Category Archives: novel writing

AeroQuest 3… Canto 83

Canto 83 – Star Nomads Revealed (The Silver Thread)

Artran Blastarr, the eight-year-old son of space pirates, and Tiki Astro, the robot-boy, stood holding hands on the docking bay floor next to the somewhat unreliable yet amazingly effective Bill the Postman (Scarpigo Snarcs in his current secret identity).

From the portal opposite, on the far side of the docking bay, three gigantic humanoid figures dressed in metallic armor of some kind emerged.

“Who… who are those?” gasped Artran.

“Those are Star Nomads.  If I don’t miss my best guess, it is the Black Knight, the Dark Traveler, and the Magnificent Wanderer,” said Bill.

They slowly approached, each a massive figure in armor that completely covered their entire bodies, completely obscuring even their faces, no matter what race or configuration they actually represented.  The Black Knight was all in gleaming black armor with a razor-edged hook for a crest on his faceless helmet.  The Dark Traveler was all decked out in metallic green armor.  And the Magnificent Wanderer, as Bill pointed out, was armored entirely in gleaming silver.

Drawing close enough to speak, the Magnificent Wanderer’s voice boomed out like a thunderclap on a rainy planet.  “So, you have brought us the chosen one, Scarpigo Snarcs.”

“Yes, oh Magnificent One.  But please refrain from using my real name in front of those who might not be stupid enough to misremember it.”

“I will never fully understand why demi-humans like this one insist on their comic prevarications the way this one does,” said the Dark Traveler.

“Indeed,” said the Wanderer.  The Black Knight remained silent.

“Who is this chosen one?” asked Tiki Astro meekly.

“The human child born on the planet known as Outpost.”  The Traveler nodded at Artran.

“Me?” squeaked Artran.

“Of course, you,” said the Wanderer.  “We need an authentic discoverer of worlds for our purpose.”

“…And you know the boy thinks that’s the silliest thing he ever heard,” said Bill.

“Of course, he does.  We pulled him out of the time stream well before he was ready to set foot on his first planet.  Who better to use for the purpose, than the one fated to it?”

“Yes, you are right,” admitted Bill quickly.  “You are always right.”  Bill rolled his eyes when the Wanderer’s featureless face was turned away.

“So, Tiki and I are supposed to be here?  This wasn’t just an accident?”

“The robotic child-construct is fated to be elsewhere.  You alone are the chosen one, Artran Blastarr.”  The Wanderer pointed his armored finger at Artran’s breastbone.

“No!  I won’t go anywhere without my friend Tiki!”  Artran began to leak emotion-induced wetness from his childish eyes.  Of course, the Star Nomads would never give in to any such emotional nonsense.

“The Metaloid boy belongs to the White Spider,” said the Black Knight in what can only be described as a dark black voice.  “He must be there when the critical time comes.  The universe decrees it.”

“You can count on me,” said Bill, not actually adding, “because I must be some sort of human abacus.”

“You are not actually human,” said the Wanderer, apparently answering Scarpigo’s thoughts.

“What if I don’t agree to go to this White Spider?” asked Tiki.

“Then we invoke protocol alpha in your programming,” said the Wanderer.

“Oh.  Sorry, Artran.  I have to be going.  It’s a robot thing.”

By this time Artran was beside himself with misery.  “Bye, Tiki.  I love you.”

The real boy and the robot boy briefly hugged before Bill (Scarpigo) the Postman led Tiki Astro back to the X-boat.

Artran looked up at the Wanderer with tear-filled eyes.

“So, are you gonna eat me now?” he said in a fully resigned voice.

“We no longer consume food of any sort.  We will now take you to civilized planets that you will learn about and then give to the newly-formed alliance that is to become the New Star League.”

“Oh.  Okay.”

