Tag Archives: writing

One True Thing

Sometimes I wonder why I write and what purpose it serves.  And the fact that it is impossible to know the answer to things like that doesn’t even slow me down.  The speculation-and-imagination machine chugs on, churning out all sorts of clever platitudes and sophomoric sayings that the editorial glands in my brain sometimes make me choke on.  Purple paisley prose rolls out of my pen and curls and swirls across the page being more about the silly sounds and internal rhymes and alliterations than about the actual ideas.  And I enjoy the process far more than you do.


Making connections is probably the most important process of the whole endeavor.  Having returned home to Iowa for a week in July, I can testify that connecting your childhood to your recent past and your promising present is essential to determining both who you are and who you are supposed to be.  The boy I was in the 60’s and 70’s is a key to understanding why I write what I do.  I was smarter than a kid is supposed to be.  A nerd is a target for verbal and physical abuse based on a shared feeling among those not as cerebral that it is somehow unfair to be smarter than ordinary folks.  I learned to defend myself with wit and superior planning.  I found it is possible to create an indispensable role for myself in practically any situation.  I learned to be a good listener.  I absorbed all the fascinating little nuances of personality and possibility that other people unintentionally exude.  I learned to organize and prioritize and use all the other ize-es that help you structure reality to your liking.  And I learned that it is possible, as a teacher, to pass the secrets of life and love and laughter on to others.  Here is one true thing… The point of learning anything is to pass it on to others.

Skater girl

If you get nothing else at all out of this silly, meandering post of purple paisley prose, I hope it is that previous sentence.  I delude myself into believing that all the experiences I have had and all the things I have learned can be wrapped up into pretty packages and given as gifts to coming generations.  I strive to write with quality and make the ideas engaging and powerful.  I am always experimenting with style.  For example, this post is based on free-writing and associative thinking.  I intended to create a “boneless” structure of gelatinous prose centered around one true thing.  And I intentionally wrote it to resemble a blobby pile of mud in which the reader must dig for that nugget of gold.  And I think I have succeeded in making it thoroughly muddy with random big words, loose connections that risk bursting the paragraph’s seams, and word eddies that could potentially explode the flow.  If you have waded this far through the mess, then let me reward you with one more pointless Paffooney, re-posted like a pirate.

Blue and Mike in color


Filed under humor, Paffooney, wisdom

Telling Lies

Every day of my life I have dealt with lies.  After all, I was a public school teacher for 31 years and taught middle school for 24 of those years.  

“Please excuse Mauricio from writing the essay today.  He was chopping ham for me yesterday and his hand got numb.”  

“I have to go to the bathroom at 8:05, Teacher!  Not 8:10 or 8:00!  And no girl will be waiting by the water fountain… oh, ye, vato!”  

“Can’t you see I have to go home sick?  I have purple spots all over my face!  It is just a coincidence I was drawing hearts on my notebook with a purple marker.”

Teaching rabbit

But now the classroom is quiet.  I am retired.  

Okay, I know, the first part of that is a lie.  The classroom is not quiet.  I am retired and don’t go there any more.  Some other teacher (or long-term substitute after the rookie teacher ran out screaming after the first week of school) is now listening to the lies.

So, nothing but the truth now, right?  Who is around during the day to tell me lies?   The dog?  Well, yes…  when she wants to go outside and pretends the poop and pee are bursting out of her, but really only wants to sniff the street lamp and all the male dogs who have peed there.  

But there is also me.  Yes, me!  I am working at being a writer now… so I tell myself lies… and not little ones, either.  Whole episodes of my past have come pouring out in my stories… and I am not always the good guy or the main character in the tale.  Sometimes I was the villain, the mistake-maker, or the fool.  I’m definitely not perfect now, nor was I then, but I’m a writer now.  I can change it.  I tell lies.  I can make it work out in ways that never happened in real life.

