Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sounds and Words, A New Monthly Newsletter of Writing and the Arts

Kimberly's art in the gallery.
My wife Kimberly and I have enjoyed having an informal newsletter for years, but we've decided the time has come transition to something a little more polished and consistent in features.  

So, beginning this weekend, the first issue of Sounds and Words will arrive in e-mail boxes across the United States--and beyond.

It's not going to be fancy, but we hope it will provide some enjoyable and enriching reading for our growing audience.  I'm still making final decisions on the feature categories, but most likely there will be at least one article on writing, one faith article, a Catholic testimony/profile, possible current event commentary, and assorted other surprises (to me, too).  

I also welcome fellow members of the Catholic Writers' Guild to join me if they wish to submit short pieces for consideration.  While, of course, I hope that this brings a bit more attention to my books, I am also looking forward to trying something new here.  I think this will be fun.  

In case you're wondering where the name of the newsletter came from, I invite you to read The Letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to Artists.  This 1999 letter is as inspiring today as ever before.  The phrase that caught my eye is found in its first paragraph.   

Be sure not to miss the upcoming interviews.  Watch for details coming later on social media and the newsletter!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Beautiful Sounds from Alanna-Marie Boudreau

If you're anything like me, it's always great to discover a good Catholic  singer.  So many Catholic performers seem to be content staying in the musical style of the 1970s, which sounds like fingernails on chalkboard to me.

Today, I'd like to introduce you to a young singer from upstate New York named Alanna-Marie Boudreau.  Her music is infused with mystery and beauty.  It's uplifting and embracing of truth while still holding fast to a sense of mystery. On the surface there's a certain fresh simplicity to her music, but it's a simplicity that often conceals a real depth of meaning.  For example, her second album's title refers to T.S. Eliot's poem entitled "The Dry Salvages."  And, of course, it's clear what English author inspired her track "Weight of Glory."  You may also enjoy visiting the singer's blog concerning her laudable goal of building bridges.  

Here's another interesting insight from the performer's Facebook page.

It's nice to listen to a young woman who has something truly meaningful and positive to bring to her art. It's people like Alanna who make our world a little better place. I strongly recommend both of her albums: Hands in the Land and Hints and Guesses.

Fair disclosure...  I really don't care for "I'll Be Your Woman" on the second album.  Personally, I think the simple beauty of the first album may be preferable to the second, but they are both excellent.  "Be Glad" even is reminiscent of Paul Simon's classic Graceland album.  

New and related post HERE.

Who Are You Gonna Call?

Let's face it, sometimes you just need someone on your side when it comes to customer service complaints. Short of hiring an expensive attorney or taking someone to small claims court, are there sometimes other options? I think so. I've had great success over the last decade in righting (sometimes writing) many different kinds of business wrongs. Now, I'm not talking about corporate law here.

Looking for an example? I was misled by a bank. Not exactly breaking news, but it really came at an inconvenient time. (I was preparing to launch a campaign fundraiser for state political office.) I was respectful to the local bank representatives, and they probably thought that was that. Only, it wasn't. That evening, after some well-placed and targeted messages, I received a call at home from one of the chairmen of the bank's board. Needless to say, the matter was resolved to my complete satisfaction.

So, I like think of myself as the Complaint Equalizer...but I don't use that term, because that would be kind of weird, right? Well, you may wonder why you need a professional in your corner? I suggest that many people these days are not strong communicators. Well, I'm happy to e-mail, call, and, if necessary, tweet, blog, or Facebook. (Is that a verb?) I also have media contacts who might always take an interest in your situation. Many times, though, a lot of good can be accomplished by just understanding the structure of the regulatory machine. Another success I have had is e-mail address identification. Upper corporate leadership likes being insulated from the customer front lines, but I have had great success in breaking through to the right person at the right time.

Do you have a problem, but you're unsure if I can help? Send me an e-mail today describing your situation in detail, or drop by the new webpage first. Take care to articulate why you believe you're in the right, because I won't likely be able to help otherwise. 

As this is a trial stage right now, I am charging less than ten dollars for the first handful of clients. (I'll explain how it works, when you write.)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Read to End Cancer!

Dedicated to the loving memory of my uncle Phil Rand.  I’m sorry you never had the opportunity to finish this mystery, but I’ll always treasure your praise for the single chapter draft you did read.   We miss you, Phil. 

You may not have noticed the preceding dedication from The Blood Cries Out .  The words grew out of his praise for an early draft of the sixth chapter of my novel.  You see, Phil didn't offer praise easily; he was a quiet man.  That's why his words meant so much.  Not long afterwards, in the late summer of 2011, Phil succumbed to esophageal cancer.  It came on so brutally fast--out of nowhere--that it was like waves of pain and shock passing through the entire family.  He was too young, and no one was prepared.

That's why I decided I needed to do something meaningful in Phil's memory.  So, for each e-book purchased (by someone other than myself), I pledge to donate one dollar to the Prevent Cancer Foundation through October 15th.  I'm confident that sales will exceed twenty-five books, but I'll set twenty-five dollars as my pledged minimum donation.  This corresponds to about half of my royalties for the sale of the same number of books, but, more importantly, the twenty-five dollar amount is enough to for the Prevent Cancer Foundation to pay for at least one skin cancer screening.  I challenge other mystery authors to join me to...Read to End Cancer.  Don't be a bystander; decide to make a difference.  #ReadtoEndCancer