Category Archives: novel plans

Living On After Writing

I finished a novel over the weekend. It was one of those novels that you have to write before you die because anything short of finishing it would leave your whole life incomplete.

So, now that it is finished, I can go ahead and die, right?

4clownsWell, of course, it is not as simple as that.  I created a cover for it.  But it is not proofread and formatted and I have to give it time to cool down, being fresh out of the oven, before I read it over again, make adjustments, and publish it.  And I have two other novel drafts that haven’t yet reached the published state of being.  So, I better put off dying for just a bit.  Any clown can tell you that giving birth to a novel that you have been composing for 4o years and writing down for six months takes a lot out of you.  And you have to stop and take a breath.  At least one.  Before you forge ahead with the next one.  I do have Recipes for Gingerbread Children already formatted and I am working through the final edit.  I am still in poor health yet and could drop dead at any moment.  My computer is all funky from some sort of virus, hopefully not computer flu… or computer black death.  So, I am still in a mad rush to beat an unknown deadline beyond which I am really dead.

I don’t have the luxury of dying yet.

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I have to deal with the death of another beloved character,  I can’t seem to write a comedy adventure novel without killing somebody at the end of it.  Shakespearian comedies all end in marriages, and it is the tragedies that end in mass deaths.  But like any clown, I have most things backward in my life.  You learn that as a teacher in public schools, you really are just another form of professional fool pursuing your profession foolishly.  That is kinda what life is for.  And it doesn’t change when you retire and try to become a foolish writer of foolish novels to leave behind as a foolish legacy to a whole foolish world.

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But, as for the question of whether there is life after writing… I really don’t know, and I am still not ready to find out.

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Filed under autobiography, humor, illness, new projects, novel, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Through the Valley of the Shadow

 

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As I wake up every morning feeling more and more foggy-headed and lethargic, more like I barely managed to survive the night, I am aware I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.   I even passed out for a few minutes as I wrote this intro.  I don’t know how long I actually have left.  I no longer have the funds to get tested by the cardiologist, the urologist, or the endocrinologist every time a pain or a lightheadedness concerns me.  I may not still be here when morning comes around again.  But I fear no evil.  When I finish reading the last page of a good book and close the book, I don’t mourn that the reading experience has ended.  I exult in the wonderful story I have read or marvel at the lessons and learning the book has taught me.  The end of my life will be like that.  My life is not one that must be regretted.

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The thing about having a shadow hanging over you is that it can be totally defeated by adding a little sunshine.  I have never been a better writer than I am now.  I am nearing the end of what seems to me to be the best novel I have ever written.  I felt that same way as Catch a Falling Star was being written, and it proved to be true.  I won the Rising Star Award and the Editor’s Choice Award from I-Universe publishing which has them on the phone with me again trying to find ways to fund the marketing they think it deserves in spite of my total lack of money.  I also thought Snow Babies was the best thing I had ever written, even better than Catch a Falling Star.  And the publisher I found for that one thought so too, right up to the moment when my curse as an unknown writer killed their little publishing company.  I feel really good about Sing Sad Songs as it continues to basically write itself.  So what if I never live to see any of my books yield success?  The fact that I have caused them to exist is enough to fulfill me.  It is enough to satisfy me.  Of course, I do have more stories in me that need to be told.  That is motivation enough to stay alive and keep writing.

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Francois singing a sad song.

It is the valley of the shadow of death, however.  A novel character I love is about to die.  It seems there are a lot of my novels that end with a death even though they are all basically comic novels, full of things that at least make me laugh.  But I fear no evil.  Thy rod and thy staff,  the stick that whacks me when I misstep and the shepherd’s crook that rescues me from dark crevices, they comfort me.  I will continue to pass through.

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Filed under humor, insight, inspiration, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, religion, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Why I’m on This Aeroquest

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For those of you who are breathlessly following the weekly episodes from my first published mess of a novel, I apologize that I am not following through on my regular Tuesday feature today.  Of course, I know that the number of regular followers of this novel is actually zero.  Understandable because of what a confusing mess it is.  But I need to explain things anyway.

This whole saga began back in 2006 when I had time on my hands from being laid off from my teaching job by the Wicked Witch of Creek Valley.  I had two years worth of substitute teaching because said witch first hired me for my teaching philosophy, and then fired me for implementing it in my classroom.  (She had never actually been a teacher herself, just an administrator.)  I found myself with ample time to do a lot of writing, and I created my first published novel.  It was inspired by Frank Herbert’s Dune saga combined with Douglas Adams’s Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series.  So, naturally, it was doomed from the very start because it had too many characters in a long and rambling plot that was three novels too long in only one novel.

