Tag Archives: writing

Procrastinating and falling forward

It wasn't quite the weekend I intended, and then it was. That's kind of cryptic, but here's how it happened.

I needed to keep the Lisa Burton Radio line moving. I'm in the habit of telling folks two weeks out when to expect their radio interview. At one week out, I send a final proof to that week's guest, assemble, and schedule the post. That was my primary goal, because folks are counting on me to get it done. Mission accomplished.

I needed to write my last micro-fiction for October, but put it off all day Saturday. I've learned, when procrastinating on these, that something isn't quite ready yet. That was the case with the last story.

The novella, called The Hat, tried to seduce me all day. I promised myself I wouldn't start it until next weekend, and staved off the craving by writing a blog piece about the Research Sirens. This was only partially fiction. Conversia, one of the sirens, wanted me to interview some folks to get the details right. I have reached out to a medical person and a musical person, and they are willing to help me. In the comments, I also got another offer of musical assistance. It's so cool to know folks who will help out. I'm willing to consult on anything I might know about too if anyone needs it.

I spent a big part of today on email, and Sharknado Five. Yeah- yeah, these films suck, but how bad they suck is part of the appeal.

Old What's Her Face, said she needed a pedicure and asked if I could watch the dogs while she was out.

“Well, of course, Honey. Whatever you want.”

While she was gone, the stars lined up for my last micro-fiction. I wanted some confusion, and I want readers to see it right away in this story. I'm doing it on purpose, and don't want readers to think I'm just an idiot when things happen out of order. Today, I was ready to put it all on paper, and did. This one made me emotional when I wrote it, and I hope that comes across.

These micros will post, one per week, during an October event I call Macabre Macaroni. Tuesday is usually a non-blogging day for me, and works perfectly for this event. This year there are five Tuesdays, so I needed five stories. I have them now.

I've adopted the philosophy that if I'm going to fall – fall forward. That's kind of how it worked, and I'm pretty pleased with my weekend effort.

I have to make a road trip to Moscow, Idaho on Wednesday. I will drive back on Thursday. I'll check in when I can, so make sure to treat Lisa's radio guest well during my drive home. I'll weigh in on the comments as soon as possible.

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Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

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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Filed under Muse, Writing

Still Gearing Up.

I looked up from my iPad in the paranormal office. The sound of the mailman driving away caught my attention. My coffee cup was empty anyway, so I headed for the lobby, by way of the kitchen.

Lisa sorted the mail, and it looked like everything was for her and her radio show. It usually is.

I grabbed coffee and turned back toward my office. The sound of a heavy door closing caught my attention.

A large man in a rumpled shirt and tie climbed from an aged Cadillac sedan. You couldn’t miss the head of red hair.

“Oh, crap, it’s that guy. Hide!”

“What guy?” Lisa asked.

The front door opened and he stepped inside. “How ya doing? Name’s Herring, Red Herring.” He held out a hand.

I shook his hand, and it was sticky. I must have looked at my palm.

He held out a handkerchief. “Sorry about that. It’s those hot wings. I know I shouldn’t drive and eat at the same time, but you authors don’t exactly all live in the same neighborhood.”

“I know who you are, Red. You’ve been here every year since Lisa moved into the writing cabin.” I wiped my hand on my jeans, rather than risk his hankie.

“Oh yeah. Sorry I don’t remember you, but I remember the blonde. How ya doin?”

“I’m fine Mr. Herring.”

“Oh, so formal.” He pulled a tri-fold brochure from his hip pocket and handed it to Lisa. “Weren’t you the guy that bought the kit I named after myself?”

“The Red Herring. Yeah, you got me.”

“How’d that work out for you?”

“Actually, it was pretty fair. I used it in The Playground. It was okay, I suppose.”

“When in doubt, cover it with a lot of blood I always say.”

“Huh, there was some blood involved, now that you mention it.”

“Good man. Now, what I have today is the Red Herring Two-Point-Oh. It’s the latest and greatest in false leads–“

“Hold on, I thought I bought the latest and greatest last year.”

“It was, but time marches on. We made improvements. It has a help-line now, just like grandma’s Thanksgiving turkey.”

“Maybe it is a turkey.”

