Tag Archives: The Boy… Forever

Editing, Revising, and Re-writing

My new novel, finished the first time the day before yesterday, is not what writers call a rough draft. My writing process consists of doing rough draft, revision, and proofreading chapter by chapter. Or, as I call them, canto by canto.

It was written following an outline that existed first in my imagination as it was played out like a television show, dreamed up episode by episode knowing what would ultimately happen by the end of the story.

So, the process about to begin is not a second draft. It is not a revision-step either, though minor revisions may happen in the final pass before publishing. It is merely a final proofread where the story is reread as a whole, and given necessary corrections of typos and boo-boos. As a writing teacher, I have seen too many young writers skip this final, critical step. They don’t go back and read the whole thing as one piece of writing, stepping back far enough to view the work of art as a whole. How can any good writer only read the thing through as he or she writes it and figure it is good enough as it is? It may be that, but it is probably not.

Adjustments will occur for me because this new novel uses characters from a series of novels in which time passes and people change. Those adjustments are what you can safely call revisions. The character of Milt Morgan is appearing in the novel as a narrator. He has appeared in the story cycle three times now, in three different novels, and this is the first time he is ever used as a first-person narrator. He has changed and grown up a bit from novel to novel. This time he is no longer a virgin. He has freed himself from the cycle of abuse that he and his older sister both endured from alcoholic parents. He has a deeper understanding now of what magic really means and what meaning it gives to his life to call himself a wizard. But he has yet to come to terms with how lying and fantasizing about life can lead to consequences. That part of his future story will be tackled in another story that is a novel in my head, but not yet written out in novel form. That is a future writing project called The Wizard in His Keep. So, I must check this novel to be sure that all the pistons in the engine of his personal story arc firing properly in this book to ensure that it carries him forward into that new adult character he must later become. Those pistons in the engine are what revision is really all about.

Characters will die in this novel, as they do in almost every novel I write. Usually at least one bad guy, and one good guy. Of course, the doomed ones are not fated to change in this book. The story is set. I won’t be surprised by a death in this story the way I was with Snow Babies, and The Bicycle-Wheel-Genius. Of course, this story is about Immortals, and it is possible that a character dies in this book who doesn’t stay dead.

The final pass through The Boy… Forever will not be a rewrite either. Rewriting is what I am doing to AeroQuest where whole chapters (cantos) are added and left out, New characters are created. Old ones are deleted. And the plot changes in how the details come together. And though the main plot points remain, spread over four books instead of one, they are reorganized and better fleshed out.

That book is becoming books. The original and the rewritten are quite different from each other. For one thing, the new versions will make use of my cartooning skill and allow the books to be far more illustration-filled. Rewriting is a total do-over.

So, my baby book is still not quite ready to be born. But it is a complete book. Only the messy business of giving birth remains.

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Finishing a Novel

I am closing in on the end. It is hard to talk about anything other than what would spoil the ending as I am finishing that part. But there are certain things I have come to expect about how one of my hometown fantasy novels ends. Somebody dies. There is reason to cry. And life goes on. There are a few things to laugh about, and a few things to glow with pride about. And if it is a good novel, finishing it will leave me deflated and exhausted. I think this will be a good novel. I am feeling those effects already.

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Character Portraits in a New Novel

I am past the 50,000 word mark. It is almost finished. Here I wish to show you the main characters of the novel through illustrations I have created over the years..

Milt Morgan is one of the four main narrators of the novel.

He is a fifteen-year-old Belle City High School freshman in 1976. He is the most imaginative of the Norwall Pirates softball team and liars’ club.

He tells his portion of the story in the form of journal entries.

Anita Jones and her boyfriend the Superchicken (Edward Campbell)

Anita Jones is the most central of the four narrators in that she is the cousin of Icarus Jones, the character at the center of the whole plot.

