Saturday Night Serenade–Down at the Twist and Shout

Hello, August!
It’s the middle of summer, but I always used to dread August, because that means Back-to-School.  But now, while my teacher friends are gearing up for battle, I’m ready to release my 9th book, and I’m 25k words into the next one.  There’s enormous freedom in giving up a steady paycheck for a career that nourishes your soul.

So this Saturday finds me feeling light and happy.  I’ve pulled up an older song that makes me feel the same way.  Mary Chapin Carpenter released Down at the Twist and Shout in 1991, and it won a Grammy the following year.  It just makes me want to go to a country bar and two-step all night.

Look closely–she’s backed up by members of traditional Louisiana cajun/zydeco band BeauSoleil.  I saw them perform once in downtown West Palm Beach as part of a free outdoor concert series, Sundays at the Meyer.  Then-Mayor of WPB (now US Congresswoman) Lois Frankel went through the crowd handing out chocolate chip cookies, which is the part my kids most remember.

I’m tucking in a little BeauSoleil just for fun.

I hope you’re having a relaxing summer weekend.  Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

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Saturday Night Serenade–Breakfast Date

Last Sunday, Mr. R took me to breakfast at one of my most favorite places on the planet.

Howley’s is a West Palm Beach institution, an establishment that describes itself as “Hip diner slinging comfort chow amid ’50s decor with a pressed-tin ceiling, full bar & jukebox.”  It has had the same motto, “Cooked in sight, must be right,” since the place opened in 1950.  After years of neglect, it was taken over by Subculture, who lovingly restored it into the joint it is today, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner from 7am to 2am, except Friday and Saturday when it’s open until 5am.  I may or may not have rolled in drunk in the wee hours of the morning and ordered a grilled cheese and fries to soak up a little alcohol before heading home.

Howley’s is so much more than just a diner.  The place has an open, funky, creative vibe.  Art on display on most available surfaces is for sale.  I have to confess, I had my eye on a pair of photos on canvas–black and whites of a Creature of the Black Lagoon action figure with a surfboard on the beach and on a pier looking out over the water.

There’s even a fantastic outdoor mural by local artist Amanda Valdes on the south wall.

The staff is young, tattooed and pierced, and gender fluid.  Oh, and by the way, the food is great!

Sunday, shortly after we were seated in a retro-style booth, our server, a thin, much tattooed, delightfully gay man came to take our order.  When I started with a mimosa, he drew a heart on his chest and declared that he and I are soul sisters.  As he left to get our drinks, I couldn’t resist.  “I LOVE this place,” I told Mr. R.

We enjoyed our breakfast to a soundtrack of music in keeping with the vibe of the place.  When Still Feel It by Portugal. The Man came on, our server friend (my soul sister), who was helping a nearby table, broke into a fabulous shimmy.  I LOVE THIS PLACE!

I love it so much, in fact, that when I set my award-winning book, FOR SPARROW, in West Palm Beach, I featured Howley’s.  Yes, the book title is a link, just in case you’re looking for a great read.  😉

I hope you like this song.  Fun Fact: It’s the song in the latest Coppertone ad.  It just feels like summer to me.  And funky diners.  And happiness.

Enjoy this balmy summer evening.  Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–A Song and a Shameless Book Plug

Where has January gone?  Before next weekend, it will be February, and that puts me in the mood for Valentine’s Day.  Which means I have all sorts of romantic songs on my mind.

Tonight’s serenade is a beautiful song by Ed Sheeran, Thinking Out Loud.  I’m a huge fan of his anyway, and this song is so ingrained in my brain, it pops up several times in my new book.  (Shameless book plug ahead…)

CHASING ORDINARY is the contemporary adult fairy tale I’ve always wanted to write.  Here’s the official description:

Red-haired Petey Cavanaugh is a sculptor who welds steel and glass creations.  A young widow, she lives on her in-laws’ sheep ranch in Montana where she helps out during the day, working on her art at night.

Looking to raise money to expand the ranch’s business, she gratefully accepts her art school roommate’s offer of a gallery show in Manhattan.  It’s been years since she was in the city, and she’s happy to visit her old friend.

Nik is in New York on business.  He’s been traveling for nearly a month, enduring endless meetings, attending obligatory dinners, and battling jet-lag.  On his way to yet another business dinner, his world collides with Petey’s one rainy Manhattan night.

Their mutual attraction is immediate, but Nik’s skeptical.  Could it possibly be that this gorgeous, enchanting artist has no idea that he’s Europe’s most eligible prince?

Spending time with Petey is Nik’s first-ever taste of ordinary.  What will happen when she finds out the truth?

