“That’s Amore” by Dean Martin

Dean MartinThis is the fourth in my “With Music” series, where I capture moments in my life through a song. The others  so far included a song by Ben Folds Five (you can read it here), Sheryl Crow (here), and the third was about one of the best songs ever by Beth Orton (here). Check them out! (After reading this one, of course.)

I never really liked Dean Martin’s music.

When I think of classic crooners, I always lean towards Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Nat “King” Cole. Bing had a nice jazz rhythm and friendliness in his voice, Frank was art (a unique and always beautiful combination of arrangement and voice), and Nat… Nat was the man. Smooth voice and a great jazz piano player. His album After Midnight might be my favorite album of all time. I can’t think of a week I had not listened to it all the way through at least once.

But Dean Martin?

Dean was silly, with his drink in his hand and a wink to the audience. You never got the feeling that the music really mattered to him, it was just another part of his performance, no more important than his suit and his cocktail.

And yet, Dean would begin to represent for my wife and me one of the happiest moments not only of our marriage, but our lives. Dean started each day of our best adventure, made us want to sing along. Dean equaled freedom and bliss. And if he was around today it would be hard not to give him a hug if I was to meet him (I’m assuming at a questionable and loud bar in Las Vegas).

See, Dean Martin and his ridiculous song about a moon and a pizza pie was the musical symbol for our two-week trip through Italy.

It’s all so freaking weird to consider, but it is true. Continue reading

New WKAR Book Review: Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg

Current StateToday on WKAR’s Current State I reviewed the new historical fiction by Jami Attenberg. It is called Saint Mazie and published by Grand Central Publishing. Check it out.

You can listen to my new review here: http://wkar.org/post/book-review-saint-mazie-jami-attenberg

If you would rather read my review, you can do so below.

Hey, did you know Current State has a podcast? If you subscribe, you can download episodes and segments (and you can find me every other Thursday). Here is a link to find it on iTunes- https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wkar-fm-current-state/id594609653?mt=2

If you would like to check out Saint Mazie  you can find it on Amazon here. If you want to check out my other book reviews for WKAR’s Current State, you can do so via links on this page. Continue reading

“Sweetest Decline” by Beth Orton

Mountain ClimbingThis is the third in my “With Music” series, where I capture moments in my life through a song. The first entry was about a Ben Folds song and a girl with elf ears (you can read it here), the second was about being lost in Europe and Sheryl Crow (here).

It was never supposed to be a hobby. Let’s make that point clear. Since the age of 16, my focus and my aim was on one target, becoming a professional author. I even had an agent when I was a kid (the agent then tried to sell a collection I wrote, but we parted ways when I discovered to my horror they were calling me a new generation Beverly Cleary. I thought I was Ray Bradbury. Yeah, I was a stupid and egotistic teenager… But Beverly Cleary?)

And by the time of this tale (age 24), I had four screenplays, the scripts for a ten-episode radio series, and a mountain of short stories. I knew there were novels in me, but I just wasn’t feeling it yet. I just had too many ideas and the idea of focusing on one like that felt difficult. Whatever the case, my world and identity was engulfed in the idea of me being a writer. Not just any writer, but an important one, for the history books, one of the voices of a generation. Why aim for a lower target when the mountain is freaking right there?

Now this is the rub- I was in the graduate program for English Literature at Michigan State University and I was bored. Bored, bored, bored! The idea of writing and studying more writers (and probably going on for my Ph.D.) sounded so… sigh… dull. Another essay? Another literary criticism? Bored…

The fact is I just wanted to write! My literary cup was full, thank you very much!

So in January, I got this idea and by May it was done. I had dropped out of the graduate program, moved back to Grand Rapids, got a really nice studio apartment (seriously, it had a fireplace, but the flames were blue for some odd reason), and found a normal job. Hello life!

There was a certain amount of logic around this (at least logic that worked for my odd mountain-seeking brain), I would live in this place and create my masterpieces, then when ready I would explode into the world. The problem is that this was all based on the idea that inspiration would be there waiting for me in that apartment.

It wasn’t. Continue reading

“Home” by Sheryl Crow

Literary Map of EnglandMusic has always been very important to me. Many times when I look back at a time or a memory, a song will sneak in before an image. I thought it would be interesting to look back at people and moments by tapping into this quirk. The first in my series “With Music” was about Ben Folds and a girl with elf ears (here), this time I take on a song by Sheryl Crow.

