Tag Archives: Lisa Burton

Still editing

I have more editing to do, so I headed for the writing cabin after tending the dogs. I flew the little gyrocopter low across the forest, around the meadow, and banked toward the landing strip.

That's when all Hell broke loose. An explosion sent rocks and sod soaring over a hundred feet into the air.

I pulled up on the stick and banked right. When I came around, the cabin still stood, but I wondered what the hell was going on.

Lisa Burton crackled across my radio. “I was paying attention to something else. Didn't know you were getting so close. Come on in, I promise it's safe.”

I touched down but veered at the end to avoid a six foot stone that landed at the end of the runway. The gyrocopter veered off into the soft dirt and grass. I left it there, and climbed out of the cockpit.

Lisa came running. “Sorry about that. I've been trying to dig a spot for your underground thingie. It's too rough for a shovel, so I tried the tractor. That didn't work either. Turns out Idaho is a sequence of granitic batholiths. I can't get your thing deep enough any other way.”

“It's a shelter, not a thingie–“

Lisa pushed me behind the gyrocopter.

She pushed down on the plunger and my knees buckled beneath me.

“Stop that!”

“Sorry, I thought you needed the shelter for your next story.”

“It's one of my next stories.”

“I found the outline and checked it out. Estivation is a cool title. I googled it, and it's like hibernation only in extreme heat.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“So what are we going to do down there, once I get it installed?”

“I figured we'd lock ourselves down there for three months, just like the people in the story. One of my author friends did some extreme research and she–“

“Oh, Hell no. You can stay down there for three months, but I have to take care of Bunny.”

“Bring him with us. It'll be fun.”

“Right, fun, until you go all Jack Nicholson from being locked up for so long.”

“I'll tell you what. You finish installing it, and then we'll talk about it. I have some editing work today.” I headed for the cabin. “And no more blasting while I'm here.”

“Killjoy. Fine, I can clear the hole with the tractor until you leave. I'll save my blasting until you go back to work.” She grabbed the gyrocopter with one hand and dragged it back onto the runway. “What about the other story? Is there something there I can work on while you're editing?”

“Not many special props for that one. It's called The Hat, so you can pick up a hat if you want.”

Squeee! I look good in hats, I'd better order a bunch of them.”

“That's the spirit. Nice quiet internet shopping while I work on Yak Guy.”

“You've got it, boss.”

“And you're going to have to bust up that rock and get it out of here.”

“No problem. With explosives.

“What's that?”

“Oh, nothing.”

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The Editing Cabin???

Frankie did her pee pee dance about six o'clock this morning, so I rushed her outside. I fed her and Otto, then headed for the writing cabin.

The place is quiet and has been for some time. Doubt the raven isn't very good company, and I always feel like he's judging me about something. I fed Lisa's rabbit and flitted between projects.

I managed to assemble the next Lisa Burton Radio post, and contacted the author for the week after that. I did a lap through social media and email before putting my editing jacket on.

I managed four chapters, and it's amazing what you'll find when you put a project aside for a month or two. I never really put The Yak Guy aside for that long, but these are early chapters and I probably haven't looked at them for six months. I found a couple of sentences that didn't make a lick of sense, but they do now. I also found a word that was too modern for the setting. It was waterbag, which is what we used to carry on the survey trucks when I was a young man. I used the term waterskin throughout the book, and it's easy to see how I got it in there. It had to go, and I fixed it. Doubt glared at me as if I still didn't have it right.

I spent some time also reading four chapters of a book. My spare time is scarce, and it's either reading or something writing related. Today I decided to split my time between the two. That was until a rumble sounded across the forest and meadow.

I ran to the front porch and stared into the woods. Something distinctly red flashed between the trees.

Lisa Burton roared down the gravel road on her new/old motorcycle. She slid to a stop on the elevator at the end of the runway, then lowered everything into the basement.

I ran back inside to meet her at the top of the stairs when she came up. “It's good to have you home.”

“What's going on out here?”

“Just tending the animals and doing a bit of editing.”

“I can see that. How did you ever get that thing on anyway?”

“I don't know, just part of the magic at the writing cabin.”

“Did you manage to write something while I was away?”

“Not so much. I scratched out a Macabre Macaroni piece, but I don't know if I'll keep it. Maybe I should start calling it the editing cabin. There hasn't been much writing going on this year.”

“I'm sure there will be. Lorelei the Muse won't let you stagnate.”

“I'm sure. Looks like you bought yourself a new toy.”

“Oh yeah, isn't it pretty. I won enough money on the cruise ship to pay for it, and still have money left over. Wanna go for a ride?”

“Um, maybe later.”

“Okay, I'm going to unpack and visit my poor lonely Bunny.”

“Glad to have you back. I think your posters came out great this time.”

“They were nice, weren't they? I like my umpire one best. I looked serious and fierce in it.”

