Tag Archives: Lisa Burton

Fresh from the oven, it’s Macabre Macaroni

Lisa Burton
Welcome to Macabre Macaroni, 2017. I’m Lisa Burton, the robot girl, and I’m going to host the stories this year. I posted my new image full size this time, because some of you collect them. I’ll tone it down in the following weeks.

Macabre Macaroni will post every Tuesday in October, and it’s a collection of micro-fiction from my author C. S. Boyack. Today’s story explores the special relationship between parents and children. Some things are a bit confusing here, but that’s on purpose. It all becomes clear in the end.

Oh, and try not to cry, it’s bad for your circuits and messes up your cool Halloween mascara.

Life in the Shadows

Mindy folded a corner on the book she was reading. Something called an Experimental Notebook of some sort. She looked up at her daughter, Olivia, running around the playground.

Mindy decided to read another short story. Olivia seemed to be enjoying herself and it was such a nice day. Flowers bloomed, and the scent from the municipal rose garden made it all so much more lovely. She turned back to her book, when a man caught her attention.

He was only in her peripheral vision, and looked so tired and lonesome. He watched Olivia as she went down the slide. Mindy panicked and walked over to her daughter. The man was nowhere to be seen. “Time to go, honey. I still need to fix dinner. Your father’s working late again tonight.”

She buckled Olivia into her booster seat and drove three miles to her apartment. Olivia never fussed and always did what she was asked, the perfect child.

At the apartment, she sorted through the mail, then started cooking. “Honey, can you set the table for me? Then you can run upstairs and get into bed. I’ll heat up your bottle and be right up.”

“Yes, Momma.”

Mindy tested the formula on her inner wrist before heading upstairs. Olivia was so cute. Six pounds, three ounces, perfect size for holding in the rocker while she ate. Ten little fingers and toes. She sucked at the bottle and her eyes grew heavy.

Olivia’s father was missing too much. They needed the extra income, but sometimes it would be nice if he could share in all this.

She ate her meal alone at the table, while Olivia slept. She caught a vision of the man again, from the corner of her eye. She snapped her head around, but no one was there. She went through the house and tested all the locks before checking on Olivia.

The next morning Mindy yelled up the stairs. “Olivia, you’d better hurry up, or you’ll miss your bus.”

Olivia ran into the kitchen, wearing her cheerleader uniform. She grabbed a breakfast bar from the pantry, and picked up her backpack. “Chill out, Mom. I’ve got time. I won’t be home until after the game. Can you pick me up around nine?”

“Sure, honey. Have a nice day.”

She spent the morning reading, and cleaning. In the afternoon she colored the Easter Eggs, and wrapped all the Christmas Presents. Olivia was going to be so excited. The bicycle she bought for Olivia’s birthday was exactly the one she talked about all summer.

On the way to the gym, she spotted the man again on a street corner. He seemed to be crying and watched her drive by. When she looked back, he was gone.

Olivia looked so pretty, arm and arm with the handsome basketball player. She never protested when Mindy honked the horn, and came straight to the car.

The drive home was uneventful, and the man never appeared again. “I made all your favorites for supper. I waited for you. Get changed and we’ll eat together.”

Mindy sat the table like a gracious hostess and waited nervously for Olivia. When she finally came out, Mindy placed her hands over her heart and teared up. Olivia’s hair had been cut short, her three-piece business suit looked perfectly tailored, the huge diamond on her left hand sparkled under the lights. “Oh, honey, you look so beautiful.”

“Thanks, Mom. You really are the best, but we need to talk.”

“I don’t want to talk about that now. We have so much to do tomorrow.”

“I’ll bet it’s all wonderful too, but I’m not supposed to be here. You aren’t supposed to be here either.”

“Oh, nonsense. We have a perfect life together.”

“Life isn’t supposed to be perfect. It has struggles and imperfections. We have to accept some of that and move on. It’s time for you to move on too.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“It’s called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.” Olivia reached across the table and took her mother’s hand. “It happens, and none of it’s your fault. You need to forgive yourself and get on with your life. I need to get along too.”

