Posts Tagged ‘love it’

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Okay, let’s be up front about this. It’s not Rock Fiction, for all that Grace’s father is a rocker. In fact, the few times we see Jer, as Grace calls him, he’s not much more than a name on a page, a vague character of a person. Neither is Grace’s mother, the typical model/actress/ambitious snob who can’t put her own control issues aside and see her daughter for who she is.

But if Grace’s parents are vague or stereotypic, Grace herself is the absolute opposite. Sure, it’s probably a huge stereotype that she’s the bohemian child who opposes her mother at almost every value. The biggest surprise about her is when she puts on the Reality Star Wardrobe and remarks how familiar and comfortable it is, even though she knows that the role she had been playing was nothing more than that – a role. This is an insight that transcends these stereotypes. It’s a welcome one.

On the flip side is Marc, Marcus, our buttoned-up, staid businessman type who has probably forgotten how to smile, if he even ever knew. He’s almost the third side of this trinity of who are you – the extravagant showman, the hippie chick devoted to her causes, the buttoned-up dude who’s buttoned down his personality and his life so that people like Grace and her family can’t disrupt the boat.

Enter one dog. One Great Dane, to be specific. Dogs in general aren’t going to work in Marc’s life. But a big Dane that needs room to run and is pretty much Grace’s totem animal?

Now, we all know where this is headed: Grace has to make peace with her family and their reality show life. They need to accept her and actually see that her painting talent goes beyond a hobby. She needs to accept that using the resources offered by their reality show isn’t selling out; it’s smart. Marcus needs to learn how to joke and laugh, how to unbutton not only his suits but himself, as well.

And of course they all do these things. This is a romance, after all, and there’s never any doubt what’s going to happen in it. It’s the getting there that is all the fun, and believe me, this is fun. Over the top fun. Crazy fun. Larger than life, if-this-happened-in-reality-no-one-would-believe-it fun.

Pineapple lamps and fires and activists and birds and dogs and Grace’s odd naïve trust in people despite the reality show and lens of fame she’s grown up in. It all figures in. There are assumptions and people who get too angry with each other to speak and work it out like adults. And there are unravelings of the assumptions and happy endings and love and respect. And big dogs.

I wish more books were this much fun.

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One of the best things about Rocktober is being able to share authors who may not write about great big Rock Stars, but who write about music in different ways. I think it’s every bit as important as the tales of backstage debauchery and tour buses and groupies and love. So today, meet CK Johnson. She’s great fun, my buddy CK. And her books? I love how inventive they are.

Here’s a bit from CK:

I’ve been a rock fan since my friend first introduced me to Metallica. I played “The Unforgiven” on the violin until I got my hands on a guitar. My go to on a bad day was “Nothing Else Matters.” When it came time to write a novel it wasn’t a surprise that music shaped it.

A Piper’s Song tells the story of Kyra, a descendant of the Pied Piper who can control people with music. It’s an urban fantasy laced with darker notes reminiscent of the original Grimm tales. I enjoyed writing a book that allowed me to take the music I love and shape it into imagery. My favorite part of the book is toward the end when Kyra steps onto The Fields to prove herself. I got play battle of the bands piper style—a fine line between music and madness.

In honor of Rocktober I’m giving away two eBooks of A Piper’s Song. Leave a comment about one of your favorite songs and why you love it and I’ll do a random drawing.

Yes! You totally want to read this, so start commenting away.

Connect with CK, too, because there’s no better way to show love than to buy a book — except maybe to review it once you’ve read it.
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As the word of Rocktober spreads, so does the number of authors who want to take part in the fun (remember, it’s ALWAYS Rocktober over here at The Rock of Pages. This is just the month we crank it up to twelve. ‘Cause eleven’s not loud enough!).

Today’s guest is Juli Page Morgan, who’s got a great guest post about her new release, Crimson and Clover.

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Juli, take it away!

He was just supposed to be a minor character, that’s all. The hero of my book, the guy who got the girl, was going to be the lead singer. And that minor character? The lead guitar player for the band. I didn’t think about him much, to be honest. He was only there because the band needed a guitarist. Dude didn’t even have a name.

But one day while I was writing a scene involving the whole band, a scene where the heroine was in attendance, I took a good look at this minor character for the first time. I saw him through the heroine’s eyes, and damn. He was beautiful. I mean the kind of male beauty that makes panties evaporate and ovaries explode. And my heroine? She went into heat. If she’d been a cat she would have rolled around on the floor in front of him and yowled. I was tempted to join her.

So while I salivated over this minor character, I tried to reason with my heroine.

Me: Cut it out. I mean it. You’re in love with the lead singer.

Her: What lead singer? There’s a lead singer? Didn’t notice.

