Peony Perfection

whitepeony

I’m a little behind in my blogging, but I thought I would share these two photos of lovely white blooms I brought indoors a couple of weeks back. Alas, the bountiful rain and hot, humid days have all but eliminated my peonies outdoors.

I didn't have a short vase, so I put the peonies in this glass canister and loved the effect.

Those flowers I placed in a green glass container (as I had no vase available) were fairly ant-free and smelled heavenly, even after they had drooped and started losing their petals. I still have the unopened buds in a small vase for the scent alone. When fresh, they looked like the perfect bridal bouquet.

Friday Morning Visitors

Lizzie in her favorite spot for sleeping.
Lizzie in her favorite spot for sleeping.

The only pets I have at this point in time are cats. Five of them. And true to cat behavior, they occasionally wreak havoc in some fashion. Well, more than occasionally…and always in the wee hours of the morning, when I have important things I need to attend to…like sleep. Subsequent to this nocturnal kitty behavior, I spend my mornings bleary-eyed and catering to their needs before my own (well-trained human that I am), after which most—if not all—of my five cats promptly curl up somewhere and go to sleep.

A disconcerted Ziggy.
A disconcerted Ziggy.

Not so much this morning. The sated-with-food-time-to-ignore-you phase of their morning was interrupted by the sound of what I misinterpreted as little feet running across the roof. Up they jumped from their various degrees of slumber and began racing from window sill to window sill in search of the culprits.

Squirrels, I thought. I even went so far as to open the front door and yell, figuring any animal with half a brain would take flight at the sound of my voice. Sure, like my cats do (not). Apparently, I angered the squirrels and they began to stomp across what I had been assured seven years ago at installation were the very durable shingles of my new roof. I began to worry their aging durability was being put to the test, and went outside to shout again, until it occurred to me I was voicing my displeasure at a possibly bigger animal.

Dale, undisturbed.
Dale, undisturbed.
Bella ("Uh-oh, what the heck is THAT?")
Bella (“Uh-oh, what the heck is THAT?”)

I ducked back inside. The hunter instinct of my kitties (except the deaf one, who slept on undisturbed by the ruckus) shot to the fore, and they began an anxious chase from one side of the house to the other. By this time, I could hear the distinct noise of claws and what seemed to be the dancing of bears to and fro. The bears even went so far as to tumble against the metal chimney pipe, which reverberated through the house like a bell.

Stevie - the usual troublemaker.
Stevie – the usual troublemaker.

What the hey?

The beginning of the venue.
The beginning of the venue.

At this point, a dark shadow glided past the window. A very large, very dark shadow. When another swept past, I hurried in the direction it seemed to have gone and through the window spotted a vulture landing in the dead pine tree beside the driveway. He was not unaccompanied. A couple of his buddies had preceded him. They seemed quite content hanging out among the barren branches and, in the meantime, the bear party continued unabated on the rooftop.

Wait a minute. Wait a stinking minute.

I decided the time had come for a full-blown investigation. For one thing, I needed the cats to return to their somnolent state, since they’d worked themselves into such a frenzy I feared extreme havoc was in the offing. For another, I had a sneaking suspicion my visitors weren’t bears, after all.

The Committee of Vultures (you can't see most of them)
The Committee of Vultures (you can’t see most of them)

Marching outside, I found to my astonishment no less than fifteen—fifteen!—vultures cavorting across the roof of the house and the garage. Not sunning themselves as vultures sometimes do, but roughhousing like a bunch of—well, a bunch of cats. Needing proof, I started taking photos with my phone. Needing my head examined, I talked to them as well, addressing the venue as if they were, indeed, just a feathery brood of kittens. Apparently they liked it. One of the vultures on the garage roof came to the edge and cocked his head from side to side in great interest as I regaled him with a rambling monologue about his cuteness (yes, I did call him cute—did I mention I was bleary-eyed and addled thanks to the nighttime antics of my cats?)

He seemed to like what I was saying...but who knows?
He seemed to like what I was saying…but who knows?

Dismissing what one might consider the creepiness of more than a dozen carrion eaters arrayed across my domicile, I reveled instead in the never-ceasing wonder that is Nature. Even so, as I climbed into my car and pulled away from the committee hanging out on the roof, I did a quick check of my pulse. Just in case.

~Robin

 

Words – Interview with Author Kelly Jensen

Chaos Station, by Kelly Jensen and Jenn Burke
Chaos Station, by Kelly Jensen and Jenn Burke

Robin: Today I am interviewing author Kelly Jensen. Welcome, Kelly. It’s nice to have you.

Kelly: Thank you for having me!

Robin: When I write, I use my own name for sweet to sensual romance and the pen name Celia Ashley for the spicier variety. Do you use a pen name?

Kelly: Not at the moment. I write under my own name. When my co-writer (Jenn Burke) and I submitted CHAOS STATION, the first male/male manuscript for both of us, I considered using a pen name simply to separate the book from what I already had published. I’d heard so much about author branding, I thought I should use one name for male/female romance and one for m/m. But I loved CHAOS STATION so much, I wanted my name on the cover. Same went for my co-writer. Also, I only had one previously published title, so it wasn’t as if I already had a brand. 😀

Now that I have four m/m titles listed under my name (with two more to come in June!), I may rethink the pen name if I ever get around to publishing more m/f. It won’t be anything wild, though, and I’d like to have a clear connection to both names, with works by both represented on the one site.

Robin: That makes sense. I know a lot of authors have their pen names as separate tabs on their website menu and gain crossover readership that way. Now, your career writing romance began relatively recently, but you have spent more than a decade reviewing video games. Your first romance, LESS THAN PERFECT, is set in a post-apocalyptic America. Can we assume the setting was influenced by your gaming experience, or is this backdrop something that has always inspired you in your writing, separate and apart from the worlds of video games?

Less Than Perfect by Kelly Jensen
Less Than Perfect by Kelly Jensen

Kelly: I always dreamed of writing science fiction. I read a lot of it, and I love the idea of imagining our future. Tuck a love story in there somewhere and I’m a very happy reader. So when it came to writing my own stories, there is always an element of romance. But science fiction, particularly post-apocalyptic settings, is my first love.

I get some of it from gaming—the Fallout series is one of my favourites, and don’t get me started on the subject of Mass Effect (which is more impending apocalypse, on an inter-galactic scale) or we’ll be here forever. My obsession with post-apocalyptic environments originally stems from fiction, though. As a teenager I devoured books like Earth Abides, Day of the Triffids and Footfall. I could list a hundred books and tell you how each one influenced me, but it’s really a theme in general: new beginnings. To me, that’s what science fiction is all about, whether it’s post-apocalyptic, dystopian or optimistic. It’s us doing something new.

Lonely Shore by Kelly Jensen and Jenn Burke - Book #2 of the Chaos Station series
Lonely Shore by Kelly Jensen and Jenn Burke – Book #2 of the Chaos Station series

Robin: What made you switch from male-female to male-male romance? Was it based on the story you needed to tell, or…?

Kelly: I have other male/female WIPs and I intend to write more of it—with romance as the focus and with romance as an element. Jenn and I have written a fantasy novel together that has a male/female romance tucked into a tale of swords and sorcery. But when considering this project, we really wanted to write two men because there aren’t a lot of stories out there combining science fiction and male/male romance. Essentially, we wrote something we’d like to read. The setting lent itself beautifully to being able to explore a same sex romance without having to consider the constraints of a contemporary romance as well. There is very little prejudice in our world (which is set two hundred years in the future), and being who you are is more important than who you sleep with.

Robin: Do you think you will always write science fiction, or would you consider a different sub-genre?

Kelly: I read really widely, so I’d like to write widely too. I’ve written science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary at this point. I’d also like to try something historical—even though I’m sure the research would kill me—and perhaps even a mystery or suspense. Jenn and I are also fleshing out a light paranormal world.

Robin: On your website, I saw that you and your co-writer for CHAOS STATION, Jenn Burke, are best friends, but does that make the process of writing easier or more difficult? Would you tell me a bit about how your method of co-writing works?

Kelly: I think it makes it both easier and more difficult!