“You had a no nonsense look on your face, that's for sure. Um, Lisa?”

“What?”

“Turns out getting into my editing jacket is easier than getting out of it. Do you mind?”

“No problem, turn around and I'll untie your sleeves.”

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Let’s all celebrate High Treason

Back in 1776, a group of British subjects, men of stature and position, signed a document that proved conclusively they were committing high treason. Today we would call it Exhibit Number One at their hanging.

Their chances of success weren’t all that good, England held the most powerful military on Earth, and had all the muscle they needed to crush these rebels like grapes.

More signatures were added later, but they all walked in knowing what the stakes were. I find this line to be almost chilling, but very few take the time to interpret what it’s actually saying: “… with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

They weren’t kidding either. The penalty for this kind of treason was death. These were educated men, with something to lose, but they consciously chose to move ahead.

Americans are not held in high regard these days, even within our own borders. Still, the ramifications of the Declaration of Independence circled the globe and changed the course of history forever. Even the British monarch no longer holds the kind of power held in 1776. I think those ideals in the document are something we can all still support.

Happy Fourth of July from Entertaining Stories. You guys be careful with fireworks out there now.

Still reading? You really should go have a beer and a hotdog. As a late addition I find that Jefferson should have used an Oxford comma. I also find it interesting that he wrote honor, as opposed to honour. It was written by a British subject at the time. Finally, knowing the military odds, I think divine Providence must have played a role in the outcome.

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Tuning up a manuscript

I woke up at 6:30 today. Hey, my wife had to work, and I'm on vacation. If the puppies let me sleep that long, I'm taking advantage of it.

I made it out to the writing cabin about 7:30. I had three dogs to feed, and forced Otto into a short, slow walk around the park next door. He's been pretty sedentary, and I wanted him to move around a little bit.

Lisa is still gone, having scheduled her own vacation right after she finished up posing for Sean Harrington. Right now, it's just me and Doubt the raven. A little bit of that New Orleans chicory coffee and I went to work.

I opened up The Enhanced League and started into my reading. My beta readers all pointed out things I used, and I wanted a final reading to make sure everything still flowed. They all had some ideas I didn't use too, but that's kind of how beta reading works. These wonderful people helped me make the book so much better.

Doubt spotted a spelling error and a formatting issue too. For these short stories, I usually start off with a date followed by a colon. Some of them had a location immediately after that, and some didn't. I revamped everything, replacing the colons with periods, and made sure they all had a location. This involved my fictional broadcast team being in some places where the location isn't relevant to the story, but that's how I did it. If nothing else, it helps define how big the league is.

I sent off an email to my formatter. I last contacted her in late April, and feel bad for taking so long. Life has a way of interrupting my writing career, and that isn't all bad either.

I decided to break up the work by assembling and scheduling a guest post for tomorrow. This is pretty simple to do, but it takes some time. I emailed the advance link back to the guest, and checked that off my task list.

Then I decided to start writing blog tour posts of my own. I only managed one, about something new in this book that I call anthems. I wrote about my inspiration to create them, and how I used them in the book. I still have more posts to write, but it feels good to get started.

That's when the phone rang. “Hello.”

“Hi, this is Lisa. Just wanted to see how you're getting along.”

“Oh, fine. It's the first day of my vacation. How's your vacation?”

“It's good, I finished up with Sean yesterday and grabbed a bus out of town.”

“A bus?”

“You know robot girls can't pass through TSA machines. It's a bus or come home to get the rocket-pack.”

“Oh yeah, from the second Notebook. Where did you decide to go?”

“I'm in sunny Southern California right now. There are cruise ships operating out of San Diego, and I may decide to play a little blackjack.”

“Hardly fair with your card counting skills.”

“It isn't illegal to be smarter than they are. Besides, it's my main source of spending money.”

“What about your paycheck?”

“That's cute, but it doesn't provide the kind of wardrobe I'm used to.”

“Well, try to have a good time. Then I need you to help me with a time travel story. Right after that I need to polish up The Yak Guy Project. Before you know it, we'll be starting on The Hat, and Estivation. We need some Macabre Macaroni stories too.”

“It all sounds like fun. The posters are going to be awesome.”

“With you and Sean, I never have any doubts. Can't wait to see them. Do you think I need to find a bus depot and pick you up eventually?”

“Um, I'll keep you posted on that. Bye.”

Research Note: The Henderson Motorcycle Company was an American company. If it were still around, it would be revered right alongside Harley Davidson. They were part of the Schwinn Bicycle company. The Henderson Streamliner is an Art Deco masterpiece.

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Working on my edits

I took a more leisurely approach getting to the writing cabin today. Puppies decided to wake up at 4:00 am, and they were hungry. After feeding and walking them, I went back to bed and all of them crawled in with me.

