Thursday, May 26, 2016

Story Songs -- I Write the Songs

Bruce Johnston wrote the greatest tribute to songwriters with "I Write the Songs," a timeless composition that reminds us about the importance of music in our lives. 

Johnston, a longtime member of The Beach Boys, composed the song in 1975. It was first recorded by David Cassidy and The Captain & Tennille. Then Barry Manilow reluctantly covered the song, taking it to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1976 -- 40 years ago.

The song begins, 

"I've been alive forever
And I wrote the very first song
I put the words and melodies together
I am music and I write the songs"

He goes on to say,

"My home lies deep within you
And I've got my own place in your soul"

For those who love music, we know there are songs that stay with us forever, for whatever reasons. 

Johnston writes that, 

"... music makes you dance
And gives you spirit to take a chance
And I wrote some rock 'n' roll so you can move
Music fills your heart
Well, that's a real fine place to start"

And the unforgettable chorus,

"I write the songs that make the whole world sing
I write the songs of love and special things
I write the songs that make the young girls cry
I write the songs, I write the songs"

While some folks thought the song was about Beach Boys' gifted band mate Brian Wilson, Johnston has stated the "I" in the lyrics represents "God" and the creativity in everyone.

Johnston's timeless tune went on to win the Grammy's  "Record of the Year" in 1977. It has been recorded by more than 200 artists, including Johnston on his "Going Public" album that same year.

Johnston, who turns 74 in June, has had an impressive and prolific career as a singer, songwriter, and music producer. Another favorite of mine is his "Disney Girls (1957)," from the Beach Boys' "Surf's Up" album in 1971.

We can be thankful for his contributions, especially his wonderful song about music -- and songwriters.

Until the next time.... 

Friday, May 20, 2016

It's Boomer Lit for Me

There are times when something almost has to knock you off your feet before you realize what you've been doing for several years. It was kind of like a duh moment for me as an author.

My latest novel, Old Ways and New Days, is a coming-of-old-age story about a recent retiree who discovers that there's much more to life than work and a few family obligations. By the way, did you know that 10,000 boomers retire, or reach age 65, each day? I'm a member of the growing pajama club. 

While doing marketing and promotional research the past week, I ran across the literary sub-genre, boomer lit. Those are novels geared for baby boomers, those folks born between 1946 and 1964. 

According to a Publishing Perspectives blog post, there are 77.5 million boomers in the U.S. And they read.  A lot.

Here's a general list of genres, both nonfiction and fiction. Writer's Digest published a lengthy list of sub-genres. 

While thinking about my books, it occurred to me that four of my novels fall under the boomer lit label -- The Touch, A Long Highway, Foolish Is The Heart, and Old Ways and New Days. The protagonist and other primary characters in these books were all boomers, folks in the 40s and older.

I've also written in the young-adult genre, with Shooting Star and The Bully List

A story in the The Telegraph I found interesting noted that young adult-fiction gained a foothold back in the '60s with coming-of-age stories when many of the boomers were in their teens and younger. Remember S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, from the '60s.? Or perhaps J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, from the '50s? 
 Now those teeny-boppers have all grown up to become aging boomers,  and they want stories that relate to their mature stage in life. 

In the past, I've generally referred to my novels as mainstream fiction (except for A Confidential Man, a murder mystery involving boomers). That's a broad category. From now on, it's Boomer Lit!

Until the next time....  

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Post Dogwood Writing Conference

I had a great time at the 2016 Dogwood Writing Conference, an annual event sponsored by KYOWA Writers (Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia Association).  

The conference last weekend was entertaining and informative. I met some nice folks, some of whom are published authors and a few who are aspiring authors. 

Carter Caves SRP Lodge
The event was held at rustic Carter Caves State Resort Park, near Olive Hill. It was my first visit there and I plan to return to do some hiking, and perhaps some writing.

Mark Mirabello
Mark Mirabello, a history professor at nearby Shawnee State University, opened the conference with an enlightening presentation about ghosts. He's written several books about the paranormal, and his next will out in August, titled "A Traveler's Guide to the Afterlife: Traditions and Beliefs on Death, Dying and What Lies Beyond." I recommend him to those interested in history, ghosts, and all things paranormal.

Mary Shortridge
Mary Shortridge, a professor at Ashland Community College, led a unique (at least to me) exercise in short-story writing in Saturday's first session. I was paired with Gertrude, and I must say that I thought we came up with a very good story in the 15 minutes we had to put it together. Readers and writers groups as well as schools, libraries should contact Mary for their events. 

S.G. Redling
Bestselling mystery writer Sheila Redling (she goes by S.G. Redling), of Huntington, W.Va., discussed her approach to writing fiction and her life as a writer. Her latest novel is "Baggage." Her sixth book will be published in August. Give her a read, you won't be disappointed.  

Cathie Shaffer
Cathie Shaffer, who is president of KYOWA, closed the conference with an insightful presentation about marketing books and how authors can promote themselves. Shaffer has published several novels and is involved in Fat Cat Publications.

And yours truly talked about writing fiction and nonfiction. I wasn't booed or hissed so I think I did OK, and a few folks even purchased some of my novels after the presentation. You can't beat Kentucky (Ohio and West Virginia) hospitality!

Dogwood Writing Conference
If you have a writers group that would like to have a speaker(s) or if you would like some information on how to have a conference, you should contact Cathie at I'll be happy to help as well.

Until the next time....

(See that "Follow This Blog" tab on the right? I'd be flattered and honored to have you click it.)


Friday, May 6, 2016

Dogwood Writing Conference

I'll be at Carter Caves State Resort Park, near Olive Hill, Ky., to participate in the annual Dogwood Writing Conference on May 6-7.

The event is sponsored by KYOWA Writers, an organization of authors from Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. 

I'm one of the featured speakers, along with S.G. Redling, of Huntington, W.Va., a bestselling author of thrillers; and Mark Mirabello, a professor of history at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio, an author of six books.

It promises to be an interesting conference with the presenters representing different areas of writing. I'll be focusing on writing nonfiction and fiction as well as my career as a reporter and magazine editor. 

I'm sure I'll learn a lot from Redling and Mirabello as well as participants since many are established authors as well.

Registration is $50 at the door. For more information contact Cathie Shaffer at and or Fonda Warnock at

Until the next time.... 

(If your organization, club, library or readers group would like to have me as a speaker, contact me at I also can put you in touch with other authors who would enjoy talking about their books, writing, or whatever subject.)