Descriptive Phrases

We all hear so much about Showing vs. Telling, and there are no better or more concise examples than those found in song lyrics.

Think about it. You have 3 – 4 minutes to tell an entire story. There is no time for wasted words. Then, top that with the fact that things have to rhyme and have a rhythm, and you can see that songwriting is no easy task.

Tom T. Hall is known as “The Storyteller.” So, it seemed fitting that I look at his work for a good example. Here’s one:

He was an old-time cowboy, don’t you understand
His eyes were sharp as razor blades his face was leather tan
His toes were pointed inward from a-hangin’ on a horse
He was an old philosopher, of course
He was so thin I swear you could have used him for a whip
He had to drink a beer to keep his britches on his hips (Wow! Now there’s a visual!)
It gives us a pretty clear picture, doesn’t it? I tried to find an image that matched what I saw in my head and couldn’t. These boots came close.
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Want to hear the whole song? Here’s the YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnvMcX95G20 
Another prolific writer, Kris Kristofferson, was a genius with words. One of my favorite, “Lovin’ Her Was Easier,” tells such a tender and eloquent story.
I have seen the morning burning golden on the mountain in the skies (I can see it!) 
Aching with the feeling of the freedom of an eagle when she flies (I feel it!)
The entire song is short, but says SO much.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCgnbRWVvU8
Mountain sunrise
Or how about “The Gambler?” That’s one helluva story. The writer, Don Schlitz, was homeless and living in his car when Kenny Rogers recorded it. Needless to say, he was soon a wealthy man.
On a warm summer’s evening, on a train bound for nowhere
I met up with the Gambler, we were both too tired to sleep…
Haven’t heard it in a while? Here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hx4gdlfamo
Another very expressive writer and performer that has emerged on the scene is Chris Stapleton. Take at look at these lyrics.
There’s a bottle on the dresser by your ring
And it’s empty, so right now I don’t feel a thing
I’ll be hurting when I wake up on the floor
But I’ll be over it by noon
That’s the difference between whiskey and you
What do you think? Can you feel the ache, the agony, the desperation? Want to give it a listen? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2uPKDXS8BA
But, this song written by Hank Williams Sr., may be the most descriptive. It is exactly 2 minutes and 32 seconds long, but tells such a sad lonely story.
Did you ever see a night so slow
As time goes draggin’ by
The moon just went behind the clouds
To hide its face and cry
The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky
And as I wonder where you are
I’m so lonesome I could cry…
There are SO many songs out there that are extraordinary examples of descriptive writing with only a handful of words. As authors, we can learn from these songwriters
How about you? What are some of your favorites and why do they touch you?

 

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Children

I am late posting my blog for today. But, better late than never, I suppose.

This past week, I have taken care of my three-year-old granddaughter every day all day long. Believe me when I say I had forgotten the amount of energy and attention they require. I fell behind on everything and dropped into bed exhausted every night. 🙂 All that aside, look at this sweet face.

dav

That day we went to the Crayola Experience. 🙂

Then she has swim lessons every day.

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Grasping at ideas for an activity, we painted sea shells. She loved this a lot.

I will have her again this coming week, then she will be back in school. While these are exhausting days, I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

The other day, she said to me, “Mimi, remember before you were born that I was your grandmother?” Wow! That floored me. Who knows. Maybe she was.

And to go along with this theme today, here is a poem and artwork from Rick.

LITTLE GIRLS AND ROSES

Roses are like pretty little girls

Petals swirling, lovely curls

Sweetly blushes the scented roses

Angel cheeks, buds like little noses

Tender fragile blooming at random

Prettiest ones are where you find them

Dew kissed angels from above

Rare beauties symbols of love

Delicate and soft seem they fantasy

Charming warmth assures reality

Thankful am I that both grows

Pretty little girls and the beautiful rose

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Make it a great day, everyone!

 

Trip Around The Sun

Trip-Around-the-Sun-setting-20

Birthdays are such significant days. Not because we get cards and gifts but because it completes another cycle of life for us. And, I look at the day following my birthday as a clean slate to start the next cycle around the sun.

This year has been mixed with family, friends, plans that didn’t work out and culminated with hundreds of birthday wishes on social media and a birthday dinner with immediate family.

dav

My daughters and son-in-law had planned a hot air balloon ride to celebrate my birthday, but the weather didn’t cooperate. We’ll do it at some point. It’s been on my bucket list for a while.

I am blessed abundantly with a loving family and an incredible circle of friends. I have no complaints.

A huge thank you to everyone who sent birthday wishes! Here’s to another year!

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And, as I promised, I have chosen a winner from my last post to receive a copy of “Hemingway.” Annette Rochelle Aben, I truly hope you enjoy it!

Annette, please email me at rijan21@gmail.com with a good email address to receive your gift.

 

 

August Reflection

I purposefully left the “Hemingway” post up an extra few days and didn’t post again on Wednesday.  I want to thank everyone who visited the blog, left comments, liked and shared.

I am going to give away a copy of the book and album to someone who leaves a comment on this post today. And, if you missed it the first time around, here is an Amazon Purchase Link: Hemingway

REFLECTION

August is such a big month for me each year. It is not only the month Rick and I both had birthdays, but also the month he returned home from prison after fifteen years AND the month we got married.

So, I want to share a couple of short excerpts from “Home At Last.”

CHAPTER 2:

The air brakes brought the lumbering bus to a stop and the door flew open. Luke stood and gathered his meager belongings, consisting of a cheap cardboard case with a change of underwear, one change of clothes, a comb, toothbrush and shaving razor he’d been issued when he left prison. In his pocket, he carried his parole papers, which he’d glanced at often since leaving Kansas.

When he spotted Darlina at the entrance of bus station, he swallowed hard.

He maneuvered his lanky frame to the front of the bus and stepped off. He dropped his case and wrapped his arms tightly around her when she ran forward. They stood quietly, barely breathing.

His chest tightened when he saw big tears welling up in her blue eyes. He hated to see her cry, even if they were tears of joy.

“Oh Luke. You’re finally home,” her voice quivered.

CHAPTER 3:

Lily and Nicole bounded out of the front door before the car came to a complete stop.

The minute Luke opened the car door, they both flew at him. “Daddy, Daddy!” Nicole yelled.

“Let me get out of the car, girls, then I can give you both a big hug.”

Darlina watched, misty-eyed, as the girls grabbed Luke’s hands and pulled him toward the house. Luke glanced back over his shoulder at her. “Come on, Mama. Let’s join the party.”

She smiled and caught up with them.

The entire family had gathered to welcome Luke home and Mom Stone had prepared a feast including homemade chocolate pie.

Tears and laughter filled the air with joyous celebration.

When Mom Stone hugged her son, she sobbed into his shoulder. “Bubba, I didn’t think you’d ever get home.”

“Don’t cry, Mom. I’m here now and I’m not going anywhere else.” He reached for Darlina who wrapped her arms around them both.

Luke’s eyes misted when he hugged his only brother, which in turn brought a lump to Darlina’s throat. Because of cancer, Bobby no longer had any vocal chords and after suffering a stroke, he walked with a cane and dragged his left leg.

Voice hoarse with emotion, Luke hugged Bobby a second time. “It’s damn sure good to be home, stud.”

CHAPTER 4

In the chaos of everyone talking and laughing, Darlina linked her arm through Luke’s. “We did it, baby. We finally did it. Are you happy?”

Luke gave her a positively sinful grin that made her heart lurch. “Darlin’, I’ll show you how much a bit later. Bet I can get you out of that beautiful dress in nothin’ flat.”

Darlina laughed. “Promises promises”

It was a very big day in the lives of Luke and Darlina Stone. One that would never be forgotten.

A union created in heaven and sealed on earth.

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***

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To everyone who has read and reviewed, “Home At Last,” THANK YOU!!

