Category Archives: illustrations

Cover Creation Once Again

As I am now thoroughly committed to the next book, The Wizard in his Keep, I have also been working on the little matter of what you put on the cover of the book.

I started with a picture of two important characters, the video-game characters Hoodwink and Babbles (the horse-headed Kelpie).

Next came the color step.

Which leads to the need for a background.

And then we edit it and composite it.

And hopefully it makes you at least a little bit interested in the story.

Leave a comment

Filed under illustrations, novel, novel plans

Character Developments

If I am ever going to sound at all like an author talking about his craft, then I guess there is really no better place to start than with character development.

This is the first illustration in my work in progress, The Wizard in his Keep.

One of the most important factors in starting a new novel is how you put together the jigsaw-puzzle pieces that are the characters. I have had the characters in my head since about 1974. Daisy Brown and her two younger brothers, Johnny and little Mortie (short for Mortimer Snerdly Brown, named after his Great Grandpa Mortie and his Grand Uncle Snerdly) are the three characters that the story starts with on the night of the car accident.

Notice that the plot throws the three children above directly into a conflict right from the start. They were all in the back seat of the car. Their parents were in the front. Dad (who’s name is Brom, short for Bromley Mortimer Brown) has a bad reputation for reckless driving and being an alcoholic. He is driving. But he is sober. Mom (who’s name is Stacey Clarke Brown) is in the front passenger-side seat. Both of them are killed in the wreck. (Ironically the young man who hit them also dies, but he is the one guilty of drinking and driving on the night of the accident.) Some of those details come out in the first two chapters. Some of those details never actually come out in the course of the story. That’s the thing about characters, the author must have an idea of all the important details of their lives from early on in the creation process. But many of those details are not necessary to use in the story. You just need them so that you sound like you know them as you write about them.

Let me start by describing the development of my protagonist, Daisy Stacey Brown. She has been the protagonist of this tale since 1974. She was originally based on the younger of my two younger sisters. That is where the adventurous spirit comes from. And the slightly ditsy quality of her highly-imaginative inner monologue comes basically from my sister’s daughter who was born about 1993-ish (and the story, of course, happens in 1996, so it is based more on the present form of my niece shoe-horned into Daisy’s fifteen-year-old skinny body). Daisy is followed as the focus-character in a third-person-limited-point-of-view narrative. Here is a sample of that described in the story’s opening and filtered through Daisy’s unique brain;

The sound of the ambulance siren was raucous behind the car, like someone trying to play an AC/DC medley with a circus air-horn.  And a clown playing it who was drunk on too many pre-show hits from the gin bottle in the straw at the bottom of the lion cage.

It kinda made Daisy smile to think of that analogy.  She needed something like that to get her mind off what had happened that horrible night, a mere half an hour before.

I haven’t given any physical descriptions of Daisy in the first chapter of the story. Those things are slipped in later in nearly unnoticeable bits and drops. The fact that she has strawberry-red curly hair doesn’t get said until well after the reader sees it in the black-and-white illustration. Her skinniness, pale coloring, and awkwardness will be in descriptions that happen later in separate and isolated spots.

Far more important is the way her mind works, which I try to show rather than tell. She is one of those people who is both innocent without being ignorant, and imaginative without being merely random.

Other characters will be established too with an eye on what they are like at the beginning, and a mindfulness of what they will become as the plot changes them over time.

Johnny is a sad-sack introvert who blossoms as he overcomes problems associated with the initial tragedy. He grows as he proves to himself that he is neither a coward nor a fool.

Mortie is unflappable from beginning to end in the way small children often are. He possesses a powerful sense of wonder that overwhelms fear and sadness over his losses.

That is probably enough of an insight into how I am shaping these characters for now. If you look inside this process too closely, and compare it to my last post, I run the risk of letting you see how I may be using this story to process my own upcoming loss of a parent. The pandemic and my father’s Parkinson’s disease ironically is hitting this story with enough irony to iron out more than just the wrinkles. It may well iron me flat.

Leave a comment

Filed under characters, humor, illustrations, novel writing, Paffooney, work in progress, writing, writing teacher

Space Laughs

When I was in college, I met and fell in love with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams. I also read, in close conjunction with that book and its sequels, Frank Herbert’s Dune series. I vowed then that I would combine these two different kinds of science fiction to write my own big-book epic. At that time it was called The Dream-Flood and it was basically the story of Astro-nut Robin (inspired by Robin Hood) and his band of Merry Mutant Space Freaks. It was a jumble of bad jokes and weird science and not worth keeping. But some of the characters I created managed to stow away in my stupid head to come back into my writing whenever the opportunity came.

