For the Love of Laura Beth by Aubrey Wynne The Korean War destroyed their plans, but the battle at home may shatter their hearts... Laura Beth Walters fell in love with Joe McCall when she was six years old. Now she is counting the days until Joey graduates from college so they can marry and begin their life together. But the Korean War rips their neatly laid plans to shreds. Instead of a college fraternity, Joey joins a platoon. Laura Beth trades a traditional wedding for a quick trip to the courthouse. The couple endure the hardship of separation, but the true battle is faced when Joey returns from the war. Their marriage is soon tested beyond endurance. Laura must find a way to accept the tragedy thrown in their path or lose the love that has kept them anchored for so long. With a determination that only comes from the heart, Joe relentlessly fights an invisible enemy...for the love of Laura Beth. Praise for For the Love of Laura Beth Warmth, compassion, heartache, faithfulness and more are emotions you will experience as you read this. I was completely immersed in this Korean War era tale, the historical details making the story come alive. Aubrey Wynne did an awesome job with this Historical book. Thank you Aubrey Wynne for a very beautifully written story!! An emotional read about the life, fears, and love during the Korean War! Aubrey Wynne begins each chapter with a thought-provoking quote. As a Midwesterner, who often visited Chicago in the 1950s, this romance includes well-researched historical details about Chicago, the era, and journalism. Aubrey Wynne blends history with a nicely paced full of family dynamics love story. EXCERPT Excerpt 1: “Men always want to be woman’s first love – women like to be a man’s last romance.” Oscar Wilde Chapter One Late April 1949 Kankakee, south of Chicago It was the kind of first kiss all girls dreamed of, hoped for, and rarely received. The kind of first kiss a girl saw in the movies or read in romance novels. The kind of first kiss a girl only whispered about because the moment was too precious to share. A moment Laura Beth Walters had waited over ten years for. She sighed and leaned her cheek into the hand that still cupped her face, afraid to open her eyes. Joe put his forehead against hers. “So this is love.” Her lips still tingled from his touch. Her heart clamored against her chest. She wondered briefly if life would ever be this sweet again. Yes, this was love. She’d known it since first grade, but Mom said boys were a bit slower in the cleverness department. She peeked through her lashes and looked into his deep chocolate eyes. His lids were half closed, and a sated smile played on his lips, as if he’d just tasted something heavenly. Me, she thought wickedly. The moon threw shadows across his strong jaw and square chin. He was the most handsome boy in Kankakee. No, in the state of Illinois. No, in the entire Midwest. “Yes, Mr. McCall, I do believe it’s love.” She ran her fingertips down his cheek, the coarse, dark stubble bristly on her skin. Warmth spiraled through her with the intimate gesture. “What do you think?” “I think I understand why my mom smiled at me, and my pa thumped me on the shoulder when I left tonight.” Joe moved his hands around her waist, pulling her close. “So your parents will let you go to the prom with a senior?” Laura shrugged, trying for poise but failing miserably when the grin would not leave her face. Daddy had been reluctant to let her date. Her mother had come to the rescue, convincing him that sixteen was old enough to date a boy they trusted. The McCalls lived down the street and owned the local mechanic shop. Joe was a hardworking, polite boy. Their families attended neighborhood barbecues, community, and school functions together. “I’m practically a senior.” “And Roger Willard will be practically comatose if he ever buys you another soda. I saw him giving you the eye last week.” He leaned closer and whispered in her ear. “I don’t know how I missed you graduating from the Bobbysox Brigade and becoming such a dish, but I’m crazy about you now.” Their first date had come about by accident. She had been at the drug store, having a malt with a group of friends early last March. Tuesdays and Saturdays were her favorite days because Joe worked then. He looked so handsome in his white hat and jacket—like a sailor or a doctor. Laura had ordered a strawberry malt and was waiting for Joe to make it. He’d rubbed her head, still treating her like a child. “Give me a minute, kid.” “I’ll buy that,” Roger said to Joe as he slid onto the stool next to her. Joe had nodded and glanced over his shoulder, a puzzled expression on his face as he took in the other boy. “Nah, I got it for her.” “I said I’ll buy Laura Beth the malt,” Roger had repeated through clenched teeth. Joe, a scowl on his face, had set the malt on the counter with a thud that made the other girls giggle. “Fine. Like I care who buys it for her.” But Joe had rubbernecked from across the counter while the teenager tipped his head close to Laura’s and made her laugh. He studied Roger, then his sweet childhood friend, and then frowned at the boy as if something was definitely off. She knew the second it hit him, recognized the shock on his face. “You’re sweet on her. Sweet on my little Laura Beth.” He shook his head and then looked at her again, as if for the first time. “I’m done here in half an hour. Wait for me,” Joe had said, with a glower at