Words to Live By

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

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


These are definitely words I want to live by.

“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.

Scooter’s Big Adventure, a Picture Book Podcast

Funny, I’ve been dreaming about making an audio version of this picture book I wrote a few years back, inspired by Skipper, our Burmilla cat (sometimes called “Scooter.”) At 18, he joined his sweetheart, Lovey, on the Rainbow Bridge just a little over 2 years ago. I miss him every day.

Now that WordPress has this podcast feature where you can convert your blog post into a podcast, well, this is the time to do it. I tried the podcast feature out yesterday and now I’m giving this story a try (see illustrated pdf download).Stay tuned for the link to Spotify.

Mrs. Johnson went to the pet store and saw a white kitty wearing a red kerchief. She said, “I want that one.”

The owner said, “Okay, but you must promise to never let him go outside with his little red scooter.”

“Scooter?” she said.

“Yes, he scoots around on it. You’ll see.”

Mrs. Johnson did see and so she named him Scooter, named after his favorite toy. Scooter loved to help Mrs. Johnson in the kitchen where he added his own ingredients to the pot.

Every morning Mrs. Johnson and Scooter baked sweet treats and watched the children board the yellow school bus.

One blustery day, Mrs. Johnson went outside to get the morning paper. “Good morning, Mrs. Johnson,” the kids, waiting for the school bus, said.

She smiled and waved back. “If only my Scooter were a real boy.”

When Mrs. Johnson went inside, a gust of wind blew her door open. “Oh dear,” she said, “I must not have closed the door tight.”

As she reached to close the door, she heard the rumble of the red scooter fly past her.

“Oh, no,” she said. “Come back, Scooter.”

But the scooter picked up such speed that when she’d almost caught him, he scooted along even farther.

“The school kids will bring him back.”

When the school bus arrived and all of the kids got onboard, the bus drove away. Mrs. Johnson noticed one boy staring at her from the school bus window. She looked and looked and blinked her eyes. Surely, she must be dreaming.

She looked around but she didn’t see a kitty or a scooter anywhere. And that little boy on the bus was wearing the same little red kerchief that her Scooter wore.

Once she got over her amazement, she smiled because she realized he looked just like she had imagined he would look if he were a real a boy. He had blonde hair, blue eyes, a big, round smiling face, and a smattering of freckles across his nose.

Scooter watched the look of horror on his mother’s face become a smiling face as the school bus drove away. He knew she would be okay. Today was his day to have a big adventure with the other kids.

But he was sad about missing making lunch with his mother and his very own scooter that didn’t come with him as he jumped up the steps onto the bus. He hoped that when the bus brought him back home his scooter would be waiting for him.

He also hoped that his mother would be smiling and waiting for him like all the other mothers did every day.

A big kid, much bigger than Scooter, sat down next to him on the seat. But he bounced more than he sat and bumped into Scooter hard. Scooter smiled at him, hoping he wanted to be friends, but the boy jammed himself against Scooter again.

Scooter started to say, “Hey, watch it,” but his voice sounded more like a high-pitched meow. The boy rammed against him again and it was starting to not feel good so Scooter took his hand, shaped like a claw, and began scratching the kid.

The other kids noticed and started chanting, “Baby, baby, he claws like a baby.”

Scooter felt his ears draw back as he wondered what he had done wrong. The other kids seemed like they were making fun of him. He shrugged his shoulders and stared out the window again, but this time he didn’t recognize any of the houses in his neighborhood. His excitement over a new adventure was turning into fear.

But just as he started to worry about what he had done, the bus pulled up in front of a pretty little school, just like he had seen from watching TV.

The kids filed out of the bus and headed for the classroom. Some kids hung up their coats in the back of the room while others sat down at small tables.

“Desk,” he corrected himself. He knew from watching TV that it was called a desk. And, sure enough, just like on TV, there was the teacher sitting at a desk in front of the class.

Scooter sat down at one desk after another but a kid would kick him out each time saying, “Hey, that is my desk” or “Are you a new kid in the class?” Finally the teacher looked at Scooter and asked him, “Do you have your enrollment papers?”

Scooter began to get frightened. When the teacher asked him again and started to walk toward him, he ran out of the classroom and he heard the kids laughing. This going to school thing was tougher than he thought it would be.

He roamed around the building and peeked his head into one classroom after another but somebody always asked him if he was new in school. He just wanted to hang out and see what was going on. He didn’t actually want to enroll in anything. The word enroll just made him hungry, thinking of the sweet cinnamon rolls his mother would sometimes make just before lunch.

