2019: the Year of Many Firsts for Me in Music

It’s that time of year when we start looking back over the year to see how we did in whatever we’d hoped to pursue or accomplish at the stroke of midnight New Year’s Eve the year before.

So, as I start to look back on 2018, I realize there were many firsts for me musically. And while February may have brought my second FAWM, July through September enticed me to try my first 50/90 (write 50 songs in 90 days challenge). During that time, I even took on the challenge of trying out Ableton Live 10 (Standard Version). I’m now upgrading to Suite with so much more to learn yet.

All of that was so much fun, making friends and sharing music with other musicians, I couldn’t resist participating in my first Rocktober (Rock cover songs done your way) in October. Now I’m counting down to the next FAWM, looking forward to meeting up with some of my new friends, to see what they’re doing musically, and to see how far I hope to come by February.

Listening to some of the songs I wrote/produced this year, one of my favorites is Pop the Clutch:

The Imperfections of a Narcissist (#poetry #introtopoetry)

Day 6 prompt is “imperfect” – limerick for bonus points.

“Imperfect” and “Narcissist” cannot be in existence
In an ode so short or very long sentence
By definition a narcissist cannot be imperfect
If you call them out, they will enrage or deflect
No matter how you may wish or provide concrete evidence

The Journey Home (#poetry #introtopoetry)

Day 4 writing prompt is “journey.” Use of simile for bonus points. I’ve been under the weather so I’m not sure how much effort I can put into this.

Searching for that “one wise man”
My journey took me from California to Florida three times back I ran
Like a fish out of water, the Prodigal daughter, I came home again

No father waiting with open arms
His love and attention for me I was starved
Denying the power and lack that brings harm

Embracing me and what I can bring
Writing and music and listening to Thee
Is the greatest gift beyond all belief

 

New Cover for “Real Women Sing the Blues” for New Release of Paperback Version

I’m excited to announce the paperback release of Real Women Sing the Blues, book 2 in the Real Women Wear Red series. With that comes a brand new cover, which I’m really proud of.

Now that Amazon’s Kindle program has widened the publishing options to paperback, I’m releasing new paperbacks for my Kindle books. Because Real Women Wear Red was published before this option was available, I’m looking at republishing it in paperback on Amazon. That will make the pricing much more attractive to readers.

REAL WOMEN SING THE BLUES

RWSB_new_cover_125“In that moment, I knew I could no longer be a Wall Street monkey, and somewhere out there Blue Hawaii was calling my name.” – Robin from Real Women Sing the Blues

When the women of Real Women Wear Red return from their Caribbean cruise, each woman must deal with the consequences of secrets shared onboard ship.

Millie’s secret sends Robin reeling all the way to Blue Hawaii, and she finds herself chasing Moondoggie and singing the Blues. This sets off the “Millie Domino Effect.”

Millie chases after Robin and Monterey Jack chases after Millie.

Cyn joins Robin and Millie on the cruise when her “Cary Grant” gets too serious too fast. And Sandy runs to Cyn for motherly comfort when her shipboard romance blows up.

Four women, four islands, and a seven-night cruise to Paradise. Is there life after they go Hawaiian or will they end up singing the Blues?

AVAILABLE NOW on Amazon.com for Kindle and Paperback.

A Friend’s Betrayal (#poetry #introtopoetry)

Day Three’s writing prompt is “friend” – a positive or negative experience. Build in an acrostic (the first letter of each line spells a word or phrase) for bonus points.

For fifty years we had been friends
Ignorant in the ways of the world of sex
Filled with plans for a bright future ahead
Torn apart by a move of long-distance
Yet, later life brought us together again

Yellow as bright as the sun colored the skirt in Home-Ec
Elvis brought us giggles in Journalism class
An afternoon concert at the local fairgrounds
Reckoned a kiss from Glen Campbell’s lips
So special a friendship nothing could wreck

And then Facebook tore apart what I could not sense
Grounded out our friendship until it was dead
On the basis of something I said you took offense

A Veteran’s Face (#poetry #introtopoetry #VeteransDay)

Intro to Poetry (Day Two) suggests writing a poem about a face of any kind. Alliteration for bonus points.

