Sunday, May 13, 2012

Going Home to Jesus

By Man Martin

Kathy Patrick
Karin Gillespie
When I was seven years old, my mother told me that my dog Skipper had “gone home to Jesus.” Although no one explained this at the time, I have since realized that the Lord’s calling Skipper home had something to do with his penchant for biting strangers on the ankle without provocation or warning. Since that day, much in my life has gone home to Jesus: friends – human and animal – family members, personal possessions, youth, hair. This is the way of the world we live in: everything, no matter how dear, is only ours temporarily. Life isn’t a gift; it’s a loan.

Now it’s time to send “A Good Blog is Hard to Find” home to Jesus.

A sad duty, but not without some compensating pleasure. There are so many wonderful writers who have written for this blog, I cannot thank them all for fear of leaving someone out. Many of them I have met at book festivals around the South. I will say that writers are a special and wonderful breed, Southern writers in particular, and writers of this blog most of all. Unfailingly, the bloggers I have met have not merely talented, but gracious, warm, and generous. It is a pleasure to be associated with them. I have to give a special thanks to Karin Gillepie who started this all up, and to Kathy Patrick, founder and grand pooh-bah of the Pulpwood Queens who took the tiller when Peggy stepped down.

Thanks to them, to all of our writers, and to you, our readers.

And so, farewell.

Somewhere in heaven, I know, are five cell phones I’ve dropped in swimming pools, bathtubs and toilets – the Plymouth Voyager whose radiator cracked en route to Destin – about two thousand pairs of reading glasses I’ve purchased at the Dollar Store and later stepped on or mislaid – my dog Skipper – and my Granny Barr.

Who’s reading this now.

Man Martin, the author of Days of the Endless Corvette and Paradise Dogs, has many accomplishments in which to take pride, one of which will always be this blog.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Say It With Music

by Jennie Bentley

So we're talking about music on the blog this month. Since I live in Music City - Nashville, Tennessee - I guess that's something I should probably be able to talk about, but the truth is, I don't listen to music that often. Some authors I know can't write unless they have music spurring them on. I'm the opposite; I can't concentrate on my own words if someone else's words are in the background.

That's not to say I don't like music. I do. I just can't multitask when music is playing. I either listen to it - actually sit down and listen, to the exclusion of everything else - or I prefer silence.

The funny thing is, I married a singer/songwriter. That's how I ended up in Nashville in the first place. And I admire his talent. I really do. Even if, at times, I wish he'd just shut the hell up, because his screaming at the top of his lungs in the shower is distracting me.

Songwriting is a discipline I've never been able to master. I can write. Sometimes, my sentences even approach brilliance. Or maybe I won't go quite that far, but once in a while, I manage to string words together into something that makes me happy, maybe even a little delirious. Most of the time I just write plain sentences, though. They say what I want them to say, in the best way I can say it, and they're perfectly serviceable. But every so often, on a rare blue moon, the stars align and the words come together in a way that comes off the page.

That's how I feel about a really good songwriter. The words are perfect; the kind that give me chills when I hear them.

There are authors out there who can do the same thing, of course. A friend of mine is a great admirer of Tim Hallinan. I had the pleasure of meeting Tim at Bouchercon last September, and I can attest to the fact that he's a lovely, lovely man. He told me I don't have an accent, I have a "lyrical intonation." How can you not love that?

Anyway, my friend Beth says this about Tim's writing: "I know all those words. Why can't I put them together like that?"

That's how I feel about songwriters. I know the words; why can't I put them together the same way? Why can't I write something that makes people cry? That makes them smile and laugh and feel?

Here's one that speaks to me. I can't listen to this song without tearing up. I can play it three times in a row, and cry each time. As story-songs go, it doesn't get any better than this.

So what about you? Do you like music? Or lyrics? Do you have a favorite song that brings you to tears? Or a favorite songwriter? Or for that matter a favorite author whose words make you weep with joy?

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New York Times bestselling author Jennie Bentley writes the Do It Yourself home renovation mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. Book 6, Wall to Wall Dead, will be released in September. As Jenna Bennett, she write the Cutthroat Business mysteries for her own gratification, as well as various types of romance - suspense, paranormal, and futuristic - for Entangled Publishing. Her next romance, Fortune's Hero, comes in November. You can find out more about her books and her personae on her website,