Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 8

February 25th, 2019

 

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William Burroughs

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…..On March 11, 2019, .Jerry Jazz Musician .will publish the 50th .winning story in our thrice-yearly Short Fiction Contest. To celebrate this landmark event, we have asked all the previous winners (dating to 2002) to reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

…..Beginning on January 7 – and on every Monday through March 4 – we will publish five or six profiles of participating authors, along with their winning story.

…..For this feature, authors were provided with a list of the following questions as a guideline for creating their profile:

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What do you remember about your winning story?

Did winning this contest impact your writing career? 

What did the publication of your story mean to you?

Are you still writing?

What are five books you have recently read that you would recommend to others?

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…..Many writers responded in a short essay, and others did so via a “question and answer” format.

…..These profiles are an entertaining, enlightening, and at times emotional look at the stimulating, rewarding process of creative writing, and the people whose work has made important contributions to this publication over the years.  Many thanks to everyone who took the time to so thoughtfully participate.

…..I would also like to thank everyone who has thought enough of this publication to submit their work for consideration.  In 49 contests spread out over 16 years, we have chosen 46 winners from over 7,000 stories submitted — a stark reminder of the challenges of this art form.

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This week’s edition covers authors of winning stories #’s 39 – 44

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To read the edition for winning stories #’s 1 – 6, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 7-11, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 12 – 16, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 17 – 23, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #24 – 28, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 29 – 34, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 35 – 38, click here

 To read the edition for winning stories #’s 45 – 49, click here

 

 

 

 

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John Hyde Barnard

Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest #39

“The Lot”

Published July, 2015

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Mr. Barnard responds in Q and A format

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Q. Did winning this contest impact your writing career?

A. As to Jerry Jazz Musician .selecting my short story, “The Lot” as the Short Fiction Contest-winning story #39, I am greatly appreciative and humble.This recognition has been a positive reinforcement and a catalyst for my writing.

 

Q. Are you still writing?

A.. I am still writing, and presently involved in the editing process of a book I have completed that involves a moment in our nation’s history (The United States) that makes today’s present divisiveness seem a bit tame, comparatively speaking. I am a great procrastinator who relies on deadlines to find accomplishment. However, once committed, hours fall away like the leaves on a fall tree. It is a fine way to while away, (or ‘wile away’ as it seems a trick to do something that I have avoided) the time.

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Q. What do you remember about your winning story?

A. The one key factor about writing “The Lot” was the desire to have the story be like a song, in that it works ever time it is read and flows like honey. And once one arrives at the end, it must create a pause and a brief longing that refuses too accept that it is the end. When you feel that you have accomplished that fete, then you can accept that you have entertained.

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Q.  What did the publication of your story mean to you?

A. Everything. Any ‘tip ‘o the hat’ or recognition and acceptance is a huge boost to one’s confidence. The fact that “The Lot”  was chosen, let alone considered, as a winner in the short story contest adds a distinction of legitimacy. Invaluable. It is a writer’s applause.

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Q. What are five books you have recently read that you would recommend to others?

A.  Exiles of Florida, by Joshua R Giddings

Prosser and Keeton On Torts Fifth Edition, W. Page Keeton General Editor

Hotel Of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford

Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens

Popular & Jazz Harmony, by Daniel A. Ricigliano

Fear, by Bob Woodward

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My biography:

I was raised in idyllic settings, sixty miles south of Buffalo, New York. A fortunate place to grow up. I experienced the subtle nuances of each season and was allowed a naive freedom to develop my music and dreams. As a kid I would sit high up in an old maple tree and watch the last rays of light from the west streak the evening sky. Eventually, I followed the sun and ended up in California, where I presently reside. The majority of my endeavors have been the playing, performing and learning of music. I have been fortunate to have experienced and played with some of the very best and I still pursue that elusive performance.

The last time I visited the Jerry Jazz Musician .site I watched a 1967 video of Wes Montgomery performing ‘Windy,’ a song made famous by the Association.  Ironically, a few days later, I was part of a band that opened for the Association at a venue in LA.  It seems surrealistic that the community of musicians is so small and connected. Jerry Jazz. provides a vital link in that musical community that connects to a rich musical legacy. The site provides top of the line entertainment, education, literature and is a major depository of our musical culture. I highly recommend an occasional visit to Jerry Jazz Musician. With out a doubt, it has that ‘sumthin, sumthin.’ Ya understand what I’m sayin.

I sincerely thank Joseph Maita and Jerry Jazz Musician .for being and providing a respite from the chaos of life.

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The Lot

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John Hyde Barnard

(Winner...Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest #39.  Published July, 2015)

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…..He brought the cigarette up to his lips. As he took a hit the orange glow briefly lit his face and faded back into shadow as he slowly exhaled a cloud of blue smoke. He crushed the butt on the windowsill, sparks and dying embers leaving a trail that quickly became black and cold. As he flicked the butt into the night air he glanced over the rooftops. It seemed the horizon was a shade lighter. Had he been sitting there that long?

…..Unable to sleep since arriving at the apartment some hours earlier, he sat at the open window: musing, arguing, longing and laughing with his thoughts. He had not discovered an epiphany or revelation, only a comfort with the warm night. It was the first warm night of the season; the unmistakable promise of spring perfumed the air. Cold winter nights had frozen such olfactory reminders from the senses but now those scents were released into the restless night, carrying reminders of memories, places, and expectations.

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(Click here to continue reading the story)

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Jay Franzel

Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician. Short Fiction Contest #40

“The Blues Museum”

Published November, 2015

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I first heard of Jerry Jazz Musician. a few years ago when I saw a post on a writers’ site for their short fiction contest. I checked out the site and found myself reading articles, interviews and poems about musicians, jazz and America. I have not written very many stories—I write mostly poetry—but I had one story I’d written that I thought fit with what I was feeling from reading Jerry Jazz.. I submitted “The Blues Museum,” somewhat surprised that I’d found a place that felt so right for it. I mean, I know it’s not the most exciting story. I second-guessed myself a little because it doesn’t talk at all about jazz but clearly Jerry Jazz . was about so much more than jazz in the narrow sense. (In fact, leading off the site today is a quote from recently passed, baseball Hall of Famer Willie McCovey.) That kind of second guessing/self-doubt comes easily to me, so when “The Blues Museum” was accepted it meant a lot to me. It meant somebody out there thought that what I had to say—even in prose—was worth listening to. When I looked at the post on Jerry Jazz and saw the great picture of a guy walking past the windows of a Greyhound station, I knew I had come to the right place. That picture could have been right out of the story, a story I felt compelled to tell and appreciate people reading.

I’ve recently retired, so I plan to devote more time to writing now. (Another way of saying I’ve lost my best excuse for not writing more.) Recently I sent out a batch of poems to various places. As I considered where to send them, I took the two that related to music and sent them to Joe at Jerry Jazz, which gave me a really nice feeling: When I read things on Jerry Jazz, I feel like I’m part of a community. Many poets I know have written fine poems about music—I have told them about this site.

I’m a slow reader but would like to mention a few books I’ve read recently in case anyone is interested: First, Legends of the Slow Explosion by Baron Wormser. This is a collection of poetic/meditative/probing and imaginative essays on about a dozen diverse people from the mid 20th Century. It includes pieces on Miles Davis, Anita O’Day and George Harrison. Wormer is a master of poetry, essays, memoir and story. Second is The Overstory, a novel by Richard Powers. This is a big novel that intensely brings a group of diverse characters to life. They are thrown together (or summoned) by the real central character of the book—trees. And finally, The Plot Against America by Philip Roth. Though fiction, it’s also a touching memoir embedded in an imaginative rewrite of U.S. History. All three of these books are not only the work of master-craftsmen, but also weirdly timely.

