Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Cool News All Around...

So how cool is this. Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction, in which I have a short story, was #1 finalist in the Best Book Awards 2006, Fiction and Literature Anthologies. Which really makes me happy, especially as that is the anthology which includes the short story Daddy Left Me Alone with God...the basis for and name of my current novel.

Here's the official press release, which states, in part:

"“The 2006 results represent a phenomenal mix of books from a wide array of publishers throughout the United States. As an executive in the publishing PR and marketing industry and president of both USABookNews.com and PubInsider.com, I wanted to create an awards competition that recognized books in their publication year rather than months after the original launch window. With a full publicity and marketing campaign promoting the results of BBA, this year’s winners and finalists will gain additional media coverage for the upcoming holiday retail season.”

Winners and finalists traversed the publishing landscape: Simon & Schuster, Warner Books, New American Library a division of the Penguin Group, Red Wheel Weiser and Conari, New World Library, and hundreds of independent press titles contributed to this year’s outstanding BBA competition. Bowen adds, “BBA’s success begins with the enthusiastic participation of authors and publishers and continues with our distinguished panel of industry judges who bring to the table their extensive editorial, PR, marketing, and design expertise.”

Also, my reign as Off Color Empress of Cyberworld (heh) is back on track over at Fictionwise, where yes, yes, Another Bite of the Apple is once again #1 highest rated in erotica.

Here is a fan's review of the Mike Keneally Trio featuring Eric Slick on drums and Bryan Beller on bass, which includes a You Tube of dancing guy (alas he is not dancing for the Keneally Trio in that clip, but rather for the opening band, Fatback). If you click on the link for the review though, not only will you read this woman's gushing comments about the show, you will also see a couple photos of the Keneally Trio on stage.

Speaking of Bryan Beller, I had a really lovely email exchange with him yesterday, and here's a snippet of our conversation:


Hello there, Robin, mother of Eric and Julie, and published erotica authoress. I'm Bryan Beller, bassist and sometimes writer. Nice to meet you. And what a cool life you've got, with such talented kids and an opportunity to engage in the arts yourself.

I have to say that Eric is really, really, really good, and worldly beyond his years. He's also still a kid in all the right ways. Believe you me, when I was 19 I knew less and tried to act older to hide it. No fun. Mike and I had an absolute blast playing him, and we look forward to doing it again..."

As it turns out, Bryan is not only an amazing bass player, he's a very talented writer. He directed me to his on line novella, The Life of Bryan, and I have to say I had an extremely enjoyable time last evening reading this highly compelling and very well written autobiography of a brilliant, sensitive artist torn between the trappings of the corporate world and his music. I was freaking fascinated and could not tear my eyes away from the computer screen. I highly recommend that you have a look...I'm willing to bet that like me you will be sucked in and read the entire thing in one sitting.

And I guess because Bryan and I exchanged the dreaded MySpace stuff (why oh why do I still struggle so with that site...but here's the thing...all of these really cool people keep inviting me to be their friends despite my insistence that I cannot or will not participate...so I'm caving. Big time)...I then got an email from this incredibly cool guy...ha ha...when I just went to collect the link I see my son is one of his friends...Eric, I'm sorry, I promise I will not stalk you around the internet but I can't help it if we have the same musical taste...anyway, here's what he wrote to me as well:

"Thank you so much for trusting me with your son over the past weekend. Eric is a special kid like no other I have ever met. His enthusiasm is unbeleivable.And his playing, words can not describe. He will be a giant at some point. I hope I helped. You can tell he has wonderful parents. I should know I am trying to raise two children in this crazy business as well. Again thank you, and if there is anything I can ever do to help please feel free to call.

Dan Kinney
Sound Mind Productions
(Off Broadway Promoter)
1906 McCausland
Saint Louis, Mo. 63117"

And if that wasn't enough, Steve Vai's brilliant keyboard player, Chris Opperman, had this to say in his My Space Blog last night:

"Monday, October 16, 2006

Waiting for the Charles....

Hello, hello.

I'm feeling quite cheerful and I have a few extra moments to spare, so I thought I'd say hello. Just had a nice conversation with Mike Keneally (he had a great time playing with Eric Slick in St. Louis) and I'm really looking forward to his show in San Diego Saturday. He's performing an entirely improvised set with Scott Thunes, whom I've never gotten to see perform live before, so that'll be pretty exciting, and the drive to San Diego will be nice.

Right now I'm waiting for playwright Andy Mitton to arrive. We're going to hopefully finish "The Charles River Love Song" tonight so I can arrange it for the Halloween show, which is coming up like a freight train. We have so much new music to learn for it (and which I have to finish writing all the charts for) that I'm feeling a little overwhlemed.

