I’m serializing the first 10% of State of Love & Trust here on my blog. It’s a story about Pearl Jam fans in Detroit’s oldest neighborhood, Corktown.
This is the first installment.
Ellie – Detroit, Mich. – Tuesday, May 20, 2006
I pulled the Yield bus into a rest stop somewhere between Grand Rapids and Detroit. Seeing Pearl Jam three times in four days was the kind of thing I lived for, but at two in the morning after the third show, I was cracked.
Wednesday evening, 63° and clear Listening to My Morning Jacket, Grab a Body
This morning my daughter Charlotte, who is away studying agriculture at Michigan State University, texted some images to me. She’s currently reading State of Love & Trustand was inspired to draw this story’s characters. This got me thinking about the keys I use when describing fictional characters.
A little backstory: I have always written, and Charlotte has always drawn. I still have the first person she ever drew, which looked like a smiling potato with stick arms and legs. That was pretty impressive detail for a two-year-old.
Throughout much her childhood I’ve been working on one novel or another, and the roots of State of Love & Trust go back to when she was still in elementary school. She always asked if she could read my story, and I always said yes … when you’re 18. But as it happened, I put that manuscript away for a lot of years and began polishing it for publication shortly after she’d left for college.Continue Reading Character Drawings
Thursday night, 70°F Listening to The Rolling Stones, Let It Loose
Or how I got copyright permission on lyrics from Pearl Jam
How many times have you been told that you can’t put lyrics in your novel? That it’s impossible (or at least prohibitively expensive) to obtain copyright permission on lyrics? If it’s important to your novel, then it’s worth the effort to try. I did, and it wasn’t nearly as difficult as people claim. I’m so glad I didn’t let their negativity discourage me.
First things first: you absolutely must get copyright permission on lyrics before you publish them in your manuscript. Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s the law.
On August 17, 2016, I made a post explaining why the words of Saint Wozniak’s Whipping tattoo were left out of my novel, State of Love & Trust. In short, his tattoo is the first stanza of the Pearl Jam song, Whipping, and therefore protected by copyright. At the time I wrote that post, I was well into the process of attempting to obtain permission from music publisher Hal Leonard. Based on everything I’d read while researching copyright issues, I fully expected it to be too expensive. But I had to at least ask. Those lyrics fit Saint’s reckless, hard headed character too perfectly for me to not at least try to get them included.Continue Reading A Banner Day
[UPDATE: When I wrote this post on using copyrighted lyrics, I was doubtful that I’d be able to obtain the proper permissions. Happily, Pearl Jam and music publisher Hal Leonard came through, granting me permission to include these lyrics in my novel. Lesson: If you want something, it’s worth asking for.]
In the first chapter of my novelState of Love & Trust, the character Saint Wozniak peels up his Mother Love Bone tank shirt to reveal the entire first stanza of Whipping inked in a neat typewriter font on his shoulder blade. Those lyrics, which he says are his favorite, matter to the novel. Yet they are not included anywhere in the text, and for good reason.Continue Reading Saint’s Whipping Tattoo
This book is about Robin Chelsea, a fairly normal teenager who ends up becoming the lead singer of American rock band Smoky Topaz in the 1970s. The language and writing style are also very simple and smooth, which make this book feel young, laidback and fresh.
Ms. Ombry does a terrific job of developing the characters and unfolding the twists and turns of their funny/tragic lives. I found the book intriguing and hard to put down! Probably because at its heart the book is about resilience, love, and our common humanity more than rock music.
Grace takes sensitive and painful topics and intertwines them with humor. She skillfully develops her characters, and the reader comes to accept (and maybe even like) all of them (even the ones that have terrible flaws.)
On Facebook, Ms. Ombry revealed she had gotten her first bad review & she shared it. It was sooooo bad, I wanted to understand why. OMG what a gift for Ms. Ombry! She is an amazing author! I was hooked from page one. Obviously the last laugh is with this very talented author!
This book was so horribly written, I had to stop after the first 20 pages. She may think she’s Vonnegut, but a child could write better than her. It’s unfortunate that any publishing company would take her seriously and waste our time.
This is a brilliantly crafted book set in the early ’70s about a band and its 16-year-old front-man, Robin Chelsea, and (not a spoiler) his disappearance right before the release of their third album. The story unfolds with detail that is wonderfully imagined (such that I often forgot it is totally fiction) but never bogging down the pace.
Grace has a knack for portraying the music genre and the 70s in a truly engaging manner. I loved everything about this book. She makes the music come alive through the characters and the story. The music is almost another character in the story, and it shines. The characters and their conflicts and quirks make… Read more “Truly Engaging”
Smokin’ and Cryin’ kept me on my toes like a 70s rock band. Every memory, news article, album review and snippet had me wondering what was next. I devoured this novel almost immediately upon opening it up. The twists and turns in this were excellent, and I found myself desperately missing an era I hadn’t even been a part of.
Ombry conjures (and occasionally skewers) characters with stunning efficiency. Better than just about any writer I’ve read, she knows how to shine a light on most important truth about them, how to bring whole, complex humans to life using short strings of words. She also writes young children better than anyone I’ve ever read. The relationship between the young rock god and his baby half-sister makes me tear up again just thinking about it.
There’s something a bit familiar about The Odette Brothers. I had fun recognizing some of the real-life elements she modified and incorporated into this novel. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did!