I put lies in this blog.  For instance, I may have suggested, a few posts back, that because of psoriasis in my usually-covered region, I sit around naked all day when I type this post.  Not true.  I suggested that for comedy value at the time.  Well, it’s mostly not true.  I don’t know how much you know about severe-plaque psoriasis, but it only flares up at times.  Some days, like today, a half hour in a steaming hot Sitz-bath with extra salt allows me to wear clothes for quite a while after.  So I merely exaggerated because I thought making you picture plump and pasty-skinned old me sitting around nude and typing a blog was funny… but… okay, maybe that was just weird.  Still, a good lie is always at least twelve cents better than the ugly truth. (I must note, the truth of this paragraph has changed since I originally wrote this post. Now I am more of a nudist and enjoy being naked while I type. But that now being a lie does not spoil the point of this essay.)

miltie 001
Millis 2
George Jetson

And the fact that my stories are filled with little-boy liars, giant rabbit-men who can talk and cook vegetables like people, and invading invisible alien frog-people, derives naturally from the fact that I have been a highly imaginative liar since childhood.  Just ask any of my grade school classmates.  I used to make them believe there was an evil clone Michael out there somewhere trying really, really hard to get me in trouble.  I told them that I was in contact with a race of blue-colored people that lived in an underground world deep beneath our little Iowa town.  I even showed them the knotty old stump that was the doorway to the tunnel that led to the Blue World.  Of course, the key was never available when I showed them. And my friends were not completely gullible.  In fact, I suspect that once in a while, they knew I was… lying.


Filed under humor, Paffooney, telling lies

Writing with Power

Troubled hearts can be soothed with words.  In 1Samuel 16:23 David plays the harp and his singing was a relief for Saul and the bad spirit departed from upon him.  In the same way, the written word can touch the soul of the reader and, like Saul, free the reader from the demons besetting him.  That is power.  That is responsibility.


Of course, I am the last person to claim that I can teach you to write with power… I can’t even claim that I can write with power myself.  But I know how to write well enough to make myself laugh, cry, and feel through my writing.  And occasionally someone else reads my writing and agrees.  Through years worth of being a writing teacher, I do have some thoughts about how it may be done.

First of all, I am not wrong to choose David’s harp playing, inspired by Jehovah as it was, as a metaphor for writing power.  It is in the very sounds of the words that a great deal of emotion and meaning is embedded.  One can evoke a very bitter and angry feeling by describing a cruel woman not as a “mean girl” but as one whose laughter is “like the crass cackling of devious old witch”.   Mean girl has too soft a labial sound, even with the hard g, to be as ugly and staccato as the repeated sounds added to the tch and the fact that “devious” comes so close to “devil”… a related word.  A happy feeling can be created by describing a smile as “a sudden sunburst of white teeth and happiness”.  That almost makes me laugh…unless you add “shark’s” between “white” and “teeth”… and then I am convinced I am about to be eaten.  The sounds in the description are like a sizzling burn that leads into the firework display at the end of the word “sunburst”.  To write with the music inherent in words, at some point you have to hear it out loud.  I always hear the words in my head when I write, spoken in a wide variety of voices.  But to truly get it right, I have to read aloud to hear with my ears… which I have already done three times to this paragraph alone.

In order to have power, writing must manipulate feelings.   I don’t mean by using the word “manipulate” that it is some sort of Machiavellian bad thing.  Simply put, a writer must control the feelings of the reader, not by sound alone, but by the depth of meaning of the words.  You must be able to weave a paragraph together not only with the simple meanings of the words themselves, but all the connotations and denotations in those words.  You must use metaphor and simile, comparison, allusion, and sensory details.  Ernest Hemingway had a working style almost completely devoid of metaphor and the writer’s own personal commentary… but that only worked because all his themes were about dispirited people suffering tragedy and loss and a pervasive sense of disconnectedness.  Hemingway is a powerful writer… but his books never make me laugh.  Purple prosey over-describers like Charles Dickens can make me laugh with a simple list of things.  “The boy’s desk had a nearly dry ink bottle, several pens that needed new nibs and were chewed about the grip, and a small stack of papers crammed full of ink drawings of skulls and skeletons.”   It is that last startling detail in the list that makes the mundane suddenly funny.

I suppose to do today’s topic true justice, I should write about it in book length.  There is so much more to say.  But I have bored you long enough for one post with writing nuts and bolts.  It is enough to say that I believe in the magic of words, and I think that if, like any good Dungeons and Dragons wizard, you study your books of magic long enough, you can soon be casting fireballs around the room made up of nothing but words.

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, writing, writing teacher

Wide-Eyed Wonder

bad dayThere is no doubt about it, being a writer is like getting naked in public.  It never used to really sink in before I published books, and when no one read my writing or listened to me when I talked.  Suddenly, I am being read… and even… frighteningly, being believed.Creativity

I now have 678 followers, a number of whom actually read and comment on my posts.  I do my best to entertain and make them laugh, but it is the nature of real writing that the contents of my life as a whole spill out for all to see.  I try to keep private things private, but it is becoming more and more obvious that I need a much bigger purple teddy bear.  Readers of my blog know that I was a public school teacher for thirty-one years.  They also know that I did not want to leave that job, but I have six incurable diseases and am a cancer survivor, and my health let me down.  They may also know that I was the victim of a sexual predator when I was a child and recovery has taken a lifetime… in fact, it is still going on.  They may know that my family life has become difficult because health issues affect an entire family, especially when the costs of care are turned into gigantic scary monsters by an increasingly greedy and corrupt health-care industry (not doctors and nurses. mind you, but the higher-ups who really make all the money off drugs, tech, and insurance.)   There are no longer skeletons in my closet.  All my darkest secrets become fuel for writing and bubble out of my cauldron, transforming into butterflies, who may have started as worms, but have worked themselves into filigreed winged creatures that flit about in the sunlight.  I turned one of my most horrible experiences into a post for https://www.facebook.com/groups/1000Speak/.  It was the story of Ruben Vela, and it was about my inability to prevent a tragedy.  Here is the link; When Compassion Fails.  Gobs of sobs from readers in the comment section.  I usually try to make them laugh… but crying is a part of the reading game too.

And where are the Trolls?  I see them on the internet everywhere.  I know other bloggers who have cut off comments because of Trolls.  They don’t seem to come around me with their leg-breaking, gut-busting insults and four-letter-wordy mayhem.  Do I not deserve that as much as anybody else?  But I know better than to actually wish for what I don’t really want.  It is okay, Trolls, if you decide you’d rather apply the soul-crushing efforts elsewhere.

The point is, while I have always wanted to be a writer and have some experience with naturists and nudists, I have never before now had to come to terms with dancing naked in the sunlight in front of God and everybody… but continuing to write means dealing with it now.

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, writing

Garrison Keillor

Sometimes it is good to acknowledge your influences and the people whose work has changed your life into what it now appears to be.  Such a person, a profound influence on my story-telling habits, is Garrison Keillor.

"GKpress" by Prairie Home Productions. Licensed under Attribution via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:GKpress.jpg#/media/File:GKpress.jpg

“GKpress” by Prairie Home Productions. Licensed under Attribution via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:GKpress.jpg#/media/File:GKpress.jpg

This man in the picture who looks like one of my relatives, is the story-teller, writer, and radio personality Garrison Keillor.

The only way to accurately explain this whole honorarium-business is to tell you a story…  You see, Great Grandma Hinckley, when she was reaching the tarnished end of her golden years, the latter part of her 90’s, the nearly-a-century mark, always called me “Donny”.  Apparently “Michael” was too hard a name to actually remember.  To be fair, though, it was my Uncle’s name, and I did look in the 1970’s very much like Uncle Don when he was a youth in the 1950’s.  And though Great Grandma had more great grandchildren to keep track of than “Carter had little liver pills,” she always knew that I was one of the smart ones.  When I graduated from high school I earned a full four-year scholarship from my dad’s company due to my high grades and test scores.  She was very proud of that fact.  She told all of her friends at the nursing home that of all of the awards presented at the senior awards assembly, I had won most of them.  This was not even remotely true, except when viewed through the smoky, rose-colored lens of great grandmother-hood, but it led to all the people at the home saying things like, “You must be Donny!  Congratulations on your great big brain!”  Some of them even knew already that my name was Michael.  Only now that I am getting old do I begin to understand old-people humor a bit better.

