Working on Snow Babies

I really don’t have to put very much into this blog since most of my 500 words are already taken up with novel editing.  So I will just put in a few comments on this novel that has consumed me since 2012.   It is called Snow Babies Val at the barn

because it is basically about lost children and a blizzard that threatens to take them away completely.  Now, there are fantasy creatures in the story, child-like ghost-things that come in the teeth of the blizzard to take away the souls of those who die in the cold.  But the title actually refers more to the child characters in the story, Valerie Clarke (as seen above) and the four runaways from the Trailways bus.  It is a story of survival during a blizzard, and survival when you have lost the ones you love.  It is also a story of quilts… patchwork quilts… of many colors and varieties all stitched together seemingly at random.  Because that is what life is like.  Random stuff.  Stitched together…to make something beautiful that can save your life in the cold.

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This novel was submitted in manuscript form to the Chanticleer Book Reviews novel writing contest for Young Adult fiction.  The contest is called the Dante Rosetti Awards as seen in this logo.  The book didn’t win, but of the many manuscripts submitted it made it all the way through to the final cut and was a finalist in the contest.

I am currently working with editor Jessie Cornwell of PDMI Publishing to get the book ready for print.  I hope to have it published soon.  Clay Gilbert, Managing Editor of PDMI LLC recently did a profile on me because of my upcoming book.  Here is the link for that;

Portals and Pathways by Clay Gilbert

Let me leave you with a look at the frost spirits from my novel.

7snowbabiesAI hope you don’t feel hopelessly mooned by that, because there are worse things that Snow Babies can do than that.

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Being Old Enough to Know Better…

I am the man from the Setting Sun,

Come to the future to deliver the past.

What does that even mean, that silly little two-line poem I wrote twenty years ago?  Am I not old enough to know better than to create a snippet loaded with goofy contradictions?  Apparently not.  But I am old enough to deliver the past.  I have been around long enough that I remember when President Kennedy was assassinated.  I saw Neil Armstrong take that “small step for man” on the surface of the moon.  I have learned a number of lessons from the past.  And as a writer, I can deliver those lessons in the form of stories.  I was born in a different century.  I have been around for more than half of one… approaching two thirds.  I have collected all kinds of wonderful things in my goofy old brain.  And make no doubt about it, with six incurable diseases and being a cancer survivor since 1983, my Sun is about the set.  So, I have a mission, to open the eyes of people who are too foolish to avoid listening to what I have to say, or to read what I have written.

I saw The Sound of Music starring Julie Andrews in the Cecil Theater in Mason City, Iowa in 1965 when I was not yet ten years old.  I heard the song My Favorite Things for the very first time on the old black and white Motorola TV set in the clip I posted at the start of this post.  Kukla, Fran, and Ollie was a puppet show I never missed on Saturdays if I could help it.  In a world before video games and computers and even color TV, kids still had priorities.  And my world was definitely a world of imagination.

Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Moose

Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Moose

Fess Parker as Davy Crockett, and then as Daniel Boone

Fess Parker as Davy Crockett, and then as Daniel Boone

Paul Winchell with Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff

Paul Winchell with Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff

So, what kind of knucklehead must I be to think younger folks would want to know about any of this stuff from the time of dinosaurs and black-and-white TV?  I write books that are basically genre-breakers and about way too many different things to make sense to adults.  As a result, I classify myself as a Young Adult novelist, a writer for children… but not the beginning reader kind, or the early chapter-book kind… the kind like Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, Light in the Forest, or Dicey’s Song.  I write books about what it was like to be a kid in the past… the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s… last century.  And I have some knowledge and expertise in this area because I was one of those teachers during that time period that got to know the kids in my classes.  I made the horrifying mistake of actually talking to kids, asking them about their lives, and listening to their answers.  I talked about all manner of things with all manner of kids… brilliant things and stupid things… with dumb kids, smart kids, smelly kids, charming kids, and the kids everybody else hated.  You know… I did all the stupid mistakes that teachers who have no earthly idea how to do discipline would do, and got those kids to learn to behave at least halfway like human beings by being somebody they trusted and respected and… on rare occasions… believed.  Right now I am working on Snow Babies.  It is set in 1984.  And I hope to be good enough of a Sunset Man to be able to deliver it to the future.

