My Idea Of Heaven

Lately I’ve been thinking about the way we used to listen to music, you know, back “in the day.”   Think about it…the smell of the plastic disc, the creak of a record player lid being lifted, the crinkly feel of the paper holder as you slid a record from it.   You’d put a 33 or a 45 disc on the player, pick up the arm, lean over and locate the “sweet spot”, that tiny unlined area circling the disc.  You’d carefully set the stylus there and it would glide to the beginning of the song …, there would be the hint of a scratching sound coming through the speakers and that moment of anticipation as you waited for the music to begin.  At the end of the song, the needle sort of bumped repeatedly making a “shh shh shh” noise through the speakers until someone remembered to go and put another record on.

I wish we still listened to music the same way, instead of having some mini sized device plugged into our heads via ear buds, or the device plugged into fancy speakers capable of emitting sounds with such clarity it’s as if we’re listening to the artist in our living rooms.  All that’s great, and I’m all about developing technology, but for me, in some instances, I like the simpler way of life.

I guess that’s why even though I own an e-reader, I do not have the desire to upgrade.  I’m not even buying books for it any more, instead, I’m back to buying REAL books.  I’ve had the “been there, done that, bought the shirt” experience with my little e-reader, and I’m just not into the whole e-reader mania.  For me, it’s back to books with beautiful covers and jackets, paper pages and ink.  Books that I love to open up and run my fingers down the pages looking for favorite sentences or paragraphs, as well as the feeling of turning pages.  I’m even buying the books I have on the e-reader if I don’t have an actual book copy.

I like to keep all of my books nearby, like close family members.  They’re stacked on my desk in my office, on bookshelves throughout the house and there are always some on my night stand.  All are displayed so I can individually see their titles.

I don’t want a slick screen, the ability to slide my finger over some flat, electronic rendition of a classic, nor do I care for all the other widgets and gizmos that come along with these devices.  I guess I’m sort of stuck in between technology preferences.   I’ve tried out the e-reader experience and I’ve decided to take a step back, to stick with what I know and love.  It’s not to say I wouldn’t invest in a new computer to use for writing but, for reading, I’ll stick to the way of doing it I like best.  And for me, there’s something about a book in my hand.., something about walking around a bookstore, and picking one up, opening it  randomly, flipping it over, just looking…you know?  Heaven.  That’s my idea of heaven…



Haha – now if only an editor at a publishing house could get hooked in by the first sentence of my book… I was reading that crap in Poets & Writers last night…about the “Critical Links” Betsy wrote about and I have to say, all it did was depress me.


    It is a good first sentence. In a sly way, it violates the first of Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing: Never begin with the weather. However, isn’t that sentence just like the lazy warm south. I saw Julia Oliver’s picture on the back flap for the first time in a couple of years. This is a younger picture. She has grown a bit matronly with time. Doesn’t matter, the woman who wrote “Buttermilk Sky” was absolutely hot. Until proven otherwise, I believe she still is. And brave! She writes this book for all the world to see. It is not like “50 Shades” which I have not read, but for me some of the pages of this book drip with sex. She certainly exposes herself. I would like to write literary. Why won’t the muse saddle me with some story I would have to tell, some work that would lay me open? Instead I write genre fiction, which I love, but it is all about being someone else. No sweat. I also picked up “Bastard out of Carolina.” I will lay down with that baby on Sunday.


      Funny how a good book can circumvent rules…speaking of FIFTY SHADES – I swore I wasn’t going to read that – not get caught up in the hype but my curiosity won out…I bought it to see HOW she wrote – her style etc. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve browsed through, and I was happy to see it was as I’d heard – mediocre writing, but hey, they say the same about Nicholas Sparks and Dan Brown – it’s all about the story. Maybe there’s hope for me yet…

      My copy of Buttermilk Sky is a paperback – no picture of Ms. Oliver. It does take someone brave to write openly and without fear. That’s what I love about Dorothy Allison – although she got a little bit tooooo open IMHO with her later books. (TRASH and TWO OR THREE THINGS I KNOW) In those, she was revealing herself, her sexuality, her preferences, blah blah blah. I don’t care she’s a lesbian, I just wanted to read another good book like Bastard. Still, despite that, she writes in such a way that pulls you in and makes you envious – how does she do that? Let me know what you think of her book…tell me if you agree about her gritty writing, the clarity. As one critic said – “Allison can make an ordinary moment transcend with her sensuous mix of kitchen sink realism and down home drawl…”