Bulldogs apparently don't have any concept of personal space. Otto was the best of the three, because he was happy to conk back out. After repeated attempts to keep tongues out of my nostrils, and noses out of my armpit, the puppies went back to sleep.

The writing cabin was a cold quiet place this morning. Lisa* is absent for a few weeks. She is hanging out with Sean Harrington and working on promotional posters for The Enhanced League, and The Yak Guy Project. I found detailed instructions for everything from making coffee to feeding her pet rabbit, Bunny.

I dragged my feet taking care of everything. Editing of any kind is not my favorite thing, and I knew what waited for me in my office.

He glared at me with inky black eyes. It was a look you might see at the end of your life, like when a great white shark bears down upon you. His black beak aimed my direction and followed me to my desk. I took a seat and opened the files I would need.

Doubt, the raven, hopped off his perch and glided to my desk. I paused, then opened the window in hopes he would leave for the day. He looked at me like he was disappointed at my childish antics.

I don't speak raven, but they make the damndest collection of noises. They aren't crows, and this one is from Mt. Olympus. He's more than an ordinary raven. He paced across the desk while waving his head from side to side in disapproval. “Jugaluggg, blork. Jugaluggg, blork.”

I knew what he meant. He thinks it's all crap. I massaged and tweaked my manuscript while he voiced his disapproval.

Enhanced League got a lot of volunteers for beta reading. I hoped for four, and got seven. I only hope Yak Guy will get half that many when the time comes. Everyone had something wonderful to offer. Commas were deleted, then added back, before being deleted once more.

My UK readers had a tough time with this one, and I expected that. Baseball is popular in North and South America, and in major parts of Asia. Not so much in the UK. I struggled with how to make it accessible to everyone, but had to make an executive decision. Professional ball players would not realistically discuss the basics of the game. They are veterans of the sport, and some things are understood so well they would never come up. This means, I've limited my audience for this book. It makes Doubt happy. He feeds off my worries and concerns.

One of them suggested that some baseball cards might help keep track of everything. It's an outstanding and creative idea. I just don't think I can commission the artwork to support a .99ยข book.

I managed to get through four of the reports before the real world called me back. I'll need another day to get through the rest, but that won't be the end. I will have to re-read it one more time before I can send it to the formatter.

All in all, I feel pretty good about it.

* Lisa Burton is my robotic personal assistant, and the spokesmodel for my writing career.

***

In reality, it looked a lot like this. IPad Pro with its split screen; one side for Enhanced League, the other side for email. This is because some readers sent notes in an email along with the attachment. My old iPad has all the beta read documents on it. I do it this way, because the pro won't allow me to use the split screen on the same program. I can't open my word processor twice. Truth be told, I really like this setup, and I'm glad I kept my old iPad for this reason.

I had my phone there too, but used it to snap this picture, so you can't see it. The other important device is a cup of chicory in a weak attempt to hang on to my vacation.

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It’s a party, yo! #RRBC style

Welcome to my stop along the Springtime Book & Block Party route. Let’s get the preliminary stuff out of the way first. I’m giving two prizes away, and you don’t have to be a member to win. All you have to do is leave a comment, and a random draw will decide the winners. Contestants are only eligible from North America, due to the restrictive cost of shipping.

So what could you win? How about one of these awesome coffee mugs, featuring my personal assistant, and the spokesmodel for my writing career, Lisa Burton the robot girl.

Look how beautiful that marble bust looks, oh and Lisa looks nice too. These things are huge, and you’re going to want one.

This time the party took me by surprise. Last time we did one of these, I timed a book release around it, and that worked out extremely well. I don’t have a book release today, but I can still give you the tour.

At the top of my blog there are a couple of pages that might interest you. There is the standard “about me” page, but there is also a free selection of Lisa Burton paper dolls if you’d like them. I wanted to come up with some swag for an author who only has ebooks available. Make sure you print the pdf files and not the images shown.

The fun one is called Lisa Burton Radio, I’ll let her tell you about it.

“Hi everyone, welcome to the new visitors, and I see some familiar faces here too. The show is really fun, and I interview the characters from your books. At the end I include covers, bios, purchase links, whatever you want, really.

“When the post goes live, I share it to Flipboard, Stumbleupon, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and two Facebook sites. I try to help as much as I can. I’m always looking for guests, so drop me an email. If you want to check out past interviews there is a link in Craig’s sidebar. I’ll let him tell you about the sidebar, he loves his sidebar.

Thanks, Lisa. I also tweet out the five most recent interviews every week after Lisa finishes with them. My sidebar starts out with a link to obtain a free reading app. As an ebook guy, I don’t want to make it difficult for anyone to read my stories. Then I post the two most recent publications with direct links to those books. I have all the covers in a slideshow, because it doesn’t feel right to have them all on there. Lisa mentioned the blog categories, and this is where you can always find her interviews. Those of you who write speculative fiction might find some inspiration in the Idea Mill posts too. Oh, and before I forget, there is an Entertaining Stories Facebook page too, if any of you are so inclined. It’s the only place you can see videos of my dog, Otto. (Don’t laugh, I know some of you are into this stuff.)

