About the Prodigal Band Trilogy: the Main Characters, Part 1

In the previous post and other various posts, I stated that my main characters morphed from a gang or clique of boys in the area I grew up, Long Island and New York City, to rock musicians from England–a decision influenced by, first, the fact that I actually made it into a local band; second, rock music was my main connection to youth culture of my generation (60s and 70s); third, my fave bands of that era–and the most influential bands of that era–were Brits, and I had visited England as well as attended the 1970 Isle of Wight Rock Festival which featured the Who, Traffic, ELP, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix (who died in London a few weeks later) and others of note (some whom I missed since we had to leave early to get the flight back to the States).

That the most influential rock bands of that era were from England was a major reason my fictional band, Sound Untd, is from England. And what band from that era had the most influence on how I constructed my fictional band? Why, the Beatles of course! The so-called Fab Four–whom many claim are the greatest rock band of all time…basically re-invigorated the genre leading the so-called ‘British Invasion’ in 1963-64 as rock music in the States had been, IMHO, flat-lining since the plane crash of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens in 1958. One doesn’t need to read the ‘Rolling Stone History of Rock and Roll’ books to know that from 1959 until the Beatles, rock was tripe, was cutesy-wootsey, was just ‘boy meets girl, boy ‘dances’ girl’ stuff (and you know what they mean by ‘dance’–having sex, right?), with a few true rock outfits to keep the genre alive (Del Shannon, Dion and the Belmonts, Beach Boys and a few others). Folks, it wasn’t until the Beatles came around–and the groups that followed them–that I had any interest in rock music at all. With the arrival of the Beatles, my world–and the world of my friends–became consumed by listening to the radio and records, reading ‘fan magazines,’ including the British one called ‘Melody Maker,’ and even getting together and pretending we were the Beatles on stage as the Beatles records played on victrolas or stereos (and not just the Beatles, either) in bedrooms or basements. It was this “pretending” to be John or Paul or George that would later give me the idea of learning guitar.

It was the Beatles and the other groups that helped me to grow up amongst my peers and not just be the loner, sort of, that I had been before. Finally, I was able to ‘fit in.’ Finally, I became interested, somewhat, in boys–it would take several years, however, before boys became interested in me. I wasn’t exactly a ‘hot date’ if you know what I mean. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I even thought I was good-looking enough (despite my acne) and finally landed a boyfriend of sorts (whose acne was even worse, but anyway…). Oh, as for my friends–most were better looking than me, and one of them, who looked like the model ‘Twiggy,’ (remember her? And she appeared in the movie ‘Blues Brothers’ as well toward the end), actually had a rock musician boyfriend–lead singer and lead guitar, of course. Another friend also dated once or twice another band singer who graduated the year before I did. And another friend had her band and she could sing like Janis Joplin! So, folks, since I knew I had writing talent since I’d been writing since the age of 8 or so, what better way to get the ball rolling than to write fiction stuff about an imaginary rock band?

But from England…but where in England?

My fictitious band absolutely could NOT be from Liverpool because that’s where the Beatles are from, and because they spoke with one of the weirdest accents on God’s green earth–Scouse. Sing-songy, to the point of crazy (and yes, folks, out here where I live a recent property owner just happened to be from Liverpool). And anyway, no way was my group going to be from where the Beatles were. London? Nope. Several bands, especially the Rolling Stones, were from London and, as with the Beatles, the Stones were prominent enough to where they, too, would be a serious influence on how my band was created. Manchester? A group that hit it huge for about a year, Hermann’s Hermits, was from there, but after a while they just did what I thought was tripe. And it seemed to me that most of these British Invasion groups were from either Liverpool, London, or Manchester.

Another group from another part of England hit it big in the summer and fall of 1964, and this group did some very interesting–and different–music, more bluesy, and with a really, really good keyboard player that really titillated my ears–the Animals, whose first hit was a remake of the Bob Dylan song, ‘House of the Rising Sun.’ Later songs had a bluesy style, such as ‘Boom Boom’ and ‘Bo Diddley.’ I saw them one night on the Ed Sullivan Show, and, after performing, Sullivan started to interview them, and–well, talk about weird accents! Neither I–nor by the looks of it, Sullivan–could understand about half of what they said, but it turned out they were from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which is way up north and close to Scotland. In fact, the accent had a Scottish lilt to it–and that was the fascinating part. Their music, and their accent.

