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.

Editing Chapter 1 of “She’s Not That Good”

As I read over chapter 1, I’m pretty sure that neither “Previously” section will stay. But we’ll see. That’s the beauty of making it real–helps the editing process by bringing clarity to your writing.

She’s Not That Good

Chapter 1

“She’s not that good,” a woman on the other side of the cube wall whispers in her stage voice.

I know she’s talking about me. Maybe because I’ve heard those four little words, five if you count she’s not as “she is not,” for most of my life. Plus the fact that I’ve just been told by HR that I have five minutes to pack up my belongings before they escort me out of the building.

“Layoff” they call it, so why all the drama and formal proceedings as if I’ve done something criminal? Is it a crime to not be that good at something, even if it were true? Besides, this is only my first day at work. Who gives you a typing test on your first day of work? Especially in high tech? Unheard of.

A voice clears, and I look up. Has five minutes passed already? Oh, well, it doesn’t matter. I don’t have that much stuff to pack up. Being a temporary employee, a contractor, means I’m used to going from one job to another so I travel light—especially for the first week or maybe even the first month or two. I shut down the company computer, grab my purse, water bottle, personalized coffee cup, and follow my escort through the double doors, out to the lobby, and out on the sidewalk.

I don’t even have a car so I can escape quickly, tamp down my humiliation, or scream and cry in the privacy of my own vehicle. Oh no, today I chose to take BART to work. Fremont is an hour BART ride and even longer by car, so, of course, I took BART.

She’s not that good. Those words reverberate inside my brain in time with my steps as I walk the two blocks to the light rail station. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if whatever it is I’m not that good at hadn’t been somebody else’s idea in the first place. Like, “You know, you’re really good at singing, so why don’t you try out for the school play?”

I would resist using the argument that having a good singing voice does not make one an actress. But they would eventually wear me down and convince me that auditioning for the school play is the only thing to do and that I’d be a shoe-in. I’d rehearse for weeks and finally arrive for my audition, and there “they” would be, those same people who had practically twisted my arm to audition for their lousy play, huddling together, whispering, until finally their so-called whisper turned into a stage whisper, and nobody could help hearing them all say, as if in unison, “She’s not that good.”

I could have told you that. But that isn’t the worst thing that ever happened to me. No, much worse was when I went out with Little Tommy Tongue Twister, as we called him in elementary school. His name alone should have been enough to send me running for the hills. But a friend of a friend convinced me that Tommy was all grown up handsome now that we were all in high school, and had asked specifically that I come to a party he was having at his house while his parents were out-of-town. So, I went to Tommy’s party.

Not long after he spiked the punch with some rum his parents brought back from a Caribbean cruise, he pulled me into the closet and started sticking his tongue down my throat. Later, he had the nerve to say, “She’s not that good” when his friends asked why he never saw me again after that. After a while, kids at school saw me coming and would say, “She’s not that good is coming down the hall.” I wanted to die.

I began making plans to attend college far, far away, but every application came back saying the same thing, “She’s not that good.” You’d think I’d getter better at choosing what I was good at, but people misled me. My essays in English class would garner an “A,” and my teacher would convince me I should pursue a journalism degree. But after meeting with a counselor who had run me through the paces, he had written on my application, “She’s not that good.”

Which brings me to today and my first day of work where I had to take a writing test, a typing test, and a math test. The HR lady calls me into her office afterwards, and reads the note written on the results. You guessed it. It says, “She’s not that good.” So why not test me before they tell me I have the job? It makes no sense to me, but, then, these temporary positions never do.

It’s not that I want any of these things. I didn’t want the part in the school play, Little Tommy Tongue Twister, the journalism degree, or the job today. The problem is I don’t know what I do want. But I have a feeling that once I figure that out, they’ll stop saying, “She’s not that good.”

Some people say I should be a fiction writer. Maybe they see in me some creativity and accomplishment. I’m flattered by that, because you see, I’m not a complete loser, although it may sound like that to you at this point. The problem is, I’m good at a lot of things—I’m just not good enough to excel in any of them.

I write good papers, I love history, and I got an “A” in my history classes, so people concluded I’m an intellectual and recommend I become a lawyer or a historian but even I can tell I’m not that good.

To make myself feel a bit better after that job debacle, I check for any messages about the other jobs I applied for when I first returned to California. You know, the hand modeling job. Everybody says I have beautiful hands, and even the rest of me passes for attractive, but when I seek those modeling jobs, I hear the usual, “too short,” “too tall,” “too fat,” “too thin.” I’m starting to feel like Goldilocks never finding the one that’s “just right.”

I call my mother’s land number, expecting to get the answering machine (yes, she still uses one of those) and I’m surprised when she picks up. “I thought today was your surfing day.”

She keeps saying stuff like, “I’m starting over,” when she suddenly begins pursuing all of her “childhood” dreams. One day it’s hang gliding, then it’s drama class, and now it’s surfing. Okay, so maybe it isn’t exactly sudden. I suppose that’s to be expected now that she’s alone after my step dad died of a sudden illness. And my brother, or rather half brother joined the Marines.

“They used to call me Gidget,” she says as if that claim alone justifies her latest desire to start surfing. Or maybe after losing her husband, she realizes how short life is and is determined to make all of her dreams come true. But I know she won’t stick with it–she never sticks with anything to be very good at it. No wonder I have the problems I have. But she keeps insisting I not follow in her footsteps, “Be a novelist. That’s who you are.”

“Like everybody else?” I say. Who isn’t a novelist these days? My mother is the one with deep desires to be an author, ensconced in her office in some quiet New England village, and when it doesn’t pan out as quickly as she thinks it should, she jumps on other so-called dreams, although I really wonder if she ever dreamed of being a surfer.

She wanted to give me the pen name she always wanted. “Constance Brocade–can’t you just see that on the front of a romance novel? Isn’t that the perfect name?” Only her name is Debbie so she decided to name me Constance. I would have died before I would let anybody know my name was Constance. Thankfully, my grandmother stepped in and out of spite, my mother named me after her favorite drink—Brandi. I’ve always suspected that’s what she was drinking the night I was conceived. Maybe that would have been okay if our last name wasn’t “Redwine.”

“What’s the problem, mother?” she would ask her mother. “Brandi isn’t any worse than Sherry” and that always shut her up. Sherry was the daughter of my grandfather–the daughter we never talk about.

“No surfing anymore. It’s not for me. I think I’m going to start photography next. I can be on the beach without hurting my knees. Don’t wait until you’re forty to follow your heart, Brandi. Do it now while you’re young.” Forty? More like mid-fifties.

“Did anybody call for me? You know the hands modeling people.” I give them my mother’s phone for these jobs because

  1. It keeps her off my back (if she thinks she’s doing something “important” like this, she doesn’t look closer into my life)
  2. It keeps recruiters happy because they love to call people
  3. I may or may not lose my cell phone
    (a) It’s been known to happen
    (b) there might/might not be a message in that.

Anyway, phones of any kind are intrusive, and the idea of texting makes me crazy. I know, I know. I’m nothing like the average young person the media tells me I should be. I did tell you I don’t really fit in with people, didn’t I? I’m an introvert and even texting seems intrusive. If you must reach me, send an email, and I’ll get back to you when I’m ready.

“I’ve told you, Brandi, those hands were meant for sitting at the typewriter pounding out novels.”

“Mom, nobody sits at a typewriter anymore. Computer, you mean, and no, I’m not going to be a writer.”

She’s used a computer for years but when she talks about writing, she switches into another era and imagines herself banging on the keys like some writer from a film noir movie from the nineteen forties. Maybe we’re more alike than I’d like to think. We both resist modern technology in subtle ways.

“Well, why not? You used to lock yourself in your room and read every book under the sun. Why wouldn’t you want to write one?”

It’s true–I love books–real books. Books you can hold and pages you can smell and even lick, if you were of a mind to do it. I also love reading them. That’s where I escape my normal life. Like allowing myself to dream of a career in music—that’s my real passion.