“I’ll tell you what, I’ll let you have the last one in my car for thirty percent off. You can’t beat that anywhere. In fact, I’m heading back to the home office after this stop, so I can probably cut you a deal on everything left in the car. “

“I’m sure you can. I think the discounted Red Herring Two-Point-Oh will be enough. Lisa, can you take care of this?”

“I can, but hang on a second.” Her eyes fluttered briefly. “We have pretty meager supplies on the shelves downstairs. You’re almost completely out of plot twists and turns.”

Red got out a pencil and notepad. He licked the tip of the pencil before he started writing.

Lisa continued, “I think you should consider a few of these double crosses too.”

“What for?”

“You still have that rough outline of the fraudster guy who starts wars for money. I think they sound perfect for that.”

“You know It’s a year or two in the future, right? Besides, I haven’t figured out if it’s a fantasy, a pirate story, or a pirate-fantasy story yet.”

Red butted in. “The double crosses have no expiration date. You can use one this fall, and one ten years from now and they’re still just as fresh as they are today. They come in a cute little commemorative six-pack container now too. I have six-packs, twelve packs, or cases.”

“Okay, we’ll take a case. Plus the newest version of the Red Herring, and two cases of twists and turns,” Lisa said.

“Hey, wait a minute–“

“Don’t be such a baby. We’re a long ways out here, and Red only stops by once per year. Besides, you used all our supplies up on short stories and micro-fiction. You know you’ll never stop writing those.”

“Atta girl.” Red offered Lisa a form. “If you fill this out, I’ll add you to my email list. I like to send a card at Christmas. I also offer free shipping for every order over fifty-bucks.”

I rolled my eyes as Lisa accepted Red’s form.

“Let me get the stuff out of the car. I’ll be right back.”

I waited until he was outside. “I don’t want his junk mail clogging up my email. I already get daily promos from PayPal, Zazzle, and everyone else. He’s going to be offering us Happily Ever Afters at Christmas, and love triangles at Valentine’s Day. You know that, right?”

Lisa held up the Tri-fold brochure. “How about these bloody murders at Halloween? There’s even an alien invasion kit.”


“Let me see that, those are kind of cool.” I accepted the brochure, then caught myself. “Look, you get rid of Red. I’m going to my office before I buy anything else.

***

Lisa stepped into the paranormal office and sat on the red, Victorian, picture-frame couch.


“Did you get the stuff stocked downstairs?”


“Oh yeah…”


“What?”


“Well, Red also had an unreliable narrator and a carton of sidekicks in the car. He gave me a deal, because he didn’t want to take them to the home office.”


“Uh-huh. He probably has a trailer full of the stuff he disconnected back at his hotel. Every author out there probably gets a discount for helping him out.”


“Could be, but hey! You’re well supplied for your next push, right?”


“Kind of explains why he doesn’t have an app.”


“Oh, he does. I downloaded it, and he takes PayPal too.”


“Let me guess: Makes all deliveries personally.”


“How did you know?”


“Just a good guesser. He’ll show up with your order and another trunk full of stuff to sell.”


“Seems pretty efficient.”


“Doesn’t it though.”

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Do I need a plan?

I have three days off, and two of those will let me get some things done. I intended to monkey with some micro-fiction tonight, but didn't get that far.

The best I could manage was to change my wallpaper again. I like the speed racers, but the white Bonneville Salt Flat, mixed with the white page of my blog was too much for me. I cropped some of the sky out, and used a picture of the Sawtooth Mountains. This one may not be perfect, but I'm content with it.

My wife and I watched The Passengers on television tonight. I thought it was a wonderful movie. A little romance, a little science fiction, a bit of Titanic disaster. Good film.

I have a critique I need to work through, and that will take about fifteen minutes. I need to work up a couple more shticks for Lisa Burton Radio and send them out. Then I have a backlog of interview requests, but I have to keep the line moving too.

Beyond that, I want to write three micro-fiction pieces for October.

My main distraction is wanting to start one of my novellas. A blogger/author friend told me she wrangled 5000 words today. That's a tremendous day, and it calls to me to get started. I need to resist the call.

I committed to two October promotions this week. I haven't gotten any additional instructions, but will need to write something for those eventually.

Besides, I'm behind on my reading. I have at least three, possibly four books I need to read. If I resist the writing call for a couple of weeks, I may get a couple of those checked off.

It's a tough call to resist.

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Not bad for a flex day

Like all flex days, this one started off with a task list last night. The day started with my alarm dog at about six o'clock.

