I have significantly slowed down in my production of fiction. Not so much because I don’t have any ideas to write about, but because my eyes are limited in function by glaucoma that I am treating with eye drops. And also because my fingers on the keyboard are slowed by arthritis and the repeated need to make corrections from hitting so many of the wrong keys.
I currently have four novel projects where I have started writing and begun to fill pages. AeroQuest 5 : It Ain’t Over Yet continues the slogging rewrite of my first published novel, Aeroquest. It was simply a matter of following the story arcs set up in books 3 and 4. I have about six chapters done with absolutely no idea how many more are yet to come.
I have had a sudden-inspiration novel hit my brain, and I am also well into the story of The Haunted Toy Store.
The biggest project I have going is the novel I have been working on since 2021. He Rose on a Golden Wing is about teen depression and using imagination and a tight circle of friends to overcome it. The novel draws together story threads that began in four previous novels. And it dovetails with another story, Kingdoms Under the Earth, that deals with a health problem that overcomes a group of younger characters that is happening at the same time. Kingdoms does not exist on paper, or in computer file, at all yet. That story is merely percolating in my head as the prior writing continues to involve cross-over points and story links
The novella seen to the left is about two chapters from being finished. But it got caught up in the need to reformat it as I transformed it from a document on my Chromebook to the more friendly word-processor on my HP laptop.
I have almost completely lost the momentum on finishing that… which should have been finished six months ago.
While all of this is on my to-do list, I have also begun planning and doing drawing for a book I will call Naked Thinking, a non-fiction meditation on being a nudist, drawing and painting nThouude figures, and baring my soul in the books I write (Though I do not plan to bare my own naked body in the process… probably… at least not in a photo.)
So, with all of this nonsense going on in my writing life, you can see why I always seem to be arguing that I do not have writer’s block.
“Lately Mickey hasn’t been doing much of any writing on his work in progress. I, a professional Professor of knowing practically everything and knowing most of it wrongly, am here to give the hopeless goofy guy some much needed advice. Of course, I shall offer that advice incognatively… err, incontranatively… err… anonymously because Disney enjoys suing schoolteachers and other criminals who misuse their intellectual property.”
“But I can’t help myself when it comes to giving opinions on stuff that ain’t really my business but fascistinates… err, fusstinates… err… highly interests me. So, here goes.”
“Write about something Over the Rainbow. I mean your imagination is really garganteelian… err… gigantickingly… err… really pretty big. You can make up something being about made-up worlds, witches who fly around in soap bubbles and other such nonsensical things. Maybe talking scarecrows and heartless metal guys and really big kitty cats… make a story with something beautiful and imaginative, though maybe not as beautiful as that Judy Garland chick… she was really georgeous… err… magnifical… err… really hot-looking! But she is so old she is dead now. So, you can’t put her in the film version of what you write.”
“Or you could write something extra creepy. Something totally like the Addams Family. You’ve got a talent for writing stuff that seems extra morbeedious… err… mackahbreebrious… err… extra spooky. You can turn peoples’ stomachs inside out and make them feel all gooey in their courageousness because of weird evilness and dark happenstances… err… murderiferous scenarios… err scary stuff. It helps that you can be funny here and there when you scare us. You can be totally spooky-ooky in your stories and sometimes you make us sharpen wooden stakes and make necklaces of garlic. Do an Uncle Fester shtick. Of course, Jackie Coogan is so old he is dead now, so you can’t use him in your film version.”
“Or there is always the absolutely romantical… like a story about a three hour cruise where funny guys get shipwrecked on a desserted island with girls that wear bikinis where you don’t see the cutie’s belly button. And “desserted” is the right word because the dessert is actually coconut-cream pie. But you are good at writing about faskinating… err… interesstrial… err… attention-requiring young women and really dorky guys and how they can fit together like puzzle pieces that you don’t even have to use scissors to make them fit together. Romantical comedy is a thing you can do too. So, we don’t even need to talk about Dawn Wells who played Mary Ann. You couldn’t cast her in the movie version because you’re still sad about Covid having taken her away in 2020.”
