Blatant Advertising!

I like to mess around in Adobe Photoshop and other photo apps. Here’s a collage of my various site headers I made for Instagram. Just because.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Writer Interrupted: The next poetry book

It has been about a year since ‘The All or the Nothing’, my first book of poetry, was published as an e-book. It’s now available in print, as well.

I guess it’s time for the follow up. I’ve been working hard, compiling and editing, designing and laying out the book in Adobe Indesign and Photoshop, and it’s only a few weeks away from release. This will be a book release to start, with an e-book to follow.

It’s called ‘Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered‘, and it’s a collection of poems for readers in various states of mind: happy, sad, mildly infuriated, dogmatic, dramatic, fizzled, cranky, spanky, smiley, wily, overwrought, overworked and dizzy.

If you like my poetry, you’ll like this book, because it’s…more of my poetry.

Out soon.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Save the Poet!

via Save the Poet!

Like my poetry? For poems you haven’t seen before, try The All or the Nothing, my first book. It’s available now, in print and e-book formats.

Click on the link above to find out how to get your copy, and help save this poor poet from extinction.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Winding Down Yet Winding On

I’ve been blogging every day for a little over one and a half years. I’m never short of material and I’m not one of those writers who suffer from writer’s block.

No, this is not a ‘brag’ blog. This is my way of saying it’s time to wind back so I can focus more on the other important things in my life.

When I started blogging, my main purpose was to use the web as a place to exercise my creative muscles, to force myself to write everyday. More importantly, it was cathartic, enabling me to address my various inner demons and hang ups—depression, anxiety, unrequited love, anger, pain, heartbreak—the whole box of dice.

Over time I’ve explored many of my other interests on this blog: role playing games, music, photography, short stories, movies, poetry. In fact, my first published poem was written and posted on this blog back in March 2017, what seems like a lifetime ago.

But life catches up to everyone, and the inevitability of uni, work, relationships, socialising (wow, hard to believe there was a time when I never thought I’d ever leave the house) and writing, mean something has to go. Or at least, reduce.

So, I’ll only be posting once every two days in future. That might not seem like much of a change, but it’s a big thing for me. For some of you it will be a relief—less emails from WordPress, for one.

Thanks for continuing to support me, and I hope to catch up with many of you in comments sections and future posts.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The All or the Nothing

For my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Why do we blog?

Why do we blog?

Some say it’s cathartic. Some say it encourages and develops us as writers. A creative outlet. Some say we do it for fun. To get in touch with like-minded souls. Some say they just need to vent—anger, tears, love and fears. Some say they want to inspire. To express their opinions. And some say their blog is only for them, that they don’t care what others think.

All of these things are true. But there’s another, underlying truth: we blog because we want validation. We want people to acknowledge our efforts. We want people to like us and our work. Let’s not fool ourselves. If we didn’t we would write private journals, rather than sharing everything publicly.

The blog is an amazing tool. We create, and in creating reach out to others, raise spirits, inspire and influence.

I’m so happy I started blogging. Without it I wouldn’t be who I am today. Maybe you wouldn’t be, either.

So, why do you blog?

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Upstart Photographer: Things #4

A photo. An accompanying poem. ‘Nuff said.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Wall. A poem.

You blocked the way,
a cantankerous old crone,
bleached, cracked and worn,
bitter-boned and sun-dried.

What use are you when
your gaps in memory
provide brief passage,
your purpose undermined
and inconsequential.

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book, available at most online book sellers.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

The Risk. A poem.

The wash of highlights
on your face
illuminates more
than worry in your eyes.

The antecedent
calls you back
to an enigma,
cold-cast in lies,
a veil that gently
mocks and knocks
upon an antiquated door,
whose wood-rotted timbers
hide a mystery
without clues or sleuths
to solve them.

Your obligation
to reveal these truths,
to open Pandora’s
rough-hewn box
and release the thousand
clawing, cloying
secrets within,
could be far less invasive
(you surmise) than

          a haemophiliac wound,
          bleeding endlessly,
          painfully, righteously

Are the scars worth the risk?
Is it just another enigma
dying for you to solve?
Just another way to get your fix?
Or should you leave
well enough alone?

