Category Archives: NOVEL WRITING

The Education of PoppenSparkle… Canto 11

Canto 11 – Battle Plans

The meeting that followed the feast was limited to the Mouse King and Zam his wife, Prinz Flute and his three companions,  Lord Lancelot, and the Rascal, who was forced to sit next to PoppenSparkle because he was apparently no longer welcome as Lancelot’s Squire.  Schtinker, of course, wanted badly to be there, but he was taken to the bathhouse with the other Sylph children that didn’t pass the smell test before bedtime.

“I think the solution is obvious.  We use Poppy’s Polymorph Spell to turn as many Gobbuluns into Fairies as it is possible to do.  We bolster our army with the converts from theirs.” Prince Flute looked pleased with himself as he announced the plan to the whole table.

“Nonsense!”  Lancelot sat with his arms folded in front of him and his reddish, tired eyes glaring at the map on the center of the table.

“Why is it nonsense?”  Flute insisted.

“Because we are doomed here.  The Stoor has his ugly army, and Lord Toxiss brought his vast army all the way from distant Sheek-a-go.”

“The Slow Ones actually pronounce that place Chicago,” Tod corrected helpfully.

“I don’t care what you call it.  The point is… we are so outnumbered, they will overwhelm us, slaying everybody who is not immortal, and then swarming down to Cair Tellos to do the same to them.  We have only one play here.  We make a glorious last attack, kill so many of them before they overwhelm us that they can’t muster a big enough force to overwhelm Cair Tellos.  We will die heroes.”

“You won’t die,” pointed out the Rascal.  “You are an immortal Storybook.  The rest of us will all die for your glory and you’ll walk into Cair Tellos to claim all the credit.”

“You wound me, Rascal.  Did I not save your life a dozen times over in the Battle of the Arcanum?”

“You did.  But you decimated the entire army doing it.  We would have sold our lives better defending the castle rather than fighting them on the open fields.”

“Okay, perhaps we choose to die on the parapets of Castle Cornucopia.  Maybe we can take more of them out if we make them climb our walls and pour down the hot oils as they try to climb up…”

The Mouse King cleared his throat.  “Zam and I have three little mouselings to care for.  And there are hundreds of Sylph and Elf children left orphaned by the war that could use new parents.  We don’t want anyone to die who doesn’t have to.  And don’t we know that at least a few of the Gobbuluns out there are citizens of Cornucopia that have been changed by Lord Toxiss?”

“We won’t do ourselves any good to change a few of the Gobbuluns the way the girl did today.  It won’t make a sizeable enough difference, and she will just exhaust her magic getting Gobbuluns changed so other Gobbuluns can kill them.  It would be futile… a wasted effort.”

“I think, Lord Lancelot, that the point where your heroics are sorely needed, is at the gate where you and your best soldiers can defend and gather the changed ones into the castle as we change them.”  Flute smiled as he obviously was trying to manipulate Lancelot’s ego.

“You cannot change enough of them with one little girl casting one little spell.”

“We can do better than that!” said Glittershine.  “I helped PoppenSparkle write the spell into her spell book.  I already am familiar with the spell.  Tod and Flute can also study it.  We will have four Wizards, not one, changing bad guys into good guys.”

“If we should happen to accidentally win the war that way, what will you do with all the new Fairies?  Where will they live?”

“You know good and well, Lancelot, that the Castle Cornucopia is huge.  We have thousands of towers, secret rooms, mushroom gardens, Fairy houses, businesses, and entertainments in this big, old barn that haven’t had enough Fairy people to live in them since King Pallas and his army were destroyed by Darvon Redsoul, the Great Dragon.”  The Mouse seemed to be getting a bit hot under the collar to Poppy.

“And as Glitter mentioned, there will be four talented Wizards helping to repopulate the place,” said Flute, grinning like a fox.

“Very well, then.  It is obvious that you have to learn the hard way.  I will go along with this plan if only to prove you wrong.”

“Will your plan really work?” the Rascal whispered to Poppy.

“I think so.  I am not as confident as any of the rest of you, but I am just learning how to be a Wizard.  But if Flute believes in the plan, then, I think I believe in it too.”

“I hope so.  I thought it was a great honor to be chosen as Lord Lancelot’s Squire.  But right now, I just need to see him proven wrong… even if it kills me.”

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Filed under Paffooney, novel, NOVEL WRITING, heroes, fairies, Hidden Kingdom

Stories with Gingerbread

Yes, this post is a shameless promotion. But this is a good book that not enough people are reading to truly appreciate that fact. When I was a boy in the 1960’s, there really was an old German lady who lived in a small tar-papered house, all ginger-brown in color, which we all called the Gingerbread House. She really did love to give out sweets and cookies and popcorn balls to the kids in our town. And she really did love to talk to people and tell them little stories.