Then, in 1970–and I’ve stated this in a previous post as well–the night before taking the ferry from Portsmouth (I think, or South Hampton) to the Isle of Wight, I just happened to meet three guys from Newcastle, and while one of them was hard to understand, the others were easier–but still, they spoke with that fascinating accent, called Geordie. Several years later after meeting some folks from Scotland, they told me the Geordie accent (and there is a dialect, as well, but I won’t get into that) was very similar to and actually derived somewhat from Scottish. Historically it makes sense: Hadrian’s Wall, which the Tyneside town of Wallsend is named for, was in fact the old time border between England and Scotland. The portion of the county of Northumberland (or Northumbria) north of that wall was part of Scotland off and on for centuries, and was finally incorporated into England in 1744, the days of ‘Bonnie Prince Charley” and that war. And, the more I hear Geordie (YouTube videos and the like), the more I’m glad I chose that area and that accent for my characters in the band.

They come from the fictitious city of Walltown (south of Wallsend on the Tyne river where they build boats and stuff, and east of Newcastle), and the main tourist attraction of this fictitious city is an angelic statue called The Tooters (referencing the horn-blowing angels in the Book of Revelation). Well guess what? Across from Newcastle is Gateshead, and it just so happens that the main tourist attraction in Gateshead is–and angelic statue! (The thing is, it looks more like a bird, but at least it has wings, if not horns). And bear in mind I didn’t know ANY of this when I started writing my book(s)!

Finally, why did I call my group ‘Sound Unltd’? The original name for the group was the actual original name in my books, the Smash. Later, I changed it to ‘Smash Unltd’ (you do realize ‘unltd’ is short for ‘unlimited,’ right?). Two things caused me to change it to ‘Sound Unltd’–one, the fact that a group called ‘Sounds Incorporated’ existed in the 60s (of course, they never made it here), and that spiritual inspiration that came to me in the early 90s. Further, the name Sound Unltd is so ‘pretentious sounding’ that I figured no one would ever call themselves by that name, and so far, no one has–and they better not, since the name exists in copyrighted manuscripts! I do hope I never to lay out a couple o’ hundred dollars to trademark it!

Keys to Formatting E-books for EPub and Various E-book Platforms Besides Kindle

I do hope that the author of books who also has the desire or urge to format their printed books into E-Books isn’t just considering formatting for Amazon Kindle. For one thing, Amazon’s payout looks to be a pittance compared to some of the other platforms, especially Lulu. Now I do intend to format for Kindle because everyone and his or her mother has a Kindle device, right? And I know it is a very good idea to format for Kindle–for one thing, a friend of mine who downloaded my Prodigal Band FREE PDF complained that it was hard for her to read the PDF on her Kindle! That is likely because the Kindle Create format is different from a PDF format, which is simply an export from Word or WordPerfect. So, to satisfy folks who only have a Kindle reader which uses MOBI formatting, I will just have to accept a lower payout. Oh well, such is Amazon and it’s money-craving owner, Jeff Bezos, who will never have enough money (and, BTW, he is NOT “the richest man in the world”–which he knows and that is likely why he craves more and more money…it’ll take him years to catch up to the richest man in the world, which is the head of the Rothschild Banking dynasty, not Bezos! Bezos is “only”” worth a trillion or so. Rothschild, who OWNES the Federal Reserve Band and other central banks, is likely half-way to quadrillionaire status….a quadrillion is a one followed by 15 zeros! or the number 10 to the 15th power!). When you have this kind of money, money becomes meaningless in a way.

In any case I have finished formatting Battle of the Band for Lulu’s EPub format which also allows e-book buyers to purchase the e-book from other “partners” such as Barnes and Noble’s Nook platform, Apples iBook, the various Smashwords outfits such as Toshiba Book Place, Kobo and others–and even Amazon! (Just not for Kindle Readers..one would have to download  another e-Reader such as Calibre E-book Reader.)

There are two very important formatting issues one must address when using the EPub formatting tool, the Guide which can be downloaded here. One is using the “Styles” tool when using Microsoft Word (best to use the newest version, but I used Word2013): the Title, Copyright, and Intro-Preface-Foreword-About the Author pages and other intro pages MUST use Heading 1, while Chapters must begin using Heading 2, and subsections using Heading 3. And a lower Heading must NOT be above a higher heading–and all Headings must begin on the very top line of the page (the regular printed words use Normal, with paragraph spacing). And speaking of paragraphs…

If your paragraphs are NOT formatted correctly, your book will be rejected…

This is because EPub format does NOT allow numbered pages and the way it is formatted is how the Table of Contents is created. If your Headings and paragraphs are not formatted correctly, the Table of Contents is garbled, and your book  will be rejected.

It is extremely important to follow exactly the Lulu EPub Guideline PDF book. Make sure you use either “In Line formatting” or “Block”…In Line for novels and Block for non-fiction, or whatever. Finally, format your paragraphs the same way for not just “normal” Style, but Headings 1, 2, and 3 as well, according to the Guide. Hint: Use indent only for Normal, and keep Headings 1, 2, and 3 at 0.0 indent.

Hints: One, click on the paragraph symbol at the very top of the document on the Home ribbon next to the W (Word Doc) and the refresh circle, and a “paragraph” window comes up. Follow the instructions for each Heading or Normal Style guideline. Two, once one’s indents and “First Line” under the “special” function are established, right click on all Headings 1, 2, and 3 as well as the Normal Style boxes and you will see in all cases the “Modify” function. In each case left-click on Modify and choose font (Times New Roman, Garamond or Ariel are the only fonts allowed; I use Times New Roman) and font size, with Heading 1 being the largest and Headings 2 and 3 being smaller, and Normal being the smallest (I use 36 for Heading 1, 24 for Heading 2, 14 for Heading 3, as well as italics, and 12 for Normal). After fonts are dealt with, then click on the Format button below at the left and do what you did for the original “paragraph” function (or just use this tool and forget the “paragraph” tool, it’ll work either way). But you must do this for EACH of your Styles Headings and Normal.

Finally, there are instructions for auto-typing and auto-formatting that the guide says must be done as well. Go to the main menu under the FILE TAB. Click on the Options tab, and then click on the Proofing, then click on Auto Correct Options, then follow the instructions in the Guide regarding “Auto-Format” and “Auto Format As You Type.”

To make sure you are formatting correctly, click on the little “paragraph” symbol in the “paragraph” box right next to where the “Normal” square is in Styles. You will then see the various “Paragraph” symbols up and down your page. Larger symbols must come before the smaller ones in order.

One last thing–do NOT put your cover art (or what Lulu calls “marketing image”) on the very first page of your book! The very first page MUST be the Title page! You will submit your cover art separately, and guidelines for cover art (number of pixels and size and colors) are a whole other set of instructions! If you don’t want to spend days and weeks creating your own cover, go to pexels.com and download your COPYRIGHT= and ROYALTY-FREE image which you can then modify with your book title, edition, and author name. And one last thing–your Title page MUST only include what’s on the cover, or your cover must only include what’s on the Title page….that is called “metadata”…

The Prodigal Band Trilogy: The Spiritual

Moving on to the spiritual aspect of why I wrote these books…

In the fall of 1993, at night with the myriad of star-shine visions outside the house at night in the mountains, a view of the heavens, thinking some divine entity was hovering above, a thought came into my head, in my own voice, telling me that now was the time to begin to compile all the character and theme and setting and story and all the stuff I had carried in my head since the mid-60s. The time to write the novel was nigh….

Since I was raising a toddler daughter at the time, I had limited time to do this work, but I managed to get the rough draft manuscript done by the summer of 1994 only to have to go back to work teaching secondary math–in El Paso, in what was then a ‘gang land high school’ and put up with not only gangster students but a principal that couldn’t handle gangster students (the ONLY time I noticed serious discipline in the hallways was the one week this so-called principal was at a conference in Washington, DC! During that week, the assistant principals and security guards were actually able to do their jobs, and not one student of mine tried sneaking out of class or wanted to roam the halls…the only time this happened!) After the kids went to bed at night, when I wasn’t grading tests or whatever, I edited the rough-rough-rough draft. I quit the teaching job in June, 1995.

That summer I began the actual rough draft on someone else’s Macintosh computer, from 6 am until 8 am, when I had to go back home to home school my kids. In fall of 1995 I bought my own Mac computer with System 7.5. When I had time, I finalized the first novel, Battle of the Band, which was completed in 1996–after a writer/retired teacher friend of mine Beta Edited the novel twice.

And what she told me through her proof-reading/editing caused me to think maybe divine intervention WAS at work in this first book:

Read the rest here.

Download the FREE The Prodigal Band PDF e-book here.

The Prodigal Band Trilogy: The Why, Part 5

In Part 1, I stated why I became a writer-story-teller. In Part 2, I stated why the characters I made up were a gang and then a rock band. In Part 3, I stated why the rock band morphed into one from England, and in Part 4, why they were from northeast England, where the initial setting would occur. Now is Part 5, discussing the various changes I made over the next twenty or so years from 1970 until the final version of the first novel in the series, Battle of the Band, was published, that set the stage for the next two books, including the FREE PDF of The Prodigal Band.

Read the rest here.

Download the FREE PDF The Prodigal Band here.