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Piece and Bitses… er, Bits and Pieces

The end is in sight for AeroQuest 4. I have two chapters left in Ged Aero’s story arc, and one cross-over chapter, plus the finale chapter with the time-travelers once again being quirky and odd for reasons to be explained later.

I have, however, lost momentum with that novel and continue to work more on Cissy Moonskipper instead.

That book has a story that parallels Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Like that story Cissy is aware of others, dangerous people like the ones who killed her brother, and she is spending time trying to prepare to defend herself should those other bad folks come to her little island in space, the Moonskipper family’s free trader space ship.

Her time as the lone survivor on the deserted starship is about to come to an end too as she is about to acquire her own version of Crusoe’s “man Friday.” It should be noted, however, that her Friday will not be a “man” in more ways than one.

Another factor in the fragmented writing life of Mickey is that, as of today, all members of this household are vaccinated (except for the dog who gets her shots Monday.) Both Henry, my number two son, and the Princess, my daughter, got their one-shot J&J vaccines at the local school district’s Health and Human Services office. It seems the entire Beyer family will survive the Covid Pandemic.

The rainy weather in Texas, not the usual thing for this time of year, has left me with a head full of allergic reactions to pollen and a body full of arthritis pains from the unseasonably cold weather. Hence the short re-hash of old ideas in a shortened post for today. Hey, I got writing done. And when I feel bad, short posts are excusable.

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At the Bottom of the Bottomless Pit

I have sunken to a new low. Why else would I be reposting this Christmas card with Vincent Price’s Christmas Tree?

I literally have an exploding headache. My sinuses are causing my eyes to see stars and my ears to pour out foul-smelling brown smoke. (Well, maybe only half of that is true. But it is Vincent’s Christmas tree. I know because I photo-shopped him out myself. Now there is only Vivi, naked ten-year-old me, Anneliese the gingerbread-cookie-girl, and Annette Funicello. I created this weird little card when I had a similar splitting headache as I do today.)

You may have noticed that I tend to get weirder when I am in pain than most people do. Instead of moaning “Oh, woe to mio!” the way other people do when they are in pain, my mind gets more free-flowing and obtusely creative when I can’t think straight. Sure, I still seem to make complete sentences and string them together logically, but that’s just a matter of writerly habits that I will still follow when I am dead and busy being a ghost writer.

But, for now, I really can’t write anymore. I only did this post to be able to say that I did still write something today. I cannot, however, say that I wrote well today. But I did write.

My work in progress, He Rose on a Golden Wing, is now at 8,500+ words. I am still on track to have written and posted something every single day of both March and April in 2021.

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An Icky Pre-Planned Sick Day

Yes, I planned for this. It is the day after my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. I was sick the second day after the first injection. So, I knew today would be like that, only possibly worse. I was right. It’s worse.

I have a headache and body aches. My arm hurts where the injections was administered. My fever never got higher than 37.3 Celsius. I would tell you what that is in Fahrenheit, but I am ill. I can’t do math. It is definitely not life-threatening. 37.7 is where you start thinking about alerting the doctor.

Yesterday my computer lost all powers of speech. It could not make a single peep. And I don’t mean those disgusting little marshmallow birds and bunnies. A computer by itself could never do that. What were you thinking when you thought I meant that? Oh, right. I am sick today. That was my feverish paranoia talking.

Anyway, that threatened my sick-day TV-watching. I only have You-Tube, Disney+, Netflix, and Hulu available to me. And all of that comes only by streaming on computer.

But even though I thought I had burned out a sound-card or something in my laptop, I was able to save the day by turning the computer off and back on again.. Simple solutions to life-altering problems.

And for those of you who were wondering why I drew myself as a crying girl in the Paffooney, that’s not me. Why did you think that? I’m a bearded, gray-haired old man. A real old coot. You should’ve known better. Oh, right again. Feverish old coots often hear voices in their doddering old heads.

