Saturday, November 29, 2008


Fiction Outtake: Cranberries (The Early Days)

Patterson didn't mind that they'd left early. The after-dinner entertainment had been the same for years now: the men gathered around the television, the women in the kitchen, cleaning up and gossiping, the kids who were too young to do either dispersing to the basement or another round of football in the yard.

Mitchell, for all his love of baseball, loathed watching football. And Trevor's lewd comments about the sport had been immediately unwelcome.

Frankly, Patterson had been glad to have an excuse to leave. He wasn't much of a football lover, himself, and family togetherness had its limits when there was so much in your life you couldn't discuss.

He pulled the Bronco into its spot on the side of the driveway and sat for a moment. Trevor, in the back seat, had gotten awfully quiet. Too quiet.

Mitchell, beside him, hopped out of the Bronco like he didn't have a care in the world. Like leaving early wasn't a big deal. To the boy, it probably hadn't been. Spending the day with the family had been okay at first, with the annual flag football game and the cousins to catch up with. But if you kept Mitchell away from his guitar too long, he started to get twitchy. Once that happened, the cousins decided he was weird. Adding Trevor to the mix hadn't helped, but leaving that one at home had never crossed Patterson's mind. Trevor was part of the family now, no matter how hard he worked at reminding them all that he wasn't.

Trevor followed Mitchell out of the Bronco, but didn't wait by the back door with the younger boy. Instead, Trevor stared at the sky.

"Did you ever wonder," he said to Patterson, his face turned upward.

"I wondered what's bothering you tonight."

Trevor shoved his hands into the pockets of the leather vest he'd consented to wear over his denim jacket. He hunched his shoulders.

Patterson had a few guesses. But it was best if the boy talked without prompts.

Suddenly, the hands were out of the pockets, the shoulders were down, and the boy had spun to face his guardian. "Do you have any fucking clue what it's like to watch that table get cleared and hear everyone laugh that everyone forgot about the cranberries and this and that and everything else? Do you have any fucking clue how lucky you are to even have a fucking family?"

"Yes," Patterson said. "And not just because this is a holiday of gratitude, either."

Mitchell wandered closer, but stayed safely behind Trevor.

"Do you know what my Thanksgivings used to be like?" Trevor went on, his face turning red in the starlight. "Do you know what we'd have for dinner?"

"No," Patterson said. "Tell me."

Trevor just shook his head, like the words wouldn't come. Mitchell sat down in the grass and folded his legs Indian-style. He began playing with his shoelaces.

Trevor pulled his cigarettes out of the chest pocket of the denim jacket. "Some years, it was us sitting around the table, watching him drink a bottle of JD. One year, he beat Mom with the bird she'd brought home and then made her cook it and stood there while we ate it. I puked it back up about an hour later." He snorted. "And don't forget the year there was no food because Mom couldn't get a hold of his paycheck and he stole hers and drank 'em both."

Mitchell shook his head and visibly swallowed. Patterson just listened. He'd been witness to scenes like this, although not at the Wolff household. It didn't matter; the tragedy was still the same. The fact that he'd been able to make a difference in this young man's life couldn't even begin to make up for the families he hadn't been able to help so directly.

"Happy fucking birthday, Trevor," Trevor said, sniffing hard and rubbing at his eyes with the sleeve of his denim jacket. "They usually forgot. And there's the Voss family," he said, gesturing expansively, "with a birthday cake and apologies for being a week late."

Patterson looked at Mitchell; he felt the boy watching him. He'd managed to shelter Mitchell from the worst of Trevor's stories; this couldn't be easy.

Mitchell was imploring his father to make it stop. To help him know what to say or do.

Patterson pursed his lips and gave the barest shake to his head.

"And all that fucking food that everyone forgot to eat," Trevor said.

"We didn't forget," Mitchell said. "No one likes the cranberries. So Aunt Paula leaves 'em on the table because we're supposed to have cranberries. She's probably shoving them back in the container she uses every year, and she'll throw it in the freezer until next year. They'll make it to the table, probably still frozen, and then when we clear, everyone will joke about forgetting to eat them when the truth is, no one wants 'em."

"Think that's funny?" Trevor whirled and bent over to look at Mitchell, who shrugged.

