Friday, December 31, 2021

Yes, Authors Need Those Reviews... So Write Them!

 

     The other day a renowned poet whom I know ( I am not a name-dropper ) posted that authors need those 5-Star reviews. Actually, poets/writers, authors, or whatever one calls us, need any honest reviews. 

     Why? Platforms like Amazon, Goodreads, and the rest attach much importance to them. An author's ranks can be determined by them. 

     If we find a great restaurant, see a fantastic movie, or hear an awesome song, we will not hesitate to tell people about it. But when we read a good book in any genre, well, that is another thing.

     Here are some of the reasons I have heard about why people even good friends, some of whom I care about deeply, have given for not reviewing one of my books.

     I'm not qualified.

     I do not have the time.

     I like to savor a few of your poems at a time.

     Oh, I will try to do it.

    You get the idea. first of all, you do not have to be a literature professor to review. Your opinion is as good as theirs. If you liked it, say why. It takes only a few minutes to log on, give the 5 stars or whatever, and say that you liked the book. Maybe even mention a poem or something specific. We all spend too much time playing a game or surfing the web, so we can write a review.

     Another thing or two. About these "Looking for Reviews" posts one sees. Sometimes people simply want a free e-copy of a book. That has happened to me. I generally try to get something reviewed quickly. Mostly I review poetry books or chapbooks. They do not take a lot of time to read, and so I usually can have something posted within a week at the most. So I do my part, and then I start hearing about all kinds of excuses why the other person is "too busy." Lately, I have taken to saying that it's all right, but if that person EVER asks anything of me again.....

     One last thing. IT is important not only to post in one place but in several. 

     Let's be honest; none of us is going to become wildly famous, win Nobels or Pulitzers and the like. But we all listen to our muses and render some of the beauty we sense in order to give pleasure and make the world better. All we ask is that people be willing to support what we do. 

     Now, is that too hard a thing to do?

https://www.amazon.com/Arthur-Turfa/e/B00YJ9LNOA%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

https://www.blurb.com/b/10799783-the-botleys-of-beaumont-county

https://www.blurb.com/b/10335105-all-in-the-family-2nd-edition


    



Saturday, December 18, 2021

Thinking about a Past Advent/Christmas


      In December 2004 I was in the middle of my deployment to Würzburg, Germany. Better Soldiers were in Iraq or Afghanistan; I was in a place that was my second home: Germany. Not that the Army knew I spoke German and had been there often before. I was the chaplain with a hospital unit, and we were backfill for a unit that had gone to Iraq.

     We had the choice to spend one of these three holidays at home: Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year's. Since my chapel worshipping community needed an ordained presider at the altar, I chose Thanksgiving. My family could not come for Christmas due to the medical needs of a family member. That meant I was going to be without them. A family from my chapel invited me for Christmas Dinner, so I was not alone.

     In the time leading up to Christmas, I did some typical German things in addition to my military duties. I attended a performance of Bach;'s Christmas Oratorio and went several times to the Adventsmarkt. 

     Last year I had the wonderful experience of participating in Tupelo Press' 30/30 Project for December. Along with several other poets, I agreed to write a poem for each day of the month. Here is one about that time:

     Adventsmarkt in Würzburg

 

Fifteen Decembers ago

separated from those I love,

facing a hollow Advent/Christmas,

 

comfort sought I near the sea

of bright lights surrounding

the Marienkappele, aswirl

 

in color, aromas of baked goods

and sausages. By Glühwein warmed,

 enraptured by familiar music sung and played,

 

 on a cold Franconian night thinking of years

 gone by and about my new home. Solace I

 found, solace tendered to others now possible.

 

 Only the lights of ambulances and police

cars illuminate the silent city in this somber

 December. Memories console, hope inspires.

   Arthur Turfa, ©2020


     Wherever you are now, and whatever you celebrate, I wish you joy, peace, and companionship!

Monday, December 13, 2021

Wondrium's "King Arthur" and Thoughts on Literart Criticism

 

     First of all, Wondrium (formerly Great Courses) is a fantastic way to learn or brush up on something, and they give senior rates. I started with them during the pandemic.

 https://www.wondrium.com/?utm_source=Branded_Search&utm_medium=Google&utm_campaign=1004587&mkwid=s_dc&pcrid=526184903219&pkw=wondrium&pmt=e&c3apimn=526184903219&intent=&gclid=CjwKCAiA-9uNBhBTEiwAN3IlNDwTKaRTD3Lmrw6K9RR6EkbfGzmkWr0ZYU1HNQw4EpuF10fXBJRF3hoCvukQAvD_BwE

    Currently, I am taking "King Arthur", offered by Purdue's Dr. Dorsey Armstrong. In 2001 I took a course on him at Drew offered by Dr. Jeffrey Fisk, starting my doctoral program off well.

