Category Archives: work in progress

Updates and Transitions

I still can’t believe my hockey team, the St. Louis Blues, lost to that upstart Nashville team whose logo is a cross between a cat and a beaver with really bad teeth problems.  But that was the other post for today.

I am probably going to kick the bucket soon.  I hate that bucket.  I just don’t like it. But in spite of impending doom for me and the world in general, I am making some changes.  After all, life is change.  We can either change or be dead.  And I am definitely not going to kick that bucket today, no matter how grumpy its existence makes me.

One change I have made is in Toonerville.  I finished snowing all over Al’s General Store.  I added two kids and their cat on the bench outside (in short pants during a winter scene… stupid kids) and fat old Huckleberry Wortle on the front steps looking for someone to play checkers with and tell lies to.  But don’t offer to be the one playing checkers with Huck.  He’s a conservative Republican with Tea Party leanings, and he will tell you things about Obama, government, and people in general that will make you so mad that you will want to go to the bench and kick the kids’ cat.

Toonerville is undergoing a winter renovation.  If I ever get to rebuild the layout, it will now have snow where grass used to be the plan.  It is still temporarily in storage on streets that are really book shelves.  And the Trolley goes nowhere.

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I have also been experimenting with shifting focus, as you can tell by the blurry trolley and track light in the foreground.

In addition to photography, I am making changes to my publishing directions.  I recently bought a subscription to a video-editing program and now intend to inflict Mickey-made videos to my blog.  To be completely honest, I made the purchase at the begging of my daughter who was using the free trial for a school project and ran out of free before she ran out of ideas.  Sound genetic to you, does it?

I have been forced to make publishing changes.  I am almost done paying the huge penance for publishing Magical Miss Morgan with Page Publishing.  That is a mistake that won’t be repeated.  I will self-publish from here on out.  After MMM, I will attempt to publish Snow Babies via Amazon.

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My current manuscript, The Baby Werewolf, is undergoing forced changes as well.  The primary factor here is my unique ability to lose things all together.  Two of the three parts of the original hand-written manuscript are now missing, and have been since we moved to Dallas in 2004.  Bummer.  Coatimundies from South Texas are probably reading it, laughing up a storm, and cursing me for not having lost part three along with the rest of it.  They surely can’t wait to find out what happens.  But since I have to do it all from memory, it will be different from what they read.

And even though writing a blog post every day is hard, I have decided it is worth it to continue.  After posting every day for thirty consecutive months, I have learned that the practice not only sharpens my basic writing skills, but also generates more ideas than it consumes.  I am a writer because I write.  And continuing to write makes me even more of a writer.  So the madness will continue.

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Filed under autobiography, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, photo paffoonies, sharing from YouTube, Snow Babies, Toonerville, Trains, work in progress, writing, writing humor

The Moaning Writer

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I am not Charles Dickens.  I wish I were.  I want to be a writer of wry humor, social commentary, and have an effect on the soul of the world I live in.  The way he was.  Heck, Dickens invented Christmas the way we do it now (with considerable help from department stores like Macy’s) by writing A Christmas Carol.  But the chances for that are growing ever dimmer.

The small publisher with which I was associated, and who gave me a contract to publish Snow Babies, has died.  The business folded while my novel was still in the editorial phase.  PDMI Publishing was a worthy group of writers and entrepreneurs who in a different time might’ve gone far.  I know by reading some of their works that they had talent.  But between the ferocious grip of the mega publishers and the waves upon waves of self-published stuff on Amazon, real writers with talent are drowning in a sea of mediocrity and media indifference.  Writers who succeed are the ones with the most luck or the most direct connections to the gate keepers.  Profit is far more important than literary merit.  You don’t really have to have talent any more.  You don’t have to know what a split infinitive is or how to compose a compound sentence properly or how to spell.  Shoot, you barely have to know how to write.  Just write about sparkly teenage vampires falling in love with high school girls or sexual perverts who are into torture devices, and you can be a millionaire… if you can somehow luck out over the millions of wannabes writing the same exact crap.

There was a time when writing teachers and published authors were telling me that sooner or later good writing gets published.  It was supposed to be inevitable.  But that was a different time than now.  Different rules for the game.  I will have two published books with two different publishers.  I-Universe published Catch a Falling Star.  And Page Publishing will publish Magical Miss Morgan.  But I paid both of those publishers to turn my books into published paper books with ISBN numbers and access to customers of Barnes and Noble and other outlets.  But I don’t expect to earn the money back that I invested.  Not while I’m still alive at least.

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My I-Universe publishing experience was worth it.  I spent a lot of money to get Catch a Falling Star published, but I got to work with real editors and advisers who had experience working for Knopf and Random House.  They gave me a real evaluation of my work and taught me how the business of promoting the book was supposed to work.  And the help that they gave me ended there.  No advertising budget beyond what I could afford myself.  I learned a lot for my money.  But I had to come to terms with the fact that marketing was going to take more time and effort than I was physically capable of doing.  I have six incurable diseases and am a cancer survivor after all.

