Category Archives: fran metzman
Wrapping things up here on the Robin Renee Blog Tour, and I want to thank everyone involved. Special thanks goes out to all the folks who participated and helped with to tour, including, and not limited to, Shelley Szajner, Marie Gilbert, Becca Butcher, Patti O’Brien, Fran Metzman, Ray Cornwall, Andy Burns, the South Jersey Writers, the GAR! Podcast, Biff Bam Pop!, and especially to Robin Renee herself. You all rock, very hard! Thank you!
Here is a breakdown of the stops on the Blog Tour.
Robin Renee is interviewed by Shelley Szajner here about inspiration, Kirtan, and This..
Marie Gilbert runs down some of the places where Robin can be found on the internet here.
Becca Butcher gives her thoughts on the This. release here.
Here, I give a song by song review of This., along with Robin adding her thoughts and observations as well.
Patti O’Brien talks about Robin’s music, and then interviews her about her travels here.
We return to Welcome to Hell, where guest blogger Fran Metzman interviews Robin about her influences, inspirations, and creative process. See it here.
Over on the South Jersey Writers blog, Marie Gilbert returns to interview Robin about encouragement, inspiration, and the ups and downs of a music career.
Robin was a guest on The GAR! Podcast where discussion included DEVO, David Bowie, Saturday Night Live music moments, and the creative process. You can listen to the episode here.
Thank you, everyone!
Fran Metzman: What inspires you?
Robin Renee: I am inspired by so many things – Every time I am asked this question, it feels entirely new. The strange rituals and pitfalls and triumphs of human interaction fascinate me, and make for good things to learn from and write about. Artists who show us the deep and sometimes bizarre bits of their minds inspire me (Salvador Dalí and Gary Wilson come to mind). People like that show me how it’s always possible to dig deeper and to talk about what’s real, what’s primal. I am inspired by dancing, costumes, laughter, and people who allow fun and joy to move through them without reservation. I am completely in love with the ocean. I strive to be my best self, so anyone I see who is pushing their own boundaries through what may be scary in order to get to something stronger and more powerful on the other side –they are inspirations to me all the time.
Fran Metzman: What instruments do you play, what are your favorites, and why?
Robin Renee: I play guitar, harmonium, piano and keyboards, and I kind of fake it on percussion at times. It is hard to say what a favorite instrument is, because in a sense, the best instrument is the one you need to make the sound for a song in that particular moment. Nothing has that amazing drone quite like a harmonium. So many sounds can come from a guitar – harmonic, percussive… All that said, I seem to have a very deep resonance with the piano. It is my first instrument, which may be why playing piano is so close to my heart. I am also a huge fan of electronic music, and I love the sounds that synths can make. I most often play guitar when I am performing out and about these days. The guitar is a more portable instrument, which is why I think I began to favor it, but lately I’ve had to wonder why I don’t spend more time playing and developing songs on keys. See response #1 re: pushing through boundaries and fears, perhaps. I predict more keyboard sounds in my future.
Robin Renee: I am not sure what you mean here, actually. There are some general things I could talk about. Harmonium gives a sense of Om – of well-being, acoustic guitar might invite tunefulness or singability – but I think you’d have to ask me about a specific song you’re curious about and I could talk about the roles of each instrument in it. What musical instruments do in any given moment isn’t really a static thing.
Fran Metzman: How many ways do you arrange a song before deciding on a final draft?
Robin Renee: There are no rules. I think sometimes it’s more about an incubation period where I can tell a song just doesn’t have the right melody or lyrics yet. When that happens, sometimes the thing to do is to sit down and work on it, but often enough it is more productive to let it float around in the back of my mind and when the missing pieces show up, I’ll know. During that time, the song needs to exist in the “I’m letting you percolate” zone rather than the “I’m avoiding you” zone. I’m getting better at keeping them in the former and not the latter.
Fran Metzman: Take us through your songwriting process, from start to finish, how do you do it?