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And on top of those serious rookie-writer mistakes, I added getting it published long before I actually had it ready for publishing with a fly-by-night publishing house called Publish America whom I can safely ridicule and defame here after they have been sued by authors numerous times because my contract with them expired in 2014, well after the company had morphed and changed its name to avoid paying any of their authors damages.  They did all the things they were accused of in lawsuits to my book.  They published it without reading it (proven by some of their authors who copied and pasted Wikipedia pages and got the company to publish that in book form).  They screwed up my chapter numbers and font styles intentionally to get me to pay for publishable revisions.  And they marketed my book only to friends and family for five times the price of a normal paperback.  They were the worst publishers I ever dealt with.  But in the end, I didn’t pay them a cent.  My relatives, however, bought the horrible book and refused ever after to fall for buying another Mickey Book.

The result is a large pile of garbage chapters with some good things and funny moments in them that I can use to mess around with, rewrite, reorganize, post here weekly, and eventually form into new novels.  That’s why I claim that this Tuesday feature is about novel writing in categories and tags.  I will take the first part of this mess and whip it up into a new book called Aeroquest 1: Stars and Stones.

It will have the whole first adventure on the planet Don’t Go Here where the entire planet’s population is trying to live within an episode of the Flintstones cartoon show.  It will reach the point where the three main characters will split up and go their separate ways, Ged Aero becoming the prophesied teacher of Psions known as the White Spider, Ham Aero becoming the rebel hero in the fight against the Imperium, and Trav “Goofy” Dalgoda taking his chaotic clown act to depths of dangerous depravity.  I am not, of course, trying to claim it will be good for anything.  But never let it be said that Mickey ever wasted a really bad idea.  Or even a really, really bad idea.  Or a terrible idea.  Or… well, you get the picture if you were fool enough to read this far.  If you put in that kind of effort, you certainly deserve to give yourself a “Yay me!” in the comments.

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Filed under aliens, artwork, goofiness, humor, novel, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, publishing, satire, science fiction

Cover Creation

My goal, as I learn how to be a better self-published author, is to do all my own artwork.  This is one of the advantages I have over working with the other publishers I have published books with.  Page Publishing, to be fair, did use my artwork.  But they also controlled the cover design (since that was what I was paying for).

Planning to publish two more novels this winter, I am working ahead to create effective covers.  So let me show you how I fumbled together a cover today.

Here are the artwork elements that I started with;

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I then put the elements together with a photo-editing program.

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I then added the finishing touches with the paint program.

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I can probably be satisfied with this result.  But I am a fickle artsy-fartsy type who will probably fuss it all up well before I actually use it.

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Filed under art editing, novel plans, Paffooney, publishing, Uncategorized

Character References, Part 3

When choosing who’s picture to publish of all the many made-up people that live in my head and my fiction, I often wonder, do I have an accurate sense of who is important and who is merely minor?  I offer now some characters I don’t feel comfortable leaving out.

Mazie Haire

Mazie Haire

One of the Haire Sisters, rumored to be a witch, and proud to prove it to you, Mazie is a severe and highly focused individual with a knack for seeing and convincing you of the truth.  So, maybe she really is a witch.

She appears in;

Snow Babies

 

 

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Milton John Morgan (Milt)

I can’t tell you about the witch without mentioning the wizard.  Milt Morgan is the Merlin of the Norwall Pirates (an adventuring gang and 4-H softball team).

He is one of the founders of the gang and the one who got them into the most trouble in the 1970’s.

He appears in;

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The Baby Werewolf

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Torrie Brownfield

Torrie is the hair-everywhere boy with hypertrichosis, the werewolf-hair disease.  He was genetically doomed to life looking like a werewolf.  He was discovered living in hiding in Norwall by the Pirates’ gang who decided they simply had to make him a member.

He is, of course, the main character of;

The Baby Werewolf

And also appears in;

Recipes for Gingerbread Children

 

Harker

Harker Dawes

Harker is a clown-character based on a real person living in the real town of Norwall.  He buys the local hardware store and runs the business into bankruptcy.  He is not only a ne’er-do-well, but he also is a truly loveable fool.

