Thursday, March 28, 2013

It's the Jazziest

Tonight we went to the junior high school to watch the two 7th grade jazz bands perform. Sean played his electric guitar in the second band. The first band warmed up on stage, giving us a sort of mini-concert. By the time Sean's band performed, we'd heard the songs at least twice.

I found it interesting to note the differences in the two bands. I'm not talking about talent or which band was better than the other. This was the first time Summit offered a jazz band and while there were try outs, the talent was deep enough and the interest was large enough to compel the band director to create two bands. That's impressive by itself. What I'm referring to is how different kids in each band acted and reacted to the music they were playing. Some kids had tapping toes, intent on keeping the beat perfectly while others bobbed and swayed with the songs, obviously feeling the music.

Some of the kids played solos. They stepped up to the mike, took a breath and played. After each solo, their shoulders dropped and huge smiles burst forth as the stress of the solo was released. The audience, comprised mainly of family and friends, enthusiastically applauded every single soloist. It was enough to warm the coldest of souls.

It may  not be smart of me to admit it, but I'm not all that fond of jazz music. Aside from the fact that brass instruments trigger my migraines, I just don't find jazz music all that compelling. Tonight, however, watching the kids come to life while playing, gave me a new appreciation for this revered music genre. That reverence was only enhanced when the 8th grade band began their performance.

As they took the stage, I leaned over to my mom and said, "I'm excited to hear what a difference a year makes." Even being prepared to hear a difference, I had no idea what I was in for. The talent in the 8th grade band is astoundingly deep. This band has toured and competed across the Midwest and  one saxophone player won Outstanding Middle Grade Soloist in the University of Kansas Jazz Festival. This kid could play professionally now. The astounding thing is, he isn't the only one. This band could play professionally right now. When you consider it's made up of kids who are in their very early teens, the skill they showed tonight was amazing. We did not attend a junior high school band recital tonight. We attended a jazz concert.

On the way home, Sean was animated in the back seat of the car. Sitting next to his grandmother, he talked about getting the tunes stuck in his head, getting up early every Tuesday and Thursday in order to be ready for rehearsals at 6:45am and how nervous he was when he first went on stage but how those nerves flew away when the music started. The music fever hit and after his shower, he immediately went to his room and began playing again. Amp off, door shut, we heard a muted version of the concert we'd just left, with a few of his own riffs tossed in for fun and dare I say, to jazz it up?

The best thing about tonight? I enjoyed every minute of it and I left without a migraine!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

How Much is Too Much?

Hi God, it's me again.

I'm working on revisions for my next book. The working title is Stormy Seduction and it's a rather steamy story about a chance encounter between two people caught in a blizzard.

This whole thing started when I got a call from a publisher asking if I would be interested in writing for a new line they were starting. Let's just call this line adult content. Before that call, I'd never given any thought to writing such books but I figured I'd give it a try. So I penned the manuscript and sent it in. The book wasn't optioned because it was a traditional romance and they were looking for more bizarre storylines. To make a long story short, I cleaned it up, meaning I mostly took out the correct names for the body parts, and turned it into what my mom calls a silky thigh novel. She calls them this because inevitably the hero is running his hand up the heroine's silky thigh.

Echelon Press did option the book and we are in the editing stages now. So as I read and reread and reread this manuscript again, it made me wonder. How much is too much? Do You mind that I write hot, sexy romance books? In some ways, I think You must. You're God, after all. But on the other, I think why would You? You gave me the ability to write.  You give me my ideas and my inspiration. You are who I talk to when I'm stuck so why would You mind the styles I write?

My mind went on a wide road trip with this one. I read all sorts of books. For example, I love a good mystery. Espionage, murder, thriller, whatever. If it's well-written and I like the characters, I'm all in. So does that mean someone who writes espionage is encouraging treason or a murder mystery writer is encouraging murder? Of course not and honestly, I've never heard anyone suggest they are so why am I worried that by writing adult themed romance novels, I could be viewed as encouraging inappropriate sexual behavior?

I've read some pretty steamy books. Some of these are romance novels and some had nothing at all to do with romance or relationships. Yet it never occurred to me to wonder about the ethics or morals of those who write such novels. It never made me wonder if their parents or their children read them. If I don't think others who write steamy romance novels are immoral or somehow less Christian, why am I wondering if You think that about me writing steamy romance novels?

It's a never-ending circle. This writing thing is all in Your hands. The ability to create stories came from You and my success comes from You. Worrying about whether You like my books seems silly when I think of t like that. I no more promote sexual promiscuity with my books than a mystery writer promotes murder. Now I'm off to create more silky thigh moments. Sure hope that's okay with You.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

God's Greatest Ideas

Good morning God,

I'm sitting in my recliner with my laptop on my knees. On my side table sits a cup of cappuccino brewed by the Keurig Phil bought for my birthday last year. It's a bit cool this morning so when I came out to the living room, I flipped the switch on my gas fireplace and it's now merrily blazing away and chasing the chill from the room.

In those two sentences, I've listed off several of what I personally consider to be some of  Your finest ideas. Every coffee lover adores their Keurig. I justify my infatuation for it by purchasing teas and hot chocolates for the kids and grandkids but make no mistake, it's the perfectly brewed cup of coffee at my fingertips in seconds that makes this machine a top contender.

For the nearly 13 years we lived in the other house, I had a wood burning fireplace and I loved it. Sure, there were mishaps like the time the log rolled out and melted huge chunks of the carpet or when we got the backdraf that filled the house with smoke and a rookie firefighter had to be stopped from axing the walls to make sure the house wasn't ablaze even though the burning logs never left the fireplace. Still, there really isn't anything as lovely as the sounds and smells of a wood burning fire, is there? Indeed there is. How about the ability to flip the switch and have the fire on or off at one's convenience? If You reread some of those mishaps, You'll better understand why I never leave the fire burning if I'm not in the same room and really, how often does one spend hours in the same room without leaving it for any reason? Being able to turn off the fire so I can use the restroom or run downstairs to get another book or maybe even run to Starbucks (one of Your very best ideas, no less), is more than convenient. It's downright awesome.

Starbucks...the lifeline of my work week, the pleasure of Saturday mornings and my Sunday morning treat. I adore Starbucks. Who doesn't? Phil, poor guy. He's not a coffee drinker at all (I know, right??) and he's not a fan of super sweet drinks, unless you count Diet Coke and chocolate milk. As such, he's no appreciation for the wondrous joy brought to millions by that amazing coffee chain we know and love. He once did a report that pulled our annual spending and we were both stunned at the amount I spend at Starbucks. He was shocked at how high it was while I, fully understanding the depth of my love for the Starbucks creations, was highly pleased with how reasonable it was. We agreed to disagree as getting a divorce over coffee just seemed silly.

But this morning, as I sit in my recliner with my laptop, cappuccino and enjoying my fire, I have to say I think Excedrin Migraine easily takes top place, at least this morning. You see, I've woken up with yet another migraine. Yes, the doctors are treating me with preventatives and new rescue meds but oddly enough, none seem to work as well as Excedrin Migraine. This little magic pill has done more for me than countless doctors, requires no copayment, no appointment desk, no waiting to see the doctor and no repeating of the symptoms with each trip. Nope, just twist the cap, shake the pills out, pop them in your mouth and swallow. For me, relief is typically within the hour. Would I prefer to not get the migraines at all? Of course, and if I may be so bold as to say, I think migraines are absolutely on the list of Your top ten worst ideas. But since I get them and since Excedrin Migraine treats them so much better than my prescriptions, I wanted to say thanks.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Is Supernatural Super Taboo?

Not long ago, I was talking to my friends about one of my favorite programs, Supernatural and I showed them some pictures of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padelecki. In one, Jenson is dressed...okay so he's shirtless but he's wearing jeans...sorta...and reading a book. It's a rather provocative picture and it made me wonder if my appreciation of Supernatural and it's stars are okay.

The program is based on the lives of Sam and Dean Winchester, brothers born into a family of hunters. Not your every day, pheasant or deer hunters, rather the Winchesters hunt the things of nightmares. Shape-shifters, vampires, werewolves...Sam and Dean spend their days criss-crossing the country eradicating evil so the rest of us can go on living our lives in blissful ignorance of what really hides in the dark. It's bloody and violent, it's filled with adult humor and some of the story lines make me uncomfortable. So is Supernatural super taboo?

I'm going to go with no. Maybe it's justification so I can continue watching the program. Or maybe it's refusing to believe that viewing Jenson Ackles pretending to read while pretending to wear pants is wrong. I mean, come on...he posed for the picture, right? It's clearly a promotion of himself as an actor, the show and I suppose if you really stretch, you could call it a way to encourage reading...only most of the women I've shown this picture to are unable to find the book.

The show is brilliantly written. One liners and witty come-backs abound and I spend as much time laughing as I do hiding from the gore. I've watched the gag reels, I've purchased all available seasons, I've shown my husband hundreds of clips, and  I've even seen the Supernatural crew do their own version of the Harlem Shake. Clearly, God, you have a finely-honed sense of humor. So keep on ganking the evil creatures of lore, Sam and Dean and I'll keep watching.