Season’s Greetings 2014

Well, it has definitely been an interesting year. I spent last Christmas with my brother Andy and his fiancé Christina and their combined family in Jupiter, Florida. During this time, Andy proposed to Christina while I sang “The Rose.” I had fun despite the fact that I picked up a nasty stomach flu that forced me to stay in bed for a few days. I missed the family’s holiday festivities but felt well enough later to go to the beach one day and to a performance of The Nutcracker the next.

About a week after I got home, I came down with a bad chest cold and didn’t recover from that for at least two weeks. All things considered, it was a pretty good Christmas, better than staying at home alone, twiddling my thumbs, and feeling sorry for myself. I plan to go again this year and hope for better health conditions.

By the end of January, my new poetry collection, That’s Life, was finished, and I sent it to several publishers. In February, I was surprised to receive word from Finishing Line Press that they wanted to publish it. After agreeing to their terms, I spent several busy months readying the manuscript according to their specifications and promoting it.

In April, I attended our annual WyoPoets workshop in Casper where the presenter was our state poet laureate, Echo Klaproth. Also, my singing group, Just Harmony, performed at the Daughters of the American Revolution state convention here in Sheridan. We sang at other times for different venues throughout the year including a local baseball game, a church service, and an assisted living facility.

In June, the Wyoming Writers annual conference was here in Sheridan with a variety of presenters including Echo Klaproth and Creative Nonfiction editor Lee Gutkind. In August, I gave a reading at the local public library to promote my new book. By this time, it was in the pre-publication stage which meant I needed to secure as many pre-orders as possible to determine how many copies could be printed. Thanks to those of you who pre-ordered a copy. I hope you’re enjoying it.

In July, I went to Florid again, this time to attend Andy’s second wedding which was held at a bed and breakfast in West Palm Beach. I participated in a fun-filled week of festivities including lunch with Christina and her friends, a pool party, a rehearsal dinner at a restaurant in West Palm Beach, and a trip to a Jupiter park for a production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

The ceremony took place on the bed and breakfast’s front porch where I was a bridesmaid and sang “The Rose.” The reception was held behind the facility in what they called a back yard bar. There was plenty of room for eating, dancing, and socializing. Andy hired a band consisting of old college buddies he played with years ago. During breaks, I sang “Annie’s Song” and others. I accompanied most of my songs on the guitar. I had a great week there but was glad to get home after a rough flight from Denver to Billings, Montana, where we encountered a severe thunderstorm, and I was afraid I would be sick again.

About the middle of October, That’s Life was finally released, and in celebration of National Poetry Day, I sat in the local senior center’s lobby and sold books for a couple of hours before participating in a reading with my third Thursday poets group in the facility’s community room. In November, I did a reading for a poetry class at the local high school and at an assisted living center. I also did a signing at a local bookstore.

If you haven’t already ordered my new book, I encourage you to do so at one of the links below or by going to my Website. I wish you all an enjoyable holiday season and a happy new year.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall overcome, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Order That’s Life from Amazon.

The World According to a Cat

You’re a recovering drug addict, subsisting on whatever money you can make playing your guitar and singing on the streets of London. Then one day, you meet a ginger cat who changes your life. Such is the case of James Bowen, the author of A Street Cat Named Bob and The World According to Bob. These two books tell the story of how this stray cat positively influenced the author’s life.

In A Street Cat Named Bob, Bowen discusses how he took Bob in after the cat kept hanging around his flat and how they developed a relationship. Because Bob was a stray, Bowen didn’t think he would stay with him, but it’s said that cats choose their owners, and this turned out to be the case with Bob and Bowen. The author talks about how he became estranged from his parents and moved to England from Australia to pursue a career in music. He then explains how he became addicted to drugs and shares his experiences on the streets after finding Bob, how he took the cat with him everywhere and how Bob’s presence caused more people to pay attention to him and earned him more money. Eventually, because of police harassment, he was forced to give up busking and start selling editions of a local magazine called The Big Issue.

In The World According to Bob, Bowen recounts further adventures with his cat on the streets. He also touches a little more on his life growing up in Australia, how he was hospitalized frequently as a child with a variety of psychiatric disorders. After a couple of years on the streets with Bob, he was discovered by the media, and he explains how he wrote his first book and how its publication got him off the streets, improved his relationships with his family, and changed attitudes toward the homeless.

According to Wikipedia, James Bowen was born on March 15th, 1979 in Surrey, England. After his parents were divorced, he moved to Australia with his mother and stepfather. His home life was tense, and because the family frequently moved, he was unsettled at school. Continually bullied, he began sniffing glue and was eventually diagnosed with ADHD, schizophrenia, and manic depression.

