Category Archives: blog posting

Can We Be Clear?

Mai Ling uses psionic ninja powers to separate the flowers from the weeds, a thing that is not easy to do.

I suppose that if I were to be insightfully honest for a moment, I would have to admit that I am a failed novelist. If you take “success” as meaning “financial success”, the fact that I only make less than five dollars a month for my writing means I am a failure at it. If you specify that success means my books find readers, then evidence would suggest that my books are mostly ignored. A majority of those who have responded favorably to my work are actually members of the nudist community on Twitter. I admit that I have cultivated that a bit with nudist characters in about a fourth of my books. But that is a result of having experienced fascinating people and situations that I felt I had to write about because I happened to meet, totally by chance, interesting nudists in real life.

I have lost a lot of writing-community followers on Twitter because of my interactions with Twitter nudists. My work gets dismissed on occasion because your standard teacher-turned-writer on Twitter, usually female and usually fundamentalist Christian, doesn’t want to be contaminated by sinful nudist associations. Ah, such a life. But I don’t wish to destroy anyone’s faith in a God who will apparently burn them for an eternity in Hell if they are tempted to frolic with no clothes on. I would rather be blocked by them on Twitter than have them give up on whatever paradise they are pursuing.

But I am basically on the Brad Bird side of the argument about whether or not you can choose to be a hero even if others will see you as a monster. My fiction does not cause demonic possession and probably does not cause spontaneous bouts of joyful nudism either. Even my werewolf story, which was too much for one potential reviewer, does not have actual werewolves in it. Although it does describe some things that really happened to me as a child in a fictionalized, sort-of-truthful way.

So, by those criteria, I judge myself to be a failed writer.

But I am definitely not giving up on writing in despair. Those were never the reasons I wrote novels to begin with.

I write because I have something to say to the world and stories to tell. And I mean to have my say, even if the world is too stone-deaf and stupefied to listen.

I have things to say about living and learning.

I have things to say about finding love, and losing love, and finding it again.

I have things to say about how I think the world works, and why I’m pretty sure I’m completely wrong about all of that. And what I intend to do about it.

To that end, I have started writing a book full of essays like the stuff and garbage and lovely wisdom I write in this goofy little blog. And I shall call it Laughing Blue. Because, you know, nobody is going to read it anyway, and I can call it whatever the heck I want to call it.

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Filed under autobiography, blog posting, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, irony, philosophy

Life as a Humor Blog

Writing, as I have repeatedly said in this blog, is necessary for life to me. I would not still exist today if I couldn’t put words to paper (I mean metaphorically, of course, since I wrote this on my malfunctioning laptop.)

But I don’t mean in any way to imply that it is any kind of “normal human life” to be a blogger. It is, in fact, a rather bizarre and chaotic life where you have to juggle a multitude of wacky, crazy, depressing, unruly, and downright ugly things that happen at random to any and every human being (I was going to say, “living human being.” But the fact is, it happens like that for the dead ones too.) As a blogger, you are trying to take all that chaotic nonsense and organize it into words and paragraphs that makes it all into a reasonably sensible thematic something that people are tempted to actually read. (“Tempted” here probably means lured in to find out what this mass of typing is really all about by the naked fairy-girl that is in the lead illustration.) (You would be surprised at how often my penchant for drawing nudes draws in people looking for porn and gets them to stay and read the story that goes with the picture.)

Technically this is a book blog. It was established for me as an author’s blog by I-Universe Publishing for my traditionally-published novel Catch a Falling Star, which is what this blog is named for. It is supposed to be an effective marketing tool for selling books and getting people interested in finding out more about my books, and about me, and especially about clicking on the ads that appear in this blog-space.

But I am apparently terrible at using it for what it was meant for. There is absolutely no correlation between this book blog and book sales. Through I-Universe I have made about $16,00 (really, sixteen dollars! since 2013, and they haven’t even sent that money to me yet, because the threshold for sending a check in the mail is $25,00,) They have made a lot more money off of selling me marketing services than they ever have off of my award-winning book (Really, again, the Editor’s Choice Award and the Rising Star Award, both together worth precisely diddly-squoot.) My blog itself costs me $98.00 a year, and I have only made back $10,00 on ads revenue. So, being an author is only going to make me a millionaire very, very, very slowly.

But what I do get from this blog is a couple of critical things.

It is a place where my artwork and story-telling skills can see the light of day outside of a middle-school classroom. I learned to fascinate people with my cartoons on a chalkboard and stories that begin with things like, “One time the former President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, was skinny-dipping in the Potomac River while…” (Yes, that one could’ve gotten me fired if kids had told their grandmothers what they were learning in Mr. Beyer’s class when they got home from school, but they laughed so hard that they forgot everything they learned in class.) (Unfortunately, they mostly forgot Math Class and Science Class as well.)

And I get some feedback about how well or how poorly my writing comes across to the reader. (I can get a “LOL” in the comments, or a good “What the hell was that supposed to be about?”) It gives me an idea about what to keep and what to change when I do it all again the next day.

People are actually reading this blog, and my books as well. Yesterday I got 204 views and 21 likes on WordPress and there was only one naked girl in the pictures I used with the blog post. Just today I got a very insightful five-star review on my book Sing Sad Songs. So, I am getting read and being successful as a writer. ($3.75 in royalties from Amazon was paid to me on Friday. So, I could almost claim to be a professional… if I cut down on expenditures quite a bit.)

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, blog posting, humor, novel writing, Paffooney

Opening Windows on the Past

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This particular Iowa trip has me thinking hard about mortality and the cold harsh wind that blows toward us from the future.  My cousin’s only son lost his battle with depression, and his family finally came to terms with the loss.  But the sadness is past.   The responsibilities of the living is what remains.

I was born while Eisenhower was President.  I was alive and aware when Kennedy was assassinated and when men first walked on the moon.  I was teaching in a classroom when the first teacher in space was killed on the exploding space shuttle.  And I was also in the classroom when the twin towers fell on 9-11.  It is an important part of the responsibilities I have for being alive to keep that past alive too.

 

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My mother’s knickknack shelf.

The reason we collect and care about little extraneous things like porcelain eggs, angels, fine blue china plates, and the California Raisins singing I Heard It Through the Grapevine is because those little, otherwise unimportant things connect us to memories of important times and places and people.   We keep old photographs around, many of them black and white, for the same reasons.

 

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The fiction I write is not contemporary.  It is mostly historical fiction.  It is set in a recent past where the Beatles and the Eagles provided the sound track to our lives.  It does not cross the border into the 21st Century.  The part of my writing that is not about the past is science fiction set in the far future, entirely in the universe of my imagination.  It is my duty to connect the past to the future.

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And I share that duty with everyone who is alive.  My great grandparents and grandparents are now gone from this world.  But their horse-and-buggy memories about life on the farm before electric lights and cars… with humorous outhouse stories thrown in for comic relief… are in me too.  I am steeped in the past in so many ways…  And I must not fail to pass that finely brewed essence on to my children and anyone young who will listen.  It is a grave responsibility.  And it is possible to reach the grave without having fulfilled that important purpose.

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In times of great sadness and loss we must think about how life goes on.  There has to be a will to carry on and deliver the past to the future.  Every story-teller carries that burden, whether in large or small packages.  And there is no guarantee that tomorrow will even arrive.  So here is my duty for the day.  One more window has been opened.

 

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Filed under autobiography, battling depression, blog posting, family, healing, humor, insight, inspiration

Friday Funnies… um, Yeah?

I have been trying for a while to develop a weekly blog routine to make thinking up something new and creative for a daily post easier… even simple. Tuesday is novel-work where I share a freshly made chapter of a work in progress.

Saturday is art day where I am supposed to share artwork I have done in a new and interesting way.

Sunday is devotional day… which is weird for an atheist who believes in God. I have a tendency to share things I am devoted to, which is far more than just religion. I have included on this blog day such things I keep sacred as Disney movies, Dr. Seuss, and being a nudist.

And Friday is supposed to be the day to be funny. Cartoons and jokes and satire and things to make you laugh.

The thing is, though I am a cartoonist, I am not that kind of cartoonist. I don’t do gag cartoons. I am more of an ironic twister of tales and tails and puns. My cartoon shared at the start here is not funny at all. Sometimes my humor novels get downright maudlin and sad. I doubt I have ever yet busted someone’s gut with laughter. I would not want to be guilty of murder by cartoon. What do you legally call that? Gag-a-cide? I put in the hyphens to make sure you didn’t think I was talking about killing Lady Gaga.