Robin Renee: Again, there’s never really one way that this happens. Sometimes I am walking or driving and I’ll hear a trail of a piece of music that just sparks me to want to write. I might have a conversation with someone and a phrase will come out that screams “lyric.” Sometimes it doesn’t come from any prompt I can discern. When that spark happens, however it happens, it usually is like a few words, often with a melody, that show up very suddenly. I scribble it down or record a voice memo on my phone, or whatever, as soon as I can.
It might just go into a virtual pile of ideas for another time, but if there’s something pressing about it, I will take what I have and do some purposeful work on it. I like to write lyrics with an actual pen and paper- There is something about the tactile nature of it that seems to connect more readily to the creation of solid lines and meter. I may sit with pen and paper and guitar and just work freeform until the basics are there. Once the basic idea for verses and the structure of the song is there, it is less about the initial inspiration and more about the craft of writing. I’ll think logically about things like the progression of a story or where certain sounds will have the most impact.
A lot of the real formation of my songs happens in the recording. I will sometimes have some pretty strong ideas of what the full production should sound like, but it isn’t until I start adding sounds that what is really needed starts to reveal itself. At that point, when we’re adding voices, samples, and other sounds, it feels like sculpting.
Fran Metzman: How does kirtan influence your pop music and vice versa?
Robin Renee: Kirtan, has influenced me overall because of its effect on the mind and mental/emotional health. Like silent meditation, I think, it changes the brain and consciousness in positive ways. In regard to how my pop music has influenced the kirtan – pop, rock, and folk rock form the basis of how I play. So, I think it is natural that the kirtans that show up for me have those influences. I like that about the way kirtan is developing. The backgrounds and influences of kirtan artists can be very evident, so if you groove on rock, jazz, raga, simple melodies, or complex orchestrations, there are probably some kirtan sounds somewhere that will be a way into the experience for you.
How kirtan has influenced my pop music: It basically “insisted” on being part of it! There are a couple of songs like “I’m Coming Down” and “Holy River” that really seemed to cry out for mantra. I like the sound that has emerged from the integration.
In another sense, kirtan has held back some of my pop music interest. There were several years when I was so consumed with mantra that I really wasn’t writing, per se. It feels to me that this was a natural response to a practice that can make the stories of life seem insignificant in relation to the whole, the drive toward Oneness. It has taken some time for me to discover where I am now and relearn how to present what I do. I think the media loves a simplistic story, and for a while it felt like adding this overtly spiritual piece to what I do made it more difficult to make a clear presentation about who I am. I’m glad to be figuring that out now. Writing has reemerged for me and I have discovered that my message was hidden within the challenge all along – It is to insist upon being all that I am. That is the singular intention and image, and my work stands for those who are taking on a similar journey.
Fran Metzman: Where do you see yourself in the future musically?
Robin Renee: I don’t want to predict too far into the future, but right now I am interested in electronica and ambient music. As I mentioned, I have always been big into synth sounds and sometimes haven’t reflected that in my own music as much as I would like. I hope to retain the kind of singer/songwriter craft that feels natural to me while bringing in more electronic sounds and see where that takes it. I’m very open to collaboration these days, so I am looking forward to finding out what’s next, too.
Thank you Fran, and Robin.
Today marks the start of the Robin Renee Blog Tour. For the next week or so, we’ll be guiding you through a journey of the work singer/songwriter/poet/activist/journalist, Robin Renee.
Who is Robin Renee? Besides, my talented and creative friend of several decades of course, Robin Renee is Mantra-Pop! – accessible, lyric-driven alt-folk rock with a spiritual twist. Conscious and melodic with an edge, think of blending the voices of Chrissie Hynde and Joan Armatrading with the wordsmith intelligence of Elvis Costello and the mystical passion of kirtan chanting.
Her CDs include In Progress, All Six Senses (produced by the world renowned Scott Mathews who has worked with George Harrison, Elvis Costello, Barbra Streisand, and many more), Live Devotion (East-meets-West chanting), and spirit.rocks.sexy – mantra-pop headlines from the clairaudient dreams of the evocative Robin Renée.
She has shared the stage with some of the West’s best-loved kirtan singers including Krishna Das, Dave Stringer, and Girish. Also a poet, artist, and writer, Robin’s work has appeared in PanGaia, Big Hammer #12, Curve Magazine, Songwriter’s Market, Blessed Bi Spirit – Bisexual People of Faith (Continuum Press), That Takes Ovaries – Bold Females and their Brazen Acts (Random House), and many other publications.
Her newest recording, This. (chant and sacred song), will be followed by ..and Everything Else (songs and spoken word) in 2014.
Here’s the schedule for the Blog Tour:
Tomorrow, Thursday, July 18th, Shelley Szajner will be interviewing Robin at her blog.
Friday, July 19th, Marie Gilbert will be hosting at her blog, Gilbert Curiosities.
Saturday, July 20th, Becca Butcher will be hosting at her blog.
Sunday, July 21st, we return here to Welcome to Hell, where I’ll be reviewing Robin’s “This.” Album.
Monday, July 22nd Patti O’Brien will be hosting at her blog, A Broad Abroad.
Wednesday, July 24th Marie Gilbert will be hosting an interview with Robin at the South Jersey Writers Blog, Tall Tales and Short Stories.
Friday, July 26th I will be conducting an interview with Robin Renee at Biff Bam Pop!.
Saturday, July 27th I will be closing out the blog tour here at Welcome to Hell.
See you tomorrow, at Shelley Szajner’s blog!
The Next Big Thing is a blog project designed to help writers get the word out about their latest works. Author Kevin R. Tipple tagged me, and I’ll be tagging a few writers at the end of those Q&A, and they’ll be doing their own blogs about their work next week. Check ’em all out.
1. What is the title of your current book?
Strange World is a short story anthology put out by Biff Bam Pop!, featuring previously unpublished tales of suspense and horror by various authors from across North America. My story in the collection is called “Live to Write, Write to Live.”
2. Where did the idea for the story come from?
Believe it or not, writing on the toilet. Since getting an iPhone, I have stopping using small notebooks for writing notes on the go. I have almost exclusively moved to doing it on the iPhone with the Notes app. Sometimes this happens, ahem, when ‘occupied.’ This image is at the start of “Live to Write” and propels the plot from there.
3. What genre does the book fall under?
Strange World contains thirteen tales of thriller, horror and suspense. My own story in the collection, while containing horror and suspense elements, I feel is more black comedy than anything else. You’ll have to read it yourself and see.
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie?
Wow. I never really gave this one any thought. I would say that Naomi would be well served by an aged and ragged version of either Sharon Stone or Michelle Pfeiffer. Mandy Patinkin as he looks in “Homeland” would make a good Blaine Taylor. The others you’ll just have to use your imagination.
The truth is the characters are actually modeled on folks I know, but I ain’t telling who they are. If I did, I’d have to kill you. And them. 😉
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your story?
Write what you know is not always the best policy.
6. Is your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Strange World is self-published by the Biff Bam Pop! pop culture website and staff, the first of several books. Keep a look out.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Unlike a lot of stuff I write, I wrote the story in a whirlwind of passion and creativity over a couple days. It is the first short story I have written and finished in decades, and the one done in the quickest time.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Oh my, I couldn’t say. I would hope anything in the horror or suspense genre that has a sly wisp of subtle humor.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this story?
You mean besides writing on the toilet? I have nothing but kind words, gratitude and praise for Andy Burns, editor-in-chief of Biff Bam Pop!, for kicking me in the butt and getting me to submit a story to Strange World. It is all his fault. 😉
10. What else about the book might pique a reader’s interest?
Besides my own, there are twelve other terrific stories in Strange World by twelve other very talented writers, like Jason Shayer, Lucas Mangum, Anne Michaud, David Sanford Ward, and the aforementioned Andy Burns, among others. And don’t forget, the book features an introduction by award winning author Jonathan Maberry.
You can purchase an ebook copy of Strange World on Kobo here.
One week from today, be sure to check out what Marie Gilbert, Fran Metzman, Ann Siracusa, Suzie Tullett and Bex Aaron have to say in answer to these questions, too. And also check out what my tagger Kevin R. Tipple has to say on his blog as well – he’s a terrific writer and friend, always worth reading.
