Monday, September 26, 2016

A Pile of Bricks

Art that must be explained to be fully understood is perfectly fine. Art that must be explained to be appreciated is bad art. Anyone can enjoy an Impressionist painting without understanding the theories behind it. They can even appreciate the complete abstraction of a Mondrian, the rhythms, the colors.

But who gets anything from an unmade bed? What is there in a pile of bricks placed in the middle of a gallery? These pieces have no intrinsic value. They depend in total on theory, becoming dissertations, not art.

Concept is good. All art must have concept or it is no more than craft. But concept by itself is not art. It is only a pile of bricks.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Blackest, a poem


Bring me the blackest thing man’s eye has seen,
blacker than space where comets careen;
black as a raven’s feather in flight,
black as the soul’s darkest storms of night;

blacker than caverns that never knew day,
blacker than depths where leviathan lay;
black as the hearts of three-dozen dragons,
black as the beer in winter’s last flagons;

blacker than black and then blacker yet,
blacker than faceted gems carved of jet.
Bring me the blackest thing man’s ever known,
hidden away where no light has shone.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sci-Fi and I

Much great science fiction, from Frankenstein on down, is conceptual. It starts with an idea and explores its ramifications. This is something sci-fi does well.

It does not have to, however. There is nothing wrong with a straight-forward adventure set in the stars. Ideally, it should include more than just adventure or there is no point in it being science fiction at all! The setting, futuristic or otherwise, should at least bring some interesting speculations to the page. It allows the author to bring in thoughts that might not work in another genre.

I don’t write sci-fi. Not yet, at least, though I have notes toward possible novels and stories. Yes, I do have a ‘concept’ for a novel. But I’m mostly about characters, about people and their interactions. I probably don’t really think like the best SF writers. Even ones who created great characters, such as Le Guin.

What is my concept, you might ask? I came across the ‘thought experiment’ of medieval philosopher Avicenna, known as ‘the floating man,’ the idea that an intelligent being with no senses or experiences, ‘floating,’ would still be self-aware. I would be inclined to disagree (being with Aristotle on this one that “there is nothing in the mind which was not first in the senses”) but it is certainly a concept that could be explored and science fiction would be a good place for that exploration.

Of course, it is tied to a tale of espionage and adventure, with a working title of ‘The Floating Mind.’ I may get around to actually outlining it fully and tackling a narrative one day. Or not — so many other projects to work on!

Fantasy, I shall continue to turn out. In many respects, it is more suitable to these sort of philosophical questions, the ‘big’ ones of existence and god and all that. It’s myth. Everyday life certainly may be investigated endlessly but with fantasy one can step back and ask how much of it is real. To use a complete cliché, one can look at the forest instead of the trees. And, having recognized that the forest exists, cross the hill and find another one!

To me, fantasy is very akin to poetry. It explores more with metaphor than do most forms of prose writing. Perhaps that is its personal appeal.

In honesty, however, I feel myself more and more drawn to writing mainstream fiction. At the moment I am writing, rewriting, and editing on a new novel of that sort, to be titled ‘Waves.’ It continues the stories of the characters introduced in ‘Shaper,’ published last year, the surfers and others in the little (fictional) Florida coastal town of Cully Beach. And I can get away with a different style, more stream-of-consciousness and less action. That actually makes it a little harder to edit, to decide what should stay in and what should go — with a fast-paced adventure, those sorts of choices tend to be obvious.

When I finish it, who knows what I’ll tackle? Most likely, another fantasy adventure set in the world of my Malvern novels. I have a new trilogy (of sorts) planned there and would like to make a start. But I must get back to a Donzalo sequel eventually, and I have a whole series of spy novels I’ve been thinking of, and a western or three.

And just maybe that science fiction novel.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Waves Coming

Aiming for a December release.

Novel, a poem


The latest novel from the poet
appeared today. Who will remember
his verses? The words are so few,
when held up for comparison.

Or will some future reader, looking
up from the page, tell her companion,
He also wrote fiction, I understand,
but it wasn’t very good.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016

On Paper, a poem

On Paper

My poems on paper were ever
a bit of a mess —
arrows pointing here and there,
crossings-out, slashes
added and removed as line
breaks slid forward or back.
A list of alternate words
and phrases had to be scrawled
about the margins or at the bottom,
and question marks abounded,
the nuts and bolts of creation.
Yet they came together, as surely,
as the neat lines now on my screen.
They came together and I named
them ‘poem’ and wrote another
on the next piece of paper.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

It's true. Stuff rarely just flows out.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Differeent, a poem


You are different
but it would be easy
to fall in love again.
I, too, am different.

