Sunday, August 18, 2019

Regarding "The Novel"

I just finished reading James A. Michener's "The Novel," a multi-layered book about publishing, rural life, diverse characters, and writing.

While the novel has its shortcomings—it's a slow read—it provides insights into the book-publishing industry, even though it was released in 1991, before the digital age and the advent of ebooks. 

Michener, a prolific author of more than 40 books (including a Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for "Tales of the South Pacific"), writes about what happens after a manuscript is sent to a publisher. And unless the author is a Stephen King, Danielle Steel,  or John Grisham (you get the idea), the book goes through several steps (slush pile, editing, rewriting, marketing, and promotion) before it sees the light of day. 

James A. Michener
Michener approached this 400-plus page novel with four points of view (author, editor, critic, and reader), with each confronting their own personal and professional challenges. He even throws in a murder near the end that takes the story off track. 

For those who want to understand the publishing process, "The Novel" fills that need. The book was recommended to me by an avid reader who found the publishing aspect fascinating. And as a published author, I found it interesting as well. 

Another aspect about Michener that caught my attention was that he was 84 when "The Novel" was published, and he went on to write four more books before he died in 1997 ("Matecumbe" was published posthumously in 2007).

Until the next time . . . 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Story Songs: Tired of Toein' the Line

Back in 1980, Rocky Burnette scored a big rockabilly hit with "Tired of Toein' the Line." It's one of my all-time favorites, so full of energy and drive, especially Burnette's expressive voice. 
Rocky Burnette

It's basically a breakup song, from the guy's point of view:

"I know it's o-ooh-over, cause I've seen the signs
Don't let me waste your precious time.
Baby, I'm tired of toein' the line."

Here are a few vids of the song: 

The song reached No. 8 on the U.S. charts, No. 1 in Australia, and No. 3 in New Zealand and South Africa. It was co-written by Burnette and Ron Coleman.

 It was released on his "The Son of Rock and Roll" album in 1979.  By the way, the Memphis, Tenn., musician was a son of rock and roll: Jonathan "Rocky" Burnette's father was early rocker Johnny Burnette (1934-64), who had hits "Dreamin' and "You're Sixteen" in the early '60s.

While researching the song, I was surprised by how many covers through the years by a variety of artists (Rick Nelson, Shakin' Stevens, and Andreas Silver) and dancers (yes, dancers).  

Here's a few if you've got the time:

Rocky still performs and reportedly will have a new album released later this year. 

Until the next time . . . 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Ready to Start Fourth Boomer Lit Novel

It's been nearly six months since I finished "New Horizons," the third book in the John Ross Boomer Lit series.  Lately, several readers have asked if I've started on another book.

"New Horizons" was released May 1 by Wings ePress and sales have been steady and reviews have been excellent. I'm very appreciative to those who have supported my writing in the past and those who are just discovering my stories.

So now it's time to move on to the fourth book. I don't have a working title but I have produced probably 50k words. August 1st is my official start date.

So how do I already have 50k words? When working on "New Horizons" last year, the manuscript exceeded 90k and the novel was moving in a different direction. I decided to use the first 40k on "New Horizons," and the other for the next installment.  By the way, "New Horizons" ended up at nearly 70k words so there was plenty of writing involved before submitting it to my publisher.

I've been letting the remaining words simmer the past few months while conducting additional research and taking more notes about the next adventure for John and Sally Ross in their quest for peace and tranquility in their twilight years. 

Those who have read the first three books know it certainly hasn't been easy for the Kentucky couple. This thing called life always seems to be getting in the way of their quiet plans.

So if things go as planned—something I never count on in my life—the first draft of the fourth book will be finished in a couple months. After several rewrites, I hope to send the manuscript to my editor by the end of the year. 

As I have with my previous novels, I'll keep you posted on my progress, title, book cover, and release date. I already know what the fifth book is going to address, but more about that when I'm through with the fourth.

Until the next time . . .

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Wings Authors: An Interview with author Michael Embry

Wings Authors: An Interview with author Michael Embry: Michael's favorite quote: "The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe." -- Gustave Flaubert Author&#3...

Story Songs: Route 66

One of my all-time favorite songs is "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66," a song written by Bob Troup back in 1946.

Troup, a jazz pianist and actor (remember Emergency! in the 1970s?), chronicles a trip from Chicago to Los Angeles when Route 66 was America's great highway. He lists towns and cities along the way.

The tune was first made famous by the late, great Nat King Cole, who recorded it in 1946. His version was smooth and jazzy.

Through the years the song has been covered by a variety of artists, in a variety of styles. Here's a sampling:

Chuck Berry

 The Rolling Stones

The Manhattan Transfer

Asleep at the Wheel

Glenn Frey 

Depeche Mode

Brian Setzer 

And even in the animated movie "Cars," sung by John Mayer.

Among others who recorded the song include Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters, Perry ComoGeorge Benson, Them, Michael Martin Murphey, and Dr. Feelgood.

If you were around in the 1960s, there was the TV series, "Route 66," starring Martin Milner and George Maharis as two guys traveling the famous highway in a Corvette convertible. That show had an influence on my love of travel, and a few years, I visited a Route 66 site in Arizona.  

The theme song to the show was composed by Nelson Riddle. I discovered it was used because CBS didn't want to pay royalties to Troup. But Riddle's instrumental captures the feel of the road.

Click here if you want to know about the historic highway, also known as the Mother Road, Will Rogers Highway, and the Main Street of America. 

It's time to hit the road.

Until the next time . . . 

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Behind the Times

"Sometimes I feel very sad
(Can't find nothin' I can put my heart and soul into)
I guess I just wasn't made for these times." — Brian Wilson, "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times"

Do you ever feel that you're falling behind the times?

Vincent Le Moign [CC BY 4.0 (]In this digital age, when everything moves at a whirlwind pace, I find it difficult, if not impossible, to keep up with what's going on in technology. 

Or maybe I simply don't care and don't want to get caught up in the latest gadgets, apps, and other things that are supposed to make things simpler in my life.

I was recently at a local supermarket and noticed a few items on sale, but one had to use their shopper's card and the digital coupons. I managed to download the coupons on my app but couldn't figure out how to use them when I went through the self-service checkout.

Fortunately, a kind and understanding attendant was helpful and touched the right buttons on my app to get me through checkout. When I was finished, I told her that I thought the store was making things more complicated.  She smiled and agreed, saying she didn't enjoy shopping either.  

I may have to go to online shopping and simply pick up my groceries at the store. Maybe that's what they want me to do anyway. Making my life simpler. 

Last fall my wife and I bought a new SUV. We've had it 10 months, and believe it or not, there are less than 5,000 miles on the odometer. There are so many bells and whistles installed that it takes the joy out of driving. 

After turning on the ignition, we end up asking each other how to do this or that.  Even using the radio is somewhat complicated rather than being intuitive like those in older models.

Yes, I'm getting older by the day. And I can deal with that.  It's the things that are supposed to make my life easier that I'm having trouble with these days.  That's something I'll be addressing more in my John Ross Boomer Lit series — the frustrations of coping with ever-evolving technology.

Do you experience the same frustrations? Feel feel to leave a comment. 

Until the next time . . . 

Monday, July 8, 2019

Story Songs: Covering Summertime Blues

Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" spoke to lots of kids back in the late 1950s and later on through notable covers of the song.

It's a song of teenage angst, albeit humorous as one grows older, in dealing with the pressing issue of finding time to see a girlfriend while having to work.  

And each stanza ends with:

"Sometimes I wonder what I'm a-gonna do
"But there ain't no cure for the summertime blues."

The tune, penned by Cochran and Jerry Capehart, reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in August 1958. 

I've always preferred Cochran's version, as I do with most originals, but there have been several notable covers through the years that have turned the song into a timeless classic.

Here are my favorites:

Blue Cheer, a San Francisco trio, recorded a thunderous version in 1968, hitting No. 14 on the charts. A few folks consider it the birth of heavy metal.

The Who took the song to No. 27 with its rousing rendition from its classic "Live at Leeds" album.

Country legend Alan Jackson provided a catchy twangy version to the song in 1994, which topped the Billboard Country chart.

And Canadian rockers Rush included the song in its "EP Feedback" CD in 2004. Simply powerful.

A diverse group of others who've performed and/or recorded the song includes The Rolling Stones, Little River Band, Bruce Springsteen, The Black Keys, T. Rex, Joan Jeff, Guitar Wolf, Stray Cats, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Chester, Olivia Newton-John, Van Halen, Buck Owens, Dick Dale, Bobby Vee, and Alvin and the Chipmunks. And I'm sure many more through the years.

As for Cochran, he scored another Top 40 hit with "C'mon Everybody," released in Oct. 1958 and reaching 35.  Sadly, Cochran died in a car accident in Chippenham, England, on April 17, 1960, at the tender age of 21.

Until the next time . . .