Tag Archives: novel writing

Really? …Fairies?

Donner n Silkie

I have always thought of myself as a science fiction writer.  I admit that in 2006 I realized that my province was not serious science fiction, but rather humor-driven science fiction.

In 2015 I wrote Magical Miss Morgan, a novel about being a teacher, but basically also a fairy tale.  So, I guess, with fairies invading my fiction and magically taking over at least half the stories they are part of, I am turning into a fantasy humorist rather than a straight science fiction writer.

I am at the moment re-reading my novel Magical Miss Morgan for Goodreads.com now that it has reached publication in 2018.  I am experiencing all the cringes and all the “oh, no!’s” of being a writer in print.  You end up thinking, “How could I have been so stupid as to write THAT?” way more often than is good for your continued mental well-being.  But I am also still tickled by and laughing at the best jokes and funnies in the novel, at least enough to know it is (however self-delusional it is to say this) still a good book.


But that book is not the end of the fairy invasion.  Oh, no.  In 2016 I wrote the book Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  This book was not only about an old German woman and holocaust survivor who is a very good teller of fairy tales, but also about the fairies of Tellosia who live nearby and invisibly attend to her constantly.  She even creates for them a whole race of magical gingerbread men fairies.

This book is currently a part of the Inkitt novel contest and is available to read for free on their site this month.  Here is the link; Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  You can actually read the whole thing, and hopefully review it to help me get the needed buzz to get it published through Inkitt.

So, why fairies?  I have to admit… I don’t know.  I think I have been be-spelled, bewitched, and serious glammered with pixie dust.

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A Girl Called Dilsey

Mary Murphy's Children

Mary Murphy, mother of Dilsey and Little Sean… among others.

If you have never written multiple novels about the same set of characters, you will not have inside knowledge of the process I am going to talk about in this goofy blog post.  Because you don’t fully understand what I am talking about, you are welcome to call me an obsessive-compulsive fool.  I am definitely a fool, but I prefer to believe the obsessive-compulsive part is off base.

I fell in love with Dilsey Murphy.

“You’re kidding!” you say with a disbelieving smile.  “You fell in love with a fictional character from one of your stupid hometown fantasies?  Nonsense!  Not only is she not real, she’s just a supporting character.”

I think that might be the one thing I love most about Dilsey.  She’s never the one demanding to be on center stage.  She’s a shy, sweet-natured girl from a big family who does the best she can to avoid being the ant under her brothers’ magnifying glass.  And yet, when she is called upon for empathy, or a little bit of sister wisdom, she mines the gold from King Solomon’s mine.


A new picture of Dilsey Murphy wearing her father’s old Carl Eller T-shirt.

You may not know this if you are not a writer of fiction, but a lot of the character-building process consists of compiling the character’s personal facts, personal history, and back story, developing an in-depth storehouse of details that may, in fact, never get used in any book, short story, or other writing.  In order to create a character that feels real to the reader, an author must know the character far more intimately than the reader will ever be made privy to.

Dilsey is a member of the Murphy family who live in Norwall, Iowa.  Her parents are Warren Murphy and Mary Murphy.  Her father was a member of the infamous Murphy Boys, all of them brothers, that played brutal linebacker defense for the Belle City Broncos high school football team in the 1960’s.  Mary Murphy is famous for being a small woman with a very large personality.  The family is Catholic and of Irish heritage, determined to avoid church and yet hoping to get into heaven.  They ar e also devout Minnesota Vikings football fans.

Dilsey’s older brother is Danny Murphy, a skinny, goofy kid that grows up into a reliable problem solver and mature young man.  Danny eventually falls in love with Carla Bates, the sister of Blueberry Bates, Mike Murphy’s girlfriend.  Danny and Carla marry in 1992.

Dilsey is the second oldest, born in 1977, so she is a young teen in most of the stories she appears in.

Mike Murphy is her younger brother, a member of the Norwall Pirates, a kids’ gang and 4-H softball team.  Mike is a year younger than Dilsey. His girlfriend, Blueberry Bates, has a terrible secret, one that makes Mary Murphy turn resolutely against her even though she previously loved her.  Mike and Dilsey refuse to abandon Blueberry even when Mike is forbidden to see her any longer.

Tim Kellogg is Mike’s best friend.  Dilsey believes him to be a jerk and a hopeless goon. And yet, even though Dilsey hates him and is a year older than Tim, he is the only boy she dreams about naked.  They eventually go on dates in high school and it is rumored that they will be married in 2000, though my hometown stories never progress beyond the 20th Century.