     When I was in graduate school at Berkeley and Irvine (UC system, mid-1970s, in German) I often ran afoul of the dictum to consider the text and the text only, which included the reader's interaction with guess what? Yes, the text! If I asked whether the text actually described a real-life, historical situation, I was told Bleiben Sie beim Text!/ Stay with the text!

     Not that I could do anything about it, at least in the seminar. Then as now, I believe that a text has some grounding or relevance to the world around it, both in the times in which it was produced and when one reads it. Perhaps my disenchantment with those studies stemmed from those times; more likely they were the catalyst for my doing other things.

    When Dr. Armstrong talks about how an author's contemporary times influence a text, I was excited. Vindication after all these years! The example I will give is her talking about how Sir Thomas Malory wrote his 15th-century classic Le Morte d'Arthur to offer an example of a nobler age than his contemporary times. Imprisoned during the War of the Roses, Malory lived during the end of the Middle Ages and saw negative changes to the old order. King Arthur and Camelot presented an ideal that could reinvigorate his contemporary times. Not a bad idea, actually, as other legends or actual historical times could do the same since.

    Brava, Dr. Armstrong! I conclude by giving a link to the title poem to my poetry book, Accents (now on Amazon KDP). At the 2:30 mark I talk about those days in graduate school

https://soundcloud.com/arthur-turfa-1/accents

To most of my other books.....

https://www.amazon.com/Arthur-Turfa/e/B00YJ9LNOA%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

And to my novel!  

https://www.blurb.com/b/10799783-the-botleys-of-beaumont-county



 

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Graeme Edge RIP- Moody Blues Drummer and Poet

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/nov/14/graeme-edge-obituary 


     This is late, but here it is all the same. While he wrote poetry for the band, it was usually spoken by members other than himself. There are links available on YouTube; generally, I try not to post too many links at a time. 

     Graeme added to the already-considerable presence of the band with his works. Maybe some parents and others of their generation saw something more here than just a bunch of long-haired freaks. 

     I think he would like nothing more than for you to read some poetry. Your choice!



https://www.amazon.com/Written-Works-Graeme-Edge/dp/147518946X

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Remembering John Lennon, 41 Years On


 

     When the Beatles became famous, many of us in the 5th grade grew our hair longer. Only we had to push it back onto our heads at home, and then comb it down n Beatle Bangs at school, before reversing the process don't he bus ride home.

     Of all the Beatles, I am most like John. Not cute like Paul (whom we saw in concert in 2019), a musician like George, or constantly quirky, talented, and upbeat like Ringo (whom we will see in 2022, postponed from 2020). John and I share a love of language, a sense of wordplay, and I strongly suspect that we both used humor to mask some inner turmoil and dissatisfaction with things at times. 

    On the verge of returning to the public arena, John was senselessly murdered in a city he regarded as both home and safe. As I write this the US is gripped again in a plague of gun violence at school. Two schools in my former district near Columbia, SC, have had gun incidents with thankfully no violence or death, but the fear is of course there.

     Another reason I wished John was still here is that I would like to have seen him evolve. Not musically, but that would have been nice. Yes, of course for a Beatles reunion! What I mean though is his thinking on various subjects. Even back in the day, I thought he was incredibly naive about the peace thing and that "Imagine" has some lines with which I totally disagree ("Imagine there's no heaven" for one).  

    That being said the world is a poorer place for not having him here. The music I grew up with, and by and large still listen to (Yes, I do listen to newer music!) remains the best and partially because the people who made and/or performed it had more to them than musical./vocal ability. 

     There are a few songs about John (from George and Elton John), but here are some from Paul. The last one is especially poignant.

https://faroutmagazine.co.uk/songs-paul-mccartney-wrote-about-john-lennon/

     


Friday, December 3, 2021

Chancellor Angela Merkel's Grand Tattoo


   No, it is not what you think it is! It is a military ceremony signifying the end of the day or in her case, the conclusion of her term in office. The term comes from the Dutch phrase for turning off the tap; drummers beat the command to innkeepers to turn off the taps on the beer kegs so soldiers could return to the barracks for the night.


   Angela Merkel's time in office is merely days shorter than that of Helmut Kohl's. She is unassuming, modest, but steady and earned respect and admiration from other political parties. 

   I hope non-German viewers do not shudder at the military nature of this. There really is no need to do so;  I will leave it at that.

   Her choice of music is interesting. Nina Hagen is a former East German singer whose song subtly criticized the drabness of that society. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ko1IBe4qh1A

  Hilfegard Knef was a famous chanteuse and actor.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_K_w1Yb5Yk

    Merkel's father was a Lutheran pastor who moved to a parish in the East before the Berlin Wall and the inner-German border were constructed. "Grosser Gott, wir loben dich (Holy God, we Bless Your Name)is a paraphrase of the "Te Deum", the 4th Century hymn of thanksgiving.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yLZnM2KFkY

Finally, the ceremony itself...


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yi0MwOAhEtE 

Monday, November 29, 2021

More about Authors for Literacy on December 11 in Lexington, SC

 Have you ever dreamed of

writing & publishing a book?
8 authors will show you how

Are you among the 81% of us in Lexington County who feel they have a book in them — and should write it?
Research indicates that’s more than 240,000 people who aspire to become published authors. 
Local authors will show you how they did it – and you can, too – at the Lexington Library Saturday, Dec. 11.
The authors are Tom Poland, Halina Schafer, Ralph Jarrells, Jay Schabacker, Alysia Kehoe and Cat Fitzgerald.
They will speak at the Authors for Literacy annual book signing and author workshop 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11.
18 local authors will autograph their books for those on your Christmas gift list.
They make memorable and unique Christmas gifts.
The event raises money for Turning Pages adult literacy tutoring to teach illiterate people to read, write and develop other career-enhancing




skills.
The event will be at the Lexington County Library, 5440 Augusta Road (US 1), just east of downtown Lexington.
Authors for Literacy, the Lexington County Library, the Lexington County Chronicle, The Fish Wrapper and Sign It Quick team up each year to raise money for Turning Pages adult literacy tutoring each year.
Authors include Pat McNeely, Tom Poland, Ralph Jarrells, Bonnie Stanard, Kathy Widener, Linda Maguire, Scott Vaughan, John Starino, Arthur Turfa, Johnny Bloodworth, Sharon Durgin, Claudette Holliday, Alysia Kehoe, Cat Fitzgerald, Halina Schafer, Charlie Farrell, Don Gordon and Jerry Bellune will personally autograph their books for those on your Christmas gift list. 
The books priced at $10 and $20 make unique Christmas gifts.
For details, contact Jerry Bellune at 803-331-6695 or JerryBellune@yahoo.com

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Faith Paulsen's "Cyanometer" on Finishing Line Press

 Faith Paulsen’s third chapbook touches on several topics, but the one that speaks to me most is family. The poet does not emphasize family; there are other themes. For whatever reason, that is what resonsates the most with me at this time.

   The title comes from an 18th Century scientific device for measuring the blueness of the sky. Regardless of the actual shade of blue, it is still the sky. Paulsen looks at the nuances with repect to people, places, and objects.

   A good example is found in “Mother in Law”. She wanted to be known to the poet as “Mom”, but a variety of other names appears by which the older woman was known


: “Umbrella in Sunshine” “Three Phone Calls a Day”. There are nanes given to the poet herself. Over time the poet finds herself sliding into the role of an older woman in the family herself. There is neither shock nor horror here, but rather the awareness. Readers can do what they wish with it.

    The poem describing the cyanometer, while not exactly a title poem , nevertheless establishes the framework for Paulsen. After naming different shades of blues, mentioning a disparate group of people, she states  her desire to “make my body an instrument to measure the blues”. (The poem is entitled “In 1789, a scientist invented.”.

     “My Brother and I Shared a Bathroom” has a tone that is gentle and reflective as years of memories are compressed into 31 lines, as the siblings “,,,rattled like commuter trains/ from dollhouses to Legos and bac.”

     Other poems deal with a father’s piano, a son teaching overseas, and a mother continuing the theme of family. Never maudlin, the poet looks at the nuances in her perceptions of long ago and the present,

     The remaining poems provide opportunities for nuances. Senior citizens discuss a John Ashberry poem, the Marianas Trench receives a letter,  and other people are mentioned.  “Cyanometer” is a book of poems that will delight readers as they read and reread the variety of poems found in it.

Arthur Turfa, “Saluda Reflections,” Finishing Line Press 2017. “The Botleys of Beaumount County”, Blurb,

Friday, November 26, 2021

Why Get Caught Up in Black Friday Mayhem? Shop here for Some Good Books!

      Crowds of people trying to find the "perfect gift" and being frustrated by delays, empty shelves, and some buying into the conspiracy theory du jour!

     When we lived in Northeastern PA, my family would see a show on Broadway, go to Ellis Island, or visit Philly and avoid hordes of shoppers.

     Here are some links to my poetry books and my literary fiction novel!  Thanks!

https://www.amazon.com/Arthur-Turfa/e/B00YJ9LNOA%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

https://www.blurb.com/b/10799783-the-botleys-of-beaumont-county

      And have fun avoiding the crowds!









Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Hearing Good Things about "The Botleys of Beaumont County"

https://www.blurb.com/b/10799783-the-botleys-of-beaumont-county 


     It is on Blurb, which sadly does not have space for readers' comments. But feel free to comment wherever you are on social media!  Literary fiction novel!

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Sunday, November 14, 2021

Authors for Literacy Dec. 11, 1-3 pm Lexington SC Public Library

 Authors raise money for literacy tutoring

I will be with a group of local poets/writers on Saturday, December 11, from 1-3 p.m. at the Lexington Public Library Main Branch, 5440 Augusta Rd (US 1),)

https://lexcolibrary.com

All books are either $10 or $20, with some profits going to charity.



 





Saturday, November 6, 2021

Some Guy Fawkes Allusion in Eliot's "The Hollow Men"

https://allpoetry.com/the-hollow-men 


A day late but we were busy. A visit to some county offices for tax rates on our new house, and then one last visit to the old house before we close on selling it next week.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Give Me Your Inights to Help with an Upcoming Event, Please

 Preparing for an upcoming panel: Thoughts on what this topic means to you...."Poets: Bridging from words to Deeper Understanding". Thanks! Poets and poetry readers respond, please!




Friday, October 29, 2021

A Day Trip to Augusta, But Not to The Book Tavern This Time!

 

     My wife and I will take a road trip, now that we are both retired. Our intention was to go to North Carolina to an orchard farm and take in the sights. But it is rainy and cold there. So we will head in the other direction to Augusta, Georgia, just across the border. There is a Mall there, and we will have lunch at the Boll Weevil.

     If you find yourself in Augusta, The Botleys of Beaumont County can be found at The Book Tavern,

https://booktavern.com/, 936 Broad Street. They have all sorts of wonderful books!


    For those who cannot make it there, order from Blurb:  

https://www.blurb.com/b/10799783-the-botleys-of-beaumont-county

   And for my poetry books ( All in the Family ) is on Blurb,


   

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

My Wife Found the Second Box of Botleys!

     Three weeks ago tomorrow we moved to the new house. My wife found the second box of Botleys, so I am prepared for an event in two weeks. (more later!)

     And if anyone in North America wants a signed copy, please contact me here or at aturfa@aol.com to fund ut how that can happen.

     Here is the Blurb link:   https://www.blurb.com/my/dashboard  All un the Family


is also on Blurb.

     Amazon Link: 

 https://www.amazon.com/Arthur-Turfa/e/B00YJ9LNOA/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

 

Friday, October 22, 2021

Oh, Those Ridiculous Polls...Who Cares?

https://www.grunge.com/639018/this-was-the-worst-singer-in-crosby-stills-and-nash-according-to-fans/ 

     At first, I could not believe what I was seeing. But it was there. A Grunge poll asked who the worst singer in Crosby, Stills, & Nash.

     That's right. Three singers whose harmonies remain among the best ever recorded, and roughly 600 readers responded. The site does not even give an exact number.  Hmmm. I wonder how much of the music they actually listened to. I have heard most of what they have recorded and even saw them during their acoustic tour in 1991.

     How many people will read this "Story" and really believe that Stephen Stills is the alleged worst singer?

     Why I am surprised? Look at how many people refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Some of the reasons would be laughable if it were not a matter of life and death. And not for them, but for me as well. 

      Enjoy the music, and let Grunge and those almost 600 people fade away,.....


     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFrPnI1aDy0

    

     

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Leonard Cohen and Sacred Texts

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/oct/17/how-leonard-cohen-mined-sacred-texts-for-lyrics-to-his-songs 

     Regardless of what thinks about religion (Full disclosure: I am a Lutheran pastor of 40+ years service), many sacred texts contain excellently written passages. For example, thin of the Psalms from the Hebrew Bible or Christian Old Testament, the Prologue to St. John's Gospel, to name but two.

     Cohen was an observant Jew who appreciated the beauty in texts from other faiths These inspired his own writing., and also his own life of faith.

     Every so often I would have a student who wrote in one or more genres. When I asked whom they read, often I would get a response like "Nobody. I just write." I would talk about whom I read and who inspired me. Usually, I could see the student tuning me out. Then I would smile.and hope they would eventually get my point.

     So listen again to Leonard Cohen, and see if you find more allusions to sacred texts. I know that I will.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

I Found One Box of Botleys!


    We are all moved out of our old house. And we are finding the boxes we need to get our new house in order. Each day is better than the day before. The move was only 28 miles/45 kilometers from where we lived before. while not quite our shortest move, it is close.

     I did find one of my two Botley boxes. Next month I have some events, so the timing is good. 

     Want a copy?      https://www.blurb.com/b/10799783-the-botleys-of-beaumont-county

     Or a poetry book of mine?  

  https://www.amazon.com/Arthur-Turfa/e/B00YJ9LNOA%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share


https://www.blurb.com/b/10335105-all-in-the-family-2nd-edition

  

Sunday, October 10, 2021

D +4...in Our New Home!

     We moved!  The old house is almost emptied, and our garage and other places in the new home have a lot of boxes. But we are able to function, which is good.

     Now we are in a subdivision again, for the first time in 12 years. Fortunately, the developers left a lot of trees, so not only does it look nice, but we hear all sorts of birds. Magda the Dog has a larger fenced-in backyard, and Merlin the Cat had a larger house to explore. 

    The den is a little smaller. That's where most of my writing occurs. But it is not the size of the room that matters. 

   In the meantime, here are some links to my books:


https://www.blurb.com/b/10799783-the-botleys-of-beaumont-county

https://www.blurb.com/b/10335105-all-in-the-family-2nd-edition

https://www.amazon.com/Arthur-Turfa/e/B00YJ9LNOA%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share




     

Monday, October 4, 2021

D-2...Not a Military Operlation..It's a Move!

     On Wednesday my wife and I will move from the place we have lived the longest in our marriage: a month shy of 12 years.

     We have enjoyed the two wooded acres in a quiet subdivision. I have walked the roads and woods with two dogs in that time, and took care of two cats,. Our current dog and cat will be boarded for about two days at the vet's swanky kennel while we move. 

     I have endured long commutes to schools and congregations but also written all of my books here. My wife has served a two=point Lutheran parish ably and honorably. Her retirement causes us to leave the area. 

      We are only going to the next county, 28 miles//c. 45 km. It is a larger house on a quarter of the land and is in a quiet, pleasant subdivision. Not only will we be closer to shopping, doctors, and the like, but more importantly close to our son and his family, especially our grandson.

     Until we get the Internet up and running, I will sign off. It might be a few days, but I cannot wait to get to D + 2!

     Back view of the house!




Wednesday, September 29, 2021

More about the time in "The Botleys of Beaumont County" on Blurb

 

     Many people, myself included, thought that the 2008 election (and 2012 re-election) of Barack Obama was a turning point in US history. But instead of putting the past behind us. the Tea Party and other groups dug in their heels.

     Joe Ed Crudup typifies lower-class populism. I make allusions to FOX News and national right-wing radio hosts that feed Joe Ed's fury. However, I do not follow the line, and I avoid anything about the Election of 2016 and beyond, although the short epilogue talks about the Botleys and Sinclairs/Cavendishs.

     The main reason I avoided 2016 is that it is to me depressing, and we are still mired in all that it spewed out. Former President Trump still believes that his re-election was stolen, and a sizeable part of the GOP follows along with the myth. 

     I preferred to look back in time a little bit and to put the thrust of the novel in a confined time frame. It takes place in a right-month period for the most part.

     Also, the novel is about a family, not a nation. It's about the characters, and how they react to all sorts of pressures and challenges. As a perceptive reader pointed out to me recently, there are no villains and no heroes. I will explore that in a future post.


https://www.blurb.com/b/10799783-the-botleys-of-beaumont-county


Friday, September 24, 2021

Election Day 2008 and "Thje Botleys of Beaumont County" onj Blurb

 

     The novel begins on Election Day 2008. Slerd realizes he needs to hurry to take his mother Eustacia to vote. It takes them a while, and Eustacia is not shy about letting her opinions be known. 

     Like many white Southerners, she began life as a Democrat. But in 1968 (the year Slerd was born), most of them felt that the Republicans spoke to their needs, so the Solid South shifted to Richard Nixon and never looked back.

     Eustacia will vote for John McCain although she considers Sarah Palin to be trash. Palin represents a shift in the GOP from the Establishment to a more populist voice. Barack Obama disgusts her, not in a racist way, but she is not interested in what he has to offer. 

     Joe Ed Crudup is a local right-wing radio host who goes off on a tirade about Obama. All of Joe Ed's demons line up against him. In a blistering broadcast, Joe Ed claims that Obama is a Muslim terrorist who will abolish Christianity. 

     Later that night Slerd watches the election returns with his family. He offers some insight and commentary. The next morning, Jessica Cavendish, Slerd's lover, finds an unsettling reaction to the election at Southwood High.

     When Obama was elected many, including myself, thought that the United States had put some of the past racial prejudice into the past. I thought the Tea Party would sputter out and go back to the fringes.

     My wife and I waited almost three hours to vote in November 2008. The Botleys' wait is not atypical. There was a massive turnout, especially among African Americans.


     Sadly, I was wrong. After Mitt Romney failed to unseat President Obama, the Tea Party along with others took over the GOP, and Donald Trump rode and manipulated that wave to the White House. Whatever unity Obama forges has been shattered almost beyond repair.

     I have faith in America, and we will weather the storm. It is not over by any means, but regardless of what happened, Election Day 2008 remains pivotal. 

Monday, September 20, 2021

On Blurb: "The Botleys of Beaumont County"

https://www.blurb.com/b/10799783-the-botleys-of-beaumont-county 


    My first novel. It's literary fiction and tells how a once-prominent Southeastern family tries to maintain its status in the early 21st century.

     The action begins on Election Day 2008. Over the next few posts, I will talk about why I chose that particular date. For now, I will say that it set the tone for the United States being what it is today, which is different from what we expected.

    Interested? Stay tuned!   And pick up a copy! The pdf link is instantaneous and inexpensive!


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Updated Interview with Poet/Songwriter/Musician Aurore Sibley...upcoming Poetry Book on Finishing Line Press

 Update:  You can pre-order her coming poetry book All These Little Resonstrances from Finishing Line Press until September 24. I recommend that you do, and also that you tell someone who loves good poetry.

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/all-these-little-remonstrations-by-aurore-sibley/

1 You are the newest a long line of people I know who excel in several artistic expressions. In your case, singer/songwriter, poet/writer. Which came first, music or writing?

    This is a great question. Music definitely came first, as my mother used to sing to me regularly and my dad was a music enthusiast, so I was exposed to and listened to a lot of music from a young age, and I began playing the piano at age seven. My parents read to me every night as well and I had an interest in writing from a fairly young age. I remember working on my first “novel” when I was in fifth grade.

 

2. I read your blog post about your father. Tell a little bit about his influence on you here, please.

     My father was a journalist and spent much of his career focusing on the arts and entertainment, reviewing concerts, and interviewing musicians. He had a great and eclectic taste in music and I grew up listening to a wide variety of jazz, folk and rock because of him.

 

3. Your music is very interesting and quite enjoyable. I like the way you transition from one musical genre to another and maintain the quality. How did you accomplish that?

     Thank you! I play a number of instruments and because I listen to and appreciate so many types of music, I’ve gone through stages where I focused on a particular genre as a musician. Growing up I played western classical music, in my early twenties I mostly played jazz and blues, then got deeply into bluegrass and Americana and also sang with a Balkan choir in my thirties, so my interests have been all over the place. That has allowed me to jump around from instrument to instrument and genre to genre, sometimes blending them a bit into whatever sound I’m going for.