Roger. “Sure, Joey, I’ll wait,” she replied in her sweetest voice, and then continued to talk Roger. Excerpt 2: “Son, you’ve got some mail.” The tone of his father’s voice sent a chill through Joey. He looked over his shoulder, straightened up, and smacked his head on the hood of the Crosley station wagon. Rubbing his scalp then wiping oily hands on his overalls, he took the envelope with an official-looking seal in the corner. Joe held it as if it were poison. “Do you want me to open it, son?” He shook his head, the pulse beating rapidly in his neck. With trembling fingers, he tore at the paper. The words blurred as he sunk onto the bumper of the pickup. “It’s a conscription notice,” he whispered, looking into his father’s terrified eyes. “I’m being drafted.” “It’s my fault.” Max let out a moan and lowered himself onto the bumper. “If I hadn’t spent your college tuition, you’d be in school right now.” “It’s nobody’s fault, Pa. You served your time, and now it’s my turn.” He waved the letter in the air. “Maybe we’ll end up with matching limps.” It was a bad attempt at humor, and he wanted to take the words back as soon as they left his mouth. Unlike many of his friends, Joe did not have any romantic ideas about soldiering. His father had been straight up with him about the horrors of war. “I just pray you come back, boy, and you don’t have to live through what I did.” The lines on his father’s face seemed to have deepened in the last five minutes. He swiped his palms at his eyes and squeezed Joe’s arm. “When do you go?” “It says I report for my physical January 2 at ten o’clock.” Maybe he wouldn’t see active combat. He wasn’t chicken, but his father still screamed at night once in awhile. His mother had said they were night terrors left over from WWII. “I do have a skill, Pa. I’m sure they need mechanics.” “That’s true, son. Maybe they’ll have you keep those jeeps running for the generals.” He forced a chuckle. “Go on and get out of here now. It’s Friday night and you’ve got a purty little gal to take to the movie.” An awkward silence ensued as both men stared at the floor. Laura Beth. How would he tell her? It was bad enough they had to postpone their wedding, but now this? It was just plain bad luck. And they’d all had enough of that for one year. The thought of the tears welling up in those clear, blue eyes made his blood cold. She’d been their pillar these past months, and now he would break her heart. “I’ll get cleaned up, I guess.” Joe headed to the door then stopped. Without turning around he said, “She’s really gonna flip, Pa. I think telling her might be as hard as going.” In a thick voice, Max tried to offer some comfort. “The only thing worse than war was losing your mother, but Laura Beth is a strong young woman and loyal as they come. She won’t give up on you, and it wouldn’t be fair not to let her know right away. So go on now and get ‘er done.” Author Aubrey Wynne Bestselling and award-winning author Aubrey Wynne resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule and barn cats. She is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. Obsessions include history, travel, trail riding and all things Christmas. Her short stories, Merry Christmas, Henry and Pete's Mighty Purty Privies have won Readers Choice Awards. Dante's Gift and Paper Love received the 2016 Golden Quill, Aspen Gold, Heart of Excellence and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. In addition to her Chicago Christmas novellas, Aubrey will release two more Regency romances in 2019. Once Upon A Widow series will officially launch in March 2019, the Wicked Earls’ Club will release again just in time for the holidays. I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. 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December 1st to 21stCould you use an extra $300 this holiday season? This awesome group of authors & bloggers have joined together to make that possible for one lucky reader. A huge thanks to our sponsors for making this giveaway possible. Sponsor List I Am A Reader Clean Wholesome Romance Julie Coulter Bellon Sally Britton Krysten Lindsay Hager Coupons and Freebies Mom BookHounds Rachel Magee author B.B. Shepherd Author Krystal M. Anderson Rockin' Book Reviews Author Dorothy Dreyer Lori's Reading Corner Laurisa White Reyes, Author I'm All About Books Kim Koby Simple Wyrdings All the Ups and Downs D.A. Roach Michele Wilder, Author Every Free Chance Books Win Book Money My Life. One Story at a Time. Donna Amis Davis Beauty in the Binding Blog JeanBookNerd Author Crystal Marcos Zapkode Marie Author Jess Heileman Giveaway Details $300 Amazon Gift Code or $300 in PayPal Cash Ends 12/21/18 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner may be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, BookBub, Instagram, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader & Clean Wholesome Romance and is sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway
Sacred Holidays by Becky Kiser
Sacred Holidays has you look at the holidays in a different way—instead of focusing on your to do list to make the holidays the perfect Facebook post picture, the book suggests framing it in a different context and find Jesus in them. The book is set up in sections dealing with coping with stress, a chapter for each different holiday (including birthdays), and sections that deal with things like grief. The holiday chapters have charts and areas for making lists, too.
