Category Archives: NOVEL WRITING

Finishing a Novel

I am closing in on the end. It is hard to talk about anything other than what would spoil the ending as I am finishing that part. But there are certain things I have come to expect about how one of my hometown fantasy novels ends. Somebody dies. There is reason to cry. And life goes on. There are a few things to laugh about, and a few things to glow with pride about. And if it is a good novel, finishing it will leave me deflated and exhausted. I think this will be a good novel. I am feeling those effects already.

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AeroQuest 3… Canto 73

Canto 73 – Star Nomads – (The Silver Thread)

Tron and Maggie needed the Megadeath and her crew to bolster the defense forces of Outpost.  So, it was simply a matter of finding a ship they could spare to send Artran to safety with Ged on whatever planet the hunter now inhabited.

“I can’t afford to send a single Pinwheel or White Sword out of system.  We lost too many to defend our planet already.  And we have to assume this base is no longer a secret to Grand Admiral Tang.”  Tron glared at his difficult wife.

“This is our only son we are talking about,” argued Maggie.  “He is a cargo worth protecting.  That’s why we are bothering to send him to Ged Aero in the first place.”

“Perhaps I can be of assistance, sir,” offered Bill the Postman (secretly Scarpigo Snarcs).  “Your wife is going to win this argument, or I don’t know anything about wives.”

“Have you been married before?” asked Tron, fixing the clown with a laser-eyed look from both his artificial eye and his natural one.

“Of course not!  I told you I knew all about wives didn’t I?”

“So, what’s your worthless advice, then?”

“I am disguised as a competent member of the Imperial Scout Service.  So, I can take him to his destination without being fired upon in any X-boat that is delivering mail.”

“How is that secure enough for my precious boy?” asked Maggie.

“Well, I will be delivering the Imperial mail.  You know the Imperial Space Navy does not shoot down its own mail service, even on the frontier.”

“He has a good point, Maggie,” said an exasperated Tron.

“What about Star Dogs?  They do attack Scout ships of all kinds.”

“That’s true, dogs does chase postmen,” offered Quintillius Blorghoffer (secretly Cinco Snarcs disguised as a Scout Service Postman), “But me brudder an’ I is two of de bestest secret-type agent-men going, an’ our X-boat is secretly armed with a meson cannon, don’t ya know.  Ain’t that right, Pontoffel Poggs?”

Zero Snarcs (disguised as the above-mentioned Poggs the Postman) vigorously shook his head.

“He says you don’t?” asked Maggie angrily.

“Oh, he don’t know no better.  He shakes his head like that when he means ta say yes.  He’s just too stupid to talk.”

“Okay, I have my doubts now, too,” said Tron.

“Please, sir,” said Tiki Astro, “I am fully programmed to problem-solve and defend Artran.  Who better to send along with him as he travels in secret than I?”

Tron looked at the artificial child.  With his new skin covering his metalloid body, he was completely indistinguishable from a real child.  He would indeed be the perfect travelling companion to keep Artran safe.

“Yes.  That settles it.  Artran goes in the X-boat with the three idiots to be with Ged Aero in relative safety.”

Maggie sighed and nodded agreement.

Happy Jack sighed and then hugged his artificial son goodbye.

The three idiot postmen and the two children boarded the balloon-shaped X-boat and immediately took off from Outpost.

Once they reached the orbital jump point, Bill the Postman turned to Pontoffel Poggs (which was actually Scarpigo Snarcs turning to Zero Snarcs) and said, “Okay, boy, spin the directional dial and then spin the distance dial.”

Poggs (who was actually Snarcs) spun both dials like he was playing Intergalactic Wheel of Fortune.

“It says we are jumping a hundred and twelve parsecs into the middle of unknown space,” warned Blorghoffer (who was also secretly Snarcs).

“That’s perfect!” said Bill (secretly… well, you know).  He then smashed the jump button and folded space to a distance that would normally destroy an X-boat.

After an undeterminable amount of time they exited jump space into a black void.  But at it’s center glittered a multitude of artificial lights from a construct seemingly sewn together with steel beams and made from junk spaceship fuselages, broken satellites, abandoned space stations, and unidentifiable metal things from unknown space.

“Ah, I didn’t actually think that would work,” said Bill.

“Where are we?” asked Artran and Tiki at almost the same moment.

“This, my boys, is Nomad.  This is the home of the Star Nomads.”

