Tag Archives: the writing cabin

Shifting Gears

I flew a wide circle around the meadow at the writing cabin. After Lisa’s explosives incident, I tried to be careful.

She used the forks on the tractor to maneuver a section of our survival bunker into the hole. I took it as being safe to land. She came over the speaker in my gyrocopter. “Coffee is all ready. I’ll be in after I get this section in place.”

I touched down, moved onto the elevator, and lowered everything into the basement. No sense risking my ride if Lisa wasn’t finished blasting.

I decided to move into the paranormal office, since the sound of heavy equipment was closer to the other wall. Doubt, the raven, flew into the room and accompanied me. I smirked at him and said, “Sorry dude, I’m writing micro-fiction today.”

He glared at me like I brought his daughter home late.

I spent a couple of hours on micro-fiction. I managed about 1700 words, but it wasn’t easy with Doubt glaring at me.

The biggest problem is a stylistic issue. What do you do when your character is speaking, and all that comes out of her mouth is guttural grunts and growls? It’s important to get her viewpoint, but we also need to know what gets heard. I have an idea involving italics, and quotations. I won’t share the story until October, so maybe something else will come to me.

Lisa came in with questions. “How are you going to furnish this bunker after I assemble everything?”

“You’re going to have to leave out the last section. Then load up all the furniture, food, and stuff before you attach the last piece. We don’t want to carry too much down the ladder, and beds and such won’t fit.”

“I think you’re a month out. I need to wire and plumb everything, plus you’ll need high speed internet and all the bells and whistles.”

“No problem. My story characters might have to live under harsh conditions, but there’s no reason we have to. You’ll need to seal it against moisture, then bury it.”

“Yeah, with all that fresh earth out there, one of the sabretooths came off the mountain and did what cats do in fresh earth.”

“You’re a trooper. I’m sure you’ll figure out what–”

The front door burst open, and we went to see what happened.

Lorelei, the Muse, stood framed in the doorway. Sunlight backlit her brunette hair and formed a halo around her face. I always assumed it was some kind of goddess trick. She wore a short summer dress and wedge shoes. She spread her arms and said, “Buongiorno!”

Lisa squealed and ran to hug her. “Where have you been lately?”

“I took a vacation. It looked like you guys had enough to do with the Yak Guy. Today, I’m here to check on your next projects.”

“Oh, cool, I can give you a tour of the bunker.”

“I peeked at it. It doesn’t look like there’s much there yet.”

I stepped forward. “There will be. Lisa has some nice ideas to decorate it, and I’ll make sure it’s functional.”

“Thank God. I was afraid you were going to decorate it.” She reached onto the porch and produced a large box. “I brought you a present. It looks like you’re getting prepared to write Estivation, but I don’t want you to forget about The Hat.” She sat the box on the coffee table and removed the lid with a flourish.

An old grey fedora sat inside, and a whiff of mothballs caught my attention. I eased closer, and the dents in the crown narrowed like eyes, and the crown of the hat formed eyebrows above them. “Hey, how’s it going?” the hat asked.

“Um, fine.” I looked at Lorelei. “You really weren’t kidding about this were you?”

“I never kid when it comes to inspiration.”

“What am I going to do with him?”

“Please, you’ve done this before. Talk to him. Spend some time together, then write his story.”

“But what about Estivation?”

“These are both supposed to be novellas, remember? You can probably work on them together. When you burn out on one, take up the other.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll help you,” the hat said. “I’m pretty sure the robot chick will too.”

I put my hand around my beard. What had I gotten myself into this time?

Lisa hooked her thumbs in her tool-belt and rose to her toes. “I will too, I always do.”

Lorelei said, “Lisa, I heard you ordered some hats in preparation for this one. Let’s go see what you bought.”

“Fun! Come upstairs and we can try them all on.”

The girls headed upstairs. That looked like the end of construction for the day. I looked at the hat. “What now?”

“Traditionally, I go on your head. Then Lorelei tells me you have a paranormal office. Let’s go take a look.”

I plopped the fedora on my head. “Fine, but I need more coffee for this.”

“Oh, none for me, thanks. Never touch the stuff.”

This could be a crazy Fall, and Winter.

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The Editing Cabin???

Frankie did her pee pee dance about six o'clock this morning, so I rushed her outside. I fed her and Otto, then headed for the writing cabin.

