Tag Archives: Lisa Burton

Biting the Bullet

I really want to be working on either Goodbye Old Paint, or Once Upon a Time in the Swamp. That’s where my heart is in this author life, but I can’t neglect other parts of the gig.

Today, I made a framework for all my tour posts. It gives each post some similarity, even though every one will be unique. I took the easy way out and wrote the Lisa Burton appearances first. After all these years, it’s easy to write Lisa’s posts, and I have the artwork to refer to. Lisa usually moves more copies than I do anyway. Something about those graphics and her personality.

There is plenty for me to discuss when it comes to The Midnight Rambler. It will come out in October and should fit right in with the rest of The Hat Series. I’ll probably write about the tribulations of keeping a series like this going and another about how it differs from a closed-loop series. I have another one formulating about an expanding environment and how not everything happens right in front of Lizzie.

That last idea came to me when a new character walked into the writing cabin. They just seem to keep showing up, and while they don’t all deserve their own story, they can help convince readers that more is happening out there. It lets their imaginations run wild after the last page is read.

So, I’m parked on the Asian afterlife story that involves a competition similar to American Idol and the end of the world. There’s the one with the return of the Headless Horseman which will come next in the series. I have new characters in the form of a philosopher who’s also a witch, a unique monster I came up with, and now an anthropomorphic rooster. These guys are all holding some kind of retreat in my brain while I work on promo for The Midnight Rambler. I’m afraid my current manuscripts are parked for the time being.

I should mention that all of these ideas are much crazier than they sound in a simple paragraph. I don’t want to drop spoilers, but I try to bring fresh spins to old ideas and even my unique ones have to be a little bit different.

I tapped into the Asian pears for lunch today. They’re awesome, as usual. I didn’t thin the tree nearly enough this Spring, so they’re all more schoolboy sized this year. Still good, but they would have been larger with better thinning.

I’m thinking of a nap in about an hour. After that, I’ll probably write my appearance for Teri Polen’s Bad Moon Rising. This is a must for me every year, and I’m so glad she’s holding this event. She’s still looking for a few more guests if you have something in the Halloween neighborhood of reading.

My plan is to create as many posts as I can, then put out a call for hosts. I don’t know how many volunteers I can produce something for, but will have a better idea by next weekend. I’m not even tracking volunteers at this point, but the day is coming soon.

Hope you’re all having a great weekend and doing something you love.

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Filed under Writing

Low productivity

Sean Harrington delivered some graphics about a week ago. My only real plan was to insert them into the Midnight Rambler manuscript. It’s important to keep this one moving ahead for an October promotion.

We started off by going to the farmer’s market downtown. It’s been years since we went, and they’ve kind of split it between locations. For some reason, it just wasn’t as good as past years. Old What’s Her Face still found some things to buy, like lemon cucumbers.

I kept my eye open for the breakfast burrito lady, but she was absent. Maybe she’s gone to the other location, or maybe she’s bagged it like so many others during the Covid era.

We still managed to go to lunch downtown, then swung by Whole Foods. This is another location we haven’t visited since pre-Covid.

For myself, keeping my goals small seems like a good idea. I managed to insert my silly graphics into The Midnight Rambler, and that might be it for this weekend.

I’d like to work on one of my current projects, but Sundays aren’t really good writing days. The other distraction is television. We have about four years of The Boys to catch up on, and that takes time. It’s a worthy project, and I’ll probably nudge that ahead to some degree.

I sent Sean back an email for two Lisa Burton posters. Honestly, her promos tend to draw more attention than my own. Something about her image seems to get clicks.

Promotion isn’t really one of my favorite gigs, but I’m toying with a new idea. After so many volumes of The Hat Series, I have a lot of old Lisa Burton posters. I could pick a time and do a Lisa-only tour for the series, recycling the posters since most have only been used one time. It isn’t hard to write as Lisa. Add a poster, maybe a 99¢ sale here and there, it could work.