So, Great Grandma wanted to give me a really good graduation present.  She gave most of her obligatory grandkid presents as hand-crocheted Afghans in bright neon colors that were wildly mismatched because she was color blind.  But me, she gave me her radio.  Yes, a portable radio roughly the size of a large school lunchbox.  It was an RCA… that’s a brand of radio for you young whippersnappers who don’t know anything about what was irreplacebly good in the mid-20th Century.  It was one of the most valuable things she still owned, and the TV set was too big to take to college (thank goodness).  So I took that ultra-valuable old radio along to college to listen to music while I studied.  Dad had hooked me on classical music, so I listened to the Public Broadcasting channel KLYF in Des Moines.

That is how I came to be a fan of Garrison Keillor.  Every Saturday night, along about 7 p.m., KLYF broadcast another episode of A Prairie Home Companion.  I would listen to the gospel music and ads for Powdermilk Biscuits and gossip from the Chatterbox Cafe in Lake Wobegone, Minnesota.  And Garrison Keillor, old G.K., would tell stories about the doings in Lake Wobegone, his old (fictional) home town “Where all the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and the children are above average.”  It was there that I learned that every good story may ramble on a bit and have a long pause or two, or twenty, but always came to the point in the end.  I learned that from Garrison Keillor.  But I may owe a bit of that to Great Grandma Hinckley too.


Filed under autobiography, Garrison Keillor, humor

Working With Miss Morgan

Here is a sample from my work in progress, The Magical Miss Morgan.

Canto Nineteen – The Ghost House after Dark

“Bobby couldn’t make it,” said Frosty Anderson.  “He says he had chores.”

“We all know he’s afraid of the dark,” said Mike Murphy, lighting another candle.

“We shouldn’t make fun of him all the time,” reminded Blueberry, sitting next to Mike.  “It’s hard to get out of the house after dark to come here to an abandoned cellar in the middle of a junk yard.”

“Okay, we already know what Miss Morgan says about that,” said Tim.  “We have more important business tonight.”

“Worth getting grounded for a month for?” asked Mike.


The children all leaned toward Tim as he sat conspiratorially in the middle of the candlelit cellar of the ruined house.  Everyone wanted to know what the big reveal was going to be, and Tim was loving it.

“So what’s the big deal?” asked Frosty.

“You know the project about getting kids to believe in fairies?” said Tim.

“Yeah,” said Mike and Frosty as Blueberry nodded.

“There is a secret reason that Miss Morgan needs us to do that project.”

Tim picked up a shoebox and placed it on his knees in front of him.  He slowly lifted the lid.

“So?  An empty shoebox?” sneered Mike.

“Oh, my!”  Blueberry’s eyes got as big as Tim could ever remember seeing them.

“This is Garriss,” said Tim simply, “he’s an elemental fire fairy.”

“I’m a Wisp,” croaked the little naked fire man.

“Cool!” gasped Frosty.

“He looks more like hot,” noted Mike.

“Is he real?” asked Blueberry stupidly.

“Don’t you believe your own eyes?” asked Tim.

“Don’t be rude to the beautiful young lady,” warned Garriss.

“Can I hold him?” Blueberry asked timidly.

“You’ll burn your hands,” said Mike.

“No, you won’t,” said Garriss.  “I am more than willing to be held by you, Pretty Miss.  And I promise, you can’t be hurt by my magical fire.”

Blueberry put out her open palm, and the little man formed of fire stepped gingerly into it.  The girl lifted him up in front of her face.

“You’re made of fire…  And you’re naked,” said Blueberry.

“I am a magical being,” said Garriss, “and I need you to believe I am real, for I will not continue to exist otherwise.”

“So,” said Mike, “you are only real if we believe in you?”


“If I say I don’t believe in fairies, will you die?”

“Can you see me standing in front of you and still say you don’t believe?” asked Garriss.

“Good point,” answered Mike.

“If we are going to help the fairy people of Tellosia,” said Tim, “I had to show you they are real.  We can’t risk showing the real fairies to everyone, though.  We have to come up with ways to make people believe without actually showing them.”

“Why can’t we just show everybody?” said Mike.  “We could take a picture and show everybody!”

