Sunday, July 28, 2013

All That 'maters

While talking to a co-worker in the office last week, the subject came up about homegrown tomatoes -- or 'maters. She told me she purchased a couple plants for 75 cents each at Lowe's a month or so ago, and now there's little green tomatoes on the vines.

Not a bad investment when you consider the cost of tomatoes at the supermarket. And the 'maters you buy at the supermarket aren't that good unless they're locally grown. Better yet, the farmer's market, and we have an excellent one here in Frankfort.

But I'm getting off the subject.

So today I stopped by Lowe's, hoping to find some tomato plants on the clearance rack. No such luck. But I did find patio tomato plants -- $3.98 each -- and they already had some small green tomatoes. I couldn't resist. I bought two plants, potting soil, and even some petunias.

I put the plants in two large planters. I'm not sure where to put them because they'll get too hot on our deck and perhaps not enough sun on the patio under the deck. They may end up on the front porch, behind some shrubs.

My wife isn't a big tomato fan although she does like BLTs. Since I'm a vegetarian, I'll eat prepare mine with vegetarian bacon. Now don't turn up your nose because they're actually quite good. I also like sliced tomatoes on just about any (vegetarian) sandwich, veggie burger, or simply by themselves. Tomatoes are tasty with egg sandwiches, toast or English muffin, for breakfast. I even like fried green tomatoes (but not for breakfast).

I recall my elementary school days when tomato sandwiches (with a dab of mayonnaise) were one of the items on the lunch line. I still like them. 

And I can't wait when those 'maters start turning red!

Until the next time...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Story Songs: Under the Boardwalk

I think one of the coolest songs to listen to on a hot summer day is "Under the Boardwalk," a hit song for the fabulous Drifters in 1964.

The smooth-sounding song, with Johnny Moore the lead vocalist, was written by Arthur Resnick and Kenny Young. It reached No. 4 on the Billboard pop chart. 

The opening lines set the mood for a sweltering day, probably on the Jersey shore:

"Oh, when the sun beats down and burns the tar up on the roof
And your shoes get so hot you wish your tired feet were fire proof"

And from under the boardwalk, you hear and smell the activity on the boardwalk:

"From the park you hear the happy sound of a carousel
Mmmm, you can almost taste the hot dogs and french fries they sell."

But it's being with his girl that provides that great escape from the heat:

"Under the boardwalk, down by the sea
On a blanket with my baby is where I'll be."

There were three versions of the song,  according to Wikipedia, and they had to do with the line:

"(Under the boardwalk) we'll be falling in love"

The original had "...we'll be falling in love"

The second had "we'll be making love"

And the third had a combination of the three.

The second was considered too controversial, and was banned by many radio stations. In the combo, "making love" was in the first two verses and "falling in love" in the last.

The song has been covered by everyone from The Rolling Stones to Lynn Anderson to the Tom Tom Club. Rolling Stone magazine ranks it No. 489 on its top 500 songs of all time.

The Drifters, who were formed in 1953, have gone through numerous personnel changes through the years. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. Among the famous members have been Clyde McPhatter, Bill Pinkney, Ben E. King, and Rudy Lewis. 

I've included a version of the song by the current Drifters.

"Under the Boardwalk" lyrics

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Painful Process to Publication

The editing process is under way on my upcoming young adult novel. The publisher sent the manuscript to an editor, and after a thorough read, it was returned to me to make corrections for typos, missed or misused words, punctuation, style points, and to consider story suggestions.

It can be a humbling experience, especially when you stare -- make that glare -- at your precious creation on the computer screen and wonder: "How did that slip through?" It can be very frustrating, perhaps a bit stressful, and somewhat embarrassing. 

After the initial shock wears off, and you've made numerous fixes, you're grateful the editor found the mistakes, even if they're more than you want to see. You may even discover a few mistakes the editor didn't catch. But the bottom line is getting things right before publication, no matter how hard or painful it is.

It's practically impossible for a writer to find all the mistakes in a novel-length manuscript. When proofreading, a writer will often read words that aren't there. Sometimes you'll have a same-sounding word -- a homonym -- that doesn't make sense in the story. And spell check doesn't guarantee you'll find everything.  

While some may take offense to story suggestions, these can be especially helpful when the editor also puts on a "reader" hat. You certainly don't want readers to have questions about scenes in a story. And remember: they're only suggestions. You have the creative control.

After I return the manuscript, the editor will give it one more read and then pass it on to a senior editor, who will going over it as well. If there are any more corrections, it'll be sent back to me to make the fixes.  

When everything looks right, I'll be sent a galley proof for one last read. I hope I won't find typos or anything major, but if I do, this will be the last opportunity to make things right before it becomes a...BOOK! 

I've also been working with the cover artist. I was sent a draft cover  that captured the essence of the story. I provided her with some additional input, so that process should be completed in a few weeks.

Until the next time...   

Friday, July 12, 2013

Signed, Sealed and Delivered

I signed the contract for my manuscript, put it in a legal-size envelope, and mailed it to the publisher this week. If everything goes as planned, it will become a book for young adults on Oct. 1.

The book has been assigned ISBN numbers for print and electronic editions. 

Before publication day, there's more work to be done. At this point I'm completing forms that will be part of the marketing and promotion plan and the cover design for the publisher. That involves providing a synopsis, blurbs, excerpt, bio, keywords, cover ideas, and a dedication.

I'll be doing some self-promotion as well. I generally have bookmarks and postcards printed for distribution to friends, bookstores, and libraries. And I'll be spreading the word on Facebook, Twitter and other social-media sites and reader-writer sites such as Goodreads, Authors for LibrariesAuthors Den, Shelfari, and Manic Readers.

As many authors will tell you, promotion and marketing can seem as time intensive as it was writing the book. Most authors would probably prefer not to do it -- they'd rather be writing-- but it's a necessity if a book is going to have a chance in the marketplace because publishers have only so much money to go around. 

I'll also be working with an editor in getting the manuscript ready for publication. And then I'll receive the galley proof for one last read. 

By the time the book is released, I want to hit the ground with some momentum. 

I've already started the promotion. Look at the bottom of this post for the Countdownr widget. I'll be watching it as well during the coming weeks.

Until the next time...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Story Songs: Man in Black

The late, great Johnny Cash was sometimes referred to as the man in black because of the black outfits he wore at his concerts.

Cash identified with the common man, beginning from his years growing up on a cotton farm in Arkansas during the Great Depression. He understood the hardships families faced trying to get by, and carried those feelings throughout his life.

That was symbolized in the black attire, which he addressed in the song, "Man in Black," released in 1971 in an album of the same title. The song reached No. 3 on the Billboard country charts and No. 58 on the pop charts.

And he gave the reasons "for the things I have on."

We learn it's:

  • "for the poor, and the beaten down...
  • "for the prisoner who is long paid for his crime...
  • "for those who've never read or listened to the words that Jesus said...
  • "for the sick and lonely old...
  • "for the thousands who have died believin' that the Lord was on their side...
  • "for another hundred thousand who have died believin' that we all were on their side...
Cash closes the song with this verse:

"Ah, I love to wear a rainbow every day
And tell the world that everything's okay
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back
Till things are brighter, I'm the Man in Black."

I think it would be interesting if people wore black to symbolically protest the wrongs in towns, cities, states, country, and world. Maybe it would attract attention, and perhaps create some change for the good, much like the Man in Black did in his lifetime.

"Man in Black" lyrics

Until the next time...

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Traumatic Brain Injury

I recently read Bob Greene's book, "When We Get to Surf City: A Journey Through America in Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship, and Dreams."

Greene, the noted author and journalist, spent several years with Jan and Dean, touring with their band as he worked on the book.  

Jan Berry, if you don't know, suffered a traumatic brain injury in 1966 in a horrific car accident. Ironically, two years earlier the duo had recorded, "Dead Man's Curve."

Doctors didn't think Jan would live. In fact, police thought he was dead when they arrived at the scene of the accident. But Jan survived, miraculously, and returned to performing.

But it wasn't easy. From the book I learned that on the morning of each performance, Jan would be holed up in his motel room relearning the lyrics to the songs he would sing, some that he had written.

Jan was left with partial paralysis, but through personal dedication and countless hours in rehab, he was able to move on both legs. But it wasn't easy. One leg dragged when he walked. Greene relates in the book an occasion when some callous person hollered "Igor" at Jan while band members were walking back to their motel after a concert. I'm amazed people can be so cruel.

Another time, in Kansas City, Jan fell off the stage and had to be taken to a hospital. Through sheer determination, Jan bounced back and performed at the next concert. He was truly an inspiration, right up until he died in 2004 at the age of 62.

I'm writing this post because I hope people will be more understanding and caring of those who have suffered TBI. 

According to the Brain Injury Association:

  • 1.7 million people, including 475,000 children are diagnosed with TBI each year; and 3.1 million people live with a life-long disability.
  • 52,000 people die each year from TBI.
  • About 75 percent of TBIs each year are from concussions or other forms of mild traumatic brain injury.
  • TBI is a contributing factor to 30.5 percent of all injury-related deaths in the United States.
We know TBI can happen in many ways -- car accidents, falls, sports injuries, assaults, etc. -- to anyone.

And we've seen our military men and women return from foreign countries with TBI. From 2000-2012, according to data from the Defense Medical Surveillance System, there have been 194,561 mild, 42,063 moderate, and 6,476 severe cases of TBI.

I sincerely hope people will show more compassion to those who have suffered from TBI.

Until the next time...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Story Songs: Surf City

While The Beatles and the British bands may have ruled most of the 1960s, it was American surf musicians who, pardon the pun, established the first beachhead in that wonderful decade of music.

With the likes of The Beach Boys, Dick Dale, The Trashmen,  The Surfaris, and many others, surf music was the rage of American teens, even those like me who lived in Kentucky. They presented us with a world of sun-kissed beaches, endless blue waves, and bikini-clad babes that most of us could only dream about back then.

One of my all-time favorite groups is Jan and Dean, who had the first No. 1 surf song with "Surf City" in 1963. It was written by Jan Berry and Brian Wilson, with some input from  Dean Torrence.

The song opens with a spirited, "Two girls for every boy."
It's no wonder that we landlocked guys wanted to head to the West Coast in a woodie and buy a surf board, if only to look cool strutting on the beach.

"You see they never roll the streets up 'cause there's always somethin' goin'
(Surf City, here we come)
You know they're either out surfin' or they got a party growin'
(Surf City, here we come)
Well, with two swingin' honeys for every guy
And all you gotta do is just wink your eye"

There's no stopping the guys heading to Surf City, even if their woodie breaks down and they have to hitch a ride. Why?

"...we're goin' to Surf City, 'cause it's two to one
You know we're goin' to Surf City, gonna have some fun
You know we're goin' to Surf City, 'cause it's two to one
You know we're goin' to Surf City, gonna have some fun, now

Because there's:

"Two girls for every boy."

Some folks remember only Jan and Dean's "Dead Man's Curve," recorded nearly two years before Jan's near-fatal car accident in which he suffered severe head injuries, of which he never fully recovered. Jan passed away in 2004 at the age of 62; Dean still performs on occasion with a surf-music group.

The duo had several top-selling songs such as "Linda," "The New Girl in School," "Ride the Wild Surf," "Sidewalk Surfin'," "Little Old Lady From Pasadena," "Drag City," and "Honolulu Lulu." I believe they're another group that has been overlooked, and underrated, by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

If you're ever want to go to "Surf City," the city of Huntington Beach, Calif., is nationally recognized as the official, "Surf City USA." 

"Surf City" lyrics

Until the next time...

Monday, July 1, 2013

Moving Forward To Publication

I finished my manuscript on Sunday afternoon and sent it off to my publisher. I gave it a final proofread and  made some minor changes, and then formatted it to the publisher's specifications.

Am I completely satisfied with the manuscript? Of course not. I believe most, if not all, writers will tell you that they could tinker with their manuscript for years and never be totally satisfied.

But there comes a time when you simply have to let it go and move on to other things. That's not to say I'm not pleased with the story. If I wasn't, then I wouldn't be writing this post.

The editing process isn't over. The manuscript will go through another reader and then I'll work with an editor in finalizing it for publication.
Along the way I'll work with a graphic artist on a cover and complete other items such as the dedication, acknowledgments, and biographical information. In addition, there will be pre-publication promotion and a book trailer.

As you can see, there is more work to be done. At least I can take a breather for a few weeks.

Until the next time...