Tag Archives: Lisa Burton

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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Filed under Muse, Writing

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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Filed under Muse

Return to the Writing Cabin

I got an early start today, and flew to the writing cabin in the dark. It’s been snowing like crazy in Idaho, but we have a lull today. It’s the first of six days off I have, and intend to make the pixels fly.

Snow covered the landing strip, but I managed without too much of a problem.

Lisa my robotic assistant met me at the back door. “Glad you made it. What are we working on today?”

“I looked at her ‘Lizzie and the Pythons’ tee shirt. “Cute, but it looks like you already know.”

“I knew you’ve been dabbling from home, and took a WAG.”

“Good guess. Let’s get started.”

“There are some people in your paranormal office.”

I wound my way inside to find a chimpanzee in a space suit, sitting beside a man whose head had been replaced by a flaming jack o’ lantern.

The pumpkin guy wore a black tuxedo. “I know I’m going to finish my part today, but I could wear other outfits, maybe cover some different roles in the story.”

“Make sure Lisa has your contact information. I may need a cop with a pumpkin head later on. Can you change your head out? It should look a little different.”

“They can do it down at the union hall. Thanks for your consideration.”

The chimp spoke up. “What about me, dude. You’ve left us floating in the yellow zone for a month.”

“That’s not completely true. You passed through the yellow zone and are floating in enemy territory. You guys were always a side project for when I run into rough patches. The Midnight Rambler will hit one, then I’ll move you to your spy project.”

“When might that be?”

“I have a nice stretch of writing time. Might be in the next few days. Besides, you’re earmarked for a trilogy, so chew on that.”

“Lucky monkey,” the pumpkin head said.

“Don’t call me a monkey. I’m a Space Chimp. An ape, not a monkey.”

“Calm down. I need to finish up with him today, then Lisa can cashier him and send him home.”

“And then it’s back to the space opera?”

“Maybe. I have a couple of gods I need to work with. Twins from the Gemini constellation.”

“I’ll see your twins and raise you twenty-six identical clone chicks.”

“How did I get stuck with you, anyway. The Cicis are hot.”

“All Humans seem to feel that way, but I couldn’t care less. I think it’s because I’m becoming the main character right now.”

“Be a good… Chimp, and let me work on Midnight Rambler. I need three complimentary titles for your trilogy. Work on that. I’m thinking of ones that read, ‘Of X andY,’ where the variables change per volume in the series.”

“Fine.”

“And can you do it in the other office? This is where paranormal stuff happens.” I settled in to work, and it turned into a banner day. It came to around six-thousand words on Midnight Rambler.

It’s kind of dialog heavy, but The Hat books always seem that way. Still, there was some good stuff happening. Lizzie might have found a boyfriend, we drove a magical car, and a major storm event is keeping her from any real success. Then there was a major shootout at Eat The Worm, one of the Pythons’ main venues.

Lizzie’s boyfriend needs life sustaining drugs, and the only person who can make them is missing. Boyfriend is on a clock now, and the storm isn’t helping.

That’s where I decided to call it a day. I picked up the Space Chimp and we walked into the lobby.

Lisa counted out cash for the pumpkin head. “I love your tux.”

“Thanks, your author gave it to me. I love your tee.”

“I had to steal it. I’m not in this story, but one of my old calendars is.”

“Do you get a residual for that?”

Lisa glared at me. “Doesn’t look that way.”

“Bummer. If you need me again, just call.”

The extra left, then Lisa turned to us. “What happens next?”

“I’m going home. This is Percy, and you can hang out with him.”

“He’s been here a week. I know his name. We finished the originals, do you want to start on the remake Planet of the Apes movies?”

“Eh, why not. Gives us something to do while the mighty author plays with his paranormal stories.”

I’ll make you some popcorn.”

***

That was my day. We’ve had so many leftovers from Christmas, but we’re finally getting down to the end. Turns out goat cheese dip makes for a fair lunch, and chocolate eggnog is good in coffee. I’ll take up the keyboard tomorrow, but Percy is likely to be disappointed for a few more days.

