Saturday, July 19, 2014

My Thoughts on Kindle Unlimited

Yesterday authors who have books on Amazon received an email to let them know they are offering a new subscription service called Kindle Unlimited.


Today we are excited to introduce Kindle Unlimited--a new subscription service for readers in the U.S. and a new revenue opportunity for authors enrolled in KDP Select. With Kindle Unlimited, customers will be able to read as many book as they want from a library of over 600,000 titles. KDP authors and publishers who enroll their books with U.S. rights in KDP Select are automatically enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. Inclusion in Kindle Unlimited can help drive discovery of your book, and when your book is accessed and read past 10% you will earn a share of the KDP Select global fund. For the month of July we have added $800,000 to the KDP Select global fund bringing the total to $2 million."

For those who don't know, once upon a time Amazon's KDP Select program was a Godsend for authors, especially for unknown authors. In the beginning, offering a book free equaled many downloads which equaled a nice top spot in the charts once the promotion was over whereby your book became highly visible to the masses. This in turn equaled sales, a nice amount of sales. Then one day Amazon decided it would change its algorithms. No longer would one free copy equal one sale. The buzz is, and I don't have cold hard facts to back this, that it now took ten free downloads to equal the ranking power of one sale. After a promotion ended, the "bounce" became a thud. Many authors, like myself, questioned if it was worth keeping a title in KDP Select. What harm would it be you might ask, and don't you get some royalties if someone borrows the book? Well, the problem is in order to enroll a title in Select your title cannot be sold ANYWHERE else. "Strangely" this exclusivity mandate only applies to independent authors, not big published authors.

A lot of independent authors bailed so Amazon came up with another plan -- offer a new promotion tool -- the Kindle Countdown Deal whereby you can lower your price for five days, say starting at 99 cents for two or three and upping it as the countdown clicked onwards. I never bothered with it so cannot say if it's a successful endeavor or not. I'm guessing probably not so successful as Amazon has come up with yet another plan -- Kindle Unlimited.

Kindle Unlimited is being called by some the Netflix of books. If a reader wants to join this program they pay $9.99 a month and then can "read as many books as they want." But here's some of the fine details...not every single book Amazon carries is enrolled. You can have up to ten titles at a time on your Kindle, which you can keep for as long as you want. If you're a voracious reader this service might be worth the $120 a year. As a reader, I already subscribe to a similar's called my local library, and it's a free service. True, not every book is available for my Kindle, but every book is available in a hard copy. All I have to do is request it.

Now as an author, how do I feel about this new program? First and foremost, unlike the major publishing companies, I would still have to make my books exclusive to Amazon. Now maybe if I was a prolific author and had dozens of books I'd give it a shot, but I'm not. The first book I wrote, Fractured Facade, took years to write and the one I'm presently working on has taken me years to research, and I've just begun writing it. Sure, I could whip out a short story in a week or two, or a monthly erotic novella, but I don't want to.

I have one short story, The Valentine's Day Curse, originally 99 cents, that I was able to make Perma-Free. One might ask, well, why don't you put your short story in Kindle Unlimited? If someone borrows it you can make some cash. True, a borrow on a 99 cent book is worth more than a 35 cent sale. But, if I did that I would have to remove it from everywhere else. My plan has been that if someone likes my short story enough they might seek out my novel and actually buy it for $4.99, the price of a cup of Starbucks coffee, depending upon the size one chooses. It has been a pretty successful idea, (not bestselling top of the chart one) as I've gotten sales from Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and Apple. From Amazon? Not so much. I'm beginning to think Kindle readers don't like to part with cash as easily as Nookies and iPeople, and maybe expect every book will become free at some point so they'll just wait it out until it does.

So I have to ask myself, would I get more borrows which would equate to more revenue than if someone actually bought my novel. I don't know. The borrow royalty varies from month to month and is good for a 99 cent short story, but would never be higher than sale of my novel. Of course in order to even get credit for the borrow, the reader has to read at least ten percent, which I hope wouldn't be a problem. But say I had put my full length book in it and the reader was someone who had a problem with an expletive or two, and once they got top the 8% mark was offended by my use of the word F*ck or Bitch, and returned it before they reached the golden 10%, I would get zilch. Oh, and if they were really offended they'd probably would leave a bad review as well which would suck, but has been known to happen. And on the other hand, say they really liked the book and decided they wanted to keep it. They could without paying for it, and still have 9 other slots to borrow books. Believe it or not, there are folks who will only "buy" free books. I'm not one of them, but I also don't have $28 to buy a new hardcover every time one comes out that I want to read. In fact, I will not spend $14.99 on an eBook either. That's just crazy. I hope the author who wrote that book is getting a huge percentage from their publisher, like $10.49 per book which is the 70% Amazon pays in royalty at that price, but I doubt it. Anyway, I digress. So, although I really want to read this book, I will wait for one of two things, whichever comes first...the paperback version, or a free copy from my local library.

