Category - Random Stuff

These posts may or may not have anything to do with my novels. These are just random posts about other stuff that happens in the day-to-day life of me

1
Irish Lamb Stew for St. Patrick’s Day or Spring Equinox
2
EASY Homemade Chocolates just in time for Imbolc or Valentine’s Day!
3
Lambda Literary Announces $1 Million Gift from Author and Philanthropist Chuck Forester
4
The Smashwords Interview with Rue
5
Ever Feel Like You Are One Dumbass Away From Completely Losing It?
6
Writer’s Process Blog Hop
7
The Day I Was Barry Gibb

Irish Lamb Stew for St. Patrick’s Day or Spring Equinox

must-read-author-shares-cooking-tips

Take a deep breath, YOU can make this stew. It is quite simple, it just takes time — about two and a half hours prep and about 90 minutes of cooking time (See my TIPS for time-saving secrets!). This is a great opportunity to enlist a kitchen helper. You can prep all the veg while your helper cubes and browns the lamb. Even if you’re not a fan of lamb, this flavor is amazing and worth the effort. I serve this with crusty bread and a BIG spoon. If you’d rather watch the video – CLICK HERE.

Here’s the RECIPE:

best-author-shows-favorite-recipes2 lbs Boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
(I use leg of lamb and throw the bone into the stew for extra flavor)
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Ground black pepper
1/2 cup Flour
1/4 cup Butter (I use a combo of butter and grapeseed oil)
2 cups Water (I use a combo of water and chicken stock)
8 oz. can Tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, chopped (I use at least 4 Tbsp.)
best-selling-author-shows-cooking-tips2 Teaspoons Fresh Thyme, stripped from the stem (I use at least 3 tsp.; use less if using dried)
(I’m crazy for spices!)
6 Carrots peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths (I use a bag of peeled/washed baby carrots)
1/2 lb Pearl Onions, peeled (you can buy these frozen and pre-peeled – or see the SECRET below)
3 cups Turnips, peeled and cubed (approx. 2 large)
12 New potatoes, small – with a strip peeled around the middle (12 – HAH! I add way more potatoes)
1 package (10 oz.) frozen Peas (I leave these on the counter while prepping, so they thaw)
OPTIONAL – 2 teaspoons fresh mint, finely chopped

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS FOR THICKENING GRAVY
1/4 to 1 cup water (or stock)
3 Tablespoons Flour

DIRECTIONS:

  • best-romance-author-cooks-stewOnce your kitchen helper finishes cubing the meat, it’s time to coat and brown. Take a large plastic bag (ziploc) and mix the salt, pepper and flour. Toss in the lamb chunks about 10 at a time and shake to coat. Meanwhile heat the butter and/or oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. When the pot is hot, brown the lamb about 10 pieces at a time. When each batch of meat is browned remove to a plate. Repeat until all meat is browned; set plate aside.
  • best-selling-author-teaches-cookingWhen all lamb is browned I take a minute to deglaze the pan with a little red wine. Which simply means – pour a 1/2 cup (or so) of red wine into the hot pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape the delicious browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Then you can return all of lamb to the pan and add 2 cups of water (or stock), tomato sauce, parsley, thyme – salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, slowly simmer in a covered pot until lamb is tender — about 45 minutes.
  • Add carrots and turnips and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  • favorite-author-loves-potatoesAdd pearl onions, and potatoes and simmer for another 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender when pricked with a fork.
  • To add or thicken the gravy, take a small bowl and add cold water and flour; mix until smooth. Stir into stew and bring stew to a boil, again.
  • Add the frozen peas (reduce heat) and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Makes approx. 6 servings

  • Serve with some crusty bread or a biscuit
the best irish lamb stew

A hearty and delicious meal!

SECRET TO PEELING PEARL ONIONS:

  • cooking-tips-from-best-authorPrepare and ice bath (bowl of water and ice)
  • Boil a small pan of water.
  • Drop the pearl onions into the boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute (max).
  • Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to an ice bath.
  • best-selling-author-cooking-tipsWith a paring knife, cut off the root end and pinch the skin at the opposite end.
  • best-romance-author-cooks-with-youThe perfect little pearl onion should pop right out.
  • Here’s a link if you prefer a video: Peeling Pearl Onions

TIPS:

  • You can prep all the veg while the lamb simmers (this will save about 45 min).
  • Use fresh herbs, if you can.
  • Add 2 teaspoons of finely chopped fresh mint when you add the frozen peas. It’s a nice twist on the flavor.
  • Don’t rush :-) the process and the smells are part of the fun!

