A Question of Music?

A friend recently asked me why music was such an integral part of my characters. Not so much in Through The Fire but most certainly with the first two books in the O’Conner Sisters Trilogy.  My friend pointed out I don’t listen to music, yet both Cat Conners and Esperanza O’Conner were famous award winning singers.

As a deaf woman, music is not a part of my life. My sounds come from what my eyes experience around me. Take me to the museum. Let me stand before a Monet, Rembrandt, Pollack or even Yayoi Kusama and I see the music in their work.

I wasn’t born deaf, however. It was a process that took almost forty years. I knew it was happening and I readied myself. I understood one day I would not hear the music on the radio or television.

I did grieve, yet that was many, many years ago.

However, I remember.

I remember the musical, CATS. I remember Johnny Mathis and Ella Fitzgerald. Bette Midler was always playing in my car and house. Chaka Kahn (we are birthday twins) I remember the power of her voice. She was the last person I saw in concert before the last of my hearing went. Her old repertoire, the music I grew up with, I heard as if I were listening to my old LPs. Her new songs, I had no idea what was going on; there was no memory of it.

So to have the O’Conner twins both accomplished musical artists is not a stretch for me.

I don’t hear their music. Cat Conners singing The Man That Got Away immortalized by the great Judy Garland. Nor Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue as played on the Steinway Grand Piano by Esperanza O’Conner.

But…I…Remember.

And remembering is enough.

Remembering makes a Pollack sound as if an experimental Jazz Ensemble were splashed on the canvas. It makes a Monet sound like the music outside a Paris Café. Finally, Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room – Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity,” which I recently saw at the Seattle Art Museum, was a chorus of angels weeping songs for the lost souls of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It broke my heart!

I Remember!

And remembering is enough.

Thank you for your time and as always “Keep Reading!”

Raj Lowenstein

http://www.rajlowenstein.net

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Harvey, Part Two

Watching the story of Harvey on the television was difficult for us, as it was for most people with family and friends living on the Texas and Louisiana cost. We kept in touch with those who we were worried for as best as we could knowing they had more to worry about than promptly replying to our request for updates.

It was not the tragedy of Harvey, while that was foremost in our hearts and minds, that often drew our attention, but the common every day individuals who risked themselves to safe complete strangers. Those, who without asking, went to search and rescue pets that were abandoned by their humans to fend for themselves.

These are the stories that will be remembered and recounted. This quiet heroes who braved the high water, as I know the Houston area, the snakes and alligators, to help these are the people we want to emulate.

The different communities and organizations who helped those in need because it was the correct thing to do…Gallery Furniture – Mattress Mack, the Muslim Community, HEB, the wonderful American Sign Language interpreters who provided access to communication, the First Responders…these are a few of those I give a prayer of thanks to.

I will continue to pray and send warm fuzzy thoughts to those I know in the aftermath of Harvey.

Thank you for your time and as always “Keep Reading!”

Raj Lowenstein

www.rajlowenstein.net

HARVEY

My husband and I recently migrated from the Texas Gulf Coast of the Houston Metropolitan area to the beautiful majestic Pacific Northwest. We left behind children, a parent, siblings and a lifetime of friends scattered from Corpus Christi to the Houston/Galveston area as well as central Texas.

We sat up watching the Weather Channel almost every night for the past few days.  I have as well as my husband, been texting, FaceTiming and calling our loved ones to make sure they are safe.

My sister’s house is an island.  Family from Corpus Christi went north. Our children, so far are fine.  My mother’s house unfortunately wasn’t a boat.

We have heard from friends, us checking with them and them with us.

Water is such a devastating thing.

My mother lived through what they, those from Manhattan Kansas, called the “Flood of 51.”  Mom said in her text to me this morning, “This reminds me of the flood of ’51.”  Having grown up and hearing the story of this flood, I can visualize my sister and mom’s current situation.

All that is left is to pray. I am saying mine….
To all my Family and Friends in Texas…I am sending my Prayers and love your way!

Thank you for your time and as always “Keep Reading!”

Raj Lowenstein

www.rajlowenstein.net

EXCUSE ME…WHAT?!

I just finished reading an article about self-editing your work.  This self-editing happens even before your editor get her hands on the rough draft.  It made a lot of sense, and lucky for me, I was already doing almost everything it seems I should be doing.

When I started writing As Long As You’re Here, I had no idea it would developed into a trilogy, let alone the middle book of three.  Before I started writing The Cat and The Blue Sky, I had to go back and not only reread As Long As You’re Here, but make a timeline of what took place in the book so that both the first and third book could follow suit.  Additionally, there were comments and phone conversations needing to be replicated.  Thank goodness for Copy and Paste; it made that particular job very easy.

