Category Archives: novel writing

AeroQuest 3… Adagio 13

Adagio 13 – The Pathfinders

It was difficult enough to piece the whole story together before Artran left his parents, but it’s about to become even more difficult to follow.  Let me try to straighten you out about the plot of this history.  Well, maybe straighten out isn’t such a good term.   It’s more like having a giant Gordian Knot of colored pipe cleaners without being able to cut it apart with a sword.  Instead, you have to follow the ins and outs of the different colored strands and try like hell to make out how it all fits together.  That is by way of analogy, mind you.  Don’t go thinking that this entire history is made of literal pipe cleaners. 

The thing is, it started out as a straight-forward tale with two brothers leaving Imperial space because of persecution.  They were determined to make a new and better home somewhere out in unknown space. 

It’s surprising, though, how quickly the unknown becomes a part of the known, and how the known can become a heavy anchor that pulls you back to weighty things. 

When Ged sent Ham in the wrong direction, back into the Galtorr Imperium, we have the first fork in the plot.  Then came the Corsairs’ determination to work together, all except for the evil Monopoly Brigade, and then, following that, Tron and Arkin and Razor and the rest all get split up again.  More forks in the path.  In fact, everything gets pretty much all forked up.

I see the story going plot-wise in two directions at once, then with a couple of curly-cues, a loop-the-loop, and a full back flip.  It gets even more complicated as Dr. Hooey and the Time Knights get involved.  I mean, they started meddling with events themselves, backwards and forwards in time.  It gets pretty hairy in an ugly, back-hair sort of way.

So, even though I started this chapter in my history as a way to clarify how and where things are going, I am more confused than ever myself.  You’ll have to forgive me.

Anyway, little Artran leaving his parents for the first time is important because of the result.  He would fly off from the impending Battle of Outpost and into history as one of the most important explorers since Martin Faulkner himself.  You’ll see what I mean as the story goes along, that is, if I don’t get so balled up in it that I meet myself going the opposite way and forget to tell you that part.

This is not just a record of the doings of the famous safari masters, Ged and Ham Aero.   It is not just a record of the rebellion by pirates and politicians.  It is a story of how a small boy gets separated from his parents and discovers worlds undreamed of in our philosophy.  Oh, and don’t forget about the “Teachers in Space” parts of the story.  That’s important too.

But this Adagio is entitled “Pathfinders” for a reason.  Admittedly, not a very good reason, as the path is very hard to follow.  But hang in there.  The story gets better later.  I promise.  For one thing, I myself, Professor Googol Marou, am about to enter this story.

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Marketing is My Bane

It’s a good book. It is themed with an interesting idea about hopes and dreams, happiness and sorrow, and life and death. I believe people will like it if they try reading it. In fact, it could become popular if people would allow themselves to fall in love with it and promote it by word of mouth.

The problem is, of course, that even though I am a good writer and storyteller, I suck at marketing.

Seriously, I worked with editors on Catch a Falling Star who had experience with major publishing houses. They told me that my book was competent and better than a lot of very successful novels that were not written with the skill that mine was. The problem that I ran into was how expensive that method was and how little help they actually gave me with the marketing part that was theoretically supposed to make the money back. The professional editing was worth the money. The marketing investment was not.

Amazon and KDP is a free publishing service, but it is almost not worth the price either.

It comes with the stigma of being an Indie writer, so, by definition, a hack who is not very good at writing. There are literally millions of books self-published by people just like me that go a long way towards validating that assumption. So, skill at writing is something to be proven through the actual written product, which is really hard to do if nobody is willing to read your book.

Every review I have gotten on my books so far is a five-star review. Of course, that means little when there are so few reviews. All the reviewers could simply be over-enthusiastic author-likers. And the trolls and the harsh critics haven’t taken their stabs yet.

So, I am stuck trying to brainstorm promotional strategies that I am well enough and financially sound enough to carry out. And all of those my stormy brained has lightning-bolted out so far have been failures. I don’t know how to break through the ice sheet to be noticed. And not even global warming seems to be helping. Ah, well… que sera sera… what will be will be.

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Filed under feeling sorry for myself, novel writing, Paffooney, publishing

AeroQuest 3… Canto 67

Canto 67 – Scaling the Dragon (This Canto has been re-ordered in the re-write.)

The Dragon Gate of the city of Kiro, Gaijin, was a huge carving of an oriental dragon’s head which allowed a fairly good sized caravan to pass through its open mouth and into the city all at once.  The shoulders of the dragon were carved from the south side of the gate in the immense city wall that, like a coiled serpent, circled the city and ended in a gigantic tail that rose up like a tower on the northern side of the gate.  The carved dragon itself snarled in that crazed oriental manner and was colored red with gold trim edging each and every individual scale.

Ged and his students walked there and stood looking up at the edifice.

“Is it hollow?” blond Rocket Rogers asked from under the brim of his white cowboy hat.

“No, stupid, it’s obviously one solid piece,” sneered Alec Songh.

“Shut up, Alec!” shouted Friashqazatla.  Freddy had become Rocket’s shadow, following him everywhere and imitating everything about him.  His worshipful friendship had become indispensable to Rocket.

“How will we get inside?” asked Shu Kwai, ignoring the bickering and concentrating on the problem at hand.

“Can Jadalaqstbr do it for us?” asked Hassan Parker innocently.  Hassan was still nude in protest for the group’s rejection of his Classical Worlds’ notions.  He wore only the blue felt fez he always had on his head.

“She might teleport inside a solid part, not being able to see inside,” said Sensei Aero.  “We don’t want to lose her.”

Jackie stood close beside Alec Songh, blushing as they talked about her, in spite of her dark brown skin.

“Can a clairvoyant look inside?” asked Billy Iowa, pushing up the front of the brim of his own cowboy hat.

“Maybe…” murmured Phoenix.  His green snake eyes glazed over for a moment, and then he awoke from his brief trance.  “No.  I can’t see through some sort of fog inside this dragon.”

“What is it that we think is here?” asked Sarah Smith.  The Gaijinese sunshine made her blond hair and snow-white body suit glow with reflected light.

“An alien artifact from the time of the Ancients,” said Ged distractedly, studying the eyes of the great beast.

“Possibly a space ship,” offered Phoenix.

“Some of the other artifacts we’ve encountered had a sort of mind of their own,” stated Ged, more to himself than to his students.

“Should I try to detect a mind?” asked Sarah sweetly.

“She’s a powerful telepath,” added Junior Aero.

While Ged was thinking, Alec Songh put his hands on Jadalaqstbr once again.  She melted up against him and began to softly coo with pleasure.

“Alec!” said Shu Kwai sternly.  Alec let go of her, both body and mind.  He and Shu had talked at length about what was acceptable White Spider behavior in a public place.  Seducing someone was not one of things that Shu was willing to allow.

“All right, Sarah.  Perhaps that is a good idea,” said Ged at last.  He remembered how telepathic Tara had been able to use the Hammer to create an entire downport on Don’t Go Here

Sarah put her forefingers to her temples and began to concentrate.  “Oh!” she said, almost immediately.  “It is a dark and powerful mind!  I can’t even get close to it!”

Junior took hold of her shoulders, concerned that she might somehow be hurt.  His intentions, however, were turned inside out by the dark red mind that came flooding into his inner eye.  Swirling patterns of circuitry and resistors flooded into his brain.  A series of controls formed in his mind.  Stunned, Junior blinked at the others and said, “I have it.”

“What do you mean?” asked Ged.

“It is a machine,” said Junior.  “I can make it work by telepathy.”  He concentrated for a moment on the controls arrayed before him in his inner eye.  Red-gold-green-red.  The mechanisms awoke for the first time in a million years.

With a rumble, the carven upper jaw of the dragon splintered and the roof of the huge mouth fell out, shattering on the pavement below.  A long, thin lower jaw dropped down from the great carven head.  The tongue rippled itself into a sort of stairway leading up into the dark throat.  The dragon had come to life and now was offering to swallow them if they only decided to take the stairway.

Cautiously, Ged led the way.  Rocket Rogers, then Shu Kwai followed him.  Looking slightly panicked, Taffy King scanned the others and then followed Rocket up the tongue-stair.  Friashqazatla went next.  Then Billy Iowa and timid Gyro.  Holding hands, Alec Songh and Jadalaqstbr went up.  Phoenix, Hassan Parker, and little Mai Ling followed.  Finally, Sarah looked at Junior Aero, who had opened this hatch, smiled, and led him, too, up the stair.

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Novel-ty Art

Valerie Clarke in the Snow for Snow Babies

Some Art is created for the sake of illustrating my novels. So, today’s artwork is all about that.

