The Lucky Lad

adventures in dysthymia

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

No Donzalo

A part of what I wrote in the last post is not longer true --- there will be no all-in-one print volume of 'Donzalo's Destiny.' At least not now.

The formatting of a 740 page, 206,000 word (plus illustrations) book was a bit too much for both me and this computer (my more muscular dedicated music recording PC might be up to the task but I don't intend to use it), and I realized that such a book was, perhaps, not practical --- that length is right at the acceptable upper limit for distribution. So DD will continue to be sold in the current four volumes.

And I will, eventually, reformat those four novels to match distribution requirements (if possible) and get them out to B&N, Amazon, etc. Of course, one can purchase the ebook versions at those vendors now and the print books are available through

Anyway, I still intend to try getting the poetry chapbook,'Retellings' submitted for distribution sometime this month. Indeed, all the Arachis Press books will have been revised by the end of March. Then I'll get around, as time and interest allows, to seeing about the distribution thing.

* * *

In other news, I shall finally be on the road again (after several years hiatus) and off to the Will McLean music festival the weekend of March 13-15. The full festival experience, camping and all. I haven't done that in, I think, eight years. My niece, Mean Mary James, will be among the performers. This festival is down in central Florida, near Dade City, and is near the perfect time for such an event, weather-wise.

Maybe by next year, I'll have myself together enough to switch from spectator to performer. This year, I'm just working on getting my camping gear sorted out!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

To Print or Not to Print

I have been in the process of revising all my books and getting new and corrected editions available. This has included making certain that the ebook versions were properly prepared and ready for sale at the major vendors, including Amazon. Yes, most of my stuff will now be available for Kindle.

However, I have never attempted to have my print books distributed, preferring to sell them through my own site (via Lulu). The primary reason was that it would require reformatting many of the books; a secondary reason is that the profit margin would be way smaller! I am still leery of trying out print distribution, although the simplest program, which includes Barnes & Noble and Amazon, costs nothing.

And my books and their ISBNs are listed at Bowker, so if a bookstore really wanted to make the effort they could find me and order from Arachis Press. That is an unlikely scenario, of course.

As I finish off the revision process over this month, I am going to attempt distribution of my most recent poetry chapbook, RETELLINGS. As far as I can tell, it meets all the formatting requirements. Unfortunately, the first two poetry books would have to be redesigned as perfect-bound editions, as their current saddle-stitched format will not be accepted. We shall see if I can get RETELLINGS out there and then see about the other books. In time.

I would probably never bother with the four Donzalo books but I do want distribution for the combined volume of DONZALO’S DESTINY. There will be, quite possibly, a hardcover version as well as the paperback. I am not hurrying on this — before the end of the year is good enough. Future novels will probably be designed with distribution in mind, as well.

This assumes that my experiment with these two books works out. If it proves too much trouble (or the profit is too small — I’d rather not raise prices), I will just forget about it and sell direct, as before. But if no serious problems arise, expect most of my books at Arachis Press to eventually show up at various retailers in print editions.

Monday, February 09, 2015

RMC, a song lyric


verse 1
Life can be hard and life can be easy,
life sometimes makes your stomach queasy;
life can give you questions to ponder,
like why am I here and what's over yonder.
Be it good or bad, life may serve it,
but whatever you get, you didn't deserve it;
don't take it to heart, don't be a sap,
it's all just random meaningless crap!

Oh, it's all just random meaningless crap
and there's no reason to cause a flap;
if this is the day things don't go your way,
know it's all just random meaningless crap.
If you still don't get it then let me recap,
just once more and that's a wrap;
things come as they may and no one will pay —
it's all just random meaningless crap!

verse 2
Everyone looks for the meaning of life
pleasure and pain, peace and strife,
telling themselves there must be answers
for rainbows and sunshine, flat tires and cancers.
You may think all things have a reason,
you think things come in their due season,
but there's no explanation for your mishap —
it's all just random meaningless crap!

repeat chorus

One thing needn't lead to another
and none of us have a fairy god-mother,
whatever you're dealt, don't be stressed —
it's only life's infinite jest.
I assure you that any amount of bad karma
can be assuaged with a bit of pharma;
just chill out, take a nap —
it's all just random meaningless crap!

repeat chorus

Stephen Brooke ©2015

a silly bit of song lyric in a pseudo-music hall style

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Maps and More

I have completed my revisions and edits of the first of the Donzalo novels, THE SONG OF THE SWORD, and am in the process of getting it uploaded to the printer and ready for sale. It should be available at Amazon shortly, in ebook form, as well as at the other usual vendors. The print version, however, will continue to be at our Arachis Press store (at Lulu) only, as I find paying for distribution to be pointless — and certainly not cost effective.

There were some formatting problems with TSOTS, many of them stemming from the fact that I switched word processors mid-stream. I had started the book in Microsoft’s WordPad, thinking it would be a good idea to stick with a simpler program, but found that it added all sorts of code that did not translate well. Moreover, it lacks proper quotes, having the ‘typewriter’ approach.

So I switched to OpenOffice Writer and have used it for all my writing since. It is quite clean and the work can be moved readily to other word processing apps, if desired (though it often is unnecessary). Incidentally, the VERY first writing on the first Donzalo  novel was long hand and then typed into a Brother Word Processor. But I retyped it into the computer when I decided to rewrite and expand it into publishable novel.

Now, I will probably get back to writing new stuff and let the revision work sit for a while. What needs revised is the most recent book of poetry – which can wait pretty much indefinitely – and the other three Donzalo novels, which I will tackle over the next few months. Then, I can put together the omnibus version of DONZALO’S DESTINY.

Speaking of which, I have put together a couple of possible covers for the book. Both use a painting by Renaissance artist Sebastiano del Piombo, but I am undecided whether to go with it full-cover or as an inset picture. No hurry; the deadline is the end of this year! The two versions:

I have also been fooling about with a map to use in the book. This is only a work in progress, using both hand-drawing and various graphics programs — GIMP, Corel Draw, and the free map-drawing program AutoRealm, which is aimed at Role Playing Game users. But then writing a novel is the ultimate RPG.

Incidentally, although AutoRealm and other map-making programs are nice enough, they truly do not do anything I can not accomplish (and probably better) in Corel Draw. But the little icons that come with them are cool.

The map:

Sunday, February 01, 2015

The Groundhog Wakes Up to Report the Latest News

Despite precautions, I once again managed to get frost nip/chilblains on my right hand during the most recent hard freeze here. I seem rather susceptible to this but at least I didn’t have any problem with the left or my feet this time. It very much puts a damper on my guitar playing, especially finger picking with sore fingertips.

It also makes me leery of winter surfing — not that I have had time to get down to the Gulf (or much of anywhere else) lately. I probably will not travel much for the next month or so, anyway. What with flu season, I try to avoid being around people!

February is time to start doing stuff to prepare for spring here on Peanut Road, transplanting trees, getting garden laid out, etc. I do intend to travel in March and am likely to show up down in the Dade City area for this year’s WillMcLean Festival. It has been something like eight years since I’ve made it down there. My niece Mary (Mean Mary James) will be performing again this year, so I am going to try to make a weekend of it and have the full camping experience.

Mary will probably (it’s not absolutely certain yet) be at the Florida Folk Festival at the end of May, too. I shall try to make it over to White Springs for that, at least one day.

* * *

In completely different news, I am finally abandoning the Yahoo Sitebuilder software I have used to build and maintain my sites for the past several years. I still like it but the latest round of problems (widespread inability to upload changes, and not well-handled by Yahoo) I have decided to go to a new site building approach.

Of course, I could do it all as html, but I am too lazy for that. I could also switch to mostly Word Press-based sites, linked together with a few minimal pages. Some of that concept may or may not show up in the final product.

I could also use a ‘responsive design’ program. With so many accessing pages via smart phones and such these days, it IS necessary to design with them in mind. However, the responsive sites I have visited via my desktop (I do not use any hand-held devices myself, other than a ‘dumb’ phone) look rather ugly and not really that functional on a large screen. So I’ll most likely go with a separate mobile site and redirects. Maybe not right away.

Incidentally, I may change over to a smart phone or something like that before this year is over. Why? So I can use it to process credit cards, if need be. Need does not be at the moment, so I am not overly concerned about that right now. But I do think my phone is slowly dying so I’ll be replacing it eventually.

Anyway, after a great deal of auditioning different website builders, I settled on Serif’s WebPlus. Decently priced (certainly way preferable to a subscription to Dreamweaver!), does what I need pretty much. And I can move my sites readily to another server if I get fed up with Yahoo — not that I’ve ever had any problem with their hosting, just with their software.

* * *

In other news, I continue to go through and revise all the titles from Arachis Press. About halfway through that task (well ahead of schedule) and starting in on the first Donzalo novel. New editions will be out of each of those books as I get them finished. So far, there are revised versions of the poetry books DREAMWINDS and PIECES OF THE MOON, the children’s book THE CONTRARY FAIRY, and the YA novel THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE (THE ART OF K PAGE BROOKE and A MOUSE IS IN THE HOUSE needed no revision).

I am also continuing work on the new fantasy adventure novel, COAST OF SPEARS. At this point, mostly still working on the outline part of it — the actual writing does not take very long if the underlying structure is already built. This is why I don’t end up doing much revision of my stories after the first draft — it was already taken care of before I started!

Here is a mock-up of a possible cover:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Stone, a poem


Unlike Sisyphus,
I, someday, shall sleep
in the shadow of my hill.

Let this stone then stand,
speechless sentinel,
at my head, companion still,

marker of the grave
where I, weary grown,
lie forgetting want or will.

Stephen Brooke ©2015

I suppose this could have been a longer, more ambitious piece, had I chosen to go that way. But I didn't---just the basic metaphor is sufficient, I think, and any more would be nothing but embellishment.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Progress Report

I continue to work on revising all the titles offered by the Arachis Press. The poetry chapbook, PIECES OF THE MOON, is now finished and should be appearing in a new edition at various vendors. This was the first book we published, back when we were still the Nihil Crocodile Press.

New versions of the Young Adult novel, THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, should be ready soon — the end of this month or early next, most likely. Then, I shall probably tackle the poetry collection DREAMWINDS, before moving on to the Donzalo novels.

As far as writing new stuff goes, I think the ‘serious’ contemporary novel will be set aside for a while and I shall attempt to dash off a fantasy adventure I have had on my mind, tentatively titled COAST OF SPEARS. This novel will be set – as a starting point – in the early Twentieth Century and then find its way to lands ‘beyond the field we know,’ as Lord Dunsany put it.

Right up front, I shall admit that it will show some definite Burroughs influence (That’s Edgar Rice, not William.). And it does take place (eventually) in the same world as the Donzalo books, but millennia earlier.

There are still those books that need illustrations, of course. Someday perhaps I can get onto those. Children’s books, poetry collections, and so on — I am not able to muster much enthusiasm for art work these days. Indeed, I must admit to have hardly painted for the last twelve years, despite considering myself primarily an artist up to that time. Most of my output since has been illustration and design, and my focus shifted largely to writing.

Incidentally, the protagonist of the new novel-in-progress will be an artist — not a Bohemian type but a polished society portraitist of his time, hobnobbing with the rich and powerful.

Flotsam, a poem


I am cast up on your shores,
flotsam, wave-worn memories
of the man I was, the sailor
of dark seas and broken days.

Gather me. Among the polished
pearled shells, I wait, a dreaming
on the margins of tomorrow.
Once we found such remnants, there,

tokens of the unseen storm.
Call to your horizons, misted
with the songs of pasts forgotten;
all that we have yearned for lies

sleeping in the distant blue
reaches, lies yet undiscovered.
Might you sail to such a venture,
taking ship along the curve

of a restless golden morn?
Might you rise across your days?
I remain, on shores a world
distant, discard, sea-gift, flotsam

drifted from unvoyaged depths.
Find me there, someday, among
treasures of the tide; then hold me
to your ear to hear my song.

Stephen Brooke ©2015

Something more formally constructed and probably at least in part a result of reading French Symbolists of late.