Category Archives: publishing

From a Fairy’s Point of View



  • 1. understood by few; mysterious or secret:”modern math and its arcane notation”

Yes, “Arcane” is one of those vocabulary words that a former teacher like me needs you to learn in order to appreciate the meaning of this goofy little post Arcane knowledge is something not known to most, and possibly not even understood by science in general. The things I will relate to you in this post were learned the hard way, by capturing, threatening, torturing, and finally bribing with cookies a grumpy, disagreeable, and very, very old Elf Sorcerer named Eli Tragedy. Difficult as he was to talk to until you break out the ginger snaps and macaroons, the old grizzle-grump did have a lot to say about Fairies.

The spell words are…

“I can tell the story from here if you don’t mind. Mickey, you are a gigantic Slow-One nimnul with the thinking capacity of a block of ice in July weather!”

“I would be happy to let you take over the writing, Master Eli. But explain things like what a Slow One is, or a nimnull.”

“I can do that, but I will have to cast certain spells that cause Slow Ones, especially big, dumb nimnul ones like you to have to laugh at what I say in order not to completely forget it. I just now said the secret words aloud to cast the spell, but whoever is reading this won’t be able to remember them being in this paragraph because you didn’t laugh and the spell is working. Don’t believe me? Look at the picture of stupid Bob and brilliant me and read them under our picture. They don’t appear there, do they? See! the spell is working.”

This picture is the perfect encyclopedia illustration of both what a nimnul is, and what a Slow One is.


– Insult, implying that the one being insulted has low intelligence, roughly akin to “dummy” or “idiot”. (from the Orkan Dictionary as composed by Mork from Ork)

Slow One

-Mild insult- What Fairies call anyone larger than three inches tall and not as quick of mind as the Fey Children (Also known as Fairies, Elves, Sylphs, Butterfly Children, Fauns, Satyrs, Brownies, Knockers, Gnomes, and Whisps- though some Whisps are also almost as dense as a Slow One.)

Dollinglammer, a typical Butterfly Child maiden wearing nothing but her wings and a hair braid.

“Now, if you don’t mind me saying so, the best way to get to the heart of the matter about how Fairies see the world is to call in an actual Fairy to testify. I, of course, am an Elf, and technically one of the Fey Children too. But I know more magic than any of your Slow Ones’ heads can possibly hold. So, I will leave the froofroo and unimportant stuff to this shamelessly and inexplicably naked fairy, Dollinglammer, to explain. (She is my student… far dumber than me… but way smarter than you.”)

“Master Eli, they might like to know how you came by knowledge of their scientific term, “nimnul,” which I cannot tell them, because that was long before I was born.”

“Okay, Dolly. I got that danged Orkan word by watching a TV show in the late 70’s and early 80’s called “Mork and Mindy.” It was a documentary about an alien from the planet Ork who was stranded on this planet that we Fairies call “Middle Earth” and foolishly fell in love with a Slow One female named Mindy. She covered up her entire body with sweaters and coveralls and blue jeans to the point that I have no idea if she was pretty or not, or if so many sweaters made her sweat too much. You can never tell such things by looking at a Slow One’s TV set. The blamed things have no odor-vision function whatsoever.”

“It is a shame that Slow Ones are addicted to wearing clothes and don’t know the joy of flitting about through nature completely and naturally nude.”

“Shut up, Dolly. You do things the opposite way far beyond reason. But, as I was saying… We Fair Folk get to watch TV for free in Slow-One homes. People who are only three inches tall and disguised by magical glammers can seat an entire audience under the legs of Slow-One easy chairs. The only part where we have to pay for the exhibition is the fact that the stupid Slow One always gets to pick what documentaries appear on the screen. That’s how we end up watching goobers like Sean Hannity and that orange-faced guy so much. “

Fairies are much more disciplined than Slow One children are. We have never seen a Slow One child beheaded for talking back to their elders.

“Oh, and tell them about the magical people the little Slow Ones watch on a thing called Cartoon Neckwork!”

