“Don’t Judge the Past by the Present” and Other Advice for Writers

“Don’t judge the past by the present.” – The wisest thing my mother ever said.

Today there’s a lot of judging about the past in the media. As I mentioned in my previous post Writing for Today’s Reader, there is also a lot of rewriting of history in today’s movies, TV shows, and plays.

The thing is, if you haven’t lived it, you might not know the true meaning of it. So often I see this on “The Voice.” The younger singers, even if they’re not that young, weren’t around when the song was first around and so they don’t get the nuances or know how to fully emote. Their technical skills are incredible. But the song falls flat because they don’t know how to convey the emotional meaning of the song.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. And one of the books is Dawn Eden’s The Thrill of the Chaste. We’re both Catholic converts and I’ve enjoyed two of her other books (My Peace I Give You and Remembering God’s Mercy). In “Chaste,” she mentions the song “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” by the Shirelles. She says this:

“She’s not looking for affirmation so much as absolution. All her man has to do is say he loves her–then a night of sin is transformed into a thing of beauty.”

“If the Shirelles tune were to be written today, the singer would likely have to lower the bar down to “Will You Respect Me Tomorrow?”–if even that.

Dawn is a talented writer but how did she miss the meaning? Perhaps because she wasn’t around when the song was first around. All she knew were the facts of who wrote it, who recorded it, when it was released, etc. But having lived through that time, even though I was just a kid, I knew–we all knew--that the real meaning behind the question of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” was really “Will You Respect Me Tomorrow?”

I don’t know how old “John from Nashville” on Songfacts is, but he got it right when he said, “This song is a clever way of saying ‘Will you respect me in the morning if I go home with you tonight?’ ”

My advice to writers? Talk to people who actually lived it, if at all possible. Instead of quoting tweets, for example, dig deeper to find the real meaning and the work will stand out.

What’s Your Story Question? My Top 5 (#Preptober #NaNoWriMo)

We must write or paint or make music that pleases us, and,  we are fortunate, what we love will be loved by others, too – Writing the Novella by Sharon Oard Warner

Thinking “She’s Not That Good” may make for a better novella than novel, I’ve been reading “Writing the Novella” by Sharon Oard Warner. The current chapter I’m reading is “What’s the Story Question?” This, of course, has led me back to my previously published novels/novellas and those story questions. For example, here are my top 5:

1. Real Women Wear Red – Is pink a woman’s favorite color from childhood to grave?

It was the chick lit heyday and pink was hot – not only were covers in pinks but one Bachelorette had a completely pink wedding. And while I have worn pink many times, I never forgot those candy apple red shoes I just had to have when I was about 8-years-old. So, naturally, just to be different, I had to write Real Women Wear Red.

This was my third novel but the first to get an agent and publishing contract.

Btw, one woman told me, “Real women wear whatever color they want to wear.” Of course, but for my book, I chose to highlight red, considered to be a power color.

2. Real Women Sing the Blues – What if you left your corporate job to pursue your dream?

The sequel to Real Women Wear Red where I explore the idea of leaving behind the corporate life to pursue your dream, something we probably all think about. Personally, I started with writing and moved into music.

3. Letters on Balboa Island – What if a woman regrets leaving behind the one who got away? What if she could have made a different choice?

This book was a very personal story for me because it was a fictionalized version of my mother sending my father a “Dear John” letter and then marrying somebody else, who I grew up calling “dad.” I liked to think she’d had regrets.

4. Myths of the Fatherless – What if you meet your father for the first time that you can remember as an adult?

The story idea in #3 was so strongly-felt for me that I had to write a nonfiction version of my search for my father.

5. Déjà at the Blue Diamond… – What if a psychologically abused woman imagines her second husband is her first husband in disguise?

Okay, so this one is a little far-fetched. In fact, the opening scene came to me in a nightmare. I couldn’t let the story idea go so I had to write the book. Originally, it was called “Déjà Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon” but some thought the word “saloon” made it sound like a Western so I left off saloon, even though my ear liked the lyrical rhythm of it.

So what is the story question for “She’s Not that Good?” Is not knowing her true identity getting in the way of pursuing her real dreams of career and romance?

Do you often consider the story idea before writing your book or does it just unfold as you write?

#Preptober for #NaNoWriMo: The Heroine’s Journey

Anybody gearing up for NaNoWriMo by doing Preptober? Okay, I’ve never been a fan of NaNoWriMo – tried it once and wrote crap – lol!

But after completing 50/90 (50 songs in 90 days) or rather surpassing 50 songs by writing 60 songs, I’m thinking I might want to do NaNo this year. At least, do it my way.

I’d really like to finish “She’s Not That Good” aka “Real Women Are Good Enough” during NaNo. Otherwise, I fear that book may never be published.

So what are my plans for Preptober for this particular book? Before I can finish writing some scenes, I think I might need to establish the beats via “The Heroine’s Journey… “ by Gail Carriger. But on second thought, I’m not i to Greek mythology at all and may be using “Romancing the Beat…” by Gwen Hayes instead. There’s also “Save the Cat Writes a Novel… ” by Jessica Brody.

It would be nice if I could finish it for publication. Music may keep calling me back, but after 50/90, I need a break from music. Don’t I?

Choosing Fun (#cruising #amwriting)

I gotta say, Carnival Cruise Lines has an awesome slogan of “Choose Fun” now being rolled out as “Back to Fun,” which is what we’re all looking for, right? I gotta tell ya, watching Ordinary Adventures “Symphony of the Seas” vlogs, I cried – so missing cocktails by the pool at sea!

I’m trying to get into the cruise mood to edit the third novel in the 3-book cruise series starting with Real Women Wear Red, continuing on to Real Women Sing the Blues to, hopefully, “Real Women Are Good Enough” (aka as “She’s Not That Good”). As much fun as “She’s Not That Good” sounds to me, I’m thinking I should stick with the “Real Women” precedent from the other 2 books.

I tried publishing it episode by episode on the new Kindle Vella, but have noticed my readers aren’t into that so I’m publishing it as a book, like all my others.

But after taking a music break, I don’t know… I may have to put this project back on hold or at least keep it on the slow path. I need my music!

“I Need to Know” – from #Lyric #Poem to #50/90 Song

Based on the poem I wrote called “Mystery of My Heart,” it is now a song I created for 50/90 called “I Need to Know.”

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