What’s The Buzz

Happy April everyone! I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire, and wanted to let you know the latest:

Thank you: First, thanks to everyone who has read, shared, or reviewed Spireseeker or The Taking of Stonecrop. Art can only exist through experience, and there are few things that bring me greater joy than hearing that someone read and enjoyed my words and stories. So, in the words of Beryl, “Thank you for your friendship. I promise I will not forget it. You have my loyalty and that of the Spire.”

Underground Book Reviews: I’d really like your help. I want to win this pitch contest, which would earn a review and interview for Spireseeker. It only takes two clicks: Click this link, then “like” the post that pops up on Facebook. No strings attached – you are just liking the post. Thank you! (Votes only count until the end of April, so please vote today.)

Reviews and Awards: I am thrilled about this glowing five-star review of The Taking of Stonecrop written by Bil Howard of Readers’ Favorite. Also, Spireseeker has been announced as a finalist for the MIPA Midwest Book Awards in Fantasy/SciFi/Horror/Paranormal! This puts it in the top three, and we will find out who won in May. (How exciting!) In addition, at least two super-cool bloggers are currently reading Spireseeker. We’ll let you know via social media when their reviews are posted.

Book Clubs: A couple of book clubs have said they are going to read this, including an LDS book club in Nevada (shout out!) and some guys that are way cooler than I am in Dayton (sorry that my book doesn’t have enough bazoongas, guys, but thanks for being bros anyway). I hope both groups enjoy it. If your book club is interested, just drop us a note at atthis@atthisarts.com. We offer discounts on group purchases as well.

Wichita: I am honored to be featured at Watermark Books & Cafe in Wichita Kansas, during the Local Literary Festival on Saturday, June 14th, signing copies of Spireseeker. I will post more updates to my Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads pages as they become available. If you’re in the area, we really hope to see you there!

Ionia: Spireseeker is also available at Second Beginnings in Ionia, Michigan. Stop by if you’re in the area. We are looking at opportunities to get up there for a signing.

Reddit: Now that I am hip enough to grasp what Reddit is, I am entirely excited to be the /r/Fantasy Writer of the Day June 18th. This is just like an AMA (that’s “Ask Me Anything”) which means, well, just what it sounds like. So be sure to hop onto http://reddit.com/r/Fantasy on June 18th (beginning around noon Eastern) and ask me a question! Not sure what to ask? How about stuff like: fantasy, writing, independent publishing, Spireseeker, parenting, being an engineer-turned-writer, veg and gender themes in my writing, on and on. Show up and ask away!

Kickstarter: We are gearing up for a June/July Kickstarter run to fund illustration, editing, and printing for the first book of the Shkode trilogy. Dragons and Wizards! No that doesn’t mean the book is done; it means I’m broke and if you want to ever read this thing, I’m going to either need some fan support via Kickstarter, or a magic wizard to buy all the copies of Spireseeker stacked in my basement. Pending the latter, we’ll plan for the Kickstarter. I really want to make this worth your while, though, so we are working some ideas for really cool Kickstarter rewards.

Sister Authors: Had the pleasure of meeting Anne Weisgarber, author of The Promise – a lovely historical fiction novel set in Galveston, Texas during the deadly hurricane of 1900. Also, if you have tween kids, you won’t want to miss the Jack O’Rourke Series, by my high school classmate Kristi M. Washbourn.

Mothers’ Day: Look, I don’t know how else to break this to you, but your mom wants a signed copy of Spireseeker for Mothers’ Day. It’s my job to tell you these sort of things.

Newsletter: If you like these sort of updates, they will mostly be posted to our newsletter. Want in? Subscribe on our new Atthis Arts website.

And please do follow me on: Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. I’ll see you there.

And hey, isn’t this about writing? Let’s end with an excerpt from The Taking of Stonecrop:

Klev looked at her thoughtfully. “Rarely are those who clamor for power unblemished. It is a delicate game that enables people of motivation to stay in power, yet finds those motivated for the best reasons. There is never a perfect solution, only a never-ending struggle for balance. The night’s events will inflame great passion, and move that point of balance even further out of reach. Nobody even knows which side they are on anymore.”

Byrn stared at the torches burning on the walls of the spacious underground room. “I wish we didn’t have to pick a side, that we could just work together.” Klev did not respond. Around her children sniffled, and their parents as well, perhaps imaging what it would be like to see your family killed before you. For no worthwhile reason. “We can’t let them go to war. These are my people.”

“If war could be prevented by will alone, then there would never be a battle fought.” Klev stood a little straighter, and now spoke in a whisper for Byrn’s ears alone. “And, your Highness, despite our unyielding loyalty, you will lead us best when you learn we are our own people.” Byrn’s cheeks flushed, and Klev softened his tone. “But, still, Byrn—we’ll try. Together.”

Cheers, and enjoy a well-deserved Spring!

E.D.E. Bell

16 April 2014

Bella Novella

My first novella, The Taking of Stonecrop, was released this week. I wanted to answer some of your questions about the project:

Q: Why should I read The Taking of Stonecrop?

A: It wields intrigue, humor, and a sarcastic pronghorn. And you’ll support my mid-life reinvention.

Q: What’s the relationship between Spireseeker and The Taking of Stonecrop?

A: They are in the same world with the same characters, but are two mostly independent stories. The Taking of Stonecrop happens three hundred years prior to the events in Spireseeker.

Q: Which should I read first?

A: It’s fun either way. If you read Spireseeker first, you’ll enjoy reading more about some of your favorite characters when you read the novella. If you read The Taking of Stonecrop first, then you’ll have a little more background on the world before starting the novel—and you’ll recognize a few historical references.

Q: If Spireseeker is a stand-alone story, then why release a novella in the same setting?

A: I’ve recognized that asking readers to start with a fifty-chapter novel written by an unknown author was a bit unrealistic. But, hey, I’m an optimist. So I’m hoping people are willing to give the novella a try. And if they enjoy it, maybe they’ll follow some of my other projects, including Spireseeker.

Q: Will your next novel be in the land of Fayen, like Spireseeker?

A: No, it will be separate. I won’t preclude releasing additional short stories (or even another novella) here or there to add depth to the Spireseeker story, but my next major project is the Shkode trilogy: my personal twist on wizards and dragons. I’m so set on making it a great story that I’ve already been working for more than four months on the outline alone.

Q: What’s your favorite aspect of The Taking of Stonecrop?

A: I enjoy that it explores the personalities of some of the male-form elves. The female-form elves dominated Spireseeker, and though no disrespect was intended, I wondered whether the male-form elves didn’t quite get their due. So I’m happy to be able to highlight them a bit more.

If you have any additional questions about the novella, please let me know. In the meantime, I’d be honored if you’d give The Taking of Stonecrop a try.

E.D.E. Bell, 26 February 2014

Don’t Take No Snow

I should probably start by clarifying that I have no problem with winter, including this winter. It’s a great season to spend time with family, and a great setting to reflect on life. I loved the snowy Christmas, and I thought the snowy January flew by all too quickly. I am enjoying the snowy Valentine’s Day, driving past monumental snowplow-peaks, and watching big snowflakes weave through the air before falling dramatically onto my windshield. I am feeling no rush to move into Spring. Life is short enough without rushing.

It’s days like today that remind me of one of my most memorable moments. It was 2003, and I was sitting on a steep hill in my new car with a newborn baby in the back seat. I was good and stuck, and there was at least a half mile of traffic waiting behind me, all the way back to the main road. I couldn’t drive forward, I couldn’t pull off to the side (the residential street was lined with cars), and I couldn’t even go in reverse due to the traffic behind—all waiting on me. I was hesitant to leave the car, because it was really cold and I had a very tiny baby with me, who I would have to take out into the frigid wind if I left, and not to mention it was now dark. So I was at a loss regarding what to do.

I grew up in Michigan, and knew very well how to drive in snow. But when I bought a new car in 2003, I was in Virginia and didn’t much worry about getting a rear-wheel drive. I mean, it never really snows anyway beyond a dusting. Except sometimes it does. And being a few years desensitized to the concept, I thought nothing of driving my Cadillac up a steep hill which was, after all, the shortest way home. After all, it’s just snow.

