Tag Archives: music

Live Jam Sessions and Thirty-Second Dance Parties

Hello, everyone! Princess Alethea Mermaid here. This quarter, the question in the lagoon is “What is your favorite pick me up when you’re feeling down?”

My favorite pick-me-up when I am down is…music.


Yes, I know, this is like the most obvious answer ever. But when I say music, I don’t mean just turning on the radio and jamming to some tunes while hammering on keys like a monkey until Hamlet comes out. I mean Thirty Second Dance Parties and Live Jam Sessions.

Thirty-Second Dance Parties: Grey’s Anatomy coined the term, but you hereby have this Princess Mermaid’s permission to dance for as long as you like. Push back from the desk, stand up, turn on some serious jam with a heavy beat, and rock out. Wiggle like a four year old on pixie stix. Move every single part of your body. Shake your thang all around the house. Shut off your brain and concentrate only on the rhythm. Get your blood flowing. Lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, never let it go, you only get one shot…



S. J. Tucker, live performance

Live Jam Sessions: I’m also a fan of online live concerts that my friends like Mikey Mason, Jonah Knight, S. J. Tucker, and the Adam Ezra Group perform every so often. This sometimes requires a little bit of preparation—or just some really good timing—but whenever the moment presents itself, I take it.

We live in the twenty-first century. We have the ability to watch live concerts from the comfort of our own home, while we’re in our PJs and/or doing something else. We can (sometimes) interact with the performer as if we were the only one in the room. We can befriend others in the chat, other fans who would be friends if we knew them in Real Life (and some we do!).

I’ve tried writing while Mikey Mason plays for me in the background on my computer screen…no, I didn’t get a ton of words done, but I got SOME which is always more than NONE. When Jonah Knight played for me, I pulled out some paper and colored pencils and let my mind wander as I doodled along with my favorite lyrics.

Last night, Tempest and I watched S. J. Tucker’s fun-super-blood-blue-eclipse-whatever-Imbolc-moon concert. Tempest took the help in chat while I worked on a guest blog for Deborah Blake about my new release (Besphinxed…out Feb 14th!)

These days we have to be doing seven things all at once. Multitasking is everything. But if you plan it right, with a little bit of effort, you can force the odds to be ever in your favor.

I’d love to hear some of your favorite dance jams — feel free to add links in the comments.

Same with indie rock folks–I’d love to add more to my collection!



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Do You Hear What I Hear…

The question in the lagoon this month: What’s the one thing you cannot write without?

Today’s answer comes from the Waterworld Mermaids’ very own Kerri Carpenter.

Visit Kerri at her awesomesauce website here. Follow her on Twitter here.


I have to keep this short and sweet today. Why? Because it’s NaNo month of course.

Wait, you don’t know what NaNo is? Allow me to explain. Writers from all over the galaxy are trying to write at least 50,000 words during the month of November. Intense, right?

Even more crazysauce is that the Waterworld Mermaids are in a tight competition with the writers over at Romance on the Rocks. Who can write the most words? Fingers crossed for the lagoon! Now, back to the question at hand.

The one thing I absolutely, under no circumstances, no way Jose, cannot write without is… Music!

Some writers need absolute quiet. Others love them some background noise. Me? I gotta have the tunes. For the most part, any music will do. However, I do have some favs. Without further ado, here’s my list:

Field of Dreams Soundtrack

I love the movie and I love the soundtrack. I listen to this constantly.

Random Playlists I Create

I love creating playlists and sometimes I’ll do one inspired by whatever I’m working on. For example, in my contemporary romance, The Best Kind of Love, Penelope and Ethan were created by listening to a lot of Lady Antebellum. I considered the song, “Dancing Away with My Heart,” to be Penelope and Ethan’s song.

Anything by John Williams

John Williams is the man! Like a song from a movie? He probably came up with it. I’ve been listening to his Greatest Movie hits for the last couple months. Star Wars, Superman, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, and soooo many more.

