Hidden Kingdom (Chapter 2-adding page 9)

To see the complete Chapter 1, use the following link;https://catchafallingstarbook.net/2018/11/24/hidden-kingdom-chapter-1-complete/

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Filed under artwork, comic strips, fairies, Hidden Kingdom, humor, Paffooney, pen and ink

An Unexpected Gift 


This post is a movie review for Thor : Ragnarok , though I don’t really plan on talking about the movie very much.   It was an excellent comic book movie in the same tongue-in-cheek comedy tradition as Guardians of the Galaxy.   It made me laugh and made me cheer.   It was the best of that kind of movie.  But it wasn’t the most important thing that happened that night.


You see, I spent the weekend in the hospital thinking I had suffered a heart attack during the Thanksgiving holiday. I thought I was facing surgery at the very least.   I knew I might have had an appointment to play chess with the Grim Reaper.   It is a lot to worry about and drain all the fun out of life.

Well, one of the things that happened that day, Tuesday, my first full day out of the hospital and, hopefully, out of the woods over heart attacks, was that I received my new replacement bank card because my old one had a worn out, malfunctioning chip in it.  So, I took my three kids to the movie at the cheapest place we could find.  I tried to run my bank card for the payment, and it was summarily declined.  I had activated it previously during the day, and there was plenty of money in the account compared to the price, but it just wouldn’t take.  So I had to call Wells Fargo to find out whatever the new reason was for them to hate me.  It turned out that it had already been activated, but a glitch had caused it to decline the charge.  While I was talking to the girl from the Wells Fargo help desk, the lady who had gotten her and her husband’s tickets right before us put four tickets to the movie in my hand.

The middle-aged black couple had lingered by the ticket stand before going in to their movie just long enough to see a sad-looking old man with raggedy author’s beard and long Gandalf hair get turned down by the cheap-cinema ticket-taking teenager because the old coot’s one and only bank card was declined. They were moved to take matters into their own hands and paid for our tickets themselves.

That, you see, was the gift from my title.  Not so much that we got our movie tickets for free, but that the world still works that way.  There are still good people with empathetic and golden hearts willing to step in and do things to make the world a little bit better place.  The gift they gave me was the reassurance that, as bad and black as the world full of fascists that we have come to live in has become, it still has goodness and fellow feeling in it. People are still moved to pay things forward and make good on the promise to “love one another”.  I did not have a chance to thank them properly.  I was on the phone with Wells Fargo girl when it happened.  The only thing that couple got out of their good deed was thank-yous from my children and the knowledge that they had done something wonderful.  I plan to pay it forward as soon as I have the opportunity.  Not out of guilt or obligation, but because I need to be able to feel that feeling too at some point.

I do have one further gift to offer the world.


After we got home from the movie, I opened an email that contained the cover proof for my novel, Magical Miss Morgan.  Soon I will have that in print also if I can keep Page Publishing from messing it up at the last moments before printing.  It is a novel about what a good teacher is and does.  It is the second best thing I have ever written.

Sometimes the gifts that you most desperately need come in unexpected fashion.


Filed under commentary, compassion, happiness, healing, humor, illness, movie review, NOVEL WRITING, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Some Small Success

I was able to run my most successful book promotion so far by giving away free e-book copies of my newest novel, The Boy… Forever.

So, unlike in the past, I now have copies of my book in the hands of possible readers.

Some will actually read it.

And I also re-published Magical Miss Morgan as an Amazon Kindle and paperback, now out from under the onus of Page Publishing’s money-grubbing publishing con.

They actually expected me to pay more money than I was getting in royalties every two years to keep my book in print.

I now have more complete control over pricing, royalties, and promotions than I ever have with this, my second contest novel, also a finalist for the Rosetti Award for YA fiction.

I will try running a free promotion with it next month… in March.

I currently have fourteen books in print. In time order by setting they are;


Recipes for Gingerbread Children

The Baby Werewolf

The Boy… Forever

When the Captain Came Calling

Snow Babies

Sing Sad Songs

Fools and Their Toys

Magical Miss Morgan

Catch a Falling Star

The Bicycle-Wheel Genius

Stardusters and Space Lizards

AeroQuest 1 : Stars and Stones

AeroQuest 2 : Planet of the White Spider

And coming soon ; AeroQuest 3 : Juggling Planets

Here I hold in my hands the first printed copies of my two newest novels in print.

Slowly but surely I am building my legacy in fiction. And I am increasingly proud of the quality of work I have achieved. I may, in fact, live long enough to see some popularity for my works. It seems, so far, that everyone who reads one of my books, really likes it a lot.

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Sundays at Walmart

I figured today was going to be a bad-luck-sort-of day because the signs and omens were all against me. I forgot to buy dog food yesterday. And I also forgot yogurt for the Princess’s breakfast in the morning. Not only that, the Simon’s Cat game on my phone made me lose the daily challenge three times and the phone ran out of charge before I beat the stupid thing.