That’s the grand tour. Hope everyone is enjoying the party, it’s one of my favorite events. I hope to have two new books coming out soon, but I got caught without them ready yet. One is a collection of short stories called The Enhanced League, about a futuristic baseball league. The other is kind of an alternate world fantasy novel called The Yak Guy Project. Coming soon, I promise.

I guess if I’m going to promote something, The Playground could use a bit of review love. I know some of you are holding shiny new Amazon gift cards at this point in the tour. The club even has a list of who you are. Mwa ha ha…

For those of you who aren’t RRBC members, this is an awesome club. We thrive on mutual support, and it’s kind of a pay it forward system. We’re growing by leaps and bounds, and we’d love to count you among our members. There are too many benefits to mention here, but things like this blog party are happening all the time. Why don’t you check it out at this link.

Party on! Sign up for your own character interview. Leave me a comment. I love interacting with everyone, and you could win a prize.

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Hello, Writing Cabin

I tromped into the writing cabin and caught Lisa unprepared.

“I thought you were reading and stuff. Let me just tidy up real fast.”

The office looked emaculate and I told her so. “What kind of mess can one robot girl make while I'm out? You don't even have to cook.”

“Dust, there's still dust even if I'm completely gone.”

“Suit yourself. I finished my backlog of projects, and decided to try a bit of writing today. You know, just to see if I remember how.”

Lisa broke into action, making coffee with one hand while she took out the Swiffer and went over the floor with the other one. She took a dust cloth and ran ahead of me to my writing desk.

The raven of Doubt glared at me from his perch. He bobbed up and down a few times in excitement.

“Not yet, dude. I'm not doing any editing today. It's time to move the Yak Guy ahead.” He knows The Enhanced League is ready to start editing, but I don't feel rushed to dive in yet.

I started by rereading my last few chapters. I made a small correction or two, and Doubt gave me the stink eye. Lisa showed up with coffee about the time I started writing.

I wrote one short chapter and it was kind of draining. It came in slightly over 3000 words. I don't know if it's because I hadn't written in a while, or because of the content. This chapter involved the end of the yak. He's been such a central character to the story it was hard to see him go.

“I'm really going to miss him,” Lisa said. “He's been at the cabin for a long time.”

“He has, and the next go round maybe we'll see the end of yak guy, Ted.”

“Then what?”

“Then, you probably have to pose for more posters and plan for a worldwide blog tour – or two.”

“That's always fun, then I'm going to use some vacation time.” She opened the window and let in some fresh air. Doubt took the opportunity to stretch his wings at the same time. She sighed as the yak crossed the meadow and headed for the snowy peaks. “He played a mean game of chess, you know.”

“Really, how did he move the pieces?”

“He told me the moves, and I moved them for him.”

“Kind of like he was playing against the computer then?”

“Not kind of, he was playing against me, my processors, and memory. He won more than a few too.”

“Maybe you can get him to come back for your radio show someday. Did you put his data in your Rolodex?”

Please, I'm completely electronic, you should know that by now, and yeah, I have his contact data.”

I checked email, and answered blog comments while she stared out the window.

“So what happens next?”

“Yak guy has to finish his journey. After that, I have a couple of novellas I want to try. That's how it will work out in a perfect world. They could be long short stories or short novels depending on the experiment.”

“What are we talking here? I might need to buy some new outfits for these stories.”

“One is a kind of paranormal superhero origin story.”

“Is that the one with all the hats?”

“Yes, ma'am.”

“So you'll want the paranormal office then.”

“Absolutely. The other one is a spin on the lifeboat story. It has a science fiction background, but they're stuck in an underground bunker for a specific amount of time. The problem is they can't leave, and the antagonist is in there with them.”

“Got it, I already earmarked a bunch of hats and can get them ordered. I wonder what scream queens are wearing this season?”

“I'm sure you'll figure it out before we start. We have to give yak guy some closure first.”

The enchanted beer horns sounded off and came running. They curled around my ankles like a pair of cats.

“Hi guys, I missed you too.”

Lisa said, “I got a nice doppelbock from McCall Brewing for you to try. It's called Dunce Cap.”

“Huh! Did you pick that specifically for me?”

“Of course, I know doppelbock is your favorite.”

Woosh!”

“Don't woosh me, I know what you meant. Do you want the beer or not?”

“Of course, besides, these guys won't stop honking unless we fill them up.”

***

For those of you so inclined, I opened a Pinterest account earlier this year. I started a couple of boards called The Hat and Estivation that relate to my upcoming projects. You can check them out here.

 

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