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AeroQuest 3… Adagio 14

Adagio 14 – The Battle of Farwind (the Blood-red Thread)

It was amazing to me how few casualties actually occurred in the capture of a planet like Farwind by a handful of commandos led by a traitor.  The Battle of Farwind cost the Imperial Defense Force one traitorous commando commander, six unwilling Imperial loyalists, and fifty-two insanely-programmed Mechanoids.  Our side lost no one at all.  Ninety-two percent of the Imperial forces on the planet switched sides, preferring the command of the charismatic and humble Duke Han Ferrari to the iron-fisted rule of the maniacal Mechanoid Admiral Brona Tang.

Duke Ferrari quickly established a temporarily-appointed government of both like-minded intellectuals and professionals, and highly intelligent and motivated members of the political opposition.  Massive elections were planned and were quickly carried out, but Ferrari rode a wave of popular acclaim into office where they would’ve made him Emperor if he chose, just as George Washington of Earth and Toakenn Ailiannaim of Samothrace had done before him.  He took the office of Farwind Executive Prime, and made the popular alien entertainer William Bugbright his Executive Second.  Bugbright was not a human-born entertainer of aliens, mind you, but a Kritiian, an insectoid alien, that had the head of a giant praying mantis, four chitinous arms, and could play two ukuleles at once while singing popular human songs in a particularly humorous off-key voice.  It is little wonder he was the most popular living entertainer on holographic videos since the Galtorrians first discovered I Love Lucy reruns being broadcast on old-time television signals from the nearby planet Earth.  Galtorrians, and even Galtorrian-human fusions, as you probably already know, love the comedy stylings of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz more than anything else ever used for entertainment on a thousand worlds.  Incidentally, did you know that the first Galtorrians to land on Earth were surprised to learn that everything on the planet was not colored only in black and white and shades of gray?  They knew about movies and television on their own, but they never actually discovered black and white.  Choosing an entertainer as Executive Second was probably the canniest move that Duke Ferrari made in selecting his new rebel government.  The Galtorrians and the Galtorrian-Human fusions were all enthralled and easily swayed by entertainers, especially those who could handle humor well.  Teachers would never have conquered the Galtorrian Imperium if it hadn’t been for that one factor, humor, and the power of those who are funny.

So, you can see, the conquest of the planet Farwind was easily one of the most confoundingly absurd and easy conquests in recorded history.  It was more amazing than Cortez conquering the Aztec civilization because Cortez lost men and had no visible sense of humor in any form that I can see, and I have been there via time machine, though only to watch from the bushes.

The author of this expert analysis.

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Book Cover Art

I have taken a vow to do only my own covers for my books from here on out. I can draw well. And I have a good artistic eye, at least until I lose my eyesight to glaucoma because I can’t afford eye doctors. So, today’s Art Day post will be about the covers to my books.

The spines of my 14 published books.
This clunky cover was my first published book, published by a big-mistake publisher called Publish America, a company that dissolved in class-action lawsuits.
I vowed to start making my own covers.

I-Universe insisted on giving me a cover that had nothing to do with the story in the book. A girl flying a kite at night? What is that? At no point in the story does anything happen that is even remotely like that.

Page Publishing at least used my own artwork to create the cover for Magical Miss Morgan. They were also incompetent publishers selling me overpriced publishing services that were basically worthless.

These are the covers that I used to replace the first clunky publisher’s cover.

This is the picture I wanted to use on the cover of Snow Babies. But the pixel size of the background photo was too big to use it in larger than postage-stamp size.
A version of this is what I had to settle for in a letter-boxed format.
Here’s the cover of… well, you can see that for yourself.
Recipes’ companion novel, same time, same place, same events, but a different point of view.
The illustration for The Bicycle-Wheel Genius cover.
Like Baby Werewolf and Recipes for Gingerbread Children, this one has a companion book.
This is the other half of Sing Sad Songs.
Stardusters is the sequel to Catch a Falling Star
This is now the only book of mine not published on Amazon.

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My most-recently published novel.
My re-published novel.
The first novel I ever wrote and didn’t throw away.
My current work in progress

So, there is a look at the current state of my novel covers. Not professional, but original.

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Sunday Thoughts at Random

Sometimes the fact that you are writing up a storm on your current work in progress works against you in that you have no writing electricity left to spark an idea for the daily blog . So, what do I write about on day like today?

I can’t talk about the previous novel anymore. It is out there now. It is complete, and a part of my over-all body of work.

It is a good one, though. It is funny, full of magic, and action, and characters that I love.

I can’t really talk about A Field Guide to Fauns. It is too new, and I haven’t had time to fully digest what I’ve done in the last four days.

That sort of work in progress is too fresh to have the analysis boiled out of it.

I can show you an illustration from the novel that is new and hasn’t been seen before.

Her name is Mandy. She is the twin of Tandy. She is not actually a demon. She just plays one in this novel.

I can illustrate this post with recent pictures used in recent posts, but that doesn’t get me a topic to write about either.

This picture of Randy is an illustration from AeroQuest 3 : Juggling Planets. That’s my novel rewrite which I am working on at the same time as I am doing the current work in progress.

So, I guess there is really nothing to write about today. And I must now end this post by saying, “I guess I am just not going to write a post today.”

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AeroQuest 3… Canto 79

Canto 79 – Riding the Magic Carpet (The Blue Thread)

Arkin Cloudstalker and his six Lazerstone companions returned to their little scout ship at the downport.   One of the Lazerstones carried the angry head and torso of the bounty hunter, Ace Campfield.

“I don’t know how we are going to fit seven of us in this little two-man scout ship,” complained Arkin.  “It’s barely supplied well enough for two.”

“You forget that the Lazerstone collective are not humanoids.  We don’t eat food.  We don’t breathe atmosphere.  We don’t even sleep.  Besides, I can’t leave any of my kind on a non-resonant rock like this one.  We must all go with you to a better source of crystal.”

“You aren’t going to leave me here with no arms or legs, either, are you?” complained Campfield.  “And I make eight if you are counting me.”

“Seven and a half,” corrected Arkin.

“We could completely destroy him,” recommended the Lazerstone carrying the mechanoid

“He could prove useful yet, especially if we re-program him,” said Arkin.

“Well, the machine-man is right, then.  If he counts, he makes too many.”

As they reached the berth of their star ship, Cloudstalker was surprised to see the woman he knew as the Black Fly standing there in her full black body suit with one of the Snarcs Brothers, the one called Cinco Snarcs.

“What?  What are you doing here?  And didn’t the Snarcs idiots strand us when they disappeared from Hyde Park without warning?”

“We is not abandoning you, boss,” said big-nosed Cinco Snarcs.  “Sir Emerald Man with his greeny wishes came and snorkeled us all away to sell fish-skin socks in anudder time and place.”

“He means the Snarcs brothers had to be in another time and place for the White Duke’s purposes, so a Time Knight whisked them away.”  The black fly pulled off her black mask as she spoke, a beautiful fall of auburn hair revealing a beauty that Arkin had not thought possible.  She was a lovely lady of about his own age.

“So, you two are here to help cram us all into a little scout ship we were left with by fleeing Snarcses?”  Arkin’s voice sounded far more cross than he had intended.

“We don’t do the sardini thingy with space men, no,” assured Cinco Snarcs.

“We have a patrol corvette called the Magic Carpet,” said Black Fly.

“So, we will all fit on your Magic Carpet?”

“It can handle up to sixty troops and a crew of four.”

“Good.  We need to return to Tron’s base at Outpost as quickly as we can.”

“Ah, yes.  But only after one further stop.  We must also visit a planet called Djinnistan.”

“What will we find there, genies?”

“Djinn, Peris, and Afrits, yes.”  Something about the Black Fly’s charming smile bothered Arkin just a bit. 

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Something Unexpected

I finished up a final proofread and formatting project on the novel I am re-publishing on Amazon, Magical Miss Morgan.

And, you know what? The story made me cry again. An unbroken record. It is about the fifteenth time I read through it. And every single time, the little three-inch-tall fairy is killed again, and I can’t keep my eyes dry.

He’s not even based on a real person as so many of my characters are. It’s not like it is someone I know and love. It’s a fairy. Not even remotely real. And I’m the one who decided he had to die in the story because because good comedy stories always end with at least one main character dying… Don”t they?

Mike Murphy and Blueberry Bates

But I can’t help feeling things about the characters in my stories. I don’t love them all. I hate some of them. But, they’re the ones you are supposed to hate. They are villians, bad guys, characters based on real people who hurt me in real life.

Silkie and Donner are fairies.

It’s not just my stories that make me feel. I have read Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities twice, and both times Sydney Carton made me cry. I read Dickens’ Old Curiosity Shop only once. And Little Nell made me cry so hard I could never reread that book. And there’s Simon in The Lord of the Flies, and, of course, the old Yeller dog in Old Yeller by Fred Gipson… I’m a sucker for heroic deaths and tragic losses. They touch and twist my little blue heart.

Miss Francis Morgan, school teacher

But I cried for the fifteenth time, and I survived it. I will probably cry again if I read it again. That is what life is like. That is what fiction is for. To make me think and feel and… love.

Magical Miss Morgan will soon be back in print.

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AeroQuest 3… Canto 76

Canto 76 –Practicing Practical Practices

Ged had begun to feel at ease with the strange ninja powers he had absorbed by eating the Black Spider Leader while in the form of a dinosaur.  He was a master of The Discipline now.  Back on Earth in the time before travel between the stars, this Discipline had been known as K’ung Fu.  The Black Spider Leader had mastered the jump-kicks of WuShu and the graceful, swift hand-to-hand combat known as Wing Chung.  Because the skill had been trained into The Black Spider Leader’s muscle memory, Ged had absorbed it whole, even if he did not have the philosophies that were supposed to go with it.  One thing he liked about it, though, was that it allowed him to defeat and overpower an opponent without doing permanent damage.  Ged had never loved killing the way Trav Dalgoda loved it.  He always preferred the bloodless victory, whether over man or beast.  The prey was always to be honored and respected.  And the prey was not to be stalked if it was not capable of self-defense.

In the heart of the Celestial Dragon was a large, gym-like room that was perfect for giving students lessons in the art of the Discipline.  It had a soft, forgiving floor, plenty of room, and a pair of bathing pools that provided purified water for drinking or bathing.  It was in this room which Ged now called the Practice Center that he was trying to impart his skills to Shu Kwai, Junior, Billy Iowa, and Rocket Rogers.  The Phoenix and Hassan Parker sat at the side, both cross-legged, watching with great interest.

“The simplest form of this move is a shield, making it an effective block to the offensive strikes I have shown you,” said Ged, demonstrating an arc of the right arm in a circle to his right side.

“You know,” said Phoenix, “Master Bres taught Alec and me a very similar stroke, but it led to a killing strike to the neck or groin.”

Ged looked grimly at the red-haired boy.  “I prefer not to attach that sort of thing to this move, if you don’t mind.”

“Oh, I don’t mind.  I think I prefer your way,” said Phoenix with a smug grin.  “It will prolong the battle and make things much closer.  You know, more challenging.”

“It allows you to protect yourself without killing,” reminded Ged.  The other boys all looked at him with questioning faces.

“If Alec were here, he’d say it protects you better to end it quickly.  Bres would say that the kill is the only worthy goal.”

“I would rather not be compared to Bres, if you don’t mind.”

Phoenix smiled a more genuine smile.  “You don’t have to convince me, sensei.  You are much better at this than the new Black Spider Leader.  It is because your motives are so much purer than his, I think.”

“Thank you.”

Ged allowed Billy Iowa to try an offensive strike.  Four times he deflected it easily.  The move worked.

“Practice with your partner,” said Ged. 

