Category Archives: Paffooney

The Writing Imperative

I am a writer because I write.

I write because I have to.

I have to because somebody has to control the words.

People are made of words.  Their identity, their inner self, their reason for existence… all made of words.  The very thoughts in their heads are… words.

If I want to control the words I am made of, then I must be the writer who writes his own story.

I don’t want anyone else to write the words that essentially become me.  Do you?

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Of course, authors create characters.  Even autobiographers create characters.  Carl Sandburg could no more make his words into Lincoln than a bird can make its tweets into a cat.   Sandburg can, however, help us to understand Lincoln as Carl Sandburg understands the words that are Lincoln.

Lincoln probably did not have the words for “bikini girls” in his head when he wrote those words in the second quote.  But somebody thought that the picture would help us understand the words.  By all accounts, Lincoln was not a particularly happy man leading a particularly happy life.  But he showed us the meaning of his words when he stood firm against the strong winds of harsh words and bad ideas in a terrible time.  And he was as happy about it as he made up his mind to be.

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I, too, have not lived a particularly happy life.  But I was always the “teacher with a sense of humor” in the classroom, and students loved me for it.  Funny people are often not happy people.  But they make themselves out of funny words because laughter heals pain, and jokes are effective medicine.  And so I choose to write comedy novels.  Novels that are funny even though they are about hard things like freezing to death, losing loved ones, being humiliated, being molested, and fear of death.  Magical purple words can bring light to any darkness.  I am the words I choose to write in my own story.  The words not only reveal me, they make me who I am.  And it is up to me to write those words.  Other people might wish to do it for me.  But they really can’t.  The words are for me alone to write.

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And so it is imperative that I write my words in the form of my novels, my essays, and this goofy blog post.  I am writing myself to life, even if no one ever reads my writing.

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, wordplay, writing, writing humor

Cover Design

I am the first to admit, I don’t know diddly-sqwoot about effective cover design.  But now, with self-publishing as the only option left to me, I am learning things about publishing that I only ever scratched the surface of in my few college forays into publication design and layouts.  I had some experience publishing junior high yearbooks, (and losing money on something that most teachers lose money on).  And I have gotten a lot of serious criticism from sources that matter to me, like my daughter, the Princess.

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With the novel I have been working on with Kindle Publishing on Amazon in view, I came up with this.  I like it.  But it will not cut the mustard with the Princess.  (She uses a knife on mustard, but lately has given up on eating mustard all together).  So I had to work the idea out further.

I tried this;

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The design is a little better.  But Rowan has become so ratty and run down that I hesitate to use the background which is not much like the Rowan of 1974 when the novel was set.  So I decided to focus on character instead.

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Still needs work, right?  You can no longer see the post office sign in the background.  Sherry is still a small head growing out of Superchicken’s neck.  And Milt Morgan is a good addition, but the purple paisley shirt looks terrible.  And besides, this will not fit the whole cover of the Kindle paperback.

It will end up looking something like this;

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Or not.  Because I am still learning how to do it right, and I still have many more mistakes to make.  But as I finish editing and formatting, the time will come soon to see the proof in the pudding.  (And you better hope I don’t put uncut mustard in the pudding.  That would taste terrible.)

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Filed under art editing, artwork, humor, novel, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, publishing

Aeroquest… Canto 21

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Canto 21 – Blue Boy

The entire group of adventurers went aboard the Leaping Shadowcat to work out their problems. The Hammer, an ancient device of incredible power, was now actually in their possession. Junior Aero had detected it hidden within the Synthezoid’s body cavity.

Junior Aero“How was this boy able to read the robot’s mind?” Ged asked Tkriashav.

The almond-eyed Psion Master looked at Ged through narrowed eyes. “He has a Psionic power I’ve never encountered before. His mind reads as a telepath, but he can read artificial minds. He can manipulate computers and robots in the same way Tara and I can bend human minds.”

“Will you teach him to use this power?” Ham asked.
“No,” said Tkriashav, closing his eyes. “I believe he is meant to be Ged’s first student. I can’t touch his mind properly. Neither can Tara. He might prove dangerous to us.”

“But…” began Ged, “I don’t know how to teach! …Not Psion power!”

