Category Archives: Paffooney

AeroQuest 4… Update

So, I have no idea if anybody is following my Tuesday novel-writing posts or not. But since I have reached the halfway point in novel #4 of the series, I thought I would take a slight break to explain and re-elucidate the whole ugly process before it comes to life and swallows me whole.

The original intent is to take my horrifically bad first-published novel and expand, improve, and reorganize it into a series of novels. Basically turning one badly written swamp full of plot holes and monstrously confusing characters into five equally terrifying pieces of pulp-fiction parody-satire-trash… er, I mean, treasure.

I have already turned 80 percent of the 327 pages of the original piece of garbage into three and a half 35,000 to 45,000 word novels. They have all been displayed here as the novel-writing proceeded, a Canto (what I call a chapter) at a time. Hopefully they show how I rewrote and modified each new Canto.

I have published AeroQuest 1 : Stars and Stones. It relates how the Aero Brothers find and reclaim the cave-man planet called Don’t Go Here, and the first conflict in the Foundation War of the New Star League is begun.

I have also promoted the first book in the series with a free give-away e-book, to a rather insignificant degree of non-success.

This book was the easiest to revamp. It started off the old novel with the most coherent plot lines and story structure of the entire old monstrosity of a manuscript. And publishing with Amazon gave me the option of including lots of illustrations which were already made and waiting to be scanned and inserted. So, this was mostly a cut-and-paste rather than rewrite process. Very little new material needed to be written.

The second part took a good deal more sorting and re-arranging as I had to gather scattered Cantos from the whole rest of the original manuscript and link them together more coherently than I had before.

This would become AeroQuest 2: Planet of the White Spider. This would chronicle mainly the story of Ged Aero finding and embracing his destiny as the teacher of psionics written about in obscure books of prophecy (Somehow all the same book written by Xan, Zhan, Shan, and Stan who may actually all be the same guy.)

Ged would be united with and begin to teach twelve Psion students with significant reality-altering mind powers… As well as the ninja skills that Ged’s own Psionic power gave him when, in velociraptor form, he ate a ninja and absorbed its skill.

That left me with the task of sorting out the messy middle of the original manuscript into as much of a novel-like form as it was possible to do.

AeroQuest 3 : Juggling Planets was about the journeys of Ham Aero as he and the crew of his spaceship, The Leaping Shadowcat, went from planet to planet convincing people, or even conquering them, using charm, tactical skill, but mostly sheer dumb luck into joining the rebellion against the old Imperium and trying to form the New Star League.

All three of these books are already published and promoted at least once. Interest has been building. Some among the possessors of the free copy of the second book found it interesting enough to go back and buy copies of book one. Each new promotion found new readers. Nobody, however, has reviewed any of these books yet. But… we can’t have everything we want in life, right?

So, next Tuesday the story of book four will continue with newly written material that I have not written yet. The fourth book, AeroQuest 4 : The Amazing Aero Brothers, is written in two parts. Ham Aero’s part is about continuing the fight against the Imperium and evil Grand Admiral Brona Tang (the Darth Vader parody who leads the bad guys) . Ged Aero’s part will continue to be about training his students to meet a terrible destiny in the prophesied future.

And, of course, the fifth book will bring a conclusion to the series as a whole. But I haven’t really had time to think about that very much yet.

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Filed under aliens, humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, satire, science fiction

Divining Rods, Ouija Boards, and Making Up My Own Danged Mind

How do you foretell the future? Simply put, you don’t. But if you approach each new day, each new week, or each new set of circumstances without a plan and a rough idea of the near future, you are even more of a hopeless fool than Mickey is.

While it is true that a crystal-ball connection to the future would be really handy for figuring out what to do next with our little lives, it is also provably true that crystal balls, Ouija boards, and divining rods don’t actually work. Statistically even the best users of these fortune-telling devices are no better at foretelling the future than are well-informed guessers.

