Monday, April 25, 2016

Magic Strings and Dancing Flames

There are a few things that calm my soul and put a smile on my face. Hopefully, you can relate to my list and add a few more items of your own. Here’s my list:

Waves lapping the shore on a sunny day
Flames dancing in a fireplace
Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor
Hearing from a friend or family member
Reading a good book.

And speaking of a good book (you knew I had to get that in somewhere), I’ve just finished a novel I want to tell you about. First off, it’s by Mitch Albom, the great author of Tuesdays with Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, For One More Day, and others. So if he’s the author of this latest book, how bad can it be?  Not bad at all. In fact, there are very few books that grab me, reach into my soul, take hold and won't let go. This is one of them. The title is, the magic strings of Frankie Presto, published by Harper Collins.  

What’s different about this book? I’m glad you asked. For one thing, it's narrated by Music. That’s right, Music. The premise is that when a person is born, he or she sees a variety of brightly colored lights each representing a particular talent. Whichever light appeals to the baby and he reaches for, is the talent he will have. The book’s character, Frankie Presto, reaches for music.

The book begins at Frankie’s funeral. Music is hanging around waiting for the service to end so he can take back Frankie’s talent and give it to another newborn. While he’s waiting, he tells us the story of Frankie’s life. Here is what Music says, in part:

    “I am Music. And I am here for the soul of Frankie Presto. Not all of it. Just the rather large part he took from me when he came into this world. However well used, I am a loan, not a possession. You give me back upon departure. I will gather up Frankie’s talent to spread on newborn souls. And I will do the same with yours one day.
    “There is a reason you glance up when you first hear a melody, or tap your foot to the sound of a drum. All humans are musical.
    “Why else would the Lord give you a beating heart?”

As the story unfolds, we see Frankie grow and develop his talent. Along the way, he interacts with Hank Williams, Elvis, Little Richard, the Beatles, and other well-known artists, keeping the story even more interesting than it already is.

Why are the strings magical? You will see that every time Frankie gives of himself to help someone else, one of his guitar strings turns bright blue. When his last string turns blue . . . well, I won’t spoil it for you. Just let me quote a snippet from the book of an earlier time in Frankie's life as told by Music.

     Frankie fingered a chord. Hampton choked up.
    "Ain't no tellin' what mighta happened to me."
    "You'll be all right, Hampton."
    "Thanks to you."
    "I'm going to sleep a bit now. Maybe say a prayer."
    The old mechanic closed his eyes, so he did not see what happened next: the D string on Frankie's guitar turned a burning shade of blue. Frankie stared at it. He felt a chill run down his arms and legs You have wondered about the critical passages in my child's story? Here is one:
     In the quiet of a hospital room, to the sound of an old man's breathing, Frankie Presto finally understood that, somehow, through those strings, he held life in his hands.

There are so many unexpected twists and turns in the story, you won’t be able to put the book down. I bought mine through Amazon. Whether you get your copy like I did, or at your local bookstore, or from the library, I highly recommend you get it and read it.  

Quote of the day: And the song, from beginning to end, I found again in the heart of a friend. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Good News!

I have news I’m excited to share with you my dear friends and family.

If you remember, back in November I participated in National Novel Writing Month in which participants are challenged to write a fifty-thousand-word book in one month, from November 1 to November 30. I accepted the challenge and wrote furiously for thirty days. At the end of the month, I had 45,000 words written. I was short of the goal; nevertheless, I felt pretty darn good about what I’d accomplished.

Over the next four months, I added those missing five thousand words plus nearly three thousand more. The book was finished except for a bit of fine tuning to make it publishable.

One little thing the book lacked was a title. This story of mine went from From Ashes . . . Come Blossoms, to Hope Grows, to who knows what. This poor book has had more titles than Carter has little liver pills. Eventually, I settled on the very first name I had considered but dismissed, that being Finding Gary.  

If you’ve read my book, Leaving Mark, then you know Mark Fortier has a good friend named Gary Haywood. In that book, Gary is the voice of reason in Mark’s erratic journey to manhood. In Finding Gary, we learn more about Gary’s childhood and what makes him tick.

Here’s the back cover blurb: Gary Haywood is a thirteen-year-old who, unhappy at home, runs away. When his abusive father finds him and delivers him back home, he comes up with a more drastic idea to escape his miserable life. A counselor, Marty Colson, is appointed by the court to help Gary realize his worth. One thing Marty doesn’t count on is the strong attachment that develops between him and his client.
This is a coming-of-age story involving a suicide attempt, prison, love, heartbreak, basketball, God, and lilacs.

As promised, here’s the good news! Yesterday I published Finding Gary through CreateSpace and it is now, or within days will be, available on Amazon, both in print and Kindle versions. Get your copy now and be the first on your block to read my latest book. But be warned, you’ll want to keep a handkerchief handy.

For you dear friends who leave a review on Amazon by May 31, I will pick a name at random and send the lucky winner a paperback copy of either Finding Gary or Leaving Mark; your choice.

Happy Reading.

Quote of the Day: The novel is something that never was before and will not be again. Eudora Welty