Dilsey is based on my unmarried sister and my daughter, though she really isn’t very much like either one in the long run.

Okay, so I know I haven’t sufficiently explained why I am so much in love with Dilsey Murphy.  I, of course, take that as a challenge.  I will write more stories.  You will fall in love with her too.

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The Hardest Part to Write


I finished a novel rough draft today.  But the end is not the hardest part to write.  Well, this one was, but not because it was the end of the story.  It was the part where a character you have carefully crafted over time, and really learned to love, has to die because that is simply how the story goes.  It was not a sad death, or an unresolved death, as such.  It was a fulfilled life of meaning and magic that simply came to its ending point.  My own real-life story may come to an end sometime in near the future too, and I can only hope it is half as much a satisfying completion as this one was.  And yet, my heart is sore from having written it.

The novel is called Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  It is a story of a little old lady.  She is alone in the world, except for the people in the little Iowa town where she is now living, especially the middle school age people who gather at her house to eat her gingerbread cookies and listen to her German fairy tales.  She was also a concentration camp survivor, so this story has Nazis in it.  Don’t worry though.  They are dead Nazis.  And there is a werewolf in it.  But only a baby werewolf.  Oh, and there are two twin teenage girls who are practicing nudists in it.  But you probably aren’t worried about them.  There are also fairies in it.  She tells fairy stories, after all.  And the whole book is more or less a collection of fairy stories.  And there is a lot of magical gingerbread cookies.

But I had to write the “character dies” part that I knew was coming for about six months.  It is the part that will make or break the story.  It is the part I will most need to polish and rewrite.  But the fact remains, the story ends with a death.  So there is that.  Life with gingerbread in it is also life that eventually comes to an end.


And that part of the story is always really, really hard to write.

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What Mickey is Really Up to Now


I have not been well.   Six incurable diseases combined with colder, wetter weather will do that.

But Mickey has been busy.  Yes, my goofy writer alter ego has been pecking away at a novel that pushes the boundaries of “strange” into a purple dimension where having a president that looks like a racist sour-lemon-flavored cookie dipped repeatedly in Orange Fanta with fingers covering the eye holes almost makes sense.

The novel is called Rezepte für Lebkuchen-Kinder which translates to Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  The more I let Mickey work on it, the stranger it gets.  It currently is about an old German lady who lives in a little Iowa town where she likes to bake gingerbread for children.  But it is also a fairy tale where the fairies of Tellosia are still fighting their never-ending war against darkness.  And in this story with a magical fairy war in it, there are gingerbread men who magically come to life.  There are also teenage nudists, evil Nazis from the past, fairy tales that can solve life’s problems, and a lurking possibility of werewolves.  (This is a companion novel to The Baby Werewolf and happens simultaneously to that story.)  It has hit the 20,000 word mark.  And you know how novel writing works.  Too many words all put together into the same thing will magically merge and metastasize into book form.  I know this is true, because I’ve seen Mickey do it before.


Grandma Gretel Stein talking with fairy General Tuffaney Swift.

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Stardusters… Canto 19


Canto Nineteen – Back Aboard Xiar’s Base Ship

Harmony Castille had been searching for an hour for little Davalon and little Tanith.   It was well past time for their Bible School lesson on the story of David and Goliath.  Nothing was more important to Harmony than pounding Bible wisdom into the heads of these little green heathens.  She had gotten practically all of the grown-up frog folks to wear clothing for the majority of their day.  Tadpoles, however, were much harder to train to have some modesty about gadding around the space ship totally nude.  The very idea!  She had to overcome this nonsense about Telleron children needing to absorb nutrients and moisture through their skin.  She could dose them a whole heckuva lot better while they were wearing clothes.  All she needed was a few large tablespoonfuls of cod-liver oil and a generous helping of a good laxative.  You couldn’t help but feel healthy and whole with your bowels thoroughly emptied and roasted clean from the inside.  And where had these naked heathens gotten to?  Brekka, Menolly, and George Jetson were missing too.  Rapscallions as bad as any of those awful Pirates back in Norwall, Iowa.  Definitely a bad influence.  And the trail led directly to…

“Sublieutenant Studpopper?”

“Erm, yes, Miss Castille?”

“Is it possible you know the whereabouts of Captain Xiar’s children, Davalon and Tanith?”

“Erm, yes, ma’am.  They were assigned a support mission and went out on Golden Wing Sixteen just after Commander Biznap’s mission went down to the planet.”

“Support mission, hmm?”

“Yes, ma’am, er…  I mean… erm, um…”

“Land sakes, young man, why ever are you so nervous?”

“Erm, well… no offense, ma’am, but you have a great a deal of power over Captain Xiar’s family and crew.  And I can’t afford to be making any more mistakes.  I may already be headed for the protein vats to be made into tadpole cookies for my blunders on Earth… while following that awful, terrible, traitorous Commander Sleez.”

“Please!  No one is going to make you into tadpole cookies while I have anything to say about it.  Those would obviously turn out to be the most bad-tasting, foul cookies ever baked.”

“Oh, thank you, ma’am…  I, uh, think.”

“So who gave the order for this support mission?”

“Um… erm… Captain Xiar?”

“Hear it from his mouth didja?”

“Um… well, no…  Oh, no.”

Harmony gave him one of her meanest old-lady lion-tamer stares that could turn rattlesnakes non-poisonous and boil the truth out of any evil little Sunday-school student who ever tried to get away with a big, black belly-thumper of a lie.

“I will report the mistake immediately.”

“You are dadgum right you will!  And take responsibility for it too.  You won’t be turned into tadpole cookies, but I guarantee you the top of the list for latrine cleaners, and you will probably head the list of those asked to go out there and get them back!”



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Stardusters… Canto 17


Canto Seventeen – In the Lizardman’s Stronghold

Biznap, Farbick, and Starbright all had their hands resting against the helmet crests that contained their Telleron head-fins.   It was not easy to hold your hands above your head while wearing the heavy environment suits, but the large, nasty-looking slug-thrower the little lizardman held in his hands gave them extra encouragement.  Farbick was fairly sure the weapon worked like an Earther machine gun and could fire a steady stream of hot metal projectiles.

“You are the most pukingly repugnant set of miscreants ever produced by your inferior amphibianoid race,” said the huge, obese lizardman sitting on the throne, the one, it turned out, that had the girly voice.  The reptile wore only loose-fitting robes over his elephantine body, and his small, atrophied legs made it obvious the prodigious bulk could not even walk by himself.

“Will you eat one of them now, master?” asked the little lizardman with deep, dangerous-sounding voice.   He was tiny compared to the Tellerons, and microscopic compared to his master, but Farbick could tell by his scowl and his cold yellow snake eyes that he was by far the most dangerous creature in the room.

“The female looks delicious,” squeaked the fat one, “but they killed Grakknarh.  We can’t afford to eat them while they are still useful to our plans.”

“Grakknarh was the lizardman who attacked us outside?” Farbick asked.

“Yes.  And he was the one keeping the scabbies out of this facility.”

“What are scabbies?” Starbright asked.

The little lizardman grimaced as he spoke.  “Survivors of Tedhkruhz’s bacteria weapon are mindless monsters now.  They are covered in scabs from the disease, and they attack and eat anyone they see.”

“Don’t give them too much information, Stabharh,” warned the fat one.  “They are our prisoners now, but they have superior technology that we want.”

“Yes, Bahbahr, I yield to your wisdom.”

“What technology?” asked Farbick.

“The space ship you came in on, for one,” squealed Bahbahr greedily.  “We need it to get to another base where we can continue to try to fight off Overlord Rekhpahree, and evil Senator Tedhkruhz.  They have been trying to force my business empire out of business and killed most of my employees.”

“Giving a space ship to Galtorrians is totally out of the question,” said Biznap.  “We have no intention of unleashing your reptilian hordes on the galaxy.”

“What hordes?” asked Stabharh.  “Most of the population of Galtorr Prime is now dead or diseased.  There are barely any uninfected males left alive, and no females that we know of.”

“Too much information!” shouted Bahbahr.  “You need to leave some things for them to figure out on their own.”

“But you told me they were stupid,” said Stabharh.

“Yes, but you are telling them everything!”

“Oh.  Yeah.  Sorry, Bahbahr.”

“Commander Biznap is right in saying that we would rather die than give you the space ship,” said Starbright.

“Whoa, now… I didn’t actually say that.”  Biznap took his hands off his head fin.  “You don’t know how to fly a starship, do you?”

“No,” admitted Stabharh, “but we can learn.”


“Oh, sorry again.”

“We would be willing to transport the two of you to this new base you wish to move to.  After we deliver you, you will let us fly back to our people.”

“We let one of you go.  And we keep the other two, along with all of the weapons you used to slay Grakknarh.”

“You can keep one of us, and the weapons,” countered Biznap.  “You will need someone to show you how to use the weapons properly.  By the way, do you have mirrors on your world?”

“Of course we have mirrors,” said Bahbahr in disgust.  “How else can I admire my beautiful figure and emerald scales?”

“Good,” said Biznap.  “I know a special trick with our weapons and a nice mirror.”

“We will think about your deal on the way to Galtorr Nine.”

“We will need a decision first,” said Biznap.

“We could eat you all now and figure the weapons out for ourselves…”

Biznap nodded meekly.  Farbick wondered if it might not have been better to get the devouring over with.



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Stardusters… Canto 14


Canto Fourteen – Aboard the Orbital Station

In Gracie’s opinion, Tanith was a natural leader.  Gracie was the older, wiser head, even though she inhabited a little girl’s body now.  But she had no trouble with letting Tanith give the orders, and being herself the resource they could call upon when needed.

“Tanith, dear, how do these weapons work?” Gracie asked.  She held the ray gun in her two hands and studied the Buck-Rodgers-looking thing.  The end of the pistol-looking part had a silver ball thingy on it surrounded by a concave reflecting mirror.

“You point the end you are looking at towards your target and pull the trigger,” Tanith answered.  “It’s simple, really.  But I want all three of you to let me have the first shot if we have to defend ourselves.  Like Dav said, the consequences of missing the target could be fatal.”

“What do you mean?” asked Brekka while pointing the silver ball end at her own face.  Tanith grabbed the gun before Brekka could accidentally pull a trigger.

“Just think what would happen if a stray shot hits a station wall and disintegrates it.  First the space station goes pop with catastrophic depressurization, and then each one of us does.  It would be a horrible way to die.  And we would be killing the boys too.”

Menolly began holding her skortch pistol by the tail end using only two fingers.  She wouldn’t be much help in a shootout.  Neither would Brekka, it seemed.  But Gracie had gone squirrel hunting and pheasant hunting in the winter with her dad back in Iowa.  She knew how to hit a moving target with a regular gun, even a pistol.  She would definitely be the back-up Tanith would need in case the poop hit the fan blades.

“Follow me,” said Tanith, heading deeper into the mysteriously dark and quiet space station.

“Oh!  Tanith!” cried Menolly.  “There are bodies over here!  Dead bodies!”

Menolly was right.  There were lizard-people piled in one corner like they had been trying to claw their way out through a space station bulkhead.  They were scale-covered, possessing a tail, and they were definitely in a state of being deceased.  Deader than a door nail as Gracie’s father would’ve said thirty years ago.

“What killed them?” asked Brekka.

“I don’t know,” said Tanith, a little bit shakily.

“They haven’t been bitten or chewed on by an animal,” said Gracie, “though they appear to have been trying to get away from something.  There are no bullet holes in them, either.”

“What do you think it was, Gracie?” asked Tanith.

“Well, look at the way their eyes are filmy and cloudy-looking.  And the crust under their nostrils.  They may have been sick with some disease.  People with fever can sometimes imagine things, even things they are afraid of.”

“How do you know so much without ever being programmed in the egg?” asked Brekka.

“I’ve seen a lot of farm animals in my day,” said Gracie, nodding, “and cows, pigs, and especially sheep often get sick.  Don’t they program you with knowledge like that in your eggs?”

“We are specialized by our programming,” said Tanith.  “The computers try to match our training to the genetic markers we exhibit that indicate what natural skills we probably possess.”

“My, my…” clucked Gracie, “Earth children would never be able to say a sentence like that at your age, much less perform some of the skills you are gifted with by your egg programming.”

Tanith smiled in answer to that.  Gracie was truly impressed by these wonderful alien children, and she was coming to love them more and more as she got to know them.

“Do you think we will find anybody alive here?” asked Menolly.  Menolly was the child more easily moved to happiness and glee than either Tanith or Brekka, but she was also the one more quickly terrified of things, especially unknown things.

“There’s a special room over here,” said Brekka.  “It looks like it has a lot of plants in it.”

The other three girls followed Brekka into the room.

“It’s a hydroponic greenhouse,” said Gracie.

“How do you know that?” asked Brekka.

“Look at all the plants growing in hanging baskets.  And there is no dirt under any of them.  They are growing out of some wet, spongy material.  I was a farm girl, born and bred.  And a farm wife after that.  It is only natural that I would know about plants and growing them.”

Suddenly a voice came on over the intercom.  “What are you doing in my space station?” said an angry female voice.  “Especially Tellerons?  Don’t you know we Galtorrians eat Tellerons for breakfast?”

All three Telleron girls suddenly wet their pants.


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