Blogmas, Day 25: Ghost of Christmas Past (#blogmas)

Standing in the toy aisle of ABC, a discount warehouse store in Southern California where we did our bi-monthly grocery shopping way before there was Walmart or Costco or Target, I inhaled the scent of plastic dolls brightly packaged and stacked on ceiling-high shelves. There was something magical about Christmas, even the small piece I got to celebrate.

Presents would definitely be stacked on a wall in the living room once they were revealed from their hiding places such as the hall closet. Creative shapes such as giraffes and other creatures would entertain the kids. Perhaps they wouldn’t notice there was no tree, decorations, or that the presents would be opened on the day or two before Christmas.

Visiting the neighbors across the street, I was mesmerized by the silver tree decorated just inside the front door with strings of Christmas cards hung across the top, and presents underneath. And the romance of the beautiful Christmas carols I sang with the school choir with my mother and brother in the audience was a night to remember. My step dad was usually missing, but, then, he often worked at night.

Somewhere around New Year’s neighborhood parties would hold sway. Roy Orbison on the stereo, mixed nuts, ruffled potato chips and French onion dip served in gold-leaf dishes set the stage. After too many Screwdrivers and other cocktails, the parents would sleep in and we’d get out of bed hoping to share in some of the spoils from the night before.

“Hello ‘der” told the story of somebody’s mom and somebody’s dad when the day finally greeted them after crawling out of bed. A Polaroid photo of another dad with one leg out of his pants revealing his boxers revealed more to the kids than they’d planned on.

I was thankful I had gifts and no matter what day we opened them, at least when we returned to school in the new year and when kids asked what I got for Christmas, I had answers to give. My mother said one year they were tempted to put up a tree, but what would happen if my Jehovah’s Witness grandmother should show up and see it? I remember what happened when she caught us with an American Flag for Flag Day.

Today, all of that is behind me. Today, I embrace Christmas trees, cards, carols, and all the bright lights to somehow give myself what I had missed. It’s never quite enough. What is enough is living the promise I sang in those songs about Bethlehem and mangers, wise men, drummer boys, silver bells, and bright stars. But most of all, Little Lord Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Merry Christmas!

 

Blogmas, Day 24: War of Art (#blogmas)

War of Art by Steven Pressfield was one of the books circling the Writing Community back when I first started writing. For some reason, I recently dug it out (on Kindle) and reread it. And then I downloaded the follow-up book Do the Work. I highly recommend it if you have any desire at all about pursuing art as a profession instead of a hobby or anything in-between.

I’ve been juggling writing and music, unsure about how to pursue which one. Is one my profession and the other hobby or both professions or both hobbies? What do I really want to accomplish with either?

One reason I did the December book tour for Déjà Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon and #Blogmas featuring all of my books, was to see if I could get my writing career back moving in the forward direction it had been moving before social media and the new algorithm, before the saturation of other books and writers, before fantasy and vampires and erotica took over the world (or whatever it was that halted that forward momentum), to see how serious readers and the Universe are about me as a writer. But, perhaps, the real reason for the turn was to turn me toward my real calling, which just might be music.

I’ve tried to pursue both, but I really think you need to choose one or the other if you’re going to pursue any as a profession. Besides the tours, as a good-bye salute, I’ve also made sure all of my books are available in paperback as well as Kindle. Some had only been available in digital form. I guess I’m wrapping things up to prepare the way to move on.

Of course, if the world clamors for my books on Amazon, breathing new life into my writing career, okay, then I’ll get that message to keep providing new books. Otherwise, I’m going to assume music is my future calling and 2020 is the time to go all in.

 

Blogmas, Day 23: The Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon Book Tour Wraps Up (#blogmas)

Since the book tour extends beyond Blogmas, I thought I’d list the last 4 stops on this post. And then I can talk about other things to wrap up Blogmas for this year.

Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon Book Tour Final Stops:

Monday, December 23 – All the Ups and Downs

Thursday, December 26- Jazzy Book Reviews

Friday, December 27: Gimme the Scoop

Friday, December 27: All About Books

And that’s a wrap for December’s book tour.