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book, available at most online book sellers.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Moss-less, or begging ain’t so bad…

‘A poor man gathers no moss’, to coin a phrase.

Okay, that’s probably a bit stupid, but hopefully it got your attention. For those of you who’ve read my bio or have been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I am a mature-age university student, struggling with depression and living on the poverty line (so what, some of you will say, so am I). For those of you who are slightly better off, I’m appealing to you to help me keep my site running.

As you know I write poetry, short stories, take photos, reviews, create maps for games, etc. Whilst these creative endeavours are all well and good, they don’t help me pay for the sad, yet humble, lifestyle I am accustomed to (baked beans are expensive, after all).

So, I’m appealing to you for help. At the bottom of my main page and to the right of this individual post you can find a button to donate a small amount to help keep me going. Every little bit helps and anything you can do is much appreciated.

I produce a lot of content, publishing something new everyday, and eventually I’d like to earn some sort of menial living from my creations. It’s a wonderful dream, and I’m certainly not there yet. I’m hoping you can help me keep going another day or two.

Even if you can’t afford to help, thanks for supporting my fragile ego every day!

Cheers

Steve 🙂

 

Writer Interrupted: Writing Haiku

What is a Haiku?

The Haiku is a poetic form that originated in Japan as early as the 9th or 13th Century, depending on what you read, but wasn’t known by the term Haiku until the 19th century.

Want to know more about Haiku history? Click here.

Traditionally, they focussed on nature and emphasised simplicity.

Each line of the poem has specific syllabic criteria:

1st Line: 5 syllables
2nd Line: 7 syllables
3rd Line: 5 syllables

Want to know how to count syllables? Click here. 

Examples of Japanese Haiku

April’s air stirs in
Willow-leaves…a butterfly
Floats and balances
― Bashō, Japanese Haiku

Dead my old fine hopes
And dry my dreaming but still…
Iris, blue each spring
― Shushiki, Japanese Haiku

Modern Haiku

Modern Haiku can vary dramatically from the original intent in terms of subject matter. Some even depart from the syllabic criteria (which calls into question whether they should be considered Haiku).

For some cool, nature-oriented examples, click here.

And here’s a few Haiku I wrote about writing Haiku:

Writing Haiku. A Haiku trilogy.

1.
In every dew drop,
I see the acorn of thought
that grows into oak.
2.
Language comes alive.
My mind is afire with life,
burned on the white page.
3.
Acorn now grown tall,
the tree outlined in firelight.
Feel these sunset words.

– Stephen Thompson, Modern Haiku

For more of my Haiku, click here.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry.
Click here to buy a copy online.

Poetry. A poem.

When I read good poetry
I want to write good poetry
But my feeble affectations
And wanton masturbations
Pale to insignificance
When compared to
Browning, Whitman, Yeats

I yearn to write good poetry
The way I yearn to read good poetry
But such poetic vastness
Just becomes loquaciousness
Flowing perspicaciously
Away into a vast, uncaring
And unconcerned wilderness

I write a lot of poems, some from my head, some from my heart. Many don’t appear on this website. For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book, available at most online book sellers.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

What I’ve been watching 2

A few months back I did some mini-reviews of Netflix shows I’d been watching (Australian Netflix – some of these series are on different networks in America and Europe). Here are some more short reviews of what I’ve been watching:

Star Trek Discovery

Great sci-fi show set in the movie universe pre-Kirk, with Spock’s adopted sister as the lead. It has a cool twist at the end of the first season.
Rating: B+

Jane the Virgin

Romantic comedy series that parodies Latin telenovellas. Everybody is into everyone! Cool narration, too.
Rating: B

12 Monkeys

Time travelling to save the world from an army and a lethal virus. Really steps up its game from S2 onwards.
Rating: C+

Luke Cage

Excellent street-level superhero series that’s only let down by a dodgy battle in the S1 finale.
Rating: B-

The Expanse

Great sci-fi show based on the books by James SA Corey. A solar system of political intrigue and imminent war, with an alien presence about to change everything.
Rating: C+