Random Artists

I really do listen to a ton of different music but I will admit I have some go-to’s. Colbie Caillat, John Mayer, Paul Simon, Lady Antebellum, Ben Folds Five, Ashley Monroe, and more.

Christmas Music

I love Christmas music so freaking much! I would listen to it all year long, but I do restrain myself. However, I’m currently working on a Christmas story so it’s been all Christmas, all the time. Bring on Bing, Mariah Carey, and the Chipmunks. I’m in Heaven! (And thank you to the Hallmark Channel for already playing Christmas movies!)

Alright, folks. That’s it for me. I’m off to fire up The Carpenters’ (no relation) Christmas album and get back to the writing.



Cyber-stalk Kerri at her website.

Like Kerri on Facebook, so you can answer her Questions of the Day and view her plethora of adorable dog photos. Everyone loves Harry!

Retweet Kerri on Twitter, especially when she gets super into #TheWalkingDead on Sunday nights.

What’s that? You still need more Kerri? Wow, you guys are insatiable. Buy Kerri’s books on Amazon. (Most books are also available at Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and kobo too.)

Kerri-Harry Working

Mermaids & Friends: Corinna Smith

Corinna Smith & Adam Ezra

Corinna Smith & Adam Ezra

I have a huge girl crush on Corinna Smith. She’s incredibly talented, kind, a great teacher, and loves kids…and she’s gorgeous to boot! I admire this woman down to my toes–er–fins. Really…she’s just magic. (She’s even a mermaid. I swear!) And her birthday was July 5th — happy belated birthday, Corinna!

Corinna had her violin stolen shortly after she joined up with the Adam Ezra group, who launched a successful Indiegogo campaign to raise the funds to buy her another one. She plays like a dream and is a phenomenon on stage…you just have to see her to believe it.

So hie thee to an Adam Ezra Group concert if they happen to be playing in our area. In the meantime, feel free to friend Corinna on Facebook…and check out her awesome interview, right here, right now!

[Edited to say: I think I always knew making music was like writing…but I wasn’t quite sure JUST how much until I read Corinna’s answers here. See? Magic.–AK]


Little Corinna...

Little Corinna…

When did music first inspire you?
Music was always part of my life- my mom used to sing me lullabies, and I grew up listening to my dad play his guitar every evening as a way to relax. I got a toy piano for my 3rd birthday and used to “compose” songs for my stuffed animals, and began real piano lessons a few years later. But the first time I remember realizing I HAVE to play music was at an Alison Krauss and Union Station concert when I was 13. Her voice and her fiddle playing were so sweet but so powerful, and I wanted to be just like her.

How many instruments do you play?
That’s a tricky question- I studied music education in college, which means that technically I can play any instrument that’s found in schools… but I’m pretty sure nobody would be happy to hear me squawk away on the bassoon or pass out trying to play a note on the tuba!
Instruments I can actually play some songs on would be violin, viola, piano, guitar, mandolin, and banjo… and I sing a little, too.

What’s the most frustrating thing (for you) about your job being something you love?
I feel pretty lucky that I get to do the thing I love most in the world every single day, but because I am so passionate about it, I can also be very self-critical. Some days we’ll play a set where the humidity makes my violin lose tuning, or there are issues with our sound and I can’t hear my voice while singing, or I just space out for a second and make a really obvious mistake… there’s a little voice in my head that will say “see? you’re not good enough! you can’t do this!!” in those moments and I have to be careful not to let it take over my thoughts.

Conversely, what’s the most rewarding thing about your music?
There’s a moment in every live performance where I can feel everyone in the room connecting to the same energy. It’s my favorite thing about playing music for people, and the only way I can describe it is to say it’s magic. This can happen no matter where we are, how many people we’re playing for, how tired/hungry/cranky I might have been before the moment… It’s as if the entire outside world melts away and it’s just us being bathed in music. It’s such a crazy honor to get to help create that experience, and it still mystifies me every time it happens.

