The Year of the Rat (we’re clever, and 2020 is our year!)

Okay, cyberpunk is WAY out of my comfort zone.  I’ve been known to read a dystopian now and then, but when too much science is involved, I usually shy away.  BUT, I’m a fan of C. S. Boyack, and his latest book is…cyberpunk.  I’m reading it, and I’m enjoying it!  I’m still not sure I’m a true cyberpunk fan, but I sure am a C.S. Boyack fan.  This book is fun!  So I invited Craig here to tell you about it himself.

Thanks for inviting me over today, Judy. It’s an honor to be promoting my new book, Grinders, on your space.

I have something special for everyone today because Judy and I were both born in the Year of the Rat, according to the Chinese Zodiac. Every twelve years our year comes along, and 2020 is our year. Believe it or not, it has a tie to the story.

Grinders is a bit of cyberpunk set in a future version of San Francisco. One of the things San Francisco is famous for is its Chinatown. Before we get there, I need to return to the rats.

Grinders are people who perform illegal surgeries that are technologically related. It’s like plastic surgery, but involving microchips and radio antennae, that kind of thing. Grinder tech is illegal, and the surgeries are performed in basements and garages.

My antagonist is trying to research a new bit of grinder tech. Because this is illegal, he can’t just buy lab animals to experiment on. The authorities would trace the purchases back to him. He uses a shady street gang to make connections to various trappers who can provide him with research animals. Prior to the start of the story, he’s gone through a lot of various rodents, with limited success.

The lone success is in the form of a muskrat his young son named Daisy. She has fiber optic whiskers installed in her face. They light up and change colors to reflect her mood. Daisy was a stepping stone to Subject Forty-Three who is a white rat. Forty-Three is the only survivor of a string of rodents my antagonist tried to install functioning gills into. He can breathe underwater, but isn’t necessarily inclined to do so.

This poses some problems for the antagonist, because he needs the rats to infiltrate the sewer system to retrieve some abandoned intellectual property. Is Daisy too big to fit through all the tight spaces? Will Forty-Three be willing to complete the mission? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

That’s when I had one of those writer’s epiphanies. This is the Year of the Rat. The story is set in San Francisco. I have rat characters in the story. I was born in the Year of the Rat. With cyberpunk being all about flashy environments, the annual parade was the perfect place to have the major event of the story go down. Since I was on a roll by that time, it’s also Year of the Rat in the story, so there are people dressed as rat mascots in the parade, and I tried to take it way over the top.

This is a little behind the scenes peek at my writer’s brain. One other thing that I find cool for authors is Pinterest. I don’t promote there, but I started keeping a pin-board for each of my recent books and series. I’m a pretty visual guy and some of you might be, too. If you’d like some inspirational images for Grinders, you can check them out here. It will give you some of that cyberpunk esthetic, maybe a case study for some main characters, there are even muskrats and rats in a few images.

It’s time for me to drop a blurb and cover along with that all important purchase link. I hope I’ve inspired a few of you to check out this cool story. Thanks again to Judy for inviting me over today.

***

Blurb:

Jimi Cabot made one mistake as a starving college student. When she went to work for the San Francisco Police Department, it nearly cost her the job. The union stepped in and they had to reinstate her. They did so by assigning her to the duty nobody wants, Grinder Squad.

Grinders are people who use back room surgeries to enhance their bodies with computer chips, and various kinds of hardware. Jimi is sure that if she can just bust one grind shop, it will be her ticket back.

Paired with veteran cop, she soon learns that Grinder Squad is a cash-cow for the department. They are nothing more than glorified patrol cops, and generally get the worst assignments.

Matchless is the most wanted grinder of all time. He disappeared years ago, leaving only the evidence of those he enhanced during his career. With these pieces, Jimi picks up the cold trail to try working her way back to more respectable duty.

Grinders is a cyberpunk story set in a world where global warming has eroded coastlines, and society has solved many of our current problems by replacing them with new ones. There are cyber shut-ins, cyber-currency skimming schemes, and more in this futuristic tale.

This book also takes the opportunity to poke a stick at current issues that seem to have lasted into the future. Entitled people, helicopter moms, overzealous homeowner associations, and lack of decent jobs are all present. Never preachy, these issues make up the day to day work of a patrol officer.

I hope you enjoy Grinders as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.

