Category Archives: Thursday Thirteen

Thursday Thirteen: As Random as it Gets

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1. Both versions of Trevor’s Song are now on sale!

2. Buy the digital versions (that means e-book versions) at Smashwords, where the novel’s half-off and the Demo Tapes are free. Use the coupon codes you see listed, if five bucks is too rich for your blood…

3. Buy the print version at Lulu. Or direct from me.

4. I’ll be selling it direct for cheaper, once you factor in the shipping charges. I can explain why privately, if you’re curious.

5. I’m available for interviews and guest blog posts.

6. I’ve got a bunch waiting to be written, though. Summertime’s slowed me down.

7. Yesterday was the pool. Today’s a quiet day. Tomorrow’s the Science Center. And I’m too whipped in the evenings to do much writing. Ouch.

8. I need to get over that, and fast. The Tour de France is in full swing, and it’s wonderful to write in front of.

9. I’m pulling for Andy Schleck, I think. But I have other favorite cyclists, too.

10. Check out their thighs! Wow. Things of beauty, these pro bikers’ legs.

11. Watching the Tour makes me want to go out and bike, but I’m still sidelined by an arm injury. Every time I set eyes on my road bike, I pout.

12. I think the cat has a kidney stone. Or maybe a UT infection. Or both.

13. That’s about it… stay cool, everyone!

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Thursday Thirteen: MEU

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MEU?? What the heck?

It’s one of the (many) reasons I’ve been quieter than usual over here. I’m busy getting Trevor’s Song ready to bring you guys, and it’s being a TOTAL PITA. Trevor would be proud of the chaos he’s causing except he’s as anxious to be putty in your hands as you guys are anxious to read his story.

My head is bloody from beating it on my desk. And keyboard. And monitor. And I’ve gone through a few replacement windows, as I’ve thrown things (well, books written by other people) through them. Cut my feet on the glass shards, too, when I’ve gone out into the front yard to retrieve the books. It’s been rainy so far this summer break (all week of it). I can’t let a book get ruined!

And now I’m the official MEU.

Mom Entertainment Unit.

I don’t mind. We’re having fun. But I’m not getting much work done.

Still, you gotta live life in order to be able to write what you know. Books about me staring at glowing computer screens would be dreadfully boring. Trust me. Living it is dreadfully boring.

so…

Thirteen ways I’m the MEU
1. I’ve got The Boy Band joining me in the first-ever biathlon at the Hoity Toity Health Club. In the past, they’ve sponsored a summer triathlon, where you have one month to complete Ironman distances in the run, swim, and bike. This year, they’ve added a biathlon for us non-swimmers (that pool water might turn my hair green, don’tcha know) and shortened the distances. My progress is often my Facebook status, so be sure to keep an eye on me.

2. POOL! We challenged the weather today and won — severe storms were forecast and there were some ugly, dark, heavy clouds overhead, but they didn’t last long.

3. Wii/computer games. ‘Nuff said there.

4. Netflix, TiVo and other televised goodies. Again, ’nuff said there. Fortunately, these last two allow me to actually get a bit of work done.

5. Friends. This is the bane of summertime. Friends scatter. People travel, go to camp, hang out in the neighborhood. Finding friends to occupy my kids’ time is difficult.

6. Funnel Cake. I couldn’t make Burgh Baby‘s funnel cake party, but she was kind enough to share the recipe anyway. This is on our to-do list still, while I wait for my arm to heal.

7. Make Candy. One of my sisters bought The Boy Band a candy making kit for his birthday a few years ago. We’re still experimenting. Like the funnel cake, this is currently on hold while I heal.

8. Rainy day fun: Science Center.

9. mini-golf. Imagine my surprise this weekend past when the quiet, mild-mannered grandmother schooled all of us (except in deference to my poor arm, I didn’t play).

10. Play places! Yeah, like Dave and Busters, but also the places aimed for the kids, with ball pits and climbing tunnels. You know: like Chuck E. Cheese. Where a kid can be a kid.

