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.
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.
Posting every day keeps the imaginary writing muscles toned and renews my basic energy levels. But it also becomes a chore on certain days. Like today. The weather has got me down with arthritis woes. Typing like this is it not as easy as it should be. And when I have to labor at it to make the paragraphs flow, sometimes I just turn it all into rambling babbling. I spin my mental wheels and get nowhere.
I can use this post to tell you, however, that I have now started a new work-in-progress. I have already pounded out the first four thousand words of The Wizard in His Keep.
This is the final story in the arc of the character Milt Morgan. This story has been gestating in my brain since 1995. Though, if I am honest, it began with fantasies I had back in fifth grade. The main character, Milt Morgan, is half me and half the other Mike from our gang back in Rowan in the 1960’s. Back when Mike and Michael were sometimes good friends and sometimes the brains behind evil plans and terrible tricks. He supplied the devious know-how, and I provided the creative spark that lit the schemes on fire.
But this story is advanced to the computer age.
In 1996, Milt Morgan was a 34-year-old video game designer living a double life in a high-tech, state-of-the-art computer lab. It is then that he mysteriously kidnaps the three children of his child-hood friend’s sister and takes them away to a magical world that only two people in the entire world have the keys to. Milt is the Wizard. The other Key-Master is Daniel Quilp, the Necromancer. A battle for the soul of the world must take place, and Daisy, Johnny, and Mortie Brown are a part of it.
Anyway, the words are beginning to pile up again. And again I have made something out of nothing. My book promotion is still going on until tomorrow. The link above can still get you a free e-book copy until after midnight tomorrow. And nobody, it seems, still wants my book for free. (How’s that for a pathos pitch?) We’ll see how it all ends tomorrow.
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.
The re-write of AeroQuest 3 is now complete. I just need to finish proof-reading and final edits before self-publishing on Amazon along with the other two books.
The Duo-ilogy will now be pushed into a trilogy.
And then rewriting and reworking begins on part 4 to turn the trilogy into a fourple-ilogy.
Four books? Did I say fourple-ilogy? That isn’t going to be the end if the Coronavirus doesn’t cut me short. What’s left will become a five-book thingy. What do you call that? A fiveple-ilogy? A nickelilogy? It can’t be a nickelology. That would be the study of five-cent coins.
Book one, subtitled Stars and Stones, tells how the two Aero brothers flee the Imperium because Ged faces persecution as a space-werewolf, a thing he is really not. What he really is is a Psion Shape-changer, able to rearrange the cells of his body according to the DNA of other creatures he has come in contact with and analyzed, mostly by tasting their flesh.
They come to an unknown planet where billions of people have been marooned by space pirates, corsairs, and stardogs. This planet, called Don’t Go Here has developed an entire stone-age culture based entirely on old holovids of the cartoon show The Flintstones.
The second book of the Teachers in Space Nickel-ilogy is subtitled Planet of the White Spider.
In it, Ged Aero learns for the first time that he is the prophesied return of the White Spider, a great teacher that will help Psions learn to overcome prejudice against them to use their powers to help make life better for everyone and build an empire of new stars and star-systems.
While Ged is busy learning to be a teacher and how to have some class, his brother Ham Aero is joining pirates, corsairs, smugglers, and various marginalized alien races as they rebel against Admiral Tang and the empire of half-lizard, half-human Galtorrian/Human Fusions.
In the third book, subtitled Juggling Planets, the characters learn the hard way that some of them are going to have to become leaders while others will have to be teachers. Numerous planets join in the rebellion. Some serious losses occur, as well as some significant gains. Some serious people get made fun of. Some not-so-serious people do some of the hardest work… or have the best dumb luck. And there are weird aliens, wacky technology, goofy people and strange planets, and things undreamed of in Horatio’s philosophy. If you haven’t guessed yet, these books are science-fiction comedies.
Next week, I start the rewrite of book 4, subtitled The Amazing Aero Brothers.
I have had a rough time since the pandemic began. I still get my pension check at the beginning of each month… for now. So, I am a lot better off than those whose jobs were taken away by the lock-down. But I did lose all potential income from substitute teaching. And the plumbing in the house is still aging badly, sprouting leaks everywhere that I have no money to fix with professional plumbers. I can barely afford Fix-it Tape which only slows a leak and does not completely end it. Notice I said “leaks”, not “leeks”. Onions I can defeat. But water is not my element to master.
Today my faithful microwave, the one that I had for four years in my last classroom, gave out. A spark and some smoke and she cooks no more.
But it is not all bad news.
My wife secretly has two more microwaves in her secret evidence-of-hoarding-disorder stash. She let me use one. She also found a leak-clamp for temporarily staunching leaky pipes at Home Depot where I haven’t dared to go in the pandemic because of my diabetes and high blood pressure. So, the weekend was slightly more un-yuckified than I expected.
And this weekend I was having a free-book promotion for A Field Guide to Fauns. I was expecting to give away too few free books again. I expected the Twitter writing community to turn up their noses because it is a story about a family of nudists living in a nudist park. But the Twitter nudists that follow me because of Recipes for Gingerbread Children were delighted. I gave away more books in the first two days of the promotion than I have given away in any other promotion.
It feels good to have someone reading my books, even if they are naked when they read it.
And I have reached a point where I am relatively certain, without being tested, that the illness I have been feeling is all just diabetes and allergies, and I have not yet fallen ill with Covid 19.
So, I can honestly say that I feel very… Meh, okay right now. Better than expected, and a lot better than dead.
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.
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.)
I have not yet finished AeroQuest 3 : Juggling Planets, but the groundwork is being laid already for part 4 in the AeroQuest Saga. The series is, after all, the rewrite of my out-of-print, 2007 novel, AeroQuest. So, the overall structure of the story already exists. I am merely expanding and revising that 350-page book into a better series of four or five books. In fact, there might have to be even more than that. I basically am too inventive for my own good, and there are just too many characters and plot threads for one book. And it may take six books to work it all out correctly.
This, then, is not so much a novel project as a hobby. Or maybe an artifact of an old hobby.
You see, AeroQuest was a story made from the notes I kept of my ongoing Traveller Role-playing game of the 80’s and early 90’s. Hamfast Aero, a main character, was a player character created by one of the first gang of players I had in the 80’s. In fact Ged Aero, Trav Dalgoda, Tron Blastarr, Xavier Tkriashav, Vince Neill (the player’s misspelling, not mine), Cold Death, King Killer, and Duke Han Ferrari were all player characters and strongly reflect the personalities and style of their original players. The plot is bizarre because of some of the creative problem-solving decisions made by the group of nerds who played the game. It had to be a comedy because we always had that over-the-top jokeability as a guiding principal of game play.
I am past page 100 in Book 3, and I have passed 27,000 words. It will end up being at least 135 pages and at least 35,000 words when it is finished. Book 4, if it ends the series, will have to be more than twice that. That’s why I am thinking five books instead of four.
The inspiration for the book was the foolish idea of combining Douglas Adams’ Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy wackiness with Frank Herbert’s Dune huge-book-with-many-short-chapters style. I guess the rewrite has given up on the Herbert format, if not the multitude of characters and subplots that went with it.
Anyway, I will have Book 3 published before I move on to the next writing project. The goal has never been to make money and be famous as a writer. But telling stories and writing them as novels has never been a choice. And, as painful as some of it is to give birth to, there is fulfillment to be had just from the simple act of writing.