Thank you to Sparkle Book Tours for organizing and executing a wonderful
Cover Reveal on November 5, 2014.
Thank you to Sparkle Book Tours for organizing and executing a wonderful
Cover Reveal on November 5, 2014.
The moment when you finish writing a book is transcendent. It only lasts a split second, but for that second all is right with the world. A tsunami of self-doubt and an avalanche of second-guessing immediately follow this feeling of perfection.
If you can project yourself into that frame of mind, you might also be able to imagine that it would be a bad time to encounter incompetence. In that fragile state of mind I am sure you would prefer interacting with people who take pride in their job, people who go the extra mile—people who know their ass from a hole in the ground.
I was not so fortunate.
After finishing the manuscript for “My Favorite Second Chance,” Book 2 in The Lake Effect Series, I had the terrible misfortune of encountering a few people who fell a good distance below the “A” for effort bar.
I am admittedly old-school when it comes to galleys for my beta readers. I must have hard copies. I do. Yes, it is archaic, but it is a fact. I like paper and red pens. This disorder requires me to utilize a copy center to duplicate and bind the manuscripts for delivery.
Gone are the days of pride in workmanship. If you were hired simply because you were the only one that passed the drug test—that does not inspire great confidence.
I walk in with my original manuscript. I am anxious, sweaty and suspicious. It is more stressful than leaving my firstborn at daycare for the first time. (Mommy loves you sweetie, I’m just saying it is difficult.)
Problem Number 1: Long line. The person at the front of the line is someone I don’t want to talk to right now. I have to busy myself with other items to avoid detection.
Problem Number 2: The copy clerk cannot perform mathematical calculations. I have 303 single-sided originals that I want copied to double-sided and spiral bound. (I know, but I like it!)
“My largest binding only takes 200 pages.”
“Yes. There are 303 copied to roughly 152. It will fit.”
Long pause. “It will be tight.”
“But it will fit.”
Problem Number 3: I purchased red pens and 10×13 envelopes, for the reader packets. The problem occurred at checkout. Please keep in mind I am purchasing two items, I am anxious and I do not want to make a new friend.
“Did you find everything OK?”
I would like to reply that if I did not find everything “OK” I would be asking how to locate the missing item, NOT checking out. I persevere toward courtesy. “Yes, thank you.”
Helpful checkout clerk, with strange hair ties, looks out the front window of the store. “Oh pick that up. Did you see that? His dog did his business right there and he didn’t clean it up.”
Alert the media. I definitely want to see fresh dog poop right now. I hold my tongue and ready my debit card for swiping.
“Not yet, I have to get all this in there first.”
All TWO of my items? How will you manage? I remain silent.
The machine displays the phrase, “Slide Card.”
“You can slide your card now.”
Now? Are you sure? If only I could read. Still keeping it all in my head.
Somehow I exit without murdering a single soul.
I return at the appointed time to collect my copy order.
Problem Number 4: The project is not ready. Let’s review the process. Lay pages in tray, press single-sided to double-sided picture, enter number of copies and press “Start.” Walk away. Apparently there was some grave error in the copying process and the middle section did not get copied double-sided and now the pages will not fit in the binding.
“She told you it would be tight, right?”
“Yes.” Seething venom boils in my veins.
“Can you come back in an hour, right before closing?”
“Of course. I do need them today.”
Now I am imagining an entire black market manuscript duplication ring. They are purposely delaying the project so they can make extra copies to send to their Book Dealer. I am physically sick to my stomach.
I return home and avoid sharp objects.
The alarm beeps and I race to the car to return to the scene of my torment.
“Oh, thanks for coming back.”
Did he somehow imagine, after our previous conversation, I would NOT come back?
“We have those books ready for you right here.”
He retrieves what can only be described as a large Happy Meal box, and deposits it on the counter.
I have to ask, “What happened to the pages that were copied incorrectly, the one-sided pages?”
“Oh we shredded those. It was easier to re-copy them.”
Doubt tugs at my heart. I wonder if the Book Dealer is watching me. “Oh good.”
The clerk extracts one book. “There, all double-sided. And it fit much better, too.”
He rings up my order, does not tell me to slide my card and I figure out how to pay—all by myself.
I open the Happy Meal box and I do not see my original manuscript. Panic seizes my brain. “Where is the original?”
“I think we were binding the original.”
“No. The original was one-sided, so that doesn’t make any SENSE.”
He searches the counters while I mentally restrain myself from leaping over the barrier and up-ending every trashcan in the copy center.