Otto and Frankie play together all the time now. A big part of this involves him feeling much better. We took more detailed X-rays about two weeks ago, and had an additional expert look at them. He has several problems, but there was concern about one specific issue. It involves bone tissue that is degenerating and regrowing.

Our vet said the possibilities were bone cancer, and a bone infection. The cancer is almost unheard of with a dog Otto's age, and the infection is also extremely rare. He wanted to try an antibiotic in an abundance of caution, but thinks maybe the X-ray simply showed something that isn't there.

Here's the deal, though. After two days of antibiotic, Otto started feeling better. After a week, I have my boy back. He runs around, plays ball, and is acting like his old self. He still limps on occasion, but two weeks ago he was dragging himself across the floor by his front legs.

How the hell does anything get a bone infection?

They've been absolutely crazy today.

Oh, come on guys, you're making me look bad now. They were playing, I swear.

I wound up doing some maintenance on my part of the Story Empire blog, and finished that. About an hour ago, I found even more to do there, but still consider it a win.

I also explored and joined a new app a friend told me about. Something called Triberr, but don't ask me anything about it just yet.

I finished the edits on a 5500 word short story for an anthology, and delivered the edited version to them.

Edits on the Yak Guy Project are finished. I'm going to put it aside for a while to work on other projects. Quite honestly, I'm thinking about submitting it to a publisher. I haven't submitted anything for years, but maybe the hybrid author is the way to go. Right now, I just need time to think about it all.

I got another five star review today for the Second Experimental Notebook. I need to write a third one of these, and they make a great side project. Not just yet though.

First I need more micro-fiction for October. I intended to write one today, but never got that far. I might rough one out while my ballgame is on.

Ah, here you go. See all happy today.

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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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Filed under Muse

Been super busy

As a matter of fact, I could be mental. If not, I feel close and it woldn't take much to get me there. My paycheck job has kept me super busy. It's three weeks of craziness that seems to happen every year. It won't end until after next week.

I worked my personal slate clean ahead of time. I even burned some vacation time to get it all done. Now my personal life is falling behind again. That means blogging, reading, writing, and all the peripheral activities that go with it.

My blog stats are down, Lisa's Facebook site is stagnant, and my FB page isn't much better.

I have half of a Lisa Burton Radio post finished, but there is more to do. I have about a quarter of another one. I just need to find time to work on them. This will have to be a priority over the weekend. If you've been cursing me in private, I will get the projects up to date this weekend.

There is a cool Lisa interview scheduled tomorrow, so that will help me out a bit. Gotta love the scheduler option in WordPress. If I get everything done, I'll be two weeks ahead. That means Lisa needs more guests if you're of a mind.

One awesome beta reader turned The Enhanced League project around in about six hours. She made some outstanding comments and suggestions. I feel like a slacker right now. I want to dive right into the modifications, but it makes more sense to get a few more reports before I work through it all. It's a good enough reason to put it off for a while.

I still need to update my banner image, but at least I got the wallpaper changed. I really need to get back on social media too. My footprint doesn't amount to much over the last two weeks. I'm sure this can change, but I need to address it.

Everything will get done, I'm certain of it. I just have to make time for everything life throws at me for a few weeks. I kind of know how a ping pong ball feels right now. In my personal life, I like to work on projects in some kind of order. Lately everything is shuffled together, but I think progress is happening.

On the good side, early reports for The Enhanced League are positive. Actually, they're awesome. Lisa's show is scheduled for tomorrow, and the subsequent interviews are partially done. The Lisa promotional posters for Enhanced League are looking awesome too.

Harmony Kent has an awesome tool for us over at Story Empire today. This post kicked my Muse in the pants, and I got a cool new idea. I even wrote it down so I don't forget. (Bonus!) I was also invited to contribute to another anthology dedicated to time travel. I've never written a time travel story before, and I already have a cool creepy new idea for it. It just needs some serious daydreaming time before I start writing it.

This weekend I'll work on the Lisa interviews, maybe apply a bit of triage to my social media accounts, get that banner updated, schedule my next Story Empire post, and write a new one for Chris Graham. If I accomplish any more than that, it will be gravy.

It sounds like a plan. If I'm lucky, it will carry me through the 12th. On the 13th we get to pick up Frankie and bring her to her forever home. I'm pretty excited about that part.

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