Music–I love listening to it and singing it and whenever my mother left the house thinking I was in my room reading, I was playing my keyboard–the music keyboard I had finally stood up for myself and insisted on. When it comes to most things, I swallow my desires and won’t ask for them. But the keyboard is important, and I did speak up. But somehow having done that, revealing so much of my inner being, I hate to play it in front of my mother. I can’t just sit there and pound the keyboard and fail–not in front of her.

But one day I asked her about music, I love so much, and she just doesn’t understand. “Mother, did my father love music?”

She turned to look at me with such pain in her eyes. I felt sick inside and was immediately sorry I’d asked. And that’s why I usually didn’t ask my mother questions about my father. For a few moments, she sat there in silence, glaring, then abruptly she said, “Actually, yes. You’re so much like your father, and it’s my job to fix that.”

And then she got up and started creating one of her not-so-famous one-pot dinners, making it clear that the conversation was over, rattling pots and pans, turning on the radio to some melodrama–never music. Besides, drama is totally her thing.

All of my feelings of not being good enough disappeared when I was snuggled in Miguel’s arms. With Miguel, I felt like the most beautiful, brightest, and loved person in the whole world. The problem was this didn’t happen nearly as often as I would have liked. My mother did everything in her power to keep us apart.

“You’re too young to get serious, Brandi,” she’d say.

I had a feeling that no matter how old I was, I’d be too young. Somehow my mother blamed being young on the fact that she had gotten pregnant with me so young–as if she would have been so much more if I hadn’t ruined her life. And if she hadn’t started dating at fourteen, she wouldn’t have gotten pregnant at twenty-five. Yeah, I know. I don’t see the connection either.

That’s why I hated summers most of all. You didn’t expect that transition, did you? Anyway, during the school year, there were many more opportunities to sneak off with Miguel. In the summer, she kept an eagle eye on me, and it was more difficult to come up with a way to sneak off with Miguel. Besides, he worked in his father’s landscaping business for the rich people in Mexico during the summer and his mother was just as hawk like protecting her son from me as my mother was “protecting” me from Miguel.

Miguel’s mother warned him about girls like me, that I could trick him into settling down before he was ready to, before college, before he had a chance at making a life for himself.

My mother’s real problem with Miguel? He was Hispanic. My mother once said, “How could you marry a Hispanic? Your kids won’t look like you.” As if that was the number one important thing about having kids. They should look like you.

How ironic that as much as my mother swore she wouldn’t be anything like her mother, when it came to me, she parroted her mother word-for-word. How do I know? She told me these same stories about how her mother treated her when she was a teenager.

My mother wasn’t our only obstacle. Miguel’s mother was afraid he’d never become the doctor he so desperately wanted to be. “You have a long row to hoe,” she’d say. “You can’t afford to settle down now, mi hijo,” she’d say.

I knew that Miguel would be a wonderful doctor someday, but what I loved most about Miguel was his poetic heart. He wrote songs and played them on his acoustic guitar. He’d call me and tell me to meet him at the park and there he’d be laying on the blanket on the grass, with the guitar in his arms, and he’d start playing and singing the song he said he had just written for me. Then he’d put the guitar down and pull me into his arms, kiss me, French me with his amazing tongue and before I knew it, he’d be on top of me. I’d feel how hard he was when he rubbed against me. My desire mounted until one of us would pull away.

As much as we wanted each other, we were also afraid. Afraid of the power of our feelings, afraid to have sex, but afraid not to at the same time. We were afraid for our futures because neither of us wanted the same lives our parents had. At least Miguel had the support of his mother. She wanted his future as a doctor maybe even more than he did. If it were all left up to Miguel, he’d play the guitar, but his mother would say, “Mi hijo, you’re too smart to be a musician. You can’t waste your gift.”

