The Lucky Lad

adventures in dysthymia

Friday, June 19, 2015

Awful Alvin

I wrote a long-ish poem for children, AWFUL ALVIN, a few years ago, with thoughts of using it as the text for a picture book. In fact, the poem was developed from a home-made picture book I drew up to amuse my nephews when they were little (a very long time ago). Although I created a folder full of sketches for the idea, I could never quite get the project to come together for me.

And that is because the poem is not really suitable for a picture book for little ones. It is too sophisticated, too complex. That is true of much of the poetry I have written aimed at a younger audience. This does not mean that children would not enjoy the work, just that my presentation concept was wrong.

So, I am now working on an anthology to be named (probably) AWFUL ALVIN AND OTHER PECULIAR POEMS. It is not a picture book but it is pretty profusely illustrated, with pen and ink drawings. This means black and white illustrations, not color; if nothing else, I save a lot on the printing costs.

The pictures will be relatively small, as well. No full page spreads as in a picture book. Speaking of which, I do have a couple pieces I still think suitable for presenting in that form somewhere down the line. Future projects!

But I jumped right into this project after finishing COAST OF SPEARS and getting it into print. Oh, I dawdled a couple weeks, worked a little on some other ideas, but then I began to obsessively (manically?) create my illustrations. Twenty-eight drawings in five days.

Right now, I am designing and assembling the book. Expect it out sooner rather than later. Perhaps August First would be a good official release date. As I mentioned, some of the poems are a bit sophisticated, complex both in language and structure (and sometimes in ideas). Kids need that, don't they? Everything can't be made simple.

I just hope the adults who might be called upon to read them to their little ones are up to the task.

Here's a mock-up of a possible cover. That is the one facet of a book project that remains open up to the very last moment, so don't be surprised to see changes. But do expect to see ALVIN offered by Arachis Press very soon!

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Waiting, a poem


Today's flavor is as bland
as what was served yesterday.

The crowd oohs and aahs over the change,
opening their empty wallets.

Would there be any point
in waiting for tomorrow?

Stephen Brooke ©2015

Another piece that is sort of in the shape of a sijo.

The Woman Who Made Me a Poet ~ a poem

The Woman Who Made Me a Poet

Unaware, the woman
who made me a poet
goes about her days

in a house full of dogs.
Different dogs, now,
than those that crowded us

on the couch and I
do not know their names.
Not that it matters. I have

words now, sleeping at
my side, fetching memories
I toss upon the green

lawns of years ago.
And the woman who made
me a poet does not

know these games; she does
not know these words that found
their way to my door,

tails wagging, begging to be
taken in. She does
not know they speak of her.

Stephen Brooke ©2015

Although I have not been in 'poet mode' recently, the phrase that became the title to this piece came to me this morning and I had to write this. An all-at-once poem, not one crafted over a period of time, and therefor rather simple in structure (roughly accentual) and concept.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Coast of Spears Video

I put together a simple 'slide-show' style video trailer for the new COAST OF SPEARS novel. The novel, a 'fantasy adventure,' is available now in print and ebook at Arachis Press, rolling out elsewhere over the next couple months (which is why the 'official' release date is July 1 -- I should have a release party then, shouldn't I?).

The music here is a shortened version of some backing tracks I put together for one of my songs, 'Tribal Music,' that I shall probably get around to finishing someday. The conga is, of course, a loop.

Friday, May 29, 2015

A Week

Last weekend, I did get over to the Florida Folk Festival, Friday only, for a bit of music and catching up. I do not think I will do that again; next time it will be the whole weekend or not at all. Ideally, with me as a performer, of course.

My niece, Mean Mary James, was there performing and we did hang out some. She won't be back next year; has another European tour planned for that time.

I decided to take my bike with me this time to get around the place more easily. Good decision, all in all, but I did have an accident. No, I didn't fall off the bicycle. I fell over the bicycle getting it out of the truck bed, before ever getting into the festival, and bled a bit. Nothing broken or torn though, so the day was generally okay although my leg was stiffening up some before it was over.

And the seven or so hours of driving stiffens up the back too. I probably shouldn't have thrown myself into work around this place when I go back because sometime during the night on Saturday, I tore something badly in my lower back/left hip. That's an old injury that I manage to revisit every now and again but this might have been the worst ever. Part of getting older?

Anyway, I spent most of this last week lying on my back watching TV and being incredibly bored. Unfortunately, even sitting in my office chair in front of the computer (or in bed with a laptop) was too painful to do for more than a few minutes at a time. But I did manage to finish reading 'Moby Dick.'

