Tag Archives: Lisa Burton

A Castaway Style Interview

It's an interesting exercise to choose items for a castaway island. It winds up being a pretty good look into your preferences and makeup. Today it's my turn, and I invite you all to check it out. Thanks to Sian Glirdan (Jan Hawk) for including me.

A Green Room welcome to ~ C.S. Boyack

Siân: Today I’ve set up a challenging environment for the fantastical C.S. Boyack, aka Craig, author of the hoopiest, twistiest speculative micro and macro-fiction on the planet, in a far-flung orbit of creativity! You saw what I did there, huh?
Craig’s a pioneering type and waxed long and eccentric when I asked about his preferred, year-long, castaway requirements. So, as I’m currently working on something in the furthest flung of galaxies, I’ve cherry-picked a rather spiffy desert planetoid that isn’t infested with giant semi-sentient worms, for him to go play in the biiiig sandpit…

Read on here I'll check over there for comments throughout the day.

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Filed under Writing

A good writing day

I landed out at the writing cabin at quarter to seven. I moved the little gyrocopter to the elevator and went in through the basement. It's still too dark to risk walking to the back door out here, and I didn't need the mammoth migration to decide my gyro looked like a good butt scratcher.

Lisa* had the office all ready for me, and handed me some coffee as I passed through the kitchen.

Yak guy wound up rescuing the children, now he has to figure out what to do with them. It's a long way to safety, and there is no home to return to. It was a good section, and I got about 2500 words in. We killed the bad guys yesterday, and today was a toning down that brought new problems. Now there's the possibility of more bad guys out there, being discovered by them, facing the wilderness, and keeping a bunch of kids safe and sound.

I weaved my hands behind my head and reflected on it – for about three seconds.

“Hey, you kids, put that down. Get out of the paranormal office. Yes, that's sharp.”

“Lisa, what's going on out there?”

“You wrote all these kids into existence, and I can't watch them all.”

“Can you get Yak Guy to help?”

“He's trying, but they're everywhere at once.”

“Run them all outside, and position them like a baseball team.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yup. It's nice out, and I'm going to write another Enhanced League story. They can fill in while we work on dialog.”

I moved my iPad to the deck, and looked at the position players. Our grass was dead, long, and muddy, but I used my imagination and hacked my way through. Lisa fetched some equipment from the basement, and she and Yak Guy each fielded a team. The yak himself served as the umpire, and the kids actually listened to him.

It wound up qualifying as a short story, and not a micro, so I felt pretty good about that too. If you add them together the word count is the best I've done for a while. If you include this post, it will break 5000 words.

I put my hat back on, and put my iPad away.

“Hold it, buster. Where are you're going?”

“Home. All this ball playing reminds me that I need to play some too, with Otto.”

“What am I supposed to do with all these kids?”

“I don't know. Make them clean your radio studio?”

“My studio, and the cabin are spotless.”

“Make them play baseball until they're all tired.”

“I don't even have enough food for all of them, and where are they going to sleep?”

“They aren't picky. I wrote them a bunch of tents, put them in there.”

“Right, with all the creepy stuff that wanders around this cabin, I'll have to guard them all night.”

“It isn't like you sleep anyway.”

“I still need to recharge, and I like to take a bubble bath at night. What then?”

“Look, you're going to have to improvise. You have the yak, and Yak Guy Ted can help too.”

“Fine, but after these books are drafted, I'm putting in for some leave.”

“You should. We'll be in edit and beta mode and you can get away then.”

“I will too. Don't think I won't.”

“Okay, bye. Good day today.”

Whatever.”

*Lisa Burton is my personal assistant, and the spokesmodel for my writing career. She's also a robot, and makes regular appearances on the blog and in cyberspace.

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The Rave Awards! #RRBC

The limousine pulled into a row of other limos. Lisa Burton* sat across from me in the back. A four-hundred pound man sat next to me in a tux. “Why is he here again?”

“Don’t worry about him,” Lisa said. “He’s from Harry Winston, and he comes with the diamonds. I have to give them all back after the program.”