Just then, like magic, his nose got a whiff of something good-smelling–something that smelled like it was coming from a kitchen–something that smelled like pizza.

“The cafeteria,” he said. He ran over to the building marked “cafeteria” and noticed other moms in there preparing food–just like his mom did at home.

A smiling mom with gray hair greeted him with open arms. She said, “There you are–our volunteer. We thought you weren’t coming today.”

She tied an apron around his waist, placed a white chef’s hat on his head and clapped her hands.

“I’m ready to taste the food,” he said. The mom with the gray hair laughed.

“Here, take these napkins and put them in the holders on every table. Then put this stack of clean forks and knives into the containers. When you’re finished with that, fill the bins with straws. By then it should be time for the rest of the children to come in for lunch and I’ll need your help with the milk cartons.”

When he saw the big trays filled with pizzas sitting on the counter, his mouth began to water and his tummy began to grumble. The pizza began to talk to him. “Eat me,” it said.

When the white-haired mom went to the freezer in the other room, Scooter grabbed a slice of cheese pizza. “Surely, she won’t miss this slice,” he said and began eating. And that was so good, he grabbed another, only this time he added some sausage and a dash of basil he saw sitting on the counter. He knew his spices from watching his mom in the kitchen.

“What this pizza needs is some anchovies,” he said and grabbed some sitting next to the bowl of spaghetti sauce and tossed them on each slice.

“More cheese would be even better,” he thought and grabbed a handful of grated cheese from the other side of the bowl of spaghetti sauce and sprinkled it throughout.

When Scooter looked up, he saw the gray-haired mom walk back to the table, but instead of her smiling face, she had a stern look on her face. But instead of the pretend mad look like his mom wore when she scolded him not to lick the butter cream frosting knife, this mom’s face looked really mad.

Scooter jumped down and ran out of the cafeteria and down the street. He ran and ran and ran as fast as he could, not even thinking about where he was going.

“Scooter, come back,” he heard her say.

He looked over his shoulder to see if she still looked mad, but he only saw a bunch of mean-looking kids running after him and dogs barking at him.

“Oh, no, not dogs,” he said.

He ran and he ran as fast and as far as he could. And just as the kids and the dogs started to catch up with him and grab the kerchief around his neck, he saw his little red scooter hiding in the gutter right in front of his house.

He jumped on the scooter and he turned the scooter toward the front door. The scooter took off, and just as he was about to crash into the front door, a big gust of wind opened it, and he slid right in like he was sliding into home plate.

He didn’t see Mrs. Johnson anywhere and remembered it was shopping day. By the time she got home with a big bag of groceries, he was fast asleep in Mr. Johnson’s chair. Mrs. Johnson scratched behind his ear and said, “Oh, Scooter, you won’t believe what I thought happened today. And here you were here all along fast asleep.”

By the time Mr. Johnson came home, Scooter could smell the scent of Mrs. Johnson’s cinnamon-spice cookies wafting in the kitchen, along with the flavors of pot roast, carrots, onions and potatoes.

Mr. Johnson grabbed his evening paper, squeezed in next to Scooter in the chair and said, “What a lucky kitty, sleeping and dreaming about wishes all day in my chair.”

And then Mr. Johnson picked Scooter up and squeezed him tight. And Scooter thought, “Never again would he wish he was somebody he was not.”

Kathy Holmes or Screamie Birds? Challenges of an Indie Author/Artist

I’ve written a bit about how I’m trying to juggle being both an Indie Author and an Indie Artist, writing novels and producing EDM (Electronic Dance Music). But it seems the world wants to know exactly who and what you are and trying to juggle both isn’t really following the rules of creating a brand. It’s fine to break the rules if the rules don’t make sense. But the truth is, you don’t want to confuse people. You only have a second, it seems, to catch somebody’s attention. You need to be clear about who you are.

I’ve used “Screamie Birds Studios” to represent both, as in, my writing and music studio. Still, people don’t know what a screamie bird is. If you google it, you’ll find all kinds of links to “screaming birds.” Screamie Birds even sounds like screaming birds. I tried recording an intro to a DJ track I’d made, welcoming people to “Screamie Birds Studios” and it sounded like I was saying “Screaming Birds.” If I tried to be more clear, I sounded like an idiot.

So here I am trying to make the most of this new WordPress “Podcast” feature where you can convert your blog post into a podcast. I don’t know who to be – “Screamie Birds” or “Kathy Holmes.”

I used to be just Kathy Holmes but then Katie Holmes came on the scene and it seems no matter what variation you do of “Kathy” all searches go to Katie.

So then when I started focusing more on my music, I thought it would be fun to be “Screamie Birds” – the name my childhood friend and I used when we wrote our first song and wrote to Ed Sullivan to be on his show. Nothing like dating myself. But the Beatles were big then and “Screamie” meant “Singer” and “Birds” meant “girl” so we were the “Screamie Birds.” Ha!

I’m started to feel like a screaming bird just writing this post. I’m definitely having an identity crisis. So maybe this will be my introduction to my first podcast. Screamie Bird or Kathy Holmes? What do you think?

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.

 

Missing Cruise Ship Night Life? #dance #music #cruise

Missing cruise ship night life? Okay, so maybe you’re missing night life of any kind. But cruise ship nightlife is pretty much all the night life I do. Or did. So I created a dance track using a few of the new tracks I created during FAWM, and upload it to YouTube. It was so much fun making – both the DJ track and the YouTube video. Hope you enjoy!

You can find it on YouTube by searching for Screamie Birds Studios or by clicking the link below:

To cruise virtually, check out my two novels set on cruise ships:

Real Women Wear Red and Real Women Sing the Blues.

Thanks for listening to my first podcast from my WordPress blog at kathyholmes.net.

 

The Last of Social Media

Several years ago I finally empowered myself to finally completely sever my relationship with Facebook and have never been happier making that decision. Instagram was easier to walk away from. Twitter has been more difficult. I deactivate/activate my account several times a month these days. In December, I almost made it through the month, going from deactivate to delete. At the last minute, I logged back in to keep the account. Maybe because I’ve had it since 2005.

YouTube is another problem I’m having (especially during this time of isolation). To be specific, I’m having difficulty unsubscribing from all of those travel vlogs like Disney and cruising. I unsubscribe and then resubscribe, “needing” to peek in to see what they’re up to now and then. On a daily basis. Especially when there are Disney or Knotts events coming up. But really? I’m not sure I can stand that level of stupidity and self-absorption any more.

One vlogger said recently that they were in no hurry to upload their Knotts Boysenberry Festival because most of the other West Coast vloggers were in Disney World. Okay, so you’re only in this to be first I guess. Not to provide content your viewers are interested in. Vloggers just care about getting hits associated with being first out there in some grand competition (to, hopefully, make money).

Unsubscribe…

Okay, so the next test will be if I can delete my YouTube channel. It’s a mishmash of Disney, cruising, travel, book trailers, and music. I’ve been trying to focus more on music but I have a feeling the subscribers I do have are there for Disney and cruising and not my books and music. But right before the pandemic, one of my cruise videos went viral (for me) and got 87K views in practically no time. Hard to delete it now…

But, perhaps, if I finally take that final step, deleting Twitter and YouTube, I’ll actually be able to juggle writing books and music instead of feeling like I must choose one because I don’t have the bandwidth to do both. Maybe I do have the bandwidth if I don’t waste it on meaningless unsocial social media.

But what if I need Twitter to promote my next book… I read that, and I know this to be true, you don’t really sell books on Twitter or any social media. Social media is really just a lie.

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.

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.

 

In the Midst of Turmoil, Create.

You will go nuts if you spend too much time on social media, or media, in general, especially in times like these. So what’s an artist to do? Create. Write. Paint, Sing. Cook. Produce Music. That’s where sanity lies.

So I thought I’d share a couple of my recent projects. Although I am not a painter or that kind of artist, I am a bit of a visual artist. My background is in book layout and production. Therefore, I’ve been dabbling a bit with videos on YouTube. Mostly posting some of our cruise and Disney videos, our time in Florida, Las Vegas, and some even feature my novels. That was so fun.

I’d created a book trailer when my first book was published but later when Google bought YouTube, they messed it all up. So I reimagined it with real video but kept the same tune. Makes me smile, taking me back to those heady days of getting an agent and publishing for the first time when we first moved to  Florida. Check it out:

One time in Florida was not enough so we moved back not twice but three times in all. Here’s the video of our last time when we had the great privilege of building a new house in a Central Florida beach town.

And here’s a link to a video that seems to be growing in views every day. Unlike most of my videos that may get a dozen views, this incredibly short video of Oasis of the Seas has climbed to almost 65,000. Go figure! Now if those viewers would buy my cruise books – lol!

To find out more about my novels, click here.

If you’d just like to subscribe to my Travel Channel on YouTube, click on this link.

Thanks for stopping by. Happy creating!

 

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.

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. 🙂