Category Archives: novel plans

When the Captain Came Calling… Canto 2

Canto Two – Bait Worth Biting On

Describing the feeling of entering the Ghost House for the first time would prove quite difficult for Valerie when she tried to do it later on in Miss Bierstadt’s class for an English essay assignment.  But at the moment she crawled through the Tunnel of Doom, she would’ve described it as a feeling in her belly like eating a bowl of iced earthworms and trying to find a place to throw up in a jungle full of man-eating plants that smelled an awful lot like marigolds or something.  It was that kind of combination of anticipation, bad smells, icky things to see and touch, and the sensory deprivation of entering a candle-lit darkness from the bright September world outside.

“Welcome, Miss Valerie Clarke,” said freshman football hero and huge Polish hunk Pidney Breslow.  Valerie was deeply in love with the square-shouldered giant, and sincerely hoped he would be the leader of this Pirate club.

“Hello,” she said, almost timidly.

“You are just in time for the first official meeting of the reforming Norwall Pirates’ Club,” said Mary Philips brightly.   Mary had extended the official invitation to Valerie to come here, although Val didn’t really know why.  Mary had said that she didn’t want to be the only girl in the club, but why would a girl like Mary want to be in a boys’ club?  She had a bad feeling that the high school freshman girl also had her cap set for winning Pidney as a boyfriend.  But, plain-looking as Mary was, Val was only mildly concerned.

A quick look around as Danny Murphy crawled in after her revealed the other boys in attendance at the secret meeting.  Ray Zeffer, another high school freshman was there.  He was kinda handsome in a way, too, but he was always so sad-looking with those big puppy-dog brown eyes of his.  He had a neatly combed mess of jet black hair too, which was also attractive.  Val could easily learn to like this club.

The other boy, a high school junior, was kinda creepy.  His name was Conrad Doble.  He was the only one at the meeting who had been a member of the original Norwall Pirates.  He was tall and thin, with lank blond hair that hadn’t had a haircut in too long.  He had a distinct problem with facial Acne.  And he insisted on leering at Valerie, like he wanted to take a bite or two and eat her up.  For the first time Val understood why he had the semi-Shakespearian nickname of King Leer.

“You know that re-forming the Pirates is a sucky idea, right?” said Doble, leering at Mary Philips for the moment.   “There’s no way to go back to those things.  Milt Morgan had all the ideas and told us what to do.  Brent Clarke was the leader and made the ideas happen.  How are we gonna fight werewolves or undead Chinese wizards without them?”

“You know that those adventures were mostly lies and fairy tales,” Mary said.

“Still, who will be the wizard?  And who will be the leader?”  Doble glared at Mary accusingly.  “I actually saw the werewolf!”

The two older boys, Ray and Pidney looked at each other sheepishly.

“Re-forming the Pirates was my idea,” said Mary.  “I think I should be the leader.”

“A girl as leader?” asked Doble.  “We only used to let girls in for sex parties.”

“Be careful what you say to Mary, Goon,” said Pidney.

“Or what?  You’ll beat me up with your football muscles?”

“No,” said Ray.  “The two of us will beat the crap out of you.”  The fire flashing in Ray Zeffer’s eyes was even more intimidating than Pidney’s football muscles, and Pidney’s football muscles were seriously huge.

“Yeah, well…  I guess there might be benefits to having girls in the Pirates,” grumbled Doble menacingly.

“So, it’s settled.  The Norwall Pirates exist once more,” said Mary with a sparkly smile.  “I will be the leader and Pidney will be second in command.”

“Who is the wizard?” growled Doble.  “Milt is the hard one to replace.”

“I get that you always thought of Milt Morgan as Merlin and Brent Clarke as his King Arthur,” said Mary, “but do we really need a wizard?”

“Yeah, I think we do,” insisted Doble.

“You know we don’t have to let you be a Pirate this time,” warned Pidney.

“I’m the only real Norwall Pirate here,” said Doble imperially.  “You have to have my permission to even do this.”

“It’s all right,” said Mary.  “What is it you think we need a wizard for?”

Conrad Doble stood up to his full height and lightly bonked his head on a cellar rafter.  After he rubbed his somewhat flattened head of hair, he went over to a nearby cabinet, and removed the right hand door which basically fell out when you touched it.  He reached in and brought out a large peanut-butter jar filled with formaldehyde.  Floating in it was the severed head of a huge black cat, its dead eyes popped and staring.  He placed that on the crate in front of the old couch.

“Gack!  What’s that?” asked Pidney.

“The secret mystical symbol of the Pirate leader,” said Mary.

“Smart girl,” said Conrad Doble.  “If you know that, then surely you know what a wizard is for.”

“I’m guessing the keeper of secrets,” said Mary.

“The teller of stories!” Valerie blurted out.

“Yes!” said Doble.  “Both of those things.  But story-teller most of all.  That’s what Milt used to do.  He told us stories and made us believe in stuff.”

“So, who here is a story-teller?” asked Ray Zeffer.

“Tell us the story of your Uncle Noah,” Pidney said to Mary.

“He is NOT my uncle,” said Mary.  “He’s just Dad’s friend.  I used to call him uncle when I was little.”

“But that’s the idea, isn’t it?” asked Pidney.  “That story you were telling me about your dad’s friend on the freighter in the South Seas?  You could tell us that.”

“Maybe.  You have to give me time to pull it all together.  I think we need to leave that position open for the moment, to give others here a chance to tell a story of their own.”  Mary glared in Conrad’s direction for a change.

“Okay,” said Doble.  “It’s a deal.”

“Who will be in the club?” asked Pidney.

“I invited everyone here to be a Pirate,” said Mary.  “I think all of us need to be here.  The Norwall Pirates used to be a group of friends that supported each other and helped each other through hard times.  That’s what we all need again.  Especially Ray.”

Ray Zeffer blushed and looked off into the darkness of the far corner of the cellar.  Valerie wondered why.  She decided she would find out… soon.

“Why didn’t you invite Billy Martin?” asked Danny Murphy.  “He needs to be a Pirate too.”

“You are right,” said Mary with a smile.  “But I didn’t know where to find him or how to get the message to him.  Inviting him can be our first club project.”

“Club project?   You make it sound all girly!” complained Doble.

“Adventure, then.”

“Yeah, better.”

So it was decided.  Valerie Clarke was now the second girl ever to be a Norwall Pirate.  She smiled to herself, but when she caught Doble looking at her again, she changed the smile for a frown.                                                                              

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Preparing to do Magic

When I am trying to organize some book magic, I tend to light the scented candles in my bedroom and get out the old sketchbook, as well as some fairly recently purchased pens and ink. Yes, I mean, I do storybook magic by drawing. This explanation comes from a teacher who no longer has any class, a nudist who never goes naked anymore, an atheist who believes in God, and a wiseguy who knows he’s really a fool. Magic is 99% hard work and 1% drawing pictures.

So, if you have drawn the proper conclusion from that first paragraph that Mickey is being a stupid old idiot again and he doesn’t really know anything about magic. I beg to differ. I started experiencing symptoms of prostate cancer and indications of another serious lung infection brewing up a couple of years ago. I decided then not to take my complaints to the doctor because I have no money left to spend on health care for myself. Either diagnosis, if it is accurate, is a death sentence for me under Trumpcare. I would rather simply drop dead unawares than have to live with an actual looming deadline that, once passed, I would truly be dead from. So, I have gone about my daily duties and flights of fancy without worry. And, miraculously, I woke up this morning still being alive and able to write. That is magic, isn’t it? I think it is.

The foolish novel notion I am working on now is what you see recent noodlings of in this post. The stitch witches you see above, Warricka and Bibby-joon, are the magical dressmakers that made an appearance in one of the fairy tale portions of Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  That book can be found at this link; https://www.amazon.com/Recipes-Gingerbread-Children-Michael-Beyer-ebook/dp/B07KQTMN7R/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1546994890&sr=8-1&keywords=michael+beyer+books+recipes+for+gingerbread+children

I discovered I can put pen and ink drawings into self-published Kindle books, even the paperback versions. I tested the theory out with the candle drawing that follows. I put it on the dedication page of my novel The Baby Werewolf.  That is the companion novel to Recipes and my most recently published book. It can be found at this link; https://www.amazon.com/Baby-Werewolf-Michael-Beyer-ebook/dp/B07LFRXR3G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1546994589&sr=8-1&keywords=michael+beyer+books+the+baby+werewolf

Both books are free if you buy them through Kindle Unlimited.

My inevitable conclusion to this experimenting was that I can create a book from black and white drawings and mix in paragraphs that tell all about Tellosia, the fairy kingdom that exists within my boyhood hometown in Iowa. A sort of field guide, if you get what I’m getting at. And I could mix in the black and white graphic novel I have been working on for more than a quarter of a century, The Hidden Kingdom. It might actually attract some readers based on my artwork and its reputed popularity with people who don’t have to actually pay for it. It might be a way to actually sell some books. So, I am going to try it, and you can’t stop me.

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Filed under fairies, Hidden Kingdom, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, pen and ink, publishing

The Story So Far…

My life as a school teacher is definitely over. That part of my story is complete. I thought, as I found that driving for Uber to earn extra money was becoming too difficult to do, that maybe I could get healthy enough to be a substitute teacher again. Money-wise it makes sense. Three days of substituting in a single week would easily surpass my best days as an Uber driver. And they correctly figure withholding for tax purposes, something that neither my teacher pension nor my Uber account seem capable of doing. I face tax penalties again for 2018.

But my health never seems to stabilize since the car accident in August. Of course, that figures too since my diabetes has gotten worse, insulin has gotten more expensive, and my personal economy tanks monthly. So I have to let go of teacher daydreams. Those chapters are now closed. I must read on more slowly and carefully in the Book of Life.

The Wings of Imagination

The way forward is now through being a story-teller. Writing and drawing are things that I can do without leaving the house, sometimes without even getting out of bed. I know that becoming even more sedentary is basically a slow death sentence. But my arthritis, COPD, and diabetes have all worked hand-in-hand to reduce my mobility. They also make driving more dangerous. So, slowing down probably reduces the chances of sudden and destructive death. And I have never been more prolific in my writing.

Davalon the Telleron alien, Anneliese the gingerbread girl, and Francois Martin the Sad Clown Singer

I have published eight novels. They are, in order of publication, Catch a Falling Star, Magical Miss Morgan, Stardusters and Space Lizards, Snow Babies, Superchicken, The Bicycle-Wheel Genius,  Recipes for Gingerbread Children, and The Baby Werewolf. Number nine, Sing Sad Songs, is in the revision and editing stage and will be completed early in 2019. I have When the Captain Came Calling well under way, though the end is not yet in sight. And I recently began work on the rough draft of Fools and Their Toys. I am also working to finish my graphic novel, Hidden Kingdom.

These novels of mine will probably never generate meaningful money in my lifetime, but the creation of them feels like the fulfillment of my life’s arc. I spent four decades in education, and now I am investing my remaining life force in story-telling, using many of the students and fellow teachers in novels of surrealistic fantasy and humor, giving meaning to the memories of a life spent in service to higher ideals.

Player #3, the powerful Miss Perez

So, there you have it, the Story So Far. I will continue to work on it, polish it, perfect it, and continue not to worry if no one reads it or even cares. It is my story, the story I live to create, and that is all the meaning that matters.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, drawing, education, feeling sorry for myself, humor, illness, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Tuesday is Nutty Novel Day

I have been using the Tuesday post for this blog for a very novel thing. Yes, that’s an ironic pun made with 55% pure iron. This once-a-week exercise in fictional weirdness is basically a forge for failing novel ideas.

I began with the Stardusters manuscript for a stalled sequel to Catch a Falling Star. I worked it out with a rewritten Canto per Tuesday. And I turned the weird little climate-crisis science-fiction comedy into a passable piece of novel noodling. I was also able to use it as a test novel for the Amazon Kindle Publishing method of turning it into a book that I could hold a copy of in my two hands.

Aeroquest as a novel is now out of print.

Then I tried to rehabilitate my first and worst published novel, Aeroquest. I found I had a lot of very good individual Cantos (which I was using as a faux-poetical and somewhat snooty substitute for the word chapter). But the overall story was fractured and incoherent. What I eventually decided to do with this book is to break it up into at least three separate stories. I don’t know if I will ever republish this book, it is there to be worked on for as long as I’m still kicking.

So, what will I do with Tuesdays now?

This is now the longest stalled manuscript I have going. It has some definite problems and plot holes. I might choose to revise and edit it in this space on my blog. If I do, it will be even more of a real rewrite in front of your eyes than the first two. I initially thought these Novel Tuesdays might yield input and criticism that might prove useful. But of the few people who are actually interested enough to read this word-wrenching and rearranging, I don’t seem to get any thoughts beyond likes and hope-you-succeeds.

Anyway, I am pretty well addicted to this odd writing behavior by now, and next Tuesday yields the start of a new novel, whether you are ready or not.

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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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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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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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