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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An Unexpected Gift 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Illustrating AeroQuest

As I am editing and rewriting my first published novel to turn it into a novel series of at least four books, I have been enjoying rounding up and editing old artwork to illustrate it. I have been taking advantage of the fact that you can, after a fashion, plug illustrations into the manuscript and have it come through as acceptably good in the final Amazon publication.

The story comes from adventure logs of a space-fantasy role-playing game called Traveller. I played the game with small handfuls of high school kids whose player characters are now the main characters of the story (after modifications and considerable censorship.

The illustrations, a lot of them, are drawings of the characters that I did in pen and ink back in the 1980’s.

We went through multiple generations of player characters, some of whom were practically immortal, and others that died horrible deaths after a few episodes.

Most of the acting in the RPG was done for humor’s sake, and so my Sci-Fi tale turns out to be more of comedy than anything else.

Amanda is Ged’s daughter, though the player was not related to Ged’s player.

Rescuing the novel from the sorry state it was in from being an awkward first attempt at publishing done with a publisher that later had to be sued and put on trial for fraud has been an interesting and rewarding experience. These stories will never be among my best works, but they were definitely a learning experience. And rewriting them is a learning experience itself, living the story all over again with significant changes.

The places are the same, but as a satire, they had to be re-named in many instances as the planet’s names and their make-up were copied from other books and movies. But they were rewritten by the players themselves as everything was turned into comedy and farce. Hence, the planet Mongo ruled by Emperor Ming, became the planet Mingo ruled by Emperor Mong. These are obvious references that are re-named in ways that give us a laugh or a wince.

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I doubt it is obvious by just looking at these drawings, but by reducing their size, the line drawings are improved to a high degree.

Illustrating AeroQuest has been fun. Maybe, at some point, it will even prove profitable. But ultimately, it is definitely a thing worth doing.

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Mixing the Old Gray Matter with Color

Illness intervenes in my day today, so here is an old post-re-posted to fill the space I would’ve written in today to say something essentially the same.

Catch a Falling Star

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(This old picture paffooney won a blue ribbon at the Wright County Fair in 1979.)

 

I am repeatedly told by people willing to tell me all the many things I am doing totally wrong in social media marketing that I should be creating fresh new content every day for blogs and Facebook.    Ooftah!  I don’t work hard enough as a teacher and a writer already?  I have to imitate George Takei and master the internet just to make headway as a writer?  It makes me wonder why I am actually doing what I am doing.

So why am I doing what I am doing?

First of all, I am an artist.  I have always been one no matter what else was going on in my life.  Arthritis limits my drawing time.  Teacher work-time limits it more.  Still, I like to blog and I like to post Paffoonies.  Now…

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Creating Another Cover

As I continue working on my work-in-progress, I get ideas for how I am going to make a cover for it. I have kicked around ideas and even tried executing a few of them. And when I say that, it doesn’t mean I literally kicked anything or shot anything in the head. I did drawings and thought seriously about how to put them together.

Remember this one? I drew this because my current novel has two people in it that claim they are actually dragons in human disguises.

One of those people is the girl Fiona Long, who goes by Fi most of the time. She is an aggressive red-headed girl who makes the boys cringe on occasion. She tells them her real name is Firefang, and she’s a red dragon wearing a human meat-disguise. Of course, the boys in Norwall, Iowa immediately believe her, because dragons are so common in Iowa.

So, I took these two image-ideas and slapped them together.

Oh, I forgot to mention, the story happens in 1976, the Bi-Centennial year, and the story climax happens during the 4th of July celebration.

I wasn’t really happy with how this first one looked, so I tried a second shot at putting them together in a slightly different manner.

Of course, the novel is not yet done. It is maybe only half done. So, for that reason, the cover does not have to be done also. And it does bother me a little that the title is The Boy… Forever, and yet, I have a picture of a girl and a dragon on the cover. Maybe Icarus needs to be in the picture too. Icarus Jones is the boy from the title. So, I need to work on that, and maybe redo the whole cover. We shall see. And that will make a possible future blog post too.

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AeroQuest 2… Canto 39

Canto 39 – Slinking Out of Paradise

Gaijin is one of the most beautiful worlds in human space according to those humans who have visited enough of them to compare.  Its lush, tropical-sea environment is pleasant always and fully climate-controlled by old Sylvani technology.  It has far fewer cold places than an Earth-like world such as Talos III or Martin Faulkner’s Dream.  It has more resources than an ocean-world like Dancer or Design where no land masses are present.  And its greatest features are the people themselves.  They are disciplined by the Bushido code, and beautified by the natural Sylvani grace.  It was no surprise, then, that Vince Niell and the crew of the Megadeath did not want to leave.

“I have to go to at least three other worlds,” argued Xavier Tkriashav.  “I have important missions to complete.  You have the only available spaceship on the planet.”

“Dude, like, we don’t got no orders from Ged boss-man,” said Vince Niell.  “This ship is his.”

“Ged is very busy now.  I am his friend and agent.  I tell you, I have important things to do for Ged Aero!”

“And we tell you, Psion Dude, that we don’t go to space for nobody but Ged Aero.”

Xavier smiled.  “Can you call him and ask?”