Shu Kwai paired himself with Rocket.  Junior squared off with Billy.  All four of them were dressed simply in loin covers and tabai boots.  Rocket also wore his ever-present cowboy hat.  Ged watched bare arms and legs flashing as they worked on the technique.  All four boys were distinctly different from each other.  Shu’s skin was yellow-orange in the Gaijinese manner.  Rocket was a pale peach color like Ged himself.  Billy was Indian bronze, while Junior was blue.  Still, Ged couldn’t help but marvel at how they meshed together whenever they tried to accomplish the same goal.

“You know,” said Ged, “It is our differences that make us strong as a whole.  We are blessed by being different, complementing each other.”

            Phoenix laughed.  “Is that wisdom, sensei?”

“I hope it is,” said Ged, somewhat sheepishly.  It wasn’t easy to tell if he’d really won Phoenix over or not.  The boy was more dangerous than the others, his Galtorrian lizard eyes so much harder to read.

Suddenly there was a loud fwooping noise.  Two more students appeared in the Practice Center.  They were both naked and connected to each other in the most embarrassing way possible.  It was a deeply blushing Alec Songh with a writhing, moaning Jadalaqstbr held in his arms.

Ged was a little shocked, to say the least.

“What is going on here?” asked Shu Kwai, immediately incensed at what he saw.  Rocket and Billy couldn’t help but giggle.  Junior looked on with fascination.

“Ooops!” said Alec.  “I guess it’s pretty obvious what is going on.”  He pulled away from the girl, trying to cover his embarrassment with his hands.  “What I’m wondering is how we ended up here?”

As young Jackie came to her senses again, she couldn’t help but blush deeply also.  “I guess I lost control of my power.  I’m so sorry, Alec.”

“Hmm,” said Ged.  “I believe this is a breakthrough, although I would’ve preferred to find it out a different way.”

“What do you mean, sensei?” asked Shu Kwai.

“Well, we did not know before it was possible for a Psion like Jackie to teleport two people,” said Ged.  “We need to know if it can be done again.”

“I’m sorry, sensei,” said Jadalaqstbr.  “I was so overpowered by a new experience that I didn’t know what I was doing.  My inner eye activated almost by itself.”

“Can you teleport back to the room you were in, get your clothes on, and both come back here again?”

“I don’t know,” said the embarrassed girl.  “Do you think we have to be doing the same thing on the way back?”

“Yes!” said Rocket.  “Try that again!”

Jackie blushed.

“No,” said Ged.  “Hold onto him and try to take him with you.”

The girl gingerly took hold of Alec’s arms again.  The fwooping sounded again and the two students were gone as suddenly as they had come.

“Should you have let them go like that?” asked Shu Kwai.  “Don’t you think they need to be punished for what they were doing?”

Ged shook his head.  Perhaps Shu was right.  Still, who was Ged to judge the guilt of others in this area?  “We cannot punish them for being humanoid.  I will talk with Alec about it, but it is really a thing between their consciences and themselves.”

In a few more moments, the two children reappeared, this time fully clothed from head to toe.  It was obvious they had felt quite mortified by their experience.  Jadalaqstbr had demonstrated before that teleporting with clothes on was not difficult.

“Before the lectures begin,” said Alec with a frown, “I want to tell you, sensei, that I love her.  I am not just defying you.  And, Shu, it’s none of your frakking business what Jackie and I do.”

“I love him too, sensei,” said Jadalaqstbr.  “He didn’t make me do anything I didn’t want to do.”

Ged nodded.  “We need to have a private discussion.  This class is dismissed for now.”

The boys all filed away, Alec and Jackie staying behind to face the music.  Alec had a look of determined defiance on his face.  The music would have to be about birds and bees, and right and wrong.  Ged knew what a parent and teacher would have to say in this situation, his mother had once had this discussion with Ham and Ged.  It wasn’t going to make things any easier for any of them, though, especially Ged.

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