Kiser delves into areas like the fact some Christians are uncomfortable with celebrating Halloween and her own issues with Valentine’s Day, which happens to be my favorite holiday. There’s also a section dealing with Common Struggles and scriptures that target these issues. I think that was my favorite part of the book along with her addressing the grief aspect of the holidays that taint them for many of us. It was nice to see a book address the parts of holidays that can hurt and she address the fact many Christians feel the need to put on a fake smiley face during the holidays because it’s what feels expected of us when we actually aren’t feeling joyful.
The book would be a good edition to your library if you’re someone in charge of planning holiday gatherings at your house or you like to host parties. It keeps things in perspective and reminds you to focus on Jesus instead of the go-go tendencies to do lists and the holidays often bring.
Excited to announce Landry in Like is a Literary Classics Gold Medal recipient! Check out their review:
"Being a teenaged girl has its challenges. And life for Landry is no different, even though she somehow believed things might be better for her this year. But she thought wrong. Nothing seems to be going her way, and to make matters worse, it seems her best friend is leaving her behind for a new group of friends. Staying true to herself and maintaining a positive attitude isn’t always easy when it seems like she’s always on the defensive. Author Krysten Lindsay Hager captures the true essence of life for teens today in book three of the Landry’s True Colors series. Packed with a cast of well-developed characters and highly plausible scenarios, this book sends just the right message to young girls today who are trying to navigate troubling teen years. Recommended for home and school libraries, Landry in Like has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval."
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by Iris Blobel
I'm excited to tell you all about the re-release of INNOCENT TEARS,
The book has enjoyed a rewrite and an awesome new cover.
I hope you'll give Flynn and Emma's story a chance.
♥♦♥ ~ OUT NOW ~ ♥♦♥
FREE for KU Subscribers
♥♦♥ Blurb ♥♦♥
Becoming a parent can be daunting at the best of times, but for Flynn McCormack, a business lawyer in Melbourne, it pulls the feet right out from underneath him. He’s become a father to six-year-old Nadine literally overnight. He didn’t know about her existence, and the news throws him into chaos, even more so when he is asked to take over custody.
With the help of Emma, an employee at the hotel where Nadine and her grandparents are staying, Flynn tries to do the right thing. Yet, the right thing in his eyes differs from his parents’ ideas, and Emma is voicing her opinion, too, leaving Nadine right in the middle of it all, still grieving the loss of her mother. There’s no doubt she’s afraid about where and with whom she will settle.
Will a letter Flynn receives help him decide what to do?
Social Media Links:
Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Iris-Blobel/e/B00FNFP3LI/
I did an interview with author Jacqueline M. Protho for the Support the Vets fundraiser. You can check out the interview here:
An article of mine was featured in the Funds for Writers newsletter recently. I wrote about what you need to write young adult novels. You can find the article here:
www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07J5X6FDL?pf_rd_p=d1f45e03-8b73-4c9a-9beb-4819111bef9a&pf_rd_r=8D0MY1RVKNS9GQBEBWHHTime To Soar
You are more than the numbers trying to define you.
You are more than second chances.
You are more than you imagine. Your life, love, and legacy consist of so much more than one moment and one list where somebody tries to define you.
Every little moment accrues into this wild and wonderful storyline you've been entrusted with. What will you do with your moments? Who will you engage? Encourage? Inspire? Who will you be when the door slams in your face? What are you when the door opens again?
Right now, you have been called here below. Be your legacy now, regardless of what the numbers try to prove. You are limitless. You are as strong, as capable, as powerful as you choose to be. Your talents, skills, and challenges have been entrusted to you. This challenge, this falling rock, consider it an invitation to greatness. Open your invitation and accept the gift.