Now it’s time to decide whether I read a friend’s book, read Midnight Rambler for a final pass, or just surrender to the television.

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Word count and future ideas

I closed my iPad, then leaned back in my lounge chair. “That’s a wrap for today, folks.”

Lisa Burton, my robot assistant picked the twin ponytails from her hair. “Back to more Cicis tomorrow?”

“Probably.”

“You really need to get these girls some better clothes.”

“I did, but they tend to wear jumpsuits while they’re on the ship. We’re deep into the mission right now.”

Percy, the Space Chimp, perked up. “Not bad, dude. I’m finally in the shuttle and weapons are hot. I’m expecting to kick some major ass tomorrow.”

“Me, too. We’re nearly finished. You have two adventures left in this book and I should easily break eighty-thousand words.”

“Could be a lot bigger for science fiction.”

“True, but in this era people seem to like something shorter if it isn’t going to wrap in one book.”

“And we have three coming.”

“We’ll see. My first trilogy was popular until the final volume. Nobody wanted root monsters and Kung Fu after book two.”

He bolted upright on the couch. “Dude, don’t do that to me. I planned on three volumes.”

“That’s still the goal, but I might not release any of them until they’re completely finished. A tighter release schedule might help. It was a good day at 2800 words.”

“And, tomorrow we’re blowing the crap out of things?”

“That’s the plan. I gotta tell you, I’m thinking about starting something different.”

“Don’t do that. We’ve got what it takes.”

“I think so, too. I can always start another hat story. You were backup, then moved into primary position. I feel the need for a new secondary story. There are some stand alone ones I could write. There’s the revenge story that takes place in a post-apocalyptic swamp. One that’s an African adventure that still needs some black magic ideas. I even have one about Dash Goodman going on his quest to become a full member of the coven. It will involve a Native American girl and some of her lore, a stolen PBY floatplane, and summoning a fun familiar for him that I dreamed up.”

“Nobody wants to read that crap. A talking Space Chimp with a Human girlfriend working as a spy is what they want.”

“Relax. I still need Dash to be an apprentice for a few more years. What do you think about Dash Goodman & the Last of the Lava Men, or Mud Men, or something?”

“I think it sounds stupid. I could steal a ship and save you from writing it. Show you some real adventure, too.”

“There’s also the Detroit story. Tons of abandoned homes and two kids playing Indianna Jones stumble across something more serious.”

“We could go back to the fleet graveyard and find some antiquated garbage, too.”

“Calm down. We’ll work together tomorrow. Dash Goodman needs a serious outline to chase a McGuffin, and so does the Detroit thingie.

“I won’t let you down. I promise.”

“I wonder how I’d look as an Indian Princess?” Lisa asked.

“Probably too blonde, and it’s going to be a modern setting. She’s Salish, so I’d need to do some research before I could start. Feels like something two or three years down the line.”

“Will we be done by then?” Percy asked.

“I think so. I still have to weave other things into my schedule. Sometimes I work better with a side project. I’m just warning you it could happen.”

“Good talk, but let’s see where tomorrow takes us. Maybe you’ll get so fired up you don’t want a side story.”

“Maybe, but I wouldn’t count on it.”

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Filed under Muse, Writing

Something new to share

The word metrics aren’t that impressive today. It came across at a little over 1900 words. Let’s face it, those 5000 word days don’t happen very often.

I’m mostly posting to share some new artwork. I’ve threatened to have Sean Harrington prepare some artwork for the Research Sirens for a long time. They seem to show up at the writing cabin frequently, so I’m going to use the group poster today. He actually sent each one individually as well if I ever want to use them.

***

I got to the writing cabin early this morning. Temperatures have gotten into the seventies recently, but at 5:30 it’s still pretty cold. Percy the Space Chimp was asleep on the couch, so I had coffee in the kitchen with Lisa Burton my PA and robot girl.

“People loved the poster of my tagger girl over at John Howell’s place this week,” she said.

“See, I thought it was a poster of Hellpox.”