“Dolly, you were supposed to be telling them about the whole Fairy point of view thing! And the documentary channel is called Cartoon Network. Though you never see those creatures in the wild. You tell them all about it.”

“Well, you see, on the tellubishion thingy there are magically animated people made from drawings that come to life, with some of them being ducks and rabbits who insult each other, and ducks who wear sailor suits, and Flintstones… whatever they are…”

“Okay, okay… That’s enough of that drabble. I can safely say there are many kinds of magics and miracles that Slow Ones use that we can’t replicate. And we do find cartoons mesmerizing. But that’s all immaterial now. I am not saying one thing more until stupid, Slow-One Mickey finishes making those sugar cookies he promised me.”

If you would like to learn more about it without continuing to make cookies, there is a book about all of this…

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Wrestling with Themes – Part 3

Judging Appropriateness

There are a number of factors that work against me as an author of mostly Young Adult fiction. That can impact acceptable themes in a big way. First of all, I have been inundated with criticisms about portraying nude people and kids who are talking about both nudity and sex.

I suppose this comes about for two main reasons.

Number one, I portray real people I knew during my career as a school teacher. They are portrayed in a way that if they personally read my stories, they will never recognize themselves. I am careful about naming characters, describing characters physically, and portraying real events as they actually happened. All of those things are fictionalized and made unrecognizable through imagination’s magnifying glass.

But the emotional plots, character thoughts, and basic motivations behind real events are accurate assessments of things I was told, things I witnessed, the highs and lows that people really go through, and the discussions I have had about what people, and especially kids, really think about.

Some of the people who read and comment on and even review my books are taken aback at what I am saying kids actually think about and want to act upon. They are comparing kids to an unrealistic, idealized picture of what they believe kids should be. And they don’t want to accept them as they really are.

I write books for the twelve-year-old me.

The Young Adult category of books is written not for children, as many of my critics would have it, but for YOUNG ADULTS. I foolishly believe, then, that I am talking to an audience of teens and preteens who desperately want to read stories about people just like them, confused about the adults they are swiftly turning into. And not all the issues and secrets and desires they are contending with daily are simple, cute, and funny.

I myself was dealing with being a sexual assault victim when I was twelve, not having at that point been taught where babies actually come from, or accurately being told what sex factually was. Misinformation I had in abundance. And everything was colored by a self-hatred that made me burn myself on the heating grate every time I had any sort of sexual urges that I didn’t understand and believed would send me directly to Hell.

Nudity and Naturism are Natural to me

So, as a bookish boy, I really wanted to have a book, or even multiple books that spoke to me about the things that I feared and fed my manic-depressive behaviors.

My life was literally saved by the Methodist minister who was also the father of my best friend when I was twelve. He was the one that presented the facts of life to me and the members of my class who were between the ages of eleven and thirteen. He explained the facts about what sex was, how it worked, and how it could be a good and loving thing. And most importantly, he answered my question about whether thinking about sex would send you to Hell. Midwestern Methodists in the 1960’s were progressive about teaching kids the truth about sex.

I feel now an obligation to treat the subject the same way when it comes up as a theme in some of my stories.

Sex is a serious subject even for young teens.

I got a scathing review on Sing Sad Songs because, while talking about sex, young characters actually admitted to experimenting with sex. The reader was so offended she felt the need to tell everyone who reads Amazon reviews that I was practically a child pornographer. KDP scrutinized this and kinda punished me, lowering the number of stars given by reviewers on two different books, even though punishment is not what their policy indicates is appropriate. This, in spite of the fact that there was no graphic sex scene or concrete descriptions of sex acts in the text. I edited the offensive part out by changing a few words. But it was a thing that shouldn’t have been a thing. Other YA novels, even classic YA novels, do more explicit things than I talked about in the unedited version of the story. It was a prude having an overreaction. And I would’ve loved to have a story with what I wrote in it back when I was a child burning the skin on the back of my legs and lower back over the thought that having sexual thoughts made me a monster.