 

Bio:

Jay Franzel lives in Wayne, ME. He is one of the organizers of the poetry/music series at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell, Maine. He has published poems in various journals, newspapers and anthologies along with two chapbooks and has received poetry grants from The Maine Arts Commission and St. Botolph Foundation. He is recently retired after working with at-risk youth for 33 years. He enjoys stopping at a good diner for breakfast on the way to the White Mountains and setting out an extra cup of coffee for Jack Kerouac.

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The Blues Museum

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Jay Fransel

(Winner...Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest #40.  Published November, 2015)

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…..Camp looked through glass doors and across the shoulderless highway. A patch of grass across the road was covered with white trailers washed clean by the rain. He stared out a side window at the brown back of a gas station. A red and yellow sign, mounted so high he had to twist his neck to see it, seemed like it should have been turning but sat still against a gray sky.

…..What do you find in a bus station? Long waits under dirty fluorescents, grimy floor and seats, gloom on scattered faces. Soup, coffee and candy vending machines. If someone could gather it up, all the pieces a bus station’s handed down through the years, you could start a museum. You could cover the walls with black and white photos, pictures of a million people. Pick out any one person, nobody special, just someone with some place to go, or no place to go.

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(Click here to continue reading the story)

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Ruth Knafo Setton

Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician. Short Fiction Contest #41

“You Blows What it Is”

Published March, 2016

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Blues led me to jazz. And jazz led me to Danny Elmaleh, the protagonist of my story, “You Blows What You Is,” and in the wonderful way of art, led me back to myself.

The first time I heard the blues I was hooked. I’d heard my language, and the fact that it was “One Room Country Shack,” a song written by African-American bluesman, Mercy Dee Walton, and performed by Buddy Guy (that falsetto!), and I was a 14 year-old immigrant girl made no difference. The music sang to me. It sang in me.

Then I heard Louis Armstrong and saw him perform “Dinah,” live in Copenhagen in 1933 in an unforgettable video. The energy, exuberance, and freedom! No wonder the Nazis banned jazz, warning about (in Goebbel’s words): “Negroid excesses in tempo (so-called hot jazz)” and “Jewishly gloomy lyrics.” Jazz was considered too dangerous, too free. I asked myself: What would be more dangerous than a man playing jazz during World War Two?

My answer: A Jew playing jazz during World War Two.

And Danny Elmaleh was born.

Danny, the protagonist of my story, “You Blows What You Is,” is a Jewish boy who grows up during the war and who becomes, against all odds, a jazz trumpeter. His entire life is a fight to be heard and to be free. After the war, he moves with his family to America, or as he calls it, Louisland: “a place where even a Louis Armstrong and a Danny Elmaleh have a voice.” Jazz saves Danny, and even helps him become a better man. He takes Louis Armstrong’s words, “You blows what you is,” to heart.

I learned from Louis too: “You writes what you is” has become a guiding principle.

To research my characters I follow their passions, which has led me to undergo transformative experiences around the world—including being sawed in half by a magician, going on an archaeological dig and learning how to shoot a gun—but none has enriched my life as much as entering the world of jazz. Thanks to Danny, I interviewed trumpeters, including Brian Lynch, Dave Douglas, Bill Warfield, and Marvin Stamm, as well as jazz pianists and vocalists. I read biographies, autobiographies, and jazz theory and criticism. I attended countless jazz rehearsals and performances, and even studied with an incredibly patient trumpeter. At some point I realized I’d gone way beyond research—I was doing this for me.

Jazz is an integral part of my life now. And writing—well, it’s been the driving force of my life since I was 9 years old. I write in order to connect—with myself and with others. Winning the Jerry Jazz Musician. contest was a wonderful affirmation that my story touched readers. I’ve since written a novella about Danny in Morocco and I just finished a screenplay that travels with him and his family to America in the late 50s-early 60s.

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FIVE BOOKS I RECOMMEND: 

Four about music: 

  1. Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans by Louis Armstrong.

His early years, an account as warm and engaging as the man himself.

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  1. Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje.

A lyrical look at the trumpet master, Buddy Bolden, in New Orleans.

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  1. The Blue Moment by Richard Williams.