 

4. In songwriting, which comes first: text or music?

     Sometimes I just hear a melody and go from there, but usually, the way I know that a song is a song and not a poem is when a line comes to me with a melody. I write poetry as well but when I hear a line with a melody, then I know it’s meant to be a song. So, they come at the same time if I’m songwriting, actually.

 

    5. Who are some of your musical and literary influences?

 

     That’s a big question because it’s quite varied. Some of my biggest literary influences include Dr. Oliver Sacks and Robert K. Massie. I love biographies and read more non-fiction than fiction these days. But I would also say writers like Amy Tan and Barbara Kingsolver have influenced me as I love a good family saga or character study.

     When it comes to music, it could be a really long list, so I’ll just say: Beethoven, Bill Evans, Mose Allison, Nina Simone, Gillian Welch, Neil Young, Lucinda Williams, Patti Smith, and Dinah Washington as a start.

     6 You have a poetry book coming out with Finishing Line Press. There must be a lot you want to say about it.

      I find it really interesting that my poetry has been accepted for publication more than anything else because I think of myself as a writer and songwriter, but not a poet. The poems are most often deeply personal and so it feels strange to put them out into the world, as opposed to fiction, for example. This coming chapbook features a lot of poems about my dad and my daughter, as well as my experience over the past six years of being a single mother.

 

     7. Your “novel in the wings”: what can you share with us about it?

     Ah, my ‘novel in the wings’ is a mystery novel. I had been working on a manuscript for years that I was stuck with, and I thought, I should write something fun and light and something that would move along and that I knew I could finish and do well, so I switched gears and spent a few years focused on that, and actually finished it, which feels great! Now I just need a publisher. Meanwhile, I’ve gone back to the novel on the back burner and still don’t quite know where to go with it, but it’s starting to take shape.

 

    8 . For me the concept of “place” is very important in my writing, especially in poetry.  California is one of those places for me; you have lived there much longer than I have. How does “place” enter your creative work?

     Place plays a really important role in my writing as well. My mystery novel is set in Santa Cruz, where I live, and many of my poems are ocean-centered. But all of my other fiction takes place in the Midwest where I spent my childhood. I love writing about old farmhouses in Wisconsin, for example.

 

9. We are both educators. What do you teach, where did you study, and how does it complement your music and writing?

 

     I was trained as a Waldorf grades teacher, (in New Zealand initially, where I lived for a couple of years), and focused on remedial education for children struggling with reading, writing, and math. I also spent many years teaching piano prior to that, and these days I’m teaching from home and doing all three of those things online. It’s not ideal, but it’s been interesting and doable from home while we’re all sheltered in place.

   

10. Is there anything else that you want to add? How can people contact /follow you? Thanks!

    Thank you so much! The chapbook through Finishing Line Press  will be out sometime in 2021. I have a website where links to my writing and music can be found, which is http://www.auroresibley.com, and I can be followed on Twitter   @auroresibley7



Monday, September 13, 2021

What To Do With Your Copy of "The Botleys of Beaumont County"

 

     One person admits he is not a literary type, but thoroughly enjoyed the book, especially its humor. He was in education and related to the parts at Southwood High. He will pass the book on to his wife.

     Someone else selected it to be the Book of the Month that she and her husband select. They take turns reading it, speaking as the characters would in terms of accents!

     Others are adding to their TBR (To Be Read) lists/bookshelves.

     And you? Let me know. The book is available at The Book Tavern in downtown Augusta, GA!

https://www.facebook.com/thebooktavern

   Or order from Blurb:   https://www.blurb.com/b/10799783-the-botleys-of-beaumont-county

 $11.93 for the book! I don't know why they're showing Euros! Must be a glitch on Blurb!


Friday, September 10, 2021

Johnnie Walker Red- The Botley Male Beverage of Choice

 

     It's what Slerd and Dexter drink the most, either when together or apart. There are more exclusive brands and the whole single malt thing, but this is what Botley males drink.

     Until I was in my mid-20s, I thought Scotch was only for the country club, wealthy Republican type of people. At Penn State, I was introduced to beer, and then developed a taste for Vodka, nurturing my Easter European side. Not exactly, since Hungarians do not produce Vodka, but it was close enough I figured.

     During my first year in seminary, I got to know Harriet, a Catholic divorcee who enrolled at the Lutheran seminary in the Master of Divinity (pre-ordination) program. She was not interested in converting; in fact, she was a radical Catholic old enough to be our mother! Her house was open to us, and she had a good liquor cabinet, with of course Scotch. Some of my classmates were into the more expensive brands. I could afford Clan Mac Gregor and left it at that.

