Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Good Fortune

I have a lot of fortune-cookie fortunes. Like, hundreds... I always save mine (and I make my husband and son give me theirs, too). I keep most of them in a pink giftbag in my office, but there are others scattered around my workspace in visible locations to remind me that wisdom can often be found on very small slips of paper. Some of my personal favorites include:

"Do not let great ambitions overshadow small success."

"Always over-deliver & under-promise."

"Your love of music will be an important part of your life."

"Love is like war; easy to begin but hard to stop."

"Your ability to find the silly in the serious will take you far."

"Be careful! Straight trees often have crooked roots."

And then there's the one I loved so much I actually laminated it: "Nature forms us for ourselves, not for others; to be, not to seem."

Do any of you keep your fortunes long after the cookies are gone? Any with wise words or hoped-for predictions on them? I'd love to hear!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Song of the Silk Road with Mingmei Yip

Today, I'm fortunate to have a fellow Kensington author and writing friend, Mingmei Yip, visiting Brant Flakes. Her latest novel, Song of the Silk Road, will be released tomorrow (!!), and I'm so excited to get to share a little about her and her new story with you all.

Welcome, Mingmei!

Can you tell us the premise of your new book?
Song of the Silk Road (Kensington Books, 2011) is a romantic adventure on China's fabled route and the Go-In-But-Never-Come-Out Taklamakan Desert with the lure of a three dollar reward.

The protagonist Linly Lin lost her parents in the same year, then an aunt she never knew existed sent her a letter asking her to undertake a long journey on China's Silk Road, retracing the same routes the aunt had taken, meeting the same people, and doing things the aunt had done -- some are very dangerous and one even perverse. Lily would receive a big sum of money, if she successfully carried out all the tasks – and if she survived.

I'm very happy that Publisher's Weekly gave the novel a very nice review:
"lively...at once modern and traditional.... Surprising and funny. Yip's modern heroine's quest is filled with unique companions, unforeseen dangers, unexpected joys, and bitter sorrows. Part epic, part coming-of-age story, part modern fairy tale..." (Oh, that's wonderful! Congrats. ;)

What's a personality trait you love about one of the characters in your novel and why?
My goal is to write about women who are strong, daring, determined and will overcome adversities to get what they want in life. The protagonist Lily Lin is such a person. Her only weakness is men -- until she meets Alex, a fellow adventurer.

What's one scene from this story you loved writing and why?
The love scene between Lily and her younger lover Alex on the desert. Imagine the heat, passion, echoes, sensuous golden sand....

Another scene I like is when Lily used her yin eye to communicate with her dead, ill-fated healer Muslin friend Lop Nor. Lop Nor was not her lover, but someone who loved and proteccted her unconditionally during her journey. The affection between the dead and the alive is unique and very touching.

Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?
I remember when I was about seven or eight years old I saw the moon and told my mother that it looked like my clipped finger nail. It was then that my mother predicted that I'd be a writer. When I was fifteen I sold an article to a magazine in Hong Kong and got paid fifteen dollars. I made a grand gesture of taking my classmate out for dishes of dim sum! But that was a long time ago.

My first sale in the U.S. was Chinese Children's Favorite Stories (Tuttle 2005) of which I both wrote and illustrated.

My first novel sale was Peach Blossom Pavilion -- story of the last Chinese Geisha -- and I'm very happy to say that it's now in its fifth prinitng! This was followed by Petals from the Sky, my second novel -- an interracial love story.

Did you go on any special trips to research the setting of your new book?
I traveled to the Silk Road and really enjoyed its beauty and treasures, especially the frescos and sculptures stored inside the caves hundreds of years ago. The magic and metaphysical feelings that I felt are portrayed in my novel.

What's your Writer Fantasy--i.e., to see your book make into a feature film, to be on the New York Times bestseller list for 40 consecutive weeks, etc.?
Of course both, plus translated into more than 25 languages! Aren't these every writers' fantasy? (LOL!! Yes, I think you're right!)

What’s next for you? Is there a new book in the pipeline?
Yes, it's about a woman spy set in the twenties Shanghai. Camilla was brought up in an orphanage, then later adopted as a teenager only to find out her adoptive father was a gangster head who'd force and train her to be a spy....

