I Got To Write For Yacht Rock!

LOOK AT HIS ADORABLE FACE!

LOOK AT HIS ADORABLE FACE!

I’ve been a disciple of the webseries Yacht Rock for years (thanks to Matthew, of course).  It helped re-awaken my love for smooth music, plus it’s funny as hell and I think that JD Ryznar is super-cute.  (I think my love of midwestern guys as firmly been established on this blog).

So naturally, when the guys of Yacht Rock got on Twitter to promote the new Beyond Yacht Rock podcast, I stalked them until one fateful day when JD messaged me to tell me that he enjoyed my Record Saturday pick.  I seriously fangirled, everybody.  Like, embarrassingly so.  We got chatting more, and I sent him a copy of The Big Rewind.  And when they started The Captain’s Blog, I offered to write for them.  He accepted my pitch, and the essay, titled “I F**king Love Steely Dan & You Should Too” was published earlier this week.

It was, to put it mildly, a hit.  It’s also the most honest thing I’ve ever written, coming straight from the gut.  I really do love Steely Dan that much.

The essay is here.  It contains extremely vulgar language and threats of violence, so if you’re my Dad, please don’t read it.  You’ve been warned.  They are always seeking content, so send them a pitch!

I’ve also got a piece on The Smiths, Meat Is Murder at the RS-500, an amazing blog that’s compiling stories inspired by every single album on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums list.  It’s been a great week for my music journalism career!

Tear Down To The Bones

scissors_PNG1When I was a teenager, I LOVED buying thrift-store clothes and altering them.  (Like everything I did, I did this before it was cool.  What can I say? I’m a trend-setter).  I was a teen in the age on JNCOs and pointy-toe stiletto boots, and a goth girl, to boot.  I had to make due with what I had, but as a result, I had some amazingly cool clothes.

And although my days of wearing cigarette-cut pants trimmed with neon purple boas are over, the ability to tear something down and salvage the good pieces again is really coming in handy on my Work in Progress.

I’ve written almost two full first drafts of a new novel, and both of them are going to be scrapped.  The first draft was like a pair of fancy cut-offs: Cut out the pieces with the holes worn through, but embellish what’s left.  The second draft, it seems, is going to be more like an old concert shirt, stretched and faded beyond use.  Cut out the best part and see if there’s something else you can sew it onto–a tank top, a tote bag, a throw pillow.  Make something useful out of scraps.

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Book Swag and Temptation

I love writer swag.  Notebooks, fancy pens, tote bags, stickers with book quotes on them.  I drool over The Writer‘s monthly Take Note column, listing all the things I could buy to make myself a better writer.  If I sling my typewriter tote bag over my shoulder, people will know that I labor over the craft each perfect sentence in my masterpiece.  If I wear my NaNoWriMo t-shirt, people will see that I am capable of writing a novel in 30 days.  They will see me with my expensive pen and my leather-bound notebook at the coffee shop and murmur, “Yes, there is a real writer, you can tell she is very serious because she has a a scarf with books on it.”

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Steely Dan, New Notebooks, and Other Dark Sarcasm

Let me start by saying that I’m listening to a lot of Steely Dan as I write this, so if it comes off as rambling, dark and sarcastic, I apologize.  Every time I put on a Steely Dan record, I find myself thinking why am I not spending every minute of every day listening to Steely Dan?  Becker/Fagen are to my 30s as Morrissey/Marr were to my 20s, a constant, reassuring soundtrack.  Every time I listen to an album, I discover something new to love about a song I’ve heard a thousand times before. (How could I forget about “Caves of Altamira?”  Was “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” always this brilliant?).

Matthew & I saw our third Dan show at the Beacon on Wednesday; last time we saw them play Gaucho in full and when they played “Josie” I thought my heart would explode.  The first time we saw them, they busted out “The Second Arrangement.”  And I’ve seen Donald Fagen play with the Dukes of September Rhythm Review, as well as seeing fellow Dukes Boz Scaggs & Michael McDonald on their own tours.  (Also, I am kind of in love with Donald Fagen and wish he would write a charmingly sleazy song about me, more “Slinky Thing” than “Cousin Dupree.”)

But Wednesday night, they opened with “Black Cow” (one of my favorites) and played “FM,” which made me so insanely happy that I screamed.  They played “Josie” too, and “Peg,” and “Black Friday.”  If they had played “What a Shame About Me,” I might have died of happiness.

In addition to the show, Matthew and I took a few days to work on some writing.  The way I’ve been barreling through notebook pages, I’m on Dutch’s last signature, and he’ll only last another week, at most.  And Gail, hale and hearty as she is, is nearing the end of her line, with only a signature left before she’s retired to the bookshelf.

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On Triathlons and The Myth of ‘Wasted Words’

628x471One of the coolest parts about my job as a reporter is that for all the meetings I attend and hard news I write, I also get to do a whole host of feature stories, which means I get to meet a lot of interesting people.  And last week, once again, I got to dip into my email and pull up Olympic triathlete Sarah True’s (formally Groff) contact and email her congratulating her on qualifying for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio.

Sarah, like her sister Lauren ( NYT bestselling author of Monsters of Templeton and the forthcoming Fates and Furies) are Cooperstown natives, so whenever they do something awesome — which is seemingly all the time — I get in touch and write a story.

And as I looked through photos of the qualifying race, I thought about what it takes to compete in a triathlon.  I ride my bike into town to get coffee, sure, and I can run to catch a bus pulling away from the curb, maybe swim a little in a hotel pool when I’m on vacation, so seeing someone like Sarah kicking ass on the course just blows my mind.  And she got there by practicing her butt off, swimming Otsego Lake as a teenager, and getting up every day to ride and run and swim some more.  You don’t get to the Olympics twice by playing video games and eating chips all day.
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Keeping a Notebook Pt. 2

Let me introduce you to my papercraft creations:

The Book of Crows: My first!  The spine is a mess, but it’s still got a cool look to it.  I went a little crazy in the papercraft section of Michaels, hence the knob on the front cover.  HOWEVER, the knob makes it impossible to lay the book flat, which is a mistake I won’t make again.  I use this notebook for writing weird fantasy stories, and thus it is filled with skeleton stickers and cut-out panels from The Goon.  This one also has a built-in bookmark, which is its own lovely little piece of artwork.

The Book of Crows

The Book of Crows

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The Book of Crows — Interior

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Galley Copies

UglyCryMy galley copies of The Big Rewind arrived yesterday and…wow.  They’re incredible.  To actually hold my own book in my hands, to see my name on a cover is such a thrill that I lack the words to describe it.  For the whole night I kept picking it up and turning it over in my hands, thinking this is really happening.  That’s my name!  On the cover of a book!  Those are my words, my sentences, my scenes all laid out in actual, book-like form!  Eee!  It doesn’t seem real.

And yes, I cried when I opened the box.

And the best part is that my husband, Ian, who hasn’t read the book in any form, is devouring it.  Not just because I wrote it (he’s very honest which stories of mine he loves and which ones aren’t his thing)  but because he’s actually enjoying the book.  I had to banish him to the other room last night because I wanted to go to sleep and he couldn’t put it down.  That might be the best endorsement I’ve gotten so far!