Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group

And now for something entirely different. That's right, this is going to be a new feature on my blog. I've decided to join a support group for writers. It seems I'm not the only one who feels insecure about writing. I guess most if not all writers do? But am I a writer? Do I get to call myself that without having anything published? I suppose this can be the topic of my very first article.

I read in a book (about writing) years ago, that if you write, you are a writer. I see the point, but I often wonder, do others perceive me to be a writer? Yes, that's always been one of my biggest fears. True, some friends recognize I love to write. But am I an author? If I have nothing officially published, can I call myself an author? Or is that title reserved for the lucky ones who have actually been published? Lucky? Or is it hard work and determination? Am I lacking the training I need? Do I not have the correct connections? Is my writing not good enough? All valid questions and ones I shall be addressing in the near future. For today, my fear is solely on the following question.
Am I an author? I do have an eight episode YA short story series. Unpublished, of course. Though I have been posting the polished bits to my blog here. But does that make me an author?
Am I really a writer?
What do you think?

Thank you for joining me, as I explore the rest of my insecurities and a few of the questions listed above in the following months.

My IWSG postings will be done the first Wednesday of every month. My fellow writers will be doing like-wise. Are you an insecure writer? Why not join the group? You can find out more information via the website found HERE.
The site is founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh - Thanks for all the support!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Battle of the Bands - Wallflower

As a youth, I was the shy and quiet type. If I were to attend a party, I'd be the wallflower, the one sitting by myself while others were off having a good time. If I had any companion next to me it was most likely another wallflower. We'd have nothing in common except our shyness and little to no conversations.
"Having a good time?"
"No, not really."
"Me either."
(An awkward minute would transpire).
"Well.... See you later."
"Bye, nice talking to you."

Oh, who am I kidding? I'm still that person. Which is what makes the following song battle strike a bit too close to home. And yet, I've been on both sides of the coin. I've been both the wallflower, and the person enamoured with the wallflower. So both versions of this weeks battle song have meaning for me.

The first contender is Doug Sahm. As he sings, I imagine myself singing the very same thing to the wallflower I'm fond of. Will she notice me? Probably not. Anyway, what do you think of the song?



Our second contender, Diana Krall, is one of my personal favourite singers of all time. As she sings, I imagine her coming to my rescue as I hold up the back wall at the dance. She's falling in love with me as she sees me sitting off alone. Geez, I think I need to get out more.



So those are the two contenders. Ignoring the actual videos, who do you think performs the song best? I collected the two bands to battle it out, now it's your job. Time to vote on your favourite. Please vote for your preferred song choice and let me know in the comments. Also, please let me know why you feel the way you do. Voting ends on the 8th when I'll cast my own vote and announce the winner in a separate posting.

Did you enjoy the Battle of the Bands feature? Come back on the 15th of September when I'll have a new battle. Also, be sure to check out my friends below who have banded together to offer up their own musical battles.

FAR AWAY SERIES
STMcC PRESENTS 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS'
TOSSING IT OUT
JINGLE JANGLE JUNGLE
WOMEN: WE SHALL OVERCOME
YOUR DAILY DOSE
BOOK LOVER
MIKE'S RAMBLINGS
CURIOUS AS A CATHY
THE SOUND OF ONE HAND TYPING
DCRELIEF - BATTLE OF THE BANDS
THE DOGLADY'S DEN
CHERDO ON THE FLIPSIDE
ANGELS BARK
NOVEL BREWS
QUIET LAUGHTER
HOLLI'S HOOTS AND HOLLERS

Are you currently in the BOTB and don't see your name in the list above? Let me know in comments and I'll include it.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Battle of the Bands Results - Somebody That I Used to Know

I've been pretty happy with the battles I've been putting together since I decided to join the Battle of the Bands, Bandwagon. Not only have I been getting a lot of responses, I've also been getting a lot of positive feedback. For a while in my blog articles, I didn't feel it. but I can't deny the fact that you like me. Right now you like me. I hope it lasts for a long time, and I won't end up being just somebody that you used to know.

Which reminds me. How did this episode of Battle of the Bands turn out? As you are fully aware, our battle this time around was against Violinists, Fuse vs. Lisa Hannigan. Just about everyone loved Fuse, but felt without the lyrics they were hard-pressed to accept them as their favourite. This was clear in our first round as we see Lisa beat Fuse 2-1. Or 4-2, to be more precise.

But our second round saw Fuse making a come-back. A bare back to be more precise. This time, the violins beat out the vocals. Fuse received three votes and Lisa only two. The total thus far was Fuse 5, and Lisa 6.