“Let’s face it. I’m the spokesmodel, and it’s always about me to a degree. Besides, readers love my shining personality.”

“That’s true, you always seem to make more sales than I do on these tours.”

“Good to know with my performance review looming.”

Percy wobbled in still wearing his flight suit. “Are we finally going to work on something today?” He poured himself a steaming cup.

“Yeah, but these are hard sections for me. I have to deal with the fall out from your relationship with Buffer, then set up some character growth for you.”

“That’s all crap. Plop me in a star fighter and let’s blow some shit up. Readers like that.”

“They do, but they also like to see you change over the course of the story. You’re defensive about people’s prejudices toward Space Chimps, but you have your own prejudices as well.”

“That’s what makes me charming. Isn’t it enough that you ratted me and Buffer out? Can’t you leave me something of myself?”

“The goal is to have you become a better person amid all the spying and warfare around you. I’m also about to reveal a cool plot twist involving your favorite comic, Agent Golden Gibbon. I just need to decide how the real world part of that is going to come across, then save some for the second book. The guy’s going to need a name, and a description and I have to look some of that up.” We all headed for the writing office.

I froze at the sight. My office had been invaded by the Research Sirens.

Research Sirens

“You really shouldn’t make a move without digging into your new character a bit.” Libraria dropped her book bag on my desk then parked herself in my lounge chair.

“Ugh! Not these chicks again,” Percy moaned.

Wiki patted the side of her beanbag, wrinkling her nose at him in a kind of smile.

“I don’t think Buffer would approve.” He sat beside her anyway.

Conversia guided me to the couch, then sat uncomfortably close. “What kind of character do you have in mind?”

“I’m thinking he’ll use a pen name for his comic, because he’s kind of a spy. I want that to reflect in the name he uses.”

Wiki typed away at her iPad mini. “Thesaurus indicates something like Supermole would work.”

“I can use that as a place-marker, gives him a bit of personality already. Change it later if something better comes along. Supermole writes this comic, but it gives clues as to terrorist events that haven’t happened yet. Leo figures it all out, which gives him a nice spot to shine.”

“What kind of alien will he be?” Lisa asked

“I thought it might be fun to have him be an actual gibbon. I’ve already sold the idea that Space Chimps exist, so why not?”

The sound of nylon on nylon held everyone’s attention as Libraria crossed her long legs. She dropped a huge book on the table before me. “There is some argument, but there appear to be about twenty species of gibbon alive today. Once you read this, you’ll have a better idea of what you need. Once you finish it, I have another one about the fossil record.”

Conversia leaned in until her Afro tickled my ear. “I still hold there’s great value in oral stories. They give a wonderful flavor to the history of gibbons. We can fly to the South Pacific so you can see wild gibbons, then interview the elders who live there for some of their stories.”

Wiki wrinkled her nose then turned her screen to show me a video. “Gibbons are the fastest arboreal animals in the world. Even faster than some birds as they swing tree to tree.”

“I have to use some of that. It would be kind of an adventure to add a chase scene that doesn’t involve cars. Maybe Percy here could swing after him.”

“Are you crazy, dude? I can’t keep up with that.”

“Keep it in mind. Maybe you can drive him to the Cicis for capture later on. First I need to decide how much of a role to give him.”

“I think he would be one of the good guys. Leo and I love Agent Golden Gibbon, and it would be fun to meet the creator.”

“All good ideas.” Conversia wrapped her toned arm around my shoulder. Her perfect manicure tapping over my heart. “I figure no more than six months in the jungle and you’ll have all the gibbon knowledge you need. I can use my recorder for the stories, then you can have Lisa make transcripts once we return home.”

“Look, girls. I appreciate the zest, but I only write fiction. I have to live in the real world, and they’re going to miss me at work if I leave for six months. I have to make some of this up as I go. Besides, Old What’s Her Face wouldn’t like me spending six months in a grass hut with three Sirens and a robot girl.”

