Monday, August 1, 2011

For Once in My Life

For my day job as a nonfiction author, I'm writing an article on the inspiring and delightful Spirit of Goodwill Band. The 28 members of the ensemble have physical and mental disabilities, yet amaze audiences with their professional sound and style. They're not just good for a group of disabled musicians – they're good.

As part of my research I watched For Once in My Life, a documentary on the band. I was expecting to learn how those with disabilities were taught to play instruments and sing in harmony. Instead, the members of the band taught me lessons in courage, determination, self-discipline, optimism, and plain hard work.

One scene really resonated with me. Melissa Cason, a young woman with Down's Syndrome, sings and plays the drums and tambourine. She keeps perfect time to the beat. But when the band arrives at the venue for their performance before the Conference of U.S. Mayors, Melissa is terrified to learn that she needs to stand on a riser during the performance. She's always played with the band while standing on the floor and the height, although only 2 feet off the ground, terrifies her. A support staffer tries to reassure Melissa that she will stand right behind her to guarantee that Melissa doesn't fall, but to no avail. Melissa climbs down off the riser. She's going to miss the performance…until the music starts. You can see the fear in the young woman's eyes – and the longing to be part of something she loves. And with courage and determination, she climbs back up on the riser and rejoins the band.

My children joke that "worry" is my middle name. I've got a host of fears and most of them are irrational. You can tell me until the cows come home that flying is safer than driving, but I'm still terrified of traveling by airplane. I empathized with Melissa because I'm no fan of heights either. But as I watched this group of determined men and women, unfettered by the disabilities that too many people had used to define them, I found myself empowered to move beyond my own fears and limited visions.

Jim Bigham, the director of For Once In My Life, explained in a post-documentary interview, "Success belongs to those who do something with what they have, rather than to those who have the most." Genius, however we define it, is never enough. I learned anew that I was the only one keeping me from pursuing my dreams. Whether it's to write the novel that's been kicking around in my mind for years or it's to visit Hawaii which entails at least 12 hours on an airplane, it's up to me. I can choose to invest the time and energy in a new book without focusing on whether or not it sells. I can battle my flight demons in order to visit the tropical paradise.

For Once in My Life is available for sale on DVD, as well as through Netflix and i-Tunes. Visit the website, for more information about this remarkable band and documentary.

Marian, the Northern half of Evelyn David

BREAKING NEWS!!!! Lottawatah Twister, the 6th volume of the Brianna Sullivan Mysteries was published on July 16, 2011!  See links below for purchase at Amazon,, and Smashwords. Lottawatah Twister is the sixth book in the Brianna Sullivan Mysteries ebook series. A novella-length story, Lottawatah Twister continues the spooky, yet funny saga of psychic Brianna Sullivan who planned to travel the country in her motor home looking for adventure, but unexpectedly ended up in a small town in Oklahoma. In Lottawatah Twister, a powerful tornado wreaks destruction on everything in its path and stirs up some unsettled ghosts. It's up to Brianna to figure out whodunnit before the killer strikes again. Leon, the adorable and digestively-challenged bulldog, is back at the center of the action and more than once saves the day – and the beef jerky. Brianna is forced to answer a question that she's avoided since the day she arrived in Lottawatah: why is she sticking around? Lottawatah Twister has more twists and turns than a funnel cloud, with humor to make you laugh out loud and a romance that will touch your heart.

As a special offer to Stiletto Gang readers, send an e-mail to, and we'll send you a coupon for a free download of  "I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries," the first Brianna Sullivan e-book. Offer expires midnight, August 2, 2011. Enjoy!

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

A Haunting in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Twister - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Sullivan Investigation Series
Murder Drops the Ball (Spring 2011)
Murder Takes the Cake- Paperback - Kindle
Murder Off the Books- Paperback - Kindle
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Love Lessons - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords


  1. Marian, great post! Thanks for sharing about the Spirit of Good Will band. And if there were a school for worrying, we would be the lead professors. Maggie

  2. Most of the time I'm pretty good about not worrying--but sometimes, well you know what I mean.


  3. You guys know I could teach Worrying 101, too (as well as more advanced courses in worrying). Sounds like a wonderful story to be telling, Marian! I hope the band continues to entertain and inspire people for years to come!