What do you think readers might be surprised to know about you?
Maybe that I still manage to have time to perform on the Chinese qin, teach workshops on calligraphy, do storytelling and write/illustrate children's books. But I don't have time for TV (which I miss)!

Mingmei, thanks so much for being here with us today and telling us all about your books ;). For more info about Mingmei's novels, please check out her website! Best wishes to you all for a wonderful week.

Friday, March 25, 2011

RWA's Big Announcement Day

Every year, this day causes waves of butterflies (masquerading as nausea) in the stomachs of everyone who's entered RWA's biggest award competitions: The RITA (for published authors) and the Golden Heart (for aspiring writers). It's been four years since I got my Golden Heart call telling me I was a 2007 finalist. Four years, and I still feel more than a little bit guilty for screaming in that poor woman's ear when she gave me the news over the phone. I'm quite sure she thought I'd turned instantaneously insane, and I have nothing I can say to defend myself, even now. My only consolation is that -- because I'd caused her temporary hearing loss -- she may have missed my professions of undying love to her personally, to the RWA National Board in general and to romance and women's fiction readers everywhere.

My family, unfortunately, will never forget me dancing like a maniacal J.Lo imitator in the middle of the living room...

So, I know this is going to be a morning of much excitement for a lot of writers out there. There are so, so many people I'm hoping will get some great news today...particularly my Golden-Heart-entering friends. You all know who you are. I've got my fingers crossed so tightly for you right now that I'm typing this with my nose. Which is difficult. So, I'll keep this short: GOOD LUCK, today! Finalist or not, you finished a novel (persistence! hard work!) and submitted it (professionalism! courage!), and I'm incredibly proud of you. Either way, we'll celebrate.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Why I'm Not a Marathon Runner...

Happy Friday!

Just a quick FYI to let you know I'm over at Magical Musings today talking about a small (but important) difference in verb tense...and how it relates to running, writing and following big dreams. Hope you'll visit ;).

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Okay, I am not a single drop Irish. Nothing. No Irishness on my side of the family at all, anywhere... However, my husband is part Irish and, thus, our son is, too. So, there is much green being worn in our household today and, since I've always liked the color, think leprechauns are cute, have a fondness for Shamrock Shakes and consider a pot of gold to be an excellent find, I'm celebrating, too! May the Luck of the Irish (by birth, marriage or friendship) be with you all!

And...to add to the good fortune today of one lucky person, Random.org just helped me draw the winning name of Kelly Moran's book. Congrats to Edie Ramer! You won an electronic copy of Summer's Road! (I'll pass along your email address to Kelly, and she'll email it out to you. :) And below is the link to a treat I hope everyone will like:

Irresistible Irish Soda Bread -- from allrecipes.com
p.s. Anyone doing anything special to celebrate the holiday?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Visit with Kelly Moran (+ Giveaway!)

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming author and book reviewer Kelly Moran to Brant Flakes! Her latest novel, Summer's Road, will be released by The Wild Rose Press on March 25th. Welcome, Kelly!

Can you tell us the premise of your new book?
SUMMER'S ROAD is a single title contemporary romance set in a small, fictional town in South Carolina. It's not only a story about finding love right in front of you, but about home, grief, friendship, and forgiveness.

Here's a blurb: After her father’s death, Summer Quinn realizes just how alone she feels in the world. With no family to fill her life now, she finds comfort among friends, but yearns for true love, contentment, and family. When her boyfriend, Matt, suggests they raise their relationship to a higher level, Summer jumps at the chance to get everything she’s always wanted. Only, she doesn’t expect the heat arising between her and her best friend, Ian – a man who never seems to settle down. A man the complete opposite of what she’s looking for. But when her estranged mother reappears after twenty-eight years, Summer’s world completely flips upside down. As secrets from her family’s past and Ian’s true feelings for her emerge, Summer’s now faced with choices she’s not sure she can make. The rest of her life’s happiness hinges on her confronting a past she’d rather deny and legitimately opening her heart to love, even if it’s not where she expected to find it.

What's one scene from this story you loved writing and why?
This whole book was a pleasure writing, even with the obstacles. Normally the sex scenes are the most difficult (though fun) for me to write, but in this case, it was so rewarding. There was a monumental fight, which led to a few things said they both meant to keep quiet, and then...bang. Finally. It was exciting because you know from page one these two should be together, and yet you know why they aren't.

