knew I couldn’t do it in the house. I can clean out the garage easier than the carpets, but it was a fight to get her out there. She weighs about the same as I do, and it was all dead weight, you know?”

“So she didn’t go to the garage on her own?”

“They never do.”

“You mean there are more of them? How many more?”

“N, no. This is the first one. I promise never to do it again.”

“You won’t, you sick bastard. We’re going to need those tools as evidence too. You can allow us to search the garage and take the tools, or we can get a warrant. What’s your choice?”

“Will, will I get my tools back? They were my father’s.”

“I don’t think you’ll be needing them where you’re headed.”

“Maybe you ought to get the warrant then.”

“Alright, let’s see if I have this right, before I wake up the judge. You pushed her off the bed, then kicked her over the headboard–”

“Footboard.”

“You kicked her over the footboard. Then you dragged her to the garage, tried to cut her up with a knife, but decided to use some pruning shears instead.”

“Uh huh.”

“Then you placed her pieces in garbage bags and tricked the sanitation company into taking her to the landfill.”

“Yes, sir.”

“How many bags? We need to recover all of them.”

“Th, there were six in all. Four to hold the big parts, and two to hold all the insides. That stuff goes everywhere.”

“Where did you wash up?”

“In my shower. It was hot and sweaty in the garage, and I had crap all over me, so I took a shower.”

“We’re going to have to collect the shower drain too. You seem pretty relaxed about it all.”

“Haven’t slept this well in years.”

“You’re a cold bastard, you know that?”

“I couldn’t take all the sleepless nights, you don’t know how noisy she was at night, and she stunk too. When they get that old they aren’t the same anymore. I sprayed her down with Febreze and gave her a new blanket, but that smell always came back.”

“Good, God. My mother stinks too, but I’d never spray her down with air freshener and cut her up in some dingy garage.”

“Me either.”

“Are you now recanting your testimony?”

“Look all I did was get a new mattress and tried to slip the old one past the garbage man. I never knew it was a crime.”

“Randy at the bar called 911 at 01:34 this morning and said you were in there bragging about matricide.”

“What else would you call it? I got rid of my old mattress. I never knew it was a crime.”

***

With apologies to John Howell who writes these kind of stories better than I could ever hope.

PS: The 99¢ sale for The Playground is going on right now. Take advanatage of the sale price before it goes away.

 

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A guest post that can help us with our characters

I recently read Do Not Wash Hands In Plates, by Barb Taub. This isn't my usual reading, but the strength of Barb's writing on her blog pushed me over the ledge. I'm so glad it did, because this story is wonderful.

One of the things that impressed me was Barb's depictions of the people of India. All of us can use help when it comes to our characters, so I invited her over to help us out.

***

Once upon the Land Before Time (or at least before mobile phones), my two best friends and I decided to leave the US from separate locations and meet up in Europe. To everyone’s shock, Janine, Jaya and I pulled it off—mostly because we went to Luxembourg, a country so small the odds in favor of chance street encounters were almost 100%, but also because Jaya was carrying the BS, a blue suitcase so enormous it took up approximately a third of the country’s square footage and was visible on satellite images. We couldn’t possibly miss.

 

It took over thirty-five years before—in a combination of optimism and failing memories— we recklessly decided to repeat this feat. Hey, we reasoned, now we’ve got smartphones, better credit ratings, wheeled suitcases, medical insurance, and the ability to drink legally. Just to make it more interesting, this time we chose to meet in India, where the odds against the three of us actually linking up were approximately a bazillion to bupkis.

This is the story of three women eating our way across India in search of adventure, elephants, temples, palaces, western toilets, monkeys, the perfect paratha… and the kindness of Indian strangers.

Get your very own copy right here: http://authl.it/4kk

Janine Smith, Jayalakshmi Ayyer, and Barb Taub met at the University of Chicago and have been friends for over four decades.

 

 

In halcyon days BC (before children), Barb Taub wrote a humor column for several Midwest newspapers. With the arrival of Child #4, she veered toward the dark side and an HR career. Following a daring daytime escape to England, she's lived in a medieval castle and a hobbit house with her prince-of-a-guy and the World’s Most Spoiled AussieDog. Now all her days are Saturdays, and she spends them traveling around the world, plus consulting with her daughter on Marvel heroes, Null City, and translating from British to American.

***

“Where do these people come from?”

I’d just spent another incredible day in India. Along with Janine and Jaya, my two friends of over forty years, I visited temples founded by gods, stood at Lands End with my toes dipped into three seas at once, watched as an elephant was parallel-parked, and of course—ate one fabulous meal after another. On the way back to Trevandrum, the ancient capital city of the southern Indian state of Kerala, we stopped at a storefront luggage shop. (Curse my newfound addiction to artisan block-printed textiles!) On this trip, I might have bought a few tablecloths. And sheets. And blankets… Despite my friends’ hints that I’d soon need a ten-step program, I was convinced that all I’d require was a (larger) suitcase.

The head clerk greeted us and offered us chairs. But we’d already learned that lesson several pashmina shawls ago. Once you've accepted the politely proffered seat which even the tiniest booth in India will magically produce, they own you—body and wallet. (And if you let them give you tea, they might own your soul too.)

Undaunted, the clerks began pulling out beautiful suitcases with frames and wheels and matching price tags. When Jaya complained about the cost, one clerk scornfully pulled out a little gym bag for 200-rupees ($3.18) to show what crap you would get for that price. It had three layers of zippers that let it expand to nearly four times its original volume, and no earthly claim to charm.

“Perfect!” I proclaimed.

The head clerk stared and shook his head. As I paid another clerk, he whispered to Jaya, “Where do these people come from?”

I thought about him later that night when I was working on character sheets for my next book. Where do the people, our characters, come from? On this trip, I’d met artisans who were passionate about the works they created, and more than willing to tell me about their lives entwined with that process, complete with photos—and names—of their goats. I’d seen people who were doing ancient jobs with modern twists—the temple guide clad in only the abbreviated dhoti which still managed to contain an up-to-the-minute mobile phone, the lady with the roadside stall who would sell you a coconut water plus your digital photo printed out on the printer running off a battery she had under the counter, the ladies with traditional costume who were plucking tea leaves with cleverly machined tools that only took the most tender top few leaves.

I think that the process of turning these chance-met people into characters for my novels

—believable, three dimensional people who change and grow in response to the truly horrifying traumas we writers put them through—is a lot like giving birth. No, I don’t mean the Hollywood version where the heroine gives a slight wince and then in the next scene she’s got her hair and makeup done and is holding a fat, cooing, blanket-wrapped cherub.

No, my characters get the kind of birth where a parade of complete strangers is peering at your formerly private lady parts just as they achieve maximum bloating and leaking all over everything. Each stranger has an opinion about how you should proceed, none of which matters worth a damn because you’re still the one who has to push a watermelon out an opening the size of an apple. It’s a painful and personal and public and humiliating and rewarding endeavor. And the end is really just the beginning—this red, messy, wrinkled, screaming, pointy-headed little creation is still going to take a lot of time and work and love to grow into the beautiful angel you know in your heart they could become.

Just as there are lots of theories about raising children, there are also lots of approaches to creating fictional characters. I know writers who spend months or even years with their characters before they even think about creating plots or setting, holding mental conversations, picturing them in various scenarios, and imagining their reactions to different events. Other writers are true pantsers, and their characters race through words and scenes sprawled across the pages as fast as they can type. Still others develop plot outlines and character descriptions so detailed the actual writing is the easiest part.

Personally, I’m somewhere in the middle. For my main characters, I usually have character sheets where I try to nail down the details for a word picture of a character. I can’t claim any particular ownership of this process, because (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, isn’t it?) I’ve ‘flattered’ a lot of other lists as I put this one together. (I’m happy to share if anyone wants to send me a request via barbtaub (at) gmail (dot) com.)

Of about a hundred questions (including some 45 of which have been floating around the webs forever), these are my top ten favorite things that I like to know about my character, but readers will probably never learn:

1. What do you know about this character now that s/he doesn’t yet know?

2. What is this character hiding from him/herself?

3. What is a recurring dream or nightmare this character might have?

4. What music does this character sing to when no one else is around?

5. Describe this character’s most embarrassing moment.

6. In what or whom does this character have the greatest faith?

7. Does this character have a vice? Name it.

8. Who does this character most wish to please? Why?

9. Describe this character’s bedroom. Include three cherished items.

10. If this character had to live in seclusion for six months, what six items would s/he bring?

Once I’ve got the character sheets filled out, I like to send characters on a small adventure or two. But I have to be careful, because almost immediately they start to behave in ways I never imagined in those hundred questions. They develop personality quirks, try to grab hold of the entire story line, and generally act like any sheltered child suddenly set free in Disneyland. Sometimes, before I can catch up to them long enough to remind them that they’re really only supporting characters, they’ve starred in short stories of their own.