I am aware that in a book-banning climate currently, my books could be banned.

I am aware that having a transgender character and numerous nudist characters, including a book, A Field Guide to Fauns, set in a nudist park, opens me up to having my own stories become controversial and the subject of book-burning conversations. But this is a thing all authors have to deal with in any case. Popular authors, classic authors, hard-working mid-level authors and other mostly-ignored authors like me all deal with the same thing.

What I write about is not evil and not unprecedented. Others write about the same things I do, some of them better than me, some of them not.

Obviously I need to return to the Hometown Novel timeline to complete the 1990’s in Part 4 if this essay. So, you have been warned.


Filed under autobiography, good books, humor, novel writing, Paffooney, publishing, writing

Taking My Own Temperature

I now have 2,001 followers on WordPress. I’m almost sure my success as a blogger has peaked, but I am still making new readers guffaw, groan, or shout, “Eeuw!” and turn purple in the face. When I checked the history of views and visitors, I noticed that the trend during the height of the pandemic was about 50 or more views, 20 or more visitors, and 12 or more likes. The last two months, after the pandemic was receding in ferocity, I have noticed that the trend had gone down to 50 or less views, 20 or less visitors, and… well, you get the idea. So, I am headed over the hump and onto the downward slope of the bell curve.

I have reached the point of having 20 books published and still in print. Cissy Moonskipper’s novella is book #20. There are, besides that, two books of essays that come directly from this blog, and 17 Young Adult novels. Though, technically I have classified my nudist novel, A Field Guide to Fauns, as an adult literary fiction.

This weekend I finished the completed manuscript for AeroQuest 4 – The Amazing Aero Brothers. It will become book #21,

Of my published books there are 56 reviews that have been accepted as useful and legal by Amazon. They have, for reasons of their own, removed about six reviews, thus resulting in the current number of 56. There should be one more coming via Pubby, and I don’t anticipate they will remove any more of the existing ones… but you never know.

I make about $5 month on royalties. So, I guess my temperature as an author is not exactly hot. My thermometer reads, “Tepid.”

I have been feeling ill today. But my body temperature has not gone above 37.1 Celcius today. My cough has gone away for the most part, and no diarrhea since yesterday. So, I am not hot as a human being either.


Filed under humor, Paffooney, publishing

Book Number 20

Between the moment of inspiration and the publication of this novella there was only five weeks of time. It is the fastest I have ever completed a writing project for publication. Catch a Falling Star did the same complete process in a mere 36 years. Some things are just quicker than others.

This book, Cissy Moonskipper’s Travels, is a 55-page novella written for teenagers and inspired by the books, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe and Slake’s Limbo by Felice Holman. It is a survival story about being stranded alone in space with a space ship and resources, but no way to make the space ship go anywhere and a knowledge that there are pirates out there who will looking for her to take her space ship away.

I am quite proud of this project and how it turned out. I invite you to see for yourself..

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Novel Tuesday Review

This novel should see publication within a month… or maybe more, depending on how lazy I really am.

For some time now I have been using Tuesdays to show an entire chapter or canto of a novel currently being written. It has resulted in a number of novels being created that I might otherwise have given up on. They may not be my absolute best work, but they are good enough for self-published projects. I have basically been working with novels that needed to be rewritten in order to pass muster with my own in-built “crap detector.” I took apart my first novel, Aeroquest, and turned it into five novels, AeroQuest 1,2,3 and now 4 with 5 soon to begin.

This will be the next novel I take up in this space. It is the tail-end lump of remains of the original novel including the final battle for dominance in the fractured Galtorr Imperium, the rescue of Ged Aero’s infant daughter, the final establishment of the New Star League, and avoiding the destruction of the entire universe in a struggle at the event horizon of a black hole called Little Swirl. I only have to add about 75 percent more detail, action, and event to the story in rewriting it.

You may have also seen other novels come into being in this Tuesday space. Here are the results of those.