If you read yesterday’s blog entry about The Hungry Heart Stories virtual book tour, you know that I am giving away a copy of the book to the best comment or question by a reader along the tour stops. I will be awarding this prize on Friday, March 2, so there is still time to make your mark and add a comment to any of the stops.
Here are the stops for THE HUNGRY HEART STORIES Blog Tour:
“Becca Butcher’s Blog” by Becca Butcher, you can check out the tour with Becca here, here, here, here and the interview here. Yeah, Becca rocked the house when it came to promoting this tour. Thank you! ((hugs))
“A Reference of Writing Rants or “Learn from My Mistakes”” by Jennifer M. Eaton, you can find her unique and entertaining interview here.
And make sure to check out all of the above blogs, and not just for the tour. They are all by terrific, talented writers and artists with much to say.
Okay, if you’ve been paying attention, you know I’ve been running a virtual book tour throughout eight different blogs for the last ten days. Yeah, I know, holy heavy rotation, Batman, especially if you also follow me on the various social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Tumblr, Gather, LiveJournal, and the rest. The name of the book is THE HUNGRY HEART STORIES and it’s by my friend, mentor and fellow writer Fran Metzman.
Now if you’ve been with us for the whole ride, you’ve learned a lot about Fran and the book from reviews, interviews, and press releases, and it’s all true. I’d like to say I have some deep dark secrets about her, but I don’t. It’s on the page. Her mind, her talent, even bits of her life, they are all on the page. So if you haven’t already, think about purchasing a copy of “The Hungry Heart Stories,” and get to know Fran a little better. You’ll be glad you did.
I think I might have an interesting perspective on this short story collection, as I am the only man on this blog tour, but I think agree wholeheartedly with everyone else. Now as a member of Fran’s Rainy Tuesdays writing group for over a decade, and the guy who organized this blog tour, you might guess that I’m a Fran fan. But just ask Ms. Metzman herself, and you’ll find I don’t mince when it comes to critiquing. I personally think some members of that group have actually planned my demise on occasion because of my razor sharp critiques. Let’s sum it up to say that if I didn’t like these stories, I wouldn’t be promoting them. Enough said.
These are stories of women in transition, women in crisis, and as you’ve been told along this blog tour, the thread of cooking and food runs through them all, some stronger than others. My favorite, “The Right Seasoning,” holds a particular memory for me. We workshopped it in our Tuesday night writers group some years ago. As we went around the room verbally giving our critiques, we all began to get hungrier and hungrier. Reading the story, with such wonderful olfactory imagery, hit our stomachs as well as our heads! I loved it.
All of the stories in this collection will hit the reader hard and make them feel. If you read them and walk away unaffected in some way, I don’t know what to say. I think this is what literary fiction should be about – soliciting a feeling, a reaction, making the reader think. And if you want to really understand what Fran is doing, I can’t recommend enough the last work in the collection, an essay called “Writing and Healing.” It says it all. All writers should read that piece.
Buy the book. Read the book. Can I be any more forward than that? I guess not. Now here’s where I bribe you. Next week, next Friday, I am going to go through every stop on this virtual book tour, and pick one lucky commenter and award them a free copy of the book. All those affiliated with the blog tour are ineligible (sorry, ladies). Now let’s see some comments!
I’ll watch any drama on HBO. There is simply a level of quality that is always present. And it doesn’t matter what a given television series is about, there is always amazing writing, direction, and performance, always.
My mother-in-law notoriously dislikes science fiction, fantasy, and horror. That genre stuff just turns her off. It’s too ‘creepy’ to use her word. Yet last summer she was sucked into the fantasy world of George R.R. Martin’s “A Game of Thrones.” She even watched several episodes one right after the other to catch up. That is the magic of HBO drama. It doesn’t matter what it’s about, it matters how it’s done, and the quality and care with which it is done.
That brings us to “Luck.” I really couldn’t care less about horse racing. It does less for me than genre television does for the mom-in-law, but the HBO drama rule pulled me in. The sneak peek of the pilot back in December hooked me and made me wait with baited breath for the series debut a few weeks back. This show is fabulous.