The first thing that applies to co-writing of any sort is you have to check your ego at the door. You’re not going to love every word your co-writer puts down and she’s not going to love every single one of yours. It’s definitely good if you like most of them, though. 😉 Thing is, it’s not a solo project, so you have to learn to compromise, and not to get your knickers in a knot while doing so. Sometimes that’s hard. None of us likes to hear criticism. Thankfully, Jenn and I have the sort of relationship where, for the most part, we can say: “This scene isn’t working for me and here’s why.” Sometimes we’re not that tactful. But we both love these characters and this world. We wrote the story arc together, we built the world together. We’re equally invested in making the series work. So we’re invested in making it work together.

Our method is fairly simple. Both of us write from the point of view of a single character—one of the two “heroes” or “main characters”. We share a third point of view character, taking on writing his scenes when we have a feel for what needs to be accomplished in that scene. When we wrote our first novel together—the fantasy one—we spent a lot of time sending the file back and forth with questions like: “What would your character do here?” A few chapters in, we gained enough confidence writing one another’s characters that we were able to complete an entire scene or chapter without asking for specific direction. Of course, if she has one of my guys making a gesture I don’t think fits, I can change it, and vice versa. Sometimes it’s a word choice. Usually simple things. We’ve been writing together for so long, though, that we know the personality and quirks of every character.

Nuts and bolts—we use One Drive. Sometimes we’ll work in a file together, at the same time. More usually, one of us will write a scene/chapter, then sit back and wait for the other person to write the next scene/chapter. We’ll alternate like that until the book is done. Then we edit the entire book together, leaving one another comments and suggestions.

Robin: Do you have other books planned together? Do you have other books planned on your own?

Kelly: We have so many books planned together. Honestly, we’re going to have to live to be 150 to write them all. We really enjoy world building and writing together, though, and our voices and style are very complimentary.

I also have a number of solo projects that I plan to fit in between the series I’m writing with Jenn. They range from short stories, which I love to write, to complete novels across a few different sub-genres.

Robin: The publishing world has changed so much since my first release (too many years ago to mention, lol). There are so many opportunities for writers now, though conversely, more struggles, too. It’s often difficult to know which path to choose. Are you published via small pub, self-pub, NY pub, or a combination thereof?

Kelly: Small pub. I have titles with Entangled Publishing, Carina Press and Dreamspinner Press. I’ve enjoyed working with all three, and feel small press is a great fit for me. There is more individual attention, and you have the opportunity to really connect with your editor. Small presses also have a strong cadre of loyal fans who eagerly await each new release, which helps with promotion.

Robin: Great to hear! CHAOS STATION was, I believe, released by Carina Press in March of this year. Is there a particular reason you write for each of the three houses? Was it a matter of what the editors at each were looking for at the time you were seeking publication, or something else?

Kelly: We specifically chose Carina Press for the Chaos Station series and were delighted when they opted to contract all five books. We chose them based on their catalog of offerings, which included a good number of both male/male romance and science fiction romance titles.

My submission to Entangled was in response to a call for geeky girl stories. Same with Dreamspinner—my story there was for an anthology call. I would consider both publishers again if I write more short fiction.

Robin: Do you have an upcoming release?

Kelly: I have several!

5/25/15 – LONELY SHORE (Chaos Station, #2) – co-written with Jenn Burke (M/M SFR) 6/1/15 – NEVER TOO LATE (A Daily Dose Anthology) (M/M Contemporary Romance) 6/1/15 – OUT IN THE BLUE (A Never Too Late Story) – My contribution to the anthology also releases individually on the same day June-July – WRONG DIRECTION – I don’t have a firm date for the release of this novella. (M/M NA Contemporary Romance) 10/5/15 – SKIP TRACE (Chaos Station, #3) – co-written with Jenn Burke (M/M SFR)

Robin: That’s an impressive amount of work! Thank you, Kelly for taking the time out from your writing to speak with me. I wish you all the best!

Kelly: Thank you for taking the time to chat. Writers love to talk about their work (as you may know). I hope we have the opportunity to talk again—about your work!

Robin: Thanks, Kelly. I’m sure we will be talking again!

The Chicken Teapot and the Fantastically Lovely Day

Today was one of those days that ended up being exceptional, and for no particular reason. The purpose of my excursion was to find a local “fruit stand” (a misnomer, if you ask me) in order for my daughter-in-law to buy some thyme plants for her little garden in the backyard. I wasn’t exactly sure where this place was located, so we headed out on this fantastically lovely day for a little adventure.

Well, being Memorial Day weekend, and a fantastically lovely day (oh, did I say that already? I can’t help the repetition—the attributes of the day were just part of the many factors making up the exceptional excursion), so naturally yard sales abounded. I tried to ignore them, turning my eyes away from all the items of someone else’s clutter, determined not to add to mine. Fat chance.

The blue sky, fresh air and front yards full of treasure beckoned. I must say, I did manage to resist all manner of furnishings crying out for an application of paint to make them into what I like to call “practical art”—my usual weakness at yard sales. Instead, I fell in love with a uniquely-shaped chicken teapot. Not that the teapot possessed a chicken shape. That would have been too much even for me. No, it is a square-ish ceramic pot with a painted scene of chickens. I couldn’t walk fully from it. I kept returning again and again to the place where it sat until I felt compelled to ask the price. For a yard sale, the price was a little steep, but I bought it without haggling. Lauren (the above d-i-l) announced how proud she was that I had managed to ignore all the furniture we’d seen and that despite the price of my adorable little chicken tea pot, I deserved the occasional splurge. (God bless her.)

Chicken Tea Pot close up

“Someday, my kids will be cursing me, because they’re going to have to get rid of everything I’ve collected,” I commented to the gentleman seated nearby, whose yard we were perusing for items of irresistible interest. He laughed. So did I. I wasn’t about to let the thought of my demise at some future date and my children being burdened by my possessions ruin this fantastically lovely day.

This is a heartleaf alkanet, which has the prettiest, tiny blue flowers, which you should be able to make out to the left (I hope).

Our next stop was the “fruit stand” itself (eventually located), awash in lovely color, as tables and wagons and graveled paths laden with annuals, perennials, and the very thyme we’d been hunting met our delighted eyes. We spent quite a bit of time hunting thyme and everything else, leaving Stauffer’s with the thyme in question, as well as chives, a heartleaf alkanet (a what? I’d never heard of the shade-loving plant, but it’s beautiful), and a pot of coral bells, whose burgundy leaves are a treat.

Coral Bells - nice color, right?
Coral Bells – nice color, right?

However, we were not finished. The open road, the blue sky, the fresh air continued to call to us. So off we went, to Somerset Nursery, where we ogled more plants. Naturally, I couldn’t walk away empty-handed. I cringe as I write those words, because I really am not a spendthrift. In fact, I am usually most obsessively frugal. Oh well. Blame it on the fantastically lovely day. (Right now, the writers of my acquaintance are also cringing. I don’t think they will approve of my disproportionate use of adverbs and adjectives in this blog—again, blame it on the fantastically lovely day.)

Lauren's garden, which will have all the makings of a delicious salad soon.
Lauren’s garden, which will have all the makings of a delicious salad soon.

Afterward, made light-hearted by our unexpected fun, we headed home to grace the waiting soil with our finds—with the exception of the chicken teapot, of course. That little beauty is planted on the windowsill in my kitchen, where it will neither bloom nor bear fruit, but will remind me of this wonderful day whenever I see it…

Now who could resist this?
Now who could resist this?

(Yes, that is my hope, and not that I will be reminded instead of the fact my children will one day be forced to stick a price tag on all my treasures and set them out on a table in the sun for some other bargain hunter to find—but hey, such is the cycle of life.)

B.B. King – Passing of a True Legend – not my words, but my brother’s heartfelt message

On May 15, 2015, at 11:45 AM, my older brother, Bob Probst, wrote and forwarded to my younger brother and me the following in regard to the passing of B.B. King:

An iconic musical giant, and a powerfully personal hero of mine, has passed into immortality. Riley B. King, better known as B.B. King, has died in Las Vegas at age 89.

 I was fortunate enough to see this man perform on five separate occasions during my lifetime. The most memorable was the first,  when I attended one of his shows at the legendary Club Paradise in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee in the spring of 1973. I was accompanied by my longtime friend Rick Hurd, and a small group of our Memphis pals.

This concert was unforgettable for so many reasons. The venue was in a section of the city that still exhibited the widespread devastation resulting from the riots that occurred five years earlier, following the assassination of Martin Luther King. The price of admission was three dollars and fifty cents (!).