“That’s too bad. They look really nice.” We pulled forward a few car lengths, and I asked him to let me out.

“What are you doing? You’ll miss the red carpet.”

“That’s the idea. I’m slipping in the back, grabbing a beer, and meeting you at our table. You’re the spokesmodel. It’s your job to take this bullet for me.”

“You’re such a baby. Don’t worry, I’ve got this.”

I wound my way to our table and sat where my name card indicated. The room filled up as Lisa wound her way over. She paused to pose for selfies, and sign some autographs.

The show started and we applauded when Jan Sikes won for most creative tweets. Lisa grabbed my arm, “Her character appeared on Lisa Burton Radio, and she included you in her presentation on promotion. So excited for her.”

“I agree, she’s a talented lady.

Rea Nolan Martin’s, The Ansesthesia Game won for best cover, and Beem Week’s, Jazz Baby won for best book trailer. We applauded their victories. I started chewing my nails.

The award for best blog site was called. “In third place, Entertaining Stories, by C. S. Boyack.” The crowd applauded and I waived. The cameras were mostly focused on Lisa though. “In second place, Fiction Favorites, by John Howell.” We applauded again.

Lisa grabbed my forearm. “John’s so nice. I’ve been to his house, and his characters appeared on my radio show a couple of times too.”

“And the Blog of the Year goes to, Nonnie Jules for Watch Nonnie Write.” The crowd went crazy. Nonnie is one of the hardest working people I know, and deserves all the awards she can take home.

Nonnie also won the award for Most Giving Hands. The Most Supportive Member of 2016 is Wendy Scott. Jan Hawk won for Member of the Year, and Lisa reminded me that Jan’s characters have appeared on her show too.

Karen Ingalls is the Top Reviewer of 2016. Stephanie Collins is the Top Recruiter of 2016. I took my napkin and dabbed it across my forehead.

“For Book of the Year, in third place, The Playground by C. S. Boyack.” I waved once more, and Lisa attracted camera flashes. “In second place, She Dies at the End, by A. M. Manay. And the Book of the Year, for 2016, goes to Type and Cross by Staci Troilo.” The crowd went wild. The Book of the Year competition was tough, and all the entries were good. Lisa grabbed me once more and reminded me that Max the dog appeared on her show.

I shook hands with those around me, and slipped quietly to the lobby. The bar was only a few steps further, so I went inside. John Howell was already there. I offered my hand. “Congratulations, John.”

He waived down the waitress and she slid me a dark frothy beer. “Congratulations yourself. Where’s Lisa? Is she joining us?”

“Hardly. She went to the Governors Ball. I think she wants to recruit characters for her radio show.”

“How does she rate? She isn’t even a nominee.”

“That doesn’t matter. Velvet ropes just move aside for her.”

“I can see that. I heard they have an upgraded bar at the ball. Wanna check it out?”

“Why didn’t you say so sooner, John.” I dropped a twenty on the bar and we headed across the street.

***

*Lisa Burton is my personal assistant, and the spokesmodel for Entertaining Stories. She’s also a robot, and makes regular appearances here.

***

You might guess that we have a lot of fun in the Rave Reviews Book Club. It’s all about supporting each other, and climbing that ladder together. The Rave Awards are only one fun event, and there are a couple of blog parties and some writing contests that are worth checking out. In December they held an online convention that was very popular.

If you think this club might have something to offer you, please check us out at this link.

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Filed under Blogging, Writing

Time Management

Being an author in this era seems to involve working on multiple projects at once. There are ruminations that lead to outlines. There is the drafting of new material. Promotion is also required. Maybe this is as simple as making a tweet or two, but some days it involves updating the blog, maybe writing some guest posts for someone.

In my case, I still owe The Storyreading Ape some posts. I have no less than four Lisa Burton Radio slots in the works. I'm working with Sean Harrington on some generic Lisa art that I can use for various purposes, and possibly recycle without making you tired of them. Then there is research for new projects, promo art for the next books, and some reading that I'm behind on.

The common denominator is time.