The HBO drama rule is not all it has going for it though. Oh there is a slight “Sopranos” vibe going on, but that’s not the kicker. What drives this show is the acting. You’ve got some heavy hitters here with Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, and Dennis Farina, as well as an ensemble of some of the best character actors around. Most notable are Kevin Dunn, Richard Kind, and one of my faves, from the much missed “Dirt,” Ian Hart.
The series, created by writer David Milch who also worked on the network’s terrific and also missed “Deadwood,” follows the events and characters tied to a particular race track, and it’s all done with class and in the slick style of executive producer Michael Mann. These two allow the big three actors to be as big as they want on the small screen and it’s a good thing – all are at their best here.
There are only nine episodes in this first season, and with the fourth coming this Sunday, there’s plenty of time to catch up. This is yet another HBO show you should not miss.
Just a reminder, The Virtual Book Tour for THE HUNGRY HEART STORIES is featured today at Shelley Szajner’s blog with an interview with the author Fran Metzman, and continues tomorrow on Becca Butcher’s blog. Don’t miss it!
Welcome to The Hungry Heart Stories Blog Tour. For the next eleven days, various blogs across the internet will be talking about THE HUNGRY HEART STORIES and talking with author Fran Metzman, and it all starts right here.
THE HUNGRY HEART STORIES is a short story collection that deals with the universal search to fill a void. Fran Metzman, co-author of UGLY COOKIES, serves up a plate of quirky and disparate characters in these captivating stories. A grieving husband in the darkly funny Right Seasoning conjures up his deceased wife’s presence in the beloved kitchen they once shared. From My Inheritance that tells of a grown daughter, trying to find the love and peace she has always craved with her dying mother to Getting Closer, the story of a woman left with the violent legacy of food that defined her life – we find the characters reaching the low points and triumphs of human emotions. Particularly poignant is the story, The Reunion, about a woman born into poverty who reaches the pinnacle of success but with questionable sacrifice.
Each of the twelve stories and one essay incorporates food as a means to some end or fulfillment. In Metzman’s sure hand we get these fully realized worlds, leavened with passion and sprinkled with humor. THE HUNGRY HEART STORIES is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and from the publisher Wilderness House Press.
I’ve known Fran for a long time, more than a decade actually. We met at her writing workshops at Borders Books in Marlton with the writers group that soon became known as Rainy Tuesdays, and still meet on a weekly basis for critiques and writing discussion. She knows her stuff, especially writing, and has taught me so much, and folks who know me know I can’t be taught easily. Today I consider Fran a mentor, a fellow writer, and most of all a friend. Simply put, she rocks.
And THE HUNGRY HEART STORIES is a book that rocks too. And I wouldn’t say that if I didn’t believe it, not even for a friend. Over the next eleven days you will get to know Fran better and learn more about this short story collection, so sit back and enjoy the ride.
I also want to say a few words about the wonderful lady writers who are helping me with this project. From Robin whom I’ve known since high school and is also a fantastic musician, to Shelley who writes great young adult fantasy, to Becca who I know from The Writer’s Chatroom and my online group Writer Circle, to all the terrific women in the South Jersey Writers – they are all fabulous writers, and you should not just check out their blogs on the days of the blog tour, but every day as well. Always great content from great writers. Don’t forget to comment on everyone’s blogs and make new friends!
Here are the stops for THE HUNGRY HEART STORIES Blog Tour:
Tuesday, February 14th
“Writing – Art – Metaphysics” by Shelley Szajner
Wednesday, February 15th
“BeccaButcher’s Blog” by Becca Butcher
Thursday, February 16th
“Gilbert Curiosities” by Marie Gilbert
Friday, February 17th
“The Author-in-Training” by Mieke Zamora-Mackay
Saturday, February 18th
“A Reference of Writing Rants for Writers or “Learn from My Mistakes”” by Jennifer M. Eaton
Sunday, February 19th
The Tour makes a return trip to Marie’s blog
Monday, February 20th
And then the Tour makes a return stop at Becca’s blog
Tuesday, February 21st
“The Dream Between” by Robin Renee
Wednesday, February 22nd
“Literary Debauchery” by Krista Magrowski
Thursday, February 23rd
Finally we return here to Welcome to Hell for the close of the Tour.
