Sunday, December 13, 2009

CD's You Should Have Bought This Year But Probably Didn't

Quote of the Day:
Listen or thy tongue will
keep thee deaf.

~Indian Proverb

Current Local Weather:
Freeeeeezing Cold Sunny Days
with Relaxation Showers and No
Deadline to Speak Of

Currently on my iPod:
Keep it Loose, Keep it Tight
Amos Lee

(Jeremy Facknitz)

Dear friends and family and my family of friends,

Yes, it's the end of the year. Thank goodness. It's been a hell of a life-changing, mood altering season of growing and learning and living to the fullest I can possibly live. I wish you were here. Right here. Next to me. The couch is now sinking in from where I have sat too many nights, at this time of the night, writing my thoughts, both good and bad, down for all to read either now or much, much (posthumously) later. Details on where to find my diary to come in a blog later. MUCH later.

Yet the one thing good about closing out a year this great is the recap of it. This is an act that nourishes my already healthy ego and also helps me keep things in perspective. Any time I get impatient with my own progress or with a goal that seems all too distant, I can go back and read the recapping of a year that passed by at break-neck speed and changed my life. But the recap of this year will happen during my new years blog. This blog...which isn't too late or early enough is a recap of all the great music that's been put out this year. Many of these artists are strangers to the mainstream for now. MANY MANY of them have busted their wallets and their ass to promote themselves and have succeeded in small ways.

As usual, I want to help out. Help them in anyway I can. I believe that music is the best gift you can give anyone. Whether it be escorting a friend to a phenomenal performance or just gifting a few iTunes to a friend who is in need of a boost, a lift
of the mood and funk they're in at that moment. Music stays with us wherever and whenever we need it. Think back to some of your fondest memories growing up...I remember Culture Club tunes and Aha's "Take On Me" playing in the distant background. I remember where I was the first time I heard Maria Schnieder's music. That moment changed my life. Music is by far, one of the most potent and powerful aphrodisiacs and mood destabalizers/stabalizers ever created by humans. Hell, even the birds know the power of a great tune! It can land them a mate and or ward off an enemy.

So, this Christmas or even in the next year and coming years, take this into account. Make it your resolution, if you're the type to make such claims, to ignore the Top 40 list and go with the indie folks, the jazz underground, the singer/songwriters who write more poetry than most poets I know and those that are probably eating Ramen Noodles right now instead of steak just to make it between gigs.

Here's a LONG list (My 50 picks) of folks to start with. Some of these folks I know personally. Some of them I have listened to their stories over and over in an attempt to get it down on paper. Some I have never ever met and maybe never will, but I feel I know them very well through their words and lovely melodies. Either way, ALL of these folks are worth getting to know and supporting. Show some love
... got it? Now, without further ado, here's the list:

**each artist and name of the album is also a link...please buy the music from the artist on their site. This ensures that the artist receives all the proceeds from the sale. **

  1. Singer/Songwriter: Jeremy Facknitz, Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
  2. Jazz Drummer/Funny Guy: Matt Wilson , That's Gonna Leave A Mark
  3. Composer/bassist: Ben Allison, Think Free
  4. Composer/Bassist: Chris Tarry, Live at the Birds Eye, Switzerland
  5. Jazz Saxophonist/Composer: Ricky Sweum, Pulling Your Own Strings
  6. Jam Band/Funky Tastemakers: Rudder, Matorning
  7. Jazz pianist/Composer: Vijay Iyer, Histrocity
  8. Jazz pianist/Composer: Matthew Shipp, Harmonic Disorder
  9. Trumpeter/Composer: Dave Douglas, Spirit Moves
  10. Jazz Saxophonist/Composer: Joe Lovano, Folk Art
  11. Singer/Songwriter Group: As Tall As Lions, The Circles EP
  12. Jazz Bassist: Christian McBride, Kind of Brown
  13. Jazz Trumpeter: Roy Hargrove, Emergence
  14. Jazz Pianist/Composer: Robert Glasper, Double Booked
  15. Singer/Songwriter/Folk: The Bird and the Bee, One Too Many Hearts
  16. Singer/Songwriter: Regina Spektor, Far
  17. Jazz Composer/Saxophonist: Chris Greene, Merge
  18. Contemporary Drummer: Paul Wertico, Impressions of A City
  19. Jazz Vocalist: Kurt Elling, Dedicated To You
  20. Jazz Bassist: Stanley Clarke, Jazz in the Garden
  21. Jazz Vocalist/Songwriter/Composer: Allan Harris, Dedicated to You, Allan Harris Sings Nat King Cole Christmas
  22. Jazz Vocalist/Poet/Composer/Mover-Shaker: Rene Marie, Slut Energy Theory
  23. Jazz Saxophonist/Composer: Woody Witt, Seasons Ago
  24. Jazz Trumpeter/Professor/Composer: Alan Hood, Just A Little Taste
  25. Jazz Trumpeter/Composer/Classical Trumpeter: Suresh Singaratnam, Lost in New York
  26. Jazz Saxophonist/Composer: Jake Saslow, Lucky 13
  27. Jazz Vocalist/WonderWoman: Melody Gardot, My One and Only Thrill
  28. Jazz Composer/Leader: Darcy James Argue, Secret Society Presents: Infernal Machines
  29. Jazz Saxophonist/Composer: Seamus Blake, Live in Italy
  30. Jazz Composer/Saxophonist: Jeremy Udden, Torchsongs
  31. Jazz Bassist/Composer: Janek Gwizdala, Live at the 55 Bar
  32. Uh, no category-group/ear candy: Slavic Soul Party, Taketron
  33. Jazz Vocalist/Songwriter: Karrin Allyson, By Request, The Best of Karrin Allyson
  34. Jazz Pianist/Composer/Great conversationalist: Jim Beard, Revolutions
  35. Jazz Bassist/Composer: Joe Martin, Not By Chance
  36. Jazz Guitarist/Wonderfingers: Pete McCann, Extra Mile
  37. Jazz Composer/Guitarist/Visual Artist: Miles Okazaki, Generations
  38. World Music Extraordinaire: Ballake Sissoko, 3MA
  39. Jazz Guitarist/Composer: Jonathan Kreisberg, The South of Everywhere
  40. Jazz Composer/Film Score Genius/Trumpeter: Terence Blanchard, Choices
  41. Jazz Saxophonist/Composer/text buddy: Noah Preminger, Dry Bridge Road
  42. Jazz Trumpeter/Poet/Soulwriter: Nicholas Payton, Into the Blue
  43. Jazz Bassist/Fatherfigure/Educator/Composer: John Clayton, Brother to Brother
  44. Singer/Songwriter Vocalist: Jonah Smith, Lights On
  45. Jazz Guitarist: Bobby Broom, Bobby Broom Plays For Monk
  46. Jazz Composer/Pianist/Leader: Michel Camilo, Caribe (Live DVD/CD)
  47. Jazz Pianist/Composer: Dan Cray, Over Here, Over Heard
  48. Jazz Organist/Composer/Magic Soul Man: Pat Bianchi, East Coast Roots
  49. Jazz Pianist/Composer/Educator/Arranger: Bill Cunliffe, The Blues and the Abstract Truth
  50. Composer/Arranger/Film Scorer/Bad Ass Supporter/Friend/Big Band Guru: Gordon Goodwin and his Big Phat Band, Act Your Age
  • Of course, I've left out everyone else. So, if you're reading this and you're getting upset with me because you weren't included then do something about it! If you want to be added to the list, just email me at with your CD name, web address etc. I'll be happy to add.
I hope, at the very least, you consider this list a great start.