During the 1988 Calgary Olympics the world saw the debut of the Jamaican Bobsled Team, and also where Eddie “The Eagle” soared into last place as a famously unsuccessful ski jumper. The media called him, “a heroic failure.” At the closing ceremonies of the 1988 Olympics, Frank King, organizer of the Olympic Committee stated, “You have captured our hearts. You have broken world records and you have established personal bests. And some of you have soared like eagles.”
Michael “Eddie” Edwards spent three years of his childhood wearing plaster casts on his legs after a noble yet unnecessarily dangerous risk blocking a soccer goal, damaging the cartilage in his knee. He wore thick glasses. At the age of thirteen he began downhill skiing, and by the age of seventeen he had advanced on the British national skiing team. He decided to pursue ski jumping due to lack of funding for the costly sport of downhill skiing. He traveled the European ski circuit in his mother’s van, utilizing second-hand equipment. He earned money doing odd jobs, such as babysitting, mowing lawns, and working in hotels. The Italians gave him a helmet, and the Austrians handed over a pair of extra skis. His boots were too large, so he wore six pairs of socks to fill the gap. “When he broke his jaw, instead of paying to be treated at a hospital, he tied it up with a pillowcase and went about his business” (The Guardian). Edwards received news he qualified for the British Olympic Team while staying at a Finnish mental hospital — he’d booked their accommodations for the cheap cost of one pound a night.
Edwards was twenty pounds heavier than the other ski jumpers, and barely scraped by the minimum qualifications for ski jumping. But he was the fastest ski jumper from Britain.
At the 1988 Olympics, fellow Olympians watched as Eddie smashed into a glass door at the airport, crushing his skis and ruining some of his gear.
But despite all of his difficulties, Eddie persisted. The media ran with his story and ridiculed him. Fans adored him. The fans rooted for the underdog. He participated in all three jumps, and scores landed him absolutely last place. According to Wikipedia, “In the seventy [meter jump], he scored 69.2 points from two jumps.” Next to last place, “Bernat Sola Pujol of Spain scored 140.4 points. Winner Matti Nykänen of Finland had 229.1 points.” Underwhelming results didn’t stop him from showing up and jumping to the best of his ability. And the whole crowd rooted for him.
See, we love an underdog. We love seeing someone dedicate and overcome. We love to see the guy who doesn’t give up, no matter what.
In 1990, the International Olympic Committee even made an “Eddie The Eagle Rule,” raising the minimum qualifications. As People magazine stated, “stricter qualification rules were imposed, making it nearly impossible for Eddie the Eagles of the world to ever make the Olympics again.”
Edwards sold the movie rights to his life story in 2007, and production halted on the movie until the right people fell into place. In 2016, the movie “Eddie The Eagle,” starring Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman hit theatres, which is where I first saw this fantastic story of heart and grit. We all have our Eddie moments. Ever been wearing six pairs of socks to fill someone else’s boots? Are you out of your league? Are you underprepared and financially incapable? [Raises hand.] Eddie braved it all and didn’t look back.
Even considered a “heroic failure,” he still went to the Olympics, man. And he was mentioned in the closing ceremony address, to thunderous applause.
Maybe you’re dreaming of big things and great stories. Maybe you’re stuck facing overwhelming odds, and fears which leave you crippled. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s time to soar.
After I finished my Insurrection trilogy, some questions continued to nag me. What do you do when the fear is real? Are you able to get back up? Saylor came into her own power and ability in the Insurrection trilogy, and saw tangible fear, damage, and pain. The story wasn’t satisfied with the ending of the trilogy. Do you know why? Because she did this hard thing. So was her story over? No. There’s always another hard thing to do. The story of EARTHSHNE beckoned to me: What would Saylor do when the lights went out…again? I needed to know. My readers need to know. We need those examples of perseverance and grit…because this life requires it.
May you be the hero. May you face the fear with a grin on your face. May you overcome the odds. And may you be somebody’s Earthshine.
An excerpt from earthshine:
I accepted the document, two sweaty palms reaching, tentative, unprepared. I scanned the words, reading them aloud. “I've got this deep wrestling within my dark soul. A hunger for the oppressed. An almighty beckoning for the broken and bent, a writhing which cannot be tamed by silence. No; the silence, the hush, the hustle, cannot squelch the fire to share light for those trembling in the depths. I cannot stop giving of myself for my mission, for to stop is to suffocate. To quit, impossible. To surrender, unattainable. My wrestling therefore occurs not in the loss, but the gain. Loss no longer exists. All movement, all attempts, fulfill the mission. My mission.