It came out of nowhere yesterday
Hitting me in the heart
Numbing my identity
As if I were a nameless nobody
Belting me with a break so sharp
A photo of a Navy Veteran’s face
His memory I cannot erase
Questions asked after so many years
A child staring at the bump on her ear
Wondering “who am I” and “why do I fear?’
Looking in the looking glass
I see the answer staring me in the face
Knowledge I no longer need to chase
A photo is a reminder of our resemblance
So I honor the Veterans as a daughter’s remembrance

YouTube Copyright Claims by Unethical Groups

I’ve really had it with YouTube allowing bogus copyright claims on music producer’s content. For one thing, Apple Loops are royalty free and can be used anywhere. Nobody can claim copyright on them. But it keeps happening – to me and to other music producers. The latest instance was when I recently uploaded a book trailer video for Déjà vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon.

I used my own vocals and piano and drum programming but backed it with some piano Apple Loops. I got a copyright claim notice from somebody named Hexacorp. I couldn’t find anything about them on YouTube itself, so I searched the internet. From what I can tell, they seem to do this a lot – claim copyright on free Apple loops. Totally unethical. And should be illegal. What have they done? Uploaded every free Apple loop and claimed copyright? I can’t imagine but I don’t know how else this is happening.

What’s even more ridiculous is because they now have to identify which section is the copyrighted material, the part they identified was looped throughout so why just single that section? It’s beyond belief what YouTube allows, and I’m so tired of filing these disputes to get the copyright claim lifted, when it’s all bogus!

It’s not like I’m trying to build a channel and monetize it. I just need a place to host my videos so I can share them with others. So what’s my recourse? I could just not use loops or I can edit them to change them up in hopes that my music won’t receive a copyright claim. But better yet, I’m thinking of upgrading my WordPress account so that I can use the video hosting feature. Yes, it’ll cost me a few extra bucks a month, but I’d rather retain control over my content – not allow some crook to claim it in hopes of making money off of me.

In the meantime, I wait to get a response from the so-called “owners” of the copyright claim. They have 30 days to respond. I’m here to fight it out, if necessary, before I delete my YouTube account and host my own videos. Another lesson in regaining control over your content – don’t trust social media sites where you have no real ownership.

 

Happy Halloween or Good-bye Rocktober, Hello NanoWriMo?

My daily challenge is – where do I spend my time? Work on my latest wip or write/produce new music? After 50/90, a 3-month challenge to write 50 songs (I wrote 40), followed by Rocktober where you cover rock songs, putting your own spin on it, I’m pretty sure I’m going to devote the rest of this this year to writing/rewriting my 2 wips (my nod to NanoWriMo this year), followed by a blog tour for the paperback edition of my novel Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon. I’m also creating music for the book trailer for the blog tour of DV and I also want to create a track list for my wip.

Other than these 2 projects, I’m thinking that other music will have to wait until next year. But I can’t wait to get back to it when I see my charting position on Reverbnation:

Yep, that’s me in the #2 position for EDM in Las Vegas. Help me get to #1 by following me on Twitter and/or  Reverbnation.

Thank you!

Happy Halloween!

The Real Blue Diamond Saloon in Las Vegas from “Déjà Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon”

The real Blue Diamond Saloon is getting some press from “Gaming Today.” I used to drive past the Blue Diamond Saloon often and the name caught my attention for my psychological suspense novel, Déjà Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon.

I purposely didn’t go inside, because I didn’t want reality to affect my fictional world. So check it out and then read my version and see which one you like best.

Déjà vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon

dejavu_frontcover

Nikki Durrance escaped the worst nightmare of her life when she fled Las Vegas for San Francisco, leaving her husband behind at the Blue Diamond Saloon. So when the perfect Dr. Mike Fischer proposes, she accepts. But when her new Mr. Right begins to transform into a guy just like her ex-husband, she begins to question everything, including her sanity.

Nikki longs to trust Mike, but with an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu, Nikki’s fear propels her into discoveries of betrayals and underworld connections that will send her running for her life again.