 As we went inside, I immediately noticed a large sign above the entranceway that stated “Please Leave Your Weapons At The Door”.  To the right of the ticket booth, there was a literal stockpile of guns, knives, brass knuckles, blackjacks, etc. I was terrified, more so as I realized quickly that we were part of a very small minority of white patrons.

Miraculously to me at the time, we were welcomed with friendly, open arms, and in fact, were given a front row table, center-stage. That warm reception in and of itself was a revelation that I took with me for always.

When B.B took the stage, I was seated less than ten feet in front of the man. He immediately launched into his classic ‘The Thrill is Gone’ (a big radio hit around that time) followed by a seemingly endless performance that was nothing less than breathtaking. He sang and played his beloved Gibson ES-355 guitar with raw emotion and startling power; every note he exuded soared with truth and beauty. It was something ethereal that crept into my bones and remains to this day.

 B.B. himself had said in interviews that he played his guitar ‘Lucille’ the ‘economy way’. Rather than the extended leads and lightning-fast, shredding style so prevalent in today’s rock and blues music, B.B played sparse solos and short fills where he could speak volumes with one single note. He utilized the guitar in a way that both complimented and accentuated his stirring and soul-drenched vocal phrasings, but never distracted from them. This was never more evident than that night in 1973. I can say with all honesty, that I was nearly moved to tears.

There were no intermissions, no breaks that night. B.B. was on fire, and I don’t think he would have stopped playing if the roof of the place had fallen in. By the time we left, it was close to 3:00 AM, and he was still going strong. In fact, some members of his band were so exhausted that they had to stop, and B.B. wound up recruiting musicians from the audience to fill in so he could continue. As we left the club, the sounds of his explosive voice and exquisite guitar soloing followed us out into the early Memphis morning.

 It should be noted too that with B.B’s departure, a critical chapter of American musical history has come to a close. He was the very last of the legendary bluesmen from the Mississippi Delta.

This great performer gave me moments in my life that will never go away, and I couldn’t be more thankful.  R.I.P, Riley. You truly were the King of the Blues.

 –Bob

Thank you, Bob, for this moving tribute. I read it with a combination of tears and goose bumps. ~ Robin

Words – Interview with Tony Lucca

Tony Lucca's latest release
Tony Lucca’s latest release: Tony Lucca

Robin: I have with me today singer/songwriter Tony Lucca.

Welcome, Tony. Thank you for agreeing to let me interview you.

Tony: Certainly, my pleasure!

Robin: You are my first interview for the “Words” segment of my blog, in which I hope to celebrate the singular power of words, from those who write them to those who organize words into a format for others to enjoy. It is my intent to interview authors, songwriters, editors, recording engineers, publishers, poets, visual artists (because, as it is said, a picture is worth a thousand words) and those who aspire to this type of creativity. Speaking of pictures, your most recent tour is called the Paint a Picture Tour. I’m sure most of your fans already know the reason for this, but this particular fan isn’t quite sure if the tour is named after the next to last song on your current release, or if there is more to it than that.

Tony: Well the song itself was actually, at one point, on the chopping block. Basically it’s a bit of a departure from the rest of the rather “rockin’” record. However, my kids really grew attached to the song, having been some of the first listeners of the initial demo. When I told them I didn’t think the song was going to make the record they were quite upset. My son, Liam, said “well then your record’s gonna suck!” I’d like to think he was kidding, but it turns out he was right. The song needed to be on the record. Fans seemed to fall in love with it right away and so to acknowledge my near-mistake, I decided to name the tour after the song.

Robin: Thanks for enlightening me! And thanks to Liam for speaking up. I’ve often been asked at what point the writing bug infected me, so let’s start this interview with that. When in the course of your life did you realize music was your gift and/or your goal?  Was your desire to be a musician obvious to you at a young age, or something you came to recognize later?

Tony: I think I made my first effort to write something as early as 7 or 8. But it wasn’t until I got up in front of a crowd to play some original songs that I realized this was what I was going to do for the rest of my life. Certainly after receiving my first pay check, it became even clearer. I think I was 12.

Robin: I love classical music and, as a writer, I will use the music—a different piece for each story I’m working on—to shoot me straight into the mindset I need to be to write. Do you have a certain routine you use to get into songwriting mode?