Grandma Gretel Stein

Her name, in real life, was Marie Jacobson. She was, in fact, a survivor of the holocaust. She had a tattoo on her right forearm that I saw only one time. Our parents told us what the tattoo meant. But there were no details ever added to the story. Mrs. Jacobson doted on the local children. She regularly gave me chocolate bars just because I held the door for her after church. But she was apparently unwilling to ever talk about World War II and Germany. We were told never to press for answers. There was, however, a rumor that she lost her family in one of the camps. And I have always been the kind that fills in the details with fiction when the truth is out of reach.

Ignore the dates above. The Free-Book Promotion runs from June 24th to June 28.

I based the character of Grandma Gretel on Mrs. Jacobson. But the facts about her secret life are, of course, from my imagination, not from the truth about Mrs. Jacobson’s real life.

Marie Jacobson cooked gingerbread cookies. I know because I ate some. But she didn’t talk to fairies or use magic spells in cooking. I know because the fairies from the Hidden Kingdom in Rowan disavowed ever talking to any slow one but me. She wasn’t Jewish, since she went to our Methodist Church. She wasn’t a nudist, either. But neither were my twin cousins who the Cobble Sisters, the nude girls in the story, are fifty percent based on. A lot of details about the kids in my book come from the lives of my students in Texas. The blond nudist twins were in my class in the early eighties. And they were only part-time nudists who talked about it more than lived it.

Miss Sherry Cobble, a happy nudist.

But the story itself is not about nudists, or Nazis, or gingerbread children coming to life through magic. The story is about how telling stories can help us to allay our fears. Telling stories can help us cope with and make meaning out of the most terrible things that have happened to us in life. And it is also a way to connect with the hearts of other people and help them to see us for who we really are. And that was the whole reason for writing this book.

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Filed under autobiography, fairies, gingerbread, humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

The Education of PoppenSparkle… Canto 10

Canto 10 – In the Home of the Leaf Witch

The Mouse King seemed extremely happy that Poppy’s spell brought him new Sylphs, Butterfly Children, and Elves.  He led all the new folks to the feast hall that had apparently been closed up for a while before their arrival.

“Please,  make yourselves at home.  You are welcome here, as long as your allegiance shifts from the Unseely Court to our people!” the Mouse said enthusiastically.

“You are not going to feed these imposters when they could be put to better use attacking the enemy on the battlefield?” growled Lord Lancelot.

“Nonsense.  These Fey Children are our brothers now.  We need them to fill in for all the families we have lost recently.  We must make them feel welcome.”

A beautiful young-looking Sylph girl wearing only leaves and a simple loincloth came into the room leading a chain of Sylph children, each carrying bowls of freshly made food.

“Zam has welcome feast for all new guys!” said the girl.

“Who is Zam?” PoppenSparkle asked Tod.

“She is.  Zam is the Mouse King’s wife.  She’s a very unusual Sylph, better known as the Leaf Witch.”

Poppy suddenly realized how many of the spell scrolls she’d been given to read since her liberation from the Necromancer had the Leaf Witch’s name on them.

“She has magical skills like yours,” said Flute to Poppy.  “I discovered her when we needed to slay the dragon, Darvon Redsoul.”  He smiled,  beaming with pride at his own accomplishment.

“How do we know we can trust these people?” Lancelot said loudly to everyone.

“What do you mean?” asked the Mouse King.

“Less than an hour ago, all these people were Gobbuluns!  Or am I mistaken about what I saw?”

“You are not mistaken.  PoppenSparkle, my newest apprentice, has developed a rare spell that polymorphs members of the Unseely Court into full-blooded members of the Fey Children.” Prince Flute indicated Poppy where she sat next to him, and all eyes turned to focus uncomfortably on her.

Lancelot focused angry, red eyes on her.  “So, how exactly did you do that, Miss Butterfly Witch?”

“Well, I… uh…”

“I kin tells ya that!” exclaimed young Schtinker.

“Oh?  And how does she do it, then?”

“She makes ‘em smarter!  They changes cuz they is no longer dumb enough to be Gobbuluns.”

“And what does it mean, then, that you sound so dumb?”  Lancelot glared so fiercely that Schtinker hid behind Glittershine’s wings.”

“That’s it!  That has to be how they do it!” shouted a young Elf from across the hall.

“And what do you mean by that, Gobbulun-boy?” Lancelot shouted back.

“I was a Gobbulun just a short while ago because Lord Toxiss had me as a prisoner of war, and he changed me from an Elf into a Cyclopes. He did it with a spray of smelly goo that made me get dumber and dumber until I believed I was a Cyclopes.  The Butterfly Witch changed me back by making me smarter again with her magical mist.”

“Of course!  As simple as that!” said Flute, slapping his bare knee with the eureka moment.

“What do you mean?” asked Lancelot.

“It’s the fundamental magical formula that we have been researching all this time.  The key is knowledge… intelligence!  Our very existence is based on the beliefs of Slow Ones that there is magic in the world, simply not yet understood by their science.  And believing in something can make it so.  So, by increasing intelligence and understanding, you build a foundation to hold up that belief.  The more you know, the more strongly you believe!”

“So, how does that help us at present?  We are surrounded by the enemy, stupid, malevolent, violent Gobbuluns, outnumbering us by hundreds to one.  You want to teach them all basic grammar or something?”  Lancelot was wildly gesturing in all directions as he spoke angry words.

Zam the Leaf Witch suddenly climbed up on the table so she could look down on Lancelot with a goofy grin on her child-like face.  She ignited a purple, magical flame in her right hand.

“You is not getting it, Lancy.  Is not smartness from the head we is talking about.  It is from the heart.  Knowledge and Love combined is what be magical.  Miss Poppy-Sparky is right to change Gobbuluns to Fey Children.  Even they is knowing it be more right that way.  You needs to try a dose.”

Whatever the purple fire in the witch’s hand was, she launched it directly at Lancelot’s chest.  But when it struck the area where his heart should be, it burst and dissipated.

Lancelot looked dumbstruck.  And then, obviously, that was immediately converted to shame.  He turned and left the feast hall with his head hanging low.

“Lord Lancy have been doing the fighting thing for too many, many years.  He be kinda down-hearted. We forgives him.  He will get better.”

The feast settled down into conversations and the enjoyment of Fairy dishes like mushroom tips, bean sprouts, dandelion butter, and mint leaves.  The relieved residents of Cornucopia welcomed the new replacement Fairies that had once been Gobbuluns.

“She’s a treasure, that one,” said Flute, pointing at Zam.  “No one gets the better of her in her own feast hall.  Not even Lord Lancelot.”

“What was that spell she put on Lancelot?” Tod asked.

“A heart spell of some kind,” answered Glittershine.  “But didn’t you notice?  It didn’t reach his heart.”

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PoppenSparkle’s Summer Vacation

Many doctors’ appointments, eye treatments, and needed exercise to combat diabetes have all conspired to fill my time to the point that I haven’t gotten publishable work done on the writing projects. So, today there is no completed Canto 10 to share on the novel-writing day. It will be called In the Home of the Leaf Witch when I do have it published.

So, today I will share some meta-data that you might be interested in if you wonder at all how a novel project proceeds in the mind of an extra-goofy writer.

Poppy’s little novella (a book between 15,000 and 25,000 words in length) was conceived as a sequel to The Necromancer’s Apprentice, which is both a parody of the story The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the Mickey Mouse version, and a coming-of-age story about a Sylph girl named Derfentwinkle. Derfie is an enslaved servant of an evil Necromancer at the beginning of the story, sent on a suicide mission against the leaders of the good fairies in Tellosia. She ends up captured alive by an eccentric Sorcerer named Eli Tragedy. He reforms and trains her to spite the Necromancer, his old enemy.

Derfentwinkle is the main character of her story, and the sister of Poppensparkle in this story.
PoppenSparkle is a Butterfly Child. That means she is a Fairy who can fly with butterfly wings. Her sister saved her from the Necromancer, and it was discovered that she has rare magical talents that the Kingdom of Tellosia desperately needs.

The Fairies of Tellosia are tiny compared to the human beings they live around. They call humans the Slow Ones because humans are easily fooled by Fairy glammers and disguise magic.

Glittershine is one of PoppenSparkle’s teachers.

Poppy’s magical education begins as a journey on rooster-back from the Fairy Castle of Cair Tellos to the distant Castle of Cornucopia where a war is raging and several critical magical problems have to be solved.

Prinz Flute, the son and heir of the High Wizard of Tellosia, has taken over Poppy’s education.

So, if you are actually waiting impatiently for Canto 10 to drop and appear on this blog, keep an eye on us here at Catch a Falling Star. It will get published as soon as it is acceptably written and edited. And if you are not waiting for the next installment in the way readers once waited for the next chapter of Charles Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop, thus contradicting Mickey’s delusion that he is in any way like Dickens as an author, you can continue to glance at the pictures, ignore the text, and move on without clicking the “like” button like most readers do.