George Appleby and his wife (Red Skelton’s Hen-pecked Husband sketch)

Time out for a word from our sponsor;

The promotion ends at midnight tonight.

What’s worse, the first and only thing my wife said to me this morning was, “Michael, stop looking at me with such an angry face!”

I admit I wasn’t smiling. But I was not mad about anything. Should I have been?

“I’m not angry. Are you just saying you think my face is ugly?”

“You said it. I didn’t.”

Yes, the signs and omens were not in my favor today.

What is destined to go wrong?

Car accident on the way to Walmart?

Didn’t happen.

The price of yogurt went up to the point that I could no longer afford it?

Nope, again. But the bill at Walmart had 13 dollars on the front of the price. !!! 13!!! The unluckiest number? I added a candy bar to get the price up to 14 dollars. The candy bar was 88 cents. The total= $13.95. “Oh, no!!! An impending stroke when I carry the dog food into the house!”

Nope. Didn’t happen there either. Is bad karma building up on me for my next teaching job?

Maybe. We find out with 6th graders on Tuesday.

Or maybe I am just fixated on the bad signs and omens too much. If I worry too much about it, I might become George Appleby.

But then again, my wife probably deserves to be covered in toothpaste.

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Filed under comedians, feeling sorry for myself, humor

The Art of Contemplation

I believe one of the primary reasons that art exists at all is because we are thinking creatures with a need to spend serious time in deep minding of the consequences of existence. We need to question everything. And art helps us do that by depicting the thoughts that existed first in the mind of the artist, and then must be translated through experiencing into the mind of the viewer.

Landscapes are very useful for contemplation. They present an interpretation of the real world you can mentally walk around in.
If you are walking around mentally in a work of art, you are seeing more than just a place. You are walking mentally through the mind and the perceptions of the artist. You see what he or she has seen, even if you see it differently. Even if it is a photo the artist took.
The people, places, and things your viewer-eyes encounter when mentally walking around in a work of art have to have some overall meaning. Some purpose. Some reason for being.
What do you suppose the picture above means? I can’t tell you, even though I drew it. You, the viewer, must give it meaning.

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Filed under art criticism, artwork, imagination, insight, Paffooney

Dibbletey Dobbletey Doo

On Wednesday I subbed again for a science teacher at Long Middle School. They were eighth graders, the chest-thumping apes at the top of the monkey-house food chain. There was an AVID class with too many at-risk and under-disciplined kids in it. And the Long ESL classes contain too many rabid monkeys who don’t understand monkey-English well and are liberally dispersed through-out the harried eighth-grade teachers’ day. In other words, the Wednesday job caused me brain damage from which I haven’t recovered from fully at this writing.

So, today I am obsessed with finding the magic necessary to avoid having any more teacher-meltdowns and brain injuries like that 6th period debacle. (“Debakkil” is a magic word, but it is an evil magic word),

In the Disney animated classic Cinderella, the Fairy Godmother uses a magic spell called (in a song) “Bibbety Bobbity Boo”. In the course of singing the song, the old F-G turns a pumpkin into a carriage and mice into horses, the swayback horse into a driver, and the dog into a groom. I need a spell like that to remedy the monkey-house meltdown syndrome that I was victimized by.

So, here is how “Dibbletey Dobbletey Doo” will work.

The spell is cast initially on a male student, a monkey-like being swinging from the light fixtures, but obviously smarter than the other male monkey-students. You could magically turn his raggy clothing into a ball gown and embarrass him completely (which would be true to the metaphor, but would turn him into your worst nightmare)… but don’t. Instead, tell him that he is smart enough to be a leader. Put him in a position of power, making him in charge of a group, and telling him his consequences will be either a reward for good leadership, or the blame for the bad behavior of the group. Remind him that he has natural leadership skills. If he speaks to others respectfully, they will be respectful to everybody. If he shows them how to behave properly, they will use him as a positive example. He will get the credit for the good things they will do.

“Dibbletey Dobbletey Doo!”

It works. We had a poster project to do in groups of four. They were supposed to create a diagram of the mechanics of the four seasons of the year, with a sun and four representations of the earth with its axis and equator tilted properly in relation to the sun. That’s the kind of assignment that can result in the explosion of the science lab or the total cannibalization of the substitute. But I made it successfully work in four out of five classes.

Why did it go wrong in that last period? 1. Classes that are out of control for the regular teacher are impossible for even the best sub to control. 2. Too many students in one classroom are impossible to control when you have more groups than work tables. 3. Supplies run out at the end of the day, and empty pens and markers become projectiles. 4. Eighth graders all need to take mandatory naps in the afternoon (using sedative darts and a dart gun when necessary) but no school or principal is aware of that fact. 5. Cranky afternoon baboons grow longer fangs than they had in the morning.

So, Mickey must revise and rework this particular spell for the afternoons. And he must refuse the next job coming from this particular teacher.

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Filed under education, horror writing, humor, insight, kids, magic, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, teaching

The Boy… Forever (Free Book Promotion)

My most-recently-published book is now available for free from Amazon. I have tried this free-book promotion idea with other books, but this is the newest book I have available. I need to give away a bunch of books, so help yourself to one with the above link.

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AeroQuest 3… Nocturne 6

Nocturne 6 – Highly Heated Moments (The White Thread)

Rocket Rogers and Phoenix walked together towards the community baths in the Palace of 1,000 Years.  Not far behind them walked Friashqazatla, better known to all as Freddy due to pronunciations and the intricacies of the Zaranian language.

“You do know that he’s following you and not me,” said Phoenix.  “It’s you he seems to be queer for.”

Rocket looked at his literally hot-headed friend with a sense of embarrassment.  He didn’t know what to do about Freddy’s apparent hero-worship.

“Hey, Dog-Boy.  If you’re going to follow us around like a puppy, you might as well be one.  Didn’t Ged-sensei teach you how to transform?”  Phoenix could be needlessly cruel it seemed.

Freddy looked at them with sapphire eyes.  Then he stripped off his blue jumper and his blue turban, transforming into the black wolf as he did so.

“Good boy!” said Phoenix.  He signaled to the black wolf to come to their side, possibly to pet him.  But when Freddy padded up within reach, he used his pointer finger to set the wolf’s tail on fire.

Freddy immediately changed back to his dark-skinned humanoid form, putting the fire out before being burned by making all the flammable fur go away.

“That was mean,” said Freddy, sitting on the wet floor of the bath house naked.

“Why do you have to follow us?” asked Phoenix hotly.

“Well, um… I like Rocket and want to be his friend.”

“He’s already got me for a friend.”

Then both of them looked directly at Rocket.  He blushed a bit.  “Yeah, um…  I think I may have room for more than one friend.”

“Suit yourself.”  Phoenix dropped his black kimono and proceeded nude to the bathing pool currently occupied by Taffy King and little Mai Ling.

“If you’re willing to risk it, you can bathe with us,” offered Rocket.  “But I’m not gay, if you were wondering.”

“That’s good.  Me neither.  I just want to be your friend.”

Rocket dropped everything but his cowboy hat, helped Freddy up, and together they went over to the same pool and slipped into the water.  Phoenix had already used his Psionic powers to heat the water to a level barely able to be tolerated by humanoids.

“Do you always have to make it so hot?” complained Taffy.  Rocket liked being around her when she was nude.  She was not human in the way he was, but only her saurian eyes made her noticeably different than him.

“If you don’t like it, you can always get out,” said Phoenix with an evil grin.

Rocket quietly lowered the water temperature a little, not quite enough for Phoenix to notice, but enough to protect Freddy and the girls from being broiled like cooked lobsters in a pot.

The warm water was actually soothing on sore muscles after the rigorous workout they had been doing under Ged-sensei’s direction.

“So, Taffy, what are you gonna do for a boyfriend now that Alec has found a new squeeze?” asked Phoenix with a suggestive leer.

“Alec was never my boyfriend.  Just like you will never be.  But I am still open to other options.  Boys who aren’t so mean and evil, I mean.”  Taffy smiled at Rocket.

“Well, I like that,” muttered Phoenix as he apparently made the water even hotter.

“How do you do that?” Mai Ling asked Phoenix.  “I really like hot water for baths.”

“Really?  How hot?”

“Phoenix!  Don’t you dare!”  Taffy glared at him with green lizard eyes.

“Would you like to see how hot you can stand it?” Phoenix offered, sounding a bit more sincere than usual.

“I really would,” said the little girl.  “But maybe in another pool?  And don’t cook me, please.”

Phoenix shrugged.  He and Mai Ling got out and walked to another pool.

“Remember, Phoenix.  She’s a very good shot and is useful in combat!” Rocket shouted.

“Don’t worry, Rocket.  I might be in the market for more than one friend too.”

As soon as Rocket turned back around in the pool, Taffy planted a kiss right on his lips.

“Mmmph!  Ah… what exactly was that for?”

“How would you like to be my boyfriend?” Taffy asked point blank.  Then she kissed him again.  Longer.  And he didn’t mind at all.  But when they finally came up for air, Freddy was looking at them both with an embarrassed grin on his face.

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Filed under aliens, humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, science fiction

Adding to my Booklist

I have now done two things to increase my published output in 2020.

My most recently completed book is The Boy… Forever.

And I have escaped from the clutches of Page Publishing, republishing my book Magical Miss Morgan with Amazon, both in paperback and e-book formats.

This is how it now appears in paperback form.

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Filed under announcement, novel plans, publishing