Goodbye July or “What I Did While Trying to Make Disneyland Dining Reservations”

This is the story of how I wrote yesterday’s poem and turned it into a song early this morning while trying to make Disneyland dining reservations.

The night before last I was awake during the night looking at the calendar on my iPhone trying to make Disneyland dining reservations (which is such a crapshoot these days), realizing I couldn’t make September ressies for at least one more day, if I was lucky. Staring at the month of July, I was thinking about how July may be my least favorite month – certainly living in the hotter states I’ve lived in like Southern Nevada and Central Florida. Will July ever end?

I then jotted down those lyrics.

Last night I was awake during the night doing the same staring at the calendar thing, trying again to snag Disneyland dining reservations, and I thought, “I must write the music for those lyrics.” I did snag some ressies, so then I got up at around 4 am and recorded this song, trying not to sing too loudly so I wouldn’t awaken my husband and cats – lol!

It was a lot of fun and came out better than I thought it would. Hope you enjoy!

July (#Lyric #Poem)

And July goes on and on and on
Hot days, long days
Never been a fan
Except for

Birthday parties, frilly pink ribbons
Angel food cake and pink frosting
Ice cream on a fancy plate
Pink candles lit on the cake

And July goes on and on and on
Hot days, long days
Never been a fan
Except for

Playing catch in the street
Disneyland fireworks in the sky
Roy Orbison on the hifi
Ice clinking in the glass
After Shirtless dads mowing the grass

And July goes on and on and on
Hot days, long days
Never been a fan
Except for

Koolaid, popcorn and Beatles 45s
Never heard the F word or “Not gonna lie”
Motown, Photoplay, days at the beach
Coppertone, skates and surfboards,
all within my reach

And July goes on and on and on
Never been a fan
Hot days, long days…

#Free Download of “Real Women Wear Red,” the Prequel to “She’s Not That Good”

When 40-something Kate “Cyn” Francis changes her name, her hair color, and her age in order to snag a younger man on a Caribbean cruise, the last thing she expects is to fall overboard for a Cary Grant look-alike.

Sandy Brown, 20-something and eager to get over a broken heart, is also looking for love.

Millie Evans, having recently sold her publishing empire, is on a succession of one-week cruises, looking to reconnect with a past love.

But this is no ordinary love boat. Three women, three generations, all connected in an unexpected way. And it’s more than sharing the same motto that “real women wear red.”

Free download for the next 5 days.

Read She’s Not That Good on Kindle Vella here.

Episode 4 of “She’s Not That Good” Live on #Kindle #Vella

 “In that moment, I knew I could no longer listen to those who whispered ‘She’s not that good.’ “ From now on, I knew I was a normal, every day, real woman, and real women were good enough. – Brandi from She’s Not That Good, a “Real Women” series.

I’d gone back and forth about naming this book–I’d thought about “Real Women Are Good Enough” because She’s Not That Good is really book 3 of the “Real Women” series (Real Women Wear Red and Real Women Sing the Blues. But it’s also a standalone–you don’t have the read books 1 and 2 to enjoy book 3–and “She’s Not That Good” just sounds catchy to me – as if it was a song – lol!

On the plus side, if you really enjoyed the previous books, well, here’s the long-awaited Mexican Riviera chapter, or should I said episode? You needn’t wait any longer–it’s now being released episode by episode via the new Kindle Vella.

We’re all learning how to navigate this new Kindle Vella episodic fiction series, but what we know now is that the first 3 episodes are free. Starting with the 4th episode, you need to unlock the story via tokens. So now… the rubber hits the road with episode 4.

So, with excitement and trepidation, episode 4 of She’s Not That Good is now live. I’ve noticed that I’ve had a few reads on the free episodes. Will somebody spend their tokens on episode 4? Guess I’ll find out.

Read Episode 4, “Embarkation Station,” here.

 

“She’s Not That Good,” 1st 3 #Free Episodes on #Kindle #Vella, Are Live

Kindle Vella is Amazon’s new episodic fiction series (similar to Radish and WattPad), and nobody really knows how this thing is going to work. But I do know this: the first 3 episodes are free and after that, if you’d like to keep reading the series, you download them with tokens you purchase.