Yours in Music, Mischeif and Mayhem,


OH. And need I even say it? HAVE YOU BOUGHT YOUR COPY of the New Face of Jazz? No? Shame...shame...Reserve it soon before they're all gone.

And if you're interested in reading the Author's Note and an excerpt from the beautiful Vocalist/Bassist, Esperanza Spalding, Go Here:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Reply to Inverted Garden

Quote of the Day:
Conformity is the jailer of freedom
and the enemy of growth.

Current Local Weather:
Severe Storm WARNING:
Hail storms of commercialism
followed by strong winds whistling Christmas carols.
*Damage likely.*
You are strongly advised to shelter children, pets and other
priceless possessions including your beliefs, ethics and morals.

Currently on my iPod:
"Bring Me Joy"
Never Too Far
Dianne Reeves

Dear family, friends and my family of friends,

Today's blog is brought to you by the intelligent mind of Eric Benson. His blog on jazz titled: Inverted Garden is awesome.
It's a great feeling to find someone who is on the same page in this world, especially when it pertains to the specifics of something like jazz. I love discovering a new blog that doesn't suck.

He is also a fan of Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, whereas composer DJA is verbose, insightful and wonderfully outspoken like people should be...anywho...This is my reply to his recent (late September) blog on why jazz doesn't have the audience it should and how to go about raising or rather, how not to go about raising the audience to a larger number than what it is

Go here for the original blog: Cool Talk

But the reason I point out this specific blog and my response to it is because this is the EXACT reason and angle I tried to reach for in my book. He nailed it. I just hope I did or at least I hope others think that I did once the book comes out. I think this is something you all should know about me and why I did what I did.

Here it goes:


I wanted to comment on this train of thought you've presented here. First off, I think your blog raises great questions, concerns and answers. I'm a HUGE fan of DJA and his blog as well, as a matter of fact he's included in my book as one of the greats alive today. I have an immense amount of respect for him.

onwards: As a former musician and now a jazz writer, I agree completely with the ideal that if music is presented with the intensity as that one blog reader's comments mention, it will be noticed and stomped on by the listeners feet as they begin to feel it in their souls. But there is one particular passage here that hits home with what I'm living for and why I write about jazz,

"...the way to build an audience that looks to jazz as a serious contributor to the larger culture isn’t to convince them that it’s “cool”—suave, relaxing, above-it-all—but to show them that it’s engaged in a mad quest to understand, in the words David Foster Wallace, “what it is to be a fucking human being.” Anyone who has seriously listened to Monk, Mingus, and Coltrane knows that obsession and passion drive their music, not coolness."

This is exactly what I go for when I write. It isn't about the here and now, it's about the sustainability of the future.

Looking to market an art or any kind of media for that matter as something that is "cool" and only going by that invisible factor/measurement/commercial viability for the "youth's" sake is asking for it to be short lived and forgotten.

The historical longevity of something that has been deemed "cool" by a generation often doesn't stick with the further generations as something they can relate to as this aspect of life, the cool factor is a fluid, ever changing concept.

But, as pointed out here, if you can show that the "it" factor of an art or music or anything for that matter is something that binds us all together, as in the humanity of an art or the spirit and soul of what makes us unique in the bigger scheme of things, is to find that universal appealing truth and one that all generations seek to find out for themselves within their personal struggles and everyday confinement of the capitalist society we all live in. But to find this is to validate their causes, their worth and their sustainable visions as creative beings.

Therefore presenting jazz, at least now, in the world we're confined in today, as cool, is not the way to go.

Instead, as musicians, fans and carriers of the torch, we need to give the newcomers to the music and those who have lost touch with why they came to it in the first place, something they can feed off almost barren and open religion that speaks to them in ways that one that follows archaic rules and words can't give...If we allow that gift of the untainted value of an unspoken breath of air that is more about touching the soul of the person who played it than the "commercial" coolness factor, I believe you'll find that sustaining this genre of music won't be so difficult.

It's just a matter now of reaching those that are untouchable, the ones who have closed minds, broken ears and further more, a deep and darkened denial that clouds their perspective of what is new to them, not necessarily new to the world. As Wynton told me in an interview, "sometimes following the people is not the way to have them follow you." Jazz is not the new "black" as the fashion world would say...Jazz is what it always has been: an art that reaches well beyond the soul and into that space rarely seen but often heard crying out for an audience who will listen.

As per my wish with every post, I hope you got something out of this.

Yours in gardens, growing and grasping for the bigger, hopefully better, picture,


Friday, October 30, 2009

Guest Blogger: TRAVIS ERWIN

Never give up on something that you
can't go a day without thinking about.
~ Unknown

Current Local Forecast:
Swollen handfuls of

Currently on my iPod:
Strawberry Fields
Ben Harper
"I Am Sam" Soundtrack

Special Announcement:
THE NEW FACE OF JAZZ is available for pre-order NOW on Check it!
Don't make a red-head cry! Buy it, support the poor.

There are few people in one's life here on this great big ball of blue and green that impress me with their dedication as a friend and to their craft as Travis has over the last two...(or is it three?)..years that I've known him. He is one of the great 'undiscovered' talents and I'm glad to say his love and text messages and emails and well placed calls of encouragement have kept me going more days than not. Although I don't quite approve of his meathead diet, I approve of all good people in this world and especially those who can spin a yarn that keeps me smiling day after day after day.
Without further ado, my guest blogger this month is: Travis Erwin.

A rare sighting of Travis and Me, in the same place, at the same time.

Literary Agent Appreciation Day: Year One

Gatsby had Tom Buchanan.

Superman, Lex Luther.

Heck, even the Roadrunner had Wile E. Coyote.

Enemies, rivals, dream killers. Books, movies, cartoons are littered with epic battles between the so-called good guy and the evil doer opposing them.

Yet here in the real world few of us have an enemy or even a steady rival?

Sure there was that dude in college that seduced the girl of your dreams, but chances are that girl gave him chlamydia anyway. Or maybe you have an anal boss that gets ticked every time he catches you on Facebook at work, but even that dude is simply trying to do a job. Chances are he has his won problems and doesn't have time to plot your demise or the destruction of your dreams. And I suppose that neighbor down the street that lets his Shih Tzu squat and leave an Alpo nugget on your front lawn each day could be construed as evil, but still I don't think you can call them a true enemy.

Yet I do know of one demographic that likes to play the blame game. Many in this demographic badly want to think of themselves as the good guy. They wanna believe their is a dark force out there working against them. They wanna think that their dreams would all come true if only their arch enemy wasn't blocking the path to glory.

And who is this demographic?


And yes, I, Travis Erwin solidly belong to this demographic of wannabee novelists. I have submitted query after query. Partial after partial. Full manuscript after full manuscript. Only to have some golden haired literary agent cast their judgment down upon me from their penthouse high above the New York skyline.

I have cursed under my breath.

If only I could submit directly to the editors at the big houses. Surely they would get me. If only every person of power in the business didn't call the big city home they might appreciate my words. If only i didn't live in "fly-over" country I'd have a chance.

Yeah, I'm ashamed to say it but I've had those thoughts. Guess what they are excuses. Nothing more. Asinine explanations to cover up the fact that I haven't done what it takes to break through.

Do I still believe that much of what I've written is good? Dare I say every bit as good as other stuff already getting published. Damn right I do. But nevertheless I haven't done enough. I have created a compelling enough query. I haven't made myself or my pitch original enough. I haven't drawn the reader in quick enough. I haven't patched the holes, the weak spots in the plot. I haven't fleshed the characters quite enough.

Bottom line -- I haven't made it impossible to say no.

Would readers or acquiring editors see things differently? Who knows. I could self-publish, but at this point in my writing I don't think I would feel any sense of accomplishment going that route. I want that validation of having someone else say yes, you are good enough. I could approach small and regional publishers that take unagented submissions and if my work is rock solid they may accept it. But will any one other than my friends and family notice? Will my work find a large enough readership to build upon or will I have a feather in my cap and nothing more?

Of course landing an agent is no guarantee that a big publisher will take on your work. And these days even big publishers are reluctant to put their publicity muscle behind unknown and unproven authors.

So I understand why it's natural to blame the industry, the big houses that won't commit to reading huge piles of unagented slush, and the literary agents who first cast judgment based solely upon a one page query.

But as writers we must understand the rules of the game. If you don't like them don't play. Literary agents did not get into the business to dash the dreams of writers. They got into for the same reason you right, Because they love books, stories, and discovering that next great read. Do they miss. Sure. Are their tastes subjective. You betcha. But to blame them for standing in your way is self-defeating. It's the easy way out.

To foster a better relationship between aspiring writers and literary agents I have declared November 1st as Literary Agent Appreciation Day. I have been gathering stories of agents that have gone above and beyond to help writers gain a foothold or learn about the craft and business. For more info on Literary Agent Appreciation Day or how you can participate visit my regular blog here.

Literary Agents are not your enemy any more than your car is. Yeah, I know it hurts like hell to hit a tree at fifty miles per hour, but keep in mind you are the one behind the wheel. Swerve if you have to, and for God sakes, don't drive, or query, if you've had more than one rum and coke.
~Travis Erwin

Yours in Meat, Merging Blogs and Meandering Through Travis Land...


Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Short, sweet and to the point:

You can order your copy now on Amazon.

Go here:


Got it?

Wow. This is pretty damn cool.



Sunday, October 25, 2009

Finding a Quiet Place: Writing Away Retreats Wrap Up

Quote of the Day:
The most important thing in life is to learn
how to give out love
and to let it come in.
~Morrie Schwartz

Current Local Forecast:
Sudden outbursts of kindness
with the first, glorious snow
on the mountains.

Currently on my iPod:
If Tomorrow Never Comes
"Have Guitar Will Travel"
Garth Brooks

Dear Friends, Family and my Family of Friends,

I suppose this is the most difficult day of the retreats. We have an enormous amount of cleaning, clearing and eating to do today. Our well-behaved stomachs are going to have to give in to gluttony today. Period. End of discussion...aren't you feeling the sudden desire to fed ex some tupperware this way?

But today is difficult for other reasons as well. These twelve days have been some of the very best of my life. The emotionally charged release of finally being around those that understand where you are in life, regardless of where you physically are, but the emotional well, simply the very best recharge anyone can get. Even though I'm physically exhausted and need to sleep for a month, I'm recharged in my spirit. Writers from over 10 states and over 8 staff members representing Red Hen Press, Sterling Lord Literistic, Harper Collins, JaBberwocky Literary Agency, Pike Literary Services, Fairbank Literary Agency, Folio Literary Agency came together. I'm dually impressed with staff and writers that attended this year.

But what really happens here? As I did last May I'm posting a few of the quotes from the "book" on the table. Will blog more about the experience later. I'm so overwhelmed by even reading these quotes that I must take a step back to absorb the words myself.

"Cicily, you take care of us as if we, writers, are the beloved. This retreat was a complete success for me, everyday, every moment. I'll always be a better writer for this gift of time." ~S. Hall (Kentucky)

"This was simply the greatest weekend I've ever had. It's such a peaceful, productive environment, the food is heavenly and the potential is limitless." ~B. Pedas (Colorado)

"I can't tell you how much this experience has encouraged me and changed my perspective. This is truly priceless to me." ~J. McQuade (Oklahoma)

"I have been nurtured and supported in every possible way. I have a much better understanding of the world of publishing. I know the contacts, friendships and more I've made here are of real value when I'm ready to shop my MS." ~R. Rues (Arkansas)

"They said it couldn't be done, but you have opened up the byzantine, enigmatic world of commercial publishing to those creatives who were/are baffled by how it operates. At the same time you provided a retreat where everyone can share with eachother." ~R. Fessler (Maryland)

"These past few days have affected my profoundly. They have grounded me, focused me enormously. Often, I have been moved so beyond words that I thought I might have to give the poor things up...."~K. Sucharski (Colorado)

"To borrow from Justin, everything here is the best thing ever." ~S. Fairbank (Massachutes)

"I am leaving refreshed, renewed, and in love with my project again." ~D. Courtney (Colorado)

All I can say is that I've been paid in riches beyond those that could possibly be seen by the world or the eyes of a soul who needed to be opened again to love.

Yours in Pink Panties, Potential and Pushing towards the Down Under in June 2010.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Super Agents: A How NOT to Get One To Save Your Literary Life List

Quote of the Day:
"Writing is the only profession where no one considers
you ridiculous if you don't earn any money."
~Jules Renard~

Current Local Forecast:
Chicken Little was right.

Currently on My iPod:
Sara Smile
Hall and Oates

Dear Family and Friends and my Family of Friends,

Sorry for the delay, my editor hit me up with the expected fly-by first phase of red-ink bombings. More on that later. It wasn't as painful as I had heard it could be, but it's still become somewhat of a Sophie's Choice in the Jazz world and I'm not really enjoying it. Enough of that. Onwards...

This week marks my one year anniversary for WRITING AWAY RETREATS. Not only is this uber cool, but in one year I took it from being a small-ish crowd of coolness over four days to a LARGE crowd of forty peeps coming and going over two weeks. Very excited to meet and greet and more importantly, feed all ya'll. See you all soon. And, for those of you who aren't attending this retreat'o'greatness this year, May will be coming up soon. Contest details and website updates will happen after this one is over. I've already had some folks sign up, so beware. Spots will go fast. Also, we're taking it international in 2011. More details on that soon!

Now...for the meat of the blog. Got your forks and knives? Travis? Let's have a sit down conversation about agents.

First off, let me give a little clip about mine.

Gary Heidt. And, no, not this one:
Yep, you guessed it, Gary is a supah stah agent. I often call him Super Agent G. After all, wouldn't you if he had sold not only your first book, but your first book which happens to be on the impossible non-fiction that Randomish House chock-full-o-jazz fans? Yeah, so ya get it? Gary pretty much rocks, he saved my literary life from an uncertain and seemingly doomed fate.

