Tag Archives: Macabre Macaroni

Macabre Assessment

There is never a good time to assess a cluster of posts. The first one had longer to get discovered than the last one. This seems like as good a time as any to tally up some results that won’t teach me a damned thing.

Every year, I’m baffled by the results, and this year is no different. My favorite is never your favorite, and that’s okay. I’m not going to change my novel writing schedule based upon the assessment of 1000 word blog posts.

Your favorite story was the one called Flipping. It involved a property flipper who had a ghostly encounter inside his newest acquisition. I have to admit there was a strong character in this one, and I think that carried the banner to victory.

Your least favorite one was All the Time in the World. This one involved a time traveler who screwed his own timeline up beyond repair.

Dishonorable mention to Companionship, that involved a ghostly dog waiting for his owner in a rest home. It only had one more view than the time travel story did.

The rest fell somewhere in the middle. My favorite was Our Secret lives about two werewolves who hate each other in their human lives, but are mates when the full moon shows up.

You also liked the Halloween Pack about the app that created a monster. It had a certain Goosebumps quality to it that I thought was fun too.

What does it all mean? Nothing actually. Maybe it involved the day I posted, and the results would be completely different if I’d changed the order.

I’m leaning toward doing it again next year. It all depends upon life and what it throws at me. I write them for my own entertainment as much as anything, but I hope you enjoyed them too.

I’m not going to scrap any works in progress, or storyboards, and rush right into another haunted house story based upon these results. They’re just for us to have fun. Maybe to start a discussion.

There are a couple of points to make here. If you missed one, or just want to revisit them, they are under the “Short Stories & Vignettes” category in my sidebar. You might find some other interesting things there too.

Lastly, I want to touch upon the point that I have books available. If short stories and micro-fiction is your thing, I have either two or three collections depending upon how you score them. I say this, because The Enhanced League stories serve to tell a bigger tale overall. The Experimental Notebooks involve more true collections.

All of the short fiction is .99¢ on Amazon.

Lisa wants to know if there are any tricks to removing “Sharpie” marker from your skin.

Lisa Burton

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Cooking Something Up

“Welcome to October at the writing cabin, and I’m here in the kitchen with my robot assistant, Miss Lisa Burton. Today we’re baking up a batch of Macabre Macaroni.

“Now, I’ve already boiled up the pasta and put it in a colander to drain. Lisa, can you pass me the butter to grease our casserole dish?”

“Hang on, I’m still getting my costume on. It takes time to be a fashion plate you know?”

“What seems to be the holdup?”

“I’m trying to get these stitches right. Can you pass me the purple marker? They ought to bruise a bit around the edges.”

“I, um, I can’t find it. Is it one of the ones in your left hand?”

“Oh yeah. I didn’t think I’d used it already. It’s important to look scary for Halloween.”

“Yeah, um. Scary wasn’t my first thought here.”

“Well, I’m not finished yet either. Just go cook your stuff and I’ll join you in a minute.”

***

Lisa Burton

It’s October, and that means Macabre Macaroni. These are my name for bits of micro-fiction with a Halloween theme. I run this every year, and I hope you enjoy them. They’ll post every Tuesday this month. I look forward to hearing what everyone thinks.

Note: I posted Lisa’s poster at full size here. Some people collect them and this is the one to download. I’ll size it down for the weekly stories.

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Fallout from the Muse

I slept in a bit today. When I woke up my head was filled with ideas. After playing ball with the bulldogs, I hacked out a story about two people who hate each other. Think liberal vs conservative level hatred. Everything about them is diametrically opposed. There is a paranormal element to it, because I intend it to be one of the Macabre Macaroni stories for my blog in October.

It was much longer as I conceived it, and looked like it might have to be one of those “Tune in next week for the dramatic conclusion” stories. The challenge is to bring them in at blog length, so I started paring it down.

It’s a bit long at 1200 words, but I like it. When October rolls around, I hope you will too.

My mind is full of other things like vignettes of one kind or another. My stories always begin with a character, but they soon move on to the vignette stage. This isn’t a story by any stretch, but it’s nice to have a head full of things to mull over.