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Filed under humor, NOVEL WRITING, oldies

Minions (the Movie Review)

If I were going to say it in Minion-speak, I would say, “Bwayno!  Eebee da Minion apatoy tu La Mancha!  King Bob!”  Which sums up my entire movie review.  So, there.  Now I am done.

This is my lame attempt at copyright infringement... also known as "fan art".

This is my lame attempt at copyright infringement… also known as “fan art”.

Seriously the movie is a non-stop slapstick and funny-punny carnival ride.  And Bob is featured in this movie as the over-eager, reluctant adventurer who eventually becomes the rightful King of England.  (Oops!  I had promised myself to write no spoilers that weren’t in Minion-speak.  Oh, well…  Oopsie, again!)

So now you know why I posted such a pitiful excuse for a humor post yesterday… I took my family to the movies.  Did you know the Minion language uses Tagalog words?  My wife and in-laws are from the Philippines, so they recognized a number of Tagalog and Spanish words.  They didn’t much get the jokes, though.  The humor was apparently too sophisticated… or they were.  They did appreciate all the nice explosions, though.

So, another lame humor post today… two in a row, in fact… because I was busy yesterday and lazy today.  And don’t accuse me of building up to things by dropping hints about what I am going to be writing about next in today’s post.  I am definitely not doing that because I am too busy now with Snow Babies, having got it back from the editor this morning with a number of revisions to make.  I am working on those revisions this afternoon.  So don’t bug me about it.  Wait… wrong cliche for a comedy romance novel about freezing to death.  How about, don’t snow on my parade?  No?  Oh, well… goofy is as goofy does.  Go see the movie.  It’s goofy.  And if you’ve already seen it, then see it again.  Slapstick jokes about losing your pants never get old.

This is what my Minions picture would've looked like in the 1960's when the world was black and white.

This is what my Minions picture would’ve looked like in the 1960’s when the world was black and white.

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Filed under humor, movie review, Paffooney

Cooking More Futzbatter

minions6“What’s this with the made up words thing?  You can’t just make up words!”

“Why not?  I’m an English teacher.  Who better to make up words?”

“But you are making up nonsense words, and using them to make fun of Iowegians!  That’s, like, racist or something!”

“Iowegians is a made up word.  It is a play on Norway, Ioway, and Norwegian… and because a lot of white people in Iowa are of Scandahoovian descent.”

“See what I mean?  Racist!  Scandahoovian makes fun of people of Norse descent.  That is totally unacceptable!”

“I don’t see it that way.  I think we Iowegians should own it.   You know, like the way Texas rednecks are proud to be called rednecks.  I think that’s far more racist than saying Iowegian or Scandahoovian.”

“Why are we even talking about this?  Why couldn’t you have just posted more about your goofy flowers?  You have a lot more flower pictures you could use.”

“Yesterday was just a scrapbook sort of entry.  I wanted to post a variety of different things to fill space and waste time.  My writing goals were already completed for the day yesterday.  My novel is at 39,565 words right now.”

“But why did you have to make up gibberish words?  Don’t you know enough real words?”

“My Uncle Everett used to use Foobah when he was around the womenfolk so he didn’t say the word he was really thinking and offend Grandma Beyer.  That kinda makes it a real word.  And you’ve heard me say Futzbatter before.  It is a word like Paffooney… something I have used enough that you know what it means without even asking.”

“But what gives you the right to make up words?”

“What gave William Shakespeare the right?  Or Lewis Carroll?  Remember Jabberwocky?”

“But they were famous writers.  They probably earned that right.”

“I’m a writer too.  Are you saying I shouldn’t do what great writers do?”

“But your not a great…  Republican… yes, I meant to say Republican.”

“I’m not a Republican at all.  I’m an independent liberal.  I’m a progressive.  I believe we need to change things to make the world a better place for all of us.  Using new words and changing the language can’t be that bad a thing, can it?”

“We aren’t talking about politics!  We’re talking about you making up weird-sounding goofus-doofus words and using them like they actually mean something!  You can’t love the language and change it at the same time!”

“Why not?  You just did.”

“I did?  How?”

“What does goofus-doofus mean?”

“OH!  Darn it!  Don’t you see what you are doing to me with all your nonsense?  You’re making me talk funny too!”

