Staying Upbeat in the Writing, Travel, Disney, and Cruise Community

During this difficult time, I noticed that writers are actively seeking out other writer’s books, asking where to buy them, and cruise/Disney vloggers are actively uploading vids that are uplifting. I love this.

One of the cruise vloggers (Scott Singer Cruises) I subscribe to uploaded a vlog from his 2019 Alaska cruise this morning. I noticed it really picked people up. For me, too. So I started sorting through some of my travel and cruise videos and uploading them.

And why not combine both – my love for travel, cruising, and writing books set on cruise ships and other touristy locales. Here are some links you night be interested in:

Travel Blog (Two4Disney) – Covers Disney, Cruising, Las Vegas, and other Travels with a link to my novels, too.

Two4Disney on YouTube – A few of our travel adventures uploaded in small bites. More to come. Not much of a channel yet, but why not subscribe and let’s build this thing together.

Screamie Birds Studios – My writing/music web site where I keep you up-to-date on my latest music and fiction creations.

 

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 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.

Available on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback formats.

Blogmas, Day 14: The Tom Jones Club (#blogmas #lasvegas)

Déjà Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon isn’t my only novel set in Las Vegas, which seems odd to me, because I usually like to write about places I’m not currently living in. But living in Las Vegas just begs for stories to be written. I can’t get in the car without some story floating in my head. And just when I announce I’m pursuing music only, I start working on a story. Anyway, I thought I’d share an excerpt from The Tom Jones Club, published by Bookstrand Publishers.

The Tom Jones Club

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 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 he gets involved with 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 throws the red hot dice, 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?”

Genre: Contemporary, Western/Cowboys/Romance
Length: 81,032 words
Publisher: Bookstrand

Available on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback formats.

 

Blogmas, Day 12: Previously… (#blogmas #wip)

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’m working on a rom com novel I’m calling “She’s Not That Good.” I shared the blurb yesterday and here’s a bit of an excerpt on today’s post, giving a bit of back story before the story actually begins for real, which will probably get cut.

She’s Not That Good
Excerpt (wip)

Previously…

I love my job. The commute is short, well, relatively short for the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s in the South Bay, which is convenient for where I live in Fremont, just across the Bay. It’s in one of those low-rise two-story buildings surrounded by trees and grass and sidewalks, perfect for taking power walk breaks or just to stroll. There’s an amazing onsite cafeteria, well, actually three cafeterias if you count all the buildings on the campus. There’s even a piano bar next to the onsite Starbucks. And did I tell you I work with one of my good friends? Not exactly my BFF but a friend I used to work with at another company. It’s perfect. Well almost.

Oh, the less than perfect part isn’t about the job itself. I love that. I’m in book and web production of the marketing arm. It’s part creative, part technical. I love that because that describes me pretty well. Creative. Technical. Partly. Is that a thing? Well, I can say this: I’m not one of those nerdy types that has to have all the latest technology gadgets, but I do love the ones I love. And they might not be the ones you might think of. Not the social ones. I’m not that social. Okay, so maybe I am a bit nerdy not in the ‘PC’ kind of way, but in the introvert kind of way.

The one shortcoming of my job? I’m not in a committed relationship. I’m a gun for hire. What they call a “contractor.” No paid vacation, holidays, or even a promise of tomorrow. Okay, that’s true for a lot of people, especially in California, the “for hire” clause, which can be terminated at a moment’s notice. But most employers won’t just dump you. No, they’ll build a case against you.

As a contractor, I have none of that. For example, I was contracting at one of the biggest internet companies of its time, doing two different jobs, reporting to one manager, but working for the other in a diplomatic position. You see, manager one didn’t like the response time of manager two’s group, so manager one put me in the awkward position of trying to please both groups. And when I bonded with group two, deciding to spend most of my time there, manager one sent HR after me, firing me on the spot and escorting me to the door. I can’t tell you how horrific that felt like I was some kind of criminal. All they had to do was say, “You’re not that good,” and I would have gone gladly.

So back to this near-perfect job. I’d gotten wind of the fact that they were trying to get rid of the full-time employee that worked with my friend, and my friend, Georgi, let’s call her, hinted that when that happened, the job would be mine. And when I hinted that I wanted to take a few days off to see my sick grandmother in Southern California, she encouraged me, as if they would take that time to fire said person, and when I got back, the job would be mine. Sounds too good to be true, right?

Did you see this coming? I didn’t. But this is how it went down. I take off Friday night to visit my grandmother, and by the time I return the following Thursday morning, the undesirable employee is gone but, now get this, the person sitting in his chair is Darla, another friend of Georgi’s. Her excuse? Darla was there, ready to start, and I wasn’t. Unbelievable, right? My job satisfaction dropped from a nine to a zero. I felt so betrayed. I immediately began looking for another job and, well, that brings you up-to-date, and you can read about that fiasco in the next chapter.

 Except that I’ll add that you should have seen their antics when I told them I was leaving. Suddenly, I was so desirable. They really laid it on thick, and part of me wanted to believe them. Because I never heard anybody there whisper, “She’s not that good,” not even when they tried to explain why they hired Darla in my absence. They made me feel like I was a valuable member of the team. Except when I wasn’t invited to meetings, meetings where, behind closed doors, I heard whoops of laughter like they were having the time of their lives. No, I began to hate contracting and that lack of commitment. Except when they hired somebody else while I was gone, gone on a trip they encouraged me to take.

Oh yes, they were underhanded, backbiting, all the while smiling and praising me to my face. I think I almost prefer the upfront telling me I’m not that good or even the whispers among themselves, whispers I can still hear. “She’s not that good.”

Blogmas, Day #7: Raining Men Now Available in Paperback with Bonus Short Story Collection (#blogmas)

Wrapping up 2019, I’m making all my novels/short stories available in Paperback (in addition to Kindle and other digital formats). The latest is Raining Men, a novella, and I’m including my short story collection featuring two short stories that were first published by Mozark Press as part the A Shaker of Margaritas anthology.

Raining Men

When 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. Free Short Stories Collection Bonus when you buy the Paperback version.

The publicity tour for  Déjà Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon picks up on Monday. I’m pretty sure I’ll be driving past the real Blue Diamond Saloon tomorrow as I drop by our lot where we are building a new house.

 

New Cover for “Real Women Sing the Blues” for New Release of Paperback Version

I’m excited to announce the paperback release of Real Women Sing the Blues, book 2 in the Real Women Wear Red series. With that comes a brand new cover, which I’m really proud of.

Now that Amazon’s Kindle program has widened the publishing options to paperback, I’m releasing new paperbacks for my Kindle books. Because Real Women Wear Red was published before this option was available, I’m looking at republishing it in paperback on Amazon. That will make the pricing much more attractive to readers.

REAL WOMEN SING THE BLUES

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 Paperback.