These Tuesday posts, then, have been and will continue to be a chance for you to see novels in progress coming together (or failing to come together) as the author (namely nutty old Mickey) works out what they are all about and what happens on the next page written.

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Being Kind to Myself

Paying for reviews is not going well for me. I go to a lot of effort to read and review the works of others. Pubby gives you four days. Four days to read a book that may be as much as 75,000 words. You also find some books to be a mind-numbing slog because many writers are simply not as good as they think they are. But there are ways to cut to the chase and evaluate a book quickly and accurately. It definitely helps if the author follows a recognizable genre pattern, but most of the reviewers on Pubby have never heard of a picaresque novel, and have poor conceptions of what a hero’s journey is, or misunderstand the basic structures in a coming-of-age story. So, you make the review pointed, simple, and give the highest rating you can justify.

But the work I put into the process is not reflected in the reviews I get in return. The last review I got on my book, Snow Babies, was supposed to be a verified purchase review. That means the reviewer is supposed to buy a copy of the e-book. $0.99 is not too much to ask. I spent $3.95 on the last book I reviewed. But the reviewer turned in a review about three hours after taking the assignment and did not buy a copy of the book. It’s a five-star review because the reviewer read the other reviews and all but one of those is five stars. So, I am cheated out of the sale, and I did not get an honest review because it does not take a Sherlock-Holmes brain to figure out, “HE DID NOT READ THE BOOK!”

I need to keep going with Pubby at least for the rest of the year-long subscription I purchased because it does give me a chance to get read. And I am not the only honest reviewer on there who will read all night to get a 75,000-word novel or book read in only four days. And a Kirkus Review costs more than a thousand dollars, and if you get an unlucky choice of semi-insane reviewer, the Kirkus Reputation can be the kiss of death even for a good book.

So, in order to be kind to myself, I may need complain to the powers behind Pubby even though it is a five-star review. We shall see if Pubby and Amazon really accept this review that was not done the way we are directed to do them.

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Truth in Advertising… the Mickey Version

Here’s the thing… Mickey is to the art of advertising as Cassandra in the Iliad is to prophecy.

Cassandra, you may remember from the last time you read the Iliad in the original Greek, was gifted with true prophecy. What she foresaw was destined to come true. Unfortunately, she was cursed to never be believed by any she told the prophecy to.

Similarly, Mickey can tell a good story, full of imaginative storylines and compelling plots and themes. But anytime he launches an ad, here, on Twitter, Facebook, or elsewhere, it will not be seen, or, if seen, not responded to.

Case in point; I worked at reformatting, illustrating, and improving the following e-book. I set it up for a free-book promotion this weekend. It is still free from now until midnight on the 23rd of February.

As of this posting, I have only given away four copies of the novel. And I am more than halfway through the third day of a five-day promotion. So, I am on pace to have the worst promotion in the past year.

Of course, I know that this has been a terrible weather week for Texas, and most of the nation. Reading a book about aliens is probably not the foremost thing on people’s minds. I can usually count on Twitter nudists to give my free books a boost even when there are no nudist characters or nudist ideas in the novel. But Friday is the day when Twitter nudists usually say, “Howdy!” to each other on Twitter, and I gave away none on Friday and only one on Saturday. This book has some nudism going on at one point on the apocalyptic hell-scape planet in the story, but that is mostly a matter of naked aliens and plants. So, I can’t give copies of this book away to anybody, not even to fellow nudists.

Catch a Falling Star is the book that Stardusters and Space Lizards is a sequel to.

It is the story of the Telleron invasion of the Earth, landing in a small town in Iowa, invading in invisibility cloaking devices, and failing to even be noticed by most people in town.

The e-book is $3.99 on Amazon, so it is not as good a value as the free one.

This book is about fleeing aliens arriving by accident at a dying planet. It is a planet experiencing biosphere collapse just as Earth will probably do in the near future. And the alien characters, most of them tadpoles (Telleron children) take active steps to try to save the new planet so they, too, might have a place to live.

