Category Archives: novel plans

Downloading Darkness

I just finished a novel project last Thursday, completing the manuscript of Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  But being the excessively creative goofball that I am, this was not a stand-alone project.  The companion book, The Baby Werewolf,  is an incomplete manuscript of a comedy horror story about a boy with hypertrichosis, sometimes known as werewolf-hair disease.  Both books happen in the same period of time in 1974 and share both characters and events.  The boy, Torrie Brownfield, has lost his mother.  His father has brought him back to a small Iowa town where he himself was once a boy, to live in the same house where the boy’s father and uncle grew up.  The uncle, hiding some dark secrets of his own, requires that Torrie be raised in hiding up in the attic.  But this only lasts until a local farm boy,  Todd Niland, discovers Torrie’s sad existence and becomes his friend. This is a much darker story than I have tackled before, and I am no stranger to dark humor.  It is significant, though, that both Todd and Torrie are gingerbread children from the book I just finished, and even though some sad, dark things come to light in that book, they are not nearly as sad and dark as what is present in this next project.  So I had to find some inspiration before trying to re-ignite the novel forge for The Baby Werewolf.

That led me to watch the video Donnie Darko for the very first time.

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Oofah!  What a strange, horrible, yet beautiful movie!  Richard Kelly’s first film is an incredible artwork that makes your soul sing darkly.  Talk about listening to dark rabbits from the future… really, I mean, no one told anyone they should talk about about dark rabbits from the future… but this film does with a twisted elegance and ironically terrible beauty.  It discusses the sex lives of Smurfs, raises alarms with old women wandering aimlessly to the mailbox in the path of oncoming cars, and fires teachers from their jobs for discussing the short stories of Graham Greene.  There is no way I can explain in a witless-wordless movie review.  You must simply watch the movie for yourself.

Remember this musical masterpiece?  “Hello, Darkness, my old friend… I’ve come to talk with you again…”  Yes, I am entertaining the darkness again because I will be depending on her to help me write this book whose theme is going to be, “Everyone dies in the end, but the real life depends on how we deal with that fact.”

Yes, people who know me, I mean really know me, including the facts behind what I can’t actually say in this blog because the innocent must be protected, will probably worry that I am undertaking a writing project about monsters and depression and suicidal thoughts and child abuse.  I do have scars.  But I am at peace with the hard parts of the life behind me.  And from great pain and profound suffering, beautiful things can be made.  So don’t worry.  Downloading a bunch of monster-movie darkness into my stupid old head is not going to hurt me at this point in my life.  And if I can’t write it now, it will never be written.

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Filed under artists I admire, artwork, battling depression, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, forgiveness, horror movie, humor, mental health, movie review, novel, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Mickey Notes

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This is the purple-furred Mickey Icon done Don Martin-style.

If you are one of those readers who has taken to regularly reading Mickey posts on Catch a Falling Star ( a habit that is probably bad for you, but certainly not fatal), there are some things and random recent developments that you should probably be made aware of.

  • Mickey recently finished a rough-draft novel.  After giving birth to a massive 12-month-long-gestating thought artifact like that, there is bound to be some necessary recovery time involved.  He may be difficult to understand for a while as he puts the pieces of his psyche back together again.  Using mental duct tape for such things takes time and patience.
  • The novel is called Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  If that arouses curiosity in you (a condition that I also hope is not fatal… You are not a cat, are you?), there are instances of rants and delusional spoutings about this story to be found in recent posts on this blog.  Unfortunately, it will not be published immediately.  You will have to wait to actually read it until I or my heirs eventually get it published… by whatever means necessary (though I have my doubts about the plan involving kidnapped alien slaves and mimeograph machines.)
  • The novel I do have nearing publication is Magical Miss Morgan.  I recently submitted approval for final edits to my project manager for Page Publishing.  Since I am investing my own money in this publication project, I am expecting that it will get published before 2017 is done.  I will continue to relentlessly plug the thing here.
  • Page Publishing is a less expensive and less professional publisher than I-Universe that did Catch a Falling Star for me.  If you are reading this for ideas about pursuing publication yourself, I would recommend the more expensive publisher first, due to the quality of their professional editors, though I intend to continue publishing my books with less expensive self-publishing options like Amazon from here on.  As I finish the publishing process I am now involved in, I promise to complain about publishers and throw Mark-Twain-like insult fits in future blog posts.  No one should have to repeat the egregious mistakes that Mickey has made.
  • Catch a Falling Star, the blog, will continue to be a blog about my artwork, my story-telling, my teacher memories, and my generally confusing and bombastic opinions about life, the universe, and everything… including pies.  Mmm!  Pies are good.  You might even want to look at my essay on Gooseberry Pie.

