I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead by Crystal Zevon

I'll Sleep When I'm DeadI’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
Crystal Zevon

4 book marks

Warren Zevon once said, “my career is about as promising as a Civil War leg wound.” These morosely funny words are a great example of the unusual wit  in Zevon’s lyrics and music. His career took off in the 1970s, with two terrific consecutive albums which featured some of the best music of the time, including Excitable Boy, Tenderness on the Block and The French Inhaler. His genius mind exploded with ideas for songs and he lived the life of a rock star, filled with excesses of drug and alcohol abuse. Even later, when his professional and personal life were in trouble, by his own fault, he was always full of ideas. He continued to write and collaborate and he toured at smaller venues to enthusiastic fans. I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead is a chronicle of Zevon’s life and career, spanning over forty years and ending with his death in 2003.

The book is written and compiled by Crystal Zevon, Warren’s ex-wife. The two remained friends after their divorce and Warren asked her to write the book when he learned he was dying of lung cancer. He told her to include everything, and she did.

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead is presented in an unusual and somewhat confusing format, forcing the reader to jump into a scene with unfamiliar characters. But the narrative eventually gains momentum as Warren’s life story unfolds. It includes the comments and perspectives of many famous musicians and writers and, I think, gives an accurate description of Warren’s creativity, his relationships and the destructive forces that took over his life.

I enjoyed reading this biography/memoir because I have always liked Warren Zevon’s music and I am a big fan of many of the famous musicians and bands he collaborated with, including Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, REM and Bruce Springsteen. There seemed to be a real camaraderie and generosity between these musicians and also among the lesser-known, but highly respected guitarists, drummers and writers. I always enjoyed looking at the liner notes and seeing who was singing in the background or who co-wrote a song and reading I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead reminded me of how much fun that was.

This isn’t a fun memory book, however. Warren Zevon was an abusive alcoholic with a big temper who could not conform to any lifestyle except his own. He hurt a lot of people, yet strangely, he had a lot of close friends who either chose to ignore the ugly side, were completely naïve to the darkness in his life, or desperately wanted his love. Even after he successfully quit drinking, his personality was often impossibly difficult.

Here are some things I found interesting about the story and about the people around Zevon:

  • Crystal Zevon’s portion of the narrative has the annoying self-serving bias of a memoir, as if to say, “Hey, I was there too.” But she was there and bore the brunt of a lot of Zevon’s madness, so I was forced to give it a pass.
  • Jackson Browne has some very insightful things to say about his friend. The whole time I was reading the book, I kept thinking about how Warren Zevon reminded me of Ernest Hemingway and I was glad to see in the last pages that Browne had once described Zevon as “the Ernest Hemingway of the twelve-string guitar.”
  • Zevon’s journal entries say a lot about who he was. They are cryptic, but they reveal his unique point of view. They show his needy side and made me feel like he was a genius child his whole life. He uses the word “nice” a lot to describe people he’s met, as if maybe he was worried that they wouldn’t like him.
  • I like Roy Marinell’s description of how Excitable Boy became a song, how critics were trying to analyze the lyrics and give them significance when the “built a cage with her bones” line actually comes from a schoolyard taunt Marinell and his friends exchanged when they were kids.
  • It was so interesting to see how Zevon’s music was really produced, especially the song I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. No one even saw each other when they recorded that song. Each musician recorded his parts separately.
  • I didn’t know that the comedian Richard Belzer had been Zevon’s regular opening act. That’s a good combination!
  • What’s interesting to think about is how a fan listens to music and never really understands the massive creative process that’s behind putting together an album. And for Warren Zevon, the huge, painful, abusive, emotional process was something a regular person would never survive being a part of.
  • It also makes me think about how some intensely creative and genius people like Zevon are almost destined to live self-destructive lives.
  • I also wonder how some dysfunctional people are enabled and allowed to continue their irresponsible and destructive behavior because the people around them want to be a part of, want a piece of that creative process and fame.
  • It also makes me think about other super-talented and creative people who did not fall apart but also led insanely wild lives as rockers – Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey – and survived. What makes them different?

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead is a big book and is, at times, hard to get through, but I ultimately enjoyed learning more about Warren Zevon.  There are some great pictures of Zevon and the people in his life and everyone looks like they’re having a great time!  After watching him on Letterman, I think I will  check out his later music. He made his peace when the time came and it’s not for a fan to judge.

For more insight, click here to check out DD’s review of I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead.

You may enjoy reading The New York Times review of the book.

Click here to watch a YouTube video of Crystal Zevon.

And check out Warren Zevon’s final appearance on The David Letterman Show.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Who’s That Indie Author? A. E. Hellstorm

Who's That Indie Author pic

A. E. Hellstorm
A. E. Hellstorm

Author name: A.E. Hellstorm

Genre: Mixed (Horror/Relationship/Crime)

Books: In the Hands of the Unknown, Lost

In the Hands of the Unknown  Lost

Bio: A.E. Hellstorm was born in Sweden, but spent several years of her youth in Portugal and Greece, before returning to Stockholm, her city of birth. As a young adult she took a diploma in Creative Writing, as well as a Master of Arts in Scientific Archaeology. In 2005, she and her husband moved to Canada together with their cats, and have lived there ever since. In Canada she took a diploma in Arts and Cultural Management, and in Photography. She opened her photography business Flying Elk Photography in 2012. ‘In the Hands of the Unknown’ and ‘Lost’ are her first published novels, but she has had a play, ‘Marsvindar’, staged at Rosenlundsteatern in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1992, and she has also participated in two anthologies: ‘Karbunkel’ in 1994, and the ‘2014 Wyrdcon Companion Book’.

Favorite thing about being a writer: The favorite thing about being a writer is that you are never alone. You always have company by your characters.

Biggest challenge as an indie author: I would say that the biggest challenge for an indie author is to be seen. There are so many people who think that indie authors are synonymous with bad literature, but there are also gold nuggets out there waiting to be found; authors who for different reasons aren’t very interested in a publicity company and thus decide to publish on their own.

Favorite book: There are so many. Do I have to choose just one? I like The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Gut Symmetries by Jeannette Winterson, to name a few.

Contact Information (blog, website, etc.): www.hellhagproductions.com, goo.gl/8vOm0h (the FB-group), @Noarenne on Twitter, A.E. Hellstorm on Goodreads.

Are you an indie author looking for some positive publicity? Do you want to build your indie author network? Why not get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author?

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details, and follow along on Book Club Mom to join the indie author community!

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Friday Fiction – Jessica Ch 33 “Truth and Lies”

Friday Fiction


Thank you for visiting Book Club Mom’s Friday Fiction. Below is Chapter 33 of Jessica. Jessica is nineteen-years-old and she is trying break the pattern of loss and unhappiness that has defined her childhood. What she wants most is to build a life with Jimmy, but Jimmy is trapped in a dangerous family dynamic. When she learns the truth about Jimmy, it’s up to her to save him. To do this, she must turn to the one person who has hurt her the most, her father. A series of events pushes Jessica beyond anything she can imagine and forces her to define happiness and love in a different way, and at a heartbreaking price.

Chapter 33 – “Truth and Lies”

I went into see Dr. Hutchins the next morning. I didn’t want to go. I wanted to talk to Dad and to Jimmy and I had to work the dinner shift that night. Millie had cut my hours to only one shift. She had told me it was because they weren’t busy enough to have that many waitresses working, but I was sure it was because she didn’t think I could handle the busy morning and lunch shifts. I didn’t like not having as many hours because I was still saving my money to make my escape.

Mom insisted she drive me to my doctor’s appointment and she made a big deal out of helping me get buckled into my seat before we left. It was like she wanted to keep me strapped into a sort of life that I didn’t want. I kept saying to her, “I’ve got it, Mom. Stop. I can do this,” but the truth was I was a little bit unsure of my steps and I guess it showed.

We got to Dr. Hutchins’ office and Mom and I sat in the waiting area. I kept telling Mom I needed to call Jimmy and I kept asking her if Dad had called me and Mom, she answered with words, but she never did give me a straight answer. I knew she was spinning an answer for me and maybe she thought my head wasn’t clear enough to notice, but my medicine had been working its magic on me and I could hear her just fine.

“Well, as soon as we get out of here, I’m calling both of them. Dad called me after you went to bed and I told him I’d talk to him this morning.”

Dr. Hutchins came out of her office and told me she was ready to see me. Mom stood up and started walking with me to the office and I started to panic like they were planning to descend upon me and force me into more medication or lecture me on the tricky task of balancing a person’s mental health. I did not want Mom in the room with us and I thought it was my legal right to refuse, but then I wasn’t sure, being only nineteen and not twenty-one. My thoughts were getting cloudy again.

“Mom, I can handle this by myself,” I told her. “I don’t want you in there with me.”

Mom looked worried and unsure, but Dr. Hutchins said it would be alright. Would be alright. What did that even mean? Why wouldn’t it be?

I sat in one of Dr. Hutchins’ comfortable swivel chairs. Dr. Hutchins sat in the same kind of chair across from me, like we were about to have a nice friendly chat.

After she asked me how I was feeling, which I answered fine, she started to talk to me about how important it was for me to take my medicine consistently because otherwise it wasn’t going to work. She warned me that the prescription’s efficacy would drop every day that I didn’t take it.

“Dr. Hutchins, you don’t know what it feels like to take those pills. I don’t even feel like myself when I do. Nothing tastes good, nothing feels good, everything just feels blah. I can’t live like that.”

“Your mom called me this morning and she mentioned that you are anxious to talk to your Dad and to Jimmy. She doesn’t understand what you are talking about and she thinks you are making up the story about your father calling you. Why don’t you explain to me what’s been going on?”

I liked Dr. Hutchins because I think she believed me and I knew Mom thought I had just been babbling about Dad and Jimmy. At least she was giving me a chance to tell her Jimmy’s story, but there were so many things I didn’t know at that point.

I told her all about the break-in and about Jimmy and Stu and Dad helping get Jimmy out of trouble. She didn’t take notes, she just listened and sometimes she asked me a question. And when I was finished, Dr. Hutchins put down her pad and pen on the glass table between us and took off her glasses.

Finally she opened her mouth and then I was glad I had taken my medication because I could tell she was about to tell me something important and I didn’t seem to have any trouble lining up her mouth with her words. But what she told me next made no sense to me and she had to explain it to me three times before I began to believe it might be true.

Mom tried to call Dad that morning, after I had insisted for about the tenth time that he had called me at 3:00 in the night. She tried his office in Manhattan and sure enough, his secretary told her he was at the Philadelphia office. I could have told her that, but she wouldn’t listen. Dad wasn’t surprised when she called him in Philly, but he refused to tell her anything more.

“If you’d been in touch with Jessica more often than once every seven years,” Mom told him, “you would know that she is very unstable and is under a doctor’s care.”

Dr. Hutchins told me that as soon as Mom told Dad about my condition he said he had to go and he hung up.

“That’s when your father called my office, Jessie. He asked about you and I told him a little bit about your medication, but now this is the part I’ve decided to tell you. I know you are waiting to talk to your father, but I’m going to break some rules and tell you that Jimmy is in the hospital and he’s undergoing psychiatric evaluation.”

“No!” I screamed. “Dad called me in the night and told me that everything was fine, that Jimmy was home and that he was safe. I don’t understand.”

Dr. Hutchins picked up her phone, and dialed. “Here,” she said and she handed me the receiver. “It’s your dad.”

That’s when Dad told me about Jimmy, that there was no break-in, that Jimmy had made it all up, the Philly break-in, the robbery ring that Stu had supposedly been involved with. It was all a story and he had pulled me into it, and I believed it all. Every single word. And the worst part was that Jimmy hadn’t been trying to trick me, he believed it himself. Even that first time, where he supposedly stole equipment from his boss’ client. All a lie.

He told me that once he got Jimmy in his car in Philly, Jimmy fell apart. “I didn’t know what to do, Jessie. I knew this boy was something important to you, but I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know if I could trust his brother Stu and in fact every time I mentioned Stu’s name, Jimmy would just wail. I was afraid for him. By the time we got back to his house, Jimmy was no better, he was worse, in fact, and I knew I couldn’t leave him. That’s when I called you, Jessie. I called you because I knew you were waiting to hear from me, but I didn’t know what to tell you so I said nothing.”

“I didn’t know about you either, Jessie, that you’ve had some problems, otherwise I wouldn’t have handled it this way. I never would have helped you stage a break-in like that.”

I made up a lie about my session being over and I told Dad I had to get off the phone then I hung up and said to Dr. Hutchins, “Where is Jimmy? I want to see him.”

Thank you for reading – all comments are welcome.

Click below to check out earlier chapters.

Chapter 1 – “Jimmy”
Chapter 2 – “Stevie”
Chapter 3 – “A Photo and a Letter”
Chapter 4 – “The Life Within”
Chapter 5 – “Jimmy’s Truck”
Chapter 6 – “The Springs Diner”
Chapter 7 – “Dinner and a Game”
Chapter 8 – “He Made Me Nervous”
Chapter 9 – “I Called Dad on My Thirteenth Birthday”
Chapter 10 – “Connections and Time”
Chapter 11 – “The Reverse Apology”
Chapter 12 – “Empty Bedrooms”
Chapter 13 – “Job Description”
Chapter 14 – “The Car I Saw”
Chapter 15 – “It’s Not What You Think”
Chapter 16 – “A Different Route”
Chapter 17 – “Choosing Balance”
Chapter 18 – “A Mother Sees”
Chapter 19 – “Taking More”
Chapter 20 – “Robbing the Future”
Chapter 21 – “I Thought I Didn’t Need Her”
Chapter 22 – “It Was Up to Me”
Chapter 23 – “Separate and Icy”
Chapter 24 – “Striking a Nerve”
Chapter 25 – “Help Has Its Price”
Chapter 26 – “Who Asked for Help?”
Chapter 27 – “You’ve Done Enough”
Chapter 28 – “The Plan”
Chapter 29 – “Who Says I’m Not Okay?”
Chapter 30 – “What’s so Great about Balance?”
Chapter 31 – “I’ll Call You When It’s Over”
Chapter 32 – “Sorting It Out”

