Musical Monday: Are the Good Times Really Over by Merle Haggard

How often do you hear a song and a memory from your past springs to life? Music does that for us. The scenery and scents are reawakened when that familiar tune tugs at your heartstrings.  It’s a bit of nostalgia wrapped up in lyrics and a simple melody.

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination
and life to everything.” ~ Plato

Like his father, my husband loves old country music and I often tease him that he’s stuck in the past or born in the wrong era. Frankly, I love that he clings to these old songs, because they take him back to a time when his father was still alive and these memories are really all that he has left of him.

His father was a hard-working man who raised six children and died at the young age of 54, when my husband was just a teen. He had been diagnosed with cancer and outlived the doctor’s predictions of “six months to live” by several years, finally suffering a heart attack on Superbowl Sunday, surrounded by his family.

When my husband heard Merle Haggard would be performing at Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels, Texas, he immediately bought tickets. This Musical Monday is to honor the memory of my husband’s father and the country music legend whose songs bring those memories to life.

 “Are The Good Times Really Over”

I wish a buck was still silver
It was back when the country was strong
Back before Elvis
Before the Vietnam war came along

Before The Beatles and ‘Yesterday’
When a man could still work, still would
The best of the free life behind us now
And are the good times really over for good?

Are we rolling down hill
Like a snowball headed for Hell?
With no kind of chance
For the Flag or the Liberty Bell

Wish a Ford and a Chevy
Could still last ten years, like they should
Is the best of the free life behind us now?
Are the good times really over for good?

I wish Coke was still Cola
And a joint was a bad place to be
It was back before Nixon lied to us all on TV

Before microwave ovens
When a girl could still cook and still would
The best of the free life behind us now
Are the good times really over for good?

Are we rolling down hill
Like a snowball headed for Hell?
With no kind of chance
For the Flag or the Liberty Bell

Wish a Ford and a Chevy
Could still last ten years, like they should
Is the best of the free life behind us now?
Are the good times really over for good?

Stop rolling down hill
Like a snowball headed for Hell
Stand up for the Flag
And let’s all ring the Liberty Bell

Let’s make a Ford and a Chevy
Still last ten years like they should
The best of the free life is still yet to come
The good times ain’t over for good

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From the Archives: Are You in Your Right Brain?

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog, I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around.

Here is the original post of Are You In Your Right Brain?

right-brain-left-brain-thinking-225x300I wanted to thank Kristen Lamb for the thought-provoking post How Being Tired Can Make You a Better Writer. I’m a new blogger and just started following her so I haven’t had a chance to read her other posts but based on this one, I’m certain they will be equally brilliant. She has also written two best sellers about social media: We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. Since I’m a newbie I definitely have to check them out!

Now back to Kristen’s post. I especially enjoyed the discussion on the Conscious Mind vs. the Subconscious Mind. It reminded me of a college art class many years ago where we were learning how to draw using the right side of the brain.

As I recall the key was to focus on the negative space, the shapes surrounding the object you were drawing and not the object itself. The moment this shift in focus occurs, you are using your right brain and drawing seems to come naturally.

The right side of the brain processes information intuitively while the left brain processes it logically. People who are left-brain dominant are detail oriented and are generally good with numbers. Right-brain dominant people are good at visualizing and thus are more creative.

Sounds like the Conscious Mind vs. the Subconscious Mind in Kristen’s post doesn’t it? The left brain is the Conscious Mind, the side that wants to analyze everything and focus on the details. The right brain is the Subconscious Mind that doesn’t fret over the details. Who cares? Let’s just have fun, explore, and create.

I think we experience this when we write. Writer’s block feels a lot like our inability to shift from left brain thinking to right brain thinking.

Left Brain: “Wait, hold that thought. There’s a misspelled word.”

Right Brain: “You’re kidding me. Can we just forget about that for now? I’ve got something really good here.”

LB: “We can’t just leave it like that!”

RB: “Oh yes we can. Now move out-of-the-way before I lose this brilliant idea.”

LB: “Hold on. There…fixed it. Oh wait-”

RB: “What now? Will you please stop distracting me? I need to get this idea down before it’s gone!”

LB: “But, but-”

RB: “Not listening. La-la-la.”

LB: “Stop! There’s a dangling participle!”

RB: “Oh for heaven’s sake!”

LB: “Okay, we’re good to go. Now, what was your brilliant idea?”