To go a whole summer without seeing each other felt unbearable. That last night we were together when Miguel and I snuck off to the beach and he built a campfire and serenaded me by singing romantic Spanish songs, the scent of the ocean and the crashing waves and Miguel all mixed together were more than I could resist and that was the night I gave my virginity to Miguel. I was sorry I hadn’t resisted his charms when he sent me the following email message:

Brandi,
I’m sorry to write this in email but I can’t look at your beautiful green eyes and say this. The facts are I’m going to Mexico and then college, right? And with medical school for four more years after that, well, we can’t get serious for years. To say “let’s be friends” would be insulting to both of us. I’ll never forget you.
Miguel

Yes, email. Not a text, thank goodness. He was never into texting either. But, still, to break up with me in an email? Okay, so it might have been a teeny tiny step up from texting. After all, email was more like a letter. A Dear Jane letter or, as it turned out, a Dear Brandi letter. It was still the coward’s way out. He pretty much admitted to that by saying he couldn’t look into my eyes and break up with me.

To say I was heartbroken would be an understatement. How could he do this to me? It just didn’t sound like Miguel–he must have caved under parental pressure. First his mother would start in on him and then when he joined his dad in Mexico, he must have said something to make Miguel do this to me–to us.

Part of me thought that he’d change his mind once he was back here–college or not–and that gave me hope. Another part of me was scared that no matter what he might feel for me, something bigger in his life was becoming more important and that I never would see him again–at least, not the way we had been before. Oh sure, I might see him on my way to the beach or at a party, but never as a couple.

I cried for days and all the while I heard that little voice say, “You’re not that good.” I was good enough to be a high school sweetheart, but nothing more serious. There must be something more to this than college. Maybe white girls were okay to play around with before marriage, but a Hispanic girl would be his choice for a wife.

He was off to UC Irvine, but I wound up at San Jose State a year later than everybody else in my class. The words I read when I got that letter said it all, I just wasn’t good enough.

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.

Previously on “She’s Not That Good” (Version 2)

Or, as as the third book in the cruise series (see Real Women Wear Red and Chasing Moondoggie), I could start out with this version of “Previously…”, especially since it is more connected to the hook (see Write Naked, Chapter 18 “The Right Hooks and Warm-up Jabs”).

But this version also seems more about catching the reader up than really explaining the hook (why she thinks “she’s not that good.)” That’s what chapter 1 (coming up next) does so maybe neither version of “Previously” is needed. But it also features the “Sandy Brown” character as the heroine instead of a secondary character. I must have changed my mind about her early on and would have to make a lot of edits to keep this character as the heroine. But it was supposed to be her book back when my agent asked me to write a 3-book series. So maybe it should be her book and that’s why I stalled on finishing it.

We’ll chat more about this later.

She’s Not That Good

Previously…

Not that long ago, okay, maybe a year or two or three… I boarded a ship bound for the Caribbean and the first thing out of my mouth was, “My name is Sandy Brown and I’m addicted to Coppertone.” I kid you not. The weird thing is the person I said it to turned out to be my mother. How did I know that when I boarded that ship, I’d stumble across my birth mother and we both loved to wear red.

Okay, so maybe I had a bigger chance of loving the same color as my mother than actually finding her on a cruise ship.

And I fell for a guy named Troy, practically the first guy I met after my divorce from Cliff, as in “jumping off a cliff” when I married him in the first place.

But that’s not all. Oh no, later I take another cruise with my mother and Millie. Have I mentioned Millie yet? Oh she’s quite a hoot, just another random woman I met on that first cruise. Anyway, this time we cruised Hawaii. I know, gorgeous, right? So then I fall for this guy named Adam Troy. I should have known that wouldn’t work out.

Okay, that’s enough catching up for now. But, oh, yeah, there’s one more thing you should know about me. That hangup I had from high school about not being good enough, yeah, well, it’s ballooned into unbelievable proportions now. But more about that in the next chapter.

Previously on “She’s Not That Good”

There’s something about making it real that kickstarts the creative juices. Certainly the editing juices. You know, that moment when you must switch from anything goes to self-critic. So I thought maybe I’d finally make some serious progress with my wip if I posted it in its current state of being “in progress.”

