As hard as I’ve tried to get back into writing fiction – taking a class from the Las Vegas chapter of RWA and reading No Plot, No Problem – to motivate myself to join NaNoWriMo for the month of November, I just can’t do it. I’m too far gone when it comes to music these days and I’m dreaming of upgrading my studio.
I’m pretty sure I won’t really be doing NaNoWriMo – oh, sure, I’ll continue to write the tome I seem to be working on when the mood strikes, ie, a scene or emotion comes to me that I must write down. Maybe because these days music is my main focus. And that is quite a juggling act.
In Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure, published by Berklee Press, it says this about writing lyrics upfront, right in the introduction, the first page of the book:
You will have no trouble learning about lyric structure. It is simple, just like juggling. When a juggler keeps four balls in the air at once it may seem like magic, but there is no magic involved. The juggler learned by throwing one ball up and catching it, throwing and catching, stopping and starting the motion; always gaining greater control over the movement of the ball. Then came two balls, then three, throwing and catching, stopping and starting, with greater and greater control.
As a lyricist, you must learn to juggle four balls.
1. How many phrases does it have?
2. How long is each phrase?
3. What is the rhythm of each phrase?
4. How are rhymes arranged?
And that’s just the lyrics. Then there’s the music, and music production. Each piece requires great skill, learning the craft, and practice. And then they all must work together – prosody, that’s what it’s all about.
Yesterday we made our third trip to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival – this time with brother Bob. Little did we know that it also happened to be Columbus Day and the park was packed, especially for a weekday. Ugh!
Still, we had a blast sharing some of our favorite booths with family – the last time was back in 2010.
We started off with the Festival Center, tracking down the Chocolate display, including scenes from Coco, made entirely with chocolate. It was quite impressive!
Then we moved on to France for our favorite beignet with Hazelnut Creme with a glass of champagne – fabulous way to start the day.
Of course, we had to introduce Bob to the Ireland booth, then we chose the paella from Spain, Belgium, and Bob chose some items at India and Africa. We then finished up with my favorite Black Pepper Shrimp with Garlic Noodles in China – amazing! Rich got a Kung Fu Punch, and while refreshing, was too sweet for me.
On our last stop for the day, we entered the Mexico Pavilion for some much-needed air-conditioning and to see the Dia de Los Muertos exhibit from Cocol One of the exhibits showed time passing, lighting up the scene and then returning to darkness, revealing the dead family members reunited with their family. Really cool!
It was hot and crowded by then and Bob had some plans of his own to do some park hopping before returning to Epcot for some evening noshing, so we called it a day and let Bob continue on his way.
We’ve had such fun playing tourist with family but now it’s time to get back to work. Let’s see what I’m inspired to work on most – my music or my writing.
It’s been a rough month and a month of celebration at the same time. Besides losing Skipper, our 18-year-old cat who was more son than pet, my father passed away this week, exactly two weeks after Skipper.
Some of you know the story. After I met him as an adult, I wrote about it in Myths of the Fatherless, to share some of the epiphanies I had had after that experience. That biological fathers matter in a special way that no step father, no matter how special, can.
On the fiction front, I also wrote Letters on Balboa Island. He absolutely loved it. Maybe because he saw himself in the lead character, Rick. Rightly so, as I imagined him as I wrote the novel.
My heart is breaking in so many ways but mostly because I just didn’t have enough time with him. But I will cherish the memories I do have and the connection we had as father/daughter, the things we loved, like music (especially Jazz, crooners like Sinatra), fine dining, wine, seeing the world through a romantic lens and Las Vegas, where you can/could experience all of the above.
He was definitely larger than life and he will be missed by many.
John Holmes, 1933-2018
The songs in this playlist are songs that come to mind as I remember him, as I rejoice in our good-bye hug when he pulled me close as I started to pull away and he held me tighter, and for the father/daughter dance I play in my head as I feel a Heavenly dance when he reaches out to me with a promise of things to come.
I will always treasure his words, “I’ll always have San Francisco,” where my parents honeymooned before he was shipped overseas and where I lived for 23 years. So, of course, I wrap up this playlist with Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”
I think I might have told the story of how I wrote Palm Fever cruising into Banderas Bay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, but I had some fun with it now that It will soon be available on iTunes and other digital distributors – the date TBA.
Anyway, here’s a small clip I made for it:
Triumphant song when you’re driving home from the hospital all alone on a dark 2-lane road in a strange town.
Matt Maher – Your Love Defends Me
I’ve been gearing up for writing 30 poems in 30 days for #NaPoWriMo this April but I’ve just learned of #CampNaNoWriMo (April version of #NaNoWriMo–Novel Writing Month). Something has got to give! After #FAWM (February Album Writing Month), I’ve decided that perhaps I should give my ears a break and write a novel and poetry instead. I can gear back up for 50/90 (50 Songs in 90 Days) from July-October.
I’ve never been a fan of these writing challenges before but, somehow, where I am in life is leading me to loving them.
I’d just joined TAXI, I still have two months of NSAI membership, recently enrolled in a Logic Pro X Music Production class and got some new killer speakers, so I am feeling a bit guilty about putting music aside to focus on other writing. But, I tell myself, it’s only for one month. I still have time for 50/90, and I still have time for the TAXI Road Rally in November.
Let’s see how this year plays out.
I started out with GarageBand and there’s something about it being so approachable, especially for females, that really moved me forward in my music production career. And why I post that quote in my header. More women need to be empowered to engage in this male-dominated industry.
A few outstanding women who have helped me in some way are Dot Bustello, a former Apple employee and Logic Pro expert. She talks about becoming “one with Logic Pro,” because it (or your DAW of choice) is your instrument. You must practice like you would a piano or guitar. I’m still working on this — so much to learn! Logic Pro is what I use most of the time now, although sometimes I still pull up GarageBand to get some tracks down when an idea strikes me. And I’ve also dabbled in Ableton Live and ProTools.
Another female-empowering woman is Berklee Professor Erin Barra who teaches Ableton Live.
And then there’s the Azalea Music Group’s “Empowering Women in Audio Recording & Production Clinic” coming up in Nashville, which looks to be amazing. Wish I could be there!
I don’t know what made me do it, maybe it was listening to the fabulous music on the Music City reality TV show, or maybe it was the rejection email for “She’s Not That Good” proposal, which was a relief because I totally wanted to take the story a different direction, but I started thinking about Joan Jett and how my character should be on that trajectory. I listened to “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” and had to record a bit of chorus as inspiration, thinking rock might be my genre.
In last night’s TAXI TV show with Grammy award winning music producer Rob Chiarelli as guest, my ears perked up when he talked about the stages you go through in your music. That you start imitating some of your favorites before you move onto creating your own music of that calibre. I think I’m still in the imitation phase. My own music isn’t quite there, although “Everybody Lies” is close.
My version, vocals on chorus only, music from free Karaoke site:
During FAWM, I wrote these poetic lyrics here.
And then before the month’s end I came up with a demo. It was inspired during Race Week in Daytona with its roots in rum runners with a tribute to those who came before me: musicians, car racing, and rum runners.