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Great Feedback About my Fiction Books!

Author Ronald Joseph Kule

Haunted Robots took me to the edge of my chair again and again. This fast-paced story got under my skin and explored what was “under” the skins of robots, androids and military types – a classic battle of who takes control of the future! An entertaining read that may keep you up at night.” — Tracy Repchuk, 8-time #1 international best-selling author & Linked In Influencer

“Very intriguing… good, fast reading right from the start. I was taken into a world I intend to stay in all the way to the back cover and possibly beyond.” – Billie Wegmann, Executive Director, Celebrity Centre, Munich, Germany

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“Ruined by Murder Addicted to Love… What a pleasure it was to find all this love and adventure in one book! I couldn’t put it down, stirred to find out what would happen next!”  — Sally Nutter, Entertainer, Sacramento, CA

“An ambitious book that tackles mankind’s biggest problem — how to find true love. To categorize this story as simply a romance would be an injustice. This one’s unlike any other I have ever read. You might just fall in love with it.” — DAVID CARUS, Entertainment Producer, Austin, TX

 

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“‘THUNDERCLOUD (The Oddities of a Young Man’s Journey to Manhood)’ is a stunning novel! I am enjoying it very much and I loved reading about the shoofly pie – the first time I have heard about it! :).” – Jean Hughes, avid Vermont book-reader

 

 

You can find my fiction books here

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Wonderful Voicercise Testimonials

“This is our first experience with voice lessons, and we have been extremely happy with the progress our daughter has made in singing. First and foremost, our daughter enjoys lessons with Roxy and looks forward to her weekly lessons.

Secondly, we have seen a confidence growing inside of our Elena due to the lessons. Roxy is personable, genuine, professional and above all a delight and the best to work with, we love her!”  E.R.

 

“She’s the Best Vocal Coach in Pinellas County!”

“Awesome vocal coach. Helps you work with what you have and gives you the tools and support to drastically improve on the kind of music YOU wanna sing.” J.D.

 

“We reached out to Roxy to help our seven year old daughter prepare for a Shine Talent Show in Orlando. Within a few lessons, we noticed the difference on her voices range.

Before, she would go up on stage, hold the mic, look at everyone and cry. We had no idea at that point she had stage fright.

We contacted Roxy and explained the issue we encountered.

Roxy simply said, “We can fix that.” Sure enough at her next recital with Roxy, Bianca performed AMAZINGLY. So much confidence built, we couldn’t believe it!

Roxy is positive, energetic, patient, calm, experienced and accommodating. I just can’t say enough positive things about her!” B.T.C.

“I used to not be able to hear the notes, and now I know the steps to follow to make sure I am singing on key.

I didn’t think that would ever happen.

Voicercise knows exactly what you need and when you need it.

From the moment she hears, she’s like “Okay, alright this is what you need.”

It’s an awesome feeling, now when I sing at my church, people turn around and tell me they’ve noticed an improvement and ask me what I’m doing. ” W.O.W.

Visit Voicercise to find out more!

 

 

 

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“Different Doors” by Michael Graves

The image is copyrighted by its owner. I have no idea who this is, and no infringement is intended. I did a search on tineye.com and was unable to locate any attribution information. If you know of any, I would appreciate finding out about it. Thanks!

“Different Doors”

Art is a competitive event
only among fools.

Do not concern yourself with those
who create what you do not. No matter
the brilliance of their light.
For they do not create
as you would create.

There is no competition among artists.
There are only different doors.
Other roads.
Windows that open
onto a different land.

The world that you create
is yours. And its vistas
are like no others.

Share it
or not.
It is your decision.
And only yours.

Do not be concerned
that what you create
will be less than that
of another – or more.

For in that direction lies
only death; or worse:
the decision to not create.

You are born of the raging winds
the mirrored pool
and the winding road that never ends.
You reside in that highest place
that looks out on vistas
which only you can see.

You are the only one
who will bring them home.
Or not.
As you decide.

–Graves 8/7/15

I am happy to announce that my book “Messages in a Bottle: Communications to My Future Self” took one of the top awards given by the Colorado Independent Publishers Association in 2018. Find out more about it, and about my book “Reflections on a Crystal Wind” at:

https://www.michaelgravespoet.com/

DOWNLOAD A FREE E-BOOK OF MY POETRY! (it’s easy):

1) Just click this link. https://hugohousepublishers.com/…/messages-bottle-paperback/

2) Then, click on the button that says: Free E-Book “A Glimpse Beyond”.