The picture is actually Valerie Clarke, the protagonist in my work-in-progress, The Boy Who Rose on a Golden Wing, previously titled Valerie in Darkness. But I am thinking it needs to change again to He Rose on a Golden Wing. I know that probably doesn’t make sense to you. But I won’t put words in your mouth anymore. You are reading to the end of an over-long rant from a sick old coot. You should get a medal for that. Unfortunately I have no more Courageous Reader medals with a Word-Comprehender Cluster and five stars on it to give out. I have to get busy and make some more. Now, where did I put the scissors, cardboard, and glue?

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Now What?

Ever have one of those days where you feel the need to write, but you don’t know what to write about?

Today my second vaccine appointment was postponed until next week. The weather is blustery and rainy. So, I am left with unexpected writing time and no ideas on the yet-to-write-about list.

Well, this book is listed as a free Kindle book from today until Tuesday, the 20th, the day my vaccination was rescheduled for. This is the third time Recipes for Gingerbread Children has been in a free-book promotion. I am hoping it does better than the last couple of promotions. It really is a good book, but it gets passed over because of its connections to nudism, or because people see the title and think it’s a cookbook. I promise, if you try it, you will find it’s much more complex and fascinating then that. The story began as a retelling of Hansel and Gretel. but this time the witch in the Gingerbread House is Grandma Gretel, a Holocaust survivor trying to deal with what she lost by telling stories and baking magical cookies. And it has a werewolf in it for good measure, a little one who is not a predator, but himself a victim.

The book I am working on now… my work in progress, is a story I am calling The Boy Who Rose on a Golden Wing. This is a novel idea about handling depression, and it was originally titled Valerie in Darkness. Valerie Clarke is still the protagonist, but the story is not solely about her depression.

I used this picture to illustrate it, but this will not be the cover of the book. It will have a cardinal in it, but the girl in this picture is not Valerie.

I recently got the book The Baby Werewolf reviewed on Pubby, but the reader did not actually buy the book, which is what I paid for, and he or she probably did not actually read it. 75,000 words in just a couple of hours? I think not. So, the five-star review will be pretty useless to me in the long run.

So, now I have basically written about nothing in this post. And I have written to my goal, but achieved only that and nothing more. Still, if you are interested at all in how a writer’s mind works on a disappointingly bad day, you now have some evidence for the formation of negative opinions. And you may have some idea of what to avoid in future blogs. (And I messed with the colored-text feature out of sheer goofiness and do apologize if you actually read this far only to be disappointed by the content of this paragraph.)

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Crazy Nut Images I Once Drew

Yes, I did not misspell the word “tiger.”

This picture was intended to depict the William Blake poem,

Here’s the start of the poem from Blake’s own self-published book.

So, who is the crazy nut? Blake? Or me?

Well, if you look at the piercing eyes of the Tyger in my drawing… obviously… me!

Consider the many humble self-portraits I have drawn over a lifetime.

Yep, definitely evidence in those self-portraits.

I admit to often seeing things that aren’t really there. And from strange viewpoints.

I have a tendency to see things through the lens of history.

And there are terrors in the past as well as the present.

But mostly, the crazy nuttiness is all a joke.

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Excuses Galore

I confess it. I have not gotten much done since I got the first half of my Pfizer vaccine on Friday evening. I have been lazy and kinda ill for the entire weekend. But I am not feeling any lingering reactions to the medicine at this point. So, reposting an old post for today was simply a matter of me still being lazy. I will get back to regular daily posting later on… maybe tomorrow… but maybe not.

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In Defense of Corny Jokes

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It will probably be clear that I am writing this post because I am currently reading 1941 daily strips from Al Capp’s Li’l Abner.

But I am definitely going to talk about corny jokes, not cheesy jokes, because I grew up in Iowa, not Wisconsin.

And, yes, that is example number one.

There is a certain way of telling a joke or tall tale that is unique to the farmyard.   And it does not contain chicken poop, but rather, corn.

Untoitled

Of course, as you can see by this corn-colored definition of what corny means according to Collins Online Dictionary, the word is supposed to be an insult to corniness in jokery.  That doesn’t sit well with the people of Iowa, where the tall corn grows.  We are also obvious, sentimental, and not at all original.  And we are proud of it.  Corny360_2017-06-19-17-17-44-339

To tell a corny joke right, you have to set a simple scene, and make it clear what happened, and give the audience a simple cue for when to laugh.