That leaves two more days of Blogmas. Hopefully we can find something fun to talk about. See ya real soon!

Blogmas, Day 22: Booze Candy at the Cactus Garden (#blogmas)

One of our annual traditions here in Las Vegas is to visit the lights at the Cactus Garden (Ethel M’s) and to pick up some booze candy – lol!

Each year we try to get there around dusk to beat the crowds before the night bursts into full swing. Each year I take photos but the lights are difficult to photograph well, at least with my iPhone – lol! But each year I try anyway, I can’t resist – it’s such a fun Christmas outing.

There is an assortment of liquor or non liquor candy collections or you can build your own, but this is our favorite:

They must be eaten within two weeks. Oh darn!

Blogmas, Day 21: 2020 Hopes and Dreams (#blogmas)

I mentioned in an earlier post that I would write about my hopes and dreams for 2020 and what’s changing and what’s not. But all I can think about now is that my dream for 2020 is about a house. And getting through this in-between place.

The place in-between is almost always a tough place to be. Long nights, fitful sleep, trying not to dream too much about the future. Writing middle-of-the-night poetry.

Just when I think I cannot endure yet another countdown, another new build (oh, woe is me, right?), okay, maybe in my defense I will say that we just went through this two years ago. Two years ago we’d just moved into our new house in Florida. Yep, after selling our house in Vegas, we moved clear across the country, squeezing our stuff and our little family of four (two are cats) into a small apartment in Florida.

For seven months there we were, bedroom dresser in the kitchen (bedroom was too small), boxes packed in storage, hauling our groceries to the third floor dodging lightning and thunder. And then halfway through the build, watching, watching, watching, evacuating to Nashville (Hurricane Irma), watching, watching, watching. It seemed like the process took forever. And now here we are back in Las Vegas waiting for a another new house to begin again. Yes, woe is me. What a problem to have, right? But we all have our daily struggles.

The real problem is what you have to live in during that in-between place. This place is rather funky. That’s one way to put it. The one saving grace was the casita I was using for my studio. Not just my own space inside the house where I could set up my own writing and music studio, but it was outside the house in a separate building. I loved that space. My space. But now it’s got problems making it practically unusable. We’ve put in a work request. But will they fix it? And when? Ah, yes, that is the question.

Thinking back to my childhood, I remember leaving our first brand new home when I was six and moving to a new city near the beach in Southern California. We were living in a small apartment waiting for another new house to be built. I celebrated my seventh birthday in that apartment, that apartment where I got my first electric organ. I had that thing for years. I don’t remember now what happened to it.

Anyway, as a kid, I didn’t notice how hard it was to live in a temporary place while waiting for the new house to build. As a kid, I remember the excitement of touring the new house in framing and choosing my bedroom. As I kid, I remember the apartment swimming pool where I learned to swim (where I cracked my chin on the side of the pool and had to get stitches.) But I also remember my mother struggling with the in-between situation, especially when the landlord complained about my brother and me being too nosy or throwing paper out the slider or something that kids do, right? Ha!

I remember other people’s new builds. Like when my step dad’s sisters were building new houses on their ranch properties in the Central Valley. Talk about scary places to live. They seemed like rundown shacks to me. I didn’t even want to visit them there. But I also remember the brand new beautiful homes they built and the fun times we had visiting them over the years throughout their lives. I even wrote a song about one of them, and called it “Road 24.”

I see looking back that even the in-between times are good. The Florida apartment I thought I’d never endure? Well now I look back and hold onto those memories because Skipper was still with us back then. He celebrated his 18th birthday in the new house and loved it so but now he’s gone and so my memories of him blessed that Florida apartment. In that Florida apartment he was still with us.

I wonder now why we moved to Florida if we were just going to move back to Vegas. If we hadn’t left, we’d still be living in our comfortable house and not going through all of this. But we’d have also missed out on that amazing two-year Florida adventure. And I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that.