I decided to go ahead and make the first 3 free episodes of She’s Not That Good available on Kindle Vella now with new episodes uploaded once a week. I still haven’t decided which day of the week that will be. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about:

She’s Not That Good (A Humorous Romance Novel)

Failing to launch an adult career, Brandi Redwine searches for something she is good at. After chasing music and an ex to Nashville, she returns to San Francisco feeling like a loser. Her best friend steps in and recommends her for an opportunity to compete for a job onboard a cruise ship in Mexico. Her high school sweetheart is also on board, and his girlfriend is also in the competition. Will Brandi’s future rest on one final performance, or will she realize she is good enough as she is?

Available Episodes (remember, the first 3 are free):

Episode 1, “She’s Not That Good”

Episode 2, “An Unlikely Job Search”

Episode 3, “Cruising for My Future”

“She’s Not That Good,” Episode 1, Now Available for #Free Download on #Kindle #Vella

Yes, I’ve gone and done it. I decided to give serial fiction writing a try and have uploaded my first Episode of my first book (She’s Not That Good) here.

In case you don’t know, Kindle Vella is a new thing Amazon is trying – similar to other serial fiction sites such as Radish, etc. The first 3 episodes are free, and then if you want to continue reading the serial you use credits to purchase them.

Episode 2 will be available next Friday, July 23 and every Friday after that until this series is finished.

Hope you’ll give my books a try.

White Wine (#lyric #poem)

White wine in the evening
Is not good for sleeping
Eyes snap open every hour on the hour
Brain is whirling with Samson-like power

Thumbing through Kindle for temporary distraction
Writing poems for lyrics and 50/90 reaction
Using the time given, borrowing from daytime
Vocals too tired to steady the night”s rhymes

Making big plans in the dark of the night
Counting the minutes til earth’s morning light
Struggling to function for long in the morning
Reminding me of truth that comes as a warning

White wine in the evening
Is not good for sleeping

First Song for 50/90 2021 #lyrics #music #producer #LogicProX

A Lifetime

Lyrics*

A lifetime is a long time to never have known you
Decisions were made without your consent
Birthdays and Christmas and favorite Sunday dinners
Counting the measures never ending torment

Photos displayed on a beachy white dresser
The cross prays for family unknown to the pastors
Strumming the coasts in search of heart’s answers
Mothers in hiding and cruel puppet masters

The child pays the price for adults who are wounded
The cycle must end in choices not taken
Letting go of love for what can never happen
Walking day to day with a soul deeply shaken

(Repeat)

*Inspired by the #lyric #poem I wrote here.

“One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop (#poetry)

I’ve been reading How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry by Edward Hirsch and when I read “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop, I fell in love, to quote my dad. (It’s copyrighted so I can only provide a link to it on poetryfoundation.org.)

And then that very day, Austin Kleon just happened to mention an article in the NY Times where they dissected it. What???

I so related to the message of the poem itself, but what then intrigued me was the form of this particular poem—villanelle—nineteen lines divided into six stanzas—five tercets and one quatrain—turning on two rhymes and built around two refrains. The first and third lines rhyme throughout, as do the middle lines of each stanza. The first and third lines become the refrain of alternate stanzas and the final two lines of the poem.

I don’t usually go for tightly-formed poems, only if my instincts guide me into those same forms. Or maybe Mr. Clukas’ poetry class sunk in deeper than I’d thought – lol!

But I must write one of these. The concept is just so lyrical. And because it is a strict form, I probably won’t do it in the middle of the night on my iPhone, but will, indeed, have to sit at my computer and think it through.

The Mystery of My Heart (#lyric #poem)

What is the meaning behind the mystery of my heart
That tugs so hard no matter how near or how far
I need to know
I really need to know

Feelings of rapture keep me tied up in thought
Is it hindering my future or
Is it the light shining on where I ought
I need to know
I really need to know

Years of security were a blessing indeed
Was it worth the price of choosing not to leave
I need to know
I really need to know

Did the lies I believed underneath the grief
Kill the truth of the story of the resident thief
I need to know
I really need to know

Memories of home and childhood innocence
Destroyed any chance of building fences
Which would I choose if I’d had all the facts
Who would I be, how would I act
This is the mystery of a life without answers
To questions I have for happily ever after
I need to know
I really need to know

A Lifetime (#lyric #poem)

A lifetime is a long time to never have known you
A decision was made without your consent
Birthdays and Christmas and favorite Sunday dinners
Counting the measures of unceasing torment

Photos displayed on a beachy white dresser
The cross prays for family unknown to the pastors
Strumming the coasts in search of heart’s answers
Mothers in hiding and cruel puppet masters

The child pays the price for adults who are wounded
The cycle must end in choices not taken
Letting go of love for what can never happen
Walking day to day with a soul deeply shaken

Triumph is yours when light faces dark
Staring the truth down a long lonely barrel
Companions who appear like angels of laughter
Are gifts you ignore to your everlasting peril

A lifetime is a long time to never have known you
Decisions made with or without our consent
Offer moments in hours of restless slumber
Awake counting treasures of unceasing relent

Questions (#Lyric #Poem)

If I asked mere questions, it wasn’t to gossip
But to fill in the air that poetry leaves
Like whispering trees or a dripping faucet
Rushing Hardy Falls where I once grieved

How can you know the buttons and the brass
Internally observed when cutting teeth
Sitting in Mr. Clukas’ poetry class
Deprived of your presence like the air that I breathe

If I seemed to you rude when I inquired within
It wasn’t to make a judgment of some mortal sin
I came to you with nothing but a clean, blank slate
Looking for you to fill it like your favorite plate

Breaking Out of “Cave Syndrome” with the Help of Tommy Bahama

After over a year of isolation, writing and producing music in my home studio, I had a feeling I would find it difficult to get back to “normal” life. I’d remembered how during a time in the Bay Area in-between jobs, I found it difficult to leave Fremont to commute to San Jose. And after this past year when my world shrank even more, I would not be surprised if I struggled to go out for fun.

We’d gone to SoCal a few times for special events at Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland, but I kept finding reasons not to go out to a restaurant here in Las Vegas. Rich kept making reservations at Tommy Bahama, but I talked him into ordering in from various places instead.

But when I found myself sitting in the garage Friday afternoon waiting for Rich to finish his work day in his upstairs office, reading about “Cave Syndrome,” I knew it was time to take steps.

Rich made another reservation at Tommy’s and we actually went. But walking to the restaurant from the parking garage, passing strangers wearing the usual masks, I wondered if I was truly ready. Had this thing changed me forever, leaving me in a mental haze where all of life seems a bit dim?

But as soon as we were seated, we noticed that unlike Disney, we were not required to sit there wearing masks until our food arrived, and, unlike Disney, our server was mask free (allowed if vaccinated), my heart leapt with joy! Suddenly, life was feeling a lot rosier, the fog began to lift. And by the time my Blood Orange Margarita and Rich’s Key Lime Martini arrived, I was downright ecstatic!

I began to feel hopeful that there is, indeed, life after Covid, that I can do the WDW trip, and that maybe even our November cruise is possible! It was quite a watershed moment.

Sound Familiar? #Push2 #AbletonLive #Fun

So I’m playing around with some sounds during a melody practice tutorial for Ableton Live’s Push2 and I stumble across the “ACME Organ” sample and start playing some notes. Does the beginning sound familiar? No doubt if you’re a Disney fan.

Somehow my finger (ear) finds these things right off the bat, which can be annoying when you’re trying to come up with something semi-original (what is really original these days?). So then I start doing my own variation. I confess I love playing around with sounds.

And I guess I really am in the mood to get back to Disneyland/Disney World.

How Silicon Valley Prepared Me for Book and Music Production

Reading It’s All About Him, written by Alan Jackson’s wife, Denise, I’m thinking how when I heard “Here in the Real World,” back in 1992, working in book production at a Silicon Valley high-tech firm, I thought he’d really made it. But when the song came out in 1990, he was far from making it at all. Living in a tiny basement apartment in Nashville with a pregnant wife, “Here in the Real World” was the second song his label had released and it was unclear whether they would keep him or drop him.

