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29 December 2010

COLORADO COLLEEN: Check my essay on skiing in The Denver Post


If you are or were an alpine skier--or rider--you'll appreciate the sentiments.

If you're not, you'll better understand why we skiers risk life and limb, endure traffic jams, and potentially suffer frostbite--all at a pretty penny.

That's me after a long day on the slopes at Arapahoe Basin, Colorado, last season. Pardon my helmet hair.


The Denver Post published "Skiing: An elevated state" Monday.
That's me after a long day on the slopes at Arapahoe Basin, Colorado, last season.


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24 December 2010

25 Christmas quotes: Join us at Friday Jones Publishing on Facebook


To celebrate the season and
to offer succor to anybody suffering Christmas blues, I'm posting 25 Christmas quotes and uplifting images on Friday Jones Publishing's Facebook page today.
I hope you will join us there.

Merry Christmas!


Photo courtesy of James Baca Share/Save/Bookmark

19 December 2010

Winter Solstice, full lunar eclipse: Rare celestial event coming soon to sky near you


Leroy Leonard is the most accomplished amateur astronomer I know, and he's also able to articulate astrophysics to help the rest of us grasp what he understands. Here, Leroy offers his insights to this Winter Solstice full lunar eclipse:

"Hey Colleen! Let’s see, lunar eclipses occur about twice a year. That means that, statistically, any given day in the year – including the winter solstice - has about a 1/182.5 chance of hosting one. OK, the average life expectancy for someone born in 2010 is 67 years. That is a tad over 1/3 the possibility of lunar eclipses on a given day in one year. So, this eclipse is about a once-in-three-life-times event. Another way to put it is to say, that if you want to see a lunar eclipse on the Winter Solstice, you’d better do it this time because, from a statistical stand point, you’d have to be reincarnated three times to have another shot at it! (Please don’t argue that the actual moment of solstice happens the several hours after the eclipse. I think this one counts.)
To help you not miss it, here is the schedule: Eclipse begins Monday Dec 20 at 11:32 p.m. MST Totality begins 12:40 a.m. MST Mid Eclipse 1:17 a.m. MST Totality ends 1:53 a.m. MST Eclipse ends 3:01 a.m. MST."

Thanks, Leroy. I'll set my alarm clock!
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Christmas angels' hand-painted glory in Munich Glass


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"It came upon a midnight clear, that glorious song of old, from angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold."

Christmas angels--notice the star at lower left--in Munich glass window at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Denver, Colorado. The cathedral, also designated a basilica, inspired the setting for the newly released, critically acclaimed novel "Glass Halo" by Colleen Smith.

Photo courtesy of James Baca

18 December 2010

Christmas nostalgia: "Bring joy to your heart"


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This Christmas,
bring joy to your heart."

17 December 2010

Christmas nostalgia


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16 December 2010

CD REVIEW: "Love Is Strange" ~ Jackson Browne & David Lindley


“Love is strange": That's an understatement, and also the title of the 2-CD fiesta of acoustic, eclectic, mostly Jackson Browne songs recorded live in Spain.

Love is strange, yet no more so than David Lindley--the man Browne calls “a longtime friend and compatriot” and also “maestro.” Lindley is strange in terms of unabashed quirkiness: runaway sideburns, loud polyester shirts, epic tales of headcheese, cheesy references to “Elvis,” and oddball self-portrait caricatures on his website.

Mr. Dave also is strange in the sense of the hermit, as Browne explains in his entertaining liner notes describing “stalking the wild Lindley.”

Best known as a featured accompanist for Browne, Lindley’s string theory also backed Warren Zevon, Rod Steward, Ry Cooder, Linda Rondstadt, Aaron Neville, Dolly Parton, Emmy Lou Harris, Dan Fogelberg, John Prine, America, Bread, Shawn Colvin, Karla Bonoff, The Bangles, Bonnie Kolac, James Taylor, Leo Sayer, Marshall Crenshaw, Crosby, Stills, Nash and others.

Lindley performed on Browne’s albums from “For Everyman” (1973) to “I’m Alive” (1996) and joined the tour again last year. Lindley’s strings add more than historical tones to old songs such as “For Everyman” and “Call It A Loan.” His twangs and twists make these old songs new again.

Browne has polished his vocals against four decades of performing. His sometimes gravely delivery sounds authentically melancholic. Browne gets a bit bluesy, but does not stretch for high “Disco Apocalypse” notes of his days of yore.

Lindley, however, does. Mr. Dave’s startling clear falsetto is fully intact on “Stay.”

Along with classics from Browne’s canon, “Love is Strange” includes songs by Lindley and others. Fringe fans might find themselves annoyed at rambling introductions in Browne’s “Espanol di California” and Barcelonian lisp. A couple of Browne’s songs are covered by friends who are popular recording artists native to Spain, where cuts were taped live at five gigs.

Initially, I was disappointed that instead of Browne, a woman I’ve never heard of sings “These Days.” But Luz Casal’s charming accent—particularly the way she says, before the song, “Hey, Yackson”—won me over, and Lindley’s fiddle licks transform the existential heft of this classic. Following the last lyric- “Don’t confront me with my failures; I have not forgotten them”--Lindley tickles a jaunty fiddle riff that leaves listeners more uplifted than the original track did.

In the end, I found myself wishing Casal had added backup vocals in the tradition of Rosemary Butler.

I applaud exotic notes added by Celtic whistle, Hawaiian guitar, cajon, bouzouki and banduria. And given Browne’s international scope, the cross-cultural collaboration seems perfectly appropriate.

Crank it up and imagine the players performing in casa. One of the best aspects is hearing the tuning, and the bandmaster’s directions such as—on “Your Bright Baby Blues”—when Browne says, “No, it’s you; it’s you; it’s you, David.”

Love is strange; and love is gracious, too. Jackson Browne generously shares his secured limelight with some Spanish peers; and the amigos pull off this transcontinental musical summit with simpatico and aplomb.

Bueno!

Colleen Smith’s critically acclaimed first novel, “Glass Halo,” is available at bookstores, Amazon.com and GlassHaloNovel.com. The novel was selected from among 448 entries as a finalist for the Sante Fe Literary Prize.

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06 December 2010

THE WRITTEN WORD: Raymond Carver & Barry Hannah


Yesterday's New York Times Book Review--the holiday edition--weighed in at a splendid 68 pages. Near the back of the book, on "Paperback Row," a brief item noted that "Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life" now is available in paperback.

Also yesterday, in The Denver Post, William Porter's piece about Barry Hannah caught my eye. Titled, "A rogue's gallery of the south," Porter's story reviewed "Long, Last, Happy, New, and Selected Stories."

Both writers struggled with alcoholism. Both writers reportedly struggled with their relationships with women.

And both writers were on the Iowa Writers' Workshop scene--still drinkers, then--when I was a student at the University of Iowa.

I remember Raymond Carver reading his story "Feathers"--a hilarious yet sad story typical of his ouvre.

Stephen King originally reviewed the Carver bio for the Book Review and dubbed the book "meticulous and heartbreaking" and "a welcome and necessary corrective." The Book Review went on to include the biography by Carol Sklenicka in their list of the 10 Best Books of 2009.

For regular posts on books--and also dogs, art, gardens and more--join us on Friday Jones Publishing's Facebook page.

Wag your tale.

Colleen Smith’s debut novel Glass Halo, set in Denver, was a finalist for the Santa Fe Literary Prize and was praised in the latest issue of The Bloomsbury Review. The novel is available online and through your favorite bookstore.

To learn more, visit FridayJonesPublishing.com and GlassHaloNovel.com, become a friend on Facebook, or follow FridayPublisher on Twitter.

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05 December 2010

THE WRITTEN WORD: Encounter With a Young Writer After My Book-Signing Yesterday


Yesterday, after a book-signing I did at the invitation of a local bookstore, a young woman approached me. She was petite, pale, brunette. She wore a canvas messenger bag across her torso, and clutched some notebooks as if they were her child. We were at Fireside Books & Coffee in Englewood, Colorado.

In the photo, "Glass Halo"--my first novel--enjoys a prominent place at Fireside Books & Coffee in Englewood, Colorado.

“So you own a publishing company now,” the young woman said, a statement not a question.

"Friday Jones Publishing," I said, trying to peek at messages on my iPhone.

“That’s pretty cool,” she said.

“Yeah,” I admitted, not really up for a conversation, feeling somehow drained from standing up to speak about my novel to a room filled with strangers, including this young woman.

But people in bookstores tend to be gentle people. I tend to like people who like books.

And this girl seemed friendly enough, curious. “So you worked on that book for almost 27 years? she asked, astonishment twinkling in her eyes.

“Off and on,” I said. “I wrote another novel in tandem. When I got lost on one, I went back to the other.” I wondered how old she might be. “Are you still in school?” I asked. She had a dreamy, authentic look in her eyes. Her face was entirely unlined, a smattering of freckles across her little nose and plump, ivory cheeks.

She announced herself a novelist many times over, this girl

“I’m 17 years old. I’ve already written several novels," she said. "But they’re childish." She had long dark hair. She stared up at me.

"So do you have a writing program at your high school?" I asked, remembering how nervous I used to get whenever talking to a "real" writer while I was a student in the Iowa Writer's Workshop. Suddenly, I saw myself in this 17-year-old.

She told me she was in a small, experiential learning high school with only about 100 students. "So we don't have much. I like short stories," she said; and we clicked.

"It's one of my favorite forms," I said, now truly interested in our conversation.

We spoke of sentences. Short stories. Plot. Characters, and whether they needed to change.

“I just like a beautiful sentence next to another beautiful sentence,” I confessed to her. “Sometimes, that’s enough for me.”

She nodded. We shared a giggle over our agreement.

“Sometimes, I like to write just dialogue. And sometimes, I like to write with no dialogue, at all,” she said.

I knew she had it bad, the writing bug. I detected her literary fever. “It’s good to experiment,” I said.

“I like to write horror,” she said.

“Then you must like all the Dracula books out now,” I said.

“Oh, no.” She gave me solemn look. “They’re childish.”

She, at 17, arbiter of childish.

And then they were calling for a group photo of the authors.

“Colleen,” I heard my name called.

“That’s me,” I said. I wish I would have asked her name. I wanted to tell her, “Run! Run from writing: It’s too difficult. Cultivate a career in gardening.” I wanted to say, on the other hand, “Follow your writing. It will inform your life with wonder and gratification.” But instead I said, “Good luck with your writing.”

And then I took my place among five other local authors lined up before the fireplace at Fireside Books & Coffee as she watched.

I wish I had thought to give her a copy of my book.

Colleen Smith’s debut novel Glass Halo, set in Denver, was a finalist for the Santa Fe Literary Prize and was praised in the latest issue of The Bloomsbury Review. The novel is available online and through your favorite bookstore.

To learn more, visit FridayJonesPublishing.com and GlassHaloNovel.com, become a friend on Facebook, or follow FridayPublisher on Twitter.

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