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.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Worlds Apart, a song lyric

I'm back from my four days visiting in Nashville. Might have more to say about that later. Sunday morning, at my niece's home, while everyone else was still asleep (I'm going to wake up at five-ish, no matter how late a night it was), I had nothing better to do so I sat down and popped out this somewhat mediocre song. Music too. Somewhat country, I suppose. The 'four-hundred miles and too many years' phrase had come to me the previous evening and I knew I had to use it. Incidentally, the 'years' originally referred to an age difference but it could be interpreted in other ways here.

This piece will probably not be worth developing and just sit in my files, but I had to get it out of my system.

Worlds Apart

Four-hundred miles and too many years
stand between you and me;
too tall a mountain, too broad a river,
too far for us to be.
Too far for me to ever cross
the fences built by time;
you must live in this world of yours,
I'll abide in mine.

Worlds apart, worlds apart,
where do we end when there's no place to start?
There's too much to give, too little to live,
when we remain worlds apart.
Worlds apart, worlds apart,
How far can a man promise his heart?
Too far to fly but I had to try;
you and I, worlds apart.

I thought once I had glimpsed the shore,
might reach the other side;
but every ship that I have launched
was lost on the tide.
For loss came close behind each gain,
as night will follow day;
four-hundred miles and too many years
can not be swept away.

Stephen Brooke ©2015

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Awry, a poem


I have become a bit awry,
leaning off to the one side
as though growing slowly toward
an imaginary sun.

One would not even notice, most
of the time, but there it is —
off-center, bent so slightly, ever
so, and by what unseen hand?

Might each twig that is twisted, given
time, yet curve back on itself,
find a destined way upward
from its birthright of the soil?

Let me sleep and in the darkness
untwine my self, dream into truth.
I am but a bit awry,
after all. Only a bit.

Stephen Brooke ©2015

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Enter, a poem


I shall enter you
as a conqueror enters
a captive city, with sword

and a smile. Time shall
wash clean the streets of blood.
All hurt is forgotten

in days of peace, and of faith
in impregnable walls.
Believe, again, believe,

as I enter you
with a smile

Stephen Brooke ©2015

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Rewrites and Calendars

I have gone through a couple moderately extensive rewrites on 'Shaper,' the next novel, and it is probably pretty close to final form. Unlike the previous novel, which was written to a formula and a well-developed outline, this one was created a little more 'free form,' so there were things that needed tidying up. 'Coast of Spear' needed pretty much nothing but a bit of editing, a word change here and there.

Of course, there was something of an outline for this one, and plenty of notes on the characters and their environment. I knew where all the streets and stores in Cully Beach were before I started writing. I knew some of the floor plans, too. I knew where the best surf breaks were and what time school let out. Not having to wing those sorts of things really speeds up the writing process once one sits down and tackles the narrative.

But I flubbed my time-line a little and had to go back and rewrite some things to fix that. That was partly because I didn't have a calendar for the year the story was set, 2000, and didn't have working internet to find one. I eventually worked it out in my head – correctly, it turns out! – and straightened things out. It actually let me put my ending closer to Christmas day, which was an improvement, and tighten up events.

Any-the-way, onward and upward with the publishing of this novel. Probably a September release date. The 15th, maybe? Don't want to crowd it in too closely to the release of 'Awful Alvin.' No later than October 1, I am sure.

Speaking of 'Alvin,' all versions, print and ebook, are now available at our store at Lulu: It should show up at retailers around the internet over the next month. Incidentally, “Coast of Spears” is now at Amazon if one must buy there.

And then, the next poetry collection, to be named “The Tower,” before the end of the year. November, most likely, in time for your Christmas shopping!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

What, Another Novel?

I have been offline for a while, thanks to internet connection problems. And no, I couldn't get on with a mobile device — I have horrendously bad cell reception out in the sticks where I live and have trouble making calls, much less getting online.

In fact, that was part of the problem with getting my satellite internet connection sorted out. I could talk to the nice kids at support with no problem if I went a couple miles up the road, but I needed to be at home to try the remedies they suggested. Frustration as I kept losing my calls!

I actually found the problem myself, eventually, when I got tired of trying to talk to them. Bad coaxial cable leading from the dish into my house. I have my own cable hooked up at the moment, running in through a window. Will attempt to bring it through the wall when I get ambitious.

So what did I do with myself while I could not get online? I sat down and wrote the 'serious' more-or-less mainstream novel I have had planned for some time. Almost 68,000 words, titled “Shaper,” it revolves around surfers in large part. There is something of a mystery sub-plot but that is mostly to hang events on. Here's a pic of the cover I worked up, before I ever actually wrote the narrative:

I will almost certainly publish through Arachis Press again. Maybe sometime in the Fall. Here's a blurb for the novel:

Ted Carrol had found his 'last place.' A place where he could live quietly and build surfboards and where all the kids called him 'Shaper.'

His settled existence was not to last. Into Cully Beach swept Michelle and her daughter Charlie, two women escaping a dark past. How could Shaper have known he was going to fall in love?

Surf and suspense, smugglers and self-doubt, combine as Shaper must solve their mystery and that of his own future, in a tale both serious and funny, romantic yet real.

Shaper — a novel by Stephen Brooke

Now, do not assume I churned out this novel cold. I had been jotting down ideas, investigating characters, creating the town in which it was set, etc. for at least a couple years. And there was a short story, called “Surf,” that I adapted for one of the chapters.

So, what next? I've already started work on another poetry collection, to be called “The Tower.” Finished off six pen and ink illustrations for it and am working on the layout and choosing the poems when I feel like it. No hurry on that, but it will no doubt appear before the end of this year. And, of course, the children's poetry book, “Awful Alvin,” is appearing this month. Officially, August First, but the ebook is available right now directly from Arachis Press. Print to follow in a couple days, both available at other retailers eventually.

I will also be starting work on the second 'Malvern' novel, the sequel to “Coast of Spears.” Back to fantasy adventures, like my five previous novels! Those are written in a much tighter, more straight-forward manner than “Shaper.” Hey, I had to write a 'literary' novel someday, you know.

Also, Arachis Press may be putting out our first book without my name on it as author. I've been looking over a collection of short stories and think I want to publish it. Indeed, I wouldn't mind looking at more work by other writers. I can't do much to promote it but I can provide formatting and sales.

So, back to something. Work, maybe. Oh, and I will be taking off for Nashville this coming weekend, just a couple days. Cat won't allow more than that.