© All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

“Hammam” by Carol Anshaw

Carol Anshaw

The Best American Short Stories 1994

Best American Short Stories 1994
5 book marks

One of the reasons I enjoy reading short fiction so much is because of the way authors make the reader jump right into a story and then a little bit later, jump back out. “Hammam” is a good example of this technique and I’m left wondering what will become of the three characters Carol Anshaw has sketched for me.

Carmen has been dating Rob for a few months and now she’s on a trip to Paris with him. Rob, a troubleshooter for a chain of hair salons, is on the trip to check on the Paris franchises. Accompanying them is Heather, Rob’s passive-aggressive and closed-up teenage daughter, who is taking time off from school because of an “ailment” that Carmen suspects is an eating disorder.

Before Rob leaves for a meeting, he asks Carmen to spend the afternoon with Heather. “Don’t make it look as though we’ve talked, as though you’re chaperoning. Just…if you could pretend to be interested. Whatever it is.” Carmen groans to herself, knowing they won’t be going to the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre, that Heather will be choosing something different and edgy from her Hip Pocket Guide to Paris.

Heather picks a hammam, a Turkish steam bath, “probably the worst idea…out of all the terrible ideas in her guidebook” and Carmen, who is painfully modest, wonders how she will manage with just a small towel in a bath full of strangers.

Something different happens, however. Carmen’s apprehension fades when she sees Heather’s shockingly bony frame which has been hidden under a defensive arrangement of black leather and jeans. As they move through the sauna rooms, Carmen watches Heather disappear in the steam and for a few moments they are lost from the world in the depths of the hammam. A strange connection between them results, something Carmen views as a beginning.

It’s a loose bond that seems forgotten at dinner, however, where Heather’s food issues are most obvious. An awkward conflict results and Rob must take sides. Despite Rob’s efforts to keep the three of them together, the dinner and the story end with a big question mark.

Anshaw provides just enough character details to leave them on the edge of a situation and now it’s up to the reader to finish the story. I like that!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Who’s That Indie Author? Tracy Ewens

Who's That Indie Author pic

Tracy Ewens
Tracy Ewens

Author name: Tracy Ewens

Genre: Romance

Books: Catalina Kiss and the A Love Story Series (Premiere, Candidate, and Taste – out 10/27/15, Reserved – out 2/9/16)

  Cataline-Kiss-by-Tracy-Ewens-360x570   Premiere_cover4 

  Candidate_cover5   Taste-by-Tracy-Ewens-360x570
Bio: Tracy Ewens writes contemporary romance and shares a beautiful piece of the desert with her husband and three children in New River, Arizona. She is a recovered theatre major who also blogs at From the Laundry Room.

Taste is her fourth novel, and the third in her A Love Story series. Tracy is a horrible cook, wishes she could speak Italian, and bakes a mean Snickerdoodle.

Favorite thing about being a writer: There are so many great things about being a writer. My mind is constantly working. I like that. There’s always something going on or something to figure out. I also like the people I meet in my head. It’s such a joy to create characters and then watch them evolve through a novel. They tell the story most of the time. I’m sort of like a crossing guard. I make sure they don’t get too far off track. Writing is honestly the very best job in the world, and believe me, I’ve had a few other jobs.

Biggest challenge as an indie author: That’s a toss up between finding the right support and promotion. It has taken me a while to find the right team of editors, etc. When I was traditionally published, I wrote the story and emailed the manuscript. What went on after that was simply a matter of, “This is how we are going to do it,” and me nodding. Publishing independently allows for so many freedoms, but with those come a pretty huge responsibility to present professional work that can compete with the sea of traditionally published stories backed by large houses. Typos, mistakes, are a death sentence for independent work because readers tend to discount you as an amateur.

Promotion is really my own personal hurdle. There are more avenues for independent promotion than ever before, but I often long for someone to tell me what to do and where to be. Selling myself, my work, is not a natural thing for me; so when I have to do it on my own, motivate myself, it can be challenging. But, promotion is part of the deal and I get better with each book.

Favorite book: Such an unfair question, Barb. On a desert island, I can only bring one book . . . Great Expectations. It’s as perfect a book as I have ever read, in my humble opinion. J

Contact Information (blog, website, etc.):
Tracy Ewens’ website: http://www.tracyewens.com
Tracy’s WordPress blog: http://www.fromthelaundryroom.com

Are you an indie author looking for some positive publicity? Do you want to build your indie author network? Why not get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author?

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details, and follow along on Book Club Mom to join the indie author community!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!




“Things Left Undone” by Christopher Tilghman

Best American Short Stories 1994“Things Left Undone”
Christopher Tilghman

The Best American Short Stories 1994

5 book marks

Denny and Susan McCready should be celebrating the birth of their son Charlie, but instead they are told that their baby has cystic fibrosis, “that he might not survive the week, and if he did he would probably not live long enough to enter kindergarten.”

How do you risk getting close to a baby you know will only be with you for a short while? What price do you pay if you do, and what if you don’t? This enormous personal conflict drives an immediate wedge between Denny and Susan. Denny stays away. Susan mothers. She takes care of Charlie, rapping his back to clear his lungs, loving him and tickling him. And Denny stumbles alone through his feelings of ineptitude. On Charlie’s last day with them, Denny desperately reaches out in a shocking way, trying to comfort his baby son.

The marriage suffers while Charlie is with them, but once he’s gone, immeasurable grief splits Denny and Susan in two. Separately they navigate through Charlie’s death and move to distant points. Susan leaves, Denny works the family farm with his father. Denny is lost and can’t think of how to connect with Susan. He tells his father, “You don’t manage a marriage like fences and Jonson grass, Dad. There’s nothing I can do.” “There is always something,” his father answers.

This may sound like an ordinary drama, but Christopher Tilghman’s characters are uncomfortably unfamiliar and they walk through the story in a disconnected state that is both depressing and compelling to read. I did not like Denny and Susan very much, yet I wanted them to get through their loss, to find each other, because I could feel it, too.

There are many painfully moving moments and descriptions in this story. Here’s the one that hit me the hardest and gives insight into Denny’s feelings.

Back when Charlie was still a newborn, when the first untroubled and unknowing smiles began to appear, Denny prayed that this could all happen quickly, before he gave too much of his love, before he surrendered too much of his hope. It took almost to the end of Charlie’s life for Denny to realize that this prayer was monstrous, that he had asked for an end of his own pain in the place of a cure for his son. Susan would make him pay for this. But by then Denny had also learned that of all the pain a human can endure, not allowing oneself to feel love is the worst; that denying love to oneself can destroy, from the inside.

I also liked Tilghman’s sleeper character, Denny’s father, because he just may be the quiet influence that brings the family back together. I was glad to see this force emerge.

My favorite part is at the end when Susan comes to see Denny and gazes at him as he returns on his boat. Tilghman writes, “He looked fine as a waterman, big-chested over the low sides of the boat. Suddenly, as she looked upon this graceful scene, from deep in her lungs came a wave of joy, a relief as if for the first time in years her whole body had relaxed.” These words lift the reader too, and give a hint of hope.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Who’s That Indie Author? Michelle Eastman

Who's That Indie Author pic

Michelle Eastman (2)
Michelle R. Eastman

Author name:  Michelle R. Eastman

Genre:  Children’s Picture Books

BooksThe Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale and Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie 

DustBunnies_Cover_V2 (2)     Aggie_Cover_Front_v2_Lo

Bio: I began my career as an elementary teacher in the West Des Moines School District. At Iowa Public Television, I wrote and produced educational content.

My work with children, and passion for picture books, inspired me to found the literacy initiative Picture Book Pass it On to get free books to kids in need.

My books take a lighthearted approach to the compelling desire kids have to fit in. The stories validate the need we feel for acceptance, while imparting a subtle message about the joy that can come from embracing one’s individuality. The lively, rhyming stanzas and vivid illustrations appeal to boys and girls alike.

Favorite thing about being a writer: My favorite part of being an author is meeting with and reading to kids and using my platform to serve others and make a positive difference in my community.

Biggest challenge as an indie author: Marketing and promotion is a constant challenge, but I try to focus on making connections in the writing community rather than strictly marketing my books.

Favorite book: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Contact Information: Be sure to check out Michelle’s website at Michelle Eastman Books. You can also find her on WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Special mention: The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale is an Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree, and the Kindle version has been a #1 seller on Amazon.

Are you an indie author looking for some positive publicity? Do you want to build your indie author network? Why not get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author?

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details, and follow along on Book Club Mom to join the indie author community!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!