Tag Archives: The Twilight Zone

It’s a writer’s weekend

Old What's Her Face* is still in Nevada visiting family. I've had the house all to myself, and hit it about as hard as I felt like.

I haven't broken the 20,000 word mark on The Yak Guy project. I added a few bits to plant things that will payoff later. I stalled when it came time to name things.

Choosing names is always hard for me. I think everything sounds horrible. Yak guy is at a place where he needs to choose a name to find other people like himself. He has certain memories stripped away, and I don't like any of the names he's coming up with.

There are two warring factions in this story, and they need names too. There I am, freaked out over names. Some will say to keep writing and fix it later. I have a really hard time doing that.

To break things up, I started a short story. I nailed down just over 3000 words in two days. Looks like it's going to be a legitimate short story, and not a micro-fiction. I really like where it's going, but it needs some cleaning up. Part of the problem comes from first person point of view. I must have written 27 sentences beginning with I. (If you need an example refer to this paragraph.) I made a pass to clean that up, but it still needs work.

I finished two of three critiques. I printed the last one, but am stalling. The guy sent in double the allowed word count intending for us to do half this month, and half next month. Just another weirdness I possess, and I'll probably have to work up the whole thing. I don't want to print it twice, or re-do the first half next month.

I finished another character pass on The Playground too. There is one left, and it's a big one. I'm getting close to needing some beta readers, but not quite.

I spent a little time with The Twilight Zone, and Hitchcock. Later I'm going to check out the season finale of Ash vs. The Evil Dead.

I also baked bread and tried out my new clay baker from King Arthur. It came out with a beautiful blister crust, and I kind of want to tear into it right now. The house smells pretty darned good.

I still have to get some posts scheduled for next week. There are guests coming over, and I have work to do on their posts.

My wife won't be home until mid day tomorrow, and I might get more accomplished tonight and tomorrow morning. I really want to break 20,000 words on Yak Guy before I head back to work. Fingers crossed that I'll come up with some good names.

I seem to have this shut off at about 2500 words. After that, I need to constructively daydream the next part. My outline cards are mile markers, but I still have to come up with stuff between them. It seems as if that isn't everything in the tank. I can still write short fiction and dedicate brain cells to it.

So update the blog, kill a few deadites, and back to… Something. I'll figure out something.

* Entertaining Stories, protecting my wife's identity since 2013.


Filed under Writing

Well, that was strange…

Date night. Saturday night. Anytown, USA. You get a hot tip on a good restaurant, and decide to try it out. Steak and shrimp, the specialty of the house. You do an Internet search to make sure they are as good as your tip said. This place is famous for their gigantic prawns. Maybe you download a Groupon; it's always good to save a buck.

Your spouse presses your shirt. It's the one night a week when it's just the two of you. You drive to the restaurant, and the parking lot is full; a good sign. The cars are all top marques , another good sign. You place your hand upon the horseshoe doorknob, give it a good swing and hold it for your wife…

Cue the music, motherfu****. You've just entered The Twilight Zone.

My pupils narrow, and I'm blinded temporarily by the sea of white. The tint in my bifocals darkens until I can see the light is coming from the white hair from the patrons. The decor is dark tongue and groove wood with wrought iron trimmings. Ancient photos and replicas of famous western paintings hang on every wall.

I check the menu. Did I wander into The Golden Corral by mistake? No, we're in the right place. It's like walking into the best restaurant in town, in 1974.

The place has a Hotel California vibe to it, in that the patrons never left. I'm relatively certain the lady with the walker must have won a Lindy Hop competition at some time in her past. The man swirling his whiskey and Coke looks like a retired barnstormer, for sure. Even the waitstaff has grey hair, our waitress has hers in a grey ponytail. It's probably the same hairstyle she wore to work when she was sixteen.

I looked around for someone more my age. I saw an old man with a pornstache. Those went extinct some time in the last century. Another man had on a cowboy shirt, the kind with the pearl snaps instead of buttons, and pointed pocket flaps. He's snapped up all the way with a bolo tie to finish it off. His high water white slacks reveal pointed black cowboy boots underneath.

When our meal arrives, it involves beef the way they used to serve it. Goddamned near raw, except it's a few degrees warmer than when it was alive. The prawns are gigantic, except they're prepared in the only way I ever saw shrimp until I turned thirty. They're flattened out like a lollipop, breaded, and deep fried. Just like you might find in a box from the frozen food section.

