Wednesday, January 30, 2013

And now, the irony

As a writer of fiction, I have to be aware that I’m playing by the rules. That may seem like a bit of a contradiction, but it isn’t. When creating characters, settings and plot lines, they can’t be out of the realm of which I’ve created. Still not clear? Okay, imagine you are walking down the street and run into a purple badger—who can talk and dance. I, personally, have never seen a talking, dancing, purple badger, nor have I heard of one that exists.

It doesn’t make sense.

It’s unbelievable.

My first novel, The Hidden Sun, is medieval fiction. If at the end the hero saves the day by using the internet to access satellites in order to see where the enemy is hiding, it wouldn’t make sense. It would be unbelievable.

One of my finished, unpublished books is a different genre than what I normally write—at least at this moment in time. It deals with a fairly sensitive subject, so as I’ve shopped it around, I’ve had publishers who don’t want to touch it for that very reason.

I was recommended a publisher that deals with these types of books (note: the books isn’t anything I wouldn’t let my daughters read) and I submitted it.

I heard back from them. As often happens in publishing, the book was rejected. Why? Because the book was too “unbelievable”—the gatekeeper who read it couldn’t believe all the stuff that happens, therefore, neither would the readers.

And now, the irony: I wrote the book primarily because I believe it is a story that needs to be told. I’ve been told from other people who have heard the story that they couldn’t, or perhaps, didn’t want to believe what happened.

So, I should just change the parts that are unbelievable, right?

Nope. I refuse.

And why? Because the story is true. I experienced the events. They really happened. To change them would mean I would have to betray who I am to myself. And if I learned nothing from the events in the story, that is something I will not do.

Monday, January 21, 2013

It’s The Singer, Not The Song

I was listening to one of my favorite albums recently, Vital Signs by Survivor. One of the songs on it is called “It’s The Singer, Not The Song.” It got me thinking: is that true?

Granted, most of my musical knowledge comes from the 1980’s, but I started to think about rock groups that have had hits with different lead singers, as well as singers that left their groups that went on to have successful solo careers. I

t seems a common story from bands around that time was that they would get popular, and then the lead singer would leave for any number of reasons to pursue a solo career. Sometimes that worked out for the lead singer, most times it didn’t. And sometimes the band carried on and did fine.

Some lead singers that left successful groups to have hit solo songs include Sting from The Police, Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel from Genesis, and Peter Cetera from Chicago.

Peter Cetera
I recently posted the question on Facebook about which groups had a lead singer leave, and still managed to get a hit with a different lead singer. I got all sorts of responses.

Probably the most well-known is Van Halen. With David Lee Roth, they had hits like “Jump” and “Panama.” With Sammy Hagar, their hits included “Why Can’t This Be Love?” and “Right Now.”

The group that led me down this train of thought was one as well. Survivor had a mega hit with “Eye of the Tiger” sung by Dave Bickler, yet after he left the band and was replaced by Jimi Jamison, other hits included “High On You,” “I Can’t Hold Back” and “The Search is Over.”

One of the most popular groups to have a revolving door of lead singers is Toto. Granted, some of these musicians have been with the group the whole time, but take a look of which of them sang on various hits: Bobby Kimball sang “Hold the Line.” David Paich sang “Africa.” Fergie Frederiksen sang with Paich on “Stranger in Town.” Steve Lukather sang “I’ll Be Over You.” Joseph Williams sang “Pamela.” They even had yet another lead singer in Jean-Michel Byron who sang on some new songs, though none of them were hits.

So, is it the singer, or the song that makes the difference? John Wetton of Asia had a number of hits with the group, and while he put out many solo albums, none of those songs got heavy radio play.

Personally, I think successful groups are due to the collective members of the band—though the singer tends to get the most attention. A perfect example of this is the group Genesis.

Picture of Genesis back in the day
Phil Collins had huge hits both as a solo artist ("In the Air Tonight," "Sussudio,” and "Against All Odds") and also as the singer for Genesis (“Invisible Touch,” “Land of Confusion,” and “Misunderstanding”).

But Genesis as a group also had hits with different lead singers. Before Peter Gabriel left the group, he sang on the hit, “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)” before having solo hits like “Sledgehammer,” “Solsbury Hill,” “Shock the Monkey” and “In Your Eyes.”

A little less know is a song by Genesis called “Congo” that was considered a hit by yet a different lead singer for Genesis, Ray Wilson, who took over for Phil Collins in 1997.

Mike Rutherford, who also played in Genesis, had quite a successful career outside of Genesis with his band Mike + The Mechanics, probably best known for their songs “The Living Years” and “All I Need is a Miracle.”

But wait, there’s more! Steven Hackett who was the original guitarist for Genesis had a solo hit with “Cell 151” and later, he joined GTR who had a huge hit with “When the Heart Rules the Mind.”

So, is it the singer, or the song? I say it’s a combo. After all, how many songs have been redone by other artists and have become hits. But that’s a blog for another time.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Review of The Secret Sister's Club

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading The Secret Sister’s Club. I had a unique experience that most readers don’t get. I actually had a chance to meet the author and speak with her before I read the book. I found her to be a refreshingly honest and open person—in a good way, and I wondered if that would translate to her books.

It did.

Bucheger isn’t afraid to tackle hard subjects, but she doesn’t do it in a sensational manner. The characters of Ginnie and Tillie are well written and developed. I found myself caring for them and cheering them on. That’s hard for an author to do.

I have teenage daughters and have added the Ginnie West books to the list of my recommended reads for them. I think that, above all, is the greatest compliment I can give this particular book and series.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bang Bang

The radar gun read “92 mph.”

Sighing, the police officer pulled his patrol car onto the nearly deserted highway and then turned on his siren.

The red sports car was a good ways ahead of him, but if the driver had any sense, he’d see the flashing lights in his rearview mirror and pull over.

The police officer accelerated until he started to close the gap. For a moment, he thought the sports car would make a run for it. He was about to call for backup when he saw the speeding vehicle slow down. Soon enough, it pulled off the side of the road.

After pulling in behind the sports car, he carefully got out and approached the driver’s side. Shortly, he could see it was a male driver, and a young one at that.

The young man rolled down his window, but didn’t say anything. The police officer didn’t sense any danger from the kid—if anything, he sensed contempt.

“Any idea how fast you were going there, son?” the police officer asked.

“Around ninety.”

“And do you know what the speed limit is?”

The response took the officer by surprise. “No. And I don’t really care. I think it’s a stupid law and I don’t see why I should have to follow it.”

There was an embroidered logo on the young man’s shirt. It was from a local country club for only the richest of the rich. It wasn’t the first time the police officer had dealt with this same type of attitude. But it wasn’t always from the wealthy. It was from people of all ages, races and economic situations. Frankly, he was tired of it.

“I see,” said the police officer.

He took his gun from his holster. The young man’s eyes grew wide.

Two shots rang out.

The result was two flat tires on the sports car.

“What do you think you’re doing?” The young man said, clearly exasperated. “You can’t do that! It’s against the law! Oh, when my father’s lawyers get a hold of you, you’ll—” The officer shut him up by lifting his gun.

“You know, I don’t really care. I think it’s a stupid law and I don’t see why I should have to follow it.”

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Top 5 blogs of 2012 (and other stuff)

Wow. Another year—poof! Gone. Done. But not forgotten. 2012 saw the publications of my books The Waxing Moon and The Night the Port-A-Potty Burned Down and Other Stories.

I also had three short stories published: “Howler King”, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” (from Sing We Now of Christmas), and award-winning “The Doughnut” (from Parables for Today).

If all goes according to plan (and when does that ever happen?!?!?!?), I’ll have at least two more books published in 2013: The Zealous Star (the third book of the Bariwon series) and The Mirror of the Soul (based on the works of Chris de Burgh).

But there’s more! I have another completed book, Wall of Faith, which is still looking for a home. It could quite possibly be published in 2013 as well. What else? Well, I’ll be contributing another short story to Michael Young’s next Christmas anthology. The first draft is written.

Also, I’m roughly 17,000 words into another book which is quite a departure from my other works. It’s about a young man who moves from North Carolina to Utah at the start of his senior year in high school. I don’t want to give away too much, but due to a certain plot point, the story takes place in the late 1980’s.

On top of all this is family, church, work and something else…what is it? Oh yeah! I’m working on my Master’s degree in creative writing. One thing I like to do at the end of the year is see which of my blogs got the most “hits” (meaning the most times people accessed the page.)

Here are the top 5 of 2012:




And number 1: