Category Archives: horror writing

The Creature I Have Become

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I identify as a humorist, writer, cartoonist, and certified fool (Yes, I have a certificate from the Children’s Writer Institute that proves I once foolishly believed I could learn how to make money as a writer).  But my current novel project is a horror novel, The Baby Werewolf, which I twice before tried to turn into a completed rough draft novel. This time I mean to follow through to the bitter end.

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Torrie Brownfield, hypertrichosis sufferer and possible werewolf.

In order to reign in the goofiness enough to deal with the issues in this novel I have been doing a lot of horror reading. I have also undertaken the reading of a very good author examination of the life of Edgar Allen Poe.

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Poe’s life was highly instructive.  You may not have realized this, but most of the giants of American Literature prior to and contemporary with Poe did not make most of their money as writers.  Emerson was a clergyman.  Nathaniel Hawthorne worked as a customs clerk. Poe, the first to try to make a living solely on work as a writer, editor, critic, and poet, was subjected to the horrors of poverty, illness, and want.  His wife was chronically tubercular and ill.  He never made the money he was obviously worth as a creator of popular horror fiction, poetry, critical essays about other authors, and as an editor for profitable magazines of the day.  Other people made loads of money from his work.  Poe, not so much.

It is instructive to a writer like me who can’t seem to land any sort of income from my own creations.  There is no demand because there is no recognition of my work.  I have come close, having my work praised by editors and fellow authors, and being a finalist in novel writing contests twice.  The goal is good writing.  I will probably never see a return on my investment in my lifetime.  My children may not acquire anything by it unless one of them really devotes a lot of effort to it.  Like Poe with his drinking problem, chronic depression, and ill wife, I face physical limitations and poor health, grinding financial issues, and family factors that make it near impossible to put marketing effort into my literary career.

And this novel is a hard journey for me.  I was sexually assaulted by an older boy when I was ten.  A lot of the fears outlined and elucidated in this particular story leap right out of that iron cage in my psyche where they have been contained for fifty years.  Fear of nakedness.  Fear of sex.  Fear of being attacked.  Fear of the secret motivations in others.  Fear of the dark.  And, most of all, fear of what fear can make me become.  Fear of being a monster.

But I have not become any of the dark and terrible things that fear can make me into.  Instead I became a school teacher, mentor to many.  I became a family man, father of three children.  I became a nudist, hopefully not a dark and terrible thing in itself.  I became Mickey.

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Filed under autobiography, feeling sorry for myself, horror writing, humor, monsters, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, writing

Novel Nudists

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I have known nudists for a long time, since the 1980’s in fact.  I have recently dabbled my toes in the cold waters of being a nudist myself.  I did work on pool cracks this past summer while naked.  I made one visit to a nudist park and actually got naked in front of strangers who were also naked.  It is a certain kind of crazy connection to nature, my self, and the bare selves of others to be a nudist, even if it is for only a few hours.  I used to think nudists were crazy people.  But I have begun to understand in ways that are hard to understand.  And being a novelist, that was bound to creep into the piles of supposedly wise understanding that goes into the creation of novels.  I say “supposedly wise” because wisdom is simply the lipstick on the pig of ridiculous human experiences.

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The Cobble family appeared first in my novel, Superchicken.  It is a semi-autobiographical novel that uses some of my real life experiences and the real life experiences of boys I either grew up with or taught, mixed in with bizarre fantasy adventures that came from my perceptions of life as an adult.  So the Cobble family really represent my encounters with nudism and the semi-sane people known as nudists.  Particularly important to the story are the Cobble Sisters, twins Sherry and Shelly, who fully embrace the idea of being nudists and try to get other characters to not only approve of the behavior, but share in it.  Sherry is the more forward of the two, more willing to be seen naked by the boys in her school and in her little Iowa farm town.  Shelly is the quieter of the two, a bit more shy and a lot more focused on the love of one particular boy.

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In fact, the Cobble Sisters are based on real life twin blond girls from my recollections of the past.  The Cobble farm is out along the Iowa River and just north of Highway Three in Iowa.  It is a real place where real twin girls lived when I was a boy.  They were blond and pretty and outgoing.  But they were not actually nudists.  There was another pair of twin blond girls from my first two years of teaching who actually provided the somewhat aggressively sensual personalities of the Cobble Sisters.  The real nudists I knew were mostly in Texas.

