Category Archives: novel plans

Composing the Next Chapter

My life now, after retiring from teaching for poor health, having a heart kerfluffle that created a hospital bill that dumped me into bankruptcy, and a pandemic that could easily have been the death of me, is really now only a matter of writing the next chapter and completing the next book.

Currently the novel I am working on is a fairytale called The Necromancer’s Apprentice. The title is a play on the Fantasia segment where Mickey Mouse plays the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, set to the orchestral music piece by Paul Dukas.

The current chapter is called Mickey’s Gambit. In this chapter Derfentwinkle’s bone-walker, a skeleton she has been driving like a tank to attack the fairies of Cair Tellos, the fairy castle in the willow tree, has been destroyed by the Sorcerer Eli Tragedy. Now Derfy knows that Tragedy and his two apprentices are coming to kill her. But she is not the typical gobbulun, all warty and green. She’s a nude Sylph girl, no different than hundreds of Sylphs who live in Cair Tellos.

But she is also the apprentice to an evil necromancer who sent her to attack the fairy castle.

Now, the other characters involved in this chapter are the Sorcerer Eli Tragedy, his apprentices Bob and Mickey the Wererat, and a handful of gingerbread children. Eli is a grumpy old coot who is quite capable of putting Derfy to death. But Bob, his number one apprentice, is much more pliable and soft-hearted. And Mickey the Wererat, is a cursed child, half-Sylph and half-rat, who can always be relied on to make the worst possible choices. There is a slim chance of survival.

The chapter is purposed as part of the story that drives the plot forward. This is the first meeting of the protagonist (Bob the apprentice) and the antagonist (Derfentwinkle.) This chapter reveals the over-arching danger of the evil necromancer. It puts Derfy in the hands of her enemies. And it is the beginning of the major themes of the book; No child or student is irredeemable, and all people, no matter whether they are Elf, Sylph, Fairy, Wererat, Gobbulun, or Crow has value.

So, that’s a look at my writing process in working on a novel, showing you how I put a chapter together. You will be seeing this chapter soon on my Tuesday novel-writing posts.

But life in reality is also about turning the page daily and setting the scene and working out the action. This I am doing by exercising more. I am also trying to get healthy enough to visit Bluebonnet Nudist Park again on the weekend before the weather rules against it. I am eating healthy. I am doing what is necessary to continue after losing my mother. I am dealing with household repairs to plumbing and yardwork. And I am working particularly hard not to lose anything more to the pandemic.

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Filed under Paffooney, humor, novel, novel plans, fairies, novel writing

Tellerons from Outer Space

Yes, green men from outer space are among us. The thing is, they are invisible (and more than likely fictional too.) They have amphibian ancestors. They have sucker tips on their fingers and toes. And they can disintegrate you with their ray guns.

Of course you can learn more about these aliens and the amusing threat they are trying to pose in the novel Catch a Falling Star. Of course, of course, the greedy publisher of that book still has it insanely over-priced. You would be better served by getting a free copy of the sequel Stardusters and Space Lizards, available now in Kindle e-book form for free from September 24, TODAY, until midnight September 28.

The patent for this alien technology actually belongs to the ruling council of the Telleron Star Empire.

There are many things that make the fin-headed, amphibianoid Tellerons dangerous. Their dangerous technology includes the highly lethal Skortch Ray which disintegrates the target, dissolving sub-atomic bonds between molecules and turning people, things, and insane attack-poodles into piles of molecular dust. They also have personal cloaking devices that allow them to move around our planet invisibly.

But the most volatile and dangerous factor about these space men is that their species, heedless for centuries of the dangers of inbreeding, are now almost totally incompetent.

The two Tellerons in this spaceographic depiction are standing near a Galtorrian Space Lizard girl.

Being incompetent and totally failing to invade and conquer a small town in Iowa, let alone the rest of the planet, they flee back towards possible safety at a potential home-world. But, being incompetent, they accidentally end up at the planetary system of the Galtorrian Space Lizards, a highly treacherous race of cannibalistic saurian humanoids. And even worse, they find themselves in a situation where they either have to successfully invade and conquer a world far ,more dangerous than Earth or resign themselves to being nothing more than space-lizard food.

Brekka and Menolly, female Telleron tadpoles, demonstrate their love of Mickey Mouse Club music by dancing, something totally learned by watching Earther TV.

Although the Tellerons could not conquer the Earth, they did benefit from their visit there. They learned another way of life from Earther television programs. They learned to love music and dancing. They even learned that children are useful for other things besides being a supplemental food supply.

Now, you may think that invisible Tellerons infiltrating our society is not as big a problem as I am saying it is… well, based on what I have told you, that is probably true, They are more clownish than even we are.,, except for Boris Johnson. But Telleron-invasion awareness is important never-the-less.

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Filed under aliens, humor, novel, novel plans, Paffooney

Continuing to Create Covers

I recently got criticism for the unprofessional ugliness of one of my novel covers. Of course, that was only a part of the review that generally hated everything about my book. Some people feel certain works of art have no right to even exist. So, for art day today, I will inflict my recent crimes against the world of novel art on all the regretful followers of this blog, and probably ward off future followers as well.

This novella is already published. The first one I showed you represents only a novel idea. No writing yet exists for The Necromancer’s Apprentice outside of my stupid head.

This one is a part of my endless AeroQuest rewrite. The ending of the book and a handful of existing chapters that need to be expanded exist already. It is still a project planned for the part of the future in which I am most likely already dead. The character of Spaceheart featured on this cover has not been written at all yet.

This book is only a few chapters along. It is a currently stalled work in progress.

This one was written as a Tuesday novel-writing project and presented chapter by chapter on this blog. This is an updated cover that came about once I learned how to better create a cover, a thing I am still learning about.

This last one is the cover for a novella I am currently presenting on Tuesdays. It is nearing completion.

So, here now for your consideration are the most recent cover efforts I have made. Be disgusted and horrified at your leisure. I can take criticism. And I know it is useful to be open to criticism. It does indeed make you reflect on what you are doing.

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Filed under artwork, novel plans, novel writing, Paffooney

Premonition

I actually saw an event happening in my little mind’s eye before it happened. And then it came true. My daughter and I went to Whataburger’s drive-thru last night to get a burger for her and a strawberry milkshake for me. I was driving as I have a license and my daughter does not. At one of the three red stoplights on the way there, I had a sudden vision of my milkshake being crushed and covering my shirt. In the vision I was tearing up from disaster recovery when I said, “I really wanted to drink that.”

So, I vowed to be a careful driver and not have a car accident anywhere along the drive, especially after I had purchased my milkshake.

I didn’t have the car accident. So, I thought it was just a nervous thought and not a prophecy. Then, walking from the car to the house, we walked through the shadowy back yard. Suddenly my right leg found a protruding part of the old bicycle sidecar that was sitting in the darkness. L landed on the milkshake I was carrying in my right hand. And, of course, tearing up from arthritis pain, I said, “I really wanted to drink that.”

Now, I can’t prove any of that, except showing you the crushed styrofoam milkshake cup, and by experience I know you are rolling your eyes and thinking about what a goofy man I really am.

But I have had an unignorably large number of these experiences in my life. There is no way to avoid these little experiences of the bizarre. But there is also no way to make use of them either.

The picture is the Wizard of Tellosia called Eli Tragedy and his two apprentices, Bob and Mickey the Wererat. It is a start of a cover illustration for a planned novella called The Necromancer’s Apprentice. Oh, and Eli is NOT the Necromancer in the title. He has premonitions too. But he can’t use them for anything either.

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Filed under autobiography, feeling sorry for myself, humor, magic, novel plans, Paffooney

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