"I think cranberries are okay," Mitchell said.

Patterson had to bite his lip to keep from smiling.

Trevor cocked his head, considering.

Mitchell started pulling at the grass.

"So you're saying I'm a cranberry?" Trevor asked at last.

Mitchell made a sound sort of like one of Trevor's indignant snorts. "No," the boy said. "You're an ass who's keeping me from my guitar. C'mon. Let's go make music."

Patterson moved to unlock the front door, wondering if a parent could be more proud of his son. It wasn't likely.

Want to know more about who these folk are? All the info you need is at West of Mars. Go check it out.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Susan Speaks: I Need (another) New Chest

If you turned all these blog awards into medals and pinned them on me, I'm short enough to be all covered up by them. Possibly head to toe by this point.

Guess you guys agree that the medals are better looking than I am (You think I forgot to put my picture on The Demo Tapes?) 'cause I've got a heap more to acknowledge.

Maybe a mountain is more like it.

Let's start with the always awesome Alice Audrey. Don't let Chelle get a look at this award; we all know how she is with typos.

The award is the Kreativ Blogger award and misspelled or not, this still makes me smile. I'm doing my best to be creative and make this blog into something so totally unique, you can't stop talking about it. Seems my efforts are paying off.

I've missed my old friend Marcia at MeeAugraphie. And crumb, but I can't find the post that gave me something or other. But go visit Marcia. She's amazing.

Another new friend is Daisy Bookworm. Again, I found her through EntreCard. I've been finding more than just increased hits and rankings via EntreCard. I've found a whole slew of cool folk. Daisy's a great example of the quality blogger I wouldn't have found otherwise. She's given me the I Love Your Blog Award.

(Trevor's telling me to remind you to use protection when you love my blog... I think he doesn't want any more baby blogs running around. Win a Book takes up enough of my time as it is!)


Here is an award that came out of left field. Given who it came from, I'm truly, truly honored. I mean, there are published authors I've made friends with (Hello, Amy! Wylie! Shelley! Lisa! Christine!), and there are published authors who I really respect (Hello Lauren! Megan! Anya! Ann!) but am too intimidated by to have a friendship with them (yet), but LA Day falls somewhere between them. Not quite a friend yet not scary in her success, either. But highly, highly respected.

She also loves my blog. It's mutual, believe me. I want a sidebar full of book titles like LA Day has. I wouldn't mind the naked men on the book covers, either, but they'd have to all be Mitchell or Daniel. We love Trevor, but it ain't for that bod of his...

It began with Ann. Ann of Fractured Fiction, who I must have broken somehow because she hasn't been blogging regularly since we met at the Romantic Times Convention last year. Ann, can I fix you, please? I miss your posts!

Anyway, Ann gave me the Lemonade Stand. She gave it to Wylie, who also gave it to me.

So now I have two lemonade stands!

Is this because of Trevor's ability to make figurative lemonade out of anything? I don't know. All I know is that I'm immensely flattered.

Wylie gave it to Thomma Lyn, who turned around and gave it to ...


I swear, one of the best things about these awards is seeing the company you guys put me in. Sometimes, I get down and depressed. Most of you are publishing books and I'm not! Yet you don't care. You hold me up with the some of the best of the best of the blogging writers.

Ultimately, these are silly little awards, given to make each other feel good. I like that idea and that attitude; it's so nice to see this sort of kindness in a world that's often snarky and mean.

Yet it's that comment I just made, that you guys hold me with the best of the best, that tells you why this means so much to me. You don't care about things like who publishes my books, or if I get an advance against royalties, or that people who self-publish, as I've done with The Demo Tapes, clearly aren't good enough to be published by the better publishers out there.

You care about this world I've created. You help inspire it and you help push me to new heights, creatively and in terms of my writing ability.

So... let me share some of the people who make MY day better and brighter:

Gautami deserves an award and lots of notice for resurrecting the Monday Poetry Train. Come jump aboard with us.

I've mentioned my friend L^2 before, but have you seen her CafePress store? Don't be surprised if you see one of her notecards tucked inside any copy of The Demo Tapes that you buy from me. L is one of the coolest people out there. If you haven't seen her blog yet, you are missing out. This is one talented photographer.