“Aren’t you happy here, Honey?”

“It’s been great. You had so many plans for me, so many hopes and dreams, but none of this is real. A birthday every month, trick or treating every week.”

“But you’re so cute in your little princess outfit.”

“I really would have been, but it never happened. Daddy is worried sick about you. He spends every night in your hospital room, reading to you. Your coma has lasted seven months now. He can’t afford the long term care any longer, and you have to help him out.”

“But you’re my only daughter.”

“I’m your first child. You can have others, and what happened to me isn’t likely to happen again. I know you’re aware of him. I’ve seen him too. Always there in the fringes. He’s so sad.”

“He’s a grown man. He can take care of himself for a little longer.”

“This conversation always comes back to a little longer. He’s there right now. I know you can see him.”

Mindy looked, and the man was there on the edge of her vision. His rumpled suit looked like he’d been wearing it for days.

Like wind-blown leaves, a voice whispered, “Please come back to me, Mindy.”

Mindy’s blood ran cold and she straightened up in her chair.

“I heard him too, Mom. He’s at his wits end, and his financial end. His work is suffering and he could lose his job. You can’t help me, but you can help him. You can help yourself too.”

Mindy’s eyes blinked, and tears flowed. The dining room faded, along with Olivia. A plain white room took form over the elaborate dining table.

The voice of her husband came across loud and clear. “Please, Mindy, I’m begging you. I’ll do anything. I miss you, and I want you back in my life.”

Like a whisper, Olivia’s voice barely came through. “I love you, Mom. Try again, and stay away from those sleeping pills.”

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Filed under Short Stories & Vignettes

Now what?

I got to the writing cabin late today. Old What’s Her Face had to work and the dogs let me sleep in. Since this never happens, I took full advantage.

Lisa Burton sat in the front office drinking a bottle of peroxide.

“Stop! What are you doing? Don’t you know that stuff’s poisonous?”

“Really, after all this time you don’t understand the robot part of robot-girl?”

“Then why?”

“I’ve been out stumping for Quantum Wanderlust. The hosts usually have tea or some kind of special snacks. I eat it to be polite, but my holding tank needs cleaned on occasion.” She stepped from behind her desk wearing yet another new knee length dress; black with white polka dots. She proceeded to cartwheel across the office floor.

I turned away as her dress flipped up. “Stop! Nobody wants to see that.”

“Marilyn Monroe made a statement when her dress blew up.” She placed her hands on her hips. “Would you be more comfortable if I jumped up and down instead?”

“No, I don’t think that would make me comfortable at all.” I wrapped my hand around my beard. “Tell you what. I’m going to my office and you can do whatever you need to do – out here.”

“Fine. I can’t go around smelling like I have halitosis.”

I stomped off to my office and got started. Today was singularly unproductive to be honest. I pulled up my collection of storyboards and all of them need some work. I intend to write another novella next, but want to dive deep into another novel right on its heels. Neither storyboard is ready for prime time.

Storyboarding is my way of outlining. I always write faster with a good outline/storyboard. This means I need some solid daydreaming time. I may have to turn off the radio during my commutes, because that usually attracts the Muse. I have some great ideas, some fun vignettes, even some good characters, but no story yet. At least not ones I’m content with.

I feel bad about it, because I’ve only put out The Enhanced League this year. Enhanced League did great for about two weeks then flatlined. Yak Guy is close to ready, but I want to try something different with it. Here I am facing October, usually my best month of the year, with nothing new to promote. I’m going to push some of the older stuff, and I might come up with something for the baseball playoffs. Maybe I should have started on The Hat sooner and gotten it ready for an October release. Fact is, I didn’t so there’s no use dwelling on it.

