Monday, April 23, 2018

Back from the Emerald Isle

I've returned after a weeklong holiday in Ireland. It was a wonderful and memorable trip, visiting numerous places and making new friends along the way.

I'm not going to inundate you with photos, but if you're interested, visit my personal Facebook page and you can view the images there. (You may as well like my author page while there!)

After landing in Shannon on a misty morning, I smiled when the guide bus pulled out of the parking lot and I saw a large "Welcome to Ireland" sign across the road.   

Street performers in Galway
My wife, Mary, and I spent two days in Galway, a small, artsy city that's great to begin a journey on the "wild side of Ireland." It's a picturesque college town that has a colorful waterfront, street performers, museums, and more. 

From there, we drove through the desolate Burrens, a limestone landscape that has been eroding for years, especially during the Ice Age. Then we walked along the Cliffs of Moher, the majestic 600-foot drop to the battering Atlantic Ocean.

Anchors in Kinsale
We spent two days near Cork, visiting the nation's second-largest city, while taking in Blarney Castle (my wife kissed the Blarney stone) and sites in and around Cobn and Kinsale. So much to see and so little time.

The iconic James Joyce statue
The last two days were in Dublin, an underrated city that I wished could have lasted several more days. We walked across the Trinity College campus, hiked to other districts such as Temple Bar, stopped to see the William Butler Yeats exhibit at the National Library of Ireland, toured St. Patrick's Cathedral, walked around St. Stephen's Green, and spent several hours at the hallowed historic grounds at Glendalough.

Ireland is a fabulous country, offering a wide array of things to see and do. I encourage others who are considering a trip to this island nation to do so. The people are friendly (maybe a couple grumbly ones like the American I encountered leaving U.S. Customs), there a many places to experience and taste (such as a pint or two of  Guinness or Murphy's).  

I hope I live long enough to make another trip across the pond and take in more of this wonderful nation. 

Until the next time . . . 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Across the Pond to Ireland

My wife and I will be flying over the pond, making our third trip to Europe in as many years. We've previously traveled to England, France, Italy, Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic.

This time it's Ireland, the enchanting "Emerald Isle." We'll spend a week there, taking in the rural and urban areas with stops in Galway, Cork, and Dublin.

We'll also take in the otherworldly Burren, the majestic Cliffs of Moher, and other landscapes in our guided tour.

I went to Ireland 14 years ago on a writing assignment when I was editor of Kentucky Monthly magazine. I found it to be such a fascinating place, beginning with looking down at the checkered green topography and the plane approached Shannon airport.

I'm especially looking forward to Dublin and going to Trinity College, Temple Bar, St. Stephen's Green, St. Patrick's Cathedral and seeing some of the sites that celebrate the nation's rich literary history with such luminaries as Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Jonathan Swift, and William Butler Yeats.

And, as much as anything, going to a few pubs and acquainted with some of the delightful and friendly Irish folks with a pint (or two) of creamy, smooth Guinness.

As I have in the past, I'll take lots of photographs and share them with a few posts on this blog as well as my Facebook page.

Until the next time . . . 


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Spotlight on Herman's Hermits

While I was busy doing some decluttering this afternoon, Herman's Hermits' "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" came on Pandora. Before I realized, I was singing along with the feel-good ditty.

Herman's Hermits
And I recalled a PBS's fundraiser a month or so ago, featuring HH's lead singer Peter Noone as one featured acts and how he had a packed auditorium singing a rousing rendition of the tune with him.

It made me wonder why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ignores uplifting and fun artists such as Herman's Hermits, Tommy Roe, and The Monkees, who are often labeled as "bubblegum" performers.

If Herman's Hermits were bubblegum, then chew on this: 
Noone and his bandmates recorded 18 songs that reached the U.S. Top 40 from 1964-68, including No.1's "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter"  and "I'm Henry VIII, I Am," both in 1965.

Other noteworthy songs include No. 2 "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat" in 1965, No. 3 "Listen People" in 1966, No. 4s "Wonderful World" in 1965 and "There's a Kind of Hush" in 1967, and No. 5 "Dandy" in 1966. There first hit, "I'm Into Something Good," written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, topped the UK charts in 1964.

Maybe it's time for the RRHoF to give Herman's Hermits and a few other groups a lot more respect.  

Here are a few videos of this wonderful group (be sure to watch the last one):

Until the next time . . .

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Best Intentions for Third Boomer Lit Novel

I've been writing daily since Jan. 1 (missing only one day) on the third book in the John Ross Boomer Lit series. It was my intention to finish by March 31, and let it rest for a few weeks before returning to rewrite.

That didn't happen.

Even after working from an outline, there are still unresolved issues that I must address before reaching the first end of the novel. How long will that take? That's difficult to say but I would hope before the end of April.

But it could take longer. You don't reach the end until you're there. And I'm not there although parts are beginning to come together.

One approach I am taking with this novel is to continue writing even after I reach the end. So I'll be working on the rewrite as well as the fourth book in the series. 

I'm sure there are other novelists who do the same when working on a series, especially one that would be more than three books. As I've mentioned in a previous post, this series plans to be my primary output from now on. I also intend to write another short story collection (I really do!).

So that's where I stand on March 31, 2018. 

Until the next time . . .

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Another Update on Third Boomer Lit Novel

I'm nearing the end of the first draft to the third novel in the John Ross Boomer Lit series, with more than 53k words on the hard drive. 

When all is written and done, I envision the novel to be around 75k words. The first draft should be around 60k, with another 15k (or more) added during the rewrites.

I'm a freestyle writer when working on first drafts, letting the words flow from my plotting brain to my plodding fingers to the plastic keyboard. Many of the scenes, subplots, and even a few characters, will disappear by the time I'm finished with the manuscript, which usually involves at least 10 rewrites.

I do start with a rough draft—thoughts and ideas I want to address in the novel. But as I get into the novel, there are unforeseen changes in the direction the story is going and how some characters are developing. At that time, I'll write a second draft to see where I've been and where I want to go to complete the work.

The new book takes John and Sally Ross for a 10-day vacation to Budapest (one of my favorite cities), a stopover in New York, and back home to Kentucky. For those familiar with the first novel, "Old Ways and New Days," the European trip is a retirement gift from their children, Brody and Chloe.

John and Sally put off the getaway in the second novel, "Darkness Beyond the Light," after discovering that Brody had serious  personal problems. And a visit from Sally's judgmental mother, Geraldine, only complicated matters during the holiday season.

I'll be introducing a few new characters and bring back some familiar names from the previous novels. And for those who are wondering, badboy Brody and snippety Geraldine are still alive and well in the series.

Until the next time . . . 



Sunday, March 4, 2018

Update on Writing and Activities

It's been a few weeks since my last post. The reason is because I've been busy on my work in progress and a few other things.

I've written every day—except one—since Jan. 1. I'm approaching 38k on the third book in the John Ross Boomer Lit series. If all goes to plan, I'll finish the first draft by the end of the month.

After that, I'll let it rest for a few weeks to simmer in my head, then return for a rewrite or two or three or (you get the idea) before submitting it to my publisher and editor. 

During the interim, my wife and I will be escaping the U.S. for a few days, crossing the big pond to the Emerald Isle. I traveled to Ireland in 2004 and vowed to my wife that I'd return with her. I love the place and the Irish. 

In February I participated in three web radio interviews, dealing with the opioid crisis spreading across America. My last novel, "Darkness Beyond the Light," focuses primarily on the epidemic and how John and Sally Ross confront the scourge.

If interested in listening to the interviews, just click here, here, and here. I'll be taking part in another webcast on March 12, along with four other panelists discussing school violence.

I also read two excellent books about writing: "The Writer's Lexicon: Descriptions, Overused Words, and Taboos," by Kathy Steinemann, and "Understanding Show, Don't Tell (And Really Getting It)" by Janice Hardy. Highly recommended. Although I've written 12 books, I always find time to learn and improve on the craft.  In addition to books, I'm an avid reader of blogs that focus on writing, literature, and reading.
That's where I am at this point in time. Now back to the manuscript (by the way, I've discovered drinking hot tea boosts the creative juices).

Until the next time...

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Story Songs: Covering The Bee Gees

There are millions of Bee Gees fans around the world. Perhaps even a billion or so. Count me in. 

Robin, Barry, and Maurice Gibb
The Brothers Gibb —Barry, Robin, and Maurice—sold more than 220 million records and registered nine No. 1 songs (in U.S.) during their illustrious career that spanned six decades. They were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

While they recorded numerous hits in the 1960s and '70s, what impresses me is their songwriting ability. They weren't a cover band. Perhaps that's why so many of their songs come straight from the heart and touched so many people.

But let's consider the artists who covered their songs, many with great success. Click here to get an idea about the group's songwriting prowess (you'll be surprised by the number of artists and the genres). It's a big reason the music of the Bee Gees will live on for many years. 

Here are some of my favorites covers:

By the way, my favorite by the band was their last hit, "One," a No. 7 song in 1989. From what I could tell, it hasn't been covered but I bet it will be in the coming years.

Do you have any favorites?

Until the next time. . . .