So there I was. What happened next fell somewhere between a Christmas special and racist joke. And it’s entirely true. Three men came out of their houses (each a different house) all pulling their hats and gloves on. One was white, one black, and one latino. They waved at me to stay in the car, and told me to hit the gas. They each started pushing. The wheels spun, and I didn’t get much traction. The white gentleman yelled things like, “g’on and get on” in a classic Virginia accent. The latino gentleman yelled things like, “¡Ay ay!” and other things that I won’t repeat but sounded religious in nature. And finally, the black gentleman audibly strained (errrr), and as he pushed he bellowed across the neighborhood, “Ninety thousand dolla’s and you don’t TAKE NO SNOW? Com’ON Cadillac!” Then, as if it had heard the challenge, the car started to move.

I was torn between the gut reaction to stop and thank the men, or to let them know I had paid nothing close to $90K for the car. But as I leaned out to thank them, they waved an arm at me and shouted, “We’re thanked! We know – just GO!” And so I did. They kept pushing the car as I zoomed up over the hill, and the trail of headlights started to move behind me.

I’m still driving that car today. In fact, it did a couple of mean fishtails coming into my neighborhood this evening. And there isn’t a day I don’t drive my car on a snowy day that 1) I remind myself to avoid hills and 2) I think, “Ninety thousand dolla’s and you don’t take no snow? Com’ON Cadillac!”

To date it makes me laugh. And I always think with gratitude about the kind men who went outside in the cold to help keep people moving. No, I’m sure it wasn’t their first time nor their last, even that night. Which makes what they did even more admirable, in my mind. And so, I’m looking forward to a lovely snowy weekend. Just me, my family (including that baby who is now in fifth grade), and my car that still don’t take no snow.

So, while we’re talking, there’s some news on the writing front. I’ll be releasing a novella shortly, titled (wait for it), “The Taking of Stonecrop.” It’s set in the Spireseeker world, three hundred years before the story begins. If you’ve read Spireseeker, it should be a fun backstory. If you haven’t, maybe it’ll convince you to give it a shot. I’ll keep you posted.

Be well, and stay warm.

E.D.E. Bell, 14 February 2014

Walking Naked

I don’t plan to blog only about my experiences as an aspiring author; that’s only one facet of my life. But I’ve had a lot of questions about what the experience has been like. And I’m not sure if people want me to answer them honestly. But here it is.

My best analogy to what it’s been like writing and independently publishing a novel is that it’s been like walking naked. Slowly. All around town. Some people call your name enthusiastically, then once they see that you are naked they whisk away, not to be heard from again. Others avert their eyes from the start. And some people shout as you walk by, “Your butt is huge.” As if I didn’t already know. You keep waiting for someone to join you, unashamed to walk with you for a while, to say, “I see how you really are, and it’s ok with me.” But instead, you remind yourself to keep smiling, and just keep walking.

So why did I do it, then? Perhaps only those who have experienced that inner fire of creativity could understand, though I’d venture to say that’s everyone at some point in their lives. There is that moment when you see something else – something different – that you can potentially share with others. And when that moment happens and you say, “I have to try,” then you know that you do. And it has been much different than I expected. In many ways more difficult, and in other ways more rewarding.

First, the disregard for independent publishing is stronger than I expected. I’ve spent a lot of time approaching book stores, small businesses, and reviewers, just to get the, “another of you people” expression, or a hasty response of, “come back when you actually get published.” I do understand, of course. Traditional publishing requires exhaustive effort, and requires an author to pass a series of hurdles that provide more consistent vetting over the end product. But times are changing. Social media is powerful, and I’ve spent my whole life working for the Man. In a superstore kind of world, I’m a boutique kind of girl. I believe in the power of an independent artist; the ability to see a vision and construct it the way in which it speaks to you as an individual. You always pay your dues; it’s just how you pay them. So no thanks, system. My passion for independence is a fire that can’t be doused, despite your tittering.

It’s also challenging working within the “like” culture. Just as it’s easy to like a status about someone’s book without actually intending to read it, I am met every day with congratulations from people telling me they are so happy my dream is coming true, or that they can’t wait to read the book. And then in most cases they don’t. Or they say they are reading it, then never follow up, leaving you to presume they didn’t care for it so much, but don’t want to say anything. Someone recently told me that they didn’t need to read the book to know that it’s great. But people reading it is why I wrote it. To share something with you, something that came from my heart, and something that carries with it a piece of who I am.

