Category Archives: NOVEL WRITING

AeroQuest 3… Canto 70

Canto 70 – Frying Pans and Fires (the Green Thread)

Hooey, King Killer, and another Pinwheel Corsair known as Willie Culver knelt in rags and chains on the cold metal deck of the Bregohelma.  Wormheart Toadsucker rubbed rubbery white hands together with glee over them.

“Pirates are you?  Fearsome are you?  Killed many men, have you?” crooned Toadsucker. “It will not help you now.  The master has you in his power.  You are doomed.  DOOMED!”  The ugly sycophant cackled in a particularly ugly way.

“Charming company we’re keeping,” King remarked to Hooey.

“We have to put up with him in order to get where we are going,” said Hooey matter-of-factly. 

“Jeez,” said Willie Culver, “we’re gonna die and you guys are making jokes!”  Willie’s young face was contorted with fear.

“Well,” said King, “I guess it’s because I wanta die, and the Doctor here believes we can’t no matter what we do.  You know, Willie, he’s a Time Knight and supposedly knows the future.”

“I know seven of them, as a matter of fact,” said the good doctor.  “It’s just a matter of making sure we arrive at the correct one.”

“And what did Sheherry mean right before she died?” added King.

“About what, exactly?” asked Hooey.

“She said to take care of our children.  She’s dead.  We don’t have any children, nor ever will have!”

“Oh, well…  You have to find out some time…  You actually have three children, all boys.  All three of them are growing up in the distant past, safe places where they can be retrieved at the proper time.”

“What?”  King was stunned.

“Sheherazade knew she was going to sacrifice herself to save you.  I showed her the video of the possible outcome of the battle.  She decided to have three children by you in the short time she had available to her.  That’s why I had to take her in my time ship to give birth three different times within the space of a week here in this timeline.”

“I have three boys?”

“The eldest she named Prince.  The younger two are Terran and Sejii.  She told me where and when I am supposed to pick up each of them and hand them over to you.”

“Let’s find them right now!”  King’s face was red and hot.  The chords in his neck bulged with emotion.

“Well…  We sorta hafta get back to my time ship first.  That’s going to take a while.”

“Yeah, especially if we die,” said Willie.

“Oh, we aren’t gonna die,” said Hooey.  “I have an ace in the hole yet.”

At that moment, Brona Tang entered the Brig.

“So, Bad Guy in red armor, what will you do to us now?” said King with a perilous grin.

“Oh,” said the electronically enhanced voice, “I thought about putting you all to death, but I know from my uncle, Sir Saurol, that you can’t kill a Time Knight without it being the thing he wants you to do.  They have some kind of uncanny power over the future.  I won’t fall into that trap again.  It cost me too much when I killed Shan Sasaki.”

“Ah, so you are the one!” said Hooey, surprised.  “I should have known you were the one.”

“I have a much better plan for you three.  There is no way you could’ve anticipated being marooned on the prison planet I have in mind.  It will mean a long, slow degradation and death.”

“A desert planet, then?” asked Hooey.

“No,” snapped Tang.  “I told you that you couldn’t guess.  I will take you to the planet Stanley.  You can play with the scalies, dinosaurs, and damnthings there.  They will be happy to meet and eat you.”

“Oh, gawd!” cried Willie Culver.  “No one has ever escaped from there.”

“I welcome it,” said King.  “You are giving me just what I want!”

Tang laughed and waves of fear rolled over the three prisoners.  “You will languish and live out your days there in terror and pain.  Maybe your friend Tron Blastarr will be joining you there.  We’ve found his little pirate base at the place he calls Outpost.”

King glared at the armored Admiral.  “So, you think you’re gonna beat Tron?”

“Oh, I intend to take my time about it,” said Tang.  “I know that Arkin Cloudstalker is making his way there with his allies.  I might even trap Conn and the Blackhawks there, destroying all my enemies in one barrel.”

            “Dream on,” said King hotly.  “Tron and Maggie are the best you’ve ever faced.  You give them time to put together the space forces, and you’ll never live to regret it.”

“Ooh!  I’m so scared!” said Admiral Tang.

“We’re scared!” mimicked Toadsucker.  “We are worried about one-eyed star sailors and their skinny, red-headed wives too!  Ricky and Lucy fight the evil Admiral.”

            “Shut up, Worm!”  Tang backhanded the lowly mutant across his ugly faced and made him sink, weeping, to the deck of the Brig.

“You make me mad,” said King Killer.  “In fact, you make me wanta live long enough to escape your stupid prison and pay you back what you’re worth.”

“Rot on Stanley, you ugly monkey.  The jungles there will take all three of you in a week.”  Tang turned on his armored heel and walked away, his red cape swirling and billowing out behind him.

“We’re gonna die a horrible death,” moaned Willie Culver, tears streaming down his young cheeks.

“Willie, I intend to bring us all three back alive,” growled King.  “Just to spite that red bughead.  He made me mad!”

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AeroQuest 3…

Canto 69 – Coffee Time on the Shadowcat (the Blood-Red Thread)

My first meeting with Ham Aero and the crew of the Leaping Shadowcat was in the Trophy Lounge on the lower deck of the Shadowcat herself.  The charming white-furred Lupin boy, Sahleck Kim, led me there when I arrived from the White Duke’s shuttle. 

“So, you’re the cabin boy?”

“Oh, yes, Dr. Marou.  It’s hard to believe, I know.  I’ve gone in a matter of a few weeks from Count Nefaria’s dungeons where I was destined to die, to working aboard the space ship of the great Safari Master and adventurer, Ham Aero.  My future is suddenly bright.”

The child’s eyes glistened like an excited puppy’s as he told me his tale of rescue.  He led me to a seat in the Trophy Lounge where I could sit and eat one of Sinbadh’s sumptuous meals.  There was a stuffed head of a dragon-mouthed pakoollie beast from the planet Samothrace looking directly down on my plate, trying his hardest to ruin my appetite with his ugliness.

            “My boy, do you have any coffee?” I asked.

Sahleck grinned in a wide-mouthed way that only Lupins can manage.  “It’s one of Commander Sinbadh’s specialties!” He said.

“Bring me some.  Please.”

The boy hurried to the mess.  At that same moment, Ham and Duke Ferrari entered.

            “I guess, with Cloudstalker’s departure, you are the Captain of the ship again,” said Ferrari of the curly moustaches. 

“Oh, I think you still out-rank me,” answered Aero modestly.  “Hello…  You must be Professor Googol Marou.”

Ham offered his hand to me and I gladly shook it.  “Yes, I’m honored to meet a man who has traveled almost as much as any explorer.”

            “The reputation has not entirely been earned,” said Ham.

            “This is YOUR ship, Ham,” said Ferrari, frowning slightly.  “I think you should be the captain.”

Ham smiled.  “I won’t argue that now, Han.  Have you met Dr. Marou?”

“No, no…  Nice to make your acquaintance, Doctor.”

“I too, am honored,” I said.  “I am not used to meeting such powerful inter-planetary politicians.”

Ferrari looked at me as if he were slightly annoyed.  “You know the White Duke.  He’s a bigger light in this galaxy than I am.”

“Well, if you say so.”  I know I must’ve been grinning ear to ear to hear my own friend being praised in this way.  I wonder how Ferrari actually took that.

Ham looked at me quizzically.  “Professor, what’s in all the boxes you had installed in the skinning and mounting lab?”

“Oh!  My invention!  I have to tell you about it.”  Gleefully I related everything they needed to know about the Marou Ancient Light Holo-Assembler Telescope and maybe a tad bit more as well.  I explained how my sheer genius had allowed events to be viewed from light years away, and thusly, years in the past.

“Umm, that’s very good, professor,” Ham said.  “I guess that will come in handy…”

He didn’t speak with enthusiasm, but I knew he was actually quite impressed with me.

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People in My Head at the Moment

Anita Jones

As a writer seriously immersed in a particular work in progress, I find myself talking more and more to certain people who exist only in my head. They are the characters in my novel, The Boy… Forever.

The novel is itself an epistolary novel. That means, like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, it is made up of letters, notes, diary and journal entries, and other personal writing of the central characters. It also means that I have to become the different people who write these things. At least while I create each individual artifact that goes into the mosaic of first-person narratives.

Anita Jones, pictured here, is the letter-writer who starts the plot in motion when she gets a very disturbing letter from her cousin, Icarus Jones.

Icarus writes about his problem with becoming a midget, and his response to it being a plan to kill himself. It seems that he simply stopped growing at the age of ten. Now, being a fifteen-year-old in the body of a ten-year-old, he writes a suicide note in the form of a letter, and then goes to jump off a bridge into the Mississippi River. But when he does, he survives. Or, rather, he succeeds, but cannot remain dead. He doesn’t know it, yet, but he has become a human mutation known in the secret world of unknown things as an Immortal.

Tian Long, the Celestial Dragon

Icky’s problem becomes worse when it is discovered he is being pursued by another immortal, a sort of vampiric immortal who needs to consume the essence of other immortals to stay alive. He is a three-thousand-year-old Chinese Celestial Dragon who is able to assume a human form.

Neither Icky Jones nor Tian Long the dragon, though, really needs to be in my head. Icarus himself only writes the first and last letters of the book. Tian Long, the villain, does not have a say at all in telling the story. The only part of it he writes are the wizard spells he uses to confound everyone, and most of those are in Chinese.

Milton John Morgan, the Wizard of the Norwall Pirates

Besides the letters that Anita Jones writes to her cousin in Dallas, Dot Jones, the story is also advanced in the journal entries of Milt Morgan, one of the leaders of the boys’ gang in rural Iowa known as the Norwall Pirates. He has been asked by the Freshman English teacher to keep a daily journal and write every day in 1976. This he struggles to do, but gains writing and typing skills as he goes along, especially when he befriends Icarus and learns about the dragon pursuing Icky.

Milt is full of imagination and a sense of adventure, a thing that makes him an unreliable narrator, not above embellishing the truth as he writes his not-so-much- daily-as-infrequent journal entries.

Brent “the Cat” Clarke

The story is also taken up by Brent Clarke, the leader of the Norwall Pirates. Brent wants to be a policeman or a detective or something like that when he grows up. He takes careful investigation notes on everything, and he is the first one to become suspicious of the Chinese man and his step-daughter who pick a house in the town of Norwall that they want to live in right before the actual owner and occupant of the house mysteriously dies in a falling accident. Brent befriends the local Sheriff’s Deputy and sets out on a serious possible murder investigation that yields some very disturbing results. His notes are very detail-oriented and generally fact-based. He carefully records his own eye-witness accounts of everything.

Sherry Cobble, the nudist, calls herself the smarter and more beautiful twin.

Sherry Cobble, the more outgoing of the identical twins known as the Cobble Sisters, is a happy nudist with a very positive body image for herself and her twin sister. She is a very positive person over-all. She and her sister Shelly had started out keeping a “Lovely Nudist’s Diary” between them, but Shelly is not nearly as interested in writing and storytelling as her sister. So, Sherry takes over the diarist duties with the same sort of glee and enthusiasm she has for promoting nudism to her friends, especially the Norwall Pirates. It is her goal to eventually see all of the kids in Norwall naked and happy just as she and her sister Shelly always are.

Those four different character voices are the main voices I have to work with in telling this fantasy adventure story in much the same way as Stoker tells the story of Dracula.

So, if I begin to seem like I have a disordered mind full of multiple personalities, it’s because I am a novelist, not a mental patient or a vampire or even a Chinese dragon in human form. I am simply trying to tell a story by allowing four distinctly different characters to live inside my head.

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Cover Art for a New Novel

I have been working on a new story that I have been writing in my head for at least twenty years. The novel was originally untitled. But I started working on it by calling it the Forever Boy. But that made it sound like a super-hero sort of comic-book story. So, I adjusted the title to The Boy… Forever.

I had the idea for a cover when I turned the villain’s primary hench-person into a character formerly used in a Dungeons and Dragons game.

Her name is Firefang, but as she enrolls in the Belle City High School freshman class, she is known as Fiona Long, whose name the gang shortens to Fi. The reason for the name change is that Fi is actually a red Chinese dragon disguised in a human form, a teenage girl.

Her stepfather is secretly a thousands-of-years-old Chinese Celestial Dragon disguised in human form. His name is Tian Long. And in order to stay alive for another twenty years, he must consume the essence of an immortal human being. That immortal happens to be Anita Jones’s young cousin Icarus who became immortal at the age of ten.

So, I tried putting those last two images together to make a cover. As you can plainly see, that didn’t work very well. The dragon seems to be coming out of Fi’s hair like a giant cootie. So. I tried to make it more of a collage.

That was still not good enough. So, I tried even harder to make it look like a collage.

I added the main character, Icarus Jones, and some color contrasts.

To me, that’s better. You are welcome to criticize. It will still be a while before the story is done. I may still change it more. But I am basically satisfied… not Forever… but for now.

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AeroQuest 3… Canto 68

Canto 68 – Blunderful Voyage

When Tron sent a message to Frieda’s Starbase at Don’t Go Here, he requested Ged himself come to Outpost for little Artran.  Frieda, however, knew that Ged was at Gaijin with Xavier Tkriashav.  She sent a courier in a brand-new Express Boat to Gaijin.  It was listed for Tkriashav or Ged Aero only, but somehow it got delivered to Vince Neill aboard the Megadeath.

Scarpigo Snarcs wore an X-boat officer’s uniform as he gave the message to Vince.

“All right, dude!  I’ve heard of this kid-dude.  It’d be an honor to serve Ged-dude and the pirate-dude at the same time.  We leave immediately!”

“Thank you,” said Scarpigo in his guise as Bill the Postman.  “I will just be hitching a ride.”

“Wha…?” said Cold Death, his bright green Mohawk shaking in confusion.

“ME RIDE WITH YOU!” said Scarpigo in that extra loud way you normally talk to stupid people, as if they were deaf rather than merely mentally impaired.

“Okay, Bill,” said Vince.  “You can ride if you try to be just a bit quieter.  That gnarly voice of yours can surely give me a headache.”

Nikki Sixx looked over the coordinates to Outpost, tried to figure out the navigational logarithms in his head, and then gave up; inserting the computer crystal with the jump program that Bill the Postman supplied him with into the ship’s navigational computer.  The Megadeath roared musically to life.

Now, travel between the stars is a miracle of physics and mathematics that only takes place in certain narrow corridors of gravity and space.  A space ship creates a field around itself that alters the fabric of space nearby.  Space will actually fold itself around the matter the star ship is made of.  It appears to disintegrate in one place, and, after a period in which the space-time continuum percolates around it, reforms itself in the new location.  The location could be anywhere within a range of six parsecs, even empty space.  But spacers only found it useful to travel from star system to star system.  Fuel would eventually be necessary and none was available in empty parsecs of space.

Twenty-seven hours after they had taken flight from Don’t Go Here, the Megadeath arrived at Outpost.  Immediately they were surrounded by Pinwheel Corsairs.

“Alien ship of unknown design!” called the nearest corsair, “state your business here.”

“Yo, Dude!” warbled Vince Neill from behind his mirrored shades.  “We come on a mission of mercy from Ged Aero.  We come to pick up little dude Artran and take him to Gaijin.”

“We don’t recognize you and we don’t know any Gaijin.  Prepare to be atomized.”