“We’re harmless, mostly.” Conversia pressed her bosom into my side.

“You should still ground the story in reality,” Libraria cautioned.

“Okay, how do you feel about a trip to the Boise Zoo. Best I can do. They even have ice cream.”

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Filed under Muse, Writing

Odd Word Metrics

I spent my morning trying to write promotional materials for the eventual release of Good Liniment.

It’s not the same as new fiction, but I got five posts roughed out. It probably doesn’t reach 2500 new words, but it’s fairly close. To finish them, I would need a blurb and some links. Those details will come later.

I ordered three new Lisa Burton posters for this release, and they came out wonderful. Sean Harrington really outdid himself on them, and they reflect items from the story. That made posts where she visits someone fairly easy to write.

I should have about that many more before I’m ready, then I need to figure out where I want to take this tour. I’ve done so many of these over the years they can be kind of tiring. I’m excited about the story, but not about promo. Probably a flaw in my personality.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the comments and responding, it just doesn’t work as well during the work week. I’m even considering some vacation time so I can be present in the moment, but work is too crazy right now.

I might even get a couple more written tonight, but I’m not committed to the idea.

This is the spot where I would usually insert a musical teaser for one of The Hat books. I try to hold back the posters for my hosts, but can’t resist sharing one today. They came out so good this time.

Lisa is taking Noodles for a walk in this picture. If you’d like to learn more about Noodles, you’ll have to come along when the tour starts, or even read the book. It’s coming soon, I promise.

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Switching stories again

Percy, the Space Chimp, leaped off the couch at the writing cabin as I entered. He regaled me with a recap of his visit to the warehouse and Ray Dongas who rules the place. He paused at the entrance to the paranormal office.

Lisa Burton, my robot PA waited inside. She wore a rain slicker and a sou’wester hat, but insisted on heels to go with them. Not so much the strawberry-blonde bombshell today as just cute.

“Wait a minute. What’s happening here?” Percy asked.

The hat atop Lisa’s head spoke. “Not your turn today, slick.”

I put a hand on Percy’s shoulder. “That’s how it works around here. Sometimes I need to give a story some time. You guys are gallivanting around the secret space city, but I need to figure out how much exploration is entertaining, and when to send you on the next leg of your adventure. Science fiction needs a bit of world building, but there’s a limit to it. This city will come back around in your tale, so I could get away with a bit more.”

“Come on, dude. I got a new shuttle I need to try out.”

“And, you will. Today isn’t the day. I need to ponder your next moves. Today is all about The Midnight Rambler.”

The hat said, “Take a break, kid. I’ve been through this a lot of times. You get used to it eventually. The Olympics are on somewhere. Maybe you can check those out.”

Lisa found a place on the couch, then crossed her legs. “What’s with all the rain in this story?”

“Couple of reasons. It’s big enough to be an obstacle to Lizzie’s success, and I have a secret plot to ruin her car.”

“She loves that car. Why would you do that to her?”

“Maybe she’s in line for a different car someday. Besides, it’s true to life. Lizzie struggles with her meaningless jobs, bills that never end, and trying to perform with her band. A paranormal tale needs some level of reality so people can relate. Then there’s the fact that some cool rain type songs have been made. Those can make it into her playlist.”

The hat spoke up. “She’s my partner, so I’m telling her. What are you going to do about her boyfriend?”

“I’m not telling you anything after that last comment. I’m still trying to make this a series of stand-alone noveloids. Anything that drifts across the titles has to be something the next book doesn’t have to explain.”

“Come on, you can tell me. I’m the hat.”

“No. I don’t think so. Success has been sparse on this caper. She can’t count on Kevin the vampire, and the Rambler is dug in to make her crazy. We’re going to initiate a few clues today that will nudge the end game forward.”

“It’s about time. She’s already crazy enough. This monster has to have an army at his disposal by now, and we’re going to have to slug our way through them to get to him. Maybe we can figure out a way to draw him out.”

