Tag Archives: Las Vegas

“My Life as a Sperm” by Darrah Whitaker – Interview and GIVEAWAY!!!

I met Darrah Whitaker in April when myself and two of my editor friends, Cindy Davis and Barbara Wilson, presented workshops at the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference. It was a fantastic conference, an awesome group of people, and Darrah did a spectacular job as coordinator. He was also lots of fun! But you know what is even more fun? His book! It’s called My Life as a Sperm. How could I NOT want to read it? I am not very far into the book, but I’m hooked. It’s engaging and very, very funny. I don’t often laugh out loud while reading, but I have while reading his book. Here’s a peek at some of the funny snippets: 

From a scene where the protagonist, Buddy Price, goes to see a wealthy TV evangelist at his compound/church.  

A waterfall added a melodic refrain as it cascaded over rocks into a shallow pool. Unseen birds chirped. I might have converted then and there, but I caught sight of speakers hidden behind the bushes.

AND

He sat at his desk. “How about I give you the real story. Truth is always better than fiction.”

I nodded, although I bet Oliver stone would likely disagree with that assessment. 

Haha, love it! Can’t wait to read more! There are also some funny scenes with his not-so-bright assistant, Stacey.

*** Darrah is offering a free copy of My Life as a Sperm to one lucky winner. Two ways to enter: 

  1. Follow his blog here: http://wdarrahwhitaker.com/blog/ 
  2. Comment on this blog below. 

(You can will gain an entry for each if you do both)  Winner will be announced Saturday. Please be sure to provide your email with your comment.

Also, please like his Facebook page: 

https://www.facebook.com/wdarrahwhitaker

Now, it’s Darrah’s turn to tell you about his book.  🙂

BookCover

Blurb

BUDDY PRICE, a Hollywood agent, dies in a car crash and finds himself in Heaven. There, he discovers God’s had enough with people and will pull the plug if we can’t learn to get along – a ‘love thy neighbor or else’ sort of message. An unlikely hero as there ever was, Buddy convinces God to let him fix things and gets a second chance. From the first few lines of the book, we know that he’s probably the last person we’d want to depend on to save the world, but God’s got his plan. Our fate rests in Buddy’s hands… or, who knows, maybe he’s just crazy and needs lithium or something. 

Excerpt

On top of Hedgins’ glass desktop, skinny, white legs belonging to CFO Manor wishboned like a V for victory (or vagina, I suppose) toward the ceiling while Reverend Hedgins, with pants around the ankles, pounded away at her lady bits. Hedgins didn’t see me, his backside conveniently pointed in my direction, and, if their position had been reversed, he still wouldn’t have noticed since his head was kicked up as if looking for an attaboy from on high. CFO Manor let loose with a couple of ‘Thank you, Jesuses’ before she caught sight of me standing in the office doorway.

Interview:

What’s the main thing that you could get rid of in your life that would give you more writing time?

This thing called “making a living”. It really cramps my style.

What do you want readers to come away with after they read My Life as a Sperm?

A greater sense of self-awareness. Maybe that’s all that matters. Everything else that follows should then fall into place. Oh, and also an overwhelming desire to seek out and purchase the sequel.

What actors would you like in the main roles if your book were made into a movie? 

Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Tom Hanks, but mostly because I would like to just hang out after a hard day of shooting and share a few beers.

What is your favorite quote?

“I’m a toaster” – Alan Arkin from the movie “Simon”

If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could have 3 (inanimate) objects, what would they be? 

A good book, a flashlight, and a time machine (for obvious reasons).

Your most prized material possession? Why?

I thought long and hard on this one and finally realized I don’t really have a most prized material possession. I tried to imagine a fire where I lost everything and what I would miss most. Honestly, there was nothing. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have a prized possession. It just so happens that those possessions are digital in nature. From the software systems I’ve developed over the past twenty years to the books and stories I’ve written and the photographs I’ve saved of loved ones and past experiences. Funny, huh? Maybe I’m simply a creature of these times.

Your favorite…

Movie – Blade Runner, hands down.

Music – 70’s R & B

Place you’ve visited – actually, it’s not the place, but the journey. Caribbean cruise!

Place you’d like to visit – I want to say the Moon, but given the current state of NASA, I’ll settle for Antarctica.