Tell us a little bit about writing your own music. Like…what comes first, the music or the lyrics?
For a long time, I wanted to write songs but was so paralyzed by that little “you’re not good enough” voice that I didn’t write at all. In the last few years, I’ve decided that for me, songwriting is not about writing something good or creating songs with any intention of sharing them… it’s just a personal form of expression, like keeping a journal. Once I made that distinction, I was able to let go and write, but I don’t really have a process… Sometimes it’s a phrase that sticks in my head, sometimes it’s a little fragment of melody, and sometimes it’s a chord progression I’ve heard elsewhere that I decide to steal for myself! The most important thing for me has been to withhold all judgment, be ok with writing “bad” songs, and use the whole process as a cathartic way to release whatever I’m feeling at the time.

You play primarily with the Adam Ezra Group — how do you collaborate with Adam and the rest of the group?
I’ve been with the Adam Ezra Group for about a year and a half, and although the songs start in Adam’s head, he is a really generous and collaborative artist, so everyone in the band has lots of room to contribute ideas when we’re working out a song. When Adam brings a new song to the band, we usually spend some time talking about it, listening to demo recordings he’ll make, and then devote a few rehearsals to experiment with it together. Sometimes we’ll do this with older songs of his too, which can give them a new life. My role as a fiddler/violinist is primarily to provide texture, and I’m often one of the last to create my parts because it allows me to find spaces within all the other layers of the song.

Corinna and Brandon

Corinna and her brother Brandon

How much are you on the road? What do you miss the most when you’re away from home?
We’re constantly on tour these days–over 200 shows a year, plus travel days to get to those shows–so our big messy van has kind of become my home at this point! I don’t really miss a particular place, but I do miss people. Most of my family is in Michigan and I don’t get to see them often… and my brother has an awesome band of his own called the Appleseed Collective… they tour all the time too, and it’s particularly hard to be away from him – he and I have been best friends our whole lives. We send handwritten letters to each other from the road, and we’re constantly scheming ways to get our two bands together (hint: it’s about to happen later this summer!!)

When you are on stage, you seem so lost in the music…and yet you still manage to engage not only the audience, but also each member of the band on stage (your enthusiasm is so contagious!). What I want to know is: What goes through your mind when you’re up there? How do you keep from losing the crowd, or the flow of the song?
That’s the magic feeling I mentioned! It’s such an amazing experience for me. I’m not sure there’s anything describable actually going through my mind… what I feel at those times are love, gratitude, and incredibly intense joy.

I’ve seen photos and articles about some of the teaching that you’ve done — can you tell us a little bit about that and why you do it?
Teaching is my other great love besides playing. I was so lucky growing up to have amazing teachers myself- my piano teacher, Carol Franklin, and my orchestra director, Bob Phillips, were two of the most influential people in my life. From the very first day, they each supported not only my budding musical skills, but encouraged me and made me believe that I had valid and important creative ideas–even as a beginning music student who could barely play her instruments. I think it’s vital that adults take children’s creative work seriously and see it as an expression that is just as honest and meaningful as a professional artist’s expression, even if the execution isn’t skilled yet. I’ve taught all ages from 2 1/2 years old to retired adults, spent some time teaching music in Singapore as well as lots of places in the U.S., worked with classes as big as 200, first-day beginning students, and even spent a few hours consulting with one of my classical music heroes who was a legendary performer but had never improvised… every single person I’ve ever taught or played music with has had beautiful, creative ideas. It fills me up and inspires me to be a part of that. Fortunately, teaching is a passion for Adam and the rest of my bandmates as well, and our nonprofit organization RallySound includes educational outreach in its mission, so I still get some opportunities to teach even while touring!!

Professor Corinna, hard at work!

Professor Corinna, hard at work!