Running for the Bus in The Boy… Forever
Re-done cover art for Superchicken
Francois and Mr. Disney for Sing Sad Songs
Davalon, Tanith, and George Jetson from Stardusters and Space Lizards
Silkie and Donner in Magical Miss Morgan
Mike Murphy and Blueberry Bates from Magical Miss Morgan
Invisible Captain Dettbarn, Valerie in Squirrel Form, and Mary Philips from When the Captain Came Calling
Anneliese the Gingerbread Girl from Recipes for Gingerbread Children
Grandma Gretel, Todd Niland, Sherry Cobble, and Sandy Wickham from Recipes for Gingerbread Children
Zearlop Zebra the ventriloquist’s puppet, Terry Houston, and Murray Dawes from Fools and Their Toys
Orben Wallace, The Bicycle-Wheel Genius
Torrie Brownfield from The Baby Werewolf
Milt Morgan from The Baby Werewolf
Dorin Dobbs from Catch a Falling Star
Ged Aero from Aeroquest 1 & 2

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More Illustrating AeroQuest

I am nearing the completion of the rewrite of part two of AeroQuest. Part of that is getting all the illustrations I want to include done. So, here are a few more that I have been working on.

For those who might be wondering, AeroQuest 1 and AeroQuest 2 are comic science fiction, and I have chosen to rewrite them with lots of illustrations since it is a work of fiction that I might’ve done as a graphic novel if only I didn’t have arthritis in my hands.

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Filed under artwork, comic book heroes, humor, illustrations, novel, novel writing, Paffooney, satire, science fiction

Illustrating AeroQuest

As I am editing and rewriting my first published novel to turn it into a novel series of at least four books, I have been enjoying rounding up and editing old artwork to illustrate it. I have been taking advantage of the fact that you can, after a fashion, plug illustrations into the manuscript and have it come through as acceptably good in the final Amazon publication.

The story comes from adventure logs of a space-fantasy role-playing game called Traveller. I played the game with small handfuls of high school kids whose player characters are now the main characters of the story (after modifications and considerable censorship.

The illustrations, a lot of them, are drawings of the characters that I did in pen and ink back in the 1980’s.

We went through multiple generations of player characters, some of whom were practically immortal, and others that died horrible deaths after a few episodes.

Most of the acting in the RPG was done for humor’s sake, and so my Sci-Fi tale turns out to be more of comedy than anything else.

Amanda is Ged’s daughter, though the player was not related to Ged’s player.

Rescuing the novel from the sorry state it was in from being an awkward first attempt at publishing done with a publisher that later had to be sued and put on trial for fraud has been an interesting and rewarding experience. These stories will never be among my best works, but they were definitely a learning experience. And rewriting them is a learning experience itself, living the story all over again with significant changes.

The places are the same, but as a satire, they had to be re-named in many instances as the planet’s names and their make-up were copied from other books and movies. But they were rewritten by the players themselves as everything was turned into comedy and farce. Hence, the planet Mongo ruled by Emperor Ming, became the planet Mingo ruled by Emperor Mong. These are obvious references that are re-named in ways that give us a laugh or a wince.

..

I doubt it is obvious by just looking at these drawings, but by reducing their size, the line drawings are improved to a high degree.

Illustrating AeroQuest has been fun. Maybe, at some point, it will even prove profitable. But ultimately, it is definitely a thing worth doing.

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Creating Another Cover

As I continue working on my work-in-progress, I get ideas for how I am going to make a cover for it. I have kicked around ideas and even tried executing a few of them. And when I say that, it doesn’t mean I literally kicked anything or shot anything in the head. I did drawings and thought seriously about how to put them together.

Remember this one? I drew this because my current novel has two people in it that claim they are actually dragons in human disguises.

One of those people is the girl Fiona Long, who goes by Fi most of the time. She is an aggressive red-headed girl who makes the boys cringe on occasion. She tells them her real name is Firefang, and she’s a red dragon wearing a human meat-disguise. Of course, the boys in Norwall, Iowa immediately believe her, because dragons are so common in Iowa.

So, I took these two image-ideas and slapped them together.

Oh, I forgot to mention, the story happens in 1976, the Bi-Centennial year, and the story climax happens during the 4th of July celebration.

I wasn’t really happy with how this first one looked, so I tried a second shot at putting them together in a slightly different manner.

Of course, the novel is not yet done. It is maybe only half done. So, for that reason, the cover does not have to be done also. And it does bother me a little that the title is The Boy… Forever, and yet, I have a picture of a girl and a dragon on the cover. Maybe Icarus needs to be in the picture too. Icarus Jones is the boy from the title. So, I need to work on that, and maybe redo the whole cover. We shall see. And that will make a possible future blog post too.

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Filed under artwork, humor, novel plans, novel writing, Paffooney