My mind is in a weird place too. I got another great review for Panama today, and Quantum Wanderlust is starting to get a few reviews. Sales are kind of dismal though. There are so many free and 99¢ titles available I don’t know what else to try to get readers. It isn’t really about the money, but it would be nice to cover the expenses in putting the books out.

I never actually step away, but this is as close as I’m going to get. I need some time with my thoughts, but those thoughts are going to be about my storyboards so I can keep writing stories. I will try to come up with something that resembles a plot and character arc for the storyboards I have. This may take a few days or it may take a few weeks. No telling.

While that’s going on, I have a list of short stories I could dabble at. It never hurts to have a few of those in the bank, and they could lead to a future Experimental Notebook.

Regrouping for me. Do any of you ever get to this phase? I never see other authors talking about it.

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Filed under Muse, Writing

Quantum Wanderlust, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa BurtonWelcome to a very special edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and we have something fun going on today. Thirteen outstanding authors have teamed together to bring you an anthology of short stories called Quantum Wanderlust.

In the interest of full disclosure, Craig has a story in the collection too.

Today, we’re chatting with Alberta who is an aerospace engineer. “Welcome to the show, Alberta.”

“Thank you, Lisa. I’m excited to be on your show. I’ve never been on the radio before. And call me Abbi, please. Alberta makes me think of my mother when she is angry with me.”

“What led you to working in the aerospace industry?”

“I’ve always been quite the science geek. When my schoolmates were playing with Barbie and plastic jewelry, I was building spaceships with my brother’s Lego. I never really had to decide what to do after high school, Polytech in Turin sounded like the only viable option. After that I applied to ESA, the European Space Agency, for an internship and the rest is history. There are so many possibilities in space, you can’t even imagine. Or maybe you can. But what really attracted me was the travel itself. The challenge is covering unimaginable distances as fast as possible, bringing astronauts as near as possible to the speed of light. Actually, getting there would change our perception of space but also of time.”

“Of time? How so?”

“You need to think about time as another kind of dimension, just like space. Einstein taught us that everything constantly travels through space-time at the speed of light. This motion is usually ‘spread’ on these two dimensions and it can be distributed differently. If an object is still in space, it’s only moving through time. When it moves in space too, its motion through time gets slower. This slowing down is infinitesimal in day-to-day life, so we don’t feel it. But when the speed of an object gets near to the speed of light, its motion in time slows down significantly. Are you still with me?”

“I think so. You’re saying that when your speed increases, the flow of time slows down.”

“Exactly! The point is time is going at the usual speed at your starting point, so if you go back after a while, time would have passed much faster for those who stayed behind. It would be like going into the future. And this is amazing! If we can reverse the process too, we could go back and forth in time. I can’t stop thinking about the possibilities. We should devote so much more to this kind of research.”

“Abbi, that sounds like it’s almost an obsession. What caused you to dedicate your entire career to time travel and all it could bring?”

“Well, it’s– Usually I don’t talk about this. People tend to regard me as a mad person when I do, but the fact is I actually travelled in time once. I was only five years old. My brother and I were playing in the garden at my parent’s house in Italy. We went into my father’s shack and, when we came out, boom! We were in the future. My memories are a bit foggy and I discovered what really happened only recently, but it was life-changing for me. I had a glimpse of the future, my future. I know what was bound to happen, I knew what I was destined for. How many people can say the same? From then on, all I had to do was work to make that future real. And that’s what I did.”

“My bio indicates that Pietro didn’t handle this quite the way you did. He seems to think you shouldn’t interfere in the process. Does this cause any stress between the two of you?”

“My brother is – how can I put it – quite unscientific in his approach to life. I work with facts and figures, he prefers to deal with feelings and purpose. Pete wasn’t as curious as I was to understand the how, he was more preoccupied with the why. He doesn’t approve of my work and tried over and over to talk me out of this. I want to make time travel real, he is sure the chance to go back and forth through time shouldn’t be accessible to everyone. He says it could be incredibly dangerous in the wrong hands. But who are we to decide for everyone? Needless to say, Pete wasn’t happy to discover I was working on a prototype of the time machine.”

