Hello, Friend!

I’ve never met C.S. Boyack, but we connected on the Story Empire site, and I now think of him as a friend. Since I like him so much, I’ve read some of his books and left reviews for them. He’s not my usual read, and maybe that’s why I enjoy his work so much. Speculative fiction’s unusual for me with lots of flair and imagination. I didn’t start Lizzie and the Hat at the beginning of the series, but once I started reading it, I’ve read every new one that’s come out. They’re short and fun. My absolute favorite book he’s written is still Serang, but he knows that:) I really enjoyed the Lanternfish series. For a quick read over a weekend, though, it’s hard to beat Lizzie. And it just so happens, Craig just published a brand new book in the series, so I invited him here to tell you about it. Take it away, Craig!

Thanks for lending me your space today, Judy. You know Entertaining Stories is always available when you need a place to share.

I’m here to talk about my newest book, but you can get most of what you need from the blurb and cover. I like to keep each post original, and want to talk about some of the gyrations in writing an ongoing series.

Years ago a few friends twisted my arm into trying series work. All of my efforts had been solo titles up to that point. I decided if I was doing it, I wanted to try one of each. I wrote and published a classic trilogy, which is different than The Hat Series. The Hat is what we’re talking about today.

I wanted this series to consist of multiple volumes involving the same setting and main characters, and to have each story stand-alone. I don’t want anyone to shy away because they haven’t read the entire series. There is no prerequisite reading here.

This kind of series poses some problems that it are worth keeping in mind. I can have smaller character arcs, but no happily ever after type endings. I need to preserve Lizzie and the hat for future adventures. This means Lizzie can’t really age, or even raise a family to some degree. I’m sure there’s a way, but taking the kids to the sitter before going out monster hunting just doesn’t click in my mind.

Each volume needs to have its own satisfying conclusion, but life has to go on. It’s different than a closed loop series. There’s no dancing with the Ewoks and hanging out with Force ghosts in a series like this. It’s a fun way to write, and I like the way it challenges me.

I don’t have any shortage of ideas for this series and see it going on for a long time. It’s the Halloween season, and Lizzie and the hat are back with a new adventure. Grab a pumpkin beer and settle in for an afternoon of dark humor, monsters, and fun.

Cover Blurb:

Something evil is after the hat. The ageless enemies have battled many times, but this time Lizzie is wearing the hat. She’s also up against a ticking clock, in that if she can’t find the maker of her new friend’s medicine he will die.

The Rambler has kidnapped the only witch capable of making Ray’s medicine in an attempt to make the hat sloppy in his efforts. He’s also flooded the streets with deadly minions to impede any progress our heroes might make.

As if that weren’t enough, Lizzie is facing more of life’s struggles, both financially and mechanically. This all goes down in the middle of a huge flood event that she’s ill equipped to handle.

Join Lizzie and the hat as they battle the elements, the paranormal, and a being of pure evil. Lizzie might be battling some personal demons along the way as she and Ray grow closer.

Get your copy here: https://mybook.to/TheMidnightRambler

Craig Boyack
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Packing my Bags

I’m on a cyber journey to C.S. Boyack’s blog today. He invited me as a guest to promote my latest, Posed In Death. I’ve mentioned Craig off and on here. He writes speculative fiction I enjoy, especially his Lanternfish trilogy with Serang, a character who will stay with me a long time. At his place, I’m talking about why I decided to write something darker than a cozy. I mean, it’s not like I needed to start another series. I already have three mystery series I like to write, but…

I meant to get up earlier to share my guest post and give it a roaring start:) But our daughter stays at our place when she works as a traveling nurse in town. I don’t usually hear her come home, but she got off at 3:30 and walked in the door at 4:00 but couldn’t sleep. She was still awake at 7:00 and I heard her moving around in the kitchen so got up to check on her. (I know. She’s in her forties, but old habits die hard). Anyway, . two of her patients were sent to hospice last night (not Covid), and it made it hard for her to relax. I’m glad I got up. After she talked it out, she could go to sleep. I went back to bed, too. One of the joys of retirement:) So I got a late start for the day, but life happens. And I woke up to the fun of being Craig’s guest. Yay! I hope you check out his site and my guest post:

Short Stories

I wrote a blog about noir and got enough comments to read and answer that they made me think. A dangerous thing for me:) At least, that’s what my husband tells me. He says my brain stays switched on way more than normal. LOL. Maybe a common writing complaint? At least for spouses… Anyway, when I woke up in the wee hours of the morning, I had most of a noir type story plotted out in my mind.

I didn’t have time to write it right now. I’m just starting the new Jazzi and Ansel, and I don’t write noir, so I pushed it away. But it kept coming back, so I wrote down all the notes I could remember on Scapple to look at another day. Which I worried would come sooner than I expected because the story’s sort of making a pest of itself. And I was right. This last weekend, I wrote the darn thing just to have some peace.

I like short stories. I enjoy writing them. And at the moment, Staci Troilo is trying to write one a week for an eight week challenge. The site offers a prompt you have to use. You can check Staci’s stories out here: https://stacitroilo.wordpress.com/2021/08/09/bunch-of-bull/#comments

And that made me think that October will be here before we realize it, and October was MADE for short stories. C.S. Boyack wrote a short story once a week for his blog in October one year. Darn good stories, too. Horror, thriller, weird, and dark abound during Halloween month. My friend, Kathleen Palm, has written a story for the Midnight Society every year for 7 years, and she’s going for it again. I love her idea of creepy, but if you think you have a story in you, here’s the information if you want to give it a try. https://www.midnightsocietytales.com/2021/

If you DO write horror, etc., you might want to try out Teri Polen’s October promotions in Bad Moon Rising: https://teripolen.com/2021/08/06/calling-horror-thriller-and-paranormal-indieauthors-for-badmoonrising

And while I’m at it, I might as well do a shout-out for a blog friend of mine, Mary Angela, whose latest cozy is set at Halloween, and a witch is the murder victim:

Come to think of it, my 5th cozy, The Body From the Past, takes place at Halloween, too.
There! I’ve given you an idea of where to send a Halloween story if you write one AND where to find Halloween stories if you want to read some…and I’ve given you plenty of time to get ready.

I have favorite movies I like to watch in October: Hocus Pocus, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow with Johnny Depp, The 13th Warrior with Antonio Banderas, and Van Helsing with Hugh Jackson. What about you? Any movies you watch to put you in the mood? Books or short stories? Hope you have plenty of treats and no tricks.

An October Read

I want to welcome C.S. Boyack back to my blog. I love having him here. He’s a friend and fellow writer, and I’m a fan. This time, he’s promoting his latest book perfect for October reading, THE BALLAD OF MRS. MOLONY. This is the third book in his Lizzie and the Hat series, but it can easily stand on its own. I’ve downloaded it, and it’s next on my TBR list. I visit Craig’s blog many times, and he’s a contributor to Story Empire, offering valuable tips on all things writing. Please show him some love while he’s here. And with that, I’ll let Craig take it from here:

Thank you so much for having me over, Judi. We’ve all had a good time on this tour, and the Ballad of Mrs. Molony is still only 99¢ for a limited time. I’ll put it at its regular price sometime in early November. Don’t miss out on this fun bit of Halloween reading at the introductory price. I’ll let the blurb sell the story at the end.

I like to make all my tour posts unique, and our topic today is the evolution of the series. Specifically, recurring characters.

As the series extends, it occurred to me that Lizzie and the hat don’t operate in a vacuum. They are going to revisit some locations and come across some people more than others.

In the first story, The Hat, it was all about getting acquainted and forging the bond they have. I mentioned some people from Lizzie’s life, but we didn’t really get to meet them. There’s Mike with the landscaping company, along with Dave & Sandi. All of them own places Lizzie works for. It was functional, because of the focus of that specific story.

Viral Blues was the second story, and because these are supposed to be campy and silly, I wrote my version of a comic book team up adventure. The participants all appeared in my previous books. It took some doing, but you can read this one without having ever read any of the other stories.

Then came The Ballad of Mrs. Molony, the current story. It dawned on me that Lizzie is going to need some recurring characters to take this much further.

