Tag Archives: research

A bit of research

Lisa walked into the paranormal office while buckling on her gun belt. She had a look of grim determination. She’d put on her jodhpurs, boots and top from the time we went on the outlining safari. “I don’t think this is a good idea.”Lisa Burton
“It’ll be fine. If I’m going to write these stories, a bit of research is necessary. I don’t know some of the details and I want to make the stories plausible.”

“You’re stories are all speculative fiction.”

“That’s not what I mean. Sure they have fantastic elements, but the real-world stuff has to be that much more accurate.”

“Those girls are hell-bent on destroying your writing career by sending you down a wormhole of research. They aren’t called the Research Sirens for nothing.”

“That’s why you’re coming, to protect me. I enjoy research, and a certain amount of it is necessary.”

“Yeah, and a certain amount of it isn’t. Remember when they talked you into flying to China? If Lorelei hadn’t showed up you’d still be there today.”

“They’re the best researchers ever, and I want their help.”

“I’ll pull the Land Rover around. It goes with my outfit.” She headed up the stone steps, then turned back. “Lorelei will be pissed if she finds out.”

“Then we can’t let her find out.”

***

Lisa parked behind the Olympus Lounge in the tiny mountain town. She set the meeting up, and this is where the Sirens chose.

She made me wait in the car while she looked around the parking lot, one hand on her big assed gun at all times. She held up her hand and made a come here motion with two fingers. She shouldered her canvas map-bag and we went inside.

The lounge was decorated with marble columns running up into a darkened ceiling. We crossed a marble floor while glancing at busts of famous authors.

The ladies waited on various pieces of plush furniture. Wiki sat cross-legged on a huge beanbag with her nose buried in the iPad mini she never seemed to be without. Her red A-line haircut looked like it was multiple shades from various dyes, and had been cut to look like it was chewed into shape. She wore a tee-shirt with the Apple logo, a denim skirt, black leggings, and sneakers.

Wiki had always been the most helpful, and she wrinkled her nose in the most adorable way when she spotted us. She jumped up and skipped to a table booth had been reserved for our meeting.

Conversia rose from the sofa and straightened her black sequined dress. Her caramel skin and huge spiral perm drew instant attention. The scoop neck on her dress wasn’t something that could be ignored. She walked gracefully to the table, heels clacking on the stone floor as she walked.

Libraria came out of the back somewhere. Her blonde hair was in a tight ponytail, and she hadn’t given up on the sexy librarian look. She carried a tray with a carafe of red wine and five glasses. She glanced at me over the top of her glasses before placing the tray on the table.

Conversia gestured at my chair and I took a seat.

Libraria poured the wine and offered me a glass first.

Lisa scooped it up and took a tiny sip. Her eyes fluttered as she did a complete chemical analysis. “He won’t be having any today. He brought his own.” She reached in her canvas bag and produced a small thermos and tin cup. “He prefers coffee anyway.”

Wiki leaned forward and gushed. “What are we doing today?”

“I, um, I’m working on two novellas and I’m nearly ready to start. They’re quite different, and I need to get some details right.”

Libraria said, “Thank the Gods you came to us first. Starting now could be a disaster. You need to do your research until everything is perfect. Why don’t you tell us what you have in mind.”

“Well, one of them is about these people locked in an underground bunker. They’re stuck there for three months, because of a regular thing that happens in their solar system. As a part of the story, I need to know about the human circulatory system.”

“What you need is a good book on anatomy. Entry into medical school would be even better, but you may not have time. I have a complete library here and can help you find anything you need.”

Wiki turned her iPad toward me and opened her mouth in a silent “ta-daaa” gesture. The whites of her eyes were framed by the heavy mascara she always wore. Her black fingernails and collection of friendship bracelets framed a YouTube video of the human circulatory system.

“Is that a new nose-stud?”

“It is! Thanks for noticing. It’s a real diamond too–”

Conversia placed a perfectly manicured, red fingernail under my chin. She turned my head her direction. She batted her eyes and leaned forward, the scoop-neck of her dress guaranteeing I wouldn’t turn away. “Pay attention. Sometimes all you need is a consultant. Someone else has already done this research. All you need to do is find them and ask them some logical questions.”

“Uh-huh, um, what kind of questions?”