I've made a new friend, Koe, at The Half-Life of Linoleum. What a great blog name, huh?

I was digging this blog, but when she created this post, that sealed the deal. She threw up an unfinished poem and then added to it throughout the day/week until it became what I've just linked to. But Koe added ... the comments from the comment trail. She told me she'd like to do it again. I hope she does. Stick her in your reader and keep commenting!

There are neat book bloggers out there, and you writers ought to take note (there are lots more neat book bloggers over at Win a Book! Why aren't you making friends???). One of my absolute favorites is Dawn, at She is Too Fond of Books. And then there's Anna, whose Diary of an Eccentric is one of my favorite blog names to joke about. Come read Win a Book to see why. And, of course, Serena, of Savvy Verse and Wit.

I've had the distinct pleasure of chatting with these three ladies lately, and they are as wonderful as their blogs are. I'm so glad to have you guys in my circle. Even if you hate my own fiction, I'll still be a fan of you three. Just... not quite as rabidly so.

Have I mentioned J. Kaye lately? Breeni?

My world lately has changed shape, and in a good way. A lot of that is directly due to Breeni, who has decided to throw her considerable passion and efficiency into promoting The Demo Tapes. Beyond me, though, Breeni is every bit as passionate about books as I am -- as any of us are, really -- and is one of the biggest champions for not caring WHO publishes a book. For Breeni, it's about the quality between the covers.

May we all learn to be so publisher-blind.

I can't leave here without one last award. My favorite, and the one you ALL should be giving me. The rock star award!!! What a better award to hand out to a woman who writes about rock stars and the people who orbit them.

It came from April, at My Life as a Mother and Single Parent. We've only just met, me and April, but from the first time I saw one of her blogs (she has a few), I really dug her attitude. This woman has a zest for life that rivals Trevor's. I hope we're in for a long friendship.

She loved my post about the loss of Pittsburgh legend PittGirl. I worked pretty hard on that post, trying to make it as perfect as I could. Thanks to April, I succeeded, although I'm curious what PittGirl herself thinks of it... In the constant flow of my dreams is one where PittGirl reads my post and decides to come back... as a fictional character.

On I dream.

Come join me

Labels: ,

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Byline: Chelle LaFleur -- Gearing up for Musical Hanukkah Celebration Year 3

It only took ole Chelle here two years to figure it out, but when there's a message taped to her phone, waitin' for her in the morning, and when that message don't say nothin' but "Be at your phone at seven, your time, Wednesday," it means one thing and one thing only.

Time to talk up this year's Musical Hanukkah Celebration over in Riverview.

Yeah, yeah. I know. We don't live nowhere near Riverview. We be two time zones over and at least a thousand miles away. So what's Chelle doin' talkin' this thing up?

You boys and girls who're regulars know the answer to that. The Musical Hanukkah Celebration is the baby of the one and only ShapeShifter. And that means fat ole Chelle gets the skinny from the luscious Mitchell Voss himself. He's probably the only man who could tell Chelle when to get herself by a telephone. He's worth it every time.

Except, luscious Mitchell Voss… he ain't the best with the hellos. Know what Chelle hears when she answers the phone? "We've got our best charity yet for this thing."

No Hello? Where's the How Ya Doing, Chelle?

"It's the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation. Stable. Been around awhile. Famous 'cause of some movie I never saw. And we're moving into the Rocket Theater this time, too," Mr. Luscious said. "It's bigger. The stage is bigger and it holds more people. The backstage area's nicer, too, so we can have a few more guest stars. We're pulling out the stops this year. And wait until you see the t-shirt. We're making more of those, too. People want to buy 'em online and help support the cause. Since it's such a good cause, we're all for that."

There you go, boys and girls. We get t-shirts this year if we ain't gonna make the trek to Riverview. And why would we? We got us some great weather this time of year. Gettin' on an airplane might cost so much, you gotta sell your favorite band t-shirt on eBay, and that's before you get to the airport and they call for a cavity search. No, boys and girls. Let's stay put. There's a great local scene here y'all should be explorin'. Chelle's got a rundown of who to go see later on this week.