      I believe my editor considered my first book as literary…I’m not sure what she’ll say about the second. I’ve got some historic facts in it, but I’m hoping it leans towards literary. I don’t know…she might say, commercial fiction. As to your muse…I just read recently that everything we know, we learned (no, not in kindergarten – haha) by the time we are fifteen – and they meant about ourselves, our psyche, emotions, etc. You should look there, look at your childhood. That’s how I wrote my first book, I thought of how I felt at certain times when certain things happened to me and I came up with the story…


You hooked me with that Buttermilk Sky first sentence shit. Being old as dirt, I can’t remember it. After you posted that, I decided to grab my copy. Couldn’t find it in the stacks. So I am off to the library today, I will read theirs until my new one arrives. It is time I read it again anyway. It will be good even though, for the most part, I will know what is coming.


I wish you luck in NVL…I know I’d be doing the same thing – going to conferences (despite my comment on Betsy’s blog) because that IS where you can make the contacts and have the best chance other than querying and crossing your fingers. I suggested Bastard Out Of Carolina because it’s a story set in the south, not really because of location for any reason. I just figured if you liked “Goodbye to the Buttermilk Sky” you might like to read it. It’s not the same storyline at all – but Bastard is one of my fave books and if I could wave a magic wand and write like somebody, I’d want it to be Dorothy Allison. She writes with such grit and clarity… her sentences (to me) place you right in a chair on the screen porch where she may be setting up a scene.


Hey there, yeah, I understand that…

Here’s the synopsis used on the submission package: In 1969 Dixie Dupree is eleven years old and living in the Deep South of rural Alabama. Her mother, Evie, who is originally from New Hampshire, yearns to return to the Northeast, and takes out her frustration on Dixie in the form of violent abuse. And Dixie learns to lie and pretend she has fallen or suffered an accident rather than betray her mother and expose the beatings. Despite her mother’s cruelty, Dixie still desires a better relationship, even though her mother remains secretive and elusive about her wish to leave Alabama. But then, a far worse kind of abuse arrives in the form of Evie’s brother, Dixie’s Uncle Ray, and Dixie feels certain that because she has always lied in the past, no one will believe her if she tries to seek help.

Btw – I read the first sentence in “Goodbye To The Buttermilk Sky”…all I can say is OMG. I had to stop reading just so I could savor that one sentence. I know I’m going to LOVE this book. Have you read “Bastard Out Of Carolina?” You should…

What do you like to write about? Is there somewhere I can read your short stories?


    I write mysteries/thrillers. At least they are meant to be thrilling. My first short story was in Nuvein Literary, an online mag. The mag still exist. I was published when Ms. Ahn was editor. A gentleman took over and wiped the slate clean. So my story is gone. My second is in “Christmas is a Season! 2009”. It is still available on Amazon. I am searching for an agent to rep my 4th novel. The other three are unpublished so i have banished them to the darkest damn corner of my computer. Killer Nashville is a conference next month where I will be seeking that agent. Maybe I’ll get lucky. I don’t know why you would suggest “Bastard out of Carolina”. I haven’t spent that much time there. Your book sounds interesting. I can understand why you have an agent.


I envy you, with your agent and all. I have had two short stories published but I have no agent. Next month I am going to Killer Nashville. I hope to find one of the assholes there. What is your book about?


Thanks! When I first started writing the post I had the thought, “what if books become obsolete…like records did?” Then I realized that was crazy – records had a very short lifetime…compared to books which have already been around for thousands of years. Still, there was all that hype about books going away because of e-readers…but I think most realize now that won’t happen, at least not any time soon. There has been a shift without a doubt in the number of real books bought because of e-readers, but it’s my opinion regardless, there will always be people like us who prefer the real deal…

What I have is the Sony e-reader…and I still like it for when we travel if I want to pack light and don’t want to lug a bunch of books…

My vote is to turn the spare room into a library…:>)


That’s a great analogy, tying music and books. One day we willl probably attend a concert of Beethoven’s piano sonatas and they will roll out a casio electric keyboard. I’m just not ready for that day. I have a Nook and I use it a lot but I still love books. My wife wants to turn one of our spare bedrooms into a library lol.


%d bloggers like this: