Thoughts of gratitude in the new year

The holiday season has come and gone once again. As always, I view it as bittersweet. The holidays bring up too many reminders of my son Paul who died just three months shy of his 28th New Year’s Eve birthday. We visited his gravesite on his 45th birthday – as we do on his death day and birthday every year. I also view the holiday season with gratitude. Besides my continued good health, the love and support of so many family members and friends, and my ability to live a productive life, that I can even think in terms of being grateful is a miracle. However, as bad as life was after Paul died, and as much as I continue to miss him, I have found out that with such a tragedy come unexpected gifts. Paul’s death has made me a stronger person, physically and emotionally. It was as if I accomplished getting stronger through brute force. I met and interacted with people who had been through similar experiences; I took writing classes and workshops; I went back to work outside my home with … [Read more...]

1,796 total views, 2 views today

The jazz age, Chicago, and murder – read Sugarland

I’m happy to introduce Martha Conway and her new book, Sugarland: A Jazz Age Mystery, to my Choices readers as part of her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book (blog) tour. About Sugarland: In 1921, two women, a black jazz pianist named Eve and a white nurse named Lena, join forces after a drive-by shooting nearly kills them. Eve is looking for her missing stepsister, and Lena wants to find out who murdered her brother, a petty bootlegger killed in the shooting. Sugarland recently received a Reader’s Favorite Book Award. Genre: Historical Fiction Hardcover: 314 pages (also available in paperback and e-book) Noontime Books: June 1, 2016 ISBN: 978-0991618552 About the author: Martha Conway’s debut novel 12 Bliss Street (St. Martin’s Minotaur) was nominated for an Edgar Award while Thieving Forest won an Independent Publishers Book Award, the Laramie Award, a Reader’s Choice Award and the 2014 North American Book Award in Historical Fiction. Her short fiction has appeared … [Read more...]

3,079 total views, no views today

Everybody is talking about sisterhood

Everybody at Women on Writing is talking about Sisterhood today. And so am I. But first I want to tell you about Therese Walsh’s new novel The Moon Sisters so you can join our celebration. In The Moon Sisters, her second novel, Therese Walsh wanted to write about one sister’s quest to find will-o’-the-wisp light, which was her mother’s unfulfilled dream. Also called “foolish fires”, these lights are sometimes seen over wetlands and are thought to lead those who follow them to treasure. Despite the promise, they are never captured and sometimes lead to injury or even death for adventurers who follow them. The metaphor of that fire – that some dreams and goals are impossible to reach, and that hope itself may not be innately good – eventually rooted its way into deeper meaning as the Moon sisters tried to come to terms with real-world dreams and hopes, and with each other, in their strange new world.  Olivia and Jazz Moon are polar opposites: one a dreamy synesthete, able to see sou … [Read more...]

16,736 total views, 2 views today

Finding music in my life

Today’s post is in participation with Women On Writing’s mass-blogging event, Everybody is Talking About Finding the Music in Life. We are celebrating the release of Sonia’s Song by Sonia Korn-Grimani. To read Sonia’s post and follow our symphony of participating bloggers visit The Muffin. Share your comments on any participating blog for a chance to win a copy of Sonia’s Song! One reader will also win! I will send in the name of one commenting visitor to be entered into the WOW drawing for a copy of Sonia’s Song in either print or ebook (winner’s choice), and from those entries one winner will be chosen at random. (The contest is open until 11:59 pm Thursday, October 18th—I will send in my randomly chosen reader’s entry by noontime Friday, October 19th (Mountain Time) My jazzman. That he was. I couldn’t do this topic justice without writing about my son Paul and his music. We lost him to suicide in 1999 as a result of his bipolar disorder. Very early, from the time he … [Read more...]

4,256 total views, no views today

More birthday thoughts

Paul, age nine, showing off his ability to play the saxophone Though Paul always showed an interest in the piano – even as a baby – his first music lessons were at school on a rented saxophone when he was nine years old. But after a year and bumpy progress in his ability to play that instrument, he asked for a synthesizer. We said we’d get him one once he learned to play our piano. So at age ten he committed to piano lessons and regular practicing and within a year we knew he had a special talent. By the time of his Bar Mitzvah when he was thirteen, he had his synthesizer and a growing interest in jazz music. The next year he enrolled in Crossroads High School and auditioned to be in its jazz ensemble. He was admitted. Paul as a jazzman never looked back. My Jazzman My jazzman beat it out on the mighty eighty-eights, played those riffs, tapped his feet bent his head down to the keys, felt those sounds on his fingertips. Yeah, he was a hot man on those eight … [Read more...]

1,880 total views, 2 views today

I’m not quite ready for the jazz scene yet

Paul playing the piano at home The last night of our trip to Portland we all decided to go to Tony Starlight’s http://www.tonystarlight.com to listen to jazz. My brother-in-law Tom is heavily involved with the jazz scene in Portland and is the president of the board of the 2011 Portland Jazz Festival. A group of three young men from Switzerland, playing piano, bass, and, drums, performed that night. Well I’m not sure if attending that show was the wisest decision for me. I hadn’t purposely gone to hear jazz since my son Paul died almost twelve years ago, and once there and listening to the music, all I could do was compare that group to many similar trios Paul used to play – all young men playing avant-garde tunes. However, this music was hard to listen to – quite discordant in a lot of parts, and they played nothing recognizable. Though Tom compared Paul’s music to theirs, I feel that Paul’s music was much more melodic. He played his riffs on the high notes; they played loud cho … [Read more...]

2,307 total views, no views today

A new month, a new song by Paul Sharples

Please go to the second page of this blog and scroll down to play another song by Paul. And read his story and ours in: Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide. The book is now available on: Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Leaving-Hall-Light-Madeline-Sharples/dp/0984631720/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1304004639&sr=1-1%22 Barnes and Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Leaving-the-Hall-Light-On/Madeline-Sharples/e/9780984631728/?itm=1&USRI=leaving+the+hall+light+on … [Read more...]

1,662 total views, no views today

My Jazzman

A young man whom Paul roomed with on Suffolk Street in downtown Manhattan contacted me today. And though his email is most welcome, it made me think of My Jazzman even more. My jazzman beat it out on the mighty eighty-eights, played those riffs, tapped his feet bent his head down to the keys, felt those sounds on his fingertips. Yeah, he was a hot man on those eighty-eights. But all too soon his bag grew dark. He went down, deep down. My jazzman played the blues, lost that spark, closed the lid. And, yeah, you got it right, quit the scene. laid himself down in that bone yard for the big sleep. Yeah, for the really big sleep. … [Read more...]

3,004 total views, 5 views today