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Filed under fairies, humor, illustrations, medical issues, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Terry Pratchett, the Grand Wizard of Discworld

image borrowed from TVtropes.com

image borrowed from TVtropes.com

I firmly believe that I would never have succeeded as a teacher and never gotten my resolve wrapped around the whole nonsense package of being a published author if I hadn’t picked up a copy of Mort, the first Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett that I ever encountered.  I started reading the book as a veteran dungeon-master at D&D role-playing games and also as a novice teacher having a world of difficulty trying to swim up the waterfalls of Texas education fast enough to avoid the jagged rocks of failure at the bottom.  I was drinking ice tea when I started reading it.  More of that iced tea shot out my nose while reading and laughing than went down my gullet.  I almost put myself in the hospital with goofy guffaws over Death’s apprentice and his comic adventures on a flat world riding through space and time on the backs of four gigantic elephants standing on the back of a gigantic-er turtle swimming through the stars.  Now, I know you have no earthly idea what this paragraph even means, unless you read Terry Pratchett.  And believe me, if you don’t, you have to start.  If you don’t die laughing, you will have discovered what may well be the best humorist to ever put quill pen to scroll and write.  And if you do die laughing, well, there are worse ways to go, believe me.

lasthero

Discworld novels are fantasy-satire that make fun of Tolkien and Conan the Barbarian (written by Robert E. Howard, not the barbarian himself) and the whole world of elves and dwarves and heroes and dragons and such.  You don’t even have to love fantasy to like this stuff.  It skewers fantasy with spears of ridiculousness (a fourth level spell from the Dungeons of Comedic Magic for those fellow dungeon masters out there who obsessively keep track of such things).  The humor bleeds over into the realms of high finance, education, theater, English and American politics, and the world as we know it (but failed to see from this angle before… a stand-on-your-head-and-balance-over-a-pit-of-man-eating-goldfish sort of angle).

makingmoneycover

Terry Pratchett’s many wonderful books helped me to love what is ugly, because ugly is funny, and if you love something funny for long enough, you understand that there is a place in the world even for goblins and trolls and ogres.  Believe me, that was a critical lesson for a teacher of seventh graders to learn.  I became quite fond of a number of twelve and thirteen year old goblins and trolls because I was able see through the funny parts of their inherent ugliness to the hidden beauty that lies within (yes, I know that sounds like I am still talking about yesterday’s post, but that’s because I am… I never stop blithering about that sort of blather when it comes to the value hidden inside kids).

a-hatful-of-sky

I have made it a personal goal to read every book ever written by Terry Pratchett.  And that goal is now within reach because even though he is an incredibly prolific writer, he has passed on within the last year.  He now only has one novel left that hasn’t reached bookstores.  Soon I will only need to read a dozen more of his books to finish his entire catalog of published works.  And I am confident I will learn more lessons about life and love and laughter by reading what is left, and re-reading some of the books in my treasured Terry Pratchett paperback collection.  Talk about your dog-eared tomes of magical mirth-making lore!  I know I will never be the writer he was.  But I can imitate and praise him and maybe extend the wonderful work that he did in life.  This word-wizard is definitely worth any amount of work to acquire and internalize.  Don’t take my convoluted word for it.  Try it yourself.

borrowed from artistsUK.com

borrowed from artistsUK.com

map

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The Education of PoppenSparkle… Canto 9

Canto 9 – The Mad Fight

Prince Flute’s rooster riders made a mad dash for Castle Cornucopia.  They all knew that their presence was desperately needed.  But more than ever was their presence required since Poppy’s new spell provided an answer to the war problem that the Fairies never had before.  Bad guys could be changed into allies by magic.  And once having a taste of life as a Sylph or an Elf, the Gobbuluns definitely preferred to stay in their new bodies on the side of the Fairies.

“We promise to fight hard for the Cornucopians,” said the Elf, the fastest learner of Fairy English.  “There is no going back for us.  And even if we have to fight and kill our former friends, they are such low and horrid creatures that we will not shed a tear over them.”

“Not ebben for me wifey!” added one of the Sylphs.  “She be too uglee and stoopid for keepin’.”

They all rounded the final turn, and Castle Cornucopia was laid out before them.  It was, of course, actually a Slow One’s barn with Fairy ramparts and towers added to all the wooden walls, but disguised by magical glammers that made the barn appear to be a normal functioning palace for milk cows.

But the truly unbelievable part was the fact that the entire defense force, instead of manning the fortified walls and ramparts, were out in the middle of the field to the east of the castle, surrounded by a sea of raging green Gobbuluns and enemies from the Unseely Court.

“What’s this?  Why is Lancelot attacking rather than defending the castle?” Prinz Flute was shocked.

“He be mad, dat one!” called out Schtinker.

“We have to help them survive.  That is the entire defense force of the castle about to be slain!” cried Tod.

“No, no, no…!” called out Glittershine.

Flute turned to Poppy and put a hand on each of her arms.  “Can you polymorph a really large number of Gobbuluns into Fairies?”

“I… I don’t know.  That takes an immense amount of power.  It will completely exhaust me, and I doubt I can change enough of them to make a difference.”

“Can you try, please?  As many as you can, on the side closest to the castle so the encircled army has a way to escape.”

“I will do the best I can…”

PoppenSparkle gathered all the energy her tired body could hold.  It wasn’t enough because she hadn’t absorbed enough sunshine since she had changed the four from the abandoned barn.   But it would change a few dozen completely.  She crackled with the summoned charge of energy, and then carefully spied out the area of fighting Gobbuluns she meant to target.

The power left her fingertips as soon as she uttered the trigger word and formed into a lightning bolt before becoming the transformational cloud over the writhing Gobbulun bodies.  They twisted and morphed as if they were made of clay and became mostly naked and poorly armed Sylphs, Elves, and Butterfly Children.

“Men of Cornucopia!  Follow me back to the castle!” shouted Prinz Flute, dashing forward to toss fireballs with his wand into the crowds of green Wartoles that hadn’t been touched by the polymorphing cloud.

“No!  Hold your ground men!  We will be covered in glory this day, even if we all die.”  Lancelot seemed outraged at Flute trying to take command.

“Look at all these new Fey Children on our side, Lord!  We now have a chance to hold the castle.  Why should we still go through with the plan to sacrifice ourselves?  We don’t have to die now!  And you will not die in any case.”  The Rascal was obviously defying his master.  But it was effective.  The Sylphs under Lancelot’s command broke ranks, fighting only to protect their escaping  brethren.  The mass of Fairy warriors flooded back towards the castle, carrying Flute’s rooster riders and all the newly made Fairies with them.

At the castle gate, Lord Lancelot, King Mouse, and Prinz Flute all pulled up short of it to shout at each other.

“How dare you countermand my battle plan?” roared Lancelot.

Prinz Flute, taken aback, quickly replied, “How dare you try to get everyone killed in spite of the fact that I provided you with a means to survive the day, and possibly win the war?”

King Mouse was a Pixie, of the kind that take on the partial form of woodland creatures.  His head and paws and tail were all very mouse-like, while his body was very hunman-shaped and capable of wearing a suit of Fairy armor.

“I know your status as Tellosian Hero means you outrank me, Lord Lancelot, but as King of Cornucopia, I side with Prinz Flute on the question of whether today is the day we all die or not.”

“Well, we can’t exactly reform the troops and attack again now.  But I would rather take the fight to them than hole up for a siege and defensive last stand.”

Prinz Flute seemed to be actively trying to calm himself.  Poppy appreciated how calm he could make himself in dire situations.  “You must come in and listen to the new plans I have formulated.  I have made a breakthrough in magical research that might win the day for us without fighting battles against foes that outnumber us.”

Angry as Lancelot still seemed, he nodded his assent.

The Rascal ran up to him to make a report on the retreat into the castle.

Lord Lancelot eyed him coldly.  “I have no time for disobedient underlings.  Rascal, you are dismissed from my service.”

Crestfallen, the boy turned and walked back into the castle without making a report.

“Now that we have more men to defend the walls with,” said King Mouse, “let’s retire to the throne room and discuss further strategy.

Flute signalled to Poppy, calling her to him.  “You have saved the day yet again, PoppenSparkle.”

“I only did the magic.  You made it happen.”

“You look exhausted, little one.”

She smiled.  She was actually taller than Flute, but not about to contradict him.  He put his arm around her to guide her.

Lord Lancelot stood in the gateway, looking at the stupidly confused horde of Gobbuluns.  He finally turned and entered too so that the gate could be shut and barred.

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The Education of PoppenSparkle… Canto 8

Canto 8 – The Abandoned Barn

As the group continued to ride the roosters, little Schtinker could not stop talking.  Poppy talked to him as soothingly as possible, hoping to calm him and quiet him.

“We is headed to badness!” insisted Schtinker.

“You should say, We are headed for trouble,” corrected Poppy. 

“We are headed for trouble.  That knight don’t care bout ennybuddy but his own self.”

“You mean,  That knight doesn’t care about anybody but himself.

“See there?  You know it yourself!” said the exasperated Schtinker.

“You know,” said Flute leaning over from his rooster saddle to look Schtinker squarely in the eyes, “This kid is learning to speak better almost instantly.”

“This kid can thinks bedder dan he ever does before.  Troll thinking comes hard and slow.  But my mind is getting faster da more I uses it.”

“Let’s make for that abandoned barn over there.  We need to study this polymorphed little phenomenon a little bit closer.” Flute pointed at the huge rotting structure that had once been the kind of fortress for cows that Slow Ones called a barn.

“But it is urgent that we get to Castle Cornucopia fast,” warned Tod.

“I have an idea that we may benefit more by what Poppy has learned to do with her magic than any sword swings or fireballs we could add to the battle to come.”  Flute grinned as he spurred Tannehauser towards the run-down old barn.

“You is no knowing what you is doing, Prinz-guy.  Dat barn be da home of Gobbuluns!” warned Schtinker.

“Yes, I know.  But tell me, Stinky, do you really want to become a Troll again?  Or would rather stay a Sylph boy?”

Schtinker got suddenly wide-eyed and serious.   “You mean I can be dis permanent-like?”

“He can, can’t he, Poppy?”  Flute asked.

“I would have to make a difficult spell translation to turn him back into a Troll, and I like him better like this.”  PoppenSparkle smiled at the wiggly former Troll.

Schtinker gave her a hug for the sheer joy she had apparently filled his little Sylph body with.

Once inside the old barn Flute made the group dismount and gather in a circle amidst the old tractor-tire ruts on the barn’s dried mud floor.

“Poppy, I need to cast a rather invasive spell on you to measure things in your mind. You will have to disrobe for me to do it,” Flute said. He was not asking for permission.

“Sure. I prefer to be naked.” Poppy had no trouble slipping off the bikini-like armor that protected her from mind spells. Her butterfly wings magically unfurled.

Flute pulled a scroll out of his pouch attached to his loincloth. “Messen Sie die Metriken in ihrem Kopf. Finschole!” Sparks flew out of his fingertips and embedded themselves in her forehead. Poppy’s field of vision turned into multicolored clouds.

“Aha! It’s just as I thought. Her polymorph spell not only reshapes the body, it boosts the intelligence in the parts of the brain of the subject that serve the principles of light. It’s a mix of changing the shape and changing darkness into light.”

“So, what does that mean?” asked Tod.

“Let me test the boy to make certain of it.” Flute cast the same spell on young Schtinker.

“Just as I thought. We can turn Gobbuluns of various sorts into Sylphs, Elves, or Brownies simply by turning their inherent darkness into light.”

“Weez doan no wut you iz talkin’, but weez tanks you for bringin’ us chickie meatz an Fairy bodeez to eats!”

Four Gobbuluns gathered together atop a rotting hay bale with mushrooms growing on it. They were armed with spears that were basically sharpened sticks.

Prinz Flute looked them over humorlessly, then broke into a huge smile. “Poppy, I think we may have just found some recruits for the upcoming battle. Can you morph them the same way you did Schtinker? Please?”

Poppy leaned into the spell and enveloped the three Wartoles and one Cyclopes in her spell cloud.

The Gobbuluns didn’t even have time to scream. The cloud dispersed leaving behind three Sylph warriors with iron-tipped spears and one Elf with an Elven bow and quiver of arrows.

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Why Wizards Write Writing That’s Wonky

To be a wizard is to be wise. Look at the word origin if you don’t believe me.

wizard (n.) early 15c., “philosopher, sage,” from Middle English wys “wise” (see wise (adj.)) + -ard . Compare Lithuanian žynystė “magic,” žynys “sorcerer,” žynė “witch,” all from žinoti “to know.” (Wisely plagiarized from http://www.etymonline.com/word/wizard)

Mickey, the old fool that he is, thinks of himself as a wizard

Mickey is a wizard. He writes down foolish things like that because he knows that the beginning of wisdom is to recognize that you are no more than a fool. You can laugh, but it’s true. Some wise guy that I am paraphrasing here said so. (Probably Socrates.) So, that makes it true

Don’t believe me? Want to debate me?

Have you taken the step yet of recognizing your own foolishness?

How can you be wise if you never take the first step down the path to wisdom?

And what defines a wizard, is that a wizard writes. He must write his wisdom down. Otherwise, there are no fruits of his wisdom. I tend to write mostly strawberry wisdom. That kind of fruit is tart and sweet in season, but sours easily and spoils in hot weather and dry kitchens. Blueberry fruits are probably better. They become tarter and sweeter with dryness, kinda like good humor and subtle jokes. But enough of the fruit-metaphor nonsense. The best fruit of wisdom is the Bradbury fruit. I confess to having eaten often of Bradbury Pie. Dandelion Wine and The Illustrated Man leap to mind, but there are far more Bradbury Pies than that.

My latest published Beyer-berry Pie. (but only if you go back in time to 2020)

So, if Mickey is a wizard, and wise wizards write wisdom, then where do we get Beyer-berry Pie?

The strawberry-flavored pies are found in the My Books page of this blog, though the author’s page on Amazon is a more up-to-date list.

Here’s a link https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Beyer/e/B00DL1X14C/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Recently the fool of a wizard, Mickey, planned to set up a free-promotion weekend for A Field Guide to Fauns. But because he cast a time-warp spell and leaped from 2020 to 2022, he now is offering a free copy of Sing Sad Songs until the end of May 2022. Honestly, as Mickey Books go, Sing Sad Songs is one of his very best.

The foolishness begins below..

Of course, I probably can’t sell a single copy of A Field Guide to Fauns. Potential readers will see that there are naked people in this book about nudists and automatically think that Mickey is too weird and crazy to be a good writer. But good writers like Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut can be bizarre in their writing too. (I wonder what Vonnegut-berry Pie would taste like? I must read Cat’s Cradle again, for the third time.) Probably at least blueberry-flavored, if not gooseberry.

But even failed wizards can write wizardly writing if they write with wit and, possibly, with real wisdom,

If I have any wisdom at all to share in this post about wisdom, it can be summed up like this;

  • Writing helps you with knowing, and knowing leads to wisdom.  So take some time to write about what you know.
  • Writing every day makes you more coherent and easier to understand.  Stringing pearls of wisdom into a necklace comes with practice.
  • Writing is worth doing.  Everyone should do it.  Even if you don’t think you can do it well.
  • You should read and understand other people’s wisdom too, as often as possible.  You are not the only person in the world who knows stuff.  And some of their stuff is better than your stuff.
  • The stuff you write can outlive you.  So make the ghost of you that you leave behind as pretty as you can.  Someone may love you for it.  And you can never be sure who that someone will be.

So, there you have it. The full measure of the wacky wizard’s wisdom was written down by the wise-fool-wizard Mickey.

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The Education of PoppenSparkle… Canto 7

Canto 7 – Dat Killah Nite

When Fairies die, at least, when the good ones die, they do not leave a corpse behind.  The magical energy they are made of, originating from the sun, disperses into the air, sometimes leaving tiny bones behind, but usually leaving nothing. 

When the corrupted minions of the Unseely Court, the evil Fairies, die, they turn back into the mud and clay they were originally animated from.

So, a battlefield of a great Fairy battle would look exactly like the Arcanum looked as the little band of Fairies led by Flute entered into its vastness.

“The bodies of Gobbuluns are everywhere,” said Flute as he pointed out several lumps of Wartole-shaped mud and clay.  There were a couple of Cyclopes-shaped mud piles as well.

“There was a huge battle here?” asked Tod.

“Obviously.  First the dead Trolls, and now this.”  Flute shook his head sadly.

“Did our side win?” asked Poppy.

“There’s no way to tell.  If the Fey Children won, there should be living soldiers and Fairy beasts on the field.  The dead have returned to the air.”

“But, Flute, perhaps the winners have already left for home.  You don’t know for sure that we lost.”  Tod looked extremely upset.

“We shall see.  We must search the battlefield,” said Flute as he picked up a fallen banner from the Castle Cornucopia.

Glumly they continued to search the battlefield.

Suddenly, little Schtinker in Poppy’s lap became highly agitated.

“Dat killah nite!” cried the squirming boy Sylph.

“What are you talking about?”

The Sylph pointed at a silhouette on the top of a nearby knoll.  It appeared to be an armored Sylph knight astride a ridinghawk.  Next to him was a younger Sylph astride a pigeon.

“Hail and well met!” called the knight.  “You are late to the battle, Prinz Flute.”

“Lord Lancelot!  How did the battle go?”

With a short swoop, the hawk brought the famous knight near to where the roosters had stopped.  To their credit, neither rooster flinched at the presence of a red-tailed hawk.

“We would’ve lost had not the yon squire known as the Rascal and I cleverly used my immortality as a Storybook to slay the remaining Gobbuluns from the air after the Legion of Cornucopia overwhelmed the Dark Lord Ebon Sneezer.”

“None other of the Cornucopians survived?” asked Tod in horror.

“The Castle Guard remains at Castle Cornucopia,” said Lord Lancelot.  “All the rest are dead.”

The Rascal on his pigeon fluttered up.  “Lord, we must return to the castle quickly!  The Storr and Lord Toxiss will be sending a siege army there.  They will be overwhelmed without us!”

The Rascal looked at Lancelot with an expression of urgency on his young, dark-eyed face.  The knight looked back at him exhausted and pale.

“We go, then.  Prinz Flute, we need your aid, both magical and swordical.  Or our ally, King Mouse, will be lost.”

 Almost immediately the hawk launched into the air.

The Rascal looked at Flute and his companions, smiled a weak, dispirited smile, and took off on the pigeon.

“We no go wid dat killah nite!” protested Schtinker.  “Heem will murdah all ob us!”

“What is the urchin saying?” asked Tod.

“I think he saw Lancelot kill the other trolls and is afraid he will kill us too,” said Poppy.

“Nonsense.  He’s a great knight and trusted friend.”  Flute shot a disgusted glare at the child.

“Heem let alla guyz in heem armies fit furst,  den heem killah alla Trollz wayne dey iz dead.”

“Is he saying that Lord Lancelot wastes the lives of his troops even though he’s immortal himself?” asked Glitter.

“Surely not.  The little stinker doesn’t really know how to speak the Slow Ones’ English,” said Tod.

Poppy tried to calm Schtinker.  But he was deeply agitated.  And as to whether Schtinker could talk or not, she wondered at the fact that Lancelot had used the word, “swordical.”