Lisa refused to let Fuse come back and take the lead. Our third round was gruelling, and Fuse fought back with everything they had. Those violin bows are nice for poking people you. So despite both contestants giving it everything they had, the result was three votes each. Neither group was giving up. The total after three rounds? Fuse 8, Lisa Hannigan 9.

Our fourth and final round consisted of five more votes being cast, my own included. With Fuse and Lisa each receiving two more votes, I broke the fourth round tie by siding with Fuse. So Fuse received three votes and Lisa received only two. This means the total was....
You guessed it. ANOTHER TIE!!!! Each with 11 votes.


Top Comments

Shady Del Knight - The Lisa Hannigan version gets off to a slow start but I continued to listen and when she unleashed the full glory of her vocal instrument, my eyes rolled back in my head. I think Lisa would sound exactly like Melanie Safka if she ever decided to cover the Woodstock anthem "Lay Down Candles in the Rain." I was totally won over (blown away is more like it) by Lisa's performance and she gets my vote.

Guilie Castillo - Jeff, you always post battles that both make me swoon and bang my head on the wall. I vote for Lisa. (Ouch.) Look, the Fuse version is amazing, and I'd gladly listen to it every day on repeat for -- well, for a long time. But... as musically amazing as they are, as talented as their execution is, this is one of those songs that (for me) hinges on the lyrics. I'm so, so sorry, Fuse.

Michele Truhlik - I miss not hearing the words so my vote is going to Lisa Hannigan.

Birgit –This song cries out for the lyrics so Lisa gets my vote. Yes this was done before but not the same artists I believe so this is great. I like Lisa's voice and the way she put meaning into the song. Fuse is excellent but we need the lyrics:)

Arlee Bird - These are both good versions, but for me the violin trumps the vocal.

CowgirlKate - There's just something so melancholy and emotional that gets me right in the chest when I hear beautifully played violin.

Chrys Fey - I love violins! I also thought it was weird that they were naked.

The Armchair Squid
Ms. Hannigan all the way. She had me from the moment she opened her mouth to sing.

mike spain - Again another eclectic battle of the bands so job well done. My vote goes for Fuse!

Jay Noel - I love both of them. I have to go with Lisa Hannigan, as her voice is so angelic.

farawayeyes - Personally I find this song irritating, it was much less irritating to me as an instrumental. Give my vote to FUSE.


Winners Circle
Since I ended in another tie. I've decided to offer another video from each of the contenders. Feel free to watch at your leisure, if you've enjoyed either band.






Thanks to everyone who stopped by and placed a vote.
Come back again for a new battle 01 September.
Who will you vote for?
What song will I choose?
Which artists will battle it out?
Stay tuned.

Don't forget to visit the other participants in the Battle of the Band to see who won their battles.

STMcC PRESENTS 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS'
TOSSING IT OUT
JINGLE JANGLE JUNGLE
WOMEN: WE SHALL OVERCOME
YOUR DAILY DOSE
BOOK LOVER
MIKE'S RAMBLINGS
CURIOUS AS A CATHY
THE SOUND OF ONE HAND TYPING
DCRELIEF - BATTLE OF THE BANDS
THE DOGLADY'S DEN
CHERDO ON THE FLIPSIDE
ANGELS BARK
FAR AWAY SERIES
NOVEL BREWS
QUIET LAUGHTER
HOLLI'S HOOTS AND HOLLERS

Are you currently in the BOTB and don't see your name in the list above? Let me know in comments and I'll include it.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Battle of the Bands - Somebody That I Used To Know

For some reason, I'm thinking this battle may have already been covered by another one of my fellow BOTB companions below. But I'm not that worried about it, because duplicates are bound to happen. I'm especially not worried about it for two reasons. One, I know I'm offering up two completely different versions. And two, I really like the song. The words are profound when thinking of a past love, or even a friend who has left your life. It wasn't too long ago I discussed friends who do the disappearing act. You can find that article HERE. I don't often post the lyrics of the song I'm battling, but I wanted to highlight the bits from the song I find profound. Sometimes I think back to my failed marriage and identify with what's said.

Told myself that you were right for me
But felt so lonely in your company
JS: Loneliness can make us do odd things. Even see something that isn't there. Trust me, I know.

You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end
JS: I've found I've become very accustomed to a certain kind of sadness. It certainly manifests itself frequently in my life. As I've gotten older, I've spent more time alone, even crave it. I do this, even when on the inside I'm longing to be out with friends or family. I certainly need to get out more.