How to Get Away With Murder

Gotta love an ongoing murder mystery set on a college campus with weekly episodic legal procedurals.
Rating: B+

Iron Fist

An honourable man with amazing martial arts abilities returns to his company after years missing, but they don’t want him back. The low budget really shows, but this was interesting and handled ‘The Hand’ better than S2 of the Daredevil show.
Rating: C+

Ajin

Japanese anime about immortal creatures living among humans who are captured and experimented on. What happens when they decide to fight back? Gorgeous animation, smart, violent and not for kids.
Rating: B

Daredevil

Matt Murdock is a blind lawyer who becomes a vigilante by night. Very ‘Batman’. S1 is the best of the few seasons available.
Rating: C

Defenders

Team-up of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist against the Hand’s loopy machinations. Drags a bit. The individual series were better.
Rating: C-

Mars

Docudrama showing the first settlement of the Red Planet, real science commentary offsets the drama. Fascinating.
Rating: B+

Arrow

Superhero Green Arrow takes on crime with a bow and a team. Still going strong after six seasons, but running out of essential characters to kill (and bring back). Also very ‘Batman’.
Rating: C

The End of the Fxxxing World

Two kids on a road trip, one plans to kill the other. Definitely not a comedy (although it’s marketed that way). Mental health issues, murder and abuse. Hard hitting, but sensitive and amusing as well.
Rating: B

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The Year of Living Dangerously.

Is love hard to find?

In today’s fast moving and super-connected society, it can be. And for those of us who are shy, awkward, socially inhibited, or just plain old, it can be dang near impossible (yeah, old people use ‘dang’. What’s that, they don’t? Oh, shut up).

That’s where dating apps come in. No longer much-maligned and embarrassing to admit, they’re an invaluable tool for meeting new people.

My Tinder-esque experiences over the last year varied from the wonderful (a woman who appreciates my sense of humour) to the indescribable (foil hat-wearing oddjobs). I can certainly say the crazy gamut of wild and wanton women made my life interesting.

But the time came to put childish things away. I retired my dating app a few months back (only writing about it now? Sorry, had a few things going on).

I’m not saying I’ve found a perfect love (we’re both at the “like ya a lot” stage); we’re still testing the hot waters with each other, occasionally getting burnt, but not bad enough to run for cover. And that’s as good as anything in this crazy old world. Especially for this crazy old guy.

Now, I have to take my woman (oooh, she hates me calling her that…) shoe shopping. And I’m liking it a lot.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The Poetry Writing Process

Okay, a few people asked me this. I thought I’d oblige with a post.

I write the majority of my drafts on my iPhone, while I’m walking, watching TV, or sitting on the toilet (my compositional repository of choice). My writing very much depends on my mood and what has impacted me that day. I generally write better material when I’m depressed or in a dark state of mind.

As to process, I set up a draft on my iPhone, which is either edited or ‘done in one’ (a first draft not requiring edits). Generally, most of my drafts stay on my phone until I revisit them a few days or weeks later. My editing process includes reading the piece aloud, adding enjambment, line breaks, punctuation, altering words or lines as needed. I edit whenever I return to my notes on iPhone. Sometimes, I edit older poems after writing a new one. This also depends on the amount of time I have, location and mood.

Sometimes editing can change the meaning of one or more lines, which can subtly change the context of the overall poem. Sometimes it’s just a change in the words used to convey a metaphor or simile. Very occasionally the poem is scrapped and I start over with something completely different. Generally, I find something that I like in everything I write, even if it’s only a scrap of cloth. That scrap can be shaped into an everyday shirt or a tux, depending on my mindset.

My favourite poet is T.S. Eliot. I find a wistfulness and solemnity in his imagery and love the way he uses language to alternately hide and expose meaning within his poems. My favourite poem of his is The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock; it moves me with the way it flows and insinuates its way into my emotions. He’s the sort of poet I aspire be; if my poetry was only a fraction of the quality of his, I would be happy.

Excerpt From The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

Cheers

Steve 😊

Leibster and Versatile Blogger Award Noms—thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thanks so much to Follypen, who nominated me for both the Leibster and Versatile Blogger awards.