“Maybe, but I don’t see it working that way. In fact, you’re going to have a little talk with her about how that last second victory only happens in the movies. Sometimes things don’t work out in the real world.”

“Well, I don’t like the sound of it. Is this going to be the Greek tragedy you’re always talking about?”

“That would be cool. Maybe I’ll give that some thought.”

The hat groaned.

Lisa took him off and placed him on the end table. “Relax. He’s already told you about his plan for a new car. If everyone dies, there’s no need for that.”

“Maybe, just the boyfriend dies. That could work.” The hat wobbled to look at my reaction.

“What do you think of this song?”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“That reminds me. I need to see what kind of help disaster areas really offer. Lizzie can’t work anywhere except where her band plays. The diner’s flooded and landscaping is at a standstill. Even her basement apartment has water inside.”

“Does this mean the Research Sirens are coming back here?” Lisa asked.

“Could happen.”

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Writing Saturday

I looked up from my iPad after the day’s work was finished. “3000 words, not too shabby.”

Percy the Space Chimp poured another cup of Huloran tea. “I don’t know, dude. You spent an awful lot of time playing dress up Barbies.”

“I’m worried about it, too. Think of it this way, the Cicis are identical. Having two-dozen of them wandering around the resort was bound to draw attention. I had some dress up, and some dress down. They visited hair salons and such to differentiate themselves from their sisters.”

“Lotta words dedicated to that, and why the rest of us?”

“I have to think on the trilogy level. I have words at my disposal, and there could be a plant and payoff type lesson in there somewhere. Disguise might come back with a huge upgrade. As far as the rest of you, Leo was wearing cast away stuff that belonged to you and the Cicis after you burned all his clothes in an earlier section.”

“There was nothing wrong with my shirt.”

“Nothing at all, if you’re a Space Chimp, but Leo isn’t. None of it fit right.”

“Plopping us in a resort city to go shopping doesn’t feel like a space opera.”

“You know why you were there, and it wasn’t shopping. You have the spy photos, the good guys want them, and that’s where they wanted to meet.”

“Why did Buffer wind up with Lisa’s vest thingie?”

Lisa stood and twirled. “Cute, huh?” Her vest extended into skirts alongside her thighs, and long tails in back. The buttons around her waist enhanced her figure.

“That’s how it works sometimes. Lisa has a great outfit, and I wrote it into the story. It might move in the wind or action scenes like a superhero outfit.” I turned to her. “This tea is wonderful.”

“Science Fiction Amazon seems to have everything. I can get you a six-pack of lightsabers if you like.”

“No. That was someone else’s story.”

Percy snorted. “At the end of the day, we didn’t sell our photos, and we didn’t get paid. It’s another wild goose chase.”

“True, but now you’re going to the secret scientific spy city.”

“That sounds more promising.”

“Hope so. I was going to call it the Skunk Works, but that’s a real place. Rat Works seems to have been adopted by a company. What do you think of the Snake Works?”

“Does it really matter?”

“Yes. I want it to be a city readers will remember. A place to explore and dwell on. I have some cool new characters at that location.”

“Great… even more to share page time with. And what’s with me ping-ponging between paranoia and trust lately?”

“It’s the life of a spy. You’re paranoid about everything, but Buffer is helping you see that trust is part of the mix, too. Both have their uses in this line of work. I need to come up with a name for the guy who runs the place. He’s going to be helpful to your career. Then I finally get to use Ray Dongas.”

“What’s his deal?”

“I decided the story needs one of my batshit crazy characters. I was reading about Radon Gas one day and the name just came to me.”

“What’s his deal?”

“He runs the warehouse district at The Snakeworks. Okay, it’s more like he rules it like a minor kingdom. He’s going to be, let’s call it colorful. He’s got to be some kind of alien, and might be a good guy to make friends with.”

“You haven’t let me make many friends, so far.”

“You’re a little bit prickly, sweetie,” Lisa said. “Maybe this is one of those times to trust. Trust your author.”

