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!

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.

 

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.

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.

 

The Power of Home (#poem)

This feeling of home owns a power I cannot control
It exacts a price I don’t always know
It binds me to its side in a prison of my own
Of isolation, loneliness, of being alone

It calls to me in memories of long ago
It whispers in wimpers of four walls and a floor
Awakening to music, knocking door to door
I hear the one missing, hidden before I was four

The desert is stunning when the sun begins to rise
The tropics tempt me to live fully alive
To live without one for any length of time
Sends me packing for a new state of mind

How is it possible to love two at a time
Pulling me in circles to walk a straight line
Round and round and round I go
Where I stop only God knows

Fight for Me (#poem #conversationswithmyself #wip)

This is version 1, a work in progress

Give me honor, not pity
Give me justice, not excuses
Fight for me, don’t feel sorry for me
Stand up for me, don’t watch me fall
Assuming I won’t get up, that I can’t fight for myself
That I won’t claim the victory
And know this
That everything I’ve done has been out of strength, not weakness
Don’t assume
That I can’t stand tall
Or respect myself, most of all

“Never Met a Machine I Didn’t Like”

Will Rogers may have said, “I never met a man I didn’t like,” but my mother once said, “I never met a machine I didn’t like.”

Reading some of the “End of Absence” book I mentioned in my previous post, I realized a couple of things:

  1. The problem today isn’t the internet, it’s social media
  2. How you perceive problems today is who you are

In illustrating the “problem” today, the author tells the story of babies used to pinching an iPad to gain a bigger view and doing the same thing to a newspaper or magazine, as if that’s a problem.

The truth is, I do the same thing when I’m using a laptop. So used to mobile devices, I automatically expect the same thing on a laptop. Besides, when the baby gets older, he’ll know the difference between a paperback and an iPad. And no doubt they will still be around. After all, vinyl records have made a comeback when people thought they were gone for good.

I believe in human nature, and if all this technology creates a problem in the future, they’ll figure it out.

As for kids texting each other when they’re sitting next to each other, perceiving it as a need for companionship without the hassles of real-life people, I have to say that maybe that is a valid solution in today’s crowded, super busy world. If you know history or have watched movies set in the past or have read historical fiction, you’re aware of the “mountain” men who struggled when this country began to be populated. They increasingly sought out the wilderness, going to Alaska, etc.

So maybe texting each other, even in the same room is okay if you’re not neglecting other people in the room. Introverts react to today differently than extroverts.

Artists (writers, musicians, painters, etc) may react differently, too.

I’m definitely an introvert and have been using computers since 1976, unlike most people of my generation who reluctantly started using computers only when “forced” to.

I’m probably more comfortable behind a computer than sitting in a group of people I’m expected to interact with. But no worries there, I remember my mother, a business machines major back in the 1950s, once said, “I never met a machine I didn’t like.” We teased her about that and she laughed, a bit embarrassed. But oh so telling.

People are different and we all react to today’s technology differently. I, personally think the problem is social media, not technology. I’m absolutely thrilled how technology has given me the opportunity to create electronic dance music. I may be older and do not have kids so I don’t always know what’s going on with them, but my music is one way I connect with younger people. And I love that.

If Politics is the New Religion, Then Twitter is Church

I read somewhere that “politics is the new religion” and a light went off. So that’s why we all seem so divided and verbal about it today. This is a recent thing. Even if my childhood was long ago when people agreed not to discuss “politics or religion,” until recently, people really didn’t.

I’ve been trying to delete Twitter for some time (been off Facebook and Instagram for years – yay me!), but I keep going back for more of the Twitter Kool-aid. I keep believing the lie that somehow I need it. “Just this one,” I tell myself. I need one social media. YouTube doesn’t count, right?

But people on Twitter are annoying, to say the least, that it’s affecting how I feel about people. It’s giving me a somewhat skewed idea of who people are. This is not real life. There are plenty of lovely people out there. But social media (and reality TV shows) puts the idiots in my face. And they’ve never seemed more idiotic than during this pandemic.

Just yesterday somebody tweeted something like, “Have you ever known just looking at a person that they must be Republican?”

I’m neither Democrat nor Republican so I wasn’t offended by the statement. But that view, in my opinion, is taking politics way too far.

I deleted (deactivated) my Twitter account again today. I don’t want to be a member of a cult.

The other social media trouble spot I have is with Youtube and YouTubers. For me, that usually means the Disney vloggers and cruise vloggers where, after a while, I must question their value. I receive value from musicians showing me how to use Ableton Live or LogicPro.