We could be strangers, learning
each other all over, comparing
each other to those half-
forgotten lovers we were.

Let me call you, sometime,
and we can get together.
Your number has changed, too,
hasn’t it? Yes, sometime.

You are different.
Everything is different.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

Nothing special. I jotted most of this down on scrap paper last night after I had turned the computers off.  I admit that the germ of the idea came from someone's post on Tumblr a day or two ago. In a sense, a sort of a very short story, isn't it? It's anyone's guess how it ends!

Monday, September 12, 2016

The No-See-Um

The tiny biting pest known as the no-see-um is common in much of Florida, but especially close to the coasts. Like mosquitoes, they breed in standing water. There are many other names for the little insects, midges being one of the most common.

I am just far enough inland where I currently reside, in the Florida panhandle, to rarely see a no-see-um (that’s an oxymoron, isn’t it?). Only when there is a strong southerly breeze carrying them up from the coast do they appear here. But I have had innumerable encounters and bites in other parts of the state.

Where I grew up on the south-western coast, in the town of Naples on the Gulf of Mexico, we called them sand flies. The variety there was particularly tiny and could pass through pretty much any normal screen. In the days before air conditioning was common, it could be pretty uncomfortable trying to sleep at night with those tiny monsters freely entering the house. Not to mention the fun I had running an early morning paper route with sand flies thick in the air. At least they made me forget about the mosquitoes!

Later, I moved quite a bit further up the Gulf coast to Steinhatchee. A larger species abounded there, known locally as sand gnats. The bite was, if anything, even worse, but the swarms weren’t quite so thick. Generally, the no-see-ums would be most active when it started to grow dark — they do not show up much in the sunshine.

I remember many encounters with the no-see-um on surf trips to the east coast. We would usually try to make it to the Atlantic before dawn — or would attempt some form of overnight camping — so the midges would be out in force. One had a choice of sweltering in the car with the windows closed or opening them and being eaten alive. Ah, they are almost as strong in my memories of Sebastian Inlet as the waves themselves.

The no-see-um is a part of Florida life, or used to be, as surely as anything else. But what brought them to my mind, today? A mention of them on Facebook, on a page dedicated to Flagler Beach, one of my favorite places and sorta-kinda the template for the fictional town of Cully Beach in my novel SHAPER (and the upcoming WAVES). I realized that putting a few words about the no-see-um into a fictional narrative is just the sort of detail that helps bring it to life, to make it more ‘real.’ So FB is occasionally good for something.

Of course, they can also be symbolic of something. What might a no-see-um signify? If nothing else, that even a seeming paradise may not be perfect. There is always the hidden problem. That little things matter. And so on.

I rarely put any direct, overt symbolism in my stories but I also recognize that everything in fiction is a metaphor, on some level. I know I put this sort of thing in without actually thinking about it, sometimes, and only recognize the symbolism, the implicit meaning to it, on rereading. Then I might change a few things to support it, but never to make it obvious. Indeed, I might try to make it less obvious.

In ‘The Bonfire of the Vanities,’ Tom Wolfe includes a painfully wordy scene in which a swarm of gnats become just such an overt symbol. Some readers (and critics) may find that sort of thing impressive but to me it is just bad writing. Why? Because it does not really serve the story. It is a flight of self-indulgence, of ‘aren’t I clever?’

Maybe a symbol should be like a no-see-um, something you don’t know is there until it bites you. Or buzzes in your ear. (Now I am the one trying to be clever, aren’t I?)

The no-see-um is a fact of life in Florida. It may not get the press of the mosquito, but it is every bit as common. Whether as a realistic detail, a metaphor, or a pest, I know I’ll be dealing with it from time to time.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

Festival Mystery

I had plans — fairly nebulous but plans none the less — to follow up the current novel-in-progress with a mystery set at the Florida Folk Festival. This was to be the third in the sequence of ‘Shaper’ novels about surf shop owner, Ted Carrol.