In 1997, he moved to London, and after living with his half-sister for a while, he spent the next ten years sleeping either on the streets or in shelters. He started using heroine to escape the reality of being homeless. In the spring of 2007, he entered a drug treatment program while busking at Covent Garden and living in sheltered accommodation in Tottenham. This was when he met Bob, and if you read his two international bestsellers, written with the help of author Garry Jenkins, you’ll know the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say. To learn more about James Bowen, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James-_Bowen_(author)#Early_life . You can also read a newspaper article and view photos of the author and his cat at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2227639/James-Bowen-Best-selling-true-story-busker-got-life-track-thanks-stray-cat-film.html .

James Bowen’s style of writing drew me into his world. I laughed at Bob’s habit of hiding in unexpected places and his delight in playing with aluminum wrappers and other items. Of course these are traits any cat would have. I found myself getting angry at people who confronted Bowen because they thought he was mistreating Bob and an apartment complex manager who complained that Bowen’s guitar playing and singing at two in the afternoon was keeping her tenants awake. I agree that Bowen probably should have gotten a proper job, and of course he shouldn’t have been using drugs in the first place, but given the circumstances, he didn’t know better and didn’t have the self-esteem to consider a career other than busking and selling magazines. These books would appeal to cat lovers, but I also hope young people around the world will read them and think twice before turning to drugs.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We shall Overcome, How To Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Order That’s Life from Amazon.  

Things to Know About Me

Thanks to Jodie Llewellyn at http://www.wordsreadandwritten.com/blogging-2/twenty-things/ for inspiring this. In her post, she answers some questions about herself. A while back, I did a similar post as part of a blog tour where several of us writers provided information about ourselves and our writing. Now, here are some answers to more questions about me.

How tall are you? I wish I could say I’m five foot two with eyes of blue, but I’m not. I’m only five foot one with brown eyes so naturally, I’m not the girl any man in any song would be looking for, but that’s just as well. My late husband Bill was nearly six feet tall, but that didn’t bother me. Before he became paralyzed as a result of two strokes, I loved standing with him while he held me.

Do you have a hidden talent? Yes, I have perfect pitch. I wasn’t born with it, and it’s not related to my visual impairment as a lot of people might think. It was acquired through constant exposure to music when I was a small child.

What is your biggest pet peeve? I really hate it when people ask me to sing a particular note or hit a glass with a spoon and ask me what note it is. People are amazed when they hear about something like this, but for me, after years of dealing with the supposed incredulity, it’s getting pretty old.

What’s your favorite song? I like “Memory” from Cats. I love cats, although I don’t have one, and in the song, an old feline longs for when she was young. When I worked for fifteen years as a registered music therapist in a nursing home, one of the things I did was use music to help residents reflect on their past. To hear me sing the song, go to https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/memory.mp3 .

What other activities do you like besides writing? I enjoy reading and walking. I also participate in water exercise classes at the YMCA and sing in a women’s group called Just Harmony and go out to eat and to concerts, plays, and other events with friends.

What’s your favorite junk food? I adore chocolate ice cream, pudding, brownies, pie. If it’s chocolate, I’ll eat it. I don’t care too much for candy, though.

Do you have a pet? As I said before, I love cats. I also like dogs, but after caring for my late husband Bill for six years, I’m not ready to take care of another living thing yet. I’ll be content to read and blog about them.

What books do you like to read? I enjoy memoirs, poetry, romance, and some historical fiction. I can do without explicit descriptions of sex and violence.

If you could only drink one beverage besides water for the rest of your life, what would it be? Dr. Pepper.

What kinds of movies do you like to watch? I like comedies and dramas, but I don’t particularly care for violence or sex.

What extracurricular activities did you participate in when you were in high school? I sang in the concert choir, acted in plays, and was on the speech team. I was also in the Spanish and French clubs for a while.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? I’ve lived in New York, Colorado, Arizona, Montana, and North Dakota, but here in Sheridan, Wyoming, is where I’ll spend the rest of my days.

Do you use a PC or a Mac? I use a PC now, but back in the 1990’s when I first became interested in computing, Dad talked me into getting a Mac. When I married Bill in 2005, I discovered that his PC’s screen reading software was better than that on my Mac. Since my computer was getting old, I decided to switch, much to Dad’s consternation. Fortunately, I waited until Dad finished paying for our wedding so we wouldn’t be left to cover those costs if he disowned me, which of course he didn’t.

Now that you know more about me, I’d like to learn more about you, my readers. If you have a blog, you can answer one or more of these questions on your blog and leave me a link in the comments field. If you don’t have a blog, you can answer any or all of these questions in the comments field. Please feel free to skip, modify, or add questions. Have fun with this. I look forward to hearing from you.

By the way, my new poetry collection, That’s Life, is now available from Amazon. If you’ve read it, please go to http://www.amazon.com/Thats-Life-New-Selected-Poems/dp/1622297067/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413835674&sr=8-1&keywords=That%27s+Life%3A+New+and+Selected+Poems and leave a review. If not, you can order the book at the above link. You can also order it from Finishing Line Press, using the link below. For those of you like me who prefer it in a specialized format, it’s also available on Bookshare, and you can download a recording of me reading it from my Website at http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com/thatslife.htm .

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order That’s Life from Amazon.

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.