Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Soundtrack of a Novel - A Guest Post by Sarah Glenn


This month, Fabulous Florida Writers is pleased to welcome guest blogger Sarah Glenn. She is the author of  cozy mystery novels and has had stories included in several paranormal and mystery anthologies. Her latest release, Murder at the Million Dollar Pier, is the second book in her Three Snowbirds series. Glenn was our featured writer on December 3, 2018.
My life has a soundtrack, and so do my stories. Nothing helps my mind’s eye focus better than a tune from the time and place of the characters. I’ve written with Dvorak, Debussy, Kitaro, and Alan Parsons (a lot of Alan Parsons) teasing my imagination.

The “Three Snowbirds” series is set in the Roaring Twenties, so I’ve had a lot of fun exploring the music of the era—and the present is the best time to find it! When I began writing my first novel, aka my trunk novel, I had to procure the albums myself or check them out from the library. Today, there are streaming services galore and YouTube channels devoted to popular decades in the first half of the twentieth century.
Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon Music all have selections from the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, a major force during the Twenties. Despite the name, it wasn’t a single orchestra; Whiteman had nearly thirty ensembles performing under his name at one point. One ensemble regularly played the Vinoy Ballroom during the time of Murder at the Million Dollar Pier, so listening to Whiteman while writing was a must. “The Japanese Sandman”, one of the popular songs, has a sweet melody I knew Teddy would love.

For more obscure music, Pax41 Music Time Machine’s YouTube channel is particularly helpful. It provides a broad variety of recordings from the 1900s to the 1940s, grouped by decade, by event (Christmas), and even genre (Broadway showtunes, musical quartets, even the cinema organ!). In one scene of Pier, Teddy plays the WWI song “Goodbye Broadway, Hello France,” and Pax41 led me to it.

Elmer Schoebel, a popular composer in the 1920s, launched his career in Chicago, but in later years moved to Saint Petersburg. I was steered to his music by a co-worker who is one of his descendants. I always try to include a reference to a Schoebel song in our stories. Some of his best-known tunes are “Bugle Call Rag,” “Nobody’s Sweetheart Now,” “Copenhagen,” and “Prince of Wails.” You can find several of the original recordings on YouTube, but if you’d like to hear a more modern rendition, go to Amazon Music. Les Rois du Fox-Trot did a tribute album to Schoebel, and you can stream it. 

For more information, visit the author's website at http://www.sarahglenn.com/


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Chris Cobb - Sci Fi With a Sense of Humor


With three older brothers and a younger sister, Christopher Cobb often felt like the lost child, so he started writing stories. “My mom said she always heard the tapping of a typewriter coming from my room,” he recalls. While he began writing for himself, he eventually discovered that he had a knack for it and is now the author of two highly entertaining science fiction novels that combine imaginative plots with his unique brand of quirky humor.

Cobb, a native Floridian, earned an associate degree from Florida School of the Arts and went to New York City to pursue an acting career. While he scored some off-Broadway roles, he decided to leave the hustle of the Big Apple for the tranquility of the Appalachian Mountains in northern Georgia. He spent four years decompressing before returning to Florida to go back to school. Cobb received his Bachelor’s degree in Social Science from Florida Atlantic University and now works as a producer and marketing specialist with the Palm Beach County Film and TV Commission. His favorite part of the job is working on the Student Showcase of Films, a juried competition for Florida high school and college students pursuing careers in the film industry.

But Cobb never lost his desire to write. “In high school, I had English teachers who encouraged my writing, and this had a profound effect on me,” he said. “Writing was a creative outlet that I wanted to explore.” So Cobb decided to attempt a novel. He chose science fiction because of the influence of authors like Piers Anthony, Kurt Vonnegut, H.G. Wells, Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury.  “I always loved the literature, TV shows and movies, so the eventual progression into creating my own sci fi/fantasy universe was natural,” he says.

His first novel, A Moon Called Sun, combines history, romance and time travel in a story that shows how something with good intentions can be twisted and perverted for evil. “The collection of characters from different worlds, so diverse and unique, all have something in common – ” he says, “the need to belong, to be loved and most importantly, to be validated.” Piers Anthony, a writer who was a major influence on Cobb, described the book as “…interesting and well told, with a considerable range of imagination.”

For his latest novel, Cobb decided to try something different. “I got the idea from the 1971 Stephen Spielberg movie, “Duel,” the story of a traveling salesman terrorized by an old Peterbilt semi,” he says. “I thought it would be fun to set this story in outer space.” The result was Slant Six, a story that merges "Duel" with Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.  Set in 2252, Slant Six is the tale of Loman Phin, a burnt out spaceship racer inspired by Miller’s Willie Loman. When Phin agrees to deliver a mysterious woman to Pluto’s moon, he becomes embroiled in a hazardous series of misadventures.  “I like to take pop-culture references and twist them into something futuristic,” Cobb explains. “When I got the idea to model all the spaceships after classic cars, it opened the floodgates. I knew I could do a lot of wordplay and have a lot of fun with it. I wanted readers to feel like they’re on the right side of an inside joke.” The book was praised by Sci-Fi and Scary as “…an exercise in naughty, punny action fun…entertaining from start to finish.”

Cobb has already started on a sequel to Slant Six. Titled The Wicked Split, the story will center on a vampire and android that team up to look for revenge. “These books were so much fun to write,” he says. “I hope readers will finish them and say, ‘That was a helluva lot of fun, and I want to read more.'"

For more information, visit the author’s website at www.chrisfcobb.com.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Tracey Enerson Wood - Food, Family, and Military Life


St. Petersburg writer Tracey Enerson Wood comes from a family steeped in military tradition. A member of a multigenerational military family and an active-duty military spouse for thirty years, Wood decided to use her writing talent to honor veterans in a unique way – by chronicling their tales in a cookbook. “I thought about how our family enjoyed getting together around the dinner table and telling stories over a meal,” she says. “Then I thought about all the stories that would fade away if they weren’t documented, and I decided that’s what I needed to do.” The result is Homefront Cooking: Recipes, Wit and Wisdom from American Veterans and Their Loved Ones, a cookbook Wood describes as “a little piece of American history.”
 
Wood came to Florida from Alaska in 2011. “It was paradise,” she says. “After eight years in Alaska, I was ready to thaw out on the beach.” The retired registered nurse was also ready to pursue her more creative side. She studied interior design and started her own business. She also decided to try her hand at writing.

“I always enjoyed writing,” she says. “I wrote some columns for trade magazines and a few short stories. I also wrote a play. Seeing my work on the stage was the most thrilling thing ever.” After taking two years of writing courses, she wrote a screenplay. “It was a big, splashy historical. I was told that it would be too expensive to produce as a movie, so it was suggested that I write it as a novel.” So she spent another two years working on The Engineer’s Wife, a historical novel based on the woman who got the Brooklyn Bridge built. “I like to write about women who are little known in history,” she says. The Engineer‘s Wife will be released by Sourcebooks in April, 2020, and is available for pre-order at all major booksellers.

For Wood, the most difficult thing about being a writer is the solitary nature of the craft. “Most writers are more introverted. I’m not. The long hours in isolation are hard for me. It takes a tremendous amount of time, dedication and discipline to do good work. I’d rather be out playing." So Wood began collecting stories from veterans and their families to create a cookbook/memoir that spans from the Civil War through today’s battlefields in the Middle East.  “The biggest challenge was getting recalcitrant veterans to share their stories,” Wood admits. 

The project caught the attention of celebrity chef Robert Irvine who contributed his personal recipe for Braised  Beef Shortribs.  All author proceeds from Homefront Cooking will be donated to the Robert Irvine Foundation, an organization that supports military personnel and first responders.

Wood is very pleased with the public response to Homefront Cooking. In fact, plans are being considered for Homefront Cooking 2 which may focus on regional recipes. “I want readers to learn something, maybe a little piece of history they didn’t know, or find a favorite recipe or a story they find meaningful,” Woods says.  “I also hope the book will give readers a sense of pride in being an American and a feeling of love and respect for our veterans.”

For more information, go to traceyenersonwood.com, or the Homefront Cooking Facebook page at
HomeFront Cooking now available here: