The Lucky Lad

adventures in dysthymia

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Who Are Those Folk?

For any who might have wondered, the girl Um-um-um and her people, the 'First Children,' whom I introduced in the second Malvern novel, 'Valley of Visions,' are Homo heidelbergensis folk. Or something close to that, in that we are in another world. I did choose to regard them as 'fully human' in the sense that they could interbreed with modern Homo sapiens.

Incidentally, the Dwarfs first introduced in 'The Ways of Wizardry' but hinted at in other novels are essentially Neanderthals. Small Neanderthals. There are other Dwarf 'races'—as well as the related Trolls—that may show up in future stories.

Oh, and the wizard Hurasu, also in 'Valley of Visions, and a traveler from one of those other worlds, was left rather nebulous in any racial or ethnic sense. But from the description of his appearance one might assume he was vaguely Mid-Eastern. I made his native tongue seem related to Etruscan, so take that as you will.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Projects, Computers, Hair

My latest novel, the ‘fantasy adventure’ WOMAN OF THE SKY, was officially released yesterday, March 10. It was generally available everywhere by then, at our own shop, at online retailers, etc. The date was just to have a release date. WOTS is the third and final installment of my Mora Trilogy (which followed the events of the Malvern Trilogy, set in the same time and place). If I write more stories set in the Mora world, it will be a couple years down the line — there are no ideas burning to be put into words right now (though I have a good idea where I would go, when I get to it).

So, what are my current projects? I am still plugging along on ASANAS, my mainstream-ish attempt (It might even be styled ‘women’s fiction’). It has been neglected the last couple works as I needed to turn my attention elsewhere. Fear not, I shall finish off the fourth and last section reasonably soon. In that I have the story all plotted out, it becomes a bit of paint-by-numbers at this point, which makes it more difficult to remain interested!

Beyond that, I am jotting down ideas and passages and so on for the sequel to THE EYES OF THE WIND. The continued story of Marana and Saj will be titled THE JEWELS OF THE ELEMENTS and it is likely that it will be the only other novel that focuses on the pair. Their children are another matter. As usual, I am ‘building’ the novel in an almost Nabokov-like manner, and do not sit down and write a linear first draft — by the time I have a draft narrative it has undergone lots of revision and rewriting. In essence, it is what most would probably call their second draft.

One of the things that has been taking up my time is getting the recording space (dare I say studio?) back into operation. That included getting a new computer set up and, as long as I was at it, I moved everything around! Actually, I moved the PC I bought for the office a couple months ago; that had always been my intention as it was better suited to the role, a fast i7-powered machine with lots of ram. Now I have a Xeon-powered PC in the office for graphics and probably some of my writing. Pretty powerful too but not quite as fast. Different needs for different jobs.

Anyway, I do hope to get some recording done in time. Shoot, I hope to get lots of things done in time. I still have time, I think! I’m not young but I am in excellent physical shape (though that can be deceiving, I know), the leanest I have been in my life and more muscular than most  guys half my age. Maybe even a third my age. I’m hiking 10K a couple times a week, still lift weights pretty much every day.

And I’ve let my hair grow back out to head-banger length. As they say, if you’ve got it, flaunt it. And if you’ve still got it at my age, flaunt it all the more!

Monday, March 05, 2018

Book Release and Freebie

My latest fantasy adventure, Woman of the Sky, is out officially this Saturday, March 10. To mark the occasion, I and Arachis Press are doing a giveaway of the first book  in the Mora Trilogy, God of Rain. More info at:

Onshore, a poem


The wind had come onshore
and we could peddle home,
breeze at our backs, the rain
following behind.

It swept us on, that breeze;
it whispered how the day
ever grows forgetful
of morning’s every promise.

Out over swamp and prairie
built the towering dark
of distant afternoons —
remembered, now, remembered

in dream of slabs of storm,
summer’s lightning licking
along our gray horizons.
Remembered, as a sun

that called us to the now
empty rain-swept beaches.
Our past has its own paths
through other afternoons;

it will not be found
along those ways, beneath
the palms that swayed so when
the wind had come onshore.

