Tag Archives: ideas

Punking out today

I’m not doing much of anything today. Everyone is home, and the dogs are noisy to the point of nuisance.

I could have done some reading. Could have done some writing, but they both require a quiet place.

Did a lot of internet surfing today. Found some nice reviews for Lanternfish. Seems odd to me that the USA reviews post on the UK site, but the UK reviews don’t post on the US site. I have a great review on the UK site too.

Lanternfish is thing. People seem to be enjoying it. If you haven’t picked up your copy, you still have time to do so and tell your friends, “I was into Lanternfish before it was cool.” Think how much you’ll enjoy that.

All you have to do is click on the cover, over there.

I managed a bunch of daydreaming and added a ton of lines to a notebook about future stories. This is pre-storyboard stuff, but they make cool vignettes, scenes, characters, monsters, etc.

It helped with the ideas that the Harry Potter and Magical Creatures marathon is on television today.

With tomorrow being Super Sunday, I doubt I’ll be any more productive. I have Monday off, so maybe there’s hope for it. I have a wonderful book I’m reading, and the mashup story could use another chapter.

I left Jason Fogg inside a skyscraper trying to steal some corporate documents to help the group gain an advantage. I’m pretty sure he’s going to get thrown off the building. He’s Jason, so he can fog-out before hitting the street. I can still build some tension in that his thrower is watching, and he has to time it right to convince the guy that he splatted on the ground.

Jason’s stories were always in first person, and it would be great in a scene like this. It doesn’t work in the mashup, because all the players get time in the spotlight.

I also woke up Tituba the sourdough starter. She’s bubbling away and ready to bake. I might do some of that too.

I hope all of you are having a great weekend. I couldn’t care less about the game. It’s the ones who got there on a bad call vs the ones who got there on a lucky coin toss for possession. There will be the advertisements, some great craft beer, and my wife promised hot goat cheese dip with poblano drizzled over the top. Go craft beer and goat cheese! Nom.

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Shifting Gears, again

With the end of October, and my first day off in November, I found myself out at the writing cabin once more.

Lisa Burton, my robotic assistant, had on her skull jeans but this time they were tucked into some knee-high black boots. That's as good a sign of the changing seasons as any.

“Are you tired of your Morticia dress now?” I asked.

“No. I love the dress, but I'm not in love with the straight hair. I think I like my curls more than I thought. Besides, Macabre Macaroni is over and it's time to move on.”

“Yeah, my promotions are over too. There is an extended blog tour, but I have very little to do with that now. It will run without me, other than checking comments.”

Lisa went about her chores, dropped off some coffee for me, and I dug into an advanced reading copy of a great novel a friend provided.” I made it through four chapters when Lisa interrupted. “Lorelei is here and she wants to see you.”

“She knows where my office is. Tell her – ” I yelled down the hall, “Come on back, Lorelei.”

Lorelei wore dirty sweats and her hair was a mess. Her feet were tucked into a pair of old slipper socks. This is the beautiful Greek Muse who inspired so many wonderful ideas. The classic beauty who enjoyed being looked at.

“Um, hi… That's a new look for–“

“Go ahead and say it. I'm fat!” She collapsed onto the sofa in my office. Lisa sat beside her and hugged her while casting me a concerned look.

“What's new in your life? It's been a while since you visited us.”

“Nothing's new. You've been out promoting since September. Lisa went on her tour for the second Experimental Notebook. Even your Macabre Macaroni stories were written months ago.”

“Look, I've been writing, I swear.” I opened the app on my iPad and turned it toward her. “See, these are the short stories about The Enhanced League.”

“Oh sure.” She wiped a tear away. “I can still inspire a decent bit of micro-fiction. Maybe a short story on a good day. I get tired even thinking about novels.”

“I intend to get back to the Yak Guy this month. It's languishing at about forty-two thousand words. It needs another fifty-K or so to be finished.”

“I'm sure you'll come up with something. At least you have your outline to go off of.”

“Sure, I have an outline, but the story drifted back in Act one. I need you to get me through it.”

Lorelei wiped her eyes and sat a little straighter. “You do? I mean, that's more than a short story, but since it's already started I might manage it. It's going to require a bit of working out, maybe some fruits and vegetables along with all the ambrosia I've been drinking.”

“Yeah, it's going to take an effort on my part too. I haven't looked at it since the first promotions back in September. I need to read it, check the outline, and get back to work. It's going to be different than guest blogging, working on short stories, and all that.”

Lisa said, “Sounds like things are going to get lively around here.”

“I have a list of short stories, and I can't promise they won't get some keyboard time too. Is that alright?”

“Of course,” Lorelei said. “I sent them to you.”

“You sent me some bigger ideas. I don't know if I can make them into novels though. I made notes, but they might only make it to novella length. Is that okay?”