“But anyway, you got no excuses now, Mickey! You know you can write It’s just getting anybody to read the danged thing you can’t do. So, write something!!!”
If you are as goofy and cartoon-obsessed as me, you may remember that Popeye the sailor was known for the catchphrase, “I yam what I yam”. And if you do remember that, it will not surprise you that, when told a yam is another name for sweet potato, Popeye was furious. “It cannot be!” he argued. “I would not say I sweet potato what I sweet potato! That’s ridicumess!”
Well he has a point.
But I would like to talk today about the things that I sweet potato, and why I sweet potato those things.
First of all, I yam a humorist.
I yam this thing not because I am funny. You may think I yam funny because I say really goofy things for no apparent reason, and then keep on talking long enough to convince you that I did have a point to make, but my brain leans so far to the left that I am hardly right about anything.
And I make bad puns a lot.
You see, I have to use humor constantly to deal with all the hard things in life, because being too serious in the face of the world’s basic uncaring cruelty only leads to depression and taking a beating from life. In fact, I can think of any number of situations in my past where I avoided a beating only because I made a joke that made the bully laugh.
So, being a humorist is a survival tactic. Humor keeps you alive.
You see someone like me has to face all the pain and heartache and cruelty the world has to offer by using humor. The real reason is that, when faced with a bad situation, if the humor gland can’t empty itself of all the jokes it produces, it will begin to swell. The humor gland is located either in the brain or maybe in the behind (I am not medically qualified to tell you which it really is), and it can only swell to a certain point, and then it will explode. This is very bad thing for you, if you survive it, and certainly unpleasant for anybody nearby.
But the joke, properly launched at the target, will make somebody laugh, even if it is only the humorist himself. And laughter is the best medicine. Unless it kills you. You have to be careful not to die laughing. The angels will be offended, and the demons will all laugh too.
But I yam not only a humorist. I yam also a teacher.
I began to realize that I might be a teacher when, in graduate school to get a remedial master’s degree to help with the fact that plain English majors all starve to death, I discovered I had a talent for explaining things in simple terms. And then, immediately afterwards, I discovered I had an even greater talent for being ignored while the people I was explaining to made the mistakes they wouldn’t have made if only they had listened to me, before they failed spectacularly, and then realized how the solution I had explained would’ve made them succeed instead. There is apparently no better way to learn an important lesson.
Teaching is, of course, a pretty cool job. You tend to have the summers off. And you get paid for summer because they split the amount of money you earn for the year (which considering what a babysitter makes on average per child and per hour is far too little for the hours you put in) into twelve monthly pittances.
Of course you are expected to have a university degree (although no teacher college in the world can teach you what you really need to know in order to face that many little monsters… err, darlings… every day) and preferably some grad school, and a certification to teach in your chosen subject, and an additional certification if you are going to teach more than one subject (and ESL and Speech and Journalism, all of which I was expected to teach, are separate certifications) and you have to take hours of additional training every single year, and you have to get re-certified every five years, and… Well, you have to be basically smarter and much better-educated than Bill Gates… But the school janitor will probably be making more money per month than you do.
Anyway, it’s a job you just gotta love. I yam a teacher.
And really, there are a whole lotta yams in my basket yet that I could tell you about. I yam a Red Skelton fan. I yam sometimes a nudist (when I don’t have to put on clothes to keep myself from scratching all my psoriasis-plagued skin off). I yam also an artist (of the type known as a cartoonist). I yam pig-headed sometimes, and I yam Grumpy sometimes (so I go from being Porky to one of the Seven Dwarfs.) I yam a lotta things. And my sweet-potato basket is large.
But I can’t talk about all of my yams today. Too many yams are bad for my diabetes.
But here’s one last yam. I yam a storyteller. And I have a free Kindle e-book promotion this weekend. The book is the first in my series of AeroQuest books. It is a science fiction story with a humorous bent. And I mean, it is seriously bent in some places.
So, click on the link and get yourself a copy. It’s funny. And I will save the other sweet potatoes for another day.