Ghosts are not provably real. You cannot actually talk to them. Not even in a graveyard at midnight with a dead cat to throw at the devil.

Oh, and that reminds me, the devil is not provably real either.

But I admit to talking to the dead.

My Grandma Beyer was one of the wisest people I knew in my childhood. She advised my Dad who was her son. She was a guide for the Beyer side of the family. And I talk to her a lot when I have a tough decision to make.

In 2017 I irrationally made a commitment to write for a nudist website. The article assigned was to go to a nudist park or resort and write about my first-time experience there. Of course, getting my wife to go along with her RV camper was out of the question. She was a Jehovah’s Witness in good standing then, and was sure that nakedness in a group was a terrible sin. But I had known nudists back in the 1980s when a previous girlfriend’s sister was living in a clothing-optional apartment complex in Austin, Texas. We visited there a number of weekends. I never actually stayed there or got nude while visiting. I saw naked people there, male, female, and children. And after my eyes popped out on the first visit, I picked them up, put them back in, and learned a lot about nudists while at the same time turning down all invitations… which I could do because my parents were living nearby, and I could stay with them and keep all my clothes on. But the nudist website assignment weighed heavily on me. Grandma Beyer had been the one that threatened to spank me before I was supposed to take a bath at her house because I wanted to run around the house naked rather than get in the tub with my sister. I was five at the time, not in high school… honest. So, she was the one I consulted when it came time to decide if I would actually go to a nudist park and be naked in front of other people just because I had made a commitment to a writing assignment.

Of course, she had been among the no-longer-living for fifteen years when I asked her about it.

The thing is, however, that I knew my grandmother well enough to know what she would say as I basically discussed it with her memory rather than her ghost. I even saw what facial expressions she used as she explained that it was more important to keep my word than it was to be a little bit embarrassed. And besides, it was not like I was going to an orgy or anything. Nudists are merely ordinary people who are dedicated to the belief that getting your vitamin D directly from the sun without any clothes between you and nature was good for you.

So, I made the visit, got naked, and wrote the article, as well as articles on this blog that were used on other nudist websites as well. It is how I came to be a member of the nudist writing community on Twitter. And that has helped me promote my books whether there were nudists in them or not.

Even with consulting a Ouija Board you are not really talking to ghosts. You get an answer from somebody with their fingers on the piece of plastic that picks the letters and is accessing their unconscious mind, or even their conscious mind if they are a bit of a dershenbugle (a word which doesn’t mean anything at all, just like the answer they picked.)

I often use a coin-flip to make decisions, adding an element of total chance to the decision I am making. (I admit, that’s how the decision to accept the writing assignment from the nudist blog was made.) If either answer to the question being asked is acceptable, but one causes a bit of anxiety, I flip a coin. Not just one coin. I throw three. Yes is three heads. No is three tails. Ten straight no decisions is indication not to decide at that time. In truth, this only works for me because it forces me to take an arbitrary amount of time to think about the decision. And often, I toss three heads when I have already decided to say no. And then I go with no.

So, divining the future is silly superstition, and I don’t do superstition. But that is not to say I don’t try to divine the obstacles ahead and prepare for them. And what looks like Mickey being an idiot about consulting coins or other signs, is really only Mickey being only slightly an idiot as he makes up his own danged mind.

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

What Dreams May Come?

Lately I have been having problems with passing out during low blood-sugar moments in the middle morning, early afternoon, and shortly after supper, usually when I have already had a snack and my sugars haven’t balanced yet. When I pass out, perchance… I dream. Vivid dreams. So, for art day, I will post images I have made based on dreams I have had.

This one has shadows on everything. I exhausted three pens drawing shadows. Yet, there are no shadows on the child-figures. In the dream, they were glowing white ghosts.

Snowboy is one of the main villains in The Bicycle-wheel Genius. But the boy-robot made entirely of snow, ice, and circuitry first appeared in a 1978 dream that happened while I had a fever from the flu.