“Wait… You already have a time machine?”

“Well, sort of. ESTEC is a great place for an aerospace engineer to work, but time travel isn’t exactly their priority. So I started working with a group of colleagues who were interested in my ideas. We borrowed a place and some equipment–“

“Borrowed?”

“There is a lot of unused space in the basement under ESTEC exhibition, you know. And there is a lot of scrap material unsuitable for the main projects. Let’s say we hate wasting. When things became bigger we found a… sponsor. I can’t reveal his name but I can tell you, he sees the potential in our research and he is passionate about this kind of science.”

“You’ve really put a lot into this, and I hope it works out for you, and for childhood Alberta too. Don’t you find it interesting that you’re creating a loop for yourself? Childhood Alberta shows up, adult Abbi has to help her return to her own time. This fuels the interest in time travel research and starts all over again.”

“We made great strides in this field, but we still know very little. I’d like to make further tests on this, to see if this loop thing is something we can change or if it’s beyond our control. Would it have changed anything had I stayed in Amsterdam that day, had I never met my child-self? Or space-time continuum would have found a way to bring me here anyway? I know this sounds a lot like talking about fate, and it doesn’t sound a lot like a scientist, but great discoveries require something like a leap of faith. Just think about what time travel could mean for future generations. We could have a look at the past and learn from our mistakes or see the outcome of our decisions in the future. I’m not saying everyone should have this chance, but small groups of selected people sent at the right time in the right place could work wonders.”

“It’s an exciting discovery, no doubt. Whatever the ramifications, the world just changed and I, for one, can’t wait to see what develops. Any closing remarks for our guests today?”

“Oh, well. I’m not… I don’t know… My brother is the one to go to for motivational speeches.”

“Don’t worry about it, Abbi. You can always come back in time and redo the show so you can leave some awesome remarks.

“Please use those sharing buttons on your way out today. Quantum Wanderlust is a free book, and all the authors would appreciate you helping spread the word. I’ll include a purchase link on the website, but since it’s free it would really help if you could pick your copy up today. Clusters of downloads really help with Amazon’s rankings.

“If you’re feeling extra generous, you could add it to your reading list on Goodreads too.

“For Quantum Wanderlust, and Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.”

***

Quantum WanderlustWhat if you had all the time in the world?

Thirteen authors answer that question with short stories about time travel. Go back in time to right a wrong, forward to see the future. No jump is too large, no method unfeasible, no lesson beyond learning.

• Visit the past to learn a family secret.

• See the formation of a future dictatorship.

• Assume responsibility for weaving the fabric of time.

• Travel back in time to WWII.

• Use a family heirloom to solve problems.

• Wear an inheritance to visit ancestors.

• Leave a dystopian future for the hope of something better.

• Make history come true in an unexpected way.

• Fight evil fairies to protect a chosen angel.

• Live with the childhood memory of visitors until the day they arrive.

• Seek medical help for a memory issue and get way more than bargained for.

• Discover that with great power comes great responsibility.

• Uncover the secrets of a pharaoh’s tomb and curse.

Do the characters observe or interact? Is the outcome better or worse than the original timeline? Read these stories to learn how far they go, how they get there, and what happens when they return.

The scope is virtually limitless, definitely timeless.

Irene’s story in Quantum Wanderlust is called Children of Time.

Irene Aprile has been writing since she was a child, but she decided to pursue her passion only recently. During her detour from writing, she read tons of novels, took a degree in Chemistry and got married to an amazing patient man who puts up with all her notebooks and papers scattered all around their house.

Now she lives a double life: chemist by day, writer at night. She loves many kinds of stories and works with multiple genres. Her chick-lit Secrets of a Handbag is due later this year. In the meantime, she is working on Undercover, the first volume in her science-fiction/spy story series.

When she isn’t chained to a laboratory counter or her laptop, she loves spending time with her family, shopping for books, handbags and shoes (more than she can read, use and wear), and falling in love with TV series.