“What do you intend to have happen in your story? Ask if that’s plausible.”

“Okay, so I have another story where the character is going to learn to play the upright bass. I don’t know anything about bass clef.”

Squee! Look at these cute bass clef earrings I found.” Wiki wrinkled her nose and turned her iPad back towards me.

Lisa moved towards her. “Those are really cute.”

Wiki slid over in the booth so Lisa could sit down.

Libraria said, “I also have books about music theory, simple chords, and can even find you one about how to build your own bass.”

“Girls!” Conversia said. “The man needs another consultant. There are any number of music teachers, instrumentalists, and whatnot that could answer his questions. I suggest a month or two in Vienna or someplace where he can really learn.”

“It isn’t going to be symphonic in nature. It’s more like rock-a-billy, bluesy stuff.”

“I see,” Conversia said. “Perhaps I can set up a mentorship with Brian Setzer or someone similar.”

“That would be awe–”

Lisa slapped me across the forehead. She opened her mouth and played back an audio recording of my own voice. “I don’t have to be perfect, I just have to be plausible.”

I leaned back in my chair and sipped my coffee. The girls leaned back in the booth, and Libraria crossed her arms.

“I think we’re done here,” Lisa said.

Wiki turned her iPad around once more. In a half-hearted voice she said, “Look, a cute cat… playing an upright bass.”

Lisa grabbed me by the collar and stood me up. She pointed me toward the door and gave me a shove.

“Bye, ladies. Always a pleasure,” I said over my shoulder.

***

Lisa pulled onto the highway out of town. “You’re such a dope. A few horn-rimmed glasses, a scoop-neck collar, and a wrinkled nose and you’re ready to move to Vienna. I told you they were dangerous. Lorelei told you they were dangerous.”

“I think Conversia was onto something though. I need a consultant for each story.”

“I have all your friends in my database, and there are a couple who will do a wonderful job. I’ll send out some email and see if they’re interested.”

“At least you didn’t fall under their spell.”

“Don’t be so sure. Wiki and I ordered those earrings, and a bass clef pendant to go along with them. We’ll be like sisters, she said.”

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Researching The Enhanced League

Hi, gang. I’m over at Sue Coletta’s place today and the topic is the research I put into The Enhanced League. It’s kind of broad and you can apply it to any type of speculative fiction. Sue is a wonderful crime author, and embarrases me with the amount of research she does for her books. She’s also a great supporter and friend, so make sure you look around while you’re visiting her site. There is a wealth of information there.

***

My guest today has taken his research and used it in a unique and compelling way, a way unlike anything I expected. Craig is a master at short storytelling; I always enjoy his super creative tales. If you’re not following Entertaining Stories, you may want to take a peek. Not only does he feature Lisa Burton Radio, where one character interviews another in radio station format but he also has The Idea Mill, where he shares real-life science as well as strange and unusual tidbits to use in fiction. Shawnee Daniels appeared on Lisa Burton Radio, and we had a blast. Welcome to Murder Blog, Craig!

Thanks for having me over again, Sue. Looks like we both have new books to promote, so don’t be shy about borrowing my space any time you like. Keep Reading here

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Taskmaster

I don't have to return to the paycheck job until July 3rd. I've been trying to get this week off since April, but things have been too busy at work. It isn't perfect right now either, but I need my time off.

I got enough response to my request for guest authors to carry Lisa Burton Radio into October without missing a week. This means working on those posts will be part of what I have to do.

I need to work through two critiques this weekend, and have them ready for our meeting on Tuesday.

I could have gotten my first book out by now if I'd have gotten the time off, but I didn't and it's time to do something about it. Those of you who know me will recall that I like to make a list.

Projects for my week off:

  • Re-read The Enhanced League and make edits.
  • Figure out how to add images to the back of the book and actually make them look good.
  • Get the final MS out to the formatter, and pay her.
  • Assemble a guest post I agreed to host.
  • Work on Lisa Burton Radio stuff as it comes in.
  • Finish up a post I've been working on to appear elsewhere.
  • Start the word searches on Yak Guy.
  • Read Yak Guy and start editing.
  • Write blog tour posts for Enhanced League.