He plays a key role in;

Snow Babies

He is also in the upcoming novel;

Fools and Their Toys

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Dilsey Murphy

Dilsey is Mike’s slightly older sister who seems to be in a lot of my stories.  She is a tomboy and a Daddy’s girl.  She is also beloved by her irascible Grampy, Cudgel Murphy.  Mike Murphy both hates her and loves her, but mostly just depends on her.

She is in;

Magical Miss Morgan

The Bicycle-Wheel Genius

and a large number of upcoming stories

 

 

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Sean “Cudgel” Murphy

Grampy of the Murphy Clan, Cudgel is the meanest old man you’d ever want to meet.  He is excellently suited to the job of teaching kids to swear.  And he only drives his Austin Hereford, “The finest car made anywhere in the whole goddam world in 1954!”

He appears in;

Snow Babies

The Bicycle-Wheel Genius

Crooner

Francois Martin

Francois, the French orphan, is the main character in my current manuscript,

Sing Sad Songs.

He paints his face in clown paint and sings beautifully enough to save his Uncle’s business.  I am halfway finished with this new novel.

So, now I feel like I have exhausted myself in character introductions and will probably eschew a “Part 4”.  But with Mickey, there are no guarantees.

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Filed under characters, humor, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Getting Back to the Writing in my Heart

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I successfully prepared for the possible death of my beloved laptop, and that foresight managed to save a lot of the art and written work that was stored there.  What is lost to me because I ran out of time to back everything up is not beyond my ability to retrieve it.  I not only backed up files on thumb drives in triplicate, I managed to send copies of my completed manuscripts to both of my sisters as well as my oldest son.  I have been almost paranoid about preserving my creations.

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And the reason for that is not because of the onset of mental illness, or obsessive compulsive disorder, although those are probably both factors, but because the most valuable possession I have acquired in my life is the story I have to tell.

The novel I am working on now is going to be the most powerful and complex that I have yet done.  I am confident that it will also be the best I have done.  I wrote what I believe are good novels before this one. I like to think that if people bother to actually read Catch a Falling Star, Snow Babies, The Bicycle-Wheel Genius, and The Baby Werewolf, they will think so too.  Editors have told me that my work is as good or better than some of the good books published by Random House and Penguin Books, and they know from having worked for those publishing houses.  And I waited to write this one because Sing Sad Songs is so good that I had to learn the skills necessary to write it before I tried to get the story down on paper.

Francois the singing boy is based on a real-life student whom I loved and taught and eventually lost tragically.  His talent changed the world for me, even if it didn’t last long enough to change the worlds of so many more people that he could’ve touched had he lived even a little longer.  And I am the only person who can possibly tell this important story.

I made myself cry for ten minutes by writing that last paragraph.  But don’t be sad for me.  Remember, I am a humorist.  I take the tragedies I have known and try to weave it into stuff that makes you laugh twice as much as it makes you cry.  You know, that stuff we loosely refer to as comedy.  And that’s what this story is about, laughing at everything in life except for those few things that make you have to cry.  Writing is about expressing feelings and describing how conflict is navigated in order to find the love or the love lost on the other side of conflict that is what the world is really about.

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I know this all sounds like hyperbole… bragging even.  I probably will never pull off the actual creation of the monster, certainly not without consequences, torches and pitchforks, and such…  But it is the reason for all the labor, the back-up plans and paranoia, and the notion that I just might’ve reached the level of skill necessary to bring it all to life.

And I am writing again.  Not even the death of a computer has been able to stop me.

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Filed under artwork, clowns, goofy thoughts, humor, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, writing humor

My Music is Better Than Yours…

My next novel, the one I have just started the first draft of, is a novel about music and dreams.  Sing Sad Songs is the title, unless I decide to change it back into Sing Sad Songs… with Clowns.

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I have an insane urge to write my next novel as music.  I intend to have it narrated in first person by three different characters, none of whom are themselves the main character.  So there are three back-up singers to the lead singer who carries the tune and drives the plot forward.

And there will be death and murder in this music, as well as a touch of the H.P. Lovecraft’s Dreamlands.  And together we will transcend genre and the borders of a single novel and common sense entirely.  Can I do it?  Of course not.  Metaphors are never literally true… even if Bible thumpers claim they are, invoking God as the author.  But it will be the biggest, most complex, and difficult novel I have ever written.  The writing of it may kill me.  But if it works, it will be worth it.

Hyperbole, you say?  An oxymoron come to life?  Well, of course it is.  Believe the worst about it, and it will become true.  But if I believe the best about it…  well, we shall see what we shall see.

I mean to try.

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