Page Publishing was a mistake.  They were cheaper than I-Universe, but I am not getting anywhere near the value for my money.  Instead of real editors reading and suggesting and modifying my work, I get nit-picky grammar Nazis who don’t even know as much about grammar as I do.  They are only copy editing.  And the last rewrite was me spending time changing all the incorrect changes they made back to the original text.  They did not even tell me the name of the editor making the changes.  I talked to the I-Universe editors over the phone and discussed changes in detail.  Page gives me email copies to read over and fume about silently.  They are no better than the vanity presses of old who were really no more than a re-typing and printing service.

So, from here on, I will only do the self-publishing options available through Amazon.  I have no more money or energy to spend on the black hole of literary dreams.

I can’t help but be a writer, though.  That part is genetic.  I will continue to write and tell stories that I need to tell.  I can’t help it.  Not to do so will cause me to shrivel and die almost instantly.  And I am only exaggerating just a little bit.  Well, maybe a lot.  But it is still true.

Whatever promises the future holds, I am not depending on them for my feelings of success, closure, and self-worth.  The world as I have come to know it will always be a ridiculous stew-pot of ideas and ego and cow poop, and I am not so much giving up as stepping out of the stew.  I wish to tell stories for the story’s sake.  I have no delusions of becoming as wealthy as Stephen King or J.K. Rowling.  I will never be Charles Dickens.  And I am okay with that.

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Filed under commentary, feeling sorry for myself, humor, insight, publishing, self pity, the road ahead, work in progress, writing

Mickey Notes

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This is the purple-furred Mickey Icon done Don Martin-style.

If you are one of those readers who has taken to regularly reading Mickey posts on Catch a Falling Star ( a habit that is probably bad for you, but certainly not fatal), there are some things and random recent developments that you should probably be made aware of.

  • Mickey recently finished a rough-draft novel.  After giving birth to a massive 12-month-long-gestating thought artifact like that, there is bound to be some necessary recovery time involved.  He may be difficult to understand for a while as he puts the pieces of his psyche back together again.  Using mental duct tape for such things takes time and patience.
  • The novel is called Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  If that arouses curiosity in you (a condition that I also hope is not fatal… You are not a cat, are you?), there are instances of rants and delusional spoutings about this story to be found in recent posts on this blog.  Unfortunately, it will not be published immediately.  You will have to wait to actually read it until I or my heirs eventually get it published… by whatever means necessary (though I have my doubts about the plan involving kidnapped alien slaves and mimeograph machines.)
  • The novel I do have nearing publication is Magical Miss Morgan.  I recently submitted approval for final edits to my project manager for Page Publishing.  Since I am investing my own money in this publication project, I am expecting that it will get published before 2017 is done.  I will continue to relentlessly plug the thing here.
  • Page Publishing is a less expensive and less professional publisher than I-Universe that did Catch a Falling Star for me.  If you are reading this for ideas about pursuing publication yourself, I would recommend the more expensive publisher first, due to the quality of their professional editors, though I intend to continue publishing my books with less expensive self-publishing options like Amazon from here on.  As I finish the publishing process I am now involved in, I promise to complain about publishers and throw Mark-Twain-like insult fits in future blog posts.  No one should have to repeat the egregious mistakes that Mickey has made.
  • Catch a Falling Star, the blog, will continue to be a blog about my artwork, my story-telling, my teacher memories, and my generally confusing and bombastic opinions about life, the universe, and everything… including pies.  Mmm!  Pies are good.  You might even want to look at my essay on Gooseberry Pie.

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In case you were not aware of it, this purple mouse-man is Mickey, and Mickey is the writer-spirit within me.  Mickey is not actually me.  You know how Mark Twain is not really a real person?  The real person was Samuel Langhorn Clemens.  Mickey is not a really real person either.  Michael Beyer, cartoonist, writer, and former middle school teacher is the real person… if any former middle school teacher can ever be considered a real person.

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Filed under feeling sorry for myself, humor, Mickey, novel, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, publishing, strange and wonderful ideas about life, work in progress, writing, writing humor

Antonín Dvořák – HUMORESQUES FOR PIANO

These eight short piano pieces represent work from Czech composer Antonin Dvorak’s “sketchbook”.  He composed these in his time as director of the Conservatory in New York from 1892 to 1895.  They represent a foreign-born composer’s take on being in America.  It is important to note that there is a very un-serious quality to the “sketches” in this portfolio.  His most famous piece from this set, the Seventh Humoresque in G Major would become the theme song of Slappy Squirrel in Steven Spielberg’s popular television cartoon show, Anamaniacs.  It also became well known as the tune behind the “train toilet song” where passengers began singing aloud the directions for toilet flushing in passenger cars beginning with the phrase “Passengers will please refrain from flushing while the train is in the station…”

So what more perfect background music could there be for a look at some of the junk in my computerized version of a sketchbook?  These images all come from my Work in Progress folder.  I hope you will listen to the music while looking at these incomplete horrors and humoresques.

That is definitely a load of humoresques.  But like other forms of it, you spread it on your garden and it will help the flowers grow.