Ted is the protagonist and narrator of SHAPER and of WAVES, the book on which I am working right now. The novels in which he figures are ostensibly ‘crime’ stories but they are really closer to being ‘mainstream’ or even ‘literary fiction.’ They are NOT tightly written in the style of an effective mystery story.

Anyway, the idea was to send Ted and new wife, Michelle, to the Florida Folk Festival the year after the events in WAVES, which would make it May of 2002, perhaps or perhaps not with Michelle’s daughter, Charlie, in tow (she has plans for a police career), probably spending time there with his artist friend Pat and his wife Betty. Exactly what the ‘mystery’ would entail, I had not decided but it would probably not involve murder.

I am thinking differently now. I still want to do the festival mystery but I need a faster paced and possibly third person approach. I think maybe there should be a murder (it would be hushed up, of course, which is why none of you Florida Folkies reading this ever heard of it!). Maybe Pat will the central character instead (or Betty or even young Charlie, if she attends). I would like to move it a year earlier to 2001, the year that there was thick smoke at the festival from forest fires. That would be a perfect cover for crimes and pursuit. It was also the year I myself ‘discovered’ the Florida Folk Festival, thanks to my girlfriend at the time. (There just might be a somewhat thinly disguised version of her in the book!)

Or I might stick to the original idea. Lots of other novels in my head and some of them are going to be written first. I’ll let this concept sit for a while and see what new thoughts I might have about it. I’m plugging away at WAVES and may or may not have a finished version ready for release this year. Then on to something else, probably another fantasy novel. Or that western or maybe the spy tale? We’ll see.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Pumpkin, a poem


Life is like a pumpkin.
It is also like a cabbage
or a potato or any other
vegetable you might prefer.

It will sound profound,
unless it is a rutabaga.

Folks will nod sagely
as they attempt to understand
your metaphor, saying,
Yes, life is like that, isn’t it?

In the end, you might even
believe it yourself.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

A complete throw-away, of course. Maybe I was thinking of the season of pumpkin-spice 'everything' that will soon be upon us.

Friday, September 09, 2016

The Last Ice Cream, a poem

The Last Ice Cream

The last ice cream of summer
melted along the curbs of suburban
streets, as bicycles lay
waiting on the neighbors’ lawn,

waiting to take us on one
more adventure. How far could
we pedal? Across the tracks
(where we weren’t supposed to go)

or only up the street to the park —
it really was up the street;
we coasted most of the way back
beneath the supple shade of half-grown

maples. I would not listen
for that jingle and that song
next summer; I would not know
where to look. The last

ice cream of summer was truly
the last ice cream of summer,
summer that came only once
and never returned.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

In the Boat Demo Song

I needed a break from working on the novel-in-progress, so I ran off this simple demo version of my song "In the Boat." Reggae, sort of.

I suppose my alter-ego King Carambola should perform this. But he gets out even less than the 'real' me.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Cover Story

I admit that I dislike busy ‘movie poster’ book covers. One can see that by looking at my own books — all are my own design work, although I did borrow images for some of them. Big, easily read titles! Strong contrasts, broad areas of color. This is what I prefer.

They are relatively abstract, for the most part. Many use a silhouette approach, black on a simple background. That is enough to make an impact — more of an impact, I think, than another generic girl or fighting man. Line up a bunch of typical covers and mine will stand out. This is not to claim that they are good covers (though I don’t think they are bad...most of them anyway). Just better covers.

Even if they are only mediocre, even if they are rather subdued. The idea is to get someone to read what is between those covers, not to dazzle with the art on the outside of my books. Ideally, they should be a bit mysterious. There is no need to actually portray what might happen inside.

And a cover should be somewhat attractive. Lurid and ugly may catch ones eye, but does one want to live with it? I would take the Art Nouveau abstractions Margaret Armstrong created a century or so ago over most of the bad art on today’s covers. An example:

Do buyers expect those covers, the sort that have become so common? That might vary some from genre to genre. ‘Literary’ fiction is generally going to be more subdued, more ‘serious.’ Interestingly, mysteries also tend toward simpler, more abstract covers, traditionally. Maybe they want to keep the contents of the novels a mystery! On the other hand, romances have long gone with lurid pictures on the front. Many covers I see these days look too much like those romances to me. I’m enough of a snob to be repelled by them.

I make no claim of being a particularly good designer, even if I do my own work. Yes, I did study art some in college, peripheral to my major in Art History, and, yes, I have been a more-or-less professional artist since. This does not mean I have any skill in design or illustration; indeed, I know just enough to recognize my deficiencies in these areas. That is another reason I attempt to keep things simple.

Incidentally, here is a mock-up of the cover for the next novel (probably), WAVES. Back to writing it now!

Tuesday, September 06, 2016


After gushing about the new-ish Sitka as an on-screen typeface, I have to admit that I quit using it for my writing. Oh, I still use it for notes but not for drafts of stories or novels.

Or poetry or songs, for that matter. For those, I had been working with Courier New. I have also dropped that and gone with one monospaced font for all my writing — Century Schoolbook Mono (from BitStream). I find it easier to edit, especially in a large size (I use 12 point normally, 13 for book drafts). The mistakes show up better in a monospaced draft and it is easy enough to read — maybe not quite as easy on the eye as Sitka but more versatile.

I had the same problem with Sitka that I had with my previously favored default typeface, Palatino (or URW Palladio, to be precise), and that is that certain mistakes did not show up well due to the idiosyncrasies of each font. E.g. with the Palatino-style type, quotes were hard to see properly and one could end up missing a backward quotation mark. With Sitka, the capital letters are rather short and mistakes there are easy to overlook. There are other concerns, but those are two of the biggest for those particular typefaces.

As always, I like a monospaced font for writing songs and poetry, and the reason is exactly the same as why they are favored for writing code: the letters and breaks always line up vertically. That makes it easy to set up a metrical form in poetry or bars in music (which are really the same thing). Of course, I do not keep the Century Schoolbook font for the finished products. Poems end up in Palladio for my files, songs in Courier New (because everyone has it and I can send properly aligned lyric sheets to others).

Sitka may be TOO easy to read. One skims over it too quickly. Indeed, it seems a good print typeface as well as an online font, though I would probably use the very similar Charter in a book (or the open source variant, Charis). Schoolbook slows me down but I do find it easier to read than the ubiquitous Courier. Looks nicer, too; indeed, the non-monospaced variant is a perfectly good type for print use. Not a good choice for code, maybe, but I haven’t done much of that in a long time.

Anyway, back to the actual writing of the latest book, now. Ted is about to propose to Michelle!


Jesus warned against putting new wine in old wineskins. He was (apparently) speaking of religious traditions, but the thought can apply to just about anything. ‘Anything’ includes the arts.

What would constitute ‘old wineskins’ in the arts? Not a pastiche of long-ago styles — something of which I am occasionally guilty. Those, for the most part, are not intended as serious artistic statements. No, I think the old skins, the used containers, in this instance are the popular styles, the fashions that too many accept and follow as the ‘right’ way to do things.

But as soon as those become the right way, they become the wrong way. They become old. They are championed by critics and academics — the Pharisees of the arts.

Vintage will follow vintage, and each should have its own taste and bouquet. Savor those of the past, learn the lessons of each. Drink what is left in those old wineskins, use it up, get thoroughly inebriated, and then go find new containers to fill.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

Monday, September 05, 2016


Something I happened to note recently was a statistic that about two-thirds of all gun deaths in the United States are suicides. Not accidents, not murders. This did not surprise me.

I will not keep a handgun in my home for fear I might turn it on myself. (There is a shotgun but I haven’t had shells for it for years.) It is something I have thought about pretty much every day since I was a little kid. I have held a gun to my head on a couple of occasions. It is unlikely that I would do such a thing at this point in my life, but there is no point in tempting fate.

Though honestly, if I learned I had an incurable disease (Alzheimer’s included), I would see nothing wrong with taking my destiny into my hands, making that leap into the darkness on my own terms. I would not wish to linger painfully nor be a burden on anyone.

But probably not with a gun, nor even in a red Cougar. There are gentler ways to go.

With any luck, maybe I’ll just get whacked on the head by my surfboard and drown when I’m a hundred and ten or so. That’s what I’m aiming for, anyway!

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Down in the Delta

I was flipping through the channels on this Sunday morning, for no particular reason, when I landed on the movie “Down in the Delta,” just coming on, and settled there for a few minutes. Until Aunt Annie appeared, the elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s, who plaintively, hopefully, addresses the niece she just met as ‘Mama.’

I couldn’t take it. I started crying and flipped the channel. It just brought up too much of what I went through with my own mother. I’ll admit, I can barely hold it together as I type this. I didn’t know it still affected me this much, even though it is past, even though I don’t think much of it anymore since her passing three years ago.

Could I ever deal with this in my writing? Aside from a handful of poems and songs, I haven’t really addressed my experiences with dementia. Should I, perhaps, is the real question, or just let it continue to fade?

Not that it ever will, completely. That part of my life, those years as caregiver, remain with me. Maybe I shall feel ready to let some of that into my fiction some day. I don’t know. I do know that it is there and undoubtedly continues to have some effect on my life, how I think, what I do. We are our past.

And maybe someday I’ll be able to watch that movie. But not today.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

World Building

J.R.R. Tolkien essentially spent his entire life world building and it shows in the depth of his work. The world he created is an integral part of what he has to say. For many authors, however, it is too often nothing more than stage scenery, a painted backdrop, unreal.

This is one reason why my fantasy novels (so far) are all pretty much set in the same well-realized world. There may be thousands of years between the events, but the rules are the same, the way magic works, the ‘gods’ that interact with humanity, and so on. The continents and seas and climate patterns are there, too, all the physical stuff.

I, too, have spent my life creating this world. It is not the only world my fiction visits, of course. Some of my work is mainstream stuff, firmly set in the world in which you and I live. That, too, requires a certain sort of ‘world building,’ the creation of plausible imaginary spaces within the framework of reality. The little Florida towns of my novels SHAPER and THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE may not exist but I know where the streets run, where the grocery stores are, etc. That is world building just as much as the creation of a fairy realm might be.

And both have to be believable, to seem real. That is how we provide a solid base from which to launch our flights of fancy.

The world builder must be economist and sociologist, geologist and naturalist. There must be some understanding of how things work and interact, how they all fit together. None of this needs to be told in ones tales; it is primarily back-story, things only the author needs to know. Hint at things, throw this and that in during the course of the narrative, but explain nothing unless absolutely necessary!

This is true in all fiction, not just the speculative sort. We needn’t tell why a building is abandoned but we should have a good idea why, and all its connotations about the neighborhood in which it exists, the economy in which the characters move. Knowing these things is world building.

Then, one may turn to the narrative and the character, become a psychologist. That is an whole other role!

Saw Grass to Wire Grass, a song

Saw Grass to Wire Grass

From the saw grass to the wire grass
was a journey of sixty years,
and it is here I will remain
as its ending nears.
It seems I spent a lifetime searching
for the star that steers;
we must remember to look up
before it disappears.

I've watched the storms of summer build
above the saw grass prairie;
I've seen the snow-white ibis ascend
from hammock aviary.
All of these remain with me,
the memories I carry,
As I've wandered Florida
from spring to estuary.

I remember the Everglades,
saw grass marshaled like bayonet blades,
and the towering cypress strands
rising from the wide wetlands.
Red blossoms of bromeliads,
frog chorus among the lily pads,
yes, I remember the Everglades —
I pray that memory never fades.

Once I knew the river of grass;
that was yesterday.
Other rivers called my name,
led me far away.
I found a dark stream flowing down
to Choctawhatchee Bay,
and as I watched I told myself,
here it is I’ll stay.

Beyond the Apalachicola,
in the wire grass,
my journey has come to its end,
I am home at last.
In these green Panhandle hills,
I watch the seasons pass;
each one slips away like sand
through an hour glass.

From the saw grass of the Everglades,
where sunrise glories in golden shades,
across the length and breadth of this state,
I traveled searching for my fate.
In the wire grass fields, I raise my eyes
to watch that sun set in my skies,
and remember the Everglades,
for that memory never fades.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

A rather long-ish and not particularly original lyric for a 'Florida song.' Still a WIP, both words and music, so it is unlikely to be in this year's competition at the Will McLean Festival (I have other songs for that --- if I get around to recording them). The 'wire grass' is the northern Florida/south-east Alabama region in which I now reside.

Hmm...the indents that differentiated the choruses from the verses didn't format properly (and I'm too lazy to look into the html) so know that the structure is two verses, one chorus, two more verses, and another (different but similar) chorus.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Hermine Blows By

I am Hurricane, said the wind,
and passed on into midnight
and Georgia. In time, I slept.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

A bit of a blow, yesterday afternoon and through the night, as Hurricane Hermine came ashore a bit east of where I live and barrelled up through the Florida Panhandle, across Tallahassee and into Georgia, heading for the Atlantic. Returning to its birthplace, sort of.

Being on the west side of the storm meant things were not nearly so bad over here, even though it was fairly close (and had it gone ashore thirty or forty miles further this way, things could have been very different). It blew some, into the early hours of morn, it rained a very little after midnight to maybe two-ish. Less than half an inch, I am sure --- but the wind had dried everything up by the time I got out this morning.

The cat knew enough to stay inside. She realized something was going on. Or maybe it was the smell of the shrimp had for supper. :)

I was fortunate here. A hurricane ---  stronger than this one, perhaps (Hermine was fairly minimal) --- may hit my area sometime. Next year or next week. Who can say?

Social Media and Cross-Pollenization

Self-promotion — or any promotion, for that part — for the arts requires a presence on social media. That is a given in this day. Of course, one also needs an online presence separate from the social media platforms, that is, a web site. Even if it is combined with a blogging platform (Word Press, for example), one needs something with ones own brand on it.

I have been on many of the social sites, MySpace in its heyday, FaceBook now, Google Plus, various Yahoo Groups at one time (my first forays into social media), and so on. Some were useful, some were a waste of time. To some degree, this depended on what aspect of ‘me’ I was attempting to promote. Steve as artist? Steve as writer? Steve as musician?

Some are better for one thing, some better for another. Twitter is pretty useless for a painter, and FaceBook is only slightly better. Both are not much better for an author, really. A musician, however, with lots of gigs to announce, can find them rather useful. Unfortunately, my musical ‘career’ has been on the back burner for quite a long time!

I do tweet some and have two Twitter accounts — one for me, personally, and one for Arachis Press. There is really not much to say other than occasionally announce a book release or the like. And, of course, I FaceBook. A personal account, some pages, even a group to which no one belongs (that’s for the literary mag, if I ever have time for it). The personal page is to keep my name in front of people, primarily. I don’t expect to sell many books through it, nor anything else. And the bulk of my friends there have ties to music in some way. As long as I am at least peripherally in the Florida musical community, I shall continue to be there. But I recognize that it is not a very constructive use of my time.

In truth, Google Plus seems more useful for the writer and/or the artist, especially if it is tied to a blog (or blogs). I have had this Lucky Lad blog going for a rather long time and I’m sure that search engines have brought more visitors to me and my work via its pages than being on FaceBook ever has or will. As a social media site where one interacts with friends, G+ is not really as good as FB, but that is not my main concern.

I also do Tumblr. I don’t know if it is very useful but it does let me network a little, mostly with poets. That is what I concentrate on there. Pinterest? Yeah, I put up some pictures there and promote the books some. How useful it is, I couldn’t say but then I don’t put much effort into it. And there is GoodReads and a bunch of other niche platforms that may have some usefulness.

But blogging — that’s really the effective approach, I think, for a writer. After all, we write, right? :) And those who buy our books (we hope) like to read, so give them what they want! I put up most of my early draft poems, musings on this and that, occasionally talk about writing. The important thing is to keep providing interesting content of some sort.

Incidentally, I pretty much concluded along the way that it is best to throw everything together in one blog, whether discussing my latest book or what is growing in my garden. I do, however, keep Arachis Press separate.

Then there is the cross-pollenization I mentioned in my title. Every online presence feeds the others, naturally. Be certain to include links from one to another! But there is also the ‘real’ world interacting with this. I give you my niece, ‘Mean Mary’ James. Well known as a musician but also an author, including four novels co-written with Jean James (her mother, my sister). Would these have sold nearly so well had she not already a large following for her music? Shoot, I’ve probably even had a bit of a coattail effect just from being related.

This is one reason I do get out and perform, if only at open mikes. It is a form of advertising for all my other endeavors. Be assured, I mention my books; indeed, I have some songs in my repertoire that were actually written for the novels (five of them, appearing in the Donzalo’s Destiny books). I should probably record them as a sort of EP.

So, I’ll be seeing you on line, here and there, and possibly off line, as well. It all works together — or should!