AVAILABLE now on Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble, and other online retailers and on Amazon.com in Paperback.

EXCERPT

“Everything in Las Vegas looks better at night,” I thought as I peeked out the window of my upstairs office.

The dusty, thirsty, lifeless terrain transforms into an Alice in Twinkle land and the neon electrifies the Las Vegas strip. The barren stretches of nothingness surrounding the valley of so-called normal life vanishes from view. But nothing is normal in a place where gambling is invasive—it’s in the grocery stores, it’s in McDonald’s, and it’s in every neighborhood corner where a neon sign flashes “gambling and cocktails.”

Leo the grocer startled me when he appeared at the front door of our Las Vegas house—the one we’d dreamed of when we were squished into a tiny one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco. But that house felt like a prison with its tomb-like shades covering the windows to prevent the harsh, desert sun from scorching the inside of the house.

When I ran downstairs to open the front door, he handed me a package of ice. Because this is how Vegas works—when you check out at the grocery store, the clerk asks if you need ice, and if you’re lucky, they’ll deliver it to you on short notice. It would be such a shame if you had the sudden urge to make a martini and be out of ice. Especially if you had a surprise guest like I did that hot August night.

I felt Jeff’s breath on my neck, the belt buckle he wore when he played Texas Hold ‘Em pushing against me, and so I pulled away and asked, “What’s the ice for?”

“Drinks with Gabrielle,” he said.

“Gabrielle?”

“Yes, she’s over there.” I looked in the direction he was pointing, as Leo drove off and a woman wearing a black leather mini-skirt and tank-top stepped out of a taxi. Wearing stilettos, she posed in such a way that time stood still, portraying an air of confidence. Stunned that he knew the half-sister I had never met, I drank in the details of her appearance. She looked nothing like she did in the picture she’d sent me–brunette with medium-length hair. Now she had pure white spiked hair, the exact color Jeff described when he insisted I bleach my almost black hair.

She approached our front door and said, “You’ve lost weight.” I’ve lost weight? What did she know about me? I’d planned on sending her my photo, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet.

Jeff stepped forward, “Please, come in, make yourself at home.”

I fingered my wind-blown hair and glanced at my unkempt clothes. This was not how I’d imagined I’d be dressed when I met Gabrielle for the first time. My enormous closet in the master bathroom, part of an even larger master suite, full of clothes for every occasion—for golf, tennis, or evening wear at some elegant function on the Strip. Because if there was one thing true about my husband was that he loved to impress others with a well-dressed wife.

Jeff led us into the living room, moved the cat off the couch and said, “Please, sit here” to Gabrielle but then turned to me, “Shouldn’t you be getting dressed?”

I didn’t wait around long enough to see if Gabrielle sat down or not, but I heard soft laughter and ice tinkling from the kitchen. Jeff must be making his special cocktail—what he called a French Martini joking that he named it after me. Pineapple juice, vodka, Chambord, and Vermouth—”What’s so French about that?” I had asked. “Well, you are French, right?” he said, and then he threw his head back and laughed in a maniacal way, as if he knew a secret I did not know.

Uneasiness swept over me leaving Jeff and Gabrielle alone downstairs in my kitchen—the kitchen I took pride in. It was a luxury to finally own such a beautiful, brand-new home and I considered that room to be my private haven. It was where I stood each morning when I gazed at the backyard, lit with the morning desert sun, recalling a similar backyard in my California childhood.

I hurriedly dressed in a pair of black slacks and my favorite black pumps I’d found on sale at the Outlet Mall on Las Vegas Boulevard. I rummaged through the dresser drawers searching for a particular red shirt—because from the way my husband was leering at Gabrielle, I knew it was important I dress my best.

Unable to find it, I put on a black one instead, and grabbed a matching black purse. On my way downstairs I passed my upstairs office where I indulged myself in working on my latest manuscript. The words often failed me then, but when I awoke in the middle of the night to an empty bedroom, I could sit in my office and the lights of South Point Casino calmed me, reassured me. I then wrote until the sun began to peek over the mountains of Henderson in the east in that special hour where the daylight meets the neon. I jumped into bed before Jeff returned from an all-night poker game.

