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Stars: a Song by Fiona ER Canfield

Recorded the vocal for this about 2012, when Fiona was 6 or 7. It’s taken all these years to learn enough about music and have the equipment to put it to music.

I was astonished to discover that other than a few flat notes, she’s singing perfectly in the key of F. This is worth investigating. I wasn’t aware a small child could, a capella, sing exactly in key. (I adjusted the final note because she was precisely two semitones flat; I suspect that was voice control, not pitch awareness. Also she was 6.)

Maybe children are more musical than I’m aware. Maybe I have an overdeveloped proud father muscle. Maybe I just love my little girl and music and when they come together, why wouldn’t it be perfect?

Stars
Fiona ER Canfield

If the stars could talk
What would they say?
Would they say those words to you?
If the wind could tell secrets
Would it share them with you?
Would you protect them with all of your strength?

If the sun could make you smile
Would its smiles be for you?
Would your eyes have protection from the rays?
If the moon could give you dreams
Would they be happy?
Would the dreams be for you?

Good night for now
And when we wake up
We’ll have dreams of the things that I said
And when we meet again we’ll discover
That the dreams have come true


Crummy Cake Communication

Country folk have odd recipes, but we always eat good.

My mom had two cakes she introduced us to when I was a kid. She called them Mayonnaise Cake and Tomato Soup Cake.

Yeah, that’s how we reacted, too. Allow me to expand: the mayonnaise is used as a substitute for eggs and oil in a chocolate cake with coffee in the batter. A thick, dense, moist explosion of coffee-chocolate flavor. Frosting would be pointless. Vanilla ice cream works. We’d stir them together, unknowingly creating a cookies and cream experience 30 years before anyone was selling it.

My father was most precise in his speech. It was from him that I learned to look for the right word, the difference, for instance, between “loping” and “trotting” or “thinking” and “pondering” and such shades of meaning which give depth and clarity to our communication.

(That’s called “setup” so you’ll wonder, as I relate this, where it comes into play.)

Continue reading “Crummy Cake Communication”


How Not to Hit Your Child With a Sledgehammer

Railroad ties make a good retaining wall. Heavy and thick, they’re impregnated with creosote so they’re nearly rot-proof. Peg them together with 3/8″ rebar and they’ll be there 20 years later (according to this picture. Neighborhood has sure run down since I lived there.)

The process is to lay down the first layer of ties, drill holes where the pins will go through, lay down the next layer, drill, and repeat. Somehow, I kept performing the miracle of drilling the holes exactly where they needed to be. Stupid confidence sometimes turns into wild good luck.

I’d finished the fronts of the walls, tied into the sides next to the steps. I do not remember why (trauma, perhaps) but as I neared the end, I asked my teenage son Tristan to come help.

“Here, hold this,” I said, with a 3-foot chunk of rebar placed in the top of the hole in the railroad tie.

Continue reading “How Not to Hit Your Child With a Sledgehammer”




Do One Thing

waterfallDrip. Drip. Drip.

Water wears away stone by constancy, not power, not volume.

Marketing with a long vision will serve you better than looking for short-term sales.

Every day, do one thing to market yourself as an author, or to learn more about successful marketing. Here are 20 ideas to get you started: Continue reading “Do One Thing”


The Real Reason I Do This

Here are a few things I believe about being an author in 2013:

  • It’s a great time to be an artist
  • It’s a tough time to sell art
  • Reading is a fundamental human activity; even reading for pleasure
  • Yes, we need more books
  • And more authors
  • And more music and art of all kinds
  • Gatekeepers serve no purpose in the world of art
  • Selling art is still a business
  • We have more tools than we can use, for writing, marketing, reading, sharing
  • Literature is not an endangered species
  • Nor are readers
  • Or writers
  • Or print
  • Money comes second, or third; writing comes first
  • Some people don’t believe that, but I don’t think it’s just my opinion, I think it’s a fact
  • Nobody writes without fear
  • Emotional fears do far more damage than good
  • I hold back far more than you think I do
  • Helping authors is more important to me than money
  • I’d still love to have plenty of money and so would you

That’s the short version of the list.

And none of that is why I do what I do.

Continue reading “The Real Reason I Do This”


Why Children’s Books Aren’t as Easy as You Think

A novel is somewhere near 100,000 words. The Cat in the Hat was 1,629.

Who wouldn’t choose to finish 98.4% sooner?

Many authors have pointed out that shorter does not equal easier.

Anyone with small children can tell you that “young” does not equal “unsophisticated consumers of mental pabulum.” Or ask the producers of Sesame Street. Keeping a child’s attention is difficult under the best circumstances.

I’ve read children’s books which assumed that making up meaningless words and rhyming while hammering home a moral lesson equaled Dr. Seuss.

Here’s what the good doctor did which makes his work unique:
Continue reading “Why Children’s Books Aren’t as Easy as You Think”