You learn quickly that everyone’s a critic. It’s hard to listen to someone make jokes about your story, or calmly list all the deficiencies of your plot, your writing, and your characters, as if you created the art to be critiqued rather than enjoyed. Or as if I didn’t already know the book’s weaknesses much better than they did. Either that or they’re offended. If your characters talk about issues, and explore their own identities, then you have violated something sacred. Talking about issues raises those issues, and people were clearly more comfortable when you left the boat un-rocked.

But I’ll tell you what. There is something else I’ve found through this process, and that is discovering a core of people who really do care about you, about your feelings, and about what you tried to do, whether you succeeded or not. People who are willing to stand by you, and say – you’re not embarrassing. Not to me. You’re my friend. And finding those people—and drawing from their strength—has been better than anything I could have hoped to experience. Like my boss, who submitted the book to the company newsletter because, whether he liked or agreed with it or not, he was proud of my accomplishment. Or like the family and colleagues who showed up to my book signing, despite it being in the middle of a blizzard, just to make sure I wasn’t there alone. Or the friend that let me name a magical creature after her, believing that the dream was magical, whether the final story was or not. Or my mother-in-law, who took it door-to-door at her office. Or my mom, who when people say, “it’s just not my sort of thing,” looks them in the eye and says without qualification, “I liked it.”

By now, I thought I’d have more feedback on the story. I thought someone would want to discuss the characters, think about the issues I raised, or even be inspired to share their own story. But, really, the most frequent positive feedback I’ve had is people telling me they admire my balls. “You have huge balls,” they say. Balls? You mean—? Oh.

See, and that’s the best part about realizing that you are walking naked. It’s that liberating moment when you realize that your self-doubt and apprehension are no longer relevant. You are already naked. Whatever it is that makes people uncomfortable, it’s out there now. So what, then, is left to protect? Yep, I’m here, I’m kind of strange, I write about things you think are weird, and I might even believe differently than you do. But I’m fueled by the fires of creative passion and I’m not ready to give up yet. And maybe—just maybe—some of you will join me along the way.

E.D.E. Bell – 11 January, 2014

I Think it’s Time to Tell You

Well, I feel I’m far enough along to make a big announcement. Ready for it?

The name of my next project is the Shkode trilogy. Pronounce it slowly, saying all the letters, and end with a sound that rhymes with how someone in Great Lakes area would say the ‘a’ sound in “sand.” (If all else fails, rhyme it with Minnesota.) To me, this word – which means “fire” in Anishinaabemowin – resonates with spirit and is the perfect title for my project.

So what’s Shkode about? It’s about everything I think makes a great story. Wizards, dragons, and magic – engaging characters, danger, adventure, mystery, discovery, and triumph. I’ve learned so much releasing Spireseeker, and my goal is to make this a story you’ll want to read again and again.

So here are the things I know. First, you are going to love this story, from the first page to the last. I’ve been working really hard on it, getting editorial services early, and using all the lessons I learned from writing and publishing the first time. Shkode will consist of three novels, completing an overarching story line, and the books will be released in series.

There is still some uncertainty also. I have working titles for each book, and will release them as we move forward. Also, I don’t know what the schedule is going to be without a more expanded base for my efforts. I want to get this out as quickly as I can, but I really need more support (more publicity, more fans, more sales!) of Spireseeker before I can realistically promote a Kickstarter campaign or otherwise lay out the significant funds needed to complete this project. This won’t stop me from working on the trilogy, but it may delay me from moving forward with professional editing and illustration until we can get more exposure for Spireseeker.

Shkode is going to be awesome. I promise you. If you want to see this exciting project become reality I need your help:

Like me on Facebook: http://facebook.com/epicheals

Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/@atthisarts

Like Shkode on Facebook: http://facebook.com/dragon.trilogy

Like Spireseeker on Facebook: http://facebook.com/spireseeker

And most importantly, tell people about Spireseeker. Rate and review it on Amazon or Goodreads. It’s tough to get publicity as an independent author, so buy yourself a copy, read it, and buy one for a friend. Pick up a copy on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Also the signed hardcovers (available at Spireseeker.com) are beautiful and make a great holiday gift – we’ll sign it, personalize it (if you want) and ship it right to your recipient – just let us know in the comments field when you place the order.