Well, there you have it, my thoughts on Kindle Unlimited. Clearly, as a reader I won't be paying $120 a year, and as an author, I won't be enrolling my books, but I'm curious as to what you think, both authors and reader...worth it, or not?
And here's my blatant sales pitch...check the side bar for links to my two books, one of which is free, everywhere.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Ramones Are Gone and I Feel Like Crying

I've been depressed since learning the last remaining original Ramone, Tommy, passed away from cancer at the age of 65. He lived the longest of the four. Three passed away from cancer (wtf is in that Forest Hills air or water?), and one from drugs (would have thought the 75/25% split would have gone the other way around.) The Ramones are gone, and I feel like crying. Sure, I'll shed a tear, or four, for them, but I think I'll be shedding more for myself...for my memories.

When I first heard the Ramones I had recently burst out of the disco days of Bensonhurst, and landed straight into what would be later called punk rock in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It was raw. It was real. And it had four beats we could dance to. And dance I did at every one of their shows. I'm not sure if I've seen Patti Smith more times live, or the Ramones. Either or, it produced the same euphoria. It was the first time in my life I felt as if I belonged somewhere. It was the best time of my life for friendships.

I turned a lot of folks onto the Ramones. Most of them are still friends, even though there are decades of years and hundreds of miles between us. I associate certain songs with certain people in my past. Although I cry more for some of them than others, every one of them will have a place in my heart. Reminiscing makes me sad, yet glad, I have those memories. Thank you Ramones, you have no idea how much your music touched my life. So with much respect and love I will now post a couple of your songs to bring me back home. Ramones, you always were and will always be New York City. I feel so far away from home. Lost youth deserves a tear every once in a while...

The following song reminds me of my brother...I turned him onto The Ramones, and from there...well, let's say, the rest is history. Rather than try to explain here's a link to his website Hardcore Punk Beyond.

Yeah, my cousin JP and I would sing it to him while pogoing all around him wielding an invisible bat. That's what you did to younger siblings in Brooklyn.

Speaking of JP, my partner in crime, my dance partner extraordinaire -- you'd be surprised how the floor opens up to a 6 foot 7 inch guy -- my, my, my, I miss him so much. This is for him...

"Gabba gabba we accept you, we accept you one of us!
Gabba gabba we accept you, we accept you one of us!"

My friend, former guitarist, fellow punk rocker, who was by my side as we were chased with baseball bats while departing the elevated train in Bensonhurst by a couple of zipper heads, just because we were "different", talented artist - Velardi Arts -  and one day will be the subject of a future book of mine - he's a Real New York Story, Johny V. We still speak almost daily, this is his song --Blitzkrieg Bop.

And for someone I do not speak with any more, my first ex-husband, from when he was just my boyfriend -- a much better time, this song reminds me of him...I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.

For my friend Jane, my female dance partner, who I know longs for those days past...this is our song. Another New Yorker, although living in Long Island sorta diminishes her NY status, only kidding Jane, living in Virginia is far worse! We still are friends. We will always be Sheenas...

For my friend Barbara, who has suffered the pain no mother should ever have to suffer by losing a child, from a time when we only worried about ourselves, for all those crazy nights we wound up in the darkened cavern of her basement...we usually spent the beginning of the night dancing to this, and by the end of the night were, sedated. Sedation has taken on a different meaning this song and this girl. Another forever New York friend...

And me, my song lately...because I just don't.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Functional Office

I've finally settled down into my office, but have yet to establish a writing routine. Life keeps getting in the way, and I think the only way for me to accomplish anything is to "force" myself to lock myself away from it all behind the sanctuary of a closed door. It took me a while to make my office functional, but I think I'm finally at the point where I have no more excuses.

The Reading Chair, aka, Bella's chair

The view from the Reading Chair

It's a small office, but now that I've thrown out the old and brought in the new, I really love it.