That don't mean you shouldn't buy those t-shirts when word gets out that you can. Any donation's sure to make those little kids happy and grateful. It's all about bringin' music to the kids, remember that. A kid who plays the flute now might turn out to be tomorrow's Mitchell Voss. We ain't gonna know until that kid gets the chance to make some precious music.

For now, you heard it here and you heard it first: ShapeShifter's Musical Hanukkah Celebration. Gettin' bigger, getting' better and with t-shirts for all, not just the folk who make it inside. Gotta love that. Chelle sure does.

If you're new around here, this whole Musical Hanukkah Celebration thing has got to seem as though it's from left field. Click here to read the beginnings.

While the characters in this piece aren't real, the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation is. Profits on the upcoming t-shirts and The Demo Tapes will go toward this great effort to keep our kids musical. There will be more details and hoopla to come, I promise. And a lot more fiction, too, building up to this fun event.

You may ask why I'm blurring the line between real life and fiction like this. The answer's easy: Today's clarinet player might be tomorrow's million-selling lead singer. Every child all deserves that dream.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Susan Speaks: Face Value

Usually, if I'm cranky, I channel my fictional character, Trevor. Heck, the other day, one of my online friends was having a hard time with her mother, and Trevor wrote her this gorgeous balm for her wounded soul. It was great therapy for me. And, I hope, for her. The Tour Manager dug it, too.

What you don't know about me is that in real life, I'm cranky. I'm bitchy. I'm self-centered (as all good writers are supposed to be … or so goes the cliche). I'm frazzled, overwhelmed, and drowning in this life I've created. In fact, other than my friend Bridget, I'd be surprised if most of the people (if not all) who I see in my daily, offline life have nice things to say about me. Hell, there are people I've only known online who think I'm nothing but the worst kind of bitch.

So maybe this forthcoming rant won't surprise you guys. You're smart people and you know that no one can be as perpetually cheery as I try to be on these pages.

Here's what set me off. One of the local writers I know told me over a year ago about this local, anonymous blogger named PittGirl. "She's hysterical," Annette told me.

It took me about two seconds to see the truth of that. And the deeper content swirling under the surface.

Because she was anonymous, PittGirl felt free to rant about the city. The city's government. The rich and beautiful. PittGirl wasn't afraid to talk about how bad the Pirates are. Every week, she posted the funniest pictures of the Steelers and gave them the best captions, dialogue that had me howling until the cats got scared. I didn't always agree with her, but she always made me think about whatever she was talking about. I'd be out with the Tour Manager and suddenly, I'd say, "Oh, did I tell you what PittGirl said today? Man, it was brilliant."

And did I mention the pictures of shirtless Penguins? Oh, my. That woman provided better eye candy than the numerous romance authors who post Man Meat Mondays.

Yesterday, PittGirl closed up shop. Apparently, someone found out her true identity. The floodgates had been opened, and PittGirl had a choice to make.

She chose real life.

I hate this. I can't tell you how much I hate this. Even earlier this week (or was it last week?), PittGirl had posted a reminder that if her identity was discovered, she faced being fired from her day job. And yet some dunderhead had to go and pry anyway.

For what? For some bit of useless knowledge?


It doesn't matter who is behind the person who became PittGirl. Maybe it was David Conrad, one of her self-united husbands. Maybe it was Ken Rice, a local TV anchor and someone who was long rumored to be PittGirl. Those two men (interesting that I can think of only men when PittGirl was pretty obviously a woman) are who they are… David Conrad and Ken Rice. An actor and a TV newsman.

Likewise, PittGirl was PittGirl.

I mean, heck. When did Marcia Brady stop being Marcia Brady and start being Maureen McCormick? For me, she hasn't. If I find the Bradys on TV, I'm not looking at Maureen McCormick. I'm looking at Marcia Brady. I don't need to know any more about her. She's Marcia. She's got a mom, two sisters, three brothers, a step-father, and a housekeeper who's having a thing with the butcher. End of story. What more do I need to know?

Part of the strength of a good character is that they do not exist in real life. They are larger than life because if they were real, they'd be too large to be contained. Could someone real have the freedom to skewer some of the city's most powerful people the way PittGirl did when details of a society divorce became known?