I hope you are excited about joining me in bringing Shkode to life. I am. And most importantly, I hope everyone has a safe and warm holiday season. And don’t forget to snuggle up by the fire with a good book. Perhaps a specific book, if you know what I mean. ; )

Peace, Love, and Joy to you and yours -

E.D.E. Bell
15 December 2013

Sometimes it’s a Blizzard

If you would have told me that my first book signing would be during a blizzard after even the local Air Force Base had closed, I actually would have believed you.

Because otherwise it wouldn’t be life.

Twists and turns, ups and downs – it’s all ok. My husband and I, in an effort to try and get people reading Spireseeker, had been promoting a local book signing for a couple of months now. We dropped off flyers at friendly local small businesses, and spread the word via social media. The morning before the signing it was sunny and over 50 degrees outside. Then my husband asked, “Do you know there is a blizzard expected to hit tomorrow before your signing?” I simply sighed.

Of course it was a disappointment, when we had worked so hard. We knew that now the turnout would be light to none. Then the schools closed, then the base.

But I still knew I needed to be there. Even on the off chance that someone saw the flyer and decided to stop by, I couldn’t risk letting someone down that way. So we packed up the books, the wine, and the kids, and headed to the event.

We were surprised and humbled by the friends and family who braved the roads to stop by and say hello, some picking up a copy of the book. My brother and sister-in law, nephew, aunt, and uncle were there. Three colleagues and a friend’s mom came by to spend time with us. The staff of the host store (Life in Letters Gallery) graciously picked up some copies. And the local mayor even stopped by to get a signed book for his wife. I am truly grateful for such supportive friends and family. Without them, I would have stood for three hours in the blizzard probably not feeling so great. So thanks to those of you who were there for, instead, giving me a wonderful memory of a lovely evening. Even carrying the unopened boxes of books back to the car couldn’t mar the feelings of warmth and friendship.

My husband and I have received several regrets from people today, saying they intended to stop in and purchase a book, but the weather kept them away. Fear not – the book can still be yours! We don’t have plans for another signing right now, but you can still get a signed copy (or a paperback or e-book) anytime. We love the book, and think it would make a great holiday gift. And there is no shipping charge (in the U.S.) for hardcovers purchased from Spireseeker.com.

No blizzard is going to stop me from writing, in fact I hope that I’ve only just begun this adventure.

If you’d like to help us along, please consider:

  • Picking up an e-book or paperback (or a few) on Amazon.com
  • Buying a signed hardcover (or even a limited edition hardcover) on Spireseeker.com
  • Write a review. If you like the book, help us spread the word. Write reviews on Amazon.com or Goodreads.com – or anywhere else that suits you.
  • Tell your friends! So far, our best success has been people who have read the book enjoying it and coming back for more copies. So if you read it and you liked it, please let other people know.
  • Consider giving copies of Spireseeker as gifts: We think the book would make a great gift, either for the holidays, for winter birthdays, or just because!

I appreciate your continued support for my artistic endeavors, and I promise the next book will be even better. I’m really very excited about it.

The Earth is great and powerful, as are its blizzards. But I know in my heart that the power of creativity is just as great, and will continue to burn long after the ice crystals melt.

E.D.E. Bell
07 December 2013

What’s Next?

Well, as you know Spireseeker is finally out in all formats. It’s incredibly exciting to hear people say, “I’m reading your book.” Now, I just hope they like it.

As for me, everyone wants to know what’s next? Was this it? Nope, you haven’t seen the last of me yet. Not when I’ve learned so much. I’ve been working on the next project for at least a year. It’s a series of three books – yes, a trilogy. Yes, I know the emotion this evokes in some: trilogies are boring, trilogies are predictable. But I’m fine with it. The fact is, the three book series is a classic format, worthy of my efforts. And I promise you this one will be anything but boring.

I did receive some good advice from a friend, who said very simply, “Please don’t make the second book terrible. The second book is always terrible. Don’t do that to us.” Nice. And I won’t. The second book will be a thing of beauty.