These don’t necessarily fit the October blog theme, and some of them deserve a longer format after I figure them all out.

I also started reading a craft book. I have a novel set up on my phone, and can dedicate lunch breaks to it starting tomorrow.

My weekend labors are at an end, but I’m content. It never really ends, but I moved some projects ahead. I have four days next weekend too.

I’ll have to start actual editing then. I’ve ignored Lanternfish for the proper amount of time, and need to dig in.

I still need one more blog length piece, but the visit from the Muse was invigorating. I’m sure something will come to me before the last week of October.

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A small update

I sat at my desk and did some blog chores. I scheduled a post for a guest, assembled and scheduled another interview, and responded to an additional inquiry.

I got up and carried my iPad to the paranormal office, turned the skeleton key, and went down three steps onto the cold stone floor. The gargoyle in the corner looked like an old friend. I placed my hat on its head, crossed the pentagram inlayed into the floor, and rolled open the top on Patty Hall’s old desk.

There are already a couple of micro fiction pieces on my disk, so I reviewed those. They aren’t great, but they have the bones of something better. One of them has a bit of a science fiction thing going for it, but that’s okay for Halloween.

Still, they could be better. They could always be better. I needed at least a couple more ideas to pull off Macabre Macaroni this year.

Lisa came in wearing her full pirate regalia. “There you are, matey. I thought you were in your office.”

“This is my office too, technically.”

“True. I just got a text from Lorelei. She’s going to be stopping by.”

“If there were ever a time for the Muse to show up, it’s this weekend. Why are you still wearing your pirate gear?”

“We both know it’s just a matter of time before you decide to start editing. Doubt the raven has been hyperactive lately. He knows it’s coming too.”

“Sometimes I wish Lorelei had given me a different animal. One that means cash and lots of it. Some kind of golden goose or something. Don’t they have those on Olympus?”

Lorelei swung around the doorframe. She wore a blue summer dress, and her brunette hair spread clear to her shoulders. “Are we feeling a little overworked today?”

“Yeah, in some ways. I have lots to do, and I don’t seem to be getting everything accomplished.”

“Is that a new perm?” Lisa asked.

“Yes. You like it?”

I leaned back in my chair so they could get all the girl talk out of their systems. I may have emitted a small sigh.

“Okay, look. I know you have tons of ideas,” Lorelei said. “I’m no slacker in that department. What seems to be the problem?” She moved to the couch and patted the seat beside her.

I sat beside her, but stayed rigid. She leaned into my side. The sandalwood she always wore was intoxicating.

“I don’t have a bunch of great ideas at micro length. I have at least three that will work at novel length, and two that might make good novellas, but need about three that will work for Macabre Macaroni. Then I need to–”

She placed a perfectly manicured finger to my lips. “You’re just out of practice. Take stock for a minute. You’ve done your blog chores. You have a couple of micros, and maybe the raven can help you with them. Something will come to you. It always does.”

“I’m supposed to be reading, editing, and spending some quality time with BookBub too. When am I supposed to do all that?”

“You have four days. Pace yourself and it will all get finished.” She leaned in and kissed my cheek. “It doesn’t matter what you work on. You’re working and things are forging ahead. Now, I’m going to catch up with Lisa and leave you to it.”

I went back to the desk and stared at a blank page for a few seconds, but not before watching her walk away. Then I wrote out a story about a cell phone app that seemed to fit the coming season. To be honest, I like it better than the two I already have. A Muse is a wonderful thing. She doesn’t have to say a word, and the ideas just show up.

I checked my calendar, and I need two more by the middle of October. There really is time for everything. Sometimes I get angry with myself when I think I should have gotten more accomplished.

I’ll earmark some specific time for BookBub after I call my parents tomorrow. That will be my priority. If there is time remaining, I’ll go back over the micros I have and see if I can make them better. Then I may actually open one of those books I’ve been promising to read. Monday will be for whatever’s left. Maybe I can get the next interview settled.

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Kinda late tonight

I’ve been dabbling all night. I scratched out a shtick for Lisa Burton Radio and sent it out. Someone wanted the last July date, and there’s plenty of time to put it together. Still have some August openings if you want one.

On the way home I was accosted by a character. I dwelled on her story, and hacked out a micro piece just now. It needs some work, and kind of wants to be longer than one blog post.

I’m going to make it behave and stash it in my Macabre Macaroni folder. If I get enough of these things, I can do my October thing again this year.

I probably shouldn’t be worrying about anything other than my novel, but getting a draft out at this length doesn’t take too long. I’ve gotten the character out of my head and can start on the novel without her fictional baggage.

I have a few ideas for the next section of Lanternfish, and will probably just start writing and see where it leads me. I’ve produced some good bits this way, and just fleshing out the scenes can get me on the right track.

Old What’s Her Face went to Nevada today. It’s their annual Art in the Park event, and she wanted to go. This gives me one day to work on whatever I want.

Things are looking kind of peachy in my back yard tonight. I may have to taste test this year’s crop to see if they’re ready.

I survived the partial work week, and am looking forward to my one personal day to do whatever I want.

Hope all of you find time for yourselves this weekend too.

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Saturday night

Just got back from Old Chicago. Earned my Halloween tee-shirt, which has a cool pumpkin faced graphic on it. It also means I’ve had a few beers as I write this.

I got Lisa Burton Radio assembled for the week. I have another one to work on for next week, and that’s about it. When I asked for volunteers for some free promo, I got an overwhelming response. I sent  everyone a questionnaire, but some of them never came back. I have no intention of doing followup on them. They have a skin in this game too. LBR gets a lot of reblogs, social media shares, and click throughs on the purchase links. While I have no idea whether  the consumer goes on to purchase the book, I think LBR is a win, and a great promo opportunity.

Because of this, Lisa is about ready for more volunteers. I’m not going to hit this too hard yet, because I want my regulars to get first shot at the opportunity. Becoming one of my regular readers ought to be good for something.

I save emails. I doubt if anyone else has this problem, but I don’t delete some that might require interaction later on. I have a whole string of folks I sent a questionnaire to dating back to late June. If they never responded, I’m going to delete them. This means you may have a promotional opportunity here. The timing is perfect for any Christmas stories you might want to push.

I also assembled the final Macabre Macaroni for 2017. I hope you guys enjoyed these. I like writing them, and they seem pretty popular this year. The final one involves a species called Little Brown Bat. I wrote the story as if that were his name, but it’s actually a species.

Part of my research involved verifying something I already knew. Bats in flight use their tails to scoop the insects into their mouths. This was first discovered in a lab, using strobe lights and still photography. I saw the video years ago, and it’s amazing. I could not find that video, but this one shows one bat using the technique to capture a moth in flight.

Oh yeah, I do research even on my micro-fiction. Hope everyone enjoys the final one this year. It posts on Tuesday.

I still need to write something for Chris Graham in November, and have zero ideas. I may write it about the pet character in fiction. I write a lot of animals, and find they can serve a useful purpose. Maybe I’ll take a stab at a first draft tomorrow. Too much beer tonight, and the World Series is on. Maybe later, my son and I can play video games.

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Saturday night

Just got back from Old Chicago. Earned my Halloween tee-shirt, which has a cool pumpkin faced graphic on it. It also means I’ve had a few beers as I write this.

I got Lisa Burton Radio assembled for the week. I have another one to work on for next week, and that’s about it. When I asked for volunteers for some free promo, I got an overwhelming response. I sent  everyone a questionnaire, but some of them never came back. I have no intention of doing followup on them. They have a skin in this game too. LBR gets a lot of reblogs, social media shares, and click throughs on the purchase links. While I have no idea whether  the consumer goes on to purchase the book, I think LBR is a win, and a great promo opportunity.

Because of this, Lisa is about ready for more volunteers. I’m not going to hit this too hard yet, because I want my regulars to get first shot at the opportunity. Becoming one of my regular readers ought to be good for something.

I save emails. I doubt if anyone else has this problem, but I don’t delete some that might require interaction later on. I have a whole string of folks I sent a questionnaire to dating back to late June. If they never responded, I’m going to delete them. This means you may have a promotional opportunity here. The timing is perfect for any Christmas stories you might want to push.

I also assembled the final Macabre Macaroni for 2017. I hope you guys enjoyed these. I like writing them, and they seem pretty popular this year. The final one involves a species called Little Brown Bat. I wrote the story as if that were his name, but it’s actually a species.

Part of my research involved verifying something I already knew. Bats in flight use their tails to scoop the insects into their mouths. This was first discovered in a lab, using strobe lights and still photography. I saw the video years ago, and it’s amazing. I could not find that video, but this one shows one bat using the technique to capture a moth in flight.

https://youtu.be/MgRh_Q_xwys

Oh yeah, I do research even on my micro-fiction. Hope everyone enjoys the final one this year. It posts on Tuesday.

I still need to write something for Chris Graham in November, and have zero ideas. I may write it about the pet character in fiction. I write a lot of animals, and find they can serve a useful purpose. Maybe I’ll take a stab at a first draft tomorrow. Too much beer tonight, and the World Series is on. Maybe later, my son and I can play video games.

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Saturday night

Just got back from Old Chicago. Earned my Halloween tee-shirt, which has a cool pumpkin faced graphic on it. It also means I’ve had a few beers as I write this.

I got Lisa Burton Radio assembled for the week. I have another one to work on for next week, and that’s about it. When I asked for volunteers for some free promo, I got an overwhelming response. I sent  everyone a questionnaire, but some of them never came back. I have no intention of doing followup on them. They have a skin in this game too. LBR gets a lot of reblogs, social media shares, and click throughs on the purchase links. While I have no idea whether  the consumer goes on to purchase the book, I think LBR is a win, and a great promo opportunity.

Because of this, Lisa is about ready for more volunteers. I’m not going to hit this too hard yet, because I want my regulars to get first shot at the opportunity. Becoming one of my regular readers ought to be good for something.

I save emails. I doubt if anyone else has this problem, but I don’t delete some that might require interaction later on. I have a whole string of folks I sent a questionnaire to dating back to late June. If they never responded, I’m going to delete them. This means you may have a promotional opportunity here. The timing is perfect for any Christmas stories you might want to push.

I also assembled the final Macabre Macaroni for 2017. I hope you guys enjoyed these. I like writing them, and they seem pretty popular this year. The final one involves a species called Little Brown Bat. I wrote the story as if that were his name, but it’s actually a species.

Part of my research involved verifying something I already knew. Bats in flight use their tails to scoop the insects into their mouths. This was first discovered in a lab, using strobe lights and still photography. I saw the video years ago, and it’s amazing. I could not find that video, but this one shows one bat using the technique to capture a moth in flight.

https://youtu.be/MgRh_Q_xwys

Oh yeah, I do research even on my micro-fiction. Hope everyone enjoys the final one this year. It posts on Tuesday.

I still need to write something for Chris Graham in November, and have zero ideas. I may write it about the pet character in fiction. I write a lot of animals, and find they can serve a useful purpose. Maybe I’ll take a stab at a first draft tomorrow. Too much beer tonight, and the World Series is on. Maybe later, my son and I can play video games.

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Smells like victory


I fiddled with stuff yesterday and today. I managed to write and send out one more post about Quantum Wanderlust, the free anthology I get the honor of appearing in. If you still haven’t gotten your copy, it’s available for free at this link.

I also wrote up, sent out, and scheduled the coming Lisa Burton Radio post. Beyond that, I responded to some new applicants and got them some materials to get things started.

One more friend has a new book dropping soon, and I got his announcement post assembled and scheduled. I have a review all ready to go for him too, because I was one of the beta readers on this project.

My favorite beta reader has an opening, and I sent her a copy of The Yak Guy Project, along with some general conversation.

Aside from that, I added a bunch of things to my calendar so I can keep up with the guest posts I have coming up for October. I can usually remember, but there are too many coming up for me to trust my memory. Some of the sites are new to me, so I don’t want to drop the ball and fail to show up on someone.

Speaking of which, I have a habit of picking a random day and tweeting out the most recent five Lisa Burton Radio posts every week. I like to deliver a bit of extra support, and while Twitter doesn’t amount to much, it can help the authors. I never promised to do this for anyone, it’s just my extra effort. I went back through the list, and I have several authors who never even bothered to show up. Some of my regulars reblogged, tweeted, facebooked, etc. They never even got a thank you. Today I skipped over those posts in my retweeting. Does that make me a bad host? I kind of feel like it, but why should I put in an extra effort when the author didn’t put in a first effort?

To all of you who use the sharing buttons, or reblog my posts, I appreciate you. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ll be there when you need me. All you have to do is ask. Reference the new book posts that have been appearing on this blog.

Macabre Macaroni will be every Tuesday in October. People seemed to enjoy my Halloween stories, so I’m doing it again this year. I always worry about these, because they don’t go to beta readers, they’re micro-fiction. I guess the comments will let me know what everyone thought. The first one of those is all scheduled and will post this Tuesday. It seems like one of them is always a big hit and I can’t predict which one it will be. I honestly have no idea.

I got a bunch of reading done today, and a bit of video gaming too. I really need to use the calm morning hours for reading, but when everyone starts stirring I can dedicate myself to other things.

My baseball team anchored home field advantage for the MLB wildcard game. This is a one-game playoff to see who moves on. I kind of want to do something with The Enhanced League to celebrate, but have no idea what. I have some free days available, but those are hit and miss. Any ideas here? Win or lose, I’m excited my team made it this far and it’s been a long time. You can bet I’ll be watching the game on Wednesday.

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Assessing 2016

I managed just under 2000 words this morning on my novel. I've reached a point where I need to decide whether he goes through the next section alone, takes up a sidekick, or gathers a small band. This means I need to think about it for a while. I'm leaning toward the sidekick, because it prevents his talking with the yak who is his mentor. It also provides someone to protect and worry about. I know where he goes, and what he faces, but any extra tension is always welcome.

Because of this, it's time to work on my 2016 assessment. This is kind of a personal “good, bad, and ugly.”

I wanted to read more mainstream stuff in '16, but never read a single one. Independent fiction kept me pretty busy, and I need to change that. Branching out is always good for learning, and inspiring the muse. I did manage one graphic novel, and enjoyed the heck out of it. Graphic novels don't exactly qualify as mainstream in my book though. I want to get back to Jim Butcher and Cheri Priest.

I wanted to expand my footprint into Facebook. I did this in the form of a Lisa Burton profile, and an Entertaining Stories page. Lisa is more popular than my page, go figure. I try to keep them a bit different, and a few Otto videos went on the Entertaining Stories page that Lisa never got. I'm still learning here, but I'm having a good time. It's a great way to find old sci-fi artwork, classic cars, inspiration for Lisa Burton posters, and bulldog images.

As far as the blog goes, my number one post was a short fiction trick. I wish I could repeat this, because it has over 3000 views and counting. In fact, the subsequent post about how Flipboard drove most of this traffic was in my top ten posts. My third most popular post was “We go Spying With Lana, on Lisa Burton Radio.” (1200 views and counting.)

It seems like anything with Lisa is a popular post. I don't even have to include a graphic, and the writing cabin type posts are popular. It probably means nothing from a promotional standpoint, but it makes me think I must be getting her strong personality into the posts.

I've heard from the more chatty folks that Lisa Burton Radio produced a spike in sales for them. This is kind of a plus/minus for me. Lisa has a hell of a time getting enough guests to keep her interviews going. Places to promote books seem to be getting more scarce, and these interviews are the only ones like them that I know about. I want to keep them going, but need authors who want to take advantage. I'll just mention here that it's absolutely free, and I share them on Stumbleupon, Flipboard, two Facebook sites, and I tweet them out frequently.

An interesting observation is how popular posts involving the Rave Reviews Book Club were. My Block Party stop was the eighth most popular post of 2016. (I'm a fairly prolific blogger so that's a great number.) My top twenty is filled with posts I hosted as part of blog tours associated with RRBC. The obvious thought is that RRBC drives traffic, and they support. If any of you are inclined to make a 2017 business plan you ought to consider joining us.

Sales were about the same as last year for me. While this isn't bad, it includes two new publications and much more promotion on my part. It appears I'm working harder to accomplish the same thing. Is this just the market, the volume of available titles, my perspective getting tired, what?

A big part of my promotion kind of fell together and grew into something I never expected. A group of authors and I formed Story Empire as a way to mutually promote our paranormal themed books in October. It's grown into much more, and has potential for more growth. I'm looking forward to seeing just how far we can take it. I have a theory that we'll expand to more than just paranormal.

My pals and I at Story Empire went on a massive paid blog tour for our paranormal titles. This involved giveaways of Amazon gift cards, and in my case two book blasts. Quite frankly, I could have sold more books on a friends and family tour. Most of the host sites appeared to be dead zones that only host blog tours. Nobody is going to follow a site that never offers anything but blog tour posts. There is no interaction, and very little action happened beyond the authors thanking the host for having us.

I was impressed with one of the book blasts, and might consider them for a tour host in the future. More research is required for blog tours these days.

I also wasn't impressed with the giveaways. Turns out there are people out there who chase gift cards. They have no interest in the wares being promoted, only getting into the contests. In my mind, the contest is to add a little fun to the tour, and possibly increase the interaction. This isn't the way it worked out. I have a new plan for contests from now on.

I got invited to participate in an anthology. I'd never done anything like this, and it was educational. There is no money in it, but the exposure is pretty good. This is something I'd like to do again, depending on the theme. I'm probably not going to write a Valentine's Day love story, but if a group wants to do some science fiction or something, I would consider it.

I did a bunch of giveaways, 99¢ sales, and Amazon advertising with mixed results. All of them moved books in varying degrees, but they didn't seem repeatable. Whatever worked once, failed six months later. This might be because of timing, the quality of the advertisement, or the marketplace. I probably need to keep trying these.

My short fiction during October, called Macabre Macaroni, is also hard to assess. Maybe it's because I don't want to admit what I'm seeing. Every comment was encouraging, even those who thought I ended the first one too soon simply wanted more of a good story. The odd thing is the number of views. They started strong, then went down with every subsequent post. This can't be about the quality of the stories, because I'm tracking views not likes or comments. Viewers didn't show up in the first place. What it could mean is that people are just tired of them. Maybe some thought it was just the same story trucked out over and over because of the Lisa art.

The Idea Mill. These aren't nearly as popular as I would like. These posts don't even show up until I get to number 81. I love them, but maybe it's time to retire them. Many of my followers are writers, but not as many are speculative fiction writers. There were a lot of textile posts both from antiquity and in modern science. There were also a lot of primate observations. I featured one cryptid, and a railroad line that carried the dead. All of the comments are positive, but they're all from my regulars too. Asking for shares might help, maybe I need a new thing for the blog.

I finally found a way to make Twitter functional. When you follow too many people, the stream of information is like trying to drink from a firehose. I learned about pinned tweets, and am trying to keep them relatively fresh. When I check my notifications, anyone who appears to be supporting me causes me to share their pinned tweet. Not everyone has a pinned tweet, but it sure is handy. I find a lot of them that are six months old though. In that case, I delete my tweet, then immediately retweet it. My hope is that it goes out fresh in the timeline of my followers. Everyone should be using pinned tweets if they have books to promote. Remember to keep them freshened up though. I think I'll freshen up mine right after this posts.

Two new publications. I released The Playground, a novel, and The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II, a collection of short fiction in 2016. The novel was just a blip on the radar. I'm disappointed, because I really like it and I think the style added something to this kind of story. Playground also produced one of the most fun characters I've ever written, and my first anti-hero. The second Notebook exceeded sales of the first one. I have some evidence to show that it produced a few sales of the first one after readers finished it. This is great news. Now what to do with the information? Is one title simply better than the other? Is short fiction making the surge I predicted last year? Is human interest leading us away from novel length works? I don't know, but will probably keep producing both.

That's 2016. Some things worked, some didn't. Some did nice things I never expected. The idea is to keep what works, and do new things to replace what doesn't work. Sometime in the first week of 2017, I'll put out a business plan. It's always nice to have a roadmap.

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