“Everybody Lies” – Sneak Peek Short Story and Song Now on Amazon and YouTube

After my “Everybody Lies” House Remix, I created a video highlighting the song and the short story called “Everybody Lies,” which is a peek into a novel called Everybody Lies. The short story that kicks off the novel was super hot with agents. When I was making the submission rounds, that opening often garnered full manuscript requests, which was pretty exciting.

The novel is now being edited but if you want to know when it will be released, you can sign up here.

EVERYBODY LIES

Forty-year-old Sherry Boyd has never really grown up. She’s living life in a fantasy, in a world where life is played out in a Hollywood musical. The stories she heard about the father she has never met, how her parents met when her mother worked as an usher at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and of her charismatic father performing on stage have fed her own dreams to follow in her fantasy father’s footsteps.

Trouble is, Sherry is dreaming her life away instead of following her passion. When she finds herself floundering in Florida after following her latest lover, Matt, from San Francisco to Key West, she knows that something has to change. Not knowing how to dig herself out of her latest mess, she continues to repeat her mistakes of singing in jazz joints and hanging out with musicians until she finally realizes she has to confront the lies from the past to face the future.

Guest Appearances:

Monterey Jack from the Real Women Wear Red and Real Women Sing the Blues

Babs from Letters on Balboa Island

“Uncle Frankie” from Letters on Balboa Island

EVERYBODY LIES Now Available as a Short Story peek for your Kindle.

“Real Women Wear Red” Excerpt Podcast

Real Women Wear Red
Chapter One
Cyn

“Dear Abby, I’m over 40 and my life sucks.”

I sipped my Hazelnut Roast in the break room of TGI Graphics, placed my cup on the table, and continued reading from the Los Angeles Times to my co-worker Maggie.

“Dear Abby, I’ve been divorced for five years, and I still haven’t found my second chance.”

“Dear Abby, I’m over 40, divorced, and don’t know how to compete in a young world.”

“Say what?” Maggie interrupted.

“No, wait, there’s one more—it’s the real clincher.”

“Dear Abby, I’m over 40, and I’m dating a much younger man who wants to have kids. Am I too old to start a family?”

“BS. Why should life be any different after 40 than before 40?”

Never mind the obvious reason—I wanted to believe Maggie. But underneath it all, I felt the same way as the letter writer. It had been five years since my divorce and my “second chance” still hadn’t materialized. I got the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach something was wrong whenever I thought about it. I tried to dismiss it, but then sleep became harder and harder to sustain throughout the night. I tossed and turned, woke up, and stared at the ceiling, searching my mind for answers that never came. If I dared mention it, people snickered and suggested something about “hot flashes” and “that age.”

“Well, I’ll tell you I wasn’t going through that.” Not yet. But I was at an age when I came to the depressing realization my life wasn’t working. It wasn’t so much I was unhappy. It was the uneasy feeling my life wasn’t moving forward.

“You’re not going through what, Cyn? Are you still moaning about being over 40? You’re still young yet.”

“So, how come my second chance hasn’t arrived?”

“Okay, listen to Mother Maggie cuz I’m gonna tell you what you should do. Book a Caribbean cruise, dye your hair blonde, and paint your toes pink. People will think you’re a young girl of 30.”

That was easy for Maggie to say. She was still in her thirties and never married, so how did she know what it was like to feel over the hill at 40-something? Maggie did seem to have her finger on the pulse of the singles’ world. But did I want to be a “girl?” And what was up with the color pink? Guess it went along with being a “girl.

Maggie had an answer for that too. “L.A. men are fake. Isn’t that why it all went wrong with your ex?”

Actually, my ex and I were both from the Midwest—Ohio, to be exact. But knowing that didn’t phase her—Maggie was on a roll.

“Besides, on a cruise, you’re bound to meet men from other parts of the country. In civilized areas such as the East Coast.”

She might have a point about men from outside of L.A. Maggie was from New England and she swore the men were different there—nice without being boring. If only it weren’t so darn cold, we’d probably both go back there to find one. Maggie said a cruise would be a way to meet a guy from colder climes without enduring the cold. Would they relocate to L.A.? Hmmm. Wasn’t so sure about this plan, but it was worth a shot.

“If I book a cruise, will you come with me?”

“No, Cyn. Women in groups scare men. You’re much more approachable by yourself. You must go alone. Leave it to me—I’ll book just the right cruise for you.”