There's only so much of this stuff to go around, and when things pile up something has to give. Some of you may have noticed that I skipped blogging last night. I also have a life away from this iPad, and tend to neglect it a little too much.

One of the things I've learned… over time… is that I can't do it all at once. I've tried more times than I care to admit. This applies at the paycheck job too. What happens is that I get less done than I should have.

I can't get away with this at the paycheck job, and sometimes I have to move multiple projects at the same time. I'm the boss at Entertaining Stories though, and will have things my way here.

Dealing with multiple projects takes a certain amount of whining and hand wringing. (At least in my case. Ask my wife if you don't believe me.) Surprise, whining and hand wringing takes time away from things I should be doing.

I use task lists when it gets out of control. If I can keep it straight in my head, I don't bother to write it all down. Then I pick a project, put on the blinders and work on it until I'm finished.

There is a lot to be said for finishing something. It might be as simple as updating my pinned tweet, but the act of completion is like a Scooby Snack for me. I'm energized to take on the next thing.

I used my deplorable art skills to make an image for my pinned tweet and updated it. Some of you have already shared it. Hopefully, the art is good enough for the split second it takes to get the point across.

I worked on all four radio interviews, and got them back to the guest authors. There is more work to do, but I can do nothing until they trickle back in.

I started my beta reading project yesterday, and moved it ahead today. I have a document started with notes, and hopefully can help this book in some small way.

Another piece of Lisa art arrived last night, and I sent out the instructions for the next one. When it comes to blog art, I try to buy them four at a time. I can use another portrait too, and have a couple of ideas for the third one, it involves either a hairdo from the early 70s or one from 1900. Lisa likes to change things up. It's still planning and time.

I'm also collecting ideas for promotion of my next books. There are some Yak Guy things Lisa can do, and some baseball things for the other project.

I did not address my critiques, but they aren't as time sensitive. I also didn't draft anything beyond this blog. I might dabble with my outlines for an hour or two.

The point is that I have to put on my blinders and work exclusively on one thing at a time. I get more done that way. Right now the focus is on reading, but if I can complete something small (like Twitter) before or after reading, I can still accomplish things.

In the end, clearing my slate will give me more time for drafting new material as I move into February.

Right now, I picked up a giant bottle of beer, and a new tea I want to try. There is football to watch, and maybe game one will be tea, and game two will be beer.

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Productive Holiday

I headed for the writing cabin about 6:30 this morning. It was clear and cold, and apparently determined to stay that way. (Our high temperature today was a blistering nine degrees.)

Lisa* knew I was coming. (She monitors my phone and gyrocopter.) When I walked into the writing cabin, the fireplaces were pushing heat, and the coffee was hot. “What's the plan today, boss?”

“The Yak Guy. We're getting close to the end, and I want to keep making progress. Is the yak still in the basement stable?”

“Sure is.”

I turned toward the staircase, and Lisa stopped me. “Wait. Give him his carrot. I picked up a bunch, and give him one every day.”

“Won't Bunny get jealous?”

“Oh no. He gets some too.”

I grabbed the carrot by the leaves, scooped up some hot coffee, and headed downstairs.

The yak stood in his stall, but the gate was open. “Hey, brought you a carrot.”

“Thanks, but I don't care for them that much,” the yak said.

I glanced back over my shoulder. “You're going to have to eat it. Lisa thinks she's doing something wonderful for you.”

“Fine, but I've had to eat a lot of carrots in the last six months. I don't want to let out my saddle.” He accepted the carrot and started munching.

“I'm heading for the Wheel of Fortune part of the story. Is the Yak Guy ready for it?”

“He isn't too bright, but he seems to be ready when the next event comes along. All you can do is try. I don't know how he's going to react to a decision he has to make with imperfect information. He always wants to know all the answers ahead of time.”

“Don't we all. It seems more prevalent with Yak Guy's generation though. I have a hunch, he'll deal with it if I don't give him any choice.”

“You can always have me gore him in the butt again.”

“Heh, that was fun, but I don't know if we can do it again without it seeming forced.”

