Tag Archives: Catch a Falling Star

Saturday Is Art Day… Again

I draw things as illustrations to stories. Take, for example, the protagonist and hero of Catch a Falling Star.

Dorin Dobbs is boy from Iowa. That tells you some terrible things about him right there.

He was ten in 1990.

He hated girls.

He met some pretty green-skinned girls from outer space, amphibianoid frog-girls with fins on their heads. He danced with them to Mickey Mouse Club music while he was their prisoner on a sectet base on the planet Mars. They were dancing naked in the nutrient bath that all Telleron tadpoles use daily.

Brekka and Menolly are two of the Telleron frog girls with fins on their heads. They love Earth music in the 1990’s. They are background characters in Catch a Falling Star. They are main characters in the book Stardusters and Space Lizards, where they help Davalon and Tanith to conquer the dying planet of Galtorr Prime after the Telleron invasion of Earth failed in the previous book.

Tanith and Davalon (the Telleron boy in front)
Sizzahl of Galtorr Prime, Ecologist and Lizard Girl

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”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

Galtorr Prime is undergoing drastic climate change and environmental collapse and ends up being saved by superior Telleron technology and the lizard-girl heroine, Sizzahl, who has a plan for fixing the atmosphere and saving fundamental eco-systems. Of course, this is all science fiction-y stuff based entirely on fantasy and imagination and has nothing to do with the real world we now live in.

Millis, transformed from pet rabbit to near-human

Of course, not all characters I illustrate are people or aliens.

Millis, Tommy Bircher’s pet rabbit, is an ordinary albino bunny who eats a piece of alien technology that evolves him into a talking, walking-on-two-legs, near-human form.

He becomes the chef (who cooks only vegetable dishes) for Norwall, Iowa’s own mad scientist, Orben Wallace, in the book The Bicycle-Wheel Genius.

Orben Wallace, and his favorite bicycle, The Happiness Machine

I think I have now given out far more spoilers for stories than I have any right to do. But the thing about character illustrations is that your get to know the characters at a glance. And to know them is to love them.

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Advertising on E-Bay Ignorantly

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You are probably not going to believe this, but there are certain things you simply cannot safely sell on E-Bay.  My first good novel, Catch a Falling Star, took years to write.  The research, interviews with survivors, fighting off remaining alien invaders left behind when the Telleron invasion failed, and clean-up of sites and inconvenient witnesses took at least from 1990 to 2012.  And then, as part of my marketing-by-blogging strategy for the book, I took a box of leftover skortch pistols and listed them for sale on E-Bay.  They turned out to be a very popular item.  It took the first skortch ray almost a year to sell for a measly five dollars.  It was bought by a woman with a very annoying husband.  She apparently bought the item as a joke, thinking it would not actually work as a molecular disintegration weapon.  But after she surprised her husband with it and then posted the surprising results on Facebook, I quickly sold out the rest of the 26 pistols in the box and made almost $800. I am told by concerned investigative reporters that crotchety old men, ugly wives, and particularly Dennis-the-Menace-like kids were disappearing all across the Midwest.  I also learned that one skortch ray pistol came into the hands of a Republican political operative before the election in 2016.  That fact may have accounted for the disappearances of large numbers of registered Democrats in both Michigan and Pennsylvania in the weeks before the election.

I wanted to inform you that I may have done something stupid on E-Bay.  Therefore I am re-posting the drawing I did of Studpopper the Telleron demonstrating the firing of an example skortch pistol created by Zillokahsitter Industries on Telleri Prime with Sylvani technology.  If you should see one of these in the hands of a spouse that thinks you are grumpy too much of the time, I would suggest an almost instantaneous program of self-improvement.  And if you see one in the hands of someone in a red MAGA baseball cap, immediately put on your own red hat and say something inordinately stupid so they will assume you are one of them, and hope they skortch themselves by accident before they get around to skortching you.

Sorry about that.  I should’ve thought this whole thing through more carefully beforehand.

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The Truth is Out There… Somewhere

My novel Catch a Falling Star is about an alien invasion that goes horribly wrong for the aliens.  I wanted to make the story as realistic as possible, even though, admittedly, the story is really about people on Earth.  The thing is, in order to supply realistic details to a story I had been working on for twenty-plus years, I started researching alien encounters with a certain gleeful seriousness, being a Carl Saganite who didn’t believe anything that was not provable and was always open to finding proof.

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The thing about the rabbit hole of conspiracy theory and alien encounters is that the Wonderland on the other end contains proof of all sorts, for and against, with varying degrees of veracity.  And if you follow the white rabbit of truthiness far enough, you are definitely going to find out things that, at the start of it all, you really did not want to know.  There is a big downside to being way too smart for your own good.

Here’s a bit of validated conclusion on my part that will probably disturb you if you have seen even half as many fake alien videos on YouTube as I have.  Skinny Bob is real.  If you are immediately disgusted with how foolish and easily fooled you think I am after that statement, actually watch both videos all the way to the end so you can follow how I made this remarkably stupid conclusion.

My Art

The first video comes from an amateur researcher who is part of the MUFON community and spends lots of time working on uncovering and disclosing the truth because he is compelled, not because he is making money.  He reveals that the leakers of this particular item of film property have gone about it in a way that protects their own secrets and has not led to making a lot of money.  In fact, they distributed the video in a way that guarantees that governmental forces can’t easily erase it from being seen, copied, and studied.  Still, as Nick Pope, the former British government UFO researcher, has stated about the Skinny Bob videos, they could simply be someone’s attempt to spend time and resources pulling off a masterful hoax in CGI and film-craft.   Some people do live to fool other people.  That’s where the second video really blows a hole in the white rabbit’s head.  If you watched the very last bit about the frame rate, you can see that the leaked footage was intentionally reduced in frame rate from 18 frames per second to 12.  Because I am an animation nut, I already knew that film in the present day tends to be 24 to 26 frames per second.  Not only did the frame rate of the film suggest it comes from before 1975, but that someone had altered it for their own reasons to change how it would look.  I immediately thought, “Aha!  This will prove it is fake and the alteration was made to make the footage look more real.”  But the restored footage doesn’t look less real.  In fact, if anything, the footage looks even less like a robot or CGI program image.  Why would someone want to make a video look less real?  We can now cook and eat that old white rabbit.

Galtorr Primexvx

And so, the inevitable conclusion. Once again the fact that so much effort has gone into suppressing and covering up these things proves that they are almost certainly true.  You don’t make an effort to cover up a total fiction.  Skinny Bob is real.  And there is more to the story.  And, dang me, I want to know.

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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.

My Art 2 of Davalon

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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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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Stardusters… Canto Six

Galtorr Primex 1

Canto Six – The Tadpole Nesting Quarters

Unlike the other tadpoles, Davalon put on clothing all over his body as they returned to their sleeping chambers and assigned areas.  Alden and Gracie Morrell also dressed, of course, but they weren’t Tellerons whose skin needed to stay moist and open to the mists.  Drying out was bad for Telleron health.  Still, when they saw Davalon put on his cadet uniform, Tanith, Brekka, Menolly, and George Jetson all found their Mickey Mouse Club jackets and put them on.  Naked otherwise, but covered on their upper torsos.

“So, Dav,” asked Menolly, “What was it really like to live on the Planet Earth?”

“I don’t think I can tell you what it was really like.  I was only there for a couple of weeks.  That isn’t long enough to really know.  You should ask my new mom and dad.”

The little green faces all turned to Alden and Gracie.

“Well, I only lived there for forty years,” said Alden.  “I don’t think that is long enough, either, to really know.”

“Oh, you old fuddy-duddy!” said Gracie.  “You kids can ask me.  Go ahead, ask me anything.”

“Tell us about sunshine,” said Tanith.  She was the prettiest of the Telleron girls, as far as Davalon was concerned, even though, as a nest-mate and daughter of Xiar, she was technically his sister.  For Tellerons incest had never really been a “thing”.

“Ah, sunshine,” said Gracie with a twinkle in her eye, “it was yellow and warm and… gorgeous.  You could bathe in it.  It made you feel loved by God.”

“Until the UV rays cooked your skin and gave you bright red sunburn,” added Alden.

“Yes, well… there was that,” admitted Gracie.  “But I always loved sunny days, and the bright blue of the Iowa sky.  Oh, and sunsets… sunsets were beautiful in ways that are hard to describe.”

“And rainy days,” said Alden, “dark and overcast with thunder and lightning rumbling on the horizon.”

“Ah, you’re just being an old poop,” said Gracie with a frown.

“No, I mean it.  I’m a farmer, remember?  A farmer needs the rain.  And it cools things off… and rainbows.  You remember rainbows, Gracie?”

“Ah, yes.”

“But,” said Brekka sadly, “you both gave those things up to live in space with us.”

“Yes,” said Menolly.  “Will you miss those things?”

Alden looked at Gracie, and they both nodded to each other.  Davalon could feel the sadness.  And that in itself was something new.  Before they had met Earth people, Tellerons had not really known strong emotions.  Tadpoles were programmed while still suspended in their gelatinous egg sacs with years’ worth of technical knowledge, math, and science.  But nowhere in their training had they ever learned how to love, or laugh, or have empathy, or feel remorse.  Those things had come from Earther TV broadcasts and actual contact with human beings.  It was hard to be around human beings and not get a bit infected with human emotions.

“We’ll experience those things if we colonize a planet,” said George Jetson.  “There could be sunshine and rainbows on Galtorr Prime.”

That brought smiles to every little green face, even Davalon’s.

“But we hear that Galtorr Prime is a very dangerous place,” said Gracie.  The little-girl twinkle was gone from her eye, replaced by a sad longing, a remembered pain.

“Yes,” said Menolly, “I’m scared of Galtorrians.  They eat meat, and would eat us if they catch us.”

“That would not be so nice,” said Brekka.

Gracie, in the frilly dress she had put on, moved to put an arm around each of the two female tadpoles.  She looked like Shirley Temple to Davalon, the girl in that old black and white movie with the orphans that needed comforting.  Was it Animal Crackers?  Or was that a Marx Brothers’ movie?  Dav didn’t remember.

“Maybe we should be brave explorers and go down there to find things out,” said George Jetson.  “We could be like Davalon, and help out our entire race.”

“That’s not wise,” warned Davalon.  “We could get into trouble we could not get out of.”

“You could be our leader, Dav,” said Tanith.  “We have faith in you.”

Davalon didn’t like the fact that they were all warming to the idea so quickly.  It was a scarier world than Earth.  They stood to lose everything they had gained from the Earth adventure.

“None of us know how to pilot a Golden Wing,” warned Alden.  “And we can’t all stow away on the adults’ missions.”

“I was programmed with pilot skills,” said George Jetson.  “And you and Gracie are really adults, just in child bodies.”

“I think they may have a good idea here,” said Gracie to Alden.  “If we are going to be star-explorers, we need to start somewhere.”

To Davalon’s utter horror, it was decided at that moment.  There would be a secret tadpole mission to the surface of Galtorr Prime.

*****

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There you have it, Canto Six of the extremely alien-based goofy sequel to Catch a Falling Star that I call Stardusters and Space Lizards. I would apologize for inflicting it upon you, but the truth is, I really like it.   I did a good job of telling what really happened… um, errr…  Well, I mean, telling it just as I once imagined it.

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Stardusters… Canto Five

Galtorr Primex 1

Canto Five – In the Invasion-Squad Ready Room

“I truly hope that we are clear on invasion protocols this time around,” Biznap said to his reconnaissance squad.  “Last time we followed the Captain’s orders, and… ohhh, that was a mistake!”

“So what do we do better this time?” asked Farbick.  Yes, yellow skin, but Farbick got right to the heart of the matter.  It was hard not to like Farbick, even though the fact of his yellowish Fmoog skin made it necessary not to like him.

“Perhaps you better tell the rest of our team what happened last time,” suggested Biznap, “so they will know what not to do.”

“Well,” said Farbick, “it is not for me to question Xiar’s orders.  He wanted to capture a single juvenile specimen of Earth primate to evaluate for weaknesses.  It is a daunting task to conquer six billion Earther-primate people with only a handful of Tellerons and a little superior technology.  We took a simuloid who could take the shape and the place of the specimen so no one would ever miss it.  I mean, him.

“Isn’t the simuloid what we now know as Gracie Morrell?” asked the pretty young science cadet, a female Telleron called Starbright.

“Yes, that is correct.  I was there when it happened.  The simuloid rescued Gracie from death when her old Earther primate body gave out due to heart failure.  It gave itself over to Gracie’s DNA.”

“But how is that possible?  Simuloids are only supposed to copy DNA and memories once!” asked a security cadet, a male whose name Biznap didn’t even know.

“We think it happened because of the control device that Commander Sleez was holding as he disintegrated himself.”  Farbick nodded, probably because it was his theory.  That tended to make a Telleron treat something as fact, if it came from his own mind.

“We need to get back to the recon mission and what went wrong,” said Biznap.  “Tell the other stories another day.”

“Yes, the Commander is right,” said Farbick.  “We landed and captured a specimen.  We successfully replaced him with the simuloid.  And then things went really very wrong.”

Biznap knew that was an understatement.

“One of the adult Earther primates, a police officer, fought off the stasis field long enough to shoot me.  He somehow overcame the paralysis and the mind-wiper and nearly killed me.  I had to bury myself in mud for two weeks and recuperate, or I would not be here now.”

“The way Commander Sleez and Navigator Corebait aren’t here now?” asked young Starbright.

“Yes.  I am afraid they were both killed during contact with Earther primates.”

“Don’t leave out the most important mistakes,” cautioned Biznap.

“Yes,” said Farbick.  “We should never have taken young Davalon along on a mission like that.  When I was shot, he tried to find me, and so was stranded on Earth.  He would’ve died if it were not for the generosity of Alden and Gracie Morrell, two Earthers who tried to adopt Davalon as their own child.”

“He also would’ve died if I had found him,” said Biznap.  “My mission was to disintegrate the lost tadpole before he revealed our presence to all Earthers.”

“But Commander Biznap was also lucky to find an Earther primate friend,” added Farbick.  “You all know Mrs. Harmony Castille by now.”

“Oh, we definitely know her,” sighed the three cadets.  “She’s the one that makes us wear clothes.”

Farbick nodded.  Clothes apparently didn’t seem like such a terrible thing to Farbick… at least, Biznap noticed that Farbick was rarely without clothes even before the invasion of Earth.  Insecurity of a personal nature, perhaps?  Farbick’s body was more yellow than green.

“But all of that isn’t the biggest mistake of all.”  Farbick nodded sadly.

“What was?” asked all three cadets.

“It was who we chose as a specimen.  That Dorin Dobbs was probably the most dangerous Earther primate on the planet.  We got him on board this vessel and found out that he was actually so… charming, that we couldn’t keep him from contaminating every Telleron on board… except for Commander Sleez.  Everybody liked him.  His alien behaviors rubbed off on the tadpoles first and then the female science officers.  It began the rebellion that turned this spaceship into a joint Earther-Telleron mission.  Apparently now a mission to build a permanent settlement on the planet Galtorr Prime.”

Every Telleron present shuddered at the same time as that last bit of information truly sank in.

*****

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