“An’ I always thinked that Star Nomads be Myths,” said Blorghoffer.

“Just because something is a myth doesn’t mean it’s not true,” said Bill.

Poggs vigorously nodded his stupid head.

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Character Portraits in a New Novel

I am past the 50,000 word mark. It is almost finished. Here I wish to show you the main characters of the novel through illustrations I have created over the years..

Milt Morgan is one of the four main narrators of the novel.

He is a fifteen-year-old Belle City High School freshman in 1976. He is the most imaginative of the Norwall Pirates softball team and liars’ club.

He tells his portion of the story in the form of journal entries.

Anita Jones and her boyfriend the Superchicken (Edward Campbell)

Anita Jones is the most central of the four narrators in that she is the cousin of Icarus Jones, the character at the center of the whole plot.

She is a fifteen-year-old freshman girl who has had a steady boyfriend since the spring of 1975. She tells her part of the story by writing letters about Icarus and the things happening in the little town of Norwall in the summer of 1976. She is writing to her cousin Dot who is much more interested at the start about Anita’s boyfriend Eddie than she is about cousin Icky.

Brent Clarke is the high school freshman athlete and leader of the Norwall Pirates. He is interested in becoming a policeman or detective, and as one of the four narrators, he tells his part of the story through his investigator’s notes which he takes religiously on practically everything.

He feels responsible for all the Pirates, especially Icarus when he comes under attack during the adventure in the summer of the Bicentennial year.

The fourth narrator is Sherry Cobble who has a twin sister named Shelly and is dedicated to being a nudist. In fact, she very much wants to convince all the Pirates to be comfortable with their own naked bodies. Realizing that dream, though, is complicated.

Especially because it’s Bible Belt Iowa and her nudist family is looked at as being the somewhat crazy hippie-type kind of people that are barely tolerated by the law.

She writes about it all in her Lovely Nudist’s Diary where she can write about her naturist beliefs, successes and failures, and her boyfriend, Brent.

Icarus Jones is the central character of The Boy… Forever. He tries to kill himself early in the year of 1976 and finds out by jumping off the MacArthur Bridge in St. Louis that he cannot die naturally. And worse is in store. Beyond the fact that he is an immortal, he is being pursued by an undead Chinese wizard who is a dragon in human form.

Fiona Long, usually called Fi, convinced her stepfather to move to Norwall, following Icarus as he moves to Norwall from St. Louis. She tells everyone in her freshman class that Fi is really short for Firefang, and she is a red dragon in human form.

She becomes friends with the Pirates. She learns to trust and like Anita and Sherry. And she is mightily attracted to Brent who is actually Sherry’s boyfriend.

Fi’s stepfather, Tien Long, is the villain. He is in reality a Chinese Celestial Dragon in human form. He also needs Icarus’s blood to continue to live his long, nearly-immortal life.

It is almost done, this novel. And as you can probably tell from the character pictures, this is not the first novel about the Norwall Pirates. So, it is a pirate novel with dragons and immortals in it. It has been fun to write. And soon it will be complete.

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AeroQuest 3… Canto 72

Canto 72: When the Ocean Rises Up (the Blood-Red Thread)

As the Leaping Shadowcat pulled into orbit around the third planet of the Red Giant called FarStar 181 and its white dwarf companion Littlebit 181, we were playing a fierce game of Antarean Canasta while watching local television to get a clue or two about what was happening in the star system.  The planet Farwind was a center of trade, culture, and travel along the Galtorrian Imperial Rim.

“I have a run of five showing,” I said to Sinbadh, Ham, and Duke Ferrari.  “It will cost you each a thousand credits to find out if I can complete it.”  I was winning the hand again and glorying in it.  I regularly made killings in card games because I could keep track of all the cards and the odds in my head.

“Something just isn’t right here,” moaned Ham Aero.  “I’ve never seen a nerdy guy like you win so often at a game of chance.”

“Oi seconds the observation, Doctor Marou,” said Sinbadh.  “Ye play a cutthroat game ye do.”

“Why thank you, Mr. Sinbadh.  I may not be a capable pirate like you, but I earn my respect in more than one way.”

“Aye, ‘tis true,” sighed Sinbadh.  “I can’t afford to call yer jolly bluff, Doc.  I folds.”

“Me too,” said Duke Ferrari stroking his handlebar moustache with a nervous finger as he tossed his hand down.  “I don’t know how you are cheating, Dr. Marou, but I must say, you are good at it!”

