Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkins and Peanuts

Today is Halloween. It is also marks the anniversary of my move to Peanut Road. Five years I've been here and am likely to stay, come tricks or treats.

This day also marks my father's death, exactly one year before we moved. That event, after five years as his caregiver, is what started me on the quest to find a new home. I'd spent far too much time in Steinhatchee.

So what have I accomplished here? Not as much as I had envisioned; life kind of rolled up my blueprints and whacked me about the head with them. But I'm doing other things and that's good too.

Here I am, starting another year on Peanut Road. Things will happen, life will go one, etc. Maybe I'll do something or maybe I'll do something else.

Maybe it will even rain occasionally this next year.

* * *

Tucky, being a smart doggy, picked up on the pet door idea right away and is in and out quite a bit. My home-made cloth flaps are not holding up well to the traffic, not to mention letting in more cool air than I would prefer. I've ordered a manufactured door and will install that when it arrives.

The cat has not used the door since the first day I cut the hole. Why, I don't know, as she always liked getting inside whenever she could!

* * *

Work progresses on getting 'Dreamwinds' ready to publish. I've designed the covers (roughly mocked up at this point, finished versions later) and am progressing on the interior art. That entails one full page drawing, probably to be used as a frontispiece, and somewhere around eight to twelve half-page illustrations.

Also to the point where I'm auditioning fonts. The EPUB version will get boring Times New Roman, probably, or maybe Garamond. There's no point in worrying since the readers can change it to whatever they want. The print and PDF versions are another matter. I want something with a hint of the antique for this book. The Dominican font I'm using on the cover is great but not really suited for the text, even for poetry.

I fooled around some with a Kindle version of 'Pieces of the Moon' and was not satisfied with the way it looked nor the whole Amazon store idea. So I deleted the project there and will most likely not pursue the Kindle idea further.

EPUB and PDF are enough. There is some adult language in 'Pieces' so it's always possible that it could be rejected by some retailers of ebooks. This will not be a problem with 'Dreamwinds.'

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pieces for EPUB

I got around to putting out my first EPUB ebook, a revised version of my poetry chapbook, Pieces of the Moon. It came out okay and can be found (and purchased) at: 

Right now, it's only in my spotlight at Lulu but it should eventually make its way to Barnes & Noble and the Apple ibook store and maybe some other places. Assuming they don't find something they dislike about it. Whatever. I did it mostly as an exercise before tackling something larger like a novel!

I first tried converting the title myself, in Calibre, and it looked fine in a couple different readers but Lulu wouldn't accept, citing various errors. So I uploaded my Open Office Writer file to their online converter and it worked well enough. I'm satisfied with the product.

I will, soon, be putting up revised print and PDF versions of the book too. No real content change, just updated information and such. A book of poetry is bound to look better in PDF format so if you have to have a digital version, I recommend that.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Back in the Saddle-stitch

I have chosen and ordered the 49 poems that will go into 'Dreamwinds.' Also written are fore- and afterwords. More illustrations need to be finished, cover designed, and size finalized -- this latter can come fairly late in the formatting stage, actually. The book should end up at a length where I could choose to go with saddle-stitched rather than perfect bound.

That will lower the cost and I wouldn't mind being able to offer 'Dreamwinds' at a lower price. 'Pieces of the Moon,' a slightly shorter poetry book, is stapled so maybe I'll stick with that for my chapbooks.

It does, in fact, produce a more durable book as there is no glue that might fail and let pages fall out -- the bane of inexpensive binding. The main disadvantage is no spine for the title. However, that would be rather cramped on a thin book anyway.

Some may perceive it as less professional with the saddle-stitched assembly. Book stores might not want to handle a product without a title on the spine, as well. I don't really expect to get 'Dreamwinds' into stores so that doesn't worry me much. But I will allot it an ISBN, as I will the revised edition of 'Pieces' I intend to release soon.

Release date? Probably at the start of the new year, maybe a little sooner. That really depends on how quickly I can finish the pictures -- the actual formatting and release should be fairly quick and easy once I'm done illustrating.

Probably not in time for Christmas shopping, though. Yes, I know there are folks out there clamoring for my book this holiday season. I guess they'll just have to be satisfied with one of my other titles from the Arachis Press. ;)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My first word, I am told, was 'no,'
and apparently it served

me well enough I didn't bother
with many others until I was

around four. It's still my favorite.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

The return of the five line poem!


On to other projects lately, not that the last ones don't need continued attention. Right now I'm making an effort to update the website -- pretty much redo a good portion of it, actually. I hadn't done any work on it since August, what with being kept busy elsewhere and not having a very good internet   connection.

Also, because the web site software I use does not work on the newer computer. Not because it's Windows 7 but because of the 64 bit bit. I do most of my graphics work as well as getting on line with it, so it would have been nice if I could also update the site from it. Oh well, I'm working with the older PC and thinking about alternatives down the line.

My other project right now is getting the next book together, the often-promised poetry title. I'm putting it into shape and working on the illustrations. The name will be 'Dreamwinds' and it will focus on the more Gothicky and Romantic stuff. It should be a somewhat thicker book than 'Pieces of the Moon.'

So, here's a preview of one of the pictures I've finished (in somewhat lo-rez form). It's titled 'Storm-lost' and was done in my typical pen and ink technique of little dots and squigglies.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Climb

The mountain was a morning's climb,
now I stand at the peak;
my way winds down from here into
the valley each must seek

for rest when our ascent is done
and weary, we return
to lay our head, to close our eyes,
to no longer yearn.

I might touch the stars from here,
before I must descend,
but I know they will stand their guard
as I sleep and mend.

A mountain is a morning's climb,
then comes long afternoon
and dreams before a warming hearth
and life's fading tune.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

This one perhaps owes a bit to my old favorites Hardy and Housman. Not that it's in the league of either.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why Publish?

Reasons I started my own publishing company:

1) I have creative control over my own product and the abilities to make use of it. Input from others is welcome and useful but I ultimately decide.

2) This also leads to saved time, as I can see the project right through with minimal dependance on or interference from others.There is no waiting on other people's decisions.

3) Financial questions become much less important as there is a smaller investment both at the start and over time. My own time and effort is most of what goes into these projects.

If you have the desire to do the same, the necessary artistic talent to design a book, and are willing to put in the work, I would recommend taking control of your own publishing. Some would prefer not to take on these responsibilities themselves. That is quite understandable.

Would I be willing to take on and publish work by others? Possibly. Probably, even, in time. I'm still finding my legs at the moment but if an interesting project were presented to me, who knows?

* * *

I hit 6000 views at the Lucky Lad last night. That's not a lot by some folks' standards but not bad for me. Especially considering I had very little readership not long ago. I suppose it's because I update a lot these days. Even if it is no more than my trivial thoughts!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Pillow

It couldn't be resisted, I suppose,
even sitting up high where she had
to jump to reach it. I've placed pillows
there before, on the brick plinths

supporting the weathered columns.
One day I'll have to replace those
or the porch roof will be coming down
on me. It's a good place to set things

though, to dry or to air. The pillows do get
wet; it's part of my daily routine, the damp
bedding and clothes, the rinsing and refreshing.
What is that to a playful dog? I'd put it high

but she can jump high. It's part of the game,
reach what one can, tear it apart, never mind
the rebukes that will follow. She knows
I'll love her again soon. I always do.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

Bad girl! Yes, I mean YOU!

Saturday, October 22, 2011


I suspect that there are as many ex-hippies in the Tea Party as there are occupying Wall Street. Maybe more, actually.

Many hippies were of the drop-out, leave-us-alone, anti-establishment libertarian sort, and not really leftist (in the normal sense) at all. And many of the young leftist activists of the 60s were not at all hippie-like.

Of course, by the end of the decade pretty much all of us looked like hippies. That was just the fashion of the times. I liked the clothes but wasn't about to go join a commune in Montana.

Nor smoke pot (I always much preferred a good claro panatella) for that matter. Some of us weren't into dropping out and complaining about 'the man.' I think that's what the Tea Partisans are still doing.

Maybe it's time they grew up too.

SB 2001

Bring Me a Movie

A couple nights ago I watched the Sam Peckinpah movie, 'Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.' Peckinpah considered it perhaps his best effort, or at least the one closest to his vision. The public and the critics did not agree.

It was criticized for being violent, which it was, and for being melodramatic, which it also was. Some loved it, some hated it, and few fell in between. Few showed (or stayed) in the theaters to watch it, as well.

At any rate, it was a film that inspired emotions and still does. Undoubtedly, it was a bit ahead of its time. And undoubtedly it, and Peckinpah's work in general, influenced a great many makers of movies since.

The best thing about it, almost everyone agrees, is the acting, especially that of Warren Oates. Oates was such a marvelous actor and he did get a few great roles in his career. Not as many as he deserved but he did some fine work in those he took and this may have been the best. He seems a very real person here, dealing with an increasingly unreal and out of control world. People who don't fit in their world is a recurrent theme in Peckinpah's movies, from 'Ride the High Country' on down to 'Junior Bonner.'

The cinematography is pretty darn good too, and well suited to telling the story. Nothing is pretty about the camera shots yet there is a beauty to them as they catch the characters and the Mexican settings. It's the beauty we can see ourselves, from our windows, on our streets, brought into focus.

Like the critics, I perhaps both love and hate this movie. It does have the touch of an over-indulgent director -- Sam Peckinpah was definitely playing auteur. But considering how much the lead character, portrayed by Oates, is a reflection of Peckinpah himself, that works in its way.

'Head' is, essentially, a quest story, but one with a few twists and an ending that, if not exactly happy, still manages to satisfy. The stylized storytelling works -- I suspect that Quentin Tarantino and the brothers Cohen, among others, may have watched this movie a time or two.

If I were the sort to rate things (and maybe I am) I'd probably give it a thumbs-up, a four-out-of-five, and a do-see recommendation. And I'd suggest a posthumous Oscar for Warren Oates.

SB 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Codes

I feel that ISBNs and UPCs are another way to force us into the world corporate economy. We don't actually need them and it's way expensive to register -- and remain registered -- with the issuing body for the UPC (not so much for the ISBN). This obviously favors the larger companies over small businesses. I would label it an unfair business practice.

Although I understand economies of scale, I do not see how this applies to electronically generated numbers. One number should not be more expensive by itself than in a group of a hundred or a thousand. I could understand a set-up fee for ones account but not tiered pricing of the numbers themselves. I can only assume that it is intended as a block for the small business owners.

But the UPC may be obsolete anyway. I'm not talking the bar code part -- anyone can generate bar codes for their own use, though they are becoming an old piece of technology and computers are increasingly capable of recognizing things without them.

I'm referring, in part, to the registration with an official body and being listed in their data base and the rest. With everything so interconnected, it would be simple enough to set up an ID-issuing system and website. Maybe we need an alternative to the 'official' UPC monopoly, something in the same spirit as the Creative Commons effort.

But again, the growing power of computers and their increasing capability to recognize objects without any reference numbers or IDs may make that unnecessary. Why do we need an official ISBN to be listed as a 'book in print?' Books do have titles, after all, and authors and publishers. Giving everything a number is kind of a 20th Century hold-over in this age of tagging and image-recognition.

An aside -- as an 'indie publisher' I do have a block of ISBNs, probably enough to last a decade or two! However, I would never invest in UPC codes for other products -- I simply couldn't afford them. Incidentally, having a UPC and a bar code has never seemed to keep sellers from sending the wrong item anyway. :)

It should also be noted that the ubiquitous smart phones and their relatives are capable of reading bar codes and so on, so the cost of UPC scanners and software is not as big a deal for stores as it once was. It was a sizable investment not so long ago. Now, the cost of having an alternative system available on an inexpensive PC would be almost negligible.

I have come across ThingLink ( which attempts to present an open network alternative to the UPC. Sort of. It seems aimed more at product sold online than in physical stores and is considerably more complex than a simple database, being more about tagging stuff. I, honestly, don't know much about that. But I think it is the direction we're headed and I intend to investigate using it for my products.

Okay, enough on that. Now, how about an alternative to debit and credit cards? Oh wait, it's called cash!

I use a credit card for most purchases these days. Online, of course (although I could use PayPal were I so inclined), and also for my weekly grocery run. Right now, it's the best way to go because I have to manage both my own and my mom's finances, i.e. I can use my own card to purchase stuff but pay the bill with our joint account.

When I am once again alone -- it will come eventually -- I will most likely go back to paying cash most places. I'm just six months out now from being able to start collecting my 'early retirement' social security so I will have a little more cash coming in. It makes sense for me to go for it at 62. Were I in a normal wage-receiving job, not so much!

It won't be much money but I don't need much. I own this property outright so housing is taken care of, outside of taxes and maintenance. I eat simply and cheaply. Being vegetarian definitely helps the wallet. To be honest, I've sometimes considered just dropping the outside world entirely once my caregiver duties are finished -- no internet, no car, maybe even no phone. I can walk or bike the three miles to Graceville when necessary. Just vegetate with the vegetables here on Peanut Road.