Cartoon villains take note; Super-Mickey’s secret identity is Filbert Hazelnut. I make that revelation without worry. After all, Mickey is not really me. So, if the Messmaster, Badnose the Clown, or Daniel Quilp are going to try to apply the Mickian version of Kryptonite, not laughing at the jokes, in order to slay Super-Mickey, Filbert is immune to that. I am too for that matter. If you are a school teacher who uses humor in the classroom, you soon learn that only the smartest kids actually understand the jokes, and half of them are just too cool to laugh when the teacher wants them to. (Although they will tell you years later that they still use concrete details in their writing because you said that if you routinely whack the reader in the head with verifiable concrete examples, they will be totally stunned enough to believe you know what you are writing about. That was, you must understand, a concrete detail I just whacked you with to help you remember what it is, not to make you laugh… even though it was a joke… but you are permitted to laugh if you want to.)
The basic point of this essay is Mickey is not really me. I never went by that name as a kid.
I was always called Michael, sometimes Mike (though they were usually talking about the Other Mike when anybody said Mike in school back then… circa 1963 to 1969). In high school I was given the nickname Superchicken after the Saturday Morning cartoon on the George of the Jungle Show. In college I was given the rhyming nickname Spike by my college freshman roommate because he ludicrously thought I was the opposite of a Spike, like calling a huge football player Tiny Tim, or a midget Big Bad John.
When I started teaching school, they called me Gilligan because I was thin and they wanted to pretend I was a hopeless stumbling fool (Which I was at times my first two years, just as all beginner teachers are.) My classroom became known as Gilligan’s Island on the day in third period when I made the comment, “Gilligan is lucky enough to be the only really eligible bachelor on the same island with Ginger the movie star and cute little Mary Ann. I would find out later that same day that three eighth grade girls in that very class had huge crushes on me and were fighting over which one was Mary Ann and which one was Ginger and, unsurprisingly, which one was the other girl.
And, of course, Rudolfo Hernandez tried to get everybody to call me Batman because I bought a used Ford Torino with fins on the back. But to promote the nickname, Rudy came to class wearing a Halloween Batman mask and afterwords had to learn to live with being called Battyman himself. (I wish i could take credit for calling him that first, but I am sure I did not. I distinctly remember it coming from a girl in his class that made fun of him for every stupid thing he did because she apparently adored him. I just reinforced it about a thousand times.)
Mickey is a name that I have only ever been called by me myself. It was a name I signed some of my cartoons with (using The Little Fool, Le Petit Fou, Leah Cim Reyeb, and Dr. Seebreez on the rest.) It also became the name I use to refer to myself on this blog when I talk about myself in the third person like a crazy person.
I have given myself other pseudo-pen-names in my writing. Googol Marou, as the only first-person narrator of the AeroQuest series, speaks with my voice as the primary storyteller in the tale. In Norwall, the fictionalized version of Rowan, Iowa in most of my other books, Branch McMillan, the writer-character, is actually me. (Like Charles Dickens switched his initials to write the semi-autobiographical David Copperfield, I created that one by switching the M and the B.
Of course, the many me-characters in my fiction books are also basically me. Superchicken is me. Milt Morgan is a combination of me and the Other Mike. Brent Clarke is the football-player me combined with two other football teammates. Certain parts of Todd Niland’s story are really about things that happened to me, and things I was afraid of at his age.
In some ways Tim Kellogg and Dorin Dobbs are me too, though both of those characters are actually based on my eldest son. It is possible, I suppose, that you could consider my actual son to be a me-character too, as people do live on through their own children.
But, while Mickey might be me more than I care to admit, Super-Mickey’s secret identity is definitely Filbert Hazelnut.
One of the things I was taught by the good people of I-Universe Publishing is that writers do Twitter. They set me up with a Twitter account that never got followed by real people and got no traction of any definable kind.
