Category Archives: novel plans

Writing and Netflix

Like many writers, I have a plethora of weird voices in my head, constantly criticizing me, making jokes out of me doing ordinary things like brushing my teeth with the old brush my daughter used to scrub mud off her sneakers, characters who have actually come to life in my head and are constantly telling me stories about themselves… Good golly! Maybe many writers don’t hear these voices and I am simply nearly insane.

But, this is to be expected. I am a Baby Boomer. A child of the ’50s. So, I was raised by the black-and-white television. “I Love Lucy“, “My Three Sons“, and “The Munsters” taught me morals and an ability to laugh at myself. I learned about History, Politics, and the World from Walter Cronkite, the ultimate neutral news commentator. I also learned a lot about story-telling from old movies on Saturday afternoon. Television gave me empathy, knowledge of the world, and a boost to my imagination that I wouldn’t have had if I had been a child a generation earlier. Of course, I know it would also have been very different if I had been an internet child like my own children are. There is presently such a flood of free facts available that our information-soaked little brains are often drowning.

So, why am I talking about television today?

This coming week is a week spent alone. I was left behind with the dog as the rest of my family took a trip to Florida. It was my own choice. I am not capable of sitting in a car for long enough to make the car trip from North Texas to Central Florida. And I did not want to keep them from going. Days of good health are long ago and fading from memory.

So, I am left behind with time to write and time to watch whatever I want to on Netflix.

And this is useful because… well, I am a child of good television. I can work on my two WIP projects at once with Netflix series and movies in between word-munching sessions. I can be totally immersed in the writing act. I can write naked anywhere in the house (with the windows closed) without hearing complaints or distress from my non-nudist wife and my embarrassed-by-their-parents kids. It is almost as good as being well enough to go with them.

And Netflix (as well as, soon I hope, Disney Plus) affords me a chance to select exactly what I want to watch in ways that television on three networks, the way it used to be, could not provide. It is a chance to time-travel, to explore, to reach new levels of laughter and understanding… as well as tears. And I can watch TV too.

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Dang! I Might be Too Creative for My Own Good!

I have significantly slowed down in my production of fiction. Not so much because I don’t have any ideas to write about, but because my eyes are limited in function by glaucoma that I am treating with eye drops. And also because my fingers on the keyboard are slowed by arthritis and the repeated need to make corrections from hitting so many of the wrong keys.

I currently have four novel projects where I have started writing and begun to fill pages. AeroQuest 5 : It Ain’t Over Yet continues the slogging rewrite of my first published novel, Aeroquest. It was simply a matter of following the story arcs set up in books 3 and 4. I have about six chapters done with absolutely no idea how many more are yet to come.

I have had a sudden-inspiration novel hit my brain, and I am also well into the story of The Haunted Toy Store.

The biggest project I have going is the novel I have been working on since 2021. He Rose on a Golden Wing is about teen depression and using imagination and a tight circle of friends to overcome it. The novel draws together story threads that began in four previous novels. And it dovetails with another story, Kingdoms Under the Earth, that deals with a health problem that overcomes a group of younger characters that is happening at the same time. Kingdoms does not exist on paper, or in computer file, at all yet. That story is merely percolating in my head as the prior writing continues to involve cross-over points and story links

This picture is inspired by Disney’s Fantasia, and so will not be used in any of my books. I do not wish to be copyright-sued by Disney.

The novella seen to the left is about two chapters from being finished. But it got caught up in the need to reformat it as I transformed it from a document on my Chromebook to the more friendly word-processor on my HP laptop.

I have almost completely lost the momentum on finishing that… which should have been finished six months ago.

While all of this is on my to-do list, I have also begun planning and doing drawing for a book I will call Naked Thinking, a non-fiction meditation on being a nudist, drawing and painting nThouude figures, and baring my soul in the books I write (Though I do not plan to bare my own naked body in the process… probably… at least not in a photo.)

So, with all of this nonsense going on in my writing life, you can see why I always seem to be arguing that I do not have writer’s block.

An illustration for The Haunted Toy Store

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Slightly Feverish

An infinite number of monkeys with and infinite number of word-processors will supposedly eventually type out everything I have ever written and everything I am going to write… As well as everything I will ever write with a random word misspelled or replaced with the wrong word. It would be an infinite mess. After all, infinite monkeys and infinite word-processors would fill infinite space and leave no room for infinite bananas. The monkeys would all starve after the initial typed manuscripts are completed, and any surviving monkeys that randomly evolved an ability to eat word-processors would die from exposure to infinite rotting monkey corpses. The whole thing gets gruesome after a while.

But let’s get serious for a moment. (Something that is generally difficult for Mickey.) Monkeys with type-writers will not solve my essential problem. I will not run out of stories before I run out of time for story-telling. And I find it totally creditable that my time is almost gone.

I am ill again, with a viral infection that gives me headaches, low-grade fever, and a wicked cough. I feel horrible. I had chest pains last night that led to a serious debate yet again. If it had been a heart attack, that would’ve been the end. I cannot survive economically another hospital bill. So, I have to go on the theory that since the last heart-attack scare was only arthritis in the ribs and the strange effect that has on EKGs, this one must also be the same. I can’t afford any other conclusion. And since I am still alive to write this, it was obviously the correct conclusion to draw.

The titles I have listed above, still in my stupid old head, are eleven more books I will add to my growing list. This is, of course, entirely dependent on how much longer I have before the darkness claims me for all time. I have writing to do. No more days off. And if I get five more years of two books a year, I just might make it. But last night convinced me that the effort may end at any time. So, though I am sick, I better get busy and write something.

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Character References, Part 3

When choosing whose 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

When the Captain Came Calling

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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;

Superchicken

The Baby Werewolf

The Boy… Forever!

The Wizard in his Keep

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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

cudgels car

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 novel,

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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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 storm clouds of the nearing future.

This is now actually a two-year-old post. Both of the books mentioned here are published and available from Amazon. As far as holding on to the books longer, there is no problem with that on Amazon. Editing, improving, and re-publishing a book is actually easier than publishing it the first time. Nothing about this old post has been made untrue by the passage of time. I am still probably the best author of books like these whose published books almost never get read.

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Stalled and Swimming in Place

I was originally planning to have AeroQuest 4 published by now and AeroQuest 5 well underway as my regular novel-writing segment on Tuesdays. The manuscript for 4 is written and formatted, awaiting only a final edit. And half of 5 is already written. It is only the expanded first part of this manuscript that has yet to be written.

But since finishing the manuscript for 4, all I have managed to do is work on other projects. I have added nothing to it since February.

My Fairy stories have taken over my writing time.

The Education of PoppenSparkle has taken over the Tuesday slot in my supposedly structured blogging week. I am enjoying writing it, yet, it is only happening on Mondays every week. The last-minute nature of that writing style is producing a lot of adrenalin and obsession with deadlines, but it is also draining the creativity out of writing time every other day of the week. I haven’t failed to post something for my daily blog, but even the writing I do get done lacks the luster of older posts.

I need to get back to writing on my main work-in-progress, He Rose on a Golden Wing. That book continues to grow and get more complicated as it marinates in the creative juice of my overly juicy mind.

So, there it is, me writing about something I was not supposed to write about on this Memorial Day. I am not suffering from writer’s block, for I am writing every day. But I am suffering from doldrums with the sailboat of progress not having any wind in my sails. How do I get the wind back? I will find a way.

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The Way Mickey’s Mind Works

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If you’ve read any of the crap that Mickey wrote about before in this goofy blog, you probably already suspect that Mickey’s mind does not work like a normal mind.  The road map above is just one indicator of the weirdness of the wiring that propels Mickey on the yellow brick road to Oz and back.  He just isn’t a normal thinker.

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But having a few bats in the old belfry doesn’t prevent the man from having a plan.  If you read all of Mickey’s hometown novels, you will discover he hasn’t written them in time order.  Main characters in my 2016 novel weren’t even born yet in my 2017 books.  If you look at them in chronological order rather than the order written, you will see characters growing and changing over time.  A shy kid in one novel grows into a werewolf hunter in the next.  A girl who loses her father to suicide in a novel not yet completed, learns how to love again in another novel.

Multiple Mickian stories are totally infected with fairies.  The magic little buggers are harder to get rid of than mosquitoes and are far and away more dangerous.  And there are disturbing levels of science-fiction-ness radiating through all of the stories.  How dare he think like that?  In undulating spirals instead of straight lines!  He doesn’t even use complete sentences all the time. And they used to let that odd bird teach English to middle school kids.

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But there is a method to his utter madness.  He started with the simpler stories of growing up and learning about the terrors of kissing girls when you are only twelve.  And then he moved on into the darker realms of dealing with death and loss of love, the tragedy of finding true love and losing it again almost as soon as you recognize its reality.  Simple moves on to complex.  Order is restored with imagination, only to be broken down again and then restored yet again,.

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And, of course, we always listen to Mr. Gaiman.  He is a powerful wizard after all.  The Sandman and creator of good dreams.  So Mickey will completely ignore the fact that nobody reads his books no matter what he does or says.  And he will write another story.

Francois spotlight

It is called Sing Sad Songs, and it is the most complex and difficult story that Mickey has ever written.  And it will be glorious.  It also rips Mickey’s heart out.  And I will put that ripped-out heart back in place and make Mickey keep writing it, no matter how many times I have to wash, rinse, and repeat. The continued work is called Fools and Their Toys.  It solves the murder mystery begun in Sing Sad Songs. This re-post of an updated statement of goals is the very spell that will made that magic happen.  So, weird little head-map in hand, here we go on the writer’s journey once again and further along the trail.

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Wrestling with Themes… Part 6

Concluding this meandering ridiculous rant about how you distill the meaning of your books into themes is no small task. My limiting goal was to identify one main theme for each of my books. It has to be limited because every well-written book has multiple themes of varying complexity and scope.

And then when you tie everything together as I have done with my Hometown Novels, there are themes that cross the borders from one book into the next. This essay will sum up by telling about the books I have written beyond the borders of my Hometown books.

The Wizard in his Keep

This book is unique in dozens of ways. It is an orphan-journey through a virtual-reality video game that you can actually live inside because of the full-body interface suits that get you into the game. It is science fiction because of the virtual-reality technology, but the competition within the game is set in a fantasy kingdom running on magic and super powers. And the plot is a parallel of Charles Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop.

This book is the conclusion to several character arcs that begin with the Hometown Novels’ very first book, Superchicken. One character’s life ends in death, but on his own terms. Another character finds the answers to his missing sister and the family she kept secret from him. And the orphans find a loving family that they never knew existed. So, one big theme is that; “You make your own happy endings by hard work, risk, and perseverance, not by magic or luck” But this is an overarching theme that covers more than one story in more than two or three other books.

The book also holds true to several other things that are true about my stories. It is a comedy with at least one character dying sometime before the story ends. It is surrealism, giving a rational grounding in realism to some rather fantastic things. And the characters who find success are empathetic types who realize that loving others is more important than loving ourselves.

A Field Guide to Fauns

An important facet of my novel-writing experience has come about through the general audience reception of my works. Specifically, nudists and naturists were attracted to my books through the nudist characters in my book Recipes for Gingerbread Children.

That is the reason this book, A Field Guide to Fauns even exists. I wrote it specifically for an audience of nudists, naturists, and people like me who have always been fascinated by nudism and were simply afraid to actually try it until we grew old, mature, and goofy enough not to care what other people think about me being a naked old man..

The book is about a boy named Devon who goes from a traumatic event that took him out of his divorced mother’s home and put him in his father’s house. But his father is remarried to a woman with twin daughters who are dedicated nudists, and live in a residence that is located in a South Texas nudist park. He has to recover from his trauma by becoming a nudist living a naked life himself. The theme is, “You can overcome childhood trauma if only you are open to being nakedly honest about yourself… especially being nakedly honest with yourself.”

Stardusters and Space Lizards

This story is one of the sequel messes written to go with Catch a Falling Star. It follows the alien characters and three of the human characters from that book out into the stars. It is basically an allegory for the climate-change crisis we face here on planet Earth. Besides the fact that this book offers the idea that inventive children can solve world-wide problems, and Texas politicians can be translated into lizard-people monsters who are actually to blame for everything, the theme of this book is really, “To solve ecological problems on a world-wide scale, we must first acknowledge that those problems are not caused by lack of understanding, but by the disregard for life that people have when they are motivated by personal gain, power, and reputation.”

Laughing Blue

This book is even harder to give a main theme to since it is a book of essays. Every entry, every single essay, has it’s own unique theme, ideally expressed in a topic sentence that states the theme.

But it is not impossible to find an over-arching theme. It is filled with short vignettes and stories about my childhood, my life as a teacher, my cartoons and bizarre sense of humor, my philosophical musings, and complaints about the things that have hurt me. It is largely autobiographical. And the main theme is basically, “When life gives you lemons, make a lemony joke of some sort because laughing is much better than crying and a better thing to do when you’re blue.”

I know, I know… purple paisley prose.

I am well aware that I have not put a theme to every single book I have written. But I think I have, in the course of 6 essays, done a fair job of puzzling together and proving my point that a novel, or even other kinds of books, need a coherent main theme, and the author should, hopefully, know what those themes are. So, the essay ends here. Mostly because I am old and cranky and tired of repeating myself endlessly.

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The Storyteller

The doctor looked at me with a pained and worried look on his pasty white face.

“Um, okay, I don’t know how to tell you this, but…”

“Well, if you don’t know how to tell it, then maybe you should look at the notes you made one more time.”
“Yes, okay, tell about your major symptoms one more time.”

“Well, Doc, I don’t seem to be able to explain anything to anybody without using complicated metaphors, similes, or timely literary allusions.”

“That’s why you began, “It was the best of times and the worst of times?” When you visited the first time, I mean.”

“Yes, with somber Dickensian overtures to the grim details of the London streets in summer. I didn’t feel like myself, since I live in Texas.”

I grinned at him and continued in a sad voice.

“And what’s worse, when I go to sleep, I dream dreams where there is a horrifying beginning, a mysterious ramble in the middle, and I can’t wake up until I have achieved a satisfactory conclusion.”

“I see.” the doctor said.

“Yes, first I see, then I take what I saw, and use the saw with hammer and nails to build a setting. And then I stir up some doughy memories and add highly conflicted seasoning, stir vigorously, and then bake it all into a plot.” I grinned as I said that sadly.

“Did you try the medicine I gave you last time?”

“Yes, I did. I read what I already red while I was writing, and the red pills helped me spot where the plot’s crankshaft was wobbling. A minor revision with the blue pills of clarity, and then a huge dose of the green pills of proofreading. After a while the engine of theme and meaning was purring.”

“Do I detect a bit of pun infecting your system?”

“No, I took the read pill while reeding.”

“Okay, I get it. A bit of dyslexia perhaps?”

“Possibly. Or perhaps pernicious practical punnery.”

“Ooh! Let’s hope it’s not that bad. Please continue.”

“It seems I have a lot of voices in my head. They are constantly telling me things about their lives. Sometimes deeply personal things. This one voice is a young girl who reminds me distinctly of a student I had back in 1994 and 1995. She was a very strong-minded young woman who definitely got her head together around the time she was thirteen and fourteen. She may have had a slight crush on me. But she had a hard time with a number of tough hands that life had dealt her in the poker game for all the marbles. It was a sort of extended poker game with the old Devil himself. And she was losing. But with a little bit of advice from me, and a whole lot of life lessons from her to me, she learned how to beat the old Devil himself. And this time the Devil was not just in the details, but also at the poker table of Life. And he cheats. But she beat him anyway. And I found I had so many things and notes and story-parts from that, that I needed to write a book about it. And when I did, it was never enough. I had to write another and another.”

“Yes, I believe I am getting the whole picture now. By the way, that’s Valerie in the picture, isn’t it?”

“It’s supposed to be, yes.”

“I see. …But leave the saw on the table, Mickey.”

“So… so, what is the matter with me, Doc?”

“Well, I hate to break it to you like this, but you want me to be completely honest with you, don’t you?”

“Yes, just give it to me straight, Doc.”

“The bad news is, Mickey, that you are an incurable novelist. You can’t help yourself at this point. You are seriously infected with storytelling.”

“Is it fatal, Doc?”

“Probably. You will definitely have this disorder until the day you die. There is no cure. There is only editing, editors, and the joy of publishing that can help you now. You just have to take it one day at a time, one story after another, from now until the final chapter ends.”

After that, I felt better. There was no cure, but at least I knew the prognosis.

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He Rose on a Golden Wing… Canto 1

This novel, my new work in progress, was not the original choice to fill this space on Tuesday’s NOVEL WRITING posts. It is not like novels I have written before. It will be longer, deeper, and probably more controversial. It will also probably not be a stand-alone story/ It will be deeply intertwined with When the Captain Came Calling, Snow Babies, and Sing Sad Songs, my previous Valerie-Clarke novels. The Cantos will not be short and will be titled with Classical music. An emphasis will be placed on thematic development and character development. And I may not do more than a few Cantos here.

