David Bowie's Black Star shining

David Bowie's death hit me hard, much harder than it should have. I wanted to wait a bit before talking about him, because I wasn't sure why I felt so gutshot when I saw that he'd died. After all, I wasn't really a fan of his music.

Rather than follow his career, Bowie seemed to follow me, strange as that may sound. I remember his Ziggy Stardust days, but I was too young and unworldly to understand Bowie's sly digs at the music industry ... and the fans.

Whereas Frank Zappa was loud and in your face with his disdain, Bowie was more subtle. He was always there, like a shadow in my peripheral vision, mocking us and our music with sly winks and nudges. The reason he never came off as offensive is because he seemed to be laughing with us, not at us.

He seemed to be saying: It's all spectacle--flash and glam--I am here to entertain you with music disguised as your dreams, and if I can poke a little fun ... well ... all the better for you and for me ... Let's dance.

The mockery ended when it came to his music. Even though his style never appealed to me, I never doubted Bowie was an artist of the finest nature. He knew how to mix sound and visuals to stimulate our senses. And somehow, throughout all the small asides and quips, he seemed to make his music seem to be about us, but I don't think that was the case at all.

His music was about him. He simply spoke so eloquently, we wanted to make his words into our own.

Bowie, like all artists, used his music and visual styles to explore the world around him. He was exceptionally perceptive, even as a young man, of people and our many foibles. One thing I'm sure he learned early, is that all people are narcissistic to a certain degree. We respond to books, music, and films, that seem to speak to us about us.

Like Bowie, we are always looking for reflections of ourselves in the world.

It's weird, or maybe not so much, but the first Bowie song I remember was "Space Oddity"--about fame and a man who was dying in space. The final Bowie song that remains lodged in my heart is "Lazarus," which is Bowie, examining his own death creeping up on him as he tries to finish the the things that have meaning.

If anyone could come full circle so powerfully, it would be Bowie.

And while he might have been saying goodbye to us with Black Star, I think that is us once more making his music about us. He articulated the moments that had meaning, and we took them for our own.

Not selfishly, mind you.

Bowie offered them to us, like all poets do, freely, and we gobbled the songs and the lyrics, thinking they would never end. And in manys they won't.

Bowie's star might be black, but it will continue to shine, and I am glad, because we need artists to inspire us--both in life and in death.

cover art, contest winners, and whatnot

I've had a few questions spring up in various places and since I'm starting to see some repeats (also in various places), I thought I'd address a few of them here in one place:

Q -When will the winners for the blog tour contest be announced?

If you entered flash fiction in the blog tour contest, check back next week. We will announce winners sometime on Monday August 1. Precisely when we will announce the winners will rest primarily on the shoulders of US Air and whether they have me safely home at a reasonable time on Sunday.

Q - What about winners for the other giveaways?

Some of them have already been contacted, and I have another giveaway that does not time out until tonight. So rather than three or four blog posts, I thought I would do one and the winners will be announced soon, either tomorrow or Monday. A lot depends on my schedule and how long it takes me to transfer meds and other liquids into tiny TSA approved bottles before Friday. Tedious, true, but that's the way life works sometimes.

Q - Who did the art work and layout for Miserere?

Michael C. Hayes did the cover art for Miserere, and the good folks at Night Shade Books did the rest. Rebecca Silvers came up with the awesome cover design, and Amy Popovich did the equally beautiful interior layout and design. In my humble opinion, they came up with a stellar package for me, and I just put the words on the pages.

Q - Were you self-published before finding a publisher for Miserere?

No. While I have many online friends who choose to self-publish for their own reasons, I have never tried to self-publish. It wasn't the route toward publication that I wanted to take for a variety of personal reasons. To the best of my knowledge, Night Shade Books does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. My best advice is to go to their web site and check out their submission guidelines.

Q - I love the music in the book trailer, can you tell me where to find it.

iStock.com. The title of the track is "It's Coming."

So I'll be around as time allows and I appreciate your patience!