And here’s your first hint: Dragons.

Octervations

So, having been quite a while since my last blog post, I tried a little experiment. Every day in October I made myself write down one observation from that day. As you will see, this is probably why I’ve never tweeted.

1 October – Heard The Guess Who on the radio twice today; they were one of the most enjoyable bands I’ve ever seen live.
2 October – Found my daughter sitting in the drivers’ seat of my car checking my Blackberry saying she wants to be like her mom.
3 October – Saw Brandon Sanderson at a signing today; it’s such a treat to hear an author read their own work.
4 October – As disappointing as this government shutdown is, I have to say the parking on base is terrific.
5 October – Took the kids to the Renaissance Festival today; it’s always good to learn about European history, including elves.
6 October – I don’t understand why people dislike rainy days so much, it’s really hard to beat a rainy Autumn Sunday.
7 October – I feel like profile pictures should be of that person, not their kids or pets. It’s ironic that hyper-identity dilutes identity.
8 October – Let’s not overdo the pumpkin spice theme, not when peppermint season is just around the corner.
9 October – The concept that you have to keep breathing continuously to stay alive kind of freaks me out. That’s a lot of responsibility.
10 October – The Exit 7 sign on I-675 North is tilting ominously. I wonder if it will fall over. I check on it daily, so far it seems fine.
11 October – I would say dark chocolate can cure anything, but it’s done a pretty poor job with weight loss.
12 October – There are few things as pleasant as fall colors as the leaves begin to change.
13 October – Today a Cleveland Police Officer welcomed me to his city and tipped his hat – civility is so underrated.
14 October – I agree Columbus Day should be replaced also, but people do need to calm down, nobody is actually celebrating Columbus.
15 October – I take it back – my son’s second grade class celebrated Columbus in art, prose, and trivia – please resume your commentary.
16 October – If, “Friday I’m In Love” comes on the radio on any day other than Friday, I change the channel. Yes, I still listen to radio.
17 October – My book was released on the same day as my son’s tenth birthday, I feel this presages good things for the next decade.
18 October – Funny that humans still find themselves so superior when we can be completely owned by microscopic viruses.
19 October – Pondering the awkward situation where the character in Carrie Underwood’s, “When He Cheats” learns none of her speculations were true.
20 October – I don’t want to buy things that are simply less expensive; I want to see a crossed out red price indicating what a good bargain I hunted.
21 October – Honestly, I don’t want to be subjected to awareness about anything for a month. I know, kick me out.
22 October – Sometimes when I watch the numbers rolling by on the gas pump, I visualize actual money flowing through the hose.
23 October – I often wonder when someone responds with, “Living the Dream” whether that means they don’t know where their classes are. Or forgot clothes.
24 October – My husband is an amazing person, just don’t tell him I said so.
25 October – My hardcover books shipped from the printer today, keep imagining them “on the truck” like a friend taking a voyage.
26 October – Blustery fall day, watching maple helicopters fly through the air, another reason I love Fall.
27 October – My son didn’t know how to turn off a piece of electronics I purchased in high school – apparently on/off switches are now obsolete.
28 October – Baffled by the concept of people liking Facebook ads without any apparent intent to buy the product. What is it they like?
29 October – Well my book (Spireseeker) is finally out on the street in all formats. It’s a little weird, and a lot me.
30 October – Everything about Facebook sort of freaks me out; it’s like being in an elevator with everyone you’ve ever known.
31 October – I don’t like being scared, and I don’t really like candy. But costumes are a little fun. Oh, well. Time for November.

Desert Island Playlist

Ok, just for fun, here’s my 50 song desert island playlist. Understanding this would probably change everytime I created it, here are my top 50 songs I’d take to my desert island. Today. There are several of my favorite artists that aren’t even on the list, but I figure they’d show up better under artists then songs, as I love their catalog, not just one song. I tried to leave off songs that have a special place in my life, or songs I’d want to make a statement with, and stick to songs I seriously want to listen to forever.

So fifty songs is just a sample, but maybe if you haven’t heard some of these you can check them out. (Retrospective note: Yes, I regret not including November Rain.)

