Raising happy children

“Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.”~ Everett Koop

How do we help our children become happy and healthy adults while promoting well being, positivity, and connection as they are growing up and facing the joys and challenges of life.

1– Spend Time with Deep Connection: Take the time to play, listen, and engage in sharing feelings and communication to let them know that you value them, their opinions, and their importance in your life.

2–Discipline/ Catch Them Being Good: It is crucial to discipline the bad behavior, explaining that the behavior is not acceptable, not the child as an individual. Take notice when they are doing something good, and give positive praise without them looking for the recognition.

3– Give Specific Praise: Praise specific actions and don’t give general praise. Children will feel a sense of accomplishment when they know what they are being praised for specifically.

4– Positive Role Modeling: Children watch every move we make as adults and learn to follow the same patterns, whether positive or negative. Live and love the way you wish your child to be.

5– Support and celebrate Uniqueness: Everyone is unique in God’s eyes. Celebrate what your child brings to the family and let them know you appreciate their special qualities.

6–Negative labels: Be careful of labels you give in passing, such as shy or rebellious. Children will live up to or down to our expectations of them, and quickly assume those identities.

7– Success in the Face of Failure: Give credit for success in every instance. Teach them to accept failure as a learning tool and help them look for opportunities on how to improve.

8– Appropriate Sense of Power: Allow them to fulfill certain duties . make decisions and try to solve problems on their own, giving them praise for attempting and accomplishing tasks.

The role of a parent is to promote the well being and help the child learn, grow, assimilate and live a happy and fulfilling life.

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All good intentions don’t always come to completion. Sometimes I’m the worse procrastinator. I sit at my desk and look at a stack of bills, my to-do list, and a long string of emails to answer.

I get up, make the bed, clean the bathrooms and pour another cup of coffee, then pop it into the microwave. The phone rings, and I screen the call, then let it go to message.

It’s trash day. Hubby has taken the cart to the front, but now it’s time to listen for the truck. If I don’t get it back to its resting place, the wind from cars flying down the road could fling the cart into the road. Yes, we’ve had this happen. Who wants to be sued over a trash can?

I go back to my Word document and try, unsuccessfully to add words to the article. There’s too much running through my head to settle on one subject. So…since I have two loads of laundry to finish today, off I go to the laundry room. Okay, that’s at least one accomplishment started.

By now I’m beginning to feel crummy that I’ve wasted a couple of hours writing time. But now I hear the trash truck outside. I change into street clothes and head outside. I see my neighbor isn’t home, and since we trade weeks, I grab her trash can then drag mine to the side of the house.


Time to get back to work. The words come at a slow pace. The washing machine’s cycle stops. I separate quickly drying items from the others. That’s done.

I go back to the computer and decide to pull out my production schedule. Well…so far today’s schedule hasn’t gone so good. I take a few deep breaths and determine to finish the article before I get involved with anything else. Period.

Inspiration is needed, but I don’t search online for motivation, I brainstorm with myself. So far, so good. Still. My mind wanders to sales for the day, should I take a moment to check or…I push the thought away. I’m glued to the chair and my article. Finally the article is complete and I’m feeling pretty good about the glue in my chair. Lol

I know that I must stick to my schedule, allow separate times for housework and other chores, or the dust-bunnies will continue to increase.

Is your to-do list growing and gathering dust? Do you procrastinate? If not, what does your work schedule look like?

I wish you love, butterflies and music. 10565180_10152593237463954_545990101477851522_n

Links to my books, available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords, can be found here: http://caroldevaney.weebly.com/my-books.html

Advice to Romance Readers by Stephanie Queen

WRitingLetterToday, I’m going to take the opportunity to spout off pontificate preach delight  whatever communicate to readers of romance. I love to talk, but since I’m a writer, I’ll write you all a letter. Of advice. With my sincerest crazy expert opinion about reading romance novels. (My ridiculous chauffeur Myren had no input whatsoever in the writing of this letter. In case you were wondering.)