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“You know more than you realize,” said Tkriashav. “You are a master of the inner eye. You do it so well. It is an instinct with you. From what we saw today, the child is nearly there himself. All he really needs from you is moral guidance, positive support, and, well… love.
Ged looked at the blue-skinned boy. He hadn’t really paid much attention to him before. He looked like a blue version of Ham when he was young. He was small and thin. He hardly ever smiled, but he had dimples when he did smile. He was nine years old, but looked more the size of a six-year-old. It was his Nebulonin curse to be forever small and child-like. Ged nodded. He could learn to love this boy.

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“Lend me a hand, Ged,” said Ham as he hoisted the inert body of the Synthezoid onto the game-skinning table. The Madonna had gone to the galley to cook. Tara and Sinbadh had gone to help. That left Bam-Bam, Ged, Tkriashav, and Ham to do the surgery on the Synthezoid.
Ged helped Ham stretch the body out on the table. They pierced the wrists and ankles with skinning hooks. The flesh oozed green juice as if it were blood, but there the similarity to human anatomy ended. There were layers of circuit-weave mesh under the skin and titanium bones at the bottom of it. On the outside, Sorcerer 4 was made like a human. He even had the naughty bits. But under the skin, he was all robot with fiber optic wires and blinking lights everywhere. Ham easily peeled away synthetic flesh to reveal the metal man underneath.
In the hollow of the Synthezoid’s chest cavity, they uncovered the device itself. Ged almost laughed at Junior’s big-eyed facial expression when the boy first saw the Hammer of God. Everyone had been pretty much expecting a Thor’s Hammer type of thing. What they got was an undecorated tube with two right-angled handles on one end. You would never know it was an ancient artifact without the eerie purple glow coming out the open end. It looked like an ordinary plumber’s tool.
“There are no buttons to use the dang thing!” swore Ham, disappointed.
“No,” said Junior in a small voice, “but the thing is telepathic.”
“He’s right,” confirmed Tkriashav. “I can sense that to use the device, you must be a telepath.”
“Oh, great!” moaned Ham.
“It’s workable,” said Ged. “We have to use these things carefully. We will ask Frieda about it, and we have telepaths that might be willing to help us.”
“You do,” confirmed Tkriashav. “I know I haven’t earned your trust yet, but from here on out, our destinies are all intertwined.”
“Even mine?” asked the little blue boy.
“Especially yours,” said Tkriashav.
Ged couldn’t help but be a little spooked by the Psion Master. He didn’t like knowing so many riddles about the future, and he was not comfortable around someone who did.

Tkriashav picked up the Hammer. “It makes things according to mental directions. It uses some kind of organizing power that can rearrange molecules and energy flows. It is light years beyond any technology on Don’t Go Here.”

“What will we use it for?” asked Bam-Bam.
“This planet,” said Ham. “We can bring space-travel technology here with the thingy. We’ll build downports and dry-docks and spacecraft. We can make this world high tech overnight.”
“Don’t be surprised if they insist on staying cave men,” warned Tkriashav.
“Yeah,” said Bam-Bam. “Most of us grew up in Fredsuits and riding dino-back.”

“If we’re going to make this world home, we need to dress it up a little bit,” sighed Ged.

“Yes,” said Tkriashav. “But this world may not turn out to be home in the long run.”

“Why would that be?” asked Ham.

“I see other places on both of your horizons.”

Ged shivered. “Don’t tell me that. I don’t want to know.”

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

Adjusting the Light

I am tired of reproducing my artworks in a way that gives you nothing but glops of brownish gray. My scanner isn’t large enough to get most of my pictures converted into a crisp digital image. Too many shadows and streaks sneak through the cracks. So I have been experimenting with lighting and camera quality.
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This is my 300 watt bulb that I use for bounce lighting off the white bedroom ceiling. It effectively puts a low-glare patina of white light on an artwork that makes for a crisper photo.
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Here’s an old D&D picture of the Pyromancer and his cat-man friend taking an early morning magic carpet ride. It has a variety of primary colors and colored-pencil surfaces that easily reflect glare, so the softer bright lighting makes a more pleasant outcome.
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The real test comes from this graphite pencil drawing. Everything in this picture of Poppa Mouse coming home from work at the mouse post office is merely a shade of gray, no pure blacks or pure whites.
But as with anything in the world of making art, it is an on-going process, a work in progress. So I will continue to work at it.