The place is quiet and has been for some time. Doubt the raven isn't very good company, and I always feel like he's judging me about something. I fed Lisa's rabbit and flitted between projects.

I managed to assemble the next Lisa Burton Radio post, and contacted the author for the week after that. I did a lap through social media and email before putting my editing jacket on.

I managed four chapters, and it's amazing what you'll find when you put a project aside for a month or two. I never really put The Yak Guy aside for that long, but these are early chapters and I probably haven't looked at them for six months. I found a couple of sentences that didn't make a lick of sense, but they do now. I also found a word that was too modern for the setting. It was waterbag, which is what we used to carry on the survey trucks when I was a young man. I used the term waterskin throughout the book, and it's easy to see how I got it in there. It had to go, and I fixed it. Doubt glared at me as if I still didn't have it right.

I spent some time also reading four chapters of a book. My spare time is scarce, and it's either reading or something writing related. Today I decided to split my time between the two. That was until a rumble sounded across the forest and meadow.

I ran to the front porch and stared into the woods. Something distinctly red flashed between the trees.

Lisa Burton roared down the gravel road on her new/old motorcycle. She slid to a stop on the elevator at the end of the runway, then lowered everything into the basement.

I ran back inside to meet her at the top of the stairs when she came up. “It's good to have you home.”

“What's going on out here?”

“Just tending the animals and doing a bit of editing.”

“I can see that. How did you ever get that thing on anyway?”

“I don't know, just part of the magic at the writing cabin.”

“Did you manage to write something while I was away?”

“Not so much. I scratched out a Macabre Macaroni piece, but I don't know if I'll keep it. Maybe I should start calling it the editing cabin. There hasn't been much writing going on this year.”

“I'm sure there will be. Lorelei the Muse won't let you stagnate.”

“I'm sure. Looks like you bought yourself a new toy.”

“Oh yeah, isn't it pretty. I won enough money on the cruise ship to pay for it, and still have money left over. Wanna go for a ride?”

“Um, maybe later.”

“Okay, I'm going to unpack and visit my poor lonely Bunny.”

“Glad to have you back. I think your posters came out great this time.”

“They were nice, weren't they? I like my umpire one best. I looked serious and fierce in it.”

“You had a no nonsense look on your face, that's for sure. Um, Lisa?”

“What?”

“Turns out getting into my editing jacket is easier than getting out of it. Do you mind?”

“No problem, turn around and I'll untie your sleeves.”

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Promotion takes a step forward.

I read through my morning emails, and sent some ideas off to Sean Harrington. Sean was the cover artist for Wild Concept, and makes the awesome Lisa Burton* art I share here. He is going to make the cover for The Playground.

I stepped away from my iPad and went to find Lisa. I like to bounce ideas off her when it comes to being in public. She’s much more social than I am. I found her nailing up a painting behind her desk.

“What the hell? Where did you? Is that a Warhol?”

Lisa stepped off my old soapbox and turned. “Warhol’s dead.”

“Yeah, well we get ghosts out here sometimes. Remember the one in Will O’ the Wisp?”

“Oh yeah, I had do download French so I could talk to her.” She put the hammer on her desk. “It’s a Harrington. You’ve had us working together quite a bit, and he made this for me.”

“Huh. I um…” I scratched my head while Lisa fetched coffee. She knows me so well.

“What’s on your mind today?” She sat the cup on a coaster made from an old circuit board.

“I think I need to expand my social media footprint. I really don’t like that stuff, and would rather just write. Still, if nobody knows I have books available, it’s hard for folks to read them.”

“So, spit it out.”

“Well, you’re more social than I am. What do you know about Facebook? I think I should probably have a page on Facebook.”

She looked off into the distance. Her eyes fluttered like when the television flickers briefly. “Done!”

“What do you mean, done?”

“You have a Facebook page.”

“You mean, you just made one? Right now?”

“Look.” She pointed at herself. “Robot girl plus great WiFi, equals you have a Facebook page.”

“Show me.”

She sat at her computer and entered the address for Entertaining Stories on Facebook.

“Was it hard to set up?”

“Not for me. You might have spent days at it. I had to set up my own page first before I could set up a business page, so it took me a nano-second. Check it out.” She opened a site for Lisa Burton on Facebook.

