Story Empire

Fantasy Authors Unplugged: The Hat by C. S. Boyack

Fantasy Authors Unplugged is back and I hope there will be more posts for the feature soon. Today, fellow Story Empire contributor, C. S. Boyack pays a visit with his latest book, The Hat, in the spotlight. I’m pleased to have Craig back today…

Thanks for having me over again, P. H. It’s been a while now.

You’ve written a wide range of books from anthologies to novels. How do you approach a story and decide what the length will be?

I have a hard time with this one. Like most authors, I started out writing tomes that were huge. As I learned to me more efficient with my words, I often have a hard time making word count these days.

I still want specific projects at certain parameters though. The Hat was designed to be a novella, because there is a market I want to approach. I would have liked another 5000 words or so, but I don’t want it to bog down at all. The format doesn’t allow for a lot of navel gazing by the characters.

I really like the approach of making stories as long as they need to be. This works well with short stories and micro-fiction. With the longer work, some planning is required. Even knowing that, many of my novels are on the short side these days.

What’s the inspiration for The Hat?

It’s kind of funny, because most people think they know. I can tell you it wasn’t the Sorting Hat. It was actually one verse from a popular Christmas song. How it turned into a paranormal romp is beyond me, but we can blame my imagination for that.

What’s the storyline for The Hat?

It involves a twenty-one year old woman, Lizzie, who dropped out of college based upon circumstances beyond her control. She’s really trying hard to make ends meet, when she comes into possession of her grandfather’s old hat.

Turns out the hat is actually a creature from another dimension, and Grandpa had a bit of a secret history. The hat has been in Lizzie’s family for several thousand years, and takes up with one family member every generation.

The two of them have to combine their knowledge, skills, and abilities to rescue some babies from some human traffickers.

Did you base the characters on any real people or personalities?

I did not. I like to let my characters blossom on the page, and this is exactly what happened with The Hat. I knew who they were, what they had to do, and made a storyboard to hit all the beats. Character just showed up all on its own, and I’m glad it did. It makes the story so much more fun.

Do you plan to write more about The Hat?

Not specifically, but I’m open to the idea. I have a few other projects that I want to address, but if I keep it novella length, I believe Lizzie and the hat have more stories in them. More on this down the page.

What other projects do you have in the works?

Ugh. I’m working on a second novella currently that will be more of a suspense/horror thing. I also have partial outlines for several novels. One of which will mark a return to science fiction for me. It just needs a few more situations and ideas to make it workable. There is also one that started off as a fantasy, but seems determined to become more of a flintlock-fantasy, or even a pirate story.

I’ve learned to always have a couple of storyboards working. I also have a long list of either short stories or micro-fiction with an eye toward a third Experimental Notebook.

Lisa Burton is a great character you’ve leveraged for your marketing. Do you ever foresee her in another novel? Is she interested in another novel?

Lisa is always interested in another novel. I keep putting her off by telling her it ends with her in a car crusher. Having said that, I actually have a decent idea for one. I should mention that Lisa is a concept model robot, and that’s why the car crusher threat.

It would be a coming together of many of my former characters, including Lizzie and the hat. Lisa would be one of the characters in this story. They come together under the guise of the secret society that Dr. Gina Greybill heads up in my novel The Playground.

I need to find a theologian who knows something about alternate bibles before I can move ahead with it. I’m certain I saw a quote somewhere, but it was not King James Version.

Lisa works these days as my personal assistant, and is the spokesmodel for my writing career. As such, she has posters for every publication. Your readers might enjoy this one from The Hat.

When you launch a book, what feelings do you normally have?

Honestly? I freak the hell out every single time. That long wait to hear back from Amazon is a killer. I’ve learned to do a bunch of advance work for my releases these days to help me tone it down.

I pre-write several blog tour posts, email those who either wanted to help or who I might target with the release data. This leaves me with a bit of custom writing for others, and this interview is a good example of one of those.

What do you think would happen if Lisa Burton ever wore the Hat?

Not much, and they’d both probably resent the request. The hat has standards, and only helps Lizzie’s family.

Lisa is not human, so the hat would not be able to meld with her like he can with Lizzie. He’s also not internet savvy, while Lisa is a walking and talking computer.

Thanks for having me over today, and I hope your readers will enjoy The Hat. It’s priced at 99¢, and will take about one afternoon to read.


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.


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Thanks to Craig for stopping over for the interview. I’ve already enjoyed The Hat and highly recommend it. Just use the link above or the cover to find out more about the book. If you’re interested in Lisa Burton, you can find her on her weekly show over at Craig’s blog – here’s a link to her interview of one of my characters from The Bow of Hart Saga.


The Year That Was & The New Year to Come!

I’ve been sick for the last several days so I haven’t posted much during that time. I thought I’d go ahead and share a review 2017 and a look forward to 2018.

The year started well enough with The Bow of Destiny being named the 2016 Book of the Year by Fantasia Reviews. What a wonderful surprise that was, especially with my single novel. I was more determined than ever to publish the next book, An Arrow Against the Wind. I was also invited to join Story Empire which proved to be a lot of fun and a privilege to work with all the authors on that ongoing project.