I also managed to finish off and upload all the files for my new fantasy-adventure novel, COAST OF SPEARS, to the printer this week. It is available in print and ebook versions at the Arachis Press store at Lulu now, and should appear pretty much everywhere over the next six to eight weeks. We did have to set the price higher with distribution costs what they are — official list price is 19.99, but that is discounted to 15.99 directly. Ebooks remain at a reasonable 2.99.

If/when the rest of the books get put into wider distribution (we're in no great hurry on this), the list prices there will go up too.

Next project will be a completely revised website. I could probably upload a bit of a bare bones site right now, just to hold the space, including pages for mobile devices. Soon. Incidentally, I decided to jettison my '' domain. Its renewal was coming up and I realized I just don't need or use it. I might rethink '' next year, too; the other four domains remain useful.

And now on to the next book project. A sequel to COAST OF SPEARS? Maybe. Eventually, for sure, but I might get into something else first. Perhaps that 'serious' contemporary novel. We'll see.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

For Every Action

A phrase that appears a bit too frequently in fantasy writing is that 'magic has a price.' It is a cliché, yes, but it does make a sort of sense (nothing is free, right?) and helps provide a source of consequence and conflict. But it doesn't explain anything, does it?

Instead, we might say that Newton's Third Law of Motion applies. This is often stated as 'for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.' This is the price one pays; everything has an impact on something else. A magical spell for love here may cause hate over there. An allowance for the reaction might even be written into the spell, a safety valve of sorts.

Indeed, I would think all the laws of physics would apply to magic. Inertia, force, mass, would all be factors in its operation. And I wouldn't worry that the Newtonian laws are not exactly accurate — they are 'close enough' for our purposes.

We can apply this concept of action and reaction to all writing, actually. Anything that happens has consequences of some sort. Even if only internal.

* * *

I'll admit that I've never written anything that explores such a world of magic. 'Spells,' as such, do not exist in my Donzalo/Malvern world; the seemingly magical stuff there involves moving through alternate worlds/dimensions. That's just work, involving the physical and mental strength of the sorcerer. Which is also a price.

In fantasy tales, one also finds the sort of magic that relies on agents. This is more true of older fantasy than new, I think. The summoning of demons or elementals to do ones dirty work has been a staple of magic pretty much from the beginning. These generally extract a price for their services, but beyond that they too would have to follow those rules of physics.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

On the Page, a poem

On the Page

I am not the words on the page
any more than I am that old picture
of me. After all, we are made
anew every seven years, right?

All those words, yes, they were written
by someone else. Sometimes, that once me
hands me one and whispers,
You can do this a bit better —

go ahead, but sign my name to it.
I've no problem collaborating with every me
that ever was and maybe some
to come. We'll all sign the same name.

Stephen Brooke ©2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Publishing and Projects

Everything is done on COAST OF SPEARS, aside from finalizing the cover — final print dimensions are needed to finish that up. Editing, formatting both print and ebook, registering the ISBNs, etc, is all taken care of. I'll be able to start uploading files pretty much whenever I feel like it. Probably after this weekend, when I still intend to make it to the Florida Folk Festival.

For one day, anyway. Which day may depend on the weather and if looks bad every day, I just might cancel it out and save the money. I do still intend to get to Nashville in July. I should look into some other places and people to visit as long as I'm on the road. Maybe even do a very short 'open mike' tour.

But, the book — MY official release date via Arachis Press is July 1 but, of course, it will be available in some places and some formats before then. When I assigned my ISBN I put the official date down a month earlier, June 1. It can take weeks for books to show up everywhere, especially the print version at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Much sooner at Arachis Press (and our Lulu store).

So, will I start writing the sequel now? I admit that it is not all plotted out, even in my head, though I have the basics. The whole thing may need to ferment and bubble for a while before I do more than jot down my ideas. And I could try shifting gears and working on something else — it does take a little while to get one project out of my mind and another into it.

The sequel, by the way, is likely to be titled VALLEY OF VISIONS. I haven't a name for its sequel yet (and there almost certainly would be one — I'm thinking a trilogy here). We leave book one with our protagonist pursuing his rival and hostage (hey, there has to be a damsel in distress) into the mountains, so there should be a homecoming to the tangled politics of the Mora nation in the final book. And to his own tangled romance.

But first, I must completely redesign and replace my current website, for a variety of uninteresting reasons. One of them being the software I have used for years, Yahoo's Site Builder. Great for people who like to design rather than write code, but frustratingly buggy. The other is the need to get with the times and have a mobile-friendly site.

I will NOT do a responsive site, at least not now. I'm going for the separate 'm' site with redirects. This lets me control the look of both versions much better and not be stuck with a cookie cutter site. And most responsive sites I have seen look horrible on a big screen.

So that's the big project for a while. Then on to other stuff.