Hell, no. If she tried, she'd be sued for defamation of character.

And that's exactly why anonymous characters like PittGirl -- and Miss Snark for us writers, and Fake Steve Jobs for you tech heads -- are so important. They use their smokescreen to say the things we are thinking. Or maybe the things we ought to be thinking. Miss Snark could shoot idiots with a clue gun. She wasn't real. Readers knew that they were not in jeopardy of walking down a street and feeling a hard thunk!, only to find they'd been the unwitting recipient of a clue. No matter how badly that clue is needed, it simply isn't going to happen. The clue gun exists in a fictional world.

If someone -- like, say, literary agent Janet Reid, whose prickly online persona is often held as proof that she was Miss Snark -- were to offer to shoot you with something like a clue gun, someone else would feel threatened. Hell, I know how creeped out I was for months after someone said to me, "I have a knife in my pocket and I'm not afraid to use it." That was his opening salvo, too. He went on from there. He claimed he was joking.

Tell that to my nightmares, buddy.

I've heard it said that we Pittsburghers take people at face value. Maybe that's why I'm having such a hard time believing that someone out there (especially someone apparently in Pittsburgh) would want to dig deeper. What's wrong with face value? What's wrong with fantasy and mystique?

Why did PittGirl have to become a real person? She was perfect as she was, hating pigeons and giving Steelers such horrid nicknames that you couldn't help but laugh. (Baby Cici Donna? Skippy Skeeve?)

I'm a writer. I miss Miss Snark but that was an end I saw coming. She'd simply run out of things to teach us.

But PittGirl… in a city like this one, a city that's constantly evolving and changing, that's trying so desperately to move forward (*ahem*), we needed her. We needed her as she was: a fictional woman who could point out the good and the bad that fills our Golden Triangle. Through her, I felt a pride in Pittsburgh that I haven't felt in a long time, and I adore this place. Her love of the city came through in every post, and I'd be surprised if mine wasn't the only outlook she altered.

Pittsburgh is poorer for her loss. She made this often grey landscape brighter.

I hope the dunderhead who needed to know so desperately who she was can look at him- or herself in the mirror today. Because, dunderhead, you ruined a very very good thing for an awful lot of us.

Maybe you're the one we should be calling Skippy Skeeve.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Susan's Book Talk: In my Hands...

Well, boys, girls and groupies of all sizes, shapes, and genders.

In my hands is what I think is going to be the final version of The Demo Tapes. You've asked and I'm about to deliver... Wow. This is scary and exhilarating all at once. Sort of like I imagine how I'd feel if I were allowed to be the first person to try out a new roller coaster... with a blindfold.

No, maybe not. Blindfolds take the fun out of it, no matter what Trevor says. We're talking roller coasters here, folks. And books. MY book.

Since this is mine, thanks to the good folks at Lulu, I get to make the rules. One of which is that you'll be able to buy The Demo Tapes from me. You'll be able to buy them through Lulu. You might be able to buy them through Amazon, but I'll only earn 66 cents per copy once Amazon gets their cut, and that doesn't leave me much to pay off my (limited) expenses and still have enough profit to donate to charity.

What I need to know right now (Yes, this instant!) is ... would you like an autographed copy? The only way to get one is to get it directly through me for a million reasons, one of which is that this book is being produced Print on Demand, so until someone places an order, there's nothing for me to sign.

Tell me in the comments. Lay it all out; I have comment mod only only to get rid of the spammers who leave links to obnoxious spam sites.

Here's the back cover copy:

A band's demo tape is intended to introduce listeners to their music. Likewise, this collection of short pieces allows readers into the fictional world of Trevor Wolff and his band, ShapeShifter.

Originally published online between April 2006 and March 2007, The Demo Tapes: Year 1 brings together the moments that parallel -- but never encounter -- Susan Helene Gottfried's debut novel, Trevor's Song. Arranged chronologically and with introductions to each, this is a must-have volume for anyone who's ever wanted to hang with a rock band.

As Frigga asked, the book is priced at $9.98 and there will be shipping costs involved. I need to figure them out yet (think three bucks for US addresses, tops). And yes, PayPal is a FINE form of payment.

