Saturday Night Serenade–Sometimes Stories DO Write Themselves

Since February when my most recent book was published, I’ve been hard at work on the follow-up, the second book in the Redheads & Ranchers series, a novel called HUNTER’S PRIDE.

This week as I worked on a scene in which the hero of the story walks into a small-town bar, I wanted to set the mood of the place. As I imagined Hunter McFall walking into the North Star, this song, Gimme Three Steps by Lynyrd Skynyrd began playing in my head.

Writing experts will tell you there are two types of fiction writers: planners and pantsers. Planners create a detailed outline of their entire story before they ever write a single word. Pantsers (as in fly by the seat of) jump right into the deep end and begin writing the story.

I think of myself as more of a plantser. I don’t outline anything, but I do know where the story begins, where it ends, and the major events that happen in between. I keep a notebook wherein I scribble basics like main characters, their names, descriptions, and details, other characters in their orbit, various significant plot points, and setting details. Mind you, these items are added in a haphazard, stream-of-consciousness sort of way. I even sketch out important places so I can get the details right. My notebook more resembles a madman’s manifesto than a novel outline.

But the cool thing about doing it that way is that often the story unfolds for me in much the same way as I hope it does for the reader. And I end up with moments like when Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Gimme Three Steps comes forward and says, ‘I belong here.’

I’m a Southern girl. I grew up in Tennessee, and I’ve always loved Southern rock. So it’s not really surprising that some of those songs are the ones that present themselves to me. I suppose it all goes to a writer’s voice.

So for tonight’s serenade, I hope you enjoy this oldie.
Fun Fact: My mom’s name is Linda Lou.
Could this song be about her? Hmmm… ūüėČ

Be sure to hug those you love. Have a happy Saturday night!

By the way, if you’re interested,
is Redheads & Ranchers Book 1,
and it’s available now
wherever you buy digital books.

Saturday Night Serenade–Kiss Me, I’m Irish

I LOVE St. Patrick’s Day!¬† ¬†On my bucket list is to pay someone to play Galway Girl in a pub in Galway on St. Patrick’s Day.¬† So far, this first video is as close as I’ve gotten.¬† It’s a joyous street celebration!

Tonight, in celebration of all things Eire, I’ve assembled some of my favorite Irish music by some of my favorite Irish bands.¬† If you’re not familiar with them, it’s a sampling of what’s out there.

To me, the perfect place to celebrate the day is in an Irish bar listening to traditional music.¬† A few St. Patrick’s Days ago, Mr. R and I spent hours at the James Joyce Irish Pub, a wonderful bar in Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood.

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We listened to great music and tossed back way too many little green shots before we staggered back to our hotel in the wee hours of the morn.  At one point, Mr. R paid the guy to sing Dirty Old Town.  Here it is by The Pogues.

You can’t celebrate the day without¬†Irish Rover.¬† This traditional version is by the Dubliners with The Pogues.¬† Just ignore the bad teeth, it’s brilliant.

The Dropkick Murphys are undoubtedly my favorite jig-punk band, and I was thrilled to go see them last time they came through town.  This is Rose Tattoo.

Again,  here are The Pogues, with If I Should Fall From Grace With God.  Does it seem like  the Irish have something of a fixation on death?

Finally, and if you’re still here, you’re awesome, here’s a set from my favorite Irish band, The Prodigals, at their home bar, Paddy Reilly’s on the lower east side of Manhattan.¬† I actually DID get to see them here once, and it was magical.

Pull up a stool and raise your pint glass.  Sláinte, hug those you love, and have a happy Saturday night.

Saturday Night Serenade–Oh, For A Pint On A Fall Night

Happy November!¬† Can it be possible that the holidays are right around the corner?¬† Oh, it CAN be–judging by the sudden onslaught of Christmas displays in the stores and the commercials on television.

