Tag Archives: Magical Miss Morgan

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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Sour Grapes and Old Foxes

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There are things still to come even though the world ended already.  I am not giving up while I still have life and breath.  I just finished an edit-review of my novel Magical Miss Morgan which I am publishing with Page Publishing, a cheaper vanity press than I-Universe with much lower publishing standards to explain the cheaper price.  I believe they are only providing a mess-up-your-spelling-and-punctuation service in lieu of editing my manuscript.  So I just now finished fixing all the corrections they made that have to be changed back.  Seriously, they wanted to change “Miss” to “Ms.” in the gol danged TITLE!  And they don’t let you write anything in all caps or use the danged … that I so often employ for pregnant pauses.  So, once this book is in print, I spend no more of my own money on publishing.  I will take the rest of my books to Amazon and self-publish.

But the book is gonna be great.  It will be worth the effort because it is among the best things I have ever written.

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This is a picture I intend to use on the cover of Magical Miss Morgan.

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I continue to put down Trump in this blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.  And I continue to get backlash.  My Trump-supporter friends make excuses and accept whatever kind of an incompetent horror he is without blinking.  Every clever put down I come up with for the Scary Orange Face yields nothing but, “You lost, get over it, libtard!” comments and further insults about Hillary and Obama that they are offended if I don’t laugh at.  But I have not un-followed or un-friended anyone.  They expect me to be civil and accepting in spite of the fact that they were never that for my candidates, even when Obama beat them twice.  But to some degree that is exactly what I have to do for their candidate.  I know them and care about them as people.  The more he betrays them and hurts them, assuming they ever realize that that’s what he’s done, the more they are going to need a friend like me who is capable of tolerating and understanding far more diverse and difficult people than they have ever been able to.  As a former school teacher, I have experiential advantages.  I know how to “love ugly”.

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So I will continue to make jokes and entertain, and try to slip a few good lessons into the mix in a way that they will actually take the medicine.  You know how Mary Poppins always recommended “a spoon full of sugar.”  As foxes go, I am definitely the old one in the title.  I am not really a red fox.  I am more of a gray fox now.  And I am not so much crafty and sly.  Just experienced enough that bears and wolves have not eaten me yet.

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I will continue to do my thinking in metaphors on this blog, a thing that protects me from a lot of my less reader-ly friends.  Metaphors just make most of them go, “Huh?”  And I will get away with saying things about them and their candidate that might make them want to exercise their “2nd Amendment rights” otherwise.  Who knows?  Maybe I can make life a little better for all of us before the orangutan we elected to the White House gets us all cooked, smothered, poisoned, and killed.

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Filed under angry rant, feeling sorry for myself, humor, novel, novel plans, pessimism, politics, self portrait

Of Nightmares and Publishing

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Okay, I don’t mean to mislead you with the title.  My nightmares last night were not caused by publishing a book.  But there is a connection.  So be patient with me and let me explain.

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Last night I kept waking up to the smell of something burning… the smell of pine wood smouldering, the acrid smell of plastic on fire, the nose-offending smell of human hair on fire…  So I get up multiple times in the night, searching the house in my underwear, sniffing about to try to detect where in the walls or under the furniture the smell is coming from.  I scared my wife at least once in the kitchen… sometime around 2:00 a.m.  And the more awake I became the less I could smell the something that was burning.  It turns out that was because it was only in a nightmare that I smelled it.  The house was burning down around me in a dream, and the dream lingered after I awoke, even though I had forgotten about the dream entirely as I woke.   It was a classic anxiety dream.

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What, though, do I actually have going on that causes me this kind of nightmare?  I mean, besides Donald Trump being elected President of the United States, the impending end of life on Earth, and Bank of America suing me with hopes of wiping out my personal finances completely?

I am, foolishly, trying to publish another novel.

I promise to tell you a bit more about this novel in the near future.  But let me tell you first why publishing it is causing anxiety dreams.

Magical Miss Morgan is a novel about being a school teacher.  It is based on real experiences in my teaching life.  I used the time my teaching methods were opposed by a school board candidate.  I also used the time a principal told me that school shouldn’t teach kids to think because that didn’t turn them into good citizens.  I used real kids I once taught as characters.  I even used the time that fairies invaded my classroom.  Oh, but that last one might be slightly fictionalized.

So, even though the main character, Miss Francis Morgan, is not actually me, this novel is a distillation of my entire struggle to be a worthy teacher and accomplish something good as an educator.  My goal during my teaching career was to teach kids to think for themselves, to guide their own lifelong learning, and feel like they were valuable enough as individuals that somebody could actually care about them individually… even the hardest ones to like.  One would think there was nothing controversial at all in this goal.  But this novel tells how I fought that battle.  It is a story that I owe it to everyone I ever taught to tell.

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I have turned to Page Publishing to put this novel into print.  Not just digital, online copies, but into real print-on-pages books.  I have no talent or luck when it comes to marketing, but I am determined to make this book real even though this is a vanity press sort of publisher that makes their money by taking advantage of dewy-eyed writing fools like me.  Yes, I am buying the services of their editorial staff and design staff and there will be no money flowing my way any time soon.  This is the way publishing has been changing.  Publishers are still the farmers and writers have become the milk cows.  I just have to hope the milk won’t be sour.

So, I am having nightmares of burning the house down because I am following my dream of making a book.  But it is an important book… at least it is to me.

 

 

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Novel News

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I was going to tell you a lot about my novel Magical Miss Morgan today.  My computer had other ideas.  I was almost done with the post and working on the final edits when the computer suddenly burped and wiped it all out.  Nothing was saved but the title.  Well, I signed a contract for the novel.  I will tell you more about that  as time goes on.  The computer doesn’t want me to do more today.

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“Unfortunately, you are a Writer,” He Said.

I have made up my mind to risk investing more money in getting another book published.  Being an author, especially an unknown Indie author, is really just an expensive hobby.  Even investing in professional editorial services and print-on-demand publishers can’t help you make any money at it, even if you are talented and good at story-telling.  The best I can really hope for is to get my books in print and pray that people will discover them and like them after I die, beaten to death for a crust of bread in debtor’s prison.

So, why would anyone in their right mind want to be a writer?

It is entirely possible that I was simply born that way.  I have been drawing cartoons and telling stories since I was about five years old.  Maybe even before that.  I don’t have many clear memories of my pre-school years.  It is possible that I was lost in a library once… or dropped on my head… or in a library and having a book dropped on my head… something set it off if it wasn’t simply in my genes.

I am planning to publish Magical Miss Morgan with Page Publishing.  They are a pay-to-print publisher who are slightly more affordable than I-Universe that I used to get Catch a Falling Star into print.  I feel like I have to get it published before I die because it is the distillation of my entire life as a classroom teacher.  Books like this are important to me.  In the Bible, there are prophets and holy men who are filled with the Word of God, men like Jeremiah, that claim the Word is burning within them, and will burn its way out of them if they don’t speak it.  My stories that I am working at turning into books are like that.  They are consuming me from the inside out.  I have to get them written and printed if I possibly can.

I have recently tried and failed to get novels like Snow Babies, Magical Miss Morgan, and Superchicken published with publishers that don’t charge for their services.   I got several rejections and one contract that came to nothing because of the economic failings of the publisher.  I have tried being infinitely patient.  It doesn’t work.

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I will try to bargain for the most affordable deal I can to get Magical Miss Morgan into print.  They will apparently let me input artwork into the final cover.  I understand that successful writers tend to starve for at least fifteen years before they see any success and profit.  At best, I have six more years of that to go.  But this, after all, is my life now.  I need to write books and I need to get them published.  I am, unfortunately, a Writer.

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