Novel Characters

Book Boyfriend

Maybe I’m weird, but my aspirations for my rock & roll series, Beyond The Bridge, has never included making the Best Seller list. Sure, a movie deal would be fantastic, but I guess I’m more practical than to live for that dream. All I really want for this story is for the main character to eventually become what is known as a Book Boyfriend. This isn’t as far fetched as you might think. This guy has it all. I mean, I’m not into guys and I’m in love with him. Let’s go over his qualifications, shall we? (Sorry, dudes. If you decide to out-click now I’ll completely understand.)


First of all, Gordon looks like a taller version of this guy…

Marc Bolan
Marc Bolan

and has the smoldering mystique of this guy…

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp

Really. What’s not to crush on? But beneath his sultry, smokin’ hotness coupled with his wounded angel appeal, his concealed emotional scars, and his seeming blasé disregard for what’s going on around him, Gordon is a kind and gentle man who cares deeply about those whom he loves. He just can’t seem to express it. Well, except in his music. There, in his music, especially in his mastery of guitar, is where he sparkles and shines. But who can touch that magical place inside him? Who, indeed! Gordon isn’t someone who sleeps around. Hell, he doesn’t even like groupies (something his band mates are all too happy to rib him about). In Gordon’s own words (from one of my current WIPs, Enharmonic Intervals: the Memoirs of Gordon Hammond)…

“When I fall in love, I fall surely and steadfastly.
There’s nothing I won’t do for that woman,
nothing in heaven and earth that
I won’t try to move for her.
I’m loyal to a fault, ridiculously romantic,
and quite intentionally blind.
The worst thing is that I tend to put her on a pedestal,
where I hold her above the rest of humanity.
She might not know this is what I’ve done,
but I do it, and it’s not good.
It’s not fair.”

The whole fame thing has left Gordon in a quandary that he never really resolves, although he eventually learns to accept it from a comfortable distance. Behind the 9-foot walls of his Kentish estate, Chadwicke Park, he keeps the world at bay while creating a world of his own design, a world that includes a number of other colorful characters:

Noel: The surly yet teddybear-like Liverpudlian bass man of Gordon’s band, Tuppence. A no-nonsense bloke, Noel is Gordon’s closest confident—and his most honest leveler.

Liz: Noel’s eventual wife and the woman Gordon has crushed on for years. A supermodel akin to the likes of Jean Shrimpton, Liz is intelligent, nurturing, and sophisticated, but not at all the type of woman Gordon attracts, sadly for him. He probably would have done well with a woman like Liz, but Noel is his best friend, so no touchy!

Willy: The band’s drummer, Willy is cute and sunny, always seeing the bright side, but he possesses a kind of down-to-earth wisdom that Gordon leans on from time-to-time. Of all the band members, Gordon has known Willy the longest, mates from their art college days in the early 1960s.

Mary Lynn: Willy’s eventual wife. A smart-assed but good-natured girl from Birkenhead near Liverpool, Mary Lynn keeps things real with her humor and her “I don’t give a fook” attitude.

Trevor: The band’s rhythm or second guitarist. Like Gordon, Trevor is a silent type, but his is born from a tough childhood and he has a cold edge that Gordon fortunately lacks. Definitely a bad boy.

Janie: Trevor’s eventual wife, Janie is a fresh-faced, homespun woman who tries to understand Trevor, but simply cannot.

Felicity: A supermodel reminiscent of Twiggy and Penolope Tree, mixed with a little of Marilyn Monroe’s vulnerability, Felicity is Gordon’s first real love. One problem: his family comes from the merchant class and hers from British peerage. Seeing Felicity in a Carnaby Street boutique in the early days of Tuppence’s fame, Gordon falls ridiculously in love. At the same time her star is just beginning to rise and she recognizes an opportunity for advancement by being seen on his arm. Between them, they carry far too much baggage, resulting in both heartache and tragedy.

Katy: Moving to London from Boulder, Colorado, petite and spunky Katy is a gifted blues recording artist who swoops into Gordon’s life and takes names.

Jason: A secondary Book Boyfriend, Jason is a cross between a 30-something “Wings” Paul McCartney and Shahid Kapoor of Bollywood fame. After his hit Sixties band, The Street, broke up, Jason went on to form Tall Madge, in which he plays lead guitar. He crushes big time on Katy, but sadly, the feeling isn’t reciprocated.

Paul McCartney & Shahid Kapoor
Are you panting yet?

Gordon keeps company with many rock stars of the era, although he’s closest to Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones and George Harrison of the Beatles. With these frequent guests, who wouldn’t want to hang out at his “auld pyle” in Royal Tunbridge Wells? I know I would! Reading these books is a little like sneaking over the walls and past the electronic gates of British rock royalty’s country estates.

I wonder if there are Book Girlfriends? If you’re looking for those, there’s no shortage in Beyond The Bridge; take your pick! But any in-depth descriptions of them needs must wait for a follow-up entry on another day. In the meantime, you can get Beyond The Bridge SE (which includes Books One and Two in a single volume) in both paperback and for Kindle by visiting the book’s website. And if you’d like to meet Gordon Hammond for yourself, visit his Facebook page.


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Butterfly Fingerpicks

I don’t remember when I began teaching myself different finger picking patterns, but I do remember buying a set of plastic finger picks. I tried them a couple of times, but they didn’t feel natural to me, so I put them in a box somewhere and forgot about them. Well, except for the thumb pick. That came in handy sometimes. I went back to my usual bare finger finger picking (try saying that three times!), not even considering grooming my nails to work for me. Lately, though, I’ve become more aware of the different sounds I can create using my nails. Problem is, my nails are extremely fragile and just one night of extended playing probably would trash them. Guitar players go to all kinds of lengths to have strong nails, including having acrylics and gels applied. I don’t know about you, but I hate the heaviness of fake nails, and they’re expensive, besides. What’s a choosy guitarist to do?