“Whoa, not cool!” said Neill into the communicator.  He immediately threw the Megadeath into maneuvers that the corsairs had never seen attempted, let alone being able to catch up with them.  The highly efficient ship made with Ancient technology danced out of reach of all Pinwheel weaponry.

“Is this an attack?” rasped Tron’s voice over the communicators.

“No, Dude.  I just don’t want my biscuits fried by you!”

“Stop, then, and prepare to be boarded,” said Tron.

“Whatever you say, Dude.” Despite everything that was sensible, the Megadeath and her Rock-and-Roll crew had fallen into the hands of a desperate pirate who faced total annihilation at the hands of the Galtorrian Imperial Fleet.

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AeroQuest 3… Canto 66

Canto 66 – Fish-Skin Socks in the Rock Garden

The planet Hyde Park was different than most planets in the Thousand Worlds of the Galtorr Imperium.  Where most life in the Orion Spur was made up of carbon-based life-forms, Hyde Park was rife with silicon-based life-forms.

Instead of forests of trees or plants, the countryside was overgrown with gardens of living crystal, quartz, and harmonic stone.  The wildlife was made up of electro-energy creatures with crystallized bodies, or even no bodies at all.  The amorphous stone men of Hyde Park communicated with no one but each other, taking whatever shape struck their weird fancy.  They could constitute and dissolve themselves with the speed of thought.

Nert Cooblegooble felt ridiculous in his red-and-white-striped pajamas.  His blond hair was tied up in random pony tails, and red freckles had been added to his face with a paintbrush.  He stood next to a table advertising fish-skin socks for sale.

“Stop fidgeting, Nert!” said Mr. Crushcracker, waving his fat, smelly cigar.  “You have to look business-like to sell these things to tourists.”

“Why do we have to play these silly pretend games?” complained Nert Cooblegooble, secretly Arkin Cloudstalker.  He looked dubiously over at Madame Prong, who was obviously an ugly man in drag wearing a tight blue dress over an overstuffed body and wearing gobs of makeup on his… er, her eyes and cheeks.

“We calls ‘em as we sees ‘em,” said Phineas Crushcracker, secretly Scarpigo Snarcs.  “These rubes and yokels are used to seein’ us like this.  These secret identities are critical to our roles as agents of the Thin White Duke.  Now be quiet, or I’ll buy a supper club and beat you over the head with it.”

Madame Prong, secretly Zero Snarcs, put a swollen white finger to her badly painted red lips and pantomimed shushing Mr. Crushcracker for saying the TWD-word out loud where any stone could hear.

“There are no humans about anywhere!” moaned Nert.  “Why the need for secrecy?”

“The rocks have ears,” said Mr. Crushcracker.

“What is that supposed to mean?”

In answer to Arkin’s question, a man walked up to the fish-sock table.  He was not like any other man either Arkin Cloudstalker or Nert Cooblegooble had ever seen.  He was made entirely of stone, a living statue looking out apparently through carved stone eyes.  He was an eerie, zombie-like figure that moved and talked without expression, always a degree or two off of what would be natural for a human man.

“Well, well!” gushed Mr. Crushcracker.  “So nice to see you again, Mr. Lazerstone!  How have you been?  How’s the missus and all the little pebbles?”

The cold stone voice that came from the hollows inside Lazerstone chilled Arkin to the bone with dread.

“I don’t pretend to understand your need for charades, Snarcs.  I do understand the position of the White Duke.  I am ready to render aid.  I can do far more than even Duke Keyser himself realizes.  Don’t mock me.  I get tired of the human need to maintain personal fictions.”

“Have you met Nert Cooblegooble?”

“You know that this man is different from the last human who you introduced as Mr. Cooblegooble.  Don’t play games with me again.”

“Oh, you take all the fun out the whole spy thing!  This is the Pirate King, Arkin Cloudstalker.”

“Yes.  A noble reputation among those who travel through the Hyde Park starport.  I believe you use the Knights as a privateer band working to liberate the people of the Galtorr Imperium, do you not?”