She is a fifteen-year-old freshman girl who has had a steady boyfriend since the spring of 1975. She tells her part of the story by writing letters about Icarus and the things happening in the little town of Norwall in the summer of 1976. She is writing to her cousin Dot who is much more interested at the start about Anita’s boyfriend Eddie than she is about cousin Icky.

Brent Clarke is the high school freshman athlete and leader of the Norwall Pirates. He is interested in becoming a policeman or detective, and as one of the four narrators, he tells his part of the story through his investigator’s notes which he takes religiously on practically everything.

He feels responsible for all the Pirates, especially Icarus when he comes under attack during the adventure in the summer of the Bicentennial year.

The fourth narrator is Sherry Cobble who has a twin sister named Shelly and is dedicated to being a nudist. In fact, she very much wants to convince all the Pirates to be comfortable with their own naked bodies. Realizing that dream, though, is complicated.

Especially because it’s Bible Belt Iowa and her nudist family is looked at as being the somewhat crazy hippie-type kind of people that are barely tolerated by the law.

She writes about it all in her Lovely Nudist’s Diary where she can write about her naturist beliefs, successes and failures, and her boyfriend, Brent.

Icarus Jones is the central character of The Boy… Forever. He tries to kill himself early in the year of 1976 and finds out by jumping off the MacArthur Bridge in St. Louis that he cannot die naturally. And worse is in store. Beyond the fact that he is an immortal, he is being pursued by an undead Chinese wizard who is a dragon in human form.

Fiona Long, usually called Fi, convinced her stepfather to move to Norwall, following Icarus as he moves to Norwall from St. Louis. She tells everyone in her freshman class that Fi is really short for Firefang, and she is a red dragon in human form.

She becomes friends with the Pirates. She learns to trust and like Anita and Sherry. And she is mightily attracted to Brent who is actually Sherry’s boyfriend.

Fi’s stepfather, Tien Long, is the villain. He is in reality a Chinese Celestial Dragon in human form. He also needs Icarus’s blood to continue to live his long, nearly-immortal life.

It is almost done, this novel. And as you can probably tell from the character pictures, this is not the first novel about the Norwall Pirates. So, it is a pirate novel with dragons and immortals in it. It has been fun to write. And soon it will be complete.

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The End Shall Come…

As a novelist in poor health, every time I start a new story, already worked out in my head or not, it becomes a race to finish. My time is limited because I simply cannot last for very much longer. My body is failing, and each step on the path of life hurts and is hard to take. Like Icarus above, I am flying dangerously high and possibly too near the Sun. The novel The Boy… Forever, in which Icarus Jones is the key character, is swiftly coming to a close. The villain has already died the first time, and the hero is approaching the orb of the Sun. I am hoping to have it published within a month of right now, and hopefully long enough before my own rendezvous with the Son comes to pass.

This will be book number fourteen that I have published. It is already four novels more than I had realistically believed I could publish before six incurable diseases and the prospect of cancer, heart attack, and stroke that I have lived with since 2000 all does me in.

Ironically, this book that I am racing to finish before I die is about characters who are immortal, or make themselves immortal by consuming the essence of other immortals. And, of course, it is also another Pirate novel, feature the Norwall, Iowa 4H softball team and liars’ club that has a part in most of my other novels whether they are set in the 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s.

Brent Clarke is the leader of the Norwall Pirates.
Anita Jones, Icarus’s cousin, is one of the novel’s four narrators.

The novel is currently 49,685 words in 160 formatted pages. It will be finished by about 52,000 words. I hope to have it complete by the middle of next week.

Further I figure to start another novel project immediately afterwards. Who knows how many more I can achieve before the end shall come.

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A Work in Progress

I am now deep into the plot of my novel, The Boy…Forever. How deep you may ask? Well, at least up to my eyeballs.

I am busy looking at the story through the eyes of four characters, each telling their part of the story in a different way, but in first-person narrative.

I should explain that I am writing this novel as an epistolary novel, a novel made up of written artifacts.

So, let me comment on each of the four main narrators.

Anita Jones is telling her views of what happened in a series of letters to her cousin in Dallas, Dottie Jones. She starts off the plot by getting a letter from her cousin in St. Louis, Icarus Jones, that is basically a suicide note. Dottie’s answer letters are included in the novel, but only as commentary on the action, since she is far removed from the events being narrated. Anita is a highly sensible girl who has started a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship with Eddie Campbell, and her highly sensible life is thrown into serious disarray by her cousin’s somewhat bizarre plight.

Icky himself is only the author of the suicide note, so his involvement in the story, as the most important character (even mentioned in the title), depends on the narration of others.

…………………………………………………

Sherry Cobble is writing her Nudist’s Diary to chronicle life in the 9th grade in Iowa as a happy and enthusiastic naturist whose main goal is to recruit all of her 9th grade friends to be naturists. Her twin sister Shelly is also a nudist and is supposed to being doing her half of the diary, but her boyfriend has happily accepted the invitation to become a naturist already, and her interest in the diary has waned.

But Sherry’s diary entries soon reveal a serious conflict. Icky Jone’s girlfriend talks her step-father into moving all the way to Norwall, Iowa in order to be near to Icky. And Fiona Long soon becomes interested in Sherry’s boyfriend, Brent Clarke. In fact, she crashes Sherry’s Spring Nude Picnic party so that she can spend time playing football in the nude with Brent. And to make matters worse, Fi turns out to be a red dragon disguised in human form. Fi is obviously not one of the narrators of the book. So, her part in the story depends solely on what Sherry says about her.

Brent Clarke is the third narrator of the book. He is the leader of the local gang of farm kids and 9th graders known as the Norwall Pirated. He’s obsessed with police work and investigating bad guys. He keeps investigator notes in which he sees himself as a great detective. And it is his detective instincts that start him recording what he can learn about Tian Long, Fi’s stepfather. His suspicions lead him to the conclusion that Mr. Long is an evil Chinese dragon in human form.

Milt Morgan is the fourth major narrator of the story. He is a highly imaginative 9th grader who is supposed to be keeping a daily journal for his English teacher (who desperately wants Milt to become a better writer and put his high-powered imagination to better uses than thinking up ways for the Norwall Pirates to get into trouble).

Milt, naturally, hates to write, but does it on a typewriter, mistakes and all, because he is a story-teller at heart. And this story has a potential to stop any and all hearts involved. You see, in some ways, it is a story about a monster. A monster who wants to eat Icky Jones. It wants to eat him because… he is boy who can potentially live forever.

This is the most recent illustration done for the novel. This one above, not the one below.

And, finally, here’s a reminder about my book promotion, beginning today.

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People in My Head at the Moment

Anita Jones

As a writer seriously immersed in a particular work in progress, I find myself talking more and more to certain people who exist only in my head. They are the characters in my novel, The Boy… Forever.

The novel is itself an epistolary novel. That means, like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, it is made up of letters, notes, diary and journal entries, and other personal writing of the central characters. It also means that I have to become the different people who write these things. At least while I create each individual artifact that goes into the mosaic of first-person narratives.

Anita Jones, pictured here, is the letter-writer who starts the plot in motion when she gets a very disturbing letter from her cousin, Icarus Jones.

Icarus writes about his problem with becoming a midget, and his response to it being a plan to kill himself. It seems that he simply stopped growing at the age of ten. Now, being a fifteen-year-old in the body of a ten-year-old, he writes a suicide note in the form of a letter, and then goes to jump off a bridge into the Mississippi River. But when he does, he survives. Or, rather, he succeeds, but cannot remain dead. He doesn’t know it, yet, but he has become a human mutation known in the secret world of unknown things as an Immortal.

Tian Long, the Celestial Dragon

Icky’s problem becomes worse when it is discovered he is being pursued by another immortal, a sort of vampiric immortal who needs to consume the essence of other immortals to stay alive. He is a three-thousand-year-old Chinese Celestial Dragon who is able to assume a human form.

Neither Icky Jones nor Tian Long the dragon, though, really needs to be in my head. Icarus himself only writes the first and last letters of the book. Tian Long, the villain, does not have a say at all in telling the story. The only part of it he writes are the wizard spells he uses to confound everyone, and most of those are in Chinese.

Milton John Morgan, the Wizard of the Norwall Pirates

Besides the letters that Anita Jones writes to her cousin in Dallas, Dot Jones, the story is also advanced in the journal entries of Milt Morgan, one of the leaders of the boys’ gang in rural Iowa known as the Norwall Pirates. He has been asked by the Freshman English teacher to keep a daily journal and write every day in 1976. This he struggles to do, but gains writing and typing skills as he goes along, especially when he befriends Icarus and learns about the dragon pursuing Icky.

Milt is full of imagination and a sense of adventure, a thing that makes him an unreliable narrator, not above embellishing the truth as he writes his not-so-much- daily-as-infrequent journal entries.

Brent “the Cat” Clarke

The story is also taken up by Brent Clarke, the leader of the Norwall Pirates. Brent wants to be a policeman or a detective or something like that when he grows up. He takes careful investigation notes on everything, and he is the first one to become suspicious of the Chinese man and his step-daughter who pick a house in the town of Norwall that they want to live in right before the actual owner and occupant of the house mysteriously dies in a falling accident. Brent befriends the local Sheriff’s Deputy and sets out on a serious possible murder investigation that yields some very disturbing results. His notes are very detail-oriented and generally fact-based. He carefully records his own eye-witness accounts of everything.

Sherry Cobble, the nudist, calls herself the smarter and more beautiful twin.

Sherry Cobble, the more outgoing of the identical twins known as the Cobble Sisters, is a happy nudist with a very positive body image for herself and her twin sister. She is a very positive person over-all. She and her sister Shelly had started out keeping a “Lovely Nudist’s Diary” between them, but Shelly is not nearly as interested in writing and storytelling as her sister. So, Sherry takes over the diarist duties with the same sort of glee and enthusiasm she has for promoting nudism to her friends, especially the Norwall Pirates. It is her goal to eventually see all of the kids in Norwall naked and happy just as she and her sister Shelly always are.

Those four different character voices are the main voices I have to work with in telling this fantasy adventure story in much the same way as Stoker tells the story of Dracula.

So, if I begin to seem like I have a disordered mind full of multiple personalities, it’s because I am a novelist, not a mental patient or a vampire or even a Chinese dragon in human form. I am simply trying to tell a story by allowing four distinctly different characters to live inside my head.

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Cover Art for a New Novel

I have been working on a new story that I have been writing in my head for at least twenty years. The novel was originally untitled. But I started working on it by calling it the Forever Boy. But that made it sound like a super-hero sort of comic-book story. So, I adjusted the title to The Boy… Forever.

I had the idea for a cover when I turned the villain’s primary hench-person into a character formerly used in a Dungeons and Dragons game.

Her name is Firefang, but as she enrolls in the Belle City High School freshman class, she is known as Fiona Long, whose name the gang shortens to Fi. The reason for the name change is that Fi is actually a red Chinese dragon disguised in a human form, a teenage girl.

Her stepfather is secretly a thousands-of-years-old Chinese Celestial Dragon disguised in human form. His name is Tian Long. And in order to stay alive for another twenty years, he must consume the essence of an immortal human being. That immortal happens to be Anita Jones’s young cousin Icarus who became immortal at the age of ten.

So, I tried putting those last two images together to make a cover. As you can plainly see, that didn’t work very well. The dragon seems to be coming out of Fi’s hair like a giant cootie. So. I tried to make it more of a collage.

That was still not good enough. So, I tried even harder to make it look like a collage.

I added the main character, Icarus Jones, and some color contrasts.

To me, that’s better. You are welcome to criticize. It will still be a while before the story is done. I may still change it more. But I am basically satisfied… not Forever… but for now.

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