But that's not what this is about. Ask him, I can go on and on about his Texas twangy pep talks and editing skills and more...but kids, that's for another episode, this is reverse how to list. I can't tell you exactly how to get one to answer your silent cries and beckon call, but I can definitely tell you how NOT TO...So listen up and pay attention and all those sorts of things. Put down the red crayons and magic marker's that you're writing your query letters with, as I believe that yes, they can be a telephone booth change of undies and tights away for you too!

Here's a top ten list on how not to get an agent : (If it doesn't work, I'll refund the money you paid to read this blog, pronto!)

10. Tell them your book is "just right" for Oprah.
  • Really? You know her? Seriously? Can you tell her that I want my book on her list? If you think you're going to be picked out of everyone else in the world to be her latest annointing, then get in line and get a life. Unless, of course, you REALLY do know her. If this is the case, I would have a letter signed by her, and maybe a snap shot of her with you included in your query.
9. Dear Sir/Madam, Thank you for this opportunity to present to you my Raging Hormonal techno-thriller detective romance YA crossover manuscript known as Old Yeller: the first years, the prequel to Old Yeller.
  • A nice, impersonal query letter that doesn't even know the gender of the agent screams, bite me. Plus those "services" that you pay for to query all those agents in those big cities are rip offs. Do your own damn research and find out who's truly right for your project. If you can't do this on your own, then how are you going to do the research on your own when the marketing team from your pub. house sends you a 30 page questionaire for your book's marketing plan? Yeah, good luck.
8. Ring them.
  • After all, isn't it just so much better than that impersonal email and it's soooo much easier to just talk for fifteen minutes or an hour or two about the cool parts of the techno thriller Old Yeller knock off you just wrote that's still in its first draft, but is sooo perfect rather than just shoot over an email that sums it up in five to fifteen lines, right? Yeah, right. Sod off. That's the nice thing about phones, the hang up is such a greater insult than the delete button. It makes a bigger, louder sound.

7. Set up your novel with the weather. OR. A great scene that opens with:
  • He hit the snooze button and a feeling of dread came over him. This is when Little Timmy realized that today would be the day that he would DIE.
  • Little Timmy looked outside and realized that not only he would die, but the sky was cloudy.
  • Little Timmy was not only a schmuck, but he knew he would die and the weather was really cloudy and humid and he would have a really bad hair day on the day of his death and this made him sad.
  • Little Timmy said, wow, you write really bad and should have thought out your writing a smudge better before you submitted that first draft to that agent, eh?
  • Little Timmy realized, just moments ago, before he said that to the writer, that today was the last day of his life. Then a bus hit him and smashed him into little tiny shards of bloody bone and other matter went flying and splattering all over the windows and made a horrendous mess out of what we all knew as this very boring and pitiful life.
  • Yeah, get someone to critique your writing or get an editor or at the VERY LEAST, DO NOT SEND AN AGENT THE FIRST DRAFT. They're like Vampires and blood and stuff. They can smell a virgin draft a mile away and they want to destroy them as soon as they get their hands on them. (sorry, that was very bad.)
6. Fake it! Works in other areas of life...(ref. When Harry Met Sally)
  • I may look like a doctor, but really, I only play one on TV. Yeah, doesn't really help to lie about platform, pub. credits or any other occupation. Go for it...really, I double, no, triple dog dare you.
5. So you nailed me for drinks and I asked for more, I want what?
  • You met the perfect agent. And guess what? He/She gave you googly eyes across the table too! Oh my...text your friends. Text your mom. Text EVERYONE YOU KNOW. Now. Get on twitter. Tell the WHOLE WIDE WORLD that you got a request for a FULL. Follow that with Facebook. Then you cross your fingers that they don't write you back with a, sorry, I found someone else, I was seeing someone else, I think I could be a lesbian and or gay and or bi, or one of those commune dwellers and I'm inviting everyone but you and you wouldn't be the right gender anyway, I think I might just would rather stay home and wash my hair lines or whatever.
  • MOST IMPORTANT HERE: DON'T TEXT THEM OR CALL THEM OR EMAIL THEM UNLESS YOU'RE ASKED TO. You're not official until they ask you to be official. Just because they ask you for a full, doesn't mean they're asking for literary marriage. That's like calling your date after ONE date and asking for a key to their place. Yeah, not cool. (ref. The Rules.)
4. Go into the job interview with the expectation of becoming the CEO right away. (ref. Mr. McFerrin)
  • As the quote up top says, no one expects any of us fools who like to put words in logical order to make money anyway, so what's your hurry. Sure, easy enough for me to say,as I have a contract and this huge lump sum of DEBT from writing my first major book and all the other goodies that come along with it...including the self-imposed pressure of putting another prop. on the market (soon, VERY soon) so I can make up for the last debt and what not. You can't write for money anyhow. Unless, of course, you're already making money writing. Then, by all means, go for it! Share the wealth with the rest of us peons. Regardless, if they take you on, relax, you do your job, let them do theirs and trust them. If they trust you enough to take you on, reciprocate.
3. Get rid of your email, your twitter, become anti-web presentable and what not. After all, the more rugged and believable you are as a "real" writer, the more mystique surrounding your actual presence, the better.
  • yeah, so not true. No communicato via email, no agent.
2. Agent site reads: Taking submissions year round: Historical Romance and Techno Thrillers only. Definitely No Stories about Bambi, was traumatized as a child and have severe PTSD. Please query first as we do not take full manuscripts unless requested. And definitely do not query between August and May each year, we are busy catching up on lunches with other agents and editors and our already established clients. ***Potential client submits: Dear Cool Agent X, I'd like to present my manuscript in full to you titled: Bambi's Mom: Carnage, Conspiracy, Corruption and Capitalists Behind One of Disney's Oldest Full Length Cartoons. The MS is in its first draft at about 9,064,825 words and is ready for publication. THanks for lookin' at it dudes. ~The real murderer of Bambi's Mom...***
  • Agent receives the following letter after sending out obvious rejection letter and having to increase prozac and therapy sessions: Dear Sur, CAn you just send me an email explaining why I don't get acceptance from your agency? I plan long time to be accepted by you and even catered to your excitement for Bambi...MAKE SURE YOU READ THE REAL GUIDELINES and writing them back is an extra special dose of terrible horrible no good VERY bad karma! Remember, they're looking for a reason to reject you...they get hundreds of submissions a week and take only 0.01% of those on as clients.
1. Have simple mistakes on your manuscript and/or your query letter and then fail to follow MS submission guidelines.
  • Dear Mr. Agent,
I have the perfecet querey letter for you. Not only is thsi novel the best thing ever, it falles in line with the last one your agency represented and got your cliente a novel piece prize...If you'd like to see it, let me know. It's realley cool and I thnk you could like it forever.

~Potential client perfecto.

Yeah, not so much.