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Filed under artists I admire, artwork, autobiography, humor, Paffooney, work in progress

Stop What You’re Doing and Fix It!

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The gate leading to the pool was broken.

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The pool itself was broken.  See all the cracks?

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So the city inspector said, “Fix it or else!”

I had some old boards from the fence I took down.  And as an Iowa farm boy, I have skills.

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So I fixed it.  For less than $20 .  New hinges and corner brackets, but I used old nails.

Now, to repair the danged pool my own little self.

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Filed under cleaning genii, feeling sorry for myself, grumpiness, homely art, humor, new projects, photo paffoonies, work in progress

Tenfold…

Once again my computer betrayed me and wiped out three paragraphs in this article, instantly saving the changes so that I had to start over with nothing but the title and a lower case letter “u”.  Soon the danged machine will probably explode scattering my words all around the bedroom and getting random punctuation in my chicken soup.

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I was trying to write a post about the difficulties of becoming an “author” when my computer decided to ironically make it harder.  And this goofy notion that I know anything at all about the topic came about because of a random WordPress comment that appeared on one of my old posts.  I was told by the commentator that I had several posts that were good enough to go viral, and that if I wanted to make that happen and improve my “brand”, then all I had to do was Google “Jemensso’s tricks”.

Challenge accepted.  I know how to Google stuff.  I learned by being a tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy nutcase.  (Did you know that you can not only find numerous well-argued sources that indicate we never actually went to the moon, and only faked the moon landings in Hollywood, but also visual confirmation that we actually did land with high resolution photos of the various landing sites taken from space telescopes this month?  And those photos even show the tracks where the moon buggies traveled through the sands of the moon.)  So, I first discovered that my blog is not the only blog that got this message.  I found a plethora of them, some in the exact same words.  And then I located this informative page HERE.

It would seem to indicate that any benefits you can get will cost you at least some money.  And that is the biggest irony of being a writer who foolishly imagines that he can become something called an “author”.   You end up having to pay money instead of earning it.  Each of my two published novels were done with different publishers.  The first was a squirrelly print-on-demand company that doesn’t charge you to print your novel.  They don’t employ any editors or marketers either.  It is a good way to get student work into book form, and parents will gleefully shell out the money for a copy of their darlings’ writing in book form, but it is no way to get a novel published.  I could have sent them a 200 page manuscript of monkey-typing, and they would have put it in book form.

The second book, Catch a Falling Star, was done with I-Universe, a publisher that is now a branch of Penguin Books.  But it is basically an Indie publisher.  I had to invest my own money in the creation of the book.  I had to pay the editors, proofreaders, and marketers that I got to work with.  I ended up with a product that made me proud, but that I really couldn’t sell.  I am still more than $6,500 short of recouping my investment.  I do not recommend that path, unless, like me, you really crave the experience of working with competent, professional editors.  It was worth it to me to do it once.

But now I am out of money and out of options.  I led with a banner that shows I have four complete and unpublished manuscripts that I want to do something with.  I am busy with three more that are past the 15,000-word threshold… where you have to consider the work for completion because it is, at that point, almost half done.  Where will I go with them?  What will I do with them?  The answers will, I hope, eventually appear here in this goofy blog.  And I am sure they will probably surprise us both.

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Filed under autobiography, blog posting, dreaming, feeling sorry for myself, humor, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, work in progress, writing

Novel Problems

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It was a simple plan, really.  I paid a review company to review my book and post the result on their website.  It was affordable, and research showed that their services were not a mere waste of money.  How could anything go wrong?

Well, it’s me, of course.  The fact is, my book is not the only book with that same title.  I sent them the link to my book on Amazon.  They had all the right info to pick the right book.  They, of course, picked the wrong book to read and review.

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Naturally, they can’t tell the difference between my YA science fiction novel about an abandoned alien boy being adopted by a childless Earth couple and a Hollywood romance between sun-soaked beautiful people.

Oh, well, it would be funny if I weren’t running out of time for making waves with my novel and getting some notice.  I can’t seem to get another novel published and everyone is ignoring my little bookie thingy.  Serves me right for thinking I have a good reason to write stuff and nonsense.

And of course, it is not my only unique and novel problem.  I am currently trying to get essential yard work done before the leaves kill the grass on our yard.

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I raked for half an hour with a bad back stinging me constantly, and all I got accomplished was one bag of leaves!

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I really need trees that are more housebroken than this.  If I drop dead doing yard work, I will die an unknown novelist that nobody ever reads.  I am sure several people who have read my work would think that’s actually a good thing, but I’m inclined to disagree with them.

And leaf and novel problems have exacerbated my doll-collecting mania.  The third day of April and I have already bought two more dolls after vowing to quit the habit cold turkey.  But these are Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck dolls.  How can any doll collector with hoarding disorder resist?  At least, two dolls (and their horse) completes the collection…. until they get around to making more of these sweet little things.

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So, I have different problems than most people do.  But they are still problems.  I need to get busy and come up with some novel solutions.

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Filed under collecting, humor, NOVEL WRITING, pessimism, photo paffoonies, work in progress, writing humor