There are obviously magic spells out there somewhere that help you sell copies of your beloved first real novel if only you are willing to go on Twitter to engage… to sell yourself and your books… to trolls… and nudists and other writers and nudists who are writers… and, inexplicably, the Norwegian Branch of the Tom Hiddleston as Loki Fan Club. In order to do this, I ended up having to establish my own Twitter account to handle what the I-Universe account couldn’t. What a mistake that was!
I have after nine years finally gotten past the 3,000 follower mark. I have sold a precious few copies of more than one of my books. And I have learned what a horrific alternate universe Twitter actually is.
Trying to sell my books to Twitter followers who seem like the kind of person interested in reading YA novels full of humor and fantasy and goofy stuff, obviously generates more marriage proposals than sales. Really, catfishing women have told me in the DMs that they will come to Texas and marry me if only I give them the proper airfare, even though I am already married and not at all interested in them. It actually took me five marriage proposals to learn how to block somebody.
Apparently, young women on Twitter are looking for husbands and lovers online. If you answer their direct messages thinking they are women interested in your writing, they will aggressively try to convince you that they have fallen in love with you, one even saying this without asking for a better picture of me than the cartoon I use to portray myself. They ignore the fact that you have been married for a quarter of a century. They ignore the protestations that you are only on Twitter to sell books, and they ask you to send them money for an airplane ticket so they can come to where you live and have an affair with you… even though you protest that you are married and don’t have money for airplane tickets even if you wanted to have an affair with a young lady who could be your granddaughter age-wise. One essential function on Twitter is learning how to block someone. Ooh! That was a lifesaver. Learning who not to answer is useful too.
And women are not the only ones with dangerous schemes to take your money away from you.
I was Twitter-friended by Arab royalty. Prince Hamdan of Brunei wanted to give me money as part of his charity work to salvage the image of his royal family. He offered to put thousands of dollars of oil money in my bank account just because he liked me and felt sorry for me. All I had to do was give him my online bank account number. I may have told Arabian royalty that I had a fatal disease that made me forget all my bank account numbers and would cause me to die before he could get a reply sent back to me. I stupidly gave him no bank information whatsoever. And my bank account audibly breathed a sigh of relief.
So, I have successfully now used Twitter to sell copies of Snow Babies and Recipes for Gingerbread Children. I have become a member of Twitter’s #writingcommunity. I have also become a member of a group called Writers Without Clothes. (#FF#naturist fiction by: @Mr_Ted_Bun, @buffprofwally, @CalowAndrew, @AuthorMatBlack, @NakedDan, @smdenham3 and @mbeyer51 (growing list!)) They offered me a chance to join their group because they liked the nudists in my book Recipes for Gingerbread Children and because they learned I have written for nudist websites and do much of my writing in the nude. I recently also got a tweet from a fellow author who is reading Snow Babies and loves it. She says it is a well-written book, high praise from another published author.
So, I intend to keep writing… right up until the end… and maybe I can learn how to use Twitter from beyond the grave so I can keep my writing alive and my future ghost-tweets can make you all horrified enough to be compelled to buy my books. They say my books are funny, even the nudist parts, and maybe I can make more Tom Hiddleston jokes to keep that part of my Twitter following happy too.
If you are foolish enough to look for me on Twitter, you can find me at @mbeyer51.
I was originally planning to have AeroQuest 4 published by now and AeroQuest 5 well underway as my regular novel-writing segment on Tuesdays. The manuscript for 4 is written and formatted, awaiting only a final edit. And half of 5 is already written. It is only the expanded first part of this manuscript that has yet to be written.
But since finishing the manuscript for 4, all I have managed to do is work on other projects. I have added nothing to it since February.
My Fairy stories have taken over my writing time.
The Education of PoppenSparkle has taken over the Tuesday slot in my supposedly structured blogging week. I am enjoying writing it, yet, it is only happening on Mondays every week. The last-minute nature of that writing style is producing a lot of adrenalin and obsession with deadlines, but it is also draining the creativity out of writing time every other day of the week. I haven’t failed to post something for my daily blog, but even the writing I do get done lacks the luster of older posts.