Percy pushed his cup away. “Got anything stronger?”

“There’s some WhistlePig Rye in the kitchen.”

“Guess I’ll have to trust that, too.” He made air quotes around the word.

Lisa got up to fetch the whiskey. “You know, Craig, you’re going to have a Ray in this series, but you’ve also written a Ray into the hat series. Are you worried about that?”

“Crap! I hadn’t thought about that.”

“Ha haha!” Percy pointed at me. “Looks like it’s your turn to be paranoid, dude.”

“Better bring a glass for me, too.”

***

I still need to come up with a new post for my next Story Empire slot. I’m not coming up with much. All I have now is something about the interpreter character, so that’s pretty thin. There are a few weeks left, so I might come up with something this weekend. Hope all of you are getting to do whatever you like for a couple of days.

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Filed under Muse, Writing

It’s a flex day

I folded up my iPad, then stared across my desk at the writing cabin.

Percy the Space Chimp lay on the couch. “Dude? Why’d you stop?”

“I think I’m done for the day.”

“Come on. Last time we knocked it out of the park.”

“Not all days are like that.”

“You didn’t even get a whole chapter written.”

“Nope. Twelve-hundred words approximately. These transitions are getting tougher. Your ship moves around the galaxy, and the crew can do fun things while travelling, but I have to keep them fun. I’ve already explored the ship and explained some things, like science fiction has a habit of doing. I can’t keep explaining it.”

“I like the action bits better.”

“You would, but these are the sections that make fans love you. You and Leo had a big victory in the early parts.”

“Yeah, but the ladies punished us for it.”

“Don’t you think that makes sense?”

Lisa Burton, my robot assistant arrived wearing a silver bodysuit. She placed out some tea. “I noticed you logged off.”

“What are you wearing?” I asked.

“You’re into science fiction right now. Maybe robot girls wear this in space. I noticed you were writing about tea, so I brought you some. I don’t have Huloran tea, like in your book, but this can substitute. I’ll check the science fiction version of Amazon to see if I can get the real thing for your next session.”

Percy slid over to make room. “Leo and I downloaded some magazines and stuff, and now your author friend thinks we should be punished for it.”

“It isn’t the content, it’s the way you went about it. Things like spacewalks are dangerous and you didn’t share your plan with the others. I don’t know what you’re whining about. I kept getting tazed or magnetized in my stories. Besides, the girls gave you your precious comic books eventually.”

I sampled the tea, then leaned back in my chair. “I know the next half-dozen big events that are going to happen. Getting between the places takes more thought the way I work. Eventually, Leo is going to piece together a mystery you didn’t even know was there.”

“Why Leo? I mean, the dude’s a good friend, but I’m the one here helping you.”

“Because you’ve kind of become the main character. Leo needs a win, and it helps his character grow. I need to let the others shine a bit, too. Auburn fixed up that robot and he proved helpful. The Cici’s helped with those gangsters, and their hive mind is fun to write. I still need something big for Buffer. She hasn’t done much since she killed that guy back on Denmouth.”

“That was an accident. I’ll testify to that.”

“Relax. She has some abilities I haven’t explored yet, and deserves some sections devoted to her. Right now she’s kind of a broken toy.”

“Aren’t we all?”

“Yeah, but that’s the point. You come together in a kind of pseudo-family. I’d like to dwell on Buffer for a few days before you land the ship again. If this is going to reach trilogy length, you’re probably going to have to help me for a couple of years.”

Lisa leaned forward. “I think we should talk about your robots. I mean, they all look like robots.”

“Yeah, shouldn’t they?”

She pointed to herself. “Hello!”

“No. This isn’t a story about you trying to fit in. Besides, there’s no way I can get you out there without breaking all the canon of the stories you’ve already been in. I’m sure we’ll have you pose for some promotional posters and send you on a tour eventually.”

“What about the Hat stories? I could pop back into one of those.”

Percy sloshed his tea. “Don’t remind him. He’ll jump projects again, and where does that leave me?”