“The situation is dire, no matter how you look at it,” said Flute.  “So, we go to Castle Cornucopia immediately.”

They spurred the roosters to run to the northwest.  But Poppy did not feel good about it.

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The Education of Poppensparkle… Canto 5

Canto 5 – Across the Open Arcanum

The next morning Tod and Flute invited the girls to look at the map with them.

“We are here, just south of the Troll Bridge and about to enter into the beanfields of the Arcanum, west of the  Slow-One Fortress called Duffy’s Farm.”  Flute pointed to the spot in the center of the map.  “We have to cross the bridge, and cut across an expanse patrolled by heroes from Demarceaux’s Hero Tree, but controlled mostly by the Unseely Court, surfacing from Castle Stoor over here.  Gobbuluns like Wartoles and Cyclopes mostly, but a few other wicked creatures as well.”

Looking across the gravel road of the Slow Ones, they could see the old bridge of metal and wood and gravel.

“There are Trolls beneath?” asked Glittershine.

“Possibly, but more likely they are sleeping during the day and will not bother us in the sunshine far above their sleeping holes under the bridge,” said Tod.

“Perhaps we should go quickly now, as the sun is bright this morning,” suggested Poppy, not wanting to risk encountering Trolls.  She had hated serving them green slime in the kitchens of Mortimer’s Mudwallow, and here there was no powerful necromancer to stop them from eating a butterfly child they happened to catch out in the open.

As the roosters crossed the road, suddenly the smell of rotten, moldy flesh told the group of Fairies that Trolls were on the bridge.

“Tod!  Spur your rooster and make it run!” shouted Flute.

“I see the trolls.  They are lying dead in the road, slowly turning into stones in the sunlight.”  Tod pulled up to a stop beside one of the three Troll bodies.  Poppy could actually hear the Troll-flesh crackling as the sunshine cooked it and made it into rock.

Flute pulled his rooster up too, and he and Glitter dismounted to look at the bodies.

“These bodies show signs of sword cuts,” said Glittershine.

“Yes.  A Fairy sword.  Possibly the Fyrehandle, the great sword of Lord Lancelot himself,” said Flute.

“Who is Lord Lancelot?” asked Poppy.

“He’s a great Fairy war hero, a Storybook Fairy since the time of the Slow One’s King Arthur,” said Tod.

“The son of the immortal Lady of the Lake,” added Glittershine.

But before they could do anything more, one more Troll was lumbering towards them, smoking from Troll sunburn and moaning in an angry way.

“This one is yours, Poppensparkle,” said Flute.  “Use your polymorphing spells to turn the creature into stone.  Put it out of its misery.”

Poppy could call the spell instantly to mind.  But when she pointed her power finger at the Troll, her stomach began to churn, and she couldn’t make the spell kill the Troll.  Not after she had seen the Necromancer kill Fairies and laugh about it afterwards.  The White Stag had taken those memories away from her.  But the situation now brought it back.

“I… I can’t do it!”

“You have to, Poppy!  Before it reaches us!” shouted Tod.

She tried to control the swirling sickness in her guts as she wrestled with killing the poor thing.  And then the spell came out of her pointer finger in a cloud of orange smoke and enveloped the Troll.  And that was somehow not right… because the smoke was supposed to be smoky-colored, not orange.

“Oh, no…”  She fell to her knees and emptied the contents of her stomach on the gravel road.

The cloud dissipated, leaving behind a… small sylph boy?  He was naked and crying.  His brown skin still was dripping with the leavings of the magical orange smoke.

Flute approached the weeping child.  “Who are you?  Did the Troll eat you, or something?”

The child looked at him with frightened eyes.

“Am no Trollz food!   Am Schtinker!  Am baby Trollz!”

“Whoa!  Poppy?  Did you turn the Troll into this sylph boy?”  Flute gasped.

“I couldn’t turn him to stone.  That would be killing…”  Poppy had to stop there and throw up some more.

“It’s alright, Poppy.  This Schtinker is still a Troll on the inside, but the new form is far less dangerous,” said Tod.

“Danger-us?  Schtinker no know danger-us.  Am no killah!  Dat nite be doe killah!”

“What did he say?” asked Poppy.

“So, what do we do with him?  If we just leave him here he will go back to the Unseely Court and be evil.” Tod shook his head sadly as he said it.

“We could kill him here and save him the trouble,” said Flute.

“No!  He’s just a child!” said Poppy, horrified at the callousness.

“We can take him with us and teach him to be good,” offered Glittershine.

“That would be too much work,” said Flute.

“How do we decide?  Take a vote?” asked Tod.

“We let Poppy decide.  She created him, he’s her child, her responsibility,” said Flute, looking her in the eyes.

“Well, that’s it then.  We take him.  I will take care of him.”

Flute looked at her with eyes she thought showed great intelligence.  And then he smiled.

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