Monday, May 19, 2014

WRiTE Club 2014 is Accepting Entries!

In case you didn't catch it, there was a recent returnee to the blogosphere:

After a hiatus to finish the draft of his latest novel, my good friend DL Hammons is back in the blogging world with a newly designed website.  No longer "Cruising Altitude 2.0", his blogging home is now -- effectively, but unimaginatively, named after his own name. But luckily, if you're still attached to the high-flying previous name, any links to that site name should still take you to his new one.

DL was one of the first online fellow writers I connected with when I started toying with the idea of becoming a writer myself, almost seven (!) years ago, give or take.  While my writing accomplishments over those years have not gotten much past that initial 'dabbling' stage, Don and I have stayed connected and I've seen his blog grow into a much-loved stop on many a writer's blog roll.

In late 2011, DL rolled out his WRiTE Club -- a writing contest featuring head-to-head bouts between anonymous writers. It was a tremendous amount of fun, and that first contest stretched into March, 2012 with a culminating win by Tiana Smith over Julie Dao.

DL expanded the competition in 2012 and took in 72 entries.  That year, I entered it myself and my anonymous writing samples under the pen-name "RavenClaw" managed to survive a marathon that ran from July to December, and included a win in one of 36 preliminary bouts; then one of 18 playoff bouts; one of 10 round-2 bouts with edited submissions; one of 6 round-3 bouts with second entries; one of 3 round-4 bouts; and then one of 2 semifinal bouts with edited second entries before battling Mark Hough in the finals. I lost 6-4 to him but never really felt bad about it -- his work was simply fabulous (and Mark, if you happen to read this -- I'm STILL waiting for the chance to read more of your excellent writing! But, no pressure -- at least the world gets to partake of your incredible hand-made violins.).

Lat year, DL honed the format and presented a tightly-fought series of competitions between 32 excellent, pre-selected entries. This competition ran from July through October and resulted in a final battle win by Tex Thompson over Jane Lebak.

Well, guess what? 

DL is once again hosting WRiTE Club -- the 2014 edition!  If you're interested, it just takes an anonymous entry of a 500-word writing sample.  I would encourage you to visit DL's site and check out the entry info HERE.

But even if you don't enter, be sure to visit DL's blog beginning in June to watch the battles unfold and to take part in the voting!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Summertime Smile

Summertime Smile*

It's been very busy lately (so what else is new, lol).  But I'm afraid that I've not had much time to make music or write.  But I've still been playing when I can, helping a very good friend with some chapter critiques, and have actually generated some new story ideas that I hope -- someday -- might actually get written.

Also, I did get a little free time over the last week or so, and I managed to put together another Wikiloops jam.  I found a track from last September with a very cool keyboard progression by wikiloops jammer Neddings, with some vocal percussion added by member Calle.  I really liked the mix of the electronic keys with the organic vocal percussive effects, and thought it would make a great template to jam over.

I added a bass track, and then several guitars, and the overall feel to me was of one of fun, warmth, a sense of a happy day in the summer, so I called the finished piece "Summertime Smile."

I invite you to take a listen by clicking on the link HERE.

If you've listened to some of my previous work, you know that there are times I like blending a lot of guitars into a piece.  I did that again here, but I tried to avoid cluttering up any individual section with a lot of conflicting lines.  This jam has a beginning section with a fixed melody line, and the overall structure is that of a jazz jam -- play that "head" melody line, trade solos over the middle, and then play the head again at the end.  I also tried to vary textures.  For example, there's a chunky rhythm guitar that drops out at the part where the delay-heavy, spacey guitar lead comes in.  For at least the first time through the progression in that part, the only guitar is that one, and only the original keys and vocal percussion along with my bass are in the background.

The original template track also had that cool bridge section with the chord changes and I think that really helps to add interest and change.  So while this is still a "jam" in that it has a fun, 'in-the-moment' sense, with the general "play-it-and-don't-worry-about-making-it-perfect" feel of a jam, I also tried to add enough structure to give it a 'finished' sense, too.  There were several harmony guitars added, doubling and contrasting lines played by earlier guitars.  The "head" melody has three guitars playing together, and I hope it adds texture without too much clutter.

Thank you very much for listening.  I hope you enjoy it.  Feel free to let me know your thoughts, suggestions, and feedback -- I'm always interested in your opinion.

*Photo by Chris Fries