Name 3-4 of your favorite musical artists/groups. Did you use any musical references in your novel? If so, do they play a significant role?
I've never been a real follower of musical groups. I tend to hear a song and like it, but could hate everything else that artist did. My personal tastes tend to lean toward country and rock, though on my musical playlist I have everything from Frank Sinatra to Kermit the Frog, and Lady Antebellum to Chris Daughtry. There were two songs that hit home for me and really inspired SUMMER'S ROAD, both of which were, "Collide," by Howie Day, and "The One," by Gary Allen. "Collide" was mentioned in the novel during a scene as being played in the background.

What's one piece of writing advice you've found valuable on your journey to publication?
There's a lot of advice I've received through the years that was utterly helpful--how to properly submit a manuscript, internal vs. external conflict, when and how to avoid clichés. The best advice I got, and I still pass on to others, is to never give up and never stop learning. This market changes by the minute, and what one editor hates another will adore. If your mind is open, dreams do come true.

Do you pay attention to book reviews? If so, has there been any particular review that made your heart do a little dance?
A lot of writers tend to not read reviews of their books. I'm a sadist, I have to. I like to know what was liked or not-so-well received about the books. My first big review came about a self-published romance I wrote in 2007 called WHEN THE LEAVES STOP FALLING, from THE MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW who said, "A deftly written story." That meant a lot to me because it wasn't a book through a mass market publisher, just me trying my hand at this dream of mine. Currently, I was overjoyed at a cover review quote from NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author Caridad Pineiro, who said this, "SUMMER'S ROAD is a compelling story about the long road to finding true love." It made me feel like all the work I put in was worth it. That I was on the right track.

What’s next for you? Is there a new book in the pipeline?
I'm working on a non-fiction memoir that someone contacted me about back in August. I don't normally write outside of romance or children's books, but I couldn't pass up this opportunity as it was once a high profile case. It's near complete, and then we'll start submitting. That's about all I can say for now on that. I'm also halfway through a romantic suspense called THE DRAKE HOUSE, and my second children's book called ALL THE COLORS OF MY FEELINGS.

Thanks so much for being here today, Kelly! And, for those of you interested in learning more about her new novel, check out the book's page on Kelly's site here, which has trailers, reviews and an excerpt. Amazon link (for paperback) is here and more buy links will be coming soon!

Kelly has graciously offered to give away an ebook copy of SUMMER'S ROAD to one commenter below!! The winner's name will be posted on Thursday morning -- good luck!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Great Books & Scene Stealers

Monday morning already! That was one fast weekend... I'm at Austen Authors today talking about characters who are scene stealers. Tomorrow, I've got author Kelly Moran visiting! And, coming up on Friday, I'll be at Magical Musings. (Wish I got to travel so much in real life, LOL.)

I also wanted to give a shout out to three fabulous new novels I've been reading that I think the world should know about:

My GBC sister, Ellen Meister, has a wonderful new book out called The Other Life , which asks the question: What if you could return to the road not taken? Happily married with a young son and another child on the way, Quinn Braverman has the perfect life. She also has an ominous secret. Every time she makes a major life decision, she knows an alternative reality exists in which she made the opposite choice-not only that, she knows how to cross over. But even in her darkest moments-like her mother's suicide-Quinn hasn't been tempted to visit . . . until she receives shattering news about the baby she's carrying. Desperate to escape her grief, Quinn slips through the portal that leads to her other life: the life in which she stayed with her exciting but neurotic ex- boyfriend, and is childless. The life in which-as she is amazed to discover-her mother is still very much alive. Quinn is soon forced to make an impossible choice. Will she stay with the family she loves and face the painful challenges that lie ahead? Or will a more carefree life-and the primal lure of being with her mother-pull her into her other life for good? (And Ellen just did a great interview on NPR yesterday! You can listen to it here.)

My friend Lainey Bancroft has a brand new ebook release, too, called Mixed Blessings! Love the premise for this novel, as well as Lainey's engaging writing style: Daniela Blessing’s ability to see crimes through the eyes of victims is a mixed blessing. She thinks she’s a handmaiden of Fate, but when Vincent Gabriele accosts her one sunny morning he calls it eye for an eye justice. He’s willing to keep her secrets—if she helps him. Despite his blackmail tactics, Danni would help, except her psychic abilities evaporate whenever Vincent is around. As truths emerge unlocking Vincent’s past, some of Danni’s history is also revealed. They’ve been intrinsically tied in the past, and their future is about to become a Destiny neither of them expected.