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Combatting Veteran Suicide One Song – One Story at a time – Dan Johnson

As a staff writer for Buddy Magazine, I get lots of Press Releases about new projects from music artists. But, when the Press Release came across my desk for this project, I knew I had to try and find a bigger platform to showcase it. To say it touched my heart is putting it mildly. I was blown away by the depth and the passion Texas songwriter, Dan Johnson, put into the Hemingway Project. Let me tell you a little about it.

Hemingway_CD_Dan_Johnson

Imagine you are a soldier returning home from Afghanistan or Syria or some other war-torn country. Maybe limbs are missing, or your body is scarred in some other way. Or perhaps deep in the recesses of your mind, thoughts and emotions are twisted with guilt.

At what point do you decide you have nothing more to offer and the world has nothing left to hold you?

Now you have the theme for Hemingway.

But it gets more personal, as I discovered in a recent interview with the tall bearded unassuming Texas Songwriter, Dan Johnson.

The day before Johnson turned eleven, his father, a U.S. Navy veteran, decided he could no longer cope and he took his life.

“My dad needed someone to personally connect with him. Someone to say the words to him that even though suicide might end his pain, it will amplify it for his loved ones for the rest of their lives,” Johnson said.

The story of how The Hemingway Project was born is astounding. Without a doubt, Johnson has a calling.

“It was a very specific moment for me,” Johnson recalled. “I was doing a show at Hoot’s in Amarillo. The manager, a good friend, is a Marine who came back with really tremendous post-traumatic stress. I asked why he’d changed his Facebook profile picture to a bloody red number twenty-two. He said he was part of ‘Twenty-Two Kill,’ and explained it is an organization that tries to help reduce veteran suicides through raising awareness. Then he told me there is an average of twenty-two veteran suicides per day. That nailed me to the wall. I knew I had to do something.”

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Another layer of dimension to this project came directly from the famed author, Ernest Hemingway.

Johnson recalls that the song, “Hemingway,” came to him during a visit to the late great Ernest Hemingway’s home in Florida. Standing in the study where so many of Hemingway’s stories were born was the perfect catalyst. But, because of the grave subject matter, he didn’t do anything with the song until much later. After visiting with his friend at the club in Amarillo, he had a thought.

Johnson said, “I play around two-hundred shows every year, and I have a microphone. If I ran into this guy in a bar, something tells me there’s somebody in every single bar I’m in who has either been affected by this or is currently struggling with thoughts of suicide. It was then I decided I would sing the “Hemingway” song in the middle of every show I do and tell my dad’s story.”

I don’t know about you, but I cannot listen to this song without getting tears in my eyes. War brings nothing but tragedy and it is heart-breaking.

The rest of the ideas for the project came together at a bar in Ireland where Johnson was performing.

“I was playing in a bar in Ireland and as I always do, I sang the “Hemingway” song and told my story. After the show a man said he needed to buy me a drink. I could immediately tell he was an American. And, then he told me that I may have just saved his life.” Johnson paused and cleared his throat.

“This active duty soldier was hiding out in Ireland on leave because he could no longer stand the pain of going home. He’d done three consecutive tours of duty and killed far too many people to find any sense of normalcy. Each time he went home, he felt a greater disassociation with the people he loved. For him, it became more painful to see his family than to stay in war. He displayed all the warning signs that night. He started crying and told me how much it meant to him that I would take time in my shows to try to help people. So that was it. That’s when it all came together.”

Each of the five songs on Hemingway is deep and story-driven. Johnson brings the characters to life in each line, each lyric, each aching note.

When Johnson teamed up with Texas novelist, Travis Erwin, to create short stories to accompany each song, it took the Hemingway project into a much broader spectrum. With a writing style much like Johnson’s, Erwin weaves stories together in an intricate web of multi-dimensional characters and situations that are masterfully intertwined.

From graphic violence to exquisitely tender moments, Hemingway is a journey that touches everyone in some way. No one is spared.