“Dude, we have commo units on board.  Did he take a walkie-talkie or a commo dot?”

“No.”

“Then ain’t no way we’re gonna move from this spot.”

Tkriashav looked at the stubborn rock-and-roll starship pilot.  He saw only two angry reflections of himself looking back from Vince’s mirrored sunglasses.  The hippie freak had started wearing a pair of red Moko-bird feathers in his hair as if he were some kind of Native American from ancient Earth.

“I am going to go and disturb Ged now, and get him to write a note to let me use this starship while he is training to be Gaijin’s new White Spider.”

“Sounds good to me, Daddy-o.”

Fuming, the turbaned Psion stalked back into the city, making his way swiftly through crowded streets to the Palace of One Thousand Years.

Ged was on the practice field with Junior, teaching martial arts.

“You were impressive in the arena,” Tkriashav said when Ged acknowledged his presence.  “Tell me, how is it you already know the martial arts they teach here?”

“It’s not something I’m proud of, but I absorbed it by eating the flesh of the man they called the Black Spider.  I inherited the ability to alter myself into the patterns of his finely trained muscles.  Muscle memory is the key to absorbing the skill.  Just like the instincts I’ve absorbed from animals I’ve eaten.”

“Did you actually eat one of those invisible cat things?”

“It was during an episode of survival training on the planet Samothrace when I was young.  I guess I had my powers even then, though I didn’t know it until the last few years.”

“It’s that kind of knowledge I need you to pass on to other Psions, Ged.  Do you mind if I use your starship to round up a couple of students for you?”

“I would be honored to serve,” said Ged with a bow.  “Teaching seems to come naturally too, though I don’t ever remember eating a teacher.”

Xavier laughed.  “I need a note for your crew, Ged.  They don’t want to leave this place.  They won’t take my word.”

“No problem.  Will you revisit Don’t Go Here?”

“Yes.  After completing the missions I have in mind.”

“Check on Tara for me.  Tell her I miss her.  And tell Ham about what’s happened here.  I want him to come here and learn about this place too.”

“I would be happy to.  You like it here, don’t you?”

“How could I help it?  I’m not a monster here.  I’m a hero to these people.  But I have to say, I don’t understand the praise any more than I understood the fear.” The message was quickly written, and within the hour, the Megadeath roared out of Gaijinese orbit, headed directly into trouble.

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The Dragon Within My Writing

The Chinese Dragon that I have drawn for today is a part of the planned cover illustration for my work in progress, The Boy… Forever.

But it is also more than that. The villain of the story claims to be a dragon in human form. And even though this may be a metaphor-like lie, it is an apropos symbol of the underlying conflict that informs almost all of my work. There is always, it seems, a hidden evil that is far more dangerous and life-consuming than it portrays itself as. The blizzard in Snow Babies, the real werewolf, the murderer, in The Baby Werewolf, suicidal depression in When the Captain Came Calling and Sing Sad Songs, and the serial killer in both Sing Sad Songs and Fools and Their Toys all kill other characters in my stories. They all bear the stamp of the evil dragon, magically powerful and dangerous in ways that guns alone cannot protect you from. They are evils embedded in human nature. They are the dragon that the White Knight of the story must defeat.

So, I show you this dragon today as a way of acknowledging my own dragons that must be fought.

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Slightly Feverish

An infinite number of monkeys with and infinite number of word-processors will supposedly eventually type out everything I have ever written and everything I am going to write… As well as everything I will ever write with a random word misspelled or replaced with the wrong word. It would be an infinite mess. After all, infinite monkeys and infinite word-processors would fill infinite space and leave no room for infinite bananas. The monkeys would all starve after the initial typed manuscripts are completed, and any surviving monkeys that randomly evolved an ability to eat word-processors would die from exposure to infinite rotting monkey corpses. The whole thing gets gruesome after a while.

But let’s get serious for a moment. (Something that is generally difficult for Mickey.) Monkeys with type-writers will not solve my essential problem. I will not run out of stories before I run out of time for story-telling. And I find it totally creditable that my time is almost gone.

I am ill again, with a viral infection that gives me headaches, low-grade fever, and a wicked cough. I feel horrible. I had chest pains last night that led to a serious debate yet again. If it had been a heart attack, that would’ve been the end. I cannot survive economically another hospital bill. So, I have to go on the theory that since the last heart-attack scare was only arthritis in the ribs and the strange effect that has on EKGs, this one must also be the same. I can’t afford any other conclusion. And since I am still alive to write this, it was obviously the correct conclusion to draw.

The titles I have listed above, still in my stupid old head, are eleven more books I will add to my growing list. This is, of course, entirely dependent on how much longer I have before the darkness claims me for all time. I have writing to do. No more days off. And if I get five more years of two books a year, I just might make it. But last night convinced me that the effort may end at any time. So, though I am sick, I better get busy and write something.

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Chicken-like Spaceships and Other Fantasy Sillyart

Ninja Chickens doing Chicken-Dance-Fu

These don’t actually qualify as Paffooneys because there is no story to go with them today. Just Mickey doing ridiculous pictures again .

Brekka the girl Telleron and her Man-Eating Plant

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