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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Chubby Checker-The Twist

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Who doesn't love The Twist? When thinking of the perfect song for Liz and Julie to dance to in a funky little bar in L.A. during a weekend trip, I didn't have to think long or hard before they got up and did The Twist. It was a song that even white girls could move to and I know this because I can do it....with the exception of the moves I learned on Dirty Dancing there are not very many moves in my bag of tricks. It also seemed perfect that this song is probably one of the most energetic, fun songs of all time and Liz is dancing to it when she spots a guy that she recognizes as Brian, who appears to have dropped off the face of the planet during the week before. She goes quickly from moving and shakin' to running like hell to argue with the man she had fallen in love with, to beg him to come back to not only her but all of the students that depended on him. The abrupt mood change was bi-polar, yes, but that was sort of the point. :) The change in mood in no way changes my mind about this song, or Liz's for that matter. It is a great tune to get up and move to.

Big Mama Thornton-Ball N' Chain

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When Liz gets wasted at Blind Willie's Bar and she is escorted back to her dorm by the professer she has a crazy crush on, this is the song she breaks into. It was fall of '64 so it was before Janis did it for the first time and it was a song that Liz had learned during her summer on Venice Beach. These were her first days of college at Berkley and her first days of crushing on Brian McVie. Although she couldn't know it then, her singing this particular song as he walked her back to the university was actually sort of ominous. The friendship/relationship those two would stumble into (and through) could often be compared to the feelings Big Mama put into this song. What she feels for that man is almost love at first sight and he feels it too but between people trying to keep them apart and their own foolish mistakes, the road of love is a long and winding's not paved either. Nope. It's rocky as hell. I know when I found that man that was almost my love at first sight and he did me wrong, the year and a half that we were split up I listened to Janis's version of this song a million times and I sang it for all I had....usually with a bottle in my lap. When love does you wrong, this is the place to go to get that out in a way that doesn't involve destroying anything or doing bodily harm to the person who did you wrong. :) So, while it seemed harmless that night, her busting out with this particular song with Brian at her side one could get about one hundred pages into the book and go, "Shoulda known better..." hahaha Plus, it's just a really great song...both versions. It is the blues at it's best.

Big Mama Thornton-Rock Me Baby

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When Liz and Julie first get to California and they start their summer at Venice Beach where they encounter true stoners for the first time, I wanted to talk about music because I always want to talk about music but I was like racking my brain over what the earliest hippie stoners in '64, those who came before bands like The Doors, The Airplane, and others that went so well with drugs, might have listened to. I chose the blues because The Blues was a style of music that, because it was "black" music, was somewhat rebellious to those white kids that knew about it. I am from Ohio as is my grandma and she has always loved black music. The blues, the Doo Whop bands of the '60's, the originial rock n' roll has always been her thing (another thing that might actually be genetic, I guess). When I started writing Castles I had a conversation with her about the music she listened to then and how people reacted to it. She told me that one night a week for a couple of hours if you could get a certain station in, you could hear artists like Otis Redding, people we see as legends now, but otherwise people who sang black music were largely ignored by radio stations. Then, when I was doing my research for Monterey Pop, they were talking about the fact that when Otis Redding came out on stage only a hand ful of kids knew who he was because the music just wasn't played. So to me it made sense that these kids who were still sort of riding in between the wave of the Beatnik and the hippie would get stoned to The Blues. I hope I pegged that right. Grandma might have been a blues lover but she knew nothing about pot in the '60's (go figure!) except what she heard on TV so she was no help with this particular question. :)

The Beatles-Twist and Shout

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Liz starts off the book almost from the word go talking about The Beatles and how important they had become to her since the death of JFK a little over six months before the book and her journey begins. She refers to the band as the place where she and young people like her were hanging their dreams since the president's death sort of left them with a hole to fill. It is my personal belief that if there had been no John Kennedy and if he had not been assisanated when he was, the reaction that the young people had to The Beatles may not have been quite as intense. When Kennedy was elected president it was supposed to mark a new era, an era of hope and happiness, and his death crushed the nation. So when the Fab Four touched down here in the States with their happy go lucky tunes and their good looks it was like, "Hey, man, this is it!" And the hippie movement grew and evolved almost in time with the band's music and the band itself. Not everyone liked the band and other characters in the book make jabs at Liz's love for them a few times(especially Jack who feels that hormones are the sole reason behind the band's popularity) but Liz absolutely LOVES them. Since the book is her life from '64 on, they are talked about quite a bit. This particular song is one of their earlier tunes with an explanation of how she felt about them in the begining.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mr. Tambourine Man- Bob Dylan

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"I am ready to go anywhere, I am ready for to fade/Into my own parade/Cast your dancing spell my way...I promise to go under it!" How powerful is that line? This is the quote I use for part one of the book because part one is all about Liz setting out on her own and going into the great unknown. That line fits it like a glove and it was literally the first thing I ever wrote for Castles. I knew I wanted it before I was sure of what would become of Liz on her journey, where exactly she would be, or who would be in her life along the way. Bob Dylan never had the best voice but he had his voice and I love it. His songs didn't always make sense but those that made no sense were usually fun and songs like this one, this amazing tune that seems to encompass the feelings of an amazing journey, an exciting trip, an aimless ramble make up for those like Subterranian Homesick Blues. Plus, Bob quickly becomes one of Liz's favorite "new" singers when she gets to California. He's there from the start of the trip to the very end. Her first concert New Port in '65 if that tells ya anything. :) So that line and this song represent youth and innocence for me, the youth and innocence of Liz as she sets out for a whole new world with no idea of where she was really going.

Castles Made of Sand -Jimi Hendrix

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I started the soundtrack off with the song that I named the book after. "And so castles made of sand fall in the sea eventually." I had been writing the book for about six months and I could not think of a title for it. I had wracked my brain but nothing seemed to fit. Then one night I was writing in my journal about whatever I had done to the book that day and I was listening to my new Hendrix CD. This song was on and my attention was focused on writing but suddenly it tuned into the music right at that line and the light bulb in my brain went off. This book is all about dreams. It is all about that beautiful eutopia that hippies sought to create, that for a moment they thought they had, and how it all seemed to fall apart by 1970. So the line was perfect for the mood of the book and what it represented, what the whole scene sort of represented. It also seemed perfect to name the book for a song....a Jimi song at that. I mean, try to imagine the '60's without the music. Scary, huh? It was so important, the musicians ended up so legendary, and it all reflected what was going on which is why it was so important at the time. In my old journal, the one I was writing in that night, I scrolled across the top 'CASTLES MADE OF SAND! OF COURSE!' I had found my title at last. One of many things I can thank the amazing James Marshal Hendrix for.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What About A Soundtrack?

Music not only played a huge part in the '60's, it played a huge part in Castles Made of Sand. I have to admit that I had a fucking blast listening to some of my favorite tunes while I was writing the book and many of those songs ended up in the book. Dylan plays a big part in it, as one could guess by the fact that the book starts with a quote from Mr. Tambourine Man. Morrison, Janis, and Hendrix became very good friends of Liz's and their music is talked about throughout the book. Jefferson Airplane was mentioned and the music festivals like Monterey, Woodstock, and Toronto are all mentioned along with the bands who were there. And of course The Beatles with Lennon at the forefront. Liz, like most teenaged girls of the early '60's, found true love with her first Beatles album and John was her favorite. As her life changed so did her relationship with this amazing poet/musician. He wasn't like her pals who just happened to make music. She had hero-worshipped him for years. So the transformation from fan to friend is something to watch. Anyway, the place I am trying to get to with all this talk of great tunes is that I would like to do a blog with some of the songs that appear throughout the book. Who thinks that is a good plan?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It's been a boring week!/ What Made the '60's the decade of the century

Yeah, I added two titles to this because I intend to start off by bitching about the fact that literally hours after my last post my power cord to my lap top, that damnable thing I had been piecing together since August, finally bid its final farewells to the world. It refused to be spliced and put together again. It said goodbye cruel world and that was that. Fortunately, my old man and I saw this coming earlier that day and we ordered another. Unfortunately I just got it today. Now I am behind on EVERYTHING from finacial aid stuff to book promoting to facebooking. I think some of my facebook friends actually feared that I was going to be on a milk carton soon. But I did get to read some of my old books I had lying around and I didn't have class so those were two pluses. I also did a little writing old school style (you all remember what that was like, right? Where we used a pen and some paper???? lol). With my rant finished I would like to go all philosophical on everyone. If the 1960's holds no interest for you, stop reading now and ignore the remainder of this blog of mine. But if you are like me and you have a mind that has spent countless hours holding on to that place in time (even if, like me, you never lived within it in this life) you have probably asked yourself a time or two in the past what it was about those precious ten years that still holds us so captivated. I have a few theories. The first seems pretty simple. It was meant to happen. That time, those places, and the people who lived within them were meant to be thrown together in such a way as to create mass social, cultural, and psychological changes in our world. Look at all that came about as a result of those crazy years. Racial equality, gender equality, the begining of gay rights, and through it all there was the soundtrack of a lifetime supplied by some of the most amazing musicians we will ever know. Many of these issues are coming up again with war and women's rights taking the forefront and it seems sometimes as if history is repeating itself...or rather, that it would depending on how we react to it this time around. There is a lot to fight in our nation right now no matter what your views are. The problem is, like the us and them battle between the generations back then, we are again fighting each other instead of issues. This can be really counterproductive but it is also really hard to resist. I find myself looking at certain people in politics, in the media, and even in every day life thinking, 'Man, what a total jerk off!' because I have never been able to understand the craving of power and the desire of some to rob many of rights that harm no one and benefit most. But then again, how well would those people understand me? I'm a crazy tree hugger with impossible dreams and unrealistic visions. I do stand by the Live and let Live philosophy one hundred percent but I do not claim to approve of everyone and their views or choices. I have often wondered what the original hippies would think of me and my way of doing things. How many saw all war as unnecissary? I don't. Some wars are justified. But Vietnam wasn't, Korea wasn't, and the three we are currently involved in, if they were once, appear to not be justified anymore. How many hippies do you suppose saw all drugs as good ideas? I don't. Things like heroin, coke, crack, meth....they have no place in the world. Pot, 'shrooms, even the acid of the Owlsly variety (too many crazy things in it now I've heard) were said to open up other worlds. You really heard nothing of overdoses or addiction where they were concerned. So maybe they were alright. I would love nothing more than to sit down with someone who marched on the Pentagon, someone who went to Woodstock, someone who cried out in shock and fury on the streets of Chicago and just rap with them, you know? But maybe what I want most is to see someone like that read my book and tell me just how right or wrong I was in my assumptions. That is something I will look forward to almost as much as seeing that damned thing in print. There is much to learn from the road they paved and these are lessons we may need soon for our own battles.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Castles Made of Sand

So, I have spent a great deal of time these past couple of weeks doing self-promotion for my book that I self-published through Kindle called Castles Made of Sand. First, let me say that self-promotion fucking sucks. There is no kind way to put this. The one good point, the bright spot in an otherwise dark job, is getting to meet fellow book worms and writers along the way. Sites like Shelfari have entertained me for hours as I plugged my book. But the people are kind of like my Nicoret. You know? 'Quitting sucks, Nicoret helps it suck less'? This is like the final frontier of self-promotion and I have no idea what the hell I'm doing. But I have read the same thing time and time again....Promote on forums and communities and BLOG! I have been writing blogs on myspace for almost four years but somehow I think this is a little people actually read these for starters. Now I cannot fill up every blog with talk of my book or any of you out there reading this will get sick of me and I will get sick of myself. So what would you guys like to hear about? If there is a band out there, I probably have an opinion on them; if there is a book out there and I have read it, I can talk about for at least a few paragraphs; I am Wiccan but I am open to any religious talks if that is your cup of tea; I am a psych major but more importantly, I am a crazy chick who has always been the free therapist of basically everyone I have ever known so if life issues are what you want to discuss I am open to that too...Like I said before, the people I have met along this strange journey have been my nicoret and any of you reading this might make the whole self-promotion thing suck a little less so I am open to suggestions. Now, for the moment we have all been waiting for: The all important plugging of the mysterious book in question: Castles Made of Sand is available through and I have it listed at .99 until April 25th. If it sells well I might make that the permenant price. Here is its description:
When Liz Sanders leaves her parents’ home in Ohio with her best friend Julie at her side, she is full of expectations for her future but none of them can compare with what she gets. At first the California scene she has entered intimidates her but from her first day of class at Berkeley, California becomes her home. She tries to carve out her place while also keeping herself together despite the pressure of writing full time for an underground news paper, becoming increasingly involved with the anti-war movement, and hobnobbing with some of the most infamous names of the 1960’s. On the outside Liz’s life looks like an exciting adventure. On the inside those she loves are falling hard into a world of heroin and madness. For a brief moment it appears as if the dreams she has worked toward might come true but the moment does not last and those who helped shaped the culture around her begin to spiral out of control and into the arms of fate.
Castles Made of Sand is a novel about youth, hopes, and dreams; a glimpse into a world where anything is possible but nothing seems real. A chronicle of forty-five years of one life and the coming of age of a generation, it demonstrates the passion that changed the world and the pitfalls that brought the vision of a decade to its knees. It is the ride of a life time so…is everybody in?
If it sounds like something you could see yourself reading, by all means, check it out. And remember that spring promotion. :)