When I became a public school teacher in South Texas, I fell deeply in love with game-mastering for Dungeons and Dragons games with high school boys who had once been in my middle school English classes. Of course, after three years of that, the Southern Baptists in town decided that D&D was Satanic and full of demons, so I had to stop that story-telling nonsense or be driven out of town. So, enough of that. I was not leaving teaching. I was also not stopping story-telling. I switched from playing with wizards and warriors to a game called Traveller from Game Designers Workshop. Spacemen and laser-rifles.

Games inevitably were subject to the whims and humors of the players. And the players were teenage boys of the mega-nerd variety. So, they would blow planets up for laughs. They would make jokes out of serious events and turn side adventures and subplots into the main story.

It was gold for science-fiction humor.

The result of all of this was that when I lost a teaching job and had an unplanned year off, I wrote the novel AeroQuest. It was a novelization of the basic story of that Traveller game. It was a terrible novel. But I got it published without paying a dime with a terrible publisher, the criminals at Publish America. Once that terrible contract expired, and I had become a better writer, I began rewriting and illustrating it to become five terrible novels.

As of yesterday, the first three of those five are now published.

2 Comments

Filed under aliens, artwork, humor, illustrations, novel, novel plans, Paffooney, publishing, science fiction

The Art of the Faery Tale

Definition of Faery. 1. Noun. A small being, human in form, playful and having magical powers.
Faery Tales are a thing for me because I have lived so much more of my life inside my own imagination than I have ever even tried to do outside of it.

Leave a comment

Filed under artwork, fairies, gingerbread, Hidden Kingdom, humor, illustrations, Paffooney

Aeroquest Art So Far

These are the pieces of art and illustrations that are going into the re-writing project of my novel Aeroquest.

I decided to totally rework the novel and illustrate it more fully because it was always supposed to be a science-fiction satire and parody that was more cartoonish than literary.

It is a story about a teacher conquering a space empire. It arose from a science-fiction role-playing game that filled my days in the 1980’s and early 90’s.

It parodies Star Wars, Star Trek, Flash Gordon, Buck Rodgers, Dune, and much more besides. And it includes many of my own wacky inventions about what the future might hold in store.

Here is the original teacher in space and some of his first class of students.

Many of the main characters are based on the actual role-playing characters made up by the boys and young men who played the game with me. Many had to be re-named, however, because, like Tron Blastarr above, they often had movie-character names.

This important character was a parody of Professor X of the X-men, from the comic books and well before the movies.

It was a simple matter to give him psionic powers and transfer him into outer space. Oh, and get him out of the wheel chair too.

The character’s creator was the son of the local high school science teacher.

Ninja powers were a thing with teenage boys in the 80’s.

Combat is an important part of the role-playing game.

We became well-versed on weapons and tactics… and how to manipulate the rolls of the dice… by cheating if necessary.

How else do heroes overcome impossible odds?

Two more player characters that play a critical role in the novels.

Again with the parody characters that came from player-character ideas stolen from TV and the movies.

Aliens are necessary to this kind of story.

I am near to completing this third novel in the series.

The Nebulon aliens, though very human-like, are blue of skin. That is not easy to depict in a black-and-white drawing.

The initial idea for the fourth novel’s cover.

1 Comment

Filed under aliens, artwork, heroes, humor, illustrations, imagination, novel, novel plans, Paffooney

False Steps and Fortune

I finished another re-read of my most recent book, A Field Guide to Fauns. In spite of this being an experiment expected to fail, I read into it a growing sense of my ability to write well. The issues it deals with, mental health, body shame, self-image, and dysfunctional families, are all things critical to my own understanding of myself. All of these things have deeply affected my life and my family’s life. And, being set in a nudist park, it has a certain aura of comedy about it that you can really only achieve with characters who are naked (figurative or literal are both funny).

Ironically, two of my five best books have nudists in them. Six of my fifteen books over all have nudist adventures in them at one point or another. That’s four more more than have Nazis in them. Four more than have werewolves in them. Four more than have zebra puppets in them, as well as four more than have literal clowns in them. And two more than feature aliens from outer space. Five more than have rabbits who are changed into people by science.

If nudity is not funny, then I have seriously miscalculated the appeal and gone entirely down the wrong garden path of humorous story-telling. So, since I now believe The Field Guide to Fauns is one of the best novels I have done, I may have actually laid an egg. (Who knew that farm boys could one day grow up to lay an egg themselves?) For balance I need to plant a few more carrots of irony in that garden that the garden path of humorous writing leads to.

Mandy Clarke, Pinky Pithers, and Tandy Clarke

I am planning to make my newest novel this month’s free-book giveaway sometime next week. I have a few more corrections to make on it before I do, so stay tuned. I don’t like it when I find bugs in the writing on the fourth re-read. But I think I may have sprayed them all with anti-bug proofing spray (figuratively speaking again, because with Mickey, you never know.)

