Tag Archives: The Wizard in His Keep

After the Last Chapter

Yes, I have reached a snag in the novel-writing process. I am definitely at the end of the story. The crisis point is past. The characters who have to die to resolve the central conflict are dead. The characters who needed to be rescued are already rescued. I have probably less than a thousand words left to write. But I still have to tie the knot in the end of the plot to keep all the main ideas and themes from pouring out and floating away with the wind. I need the final scene and a memorable end line.

And, I am ill. My chest hurts. My head hurts. And I have needed to sleep every time I have settled down to write it. What happens if the old Grim Reaper shows up again with a sharper scythe than he had on his last visit?

I don’t know

what comes after the last chapter. I don’t know it for the book I am writing, nor for the life I am living.

I freely admit that I have no confidence whatsoever that after I die I will wake up in Heaven. Baptists have told me I will go to Hell for not believing what they believe. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have assured me that there is no Hell for me to wake up in and be eternally tortured in. But they also tell me I get no Paradise forever because I stopped believing what they believe. I have repeatedly said in writing and conversations that I am a Christian Existentialist. And I have explained that I think that makes me an atheist who believes in God. That leaves me, more or less, as an agnostic, not knowing anything until it’s proven to me, and realizing that nobody can prove it besides the God that I believe in but who doesn’t exist.

Our lives are like a book.

Things happen before the book is opened and you begin to read, but they are not technically something that the book contains within it. And when the book is finished and you close it, the story is complete. But the book still exists even when it’s closed.

I am not concerned about the fact that my story will end. But with both the book I am working on and the life I am living still unfinished… well, I hope both stories will be finished.

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The Wizard in his Keep

And now…

The story is coming to an end. I am halfway through the last chapter. The climax of the plot is now finished and the final resolutions of the plot are being concluded. And so, soon you will be able to find this book on Amazon and see for yourself if the amazing levels of nonsense and fantastical lunacy were worth the wait.

A fatal car accident seriously alters the lives of the three Brown children, Daisy, Johnny, and Mortie. But they are rescued by their mysterious “Uncle Miltie”, a video-game designer who is somehow involved with the military, the CIA, and other strange things that may have caused their parents’ deaths. And Uncle Miltie takes them to live, not in his house, but inside the weird virtual reality game he has had a hand in creating. And something there is going terribly wrong.

The video game they now live in is called The Legend of Hoodwink. And it is entirely possible that they will become trapped there forever. At least the main characters of the game are nice. Hoodwink is the boy hero who looks pretty good to Daisy, and his sidekick is Babbles, the Kelpie who can’t help but talk so fast you can’t really understand him.

I am ill as I write this, but lately that has been the story of my life too. A life or death game with rules you have to learn as you go, and a bizarre place where what is real and what is an illusion may prove to be exactly the same thing.

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Living in a Fictional World

My title for today has at least a double meaning, if not a triple or fourple one.

“Fourple?” you say.

Yes, four plus the color purple. Purple, after all is the dominant color used in the video game “The Legend of Hoodwink“.

And, of course, the video game is not real. It is the virtual reality video game used in the story as the secret land that the orphans and their mother’s friend flee the authorities to live in after the deaths of the Brown family’s parents.

So, I have been living in the world of Glammis, the imaginary game world inside a mainframe supercomputer. I started this story back in the 1980’s, inspired just a little bit by the Disney movie Tron. Of course there are all kinds of more current technological details to employ to make the story more up to date. The story has been reset to 1999. (I don’t write stories set in the 21st Century. I just don’t. Mark Twain never set one in the 20th.) And one of the ways to create the game-world of the story is to draw pictures of it that I can use as illustrations in the book.

Hoodwink and Babbles (the horse-headed Kelpie) are both game characters that play key roles in the story. They transform from game characters following the script to real people fighting for their lives and honor in the course of the story.

A key setting is the candle-castle called Candlemere, for obvious reasons. The wizard, Milt Morgan, lives there, though he is a real person from Iowa living in Texas as a game designer.

These are the three orphans that Milt Morgan has rescued after the car crash. Mortie Brown, Daisy Brown, and Johnny Brown now live in Glammis after the deaths of their parents, Brom and Stacy Brown.