Our heroes have a small cover band, and I fleshed that out in Viral Blues. These characters give some of the continuity I’m looking for, but they have nothing to do with the paranormal world. They wouldn’t even understand it. That leaves me with Evelyn, the witch from The Hat.

I needed some recurring characters that fit into the paranormal side of these stories. Welcome Kevin Mugford. He’s a vampire, and has to be the crappiest vamp in history. He has gnarly teeth to the point of deformity, and a speech impediment to go along with it. In Mrs. Molony, he’s a frequent target of the hat’s barbs. He might even be more trouble than he’s worth.

I figured if The Rockford Files could have Angel Martin, maybe Lizzie and the hat could have their own street informant. I probably won’t drop him in every book, but he’s going to stick around.

Since I decided to pull characters from other books, I decided why stop now? Once upon a time, I wrote a book called Will O’ the Wisp. One of the supporting characters was Pete Rogers. Pete earned a short story in one of my collections called Night Bump Radio. I brought Pete into this series with his late night radio show. Callers dial in to tell Pete what goes bump in their night. Turns out it’s Lizzie and the hat, who they’ve given a terrible nickname. This helps me add a bit of tension and keeps them looking over their shoulders. I intend to make this a regular part of the series.

I have more recurring characters planned for future stories. The trick is to keep the focus on Lizzie and the hat. These won’t be regular characters, but recurring. Think Inspectors Lestrade and Gregson from the Sherlock Holmes stories.

The even bigger trick is to keep writing the books in such a way that people can read them out of order without feeling lost. I’m determined to do this. I don’t want someone to discover these stories years from now and feel like they can’t pick up any volume they’re interested in because it’s part of a series.

I can afford a tiny little intro for Kevin whenever he appears and not lose the long term readers. They might appreciate a reminder if it’s been a while.

One example happened in Viral Blues. Lisa Burton, the robot girl, helped Lizzie out with some suitable outfits for her nocturnal monster hunting activities. The fact that Lizzie is wearing some of these things in Mrs. Molony doesn’t leave new readers feeling lost.

I’ve rambled long enough, and I promised you a cover and blurb to get you excited about the new story. I’ll also throw out a purchase link and some links for the previous stories. Hope you’ll give The Hat Series a chance for your Halloween reading.


Blurb: Lizzie and the hat are back, and this time they’re chasing vampires across a subculture of America. A pair of rodeo cowboys are holding a woman captive to use like a milk cow since they joined the undead.

The person who put them onto the trail is also a vampire, but he has to be the worst vampire in history. Is he really that pitiful, or is he setting a trap for our heroes? Does the woman even exist? Can Lizzie and the hat find her before she also takes up blood sucking?

Follow Lizzie and the hat as they use their cover band to stalk vamps across the country music scene.

Purchase your copy here: The Ballad of Mrs. Molony

Other stories in the series are:

The Hat

Viral Blues

Image preview

You can contact Craig at the following locations:

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Thanks so much for stopping by, Craig. I enjoy reading (and writing) series. When I like characters, it’s fun to see them in more stories. I’m excited about vampires and monster hunters for Halloween reading! Along with your ever present dose of humor. Have a great October!

How about a little humor?

C.S. Boyack wrote a short mystery for MURDER THEY WROTE that tickled my funny bone at the same time it had a great murder plot. I fell in love with his Jason Fogg and wanted to know more about him. So he agreed to a Q & A to satisfy my curiosity. Please welcome Craig to Mystery Musings:

I was thrilled for the invitation to submit to this anthology. I feel like I’m standing among giants here, and am truly honored.

When Judy asked me to participate, I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. I’ve included some murders in my fiction, so I’m no stranger. Murder kind of has its own genres, but it also shows up in speculative fiction, like I write. My request was for a piece of science fiction to include in the book.

I was right in the middle of drafting two different novels, but anthologies have deadlines. I needed to restructure a few things, and needed a bit of luck. Luck showed up in the form of Jason Fogg, a character I have a long history with.

I think the idea of these author interviews are wonderful, and am excited to participate in these, too. I’ll let you learn more about Jason through Judy’s questions.

1.  You wrote a speculative fiction story for the anthology MURDER THEY WROTE.  Jason Fogg is your detective.  You’ve written other stories featuring him, haven’t you?  Would you tell us about them?

