Lovely Review of Living by Ear from Jersey Girl Book Reviews

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Many thanks to Kathleen at Jersey Girl Book Reviews for her terrific review of Living by Ear.  You can read it here.


Also, this is the final day to enter the contest for a paperback copy of Living by Ear, so if you haven’t entered yet, please do! The contest ends at midnight tonight. (Monday, November 17, 2014)

Here’s the link: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks, all!!

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Where is the Love? #PopSongsAboutLove

panasonic radioAs a tween/young teen in the 1970’s, I was a pop-aholic. I guess it all started around ’72. I turned eight that year, and for Christmas, I got my very own Panasonic ball-shaped radio that looked exactly like the one on the left. What more could a kid want? Suddenly, I could listen to AM radio any time, anywhere at all.

Most of the time, that was in my bedroom. And since I lived in suburban Massachusetts, there was only one radio station that mattered: WRKO in Boston, which played Top 40 music. (RIP, Dale Dorman, legendary Boston DJ.) Of course, I didn’t love every song on that station, but I’d listen to it all, patiently waiting for my favorites to come on. Then, when one of them did, it would feel like a victory. I remember sitting on my bed with a notebook, writing down the lyrics to the songs I loved as they played, because I wasn’t sure when I’d hear them again.

Yes, it was all about the lyrics. Sure, the melodies were infectious, but the words were so much more important. I wanted to know them so I could sing along, think about them, imagine what the singer was thinking as he or she sang them. At the time, I had no idea why, but as an adult, it’s clear to me that I was drawn to lyrics because almost every top 40 song in the 70s was about love, or dating, or relationships of some kind. In one way or another, those songs taught me that romantic love involved deep, complicated feelings.

Some of the songs I remember liking best as an elementary/middle/ young high school kid were Tony Orlando and Dawn’s Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree, about a guy coming home after being in jail for three years (for robbery) and wondering if his girlfriend still loves him; Jim Croce’s Time in a Bottle; Diana Ross’s Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To?) about the heartache of lost love; The Captain and Tenille’s Love Will Keep Us Together; Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together; The Manhattans’ Kiss and Say Goodbye, in which the singer tearfully explains to his girlfriend why they have to break up (presumably, one or both of them is married, but it’s still terribly difficult); Barbra Streisand’s The Way We Were; Barry Manilow’s Mandy, another ballad of lost love; We’ve Only Just Begun by the Carpenters; and Shannon by Henry Gross, about a beloved lost dog. And while all of these songs are about relationships, not one of them is about the importance of physical beauty. They’re all about emotional connections.

Now shortly after I got into high school, I became introduced to a new thing called FM radio, and new stations that played rock & roll. And sure, the songs on FM were about lots of things besides love. But I didn’t discover FM until I was fourteen or fifteen. At that point, I rejected pop and refused to listen to that “cheesy crap” any more. But the pop years were my formative years, and I feel certain that hearing all those sweet songs about true love made a huge impact on my ultimate goals in life. I went through some rough times in my teens and twenties–and was in some pretty bad relationships–but I never lost sight of my desire to be with someone who loved me the way Jim Croce loved the woman he sang to in Time in a Bottle. I knew there was someone out there that I’d love even if he went to jail for three years, like the guy in Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree. And because of that faith, I found him.

That’s why the current state of pop music bothers me so much. Because kids—elementary and middle-school kids—listen to pop. Not all of them–of course there are exceptions—but pop tends to be the music that gets played at school dances, shopping malls, bowling alleys, sporting events, and other places kids frequent. Remember listening to Casey Kasem’s American Top 40?  Well Ryan Seacrest is in charge of that operation today, and kids still love to listen to it. But as the mother of an eighth grader, I’m often dismayed when she and her friends get in the car and turn it on.

Why? Well not only because most of the songs are about sex in one form or another, but also because of the huge emphasis most of the songs place on physical appearance. Yes, there are some artists (John Legend, Sam Smith, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, to name a few) who are still able to get airplay for sincere songs about love and relationships, but the main focus of most Top 40 songs these days seems to be on booty, breasts, legs, lips, body parts that people want to touch, body parts that people aren’t allowed to touch, drinking, partying, and sex (with no talk of love). And before you call me a cranky old lady, have a listen for yourself.

I’m not a prude and I don’t believe in censorship for artists, except in extreme situations. But I can’t understand why pop—fun, pure, pop—has become so body-focused. More importantly, how are these messages affecting our kids? What do they think when they sing along with “Talk Dirty to Me”, “Anaconda”, “Bang Bang”, and “Chandelier?” Is it possible for them to still believe in the existence of true love, or do they think sex, looking hot, drinking, and having the right kind of booty are more critical?

A few years back, Adele was all over pop radio—and she offered some real hope—but even she seems to be gone from the airwaves these days. One of my daughter’s friends recently asked me who Aretha Franklin was, and my heart sank.