Good luck!

Email me pics of your St. Patty’s or Ostara celebrations!!

EASY Homemade Chocolates just in time for Imbolc or Valentine’s Day!

I promise, YOU can make these truffles. They are CRAZY delicious and easy to customize (I’ll list my secrets!). I packaged mine in some inexpensive “fake book” boxes from Michael’s that I picked up on sale.
Your favorite author shows you the secret to handmade chocolatesBest novelist gives you secrets to delicious chocolate

Here’s the RECIPE:

12 oz semisweet chocolate pieces
1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
2 egg yolks
1 Tablespoon Butter (OPTIONAL)
(OK, I didn’t say they were lo-cal!)

DIRECTIONS:

  • Melt chocolate pieces in a double-boiler. (You can use a microwave – but mine tried to kill me on Friday, so I went old school)
  • Add Bailey’s and heavy cream. Whisk slowly and keep heat low. If it’s too hot the yolks will curdle in the next step.
  • Whisk in the yolks one at a time, mixture will thicken.
  • Whisk in the butter. (I skipped the butter and mine were fine, up to you)
  • Refrigerate 4-5 hours or overnight. (Overnight is best for the impatient, like me)
  • Scoop out with a small spoon (teaspoon or smaller), roll quickly in your palms to get a nice ball.

*This is messy, you will get chocolatey—so make them with someone you like to lick!

  • Finish with a roll in one of your toppings (List below)
  • Place in a Petit Four paper cup. (I use these because I got a pack at a garage sale, and they’re smaller than candy cups. I doubled this recipe and made 60 truffles!)
Best book to read and eat chocolates

Close up of the lime zest/chili power & the crushed peanut/Himalayan salt

TOPPINGS:
Use your imagination – Here’s what I tried:

  • Lime zest and chili powder – grate the lime peel onto a paper plate and spread it out. Sprinkle desired amount of chili powder evenly over the lime zest.
  • Pink Himalayan Salt – salt is SALTY, so use sparingly. I did I light dip on the tops only of my crushed peanut covered truffles.
  • Crumbled peanuts – you can smash up any kind of nut you like :-)
  • Cocoa Powder (the unsweetened kind or raw Cacao nib powder, if that’s your thing)
  • Powdered sugar – pretty granulated colored sugar is nice, too.
  • Indian (kinda chai-like) spice – I used cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, ginger and a little clove.
  • I also took some smoked habanero almonds and wrapped the truffle chocolate around them. YUM!

TIPS:

  • Get everything lined up before you start rolling the truffle balls in your hands.
  • Put all your topping options in little bowls or paper plates.
  • Line up all your paper petit four cups.
  • I used the re-usable silicon mini cups (similar to these) from Cost Plus World Market for the one’s I kept for the family – and I made those a little bigger!!
  • Work fast and put the chocolate mixture back in the fridge if it starts to go mushy on you!

Good luck!

Email me pics of your treats and I’ll post them on my FB page!!

Lambda Literary Announces $1 Million Gift from Author and Philanthropist Chuck Forester

Los Angeles, CA – Lambda Literary has received a major gift commitment of $1 million, the largest in the organization’s history, from Mr. Chuck Forester of San Francisco. The gift will be used to further the work of Lambda Literary on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer literature. The gift will also establish the “Forester Fellowship,” an annual, juried cash prize to a promising LGBTQ writer.

The gift was announced at a cocktail reception on Sunday, September 20th at Mr. Forester’s home in the Alamo Square neighborhood of San Francisco at which Mr. Forester, and Lambda Literary Executive Director, Tony Valenzuela, used the occasion to officially launch the Lambda Literary Legacy Circle, a planned giving program to which Mr. Forester’s $1 million gift served as the celebratory introduction. Acclaimed authors Kevin Sessums and Trebor Healey and poet Baruch Porras-Hernandez were on hand as featured guest readers at the reception.

“This transformational gift is an endowment in the long-term future of Lambda Literary’s industry-leading programs that serve LGBTQ readers, writers and publishers,” said Valenzuela. “The establishment of the Forester Fellowship will be an unprecedented professional boon for its annual winner that will allow the selected author financial security and uninterrupted time to finish their next book.”

The annual “Forester Fellowship” will be the largest cash prize in the world offered to LGBTQ writers and follows a series of other cash prizes that Lambda Literary already offers including the Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award and the Dr. James Duggins Outstanding Novelist Prize.