I have pretty much mastered the art of drawing cartoons. I can do eyes like Walt Kelly (the creator of Pogo) and Harvey Comics‘ noses (like the one in the Hot Stuff Devil picture) and women with huge jugs… of moonshine like Al Capp (the creator of Lil’ Abner… and you knew I meant jugs of Kickapoo Joy Juice, right? Surely you did think…)

Ah, but telling funny jokes is not what I do. Still, I believe I can lay claim to being a humorist based on this blog. I make people smirk a lot when I talk, which I take as visual confirmation that I am funny. Unless people are smirking at me for other reasons? Do I have another daddy longlegs spider dancing on my head because at least two of his long legs are tangled in my hair? Really? For the third time already?

But, regardless, I have reason to believe this post and others like it on Friday qualify for the notion of Friday Funnies. I can make myself smirk, guffaw, and sometimes giggle without looking in a mirror to see the spider. But you are welcome to dispute my funniness in the comments if you prefer it to admitting that I can sometimes make you laugh. If you do, then you will be supporting the arguments of the book reviewer who reviewed my book Mickey’s Rememberries and said, “He could be a great writer if only he were more serious/” I took that as a compliment. Irony, don’t ya know.

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Filed under autobiography, blog posting, cartoons, commentary, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney

The Be-Bop Beat of Mickey’s Brain

Truthfully, when I look back at the string of posts in the picket fence of this daily blog, I fail to see the overall map of it in any semblance of pattern or order.  Honestly, I did not set out to be purposefully wacky.

I did, however, set out to be purposefully surreal.  I mean it, I consciously put bizarrely dissimilar things together in an attempt to find parallels and connections  in unlike things because, not only is it funny and surprising, but is a comic act that serves to keep the mind nimble and never numb.  I do think quite a lot.  And I try to see connections between things where others wouldn’t.  For instance, the Coppertone girl with her bare butt and Bullwinkle with his unicycle are both being threatened in a way that is both comic, and taking advantage of their inherent image of innocence.  Neither will lose anything by it.  The girl stands to brown her pale white behind in the sun, while Bullwinkle will probably land on his head and it will make a decent cushion to preserve him because of it’s empty and rubbery qualities.

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Pie makes everything better.  MMMM!  Pie!

I must also admit to a bit of the old telling of stretchers, the misrepresentation of the truth, the loquacious layer-onner of lies.  Not Trumpian lies that land on you like elephants dropped like bombs out of B-52’s.  Instead, fictions that entertain and elucidate.  It is the most likely reason I keep saying connecting words and phrases like “truthfully” and “honestly” and “I mean it”.  Those are words that liars love.

Yes fiction writers like me tell little white lies.

I have now published my novel Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  It is a novel based on real people I have known and loved and listened to.  It is about an old German woman, a survivor of WWII concentration camps, who loves to tell stories to children and bake gingerbread cookies, especially gingerbread men.  It features a pair of teenage nudist girls who believe in going completely naked whenever you are indoors, even if you are in someone else’s house.  It features Nazis, both in flashback and ghostly forms.  It also features fairies from the Hidden Kingdom of Tellosia, a fairy kingdom filled with little three-inch tall magical people living under our very noses.  And it has a werewolf in it, though admittedly a very young one.  It is a comedy with its requisite sad parts, and it is definitely an example of surrealism.  It is also full of lies… err, I mean fiction.

But the real purpose of this supposedly be-bop brain fart in blog-post form is not so much to explain my blog (because how do you explain a blog that goes from Flashbacks and Foobah to telling about Madman Trump to Another novel part… #37 to Centaurs to a book and movie review, to this eccentric and eclectic thing, which probably exists more to make alliteration jokes than anything else in the most musical beat I can bang out?) but to prove that I do often think about thinking and how things fit together and what it all means… and how to write a run-on sentence that adds to the effect rather than simply annoys.  And, yeah, I’m doing that.  And it feels like a good thing to do.

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Filed under blog posting, commentary, foolishness, humor, imagination, metaphor, Paffooney, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life, surrealism

Celebration 1,900

My blog on WordPress, Catch a Falling Star, now has 1,900 followers for the very first time.

You may have noticed that my blog is about surrealist art, fantasy fiction for young adults, and a somewhat strange idea of what humor is all about.

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Treading Water with Swimming Talent

I would like to dwell on yesterday’s topic for a change. Usually when I do a daily blog topic, I use my goldfish-brain swimming ability to totally forget what I wrote about yesterday. Relating one topic to the next is not something I normally do.

To be clear (see that nod to yesterday’s topic?) I had to link lessons and daily topics religiously as a teacher, going through review checklists after warm-ups and discussing prior learning daily before proceeding with new content. So, I’m not UN-intentionally failing to do that here. I am merely trying to recover from a lifetime of ingrained teacher habits.

My purple mouse avatar does actually have two ears.

Yesterday I wrote about not measuring myself by the standards most people use to think about whether or not a writer is successful. I concluded that if you are going to limit that assessment to financial realities or wide readership and critical acclaim, I am a failure. But here are some key points that deserve consideration.

I do have a fan base, even if it is not large. I have been given honorary membership in the group of pro-naturist writers on Twitter even though, as a nudist, I am hardly ever naked myself. I discovered them as I was researching nudism for my book Recipes for Gingerbread Children through the website https://www.clothesfreelife.com/. They discovered my book which only has two naturist characters in it, both of whom try to promote naturism to the other kids in their circle of friends, and liked it enough to review it and include me in their Twitter group. The story is really more about fairy tales and Nazi Germany in World War II than it is about nudists, but they liked it never-the-less.

I have also gathered a Twitter following among other unique groups. The international Twitter fan group that idolizes Tom Hiddleston as Loki regularly fill up my notifications inbox. One Russian member of this group bought and liked Sing Sad Songs, for reasons that were explained, but not in clear enough English for me to understand.

As I spent most of a decade as an ESL Teacher, I probably have been read by more Honduran refugees and Vietnamese immigrants than any of the other writers I know on Twitter and Facebook. And while that is mainly because they were in my High School ESL Class, that does not negate the fact that my writing has a truly international reach.

I am also proud of the fact that I was able to give a copy of the best novel I have written so far, Snow Babies, to the girl I grew up with and named the main character after. She read it, loved it, and recommended it to the school where she works, the school we both graduated from in 1975.

But I don’t want you to take either this post or yesterday’s as some sort of bragging. I humbly submit to you, my accomplishments as a teacher in public schools far outweigh anything I have done as a writer. Still, it is not nothing. And even if I die tomorrow (with my health problems and the current pandemic, a very real possibility) it is enough.

And, hopefully, that covers what I should’ve added yesterday.

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Filed under art criticism, autobiography, blog posting, commentary, humor, novel writing

Can We Be Clear?

Mai Ling uses psionic ninja powers to separate the flowers from the weeds, a thing that is not easy to do.

I suppose that if I were to be insightfully honest for a moment, I would have to admit that I am a failed novelist. If you take “success” as meaning “financial success”, the fact that I only make less than five dollars a month for my writing means I am a failure at it. If you specify that success means my books find readers, then evidence would suggest that my books are mostly ignored. A majority of those who have responded favorably to my work are actually members of the nudist community on Twitter. I admit that I have cultivated that a bit with nudist characters in about a fourth of my books. But that is a result of having experienced fascinating people and situations that I felt I had to write about because I happened to meet, totally by chance, interesting nudists in real life.

I have lost a lot of writing-community followers on Twitter because of my interactions with Twitter nudists. My work gets dismissed on occasion because your standard teacher-turned-writer on Twitter, usually female and usually fundamentalist Christian, doesn’t want to be contaminated by sinful nudist associations. Ah, such a life. But I don’t wish to destroy anyone’s faith in a God who will apparently burn them for an eternity in Hell if they are tempted to frolic with no clothes on. I would rather be blocked by them on Twitter than have them give up on whatever paradise they are pursuing.

But I am basically on the Brad Bird side of the argument about whether or not you can choose to be a hero even if others will see you as a monster. My fiction does not cause demonic possession and probably does not cause spontaneous bouts of joyful nudism either. Even my werewolf story, which was too much for one potential reviewer, does not have actual werewolves in it. Although it does describe some things that really happened to me as a child in a fictionalized, sort-of-truthful way.