Anyway, buy the book. It’s free today. All you have to do is click.

But since Mickey the advertiser is like Cassandra, I have to say the opposite. Don’t buy this book. It is awful. You will not love it. You will not think all your friends need to read it too.

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My Bookish Journey (Finale)

by Maxfield Parrish

Like every real, honest-to-God writer, I am on a journey. Like all the good ones and the great ones, I am compelled to find it…

“What is it?” you ask.

“I don’t know,” I answer. “But I’ll know it when I see it.”

“The answer?” you ask. “The secret to everything? Life, the universe, and everything? The equation that unifies all the theories that physicists instinctively know are all one thing? The treasure that pays for everything?”

Yes. That. The subject of the next book. The next idea. Life after death. The most important answer.

And I honestly believe that once found, then you die. Life is over. You have your meaning and purpose. You are fulfilled. Basically, I am writing and thinking and philosophizing to find the justification I need to accept the end of everything.

Leah Cim Reyeb is me, Michael Beyer written backwards.

And you know what? The scariest thing about this post is that I never intended to write these particular words when I started typing. I was going to complain about the book-review process. It makes me think that, perhaps, I will type one more sentence and then drop dead. But maybe not. I don’t think I’ve found it yet.

The thing I am looking for, however, is not an evil thing. It is merely the end of the story. The need no longer to tell another tale.

When a book closes, it doesn’t cease to exist. My life is like that. It will end. Heck, the entire universe may come to an end, though not in our time. And it will still exist beyond that time. The story will just be over. And other stories that were being told will continue. And new ones by new authors will begin. That is how infinity happens.

I think, though, that the ultimate end of the Bookish Journey lies with the one that receives the tale, the listener, the reader, or the mind that is also pursuing the goal and thinks that what I have to say about it might prove useful to his or her own quest.

I was going to complain about the book reviewer I hired for Catch a Falling Star who wrote a book review for a book by that name that was written by a lady author who was not even remotely me. And I didn’t get my money back on that one. Instead I got a hastily re-done review composed from details on the book jacket so the reviewer didn’t have to actually read my book to make up for his mistake. I was also going to complain about Pubby who only give reviewers four days to read a book, no matter how long or short it is, and how some reviewers don’t actually read the book. They only look at the other reviews on Amazon and compose something from there. Or the review I just got today, where the reviewer didn’t bother to read or buy the book as he was contracted to do, and then gave me a tepid review on a book with no other reviews to go by, and the Amazon sales report proves no one bought a book. So, it is definitely a middling review on a book that the reviewer didn’t read. Those are things I had intended to talk about today.

But, in the course of this essay, I have discovered that I don’t need to talk about those tedious and unimportant things. What matters really depends on what you, Dear Reader, got from this post. The ultimate McGuffin is in your hands. Be careful what you do with it. I believe neither of us is really ready to drop dead.

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My Bookish Journey (Part V)

Creating myself as an author meant making some conscious choices at the beginning. I made some very clear ones. First of all, I intended to write as much about my real life as I possibly could. Accepting, of course, the fact that my real life was infested with imaginary people and events. There was the faun that slept in my bed with me every night in the form of a large, black pillow my sister made for me as a 4-H project. There were the three-inch-tall fairies that had a complete underground empire that surfaced at the roots of the old willow tree by the Rowan school building and community center. There was the gryphon that circled the skies looking constantly to swoop down and eat me at any opportunity. So, it wasn’t as much about realism as it was surrealism. It was necessary to protect my traumatized psyche from the damage I sustained as a ten-year-old.

Of course, I had literary heroes and inspirations to go by. I read some key books as a college student that deeply influenced how I wanted to write.

Winesburg, Ohio is the first major influence that affected the stories I began writing in my college years. Sherwood Anderson was writing about his own hometown in this short-story cycle, basing Winesburg on his home town of Clyde, Ohio in the very early 1900s.