The star is that desk. Just look at that baby. Once I got rid of the moths in it, yes, moths, I lovingly polished and cleaned it. It's about twice the size of my old one, which was a kiddie desk. Look at the top of it, it's huge. And as if that wasn't enough, there's two pull outs above each top side drawer. They really come in handy. The drawers are so deep and long I was able to fit most of the files I had piled all around my office, my technical equipment, and office supplies, and I still have room. My legs fit easily underneath and I can't even reach the back wall when I stretch out. When Bella's scared she'll curl up under it and there's so much room she doesn't bother me at all.

So, now that I have the desk, the next piece of functional equipment is the MacBook. How have I adjusted from PC to Mac? Wonderfully! I love it. It took me a little bit of getting used to it and now I'm not so "afraid." One thing that's really helped is watching the videos from PC Classes On-line. David Cox has really helped with the transition and I highly recommend checking them out, even if you're not a newbie like me. I'm sure there are some tips that will help you.

Okay, so I have the office, the desk, the MacBook. Now that I was comfortable enough with the Mac I decided I needed to add a functional word processing program to the mix. Although my first inclination was to buy Microsoft's Word, I did a little more research and spoke to a couple of other writers who use a program called Scrivener. It's really more than a word processor, and it only cost me $24.99. With this program I am able to "outline, edit, storyboard and write" as their tagline claims. At first it was daunting. I watched a couple of Youtube videos and read the entire on-line manual. I was still unsure, but once I jumped in and began applying what I learned into practice I am happy to report, I love it!

As you may or may not know, I've been researching my current work in process for years, yes, years. During that time I've accumulated so much data, which in turn became notes, that it has almost become unmanageable. Frankly, it was overwhelming and I think one of the reasons I kept procrastinating. Now that I've begun using Scrivener I don't feel so out of control. I've been able to take those notes from my real cork board and place them in a virtual cork board instead. I am able to create character sheets, research notes, and time-lines which I can simply reference with one click instead of having to shuffle through pages and pages of "stuff." I'm now able to edit before I even write, and I don't have to be so concerned about duplicating either.

Rather than worry about going from point A to B to C, with the way the program is designed I can now write whatever chapter I want and move it around later on. Since my book starts from the late 1700's up through the present day, I can separate each "era" as a chapter and each character or event as a scene in that chapter. For instance, I've got everything set up and organized for the 1763 tale and can now begin writing it. Once that draft is done, I can "forget about it" and focus on compiling everything for the 1800 one, and work my way up through each era. After everything is written I should be able to "compile" all the chapters into different formats including eBooks and print books. I'm nowhere near that point and I'm sure I will be watching more Youtube videos when I eventually get there.

Anyway, that's what I've been up to. My office is functional...let's hope I am too!

By the way, although I am not blogging as much as I have in the past, I have not abandoned it, so I hope you stick around.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Virginia Beach

My daughter and I just returned from an impromptu trip to Virginia Beach. This was my fourth or fifth time during a span of 45 years. Frankly, I didn't care what beach we went to as long as there was an ocean crashing within spray mist distance. We checked into the Best Western Plus Sandcastle (click here for Trip Advisor review) whose desk clerk very kindly changed our room from the one in front of the elevator and ice machine, to up another floor and far down the corridor. This was the view from our balcony. Perfect.

This is how we felt upon arriving.

The smell and sounds of the ocean cut through our bleakness fairly quick.

Even if I'm not a kid, and would never go on any of those death traps, I mean rides, just the sight and sound of others having unbridled screams of joy, or terror, makes me feel tingly near an amusement park. This is probably from my Coney Island childhood.

In the past I've found Virginia Beach to be tacky and dirty. I was pleasantly surprised how I found it this trip. Oh, it's still tacky, but definitely not dirty. Sanitation workers patrol the strip constantly, emptying out the mostly already empty trash cans, and extinguishing lit butts with their gloved hand, then tossing them into trash. The city must have a problem with cursing because there are "no cursing" signs, expletive symbols with a red slash going through it, on the street poles. What's up with that?

What the city is now providing, new from the last time I was at the beach, are all different sorts of street performers in the parks, the main strip, and the side streets. Some are pretty pathetic, but there were quite a few impressive artists, and this troupe was our favorite. They are the Kenyan Safari Acrobats. They performed a half-hour from their touring two-hour show.

Now, this fellow was quite impressive with his balancing and holding himself ramrod straight on those wooden chairs. You know how strong you have to be to accomplish that? He was really cut, but not in that obscene muscle bound Bobo way.

Now, don't try this at home...

How low did he go...pretty freaking low. They were amazing, and I loved watching them dance to the African beat, not that rap crap, but the continent's songs. It was fun walking the strip, but it got old after two days. The girl is almost 21, but not in Virginia's eyes, so I can't report on any of the bars or such establishments. I can tell you about the restaurants.

One thing I cannot understand is how can a city whose whole existence is built around the sea not have exquisite seafood? Heck, after a while I would have accepted decent seafood. Every restaurant we went to I tried some sort of fish. I'm from the mountains, so if I;m at the seashore I crave something short in supply, fresh seafood locally harvested. Not one place delivered. The only thing that came close was the shrimp and crab cheese dip at the Mexican joint, and with the minuscule amount of shrimp and crab in it, I'd say it was the cheesy part that was a hit.

We went to this one restaurant, Big Italy, and I have to say, as a New York Italian, I was slightly offended. It was so cheesy, (not the good imported stuff) and cliche. Can you imagine being a chef in a "nice" restaurant,  having the sea lap at your feet, and yet serve previously frozen clams in baked clams casino? They were so chewy and disgusting I spit them out in my napkin. I told the waitress they were the worst clams I ever had, and asked her to find out if they were frozen. She didn't report back. We may be tourists, but that doesn't mean we don't know good food. Well, after experiencing a Japanese seafood buffet, maybe too many tourists don't.

Although I had hoped the seafood would be as fresh as it is in Maine, New York, or Florida, it wasn't even close to what I get in Roanoke, but that's okay, the beautiful beach trumped everything. It's so much wider and cleaner than I remembered it. I was fine just bobbing in the ocean,  chilling in a chair, reading a book that wasn't for research,  or flipping through a Vanity Fair magazine, but others were more adventurous.

See that dot? That's on the internal lens I believe. It gets worse when I zoom in.

Still there. POS camera.

So, we're in the ocean and this couple brings their shih-tzu in with them. She would clutch her mother's arms whenever a wave would rock them. Her four little legs were doggy-paddling the air. When they placed her in the water she started swimming. They did hold onto her the whole time.  The lifeguard whistled and told them no dogs were allowed. While she was on the beach waiting for the father to get out of the ocean, I called silently, "Bella." She turned and I snapped this shot.

Every morning I would be awoken by the sunrise peeking through a slit in thick drapes covering the widow. The sun was already beating down directly onto our balcony. I loved sitting there drinking a cup of coffee, listening to the crash of waves, my nose sizzling in the sun. It was so relaxing.

By the third day I was able to leave my troubles behind. And then I made a mistake and checked Facebook where I read reports that a major automotive parts company in Roanoke were set to make an announcement. I knew this wasn't going to be good, so I texted my son, who happens to work for said company. Apparently I wasn't supposed to know anything until I got back, but his position, along with many others from four more divisions were being terminated in Roanoke. They are moving them to Raleigh, NC. He was going to be out of a job. I almost preferred that to him transferring to an even more southern state. Luckily Raleigh's ISP provider is Time Warner, and for a gamer that's a deal breaker. And just like that the serenity was gone...

On the last night a major storm erupted. It was wild watching it from the balcony. I was able to only get this one shot because my POS camera would not stop trying to focus.

When I awoke the next morning it was still raining, but the sun was trying to peek through.

And then what I had been searching for, for four days, came into view...a family of dolphins frolicking close to the shore. You can see one of them at the top of the photo below. I finally put my camera down to just watch them. So beautiful and graceful, they immediately lifted my spirits.

Then a huge beam of light fell from the heavens and goosebumps popped on my arms and legs in the eighty degree heat.

I experienced the proverbial cloud with silver lining. Rather than worry about what my son wouldn't have, I reflected on the possibilities of what he could have in the future.

This girl trip was a major milestone for me. This was the first time in 19 years, since we've moved to Roanoke, that I got in a car and drove away alone along the very highways I had convinced myself to fear. I had become so complacent with my husband handling all the driving on freeways, carrying the heavy luggage, being my "protector," that I had allowed myself to think I couldn't drive hundreds of miles without him, "just in case" something might happen. When I conveyed my fears to my daughter before we left that I might panic on the highway or while driving over a bridge or through a tunnel, she laughed at me. "You drive in Manhattan, along the Belt Parkway and BQE, even around the crazy Grand Army Plaza eight lane roundabout, and that was terrifying, so I wouldn't worry about it." She was right, and she probably doesn't even realize how grateful I am that she opened the cage and allowed me to soar just by asking me if I wanted to get away for a couple of days. I feel like my old self again, and the girl feels like a new self. All in all,  it was a great trip.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I #amprocrastinating no more!