50: Garbage, Stroke of Luck
I love Garbage – I almost went with Androgyny.

49: Gladys Knight & The Pips, I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Classic.

48: Marvin Gaye, Inner City Blues
Make me wanna holler, the way they do my life.

47: David Ruffin, My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)
Wonderful emotion.

46: Björk, Náttúra
I bet Mother Earth has this on five star.

45: Mary J. Blige, No More Drama
So tired of all this drama.

44: The Beatles, You Never Give Me Your Money
A long time favorite.

43: Jesus Christ Superstar, Heaven On Their Minds
Because my mind is clearer now.

42: ELO, Mr. Blue Sky
Never mind; I’ll remember you this way.

41: James Taylor, Your Smiling Face
I sing it to myself when work gets me down. No one can tell me that I’m doing wrong today…

40: Giorgia, Arriva Il Temporale
Sono solo una donna.

39: Lady Gaga, Judas
It’s also among the best music videos I’ve ever seen.

38: Björk, Pluto
Not for the faint of heart. But brilliant.

37: Fiona Apple, The Way Things Are
I wouldn’t know what to do with another chance, if you gave it to me.

36: The Isley Brothers, Voyage To Atlantis
Because I do want some cheese with that wine.

35: Lisa Loeb, Garden of Delights
You are my Jesus, boy, you’re laying on a bedley cross. I’ve got you taped up to the wall.

34: Elton John, Rocket Man
None of us are the men they think we are.

33: Kelly Clarkson, If No One Will Listen
Always moves me.

32: Fiona Apple, Left Alone
‘Cause I’m hard. Too hard to know.

31: Lady Gaga, The Edge Of Glory
Did you know it’s about death?

30: Lisa Loeb, This
Like my blog, this is where I can tell you everything.

29: Alanis Morissette, Your Congratulations
I’ll never forget seeing her perform this as a live, a cappella, encore.

28: Wham!, Careless Whisper
Funny, George writes this off. But George is wrong.

27: Madonna, Frozen
If I could melt your heart.

26: Gwen Stefani, Early Winter
Over and over and over.

25: No Doubt, New Friend
Never made it onto the album, but it’s amazing.

24: Diana Ross, Missing You
Raw.

23: The Temptations, Cloud Nine
Up, up and away.

22: Michael Jackson, Unbreakable
And you – can’t touch me. Cause I’m untouchable.

21: George Michael, Freedom 90
That’s what you get for changing your mind.

20: The Isley Brothers, Love The One You’re With
Good advice, if you take it the right way. If you’re used to the other recording, this one is better.

19: Björk, Hyperballad
I’m back at my cliff, still throwing things off.

18: Michael Jackson, Man In The Mirror
One of the most moving vocals in recorded pop.

17: The Beatles, While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Check out the “Love” version too. Stunning.

16: Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, You’re All I Need To Get By
Love you, Ashford and Simpson.

15: Fiona Apple, To Your Love
Another chain of thought too hard to follow. Trust me, I know.

14: Michael Jackson, Human Nature
Irresistible.

13: Bobby Brown, My Prerogative
Equally happy with Britney version. Hey. They say I’m nasty, but I don’t give a damn.

12: The Cure, Lovesong
This song could describe my feelings about this song.

11: Gordon Lightfoot, If You Could Read My Mind
Poetry as legitimate as any. Always moves me.

10: Fiona Apple, Criminal
If I’m on a desert island, I must have done something.

09: The Lion King, Endless Night
Medicine for my spirits.

08: Sarah McLaughlin, Dirty Little Secret
I gave up the fight years ago.

07: Madonna, What It Feels Like For A Girl (Remix)
Good that I’m on a desert island; this song is dangerous while driving.

06: Cyndi Lauper, True Colors
That’s why I love you.

05: Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine
I still only travel by foot and by foot it’s a slow climb.

04: Madonna, Human Nature
Oops, I didn’t know I couldn’t speak my mind.

03: The Beatles, In My Life
Danced with my dad to this at my wedding. DJ told me it was inappropriate to dance with my dad first. I said no it’s not.

02: The Jackson Five, I Want You Back
Magic. Just magic.

01: The Temptations, I Can’t Get Next To You
Didn’t know this was my favorite song? See, that’s sort of the point.

