Thursday, October 31, 2013

No NaNoWriMo for Me This Year

As much as I enjoyed participating in National Novel Writing Month -- NaNoWriMo -- last November, I won't be taking part this time around.

Thousands of writers around the world will take up the challenge on Nov. 1, and I salute them because it's not easy taking part in a daily writing marathon that has a goal of producing a minimum of 50,000 words.

My effort last year was fruitful because it did result in a young adult novel -- "The Bully List." The first draft was very raw, but I did get down the basics of what I wanted to say, and after six rewrites and three edits by others, it became a book.

So why don't I delve into another NaNoWri? It's simple. I have too much going on in November. I'm involved with the Kentucky Book Fair as marketing chair and a panel moderator. Then there's Thanksgiving holiday, promoting "The Bully List," and my regular daytime job. 

I do think that NaNoWriMo is a great way to jumpstart your writing. It worked for me last year. When I write a novel, I put down words every day until I'm finished. So next year I may have a personal writing month, or more, to produce another novel.

I also have plans to write another short-story collection so that will take up valuable time as well. And while I love to write, I also want to enjoy life by spending time with family and friends, taking trips, and playing with a few hobbies such as photography. 

So if you're thinking about doing NaNoWriMo, I encourage you to jump in and see it to the end. You won't regret it -- if you have the time.

Until the next time...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Spotlight on The Doobie Brothers

The Doobie Brothers recorded some of the best music in the 1970s with No. 1 hits such as "Black Water" and "What a Fool Believes." And their songs still hold up today. 

While there have lineup changes through the years, the group had some great rocking tunes such as  "Listen to the Music," "China Grove," "Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me)," and "Takin' It to the Streets" and then went through a soulful period when Michael McDonald was lead singer in the late '70s. 

The group even cranked out a religious rocker in 1972 with "Jesus Is Just Alright," which probably attracted a few more followers to their music. 

I simply love the musicianship, vocals and versatility of The Doobie Brothers. They've sold more than 40 million albums and are still performing and recording. Check out their discography.

During the McDonald years, the group earned a Grammy Award in 1979 for "What A Fool Believes," co-written by McDonald and Kenny Loggins. It was named "Record of the Year" and "Song of the Year." 

The Doobies were elected to the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004. 

And the group was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in ... Well, believe it or not, The Doobies have not reached that hallowed hall of rock music. They were first eligible in 1996.

Not even nominated. Go figure! Their place in the Cleveland shrine is long overdue.

Rock on Doobies!

Until the next time...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Let's Stop Bullying -- Now

I've been asked by a few people why I chose the subject of bullying for my latest novel, "The Bully List."

There are a number of reasons. While I was working on master's degree in special education a few years ago, I took several general education classes that discussed bullying in schools. I found it very interesting and enlightening.

I believe most, if not all of us, have experienced or witnessed bullying while we were in school. Maybe both. Even those who didn't get involved -- remained silent and didn't intervene -- would agree that bullying wasn't right. 

Even as I've moved on into adulthood -- the twilight years -- I recall bullying in different workplaces. I think that's another reason why bullying needs to be stopped in schools. 

We all know it's a serious problem. Just read in the headlines and you'll see where some children -- as young as 12 -- have been driven to commit suicide. That's heartbreaking. 

I hope that my novel will contribute to the dialogue about bullying. I'm happy to see it addressed more vigorously than in the past. It's not harmless teasing; it's mean-spirited behavior. 

And it needs to stop. 

Here are a few websites that I recommend about bullying:

Bullying Statistics

Kentucky Center for School Safety

No Bully

Pacer Center's Teens Against Bullying


Stop Bullying Now

The Bullying Project

Family First Aid

I'll discuss the literary aspects in a future post.

Until the next time...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Great Bet for Winning Vacation

My wife and I spent the past five days vacationing in Las Vegas. The place was on our bucket list for several years so we finally made the trip.

Caesars Palace
Luxor Hotel and Casino
We didn't gamble but we still had an enjoyable time because there are so many things to do while there. We were impressed by the architecture and interior designs of all the themed hotels and casinos. Yes, a few were a bit gaudy, but most were lavish with no expense spared to attract guests. 

Ceiling in Caesars lobby
Harley-Davidson restaurant
 We're urban hikers so we enjoyed going from one place to the next during our sightseeing venture. There are many first-class restaurants, high-end shops such as Gucci, Tiffany and many more, and the standard, low-end tourist shops for people like me (wife not included)! 

Veronic -- the gal with 50 voices

We took in three shows -- "Jersey Boys," "Rock of Ages," and "Veronic" -- and highly recommend them all. On a side note, we also decided to rest our feet one afternoon and saw the movie, "Gravity" in 3D. Great special effects but weak storyline. 

New York New York Hotel and Casino

There were tourists from all over the world, making Vegas a truly cosmopolitan city. 

Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino
If there was a downside to our trip, it was a bus tour reserved two months ago to visit Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon that was effectively cancelled by our federal government. 

We may visit Las Vegas again after we see some other places on our list.  We were told that the light show on Freemont Street in old Vegas was interesting. 
Spring Mountains to the west of Las Vegas

Even if you don't gamble, Las Vegas is a great bet to have a wonderful time.

Until the next time....

Friday, October 4, 2013

Story Songs: "Wives and Lovers" and "Wishin' and Hopin'"

I heard these songs on the radio the other day and thought times have really changed in male-female relationships.

I'm sure many of the younger folks won't remember these songs so just listen and judge in the context of the time they were recorded. 

The first is Jack Jones's "Wives and Lovers," a tune by the great songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It won a Grammy Award for Best Male Vocal in 1964.

It opens:

"Hey! Little girl
Comb your hair, fix your makeup
Soon he will open the door
Don't think because there's a ring on your finger
You needn't try anymore"

And then the gals are told:

"Day after day
There are girls at the office
And men will always be men
Don't send him off with your hair still in curlers
You may not see him again"

I'm sure that touches a nerve with a few women today.

And the the song admonishes:

"For wives should always be lovers, too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you"

And closes softly:

"Dim all the lights, pour the wine, start the music
Time to get ready for love"

This song was written during an age when most families had one income (man's) and women stayed at home raising the kids and other domestic chores. 

Another song was by the legendary Dusty Springfield called "Wishin' and Hopin'," from, you guessed it, Bacharach and David. It was a Top 10 hit in 1964.

In this song, a gal has to do more than wishin' and hopin' to land a guy, she has to do things to please him:

"Show him that you care just for him
Do the things he likes to do
Wear your hair just for him, 'cause
You won't get him
Thinkin' and a-prayin', wishin' and a-hopin"

And after a woman does those things, she only has to do these extras to get your guy:

"All you gotta do is hold him and kiss him and squeeze him and love him
Yeah, just do it
And after you do, you will be his"

Now I think it's helpful to try to be at your best when dating but this song is a bit one-sided. 

Any thoughts? Any songs that you find a bit out of touch with today's woman?

"Wives and Lovers" lyrics

"Wishin' and Hopin'" lyrics

Until the next time...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Book Release Day!

Today my manuscript became a book.

Wings ePress released "The Bully List" along with three other titles on Oct. 1. The young-adult novel is available that publisher's website -- -- and will be popping up at other sites in the next day or so.  

The novel is about two boys who are bullied by a gang. They try to get even but their efforts don't always turn out like they planned. I hope students, teachers, and parents find the story relevant, informative and entertaining. 

Coincidentally, October is National Bullying Prevention Month.

For those who have been following my blog for the past year, you know that I participated in National Novel Writing Month last November. 

I didn't look at the manuscript for about five months, then went through seven drafts before submitting it to Wings. From there, it was read, accepted, and then I worked with an editor for several weeks tying up some loose ends, fixing some scenes and dialogue, and cleaning the copy from typos and such.

I also worked with an artist on the cover. Then I had one more read to make any final changes and additions.

And now it's a book!

I had hoped to launch a new homepage today but I've got a few items to fix before bringing it to life. You'll be the first to know when it's online.

Until the next time...