Oh my gosh…I could ask you so many more things…but this one I ask everyone: If you could have any superpower (or be any superhero) what/who would it be and why?
I sometimes have dreams where I’m not myself (I might be a child, or an animal… once, I dreamt I was the ocean!) and those are always fascinating to me. I think if I could have a superpower I would love to be able to experience life as other living things do. How cool would it be to become an elderly woman for a day, or an octopus, or a tree? And to be serious for just a moment, if such a superpower existed, and there was a way to make people live for a day in each other’s worlds, it might prevent a lot of the senseless violence caused by humans’ inability (or unwillingness) to see other perspectives…

What projects are you working on that fans can look forward to?
Right now my main project is playing shows every day with the Adam Ezra Group and being a part of the team, which takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work but is completely worth it. An event that AEG is hosting which I’m particularly excited about is our annual Ramble, which will be August 23 on Salisbury Beach in Massachusetts. It’s a festival put on by our nonprofit RallySound to support a really important cause, all while hanging out on a gorgeous beach all day sharing great music. Last year we raised enough funds to house 15 homeless veterans in New England, and this year we’ve partnered with some amazing, independently-owned farms to provide CSA shares of fresh, healthy produce to our veteran families on a weekly basis for a year! I’m also personally excited because my brother’s band is coming out to play at the Ramble, and my whole family is road-tripping to share the weekend with us… And of course, as a mermaid, I never turn down an opportunity to spend time at the beach! 🙂



Songwriters Series

Music has been the overwhelming influence in my world this past month.  I’ve had the chance to discover some new bands and have gained a few new favorite songs.  I also started wondering more and more about similarities and differences between what a songwriter does and what book writers do.  My hope is to keep finding new bands/singers/songwriters to fall in love with and maybe even snag a few who might be willing to answer these questions.


These are just a few things that popped into my mind this week:


What is the secret to conveying so much in so few words?  The song that just had me swaying along was a mere 178 words long.  The book I’m working on that hopefully does the same?  104,000 words.

Is there any similarity between plotting a song and plotting a story?  Are there industry formulaic “rules” a songwriter follows that would be similar to our plot lines and character arcs?  Is there an editing process songwriters go through with their lyrics?

Is there an element they know they have to get right, for example emotion, sentiment, sound, message, theme, story in order for the song to work?  I have heard it said that you can have a successful book with a not-so-zippy plot as long as you’ve got exciting, sympathetic characters.  Is the same true for their songs?

Do musicians have similar contrasting feelings about the evolution of music into the digital age as authors do with their books?  Comparing holding a physical record or CD in their hands to knowing the benefits that digital media offer as far as ease and speed of sharing their work with listeners/readers.

Does a songwriter feel more personally exposed sharing their lyrics than an author writing a fictional story or are songs often fictionalized?

Is there a comparison to be made for the feeling of energy a musician receives from performing a live show?  I don’t know yet, but is a book-reading as electric as a bass-pounding, amped up song set?

Musicians are often the subjects of our stories.  How many bluesy, guitar-strapped-across-his-back heroes have we strutted across our pages?  How many punk rock, attitude-served-up-on-a-prickly-stick heroines have we designed to deconstruct the poor boy next door?  Do songwriters tend to write about a certain type of person?  A tortured lover or a girl trying to make her way in the world?

What is more powerful for them, a song about a moment or the big picture? 

Whatever our similarities and differences, I know the songwriter/musician is an essential component to my artistic expression and very often the muse that drives the words onto the page.  I think that means I owe them a big ole thank you!  Thanks!

As we speak, I’ve submitted this list of questions to a new favorite band and if I hear back, I’ll be sure to post their answers here and invite them to the pond.

Have a great musical day everyone!


Happy Valentine’s Week – Day Three

Happy Valentine’s Week from the Waterworld Mermaids!!!

Here in our lovely mermaid lagoon, we are all abuzz with the holiday of love. And because we’re in such a happy mood, we wanted to share some stories and memories from mermaid-pasts. Best of all, we’re celebrating all week long! We hope you enjoy!

Ever notice how love can inspire music and music often has a hand in love? Whether the feelings are between significant others or family members, today’s stories mix these two beautiful things – love and music….