Hemingway released on July 27. For more information about the project, the non-profit and Dan Johnson, visit http://www.operationhemingway.org.

Folks, I know this is a long blog, but believe me when I say I only hit the highlights. There is no short way to tell this story. I am deeply moved by the depth and passion of this project and by the phenomenal results. Dan Johnson often finds himself counseling someone who has reached that brink. And, he needs our help. There is a donation button on the OperationHemingway.Org site. It’s my birthday month, and this is the group I choose to support by asking for donations from family and friends. If you are so inclined, please join the fight.

TO DONATE, CLICK HERE!

PURCHASE THE CD/AUDIO BOOK

Thank you! And PLEASE share everywhere! Together, we can make a difference.

Follow Dan Johnson:   FACEBOOK    TWITTER

 

 

 

Helpful Tips

Tips

In going back through some of the handouts I received at the Authors Marketing Event two weeks ago, I found these useful social media tips and wanted to share.

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When is the best time to post to Facebook to get results?

  • Best – Weekdays between 1 – 4 p.m.
  • Peak – Thursday and Friday
  • Most clicks – 3 p.m.
  • Use images to increase engagement by 104%
  • Don’t forget Facebook Groups – you can create your own group – start discussions, moderate posts and you have the option to make the group private or public

linkedin

When is the best time to post to LinkedIn?

  • Best – Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday
  • Peak – 7:30 – 8:30 a.m., Noon, and 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.
  • Avoid – Monday and Friday 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • LinkedIn groups are hot! And just as with Facebook, you can start your own group.

Twitter-LOGO-png

When is the best time to Tweet?

  • Best – Monday – Thursday between 1 – 4 p.m.
  • Peak – 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Avoid – Fridays after 5 p.m.
  • Avoid other days after 8 p.m.
  • Tweets with images have Retweeting, visitor conversion 42% to 48%
  • The life of a Tweet is an average of 24 minutes
  • Using #hashtags increases visibility and lifespan

pin

When is the best time to Pin?

  • Best – Weekends
  • Peak – Noon and between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.
  • For retail, Fridays at 3 p.m.
  • 55% of Pinterest users buy stuff!

Instagram

When is the best time to utilize Instagram?

  • Non-working hours (evenings and weekends)
  • The typical audience is people under the age of 30
  • Images are a must

What are your experiences? Have you done experiments or seen other statistics about the optimal times to utilize social media platforms?

I’d love it if you’d connect with me!

Author Facebook Page

Twitter

LinkedIn

Instagram

Pinterest

Top Ten Things Not to Do on Social Media

Inspired by my post from last week about over-sharing on Social Media, John Howell has created a Top Ten Things NOT to do on Social Media List. Enjoy the chuckle.

Fiction Favorites

The inspiration for this post was another post by award-winning author Jan Sikes. Jan was wondering out loud whether or not we were all sharing too much on our social media efforts. In a comment back and forth she suggested doing a “Top Ten Things Not to Do” post. You can see Jan’s post HERE. You should visit her blog just to take a look at the five books she has written.

The Top Ten Things Not to Do on Social Media.

10 If you are on social media, do not publish a photo of yourself making a hand gesture. If you do, at best the gesture has an innocent intent. At worst, your gesture no matter how honest is seen by others as a reason to find out where you live. (It is incredible that you have all those people on your front lawn, Espen. What do you…

View original post 627 more words

F.E.A.R.

Fear concept with word eraser and pencil on white background

Just last weekend, I attended an Author’s Marketing Event. There were so many interesting, informative and educational workshops and I learned lots.

But, one workshop, in particular, started off with the letters above.

F alse

E vidence

A ppearing

R eal

That gave me pause. How many times do our fears (false evidence appearing real) stop us in our tracks? We can imagine failure before we even embark on a quest. So, this thought came to mind. What if we could immediately erase “fear” (cancel, clear, delete) and replace it with a positive vision? I personally think that would change our entire gameplan. Just the incredible energy of switching one thought is extremely powerful and produces results.

We’ve all been programmed to think and act a certain way. We have filters that we view through. Not all of these are bad. Some are extremely beneficial and positive. But, anytime we let even the tiniest bit of negativity in, a seed is planted and grows like a proverbial weed.

So, I thought about a few ways to turn “fear” (false evidence appearing real) into “FEAR” (Fearless Eager Approach Reward).

Finding a quiet space of solitude to do some meditation is first and foremost the number one most effective way to release fear and gain a different perspective. There are some excellent guided meditations on YouTube. If you are a beginner, search for the ones that say “beginner meditations.” Of course, it would be wonderful if we all had our own private beach for practicing meditation, but the truth is most of us don’t. And you don’t have to sit in the cross-legged position on the floor to do meditation. You can practice that quietness sitting in a chair or lying on your bed. It doesn’t matter. The importance is going within and letting your own sweet soul help you gain a more open and more positive perspective.

Meditation_Beach

Take a step back and look more objectively at whatever is causing fear.

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Listen to some uplifting music. Music is an excellent way to raise our vibration.

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Get outside in nature and reflect on the reality of what is causing fear.

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It has been said that the opposite of fear is acceptance. There is a nugget of truth in that. Find what works for you, but most of all, don’t let FEAR cripple you and keep you from going for that pot of gold or rainbow.

There are approximately 3,600 books published per day in the United State. That’s a heck of a lot of books!

But, there will NOT be one book exactly like the one you write. Organizations can often be helpful in the entire frightening process of publishing your first book and I’ve listed some of the ones I know to be excellent below.

What do you do when you find yourself dealing with the fear of moving forward? I’d love for you to share your experiences, including any organizations that you’ve found to be supportive and helpful.

RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB

TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF AUTHORS

THE ALLIANCE OF INDEPENDENT AUTHORS

Take time to research active writing groups in your area. They can be invaluable for feedback and critique.

LIST OF WRITING GROUPS

Sharing?

We live in such an electronically connected age. It brings the thought to mind about what we share on social media.

Do you think people in general over-share?

Oversharing

I’m going to pick on Facebook.  Take a look at most anyone’s Facebook page and odds are that you’ll know where they’ve been (Check-ins), what they’ve eaten in the past few days, what interests them, who their friends are, their children and grandchildren, their marital status, their birthday, and most likely their political views.

Maybe that’s good. Maybe that’s bad. I suppose it’s all in perspective.

The reality is that it is the world we live in.

I made a decision early on with Facebook that I would not post anything negative on my page. For the most part, I’ve kept with that decision. Of course, I have days when I feel down. Should I post it? Probably not. Because, by the time everyone finishes responding and trying to cheer me up, I’ll have forgotten all about it and wonder what they’re talking about.  So, I try to keep it free of negativity.  When I feel down is when I’ll post something like one of these. 🙂

Another social media rule I practice is to avoid politics and religion. I firmly believe Facebook is not the place to have heated arguments, and yet I see it happen all the time.

Political Views

Don’t get me wrong. I love Facebook. It is the perfect way for me to see pictures of my step-great-granddaughter in Las Vegas, Nevada whom I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting. It is the perfect place to share my blog posts and pictures of interesting places I go, as well as discover new and interesting places others visit. It is the perfect place to promote events and celebrate birthdays. It is the perfect place to celebrate milestones and anniversaries. It is the perfect place to stay in touch with friends and family that I don’t see on a regular basis.

But, have we turned Facebook into an over-sharing cesspool? I’d really like to hear your thoughts about all of the open sharing on social media in general. Where is it headed?

I know most of you follow John Howell’s blog and see his Top Ten Lists. Hmmm, John, have you ever done one about posting on Facebook?  Well, if not, here’s an idea. “Top Ten Things NOT to Share on Facebook.” 🙂

People-have-really-gotten-comfortable-not-only-sharing-more-information-and-different-kinds-but-more-openly-and-with-more-peopleand-That-social-...-Mark-Zuckerberg