But the reason I say I don’t receive much value from Disney and cruise vloggers, is that their experience is not your experience. Besides, at closer inspection, you realize their content reveals them to be either too stupid, too dishonest, or too lazy to educate themselves on their topic (not all, but way too many).

They’ve so fooled people that people send them gifts and money as if that will give them some kind of similar experience. My experience is always different from theirs. But sometimes I’m tempted to peek in when I can’t have that experience. What I’ve discovered is that by watching their experience, my experience is less than.

Full disclosure: I have a YouTube channel where I upload videos from my travels, or book trailers for my novels, and include some of my music. And I don’t mind others who do that. But not the ones who are aggressively marketing their channel, who will use click-bait headlines, the ones who make it their daily job to come up with just about anything to get views, often giving dishonest reviews, those who hold live chats where people send them “super chats” and they may or may not interact with you if you don’t (mostly not).

I confess, I watch them way too often. It’s been unbelievably tough during this pandemic, my head is still swimming, and I think a lot of us have leaned on YouTubers to get us through this. I know my channel got a lot of subscribers during this time, and are probably now busy unsubscribing – lol! I know I am.

I’m much better off if I spend my time in my studio, writing songs, producing tracks, writing stories, and reading. My latest find that I can’t wait to get to? The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection
(found on Author Roni Loren’s blog when she was trying to focus her life away from the internet and to encourage her son to spend quality time unplugged.

This is just one book on her list. I’ve read a few of these and find them fascinating how the internet and social media is changing our brains. Now that’s scary. But I’m hoping it’s just more inspiration to get me away from all of it, including YouTube.

Managing social media and other distractions is even more important for writers and other artists. After all, “Solitude courts the muse.”

 

 

Words to Live By

I’m often torn between focusing on writing novels and producing music. As if I must make a choice. And even though I know I don’t have to choose, not choosing does present a challenge of focus. Sometimes it’s difficult to be good at anything if you’re not focused on one thing.

However, my husband reminded me of this Erma Bombeck quote:


These are definitely words I want to live by.

Music Playing on an Endless Loop in my Head

Musicians, tell me, when you’re working on a song, does it play on an endless loop in your head? If so, how do you cope? I asked my Bass playing uncle about that one time and he said there’s nothing to be done. Yikes! Maybe I should skip this music stuff and return to writing fiction, although sometimes my sentences would play on a loop, too, especially when editing.

But I so love music. And the loop doesn’t even have to be running when I’m working on a song. Just listening to music will do that to me, especially the songs I love most and get stuck in my head.

I’m starting to realize the truth to what my father said when we were getting to know each other that “All my kids play the drums.” That was such an epiphany for me!

At first I was content programming drums in my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), but now that I have a new Launchkey, I find myself drumming right before bed. I come upstairs and I can’t resist the colorful “Vegas mode” (yes, it’s really called that) lights, sit down in front of my keyboard and start drumming.

I’m starting to exhaust myself and FAWM hasn’t even started yet (February 1).

 

 

Chasing the Muse at 5 a.m.

It’s 5 a.m. and my head full of song ideas feels like it’s about to burst. The muse is calling quite inconveniently. I’d love to obey and sit in my music studio and start belting out some lyrics while fingering some piano chords. But that would disrupt the household – my husband who is sleeping before getting up to start his work day (at home) and the cats (one cat loves to sing along with me). Even without hubby now working full-time at home during this global situation, it wouldn’t be kind to start blasting music at this hour – lol!

The countdown to FAWM is upon me and I don’t feel prepared. Every song I write to keep my skills limber seems to suck! I have imposter syndrome – lol. I’m starting to feel like Brandi, the leading lady in “She’s Not That Good” (my wip I’m editing and posting bits of here).

I don’t feel comfortable wailing in my studio with my husband sitting in the next room over working. We’re a close couple but I’m used to having the house to myself during the day. Perhaps I should sit and edit my novel instead of music right now. It’s a quieter endeavor I can do any time, night or day, alone or in a crowd. Life was simpler before music. Ha!

This time last year we were building a new home, living in a rental much to be desired but the saving grace was the casita – a separate building I used for my studio. I could blast music any time, night or day. Wow! That was awesome! The best part about that rental house. It was perfect for FAWM.

I woke up with so many musical ideas, but they’re starting to fade. This is really frustrating. But they probably weren’t that good – they just seemed like it at 5 a.m.

At best, I can write this blog post, write notes to myself or work on lyrics, I suppose. But as I read this back, it sounds like one big whining session, and I’m so sorry for that.

But, wait, I’ve started to work on a song using my DAW and headphones and I think I’m onto something. So, yeah, it’s always best to find some way to catch what the muse is throwing your way, no matter the circumstances.

4 Weeks ’til #FAWM2021

Today, the first Monday of the new year marks 4 weeks until the beginning of FAWM. And I think, for me this year, that means creating an album of remixes using some Latina House samples I’ve purchased from Sonic Academy.

Remember that TV show “Semi-Homemade” where Sandra, I think was her name, took some sort of dish already kinda made but then added her own touch to it? Well, that’s the kind of cook I am. In fact, I’m discovering that I’m also really digging the concept when it comes to music. At least for now.

So for the next 4 weeks, I’m going to be preparing for that. Gathering my samples, translating/rewriting lyrics, etc. for song ideas. That means I won’t have time to continue editing SNTG during the week. Instead, I’ll be posting my chapters on this blog over the weekend. Stay tuned for Chapter 1.

In the meantime, here’s a piece of a song that I’m working on remixing. Next step: recording the lyrics in English.

“To Be Absolutely Ridiculous is Better Than Absolutely Boring”

As I work through my list of what I’d like to accomplish in 2021 (music vs writing), thinking I must choose one and that theme (or brand) must be reflected throughout (do I use the author photo or the producer photo, do I use kathyholmes.net or screamiebirds.com?), I’ve decided to do both, be both, and to follow my bliss after reading this quote from Write Naked.

 

Ableton Live 11 vs Logic Pro 10.6 vs Writing vs 2021 (#NewYearGoals)

This is what I’m faced with as we head toward 2021, not coming quite fast enough it seems. The holidays seem to drag on, this year more than usual, and we all so want life to return to normal. Enough already!

I’m still trying to figure out how to juggle giving enough attention to my writing career and my songwriting/music producer career, still in its infant days of launching.

Ableton Live 11 is reported to be coming out in early 2021, whatever that means. I’m still trying to learn all the Logic 10.5/10.6 features.

This has been the common theme over the past year or two: how to write marketable novels and music in a way that honors both. The “kick as” writing books act as if all you’re doing is writing and the to-do list is enormous. So how do you do both? One must be the frontrunner.

So do I decide that first? Which is the frontrunner: “writing” or “songwriting.” Music or books. EDM or fiction. It probably doesn’t seem that important to worry about Ableton vs Logic if I’m putting writing in the foreground. Or does it?

I’m on the list for the Ableton 11 upgrade, which comes with a discount if I pre-order. But does it make sense to spend that money if I’m going to focus more on writing fiction? Shouldn’t I invest that money in the marketing of my books? Besides, I’m kinda loving Logic Pro 10.5/6.

To be honest, I see more of a fruitful career path in writing fiction, although I’ve been neglecting it in a big way lately to focus on music. Do I keep pushing, going all-in with music (I have tons of tutorials I need to get to) or pick up the pieces of my latest wip and kickstart my life as an author?

Yep, this is what I’m dealing with. This is how my mind has been rambling and why I haven’t been posting here as often as I used to. Any advice? Did you say, “Pick one and move on already?” or maybe it was “Sit butt in chair and just do both!” lol!

Music Production, Writing, Reading… Running Out of Coping Mechanisms

Watching videos of people enjoying the Christmas festivities at Disney World, well, I can’t help but feel a little jealous. With California’s strict reopening guidelines and Disneyland’s reluctance to open up any of the parks (i.e., Knott’s Berry Farm) until now, and the cruising industry’s slow road to recovery, Nevada getting close to lockdown again, well, I’m going a little crazy. I mean, who isn’t, right?

I’ve spent these last 8 months at home working on music, switching back and forth between Ableton Live and Logic Pro, the latter due to the 10.5 updates. And now with news of Ableton Live 11 coming out soon, well, there’s even more for me to dive into. But there’s also a lot of stress with all of that learning and it wears me out. So I’ve taken time to read and even work on a couple of manuscripts I’ve started writing. But nothing, really, after all these months, is really working toward peace of mind. Prayers and positivity help, of course, but when there’s an underlying or maybe not so underlying crisis happening, it’s really hard to escape.

