Friday, February 5, 2010

I Am A Rock Star

I just thought you all should know: I am now a rockstar. I go to bed at 2:00am, sleep in a bunk on a bus, wake up at 10:00, eat lunch with the roadies, shower in a stadium locker room, hang out on the bus, sit in the musician's pit for the concert, and sign loads and loads of autographs.

Okay, everything I said there is true except the part about the autographs. There are other, not so glamorous, confessions:

- I had to pee for about two hours yesterday morning but it was so dark in the bus that I couldn't see anything, and I didn't know how to open the door at the end of the hall, so I held it. Finally, someone else woke up so I followed them. It was a sliding door.

- I thought I had really slept in the other morning because the clock above my bed said 11:25. I rolled out of my bunk feeling like a rock star. The clock was 2 1/2 hours fast. It was 8:55. Not exactly rock star.

- The first night I slept in these little bunks I kept forgetting there's only about 2 feet of head room. I sat up twice and stretched once. All three ended in collisions with the ceiling. Again, not exactly rock star.

- There's about ten buses outside the stadium. I tried to walk into the wrong one this morning. Not a rock star move. Fortunately it was locked.

- I showered in cold water this morning because apparently the Florida State locker room showers take about 8 minutes to warm up. The water started getting warm just as I finally rinsed off, gasping for breath and shuddering in the icy water. Perhaps if I was completely wasted this would have been a rock star way of shaking the hangover, but I wasn't. I was just impatient. And cold. Really, really cold.

So there it is. Two more days of rock star living and then I'm home.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Traveling With The Isaacs, and My 7th Favorite Book . . .

So right now I'm sitting in the bowels of a stadium, somewhere in Biloxi, Mississippi. Smells like it too. The Isaacs first show this week is a Gaither show here in town, but right now the stage is being assembled, seats are being put in place, and everyone is preparing for the show.

I am on the internet in the rather stinky dressing room, getting ready to go grab some lunch in the catering area.

Traveling on a bus was something new, but since I love sleeping in very dark places with some background noise (tires humming over asphalt), I slept great. Poor Maile . . . turns out the kids were up at all hours . . . I'll have some making up to do when I get home.

Tomorrow Tallahasee, the next day Tampa, and then flying home from there as long as this big storm doesn't drop two feet of snow on a BWI runway.

So, now is as good a time as any to tell you that my 7th favorite book is a novel by Wallace Stegner, one of the great American-west writers of all time. The book is called Crossing To Safety and tells the story of a young couple, just starting out. He is a professor, she is an expectant mother, and they move to the midwest, on their own, knowing no one.

It is a wonderful tale of friendship and of growing older. Stegner does a fascinating job exposing the issues that lie just under the surface between friends and spouses and relatives. His sometimes melancholy, sometimes humorous, and always insightful reflections on the "ordinary" lives of these characters is an enthralling read.

Highly recommended.

So now I'm off to find some food, and maybe get a shower, and then work with Lily Isaacs on her book, trying to tell it in as interesting and touching a way as Stegner could do (probably won't come close, but might as well aim high).

Happy Thursday.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Want To Get Published? The Perfect Query . . .

This morning I'm going to take a break from the whole television thing to talk a teeny tiny bit about writing.

I happen to know that some of you write because you come to my writer's workshop. Others of you write blogs or have talked to me about various pieces you are working on. Keep going! Keep working! Keep writing!

But at some point you will want to try to get your piece(s) published. It seems the one way to validate what we are doing. After all, there's something about writing that wants to be read.

The first step is almost always finding an agent. Some of the blogs I listed on this blog are those of literary agents - Chip McGregor and Rachelle Gardner (thanks to Bryan Allain of for recommending these - and I still feel awful about missing our breakfast, and I didn't miss it because it was my turn to pay). These agent blogs provide great insight into what agents are looking for.

And the first thing they are always looking for is a good query letter.

A whosit?

A query letter. If you get a chance, check out this excellent summary on query letters from Writer's Digest.

And good luck.

The Fart Machine Hits the Road . . .

The first month without television has gone by rather fast. To think that we still have another eleven months is a bit daunting, but we'll take it one day at a time.

We've pretty much weaned the kids off of television without making an official rule about it - they watch the occasional movie on the tube. The main challenge is still to continually think about what is filling up the time that the tv used to occupy. Too often for me it's the internet - not much of an improved trade off. Trying to focus more on replacing what would normally be tv time with more productive or family oriented activities.

A few weeks ago someone asked what I think is a valid question . . . why do we consider reading "better" than watching television? Both are often done in relative solitude, both involve sitting still and not moving around or interacting with others, and both (sometimes) are done while eating. And there are plenty of crappy books out there that are just as escapist as television. So is reading 3.5 hours a day that much better for you than watching television for that same amount of time? I have my own opinion, but I'd be interested in hearing what yours would be.

Stay tuned this week as I hit the road with The Isaacs ( from Wednesday to Sunday. Touring with this bluegrass/country gospel music band comes as Lily Isaacs and I try to wrap up the first draft of her book. I am looking forward to this completely new experience of traveling in a bus from Nashville, TN to Bradenton, FL, watching them perform in some shows along the way.

So make sure you check out the blog later in the week. I'm taking my remote fart machine along on the bus (you can hide the small speaker under a pillow or strategically placed prop and then hit the button from the other side of the bus, emitting a rather realistic sounding fart) - should be lots of fun . . .

Hopefully I won't be hitch hiking back.