adventures in dysthymia

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Profiles

I've been fooling about a bit in Corel Draw lately, with thoughts of going new directions, illustration-wise. I think I'm in a bit of a rut with those pen things I've been turning out the last twenty-plus years. So, a complete break maybe...

This is a very simple silhouette of a faun I created. I'm still pretty much in the learning stage on this sort of thing but the basic concept isn't difficult. Maybe it isn't really suitable as 'illustration' but this sort of thing is certainly a way of creating bits of decoration.

Much more than this can be done, of course. Applying gradients, layering figures, etc. Art Nouveau-ish ornamentations. And all in gray-scale, of course, as color illustration is just too pricey for most books. I do have projects where this stuff might fit well.

On another but sort of related note, I created a FaceBook page for myself as 'author.' That's at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephen-Brooke-Author/275146509198283 Not a big deal but it doesn't hurt to have it. Even if I do end up neglecting it.

Good Reads (and Writes?)

The GoodReads site remains a somewhat iffy proposition for me with my connection -- sometimes it's usable, sometimes nothing will work. Nonetheless, I've taken control of my published work there and now have an 'author' account. It is important to get out there and network and it would seem one of the better sites to target.

Not that I won't use GoodReads to find and talk about books, like most of the members. I should be easy enough to find, if you're a member there, or go to http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5347748.Stephen_Brooke  for my page. 

I've been spending a lot of time on the publishing and designing side of the job lately, and not doing that much writing. Almost no poetry, but that has always tended to come in clumps. I have been working on my short stories some and may have a collection ready down the line or, at least, be getting more of them out to magazines.

Some are 'by' my alter-ego, Branford Perry. Using a nom de plume gives one a certain freedom to utilize ones own personal experiences in a fictional narrative. No need to stick to the facts -- this happened to ol' Branford, not me!

Speaking of magazines, 'The Arachis Review' (or whatever it ends up named) is still only a thought. Eventually I should be able to get it up and running and, perhaps, carry on where I left off with 'Peripheral Vision Magazine.' Not any time soon, though.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hiding From the Holidays

I dislike holidays. They disrupt my routine.

And I love to have a routine. When things change to upset that routine, I get upset.

And I'll probably remain upset until I can establish a new routine. That, I'm good at. I've always been able to work out efficient ways to do things.

So I can be a bit rigid. It's my nature and unlikely to change. I like stuff to be clear-cut. That's why I've worked out answers to philosophical questions here on this blog from time to time. They might not be the right answers but they help me frame out a structure in my mind, help me figure out just what I'm trying to figure out!

The psychologist I saw years ago told me I'm probably mildly autistic. Considering that I hardly spoke until I was four, there's possibly some merit to his assessment. Not Aperger's, by the way; folks with that syndrome are rather different -- often good verbal ability early on but not good motor skills. I was pretty much the opposite of that.

I'm also extremely visual-oriented. I was never good (and still am not) at following what I hear. I never really understood language -- or music -- until I learned to read it.

Seeing the words or notes makes them into things. Things can be put into order, made to do what one wants of them.

It gives me control over them. Being in control is what it's about, why I like my routine, why I like to have my answers. Why I try to stay a step ahead of the creeping chaos that follows all of us.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On Changing Human Nature

There are few greater wastes of time
than complaining of human nature;
folks grumble at the dinner table,
hold debates in the legislature!

They fill books with their thoughts on man,
the good and the bad, the hopes, the fears,
but I suspect the only solution
will come from genetic engineers.

Stephen Brooke ©2011


Of course, I'm already perfect and don't need no stinkin' changes.

Theses

"... a book, once it is printed and published, becomes individual. It is by its publication as decisively severed from its author as in parturition a child is cut off from its parent. The book 'means' thereafter, perforce, — both grammatically and actually, — whatever meaning this or that reader gets out of it." ~ James Branch Cabell*

I'm somewhat inclined to agree, although that won't keep generations of literature students trying to figure out authors' motives and writing convoluted theses on the subject.

Such as my friend Amy, whom I dated a while in the early 00s while she was working on her Doctoral thesis. I have a draft copy of it here still: 'From Development to Deconstruction: The Contemporary Female Kunstlerroman.' With which I would probably disagree if I understood any of it. :)

I haven't seen nor really even been in touch with Amy in some time. Not since moving to Peanut Road -- when I was in Steinhatchee, day trips to the Tampa area were possible. So life goes. I may eventually contact her, as we wrote a song together years ago and I've always intended to record it. I would need to tie up a few minor legalities first.