I want to believe though. I want to believe there are artists out there–on pop radio–who have their hearts in the right place. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post titled “Are Lyrics Dead in Pop Music?” and it got a good deal of feedback. People wrote to tell me about the amazing lyrics in contemporary rap, indie, alternative, and country music. And I’d never dispute that. There are some incredibly gifted artists writing in those musical genres. But most middle school kids aren’t listening to that stuff. Most of them are listening to pop, and I really wish more pop artists would sing songs that feature lyrics about relationships that go deeper than physical attraction and one-night-stands.

Do you know of any such artists and/or songs? If so, please let me know. Feel free to comment on this post, or, of you prefer to use Twitter, please consider using the hashtag #PopMusicAboutLove. Here are a few songs I’ve heard that I think are in that category, and I’m going to tweet them.

John Legend–All of Me

Taylor Swift –Love Story

Ed Sheeran–Afire Love

Sam Smith–Not in that Way

Thank you for reading, and again, I welcome any and all feedback!



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Great Review of Living by Ear–Blog Tour, Day 4, Plus #BookGiveaway

mike_lbeI’m so grateful to Emma at Writer in a Wheelchair for her wonderful review of Living by Ear. It’s so nice that I don’t even want to post an excerpt, but you can read the entire review here. 

Thank you so much, Emma!

And to anyone interested in winning a signed paperback copy of Living by Ear, just enter this

Rafflecopter giveaway!

Thanks for reading!!

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Days 2 & 3 of Living by Ear Blog Tour

mike_lbeThe Living by Ear blog tour went on a brief hiatus yesterday, but today it’s back with extra power!

Instead of one blog review, there are two: one from Two Children and a Migraine, and one from Storm Goddess Book Reviews! Please go check them out of you have a moment.

Also, don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! Just click on the link to learn how you can enter to win a signed paperback copy of Living by Ear.

Here’s the full blog tour schedule. 

November 10 – 4.5 star review from Chick Lit Plus!

November 11 –Great review from Two Children and a Migraine

November 12 –  4 Lightning Bolts from Storm Goddess Book Reviews!

November 13 – Writer in a Wheelchair

November 14 – Authors and Readers Book Corner

November 17 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews



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Blog Tour for Living by Ear! Plus Rafflecopter Giveaway

mike_lbeDear Readers,

This is a big day for me, as it’s launch day for the Living by Ear blog tour. A whole bunch of wonderful bloggers have been kind enough to read and review the novel, and they’ll be posting their honest reviews of it from November 11-November 17. I’m a little nervous, but also excited. The company running the tour is called CLP Blog Tours, and they’ve done a terrific job getting everything set up.

Here’s the full tour schedule. Each day this week–and next Monday too!–I’ll be linking to the blog that reviews Living by Ear.

November 10 – 4.5 star review from Chick Lit Plus!

November 11 – Two Children and a Migraine

November 12 – Storm Goddess Book Reviews

November 13 – Writer in a Wheelchair

November 14 – Authors and Readers Book Corner

November 17 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews

And to make things even more fun, I’ve set up

a Rafflecopter giveaway!

Just click on the link to learn how you can enter to win a signed paperback copy of Living by Ear. Best of luck to all!

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Author Mary Rowen talks turning 50 as the Age is Just a Number blog series continues

Originally posted on :

Thank you, Mary Rowen, for joining the Age is Just a Number blog series. Mary is the author ofLiving by Ear and today she shares her thoughts on turning 50. Her comments regarding the randomness of life really does drive home the point that age isn’t everything.

On Turning Fifty

When I think of fifty, the first thing that comes to mind is Molly Shannon as Sally O’Malley on SNL, kicking and stretching. When I first saw that skit, I laughed hysterically. It seemed reasonable at the time—I was in my thirties—to assume that women start to lose it a bit when they hit the big 5-0.

But now that I’m here, I don’t spend much time telling people about my age, or kicking and stretching either, for that matter. And honestly, I like myself a lot more at fifty than I did thirty years ago.

If that sounds crazy…

View original 861 more words

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A Super Cool Book Review for Living by Ear

bumbershoot-buskingHi Readers,

As Living by Ear–the new edition, published by Booktrope in September 2014–gets ready to go on a blog tour next week (November 10-November 17, 2014), I thought this might be an appropriate time to revisit one of the coolest reviews it got when it was self published in 2013. The reviewer is the amazing Glenda Bixler from the blog Book Reader’s Heaven, and when this review came out in May of 2013, all I could say was, “Wow!”

Enjoy Glenda’s review here.

Please note, however, that Living by Ear now has a brand new cover and high-res cover LBEthe link to buy it is different as well. If you’re interested in checking out the new version, you can find it here on Amazon. I’m getting excited about the book tour next week! Will publish the complete schedule tomorrow.

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