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First Novels and Hard Lessons Learned

Catch a Falling Star

My first published book was a Science Fiction novel called Aeroquest.  It was a story that came about because as a young teacher I liked to play pencil and paper role-playing games with kids.  It started with Dungeons and Dragons in 1981, but because I was in South Texas at the time, Baptist and fundamentalist Texas, I had to change away from any game associated with dragons and demons.  I turned instead to the RPG called Traveller, a space game inspired by Star Wars and other Sci-Fi of the time.  Most of the characters in the book, especially the Mutant Ninja Space Babies, were actually the kids I played the games with.  They are characters that were created by them and given life by me.


So, I sent this book to a new publishing company in 2007 called Publish America.  They seemed excited to publish my work.  They paid me…

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A Full-Color Rough Draft

I announced yesterday that AeroQuest was going to be the next WIP. It is going to be a re-write project. So, I have posted a number of things about it before.

Catch a Falling Star

As terrible as my first published novel turned out to be, I have not given up on the idea of Aeroquest.  I am interested in whipping a part of it into the shape of a graphic novel.  So I bought a sketchbook and noodled down some Baby Mutant Space Ninjas gunk into it in full color.  But it is only a rough draft.  It is not finished artwork.  I can’t get over how pretty and colorful it is turning out to be.  I thought I would show you how it is going so far.


There are obvious signs that the dialogue and text boxes need to turned into a more finished form.  And serious editing decisions probably need to be made about moon shots.

Here is what it looks like to use computer editing to try to fix some of the problems.


I will continue to work on it…

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Time Out for Story-Makers

There is a moment in which you have actually finished a years-long project and produced something with long, hard, sustained effort. You simply have to take the time to sit and breathe. The story is finished. There is a natural pause before the next story begins. In this blog, this is that pause.

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The Draft is Complete

The novel I have been working on since 1996-97 is finally a complete first draft. I finished the one novel I had thought I would never be able to complete And it doesn’t suck as much as I used to think. It is a very hard story to tell, but sometimes the Herculean effort is what makes it worth doing. Now it is on to revision, editing… and dare I think it… Publication!

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Made-Up People

My grip on reality slips without notice. So let me slip this little reality check back into my blog again so that you might notice.

Catch a Falling Star

Orben 1.jpg

I often get criticized for talking to people who are basically invisible, probably imaginary, and definitely not real people, no matter what else they may be.

The unfinished cover picture is from the novel The Bicycle-Wheel Genius which I just finished the final rewrite and edit for.  All of the characters in that book are fictional.    Even though some of them strongly resemble the real people who inspired me to create them, they are fictional people doing fictional and sometimes impossible things.  And yet, they are all people who I have lived with as walking, talking, fictional people for many years.  Most of those people have been talking to me since the 1970’s.  I know some of them far better than any of the real people who are a part of my life.

These, of course, are only a few of my imaginary friends.  Some I spend time with…

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August 4, 2019 · 4:13 pm

When the Reaper Grins at Me

My aunt died this July. The day after her 80th birthday, she had a massive heart attack and was gone with a suddenness that left us all apprehensive.

My summer sunflower, the one that came up voluntarily in the pile of extra dirt left behind by the re-setting of the retaining wall around our yard, a DIY project for 2019, had dropped over from lack of water while we were gone to Iowa and attending the funeral. I thought it was going to die.

The blossoms you see in the picture above all shriveled and died. But the thing is now growing again.

Watering the sunflower’s sad remains twice a day has yielded two new large and healthy blossoms growing upward from the decimated stalk.

We are not easily defeated, my sunflower and I. And neither of us can stay down and unhappy for long without being ourselves deceased.


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May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose!

Someone late at night rediscovered this old post and looked at it. Didn’t like it. Just looked. So, here you see what they saw.

Catch a Falling Star

I was planning to write a piece about insult humor for a while, and then Don Rickles had to up and die… that danged old hockey puck!’Don-Rickles-tribute

So the master of insults is gone, and it will be even harder to explain why calling someone a proud and prissy poo-poo head is not a bad thing to do.  Because, really… strong language is not really strength and it takes intelligence to be a mean little picky-wit. (No pun intended… because no pun was used,  Duh!  How slow are you compared to molasses around Christmas time?)

You may have heard me say that I don’t like hurtful humor.  I don’t believe bad words are required to make something funny. I don’t think humor should be weaponized.  Jokes that make you die laughing are too much like murder, and people who have no sense of humor can’t be hurt by them anyway.

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