Depending on how well I do, I can get to some of these:

 

  • Research and assemble something I'd like to post for July 4th.
  • Publish The Enhanced League.
  • Put out a request for blog tour hosts.
  • Do some deeper research and start writing my time travel short story for an anthology.
Nine days, Thirteen items on my list. Some of those are pretty variable, like the Lisa interviews. Might get one to work on, or a dozen.

On top of that, I intend to hang out with Otto, drink some beer, watch a few baseball games, and I might even play a video game. It's a vacation after all.

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An old reminder, enhanced by puppies

It's one of my favorite old sayings, and it came back to me in the comments of my last post. I've been whining about having too much to do. While blogland appreciates a good rant, they don't like it when it drifts into whiny territory.

I've been at this point before, and I will be there again no doubt. How do you eat an elephant?

Task lists are the elephant. I'll do what I can, when I can, and it will all get finished. It's a constant effort to remind myself there is no supervisor that's going to be upset with my progress. That's the paycheck world.

Even puppies know that a bunch of small efforts can add up. It took two weeks, but they slew the giant.

Note: Otto is fine. He is regressing to puppy mode and plays with the girls constantly now.

My wife and I are taking our mini vacation, and I'm not going to worry about this stuff. When I return, my tasks will still be waiting, and the elephant should be properly aged to make for fine dining.

I never mentioned it, because I thought I might play the “Where is Craig” game with you. It didn't work out so well when we went to Jackson, Wyoming, so I'll skip it. We are spending our holiday weekend in New Orleans. Neither of us have ever been there, and we're both pretty excited.

We don't have an agenda, but we are booked into the walking tour of New Orleans Voodoo one night. I hope to take some cool photos and maybe buy some fun stuff. We will no doubt find some beignets and some good seafood. I want to sneak a peek at their telephone book too. I constantly struggle to come up with decent character names, and this could be a great resource.

We're going to be staying relatively close to a site where a big shootout went down in The Playground. I'm tempted to take a cab and see how wrong I got it, but that might encroach onto my wife's plans. Some of the sites in Panama burned down years ago, but I might do a quick search for them too.

Come back tomorrow for Lisa Burton Radio. I'll get to play in the comments, and share it everywhere. After that, I'll update from the road, but it might be sporadic.

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Time Management

Being an author in this era seems to involve working on multiple projects at once. There are ruminations that lead to outlines. There is the drafting of new material. Promotion is also required. Maybe this is as simple as making a tweet or two, but some days it involves updating the blog, maybe writing some guest posts for someone.

In my case, I still owe The Storyreading Ape some posts. I have no less than four Lisa Burton Radio slots in the works. I'm working with Sean Harrington on some generic Lisa art that I can use for various purposes, and possibly recycle without making you tired of them. Then there is research for new projects, promo art for the next books, and some reading that I'm behind on.

The common denominator is time.

There's only so much of this stuff to go around, and when things pile up something has to give. Some of you may have noticed that I skipped blogging last night. I also have a life away from this iPad, and tend to neglect it a little too much.

One of the things I've learned… over time… is that I can't do it all at once. I've tried more times than I care to admit. This applies at the paycheck job too. What happens is that I get less done than I should have.

I can't get away with this at the paycheck job, and sometimes I have to move multiple projects at the same time. I'm the boss at Entertaining Stories though, and will have things my way here.

Dealing with multiple projects takes a certain amount of whining and hand wringing. (At least in my case. Ask my wife if you don't believe me.) Surprise, whining and hand wringing takes time away from things I should be doing.

I use task lists when it gets out of control. If I can keep it straight in my head, I don't bother to write it all down. Then I pick a project, put on the blinders and work on it until I'm finished.

There is a lot to be said for finishing something. It might be as simple as updating my pinned tweet, but the act of completion is like a Scooby Snack for me. I'm energized to take on the next thing.

I used my deplorable art skills to make an image for my pinned tweet and updated it. Some of you have already shared it. Hopefully, the art is good enough for the split second it takes to get the point across.

I worked on all four radio interviews, and got them back to the guest authors. There is more work to do, but I can do nothing until they trickle back in.

I started my beta reading project yesterday, and moved it ahead today. I have a document started with notes, and hopefully can help this book in some small way.

