Don’t Let Yourself Be Defeated

Downton Abbey is a favorite show we continue to rewatch. What stood out for me last night was when Carson said to Lady Mary, “You’re letting yourself be defeated, my Lady. I’m sorry it’s a lapse to say so, but someone has to.” (The original post attributed this line to White Christmas – oops!)

I’d been doing exactly that – letting myself be defeated. With romance publishers publishing more and more stuff that looks nothing like what I write, I was about to give up on writing. It seems the hot stories in demand are the hot social topics of the moment – same/sex romances, erotica, incest, and better yet, if it’s part of a series. And, don’t forget the “tropes.” As Sir Anthony said in Downton Abbey, “Good Gawd!”

Actually, I had given up on writing. But the desire to write is still there. Songwriting can’t replace telling a full story through fiction. So instead of letting myself be defeated, trying to squeeze myself into the box of the moment, I’m doing what it is I always do – what I must do – write the stories I want to write and if they can’t find a home in today’s world, I’m empowered to publish as an Indie. It’s worked for me in the past so why can’t it work for me in the future?

I also highly recommend reading this book, Pep Talks for Writers by Grant Faulkner. I’m getting absolutely nothing by recommending it but pure joy for sharing something of value for me as a writer.

Happy Writing!

Special Release: “Real Women Wear Red” together with “Real Women Go Hawaiian”

Listening to “Red, Red, Wine,” the song I used for the “Real Women Wear Red” book trailer, I feel all the joy I remember during that time:  writing the book, getting agented, being offered a publishing contract, hearing from readers how much they loved it. But when Google bought YouTube, they messed up my book trailers and I’m just now getting around to re-creating them.

So in honor of the 10-year anniversary of the release of Real Women Wear Red in paperback (Kindle wasn’t available back then), I’m rereleasing Real Women Wear Red with the sequel Real Women Go Hawaiian included ($3.99 on Kindle or the standalone copy of Real Women Go Hawaiian for $2.99 also on Kindle).

In the meantime, I’m hoping to put together another video/book trailer – it was so much fun, I think we can’t help but be transported to our own Caribbean cruise and can now load up our Kindles with the experience.

Adventures of a Bay Area Boomer

I feel like I must explain this post – if it sometimes seems like I’m critical of the mainstream life, it’s not that – no, not at all. I don’t dislike kids – I’m an advocate for them. I don’t dislike motherhood – only when it’s abused in some way.

G.K. Chesterton said it best – the real problem comes when normal, good things are taken out of context and elevated beyond what they should be. I’m never a fan of anything that’s overdone or overblown.

And so I write this post that’s been brewing inside me for awhile and I must speak it.

5 Things The World Thinks They’ve Just Invented

  1. Digital Publishing
  2. Tattoos and Body Piercings
  3. Gays/Lesbians
  4. Asian Food & Travel
  5. Motherhood

Digital Publishing

ready_big_flood_bldgBefore my Silicon Valley technical writer days, my early days in the Bay Area were spent working in the historic Flood Building on the corner of Powell and Market next to the Cable Car Turnaround. I was a copy editor, production editor, and typesetter for companies in advertising, public relations, printing, and publishing so I’ve been working in digital technology and computers since the latter half of the 1970s. So pardon me if I’m a bit “tech’d” out by now.

But before all of that, I was conceived in San Francisco somewhere in the same vicinity of the Flood Building – my newlywed parents were living a tiny apartment on Market Street for a month before my dad was shipped overseas around the tail end of the Korean War.

retro_candyred_kathyI wrote about my San Francisco grown-up days in I Was a San Francisco MadWoman. How I used to take BART in from my Daly City apartment, which I revisited in 22 Years in a Day. And walked from Powell and Market to North Beach in my black skirt, top, and heels as shown, waiting in the bar for my ex to finish work and getting hit on by men who wanted to “be my husband for the night.”