This dream is a mental-disturber caused again by fever. Here the two gigantic toys play with the little girl. I was not actually in this dream. I was an observer floating above. I think the bear was inspired by a Care-Bear.

This picture has all the elements of the actual dream, the candle, the line of glowing pixies, the sleeping princess, and Prince Charming. But nothing here looks like it did in the dream. The prince and the princess were both young teens that I did not know in real life. The fairies were larger and a lot more obviously nude.

I actually passed out while writing this post. It happened right here, before I could post this dream of living colors. All the colors were in motion in the dream, something I couldn’t really represent here.

I knew when I dreamed this dream that the Bambi-kin in this dream were members of my family, but at the time I dreamt it I had not met my wife yet, let alone had three kids of my own. Yet I knew that it was not my family at the time of the dream because one of my sisters was not there.

This is from a dream I had in college at Iowa City. I made an entire cartoon out of it called Babysitters Hate My House, It is about a babysitter having a horrible time with my two sons as she loses control when they show her the man in the basement that, “Daddy built out of a kit.”

And, finally, this dream featured not only the spirit stag and the medicine man, but the bolt of lightning in the background. The Dakotah people say having a dream with lightning in it makes you a “lightning dreamer”, a magic man, or a shaman. So, I guess that qualifies me to be one.

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Filed under artwork, dreaming, dreams, humor, Paffooney

To Have the Power…

I have been struggling with my goals for this week. I wanted to publish my novel, The Wizard in His Keep. I also wanted to go get my vote in at an early-voting polling place. But I had to get my phone repaired because the battery was failing. I needed a reliable phone if I had to wait in a long voting line, which it seems we are actually having. My health has been poor. I didn’t want to pass out in line and cause an emergency without a working phone. I had to get battery power to pull this off.

Last weekend my computer crashed and it turns out my Google account may have been hacked… again. I had to recover the account and change a ton of passwords. I have had to check accounts repeatedly without using my computer. But, even though it delayed my final edit and publication by a couple of days, I got the manuscript and cover submitted last night. The e-book is already live on Amazon. The paperback will also be available soon.

I managed to order and receive a new phone battery online before the computer crash. But I discovered that my arthritic fingers couldn’t handle the battery installation.

So…

I was able to get the phone working by taking it to the nearest AT&T Store. The guy behind the counter put the battery in my phone for free.

And then today, as I was planning to go vote, I passed out about five times after breakfast. I took what medication I have that is relevant. Early voting is every weekday until the 30th of October. I will have to wait for a better day when I have more physical power to do it.

So, I have overcome all of my goals except for voting. I did it by marshaling power. Battery power by buying a battery. Finger power by relying on the empathy in an AT&T employee for an arthritic old man whose fingers fumble. And I will overcome the voting issue with healing power and will power.

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Filed under artwork, health, humor, novel plans, Paffooney, publishing

AeroQuest 4… Nocturne 10

Nocturne 10 – A Little Routine Engineering

Dana Cole held Trav Dalgoda’s severed head in her hands.  The head stared back with lifeless eyes.  The crown on the head was pulsating with sickly green lights.

“How could you do this?” she said to the head.

“The evil power of the Tesserah,” the head answered.

“You can still talk.  Are you alive or something?”

“Trav Dalgoda’s life spark is still in here,” said the head, “preserved by the power of the crown.”

Dana’s heart turned over in her chest.  “You mean he could be brought back?”

“Yes.  We possess the power.”

The feelings that poured through her ample bosom were a terrible, painful mix.  She hated the stupidity of the man and all the death and suffering he had caused on Coventry.  She felt like the fool deserved what he had gotten out of the adventure.  Still, she loved him.  There was something oddly attractive about the goofy-sweet fool with the charm of a naughty little boy.

“How can I do this awful thing?” she asked the head.

“As long as we remain attached to the head,” said the crown, “we can speak to you and direct you, as well as keep the life spark alive.  We will help you to build an artificial body to allow the man to return to full mobility and control over his life functions.”