When I’d made my way to the living room, Jeff handed me a drink and the three of us sat down—Jeff in his leather recliner and Gabrielle in the chair next to him—the one I considered my own. I moved our cat, Sam, the name Jeff had insisted on even though he was not a cat lover. I sat down on the couch closest to Jeff as if I was competing with Gabrielle for his attention.

After a quick drink and a brief chat, Jeff suggested we all go to the Blue Diamond Saloon. “They have the best buffet,” Jeff said.

No, it wasn’t the fanciest place, like those casinos on the Strip, but it was a local hangout like so many in Vegas that served food, drinks, and of course, the ubiquitous gambling. The saloon was within walking distance from our home, and Jeff particularly enjoyed the poker games there. Jeff said, “You two go on—I’ll catch up” so Gabrielle and I started walking toward The Blue Diamond Saloon.

Jeff caught up with us, and once we arrived, he sauntered inside as if he owned the place. When I tried to follow him, Gabrielle’s demeanor changed and she gave me a look that said, “You’re so gauche” (after all, according to the emails we’d exchanged, she’d lived in Paris) and she’d indicated she’d expected me to have done the same—with a French name like Nicole and all. But ever since she discovered I hadn’t lived in Paris, she seemed to be slightly disappointed in me. I’d hoped, perhaps, that living in Las Vegas, the “entertainment capital of the world,” would give me some caché, but this was something she dismissed—as if I hadn’t quite mastered being here.

The doorman must have felt the same way, because he refused me admission. This was too weird to even be polite, so I left, and headed for home, stopping by the shop around the front of the club. But all the red shirts cost more than I had on me, and I had left my credit cards in my other purse—the red purse.

When I arrived back home, I noticed the laptop sitting on the white wicker table next to a matching rocking chair in the front entry. When I took a closer look, I saw that the browser was open at Jeff’s poker blog—something he rarely updated. After all, I was the online multi-media professional: writer, blogger, and graphic artist. I read the entry there, with a link to a video he’d posted.

The text said, “Don’t watch unless you have the stomach for it.” So, of course, I clicked on the link. And what I saw filled me with fury, disgust, and hate. It was a video of my husband dressed in my missing red blouse and matching red shorts, with my red purse on his arm, prancing around to some seductive music. And in the background, a neon sign flashed, “The Blue Diamond Saloon.”

Early in our relationship he had revealed how he struggled with his weight when he was younger, and so he took pride in being able to wear my size twelve clothes. In spite of what the fashion industry wanted to believe, I was still below the average size fourteen that most U.S. women wore. I worked hard at keeping my weight down.

But Gabrielle mustn’t be any larger than a size eight, my best guess after viewing Gabrielle wearing nothing but a satin black thong, matching low cut silk black bra, and Jeff’s tie. I recognized it from one of our cruises. She maneuvered a sexy move behind him, danced around him, and smiled into the camera taunting me. A swift kick to my gut told me that today was not the first time they had met.

Then he peered directly into the camera, and snarled, “This is for Sam.” And then right in front of me, in front of the camera, he started making rude fondling movements on Gabrielle’s body while she fondled him in return. I’m a voyeur as much as the next person, but I couldn’t watch anymore. And when I closed the browser window, a message written like a handwritten note said, “RIP, darling,” and then a mock newspaper headline flashed. It said, “Jealous Wife Found Dead at The Blue Diamond Saloon wearing nothing but black pumps.”

Feeling a second swift kick to my gut, I peeked in the closets, the pantry, the cabinets and the rooms upstairs to make sure nobody was in there, waiting for me. Because I was afraid that this time he would make good his idle threats and I’d be dead. Maybe not by his own hands, but I suspected he knew people in low places and somebody someday would murder me. I’d had enough and I knew that it was up to me to remain alive, to get away before tomorrow arrived.

I may appear stupid for hanging around this long, but I wasn’t about to stay any longer, in case my luck had run out. I was afraid the next death threat, the next slap on the face, the next infidelity would mean the end of me.