Much of my latest novel, French Martini, captures the spirit of those days. If you read the scene of the man dressed in a business suit who whispered naughty things in my ear, well, yes, that really happened but, perhaps, in more graphic terms. 🙂

Tattoos and Body Piercings

One of my co-workers back in the early ’80s was covered in tattoos – yes, his entire body. And we know because we went to a costume party and he went as a flasher. Yep, he wore nothing under his coat and he definitely flashed the party. We called him “Mr. Tattoo.”

Other co-workers had body piercings and rainbow hair and tomahawks way before anybody else did.

Gays/Lesbians

Naturally, working in San Francisco, we mingled with the Gay Community. Before Bridget Jones claimed Gays as BFFs, we did, too. My boss was “married” to his partner before it was legal in California. One of my favorite co-workers was Ed, who just happened to be Gay. I remember at least one Lesbian in the group. She liked to give neck massages to her co-workers. Or was it just me? 🙂

Anyway, we all worked together, played together, and attended weddings together. Nothing new or unusual.

dragqueens2I also remember taking out-of-state guests to Finocchios on Columbus Avenue back in the day. What a hoot that was my the leading transvestite winked at my macho step dad. This was way back in the late ’70s. I wrote about that in San Francisco Dive Bars. I also stumbled into my first gay bar by mistake.

But do we need to change surveys from “male or female” to “male female or other” because of those who claim to be transgender like somebody in my class insisted was only fair? I held my tongue then but I’m going to say it right here on this blog. No, I don’t think so. When you’re born, you’re either a male or female and the doctor writes it on your birth certificate. Where you go sexually after that has nothing to do with your gender at birth.

Ethnic Food and Travel

It’s not that unique today because Sushi and other once exotic food from India, Viet Nam, China and Japan have made their way to small-town America, but, still, not everybody has embraced it. I remember when we took our co-workers from Boston to Chinatown and the poor guy, who only eats regular meat and potatoes, couldn’t find anything to eat until we stopped for ice cream afterwards.

GGbridgeWe all ended up above the Golden Gate Bridge at about two o’clock in the morning and I remember Chuck riding in the back seat between Joan and me. I think Joan let John P. drive back. Those were the days having fun adventures with co-workers.

I also took a trip to Asia with the Cadence gang. We flew to Hong Kong and then on to Singapore and Bangkok. What an adventure. It’s commonplace now – heck, people even live in Asia from all over now – you see that on International Househunters, but back in the day, well, we were trailblazers.

Motherhood

Besides babysitting, I learned a lot about pregnancy and babies from my mother by the time I was 10. I remember her pregnancy with my youngest sibling, who was born when I was 9 years and 9 months old very well. I went on the doctor appointments, I took those long walks in the neighborhood hoping to induce labor. I remember the false labor and her reluctance to return to the hospital when her labor pains were only about a minute apart.

I remember the diaper changing, the diaper pails, the diaper bag, heating the bottles, testing the bottles, feeding the baby and burping the baby every 2 ounces and then 4 ounces. I was right there doing much of it. This was in the early 1960s.

True, I didn’t experience it myself – I really didn’t want to. And I didn’t know how the Bay Area women did it – I applaud them. But my friends were ones who took it in stride as a part of life – not the part of life.

The world has changed so much and I don’t know where that world went.

Myths of the Fatherless: Truer Than Ever 10 Years Later

The world talks a lot about showing love to people but they also have their own definition of love. The truth is, it’s only by telling people the truth do we show love – not denying truth and enabling people to live a life of lies. And so I’m reposting this now because it becomes truer and truer every day.

cover_myths_blogMyths of the Fatherless still sells and I’m pleased by that – especially now that our culture has swung so far from an awareness of this issue that it’s hard to remember the motivation for writing it.

But it all started after we’d first moved to Portland, Oregon from the San Francisco Bay Area 12 years ago. There was an article in the Oregonian about adoption records being opened and some birth mothers were upset by it. I’d often related to the adoption issue because I’d never known my biological father growing up and had been raised by a step dad – a man I thought was my dad until a cousin spilled the beans.