  • Regardless, in order to get an agent to really pay attention, you need to write well, know your materials, your genre, and act cool. As fun as stalking may be (not that I would know) it's not cool in this situation nor will it win them over as a potential literary love interest.
  • Make a big impression in a small way. Again, play it cool. Give them your very best voice, characters and or proposal. The bulk of your work should already be done before you even THINK about hitting one up for representation. If you're just beginning a proposal or novel, IT IS NOT THE TIME TO THINK ABOUT THE MONEY, THE REPRESENTATION OR THE FAME! (*a note on fame...yeah, right?! Keep dreaming) Take the right kind of time to build your platform and let it fall into place. No one walks into the position of super star without hard work and persistence and years of crafting their craft ahead of me. I'm still WORKING hard at it every single day.
  • Once you land one, they can be your strongest and most trusted ally in this world known as publishing. If they say to keep your mouth shut and listen to them or to let things happen and be cool, then for god sakes listen. If they give you a gaggle of edits to do on the proposal and its the last thing you want to do, do it anyway. Writing is not a job for those who want to only work a few minutes or hours a day. Writing, is well, as G-man says, fun until it becomes work. It's always work, and it's always fun in some way, but sometimes that way is only when you have great people to lean on and those that become an unexpected champion that get you through the tough times.
  • Agent's no matter the personality or the house they land you in or how you got them to say yes to your characters and your writing project, are in the end, people too and need to be treated as such because they work very hard and their success depends on your success and your career can be made or laid to rest by their hands in some cases. It's up to you to cultivate and work that relationship into the place it needs to be from the very beginning on.

Yours in Agents, Auspicious Beginnings and Always Being the Best You Can Be,


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Security Please

If ignorance is bliss, why aren't there more happy people?
~Author Unknown

WTF? Snow will make a brief celebrity
appearance on last day of summer.
Mass confusion on all fronts.

Re: Stacks
Bon Iver

Dear Friends, Family, and my Family of Friends,

After the tragedies of Columbine (especially for the state of Colorado), 9.11, Oklahoma and more, our country beefed up our security to the nth degree. You can hardly buy a Big Mac without giving the last four addresses you've occupied and your Grandmother's Sister's Brother's Best Friend's Girlfriend's Stepfather's Ex-Godfather's Mother's Father's Cat's First Owner's mother's maiden name in order to enjoy it. And only then can you have one if your shoes are off and contained in a little baggie that's zipped up.

In all seriousness, these acts of terror have put us on our gaurd for good reason. We're working on our defenses now and have to be weary of anyone who may want to hurt us. We need to be protective of our freedoms. I was watching the harrowing movie, Slumdog Millionaire the other night and I kept way, it's not REALLY like that over there...then I thought...wait, yes, yes it probably is. It gave me perspective, yet again, on why I am glad I'm here.

Where am I going with this?

Yesterday, I had to go to the local high school to speak with one of the teachers. I am going to speak with her high school choir about jazz in about a week and she wanted to see what part of my presentation was about to make sure it was appropriate for her level of students. Sure, no prob. especially since I live close to town. I was running late per my usual.

I finally found the place up the mountain side. Beautiful buildings, beautiful views! Stunning. I was actually very excited to be there. I walked into the school with my ID in my purse, a large black bag that contained my computer and other aides I would need like projector screen hook ups and flyers etc. The desk for visitors to sign in at wasn't real clear. There were a few folks standing around it. One lady in particular was blocking what looked to be a sign in sheet.

She was gabbing, on and on and on and on about something or other. Trust me when I say it was nothing that important. After standing there, making myself more late than I already was, for a few minutes, I said, Excuse me, I am here to see someone. She turned to look at me, gave me a look of disgust, and turned back around. The woman behind the desk repeated what she did. They both continued talking.

A few more minutes passed and I finally said, look, I'm sorry to interrupt, but I really need to get to the meeting with this woman. Can you please help me, I'm sure I need to sign in. The woman said, who do you want to see. I told her what this was about and she snapped and said, "Other building, either walk through or drive around." then she put her feet back up on the desk and went back to her chatting. Ten minutes later I found teh building (not self explanatory) and walked in. Another kid in the hall was just as rude.


I finally found the classroom and the teacher, who had told me it was a planning period, was in class, paid very little attention to me when she did sit down with me, even though I offered to come back at a different time and she said it was okay, didn't know the first thing about who I was and what I was doing even though she hired me and asked if I had knew what jazz was.


I left bewildered, confused, upset (I sure am glad this wasn't a school I'm attending or teaching at for safety reasons and am worried for those kids) and sorry that I have to go back next week. I'll up date you more later with how it goes.

What are your thoughts? Should they have been more strict with me when I entered? I look innocent enough and of course, I wasn't going to hurt anyone...but most people look normal...

Yours in fear, fumbling around and funneling thoughts,


Friday, September 11, 2009


Dear Doug,

It's been a while since I thought about you, maybe a few minutes, a day, a year or even five years, I'm not exactly sure how long. But somehow, you're always appearing in small ways, here and there, a glimpse, a siren song...and even though I don't hear from you any longer, I know you know that I love you, always have and always will as we were friends until the very end although our communication was lost. The bravery you showed on that day will not be forgotten, not only by your friends and family, but by the world. You're in my thoughts, wherever you are, and I hope one day we'll all meet again for a few cheap beers, some really bad hockey and really good laughs.

All my love,


Shin Splints, Split Ends and Heavyweights

Quote of the Day:
The leading cause of death of fashion
models is falling through street grates.
~Dave Barry

Current Local Weather:
Fall. Air. Crispy and cool with a renewed
sense of self blowing in from the NW

Currently on my iPOD:
"Wake Up Call"
Maroon 5
Won't Be Soon Before Long

Dear Friends, Family and my Family of Friends,

Yeah, yeah, it's been a bit, but take pity on me and my poor wrists. The MS, as you probably guessed by my last post in August, is done. I'm awaiting a fly-by red-inking gift from my editor and last I heard from her the edits were going slow but well. I guess that's good, right? Someone? Reassurance please? I still worry that she'll come back with a...hmm, not quite what I wanted, either redo or get out. Upon asking Super Agent G if this had happened to anyone he knew or had represented he said, well..not yet.

What have I been up to in the meantime?

1) Trimming split ends and waxing brows. Learning how to regain that thing called self-esteem and wearing more than pajamas around the house.

2) Learning how to walk again. What? I have two legs? They move? WTF? Who invented this? Amazingly enough, when you sit on your a** for a few weeks, rather 9 months or so, your muscle mass goes out the window. I used to be able to run a 5K a day. Now, walking over 30 minutes a day produces the most awful shin splints in the world. So I'm doing sit ups and more and walking, etc. Must get back in shape.

3) Dieting. When you sit on your a** as mentioned above, your a** gets calories and late night snacking or say early 4am snacking or your fifth breakfast of the day snacking benefits on an almost exclusive basis. Now that I've won the a** the size of Montana contest and can wear that crown with pride, I'm going to have to fork it over to some other hapless writer on a deadline. Starting NOW.

4) Refocusing on a new project or two...or four. Yep, they're coming at me like crazy. Can't say it's a terribly bad thing to be a writer who has working ideas or works in progress... I know, I know, I'm a fool for starting up already, but life is WAY TOO SHORT to not do this. One includes a much anticipated cook book that will be self-published and sold as a fund raiser for my scholarships for the retreats. Look for it around the Holidays.

5) Forging ahead with the last minute logistics for the retreats. This October is going to be a MUCH needed break and FUN. That little three letter word that I used to know. We actually used to be friends! I've got a GREAT group of peeps joining me in the mountains and a staff to be reckoned with. Looking forward to hanging with each of them and getting to know them.

6) Working on school presentations for the Rocky Mountain Author Fest. This should be great. I'm presenting lessons on communication and listening using jazz to 87 fifth graders and a gaggle of high schoolers during the first week of October.