Two days later I was face down on Maggie’s bed in her apartment, L’Oreal (“because I’m worth it”) Preference for Blondes, #9½-NB for Natural Blonde piled on my head with my nose stuck in a Cosmo—the magazine, not the drink. A vodka martini, straight up, was my drink. None of these silly, girly drinks for a woman like me, although Maggie insisted I was going to attract an old geezer if I kept drinking martinis.

“Get with it—you gotta drink a colored ’tini. There’s Appletini, Baby Blue Martini, Berry Berry Martini, Bacardi Limon Martini, Key Lime Martini, Chocolate Martini, and the Ultimate Cosmopolitan just for starters,” she said the last time we were enjoying “Ladies Night” at the downtown Embassy Suites bar just two blocks from the office.

I flipped through the magazine, back to front, in my usual fashion. “Older Women and Young Men—How to Snag a Boy Toy” caught my attention. Hmmm… a younger man? There it was again. First Dear Abby and now Cosmo. Boy toys, pink, and girls.

Not sure if I could start drinking pink drinks and call myself a girl, but if that’s what you had to do these days to get a boy, I would consider it.

But did I really want a boy? That sounded like a plaything. I was looking for something more serious. But how did I really feel about having kids? Women my age who found younger men were pressured into having a family. On the other hand, women my age who had met older men were stuck with grown children. They were the second wife and the kids didn’t always accept them. So which way did I want to go?

“Here, stick out your toes,” Maggie commanded, holding a giant bottle of hot pink polish.

“No pink,” I protested.

“Oh, yes, Cyn, you must do pink.”

Maggie had started calling me Cincy, or Cyn for short, because I was originally from Cincinnati, but my real name was Kate, or rather Katherine. I’ve now changed my name, my hair color, and even got a pair of special prescription contact lenses—for those with “eyes over 40.” Who would recognize me now? Taking on a new identity was one thing but wearing pink was another.

I handed Maggie the bottle of “New York Red.”

“No, that’s where I draw the line. I may dye my hair blonde, I may drink pink drinks, but I am not doing pink toe polish. Red, that’s my color. After all, real women wear red.”

***

Thanks for listening. To check out book 1 and book 2 of this series, go to kathyholmes.net/novels. Let me know in the comments if you’d be interested in book 3.

EDM: For Those Who Connect With Sound, Not Lyrics (#EDM #Music #Producer #Novelist #WritingCommunity)

I read this tweet (no, I haven’t quite deleted my Twitter account, although I do try to keep my peeks to a minimum), and this thought resonated with me. It explains so much. Especially when I realized I liked the sound of words, not the words themselves. This goes way back to the first grade. I loved the word “said” and the name “David” – the “d” sounds like a drum in my head.

When I met my father later in life (I may or may not have met him when I was a small child), he said, “All my kids play the drums.” Bingo! Then my life started to make sense. The more I connect with music (especially EDM – Electronic Dance Music in case you don’t know), the more I understand myself.

But when my literary agent told me my writing had a “poetic, almost lyrical rhythm to it,” I wondered what that meant. My father’s family were all musicians (guitarists, keyboardists, drummers, bassists, etc), going back to time immemorial, and my grandmother wrote poetry, I thought that must mean I was supposed to be a songwriter. Lyrics must be my thing. And so I enrolled in a modern musician certificate program starting with songwriting. I ended up realizing the difference between poems and lyrics and that it takes a special skill to translate those words into words that go with music. That was not my gift.

My gift that I’m exploring is sound design. I have so much to learn but I absolutely love it! One of my uncles was a sound engineer and so that makes sense. I may also be a storyteller, but not through lyrics. I have good family direction. My uncle said, “Now that you know you’re a Holmes, you’re gonna wanna pay attention to music.” And my dad said, “Keep writing. You must fulfill your destiny.”

And so I continue to juggle both. One gives me a break from the other, refreshing me for both. I may resist that, but I think I need that.

 

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.

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.

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!

“Keep It Movin'” (#50/90 Challenge for #MusicMonday Kickoff)

My plan was to wait for October to do a blocktober/vlogtober deal, but I couldn’t wait. So last week I posted a video/blog post for “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” for #Writer #WineWednesday and today I’m kicking off my first #MusicMonday with a video highlighting my 50/90 kickoff song, “Keep it Movin.”

I started off 50/90 with that song because the song prompt was about introducing yourself and I think “Keep it Movin” is a great introduction to me because (a) I love a dance club beat and (b) We need to keep moving forward no matter what life throws at you.