Soon after the Oregonian article, I took more than the few halfhearted steps I’d taken before to find my father. With the help of others, I found my father, we met, and started a relationship ten years ago. All of this gave me insight into the truth I’d been denying and I documented it in Myths…

Hollywood studio executive, author, motivation coach and speaker Libby Gill encouraged me to write the book, telling me that my experience made me an expert on the subject. And so I wrote it, published it, and opened myself up to encourage others to do the same via the “fatherless” blog. But when I look around at our world today, it’s hard to believe any of it was possible.

I was already fighting an uphill battle because the world encourages us to think that bio dads don’t matter, that there’s no issue in being adopted or being raised by a step dad. That was then.

Ten years later our world praises “single moms” as if that’s the goal. I’m thrilled to see single mothers being supported, because, as a woman, I can imagine myself as a single mom. But let’s not think that that’s the goal or the solution.

Ten years later, the world supports adoption for gay couples. Obviously, a child raised by a gay couple is not being raised by his/her biological parents – one at most – but not both. Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wished Their Adopted Parents Knew is a fabulous book about adoption issues.

Ten years later, it’s far more common for egg donors and sperm donors to help create babies who will not know the genetic parents they come from.

In the spirit of supporting women and gays, we are forgetting the rights of any human child – to know their own parents, if at all possible. I speak from experience and my heart goes out to the children. We are moving so far from supporting these kids in the way they need to be supported and that makes me sad. We are complicating an already complex issue. These kids are a blessing but they are going to need our understanding/insights into their issues even more going forward.

One thing I’ve learned that is consistent is that many – if not most – of the world’s problems or issues can be traced to a missing or troubled relationship with a father. Because our relationship with our earthly father mirrors our relationship with our Heavenly Father. And those who have experienced this firsthand know this and speak it – I am not alone in speaking out.

My first published novel, Real Women Wear Red, reunites a birth mother with her daughter. Their story continues in the sequel – Real Women Sing the Blues. And now I’m writing songs that tell a similar story. One of the songs I’m working on now through my musicianship program is “Advocates in Heaven.”

I can’t wait to share it with you.

Wild and Crazy Days

Some of my junior high/high school friends on Facebook were talking about the past and some of the crazy things they did and it was such fun looking back together. So then I decided to repost this story about looking into the past and what I found.

So I started browsing Facebook for kids I’d gone to school with. You know – there’s that one boy you thought about and you always wondered what happened to him.

You remember him carrying your books home from school, listening to your Elvis albums in your garage (with the garage door open, of course), playing his guitar, calling you on the phone, writing that first “love letter” after he moved 8 miles away – all the way to Anaheim – and then he surprised you by riding his bike over to see you. 🙂

Besides finding him on Facebook, I found him on youtube playing his guitar. That was pretty cool. And then I realized, oh my goodness, he was my first “bad” boy – lol! I’d never thought of him that way before, although I did write some of his papers for him – those “Write 500 times ‘I Will Not…'” kind of papers. And how he told me he broke up with Judy because she didn’t like to kiss. I think I kept my distance after that – lol – what would my mother think or more importantly, what would she do?! Well, we were only 11/12 then.

Those are the kind of memories you never forget and the older you get, the more you appreciate them.

The Lure of Las Vegas

folies-bergereTo many people, Las Vegas is one thing: a dry, dusty place where gambling is pervasive. They imagine you’re living on The Strip or in a casino itself. What they don’t realize is Las Vegas is all of that but so much more.

Las Vegas to me means there’s a feeling of excitement in the air, resort pools in the dry desert, an early morning sunrise breakfast of silver dollar pancakes, wide-open drives in the desert, sunshine almost every day, night skies lit up by neon or even stars if you’re distant enough, casinos, celebrity chefs, and entertainment. Each day we’re back I’m reminded of the joy of calling this place home.