The three orphans are being pursued in the real world by an FBI agent, a relentless tracker and pursuer named Agent Brent Clarke. What the kids don’t know is that Agent Clarke is trying to find them for their grandparents that they don’t realize are still alive. And Clarke is also their uncle, their mother’s older brother.

In the video game, they are pursued by the evil Daniel Quilp, who is in the video game playing the wicked King Murdstone of the Chelsrod’s Spire. He is not a relative. He is secretly the enemy of their parents and the wizard Milt Morgan.

The servant of Murdstone in the game is Errol of the Devylkind. He is more than he appears to be as well. He is another player character who is also very much acquainted with Daisy in the real world, and has a huge crush on her.

But, at present, I haven’t yet reached that part of the story, the latter half of Act One. Instead, I am today establishing setting further by narrating the visit to BrooglieTown, the home of the chocolate dwarves (literally made of chocolate and not a racist faux pas by any means.)

So, in the middle of writing a novel, I am describing the world-building I have been doing… and drawing… while pretty much living in this made-up game world due to the ongoing pandemic and intense heat of Texas in July. It is a better place to be living for now, though it is soon to heat up too as the plot gets churning and the Devylkind, rather hot-blooded fantasy characters, get further involved.

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Cover Creation Once Again

As I am now thoroughly committed to the next book, The Wizard in his Keep, I have also been working on the little matter of what you put on the cover of the book.

I started with a picture of two important characters, the video-game characters Hoodwink and Babbles (the horse-headed Kelpie).

Next came the color step.

Which leads to the need for a background.

And then we edit it and composite it.

And hopefully it makes you at least a little bit interested in the story.

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Tingly Time

I have now seriously started The Wizard in his Keep. It is most likely to be the next novel I publish. Though AeroQuest 4 and Hidden Kingdom are both in the running. But I have already gotten the tingles from this new work in progress. It is beginning to feel like a good story. It is rolling out of the word processor as easy as pouring hot molasses from a glass jar. And it smells just as sweet. (Wait, do novels have smells? I think they must. This one is green apple, caramel, and molasses.)

I already wrote about the three main characters in the above illustration. So, you should probably already know that they are Mortie, Daisy, and Johnny Brown, the orphaned children of the late Stacy and Brom Brown.

The two characters in the new illustration at the start of this post are Hoodwink and Babbles. They are not so much real people as they are non-player characters in a virtual-reality video game. The program behind the game has slightly too much intelligence for a computer thingy. But that’s what makes it ripe for an unexpected intrusion of fairy magic and the wizardry of the game master, Milt Morgan. It results in a boy named Hoodwink and a Kelpie named Babbles that are a little bit more than merely human.

I could tell you more, but I actually need to save it for the rough draft. This story has a tingly feeling about it that it shares with my best work.

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Character Developments

If I am ever going to sound at all like an author talking about his craft, then I guess there is really no better place to start than with character development.

This is the first illustration in my work in progress, The Wizard in his Keep.

One of the most important factors in starting a new novel is how you put together the jigsaw-puzzle pieces that are the characters. I have had the characters in my head since about 1974. Daisy Brown and her two younger brothers, Johnny and little Mortie (short for Mortimer Snerdly Brown, named after his Great Grandpa Mortie and his Grand Uncle Snerdly) are the three characters that the story starts with on the night of the car accident.

Notice that the plot throws the three children above directly into a conflict right from the start. They were all in the back seat of the car. Their parents were in the front. Dad (who’s name is Brom, short for Bromley Mortimer Brown) has a bad reputation for reckless driving and being an alcoholic. He is driving. But he is sober. Mom (who’s name is Stacey Clarke Brown) is in the front passenger-side seat. Both of them are killed in the wreck. (Ironically the young man who hit them also dies, but he is the one guilty of drinking and driving on the night of the accident.) Some of those details come out in the first two chapters. Some of those details never actually come out in the course of the story. That’s the thing about characters, the author must have an idea of all the important details of their lives from early on in the creation process. But many of those details are not necessary to use in the story. You just need them so that you sound like you know them as you write about them.