Of course it’s accompanied by some biker video from Mount Charleston (one hour from the #LasVegas Strip) and I couldn’t help but mention my two novels that feature a Las Vegas setting, “French Martini” and “Lucky’s Last Chance.”

It’s a lot to take in, but I’m hoping you will find something there that you like.

Have a good Monday!
Keep it Movin’

 

My 75K YouTube Experiment: Lucky’s Last Chance Collab with Screamie Birds

Ever since CruiseTipsTV mentioned they were doing “Vlogtoberfest” again this October, I started thinking about whether I should do it, too, to promote my music. I have never done a “vlogtoberfest” – only a “blogtoberfest.” But during this pandemic, my original travel channel started getting noticed and one video in particular – Oasis of the Seas now has over 75K views! That’s humongous for me!

The photo below shows the views, as of today, for video created in March (beginning of Pandemic):

So, I created a video featuring the rerelease of Lucky’s Last Chance (previously known as The Tom Jones Club) with “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” a Screamie Birds EDM song created during 50/90. And I uploaded it to my original travel channel now revamped as Screamie Birds, as well as my Kathy Holmes youtube channel, which had absolutely no videos whatsoever.

I’m curious to see how the song will perform – one on a more established site (albeit, pretty small) with varied content or a brand new site with targeted content. Or will it matter at all? (PS – It performed better on the already established channel so I deleted the “new” one.

Link to Lucky’s Last Chance/I Wanna Dance with Somebody Collab:

Screamie Birds

 

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.

 

If You Can’t Cruise (or Travel), Do the Next Best Thing…

I love to travel through reading and that seems even more important during this lockdown. And I know that the cruise community is anxious to get back to cruising. So until we can, why not check out novels where you can travel vicariously (location/setting is listed in parens) and even cruise:

NOVELS:

REAL WOMEN WEAR RED (Caribbean Cruise)

rwwr_cover_flops_150.jpg“I may dye my hair blonde, I may drink pink drinks, but I am not doing pink toe polish. Red, that’s my color. After all, real women wear red.” – Cyn

When 40-something Kate “Cyn” Francis changes her name, her hair color, and her age in order to snag a younger man on a Caribbean cruise, the last thing she expects is to fall overboard for a Cary Grant look-alike. But this is not your ordinary cruise.

AVAILABLE NOW on Kindle and in Paperback.

REAL WOMEN SING THE BLUES (Hawaii Cruise)

RWSB_new_cover_125

“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 Amazon.com for Kindle and NEW for Paperback.

THE TOM JONES CLUB (Las Vegas, Nevada)

cover_tjc_150“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 when Lady Luck throws the red hot dice, Lucky cashes in on a red hot sizzling romance. But when her past catches up with her, she is forced to answer these questions, “Can her heart keep the promises her body has been making?” and “Will she finally get lucky in love?”

AVAILABLE NOW at amazon.com in Paperback and on Kindle.

LETTERS ON BALBOA ISLAND (Balboa Island, California)

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

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

AVAILABLE NOW on Amazon.com for Kindle and in Paperback

FRENCH MARTINI (Las Vegas, San Francisco, Mexico Cruise)

FrenchMartini_coverNikki Durrance escaped the worst nightmare of her life when she fled Las Vegas for San Francisco, leaving her husband behind at the Blue Diamond Saloon to build a new life. So when the perfect Dr. Mike Fischer proposes, she accepts. But when her new Mr. Right begins to transform into a guy just like her ex-husband, she begins to question everything, including her sanity.

Nikki longs to trust Mike, but with an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu, Nikki’s fear propels her into discoveries of betrayals and underworld connections that will send her running for her life again.

BUY NOW on Amazon.com in Kindle.

NOVELLA

RAINING MEN (Pacific Northwest)

rainingmencover180When 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?

BUY NOW on Amazon.com for Kindle.

FRENCH MARTINI (Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond…) Available on Kindle Now (#Novel #Fiction #Cocktail)

FRENCH MARTINI*

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..

(*Reverted to its original title as Déjà vu at the Blue Diamond…).

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?

 

Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon, the Book, the Poem, the Tour, and Now the Song (#FAWM)

You may recall that I’d just finished a publicity tour for my psychological suspense novel, Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon at the end of 2019 before starting FAWM on February 1st. Well, during the tour, I’d written a poem about the book here.

So, naturally, I turned that into a song for FAWM 2020. Check it out. I hope you like it – the song, poem, the tour, and the book. 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Monday, December 23 – All the Ups and Downs

Thursday, December 26- Jazzy Book Reviews

Friday, December 27: Gimme the Scoop

Friday, December 27: All About Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Today I’ve got two stops:

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

  1. T’s Stuff
  2. The Bookworm Lodge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you on the next stop!

Blogmas, Day 15: The Tom Jones Club Peek (#blogmas #lasvegas)

The Tom Jones Club Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Italian wine drinkers:
Sexy (40 percent) and stylish (37 percent)

 “Viva Las Vegas” reverberated through Lucky Stryker’s head as she buckled her First Class seat belt on the Paris to Las Vegas flight with a brief stop in Orlando.

An attractive, but boring-looking, off-the-rack, three-piece-suited businessman approached the aisle she was sitting in.

His path was blocked by the nerdy looking man one row behind her on the opposite side, taking all day stashing an over-flowing carry-on, a computer, and a backpack. The businessman was forced to lean into her.

“Excuse me,” he apologized, “I’ll be out of your way in just a moment… I hope.”

Lucky laughed. “No problem.” She couldn’t help but notice the way his ordinary suit pants outlined his perfect butt perfectly—even if butts weren’t her thing. As he turned toward her, he flashed that Cheshire-cat smile without saying a word. She was intrigued, noticing his sky-blue eyes crinkle as he did so. She was a sucker for a great smile on a man. There was a lot of talk these days about the butt, but for her, it was all about the smile and the eyes. She looked up to study his eyes, but when she turned her head to get a closer look, he swung into the seat behind her.

Small talk, small, talk, quick, think of some small talk. But then she was relieved of the pressure to initiate something witty when she felt his mouth brush against her ear. And then he said, “Going for business or pleasure?”

“Oh, a little bit of both.” She felt weak in the knees, even though she was sitting down.

“You gamble?” He asked it as if he was talking about something other than slot machines, craps or roulette.

The flight attendant took that moment to offer Lucky a glass of champagne. She accepted, but overheard him decline and ask for a glass of Sangiovese instead.

“Now where were we?” He was not to be deterred. She liked that in a man.

But before she had a chance to answer, a sultry brunette wearing a short, sparkly white dress approached his aisle, and muttered something about needing to squeeze in next to him. After all, his attention shifted to her—no wonder—he was drinking a glass of Sangiovese. Italian wine drinkers tended to be sexy and stylish. In this case, it seemed to say more about the kind of woman he was interested in than about any style he might  possess.

In comparison, she felt dowdy in her black leather skirt. Somehow it couldn’t compete with sparkly in Las Vegas. She’d have to keep this in mind when dressing for tomorrow’s business meeting.

Lucky settled back into her seat, relieved to have his attention elsewhere. She reached into her bag, and pulled out a novel she had picked up in the gift shop in Paris.

“My dear, excuse me, but can I ask you a question?”

She looked up to see an older, well-preserved woman dressed in all black—expensive capris with a sleeveless sweater revealing a substantial amount of cleavage. Lucky couldn’t help but notice her tanned legs leading to well-manicured toes surrounded by a pair of black rhinestone slides.

Now she didn’t usually notice these details on another woman unless she was her competition, so she was surprised by her reaction. But there this woman was, standing right next to her in the aisle, and she felt compelled to invite her to sit down.

“Is this your seat?” Without hesitation, she scooted right past Lucky and settled into the seat.

The flight attendant was mixing a drink in the row in front of them, so she turned to the woman and said, “How about a drink?” After so many years playing the hostess in the wine industry, she automatically put people at ease by offering them food or drink.

“Sure. I’ll have a pink gin fizz,” she said.

Lucky made eye contact with the attendant, indicating I’ll have another glass of champagne. The first leg of the flight—Paris to New York—had been long, but that was only the beginning. The next leg stopped in Orlando, where it seemed everybody who got on the plane had been at Disney World and had Mickey Mouse balloons, stuffed toys, and bags.

This woman was welcome company compared to who could have sat next to her.

Their drinks arrived, and the woman took a slow sip, put down her glass, and turned toward Lucky, which was a bit uncomfortable in the closeness of two airline seats, even if they were in First Class.

