Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Return of Did You Know


Life stuff happens and makes for some re-prioritizing 🙂 I’m bringing back several of the features now that some of the “Stuff” has calmed down. Vicky Burkholder has been doing an awesome job with Wordy Wednesday so it’s time for me to step up and get back into the game. We have some awesome guests coming up and I hope you’ll give them a look.

So, on to Did You Know…

Carrying the bride over the threshold… Why is this done? I found an article at HowStuffWorks that says in some cultures it was to protect the bride from seeming too eager to lose her virginity! In other it was believed to be bad luck if the bride tripped going into her new house so the man carried her to keep that from happening. And in other cultures it appears that oftentimes the best man was actually their to keep an unwilling bride or her family from taking off. He was like a shield between the groom and the angry in laws and a barrier for the bride not to leave. Because kidnapping could and did go hand in hand with weddings (thank goodness times have changed!) carrying a bride over the threshold was part of this stealing her away theme.

What about the ring on the left hand and ring finger? Well, this one I had heard before. Ancient cultures believed that the vein in that finger goes directly to your heart and so the ring placed on that particular finger signified your spouse being in your heart.

I’ve also heard that long ago bride’s carried flowers to hide the smell of not bathing. Back in the day people did not have showers of regular baths. Most everyone took a bath in the spring when the weather and water was warmer so your wedding was in May right after you took a bath and you carried flowers just in case you forgot to scrub behind your ears!

What traditions do you know the origin of? Share!


For Want of a Period (or comma, or other punctuation)


Shoot Jack.

 That’s what my dad was yelling when he was hunting with my two brothers. Question is, was he telling my younger brother, Jack, to shoot? Or my older brother to commit fratricide?  Or is it a statement of frustration?

 Okay, bad example. Try this one: Try it on Otis.

Do you mean to say: Try it on, Otis. As in having your friend Otis try on a piece of clothing?

Or: Try it on Otis. As in – try to pull a fast one over on Otis (or some other thing you want poor Otis to get stuck with?

 And we’ve all heard about “Eats shoots and leaves” – Let’s hope there’s no comma in there or we might be dealing with a hungry gunman.

 Punctuation. As soon as I say the word (or write it in this case), I see eyes glaze over and people find other places they need to be in a hurry. But without punctuation, things can get real confusing real fast, as seen in the above.

 Unfortunately, not everyone agrees on the proper way to punctuate things. To keep from muddying the waters too much, I’m going to use American standard for this blog and my manual of choice is the Chicago Manual of Style. Why do I need to state this? Because different countries have different ways of punctuating things. And different style guides even differ on their rules. Though most publishers lean toward the Chicago Manual of Style, many of them have their own style guides that may deviate somewhat from even that standard of style.

 So why should we care about punctuation? Because it helps clarify the meaning of sentences. Take the above. Without punctuation, there can be multiple meanings to the sentences. And you can’t always get the gist of the sentence with the context of surrounding writing. It can also convey emotion. For instance, the ending punctuations of periods, question marks, and exclamation marks.

 You failed the test.

You failed the test?

You failed the test!

 Hmmm. The first could be a teacher with a student. Or one girlfriend talking to another about a pregnancy test. Then the second is a boyfriend’s reaction. Or the third is a husband’s reaction. By changing just that one little thing – the end punctuation – the entire meaning of the sentence is changed.

 Then there’s the common little comma. As a dozen people about where to place commas and you’ll get a dozen different opinions. I’m not even going to try to explain them because the rules are different with different houses. But generally (and I’m using the term loosely), commas go between lists of things, after prepositional phrases, or wherever there’s a pause. Follow whatever style your house uses.

 There’s a lot more to punctuation than just these few things. I’ll go into some more of them in a later blog, but please, do yourself, your editor, and your readers a favor and learn how to use punctuation.


Music: Klezwoods!



_ (3)Today we bring you Klezwoods! I had the awesome opportunity to see them in Harrisburg, PA several months ago and they rocked! They will be in Lancaster, PA on June 28th if there is anyway you can see them. I guarantee you’ll have a good time!

How would you describe your sound?
  We play traditional and original music based on the Klezmer, Eastern European and Balkan styles with a modern twist.

Do you all write music for the group or is it just one or two of you?
  We all collaborate for every song.  A few of us write full original songs specifically for this band as well.  Sometimes one member will have a very specific idea of what he or she wants and we follow their wishes as best we can.  Other times we just start playing and see what comes up!  It is a very interesting process and as long as we are all open and respectful, wonderful things happen.

Do you come up with the music or the words first?
  Since most of our music is instrumental we don’t usually have to think of lyrics.  We have some new tunes in the works that have vocals, which usually come after the melody is created.

Do you have a favorite song of yours?
  My personal favorite song that we play right now is one of the guitar player’s original melodies, called Play To Win.  Very intricate melodies and harmonies with some real fun improvisation break-downs.  I also really like the classic Israeli dance tune, Harmonika.  It’s a very joyful melody that is very easy to dance to.

Who would you consider an influence on your music?

  We have many influences, which makes for our uniqie sound.  Some notable influences are The Klezmer Conservatory Band, Balkan Beat Box, Slavic Soul Party, Neftule’s Dream, John Zorn, Shlomo  Carlebach, Gogol Bordello and many more.

There is such enthusiasm and energy at your shows. How do you keep that going so often?

  Every last member of our group loves the music we create.  We also draw a lot of inspiration from playing, talking and hanging out with each other on the road and in the rehearsal room.  There are some seriously talented players in this band that have such modesty and easy-going attitudes you would never guess where they have been and who they have played (and still play) with.  We also are genuinely fun and nice people that really like each other…which in the history of bands is pretty rare!

I about fell over in joy when I saw you have a tuba player. That’s not always an onstage kind of thing. What made you decide that this instrument would be a good mix with your other horns?

How can you go wrong with a tuba? Seriously!  Well…you can, but not with this guy.  Our tuba player, Jim Gray, is one of those musicians I mentioned in the last answer.  His playing, attitude, professionalism and maturity as a musician and person are second to none.  As soon as he expressed interest we snagged him immediately!

I love that you often have belly dancers at the show. How did that come about?
I tour off and on with a Gypsy band from my hometown of Portland, OR called The Underscore Orkestra.  We travel with some incredible belly dancers and I got to know the style and some of the dancers very well.  One of the Orkestra’s dancers, Bevin Victoria (a.k.a. Hybrid), ended up moving out to Boston and we’ve never looked back.  We also have worked with many local Boston-based dancers (Cassandra) and other performing artists over the years that add another element to the shows for special occasions.

What do you aim to make people feel when they listen to your music?
Joy!  We hit a lot of different emotions at a Klezwoods show, and this is naturally my favorite.  Whether you like dancing melodies, weaving and technically impressive runs, emotive improvisation or just like watching a group of people playing music and having a blast together, we got the show for you.

What’s next for you and when can I expect a new CD?
We have tours and one off performances all over The Northeast this Summer and Fall and some festivals in the works for the following year.  The Lancaster City Festival on June 28th is the next local Central PA show, which we are really excited to play.  We recently released our second album so no new one for at least another year.  But this recent album (The 30th Meridian: From Cairo To St. Petersburg With Love) is our pride and joy, so check it out!

Do any of you sing in the shower?

I do…can’t speak for the others but I would imagine most likely

Link for audio:

Jubilee Day!



Every year my town of Mechanicsburg, PA, is home to the largest one-day street fair in the eastern United States!  In 1923, the fair was started on the third Thursday of June as an agricultural and merchants ‘thank you’ for the support of the community.  It continues on today as a great tradition. We usually have about 60,000 people show up in our little burg to enjoy food, games, art, music and the community. This year is no different.


There are also rides and lots of great vendors and info. I love that this still goes on in our town. Parking can be a pain in the keister but there are churches in the area where you can park and then they’ll bus you in. We always go in the morning then take a nap (LOL) then go back for the afternoon. Several stages are set up for music and the great art gallery on Market is open, so is the Rosemary House, home to adorable garden pixies.

I’m rocking the Main Street.

Do you have any traditions in your town that are long standing?

Try This Tuesday!


For the past few months I’ve started every morning by stating that something amazing will happen today. There is truly something to this mantra. Something amazing has happened every day for almost two months. Little things, big things, medium things. Some days it is harder to pinpoint the something amazing but ever single day I have found it. Every day. That in itself is amazing.

I think often it’s what you put out there that you get back. So start each day with Something Amazing will happen or your own variation. See what happens. I’d love to hear how and if it is working for you.


A picture paints a thousand words…


Cover art is a touchy subject for many authors. Like the titles I talked about last week, cover art can pull you in, or push you away. It is often the first selling point of a book – and there’s the rub as Shakespeare would say.

Every single one of the publishers I’ve worked for has said that the cover art does not necessarily have to convey what the story is about. It doesn’t have to portray the characters correctly, nor does it have to show a scene from the story. It is a selling tool, period. It is meant to get a customer to pick up the book. The title and the blurb take it from there, but it is the cover art that pulls them to the shelf in the first place.

So what’s an author to do? Many times, our publishers give us forms to fill out that will give the artists an idea of what our story is about, the time period, the genre, and even the main characters (described in as few words as possible). It is then up to the artist to create a cover that coveys those items and still sell the book. I’ve often dealt with authors – and had to face the facts myself – that what comes back isn’t what we pictured. But we are rarely given the chance to make changes. What we get is what we get. And sometimes, we’re not even given the forms. Many larger publishers just give you the cover without you having an input.

Then there are the self-publishing covers. Though not all are bad – some are actually quite good – but some are so cartoonish and amateurish that they detract from the book. You look at the mish-mash that is one of these covers and think “how good can this book be if it looks this bad”?

So the selling points of a book are title, cover art… and then the blurb. We’ll talk about them next week.

What makes a good cover for you? What makes you say “Wow!” when it comes to a cover?


What’s in a name? Or title?


I was at work at the bookstore today, doing the things you do at a bookstore – straightening shelves, putting mis-filed books back where they belonged, etc. And I started noticing titles and cover art on many of the fiction books. After I finished the shelves, I opened a box of ARCs (these are “Advanced Reader Copies” of books that come from the publishers to bookstores for, hopefully, favorable reviews.) Not all of them have blurbs or cover art, but all of them do have a title. So it got me to wondering… what is it that draws us to pick up a book and, perhaps, purchase it?

With ARCs that have no cover art or blurbs, the first thing that has to draw you is the title. So what makes a good title? Shakespeare said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The same can be said for books. The text of a book is the same no matter what the title is. But a good title can make or break a book.

 Take for instance, the title “Trimalchio in West Egg”. Would you ever pick up that book? I know I wouldn’t. And yet, that’s what F. Scott Fitzgerald called “The Great Gatsby” (among other things – he had several for this story).  Or what about “The Sentimental Education of Frederick Henry”? Ever heard of Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms”? (Note: I’ve pasted some others below.)

 The point is, the original titles were…uninteresting at best. So what makes a good title? For me, it has to not only convey a sense of the story, but not overwhelm. Once you’ve gone beyond three or four words, you’ve gone too far. Yes, I know there are good titles out there that are longer, but if you look at most books, their titles are short.

 A title also has to be intriguing and unique. In today’s world of tweets and blurbs and Google, you don’t want something that is so common, nobody will find it. But not so unique that nobody can spell/pronounce/understand it. There’s a very fine balance that must be achieved for a title to work well.

 So, tell me, what are some of your favorite titles? And why do you like them? What drew you to them?

 Next week, we’ll talk about cover art.


 Other Original Titles:

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was The Last Man in Europe. And his Animal Farm was going to be Animal Farm: A Fairy Story, A Satire, or A Contemporary Satire

Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises was originally called Fiesta.

W. Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage was Beauty from Ashes.

Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace was All’s Well That Ends Well. (hmmm – I think Shakespeare might have had an issue with that!)

Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind was going to be Tomorrow Is Another Day OR: Not In Our Stars OR: Tote the Weary Load OR: Bugles Sang True.(Like Scarlett, she really couldn’t make up her mind, I guess).

Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead was originally titled Second-Hand Lives.

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was originally titled simply Atticus.

JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series was originally titled The War of the Ring.

Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front was originally translated Nothing New in the West (a direct translation of the German).

Carson McCullers’s The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter was originally titled The Mute.

John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men was originally titled Something That Happened.

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was originally titled First Impressions.

Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden was originally titled Mistress Mary.

William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was originally titled Strangers From Within.