And, thanks to an exciting win on Edie Ramer's blog, I just got ahold of Karen Cantwell's comedic murder mystery, Take the Monkeys and Run, which was a 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel semi-finalist. So delightful! Film lover Barbara Marr is a typical suburban mom living the typical suburban life in her sleepy little town of Rustic Woods, Virginia. Typical, that is until she sets out to find the missing link between a bizarre monkey sighting in her yard and the bone chilling middle-of-the-night fright fest at the strangely vacant house next door. When Barb talks her two friends into some seemingly innocent Charlie's Angels-like sleuthing, they stumble upon way more than they bargained for and uncover a piece of neighborhood history that certain people would kill to keep on the cutting room floor. Enter sexy PI Colt Baron, Barb's ex-boyfriend who would love to be cast as new leading man, filling the role just vacated by her recently estranged husband, Howard. When Colt flies in from out of town to help Barb, events careen out of control and suddenly this mini-van driving mother of three becomes a major player in a treacherous and potentially deadly FBI undercover operation. It's up to her now. With little time to spare, she and she alone, must summon the inner strength necessary to become a true action heroine and save the lives of those she loves. The question is can she get them out alive before the credits roll?

What have you all been reading lately? Debut authors? Long-time favorites? Ebooks, paperbacks, hardcovers?? Would love to hear about some of your newest novel discoveries ;).

Monday, March 7, 2011

Around the Blogosphere: Visiting Caryn Caldwell and the GBC

Good morning, everyone!

I am having one of those great days where I get to be (virtually) two places at once. Why does this not ever happen in my real life, hmm?! I'm blogging about finding wisdom in popular song lyrics over at the Girlfriends Book Club today and, also, the wonderful Caryn Caldwell has invited me to visit! (Plus, she's hosting a giveaway that includes Ghirardelli!!) So, if you're able to stop by, please do.

Wishing you all a fabulous week ;).

Friday, March 4, 2011

Contest Winner and DRAGON BLUES

**Note: Congrats to the winner of the t-shirt and CD: Maria Geraci! I'll get that sent out to you next week. Hope you'll enjoy both!!**

And now for an extra Friday treat -- the absolutely wonderful Edie Ramer is here, and we get to celebrate with her the recent release of her latest book, Dragon Blues!!

1. Welcome, Edie! What's the premise of DRAGON BLUES?

Marilyn, thank you for having me as your guest. And thanks for asking about the premise! Here’s the summary:

Once a dragon…

Saxophone player Noah Long shifted from dragon to human 2500 years ago, but the dragon blood still coursing through his veins has kept him healthy and virile. Now his secret is out, and the man who discovered it will do anything to make Noah’s blood his own. Noah’s only ally is martial arts expert Lila Fox, who heats up the fire in his belly…and his heart.

Twice a killer…

Lila Fox’s first kill was at age sixteen after her stepfather put her mother in a wheelchair. Fourteen years later, she kills another abuser to save a woman’s life. When the man who wants Noah’s blood kills her sister, she can’t let the death go unanswered. She teams up with the strangely compelling Noah, and discovers he’s not all man and has a few tricks of his own.

2. You've combined two fascinating elements in the creation of your hero: a saxophone player who was once a dragon. What was your inspiration for Noah?

I love my inspiration! Leonard Nimoy’s Spock from the original Star Trek TV series. He’s always been my favorite. There’s a Zen quality to his portrayal of Spock, a serenity and a wisdom that fits a former dragon.

The saxophone and Noah’s love of the blues adds a sadness to his character. I don’t know how the saxophone happened. Music shows up in several of my stories, which is odd because I don’t play an instrument and I sing off-key. (LOL, Edie! ;)

3. Your heroine, Lila, is a martial arts expert. Have you ever learned a martial art? If so, which one?

I haven’t dabbled. A member of my Milwaukee chapter, who writes as Leigh Morgan, is a fourth degree black belt in Kung Fu and has done a couple of demonstrations (with her wonderful husband playing the bad guy) for our group. She’s about 5’3 or so, but she can easily throw her much taller husband around.

When I finished the few scenes in which my heroine uses martial arts moves, Leigh was nice enough to read them and give me her thoughts.