“You need to calm down, or I’ll give you a case of mange in the next chapter.”

“It’s just frustrating. That’s all.”

“Low word count frustrates me, too. After all these years, I’ve come to accept it.”

***

That was my flex day. I appreciate those banner days when they happen, but they’re the exception. Today didn’t amount to much, but I moved the story along.

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My weekend plans

My only plan this weekend was to bleed and lick my wounds. It was a brutal week both personally and professionally. An errand interrupted me and I had to repair a headlight. (Again.) I never planned on a single word of new fiction, and that is still the plan.

However, Sean Harrington delivered a bundle of graphics for Good Liniment. Fans of The Hat Series know I pepper these with silly little graphics to make the stories even more corny. Here’s one, just for fun:

That led to peppering the MS with graphics, which involves a lot of gyrations. I’m pretty sure my formatter hates these, but they’re part of the series now. I used some of my down time to start reading the story and making more edits. I didn’t get far, but never intended to.

Authors are weird people, and I own that. My mind never turns off, even when I’m licking my wounds. Here’s an example of what happens:

Lisa Burton parked our spaceship in deep space, then followed Percy the Space Chimp and I into the lounge. We grabbed glasses of Angel’s Envy, on the rocks, and stared at the galaxy before us. Distant stars and nebulae stretched to infinity.

Our last writing session had been a big one, so we took in the view until I broke the silence. “What do you suppose the soundtrack of space is?”

Lisa said, “I like those big orchestral pieces that can match the grandeur.”

Percy rattled the ice in his glass. “It can also be something like David Bowie music.”

I sniffed the vanilin and took a sip of my drink. “It really could be whatever the writer thinks. I’m going to go with a little of Percy’s backstory. Obviously, I can’t write a soundtrack into my story, but this is what it sounds like to me.” I keyed the speaker system and brought this up.

“Are you sure?” Lisa asked.

”Just look out the window and listen. It makes perfect sense to me.”

”I get it, dude. What are you going to do with that thought?” Percy asked.

”Not sure, but it helps me interpret space. Angel’s Envy doesn’t hurt either. Hit me again, Lisa.”

***

I hope all of you are having wonderful weekends. I need to get back to Earth and catch up on your blogs. I might even do some long overdue reading if the mood strikes me. What is your soundtrack to space?

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Time to Speculate

I landed my gyrocopter at the writing cabin mid morning. Something felt off, but I had a decent idea to toy with.

Lisa Burton, the robot girl handed me a mug of coffee, as she took my hat and coat. “Percy’s waiting in your main office.

I looked at her nebula print skirt and how it hugged her curves. “You look ready for space today.”

“That’s where you left off last time. If I have to change for the Hat story, let me know.”

“You’re good. I want to go back and plant some things in my story. Just enough to lodge in the readers’ minds.”

Percy, the Space Chimp waited on the couch. “What are we working on today?”

“Not sure. I’m at a place I’ve never been before. Both stories are log-jammed in my mind somehow. I’m going to back up and add some data to your story. Maybe it will inspire me to move it forward.”

“What are you adding?”

“We already have Classic aliens. The kind everyone thinks of with big eyes, bulbous heads, etcetera. I’m going to give them a form of telepathy.”

“That’s been done, dude.”

“True, but my Classics are annoying. They invade people’s minds, they go on illegal adventure tourism, and most of my galactic inhabitants hate them.”

“I hate them.”

“Plays right into my hand. You’re the one that feels discrimination everywhere. Sometimes, when it doesn’t exist. It’s because you’re a genetically engineered species. When you discriminate in turn, it gives me a chance to teach you a lesson.”

“That’s bullshit, dude. I’m supposed to be the hero here. You know, heroic?”

“You still need some kind of character arc. Besides, it’s a team adventure. Maybe someone else can be the focus for a few chapters.”

“I doubt it. Don’t see anyone else here today.”

