Tag Archives: The Hat

Logging in today

This was my flex day, today. I dabbled on a lot of things, and didn’t really have much focus. Eventually, I decided writing might be a bit more focused.

I stuck with The Ballad of Mrs. Molony, which is my side project. I didn’t even keep a word count this time, but it feels close to 3000 words. Might be 2800 or so, but I have no way of proving it. It provides enough to send out to my critique group. I’ll have to do that later tonight.

I’m still trying to provide some fun things for everyone, but don’t have any new photos. It’s rainy outside and not worthy of photography. Both dogs have been to the vet this week, so they aren’t photo worthy either. We’re poor until payday, now.

In an effort to provide some fun things, I’m posting some Pinterest pages. People like memes, cute pictures, and graphics, so why not. The first one is the board I keep for Lizzie and The Hat. You can see what they did from other books, what they’re currently up to in Mrs. Molony, and what they might get up to in future books. Here’s the link.

The next one is my board for Grinders. If you’ve been curious about cyberpunk, some visuals that helped with the story, and other tidbits you can check it out. I shared some of my tour posts here, so you might have to scroll down a bit. I’m not going to post a purchase link today. The cover in my sidebar is linked if you’re interested. This is the Grinders Board.

Check out the boards and talk to me. There are some cool graphics involved, and obviously, you can share them on your own boards if you see something you like. Am I the only author who uses Pinterest this way?

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From the Writing Cabin

My day started at 5:00 AM. The dogs had all the sleep they could stand, and wanted breakfast. My wife has to work, so it was a reasonable writing opportunity.

I made good time flying out to the writing cabin, and landed just as the sun peeked over the horizon. The elevator lowered the gyrocopter into the hangar, then I trudged toward the stairs.

Lisa Burton met me at the top landing. She held out a half-gallon bottle of sanitizer. “Hands.”

I paused, then reached forward. She pumped several squirts into each hand. “Wash them completely. If you still have some, do your forearms.”

“Jesus! I have enough to do my whole body.”

“Maybe you should. I have. I’ve also wiped down your office and iPad.”

I walked into the cabin, and an alarm went off. “Stop! You are too close to Lisa Burton. Please maintain social distancing at all times.”

“What was that?”

“I downloaded it, then paired it with my internal radar. You’ll find a canister of sterilizing wipes on your desk, and a gallon of bleach beside the door if you have any accidents.”

“That’s awesome.” I opened my iPad and the manuscript for The Ballad of Mrs. Molony. Lisa sat at the far end of my sofa. “What are you doing?”

Lisa Burton

“Watching. So I know what to clean after you’re done out here. The chair and desk for sure.”

“Is there any coffee?”

“I made it after you took off this morning.”

I headed for the kitchen. “Stop! You are too close to Lisa Burton—”

“Oh, my God. Turn that off.”

“It protects both me and you.”

I retrieved my coffee, then returned to my desk. “I used this cup.”

“And touched the cabinet, and moved one cup to get to your favorite one, and the coffee pot, and who knows what else.”

“I need you to go away. I have to do some writing, and you’re bugging me.”

“Fine. I’ll be in the bubble bath. I haven’t washed up for an hour.”

Music came on over the speakers.

“That’s Lizzie and the Pythons, for inspiration.”

“Cool. What playlist?”

“This one’s from The Hat. I can play Viral Blues if you like.”

“Maybe, when this one runs out. Now scoot.”

She left me to my own devices and I relaxed a bit. I managed to add 1700 new words to my side project. Not my best day, but not horrible at all. I stopped just before I had to describe a tiki bar the previous band trashed the night before Lizzie and the hat had to play there.

Lisa’s voice came over the speakers. “Maybe you should do one of those business letters like everyone else. You know, something comforting in these uncertain times.”

***

Dear Readers of Entertaining Stories:

We are open for business here at the Writing Cabin. You should have no worries about Lisa Burton, because she is in fact a robot, and immune to catching the virus.

Because it is possible for her to carry and transfer the virus to others, she is currently washing and using hand sanitizer like a mad woman.

I’ve checked our recent invoices, and there is another 50-gallon drum of sanitizer on the way, along with two cases of soap, and twenty-five pounds of bubble bath. She has also rented scaffolding so she can wash the walls and ceiling after I leave.

Rest assured we are still producing new fiction, and will have more releases in 2020. As ebooks only, these are free of all contagions, and you can enjoy them, along with our previous releases in relative safety.

Sincerely, the Management.

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Saturday efforts

Today, I sent out the first submission of my side project. This one involves Lizzie and the hat in their third adventure. They’re chasing vampires this time in a rodeo/country music type environment. I know I’ve kind of avoided vampires, but believe I can put a different spin on it, and still keep the humor the characters have become known for. I’m chewing my nails to find out what my critique group thinks of it all.

I also sent out the manuscript of Grinders to my formatter. She sent me an invoice, but I’m loath to pay it until tomorrow. She’s already completed the finished product, but I can’t publish until I have my Lisa Burton promotional posters. What would one of my releases be without Lisa?

Speaking of Grinders, several bloggers offered to host a cover reveal for me. I sent all those out, and several have posted already. I’m not reblogging these because they’re all the same. If you find one online somewhere, I would appreciate a tweet or Facebook post. I’m getting some nice comments on these, so I have high hopes about the eventual publication.

I wanted to get something out for Chinese New Year, and the cover reveal is that attempt. I’m a few weeks away from publication.

I’ve been working on a critique for a friend, and am about half-way through the submission. I’ll probably finish it tomorrow. Our rules are to send the feedback to the entire group, and it’s a great way to raise my own game. Sometimes we don’t know everything and a bit of effort like this helps me improve my own fiction.

Then I scheduled my next Story Empire post. This one is a continuation of the Character Archetypes; the Mentor. I hope it will be well received.

I’m off until Tuesday, so I have high hopes for Monday. I don’t quite have enough to send out the next section of Lanternfish, but could have by Monday night. The crew left the magical floating island of Bungo Bungo and are headed for Giapon. This is a stand-in for Japan in my story. This is the country that Serang’s Emperor has been at war with for decades. Maybe I can build some tension with placing her in this environment.

Sunday is the day I call my parents, and spend some time with my family. There are some Sundays when I can read or maybe write a paragraph or two, but I don’t usually push it on Sundays.

Old What’s Her Face and I had a lovely date night at one of our favorite places, Kahoots. They have a great selection on tap right now, so I had a Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout, a nice Scotch Ale, and a Expresso Stout. Aside from that, the prime rib was outstanding.

With all that wonderful beer, that’s why I’ll pay my invoice tomorrow. I’m going to watch an old movie tonight and just chill. Hope you’re all having a good weekend in whatever you’re doing.

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2019, I’m calling it a success

I always try to do a year end assessment this time of year, then follow it up with a business plan in the new year. This is the assessment post.

My goals for 2019 were to step back from social media a bit and to explore sequels in my stories. In this, I was successful. I used to make custom tweets and make time to share them, make the occasional post on all the other formats out there, but honestly, they accomplish nothing. I keep these formats, and this blog auto-feeds to them, but the main goal is to point people here.

Currently, social media is for my own entertainment, but I try to share favors. Meaning, if someone tweets about my books, I try to follow and share their pinned tweet. I like finding out about all the baseball trades, bulldog pictures, and simple stuff on Facebook, but that’s about all it’s good for. I joined a big group event on Facebook that was promoted like an online trade show. It was a total failure, and I won’t make that mistake again.

I stopped paying for Facebook ads and Amazon ads last year. They never really did much, and the last few times they did nothing. My promotional efforts these days are in the form of blog tours, and a promotion company. Even then, I don’t always hire the promo firm.

When I released The Hat, the promo company really paid off. I got a bunch of early reviews, and sales were great. Things really tapered off after that. I used them for Viral Blues this year, and got one review from the NetGalley portion of the bundle.

As far as exploring sequels and series work, I count it as a major success. Success means different things to different people, so some explanation is in order. I’ll include covers and links, but I’m skipping the blurbs. This isn’t about promo, but assessment.

The first thing I published was Voyage of the Lanternfish. This is a crazy pirate fantasy with magic, monsters, and gunpowder. I’ve heard the term Flintlock Fantasy thrown around, and that might be a reasonable description.

It’s important to note this is not a sequel to anything. It’s the original book in what is destined to become a series. I published it on New Year’s Day, so it counts as 2019.

This book sold fairly well, and the comments I got on it led me to the trilogy idea. Reviews are lagging, so I’m a bit concerned.

Something else came up in a lot of the discussion. Two characters clicked with people, and they came up a lot. One isn’t so much a character as a collection of root monsters. I count them as one, because they function in swarm capacity during the action scenes. In my mind, they were just a bit of silliness to fill in the corners while Lanternfish was on a long sea voyage. Kind of like how Scrat fills out the edges of the Ice Age films. However, people loved them. I even had one ask for a root monster stand-alone book.

I don’t see that happening, because some of my over-the-top characters are better in small doses. A little is wonderful, too much can lead to brain damage.

Once I decided this could fit the classic trilogy format, I panicked a little. It would take at least a year to produce the next volume, and likely more than that. How am I going to keep fans interested during that time? This is where the other standout character came into play.

Lanternfish is set in a fantasy environment, mostly because I want to avoid comparison with Pirates of the Caribbean. There are some parallels to real world places, and it isn’t hard to understand that Serang is from pseudo-China. Her character, and this part of the world, made it easy to write her story.

Serang was raised by monks, then fled the country to become a pirate – kind of. This is a stand alone title, but it supports the Lanternfish environment. My hope is that Lanternfish fans will learn more about Serang by reading her book, and that it will tide them over until HMS Lanternfish is ready in 2020.

There is also a chance that people will read Serang first, then follow her into the Lanternfish stories.

Honestly, I dropped the ball on promotion of Serang. I released her story about 60 days after Viral Blues, and did an extensive tour for it. (More on that later.) When Serang published, I worried about my regulars suffering from tour fatigue. I took her on tour, but cut it short as a business decision. I also did not use the promo company for her story.

As of this writing, she only has four reviews on Amazon. This is partially because Amazon won’t let some people post reviews. They can still post on BookBub and Goodreads, and she’s doing better there. It seems odd to me, because these people review a mountain of books. It isn’t like they’re all shills for C. S. Boyack, but there’s nothing any of us can do about it.

I think she deserves better, and all of the reviews have been glowing.

The third book was a true sequel. My first one. It’s called Viral Blues, and is the follow up story to The Hat. The Hat sold incredibly well, and is the best reviewed book I have. Because of this, I thought Viral Blues would do better than it did. I paid the promo company for this story, and pushed the hell out of it around the Halloween season. It did well, but maybe I expected too much.

Lizzie and The Hat are back, but so are a bunch of old favorite characters. I’ve gotten some nice comments about Lisa Burton returning to a story, and admit she’s kind of a scene stealer at times. I’ve also gotten some great comments on Clovis. Both of these characters came with existing fans, so it was fun putting them in a new tale. Lizzie and The Hat carry the story, but it’s kind of like a superhero team-up.

I doubt there will ever be another story like Viral Blues, but it was a blast to create it. Lizzie and The Hat will go on, but it will be in their own adventures. These stories are paranormal with a lot of dark humor and snark.

I don’t want to jump ahead to my Business Plan, but I have some fun ideas for Lizzie and The Hat.

My goals for the two series are different. When it comes to Lanternfish, a trilogy almost demands prerequisite reading to carry on with the story. Stories about The Hat, can be read as stand-alone volumes with more available if you enjoyed the one you picked.

My Story Empire friends helped me scratch out some branding ideas for the series. With Lanternfish, there is no mistaking that figurehead. If it appears on all the covers, that should be good enough. When it comes to The Hat, I commissioned a small badge I can include on all the subsequent tales. It’s Lizzie playing her upright bass. It’s just a small icon that will let readers know it’s part of the series.

When it comes to the other parts of writing, some things changed. With three publications, they almost had to. Writing all those tour posts takes time, even if they are excerpts. All of my tour posts are unique, so I don’t wear people out when I run out a new story.

***

I didn’t return to blog posts about the writing cabin until late Autumn. This was a mistake. It’s easier to blog about what I’ve been doing than it is to fictionalize the same information and converse with Lisa. However, my stats clearly demonstrate that readers prefer interaction with Lisa.

I didn’t post as many Idea Mill posts this year, and they performed well. I need to step it up on that front. All of us need ideas for our stories, and sharing the oddball things I stumble across is kind of fun.

I also skipped Macabre Macaroni this year. I was neck deep in promotion for Viral Blues during October, and didn’t have time to write scary micro-fiction for the blog. Honestly, it passed without much notice. It’s one of those things people love when it appears, but don’t seem to miss if it doesn’t. No idea what to think about this.

Lisa Burton Radio slipped a bit, too, but that was on purpose.  Here’s a bit of my thought process. Feel free to disagree with me, but I’m just being frank. As an author, I know how hard it is to find good free promotion. Even then, there is only so much you can do. Talk about your main character, maybe your antagonist, plot. Sometimes share an excerpt.

I created something unique, in that Lisa interviews the character of your choice. It’s different enough to draw attention, and they are always popular posts. I started out asking people to give me a chance. I even advertised on various sites to get guests. I wound up posting weekly without much gap for two years. We moved some books, too.

However, there is a downside. They take a lot of work to put together. This is a collaborative effort, and it eats into my time. Many times, the guest author never even shows up, or publishes one comment to the group in passing. These posts work when the author pushes the hell out of them. I have one guest who still tweets out his older post from a year ago. That’s how it’s done.

Lisa Burton Radio is still available upon request. I’m not begging for guests any more. It’s a choice slot, and you get out what you put into it. I’m using the time I gained to write my next book. If you’re interested, Lisa will be happy to talk with your character.