“Oh, here it is. She left it by the copy machine.”
I think I was only one quarter of a dumbass away from completely losing it—on this day.
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Welcome to another installment of the Writing Process Blog Hop! In case you don’t know, authors have been answering these same four questions about their writing process, and tagging others to play along. I was tagged by romance goddess Terri Osburn.
1. What am I working on right now?
I am happily working on the second book in my Lake Effect series which will start releasing in 2015. The series continues to call Duluth, Minnesota home of the Hutchinson girls, but this volume will bring readers on an adventure that promises to include Mexico, Germany and even California!
2. How does my work differ from others in the genre?
There are so many talented writers and wonderful stories. It is a fantastic time to be a writer. One of the differences in my style of writing is the “journey.” My characters always end up traveling! I love to take small town characters and throw them into vastly different worlds. The change of geography always gives the character the opportunity to discover something new about herself.
I love humor and I think a lot of people use humor in their daily lives (to make friends, to cope with stress and sometimes to keep people at a distance). My novels will always contain humor.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I am well aware that a multitude of prejudice exists “It’s Not My Favorite” is my favorite for a number of reasons, but the most important one is its portrayal of the lesbian characters. There are two main characters, sisters, one gay and one straight. The beauty of the story is that it portrays them both with the same normal, human qualities. They both struggle, they both have relationship dramas, they both have issues with their parents and they both find a piece of success. I hope that the book will bridge the gap between LGBTQ romance/humor and Contemporary romance/humor. Rather than targeting LGBTQ, specifically, I feel this series can slip into the mainstream and allow a far wider audience to experience a character they might normally miss.
4. How does my writing process work?
I have to have a little dish of snacks near my laptop at all times. Current obsession is dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds. Aside from the necessity of convenient “fuel,” I follow some Steps.
Step 1: I refuse to acknowledge the existence of the thing called writer’s block.
Step 2: I complete my research before I start writing, so I have the information I need at my fingertips.
Step 3: I complete my outline before I start writing, so I have a place to go if I start to lose my way. The outline begins as a series of 3 x 5 cards that I post on a big board. Once I feel like all the pieces are there, I can move the cards around to get the flow of the story. The outline is the “flow chart.”
Step 4: This is the most important Step. I create my writing schedule, I post it on my office door (for accountability) and I sit down and write every day. This is my favorite step. Finally the characters that have been bouncing around in my head get their chance to speak. They have a tendency to throw me an occasional curve ball — but that’s part of the excitement.
Everyone has their own magic formula – this is just the one that works for me.
The Blog Hop Continues…
Next Monday, check out Faith Andrews for a behind-the-scenes look at her writing processes!
Live theatrical event! One-man show!
‘I Sing Walt Whitman’ starring John Slade takes the stage at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre on Tuesday, July 29
Using a great writer’s own words in the tradition of Hal Holbrook’s “Mark Twain Tonight!” and Julie Harris as Emily Dickinson in “Belle of Amherst”, actor John Slade embodies another titan in American literature in “I Sing Walt Whitman!” The live, one-man show is coming to the Goldenstein Stage at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre for one performance only on Tuesday, July 29 at 7 p.m.
While Mark Twain was easily the funniest and Emily Dickinson the most enigmatic, Walt Whitman’s voice may well be the most inspiring. Whitman lived in an age even more politically and spiritually divided than our own. Yet even after witnessing the carnage of America’s civil war and the assassination of its greatest president, he never lost his optimism. Refreshingly free of the cynicism of our postmodern age, Whitman believed that “even a mouse is a miracle,” that love is the binding force of the Universe, and that human consciousness is “surely headed somewhere” and will only continue to evolve and awaken.
“I Sing Walt Whitman!” is part lecture, part stage show and part Chautauqua-tent revival meeting — where people can hear Brother Walt singing, chanting, and rapping his hopeful and startlingly modern world view. John’s script employs Whitman’s own delicious words to convey the poet’s hopeful message, and one of the unique features of this one-man concert play is that actor John Slade has actually set many of Whitman’s rolling verses to music!
Whitman called them his songs, and his poems recall the Songs of Solomon, gospel choirs, and the theatrical Italian operas that he loved. A century before Carl Sagan, Ken Wilber, and Barbara Marx-Hubbard, Walt Whitman was already teaching us to see the world through “evolutionary eyes.”