Arguably he wrote stories about real people from his renamed home town. Thus, I renamed Rowan, my home town, Norwall, mixing up the letters from Rowan and adding two letter “L’s.” His stories were all themed about the loneliness and longings of a small Midwestern town. I would make mine about breaking out of the cages loneliness builds with the people who surround you.

I also determined that like Mark Twain, I would give my characters a sense of realism by basing them on real people from Rowan, Belmond (where I went to high school), and Cotulla, Texas (where I would teach for 23 years.) And I would change some basically minor physical details to hide their true identities behind names I found in the Ames, Iowa phone book from 1978. But I always tried to give them their authentic voices, though that often meant translating Texican and Hispanish into Iowegian.

And like Twain vowed to write stories only about the 19th Century, I decided to only set my stories in the last half of the 20th Century.

Of course, imagination is not easily limited, so I had to also accept that some of my stories of the science-fiction persuasion would be set in the 56th Century in the Orion Spur of the Sagittarius Spiral Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy.

And even before I discovered the genius of David Mitchell through his spectacular novel, Cloud Atlas, I had begun to explore how stories could be expanded and connected and revisited through shared characters, shared histories, and shared places, all of which develop, grow, or deteriorate over time. All things are connected, after all. Anita Jones from that first picture, and Brent Clarke in the last picture were both in the first novel, Superchicken, set in 1974, and Anita appears as an adult in Sing Sad Songs set in 1985, while Brent appears in the last novel in my timeline, The Wizard in his Keep, set in 1999.

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My Bookish Journey (Part III)

As I indicated in Part II, I killed PDMI Publishing with my first contest novel, Snow Babies. Not because it was that bad of a novel. Rather, it was the endless compounding of my bad luck over time, caused by the Publishing Gods’ keen desires to keep my stories from being generally read and enjoyed. Fickle and cruel are the Publishing Gods.

I took some of the most memorable events in my time as a teacher, put them in a cook-pot and added a batter made of characters based on real teachers I have taught with, learned from, and copied their methods, mixed it with a wooden whisk made of fairy tales, and then baked it with the high heat of the love of teaching to make the next manuscript I would submit to the same YA Novel contest, the Rossetti Awards.

I thought it was an excellent novel. And, like Snow Babies before it, it made the final round of the judging. And there was a range of prizes for the best in about five categories of YA novel for which Magical Miss Morgan qualified for two of them. If it had taken any of those prizes, it would’ve gained me the attention of major publishers looking for new talent.

Alas, there were more novels in competition in that second contest, and I only won the placement in the final round of judging. The Publishing Gods are powerful and implacable.

I submitted it to another publisher that I meant to kill, and they promptly rejected it. They could not handle many novels, got an avalanche of mostly terrible novels, and rejected mine after the first page didn’t dazzle them enough. My consolation had to be that, even though they didn’t give me a contract, they did die shortly after, being closed the next time I checked on them.

Mike Murphy and Blueberry Bates, two of Miss Morgan’s students

So, I gritted my teeth and tried the pay-to-publish publishers one more time. I chose Page Publishing because they only cost a third of what I-Universe did. I could, at that time, barely still afford it with my partially-restored credit rating.

Unfortunately, as a Publisher, Page was worth only one one-hundredth of the value of I-Universe. They didn’t actually have editors. I basically edited the whole thing myself. Their “editor” only communicated to me once with a proof-read copy that I basically had to re-edit and change everything back to being correct English usage. The major editorial contribution? They tried to change every instance of my use of Miss Morgan to Ms. Morgan. Even in the title. The young bozo-editor didn’t understand that even married female teachers are addressed as “Miss.”

As hard as they tried to mess up the novel for me, almost as badly as Publish America did to AeroQuest, I was pleased with the final outcome and the ten copies they sent me. However, I had already vowed to myself that I would never again trust my work to fly-by-night small publishers. And, of course, no major publisher was accepting unsolicited manuscripts. So, I began my relationship with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

That, then, will be the topic of Part IV.

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