Songs in the Key of Love
Denny S. Bryce

He had a voice like smooth raw silk—deep and rich and soft and strong. When he sang, with his lips next to my ear, his breath was warm and cool, and always made me smile.

He loved to sing. He would burst into song anywhere, any time. When we sat in the car at the gas pump, or as we shopped for groceries, or walked across the football field after he’d coached a game.

It took a few months, but eventually, I joined in and sang the words I knew to whatever song he was singing. But my voice never sounded as good as his. So I mostly sat back and let him sing to me. He liked it best that way.

He wasn’t showing off. No, but sometimes talking didn’t do what he wanted it to do. His words weren’t as good as the lyrics on the radio. It was easier to say what he wanted to say with a song.

So he’d serenade me.

After a while, I stopped noticing when he sang, or that he wasn’t singing as much anymore.

Then one night we were in the car driving back from, or driving off to, somewhere, and a Stevie Wonder song came on the radio. It was from a 1976 album, Songs in the Key of Life, one of my favorites from back in the day.

He pulled over to the side of the road, and started singing…


If you’re not familiar, here are some of the lyrics…

You know what I say is true
That I’ll be loving you always

(Until the rainbow burns the stars out in the sky)
(Until the ocean covers every mountain high)
(Until the dolphin flies and parrots live at sea)
(Until we dream of life and life becomes a dream)

Did you know that true love asks for nothing
No no her acceptance is the way we pay
Did you know that life has given love a guarantee
To last through forever and another day

Well, let’s just say, I started listening again…and heard every word when he sang.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Song from the Heart
Masha Levinson

This thing I hold in my arms is more like a loaf of bread than a baby.  And not one of those pretty loaves either.  He’s all beat up looking.  Black and blue.  As if he’d been in a fight and is now sleeping off a horrid hangover.  Except unlike most drunks, this one isn’t staying quiet.  He’s screaming as if belting out a tune for the cheap seats at Lincoln Center.  And it’s 2:30 in the morning.  And I’m tired.  And cranky.  And I want to go to sleep.  And he won’t cooperate.  The spindles from the creaky rocking chair are digging into my back.  My arm, the one his lumpy head is resting on, has long ago fallen asleep. Why won’t this kid sleep?

It’s half an hour later when his eyelids begin to flutter up and down.  Small veins weave around his translucent skin.  His fragility amazes me.  Twenty minutes later, he’s finally asleep.  I exhale.  As if holding the rarest of gems, I will my body off the chair, cringing when the hinges squeal.  I hold my breath.  He doesn’t stir.  Step by step, I make it to the crib.  The side is up.  I can’t reach in there.  I look around the semi-lit room and see the stepstool.  I hold him in my arms and with one foot drag it toward his crib.  His eyes flutter open.  My breath hitches.  He closes them.  I place the stool in front of the bed and gingerly climb on it.  The crib is still too high for me.

Each time, before I lower him into the crib, no matter how tired, I lean over and kiss his satiny forehead.  Tonight is no different.  He sighs.  I smile.  I lean over and place him, as carefully as if he was the most fragile loaf of bread, onto the sheets.  I hold my breath and wait.  Sometimes he wakes and sometimes he doesn’t.  He continues sleeping. I exhale and creep out of the room.  I crawl into my bed.  My body begins to drift off as the last thought flutters through my mind.  I wonder if he’ll ever know what I did for him.

Fourteen years later I’m sitting in front of the school, waiting to pick him up from a homecoming dance.  It’s Saturday night.  Request night on the love station.  I’m tapping my finger on the steering wheel.  The music filters off and then I hear it.  “Our last dedication is to Masha from her brother and for everything she did for him.”

I stop tapping.  And breathing.  The intro to the song begins to fill the car.  A moment later the words come across my old radio loud and clear.  I am no longer left to wonder.

The song he chose is Hero.


We hoped you enjoyed our stories today. Come back tomorrow for more sweet stories that are sure to make you feel all gooey (in a good way)!