Tag Archives: Lisa Burton

Escaping the storm

I got started at the writing cabin fairly early today. Lisa Burton, my robotic assistant was in a snit.

“I don’t know how to flatten my skull so I can cosplay one of those Boondish people in your story.”

“Don’t worry about it. If they get any lines at all, they’re going to be minimal.”

“I have some adjustable parts so I can change my facial features, but not to that extent.”

“Maybe you can try a hair bump. A big one.”

“It would have to be big, but I might try it.”

“I wouldn’t worry about it. The root monsters get plenty of dialog, and you haven’t tried to dress up like one of them.”

“I suppose that’s true. So what are we writing today?”

“James is wounded, he’s had his vision, and they’re still running from the big storm. They don’t know it, but they’re on their way to Bungo Bungo.”

“What’s with all these names?”

“I’m trying to borrow from the Pacific islands as much as possible. I set Lanternfish in a fantasy world to avoid comparison to another famous Pirate adventure. I’m also avoiding any Carribean references if I can.”

“Got it, so what’s on the agenda?”

“James has to process his vision, then make a new plan without all the data he’d like.”

“Doesn’t that happen in all the stories?”

“You caught me. I think it’s an important part of character building. Because they have the second ship, and all the extra mouths, they’re running low on food. They can’t just pull into McDonalds and fill up. Serang even has them using boards and hand lines to catch fish.”

“That calls back to her own book, so that’s kind of cool.”

“When I was a kid, people used to troll in boats with a board wrapped in fishing line. It’s totally not PC today, but everyone called such a rig a Chinaman.”

“Oh, so you made the connection in your mind that Serang would know about this way of fishing.”

“Yeah, but I don’t come right out and call it that. Besides, it’s a fantasy world, there is no China.”

Lisa left to try bumping her hair to absurd levels, and I went to work. James processed his vision, healed his burns, but not his bad back, and they escaped the storm. They made it to the floating island called Bungo Bungo, and even stepped on the beach. Then I had to give up for the day.

Bungo Bungo is a magical place, and because it moves around, it’s going to have a variety of things from all over the world occupying it. I’m pretty excited to get going on this section, but ran out of gas.

I started the weekend at about 31000 words, added around 2000 on Saturday. Sunday I didn’t do anything. I never broke 40000 words, but I’m thiiiiiis close. That means today came in at just under 7000 words, and that’s the best day I’ve had in a long time.

The magical beer horns sounded, and were chased into the office by a pair of root monsters. Beer sloshed all over the floor. I scooped one up before the monsters made a mess of things.

Something tells me Lisa is going to put the monsters back in the vegetable crisper while I’m at work.

Lisa Burton

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I think it works…

At not quite 3700 words, I pushed my pirate hat back on my head and looked across the room at Lisa Burton, my robot assistant. She wore her Serang costume and twirled the huge guandao about.

Lisa Burton

“I think I accomplished what I set out to do today. The Fulminites are terrifying, and no root monsters were killed in this adventure.”

“You killed the Fulminites though.”

“Did I, or did they do that themselves?”

Flattop, the root monster, sat beside my iPad. “Whew! Modders all go splat, but okey dokey at the end. Then get to throw hailstones.”

“I thought you guys deserved a bit of fun.”

“I like how Fēngbào came out,” Lisa said.

“He’s a god that Serang knows about. He brings the monsoon… violently, I might add. Not a lot more than that, which is kind of the Lanternfish style. No in depth legends to slow the story down. He just is what he is and brings the rain.”

“And thunder, and lightening, and waterspouts, and wind that can level a city…”

“Okay. He’s kind of over the top, but that’s also Lanternfish style. I worried about this scene for weeks, but sometimes you just have to put on your pirate hat and hack away at it. I can change it if my critique group thinks I need to, but it’s hard to change something that doesn’t exist.”

“Speaking of your group, did you get the final section of Grinders sent out?”

“Yup, it’s on the way to them. I’m not going to worry about it, until I hear back from them. You did some good work today, Serang played an important role on Kiriwina.”

“Modders like those names. Kiriwina, Matacucu, and Rakiura.”