More details on all this to come. Stay tuned.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Roadie Poet: Stranger

Got home just now.
The start of a month off the road.
I need sleep
Clean clothes
Good food.

In that order.

My key fits in the lock.
Everything inside looks the same:
Shelf for mail
The dent in the bannister from when I kicked it with a steel-toed boot.

Don't ask.

In the living room
In front of the TV
In the recliner I bought Mom with my first tour's pay
Isn't Mom.

It's some guy.
In blue plaid flannel pants.
Black socks.
Brown slippers with no backs.
Not a lot of hair.

I look into the kitchen.
There's Mom's cookbooks
Mom's pots
Mom's teapot.
No Mom.

Just this guy.

"Hey," he says to me.
"You must be RP."

"Who're you?" I say to him.
"Does Mom know you're here?"

He laughs.
Stands up.
Shoves his hand at me.

I stare at it.

Mom shows up then.
Dressed in a flimsy robe.
Surprised to see me.
Her second kid.

Like I'm forgettable.

She gives me food.
Takes my laundry.
Sends me to bed.

In that order.
I don't complain.
I needed all three.
Especially sleep.

I'm awake.
Never thought I'd need earplugs at home.

I can find
A tour
That'll keep me busy
For a month.

I don't really need
Or clothes.
In any order.

Aww, man! Poor RP; his mom's got a boyfriend! There's more to this saga, so stay tuned. In the meantime, why not check out other friends who've done some Sunday Scribblings?

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Susan's Music Talk: How Thinking Affects Heart Rates

So check out this article I came across today. It says that:

Listening to stressful or disturbing music can be bad for the heart, according to a new study.

An American investigation found that genres like heavy metal narrowed arteries and made people more anxious, where as “joyful” music improved blood flow.

John Denver-style country music was found to be the most uplifting.

Okay, sure. Pounding drums and throbbing bass and screaming guitars require thicker skin. I can see that.

But John Denver?

Ever seen me twitch when that man's music comes on? No offense; a lot of it is good stuff. But... I'm a metal head for a reason, folks. It speaks to me. Hell, it soothes me.

(remind me to tell you about the time I was pregnant with #1 and went to the OB right after listening to Ride the Lightning and my heart rate was so LOW, the Tour Manager asked how I was managing to be upright. "I'm mellow," I told him. And I was.)

Okay, so fine. Whatever. Heavy metal = bad.

Read on, grasshopper:

The study asked the 10 healthy, non-smoking volunteers to avoid listening to their favourite music to minimise "emotional desensitisation”.

Then, after two weeks, when they listened to music they liked “they would get an extra boost of whatever emotion was being generated," Dr Miller said.

The results found that volunteers' arteries opened 26% wider on average during music they liked but narrowed by 6% when “anxious” music was played.

Now wait a minute. Wait one cotton-picking minute here.

Notice how we're not talking about genre anymore, but about what the listener finds enjoyable?

Think we have a scientist who's making the assumption that no one likes heavy metal, and that everyone on the planet finds metal "anxious" (whatever the hell that means)? Think we have some BIAS going on, boys and girls?


Don't let the headline pull you in. Read the details.


(I saw this study posted here, at They quote the source as this place, although I think there ought to be somewhere else... like where the study was originally published.)


Monday, November 10, 2008


Two Months Later...

Those of you who pick my feed up have seen this get accidentally posted a few times now. Damn Google and their continued insistence on my being a spam blog. Trust me, a fix is in the works.

You'd think I'd just post this already for real, but I keep waiting for the Tour Manager to do my graphics for me. We've been swamped, trying to get the Demo Tapes out to you (so much for my projected target of October 1...), so you can imagine that a simple thing like graphics has taken a back seat. Somehow, I don't think you guys mind all that much.

Anyway, I've been stockpiling these awards since back in September. Ready?

Let's start at the beginning:

Julia at Julia's Book Corner. She was kind enough to give me the super commentator award. I know I am commenting on many of your blogs less than I used to (see above about time...), but when I do comment, I'm trying to make sure you know that I'm not just typing letters and hoping they make words. Silence from me, btw, doesn't mean I'm not here. Just that I'm in a quiet mood. I have been lately, and I'm not sure why.

