Deborah Kadin from the Wednesday Journal came to the Friendly Coffee Lounge to interview me about Lines-- and the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author award. The online piece can be found here! It's still an amazing ride, and I promise to write a real blog post in the near future! As always, thanks for your support!
I am truly proud of this interview, and I am honored to be included in this respected literary blog. Thanks, Evanston Public Library! And special thanks to Russell Johnson for reaching out, reading the book, and asking some great questions!
In the first part of the book, Jake Mulholland is a college broadcasting student from Pittsburgh. He’s an average guy who comes from a loving family, and like most average guys from loving families, he has hangups—with his father, especially, and with his father’s voice, specifically. Author David W. Berner describes “voice” from the onset of the story, effortlessly placing the reader in an era of 1970s radio. One doesn’t need to have radio background to grasp the intricacies of a station, due to the author’s conversational style and masterful detail. Furthermore, the audience might not even know it desires a connection to this world, but once Berner’s intelligent music references and subtle time-period elements surface, the reader can’t help but get addicted.
Jake is in a relationship with the likable Sarah, but he questions love and all it has to offer. Ridden with guilt from family history as well as the decisions he makes as a college student, Jake accepts his self-inflicted shame and simply lives with the stigma rather than dealing with it. Such an indiscretion can only lead to a downward spiral, which it does in the second half of the book where themes of loss, redemption, and second chances come to view. Berner finally sheds light on Jake in the only way the main character could possibly emerge from the darkness—behind the microphone.
I highly recommend Night Radio, David W. Berner’s first published work of fiction. His knack for weaving musical and literary nuances throughout the story will have any middle-aged reader reaching for an old record album or classic book collection. Berner also uses a stripping motif that readers might take as just one part of the hippie trinity of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll; however, for this reader, it serves as a symbol for ones need to bare the soul, to be exposed in order to face demons and move forward. Through Jake, the author also writes with wisdom, as can be seen in the line, “Maybe we are simply defined by what we are trying to be, not what we are at any given moment—slaves to our own visions and whatever the gods are asking us to discover.”
I am a fan of Berner’s memoirs, but I look forward to more fiction from this award-winning author. You should, too!
Some updates: First, my speech for the Soon To Be Famous Illinois Author Project announcement event has been shared in the Illinois Library Association's Reporter. Don't forget about the Printers Row Lit Fest (6/12, 10am-2pm, Tent A) and the Berwyn Library's July Book Club that will read LINES—! Stay tuned for a couple of online literary interviews, too. What else? I'm writing a musician interview blog for the Friendly Music Community! What a great way to give back to a community that has embraced and supported my writing endeavors! I hope you check out the latest post about Oak Park's, Terry White. It's a true honor to be able to meet these talented artists. If you live in the area, stop by the Friendly Tap for local live music at night, or come visit me in the Friendly Coffee Lounge in the morning because... I'm working on ideas for Book Two! That's right! Livia's story is begging for more, and I've got some outlining and research to start. There's no better place to do that than my "happy place." Between my sons' sports' leagues and camps, driver's ed, and a weeklong youth service project, I hope to schedule a few road trips to libraries along Route 66. I'm not sure how that will pan out, but I'm crossing my fingers that I can pull it off.
Summer is almost here, and I have a feeling it's going to be over before I know it! So much to be grateful for!
I wanted to learn more about podcasts and audiobooks, not just for LINES-- but for my curriculum. I wanted to figure out a way to reach my auditory learners and readers, but being a visual person, all the research so far is making my brain hurt.
I had the idea of talking about the writing process and creating podcasts for the information. These instructional pieces could be applied to my own writing as a personal example of its application. This idea, of course, was intended to be a part of my G-Lines blog; however, podcasts can't upload to my hosting site, so I learned how to turn one into an iMovie in order to upload it to YouTube for an embedding code. But I think the .mov file defeats the purpose of a podcast's RSS feed, which I still can't grasp, (Just rereading that last paragraph makes me rub my temples and squint. Ugh.)
Then came the idea of turning my paperback/ebook into an audiobook. But, everything I'm reading points to hiring professional readers, and that costs money, which I don't have. I have speech background, but I don't think I could do this on my own... hmm.
