The Lucky Lad

adventures in dysthymia

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

STOP, a poem


I've been shown a sign
that the end is near:
red and with eight sides,
STOP written big and clear!
It's good to reach the end;
now all that I fear
is choosing left or right
and going on from here.

Stephen Brooke ©2018

light verse at its lightest

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Unhappy Ending

For those who have not read it ― that would be most of you ― the concluding book of my Malvern Trilogy, ‘Hero from the Sea,’ has a decidedly unhappy (or, at least, tragic) ending. I agonized over that for some time but do not at all regret it now.

I won’t include any spoilers here. I’ll simply say it worked for the story. Tragic events in other novels have worked, as well, but I never ended on that sort of note. They were part of the protagonist finding his way to that more-or-less happy ending. Oh, sure, what happens in ‘Hero’ was also part of that process, ultimately, but it is only suggested that Malvern will go on to find some sort of meaning to it all.

Fortunately, there was another trilogy to follow and, although Malvern is not the protagonist in any of the novels, he appears and hints are provided of how his inner life has played out. The man may just appear as narrator of one more novel, if I get around to a third and final trilogy in the Mora world.

So, have I ― or would I ― do this sort of thing again? I very much intended an ‘unhappy ending’ for the first Cully Beach novel, ‘Shaper.’ It turned out quite differently and that was to the good. There is certainly no tragedy involved in my latest, ‘Asanas,’ (to be released June 16) though many of the plot lines end on an unhappy note. That is as much to set up a sequel as anything else (not that one is actually necessary ― the novel does stand on its own).

I am not out to write feel-good novels. Neither do I wish to turn out melodramatic tragedies that manipulate the reader’s emotions. The goal is to write good stories. Sometimes things end well, sometimes they don’t. The two tales in active development at the moment (one a mystery, one a fantasy) should end happily enough. Some down the line might not. Those will be dealt with I get to them. I will choose and I will not regret the choice.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Corner, a poem


Too long I’ve gone in circles,
round and round and round;
perhaps I’ll switch to squares
and by four walls be bound.
And if I like one corner,
why should I not stay?
I’ll think inside the box;
I’ll rest there while I may.

Stephen Brooke ©2018

A little throwaway piece

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Mighty Mulberry

Mulberries show up quite a bit in my novels and in my worlds. This is true more of the recent work than the early efforts, but the trees are there even back in the ‘Donzalo’s Destiny’ novels. For that setting, it was primarily a result of my knowing they were important for the feeding of silkworms. That and the climate was suitable.

It was when I began researching for my quasi-Polynesian people of the Malvern and Mora trilogies, that they really showed up. At first, because I was looking into the making of bark cloth. My reading showed that mulberries, in their varied species, were extraordinarily useful. Cloth and paper from the bark, rope from the roots, quick-growing wood, and, of course, fruit.

The only thing that rivaled them was the somewhat related breadfruit. Which also appears, naturally. Both tend to be a bit bland as a food. To be sure, there are comments on this. People eat a lot in my books and talk about it too.

By the way, I have eight good-sized mulberry trees in my own yard, ones I planted soon after moving here. They certainly do grow rapidly and the fruit, if not exciting, is pleasant enough. That is, on the trees that bear fruit; three are males but those are necessary too!

I’ve mentioned the silk connection very peripherally in the writing. It is not important to the ‘Donzalo’ sequence (though I think it is an major industry, one I shall explore when I return to that world). I spoke of silk production being common among the villages of the Ildin in ‘The Ways of Wizardry’ but did not explore the mulberry connection there. Again, when I return to that series, perhaps I shall find reason.

There is no particular need — when such things become important, they are dealt with. Most of the time, a mention here or there is all we want; anything more gets in the way of the story. But I, the writer, should be aware of these underpinnings of my worlds. I should know that this people or that does grow a certain tree, and why.

That’s how we keep our tales ‘rooted.’ :)

Fantasy Worlds

A mention here that I have opened a new blog, The Fantasy Worlds of Stephen Brooke, to focus on that aspect of my writing. The emphasis will be on the world-building, primarily, and there will certainly be some amount of cross-posting with this blog.

But I hope to go well beyond what I do here. Already I have posted a page of sample chapters—the same ones I am giving away as an ebook—and intend to do more of that sort of thing. And, of course, I shall promote the books! Follow it or visit it as you may wish; I am not cutting back at The Lucky Lad and there will still be plenty to read right here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Emperors, a poem


After Augustus comes Tiberius
and we all see our mistake. Where now are the knives
of the Senate? All the blood of tyrants
dried years ago, was scrubbed from marble floors

and Caesar made a god. It’s not so hard
to be a god; old actors take on the role
with aplomb. Some even believe themselves.
Can we raise up some new god to be savior?

Young Caligula seems a promising boy.
Maybe he’ll make Rome great again.

Stephen Brooke ©2018

Monday, April 16, 2018

Ebook Sampler

I created a little ebook sampler (epub) of my fantasy novels, one chapter each for all thirteen of them. Free to download, give away, whatever. And, of course, if you like them, you can always buy copies!

I made this, by the way, with the Open Office add-on, writer2epub. Does quite well, but for my  commercial releases it's probably safer to stick with the converter at my distributor's site.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Holmes and the Sea

I just finished a read of Oliver Wendell Holmes's 'The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table' and was somewhat taken with this passage. So I did a graphic. It's a pretty good book, too.

Wordless, a poem


To wordless sing, I go into the day
you leave behind. Beyond this sham of dawn,
beyond the dew yet sparkling on the lawn,
sunrise surrenders, leaving only gray.

All murmured in the dark now fades away
so soon, so soon, still must I choose to sing —
I shall be as a bird, awakening,
and wordless go; what more have I to say?

Stephen Brooke ©2018

I thought at first this was going to be a sonnet. But, as the poem puts it, what more have I to say?

Asanas and Women

There is not a single scene in ‘Asanas’ without a woman in it. As the point of view is always from one of the two female main characters, this is to be expected. One or both will be there to experience the action.

Maybe the novel doesn’t quite pass the Bechdel Test with flying colors, however, as their conversations frequently turn to men and, in particular, their relationships with them. But that is what the novel is about, before all else — relationships. Including, to be sure, the relationship between best friends Lynn and Karen.

But it is also about finding themselves. Maybe they search for who they are in the wrong places, maybe they sometimes look to men for answers, but in time they may just find their paths. Lynn, particularly, who is the primary protagonist (with Karen being a strong secondary), makes a start. This sort of discovery is a pretty common theme in my fiction. More than common, perhaps, whether my lead characters be women or men.

After all, though ‘Asanas’ may see some marketing as ‘women’s fiction,’ it is intended to be universal. My ideas about things were not likely to change radically from one novel to another, regardless of the characters!