I started thinking about how successful I felt in Silicon Valley when I moved into technical writing, earning writing and publishing awards from the “Society of Technical Publications.” I sometimes say I got my PhD in that world, and, for the most part, it was a really awesome fit for me: the companies I worked for, the people I worked with (eventually marrying one of my co-workers), and the opportunities it brought me.

I would later grow wearing of that stressful, high-pressure day-to-day life, Las Vegas became my relaxing getaway, wondering what it would be like to be a cocktail waitress – lol! Eventually, my heart would start leading me to more creative pursuits.

I began writing fiction, starting with short stories as part of the well-known  “The Writer’s Loft” program in Chicago. I moved into fiction and by the time I wrote my third novel, Real Women Wear Red, at the height of the Chick Lit boom, I got an agent, and was offered a publishing contract.

Long story short, when the Indie author movement started going strong, I was able to use my book production skills to publish as an Indie author. I’ve done better as an Indie than I did when I was with publishers, certainly, the smaller publishers.

But then that market became oversaturated and I kept dreaming of my first love, music. In my youth, I didn’t pursue music as an artist because I knew you had to be spectacular to make it and while I’d sung a bit here and there, I wasn’t spectacular by a long shot. And I didn’t know of any other music path, at least not one I was interested in.

Fast forward to today with the ability to produce your own music in your own studio. Now I see that those same book production skills (with a propensity toward software) I learned in Silicon Valley help me now with continuing to learn new music production skills.

Push2 is the latest instrument I’m learning and with that and my Novation Launchkey keyboard, I’m hoping to advance more in more in creating my own melodies, instead of relying on loops and samples. Recently, a collab partner from FAWM told me he wants to release one of our songs commercially, but the melody was not copyright free so we could not use it. Between his piano skills and my production skills, I think we’ve come up with something we can use instead.

I have no idea where music will take me, even if it’s just the thrill of making it for myself, but I’m excited when I think about how far I’ve come from Silicon Valley production editor to producing my own music.

 

How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy (#BookReviews)

“Read Like an Artist,” this week’s topic for Austin Kleon‘s weekly newsletter, mentions his new book club. And the first book in this book club is How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy. That grabbed my attention immediately.

I started reading the sample and then proceeded to deactivate Twitter one more time. Yes, I’d reactivated about a week or so ago. Big mistake! Now I start the 30-day countdown all over again. Here’s hoping I make it this time.

The thing with Twitter is it can be fun, but too often it disappoints. People ignore you or don’t reciprocate when you outwardly support them. Those are the good days. And then you realize Twitter exists just to create chaos and war. After the last 14 months, I don’t need another war right now. So this book came at just the right time.

And now I’m going to do absolutely nothing, except purchase this book and enjoy the day reading.

Have a great weekend!

Life is a Series of Naps, Ghost Writers, and Such (#BookReviews)

My life at home these days seems to be a series of naps. I often wake up somewhere in the 1 to 4 am range, maybe because I’ve slept from 1 or 2 to 3 or 4 pm. During that middle-of-the-night awakening, I grab my smart phone and open up my Kindle app to read or write a poem or both.

The book I’m reading now is called Lost and Found in Italy: True stories that prove your ‘Nuova Vita’ awaits you on the other side of your breaking point .

It’s intriguing, no doubt, at least to me, but the writing style is really starting to bug me. It feels unnatural. It reminds me of a similar book I read (or almost read because I couldn’t read the whole thing – at least, not yet) called The Latin Hit Maker: My Journey From Cuban Refugee to World-Renowned Record Producer and Songwriter.

The writing style in both books is very similar and unnatural. At least to me. The voice feels identical as if the same person wrote both books. I know that ghostwriters are quite popular these days (I interviewed for a romance ghost writing position but they wanted me to work 7 days a week with such a high word count quote paid in pennies that I turned them down).

Bummer! I was really into both stories, but struggling with how the stories are being told. Is it me or is it them?