adventures in dysthymia

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Shaper and the Board

As anyone who designs and builds surfboards, Ted Carrol, the protagonist of my novels 'Shaper' and 'Waves,' has his own ideas and pet theories about how boards work. He is quite willing to share those theories with any and all. It does not matter whether they are at all accurate as far as the books go; indeed, being a bit of a crackpot is part of Ted's character.

The fact is just about anything works for surfing. One can ride a rectangular piece of plywood (not that I would recommend it). It's mostly a matter of learning the quirks of whatever one is on, and dealing with them.

Most design differences are about control. Surfers may talk about 'speed' but, in truth, boards have always gone fast enough. That speed needs to be controlled somehow; otherwise we are hurtling straight toward the beach, unable to turn! Bottom shapes, outline, fins--all these things play a role, each element interacting with the others. And to some degree combining them is guesswork. The only true test of a shape is in riding it. Even there, the skill and preferences of the individual surfer make a big difference.

And, of course, what he or she is attempting to accomplish. Tricks in small waves? Survival in huge ones? Or just cruising along--each calls for its own equipment. Ted would be glad to shape whatever you need! :)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Two at a Time

I find myself working on not one but two fantasy novels at this time (but nothing 'mainstream'). One is a project of which I had not even conceived a couple weeks ago but it just came up, tapped me on the shoulder, and said 'write me.' That is a book almost certainly to be titled 'Tsar of the Empty Land.'

'Tsar' follows a group of Stalinist Russian refugees who were headed to the gulag but instead find their way to another world. This is the same world and approximate period as that of my Malvern and Mora novels; I mentioned in those the existence of a 'gate' on the far side of the world, so I had to use it, right? :) The book (or books maybe) will tie in to the earlier work, with the ancient sorcerer Hurasu making an appearance—he's been worried about the gate, what with humans becoming more technologically advanced, and intends to ward it against more entry.

The other novel is  the one I am supposed to be working on, the sequel to 'The Eyes of the Wind,' to be titled 'The Jewels of the Elements.' I honestly do not know which I will finish up first. One is in progress on the office PC, the other on my laptop. And I think it is good to be working on multiple books, as their is a cross fertilization of ideas; indeed, I always have several projects in development, jotting (or typing) down plot ideas, bits of dialog, etc. for later use.

So  certainly expect one before the end of the year. Even if I finish both,  I'd need to hold back the publication of one for a little while!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Pieces of the Moon

I have put an online edition/archive of my very first book of poetry, originally published in 2003, PIECES OF THE MOON. Of course, the print and ebook versions are still available through Arachis Press. It is my belief that poetry should be shared — and is not a money-maker anyway — so I am sharing this book. I might put up some of the ones that followed when I get ambitious, and also  have plain text versions for free download.

The for-sale editions are close to being at cost anyway. I see them as 'loss-leaders' for my novels! :) You can find the PIECES OF THE MOON site at: https://piecesofthemoonpoems.blogspot.com/ . Visit anytime.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Depressed Surfer Novel

Depression, drugs, suicide, have been in the news and on people’s minds lately. Those who actually know me would not be surprised that these are among the themes of my contemporary (more or less) Florida crime-and-surf novel, ‘Shaper.’ Some of that is from my own life.

I’ve had serious bouts of depression, yes, and have thought about suicide pretty much every day since I was a little kid. It’s just something I live with, check on to make sure I’m still okay, like a leper checking all his fingers and toes each day. Keeping busy, being creative, has helped keep it under control; if I couldn’t work any more, I’m not sure I would want to go on.

And I manage the depression with a small amount of medication and a lot of activity. I’ve said before that bodybuilding may have saved my life. I continue to work out most days, take long hikes or bikes. I should surf more but the beach is just a little too far.

Drugs or alcohol? Never had any problem. Maybe just luck there, my genetics or something. Never even cared for pot, but I do drink a small glass of wine occasionally. My protagonist in ‘Shaper,’ Ted Carrol (Shaper, himself), is pretty much based on my own experiences with this sort of thing. Nothing to hide there. Of course, he isn’t actually ‘me.’

But we have other characters with problems. The alcoholic daughter of Ted’s girlfriend, as well as said girlfriend’s junkie ex-husband, play roles. I’ve tried to understand these people; however, I took care not to delve too deeply into them. That always rings false. There are no facile explanations for very complicated situations. It is best just to present them, maybe let them explain themselves, however flawed those explanations may be. Then let the reader figure them out, as possible. That is how it is in real life.

‘Shaper’ was published a couple years ago and is available from Arachis Press, as are all my books. At Amazon, etc. too, of course. And there is a sequel, ‘Waves,’ which explores some other directions while the depression and addiction themes go more into the background. A third ‘Cully Beach’ novel will undoubtedly appear one of these days.

Monastery, a poem

Monastery

My aesthetic is ascetic
fit for a monastery;
I choose to pray each and every day
at Vespers, and not tarry.
I think I look good in robe and hood,
and I’m thankful I needn’t marry;
for having a bride at my side
seems quite unnecessary!

Stephen Brooke ©2018

This bit of light verse sat in my notes for a while in case I came up with more lines. But it didn't need any.