For instance, there was the time that Cudgel Murphy had a cat problem with his car, the 1954 Austin Hereford that he has driven since dinosaurs walked the earth.  It seems there was this time in 1988 when he kept having engine trouble.  The engine would sputter and cough and die, and when Cudgel opened it, he would find a half-eaten dead pigeon or other random bird carcass gumming up the works.  He couldn’t for the life of him figure out how dead birds were getting into his car engine.  But his grandson Danny happened to see the neighbor’s big tabby tomcat carrying a pigeon he had killed under the front of Grampy’s car, apparently enjoying a fowl meal in the dark with a nice warm engine to lay the food on.  Sure enough, when they checked the engine later, there was the half-eaten dead bird laying across one end of the fan belt.

So Cudgel set up a vigil, assigning times for himself, Danny, and his younger grandson Mike to watch for signs of that damned cat taking another bird under the hood of the Austin. With only two day’s worth of watching under their belts, Mike came running into the Murphy kitchen with the news.

“Grampy!  I seen that damned cat taking a dead bird under your car!  He’s in there right now!”

So Cudgel rushed out, turned the engine on, and stomped on the gas.

cudgels car

There were some worrisome thumps and bangs under the hood, and then the cat shot out from under the front of the car spewing howls and cat curses all the way up the nearest tree.

Cudgel laughed hard and finally caught his breath to say, “How about that, Mike?  I’ll bet James Bond doesn’t have a car that can shoot angry cats out the front!”

Now, before you chastise me for enjoying cruelty to cats, I hope you will remember that Cudgel Murphy is a fictional character, and I am merely illustrating the idea behind corny jokes.  And, besides, that cat really had it coming to him.

 

 

 

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Mangled Metaphors and Purple Paisley Prose

Color boy

I have rather regularly been revising and editing old writing.  One thing I have discovered is that I am capable of the most gawd-awful convoluted sentences filled with mangled metaphors and ideas that can only be followed while doing mental back-flips or managing miracles of interpretation.    That last sentence is a perfect example of purple paisley prose.  Paisley, in case you didn’t know this, is a printed pattern on clothing or other cloth that makes an intricate design out of the basic twisted teardrop shape borrowed from Persian art.   The basic motif, the teardrop shape, is a leaf or vegetable design often referred to as the Persian pickle.  I write like that.  You can pick out the Persian pickles in this very paragraph.  Alliterations, mangled metaphors, rhyming words, sound patterns, the occasional literary allusion, personification, bungles, jungles, and junk.  “How can you actually write like that?” you ask.  Easy.  I think like that.

To make a point about mangled metaphors, let me visit a couple of recent scenes in novels I have been working on;

From The Bicycle Wheel Genius; page 189

Mike Murphy and Frosty Anderson sat at the kitchen table eating a batch of Orben’s pancakes, the twentieth try at pancakes, and nearly edible.  Mike could eat anything with maple syrup on it… well, maybe not dog poop, but these were slightly better than dog poop.

From The Magical Miss Morgan; page 7

Blue looked at Mike and grinned.  It was an impish and fully disarming grin.  It made Mike do whatever Blue said, even being willing to eat a lump of dog poop if she asked him to, though she would never ask him to.

So, here’s the thing.  Why is there a repetition of the dog-poop-eating metaphor?  In one case it is Mike Murphy expressing in metaphorical terms his love of maple syrup.  In the other, it is Mike Murphy expressing his love of Blueberry Bates’ dimpled grin.  He is a somewhat unique character, but why would anybody associate love with eating dog poop?  I don’t know.  I just wrote the dang things.

I like to take a convoluted plot and complicate it with complex sentences and numerous running gags, with a seasoned-sauce of mangled metaphors poured on top like gravy.  I will use sentences like this either to make you laugh, or give you a headache.  I’m almost sure it is one of those.  So if you have gotten this far in this post without a headache, then I guess it must be funny.

