Thursday, June 19, 2008

Back to writing

I finished the third draft of my latest short story and hope to get it to Writers of the Future next week. I was planning on taking a break from writing, but something possessed me to start another short story. This one is back into my normal tongue-in-cheek style, since my last story was so depressing. This is revisiting a character I created several years ago, but the story got rejected. I really liked the character, though, so, now that my writing skills are hopefully better, I thought I'd try him again. He's a smart-donkey, wise-cracking youth who single-handedly saves his incompetently run kingdom. I'm trying this one in the first person, which is not my normal style, but it helps highlight the character's voice.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Marienthal and Pickett

Last night I took my older kids up to see the Crescent Super Band perform with Eric Mariental (from Big Phat Band, Chick Corea) and Lennie Pickett (from Tower of Power and Saturday Night Live) up in Salt Lake. It was a fantastic concert, with both Eric and Lennie doing phenomenal things. Eric impressed with his technical skill, altissimo, solo content and personality. Lennie wasn't as animated as Eric, but he showed that he is still the master of altissimo on tenor. I can squeeze an extra octave out of my tenor, but I swear that he was getting two. Plus he did some fascinating stuff combining slap tongue and altissimo.

Anyway, those kinds of concerts are what inspire me and keep me going. I always encourage my students to get out and soak in these master performers, since it shows us what quality time in the practice room can do for us. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go practice my altissimo range.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

connected to website

I finally got a link to this blog put up on my website (, so I guess I need to start talking about music. Now that we're in the summer months, I've noticed that many of my student's practice hours drop. There is more time available to practice, but more distractions. Plus, there is no longer a schedule to keep us as organized, so we tend to let activities take longer than necessary. What works for me is to schedule my practice time. Pick a time of the day and tell yourself that you will practice at that time every day possible. There will be times when something will come up and you won't be able to do it, but by having it scheduled, it will be much more likely to happen.

Summer is also a good time to get extra music listening in. Music is a language, and in order to be fluent, you must listen to fluent native speakers. So get out there and transcribe some John Coltrane.

Monday, June 9, 2008

On writing

I suppose, since this is a writing blog, that I should write about my writing. It will probably turn out to be more of a music blog, though. As far as writing goes, I am working on a short story that I'm planning on sending to Writers of the Future. It is a depressing story, which is not normally my style, but I liked the idea of an oppressive government profiting off its people by selling drugs that are supposed to heal, but don't. Not unlike in our society. Okay, so it is a social commentary disguised as a fantasy story. Normally, I like to write and read things that are cheerful, funny and uplifting, so this is just a brief excursion into my dark side. I just finished reading The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison, which I like for it's tongue-in-cheek first person perspective.

This weekend, I just submitted my novel, currently titled The Dragon War Relic and Other Ancient Stuff, to Cedar Fort. I've tried several of the larger publishers, at least the ones that don't require an agent, and have several rejection notices to show for it. One thing about smaller publishers I've noticed so far is that they actually look at your stuff. I got reactions back from the larger companies so fast that I am sure that they never read them, they just sent the form rejection letter out. I will say, all the rejection letters I've received have been nice and positively phrased. No one has said, "You're a complete loser, give it up."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

My first blog

I'll admit that I'm old fashioned. The idea of a blog has not appealed to me until now. I believe in written journals, since, as Tony Robbins once said, "A life worth living is a life worth writing about." So why put personal thoughts up on the web for everyone to be able to see? I didn't have an answer.

I went to a writing conference with Cedar Fort Inc yesterday, and one of the speakers said that all writers should have a blog. Sigh. Okay, I'll do it. Even though I'm not yet published, I guess I am a writer. I didn't know what I would blog about, but, I'd give it a shot. As I pondered this and thought about some of the other blogs I had read, I realized that blogs are not just personal journals, they are soap boxes. Everyone, even shy people like me, have plenty to say about life and want to vent it. Blogs, whether anyone else in the world reads them or not, provide an avenue for everyone to get their say. At least it can make us feel good about it. The more I thought about it, I thought it would be fun to be able to talk about my writing experiences as I try to get my first novel published. I could also talk about my musical experiences, since that is my day job, and about raising a family with five kids. But why stop there? I have a lot of opinions about health and fitness, nutrition, spirituality, and politics.

So, if anyone is out there reading this, I hope my rantings here will do some good. If nothing else, I hope it can brighten someone's day.