Scenes from a novel…

The following photos capture locales in Boston that serve as settings for my newest novel, “Only Love Can Break Your Leg”.

If you’ve read it, I hope you enjoy the background. If you haven’t, maybe this will pique your interest. Enjoy.

A Playlist for “Only Love Can Break Your Leg”

Some readers of my new book, “Only Love Can Break Your Leg“, might have noticed that there is a theme for the chapter titles. Most* are based on titles of songs by renowned Boston area recording artists. Here I humbly present you a playlist drawn from those titles to inspire your reading of the book. (I beg your indulgence for shamelessly citing my personal connections to some of these.)

  • When Things Go Wrong – Robin Lane and the Chartbusters (Ms. Lane is a local legend. I once had the privilege of meeting her and checking her daughter into the children’s Sunday School class I was leading at the time.)
  • Same Old Song and Dance – Aerosmith, Boston’s original bad boys, from their second LP
  • Love Stinks – J. Geils Band (Mr. Geils himself briefly attended my almost mater, WPI.)
  • Freeze Frame – J. Geils Band
  • City Lights – Livingston Taylor (This is a little known gem by an underappreciated Taylor; his brother James sings harmony on the song.)
  • Just What I Needed – The Cars (They hit it big while I worked for WEA, the parent company for their label, Elektra. I worked with the wife of one of the band members, who attended my wedding. I actually got a ride home in the couple’s car, which was THE car from the album.)
  • My Best Friend’s Girl – The Cars
  • Dream On – Aerosmith’s breakout hit from their eponymous first album
  • Roadrunner – Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers (This song, like the band, was decades ahead of its time. Members of the band went on to play for The Cars and The Talking Heads. I used the band name, not the song, in a chapter title.)
  • Dirty Water – The Standells (This is a classic one hit wonder… but what a hit!)
  • Musta Got Lost – J. Geils Band
  • I’m Shipping Up to Boston – Dropkick Murphys, featured in the Academy Awards’ Best Picture and Boston-filmed “The Departed”
  • Rocky Mountain High† – John Denver
  • More than a Feeling – Boston (The ultimate air guitar anthem. While I was working for another record label, the now defunct ABC/Dunhill, one of the salesmen brought in Boston’s demo tape. We rocked to it for weeks. Unfortunately, the label didn’t sign them. The album—eventually released on Columbia—went on to become the biggest selling debut LP ever.)
  • Let the Good Times Roll – The Cars
  • Happy Together – The Turtles (This song wasn’t drawn from a chapter name. The book contains a scene at an “oldies” concert, i.e. a concert for people like me. In my first rendition of the story, that was the artist playing. The story’s original name was a paraphrase plucked from the song: “Me for You”. I still like the ambiguity of that name but it was too close to the name of a book and movie released around the same time.)
  • “Big Night” soundtrack – To enhance your appreciation for the North End setting of some of the book, the sumptuous soundtrack to this magnificent movie—the greatest foodie movie ever—is highly recommended.

And, of course, I’d be remiss if I neglected the twin songs that inspired the current book title:

Rock on! And read on!


* It wasn’t practical to name all the chapters after local songs. It would have required either extensive research involving even less well known songs or changing the content of the chapters. Neither prospect appealed to me.

† Okay, so it has no connection to Boston. But I did I use it in a chapter title. Besides, I like the song. 🙂

New book: “Only Love Can Break Your Leg”

(Apologies to Gene Pitney and Neil Young.)

My new book has just been released on Amazon. You can find the paperback here and the Kindle version here.

This novel is a straightforward romantic comedy. Don’t expect any messages, life lessons, or philosophy. Instead, I hope you find romance along with a few laughs… all accompanied by a series of minor mishaps by our protagonist. This was intended to be light summer reading but it was delayed. However, summer is not over as I write this so there’s still time to sit on a beach (maybe in a sweater 🙂 ) and get lost in someone else’s romantic misadventures.

Who couldn’t use that these days?

In Memoriam: Frederick Buechner

(JUL. 11, 1926 – AUG. 15, 2022)

This world has lost a giant. A giant of writing, a giant of speaking, a giant of faith. Frederick Buechner was a teacher and a preacher, a memoirist and a novelist, a wit and an intellectual, a man of God and what Mark Heard might have called a “profane saint”. There isn’t enough room here to list all his honors, never mind his prolific written output. (You can read his Wikipedia page for that.) It’s enough for me to say that his writing changed my life. I’ve never read anyone who was more honest, more challenging, more comforting, and more eloquent while doing all that.

Pulitzer prize winner Annie Dillard called him “one of our finest writers.” She’s absolutely right, but that’s just part of the story. His authenticity about his struggles with life and faith and God set him apart from other writers, thinkers, and theologians. He was a modern-day Jacob, wrestling with God but sharing the experience with anyone who was wise enough to listen.