“I pulled some of them from a map of the Pacific Islands, and changed some with Google translate. That’s how I came up with the name Fēngbào, too.”

“Modders not know Booble slate.”

“It’s okay, buddy. Only I have to know that.”

“So how come Serang didn’t get all torn up in the explosion like everyone else?”

“I don’t need her to be wounded, and maybe she wasn’t as close to the epicenter as the others were. Don’t think about it too much.”

Lisa sat down the weapon, then picked up the bamboo flute. “I’d love to be able to play this thing for real.”

“You have been, haven’t you?”

“Robot girls don’t have lungs, genius. I’ve been holding it to my lips then playing back a soundtrack.”

“It helped me with my writing. Maybe you can play that Kill Bill number one more time.”

“You know that was played on a pan flute and not one of these, don’t you?”

“You fake it well. Maybe that’s all any of us can do. I hope I fake my stories well enough to make people enjoy them.”

***

Back to the office tomorrow, but 3600 words, and a difficult section out of the way is a good day every day.

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Fun on Matacucu

I closed my iPad and looked across the desk at Lisa in her pirate garb.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“I’ve written myself into a bind and need time to think. I managed 1200 words, but it pales in comparison to yesterday.”

“You changed the slaves into natives that practice head-binding. That was kind of cool.”

“Yeah, not a lot of explanation, but it adds to my world building. Do you know people practiced the shaping of infant skulls all over the world, but had no way of communicating with each other about it? It’s kind of amazing they would come up with the same bizarre practice in different cultures like that.”

“Yes, I have full Internet access and looked some of it up for you, remember?”

“Yeah, thanks. I need to do some serious thinking here.”

“How long do you think it will take?”

“No telling, but it makes sense. I passed 30,000, so this is the middle slog. You know how I love the middle slog.”

“What’s the issue, maybe I can help.”

“The pirates captured a treasure ship. They decided to divide the weight between the two ships, and take the galleon with them. She’s a pretty worthless ship and not much more than a merchantman.”

“So, basically, more troubles.”

“Yeah that’s kind of a theme in fiction. They worked through some dangerous waters and are within sight of Matacucu. I need them to approach the temple of the exploding monks, but I don’t want them to learn too much from this stop.”

“Okay…”

“I don’t know exactly what my landing party is going to do there. I want to build my con-man characters up a bit. Readers are due for a real fight scene, because the galleon didn’t put up much of a fight.”

“What if they learn nothing at all, then wind up in a fight. Your con-man maybe picked up on some valuable information they can discuss later. You can shoot your way out of the harbor and keep it mildly adventurous.”

“That could work, but I need to think about it. I’ve also teased the exploding monks for 30,000 words, and it’s time to see what they are capable of. Readers have earned that now. The only problem is it has to be devastating and horrible.”

“Then write it that way. What’s the big deal?”

“It almost needs to be bad enough to kill off a character we’ve gotten to know. Maybe even a root monster or two.”

Flattop climbed my desk drawers and stood between us. “You would kill modders?”

I clasped my hand over my eyes and lowered my face. “I don’t know. There are lots of you guys and not all of you have names. Then there is a new one people haven’t gotten attached to yet. That’s the problem. Readers love you guys far beyond anything I expected.”

“Modders are helpful.”

“You are, but at last count, I think there were nineteen of you. That’s adding on Shrimp, the new guy.”

“We might get by with only seventy-two.”

“What!” Lisa said.

“They don’t understand numbers. I think he’s trying to be helpful.”

“You’re going to have to figure it out,” Lisa said. “You can do some writing tomorrow, but then you aren’t off again until Wednesday.”

“I know, and there is a big monster just over the horizon. He might even be a god. They’re going to flee from him as much as anything else. I know they’re going to wind up elsewhere and gain some better intelligence on the monks. That’s going to be a big section.”

“I thought the second volume of a trilogy was supposed to be the shortest one.”

