Posts Tagged ‘Open Mike by Gregory Petersen’

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. (Carl Sagan)

I laugh at my middle granddaughter Rebecca’s antics long after she leaves with Daddy. She loves to play with an old pair of crutches that are too big for a nine-year-old girl. Each time she has a different pretend reason why she needs them.

Today’s reason: “I have boneless disease.”

She relays the surgical procedure, including plastic-skull placement with an occasional ouch; then she rises from a chair and reaches for the crutches. The OR is our backyard. She claims that all she needs to sustain her now, besides the beloved crutches, is a house filled with medicine. She pretends to swallow the first roomful.

I smile on the outside and chuckle internally.

“You raised my daddy. You raised my daddy,” she repeats the same line with a rising chuckle. Yet, I know she wants to be just like her father.

Rebe’s daddy, Gregory Petersen, is an author and a stand-up comic. Rebe’s wit is already sharp. Moreover, she has my complete attention, and she thrives on it.

When she is not in pretend-mode, Rebe is one-hundred percent honest. Two years ago, when I gave her a signed copy of The Curse Under the Freckles, a middle-grade fantasy, she took one look at it and asked where the pictures were. She knows I write, but she sees me as her ancient playmate.

Imagination doesn’t need to disappear with childhood. I happen to be a very old youngster.

By late spring, early summer, the sequel to my first book will appear—Stinky, Rotten, Threats. (No link yet. All is in progress.)

Chase Powers and his magic woods friends are attending summer school. Chase failed sixth grade—he studies both everyday fractions as well as how to use magical skills. His friends are self-motivated. They have natural smarts; they grew up with magic.

Of course, even school in a magical setting doesn’t follow the teacher’s plan. The adults in Chase’s family enter the woods for instruction, and Chase sees how much trouble newbies can be. Add interference from the evil Malefics… Then, Chase sees a change in the magical world he could never imagine even with the most potent tools.

Boneless disease never appears in my story. That fantasy belongs to my granddaughter.

Chase Powers is a fantasy character in a world that does not exist. However, his character thinks, feels, and acts like a twelve-year-old boy.  Anna, his friend, is a near-genius who has a knack for unintentionally getting under Chase’s skin, the way real people do sometimes.

Even so, something incredible is about to happen.  In the story, and in real life. Yes, a lot of bad news rolls off commentators’ tongues with the same tone of voice used to forecast a partly cloudy day. Ugliness is real.

However, so is beauty. A friend calls. A child draws a picture—just for Grandma, Mommy or the dog. Not all brightness comes from sun. Hope is like a seed, or a plot. You can’t tell how it will grow in the beginning.

I do hope you will bother to turn a page that promises a lead out of darkness. Of course, I would recommend my own work. However, if anyone has suggestions for inspirational titles, go for it. I am always glad to hear about a good, positive-minded book.

Peace, and may something incredible touch all.

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Making a living is nothing; the great difficulty is making a point, making a difference—with words.  (Elizabeth Hardwick )

A Monday morning toward the end of August. Rebe has said goodbye to braces. Her smile is free from metal. She is at the orthodontist now for the final X-rays. And big-sister Katie and I shop to prepare a special meal for her. Ravioli, her favorite. A dessert Rebe will help make since she will want to be in on the fun. And a carbonated beverage. Cola, a no-no for younger sister for the past two years. Katie and I find small fancy bottles. We choose to savor, not guzzle, since sweet colas and nutrition don’t have much in common.

I tell Katie about the wind and rain at the Hamilton County Fair last weekend. Mother Nature overdid the crowd control. Sure, I had fun and met a few new people. The day was wild. But wildly successful? Not exactly. I expect my granddaughter to go on to other topics: sports, friends, crafts.

Instead she asks, “So, what are you doing to let people know about your book?”

I hesitate. Katie is twelve-years old. My next event could come in a few months.

“What theme comes throughout the book frequently? Use that. In different ways… Make it stand out.”

We are outside a store as she asks. She grabs my heavy backpack and I carry the empty reusable bags for our purchases. I am aware of the disproportion. Not only in weight carried, but in information exchanged. I look at her and laugh.

“What is so funny?” she asks.

“You are. Because you are amazing. Tell me. How do you know all of this?”

“I go to book signings.”

She does. With her father. Gregory Petersen wrote Open Mike. He is working on other novels and has done standup comedy. Katie has made friends with writers. She has a superb imagination. In fact, she gave me an idea I used in my next book. I will give her an acknowledgment.

Not everyone has a twelve-year-old consultant. But then, she fits my audience. And I think about the typical preteen. The typical preteen who lives inside the average adult. In The Curse Under the Freckles Chase doesn’t have much self-confidence. He is surprised to get help from an inanimate thing, a tree, a Rainbow tree that offers magical gifts he could never expect.

The tree helps its Star League member with its multi-hued magic. It draws out the color inside the Star League student.

