Tag Archives: paranormal

Switching stories again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The hat groaned.

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

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

“What do you think of this song?”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

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

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

“Could happen.”

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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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My 2022 Business Plan

This is another annual event here at Entertaining Stories. I recap the year I finished, then some time after all the resolution posts have cleared out of WordPress, I post my business plan.

A few years ago, I decided that volume was important to my efforts. It might seem manipulative, but having a few titles available can influence shoppers to take a chance. I spent two years publishing three titles per year, and there were also a couple of anthologies I contributed to. I have to say, this stuff works.

Last year, I decided to limit myself to two titles. Let’s face it, a lot of work goes into six publications, plus there’s the required promotion that accompanies it all. This slower pace allowed me to experiment with different promo options, but I’ve already discussed those.

Personal matters took a toll, and I’m grateful not to have stressed myself for that third title. It’s already written. It only needs some artwork and a bit of formatting, but I’m not pushing beyond my comfort zone. It will count for 2022.

This year, I’m making it up as I type. Something that usually helps is to get a few things down for consideration. First is that I liked the pace last year and would like to retain that. Two per year seems reasonable, and might even give me some extra time if an anthology comes calling.

Here’s where the problems start, but I’ll walk through those, too. The Lanternfish Trilogy is complete. I’m thrilled for that, and it opens up some space for me.

Lizzie and the hat will continue, and this is where it starts looking like a problem. The finished story is called Good Liniment. I could publish it as soon as I get my ducks in a row, and probably will. However, The Midnight Rambler is also part of this series, and I’m up to 15,000 words on it as I hack this post out. I have three additional storyboards ready to go here, as well.

I don’t want to look like a slacker, but these are short novels on purpose. I think Lizzie and the hat are better in smaller doses. People also appreciate the occasional quick read. If my two publications are both in The Hat Series, I could look like a slacker.

It’s only perception, because I’m also currently writing a Space Opera with a goal of three books. I would like to hold back on publication so I can have a more rapid release schedule for them. This means lots of writing, but not as much publication.

One of my dreams is to release another stand-alone title or two. I have the storyboards, but the Muse hasn’t pushed me down that path yet. They don’t seem to sell as well, but I still like them. I think a certain type of reader feels the same way.

When I put all of this in my scrying bowl, what I see is something about personal enjoyment. Since I’m not making the house payment from book sales, I’m allowed to enjoy myself a little bit more. This is what I do for fun, and forcing another title feels like the wrong way to go.

The Hat Series is fun for me. I enjoy them, and I know many of you do too. Having all those storyboards ready to go makes it even more fun.

2022 might just have to be the year when I put out two titles in The Hat Series. I don’t see myself finishing the space opera this year, but will keep working on it. I’m bound to have a gap after the first one is complete, and I can fill that gap with one of the stand alone titles. I probably won’t finish it in 2022, but could make one hell of a dent in it.

This isn’t as formal or committed as previous years. 2021 threw me plenty of punches and I’m still reeling from some of them. There are days when all I can manage is to stay home and bleed. (Figuratively speaking) I’m not going to push myself in 2022. Publish two tales in The Hat Series, work on my space opera, fill the gaps with something else. It isn’t much of a plan, but it is a plan, and one I can live with.

Story Empire is something I’m very proud of. I will keep contributing over there, but wish the Muse would send me a cool series to write about. I’m more about story structure or characters and have covered a lot of ground in those fields. I’m not really the technical guy, or the super successful promoter. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for something I can stretch across multiple posts. If any of you have requests, I’m willing to consider them.

How about you guys? Do you formulate some kind of business plan, or are you more on the less stress is better method. This year I feel like I’m doing a little of both. Do you think me unwise to have two titles in the same series this year? Let me hear from you in the comments.

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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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Some statistics for you

Hi, everyone. I’ve neglected this site again, but there were tour posts all over the place. Thanks to the group of you that followed along. This post is for my fellow writers out there, and you might find it interesting.

The tour ended prematurely, but one of my potential hosts is quite ill. I have her in my thoughts, and you didn’t miss a lot. If you feel like you missed something, check out Lunar Boogie in the sidebar. It was the book of the day.

To recap, I toured each book in The Hat Series for one week during October. Books one & three had free days, and to support those, I hired Fussy Librarian for some extra push. Let’s look at a visual.

I doubt you can read that, but it’s the image that helps anyway. The blue graph above shows my free promotion days. You can see the pattern is almost identical. Day one hit nearly a thousand free copies, after that it trailed off.

If I turn off the freebies, the graph shows book sales, but at best there were ten one day. That’s why they don’t show up with the freebies turned on.

The lower graphic is pages read via Kindle Unlimited. To me it’s more important. Most of my book earnings have been via this platform for a couple of years now. The patterns are similar, and not different enough to determine why. The better days were around 500 pages per day, with one that broke 1000. I’m not getting rich here, but I’m calling the promo a success. Nearly all of those pages were in the The Hat Series. In fact you can see a small bit of action on the far left before the promotion started. That’s what my graph normally looks like.

So far, I’ve gained two star-reviews where they rated the book worthy of five stars, and one actual review. I love both of those formats, so thank you whoever you are.

This also happened.

Yup, that’s Mrs. Molony in the #1 spot. It held onto the top ten throughout the free period.