A fascinating exploration and meditation on the making of Miles Davis’s classic album, Kind of Blue, that will make you want to listen to it again..

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  1. Miles by Miles Davis.

An uncompromising, colorful portrait of a brilliant jazz musician and his era.

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One suspense novel:

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  1. Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke.

A rural noir that explores racism in East Texas, rich with music. You can hear the beat of Texas blues behind the words on the page.

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BIO:

Ruth Knafo Setton is the author of the novel, The Road to Fez, and the recipient of fellowships and awards from the National Endowment of the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, PEN, Writer’s Digest, and many literary journals. Her poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies. She has taught Creative Writing at Lehigh University and on Semester at Sea, and is presently working on three projects: a novel, a poetry collection, and a screenplay. Born in Morocco, she loves to travel in search of the myths and gods that connect us all.

 

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LINKS:

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Website: www.ruthknafosetton.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ruth.setton

Instagram: @rksetton

Twitter: @RuthSetton

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You Blows What You Is

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Ruth Knafo Setton

(Winner...Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest #41.  Published March, 2016)

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…..The port of Casablanca was crammed with Vichy officers, soldiers, cops, thieves and criminals. Each night I slept behind sand dunes, and each morning, washed in the freezing sea and shook myself dry in the winter wind. My shirt and trousers were stiff with salt and stuck to my chest, arms and legs. I figured it would be easy to steal a sweater or coat, grab it off a café chair while its owner ate and drank. But each time I stuck my head inside a restaurant and started weaving between tables, the owner threatened to call the cops.

…..No cops, no officers, no father whipping me, never again. I’d lie low, steal what I needed, and owe no one a damned thing.

…..Ten days after I arrived in Casablanca, a shipload of American sailors docked at the port. They’d come from one battle farther down the coast and were preparing to set sail the day after tomorrow. I shadowed them, trying to be invisible. They smelled like sweet, ripe bananas — someone said they’d sailed in on a banana boat — but that only added to their aura. They were haloed with light, as if they’d walked straight off a movie screen onto the streets of North Africa. They blinked at the desert light and smiled with healthy white teeth at the little dark kids begging them for money (not me, I’d never beg for anything). Their faces shone with truth. They walked as if the earth belonged to them, with confidence and grace. Not furiously stomping with the black boots of the French, or shuffling and sliding with the babouches and flat shoes of the Arabs and Jews. These men walked straight and tall, as if they deserved to feel the sun on their faces, as if they’d never kneeled to anyone in their lives.

…..I made a vow: that’s going to be me one day.

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(Click here to continue reading the story)

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Kevin Bennett

(A recent photo from “America’s Got Talent”)

Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician. Short Fiction Contest #42

“Playing for Tips”

Published July, 2016

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“Playing For Tips” is a short story that’s actually mostly true. When I moved to Colorado in 2008, as a piano player, I thought I might find a hotel where there was a piano in the lobby, ask permission of the staff to play in the background, then set up a tip jar. I was living in Fort Collins at the time, and the commute was about an hour. I figured if, on the weekends, I could make enough to cover gas money, I could make a regular habit of going to the city and playing keys. I found a place right off Sixteenth Street in downtown with a grand piano in the lobby—I don’t remember the name of the hotel now. As in the story, the guy behind the front desk said I’d be fine, then very soon after I started playing, they kicked me off and security escorted me out. I was rather distraught about the whole affair, and very angry. I actually wrote a song called “You Don’t Have To Answer To Me”, which is now available as an “extra” track on my most recent album, “Weather, Local”. This album is available on Spotify, Amazon, YouTube, and anywhere music is digitally purveyed. The story itself wasn’t written until sometime after that, I don’t exactly remember when. I remember it took many years for it to find a publisher, and I was very happy that .Jerry Jazz Musician. chose to use it as a flagship tale—the $100 I was paid was a very pleasant surprise, and a Godsend.

