Monthly Archives: June 2013

A writer writes

Greetings, readers. For approximately three years now Rebecca and I have been hard at work putting out two books, with my third to be released hopefully next month. Do I call myself a writer though? The answer is a resounding no.

I think of myself as more of a loafer, a video game player, a watcher of movies. I do not get up at 6:00 in the morning with a smile on my face and say to myself, “Oh goodie, I will go to the cafe now and write 1000 words, even if they are all crap.” I think real writers do that. Writers who have to earn a living (at writing) certainly do. They have deadlines to meet.

As some of you may know, my “year” goes from September to August. When I return from camp – and I can’t believe it is coming up so quickly – I ¬†will make my September resolution to have a set number of words per day to write. Whether they will be stories, blogs, or just exercises has yet to be determined. I think I will start with 300 words, work up to 500 or so, and who knows after that. Rebecca has a phrase, priming the pump, which I think is so apropos. I just have to go to a quiet place, get into that zone of mine that I have spoken about before, and simply just do it.

Yes, readers, writers write. My goal for the upcoming year, September to August, is to slowly graduate from the part-time rookie writer to someone a heck of a lot more serious. It is finally time for me to take this career to the next level.

Until soon, take care, keep dry if you are in the storms, and happy reading.

Yes, an actual blog post from Joe

Greetings, readers. While I wait for permission from a reporter who works for our local paper to get back to me with permission to post his article about me, we are doing this entry in case we don’t hear back from him today. I know it has been forever since I put up a new post and I want to get back in touch with my readers.

First off, we’ve had multiple technology grrr days regarding the new book. The good news is those seem to be solved. Also, with the performance and the hours of practice for it over with, we can get back to a routine that is more normal.

State College is in the throes of its second mini heat wave of the summer with temperatures, starting tomorrow, forecast in the mid-80s. Well, I suppose that this being June 21st we are now indeed in summertime. I say thumbs up to the warmer weather.

Rebecca has done a wonderful job, in not only solving the technical difficulties in the book, but also in putting in the material in the formatted blank with her usual speed and efficiency. I am still hoping for a mid-to-late July release date, but whether I will have enough time to order books to take to Maine in August is debatable. Right now that is the least of my worries. Three new books in three years? Yeah, I’m loving it.

Well, we will put this blog entry up and if I hear back from the reporter with the go ahead I shall publish that one as well. As always, have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Quick post about Joe

Joe gave a performance today, Friday June 14th, in tribute to his friend Erin who passed away earlier this year from cancer. He did some lip-sync, some singing, air guitar, and air drums to KISS songs (and one Beatles song) in the community room of the Arnold Addison court building. He did a great job and it was a fantastic show. The local newspaper, the Centre Daily Times, covered the show and will put the human interest story in this Sunday’s paper, probably the front page.

He had to do a lot to get ready for it, so he was not able to blog this week. We also had a couple of technology glitches to work on, so that took time too. We will get back to regular blogging next week.

Have a great weekend. Thanks.

From Rebecca: A novel in pictures

I am reading a fascinating book, The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston. As it says on the cover, it is “a novel in pictures” and has “full-color vintage memorabilia on every page.” I am most of the way through reading it.

The novel is about a woman’s life from 1920 to 1928. She wants a career in writing (although a husband might be nice along the way too) and she narrates the story about her life in pursuit of her goals. The style of the book is what I love most. It is set up as a scrapbook that the narrator Frankie Pratt, ( she hates Frances), put together with pictures, items, and other memorabilia of what she is telling us. The text is written in short sections on her Corona typewriter, which she then pasted on the pages with the relevant items.

This published book doesn’t actually have items pasted into it of course, since that would have been bulky and expensive to do; each page is a photograph of the assembled items and text. It still feels like a scrapbook, even though we cannot feel the textures of the paper and cloth or open the cards depicted.

All the items are from the 1920s and I feel like I am browsing through an old catalogue. On one of the pages about a picnic is a picture of a wrapper for a Hershey’s almond chocolate bar. I had no idea that Hershey’s put almonds in their chocolate bars that early in time. I am also amused by the price of five cents on the candy wrapper. On another page, page 37, is a list of “Vassar College Required Clothing for Freshman Students 1920” which includes, “5 skirts (no hemline above 8 inches from floor),” “Exercise tunic and bloomers,” and Corsets (no “Parisian chemises” or Teddies”)”. Memorabilia on this page are pictures of clothing items cut out of the Sears Catalog, including the prices, (I see that an all wool canton crepe skirt cost $6.98) with a text balloon stating, “I order my Vassar wardrobe from the Sears Catalog.”

The author information on the back flap mentions that Caroline Preston has collected scrapbooks from childhood and held a job as an archivist at the Peabody/Essex museum and at Harvard University. She put in the acknowledgements that she was inspired by the scrapbooks of her mother and the memorabilia of her Godmother. She also has a section on her webpage explaining that she collected the materials herself and describes how she put the book together.

I highly recommend this book by Caroline Preston, published in 2011 by HarperCollins, titled The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt. It makes me curious about non-fictional scrapbooks.

Inspiration comes when you least expect it

Greetings, readers. As my memorial show for my late friend Erin draws closer, I needed one more song to add to the playlist. Which KISS song would it be? There are many to choose from. Too many to name here. But I had one in mind. It is called “The Oath”, from the album Music from the Elder. I purchased this song from itunes and dropped it into the playlist slot where I wanted it. I hit play and came to a startling conclusion. I couldn’t figure out what they were saying.

The way the band recorded that song it had an echo effect. My next step then was to go to Yahoo! and try to cut and paste the lyrics to the song on a word document. With that in front of my eyes, I began to make sense of the song. This morning I practiced for the show from 8 until noon, concentrating heavily on the newly added song. Now, here is where the inspiration comes in.

Every time I saw my friend Erin, who battled cancer every day, I rarely saw her without a smile on her face. She never quit fighting, not even at the end. I was a gnat’s eyelash away from deleting the difficult song and asked myself, would Erin want me to quit? Would she want me to take an easy way out? The answer was obvious.

With renewed enthusiasm and inspiration, I said to myself, this song is not going to get the better of me. And, by the end of practice, I can honestly say I have confidence that this song shall remain in the playlist. Whether I shall lip-sync or vocalize the song has yet to be determined.

Readers, inspiration comes in many forms and most times it comes when you least expect it. This performance of mine for Erin, I already know in my heart, is going to be a success. I feel her spirit will be with me.

Until Friday, enjoy the nice weather if you have it. Take care and happy reading.