Somehow, the flaws tend to stick out as soon as you make something public. That’s a good thing if it’s still “in progress.” I may totally cut this from the book. In the meantime, I’ll keep editing.

She’s Not That Good

Previously…

I love my job. The commute is short, well, relatively short for the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s in the South Bay, which is convenient for where I live in Fremont, just across the Bay. It’s in one of those low-rise two-story buildings surrounded by trees and grass and sidewalks, perfect for taking power walk breaks or just to stroll. There’s an amazing onsite cafeteria, well, actually three cafeterias if you count all the buildings on the campus. There’s even a piano bar next to the onsite Starbucks. And did I tell you I work with one of my good friends? Not exactly my BFF but a friend I used to work with at another company. It’s perfect. Well almost.

Oh, the less than perfect part isn’t about the job itself. I love that. I’m in book and web production of the marketing arm. It’s part creative, part technical. I love that because that describes me pretty well. Creative. Technical. Partly. Is that a thing? Well, I can say this: I’m not one of those nerdy types that has to have all the latest technology gadgets, but I do love the ones I love. And they might not be the ones you might think of. Not the social ones. I’m not that social. Okay, so maybe I am a bit nerdy, not in the “PC” kind of way, but in the unPC–introvert–kind of way.

The one shortcoming of my job? I’m not in a committed relationship. I’m a gun for hire. What they call a “contractor.” No paid vacation, holidays, or even a promise of tomorrow. Okay, that’s true for a lot of people, especially in California, the “for hire” clause, which can be terminated at a moment’s notice. But most employers won’t just dump you. No, they’ll build a case against you.

As a contractor, I have none of that. For example, I was contracting at one of the biggest Internet companies of its time, doing two different jobs, reporting to one manager but working for the other in a diplomatic position. You see, manager one didn’t like the response time of manager two’s group so manager one put me in the awkward position of trying to please both groups. And when I bonded with group two, deciding to spend most of my time there, manager one sent HR after me, firing me on the spot and escorting me to the door. I can’t tell you how horrific that felt, like I was some kind of criminal. All they had to do was say, “You’re not that good,” and I would have gone gladly. After all, I’m used to hearing “she’s not that good” whispered behind my back.

So back to this near-perfect job. I’d gotten wind of the fact that they were trying to get rid of the full-time employee that worked with my friend. And my friend–Georgi, let’s call her–hinted that when that happened, the job would be mine. And when I hinted that I wanted to take a few days off to see my sick grandmother in Southern California, she encouraged me, as if they would take that time to fire said person, and when I got back, the job would be mine. Sounds too good to be true, right?

Did you see this coming? I didn’t. But this is how it went down. I take off Friday night to visit my grandmother, and by the time I return the following Thursday morning, the undesirable employee is gone but, now get this, the person sitting in his chair is Darla, another friend of Georgi’s. Her excuse? Darla was there, ready to start, and I wasn’t. Unbelievable, right? My job satisfaction dropped from a nine to a zero. I felt so betrayed. I immediately began looking for another job and, well, that brings you up-to-date, and you can read about that fiasco in the next chapter.

Except that I’ll add that you should have seen their antics when I told them I was leaving. Suddenly, I was so desirable. They really laid it on thick, and part of me wanted to believe them. Because I never heard anybody there whisper, “She’s not that good,” not even when they tried to explain why they hired Darla in my absence. They made me feel like I was a valuable member of the team. Except when I wasn’t invited to meetings, meetings where, behind closed doors, I heard whoops of laughter like they were having the time of their lives. No I began to hate contracting and that lack of commitment. Except when they hired somebody else while I was gone, gone on a trip they encouraged me to take.

Oh yes, they were underhanded, backbiting, all the while smiling and praising me to my face. I think I almost prefer the upfront telling me I’m not that good or even the whispers among themselves, whispers of “she’s not that good” I can still hear.

Okay, so fast forward to… chapter 1.

“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!

