L.A. Nights – New Short Story

In the midst of my songwriting pursuits, I’m still writing fiction. My latest short story, L.A. Nights, is now available on Kindle. I also have a novella in the works to be released this fall. So stay tuned. In the meantime, here’s something about L.A. Nights.

LANights_cover_blue_150“Some day you’ll grow up to shame us,” Kim’s mother had told her when after she’d stayed out all night, hanging out with her friends in L.A., not coming home until the sun had risen over the San Bernardino Mountains. It had been an honest mistake of her youth. She hadn’t done anything illegal, wild, or immoral, not that night, anyway. Later, she left for San Francisco and vowed to never return to Los Angeles.

But San Francisco had been more than cold—it was heart-less. She’d discovered how impossible it was to warm yourself when you wrap yourself in cold. Searching for the familiar and her long ago past, she follows a lead to a Burlesque club in Los Angeles, remembering those hot, L.A. nights where her past would finally catch up with her.

Available now on Kindle.

Everybody Lies – New Original Song

I reached my goal of finishing Everybody Lies by the end of July. Woo hoo!

What I’m noticing is that writing a song is kinda like writing a novel – at some point you have to call it finished and release it in order to get on with the next one. As one music producer said, “Let it go when you’re at 85% – it’s time to move on.”

With each new song, I see my skills improving and I’m looking forward to working on that next song.

So, here it is, my latest original song, Everybody Lies.

The Integrated World of Music and Faith

cover_Myths_blogI love being in the world of musicians, singer/songwriters, performers, and everybody else involved with music. Speaking our Faith is part of what we do and it comes naturally in the music world. I see it in music classes, songwriting workshops, in vocal coach sessions. I even see it on “The Voice.”

This is quite different from the novelist world I had just been in where people of Faith seemed to be separated into the “Christian” market and then there was everybody else and the Erotica market was mainstream. Ha!

If you listened to the media out there, you’d think there were no faithful mainstream Christians – that everybody was a pagan – lol!

So I just wanted to give a big shoutout to my fellow musicians from whom I am learning so much!

Thank you for your support on Reverbnation – it means a lot to me to be considered one of you.

PS – My first blog was called “Voice for the Fatherless” and so I’ve now started a new blog combining Faith and the Fatherless issue on Myths of the Fatherless, named after my first book.

End of July Deadline for Everybody Lies

I’ve given myself to the end of July to finish Everybody Lies in whatever form it takes. Will it be commercial enough at that point, I don’t know but I’ve spent enough time on this song and am ready to move on. In the meantime, it’s been a great practice project with kudos in some areas and suggestions for tweaks to make it more commercial.

The thing is, my heart doesn’t really want to be confined to commercial music and so it’s hard to tweak it for the market. So maybe this will be another one for me or maybe I’ll find a home for it somewhere.

Listening to the 80s radio station on SiriusXM, I found some inspiration from songs from that era, which are quite similar to our current dance/pop music. Oh those crazy eighties!

3 Chords and the Truth

They say that country music is “3 chords and the truth.” No wonder it appeals to me. And no wonder writing, blogging, and songwriting also appeal – it’s where I can speak my truth.

A writer friend once said, “They say that when you move to Paris, you’ve become serious about writing.” I could say something similar about Las Vegas. When you move to Vegas, you get serious about music. After all, it is the “Entertainment Capital of the World.”

II grew up near Huntington Beach listening to the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and Elvis on my transistor radio. I also sang in choirs and performed solo, played a bit of piano and guitar, but eventually put music aside.

After writing and publishing 5 novels, 4 short stories (the 5th to be released soon), and 1 nonfiction book, I am now pursuing my musical dream. I’m writing songs, practicing the keys, and tuning up my vocals.

A Half-Truth is a Whole Lie

Warning: a songwriter’s life is not what you think it is.

Music is more than a bouquet of sweet vibrations; it is something from a higher world, which we humans have been given the power to invoke. Artists are alchemists, with our hands in the holy. The Sacred. Yes, there is great power in creating music, but also great danger. The journey of the artist is filled with pitfalls. Where there is great beauty and the power to move millions on this path, there is always great risk.

Songwriting is a noble calling that requires more than talent and perseverance. It requires courage. If you are willing to face yourself and honestly reveal in your songs what you’ve seen in that unveiling of yourself, then you have a chance of writing songs that will outlive you.

What can we gain by walking on the moon and planets if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves?

This is the most important of all voyages, and it is the job of the artist. The object of art is not to make salable products. It is to save one’s self, and to be a part of saving us all. Either we tell our story, or our story tells us.

And know this:

A half-truth is a whole lie.

Character, like integrity, is much easier kept than recovered. So write from your true self, not the self you think you should be. Do not try to impress us, and do not hide behind thin walls and smoke screens. It will only bore us. Brutal self-honesty is your challenge, and will reward you with much more than you can yet imagine.

You must learn how to reject acceptance and accept rejection. People’s opinions of you and your work are irrelevant. The search for love and applause has no place in the creative process. Here is what I know: thriving artists suffer from a feeling of inferiority, a feeling of reaching for something that keeps being just outside our grasp. We make contact with it, and then it turns to smoke. It cannot be held. So our work involves a constant striving. Those that don’t know this feeling are pretending to be close to art and live in secret fear of the aloneness of the deep creative process.

Art requires audacity, and if you are not afraid, you are not taking risks.

You will simply skim the surface and offer the world nothing new. Ultimately, your songs will not matter.

An artist’s job is to reach communion with truth, and bring that holy light into the world in order to soothe souls trapped in dark places. It is exceedingly difficult work and most who attempt it fail. That said, there is no safety in success either. In fact, triumph brings a greater danger, because the intense light of success is a wick that draws in darkness. Stars burn up.  Flame out. Stars overdose, suicide. Some become oldies acts that create no new magic but simply repeat what has already been done over and over again, not for beauty’s sake, but for cash. And they suffer this as a humiliation and become bitter.

A deep grounding in solitude is necessary to remain vital and creative. Solitude courts the muse. So know this: you have chosen a lonely path.

As you work, you will have to learn to embrace each failure as an unavoidable part of the process. There will be many false starts and errors, and even though it is terrifying, you must continue to err, and to do so on the bold side. Have the audacity to lose face, don’t worry about saving it, and embrace each glorious failure as a necessary part of the journey. The chief danger in songwriting (and life) is taking too many precautions. There is a very real relationship between what you contribute and what you get out of this life, but satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. The point of the work is the work. Being vulnerable in your work will bring you strength.

And here is a final warning.

If you do succeed and people come to know your name and your songs, the creative process gets harder, not easier.

Fame and success attracts parasites, clingers on, and wannabe’s. These non-creators will do everything in their power to attach to the light around you thinking it will bring them out of their own darkness. It will not, but they do not know this. If you let them in, their hungry mouths will suck the light from you and when you are emptied they will simply move on and attach to someone else’s glow. You must rid your life of these people, or suffer their debilitating and soul crushing manipulations.

Fame and success also bring laziness, and ego swelling. With success comes the confusion of believing you are doing great work, backed up by the reassurance of people on your payroll, when you are not. It is easy to become delusional and get lost.

Fame is a full time job. So is songwriting. A choice is often required.

Choose wisely.

So then, again the point of all this work is simply the work. Struggle is the path, and there is no destination, only the path. We do not get “there.” There is no there. There is only here, now, on the path, in the struggle. We all must face the daunting blank page in front of each of us each morning. In this, we are all alike. I wish courage and perseverance for you as you embark on this life’s work of writing songs. You will need it.

A letter to a young songwriter from Mary Gauthier

“Little Sister” by Kathy Holmes and the Screamie Birds (Song of the Day)

Having so much fun with “Little Sister” after listening to the Rayford Brothers at Downtown Disney, I decided to try my shot at recording some rehearsal vocals. This song also has personal meaning to me, because I grew up with a sister 10 years younger than me –  the age gap didn’t stop her from liking the same guys I did – even when she was only 5 – lol!

So here’s to little sisters everywhere.