The sisters appear in more than one of the novels I have written or am in the process of writing.  They appear for the second time in the novel Recipes for Gingerbread Children which I finished writing in 2016.  They are also a part of the novel I am working on now, The Baby Werewolf.   That last is probably the main reason they are on my mind this morning.  Writing a humorous horror story about werewolves, nudists, pornographers, and real wolves is a lot more complex and difficult than it sounds.  But it is hopefully doable.  And my nudist characters are all basically representative of the idea that all honest and straight-forward people are metaphorically naked all the time.  That’s the thing about those nudist twins.  They don’t hide anything.  Not their most private bits, and certainly not what they are thinking at any given time.

So as I continue to struggle with revealing myself as a writer… and possibly as a nudist as well, I will count on the Cobble Sisters to make certain important points about life and love and laughter… and how you can have all three while walking around naked.

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Filed under doll collecting, foolishness, horror writing, humor, NOVEL WRITING, nudes, Paffooney, photo paffoonies, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Books That Make You Hurt

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Yes, I read this book.  Yes, it scared the poop out of me.  Yes, it made me cry.  This is a uniquely horrific horror story that is so realistic that you know that it has actually happened in real life somewhere, sometime.  Only the names of the characters would be different.

I have a deep abiding respect for Richard Peck as a writer.  He earned that with his books A Year Down Yonder and A Long Way from Chicago.  Those books made me laugh so hard it blew chocolate milk out of my nose.  And, yes, I was drinking chocolate milk at the time.  They are so realistic because the people in those stories are real people.  I know those people personally.  Of course, they have different names in real life.

But Are You In the House Alone? is a very different book from those other two masterpieces.  It tears your heart out and eats your liver because it is a first person narrative in the voice of a high school girl being stalked by a sexual predator.  Everything that happens to Gail in the high school, at home, and at the house where she babysits is hyper-real with horror movie levels of attention to detail.  I don’t wish to be a spoiler for this well-written book, but the narrator does not die in the book and it definitely does not have a happy ending.  For anyone who has the amount of empathy I do, and in many ways becomes the narrator-character by reading, reading a book like this can physically hurt.  A teacher like me has lived through horrible things like this happening to students before, it even happened to me as a boy, and it adds the slings and arrows of those things being re-lived as you read.

This is not the only book that has ever done this sort of damage to my heart strings.  I remember the pain from the conclusion of Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop.  You root for Little Nell and boo Daniel Quilp.  But the bad guy wins.  No happy ending can linger in the harp-strings of your memory-feeling song as long as a tragic outcome does.  I was there with Scout in that ridiculous costume in the dark when Bob Ewell was attacking her brother Jem in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  That story was filled with wise and laughable things, but the stark horror of that climactic moment nearly wiped all the good feelings away, if not for the heroics of ghostly Boo Radley whose timely intervention brings it all back before the novel ends.  It horrifies me to admit it, but I was there, too, in the moment when the boys all turn on Simon on the beach with their sharpened sticks in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.  They mistook him for the monster.  I still haven’t fully recovered from that reading trauma.

The thing about books that hurt to read which makes it essential that I never try to avoid them, is that they can add more depth and resonance to your soul than any light and fluffy piece ever could.  Life is much more like Lord of the Flies than it is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  I am sadder but wiser for having read Are You In the House Alone?  I am recommending it to other readers like me who don’t so much live to read as they read in order to live.  Not because it is easy and good to read, but because it is hard and essential to read.  It will hurt you.  But it will leave you like it leaves its narrator, damaged, but both alive and purely resolved to carry on.

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Filed under book reports, book review, horror writing, insight, inspiration, irony, old books, reading

Dutiful Dad

Today I go to pick up the family at the airport before noon. They have been visiting my oldest son in Virginia since last Wednesday.  Not exactly a larkish vacation in the middle of the school year, they went there to be with him while he had surgery on Thursday.  The trip caught me at a time when I am simply not well enough to travel, even by airplane.  My arthritic back problem doesn’t allow for long periods of sitting.  So I got to stay at home and take care of the dog and do what housework I could…  You know, the stuff dads are expected to do when they get left out of a family vacation… again.  So, I washed some dishes… but not all of them.  I laundered some bedding… but only my own.  I cut some grass… but only the tall stuff behind the house.  I did enough work that the boss shouldn’t be too mad at me when she returns home.  I did get her car’s oil changed, though I don’t do that myself any more.

But while the cat’s away…

It’s not what you are thinking…

And why are you thinking THAT?

I broke out the paints and HO Model train stuff that needed painting, updating, and repair.