But little did I know what the year had in store for me. By February 1st I was caught in a work-force reduction with my employer and found myself out of work. I thought it would be no trouble but I started work in earnest to complete An Arrow Against the Wind as soon as possible while I was out of work.

The job search stretched much further than I expected but I was highly motivated and released the book in late April. After that, I figured, as long as I still don’t have a job, I’ll work on the next one and see how far I get. So, I began work on The White Arrow – from scratch. Somehow, the job search just kept going but I finished the third book and released it in early October.

That made for a busy and exhausting writing year with a lot of stress about the job loss. Because of all the pressure to publish two books this year, I never had the time I needed to really set them up with releases that I felt good about. Money was limited and time was short so I made do with what I could do and still saw pretty good sales.

During all that, I ended up signing with a literary agent and started two new books, each the first book of a new series. Those two books are well underway and being pitched to publishers. I was thrilled to work with an agent and I’ve seen more writing opportunities as a result than I ever though possible.

This end of the year has rolled around much faster than I anticipated but it looks like I’ll be going back to work in just a few weeks (finally, though it’s temporary contract)! That will change my writing schedule but I’ll keep up the work on the books I’ve started and plan on one or two more. But The Bow of Hart Saga has been completed and I am moving onto new writing projects.

I have no idea what 2018 will bring considering how 2017 started. An Arrow Against the Wind has been nominated as Book of the Year again so it could very well start the year off very well. Some of my writing opportunities through my agent could come through or not. My new contract job might last all year or just a few months. After last year, I make no predictions about what will happen, nor do I place any big expectations on what I believe will happen.

I’m rolling up my sleeves to market the series more effectively as soon as possible. With more income, I’d like to release all the three of the novels in print and there might be opportunity with audio too. Otherwise, I’ll keep up the work on my new projects and see how far I get with them, hoping to release at least one book during the year. I’ll announce my print or audio plans as those develop as well as when I expect to publish anything new. Stay tuned, it should be an interesting ride if nothing else. I’ll soon share about some lessons learned in 2017 and finally get to a post about on of the settings for An Arrow Against the Wind. Until the, I hope everyone has had a Merry Christmas will have a Happy New Year! I’d also like to thank everyone who has read the books this year, I would be this far along without all the fans!

5 Signs You’ve Gone Too Far With Your Fantasy Novel

Today, I share 5 signs you may have gone too far with your current fantasy novel.

Fiction writing requires a bit of immersion into you story. Fantasy requires an author put on a squirrel suit and jump in for a deeper excursion to truly get the experience necessary for bringing readers along for an entertaining ride. Here are 5 ways to know you’ve gone too far but I can’t tell you how to get back – that’s your own problem… However, I can offer a few suggestions that might help you re-gain perspective:

  1. One of your characters actually threatens you. Fantasy worlds are by their very nature dangerous, places that are unstable in any number of ways. That doesn’t even cover the places your characters travel and visit right through any number of dangerous scenes and settings. The nerves or your characters can easily get frayed and they may turn on you with whatever weapon they have at hand (and fantasy characters often have a weapon at hand). If you are in a bar or tavern, offer them a drink. If that fails, my advice is back away slowly, maybe with an apology for crowding them, and just shift to another scene. Maybe things will be a little less tense in another scene or the character will be too busy to notice you.
  2. You go drinking with your characters, have such a great time you wake up dressed like one of them and find you’ve been given a prized item that’s integral to the story. No, you can’t keep that gift so find a way to politely give it back and try not to go that deep with your characters again. It just gets awkward for you, the characters and the people around you in real life. Honestly, that’s getting a little off-balance.
  3. You go running and feel like you’re in that scene where there’s a devasting retreat. Take a deep breath, it’s ok, that’s just in the book. This is just exercise and there is no one chasing you with a battle-ax to grind. It’s just running. But it is good to keep in shape just in case you do need to retreat, right?
  4. You start speaking one of the languages used in your book. This is getting pretty serious since no one around you understands what you are saying. If you really keep going that deeply into the book, no one will be able to read it in that language. You might try getting out of your writing sphere and re-join the real world, try talking to someone about something trivial. Maybe watch some day-time TV – maybe.
  5. Maniacal laughter erupts from your lips as you near the end and kill a few beloved characters. Just back away from the computer, go do something else. It’s just a book. Deep breath. No, don’t go play that video game. Go to the museum or something. Just remember, you are not the villain here.

Notice: This is all tongue and cheek except my character threatening me since one of them is based on my dogs. However, my dogs just like to bark and growl for the fun of it so the first one really doesn’t count that much.

About the Author

I’m P. H. Solomon and I live in the greater Birmingham, AL area. I strongly dislike yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, I perform such duties to maintain a nice home for my loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In my spare time, I ride herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, I enjoy reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, I also have a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone my writing. My third book of The Bow of Hart Saga fantasy series, The White Arrow, will be released October 2017. I’m also a contriubtor to Story Empire and a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

This blog is about my writing, other authors, writing-related topics and my chosen genre – speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy to be specific). Join me regularly as I highlight other writers and share my journey as an author. See my Contact page for more information.