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In case you were not aware of it, this purple mouse-man is Mickey, and Mickey is the writer-spirit within me.  Mickey is not actually me.  You know how Mark Twain is not really a real person?  The real person was Samuel Langhorn Clemens.  Mickey is not a really real person either.  Michael Beyer, cartoonist, writer, and former middle school teacher is the real person… if any former middle school teacher can ever be considered a real person.

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Sour Grapes and Old Foxes

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There are things still to come even though the world ended already.  I am not giving up while I still have life and breath.  I just finished an edit-review of my novel Magical Miss Morgan which I am publishing with Page Publishing, a cheaper vanity press than I-Universe with much lower publishing standards to explain the cheaper price.  I believe they are only providing a mess-up-your-spelling-and-punctuation service in lieu of editing my manuscript.  So I just now finished fixing all the corrections they made that have to be changed back.  Seriously, they wanted to change “Miss” to “Ms.” in the gol danged TITLE!  And they don’t let you write anything in all caps or use the danged … that I so often employ for pregnant pauses.  So, once this book is in print, I spend no more of my own money on publishing.  I will take the rest of my books to Amazon and self-publish.

But the book is gonna be great.  It will be worth the effort because it is among the best things I have ever written.

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This is a picture I intend to use on the cover of Magical Miss Morgan.

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I continue to put down Trump in this blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.  And I continue to get backlash.  My Trump-supporter friends make excuses and accept whatever kind of an incompetent horror he is without blinking.  Every clever put down I come up with for the Scary Orange Face yields nothing but, “You lost, get over it, libtard!” comments and further insults about Hillary and Obama that they are offended if I don’t laugh at.  But I have not un-followed or un-friended anyone.  They expect me to be civil and accepting in spite of the fact that they were never that for my candidates, even when Obama beat them twice.  But to some degree that is exactly what I have to do for their candidate.  I know them and care about them as people.  The more he betrays them and hurts them, assuming they ever realize that that’s what he’s done, the more they are going to need a friend like me who is capable of tolerating and understanding far more diverse and difficult people than they have ever been able to.  As a former school teacher, I have experiential advantages.  I know how to “love ugly”.

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So I will continue to make jokes and entertain, and try to slip a few good lessons into the mix in a way that they will actually take the medicine.  You know how Mary Poppins always recommended “a spoon full of sugar.”  As foxes go, I am definitely the old one in the title.  I am not really a red fox.  I am more of a gray fox now.  And I am not so much crafty and sly.  Just experienced enough that bears and wolves have not eaten me yet.

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I will continue to do my thinking in metaphors on this blog, a thing that protects me from a lot of my less reader-ly friends.  Metaphors just make most of them go, “Huh?”  And I will get away with saying things about them and their candidate that might make them want to exercise their “2nd Amendment rights” otherwise.  Who knows?  Maybe I can make life a little better for all of us before the orangutan we elected to the White House gets us all cooked, smothered, poisoned, and killed.

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What Mickey is Really Up to Now

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I have not been well.   Six incurable diseases combined with colder, wetter weather will do that.

But Mickey has been busy.  Yes, my goofy writer alter ego has been pecking away at a novel that pushes the boundaries of “strange” into a purple dimension where having a president that looks like a racist sour-lemon-flavored cookie dipped repeatedly in Orange Fanta with fingers covering the eye holes almost makes sense.

The novel is called Rezepte für Lebkuchen-Kinder which translates to Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  The more I let Mickey work on it, the stranger it gets.  It currently is about an old German lady who lives in a little Iowa town where she likes to bake gingerbread for children.  But it is also a fairy tale where the fairies of Tellosia are still fighting their never-ending war against darkness.  And in this story with a magical fairy war in it, there are gingerbread men who magically come to life.  There are also teenage nudists, evil Nazis from the past, fairy tales that can solve life’s problems, and a lurking possibility of werewolves.  (This is a companion novel to The Baby Werewolf and happens simultaneously to that story.)  It has hit the 20,000 word mark.  And you know how novel writing works.  Too many words all put together into the same thing will magically merge and metastasize into book form.  I know this is true, because I’ve seen Mickey do it before.

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Grandma Gretel Stein talking with fairy General Tuffaney Swift.

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Novel News

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I was going to tell you a lot about my novel Magical Miss Morgan today.  My computer had other ideas.  I was almost done with the post and working on the final edits when the computer suddenly burped and wiped it all out.  Nothing was saved but the title.  Well, I signed a contract for the novel.  I will tell you more about that  as time goes on.  The computer doesn’t want me to do more today.

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“Unfortunately, you are a Writer,” He Said.

I have made up my mind to risk investing more money in getting another book published.  Being an author, especially an unknown Indie author, is really just an expensive hobby.  Even investing in professional editorial services and print-on-demand publishers can’t help you make any money at it, even if you are talented and good at story-telling.  The best I can really hope for is to get my books in print and pray that people will discover them and like them after I die, beaten to death for a crust of bread in debtor’s prison.

So, why would anyone in their right mind want to be a writer?

It is entirely possible that I was simply born that way.  I have been drawing cartoons and telling stories since I was about five years old.  Maybe even before that.  I don’t have many clear memories of my pre-school years.  It is possible that I was lost in a library once… or dropped on my head… or in a library and having a book dropped on my head… something set it off if it wasn’t simply in my genes.

I am planning to publish Magical Miss Morgan with Page Publishing.  They are a pay-to-print publisher who are slightly more affordable than I-Universe that I used to get Catch a Falling Star into print.  I feel like I have to get it published before I die because it is the distillation of my entire life as a classroom teacher.  Books like this are important to me.  In the Bible, there are prophets and holy men who are filled with the Word of God, men like Jeremiah, that claim the Word is burning within them, and will burn its way out of them if they don’t speak it.  My stories that I am working at turning into books are like that.  They are consuming me from the inside out.  I have to get them written and printed if I possibly can.

I have recently tried and failed to get novels like Snow Babies, Magical Miss Morgan, and Superchicken published with publishers that don’t charge for their services.   I got several rejections and one contract that came to nothing because of the economic failings of the publisher.  I have tried being infinitely patient.  It doesn’t work.

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I will try to bargain for the most affordable deal I can to get Magical Miss Morgan into print.  They will apparently let me input artwork into the final cover.  I understand that successful writers tend to starve for at least fifteen years before they see any success and profit.  At best, I have six more years of that to go.  But this, after all, is my life now.  I need to write books and I need to get them published.  I am, unfortunately, a Writer.

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Tenfold…

Once again my computer betrayed me and wiped out three paragraphs in this article, instantly saving the changes so that I had to start over with nothing but the title and a lower case letter “u”.  Soon the danged machine will probably explode scattering my words all around the bedroom and getting random punctuation in my chicken soup.

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I was trying to write a post about the difficulties of becoming an “author” when my computer decided to ironically make it harder.  And this goofy notion that I know anything at all about the topic came about because of a random WordPress comment that appeared on one of my old posts.  I was told by the commentator that I had several posts that were good enough to go viral, and that if I wanted to make that happen and improve my “brand”, then all I had to do was Google “Jemensso’s tricks”.

Challenge accepted.  I know how to Google stuff.  I learned by being a tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy nutcase.  (Did you know that you can not only find numerous well-argued sources that indicate we never actually went to the moon, and only faked the moon landings in Hollywood, but also visual confirmation that we actually did land with high resolution photos of the various landing sites taken from space telescopes this month?  And those photos even show the tracks where the moon buggies traveled through the sands of the moon.)  So, I first discovered that my blog is not the only blog that got this message.  I found a plethora of them, some in the exact same words.  And then I located this informative page HERE.

It would seem to indicate that any benefits you can get will cost you at least some money.  And that is the biggest irony of being a writer who foolishly imagines that he can become something called an “author”.   You end up having to pay money instead of earning it.  Each of my two published novels were done with different publishers.  The first was a squirrelly print-on-demand company that doesn’t charge you to print your novel.  They don’t employ any editors or marketers either.  It is a good way to get student work into book form, and parents will gleefully shell out the money for a copy of their darlings’ writing in book form, but it is no way to get a novel published.  I could have sent them a 200 page manuscript of monkey-typing, and they would have put it in book form.

The second book, Catch a Falling Star, was done with I-Universe, a publisher that is now a branch of Penguin Books.  But it is basically an Indie publisher.  I had to invest my own money in the creation of the book.  I had to pay the editors, proofreaders, and marketers that I got to work with.  I ended up with a product that made me proud, but that I really couldn’t sell.  I am still more than $6,500 short of recouping my investment.  I do not recommend that path, unless, like me, you really crave the experience of working with competent, professional editors.  It was worth it to me to do it once.

But now I am out of money and out of options.  I led with a banner that shows I have four complete and unpublished manuscripts that I want to do something with.  I am busy with three more that are past the 15,000-word threshold… where you have to consider the work for completion because it is, at that point, almost half done.  Where will I go with them?  What will I do with them?  The answers will, I hope, eventually appear here in this goofy blog.  And I am sure they will probably surprise us both.

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