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.
This is a picture I intend to use on the cover of Magical Miss Morgan.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
Grandma Gretel Stein talking with fairy General Tuffaney Swift.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wisdom from Pogo by the Great Walt Kelly
I get down and depressed when things continually go down hill and life becomes a depository for piles of disappointments, busted plans, and reversals of fortune. I recently got rejected again by a publisher. They told me they didn’t want my work, and subtly hinted that they really didn’t think it would be a good idea for me to submit any more to them. And this, of course, was not one of the big five. They don’t even accept submissions from a goof as lowly as me who thinks he can write stories.
I take things like that with a grain of salt anyway. Twenty years ago I was told by a published writer that my writing was good enough to be published, and that all good writing eventually gets published. But I chose the coward’s path back then, continuing to invest my time in teaching hormonal and homicidal brats to read and write English in a poverty-pocket of South Texas where they barely pay teachers anything. I chose that cowardly path because it challenged my abilities and seemed a fulfilling life… and besides, I loved working with kids. Now, my life is winding down. I am retired on a full pension which is surprisingly good compared to what most teachers get nowadays, earned at a time before the Grinch became Emperor of Texas and declared the teaching of Science and making students think were acts of pure evil. My health is failing now, and getting published in the age of the internet is now a much more iffy sort of thing where hacks can make fortunes and good writers are ignored. Even small publishers aren’t interested in my work.
Yes, I tend to say “Gork” a lot because it doesn’t matter where I go from here. I have lived a good life. Now, as I dissolve in illness and pain and disappointment, I have no regrets. I fought the good fight and did good work. If the writing thing doesn’t do anything more for me than let me entertain myself in my last days, then that is good enough. I have one book published, and I mean to continue banging away at stories that I have always intend to tell, they will continue to exist after me, at least for a while, and will represent me well when I am gone.
So, I am bound to die, and fairly soon, and we are going to have the racist Orange King as our next President, so the economy will collapse into the pocketbooks of a handful of billionaires. Doom Looms… a phrase I borrowed from a Walt Kelly strip that cut to the heart of the matter long ago. While we live, we are all together as passengers on Spaceship Earth, and we are the only enemy available to contend with. So, instead of being bummed out about bad fortune, I choose to count my blessings and seriously contemplate what I can do to make things better… whether it is in a big way, or just a little bitty one.
I may have found my Granny model. There are certain requirements to make a proper German grandmother. She has to have a face as sweet as Apfelstrudel (that’s German for apple strudel), and yet, be a typical square-headed German. This is an illustration model sheet, meaning it will be used as a guide for later illustrations. But I intend to take it a step further and do a colored-pencil version on top of this pen and ink base.
You may have noticed the little person in the picture. He’s a little too small and too oddly dressed to be an ordinary child. In fact, he is General Tuffaney Swift, a Storybook fairy who got his immortality from the stories of Tom Thumb. He is a gifted warrior and is one of the primary defenders of the fairy kingdom of Tellosia which is hidden in plain sight in the midst of my little Iowa hometown. He’s a character that I have been developing since I was in high school. There is evidence of this claim in this old colored pencil drawing from the 1970’s;
You see, the story of Recipes for Gingerbread Children involves the fairies of Tellosia and a sweet old German lady who likes to bake sweets and cookies and tell fairy stories. And it is a novel project that is swiftly absorbing my whole life. It’s funny, but that’s pretty much what happened with Snow Babies and Magical Miss Morgan. My best writing seems to come from brain bursts of inspiration that force me to put aside scheduled projects and spend all my efforts, even my blog posts, furthering the story. Soon I will be all in. I just need the right picture of a cute German grandmother.