11. bike riding. You guys know me. If not, see above and the biathlon. ‘Nuff said. Except… I’ve seen enough snakes this year. Including the one the Boy Band rode over on our last outing. Gross, the way the snake tumbled out from under his wheel. Survived, too. That was the cool part.

12. hiking. There are enough parks of the state, local, and national variety (don’t ask where the latter are; I’m not sure. Shush!) to keep us occupied for awhile.

13. I’m sure they’ll cook up something by the time I blink next… Feel free to add your own. Some days, I need the inspiration.

Calgon, take me away!

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Thursday Thirteen: Sources of inspiration

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I’ve had a week where it seems as if everything has inspired me somehow. Here’s a partial list:

1. Janet
2. the punching bag in the back seat of the car I parked next to
3. my pillow
4. Boot camp today
5. A bag of Goldfish crackers (wait. That inspired the cat. To eat them. Same for the spaghetti sauce. And popcorn.)
6. The NHL playoffs
7. Mary
8. My bicycle
9. This book I’m reading (Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea)
10. Opening my PO Box
11. Celtic Librarian
12. The couch in my family room
13. A cool spring evening spent on a soccer field

Ahh, to have the proper time to work this into fiction now…

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Thursday Thirteen: Inside my Mind

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1. Blank
2. Void
3. Devoid
4. Absent
5. Empty
6. AWOL
7. On vacation
8. Truant
9. Missing
10. Incapacitated
11. Frozen
12. Stale
13. Abandoned

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Thursday Thirteen: Favorite Trevor Moments

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You guys miss the nut cases in my fictional band, ShapeShifter? Me, too.

Here’s some moments you might have missed. (and yes, I’m playing with words again. It’s what I do. Go figure.)

1. A Saturday Afternoon Trevorism

2. A Trevorism

3. A Scene I hated to cut

4. Another one I hated to cut.

5. And a third, but a paragraph this time.

6. Some of Trevor’s favorite foods

7. One of Trevor’s Favorite Comebacks

8. This Moment with Trevor was in response to a video in which I’d supposedly appeared.

9. You can meet and greet Trevor as part of the first life of Thursday Thirteen.

10. Another Thirteen list about our boy.

11. Trevor? Sappy? Valentine’s Day?

12. More Thirteen fun! Trevor’s favorite perks of being in ShapeShifter.

13. And a final thirteen, where Kermit Ladd makes his debut on the blog and the boys school him.

If you’re a link clicker, have fun looking around. Comments on all posts should still be open, so feel free to leave some! I live for comments — what blogger doesn’t?

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Thursday Thirteen: Happy Birthday!

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1. April marks a milestone around here.

2. My blog turns four!

3. I turn … a lot older than four.

4. You’re glad of that part. Four year-olds should NOT blog.

5. Because it’s my blog’s birthday, I have now closed the files on what will become Demo Tapes: Year 4.

6. I plan to have at least two new books out for you guys to buy and read during the next calendar year.

7. Check out where I was last year.

8. Holy smoke, have I come far in one year.

9. Notice how I said the blog was turning four that year, too. Maybe I’m stuck on the number four.

10. Really, I counted wrong last year. I did.

11. So… this place has its fourth birthday. That makes me feel like an old blogger. And I am.

12. I miss some of the old friends who used to hang around here.

13. Why don’t YOU take their place?

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Thursday Thirteen: Holey Socks!

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I’m in a mood. Sit back and have some fun with me.

1. You’ve met Soul Bendorff on these pages before. Here. And here. Only sorta here. But very definitely here.

2. Like many young men out on his own, Soul would wear socks with holes in them.

3. No big deal, right? I mean, come ON. You’ve had a favorite pair or two of socks that you haven’t been able to part with. I know you did, even if you won’t admit it.

4. But when you’re a rock legend in the making, people talk about your socks. (among other things) Especially the fact that you wear them at all. (especially when you looked as grungy as Soul did.)

5. Or that his were dark blue, worn with his dark blue Chuck Taylors.

6. Dark blue was the Soul Bendorff color.

7. But back to the socks. It was amazing that Soul wore socks. But have YOU even worn Chucks with no socks? Onstage? Under hot stage lights?

8. It was at a party one night, when Soul had wrapped each talented hand around the very cool, long neck of a bottle of booze (he never cared WHAT booze, only that it was booze), that he let some girl take off his shoes. She wanted to play with his toes, she said.

9. Now, I know you’re expecting me to say his big toe was sticking through that hole I’ve hinted at. But… you’re wrong.

10. It was his heel. Soul had narrow heels, you see. They always rubbed, no matter what shoes he wore. Socks wore out after a week, it seemed. But see above about why he didn’t just chuck the things entirely.

11. So this girl picks up Soul’s foot and finds the sock. She sticks her finger in and tickles. He’s not amused. Wants her to put his shoes on.

12. Someone hands him a fresh bottle. He forgets about the girl. He’s had enough to drink, he can’t feel his feet anyway.

13. Five years after he dies, she donates them to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Hole and all.

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Thursday Thirteen: Melting Away

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Before we get into the Thirteen fun, I’ve got to say… I am having THE BEST time watching the sales reports for The Demo Tapes books. As part of Read an E-Book Week, I’ve offered them for FREE. Here’s the link. Make me happy, will ya?

Now. Thirteen words that equal a whole

1. The
2. Snow
3. Around
4. Here
5. Is
6. Melting.
7. I
8. Am
9. Sad
10. to
11. See
12. it
13. Go

Happy Thursday Thirteen, gang! And welcome spring!

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Thursday Thirteen: Read an e-book Week!

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e-book week graphic

1. Last year, I posted about Read an e-Book Week.

2. This year, YOU (yes, you) can read BOTH of my books.

3. They are listed at Smashwords.com, as part of their special Read an E-Book promotion.

4. Yeah. That link won’t actually work until the 7th.

5. Or you can visit my profile page there now.

6. If you’re savvy, you’ll notice I dropped the price on the books.

7. And if you’re even savvier, you’ll hang tight for the 7th. The books will be discounted a FURTHER 50%.

8. If you want to make me extra royalties, or want a print copy, go to Lulu.com.

9. Use coupon code IDES between now and March 31 for a 10% discount on the print or download (it’s a .pdf download) copy.

10. But be sure to visit Read an E-Book Week’s home site.

11. You’ll find links to other e-books.

12. But they won’t be as good as mine. Or their authors as friendly as me.

13. Discover a new author this upcoming week. At the prices many of us are charging, you can REALLY load up and let the fun last beyond one mere week.

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Thursday Thirteen: Telling Details

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Back in September, I made this list for my thirteen. Details.

This week, I thought we’d do more telling details. The small things that speak volumes.

1. Leaving dirty dinner dishes on the bed.

2. What a smoker does when confronted with a full ashtray.

3. If a fan looks their star in the eye. If they speak up, ask for a picture, an autograph. And what they do once the interaction ends.

4. What you do when the guy behind you spills his Coke. Beer. Whatever.

5. How you handle being heckled by the drunk who’s got the seat beside you.

6. Which member of the band is first in the after-concert shower. And which member is last.

7. How a hockey player puts his gear on.

8. Dirt caked under a fingernail. Lunch stuck in a tooth.

9. Which side of the camera you’re most comfortable on.

10. How hard you fight sleep each night.

11. Your favorite bookmark.

12. Dog, cat, rabbit, reptile?

13. A person’s jeans.

Think about it. It’s the small things that speak so much.

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Thursday Thirteen: NOT ripped from the headlines

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My kids have been home for five days now, thanks to the snow. We’re all a little bit stir-crazy, even though we’ve been getting out.

