Category Archives: novel plans

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

New Project Needs a Cover

In order to write a novel, once the idea develops staying power, I have a need to make a cover for it. So, today, I am fashioning a cover for He Rose on a Golden Wing.

I started with this image which took me three weeks to put together with pen and colored pencil It is a picture of Valerie Clarke, not wearing any visible clothing and smiling with a Mona Lisa, not-quite-identifiable smile.

I then swiped and altered a couple of Pinterest winter scenes to alter and use as backgrounds. This does not adequately portray the crucial frozen Iowa pond setting from the novel. And red is not the color I need for a matte.

Here is a second attempt. Blue is better.

Here is the same cover with a more readable title.

And here is what it will look like if the Amazon cover-creator will allow it.

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Filed under artwork, novel plans, Paffooney, Uncategorized

Novel Tuesday Review

This novel should see publication within a month… or maybe more, depending on how lazy I really am.

For some time now I have been using Tuesdays to show an entire chapter or canto of a novel currently being written. It has resulted in a number of novels being created that I might otherwise have given up on. They may not be my absolute best work, but they are good enough for self-published projects. I have basically been working with novels that needed to be rewritten in order to pass muster with my own in-built “crap detector.” I took apart my first novel, Aeroquest, and turned it into five novels, AeroQuest 1,2,3 and now 4 with 5 soon to begin.

This will be the next novel I take up in this space. It is the tail-end lump of remains of the original novel including the final battle for dominance in the fractured Galtorr Imperium, the rescue of Ged Aero’s infant daughter, the final establishment of the New Star League, and avoiding the destruction of the entire universe in a struggle at the event horizon of a black hole called Little Swirl. I only have to add about 75 percent more detail, action, and event to the story in rewriting it.

You may have also seen other novels come into being in this Tuesday space. Here are the results of those.

These Tuesday posts, then, have been and will continue to be a chance for you to see novels in progress coming together (or failing to come together) as the author (namely nutty old Mickey) works out what they are all about and what happens on the next page written.

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Filed under humor, novel plans, novel writing, Paffooney, publishing, science fiction, self portrait, writing humor

The Making of a Paffooney

There is a certain amount of worry now in Mickeytown. My hands have begun to tremble. I see things that aren’t there. I have become excessively forgetful. Possibly Parkinson’s… but not diagnosed by a doctor yet.

Maybe it’s only paranoia… but that’s a Parkinson’s symptom too.

And it worries me because I need to be able to draw new Paffoonies. But it is definitely becoming harder.

Yesterday, when my computer was breaking down again, the scanner miraculously reconnected itself and began to work.

I scanned this old pen-and-ink drawing.

Do I know why I drew it, or what it is supposed to be about?

I do not.

But I can still swirl colored pencils and color within the lines, at least as well as I did when I was nine.

You may remember this one from yesterday,

Of course, forgetful me, I couldn’t remember where I had stored my best art pencils. I had to crack open the bag of old school pencils that I still have from my last hurrah as a Texas pedagogue (a word that means a teacher of children, not that other thing that the evil-minded ones among you were probably thinking.)

So, now I have a colored picture of a young-girl space traveler. What to do with it?

Like any old mad god who makes a girl come to life like this (old mad god of colored pencils, a little “g” god, not a blasphemous big “G” one,) I needed to name her and give her a story, a purpose in life.

So, I called her Cissy Moonskipper (a suitably satirical and comic sort of name playing off of Luke Skywalker.)

And I stranded her on a family-owned free-trader starship, alone in deep space. Her family is gone permanently. The ship has everything she needs to survive. She is a sole-survivor on a deserted island in deep space in an unexplored star system. And all she has is a starship owner’s manual and a copy of the novel Robinson Crusoe.

So, I added a background and now I have started a new book idea. That is essentially what a Paffooney is. Words and pictures by little ol’ me.

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Filed under aliens, characters, humor, illustrations, new projects, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, satire, science fiction

Ending the Story

The first chapter of the story of my life does not open with my birth. It begins with my first memories around the age of three or four, when I first really became aware and my mind began seriously pulling itself together. Similarly, it will not ultimately end the final chapter when the lights go out and I pass away. I myself will not be able to write that particular sentence because, as I die, I probably won’t be in the act of writing about it.