John Slade has a theatre arts professional for over 40 years. As a student at the University of Michigan, he wrote plays under the tutelage of Arthur Miller’s mentor, Dr. Kenneth Rowe, and four of his plays won national writing awards. With classmate Gilda Radner, he founded the East Bound Mound, a “floating repertory company” which juxtaposed drama, comedy and music and was, according to Radner, a forerunner of Saturday Night Live. He later graduated with high honors from the USC School of Theatre, received his teaching credential in English from LAUSD, and his masters in theatre education from Northern Colorado University.
By age 23 he was Artistic Director of the Gristmill Playhouse, a professional stock company in Andover, New Jersey, and was resident actor at Baltimore Center Stage. Since moving west, he has acted at theatres throughout Southern California, including the title role in Shakespeare’s King John, which won Dramalogue, Drama Circle and L.A. Weekly awards, and Satan in Vaclav Havel’s retelling of Faust, Temptation, at the Mark Taper Forum. He has twice played the redoubtable King Lear; Friar in Romeo and Juliet, Cassius in Julius Caesar and Prospero in the rock-and-roll Tempest parody, Return to the Forbidden Planet. He also played Clive Bell in Catherine Ann Jones’ On the Edge: The Last Days of Virginia Woolf at Theatre 150, and Scanlon in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at the Rubicon Theater. In addition to numerous guest star roles on network television during the era of “Hill Street Blues” and “L.A. Law,” John has acted in such films as Slam Dance, Titanic and L.A. Confidential.
There will be one performance of “I Sing Walt Whitman!” on Tuesday, July 29 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 general admission and $13 for Film Festival members and students. All tickets include a meet-and-greet with John Slade as Walt Whitman in the lobby after the show.
Visit www.SedonaFilmFestival.org for tickets and performance information or call 928-282-1177. Both the Sedona International Film Festival Office and the Mary D. Fisher Theatre are located at 2030 W. SR 89A in West Sedona.
CAUTION! This review does contain spoilers.
By Morgan Gilbert
When I heard the first falsetto notes of the Brother’s Gibb electrifying the screen in Saturday Night Fever—I was hooked.
I had been born in the wrong decade. I was meant to be alive in the 70s, and I made it my mission to recreate my 21st century in disco balls, bell-bottoms and muscle cars.
I already owned a 1972 Ford Custom 500, so my subconscious had clearly been aware of my true destiny long before I saw the watershed disco movie. I needed more. I needed to feed the disco inferno in my soul.
I wore a 70s costume to school for my eighth grade Halloween. I ended up teaching most of the school how to do the Hustle out on the foursquare court. I progressed to piecing together a poor-man’s Saturday Night Fever suit for the eighth grade promotion dance. I watched hours of YouTube videos and learned the entire John Travolta solo dance from the movie. I performed it in the middle of the dance floor, surrounded by a cheering crowd—my fate was decided.
When I hit the ninth grade I instituted Retro Wednesdays and wore 70s clothes to school each week. Turns out I was the only participant in my invented “day,” but that didn’t stop me.
I soon realized I would need to expand my 70s wardrobe if I was going to keep up the Wednesday tradition throughout my high school tenure. I trolled second-hand clothing stores and sent out a call for help to my immediate family.
Slowly I built an impressive fashion collection, and as word spread of my obsession other people were pulled into my world. My boss, a big dance sensation in New York in the 70s, had a fabulous pair of white, patent leather, platform shoes which he gifted to me.
My mom made me a pair of purple polyester bell-bottoms with huge, wide bells! They were awesome, but the amazing, all-white, Bee Gees suit eluded me. When I heard that Barry Gibb was going to tour, I knew I had to be there and I had to be in the suit.
Mom worked on getting tickets and my grandma stepped up and took on the task of making the suit. We searched eBay for vintage patterns and she hit the garment district in Los Angeles to find the perfect fabric.
My dream was becoming reality.
I was lucky enough to get tickets to see the Mythology Tour at the Hollywood Bowl in June—my 17th birthday present.
Suit construction began in February and my grandma sent photo updates from her sewing room. Each image fit into the unfolding mosaic in my mind—screaming to be completed. The buzz of anticipation spread through every inch of my body. I just needed the final piece.
At long last, June arrive. Roadtrip! Off to California to see my amazing suit and, of course, my grandma—the seamstress.
She opened the closet door and extracted the holy grail. My eyes glazed over; the suit emanated a light all its own. A portal to another dimension. I knew that when I put on that suit I would be the 70s. Finally, the last piece fell into place.