I don't know where to begin. The thrill of April 14, 2016 has remained in my thoughts, as reminders continue to pass through my daily life, usually through emails—invitations to author fairs and book clubs, requests for appearances and interviews, a press release, a Q&A document. I'm still in amazement that this literary interest is being pointed at ... me! I printed up new "STBF 2016 Winner" stickers for the books that are sold directly through me. I had business cards designed to show my new title. I met with the movers and shakers of the STBF committee and RAILS reps at a social event in the city, and it is there that I learned about the vision and plan to bring this contest to other states and encourage publishing companies to get on board. Someone pinch me!
And did I mention that the RAILS (Reading Across Illinois Library Systems) organization ordered a ton of my books to give out at Book Expo America at McCormick Place last week, and they passed them out as promotional gifts to spread the word about the STBF project? I'm blown away!
So, it's one month later, and summertime is a breath away. I look forward to visiting as many libraries as possible, participating in the Printer's Row Lit Fest, meeting with the Berwyn Library book clubs, and getting back to my table at Friendly Coffee Lounge to start sketching out all the character and plot ideas that are waking me up at night... Yes, Livia is talking to me again, and apparently, the more I learn about the history of the towns down Route 66 (I've got a couple of road trips in mind), my protagonist is guiding me in directions I never knew existed! Stay tuned!
“Where do you find time to do all this?” The question is posed over and over again. Most people say that we make time for things that matter, and although there’s absolute truth is that statement, there’s also the reality factor—24 hours in a day are not enough for everything that matters.
So, what truly matters to me? I notice that there’s a pattern with how my time is spread out between what I call constants and sides. The constants are my sons and my job, but the sides have fluctuated between my health, my home, my social life, and my writing. I’m proud to be a dedicated mom and dedicated teacher, and it’s obvious to the people around me when I become a dedicated something-else. I lost fifty pounds and felt great when I made time for my health; I gained half of that back when I switched sides. I had garage sales and tackled debt and cooked dinner every night when I made time for my home; stuff-stacks cluttered the rooms, payment reminders flooded the answering machine, and the microwave timer beeped throughout the evening when I switched sides. I caught up with lifelong friends, people whose relationships I treasured, when I made time for my social life; I hunkered down on the couch with my laptop or book when I switched sides.
“Where do you find time to do all this?” What people don’t realize is that I don’t find time with all those sides! What helps is that I get focused with one, while I try to simply manage the others. For example, I’m using this spring break to start walking again. Small steps, a half hour each day. I’ve also set up my next doctor’s appointment and am trying to stay away from pasta and bread. Not completely successful, mind you, just trying to manage the disappointment of having gained back so much weight from the last time my health was my side of choice. As far as my home goes, each weekend I’m attempting to do one thing - bills or cleaning or, like this past weekend, the taxes (ugh!). Comcast, of course, pulled a trick on me and delivered a new cable box that needs to be set up. Luckily, I’m still on spring break and hope that I can get to that between grading papers and driving my sons back and forth to activities.
Point 1: When vacation time is coming without the actual vacation destination, whether it’s a day or week or more, set aside a few hours to look at those sides that have been neglected.
I’m managing my social life with a few breaks for friends. I had a wonderful overnight with my lifelong girls (note the picture), and if I’m fortunate to have a few pals join me for a walk, that would make life great! My husband and I even splurged on an anniversary dinner, something, sad to say, we haven’t done in a long time. Then there’s the writing gig. This is supposed to be the current side of choice. What I’m finding is that there’s been so much attention given to the novel, that I don’t seem to have a ton of hours to write new material (such as this blog post!). The good thing is that I already had a couple old pieces I tweaked for an anthology deadline; the post I pitched to Writer’s Digest was written long ago, so when the editor recently responded with interest, I was able to reply within a day; the “success story” that will be printed in an upcoming newsletter for FundsForWriters.com, is actually the thank you note I had written a while back, and they’re waiting to print until we find out my last status (finalist or winner) after the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author is announced. I guess that using my focused time a few months prior is paying off in my present life.
Point 2: When you have a side that sneaks into a constant role, give it your all so it’s easier to manage when you return to not having time for it.
Like the walking with friends idea, I like to, as “they” say, kill two birds with one stone with my constants and/or sides. With my job and writing, some of my newer poetry was a result of reflection on my curriculum. “Autumn’s Myth” came after a mythology unit with my freshmen, while “Winter’s Solace” came to me on a student retreat, and “Rise and Weep” came after reading A Tale of Two Cities with my sophomores. My sons have started a new sport—tennis. They have practice or matches almost every day after school throughout April, so I hope to walk at least twice a week instead of going home and wasting time only to turn around and pick them up. The other days I’ll stay at school to work on lesson plans/grading/parent contact, etc. And here's an exciting thing—friends and relatives have requested my coming to book club meetings because they're choosing LINES--as their monthly read!
Point 3: Double up on sides whenever the opportunity allows. (Not at the buffet, though!)
And no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I’m always on the look out for character traits and conflicts, plot twists and settings. I wish I could say that I have a notebook with me at all times, with constants and sides alike, but I’m not that organized. It’s good advice, however, so here’s another point...
Point 4: Keep a notebook handy for writing down ideas and observations that could be useful down the line.
The last thing is something that I tend to preach but don’t practice enough.
Point 5: Give yourself a break.
P.S. Today I actually took a walk, made dinner, called a friend, and wrote this blog post! Score one for the sides! (And a day off, of course!)
I promise to get a real blog post up here soon, but I've got some crazy cool stuff going on right now, and here's the latest: LINES— was just announced as a finalist in the Soon To Be Famous Illinois Author Project! So excited and appreciative to have such a wonderful opportunity!
It’s been a week since the book release celebration, and I’m honestly still in awe of the day. As for the numbers—about seventy people came through the door between 10a.m.-noon; all thirty books I had on hand were sold (still available online); with 20% of novel sales donated to the Friendly School of Folk Music, I wrote a $90 check; my only eight poetry chapbooks were sold; five giveaway bags were raffled off; if this wasn’t the Friendly Coffee Lounge’s highest sales day, it had to come close; countless smiles and hugs were shared.
It’s been a week since the book release celebration, and WOW! Days before the event, I started hearing from people who bought the book online, finished it, and wanted to tell me how much they enjoyed it. There were specific things they liked—for one it was the imagery and descriptive language, for another it was the historically accurate details, and others just connected with the characters as if Livia could have been an ancestor of their own. These readers didn’t have to comment. I didn’t know they had purchased the book in the first place, and if they didn’t care for the story or my writing, they didn’t have to reach out at all... but they did. Will every reader feel the same? Of course not. But at least I knew that some readers had positive things to say. That feedback put me at ease when heading into the book release party, because the product being celebrated turned out to be a compelling read to more eyes than my own.
It’s been a week since the book release celebration, and I still find myself looking back at all the pictures. Not that I ever question my blessings, but if I did, this event would have put things in perspective for me. And it wasn’t just the people whose physical presence was with me; there were texts, private Facebook messages, emails, snail-mail cards. I didn’t realize how many folks actually followed my writing endeavors and supported them. Saying "thank you" feels trivial in comparison to the depth of gratitude behind those words. Maybe if I capitalize the letters, it'll make a bigger impact, so here goes--
Good news: Two of my poems were accepted for publication in The Write City Magazine, an e-zine of the Chicago Writers Association. Now, isn’t that a jumpstart to the new year! Both of these poems, “Winter Solace” and “Autumn’s Myth” are written in the English madrigal form, a form with which I was unfamiliar until 2014 when I participated in a Poem A Day (PAD) Challenge, organized by Writer’s Digest. The only way I can describe my connection with the madrigal is to recall the sense one gets when meeting a person for the first time and feeling you’ve known him/her forever. That’s how I connect with this poetic pattern, and when I sit to write a madrigal, an old soul’s voice resonates in my mind. The 13-lined format, developed by Geoffrey Chaucer, is made up of a tercet, a quatrain, and sestet with every line written in iambic pentameter. The lines within the first stanza (the tercet) are used as refrains. Here is the pattern:
A B1 B2
a b A B1 a b b A B1 B2
When I posted my poem “You” (which later became “Rain”) on the WD discussion board, three participants commented on the lyrical element of my piece. I was ecstatic that others heard it, that it wasn’t just me who felt the song I created through this form. I like to experiment with writing genres, and when it comes to poetry, I enjoy the experience of new forms, but I think I’ll always return to the madrigal. Last night, as a winter storm was revving its engine, I came up with the poem “Hope” and linked it to a beautiful photo by the talented Robin L. Rolder. (I shared it here.) I hope you, too, will try your hand at the madrigal. If you do, please share in the comments! Happy Writing!