Monthly Archives: March 2015

What Skeletons are in Your Musical Closet?

I was raised on rock and roll.

Being born in 1960, and having four older brothers who were already teenagers, well on their way to becoming full-blown hippies, my musical education began while my peers were still enjoying the tune played by their jack-in-the-box.

I was the only kid in my third-grade class to know who Jimi Hendrix was.  hendrix woodstock

I had trouble understanding why the rest of my friends didn’t know about Woodstock, and I could sing Born on the Bayou like nobody’s business (today, not so much).

It’s safe to say that my taste in music is predominantly rock and roll…or classic rock if you want to be more specific, but as I grew older my tastes expanded. In my early twenties I discovered the blues (which would also include soul and R&B). As I approached thirty I took a liking to jazz and classical and during my forties I got into country. rock and roll

I can honestly say that I at least try to appreciate all forms of music to some degree.

I’m not a really big fan of rap, mostly because I think it is often inspired by anger, hatred and violence – three things for which I have no use in my life. Even still, there are some examples of rap that I do appreciate and enjoy.

Disco…since dancing and the whole nightclub scene was never really high on my list of favorite things, I never had much use for it, but again, I have developed a taste for a small sampling of disco songs.

I also enjoy some good funk.

airplane disco

So, with all that being said, there is another category of music I think we all share…something that goes beyond “like and dislike.”

Each of us has music we like, and we’re usually not ashamed to talk about it. Likewise music we dislike, and these we are usually less ashamed to advertise.

There is a third category…the one we keep to ourselves…the one we refuse to acknowledge…the one we hope nobody finds out about.

I call it “skeleton music” – as in the skeleton(s) in your musical closet.

teach them to dance

A friend of mine is a huge metal fan, which is not only to say he is a fan in a huge way, but also that he is a huge guy. To look at him you’d think he would just as soon kick your puppy as look at you (he wouldn’t, but he looks like he would). Somehow, during a recent conversation, he revealed to me that he loves Bon Jovi. He even told me a story about him standing in line at Dunkin Donuts singing a Bon Jovi song out loud while he scanned the menu…drawing some pretty interesting looks from the other patrons.

Yet he doesn’t talk openly about his “secret affair” with Jon and the boys…

Why?

I don’t know, but to paraphrase the famous Life cereal commercial – “I’m not gonna ask him – you ask him.”

On a nine hour road trip with some friends back in the early 90s (all guys) we were in a remote part of Pennsylvania where there weren’t many radio stations available, so we were forced to listen to an Easy Listening station.

Imagine our surprise when one of the guys started quietly singing along with Barry Manilow’s I Write the Songs.

After several miles of relentless torment from the rest of us, he finally copped to it (but, not before trying to blame his mother for listening to it so often that the lyrics were embedded in his brain).

“Hey,” he said in his own defense. “I don’t like him, I just think this is a good song.”

A co-worker of mine was born and raised in Nassau. Naturally, being from the islands his musical tastes lean heavily toward reggae with a healthy scattering of R&B and rap. He also has a fondness for 80s synth-pop.

One day a few of us were having a discussion about old time TV shows when somebody mentioned Hee-Haw. My island-native friend’s brain wasn’t fast enough to censor his own response…he blurted his love for the music on the show and even confessed to begging his parents to buy him a banjo when he was eight-years-old. (They didn’t, but if they had he would have been a pioneer of the rasta-billy scene.)

hee haw

When he saw the looks on our faces (mostly stunned confusion) he laughed and tried to pull the old “just kidding” defense – unsuccessfully.

They say confession is good for the soul, so here goes…

Despite my love of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Willie Dixon, Miles Davis, Dwight Yoakam and Mozart…when I’m alone in the car I will crank the hell out of an ABBA song (until I get to a stop light).

abba

There, I said it.

I’m out.

Laugh if you will – but they have some great songs! (I even attended a live performance of Mama-Mia in Rhode Island and was blown away!)

So what are the skeletons in your musical closet?

Come on – you can share it with us, we’re all friends here…

 

As always – thank you for reading

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Hiring an Editor is Not the Place to Cut Corners

Back in 2003 I left a really well-paying job to start my own home improvement business. It was a questionable decision at best, and I quickly learned that whatever skills I possessed as a carpenter were trumped by my complete inadequacy as a business man. Despite the inevitable failure of my business, I did learn several lessons, some of which translate nicely to my writing endeavors.

One such piece of “tool belt wisdom” came to mind recently when another author friend of mine was complaining about the cost of hiring an editor.  tool belt

You’ve heard the old adage any lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client? It’s the same for authors who try to self-edit.

Every author needs an editor – this fact is non-negotiable.

The reasons you should always hire a qualified professional editor are numerous, and not the topic of this post. The important thing here is that you do.

Anyway…before I go off on a tangent, let’s get back on point.

While I was a self-employed home improvement contractor I was hired to remodel a kitchen. The client was a single woman in her late 40s/early 50s who told me exactly what she wanted down to the smallest detail. This was fine with me, because it left very little ambiguity.

A problem did arise, however, when I was nearly finished installing the granite tile countertop she wanted. She decided that she didn’t like the fact that there were no grout joints. countertop

The ensuing argument began with the debate over my lack of foresight, since I had been unable to predict that she would not like that which she had told me she wanted…

It escalated to her extreme displeasure at the amount of time it was taking me to complete the project.

I reminded her of the conversation prior to the signing of the contract where she assured me that, since it was a vacant rental property, and since my price was so good I needn’t worry about time.

Apparently I was wrong in the assumption that she actually meant what she had said…

So the argument ended when I told her that there were three options when it came to getting the job done:

  • You can have it good
  • You can have it fast
  • You can have it cheap

BUT

You can only pick two of those options.

She didn’t like that answer.

At that point I really didn’t care what she liked, and I told her so in no uncertain terms.

She fired me the next day.

 

The point of the story is that those rules apply to just about anybody you hire to do anything. It’s almost a universal law.

If you want it good and cheap, it’s probably not going to be fast.

If you want it good and fast it’s not going to be cheap and if you want it fast and cheap it’s not going to be good.

Back to editors…

edits

As I stated, you should definitely hire an editor, but pay attention to the aforementioned rules.

Editing a novel properly is a laborious and time-consuming task. The level of quality of YOUR book will suffer if it is hurried. Allow your editor the time he/she needs to do the job properly. Rushing them will never result in a better product.

A qualified editor is a professional. Expect their fee to be commensurate with their experience and ability. Editing is not the place to cut corners. By all means, you should shop around and find the best price to fit your budget, but don’t go to the extreme of hiring your high school English teacher who says they’ll do it for a hundred bucks and a case of beer.

You spent months, maybe years, writing your manuscript – proper editing will make your work better. Believe it or not…there is room for improvement in your work, and you should want the finished product to be as good as it can be.

One final point to illustrate my own experience with editors.

Living the Dream My first novel, Living the Dream, was not professionally edited.

I labored over it for more than a year. It was re-written at least 4 times. I had three people beta-read it for me, and I corrected everything they found. When I finally submitted it for publishing I was fairly certain it was as tight as it could be.

Now, it seems that every time I pick the book up and flip to a random page I spot a typo…or I read a sentence that could have been reworded to make it better…or I notice a misspelled word.

The story itself is (in my somewhat-biased opinion) excellent and I wouldn’t change it at all, but there are a bunch of little “mistakes” which would have been eliminated by a good editor.

All of my subsequent books and stories were rigorously edited, and it shows. Naturally I paid for it, and as every independent author knows, there usually isn’t a lot of money in the budget for such luxuries. My books took a little longer to get from manuscript to finished product, but what’s a month or two in the big picture?

So the moral of the story is – yes, editing is an additional expense and it will add some time to your schedule, but if you really care about the quality of your book it’s time and money well-spent.

 

As always – thank you for reading

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So How Do You Write a Children’s Book Anyway

There’s more to writing a children’s book than one would think…

Libbie the Lobster

When Heather Chalmers and I decided it would be fun to write a children’s book about our adventure of saving Libbie, the rare yellow lobster, from our local supermarket, we had very little idea what the job would entail. We were still speeding along on the roller coaster which had lifted us into the air in a very short time. The dizzying heights were clouding our minds with grandiose ideas of writing a book that would become famous because of the enormous amount of press that had already been done about the story. But in our hearts, we cared little for becoming rich or famous. We wanted to make kids happy by reading a book of our amazing journey with Libbie the Lobster. unnamed (3)

Because Heather is a former first grade teacher, she  had a myriad of supplies to begin our project and a plethora of children’s books from which to…

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THL Guest Post – Allan Hudson – Sharing is Caring

The only thought I can add to this post is this: Indie Authors should be helping each other.
All for One and One for All

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The Best Editing Tools for Creative Writers

A list of editing tools for authors and creative writers. Please note that these tools should not be used in lieu of a qualified professional editor.

Interesting Literature

By Robert Morris

Have you ever been so consumed by the creative writing process that you were left with no energy for the editing part? That happens to most writers. We don’t have a problem to spend days on a short story or blog post, but even a single hour of editing makes us exhausted. The following editing tools will help you get through the challenge more easily!

Wridea – Creative writers get ideas all the time. Unfortunately, we tend to forget most of them when we don’t write them down. This online app will help you save and organize your ideas, as well as to share them with selected friends. Then, you can easily add more details during the editing stage and make the content perfect.

Poetica – If you are ready to receive some constructive criticism from fellow writers, Poetica is the right destination for you. It doesn’t…

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What the F%*K is Wrong with People?

WARNING: This post is a rant and will contain very little, if any, content of substance. It may, however, contain offensive language. If you are offended by any thought expressed by me, I apologize in advance. Some of the content, not of my creation, will – or at least SHOULD – offend you…be forewarned.

Rated R

Okay, now that we have the disclaimer out of the way, I would like to open with a question.

What the f%*k is wrong with people?

Not all people, but an ever-increasing number of them.

Social deviance is nothing new, but the age of social media seems to have elevated it to the point where it is now acceptable to act like a complete a$$hole in a public forum.

annonymity Back in the days of face-to-face conversation there was usually (not always, but usually) a filter. We might have thought something about the person we were talking to, but there was something about eye contact that gave pause to saying it aloud. Now that conversation has been, or is being, replaced by typing – and eye-to-eye is giving way to eye-to-monitor – that filter is being eroded.

The problem is compounded when the anonymity of the internet creates a digital mob-mentality and people jump on a bandwagon they’d ordinarily ignore.

I understand that people are entitled to their opinions, and I am also aware that not everybody likes everybody else…and the combination of those two facts often leads to “less than respectful” remarks – especially when it comes to celebrities. mob mentality

Back in the pre-social media days many of these remarks went largely unheard – thankfully.

Not so anymore…nowadays our preferred method of communication is instantly available world-wide. Everything we say (post) can be seen by millions of people before we have a chance to reconsider saying it…and it seems that some people are using it as their personal platform in hopes of getting their fifteen minutes of fame…AND (the worst part of the whole thing) it seems that the easiest way to make that leap into the limelight is by being more rude and offensive than the last douchebag.

What set me off, you ask?

In a way, it’s been building for some time now.

Every day I peruse the internet and find myself asking (aloud) “What the f%*k is wrong with people?”

Some of the things people post are, to me, absolutely mind boggling.

I freely admit that I am not perfect. I have my opinions and I am pretty staunch in my beliefs…but I do my best (this post notwithstanding) to follow one of my mother’s staples of wisdom…”If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Granted, I am not above posting a humorous meme about Kanye’s antics or some other such silliness…but there is a line that I won’t cross.

I won’t even approach it.

It’s the line that separates the majority of people from the scum.

The final straw came in the form of a series of tweets directed at former Major League Baseball player Curt Schilling.

Curt has a daughter about to enter college where she will pitch for the college softball team.

Being a proud father, Curt tweeted about his daughter’s accomplishments.

I’m sure; as a celebrity, Curt expected some “colorful” backlash…he was probably even prepared for a little bit of rudeness.

What he got was something that nobody could have ever expected, and something that nobody deserves – a barrage of replies about his daughter that left rude and disrespectful in the rear-view-mirror and sped away from it at Mach 2.

We’re talking about comments that would make the proverbial drunken sailor blush. Violent, sexual and deeply personal.

Curt responded with a blog post (see it here) and, in my opinion, is exhibiting restraint that I can’t imagine. Thankfully I don’t have a daughter, because if I did, and something like this happened, I would be out of my mind with rage.

In the interest of full disclosure – it is well documented that I am a Red Sox fan, and Curt Schilling played a major role in their 2004 and 2007 World Series Championships…but (believe it or not) that has nothing to do with my reaction to this bullshit.

If this had happened to Alex Rodriguez I would be equally as outraged.

This behavior – REGARDLESS OF WHATEVER BULLSHIT RATIONALIZATION YOU HAVE FOR IT – is so far down the ladder of social acceptance that if we took the express elevator to hell we’d still have to look down with binoculars to see it.

Honestly. Any person who thinks there is even a hint of justification for this sort of garbage is a moron of the highest order, to be grouped with child molesters and animal abusers.

This is what I say to these scumbags…

Yes, this is a free country, and…Yes, you have the right to say whatever you want, but…Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD.hate speech

You are nothing more than a degenerate, moron, scumbag – and your parents should be locked in a Turkish prison for raising you so poorly.

Maybe you’re a refugee from an alternate reality where this behavior is common-place. If so, do the universe a favor and go back, I’m sure you’re considered one of the elders there and your wisdom is surely missed.

That’s all I have to say…actually, I have a lot more to say, but to say it in this post would mean reducing myself to the same level as the “people” I’m talking about.

I told you there would be very little meaningful content in this one.

 

As always – thank you for reading

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