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Lisa Burton visits the Murder Blog

I sent Lisa Burton over to visit Sue Coletta today. Sue is one of my favorite authors, and I’ve read most of her books. She also has one of the most interesting blogs out there. Make sure you check out her blog and wares while you’re over there. I recommend all of them highly.

***

Join in me in welcoming Lisa Burton. Did I mention Lisa isn’t human? She’s a robot girl and spokesmodel for my buddy Craig’s writing career. Shawnee Daniels and Lisa go way back to when Lisa hosted her own radio show. If memory serves, I believe I had to drag Shawnee out of there before these two went head-to-head. So, if you’re reading the Mayhem Series, please don’t tell Shawnee she’s here. 😉

Welcome to Murder Blog, Lisa! Keep reading here.

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A busy day today

I just finished my interview on Voice of Indie. I had a great time, got to talk about my process and published work. We even talked about the two I recently finished that are coming soon. The show is over, but will be available in the archives at this link https://www.blogtalkradio.com/voiceofindie1/2021/07/22/voice-of-indie-episode-051

I set up two freebies to announce on the show. They promoted this in their newsletter, and the results were phenomenal. Check out these images.

Grinders peaked at #3 in its category. It’s still free for another 24 hours, so if you would like a copy take advantage of this promo. http://mybook.to/Grinders

Serang peaked at #2. Same rules apply. Free for one more day. http://mybook.to/Serang

Old What’s Her Face and I went to Zoo Boise this morning. I wanted to do this as soon as they announced their new Stellar’s Sea Eagles. This is because I designed the Omcrom from HMS Lanternfish from them. Covid took care of that for me, but today I visited them after the fact.

Sea Eagle

These guys are huge. They were a bit snotty and stayed where I couldn’t really see them until their misters turned on. This guy hopped right down to enjoy his shower and gave me this image. They are bigger than our bald eagles or even the golden eagles around here. Very impressive.

Lisa with the Omcrom

I also saw several varieties of hornbill. Their cages aren’t the best for photography, but I took some anyway. I used these guys to design the anvil bird from Lanternfish. I added the ability to speak and a bit more color, but this is the root creature.

Lisa with the anvil bird

We saw all kinds of things, but they were as hit by the heat as we were. Most were shaded up and sleeping. The red pandas were out, but we mostly saw a bushy tail hanging from their nest.

I got to see the gibbons which also excited me.

The blond one hung out on the ground and took advantage of the shade. This one was accommodating. I have something in mind for a gibbon in a future story.

It involves a comic book character called Special Agent Golden Gibbon. In my story, a couple of my characters are impressed with this fictional character in their world. One will be inspired to take some risky actions based upon what Golden Gibbon would have done.

This is me being weird again. My fictional story has a fictional creation inside it. I might even write some outtakes from the comic into the story once I start drafting it. How many layers of fiction is that???

We had a great time, and even picked up gyros on the way home. After all that heat, I took a short nap, then it was time for the radio show. It wound up being a great day.

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Just a clicking away

I got to the writing cabin at a decent time this morning, then made my way to the paranormal office. I rolled the top of Patty Hall’s old-fashioned desk back, then opened my document.

Lisa Burton, my robotic personal assistant walked in.

Lisa Burton

“Ta-dah! Ready for work, Captain.”

“Yeah, um… We finished that one, remember.”

“You’re here to do edits, though, right?”

“I’m going to wait until August. Let it clear my mind a bit.”

“The raven of Doubt will be so disappointed. He’s been super excited to help you.”

“He can wait, too. I’ve been working on something for Lizzie and the hat. It’s fun, and keeps me busy.”

“Does he become a pirate hat?”

“No.”

“Great, then I have the wrong outfit. What should I be wearing?”

“Nothing special. I need some help with research, and you’re faster than I am.”

She took a seat on the couch. “Okay. What do you need?”

“Well, we’re back to witchcraft in this tale. Every one of the witches has a different base for their magic. I need you to find some things I can use.”