There’s one post left that relates to the promotion. It’s my annual visit at Colleen Chesebro’s place on Halloween. It’s about the series, but it’s also about what comes next for Lizzie and the hat. I’ll be checking in on Sunday, so make sure to visit me.

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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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Viral Blues at SC Jensen’s

Hi, all! The Hat Series tour stops off at SC Jensen’s site today. The specific topic is Viral Blues. Stop over and visit. While you’re there, check out her Bubbles in Space series. It’s tons of fun.

What are you reading this spooky season?

I like to reserve October reads for all things horror and paranormal, and this year I’m doing something a little different.

I’ve decided to dive into C.S. Boyack’s The Hat series! It has been so much fun.

I have read and loved Boyack’s cyberpunk detective novel Grinders, and have been wanting to explore some of his other worlds.

Boyack is a writer who really knows his craft and seems to have no end of wild and whimsical ideas to explore.

I really appreciate his sense of humour and love of the absurd, and that’s ultimately why I settled on The Hat series. You can read my review of the entire series (so far) here!

I’m fortunate to have C.S. Boyack on the blog today to share a little bit about this series, and in particular the book Viral Blues! Check it out. Maybe The Hat will tickle your fancy, too…

Keep reading here.

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The best month of the year

It’s October, and I love it. Things are cooling off after the outrageous summer we had. Leaves are starting to turn, and everything feels right again.

I was an October baby, so maybe that’s part of it. Old What’s Her Face made me some pumpkin cinnamon rolls for breakfasts. They’re nothing fancy, just the Pop & Fresh kind, but it was sweet of her.

I’ve been working my way through a variety pack of pumpkin beers from Elysian brewing. The Dark ‘O the Moon Pumpkin Stout is really good.

Pumpkin isn’t the only Fall flavor in my world. Mom sent up some of her homemade chokecherry jelly. I would have preferred syrup, but I had it on a pancake this morning anyway. It’s a taste of Fall from my childhood.

We’ve been fiddling with Halloween themed shows to watch. RL Stein has a more adult themed series of films on Netflix. Old What’s Her Face loved the first one, but I had a tough time getting into it. It’s a long month, so there could be something good coming up.

She used her birthday money and bought a Traeger Grill. She loves her gadgets and had to have the one that connects to her phone via wifi. She likes the idea of adjusting the temps while out doing other things. This meant she had to name it. She called it “The Chamber of Barbecue Secrets.” I figured you guys would get a chuckle out of that, I did.

Things are going to get busy at Entertaining Stories, too. I’m taking the entire Hat Series out on tour. This involves having written a bunch of unique posts, so they’re all worth reading. I’ll reblog everything here in an attempt to drive traffic to my hosts. There are going to be some free days, so if you’ve wanted to get into this series, this is a good month to dive in. One volume per week, and it all kicks off at Teri’s Bad Moon Rising event. Promoting a paranormal series in October feels like the right thing to do.

It’s important to support your hosts. If any of you feel so inclined, share the posts from their sites. This could boost their traffic and net them some new followers.

I’ll be watching the comments all month, so let me hear from you along the route.

I sent the second to last chapter of Good Liniment out to my critique group, and Lanternfish is in the hands of my formatter. This means starting all over again when I publish Lanternfish, and getting ready for Good Liniment in the late winter sometime.

Are any of you excited for Fall, October in general, or Halloween? Let me hear from you.

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Filed under Blogging, Writing

Indie Feature Friday: C.S. Boyack’s Lizzie and the Hat Paranormal Mystery Series

I discovered this review post over at SC Jensen’s place this morning. It feels like the perfect welcome to October for me. Stop over and check it out. I’ve read Jensen’s first Bubbles in Space novel, and it’s well worth checking out, too.

Have you ever been completely caught off guard by a series?

Have you picked up a book that sounds interesting–if a little quirky and weird–and then been totally blown away?

I know, I say “quirky” and “weird” as if that’s not exactly what I’m usually looking for. You know I love quirky and weird. The challenge is finding quirky and weird and good all together in once place.

Read the rest, here.

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All quiet here

Old What’s Her Face decided to visit her brother this weekend, leaving me to take care of the dogs. It wasn’t my first choice, but I decided to make the best of it.

I spent my time writing. I actually got a lot accomplished, but it wasn’t what I had in mind. There really isn’t any need to start a new tale this year, but it gives me something to do.

It’s kind of fun expanding the witchcraft world in the hat universe. There is a challenge, though, in that Lizzie and the hat aren’t part of that environment. They can only learn what they are told or observe themselves.

I solved some of this by introducing two new characters. By alternating sections, readers can get a bit more than what Lizzie will discover on her own. It’s been fun, but I still intend to leave some of that mystery without complete explanations. It allows readers to use their own imaginations.

Each member of the witchcraft community has different magical roots. I’m not explaining these either, but there are clues if readers want to figure it out on their own. It shouldn’t be too hard, but won’t be required if someone just wants to blast through for a good story.

I also did a section that was a bit of character soup. We’ve all been to a gathering where we met a bunch of people, but didn’t get to know all of them. It feels realistic to me, but maybe my critique group can give me some advice here. My secret intent was to glance across some characters that could be used in future stories.

At this stage, I’m tired. I’m not at a slog of any kind, but it’s time for me to rest my brain. Hope everyone had, or is having a great holiday.

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