The great thing about the written word is that it survives long after the scribe is gone. Mr. Buechner’s words were no “scribbling in the sand.” They will be set in stone and read by many for as long as time endures because we will always need them. I commend those words to everyone’s attention.

I trust that upon his passing, he heard the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Opportunities for me and you…

Maybe because spring is a time of new beginnings, this time of year presents loads of opportunities of so many types. Here is my list of opportunities for you to give and receive in the coming days.

For the month of March, Old Mill House Coffee in Chelmsford, MA, is celebrating Read Across America Month 2022 with “Blind Date with a Book”. Stop by and choose a genre to a get gift-wrapped copy of one of the many books by local authors. Maybe you’ll get one of my seven books!

Which book will surprise you?

That’s not the only event at Old Mill House Coffee this month featuring local authors. To celebrate International Writers Day (which was actually on March 3; better late than never) they will hold “Speed Dating with a Book”. On March 27, you can read snippets of a series of books and decide which one you want to spend more time with.

For more information or to register, click here or on the image to the left.


A new documentary about Multiple Sclerosis will premiere at the Chelmsford Center for the Arts on April 2, 2022 at 2:00 PM. (2’s are wild! 🙂 ) The film is called Who Is MS? It’s a profile of people living with MS and thriving in spite of the obstacles the disease throws at them. If you have MS or know someone who does or you simply want to increase your awareness of this devastating condition (after all, March is MS Awareness Month) this movie is a must see. Come to learn, come to be inspired.

Tickets are free but seats must be reserved in advance.

For complete details and to view the trailer, click here or on the image to the right.

Or reserve seats now by emailing:

whoisms.movie@gmail.com


Last opportunity: Support the fight against MS.

A group of cyclists, some with multiple sclerosis, will participate in a fundraiser on Martha’s Vineyard to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. We call ourselves the Vineyard Square Wheelers for two reasons. First, living with MS is like trying to ride a bike on square wheels – it’s possible but it ain’t easy. Second, our sponsors are the good people at Vineyard Square Hotel and Suites.

To support our team, click here or on the image to the left to reach our donor site. You can support the whole team or individual riders.

Thank you for your consideration.

Quick opportunity announcements!

There are two opportunities coming up imminently that I want to share:

100th Anniversary Celebration!

My paternal grandparents, whose story inspired my novel “A Song in the Storm”, were married on September 11, 1921. We’ll be celebrating the 100th anniversary of their marriage with anyone who wants to join us at the Old Mill Coffee House in Chelmsford, MA, from 1-3 PM.

We’ll have a cake to share and delicious coffee (or so I’m told; I don’t drink the stuff 🙂 ) and baked goods will be for sale in the shop, as will their usual assortment of excellent locally made products. Do I need to say that copies of my books will also be available for sale?

Support the battle to destroy MS before it destroys anyone else!

On Saturday, September 18, I’ll be doing my annual fundraising bike ride to fight the scourge of multiple sclerosis. If you’d like to support me or my team in this effort, click on one of these links:

Support Rick

Support The Vineyard Square Wheelers

As you’ll see on the web site, this ride, normally held on Martha’s Vineyard in the spring, will be in Concord, MA, because of Covid.

Covid or not, MS continues to ravage lives, so we don’t take the year off. Please consider sponsoring us as we ride to destroy this destroyer of lives.

FAQs

(Any web site worth its salt has an FAQs page. Mine has never done so. That could be an inhibitor to its growth from a platform for a curmudgeon trying to unload his lame scribbling to a viral social media giant.

Or not.)

  • Why do you bother with this blog after seven years of almost complete reader indifference?

A fair question, one I’ve wrestled with many times. The most obvious is ego. Having a blog allows me to pretend I have something of import to say, when it’s highly doubtful I do. That’s a self-defeating concept since, as you so clearly and painfully point out, no one appears to be reading it. Ouch! (Thank you for not noting my other blog, “Limping in the Light”, which experienced a similar lack of impact for 10 years. Oh my.)

Another, more reasonable excuse is the desire to sell books. I have seven out there as of this typing (2021) with one more in the works. There’s an infinitesimal but non-zero chance that Oprah will happen on this site and discover that my novel about Haiti, “A Slippery Land”, is perfect for her book club… which it is.

Finally, I just like writing. It’s enjoyable and it’s therapeutic.

  • Have you read the new Andy Weir book, “Project Hail Mary”?

Yes, and it’s great. Similar to “The Martian” in both style and entertainment value. Highly recommended.

  • Can I borrow ten bucks?

No.

  • What’s the deal with that guy in the commercial who points at all your junk and it just goes away?