“Like elements and stuff?”

“Yeah, but not completely. There’s plant magic, death magic, weather magic. Maybe one can have art magic.”

“What about Lichtenberg marks?”

“What the hell are those?”

“People get these elaborate scars when they’ve been hit by lightning. They also show up in lawns, and even wood. Turn on your iPad and I’ll bring them up.”

“Those are cool. They almost have to be magical. I can work with that.”

A knock came at the front door. “Probably your Amazon guy. Get rid of him, and let’s go to work.” I flipped through the images while Lisa got the door.

When she returned, she had guests. Consultia, Libraria, and Wiki, the Research Sirens.

“Okay, I know you ladies are good, but I have words to write.”

“Nonsense words, if you don’t have some facts ready,” Consultia barged into the room. Her giant Afro bounced as she clacked across the floor, then sat on the couch, crossing her long legs.

Libraria followed in her sexy librarian garb, stacked her books on my coffee table, then took a seat on my desktop.

Red headed Wiki wiggled her fingers in hello, as she sat in the wing backed chair.

“If you want to know about Lichtenberg scars, let me set you up with some interviews. It would be best if you could see them in person, and consult with a doctor,” Conversia said.

“I can book us tickets to Congo,” Wiki said. “Lightning strikes there more than anyplace on Earth.”

“I can’t go to Congo. Besides, that’s dangerous.”

“How will you really know unless you experience some of these things?” Libraria asked. “The smell of ozone, the explosive feel.”

“All I need are the scars. I don’t intend to write a lightning storm.”

“We might find a fulgurite,” Wiki said.

“What’s that?”

“It’s a stone configuration left behind after a lightning strike.” Libraria opened one of her books. “See.”

“Those are cool. I can use those in the story.”

Wiki looked at her iPad Mini. “If you’re willing to fly on standby, I can get some good rates.” She turned it around and held it by the Pop Cap on the back as if I could see that far.

“All five of us?”

“You and Lisa,” Conversia said. “We have other methods and can meet you there.”

“I know your tricks. Lure unsuspecting authors onto the rocks of research so they don’t get anything accomplished. I write fiction. It has to be plausible in the story world, not factual. You’d have me so far down the rabbit hole I’d never come out.”

Libraria looked over her glasses, and my heart stopped. She leaned over and kissed my forehead leaving me with a face-full of cleavage. “But it’s such a sweet rabbit hole.”

“Uh-huh. Whatever you—”

Lisa snapped her fingers in my face. “Come out of it. You know their tricks, but they can be helpful. Just focus on what you need.”

“What I need is something written by a guy named Cotton Mather. He’s like the patron saint of a group—”

Libraria returned to her books and selected a gigantic tome. “I brought his entire collected works. You should read all of it, so you have a better understanding, and can choose the best part.”

“How did you know I’d want— Nevermind.” I flipped through the pages. “Oh, Hell no. I need to base something off his words. My readers would shoot me if I wrote like this.”

Conversia leaned forward in her scoop-necked dress. Tiny bits of glitter flashed in the light against her ebony skin. “It was a long time ago, and people were pretty flowery back then. I know three historians who can give you a real feel for his time and role back then. Maybe even a trip to Williamsburg.”

I closed my eyes and calmed myself. “I’m writing about Lizzie and the hat again. I only need references to a few things, and a snippet or two. It’s their story, not his. They are outside observers to this world, so they don’t need to know how everything works.”

Wiki turned her iPad around once more. “He had silly hair.” She wrinkled her nose in an adorable silent laugh.

“You can stay, and you can help, but I’m giving Lisa total control. If it goes too far, she pulls the plug. I don’t have months to fly all over the world for something that might be two lines in my fiction. Even though you are fun company. Agreed?”

Libraria slid into my lap and leaned her head on my shoulder. “Agreed. Shall we get to work?”

***

Needless to say, today wasn’t one of those word-count giants. I did learn some fun things that will show up in Good Liniment.

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Executive Decision

I really didn’t want to publish Lunar Boogie over a weekend, but reality hit me sometime Saturday night.