I go back and double check, rereading all or part of one book while working on the other.  If a character has blue eyes in one book, yet has hazel in the other, a savvy reader will catch that. When the handsome villain walked into a room full of people with a full beard only to have a clean- shaven face by the time he reaches our heroine across the room, I should suppose a reader might just put the book down.

It’s nice to learn, when you are a novice, the things you are doing are the right ones. Puts a smile on your lip, or at least mine!

Thank you for your time and as always “Keep Reading!”

Raj Lowenstein

www.rajlowenstein.net

It that Light at the End of the Tunnel?!

Many of you already know I am currently working on a Trilogy to hopeful be ready for you to read the first part of 2018. The FBI TrilogyThe Cat and the Blue Sky – Book 1, As Long as You’re Here – Book 2, and A Blush On A RoseBook 3, follows three sisters.  The identical twin sisters, Esperanza O’Conner and Catálan O’Conner and their half-sister, Olli Rose Bergstrom after Catálan witness a Drug Cartel murder.

I have just this week finished the first two books and will be working on Olli Rose’s story.

Naturally, there are edits and a rewrite here and there, but I am extremely excited to have these first two behind me…for the most part!

There will be more to come, as I have many projects waiting patiently in line to be the next to get my attention.

In the meantime, enjoy your summer!

Thank you for your time and as always “Keep Reading!”

Raj Lowenstein

www.rajlowenstein.net

You Are Where You Eat!

Come join me for haggis, tatties and neeps. Or perhaps, a lobster roll is more to your liking. Maybe it’s TexMex? Yum!!!  There is always jambalaya, etouffee, or boiled crawfish.  Catfish and hushpuppies anyone?  Escargot and a big bowel of ratatouille?  Ravioli and a great bottle of wine, not to mention hot baguette!

Come over to my house on a Friday night and experience Matzo Ball Soup, gefilte fish (homemade, of course) and a crusty fresh baked challah. Or perhaps on the table will be a hearty cholent and kishka.  It’s all good!

Enough already, this is making me hungry.

More than just names of places can provide clues as to locations and cultures. There is more to describing a local than giving the name of the town, or country and or streets.  Food is what makes the world go around.

There might be a restaurant in New York or London where you can have a home-style meal of haggis, tatties and neeps. Yet, if you found yourself in a book, preparing to eat haggis, tatties and neeps you might realize you are in Scotland.

Conversely, a good lobster roll is typically found on the east coast. Just as Conch Fritters might be most commonly eaten in southern Florida.

Not only does food highlight a location, it also is a non-removable component of culture.

If you remember the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Nia Vardalos’ character ‘Toula’ explains to John Corbett’s character ‘Ian’ exactly how important food is to a Greek family.  You see my point!

Of course, when I watched that movie with my friends we laughed and said it could have been called “My Big Fat Jewish Wedding” and the characters and the importance of food would have been the same.  I have heard this same comment from friends who are of other cultures. Yet the focus is about food…and family.

So, if you come to my house, you will be fed!  As my mother always says, “G-D forbid you should leave my house hungry!”

I agree…just don’t tell her I do!

Thank you for your time and as always “Keep Reading!”

Raj Lowenstein

www.rajlowenstein.net

 

Lip Reading

As a Deaf woman, who began losing my hearing early in my life, I rely on technology or interpreters when dealing with hearing people.  In a perfect situation for me, everyone uses American Sign Language.

Two questions I am constantly asked are:

  1. Do I read Braille? (Yes, this is a very common question for deaf people!)
  2. Do read lips?

Movies and popular culture has the average person thinking everyone can read lips just like James Bond; from across a crowded room and in forty-seven different languages.

That is simply not true.  There are people, such as my friend TW, who has spent a lifetime learning to speech read (the new term for lip reading) – literally over five decades worth of practice and study.

The attached video (https://www.facebook.com/wearewisdo/videos/924184814390763/) provides real information about speech reading.  Copy and past or go to my Facebook page to watch.

So the next time you meet a D/deaf or Hard of Hearing person, you might what to reconsider before you ask, “Can you read lips?” or “Do you read Braille?”

My response is usually, “NO!” with an evil smile, then I sign “DO YOU KNOW SIGN LANGUAGE?”  They usually turn and run away.

Thank you for your time and as always “Keep Reading!”

Raj Lowenstein

www.rajlowenstein.net