The only place where the story differs from reality is the bar scene, where the protagonist yells “Fuck basketball!” and gets into a brawl. I didn’t do that, but I was in a place where there was a remote control, a basketball game, and a bunch of drunken turkeys who led my mind into a play-by-play of what I would do if I weren’t emotionally stable enough to sit back and play the vision mentally.  So I wrote this pathos into the conclusion of “Playing For Tips” instead. It was cathartic to get on paper what I felt inside, and in terms of career impact, I was reinforced in a conviction that, as a writer, I knew something of what I was about. It was a fine little milestone. I am still writing, but I have written little fiction in the last three years; probably half a dozen stories or so. I have written a 200-page memoir of my first year in a 1978 Dodge Honey traveling across the country, it requires one more edit and then I’ll be circulating it for publication. I also have three novels as yet unpublished; Kingdom Of Dreams, The Origin Of Rip’t Mikchete, and Cigarettes and Worcestershire. If you’re a publisher, or like my style, get in touch with me on these. You can find me on Facebook under “Kevin Bennett” or “French Accent”. You can also find contact details on. my fledgling, under-used website.

Beyond that, I write 3,000+ words a day in terms of professional content. I’m usually writing for between two and five clients every week, and I’ve been blessed with enough regular work of this variety that I can fund my exploits in an RV with my cat on the coast. I also have an article on Ranker.comabout extraterrestrial beings in ancient history. Beyond that, myself and some other individuals in Los Angeles shoot sketches satirizing modern political insanity at .OutrageTV.

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Five novels I’ve read recently that are worth looking into include:

That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis—great book; it’s like the author of Narnia had a window into the future, and our present political insanity.

The Brothers Karamazov .
by Fyodor Dostoevsky—it will teach about how people think, and about God. Additionally, Dostoevsky foresaw the Russian revolution, and tried to warn his people in books like this and Demons, otherwise translated as .The Possessed.. It’s fascinating to see how he anticipated the Communist revolution, and additionally the parallels between the intelligentsia of Russia in the 1860s, and the hippy movement of America’s 1960s. The parallels continue to the present day. In 1918 was Red October, and in 2018, we are ramping up to some similar strangeness; I only hope the putsch can be avoided in our country, as things did not end well for the Soviets.

Malcom. by George MacDonald—this is a modern edit of the book, but still excellent.

SJWs Always Lie .by Vox Day—this book is only available online, and it explains the insanity of modern political ideology, something I’ve dealt with specifically, and in much the same way as the author.

Winter’s Tale .by Mark Helprin—they made a movie of this recently where Will Smith plays the devil (never happened in the book). It’s a very stupid movie. However. The book is downright amazing. You should read it. It has a lot of depth, beauty, and strangeness; I’ve read it twice.

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Bio:

Kevin Bennett is a standup comedian who goes by the name “French Accent”. He has released two novels, .The Thief and the Sacrifice  .(no longer in print) and . Amphibian  .(available on Amazon.com). He also has released two full-length music albums (that aren’t comedic in nature). These include . Between Dystopias  .and . Weather Local. Additionally, he has a comedy album out, but that’s not available online as yet, and purchase requires attendance at a feature or headline event featuring his comedic stylings. Recently . he was on America’s Got Talent,  .and currently he lives in an RV with a cat on the west coast.

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“Piano on Fire” by Vladinsky

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Playing for Tips

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Kevin Bennett

(Winner...Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest #42.  Published July, 2016)

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…..It was a persistent and gentle nudge—always was. He knew who was prodding him and what she would say without turning, so he continued to run his fingers up and down the keys—there was a major seventh followed by a fifth interval; repeat several times, arpeggiate, transpose—

…..“Sir? I’m sorry sir—”

…..The nudging again. He spoke as if distracted—which he was: “Yes?”

…..“Some of the people are trying to work,” she said.

…..“Have them come and talk to me,” he replied, and continued to play.