Once I go back to the office, I’m not going to have any time to deal with things. To deal with those things, I needed a purchase link.

Amazon can take up to three days to push a new story through it’s mill, and that’s happened to me before. I went ahead and pulled the trigger Saturday night.

Now I can update my banner (Cool full moon), the sidebar, claim the book on BookBub and others. I still need to do it on Goodreads, but could find time today.

A link also lets me finalize any tour posts before sending them out. These are all things I can’t do during the work week.

For your reading pleasure, you can check out the sidebar for a link to the new story.

This is also the direct link: http://mybook.to/LunarBoogie

It’s a book now. Lisa Burton and I will be touring it around for a few weeks, and I hope to see you along the route. I’ll be sharing those posts here so they’re easy to find. Each post is unique, so they won’t get repetitive.

I hope everyone will give it a chance. Short novel length, dark humor, characters that everyone has enjoyed before. Check it out.

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A writer’s lament

Hi, I’m Craig, and I haven’t written a new word for two weeks. I’m unlikely to get more next week unless something changes.

Sounds like an AA meeting.

The fact is, this has been the busiest week of the year at my workplace. I was heavily involved in prep leading up to all this, too. At some point, I kind of left it all on the field, to use a sports phrase.

Old What’s Her Face and I have had the same days off, too. This isn’t particularly useful when it comes to penning new material.

I have some leave coming up, and may get to do some writing then. However, I have a stockpile of errands that will interfere to a degree if I don’t plan things well. I have to get my truck serviced, and take care of a small repair. I also have to get it sniffed for pollutants. Then there is the matter of swinging by a hardware store for some blade oil for my chainsaw. My fruit trees need some tough love and it’s best done before the sap rises.

I’ve also promised to make a quick trip to Nevada to visit my parents, so here is a rough plan. I’ll get the truck taken care of Friday morning, then go find a station that can do my sniff test. Somewhere in that vicinity, I need to find any hardware store for my oil. I will leave directly from there for Nevada. That will kill Friday, but might salvage some other days for writing purposes.

Then there is the plot problem. I’ve been dwelling on it for weeks, but have an inkling of what I want. Nothing like a long car drive to help focus some of this. It isn’t like Lanternfish needs a new character, but I’m going to introduce one. My cons can keep a secret easily enough, but adding a third party to their game could introduce some extra stress. Stress is a good thing for characters.

Normally, in times like this I would switch stories. However, I’ve finished the draft of Lunar Boogie, and want to focus on Lanternfish. It’s probably crazy, because I lost two weeks that I could have been working on something else.

I also need to keep reading what I’ve already produced. That will help me sort out what cartoons I need to order for Lunar Boogie, and I need to put some thought into Lisa Burton promotional posters.

Lisa poses a different problem. How many pirate girls can I commission here? Same thing for Lizzie and the hat. It was simple enough to do when the first book came out, and even the second volumes. This deep into both series, it gets harder to come up with things.

I’ve had Lisa pose as Serang, then in Serang’s new armor. She’s posed as Lizzie the monster hunter, Lizzie the musician, etc. I’ll figure something out, of course, but it might be a few less than I usually do.

I’m looking forward to finishing the Lanternfish trilogy. I’m down to getting the last pieces in place before things really break loose. This is the middle slog, but there are some big things planned that I expect to almost write themselves.

On the bright side, I only committed to two books this year, and one of those is drafted. I have to keep things moving, because it’s already March, but I’m not in a bad position here.

I hope all of you are doing well, and not facing your own writing problems. I’ll sort mine out, then Lanternfish will move fast.

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Lorelei Comes for a Visit

My company left at around 10:30 this morning. I haven’t honestly had a writing day since before Christmas and was looking forward to some quality time.

I arrived at the writing cabin and got ready to work. My robotic personal assistant, Lisa Burton dropped off some coffee, then waited for instructions. She wore boots and leggings and an oversized sweatshirt with a wide collar, exposing one bare shoulder.