Sure. Jason started off as a supporting character, with a different name, in an old trunk novel of mine. There’s a reason it’s locked away in a trunk, but the character stuck with me. I finally decided to include his origin tale in a collection of short stories called, The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack.

Since he proved popular, I gave him a second story in The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II.

I always intended to keep these collections going, but haven’t had the time. If I ever get around to a third volume, Jason will get a place in it.

Then I came up with this almost paranormal superhero story. It proved to be my most popular work. A big part of its appeal is the corniness that went into it. I decided to turn this into a series. At about that time, theaters were bursting at the seams with superhero team-up adventures.

It seemed like a tongue-in-cheek way to do the same thing, but with the corniness of my series. My paranormal avenger needed some other characters to team up with, and Jason Fogg was first in line. If anyone is interested, that one is called Viral Blues.

2.  I loved the relationship between Jason and Riley.  His wife?  I really liked her.  Did he meet her in a former story?  You gave a little of her background.  Is there more?

Jason started out life as a bit of a pervert, to be honest. He misused his special abilities early on, but came to find a higher purpose. The target was always Riley, a cute redhead who worked at a chowder house Jason frequented along the Oregon coast.

They’ve developed a relationship across the stories, and even got married along the way. Riley probably gets more page time in Murder They Wrote than any other story so far.

3.  Jason and Riley were gifted a house in this story.  How did that happen?  And why did you choose Seattle as the setting for From the Files of Jason Fogg?

With Jason popping up from time to time, he’s gained fans along the way. It’s important to keep some continuity to his bigger story. Believe me, you can jump right into Murder They Wrote and not miss a thing. The Seattle house is a nod to his longer term fans.

The nutshell version is that the secret society all my heroes were working for in Viral Blues paid the heroes off in different ways. The society occasionally cleans up haunted houses, and uses them to recruit observers into their programs. A couple of newlyweds needed a house.

Jason’s special abilities almost require him to live in a humid environment. Moving from the Oregon Coast to the Seattle area seemed to work, and it’s a bigger city for him to find more trouble in, should he get the call again some day.

4.  How did Jason come by his special talents? 

Maybe we should have asked this one first, but here’s the deal. Jason has the ability to dissolve into fog and reconstitute at will. He can fly along in his cloud form, but not like Superman or anything. He’s a cloud, so it’s kind of deliberate and slow. It’s also handy for slipping through keyholes and window screens as he’s trying to solve a mystery.

Jason was on a crew that strung high-tension powerlines from the hydroelectric dams in Oregon. It was just before dawn on a night the fog was so thick you couldn’t see a thing on the ground. It was clear up on the poles, and the fog spread like a blanket beneath him when he started his shift.

That was when a bit of NASA debris decided to crash back to Earth. There was a growth on the outside, and it puffed up like dough in a hot oven during re-entry. This debris clipped the power line a few miles from him, and a charge travelled along the wire.

Jason was instantly evaporated and dissolved into the fog bank below him.

5.  I really enjoyed the humor in your story.  A few of the drawbacks of being Jason Fogg made me chuckle.  Can you share them?

I don’t like superheroes that are too super. I’m down for special abilities all day long, but not to the point that my heroes don’t have to try.

When Jason fogs out, it’s just him. No clothes, no hair products, not even after shave. I never did buy the heroes who also turn their clothing invisible and such. So Jason has a bit of a problem when it’s time to reform.

He has to reform to accomplish much of anything. He can’t even turn pages without reforming. About the only thing he can do is fog glass and leave messages. Other than that, he has to take physical form to do anything.

He’s become a regular at Goodwill and keeps a stockpile of clothing he can plant nearby the places he’s working.

I admit to turning more to humor in the last few years. I believe even the most serious story can benefit from a light moment, but you have to keep that tension on simmer. Jason’s “limitations” give me the opportunity to have a laugh or two at his expense sometimes.

Would you share your media links with us? Anything else you’d like us to know?  And thanks for visiting my blog.

I’m thrilled for the invitation, and hope the interview nudges a few people to give Murder They Wrote a chance.

You can contact Craig at the following locations:

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