“What’s your question?” Directness was her specialty, a trait that wasn’t always received well. But while she was waiting for the woman to answer in the few seconds that passed, her mind raced back to the families she saw board the plane. There was something sweet and comforting about the way they were connected, the toys, the fun written all over their faces. It was something so basic and real, and she felt disturbed that she was responding this way.

“I heard you mention the Desert Sands. Are you by any means attending the Tom Jones Convention?”

“The what?”

“For the Tom Jones Club. You know who Tom Jones is, don’t you?” Oh, sure, she’d heard of Tom Jones, but a club and a convention?

“I’m assuming you mean the performer and not a fictional character, although when it comes to sexual escapades, it might be a toss-up between the two.”

“Yes, I see, you do know the man. Well,” she said in that throaty way last seen in Hollywood B movies of older women who smoke and drink and sleep around too much, “this is the Tom Jones Convention.” She gestured toward the pin on her sweater that somehow managed to escape Lucky’s perusal earlier. Maybe because it was black on black and blended in with her sweater. As she took a closer look, she noticed the pin was intertwined with a pendant with a picture of a young child. And Lucky recalled a similar picture from her childhood.

Lucky thought again to the families on the plane, the look of pride on the mother’s face as she held her little one’s small hand, and imagined what it would be like to have a child of her own. This was new to her, this thinking past the moment, of longing for children.

“Oh, there’s a convention? No, I’m here for a business meeting. Here to close a deal.” Lucky crossed her legs as she did whenever she was feeling rather proud of her business acumen.

It was an old habit, born out of necessity competing in a man’s world. What would she do without her identity as successful business woman once this deal was over and done? Was she over and done? Or was it just a chapter in her life closing? She took another sip of champagne.

“Oh, I see, you’re one of those women.” Her “BS” meter went off—clang clang—this was exactly why she didn’t warm up to most women.

“What does that mean, ‘one of those’?”

“Oh, you know, career women who don’t have time for men. I’m not implying you don’t sleep with them, but you don’t have time for a long-term commitment. You don’t see the value of having a man around. You’re self-sufficient.”

“So, tell me,” Lucky began, noticing this woman’s ring finger was empty, although every other finger seemed to sport a ring. “Are you married? Because I don’t see a ring on your finger either.”

“I was once.” Her gray eyes glazed off to a distant place as if she were recalling a tragic time in her life, and she fingered the pendant with the picture of the little girl. Lucky wondered if something tragic had happened to her. What did that feel like, to unconditionally love another human being so greatly that the loss of one would break your heart?

“Oh, I’m so sorry.”

“No need to be.” She snapped out of it. “I now have the time to freely pursue whatever I want to. Like organizing trips for other women to go to Vegas on a whim, see Tom Jones, hang out with their girlfriends and other fans of Tom Jones.”

“So tell me something else, is there really a whole convention?”

“Well, it’s rather small now compared to years before. Actually, it gets smaller and smaller with each passing year. Because, you see, most members are my age or older. Although, you’d be surprised at all the young people who are going to his concerts, buying his albums. He’s really had a comeback.”

“But they’re not just convention-goers, is that it?” Lucky was drawn into this woman’s story, maybe because, as a woman, she was feeling restless.

“That’s it, you’ve got it.” She told entertaining stories about how the club began, including some of the highlights over the past thirty years or so. Lucky started to fade, and needed to be quiet with her thoughts. People often thought she was outgoing, and she could be, but too much interaction drained her. She was more introverted than people knew.

“Well, I don’t mean to be rude, but I have to prepare for an important meeting tomorrow.”

“I understand, dear. Here’s my business card. I’ll be staying at the Desert Sands. Give me a call if you’d like to discuss a business deal of my own.”

She took her card, looked at it briefly, and dropped it in her bag. “Mona Lisa,” it said. Like that’s really her name. Funny she should accuse her of being that kind of woman, although she’d been known to give out fake names, too. Maybe this woman, Mona, saw something of her younger self in her. She ran into this all the time—she knew the type. Women who approached her as if they had the greatest opportunity, but, instead, she had learned, these were opportunists, not opportunities.

She put on the headphones to her iPod and played an Elvis collection. That seemed appropriate, didn’t it? Elvis, Las Vegas, and Lucky. Wasn’t that what Vegas was all about anyway? They said that if you threw a rock, you couldn’t help but hit an Elvis impersonator. But the impersonators didn’t do him justice. He was so much more than an icon of a man wearing a gaudy white jumpsuit and Elton John-sized sunglasses. He was so much more than Tom Jones ever could be.

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