“I need to read what I have before I get started. It’s been so long I can’t decide whether to pick up the Lanternfish story or the one about the hat.”

“If you need anything, just yell. I’ll be in the front seeing if there are any online bargains today.”

I had started reading Lunar Boogie when Lisa returned. “You have a visitor.”

Just what I needed on the first quality day in weeks.

Lorelei, the Muse, stepped around Lisa and into my writing office. She was as tall as Lisa, but less curvy. Beautiful in a Greek goddess kind of way. “What’s this I read about you toning things down in 2021?”

I held my palms forward in a gesture of peace. “That was about my publishing schedule. I want to satisfy the fans and get some series books out there. After that, who knows what I might do.”

“That’s where I have a problem. Your act of creation fuels me. I let you take some time off last summer, but it can’t become a habit. In fact, you haven’t been behind the keyboard since mid-December.”

“Calm down. There’s a difference between publishing and writing.”

“I’m listening.” She moved to the recliner in the corner and sat down.

Lisa took a place on the couch in case there were assignments.

“I intend to publish those two books, but will keep writing. I have several storyboards and am kind of missing my stand-alone stories.”

“That doesn’t sound like a plan. Maybe you just need some inspiration.”

“That’s as good as you’re getting right now.”

“Did you know the laws of salvage are nothing like people think? They’re actually about how a good samaritan deserves compensation.”

“Seems like a quick change in topic, and one of your tricks to me.”

“If someone were to rescue or preserve something, could be goods, or even part of a ship, they receive a lien against those items. The owner has to make good on the lien before claiming the goods.”

“So, it’s not just finders keepers?”

“Not at all. In fact, you could be charged with theft by keeping the items.”

“What if there’s nobody left alive to claim the items?”

“The country of origin can also participate. Spain will occasionally make a claim when someone discovers a sunken treasure ship.”

“That’s a maritime system, and I don’t see it working in the Lanternfish plot.”

“Just because something is on your property doesn’t make it yours, either. Otherwise, whenever someone walked in here you could claim everything they have.”

“That’s right, so pull that top off and hand it to me.”

“Ha ha. Nice try.”

“So, you’re telling me that if an alien ship crashed on my ranch, I can’t claim the wreckage. I can render a service and claim compensation, but can’t keep what I find.”

“Seems about right.”

“But the country, or planet of origin, could make a claim in our Earth courts.”

“In theory, yes.”

“I think if it were me, I’d take as many pictures as possible. Save them to a thumb-drive to protect them from government deletion, then share the photos with every news service and social media format I could find. The government couldn’t cover it up then.”

“Might make you a fugitive.”

“Almost certainly. If I filed my claim right away, there would also be a court record. That’s a bit safer place for the evidence.”

Lisa leaned forward. “The aliens probably wouldn’t go to court. You might gain possession by default, given enough time.”

“If only it weren’t for the damned Feds. They’ll try to take everything and claim it was a weather balloon. They won’t get away with it, because I have photographic evidence and good filings in the court. Once something is in the court record, they aren’t going to cough it up.”

“Looks to me like even losing possession of the wreckage, you’re poised to make yourself a celebrity speaker and go down in history as bringing the existence of aliens to the general public,” Lisa said.

“I’d need a place to hide for a while. I’m sure the Air Force or FBI would want to haul me in. It would have to be off the grid someplace.”

“You’d be dodging those guys for months.”

Lorelei stood, then dusted her palms together. “I think I’m finished here. Good to see you both again.”

“Wait a minute,” I protested. “You played me, but it won’t work. I have my own storyboards to jump on.”

“Looks like my little scheme failed. I’ll let you get back to your writing. Have a happy new year.”

“You, too,” Lisa said.

I watched Lorelei walk down the hall until she turned into the living room that served as the front office. “Did you keep any notes?”

“Your robot girl is on the job.” Lisa polished her nails on her sweatshirt. “I have a video recording of the entire meeting.”

“Why don’t you reduce the video to notes. I’ll get set up for storyboarding, and we can work on it together.”

“That sounds fun.”

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