Here are thirteen headlines that were ripped straight out of my imagination…

1. Snowbound kids turn 22 inches of snow into 20-foot snowman.

2. 20-foot snowman Crushes Neighbor’s Car

3. Kids Buried Waist-Deep in Snow. Freeze while Mom takes pictures for scrapbook

4. Mom serves doctored cocoa to kids. Takes bath while they sleep off the effects.

5. Heavy snow breaks skylight in local home. Kids build snowmen in bathtub.

6. Husbands around region bring sleeping bags to work. Seek to avoid family with cabin fever.

7. Man has heart attack clearing spot in grass for dog to pee on.

8. Mom Climbs Walls — and Refuses to come Down until Spring.

9. Bored kids plead with school board to reopen schools.

10. Snow Reminds Seniors of The Winter of 1900! Fifty inches over five days. Five hundred dead.

11. Libraries glad city shut down. Fear all books would be gone otherwise.

12. Vampires asked to help fill blood donor shortage. (Okay, inspired by a true story)

13. Punxy Phil laughs himself to six more weeks of hibernation.

Wait. That last one seems to have happened.

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Thursday Thirteen: Craving

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It’s Wednesday night. It’s been a busy week, with Alice Audrey stopping by (scroll down if you missed it) and my royalty-based donation to the Red Cross for Haiti (scroll down some more if you missed it). And it’s only Wednesday!

For some reason, tonight I’m craving…
1. Chocolate. Okay, that’s not new. In fact, that’s pretty much a constant.

2. A return to the summer night my friend Ryan and I sat on the hoods of our cars after a late-night hockey game and chatted for hours. I remember the way the damp, humid air felt on our ice-cooled skins. The thickness in my swollen knee (I had it cleaned out not even six months later). The feel of the smooth metal of my car under my thighs and palms. It was such a lush, erotic night.

3. A hot jacuzzi. A hot, PRIVATE jacuzzi. Score one for my old health club, where the jacuzzi was located in the locker rooms, thus making it relatively private. The Hoity-Toity Health Club? The jacuzzi’s in the pool area. Not so private.

4. Time with Trevor. Fiction (and Roadie Poet) has been absent from my site for a few weeks now. That’s gotta change.

5. More book sales. Of course. I can’t take over the world if no one’s reading my book!

6. The time to write this one outtake that’s been bugging me. It’s going to be one of those quiet, sensual types, like Rain. Or Hands.

7. Speaking of time and fiction, Deadly Metal Hatchet. If I’m not careful, Fozzy will let the Hatchet loose on ME.

8. I need to sigh heavily. ALL the fictional friends have been missing from this place. And I’ve got a ton of tabs open, waiting for Chelle to speak up.

9. Other things I’m craving… ice cream. The kind with a ton of butterfat and a full mouth feel. Preferably chocolate of some sort. Maybe with peanut butter. Maybe from Bruster’s. Or Dave and Andy’s. NOT from the grocery store.

10.
11.
12.
13.

Wha? Huh? I didn’t finish?

Okay. You can do it for me. I’m off to go write something.

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Thursday Thirteen: Midwinter blahs

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It’s the end of January. I’ve got the midwinter blahs, right on time.

I need ways to break the blahs. So I asked the band what they thought I should do. The answers, of course, were less than helpful.

1. Daniel suggested I grab the Tour Manager and go find some cool band playing in the city limits. Not a bad idea, actually. A pair of suede jeans, some cool boots — and a skimpy little top that is perfect for the hot confines of a sweaty music hall (because sweaty music halls are the best kind) but that makes me cold while we’re outside. Oh, and I should throw my bra onstage and then flash the guys in the band.

Hmm.

2. Mitchell suggested going for ice cream and eating it on the bench outside the shop. But I should wait for a day when it’s snowing, and I should kick my legs as I lick my cone in the snow. Despite the input of a certain librarian, he had no suggestions of flavors.

Hmm.

3. Kerri suggested putting on an old t-shirt, a pair of old shorts, and grabbing some paint brushes. A new coat of paint for the walls, or just some kids’ paints and letting my inner child have some fun. But no black, no blue, and no pastels. All bright, cheery colors, please.