Tony: For me it’s more about creating the space, both physically and mentally. Oddly enough, spending a day at home alone, usually while knocking out a few loads of laundry, seems to be when inspiration is a little easier to come by. It becomes part of the pace of things. Pick up the guitar, get a strong melody in my head, brainstorm some ideas, switch out the colors for the whites, make a few drive-bys looking things up on the computer or pulling books off the shelf. It can get fairly intense but usually within a few hours I’ve got something that’s either going to hold up or something I’ll let go of and move on from.

Robin:  [Laughing] Okay, then. I kind of like that image of going through the laundry motions while creating. When I write, I find I perform research first for historical novels, and let the characters develop from the past, and conversely in contemporaries I develop the characters first and let the story grow around them. When you write songs, do you write the words or music first, or does it vary? Also, do you have a preference for the instrument used when putting lyrics into song?

Tony: It always varies. The best songs seem to come all at once. And although I’ve experimented with everything from a simple shaker, to the bass, to the piano, the guitar just seems to be the one I go to most frequently. It’s probably just a convenience thing.

Robin: I can understand that. Plus dragging the piano into the laundry room might be a little unwieldy. On Under the Influence, you give a nod to artists who have influenced you over the years with a cover of each of their songs, including Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, the Rolling Stones, and my particular favorite from my high school years, Led Zeppelin. If you could pick only one, however, which artist or band would you say influenced you most? Would it be one of those from the cd, or someone else entirely?

Tony: Impossible. Sorry.

Robin: Don’t apologize. I don’t think I could choose just one author or event that set me on the path to writing, believe me. After the recent passing of your uncle you made a post on your Facebook page about his influence on you musically, and about the artistic talent of your family in general. Do you want to share a little bit more about that?

Tony: The older I get the more I realize what a blessing it is to be a part of such a wonderfully talented family. Sadly, the bigger the family, the more you have to be prepared, emotionally, when it comes time to say good-bye.

Robin: They live on in our hearts, which is always a comfort, and with you, in your music. How, exactly, would you brand your style of music? Can it be summed up as a particular style? Has it changed over the years?

Tony: It’s always been tough to try to classify myself. I gave up trying years ago. Though being a “guy with a guitar” who plays his own songs technically makes me a singer/songwriter, I feel there’s an inherent soul element to everything I’ve done as well. And with my latest record I was able to incorporate more of the classic rock sound I grew up on.

Robin: Writers are usually somewhat introverted, or at least used to working in a very solitary fashion. As a singer/songwriter, you are often engaged with the public. How important is this to you as a writer? As a performer?

Tony: Boundaries are extremely important, as is the ability to compartmentalize your time and attention. There are times when you need to be reachable, approachable and personable. There are other times when you need to keep it tight, focused and isolated. I feel that for an artist to arrive at something truly inspired, it’s inevitably going to require some degree of solitude and introspection.

Robin: Did you know you had been referred to as a “young Sting”?  How did that make you feel?

Tony: I’m a big Sting fan.

Robin: Me, too. So I guess you’re pleased by the reference. I must confess, I hadn’t seen that previously, even though it’s a reference from a while ago. I smiled when I saw it.  It is obvious to those of us who enjoy your music that each song is inspired by something in your life. Some are rocking and other songs are quite moving. My particular favorites of the latter type are “Bad Guy” (Shotgun) and “Nobody But You” (Rendezvous with the Angels), released at the time when you were a budding family (a quite lovely and engaging family, I might add). On the self-titled Tony Lucca, released early this year—which, to me, is a perfectly balanced compilation of energy and soul—you have a lovely tune called “Sparrow”, which we all know is written about your daughter. Do you feel your music echoes your contentment? Or do you continue to delve into past experiences—as a lot of writers do—for use in your songwriting?

Tony: I’m always amazed at the power of songs and their storytelling magic. And though it’s fun to revisit earlier experiences by playing older songs, it always a bit more fulfilling when you can connect to your most recent set of experiences through your more current material. I know with regards to the new record and current tour, I’m having a great time connecting to the material each night. People can tell when you’re taking pride in what you do and I’m real proud of these songs.