3) Download onto your phone, iPad or computer. “A Glimpse Beyond” downloads in Kindle, iBooks and other formats for your convenience.

Copyright © 2015 by Michael Graves, All Rights Reserved, except the right to forward and to share with friends – with credit — which is held to be a good idea and is thus encouraged.

Find more of Michael Graves’ poetry on MeWe at:
https://mewe.com/p/michaelgraves-poet

And on Instagram at: #mg_poet

The image is copyrighted by its owner. I have no idea who this is, and no infringement is intended. I did a search on tineye.com and was unable to locate any attribution information. If you know of any, I would appreciate finding out about it. Thanks!

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Masterworks of light and shadow by Chuck Rosenthal

When you see the still life painting by Chuck Rosenthal titled “Fruit Harvest #5” at his website gallery, it seems as though you can feel the textures.  Of course, if you touch the painting, you will only feel paint, but the thick, rough gold and purple cloth with smooth, cool purple grapes resting on it, brings up the feelings in the mind.  The artist’s concept and execution of the painting is very real.

A Rosenthal still life is a masterwork of light and shadow, contrast of color and texture.  To fully get the idea, you have to see the paintings. His comments on his own still life work were, “My preference for still life is in the fact that I am in complete control of the placement of the elements and the light. I am influenced by very good painters when I seek to do anything. I picture the works that they have done and try to keep in mind those really fine works that I have seen when I’m working. I’m always looking for contrasts.”

He says he is continually looking for things that are “visually exciting.”  That could include people or landscapes and the way the light falls at a particular time in a particular kind of weather.

When asked what inspires him to paint, the artist said, “Contrasts; light and shade, contrasts of form (e.g. a broad, nondescript stretch of sky with strong geometric shapes silhouetted against it), counterpoint in the composition, subtleties of light, atmospheric effects on objects and in general, strong drawing, objects receding into shadow and then erupting into the light.”

In 1963 Chuck Rosenthal set out to become a commercial artist. He studied at the National Academy of Design in New York City. He wanted to learn how to draw in order to do illustrations, but three months of study caused the idea of commercial art to go out the window and he decided to pursue fine art. Part of this decision was due to his teacher and mentor, Morton Roberts, who was an excellent illustrator and fine artist himself.

Many awards came his way for his artwork while he was at the National Academy. A scholarship to the academy and the Dr. Weller student prize were at the top of the list. In 1968 he gained membership to America’s oldest and most venerated arts and letters club, the Salmagundi Club, through efforts of another of his teachers, Daniel Greene.

Since the year 2000, several awards at local art shows have come his way, including two first places and a third place. One of his paintings hangs at Clearwater City Hall. His pastel work of a local landmark, Clearwater Memorial Bridge was selected for an international juried competition.

Several of his paintings are on exhibit at the Park Place Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri.  You can see his present works on his website Chuck Rosenthal Fine Art.

 

 

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Honesty and Creativity

My musical journey started when I was around the age of three, I guess. My grandfather had an old out-of-tune upright piano in the spare room at my grandparent’s house, where I’d spend hours hammering the keys and generally making a racket. I loved the sound that it made. I have never figured out why until recently, but it sounded friendly, and even though it was, as stated previously, out-of-tune, it sounded “honest”. It was like someone who liked to sing just for the fun of it and didn’t mind their own limitations and imperfections.I loved that piano. It was one of my best friends. 

I’d spend timeless Saturday afternoons not only hammering out discordant versions of “Popeye the Sailor” (the first tune I ever learned!), but I’d lift the lid at the top, stick my hand in and scrape the strings with anything I could find – usually cutlery, much to my grandmother’s disapproval. I’d open up the front panel above the pedals and hit the strings with sticks from the garden. The stranger the sounds the better!

 

Then at the age of five my Grandfather let me listen to an album he had just bought. It was Jean Michel Jarre’s “Equinoxe” (if you have never listened to it you should check it out!) The year was 1978. Like most great albums on hearing them for the first time, it blew my mind. It was as if someone had dumped a whole pile of TNT onto that little flame that was my imagination. 

 

KABOOM!!!

 

The music was beautiful but it wasn’t that. It was those sounds! I had never heard anything like it. Immediately on listening I saw strange other-worldly landscapes, I visualized strange half-animal, half-machine beings who dived off high cliffs into purple oceans, or flew across green skies, or squelched around blue mud, or, or, or……my mind raced every time I listened to it. Those sounds! Sonic sunrises glistening on ethereal vapour oceans as metallic birds shot lasers off of high altitude clouds.

