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.
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.
So, there is a look at the current state of my novel covers. Not professional, but original.
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.
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.”
Canto 79 – Riding theMagic 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!”
“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.
As a novelist in poor health, every time I start a new story, already worked out in my head or not, it becomes a race to finish. My time is limited because I simply cannot last for very much longer. My body is failing, and each step on the path of life hurts and is hard to take. Like Icarus above, I am flying dangerously high and possibly too near the Sun. The novel The Boy… Forever, in which Icarus Jones is the key character, is swiftly coming to a close. The villain has already died the first time, and the hero is approaching the orb of the Sun. I am hoping to have it published within a month of right now, and hopefully long enough before my own rendezvous with the Son comes to pass.
This will be book number fourteen that I have published. It is already four novels more than I had realistically believed I could publish before six incurable diseases and the prospect of cancer, heart attack, and stroke that I have lived with since 2000 all does me in.
Ironically, this book that I am racing to finish before I die is about characters who are immortal, or make themselves immortal by consuming the essence of other immortals. And, of course, it is also another Pirate novel, feature the Norwall, Iowa 4H softball team and liars’ club that has a part in most of my other novels whether they are set in the 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s.
The novel is currently 49,685 words in 160 formatted pages. It will be finished by about 52,000 words. I hope to have it complete by the middle of next week.
Further I figure to start another novel project immediately afterwards. Who knows how many more I can achieve before the end shall come.
Canto 71 – In the Belly of the Dragon (the White Thread)
Inside the massive ancient device shaped like a dragon, the students of Ged Aero discovered a long corridor and a number of rooms that looked like the inside of a spaceship, yet not like any spaceship any of them had ever entered.
“It’s something like a Nebulon Space Whale,” said Gyro. “The walls and floors and ceilings are all made of pliable materials that bend and warp as the artificial creature moves, yet I can sense that it is entirely unliving in the same way as something made of stone or rigid metal.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty weird in here,” said little Mai Ling.
“Junior? Are you still in telepathic contact with its artificial mind?” Ged asked.
“Yes, Sensei. But it is complex. It thinks in algorithms faster than I can learn from it.”
“We have to master this wonderful thing,” said Phoenix. “It is the most elegant and brilliant travel machine I have ever seen.”
“Where is the control center… the bridge for the ship?” asked Shu Kwai.
“Directly above us,” answered Junior, straining to keep up with the flood of input from his unique form of telepathy.
“Can you find the way in?” asked Sara.
“I think I can open it.”
Red, blue, and yellow lights flashed in pulsating patterns along the red-brown walls. Then a hidden hatchway opened above their heads. A ladder that was made of some sort of high-tech bone or stone dropped to the floor.
“Permission to lead the way?” asked Billy. “I can use my clairvoyance to see what’s ahead.”
“Yes, Billy-san, lead the way,” said Ged with a satisfied smile.
Billy Iowa climbed like squirrel monkey, zipping up through the hole in the ceiling in almost no time. Then he signaled the others to follow. One by one they all scaled the ladder and entered the large control room of the dragon ship.
It was a room shaped like the top of the dragon’s head in the carved statue of the dragon gate that existed outside and all around the ancient device.
“This will be such a shame to shatter the walls and city gate in order to use this spaceship,” Ged muttered, intending to talk to himself mainly.
“As far as I can tell, we don’t have to destroy the gate or walls to free the dragon from them. It is showing me a schematic that suggests the whole thing teleports from here out into space. The structure of the city walls and gate were built to remain standing when the dragon leaves. It can also return and hide in the same place.” Junior had answered in an almost mechanical way.
“Junior? Do you need to rest your telepathy a bit?” suggested Sara.
“Um, well… let me do two more things first.”
The panels where the dragon’s eyes were located on the outside of the gate suddenly irised open, though nothing could be seen through them. The six holes in the ceiling that then opened up each lowered a helmet attached to a long, glowing filament that tethered it to the computerized brain above.
“What are these for?” asked Hassan.
Junior fell to his knees, practically exhausted to the point of unconsciousness.
“Junior!” Sara took hold of him and cradled him on her lap on the control-room floor.
“We… we are going to have to experiment. So much of this is too complicated for me to understand without a great deal of study.” Junior closed his eyes, and was immediately asleep.
“So, when do we move our stuff from the Palace into this thing?” asked Alec.
“There is no hurry. We need to give Junior time to learn this thing’s complicated operations. And we need to explore the whole of the ship. We cannot simply jump into a thing like this and take off. We don’t even know yet where we must go. Somebody is going to have to study those damned books of prophecy too.” Ged surveyed the faces of his students. Freddy, Rocket, Phoenix, and Billy had started grinning at each other when Ged had mentioned the word, “explore”. Gyro was lost in thought examining a helmet. Hassan was looking about with a bored expression. Jackie, Mai Ling, Taffy, and Sara were all gathered around Junior and tending to him or lending concern. Only Alec was glaring back at Ged.