Many years ago when I was fighting to keep a cell tower from being erected on church property directly behind my kids' elementary school, one of the church men called me a troglodyte and a Luddite in the newspaper. I don't know if I was more annoyed that a "good Christian church leader" would be throwing stones at me in a public forum, or, that I had to look up the word Luddite. BTW, here's the meaning, just in case you didn't know: 1. any of the textile workers opposed to mechanization who rioted and organized machine-breaking between 1811 and 1816. 2. any opponent of industrial change or innovation. I wasn't opposed to mechanization, industrial change, or innovation; I was just looking to make sure young children wouldn't be directly in the path of radiation. Although I did "save" the kids I made a lot of enemies, and was sure not to be getting invited to any church picnics, or to any of the PTA mom's homes whose husbands worked in telecommunications. Oh well, it was worth it.

The point of the above paragraph is that  Mr. Churchman might have had a point. I am sometimes "afraid" of new, well, new to me at least, technology. It's not that I don't want to be a part of it; it's more that I'm afraid I will screw up whatever device I am attempting to use. I believe this all stems from the year 1987 when I bought my first computer. It was an Amiga and it cost me quite a pretty penny. I think it was almost $2,000 and all it had was 1 mb hard drive! This was before there was internet readily available, and Google, so I had to follow the directions of the manual (remember when you actually got a manual when you bought something?) on how to set it up. The first thing I was instructed to do was back up the system. It used those hard floppy disks which had to be formatted before anything could be written on it. I really had no idea what I was doing and no one else I knew had a computer so I winged it. Well, in short order, I wiped out the entire computer somehow deleting the operating system and everything else that was in it. I brought the monstrosity back and the clerk said he'd never seen that happen before. He re-installed everything, but after that I became gun-shy every time I turned it on.

Since that time I've had quite a few other computers. Believe it or not, the one I bought after the Amiga, in 1995, a Packard Bell, I still use, solely for payroll. The rest of them have not lasted as long. They were all pc's driven by Windows. I've had Windows 95, 98, ME, XP, & Vista. My desktop, where I composed most of my writings, was XP and I never had a problem with it, until Microsoft and all the virus programs I had stopped supporting it. Of course the keyboard was unreadable. The acid in my fingertips rendered the white lettering gone;  I had to use white-out on the black keys so I could read at least some of the letters. But I was happy with it, until Microsoft said, "Nope, you're not. It's time for a new computer!" But wait, I still had my laptop with Vista, the keys also unreadable and the letter T and U not functioning any longer, but I remedied that with a $5 keyboard that I hooked up via USB. That was okay for a while but then those damn Microsoft updates started in on me again. I refused to install them. There were well over a hundred, and the laptop took forever to load anything, but I knew once I hit install, that would be the kiss of death, just like it happened on a couple of other laptops that came and went quickly after updates screwed them up.

Meanwhile, my muse was starting to yell at me. Every time I'd sign on to Twitter I'd see #amwriting trending and I would think, damn, are all those authors really writing? The only writing I was doing was maybe a blog post here or there, grocery lists, checks, and notes on index cards. The more I researched, the more notes, the more index cards, the more legal pads, the more xeroxes lined my office walls, the more I began to realize what I am really doing with this book is #amprocrastinating. I had a million excuses, but the most pressing one was, I didn't want to begin the book on the computers I had. So that meant it was time to buy a new computer. For someone who has a hard time finding the perfect pocketbook this would not be an easy task.

Both my kids said, "Leave me outta this!" but then offered their advice. My son said he would only help if I allowed him to build me a computer, but I told him I think I wanted to get a laptop. He couldn't help there. My daughter said I should go Mac. She has one and swears by it. My son, a pc man, poo-pooed her, but did understand my reluctance to go with anything Windows 8 related. "Yeah, it sucks." I listened to the girl last year when I dropped some serious dough on an iPhone, and have to say she was right. Although it took me a while to get it, I really did love my Envy 3, Verizon sort of pushed me to the point that I knew I needed to just drop them and go with Smart Talk. I'm glad I listened to her. I actually love my iPhone and even though it took some getting used to I now feel comfortable with it. So when I said I was afraid to go with a Mac, it was the girl's turn to poo-poo me. "You're not an idiot, but if it'll make you feel better go check out MacBook for Dummies." So that's what I did.