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Filed under art editing, artwork, colored pencil, drawing, insight, Paffooney

A Concert Performed For Nobody

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Back in my college days in the late 70’s I came back to the dorm one night late due to research until the library closed. In the entry hall to the dorms there was a piano. I had never seen anybody playing it. But as I got there, there was a student playing it. It was my nerd friend Kip, an engineering major. It was quiet, unassuming Kip. Kip who was so quiet, in fact, that I can’t even remember his last name, or what his voice sounded like. But he was playing the piano in an empty room with nobody listening. He was playing Scott Joplin’s composition “The Entertainer”. He had his back to me, totally lost in the music. He didn’t know I was there. And I… I was transfixed. I realized he was just practicing. But he knew the music right out his head, no sheet music on the piano in front of him. And he played like the ultimate virtuoso. And the music was so good it made my soul tingle.

It occurs to me that that single moment is, for me, a metaphor for my life. It is a concert played for nobody. I am competing only with myself. I am trying to please only myself. And if anybody is listening… I mean really listening… not just looking at the pictures and moving on, I don’t know it. And that is probably how it should be. This poor player is strutting and fretting his hour upon the stage. And when the concert ends… when the concert ends…? Applause is not likely. And applause is not needed. The music exists for its own sake. And the echoes of it are the fuel that powers the universe.

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Filed under autobiography, commentary, humor, insight, inspiration, metaphor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Is Mickey Icky?


This post is about writer doubt. And Stephen King. Do those two things go together? If they don’t then Mickey is an awful writer and does not know how to do what he does. It would mean Mickey is icky.
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I used to think Stephen King was a totally over-rated writer. Back in the early eighties I read Carrie, King’s first novel, and got halfway through Firestarter, and had to give up. Partly because the book was overdue at the library, and also because I found the books mechanical and somewhat joyless in the writing. I thought he suffered greatly in comparison to writers I was in love with at the time like Ray Bradbury and Thomas Mann. I began to tell others that King was somewhat icky.
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But King was obviously also somewhat successful. He began to get his books made into movies and people who don’t read discovered the evil genius of a man who tells stories to scare them and laces them with a bit of real humanity, real human feeling, and love.
I saw it first in Stand by Me. That movie, starring young Wil Wheaton as the Steven King autobiographical character, really touched my heart and really made for me a deep psyche-to-psyche connection to somebody who wasn’t just a filmmaker, but somebody who was, at heart, a real human being, a real story-teller.

Now, the psyche I was connecting to may very well have been Rob Reiner, a gifted story-teller and film-maker. But it wasn’t the only King movie that reached me. The television mini-series made from It touched a lot more than just the fear centers of my brain as well. And people whose opinions I respect began telling me that the books The Dark Tower Trilogy and Misery were also amazing pieces of literature.
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So I picked up a copy of Hearts in Atlantis at Half-Price Books and began reading a Stephen King novel for the first time since the 80’s. MY HOLY GOD! King is not a little bit icky. He is so NOT ICKY that it makes Mickey sicky to have ever thought King was even a little bit icky! Here is a writer who loves to write. He whirls through pages with the writer’s equivalent of ballet moves, pirouettes of prose, grand jetés of character building, and thematic arabesque penchées on every side of the stage. I love what I have discovered in a writer I thought was somewhat icky. Growth and power, passion and precision, a real love of both the words and the story. He may not know what he is doing. But I know. And I love it.
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And so, while I have been editing the first novel I ever wrote, Superchicken, to make it ready for self-publishing, I have begun to ask myself the self-critical question, “Is Mickey really icky when he writes?” My first novel is full of winces and blunders and head-banging wonders that make me want to throw the whole thing out. But I can’t throw it out. It is the baby in the first bathwater that I ever drew from the tap. The answer to the questions of Micky ickiness have yet to be determined, and not by me. I guess I have to leave it up to you.

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Filed under artists I admire, book reports, goofy thoughts, horror writing, humor, insight, irony, Mickey, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Doodledragon

I joined an art challenge Facebook group that regularly pits doodlers against each other with four minutes to doodle in and a place to post the results. And we do it for absolutely no prizes or titles or even ranking, just for the love of doodling. So here is a recent 4-minute doodle by Mickey posted on that selfsame super-silly group;
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If you are having trouble believing that I dragon-doodled this in only 4 minutes, please notice that that the left side of the dragon’s face is clearly the area I was rushing to complete as the time was running out. I doodled this in black ink with a ballpoint pen. I timed it. And I have drawn numerous dragons before. So you could rationalize that I really worked for hours upon hours to be able to do this four minute doodle.

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Filed under doodle, drawing, Dungeons and Dragons, humor, Paffooney