Everybody ready to roll? Let’s do this! See you tomorrow at Shelley’s blog!
Movies ~ I tried to limit this list to movies that came out in 2010 as opposed to movies that I had first seen in 2010. If it were the latter, I would definitely include things like Suck, Gran Torino, Whip It, Big Fan, Me and Orson Welles and the best flick I saw this year, which is in fact from 1999 – Cradle Will Rock.
Nevertheless, here’s my top ten or so (fourteen actually) for 2010: Julie & Julia, HBO’s multiple Emmy Award winning Temple Grandin, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Despicable Me, the Danish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Shutter Island, The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town, should-be Oscar contender Secretariat, the surprising Megamind, the equally surprising Hot Tub Time Machine, The Runaways, Tangled, from the Cartoon Network Firebreather, and my favorite film of the year Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World
Among the worst I saw this year, again, of those movies that came out this year, would be Dinocroc Vs. Supergator, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li and the second and third installments of The Twilight Saga.
Television ~ My favorites on the TV this year are pretty predictable, sadly enough, but at least there’s a quorum. The top three for me are obviously “Mad Men,” “The Walking Dead,” and “Boardwalk Empire,” that’s easy. I was also a sucker for “Doctor Who,” “Misfits” and “Castle” this year, caught on to the amazing “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” better late than never, and I got my comic book geek groove on with “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”
Still hanging in there with my favorites, but a bit on the decline in quality would be “Chuck,” “Glee,” “Entourage,” “True Blood” and as much as I hate to say this, “Dexter.” Here’s hoping they improve in coming seasons. This is not to say these are bad series, mind you, they are all head and shoulders above most of the stuff out there.
Music ~ While I was still riding high with Lady GaGa and “Glee” from 2009, 2010 will go down as the year I discovered nerdcore. I spent a lot of my time listening to MC Frontalot, MC Chris, Beefy, Schaffer the Darklord and especially Adam WarRock. As a matter of fact, “The War for Infinity” and the West Coast Avengers Mixtape from Adam were among my favorite albums of the year. Also in there I would put “Something for Everybody” by DEVO and just to make it an even nostalgic choice, the just released “All You Need Is Now” by Duran Duran. I also kinda dug the soundtrack to “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” by Joseph LoDuca.
Songs that I loved this year would have to include that song by Cee Lo Green, edited or unedited version, it was great. The Human League had a nice comeback with “Night People,” I also liked some stuff by Arcade Fire, Ke$sha and Florence + the Machine, but my real favorite of 2010, for both all the wrong and right reasons would have to be “Miracles” by ICP.
Everything Else ~ My favorite books this year were “Pandemonium” by Daryl Gregory and “Heart-Shaped Box” and “20th Century Ghosts” by Joe Hill. Comics by Paul Cornell, Gail Simone and Jim McCann were the best this year. My favorite podcasts included “Tom Vs. Aquaman” and the excellent “Better in the Dark.” My favorite blogs included “The Age of Reasonable Doubt” by Fran Metzman and “The Aquaman Shrine” by Rob Kelly.
Here’s to a great 2011!
Fran Metzman is a terrific writer, a friend and a mentor, and she writes one of my favorite blogs, The Age of Reasonable Doubt about women’s issues, including sexuality, age and relationships, at Wild River Review.
She just released this announcement regarding her blog: After writing The Age of Reasonable Doubt for the past five years, I am pleased to say the blog has received some very positive feedback and support. Now, in my fifth year with Wild River Review, I am moving forward with the blog in new ways. I have added graphics and photos and I have been keeping the blog current on my Facebook Fan Page and Twitter.
I am now accepting topic suggestions and your questions on relationships or issues to make the blog more interactive. If there is a subject or idea you would like explored, just post it as a comment directly on the blog, which can be found be on the bottom right-hand side of each column. I would love to hear from each and every one of you. Please pass this along to your friends!