Went to Largo Friday night and saw Sean & Sara Watkins w/Jon Brion, Gillian Welch, Benmont Tench, and a bunch of other people. Every time I see Benmont perform it always makes me go home and practice for like 8-10 hours because he's just such a great player with the kind of instinct that only comes from someone who is constantly practicing and perfecting their craft. It was actually one of the most amazing shows I've ever seen. By the end of the show, I really thought that ANYTHING, and I mean ANYTHING could happen. It was total magic.

Speaking of total magic, I picked up the Deluxe Edition of Sonic Youth's "Dirty" album Friday and my Sonic Youth obsession is in full swing. Their music is endlessly fascinating to me and I think it'll be a good influence when we go in the studio on November 4th (Thanks to Mr. Vai!) to put the finishing touches on "Johannah" and "White Willow." Not that either of those songs sound anything like Sonic Youth, but whatever.

We may record a section or two of "The Porpentine," I figure maybe at least the movement called "Thessaly Calls Down the Moon" because I'm still trying to decide whether we're going to do it with MIDI or use real instruments. I just don't know where I'm going to find a tuba player, 4 trombones, an entire woodwind section, chimes, string players, blah blah blah, but I can be quite the resourceful lad when I put my mind to it.

And that's where I'm at. Gotta get back to arranging now.

Music is the best."

Okay, even though I wasn't going to do it, how can I let this go by without a comment? Chris has been writing the Porpentine since I met him last July when Eric performed with him at the Lion's Den in New York City, and now that I am the proud owner of Neil Gaiman's Absolute Sandman, I realize that Chris named his piece Porpentine after a quartz amulet in the Sandman series.

Speaking of that, yep, the reason I own it is because when it first became available as a pre-order on Amazon, Neil kindly mentioned on his blog that it was inexplicably (more like HUGE MISTAKE on Amazon's part) for sale at the unbelievable price of $14.00, instead of its list price of $99.00. I must be honest, since I've never been part of the graphic novel scene (not because I don't like it; I was just oblivious and busy having babies and raising them when Sandman and I guess the inevitable copycats were first published), because of the $14.00 price I grabbed it. Apparently I was one of the lucky few because a day or two later Amazon realized its error, rescinded the offer, and in a lot of cases, did not honor the sales of those who were able to sneak in and purchase the series at that low, low price. But because I read that blurb in Neil's blog like a minute after it was published and headed straight to Amazon, I guess I was one of the chosen ones. Anyway, I had a quick cursory first read yesterday, fell madly in love with it, and here, in the event you, too, have been living under a rock and have never read The Sandman series, let me give you the official blurb:

"THE SANDMAN, written by New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman, was the most acclaimed comic book title of the 1990s. A rich blend of modern myth and dark fantasy in which contemporary fiction, historical drama and legend are seamlessly interwoven, THE SANDMAN is also widely considered one of the most original and artistically ambitious series of the modern age. By the time it concluded in 1996, it had made significant contributions to the artistic maturity of comic books and become a pop culture phenomenon in its own right.

Now, DC Comics is proud to present this comics classic in an all-new Absolute Edition format. The first of four beautifully designed slipcased volumes, THE ABSOLUTE SANDMAN VOL. 1 collects issues 1-20 of The Sandman and features completely new coloring, approved by the author, on the first 18 issues, as well as a host of never-before-seen extra material, including the complete original Sandman Proposal, a gallery of character designs from Gaiman and the artists who originated the look of the Sandman, and the original script to the World Fantasy Award-winning THE SANDMAN #19, "A Midsummer Night’s Dream," together with reproductions of the issue’s original pencils by Charles Vess. Also included are a new introduction by DC’s president Paul Levitz and a new afterword by Gaiman. "

You realize I have to hide this from Gary. I'm already accused of being "Comic Book Guy" from the Simpsons. Because as readers of this blog know, Gary despises computers and I am the never ending butt of his computer geek jokes. He is fully aware and only mildly amused that everytime something cool happens in this family I rush to shout it out on my blog. So he'll tease me in his best Simpson's Comic Guy voice -- and he does a killer version -- "Oh...I must immediately report this magnamimous event to my friends on the internet!"

I can't get mad at him; it is kind of funny because he's right -- but if he actually sees me reading a comic book...err...I mean, graphic novel...I'm toast. Next he'll be buying me a short sleeved button up shirt equipped with a pocket protector full of mechanical pencils and a pair of glasses held together with bandaids and scotch tape.

Then I'll have to counter that by dying my hair black and going Goth...because those are the REAL readers. Um...or so I'm told.

So because I am in a most excellent mood today, here ya go, Sue:

Yep, you have a photo of Neil driving his fabulous convertible Mini Cooper to add to your collection. You can thank me later, Susan.