CHASING ORDINARY comes out February 13, just in time for Valentine’s Day, but I’m offering it for pre-order for just 99¢ until release day.  This weekend, I’m revealing the gorgeous cover designed by the ever-sexy and uber-talented Linzi Basset.

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I hope you’re enjoying this last weekend of January, and that most of the dangerous winter weather has passed you by.  Share a love song with your special one, and hug those you love.  Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–It’s My Birthday!

I’ve always loved October.  It’s fall.  In many places, the weather is cooler.  The leaves are starting to change.  And I mean, what kid doesn’t love Halloween?  Plus…my birthday is in October.  Today, to be precise.  And you know what?  I’m feeling good.

In the past year, I’ve walked away from a career that was increasingly becoming unbearable.  With support and encouragement from my love, I’ve plunged into the deep end, embracing writing as my full-time career.  And I’ve published two new books, bringing my bibliography to eight, with the next two on the horizon.  I’m literally living the dream.

This song by Nina Simone pretty much sums it up.  And incidentally, Nina Simone is a nominee for this year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees.  If you haven’t voted yet, make sure you do.

I hope you’re feeling good, too.  Be sure to hug the ones you love.

Happy Saturday night!

Birds flyin’ high, you know how I feel
Sun in the sky, you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by, you know how I feel
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me
Yeah, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me, ooooooooh
And I’m feelin’ goodFish in the sea, you know how I feel
River runnin’ free, you know how I feel
Blossom on the tree, you know how I feel
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me
And I’m feelin’ goodDragonfly out in the sun, you know what I mean, don’t you know
Butterflies all havin’ fun, you know what I mean
Sleep in peace when day is done: that’s what I mean
And this old world is a new world and a bold world for me

Stars when you shine, you know how I feel
Scent of the pine, you know how I feel
Oh, freedom is mine, and I know how I feel
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me

And I’m feelin’… good

Saturday Night Serenade–Summer Songs #9

Happy August, everyone!  This summer is just moving on along, isn’t it?  I’m feeling pretty happy right now, I’ll just be honest with you.

This is the final summer weekend for all my teacher friends.  They have to show up on Monday, ready for another year.  My retirement officially starts Monday.

I know, I’ve been off all summer, but I would have been anyway.  In all fairness, though, since the end of school in June, I’ve been working seven days a week as I endeavor to make a go of full-time writing, so I didn’t actually take a break.  But I’m happy doing what I’m doing, I’m nearly finished with my new novel, and I know what my next project will be.

Tonight’s serenade is a romantic little song,  I’m Yours by Jason Mraz.  It isn’t a summer song per se, but it always feels summery to me.  Guanabanas, one of our favorite date night destinations, is a tropical paradise, an outdoor bar/restaurant on the river in Jupiter.  On their tiki stage, there’s usually a guy with an acoustic guitar singing Jason Mraz covers.  I love to order a Cat 5 hurricane along with a round of their homemade fish dip and just chill.

Feel free to do the same on this first weekend of August.  Be sure to hug those you love, and tell them how much they mean to you.  Happy Saturday night!

I’m Yours

Well, you done done me and you bet I felt it
I tried to be chill, but you’re so hot that I melted
I fell right through the cracks
Now I’m trying to get back

Before the cool done run out
I’ll be giving it my bestest
And nothing’s gonna stop me but divine intervention.
I reckon, it’s again my turn
To win some or learn some.

But I won’t hesitate
No more, no more.
It cannot wait,
I’m yours.

Well, open up your mind and see like me,
Open up your plans and damn you’re free.
Look into your heart and you’ll find love, love, love, love.
Listen to the music of the moment, people dance and sing, we’re just one big family
And it’s our God-forsaken right to be loved, loved, loved, loved, loved

So I won’t hesitate
No more, no more.
It cannot wait,
I’m sure.
There’s no need to complicate.
Our time is short.
This is our fate,
I’m yours.

Do you want to come on, scooch on over closer, dear
And I will nibble your ear

I’ve been spending way too long checking my tongue in the mirror
And bending over backwards just to try to see it clearer
But my breath fogged up the glass
And so I drew a new face and I laughed.

I guess what I’ll be saying is there ain’t no better reason
To rid yourself of vanities and just go with the seasons.
It’s what we aim to do.
Our name is our virtue.

But I won’t hesitate
No more, no more.
It cannot wait,
I’m yours.

Well, open up your mind and see like me,
Open up your plans and damn you’re free.
Look into your heart and you’ll find that the sky is yours.
So please don’t, please don’t, please don’t…
There’s no need to complicate.
‘Cause our time is short.
This oh, this oh, this is our fate.
I’m yours.

Oh, I’m yours
Oh, I’m yours
Oh, oh,
Baby, do you believe, I’m yours?
You best believe, you best believe, I’m yours.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!