Category Archives: Paffooney

Evaluating the Moment

After running a second free-book promotion on Snow Babies, things look as bleak as ever for my publishing goals. It started well. Seven books ordered on the first day tied the best I had ever done on a give-away. But the second day saw a new record set with only one additional order. The three days after that… nothing. I can’t even give my books away for free. If you are reading this today and want to help, click on the link above. You understand e-books. You would be helping me out even if you never read it.

But, I have no illusions. My book is good enough to make a splash if people read it, but nobody will for a variety of reasons. People who knew me growing up in Iowa would be happy to read and support me if the message could get through. But my contact with them is limited by Facebook and its algorithms. Facebook will connect any political post to those on my friends-list who will argue with me and call me a socialist libtard cuck, but even family members don’t get notified of any post that is even remotely like an ad for one of my books. I try to post that kind of thing on friends’ pages, or direct message them, and Facebook steps in to call me a spammer. It is entirely a matter of me trying to advertise without paying any ad money to the greedy bahstidds of Facebook’s data-collection empire. (And yes, I know I misspelled the word about illegitimate birthings.)

My book ads fell on mostly deaf ears (or, rather, blind eyes) on Twitter as well. The #WritingCommunity is supportive, but they are all writers like me, dedicated to getting their own books read and loved. I know that many of them see a free-book ad like mine and think, “Ah, one more hack novelist’s hack novel that takes forever to read, and if I read it, they will never read mine in return.” I know they generally think this because I have slogged through some poorly written Indie novels and left a positive review, and got not even a thank you in return. Of course, nobody there actually knows anybody else. And, like me, they can’t afford to spend money on other people’s books. Although, like me also, they do now and again find books they can’t resist and spend money they can’t afford on those. Those authors won’t read my books either though. (Except for Ted. Ted Bun reads and loves my books as often as I read and love his.)

I will continue to slog through. I will continue to write and read what others wrote. I will continue to labor at this marketing-waste-of-time-formality thing. And I will continue to be depressed about the results. Besides, how else am I to proceed? Great writers are supposed to die alone in poverty and addiction, with no friends and no money. How can I pass up a reward like that?

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To Laugh… or Cry

I have claimed that I am a humorist and all my novels are comic novels, to some degree at least. But it is often pointed out to me that I write about things that make people cry. And I freely admit that I most certainly do.

But if you think about it carefully, analytically, or even emotionally, you have to admit, even a book like Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has some weep-worthy moments in it. I have read the book more than once myself, and I never get past the scene where Huck looks down at the body of his young friend Buck Grangerford, killed in the Shepherdson/Grangerford feud about something nobody living even remembers, without shedding gushers and gushers of heart-busting tears.

And in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, as much as I laugh and guffaw at the antics of quiet Mr. Dick and his kite, or the much deserved downfall of villainous Uriah Heep, it is the drowning of Little Emily on the boat with David’s school friend and idol Steerforth that leaves me surrounded by puddles… nay, lakes… that I have wept.

And I think that I may justify the sad parts in so many of my weary works with the fact that I am merely providing the necessary counterpoints to my merry-making and mirth.

Francois is a character from Sing Sad Songs.

There has to be that necessary balance, that well-rounded-ness, to a story that makes it feel truly complete. And, of course, we know that even in a horror novel by Stephen King, you find humor used as a balance point to lighten the moments just before the monster delivers its liver-shaking, earth-tilting scare.

My novel, Snow Babies, is still free just for clicking on it at Amazon books https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B077PMQ4YF/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i7

Snow Babies, among my published books, is a good example. It is a story that celebrates how a small Iowa town comes together to survive a deadly December blizzard. And while it tells funny stories of kooky characters battling the elements, and both surviving the blizzard and ’84 Reagan/Mondale political debates, as well as putting up Christmas trees, it is still also about death and loss of loved ones, finding and losing love, and just what sort of self-sacrifice or other accidental happening truly makes someone a hero. Or a bus driver… this book has more than one bus driver in it.

So, I think, in the end, that I have made a cogent case for the notion that in order to be a humorist, you have to manipulate many emotions, not just mirth, but sadness also. As well as fear, bitter irony, and pain. And that may well also be the underlying reason that comedy is harder to write than tragedy.

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Filed under artwork, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, surrealism, writing, writing humor

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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Filed under artwork, horror writing, humor, illustrations, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, work in progress

AeroQuest 3… Canto 71

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.

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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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An Idiot's Guide to Art Day

No, I am not calling you an idiot, dear reader. I am the one providing the guidance material.

This idiot is not actually me… This is Doofy Fuddbugg. He is not overburdened with book-learning, but he can fix practically anything around the house or in the car. He can also tell a story pretty well that makes you laugh.

So, if I were to try to explain art day in an Idiot’s Guide aimed at explaining the essence of it to Doofy Fuddbugg, one idiot trying to educate another, I would explain that I am lazy on Saturdays. All I want to do is post pictures and not have to write a lot of heavily-thought-out words and ideas in the usual droning idiot’s essay of 500 words or more. So, I go through my WordPress picture file and find interesting pictures to post without having to draw or paint anything new.

I confess that I do not merely select pictures at random. I try to get pictures I haven’t used in a good while. This double portrait of Gretel Graymalkin, and what she looks like naked in the moonlight, hasn’t been used in a post since last year. And there is a bit of rhyme and reason to it too. Gretel is an idiot.

And this is a picture that any idiot can tell is a real picture of fairies in the park discussing the building of a new fairy circle after it finally started raining heavily again in Texas after almost a decade of drought. Of course, it has to be an idiot to tell that. Most people would recognize this as a pen-and-colored-pencil drawing photo-shopped over a photograph. Even the mushrooms are not real. I have it on good authority from fairy-kind that they are actually pixies in disguise.

And then there is this rare bird I drew a couple of years back. He is a surrealistic peacock who thought of auditioning for NBC before he learned they don’t still do those “Now in Living Color…” ads anymore. He’s surrealistic in that he could not possibly be real, unless he were really just a bowling pin and lady’s fan put together by a deranged painter with a mental disorder that makes him do decoratively dippy drawings on things you really shouldn’t be drawing upon in the middle of a bowling tournament.

And who can forget this idiot, an avatar of me as a purple Mickey in the style of the late great Don Martin of Mad Magazine fame? He’s the whole reason you get foolish lazy-Saturday posts like this at all, There has got to be a cure for that somewhere in the multiverse.

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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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