But it's unlikely. I don't care that much about interacting but I do about acting. I need my stage: all the world, as Shakespeare wrote. And there is always the possibility that I might actually make some money off all this more-or-less creative stuff I do.

Well, I managed a bit of a segue there, from UPC codes to retirement plans (or absence thereof). Codes and the future can both be difficult to figure out but there is always a key, isn't there?

SB 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Mouse, a Cat, a Dog

A short notice to let folks know that the cover art from our children's picture book, 'A Mouse Is In The House,' is now available on tee-shirts and other merchandise at The Insolent Lad Emporium, our Cafe Press Shop.

That's at

We now have five designs up at the new and improved Emporium, two of them new. More to follow -- though it's mighty slow work with my connection.

Also remember to stop by the Insolent Lad Media page at Face Book and take a likin' to us. To be found at
'The Middle of Nowhere', my YA novel, has been available a little while now at the Arachis Press 'spotlight' at Lulu, along with our other two titles. All of the versions are currently sorted out and correct, and available both as print and PDFs. I hope to continue to add titles regularly, perhaps quarterly.

And that one is at

I do have a box of the TMON books on hand here (as well as the poetry chapbook, 'Pieces of the Moon') so I can sell them direct if I ever get more than three miles away from my house again. Or send autographed copies to people who have a hankering to see my handwriting.

 * * *

In other fascinating news, I installed a home-made pet door (i.e. sawed a hole and hung a cloth over it) for Tucky and Molly's use in cold and inclement weather. I'll 'upgrade' it in time but what I have could serve indefinitely. They are allowed free rein in the front two rooms (library/living room and art studio) which will be closed off from the rest of the house in cold weather.

I'd let them into the other rooms -- and may on really cold nights -- but Mom doesn't interact well with a boisterous and fairly sizable dog. And the cat matches the floor so well she's liable to be run over by a wheel chair.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Big Enough

There are two main groupings on the Right. First, those who feel that the less fortunate are lazy, get what they deserve, etc. These are the folks who have, more than any others, given conservatives a bad image -- the Left tends to see the entire Right as having this attitude.

But there are also those who may be committed to aiding others but believe the government should not be involved (or be as limited as possible). There are many good people who feel this way and they do have some valid points. It's never a good idea to give too much power to the government nor to let it co-opt working independent solutions.

I have always felt that there needs to be a balance between the two, the governmental and the private. Neither can nor should do it all in our current society.

We should keep in mind that when Jesus told us to feed and clothe the poor and the hungry he meant US, not the government. He didn't tell the Roman authorities to do it.

Now there is nothing wrong with us working through the government to accomplish this, in part. Moreover, it is certainly necessary if we wish to establish a stable society. Government needs to be involved for its own good -- having people starving on the streets would destabilize any nation.

So the government needs to provide a basic 'safety net' for its citizens. How big that net need be is open to debate.

But the answer, of course, is 'just big enough.' :)

SB 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I have been an aristocrat
of emptiness, my sterile realm
of skewed sarcasm, poisoned perspective.

Better to rule in Hell? Thank you,
no. I'd gladly scrub the floors
of Heaven clean of every stain

trodden in by weary angels.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

this little piece was developed from fragments I'd jotted down way back in 1970


It's all in Maccabees.
We're the Greeks.
They're the jealous guardians
of their God and of their ways.

We have lured their young
to embrace our ways.
Meaning no harm, of course,
but only to raise them

from their ignorance
and stubborn faith.
Let them mingle with us
in the market, at the bath.

Let them leave their narrow
religion and customs.
Apollo and the World Bank
await with open arms.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

Friday, October 14, 2011


We are infinite for We
are persons of the infinite God.
Each of us our own messiah,
each a prophet, a burning spark,

we are the One who dwells within
and yet remains the Other. As lovers
are we, joined eternally
in the passion of our Being.

And if we sometimes feel the hollow
darkness, too, within us, know
that shadow serves but as the vessel
of our light. Fill yourself;

love shines brighter than all the stars.

Stephen Brooke ©2003

A piece I came across in one of my older journals, refurbished a bit for posting here.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Writing Rules (or Some of Them)

The Middle of Nowhere, even though the original draft goes back to 1999, pretty much reflects my current approach to the writing of fiction. I would hope that my style has become a little more polished in the years since, but the basics haven't changed.