At any rate, I suspect that she will turn up as a source of material in future fiction. So I won't go into her personality or life story here! Since becoming Doctor Amy, she has moved on to other places, other things. That was inevitable and I have wished her nothing but success and happiness.

Well, happiness is a relative matter, as we both had long histories of depression and anxiety. Though we are different in many ways, we could vent to each other about our disappointments and problems.

So be it. Things will remain the same until they change. That's all we can ever say for sure.

* Cabell is a favorite author. Light and breezy fantasy on the surface but whole loads of depth in the, uh, depths.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Print, Prayers, Politicos

My print copy of 'Dreamwinds' looks pretty decent. I can see that 68 pages is getting close to the limit for a stapled chapbook. I do not think I would want to make it any thicker, although Lulu will go up to 88 pages. At 48 pages, 'Pieces of the Moon' works fine in the saddle-stitch format.

So if I create more chapbooks, I'll limit myself to perhaps no more than 60. Or put them out with a perfect-bound spine. Would they still be chapbooks then?

The mostly-black cover, although attractive, does show any scuffs. That's something I'll need to keep an eye on for any copies I sell directly. Maybe I should slip each copy into a plastic bag for protection.

But until I can travel again, that's moot. Someday I'll be out doing readings and such. I do pretty good readings, if I do say so myself. Ha, I should get busy on recording a few.

The pen and ink interior illustrations are serviceable. I didn't do anything very ambitious or very original. The next project may require a little more of me! Btw, 'pen and ink' usually means using a technical pen, the sort a draftsman might employ. Or did before everyone started using CAD.

* * *

Speaking of the next project, it probably will not be the Song of the Sun book I mentioned a while back but something similar -- an illustrated version of The Prayer of St Francis (which, as you may know, has absolutely nothing to with Francis of Assisi). I did a translation from the French for myself a few years back and I think I will try to work up some art to go with it. Perhaps an art nouveau look, as it dates from around that period.

I'll do other similar projects if it works out. I'm thinking that I might give away the ebook versions of the public domain stuff, at least the religious books -- it's a bit of advertising -- and charge minimally for the print editions. Maybe just sell them at cost.

* * *

On a completely different note, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the Republican debates and candidates at this point. It does look like they are well on their way to nominating Barry Goldwater again.

That is in terms of electability, not integrity! Half the field, or better, seem pretty flawed human beings. Ron Paul may be an okay and honorable guy but he's trying to bring back a past that can not work in today's world.

In honesty, there is only one man there for whom I could see voting and that is Jon Huntsman. Yeah, the most moderate candidate in the field. Of course, he doesn't stand a chance in today's atmosphere but maybe we should watch for him four years down the road. He's certainly likeable enough and he seems to understand how things work.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Book Launch

It's time to officially announce the release the latest book from Arachis Press! (I was waiting until I had a print copy in hand.) That would be 'Dreamwinds,' a new chapbook of poetry by yours truly, with the typical pen & ink illustrations. 68 pages, saddle-stitch bound, available in print, PDf and epub formats. And quite reasonably priced, of course.

The print version at Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/dreamwinds/18657630

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Planting and Weeding

Stormy weather is moving in and my internet connection is going out. Typical. With some rain arriving, I've been out transplanting a few things. Mostly privet.

I know privet is a 'noxious weed' in this area, growing everywhere and crowding out the native plants. But if it's coming up in my yard anyway, I might as well move it where it will do me some good.

I'm moving only my more-or-less evergreen plants right now, the privet, the nandinas. I have loads of nandina berries coming for the first time here. They need some cold weather to sprout so I'll be gathering them in about a month and leaving them in the carport. I should have a whole lot of new little nandinas growing by next summer.

They, and the privet, do thrive with little care so I'll keep planting them. Along toward February, I'll get busy on all those seedling peaches and the mulberries The wild cherries, too, which also come up volunteer everywhere.

I think I will also transplant my figs which suffered a lot in this past summer's heat and drought. Actually, the grafted parts may have died off and what I have now might be only the root stock. So I'm going to put them in a bit shadier spot and maybe get some more!

* * *

I've been going through my modestly-sizable collection of fonts and weeding out or uninstalling a few that are unneeded, unsatisfactory, or redundant.

Some are copies, inferior or not, of other typefaces. They may or may not be legal -- there is no law against copying someones else's font, even if it is an exact clone. BUT if one utilizes the code from a digital typeface design, that is theft. We who use these may be in the dark as to which are which.