I ate my supper in silence. Fear prevented me from asking if they'd ever heard of scampi, or barbecued prawns. I didn't want to have to stay there forever. We paid the tab.

The meal was great, it was just the height of cuisine from forty years ago.

We hugged each other in the parking lot, glad to have escaped the permanence of the place. Old What's Her Face wanted to go to the mall. I was so happy to be alive, that I agreed.

I celebrated my good fortune with a beer from Old Chicago. She bought some pants and shoes to wear to the theatre tomorrow night. On the way home I stopped for a couple of magazines, the paper kind, like I haven't read in years. These are for stocking in the camper. I picked up Azimov's, Ellery Queen, and Hitchcock's. I even added a copy of the new Heavy Metal magazine, just for fun. The next time my iPad battery dies out camping, I'm ready with some evening entertainment.

It was a decent night. We're never repeating it — ever. There has to be some kind of fusion restaurant, or Tuscan based place around.

I hope all of you had a great Saturday night. Mine was fine, but a little bit scary.


Filed under Uncategorized

Bachelor Saturday

My wife went to visit her brother in Nevada. My daughter has been at work all day. These days are golden to me, and I always try to make the most of them.

I started off answering comments and reading your blogs. I needed to get my coffee guage up in the green zone before tackling any serious work. I forgot to track my word count again, but knocked a big dent in my novel.

I stopped at 51,000 words today. If I had to guess, I’m between four thousand and fourty-five hundred words. I have more in me, but my eyes got tired.

I wrote a gangland shootout, let it devolve into cold blooded murder, and deprived one of my characters of a body part. He’s tough, he’ll muddle through. He’s in the middle of getting some healing that no MD can provide. It involves something called Fiery Wall of Protection oil and a few Psalms.

He’s going to need a new plan, and a bit of luck to fulfill his mission now. I wish him all the best, but his foil is in town too and getting close to the same goal.

I added a category to my blog. I’m a believer in few categories and many tags. The new category is The Idea Mill. I went back and added this to all the old posts. Now folks who enjoy these can find them all in one place. Need a story element, check this category to get your imagination running.

It occurred to me that these posts need pictures. I’ve always been sparse with photos, but these could benefit. Since they are links, with my own added remarks, I just think a little bait might draw more attention.

I spent a little time with The twilight Zone today. I can enjoy them without glasses and it was a good chance to rest my eyes and still fill my head with data.

It’s 7:00 PM here at Casa Boyack. I have to choose between a new short story idea and reading. I promised my Muse I would work on my novel, and I did. Like a bolt from Mt. Olympus the idea for a fantasy story hit me. I suppose that’s how Muses work sometimes. My fantasy tale will involve the use of diplomacy. Far be it from me to make it about sorcery and magic.

I suppose in the end reading will win out. Tomorrow I get to go fishing with my son and grandkids. Even I need to get taken outside and aired out.

How was your Saturday?


Filed under Writing

My own trip to The Twilight Zone

It’s just after midnight here in Idaho. My wife went to bed an hour ago, but I stayed up watching my new/old Twilight Zone disks. I just finished the first book of five books, each containing five disks. There are many episodes on each disk.

The last two episodes just blew my mind. Keep in mind these are really old episodes, and even the opening credits hadn’t evolved into the classic one, and the music hadn’t either. I’ve watched many episodes over the last fifty years, but they were the more famous ones. The one where the gremlin is tearing apart the plane comes to mind.

I’ve never seen these episodes in my life.

The first one is called The Mighty Casey. It stars Jack Warden, who was also marooned with a robot girl in an earlier episode. This time he’s managing a broken down baseball team when a scientist shows up with a robotic pitcher. Everything goes too well, until they get caught. Then the question of what it means to be a human comes up.

That was a central theme in Wild Concept, and my character Lisa Burton. It blew my mind. They say there are no new stories, and it looks like they’re right.

Then it got really weird. The next episode was A World of His Own, with Keenan Wynn. This one involves a writer who brings his characters to life and interacts with them. His wife gets jealous of his imaginary girlfriend, until it’s revealed that he wrote his wife too. Rod Serling shows up to give it the standard TZ ending, but Serling was created by Wynn too.

Wynn gathers up all the audio tapes from when he created them and burns them. The characters all disappear, including Rod Serling.

This sounds a whole lot like my Muse category and Writing Cabin tales. Naw, I don’t use audio tape…

I swear I’ve never seen these episodes in my life. Hit the creepy Twilight Zone music.

Im going to ask Lorelei* if she ever worked with a guy named Rod Serling the next time I see her.

It’s bedtime now, but I don’t think I’ll be sleeping much.

*Lorelei is my Muse


Filed under Writing

Notes, from The Twilight Zone

These are exactly as presented, notes. Feel free to chime in about any of my points, or about any decent short story tutorial you enjoy.

Regular readers know I bought the entire series of The Twilight Zone. This is an attempt to learn something about writing short stories. I’ve watched two disks out of about twenty-five.

In watching the earliest episodes of The Twilight Zone, I’ve already learned some things. I really enjoy these stories, and the list of old actors are like seeing old friends again. That’s a distraction. I even got out a pen and paper to help me focus.

I’m happy to see that I’m not insane for writing more than one genre. Twilight Zone included science fiction and paranormal stories. I haven’t seen any real fantasy, but there are small elements peppered here and there. It can be done.

The first lesson is that I can’t replicate Serling. (Or Hitchcock from another old favorite.) Using a narrator to bring the audience up to speed is about forty years out of style. I’m not dissing on those who like omnipotent point of view, but I’ve only toyed with it in micro fiction. Serling brings the audience into the story in a few quick paragraphs.

I may be able to replace Serling with a good hook. (Maybe) Some line that draws readers in. “All children, except one, grow up.”

It’s probably best to start with character, but setting may work on occasion. This character must be interesting. If it’s a bad person, the character should be harming someone the audience would root for.

Add the strange spice right about here. What kind of story is this? Paranormal, fantasy, or science fiction. Get it on the page early. Twilight Zone uses a lot of peddlers. Not much use in a modern story, but we have pawn shops, fences, even auctions.

Whatever the strange spice brings, make it light. It can be charming, fun, mildly amusing. The reader might even be envious of something special a character gains.

Change the strange spice to terrifying. Make sure the reader is uncomfortable at this point. Better yet, make it personal.

End with a twist the reader never saw coming. (Good luck.) It may be helpful to write the ending first.

There is no time for a full hero’s journey. Things like training, gathering the team, and mentors have to go. It’s a short story, get to the point.

Important, the science fiction episodes dealt with the culture of the day. Space travel and nuclear war were on everyone’s mind. Today we might have genetics, GMO food, overpopulation, global warming, or depletion of resources in land or sea.

I’m pretty happy with myself as far as my story elements. Lisa, the robot, has GMO skin. Prejudice plays a role in Wild Concept, Panama, and The Cock of the South. Arson has socialized medicine and big insurance as the villain. Yay me!

The seven deadly sins seem to have been as much a motivating factor then as now. Still valid plot issues.

I was slightly surprised to see a robot girl in one episode. They didn’t take time to explain her, like I could in a novel. She was not the main character, Jack Warden was.

Some science fiction elements are timeless; time travel, space exploration, artificial intelligence. I can still use these.

I have no doubt my Muse will be inspired. I’ve already noticed her sandalwood perfume in the air.

I may discover a few thing more as I enjoy these shows. If I do, I’ll share them. It’s hard to come by a good tome about writing a short story. It seems they skip over minor failures and successes, to just deal with the big ones.


Filed under Writing

I have a New Study Guide

I’ve been toying with the idea a of writing some short stories. I have an idea of what a novel takes. My micro fiction seemed to work well, but something about the length of a short story is eluding me. How many disasters should I include? How much to slice off at each end? That sort of thing. So I got a study guide…

…Imagine yourself as a writer. Your stories are good, but the rejection letters keep piling up. You finally decide to self publish, but you’re late to the event. You need to buy cover art and figure out how to promote your works.

It’s a solitary process, just you and your imaginary friends. So you start a blog. You meet a few kindred spirits along the way and they really help. But your imaginary friends demand time too. One day you decide to park your imaginary friends at a wonderful place you call the Writing Cabin.

My friend, you’ve just entered…



I think Rod Serling could teach a guy a thing or two about short stories; particularly the kind of stories I write. It was this or Love American Style, which was also good in its own way.

If you need me, I’ll be binge watching about five years worth of vintage television.


Filed under Short Stories & Vignettes, Writing