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There’s no alternative for 90s alternative music

June 3rd 2014

All the bands featured in Grunge Gods are bands I listened to as a teenager. And they are bands I listen to now.

Radiohead. Tori Amos. Bush. The Afghan Whigs. Bjork. Sarah McLachlan.

I was careful when selecting song titles to use as chapter headings so that the songs represented the tone and theme of the chapter. And that all the songs were released before September 1996. (Side note: The band is called The Prodigy, not Prodigy. I learned that late. Did anyone else know this?)

Here’s the playlist (via Spotify) for Grunge Gods and Graveyards. Each of these song titles is a chapter heading. And then if you’re up to it, tell me in the comments which song from the playlist you loved most. Enjoy!

Anytime I hear 90s music I’m transported back in time. The minute I hear Sarah McLachlan’s “Ice Cream” or The Wallflowers’ “One Headlight,” I’m back in my friend’s car driving to high school at 7am. Space Hog’s “In the Meantime” makes me think of junior year art class (the teacher kept the radio on) when I made a terrible sculpture of my dog, Rudy. (My mom still has it.) Oasis…man, anytime I hear “Wonderwall” I think of a ridiculous short story I wrote where I based the romantic lead on Liam Gallagher. (He was such a hottie in the video.)

Music was such a big part of my teenage life, as I imagine it is for most teens today. However, I discovered new bands via music videos on MTV. MTV was a far cry from what it used to be. Sure, we had reality shows (The Real World!) and dating shows (Singled Out!) and my all-time favorite sketch comedy show, The State!!!, but we also had music videos. Plenty of them. We didn’t have YouTube. We had to wait until they were on the TV to actually see them. My friend would call me (on my own phone line cuz I was cool like that) and say, “Quick. Put on MTV. The Bjork video is on!” And I’d stop whatever I was doing to run to my TV and turn on channel 30 (I think, VH1 might’ve been 29) just to watch the video. I’d be so grateful to her for calling me because I would’ve hated to miss it.

Music was everything back then. I became obsessed with my musician idols like Tori Amos and The Afghan Whigs. I used to daydream about being Greg Dulli’s girlfriend and tried to justify in my head the 14-year age difference. The Afghan Whigs are touring this year and will be in NYC in October, but alas, I’m nursing a baby. Plus, it’s my husband’s birthday weekend and I feel bad dragging him to a concert (an awesome concert) when it’s not his thing. Alas, these are the concessions we make as adults.

I still listen to 90s alternative rock. It’s been difficult for me to discover new music. I discovered a few new bands when they were (and I’m not ashamed to admit this) when they were featured on Gossip Girl. MGMT! Manchester Orchestra! Check them out.

I could ramble on and on about 90s music, but I’d much rather hear about the music you love. Share in the comments your favorite bands, either from the 90s or now. Or before. Can’t count out classic rock.

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Old Tennent Cemetery

June 3rd 2014

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been fascinated with graveyards and cemeteries. (Do you know the difference between a graveyard and a cemetery? A graveyard is on consecrated ground and a cemetery is not.) It kind of began when my grandmother would take me on a “tour” of the Jewish cemetery where all our relatives are buried. When I was a little kid, all these older relatives died around the same time — my grandpa’s sister and brother; my great grandparents. My brother and I were too little to be left alone so we went to the funerals and my grandmother would feed me sponge cake and show me the family plots. She’d place a stone on top of the headstones of our relatives and tell me about them. Then we’d walk around and explore. The one tidbit I remember the most was when she showed me a headstone in the shape of a tree trunk. “It’s for a young person who was cut down in the prime of their life,” she had said. Anyway, I’ve never associated cemeteries with anything morbid or macabre. For me, they’re like taking a tour of history.

[I’ve meandered through cemeteries in Boston and Key West (Key West City Cemetery being my favorite). To check out some of my cemetery pics, go to my Pinterest page here.]

When I was a sophomore in high school, my neighbor and I walked from our high school to the Old Tennent Cemetery. It was a quick walk down Church Lane meant to kill some time and satiate some curiosity. There were rumors that the pews inside the church still had blood stains from Revolutionary War soldiers (P.S. I used this tidbit in my book). We never went inside the church but we did find some interesting tombstones. If I recall, a relative of Cotton Mather is buried in the cemetery (we were reading The Crucible that year).

I recently returned to the cemetery this April when I made the two-hour pilgrimage home to Manalapan and my dad and I stopped in to take some photos. Well, I jumped out of the car and my dad stayed with my boys in the minivan. I wish I could’ve spent more time there, but I did come away with some cool photos.

The sign upon entering the cemetery

The sign upon entering the cemetery

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Old Tennent Cemetery

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Looks like a Freemason symbol is engraved on the tombstone

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A very old headstone

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Look how close these graves are to one another

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Clearly a new stone; a fascinating read

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A larger view

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Col. John Conover’s stone

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Glad to see some stones are still intact

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A close-up view of the church

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Plaque on the church exterior

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How gorgeous is this!

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Release Day!

June 3rd 2014

Thank you so much for stopping by on Grunge Gods and Graveyards‘ release day!

Grunge Gods ebook is only $2.99, cheaper than a Starbucks visit.

AmazonBarnes-and-Noble

 

My long-time dream of being a published author has come true and it took many years to get here. Grunge Gods began in my head as a YA version of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. There was something incredibly romantic about a girl falling in love with a ghost because well…it can’t end happily. Or can it?

In an earlier draft, I had set the novel in the present with Lainey being our modern day heroine and Danny having died in 1996. Lainey originally was from Hoboken and was sent to Ash to live with her aunt and uncle while her sister was recuperating from a mental breakdown. But then something made me switch gears. I wanted the entire novel set in 1996. Perhaps I was feeling nostalgic for my teenage years, but mostly I was feeling nostalgic for 90s music. I wanted the characters to talk about my favorite 90s bands as I spoke of them all those years ago. And so I emailed an author friend and asked her, ‘Can I set a YA novel in the 90s?’ ‘Sure,’ she said. ‘Why not?’ Why not? Because themes like friendship, identity and love are timeless. Teens today will get that.

I want to thank everyone who has stopped by today. I’m feeling overwhelmed, excited and anxious, but most of all honored you’re here to help me celebrate.

To commemorate the release of Grunge Gods, my fabulous critique partner, Leandra, and I are going to do some fun blog posts and giveaways!

The prizes are:

Grand Prize: $25 Amazon Giftcard

First Prize: $15 Amazon Giftcard (courtesy of Leandra)

Second Prizes: Signed copy of the paperback.

Make sure to enter the Rafflecopter to win!

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And, Leandra is giving away amazing guitar charms. One commenter from each blog post will win.Grunge Gods and Graveyards

Here is the schedule:

Noon (EST): Graveyards and cemeteries! I’m blogging about Old Tennent Cemetery in Manalapan, NJ and I’ve included photos. Leandra is blogging about her neighborhood cemetery in Indiana. Because graveyards and cemeteries are awesome and chock full of history.

3pm (EST): We’re talking about the best decade for music ever — the 90s! Leandra will feature some excerpts from the book and give readers a chance to win a little something.

6pm (EST): I’m blogging about 90s fashion and what characters would wear on a typical day in 1996. Leandra is interviewing me on her blog.

9pm (EST): It’s time to say goodnight and give hearty thanks to everyone who made today possible.

Don’t forget to head over to Leandra’s blog at noon to see her graveyard pics. See you back here at noon.

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I had me a baby…in my car

May 15th 2014

On Friday, May 9th I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in the trunk of my minivan in the parking lot of the Frankford Township Municipal Building in NJ. And no, I am not kidding. Turns out, my biggest fear of giving birth in my car actually came true. And everything worked out fine. She was born healthy, with no complications, into the loving arms of her father who caught her. Her birth certificate will be filed in the municipal office feet from where she was born.

Friends and family have asked my husband and I how we were able to remain calm during the birth. Truthfully, my two previous unmedicated waterbirths with my midwife group were my preparation. I knew what to expect. I knew that my contractions were so intense that we’d never make it to the hospital. I knew to pull over. I knew to get into my spacious trunk and get on my hands and knees to birth my baby. (I’ll spare you some details). But I also knew I could handle this. I knew she’d be born okay. My husband knew how to deliver her.

We got this.

I have to thank the NJ State troopers (Officers Cisko and Jacinto!!) who arrived on scene within moments of me climbing into the trunk of our car. They helped my husband clear out our baby’s mouth and wrapped her in my husband’s t-shirt. They warmed her up and assured me she was doing well. They coordinated the EMTs and were kind and friendly to my two boys (oh yeah, did I forget to mention my two-year-old and four-year-old were in the car the entire time, completely oblivious. Thank God). One of the troopers also drove my minivan to the hospital when my typically unflappable husband was too shaken up to drive.

Anyway…so that was my Mother’s Day weekend. How’d yours go?

Our baby girl

Our baby girl

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39 weeks

May 1st 2014

I’m 39 weeks pregnant today. 39 ginormous weeks pregnant. I’m tired, cranky and uncomfortable. I have no motivation to write either which makes me feel like a bad author. On the fun side (besides anticipating my baby girl’s arrival), I’m having a blast planning my blog posts for the Grunge Gods and Graveyards virtual release party (scheduled for later this month). My CP, Leandra, and I have some creative blog posts cooked up for the day including 90s playlists, character fashion shows and graveyard photo blasts (I took a bunch of photos of my hometown’s historic cemetery).

In addition, I got inspired to write a cozy adult mystery series because concentrating on new projects distracts me from being uncomfortable. I really should be working on my two YA projects, but it’s hard to think when you feel like a blue whale.

If anyone has any good cozy mystery writing resources, please post them in the comments section. I’ll add them to my For Writers page.

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