In an earlier day, foundries copied each others ideas on a regular basis. They might not have been exactly the same but they were obviously intended as competition. This still involved designing the font on the drawing board and casting the type. Now, the casting part is unnecessary and the drawing board has given way to the computer, at least in part.

I am a bit hesitant about using 'free' fonts, in general. Not the ones that came bundled with Windows or whatever. Those are generally okay -- there's never a problem with Arial or Times New Roman!

I'm talking the ones that some hobbyist created and is giving away. They may be fine or they may not display properly in some applications. There's no problem, of course, in using them as display fonts and converting them to graphics. Embedding them in a press-ready PDF may be an whole other question.

Anything from a 'big name' foundry is fine, of course -- Bit Stream, URW, Monotype, etc. Whether the copy you might have is legal to use is sometimes anyone's guess! That, however, is not a problem unless you are using them commercially, in books, on an often-visited website, in print ads and so on.

Or are giving them away!

There are some safe collections out there that can be recommended. The URW set of fonts that comes bundled in Ghost Script is excellent and free and can be downloaded separately. Google and you'll find them. I could live with just that collection of typefaces, aside from the need for an occasional odd display font.

The Bitstream Vera set is also good and free and trust-worthy. There is an open development of this group of fonts as the Deja Vu typefaces, but some (including me) have had the odd problem with them.

By the way, if you have Adobe Reader installed there may well be some nice Adobe fonts hidden away in the program folder on your hard drive, in particular Minion and Myriad. If you feel like taking the time, search them out and install them as part of your regular font selection.

* * *

I eat a lot of complex carbohydrates and a lot of fiber. I've had friends who swore by the low-carb diet but it never worked well for me. The fact that I do (or did) mostly anaerobic exercise probably plays a role in this. Walking or running burns fat. Weightlifting burns carbs. In general.

Fat always made me fat. Well, that and beer! I've concluded that alcohol does depress my metabolism more than I would like so I've had very little in the past year or so. The fact that Graceville is a 'dry' town probably has more to do with that, really.

It truly does depend on ones body and ones lifestyle. Still, I have my misgivings about low carbs as a steady thing. I would be fearful of clogging both my arteries and my bowels.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Buttons and Bands

I have this modestly sizable collection of web graphics I've been collecting over the years. Some have become sort of obsolete as screens kept getting wider! But in all, they're still usable.

Except that I've been fooling around in Corel Draw and finding I can make my own sooooo easily. Well, some of them anyway. Boxes and buttons and so on are pretty simple. And I can get exactly what I want, not just something that's 'close enough.'

It is also worth mentioning that one can design and create ones own True Type fonts in Draw. That's something I might fool around with more some day.

* * *

We have yet another musician in our extended family. That is beside, of course 'Mean Mary' James and your rather less talented (or at least a lot less well known!) author of this blog. That would be my grand-nephew, Josh Price.

Josh is the son of Mary's older sister, April. He grew up out in the LA area and is a member (guitarist) of the band Via Verde. They, I guess, would be characterized as Christian Rock. Not totally my cup of darjeeling, musically (on first listen, I felt a bit of a U2 vibe to them), but they seem talented enough.

Anyway, they are on FaceBook (like everyone else) at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Via-Verde-Official/105292399512079

BTW, there are folks on the other side of my family (i.e. my Brooke cousins) who are also involved in the music biz. To be honest, I haven't really looked into them as they are in New York and seem to be urban music oriented. I should check them out when I have lots of spare time...yeah.

Actually, it's difficult for me to listen to music at all with my current internet situation. Forget streaming! I can devote an hour or so to downloading a song occasionally, assuming the download doesn't break off somewhere in the middle. Or, more typically, when it's almost finished.

* * *

I mentioned a post or two back the idea of working with public domain material. Well, I've chosen a project (at least tentatively) and that is to illustrate Francis of Assisi's 'Canticle of the Sun' (or whatever variant on that title you happen to prefer).

The first thing to decide, I suppose, is whether it will aimed at a young or adult audience! Or maybe it doesn't matter; anyway, I'll be thinking and sketching. I do not intend to rush it; it may not even be finished in the course of the next year. But it will be, eventually.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Number Four

My fourth book at Arachis Press, 'Dreamwinds,' is now published, though it won't be officially announced until I have a print copy in my hands. That should be in a week or so, most likely.