“Speaking of funny talking, do you want to see the new Minions movie with me this afternoon?  It is playing at 3:25 at the Webb-Chapel Cinemark 17.  There’s a lot of funny talking in that.”

“Dang it!  You just posted the time and place you are planning to be.  What if that lunatic Winchuk boy decides he wants to use the information to get even with you for his entire seventh-grade year?”

“No chance of that.  He can’t read… or tell time.  He had me for a teacher.”

At that point the logical left side of my brain doubled up both of his fists and belted the creative right side of my brain in the chin as hard as he could.  Of course, that didn’t hurt at all, because both of his fists are metaphorical.  What a futzing foobah!

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Updating Futzbatter and Foohbah Recipes

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Having already written well over a thousand words today on a different writing project, I don’t really have to worry about length on this one.  But it is intended to be a scrapbook piece anyway.  Thing #1 is the completion of a mini-collection.  I now have all three of the main Minions from the new Minions movie.  From left to right are Kevin, Stuart, and Bob posing for their picture with their fully pose-able arms in the middle of Cardboard Castle.  There are still many many many Minions left to collect, but the first three are the most important bit… I think.

Galtorr Primexvx

I have now reached the climax of the plot in my Sci-fi novel Stardusters and Space Lizards.  I am at that moment in the story when characters, even the most important main characters, may die.  I know, in fact, because of the ending that already exists that some of the main characters will die.  I am not entirely certain that I know which ones yet.  The three I have portrayed here are (left to right again because I am an English speaker/reader and horribly addicted to the same-old same-old) George Jetson, Davalon, and Sizzahl the Lizard Girl.  At least one of them has to die for the plot to work out.  But which one?  I am deeply in love with all three.

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My experimental flower wagon has been producing blossoms, but only one at a time.  Each one blooms, I take a picture of it, and then the hot Texas sun burns the poor thing to blazes, and I have to wait for the next one to appear.

20150706_143002

And finally, I think I need to define the two Mock-Iowegian words in my title today.  Mock-Iowegian (as I am sure you are bright enough to already realize) is a made-up language spoken by Iowan farm folks in Mickian fiction where the object is to capture their eccentricities and mock them ferociously because I love them.  Futzbatter… noun, meaning things that are fudged or made up on the spur of the moment and mixed together into the overall plan (or impending disaster… depending on the situation).  Foohbah… noun, meaning something you tell a fool and expect him to believe, as in a honking-big-fish story, and nobody else will contradict for fear the fool the speaker is trying pull a foohbah on is the hearer, and they don’t want to let on that the foohbah-teller laying the big, fat, hairy foohbah on the group is talking about them, and they are only feebly trying to stop him.

So, there you have it… almost 500 words in spite of myself.

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A Letturr to the NRA

(This is satire… so, all you redneck friends of mine… don’t holler “YES!  He finally sees the light!”  Because I am being ironic, and trying to make fun of all the sensible and right-thinking things you believe, and cannot ever give up trying to make me believe also.)

rubber gun duel

Dear Mr. Wayne LaPierre,

You has done got the rite ideer about guns.  I agree whole-heartedly with all the love in my little black one-hunnert per cent ‘Merican heart that the only answer to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a bigger ‘n better gun.  My name is Lester Winchuk, and I is a good, God-fearin’ Texas good-ol’-boy.  And I have bigger ‘n better guns.  Now, my main guvvenner, the great an’ honorable Rick Perry of the grand State of Texas (may God ever bless her little black one-hunnert per cent ‘Merican heart) has suggested on the Fox News that since some of them insane mass-shooter dudes likes to go inta movie theeatters and shoot them up some innocent people, we all otter be takin’ our beloved guns to the movies with us so we can pertekt ourselfs and the other folk too.  In fact, I like the ideer of taking my bigger ‘n better guns to the movies with me.  I jes’ might need to shoot some folks when that there Minions movie plays at the dollar movies in Laredo.

We still has three of these here dis-integrator gun thingies left from the last alien invasion of South Texas, for sale cheap!

We still has three of these here dis-integrator gun thingies left from the last alien invasion of South Texas, for sale cheap!