…..The barista was put-off for a moment, but she jostled him again. “If you could just play a little quieter—”

…..The words were like daggers. They weren’t new, they weren’t original, and they brought hate like bile to his mind and body; coursing in and throughout him like a thousand charioteers, screaming toward the enemy. With calm enforced by a rigid hand, he ended the chord progression, then stood from the bench, looked the barista in the eye, and turned to leave the coffee shop. Applause followed him—there were some two dozen patrons reading various haute literature, sipping over-priced coffees and adjusting same-looking berets. He didn’t look back. He didn’t bow. He didn’t shudder, tremble, or respond in any way beyond a measured and confident gait. But if you saw his face, you’d see his eyes were moist.

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(Click here to continue reading the story)

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Robert Glover

Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician. Short Fiction Contest #43

“Pandora’s Sax”

Published November, 2016

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My short story, “Pandora’s Sax,” was loosely based on the experiences of a high school friend of mine who was returning to music after a long hiatus at playing adult.  The story had already been a top ten finisher in the Austin Chronicle’s twenty-fourth short story contest when I submitted it to Jerry Jazz, which agreed to publish it in November, 2016.

Who hasn’t had a dream they’ve had to put aside?  Family, work, the pressures of life can all team up to force us to put our novel in a drawer, throw out the paintbrushes, or in this case, stow the saxophone on the top shelf in the back of a closet.  What happens if it calls to you again?  Can you risk taking it down?  Or is it like Pandora’s box, something you should never open?

“Pandora’s Sax” was my first published story and the first of my two consecutive top ten finishes in the Austin Chronicle’s short story contest.  I’m still writing, mostly on my blog (www.robglo.com), and still keep my own dream alive.

And so does my friend.

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Five books I’ve read recently and I recommend are

  • Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  • Churchill’s Trial by Larry P. Arnn
  • Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston, and
  • Snow by Orhan Pamuk.

 

Enjoy!

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Bio:

Robert Glover is a professional writer living in Louisville, Kentucky.  Born and raised in New York, Robert traveled extensively before settling in Louisville with his wife and daughter.  His humorous observations on life, family, and petty annoyances can be found at www.robglo.com.

You can reach Robert via email at robert@robglo.com

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Pandora’s Sax

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Robert Glover

(Winner...Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest #43.  Published November, 2016)

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…..In the back of a closet, on top of a shelf, under two empty shoeboxes, and behind a small, carry-on bag lurked a humped, black, plastic case. Years of knocking about in the backs of vans and offstage in smoky clubs had etched lines into its surface. Every song had scuffed another memory: Dewey Redman’s “Imagination” or Clifford Brown’s “Night in Tunisia”. An accidental kick from a ska fan had left a dent even after the shell had popped back into place. For twenty years, it had remained closed, a relic of temptation, while inside a saxophone slumbered, waiting for its silent call to beckon again. It was patient. It had time.

…..Nathan Gold heard the call. It was a Saturday morning in mid-spring as he returned from racing his mountain bike along the Long Beach boardwalk. Pumping the pedals, he glided up the sidewalk to the front door of his house and hopped off. He wore a light jacket, and as he rummaged in its pockets for the garage door opener a random spark in his mind ignited a synapse, and the image of his trapped saxophone appeared before him. He couldn’t make out who was playing, but a long, sustained, single note emanated from it.

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(Click here to continue reading the story)

 

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J. Lee Strickland

Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician. Short Fiction Contest #44

“Da Capo al Fine”

Published March, 2017

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“Da Capo Al Fine Reprise,” by J. Lee Strickland

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Mr. Strickland replies in Q and A format:

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Q. What do you remember about your winning story?

The story has a unique Möbius strip quality about it as, through some strange combination of drugs, alcohol, and fate, the saxophone player’s distant future becomes the young woman’s immediate past. I wrote the original draft in a single sitting, and as I read through it, I realized that the full impact became apparent only if one read through the whole of it twice. Thus the title, “Da Capo Al Fine,” became not just a clever musical reference, but an instruction for the reader to return to the top and read again. I loved the way the musician’s glimpse of the future leads him to change the key in which he performs the song Satin and Silver, a metaphor for the way in which a sudden epiphany can lead anyone to make a dramatic change in life.