And then it happened. I decided I could no longer wait to get started on this book, so I got out my American Express card and used it on a MacBook Pro. I had it sit in the box on the table for hours and the kids laughed at me. It was like I was afraid to open it before reading up on it. Finally, after my husband started goofing on me, I figured it was time. So I asked my son to disable the old desktop and put it away. I cleaned my desk and raised the chair. I unpacked it, opened it up, and just like that, it was up and running! I was able to hook it up to my wireless router and both printers with ease. Didn't even have to ask for help, other than the password for the wireless account.

I'm still figuring it out, but it's not as daunting as I thought it would be. I still haven't synced my phone to it, but little by little I'm getting more comfortable. In fact, this is my maiden blog post on it. No pics, yet. Unlike my old laptop which sat on the dining room table, this one won't. It will remain in my office which has a door that I can close. I'm going to treat this book as a job, devoting a couple hours each day, starting Monday. And when that door is closed that means I #amwriting, and I #amprocrastinating no more! I hope...

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Saturday in Downtown Roanoke

It was a beautiful day in downtown Roanoke today.

Lots of folks came out to attend the sidewalk art show. As usual, I walked away empty-handed. Nothing really jumped out at me. I wasn't allowed to take photos so I am unable to show you what I thought was interesting or tacky.

One artist on the market who was not part of the show, Cheryl Dolby, had no problem with having a photo taken. As you can see Cheryl has some really unique pieces and you don't have to wait once a year to see them. You can find Cheryl every Saturday downtown so do stop by and say hi!

This was the first time I have seen the new pedestrian market area crowded.

It was quite an improvement from the last couple of times I witnessed the sad sight of lonely tables, lots of empty space, and tumbleweeds blowing through.

There were quite a few vendors and most of the tables were filled as well. Of course, I'd say about half of them had Roanoke's finest homeless utilizing them. It was almost like an invisible dividing line broke up the have and the have nots. The "haves" is the side with all the umbrellas.

Frankly, I wouldn't sit at any of those tables unless I first wiped the seats down and sprayed them with Lysol. Yes, I do happen to carry a small canister of Lysol as well as wipies in my magic bag of germophobe tricks. I also visited my friend Mandy at the History Museum and then took the elevator to the top to get a couple of shots of the city.

One of the many things I do not understand about Roanokers is their need to take their huge dogs to every single festival. What's up with that? This fellow has the right idea...

"You go ahead mom, I'll just lay on my chaise in the window if it's all right with you..."

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Chris Shepard & Exiled know when you're taking pics in a dark club and you're looking at each one of them thinking, "Man, these are great!" only to wake up the next morning, download them, and realize "Man, these are pretty crappy!" Yeah, well, that's what happened to me. I got a couple of decent photos of some of the musicians from last night at The Coffee Pot, but not what I had hoped. What wasn't crappy was this guy...Chris Shepard.

Not only were his covers excellent -- c'mon, how many local guys have you heard play "Alcohol" by Gogol Bordello recently? -- but I really got a kick out of his originals. One of my favorites was "Mean People Suck." Love his lyrics..."All my girlfriend's causes become bumper stickers..."  Ha! I have to say I was really impressed with him, and if you know me and my taste in music, you know that's a pretty big deal. You can check out his sounds here ,and I understand he will be performing at the Parkway Brewing Company this Friday.

No, there was only one of him but it sounded at least like two...
Chris was the opening act for a local Rolling Stones cover band, Exiled, that's been getting some good press and making the rounds.

The Stones are one of my favorite bands, and I'm familiar with one of Exiled's musicians, guitarist Will Henson (that's him on the right) who've I've seen solo, as well as leading a Pink Floyd cover band, so I thought I'd give them a shot. Even though there seemed to be some "technical difficulties" with Henson's guitar, I thought they were all excellent musicians.

Ralph on bass

My only suggestion would be to boost those vocals more!

All in all it was a good evening and the best $5 I've spent in Roanoke lately. Too bad it was a holiday weekend and they didn't get a nice-sized crowd.

 By the end of the night I felt like I was seeing double and my brain started to feel like this...

Red, red, cheap wine will do that to you, and those youthful CBGB days are long gone. The bounce-back is not what it used to be, but the "bright side" is red wine has joined the "never again" ranks of tequila, blackberry brandy & peach schnapps. Let's see how long this lasts. As soon as I got home I had to throw my clothes downstairs because they reeked of cigarette smoke and I fear I may never get the nicotine yellow out of the white part of my hair. It was about ten years since I'd been to The Coffee Pot and it hasn't changed one bit.