I need to get back to writing on my main work-in-progress, He Rose on a Golden Wing. That book continues to grow and get more complicated as it marinates in the creative juice of my overly juicy mind.
So, there it is, me writing about something I was not supposed to write about on this Memorial Day. I am not suffering from writer’s block, for I am writing every day. But I am suffering from doldrums with the sailboat of progress not having any wind in my sails. How do I get the wind back? I will find a way.
On my daily walk in the greenbelt park there are bridges to get back and forth across the creek. The park is both a place of recreation and a flood-control device that helps keep the city above water. I crossed bridges six times in my walk today (one small bridge twice, the Josey Lane street bridge, the Frankford Road bridge, and the two wooden-plank bridges that help you walk a loop through the park.) With my near-crippling arthritis, I could not navigate the park without those bridges.
And life is getting harder as I get older. My eyesight is becoming cloudy and blurred. My joints all ache. I have problems with bodily functions. I constantly talk about things like that last one in this blog that you really don’t want to know.
Yesterday this blog got fewer views than any single day since 2013. And that includes days when I didn’t publish even one post. Yesterday I published two, one I wrote about God believing science fiction is true, and the other about crying at movies that is a popular old post re-posted.
I do this blog because I am nominally supposed to be promoting my published books. I was set on this path by the marketing advisor for I-Universe Publishing. It was not intended as a way to have fun writing and using it as a way to prove to myself that I am somehow a successful writer.
The bridge I have to cross is believing in myself. I need to stop having doubts. Good days and bad days happen to all writers. Stephen King , getting run over by a passing car, had a worse bad day than I have ever experienced. And because I continue to struggle and write, getting words down on paper, and putting together publishable paragraphs, I am proving that I am a writer every day. No one can take that away from me. And I truly believe I am a good writer. I know a lot about how to write that even successful writers don’t really know. And even though some who read my books have hated them, and a majority of those who have read them don’t leave a review, I have good reasons to cross the bridge into the bright green park of believing in my own writing..
Writing every day is the exercise that keeps my mind alive just as walking in the park every day keeps my body and especially my heart alive.
I try to follow up on the lives of the characters I have created and set in motion through the stars. But mail service from distant planets can be a problem. And a lot depends on whether you are travelling via faster-than-light photon drives or the lumbering sluggishness of generational travel.
Davalon and Tanith, the Tellerons pictured here, promised to keep in touch with me and update me about their adventures on the planet Galtorr Prime.
You may remember, if you are one of the three people who actually read the novel Stardusters and Space Lizards, that Dav and Tanith were on one of the colonized moons of Galtorr where they now basically owned the planetoid due to having material synthesizers with which to feed the starving survivors of the planet’s collapse into civil war and environmental disaster.
In their last letter, they were still unaware that power-mad politicians and man-made climate problems are doing to this planet the same things that nearly destroyed the planet Galtorr Prime when they arrived there back in 1991.
Davalon tells me that young George Jetson is becoming a pilot. The more he crashes space ships and survives the disaster, the more he learns about what not to do. And his learning curve has definitely caused his more mechanically-minded siblings to get better faster at repairing crashed ships.
Sizzahl, the Galtorrian Lizard-girl, is now the premiere biologist on the planet, although she was still a child… a child genius, in 1991. She is working on genetically evolving the Galtorrian race by combining their DNA with Earth humans, trying to get the best of both races and praying to the Crocodile God that she doesn’t get the worst of both races in her new Fusion Galtorrians.
Sizzahl wants to argue with me about forcing Earth humans to evolve in a similar fashion. She points out that if we continue to treat the planet the way we are currently doing, we will need to breed in genetic abilities to resist heat and evolve lungs that have a capacity to filter out acids, carcinogens, and poisons, as well as extract oxygen directly from carbon dioxide. She has a better argument than she knows as this last letter was sent out at the speed of light in 1991 and only arrived yesterday. She is older and smarter by now. But we are also dumber and more poisoned as a species.
Brekka’s psychic link to the man-eating plant called Lester has proved to be a boon to the planet. The plant can eat scabby-zombies that are bad for the environment and create new buds which he/she gladly donates to the food supply. (New buds are not technically children because the only mind they have is Lester’s.)