Stephen Brooke ©2018

Another of those poems that harks back to my younger days along the Gulf coast in SW Florida. I should probably be working on the novel instead of writing these!

Thursday, March 01, 2018

A Narrative, a poem

A Narrative

As you slip into my past, you become
a character in a book, someone I read
about, long ago. I have built
a narrative around you, remembering
those words, that look, discarding
the random parts that no longer
hold meaning. Could I have written you,
in idle moments? Are you the print
on my pages, the changeless black and white
I chose? I read, from time to time,
and know it is only a story, and that
perhaps some day I shall get
around to crafting a happy ending.

Stephen Brooke ©2018

I first wrote a version of this last year as  a sort of vignette or even prose poem. This may or may not be the final form (or something close to it).

My Rendezvous, a poem

My Rendezvous

If I daydream of a threesome —
me and the co-anchor and the weather girl —
it is meaningless and, as they say,

only human. Hey, I’m older
than the two of them put together.
That won’t keep me from tuning in

at Five-thirty every evening,
though I could watch reruns of Xena
then. She and Gabrielle certainly work too.

Stephen Brooke ©2018

pretty obviously (I should hope) not serious poetry

Online Promotion

Facebook and Twitter are fairly useless for authors and publishers. This is not to say they should be avoided utterly, just that it does not pay to spend a lot of time (and certainly no money) on them. If one already has fans, it is good to have a presence for them, but let’s face it — a writer does not have that many interesting announcements to make. It’s not like being a musician who announces gigs regularly.

Instagram? Pretty much the same as Twitter and Facebook, it would seem. I have never used Instagram because I have neither a smart phone nor do I take many pictures. Tumblr might be a little better. Not much, but a little. It is a place one can post writing samples and that sort of thing. Again, it is more for the fans one might already have; don’t expect Tumblr to drive book sales. Pinterest might be fun but not much for promotion. I dropped my account after ‘pinning’ for a couple years.

I might just drop Twitter too. I haven’t the time nor interest to post interesting stuff there. My ‘personal account’ is supposed to be for the music career but there’s nothing happening there. The Arachis Press account has the occasional publishing announcement that is probably of little interest to anyone.

So what works better than these? I suspect an old fashioned email list might. Not sure about that but it’s one way of actually getting information to potential readers/buyers. A website and a blog are definitely important. One needs a searchable presence, a place where any interested person can find out about you, your books, your life.

YouTube is certainly useful, assuming one has compelling content to post. I’ve put up book trailers in the past (with my own music) but they haven’t attracted much attention. They were probably too long for the slide show format I used, and did not hold viewers’ interest. I will continue there, and with various sites where I can post audio (Reverbnation, etc.).

These latter are, of course, more useful for a musician than for a writer. If one is both, the two can (at least theoretically) cross-promote. Like the music? See my book. And vice versa. My niece, ‘Mean Mary’ James has certainly sold way more books because of her music (and hugely successful YouTube presence) than she would have otherwise. I should undoubtedly spend more time on music — not that I have anywhere near her level of talent!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Released fromo the Pen Name

I have been debating for a while whether to release the next novel under a pen name. This will be a mainstream-ish effort that veers somewhat toward ‘women’s fiction.’ So I considering publishing under a woman’s name.

But I might as well own up to having written it. It’s not my first book written from a female point of view, after all. Not that I was so concerned about that — it was more that the bulk of my work is fantasy and much of that fairly light. I recognize now, however, that the tone of the new novel is not so different from my Cully Beach books (which are also ‘contemporary,’ not fantasy).

So expect ‘Asanas’ to appear later this year. Still work to do before the book is ready, and one can not put a timetable on that. It’s done when it’s done, and when it is, I’ll talk more about it.

