The Lucky Lad

adventures in dysthymia

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Short Stories

I am not much of a short-story writer. Oh, I have tried. It is not my thing, I suppose; I think in bigger chunks. I think in terms of continuing stories. Indeed, my best attempts at the short-story, in my estimation, have dealt with characters who recur in other tales, tales that impact the current story (and vice-versa).

Some of those narratives have become back-story for characters and events in my novels. I have stories about Ted Carrol, the protagonist of my two Cully Beach novels, that deal with his younger days (one or two of them somewhat erotic), that inform the character that appears in SHAPER and WAVES. They tell me who he is, help me better draw the man he becomes.

But stand-alone short-stories? I haven’t been very successful, by my standards. I see longer tales as soon as I get into them — not all, admittedly, but more often than not. In many ways, I think the novella length is more suited to me. The whole DONZALO’S DESTINY sequence is truly eleven novellas and novelettes, put forth as a single novel (in four books, for publishing convenience).

For that matter, all of my fantasy novels are divided into distinct novella-length sections with their own narrative arcs — not only Donzalo, but also the Malvern books, my recent THE EYES OF THE WIND. They are novels, none the less, with an overarching plot. Not the Ted Carrol/Cully Beach novels, nor the related YA, THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, however; those run right through in a manner more typical of mainstream novels. Which they are.

No doubt I shall continue to dabble at the short-story, but it is not my focus at this time. If I do finish some, they might end up incorporated into novels. It has happened before — SHAPER started out as a story of a guy nearly drowning while surfing, a story that now exists in altered form as one chapter.* Or they might become a sequence of tales centered around one character and published as one book. All that is of the future, if it happens at all.

So, I shall get back to writing something. I’m dabbling at the folk festival murder (which may become only attempted murder) but other ideas are milling about in my head, asking for attention. And I REALLY need to pay attention to my music and get some songs recorded for the Will McLean Festival!

*That story is based on a real life occurrence, though the rest of the novel is pretty much fiction. That is, nothing else that happens in the book is ‘real’ but some of the backstory derives from life.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Odd Boy, a poem

The Odd Boy

The odd boy can make no sense
though he wants to understand
sometimes and sometimes he doesn’t.
Sometimes he doesn’t care or says
he doesn’t, which comes to the same thing.
The odd boy knows the names of the birds
and can whistle their songs. He wishes
he could fly but wouldn’t like feathers.
He can make no sense of your words.
They are not like those in his books,
not readily seen. They are like the birds
that hide, flitting movement among
the leaves, too far away to identify.
The odd boy will ignore you, knowing
your puzzle is not worth the effort.
He has learned this, as he has learned
the names of the birds and all their songs.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

Friday, October 21, 2016

Two Shorties (poems)


Do not ask too much of the stars;
they will not answer when you
call roll and Rigel is not here
tonight. His mother sent a note.

Stephen Brooke ©2016


Love is neither a dog nor a cat
but it must be fed. Then maybe
it will sit in your lap and allow
you to pet it, thinking it will stay.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

As the title says, two shorties. Little bitty petite poems. Which is redundant.

Hiding, a poem


Daylight runs into the sea,
hiding unless I call its name,
call across the breadth of this dark
sky. It always returns, holding
hands with the stars. They slip away,
those stars, but most return as well.
I have never needed to call them.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

A short piece, though it could have been shorter. Or longer. Yeah, it could be longer too.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Performance Enhancing

The claim that Hillary Clinton was on ‘performance-enhancing drugs’ during her debate appearance is rather silly. Not only because it is unlikely but because it would not be a bad thing if she were. I would want my president working at maximum efficiency and if a not-particularly-dangerous drug helped in that, I am all for it.

Most of us take a PED every morning — caffeine. It is effective and pretty safe but does, of course, have its drawbacks. We know the side effects, the mild withdrawal symptoms. Should it be banned?

Note that large quantities of caffeine ARE banned by the organizations that control amateur sports. These people, in my opinion, are far more stringent than necessary and the reason for this is the idea that the use of drugs is somehow ‘cheating.’ There should be only one reason to prohibit a substance and that is because it is dangerous.

Otherwise, it is no more than a form of ‘effective nutrition,’ as we used to refer to such things in the gym (yes, I was a very serious bodybuilder at one point). It is no different than taking vitamins or, for that matter, eating better and training harder than the next competitor.

If Ms. Clinton did take something to help her in the debate (and, again, I doubt it), it would not be cheating. It would be using what was available in an effective and sensible manner.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Eggshell Boats, a lyric

Eggshell Boats

Launch my eggshell boats
on an endless ocean,
speak a prayer once heard
murmured in devotion.
Look to my horizons —
nothing lies beyond;
mists conceal the mornings
that have never dawned.

Sail my eggshell boats,
watch them disappear —
empty coracles
nameless winds may steer.
Drive them from these shores
I can never quit,
laden with the losses
I can not admit.

The sea is but a pond,
my vessels only toys;
the roar of surf beyond,
no more than a noise.
Each ripple a great wave,
each breeze a mighty wind;
who knows if I am brave?
Who cares that I have sinned?

Risk another cargo,
launch this fragile craft;
have the wheeling gulls
known the truth and laughed?
No star stands to guide me,
every voyage fails;
send my eggshell boats
forth with tattered sails.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

This would be a song lyric, rather than a poem in the literary sense. The third stanza would serve as chorus or bridge or whatever term one prefers (rhyme scheme etc is changed for it). A tune? Maybe...

Friday, October 14, 2016

Broken Stings

Having completed writing WAVES, I have no need to revisit the novel’s protagonist, Ted Carrol aka Shaper, in further books. If I go back to Cully Beach, the focus would be on peripheral characters, not Ted — though I might keep his first person voice as narrator.

At any rate, I would expect no further drama in his life. Carrol is definitely not going to make a habit of crime-fighting, nor do I want to turn his ‘life’ into a series of mystery novels (though, of course, one never knows). We leave him in a good place and he can stay there.

I shall note that there are short stories, complete or partial, that deal with Ted’s earlier days. They are not crime-related, not mysteries. I could simply look on them as ‘back story’ and never attempt to get them into publication. Time will tell there.

It is fairly certain that my next novel will be the murder mystery set at the Florida Folk Festival. I have mentioned previously that this was originally going to be the third Ted Carrol novel, to be titled STRINGS, and set in 1992. That idea has been abandoned.

Instead, I am moving it up a year to 1991 (which, incidentally, was the first year I attended). Why that year? Mostly because of the heavy smoke from forest fires — ideal cover for nefarious deeds! The title is tentatively set as BROKEN STRINGS. That can change.

The question is whether to use previously introduced characters in the novel. I could make a clean beginning, not link it to Ted nor anyone else. However, having already created these people, why not use them? Quite possibly the narrative (which should be third person and tightly written, unlike the Ted Carrol novels) will center on Pat Edwards, artist and banjoist, and/or young Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Jackson, future police officer. I do intend to revisit Charlie in later novels. There are also the young people from the little village of Ruby, whom I introduced in THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. Betty and Pat Edwards reside there.

As does Branford Perry, who has popped up before, mostly in short stories. And he would be with love-of-his-life-who-later-dumps-him June at that point, so she should attend too. They would be peripheral characters, not central.

Will any real life musicians show up? I might mention some in passing. I remember that Jim Billie played that year and the Bellamy Brothers (an odd choice for a folk festival) headlined Saturday night. So, a mention in passing perhaps. As for the many Florida folkies, some of them friends, I am less certain. To be honest, I didn’t know most of them — okay, any of them, really — yet at that time so I don’t have clear recollections of who was there. Better to use ‘analogs’ of some of them.

Of course, the Makley family performed. I can always mention them, even if I don’t remember seeing them! I didn’t meet Bettina et al until later that year, when I started to become acquainted with other Florida folk musicians.

So, on to plotting now. Who gets murdered and how and why? Well, you can find that out next year!

* * *

Incidentally, the work on WAVES is essentially done, editing, proof reading, design. We should be getting all the materials to the printer by the end of this month and have a paperback on its way to us to approve for distribution (though it will be available at our Arachis Press store almost immediately). The ebook version will go out for distribution next month and everything should be ready for purchase by our somewhat arbitrary release date of December 5.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Airports, a poem


I do not know airports.
Other people hurry through them,
one scene in a novel
or TV show or life.

They catch a plane. They catch
a taxi to home or to hotel.
I don’t know taxis either.
They are a foreign country.

I never sat in their back seats,
looking out at a city.
I have never flown over a city;
I have no business there.

I do not know your lives,
you who hurry from place
to place, you with your luggage.
I do not know airports.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

It's all true --- I have never flown in a plane nor ridden in a taxi. Yet we see so much of such things in our culture, in our books and film and so on, that it seems a normal part of our lives. Incidentally, the poem grew from the first line, a phrase that popped into my head with no particular meaning attached. Much of my poetry (and songs as well) grows from words in this manner.