So I try to be patient, enjoy the moments and the memories we’re making in this “in-between” place, and look expectantly toward the future, the new house in 2020, setting up my new studio where I will be, hopefully, making music, making memories, and writing stories. I can’t really choose between writing and music after all.

 

 

 

Blogmas, Day 20: Missing Dad at Christmas (#blogmas)

As it turns out, Blogmas seems to be one big promo of my Déjà Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon book tour, not to mention my other novels. But the one novel I haven’t mentioned yet is Letters on Balboa Island, the most meaningful book I’ve written. And the one my dad absolutely adored. This may be the second Christmas without him on earth, but truth be told, I’ve never spent Christmas with my dad.

The story of my search for my father and what I discovered it all meant to me has been documented in Myths of the Fatherless. It was written early in the search and I’ve been thinking of updating it at some point, perhaps it might be helpful to me or to someone to include the introspective time I’ve had since then. The difficult part for me now is that it’s over. There’s no more hope that things might turn out differently. But I can appreciate the time we did have together.

LETTERS ON BALBOA ISLAND

bi_cover_final_150“When I was seventeen, I knew two things that were true: (1) You couldn’t help but meet a man in a military uniform in southern California in the 1950s, and (2) Sooner or later, men would leave. ” – Rosalie

When Rosalie Martin chooses to spend her life with a military man in the post Korean War era of the 1950s, she can’t forget another she met during the war. And when letters surface on Balboa Island years later, she realizes she may have chosen the wrong man. So when fate offers her the chance to make a different choice, will she? Or has she lived a life of lies for too long?

AVAILABLE NOW on Amazon.com for Kindle and in Paperback.

Blogmas, Day 19: Carnival’s Latest Fun Ship: The Panorama (#blogmas #cruising #carnival #panorama)

In the midst of all this holiday busyness and blog tour is the launch of Carnival’s latest Fun Ship, the Panorama, a long-awaited Vista-class ship to sail out of Long Beach. Finally, Carnival has given us West Coasters a brand new ship.

As some of you may know, my first novel to acquire an agent and publishing deal was Real Women Wear Red, set on a Caribbean cruise. Those were exciting times. RWWR got a lot of attention and still, to-date, is my best-selling novel. I wrote a sequel, Real Women Sing the Blues, also set on a cruise ship (this time Hawaii). My current wip (She’s Not That Good) is set on a cruise ship (Mexican Riviera), and even Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon has a cruise scene or two in it.

The holidays are one of my favorite times to cruise. It’s a really nice way to get together with family or even as a couple or solo – easier to take the holidays if you’re out to sea surrounded by other friendly cruisers.

So if you can’t get away on a cruise this year (I know I can’t), why not sail vicariously through one of my novels? Check out my Books page or the list of books in the sidebar.

 

Blogmas, Day 18: Two Stops for Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon (#blogmas)

Today I’ve got two stops:

Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon is the book feature at:

  1. T’s Stuff
  2. The Bookworm Lodge

The tour is heating up before the year winds down. At the end of the tour, I’ll talk about some changes I’m considering and why, and my goals for 2020. See ya later!

Blogmas, Day 17: Interview at A Blue Million Books (#blogmas)

As it gets closer to Christmas and the deeper I get into this blog tour, the less I seem to have to say about, well, anything. lol! So I’ll let my interview featuring Déjà Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon on “A Blue Million Books” speak for me.

This site is fun and very friendly to Indie Authors. Who knows what you may find over there?

Blogmas, Day 16: Guest on “As The Page Turns” (#blogmas) for Deja Vu Book Tour

We’re back on track with the book tour for Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon and today finds me as a guest on “As the Page Turns.” How fun is that?

I must confess, as this is my first Blogmas, I started to worry that I wasn’t focusing on Christmas exactly the way Blogmas may be intentioned. But I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the anticipation of Christmas than hanging out with other bloggers and book lovers, sharing my love for writing and reading. Of course, I hope that you’ll find one of my books that interests you, maybe for yourself or as a gift for somebody else. I’d love to hear from you to see what you thought.

See you on the next stop!