Nothing is more annoying to me. Our stuff doesn’t just “go away”. There is no “away”. Living under that delusion has brought this world to the predicament it’s in today.

  • How many Frenchmen can’t be wrong?

Last I checked, it was 1,000,000. That might have changed.

  • Is it true that Dick van Dyke was originally cast as the lead in the old movie, “The Omen”?

That’s what I heard. It would be a very different movie with him instead of Gregory Peck, don’t you think? It might have been a musical.

  • Why do people say “dial the phone” when there hasn’t been a dial on a phone in decades?

The same reason my father used to tell us to turn off the gas on the electric stove.

  • How about five bucks?

Okay.

  • Why do motorcycles make so much noise their riders can’t hear themselves think?

They aren’t missing anything.

  • Then they turn up their music above the sound of the bike?

Go figure.

  • Is my call important to you?

Yes, and it will be recorded for customer satisfaction purposes.

  • Where can I get your awesome books?

On Amazon or from me directly.

  • What do you want to be when you grow up?

I have no intention of growing up.

  • What’s the meaning of life?

The Westminster Catechism says “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever.” That works for me.

  • Who are your favorite actors?

For some reason, my favorite actors tend to be more commonly in supporting roles as opposed to carrying a movie. Among those that come to mind at the moment are Stanley Tucci, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Bill Cobbs, Steve Zahn, Michael Pena, and a bunch more I can’t think of right now. I appreciate people like these folks who (1) are humble enough to take smaller roles, (2) flexible enough to play anything from drama to OTT humor, and (3) make every movie they’re in better.

  • Have you heard the one about the…

Yes.

  • What does “clockwise” mean?

You were born after 2000, weren’t you?

  • $7.50?

Give it a rest!


(Let me know if you have any more questions you need answered.)

An ode to the bookmark

I’ve said it many times before: arguing the merits of hard copy books versus e-books is pointless and futile. It’s a religious argument no one will win. It makes as much sense as trying to change someone’s mind in an internet discussion. It has never happened in the history of the universe and is unlikely to in the future.

This question is simply a matter of taste that I wrote about a while back HERE. Each format has significant advantages. Each solves some problems and introduces others. (A perfect illustration of “Rick’s Law of Conservation of Woes“.) Your opinion on the matter will depend largely on how you prioritize those different factors.

One indisputable fact, however, is that the e-book (or Ebook or eBook or E-book or e-Book – another religious argument) spells the inevitable, sad demise of the beloved bookmark. The honest truth is that no one really needs a book mark. Tear off the end of an empty envelope or extra note paper and, Voila!, you have a bookmark. But this isn’t about practicality. Bookmarks, I maintain, are an art form in and of themselves, the perfect compliment to a work of literature.

As I write, there are a couple dozen examples ensconced in my nightstand drawer, in addition to several currently stuck in books I’m reading or otherwise referencing. They range from simple, unpretentious but sentimentally valuable ones my children made when they were actually children to a delicate filigree golden leaf suspended from a purple ribbon. The others are all over the place: charitable groups and businesses (especially bookstores) I support, gifts from friends and family, mementos of places I’ve been.

Some are simple cardboard, laminated or not. A couple are fabric: one a handmade article I bought in Haiti, another adorned with an inspirational scripture verse. One is a leather keepsake from a friend’s wedding. (The couple is still happily married. Good books inspire good relationships.)

I’ve probably used 10% of the bookmarks I have, but I can’t bear to throw any out. Their value goes way beyond their utility. I’ll probably keep collecting them as long as I breathe.

What can I say? I like bookmarks.


[I could go on about this topic, but felt the need cut it short so I could get something onto the blog ASAP. It’s been four months since the last entry. I have good reasons for such a long gap. I’ve been working on a documentary, writing two books, and making a video for a friend. I’ll try to do better in the future, if I ever finish any of those other projects.]

The Endless Cycle is complete!

(Is that a contradiction of terms?)

Endgame…

…the final book in my series for middle grade readers, “The Endless Cycle”, is currently available. And it was delivered on schedule! (Probably a first for me after a long career in software development.)

This installment concludes the story of the cycling, baseball-playing, mystery boy who has spent the past month trying to figure out who he is, where he came from, and how to get back. When he does find his home and family, everything is wrong. Just as he had to help people on the road, he has to save his family at home.

But will he be in time to rescue them?

The four-book series, along with my other three books, is available now on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats. Visit my author page to see them all.


I promise to write actual blog posts occasionally now, rather than this obsessive self-promotion that has occupied this blog for so long.

But don’t hold me to that.

[Note that the title of this book was decided on long before a certain comic book company released their latest bombastic exercise in cinematic junk food. No legal action will be take on my part.]