Red Tiled Roof (#poem)

Rat-a-tat-tat Rat-a-tat-tat
Rhythm of the drum of an ally cat
Clippity clop of a horse’s hoof
Rainy night on a red-tiled roof

Drip drip drip sings the rain
So unusual on the desert plain
This time home is more of a stranger
It feels so temporary, so full of danger

Where did it go just last year
It’s gone for good is the deepest fear
Three thousand miles more or less
Hurrying back to cross the abyss

Writing songs up all night
About home and loss and other frights
Night time writing so aloof
Recognizing only the red-tiled roof

When the Muse Calls…

So much for all of that bravado about how music always trumps writing fiction. Ha!

Here’s what happened… I had an amazing songwriting day yesterday. I couldn’t wait to hit the studio this morning and start banging out more songs. I did a little keyboard practice. I did some vocal warmup. And then I listened to yesterday’s song. It sucked! I got scared. I felt so intimidated. The imposter syndrome struck. So what’s a girl to do?

Pull out my favorite manuscript in progress and start writing? That’s what stopped me the day before, when I decided I should focus on music – not writing. So I pulled up a different manuscript. Perhaps the muse wants me to work on that one today.

Okay, so maybe I won’t really know who wins until I’ve done enough work that something crosses the finish line. Maybe that’s how the muse works and I should just obey the muse when it strikes.

How about you?

Music vs. Fiction: Music Always Wins #amwriting #songwriting

January has just begun and already I’m in trouble. Choosing to focus on writing and music, I realize I must designate one as the priority because both of them take enormous skill and time and focus to succeed. Sure, I can pursue both, but I must choose which will be number one in my life. I keep returning to this truth for me.

Music always wins. And now I have a separate designated studio in my home, which is great because then the cats can’t chew the wires. 🙂

But songwriting still counts as writing, right? Will that be enough or will I have to fit in fiction, too? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Besides, I can always write fiction during breaks from music because you always need breaks, right? But there are just so many pieces to a song, including vocal warmups, as Shelly Peiken writes about in her latest blog post here.

 

Save the Cat for Novelists

Kicking my writing intentions into high gear for 2019, I dug out my Save the Cat! Writes a Novel. And what I realized is that I’m living the “Save the Cat” life. Art imitating life or life imitating art? There are two thoughts on that one.

Case in point: If you look closely at the “Save the Cat” beat structure, you would see that this time last year I was living my normal life, the status quo, the Setup. We’d just moved into a brand new Florida beach house, a new kitty had joined our little family, we’d had to trade in our Jeep that kept stalling at inconvenient times for a brand new Dodge Challenger (which I love, btw), new furniture to decorate our new house (especially when the electric recliner couch got permanently stuck in the open position), and life was looking pretty darn good. We were set up to live in our forever home, right?

Then, last summer, out of nowhere, we were blindsided. We didn’t see it coming. First, our beloved 18-year-old cat Skipper died and this may sound minimal to non pet lovers, but this was a huge loss that I’m still suffering through (okay, he was old and we knew he couldn’t live forever, but he’d been doing so well). Then, two weeks later my father died. The next month, hubby was summoned back to headquarters in Las Vegas, where we’d just moved from the year before. We thought we’d left Vegas behind. Ah, yes, we were faced with a Catalyst.

So after returning to Florida, the Debate begins. Should we leave Florida, move back to Vegas? The job situation really looked like it. Personally, it seemed like it, too. I was missing my home back west, and the losses were too much for me being so far from home. But we had a brand new house. The cross-country moving expenses are huge. Was it worth it? Where would we live now that we no longer had our Vegas house? Could we recover?

Then we break into Act 2. As Save the Cat says:

The game is afoot! The challenge is accepted! The adventure is upon us! The new way of life has begun! The Debate is over, our hero knows what they have to do, and now it’s time to do it.

This is where we are now. Unexpected challenges occur, resistance is futile, it’s time to take action and move forward into my pursuit of what I really want, and, hopefully, find what it is I really need.

And now, my friends, it’s time to get to work and structure my wip, “save the cat” style.

Ode to Cecilia (#poem)

Stories of California Missions and Father Junipero Serra
Disneyland fireworks from our childhood era
Beach Boys and Beatles and Screamie Birds groupies
Cecilia and I sang “Hang on Sloopy”

From “sexy scientist” to Las Vegas beautician
She called herself “CeeCee” following her ambition
Sitting next to Alan at the sixth grade spelling bee
On stage I saw green but he was mine, she reassured me

“Cecilia, you’re breaking my heart”
Paul Simon sang years later and many miles apart
About a Patroness for poets, novelists, and musicians
Discovering decades later, it was a year after my audition

Hiding in plain sight God touched my soul
He sent priests and musicians and witnesses and moles
Pursuing me relentlessly for as long as it took
Saint Cecilia leading me to sing and write the book

#Blogtoberfest Day 31: Happy Halloween

Halloween or All Hollows Eve or All Saints Eve is a remembrance of the dead and celebrated liturgically in some churches such as Roman Catholic, Byzantine Catholic and Eastern Orthodoxy.

Not to take away from any of that (the liturgies are beautiful), but speaking of the dead, I’m reminded of recent discussions I’ve read online where people seem to be competing over who has had the worst loss – the death of a mate, the loss of a pet, or divorce and I’ve said that it all depends on the person and the circumstances. But whatever it is, it’s not a competition. And so when I read this quote from On the Brink of Everything (see yesterday’s post), I had to share it:

“At my age, I know people who have lost the dearest person in their lives.”

That is the key – the “dearest” person in their lives. And for some people, that dearest “person” is a pet.

He goes on to say:

At first, they go into deep grief, certain their lives will never again be worth living. But then they slowly awaken to the fact that–not in spite of their loss but because of it–they’ve become bigger, more compassionate people, with more capacity of heart to take in other people’s sorrows and joys.

Loss is not a competition nor is it a narrowly-defined category. Loss is loss and all must be dealt with in compassion.

Happy Halloween, Happy November! See you in December.

Halloween on Mount Charleston

#Blogtoberfest Day 30: On the Brink of Everything

On the Brink of Everything by Parker J. Palmer caught my attention on my recent visit to Barnes & Noble. He may be on the brink of turning 80, but while I don’t agree with some of his thinking, he does share the things that are true for him about growing older, being mentored when he was younger, and becoming a mentor to younger people now. The point is that people of all ages have something to learn from or share with others.

I totally agree. When I was in my 20s through 40s, I often gravitated toward older women who taught me so much. I even wrote a song called “Wise Woman” about my friend from Montreal who I met in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Then somewhere along the way, I noticed younger women were gravitating toward me, looking at me as a mentor and I love fulfilling that role. Sometimes it’s people I’ve met online or at church or wherever. Sometimes it’s my readers.

They say that when you want to learn something new, you have to be willing to be a beginner. And that’s me with music. I have to be a beginner. And so I’ve met such interesting young people as we travel this road together, whether music or poetry.

November is just a couple of days away and I really do feel like I’m on the brink of everything, experimenting with a bit of unplugging and planning another cross country move. I invite you all to travel that road with me. And while I hope to take a blog hiatus during November, I’ll be back to share any experiences/insights worth sharing and I invite you to do the same.

No matter how young or old we are, we’re all on the brink of everything that’s going to come next.

#Blogtoberfest Day 28: Real Women Sing the Blues

I’ve almost made it through the month of October blogging daily, but I’m running out of steam. It’s a good thing I’m taking a hiatus in November.

Yesterday’s visit to the Guitar Center was so much fun! I ended up getting a songbook on playing the blues, which is making my piano practice a lot more fun!

The original version of the sequel to Real Women Wear Red was titled Real Women Sing the Blues. I was trying to keep a color theme for the trilogy plus the fact that the main character, Robin, quits her corporate job to chase after her dream of singing the blues.

The fun part about being an Indie author is that you can experiment and make changes to your books. And somewhere along the way, I thought Real Women Go Hawaiian was a better title since it highlighted the Hawaii setting (Real Women Wear Red is set in the Caribbean) – so if you buy the double set, that’s what you’ll get.

However, as I get more and more into playing the blues on the keyboard, I’m thinking Real Women Sing the Blues as a single is more fitting.

 

#Blogtoberfest Day 25: How Online Overload Harms Your Writing Career (and your Brain)

Unplugging – it sounds so sexy to me – lol! I’ve been drawn to unplugging for some time because, like most people today, I’ve been noticing the downside of too much information, over stimulation, social media, etc., etc. And not just as a writer, but as a musician and as a person.

Working in the San Francisco Bay Area with a career in electronic publishing since the late 1970s, I was one of the first to hop aboard all things electronic, imagining something like the internet and hollering with glee when it became accessible to all. But things don’t stay as they were. Instead of being helpful, the internet has deteriorated in so many ways and don’t get me started on social media.

Anyway, it’s interesting that many people are realizing this now – people are getting off social media, studies have been studied, books have been written, and people are speaking out about the harm of it all.

What I’m leading up to is I found this post in my email yesterday – “How Online Overload Harms Your Writing Career” from Productive Writers. He quotes a book called The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. I downloaded a sample to my reader and can’t wait to get into it today.

I’m wondering if maybe this is why I’ve lost interest in writing. Is it because I can’t focus for that long these days? Have I said everything I have to say? Or did I lose interest as my readers lost interest? Once the algorithms changed from people finding me via search engines to a weighted discovery of numbers – sites and books with the most sales are shown to people’s eyeballs. So if your numbers aren’t huge, you get practically zero visibility. The more you sell, the more you will sell. The less you sell, the less people will even know about you until finally your sales stop completely. Another way the internet is all screwed up.

We’re being told what we see – it’s no longer the free space where all are equal – that’s the problem with social media – it’s controlling “information” and we see different things, dictated by advertisers and algorithms. We’re being controlled like puppets. But the scariest thing of all is how our brains are actually being changed from it.

It’s definitely time to unplug – at least somewhat. It won’t be easy because we’ve been trained to reach for our smart phone every time we get that twitch, which is practically nonstop. I’ve noticed that if I turn my phone off or leave it in another room, I sleep much better. No middle-of-the-night poetry, but I’ll just have to write it at the computer during the day. Who knows what I may actually accomplish?