I does has one question, though.  How does you aim proper at the bad guy’s haid or heart in a dark ol’ movie theeatter?  Does you has to wait for a daylight scene in the movie so you can draw a proper bead on the monkey-flipper?  (I doesn’t mean to actually say monkey-flipper, but I doesn’t know how to spell whut I actually mean, and thass the best the spell-checker thingy can do for me.)  I would like to suggest a common-sense solution to this problem.  I find that if you plug two or three… or six of the folks in the dark where you heard the first dang-old gun shots coming from, you will probably get him.  And gettin’ that old perpetraitor is the main and most important thing, right?  My brother Wayne (not actually named after you, but you is welcomed to be flattered by it) says maybe you shouldn’t plug any of the littler ones in case they may be innocent children or something… but I says, well, the shooter might be a midget, right?

I does has one old idjit English teacher, Mr. Beyer, who tole me I has gots to be more careful with my beloved guns.  He seems to think that whut I thinks about guns is somewhat downright immoral or some such nonsense.  But I tells him, I is always veeery careful with my beloved, bigger ‘n better guns.  In all my years of carrying my guns everywhere I goes, even into the showers at the campgrounds we uses for our Confederate Social Club meetin’, they ain’t never gotten one ding-dang little ol’ rust spot or scratch on any of ’em.

This lettur was lovingly and carefully writ to you by,

Lester D. Winchuk, son of South Texas…

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, satire, Texas

Astroboy and His Better World

Here is the finished Astroboy Paffooney.

Here is the finished Astroboy Paffooney.

When I was a boy in Iowa, growing up in the 1960’s, I remember being seriously infected by the notion that true heroes were like Astroboy.  I watched the show on a black and white Motorola TV every day at four after we got home from school.  Astro could fly.  He was super-strong.  He could battle the evil monsters and machine men from my worst nightmares and always come out the winner.  And though he was a robot, he was a boy like me.  I thought a lot about Astroboy and I played Astroboy games with my friend Lester in our back yard.  The theme song played over and over in my head.

The Astroboy March
Music by Tatsuo Takei; Lyrics by Don Rockwell
Astroboy
There you go, Astroboy, on your flight into space.
Rocket hi—-gh, through the sk—-y
For adventures soon you will face.
Astroboy bombs away,
On your mission today,
Here’s the count—-down,
And the blast—-off,
Everything is go, Astroboy!
Astroboy, as you fly,
Strange new worlds you will spy,
Atom ce—-lled, jet pro—-pel—-led
Fighting monsters high in the sky,
Astroboy, there you go, will you find friend or for,
Cosmic ran—-ger, laugh at dan—-ger, everything is go, Astroboy!
Crowds will cheer you, you’re a he—-ro, as you go, go, go, Astroboy!

What can I say?  I was a stupid child with an imagination easily manipulated by television.  My world consisted of Astroboy every afternoon, Red Skelton on Wednesday nights, and Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday evenings.  I cried for the Astroboy characters who sometimes suffered and died during the adventure.  I cringed when Astrogirl stumbled into danger.  But I knew in my stupid heart that everything would be all right in the end.

When President Kennedy was murdered, or when the Apollo Astronauts burned, I didn’t really feel those events.  I still thought a happy ending would come to save the day.  I believed that I had the power to make things right the way Astroboy did.  I was doomed to learn the hard way.

I had heard from my friends about weird things that a fifteen-year-old neighbor would do sometimes.  I understood that he liked to “do things” to younger boys.  I should have been scared to death of him.  But, the cosmic ranger laughs at danger.  I was ten when he caught me near his yard.  He forced me down into a hidden place behind a pile of old truck tires.  He got my pants and underpants down and forced me to stop fighting.  I remember it as pain and shame and horror.  It was a monster I never dreamed of, and no one came to my rescue.

We used to believe that the future held undiscovered treasures and wonder.  We believed that when a hero was needed, one would always step forward.  I wanted to be that hero.  I would go forward, however, wondering if it all led to an unhappy ending.  “Crowds will cheer you, you’re a hero, as you go, go, go, Mickeyboy!

(I should confess that this is an old post written in 2007.  It was at a time when I was finally ready and able to  talk about what happened to me 40 years before.  My attacker has since died of a heart attack, and though he was never held accountable for his actions, I have forgiven him.  What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?  Strong like Astroboy.)

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, humor, Paffooney, Uncategorized