Monday, December 30, 2013

Write Resolutions for 2014

When I make new year's resolutions, I try to list those that I can keep. I tend to stay away from the traditional ones such as doing healthier things, quitting bad habits, and decluttering my life because I'm just setting myself up for failure -- albeit minor ones for the most part.

That's not to say a person shouldn't have various and sundry resolutions to improve one's life. But I don't need to create a once-a-year list to do those things. I like to think that I can make changes as they occur along the way.

But I do like to establish some goals in my writing life that I try to adhere throughout the year. They're really not that difficult to keep since they are commonsense goals.

Here what I'll try to do this, and every, year as a writer:

1. Write every day. It doesn't necessarily have to be a book project although that will come during the course of the year. I have a full-time job that involves writing and editing. I post entries to this blog (my goal is two or three a week but sometimes I fall short of that). I also work on short stories.

2. Read every day. I always have a book or two that I'm reading. I try to have an fiction or nonfiction on my nightstand that I read every evening before I retire for the night. I read quite a bit on the Internet and from magazines that I subscribe. And I venture to the public library's reading area for items to read. I must admit that I fell short of my Goodreads goal of reading 40 books in 2013; I only made it to 29.
3. Maintain contact with author friends. I always enjoy their company as we chat about writing, books, and other authors.    

 4. Participate in writing events. I believe it's important for authors to take part in literacy programs, book fairs, library activities and similar events to stay in contact with the reading public and other authors. And in a sense, it's a way of giving back and supporting others.

5. Continue to study and learn the craft. I subscribe to several blogs about writing. They open my eyes to all things writing, from characterization, plot development, dialogue marketing, promotion, and more. 

6. Always give my best effort. I want to be the best writer I can be so I'll endeavor to make every word, every sentence, and every paragraph count. I know I'll probably fall short but it's the effort to improve that will make me a better writer.

Do you have any "write resolutions" for 2014?

Until the next time.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Getting Focused for 2014

After a busy past few weeks, I'll be turning my attention on my next writing project. I have several ideas floating  around in my head so I'll have to decide which direction to take in 2014.

My last two novels were for young adults -- "Shooting Star" and "The Bully List." In between I wrote "Laments: Short Stories."

And before that I wrote a murder mystery, "A Confidential Man," and before that a contemporary mainstream, "Foolish Is The Heart."

I've had folks ask me when I'm going to write another mainstream novel. And the same for a mystery. I've enjoyed writing both as well as the young-adult novels and short stories. I've always wanted to write a play but that will probably come about in a few more years.

Of course, I could multi-task and work on all three at the same time. I know some authors who have worked on several books at the same time and didn't miss a beat. I'm not sure I could do that at this point.

The main problem I see is that I'm still working fulltime so that takes a big chunk out of my writing time. And I do like to do other things while I'm on this earth, such as travel, read, hike, be with friends, and family time, and not necessarily in that order. I firmly believe writers must have some balance in their lives.

After I think through all the possibilities, I'll let you know which direction I have taken in the new year.

Until the next time...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Story Songs: December Snow

Ten years ago the Moody Blues released a Christmas album called "December." Among the songs were the traditional "White Christmas," John and Yoko Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" as well as some of their own compositions.

My favorite is Justin Hayward's "December Snow," probably the only entry that can be played other times of the year. Those who've been to a Moodies concert in the past 10 years have probably heard Justin perform this bittersweet song.

For me, Hayward's heartfelt lyrics about the seasons are metaphors about warmth of friendship and love and the coldness that comes when that person has left your life.

The song begins:

"Like December snow
That lays in the wood
You're gone too soon
I knew you should"

And then he writes:

"With October skies
You brought your love
But November came
Taking  all I have
Time,  take this sadness from me
Time, bring my heart back safely
Hold on to warm September
'Cos life can be like December snow."

There is a piano solo, probably by Danilo Madonia, that conveys the bleakness and emptiness of the time. 

And the song closes with:

"Time,  take this sadness from me
Time, bring my heart back safely
Hold on to warm September
'Cos life can be like December snow."

For lots of folks, there is a sadness that comes during this time of the year when many reflect on their blessings as well as their losses. And there is seasonal  affective disorder -- or SAD -- that people experience during the winter months.

I hope your holidays are filled with joy and happiness.

"December Snow" lyrics



Until the next time...

Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Organized Clutter

The room where I write appears cluttered to most folks. And, I suppose, it probably is at first glance. 

A glimpse of my desk, one bookcase, and wall.
There are four bookcases loaded with books, a CD rack loaded with CDs, stereo system with four speakers, desk and two-drawer file cabinet. There's also a chair where I read and a padded bed on the floor for my little buddy Bailey. And there's a window that provides some light and allows me to know what's going on outside my private domain.

This is my retreat. My escape. If it's clutter, it's organized clutter because I know where everything is. And for the observer, that's something they shouldn't be concerned about anyway. I know where to find things quickly so that's all that really matters.

Most of the books are focused on writing. There are others I use for reference, such as history, geography, and sociology. I own several dictionaries and thesauri as well. 

I must say that I'd be surprised if I went into a writer's study and didn't see books, lots of them. I also have a mini-library in the downstairs den with more books. 

But the study is my personal space where I read, write, listen to music, or simply meditate, contemplate, or vegetate.

Until the next time... 

Some music to go with this post:

The Beach Boys -- "In My Room"

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Spotlight on Johnny Rivers

One of the most versatile and talented performers in rock 'n' roll is Johnny Rivers. He's been singing, playing guitar, recording and touring since the 1950s.

While some American solo artists and groups didn't survive the first British Invasion in late 1963, Rivers met the challenge and flourished with his distinctive sound and delivery.

Although he was born in New York (his real name is John Henry Ramistella), his family moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when he was a child. And you can hear the Cajun influence in his music. 

Like most folks, I first learned about Rivers with his album, "Live at the Whisky a Go-Go," which produced the mega hit "Memphis." He followed that with hits such as "Maybelline," "Mountain of Love," and "Midnight Special."

And then he shifted gears and turned out ballads, Motown covers, folk songs and then some more rockers with songs such as "Poor Side of Town," "Summer Rain," "Baby I Need Your Loving," "The Tracks of My Tears," "Secret Agent Man," "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu," and "Swayin' to the Music."

Rivers charted 11 Top 20 songs including the No. 1 "Poor Side of Town" from 1964 to 1977. Quite impressive. 

Since his first major recording came in 1963 (he had several singles in 1957), Rivers would have been eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. According to my research, he has NEVER been nominated for the honor. I find that unbelievable! He was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

Here's the Future Rock Legends website list of others who have been overlooked, or snubbed, through the years.

More about Rivers came be found at All Music.

And now a few videos of the great Johnny Rivers:

Maybelline and Memphis

Secret Agent Man

Poor Side of Town

Summer Rain

Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu

Until the next time...