Lisa walked in and flopped down beside Percy. “I can remedy that. My database is full of contacts. I have everything from a talking yak to a devil lady called Mustang Sally.”

“What are you doing?” I asked her.

“Please. I monitored your typing speed, and you aren’t hitting any word count records today. Talk to us, maybe it will help.”

“Okay. The Midnight Rambler has taken refuge, and is building a fortress. His plan is to make Lizzie and the hat come to him. To fight on his turf, so he can kill the hat.”

“Sounds great,” Percy said. “What’s the problem?”

“Lizzie can’t just wait around until I send her into the big fight. She needs to be a little more proactive. I’ve expanded her world to a degree, and readers seem to love that, but the main story needs a bit more.”

“How did you expand it?”

Lisa leaned forward with a business card. “Castor and Pollux, Attorney’s at Law. Makes for a great side story with the attorney’s from the supernatural world, but I can see what he means. Side stories are great, but the main event needs to stack up properly.”

“I set the whole story during a major flood. We’re talking tornado sirens, rain, thunder, flooded buildings, the works. I can’t use Kevin as her street informant, because he lives in a culvert. He has to be missing somehow. I can bring him back in the future, but Lizzie needs something else this time.”

“Get rid of the flood,” Percy suggested.

“I can’t. I want Lizzie’s band to play a set of rain and flood songs.”

“That’s just stupid.”

“Now you get the point. The Hat stories are supposed to be corny. One day someone is going to leave me a review that reads, ‘This is the stupidest story I ever read, and I absolutely loved it.’ Sometimes people just need an escape from every day life, and a chuckle along the way.”

“Frenemies,” Lisa said.

“I don’t get it?”

“Back in Mrs. Molony, you introduced a female vampire that hunted the special events. You could bring her back to fill Kevin’s role for one story.”

“Oh yeah, short, stacked, flirty. She was a redhead.”

“Maybe you could have some fun with the frenemies concept.”

Percy slapped his hands together. “Great, we’re all stupid and funny now. What about my story? Why do the Classics have to be so creepy. Seems to me if they’re telepaths, there’s no reason for us to sneak about and do spy things?”

“Ah, you’ve reached that point. Someone who likes speculative fiction has to suspend disbelief in varying degrees.”

“I get that. I’m a space chimp genetically created from a dish-full of human and ape DNA. People have to believe that.”

“Nope. This is the deeper version. Why didn’t the eagles just fly the ring directly to Mordor? Indiana Jones had no influence on the story about the lost arc. It’s like time travel. Once you introduce it, there’s always the question about why someone didn’t travel backward or forward to fix everything.”

“Why don’t the cops ever show up? Why can’t Stormtroopers hit anything with their lasers?” Lisa added.

“Then why keep writing at all?”

“Because people who like speculative stories will go with the flow. Authors learn to add limitations and it helps make things more realistic. Your Classics have to be close to make it work. Maybe even invade personal space. That’s another reason why people shun them.”

“Okay, we completed half our spy mission and we’re floating around in the void. Let’s fire up the engines and do the next part.”

“I don’t want the second half to be like the first. You might complete the quest, but it has to pose a whole bunch of new problems.”

“And you don’t know what those are. Figures. I should have held out for a better author.”

“I know what they are, but it’s kind of like building a puzzle. Things have to fit together the right way. Thirty-eight thousand words in, readers will have already seen space travel. They know how the ship works. I can’t get any more mileage from that while you trek across deep space.”

“So we just float there until you figure things out. Meanwhile, you’re planning on bringing a vampire to the cabin? Lisa doesn’t have blood, so I have a little problem with that.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time one came here,” Lisa added. “Relax, Uber eats comes if I call them. We can order some dumplings or something, and she can snack on the driver. If I tip them well, they seem to keep quiet. She leaves them with a huge smile on their faces.”

“We didn’t get anything done.” Percy slumped back into the couch.

“I don’t see it that way. Sometimes thinking and talking things out is more important than word count. Besides, I got this long blog post out of the deal.”

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