Dear Reader,

First about me my credentials: I’ve been reading romance novels since I got out of college and discovered sexy popular novels after years of being so tremendously bored with tomes about internal rates of return that I considered becoming an agriculture major because they at least participated in calf-birthing and such   intellectual stimulation. I had to rest my fried  enormous brain over-worked mind. I became hopelessly addicted to the point of spending the laundry money on books  instantly enthralled by romance novels. Now, seemingly a century several years later, I feel tired impatient confident that I can trick you into thinking I have valuable input for you. So here’s a few pointers on how to maximize your enjoyment of reading romance novels from a long time old writer reader and reader writer:

  • Pointer #1: Never skip to the end because you know what’s going to happen anyway—of course they live happily ever after because it’s the tense moments of the journey that count the most. You must give the story and characters at least 5 pages a chance to simmer for that slow build to the climax. (I’m talking about READING here).
  • Pointer #2:   Never Always Judge a book by it’s cover. Clearly I’m conflicted certain full of baloney an expert about this. The cover can tell you a lot  nothing at all the basics about what’s inside. But beware of the surprise especially the misleading annoying  surprise.
  • Pointer #3: Always find a closet where the kids can’t find you place to read where you can relax and have five stinking minutes some uninterrupted time to read the juicy parts entire novel in one sitting if possible.
  • Pointer #4: Always write a fan letter to the author!


Stephanie Queen

Stephanie Queen’s latest novel, Beachcomber Trouble, is Book 5 of Beachcomber Beachcomber Trouble Book 5 Cover1000x1500Investigations, a romantic detective series about a soul-weary special ops legend, Dane Blaise and his reluctant partner, the ambitious and stunning Shana George. Dane has no idea why he talked Shana into quitting Scotland Yard to join him—and no idea why she agreed to do it.

Here’s an excerpt from Beachcomber Trouble:

Dane punched in the fail-safe number only Oscar knew—or only Oscar should know. The flick of concern screeched along his back between his shoulder blades. After a beat, the trill of the line ringing on the other end shrilled through him in a pulse, one ring after another. Six times. He hung up.

It was the way they’d planned it. Oscar would call him back. Or not. The sharp slicing between his shoulder blades throbbed in time with the seconds. Shana watched him. Silent. She knew him well enough to remain blessedly mute and not ask questions. He ought to appreciate that more. A tic in his left jaw now accompanied the pain in his back to track the seconds until nearly a minute went by. A long slow excruciating minute during which he met Shana’s stare.

She scowled back with a mere hint of concern—and maybe a little guilt—shadowing the familiar look. None of it marred her goddamn gorgeousness. She must have sensed his snapping point because just as he was about to reach out and touch her hair, she spun around.

“How about a drink.” She went into the kitchen, reached into the cabinet, pulled two glasses out, and slammed them on the counter. He followed her.

The jaw tic intensified into a clench as he opened the freezer and yanked the bottle of tequila from the crusty ice tomb. The only tension he showed—aside from the almost invisible muscle tic—was the slamming shut of the freezer door.

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Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas

When of the most common questions people ask writers is where we get our ideas. Usually, my ideas come from living. My latest idea came from my first author visit.

My sister is a reading specialist at Polaris High School, a school for high risk students. She asked me to come and speak to an English class. It made me nervous. (You can read about my introverted ways here.) But I’m so glad I did it. Not only was it fun, but the story the kids plotted is now my work in progress! Here’s some of the notes I got from the kids (and teacher.)

Here’s the beginning of my new work-in-progress Menagerie.


The birds heralded the storm, as they always did. They liked to be the first in the know, although, as Liza had learned long ago, not all birds were created equal, and some species were much more reliable than others. Not that they lied, very few creatures had that ability or cunning, but rather in their haste to be the first in the know, some blurted out misconceptions and half-truths.

Not that Liza had much familiarity with liars—or people in general—but she’d read of several, as Rose, her mother, had accumulated an impressive library over the years. Not that Liza was in any position to know what was and was not impressive library-wise, or any otherwise, since Liza herself had never been off the island she and Rose called home.

The howling wind drowned out the calls of the birds and squirrels’ and chipmunks’ chatter. Opossum, skunks, and fox sought shelter in the forest’s thickets. Rats and mice scurried to find hidey-holes. Liza fetched an armful of wood from the shed to stoke the fire while her mother gathered candles.

Wind rustled the tarp protecting the woodpile. The pine trees, used to standing straight and tall, moaned as the wind whipped through their canopy, and bent them in ways they didn’t wish to go.

“A man approaches,” Wilson whined, terror tainting his words.

Liza looked over the German Shepherd’s furry head to the storm-tossed sea. The Sound, normally a tranquil gray-blue slate, roiled as if shaken by an invisible hand. Liza couldn’t see anyone, but her heart quickened as it always did when a boat wandered into their cove. “Are you sure?” She saw nothing but a curtain of rain, an angry sky, and churning tide. The gulls, who generally swooped above the bay, had wisely found shelter. The otters, too, had disappeared, and for once the noisy, boisterous sea lions, were silent.

The dog nodded. “He’s lost, but hopeful.”

“Hopeful? Of what?”

Wilson shook his head. His ears flattened and his tail drooped when another flash of lightening lit the sky. He cowered as the thunder boomed.

“Come,” Liza said, “let’s go inside. Only an imbecile would be out on the water today.”

“He’s no longer on the water,” Wilson whined. “His boat has landed.”

Liza peered into the storm, saw nothing more than before, added another log to her collection, and headed inside. Their cottage was made of stone, but the adjacent shed which housed the woodpile, gardening tools, and chicken feed, was constructed of recycled wood. Wind blew through the slats and rattled the shake roof. The cottage would be warm and dry in a way that the shed never could.

Wilson whined again. Liza knew he longed for the comforts of the house as much as she did, but she also understood Wilson had an important job to do and he would never back away from protecting her from strangers.

“There’s no one there,” Liza said, stomping toward the cottage. She climbed the steps and pulled open the Dutch door. The warm comforting scent of the crackling fire mingled with the aroma of ginger cookies.

Rose stood at the large pine table, stacking the cookies onto a plate. Liza stared at the amount, knowing that she and her mother would never be able to eat so many.

“There’s a man in the cove,” Liza said, wondering if her mother already knew, and if so, why she hadn’t warned her.

Rose kept her gaze focused on the cookies and blushed.

“Are you expecting someone?” Liza demanded.

“No, not really, but I…” Rose’s voice trailed away.

Liza stomped through the kitchen to the living room. She dropped her logs onto the hearth, placed her hands on her hips, and marched back into the kitchen. She hated surprises, but she was also curious.

“Who is this man?” Not Leonard, the postman—her mother would never blush for the potato-shaped letter-carrier. Besides, Leonard would never venture to the island in a storm. He only came every other Tuesday. Today was Saturday.

“He’s someone that I used to know,” Rose said without meeting Liza’s eye.

“Why is he coming? Will he bring books?”

Rose laughed, but it sounded strange—strained and nervous. Liza decided that she already disliked this man. She plucked a cookie off the plate.

Rose looked up sharply, an expectant look on her face.

Liza studied her cookie, suddenly suspicious. Her mother studied and experimented with herbs and she’d taught Liza a variety of recipes. Lilies to lighten the mood, lavender to soothe worries, dandelions to bring sleep, basil to stimulate energy, and gingerroot to make one forget. Liza sniffed the cookie and touched it with her tongue.

Her mother watched.

Liza smiled, took a big bite, and left the kitchen. In the privacy of her own room, she went to the window and pulled it open. A cold breeze flew in, ruffling the drapes, and blowing about the papers on her desk. Liza ignored the wind, stuck her head out the window and spit out the cookie out into the storm. She slammed the window closed.

“What are you doing?” Rose asked.