I think many of us felt a bit of relief when Biden won, even if we weren’t big Biden supporters, if only because, in my case, I did not want to sit back and watch the lunatic, aka the Narcissist for another 4 years. His behavior since the election validates everything I know about Narcissists. And once you’ve had an experience up close with one, you don’t need a psychology degree to get it. Maybe you get it even more than somebody who has just studied it. Experience is a great teacher.

So with heavy handed governors issuing mandates (sometimes necessary, but, perhaps, not done in the best way) and a lunatic for a president, it’s like reliving a dysfunctional childhood all over again. The artist’s spiritual life and food and drink and rearranging the furniture a zillion times helps for a while, but I’m running out of coping mechanisms.

Today’s joy, though, was picking up my latest copy of Electronic Musician. Just reading the masthead made me smile, reminding me of my early days in San Francisco working in production on Mac User magazine. So cool to see my name listed as Production Manager. That took me to McGraw-Hill Publishing in Berkeley, but the most fascinating part of that was sharing the building with a music studio and seeing a glimpse of artists like MC Hammer getting out of the limo. The MC Hammer dancers lived in an apartment complex down the street from mine.

And so, when all is said and done and things are back to normal and I can cruise the high seas and relive my childhood at Disneyland, well, in the end, it’s all about the art, the music, and the spiritual journey I am on.

I Thought I Loved Words…

I’ve been using the iPad so much that I now have sore shoulders, sore arms, sore neck, and it hurts to sleep. So I’m swearing off the iPad. I read that this is a thing now, especially for women, this difficulty using an iPad without pain.

I use it for so many things. What will I do with myself if I can’t use it? I even use it to read. Snap! Why not get some audio books? I tried some samples and I liked it. Not for fiction but non fiction. Listening to a book on writing craft was fun. Until they spoke of their love of words.

I remember when I thought I loved words. I love the idea of words. I love the idea of getting back to writing words. But I really love the *sound* of words. No wonder I’m enjoying audio books. But I shouldn’t be listening to audio books on writing craft. Not when I love the *sound* of words. No, no, this brings me back to my love for music, the thing I’ve been running from for so much of my life. And the thing I thought I’d been running toward in recent years.

Resistance. It’s still a thing.

Musings by Morning Light

(I first posted this on my Travel blog, and wanted to share it here, but the reblog feature isn’t working so I’m posting it here in its entirety. I’m thinking of doing a “Musings by Morning Llght” series here for Blogtober.)

Again, I am up before the first morning light as the red-hued hint of the rising sun intersects with the last vestiges of neon from a nearby casino. One of the many things I love about the desert, filling me with a lifetime of memories that harken back to childhood.

At times I miss meeting first light of New Smyrna Beach out on my Florida lanai overlooking green grass, trees, and pond. Other times I’m reminded of our first Florida living adventure in the Tampa Bay Area.

And maybe because it’s been almost 2 years since our return to Las Vegas or blame it on the pandemic, but I can almost miss passing through El Paso on our way moving between the West Coast and Florida.

I’ve enjoyed our moving adventures (but not always those necessary in-between stages), although they have also meant leaving pieces of our hearts in distant places where you can’t just hop in the car at a moment’s notice and experience them again.

But being close by doesn’t guarantee peace as Hardy Falls attests. As we go about our daily business, the emotion sometimes overwhelms me as, just for a moment, I relive feelings of home and family, Skipper, Lovey, and Buddy, and I long to turn back time.

Gratitude for today’s blessings pulls me out of the past and into the future, one step at a time.

First Day of #Free – Lucky’s Last Chance (#Romance #Kindle #Novel #LasVegas #Wine #50/90)

Today is the first day of five days of #Free for Lucky’s Last Chance (#Kindle), part of the “Viva Las Vegas” series. It was originally released as The Tom Jones Club, but when I got my publishing rights back, I changed the name/cover.

Click now to go to download page.

Also, check out the video I made for Lucky’s Last Chance using, accompanied by my EDM track I created during #50/90, ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody” – the perfect song to represent this Pandemic year, as one person said.

 

Cougars in Cabo (Where #Fiction Meets #EDM Meets #YouTube) #WriterWednesday

For this week’s #WriterWednesday, I’ve created a marriage between Cougars in Cabo, my anthology of short stories, with “Catch the Moment,” an EDM song I created during #50/90, and footage from cruising into Cabo on one of our cruises to Mexico.

That was so much fun! I’m starting to get into this. And I realize how much I love doing all 3: writing stories, creating music, and capturing video from our travels.

I so appreciate you stopping by the blog. And, If you like today’s post, please also like and subscribe on my YouTube channel. Thank you!