Breeni loves my blog, which is great because I love hers. In fact, I hung out there a few times during October. Did you notice?

Shauney loves my blog, too. Shauney is an old friend from back before my blogging days, when I hung around a really cool book lover's community. More on that below; right now, it's all about awards.

Especially because I've been handed this one a THIRD time this go-around. Three, folks. Wow.

Florinda, at The 3 R's: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness, also saw fit to pass this along. Florinda and I met years ago through BookCrossing when we exchanged books. Years later, she recognized me. Because, you know, I have a distinctive name and how many other women run around bragging about being from West of Mars?

Lisa, at Minds Alive on the Shelves, also gave me this award, but more for Win a Book than this joint. Still, I'll acknowledge it here while I'm on a roll. Besides, Lisa doesn't live that far from me (or you, Spy) and so she's worth mentioning here. She says she often comes out this way, so let's see if we ever meet in person. Could be scary; I'm SO much better here on the blog.

The cool gang over at Booklorn (who just got added to my reader for handing out this award!) ALSO gave this one to Win a Book. Even on the days lately when I've been overwhelmed and have really relied on Breeni and Bridget to post things for me, having the Win a Book blog has been a great source of FUN. Yes, it's a ton of work. Yes, it's a ton of energy that maybe ought to be spent on my fiction. But I've met so many cool people through Win a Book that it's all worth it. Keep those e-mails coming to the handy-dandy Win a Book e-mail, gang. There's a community being built over there, just as there is one here. Join them both.

On to another award... (I said I was feeling loved!)

Carol over at She Lives and Bass-ically Speaking. Man, I love Carol. I want to be Carol's real-life friend. She comes across as so steady and cool; she'd be a very good influence on flighty and emotional you-know-who.

This is that Portuguese Award that makes me wish I knew Portuguese. The Proximidade Award.

Here's the stuff that comes with it:

This is a very cool Portuguese Award and it means this blog invests in and believes that blogging makes us close. Proximidade translated to English means vicinity, or neighbourhood.

Here is the statement I am supposed to post...

"They all are charmed with the blogs, where in the majority of its aims are to show the marvels and to do friendship; there are persons who are not interested when we give them a prize and then they help to cut these bows; do we want that they are cut or that they propagate? Then let’s try to give more attention to them! So with this prize we must deliver it to 8 bloggers that in turn must make the same thing and put this text."

Yeah. I don't know about that deliver it to 8 bloggers thing, but the rest sure sounds good.

My new friends over at The Virtual Dime Museum honored me before I could honor them. This is one of those blogs I love to stop by every day and linger over. There's always something new and neat here.

And wow. I am very overwhelmed by all this (and I think I've missed an award or two; if I have, please let me know!). I wish I could tell you how much I appreciate it, but I'm lousy at this sort of thing. Thanks seems inadequate when I think of how much you guys impact my own self-worth (which, because I'm a writer is always a hairy thing) in a good way. When my real life blows up, I know that I've always got you guys and this place to hang onto. Probably because you don't have to deal with my artistic temperament (ahem) the way people in my face do.

So... if all of these cool award-granters aren't enough in terms of cool people for you to meet, I've got some more, of course.

There is my friend Carmi, over at Written, Inc. Carmi's actually inspired a character you guys haven't met yet (but will, I promise. Know how I've been a little more absent lately? This is why.), and when I am inspired by who you are, rather than something you say, that is high praise. Needless to say, Shaun is a good guy. You'll like him when you meet him.

Anyway, this is about Carmi. The post I've linked to struck me as something so utterly gorgeous, it took my breath away. And yet, this is business as usual for him; he's the host of thematic photographs, he runs cool caption contests... his range of topics is varied and while you never know what's on his mind from day to day, one thing remains steady: his photography.

Now, enough Carmi. On to the sister blog of The Virtual Dime Museum, Kitchen Retro. Again, I love to sit and read these retro sites; there's so much to be learned. It's such a neat look at who our society was -- and how we've changed.

More history? Really? I like history? When it's this cool, yes, I do. The site is The Modern Historian and I love to see what happened on this date. You should, too.

Another new favorite is Dirty Shanks. These snarky greeting cards make me spit water all over my keyboard on a daily basis. My keys have never been so clean. (You'd think I'd learn, huh?)