I grew up in southern California with family visits to Las Vegas so Las Vegas isn’t “sin city” to me – that’s a marketing ploy they came up with in recent years. It was not “sin city” when I was growing up. Not only was I introduced to Las Vegas when I was 7 or 8 when my step dad drove the family to Las Vegas so he could play craps to keep his hands busy while trying to quit smoking, but my grandparents drove here from SoCal to renew their vows – not at a kitschy drive-through wedding chapel but by a friend, a Baptist minister, who remarried them in his church. One aunt lived here for a few years – another regularly celebrates her birthday every August and she’s in her 80s now – lol!

Las Vegas is Elvis, trade shows, the old Tropicana with its French Can Can dancers in the Folies Bergere show, and classic Vegas performers like Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Tom Jones, Tony Bennett, Liberace, the Jersey Boys, and many others I’ve seen. It was meeting people from all over the world at a dinner show or staying up late for the cocktail show, seeing Siegfried & Roy for the price of 2 drinks – wow – those were the days!

Maybe I can blame it on my French grandfather but I was fascinated by the Can Can and dance my own little version of it wearing my “stand-out” slip underneath my skirt when I played with my cousins at my grandmother’s house. Looking back, I can see that I was destined to live in Las Vegas.

My father also has fond memories of Vegas – he’d love to live at Bellagio – lol! And so it makes Vegas even more special because he’s so pleased I’m back living here in my own home with my husband and fur babies with a new one on the way.

Viva Las Vegas!

(Las Vegas is the setting in The Tom Jones Club and Viva Las Vegas.)

Fathers and Daughters

Father Ed and Iyanla both mentioned the importance of fathers to daughters. And when a daughter doesn’t have that father (her father – not any father) or a good relationship with her father, she looks for him in all the wrong men for the rest of her life. Unless she gets healing.

Women who are molested, abused, or did not know their father growing up are more likely to have abortions, be promiscuous, be a single mother, give their child up for adoption, or marry the wrong men. But finding the right man doesn’t mean you’re healed and can then move on to the next chapter of your life. You may be afraid to have children – you may not want to re-create the chaos of family life or know how to create a loving family. As Father Ed said, your maturity is interrupted by those damaging events of your past.

How do you become a mother when you’re still waiting to be somebody’s daughter?

So how do you become a mother when you’re still waiting to be somebody’s daughter? I didn’t want to be somebody’s mother. I didn’t want to recreate the volatile relationship I had with mine. I didn’t know my father – how could I have children when I didn’t know what kind of man he might be? I had things to do and my culture, religion, and upbringing reinforced all of that.

And then I was called to be Catholic. I met my father. My eyes were opened and I could see the beauty of motherhood. I could then embrace being a spiritual mother to others and the spiritual daughter of Jesus’ mother, the Theotokos.

Myths of the Fatherless tells the story of my search for my father, the impact of not knowing your biological father, and includes tips/resources on dealing with those issues.

Finding God on West Cliff Drive

It’s appropriate we should spend time at the Shrine of St. Joseph because St. Joseph is the patron saint for fathers, men, anger, families, and step families to name a few. Ever since we worshipped at the St. Joseph parish as part of Mission San Jose, I’ve been drawn to St. Joseph. As Catholic converts, we continue to discover the power, strength, and beauty of the Church.

As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve had very special spiritual experiences at Shrines. In Orlando, spending prayer time in the chapel, we were reassured that Rich would survive his hospital ordeal last year in Florida and we hung onto that for dear life.

When we look around the Orlando Shrine and see so many on vacation attending Mass or spending time in the chapel, well, we’re quite impressed that so many of the Catholic faithful do this on vacation. We love being a part of that! Orlando will always have a special place in our hearts – the Shrine and WDW – what a combo!

Recently, old family issues have caused some new upset in my life. But, as part of my prayer time in the chapel, I realized I could reach out to the Holy Family as my family. We began a quest for healing on this weekend’s trip to the beach, and it resulted in our visit to the Shrine. It was such a blessing and one we’ll recall for years to come.

Finding God on West Cliff Drive

It’s appropriate we should spend time at the Shrine of St. Joseph because St. Joseph is the patron saint for fathers, men, anger, families, and step families to name a few. Ever since we worshipped at the St. Joseph parish as part of Mission San Jose, I’ve been drawn to St. Joseph. As Catholic converts, we continue to discover the power, strength, and beauty of the Church.

As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve had very special spiritual experiences at Shrines. In Orlando, spending prayer time in the chapel, we were reassured that Rich would survive his hospital ordeal last year in Florida and we hung onto that for dear life.

When we look around the Orlando Shrine and see so many on vacation attending Mass or spending time in the chapel, well, we’re quite impressed that so many of the Catholic faithful do this on vacation. We love being a part of that! Orlando will always have a special place in our hearts – the Shrine and WDW – what a combo!

Recently, old family issues have caused some new upset in my life. But, as part of my prayer time in the chapel, I realized I could reach out to the Holy Family as my family. We began a quest for healing on this weekend’s trip to the beach, and it resulted in our visit to the Shrine. It was such a blessing and one we’ll recall for years to come.

Real Women Sing the Blues Excerpt

In Real Women Wear Red, you meet Cyn, Sandy, and Millie on a Caribbean cruise. But in the sequel, Real Women Sing the Blues, Robin joins the women in Hawaii. To receive news of this release, please fill out the Newsletter form.

Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter, introducing Robin.

1
As The World Turns
Robin

I remember the exact moment when my world shifted. The air in my SoHo loft felt chilled and too hot at the same time when moments ago the gas fireplace had warmed the coolness of the black and white furnishings to the perfect temperature. The neon lights flashed the name of the latest theatre performance; one I’d seen two or three times and every time, wished that I was starring in it.

In that moment, I knew I could no longer continue to be a Wall Street monkey, and somewhere out there the blues were calling my name.

My mother, Millie Evans, had just returned from a nonstop round of winter Caribbean cruises, followed by weeks of summer Bermuda cruises, and a short season of fall New England cruises. That was Millie for you—she always knew what to do when.

So, I was surprised when she called me and said that she was two blocks from my loft and asked that I meet with her. At first, fear landed in my belly as my mind immediately shifted to worry. But she reassured me it wasn’t serious. “Well, not serious like death or divorce,” she’d said. Why would she bring up death or divorce?

When I opened the door, she hugged me tightly, tighter than usual for her. I noticed the red outfit she was wearing with such panache, and smiled because I knew it was her favorite color. It was eight p.m. and I’d only been home briefly after sharing a couple of cocktails with friends downtown. I’d changed into my blue sweats and a t-shirt, because blue was my favorite color. It relaxed me, calmed me, chilled me to a more normal temperature that my heart rate preferred over the red-hot days of life on Wall Street.

After inviting her in, I offered her a glass of wine, and she turned it down, which surprised me. If it was one thing I knew about my mother was that she rarely turned down a glass of wine or cocktail. It was ubiquitous with Millie Evans. Had she been taking the doctor’s advice to give up smoking and drinking? Somehow, I doubted that. I was more convinced it had to do with the news she had to deliver and my spine stiffened, preparing me to hear the worst.

I poured myself a glass of red wine, and sat down on the white leather sofa, encouraging her to do the same. Instead, she started pacing the room, stopping to stare out the floor-to-ceiling windows. Suddenly, she turned toward me, her hands wringing like a nineteen fifties sitcom mother like Margaret in “Father Knows Best.” Although, in this case, the show in our house would be “Mother Knows Best.”

She cleared her throat and said, “Robin, dear, there’s something I must tell you.” I could have predicted that. Wasn’t that why she was here?

She sat down next to me and surrounded my hands with her hands, which were ice cold, unlike the usual warm, comforting hands I remembered all throughout my childhood. I’d always loved that about her, that no matter how crappy my day had been, she’d greet me with those warm, comforting hands and my whole life got better just by her touch. This was not happening now.

“Robin,” she began again, “your father…” Her voice trailed off and I wondered what she could possibly tell me about my father who had died a few years ago. What could be this upsetting? The family fortune was no more? Or a new surprise heir was claiming the family fortune?