Liza started. She hadn’t heard her mother come in. Wrapping her arms around herself, Liza said, “I was looking for the man.”

Rose’s lips lifted into a smile. “Don’t worry about him. Here, I’ve brought you some tea.” She set down a steaming mug on Liza’s bedside table. “Gingerroot, your favorite.”


“Want to come and read by the fire?” Rose asked.

Liza glanced back at the storm on the other side of the window. An idea tickled in the back of her mind. “In a second,” she said. After plopping down on her bed, Liza sipped from the teacup, but she didn’t swallow. Instead, she let the tea warm her tongue.

Rose lifted her own mug to her lips and watched Liza.

Liza set the mug back down and met her mother’s gaze. After an awkward moment, Rose lifted her shoulder in a half-hearted shrug and headed down the hall.

Liza bounced from the bed, closed the door, and spat the tea back into the mug. She poured the entire cup down the toilet in the adjacent restroom, flushed, and climbed back onto her bed. She lay perfectly still, waiting for her mom to re-enter the room. She didn’t have to wait long.

A few moments later, her bedroom door creaked open. With her eyes firmly closed, Liza practiced her corpse pose and didn’t even flinch as she heard her mother steal into the room. Rose tucked a quilt around Liza’s shoulders before creeping back out and closing the door with a whisper click.

Liza peeked open an eye and met Wilson’s steady, brown-eyed gaze. “Who is he?”

“I don’t know,” the dog whimpered, “but he isn’t scared.”

“How can you tell?” Liza asked.

“The smell. All emotions have a smell.”

“My mom—what’s her smell?”

Wilson jumped up on the bed beside Liza and nestled beside her. “She loves you.”

“I know. But I don’t know what that has to do with anything.”

Wilson whimpered again and snuggled closer. “You have to let me out so I can meet this man.”

“I can’t. If I do, she’ll know I’m awake. You’re on your own.”

Wilson blew out a breath, stood, shook himself, and jumped off the bed. He went to the door to bark and whine. It didn’t do any good. Her mother ignored him, which told Liza a number of things. One: the potion Rose had given Liza must have been so strong that Rose didn’t worry about Wilson waking her. Two: Rose didn’t want to be interrupted. Three: Rose must have been expecting this man.

Liza sat up as a thought assaulted her.

Wilson, as if reading her mind, jumped back up beside her and gazed into her eyes.

“This man is my father!” Liza blurted out.

“You cannot know this,” Wilson whimpered.

“She loves him enough to drug me just to spend time with him! Of course, he’s my father!”

Wilson moaned a disagreement.

Liza had a lot of questions—mostly because she was only seven, but also because she lived a solitary life with her mother on an uninhabited island in the Puget Sound. She had faith that all of her questions would eventually be answered, but the biggest questions in her heart and mind all centered around her father.

Liza kicked off the quilt her mother had tucked around her and crawled off the bed.

Wilson placed his nose against her thigh, stopping her. “There must be a good reason why your mother doesn’t want you to meet this man.”

“She never said she didn’t want me to meet him.”

Wilson snorted. “If she had wanted you to meet him, she wouldn’t have drugged you.”

Suddenly Liza hated her mother. “She can’t keep me from my own father.”

Wilson parked his butt against the door like a giant hairy roadblock. “You do not know he is your father.”

“Of course, he’s my father. Now move.” She grabbed Wilson’s collar to pull him away.

His fur bunched up around his collar, but he wouldn’t budge.

Liza tried the door knob, but since Wilson outweighed her by nearly fifty pounds the door wouldn’t open. Liza flounced to the window.

“Where are you going?” Wilson asked, his ears poking toward the ceiling.

“To meet my father.” Liza threw open the window. The wind spat rain in her face and carried a breath of bone-chilling cold into the room.

Wilson stood, shook himself, but didn’t move away from the door.

Liza had one leg thrown over the sill, and her exposed foot was already wet from the rain.

“You’ll look like a drowned cat if you go out into the storm,” Wilson said.

She sent him a dirty look. He gazed back at her. She clambered out the window. The rain hit her like hundreds shards of ice. The cold stung her face and pierced her clothes. She ran around to the side of the house so she could look in the windows.

Inside, sitting side by side on the sofa, snuggled together in front of the fire was her mom and a man. Liza knew she’d never seen him before—not that she could remember, at least—but there was something about him that recognized him, and called out to him.

But as she watched him laughing with her mother, Liza had another realization. She knew that even if she introduced herself to this man, because of the cookies on the platter, in time, he would never remember her. She’d only be a vague recollection—a face he couldn’t place.

Liza never drank gingerroot tea again.

How about you? Where did you get the idea for your book? Please share in the comments below and be sure and leave a buy link. If you’d like to read one of my books, you can get Love at the Apple Blossom Inn here. (I got the idea for this story after the death of Robin Williams–which sounds kind of grim, but the novel is a lighthearted feel-good story.)



Letting go

When our son was about two, I looked at my husband and said something like: “He’s either going to be a Monk or a Navy Seal”.

Both options frightened me in that doting kind of way mothers have for their toddlers. You know what I mean. Even if you’ve never been a parent, you know the syndrome. Hyperbolic language proffered with a smile that says you’ll be able to protect them no matter what they chose to do and by sheer will alone the Universe will bow to your omnipotent parentalism and see them safe, secure, healthy and happy.

Our son is now 17. Yesterday I took him motorcycle shopping.

I shouldn’t be worried about him learning to ride since I ride, his dad rides, and I purchased his sister’s first bike—although she no longer rides. The motorcycle is one thing. Although it, and learning to ride is indicative of the kind of optimism that says I can control my environment by being cautious, vigilant and following the rules.

Enter the scare factor….

My son wants to go to law school, then join the FBI. That’s not the scary part.

Before he applies to the FBI he wants to be an Air Force pararescue specialist. The training alone is a two year commitment. These specialists are elite special forces. Their job is to insert themselves into highly volatile environments to rescue injured soldiers. I’m sure there is more to it than that, but that is what they do.

“That Others May Live”, is their creed. It’s what they live and die by.

I know I can’t save my children from whatever life has in store for them—who should want to “save” their children from life at all? Still, as I’m typing this, I’m fiercely proud of the young adults my children are and the people they have always been.

I’ve got a medical student caretaker.

I’ve got a would-be warrior-monk-caretaker.

I worry more about the one with the deeply spiritual bent who is bound and determined to serve his country in the capacity he sees as the best one for him, but, that said, once you let them out the door to experience all the wonder, the adventure and the sometimes sublime and often overt beauty of the world, there is no going back to those childhood days of hand holding and the illusion of parental control.

I have two incredible children who are now adults. I’m trying to let go, to be supportive, and to be the person they know will take on a battalion of bad-guys when-and-if they need me. Still, it’s damn hard knowing that the monk part of my warrior children put them each in harm’s way. I wonder sometimes if my parents felt this way when I went into prisons to represent those who needed representation. Something tells me, they didn’t. Not in the same way. Guess I’ve got some growing up to do.

Friday the 13th

When I was a very young child of a very superstitious Irish mom I looked toward Friday the 13th with fear and anguish. We avoided ladders, broken mirrors, and black cats with a passion. We threw salt over our shoulders if it spilled. No hats on the bed seemed a silly rule, but I followed it. Then I got a little older and had new fears–horror movies.

In high school the original Friday the 13th with a very young Kevin Bacon hit the screens across America. As a teenager I loved the thrills and chills of a massive teenage massacre. A little nudity to entice, a hidden message that sex and drugs were bad for teenagers, and blood and gore. What’s not to love?

Well, like us all, I grew up. Got married, had a few kids, and things changed. I still love blood and gore movies and books too. The massive killing of teenagers; not so much. As a teenager you think you are invincible, so the scary movies are just that, scary. A little thrill, a little chill. When you grow up and have to send your children out into the world, you realize the world is more than just a little scary and bad things really do happen, not just in movies, and the young female isn’t always saved in the end.

I read a lot of romantic suspense; Allison Brennan, Karen Rose, and Jordan Dane. These ladies pull no punches. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes awful, rotten, unimaginable things. This is the world we live in. This is the world they write about.

So maybe the scary movies and books are just for that reason. We may never know why a young child died or so many young women are still missing. But, in romantic suspense not only is the villain caught if not killed, we get to know why they do the evil things they do. Sometimes, we need to know why so we can sleep at night. And with romantic suspense we get true love and happiness as well. And the young female is not only saved, she is usually the one doing the saving.

Jill James, romance author and horror movie buff
ATimetoKillZombies 200x300(Not quite horror but my latest zompoc romance is available to preorder)

Mama Wants A(nother) Tattoo

I got my first tattoo in my late forties. It was my daughter’s idea. A talented artist since childhood, she designed an open heart we could share – a mother/daughter special secret. She got hers behind one ear. I, the less brave of the two, got mine in the center of my nape where it was hidden by my hair.


At the time of that first ink session, Dave, the artist assured me this would be the first of many. I wasn’t so certain. Yes, it hurt (a little), and up until that buzzing needle hit my skin, I was still on the fence about putting something so permanent on my body. But I didn’t chicken out. And to my daughter and her friends, I became “the cool mom.”

After a time, I totally forgot I had it. Out of sight, out of mind. In fact, the only time I remembered it was there was when I got my hair cut and whoever shampooed me would mention it. Oh, right. The tattoo. I didn’t even know what it looked like, since I hadn’t seen it since the day I acquired it. That would start me thinking. What’s the point of having something I can’t see or enjoy? I wanted something else. And I knew that it had to represent my passion: romance writing.

Back I went to Dave, who was kind enough to not say “I told you so.” Together, we designed a feather quill pen piercing a heart, and I had it tattooed on my right wrist. I’ve been happy with my two bits of body art for years now. I assumed I was done with the tattoo madness.

Now, though, I want one more–for my other wrist. And I didn’t even realize I wanted it until I spotted an image online that would be the perfect pairing to my quill-in-heart. What is it? Unh-unh. I ain’t telling til it’s done. I’m excited to see the finished product, and I hope to get it done within the next few weeks.

I’d like to say this one will be my last, but I’m old enough and smart enough to know “Never say Never.”

What about you? Got any tats? Thinking of getting one?

Springing into Step

My Office

My Office

The business of writing, is often a lot less fun, than actually writing. I know when I was younger and dreamt of making this my life’s work; I assumed I would sit at a desk, write best-sellers, occasionally setting out on a world book tour, all the while my minions would take care of the rest.

Joke is on me it seems:

1. A best-seller has yet to jump out of my laptop. (Not that I’ve given up hope).

2. Promotion costs a ridiculous amount of money, which would be a lot easier were #1 a reality! 

3. Minions cost even more money than promo and so again I ask that you please refer to #1.

4. Social Media was not even in the picture when I was 12, so it never occurred to me how much work would be involved in staying “social”. It’s intense.🙈

For now, while I work on the three most pressing stories in my head & wait for edits on my next two books- I at least want to do it some place warm and cozy and where it feels a lot less like work. Writing itself doesn’t feel like work, but the rest of the branding and marketing, sure as heck does. And I’m a Sales & Marketing person by trade. Somehow, selling my own wares is a lot more stressful than selling someone else’s. Isn’t that something? LOL

Thank goodness for warm spring days, cool drinks and a deck with a gorgeous view!

I hope everyone else is enjoying their day as much as I am. 

Wishing you well in fiction & real life,

Kelly Rae

The Music of Our Lives

_DSC3527I’m one of those people who can never remember all the words to a song or who wrote it, who played it, the year it hit the charts, or anything else. I just know what I like. I also find it annoying to listen to music in a car when there are other people in the car. One: I can’t talk over music, two: I’m half deaf so I can’t hear most conversation or enjoy the music because of other sounds, and three: not everyone likes the same things.

So when my house mate starts playing Patsy Cline, while I’m stuck in the car with him, I start howling like a hound dog, and he gets very upset with me. Patsy is not one of those artists I enjoy. Nor is the operatic duet of Indian Love Call because the gal who sings it is such a high soprano that it hurts my ears. Is it fair to play it over and over when I’m in the car? I don’t think so but he does it anyway. I’ve started the hound dog howl to that one, too.

My  musical tastes are all over the charts. I love certain classical music. I love most everything Mozart wrote, some Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, some Chopin, and a bunch of stuff that I recognize when I hear it. I also love the music of Maurice Jarre, who is known for the beautiful movie soundtracks of Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago, and several others. From the time I was a child, I was exposed to classical music and my family knew Leonard Bernstein. So listening to a full orchestra play still sends tingles up my spine and gives me goose flesh.  There is something special about being dressed up and going to a performance that is unlike anything else. Talk about surround sound!

My dad listened to the old country music and there are some songs there that I’ll admit I do enjoy.  But I was the youngest of four children, and they were all much older, so by the time I came along there was a huge stack of 45 records in the house. Naturally I listened to songs like the Syncopated Clock and The Teddy Bears Picnic before The Who ever remade it. So I knew all those pop songs from the 40’s and 50’s. I think the first real pop song I could sing was Tammy.  I still remember most of the words.

Not sure where I picked up my love of the Big Band sound but that stuff is awesome! Chattanooga Choo-Choo and at least, two dozen more! (Desi Arnaz? Who didn’t watch I Love Lucy?)

And thanks to my brother and his records, my mother cringed when I ran around the house at about the age of four singing “He wore black denim trousers and motorcycle boots/ And a black leather jacket with an eagle on the back/ He had a hucka-cicle that took off like a gun/ For he was the terror of highway one oh one.” And it went on to say how he never washed his face and had grease under his fingernails.” I later discovered that song was by Vaughn Monroe. It has a very catchy tune. And I now understand why my mother wasn’t thrilled that I could sing it at such a tender age.

My mom attempted to give me some better songs to sing so she bought me some sort of international collection of music. Except most of them were in Greek, Italian, Spanish, etc. But it did have Waltzing Matilda, which I thought was hysterically funny and to this day I’m not certain I remember all the meaning of the song even though I looked it up. And with that song was another one with the lyrics tie me kangaroo down, sport. Remember, I was little so those songs were just silly fun things.

Then I entered the era of music that told us it was her party and she could cry if she wanted, her boyfriend’s back, and we’re going to the chapel and we’re going to get married. The last of the brainwashing of women into aspiring to be nothing more than good wives.

Then came Moon River, the songs from The Sound of Music, The Elephant Walk, the theme from The Apartment, Ebb Tide, The Banana Boat and dozens of others that I can’t remember. The Tijuana Brass, Linda Ronstadt, Kenny Rogers, and that guy who played the guitar and did Ghost Riders in the Sky.

Enter people like Peter, Paul, and Mary, Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Beach Boys, Carole King, Joan Baez, and a real favorite Neil Diamond. Songs like Alice’s Restaurant, American Pie, and In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. Jeremiah was a Bullfrog, Cats in the Cradle, I love those silly songs – can’t you tell? And the song where they tore down paradise and put up a parking lot. Cherokee Nation… I think this list is endless.  I had so many songs on my computer that my hubby had found and bought for me, but a few years ago, when that horrible crash came, I lost them.

But a wonderful young friend decided I needed music back in my life. And he’s been on a mission to find CD’s of music for me. I now have every ABBA song including one in Swedish, but he’s also included the Romantics, the Indigo Girls, Bay City Rollers, The Animals, Joan Jett, Barry Manilow, Enya, and some new groups like The Ocean Blue. It feels good to have music.

Feeding my muse takes many forms and I forgot how much my muse enjoys the stimulation of music. I’m waiting for a little Motown, and Yanni, Roberta Flack, the Righteous Brothers with Unchained Melody, and a few dozen other groups. Oh, and the Piano Guys – they are awesome!

Writing while music is playing…um…my brain starts clipping along with the songs instead of staying with the story I’m writing. Not sure what that means – maybe music is more dominant? But I find music can often set the mood for what I’m writing and it doesn’t have to pertain to what I’m writing. It’s as though music is a separator between reality and fiction. It casts real life to the side.

I’m not a musician, and my hearing loss in one ear interfered with my ability to sing so I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. My hubby used to tell me that the only time I could sing was while in the closet with a pillow stuffed in my mouth. But he would put up with my singing to tunes in the car. Yet, I can find and mimic the note to tune a stringed instrument. I just can’t sing!

For a college creative writing class I took about 15 years ago, we were asked to write a song and perform it. Hah! Not me! I don’t sing. So I hit the computer and put together a slide show and ran it to music. I created a funny set of lyrics about not being able to sing and put them to a well-known classic piece of music that most people would recognize instantly. Then I found pictures that went with the lyrics.

It’s been too many years to remember the actual lyrics I created that went with I Can’t Sing. But I had some great pics to go with it. The words streamed across the screen almost karaoke style. Except the professor insisted that I perform the song. “Sir, really, I can’t sing!”

“If you want the grade, you will do it.”

I grinned and warned him that he asked for it. About the fourth slide was a picture of a dog with paws over his head, followed by a picture of fancy headphones to cancel out the sound. I’m trying really hard to keep up with the music and the big, projected computer screen behind me. The prof was sitting in the back of the class and all these 18-21 YO students were sitting in front of him. He actually came out of his seat, sat on the floor, and laughed until tears ran down his cheeks. Not fair, because I could barely keep going and these kids are staring at me with pained faces. They hadn’t caught the joke. Okay, I lost it and couldn’t squeak out one more word. I returned to my seat. That’s when the kids turned to the prof and suddenly, they caught the joke, or at least, I think they did. When my professor managed to pull himself together, he made me finish the song. I have no clue what went on because other than standing in front of the room, I was laughing too hard to even attempt to sing.  I got an A for the assignment because I had incorporated multimedia into it.

I think the kids hated me because those who went before me hadn’t used any props except for one male who played a guitar and sang. He really could sing and wrote a great song. All those who came after me had computerized slide shows to go with their songs.

I love music. I can’t play it or sing it, but my mind craves it. Just as my fingers enjoy the time spent with a paintbrush, ink pen, or camera. So that makes me right brained? I don’t know. I’d say I’m left brained. I’m horribly analytical, but there’s something  about the creative side of my brain. That’s the side that feeds my soul. And considering I’m a hopeless romantic…

Writing, for me, requires both sides of the brain. The left side keeps the story on track and moving forward while the right side allows the story to blossom. The left side wants that story to be perfect and edited perfectly while the right side wants to be lost in the story. It’s a balance and maybe that same balance is found in music. There’s the beat all perfect and rhythmic. Then the tune is meshed with the beat and frequently the whole thing is iced in words.

As we grow up, mature, and age, our choice in music changes. There will always be our favorites, songs come with memories of other times, places, and people. We expand our playlists, add and delete to make room for newer songs that have grabbed us. And so it is with books. From childhood favorites to the latest book that grabbed your heart. Music should be fed to children just as we feed them books. Give them a variety, not just the books or songs of your life. Music and books nourish a part of us that needs the stimulation to allow us to relax and enjoy life. And like ice cream, books and music come in all sorts of flavors. You won’t know if you’ll like it if you don’t sample it.

Pard me. I have to spend a little time with Neil Diamond and his double CD album. Yes, I’m wearing blue jeans.


What’s your favorite music/musician/song?