“I understand, but there are days I'd like to.”

“Alright, buddy, get your saddle on and I'll have Yak Guy meet you in the meadow.”

I tromped upstairs to my office and kicked Yak Guy off the couch. “Time to get to work.” He begrudgingly left, and headed outside.

Words flowed well, and the Wheel Of Fortune lesson is over. All I have to do is rescue some kids, then find some refugees, and reunite him with the love of his life. I think it's going to hit 80,000 words, and if not I'll have to enhance a couple of places. I have a hard time calling it a novel if I don't get the word count.

The yak led his human into the basement and got him all settled. Lisa asked if that was it for the day.

“I think I can manage a bit more, to be honest. I'm going to try a baseball story.”

“Oh, crap, I never called any of them.”

“No problem, this story is about a barbecue on a day when the players are off. I'm going to explore their feelings about being placed on waivers, and who their competitors are for post-season slots. We'll write it, and interview them all later to make it feel right.”

“Too bad, I would have enjoyed a barbecue and a dinner party. I have this cute little black–“

“Nevermind, let's just write it. Maybe you can put an old game on TV for some atmosphere.”

“Oh sure, no problem.”

That seemed to get Lisa focused, and I cranked out a 1000 word micro-story. I'm enjoying these tales, but I don't know how the world will receive them at large. There are a bunch of stories, and a few recurring characters. It tells the story of a mythical season, but delves behind the scenes and covers a lot of activities off the field too. In a way, it has some similarities to The Playground in the way I'm relaying it. Because there is an overarching story, I can't do the twist endings my short stories are known for. There are some, but not with the frequency an Experimental Notebook would have.

I leaned back in my chair and took a sip of my coffee. “Let's make a couple of storyboards.”

“Are you serious? I didn't thaw out the left side of your brain. I might be able to, but don't want to scorch it again.”

“Don't worry about him. We'll just pin some cards up, and we can make them perfect later on.”

Lisa headed for the basement, and returned with two storyboards, a pile of index cards, some sticky notes, and all the colored pens you could want. What can I say, the girl likes making storyboards.

We made one for a science fiction tale I'm calling Estivation. This is like hybernation, but occurs when things get too hot. It involves a cute young couple who have to spend three months in a survival bunker while a parasite sun passes by their planet. I invented the term parasite sun for a gas giant planet that manages to ignite somehow. When things line up, their own sun plus the parasite sun, makes the surface deadly.

Their bunker is already occupied by a thief, and they all get locked in together. Happiness and merriment ensue. (Not really) They don't have enough food to last three months now. Throwing the bad guy out will expose them all to deadly radiation.

Lisa put that board aside, and we made one for a project called The Hat. This involves a hard working girl, who missed out on the family decision about what to do with grandma's personal possessions. She had to pull an extra shift and missed the meeting by a couple of hours. When she gets to granny's junk shop, her evil uncle decided to sell everything. All the heronine wanted was one of grandma's house plants, but even this was denied her.

When evil uncle's back is turned, she grabs a box and takes it home. Inside the box is an old fedora hat. It wasn't even grandma's, it belonged to the grandfather she never knew. Turns out the hat talks and forms a kind of symbiotic relationship with the wearer. This one is going to become a kind of paranormal superhero type story.

When wearing the hat, my heroine can see through his eyes too. They can communicate without vocalizing their words. She can see behind her, or wherever he is looking. She can also shoot guns while using his vision, while her own vision aims a different direction. On top of that, The Hat, plays an upright bass. She needs to wear him, and he uses her fingers and hands. This part is going to be great for character purposes.

I think my main plot problem is going to involve baby snatchers, and I've decided to include an unhelpful witch in the supporting staff.

The Hat is going to be more of a buddy tale, with my heroine and the hat making up the buddies. They're going to bicker and (hopefully) grow during the tale.

Lisa said, “So The Hat can be any kind of hat she wants, as long as it's a hat? Is that what's going on?”

“Yeah, basically. She can be seen in one thing, round the corner, and it's something else completely. Maybe headphones or something. Might make a reasonable way to avoid the cops.”

