Friday, February 15, 2013

Getting Me Some Style

I had a childhood friend that took piano lessons. One afternoon, we had baseball practice after his lesson, so he asked me to come with him. His teacher met us at the door and sat me in I in an ancient wooden chair that creaked when I sat down.
The teacher was a prim woman in her early sixties. She had grey hair to her waist, but she rolled it up in a bun, the size of a softball, on the back of her head. Although she was the same age that I am now, she looked ancient at the time.
I thought I wanted to take piano lessons, until I realized that whenever he missed a note, the piano teacher would lean over and whack him on the fingers with a conductor's baton which looked like a long chopstick. She wasn't a mean woman, but she was serious about her teaching and thought the whacking improved focus and maintained concentration while he played.
For some reason I thought of that teacher tonight. My story gets a little convoluted, but bear with me. I'm still in the process of refining the format of my first book Remembering Big to make it available for the eBook content providers other than Amazon. Each, it seems, have different requirements. 
I picked up some tips this week when I watched an APE ~ How To Write a Book presentation. The panelists were critiquing other self-published authors. They evaluated Google + profiles, the author blogs, their website, their social media presence, their book covers and content.
The panelists pointed out, time and again, stylistic faux pas the authors made in their books. So I broke down and bought a Chicago Manual of Style tonight.
As I read through you should do this, and you shouldn't do that, I could almost feel my friends piano teacher looking over my shoulder, standing ready to whack my fingers if I used indentation, or italics incorrectly. "No, No, No mister Watson," I could hear her chide. "You must ALWAYS put the period INSIDE the quotation marks."
I must say that little lady couldn't have left a more lasting image on my brain if she'd scratched it out with a rusty nail.
My friend still has a deep fear of pianos and twitches involuntarily whenever he hears chopsticks playing on a piano.
But if I want the best book I can get, I'm going to have put on my big-boy boxers and get me some style.


  1. Geez, I'm still stuck on the finger whacking. I have to say that I took piano for years - had some of the best teachers (all of them serious) and played in front of judges, and not once did I get my fingers whacked. I think the worst thing that happened was the time I slacked off on the practice and I forgot my piece in the middle during the Christmas recital. Terrible.
    But back to you... you have a wonderful, natural style of writing. THAT you can't teach. The rest is polish and you'll get 'er done, I have every confidence. I imagine it's nerve wracking second guessing yourself constantly, though.

  2. Just keep the whacking across fingers to metaphor and not literally! LOL!! All the best making your book all sparkly shiny pristine and wonderful!! Take care

  3. Hi Rick... I enjoyed your post... reminds me of how powerful our memories are and how they can come up from nowhere at times. I am your newest follower as well :)

    Thank you for the follow on my blog

  4. Anonymous6:58 AM

    oh, that's funny! I have heard the expression "big girl panties" but "never big boy boxers", I don't blame the poor fellow for twitching every time he hears the music or is around chop sticks!

  5. Wow and here I thought the finger-whacking was merely an urban legend. Also, kudos on "big boy boxers"...hadn't heard that one before :)

  6. I took piano lessons from the time I was eight till I was 18 and would have majored in music if some idiots hadn't talked me out of it. No one ever smacked my fingers. Perhaps it was because of the sign my mom hung around my neck that said "she bitez." Mother's spelling left a lot to be desired. You and your big boy boxers will get all the little stylistic details, and if you don't, so what? I've seen lots of other people get them wrong and they didn't get hit with anything.


  7. A little bit of sterness can do no harm but to much can kill the passion in learning something.
    Good post Rick! I really like your articles.

  8. I hope the book is worth it's weight in gold! The further I get from my training the more mistakes (misteaks-hahaha) I make. I thought at first you were talking about new stylng some new boxers!;>) Diana


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