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Fun for me may be defined differently than it is for you.

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I put snow on buildings with white puff paint where there was never snow before.

A real whee of a time, I know.  But it’s not like I could go out dancing… or singing in the rain.  My life and my jollies are a bit slower and more sedate than they used to be.

I also wrote a bit more of my werewolf novel re-write.  And soon I must go to the airport, so enough of fast and silly Paffooney-making for me.

(**Note**  Paffooney is artwork made by my hand and connected to writing.  It’s not what you were thinking.  And why were you thinking THAT?)

 

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Filed under autobiography, battling depression, being alone, feeling sorry for myself, horror writing, humor, illness, photo paffoonies, playing with toys, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Dark Thinking

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On a quiet back street in Toonerville there is a haunted house.  Obviously four meddling kids and their talking dog are looking around inside, but they won’t find anything.  It is my dark place.  I am the only one that can go inside and discover what truly is there, for the dark things inside are all a part of the dark side of Mickey.

But Mickey doesn’t have a dark side, you try and argue.  Micky is all goofy giggles and nerdy Dungeons and Dragons jokes.  Mickey is all cartoons and silly stories and he makes us all guffaw.

But I can assure you, everyone has a dark side.  Without darkness, how can anyone recognize the light?

So, I have to go inside the old Ghost House every now and then and take stock of all the furniture, and make note of everyone… and every thing that has been living there.  I go in there now because I am starting to rewrite a very dark story that I really have to get down on paper in novel form.  It isn’t a true story.  Ghost stories never are.  But it is full of true things… old hurts, old fears, panics, and ghosts of Christmases Past.

There was the night I was stalked by a large black dog when I was nine and walking home from choir practice at the Methodist Church.  We are talking Hound of the Baskervilles sort of big damn dog.  I knew every dog that lived in town in those days, but I didn’t know that one. Maybe it wasn’t actually hunting me, but I ran the last two blocks to my house that night faster than I ever knew I could run before.

There was that cool autumn afternoon when he grabbed me and pushed me down behind a pile of tractor tires in the neighbor’s yard.  He forcibly got my pants down… and what he did to me… It has taken more than forty years to be able to talk about what happened.  I wasn’t able to talk about it until after I learned that he had died.

There were the nights spent in the emergency room.  Severe potassium depletion… chest pains that could’ve been heart trouble but weren’t… The morning when my blood pressure was so high I thought I was going to die in front of my second period seventh grade English class.  And the terrible waits in the emergency room when someone I loved was serious about suicide… that was the most terrible of all.

I am not frightened by the grim reaper in the same way that Shaggy and Scooby are.  I have spent time in his company too many times for that.  I do not fear him.  In some ways he brings welcome relief.  And I do believe I can beat him in chess and at least tie him in checkers.

So, yeah, the dark resources are all still there… still in place at the bottom of a deep, dark well. Bad things do wait in the future… but they are in the present and the past also.  I am not a slave to fear and evil has no power over me.  So, I think I can safely write a horror story.  And I admit I am not Steven King.  But I don’t want to be him.  I want to be Mickey.  And that is certainly scary enough for me.

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Filed under autobiography, battling depression, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, ghost stories, horror writing, humor, novel plans, photo paffoonies

Lizard Politicians

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This scary-faced man is the nutball known as David Icke.  My essay today is not about him, but about his amazing conspiracy theory that puts to rest once and for all the notion that intelligent life exists on the planet Earth.  His theory clearly shows that the correct answer to the notion is, “No, there is absolutely no intelligent life on the planet Earth.”

Seriously… this man believes there is a race of reptilian aliens living in the center of the planet Earth which is apparently hollow.  But not content to live in the center of the Earth and kidnap people to eat, they morph into human form and replace world leaders and important humans with cold-blooded reptilian aliens.  Queen Elizabeth of England is one.  Both Presidents Bush are also aliens.  He offers as proof that sometimes they begin to let their disguises drop and photos have been taken that reveal the true nature of these disguised individuals.  Particularly if they are photographed or videoed poorly.

Or, you know, maybe the photos were altered slightly to bring out the change.

And you know that this theory must be true.  David Icke has all those years as a soccer commentator to back up the validity of his analysis.

Anyway… I believe he is right.  At least, metaphorically speaking.  Many of the bad guys that keep winning  against the odds and the interests of the American people are obviously cold-blooded lizards underneath.  Especially Republicans.