TV show from childhood – Gilligan’s Island (I had a huge crush on Mary Ann)

TV show from adulthood – X-Files (I had a huge crush on Agent Scully)

Food – Lasagna and ice cream, not necessarily in that order.

Sports team – War Eagle!

Which do you prefer: Board games/card games or television?  The way I see it, it’s not as important what you’re doing, but who you’re doing it with.

Thank you, Darrah. I enjoyed getting to know you better.  I also loved Gilligan’s Island, and I agree, Mary Ann was hot! 🙂

For those who have read My Life as a Sperm,  what was your favorite part?

Buy Links

Paperback    http://www.amzn.com/0986268100

Kindle            http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PVL6430

Contact Info                 

Email: darrah@wdarrahwhitaker.com

Website: www.wdarrahwhitaker.com

Buddy Price Website:  www.buddyprice-agent.com

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Bio

Darrah Whitaker is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a B.A. in Foreign Affairs and holds two Master degrees (MA-Film/MBA) from the University of Texas. He has written five screenplays, one which was produced and another optioned. His short stories have been published in the Writers Bloc III, IV, and V anthologies. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers as well as the Henderson Writers Group in Las Vegas, Nevada serving as Conference Coordinator on their Board of Directors. His first novel, My Life as a Sperm, takes on notions of God and destiny in a most unusual way. He lives in Las Vegas where, despite the myriad temptations, he still finds time to write.

 

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Ramblings of a Lifelong Fan – Part 30 – Elvis’ ‘68 Comeback Special…OMG

After Elvis came home from the army, he once more began making movies and stopped touring. I can’t imagine how that must have felt to fans, waiting so anxiously for his return, then being unable to see him live in concert. Although, seeing him on the big screen was definitely a treat as well. 🙂

When the concept of a special featuring Elvis first came about, Colonel Parker originally had the idea of Elvis singing Christmas carols. But director Steve Binder wanted something more. After noticing how relaxed and natural Elvis was in rehearsals, and how he and the other musicians played off one another, joked around and impulsively performed old blues and rock and roll songs, he decided to run with that theme and he and his crew did everything they could to recreate that situation and help Elvis relax. Elvis was reluctant to perform live, he was sure people would laugh at him, but Binder brought in Scotty Moore and Bill Black, the musicians Elvis started with, to put him at ease. (Unfortunately, the other member of the group, DJ Fontana, had passed away in 1965.) Although Elvis was terrified, not long after taking the stage, he managed to set it aside, or at least to appear to. According to Binder: “If you look closely at the opening seconds of the show, there’s a close-up of Elvis singing. You can see his hand on the mike – and it’s visibly shaking. Then he sang 8 or 9 strains, and he was back.”

Elvis-02

What developed was a phenomenal, ground breaking show, a mixture of big number performances with extravagant settings, such as the sequence with gospel songs and the musical ‘skit’ featuring Guitar Man and Big Boss Man. The ending number was a spectacular performance of Elvis, looking incredibly handsome in a white suit, singing ‘If I Can Dream’ a song written especially for the show, based on Elvis’ feelings about some of the issues going on in the world, including the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. Watch here:

 

The most memorable and impactful segment of the show had to be the ‘in the round’ jam session. Elvis in black leather, sitting around, joking and belting out some of his finer songs with his buddies surrounding him. Although I know Elvis was nervous, it certainly doesn’t show. He looks relaxed, sexy, confident as he smiles, jokes, and projects the famous Elvis swagger and charisma. Here is a little taste:

 

 

The show aired December 3, 1968, but I’ll be honest. I don’t recall seeing it at that time. I don’t know if my parents just didn’t allow us to watch it, or didn’t think about it (I was seven years old). My first memory of seeing the special was the following year in August, 1969 when my family traveled from Oklahoma to California, making stops in various states, including to visit my half-brother in Colorado. (They piled 5 kids in a station wagon Mom earned from selling Tupperware, and we embarked on the well over a thousand miles journey…what were they thinking???)  I’m guessing the special was re-broadcast, or my memory is totally skewed, but I have this recollection of being at my half-brother’s house, and the 68 Special playing on his television. I was enthralled, captivated, couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. I’d already loved Elvis for as long as I could remember (and at 8 years old, that wasn’t all that long :)), but it was my first time to actually see him perform, other than in his movies, to see his amazing stage presence and the way he interacted with an audience and held them under his spell. Fortunately for all of us lucky enough to have seen Elvis in concert (for me, 3 times), this was the beginning of Elvis’ return to live performances.

The 68 Special was a smashing success. It was viewed by 42% of the audience and was the number one show that year, receiving critical acclaim and rave reviews. Elvis was indeed back.

What about you? Have you seen the special? What did you think?

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Elvis Presley – Ramblings of a Lifelong Fan – Part XIV – Did you know…

Thought I’d share some fun facts about Elvis. How many of these tidbits did you already know?

In 1974, Elvis bought the entire stock of Lincoln Mark IV’s from Schilling Motors in Memphis and gave them all away as gifts.

George Klein became friends with Elvis when they were in eighth grade at Humes High in Memphis. They remained friends throughout Elvis’ life and George currently has a radio show on SiriusXM Elvis Radio. Elvis valued friendship very highly and many members of the so-called ‘Memphis Mafia’ that surrounded him throughout his career were guys he’d known from the early days.

elvis school pic

There has been a great deal of speculation about the spelling of Elvis’ middle name, whether it was Aron or Aaron. George Klein explained on his radio show that Elvis told them how that came to be. It was always intended to be spelled with one ‘a’ but in the excitement during his birth—when his twin, Jessie Garon was stillborn—they spelled it with only one ‘a’. Later, Elvis wanted it changed to the biblical spelling with two a’s and Vernon wanted to honor Elvis’ preference, and that is why it is with two a’s on his tombstone.

Elvis’ 1973 concert, Aloha from Hawaii was a benefit where all proceeds went to cancer research. Rather than charging for tickets, those who attended were only asked to pay whatever they could donate. 

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When Elvis first started making movies, he tried not to smile much, because he was afraid to show his teeth, afraid the studio executives would want to ‘yank them out and replace them with movie star teeth.’ Which was insane, because his teeth were beautiful.

SMILE ELVIS2

Lisa Marie was born 9 months to the day after Elvis and Priscilla married at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas on May 1, 1967. (There has been a lot of talk about Elvis bringing Priscilla to live with him at Graceland when she was just a ‘child’ but she was 18 when she moved to Graceland in 1963)

elvisandlias

Elvis’ granddaughter, Riley Keough, is an actress, but she chose not to use the Presley name to help her career and chose instead to make it on her own. (She most definitely has the Presley ‘look’)

rileyriley 2

Many people said that in Elvis’ later years, his voice had begun to fail and that he couldn’t sing the way he used to. Some of his most beautiful songs, some of the most difficult to sing, were recorded in 1976, a year before his death, in the Jungle Room at Graceland, which had been turned into a studio. Here is Danny Boy from those sessions. When I was younger, this was never one of my favorite songs, but now, I love it. His voice is so beautiful, so haunting. I actually get emotional now when I hear it. Enjoy…

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Elvis Presley – Ramblings of a Lifelong Fan – Part XIII – Quotes by Elvis

Elvis has been quoted many, many times over the years. In some of the quotes, his vulnerability and insecurity come through. In some, his wisdom, and in others, his love for his fans. Those who were close to Elvis emphasized how much he loved and appreciated his fans. In spite of his unparalleled success, he never forgot how it came to be.

 

Here are some of my favorites…

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Elvis Presley – Ramblings of a Lifelong Fan – Part 11 – A Quick One

This is going to be brief, but I didn’t want to skip a week. It’s been a very, very busy week. And a sad one. I lost my precious Uncle Peck this morning. He was 95, and he was ready to go, but those he left behind will feel his loss deeply.

 

uncle peck

 

(See, I love him so much, I even posted a pic of him wearing a Sooners cap :))

Also, we learned that my son, Presley, who is twenty-one, has fibromyalgia. That is heartbreaking as well, because he’s such a great kid, such a big-hearted and funny and wonderful young man. I hate the thought of his going through so much pain for the rest of his life. But, we are also extremely grateful, because the doctor was testing him for something more serious, such as possibly ALS. So, while I’m not thrilled about the diagnosis, I’m considering it a blessing.