Travel-Inspired Reading/Writing

Novels set in interesting locations have always appealed to me. In fact, they’ve influenced where I’ve traveled. When I was in junior high (don’t go all Karen on me now), Gone With the Wind was the romantic read – the film was big back then. It was all about Rhett and Scarlett and that climb up those stairs. So, as a Southern California girl, I *had* to see the Antebellum South for myself. Maybe because I’m not only a reader/writer, but a history buff. (Don’t go all “that was marital rape” because it clearly wasn’t – check out this explanation.)

(On a side note: the wisest thing my mother ever said was, “Don’t judge the past by the present.” If you didn’t live it, you don’t understand it.)

In my adulthood, I read Oriental Hotel, and I *had* to visit the three places the book took place: Hong Kong, Singapore, and Bangkok. And, yes, as a history buff (not political), I was quite intrigued by the British Colonial period. There are numerous other books and movies that have also influenced my travels, or intrigued me, like Elephant Walk and Passage to India and, of course, The Love Boat, which started me cruising – lol!

Anyway, to get to my point, I like to write novels set on cruise ships and Las Vegas and other beach locales. I’ve uploaded a video featuring the Real Women Wear Red and Real Women Sing the Blues, both books set on cruise ships, on my Travel channel and will share here. That was so much fun, I’m thinking of creating videos for my other books, too.

But I’m not just reading fiction. I recently read The Tenth Island by Diana Marcum. It takes place in the Azores, featuring expats now living in Fresno, which is where my father lived so there’s that connection, too.

Travel is quite difficult, if not practically impossible right now. The cruise industry keeps canceling/delaying their ships. Understandable. Cruising is complicated. So reading and writing about far-away or fun locales is on my mind. I say I’ve been playing at working on the third novel in the “Real Women” series, but maybe it’s time to get serious about having fun.

 

Getting My Publishing Rights Reverted for “Lucky’s Last Chance” (formerly known as “The Tom Jones Club”)

After five years, I was finally able to get my publishing rights reverted for my romance novel, The Tom Jones Club, now released as Lucky’s Last Chance. As a hybrid author (traditionally published and self-published), I can say that it’s pretty awesome to finally have control over this book. It’s now available for Kindle, but will be expanded to include other formats.

Let me know if you’d like to review it (leave a comment here or use the contact form). The previous reviews will be lost now that the original version has been taken down.

LUCKY’S LAST CHANCE (previously published as The Tom Jones)

“I can tell what kind of man he is by the wine he drinks.” – Lucky

 

International wine director Lucky Stryker, the “Lucky Lady,” is lucky in the boardroom, but unlucky in love. But the last thing she expects is to land in the arms of a cowboy one hot night in Vegas during the Tom Jones Club convention. A hot week with a cowboy in Las Vegas is one thing—eternity is another.

Fearing that any woman will leave him the way his mother left his father, Eric Blake chooses women who are guaranteed to fulfill that prophecy. And Lucky Stryker is no exception.

When Lady Luck spins the wheel of love, Lucky and Eric cash in on a red hot sizzling romance. So when their pasts catch up to them, and neither is who they appear to be, they are forced to answer these questions, “Can their hearts keep the promises their bodies have been making?” and “Will they finally get lucky in love?”

READ Review.

AVAILABLE NOW on amazon.com for Kindle.

Chasing Moondoggie (Real Women Sing the Blues)

I was thumbing through my Southern Califiornia beach videos this morning and thinking about my childhood and the movie, Gidget, I created a video of some of that footage. Gidget was one of my favorite movies (definitely swooned over Moondoggie), so inevitably, one of the storylines in Real Women Sing the Blues is a new character, Robin, joining the characters of Real Women Wear Red, to chase after her Moondoggie.

REAL WOMEN SING THE BLUES

“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 Kindle and Paperback.

FRENCH MARTINI Available on Kindle Now (#Novel #Fiction #Cocktail)

FRENCH MARTINI*

FrenchMartini_cover

Nikki Durrance escaped the worst nightmare of her life when she fled Las Vegas for San Francisco, leaving her husband and French Martinis behind. So when the perfect Dr. Mike Fischer proposes, she accepts. But when her new Mr. Right begins to transform into her ex-husband, including his love for French Martinis, she begins to question her sanity.