“He’ll be a Mechanoid?”

“Not in the sense of the crude beings your own people make of dead bodies.  He will actually be alive.  Everything but his head will be artificial, but we can make him better than he was.”

Dana couldn’t help but imagine Trav naked with the body of a Greek god.  He could be enhanced in that special area…  Well, yes.  She would do this for her Goofy man.

“How do I go about it?  Especially the penis…”

The crown gave her hours of instruction.  She took extensive notes, filling three note-computers.  She diagrammed the whole thing out holographically.  She then located the best materials available on the ruined warship.  Assembly took her a week while the rest of the surviving crew worked to restore the ship to flying trim without the specific parts she needed for her project.

When the task was done, Trav stood before her, looking at her with sensory enhancements in his goofy brown eyes.  She had replaced his Donald Duck hat with a more manly-looking cowboy hat.  He was buff and handsome in ways he hadn’t been before.

Dana Cole leaned over and kissed her resurrected fool.  “I love you, Trav.  Welcome back.”

“Thanks, old Dana Jester,” he said.  “Now how about we make me two more arms?  One will have a built-in machine gun, and the other a flame thrower.” Dana smiled.  She definitely had her Goofy back.

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Filed under aliens, humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, satire, science fiction

Time and Destiny

He sat down to write something for the day. He rolled a fresh sheet of typing paper into the typewriter. Then he sat back to look at it. It was a totally horrifying stretch of cold, blank nothingness. There was nothing there. It left him feeling completely and hopelessly alone.

How do you connect with that person who is going to pick up and read the final copy of this thing once it is finished? His brain hurt thinking about it.

He knew that he needed to get started. And he wanted to start with something colorful.

So, he typed a word; RED.

“Well, that’s a start, at least…” he said, talking foolishly to the inanimate typewriter. “But what do I really mean by saying RED?”

Well, of course, red means emotional things, anger, love, shed blood, tomato sauce on Chicago-style pizza…

…But how do you make an actual idea out of that? It needs to be stretched some and pulled a lot. Bent out of shape, maybe even smashed by a hammer.

The typewriter became concerned and alarmed at the mention of the hammer.

But the writer was only thinking about the hammer. And the typewriter didn’t read minds. Heck, it wasn’t even electric yet. It was a typewriter that the writer’s grandmother bought in the 1940s. And writer loved it because it reminded him of her. And it reminded him of her letting him type his very first story on it when he was six years old. He wrote a story about a skeleton chasing a dog. And when the skeleton caught up to the dog, the dog ate him. Because he was bones. It was a short story. Very short. Less than a page. Because grandma only had one page of typing paper left on her desk.

And the story wasn’t red. So, why was he even thinking about it now?

Well, it was read. By his grandmother. And she laughed.

And he hadn’t thought about it until right now. But it was the moment he knew he wanted to be a writer some day.

And, so… Right now… This very moment… He realized… The real story is ready to begin,

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Filed under humor, irony, Paffooney, surrealism, writing, writing humor

Reading is Life

I have spent a lot of time reading and reviewing other people’s books. And at the same time I have invested some of my free-reading time in re-reading my own novel, The Baby Werewolf. The thing about all of it together is that it represents the actual life-force of the author. We all do it. Authors put their own experience, their own heart, and their own precious world into their work. We do it at different levels of confidence, competence, and creativity. But we all do it. And because we do it, someone needs to read it.

A story…

contains the characters that the author has known, the author has loved, and especially the people the author has lost over the course of his or her life.

At least, the competent authors do that. They put real people into their work. You can tell, even in really awful, poorly written novels, that flashes of what the authors really observed, really hated, or really fell in love with about the people in their lives are there to be read and absorbed.

Places

are also crucial to the story. Fiction or nonfiction, you will be taken to other homes, other cities, other worlds than the one you yourself inhabit.