Especially if I paint the walls.

Hmm.

4. Mitchell then suggested I invite all my friends over, tell them to wear their shorts and swim wear, and throw a barbecue. Trevor one-upped him by turning it into a pig roast. Daniel one-upped him by floating the idea of a rib cook-off, with profits headed to Haiti relief.

Hmm.

5. Val brought us all back down to Earth with the suggestion that the Tour Manager and I take a weekend and flit off to some Caribbean island.

Hmm.

6. Trevor suggested I put shorts on and go for a ride on the back of his Vincent.

Uhh… no. Next?

7. Daniel suggested I go test-drive a fast car. Maybe the Acura ZDX, which I’m now lusting for (buy more books, people! It starts at $45k). Or something goofy and silly that’ll make me smile.

Hmmm.

8. Kerri suggested a new hair color. Or maybe a return to the pink.

Hmm.

9. Val thinks that going for some good Caribbean food would be the next best thing to going to the Caribbean itself. Or, she did for a minute and then reconsidered. There’s nothing better than warm sand under bare feet and a sarong tied just so it dips below one hip bone.

Caribbean. Hmm….

10. Kerri’s next idea was to go shopping. In the very high-end boutiques, the ones that dress the *sniff* society types. Fill a dressing room with clothes and then walk out, empty-handed. Or with a bracelet. Or that one piece you’ll wear the hell out of and makes people wonder if it ever comes off to get washed.

Hmm.

11. Eric offered to take me to an amusement park in a warm climate. (Busch Gardens, Tampa, maybe?) Nothing like a fast coaster and a warm night. Because we all know the coasters go faster at night (or is that reserved for the Thunderbolt at Kennywood?).

Hmmm.

12. Val said if we can’t do hot and sunny, we should do snowy. Sort of like Mitchell’s idea with the ice cream, but instead, take a day and go master the damn snowboard already.

Hmm.

13. All four of the boys in the band — especially Trevor — think I should take up a new exercise regime: either pole dancing or bellydancing. Or both. At the same time.

Boys in bands… *sigh*

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Thursday Thirteen: Sweatpant Day

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I decided today was going to be a Sweatpants Day. After all, I wasn’t really going anywhere. Why get a good pair of jeans dirty when I was going to be cooking and writing all day long?

That, of course, made me think of our favorite band.

1. Sweats are perfect for the tour bus. Especially for overnight trips.

2. As the band gains popularity, though, they often feel the need to change into jeans before going into the hotel.

3. After all, their fans are hanging out, waiting for autographs, pictures, whatever they can get from the guys.

4. Trevor, of course, once vowed to wear sweats the first time the band walked a red carpet at an event.

5. Everyone ignored him, trusting that his vanity would win out when the actual time came.

6. It did.

7. Of the four guys in ShapeShifter, only Eric and Daniel are likely to hang out in sweats.

8. Trevor says he likes his pants tighter.

9. Mitchell doesn’t like to feel sloppy. Or so he says.

10. Kerri thinks he just wants to show off his legs.

11. Kerri also wonders what he’s got to show off, and why he’d want to. Showing off is more Trevor’s thing.

12. Still, sweats make for a comfy way to pass a long, boring day on a tour bus.

13. Just so long as there’s no one to see you, I guess.

Remember, I’m donating a portion of my royalties between now and January 31 (at least) to the Red Cross. It’s the least I can do, don’tcha think? Books make great gifts, remember — and I’ve posted a coupon code for the print version if you buy through Lulu. Read all the details yourself.

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Thursday Thirteen: At last, I can

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1. If you were here with us a long time ago, (way back in October of 2007, in fact), you know that the big tragedies in the world bother me.

2. Maybe more than I let on. *grin*

3. And if you follow me around when I guest blog, you’ve seen me talk about my desire to be a great philanthropist.

4. This morning, we woke up to images of Haiti.

5. I knew better than to hope that we’d never see things like this again. I still remember the great tsunami of 2004.

6. I’m in a better place this time. I’ve got two books out.

7. I can. And I am.

8. Donating part of my royalties on those book sales to the Red Cross. (Although, after reading this, I might need to change my mind.)

9. Buy one (or both!) before January 31 and I’ll tally up and make the donation.

10. The timing for this is quite good. I’ve got a coupon code for the print version via Lulu.com.

11. I’m offering a free Demo Tapes: Year 2 if you buy Year 1 for your Kindle. (Via the Kindle store)

12. And have just dropped the sale price at Smashwords.

13. It’s never been easier to make a positive difference in the world. Please help spread the word; let’s make a big donation to The Red Cross, shall we?

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BTT/T13: Best of 2009

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So, awhile back, I listed my Best Women-Penned of 2009. This week’s Booking Through Thursday asked what our best books of 2009 were, and since I wasn’t able to make the vague ideas for this week’s Thursday Thirteen gel, here’s a list of 13 of the best books I read in 2009.

**Note. Some links will take you to reviews, others to buy links via Powells.com. Any books you buy with my Powell’s affiliate will earn me money … which will go to buying books to share with you guys. I’m not keeping any profits I make through the Powell’s affiliate, only from the royalties I earn on The Demo Tapes (buy link for THAT below).

1. I started off the year with my first Greg Iles book, 24 Hours. I need to find more of Mr. Isles’ books. This was a great thriller.

2. Then I stepped back in time — with my very next read! — and discovered Michael Simon. I started with his first book, Dirty Sally. Loved the noir going on. My book club? Not so much. I’ll keep reading the series without them.

3. I read a bunch of rock and roll fiction. Rock Bottom by Michael Shilling, The Rock Star’s Homecoming by Linda Gould, Bahama Burnout by Don Bruns, Dark Side of the Morgue by Raymond Benson. Some were great, some weren’t. Later in the year, I got to A&R by Bill Flanagan and Do The Devil’s Work by Rick Florino, as well as Erica Kennedy’s Bling and Cecil Castellucci’s Beige and Dylan Schaffer’s Misdemeanor Man. (Reviews of these last three will appear at Rocks ‘n Reads sooner or later.)

4. Sometimes, I feel like I was one of the last people to be introduced to Lloyd Jones. His Mr. Pip is still making the rounds of my book club, and it’s a book I repeatedly refer to.

5. I really like fantasy and George RR Martin is truly one of the masters of the genre. I read A Clash of Kings this year — it took forever, as it was the book on my nightstand — and found that even though the cast is huge and I’d read the first book in the series years ago, I was brought up to speed seamlessly.

6. I got around to reading a lot of popular books: Audrey Niffeneger’s The Time-Traveler’s Wife, Christopher Paolini’s Eragon, Ann Brashare’s The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. One I loved, three I liked, one didn’t impress.

7. I’ve spent LOTS of time raving about Hank Phillippi Ryan. Why haven’t you joined me yet?

8. Another rock book and another rave: Tommyland, written by the majorly colorful (on many levels) Tommy Lee. I think you guys know I dig these books written by rockers. (See my raves about Tommy’s bandmate Nikki Sixx and his Heroin Diaries.)

9. The brilliantly written Shadow Man introduced me to Cody McFadyen. I’ve heard a lot about McFadyen from a number of you guys. I finally picked this book up and … wow. Okay, I had a FEW quibbles, but overall, this is a great debut. I can’t wait to read the second in the series; it’s sitting here, waiting for me.

10. Although I already raved about it in the women-penned list I linked to above, Song of the Seals by Christy Yorke deserves a second mention. The atmosphere alone made this an incredible read and as we’re passing it around my book club, we’re all talking about how it steered away from cliche.

11. After hearing one of my son’s classmates’ moms tell me she didn’t like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series (written by Jeff Kinney), I picked up the first and read it. I like the mom, but it was a reminder of why I don’t fit in with many (most?) of the moms in this area. I can’t even pretend to share her concerns.

12. Series: Gini Hartzmark, Charlaine Harris (Sookie), Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum), Steven Brust, Kathy Reichs, Colleen Gleason (another West of Mars favorite), Rachel Caine, MaryJanice Davidson, Marcia Muller, Linda Fairstein, Alexander McCall Smith.

13. And, of course, there are my own books. If you haven’t joined the Trevolution yet, why not? Drop me a line; I can hook you up with autographed copies.

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Thirteen (Totally Fictional) kids whose lives were changed by Music in the Schools Programs

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Thirteen (totally fictional) kids whose lives were changed by Music in the Schools programs

If you’re new to West of Mars, you’ve missed out on three previous years of benefits thrown by our favorite fictional band, ShapeShifter. On the Monday during Hanukkah, the band rallies the troops, raises lots of bucks, and gives it all to a charity that helps schools fund music programs. Sometimes, these charities are fictional. Sometimes, they’re real.

So to make it all the more real to you, me, and the guy across the street, I present 13 entirely fictional kids whose lives were changed by Music in the Schools programs.

1. Meet Yahir. An immigrant from Mexico, he couldn’t speak the language when he arrived in America. Yahir picked up a saxophone, spent a year taking lessons, and found that during band, no one made fun of his broken English or his accent.

2. And then there’s Angel. A real beauty with blonde hair and blue eyes, Angel came to her parents when she was left at a church and it was her mom who opened the door and found her on the proverbial doorstep. Angel picked up the cello, grew her hair long, and learned to rock like Apocalyptica.

3. Steven picked up the drums, loved the exhilaration of marching band so much that halftime of high school football games wasn’t enough. He found a spot in the Drum Corps International Blue Devils and spent a few summers traveling and performing.

4. Gage realized the tuba was the only instrument as big as he was. But it’s also way more important to a band than he ever thought he could be. He learned otherwise.

5. Sheelagh watched her grades go up and school get easier the more into band she became.

6. Lily put down the violin she’d learned via the Suzuki method when she was three. She picked up the flute instead and while she realized her parents’ ambitions for her to play in a major symphony, she found a way to do it on her own terms.

7. Nate realized he had no musical ability whatsoever and that Guitar Hero was going to be his shot at the spotlight. That’s when the acting bug bit.

8. Meryem learned that music was a lot more than the stuff her dad made her listen to when she was in his car. No matter how good Old Blue Eyes sounds to Dads, he’s not always a hit with kids.

9. Allison learned about respect and power. She learned you get more of both when you don’t jump into bed with every Tom, Dick, and Harry who promises respect and power.

10. Sanjit learned the value of teamwork. Of being part of a section of instruments and how horrible they sound when even one person (okay, it was him) decides the music in front of him is only a suggestion.

11. Caitlyn learned that reading music is a lot like learning to read Russian. It’s a new alphabet, sure, but it’s not unconquerable with some hard work. Best of all, Caitlyn’s grandmother immigrated from Russia and is thrilled her granddaughter can speak the mother tongue.

12. Devon learned how much trouble you can get into when you’re part of the drumline. And how delicious it is to get into trouble. Sometimes.

13. Susan learned she can’t read music worth a damn, but has a good ear for what’ll be a hit on the radio. So she went into radio. For awhile. And now she sits at home and writes books about musicians and the people in their lives. And dreams of when these Musical Hanukkah Benefits will come the rest of the way to life and earn some actual bucks that she can donate in the name of West of Mars.

Oops. This last one ain’t fiction. But it’s not entirely reality yet, either.

Happy Hanukkah to all of you. Friday’s the last night. Have a jelly donut and go make some music.

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Thursday Thirteen: The Achy Edition

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Okay, so maybe I overdid it today at Boot Camp. I’m sore. My perennially sore parts are sore.

1. Victims of the Deadly Metal Hatchet are generally too dead to be sore.

2. Mitchell fell off the stage once. (It’s referenced in this outtake, in fact) He was sore afterward.

3. Daniel’s a drummer. His shoulders and arms often get sore. (As referenced in these outtakes, in fact).

4. Eric and Mitchell both get sore fingers. What do you expect from a couple of guys who play guitar most of the time?

5. Trevor gets sore… Nah. That’s too easy. You guys know Trevor. He loves his girls!

6. Okay, here’s a better one. The first couple of days on a new headlining tour, the entire band can be sore the next morning. Until they get into the swing of things, you know.

7. After Trevor pierced his ear, Mitchell was mighty sore.

8. And then there were all the fights that Daniel and Mitchell wound up having to fight when Trevor pissed off some girl’s boyfriend. Yeah, they were mighty sore after that.

9. If Eric didn’t pitch his tent in the right spot, he’d wake up sore from sleeping on a rock.

10. To return to Deadly Metal Hatchet for a moment, Fozzy was plenty sore after the accident. For months, in fact.

11. Soul Bedorff was generally too drunk to be sore. Ever.

12. More DMH: Lido’s got a VERY sore heart. You’ll hear about that one day.

13. And last, Chelle LaFleur’s VERY sore at her friend Mitchell. Seems there’s a holiday startin’ on Friday night and there ain’t gonna be a certain benefit concert this year… more on that later, though.

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Thursday Thirteen: Cookies

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Opening Act #1 can’t get past the outtake I wrote over two years ago. (You’ll find a better-edited version in Demo Tapes: Year 2, you know.)

1. I think the kid’s just got cookies on the brain.

2. So does our favorite fictional band.

3. It probably began with that outtake I linked to above. Mitchell grew up in a house where baking cookies was a sign of love. Or sibling rivalry. You can read that one and decide.

4. That means that when the band was young, Mitchell’s Mom, Sonya, would send them on the road with a few dozen home-made cookies. To eat on the ride.

5. She’d always tell them to save some for after the show, when they’d be hungry. They, of course, never did.

6. As ShapeShifter became more successful, Sonya would fill shoeboxes with cookies and mail them to the band’s hotel. Mitchell always made sure she knew what fake name he’d sign in with (when he needed to; even that took awhile), and those cookies would be waiting.

7. Later, after Val quit her chef’s job, she’d help Sonya fill those shoeboxes. Suddenly, the guys had more than mere Tollhouse or double-chocolate cookies.

8. They would get chocolate crackles. They’d get cookies with candy hidden inside. They got some that were so fudgy, so gooey, the guys needed their fingers licked clean by willing groupies.

9. There were always willing groupies.

10. It fell into a rhythm: Charlie would do his Tour Manager gig and check the band in to the hotel. He’d come out with room keys — and a box.

11. The guys would fight over the box, pushing, shoving, grabbing it out of each other’s hands. Eventually Mitchell would assert dominance over it and open it.

12. Trevor would be first to stick his nose in to see what they’d gotten this time.

13. No one would move for their hotel rooms until the box was empty, their stomachs were upset, and they swore they’d do better next time.

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Thursday Thirteen: Oracle

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1. My Sunday Scribblings this week was the story of Mitchell being allowed a chance to play the famed Oracle guitar. From the scant comments, most of you missed a doozy.

2. The Oracle used to belong to Soul Bendorff.

3. Read more about Soul here.

4. Like his dark blue suede vests, the Oracle was his trademark.

5. He set one on fire every night, at the end of every set.

6. He used that guitar to redefine music.

7. The magic Soul created was part of what made Mitchell pick up the guitar in the first place.

8. The Oracle disappeared for many years after Soul’s death.

9. It finally reappeared at a Christie’s Auction.

10. It sold that first time for $300,000 or so.

11. The MBA developer-cum-memorabilia-collector named Jeff bought it for more than that. But less than it’s currently valued at.

12. Which makes me wonder why he’s offering to give it to Mitchell. But he is. It’s a sincere offer.

13. Just more of the magic of music.

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