“I don't know. I just want you to be creative. You have to decide if there's a market for them or not. Let's work through The Yak Guy Project. If you get it finished, maybe I can figure out how to make them longer.”

“I think they have merit. I like the one about a story from the monster's point of view. I just don't know if it should be a tragedy or have some kind of heroic ending to it. I also like the one about the couple who have to live underground for three months to avoid the parasitic sun.”

“Parasitic sun?”

“Yeah, that's what I decided to call it. A gas giant planet ignited. It's much larger than the planet with people, but dwarfed by the real sun. That way it only becomes a problem when the two pass each other in orbit. It's like two suns for a short period of time. I even came up with a title, Estivation.”

“I like it. I'll work on them both, but let's get Yak Guy finished first.”

“I'd better make some time to read through it again.”

Lisa took Lorelei's hand. “You'll be back in goddess shape in no time. In fact, let's give Craig some space so he can read. I'll do your nails, it will make you feel better, I promise. Maybe we'll look at your hair too, if that's okay.”

***

There you have it. Looks like I have some work ahead of me, but it's fun work. There could be some word metrics this month.

*For all the new followers, Lisa Burton is my personal assistant and the spokesmodel for my writing career. She's also a robot. Lorelei is my Muse, like actual classic Greek Muse.

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The Idea Mill #14

I've gathered enough material for another Idea Mill. I've gained a few followers, so I'll explain what these are. I have some push feeds set up to send me news articles that appeal to me. This is one source of ideas that might make it into my fiction. Some get used, some don't. Maybe one of these articles will kick your own Muse in the pants.

The first one is about what I'll call solar ink. It can be used on a printer to make paper thin solar cells. If you are writing a science fiction story, this kind of thing can change the entire structure of your world. No more giant electricity corporations, no more dams across our rivers, no more nuclear plants.

“Hey Herb, cleaning the rain gutters again?”

“Yup. You?”

“I printed a bunch of new solar cells. That last snowstorm played Hell with my electricity.”

Maybe you want to coat your spaceship with them. As long as you stay within one solar system you have power, and the ability to step outside and replace them. Read the article here.

This next one really gets me, and I intend to use it myself. My outline about bio-hackers and grinders is the one that's languishing right now. It holds the most promise, and I don't want to force it. This may be the item it needs to move the outline ahead.

It gives us a current update about opium poppies, and how most of the the medical version is grown in Tasmania. Today scientists are trying to produce a genetically modified yeast that will do the same thing. There is so much potential here for a story that I can see a dozen ideas.

Maybe you like power struggles and thrillers. This is a play to take a profitable business away from simple farmers and move it into the lab. After the farms are forced to grow a different crop, the price is whatever the patent holders demand. Hold the patients hostage for everything they have, just to make the pain go away.

The middle ground might be a story along the lines of The Untouchables. The elite group is trying to shut down bakeries owned by the mob.

In my case, it's a yeast, of course it will get out of the lab. It becomes the new street drug, and even organized crime can't control it. It invades our food sources. It's in the very air we breathe, and maybe damp areas are to be avoided, or limited to how many hours you can spend there. People will certify 94% opiate free bread and beer, as the best you can get. Home baking and brewing will disappear, except for those who want to make drugs. Right now, I'm leaning that direction. I might do something else with it, but I'm going to use it. Read the article and see if it inspires your fiction. I'm going to use it like background setting in my grinder story.

This last one tugs at my heartstrings. I have no idea what the difference between the Northern and Southern white rhino is, but there has been a death in the family. A female Northern white rhino died in a European zoo this week. Leaving four Northern white rhinos on Earth. One lives in San Diego at the zoo. Three live in Sudan under 24 hour armed guard.

One of the ones in Africa is a male, the others are all female. They saved parts of the dead female in hopes of harvesting an egg. The saddest part of the story is the remaining population is too old and sick to reproduce. It appears a healthy Southern cow could carry one of their calves. I have to ask why they haven't tried this decades ago with possibly a bit larger gene pool. Humans spend money on opiatic yeast for Christ's sake. Read the obituary, I mean article here.

There is a pretty good story in any extinction. I have to ask, what if it were us? This might be more of a short story, but the last man on Earth discovers the last woman after decades of wandering. They're names are Adam and Eve. Too bad they're too old to reproduce.

Traditional Idea Mill posts involve me detailing a corny story incorporating all the ideas into one. These articles are pretty far removed from each other, but here goes nothing:

Adam, the last man on Earth, discovers a stash of solar ink. He thinks he can make new solar cells if he can find a printer that will still work. He goes searching through abandoned buildings, until he stumbles across Eve. He hasn't seen another human in ten years.

She's tending her vegetable garden, and Adam approaches carefully. They strike up a conversation and laugh about the suggestions behind their names. Neither one of them is capable of reproduction. He temporarily abandons his quest for a printer, or enough parts to make a few copies. They get lit on the homemade beer she brews which is very much like laudanum from the combo of alcohol and opiate yeast.

Over to you. Do any of these ideas spark your imaginations? Let me hear in in the comments.

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Idea mill #7

We haven’t had an Idea Mill post in quite a while. I save interesting articles that sparked my imagination, then I post the links for everyone. I’ll add a bit about where my mind takes me, and you can add ideas in the comments.

The first one is about the plant, wolfsbane. In this article, a gardener handled the plant, and died from the exposure. This looks like an awesome possibility for a cozy mystery. I don’t particularly believe the story, but it would make an interesting witchcraft story too. Miss Marples could have a lot of fun here.

This article discusses secret military bases, and the conspiratorial projects they might be working on. There seems to be no end to conspiracy theories, but a story can be so much better if it’s based upon one that’s popular. There is a wealth of possibility here. If testing biological weapons on the citizens of San Francisco doesn’t have a story in it, nothing does.

This story is about a dog. Who doesn’t like a dog story? Essentially, this adorable pit bull was dog napped. The good people in Massachusets identified him from a microchip and returned him to his owner. The cool part is that the dog made a trek from Florida to Salem. Of all places on Earth, the dog went to Salem. With its history of witchcraft, there has to be a story in there somewhere.

Take one, or more, of these articles and ask yourself “what if.” What if a secret military installation was creating a biological weapon using wolfsbane? What if an intern found out, but instead of blowing the whistle, she sent her familiar to Salem to recruit help from more powerful family members?

Can you find your next story in these articles? Tell me about it in the comments.

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The Idea Mill #4

Okay, I took a W. A. G. at just how many of these I’ve posted. I decided to number them so I don’t wind up reusing the names.

These articles are pushed to me via my RSS reader and Zite Magazine. When I find a good one I bookmark it until I have three, then I share them with you. These aren’t the kind of things to make a whole story about, but they can put a little pep into your story when you need it.

The first one has speculative fiction written all over it. It’s about decapitation. There’s more legend here than hard news, but it really gets the imagination moving. How many pirates could you save by walking past them after your own beheading? Read it here: Decapitation. I remember Jayne Mansfield too, but I was very young when this happened.

The next one reminds me of those movie girls who can do anything with a Bobbie pin. This is the “Swiss Army Knife” of hair clips. I can see Angelina Jolie or Scarlett Johansson whipping one of these out of her hair to get out of a tight spot. My own character, Lisa the robot, could have used one of these. There’s a link in there that shows more photos. Check out Hair Clip.

The third one sounds a bit like witchcraft. It’s modern medicine using a bacteria found in dirt. They did the whole genetic modification thing to it, of course. It cannot thrive in too much oxygen. It just so happens that cancerous tumors have a much lower level of oxygenation than healthy tissue. They tested it on animals, and ultimately one human. This stuff eats the tumor, and dies out when it reaches healthy tissue. The story has wonderful descriptions of lancing the infection and pus, if you need to increase the squirm factor in your manuscript. Read the news article here: Bacteria.

The bacteria begs for a speculative fiction writer to ask, “What if?” I also like to figure out, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Maybe it increases the human lifespan by 50 years. This could bankrupt the economy, the health care system, Social Security, and the insurance industry. Bring on the distopian settings.

Maybe scientists tested too soon and the patient turns into a raging monster. Scarlett Johanssen has to use her special hair clip to decapitate it.

Have fun with these, and let me know if any if them lubricates your imagination.

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Houseflies and Elephants

People seem to be enjoying my new story ideas. This one isn’t a vignette, but I decided to tell you about it anyway.

My Muse, Lorelei, really poured it on a couple of weeks ago. She threatened to leave me if I didn’t start writing again soon. Then she sprinkled something in my peaches or something. I had a couple of pretty good story ideas, and blogged about them. I also had a ton of ideas for the story I just started. I’ll withhold those, because they’re mostly enhancements and not the main story.

Things are trickling off now, but I got one in a dream last night. They don’t all come as dreams, but this one did. It’s not even a vignette. It’s just a flash of something, but it was in vivid HD color. I was with someone, and I wasn’t in Idaho. It was a bit more tropical. A group of pink and grey cockatoos flew into the trees around us. Someone said they aren’t supposed to be here. (Apparently it wasn’t Australia.) There was a comment about them being feral, and something about global warming.

This one feels pretty useless, but I’m putting it in the old cauldron anyway. I know exactly what kind of birds they were, and they have an Australian name that I’m too lazy to look up. I heard somewhere they are pests.

The next one seems to work much better as a story idea. It’s been really hot in Idaho. It’s so hot that whenever someone opens a door, the flies invade. Why wouldn’t they, we have an air conditioner. It got pretty bad when the grandkids were here, because the door opens every 3.7 seconds.

This probably sounds pretty old school, but I’m a bathtub kind of guy. I know everyone prefers showers this century, but I love my bathtub. Every day, I have to pluck two to four dead flies from the tub before running my water. I could take a photo, but nobody wants to see that.

I was on my 4:00 AM bathtub cleaning this morning and said to myself, “This is where houseflies come to die.”

image

“How about that?” I have this cool idea about these people in Africa. The elephant graveyard is an African legend that rivals King Solomon’s Mines. I know everyone hates the idea of ivory these days, but at one time it was quite acceptable everywhere. The idea of thousands of tusks lying about on top of the ground is a treasure hunter’s dream come true. Carry them to market, never fire a shot, live like a king for the rest of your life. Since this would be an historical piece, it works out pretty well.

You can bet this one went in the cauldron too. It was immediately drawn to the vignette about the African couple.

Who knows, maybe the cockatoos will like the guy with the yak. Maybe the yak walked to Australia because of a land bridge or something. I just keep adding stuff to the cauldron and letting it blend together. There’s still an old idea about the ghost of Steve McQueen in there somewhere. Maybe he can figure out what to do with the cockatoos.

I’m off to have my first pumpkin beer of the year. It’s just a Shocktop, but I’m a pumpkin beer junkie. I’m sure more pumpkin libations will show up soon. The Shocktop is like the first butterfly of summer.

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Bachelor Weekend, and a Haunting

Old What’s Her Face* went south along with the grandkids. She’s got some visiting to do, and I’m left to my own devices.

Tonight it’s a cold beer, probably some peaches, and a good book. Then I’m going to budget editing and writing into the rest of the weekend. Somehow, I’ll figure it out. Saturday date time is out, so I’ll work on my stuff.

It wasn’t a haunting, exactly. Lorelei, my Muse visited me Wednesday and wants me to start writing again. This is when those little vignettes come to me. She’s been pouring it on thick lately, and it’s time to get on with it. Regular readers may remember the bit about the couple in Africa.

Writing it down is one way of remembering it for later. This vignette came to me on the morning commute. Who knows whether it will make it into a story, or not, but the good ones usually do. Here we go:

I awoke in the middle of a dry lake bed. The throbbing in my head was less important than the disorientation. Where the hell am I, and how did I get here?

Heat waves rose from the encrusted pan of the lake and obscured the mountains. I sat up slowly; now the throbbing was important. I put my hands alongside my aching temples, they were immediately wet with sweat. How long have I been here? A slight breeze only made it hotter, like fanning a fire.

A black dot bounced from side to side in the heat waves, but it was a long ways off. It was easier to see the sky. A lone vulture circled, but he was up pretty high and not worrying about which of my parts were the most succulent.

When I looked back down, the back dot was closer. God, I hope it’s a jeep. I stared for a long time and it was coming straight at me. The closer it got I decided it was a cow.

I stumbled to my feet and looked around. There was nothing but white salt pan as far as I could see, except in the direction of the cow. Mountain peaks rose above the heat waves and I decided that was the direction to go. Maybe there would be shade. Three steps later, and I was on my knees. How long until sundown?

The cow was closer now. It had horns, and it’s long hair was moving in the breeze. A cow on a salt pan isn’t completely unusual, but a long haired cow in the desert was unheard of. It stared at me and plodded forward. Is it going to hurt me? Does it matter stuck in the middle of nowhere?

The cow resolved itself into a yak. It was black and white, and wore a saddle. It walked right up to me and stopped. Then he spoke, “There’s a water skin behind the saddle. Get on and let’s get moving.”

I must have been hit on the head. My fuzzy logic figured maybe a drink of water would clear the cobwebs, then I could ask the yak what happened. Crazy, but that’s what I thought at the time.

The water was warm, but it was wet. I grabbed a fist full of yak hair to steady myself and stepped across the saddle. What the heck, at least it was a way out of here.

The yak turned and headed back the way he came. From my vantage point, I saw his tracks and he followed them perfectly.

“Where are you taking me?”

“To see him.”

“Is it far?”

“Pretty far. I didn’t grow this fur coat around here.”

***

And that’s all I got. Another vignette that I need to dwell on. I may have to write these stories, because they are pretty intriguing. Maybe this guy can be in the Africa story somehow. They have plenty of salt pans. Maybe not.

This one feels more like a fantasy, but could be paranormal. No sign of science fiction here.

I have two new molecules rattling around in my head. More will join them. When they start playing nice it usually becomes a story. There are many old molecules there too. Sometimes they make friends with one of the old ones and become a story. A future story. I already have one for now. Or maybe they’re good enough to move forward. I don’t know.

*Not my wife’s real name

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