Since Katie has been helpful I tell her to get something for herself—she buys a present for her sister’s birthday instead. I don’t need to savor sweet cola. I have this precious time with my granddaughter before she starts seventh grade. My Rainbow-tree granddaughter. She brings out color inside me.

following dreams

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There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story. (Frank Herbert)

From my grandchildren’s point of view my published book is something like an honorary mention trophy. Nice on a shelf. When I gave my eight-year-old a copy of “The Curse Under the Freckles,” she wanted to know where the pictures were. The girls are more impressed by ice cream—chocolate chips blended in sweet raspberry flavoring. Or a day of pretend with Grandma. Touch a child’s life directly; that is what matters. The words will hit later.

My older son, Gregory Petersen, is also a writer. His book, Open Mike, was published through Martin Sisters several years ago. He is working through an agent with his next book. Greg is capable of writing thousands of words a day even though he has a full-time position that includes a leash phone; he takes his job as daddy seriously. I am more proud of him for his excellent relationship with his daughters than I am for his incredible ability with words. And his gift for expression is exquisite.

All life can be presented as a story. I often have difficulty turning that perception off because imagination doesn’t always fit the moment. For example: in the middle of the night. Oh sure, I’m told to write ideas down, whenever they come. But that doesn’t seem to be realistic when the notion isn’t a one-liner. The rolling avalanche of a plot and the inevitability of sleep deprivation are counter-productive in the long run.

Sometimes relaxation comes from reading—letting the thoughts of others feed me, especially when those thoughts lead to the profound. My sister Claire shared a book she had already read, Same Kind of Different as Me. It fits into the grab-the-soul category. Thanks, Sis.

Authors Ron Hall and Denver Moore tell a true story. Ron is an international art dealer. Denver is a modern-day slave, a sharecropper, who runs away into a life as a homeless person and decides it is better than being unofficially owned. The love of Ron’s wife, Deborah, leads toward an unlikely friendship.

Denver Moore says, “I found out everybody’s different—the same kind of different as me.” What and how he discovered that similarity, the human center-core spirit, is where the beauty of the story lives—sometimes clothed in miracles, or incredible pain, or deep sadness.

Stories never really end. The characters in my own tales develop a kind of reality. But in fiction, at least before publication, entire chapters can be erased and rewritten and then changed again. The past, present, and future are as pliable as soft clay.

In Hall and Moore’s story the facts of their lives remain solid because “The Same Kind of Different as Me” is non-fiction. At the end of the narration at almost seventy, Denver admits he has a lot to learn. The last page is not the last page.

In April Paramount plans to release a movie starring Greg Kinnear, Renee Zellweger, and Djimon Hounsou based on Ron and Denver’s New York Times best seller’s impossible journey. I did not know this until I checked the Internet for more information about the original publication.

Impossible, hidden, a forgotten acorn that becomes an oak…who knows? The story continues…Any story can continue…

same kind of different as me

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No, no! The adventures first; explanations take such a dreadful time. (Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass)

I’ve been invited to play a game, my favorite kind, a writer’s game. I’m taking part in a blog tour. Sarah Wesson extended the invitation. She writes: Earful of Cider: The Caffeine Gnomes Demand Tribute. Her answers to the seven questions for the tour can be found there. Her writing is worth the click. Sarah is a word chef who serves insight as a main course with side dishes of well-seasoned humor.  She listed the seven questions and answers one at a time. I will reply to all in a single paragraph. I have a self-imposed word limit on my entries. Moreover, my focus is positive thinking, not the art of writing. Anyone who wants to check on the thoroughness of my responses can look up Sarah’s blog—actually I hope you do.

The main character in the fictional short story I bring to the tour comes from the recent past. He lives in an unnamed town, somewhere in the United States where wild rabbits run free from one yard to another, behind bushes and trees, present one moment, disappearing the next. Carson is in third grade. He needs to keep the events of his foster home environment secret because he is afraid he could make his life even more unbearable than it already is. All he wants to do is survive. At least that’s what he thinks he wants, until he meets Robin, the peculiar girl with teeth aligned like the boards in a crooked fence. She has a wobbly walk and an upbeat attitude. “Among the Rabbits” should appear at Piker Press on approximately August 18.

I tagged Greg Petersen and asked him to introduce his character approximately a week from today. If the surname sounds familiar, that’s because he is my son and a writer who happens to have a keen insight into the human situation. Below is his bio:

Gregory Petersen is a writer, editor, comedian, coach, husband, and father of two beautiful daughters.  His novel, Open Mike, was released by Martin Sisters Publishing in June of 2013,  and his next book, Dreaming Out Loud, is close to completion.  He has performed at The Funnybone, Go Bananas, Wiley’s, as well as several charitable and corporate events.  When not writing or performing, he is following The Cincinnati Reds, training to run another very slow marathon, or goofing off on Twitter (@gregjpete).  He was born, raised, and still remains in Cincinnati, Ohio.

I am adding that Greg has also written a blog that demonstrates his ability to see humor in everyday life: Professional Goofball.

Kudos to the two people, before and after me in this tour. It takes time to participate. I am glad to let other folk celebrate you and your writing. Thank you, Sarah Wesson and Gregory Petersen!