I’ll be forever grateful to my Grandfather for introducing me to my own musical journey in such a way.

 

Perhaps I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, I had learned something very important. Well, for me anyway:

 

Sound is as important as the music it carries. 

 

Sure, this album could have been played by an orchestra or a rock band and it probably would have sounded good either way, but I doubt that it would have painted the same dreamscapes in my mind or evoked the same wonder. It was the synthesizers and their sounds that painted those particular scenes. Or rather, I used those unique tones to paint my own pictures!

 

Growing up, I listened to a lot of different styles. My Mum often played Simon and Garfunkel, or Joan Baez in the house, my Dad played ELO. Lots, of ELO! But again, I was always aware of the sound. S&G had a warmth, like a cosy blanket, ELO had a rhythmic energy that would shake me out of bed when my Dad played their records late at night. Even forty years down the line, I swear sometimes that I can hear THAT bassline to “Livin’ Thing” as I try to get to sleep.

 

Over the years, I explored many genres but  I kept coming back to that recurring idea – it’s the sound that I love. Of course I love the music also. But what I mean for example is, listening to recordings of someone like Woody Guthrie, there’s tape hiss in the background and audio distortions due to less sophisticated recording equipment back then. This is as important as his songs. The imperfections take us back. It’s like listening to an old memory – something you forgot that you ever remembered in the first place! And it sounds kind of honest. It’s not trying to be something that is isn’t. Mowtown wouldn’t be “Mowtown” without its own slight distortion (you can hear that often in the vocals) . 80’s synthpop would never be if it were void of its over the top “sparkle”. Heavy rock would sound…well, a lot less heavy without guitar feedback. These things that I speak of isn’t the music, but it IS “the music”! It’s the soul.

 

Melodies, basslines, harmonies, chord structures. Of course these elements of a song are vital. This is the communication of the song. The sound however is the quality of the communication. And I feel we’re often misled into thinking that by “good quality of communication” we mean a super clear, sharp, crisp, sonically perfect sound. Although we may find the principle of that appealing, in actuality it loses something. Take a listen to a lot of today’s music. There’s no tape hiss, there’s no microphone distortion – and if there is it’s deliberate. Everything, the drums, the guitars, the vocals, they’re all as “perfect” as they can be. Too perfect. There are many incredibly technically talented singers out there today with fantastic range and control over their voices. But when I listen to Johnny Cash (especially in the recordings he made just before his death), the gravel in his voice, his croak, his limited range (by today’s standards), the imperfections in his voice tell a story of a lifetime of ups and downs, highs and lows, successes and failures. It gives his songs soul. I mean REAL soul. He’s not trying to be anyone he’s not. The songs have “honesty”

 

I’m a recording artist, or a musician, or whatever. I normally tell people who ask that “I write and produce music”. That’s it. Sometimes I’m fortunate enough to make money from my art, sometimes I’m not. I used to get really bogged down with searching for this “sonic perfection”. Mixing tracks would take days, weeks sometimes. I lost sight of myself in the mix. It was as if spending all my energy in eliminating the imperfections I was extracting my soul from the music. My creativity lost its sparkle. I started writing less music as I felt that ultimately I’d end up disappointed with the final product. So I stopped focusing on production values too much and took the approach that some things are just meant to sound the way they are. (I’m not trying to justify not doing a good job with my art. My production techniques are at least competent and I still strive to create a good product. I just decided not to get hung up on spending days on “perfecting” a high hat, or obsessing over the level of one piano note in a whole song.)

 

When I did this I found that my creativity not only came back, it washed over me like a tidal wave of ideas! I splashed around in eddies and rip-tides of creativity. Over one weekend I wrote seven pieces of music. I even put paintbrush to canvas for the first time in years and completed two paintings. I experimented with field recordings, used sounds that I hadn’t used before. The seriousness had washed away and the fun and excitement came back like bright sunshine breaking through grey skies. My music started painting pictures in my mind again. Like an aesthetic feedback loop, idea followed idea. I found myself again. I was being me, an artist and not a technician. The excitement that I felt when I was five and listening to “Equinoxe” with my Grandfather once more embraced me. My music was “honest”.

 

I guess that none of us are perfect and maybe those imperfections in our work is actually part of our identity, our spirit, our uniqueness. And maybe the obsession with perfection of production was in some way like standing in front of a mirror and being disappointed because I didn’t like my reflection. Whatever happened, I realized that creativity and art should be fun and exciting, and you should not feel self conscious about the beautiful things you create. Have fun, lots of it, and go make wonderful things!

 

Colin McNeil