4. What are one or two of the themes that you explored while writing this story and/or what do you hope readers will come away with after having read the book?

Change and rebirth are themes in my book, starting with the change 2500 years ago when Noah turned into a human. Lila’s life is changing, too, big-time. She’d left Nashville for southern California to start a new life, away from her troubled sister. But it wasn’t a fully lived life. Her past was keeping her heart closed. Now she’s back to Nashville to help her sister, and in the process her life is ripped apart and she’s reborn.

This also becomes an emotional rebirth for Noah. And Lila’s sister is the poster child for rebirth. Noah recognizes her in the first chapter as a woman he’d known (and thought he’d loved) 2500 years ago. She’s reincarnated and making a mess of this life, just as she’d done back then.

I hope readers will come out of it with a warm, lingering glow, already eager to read the next adventure of these two fascinating characters.

I'm sure they will, Edie :-). Thanks so, so much for being here. It was wonderful to have you -- as always! Anyone have big weekend plans? What's going on for everyone?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

New FRIDAYS Review and B&N Book Club

As an author, reading a book review of your novel that convinces you that the reviewer has a genuine, clear-eyed understanding of the story is a truly priceless thing. To me, it's a bit like what I suspect a stand-up comedian feels onstage when he knows the audience is with him. The crowd in the smoky club may not love every single joke, but they laugh at all the right spots, glance knowingly at their companions when a punchline strikes a familiar chord and, after the show is over, they stroll home, taking with them a few stories that leave them chuckling with their friends later.

Well, I'm no stand-up comic, but twice now I've been given the gift of delightful and insightful book reviews on Austenprose. Laurel Ann's review of ACCORDING TO JANE still makes me feel all the warmth and giddiness I'd experienced when reading her words for the first time in the fall of 2009. And, today, Shelley DeWees (from The Uprising) has up her thoughtful review of FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE, which opens with this LOL line:

"Welcome to the world of Friday Mornings at Nine, the most cunningly disguised self-help book on planet Earth." Shelley later writes: "But with each page turn, with each brief glimpse into the lives of these lonely females, I found myself more and more captivated by their predicaments. Each marital problem is different than the others but still circles around the same key issue: the lack of solid a relationship with the self. Marilyn Brant, author of According to Jane, spins an engaging story around the concept Polonius described so simply, 'To thine own self, be true.'"

Thanks, Shelley. My wonderful college writing professor, Dr. Raymond Schoen, with his pipe in hand, is grinning hugely from his perch in the heavens today. That was one of his favorite Shakespearean quotes, and it was a sentiment he reminded me of rather insistently one day after class when I was 19. ;)

In other good news, the lovely Debbie Haupt of The Reading Frenzy invited me to be a guest author on Barnes & Noble online this month since Friday Mornings at Nine was selected as the B&N General Fiction Book Club novel for March! Anyone who wants to join in the discussion is most welcome. I'll be popping in as often as I can throughout the month to answer questions related to the book and/or to just chat about writing and life. Really looking forward to it.

Back tomorrow with the winner of the t-shirt/TMD CD and, also, Edie Ramer's new release, Dragon Blues!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Mojo Daddies & Dennis DeYoung ROCK (the Paradise) + Giveaway!

If it's not Mother Nature dumping snow and ice on us...it's Nasty Mr. Congestion hitting us with colds and flu. Not the most wonderful February for me personally as far as health and weather, so I'll admit to being relieved to have made it through to March.

However, there was a BIG bright spot this past weekend that made me feel like a carefree teenager again. A rock concert I've been excited about for months: The Mojo Daddies -- the most fab opening act EVER -- and the incomparable Dennis DeYoung performing the music of Styx unplugged!!! (I snapped most of the photos on the page, but I had help with a few. The picture to the left was taken by Randa during the pre-show sound check -- fascinating to watch. ;)

There's no doubt I'm a little bit biased when it comes to both bands. The husbands of my friends Sarah, Joyce and Carol are three of the talented members of The Mojo Daddies (a.k.a. TMD), and I've had the pleasure of seeing the guys perform a number of times before -- including last spring when they opened for Los Lobos! As for Mr. DeYoung, well...I've been a fan of Styx since the late 1970s and a few of his solo songs are amongst my favorites, too. (See my post on "Don't Wait for Heroes" -- a rock anthem for writers, if ever I heard one...)

The evening started when we all arrived at Governors State University, just outside of Chicago, and both bands got to do a quick sound check and rehearsal. Then, the TMD crew had a pizza party for the friends and family in attendance. (Note the incredibly awesome women pictured alongside of me to the left: Randa Anderson, Carol Dikelsy, Joyce Twardock, Sarah Pressly-James, me and Joyce Kveton.)

Since it was an all-acoustic evening, TMD's drummer Jim Campbell got to relax this time around, but the three other band members -- Rob Twardock, Craig James and Mike Dikelsy, pictured respectively to the right with their sound guy, Greg Kveton (far right) -- put on a fantastic opening show, playing all original songs that had our toes tapping.

(Here are Rob, Mike and Craig onstage to the left -- all on guitar for this song -- just wonderful!)

Adding to the fun was the fact that I was lucky enough to attend the concert with my brother Joe, who's always excellent company. (Love ya, Bro!) He and I have seen many fine musical performances together, and Saturday night added yet another memorable concert to our collection.

During the intermission between performances and, also, after the show, the TMD members, their wives and their kids helped sell/sign t-shirts and CDs. In this shot, Joyce, Mike and Craig display the must-have TMD items available for sale.

Then it was time for DeYoung and the gang to take the stage and, ohhh, the familiar and fabulous songs they played! From "Rockin' the Paradise," the opening number, to "Come Sail Away," the encore song that closed the show, it was a feast of musical memories for this '80s girl. (Those of you who've read my debut novel, According to Jane, might remember that I referenced Styx in the book. :) Other concert highlights included "Too Much Time on My Hands," "Foolin' Yourself," "Don't Let It End," "Mr. Roboto" and one other song I'll tell you about in a minute. (Pictured above: DeYoung and his band in the middle of the concert. L to R: His wife Suzanne, Craig Carter, Dennis on piano, Jimmy Leahey and August Zadra.)

One of the wildly exciting perks of being friends/family members of the performers is getting backstage privileges. (OMG!! It was totally like "Entourage"...) Just as we were fortunate to see the sound check prior to the show, we also got to join both sets of band members in a meet-and-greet room afterward. Thank you, TMD, for that exciting experience! Carol took this photo of Dennis DeYoung with Rob to the right -- a terrific shot.

Carol also took this one to the left of Dennis signing something for me -- proof that I'm a music geek from way, way back... What was it? Well, my favorite DeYoung song of the evening was "Desert Moon" from the 1984 album by the same name. You can't see this detail unless you click on the next photo and look closely at the upper right-hand corner, but it's a piece of paper dated October 21, 1984. For the record, I'm not a particularly skilled sight reader of music, and I'd only studied piano for a couple of years at that point, but I loved this song so much that I tried to figure out the notes and write them down when I was in high school.

Clearly, I did not get far, LOL. And for anyone who reads music, you'll recognize that it's pretty simplistic and not entirely accurate. But, nevertheless, I was proud of my attempt -- it was the best I could do back then. I tucked the sheet in a folder and kept it for all of these years with my songbooks. When I heard about the concert a few months ago, I dug it out and decided to bring it with me, not really expecting to get it autographed but thinking it would be really cool if I did... Here's proof that's exactly what happened!

And the best part of the story was this: When I pulled out the creased piece of paper this weekend and handed it to Dennis DeYoung himself, explaining how much I loved his songs and how I'd once tried to puzzle out the notes to "Desert Moon," I also said apologetically, "I know I got this wrong."

In an act of extreme generosity on his part, especially given how musically gifted he is (you should see the way this man's hands fly across the keyboard!), he actually read the notes I'd scratched on the page almost three decades ago. To him, it must've looked like the musical notation of a preschooler. Still, he studied it for a few long seconds and said very kindly, "The key is wrong. It should be in D and you've written it in C. But you got the rest of it right."

The teenager's heart, hiding deep inside my forty-something self, skipped a few beats in that moment. *grin*

In honor of the sheer joy music brings us, I'm giving away this "Notes" t-shirt and TMD's debut CD "Back to Champaign" to one random commenter on this blog post. I'll draw the winning name on Friday. Just answer this question: What's one of the best/most fun concerts you've ever attended? And have a marvelous week, all of you!