Prelude and Opening Movement

Just because you cannot see someone knocking on your front door anymore, it doesn’t mean they are totally gone from your life.  In fact, sometimes the most important people in your life are the ones that you can’t touch anymore… the ones who don’t sit down at the dinner table with you anymore… the ones you can’t talk to and have them actually give you an answer anymore…  the ones who will never actually kiss you ever again.

That’s why Valerie Clarke was crying in her bedroom.  It was why she was awake with her eyes closed early into the wee hours of the morning.  It was also why she hadn’t really been aware when the racing thoughts and weepy sighs turned directly into a conversation with her angel.  It was as if Michel Volant was a part of her every-day living world.

“Why are you crying, Mon Cher?  What solace can I give to thee?”

He flapped his large white wings only once, and the swirl of cool night air helped draw away some of the heat on her face because she had been crying, and cooled her body down just enough to drain away the tightness and stress.

“Because they’re all gone, Michel.  I have nobody left.”

“Who has gone?  You mean Mary and Pidney because they have gone to College in Cedar Rapids?”

“Yes, my two best friends from high school are gone far away.  But not just them.”

“Danny Murphy because he has fallen in love with the Bates girl?”

“Yes.  He was never my boyfriend.  But he made me laugh.  And he doesn’t have time for me anymore because of Carla.  He’s deeply in love with her, and won’t risk making her jealous.  I had no closer friend when I was twelve and he was thirteen.”

“But surely there are others…”

“No.  Really, there are not.”

“You mean?”

You I know.  But…” Valerie’s eyes were open, but seeing only the darkness of the bedroom.  “I was in love with him too.  And he was… he never got to… Oh!  I can’t even say it.”

“But I was him and he was me… for a time.  So, I know he was deeply in love with you.  But he had no choice.  A hematoma in the brain that the doctors had missed…”

“And before him it was Tommy.   He came with the blizzard, and left with…”

“But you knew he had a mission in life.  He had to go.  And perhaps he will return one day.”

“He never asked me if I would let him go.  Or if I wanted to go with him.  Now, I don’t even know if he’s still alive.”

“He is.  That boy was made of iron.  He was stronger than any adult you ever met.  At least, stronger of heart.”

“And I have lost so many adults in my life too.”

“Your mother is still here.  And Uncle Dash.”

“But there was Catbird.”

“The old hobo from the blizzard?  The man with the crazy-quilt for a coat?”

“He was so wise and so good.  But when the blizzard was over… he was gone.”

“And who else did you lose?”

“My cousin Stacy.  I could talk to her about anything.  And Uncle Dash drove her away because…”

“Because she fell in love with the Toad, Brom Brown.”

“Yes…  And don’t forget Ray Zeffer.  He simply disappeared.  Remember how he saved me when the Voodoo Guy was tricking everybody?”

“The first boy who ever saw you naked.”

“Well, the first non-cousin boy.”

“And before that?”

Valerie’s eyes were blurry with tears.  Did that mean this wasn’t a dream?  Do you get blurry vision in a dream?

“Daddy…”

“Yes.  You found him in the barn…”

“And the gun was still there…”

“Oh, Ma Belle, I’m sorry to make you remember.”

 “Why did he do it?  Was it because of something I did wrong?  Was it my fault?”

“This I do not know.  But I think not.  And you must remember, the pain of losing someone is caused by their value to you.  If it hurts that much…”

“…Then that’s how much you loved them.  I know.  The pain will never go away.  He left me without ever even trying to tell me why he had to go.” She could say nothing more.  Her whole mind was full of tears.  She laid her head on his soft bare shoulder, and he folded his wing around her.  And then she realized that she was awake.  It was not so much a shoulder as it was a damp pillow.  And she desperately needed him to come back.  Her heart was broken.  Even her angel had left her behind.

Can I do this? This is going to be the hardest novel to write that I have ever yet written. I had to write it to answer critical questions I have about my own life. But reading this through for the fifth time, I still had to stop and cry three times. It’s worse now that both my mother and father have died. But if I can mend Valerie’s broken heart before this story is over, then it will more than be worth it.

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