“This is so exciting, I'm going to order a small mountain of hats.”

“You party on, Lisa.”

And that's where I called it a day.

*Lisa Burton is my robotic personal assistant, and the spokesmodel for Entertaining Stories.

If any of you are that interested, you can check out pin boards for The Hat, and Estivation on my Pinterest site.

 

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Filed under Muse

Check out Marketing 101

Back in December, the Rave Reviews Book Club held its first annual Writing Conference & Book Expo. Other commitments kept me from attending, but Jan Sikes asked if she could use me as an example in creative marketing. As a reminder, Jan is the author of The Convict and the Rose, that was presented on Lisa Burton Radio yesterday. (Link here.)

This presentation comes in three helpful videos, and its full of useful information. Several popular authors and bloggers were mentioned, but since this is my blog, I'll mention that part three is where I'm featured. Lisa Burton is also mentioned, and you should check it out. It's packed with good information beyond the part where I'm discussed.

Here is the handy dandy link.

 

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2017 Business Plan

I intended to wait a day or two to write this, but I have time right now and decided not to wait. I'll probably get lost in a sea of New Years Resolutions, and the word count may scare some readers away, but here goes.

Being a writer involves many skills, and I want to improve all of them. I've written before how there is no magic bullet that will put one of us over the top. It takes work, and improvement, on all fronts to get there. Identifiable places to work on are:

  • Concept
  • Craft
  • Promotion

There are several sub-bullets like inspiration, social media, and research, but you get the point.

Concept

I think I'm pretty good with inspiration, and Lorelei the Muse takes pretty good care of me in this department. I use my push feeds to keep my imagination well lubricated, and film also helps a bit. Now, with the new X-Box, maybe this new media will play a role too. I'm not going to dwell too hard on this part of being an author. Maybe not everyone is like this, but to me ideas are easy to come by.

Craft

Personal challenges have served me well over the years. It makes me work to accomplish new things, but I may have slacked off in the outlining phase in 2016. I need to make sure my preferred three act structure has all the required beats and not trust to faith that something will come to me after I start. This can be a full outline, or even bookend outlines, but I need to tighten this process up.

Craft can apply to promotion too, and I can't decide whether to discuss it here, or under the next heading. I've learned over time to write tighter on the blog. I started out with 2000 word posts, and today many posts are 400 words. This is a double edged sword, because I tend to work through a novel with the same brevity these days. The answer is to have more situations to create a novel. The risk is too many situations that don't drive the plot or character arc. At least I'm aware of this.

I currently have two different craft books on my Kindle app, and I need to get on with reading them. One has been there for nearly a year. Which brings me to reading in general. Reading is important to both craft and concept, and I need to do more of it.

Promotion

Writing is something I do for fun, but seeking commercial success is part of my personal challenge. I believe it pushes me to improve my skills by putting my work out for scrutiny. A trunk full of stories doesn't provide much feed back. Because of this, promotion is a necessary evil.

2016 marked a big improvement in this area for me. Some things didn't pay off, others were mediocre, and some were rousing successes. This is a good place to keep what works, and either improve or discard that which doesn't.

Social media requires work, there's no other way to put it. This blog remains the main focus for me, and it makes sense, since I can write longer pieces than say Twitter allows. My views are up considerably, in fact it's 50% more than last year.

Other forms of social media work, and I've moved books because of Twitter. I'll keep honing my skills in this arena. Facebook quickly became a distraction for me, but it has some benefits. I find many photos and pieces of art to inspire me. I'm a very visual person, and a piece of art can inspire a whole story, and has. It's a great source of ideas for Lisa Burton too.

I need to find a way to make Facebook produce a few sales too. I'm kind of at a loss here, but I pushed a few posts and it drove people to me to a small degree.

I've considered additional forms of social media, but I have to consider available time too. Google Plus has some appeal, but the best reports are from Google themselves. Authors just aren't out there singing its praises. I'm open for comments in this arena. A friend mentioned one called Triber at one time too, but I haven't done a lick of research.

Being a visual person, I'm surprised I haven't looked into Pinterest or some of the other forms. I'm afraid I'd just waste more time surfing through science fiction art or other things. If some of you know how to expand an author's footprint here, I'm open to suggestions. This includes Instagram and other formats too.

Lisa Burton as my spokesmodel works well for me. Her show promoting characters from other books is popular enough to keep going. I may not be able to post one every week, but that's more dependent upon other authors than me. I guess what I'm saying is not meeting a goal doesn't always equal failure. This is a good spot and I'm keeping it. They will post on Thursdays, and I hope to get enough volunteers to keep it fairly regular.

I have a folder full of images to help Lisa with my own book promotions, and I'll be talking to Sean Harrington soon about them. Her blog images need to keep updated too, and I commissioned an interesting piece over the weekend with ideas to use it over at Story Empire. Her sign shaker image was really useful, in that I can write whatever I want on her sign. This lets me use it as many times as I like.

Lisa has drifted across several decades with her style, and I may let her explore the 60s, 70s, and 80s this year too. I even have one cool image of a Gibson Girl from the late 1800s – early 1900s I may base something on.

It looks like I've dedicated a lot of space to promotion when compared to the others. That ought to tell me something right there.

***

So what are my 2017 plans? I have two books I want to put out this year, The Yak Guy Project, and The Enhanced League. I have three ideas for shorter stories, and they may reach novella length. If they don't, I'm sure there will be another Experimental Notebook. I'd like to release a 99¢ novella, but I'm not making it a goal. The stories will tell me what to do after I write them.

There is the possibility of an invitation to another anthology, and maybe one of those will fit the bill. I have to write them before I do anything else.

As far as the writing goes, I want to outline my science fiction novel, tentatively called Grinders. I'd like to actually start writing it, but there is going to be some promo after the two projects above, and I need to allow time for that. I can fill in the gaps with micro-fiction and short stories… and reading.

I need to read more of the things I actually want to read. I enjoyed all the beta projects, and believe I helped those authors to some degree. ARC reading is fun too, but I need to read more of the things I choose. This may require me to say “No” on occasion to a request. I have a hard time with that, but may have to accept it. This doesn't quite read the way I want it to. I enjoyed all the books I read. For my own advancement, I need to read more hard core science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy books. In many cases this means traditional publishing.

Fun has to enter into the mix too. There really isn't any other reason to do all this, because the money doesn't justify it. I enjoy Lisa Burton Radio, and it helps me expand my footprint. I'm going to need places to promote my wares, and maybe someone will be there for me if I help them promote. Lisa Burton Radio is staying.

I also signed up to host tours again for the Rave Reviews Book Club. This helps those authors, and it brings me traffic. There really isn't a down side to this, so it's pretty obvious. I'm still open to hosting my friends too.

In the pure enjoyment category is Macabre Macaroni and The Idea Mill. I'm keeping them simply because it makes me happy. I get some fun conversations going with both of them, and even a bit of feedback.

Story Empire has a ton of potential, and working with others teaches me new things. I hope we can step things up over there and expand it into a valuable resource for our contributors. We have tentative plans to discuss that sometime this month.

I'm debating submitting The Yak Guy Project to a small press publisher. I'm on the fence about this, but it's in my mind. If there is any extra money, I would like to try an audio book too. I already have suitable titles, and maybe it would help me reach a new audience. This isn't someplace to dive blindly in, and research is required.

In the miracle department, I'd like to have one more really good idea. Lorelei isn't the Muse of self promotion, and I'm afraid I'm on my own here. Lisa Burton Radio is good, her spokesmodel work is good, maybe there is something else nobody thought of that will come to me. This usually requires a peaceful camping trip somewhere that allows my mind to rest.

A lot of words with less hard-core goals this year. I tend to set deadlines and bust my ass to meet them, but 2017 isn't the year for that. It's more about keeping what works, and making small improvements and tweaks.

Let me know if you have anything more to offer. I'd like to hear about other forms of social media. I hope all your business plans work out in 2017.

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