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.

Taste of Knott’s Berry Farm Boysenberry Festival and More of “The House That Built Me”

Interesting thing about that song “The House That Built Me” – it took, I think, 9 years before it became a hit. It was originally written for a male singer but none of the male artists in the Nashville scene were interested in recording it. It wasn’t until a woman (Miranda Lambert) recorded it (with one line change), that it became a hit.

I feel that song every time I visit my childhood home in Southern California, halfway (8 miles) from Disneyland and the beach. Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and the beach were huge influences on me (not to mention Hollywood not that far away). I used to fantasize about being discovered singing on my redwood picnic table in my backyard – like some big producer was going to be cruising down the alley behind my house, hear my voice, and say, “Stop the car! That girl is a star!” – lol!

Recently, we were at Knott’s Berry Farm’s “Taste of Boysenberry Festival” and I captured a few pics and vids on my iPhone. The best part was sitting by the stage where a DJ was playing so many songs from my “childhood playlist,” which was so awesome! I never forgot those years growing up in Southern California (Orange County).

We’re going to “A Touch of Disney” later this month, and I’m thankful to be able to get into both of these parks before they actually open because they won’t be open to non California residents, which so pains me because I grew up there and now am only 30 minutes from the California/Nevada border. Sigh.

Anyway, here’s the video (and, yes, those songs triggered copyrights claims but that’s okay. They’re important to the feel of the video and my channel isn’t monetized anyway so it doesn’t matter).

For some reason, I can’t embed it here but can link it to YouTube (maybe because it’s blocked in some countries due to the copyrighted songs).

 

“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?

Real Women Wear Red Excerpt

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.