That's it for now I guess...I'm off to do an interview for the next book..more on that soon. For all of those who asked about what it was like to finish the book and see it through to this stage...well, it wasn't easy. Actually it was MUCH more difficult than I had anticipated it being. I like to compare it to moving. You've got the truck all packed and you're ready to go, you stop back in the house to do one more round of odds and ends and you realize you have a whole truck load of those odds and ends to pack hiding in corners. I still feel like I have things that are missing or edits I overlooked or pieces missing etc. At one point I was looking over the draft and realized I had left out 30 artists that I had cut out to edit and put back in but failed on that last step. OOPS.

They made it back in...

The other difficulty I ran into is the coordination of the book. Hundreds of jazz artists, their managers, mailing legal forms and whatnot was a task I had grossly underestimated. I would have hired ten assistants had I known what it was going to be like those last few weeks. I was to the point where I would sleep for thirty-forty minutes and get back up and write for 4-6 hours and then repeat it. Everyonce in a while I'd sleep for 6 hours and then stay up for 24. I'm still tired.

But it's done.



Except for edits, of course.

How are you guys? Something more informative and fun next time, will rap on the Vail Jazz Fest and my adventures with Wycliff, Super Agent G and Gal Pal Deb.

Yours in Slight Disorientation, Shotty Blogging and Sunny Days Ahead,


Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Quote of the Day:
Anything worth doing, is worth doing half-assed until
someone realizes what you're doing and yells at you...


Current Local Forecast:
Chance of expected prideful smiles, 90% with a 100%
chance of Postpartum Manuscript depression

Currently on my iPod:
Pretend I Don't Exist(bonus track)
"My One and Only Thrill"
Melody Gardot

It's about damn time...more later...

And yes, if you're guessing or thinking what I think you're thinking...then you're right.

Yours in achieving the seemingly impossible, actually losing my sanity(at least twice) and
asking for some time to sleep...


Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Quote of the Day:
The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human

being can alter his life by altering his attitude.
~William James

Current Local Forecast:
A dense and foggy haze
casts shadows on storms of
clarity and vision.

Currently on my iPod:
Makes Me Wonder
Maroon 5

This is going to be short, as I must get it out of my system before this mess of tears drowns me. Within a 48 hour period, I've had seemingly normal folks turn into fire breathing, self-esteem kidnapping dragons. I am on deadline this week. I have put a lifetime worth of work into this book and then some, over the last year and a half. Not that I expect instant praise or anything near that assumption, but to treat someone with complete and utter disdain and a lack of faith, is beyond me. Even a complete lack of response, at this point, is worse than a reply saying they don't want to be a part of the project. I did not work this hard to have it blow up in my face...this is for a book that in the long run can only help jazz. I am sorry that I even began this monstrous undertaking. No wonder there aren't others out there doing the same. It's crystal clear why jazz isn't doing so good. I'm not sure why this is happening nor do I know if I'll be able to recover my esteem or dignity after this is said and done.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

In Simple Reply


If I get another threat because of this post, your email will be sent to the police. Free speech is the essence of our country.***

This is in reply to a blog on Darcy James Argue's Secret Society Site:

...a little about me.
I’m a chick, under the age of 33, sleeveless shirts just aren’t my thing and I write about jazz in a very serious way. My last name does not end in Blumenthal, Yanow, or Ratliff.

I am a jazz writer, despite the opinion of others who share this title.
I have broken through this "glass ceiling," in a very big way.

My first book, the New Face of Jazz ( is due out in the summer of 2010. And I DID NOT get this by blowing an editor or my looks. I got here through doing honest hard work and I've done it in a little over a year. (over 400 interviews with musicians around the country, traveling over 4 of these months, compiling a manuscript of over 120K words and an appendix that makes jazz accessible to the layman in over a dozen cities around the U.S.) I’ve been working on writing for quite a while and this doesn’t mean I've only been a "fan or critic" of jazz for a year either. Hardly.

I stepped on the scene as a player in college. I was a jazz studies major at the University of North Florida I played trumpet, lead trumpet to be exact. Don't play much anymore, but that's fine with me. I love to write. Google my name and you’ll see. I grew up with jazz all around me. It's a part of my DNA. I'm also white. I am not a ball busting bitch nor do I dress butch.

Now, I'm not accusing you guys of saying this at all. BUT. I've been through the ringer with the boys club, and I have the feeling it's only getting started, seeing as my pub. date isn't even until next summer. (We're working on cover art now and edits)

So where do I begin?

Let's start with sarcasm, move to biting humor, you know, the kind that leads to bloodletting and end on a note we can probably all agree on.

The can read my reply to his words, if you even want to call them that, are sitting online beneath him as comments. Was he drunk? Maybe he was being a self-righteous bastard who deserves to live in the bowels of writing hell. I’ve sent out an email to every woman in jazz I know and even those in the pop, hip-hop world and more that will hopefully strike against this asshole. Including Maria herself. She is someone I consider a gift to artists everywhere. I’ve spoken with her a few times and not once would I consider her anything less. Diversity? Yeah, whatever.

For the record, I've written better reviews (and I’m not one to go willy-nilly on bragging, but I think anyone with a writing skill level over the age of six or seven could qualify to say this too) and articles for certain jazz establishments and been told to rewrite or no thanks. Again and again and again. Then I’ve been ignored repeatedly when emailing the said person I was supposed to email and finally got a disgruntled, harried response basically saying nothing but we'll deal with you later. I've asked/queried, even with the recommend of a well known jazz writer for other established publications/circles etc and been blatantly ignored, dismissed, or told to direct my concerns regarding subscriptions elsewhere.

So where does that leave the “female jazz critic?” Bare armed and alone with her stiff movements.

My own take on Maria’s music, since a couple of you have addressed this, is this: She lends a deeply personal and spiritual level to even the most simple melodies thus making them relatable to almost anyone. Each musicians she pens reaches with an individual touch, turn or brush of the beat. She’s the one person that changed my mind about what jazz could be. She is also the person who taught me that I had a long way to go as far as my listening skills. Even if a musician or listener does not agree with her music, they can not deny the skill she demonstrates in her sustained and remarkable craft.

Issue at hand: A lot of the musicians I spoke with throughout my journey writing this book, and these were not fluff interviews, spoke of racism, financial issues, and the lack of respect among our culture at large. Not a single male spoke about the lack of females in the art. Not a single male musician I met in my early days as a musician, unless my gig bag was slung across my back, thought I was a horn player. I was obviously the singer. Right?

It hasn’t changed much. When I first started out as a jazz writer it seemed like it was going to be the same. I had a few believers. Marcus Printup, Doug Wamble, and Vince Gardner, whom I know very well, believed in me. They said sure, come on out to NY, we’ll talk. I relied on known contacts to get to those I didn’t know...I slowly was able to infiltrate inner circles. But what I got was not exactly friendly fire.

I heard everything from comments such as, hmm, imagine that, a white girl writing about jazz all the way to, what do you want, a picture with me? or had I known you smelled or looked like that we could have spoken a lot longer etc...So you ask, where are all the female jazz critics?

I’m still standing.
I’m sure there are others.
There’s got to be.

