Category Archives: novel plans

Really? …Fairies?

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I have always thought of myself as a science fiction writer.  I admit that in 2006 I realized that my province was not serious science fiction, but rather humor-driven science fiction.

In 2015 I wrote Magical Miss Morgan, a novel about being a teacher, but basically also a fairy tale.  So, I guess, with fairies invading my fiction and magically taking over at least half the stories they are part of, I am turning into a fantasy humorist rather than a straight science fiction writer.

I am at the moment re-reading my novel Magical Miss Morgan for Goodreads.com now that it has reached publication in 2018.  I am experiencing all the cringes and all the “oh, no!’s” of being a writer in print.  You end up thinking, “How could I have been so stupid as to write THAT?” way more often than is good for your continued mental well-being.  But I am also still tickled by and laughing at the best jokes and funnies in the novel, at least enough to know it is (however self-delusional it is to say this) still a good book.

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But that book is not the end of the fairy invasion.  Oh, no.  In 2016 I wrote the book Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  This book was not only about an old German woman and holocaust survivor who is a very good teller of fairy tales, but also about the fairies of Tellosia who live nearby and invisibly attend to her constantly.  She even creates for them a whole race of magical gingerbread men fairies.

This book is currently a part of the Inkitt novel contest and is available to read for free on their site this month.  Here is the link; Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  You can actually read the whole thing, and hopefully review it to help me get the needed buzz to get it published through Inkitt.

So, why fairies?  I have to admit… I don’t know.  I think I have been be-spelled, bewitched, and serious glammered with pixie dust.

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Writing Myself To Life

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I have been working on my novel The Baby Werewolf, and I am now in the final phase, working on the climax and crisis point.  And I surprised myself.  The killer monologues to the main characters who have now become his intended next victims.  I have played this out over and over in the twenty-two years I have been writing this book.  Last night, for the first time ever, the hero character laughs in this scene instead of the cringing fear that had always been there before.

How is such a thing possible?  What changed?  I have been writing and rewriting this story since 1996.  But it goes much deeper and darker than that.  This story went on my have-to-write list in 1966 when an older, stronger boy who lived near my home trapped me in a place out-of-sight of others and stripped me, gaining some horrible kind of pleasure by inflicting pain on my private parts.  Recovery from that has taken half a century.  The recovery itself probably explains why I struggled so long to pull this story together in a finished form.

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There are things about my writing life that are undeniable.  First of all, I have to write.  There is really no other choice for me.  My mind will never know rest or peace without being able to spin out the paragraphs and essays and stories that make it possible to know those things.  Nothing is real if I can’t write it out.  Secondly, I am a humorist.  If I can never be funny at all, can never write a joke, then I will descend into madness.  My sense of humor not only shields me and serves as my suit of armor, it heals me when I suffer psychic wounds.  This book is a horror story, but like many of the best horror stories, it relies on humor to drive every scene and knit the plot together.  And it was a breakthrough for me to have the hero character laugh instead of cringe in the critical scene.  It allows me to live again.  And love again.  And the real monster that caused this book to be, is now forgiven.  The world continues to turn.  The picture is now complete.  And soon, the novel will be too.

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Stupid Stuff I Think And Do

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Last night I spent a couple of hours avoiding washing the dishes that piled up in the sink for the weekend by submitting my rough draft novel Recipes for Gingerbread Children to the Inkitt free novel contest.   I am pretty sure that was a stupid thing to do.  I created the above cover to complete the submission.  I had previously decided by researching Inkitt that it was probably a bad idea to go for this kind of publishing scheme.  I cannot afford another vanity press price.  I can only manage free publishing opportunities.  I am probably better off publishing through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).

The novel is not entirely a stand-alone.  It is the companion story to The Baby Werewolf whose climax I am working on last week and this week.  It wouldn’t exist at all if it weren’t a pile of irresistible weird stuff left over from the creation of The Baby Werewolf and Superchicken.   It is full of fairy tales, “real” fairies created by fairy tales, Nazis, teenage nudist girls, and a sweet old German lady who managed to survive the holocaust.

The contest will only have four winners this month, and I did not submit it until four days before the end of the month.  Snowball’s chance in H-E-double-hockey-sticks, right? I cannot afford to pay them to publish it.  So if it doesn’t win, I tell them no.

I mistakenly believe I am a good writer and story-teller.  But that may be a totally delusional belief.  I am not any good at the publishing and promoting game.  I am forced to trust to luck, and am probably the unluckiest goober who ever lived.

And while I was tackling the crisis point of my horror novel last week, my Republican friends and family, rabid Trump supporters all, were on my case in social media about why I, as a former teacher, wasn’t completely on their side about making teachers with guns a line of defense against future school shootings.  I have to be careful what I say and support, because a single wrong word can blow up my friends on Facebook with an incendiary display of name-calling, Fox News facts (which are pretty far removed from true facts), accusations, recriminations, and crying about my stupidity.  And through it all, I am not totally convinced that the stupidity is all on my side of the word war.

So, we shall wait and see.  I did a stupid thing.  I said some stupid stuff. I have risked a lot on the current direction of the wind. And soon I will know if my stupidity has scuttled me, and I come crashing down in my sailboat to bottom of the sea… or if I am somehow right, and allowed, for now, to sail onward.

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Bedbug Crazy Planning

It occurs to me, (usually suddenly in the middle of the night making me leap out of bed with a light bulb over my head that tends to evaporate if I don’t write it down), that you may not be able to make much sense of the order of my posts, or the way that I leap from one pond frond paragraph of ideas to another with nary a bridge over troubled water between them.  The phrase, “Crazier than a bedbug” may have just leaped into your head.  If it didn’t, then I didn’t do a very good job of planting it there just now with this loony opening paragraph and my witlessly wired title for today’s post.

The problem probably begins with seeing the world as I see it.  As in, “Nobody sees the world the way you do, Mickey!”  For example, look closely as this picture of me cooking breakfast and pointlessly taking a picture of it. See the star I am cooking?

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Really?  You don’t?  How about now?

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Still don’t see it?  Well, let me try once more with my artsy-craftsy weird Pythagorean math religion skills to make you see it so you know what the heck I am talking about.

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Still don’t understand about me cooking stars in the morning for breakfast?  Well of course you don’t. You don’t think like a bedbug.  I read an article about needing protein for the first meal of the day to help diabetes and your thinking parts work like a well-oiled machine.  Err… well, like a well-oiled sausage, then.  And I see stars while I am cooking, because my mind works like that.

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So, what does the expression “Crazy as a bedbug” mean, anyway?  Well, if you have ever seen a bedbug crawling on your quilts at night… first of all, poor you!  I hope it didn’t bite you more than once… but the bedbug seems to travel on all sixes in totally random directions, suddenly stopping, backing up, and then curly-cuing onward in its bizarre little paisley-patterned way.  It is unpredictable.

My writing journey has been more or less like that.  The first novel I completed was Superchicken, set in the year 1974, in my hometown, Spring and Summer.  Then the first hometown novel I published, Catch a Falling Star, was set in 1990, Summer, in my hometown and on Mars.  Then I finished the novel Snow Babies, set in 1984, December, in my hometown during a blizzard.   I went back to the future… um, a past future… with Magical Miss Morgan, set in the 1989-90 school year in the little town where I went to junior high and high school.  It will soon be published by Page Publishing.  I published Stardusters and Space Lizards, set in 1991, entirely in outer space, but with characters from my hometown on board the space ship, on Amazon Kindle Publishing this last November, followed closely by Snow Babies, published in the same place with the same publisher.  I am now working on The Baby Werewolf, set in Fall of 1974 in my home town again.  So my writing journeys through time in total bedbug fashion.

What, then, am I planning to write this weekend and during the holiday?  I can promise you, I won’t know until tomorrow… if then.

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Nudist Notions

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This nudist camp is entirely fictional.  The actual camp in Clear Lake is a Methodist Youth Camp.

I have learned a lot more about nudists in the last few months than I probably ever wanted to know.  The book I wrote about a boy being invited to go camping with the family of a girl he liked, and then finding out it was a nudist camp, was written as rough draft back in the late 1980’s about life experiences I had in the early ’80’s.  Some things I learned back then have proven to still be true.  Some things have changed.  The things that have changed, are mostly about me.

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Nudist families in touch with nature are beautiful in ways I can’t explain.  It’s not the clothes the wear.

Naturists are happier than normal people.  They shed a lot of their hang ups and worries with their clothes.  Sunshine and cool breezes on bare skin have a healthy psychological effect.  I know this from having experimented myself.  Socially nudists are able to comfortably “live in their skin”.  Their confidence in self translates into sensible nude social behavior.  It is not about sex.  Sex is private behavior to a nudist, not public.  When nudists interact, the conversations occur eye to eye, not eye to somewhere else.  And the acceptance of how others look when naked is a critical factor in nude social interaction being beneficial.  Most nudists are not beautiful or ugly.  They are a spectrum of everything in between.  And they don’t talk about body parts or make comparisons.  Nudist men talk about sports teams and vehicle repair and politics the same way the guys in overalls at the Nutrena Feed and Farm Store.  Nudist women talk about… well, the stuff women talk about in the secret language of women that guys like me don’t understand.

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Sherry Cobble at the Sunshine Club

So those things about the nudist community have not changed over time.  True in the 1960’s is true today.  The thing most of you don’t realize is that there are lot more nudists in the world than you are reasonably ready to admit.  And the nudist community has a lot more old naturists than you probably thought possible.  Naked wrinkles and beer bellies are a thing.

What I have learned about myself by joining the nudist community (though only once at only one of the several nudist camps available in sunny Texas) is that the nakedness and thoughts about nakedness in my novels is there for a reason, and it will not go away.  I am trying to be a Young Adult novelist, which means my novels are basically aimed at a junior high and high school audience.  I have to dance a carefully straight line between the need to be honest with naked reality and Amazon’s prohibition of adult content in YA novels.  Sherry Cobble luring young boys into going camping naked with her family is on that borderline.  It is not sexual content.  But it is naked content and the barriers have been physically set aside.  The humor caused by sexual tension can’t cross the line into bawdy or lewd or pornographic.  Nor would I want it to.

But people who write fiction do it not because it’s fun.  It is necessary.  We have lived lives that leave us damaged in ways that can only be fixed through fiction.  The world has to be reshaped in words by people who can’t live with the world the way it was.  The truth is, I was sexually assaulted when I was a child, one traumatic event that clouded and warped my self-confidence, my sex life, and my self-concept.  Healing has been a life-long process.  In fiction, it means characters having to deal with the naked truth and make peace with it.  This I believe I have done in so many different ways as a teacher, a husband, a father, and a story-teller, that it simply has to be shared.  I will publish Superchicken on Amazon soon, and hopefully Edward-Andrew’s nudist adventure will pass the Amazon test.  I have some nutty nudist notions in my nerdy old noodle, but in a novel, they can all be made new.

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Today’s Little Accomplishment

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Today I completed a goal for this week.  I went to Amazon Kindle free publishing and self-published Stardusters and Space Lizards.  The cover plan shown above is for the print version priced at $4.85 on Amazon.  There will also be a $.99 Kindle version.  I am a bit wiped out from formatting, but I used this book as the learning tool.  More will be forth-coming in my rush to publish before the end of life on Earth.  Ironically, saving a planet is one of the major themes of this book.  So it is a comedy about alien invasions, cannibalism, and the end of all life on the planet.  Where do I find all these hilarious themes, do you suppose?  Ah, well.

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Writing a Canto

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“Canto” is what I idiotically call a chapter in my hometown novels.  Writing a chapter in a novel is a much more complex and difficult thing than you might  realize.  I just finished rewriting Canto 23 of the novel I am working on for the third time.  I will share that chapter here as an example of what I am blathering on about.

Canto Twenty-Three :  Scaling the Wall of the Werewolf House 

“So, you figured out how to get across the gap between the branch and the window?”  I asked Milt.

“Of course.  Look up there at the peak of the roof directly above the window.”

“What exactly am I looking at?” I asked.

“Don’t you see that knob thing on the top corner?”

Straining my eyes, I did see a tiny silver ball thing on the centerboard of the roof, right at the very peak of the corner.  It looked microscopic from the ground.

“Yeah.  So?”

“Well, that’s the answer,” said Brent, pulling a coil of rope out of his backpack.I swallowed hard.

“You mean…”

“Yeah.  I’m gonna throw the rope over the knob thing and then you can swing in through the window like Tarzan.”

I began to feel ill in the pit of my stomach.“I don’t know…”

“You aren’t gonna chicken out now?” asked Superchicken.  “This is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for a Norwall Pirate.”

“And I’m gonna be the only one swinging in?”

“Naw.  If you don’t die swinging in first, we’ll all do it.”  Brent grinned with the confidence of somebody who never experienced accidents the way the rest of us had at one time or another.

“Why do I have to do it first?” I complained.

“Because Andrew decided not to come.  We always make Andrew do the life and death stuff first.  But he’s still mad about the dilly-whacking party going bad, and nobody being willing to go to it.”  Milt was grinning that lop-sided grin of his, like a Cheshire cat, only more snarky.

“So if I die, you will tell my folks how it happened?”

“Of course,” said Brent.  “We’ll make sure they know the whole thing was entirely your idea.”

“And we’ll say you forced us to do it,” added Milt.

I looked up at the tree.  Branches for hand-holds were not too far apart.  I had climbed worse trees before that particular tree.  Then I looked at Milt.  He was nodding “Yes” and grinning.

I looked back at the tree and swallowed hard again.  Then I looked at Brent.  His grin was even more fake than Milt’s.

I looked over at Superchicken, probably the most sensible member of the Pirates.  He looked kinda grim and just shrugged at me.

I figured the time had come to decide.  I started to walk away from the base of  the tree.

“Whoa, there, buddy,” said Brent, grabbing me from behind and turning me around to face the tree again.  He gave me a push towards the tree.

Gingerly I tested each branch before I used it to pull myself upwards.  And then I got a foothold on the lowest branches.  As I climbed higher, Milt started up right behind me.

“Keep going, Todd,” Milt said.  “You can’t just stop climbing.  You stop climbing while I keep going, you end up sitting on my head.”

I looked down at him and frowned.  He grinned up at me.  When he was on the third branch up, Brent began climbing after us.  Superchicken brought up the rear guard.  If I didn’t keep going, Superchick might end up with three guys sitting on his head.

Then I got up high enough to be on the branch that was about even with what we believed was Torrie’s window.  Ooh, did that look narrow out towards the end!  But I bucked up the old courage and slid out towards the little end.

“Guys, this branch is bending down!”

“Be brave.  We’ll tell your parents you died heroically if you fall.”

“Um, yeah.”

So I ended up sitting on the narrow end of the branch, sagging down about two feet below the bottom of the window.  There was about four feet of empty space between where I sat and the window.

“Now what?” I complained.

“Now the rope!” said Brent.  He tossed it outwards and upwards, the coil carrying it up over the knob on the roof peak just as slick and as cool as Roy Rogers ever did during one of those singing cowboy shows.  The rope uncoiled back down until it dangled in front of me, just out of reach.

“So, how do I get a hold of that?” I complained again.

“Lean out and grab it,” Brent said, like that was nothing.  Like that was the easiest thing in the world.

“Yeah right.”  I leaned out as far as I could.  I could just barely touch it with the tips of my fingers.  I tried twiddling my fingers to get hold of it,  That just made it wiggle and dance out of reach.

“Lean out further,” Brent said.

“Easy for you to say.”

I leaned out an inch too far.  And suddenly I was airborne.  My feet were hanging over nothing.  My heart was trying to escape by coming up out of my throat and bursting across into the side of the house.  Or maybe that was my stomach.  My flailing hands snagged the rope.  I bashed into the side of the house with a loud thump, but I had saved myself from falling to my death like the Andrew stick figure in Milt’s diagram.

“Hang on!” said Milt and Brent together in hoarse voices.

“You hang on!” I said to Brent.  He was anchoring the rope with both hands and his legs were wrapped firmly around the branch.Just then, the window went open and the baby werewolf was looking out at me with a scared expression that was probably at least the equal to the one on my face.

“Wha-what are you doing there?” Torrie stammered.

“We came to visit you,” I said, breathlessly.

“Oh, wow!”  Torrie seemed to catch his breath.  Then he caught hold of the rope and helped Brent pull me up to the window sill.  He grabbed me by the seat of my Levis and hauled me into his attic bedroom.

Then, as I sat disheveled on the floor and looked at Torrie, his hairy face blossomed into a huge white-toothed smile.

“I can’t believe it!  I mean, I hoped you would come, but I never imagined…”

“Hey, werewolf!  Swing the rope back to us so we can come in too,” commanded Brent.  Torrie quickly moved to the window to comply, but never for a moment dropped that huge happy smile.

*****

So, there you have it.  A single filigreed puzzle piece in stand-alone form.  In the previous twenty-two cantos you would’ve learned that Torrie suffered from a genetic disorder called hypertrichosis, the werewolf-hair disease.  Because of that genetic anomaly, he was living his life in isolation and imprisonment due to his family’s shameful secrets.  Todd, the narrator-character, has vowed to befriend the secretive boy werewolf.  He is even willing to climb a tree to get to Torrie.  It kinda helps to know that stuff before you try to read and understand this canto.  But a canto has to have its own beginning, middle, and end.  There needs to be rising action, a climax, and a conclusion.  And yet, it has to link to the cantos both before and after.  And in a comic fantasy novel like this one, it helps if there are also funny bits.  You can see, then, why this canto was a struggle for me.  But I think now the hurdle is finally crossed.  So, on with the story!

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