Me: Come on. None of us have time for this nonsense. You love the lead singer, and y’all are going to live happily ever after. This guitar player is just a minor character. He doesn’t even have a name yet.

Her: He doesn’t need a name. All he needs to do is strap on that axe and then get all sweaty onstage.

Me: Stop it. (pause) Sweaty?

Her: Dripping. Just look at that luscious black hair of his. Look at his freakin’ eyes!

So I looked at his eyes. There was a mischievous twinkle shining in them. There were also a lot of really hot promises about what he could do to me … I mean, do to the heroine.

Then he smiled.

Lead singer? There was a lead singer? Didn’t notice.

Still, I tried to carry on with the story I thought I was writing. So the guitar player would assume a bigger role in the book. No big deal. It happens. Besides, lead guitar players are hard to shove into the background, am I right? But the more I wrote, the more he showed up. Little by little he took over the story and the heroine’s heart. I finally had to scrap almost everything I’d written and start again. Only one problem: he still didn’t have a name.

Check that. He had a name, he just refused to tell me what it was. I asked, he laughed. I begged, he laughed harder. One day he let me know it was time to reveal his name. I was indecently relieved and had my finger hovering over the “Find and Replace” function on my computer, ready to change all instances of Guitar Guy (that’s what I was reduced to calling him) to his name. He leaned close and whispered in my ear.

Him: My name is … Delbert.

Then he snickered.

To be honest, I don’t really remember how I came to know his name was Jay Carey. I was writing and the heroine called him Jay. And I just knew. I’m sure he told me somehow, the sneaky little bugger.

That minor character, the one with no name, took over the whole book. He went from a shadow in the background to the hero, the guy who gets the girl. He knew the lead singer wasn’t right for the heroine so he stepped up. Because he wanted her.

Can’t ignore those lead guitarists.

If you want to read Jay’s story it’s called Crimson and Clover. You can read the first chapter and find out how the story begins on my website.

I am in tears over this one. Delbert? Oh, my! This guy has a lot in common with my Trevor, which means I love him already. Maybe not the cat in heat love that Juli has, but that’s okay. He’s hers. I’m willing to let that remain.

Until I read the book and meet the man for myself, anyway…

As always, grab a copy of Crimson and Clover.
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Check out Juli’s backlist of other Rock Fiction romances. Buy them. Read them. Review them.

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I first met Kevin Doyle when he showed up in my inbox with his novelette, One Helluva Gig. I was going to let Jett review it, but it was so good and such a quick read that there was no time.

Then Kevin contacted me again. He’d looked into having the novella translated, so to speak, into a play. Its performance is scheduled for October 17, so I told Kevin he had to write about it for Rocktober. He was willing, and he’ll do a follow-up to this piece about what happens when it airs.

Without further ado, here’s Kevin.

A few years back, I was fortunate enough to see my first e-book released by a small, but growing, press. This was pretty much a whole new world for me, as up to this point I’d dealt exclusively in the short story arena. The “book” is actually a 14,000 word novelette, and it served as my first introduction to the idea of publishing original material in e-book form. A form, I should point out, now providing quite a service by bringing back the novelette and novella, at one point almost vanished species.

To this point, sales have been (hrrmph) modest (putting it about as mildly as possible) and I’ve been looking for new ways to market the material. One thing that kept pinging in the back of my head was the idea that, due to the structure of the work (a set number of scenes and each scene having just two characters) it seemed like this story would work fairly well as a play. However, I know zip about writing, letting alone producing, plays.

So this summer, I began scouting around the Columbia, Missouri, area seeing if I could find anyone who knew how to write plays and how to get them on stage.

Enter the Maplewood Barn Theatre.

I met a few people, who put me in touch with someone else, who led me to a few more people and next thing you know I was discovering all sorts of new stuff.

Maplewood Barn, a local community theatre, produces its plays outside in one of our parks. They run performances from May through August. Okay, most people around the Columbia area are aware of that.

However I didn’t know that during the fall and winter, when they don’t perform outside, the group produces and broadcasts radio performances, actual radio theatre, on KBIA, our local public broadcasting station. So here I was, trying to see about turning my material into a play, when I met up with some people interested in putting it on the radio, which had the appeal of being something that doesn’t often happen to original fiction.

Then, however, came the ordeal of turning my little baby over to strange people and hoping they would help it mature. I didn’t have separation anxiety, as such, but when Brad Buchanan pointed out that my sixty-page novelette would be cut down to about twenty pages, I’m pretty sure I gulped a little.

Nothing to do, though, but sit back and wait.

A few days later, the script appeared in my e-mail, and I sat down to read just what they had done to my story. Brad was apologetic at every step at having to take such “beautiful prose” (his words, not mine) and cut it down every which way.

Reading the script, I began breathing a lot easier. The basic plot, from beginning to end, is there, and all of the major scenes are left intact. On reading that initial script, I could easily recognize my work and, for most of it, my own words. Some of the emotion seemed to be missing, but I crossed my fingers that when the actors performed the script some of that would come back in.

All in all, it seemed to have come off pretty well.

Now came the next step. I knew how it read, but how would it sound when played out?

You NEED your own copy, don’t you? If I didn’t already have one, I certainly would.
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I’m sure there are more retailers, too. iBooks, Oyster, Scribd… just a guess, but don’t hesitate to drop in at your favorite digital bookseller and see if they’ve got it. (report it in the comments, even, and I’ll update)

This review was originally posted at West of Mars. It is being posted here, at its new permanent home.

Every now and then, a book comes along that, by the time you close the back cover, you know has changed you. It’s touched you in ways you hadn’t expected going in – or even halfway through.

How the Mistakes Were Made, written by Tyler McMahon, is one of those books. It’s now right up there with Fat Kid Rules the World as one of the best works of Rock Fiction. Ever.

I was desperate to read this book because of its similarities to the Courtney Love story. It’s set in Seattle, right as the grunge sound takes off. Laura had been in an influential, ground-breaking band with her brother, but something happened. It takes a long time for us to find out what.

That set her off, adrift in the world. She’s working in a coffee shop when the book opens, playing with a band called the Cooler Heads.

There’s a theme there. The Cooler Heads maybe should have prevailed, on both a literal and metaphorical sense. But, they don’t, and Laura quits the band and before she knows it, two kids she met at that final Cooler Heads show wind up on her doorstep. She takes them in and… before she knows it, she’s in a three-piece band called The Mistakes.

They’re the perfect combo, of course—if they weren’t, we wouldn’t have a book. So let’s overlook that coincidence and go beyond. Guitarist Sean has that disorder where you see colors, and that’s what powers his beauty and talent. Unfortunately, he’s also a lost soul with a self-destructive bent that first attracts Laura and then repels her. She’s got the same self-destructive need, after all, and it’s hard to tell if it’s rooted in her upbringing or just her general makeup. Or what she’s been through.

Nathan, Sean’s best friend and the other member of the Mistakes, is the conscience and the glue that holds everything together—although, on the surface, it’s Laura who does that. Laura with the experience and the know-how. Except… she doesn’t know how. Does she?

Three members of a band… there’s our triangle, right there. And a triangle it is, indeed. It’s not a static triangle, either. The players take on parts and change them, particularly Laura and Nathan. It’s an interesting transition, especially because it comes across as natural and seamless. As Sean’s self-destructive side emerges, Laura’s entire life is thrown into flux and she’s left wrestling with the legacy her brother left her: is it selling out if you have commercial success?

It’s Laura’s own need to self-destruct that causes the downfall of the Mistakes, and from the first page, she tells us that she’s the one to blame. I’d argue she doesn’t do this in the way she tells us she does. The basic problem with Laura is that she can’t commit. She’s got one foot out the door, and when you’re in that position, you really have nowhere to go but to follow where that foot’s led you. The idea of what you want becomes secondary to the tantalizing desire to escape.

If you haven’t caught on by now, this is one deep book. At the same time, though, it’s a book that’s super easy to read on the surface, for its story. Can you make comparisons to Courtney Love? Maybe. Maybe not. You’d need to know her story better than I do. Laura certainly lacks Courtney’s need to flip off the world; never once does Laura take the stage without panties on… that we know of.

The only spot in which the book stumbles is in the flashbacks. They are told in a second-person point of view. This is the hardest point of view to master—I say this as someone who studied points of view—and McMahon doesn’t quite pull it off. Just when we got to the point where I wish they’d go away and was wondering why they’d even been included, I get my answers. It’s both what I expected and much more powerful.

Laura’s been sitting on a secret, a big one, a haunting one, even as there’s something typical about it. I don’t think it shapes her the way she thinks it does; she’s managed to hide her sensitive, scared side with a foot-thick wall of Teflon before it happens. But once it comes out, an awful lot begins to make sense.

The other area I don’t completely buy is how and why the burden of the breakup of the Mistakes is put onto Laura. Things happen, and how that thing is immediately and widely connected to her is beyond me. Either I missed it in the reading or there was some logic gap I failed to make. I can’t say more without spoilers, and this isn’t the sort of book you want to spoil.

Rather, you want to savor it and its many lessons. The rich subtext isn’t something that reaches out and grabs you; I’d be surprised if many readers didn’t even know it was there.

Of course, this being Rock Fiction, I have to comment on the authenticity of the rock and roll. Whoa, Nellie. It’s there. McMahon did his research, and I’d wager a lot of it was firsthand knowledge. He gets it.

Wrap it up and put a bow on it, and then give it to all your friends. This one’s a definite West of Mars Recommended Read.