This topic comes up because I have been thinking long and hard about how my AeroQuest series is going to end.

The original story in my terrible first-published novel has been divided into five different parts. Admittedly they are not as stand-alone in nature as I had originally intended.

Of course, since it all evolved from an on-going role-playing game, it was never really supposed to have an end point. And if I manage to finish this number-five novel, I already have a story to fill the number-six novel. It will be called Galactic Fire and the story is already tied to the other five.

At the same time, I am rewriting and updating Stardusters and Space Lizards. This too is an ongoing story. As a sequel to Catch a Falling Star, it takes up the tale of the aliens who tried and failed to invade a small town in Iowa. It takes them to a dying planet where the population of meat-eating lizard people are determined to make themselves extinct.

So, naturally, this book has the problem of the need to kill characters who are not the villain. Characters I have come to love. One of the characters shown on this new cover was supposed to tragically die during the climactic battle of the book. It began my awareness of how I can’t seem to end a novel without killing characters.

Of my fifteen existing novels, only Superchicken and A Field Guide to Fauns make it to the end of the story without killing a character.

I am lucky society doesn’t charge authors with murder for killing off characters in their books. After all, we fiction writers are a murderous lot. And characters are real people, at least to the author.

But, life as a story, is like that. Nobody that we have photographs of makes it out alive. And all the exceptions to the general rule may be highly metaphorical in actual reality.

The character in my initial Paffooney, Orben Wallace from The Bicycle-Wheel Genius, is a good example of the ongoing nature of life’s story. I call that book a prequel-equal-sequel because it tells a story that begins before Catch a Falling Star, includes some of the same story as that book, and ends with a story that occurs well after the other story departs for outer space.

I fully expect my own life to end its story like that one did. There is a story that comes both before and after. Birth-to-death stories are always part of something larger. And it is all connected.

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Filed under aliens, characters, commentary, humor, novel plans, novel writing, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, writing, writing humor

Revision and Editing

I have recently embarked on a side project of rereading my own books, marking up the errors, awkwardnesses , and inconsistencies I find in them. In other words, I am giving them a complete third or fourth edit.

In some cases this leads to the opportunity to add illustrations and tweaks to the formatting.

In other cases it offers me the opportunity to remove things that will bother future readers who react to things in ways that I don’t totally understand, but definitely want to avoid giving offense more than I want be controversial.

Some things are not negotiable. The fact that Blueberry Bates is a transgender character is something I mean to defend. It that offends someone, that reflects a prejudice on their part, not mine. I have known real transgender people, and their existence should not be offensive to anyone with a drop of Christian or moral decency in their bloodstream.

No young person should ever have to go through the pain and humiliation the person this character is based on had to endure in real life. No one should be driven to suicide or self-destructive thoughts just because their body doesn’t match the gender in their brains.

But I did change the details in Sing Sad Songs that offended one reviewer. While I still think the physical intimacy alluded to in the story (and I do mean “alluded to” as it was not actually depicted in the scene, only mentioned) was not inappropriate, the story does not suffer from changing the act to a mere embarrassing first kiss. In fact, I kinda regret not making that specific change sooner. Although I am sure that reviewer would still have managed to be offended.

I had thought to make this essay about my novel-writing process an essay about censorship. But the whole project is not censorship. I am changing things now not because my urge to self-censor has come about due to a sudden change to prudishness. I still believe that I am a nudist in my soul even though I am almost never naked. And I still believe that children have sex lives and are entitled to them. I am just being more cautious with how the stories will connect to readers, and I wish to be more sensitive to the characters’ rights to privacy (especially in view of the fact that some of my characters are modeled on real people from my past)(and some of those are actual nudists.)

This essay is about reconsidering and revising my work to make it more effective and sensitive to the needs of the reader. I am not a child pornographer, and I don’t want my work to be looked at in that way. Just as when I was teaching, I never actually touched the children physically (accept for a few accidents, moments of crisis, and breaking up fights) I don’t want to violate young people in my writing. I am not removing all mentions of abuse from stories. But those things are done by antagonists and characters in stories, not by the author in how he or she chooses to describe things.

Vincent Price’s Christmas Tree

A writer can’t really change who he or she is, and she or he can’t really change the basic way by which he or she writes. But you can always revise and edit.

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Filed under humor, novel plans, novel writing, writing

To Have the Power…

I have been struggling with my goals for this week. I wanted to publish my novel, The Wizard in His Keep. I also wanted to go get my vote in at an early-voting polling place. But I had to get my phone repaired because the battery was failing. I needed a reliable phone if I had to wait in a long voting line, which it seems we are actually having. My health has been poor. I didn’t want to pass out in line and cause an emergency without a working phone. I had to get battery power to pull this off.

Last weekend my computer crashed and it turns out my Google account may have been hacked… again. I had to recover the account and change a ton of passwords. I have had to check accounts repeatedly without using my computer. But, even though it delayed my final edit and publication by a couple of days, I got the manuscript and cover submitted last night. The e-book is already live on Amazon. The paperback will also be available soon.

I managed to order and receive a new phone battery online before the computer crash. But I discovered that my arthritic fingers couldn’t handle the battery installation.

So…

I was able to get the phone working by taking it to the nearest AT&T Store. The guy behind the counter put the battery in my phone for free.

And then today, as I was planning to go vote, I passed out about five times after breakfast. I took what medication I have that is relevant. Early voting is every weekday until the 30th of October. I will have to wait for a better day when I have more physical power to do it.

So, I have overcome all of my goals except for voting. I did it by marshaling power. Battery power by buying a battery. Finger power by relying on the empathy in an AT&T employee for an arthritic old man whose fingers fumble. And I will overcome the voting issue with healing power and will power.

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Filed under artwork, health, humor, novel plans, Paffooney, publishing

Pirates are People Too

Science fiction, even if it is comically trying to exaggerate everything and satirize current-world character types, oh, and parody Star Wars and Star Trek, it still needs to truthfully engage with science facts and the basic truths that make the universe operate.

My book that has space pirates as central characters uses a fundamental truth about people. People who lead hard lives and have a lot of difficulties to overcome tend to become better people. But people who have things handed to them (by inheriting a planet because you are immortal or by the magic powers granted to you by Ancient artifacts) tend to become corrupt and criminal.

The book is the first of a five-part series of which the first three are already published and available on Amazon. And this book is free from now until Tuesday, the 21st. Click on the link above and get yourself a copy of the e-book.

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Filed under novel, novel plans, Paffooney, publishing, science fiction

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.

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Filed under illustrations, novel, novel plans

Re-bubbling the Old Enthusiasm

It is getting harder and harder to climb the new day’s hill to get to the summit where I can reasonably get a good look at the road ahead. At almost-64, I can see the road ahead is far shorter and much darker than the highway stretching out behind me. It is not so much a matter of how much time I have spent on the road as it is a matter of the wear and tear the mileage has caused.

This weekend I had another depressing free-book promotion where, in five days, I only moved five books, one purchase, and four free books. I have made $0.45 as an author for the month of June.

I was recently given another bit of good advice from a successful author. He said that I shouldn’t be in such a rush to publish. He suggested taking more time with my writing. Hold on to it longer. Polish it and love it more. And now that I have reached sixteen books published on my author’s page, I have basically beaten the grim reaper in the question of whether or not he was ever going to silence me and my author’s voice. I can afford to live with the next one longer.

But the last one, A Field Guide to Fauns, practically wrote itself. It went fast from inspiration to publication simply because the writer in me was on fire and full of love and life and laughter that had to boil over into hot print exactly as quickly as it did. The additional writing time afforded me by the pandemic and quarantine didn’t hurt either. Once in print, my nudist friends loved it.

This next one has the potential to boil and brew and pop out of me in the same accelerated way as that last one did. Of course, it has been percolating inside my brain basically since the Summer of 1974. So, this is no rushed job. The Wizard in his Keep is a story of a man who tries to take the children of the sister of his childhood best friend to a place of safety when their parents are killed in a car wreck. But the only safe place he has to offer is in the world of his imagination. A world he has bizarrely made real. And that best friend comes searching for the children. And so does a predator who seeks to do them all grievous harm.

In many ways, it is a story already written.

So, I am rekindling the flame that keeps the story-pot boiling. And more of it is already cooking. And I am recovering from the cool winds of disappointment, as well as the dark stormclouds of the nearing future.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, battling depression, commentary, humor, novel, novel plans, Paffooney