Another piece of Lisa art arrived last night, and I sent out the instructions for the next one. When it comes to blog art, I try to buy them four at a time. I can use another portrait too, and have a couple of ideas for the third one, it involves either a hairdo from the early 70s or one from 1900. Lisa likes to change things up. It's still planning and time.

I'm also collecting ideas for promotion of my next books. There are some Yak Guy things Lisa can do, and some baseball things for the other project.

I did not address my critiques, but they aren't as time sensitive. I also didn't draft anything beyond this blog. I might dabble with my outlines for an hour or two.

The point is that I have to put on my blinders and work exclusively on one thing at a time. I get more done that way. Right now the focus is on reading, but if I can complete something small (like Twitter) before or after reading, I can still accomplish things.

In the end, clearing my slate will give me more time for drafting new material as I move into February.

Right now, I picked up a giant bottle of beer, and a new tea I want to try. There is football to watch, and maybe game one will be tea, and game two will be beer.

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Weekending

We didn't take anything too seriously this weekend. We started off with gift cards from Christmas. We did the standard thing, by each spending more than was on the card. Mine went to Men's Wearhouse, and my wife's went to the Apple Store. I wound up with some nice dress shirts and ties, plus a couple of pairs of pants. It was a buy one get one free deal, so not too bad. My wife got some wireless Beats headphones. Her 'phones are awesome too.

After dumping our cards (Plus about that much more of our own money) we stopped at Old Chicago for beer and pizza. All in all, it was a nice day together.

Today, we decided not to go out at all. There are a couple of movies that look interesting, but we both weren't feeling it.

I sequestered myself away and added 1500 words to The Yak Guy Project. It's not great, but it's progress. I'm off tomorrow and have the house to myself. (Myself and Otto, who has his own demands some mornings.)

I spent several hours doing research into one of my future projects. I may start outlining both of the future projects, but won't begin writing until I get my current projects finished.

My intention was to work on The Enhanced League for a while tonight, but I never got that far. Something about a Steelers game that got a late start.

I hope you all had great weekends. I'm very content with mine. We managed a fun date – day, as opposed to date night. I made small progress on projects today, and being content seems to cover it.

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I want a new drug

Thanks, Huey Lewis, I'll take it from here…

This is a writing related problem, don't panic on me.

Yeah, there was research involved, so I have a tiny bit of knowledge about HGH, methamphetamines, desoxyphedrine, and a few more. It's time to write the story about the drug abuser in my Enhanced League book.

Here's the background. This fictional baseball league doesn't care about performance enhancing drugs. In fact they have medical personnel who administer and monitor them.

The two stories I'm writing next will draw a distinction between medically administered PEDs and illegal street drugs. My newscasters will draw some of the conclusions in a second story, the first one will involve the actions leading up to the bust. The underlying theme is that someone will always look for an edge, even if you legalize something for them. They'll just move to the next edge.

Anyway, enough about that. I need an illegal street drug, and it needs a street name. It can be somewhat science fiction, in fact I think it will be a cocktail of several things. I'm nearly committed to make it a sinus spray just because it sounds even more dangerous.

But it needs a cool name of some kind. I kind of want to call it Superman, but really don't feel like getting sued. So I am in a struggle phase here, and hope I come up with something that doesn't sound too stupid. It should sound enticing to the bodybuilders and athletes who might dope with it i.e. Tinkerbelle won't work.

Power, muscle, endurance, enduro, mass, force; some sexy combo of these words could work. I have to be a little bit careful and Google whatever I come up with. I don't accidentally want to call it super soldier serum or something that's been used in another comic book. (Although illegal producers and abusers could very likely call it Superman.)

This is a different kind of struggle for me. I've worked on gas weapons, parasites, how to keep corpses from floating, freezing in outer space, and others. Drugs are kind of a new path for me.

The way this is working out, a whole new government agency might be interested in my browsing history.

I also have a couple to write that involve the downside of using the PEDs we have available now. This one is going to involve careers ending and others beginning. More research involving micro-strokes and such. I'll weave in some League evils like getting the new kid started on PEDs right away. (Might require another fictional drug name.)

The struggles of a fiction writer. My next writing opportunity is next Monday, so I don't need the name before then. Even then, my focus is the Yak Guy. Maybe my Muse will help me out somewhere during the week.

Any ideas, let me know in the comments. Got some strange research stories, share those too. Back to the grind tomorrow.

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