You can get in touch with her through her website http://ireneaprile.com or through these social media links:

E-mail | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

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Filed under Lisa Burton Radio

Lisa Burton talks about Quantum Wanderlust


Hi, everyone! As you probably read, I recently participated in another anthology published by AIW Press. Today, I’m delighted to welcome back Lisa Burton the robot girl. Personal assistant to author C. S. Boyack, etc. Spokesmodel for his books, etc. Read more here

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Filed under Writing

Try out a FREE anthology

I’m proud to be part of this anthology with a talented collection of authors. This time the theme is all about time travel, which is a science fiction standard. How could I not say yes?

I’d never tackled the subject before, and was a bit apprehensive. The publisher didn’t put any restrictions on me as far as travelling into the future or past. As long as time travel was the basis, I was left to my own devices.

I struggled with coming up with a cowboy story, but it just never came together for me. Then the Muse visited, and I changed directions. I hope you’ll enjoy Quantum Wanderlust, and I already have my copy.

The best part for you is this is a free collection. It is available everywhere, and this Universal Link will let you choose the vendor of your choice.

My story involved a lot of research, and I was at risk of becoming a victim of the Research Sirens. I have the dates right, the real people who appear in the story, specific locations, and even some of the research into the discovery.

Our book rankings depend upon a strange algorithm. My experience is that a cluster of downloads all at once will rank a book higher than the same number spread over a couple of weeks. I encourage you to pick up your copy right away, even if you wait for a snowy afternoon to read it. I already have mine.

Other things that help us are those sharing buttons at the bottom of this post. A few tweets and Facebook shares really mean a lot.

Of course, reviews matter too, and I would appreciate if you would leave one. This helps me garner more invitations to participate in future anthologies.

Now this wouldn’t be a C. S. Boyack project without some participation from my spokesmodel, Lisa Burton. Feel free to use Lisa’s poster as your telephone background or wherever you like. From Lisa’s poster, see if you can guess which story is mine.

Lisa Burton

Spring forward, fall back.

That reminds you of changing the clocks, right? When we talk about the passage of time, it’s usually in short bursts (seconds, minutes, hours) or slightly longer chunks (weeks, months, years).

What if it was limitless? What if you could go forward or back, in any size segment you wanted? Decades, centuries, eons? Would you go back and change your life? Go forward and see your future?

That’s the challenge thirteen writers faced.

Quantum Wanderlust is a time travel short story anthology. Characters travel forward and back—how far they go and how they get there make fascinating tales. Do they observe or interact? Is the outcome better or worse than the original timeline?

You’ve got to read the stories and see for yourself. The scope is virtually limitless, definitely timeless.

 

What if you had all the time in the world?

 

Thirteen authors answer that question with short stories about time travel. Go back in time to right a wrong, forward to see the future. No jump is too large, no method unfeasible, no lesson beyond learning.

 

  • Visit the past to learn a family secret.
  • See the formation of a future dictatorship.
  • Assume responsibility for weaving the fabric of time.
  • Travel back in time to WWII.
  • Use a family heirloom to solve problems.
  • Wear an inheritance to visit ancestors.
  • Leave a dystopian future for the hope of something better.
  • Make history come true in an unexpected way.
  • Fight evil fairies to protect a chosen angel.
  • Live with the childhood memory of visitors until the day they arrive.
  • Seek medical help for a memory issue and get way more than bargained for.
  • Discover that with great power comes great responsibility.
  • Uncover the secrets of a pharaoh’s tomb and curse.

Do the characters observe or interact? Is the outcome better or worse than the original timeline? Read these stories to learn how far they go, how they get there, and what happens when they return.

The scope is virtually limitless, definitely timeless.

Dang that is a good looking sphinx. One more time, in case you missed the Universal Purchase Link.

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Filed under Writing

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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Filed under Muse, Writing

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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Filed under Muse