     When it came time to write the novel, the Botleys, being wealthy Republican country club types, would only drink Johnnie Walker. Open up whatever you want to and enjoy the novel!


    https://www.blurb.com/b/10799783-the-botleys-of-beaumont-county




Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Joe Ed Crudup from "The Botleys of Beaumount County" on Blurb

https://www.blurb.com/b/10799783-the-botleys-of-beaumont-county 


     Joe Ed is one of the secondary characters, and perhaps the most colorful. His family has lived in Beaumont County for generations. They worked the land, but most likely someone else's, except for what they grew for themselves on their land. 

     Normally these folks are the backbone of the community. However, after a few generations, they get tired of being at the bottom of the social order, at least as far as whites are concerned. The more ambitious join the military or move away. 

     Eventually, this branch of the Crudup family disintegrates. Joe Ed barely passes high school and shows little interest in the paths available to him. His resentment against people like the Botleys grows each day and smolders like a fire within him. 

     Discovering FOX News and a host of right-wing radio commentators, Joe Ed finds a message. When he combines it with his fundamentalistic Christianity, which barely covers his nationalism, things start to happen. Joe Ed becomes a local radio personality and leaves the country church for a storefront church in Marion.

     Barack Obama's election sets Joe Ed on fire. His venomous broadcasts get him taken off the air. Fr. Stallworth starts his new church near his storefront mission. And Joe Ed cannot handle it.

     There are millions of Joe Eds in America today. Not all of them are as vocal, but he represents a large group of people who feel left out in 21st Century America. The country they remember or heard about from their elders


is changing, and not a single one of them likes it. Donald Trump did not create a movement. He merely manipulated it.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Q & A About How To Get My Novel "The Botleys of Beaumont County"

 Q:   Why did you choose Blurb?

  A:  Tring to find a conventional publisher is hard, and during a pandemic, impossible. I wanted to get this out for the public and then move on to other things.

   Q: Can I order it on Amazon, like most of your other books?

    A: Sadly, no. If I sell on Blurb, I cannot sell on Amazon. Putting it on Blurb was easier than putting it on Amazon.   If you go to The Book Tavern 936 Broad St. in Augusta, GA, yes! It is difficult getting into independent bookstores. Some want local authors, and they define local very strictly. A major chain might be interested locally, but the higher-ups are not interested at all. I found that out with my first poetry book.

      Q: I want a signed copy. How can that happen?

       A;  In one of two ways. I can send you a copy, but that depends on me having me on hand (which I usually do) and my getting it to the place where I ship from. That will run close to $20. If you tell me you bought it (a picture of you with the book is nice), I can send you a signed card to p[ut in the book.

       Q: I get all that, but I like free shipping on Amazon. Can you do that?

        A: If I were as big as Amazon, yes! LOL. If you can afford $11.99 for the book, a few dollars more for shipping will not be a burden. All in all it's cheaper than buying lunch with an adult beverage to two thrown in.

        Q: OK, but what do I do if I want to leave a review. t's hard since you can't be on Amazon.

         A: That's right! But you can send it to me, and I can out in here, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. And you can do the same thing. 


 

  


   


Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Whenever We Left, it Would Have Been the Same

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-58403735 


     Unless the USA was willing to stay in Afghanistan for a century and bring back the military draft, President Biden was right to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan. Their government collapsed quickly, which was a surprise. We orchestrated a massive airlift in spite of everything.

    I made the following assertions:

     1. For those who say we should have stayed, let them enlist in the Armed Forces or persuade their younger relatives and friends to do so. Chickenhawks need to refrain from commenting.

     2. Afghanistan was going to be a shitstorm no matter what, regardless of when we pulled out.

     3. Calls to impeach the president are ridiculous.

     4. Some countries are simply never going to be a democracy.

     Finally, I am a Retired Army Reservist with Veteran Status and a chaplain. I have seen too many Soldiers/other GIs who have endured multiple deployments to Afghanistan and/or Iraq, and have sadly seen the consequences of their service. 


Bialys- Frozen, but still Bialys!

    A bialy is not a bagel. Bialys have a bottom and are baked, not boiled then baked, like the better-known bagel.      Enough with the all...