This is about the time I almost disappeared

The first thing you have to understand about me is I have a knack for romanticizing things. Moments are never just moments for me, I see the potential for some kind of poetic license in everything. Maybe I read one too many romantic poets back when I was in college, but I would look for messages in nature and life. Messages just for me. Let me emphasis this point- not for you or the rest of humanity, just me. Yeah, it’s just a sunset, I get that, but could those colors be reaching for me, embracing me, telling me something for only my eyes?

Destiny. Fate.

I was sure I had it all in spades.

When I was in college I used to romanticize the idea of exploring Europe by myself, nothing but a backpack and my wits for comfort. Besides meeting with the travel agent to work out the flights and some tours along the way, what I would do while there was all on me. One of the few things I had certain about me and my trip was I would arrive in London on the first day and fly out of Paris on the last. Point A and Point B. Continue reading

New WKAR Book Review: Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event

Current StateOne of the things I love about doing the book reviews on WKAR’s Current State is catching up with writers that mean a lot to me. I got to do that again in this review, taking on the new novel by Judy Blume, In the Unlikely Event.

You can listen to my new review here: http://wkar.org/post/book-review-judy-blumes-unlikely-event

If you would rather read my review, you can do so below.

Hey, did you know Current State has a podcast? If you subscribe, you can download episodes and segments (and you can find me every other Thursday). Here is a link to find it on iTunes- https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wkar-fm-current-state/id594609653?mt=2

If you would like to check out In the Unlikely Event (and you should)  you can find it on Amazon here. If you want to check out my other book reviews for WKAR’s Current State, you can do so via links on this page. Continue reading

“Don’t Change Your Plans” by Ben Folds Five

Elf EarsMusic has always been very important to me. Many times when I look back at a time or a memory, a song will sneak in before an image. I thought it would be interesting to look back at people and moments by tapping into this quirk. This is the first in what I am thinking of calling my “With Music” series.

She had elf ears.

People confuse elf ears with vulcan ears, but that is just not fair. Vulcan ears (Spock) look out  of place for a reason; they are alien, different. The old Star Trek was filled with this. Want something to look alien? Accent something that we are not used to. But elf ears are different. They are an extension of nature, they embrace the face, accenting, like a playful cursive twist at the end of a letter. They can remind more of a vine slowing stretching just that little bit farther up.

I first saw her at a writing table. It was being held at a local museum and everyone else there isn’t worth mentioning or remembering. Cruel to say, I know, but by then I had attended enough writing tables (thanks to colleges and bookstores and libraries) so that people fell more into categories than something flesh and blood. There was the guy who wants to be Stephen King (a little creepy and always stares a little too much), the older woman wanting to write a nice romance (I always feel there is hidden heartbreak there), the angry youth (who may or may not share poetry, but would always share their annoyance through expressions), the man with the mustache who is writing a thriller (there is always a man with a mustache who is writing an action thriller) and etc., etc., etc.

Writing tables like that, including the one with the young woman with the elf ears, was one of the reasons I was moving to Los Angeles. I had attended a lot of them while living in Grand Rapids, hoping one would give me some kind of sign of what to do next in my life and writing career. Frankly, by then I had been waiting enough. That is what my life felt like up until that moment, one long wait.

I had waited through college, waited through part of grad school, and now waited while counting down to when I was to leave in December for the University of Southern California. Sunny Los Angeles… where I was certain all my writing dreams would come true and everyone would recognize me for the genius I was sure I was. Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, August 2015

OpusThis is an odd time we live in, especially for us old-school nerds. Star Wars is back (and maybe without too much CGI), a new Ghostbusters film is being made, dinosaurs and terminators are in the movie theaters (not always a good thing, from what I hear). Beloved comic Bloom County is back and looking EXACTLY as it did during its heyday of the 1980s (even mocking Donald Trump who is probably going to win the Republican nomination). Then there is Harper Lee…

Harper Lee…

I reviewed Go Set a Watchman on WKAR (which you can read and hear here), and everyday I get more and more annoyed that it was ever published. I’ve even taken to reading reviews of people that give it good reviews to try and find some way to justify it beside the money. They all take the same tact to their argument- Well, if you consider the time she was writing and this is only an early draft and, my favorite, if you look at it as a piece of history. No, it’s not a piece of history! It was released by the publisher as a sequel (!) to To Kill a Mockingbird. And they did not push it as a “growth” piece, a chance to see the evolution of Lee as a writer. Everything they did was to present it as a follow-up, the continuing story of Scout and Atticus. Heck, even Reese Witherspoon did the audiobook! You don’t call a major actress in to do an audiobook of some kind of little historical literary oddity.

I don’t want to join the speculation on whether Harper Lee wanted this book published or not. But there are two points that always seem to come up for me. 1., If she wanted this published, why didn’t she try to find it in the 60s, the 70s, or the 80s. Why now? 2. As an author, I have many things I have worked on that I wouldn’t want published. Yes, they have a beginning, middle, and  end, but that doesn’t mean they are publishable.

Frankly, Go Set a Watchman destroyed an American classic and if I was the editor I would have burned that copy before releasing it. Yeah, I would’ve taken the bullet and gone down in history as the guy who destroyed a Lee manuscript. And I would have done it proudly. The ironic thing about this is, yes, the publisher and Lee (well, her lawyer who oversees her finances) are making truckloads of money, they have destroyed a cash cow. Mark my words, in ten years To Kill a Mockingbird will no longer be a bestseller or even taught in schools. Go Set a Watchman will destroy the yearly flow they expect from Mockingbird. It won’t happen right away, but it will happen.

Okay, that is all very doom and gloom of me. Let’s talk about happier things, because it is August and summer. Here’s one… Continue reading

New WKAR Book Review: The Given World by Marian Palaia

Current StateOn WKAR’s Current State, I reviewed The Given World, a debut work of literary fiction by Marian Palaia.

You can listen to my new review here: http://wkar.org/post/book-review-marian-palaias-given-world

If you would rather read my review, you can do so below.

Hey, did you know Current State has a podcast? If you subscribe, you can download episodes and segments (and you can find me every other Thursday). Here is a link to find it on iTunes- https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wkar-fm-current-state/id594609653?mt=2

If you would like to check out The Given World, you can find it on Amazon here. If you want to check out my other book reviews for WKAR’s Current State, you can do so via links on this page. Continue reading

Only a little longer! Book giveaway and eBook sale!

At the end of July, two things going on around my novels will come to an end. Over in the world of Goodreads, you can enter a giveaway to win an autographed copy of my latest novel Permanent Spring Showers. Two lucky readers will snag a copy. You can enter by clicking below.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Permanent Spring Showers by Scott D. Southard

Permanent Spring Showers

by Scott D. Southard

Giveaway ends July 31, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

A Jane Austen DaydreamIn the world of Amazon and Jane Austen, my novel A Jane Austen Daydream is on sale for the Kindle. You can snag a copy for just 99 cents. Grab one! Grab two! (Can you purchase two eBooks of the same book? Honestly I don’t know, it just sounded good.) Tell a friend! Tell a loved one! Tell anyone you know who likes surprising novels with hints of historical fiction and post-modern twists!  Here is the link to amazon- http://amzn.com/B00CH3HQUU

“Awesome… anything but ordinary” Booktalk with Eileen reviews Permanent Spring Showers

Paint CansSo than this happened…

My latest novel Permanent Spring Showers just got reviewed by Booktalk with Eileen (which you can check out in full here). This is one of those reviews I used to dream of as an author. There is first this:

Marvelously wrought, Mr. Southard! What an awesome story, woven meticulously perfect until it all comes together where the reader and the actors of this story have their day of reckoning.  It was one of those stories I could see read by an English Literature class and discussed for the many things it tells us about people, their motives, their fantasies, their obsessions, their human spirit.

And this:

Mr. Southard, once again you have taken my breath away.  I couldn’t believe you could write anything as good and soul enriching as A Jane Austen Daydream.  I was wrong.

And then there is this:

There were moments of chuckling, moments of tears, moments of incredulity.  The story gives us hope, the human spirit has no bounds, where the ending could very well be a new beginning, a new direction in life. Grasp it my readers, for nothing is more spectacular and mysterious as the human mind and what it is able to achieve.

You can check out the full review here. (I think I’m going to be smiling for days about this one.)

This is a great time to grab a copy of my latest work. The eBook is only $3.99! You can find it on Amazon herePermanent Spring Showers is published by 5 Prince Books. You can also find out more about it (and read an excerpt) on this page on my site.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Permanent Spring Showers by Scott D. Southard

Permanent Spring Showers

by Scott D. Southard

Giveaway ends July 31, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway