The Lucky Lad

adventures in dysthymia

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Back to the Book

My latest novel, SHAPER, is officially out today (Sept 1, 2015) and available directly from Arachis Press or at Barnes&Noble, Amazon, etc. in both print and ebook formats. Discounts are available (plus I get a better cut) if it is purchased direct so I definitely recommend that!

As far as books go, I have been working on the sequel to COAST OF SPEARS, a novel that will be titled VALLEY OF VISIONS. This should be the second of a trilogy making up the “Malvern saga.” Written, like the first novel, in four sections, I was churning along and had good drafts of the first three parts (around 45,000 words) when I badly hurt my hip and ended up lying flat for a couple weeks. I'll get back to finish the book up eventually; there is no great hurry and it should be out early next year. Of course, I have a loose outline and know where it all is going.

Just now getting up and about some. Lots to do! I do need to shift my attention to the music side of things for a while, maybe get an application sent to the Florida Folk Festival and definitely submit something to the Will McLean Festival. When I don't hurt too much, I've been getting the home studio turned around and ready for use.

Speaking of recording, my friend Lynda wants me to come out to Texas for a couple weeks and engineer/co-produce a recording session for her. Load of logistics to work out there but I just might try it — it's only 600 miles, after all. Ha, maybe I'll just keep driving when we're done and finally get to California. Surfing there is on my bucket list.

Back to books — I continue to revise some of the older titles for distribution, even though I am not sure it is worth the effort. Do I actually need Amazon and the rest for my print work? Ebooks, yes, but I don't know about the print versions. Oh, I might as well. I'll have the new version of the YA novel THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE available this month, most likely.

Then, a new chapbook of poetry before the end of the year. This one will be titled THE TOWER. It is not as thematic as the last two, though there is still a underlying 'quest' implied in the choice of pieces. There will be more recent work in this one.

So, I'm back, sort of. As long as I don't hurt myself and disappear again!

Monday, August 03, 2015

Coal, a poem


Time may turn coal to a diamond
but also a plum to a prune;
I’m gaining not facets but wrinkles,
and it’s happening too soon.

It’s rarely we are at the dusk
the same as we were at noon;
The instrument that once played well
must go out of tune.

Gods of marble will soften,
no matter how well they are hewn,
and time erodes even mountains;
nothing is immune.

I look in the mirror and see
a poorly drawn cartoon
of the likeness vanity made;
time's burst my balloon.

Stephen Brooke ©2015

A bit of light verse (or maybe doggerel)

Saturday, August 01, 2015


The duality of Order versus Chaos is a beloved concept for fantasy writers, from Moorcock and Zelazny on down. It might seem an odd idea for those steeped in the Good versus Evil dichotomy of the Abrahamic religions but is an underlying theme in Indo-European polytheism, from the Norse to the Hindus. The gods come to give order to a chaotic cosmos and are not necessarily 'good.' Indeed, they are a reflection of Man himself, with all his imperfections, attempting to create order in his own existence.

Underlying both of these antagonisms, Good versus Evil, Order versus Chaos, is another, more basic dualism: Existence versus Nonexistence, Being versus the Void. All other dichotomies arise from this, the first of the dualities. Our ancestors sensed this even when they did not express it those terms. Light and Darkness it became, and we still express it so.

Or, mathematically, we might say One and Zero, the basis of a binary system. On and Off, Being and Non-being. Both of equal power, even though only one actually 'exists.' But each needs the other to define it.

Zarathustra seems to have recognized this concept, in part, though his teachings contain elements of both the Good/Evil and Order/Chaos conflicts. He was certainly reaching toward it with his emphasis on telling the truth, of choosing that which is over the emptiness of falsehood.

To me, a dualism of Light and Dark, Being and Nonexistence, answers most of the arguments brought up against the idea a loving, all-powerful God. There are two powers, both infinite, both all-powerful. Choose the one you prefer — existence or extinction. Yes, the latter can be attractive, at times.

The other dichotomies mentioned here follow from this one. Chaos and Evil both are forces acting to return Being to Nothingness. In this sense, they are 'real.' They are reminders that the infinite Void is ever there.

We must remember that the same is true of infinite Being. We are part of it. We can not un-become. We may hide from Existence, deny Existence, but extinction is not truly an option. Not that I am saying there is a 'life' after this, only that we 'always' exist as part of timeless Being.

One might define that Being as God. Or not; that is up to the individual. Could the Infinite that contains all intelligences be itself intelligent and self-aware? Maybe, maybe not. Nor do I think it truly matters; Existence is enough, in itself.

But I must be aware that Existence always has its dark companion.

Stephen Brooke ©2015

Friday, July 31, 2015

Shaper Video Trailer

I put together another simple slideshow video trailer for the latest novel, SHAPER. Old surf pics, some music I recorded, and a few blurbs. The pics are, for the most part, very old, many of them of my brother. SHAPER will officially be out Sept 1 but I'm already working on uploading the completed files for the book.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Writing, Editing, Traveling

A mention that the latest book, the illustrated collection of poetry for children, AWFUL ALVIN AND OTHER PECULIAR POEMS, is officially out next week. Already available via Arachis Press in both print and ebook, and the ebooks are probably showing up at other retailers by now. Who knows when the print versions will show up at Amazon, et al? I'm not even sure why I'm bothering with print distribution.

Incidentally, I've noted that there is a moderately obscure cartoon character named Awful Alvin, as well. An evil onion, apparently. I originally drew up AA back in the Eighties so I'm probably the first, not that it matters. But if I'd known, I might have changed the name.

Why do I put out the books – and, in particular, the novels – via my own imprint? I could go through the process of finding a good agent and submitting to other publishers. With luck, something might see print that way in a couple years.

But getting stuff out there is perhaps the best way to attract the attention of the big players in this day. Publishing is following the same road the music industry took a while back. Self-release and build a following — then the majors might show some interest in you.

If one actually needs the majors at all. In the age of the internet (assuming it remains open and free), a middleman is not truly necessary. Even the big retailers such as Amazon are not. Google and other search engines can bring those who are interested to you. The trick is to arouse that interest in the first place.

That means various forms of social media, of course. It really should mean social contact in the 'real' world, as well. One needs to attract attention to oneself, online and off. I have no illusions that the success of the books co-written by my niece and sister (Mary and Jean James) was aided by the fact that Mary is also a popular musician. The one feeds the other.

I need to address this second part of the social question. That is, I need to get my music career back on track. I needn't be particularly successful but just being on stage so people know I'm around may be worth more than a post on Face Book.

In the mean time, I've started working on the second Malvern novel, the sequel to COAST OF SPEARS. Mostly outlining and notes at this point, working things out, asking questions about what would happen in different scenarios. Once I get that pretty much worked out, the actual writing will come pretty fast, I know. Should be ready early next year, as a guess — a pretty educated guess, knowing my work flow.

And I will have my 'serious' contemporary novel, SHAPER, out on September First. I put a lot of myself into this one; it might be a while before I can write anything of the same sort for a while. If ever. I'm not sure of the genre under which to list it. I guess it is a mystery, to a degree. Not much mystery to the mystery, however. It's mostly there to give some structure to the plot, which is, I may have to admit, something of a chick-lit relationship story. Let's just call it literary fiction, okay?

A poetry anthology should appear before the end of the year, as well, to be titled THE TOWER. I've done a fair amount of work there already, chosen and sequenced the poems, finished the illustrations. I'll finish designing the book when it is convenient. I also am going to repackage some of the older titles so I can get them into print distribution, including the three previous poetry collections and all four Donzalo books. So this stuff will eventually be available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc. It's all there as ebooks right now, of course.

Another mention, to close, that I spent four days in (or traveling to and from) Nashville last week, visiting my sister and niece and seeing a lot of relatives at a family reunion. Many I hadn't seen in a couple decades. Or never, in the case of the little ones. I had not driven that far in a very long time, over four-hundred miles, and don't look forward to doing it again. But I might anyway---see 'social contact' above! :)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Like, a poem


We were very much in like
with each other and maybe
that is enough. We could
have settled, I think.

That time has passed and now
friends means only friends,
while I go seeking the sort
of love that knots

me up, makes me sick,
demands more than I have.
If only I could once more
fall in like.

Stephen Brooke ©2015

pretty much of a throwaway --- don't expect it to show up in a book or anything (unless it's a posthumous anthology!)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Understanding the Manticore, a poem

Understanding the Manticore

To describe the Manticore we must
first know that the Romans misspelled
the name and it properly is called
Martichora, man-eater, by the Greeks
and before them, the Persians.
Does the misspelling of a mythical
creature's name change its nature?
Does it become a new and different
beast of the imagination?
There is still something of the lion
about it, and something of man,
not unlike its cousin, Sphinx.
It, too, was known to dine
on passing mankind, though it oft
enjoyed a riddle or two,
first. Martichora, with its deadly
tail, not scorpion-like, as later
described, but a thrower of spiny
projectiles. Martichora with three
rows of shark-like teeth in the face
of a man. Who understands it?
The Martichora poses no riddles,
asks no questions. It only
hungers; in the high peaks it hungers.
Beware if you pass by.

Stephen Brooke ©2015

I was, in fact, writing a description of a manticore for my next Malvern novel, the sequel to COAST OF SPEARS, when this idea presented itself. So, a quickie poem and back to the novel --- I am trying to present a 'logical' sort of origin for the beast, something that makes a certain zoological sense. I'm not one to simply present mythological creatures with no explanation other than that they are mythological.