Tag Archives: The Hat

My weekend plans

My only plan this weekend was to bleed and lick my wounds. It was a brutal week both personally and professionally. An errand interrupted me and I had to repair a headlight. (Again.) I never planned on a single word of new fiction, and that is still the plan.

However, Sean Harrington delivered a bundle of graphics for Good Liniment. Fans of The Hat Series know I pepper these with silly little graphics to make the stories even more corny. Here’s one, just for fun:

That led to peppering the MS with graphics, which involves a lot of gyrations. I’m pretty sure my formatter hates these, but they’re part of the series now. I used some of my down time to start reading the story and making more edits. I didn’t get far, but never intended to.

Authors are weird people, and I own that. My mind never turns off, even when I’m licking my wounds. Here’s an example of what happens:

Lisa Burton parked our spaceship in deep space, then followed Percy the Space Chimp and I into the lounge. We grabbed glasses of Angel’s Envy, on the rocks, and stared at the galaxy before us. Distant stars and nebulae stretched to infinity.

Our last writing session had been a big one, so we took in the view until I broke the silence. “What do you suppose the soundtrack of space is?”

Lisa said, “I like those big orchestral pieces that can match the grandeur.”

Percy rattled the ice in his glass. “It can also be something like David Bowie music.”

I sniffed the vanilin and took a sip of my drink. “It really could be whatever the writer thinks. I’m going to go with a little of Percy’s backstory. Obviously, I can’t write a soundtrack into my story, but this is what it sounds like to me.” I keyed the speaker system and brought this up.

“Are you sure?” Lisa asked.

”Just look out the window and listen. It makes perfect sense to me.”

”I get it, dude. What are you going to do with that thought?” Percy asked.

”Not sure, but it helps me interpret space. Angel’s Envy doesn’t hurt either. Hit me again, Lisa.”

***

I hope all of you are having wonderful weekends. I need to get back to Earth and catch up on your blogs. I might even do some long overdue reading if the mood strikes me. What is your soundtrack to space?

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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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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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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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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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Slow weekend

This was one of my two day weekends. These seem to happen more frequently around holidays, and it is what it is. That didn’t leave much time for author chores.

Our daughter came to visit on Friday. She spent the night and I had a wonderful visit with her on Saturday. No lamenting that time. I really enjoyed our time together, but it didn’t leave much room for anything else.

Still loaded with Asian pears. I tried to send a bag home with my daughter, but she passed. I might have to look up some recipes for them.

I really boogered up the last chapter of Good Liniment I shared with my critique group. I spent the rest of Saturday trying to repair it, and still don’t like it.

I spent this morning talking to my parents. They got to go pick choke cherries, and I’m kind of jealous. It sounds like such a nice day afield. Things like that aren’t in the cards for me right now, so I’ll have to live through their adventures.

This afternoon, I went beyond the crappy chapter, and some of the repairs seemed to work better there. Still don’t feel confident about it. I’ve gone from being excited to worried about this book.

Hopefully, by 2022, I’ll get over it. I have so many ideas for Lizzie and the hat, and this story needs to be one of them in my mind. I even made some notes to improve a story that’s four books down the line.

I spent a little time trying to cobble together something for a bit of October promo. That’s always been my best month, and while I don’t have a new release for the Halloween season, I have plenty of options to draw some interest.

I also wrote back material for Wreck of the Lanternfish. I got a little emotional addressing the eventual readers. I’ve spent a lot of time and effort with these characters over the last few years. It’s nearly ready to go. Once I get paid, I’ll probably contact my formatter. Or, I might read through it once again. Who knows.

That’s it for my author’s time. It might not seem like much, but I moved the pegs a little on several projects. I didn’t write any new words, but there will be other weekends.

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Long Weekend

Like most of you, I had a long weekend. Old What’s Her Face had to work, so I wound up left to my own devices.

At one time, I talked about making sauerkraut again. She bought me some from the store. It isn’t the same concept, because I wanted to make it. It still made for a tasty supper with a Polska kielbasa. Might have to break down and make some anyway.

I worked on edits, and sent something to my crit group. They were all off this weekend, too. I never expected a rapid turn around, and I hope everyone had a good time. Since publication target is late winter, there is plenty of time.

That left me with my side project. I’ve gone over the first few chapters more than any others I’ve ever written. Right now, I’m pretty happy with them. I’m introducing main characters in two different locations, but they finally managed to come together before the weekend came to a close. We entered space, traveled across part of the galaxy, and committed an unintended murder. Now one of the characters has to run, and it’s reason enough for everyone to wind up on the same ship.

I’m going with five main characters since this is likely going to be a trilogy. Five, or thirty, main characters, depending on how you count the clones. It’s complicated. (You guys know how my imagination comes into play.)

As I get acquainted with the characters, some personalities are starting to develop. There have been a few crass remarks flung around. This might sound strange, but I always have an idea of who they are, but as they interact on the page it develops more than I roughed out.

I managed a pretty good bit of emasculating dialog. I kind of like how it came out. Former lovers are something I’ve never written before.

All told, I probably added about 7000 new words to it. Can’t keep calling it “It,” but I don’t have a title yet.

The Muse is torturing me with this future story for Lizzie and the hat. I like to plan ahead, but this one is about five down the line. Seems a bit excessive, but I can’t seem to stop her once she starts inspiring. It involves a twist on some Asian mythos. Things like the afterlife, spirits, and reincarnation. I already have a list of magical artifacts and creatures going. I dedicated some time to research because it’s so interesting. I already have a few humorous things in mind, so that’s positive.

Outside of that, I have Asian pears running out my ears. I’ve been eating them all weekend. They keep pretty well, so I may have to claim part of the vegetable crisper. For now, I’m leaving them on the tree. Works for now, but isn’t a long term solution.

That’s about it. It’s time for supper, and some more Asian pears. Hope all of you enjoyed your weekend, too.

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Not a lot to show for this weekend

I try to stay busy, I always do, but sometimes there isn’t a lot to show for my efforts.

It started off with a visit from our daughter. I’m a firm believer that family comes first, so I never tried to do anything until she went home. We had a nice visit, and she even managed to cut my hair while she was here.

Had to deal with a loss of power to the deep freeze. This involved a stupid GFI switch. We didn’t lose anything, but had some things we had to cook PDQ. I discovered it because my beer mugs didn’t get frosty overnight.

Beyond that, it was all “Stuff.” I worked on something for Teri Polen’s Bad Moon Rising, but it isn’t ready yet. I worked all the way to the end of the Lanternfish story. I feel like I caught most things, but I always miss something. Reading it once more might help. I’d like to publish it sometime in November.

I also dedicated some time to Good Liniment. Nothing too earth shattering, but I reworded a few sections prior to sharing it with my critique group. I included a text thread in this section, because Hat stories include dumb things. It looks like they all came across the right way. One never knows when I text my daughter, photograph the screen, upload it to Apple Pages, then leave Apple to share it in Word format. My daughter and I had fun creating the texts.

Then there were graphics. I’m not a graphics guy, but I took a tip from Harmony Kent, then assembled the rest by hand in a graphics program I have. The end results weren’t too bad, and I might use them one day.

Word count, not so much. Certainly less than a thousand words. I’m not feeling any kind of rush on this project, so I’m not going to lament this. It’s supposed to be a side project, and I’m going to treat it that way.

It’s kind of productive, but not in a way I can demonstrate. I think next weekend will be similar. I’m ahead for a change, so I’m not going to beat myself up over it. Eventually, the side project will cause me to start a main project. Lanternfish will come out, and I’ll have to figure out some promo for it. Maybe early next year I’ll release Good Liniment.

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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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