For I have been redeemed, and I defeat the darkness within me by each lent hand and rescued soul whom I reach. I am Alliance. I defend freedom, defy injustice, and deepen creative productivity to enhance mankind’s survival. In living victory, I bear my burden, a warrior for my objective: Be powerful. Be consistent. Never quit. Finish the mission.”
My eyes glanced up from the words to my father, then back down, reading, re-reading. Recoiling. Rerouting. “I guess with this kind of mission statement, there’s no room for fear.”
“There’s no need for fear. It’s not part of the mission.”
“I am Alliance. I like it.”
“I am Alliance.”
Fear may be a liar, but hope can be a monster.
Saylor single-handedly saved the world from a devastating solar flare...and it nearly killed her. Now her father's Alliance Military Guard must track down pirated tech, missing ships, and a rogue billionaire, and they’ve requested a reluctant Saylor’s help.
Tucker spent a year training the rookie Guardsmen. They call themselves Dragons. He calls them defiant. Dispatched across the ocean on a mission to retrieve AMG's bootlegged tech, he rallies Saylor to overcome her fears and return to the field by his side.
Working together wielding unprecedented tech and determined to defy their destinies, the two wrangle missing ghosts, brunt force betrayal, and the swagger of power. What lies beneath the earth just might save it.
EARTHSHINE is the final book following the McConnell clan and Alliance Military Guard, a standalone for the seeker of YA Sci Fi Action Adventures.
Purchase EARTHSHINE on amazon in paperback or ebook: www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07J5X6FDL?pf_rd_p=d1f45e03-8b73-4c9a-9beb-4819111bef9a&pf_rd_r=8D0MY1RVKNS9GQBEBWHH
Kadee Carder Bio:
Fierce yet sparkly, I rally seekers to thrive in their stories. The goal is magic, the medium is ink, and the fuel is coffee. And sometimes pizza. I teach English on the university level when I'm not dancing around the living room with my family, lifting heavy at the gym, traveling the planet, or binging superhero shows.
INSURRECTION, INCOMPLETE, INDELIBLE, HERE BE DRAGONS, EARTHSHINE and non-fiction inspirational KINGDOM COME roll out perilous motives, twisty plots, and daring protagonists. Grab some real estate and your copy of my latest adventure, and follow along on KadeeCarder.com.
Visit http://www.kadeecarder.com for inspiration, encouragement, freebie codes, and more!
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I’m giving away a free, empowering e-book to those who subscribe to my email list at kadeecarder.com/subscribe. Titled IGNITE, the 60-page book offers a serving of inspiration, a dash of hope, and a cup of grace to help you get kickin’ on those challenging tasks you’ve got to do!
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I'm excited to have singer Laurie LaCross-Wright from the Rusty Wright Band on the blog today. I first met Laurie years ago when I was working for a newspaper and assigned to cover the band. From then on I covered the band when they had performances in the area and Laurie and I became friends.
Here's some info about the band: :The band’s 2015 album, “Wonder Man” reached #8 on the Billboard Blues chart, #4 in the Midwest Heatseeker chart, #3 on the Hit Tracks 100 chart (Europe) and was nominated for Album of the Year in Vintage Guitar Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Awards alongside Sonny Landreth, Jeff Beck, Pink Floyd, and Joe Bonamassa. The song “Gonna Come a Day” from that album was selected from approximately 19.000 entries as a top finalist in the 2015 International Songwriting Competition. Wright’s 2013 album “This, That & The Other Thing,” earned widespread radio airplay across North America and won Blues 411’s Jimi Award for Contemporary Blues Album of the Year."
Tell me about how you got your start in the music business.
I was probably 15 when I played my first *paid* gig. A friend and I performed at a ladies bowling banquet. They took up a collection and we each made about $30 for a 30-minute show. at that time the minimum wage was less than $3 per hour so making a dollar a minute was pretty exciting for us.
I was always one of those independent kids who figured out how to do things on my own. I was a choir geek all through school so I didn’t fit in with the kids putting together rock bands, although I desperately wanted to. I bought my own PA and guitar gear, lugged it all myself and performed as a solo act for a long time, eventually broadening my circuit to cover 27 states. I also played in local bands, duos, trios, etc. Throughout the 80s and 90s I made my living juggling music and writing jobs. When I was on the road playing the solo circuit I would spend my days locked in my hotel room working on freelance magazine articles and then I’d spend the evening performing. My first national magazine piece was for a music magazine and covered tax tips for musicians. They used a photo of George Bush Sr. holding an electric guitar, lol.
Rusty and I met in the early 90s when I interviewed him for a monthly entertainment publication I owned for a while. We started dating a few years later and it was two full years before we ever played a note of music together. We each had our own bands and were playing very different styles of music so it never occurred to us. Eventually I needed a guitarist to fill in for some shows and he said he would help out. That was in 1998. We’ve been working together ever since. We spent a few years playing cover tunes at private clubs but we weren’t very happy doing that and eventually we decided it was time to make a change - either quit playing music or make a major shift and put together the band we had always talked about so in 2004 we launched The Rusty Wright Band. We were both in our 40s by then but we figured it would be an interesting challenge to see how far we could take the band. After all, you’re never too old to pursue a new dream.
Since 2004 we’ve toured across the US, Canada & the US Virgin Islands, performing at clubs, theaters and some of North America’s top blues and music fests; we did an Armed Forces Entertainment tour that took us to South Korea and Japan, and we toured Italy, Poland, and the Czech Republic. We’ve put out five albums and our last one, Wonder Man, reached #8 on the Billboard Blues charts and was nominated for Album of the Year in the Vintage Guitar Magazine Reader’s Choice Awards alongside some pretty impressive names.
We moved from Michigan to Florida in 2015 and basically had to start from square one rebuilding our band and our brand. That kind of sucked but this business is like a roller coaster ride anyway, so we weren’t totally surprised. You just keep working, working, working. For every hour we get to spend on stage we spend 20 hours behind the scenes doing the grunt work that keeps our machine rolling. Eventually it pays off and things are finally beginning to pop again.
I heard you opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd. What was that like?
We had just put the band together and had only written a handful of the songs that would go on our first album. We were all experienced musicians but had played just one show when Rusty got the call from an agent. She’d heard we had a new band. The opener for the Skynyrd show had had to cancel. Were we interested in the opener slot? The show date fell on our third anniversary and I’d asked Rusty not to book any shows. He was hesitant to ask me about it but of course, I said yes. We had less than a week to prepare.
After the initial rush of adrenaline, reality set in. We had only played one show with our new band. Just one stinkin’ little show, and now we were going to play with one of our musical heroes. We rehearsed relentlessly for three days.
Show day arrived and so did a line of thunderstorms. Lots of rain. And tornadoes. Lots of those too. We arrived backstage to the sound of tornado sirens. The Skynyrd crew had arrived earlier and one tornado warning after another had kept the band and crew hunkered down in the lower level of the concrete amphitheater. Tensions were running high so we sat at a table and just kept quiet.
It wasn’t until 45 minutes before show time that the decision was made to go ahead with the concert - mostly because 4000 ticket holders had shown up. Undeterred by the weather they were sitting on wet bleacher seats in torrential rain peering out from the hoods of rain ponchos and even trash bags with holes cut for arms and faces.
There was no time for a sound check. We plugged in & did a quick line check. A brief introduction and Rusty kicked into a wild solo leading into an instrumental called Hell on my Heels. At the exact moment the band hit their first roll and stop a bolt of lightning struck behind the Amphitheatre, in perfect time with the music. The audio crew was magnificent and at the end of the song a huge roar from the crowd washed over the stage. We kicked into another song and then we noticed them. Offstage, just out of sight stood all three Skynyrd guitarists, watching. Arms folded. The percentage of headliners who watch their opening act is less than five percent - and probably more like one percent. Rusty’s first thought was that we must have set up in the wrong spot on stage. When we finished our short set we exited stage right so as to delay the ear chewing we figured was coming our way. We’d just gotten a full-on raucous standing ovation and we wanted to enjoy the triumph a little.
We had just finished packing our guitars into their cases when all three of them rounded the corner. Gary Rossington, Rickey Medlocke and Hughie Thomasson.
Rickey Medlocke stuck his hand out and shook Rusty’s hand, exclaiming “Dude, where the hell did YOU come from?”
I’m not ashamed to admit I had kind of a Sally Fields moment right then and there but I managed to keep my mouth reined in and didn’t say anything embarrassing.
After chatting for a couple minutes they left to go do their set. We thought we’d go watch Skynyrd’s set from the front of house sound booth. The security guard opened the gate and we stepped out but people from the nearest bleacher seats gave a cry and began lunging toward us. The gate guard pulled us back and snapped the chain link gate shut.
“Guess you played TOO good tonight,” he laughed. “You’re gonna have to watch this show from side stage.”
Who are some of your musical influences?
My first guitar teachers were bluegrass musicians, first JB King and later Michael McKellar. They had a significant impact on me but because I was immersed in choral music all through junior and senior high school I was drawn to ‘pure’ sounding voices like Barbra Streisand and Linda Rondstat. Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart were huge influences and I respected the way Pat Benetar integrated her opera vocal training into a rock sound. If Pentatonix would have been around in the 70s I would have swooned over their music because I love their harmonies, their arrangements and their crazy good vocal skills. Years later I developed an appreciation for earthier, raspier voices, voices that have character and sound like the singer has lived through some stuff. KT Oslin was an 80s country singer who had her first hit at age 40, an almost unheard of thing Her vocal delivery style was almost like a conversation. She definitely influenced the way I approach a song vocally.
What are some of the albums that have really spoken to you over the years?
Carole King’s 1971 Tapestry album was huge for me. I can sing every word of every song. Bad Company, by Bad Company was a favorite too. I remember playing Stevie Nicks’ Edge of Seventeen album endlessly. The soundtrack for The Commitments was a favorite for a long time. I loved the power of Whitney Houston’s voice but Dolly Parton’s version of I Will Always Love You hits me where I live when her voice breaks at the end. John Denver and Jim Croce were huge when I first started playing guitar so I knew all their songs word for word but I soaked up everything from bluegrass and classic country to Barbra Streisand to Bad Company, Heart, Lynyrd Skynyrd. when Melissa Etheridge released her first album I was immediately hooked on her songs because she could paint an entire scene in my head with just a few words. I loved singers like Etta James but didn’t truly connect with blues music until a little later in life. My first blues albums were Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Texas Flood LP and Bonnie Raitt’s Green Light LP. Right now I’m listening to Larkin Poe a lot and an Australian heavy rock/Latin music acoustic guitar duo called Opal Ocean.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Ugh. So many things I would say - but I know I probably wouldn’t have listened, lol. I was clever and I was mature for my age in a lot of ways but I have an impulsive streak that has landed me in hot water on and off for decades.
Quit trying to rush the milestones in your life. You don’t have to do it all in the next five minutes. Go to college. Not everyone needs to go to college but reining in my impatience to get on with my adult life would have have given me a much wider spectrum of choices. Realize there are no shortcuts to some things. Suck it up and do it right. You’ll be glad later that you did. No, you aren’t fat. Get a AAA card. Understand that you aren’t obligated to live your life according to the expectations or fears of others but if possible, be kind in rejecting their expectations. In fact, be kind as much as possible. The sound of one kind voice can keep a person from jumping off a bridge. Spontaneity is great if you’re jumping in the car for a trip to the beach, but not so great jumping into a marriage. Skip husband #2 - seriously.
Tell us about your latest album.
Our new single No Man is an Island, comes out October 4th. The song was inspired, in part, by a boy with autism but wound up being written to resonate with anyone who has felt like an outsider or set apart, through no fault of their own. I truly feel it’s our best work, to date. We knew that had to be the first single after the song received a standing ovation at Buddy Guys Legends, in Chicago. It will be available as a digital single and through streaming services, digital jukeboxes, etc.
Much has changed since our last album, Wonder Man, was released in 2015. People are moving to streaming services and CDs will eventually go the way of DVDs. People are picking individual songs for their streaming playlists so rather than putting out a full album we’ll be releasing a new single every six or eight weeks and then we’ll press the full album next spring before we start our summer tour runs. It’s an experiment we wanted to try.
Who were your musical favorites when you were growing up? Anyone you pretended to be singing into a hairbrush? Any music crushes?
David Cassidy and Donny Osmond. Major preteen crushes, lol. And I was always singing into a hairbrush - it didn’t matter what was playing. I used to record myself on a little Panasonic cassette recorder. I’d sit on a stool in the garage (because it echoed a bit out there) and I’d try to sound like Barbra Streisand. Oh the caterwauling! Eventually, our cat Boots jumped up on the stool next to me and literally put his paw across my guitar strings as if to say “Just stop. Please just stop!”
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Author of the Landry's True Colors Series, the Star Series, Dating the It Guy, & Can Dreams Come True