My mom worked on my enormous white-boy fro for over two hours. Applying tons of product, blow-drying sections and slowly shaping it into that flowing, feathered masterpiece that was the Barry Gibb signature coiffe.
I unwrapped the suit from the plastic and pulled on the flared-to-perfection pants. A strange panic seized my chest. I forgot the shirt! Shit! I forgot the shirt! “Mom!”
Mom and grandma raced off to the thrift store, 30 minutes before our scheduled departure, and returned 20 minutes later with a white, wide-collared shirt. Had I actually been holding my breath for 20 minutes? I slipped my feet into the white platforms and could not keep the smile on my face from touching my heart.
Dressed in the suit I had dreamed of for years, I picked up my Bee Gees Greatest Hits LP and walked, no—strutted out the door.
We opted for the shuttle and parked in the garage at Hollywood and Highland. As we walked from the parking structure to the bus pick-up I passed a group of high school girls. I overheard one girl say, “That is the best picture I got all day.” I smiled. The 70s are alive and well!
I walked onto the bus and a murmur passed through the crowd like a dirty secret at a prayer meeting. These people were my people—they loved the 70s and they had made the effort to get off their asses and come to see the last living member of, arguably, the greatest group of that decade.
Everyone stared. No one spoke. Finally, one brave soul asked the question that was on everyone’s lips, “Can I take your picture?” And so it begins.
By the time we arrived at the Hollywood Bowl I had posed for several pictures and answered a battery of questions about my suit, hair, shoes and album.
I stepped off the shuttle bus, continuing to strut my way through the turnstiles and into the Hollywood Bowl. Cheers, whoots and applause followed me all the way to my seat.
I honestly had no idea that my desire to pay homage to the Bee Gees and their unforgettable white suits would lead to this night. Wow.
I was super pumped and therefore needed a trip to the restroom before the show started. I didn’t make it back to my seat for 30 minutes! Everyone I passed wanted a picture. I missed half of the opening act, Jared & Mill.
During a short break the crew reset the stage. The sun sank behind the Hollywood hills and the lights came up in the amphitheater. I held my breath, again.
I danced in my seat, still clutching the treasured LP I hoped to get autographed after the concert. Mom sensed my excitement.
“Why don’t you hand me that thing so you can dance?” She took the album and I continued to seat dance.
The next song hit my eardrums and I was possessed. “I can’t take it anymore,” I announced. I got out of my seat and headed straight down to the wide cement walkway and busted out my best 70s moves. I had the Fever. Concertgoers raised their cellphone lights and illuminated my makeshift dance floor. I was lost in the moment, dancing like I was alone in my room. I “hustled” until the very last note of You Should be Dancing faded.
The tributes to Maurice, Robin and Andy were a genuine honor to witness—an amazing concert. The inclusion of Barry’s son, Stephen, and his niece, Samantha, gave the entire night a wonderful “family reunion” vibe.
I felt the night slipping away and I was desperate to keep the moment alive. I walked down and talked to one of the security guards, in hopes of getting information about the possibility of an autograph.
He told me my best bet was to wait outside the VIP room. Done.
We only had 25 minutes to get back to the shuttle after the concert ended and get our ride back to the parking structure in Hollywood. I waited by the VIP door, hoping for a miracle.
“Mom, are you watching the clock?”
“Sweetie, this is what we’re doing. If we have to call a taxi or walk all the way back, then we will. Don’t worry about it, we’re here—we’re staying.”
The night wore on and Mr. Gibb did not appear. Several other folks were waiting, too. They all took pictures with me—mostly because I was the next best thing to the real thing, at that point.
Eventually the security guys started their final push to get us all out of the Bowl, so they could close up.
Mom strategically moved us over near a large group queueing up for a private shuttle and we crossed all our fingers and toes—which is difficult in platforms!
The VIPs were leaving. Alan Thicke, Olivia Newton-John, the producer of American Idol, and more, rolled by with that special glitterati glow. Some would avert their gaze and ignore us completely. A few gave us a smile or a “thumbs up.”
Suddenly one of the VIPs walked over and tapped me on the shoulder.
“Do you want to go in?”
I could not breathe. Was she serious? “Yeah! I drove all the way from Arizona. I’ve been waiting…”
“Here.” I looked down and saw the golden ticket right there in her hand. An actual VIP pass—the elusive credentials that had kept me on the outside all night.
“You should be in there,” she said.
The angel-woman’s boyfriend handed my mom his pass. I think my mom may have hugged them. They disappeared into the night. I was going inside the VIP room.