Nikki longs to trust Mike, but with an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu, Nikki’s fear propels into discoveries of betrayals, questioning her ability to ever trust love again.

BUY NOW on Amazon.com in Kindle.

French Martini recipe available here.

Adventures through travel and cocktails video on YouTube..

(*Originally released as Déjà vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon).

Juggling the Arts During #Covid-19 #AtHome

Before Covid-19, I pretty much spent most of my time in my home studio/office, so staying at home isn’t that new to me. But I felt like I had to make a choice between pursuing music and writing fiction. They seemed to use different parts of my brain, and I felt like I couldn’t juggle them all that well. That I *must* choose one in order to be successful.

Now I’ve realized during this time that it’s too difficult to focus on just one. My brain is more scattered right now. So how do I turn this into something good? Well, I’m not only pursuing both writing (brain) and music (ears), but also creating videos (visual), embracing three of my senses, instead of just one. Besides, how do I know which one might take off more than the other? Diversification seems wise to me now.

So, how do I determine which one to work on when? I suit up and show up. I let the muse decide.

What projects am I working on in particular?

  • Editing my manuscript in progress
  • Gaining skills in music production through classes
  • Producing my FAWM album and writing music for TAXI listings
  • Creating videos from a variety of trips to Disneyland, Disney World, and Cruises

The latter idea was spurned on when I noticed our 22-second video of Oasis of the Seas started getting crazy views (at least for us with a brand new channel).

At last count, it’s over 15K. You can check it out here. While you’re there, please subscribe. 🙂

Also, check out our Travel Adventures blog, including our adventures in moving/house building.

Anyway, just uploading that one video started me thinking about creating/uploading more videos and I’ve discovered I really enjoy it because I’m also a visual artist, not just audio and cerebral.

What have you discovered about yourself and what you enjoy that took you by surprise?

 

Raining Men: Free E-Book Promotion (#Covid19)

With so many authors and others offering deals and freebies during this Covid-19 #stayhome period, I thought I’d do the same. So starting Tuesday, April 24 through Saturday, April 18, Raining Men (A Novella) is available as a Free ebook. Get your copy here.

Raining Men

When California girl Brooke Slade, looking for love in all the wrong places, is presented with an opportunity to move to the Pacific Northwest, she turns it down, refusing to leave her life in Sunny California. But when she loses her job, she decides to give the Northwest a chance for thirty days and discovers it’s raining more than the wet stuff – it’s raining men. Wading through so many Mr. Wrongs, can she find Mr. Right?

Free Short Stories Collection Bonus when you buy the Paperback version.

(Note: Not available on Smashwords during this Kindle enrollment period).

Blogmas, Day 26: Starving Artist vs Thriving Artist (#blogmas)

Blogmas was so much fun, I, like many of you, have decided to extend it for a little bit longer. And as I grapple with plans for 2020 (as many of you), I’ve been doing a lot of mad reading.

My current read is Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins, and I’ve made some interesting discoveries as he makes many points about the “starving artist” vs the “thriving artist.”

Like maybe I don’t have to choose and shouldn’t choose between going all in with music or writing. I should be pursuing both. I can’t seem to help myself anyway, so I may as well give myself permission. The real challenge, I think, is getting up-to-speed on the music so that I can juggle both.

Here are a couple of insightful quotes I found:

Your art is never beholden to a single form. You can always change and evolve, and the best artists do this regularly. They understand that in order to thrive, you have to master more than one skill.

Starving Artists believe that to make a living you must make money off your art. But Thriving Artists don’t just live off their art. Like good investors, they keep diverse portfolios, relying on multiple income streams to make a living. Rarely do they go all in on any single area of work. The challenge, then, is knowing what investments to make and when.

Good advice, I think. The thing is, I can’t really stand over either one and demand it pay off. I do the work, put it out there, and then the return on my investment comes as a surprise when I least expect it. My job as an artist is to suit up and show up.

 

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!