Sweetycat Press has released the cover for their upcoming anthology, “Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2021,” (of which my bio will be included). Doesn’t it look awesome? I can’t wait until it comes out in June! The cover was designed by author Priti J. Sweetycat Press is still open to submissions, so if you’re a writer and you’re interested, check out the guidelines and submit your bio!
Okay, in my previous post I mentioned that I had another story accepted for publication. I feel I can offer a little more information now. The story is entitled, “Mudbound,” and it found a home with Black Cat Mystery Magazine. Obviously it’s a mystery, it is based during the Great Depression in Indiana. I can’t wait to see it in print. I don’t have a publication date yet, but I will let you know when I do. I hope to do a magazine cover reveal post, as well as a Fun Facts post about the story.
Then this morning I learned that the bio I submitted for Sweetycat Press‘ upcoming anthology, “Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2021” was accepted. I was included in last year’s anthology and am pleased to be part of this one too. The anthology will be released in June 2021, and I’ll do a whole cover reveal post for it too when it’s available. And just so you know, Sweetycat Press is still accepting submissions for this anthology. If you’re a writer and you’re interested, check out the guidelines for submission!
A new documentary on Judy Garland was released in 2019 entitled, “Sid & Judy.” Not only does it follow Garland’s life, it also focuses on her relationship with her third husband, Sid Luft.
IMDB Description: Revealing new look at Judy Garland fifty years after her tragic, untimely death. Fusing the unpublished recollections of producer, manager and third husband, Sid Luft, with film clips, rare concert footage and Judy’s own inimitable words.
Part of the source material was from the memoir Sid Luft was working on when he died in 2005. It was remarkable to be able to watch the new clips and never-before-seen footage and home movies of Garland. There was a selection of love notes included, that Judy wrote to Sid. On the whole, it’s a good, solid documentary that doesn’t cheapen Judy Garland’s story. It’s honest about her troubles without being tacky or disrespectful. Judy and Sid were married for thirteen years, some of them were good and others were tumultuous. They had two beautiful children, Lorna and Joey Luft.
One of the best quotes from the documentary came from a conversation between Sid and another gentleman.
“Are you two still in love with each other? I don’t understand the whole relationship,” Andre Philippe asked.
“Nobody will,” Luft replied. “Nobody ever will.”
“Sid & Judy” does skimp over their divorce and the custody battle, along with the abuse allegations Judy made against Sid during their divorce proceedings. Those who viewed their union in a negative light, tended to believe Sid used Judy, lived off of her, gambled away her money, took advantage of her, etc. Sid secretly taped private conversations, which we hear in the documentary. While he did manage her career and helped engineer many of her “come backs” in the conversations, Judy and her work are discussed and agreements are made, without her consent. It’s shocking to thing a woman like Judy Garland not being allowed to manage or have input on her own affairs, but I guess it’s reflective of the 1950s and 1960s. This isn’t so much Judy’s story as it is Sid’s story of Judy. Unfortunately, Judy didn’t publish her own memoir, nor did she release a documentary on her own life. The rest of the world has taken on the job of telling her story, and we’ll have to be satisfied with those accounts of this extraordinary lady.
There are little sketched illustrations of events that crop up throughout “Sid & Judy” and I found them to be a little odd. The timeline bounces back and forth too, which can be confusing for those not familiar with Judy Garland’s life and career. The whole 1950s/1960s New York aesthetic of the documentary is amazing. Parts of the film are narrated by Jon Hamm, who is portraying Sid’s voice over. He does a decent job. Jennifer Jason Leigh subs for Judy and though she has received praise in other reviews, I was disappointed. Judy Garland had a really unique voice, and Jennifer Jason Leigh didn’t capture it and occasionally came off sounding British to me. I would have loved it if they could have gotten Tammy Blanchard or Judy Davis to voice Garland. Both actresses portrayed Judy in “Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows” (produced by Lorna Luft) and both won Emmys for their work. Also, it would have made an interesting connection between the documentary and the miniseries.
All in all, “Sid & Judy” was fun to watch. There was some profanity, references to sex, abortion, and abuse. However, a Judy Garland fan would find it fascinating, to see the World’s Greatest Entertainer in a new light. Now I may have to just pick up Sid Luft’s memoir and do a review on it.
A little over a year ago, I posted about a trip my sister, mother, and I made to the new Vigo County Historical Society. We had a fun time, checking out the new displays and then we went out to lunch. While we enjoyed ourselves, we felt tension in the air. Covid19 was sweeping across the world and was taking root in America, but we had no inclination of what we were in store for. Rumors circulated that businesses and shops and churches would be closed down. The day after our little trip, Gov. Holcomb officially shut everything down. Two weeks – then life would return to normal.
A year later, nothing is normal and though the cases tapered off for a little while, I fear we’re heading into the fourth wave of this pandemic.
The three of us have done our utmost to social distance and wear masks. Last Friday, my aunt came to visit for Easter weekend and we decided to venture out to the Vigo County Historical Society. It was early and there were only a handful of people inside, which with our masks, made us feel safe.
We took our time touring the exhibits, and we were reminded of years past. We tend to live in the past too, often reminiscing about how life used to be, and the memories we have of loved ones who since passed away. Many times over the last year, I’ve wondered what so-and-so would think of this pandemic and what they would do. I continue to return to what my grandmother used to say: “This too shall pass.”
And it will.
If history has proven anything, it’s that there is nothing new under the sun. We’ll get through this together and one day, this will be over.