You can find Follypen’s wonderful site at this link: https://follypen.wordpress.com/

I’m gonna cheat a bit (as I sometimes do with Award-thingies) and refer you to a previous nomination of mine for some faintly amusing Leibster award answers and questions:

Some Leibster Award Goodness: I’d like to thank the academy…

I’m going to cheat AGAIN and direct you to some of my previous posts for Versatile Blogger Award nominations for some not-quite-so-controversial and possibly-funny-but-who-am-I-to-judge questions and answers:

Versatile Blogger Award Nomination – Woo hoo! Cheers and thank you 😊

Versatile Blogger Award 2 – Thanks muchly!!

And if you don’t want to read humorous stuff, how about some of my depressing poetry instead:

Steve’s angst-filled and depressing poetry (isn’t it about time he got a life?) 

Thanks again, Follypen! I know this is not the best response but I’m so time poor at the moment that this is all I could do (excuses, excuses!)

Cheers

Steve 😊

It’s a mystery why I’m nominated, but I gratefully accept!

Trudy K at Pinching Words has nominated me for the Mystery Blogger Award. Thanks so much, Trudy! As usual I ‘m always a bit flabbergasted at why I get nominated; equally happy and bemused. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate it—I do!

As to this award, there’s some indicia I have to list:

The Mystery Bloggers Award

It’s an award given to amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates, it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with much love and passion.

Okoto Enigma

I didn’t write this. I’m feeling a bit embarrassed right now. But thanks for the kind words, Okoto, and thanks for thinking about my blog, Trudy!

The Rules (with my responses in italics):

  • Put the award logo/image in your post

That fancy, flashy logo is adorning my post above!

  • List the rules

Hey, they’re right here!

  • Thank whoever nominated you and include a link to their blog

Thanks Trudy! Trudy has a wonderful blog of poetry and writing, please check it out at https://trudykblog.wordpress.com/.

  • Tell your readers three things about yourself

I’m going to cheat a bit on this one. I did another award post a few days back where I listed stuff about myself. So, here’s a link to that one.

  • Nominate 10-20 bloggers you feel deserve the award

I listed a bunch the other day, so I’m gonna cheat and refer you to the earlier list.  

  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog

So much work in these award things!

  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice with one weird or one funny

Sorry, I only ever do weird in award posts. My questions to my nominees:

  • If you could make a meme about yourself, what would it be? Would it be funny or straight-laced? Do you think it would go viral? Well, you’ve got dibs on yourself, haven’t you?
  • Now that your meme is out there clogging up the internet, it gets stolen and used for evil purposes! Bwah-ha-ha-ha! What do you do? Steal an experimental superjet and track down the villains who did this? Shake your fist at your computer screen and vow vengeance? Write your own personal virus to destroy the internet so no one can use your meme for evil ever again? Well that’s a bit selfish.
  • Zombies have broken into your house. Do you defend or sacrifice your housemates? If you don’t share with anyone I’m afraid you’re the main course. Sorry.  
  • One of the Zombies has a T-shirt with your personal meme printed on it. You know for sure you never received any royalties for that. Do you tear it off the zombie, pin it to the wall and question it about where it got the T-shirt? Or do you sit in your room in a huff, refusing to let the zombie in?
  • It turns out the zombies are actually your friends after a big night out (yeah, hangovers can be killers—see my fancy double meaning there?). Do you kick them out after scaring you to death? Realise that one of your friends is the evil anarchist who stole your meme and question them all like Poirot or Holmes? Kill them all, just to be safe? Hey, I never said you liked your friends. One of them is an evil supervillain who stole from you, after all.

My answers to Trudy K’s questions:

  1. Which song gets under your skin?

That would have to be Cole Porter’s I got you under my skin. Just to be literal. I actually play this song when I busk and gig. Yep, for real.  

  1. A leadership style which describes you best is?

At the moment I have no staff, so I’d say laissez-faire (yes, it’s a legitimate management style). When I was an actual manager I believed in empowering my staff (and still do) and was consultative. With a little bit of autocratic thrown in for good measure (because if you’re the boss, why not).   

  1. Blogging for life?

Damn straight I will! I currently have little else to do in my sad and misbegotten world.

  1. Do you believe in God?

Damn straight I do! The Big Guy Upstairs and I are Sympatico. We’ve got this bromance thing going on. He’s got this cool book. I read it and was hooked.

  1. Shopping or the beach? Why?

BOTH! Beach when I’m broke (which is most of the time, nowadays) and shopping when I’m not (so, not a lot of shopping nowadays). Ah, the heady life of an amateur poet/writer. It just gets better and better.

Thanks again Trudy K!

Cheers

Steve 😊

Waiting, wanting, waning.

I’m waiting at the Legal Aid office to get some advice about my upcoming property settlement. Needless to say it’s a dull experience, punctuated by the typing on my iPhone, the shuffle of papers, the muffled choke of a straining air conditioner and the murmurs of hushed and sullen conversations.

It’s not as depressing as it sounds (alright, it is as depressing as it sounds, but I’m somewhat biased since I suffer from long-term depression). My property settlement has been dragging on for several years now, and needs to be finalised soon, otherwise the process could start getting messy. Hah! As if it wasn’t messy already.

On a brighter note, I’m house sitting for the next few days, looking after a friend’s place while they’re on holiday. It’s nice to get out of my familiar womb every once in a while, even if it’s only to remind myself I’m not a monk. Actually, I may as well be one, since I’ve given up on online dating (meant to blog about that; reminder: blog about giving up online dating) until I’m in a better frame of mind. Based on previous experience, that may be never. But hopefully, sooner. Is ‘sooner’ part of the almost infinite measure of ‘never’? Is it a measurement at all? My brain hurts.

As I’m living in town the next few days I think I might do some busking. Busking, I hear you say? Yes, busking. I’m a poor, mature age student—emphasis on the poor. I’m also a musician, and this is the most convenient opportunity to play (read: embarrass myself) in public and maybe make a few bucks while I’m at it. Or not. Maybe I’ll make enough to cover my on-street parking fees? I guess it’ll depend on how much people enjoy my caterwauling.

Take care, all. I’ll tell you how it all works out.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

A Poor Poet’s Cause

I’m putting together a book of poetry to self-publish, hopefully before Christmas. I’m working on whittling the two hundred plus poems I’ve written over the last nine months down to about fifty, as that’s the general size of most poetry books. The book will include some poems I’ve published on this site and new work not yet seen.

Why self-publishing? Whilst self-publishing your own novel can negatively impact your chances of getting signed to a publisher (unless you’re a particularly high selling self-published author a la E L James or Amanda Hocking), self-publishing a book of poetry should have no negative impact at all. But, why, I hear you say? Let’s face it, poetry, even when it does sell, generally only has small print runs. In other words, it’s probably not going to make or break your career unless you’ve already won a Pulitzer for poetry or something.

I know Amazon allows you to self-publish for free, but that means you’re restricted to the Kindle platform, and I want broader distribution on multiple platforms, so I’ll be going with either Bookbaby.com or ebookit.com. I just need to check out the reciprocal tax agreement between Australia and the US, to make sure I don’t get additional tax withheld by these American-based companies.

Because I’ve left this all a bit late (as usual), my book of poetry may not see the (blue) light until early next year. Either way, at least it’ll be out there at a low and reasonable price, available to all.

I’ll keep you up to date on how it’s progressing. I hope that you will support this poor poet on his journey to further obscurity.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

What do you want to write?

What are the issues that you especially want to talk about / celebrate / examine in your stories?

There are a lot of stories in the world. There are many more hovering in the random threads and wings of my head. They long to burst forth from their cocoons, bright and beautiful butterflies ready to shake mountains, half a world away.

I’ve led a very interesting life, but by some measures it may not be very interesting at all (I have never run away from ravenous cannibals, for instance). I have many personally-affecting issues that I’d like to examine in my stories, yet when I think of what I really want to read in one of my tales, issues are not the first thing that come to mind.

As a burgeoning writer, I first and foremost want to entertain. I want to write stories that are emotionally engaging, that are exciting and that surprise with their twists and turns. I want my readers to feel that they connect with me as an author, that they “get” me in ways they didn’t think were possible except with perhaps a well-known friend or loving partner.

I may not be the best writer in the world, but if I can achieve this in at least some basic way (whether that be a reader’s fleeting smile or a tightness in their chest), I will have succeeded in what I set out to do.

Okay, so that didn’t really answer the question. In short, I love all genres of writing.

Like Iain M. Banks, I want to write speculative fiction and current-day serious fiction. Like Patrick Ness, I intend to write kinetic young adult novels. Like Nam Le, I want to write short stories of every type, that bring a tear to my eye and that provide a fascinating juxtaposition to life. Like Justin Cronin, I want to mix literate writing with the horror thriller. Like George R. R. Martin and J. R. R. Tolkien I want to write fantasy fiction that astounds.

But I don’t want to write like any of them. I want to write like me.

Cheers

Steve 😊

This was my response a number of months ago to a question posed to me in one of my writing subjects. My answer still holds true, now. (It also contains links to some of my favourite authors’ websites.)

So, what would your answer be?

Go wild in the comments, if you dare 😉

Writing…stuff.

So, I’ve posted a few things about writing. Not that I’m an expert or anything, but readers seem to like me rambling on.

I’ve made it a ‘thing’ (I like to do that–‘Haiku Friday’ anyone?). So, now you can find all the posts grouped under Writer Interrupted in the menu. It saves me from creating another blog (I’m pretty lazy, y’know).

As always, I love your comments, and I love the fact that you pay me any attention at all.

Cheers

Attention-seeker Steve 🙂

 

Every Word. A poem and a thank you.

Every laboured keystroke,
every considered verb and noun.
Every gritted mental blank,
every meaning so profound.
Every silken metaphor,
every glorious turn of phrase.
Every underlying message,
every edit, every change.
Every keystroke, every line,
ever thankful every day.
Every joy I write that lies within,
that flowers on every page.

Thank you.
.

This poem is a thank you to all of my readers. Everything I do is for you.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

10 000 views!

Thanks so much to everyone who has visited, commented and enjoyed or hated my blog! I’ve reached 10000 views. Yay!

I started this blog on 9th January 2017 as a way to encourage my writing, and to be a catharsis for my mental health issues. Over that time I’ve posted almost every day, and I’m still loving it.

So thank you all, once again. And if you’re reading this for the first time, please check out the menu above,  click on a category, and enjoy 🙂

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The Sale. Part 13.

As Aisha and I ran down the underground corridor, squinting in the dim light, we heard a voice crackling from an old wooden speaker box on the wall. It was Silas.

“You can’t escape you know.”

We darted to the passage’s end. A blank wall. Backtracked to an intersection. Ran right.

“I had the tunnels built like a maze for just this reason.”

Another dead end. Aisha swore. “How do we get out of this insane asylum?” she cried. We backtracked to an earlier junction and took a left.

Silas continued, his voice echoing through the stone halls from various speakers. “I’ve been doing this for years, you know. And I haven’t lost a victim—that is, a subject—yet.”

“I guess we’re going to have to hear his monologue after all,” I said.

Silas talked as we ran down more corridors, hoping to find a way out. “I’m not happy about what you did to poor Junifer. She suffers from mental illness, you know. You took advantage of her condition.”

Aisha and I stopped at a cross junction. The tunnels went four ways. We gathered our breath. We hugged each other. Silas’s eerie ventriloquism continued. “Her mother suffered from the same condition, you know. I tried to help Junifer as best I could. But my experimental treatment was ineffective. So, I set her up as the mistress of this house. Only the best for my daughter.”

“She’s his daughter?” said Aisha. “That explains a lot.”

“Let’s go,” I said. I placed my hand on one wall and we jogged along, my fingertips always keeping contact. At the end, instead of retracing our footsteps, I kept my fingers on the wall and followed it around until I was next to the opposite wall. “This will take a long time, but eventually we’ll get out. As long as we follow the walls, rather than the floors.”

Aisha nodded and smiled. “So, what were you, John? A boy scout?”

“Just call me the ‘labyrinth lord’.”

Aisha rolled her eyes. We moved on.

 

To be continued…

Missed earlier instalments? Click here to read more.

The Laidback DM #8 – Yet Another Free Map!

Yes, it’s that time of the week, and in the tradition of my irregular Laidback DM posts, here’s another free map. As you know I like to draw maps for D&D adventures. Often I have more maps then I know what to do with. So, I’m giving one away free on my blog each week.

This week: a river keep ruin a stone’s throw away from an Ogre lair. The current occupants of the river keep are Goblins, and they’re not on good terms with their Ogre neighbours. Let’s just say the feud has been going on a long time. The Goblins have trained the giant spiders that nest in the grove of trees near them to work as watchdogs and mounts, which gives them a bit of an edge against the larger and more vicious Ogres. To spice things up, a Green Hag lives in the tower on the ruined wall, and has nothing to do with either group, although she has been eying the tower as a possible new lair. Meanwhile, down in the valley below the caves and keep, a group of Treants is having a meeting to determine what to do about their warring neighbours. Looks like the player characters could be entering the scene just as everything goes to hell…

River Keep and Caves - 20x13 - stevestillstanding

Above: Actual map is 13.5cm x 20 cm. Just right click and save.

This map is free to use for non-commercial purposes, as long as you acknowledge me and my website stevestillstanding.com. If you want to use it commercially, please send me an email and we can talk terms.

Happy Gaming!

Steve 😊

The Long Haul. A poem.

The long haul north
The highway like a dreamtime serpent
Twisting forlornly through valleys
Of gum and wattle, towns and fields

I am an island moving
In the relentless torrent north
Towards faithless destiny
Not remembered or forgiven

Just complete the task assigned and say goodnight
I’m just a chauffeur on the fly

.

I recently drove 2200kms giving a lift to my aging parents to and from their holiday destination up north (there and back twice: all up 4400kms over 4 days).

I didn’t mind the distance. What I did mind was not seeing a family member I was once close to, who I haven’t seen for about four years, and who hasn’t talked to me since a falling out.

I’m not angry. I’m very disappointed. And sad. Maybe one day we’ll reconnect again. I hope so.

Steve

The Call. A poem.

Ask and you shall receive
Perhaps it’s meant to be
Only God can say
And His phone’s currently engaged
But I’ll keep ringing
In the hope I get through
Because the answer
Is everything

House. A poem.

I would build you a house
If you would live in it with me
I’d build it tall and proud
To share with you and family

We could live in golden halls
Dance to music from above
Until the furtive angels called
Our love I’m not worthy of

Let me build you a house
And together we will be
A perfect love to dream about
As one until eternity

A Rabbit Passes. A prose poem.

The rabbit’s body is stiff and heavy in my hand. I wrap it in its funeral trappings, a plastic cloak as light and airy as its existence. It’s family lies in burrows deep below, the farmer’s poison dried within withered veins. I place it within its casket, a waste bin its solemn ferry to where its family’s souls gently sleep.

There was a family of rabbits that lived next door. The guy there has chickens and sheep, so it was only a matter of time before he took steps to bait them. For a while that happy family of rabbits was something for me to look forward to each morning and evening, when they would enter my backyard to feed. 

Now they’re a reminder that not everything lasts forever, a sad metaphor for the briefness of our lives and the need to achieve what we can now, before our own time runs out.

Steve

Anniversary. A poem.

An anniversary
Three years of torment
Ashes from which I arise
A new man
A better man
Beholden to the past
But reaching for the future

From this crucible
I am forged anew
To rebuild
To refine
To create
Never to revisit past sins
But to find a better life

With you

.

Not long ago, I said I wouldn’t be posting any poetry for a while to give myself space to create poems for the poetry subject I’ve just started at uni.

Well, I couldn’t help myself. Looks like there’s room for both, after all: poetry blogging and poetry coursing (yes, I like to make up words. So sue me).

Steve 🙂

Rebirth.

Yesterday was the three-year anniversary of the worst day of my life. Those of you who are regulars will know that I celebrated (rather insanely) by walking 24 kms.

But before I did that I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and had an epiphany. Despite the fact that three years ago I lost EVERYTHING that was dear to me, that I’ve been near crippled with depression and anxiety ever since, that I tried to kill myself, that I’m still undergoing therapy to recover from PST–I am a better man now than I ever was before. 

I have accepted my failings. I took responsibility for my actions. While I can never forgive myself, God in his infinite grace, has. I find myself humbled, but stronger emotionally, physically, spiritually. Although I will never recover from depression (I’ve had it all my life), I’ve learned to manage it better. I learned who my true friends are and I value them more than anything. And I have vowed never to repeat the mistakes of the past.

I realised that I had to go through hell to find heaven (that might be a bit of a pithy analogy, but you know what I mean). Like the Phoenix, I needed to burn to rise from the ashes (I’m full of cliches today). Whilst I will always acknowledge my past, it no longer defines me. I am a new man, and I face the future with belief, hope and surety. 

That doesn’t mean you won’t hear me agonising about life. But it does mean I have a new found respect for it (life, that is). And with that comes a new found self-respect. Take that, low self-esteem.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Marathon Walk!

Today I walked 24 kilometres. Why?

I dropped off my father’s car at a smash repair place, and rather than catch a combination of trains and buses home, I decided I’d walk. Five hours and just under 24 kms later, blisters and sore legs, but not too worse for wear otherwise. Hungry, though!

Had to tell someone, as I’m a wee bit proud of the achievement. Yeah, it was dumb, but I’m not renowned for my smart decision making.

Happy walking!

Steve 🙂

The Laidback DM #7 – Another Free Map!

I like to draw maps for D&D adventures. Often I have more maps then I know what to do with. So, I’m giving one away free on my blog each week.

This week’s map is a Kobold and Demon lair. Whoa, you say? The game’s weakest creatures with some of the game’s toughest? If you’ve read the section on Kobolds in Volo’s Guide to Monsters, you’ll know that they are artful little trap-setting beasts. And the entrance to this lair is full of traps designed to bottleneck the PCs and make their life hell. I haven’t filled in the details so you can let your imagination soar.

As to the Demons? It just so happens this cave system used to be used by demon worshippers, and the Kobold’s Shaman unwittingly opened a gate to the Abyss. The demons are kept in check because the Kobold Chieftain has a soul-capturing gem which can imprison up to ten of them, so they have an uneasy alliance. The kobolds can call on the demons when things get a little hairy, making this lair no walkover for PCs assuming they’ll have an easy go of it.

Aside from the quicksand, arrow slits, tripwires, locking pit trap with poison spikes and six foot high brick walls with arrow slits, the kobold lair also has its own fungus farm (on the south wall), water source (in the northern cave), demonic gate (the southern cave), stolen supplies and a secret treasure room.

Kobolds and Demons Map 15x10 - stevestillstanding

Above: Actual map is 15cm x 10 cm. Just right click and save.

This map is free to use for non-commercial purposes, as long as you acknowledge me and my website stevestillstanding.com. If you want to use it commercially, please send me an email and we can talk terms.

Happy Gaming!

Steve 😊

Legend of Zelda -Amazing Sculpting!

I looooooooooooooove Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series, having been a fan since Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64. The almost mute Link is the ever youthful and inimitable hero of the long standing fantasy console gaming series.

My son recently showed me this incredible sculpting video on YouTube, by Sculpture_Geek. If you’re a fan of Legend of Zelda, you’ll nerdgasm as much as I did.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ALbt17LLH54

Is that great or what?!

Steve 🙂

Sands. A poem.

I rise before the first blush of dawn
Dappled sunlight like reedy fingers
Touching the grey surrounds
Blooming refulgent petals
Apprehension in alpha and omega
What fearsome beasts should rise
On wings of measured determination
Cunningly disguised and lividly forthright
Trapped in sundered cogitation
An hourglass of intimation curtailed
Until sands cease to flow
And all begins anew

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