As always in my life, when times are difficult, Elvis makes me feel better. Therefore, I’ll just share something brief about him. First of all, a funny memory (funny to me). When we were little, I used to tell my sister, Ruth, that when Elvis sang ‘Stuck on You’ he was singing to me because of the line: “I’m gonna run my fingers through your long black hair.” (I had long dark hair). She would get SO mad. 🙂

Now, a beautiful pic:

EP Blue

And, in closing, an amazing performance of Elvis singing How Great Thou Art. This is for you, Uncle Peck.

 

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Elvis Presley – Ramblings of a Lifelong Fan – Part 9 – Graceland

Elvis bought Graceland in 1957 for $100,000 for his mother. Sadly, she died a year later. Elvis continued to live there for the rest of his life. I think it’s admirable that he remained in his home town, rather than moving somewhere more upscale or buying lavish homes all over the country. 

Graceland was opened to the public in 1982 and is the third most visited home in the United States. More than 600,000 people from all over the world come to see Elvis’ home each year. I have been to Graceland five times, and I plan to go again. Everyone, especially Elvis fans, should experience Graceland at least once. I cannot fully convey the feeling of being in Elvis’ home. I swear, you can sense his spirit. There is something humbling and awe-inspiring about entering the place where the ‘real’ Elvis dwelled, where he found refuge from the insanity of the outside world. 

 

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My trips to Graceland: 

1978 – The summer after Elvis died, I had the opportunity to go to Nashville and Memphis with a friend and her family. At the time, the house was not open, so we only toured the grounds. 

1992 – My youngest sister, Christi, my two daughters, and I were flying to San Antonio to visit another sister, Sheri. I was pregnant with my third child, my son, (who would be named Presley, although I didn’t know it at the time, because I hadn’t convinced my then husband to agree to it. :)) We had a layover in Memphis and due to various mechanical difficulties with various airplanes, our wait ended up being 12 hours. We decided to take a cab to Graceland. We had our carry-on luggage with us, and it was quite interesting going through the narrow stairway with huge bags on our shoulders. I was afraid we were going to break something priceless. 🙂 

2001 – My sister, Ruth, and her husband, Tom, took me to Graceland for my fortieth birthday. WOW, what an amazing trip that was. Not only did we spend a lot of time on Beale Street, experiencing Graceland with the person with whom I shared such a close Elvis bond was incredible and unforgettable. My brother-in-law, who had never been a big Elvis fan, was overwhelmed by Graceland and the whole ‘Elvis’ experience. Funny story, while we were there, one of the fans was arrested for jumping into the pool at Graceland. I heard she had to pay a $200 fine. I’m sure it was worth it to her to be able to tell people she took a dip in Elvis’ pool. 

2006 – I drove to Atlanta for a writer’s conference with two of my friends, Jody and Christy. We spent the night in Memphis and went to Beale Street, and they wanted to see Graceland, at least briefly. So, we stopped by and hung out for a little while in front of the gate. 

2013 – I took my adult kids, Lana, Lacey, and Presley, and my niece, Madison, on a trip to Memphis and Atlanta. (We traveled to Atlanta for Vampire Diaries stuff and Cincinnati Reds/Braves games, but spent the night in Memphis on the way). We stayed in the Heartbreak Hotel and toured Graceland. I’ll have to say, the rooms in the hotel are sub-par, but the lobby is pretty spectacular. The kids were impressed with Graceland and we all had a wonderful time. Presley was especially moved. On the tour, a lady in a wheelchair was watching an Elvis video in one of the exhibits, with tears streaming down her face. In the meditation garden where Elvis is buried, the woman’s son was taking a pic of her, and she was still crying. He said, “Stop crying so I can take your picture, Mama.” 🙂 It was so precious. We saw her after the tour in front of the house. Presley patted her shoulder and knelt next to her chair and said, “My name is Presley.” He pointed at me. “Thanks to her. She’s my Mom.” (or something along those lines) Her eyes lit up and she said, “Aww, can I shake your hand?” He gave her his hand and she squeezed it and kissed the back of it. We were all in tears. Such a poignant moment.

menkidsgraceland

Madison, Lana, Lacey, Me, Presley

MykidsandnieceinfrontofGraceland

Lana, Madison, Lacey, Presley

Such beautiful memories. I can’t wait until the next trip to Graceland. I would love to go sometime during Elvis week, or especially at Christmas. I bet it is breathtaking during the holidays. Have you ever been?