At the end of each book, I find that looking at the developed characters is like looking at baby pictures. Because I know the person so well, I discover traces of them in their infant faces. But the complex, scarred, evolved people they’ve grown into makes me want to echo that clerk back in India. Where do these people come from?

Writers: what questions do you ask about your characters before you start? And readers, what questions do you wish you could ask about your favorite characters?

 

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Kylie Betzner, on writing comedy

I have something fun for you again today. Kylie Betzner has a new book out, and graciously agreed to share a few tips on weaving comedy into our stories. She also agreed to give us a little promo for her new book.

Kylie calls herself a comedian. Blogger. Coffee junkie. Incurable nerd. And now, author. The titles she is most proud of are sister, auntie, and friend. Growing up in a small town surrounded by cornfields, Kylie had nothing better to do than fantasize about unicorns and elves. As an adult, she still refuses to grow up, and spends most of her time creating stories of comedic fantasy. When she is not writing, which is hardly ever, Kylie enjoys reading, drinking coffee, and spending time with her family and friends. She also runs, although she does not enjoy it so much. Kylie currently resides in Indiana with her sister, nephew, horde of cats, and one very silly dog.

It’s Craft Time—Writer’s Craft, that is: On Weaving Humor into Your Story.

I grew up in a small town. To entertain ourselves, my sister and I would illustrate our own picture books, mostly featuring evil leprechauns versus unicorns, that sort of thing. Almost thirty, I’m still not all grown up and choose to spend my free hours writing works of comedic fantasy. I recently created an author team called The League of Comedy Fantasists to promote writers of light and comedic fantasy.

My debut novel, The Quest for the Holy Something or Other is available for Kindle and in paperback format on Amazon. Check it out!

On with the post!

For the record, I am not an expert on the subject, only someone who has achieved success in writing comedy. And before we start, I just want to make one thing very clear: THERE IS NOTHING FUNNY ABOUT WRITING COMEDY. It’s a serious craft . . . not that you can’t have a little (or a lot) of fun along the way, but know that to write “good” comedy, you have to understand it as a craft. No, not arts and crafts—writer’s craft.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s run with that arts and crafts theme to compare writing comedy with basket weaving. In the same way you’d weave an intricate design into a basket you should weave humor into the characters and narrative of your story. By the time you’re completed your basket—er—story, the design—or—narrative should be cohesive and pleasing to your audience.

How do you achieve a work of fiction that successfully utilizes humor? Simple answer. Difficult execution.

First, you must identify your own sense of humor: dry, witty, deadpan, quirky, subtle, or laugh-out-loud—this will dictate how you incorporate humor. People who prefer subtle humor will weave it into the narrative through word choice and those who enjoy laugh-out-loud humor will rely more on situational humor and slapstick.

Regardless, here are some ways to include humor in your writing:

• Narrative: Witty phrases and word choice from the narrator can provide subtle humor that both young adults and adults can enjoy. Keep narrative upbeat and energetic. Use of irony, paradoxes, and juxtaposition in the narrative can serve to provide subtle humor. Not to be bias, but this is my favorite way to incorporate humor in my own works. This is where the majority of my humor exists, in the narrative through witty observations of life and playful wordplay. This is where my author’s voice thrives.

• Dialogue: Probably one of the easiest places to include humor. Have your characters tell jokes, ask dumb questions, state the obvious, and make witty comebacks. Witty banter between two or more characters is highly entertaining and quotable, which is probably why readers love my version of Sir Kay so much. He’s always making sarcastic remarks and slamming his companions for their naivety.

• Situations: While outlining your story, plan situations that your reader will find humorous. Think beyond the ordinary and force your characters outside their comfort zones. For example, in my own book, I have Sir Kay, an antisocial homebody, forced onto a quest with his young page who jibber jabbers the whole way. He’s forced to encounter adventure and endure the company of others. There is also a scene at a tavern that includes midget wrestlers. It’s easy to draw humor from that.