So, I sent them a reply letter. It will get there in 21 years at the speed of light. So, in 42 years I should get the information I need to write a sequel. I will only be 107 at that time.
Concluding this meandering ridiculous rant about how you distill the meaning of your books into themes is no small task. My limiting goal was to identify one main theme for each of my books. It has to be limited because every well-written book has multiple themes of varying complexity and scope.
And then when you tie everything together as I have done with my Hometown Novels, there are themes that cross the borders from one book into the next. This essay will sum up by telling about the books I have written beyond the borders of my Hometown books.
The Wizard in his Keep
This book is unique in dozens of ways. It is an orphan-journey through a virtual-reality video game that you can actually live inside because of the full-body interface suits that get you into the game. It is science fiction because of the virtual-reality technology, but the competition within the game is set in a fantasy kingdom running on magic and super powers. And the plot is a parallel of Charles Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop.
This book is the conclusion to several character arcs that begin with the Hometown Novels’ very first book, Superchicken. One character’s life ends in death, but on his own terms. Another character finds the answers to his missing sister and the family she kept secret from him. And the orphans find a loving family that they never knew existed. So, one big theme is that; “You make your own happy endings by hard work, risk, and perseverance, not by magic or luck” But this is an overarching theme that covers more than one story in more than two or three other books.
The book also holds true to several other things that are true about my stories. It is a comedy with at least one character dying sometime before the story ends. It is surrealism, giving a rational grounding in realism to some rather fantastic things. And the characters who find success are empathetic types who realize that loving others is more important than loving ourselves.
A Field Guide to Fauns
An important facet of my novel-writing experience has come about through the general audience reception of my works. Specifically, nudists and naturists were attracted to my books through the nudist characters in my book Recipes for Gingerbread Children.
That is the reason this book, A Field Guide to Fauns even exists. I wrote it specifically for an audience of nudists, naturists, and people like me who have always been fascinated by nudism and were simply afraid to actually try it until we grew old, mature, and goofy enough not to care what other people think about me being a naked old man..
The book is about a boy named Devon who goes from a traumatic event that took him out of his divorced mother’s home and put him in his father’s house. But his father is remarried to a woman with twin daughters who are dedicated nudists, and live in a residence that is located in a South Texas nudist park. He has to recover from his trauma by becoming a nudist living a naked life himself. The theme is, “You can overcome childhood trauma if only you are open to being nakedly honest about yourself… especially being nakedly honest with yourself.”
Stardusters and Space Lizards
This story is one of the sequel messes written to go with Catch a Falling Star. It follows the alien characters and three of the human characters from that book out into the stars. It is basically an allegory for the climate-change crisis we face here on planet Earth. Besides the fact that this book offers the idea that inventive children can solve world-wide problems, and Texas politicians can be translated into lizard-people monsters who are actually to blame for everything, the theme of this book is really, “To solve ecological problems on a world-wide scale, we must first acknowledge that those problems are not caused by lack of understanding, but by the disregard for life that people have when they are motivated by personal gain, power, and reputation.”
This book is even harder to give a main theme to since it is a book of essays. Every entry, every single essay, has it’s own unique theme, ideally expressed in a topic sentence that states the theme.
But it is not impossible to find an over-arching theme. It is filled with short vignettes and stories about my childhood, my life as a teacher, my cartoons and bizarre sense of humor, my philosophical musings, and complaints about the things that have hurt me. It is largely autobiographical. And the main theme is basically, “When life gives you lemons, make a lemony joke of some sort because laughing is much better than crying and a better thing to do when you’re blue.”
I know, I know… purple paisley prose.
I am well aware that I have not put a theme to every single book I have written. But I think I have, in the course of 6 essays, done a fair job of puzzling together and proving my point that a novel, or even other kinds of books, need a coherent main theme, and the author should, hopefully, know what those themes are. So, the essay ends here. Mostly because I am old and cranky and tired of repeating myself endlessly.