“I do.  I like your directness.”

“We are many, Mr. Cloudstalker, but we are one.”

“Wait, I don’t understand again.  Is this a riddle?”

“No.  It is merely a factor in the differences between your kind and mine.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Of course, you don’t.  You are like these ephemerals.  You do not have the Wisdom of the Stones.”

“Oh!” interjected Mr. Crushcracker, “You mean like, I can’t get no… satisfaction!?”

“Shut up, Snarcs.”  Lazerstone turned cold, sightless eyes on Phineas Crushcracker.  “This meeting is important.”

“Help me understand,” pleaded Arkin.

“Very well.  The crystals of this planet are all alive.  They are all capable of thought.  In fact, they all share one vast consciousness.  We, the Lazerstone, are capable of understanding everything about your kind and what they are doing in our shared galaxy.  We have seen the unnatural evil and crimes of your Galtorr Imperium.  We understand the need to put an end to that.  We also realize that only men like you, Ged Aero, and the White Duke are capable of making your kind turn away from violent animal ignorance and start harmonizing with the galactic symphony of life.”

“That is all very poetic,” said Arkin, still not fully comprehending, “but how are you going to help us?”

“I will fight for you.  Soon you will see how important that is for your future Empire.”

“My Empire?”

“Your Democracy if you prefer.”

“Yes, that would be better.”  Arkin tried to use mental x-rays to pierce the colorful stone of that impassive face.  “Can you see me through those stone eyes of yours?”

“He can see through you, Nert,” said Scarpigo Snarcs.  “He’s an all-powerful monster from outer space.  Booga-booga!  He can even tell what color underwear you have on.”

The humorless stone face turned towards Snarcs.

“At least I have enough respect for his underwear that I don’t feel the need to reveal what it looks like.  Not like the silk shorts with printed pink bunnies on them that you have on.”

Snarcs turned stone white.  “How did you know about those?”

“Lazer-vision, funny boy.  I see by using my perceptions of relative density and wave-lengths of gravitons.  Don’t cross me, or I might eat you in the night!”

Phineas Crushcracker and Scarpigo Snarcs both cringed.  Madame Prong held a rubber chicken in her hand with less than the usual gusto.

“By the way,” added Lazerstone, “Booga-booga! Scarpigo Snarcs!”

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Sci-Fi Plans

This is a possible cover for AeroQuest 3.

I have now re-written about sixty percent of the old novel AeroQuest. I published AeroQuest 1 : Stars and Stones in September. AeroQuest 2 : Planet of the White Spider was published yesterday in October. AeroQuest 3 : Juggling Planets will probably take longer than either of the other two. The story has to be elongated. The growing rebellion of the pirates and smugglers trying to establish the New Star League need time to grow their rebellion. In the previous edition of this book the flower blossoms almost before the shoots are out of the ground. I need to develop the rebellion with more planets and systems with reasons why they want to leave the icky old emperor and establish a space-born democracy. And this novel series isn’t merely a parody of Star Wars or an imitation of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It is also its own version of a space opera with unique characters and plot-lines that are entirely Mickian in their non-sensibility.

Ged Aero, the main character and most important protagonist, is revealed in AeroQuest 2 to be the new White Spider, a prophet-like teacher fulfilling a century-old prophecy by leading twelve young disciples into the state of near-perfection of their psionic mind powers. Adventures where these twelve student-disciples learn stuff they need to know need to be added to the original story.

Each of the first two re-written books is about 35,000 words. The original novel is about 120,000 words. I will need to add a lot more than just the re-write of 50,000 more words. And I want to keep the books approximately equal, so I will be aiming to increase the total to at least 140,000 words by writing two more 35,000-word stories. And it may be enough more than that to fill five total books.

If my run-away cancerous imagination is not reigned in, I have at least three more book-length story-tumors to add in beyond that.

So, I have enough to do. My Tuesday blog plan will still be going for a while.

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