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Q. Did winning this contest affect your writing career?

Writers as a group have to harden themselves to a steady stream of rejections, so every acceptance is special, much like a gambler who waits through long periods of losses for the one big payoff. Those rare moments of success are part of what keeps me writing.

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Q. What did the publication of your story mean to you?

In our current climate, there seems to be a widespread belief that an artist’s production should be freely available for consumption, whether it be writing, music, or whatever. Art, like any endeavor, is hard work and deserves compensation. That Jerry Jazz Musician offered a substantial reward for the winning entry was especially gratifying. I was also pleased that a story that depends so much on music both for its structure and content would find a perfect home on this site.

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Q. Are you still writing?

Storytelling is in my blood. I can think of very little that pleases me as much as diving into the construction of a new tale, so yes, I continue to write every day. I’ve just finished a novel and am searching for an agent to represent it in the marketplace. I have several shorter works out on submission and many more in various stages of completion. I have ideas for several novels, and new inspiration seems to arrive faster than I can process it. For those who enjoyed “Da Capo Al Fine,” my work can be found in Jenny, Newfound, Atticus Review, Workers Write!, Mad Scientist Journal, Pure Slush, and many others including several anthologies. You can find me on Amazon by searching for J. Lee Strickland, and you can visit my website/blog at https://jleestrickland.wordpress.com/

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Q. What are five books you have recently read that you would recommend to others?

If I were going to recommend five books, I think four of them would have to be Paul Park’s Princess of Roumania series, a sprawling fantasy set in a steam-era Europe where Great Roumania, rather than Great Britain, is the dominant world power. The work is masterful story-telling at its best. I’ve read it three times! I loved The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See and The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. Elvis Costello’s rambling autobiography, Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink, is a must read for anyone who was ever a fan. Last but not least, if you’re of a certain age (i.e. past 55), the book Flesh by  Madrid native Rosa Montero is an amazing exploration of aging. Originally written in Spanish, it should be available in English soon.

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Lee Strickland is a freelance writer and musician living in upstate New York. In addition to fiction and poetry, he has written on the subjects of rural living, modern homesteading and voluntary simplicity. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sixfold, Atticus Review, Mad Scientist Journal, Latchkey Tales, Scarlet Leaf Review, Workers Write!, Pure Slush, Small Farm Journal, and others. He served as a judge for the 2015 and 2016 storySouth Million Writers Awards. He is at work on a collection of connected short stories vaguely similar in format to the long-defunct American television series ‘Naked City’ — but without the salacious title.

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Da Capo al Fine

by

J. Lee Strickland

(Winner...Jerry Jazz Musician .Short Fiction Contest #44.  Published March, 2017)

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‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’John 1:30

…..I wake up when the door opens. Instant-awake, alert. I’m staring at the ceiling, at the ornate medallion in its center. Late-night city glow from the windows casts awkward shadows on the plaster. The light clicks on, and I hear a gasp. I feel a sympathetic shot of adrenaline hit my chest. I look toward the door, and there’s a woman there, a stranger. A beauty, too, dressed in a black pants-suit, purse slung over a shoulder, the jacket cut and fitted to her slim waist matador-style. Beneath the jacket, she’s wearing a white blouse with an enormous collar that flares out over her shoulders and breast, like gull wings. Her hair is loose, brown, shoulder-length, streaked with bits of blonde, her face around her dark eyes a mix of fear and puzzlement.

…..“Who are you?” she says, her hand still on the light switch. “What are you doing here?” Her voice quivers.

…..I look around. The ceiling looks like my apartment. The door and the windows are in the right place, but nothing else looks like it belongs to me. I’m sprawled on a couch, but it’s not my couch. I push myself to a sitting position. She backs up against the door, grasping the handle. I can feel the alcohol and uppers still battling just beneath my skin, and something else — that purple gel cap the bass player’s girlfriend handed me. What the hell was that? It’s all pulsing around, but it’s a final skirmish, a long way from the exhilarating high of the evening.

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(Click here to continue reading the story)

 

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