Leave a comment

Filed under humor, illustrations, irony, novel, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, nudes, Paffooney, publishing

AeroQuest Art Day

In the 80’s and early 90’s I played a lot of the science-fiction-role-playing game called Traveller. Those hours and hours of gaming produced the characters and stories I turned into my novel AeroQuest, now AeroQuest 1, 2, and very soon 3. So, most of this artwork is either for the game and was used as a part of it, or the book, used as an illustration.

The Megadeath starship with her motley crew
Junior Aero
Mai Ling on the planet Gaijin
Shen Ming’s Palace on the planet Gaijin
Jadalaqstbr the teleporter and Alec Songh
Gyro the Nebulon and Shaman Billy Iowa

Tiki Astro is an artificial robot boy that looks fully human.

Tron Blastarr and Hassan the Peri Elf
Junior Aero, Nebulon adopted son of Ham Aero

Leave a comment

Filed under aliens, artwork, humor, illustrations, Paffooney, science fiction

Saturday Art Day Again

Yep, it’s lazy-post time again, where all I do is show you pictures from my media gallery. All of it is original art by me, photographed or scanned by me. I don’t know enough about copyright law to say I hold all rights to this artwork, but I am gonna claim I do anyway.

“The Sucker” 1980
“Superchicken and Sherry”, composited 2015
“Brekka and Menolly and Mickey Mouse Club Music” 2014
“Mr. Reluctant Rabbit, English Teacher” 2015
“The Adventuress” 1992
“the Skater Girl” 1994
“The incompetent Necromancer” 2015
“Scraggles the Old Mouse-Catcher” tooned 2019

Leave a comment

Filed under artwork, cartoons, humor, illustrations, Paffooney

Art Day Novel Illustrations

One of the main things I have been focusing on in my art work is the art of illustration. For example, this is a character illustration for the book The Boy… Forever.

This illustration is also from the book The Boy… Forever. It is a pen-and-ink illustration of a moment in the story when Anita Jones and Sherry Cobble are being held prisoner through mind control by the evil vampire/dragon, Tian Long.

The boy is Tanis, a living mummy from ancient Egypt, kept alive by a horrible process the villain is intending to use on at least one of the imprisoned girls.

This illustration is part of the exposition from my comedy science fiction novel, AeroQuest 3 ; Juggling Planets. It explains about the residents of the planet Djinnistan being genetically engineered humans with bizarre characteristics.

The evil Dr. Havir Bludlust has created these humanoid mutants to aid the human star empire known as the Imperium to make excessive profits from the people they supposedly govern, but actually enslave.

A heroine from AeroQuest 3
One of the dragons from The Boy… Forever.
A late-for-class illustration from The Boy… Forever
Another novel I am working on at present with many illustrations is A Field Guide to Fauns.
The rest of these illustrations will be from A Field Guide to Fauns.

The novel takes place in a nudist park where the main characters are mostly year-around residents, it is also the reason why they appear nude in a majority of the illustrations. It is not a book of pornography, however, just as being in a nudist park is about living a sensual, nature-filled life, and not about people having sex. I will not categorize this as a young-adult novel, though it will be tame enough for kids to read.

Devon, the main character, loves to draw. Hence, the illustrations are drawn by him.

This is Devon Martinez’s self-portrait. He tends to draw people as mythological creatures like fauns, satyrs, and nymphs.

He tells the story in first-person narrative. He doesn’t start out as a nudist. But he is thrust into the middle of it because he is forced by a tragedy to move in with his father, stepmother, and twin stepsisters.

They are full-time residents of a nudist park. To live there, he has to get comfortable being naked.

Part of what the story does is define what Devon thinks a faun is and how they should be treated. Hence, the central metaphor introduced in the title.
Devon at his job as a handy-man’s assistant.
A faun and his stepsister as a nymph.
Jose, an example of a satyr.
Devon wearing a suit. It is not a 100% nude novel.

Leave a comment

Filed under artwork, humor, illustrations, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, surrealism

Curiouser and Curiouser

I finished a possible cover for my work in progress, A Field Guide to Fauns. It is a book about re-forming families from tragedies and divorce. It is also about suicidal thoughts and depression. And it takes place in a nudist park where the family has a permanent trailer.

This book will definitely be about some of my own experiences with these things and issues. And I hope to distill a bit of high-quality wisdom from this brewing novel. After all, when it comes to depression and battling it, I have deep scars and burned-in notions of how you overcome them. It is ironic that I know so much about fighting depression and darkness, even though it was mostly about the depression of other people, not me.

I have come to know how to stitch families together out of used and discarded parts. Hopefully not creating a new monster. And again, it is ironic that I know this mostly from other families, not ours.

The book is flowing, practically writing itself. And that is always a sign of a big idea turning itself into a great novel. I look forward to finding out what happens in each and every next chapter… or, in this case, Canto.

Leave a comment

Filed under battling depression, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, finding love, humor, illustrations, novel, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney