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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.

 

Disco Queen to Queen of Beats (#EDM #music #producer)

Okay, so my latest toy is Kick 2 by Sonic Academy. Paired with Logic Pro X 10.5, well, I’m in beat heaven!

I used to joke that I was a Disco Queen, fell madly in love with disco the first time I walked into Earthquake Ethel’s and the pulsating beat led me to one of the three dance floors. (We didn’t take many photos back then, so this is the closest pic I can find from that era.)

So, it comes as no surprise, really, to find myself into EDM (Electronic Dance Music), especially because I’ve been involved professionally with electronic production since those early disco days. First in publishing, now in music.

Funny how people were determined to kill disco. Funny also how romance writers were determined to kill chick lit. Both my favorite genres. Well, I guess it’s true. I do seem to march to a different drummer, which means:

To act independently, differ in conduct or ideas from most others.

As Henry David Thoreau said in Walden (1854): “If a man(woman) does not keep pace with his(her) companions, perhaps it is because he(she) hears a different drummer.”

Discovering Sound Design

(This may be repetitive for those who have read this blog for some time, but in a nutshell, this is the background to my music journey.)

I’ve always loved singing – even from a young age. My mother tells the story of me, smudge on cheek, sitting on the front porch singing with my step dad while he played guitar – me having no idea what the lyrics were to the song. Later, I performed in the school choir and sang as a soloist. I played an electric organ I got for my 7th birthday. Later, I moved on to piano and when groups like the Beatles were all the rage, I even played a few chords on the guitar.

I was stumped by three things.

Being told:

  • You have a great ear for music
  • Your writing is poetic, almost lyrical in rhythm

The first one was said by my school music teacher and later, my vocal coach in Las Vegas (he appeared in Mamma Mia), and the second was my literary agent when she signed me for Real Women Wear Red.

Thinking:

  • My favorite words in 1st Grade were “said” and “David”
  • My favorite songs had stripper-like drums

Later, when I met my father, he said “All my kids play the drums” and then it all fell into place. That explained some of my favorite songs, and, of course, the “d” in those words sounded like a drum – lol!

I also discovered my grandmother wrote poetry. Ah… I started putting it all together, pursuing songwriting and got a new music keyboard. But something wasn’t quite coming together. Then, as I started studying music production, first GarageBand, then LogicPro, and now Ableton Live, I realized how much I loved “sound” – it’s something more than just music.

I recently purchased Kick2 and Ana2 from Sonic Academy, learning deeper levels of sound design. And I absolutely love it! This is so bringing me out of the doldrums this weird time in our world has brought to us.

This also brings up questions, such as:

  • Should I do 50/90 this year?
  • Will I renew my TAXI A&R membership?

Neither seem all that focused on the kind of music and/or sounds I’m creating. Perhaps it’s time to reassess my goals.

Good Days, Bad Days

My last post headlined, “In the Midst of Chaos, Create.” That was a good day.

Today I’m stumped about what to create. I pull open my wip, make a couple of edits and then lose all interest in the story. Maybe because it’s the third in the “Real Women” series set on a cruise ship. Cruise ships remind me of “The Bob” or “Covid-19” if you must.

I open the Logic Pro X 10.5 update playlist, thinking maybe I can learn more on this update and create some music. My brain shuts down.

Today is a bad day. I can’t wrap my head around what is happening. Like most of you, I’m impatient for the return to “normal.” But Disneyland still isn’t setting real opening dates. Knott’s Berry Farm isn’t opening. I read headlines about the Berlin club scene in serious threat of demise.

I’ve never been one for large crowds or people crowding in my space, but many of my favorite activities are in areas with crowds. Cruise ships, Disney parks. Dance clubs (well, not recently – lol).

I’m also a planner, but how can you plan anything when you have no idea what will be open or what it will look like.

This may all seem rather insignificant, but the truth is, I already struggle with depression. Besides, my Faith, which only this weekend will I be attending my church (yes, I got a “reservation.”), these are the little things that make me happy. The little trips and planning of trips my husband and I do together.

Like my annual birthday dinner at Napa Rose at Disneyland Resort. Unfortunately, it will not be open in time for my birthday. So, yes, I’m feeling more depressed than normal. It’s situational. And situational is more difficult to overcome when the situation isn’t quite right.

Usually, I can lose myself in writing or music or planning or dreaming. But this is a bad day. A bad day is when I can’t get lost in the writing or music because I’m all too aware of what’s going on out there.

But I am reminded of “Wishin’ and Hopin,” a song from my childhood, back when I thought this was what life was all about – lol! It makes me smile, though, so I guess this is a good day after all. 🙂

 

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.

Broken (#poem)

Broken into many pieces
My identity is lost
How can I be put back together
Will anybody fight my cause?

The house of cards has many dads
I wander from sea to sea
I place my deck on the table
Searching for someone to believe

Coming home is a dream come true
Has that much time really passed?
The feelings I hold are strong and old
To out play, out wit, and out last

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 Available on Kindle Now (#Novel #Fiction #Cocktail)

FRENCH MARTINI*

FrenchMartini_cover

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..

(*Originally released as Déjà vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon).

The Chair (#poem #NaPoWriMo)

Tears silently fall on cheeks so small
Memories flow as tales unfold
Satin caresses on aqua robes
Brown padded comfort as warm as hugs

Golden child who squeezes and purrs
Offering gifts of strings of pearls
Far more valued that rarest gold
Holding on to folds of love

Moving on means leaving behind
Tenderly held what once was mine
Never again with love once shared
Rocking in that old brown chair

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?

 

Raining Men: Free E-Book Promotion (#Covid19)

With so many authors and others offering deals and freebies during this Covid-19 #stayhome period, I thought I’d do the same. So starting Tuesday, April 24 through Saturday, April 18, Raining Men (A Novella) is available as a Free ebook. Get your copy here.

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?

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

(Note: Not available on Smashwords during this Kindle enrollment period).

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. 🙂

#1 EDM Artist in Las Vegas on Reverbnation

Wow! The thing I thought would never happen happened! Screamie Birds is now the #1 EDM artist in Las Vegas on Reverbnation.

I’ve bounced around between #2 and #10, but mostly keeping steady at #2. Last week I went from #2 to #3. But now, for the first time I’m the #1 EDM artist in Las Vegas on Reverbnation. I thought it would never happen! So stoked! Time to create some music!

He Threw Away His Life Today (#poem)

I knew I wouldn’t sleep
When buried thoughts are swirling deep
Knowing today that somebody threw their life away

Anger bubbles to the surface
Knots in my neck are certain to worsen
Gifts unused when others suffer abuse

Looks, talent, and charm
Can somehow do more harm
Conniving plans, using others on shifting sands

The loving embrace of a father and mother
Is more than what comes to many others
Betraying the Faith to turn away and become the snake

I searched for the family I never knew
I found love, hate, and ridicule
You and I were kindred spirits, writing songs with endless lyrics

We prayed and offered shelter
Your lies became helter skelter
I’ll cry tomorrow when anger turns to sorrow

Was the rush worth it?
The high of a hit to the lowest of pits
Killing love and all that is Sacred above

You lost so much when so small
The Devil chased you down the hall
I thought you’d outrun him, but the ending of the story is sad and grim

Tonight I won’t be sleeping
Tonight I won’t be weeping
Knowing today that somebody threw their life away

Blogmas, Day 31: Unplug, Cut the Cord (Resolutions for #2020 #blogmas)

Today is finally the end of Blogmas (for those of us who kept blogging past Christmas), and the last day of 2019. It’s been a lot of fun discovering new bloggers who are also doing Blogmas. Which brings me to today’s post and unplugging and cutting the cord.

We already cut the cord when we dumped our cable TV for streaming services. First we tried HuluTV, which really sucked. We also tried DisneyPlus, which was fun for a few weeks until we caught up with all the new shows. And then we switched HuluTV to YouTubeTV, which is really cool, which is so funny, because as a content provider, I so dislike how YouTube works. But as a TV and music consumer, I’m really loving it.

I already unplugged from most social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc) but was still pretty active on Twitter. But it’s becoming so dissatisfying. So I’ve decided for my 2020 resolution to unplug from Twitter – at least take a break. I’ll keep the account (many of my Reverb contacts are on Twitter), but maybe not post or hang out there much. I prefer hanging out with other bloggers or even vloggers, for that matter, for those moments when, as an artist, you feel the need to connect with the world in an interesting but introverted way.

For example, while I’m writing this, I’m watching the latest vid from Best Life and Beyond on YouTube, giving me a peek into Disneyland, the next best thing to actually being there, while working on a song and some writing. Social media is mostly a time waster.

 

Blogmas, Day 30: End-of-Year Ableton Live Progress (#blogmas)

Many of you blogging this blogmas have mentioned the books you’ve enjoyed reading over the holidays. And in the past, that might have been me, too, especially if you mean fiction. But this year I’ve been cramming learning Ableton Live, taking tutorials and reading non fiction books. Gearing up for FAWM (“February Album Writing Month”), I guess

Logic Pro X is my DAW of choice but as an EDM producer, I wanted to learn Ableton Live. It seems so suited to the music genre. But it’s been quite a struggle in some ways, in others it’s been a breeze. I think that’s because each DAW specializes in different areas. I can sit down and start creating a song right away in Logic Pro, in Ableton, it seems the simplest things are the most difficult. But when it comes to mastering more of the advanced features in music production, Ableton seems to do it much more easily.

And while I’ve been madly applying myself to music tutorials for Ableton, I stumbled upon some really cool ones for Logic Pro, too, and have learned some interesting things I’m quite excited about. What to do, what to do? Ableton Live or Logic Pro? Well, I suppose I really don’t have to choose because I imagine it’s good for a producer to know more than one DAW. The real choice is which one do I use in the moment? lol!

There are a lot of tutorials out there, but it can be challenging following along. Sometimes they use third party plug-ins that you don’t have or their techniques zip past you so fast, you can’t possibly keep up. I’ve probably tried dozens just on one site. Anyway, here’s a sample song I managed to figure out in Ableton Live (via Groove3) from programming drums and synths to mixing and adding special effects such as EQ, reverb, and automation.

Blogmas, Day 29: Best Elvis Tribute Artist (#blogmas)

So I guess I’m going to do this thing until the end of the year – lol!

Today’s Review Journal was a reminder of those we’ve lost this year and the photo of Trent Carlini, my favorite Elvis Tribute Artist, caught my attention. I saw him years ago in the “Legends in Concert” show. Afterward, he hung out with everybody, and I thought that was pretty cool.

Blogmas, Day 28: Winter Wonderland in Las Vegas (#blogmas)

When it snows in the surrounding mountains, the Las Vegas Valley takes on a beautiful hue. The only downside is that it can make  travel to/from Vegas a a bit of a challenge, often resulting in being stuck due to road closures. We usually don’t make travel plans this time of year or book a flight if need be.

From today’s Las Vegas Review Journal: