Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"Testimony" being reissued!

My 2002 novel "Testimony," about a gospel choir that doesn't live the music it sings, is being reissued by the publisher!

The novel featured Roger McKenzie and his choir, The Triumphant Voices of Praise.

Check out the new cover Dafina Books has created. "Testimony" will be available in stores and via online retailers in August 2015. Mark your calendars!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Of icky piano lessons and regrets as an adult

Un-journal prompt #9

Did you take music, dance, or other lessons as a child?

             Every Monday night at 7 p.m., my brother and I trudged over to Mrs. Smith’s house for piano lessons. I hated it. Hated it.

                Did I mention that I hated it?
                My brother eventually started karate lessons and he got to get out of piano because one of the martial arts classes was held the same night. No fair!!
                I never practiced, so of course, Monday night was a trial.
                How much did I dislike it? Well, my mother was the back-up pianist at church when the music minister wasn’t there. When my mom had a conflict, guess who was tapped to play for Sunday services? I think the choir dreaded those Sundays when I was on the piano as much as I disliked being there. I didn’t even want the money! (Yes, the pianist got paid, no matter how unwilling she may have been about actually performing the task.)
                I don’t know why I didn’t like it, although taking piano lessons not being my idea may have had something to do with it.
 I played clarinet from fifth grade through my junior year in college and loved every moment of it. I remember being so afraid that I wouldn’t make the senior high band. The band director came up to the junior high to audition eighth-graders. I’d been playing the clarinet for three years by then and I dreamed of marching on the field at football games and playing “Rock Around the Clock” (there was a ’50s resurgence at the time and the crowds always went wild when the band played “Rock Around the Clock” and, yes, I did eventually get to experience that moment). I had swimming lessons and could be found at the pool just about every day during the summer. There were myriad of crafts, Girl Scouts, YMCA camp and other outdoor ventures that I loved. But piano. Ugh!
                There was always a piano in the house growing up. My mom still has a piano and an organ (yes, a full-size one like you’d see in a church) and a keyboard. She teaches basic piano lessons.
                Do I regret not paying attention? Definitely. I wish, now, that I’d been more studious at piano so I could sit down at a baby grand and make magic happen on the keys. But today, sadly, all I can manage on the piano are the opening bars to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What stresses you?

Un-journal prompt #8
Continuing with the series of Un-journaling prompts, here's my answer to:

What stresses you?

I’ll approach this as a list. And it's a rather short one at that but the items are significant to me:
  • Missing deadlines.

  • Being late – and I’m always late, for everything: work, church, doctor’s appointments, dates, etc. Can’t seem to get myself together.

  • A junky house – so I guess I’m always stressed about this!
  • Feeling as if I’m not living my purpose in life and that time is running out to do something, make a change, find my True North, make a difference.

  • The Check Engine light on the dash of my car. That usually means an expensive repair is soon to be knocking at my wallet. For proof, see what happened to me in September!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Unjournal journaling: Packing up to move

Un-journal prompt #7
Continuing with the series of Un-journaling prompts, here's my response to the simple prompt: 

How many times have you moved in your life?

Moving is not something I like to do. So when I do it, it’s going to be for the long haul. Sometimes I wish I’d grown up military or married a military man. The constant moves that are required of military members means you have to keep the possessions to a manageable level.

As a child we lived in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio; and in a town outside Pittsburgh. As an adult, I’ve moved eight times. Goodness! I didn’t realize it was even that much.

To college: I’m from Pennsylvania and did undergrad in Hampton, Virginia.

Home: After graduation I moved back home and commuted into Pittsburgh where I worked as a newspaper reporter.

To grad school: I left the newspaper to go to grad school at Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio. I moved into a third-floor walk-up apartment. I’d learned during my sophomore year in college that I did not like people on top of me. From heavy walking to music and the like, I knew that if I were ever in an apartment again (or a dormitory), I’d need to live on the top floor. So I found a studio I could afford on a grad student’s non-existent income and called it home until after graduation when I got a job back in Virginia.

Back to Virginia: My first move was to a hotel for a week. My employer put me up until I found an apartment.

Magnolia House: That place ended up being a lovely old Victorian – with magnolia trees in the yard -- that had been converted into five apartments. Unfortunately, heating the place was killing me, so I began looking for another place to live. By the way, today, Magnolia House is a lovely bed-and-breakfast inn.

Phoebus area of Hampton: I moved in with friends and we had the perfect living arrangements. We shared a townhouse and all three of us were on completely different work schedules. The arrangement lasted for two years.

Cottage Life: Next stop after Libbey Street was a lovely little cottage. Little being the operative word. If the oven door was open, you couldn’t open the refrigerator. The “table” in the living room/dining room combo came out of the wall – similar to a Murphy bed. When I bought bedroom furniture, I only got the headboard and a night table. A chest of drawers didn’t fit in the room! But there were no adjoining walls with the neighbors and I kept pots of geraniums on the steps. I stayed there until I bought a house.

Current: The place I call home now has been home since 1990. When I moved in, I danced around in all of the glorious space that was mine, mine, mine. My entire cottage would have fit in the living room and dining room of the house – with room to spare! Now, of course, it’s filled to capacity and I shudder at the thought of having to pack up and move somewhere.