Purchase link: http://mybook.to/Grinders

cover for Grinders, C.S. Boyack

You can contact Craig at the following locations:

Blog My Novels  Twitter Goodreads Facebook Pinterest BookBub

Some Writers Have a Little Bit Too Much Fun

I already told you about my good blog friend, C. S. Boyack’s new book, VIRAL BLUES.  But today, Craig has come to tell you about it himself, and I’m so glad to have him!  When Craig lets his imagination go, watch out, world!  Here’s Craig:

Hi, everyone. Craig here to talk about my latest book, Viral Blues. This one is just in time for your Halloween reading, but it isn’t horror. It’s more a light-hearted romp. (Some gore, so think of it like dark humor.)

I always intended this to be a sequel for The Hat, the book I pushed for last Halloween. This series is without an overarching plot, so you ought to be able to pick up any of them and fare just fine. No prerequisite books required.

Then I went a little bit crazy, but crazy is good sometimes. It dawned on me that many of my previous characters could dwell in the same world. Some of them were pretty popular, and readers requested sequels from them, too.

It’s with this thought that Viral Blues earned a storyboard. All the pieces were in place for a great team-up, which seems to be all the rage at the movies lately, too.

Dr. Gina Greybill, and her assistant, Mohan Gupta, used their Host Program to gather a special group of individuals to face a pestilence of massive proportions. You may remember them from The Playground.

They invited Lizzie and The Hat, Lisa Burton, Jason Fogg, and – by accident – Clovis from some of my previous books. Together they work to uncover whoever is tampering with the world’s vaccine supply.

This posed my first quandary, because I have a mix of science fiction, paranormal, and regular people here. Ultimately, it had to be a paranormal story, with Sci-fi sprinkles on top.

I also had to decide who to focus on for the story. Since this was always going to be the sequel for The Hat, Lizzie and The Hat walk us in, and close it out. That part was easy. It also built a much needed fence for me. I would follow the format of The Hat, and keep everything in third person. (The Jason Fogg stories were in first person, so I toyed with the idea of keeping his sections that way, but it didn’t work well.)

Character popularity established that Lisa Burton and Clovis would get about equal time with Lizzie and The Hat.

This isn’t to say that Gina, Gupta, and Jason didn’t have their fans, they did. Readers won’t be disappointed either, but these characters help bind the story together with their special skills. Even Marvel had to do some of this. Iron Man gets more time than, say, Hawkeye.

One benefit is that some of my characters are a little over the top. It might just be me, but I think they’re lovable in small doses. By spreading the spotlight around, readers get a nice mix of their personalities and skills, without it being too much.

Then I went a little more crazy, and included even more characters. Clovis got there, because Gina invited Justine, the voodoo practitioner who is his girlfriend. I have cameos from other stories, but they’re more like Easter Eggs than any main focus. There is no requirement to read these tales first, but if you have, you might recognize a bit here and there.

To keep the crazy train rolling, I even included a secret chapter. It’s after the back-of-book material in a nod to pop-culture and some of the superhero films.

I don’t mind telling you, this story was a challenge. It came out great, and in my opinion, people who try it are going to have a good time.

Mobsters, devils, zombies, the CDC, what’s not to love. Hopefully, your fans will check it out for their Halloween reading, and thanks for having me over.

 

***

 

Someone knows about the hat. The creature from another dimension that helps Lizzie fight against the creatures of darkness.

They are summoned to a cryptic meeting with a secret society, where they meet other people with enhanced skills. It turns out someone, or something, has been tampering with the world’s vaccine supply. The goal doesn’t appear to be political or financial, but biblical pestilence.

Can this group of loners come together in time to make a difference when even the proper authorities are obstacles?

Check out Viral Blues, for your dose of paranormal adventure, with a strong sample of dark humor. And in recent superhero style, don’t miss the secret last chapter after the back material.

THANKS SO MUCH TO CRAIG FOR VISITING MY PAGE TODAY!  I LOVE HIS WRITING.  HOPE YOU CHECK OUT HIS BOOK.

viral-blues by c.s. boyack cover

This is the purchase link: Viral Blues: http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B07XVTSYYV

You can find Craig on any of these sites:

Blog My Novels  Twitter Goodreads Facebook Pinterest BookBub

C S Boyack's bio box

 

…I’ll Do It…My Way

I can hear Frank Sinatra as I type those words.  And I should have listened to him.  He was right.

I’ve been reading a lot of especially good advice on how to organize your book and write lately.  And some of it really sounded good to me.  So good that I decided to make up sheets for scenes in my next Jazzi novel and try to create a sort of massive storyboard.  C.S. Boyack wrote a great article on how he uses them.  And I got so excited!  I could picture in my mind how each scene would fit in a giant jigsaw puzzle of other scenes and I could move the scenes around and add scenes and who knows what else to create a brilliant flow in my book.

C.S. Boyack’s posts:  https://donmassenzio.wordpress.com/2019/04/12/the-2019-interview-series-featuring-c-s-boyack/  and  https://storyempire.com/2018/12/14/and-now-for-something-completely-different/

And the team at Story Empire have been writing great posts about how to build a Story Bible with plenty of other advice about multiple POVs, settings, and story structure:  https://storyempire.com/blog/   Staci Troilo even included charts for readers to download and use.

Every single bit of advice is good.  And I love learning how other writers work.  And I tried…I really did…. to write out scene sheets and hit beginning hooks, inciting incidents, pinch points, and more.  And it all helped me think of new scenes and ideas for Jazzi 5.  Which is good.  But when push came to shove, for me to “see” the book in my head, I’m sitting at my computer, writing out plot points like I’ve always done.  Sigh.

It’s possible that I’m too set in my ways.  It’s possible you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  (And if my friend Carl reads this, no comments!)  Or it’s possible that we each find what works for us and we’re comfortable with, and we should remember that if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.  Even though I do like to try new things once in a while.

Way back in my beginning writing days, I tried to develop my book’s characters by using the Goal/Motivation/Conflict charts.  But it never really worked for me.  It didn’t give me enough to “see” and “hear” my characters.  Then I tried filling out an extensive questionnaire I saw online for each one.  That didn’t work for me either.  “I had so much information, it bogged me down.  That’s when I went to a workshop given by Shirley Jump and she showed us her character wheels.  Those worked for me.  They gave me enough, but not too much.  A friend tried them, and they failed her miserably.  What works for one writer doesn’t always work for another.  That’s why all a writer can do is share what she knows and what she’s stumbled on that works for her.

When a writer shares something near and dear, it’s because it’s a hard won technique or truth that she’s probably learned the hard way.  But that doesn’t mean it will work for you.  And what have I learned?  I’ve learned to listen to writers whom I respect and to consider their advice.  And to roll all that advice into something I can use by trying this and that until I find what fits.  I’ve learned to push myself once in a while to try to get better, because a comfortable groove can become a rut.  I’ve learned that I can admire other peoples’ prose and voice and style, but I have to stay true to myself.  I’ve learned that sometimes the words come easy, and sometimes the words come hard, but I do better if I plop my fanny in a chair and write every weekday that I possibly can.

So, learn as much as you can, but trust yourself and your own voice.  And happy writing!

 

 

 

October writing

In case anyone here was following my mystery, A Baker’s Dozen, written chapter by chapter on my webpage, I put up the last chapter today.

Next week, I want to start writing an experimental story a week to put up.  I like to read C. S. Boyack’s blog, and he’s posting a story once a week for October on his blog.  He’s a darned good writer.  So you might want to check them out.    https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2018/10/02/macabre-macaroni/

Teri Polen is doing a special October blog, too, Bad Moon Rising, interviewing authors about the supernatural and paranormal.   And yes, ouija boards scare me.  https://teripolen.com/2018/10/03/badmoonrising-cusp-of-night-by-mae-clair-supernatural-suspense/   If you scroll down, you’ll see more authors’ answers, including Staci Troilo’s.

But a while ago, Craig (C. S. Boyack) wrote a blog for Story Empire about writing out of your comfort zone, and he asked what authors would write if they decided to let their fingers wander out of their usual writing zone.  https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2018/08/31/friday-group-post-questing-beasts/

I put down short stories I’d like to try:  an alternate history, magic realism (if I can ever nail what I really think it is–but I have an idea), something creepy, and the genre I almost ALWAYS fail at–horror.  I’d like to write the scariest, baddest short story I’ve ever written.  Which might still be too upbeat, knowing me.  Aargh!

Anyway, I hope you have a perfectly wonderful time writing this month.  And if black cats and witches wander onto your pages, so much the better:)