ProfGroovy_Cover
books, Fiction, hippies, New release, short stories

Professor Groovy, Class Is In Session

I just got word Professor Groovy and Other Stories is now available on Kindle. How much fun is that?

As I’ve mentioned before, the four stories are a prequel of sorts to Peace, Love, and You Know What. Michelle Gutierrez designed the cover you see above that reflects that relationship in a creative way. (Thanks, Michelle.)

Lenora Dias, one of the novel’s main characters, is the prominent figure in each story. We get a taste of the late sixties via her point of view.

For those who haven’t read the novel, Lenora is the first of her Portuguese family to go to college at the fictional Westbridge State. She goes hippie big time, but is levelheaded enough to stay out of too much trouble and to graduate on time. A serial romantic, she falls hard in love and suffers for it. She is the queen of her little tribe of hippie friends.

In one story in this collection, Lenora has an encounter with a professor who enjoys having no boundaries with his students. Yes, you could call him a dirty professor.

In another, Lenora reveals a secret and in another, a liar. Then, there is her raucous summer fling with a guy back home.

Yes, these stories were inspired by my experiences long ago, but they are strictly from my imagination. I wrote them before I started Peace, Love, and You Know What. I guess you could call them practice runs although two did get picked up by publications.

I opted at this point to go with Kindle only because the short stories total 10,000 words. In the future, I may incorporate them with other stories to make a heftier book worth printing.

The price to read Professor Groovy is 99 cents, which I believe is fair.

Don’t have a Kindle? You can download the free app to your computer, phone or tablet. Anyway, here is the link on Amazon Professor Groovy

Thanks for reading my fiction.

 

 

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sunset
books, hippies, Taos

Keeping Up With Appearances

The publishing experiment continues with two readings, actually three, in two days. Not as racy, certainly, as Lenora, one of my main characters in Peace, Love, and You Know What, having sex with three guys in two days, but that is fiction. This is real life.

On Thursday, June 30, I was part of the lineup of 50 or so writers who read from their works as part of SOMOS of Taos’ open house in its swanky new headquarters. I was the first, reading from Los Primos y el Pez Mágico — the English part anyway — in the kids’ hour. We had a good crowd of gymnastic campers from next door and even adults.

somos reading June 2016

Reading at the SOMOS of Taos open house. Thank you Bleuzette La Feir for the photo.

Throughout the day, writers of all genres read from their work. That night I was back with the adult fiction writers. I read from a chapter in Peace, Love, and You Know What called The Hard Truth, which is the second in the book.

I had nine minutes. When I prepared, I realize a lot happens in my novel. Since the plot involves college hippie tribes and dirty professors, I wanted to keep it simple and focus on the main characters. I wanted dialogue. The Hard Truth worked.

The next morning I drove across the mesa to KNCE 93.5 FM for David and Carolyn Hinske’s radio show, You Kids Get Off My Lawn. (Don’t let the title fool you into thinking the Hinskes are curmudgeons. They are really sweet.) The station is located in an Airstream trailer, aka the Silver Twinkie, next to Taos Mesa Brewing.

As a journalist for over 30 years, I am usually the one asking questions. This was a change for me. But I was delighted the Hinskes read the novel. (Carolyn made a pitch that it would make a great movie.) And they asked great questions about the book, the writing process, and my former life as the managing editor of a newspaper. I think I gave decent answers.

And I read a bit from Peace, Love, and You Know What. Here was the challenge: as I told David and Carolyn, I not only swear like a sailor and I write like one. The FCC frowns on that. So I printed out a chapter and change a couple of the words so the radio station wouldn’t get into trouble.

That won’t be the case Friday, July 8, when I do a solo reading. Again it will be at the SOMOS office in Taos, from 6-8 p.m.

This time I am going to read sections from chapters to get those who attend through the three-day bash — and then one from a year later to show where this book heads.

My friend Teresa Dovalpage, who grew up in Cuba and knows nothing about hippies, will do a short Q&A. I will have books to sell — $12 each — and sign. And I will be serving brownies, without the magic ingredient, of course. To make it authentic to the book, however, I may even use a Betty Crocker mix.

I am hoping for a raucous good time.

Can’t make it and want your own book in Kindle or paperback? Here’s the link: Peace, Love, and You Know What

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: Hank and I were sitting in our front yard after dinner when the light hit the landscape in a rather magical way for several minutes.

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trio market
books, hippies, Writing

A Whole Lot Going On

First, to those who anticipate buying a paperback of Peace, Love, and You Know What, the only holdup is the arrival of the hard copy proof. That is imminent. The biggest concern for Michelle, the designer, and me is the layout. This is a first for us.

I will let everyone know as soon as I pull the trigger — and as loudly as I can.

PeaceLove_Cover smallOn related topics, the electronic equipment I ordered to record Peace, Love, and You Know What is on its way. The prequel, Professor Groovy and Other Stories is in the batter’s circle. I scheduled a solo reading at SOMOS of Taos for July 8, a week after I am in a marathon reading as part of the open house at its new location.

Meanwhile, I am copyediting the next book to be launched — The Sweet Spot. This is one of my hilltown books. Here is a teaser: A big scandal in a small town — love and mislove, secrets and discovery, rich and poor, old families and newcomers, deep roots and fresh starts, violence and peace.

The Sweet Spot takes place in 1978. It didn’t happen in the small town of Worthington, where I once lived, but it could have. This book is not a comedy, but a couple of the characters are, well, characters, who may generate a chuckle from the reader.

Speaking of copyediting, I got inspired while reading a friend’s non-fiction book to do it as a sideline business. When I was given a sample copy, I found the book to be interesting and well-written, but, alas, it contained so many typos. Hundreds of typos. My friend had just sent it to the publisher, and I advised him to take it back. I volunteered my services to copyedit the book. The book had been edited — for pay no less — but still I found spelling errors, lack of hyphens, improper punctuation, and so many inconsistencies. I did four go-throughs and was happy to do it.

The experience got me thinking about doing editing for pay. I have been editing and copyediting other people’s writing, never mind my own, for decades. I know how not to get in the way of a writer’s voice. If I have questions, I ask them.

My aim would be not to let errors be a distraction to a piece of writing. And with the self-publishing opportunities now available, would-be authors need that kind of help.

Right now, I am figuring out rates, how to get the word out — you know, the business end of writing.

One final note, which I am adding after the original post, is about a rattle snake. I was getting water from the back spigot when a young rattler ambled about six inches from my foot. I am pleased at myself for not freaking out. Instead, I watched it curl beneath one of the currant bushes. I am going to pay attention to where I walk from now on.

My neighbor just found one on her back door. She called a friend, who chopped off its head, skinned it and took the rest back with him. He will use the fat as medicine and eat the meat. So the rattler didn’t die in vain.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: This trio, playing lively Hispanic music, was part of the entertainment when Hank and I were at the Taos Farmers Market on Saturday.

 

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bobby and me 1970 copy
books, hippies, Travel

Returning to the Scene of the Crime

Well, I suppose it is if you consider smoking pot, dropping acid, and protesting a senseless war as crimes. Throw in skipping class for no good reason. But on a recent road trip Back East I visited my alma mater Bridgewater State University, the inspired setting for my novel Peace, Love, and You Know What.

auditorium

Front of the auditorium at Boyden Hall. The lit mag was located in the mezzanine, where the window is open.

I hadn’t been back since I graduated in 1972. Then, Bridgewater State College was a cluster of traditional brick buildings, except for a newly opened dorm. The college, now officially a university, has grown immensely with new buildings. The old ones have been repurposed. Its academic offerings likewise have expanded. A commuter rail, which I took, links the school to Boston.

But that’s not why I went. I was on a research mission in that I wanted to see the buildings and places I used in my novel.

A caveat: Peace, Love, and You Know What is a piece of fiction. It is not a memoir. Like other authors, I used what I experienced and had my way with it. That included the college, which I call Westbridge State in the novel.

221 summer street copy

This is 221 Summer Street, aka 221 Winter Street in the book.

On a fine May day, I walked to 221 Summer Street, the inspiration for the crash pad, 221 Winter Street, in the novel. From the amount of mailboxes I suspect it is still rented to students, but the building is far better maintained, at least from the exterior. So is the apartment house on Broad Street, the infamous Brown House where I once partied and later lived. Like a lot of buildings, it had new siding. Alas, the cinder block apartment complex AKA the Roach Motel was torn down long ago, I was told.

I visited Carver’s Pond, used in the book for the softball game between the rival Winter Street and Roach Motel hippie tribes. As a student, I sought refuge here even in the winter. Now it’s a park with walking trails.

newspaper office

The former newspaper office now used as a closet.

The campus was empty since graduation was held earlier that month. As I wrote, many of the older buildings, including the dorm where I lived two years, have new lives. I managed to sneak into the auditorium. The closet of an office, once a ticket-box, used for the student newspaper is indeed now a closet. I couldn’t get access to the mezzanine where the lit magazine was located. (I was once the editor.) The commuter lounge, a frequent gathering place, was long gone. I smile thinking about the times my group hung around that building, up to no good, according to the school’s administration.

restaurant

The restaurant was called Buddy’s when I went to school. It was inspiration for Ray’s in the book.

I headed downtown, which surprisingly hasn’t fared as well as campus, with empty storefronts and funky businesses. The coffee shop — Buddy’s when I was there, Ray’s in the book — still exists. It’s now called My Sister and I. The interior has been changed to give more seating. My friends and I spent countless hours there drinking bad coffee and talking. I ate lunch for old times sake.

I did stop at the alum office. The friendly women working there showed me the yearbooks from the time I was in school. I started with the one from 1970. The first page I opened had the photo you see above.

I remember the moment. I was walking with my boyfriend Bobby when someone yelled from a moving car and took our photo. I thought it was true love, but it ended months later, his choice. Like Lenora, one of the main characters in Peace, Love, and You Know What, I fell hard in love and suffered when things didn’t work out.

Here is a scene from the book. Mack and Tim are talking about a three-day graduation bash they are going to hold at their crummy apartment.

“Make sure Lenora hears about it,” Tim said.

Mack’s lips curled beneath his red mustache.

“A party without Lenora? Our queen? No way. Hey, Tim, maybe you should do the asking.” His grin got bigger. “She should be over that last guy by now. What’s his name? Tadd?”

“No, it was Brad,” Tim said.

“Brad. What kind of a name is Brad? Sometimes I wonder about Lenora’s choice in guys. At least he’s gone.” Mack’s brow pinched. “Doesn’t it take Lenora six weeks to get over a guy? I believe it’s time to finally make your move, Tim. She’s outta here next week.”

Tim sighed. Lenora’s last relationship was a close one. Things were getting heavy with the guy, a friend of Joey’s hiding out from some trouble in California. But Lenora’s romances lasted three months tops, the guys drawn by her open heart, soaking in her love as if it were sunlight, until it drove them away. Tim held her while she cried enough times to know the story. Her ex-boyfriends said they were living in the here and now. They reminded her about the war in Vietnam. Her response? War was all the more reason to be in love. They didn’t see it her way. She took the breakups hard, sobbing in her room, playing dreary folk songs like Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” and snarling at the lines. She stopped eating, got real skinny, drank, and smoked too much pot, embarrassing herself a little in public. She wrote sad or hateful poetry until she came to her senses or lost interest.

Yup, that about sums it up. By the way, the alum office wants a hard copy of the book when it comes out. I did warn them it’s a bit raunchy.

UPDATE: Oh, so close on the paperback edition. Until then, here is the link to the Kindle version: https://www.amazon.com/Peace-Love-You-Know-What-ebook/dp/B01E03WMQC?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

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I am sitting in somebody's car while wearing big, pink sunglasses.
books, friends, hippies

From One Who Was There

At first, my friend Fred Fullerton was going to hold off reading my novel Peace, Love, and You Know What until it came out in paperback. But then he couldn’t resist. After all, he makes a cameo appearance.

Fred is one of the party-goers at the three-day graduation bash held at a slummy, college apartment. Joey, a brainy but nervous guy who loves poetry, is one of the roommates. It’s the first night of the bash. Here is the excerpt:

Joey sat several feet away, talking it up with another heavy thinker, a guy who returned to Westbridge on the GI Bill after being stationed in Europe. He was into that expat thing, wearing a beret and smoking a pipe. The two were deep into William Carlos William’s Kora in Hell Improvisations. Joey rushed to the attic to get his copy, dog-eared and filled with his notes. The two passed a joint and read the best passages aloud while the expat’s foxy German wife chain-smoked unfiltered Gauloises.

“Read that line again. I think I heard something new there,” Joey told the expat.

Fred attended Bridgewater State College, now a university, in the sixties. He went into the service and was stationed in Germany before returning to finish his degree. He moved back to Germany after he graduated, but now lives in the U.S.

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Fred shortly after he moved back to German in 1974.

I met Fred during his second go-round at the college. We have remained very good friends since, keeping in contact via letters, emails, and visits when I am back East. Yeah, he’s a heavy thinker with a great sense of humor. He’s also a reader and writer. And, he’s also one of the few people I used directly as inspiration for this comedy from the seventies.

So, although Fred read earlier drafts of the novel, he downloaded the Kindle app to his computer April 18. Then, the emails began.  I am going to quote from the less personal messages.

Here’s the first: I downloaded the Kindle edition of Love, Peace & You Know What and want to read the final version since the last time I read it was while you were still editing it. I chuckled at the party scene where Joey and the expat are discussing and read William Carlos Williams Kora in Hell: Improvisations. I guess I’ll have to read it so I can discuss it with “Joey.”

Yup, Joey is another of my characters inspired by a real person. But this is fiction, not a memoir.

Then, I asked Fred to check the acknowledgements at the end of the novel. He’s in there.

The back and forth began. Fred would read a little. I would find a question in my email, several times a day.

Curious …who was the gay prof at the 3-day party at 221 Winter St.?

He asks about other characters. He recalls dear friends from our tribe who died. I let him know which characters are total fabrications, which are most of them.

I’m having a ball reading this book. Even though I read earlier drafts, this is much improved and really funny! It’s also bringing back lots of memories … the coffee shop (I lived in the boarding house above it my freshman year), and other places. I spent many, many evenings at Westbridge Apartments, which you accurately rename the Roach Motel!

Yes, it was an apt description of the row of apartments that resembled more of a motel than student housing. It’s no longer there. Also, 221 Winter Street is a variation of an actual address. The layouts of the campus and town were as I remember it then. (I haven’t been back since I graduated but I am planning a field trip soon.)

I’m reading your book as if I were drinking a fine wine or whiskey in small sips. At this rate, I might have a review for you by this weekend.

The emails sped up.

I also like how the music at Ned’s [Professor Ned Burke AKA Professor Groovy] memorial service is Edith Piaff’s “Non, je ne regrette rien.” It’s as apropos as his dying “in the saddle,” so to speak.

I listened to her sing that song a few times while I wrote the scene.

On April 22: I love the part where Joey teaches Beowulf to Mack’s class. Yes, Beowulf is a terrific tale. I can’t remember when I first read it, perhaps in high school, but I’ve read it a few times since.

I tell Fred I had to teach Beowulf to high school freshmen when I was a student teacher. I don’t think I was very successful. I only got a B.

You rascal! You put your dad in there as Coach Tony Madrid! 😀

Yes, I used my father for the character of the man who was retiring after coaching generations of high school students. Tim, one of the main characters, is covering his retirement sendoff for a newspaper.

I’m almost done. Your book is laugh-out-loud funny. I especially cracked up when Manny said, “I feel like I’m in somebody’s acid trip.” You’ve got so much going on in the book. It’s not only a roman à clef but also a Bildungsroman with a good dose of Sturm und Drang!

I tell Fred I still find the book funny after reading it a zillion times.

And on April 23: The review is “alive” on Amazon. It was fun to do!

Yes, you can go to Amazon and see it for yourself. Fred gave the novel five stars. Thank you dear friend.

Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/Peace-Love-You-Know-What-ebook/dp/B01E03WMQC/ref=la_B01E1HKIDG_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461508808&sr=1-1

Peace, Love, and You Know What will be out in paperback hopefully soon. I am going to attempt audio, even with my New England accent.

PHOTO ABOVE: I used this photo once before for my piece about my obsession with Bob Dylan’s music. My sister sent me this photo. I am sitting in somebody’s car while I am wearing big, pink sunglasses. I don’t remember who took it or the occasion. But I like the stray curl.

 

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