A reminder that  'Woman of the Sky' is out shortly, on March 10 officially, though it should have showed up about  'everywhere' by then. I shall be doing a little giveaway leading up to the release so stay tuned for that.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

'Genre' Versus 'Genre Fiction'

The term ‘genre’ can be confusing, for it is used to mean two different things in writing and publishing. In one sense, the broad sense, all writing fits into one or more (usually more) genres. These divisions are a part of the critical understanding of a written work, ways to better analyze it.

Genre tells one what the work is about, explores its themes. ‘Genre fiction,’ on the other hand, is more about publishing categories than critical statemens. Romance is one of the latter, or the Western. There are pretty strict expectations about what these would include as works of fiction. Were I to write a novel set in the Old West, it would certainly fit the genre of Historical Fiction but would be most unlikely to be a genre fiction Western.

To some degree, I see this as similar to what exists in music and the music industry. We have true genres, such as the blues or jazz, and we have ‘formats,’ like Americana or Easy Listening. Literary Fiction or Young Adult are essentially formats, not genres. The name tells who they are written for, not what they are about.

Many of the classics that would be lumped with Literary Fiction these days were written as popular entertainments. They can also be readily assigned to true genres. ‘War and Peace’ is certainly Historical Fiction, among many other things. The authors of not so long ago were concerned simply with writing good stories, books people would read, not with fitting some publishing niche.

The bulk of my own work (not all, by any means) could broadly be termed Fantasy. Is it of literary worth? Might I call it ‘Literary Fantasy?’ Yes, there is such term, such a publishing niche, and some would see it as a ‘genre.’ Works that fit such a category would certainly include Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ or any of the work of James Branch Cabell or Lord Dunsany. I would not be willing to self-describe my writing as such but recognize that some would. I simply try to write good stories, with at least a few actual ideas tucked into them, and well-polished language.

Entertaining my audience is important, but is not my only goal. That, I think, is what sets genre fiction apart — it is primarily escapist, intended first and foremost to entertain, not to communicate anything. I myself would not write if I had nothing to say.

So you will see many of my novels marketed as ‘fantasy’ or ‘fantasy adventure,’ and some listed as ‘crime’ or some related term. That’s okay. Place them in whatever genre you wish — but do read them first!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Woman of the Sky Chapter

A sample  chapter from the fantasy adventure novel WOMAN OF THE SKY, coming on March 10! This is near the end of the tale.

57. The House of Rebels

“There will be a battle,” said Gordie. “Soon.”

“Not if you agree to be Mai’iro’s ally,” I pointed out. “It could all be avoided.” We sat side by side before this house of Mai’iro and his men. The House of Rebels I had named it in my mind.

“I fear to make any decision until I have word on Malee,” my companion replied. “I do not wish to lie either.”

Meaning he might? “He will wish to fight the smaller force, Aranu’s men, before anyone else arrives,” he said, continuing his first thought. “Maybe we can get you away during it. You must promise to care for Malee if you do and — and I don’t.”

“You must escape too,” I said. “That will take care of everything.”

“I agreed to stay, remember?” Would he stay true to that promise still?

“At his camp. Not here.”

Gordie laughed rather loudly at that. “Ah, what an excellent little sophist you are, Ranadi!” I did not know the word so I took it as a compliment. “I don’t think that is quite acceptable.”

But he was tempted, I could tell. “Then the only other solution is to kill our host,” I informed him. “You never promised not to do that.”

“This is so.” He was quiet for some time. Perhaps he was thinking of ways to murder Mai’iro. Then he looked up, as if something had caught his attention.

I followed his eyes. The tall gates of the stockade were being swung closed. “Aranu and Bafa must be here,” I whispered.

One of Mai’iro’s lieutenants approached. “You two. Inside,” he ordered. I could see he was a man of mixed blood, as many of those who served Gordie. Had he been promised the life of a Mora warrior? Maybe even nobility? Mai’iro would probably promise anything — and I would believe none of it.

We returned to what passed for our room in the structure, an open spot with a pair of sleeping mats. A woven mat, with many holes, hung on one side to afford a slight illusion of privacy. It had been assumed Gordie and I shared a chamber. “So we wait,” was all he had to say.

We had too much of that, I wanted to reply. I held my tongue. Instead, I asked my fellow prisoner, “Do you think Lady Ma’ave will come to live at the House of Gordie?”

“She would have to visit, at least.” He chuckled. “The real question is whether I would go live at the House of Pua.”

“The House of Naio,” I corrected him. “It is her husband’s house, officially.” I now became a bit serious. “Both of you would be welcome at the House of the High King, I think. And, of course, at Marareta’s home.”

“And you will live by A’auwa, won’t you?”

“Perhaps,” was all I was willing to answer to that, for truly I did not know.

“And Ma’ave and I are also still ‘perhaps,’ are we not? I shall worry about that when we are gone from here.”

Surely the Mora woman would not reject him! But then, I had — and there was no going back on that. The house was almost deserted for all the warriors were at the walls. Where the few women I had seen might be, I had no idea. A shadow approached, moving through the dim-lit spaces, moving from the concealment of one roof post to another.

“Master,” came a throaty whisper.

“Pahe?” Then the immediate question. “Malee?”

“She and Lady Ma’ave are safely with Lord Beka, who was coming north with warriors. His scouts came upon us, hurrying south.” He squatted beside us and continued. “And then I was the one to hurry back north again!”

“How did you get in here?” I asked.

“I simply walked in earlier with some of the men who serve here. They are very lax.”

“Never had reason to be cautious before,” felt Gordie. “Now you are trapped here.”

Pahe answered cheerfully. “Only until Lord Beka and Lord Ponu bring their men to climb over these walls.”

“Mai’iro will surely take his own warriors out to attack those already here before they come,” Gordie said. “He greatly outnumbers Aranu’s force. And I fear he has more men coming, maybe from beyond the hills.” The next words came reluctantly. “Some of them men who once served me.”

The familiar scowl returned to Pahe’s face. “Traitors,” he spat.

“But I can not blame them too much. I never made clear my intentions.” He smiled thinly. “I do not think I was sure of them myself. Now I am.”

“That is good, Lord Gordie. What do we do?”

“For now, wait. Opportunities do arise and we must be ready to make the best of them.”

That sounded like Gordie, indeed. I hoped he was right.

Maybe we could get out when the gates were opened for Mai’iro’s warriors. Or get out over the wall while they were occupied. These thoughts came and went in my head. But Gordie would again refuse to escape with us. Of this I was fairly sure, and I suspected it was not just because of a promise.

“I need a weapon,” he said after a while. “You have only a knife, Pahe?”

“Yes, lord,” came his reply. “It should be easy enough to find some here. Possibly lying about in this house.” With that he slipped away.

“You must keep out of the way when there is battle here,” Gordie told me. He sounded certain there would be. Pahe returned in a few minutes with what implements of war he could find.

“I managed a spear,” he told us, holding it up. “A knife for each of you. The edges are not too good.” I was glad he thought of me, even if I was supposed to stay out of the way. “A club in the Mora style. Would the Taona Marareta were here to wield it!”

“You will have to do, Pahe. The spear is probably the better choice for me,” said Gordie. He gazed toward the sunlit yard. “We can get closer and see what is going on. No one will pay attention to us now.”

Probably true, as long as we did not leave this house. As I stood beside him, gazing out at Mai’iro’s gathering warriors, he leaned down and whispered, “Now I know Malee is safe, I do not fear to act. Maybe I will not live past this day. I do not know, Ranadi. Remain safe.” He kissed me then, the first time and the last.

“They are ready to march out,” he said. “When the gate is closed behind them, we act.”

Pahe nodded. I am sure he had no more idea what his master intended than did I.

We watched as the the heavy gate of split logs was closed and barred. Lord Mai’iro came walking back from it with a handful of retainers. I was not too surprised that he had not chosen to go out and fight himself.

Gordie stepped out into the way. “Mai’iro!” he cried out, brandishing his spear. “Face me!”