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New feature. Every Tuesday I want to feature a song I’m listening to for the week. It could be part of a playlist for a story I’m writing or it could be a random song that popped into my head. Whatever its origins, I’m going to share it with you!
Today’s Tuneful Tuesday is the song “Fever” as done by Michael Buble. It’s on my playlist for Love Bytes, a previously published story that I’m revamping. I personally think this is a great version of the song by a male, although Peggy Lee is the ultimate version.
And what, you may ask, is “the Great American Songbook”? Well, let me allow Wikipedia to step in:
The Great American Songbook, also known as “American Standards”, is the canon of the most important and influential American popular songs and jazz standards from the early 20th century. Although several collections of music have been published under the title, it does not refer to any actual book or specific list of songs, but to a loosely defined set including the most popular and enduring songs from the 1920s to the 1950s that were created for Broadway theatre, musical theatre, and Hollywood musical film. They have been recorded and performed by a large number and wide range of singers, instrumental bands, and jazz musicians. The Great American Songbook comprises standards by George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin, and also Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, Richard Rodgers, and others. Although the songs have never gone out of style among traditional and jazz singers and musicians, a renewed popular interest in the Great American Songbook beginning in the 1970s has led a growing number of rock and pop singers to take an interest and issue recordings of them.
Some of the most famous singers of these “standards” are Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Billie Holiday and others.
Without further ado, “Fever” by Michael Buble.
If you have a favorite American Standard, leave it in the comments!
I have three little ones ranging in age from 12 to 15, and lucky for me, they all attend the same school. Every morning, we all pile into the great minivan and cruise to the bus stop, where we have odd conversations. I enjoy those times, because it gives me real insight into what and how my kids are thinking and also gives me a change to spout off a thread of wisdom or two. Over the years, I’ve gathered quite a bit of stories, so let me share some with you here.
I present to you….Tales from the Bus Stop.
Number 1 son: oldest son, 15
Littlest: 12 (also plays trumpet….important later).
Number 1 son: (terrible Russian accent) In Russia, road forks you.
Daughter: That is the dumbest thing I ever heard.
(Meanwhile, I’m laughing)
No. 1 son: Do not dispute Mother Russia.
Daughter: Only Africa is a mother, stupid. Haven’t you heard of the motherland?
No. 1 Son: Mother Russia will PUTIN you in gulag.
Littlest son: Don’t you mean goulash?
Trumpet Playing Son: Our band teacher told us about Wynton Marsalis today.
Me: Oh yeah? I met him.
:::::shocked silence::::: then, “You did?”
Me (all cool and casual and ish): Oh, yeah, he played the Schubert Theatre in New Haven. Met him after the concert.
Littlest: Wow. My band teacher says he’s the greatest trumpet player in the world.
Me: He might want to get in line behind Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and maybe Miles Davis, but okay….
Then, I thought about it. Not only did I tell a “story from the past”, I referenced dead musicians.
I….am at that “hey look, an old person’s telling a story” stage.
My daughter was in a bad mood yesterday.
Number One Son made a joke and she snapped back something fierce.
Unperturbed, as Pisces tend to be, he says:
“Excuse me, Miss Pistol, didn’t know you were loaded.”
Nothing but gems here. I had to write them down so I’ll be able to tease them with it when they get older. Seriously, though, the conversations they have are often hilarious. I look forward to sharing more with you!
Sometimes it’s okay to look back. I’m doing an author’s challenge on Instagram, and day 12 asked me about my protagonist. Now, I’m currently working on three stories, editing and updating them for publication. Not such bad work, especially since I’ve been living with these characters for a while. I do best with writing when I’m the most familiar with my characters, at least for a few months. I guess I’ll never be that writer who can pump out a new book every month, and I’m okay with that. I’m working with characters I’ve “known” since 2011-2012
For those of you who have read Second Chance Christmas, know that Naomi and Zach had a story before their Christmas story. Yep. They were the very first story that I submitted for publication. Unfortunately, it was rejected. I then wrote Kitty Wishes, and I never went back to the story. However, I ran upon it on my vast Google Drive, dusted it off, and decided to try to publish it. I mean, why not? It was over 90 pages of Naomi/Zach that I didn’t want to go to waste.
The story shows how bubbly and rather scatterbrained Naomi is, and I think that lends a fun aspect to their relationship. Plus it was fun to write and I’m having fun revisiting it.
Because I’ve been revising this story so intensely, I started to think a little more about Naomi, what makes her tick and how she and
Zach got together. So, as I said,as part of this author’s challenge, I created a mood board that represent what Naomi is all about. Check it out:
I always thought of Naomi as a poor little rich girl. Her parents gave her everything she wanted except attention. She went to the best schools, but never got a direction in which she wanted to go. She suffers from depression, and if you’ve read Second Chance Christmas, you know what that resulted in. If you haven’t read the story, it will be made clear in the new book.
I really enjoy working with Naomi. She’s young, kinda gullible, but always ready to look on the bright side of things. She’s sweet, empathetic, and always willing to help out. On the other hand, she is prone to depression and while she might wish for a companion, she doesn’t want to burden anyone with her problems. I’m sure there is a little of Naomi in all of us at on time or another.
I look forward to putting out the new and revised story sometime next month.
I’ve been neglecting this blog, I know, but I’m back with a new routine and a vengeance. This time around, I’ve got a bit of a change for your reading pleasure. Instead of a horror movie review, I have a bit of a thriller review.
Title: A Kind of Murder
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Jessica Biel
Based on Patricia Highsmith’s book, The Blunderer
Summary, from IMDB:
In 1960s New York, Walter Stackhouse is a successful architect married to the beautiful Clara who leads a seemingly perfect life. But his fascination with an unsolved murder leads him into a spiral of chaos as he is forced to play cat-and-mouse with a clever killer and an overambitious detective, while at the same time lusting after another woman.
Now, an admission: there are two reasons why I chose this movie. First of all, the filmed is based on a book by Patricia Highsmith, author of The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers on a Train. The second reason is Patrick Wilson, who is kind of adorable, in a calmly pleasant kind of way.
The film itself is a period piece, which takes place in the early sixties. As a fan of Mad Men, I love the clothes, the cars and the absolute devotion to smoking these “Old” movies have. Men wore hats, women wore crinoline and the cars were simply awesome.
As much as I have love for Highsmith, Wilson and the early sixties, I had a lot of trouble with this movie. It was beautiful to look at: winter, dark brooding scenes and it even had a smoky, bohemian bar with a torch singer. I liked watching it, but at the end, I felt like I had learned nothing and had merely spent my time leafing through a 1962 Life magazine.
The buildup was everything. A depressed wife, a frustrated husband in a gorgeously designed house (very sixties) and a mysterious murder that the husband (a writer when he’s not being an architect) becomes obsessed with. There’s even a rare bookstore with a mousy, kind of weird owner.
Another thing that I liked about the movie was that it was pulpy. It put me in mind of Double Indemnity. Very “noir-ish” and rather unsettling in parts.
As you can tell, I’m writing a lot about what I saw and not a lot about what I felt. The story rolled along nicely, but, as I hinted at above, never really came to a solid conclusion. People died, people were injured, but…..yeah, okay. The movie was kind of “meh”. I’d watch it again, however, simply to catch set and costume details that I might have missed the first time around. The story left a lot to be desired.
Do I recommend it? If you’re a fan of period pieces and Patricia Highsmith, this would be for you.
3 out of 5 stars just for good looks.
I’m not going to start off this article with a starry-eyed reminiscence of how I longed to write as a child and left little scribbles of unfinished genius yet to be found in my bedroom in my childhood home. Even though that may be true.
No. My purpose of sitting down and writing this instead of tooling around on Toon Blast is to clarify for myself as to why I write. And you’re gonna listen.
While you, as a reader (and all authors are readers) may think the answer is simple: I like to make up stories. Or you see the quotes bandied around social media about “the story within” and all that deep writerish navel-gazing, the truth is different for each writer.
Some writers pick up the pen or open that document with the anticipation of making it rich, quick, and soon. And, with the advent of ebooks and the instant ability to publish, some authors make quite a bit of good money doing just that. Some hit it big right out of the gate, some toil for years before their books are discovered and some never hit that goal at all and quit in despair. This last group sees all the other authors making so much money, in the top 100, on the best-sellers list, and they think “I can never be that” and give up.
But although I do suffer from that “why can’t that be me” syndrome —because who doesn’t want to make a pile of cash from doing something they love—there’s a different type of drive that keeps me putting pen to paper, even if all my books combined have less than 50 reviews.
I don’t write for the money. I write because I have stories to tell. Many stories. Many variations of stories. So many stories that they bottleneck inside my brain and it’s difficult to get them down on paper the way that I want them. But still I write. Because I need to express myself. And I need you to read it.
Earlier this year, I planned on giving up writing. I felt my process was stale and despite the over sixteen (16) stories I had on my hard drive in various stages of completion, I thought that it was all over. Forget writing. It was a fool’s game, right? I would take up crochet, learn an instrument, do anything but sit down in front of an unforgiving computer screen and an even more unforgiving inner editor and pound out another story that only seven people would read.
I resigned myself to this fate. Watched a lot of Netflix. Made a lot of horror trivia quote pictures. Arranged my Google Play music library. At first it was fun. I had no deadlines, no nagging feeling that what I just wrote wasn’t good enough, no urge to scribble down character conversations that flitted through my head. I dismissed writing, choosing instead to press “next” to watch whatever else was coming up on Hulu or Amazon Video. Crocheted a shawl. Considered taking up needlepoint again.
Unfortunately, my carefree write-less life did not last. My mind kept circling those stories, like a shark just off Amity Island. The frantic splashes of characters frolicking, the vibrations of conversation, the whispers of future plans. I tried to ignore it, but it inexorably drew me in, building on top of the foundation that I’d given these characters to create their own lives, while I studiously snacked on cheese crisps and squeezed either a remote, a book or a crochet hook in my sweaty palm. No pen. No keyboard.
I wanted no more part of the uphill battle to get the right words down on paper. No, thank you. Been there, done that.
But then, something started to happen. The movies got boring. The crochet grew tedious. And I could not read a book without inserting how I’d make it work and what characters I would use.
You see, I am a writer.
Don’t be fooled by the timid veneer writers put on social media. The groans and grumbles of not begin able to write….banging our heads against the keyboard…..writer’s block….
Writers are vain. We are egotists. We are self-centered. We are determined to stand out from the crowd and leave a legacy that will cement a little bit of immortality. Ten, twenty years from now, someone will pick up/download a book that we’ve written.
Now, writers, I love you but miss me with the: “I’m a very nice person. I’m not vain. I’m a very generous person. I’m not self-centered.” Please. Let’s not pretend anymore. We love and cuddle our stories like our precious. After we’re done, we want you to buy and read them. Guess what, world? WE ARE AUTHORS and this is how we do. Name it and claim it. Own your shit.
Writers are revolutionaries. We want to show you our side of things, how things go for us. I don’t write about Black heroines by accident, people. I got tired of seeing how many black women were portrayed in media and set out to change it, at least in my little corner of the world. And the fact that most of them are a little weird, a little flighty, a little stubborn and a whole lot smart should also tell you something about me. (See previous paragraph). Writing, for many authors, is an act of defiance. It’s a call out about what we think is wrong with society and our attempt to call attention to it. (again, see the “writers are vain” section)
Writers are miserable and woefully insecure. Come on, it’s not like you didn’t know this already. “Are my books witty? Are they funny? Will you buy my next book? If I tell you a funny story, will you want to read my book? Is my cover sexy enough? I don’t want a sexy cover, but, I don’t know, should I do it? If I don’t have a sexy cover, will my book sell? Is that comma in the right place? Did I use the word ‘smile’ too much? Do you think my heroine is too ditzy? What about my hero? Too geeky? Will readers like him? Will readers like her? Will readers like meeeeeeee?”
I think you get the picture.
That’s why I write. I want you to know what’s on my mind, what I’m thinking, my opinions. I also want you to be entertained, angered, touched or in some way affected by the words I put down. It’s a love letter from me to me, but I’m gonna let you read it.
Also, have you bought any of my books?
Til next time…