Diane Munier will be the guest of host and author Bill Ward on RRBC’s radio series, Bring On the Spotlight.
The thirty-minute interview will take place on Thursday, May 26, 11 am CST. Find it here– http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ravereviewsbookclub
Feel free to send in commments or questions during the interview at: #RRBCBringOnTheSpotlight
Bring on the Spotlight is a production of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB’S RAVE WAVE BlogTalkRadioSeries.
I love a story told in the intimacy of first person. Jazz Baby is that tale. It’s Baby’s story as she moves into the jaded world of jazz. She’s gifted. Charismatic. To say she comes from nothing is an understatement. Her life is a continual theme for a jazz ballad. No wonder she can bring authenticity to her music, a realness that supersedes her attempts to cloak a gift in a misguided sense of self. Her innocence is preyed upon as her talent debuts, and still it all folds back into the gift that could destroy her as she gives.
The author, Beem Weeks, has been inspired with his own gift by the likes of Daniel Woodrell, Barbara Kingsolver, and Stephen Geez. It’s evident that he’s working his craft because I know what it takes to tap into a character’s voice and let it take over your head. Baby/Emily Ann/Jazz Singer has that kind of authority in her narration, and Weeks does a splendid job of tapping into this ‘other self.’
Mr. Weeks has also published a collection of short stories in his book Slivers of Life.
These twenty short stories are a peek into individual lives caught up in spectacular moments in time. Beem tackles issues from Alzheimer’s disease to civil rights, abandonment to abuse, from young love to the death of a child.
Slivers of Life. A five-star read.
Here’s the link to Week’s Novels on Amazon:
Here’s author Beem Week’s Website:
Beem Weeks is also an active member of RRBC. According to the site: RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB is a virtual book club made up of authors and readers. If you are an author looking for support, or a reader looking for some awesome new reads, here is the site:
I feel like I found mine. My thunder. Finally. But it took a while. My whole life. It’s a search worth making. For me, it’s the energy and grace (like there’s a difference) for serving others. How to serve others, and not be devoured by the very ones you’re trying to help? Ah. You must find your thunder, beloved. You must be a full-fledged woman (or man, perhaps).
My book, also aptly named FMT is up on the Bargain Booksy Site. It’s the blue book, with the girl. Hilly Grunier. Diane Munier. Get it? Okay.
Here is my view today as I sat on my porch and wrote on my current story tentatively named: Fishbait–Confessions of a No-Gooder. I sent this picture to my good friend Judy. Now I want to share it with you all. I was looking at this scene and trying to figure out the young heroine in my story and she went from light to dark. That’s it. I found her anger and I understood her. She is pissed off and her polite veneer is already lined for the explosion. Crrrack! Thunder!
Writing is the most fascinating process. I’ve enjoyed hearing many people try to explain the process, chart it up and fart out a story. I never know how I’m connected to that kind of thing. But whatever happens in it, we often focus more on the productivity of it rather than the sheer joy of creating a world. And what a mess creation is. Am I willing to make a mess? Let it be a mess? A live and thriving mess?
I have to look at nature when I write. I have to look at what was made and as his image bearer try to find the words to make a world–an old world, I have to touch the old world so you will recognize it—the innate things–told in a new way, with people you want to know more about, even if you don’t like them. Even if they embarrass you, or scare you. I want you to root for them. For me. For yourself. For this life. For this world.
Here’s what being off means today.
I cook. I (and a small army) eat. (lemon pepper smoked chicken)
I look up.
I look down:
I look all around:
And I’m happy.
I finally planted asparagus today. It’s a presumptuous undertaking as you can’t cut or harvest the crop for two years. I have thought about doing this for many years, long enough that I could be replanting a worn-out ten-year-old bed tonight. Instead, I’m just getting going because you can’t do it all, fulfill every dream in your head, and asparagus has been on my backburner for…a while.
I remember telling someone, ten, no twenty years ago that I was considering becoming an asparagus farmer. She was impressed, and saying it aloud made it more real. I was trying it on, at least.
But one thing and another. I went back to college got a degree, then another. Not in asparagus farming. Now I’m retiring from that career, the one I went to college for. And first thing on my list, before the bad art is off the wall of my former office, I’m mucking in the mud spreading out the plants, “like mop-heads,” as the guy at the nursery told me.
Before the asparagus, I was clearing out my office and I left. Just left in the middle of the day. It’s not like they can fire me now. I left and went to the nursery and bought forty asparagus plants. The plants were male and female. I figured I’d take some of both because I know what happens when those two get together. If you’re in doubt…that I know…read my last article here called, Motherhood.
I’m trying to build an asparagus bridge to lead me from one solid place in my life to another, different place. One where planting has to be as important in scope as saving the planet has been for the past decade. At least in my own pointy head.
I wasn’t ready to be a mom. I didn’t particularly like children, and maybe that was because in so many ways I was still a child myself. But the doctor told me with the tone of voice he probably used to tell people they were terminal.
“The test was positive,” he said.
Yes, my head exploded, but that was my internal response. I was angry this guy would have the nerve to decide my child was some kind of tragedy. Granted, in hindsight he was viewing the ‘pregnancy’ as a tragedy because I’d already told him I wasn’t married. Big scandal back in the day. But something got forged in me right in his office. His F. D. R. Infamy-Speech-voice, the one used to address the bombing of Pearl Harbor, made an instant woman out of me. More than the act of procreating had. This stranger had cast aspersions on the idea of my child existing! And that ticked me off like a spring mama bear.
So I blew a Bazooka bubble and let it pop really loudly. That only garnered more alarm, and disgust on the doctor’s face. If he wanted proof I’d make a horrible mother, he seemed to have it.
“Okay, thanks,” I said gathering the gum off my face and standing.
“Wait a minute,” he said, “what are you going to do?”
“I’m…going to go home,” I said.
“Do you have a supportive family?”
That did make me smile. “Oh, sure,” I said, the room tilting slightly as I imagined my WW2 PTSD father’s angry face.
I got out of there lickety split, as if some distance would put the pregnancy thing on hold so I could throw up in Catholic-girl peace.
That evening I told my boyfriend.
“It’s not an ulcer?” he said.
I’d hoped it was an ulcer as my dad had one and who knows…it could run in the family.
“Not really,” I said.
“Well,” he said, “there goes my new ten-speed.” He’d been saving his money to get a new bike. As in bicycle. He was a Junior College art student and campus was only two blocks from his house, so you see the sense in it.
I felt relieved that he planned to stand by me. I knew we were in love, but beyond a couple of fights where I stormed home dramatically and he followed me in his mother’s Ford and begged me to get back in the car, which of course I did after he was sufficiently punished for not…calling me or whatever, our love hadn’t really been tested.
And that was forty-five years ago. I talked to her this morning, that little bundle of joy. She’s kind of formidable, running things all the time, and the mom of five boys. She’s kind of the most wonderful creature God ever made.
My boyfriend would get me pregnant three more times. But he’d be my husband by then so Dad didn’t take it so hard. Not like that first time when he sat at the kitchen table with his face against the formica and his hands just hanging.
I learned something then, it’s not over until the fat lady sings. Today’s biggest disaster can be tomorrow’s greatest blessing. When my oldest is in town, she visits my dad. She pulls up close to him, knee to knee and tells him about her life. And he smiles the whole time.
As do I.
Moderator–“I now call the meeting of CAA to order. I’m glad you are all here, making this decision to own your addiction and hold yourself accountable to one another. Martin…could you put your phone in the bucket, please? You know the rules.”
Martin–“But…I just got twenty hits on my blog and there’s a comment!”
Moderator–“Bill, get the dang thing out of his hand.”
Bill, a bouncer at a club, grabs Martin’s arm and wrangles with him a bit.
Moderator to Bill–“Don’t…break his..,” the phone crashes to the floor in three pieces, “…wrist.”
Martin drops to his knees as he holds his wrist and the remnants of his phone and whimpers.
Moderator–“Sorry it had to come to this, buddy. But your defiance hurts my progress.”
Rest of Group repeats out of sync with one another–“Your. Your. Your. Defiance. Your defiance. Defiance. Hurts. Hurts. Hurts my. Defiance hurts. My progress. Progress. Hurts Progress. Progress. Yada-Yada. Progress.”