What more can you truly say about your life than where you lived it, where you are from, and what background defines you as an author?

And plot…

that which happens in a story, is probably the most important thing of all. Because reading gives you a share in someone else’s life, in someone else’s experience. A chance to walk about in someone else’s shoes.

You can comfortably learn what others have learned before you. You can share in their ups and downs and all-arounds to experience the same chills and thrills and sadness as they have lived, and loved, and laughed about.

So, in this essay, I contend that human life on the planet Earth is a very good thing. And you multiply its goodness a thousand-fold if only you will only pick up and read someone else’s book.

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Filed under artwork, commentary, humor, novel writing, Paffooney, reading

Surreal Self-Portraits

What you see is basically me.

It is said by somebody who wasn’t basically me that any time an artist draws a picture of someone, or paints a picture of someone, or twizzles a twizzle-snoot of someone… they are basically making a picture of themselves.

So, this Paffooney that I paffooned of a purple mouse in a Don Martin-esque style, is supposed to be Mickey the cartoonist. And Mickey is supposedly, basically me.

And here I am as Muck Man, the superhero. It is me because the super power he has is his horrible, non-adorable, and unrelenting stench. The horrible smell of him renders villains and bad people unconscious or worse… sometimes straight to the hearse. And using his olfactory assaults on evil as a way to make something terrible into something with a -someness of awe, makes him indubitably, indelibly basically me.

“Long Ago It Might Have Been”

And here is a picture of a boy who might’ve been my son if only I had been given enough good sense to fall in love with that first blond young lady who first had thoughts about making babies with me. I didn’t. I’m stupid. And now she has only girls. That makes it a picture too of basically me.

And this little not-me was me all along, and as the boy who sees colors, it’s really not wrong. Synesthetic they call it in a name that’s not long, but is resoundingly deep like the words of a song.

And you might argue this one and say that it’s true… “This one is too pretty to be a picture of you.” But you would be wrong on this basis, you see…

The monster inside me is basically me

And here I am all magic and purple, and I just blew the rhyme again, so this isn’t another danged verse. I drew this picture of Milt Morgan from an old school picture of me.

I often say the character in the stories is based on the Other Mike, the other boy I grew up with who was named Mike in my little home town.

But he thought like me, he acted a lot like me. He even looked like me, at least a little bit. So, if I am portraying him, I am depicting basically me.

And this is the naked me, as a nudist back in childhood in Rowan, Iowa, which I never was… not like this… but still am. Because I am a writer. And writers always write about their naked selves, showing the whole world what saner and more prudish people keep secret. If they were truly smart and wanted to keep their secrets to themselves, artists would never draw or paint or write about or twizzle about themselves. In fact, they would make no art at all.

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Idiot Mickey’s Writing Guide

The best writing advice Idiot Mickey can give is… don’t take writing advice from idiots!

Honestly, I am in no position to give out sage advice on having a writing career. Of course I was a writing teacher for more than three decades. I know how to help you pass the Texas State Writing Test, as long as you are taking the version of the test from more than six years ago. I am an author who has won a couple of awards and published seventeen novels and a book of essays and has an eighteenth novel almost ready to publish. But I have not yet earned more than a hundred dollars total over my entire writing career. Still, I can discuss the principles I use to help me mindlessly pursue my fictional career as an author.

1. Always keep writing.

There is no substitute for practice. Whether you are telling a story full of lies, writing bad poetry, or making an essay filled with mindless talkie-talkie, the more you do it, the better you get at it.

2. Write what excites the brat in your brain.

I always write with only one reader in mind, twelve-year-old me. That was two years after I was sexually assaulted, a year before the first man walked on the moon, and four years before my first kiss and the slapping I got for not going about it right.

I know there are other people who will eventually read it. But the messages in my writing are always the ones I needed to hear after I knew how terrible the world could be, but before I knew everything I needed to know to deal with it.

3. I’ve made peace with the fact that I don’t write for money.

I am not a hobbyist. I do, in fact, need to write to live. But I write to satisfy spiritual needs and leave my words behind me like breadcrumbs for whatever Hansel and Gretel are following, hoping to learn from me and avoid the witches while eating at least the frosting from the gingerbread houses they encounter along the way.

I pay the mortgage and buy food with the pension I earned as a teacher, at least until the Republican overlords of Texas decide that retired teachers are basically parasites getting fat off the money that rightfully belongs to stock brokers and businessmen who earned it away from me by having super-rich daddies and mommies. I don’t write for money. I write for the frosting from witch-houses. Oh, and for book reviews.

4. I try all the tricks I learn from reading good books.

Dracula by Bram Stoker is an epistolary novel. That means the story is told through letters, notes, and journal entries. So, I wrote one. The Boy… Forever is a book about a kids’ gang battling an undead Chinese dragon in human form. I based the style of writing the novel on that idea stolen from Bram Stoker.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a picaresque novel. It follows the adventures of Huck Finn, the picaro, as he drifts from one adventure to the next. I wrote one of those too. In Superchicken, Edward-Andrew Campbell, more commonly known by his superhero nickname, is the picaro who goes from one episode where he has to prove his bravery to the next where he has to prove it all again.

I could give you more examples of that, but I need to move on to the next butterfly of being a writer and finish this goofy advice column.

5. And Finally… I constantly reread my own writing and fix it when I find any of those things that i know to be bad writing.

As a writing teacher I have seen all kinds of terrifically terrible mistakes. Run-on sentences. Sentence fragments. Weasel words. Paragraphs with no bones, and hence, no structure. Using archaic words like “hence.” Suddenly changing to tiny red letters for no apparent reason… As you can see, it takes a while to get rid of superfluous meta-foolferfollies.

Anyway that’s Idiot Mickey’s idiotic advice about a career as a writer. Don’t believe any of it… Unless you really want to.

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, writing teacher

The Devil is in the Details

2020

has been one of the worst years of my life. I say one of… because in 1966 I was sexually assaulted, and a tornado attacked Belmond, Iowa with both of my parents there for work… and me not knowing if they were alive or dead for about eighteen hours.

This has been another dragon of a year. The pandemic took away my substitute teaching job, removing permanently the last chance I had to do a thing I loved.

And, of course, my father has had a series of strokes that took away his memories of his wife and family and has left him dying in hospice care

He had another incident yesterday. They called my mother on her one day she was allowed to visit him (due to the pandemic) and told her not to come in. He hadn’t awakened that day, and they didn’t expect him to make it. So, she started calling all of us to let us know the end had come. Except it hadn’t. He did wake up after all. And Mom had to undo the final notices she had already done.

But he lost some ground. Before he could talk, even though his memory was mostly gone. He would talk about crazy things, like working in a Hardware store in Lubbock and needing to retire because his 89th birthday is this month and he was exhausted from working. (He did somehow remember his birthday accurately, though he has never worked in Lubbock, Texas.) Now he can only mumble incoherently. He is emaciated and loses ground daily.

And it is wearing on my mother who is 87 and has not been so alone since they married in 1956. I fear once he is gone, we will lose her too. I have spent long hours on the phone with mother and sisters for most of three months now. There has been tears and heartache over long-distance phone lines. The Trump Pandemic has kept us hundreds of miles apart.

I am reminded that my life has been pretty good compared to that of Jews and Gypsies and political dissenters in Germany and Poland in the 1930s and 40s. And the plague now is probably better than the Black Death in the Middle Ages. But, in the space of a year, we have reached a point where those comparisons are no longer merely exaggerations.

But bankruptcy, illness, and misfortune have not changed who I am. There is still more in life to be lived. At least until there isn’t. And on that day when I play that final game of chess with the Grim Reaper… Who knows? There’s still a chance I might win the game.

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Filed under battling depression, family, feeling sorry for myself, Paffooney