“Well,” said Ham with grim determination, “I may lose all my savings, but I have to know if it’s a bluff or not.”

Ham threw the last of his credit chips onto the game board.

“I was hoping somebody would,” I said.  I laid down the six and seven of clovers to make a run of seven.  “I guess I win.”

“Nobody is that good at cards,” Ham said, shaking his blond head sadly.

The holo-news was describing a recent political rally in the government center of Farwind.  People there were upset about the despotic rule of the Galtorr Imperium.  The taxes paid to old Emperor Slythinus were bad enough, but the local sector head, Emperor Mong of the planet Mingo, was placing burden after burden on the people, and on top of that, demanded that they yield up their buried dead to Centralis Controllis, the Master Computer of Mingo Sector.

“I guess I’m going to have to go down there and make an official appearance,” said Duke Ferrari.  His face was long and worried.  “The political situation here is still degenerating.”

“Word has come,” said the talking head from the holo-news, “That Sector Duke Han Ferrari has returned to us and is in orbit even as we speak.”

Ferrari was aghast.  “How did they know that?”

The warning sirens from the auto-sensors came on at that same moment.  A system defense boat was fast approaching from the upper atmosphere of the planet.

“Oh, God help us,” said Ham, overturning the game board and scattering my earnings everywhere.  “We have got such trouble!”

We all followed Ham from the lounge area to the bridge.  The screens were showing a large system defense ship bristling like a porcupine with defensive weaponry.

“It’s definitely a government ship!” said Duke Ferrari.  “If we let them arrest me without resistance, it’s possible they will let the rest of you go free.”

“That clunky thing cannot out-fly me,” swore Ham, “If you want me to run…”

“No,” said the Duke.  “Let’s hail them.”

The captain of the defense boat was quickly called up and on screen.

“You are here for me, I take it,” the Duke said to the on-screen captain.

“Yessir!”  The captain of the other ship saluted crisply.  “By the command of the people of Farwind, we humbly request that you let us escort you to Farwind Downport.”

“Escort us?”

“Yes, your highness.  The people of Farwind have just completed a coup of the government.  We want a democracy like you tried to institute on Coventry, and we want you to lead us!”

The Duke’s surprise was enormous.  “The people decided this?”

“Yessir!  There’s only one little problem for you to deal with first.  The governors of the Imperium have fortified themselves inside the undersea dome at Farwind Center.  It’s a well-guarded and very secure facility.  The people want you to lead the assault.”

“Good god, man,” moaned Ferrari, a hand dragging across the left side of his face where he’d just slapped himself.  “I’m no military leader.  Is this mission even possible?”

“We hope so, sir.  It’s the will of the people.”

Ferrari looked at all of us aboard the Shadowcat.  “I can’t ask any of you to sacrifice yourselves on this fool’s mission.  We will be killed and it will all be for nothing.”

Ham grinned.  He was handsome when he smiled.  “If Goofy were here right now, he’d say what are we waiting for?”

“You… you mean, you want to come with me?”

“We live for adventure!  Don’t we, guys?”

“Well, er… woof, that is,” said Sinbadh.

“No, I surely don’t,” I said.

“See,” said Ham, “it’s settled!  When do we attack?  And why do you call yourself Shirley Doant, professor?”

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A Work in Progress

I am now deep into the plot of my novel, The Boy…Forever. How deep you may ask? Well, at least up to my eyeballs.

I am busy looking at the story through the eyes of four characters, each telling their part of the story in a different way, but in first-person narrative.

I should explain that I am writing this novel as an epistolary novel, a novel made up of written artifacts.

So, let me comment on each of the four main narrators.

Anita Jones is telling her views of what happened in a series of letters to her cousin in Dallas, Dottie Jones. She starts off the plot by getting a letter from her cousin in St. Louis, Icarus Jones, that is basically a suicide note. Dottie’s answer letters are included in the novel, but only as commentary on the action, since she is far removed from the events being narrated. Anita is a highly sensible girl who has started a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship with Eddie Campbell, and her highly sensible life is thrown into serious disarray by her cousin’s somewhat bizarre plight.

Icky himself is only the author of the suicide note, so his involvement in the story, as the most important character (even mentioned in the title), depends on the narration of others.

