You may remember that yesterday I was giving a run-down of my various Home Town Novel projects according to the order they supposedly happen in real time (measured in years). Here is what I went over yesterday;
Superchicken, set in 1974, the first Home Town Novel that I completed.
The Baby Werewolf (also possibly titled The Wolf in the Attic), set in the Fall of 1974, not yet completed.
The Forever Boy, set in Spring 1975, not yet written in manuscript form.
Sweet Pickles, set in the Fall of 1974 and Spring of 1975, half written, but possibly too graphic to publish.
Under Blue Glass, set in 1977 and not yet written in manuscript form.
When the Captain Came Calling, is set in 1983-84, the manuscript is currently at 25,000 words and being worked on.
And the novel I am editing for publication this week, Snow Babies, set in the Winter of 1984. Snow Babies is the story of how the small town survives the raging blizzard and faces the prospect of freezing to death. Valerie Clarke, in the picture above, is the central character in a large cast trying to avoid being the one the snow spirits have come to claim.
The second generation of Norwall Pirates, the boys’ club of dreamers, goofballs, and liars, have come to be led by a girl, Mary Philips and Valerie is the second girl ever to join the club.
The next novel has undergone two transformations. It started as a book called Little Boy Crooner. It is about an orphan from France who comes to live with ne’er-do-well Iowegian relatives. Homesick and deeply troubled, the boy has discovered a natural talent for karaoke, and has a voice that people come from miles away to hear. Then, the clowns of the Dreamlands began invading this story and had to be renamed. It is now called Sing Sad Songs… with Clowns. I may, however change the name to just Sing Sad Songs.
Sing Sad Songs and the next novel in the series, Fools and Their Toys, happen at the same time in 1985-86. They not only share a setting and many of the same characters, but they share a villain and many of the same plot-shaping events. They are, however, very different stories.
Fools and Their Toys is the story of autistic Murray Dawes. Because he has never really been able to communicate before, his turning point comes when a new member of the family, an adopted little brother, makes for him a ventriloquist’s dummy in the form of a zebra. He calls it Zearlop and uses it to unleash the hidden intelligence that was there through all those years when other people thought he was retarded. Unfortunately, just as Murray is blossoming, a serial killer comes along, targeting young boys. More unfortunately still, some from the area believe Murray may be the killer.
Leadership of the Pirates is passed from Mary to Valerie. And in 1988 I have set my current contest novel The Magical Miss Morgan. Valerie passes the leadership of the Pirates to her highly imaginative and extremely annoying cousin Timothy Kellogg. Tim is a the second most important character in the story of the teacher, Miss Morgan, who loves to teach. Miss Morgan is the sister of original Pirate wizard, Milt Morgan. Because of her brother, she inherits responsibility for a local war between good and evil fairies, while at the same time trying to save her job from evil principals, parents, and school board members and teach a lesson or two worth remembering forever. This full manuscript novel is currently being judged for the contest, and will be submitted for publication after.
Tim Kellogg is one of two main characters in the next novel, The Bicycle-Wheel Genius. Orben Wallace, the inventor, is the title character who may have accidentally created a time machine. The novel is set in the years from 1988 to 1990, and it is about how the genius’ old inventions come back to haunt him as he tries to solve the problem of having invented a time machine, having worked on mysterious government projects, and having helped to fight off an alien invasion. This novel is also complete and merely awaiting the proper time to get published.
Catch a Falling Star is the published novel that started this blog and my dream of making it as a novelist. It is set in 1990 and tells the story of when the Telleron alien empire of frog-like fin-headed aliens fail to invade Norwall, Iowa because they hadn’t reckoned on meeting the Pirates.See Catch a Falling Star on Amazon here.
I guess I leave it here for today. It seems there is enough more to fill another blog… Part 3.
When conservative cultural warriors, Twitter Trolls, or dyspeptic gasbags like Rush Limbaugh call you a “Special Snowflake”, I have discovered, to my chagrin, that they don’t mean it as a compliment. In their self-centered, egotistical world you have to be as emotionally tough and able to “take it” as they believe (somewhat erroneously to my way of thinking) they themselves are. They have no time for political correctness, safe spaces, or, apparently, manners polite enough not to get you killed on the mean streets where they never go. Being a retired school teacher who was once in charge of fragile young psyches trying to negotiate a cruel Darwinian world, I think I disagree with them.
Have you ever tried to draw a snowflake? Believe me, it is difficult. Snowflakes are hexagonal star-shapes with enough lace and filigrees in them to make it a nightmare to draw it with painfully arthritic hands. The one above took me an hour with ruler and compass and colored pencils, and it still doesn’t look as good as a first grader can create with scissors and folded paper. Much better to use a computer program to spit them out with mathematical precision and fractal beauty. That’s how all the tiny ones in the background were created. But even a computer can’t recreate the fragile, complicated beauty of real snowflakes.
You see how the fragile crystalline structures will break in spots, melt in spots, attach to others, and get warped or misshapen? That is the reason no two snowflakes are alike, even though they all come from the same basic mathematically precise patterns generated by ice crystals. Life changes each one in a different way.
And that, of course, is the reason this essay is really about people rather than mere physical artifacts of cold weather. Our fragilities and frailties are earned, and they make us who we are. I have a squinky eye like Popeye from playing baseball and getting hit by a pitch. I have a big toe that won’t bend from playing football. They both represent mistakes that I learned from the hard way.
As a teacher, I learned that bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders are very real things. I lost a job once to one of those. And I spent a long night talking someone out of suicide one horrible December. Forgive me, I had to take fifteen minutes just there to cry again. I guess I am just a “special snowflake”. But the point is, those things are real. People really are destroyed by them sometimes. And they deserve any effort I can make to protect them or help them make it through the night.
But people are like snowflakes. They are all complex. They are all beautiful in some way. They are all different. No two are exactly the same.
And I really think boorish bastards have no right to insist that we need to take safe spaces and sanctuaries away from them. Every snowflake has worth. Winter snow leaves moisture for seedlings to get their start every spring. If you are a farmer, you should know this and appreciate snowflakes. And snowflakes can be fascinating. Even goofy ones like me.
Filed under 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion, artwork, battling depression, commentary, compassion, humor, metaphor, Paffooney, self portrait, Snow Babies, strange and wonderful ideas about life
Tagged as compassion, humor, snowflakes