Bill crawls back onto his chair.
Moderator–“Okay, we’re here to support one another. Remember. We’re not here to judge. This is a place where you can share where you’re at. Go for it.”
Bill: (Clears throat). “Yeah I ah…I sat in that crack between the toilet and the tub last night and…I texted. Twenty-six times.”
Martin whispers: “Loser.”
Tony whispers: “Girlfriend!”
Some tittering and clearing of throats.
Stan whispers with some amazement: “I could never sit in that crack. I for sure couldn’t get out if I got in.”
Tony: “In his crack?”
Moderator: “No crosstalk, Martin, Stan, Everyone.”
Martin to Bill: “You defiance hurts my progress!”
Moderator to Martin: “This is share time, buddy. Words are meant to build, not destroy.” Then, “Go on, Bill.”
Bill to Martin: “Least I didn’t bring my phone into the meeting, dude!” Bill’s pocket explodes with “Puppy Love,” by Donny Osmond. Bill crosses his arms over his lap and rocks forward, says to Moderator, “Sorry, Uncle Bob. I didn’t mean to.”
Martin stands and points at Bill, “Hypocrite!”
Tony whispers: “He’s the freakin’ nephew?”
Bill looks up at Martin, still rocking, “I didn’t know! I thought I’d left it in the car! I was rushed this morning, man. I took my sinus meds and they mess me up!”
Martin, outraged, looking from Bill to Moderator: “Excuses build bridges to nowhere! Excuses, man! Let me get his phone! I’ll rip it..!” Martin takes a step toward Bill.
Bill: “Don’t do it, man!”
Moderator: “Time out! Martin, take a seat. Bill…” Moderator stands, hand out for Bill’s phone. Bill leans back to dig the phone from his pocket.
Martin slowly takes his seat. “Oh, nice. He practically breaks my wrist and I can’t even… Nepotism. Or something.”
Moderator looking around the circle. “Anyone else?”
Several hang their heads as they move to dig phones from various hiding places on their persons.
Moderator looking amazed and angry. Last one to put his phone in the Moderator’s now full hands whispers, “We’re not here to judge.”
What I don’t like about now is not the sounds of protest, but the tactics employed to protest. When my issue becomes more important than the greater good than being a caring, compassionate human, then I’m driven by self-centeredness, and there is nothing noble in that. And yes, you will cite some examples of protests that raised holy heck and achieved great things. Still, the philosophy remains the same. We must, in the United States of America, care about everyone, even as we instruct others in a better way. When you attack me, I can no longer hear you.
There is always plenty to squawk about. There is always unfairness and injustice. Thankfully, we live in a country where the right to say, “No way!” is protected by the constitution. We must remember we are modeling ‘life,’ what it means to be human, to the generations behind us.
The idea behind peaceful protest can’t become novel in today’s world where social media often becomes a duck blind—something you hide behind while you shoot safely at the ducks.
Now, you’d be a fool not to take advantage of the potential of this great platform called the world-wide-web, but using it as a duck blind is often the path of bullies and cowards. Perhaps we have become drunk with power! When has the common man had such an opportunity? Finding a voice is a fundamental human need, and having a shot at being heard is headier than a dose of a powerful drug. And so, this opportunity can become a drug and must be used responsibly even as we’ve all become addicted to it.
We are clamoring to be significant. Our parents might have gotten it wrong, and some of us have deep wounds. Along comes a cause and we flume onto it to right all the wrongs—in ourselves! And too often we do that by leveling a howitzer of words at one another, forgetting we are human!
Use your voice for good. Use your voice to build humanity. Whatever you believe about human origins, human beings are sacred. If you don’t remember that, then I can’t entrust my children to your world.
I give humans the holy dimension of sacredness because a life is a tremendously important, multi-faceted being connected to and valued by many others. When you hurt someone, you are operating out of your hurt. You are spreading hurt. Your goal is no longer the cause you hide behind. Your pain has taken over.
We’re here to give life to one another. We’re here to challenge one another to value life. We’re here to listen and learn and direct one another to a better way.
Protest. People died to give us the right. The right to protest. Not to piss on one another, to cheapen and devalue humanity in the process of stating a belief or opinion. Not to become a new type of oppressor.