Earlier this month, I announced that McCoy’s Monthly published my short historical mystery, “Tears in a Bottle.” To read it, CLICK HERE.
I thought it might be fun to share some fun facts about the story.
The title, “Tears in a Bottle,” comes from the Bible verse, Psalm 56:8. “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” A little further digging showed me that Tear Catchers were a common thing in the ancient world.
I wrote the story in a week, while I was housesitting/pet sitting for some family. It is incredibly rare for me to write that quickly.
Franceska is inspired by the Biblical Rahab.
Josef is partly inspired by the Biblical Moses and the Biblical Salmon.
I had originally thought it might make a great novel, but believe that the story ended where it needed to.
The events of “Tears in a Bottle” take place in Krakow during WWII. In June/July 2015 (oh my gosh, it’s been six years) I went to Krakow and Auschwitz-Birkenau, and what I learned there inspired this, and many other stories.
Okay, my review for “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” is loooong overdue. Apologies for that. I’ve been sidetracked with work and writing.
A couple of days after the biopic debuted on Hulu, I watched it. First of all, let me make it clear that I really didn’t know much about Billie Holiday’s personal life. I love her music and have listened to her for years, but I couldn’t begin to tell you what her personality was like or who she was romantically involved with. And I had no clue that the FBI targeted her for singing “Strange Fruit,” a song about lynching’s and racism in America, and used her drug habit against her.
Andra Day’s portrayal was extraordinary. She was mesmerizing; she deserved every award in existence for her work. She became Billie, she sounded like her, moved like her…I can’t say enough good things about her. Everyone did a wonderful job, however, this wasn’t an easy biopic to watch. America’s sins are front and center -as it should be. No excuses. Racism is steeped in our history, culture, and way of life. Like many singers and movie stars of that era, Billie Holiday was a drug addict. Her drug use and related behavior is shown. The profanity is heavy, as is the nudity, and her abusive relationships, so this is not for family friendly viewing.
I can handle that. What I felt detracted from the movie was the romance between Billie and James Fletcher. James Fletcher did exist, he was an FBI agent, he did betray Billie and later in life he deeply regretted his actions. In the book the movie is based on, the author speculated that James Fletcher fell in love with Billie. But there is no evidence that Billie loved him in return or that they had this heartbreaking romance.
This happens often in biopics and bio-novels. We have a historic figure and a relationship is created, either using another person in that historic figure’s life, or a fictional character is added. Then we have this grand, sweeping romance that in all likelihood didn’t happen. I don’t like it. I feel it takes away from the historic figure’s life and characterization.
We could have gotten to know Billie on a deeper level, her interests, passions, beliefs, etc. We could have learned more about her family. We could have been better informed of her triumphs. Instead, we had this sort-of entertaining romance that we knew was doomed from the start. I was left feeling that something was missing. This might just be me, I don’t know.
One of the poignant parts of “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” was how in 1937 a bill to ban the lynching of blacks was brought before the senate. In 2020, the Emmet Till Anti-lynching Act was once more considered by the senate. It has yet to pass.
I can’t wait to see what Andra Day does next and I’ll continue to follow her career from here on out.
I just learned that my short story, “Tears In a Bottle,” is has been published and is available to read on the McCoy’s Monthly website. It’s a historical mystery, and for those wary of “edgier” fiction, I would say this is a PG-13 kind of story. Just wanted to give you a heads up about that.
I learned this afternoon that my short historical mystery, “Tears In a Bottle” was accepted for publication at McCoy’s Monthly! Date of publication has yet to be determined, but I’ll let you know.
Needless to say, I’m in a good mood. This piece of news came as a surprise. A very welcome surprise. I haven’t had an acceptance since last fall. And though 2020 was lucrative year in regards to my literary career, the last couple of months I had begun to fear that I was simply lucky before and am a no talent hack. But as writers and creators, we can’t give into our doubts. We must persevere and continue to hope. You never know what’s around the corner.
It happens: a publication that featured your work has gone under. These are hard economic times and new publications struggle to compete against older, well-known publications. Well, heck, even the older, well-known publications struggle to maintain readership, etc. This has happened a handful of times to me. Nothing makes me happier than to have a story or an article of mine appear in print. Then, months or years down the line I hear the sad news: Such-And-Such Press is closing their doors.
It can be frustrating too. Your work was published, but you can’t exactly prove it as the publication no longer exists. So you can’t reference it in your cover letters. I continue to list the publications on my site because I’m still proud of them and they mean something to me, even if they are forgotten.
My first short piece of fiction, “A Grave Discovery” was published in New Zenith Magazine, which ceased publication six months after being in print. It was my first attempt at a murder mystery, inspired by a real event in my own life. Maybe one of these days I can find another home for it.
“Edge of Darkness” was a short ebook published by Alban Lake Publishing. It was the first story accepted after a year long drought from publication. The three people who bought it and read it, liked it. Unfortunately, a year later Alban Lake Publishing closed its doors. Oh well.
Way back in 2017, I guest blogged on The Artist Unleashed. The article on my struggles with writing, it, too, no longer exists.
There are also what I call “cancelled” publications. A piece of writing has been accepted for publication and the contract has been signed, but the press folds before the story appears in print. That has happened to me too. Then, there is what happened to me last year. A story was accepted and it seemed like a guarantee, then the publication “forgot” about my story (despite my contacting them about it) and it was not included in the finished product.
But that’s part of the perils and pitfalls of the publishing experience. You take a chance when you submit your work to a publication. You persevere through the rejections, get an acceptance, and hope the process goes smoothly. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. However, you continue because it’s your heart’s desire.