Still on the island with me? Excellent! Thanks for listening, and don’t worry; it’s on repeat.

Stage

Touching Björk’s Stage.

Drawing the Line

By now, most people have realized that I’m a vegetarian.  The reason they have to realize it at all is that even though I’m proud of my choices, I’ve spent the last fifteen years downplaying them.  (The last time I ate meat, the Spice Girls’ debut album was hot.)  I don’t think people should be overzealous in pushing their beliefs (it can be quite rude), but to have to constantly downplay them is really sort of a bummer.  (Sadly, this is not even the belief I downplay the most but we’ll leave that for the moment.)

I just have a real lack of desire to deal with the overenthusiastic, sarcastic comments.  Whether someone immediately declares they want to eat a, “big juicy steak,” makes a joke about eating vegetarians, or raves about bacon in a “pig voice,” I just don’t want to hear it.  I don’t react to other people’s values that way, and I’m guessing most people haven’t thought about what it would be like to have their own beliefs mocked.

The bottom line is, I’m never going to try to convince you.  There are people, and organizations out there that make the case much more comprehensively than I could, and if you aren’t listening to them, you won’t listen to me.

I will try, though, to put the whole thing in perspective.  Vegetarianism isn’t really so out there.  I’ve never met a person who would eat anything, because I’ve never met a cannibal.  And even they likely have limits.  So everyone draws their line somewhere.  Mine is perhaps different than yours, and I wish people would respect that.

I don’t know anyone that would eat human meat.  (And if you think that’s disgusting, then you’ve taken your first step toward understanding vegetarians.)  Most people I know won’t eat primates, dogs, or cats.  Some of the most enthusiastic omnivores I know are enraged by the ethics of eating a dog.  At least half of the people I know won’t eat organ meat.  Many people, including my husband, won’t eat veal, foie gras, or other meat products produced by particularly cruel practices.  I know several people who won’t eat red meat.  I worked with a guy once who would only eat meat that he personally hunted, because he knew how the animal was treated.

And this is where I’ll probably start to lose you.  Pescetarians only eat meat from seafood.  Vegetarians, by definition, won’t eat animal flesh or derivative (like gelatin).  Vegans won’t eat eggs, dairy, animal byproduct, or foods produced using captive animals (like honey).  I’ve met people who don’t eat fungus.  Raw foodists including raw vegans don’t cook their food; I used to volunteer with one and he taught me a lot about it.  Strict Jains won’t eat root vegetables, and many fruitarians only eat fruits and only after they have fallen from the plant.

It is a known and oft discussed fact that for humans to sustain themselves, they are required to eat either something that was alive or could become life (like a seed).  But that doesn’t preclude people from having intelligent, reasonable debates about what practices they are willing to support, and the types of foods they are willing to put into their body.

I don’t really care about pop stars, but just for fun did you know that Natalie Portman, Alanis Morissette, Robin Gibb, Fiona Apple, Prince, Carrie Underwood, Weird Al, Eddie Vedder, Shania Twain, Michael Bolton, and Michael Dorn are vegetarian (or vegan)?  That’s right – Worf is a vegan.  Bob Barker, Fred Rogers, Johnny Appleseed, John Kellogg, and half of the Beatles were vegetarians.  Yep, Mr. Rogers and the guy who headlined the last Olympics.  What about athletes?  Carl Lewis, Tony Gonzales, and Bode Miller to name a few.  Even one of our former presidents is now vegan, though driven by health concerns.

So maybe you don’t care about celebrities either, well except Mr. Rogers of course.  But the roster of vegetarians also includes Gautama Buddha, Mohandas Gandhi, Pythagoras, Confucius, Leonardo DaVinci, and Albert Einstein.  If I’m a fool, I’m at least in some good company.

If you still hate it, I don’t actually care.  But it would be nice if you’d keep those thoughts to yourself.  For each her own, you know.  And if you’re interested in hearing more, do the research and draw your own conclusions.  I’m always happy to answer sincere respectful questions.  Drop me a line anytime.

Cheers,
Emily.

http://www.ivu.org/
http://www.aspca.org/
http://www.humanesociety.org/

TG2012

Thanksgiving 2012