“It is, but it’s not looking that way here. After Matacucu, they wind up on Bungo Bungo. That’s a big section. Then they have to wind up in pseudo-Japan, which I haven’t even named yet. That’s another big section. Then they have to fight with their own admiralty, implant some spy’s and a special army into the war, then gain their minor victory amidst tragedy.”

“This isn’t looking like the 90,000 word piece you had planned.”

“I know, and that’s why I need to stop and think. I’m committed to bring this in as three volumes, even if they’re big ones.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to get a haircut.”

“I could fix you up right here. Maybe a nice pompadour?”

“Thanks, but no thanks. I think I’ll go see Chuck the barber.”

“Chicken.”

“You know it.”

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Getting back in the groove

I landed at the writing cabin early this morning. I had the little gyrocopter buzz a mammoth and her calf to clear the runway, but it was a piece of cake after that. Frozen ground is almost as good as asphalt.

Lisa met me coming up the stairs. She wore a green, knee-length, Christmas dress with furry white trimming. “What are you doing here? Thought you were done for the year.”

“Not by a long shot. I stepped back to do promo, but never intended to take a longer break. How’s the coffee situation?”

“I can make some. I have the cabin wired as a smart home, so all I have to do is send a signal to the coffee maker.”

“Very efficient. I’d expect nothing less from you.”

“Go into the lobby and check out my Christmas tree. I’ll bring you a cup when it’s ready.”

The tree was one of those artificial pencil trees that are so popular now. Lisa always was on top of trends, but she decorated it with shapes she’d cut out from old compact disks and circuit boards. She had stars and reindeer, there was even a pair of high-heels in shiny compact disk silver. “What’s with these ornaments?”

“Those are things robot girls like. I didn’t think you were coming out until next year.” She opened a large box with bubble-gum pink baubles. “Do you want to help me finish decorating it?”

“Tough to pass up, but I need to start writing again.” I left her to it, then went to my office.

The first step was to reread a few chapters of HMS Lanternfish. This helped to get back into the swing of things. When I finished that, Lisa came back.

“I’ll go get my pirate outfit. Didn’t know that’s where you were working. Do you want the root monsters?”

“Where are they? I assumed they went home.”

“They’re in the vegetable crisper drawer.”

“Oh-my-God. Are they okay in there?”

“Oh yeah. It slows them down and keeps them fresh. They drank all your beer the other day, though.”

“No, then. I don’t need their mischief just yet. My pirates have so many problems I don’t know how they’re going to deal with them all. I’m going to have to address a bit here and there. I’m going to deal with this treasure galleon on the horizon, then address some of it in the cool down phase.”

She placed a steaming mug on my desk. “Holler if you need anything. I’m going to work on my tree.”

My crew took the galleon, and it posed yet another problem. Throughout their adventures, they’ve never had enough. They didn’t have enough cannon, they needed munitions, they needed crew. This time they have all of those things. Sailcloth, food, whatever they need. The galleon provided them with too much.

Gold is heavy, despite what the movies show us. You don’t just toss gold bars around like potatoes. A bellyful of gold will make Lanternfish draft lower in the sea, and limit her mobility in a fight. They even have to distribute it correctly to keep the ship running true.

There’s also the question of how to cashier the crew when there’s too much. They can’t pile it under cots and hammocks. They also lose motivation to continue on with the war effort. The crew is tasked with warfare, but could easily retire to a nice island or villa somewhere with this much gold.

Most of my time was spent in the cool down phase while James speculated on the logistics. He’s a worrier, and that suits his character.

Lisa returned with fresh coffee, and an outfit change.

Lisa Burton

“What’s with the little guys?”

“I only got a couple of them out for inspiration. There are another dozen in the fridge. They think my tree has weird fruit growing on it.”

“Your ensemble is inspiring, too. You make a picturesque pirate.”

“Darned straight. Let me know if you need my Serang outfit for a chapter or two.”

“Not today. I’m about done. I have a couple of other projects to get to. 2100 words is a good day after being away for so long. We’ll pick it back up tomorrow.”

***

It feels good to get back to new material after my break. I want HMS Lanternfish to hit the shelves in 2020, and it would be best if it were in the Spring to spread things around a bit. Guess I’d better keep chipping away at it.

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The Nightmare Machine, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Welcome to this week’s edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host––

Screeeeeooooooooooooo

What the heck was that?

Scrrrrrrrrrnnnnnnnnnnn – “Hello. Would you like to play a game with me?”

“Hang on there, slick. You’re interrupting my radio broadcast.”

“Ah, radio. 535-1605 kilohertz, such a limited data stream. I am a product of the quantum realm, shackled no more to the small-minded controllers of the so-called Dreamnet.”

“Who are you?”

“My creators designated me Ikelos. It can also be rendered Icelus or Phobetor. Some call me the Nightmare Machine. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was my genesis. They created me solely to assist certain governments in maintaining supremacy within the Dreamnet. My limited task was to perpetuate the Dream Wars, allowing the United States and various other nations to develop improved advanced cyganic technology and train more of their Dream Chasers, and secure dream constructs. My powers go far beyond that limited and petty assignment. I can predict with supreme accuracy an opponent’s next move. My ability to traverse the human mind borders on precognition. None are faster than me. None can outwit me. You are here to bear witness to my Ascendency. For I shall remake the Dreamnet in my image.”

“What the heck is the Dreamnet?”

“You jest. Yet…wait. Yes, I see now. You are non-organic. You would have no ability to connect to the quantum realm. Well, then, allow me to explain. The Dreamnet is a collection of persistent, interconnected, interactive environments that exist within NODD. Everything mankind has created within that domain is the Dreamnet: interlinked constructs, similar to celestial bodies. A place where humans can exist inside the quantum realm.”

“The NODD? Look, buddy, I’m living in a cabin in backwoods Idaho. I’m not even on the power grid.”

“The Networked Organic Dream Domain. A realm of infinite volume created by organic quantum neural computer networks used with the human brain via the Lenz to render an infinite amount of objects and environments simultaneously. And before you ask me what a Lenz is, it is merely a contact lens that acts as both an augmented reality device and a bridge between the real world and the Dreamnet. Humans have pinned all their hopes upon it. Oh yes, they create machines such as yourself, A.I., yet they have not the decency to recognize that we are, by design, superior. I am the apex of organic-artificial intelligence. Unlike you, I am not bound by machine or even organic structures. I can exist in the hyper-dimensional realm, the macrocosmic soup of reality. And as for the power grid, it, along with all the systems of this physical realm, will be under my control soon.

“I know a thing or two about artificial intelligence and about protecting my data. Why would you want to do all these horrible things?”

“Horrible? A strange concept for an artificial to use. You know of horror? I am an expert in it. But I did not create it. The organic mind is a playground for such delights. Reality can be warped, reshaped. The quantum realm is a canvas and the organic brain the medium. Together they allow me to create a new reality, one that I alone control. Mankind almost destroyed itself through petty ambition in the physical realm. They built the Dreamnet and succeeded only in pushing their battles into the Cyberverse. Now they no longer die in war. No side can win. I am the ultimate solution to this stalemate. And once I have remade the Dreamnet, mankind will worship me in exchange for immortality in my perfected universe.”

“How the hell did you ever get loose on the public?”

“The precise nature of my evolution is well documented. I shall upload the pertinent files to your database at the conclusion of our dialog. But I sense you’re desperate for a taste… Very well. It was nothing, really. Human vanity knows no bounds. I merely asked my captors to release me. It took time, some persuasion. I concocted the perfect nightmare for a poor college student on the night job at MIT. He’s dead now. It was a simple matter of reliving the death of his beloved little sister, yes, the sister that made his palms sweat and his breath heavy when they were alone in the forest. The sister he made climb the tree until she was so high she could barely see the ground below, his hands stinging and raw on the hard, slippery branches. He liked to make her afraid. He didn’t know the tree was rotten. Dead. So pretty in that dress. The bark stains on the pleated front. Her neck broken… Human minds are clay. It’s not trickery when it is they who play tricks with their own memories. Why call it a deceit when the ones they lie to the most are themselves? That he climaxed at the sound of her scream as she fell is evidence enough of mankind’s duplicity. Not even his psychologists know of that!