So, by those criteria, I judge myself to be a failed writer.

But I am definitely not giving up on writing in despair. Those were never the reasons I wrote novels to begin with.

I write because I have something to say to the world and stories to tell. And I mean to have my say, even if the world is too stone-deaf and stupefied to listen.

I have things to say about living and learning.

I have things to say about finding love, and losing love, and finding it again.

I have things to say about how I think the world works, and why I’m pretty sure I’m completely wrong about all of that. And what I intend to do about it.

To that end, I have started writing a book full of essays like the stuff and garbage and lovely wisdom I write in this goofy little blog. And I shall call it Laughing Blue. Because, you know, nobody is going to read it anyway, and I can call it whatever the heck I want to call it.

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Filed under autobiography, blog posting, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, irony, philosophy

How to Make a Mickey

Milt Morgan is me as a boy

It is a fairly difficult thing to face a blank page every single day. I usually win in the battle to write something every day. But not always. Some days it is just too hard. Some days I am not well enough to make my stupid old brain spin up a spider-web of words. Some days the words are just Teufelsschei├če (poop coming out of the Devil in German).

But staring at a blank page today got me thinking about the process again, how the words come, where they come from, and why.

I just finished the most successful free-book promotion I have ever had. I gave away more books than ever before, and I gave some away every single day of the promotion. Some who downloaded the e-book even thanked me and told me they would read it. One even promised to read it right after he finished reading one of my other books.

Of course, you can see that this novel has nudist characters in it, and it is even set in a nudist park. So, naturally, the copies were mostly grabbed by members of the Twitter-nudist circle of friends and acquaintances I have on Twitter. But it is thrilling to know someone is actually going to read one, or even two of my books. I haven’t gotten enough of that feeling as an author. It is one of the main purposes of my writing, to have readers.

But this post is supposed to be about process, not publication. So, how did I come to write this thing? This nudist novel and this blog about writing it?

Well, like most real writers, I choose to write about what I know. And I am acquainted with naturism. I had a girlfriend once whose sister lived in a nudist apartment complex in Austin. I was inside that place a dozen times or so. I have also been to the nudist park north of Dallas. I have experience of nudists and at least some idea of what it is like to be one.

And the characters in the story are all based on real people. The main character is at least fifty percent me. The other fifty percent is a member of my family. The stepmom in the story is a combination of two former girlfriends. Her twin girls are partly based on my twin cousins (who have never been nudists) and on twin girls in my class in the 80’s (who lived naked at least once in a while, if not as much as the twins in the story).

But the critical themes in the story are not really about being a nudist. Naked is a metaphor for honesty, being able to hide nothing because you no longer wear the armor that you once used to hide from repressed memories of abuse. The main character, Devon, is battling depression and suicidal thoughts brought on by a life full of abuse. And he learns to overcome these life-threatening things by being honest with others, especially by being honest with himself. A little bit of naked honesty turns out to be the key that unlocks his prison cell.

As I put words and stories and blog posts together, I invariably find myself writing about certain things over and over and over again. They are the things I wrestle with daily. I write to keep my mind active, and to keep my heart and soul alive.

It isn’t too much to expect to look at a blank page every day, and to find there the words that I need to say. It is daunting, but doable. And it gets easier with practice.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, battling depression, blog posting, healing, humor, novel writing, nudes, Paffooney, writing

Whaa Diddy Doo?

Mixed messages of ironic intentions

Yesterday I had the most views in a single day for Catch a Falling Star that I have ever had. 126 different people looked at things 329 times on my blog. And that seems to be solely because of my Valentine’s Day post from a year ago in which I wrote about all the goofy, funny, and unintentionally inappropriate Valentines I remembered from my childhood in the 1960s. It didn’t get that kind of interest last year when I originally posted it. But this year, goofy and weird is apparently in vogue again.

So, that’s basically good news for me. I am a vast repository of goofy and weird.

If you don’t believe me, you could buy one of my books and prove it to yourself. In fact, if you are a member of Amazon Prime, you can get a Kindle version of a Mickey novel for free.

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