Tag Archives: A Field Guide to Fauns

Mickey’s Somewhat Pretty Okay Not Rotten Weekend

I have had a rough time since the pandemic began. I still get my pension check at the beginning of each month… for now. So, I am a lot better off than those whose jobs were taken away by the lock-down. But I did lose all potential income from substitute teaching. And the plumbing in the house is still aging badly, sprouting leaks everywhere that I have no money to fix with professional plumbers. I can barely afford Fix-it Tape which only slows a leak and does not completely end it. Notice I said “leaks”, not “leeks”. Onions I can defeat. But water is not my element to master.

Today my faithful microwave, the one that I had for four years in my last classroom, gave out. A spark and some smoke and she cooks no more.

But it is not all bad news.

My wife secretly has two more microwaves in her secret evidence-of-hoarding-disorder stash. She let me use one. She also found a leak-clamp for temporarily staunching leaky pipes at Home Depot where I haven’t dared to go in the pandemic because of my diabetes and high blood pressure. So, the weekend was slightly more un-yuckified than I expected.

And this weekend I was having a free-book promotion for A Field Guide to Fauns. I was expecting to give away too few free books again. I expected the Twitter writing community to turn up their noses because it is a story about a family of nudists living in a nudist park. But the Twitter nudists that follow me because of Recipes for Gingerbread Children were delighted. I gave away more books in the first two days of the promotion than I have given away in any other promotion.

It feels good to have someone reading my books, even if they are naked when they read it.

And I have reached a point where I am relatively certain, without being tested, that the illness I have been feeling is all just diabetes and allergies, and I have not yet fallen ill with Covid 19.

So, I can honestly say that I feel very… Meh, okay right now. Better than expected, and a lot better than dead.

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Filed under angry rant, feeling sorry for myself, health, humor, novel plans, Paffooney, publishing

False Steps and Fortune

I finished another re-read of my most recent book, A Field Guide to Fauns. In spite of this being an experiment expected to fail, I read into it a growing sense of my ability to write well. The issues it deals with, mental health, body shame, self-image, and dysfunctional families, are all things critical to my own understanding of myself. All of these things have deeply affected my life and my family’s life. And, being set in a nudist park, it has a certain aura of comedy about it that you can really only achieve with characters who are naked (figurative or literal are both funny).

Ironically, two of my five best books have nudists in them. Six of my fifteen books over all have nudist adventures in them at one point or another. That’s four more more than have Nazis in them. Four more than have werewolves in them. Four more than have zebra puppets in them, as well as four more than have literal clowns in them. And two more than feature aliens from outer space. Five more than have rabbits who are changed into people by science.

If nudity is not funny, then I have seriously miscalculated the appeal and gone entirely down the wrong garden path of humorous story-telling. So, since I now believe The Field Guide to Fauns is one of the best novels I have done, I may have actually laid an egg. (Who knew that farm boys could one day grow up to lay an egg themselves?) For balance I need to plant a few more carrots of irony in that garden that the garden path of humorous writing leads to.

Mandy Clarke, Pinky Pithers, and Tandy Clarke

I am planning to make my newest novel this month’s free-book giveaway sometime next week. I have a few more corrections to make on it before I do, so stay tuned. I don’t like it when I find bugs in the writing on the fourth re-read. But I think I may have sprayed them all with anti-bug proofing spray (figuratively speaking again, because with Mickey, you never know.)

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Filed under humor, illustrations, irony, novel, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, nudes, Paffooney, publishing

A Field Guide to Fauns

I did it again. I now hold in my hands the first printed copy of A Field Guide to Fauns. It is my first pro-naturism novel, even though it is really more about healing from a traumatic divorce, abuse, and severe depression. It is set in a nudist park. Devon, the main character, is a fifteen-year-old boy struggling to adjust to a change in his parents’ custody arrangements after abuse and depression force him to live with a father who has remarried into a family of nudists. Devon is also an artist who deals with the world through drawing. And more than ever, Devon has begun to suspect that he is actually a mythological forest creature… a faun.

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Writing Humor… and Other Oxymorons

Once again I am running a free book promotion. Fools and Their Toys is a comedy YA novel about an autistic man who learns to communicate only through a Zebra sock puppet that he uses in his ventriloquist’s act. But even though there are a lot of comedy moments about this fool, his favorite toy, and his child-friends, it is also a murder mystery as the Teddy Bear Killer continues to prey upon young boys. There are some extremely un-funny things in this tale, a story narrated by the zebra sock puppet through his unique point of view. There are numerous emotional responses I am trying to get beyond mere laughter. Sadness, grief, fear, horror, revulsion, doubt, and bewilderment are all supposed to be represented here. And this story does not unfold in sequential time order, Murray the ventriloquist’s mind does not work like that.