It took me MONTHS to get over this. Not personally, but professionally. When a certain jaded and tainted and manufactured presence is placed upon your shoulders, that weight begins to cause indentations that cut all the way down to your fucking bones. But my bones didn’t break. I had a support system of men and women, sitting on top of the world, waiting, marching in place, thank god.

The women I interviewed weren’t catty, snarky, or any of the other attributes many paint us as having. Many of them are mothers, some grandmothers, sisters, at the very least to eachother, and in ways beyond words, already connected to one another. They have the same common and dire need as the men I interviewed. One of connection, human connection, the need for respect and to get rid of that sense of futility the material world tends to shelter and harbor artists through and out of. It’s difficult enough to succeed in this world without other issues slapping you in the face. Being a woman shouldn’t be one of them. Sure, if you can’t play, regardless of your sex, hit the shed and work on your craft. Don’t sleep with the manager/director/CEO whatnot. Only thing that buys you is an STD and a plate of fertilized and over-easy eggs before the door hits your ass, if you’re lucky. It most certainly does not earn you a career and/or the respect of your peers.

But every woman also spoke of being assumed the less talented one in the group, the least likely one to get called for gigs, unless it involved little to no clothing, last to get called to solo, the inherit lack of mentorship and encouragement past a certain age of those that are considered masters and the disconnect that is going on with the community of artists at large.

Why are women not nurtured and taken under the wings of some of the greats as the younger men are in jazz or in writing or even in the business world? Would everyone really assume we’re sleeping with them or out to bust balls or whatever term? Would it be taboo or would the men’s wives be so insecure they couldn’t handle that closeness as artists? Who knows what the answer really is, but the way I see it, its the mindset that’s been beaten into us through the media, the mass-marketed self-help books, diet worlds and more as children, teenagers and adults that’s hurting us.

Women’s lib did a world of good for a little while, Martin Luther King did a world of good for a little while, Rosa Parks did a world of good for a small amount of time too. But as we’ve seen, these issues will ALWAYS creep up if we let them. Unless there are innovators that come along and say fuck you, I’m sick of waiting on you/the system/others to change like those mentioned above did, we’ll always be stuck in this position.

So you ask, and I’m not apologizing for my tirade, as it needed to be said, what is it that dissuades the females from entering the music field as a critic? Hmmm, nothing. Not a single thing. We’re out there, we’re writing our asses off and I’m just one hard working gal that happened to attract the attention of the kind editors at Random House with a high concept pitch that also happens to give a hell of a lot of myself in order to see the jazz world thrive. It’s up to the writer’s, artists etc, regardless of sex, race and age to become the most vibrant, tenacious and visible counterparts to those already succeeding in any field in order to obtain the most visible work. I don’t even think we have to work harder, we just have to figure how much shit, just like every other adult I know, we can live being full of, and then purge the rest.

Women need to appreciate themselves for their own traits and attributes and then, and only then, will others, including other women be able to move on. Will this keep me from dressing nice and smelling nice, taking pride in who I am and my womanly side and making sure nice images are up at all times in my place in the public eye, certainly not. I have a level of dignity that needs to be kept. If those that have and expect that same level of dignity to be held in honor of their own names would just follow the simple rule, even those that review others and critique others, we wouldn’t have a need for this discussion today.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Quote of the Week:

There are only two types of women-goddesses and doormats.
~Pablo Picasso

Local Weather:
Sunshine, despite the lack of warmth
most likely followed by showers of
undigested food particles in the late evening.

Currently on my IPOD:
People are Strange by: The Doors

Hello my dear friends,

I am home. And as Benjamin Franklin says, Fish and Relatives smell in three days. I have been gone for seven in Georgia. Deduce what you want from that statement. Although I must say I am not sure if they were the ones with the stench, I have the feeling it was me...

Regardless, this was not an uneventful week. First off, the plane ride over to Georgia from Denver is not a short one. Coming in at around 3 hours, there are times in which I wish the pilots would just speed it up to around Warp Speed and get us the duck out of fodge.

However....people on this day decided to travel with their children. I did learn that I have surprisingly poor super power abilities to make myself and the others around me invisible. I failed. Miserably failed. And guess what. The others who were traveling with children...they were seated to my left and then to the immediate rear of me.

Let’s address the issue of the children sitting behind me first. Two boys. Two boys around the ages of say...hmmm...7 & 5. One boy: Blonde, rowdy and into the whole hair pulling thing. The other one: Brunette, Pissed off and into the whole biting thing. I won’t distinguish which was which. The mother: Looked fairly normal. Now, I don’t have boys, but still. The second the plane boarded in its entirety, she handed them brownies or some kind of other Little Debbie Snack cake in a plastic wrapper. They finished the delicacy within the confines of processed foods and then the fighting started. Not the no I didn’t, yes you did, no I didn’t sort, it was more of ultimate fighting championship ala Airtran Airlines. My seat was bucking, going back and forth and the airline pilot was managing to keep the plane as steady as I had yet to experience.

Then the biting started. I think one of them drew blood from the other. At least it was beginning to smell like blood. Status on the mother: Silent, reading her book. I thought for a brief moment, good for her, ignoring them, letting them kill themselves without her help. And then it was time for the drink service. The hapless air waitresses came down our section of the flight, offering a bevy of plastic cups that aren’t recycled and a limited selection of drinks and snacks, most of which dehydrate you further while you are flying. (***Nurse Cicily says: Dehydration is a known problem during flying, next time you’re en route and enjoying the entertainment of those around you,choose the water and skip the pretzels and or peanuts. You can order vodka or gin..if you have the money, just make sure you follow it with water) I ordered my water, threw the peanuts into the carry on bag for a later date and thought that maybe the three ring circus behind me would settle in for a drink.

Yeah, fat chance.

No, they didn’t want the peanuts and yes, that’s all the ladies had to offer. The mother smacks the older kid upside the head and says, wadda ya want? at the top of her lungs. He screams back, Cherry Coke. Oh dear hell. Caffeinated, dehydrating fluids. My index like brain quickly ran over the side effects. Irritability, excessive venerability and possible death by bludgeoning from the unsuspecting quiet red head in the seat in front of him. The next boy...ordered the same. Then the two boys proceeded to scream that they didn’t want the healthy shit their mother was offering them. I peaked behind my seat and found them throwing the nutri-grain simulated nutritional bars she had just tossed their way, onto the floor. The younger one even ground the bar into the floor with his untied shoe.

The older kid was, at this point, grabbing his brother in the head lock he had promised him a few minutes previous to the beverage service and the drink spilled all over the floor. I was waiting for candid camera to pop up or my magical stun gun to appear in my hand. The mother finally turned to them, and through her gritted teeth mouth, said, if you don’t stop now, I’ll take away your M&M’s.

Yeah, stick it to em’. WTF?

I would have killed them and easily taken the jail sentence or corporal punishment. On the way out of the plane, they pushed, shoved and screamed their way out to the ramp. The mother, screamed back, wait, wait up. Helpless little kittens, oh, how they have lost their mittens. Right? The oldest boy turned around and said, I don’t have to listen to you anyway, you’re my step-mom.

BINGO! Doormat # 1, we have a winner.

So, as I ramble on and on, I come to the uncertain fate of the woman next to me and her seemingly angelic little girl. The girl had ringlets, yes, real ringlets, pouring down from her scalp to her shoulders. Her light and unblemished skin aged her to be around 2 or 3 at the very most. She had a pacifier in and for most of the ride. Nearing the end of my patience with the boys from hell behind me, she woke up, plucked her pacifier out of her mouth and threw it across the aisle. At me. I picked it up, offered the mother to go rinse it off and then the girl said NO! I want it now! The mom looked at me and smiled. I forked over the pacifier without saying a word. The little girl then looked at her mom and screamed, I WANT OUT OF HERE NOW!!!! Sure, most kids get frightened on their first flights and may get a little claustrophobic like the adults in the cabin who didn't have the five bucks to buy the 0.02 oz of vodka to go in their sprite or cran-apple juice...I digress. Then the little girl got up, ran around the aisles and started to scream at the adults.

This flight was not a late night flight. This was not a red-eye flight.

The mom just sat there and took it. Yeah, I wouldn’t have been so kind. Not that I am one to completely duct tape my children to the chair or anything, but come on! Be responsible and keep your kids under control.

Okay, enough about that. Sorry, my rant went on longer than I expected. And as for the last part of my weather forecast? Yeah, Saturday night went out with some friends and got the worst case of food poisoning in my life. I still have not stopped with the nausea or the product of nausea. I don’t think it’ll ever end. My stomach feels as though its been hole punched by some mutant bacteria.

I’m sure I’ll survive, but you better tune in next week to make sure I do...

Oh, and don’t forget to check out my retreat site: Writing Away Retreats. Would love to see you all there!

Yours in Fabulous Parenting, Food Fights and Fussing Over Nothing,

*Repeating my oldies until the MS is done. If you'd like to guest blog on here, let me know, you're more than welcome to contribute until I get done! And don't forget, your registrations for Writing Away Retreats need to be filled out!*

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Guest Blogger: Rebecca Emrich: Writing Retreats.

Greetings to all who read Cicily's blog. My name is Rebecca Emrich and I'm guest blogging for her today.

She once asked me if I would write about writing retreats and well, That is what my topic is about. Writing Retreats are possibly the best way to recharge your mind and soul. Now, it doesn't have to be elaborate, or long. It just has to be something that means a lot for you.

I have to admit I've never gone on a writing retreat. Yes, I have taken writing classes through Gotham and Writers Online Workshops, These classes helped me a lot in my growth as a writer. Then Cicily emailed me about her blog, which is by the way, one you should follow. It' packed with vital information and a valuable edition for writers. The question I asked myself was how would a retreat help my growth as a writer?

So much more than I could imagine. I also learned that you don't have to go fancy, but you need to make sometime, for yourself as a writer. This is a job right? You want to do well in the twin careers of writing and publishing. You want to make some connections or find a place where you can sit and write for as long as is needed.

Some people have in the past started out with simply a room of one's own where they could write. This works great provided you aren't like me with two very small curious children. So The next step is a home away from home without the children, say in a hotel. Again a great idea, provided that you aren't spending the week with the TV on or the money on phone bills calling home or worse... spending time in a spa, when you should be writing.

That leaves one option: Writing retreats. Now I'd love to go on one myself, since I know what a intense time it is. If you are serious about writing go to one. I'll say this, don't pick any simply because they seem good. I think the best thing that needs to come out is having editors and professions in your field there. It also needs to be a long enough time where you can get work done. And NO distractions, just writing.

My main point is Writing Retreats are a must at some point.

Now a Question for you: what would it take to make your writing go to the next level?

-Rebecca Emrich

**Thanks Rebecca for your insight and words. You're welcome to guest blog with me anytime!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Hey guys and gals,

My usual blog will be up and running with a post from a guest next week and then my usual schtick will be here before you know it. Finishing a manuscript is MUCH harder than I thought it would be.

But. I have to do it.

It's almost there. A few more weeks and voila' the New Face of Jazz should be in the hands of my editor.

For now, I'll guest blogging later this week on Brian Knight's blog, The New Author. And don't just go there to read my posting, read through all of his works on there. They're insightful and offer invaluable advice to the new writer/author.

Thanks again to Brian for having me.

Yours in Finishing What you Started, Finding Your Worth and Finally Getting it.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Guest Blogger: Brian Knight "You Have a Blog...Now What?"

Good day, my name is Brian Knight and I am the creator of the New Author. Before I begin I want to thank Cicily for inviting me to guest blog today. When talking to Cicily about today's topic she suggested I write about blogging and how to develop a following for your blog. As I am not a professional at this I do have some knowledge and experience to share so let's jump in and have some fun.

You've spent hours maybe days generating a great looking blog. You have all the widgets, subscriber links, and even a nice looking photo of yourself neatly organized around that big empty spot in the middle of your blog. With that done there is only one thing left to do...write your first blog post. This is the moment of truth where many will freeze as they wonder what to write. Does this sound familiar? Don't worry, you are not alone if it does.

A blog can be a great tool for networking, building a platform and/or getting your voice heard. However, it takes work and effort to achieve these things. Remember the old saying "Rome wasn't built in a day"? The same thing holds true to blogs and websites. How do you create an attractive, fun, informative blog? These are a few things to keep in mind:

Pick a topic you are passionate about.
Allow your imagination to run free and have fun with your blog.
Engage the reader.

Okay, that makes sense and they are easy enough to do. Are they really? I think we should look at these a little closer.

All three are very important but it all starts with a topic you are passionate about. Your readers will see and feel your passion within your words when you are truly passionate about that topic. However, your passion will also pull you through on those tough days when you really don't feel the words flowing and you can't seem to get an idea for a post. There have been days when I could not get an idea even if my life depended on it but it is at these times when my passion for writing kicks in and before I know it there is a 600 word article before my eyes ready to post. This is why passion is important in more ways then one.

Readers want to be entertained and mentally stimulated. Yes, your blog presentation will gain their attention for a brief moment it will be your words that bring them back. Allow your imagination to run free and have fun with both your set-up and your posts. Your imagination will keep your blog fresh and energized. Don't be afraid to try new things like a contest, workshop, guest bloggers, or whatever you think would be fun to do. Once you establish a fun and energetic atmosphere around your blog it will take on a life of it's own. People will be drawn to it because they will want to read it.

As true as it is that readers want fun, informative posts it is also true that they don't want to be lectured or read posts from a person who presents themselves as a know-it-all. I believe a good blog is one that resembles a community whereas everyone shares success stories, failures, frustrations and lends support. As creator of the blog it is your job to facilitate that by writing articles about your own success, failure, frustrations and call/lend support. These aspects can be blended into informative posts as you show what that particular information means to everyone (including you) reading it.

One final thing, when your blog is up and running you want to draw attention to it until the buzz spreads on it's own. How do you do that? Visit other blogs and leave comments, add comments in forums similar to your blog topic, join other networking sites such as LinkedIn and/or Twitter (remember to subscribe to your blog so your posts will also be seen on these sites) and include the address to your blog in your e-mails you send out.

If you would like more information about blogging and promoting your blog check out this article.

Brian Knight
The New Author
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Everyone go check out what Brian has to say on his blog, The New Author. Named one of the very best and most actually useful writer's resources on the web by predators and editors polls, he's got information you need to know. Thanks Brian for being a part of my blog.