Let me start by describing the development of my protagonist, Daisy Stacey Brown. She has been the protagonist of this tale since 1974. She was originally based on the younger of my two younger sisters. That is where the adventurous spirit comes from. And the slightly ditsy quality of her highly-imaginative inner monologue comes basically from my sister’s daughter who was born about 1993-ish (and the story, of course, happens in 1996, so it is based more on the present form of my niece shoe-horned into Daisy’s fifteen-year-old skinny body). Daisy is followed as the focus-character in a third-person-limited-point-of-view narrative. Here is a sample of that described in the story’s opening and filtered through Daisy’s unique brain;

The sound of the ambulance siren was raucous behind the car, like someone trying to play an AC/DC medley with a circus air-horn.  And a clown playing it who was drunk on too many pre-show hits from the gin bottle in the straw at the bottom of the lion cage.

It kinda made Daisy smile to think of that analogy.  She needed something like that to get her mind off what had happened that horrible night, a mere half an hour before.

I haven’t given any physical descriptions of Daisy in the first chapter of the story. Those things are slipped in later in nearly unnoticeable bits and drops. The fact that she has strawberry-red curly hair doesn’t get said until well after the reader sees it in the black-and-white illustration. Her skinniness, pale coloring, and awkwardness will be in descriptions that happen later in separate and isolated spots.

Far more important is the way her mind works, which I try to show rather than tell. She is one of those people who is both innocent without being ignorant, and imaginative without being merely random.

Other characters will be established too with an eye on what they are like at the beginning, and a mindfulness of what they will become as the plot changes them over time.

Johnny is a sad-sack introvert who blossoms as he overcomes problems associated with the initial tragedy. He grows as he proves to himself that he is neither a coward nor a fool.

Mortie is unflappable from beginning to end in the way small children often are. He possesses a powerful sense of wonder that overwhelms fear and sadness over his losses.

That is probably enough of an insight into how I am shaping these characters for now. If you look inside this process too closely, and compare it to my last post, I run the risk of letting you see how I may be using this story to process my own upcoming loss of a parent. The pandemic and my father’s Parkinson’s disease ironically is hitting this story with enough irony to iron out more than just the wrinkles. It may well iron me flat.

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Day After Day

Posting every day keeps the imaginary writing muscles toned and renews my basic energy levels. But it also becomes a chore on certain days. Like today. The weather has got me down with arthritis woes. Typing like this is it not as easy as it should be. And when I have to labor at it to make the paragraphs flow, sometimes I just turn it all into rambling babbling. I spin my mental wheels and get nowhere.

I can use this post to tell you, however, that I have now started a new work-in-progress. I have already pounded out the first four thousand words of The Wizard in His Keep.

This is the final story in the arc of the character Milt Morgan. This story has been gestating in my brain since 1995. Though, if I am honest, it began with fantasies I had back in fifth grade. The main character, Milt Morgan, is half me and half the other Mike from our gang back in Rowan in the 1960’s. Back when Mike and Michael were sometimes good friends and sometimes the brains behind evil plans and terrible tricks. He supplied the devious know-how, and I provided the creative spark that lit the schemes on fire.

But this story is advanced to the computer age.

Milt Morgan is 50% me and 50% my best nemesis, Mike Bridges

In 1996, Milt Morgan was a 34-year-old video game designer living a double life in a high-tech, state-of-the-art computer lab. It is then that he mysteriously kidnaps the three children of his child-hood friend’s sister and takes them away to a magical world that only two people in the entire world have the keys to. Milt is the Wizard. The other Key-Master is Daniel Quilp, the Necromancer. A battle for the soul of the world must take place, and Daisy, Johnny, and Mortie Brown are a part of it.

Anyway, the words are beginning to pile up again. And again I have made something out of nothing. My book promotion is still going on until tomorrow. The link above can still get you a free e-book copy until after midnight tomorrow. And nobody, it seems, still wants my book for free. (How’s that for a pathos pitch?) We’ll see how it all ends tomorrow.

Johnny Brown in Purple Glammis (the Magical Kingdom)

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