Tuesday, April 28, 2009

May I correct myself

Dear all,

I have comments regarding my comments on Romance writing. What I meant to get across was that I was VERY judgmental of Romance when I should not have been, hence my words, that's what I thought they were when the LAST TIME I READ IT WAS 1990 and I should have given it another thought and not been that way at all... Thanks for reading guys.


Monday, April 27, 2009

This I Believe and Wish For You

Quote of the Day:
It's not who you are that holds you back,
It's who you think you're not...

Current Local Forecast:
Streams of excitement falling in droves
from the spring/summer/winter-like weather
due to
impending retreats.

Currently on my iPod:
Serene Renegade by
Rene Marie
(If you haven't heard this song...listen. NOW. I gave you the link,
no excuse. Besides, this blog is best read with this song as it's soundtrack...)

Hey guys!

I've been meaning to blog about this for a while now and this weekend prompted me to do so. At the Pikes Peak Writer's Conference on Sunday afternoon a wonderful woman, Barbara Samuel, spoke about believing. Yes, I cried. You would have too. I believe ALL of us were, even Bret Wright. She made a great point. You can't stop, especially when the worst of it is bleeding you dry, believing in who you are and what you stand for. What do you believe in? Who do you believe in? Why do you believe in these things? NPR has a WONDERFUL program titled, This I Believe. Essays about the human condition, the beliefs of people from all walks of life come together on this show and in the voices of the people who wrote them which is why it's one of my particular favorites...

What stood out about Barbara? Well, the fact that I'm usually and unusually biased AGAINST romance writers is the first thing. I was judging her before I set foot in the luncheon. I thought, great, what does a romance writer have to say? What ON EARTH could she say that would speak to me. I don't know what I was thinking she would say, maybe, this is how you write a love scene and make it steamy? How to plague readers with mediocre dialogue revolving around love that doesn't exist in real life? In reality, I haven't read a single romance book since about 1990. So, why should I judge? Why should I believe something to be true when it's probably not and I should just let it roll off of my chipped, cracked, jaded and sometimes rotten shoulders. Right? Yep. So, Cicily is not going to bitch about Romance books anymore. Next year, Chris, I'll be happy to help coach them on pitching. What the hell is wrong with me?

I'm going to just spell it out, my beliefs, so I know myself. Why not take this beautiful and genuine look from one woman and create an exercise into personal insight. I think we could all stand to do this from time to time, keep ourselves in check with what we believe and make sure we're really STANDING TALL with our beliefs and not
falling down against them.

I believe in the power of positive thinking. Sometimes when you think you're going to die, you might just die mentally. It's amazing how those that are ACTUALLY dying begin to think that they're not dying and living in the total contrary of what others expect of them and they perk up. That pale skin falls away and a light begins to shine. So why should I not think positively?

I believe in the power of a woman. Women are grossly underestimated, yes, yes, they are....even today. I have seen it in every way, shape and form. I even believed it myself and about myself. I no longer believe in the lies, I believe in the truth. We are beautiful, each one of us, and if we start to believe it's not true, then it will become that way for you.

I believe in the brute force and power of friends. When was the last time I cried? uh, yeah, yesterday. Hmmm...When was the last time I cried and a good friend couldn't get me out of it or at least give me his/her shoulder to dampen that damn sobbing wreckage of a soul? Why live your life without them? Friends...the Deb Courtney's, Travis Erwin's, Chris Mandeville's, Sue Mitchell's, Jene Jackson's, Rene Marie's, Henry Hey's, Doug Wamble's, Ned Radinsky's, Gary Heidt's and Carrie Morris's of the world can save your life...and have in my case. If you don't have any then by-god go get you some. Or get back in touch with the ones you did have! Get over what's between you two and realize that they might just be the one person who is left when all is said and done.

I believe I can accomplish anything I want to. Marathons? Uh, yeah, Probably not. But I haven't REALLY tried for it. So until I have tried and miserably failed over and over and over again, I can't say that I can't do it! So for now, probable nots are better than definite nots.

I believe love really does conquer all. All fears, all loss, all pain, all excitement, all ego, all things wrong and right. Call me what you want, but this is a very powerful belief.

I believe a wish can take you to places you've never been. Holding onto that hope, that wish, that chance you take with your conscience everytime you believe a wish could come true, you've taken a chance and a step towards making that happen for yourself. Blow out your candles every single day.

I believe there is someone greater than all of us out there. He's watching out and guiding the path for me and you and everyone I know.

I believe there is a time in which all of my friends, family and strangers of which I have yet to call friend will be successful in whatever they call success. Defining success is not something that's particularly easy to do. Right now, most of us, if you take monetary means as a definition of success are failing. Or at least most of the people I know are. But true success is, at least in my mind, the fact that in two days my girlfriend Cheryl, who happens to be a brilliant writer, is going to join me in Albuquerque and we're going to pick up a bunch of folks who are generously giving their time to perpetuate careers in the arts all at my coordination. Success is also the fact that I'm sitting here with a roof, a bed, a full (too full) belly and water to drink at my side without the want for anything else.

So here's my wish for you, I wish you would write down your beliefs. Write them down so you too can read them outloud, see them in print or on the screen and then maybe, just maybe you'll start to believe them too. For just thinking that you're believing something just isn't good enough. KNOWING you're believing something is what it's all about. Comment if you like. I always want to hear what you have to say.

Yours in beliefs, brushing the world with your dreams and bar tabs that have been paid and paid for.


PS: I'm leaving you with a poem/song lyrics/sweet loveliness of one of the women I believe in the most. The song you MUST buy, Wishes, (link up at the top of the blog) is below. Believe in yourself and let those wishes go from your mind and spirit and soul to the page. You might just start believing that those wishes are no longer intangible truths...instead are your reality.

by: Rene Marie

Sitting in a cafe, amidst the smoke and perfume,
My coffee cups my ashtray and I'm way past my bloom.
The last lonely woman's wishes are still on my glass
and I'm just another in a long line...moving fast.

I wish you would touch me
I wish you'd leave me the hell alone.

And all how I wish this crutch didn't leave
such an imprint in my bones.

All these half-assed wishes stretched across the
stars lead to angry men in cocktail bars.

And if wishes were horses, beggars would ride,
if Wishes were lovers, I'd have a 1000 at my side
if wishes were happiness, I'd be smiling right now
and if wishes were answers....

Sometimes I wish, I was still young,
wish I could turn this spotlight
into the morning sun.

Yes, I wish I may and I wish I might,
have all these wishes I wish tonight...

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,
if wishes were lovers, I'd have 10,000 at my side
if wishes were happiness, I'd be laughing out loud.
If wishes were answers....
I'd know the truth by now...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Overdeveloped Pictures

Quote of the Day:
The world today doesn't make sense so why should I paint pictures that do?
~Pablo Picasso

Current Local Forecast:
Sunny with scattered clouds for the next few minutes. 20% chance of
moody, irritable periods of silence exist in the 10 day outlook.

Currently on my iPod:
Chris Cheek's album: Vine
(can't stop listening to this tune, check it out)

I was interviewed this week
Listen to me here:

Dear friends, family and family of friends,

I'm back in the blogging mode. Glad to be back. Hope you all didn't suffer too much without my weekly words of wisdom. ha! Anyway, A few announcements before we get to my cryptic blog title. The website for Writing Away Retreats will be updated this week. We're having two 5 day retreats in October back to back. You can stay at both for a slight but well worth it increase in price if you really need the time away.

The house is in Breckenridge, CO and is gorgeous.
Not to mention, I have an all star staff. I'm sooooo excited to work with them. They include: Author and Editor, Signe Pike of Plume/Pengui
n, Kate Gale of Red Hen Press, Editor, Mike Signorelli of Harper Collins, Scott Hoffman of Folio Lit Agency, Sorche Fairbank of Fairbank Literary Agency, Matt Marinovich author of Strange Skies from Harper Collins, Eddie Schnieder of JaBberwocky Lit. Agency among others, and of course, ME! :)

Enough of that.

So, processing pics. Yeah, I know, it's a thing of the past. I don't think anyone born after the year 2000 will ever know what it's like to not have instant picture gratification. Remem
ber those little receptacles in the middle of the parking lot of the Big Lion and Piggly Wiggly shopping centers where you deposited canisters containing memories and walked away 2.5 days later with beautiful 3X5's of your favorite overdeveloped people? I do. But what we should really be thinking of now, is the bigger picture of who we are. Are we overdeveloped? Are we developed against the backdrops of fake and delusional scenery in an Olan Mills life?

*these are not real people, they just play them on blogs.*

Anyway...hyper-pigmented and overprocessed lives. Take a look at the bigger picture. I've spent way too much time with myself lately. Writing, working on my writing, writing on writing and writing for fun when the writing got old. It's a solitary profession at best and I'm starting to believe my literary agent is actually my best friend.
Gary, I love you. Yeah, okay, I'll retract that in fear of losing his hand holding sessions for good. I'm weaning myself from his apron strings, slowly. VERY slowly as not to cause uncontrollable bleeding from the eyeballs.

Regardless, I think we should all rethink the bigger picture of our own lives. I did. It worked. For the most part at least it's worked very well. What is your bigger picture? Now, I'm not talking about American Idol. Not that there's anything, well there is, I retract that statement too. There is something very wrong with the almighty AI. The very idea that success comes to those that sit in line in a stadium for hours and sing in their showers only and get uber encouragement from parents and the cheerleading squad in high school is a little bit sickening. Some of these cats do have some talent and I'm not just a jaded musician saying this. But to get it "all" after a few months of "hard" work is what's wrong with this country. This just perpetuates the idea that success can come with luck and a Ford truck commercial contract. You can be everything in the world, money and all by the time you're 20 years old. Sure. Go for it. Worked out well for Michael Jackson and that Britney chick...

Why does everything have to be about a mass-marketable and commercialized competition? Imagine if the literary world was like that. Oh wait, Amazon is doing that! (btw...vote for Travis Erwin's Plundered Booty on Amazon's competition. Period. It's BY FAR the best one up there.) But Amazon is taking novels, which take sweat, gallons and years of, and hard work and more hard work and putting them to the test of the Literate public. Not just the cell phone carrying 12 yr. olds who think some kid is cuter than the others. What happened to the hard work ethics of this country? What happened to valuing the arts as a foundation for our future? This is what the bigger picture is all about, not just the, I-want-to-retire-by-the-time-I'm-23-outlook-on-the-socially-and-mentally-acceptable-weather-channel of our time. Without the arts and the lack f TV, we're going to become senseless, imaginationless idiots.

Why Cicily, you're a bitter b****. If you're thinking this about now, you'd be right or at least I can say I'm getting there fast. I've been observing, waiting, taking notes and names for a whole year. What has resounded through my core is that I've seen WAY too many people who are in WAY too much of a hurry to develop their bigger picture. I'm not talking about the jazz musicians. They are the antithesis of this. They are reverant in their time management skills and painstakingly watch the days go by in hopes that one day, they'll be as good as the founders of the craft.

For the rest of us, remember that taking your time to see what develops in your core, your soul is part of the fun. Process what you really want to do and then write it down. Process what you know you DON"T want to do and then write that down too. Make a list of the pro's and con's and then write those down too. Write until you're blue in the fingers and eyes and head and every other thinking part of you. It's a great therapeutic regimen and is WAY cheaper than any drug or therapist with a fancy leather couch in his/her office. It's the way I started writing and hey, what works for me, might work for you. At least it's worth a try.

I don't think I really knew what I was going to do until about 5 years ago when I began to take writing seriously. Before then I was a student in the big university of life. How would I begin to know what questions to ask my interview subjects had I not been observant about my own actions and learned from mistakes and lessons, both good and bad? I wasn't trying a get rich quick scheme, standing in line to see if my fractured voice would be good enough for the Simon Cowell's of the world or primping in the mirror in hopes to land a sugar daddy. (although if one comes along, I may still consider that as a viable option.) Living life, not in front or through your television or computer pixels is the only viable option as far as I'm concerned. It's also, in my opinion, the only way we're going to begin to fix the horrendous mess we're in as far as the state of arts and culture in our country.

Living life and processing, very slowly, our own lives, is the only way to learn how to communicate with others, to learn how to listen properly and to learn how to live amongst the living. LYAO AND LMAOROFLMAO is NOT communication. Texting is NOT communication unless you're trying to find someone on the streets of NYC and you've taken the subway, the WRONG way for the millionth time and you're late for a meeting with a kind soul that is forgiving you every second you're late. Speak up, listen up and realize that this world is not existing only for you, you have to make it what you want it to be and the only way to do that is through hard work and a fully realized, developed, mature and beautiful self.

I feel better now.

Hope you guys have a great week. Comment as you wish.

Yours in Developing, Desserted Drunken Rampages and Drowning in Pop Culture Wastelands,


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I'm back....

Quote of the Day:
I think somehow we learn who we really are and
then live with that decision.

~Eleanor Roosevelt

Current Local Weather:
Clearing skies with high probability
of tremendously loud and dense failure and
success lying around every corner.

Currently on my IPOD:
Single Ladies (Club Remix)

If not, email me at newfaceofjazzmailinglist (@) gmail.com
with your name in the subject line and we'll take it from there.

Hey Guys...I know...has been a while since I've done an actual post. So here ya go...I'm back.

I have to say, this process has changed me. Writing a book is hard. VERY hard. It's probably, other than childbirth, the most difficult thing I've ever done and I'm not even done with it! If you didn't read the previous post, my book The New Face of Jazz has been picked up by Random House/Crown's imprint, Watson-Guptill. Expected Publication date will be in the fall of 2010. It's a way's off, but in the grand scheme of things, it's moving very fast.

As for what I've been up to, I've spent the better part of a year listening to others speak about their lives, their fears, their struggles/challenges and their ideas on how to transition the future generations back into an acceptable place in our culture and society all in the name of writing this book. It's crazy what you can learn by doing this. When was the last time you actually, I mean REALLY, sat down and listened to someone else's story? Yeah, I thought so....

At times, I helped them find the words they had lost. Other times, I dodged flying accusations of being a critic and wanting to sabotage the jazz community. Yet, it's because of this I've changed in ways I never thought I would have or never expected to have changed. My life will never be the same. Passion is a very strong emotion and verb to set one's work ethic to, but when you begin to live by that very word or thought or at the very least, you let it push you and only that push you to get through even the tough times, it's a very powerful result, or can be.

Throughout the year, I set out to do a few interviews to capture the voice of modern jazz in America. Per my usual self, I went slightly overboard. As of now, my 400+ interviews for the book have been completed and I've found one underlying theme. This theme speaks profoundly as to our human condition and the times we live in. Even in a year of transition like this is, over 470 of these people, across racial, financial, generational, and geographical boundary lines expressed needs that were almost the EXACT same.

It can only be my hope that one person will glean affirmation in the human condition and spirit from this book. In the end, it means nothing if you don't know yourself. I believe, after all of this, that I am finally beginning to learn about me. I'm also learning to be okay with just me. Not needing an approval from others. Not needing to be with others for the wrong reasons, but being okay enough with myself so that when I am with others I can be with them for the dire need to be intimate with others thoughts. This is how, I believe, relationships are truly formed. Why it took me so damn long to get here, who knows....but I'm sure glad I'm on the trail marked with solar, organic and lovely lights as opposed to the one covered with vines and tangled weeds with only shadows guiding the way to THAT end.

Yours in Trails, Trading Places and Taking Charge of a life...My Life.

Random House, Fall, 2010