I have met many folk who read only nonfiction. I must admit that many fascinating books focus on fact. However, fiction opens up worlds that don’t exist and makes them real within the first few paragraphs. The story that uncovers beauty hidden inside darkness  makes the world a better place, eventually.

May the adventures continue!





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Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. (Maria Robinson)

Our family waits for the arrival of my husband’s mother and sister. They live six-hours west of us where nine inches of snow is possible. Jay’s mother, Mary, is 93-years-old. One of her daughters is driving her into town for a funeral. Mary’s sister has died and she is the last living person in her family.

As soon as the travelers arrive I let my sons know. We are concerned; Mary can barely stand. Yet, her heart remains rooted strong in family.

Part of Mary’s agenda includes plans for her own funeral. I’m familiar with the process, although I have never done it with the honoree  present. Mary’s other daughter has material handy for us to view. Whenever my mother-in-law shows emotion I know we are on the right track. When she says, “How do I know? I won’t be there,” I realize the mechanics of planning may be present; however, heart isn’t. She adds that she doesn’t want a eulogy that praises her; it should praise God. She also wants humor.

I suggest asking my older son, Greg, both a stand-up comic and a man active in his church community. The conversation drifts into a discussion of his latest book, “Open Mike,” the tightness of his style. She grins, proud, and laughs with us. A suggestion is made to complete the outline. “So, who do you want to do your eulogy?” But I sense a return to how do I know? I won’t be there.

Let our list of whats, wheres, and whens be sufficient as we return to the moment, to life as it is. Now. More family members arrive, just what Mary needs as an extrovert’s extrovert.

I think about the struggle I’ve had in the past few months with a pesky virus that is only now beginning to subside, even though my soprano has been knocked out by a throat as dry as desert-baked sand. A little alto sneaks out occasionally, but it is weak and inconsistent.  I realize that this is nothing in comparison to the suffering many people experience. No one is invincible, although as a young person I certainly lived as if I were.

Somehow I expected to be in my twenties forever, slender without needing exercise and diet control. Possibilities lay ahead of me—but I rarely chose them. Tomorrow would always be there, or so I thought. Those days will never return. Nevertheless, this moment lives, ready to be seized.

In my last blog I mentioned how three words, consider the source, became valuable advice from my father. My mother-in-law showed me how rich grandparent bonding could become. Since I worked in hospital pharmacy my hours didn’t fit a Monday through Friday schedule. I was off Fridays and asked to watch my first granddaughter on that day even though my son and daughter-in-law already had child care. I have never regretted that choice.

In fact my gift has tripled. I now have three grandchildren. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t think about my granddaughters. Somehow even a Cheerio in the couch cushion isn’t the irritation it could be when I consider the source, a beautiful blonde four-year-old girl with a smile that could light the city.

I have no idea what legacy I will leave my sons and granddaughters, but I’m not sure the spiritual can be weighed anyway. I prefer to live this moment and build upon the next, with as much gratitude as I can manage. Today. Tomorrow isn’t promised.

more beginnings than endings PIQ

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What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset. (Chief Crowfoot, Native American warrior and orator, 1821-1890)

The rumble of drills, hammers, and machinery runs from the curb to our basement. We are getting new gas lines this morning. The connection must be occurring right now; I smell it. The energy of the work extends from the basement to the living room floor. Nevertheless, reaching for the ceiling while using my core muscles, I finish one back exercise and begin the next. Let the work on the street and in my basement continue. Let me trust that it will be completed well, that all will be well—whether it appears to be or not.

At least my husband and I know our blue spruce will be spared. When we saw the painted yellow planning line on the grass next to it we feared that our friend of at least thirty-seven years would be lost.

When our evergreen was planted as a sapling our older son, Gregory, was a toddler. It was planted for him. We have pictures somewhere of him watering it, in the days when he could touch the ground with his head without bending his knees. Our son is now a father of two girls and the author of two books. “Open Mike” came out recently. The tree is the front yard. It’s a bed and breakfast for birds in any season. At one time my husband and I considered moving. Our son’s first thought was about the loss of the tree. It arrived as a gift from my husband’s uncle who owned a nursery at the time. That gift has cost us a fortune in maintenance. The tree contracted a fungal disease and blue spruce isn’t covered by any health insurance policy. Fortunately, treatment has brought color back into our spruce’s limbs.

The tree represents life. Birds thrive in our evergreen’s branches despite snow, wind, or rain. Yet, they remain prey for hawks and other predators. We have seen scattered feathers and dead sparrows, an occasional Cooper’s Hawk, a squirrel feasting on the birds’ seed.

If our spruce had been lost, it nevertheless would have been a symbol of life. And we would have mourned it. But it carries on and reaches for the sky, as I do with the final exercise count as I strengthen my core muscles and feel the smallest twinge of pain in the small of my back. It’s okay. Anything worthwhile has its cost. Eighteen, nineteen, twenty…finished for now.

blue spruce

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