Laughing has been a priority lately because I'm feeling so swamped with everything. Another of my favorite stops, thanks to Bunnygirl and Thomma Lyn, is It's Lovely! I'll Take it! Yeah, okay, some of these real estate listings make me realize what a spoiled, sheltered princess I am. Some of them depress me. But mostly, they make me howl. The Tour Manager and I spent hours a week or so ago, going through the site. I'm sure their site meter loved us. (As mine loves you!)

Believe it or not, but I've actually been finding more cool blogs -- but sadly, some of them don't have their feeds on. So, gentle reader, I am asking humbly that you check your feed. Is it on? Does it work? I know I'm not the only blogger out there who won't read a blog unless it's through her reader. (Well, other than those EntreCard people, but that's another creature)

I'll be back with more, I'm sure. In the meantime, I hope you meet some new friends.


Saturday, November 08, 2008


The Origin of Mabel

Many of you regulars may remember Mabel. Here's how the legend began:

It wasn't supposed to be a big deal. Just a cheap guitar that could take some abuse, something up to life on the road. Take abuse, it did. It got knocked, bumped, dropped. But in the end, not even the inflatable ones could handle being stepped on.

Just like that, Mabel's life came to an end.

Mitchell couldn't believe how much he missed the stupid thing. He moped. He whined. He made the band threaten to leave him at a rest stop.

It was Daniel and Eric who came to the rescue, of course.

And Mabel the second was born.

The idea for this began with this week's 100-word challenge: Resurrection. It continued with this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt: change.

To read more about Mabel, check out this link. She's appeared in other spots, too. If you'd like to read them, search the blog by using her name. They'll pop right up. Have fun and remember to leave comments so I know where you've been!

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, November 06, 2008


BTT: Presents

This week's Booking Through Thursday asks us:

What, if any, memorable or special book have you ever gotten as a present? Birthday or otherwise. What made it so notable? The person who gave it? The book itself? The “gift aura?”

With few exceptions, people don't give me books for presents. Maybe it's the 500+ stack that refuses to shrink, no matter how fast I read, that scares them off. Maybe it's that many of those 500+ come from RABCKs -- Random Acts of BookCrossing Kindness. That's when a fellow BookCrosser decides to look up my address and pop a book in the mail to me, just because. As someone who loves to do this, herself, I love getting RABCKs in return.

There's one book that sticks out immediately. That's The Plucker, an illustrated novel by Brom. Yep, one name. Brom. Awkward at first, it takes on a beauty of its own after a bit, doesn't it? Brom.

So does the man's art.

Anyway, the Tour Manager bought me a copy of The Plucker last year for my birthday. Horrible wife that I am, I haven't read it yet. I'm waiting, you see, for a day where I can curl up with something I can get lost inside, where I can lose all the pressures I've been facing lately, trying to get The Demo Tapes done -- along with everything else that my ambition is dictating.

I think, truth be told, I'd rather have a gorgeous new pen (I prefer rollerballs) or an account at Roberta Weissburg's and time to devote to having her make me a gorgeous new dress coat. Or time to play with the washable suede pants I've recently discovered. Or... Yeah, you get the idea. Time and money for this rock and roll writer's rock and roll wardrobe.

Which, of course, explains why I'm wearing a too-big pair of Levi's and a t-shirt from WPTS-FM, the radio station where I had so damn much fun on Sunday afternoons...

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Susan Speaks: While You're on a Roll

So you went and voted today. I'm pretty certain you waited in line longer than I did: the kids and I pretty much walked right on up.

Now, though, you've juiced up those voting fingers (hey, we've got the touch screens here now. Fancy living, West of Mars) and ... what are you going to do?

Well, vote for me!

It's all Breeni's fault. She was nominated for a Weblog award and turned around and nominated me.

There are really good people in the same category. I see a number of blogs I know from my Win a Book blog, and of course, there's Breeni. To be honest, I'll be glad if I don't finish dead last, but ... every now and then, it's fun to think about being first.

Check it out. Nominate someone, even if it's not me. You've got this voting thing down pat now, right? Exercise your choice and your rights some more!