• Names: One gimmick I employ in all of my writing is poorly named protagonists. That’s how the reader knows who the main character is. The female lead in my Arthurian parody is named Pig, for reasons one might not expect;) And in my upcoming novel, the main character is known as simply as Mongrel. Some comedians would caution you against abusing this trick, and so will I. Giving every single character a “funny” name is a bad idea, hence why I reserve this trait for my protagonists. Like any trick, overusing it will numb readers to it. Plus, readers won’t take them very seriously. One or two joke names stands out in a good way, but a novel full of “Joe Fisterbottoms” and “Fanny Packs” will not fair well against more “sophisticated humor.

Now that you know where comedy goes, how do you write comedy? Well, this is the hard part. It’s easy to plan situational humor in the outline, but planning puns and witty quips cannot so easily be planned. My advice, plan the story first. Get down the story you want to tell. In my opinion, writing should reveal some truth about life, and comedy is no exception. Comedy is a means to convey serious messages under the guise of entertainment. Some of the greatest comedians and comedic writers draw their inspiration form painful experiences or from current issues important to them, many of these are serious issues. In his novel, Men at Arms, Terry Pratchett makes a rather serious statement about guns and power, but I was laughing the entire time. He also includes an orangutan in most of his novels, because of his love for this endangered species. As a writer of comedic fantasy, I myself take advantage of imaginary character and worlds to parody other works of fantasy while satirizing current cultural issues, making them the most relevant and irrelevant stories ever told. But I digress . . . start with the story, keeping the theme in mind. Play around with the humor. Let your sense of humor run rampant in the pages. Adding, tweaking, and deleting puns, quips, and wit can be done in editing.

Finally, my do’s and don’ts of writing parody.

• Do have fun. If you’re not having fun, the reader won’t either.

• Take it seriously. Writing comedy is a craft, not a joke.

• Don’t take yourself too seriously. This is supposed to be fun.

• Be true to yourself and your own sense of humor.

• Don’t copy other comedic writers. Find your own voice.

• Ask for feedback early on. Gauge reader response.

• Don’t expect everyone to “get” your humor. Not going to happen.

• Do look at the story and the humor as a whole, not separate things.

Do these things, and I’m sure your basket—er—story will turn out great! Wait, one more thing. My absolute best advice is to read good examples of comedy. Terry Pratchett, Gerald Morris, Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams, are all good examples of competent humorists. Learn from the masters before you attempt your own.

I just want to thank Craig Boyack for inviting me to write on the subject. Comedy is something of which I am extremely passionate, and I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts on the subject.

Don’t forget to check out my novel, The Quest for the Holy Something or Other, an Arthurian parody centered on the Grail Quest. If you enjoy Terry Pratchett, Monty Python, Gerald Morris, Douglas Adams, and/or the new Merlin series, you’ll get a kick out of this book.

The Quest for the Holy Something or Other:

Enter the Realm of Camelot, home of famous legends: King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, and Merlin—but this isn’t their story. Meet Pig, a humble gong farmer who dreams of the glories of Camelot. Her dreams become reality–or so she thinks–when she becomes Sir Kay’s page. What starts off as a joke soon becomes the adventure of Pig’s life when Merlin sends the knights on a quest for the Holy Gift Box–er–Bread Basket–whatever it is! On their quest, they face many knight-worthy, and some not-so-knight-worthy, foes: an insane pond dweller, several greedy salespeople, and an overzealous cache seeker, all the while fighting against time, mostly each other, and the most infamous villain of all—change. The Quest for the Holy Something or Other is a fresh and funny take on a well-known legend, with engaging characters, some rather good jokes, and something that starts with S, but it isn’t important.

***

This book sounds like a ton of fun to me. I’m preparing this post on the Saturday before it goes live. I just bought my copy and am certain to enjoy it.

You can contact Kylie at the following places:

Blog:https://litchicblog.wordpress.com/

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24765025-the-quest-for-the-holy-something-or-other

Twitter:https://twitter.com/kbbetzner

Amazon Sales: http://www.amazon.com/Quest-Holy-Something-Other-ebook/dp/B00RY5KO6E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422733891&sr=8-1&keywords=kylie+betzner

 

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