Robin: I had no plans to bring up your stint on The Voice, but I would like to mention your acoustic duet of the Beatles’ “Yesterday” with Adam Levine. You have commented to certain people that you enjoyed that experience immensely. If you could choose someone else, anyone else—whether current or from the past—with whom would you most like to perform a duet today?  Perhaps not just to perform a duet, but to co-write the song for that particular performance?

Tony: I would Love to work with David Crosby. I think he had a way of writing that was so mysterious; honest and cryptic at the same time. Not to mention all the ethereal harmonies he seems to come up with. I feel I could stand to learn a great deal working with him.

Robin: What are your professional plans for the future?

Tony: More writing, recording and touring I suppose. I’ve got a batch of songs that I wrote for some of my Kickstarter backers. The songs were very inspired and came out really nice. I’m really looking forward to getting in to record those. I’ve got ideas of doing a live recording of my 2006 release, Canyon Songs, possibly for the 10-year anniversary. We’ll see.

Robin:  Sounds wonderful!  A live recording of Canyon Songs would be perfect. I look forward to your next project. Thanks again, Tony, for your time!

*    *    *

I hope you enjoyed this interview with Tony Lucca! To celebrate the release of my novel, Dark Tides, from Lyrical Press today, I will be giving away a gift digital download to three randomly selected readers who comment today.  Thanks for your interest.~Robin

The Library Rules

Yes, I know, there are rules to using a physical library, a brick and mortar building of hushed voices, high ceilings, row upon row of worn and handled books, lofty ideals and hope, earnest absorption and the concentrated knowledge of so many others at your fingertips.  But I don’t mean those rules.  I mean the library rules!

I am ashamed to say, I haven’t been inside a library for years, performing all my research on-line or through the use of books I have purchased for that purpose.  However, last week I had a few hours of time during which I couldn’t leave the Doylestown area, and decided to spend it in the library I used to frequent when I lived in Bucks County.

Oh.  Freaking. My.

It was like coming home.

Yes, indeed, I found myself enveloped by warm and fuzzy welcome.  And unlike the internet, where you pretty much need to know exactly what you seek before you search, in the library you are free to wander down the aisles, drawing books from the shelves at random for your researching pleasure.  And draw out books I did, taking them one at a time to a comfy chair at the end of the aisle where I perused each with an eye to anything that caught my fancy.  As the first fascinating tidbit of information jumped out at me, I wrote it down, which then led me to search for more and more, until I had wandered down each and every aisle and filled multiple pages of a purple (I have a particular affinity for purple) spiral-bound notebook with facts and quotes and references, enough for me to have formulated a rough idea of an entire storyline.

Goodness, I had forgotten how wonderful that felt.

Unfortunately, I also found signs that the library had succumbed to the digital age, as the amount of shelving, and therefore books upon them, had shrunken considerably.  Alas, such is progress.  Who am I to deny the benefits?  Still, I hold a special place in my heart for the sanctity of the library, with gentle and loving remembrance of a certain few.

The Somers Library in Upstate New York, lodged in a tiny one-hundred-year-old house with the children’s section fitted into the space beneath the attic eaves.  Perfect.  Adults couldn’t even stand up there.

Or the erstwhile Cherry Hill Library in New Jersey (I believe it has since grown into something new and therefore remarkable—but I may be mistaken), where I found copies of personal correspondence written by the men and women who lived through the brutal sepoy rebellion in India.  The brutality existed on both sides, as did the noble acts of selflessness and bravery, something of which I hadn’t been entirely aware until I read the descriptive words contained in those journal entries and missives.

And, of course, I cannot ever forget the grade-school library where I discovered my favorite book of childhood, Apples Every Day.   So enamored was I of the story penned by Grace Richardson that I renewed it over and over again and even wrote a letter to the author, who wrote back to me.  I still have the letter, written with lovely penmanship and containing a promise from Ms. Richardson that if she wrote a sequel, she would give Gabby a horse, just for me.

In conclusion, I shall reiterate: the library rules.  It rules the places in my heart where inspiration curls in want of awakening, it rules the places in my mind where the roots of inspiration have grown to blossom upon their lurch from slumber.   It rules my reader’s longing for worlds that would otherwise be hidden from me, and it rules my writer’s passion.

Quite clearly, the Library Rules.