I will leave out the embarrassing details about who may or may not have shed tears of joy at this point in the evening. But whoever it was, dried his or her tears and strutted past the velvet rope.
We flashed our credentials to the security guard and he actually smiled as he waved us through.
I barely made it into the room; a pack of cougars hit me like an injured deer in the forest. A quick scan told me these could easily be some of the original groupies that followed the Bee Gees in the 70s. My three-piece, white suit was like catnip.
Their leader, Sandy, (name changed to protect the not-so-innocent) grabbed me and escorted me over to meet Stephen Gibb. I had never heard him sing before this night, and I really dug his gravelly voice and rocker guitar licks.
I showed him my Bee Gees vinyl and he autographed it for me.
“I don’t want to sign on my dad’s face, seems kinda sacrilegious,” he quipped as he signed the back panel.
Next stop was Sammy, Maurice’s daughter. She also had a great voice and a fantastic stage presence. She signed my album, too.
Sandy introduced me to the Mythology Tour band members. I met guitar players, bass players, the drummer—it was amazing. Somewhere along the line I lost my mom. She’s not super social. Turns out she had struck up a conversation with one of the Grammy and Emmy award-winning guitar players.
She was having a great time chatting with this guy when one of the other band members came over and ask if she was going to the ****, afterwards (location redacted to protect the guilty).
My mom is pretty sharp. She realized we had just been inadvertently invited to the AFTER after party.
“Oh, I don’t know. I’ll have to check with Morgan.” She played it super cool and then slipped off to tell me the news.
“Dude, we just got invited to the AFTER after party at the ****!”
“Yeah. It’s at an actual Hollywood bar. Can you pull that off?”
My 16-year-old brain skipped over reality and immediately answered, “Let’s do it.”
The security guys hit the VIP room, and intent on clearing out the stragglers—one of them shouted rudely at me, but to be fair it was after midnight.
When we got outside the Bowl there was one lone shuttle—filled with all the security personnel. Oh, serendipity you do have a sense of humor.
We got on the bus and the security guys trickled on, one and two at a time.
“You are workin’ that suit brother.” Enormous stoic, black guy nodded in my direction.
“Can I get a picture?” The guard from the VIP door asked.
I chuckled to myself and jumped up, threw my hip to the side and my disco finger in the air. Several pics later the bus dropped us back at the Hollywood and Highland parking garage.
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Why not?” I was floating on the high of this amazing night and I figured I had nothing to lose.
Mom typed the location into her phone and started the car. “OK, this is a real bar. When we get there, you just walk in like you know what you’re doing and don’t stop.”
We parked on the street and put on our game faces. I got three confident struts inside the door—
“Stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive, Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive…,” some black guy with long braids, super chill clothes and a crew, jumped up and burst into song.
“Walk to him. Walk to him,” Mom whispered fiercely behind me.
He jumped up and fist-bumped me. “Mad props on the suit, man. Mad props!” A couple other guys from his crew followed suit and fist-bumps were exchanged. I looked over and the first guy was giving Mom a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.
One of the Gibb band guys caught sight of us. “Morgan. You made it!” I kept thinking it was all a dream and I would wake up in an alley in Hollywood with a nasty bump on my head and no white, patent leather, platform shoes.
As I walked away the serenade guy yelled, “Oh no you’re not doin’ the walk, honky!”
“It’s the shoes,” Mom informed him. “You have to walk like that, in the shoes.”
He smacked one of his buddies in the arm. “It’s the shoes, bro. It’s the shoes.” His announcement incited uproarious laughter.
I saw Sandy, and she gave me another big hug. She was turning out to be pretty damn awesome. She walked me around again, I said hello to Stephen Gibb and she introduced me to more of the band members. I even got to chill with Dave Navarro from Jane’s Addiction.
We rolled out of there about 2:30 a.m. on what will forever be one of the best nights of my life.
The only thing that could top it, would be to meet Sir Barry Gibb, himself. I added the “Sir” because that’s just how I feel about him, and his brothers (rest their souls).
Hooray! The eBook is live on Amazon. Special MatchBook pricing for anyone who previously purchased the paperback!
Just click this link and start reading – in minutes!
The release of the eBook is just a few days away! The conversion went pretty smoothly and the wonderful file will be ready to upload by the end of the week…if not sooner.
Marcus Blakeston did a fantastic job on the conversion, and working with him was a pleasure.
I will let you all know when the eBook is LIVE!
Copyright © 2015. Sittin' On A Goldmine Productions L.L.C.