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This is a safe place…

coffee with Barb

Welcome to our morning-after-Halloween coffee. I know. You were up all night sneaking the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pumpkins out of your kid’s candy bags and you deeply regret mixing them with the pumpkin spice vodka.

Don’t worry. Nobody here is wearing so much as a mask. Our coffee is pure and unflavored. Even the cream is just the way it came out of the cow. You’re in a safe place.

But it hasn’t been easy setting things up for today. I’ve been living in the UK for years now, so I had no idea that an insidious drug cult has taken over America. My first clue was when the plane landed in Atlanta. A group of young women screamed as they entered the terminal. No, really. Screamed. “PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES!” When my next flight landed in DC, several passengers menaced a Dunkin’ Donuts employee who was attempting to close down for the night. “Pumpkin spice donuts!” they demanded.

It’s everywhere. Hordes of Americans are apparently roaming the streets, shuffling along and chanting “PUMPKIN SPICEEEEEE”. I tried to escape into my sacred, secure place, the one establishment that makes every ex-pat American groan with homesickness. But the clerk in Trader Joes greeted me brightly with the information that “We carry over 47 pumpkin spice products!”

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My friend Phil At The Regular Guy tried to warn me with his cautionary blog post here

But, as I said, we’re safe here. Pull up a chair, and have a cup of coffee. My friend Janine just came in with a plate of her home-baked petit fours. I’ll just have a taste and…

Pumpkin spice petit fours

OMG! PUMPKIN SPICEEEEEE!!!!

Hey, it’s actually pretty good. Only now I have an uncontrollable urge to change into yoga pants, pin stuff to Pinterest, and buy all 47 things from Trader Joes… While I’m gone, please welcome Lisa Burton, my guest today. Lisa is Spokesmodel for amazing author CS Boyack, as well as star in several of his stories.

(After my reviews of two of Craig’s Halloween-perfect books, Will-O-The-Wisp and The Experimental Notebook, I asked him to join me for Sunday morning coffee to talk about how he develops such a wide range of memorable characters. But he reminded me that Lisa is now his official Spokesmodel, and that he’s no longer allowed out in public alone.)


Character development–from the expert

by Lisa Burton

–Official Spokesmodel (and character) for CS Boyack

Lisa says:

Hi, Barb. I’m so excited to be here today. Now that I’m the official spokesmodel for Craig’s blog I get to travel to some really fun places.

You wanted to know how Craig develops his characters. I’m not a writer, but I’ve watched Craig write all of his novels and short stories. He seems to have a trick or two. The big one is that he starts with nameless and faceless characters as he works on an idea.

C. S. Boyack says, “I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction. I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet. I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Author C. S. Boyack says, “I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.
I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.
I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

After the story starts taking form, he decides what kind of character is best to tell the story. They become male or female at this point. Then he works on where they start vs where they will end.

I’m not talking about solving the puzzle or a location here. The idea is maybe miss crabby pants becomes a wise and kind person. Maybe a recluse rejoins society but under his terms.

This all helps with the overall story. When Craig chose Patty Hall for Will O’ the Wisp, she had a mild handicap. That gave her a lot to overcome in her journey.

I’m another decent example. As a robot, I had zero backstory and no memories. To say I was a little bit naive is an understatement. I learned, retained, and improved as I went along. Nothing retains data like a computer, which I am, kind of.

At this point, Craig starts getting into the character’s head. Patty Hall was an outcast, and her handicap had to reflect in her choices and determination to succeed. And boy was she determined.

I based my early decisions on numbers and data. I even chose my first styles based upon the pattern of bricks, or the spirals in the shell of a chambered nautilus. The repeating pattern of polka dots still grabs me to this day.

Once style came into my life, it became part of my personality. Today I’m wearing a skirt with a circuit board pattern that I bought in my new short story. I live with the fun stuff, and the questionable choices I made too. This makes me even more human.

Craig tries to write our reactions in character too. His next novel has an antihero thug type character in it. He might wipe his bloody hands on the dog. If I were in the same situation, I’d have to find a restroom and wash.

One last thing, and then I’m supposed to give you a poster. Craig wants everyone to know that authors are not their characters. He writes a lot of different characters, and they all tend to see things differently. For example, if the Southern Dwarves found a cow they might think it was food. If I saw a cow, I’d probably give her a big old hug and a carrot or something.

Here’s your poster. I brought this one, because you wrote a wonderful review of Will O’ the Wisp. This is me, at Patty Hall’s roll-top desk. I’m playing with the Wisp just before putting it away. You can see my style here too. I love the checkerboard in my jacket and there are those polka dots again too.

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Thank you so much for inviting me over today. Now tell me truthfully, are there any cute shops around here?”


BARB: Thanks so much for stopping by Lisa. That was absolutely fascinating. Unfortunately, I’m not sure where the cute shops are. But I do happen to have these 47 items of the pumpkin spice persuasion from Trader Joes…


Contact and Buy Links for CS Boyack:

Goodreads | Twitter | Blog | Website


A speculative selection of micro-fiction and short stories. These were designed to be short reads for your commute, coffee break, and other times when readers are pressed for time. This book contains a bit of science fiction, some fantasy, and paranormal stories. I’m excited to see short fiction returning in popularity. I hope you will enjoy these stories as much as I did. Amazon US | Amazon UK

A speculative selection of micro-fiction and short stories. These were designed to be short reads for your commute, coffee break, and other times when readers are pressed for time. This book contains a bit of science fiction, some fantasy, and paranormal stories.
I’m excited to see short fiction returning in popularity. I hope you will enjoy these stories as much as I did.
Amazon US | Amazon UK

There is something evil up Bergamot Holler, and it’s been targeting the Hall family for generations. Patty Hall is fifteen years old. She loves stargazing, science fiction, and all things related to space exploration. This leaves her perfectly prepared for the wrong problem. Patty is afraid her mother will send her to a care facility if she tells her what she’s seen. If she doesn’t figure things out soon, she’s going to join her father in the Hall family cemetery plot. Patty has to come to grips with her own physical handicap, face the wilderness, and an ancient evil all alone if she’s going to survive. Will O’ the Wisp is suitable for young adults. It involves elements of suspense, and is set in the mid 1970s. Amazon US | Amazon UK

There is something evil up Bergamot Holler, and it’s been targeting the Hall family for generations.
Patty Hall is fifteen years old. She loves stargazing, science fiction, and all things related to space exploration. This leaves her perfectly prepared for the wrong problem.
Patty is afraid her mother will send her to a care facility if she tells her what she’s seen. If she doesn’t figure things out soon, she’s going to join her father in the Hall family cemetery plot.
Patty has to come to grips with her own physical handicap, face the wilderness, and an ancient evil all alone if she’s going to survive.
Will O’ the Wisp is suitable for young adults. It involves elements of suspense, and is set in the mid 1970s.
Amazon US | Amazon UK

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