And that is what leads to today’s basic topic; What does it mean to claim you are a humor writer?

I have also just completed A Field Guide to Fauns. This is a novel about nudists, so there are a lot of naked people in it. The main character, who is the narrator, is a fifteen-year-old boy who is trying to recover from both a suicide attempt and the loss of the home he grew up in. He comes to live with his father and his stepmother, along with two twin stepsisters in their permanent home within the confines of a nudist park. It is a strange balance of humor, psychological horror, and melancholy.

So, I guess to understand the writing of humorous fiction the way I understand it, you have to accept the notion, “Humorous fiction is not always funny… at least, not on every single page.”

You can find precedent for that in the works of great humorist fiction writers. As funny, quirky, and essentially British as Charles Dickens is, you have to admit, there are pretty dark things happening in some of his greatest books. Oliver Twist has the childish adventures of the Artful Dodger side by side with the murderer Bill Sykes. David Copperfield contains the antics of Wilkins Micawber and the simple Mr. Dick contrasted to the evil of Murdstone, David’s stepfather, and the slimy machinations of Uriah Heep. Even his greatest masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities, has its clowns like Jerry Cruncher, the grave robber, and Miss Pross. the governess/pugilist, and its villains like the Marquis de Evremondes, the heartless aristocrat, and Madame DeFarge, the even more heartless revolutionary.

The illustration above was the last bit of revision and editing added to A Field Guide to Fauns. It is now ready to be self-published. My writing time today, after posting this, will be devoted to publishing this book. So, soon you will be able to see what I mean about humor having its dark side.

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Filed under humor, irony, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, writing humor

The Final Day… Here Again

No, I am not breaking out of quarantine. And I am not about to die. It is the final day of writing my novel, A Field Guide to Fauns. I will have the manuscript complete before the day is over, ready for editing and proofreading tomorrow… or in a day or two.

I can say I will finish confidently because I am absolutely certain there is no more than two or three pages left in the story plan.

But writing my novel is not the only useful thing I have been doing. I have been solving endless plumbing problems in our old house. I have also been doing yard-work in between bouts of rain. And I decided to break out an old Christmas gift from my sister, given to me in the 80’s, and put it together.

You can see from my progress pictures that it is definitely not the last day for this particular project.

I was able to successfully move my recent painting projects, including the Toonerville Congregational Church, to their new location on Fireplace Mantle Street.

So, as with all of life, as one thing ends, other things continue. And some even begin.

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Critical Steps

Last night I reached the climax of the novel, A Field Guide to Fauns. I pulled the scene off in a way that made me cry and feel like a part of my soul had been pulled out through my nose. But a critical question remains to be answered. Does it matter to the reader as much as it does to me?

The climax occurs after a group of four characters participate in a Chicken Dance, and the critical conflict is resolved by talking about the past.

Devon Martinez as he appears in A Field Guide to Fauns.

Probably not the most cinematic approach I could have used.

But this is not a cinematic story. It is introspective. It grapples with chronic child abuse and suicidal depression. It deals with recovery from a seriously traumatic event. And it is set in a nudist park featuring characters who are trying to rebuild families after divorce.

Can I leave it like it currently is? Knowing me, I probably will. It is an essential sort of story that I need to write because of who I am, who I was before, and where I am trying to be. I don’t write for anybody else but me. But I do hope others will read it. I will, in fact, continue to coerce family members and friends who are not sick of my story-telling (if such rare creatures still exist) to read it and make faces afterwards. And I firmly believe it is well-written, but it is a well-written, introspective and highly metaphorical novel. How many people do I know, after all, that read and enjoy Marcel Proust or William Faulkner or Saul Bellow? (I myself have only read multiple books from two of those three, and that because I can’t read French to get the book in its original language),

Starlord and Spiderman as they appear as blue elves in Onward, the Pixar movie.

Last night I watched what I thought was a marvelous movie on Disney Plus. And the truth is, the gut-punching climax of that movie happens when the main character is reviewing his to-do list while sitting on a rock. So, it is not only me who sometimes soft-peddles the critical steps in a story plot.

In truth, then, the next critical step for me will be to finish the falling action of the novel, carefully re-read and edit the manuscript, and then publish it. The novel will be done soon.

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Filed under family, healing, humor, novel, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Curiouser and Curiouser

I finished a possible cover for my work in progress, A Field Guide to Fauns. It is a book about re-forming families from tragedies and divorce. It is also about suicidal thoughts and depression. And it takes place in a nudist park where the family has a permanent trailer.

This book will definitely be about some of my own experiences with these things and issues. And I hope to distill a bit of high-quality wisdom from this brewing novel. After all, when it comes to depression and battling it, I have deep scars and burned-in notions of how you overcome them. It is ironic that I know so much about fighting depression and darkness, even though it was mostly about the depression of other people, not me.

I have come to know how to stitch families together out of used and discarded parts. Hopefully not creating a new monster. And again, it is ironic that I know this mostly from other families, not ours.

The book is flowing, practically writing itself. And that is always a sign of a big idea turning itself into a great novel. I look forward to finding out what happens in each and every next chapter… or, in this case, Canto.

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Filed under battling depression, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, finding love, humor, illustrations, novel, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

A Fatal Case of Hope

I have been avoiding talking about politics for more than a year even though it is a rich source of potential comedy material. The idiot-criminal President continues to bumble and blather and make money and do crimes he automatically gets away with in spite of the law. It’s easy to jape him and make jokes, but he black-heartedly continues to do things that benefit him and devastate me and the issues I care about.

This is Skye Johnson , the newest illustration for my newest novel, A Field Guide to Fauns.

After the South Carolina primary, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are now clearly the two leading candidates and most likely to become the Democratic Nominee. I will vote for either one. In fact, if Bloomberg steals it by out-spending everybody else, I’ll even vote for him. Donald Trump is the death of everything I care about in life. His position on health care, the environment, education, the arts, and on and on… is poisonous to my way of life. I may not live to see him defeated in the election. But I hope to last just long enough to be able to vote against the !#$%#%%,

In the meantime, I have forced myself to go back to work in the classroom, the thing that was killing me in 2014. And I have so far avoided the flu and death while making enough money to solve my immediate financial woes. I put in an extra day this last month beyond what I reasonably thought I could survive. And I am feeling good about that, even though I am still unable to afford the health care I need, and still feel awful on a daily basis.

So, do the good things in my near future still outweigh the bad on the scales of my continued existence? I think they do.

My work in progress, for which I am marshaling my ability to draw fauns, and I am using this blog post to show you illustrations for it, is about life at a nudist park where the family in the story is dealing with the after-effects of child abuse, divorce, and alienation of family members. It is about issues boiling in the stew-pot of my own personal experience. And about how love can ultimately overcome those issues.

Mandy Clarke and Mandy Clarke;s tongue.

I sincerely hope that Trump gets dumped in November. If he wins, and if I am still alive, that misfortune will seal my fate. I will not survive beyond it.

But if you can’t control your fate, and if the airplane is crashing, you might as well enjoy the ride down to the ground. I am doing a novel now that imagines life as a full-time nudist. My family will never accept it in real life, and my skin flakes off with psoriasis almost as badly as a leper, so I will never live that life. But you can do things in fiction that fly far above the limits of your real-life wings.

If I can keep up the work pace as a substitute teacher, I will actually have enough money to get by. That will be a welcome relief. And I might reach a level of life that approximates what I had before 2012… With a bunch of novels in print that didn’t exist before that year. No future fatality will overcome me. I exist here in my words. And words and pictures are my hope and dreams.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, commentary, humor, illustrations, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Sunday Thoughts at Random

Sometimes the fact that you are writing up a storm on your current work in progress works against you in that you have no writing electricity left to spark an idea for the daily blog . So, what do I write about on day like today?

I can’t talk about the previous novel anymore. It is out there now. It is complete, and a part of my over-all body of work.

It is a good one, though. It is funny, full of magic, and action, and characters that I love.

I can’t really talk about A Field Guide to Fauns. It is too new, and I haven’t had time to fully digest what I’ve done in the last four days.

That sort of work in progress is too fresh to have the analysis boiled out of it.

I can show you an illustration from the novel that is new and hasn’t been seen before.

Her name is Mandy. She is the twin of Tandy. She is not actually a demon. She just plays one in this novel.

I can illustrate this post with recent pictures used in recent posts, but that doesn’t get me a topic to write about either.

This picture of Randy is an illustration from AeroQuest 3 : Juggling Planets. That’s my novel rewrite which I am working on at the same time as I am doing the current work in progress.

So, I guess there is really nothing to write about today. And I must now end this post by saying, “I guess I am just not going to write a post today.”

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