Monthly Archives: May 2014

New York Rock-N-Roll

NY Pic 1Singer/guitarist Jimmy Ennis

It’s the mid 1980s, the height of hair-band-heaven. Every stage in every club across the United States sports a band dreaming of becoming the next Quiet Riot, the next Ratt, or maybe even the heirs apparent to the mighty Motley Crue. Most of those would-be rock stars fell well-short of the ultimate prize. Lack of talent killed off many of those dreams. Drugs and alcohol took down others–a case of partying like rock stars before ever achieving the actual status.


But those of us old enough to remember wading into the crowded clubs of, say, 1986, remember some of the good ones; those bands that had the talent, wrote their own material, had the look. These were bands that should have made the jump to the big time.

NY Pic 2Bassist Freddie Foster

One band in particular was a four-piece from Rock Hill, South Carolina, called New York. I must have seen these guys a hundred times. I’d seen dozens of really good bands at the Silver Dollar Saloon in Lansing, Michigan, got to know many of the musicians, became supporters of the better ones. But New York had that something else that the others all lacked. When seeing them on stage, you just knew it was only a matter of time until they were snatched away to bigger and better stages. They even recorded a great EP, called Carry The Torch, which featured some truly amazing music. Then came a full-length album, entitled Electric Thunder, that they never released but shopped around for that inevitable record deal. 


And guess what? That record deal actually came. Yeah, a big label came snooping around and decided to give these guy a break. But this was the 1980s, the time of monster record companies dictating all the ins and outs of the rock and roll game. In their infinite wisdom, these boneheads convinced this amazing band to fire their bass player–a founding member–because he didn’t fit the newly imagined image. Enter a new guy. Good bass player but not one of the family. Things deteriorated quickly, the record deal went away, and the guys in New York eventually called it a day. A true shame, indeed. This was a talented band that deserved to be up there with Motley Crue and Warrant and Poison.

NY Pic 3 
Lead Guitarist Johnny Glover


New York had the music, the look, and the following. But they had something else that’s infinitely greater than what most bands brought to the table. These guys treated their fans like friends–some were even treated like family. Jimmy Ennis, the talented singer-guitarist, gave me and my then-girlfriend a bootleg copy of their unreleased album. I still own a bootleg of that bootleg on cassette (when the girlfriend left, she took the actual tape). I’ve also retained an ancient recording of their EP. This music still holds up today. Their songs are on YouTube, posted by Mr. Ennis. 

The others in this fantastic band included Freddy Foster on bass, Johnny Glover, an incredible lead guitar player, and Michael Constable on drums. There were other amazing drummers to play for New York, like Rikk Haynes, who can be heard banging the skins on the Carry The Torch EP, and Michael Scott Mills, who recorded most of the Electric Thunder album–late Kiss drummer Eric Carr plays on one of the tracks on the album–but it’s Michael Constable that I think of when I recall those wonderful times from so long ago.

NY Pic 4 
Drummer Michael Constable (w/ wife Valerie)


We were young back then, believing the fun would never stop, those nights would go on just the way they had been. But that could never be. This world doesn’t play by those rules. New York broke up, I’m nearly fifty years old, and the Silver Dollar Saloon closed its doors, the building demolished, and an apartment complex erected on the site. But there are still many fond memories to ponder. 

When I hear New York rock and roll, I can close my eyes and reconstruct that fabled club, those nights buzzed on pitchers of Budweiser and shots of tequila, the smell of my girl’s perfume, the warmth of her body next to mine as we moved across the dance floor. 

So, a big thank you to Jimmy, Johnny, Freddy, and Michael for being a major part of the soundtrack of my life–and the lives of countless others. New * York still ROCKS! Don’t believe me? Just have a listen for yourselves. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFpaSU…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFzC_b… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZyUSy…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dz8CRP… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxtD_H…

Encouraging Indie Authors

file0002123153865

 

We see it in the news from time to time. A fellow indie author strikes it big, with sales entering the six figure realm. We read the numbers and find ourselves renewed with vigor, certain that we, too, can achieve these same heights of publishing glory.

Then, six months later, reality sets in and we’re still mired in the no-sales or low-sales blues!

What can we learn from those who have achieved the success that we all crave so much for ourselves? More to the point: What aren’t we doing that these others have discovered?

I recently read one such article in my local newspaper. The story highlighted indie author Mara Jacobs, who, after ten years of treading the path toward traditional publishing, with little success, opted to for the self-publisher route. Mara’s case is all too familiar to many of us in the indie world. But that’s where all similarities to the majority of indie authors end.

Mara Jacobs is a bona fide New York Times bestseller. I don’t mean she found her name or book attached to some obscure list; Jacobs’s first three e-books sold enough copies to allow her to quit her very lucrative job at a local company in order to write full time. She also purchased a second home in Las Vegas. One of her e-books has nearly a million downloads.

Another indie author, named Rick Murcer, is enjoying similar success, seeing his novel Carribbean Moon and others in his mystery series top 800,000 in sales.

In all fairness to the rest of us self-published authors, these two cases are far from typical. A survey by Digital Book World discovered that less than 1 percent of indie authors earned more than $200,000. The typical income tended toward $5000. Nineteen percent of self-pubbers reported no income at all.

The fact is, most of us struggle where sales are concerned. As indie authors, we are afforded greater control of our work. We have the last word on pretty much every aspect of our work, from start to finish. But this also means we’re usually the sole marketing arm for the project. If we lack social media skills, our ship may sink in lonely waters.

So again I ask: What aren’t we doing that these successful authors have done? I couldn’t tell you. Neither author shared any marketing info in the article. Yet, we can still take comfort in knowing that the indie way is gaining ground and respect among the traditional publishers. We’re no longer the silly little step-child with delusions of grandeur. These few and abnormal peaks of indie success should offer the rest of us hope for our own work.

I write for fun and out of need. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love the opportunity to do this for a living. A comfortable living! That day may come. Though I might find myself in fits of frustration from time to time, I am not discouraged. Any one of us could easily become the next a sales anomaly. To settle for any lesser ideas about what is truly possible is to short-change ourselves and our industry.

Let’s continue to push forward in our endeavors as published authors. Where we’ve stumbled upon that certain trail of bread crumbs leading to a few extra sales, let’s share this information with our fellow indie writers. One person can’t carry the torch; this is a group effort.

The Queen Speaks!

Greetings, readers! I am excited to introduce to you a good friend of mine! Please welcome  my guest blogger, the incredibly talented poet Queen of Spades!

Take it away, Queen!

 

Image

 

Hello Beem! Great for you to have me here! I hope you don’t mind.  I brought along some Southern sweet tea for you and your readers to try.

Image

Gather around. I have a story to tell.

 

Once upon a time there was this lady named Queen.  She loved participating in online poetry communities, sharing her writings, and interacting with fellow poets and readers alike.  Everything was going well until Queen started becoming more popular than the other administrators before her, who were fellow poets in their own right.  As a result of that and the communities making changes she wasn’t on board for, Queen was forced to leave the very communities that for years she called her home.

 

It wasn’t all tragedy.  During her tenure she encountered another poet called M.  The two of them would comment on each others’ poetry and even collaborated on a few pieces.  Their styles meshed rather well.  Along the way they became great friends and later fell in love.  Eventually their long distance romance blossomed into both of them being in the same vicinity.

 

One day Queen found a hardcover book of writings M had done a long time ago.  After reading those works, she became highly inspired and began to write.  Each of Queen’s poems was a counter or a compliment to the poetry of M’s.  There were moments when Queen would crank out multiple poems a day: she was drunk with creativity.  And drunk in love.

 

That was 2003.

Image

 

 

Fast forward to May 2008.  Queen returned from a hard day’s work and arrived in their shared abode.  She was greeted with a half page letter on a computer screen, citing the union was over with.  Queen was overcome with grief.  Several times along the years, Queen came across the “work of love” and wanted to destroy it.  Yet something in her wouldn’t allow her to do it.  She would hide the work and trick herself into thinking she had no idea where it was located.  After a while, this mind trick began to work and Queen didn’t think any more of it.

 

Fast forward to late March 2013. Queen’s publishing bug had undergone a resurrection. It had been originally smashed in 2006.  She felt the need to share again, though she had never stopped writing.  She was hard at work on the Eclectic collection but decided to take a break to do a bit of spring cleaning.  While doing so, she found the “work of love” again and began reading it.  It had been many years but holding this work felt differently.  This time, she didn’t feel the anger anymore from the person that inspired it, just very thankful for the creativity which spilled forth.  For Queen, she was at a pivotal point.  She no longer wanted to destroy the work yet she also felt like she hadn’t given that part of her life proper closure.  After the debate, Queen decided to publish the work in May.

 

Number Three

 

I am the Queen in the story and the published work is Reflections of Soul.  This collection served as my closure on that particular time frame.  I am very glad that the poems I’ve written have impacted others and resonated with those readers who wouldn’t normally pick up a poetry book.

 

Image

Blurb: Inspiration is all around but what happens when inspiration from one impacts facets of another’s self? Reflections of Soul takes one on this poetic journey–a voyage coated in bittersweet waves: paying homage to the inspiration while gaining necessary closure on the impact after the bond met its death.

 

As part of the one year anniversary of Reflections of Soul, I am offering the electronic copy of this work for $1.00 via Kindle.

http://www.amazon.com/Reflections-Soul-Queen-Spades-ebook/dp/B00D49VYGS/

 

The title will also be offered via Smashwords (for those of you who need a different electronic format than .mobi) for the entire month of May.  If you purchase through Smashwords, please use QK82Q upon checkout.
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/318687

 

For those who prefer to have a paperback, it will be selling at $4.00 (two dollars off the regular price) via CreateSpace.  Please enter code YAG4DN9T upon checkout.
https://www.createspace.com/4224777

 

Beem, thank you so much for having me!  I greatly appreciate the time and the opportunity.  Feel free to savor the rest of the pitcher of sweet tea.  Until next time.