RB: “I forgot.” {Sigh}

It’s frustrating, right? But when you do make the shift, when right brain (subconscious mind) finally tells left brain (conscious mind) to take a nap, well, that’s when the fun begins. I’m sure you can recall times when the words just flowed and when you finally stopped you couldn’t believe how much time had passed. It didn’t feel like hours, did it? That’s when you were in your right brain. Now if we could just make the switch on command that would be awesome. Imagine the novels we could complete!

I wonder if we could use the technique that I learned in art years ago to train our brain to shift focus?

Okay, I just googled it and here is what I found:

http://www.learn-to-draw-right.com/right-brain-left-brain.html

Follow the directions. If you really want to get the benefit of the exercise, don’t cheat. I did it and can actually recall the moment the two sides of the brain were warring with each other and when the switch occurred. Did you feel it? Let me know!

I also found this on that same web page and thought it was interesting enough to post here (with my edits in parentheses).

“However, by learning to access the right brain, you can learn ways to trick the left brain into leaving you alone quietly to get on with your drawing (writing) with your right brain – the side of the brain that really does know how to draw (write).”

I know I have right brain tendencies because I have always loved drawing, painting, and creating, but I do have a strong analytical side as well. I’m good with numbers. Hell, I made a career out of it. I wonder if I have a dominant side.

I just found a quiz for that:

http://painting.about.com/od/inspiration/a/quiz-rightbrain.htm

The quiz is designed for painters but writers are creative people too so just substitute “writing” for “painting” and answer it from a writer’s perspective. So how did you do? Are you dominant on one side? Let me know.

It turns out that my right brain is “quite dominant.” So this is why I was so miserable in my former career. I haven’t been in my “right” brain for years!

Beyond Eventide: Bound- “Aidrik” (Promo 3 of 6)

Another new release by Sarah M. Cradit. This girl is seriously talented.

...and then there was Sarah

“The threads of fate weave slowly, until at last, an unbreakable knot.”

Beyond Eventide: Bound

The House of Crimson & Clover Book 2.5- Coming in April

Night, Moon And Dark Fortress

Aidrik knew Anasofiya’s tears were from a pain far deeper than anything physical she was experiencing. She was strong; very strong. Never complained once about the physical toll their son was taking on her, instead choosing to embrace the beauty, and promise, in the life she carried. All the while, this other thing, this malady Aidrik could not fix, consumed her.

Coming in April. Add to your Goodreads TBR list so you don’t miss it!

Need to get caught up on the House of Crimson & Clover?

Dive into the secretive, ancient, powerful world of the Deschanels and Sullivans…

SERIES PREQUEL:
St. Charles at Dusk
Set amidst the lush and vibrant backdrop of New Orleans, this is the story of Oz and Adrienne. Of…

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Agents. Qualified literary gatekeepers?

Indie authors…it’s your turn.

Indie Hero

A few years ago, Samuel Moffie submitted The Perfect Martini to 100 literary agents. Actually, he submitted 90% of the first twenty pages of Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions disguised as The Perfect Martini. Any guesses on his success rate? 100 out of 100, right? No. Only one agent responded positively, but that’s because the agent recognized the original author. 99 agents declined. Just to be clear, yes, the critically acclaimed, award-winning, nationally revered Kurt Vonnegut. Rejected.

Agents are concerned with commercial viability, that’s first and foremost. Period. Literary quality is a secondary bonus, if present. Now, if Vonnegut wrote a novel where a dominant vampire becomes master to a naive, submissive, shape-shifting werewolf, I’m sure he would have fared better.

Here’s the point. Why spend months, or even years, writing and submitting queries to agents who are clearly looking the other way? If they passed on Kurt Vonnegut, what chance…

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Teaser Tuesday: The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

herowithathousandfacesI’m reading The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell as part of my reading challenge for 2014 where I plan to read five books on the craft of writing. Here’s a teaser:

“The unconscious sends all sorts of vapors, odd beings, terrors, and deluding images up into the mind–whether in dream, broad daylight, or insanity; for the human kingdom, beneath the floor of the comparatively neat little dwelling that we call our consciousness, goes down into unsuspected Aladdin caves. There not only jewels but also dangerous jinn abide: the inconvenient or resisted psychological powers that we have not thought or dared to integrate into our lives. ”

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Today’s the Day!

todaays the dayToday’s the day!

“Good lord! What’s happening today?” you may ask.

You don’t know? It’s the Great and Powerful Theme Reveal for those participating in the A to Z Challenge.

final-a-to-z-theme-revealThe A to Z Challenge  is the brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out. The challenge is to publish a post inspired by a letter of the alphabet (in alphabetical order) every day in April except Sundays. Participants can write about any topic. Your posts can be random and unrelated or you can choose a theme to blog about for the entire month.

I’ve chosen a theme. It’ll probably come as no surprise to learn what it is given the title of my blog and the fact that I already divulged it in the post Blogging from A to Z. The theme for my A to Z posts is….

Drum roll, please.

WRITING!

“Well, who are you to give advice on writing? Are you an author? Have you published anything?”

Uh no, and thanks for that reminder, by the way. No, I’m not a published author, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned a thing or two on this sometimes maddening roller-coaster ride to become an author. It reminds me a little of Marlin’s ride on the EAC with Dory and Crush.  Remember this?

Nemo tumblr_me36chqpyy1qeafupo1_500Yeah, that one. So which one am I? Dory? Marlin? Crush? All three, actually.

Yeah, I’ve been blissfully ignorant. Or maybe that’s ignorantly blissful?

Dori NaturalBlueWhere was I? Oh yeah. A year ago, I had just finished my first book and had queried half a dozen agents. I’m going to be a published author!

Heh. Heh. Poor thing. I was so naïve, but I didn’t know what I didn’t know, you know?

crush tumblr_l8vbhdSAc41qaaleqo1_500Six fairly quick rejections were the wake-up call I needed. I thought I had done my homework, reading about a dozen books on the craft of writing, but I realized I had so much more to learn. I didn’t have anyone else read my book, except my husband, and let’s face it, friends and family members don’t make the best critics. That’s right. No beta readers, no critique partners, no editors. I can’t believe I just admitted that, but this is the image that came to mind when I thought of letting someone else critique my book.

nemo sharksYou can stop laughing now. It’s a little embarrassing.

Yeah, I’ve been uncertain.

Of course, the thing I’m most passionate about is probably one of the most difficult things to become successful at. That’s why so many of us end up alcoholics. What are you thinking? Seriously. You want to be a writer? Have you seen the talent out there? Plus, what are the odds? And, what if they don’t like you? {GASP!}

Dory like meAnd I’ve been terrified, clutching my laptop as I go screaming down the vortex of terror.

What if I don’t make it as an author? I can’t go back to the corporate world…the crushing weight of bureaucracy, the endless meetings, the office politics, and the limitations on personal creativity…Let me stop there, before the nightmares return. This is where it’s time to say…

Dory relax

But mostly, I’ve been exhilarated.

I’ve said that writing gives me a euphoric feeling no drug could possibly replicate. It’s true. I love the process of building worlds and creating characters. I love it when a character wakes me up at night and won’t let me sleep until I write his or her scene. I love the feeling I get when I read something I’ve written and stare at it wondering where it could have originated. Has someone taken over my body? I love the many serendipitous moments that have occurred while writing my current WIP. They seem to be signs encouraging me to keep at it. Don’t give up. Never give up. You are meant to be a writer.

So grab shell, dude as we go swirling down the vortex of terror known as the writer’s journey. C’mon, I know you want to. Writers have serious thrill issues, dude.

From the Archives: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood”

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog, I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around.

The second post I published has received more views than any other post on my blog. As you can see, the writing is nothing special. The attraction is in the title which starts with the words of a popular poem. If you want to attract readers to your blog, then give your posts popular titles. Make it a play on a favorite poem (like this one), movie, song, book, etc. and watch the traffic to your blog escalate.

Here is the original post for “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood”…and I-I took the safer one, until now.:

Years ago I came to a fork in the road and pondered which career path I should take. The one to the left was well-traveled. In fact, it was freshly paved and lined with curbs. Street lights that turned on at dusk dotted the roadside. There was even the occasional warning sign of what to expect ahead: a curve here, a dip in the road there. It was safe and well, a little boring.

The road to the right gave me a different feeling. It was not paved nor well-traveled. The surrounding vegetation threatened to overtake it. There were no curbs to keep me from straying off course and no streetlights illuminating the path. There was no sign of what may lie ahead. It was a little unsafe, even scary, but it peaked my interest.

Which one did I take?

I merged in with the rest of the traffic and took the safer route. I often wondered where the other road would have taken me. I plodded along “easy street” for years until I had the courage to make a U-turn and head back to the fork in the road.

Now I’m headed down the other path. It is still just as wild as it was all those years ago. It has not changed… but I have.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both13_roads_diverged_in_a_yellow_wood[1]
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh! I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Some ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.