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Notice the simpering lizard grin.  The self-satisfied smile of a blood-drinker who has recently slaked his thirst on the blood of other immigrants.  He is elected by a State that is is largely made up of Hispanic immigrants, yet his idea of immigration reform centers around deportation and cruelty to people who nominally share the same cultural background as he does.  He loves to eat machine-gun bacon, cooked on the hot barrel of an assault weapon that it is his sacred second-amendment right to own and to open carry.  He is ever ready to stand his ground and shoot down anyone whom he might perceive as a threat, including, no doubt food-stamp-fed grandmothers and their children… or rather “Abuelas y nietos”.  It is not hard to believe in his cold-bloodedness.  And since he is obviously the darling of the Koch Brothers and other scions of the greedy right, it is easy to believe that he eats little children for breakfast.  Or at least wants to take public assistance  monies away from them to give it out in tax breaks to the wealthy corporate elites.tea-party-idiots-ryan

Senator Tedhkruzh

Senator Tedhkruzh, the lizard-man from the doomed planet Galtorr Prime.

These lizard politicians have sympathy for no one but the wealthy and the powerful, most of which are also presumably lizard people.  And now that the Trumpasaurus Rex has taken over the White House, the lizard people are going to feast, stripping the bones of the poor and the helpless, along with the ground meat from the withering middle class.

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Does all of this nonsense about lizards scare you?  If it doesn’t, it probably should.  But none of it is my fault.  If you have to blame someone… it’s David Icke’s conspiracy theory.

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Filed under aliens, angry rant, horror writing, humor, monsters, Paffooney, politics, satire

Terrible Trumpkin Trolls

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A new Sith Lord has arisen to take charge of the new GOP Totally Dominant Empire of Evil.  He has successfully usurped the throne of power even though the Democratic candidate actually got over a million more votes than he did.

And one of the most surprising things about it is how accidentally the pieces of the Republican Empire seem to have fallen into place.

Lord Trump has benefitted from several evil and self-serving plots that the Republicans have been advancing since the rule of Lord Darth Ronny.  Reagan appointed Scalia of the Many Scales to the Supreme Court.  Scalia and Roberts (a minion appointed by Darth George W. the Rodeo Clown) created the Citizen’s United plan to bathe evil candidates in blood money from billionaires.  They also conspired to loosen the grip of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to allow voter suppression to run rampant in places like Florida, Texas, and North Carolina (two of which should’ve gone blue instead of red without the interference).  The FBI, led by Republican minion Comey, managed to keep the email scandal alive right up until the very week of the election even though they had to admit no evidence of wrong-doing was ever uncovered.  And it seems that the Russian hackery of emails and the publishing of them by Wikileaks might even be connected to statistical anomalies from districts where electronic voting machines were used.  Clinton may have lost 30,000 votes dropped by voting machines in Pennsylvania where she lost the State by 27,000.

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Of course, the victory conditions were not really set up to benefit Donald Trump.  The Republicans had intended all along to get a more competent Sith apprentice into the seat of ascendancy like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or even, if forced to, a (shudder) moderate like John Kasich.  But Trump used incendiary rhetoric to fill the downtrodden masses who are suffering from the demise of the middle class with hatred and blame-bombs, effectively turning them into a vast army of Trolls.  And, unfortunately for the rest of us, Trumpkin Trolls are much better shots than stormtroopers ever were.  All that time in the NRA paid off.

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So, simply by accidentally taking the power for himself, Lord Trump has killed us all.  Yes, I mean literally.  He will pull us out of climate-change agreements and revitalize the use of coal to turn this planet into Venus where it is more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit on the surface due to rampant greenhouse effects.

And he has plans to put racists, warhawks, misogynists, and criminals in the highest positions of power.  If you don’t believe me, investigate the background of Sith Apprentice Steve Bannon even just a little bit.   He claims darkness is a good thing.

“Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when they (liberals) get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing,” Bannon said in an interview published Friday, his first outside of Breitbart since the election.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/18/politics/steve-bannon-donald-trump-hollywood-reporter-interview/

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One might imagine that Trump Ice Cream would be Nazi flavored.

I know people who voted for Trump.  They are not racists and do not share some of the hateful ideas these Trolls embrace as their own.  I imagine they feel betrayed already by Lord Trump.  If they don’t, they should.

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Trump celebrated his rise to the top of the Sith leadership with a scary Trump-head cake.  Presumably during the celebration, at some point, they ate his head.

 

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Filed under feeling sorry for myself, horror writing, humor, politics, rants, satire