Last weekend was cool here in south Florida.¬† A/C was turned off, windows were opened, a fresh breeze whisked away all the stale air from the house.¬† We even had a fire in the fireplace a couple of nights.¬†¬†This weekend is more or less back to normal for this time of year–bright sunshine and low humidity with high temps around 80.

But last weekend put me in a mood.  I want to escape to a pub in Galway, and sip a pint of Guinness while listening to a local band.

I love this song by Ed Sheeran, and I adore this video even more.  Join me for a pint, and celebrate this beautiful fall evening.  Be sure to hug those you love.  Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Ready To Feel Good

It was a week. ¬†I can’t complain, not really. ¬†We had a Cat 5 hurricane barreling toward us, and ended up losing power for only about 15 hours. ¬†No damage to the house, just a lot of tree branches and debris down in the yard. ¬†Parts of the Keys are devastated. ¬†I almost feel guilty for feeling relieved.

Local news was 24/7 hurricane coverage for a good five days, warning us of doom, gloom, and imminent disaster.  We had no idea what was going on in the rest of the world.

When the electricity and internet were back up, I was ready to go back to normal life. ¬†Not so fast, though. ¬†Not everyone around here has had their power restored. ¬†We were apparently among the very fortunate. ¬†And the county just lifted the curfews they’d enacted. ¬†For quite a few days, there was no going anywhere from dusk to dawn.

View of the Jupiter Lighthouse from Square Grouper, after Hurricane Irma.

Cabin fever forced Mr. R. and I to go exploring on Wednesday. ¬†On the most off chance, we cruised by one of our favorite watering holes, knowing that because it’s on the water, it would definitely be closed.

It wasn’t. ¬†Precious few people knew, so it was blissfully uncrowded and we spend a nice hour decompressing toward normal.

I’m ready to feel good again. ¬†So for tonight’s serenade, I’m bringing along Ed Sheeran with Castle on the Hill. ¬†I love this song. ¬†It makes me feel happy.

I hope you’re enjoying this September evening. ¬†Is it cool where you are? ¬†It’s still steamy hot here. ¬†Hug those you love, and maybe consider donating to hurricane relief. ¬†Between Texas and Florida, there are a lot of hurting folks out there.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Summer Songs #8

It’s the end of July.¬† Normally around this time, I’d be panicked thinking about going back to work.¬† My living room would be filled with piles of composition books, spiral notebooks, folders, crayons, glue sticks, scissors, pencils, and all the other back-to-school paraphernalia.

This year is different.¬† Since school ended in June, I’ve been working seven days a week on my new full-time career.¬† And loving every minute of it.¬† I don’t mind hard work when I believe in what I do and have the freedom to do it in the way it should be done.¬† Teaching hasn’t been that way for a long time.

Last school year was spectacularly bad, and more than half the staff of my school has found other positions.¬† A few, like me, have found new careers.¬† Since that’s the case and we’ve all gone our separate ways, I’m making it my mission to see that we all stay in touch, and to that end, my bestie Mo and I started a group on Facebook.¬† We call it a ‘book club’, a tongue-in-cheek nod to the code word we used last year when we needed to share ‘ears only’ information (told you it was a bad year), and it’s by invitation only.¬† The main purpose is to have a communication platform–we’re planning to get together for lunch once a month to stay in contact, keep up with everyone, and encourage each other in our new endeavors.


Yesterday was our second meeting, and we had a blast.¬† We’ve decided that ‘our place’ is an outdoor bar on the Jupiter Inlet called Square Grouper.¬† The vibe is island casual, with sand for the floor and palm fronds for the ceiling, with a view of the Jupiter lighthouse across the inlet.¬† Oh, and did I mention that I’ve made it a setting in my new book, due out in September?¬† It’s a place to go when you need to decompress.¬† There’s nothing like the lull of the water and the gentle ocean breeze that lets you sit back and relax.

book club pano

Which is exactly what we did.¬† Before we left yesterday, we made plans for our August meeting.¬† I offered to change up the venue, but everyone wanted to come back to this little slice of paradise where it’s always 5:00.

And that brings me to tonight’s serenade, It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.¬† It’s a great summer song.¬† It also happened to be shot here, at Square Grouper.¬† The video is old–the place has put in a few upgrades, but they’ve maintained the tranquil, island-time essence that brings everyone back.

Tonight, I’m grateful for good friends, cold drinks, a gentle summer breeze, and life in general.¬† I hope you’re well and enjoying your summer.¬† Be sure to hug those you love.¬† Happy Saturday night!


Saturday Night Serenade–Summer Songs #7

Summer road trip, anyone?  Mr. R and I headed over to Tampa last weekend for an Indie author book convention.  The event featured Indie authors from all over the world, and was held at a party space called Chic Venue.


It was pretty inside (okay, Mr. R called it gaudy) and as soon as we arrived, we set about putting our half of the table in order.


I shared the table with a lovely author named Harmony Stalter.¬† She was super nice, and displayed two books, one of which she called a ‘second-chance romance’, and the other a murder mystery.¬† Which probably explains the jar with the (fake) heart and the other one filled with eyeballs.


She later apologized for the gruesome display, but I replied that her jars probably accounted for most of the people who stopped by our table.¬† The event ran from noon to 6:00, and traffic was slow.¬† Even so, I had a wonderful time and met a lot of great writers.¬† I’m even making plans to return next year.

As Mr. R and I headed home, we stopped in Ybor City, my favorite part of Tampa.¬† It’s the historic Cuban district, and probably where we should have had the author event.¬† I’ll push for that for next year.

Anyway, we found street parking and strolled toward the loud live music coming from down the street.¬† It emanated from Gaspar’s Grotto, a place we know well.¬† It’s where you go when you want the absolute best Cuban sandwich you’ll find anywhere.¬† So with cocktails on the table and¬† sandwiches ordered, we relaxed to live music and reflected on our day.


It was our summer road trip.¬† Which brings me to tonight’s serenade, Love Shack, the ultimate road trip song.¬† And it makes me wonder…¬† We told you about our trip.¬† Where have you traveled this summer?¬† I’d love to hear all about it.

In the meantime, hug those you love.  Happy Saturday night!



Saturday Night Serenade–Still Thinking About St. Patrick’s Day

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day.

And I had to work.  All.  Damn.  Day.

You know, there was a time when my Spring Break coincided with St. Paddy’s Day.¬† Once we even took a little mini-vacation for a couple of days.¬† Ended in up Ybor City, the historic Cuban district of Tampa.¬† Which doesn’t sound like the right place for a celebration of all things Irish, but we discovered that the James Joyce Irish Pub was within staggering distance of the San Vicente, the boutique hotel where we were staying, and we spent a good six hours downing green melon ball shots and listening to great music.

No such luck this year.¬† When I arrived home from work, Mr. R asked if I wanted to go out.¬† Umm…¬† Have we met?¬† The next question was where to go?¬† O’Shea’s Irish Pub on Clematis in West Palm Beach seemed the obvious choice.¬† After all, they’d been hosting a block party since 10am Friday morning.

However…In an effort to avoid what a friend of ours calls ‘St. Posers’, celebrants who only go out drinking on St. Patrick’s Day, we decided to cash in a gift card and head to Chili’s in Wellington.¬† I know–not really an appropriate choice for the wearing of the green.¬† But, as it turns out, margaritas are green.¬† So there.

And I know, it’s an effing chain.¬† But I had a Mexican combo and Mr. R had ribs, both delicious.¬† Our server, Sean, was terrific, we’ll totally ask for him again.¬† And did I mention margaritas?¬† Nothing at all wrong with that.

Tonight’s serenade is a beautiful instrumental from the talented, and Irish, Corrs.¬† I’m just mesmerized by this song.¬† I mentioned that one day, Mr. R promises to take me to Ireland.¬† I want to sit in a pub and sip normal-colored Guinness while I listen to something this magical.

Happy Saturday night!