Questions (#Lyric #Poem)

If I asked mere questions, it wasn’t to gossip
But to fill in the air that poetry leaves
Like whispering trees or a dripping faucet
Rushing Hardy Falls where I once grieved

How can you know the buttons and the brass
Internally observed when cutting teeth
Sitting in Mr. Clukas’ poetry class
Deprived of your presence like the air that I breathe

If I seemed to you rude when I inquired within
It wasn’t to make a judgment of some mortal sin
I came to you with nothing but a clean, blank slate
Looking for you to fill it like your favorite plate

Breaking Out of “Cave Syndrome” with the Help of Tommy Bahama

After over a year of isolation, writing and producing music in my home studio, I had a feeling I would find it difficult to get back to “normal” life. I’d remembered how during a time in the Bay Area in-between jobs, I found it difficult to leave Fremont to commute to San Jose. And after this past year when my world shrank even more, I would not be surprised if I struggled to go out for fun.

We’d gone to SoCal a few times for special events at Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland, but I kept finding reasons not to go out to a restaurant here in Las Vegas. Rich kept making reservations at Tommy Bahama, but I talked him into ordering in from various places instead.

But when I found myself sitting in the garage Friday afternoon waiting for Rich to finish his work day in his upstairs office, reading about “Cave Syndrome,” I knew it was time to take steps.

Rich made another reservation at Tommy’s and we actually went. But walking to the restaurant from the parking garage, passing strangers wearing the usual masks, I wondered if I was truly ready. Had this thing changed me forever, leaving me in a mental haze where all of life seems a bit dim?

But as soon as we were seated, we noticed that unlike Disney, we were not required to sit there wearing masks until our food arrived, and, unlike Disney, our server was mask free (allowed if vaccinated), my heart leapt with joy! Suddenly, life was feeling a lot rosier, the fog began to lift. And by the time my Blood Orange Margarita and Rich’s Key Lime Martini arrived, I was downright ecstatic!

I began to feel hopeful that there is, indeed, life after Covid, that I can do the WDW trip, and that maybe even our November cruise is possible! It was quite a watershed moment.

Sound Familiar? #Push2 #AbletonLive #Fun

So I’m playing around with some sounds during a melody practice tutorial for Ableton Live’s Push2 and I stumble across the “ACME Organ” sample and start playing some notes. Does the beginning sound familiar? No doubt if you’re a Disney fan.

Somehow my finger (ear) finds these things right off the bat, which can be annoying when you’re trying to come up with something semi-original (what is really original these days?). So then I start doing my own variation. I confess I love playing around with sounds.

And I guess I really am in the mood to get back to Disneyland/Disney World.

How Silicon Valley Prepared Me for Book and Music Production

Reading It’s All About Him, written by Alan Jackson’s wife, Denise, I’m thinking how when I heard “Here in the Real World,” back in 1992, working in book production at a Silicon Valley high-tech firm, I thought he’d really made it. But when the song came out in 1990, he was far from making it at all. Living in a tiny basement apartment in Nashville with a pregnant wife, “Here in the Real World” was the second song his label had released and it was unclear whether they would keep him or drop him.

I started thinking about how successful I felt in Silicon Valley when I moved into technical writing, earning writing and publishing awards from the “Society of Technical Publications.” I sometimes say I got my PhD in that world, and, for the most part, it was a really awesome fit for me: the companies I worked for, the people I worked with (eventually marrying one of my co-workers), and the opportunities it brought me.

I would later grow wearing of that stressful, high-pressure day-to-day life, Las Vegas became my relaxing getaway, wondering what it would be like to be a cocktail waitress – lol! Eventually, my heart would start leading me to more creative pursuits.

I began writing fiction, starting with short stories as part of the well-known  “The Writer’s Loft” program in Chicago. I moved into fiction and by the time I wrote my third novel, Real Women Wear Red, at the height of the Chick Lit boom, I got an agent, and was offered a publishing contract.

Long story short, when the Indie author movement started going strong, I was able to use my book production skills to publish as an Indie author. I’ve done better as an Indie than I did when I was with publishers, certainly, the smaller publishers.

But then that market became oversaturated and I kept dreaming of my first love, music. In my youth, I didn’t pursue music as an artist because I knew you had to be spectacular to make it and while I’d sung a bit here and there, I wasn’t spectacular by a long shot. And I didn’t know of any other music path, at least not one I was interested in.

Fast forward to today with the ability to produce your own music in your own studio. Now I see that those same book production skills (with a propensity toward software) I learned in Silicon Valley help me now with continuing to learn new music production skills.

Push2 is the latest instrument I’m learning and with that and my Novation Launchkey keyboard, I’m hoping to advance more in more in creating my own melodies, instead of relying on loops and samples. Recently, a collab partner from FAWM told me he wants to release one of our songs commercially, but the melody was not copyright free so we could not use it. Between his piano skills and my production skills, I think we’ve come up with something we can use instead.

I have no idea where music will take me, even if it’s just the thrill of making it for myself, but I’m excited when I think about how far I’ve come from Silicon Valley production editor to producing my own music.

 

Round Goes the Night (#poem)

The spinning of the fan in the ceiling goes round
Fills the room with cinema and sound
The cat tree in the corner spirals in place
The whirling of the dancing cone cools my face

Thoughts in my head twist and turn
Lessons in Push will I ever learn
Poems and lyrics, simple that I write
Bring peace and rest until daylight

The cat is sleeping, quiet as a mouse
Do I risk breaking the stillness of the house
Will he awaken demanding his time
Warming up his vocals in rhythm and rhyme

Four hours til dawn too early to tell
Snoozing on my lap or sounding a yell
Too soon for coffee way before first light
Sleeping with one eye open round goes the night

The Power of Home (#poem)

This feeling of home owns a power I cannot control
It exacts a price I don’t always know
It binds me to its side in a prison of my own
Of isolation, loneliness, of being alone

It calls to me in memories of long ago
It whispers in wimpers of four walls and a floor
Awakening to music, knocking door to door
I hear the one missing, hidden before I was four

The desert is stunning when the sun begins to rise
The tropics tempt me to live fully alive
To live without one for any length of time
Sends me packing for a new state of mind

How is it possible to love two at a time
Pulling me in circles to walk a straight line
Round and round and round I go
Where I stop only God knows

Fight for Me (#poem #conversationswithmyself #wip)

This is version 1, a work in progress

Give me honor, not pity
Give me justice, not excuses
Fight for me, don’t feel sorry for me
Stand up for me, don’t watch me fall
Assuming I won’t get up, that I can’t fight for myself
That I won’t claim the victory
And know this
That everything I’ve done has been out of strength, not weakness
Don’t assume
That I can’t stand tall
Or respect myself, most of all

Push2 Has Stolen My Heart in My New Red Studio #Ableton

Ableton Live’s Push2 arrived last Friday and my first order of business was to rearrange my studio. First, I got a small, corner desk to replace the tri-level monster I thought I had to have.

Unfortunately, this bedroom in this house is smaller than I’m used to. I got out the tape measure and it is not the 10×10.1 feet the floorplan showed. It was supposed to be .1” larger than hubby’s next door. As it turns out, his is larger so we switched rooms. I left him the large desk because smaller spaces don’t bother him the way they do me.

Anyway, his office with the large desk looks so professional, compared to the dining room table he was using. And that room has always had more of a masculine feel with the dark grey drapes and chair. It’s perfect for him.

So, not only did I get the bigger room, but a smaller, corner desk was what I was after, along with red drapes, red bookcase, and red chair. I am so pleased.

And then I was ready to install Push2 and start playing with it (with some tutorial guidance via Sonic Academy). I am having a blast! So much so that I totally hated spending some time editing the third book of the “Real Women Wear Red” trilogy yesterday morning. (Now you see why my studio is decorated in red – lol!)

Don’t know if I will get back to editing since I’d like to really know what I’m doing with Push2 by the time 50/90 begins in July. Besides, my heart just isn’t into writing fiction these days. That time may be behind me now. Now it’s all about the music!

The next step, I think, is to get this table I saw on Wayfair to replace the low bench. Then I can have a place for my third keyboard instead of it sitting on the chair. The red chair may not fit if I do, though. I may have to keep looking for the right thing.

#DeleteTwitter Countdown: April 30, 2021

Two days ago I deleted my Twitter account again. As a member since 2007, it’s been hard for me to pull the final plug and allow it to expire in 30 days, which is how you delete Twitter. Actually, you deactivate and 30 days later, if you don’t log in, your account is deleted. I’ve never made it that far.

I logged in the day after, reactivating my account, thinking nobody would read this blog if I didn’t post it to Twitter. And then I deactivated it again after reading the first chapter of Stillness is the Key (another book recommendation from Roni Loren).

It’s not that his thoughts are all completely new to me or that I need Buddha to be told these things. No, not at all. But, in addition to presenting new thoughts, it also validates and is a reminder of what I already know. That’s often true for me and probably for you, too. You just have to allow yourself time to think and tune out all the noise out there.

I like the idea that by June 1st, to round things off, I could be Twitter-free.

Last Track Before Push 2 #Ableton #Music #Producer

I finally did it – ordered Push 2! It’s on its way. In the meantime, I’m finishing up some tutorials highlighting the new features on Ableton Live 11.

To experiment, I started playing around with some Disco sounds and came up with this track – it may be the last track I create in Ableton 11 before getting Push 2. Curious what I will do with Push 2, but the part that I find the most intriguing is the drum sequencer. We’ll see how it goes…

And then there’s that Dub/Techno riff I mentioned earlier… perhaps that will be the first track using Push 2.

 

“Never Met a Machine I Didn’t Like”

Will Rogers may have said, “I never met a man I didn’t like,” but my mother once said, “I never met a machine I didn’t like.”

Reading some of the “End of Absence” book I mentioned in my previous post, I realized a couple of things:

  1. The problem today isn’t the internet, it’s social media
  2. How you perceive problems today is who you are

In illustrating the “problem” today, the author tells the story of babies used to pinching an iPad to gain a bigger view and doing the same thing to a newspaper or magazine, as if that’s a problem.

The truth is, I do the same thing when I’m using a laptop. So used to mobile devices, I automatically expect the same thing on a laptop. Besides, when the baby gets older, he’ll know the difference between a paperback and an iPad. And no doubt they will still be around. After all, vinyl records have made a comeback when people thought they were gone for good.

I believe in human nature, and if all this technology creates a problem in the future, they’ll figure it out.

As for kids texting each other when they’re sitting next to each other, perceiving it as a need for companionship without the hassles of real-life people, I have to say that maybe that is a valid solution in today’s crowded, super busy world. If you know history or have watched movies set in the past or have read historical fiction, you’re aware of the “mountain” men who struggled when this country began to be populated. They increasingly sought out the wilderness, going to Alaska, etc.

So maybe texting each other, even in the same room is okay if you’re not neglecting other people in the room. Introverts react to today differently than extroverts.

Artists (writers, musicians, painters, etc) may react differently, too.

I’m definitely an introvert and have been using computers since 1976, unlike most people of my generation who reluctantly started using computers only when “forced” to.

I’m probably more comfortable behind a computer than sitting in a group of people I’m expected to interact with. But no worries there, I remember my mother, a business machines major back in the 1950s, once said, “I never met a machine I didn’t like.” We teased her about that and she laughed, a bit embarrassed. But oh so telling.

People are different and we all react to today’s technology differently. I, personally think the problem is social media, not technology. I’m absolutely thrilled how technology has given me the opportunity to create electronic dance music. I may be older and do not have kids so I don’t always know what’s going on with them, but my music is one way I connect with younger people. And I love that.

From “House” to “Dub” “Techno”: Discovering New Sounds in Ableton Live 11

I’m really getting into Ableton Live 11 and during one of my projects, I discovered this “Dub Techno” sample, and I really dig it. Hoping to flesh out a whole track based on this.

And here I thought I was a “House” girl only.

 

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).

 

“Best of FAWM” Album Now on BandCamp

Did I tell you how I kept thinking about uploading an album on Bandcamp back when it was a plug-in on WordPress.com? Well, I finally got around to finishing the album and uploaded it on Bandcamp, but now it’s no longer a thing on WordPress. Sheesh! Oh well, at least I got it done – lol!

And here it is:

“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.

EDM: For Those Who Connect With Sound, Not Lyrics (#EDM #Music #Producer #Novelist #WritingCommunity)

I read this tweet (no, I haven’t quite deleted my Twitter account, although I do try to keep my peeks to a minimum), and this thought resonated with me. It explains so much. Especially when I realized I liked the sound of words, not the words themselves. This goes way back to the first grade. I loved the word “said” and the name “David” – the “d” sounds like a drum in my head.

When I met my father later in life (I may or may not have met him when I was a small child), he said, “All my kids play the drums.” Bingo! Then my life started to make sense. The more I connect with music (especially EDM – Electronic Dance Music in case you don’t know), the more I understand myself.

But when my literary agent told me my writing had a “poetic, almost lyrical rhythm to it,” I wondered what that meant. My father’s family were all musicians (guitarists, keyboardists, drummers, bassists, etc), going back to time immemorial, and my grandmother wrote poetry, I thought that must mean I was supposed to be a songwriter. Lyrics must be my thing. And so I enrolled in a modern musician certificate program starting with songwriting. I ended up realizing the difference between poems and lyrics and that it takes a special skill to translate those words into words that go with music. That was not my gift.

My gift that I’m exploring is sound design. I have so much to learn but I absolutely love it! One of my uncles was a sound engineer and so that makes sense. I may also be a storyteller, but not through lyrics. I have good family direction. My uncle said, “Now that you know you’re a Holmes, you’re gonna wanna pay attention to music.” And my dad said, “Keep writing. You must fulfill your destiny.”

And so I continue to juggle both. One gives me a break from the other, refreshing me for both. I may resist that, but I think I need that.

 

Screamie Birds St. Paddy House Party

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

In honor of the occasion, I put together a playlist of some of my favorite tracks I’ve created during 50/90 and FAWM. This time I used Ableton Live 11 to produce the track and, let me tell you, it was far more producer friendly than Logic Pro, although I do kinda like creating in Logic.

Hope you enjoy!