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Elvis Presley – Ramblings of a Lifelong Fan – Part 7 – Anniversary of That’s the Way It Is

Elvis: That’s the Way It Is was Elvis’ first non-dramatic film, a documentary chronicling live performances from The Elvis Summer Festival at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. The film features shows Elvis performed on August 11, 12, and 13, 1970. Who would have imagined that, seven years later, he would be gone? He was so vibrant and sexy and alive at the time that it is mind boggling to think about. 

One of the things I loved about the film was that it not only showed some amazing concert performances, but it showed the ‘behind the scenes’ Elvis hanging out with his entourage, rehearsals, fans commenting on what they love about him, and celebrities such as George Hamilton, Cary Grant, Juliet Prowse, and Sammy Davis, Jr. arriving for opening night. 

I was only nine years old when the film released, and I remember watching it, enthralled. At the time, I had never been to an Elvis concert, and it was a thrill to see him perform. And, to see glimpses of the ‘real’ Elvis in how he interacted with his friends and the people who worked with him. 

That’s the Way It Is featured some fabulous songs, some that people who aren’t true Elvis fans aren’t all that familiar with, such as How the Web Was Woven. Here is a brief clip of him singing part of the song in rehearsals as he plays the piano. Watch what he does at the end: 

Here is a recording of the entire song: 

One of my very favorite songs from the performances is Just Pretend. I love it so much, I named my first romance after it (I wrote it when I was eleven). I also named my hero Lonnie Beale after Elvis’ character in the movie, Tickle Me. And, I described him as looking like Elvis. 🙂 I still have the story, written mostly in pencil with the first page missing from the tattered spiral notebook. At the end, my heroine thinks Lonnie died in a plane crash, but as it turns out, (Spoiler alert!) he’d taken a different flight and he comes to her where she’s crying on the beach, and he sings Just Pretend (which has a line, “I’ll come flying to you again.” – see how I cleverly wove that in?) It was a riveting moment, LOL. 

Here is his concert performance of Just Pretend: 

Wasn’t he so sweet to his fans? Lucky, lucky woman. 

I was excited to learn that the re-mastered version of That’s the Way It Is will be showing in select theaters this month. It is coming to Oklahoma City, and I must go. So, I’m off to check on tickets. Until next time…  

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New Release from The Wild Rose Press, plus a Fun Fact

Today I’m featuring a brand new release from The Wild Rose Press. Please check out the book and the exciting trailer. Also, be sure to follow and like Nancy on Twitter and Facebook and visit her on all the other social media sites.

 

Nancy J. Cohen with Warrior Lord, The Drift Lords Series #3, Paranormal/SciFi/Fantasy Romance Novel

A fantasy wedding in Las Vegas turns into a nightmare when contest winner Erika Sherwood realizes she’s married an alien.

Fun Fact:

The author has been to most of the locales in this story. In particular, she used her experiences at a movie studio tour in Los Angeles and at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen as models for similar scenes in the book. In the Drift Lords series, theme parks and tourist attractions serve a nefarious purpose. Nancy enjoyed reimagining her visits to these various places, but there’s one location in Warrior Lord where the hero goes that she didn’t venture. Lord Magnor, expert swordsman and a Drift Lords warrior, must seek an audience with Hel, ruler of the underworld. There’s only one way to get there and no return trip. He has to use all his skills to survive. How far would you go if the world depended on you?

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/91cdYSftbmU

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***** The Ebook is ON SALE for half price directly from The Wild Rose Press site, only $3.00

and can be downloaded to your Kindle, Nook, or any Ereader *****

Order at Wild Rose Press: http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=831

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22710040-warrior-lord

Order at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Warrior-Lord-Nancy-J-Cohen/dp/1628304456/

 Follow Nancy Online:

Website:  http://nancyjcohen.com

Blog: http://nancyjcohen.wordpress.com

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Tags: Fantasy, Romance, Adventure

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