“I grew up in the 50s and homosexuality was so heinous a crime people were afraid to say the word, and it filled me with misconceptions about LGBT people and fears of being discovered as an adult,” said Mr. Forester.  “A novel by John Rechy about a drag queen and LA hustlers told me gay men were real people, and for the first time they were people like me with whom I could relate. I’d found a home–in literature. Years later, with the onset of AIDS/HIV, I turned to gay mentors who taught me how to process through words the incredible grief I felt as friends died around me every day and I lost my partner of eighteen years. Gay literature saved me twice, and I consider myself lucky to be here today, still reading and now as a novelist.”

Mr. Forester continued, “I can’t think of a better way of thanking the community for what its writers have given me than by providing a fellowship to a promising LGBT writer. I’ll be joining other generous donors who agree with me that our books tell us about who we are and where we come from as they celebrate our beautiful peculiarities.”

Chuck was born in Wisconsin and went to college at Dartmouth and graduate school at Penn followed by two years in the Peace Corp in Chile. He came out in San Francisco in 1972 and has been living with HIV since 1978. He’s been active in the LGBT community for decades, first as a board member and then chairman of the board of the Human Rights Campaign Fund (now the Human Rights Campaign). He also led a successful campaign that raised $3.2 million for what is today the James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center at the San Francisco Public Library, a first of its kind collection in a public institution that continues to serve a world-wide audience of readers and scholars. He has published a memoir Do You Live Around Here? and is currently working on a novel.

“Chuck has been a stalwart supporter of Lambda Literary for more than a decade and has worked as a close ally and advisor during our recent period of unprecedented growth,” said KG MacGregor, Lambda Literary’s Board President. “This gift signals Chuck’s strong belief in our mission and in the bright future of storytelling by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender authors.”

Lambda Literary is the world’s leading nonprofit organization that nurtures, celebrates, and preserves LGBTQ literature through programs that honor excellence, promote visibility, create community and encourage the development of emerging writers. Lambda’s respected programs include the Lambda Literary Awards, the Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices, the Lambda Literary Review web magazine, and LGBTQ Writers in Schools.

For more information about the Lambda Literary Legacy Circle planned giving program, contact Executive Director, Tony Valenzuela at tvalenzuela@lambdaliterary.org or (323) 643-4281.

# # #

Lambda Literary believes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer literature is fundamental to our culture, and that LGBTQ lives are affirmed when our stories are written, published and read. LL’s programs include: the Lambda Literary Awards, the Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices, LGBTQ Writers in Schools, and our web magazine, The Lambda Literary Review, at www.LambdaLiterary.org. For more information e-mail admin@lambdaliterary.org.

The Smashwords Interview with Rue

Everything you never knew you wanted to know about Rue!

You should see the shots that didn't make the cut! ;-) Photo by Michele Bradley - who actually did an amazing job with a VERY difficult subject.

You should see the shots that didn’t make the cut! ;-)
Photo by Michele Bradley – who actually did an amazing job with a VERY difficult subject.

Q: Describe your desk.

A: My desk is my altar. A section of trinkets, mementos and inspirational sayings, help encourage and motivate me as I write. A copy of a special invocation to the Goddess of Skills—is part of my ritual of relaxing into my writing space and focusing on the day’s project. I have my stack of notes, printouts, pictures and any other research pertaining to the current project on my right (and it sometimes spills onto my left). I cannot begin without a dish of peanuts or almonds and a dish of dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds. My office supply addiction requires a healthy supply of pens and a post it note dispenser—stocked with notes for posting. However, I would have to say that the things NOT on my desk are even more important. I do not have bills, To Do lists, business cards or my cell phone. My writing space is sacred, and when I sit down to write I have to minimize all potential distractions.

Q: Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?

A: I grew up everywhere—Minnesota, Kansas, Massachusetts, Georgia, California and finally Arizona. I sometimes even got to revisit places, in fact there were a few rounders in the Land of 10,000 Lakes (MN). I would have to say that the nomadic lifestyle was hell as a child, but looking back I can appreciate all the nuggets I was able to collect for future stories. The reason I write fiction is simply because my entire life has been crammed full of experiences that are just too amazing to be true. The characters I create all have threads pulled from real people I encountered in my travels—yes, every one.

Q: When did you first start writing?

A: I wrote my first manifesto at age three; a letter begging my grandfather to stop smoking; to the small pink piece of stationary, I taped two dimes and a nickel—his reward for quitting. The entreaty was successful and the power of the pen was instilled in my soul. Throughout my life I have written unceasingly; journals, poems, short stories, screenplays, and articles for newspapers and magazines. My love of ink led me to pursue a B.A. in Journalism from Pepperdine University in California. I also suffer from a slight obsession with office supplies—mostly pens and fine paper.

Q: What’s the story behind your latest book?

A: At the time of this answer my latest book is Book 2 in The Lake Effect Series, “My Favorite Second Chance.” The story of the Hutchinson sisters is close to my heart. I have two brothers and a sister—I love them all, but my sister and I have a deep connection that deserved to be memorialized in print (or “e”). Now, just to be clear, the story is a vehicle to explore the unbreakable bonds of a sibling relationship in the face of serious family drama—but it is not “about” my sister or my family. I drew on decades of school, work and uncomfortable church-related interactions to create the characters in The Lake Effect Series.

Q: What motivated you to become an indie author?

A: I was motivated to become an indie author because I love challenges. I started my own publishing company and forged ahead. I learned most of my publishing lessons the hard way, but I am also grateful to those who came before me and were kind enough to throw out a proverbial breadcrumb here or there. I write five to six days a week and I love it. I am not crazy about marketing, but I am told it is a necessary evil. :-) I plan to pay it forward whenever I can and to share the knowledge I glean along the way.

Q: What do your fans mean to you?

A: Fan = Reader.
Fans are the most important part of the entire process! If no ones reads (and enjoys) my books then the process would be far less rewarding. One of the best parts of writing about the characters in my head is to hear from a reader who enjoyed the book. I could write a stack of novels and put them on a shelf—but that’s not really the point. I want to share all these stories with other people. For someone to be called a “fan” I think that means that they would have to love the work and look forward to future novels I write—that is priceless.

Q: What are you working on next?

A: At the time of this answer I am approximately half way finished with Book 3 in The Lake Effect Series, “Finally My Favorite.” The next two projects on the slate are a standalone YA novel and an illustrated children’s book.

Q: Who are your favorite authors?

A: I love writing, but working on “My Favorite Second Chance” did come with some moments of “freak out.” Reading helps me escape from reality and relieves stress, and with a teenager running around…I need relief! Books are my best friends!

Here are my all-time favorites:

10. Steven Pressfield

9. Sara Gruen

8. Michael Chabon

7. Gregory Maguire

6. Colette

5. Clarissa Pinkola-Estes

4. Yann Martel

3. J. R. R. Tolkien

2. Marian Keyes

1. Juliet Marillier

This list would be different if you asked me tomorrow. There are always new authors joining the fray, and I know working on the third book in The Lake Effect Series will have its share of ups and downs. Read! Read! Read!

Q: What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

A: Nothing. I hate getting out of bed. I am the human equivalent of Garfield. I hate mornings. Coffee is my avenging angel.

Q: When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

A: I cook to relieve stress, and then I eat to forget about the stress I was trying to relieve. I also love movies, television and reading. I’m an old school book reader. I have an eReader, but I don’t love it. I like the smell and feel of a solid, page-filled book in my hands.

Q: Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

A: Yes, it was a sad tale of a young girl hell bent on running away from home and going to the same school for two or three whole years. Tragically that epic piece of fiction was lost in one of my family’s MANY moves.

Ever Feel Like You Are One Dumbass Away From Completely Losing It?

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.”

Shocking.

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.”

Again, shocking.

I think I was only one quarter of a dumbass away from completely losing it—on this day.

Writer’s Process Blog Hop

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.

NEXT WEEK:
The Blog Hop Continues…

Next Monday, check out Faith Andrews for a behind-the-scenes look at her writing processes!

The Day I Was Barry Gibb

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.

Poor-man's suit - for 8th Grade Promotion Dance.

Poor-man’s suite – for 8th Grade Promotion Dance.

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.

The struttin' shoes!

The struttin’ shoes!

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.

My Day As Barry Gibb

Stayin’ Alive!

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.

barry-gibb-mythology-tour-june-2014-hollywood-bowlCheers and screams erupted as the man of the night; Mr. Barry Gibb took the stage. The familiar notes of Jive Talkin’ poured out of the speakers and the crowd went nuts.

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.”

So awesome.

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.

stephen-gibb-mythology-tour-hollywood-bowl-june-2014-VIP

Stephen Gibb signing my LP. (Pardon the poorly lit pic – but Mom was so excited for me that she forgot to turn on her flash!)

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 ****!”

“What? Seriously?”

“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.”

“Got it.”

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.

We’re in.

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).

 

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