STEPHEN C. SHAW is the retired Director of Administrative Rules for the State of New Hampshire. He retired at 50, and has been writing, painting, and traveling ever since. He has lived and taught in Prague and Cambridge, England. He produced and hosted a TV show in Concord NH, called Without Music Life Would be a Mistake. Two of these programs can be streamed at See more of his TV appearances here.

Stephen is the author of twenty books. Parisburg Publishing is currently publishing his cache of books. By the end of 2013 the following books will have been published:


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Blues Like the Tides, 2nd Ed.

(digital and paper)

    Paperback: Sold on Amazon and independent book stores

Digital Copy: Apple's iBook

Blues Like the Tides is a history of the blues told in original poetry and songs from their origin in the Mississippi Delta to the eventual evolution into jazz. By the end of the book, blues, the "gift of the river," become the flow of musical improvisation. Blues are seen as more about insight, empathy, and mercy than sex, violence, or the Devil's music. The revised edition includes several new drawings and paintings by the author.


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Ambiguous Reflections

(digital only)

    iBook sold by Apple's iTunes

Ambiguous Reflections is a book of 100 photographs with commentary. It explores how reflections may have just as much reality as the object being reflected. The book also explores odd-ball and comic road signs, car headlights, skylines, and the everyday path of light which often takes us in strange and unpredictable directions, creating 100 visual paradoxes. The book illustrates the saying "Half the sculpture is in the shadows." This book is also available as an e-book allowing the reader to enlarge the photographs and see them in detail.


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Universal Love of Travel: On the Amending Road

(digital and paper)

    Sold by Amazon and independent book stores

The Universal Love of Travel: On the Amending Road is a book of travel poetry in five parts covering locations such as England, France, Greece, the Czech Republic, Bali and Singapore. It goes in all four directions, and comes home to the center. As the subtitle implies, the great value of travel is its ability to amend the way you think. To quote a line from the book: "The shortest distance between your point of view and the point of a star is your own wonder..."


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The Empty Box

(screenplay, paper)

    Sold by Amazon and independent book stores


(Screenplay summary)

     Dr. Matt Calder intends to write a biography of Hal Saint-James, who is the most famous American author never to win the Nobel Prize.  Hal continually misspells this as 'Noble' Prize, because his whole life is a failed search for nobility. He interviews another writer, Dot Cross, who has had an on-and-off relationship with Hal.  Many of his famous writer friends dislike Hal intensely, especially Nathan Carpenter, who has won the Prize which Hal covets.  Though critical, Dot is fair, and defends Hal.  She tells Matt Hal has a side no one has yet learned to appreciate.  She speculates why Hal hides his good side.  When Hal’s father died, his last two words, aimed directly at his son, were “clay feet.”  Hal lies about this the rest of his life, telling everyone, except Dot, that he regrets his father said nothing before dying.  The hurt goes very deep.  Hal’s father left an emotional legacy to his son which is as mean as it is empty.  Dot hopes Matt will finally bring this out in his biography.

     Matt‘s wife, Becky, is worried about him.  She is jealous of the time he spends with Dot.  Hal and Becky visit Matt’s dying father in an expensive nursing home.  Matt’s father tells his son: “Ring the dumbbell.  That is my legacy to you.”  Matt has no idea what this means, but suspects it is somehow insulting, the same way “clay feet” was to Hal.  Becky hasn’t heard this, and Hal speculates whether or not to tell her the truth.  Over the years, trust between them has faded.

     In Hal’s opinion, his third wife also did him wrong.  Hal has had a replica made of the Nobel Prize which he keeps in a wooden box.  One day in frustration, he destroys the fake medal and gives the empty box to his wife to keep for him.  He asks her to put something in it to redeem his failed life.  When she gets sick and dies, she leaves him the box.  When he opens it, it is still empty.

     Eventually Hal and Matt bond over their similar experiences as unwanted sons.  Matt tells Becky he feels Hal’s pain.  Becky sees a side to Matt she never saw before.  The biography of Hal has unexpectedly  brought her husband back to her.

     Matt revisits Dot and is horrified to find out she has attempted suicide when her dog died. Dot, very lonely and isolated, is now writing her own biography from the point of view of her lost dog.   Matt tells her how Hal, without knowing it, has saved his marriage.  Dot concludes that such unexpected twists and turns really make life worth living, despite the undeniable fact that 90% of it is unwanted tragedy.

Newspaper interview about The Empty Box (Dec 23, 2013)

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Four Directions and the Center

(paper & digital)

Poetry and art.

There are really five directions, if you count the center. This book consists of five parts, each of which explores one of these five directions: we go up, down, across to the left, across to the right, and then find a central place where they all meet. But, it is essential to remember that the center isn't stuck in any one place, but also can move...


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Beyond the Frame

(digital only: catalog of paintings)

Sold as iBook on iTunes

Plastic has two meanings: (1) something fixed, like a counter top, and (2) something capable of taking any form, as in plastic surgery. In these paintings we move from the first to the second meaning. These paintings often take ameba shapes as a symbol of shapeshifting reality and the reverse of a fixed conception.

PDF password needed


Painting Energy

(a digital book)

Sold by Apple's iTunes

This book traces how the author/painter developed an abstract style of painting and prose to represent pure energy. The book has four chapters (1) Mind the Visionary, which contains 25 protraits. (2) River-Sways, which consists of 25 paintings of energizing rivers, (3) Leap of Shape, consisting of 25 paintings of inspiring landmarks, all the way from the Great Wall of China to a humble hermit's shed, and (4) Pathways to Abstraction, consisting of 25 abstract paintings depicting the relationship of pure painting to pure energy. Energy is defined as the meeting of material, touchable things with ever-changing movement of light...

PDF password needed


Books coming soon

The Credible in-Journey


In this collection of songs, drawings, photographs and travel commentary the author traces the places associated with his song writings.

Refreshing the Database

(short stories)

This collection of short stories draws an analogy between the way our computer saves and retrieves data and the how our memory actually functions. The four sections are: (1) save, (2) save with amendments, (3) delete, and (4) restore delete.

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