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A Meditation

Officer Eric Talley lost his life trying to protect the public from a supermarket killer.

He had seven children.

I can do nothing but cry about it.

Life is poetry.

It is all about finding the perfect words to express the meaning of the universe…

Every day….

Because every day has a deeper meaning.

Can I pray to it all… constantly?

Cleaning up the environment, reversing pollution of air and water, and saving our planet takes everybody working together in a sustained and difficult effort.

But it only takes a few to mess everything up.

Most dogs will love you and obey you unconditionally.

But, if you routinely curse and beat and abuse that dog, eventually… It will growl when it sees you, and bite you when you come near.

Why does anyone ever choose to be that kind of dog-owner, that kind of person?

It is not in my nature to be the wrong kind of dog-owner. Or the person who throws trash in the creek. But I cannot change the nature of other men. Is the situation hopeless?

I surely do Hope not!

Can I pray to it all… constantly?

Life is poetry.

It is all about finding the perfect words to express the meaning of the universe…

Every day….

Because every day has a deeper meaning.

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What Would I Be If…?

To be a writer, you always have to have something to say.

That’s what being a writer is.

And when you have something to say, you have to say it. And you have to use your best skills to say it well.

I took years and years to collect and organize what I wanted to say. I gathered thoughts and ideas by being a public school teacher. Not just talking to and learning from a select few kids, but every kid and any kid that God saw fit to throw in front of me. Even the crazy ones and the evil ones.

And then, I had to decide how to say what I was going to say.

Would I write an autobiography? Like retired teacher Frank McCourt did with Angela’s Ashes?

Or would I try to fight against my prosaic inclinations and write poetry like Walt Whitman did with Leaves of Grass?

Or maybe essays like Henry David Thoreau in Walden?

Or would I try to explain my world view and the wisdom it contained through fiction like Harper Lee did with To Kill a Mockingbird?

Obviously, I lean heavily towards fiction. Of my 19 published books, only two of them are not fiction. The ones that are not, Laughing Blue (barely visible in the terrible photo,) and Mickey’s Rememberries are both made up of the best essays from this blog.

And since I am now published, both through publishing companies and as a self-published author through Amazon KDP, I can examine my work and it’s public impact to try to determine what kind of a writer I really am.

Looking at this totally scientific graphic shamelessly borrowed from someone else who borrowed it shamelessly on Twitter, I can safely say I am not The Greasy Palm (I am a terrible salesman, proven by my book sales numbers every single month since I learned how to read that,) The Ray of Sunshine (My books only fly off the shelves during tornados and earthquakes,) or The Bitter Failure (because I am too ignorantly happy with myself most of the time to be that.)

So, hmm… that leaves….

Well, I confess to Space Cadet. That is what helps me be happy. And I do get enraged by some of the things that I am moved to write about, but I am definitely not a journalist. I prefer fiction.

But that last one is the most likely. Assuming I am actually Creative and Talented, and not just deluded. I definitely don’t have anyone advocating my literary genius. And my house does not have a basement. My bedroom prison during the pandemic is on the second floor.

So, what would I be if I were not a writer?

I would make a good time traveler.

It seems I always know exactly what I would change if I had a time machine disguised as a soda-vending dispenser that, for a quarter, could take me back in time to do-over points in my life.

I would ask her to dance with me in Miss Malkin’s Music Class instead of chickening out.

I would have told him that he saved my life when he answered my phone call that Saturday afternoon. I never actually told him I was thinking about killing myself, and probably would have done it if he hadn’t been there to prove to me that I had friends who cared enough…

I would tell my much younger self that I would not regret deciding to be a teacher instead of a cartoonist.

I might have made a good nudist. I like being dressed only in sunlight and good nature. I wrote a book about being a nudist. You can see it in the picture where I am trying to make you believe I am nude while holding it. Actually I had pants on. But that is not nearly as funny. I gave up notions of naturism in order not to have parents look at me funny while telling them about their “wonderful kids” during parent/teacher conferences.

What would I actually be if I couldn’t be a writer? I really have no non-joke ideas. I need to be a writer, even if nobody wants to read it.

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