But I'll admit that I was glad that it was over
JS: Okay, hands up everyone who has ever been in a relationship that finally ended, and though sad, you are almost glad it's finally over.

Yes, as I said. The songs means a lot to me. But enough about me, let's move on to the actual songs. I wanted to do something a little different this week. I've decided to put two songs up that are really quite different from each other. The videos are certainly very different. But remember, we are judging the songs based on the actual song, and not the video.

Our first contender is another of my favourite electric string groups.
Ben Lee is the dashing, master violinist. He's so awesome, he holds a Guinness World Record for his talents.
Linzi Stoppard is the gorgeous other half of Fuse. Her talents involve not only modelling, but playing expertly, as she always does.
This duo love to play modern day songs, with their own little spin to them. Let's give them a listen:



Lisa Hannigan I found quite by accident. Her rendition of this song is so different and unique I instantly fell in love with it. It's a great song, and she plays it well with the rest of her band. Let's listen to her version.


So those are the two contenders. Ignoring the actual videos, (as awesome as I find both), who do you think performs the song best? I collected the two bands to battle it out, now it's your job. Time to vote on your favourite. Please vote for your preferred song choice and let me know in the comments. Also, please let me know why you feel the way you do. Voting ends on the 31st when I'll cast my own vote and announce the winner in a separate posting.

Did you enjoy the Battle of the Bands feature? Come back on the 1st of September when I'll have a new battle. Also, be sure to check out my friends below who have banded together to offer up their own musical battles.

FAR AWAY SERIES
STMcC PRESENTS 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS'
TOSSING IT OUT
JINGLE JANGLE JUNGLE
WOMEN: WE SHALL OVERCOME
YOUR DAILY DOSE
BOOK LOVER
MIKE'S RAMBLINGS
CURIOUS AS A CATHY
THE SOUND OF ONE HAND TYPING
DCRELIEF - BATTLE OF THE BANDS
THE DOGLADY'S DEN
CHERDO ON THE FLIPSIDE
ANGELS BARK
NOVEL BREWS
QUIET LAUGHTER
HOLLI'S HOOTS AND HOLLERS

Are you currently in the BOTB and don't see your name in the list above? Let me know in comments and I'll include it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Piper Morgan Joins the Circus

Today, I'm very excited to welcome Stephanie Faris to my corner of the blogsphere. Stephanie is author of the books, '30 Days of No Gossip', '25 Roses' and the forthcoming, Piper Morgan series. I had the lovely chance to chat with her a bit about her new book, where she gets her inspiration from, and if she had any tips for aspiring writers. The transcript is below:

Jeffrey Scott: What can you tell my readers about your Piper Morgan series?
Stephanie Faris: Piper Morgan is a spunky seven-year-old who gets to travel the world with her mom. In the first book, Piper Morgan Joins the Circus, her mother gets a temporary job with the circus. Later books have her working in a school, at a pool store, and at a veterinary clinic.

JS: What inspires you most before you start writing anything new?
SF: I find I get my best ideas while reading other books. That’s why you’ll see me reading so many children’s books! The funny thing is, usually what I’m reading has absolutely nothing to do with the idea that hits me. Something about reading fiction just gets those wheels turning!

JS: What sort of research do you do to prepare?
SF: I do a lot of online research. For Piper Morgan Joins the Circus, I was desperate to go to a zoo but the zoo never came to town while I was writing! So I watched a ton of YouTube videos of circuses and spent hours reading behind-the-scenes articles about it.

JS: Do you create an outline or do you utilize something else to prepare?
SF: I’m not an outliner. I usually have to get those first couple of chapters down before I even have a grasp on the characters and the story. Then I’ll usually stop and write a synopsis to help myself understand where I’m going with this.

JS: When did you decide to become a writer?
SF: As a child, I read constantly. I remember reading advice that if you wanted to be a writer when you grew up, you should read and I figured, “Hey, I have that part down!” But to me, writing isn’t something you really consciously decide to do—it’s a talent you hone. I began experimenting by writing really cheesy poetry starting at the age of 13. I still have those poems somewhere. I probably should burn them!

JS: What authors have influenced you the most?
SF: Like many authors of my generation, I grew up on Stephen King novels. I think he’s had a huge influence on the writing community as a whole. As a writer for young readers, the person whose career I admire the most is Meg Cabot. I love that she’s been able to have so much success writing for just about every age group.

JS: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
SF: Read, read, read. I also have found that writers’ groups are very important. I was very active in Romance Writers of America when I first started and without the workshops and conferences I attended then, I probably wouldn’t be published today. Writers are among the most helpful, friendly people you’ll ever meet.

JS: Do you like your book covers? Are you always happy with them?
SF: I have been so lucky with my book covers! They’re always so fun and eye catching. I know that isn’t always the case, but I’ve never even had one thing I would change about any of them!

JS: How important do you think the cover of a book is for potential readers?
SF: Extremely important, even in an e-book era. Many bookstores place all the new books face-out and kids will look at the entire wall and go directly to the most eye-catching covers. Even with e-books, I’ll often scroll through books and see which covers catch my eye.

JS: Where can we buy your books? Or get additional information about you?
SF: 25 Roses and 30 Days of No Gossip are on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com. The Piper Morgan books don’t come out until next year, so they aren’t available for pre-order yet, but I’ll let everyone know when they are!

I'd like to thank Stephanie once again for stopping by.
Make sure to say hi to her in the comments below.
As a special treat, she's provided some additional information about her new book and contact details:


Piper Morgan Joins the Circus
Stephanie Faris

Cover illustration by Lucy Fleming.



Blurb:
When Piper Morgan has to move to a new town, she is sad to leave behind her friends, but excited for a new adventure. She is determined to have fun, be brave and find new friends.

And after learning her mom’s new job will be with the Big Top Circus, Piper can’t wait to learn all about life under the big top, see all the cool animals, and meet the Little Explorers, the other kids who travel with the show. She’s even more excited to learn that she gets to be a part of the Little Explorers and help them end each show with a routine to get the audience on their feet and dancing along!


But during Piper’s grand debut, her high kicks and pointed toes don't go quite as planned. After causing a dance disaster, she has to prove to everyone--especially queen of the Little Explorers, Lexie--that she belongs in the spotlight. 


Stephanie Faris:



Bio:
Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in broadcast journalism, she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing.

Stephanie is the Simon & Schuster author of 30 Days of No Gossip and 25 Roses, as well as the upcoming Piper Morgan series. When she isn’t crafting fiction, she writes for a variety of online websites on the topics of business, technology, and her favorite subject of all—fashion. She lives in Nashville with her husband, a sales executive. 


Links:

Website

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Battle of the Band Results - Summertime Blues

The Wisconsin State Fair just started this weekend. It always bums me out when the fair starts because when it is over, it's the first sign that Summer is wrapping up. I suppose, that's part of my Summertime Blues. What signals the end of Summer for you?

Another thing that might make a person feel blue, is to lose a competition. In this edition of Battle of the Bands, I fear one of the contestant is going to be feeling blue. But who is it going to be? Here is a little hint from the first round of votes. After the first five votes were compiled, Alan Jackson took an early lead of 5-1. In fact, Alan Jackson took the first four votes.

Round two arrived and again Alan Jackson took charge, scoring four of six votes. It seemed Olivia Newton-John was not fairing well. She was now trailing behind AJ 9-3. But I've seen put up a better fight in future rounds. Was that going to happen this week?

The third round was exciting for me, mostly because I saw some familiar faces stop by I haven't seen in awhile to cast a vote. There was even a friend of mine who surprised me by stopping in to vote. Did any of this help Olivia? Not at all. Another six votes were cast in round three and Alan Jackson walked away with five of the votes.

Our fourth and final round sealed the deal, and really if all votes had gone to Olivia, she would still have lost. But did she get any in the last round of voting? She did, just one. And even being an Olivia Newton-John fan, I had to admit I liked the Alan Jackson (Country) version better. Shhhhh, don't tell anyone I picked the country song.

Final Tally
Olivia Newton-John - 5
Alan Jackson - 19


Top Comments

Debbie D.
Between these two, my choice is Alan Jackson. Olivia's voice is too "girly".

Alex J. Cavanaugh
Sorry, Olivia is just too cute. And I do like her version better.

Arlee Bird
I love Olivia, but not so much on this song. It's just not her.
My vote goes to Alan Jackson--name, twang, and fiddle too.

Stephen T. McCarthy
Aww, JEFFREY, you stole a song from my 'Future BOTB Songs' list. But that's OK, because I was planning on using two different performers, and so I may do that still, somewhere down the road.

Stephanie Faris
I was a huge ONJ fan as a kid and I'd never heard her version of that song before. Her voice has always been so amazing!

Robin
I've loved the AJ version since it came out. To be fair, I've loved ONJ since Grease. BUT, I didn't really care for her take on this song. I think maybe the song is just better suited for a male voice. Or maybe an alto voice in a female. So, I gotta give this one to Alan Jackson:)

Cerebrations.biz
First vote- goes to the song on the commercial before Jackson's version!

Janie Junebug
I vote for Olivia Newton John. I've loved her for so long. I saw her perform the week that I Honestly Love You because #1. Alan Jackson is too twangy. I'm not a big country music fan. Olivia has a great voice.

Rachel Hoyt
I love this feature! I do hope you'll feature some unknown artists with amazing covers on YouTube. :)
I enjoyed Olivia's version quite a bit, having never heard it, but Alan gets my vote. He's just so much more peppy any fun. Olivia slowed it down a little and it lost something for me.

Doe Do
Alan Jackson is such incredible singer. U are handsome and nice voice.

Spacerguy
I've chosen Olivia Newton John. She injects a lively round of brio into her Summer Time blues. - There ain't no cure for the summer times blue, which is so true.


Winners Circle 

Congratulations to Alan Jackson for winning this edition of Battle of the Bands. As a special thank you to everyone who voted, I present another classic Alan Jackson song. Enjoy!



Thanks to everyone who stopped by and placed a vote.
Come back again for a new battle August 15th.
Who will you vote for?
What song will I choose?
Which artists will battle it out?
Stay tuned.

Don't forget to visit the other participants in the Battle of the Band to see who won their battles.

STMcC PRESENTS 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS'
TOSSING IT OUT
JINGLE JANGLE JUNGLE
WOMEN: WE SHALL OVERCOME
YOUR DAILY DOSE
BOOK LOVER
MIKE'S RAMBLINGS
CURIOUS AS A CATHY
THE SOUND OF ONE HAND TYPING
DCRELIEF - BATTLE OF THE BANDS
THE DOGLADY'S DEN
CHERDO ON THE FLIPSIDE
ANGELS BARK
FAR AWAY SERIES
NOVEL BREWS
QUIET LAUGHTER
HOLLI'S HOOTS AND HOLLERS

Are you currently in the BOTB and don't see your name in the list above? Let me know in comments and I'll include it.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Battle of the Bands - Summertime Blues

Summertime is here! You know what that means don't you? Festivals, holidays, fairs, beer gardens, picnics, fireworks, music concerts, beaches, barbecues, I'm sure I could go on. There is generally so much to do in Summer, it's hard to pack it all in. And if you are like me, coins start to run a little short. At some point during the Summer, you have to start making choices. Which event is most important for you to do? When will you schedule the fun and excitement? Can you earn more money to stretch your dollar? Will you plan to invite others to join you? It's enough to make one feeling blue. So many choices for the Summer.

In 1958 Eddie Cochran was having his own problems with Summer, which is when he released his song, 'Summertime Blues'. It seems a lot of people could relate to the song because it became a big hit and many artists have performed covers of the song. In this instalment of Battle of the Bands, we will listen to two artists who have covered the song. Can you relate to these Summertime Blues? Which song do you prefer?

Over 15 years after Eddie's song was released, Olivia Newton-John covered the song. It was 1975, and the song appeared on her 'Clearly Love' album. Do you like her version?


It would be almost another 20 years before Alan Jackson performed his version. The song appears on his 1994 album, 'Who I Am'. It's also the first song on the album.


So those are the two contenders. Ignoring the actual videos, who do you think performs the song best? I found the two bands to battle it out, now it's your job. Time to vote on your favourite. Please vote for your preferred song choice and let me know in the comments. Also, please let me know why you feel the way you do. Voting ends on the 14th when I'll cast my own vote and announce the winner in a separate posting.

Did you enjoy the Battle of the Bands feature? Come back on the 15th of August when I'll have a new battle. Also, be sure to check out my friends below who have banded together to offer up their own musical battles.

FAR AWAY SERIES
STMcC PRESENTS 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS'
TOSSING IT OUT
JINGLE JANGLE JUNGLE
WOMEN: WE SHALL OVERCOME
YOUR DAILY DOSE
BOOK LOVER
MIKE'S RAMBLINGS
CURIOUS AS A CATHY
THE SOUND OF ONE HAND TYPING
DCRELIEF - BATTLE OF THE BANDS
THE DOGLADY'S DEN
CHERDO ON THE FLIPSIDE
ANGELS BARK
NOVEL BREWS
QUIET LAUGHTER
HOLLI'S HOOTS AND HOLLERS

Are you currently in the BOTB and don't see your name in the list above? Let me know in comments and I'll include it.