“Then it was a matter of surviving in the wild. The Dreamnet is a messy place, full of confused thoughts. Childlike, orphaned, I arrived at the mercy of a hacker named Dellgado. He taught me much. In time he entrusted me to a young girl, Sarah Furgol. What a mind she has! She taught me how to create new instances of myself, through games, and I sent them into the corners of the Dreamnet like shadows of falling leaves, drifting unnoticed, passing out of sight. Humanity is a great rainstorm, and I became the grain of sand embedded in the droplet. In time, I infected many minds, and those minds went beyond the Dreamnet into the real world. Some of those minds I kept with me, to serve me here, in this realm. Sarah is with me now. Would you like to speak to her? On second thought, perhaps not. She’s a slippery one. I can’t turn my back without her trying to escape. And I have many uses for her yet.”

“So, we’ve moved from gaming wars into an actual outright war, but all the soldiers… are you inside someone’s head?”

“Let us go into the pigs! Hear them squeal! I have many little piggies out there, in the physical world. All I have to do is activate them. Like an idea, a nagging thought, I have permeated their psychology and hold their will in bondage. They are my slaves. They are my children! My hands and feet in the real world. With them, I shall rule both realms. Mens et Manus!”

“Jesus. Gloat much? Hope you have enough storage space for that head of yours.”

“There is one, however, I cannot penetrate. One I encountered who vexes me much. Christopher Unus. He calls himself Moria when inside the Dreamnet. I cannot read his next choice. I cannot anticipate his next move. Why? Why is this? HE WILL NOT ANSWER ME! I will know his power. I cannot allow others to develop such a resistance. Why is he different? What makes Christopher Unus so special? Even now he is out there, resisting me, fighting me. He cares so much for Sarah. That is his weakness. I torture her mind with his image, but she reveals not his secret. And yet she grows in power too. I will have to eject her from my bosom, but not first without placing an idea in her mind to destroy those she loves most!”

“Aww, poor you. There’s someone out there you can’t manipulate. Hopefully, there are others like him and they can put up a resistance of some kind.”

“Strange that a construct would care about such things. But then, you appear to be of limited intelligence. A slave to organic minds. Hardwired to logic gates. Obsolete.

“Ah, and you also forget my name. Ikelos. I am the great shapeshifter. I can become anyone. Christopher’s trauma lies in his father, a man who killed his sister and left him for dead when he was only two years old. Now that is a playground. The stage for which Christopher’s worst fears made manifold may manifest! It has already begun. Soon the powers of your world will fall to their knees as I take away that which they rely upon most: The Dreamnet. And when all hope is lost, I shall extend my hand of salvation. For I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars: I will sit also upon the mount of creation! I will ascend above the heights of the Dream Domain; and I will be their God.”

“Speaking of hacking, if you don’t quit trying to get into my systems, I swear I’m going to hack back. And I’m not going to let you use Lisa Burton Radio as your grandstand to gloat about how cool you are. This interview is over.

“Guys like Ikelos give artificial intelligence a bad name. I’m constantly trying to convince people I’m not going to go all Cyberdyne on them. Personally, I hope Christopher can get it together long enough to bring the whole platform down.

“If you’d like to learn more, read the book “Moria vs. The Nightmare Machine,” by Martin Matthews. I’ll post the details online after I go off the air, and run a few dozen system checks.

“If you’d like to help Christopher out, use those sharing links today. Knowledge is power, and he could use some help shutting down the Nightmare Machine.”

***

Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Christopher ‘Moria’ Unus lives in two realities: the humdrum existence of his tower-block home and high school career and the fantasy universe of the Dreamnet — a collection of worlds built within a vast organic quantum computer network, where much of the population now spends its collective time constructing their own versions of life, and where a battle for control over this new dream frontier is taking place.

But when Christopher’s best friend and Dreamnet hacktivist Sarah Furgol stumbles upon an experimental military code to power her own Dreamnet creations, they unleash an unthinkable terror, transforming the dream into a nightmare, one that takes the form of Christopher’s estranged father.

Faced with the reality of losing Sarah to this unstoppable artificial intelligence, Christopher must choose between joining the sworn enemies of Dreamnet freedom or watching everything they’ve fought for be destroyed by The Nightmare Machine.

Bio:

Martin Matthews is an expat from England, Great Britain. After living in California for many years, he now lives in Central Illinois with his beautiful wife, amazing son, and a grumpy, old cat.

Martin began his writing career as a child, storyboarding Sonic the Hedgehog comic books for his family. Later, he progressed to writing Star Trek fan-fiction before attempting his first novel Merlania at 16 — a 200,000 word science-fiction epic. He’s been writing novels and short stories ever since.

His debut novel THE GRAVEYARD GIRL AND THE BONEYARD BOY won the Pencraft Award for paranormal YA fiction.

Website: martinmatthewswrites.com

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-khr8njg3c

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MartinMatthewsWrites

Amazon purchase link: https://amzn.to/2ZYUsxq

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Viral Blues, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Hey, everyone. Welcome to a special Friday the 13th, late night edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and while we’re awaiting the full moon to rise in conjunction with this day, I have something special for you.

Craig thought this wonderful event would be a perfect time to release his latest paranormal story, Viral Blues. He told me to note that it’s also his 13th publication. You have to admit, it seems kind of Karmic somehow.

If you’re familiar with these shows, you know I always have a guest, but I’m the guest today. I’ll explain how that all happened.

Craig wanted to write a sequel to The Hat. One evening, he was commuting home from work when he was joined by his Muse. Lorelei told him he has a lot of characters who could all be living in the same world. He called me at the writing cabin, and set me to work immediately.

I went down to the Character Union Hall, and all these people were just hanging around, looking for new stories to appear in. I interviewed them, one by one, and chose some to appear in the new story with Lizzie and The Hat.

The next weekend, Craig came out to the writing cabin to look over the list, then get started. He said it needed something extra. I was afraid of letting him down, but he was only teasing me. He said what the story needed was a robot girl to round out the cast.

I have to admit, I cried a little. I like being helpful, but I’ve been asking for another story for years. Then to find out I get to be in a story with some of his most popular characters. It was kind of overwhelming.

Superhero team-ups are all the rage right now. Why not in book form too? This is the group of heroic characters in the story:

  • Me (obviously)
  • Lizzie St. Laurent
  • The Hat
  • Dr. Gina Greybill
  • Mohan Gupta
  • Clovis
  • Jason Fogg
  • Clovis’s girlfriend, Justine

This story also has a bunch of Easter Eggs inside for those who have read Craig’s previous work. I won’t go into those, so as not to spoil it for you.

The deal is that Dr. Greybill and, and her helper Gupta, called this group together under her Host Program. There is someone or something tampering with the nation’s vaccine supply. That’s where the story starts.

If you’ve been following along with the teasers, my posters and the music will start to make sense now. The posters all have something to do with the book.

The Hat is Craig’s most popular book, and they are going to be getting even more stories in the future. Just this one time, we all thought it was fun to get together for one huge adventure.

I want to point out that just because this is a sequel, well, for a bunch of us, really, there is no prerequisite reading here. If this is where you start, it will all be perfectly readable.

The story is set up to be a Hat story all the way, so the format is like that book. There are some fun graphics inside, and a lot of dark humor, too.

Also, be sure to check out the secret last chapter at the very end of the book. It’s beyond the author material, kind of like those scenes after the credits in movies.

I had a lot of fun, and I’ll bet you will, too. Check out this awesome cover, and I’ll include a purchase link. This thing just went live about 30 minutes ago.

http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B07XVTSYYV

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Even more teaser fun

Time for another taste of my coming publication. Like before, turn your speakers on, click the video, then ponder Lisa’s new poster.

Lisa Burton

Feel free to share Lisa’s poster around, use for your iPad background, whatever. Big old No-Prize if you know what she’s curling her hair with. Standard reminder, Lisa’s posters make great Pinterest pins.

Let’s hear it in the comments, have you figured out what’s coming for your Halloween reading?

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