“Please, don’t do that,” pleaded Garriss.  “Someone might disbelieve their own eyes, and then I, and maybe others, would actually die.”

“Oh, we can’t let that happen!” cooed Blueberry.  “Garriss?  Will you let me draw your picture with colored pencils?”

“I would be honored, my lady.”

“This is all just too wonderful to be real,” Blueberry said.

Tim nodded in silence.  They would generate the belief that was needed,  Blueberry’s drawings would do it, if anything could.  That girl could really whip pencils around and make good art.

“We have to swear a Pirate oath,” said Tim.  “We all swear to make people believe and keep the real fairies safe from discovery and death.  If we fail, then may our human hearts shrivel up and we all die an untimely death.”

“I swear it,” said Blueberry.

“If Blue does,” said Mike, “then so do I.”

“Me too,” said Frosty.

“And you have my word on it too,” said Garriss.

Tim grinned an evil grin.  This was gonna be great.


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Sean “Cudgel” Murphy




The kind of writing I do requires a special class of character that I refer to as a clown. I revealed one already that I used in my novel Snow Babies, that character is the unsuccessful businessman Harker Dawes. He is a pratfall clown, the kind used in Three Stooges movies. He is the subject of numerous physical abuses from other characters and from his own incompetent hand. He is funny because he always seems to survive these terrible episodes, and we are really, really glad that we are not him.
The second clown from Snow Babies, and also used in the novel I am now writing, The Bicycle Wheel Genius, is a dirty old man named Cudgel Murphy. He is a Mrs. Malaprop sort of character who says things that are wickedly mistaken, but not totally unintentional. He loves to drink (drinks other than water, coffee, or sodapop), and what he drinks makes him less than sociable. His is Irish by ancestry and by temperament. He is quick to fight, and slow to forgive, but able to laugh at himself when he discovers he is in the wrong. He loves to fight verbally with his daughter-in-law, Mary Murphy, and adores her children, his grandchildren, particularly Danny Murphy and little sister Dilsey.
The great love of his life was not his wife, who apparently died fairly young as a way of escaping the evil old man. It was instead a car, a 1955 Austin Hereford, an English-made car that Cudgel routinely says is, “the finest car made anywhere in the world in 1955.” She is his baby, and he keeps her running for more than thirty years despite driving her far too fast, too far, and with all sorts of evil brews in her gas tank in place of normal gasoline.
The Paffooney shows the evil old man posing with his wonder-car in front of the Congregational Church in Norwall, Iowa. His face, though unnaturally red by both liquid and temperamental fire looks far more innocent and harmless that it really is. One never knows for sure what is on his scrappy old mind, but you can be sure it will turn out to be funny in one way or another.
Clowns are essential to the kind of fiction I like to write. Sean “Cudgel” Murphy is a good one of those. So good, in fact, I may have to kill him off in the current book. He has a tendency to take over the story and make himself a hero.


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The Wizard’s Magical Tomes



For the last 25 years of my life, I have been laboring to create hand-made books filled with my magical research and spells.  The two in the back are scrapbooks filled with printed images, drawings, poems, and short autobiographical compositions.  I collect in them things I mean to weave into fiction, things I mean to use as models for artwork.  The two in the foreground are completely cartoon stories in rough draft form.  These are not books I ever mean to have published.  They are filled with things I intend to use in my work at some future time.  Many of these images and poems I have used already somewhere.  But there are many, many more.  That makes these tomes something of a treasure… at least to me.

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June 24, 2014 · 4:07 pm

That Silly Old Writer, Me!



I was invited to take part in the “My Writing Process” blog tour by a fellow young adult fiction writer, Stuart West.  (https://stuartrwest.blogspot.com)  Stuart is the author of the Tex, the Witch Boy series of paranormal YA thrillers.  He is something of a mentor to me, and easily the best published author I am personally acquainted with.  Before you take me seriously, you should definitely check out his blog.

For this little exercise, I have to answer four questions, then invite three other authors to do the same.  I’m a little slow on getting others to agree to this plan, but I am shameless when it comes to opportunities to talk about my own writing.  I will post the three authors later this week, after I am done begging and bribing.  