…………………………………………………

Sherry Cobble is writing her Nudist’s Diary to chronicle life in the 9th grade in Iowa as a happy and enthusiastic naturist whose main goal is to recruit all of her 9th grade friends to be naturists. Her twin sister Shelly is also a nudist and is supposed to being doing her half of the diary, but her boyfriend has happily accepted the invitation to become a naturist already, and her interest in the diary has waned.

But Sherry’s diary entries soon reveal a serious conflict. Icky Jone’s girlfriend talks her step-father into moving all the way to Norwall, Iowa in order to be near to Icky. And Fiona Long soon becomes interested in Sherry’s boyfriend, Brent Clarke. In fact, she crashes Sherry’s Spring Nude Picnic party so that she can spend time playing football in the nude with Brent. And to make matters worse, Fi turns out to be a red dragon disguised in human form. Fi is obviously not one of the narrators of the book. So, her part in the story depends solely on what Sherry says about her.

Brent Clarke is the third narrator of the book. He is the leader of the local gang of farm kids and 9th graders known as the Norwall Pirated. He’s obsessed with police work and investigating bad guys. He keeps investigator notes in which he sees himself as a great detective. And it is his detective instincts that start him recording what he can learn about Tian Long, Fi’s stepfather. His suspicions lead him to the conclusion that Mr. Long is an evil Chinese dragon in human form.

Milt Morgan is the fourth major narrator of the story. He is a highly imaginative 9th grader who is supposed to be keeping a daily journal for his English teacher (who desperately wants Milt to become a better writer and put his high-powered imagination to better uses than thinking up ways for the Norwall Pirates to get into trouble).

Milt, naturally, hates to write, but does it on a typewriter, mistakes and all, because he is a story-teller at heart. And this story has a potential to stop any and all hearts involved. You see, in some ways, it is a story about a monster. A monster who wants to eat Icky Jones. It wants to eat him because… he is boy who can potentially live forever.

This is the most recent illustration done for the novel. This one above, not the one below.

And, finally, here’s a reminder about my book promotion, beginning today.

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Promoting Novels

Three times now I have run a promotion with my best novels (available through Amazon) and have had limited results. But I am trying again for Christmas. While most everybody I advertised to on Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress thanked me for the link, only a handful actually went to the trouble of visiting Amazon and clicking on the free e-book. Some of my Iowegian friends probably weren’t clear on the idea of e-books, especially if they didn’t personally own a Kindle or an I-pad. But I have discovered the promotion is worth doing. The first time involved Snow Babies. I went on Twitter and sent links to writer friends hoping for a hit or two. Apparently only one person got the e-book for free and went on to read it, but she loved the book, told me it should be a classic of YA Literature, and gave it a five-star review.

My second book promotion, for Recipes for Gingerbread Children, did about the same tepid amount of free-book clicks for probably the same reasons. Although you can plainly see it may not have been wise to allow some of the reviewers from the fairy world to have a say in the promotion of this book. Fairies are not wild about having their existence outed, and Iowegians and Texicans don’t really appreciate it when you use irony for stuff.

Still, because it had two nudist characters in it, I also advertised it on https://www.clothesfreelife.com/, and so it got interest from the group of naturist writers who frequent that site. A gentleman by the name of Ted Bun got a copy and reviewed it with a five-star review even though it isn’t really a book about nudism. (Yes, I know some kinds of fairies prefer not to wear clothes, but they don’t count as nudists because they are not human.)

Still, it’s a five-star review by a fellow writer, someone whose books are also very well worth reading. https://www.amazon.com/Ted-Bun/e/B01BVG6NVQ?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1575829016&sr=8-1

This past November I was able to promote another of my favorite books, Sing Sad Songs, with another Amazon free promotion.

It generated the same tepid response, even though it was free, but it got another five-star review. It was Ted again, but I have come to value his opinions looking at others of his reviews online and on https://www.goodreads.com/ . So, I have had a total of five five-star reviews on books I have written, all but one by fellow authors. Three of them came about by doing these book promotions. I only have five-star reviews on any of my books that have been reviewed. So, that’s good, right?

What does it mean? Well, nudists really seem to like my books. And nobody who read any of my books and hated it, hated it enough to write a review. And other writers of other novels seem to recognize something they really like about my work.

So, unless Amazon changes their minds about letting me use Snow Babies as a Christmas promotion, I will try again this coming week. Maybe I can get nudists to like that book too, even though there is no nudism in it… only a very cold and deadly blizzard.

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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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