These are not an attempt to teach anyone how to write but here are five rules -- or maybe just ideas -- I've made up for myself, things I try to keep in mind as I work:

1) Have as much exposition as possible accomplished through dialog. If not through dialog, then through action. If not through action, then through internal dialog. Passive description may be, at times, the way to go, but try not to overuse it.

As in a movie, the narrator's voice can pull one away from the feeling of being immersed in another reality. Of course, if a story is told in first-person voice (as is TMON), that voice becomes an active part of the story's reality.

2) Be neither too specific nor too general. Use just enough description to make something real and not so much as to bore the reader with details. Do not load your story down with superfluous imagery in an attempt at 'realism.' The mind will create its own images and, coming from within, they may seem more 'real' than those we attempt to impose.

3) Every action by a character must have a reason. The reason need not be told to the reader, but the writer should know what it is. Know, also, the back-story of the character, who he or she is. Even the most minor character is 'someone.'

4) Have a point of view. You need to know what you are trying to say. No matter how well one writes, it is only words if there is no meaning behind it. The exposition of ones point of view may be subtle; the reader need not even recognize it as such. Indeed, a certain amount of ambiguity can be a good thing, adding interest and depth.

Nor need it be a clearly focused point of view when one begins writing. Authors will often find their message grows more cohesive as they work and new ideas present themselves. Concept arises from content.

5) Which brings us to being flexible. Stories change in the writing. They must grow or they will never reach their potential. Do not be afraid to change things or to follow your characters down whatever road they might lead you. You may well reach a more interesting destination than you originally envisioned.

Should there be more? Probably, but that covers it for me right now. So I'll write now.

* * *

I was finally, after considerable experimentation, able to produce an acceptable epub version (via Calibre) of my poetry chapbook, Pieces of the Moon. It had, of course, been originally formatted in Word Perfect so I had to strip pretty much all the formatting (via converting to plain text) and then reformat it in Open Office Writer.

Writer is quite good for conversion to epub, assuming it is formatted properly. This is because it also converts extremely well into html. Most e-books are, essentially, containers for html. I will do my early drafts from here out in Writer and then format for publication in whatever program is appropriate.

Theoretically, I would be able to convert from epub to the Kindle format without problem, should I decide to publish/sell at Amazon. I'm not sure I want anything to do with the company. I should be happy selling epub at Barnes & Noble and Apple, right?

Anyway, now that I know that I can pull it off, I'll tackle getting The Middle of Nowhere into epub. It's not high on my priorities, however, just something I'll work at when I have the time.

And I'll probably hold off on Pieces of the Moon until I'm ready to launch the new editions, print and PDF, that I have worked up. I don't want to publicize those when I've just released two new books.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tucky's Poem

Someone left a chew-toy for me
right here by the road!
A crunchy flattened armadillo!
Can't I take it home?
I'd play with it, I'd tear it up
into a hundred pieces!
Oh, please, Oh, please, let me have it!
It smells so wonderful!

I'd leave your shoes alone all day,
I wouldn't chew your gloves!
I wouldn't dig holes all over the garden
or gnaw the trees to the ground!
I really am a very good doggy,
but I need stuff to do!
So can't I take home one ripe armadillo,
just one armadillo today?

Stephen Brooke ©2011

Dogs, of course, never rhyme their poems. Cats, on the other hand...

Look, a Book!

I have the printed copy of 'The Middle of Nowhere' in my hands and it looks great! So here's the official announcement:

Stephen Brooke's new Young Adult novel, "The Middle of Nowhere," is now available from Arachis Press. 53,000 words, 240 pages, $12.50 plus shipping for a single copy.

It is the story of fifteen-year-old Martin Groves who is uprooted from a comfortable, narrow life in Atlanta when his parents buy a small motel in a Florida Gulf Coast village. It is a tale of friendship and of floods and of growth.

There is also a dedicated ebook PDF version, for those of you who are allergic to paper. It is priced at a paltry $2.00.

All our books may be found at The Arachis Press

* * *

I've been diligently updating my Cafe Press shop too. It's slow work with my lousy connection (all the worse in this stormy weather). Three designs in the new shop now and more to come, both older products moved from my soon-to-be-deleted 'basic' shops and new merchandise as well.

I'll announce a 'grand re-opening' when I'm done but it's at if you feel like dropping by anytime.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Laugh or cry, curse or pray,
the sun still sets at end of day.

What we do, what we say,
each memory is swept away.