Step 1: Acknowledge the person and the blog site that invited you to take part.

As you can see, I’ve done that above, but here is the second mention; Stuart R. West .  (https://stuartrwest.blogspot.com

Step 2: Answer four questions about your writing process.
1)      What am I working on?
2)       How does my work differ from others of its genre?
3)       Why do I write what I do?
4)       How does your writing process work?

  1. What I am working on now is a story that is sequel-requel-prequel to my novel Catch a Falling Star.  That means that it uses characters from that novel, a bunch of new ones, and some from other stories of mine as well to tell what happened before that novel, during that novel, and after that novel.  Silly plan!  Believe me, I realize that while sweating over re-quel details (a phrase that here means a retelling of parts of that novel – I do also realize I stole this particular conceit from Lemony Snicket).  The book will be called The Bicycle Wheel Genius about a scientist who is a super-genius inventor trying to live incognito in a little Iowa farm town after leaving government service.  He is trying to live down a family tragedy while at the same time befriending the boy next door, avoiding government agents and assassin robots, dealing with an alien invasion by invisible alien frog people,  juggling time travelers, creating rabbit-men, and engineering old-fashioned high-wheel bicycles. 
  2. How does my work differ?  You have to ask?  Unlike all the careful plotters, step-by-step writing crafters, and picky editor types out there, I put words and ideas in a blender, mix on the “Are you insane?” setting, and then let it all come pouring out into pages and scenes and chapters (although I call them cantos for some bizarre reason).  I also have to admit that I base a lot of my characters on real people that I either grew up with in Iowa, or met over my thirty plus years as a mostly middle school teacher.  And these stories have percolated in my head for twenty to thirty years.  Did I mention already that I am not a person who thinks in straight lines?  You can tell by the shifts, reverses, and loopty-loops in this paragraph that much of what I call humor comes from my purple paisley prose (a phrase which here means overly ornate, wordy, and down-right convoluted sentences and paragraphs).  (Thanks again, Lemony).
  3. Why do I write it?  Let me think.  Could it be because teaching middle school students for too long leads to insanity, and if the insane are going to be useful in society, they have to do something at least mildly interesting for people who live in the real world?  I mean, if I just sit in a room all day drooling and counting and re-counting my Pez dispenser collection, that wouldn’t be entirely helpful.   Writing honors all the people I have known, alive and now departed, who touched my life and made a difference to my heart.  It also helps me make sense of things that have happened to me over time and shaped me as person… hopefully a person you might like to get to know.  And you can know a person through their writing long after they are personally worm food.  How could I live without Mark Twain or Charles Dickens in my life, and both were dead long before I was born?  And I know you’re going to ask yourself what makes me think that other people couldn’t live their lives better without knowing me?  But don’t ask.  I have developed a certain amount of wisdom over the course of my life, and I know I really don’t want an answer to that question.
  4. How does my writing process work?  I have taught the writing process in the classroom so many times, that the only answer I am still sane enough to give is that everyone’s process is entirely different.  I can, however, drop an insight or two on you.  First of all, everything I have ever written is still a part of what I call Prewriting… with a capital P.  Everything ever written can be rewritten and improved.  Secondly, it is important to re-read what you write.  I hate typos and mistakes in what is supposed to be “finished” writing.  It is the reason I hate the entire experience of my first published novel, Aeroquest.    That writing will never be okay until I have a chance to re-write it and re-tell it and re-everything it.  Dang it.  Thirdly, you must carefully consider who to allow to have input on your rough draft and re-worked copies.  Even some professional editors don’t bother to try to see things in a way that reflects the fact that they care about what you have written.  You need someone on your side to share it, and love it, and cherish it the way you do.  Only that person will give you input that is worth listening to.  Fourthly, if you reach fourthly your list is too dang long.  And finally, publish it.  Share it.  Don’t put it away in a drawer for the mice and spiders to read when you are long gone. 

So, Stuart, how did I do?  I hope at least it proves what you have known all along.  That Mickey guy writes like his hair is on fire and his pants are unraveling… in front of girls.

(Three writers to be named later will take up this same blog tour… I hope.)

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Star Dancing with Lizard People



the picture above : Davalon and Farbick near Mars (by Leah Cim Reyeb)

I am constantly bubbling over with ridiculous ideas and dreams.  After writing the book Catch a Falling Star, I was asked by an editor what happens next to some of the characters.  The Morrell family, changed into children, travel into space with the Tellerons aboard Xiar’s Base Ship.  Harmony Castille, the elderly church lady who falls in love with the Telleron Commander Biznap marries him and travels with the aliens too.  The task; find a new home world and start a mixed civilization.  Since the aliens have no inherent religion or morality, it falls to the humans on board to make Christian values the norm for the Telleron frog people.  That is a challenge old church ladies can’t resist, but also can’t manage without help.

So what can I do with this story?  Where can it go?  I am trying to build my work in fiction around certain rules or boundaries that will give it the consistency and power that I need to achieve with my work.  Well, the biggest rule is that all my stories have to fit like puzzle pieces into the entire picture, an imaginary history of the universe centered on the little town where I grew up.  Space empires in the future, time travelers popping in and out freely, and imaginary breakthroughs in physics, astrophysics, and various sciences cannot be allowed to interfere with the unified history of the future of the galaxy.  I know how silly this sounds, but silly rules inform the under-structure of all reality.  How else can you explain things like the politics of Texas?  Further, I adhere to other silly rules.  It must be science fiction or fantasy.  It must also be humor.  And the most important characters are always children.

So what will this book I am planning be like?  Well, first of all, there must be strong elements of science fiction.  Of course, silly me, my heroes are on a starship looking for a new home-world.  You can’t get too much more science-fictiony than that.  But I have been overwhelmed with internet researches of late into the looniest of the internet conspiracy theories.  Besides my obsessions with who killed JFK and what really happened on 9/11, I have also found cartoon characters like Alex Jones (the conspiracy world’s version of Elmer Fudd on PCP and prodded to ridiculous levels of vitriolic-aggressive anger management failures) speaking about lizard men from outer space who have taken to controlling our government by shape-changing and masquerading as Hilary Clinton.  Whew!  Humor is a breeze!  All I have to do is set my lost space-colony down on the hostile, warlike world of the space lizards, the world of Galtorr Prime.  The science fiction is then firmly grounded in the pseudo-science of paranoid madmen.  And, joyfully, further research into the lizard people trying to take over earth will be justified by the creation of this book.  Who knows?  I may actually uncover their secrets in real life!

The humor, as I already indicated, is built in.  Warlike lizards who want only to conquer and destroy!  And don’t forget, this will be set on their war-torn home world.  The satire is set.  I will be writing political satire about Republicans and Democrats.  Hot dang!  And I can depict crazy folk who would gleefully destroy their own government and their own environment in order to spite their worst enemies, who are thankfully not us, but themselves.  I can continue to describe the battle between good and evil in my book in the same religious terms I have always tried to use.  It is not good against evil as much as it is Love against Heartlessness.   All good comedy, from Mark Twain, to Charles Dickens, to Terry Pratchett, to Douglas Adams, is precisely about that.  (Of course it will mean more of the run-on sentences, multi-adjectival descriptions, and infantile allusions and metaphors that I always use in my signature purple-paisley prose.)

And finally, I have the characters already fairly well set.  Davalon, the boy Telleron explorer, his nestmate/sister Tanith, their friend and mentor Farbick, Davalon’s adopted child-parents Alden and Gracie Morell, and the crew of Xiar the Slightly Irregular’s whole wacky starship are already living and arguing in my head.  Of course, the moldy underwear and dirty dishes in my head are not a particularly good thing.  When will fictional characters ever learn to clean up after themselves?  Only time will tell.

So there you have it, an entire book idea that came into being in the last week and a half.  It will be interesting to chronicle the progression and creation of it.  Will it actually get written?  Will it take twenty-two years the way Catch a Falling Star did?   Will it be worth doing more with than merely writing it and then burning it to save future generations from reading it and burdening themselves with the corrosive insanity it will most likely cause?  Well, please, don’t bet any actual money on it.  Imaginary or funny-money will be good enough.  



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