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Sunday
Sep072014

Tom's passage to India

Last July, a freelance reviewer and blogger from India contacted me through my website contact form:

Hope you are doing fine. I would love to read [WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'?] and write a review for the same. If you could kindly send me a paper-back copy of your book, that would be so great. I don't have a Kindle unfortunately."--Aditi SahaThis is Aditi's profile picture on Goodreads


So, I did what any writer desperate for reviews on Amazon and Goodreads would do. I thanked Aditi profusely for looking me up, asked for her mailing address, packed up 'TOM JONES', and sent him off to India.

When Aditi told me part of her six-line mailing address included these parenthetical directions--Landmark: Near Committee's Big Pond--I just knew that 'TOM JONES' would end up floating aimlessly down the Ganges from the pit of a crocodile's belly.

Here is the valiant mailman, trying to keep the novel from the jaws of a crocodile
O me of little faith in the USPS and the Indian mail system. My novel reached Aditi ten days later. And not only did she read it, she reviewed it, very generously, on Goodreads, Amazon US, and Amazon India. (I am embarrassed to say that I didn't even know there was an Amazon India).

OMG! WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES' is terribly funny, I'm going "ROFL" over this book. Do read this book to catch the humor and hilarious moments and dialogues. The characters also add up to the wittiness of this book. And when the old residents get involved in footsteps of Sherlock Holmes, things get messy, chaotic and very, very funny. Ellie is sweet and witty and her chemistry with the residents of the retirement home is very interesting. The chemistry between the detective and Ellie is quite rocking and passionate and lights up the whole book!

Click here to read the complete review on Amazon India.

Wow. My first review for any book on Amazon India. By the way, the paperback version is a steal. Only 796 rupees!

Was this a fun exercise? Absolutely. I am so grateful for readers who take a passionate interest in my work. It's what writers like me live for. Would I do it again? Indubitably. Now that I know a crocodile isn't snacking on my literary masterpieces, I am sending Aditi a copy of GRACE UNEXPECTED.

Friday
Sep052014

'Grace' knocks one out of the park!

Now, an e-book to be published by Amazon!I am SO totally jazzed to share some truly exciting news with readers and loyal blog followers. This week my Seattle-based publisher Booktrope entered into a new business relationship with Amazon, beginning with a mutual licensing deal that deepens ties with Amazon to a significant degree.

This licensing deal directly impacts me because I was one of the ten authors whose novels the folks from Amazon selected for this opportunity. What this means is the digital version of Grace Unexpected, my second novel published by Booktrope, will be reissued under Amazon Publishing as an e-book and/or audio book under Amazon’s imprint while still crediting Booktrope. This agreement covers 15 of Booktrope’s nearly 300 titles.

Words cannot express how excited I am to have had this opportunity literally drop into my lap, and I wanted to share my very happy news with my treasured readers and fans first.

If you would like to learn more about this new relationship, here is the link to the official Booktrope announcement.

And my sincere thanks for your continued support of my writing. I will keep you posted as this new publishing arrangement unfolds.

In the meantime, if you are not familiar with the novel, you can read more about Grace Unexpected here.

Monday
Sep012014

WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'? takes Bronze in Readers' Fave Award

This is the first year I entered the Readers' Favorite International Book Contest. Since I published WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'? in 2014, I decided to enter that novel. First, it was named a finalist. And today I learned it won the Bronze Award.

I am so happy for this recognition and am grateful to my creative and editorial team--editor Toddie Downs, proofreader Evelyne Topfer, and cover designer Greg Simanson for their help.

And a special shout out to Ellen Sterling and the best Tom Jones impersonator working today Steve McCoy for their special contributions to the book's success.

Sunday
Aug312014

Here they are: Best popular songs of all time, per me!

Enough with the deliberation. Time to end the hand wringing. Without further adieu, here are my votes for the TEN best contemporary popular songs for WXPN-FM's Annual Countdown, in order of release date.

1. 1967 - RESPECT - Aretha Franklin
Nobody does R&B like Aretha--not then, not now. Aretha, you are the queen of my Motown-loving heart. Props to Otis Redding for the songwriting credits on this one, too.

2. 1968 - WITCHITA LINEMAN - Glen Campbell
Glen Campbell didn't write this tune--Jimmy Webb did--but Campbell made it a hit. He felt it, he breathed it, he owned it. It carved a place in my soul when I first heard it, and many decades later, it still moves me.

3. 1970 - LAYLA - Derek and the Dominoes
For a whole year after I heard this song written by Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon, I fervently wished I had been named Layla. Need I see any more than that about this mindblowing song?

4. 1972 - SUPERSTITION - Stevie Wonder
You can rock out to it; you can take a social lesson from it. It's a stunning piece of work, just like so many other songs Stevie recorded around that time. This song grabs me in the gut from the opening drum beat in anticipation of an exciting and incredible musical journey each time I hear this song. Can you believe this dates back to 1972? It's like I just heard it yesterday.

5. 1973- JOLENE - Dolly Parton
Other artists have recorded this tune, but Dolly wrote it, and gosh darn it, if she doesn't also sing it the best though she never got enough credit as a songwriter. I mean, her breasts were more heralded than her musical gifts. You rock, Dolly, even if you don't know it at the time of this taping.

6. 1977 - JUST THE WAY YOU ARE - Billy Joel
There are so many Billy Joel tunes I could have chosen ("Always a Woman," "New York State of Mind"), but this one is ubiquitous. It was a Grammy Song the Year. It's a Gale Martin Song of My Lifetime.

7. 1982 - BEAT IT - Michael Jackson
Michael wrote this song, Quincy Jones produced it, and the music world changed as a result of "Beat It." It offered a powerful West Side Story-esque vibe/message for the Big Hair generation, including me. The Michael Jackson who remade himself from child star was at his prime and simply an incredible performer.

8. 1982- ALWAYS ON MY MIND - Willie Nelson
It's not Willie's song, but every time I hear him sing this, it moves me to tears. Like Jackson, he had become a caricature of himself later in his career, he is authentic in this gifted rendition.

9. 1991- WALKING IN MEMPHIS - Marc Cohn
I never tire of hearing this song. Love the ambiguity of the key, the blue notes, the lyrics, the reflection combined with urgency, the back-up gospel choir, the plantive piano riffs. Perfection!

10. 2002- LOSE YOURSELF - Eminem
As an anthem for the downtrodden who are ambitious to do something, to be something the world will respect you for and remember you for, it just doesn't get any better than this. This is from the movie 8 Mile, which is a powerful and incredible film. Gritty but affirming just like this anthem.

It was interesting to me that recording artists today are expected to be the songwriters of their own hits whereas that wasn't the norm decades ago. Renditions or "covers" as they now call them can also be powerful, as Willie Nelson proved with his version of "Always On My Mind." 

There were so many others that I could have and should have mentioned on this list. Thankfully, my husband's list is less idiosyncratic and fills in my gaps (yes, he has the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Ray Charles). If you disagree with my choices, why don't you make your own list and vote yourself?

Sunday
Aug172014

The greatest modern songs? My head is spinning!

The world's hardest contest?Each year, WXPN-FM out of Philadelphia (the station with whom I have an enduring love/hate relationship) asks listeners to submit their nominations for songs based on a theme. This year's theme is nearly impossible for someone who loves music as much as I do:

"885 All-Time Greatest and Worst Songs"

This is almost undoable on many levels. First, what kind of songs do they mean? Songs played on WXPN? They've played opera arias on WXPN such as "The Flower Duet" by Delibes. Can we submit those? They've played show tunes and movie themes? Are those eligible?

So you can see the theme is too broad. Even if you toss out show tunes and opera arias/classical and stick to contemporary music, the theme is still too broad. Should Benny Goodman's "Sing, Sing, Sing" be included or perhaps "Rhapsody in Blue" by Gershwin or will they be a throwaway votes, once again sending Bruce Springsteen into the top ten?

If I vote for "The Christmas Song" sung by Nat King Cole and "Thunder Road" by Springsteen wins this contest AGAIN, I am going to blow a gasket.

I don't live in the heads of WXPN radio show hosts, and I don't know what they mean by "All-Time Greatest Songs." This is an unfortunate case of GM Executive Syndrome, where all those at WXPN making the decisions are thinking too insularly, as if all of their listeners think just like them.

Last night, my husband Bill and I discussed our top ten lists. I told Bill I wasn't going to name artists who should be on anyone's top ten list and then select one of their songs. Instead, I would try to recall the songs that really moved me, that sent me into orbit, the first time I heard them. And there are so many that didn't make my list such as these great tunes:

  • "Spinning Wheel" by Blood, Sweat and Tears
  • "Fields of Gold" by Sting
  • "Wicked Game" by Chris Issac
  • "Another Star" or "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder
  • "Walking on Broken Glass" by Annie Lennox
  • "Don't Know Why" by Norah Jones
  • "Up, Up, and Away" by the Fifth Dimension
  • "Baby, Now That I've Found You" by Allison Krauss
  • "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen
  • "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin

I can't fit everyone who needs to be on my list on my list. How can I not include Billy Joel, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, and The Beatles? Or Steely Dan, Annie Lennox, Sly and the Family Stone, and Ray Charles?

So, who did make my list? Well, I'm still finalizing it. In the meantime, I'll leave you to ponder my quandary while listening to this little gem from my lifetime:

And a noodge to WXPN--once again, you didn't list a #hashtag on the contest info page. Sheesh! You guys are killing me. (It happens to be #885countdown but I had to go digging for it.)