Last week I saw Butterfly Fingerpicks on Pinterest and I was immediately intrigued. Besides looking damned cool, the idea behind them seemed rational. Adjustable wires form-fitted to my fingers and nails? Hey! That sounded like those Indian water buffalo sandals we had in the Sixties! With those, all you had to do was put them on and stand a bath tub of water for a while, stretching them out, and then walk around in them until they were dried to a custom fit!.I ordered a set of finger picks, and they arrived today.

Butterfly Guitar Picks 1

First of all, they come in a really sturdy clear plastic box. Who wants to worry about them getting smashed by your gear? They come in three metals: gold, silver, and copper. I got the copper ones because I wanted a softer, less metallic sound from my 12-string. They also come in three basic sizes, small, medium, and large.

Butterfly Guitar Picks 2

When I took them out I thought, “Figuring out which pick goes on which finger might not be easy,” but I needn’t have worried. It was pretty obvious.

Butterfly Guitar Picks 3

All out and in proper order.

Butterfly Guitar Picks 4

When I first put them on, they didn’t fit at all, but I was prepared for that. I bought the small size, and they were just a bit too tight and a couple of them didn’t slide into place, but these are adjustable, remember? I went to the website and read the instructions on how to fit them properly.

Butterfly Guitar Picks 5

After a few minutes they looked and felt much better!

Butterfly Guitar Picks 6

With all four in place, I was surprised at how comfortable they are. You really could wear them for hours. But finger picks aren’t just for looks and comfort, you know. They have to sound good, so I tried them on each of my three guitars. On the Luna Trinity 12-string they were hard to use; all those strings so close together made picking a bit clumsy, but I suspect that with practice that’ll sort itself out. On the Fender nylon string they sounded great, a lot like when classical guitarists use their long nails. But it was on the Briarwood 6-string that they really wowed me. Nice action and even nicer tone.

The hardest part for me will be getting accustomed to playing with extensions. I’m used to my fingers being right on the strings and, without that sensation of skin-against-string, I feel a little disconnected. I’m going to work with them, one guitar at a time, until I’m comfortable using them on all three. If you’d like to give them a try, just go to Butterfly Fingerpicks. They’re really nice there and have the best customer service I’ve encountered since I bought that beaded curtain from a hippie catalog back in 2007.

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Self-Indulge a Little

Yves Saint Laurent

Would someone please tell me why I like these movies so much? Why am I drawn to them when all they do is piss me off? I just watched Yves Saint Laurent, starring Pierre Niney and Guillaume Gallienne. Now, I didn’t mention this to offer a critique. I’m here to ask (besides the question I already posed) why, when it comes to creativity and people of talent having breakdowns or indulging in self-destructive behavior, are women “train wrecks” while men are “tortured”? Does our society still actually buy into the boys-will-be-boys crapola? It’s insulting and it propagates the notion that shit happens to men while women create shit for themselves.

Believe me, if I tried to get away with half of the stuff depicted in this movie (which I really liked, by the way), even when I was young, I would have found myself alone with nobody to pick up the pieces. There’d be no one sitting beside my asylum bed stroking my forehead. But guys get away with it. They have their breakdowns, their flagrant infidelities, their addictions and their tantrums, and they’re greeted with people whispering, “Poor tortured genius.” When a woman succumbs to the same things, all we hear is, “What a loser.”

Well, I’m not about to go mad, but there was one scene that I related to. Yves and his friends are in a pool in Marakech, drinking, smoking dope and fiddling with each other, and one of the girls, a model, asks him the following questions. I thought they were rather good. I’ve edited a couple of them a bit, but not so as to change the context.

Who is your favorite real-life hero? Myself. I’ve surmounted more and maintained my love of life and people more than anyone I know.

Who is your favorite poet? Dylan Thomas.

What is your idea of earthly happiness? Gentle enjoyment of all the pleasures. I’m a hedonist.

What is your favorite quality in a woman? Kindness.

What is your favorite quality in a man? Kindness.

What is your main character trait? Creativity.

What do you appreciate most in your friends? Their complete lack of pretentiousness.

What would make you most unhappy? To one day find myself without my family.

What gift of nature would you like to have? Glowing good health.

How would you like to die? In my sleep. Seriously. I’m not being facetious, or frightened. I’d like to slip out while dreaming and think, “Wow. Something changed. I’m no longer attached. Cool. I’m going to go check out a few mysteries!”

What is your current state of mind? Productive and anticipatory.

Feel free to give your own answers in a comment, if you want.

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Tap, Tap… Are You Out There?

I think I’ve figured out what’s happened to blogging. It’s reverted to its childhood. When I began my old blog, Incurable Insomniac, in 2002, there weren’t all that many blogs out there. It felt kind of like a counterculture. Pretty quickly, though, there was a blogging boom and everyone and their uncle’s monkey started writing about their laundry, their kids, and their cats.

I made a lot of blog friends and we kept up on each others’ lives by reading through our blogroll, which was later replaced with Blogger’s Blog List. Then came MySpace and things started to slow down a bit. It wasn’t terminal, though. It was more like an extension to our blogs. But then Facebook laid siege to the web like Godzilla tearing through Tokyo. And then came Twitter and texting, and blogging as we knew it began to disappear.

I spent a large part of this evening paying visits to the few old blogs that are still active in an attempt to re-connect. It was shocking to me to find so many “recent” posts dated several years ago. And all those dead links! Man, I was lucky to find any surviving blog veterans at all. Those that I did, I added to my blog list, and I intend to keep up with them. Countercultures have always held a certain appeal.

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