andrew bassoon
Beatles, books, music, Peace Love and You Know What, reading

Thank You So Very Much

I have been immersed in copyediting, reading the ms for The Sweet Spot forwards, backwards and forwards. Now I raise my head above this task and thank a whole bunch of people.

Brodsky

Andrew Heinrich and Rick Smith at Brodsky.

Andrew Heinrich is the first I will mention. A bassoonist, Andrew expanded his serious repertoire of classical music to grant my request that he play The Beatles at my Sept. 17 reading of Peace, Love, and You Know What at Brodsky Bookshop in Taos. He played more songs than I expected, including one of my favorites, In My Life, from the album Rubber Soul.

Andrew studied the instrument at the Cleveland Institute of Music and New England Conservatory. He hasn’t played in public for a while, so I am very grateful. The audience was delighted. I was, too.

He will have a return engagement when he plays at my next reading, unscheduled as of yet but likely later this fall. That would be for The Sweet Spot, and the natural accompaniment would be Country and Western — pre-eight track. I am talking about the likes of Hank Williams and Patsy Cline. Stay tuned.

Secondly, thanks to Rick Smith at Brodsky for hosting the reading and the attentive audience who came. They laughed at the funny parts. What can I say?

Next, I thank those who have bought my books — in stores and online.

I am further grateful to those who have taken the time to write a review on Amazon. The latest was my friend, Cindy Brown, author of the Taos Hiking Guide. (If you hike in the Taos area, you need to buy her book.)

Cindy wrote in part, “The characters feel real and we get to see into what they are thinking and feeling; really understanding their motivations and doubts. The book follows them through the end of college and their launch into real life — complete with surprises and mystery that makes for a compelling read.”

She messaged me when she filed the review. Then I found a surprise: reviews from people I didn’t know.

Eli Dunn titled his review: Don’t miss this gem! “Funny, funky, and fresh this fictional account of hipsters on campus during the sixties will draw you into their world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. With a ready-made soundtrack, this novel is sure to be a cult movie favorite someday soon.” (I like that idea.)

Joana wrote: “Well, that was fun. This novel rang true to college hippie life at the cusp of the 70s. I felt like I knew the characters to the point of faces popping into my head, because I met some of their doppelgangers back in those days. Sexy, druggy, yet still a hopeful story of young uncertain people finding their way through their ‘coming of age’ towards love and adulthood. The story is timeless in that sense. Hope we hear more from Ms. Livingston!”

An anonymous reviewer gave it five stars and the comment, “Great book.”

Here’s the link, if you want your shot: Peace, Love, and You Know What on Amazon

So it’s back to work. Later this week, Michelle, who designs my books, will give me a timeframe. Meanwhile I keep hunting for misplaced commas, typos and repetitive words  — now in 50-page increments, my latest device. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read The Sweet Spot, but I still love it. I hope you all will, too.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: Andrew Heinrich plays the bassoon. Photos by Cody Hooks.

Standard
Microsoft Word - Brodsky poster.docx
books, Peace Love and You Know What, reading

Peace, Love, and The Beatles on the Bassoon

I have a reading of my novel Peace, Love, and You Know What scheduled Saturday, Sept. 17 at one of my favorite bookstores Brodsky Bookshop. If you happen to be in Taos, it starts 4 p.m. Of course, it’s free.

Besides reading about the hippies from the fictional Westbridge State College, I have invited Andrew Heinrich to play a few Beatles songs on the bassoon.

Andrew studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music and New England Conservatory. He typically plays classical music on the bassoon but agreed to add The Beatles to his repertoire for the reading. I left the choices up to him.

And, yes, there will be brownies, sans the ingredient the character Lenora used in the ones she baked in the book. After all, pot ain’t legal in New Mexico.

Copies of the book will be available to purchase.

So, what’s the novel about? Tim and his roommates, Manny, Mack and the nervous poet Joey, plan a three-day graduation bash at their slummy college apartment. At the top of their invite list is Lenora, their queen, who is graduating and splitting for Europe. (Tim, who is a few credits short, is faking his graduation.) Tim and Lenora have been tight friends for four years and he figures this party might be his last chance with her.

The three-day bash is a big hit for every hippie freak — including the rival Roach Motel Tribe — and dirty professor at Westbridge State College. You name it, they do it. Tim does get his chance with Lenora, but so do two others. And graduation manages to go off almost without a hitch.

For the next few years, Lenora lives in a commune while Tim stumbles on a path toward adulthood and perhaps that elusive happiness.

I am grateful to Rick Smith at Brodsky for the opportunity to read from my novel. Brodsky is a small store crammed with books, mostly used but some new, especially from local authors like myself.

The bookshop goes on largely because Smith makes it an experience to visit and buy books. He has a wealth of knowledge about Taos and tells good stories. Then, there is Willy, the shop cat.

Finding something good to read, whether it is old or new, is a serendipitous experience at Brodsky. Here is a story I wrote for The Taos News about the shop. Brodsky story Taos News

I am getting ready for the reading by choosing a few good sections. Oh, yeah, I gotta bake those brownies.

If you live or are visiting in Taos, I hope to see you there.

Here’s the link to Amazon for Peace, Love, and You Know What: Peace etc. on Amazon

 

Standard
mexican hat
audio, books, Professor Groovy, Writing

If At First

Heck, you can fill in the rest of that quote. I am also a big fan of ‘perseverance furthers” from the I Ching. Yes, I will stick with something until I get it done, whether it is digging a ditch, writing or publishing. My aim is for a successful conclusion. That is especially true these days.

I wrote a little while back about trying to record an audio book for Professor Groovy and Other Stories. The editing was a killer. Even so, I didn’t like the end result. So, I pulled apart my office-turned-studio and took a weeklong break. In the meantime, I did more research about breathing (yeah, you gotta breathe, but just do it naturally) and other related stuff like drinking Throat Coat Tea beforehand. It’s amazing what is available on blogs and YouTube.

As for GarageBand, I found the settings I need via the very helpful Rob Dircks, who wrote Where the Heck is Tesla. I’ve never met the guy, but he’s very generous with his help. Find info in the blog section of his website Gold Finch Publishing

Then, Friday night, I brought every piece of foam (like the seats from the couch), pillows and blankets we have into the office. Now, it looks like the bedroom some of my kids had when they were teenagers. Ah, but there’s no echo.

Saturday morning I was ready to roll. I set up tracks with the right settings. I did a few practice runs. I did better on the breathing so I didn’t sound like I was gasping at the start of each sentence. A couple of the tracks came out great, the others, not so great. I checked and found the problems in the settings.

So, on Sunday — I told you I’m persistent — I did new recordings and redid the unsatisfactory ones from the day before. I haven’t started the editing yet, but I can tell after listening, this will be a breeze compared to the first time I tried this.

And this round, I not only found I could read longer, I had done this so many times, I could recite parts of the short stories by heart, especially the start of Professor Groovy. “The sixties came just in time for Professor Edward Burke, who was meandering through middle age while everyone around him was fresh and young… ”

What else is a do-over these days? A Kindle Countdown. I tried one in May for Peace, Love, and You Know What, but got the dates mixed up so I wasn’t doing promotion until the end. Well, that was a waste, but a lesson learned.

But guess what? Another Kindle Countdown starts Wednesday, Aug. 24. The digital form of my 80,000-word novel goes on sale for 99 cents for two days — the same price as the Kindle version of Professor Groovy and Other Stories. Then, the price bumps up a buck in increments until it’s back to its normal price of $4.99 on Aug. 31. Here’s the link: Peace, Love, and You Know What

No, I don’t make a lot of money on this. But my goal is to attract readers.

Thirdly, an update on another do-over: reading my novel The Sweet Spot backwards. It is slower-going than reading it forwards, but I highly recommend it. I find that I concentrate simply on the words in that paragraph and not the plot. I am pleased at what I’ve found so far, not a lot of changes, but significant ones.

Lastly, another reading of Peace, Love, and You Know What is in the works for Sept. 17 at Brodsky Bookshop in Taos. My friend Andrew is playing The Beatles on his bassoon and, yes, there will be brownies. More later …

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: I snapped this shot of Mexican hat flowers growing in the front yard. They grow wild here.

 

Standard
purple sage
books, Rewriting, The Sweet Spot, Writing

Reading Backwards

I pulled the manuscript for The Sweet Spot from its envelope to read yet again. This time I am doing it backwards.

I read about this technique on the internet, where else, and once I realized it meant reading backwards paragraph by paragraph, and not word by word, I thought it was worth the try.

No matter how much I edit and proof copy, especially an 80,000-word novel, I find stuff I should have caught. I might feel a tiny bit reassured when I read other books — including those published by university presses — that have typos. But that’s not reassurance enough for me.

Plus, I hate making more work for Michelle, who designs my books. The Sweet Spot, one of my hill town books, is the next on her list.

Amazingly I found reading backwards a rather easy and useful process. Instead of focusing on the story line and characters, I concentrate simply on one paragraph at the time. It’s a manageable approach, and in the process, I’ve found a missing article or two, and other stuff. Here’s one: Edie stops to buy food on the way to one of the book’s most crucial scenes — when she goes to reason with a distraught Walker, her ex-lover. It’s important she stops to buy food because she learns an important piece of info from the clerk. But I don’t mention the food again. Did Edie bring the food to Walker’s cabin? Did she leave it in the car? Maybe she should only stop at the store for directions and maybe a drink for herself. It’s a matter of a dropped detail.

I’ve written before that I read my manuscripts aloud, more than once. This round of copyediting, I am reading The Sweet Spot backwards and out loud. It is a slower process than reading the usual way so I only do several pages at a time. And, yes, I have my red pen handy.

AN UPDATE ON THE AUDIO BOOK: I am a bit frustrated by my efforts to record Professor Groovy and Other Stories. It has consumed many of my waking hours and I am unhappy still. So, I decided to put it aside until the weekend and take a good hard listen then. I’m not giving up, but a break is in order.

THANK YOU: I appreciate all who have bought and read my books. Here are the links to them on Amazon: Peace, Love, and You Know What and Professor Groovy and Other Stories

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: Blooming Russian sage is a hotspot for bees on our little piece of the earth.

Standard
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.

 

 

Standard