Accept what is, question why,
no answer serves to satisfy.

Curse or pray, laugh or cry,
the sun sinks lower in your sky.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

Sunday, October 09, 2011


The first e-book format I ever used was Microsoft's proprietary .lit -- which the company has decided to stop supporting. I liked it and it was a rather good format -- the Kindle and EPUB have really only caught up to it recently. Indeed, I don't know if any of them yet have the clean and clear readability of the MS Reader's rendering. But it never gained the popularity it probably deserved, perhaps because it was so closely tied to MS (and to their Tablet PC offerings).

I am leery of proprietary formats in general, so I'm not a fan of Amazon's Kindle offering (while recognizing it has its strengths). Well, I'm not a fan of Amazon anyway. EPUB and/or PDF is the way to go in my, uh, e-book.

If one is reading a book on ones computer, I think PDF is still an excellent choice, especially if the formatting (including illustrations) is an integral part of the product. The PDF is not always the best for portable readers, however, as it may not fit well on the screen. For a novel with a relatively narrow page layout, the whole 'reflowable text' thing may be less of a concern.

I did update to a dedicated PDF e-book version of "The Middle of Nowhere" to make the file smaller and more e-reader and web-friendly. That's at, of course. In time, there may also be an EPUB copy available but that remains a back burner project for the moment.


When everything matters,
nothing matters
or is it the other
way around?

Everything matters
the same, anyway,
and, every day,
life has the same point

or lack thereof.
It all means what
you will or won't
let it mean,

so be in love
with life one day
and hate it the next.
It matters or doesn't.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

Don't ask me what this poem is doesn't matter anyway! :D

Thursday, October 06, 2011


The third Billy-goat Gruff
could handle any bridge troll,
any day. No troll toll
for him, just a 'butt out'

and off to his business
and his brothers. So why
didn't all three cross
at once? There's strength in numbers,

after all, especially when
the numbers are six curling horns,
twelve sharp hooves and one
very stupid troll.

That third Billy-goat Gruff
certainly did a number
on him. No kidding, kid --
he must have got his goat.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

a silly thought, in verse form


I've mentioned the idea here -- and included a passage on the topic in the new novel -- that there are two types of people who 'succeed.' These are the perfectionist and the competitor.

The death of Steve Jobs reminded me of this. I consider Jobs and his arch-rival, Bill Gates, to be rather good examples. Steve was an extreme perfectionist while Bill is notoriously competitive. Each was wildly successful in the pursuit of his goals.

It is perhaps no wonder that the two clashed. They were attempting to achieve very different things for themselves, even if the end result for their respective companies was the same.

I suppose Apple will now gradually become more like any other large company. Visionaries from Ford to Sony have founded enterprises that bore their stamp while they lived, only to become one more faceless corporate giant. I suspect Apple has far too much momentum to fizzle out anytime soon.

But it will never be the same without Steve Jobs on the job.

* * *

I'm working up some new designs for my Cafe Press shop(s). I've neglected them and need to get in and revamp everything. Here are some low-rez rough ideas I'm playing with (for tee-shirts and other merch).

I also intend to offer merchandise with the cover picture from 'A Mouse Is In The House."

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


(another old pre-Lucky Lad blog, c.2003, revamped for today!)

You know, I was probably anorexic as a teen and my early twenties. I was chubby as a kid–pretty porky looking by the time I reached ten. I started dieting when I was 13 or so, skipping lunch, etc. And I did get thin, though never quite the body I had in mind! Not much muscle – I was not an athletic kid.

Eventually, I did become more active. I started surfing, real surfing, not the body boarding I had done earlier. More importantly, I got into boxing... and then I had an whole other weight question. Should I starve myself into lighter weight categories or put on muscle? I mostly went with the former and depended on reach and endurance. Not much strength. I’m very small boned anyway, so it seemed the natural choice. At 5' 9 ½” and 130 lb, I had a longer reach than pretty much anyone I would face.

I tried dropping even lighter but it effected my health. One morning, I stood up and everything went black. Totally blind. I sat down and vision returned. Stood up again... blind. I walked on my hands and knees to the fridge and got some food into myself and I was okay but I’ve never dieted that hard again! In fact, that scare probably ended my somewhat self-destructive eating habits. I started working out more, eating more, and though I never boxed as a welter-weight, I moved myself up to that size.

Then, of course, I got into bodybuilding, ate large quantities of food and bulked up to 180!

Some Publishing Notes

So, 'The Middle of Nowhere' is on the virtual shelves and in Books in Print. A printed copy is on the way and I will wait until I have it in my hand before announcing it to the public. Or not announcing it if something is wrong!

BTW, now that I have three titles available I no longer call it 'self-publishing.' I've moved up to 'indie publishing!'

I did revert to a slightly more conservative style guide towards the end. It may not be the Chicago Manual but it's closer. I decided it might be better for the impression we make with our first novel at Arachis Press. Not that I expect anyone much to read it.

Incidentally, the retail price of 'The Middle of Nowhere' is set at $12.50 for the print version.

* * *

One little 'problem' I had to fix in the final edits was the quotation marks. Not how they were used but how they looked. I find that WordPad, which I used for my early drafts, produces those straight up-and-down typewriter-style marks for both opening and closing quotations and they were carried over when I pasted into Word Perfect.

That is not necessarily a problem, in and of itself, but it looked better and more professional when I changed them all. This, in turn, did change the spacing again so I had to readjust that and, last of all, I had to recheck all the end-of-line hyphenations.

I do not think I will write any more novels in WordPad, even if it is nice for jotting down notes.

Also, when I first wrote it, the spaces between 'scenes' had some asterisks in them as a divider. I think I should have left them in but it's too late to worry about that now. They would 'hold' the spaces if they come at a page break. Something to keep in mind for the next book!

* * *

I'll need to think more thoroughly about e-book versions of my stuff from here out. Lulu no longer automatically uses the press-ready PDF to make a PDF e-book, so I can have some differences between the two now, like embedding my cover art. If I'd known of the change, I'd have done a separate version of 'The Middle.' But what I have available is quite okay.

TMON might also be just the perfect choice to experiment with an EPUB version. I'll have to reformat it a good bit and save as Rich Text to convert properly. Unfortunately, Word Perfect is infamously bad for doing that sort of thing -- the very aspects of the program that make it so nice for formatting cause it to put out some strange code that doesn't transfer over well to some other applications.

I'm not sure about going with distribution to iBooks and Barnes & Noble but I can certainly sell through Lulu. I wouldn't use up an ISBN for Lulu-only (including my PDF versions) but would have to allot one if I distributed elsewhere.

I'm also going to look into getting it on Kindle. It seems to be simple enough, as well as free. (Though PDFs will display okay on Kindle readers.) Unfortunately, there are loads of 'spam' books at Amazon's Kindle store, stuff that repeats the same text over and over under different titles and authors and is often plagiarized.

The other books -- the poetry and picture books -- aren't as well suited to e-book formatting so I'll just continue to offer them as PDFs, most likely. Which I should redo, eventually. Lulu actually generated an EPUB of the poetry book (from my PDF) a while back but I didn't like the look and didn't allow it to be marketed.

Monday, October 03, 2011


Winter decided to pay us an early visit on Peanut Road. My thermometer registered about 40 both this morning and yesterday -- that's more like a typical January day than what we might expect in the first week of October.

Let it be a fluke, please, and give us a little autumn weather for the next month or two!

* * *

The Middle of Nowhere is finally done and uploaded to the printer (as a 9 MB PDF -- with my lousy connection I pretty much have to FTP anything that large). The cover will be finalized next. On these last edits I focused more on the typesetting concerns (though I did find a very small number of typos and reworded a few things I thought needed improvement).

I was looking at some of the flashy covers out there. Most seem like overkill to me. My covers so far have been pretty subdued and are liable to so remain. To be honest, I don't think one truly needs more than the title and author on a solid color. Worked for hard-covers for centuries.

This will bring Arachis Press up to three books. More will be forthcoming -- only my writing for now but that might change.

* * *

I realize that it's a tad longer, at almost 53,000 words, than is recommended for a Young Adult novel. Compared to a Harry Potter book, however, it is quite short! I may have chosen to write in the voice of a fifteen-year-old but I tried not to write down to my audience; it is a book for young ADULTS, after all.

Not that it is particularly complex. Considering how complicated many popular television series can get, I think young readers will easily follow a few simple interweaving sub-plots.

Many of the ideas for Middle came from my own experiences with kids that age in a similar area -- when I lived in Steinhatchee, I put in some time as a substitute teacher at the high school in Cross City.

If I finish the covers, I could have it available for sale in a couple days. However, I would prefer to have a printed copy in my hands to look over before announcing the official release.