It is a 68 page chapbook of my more 'fantastic' poems (mostly), in a saddle stitch format. My feeling was that the staples were preferable for a book this size and it will let me pass on some savings to the buyers.


There will be buyers, right?

After uploading my files, I realized I had failed to make a note in the book of my font usage, something I normally like to mention. For anyone who is interested, the typeface used for all interior text is Venetian301 Dm BT in a variety of sizes. It seemed suitable for the look of the book, being a somewhat modern (from the 1920s) take on a Rennaisance design. The cover uses Dominican, an 'antique' font -- antique referring to its appearance, not its actual age!

The next project is the revised edition of my first poetry chapbook, 'Pieces of the Moon.' I have already had the EPUB revised version on sale for a few days; the PDF and print editions will be up when I get to it. Before the end of the year, I'm sure.

I probably never would have gotten started on this -- or at least jumped in so thoroughly -- were it not that my current situation makes other artistic endeavours difficult-to-impossible to pursue. So I finally gave up any immediate plans for recording or such and decided to give my full attention to writing and publishing.

This is sort of what I do anyway: get totally involved in one thing to the exclusion of all else!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Books New and Old, and Getting Cold

I uploaded all three versions of 'Dreamwinds' today and the ebook versions -- EPUB and PDF -- are ready for purchase. I need to finish up the cover for the print edition and then it, too, should be available.

However, I won't announce it as such until I have a copy in my hands and make sure it's correct! The cover art is ready, it simply needs to be positioned properly on a template and a bar code added for the ISBN. I'll have that done pretty quickly.

* * *

We're due for our first freeze of the season tonight and it looks like a serious one. Not one of those little just-down-to-32-or-so events, but well into the twenties. Good thing I finally got around to clearing a space in the carport for the truck.

Not to mention putting in a pet door for Tucky and Molly. Fortunately, the weather is projected to warm right back up and be in the 80s by midweek.

* * *

I've been considering illustrating and publishing an occasional title from the public domain. This is something I've mentioned before, in particularly concerning the work of Lord Dunsany.

But it is true that Dunsany's work is all in copyright in most of the world. The exception would be anything published before 1923 which, in the United States, is considered to be in the public domain.

So, even if I can legally put out an edition of, say, 'The Gods of Pegana,' I could only sell it here in the USA. Moreover, I would have some ethical concerns if the copyright is still protected in much of the world.

Therefore, I should consider authors from further back -- there are certainly plenty available!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dreamwinds Update

Chances are I'll get the formatted version of 'Dreamwinds' uploaded to the printer this weekend. Maybe not the cover, but that should be ready very soon, as well. The book should be on sale by Thanksgiving. As before, I will have print, PDF and EPUB versions available. And, as before, I definitely recommend the PDF over the EPUB, as it is an illustrated book of poetry.

Whether the EPUB edition will go to Barnes and Noble and so on is a bit uncertain at the moment. I'm still waiting to see if my EPUB editions of 'The Middle of Nowhere,' 'Pieces of the Moon,' and 'A Tale of Two Turkeys' meet with the approval of the big online sellers. If they are accepted to show up at B & N and at the ibookstore, I'll keep submitting ebooks to them, using Lulu as my distributer.

The distribution is free, for now. If that changes, or if my efforts are turned down for some reason, I might not continue nor bother to allot ISBNs to the EPUB editions. I would, however, continue to put out EPUB versions for sale through my own store and website.

addendum: Pieces of the Moon, The Middle of Nowhere and the free short story, A Tale of Two Turkeys, are available at the iBookstore so it looks like the EPUB thing is a go, at least for now.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Pushcart Prize

I've been nominated for a Pushcart award. Not a big deal, really, a nomination but it's nice anyway. Actually winning an award? Pretty unlikely but one never knows.

The nomination was for my poem 'Jewels' in the online Scarlet Literary Magazine (Vol.1, Issue 3, 'Odes to the Moon').

The Pushcart Prize has been around quite some time, a legitimate and reasonably prestigious award. It is for work from the small presses and literary magazines.

Well, as they say, it's an honor just to be nominated. :)

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Stuff

It's just stuff. No one will
care about it when I'm gone.
Into the trash, to second-hand
stores, to boxes in the attic.

It's just stuff. Into a hole
when I'm gone, forgotten
in an hour or two. Just stuff,
after all, I'm just stuff.

Stephen Brooke ©2011


Stuff and nonsense, undoubtedly.

I joined GoodReads the other day, in part to help promote my own books, in part because I like to read. Unfortunately, it proved to be yet another site that is very difficult to use with my slow connection. There are far too many of those anymore.

Someday, I suppose, there will a high-speed option for me, here in the boonies (other than too-expensive satellite). In the mean time, I do get frustrated!

Monday, November 07, 2011

More Turkey

For those who might prefer not to read our free short story, 'A Tale of Two Turkeys,' as an EPUB (see Free Turkey), it can also be seen online at our Arachis Press Blog. We have added a 'Sampler' page where we will occasionally post writing samples or stories; that's at: http://arachispress.blogspot.com/p/sampler.html

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Future of the E-Book

The e-book and the various readers intended for its viewing has made some noteworthy strides in the last few years. It's still not anywhere from ideal, of course, but getting better.

I suspect that the dedicated reader's time has already come and gone. More and more, the line between them and smart phones and tablet computers is becoming less clear. If the devices on which we read our e-books become increasingly capable, so should the e-books themselves.

The artistic element of the book has largely been set aside, but that will change. More interesting fonts, designs, illustrations -- all these are aspects that should come in the future. There will be an increasingly multi-media feel to the e-book, as well.

Right now, epub or mobi or other similar e-book formats provide easy readability and relatively small files, but we do give up many things we expected from printed books. The venerable PDF is truly better in this respect but the files are larger and the pages don't always display that well on small e-reader screens. It would remain my choice for reading poetry or anything that calls for a static layout.

And, of course, for reading on a computer. I'll admit I do not own a dedicated e-reader nor, for that matter, the smart phone or tablet PC. I'm sitting in front of a big screen when I read an ebook. That does make a difference!

Some of the things to expect in the future? I'm sure that readers will also be talkers. The e-book will also be an audio book if we prefer to listen. There will be embedded videos, interviews with the author and such. Plenty of linking to just about anything. Full integration with computers and all their power.

Reading will become very much a Star Trek experience. We'll be like Geordie talking to the computer. But probably no holograms!

---

A little mention that I started up another Blogger blog, one for publishing news that I have named The Arachis Press. The addy for now is arachispress.blogspot.com but I may link it to an insolentlad address like I have here at the Lucky Lad.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Free Turkey

I've made a short story of mine available as a free ebook download, epub-format, at my Arachis Press spotlight at Lulu. Here's the link: http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/a-tale-of-two-turkeys/18615719

This little piece is titled 'A Tale of Two Turkeys' and is essentially a slightly reworked chapter from 'The Middle of Nowhere,' my Young Adult Novel (also, of course, available at a modest price). Download, read, pass it along if you wish. My Thanksgiving present to y'all (and a bit of publicity).

Thursday, November 03, 2011

To Bed

We'll be switching back from Daylight Saving Time this weekend. I've expressed my disdain for the whole concept before so I won't go into that again. It doesn't impact me much anyway, as I rise with the sun and go to bed when I'm sleepy.

I'm putting some of my projects to bed as well. I have an EPUB-source version of my YA novel, 'The Middle of Nowhere,' worked up and will get it converted and should have it for sale at Lulu shortly. Elsewhere (ibooks, B&N) later, if it meets their formatting requirements. I had to rework the 'Pieces of the Moon' EPUB a teensy and resubmit it, as it had a problem. It does remain available at my showcase store at Lulu, however.

I have also finished the very last of twelve illustrations for 'Dreamwinds' (not counting the covers) and should have that book formatted and ready to go soon. Earlier than I was projecting -- it might be ready for your Christmas shopping after all!

Racing and Reality

Okay, I’m not a true redneck... I hate Nascar. Always have. It’s not that I dislike racing; at one time I was quite the fan of the sports car circuit, formula one, all of that. Nascar has always had a certain meaningless quality about it. It was created purely as entertainment and has no true relationship to the real automotive world. Sort of the racing equivalent of pro wrestling.

Of which I was a fan, but that’s something to write about some other day.

I’m not suggesting Nascar is fake; obviously it isn’t. However, its rules serve to make exciting racing, not prove anything about automotive design. I’d much rather see “real” cars going around a track. In other words, I’m a bit of a sports car snob. Or was, at one time. These days, cars don’t mean that much to me; my truck gets me where I want to go. It’s just a tool, a piece of metal.

Though if someone was willing to buy me a new Mustang, I might change my mind.

another pre-Lucky Lad blog, repurposed for posting here