“All of it looks pretty good. What do we do with it?”

“You need to make some friends, and they can interact with you.”

“Yeah… Interaction is good, I like that. It’s the making friends part I’m not so good at.”

She rolled her eyes and sat behind the computer. “Go write your stories. I’ll spend some time making you some friends.”

I patted her on the shoulder. “You’re a great wingman. Thanks.” I headed back to my office.

I really don’t know what to do with Facebook, so I’m open to suggestions. It looks like I’ve already gotten a bunch of work done today. Maybe I’ll watch a movie, or make some sourdough. Then I can spend my afternoon seeing if Lisa made me some friends.

*Lisa Burton is my personal assistant, and the spokesmodel for Entertaining Stories. She’s also a robot.

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Meanwhile, back at the Writing Cabin

Pain. Throbbing. Cold. I put a hand to my head, felt the ice bag, and removed it. I swiveled my legs to the floor and opened my eyes. I’m cross eyed.

It looked like I was in the paranormal office, on the couch. My right eye wandered independently of my left. I closed my eyes and put the ice bag back.

Lisa* ran down the hall and into the room. I decided to try one eye at a time. She wore her short coveralls, a tee shirt, and rubber kitchen gloves. Her hair was tied back in a bandana. “Slow down. Don’t get up too fast.”

“Not a problem. What happened?”

“I don’t know completely. I finished my shoot with Sean Harrington, and came home. The cabin was a mess, and you turned into a giant snail.”

“Remember that bronze bust of me?”

“Yeah.”

“My head feels like that.”

“Odd, I thought it would feel more like calcite because of your shell and all.”

“What? – Nevermind. My eyes are going every which way.”

“She said that would happen for a while.”

“Who?”

“Well, I tried to reach Jinx, but you left her in 1906 at the end of Panama.” Lisa spread her hands apart. “Jinx doesn’t have email. Then I tried Patty Hall, but she’s back in school. She told me to use the spindle in her desk because it does spirit writing.”

“Yeah, and?”

“She told me how to contact her ancestor. Remember the ghost in Will O’ the Wisp?”

“The French one?”

“Yeah, her. She came, but I had to download the entire French language to talk to her. After she got you back to normal, you screamed escargot, ran in here and whacked your head on the bottom of the giant hippo head. You’ve been here ever since.”

I concentrated on making my eyes obey me, and worked my way to the enchanted window for some air. Today it was the image of the French ghost waving back at me. I spotted the biplane on the runway. “What’s with the plane?”

“It’s a prop from my photo shoot. I got to keep the outfit too. Do you want to see the poster for your book?”

“Yes, absolutely. Then I need to respond to all my email, arrange some reviews, and try to do something with my blog sidebar.”

“Oh, I’ve already done all that.” She unrolled the poster to promote my Notebook.

“Well, what do you think?”

“It’s beautiful. Kind of has an old Hollywood flavor to it. We need to send it to the folks who are helping promote the book.”

“I’ve already done that too, and cleaned up your mess I might add.”

“Lisa, you’re the best. I don’t know what I’d do without you sometimes.”

She rose up on her toes. “Aww, thanks. Now relax, and I’ll find your iPad. You can catch up on all the blogs you’ve been missing.”

“Thanks. See that thing, hanging in the fireplace?”

“Yeah?”

“That’s the Soup Ladle of Destiny. Do you think you could scoop me out a bowl of soup. Oh, and don’t put any salt in it. For some reason, salt scares the crap out of me right now.”

“Should I put the poster in the break room?”

“I say we hang it right in the front office. What are you going to do with the plane?”

“I’ll use the elevator to put it in the basement. We’re pretty far out here, and catalog shopping isn’t as much fun as trying things on. I can go to Rodeo Drive now.”

“It has machine guns. The FAA might not like it too much.”

“Uh huh. In that flight jacket, they might be checking out my guns, but not the plane’s.” She snorted, then laughed at the snort.

I put the ice bag back on my head, and stretched out on the couch.

*Lisa Burton is my robotic personal assistant. She’s also the official spokesmodel for this blog.

***

The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack is available for pre-order on Amazon right now. It’s a collection of short stories and micro-fiction, and priced at 99¢ it’s a steal of a deal. Just click on the title, or the linked image in the sidebar. It contains a new Lisa Burton story, one with that biplane, and one called The Soup Ladle of Destiny. (Among other tales.)

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The research phase

It’s time to do a little bit of research for my outlines. This is only preliminary stuff, more research will happen if I wind up writing one of these stories. For those who are new to my experiment, I’m in the middle of outlining four stories. I intend to make them slug it out survivor style for my writing time. This could make subsequent stories come along much faster, because they’ll be partly outlined.

***

The text, from Lisa* at the writing cabin, arrived at 2:30 today. “A group of guys just dropped off an old beater car. They said you ordered it.”

“I did. Check the model year and download a repair manual. I’ll be out after work today.”

As soon as I got home from work, I flew out to the writing cabin.

“Are you going somewhere in that junker?” Lisa asked.

“No, we are going somewhere in that junker. And it’s not a junker, it’s a Land Rover. We’re going on a research safari.”

“I can’t go camping. I have batteries to charge. And besides, who’s going to watch Bunny?

“Not to worry. Your friend Faith said she would tend Bunny while we’re gone.” I pushed my safari hat back out of my eyes. “Remember the Anurans from Arson?”

“Yeah…” She placed her hands on her hips and waited.

“I found some Anurans who operate a safari company. They dropped everything off using the Skyway system. They even pitched the tents and dropped off a generator.”

“It won’t be like a real safari. You have wooly mammoths and cave lions around here. And there are no bears on a safari.”

I ran inside and started packing books to the Land Rover. “I’ll have to use my imagination and improvise a bit. We’re going quite a ways, and we may find some real elephants, or some Cape buffalo.”

“Oh my gosh! I need to pack my clothes.” Lisa ran off in a flurry.

I loaded these books into the vehicle.

I’ve read them all before

I really need a book about propaganda, but maybe something will turn up. Do they have libraries on the savannah?

My hand moved to my beard, and I paused. I turned and yelled up the stairs. “We’ll drop Bunny off along the way. You probably ought to bring that big assed gun of yours.”

“Why? Crocodiles don’t eat robots.” The snicker echoed down the staircase.

“Very funny. If we hurry, we can probably get there just after dark.”

“Don’t wait for me. I’m ready for Camp Research.” She sat her trunk on the floor with a thud.

“Camp Research. I like that, we should put up a sign when we get there.” I stroked my beard again. “Um, what’s in the trunk?”

“Clothes and stuff. You don’t expect me to leave without a change of clothes do you?”

“Um, no. What was I thinking. You’ll have to lash it down in the back. And download a map, you’re driving.”

She lifted her trunk with one hand and carried it to the Land Rover. It’s surprising how strong she really is.

Lisa turned over the ancient four-wheel-drive’s engine. “Did you lock the door?”

“Yes.”

“Did you go pee?”

“Yes.”

“Can you see if Bunny’s scared?”

“He’s fine.”

“Will we find some natives?” She dropped the clutch and we made our way down the access road.

“I hope so.”

“Witch doctors too?”

“That’s the plan. You haven’t been out lately, have you?”

“Not really, why do you ask?”

“No reason. I think you have sixteen questions to go.”

*Lisa Burton is the main character in Wild Concept. She’s a robot and helps me around the writing cabin these days.

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Book intensive care

I skipped a post last night. I really wanted my 2015 plans to stay at the top for a little longer. I’ve gathered some good comments, a few more via email, and a few victims volunteers who asked to read Will ‘O the Wisp. Thank you, everyone.

I must have gathered up over a hundred new blog followers during December. I had a lot going on, and was hosted by quite a few nice people. My stats show a lot of traffic flowing between my blog and In a Small Compass. With the new followers in mind, I’m including this link to the Entertaining Stories Primer.

I used yesterday to finish reading a book and posted a review for a fellow indie author. With today all to myself, I headed for the writing cabin.

I wound up buzzing the runway to scare off a wooly rhino. I didn’t want to run him too hard, because winter is tough on wildlife. The skis on my gyro-copter made the landing much smoother. The elevator carried the ‘copter to the basement, and I trudged upstairs.

Lisa* was washing the little alien shotglass she brought me, along with the enchanted beer horns. She had her hair pulled back between combs and wore her calf length jeans and high heels. She topped it of with a baggy pink sweatshirt.

“That green glass looks custom made for some absynth,” I said.

Lisa scowled at me. “You have a visitor. One who gets jealous when you hang out with the green fairy.”

My back stiffened, and I knew I was in trouble. It had been months since I’d added new words to my work in progress. I grabbed coffee and headed for my main office to face the music.

Lorelei** was hunched over the couch, crying. She wore medical scrubs, and had her hair tucked under a matching cap. She tucked a tiny blanket around something and waved over her shoulder toward the fireplace, which immediately burst into flames. “There, there, baby. It’ll be alright. I’ll make sure of it.”

“Um, what is that? Is it sick?”

“No, it’s dying of neglect.”

“Is there anything we can do for it?”

“Do you really care?”

“Yeah, what is it? How can I help?”

She stood, turned, and placed her hands on her hips. “It’s your manuscript, if you still care.”

I slid into my recliner and sipped my coffee. “What do I have to do?”

She cradled the little manuscript and tucked it into the crook of my arm. “Even though it isn’t finished, it’s still a book. Just read it. The more you enjoy it, the healthier it will get. Books thrive when they get read.”

I read the first page, and the manuscript wiggled. “It likes it. Would it like us to read aloud to each other?”

“It would adore that. I’ll stay for an hour, then you and Lisa will have to carry on.”

I cupped my hand around my mouth and yelled down the hall. “Lisa, get in here. We have a long afternoon project.”

* Lisa is the main character in Wild Concept. She is a robot and helps me around the writing cabin these days.

** Lorelei is my Muse. She gets cranky, but maybe she’s justified this time.

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That secret project I was working on

A month or so ago, I participated in Blog Recruiting Day for the Rave Reviews Book Club. It was a contest, with a Spotlight Author week as a prize.

My post got the most votes, and this week is my Spotlight tour. What many of you might not know, is that a lot of work goes on behind the scenes to make these things work.

Iris* and I have been working on blog posts like crazy. There were interview sheets to fill out, and I had to perform ‘I’m a Little Teapot’ before Lorelei** would agree to her interview.

During this time, I also wanted to support Karen at In a Small Compass. She’s writing a story called Neighbors, and my character, Lisa, is playing a supporting role.

I also had to show Roald*** how to work the camera for my candid shot. It will show up somewhere this week.

I got to the Writing Cabin late that day. Iris was waiting on my desk by my Mac. Roald was in the kitchen up to his armpit in an old cauldron he’d brought up from the basement.

“What’s going on here?” I asked.

“I find out about this Christmas thingy,” Roald said. “It’s a pretty big party, so I’m makin’ you some eggnog, by golly. It’s better with milk from Mountain Cows.”

“How do you know?”

“Vell, I tried about a quart of it already. (Hic)”

“Why is your arm in it?”

“Dose eggshells are pretty darned tricky, but I catch him pretty quick. You’ll see.”

“Okay. I have to get to work, but I’ll try some later.” I went to my office and started working on a book excerpt.

Iris said, “Maybe you ought to use the one with Cobby’s girlfriend.”

“I thought I’d use a scene with you in it.”

“Aww, that’s so sweet. What else are you using?”

“There’s one with Cobby and Roald in it that might work.”

She helped me decide where to clip the scenes off, and I wrote a little intro for them.

Roald showed up with his eggnog, and we all had some. It was sweet and nutty, with a salty Dwarven aftertaste. I handed him my iPhone and asked him to take my picture.

He got a nice shot of his thumb, Doubt the raven’s backside, his own eye, and half my face.

Ultimately, we decided my wife could take the picture. We settled in for a great blog tour and enjoyed our eggnog.

Now everyone make a fist with your right hand. Repeat after me, “I will pick up a copy of The Cock of the South, and I will enjoy it.” Now thump that fist over your heart.

…”(hic) I vill too, by golly.”

“No, not you, Roald. Them.”

*Iris is a supporting character in The Cock of the South. She’s a fairy and is helping me prepare for this blog tour.

** Lorelei is my Muse. She is appearing at Marlena Hand’s blog, Life as I Know It, today. So go check it out.

*** Roald is a Dwarven tribesman. He is a supporting character in The Cock of the South. He’s filling in for Lisa the robot while she’s at Karen’s place.

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