To close the year out, I did something I swore I’d never do again. I held some Amazon free days for one of my books. The Playground is an older title, but several characters from this book made an appearance in Viral Blues. It also has a loose Christmas theme behind it. Honestly, we moved a crap-ton of books. My stats even showed it reaching single digits on one of the categories. I could call it a best seller at 100, so at number 9 I was kind of impressed. What I’d like to see as fallout are people following Clovis and/or Gina over to Viral Blues. A few reviews would be nice, too.

It isn’t lost on me that Serang, Voyage of the Lanternfish, and The Hat could make timely free books when the sequels are ready for publication. Watching the fallout from my Playground promo closely to figure this out.

Obviously, there is more to life than my author career, but this is a writing blog. My life has health issues, pets, relationships, and a 40 hour-per-week job, too. This post is an assessment of my 2019 success and fumbles as an author. My goal has always been to entertain people for a few hours. It’s even the name of the blog. With that in mind, I think 2019 goes in the win column.

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My Halloween Conversation with Colleen

Hello, Everyone! Happy Halloween!

The last few years I’ve reserved my Halloween interview spot for C. S. Boyack, one of my favorite speculative fiction authors. Craig has written several books that fit into the Halloween genre. One of my all-time favorite books he’s written is called Panama. Just, don’t read this one alone in the dark!

I usually ask authors to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE. However, because it’s Halloween, I let Craig pick his own questions. The best way to learn how to write captivating books is to learn from other successful authors.

Please meet my guest author, C. S. Boyack. Read the rest of of the interview here.

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Viral Blues, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Hey, everyone. Welcome to a special Friday the 13th, late night edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and while we’re awaiting the full moon to rise in conjunction with this day, I have something special for you.

Craig thought this wonderful event would be a perfect time to release his latest paranormal story, Viral Blues. He told me to note that it’s also his 13th publication. You have to admit, it seems kind of Karmic somehow.

If you’re familiar with these shows, you know I always have a guest, but I’m the guest today. I’ll explain how that all happened.

Craig wanted to write a sequel to The Hat. One evening, he was commuting home from work when he was joined by his Muse. Lorelei told him he has a lot of characters who could all be living in the same world. He called me at the writing cabin, and set me to work immediately.

I went down to the Character Union Hall, and all these people were just hanging around, looking for new stories to appear in. I interviewed them, one by one, and chose some to appear in the new story with Lizzie and The Hat.

The next weekend, Craig came out to the writing cabin to look over the list, then get started. He said it needed something extra. I was afraid of letting him down, but he was only teasing me. He said what the story needed was a robot girl to round out the cast.

I have to admit, I cried a little. I like being helpful, but I’ve been asking for another story for years. Then to find out I get to be in a story with some of his most popular characters. It was kind of overwhelming.

Superhero team-ups are all the rage right now. Why not in book form too? This is the group of heroic characters in the story:

  • Me (obviously)
  • Lizzie St. Laurent
  • The Hat
  • Dr. Gina Greybill
  • Mohan Gupta
  • Clovis
  • Jason Fogg
  • Clovis’s girlfriend, Justine

This story also has a bunch of Easter Eggs inside for those who have read Craig’s previous work. I won’t go into those, so as not to spoil it for you.

The deal is that Dr. Greybill and, and her helper Gupta, called this group together under her Host Program. There is someone or something tampering with the nation’s vaccine supply. That’s where the story starts.

If you’ve been following along with the teasers, my posters and the music will start to make sense now. The posters all have something to do with the book.

The Hat is Craig’s most popular book, and they are going to be getting even more stories in the future. Just this one time, we all thought it was fun to get together for one huge adventure.

I want to point out that just because this is a sequel, well, for a bunch of us, really, there is no prerequisite reading here. If this is where you start, it will all be perfectly readable.

The story is set up to be a Hat story all the way, so the format is like that book. There are some fun graphics inside, and a lot of dark humor, too.

Also, be sure to check out the secret last chapter at the very end of the book. It’s beyond the author material, kind of like those scenes after the credits in movies.

I had a lot of fun, and I’ll bet you will, too. Check out this awesome cover, and I’ll include a purchase link. This thing just went live about 30 minutes ago.

http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B07XVTSYYV

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Filed under Lisa Burton Radio, Writing

Even more teaser fun

Time for another taste of my coming publication. Like before, turn your speakers on, click the video, then ponder Lisa’s new poster.

Lisa Burton

Feel free to share Lisa’s poster around, use for your iPad background, whatever. Big old No-Prize if you know what she’s curling her hair with. Standard reminder, Lisa’s posters make great Pinterest pins.

Let’s hear it in the comments, have you figured out what’s coming for your Halloween reading?

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