“She’s Not That Good” Goes Cruising…

I just returned from 7 nights on the Carnival Panorama still in her inaugural year that was cut short due to, well, you all know. She’s a beautiful ship, the cruise fare was a bargain, and no flights were required. Besides all that, I was hoping that freshly back from a cruise experience, I’d be overflowing with ideas on how to finish She’s Not That Good. I think I’ll have to wait. Why? Too much reality interferes with my imagination – lol!

What I will say is that my favorite part about cruising, besides being at sea, is being able to casually drop in and listen to a live band. Our favorite this cruise? The House Rock Band that played in the Ocean Plaza Bar, the best kept secret onboard the Panorama. We grabbed a couple glasses of wine and sat outside where we could take off our masks and still enjoy the music. I listened to the beats and my muse can’t wait to get back into the studio to write some new music.

But first we kicked off the cruise by indulging in the tasty “Orangesicle” (think “Pina Colada”) at the Tides Bar in the aft pool area.

The other favorite spot was actually the Atrium, a redesigned space on the Panorama that I wasn’t too fond of at first. Until I had a Tequila Sunrise, an old favorite cocktail from my youth, at the base of the Atrium. The atmosphere was much better, to me, lower rather than higher.

And I think that’s another favorite thing I like about cruising, Carnival cruising, in particular. I feel young again. And now I may be inspired to get back to writing.


Aft Pool, Carnival Panorama

Orangesicle, Tides Bar

Prosecco and White Wine, Ocean Plaza Bar


Tequila Sunrise, Bahama Mama, Panorama Atrium Bar

Wired for Story But Not The Kind You Might Think (#Music vs #Writing)

These days I enjoy reading about writing more than I do actual writing. My brain seems to have been rewired for music – not story. At least, not the kind of story you think of when NaNoWriMo hits the stage every November (for me, November is the worst month with Thanksgiving and travel).

Still, I keep trying to gear myself up for NaNoWriMo, even though I did it once and hated it. So why do I keep trying to do it? I was hoping to finally finish “She’s Not That Good,” but I’m thinking it’s time to put that one away for good. It’s “not that good” – lol! (And I don’t want to spend the time trying to make it that good.)

Or maybe because there’s been a bit of a letdown after 50/90 ended. I miss the music community. So when I peek into the NaNo forums looking for community, I notice there’s definitely a leaning toward younger and it all feels so corporate. I now remember how good it felt to leave Silicon Valley behind. Why would I want to step foot in it again? I don’t.

And so it’s back to Logic Pro 10.7, but this time using one of my 50/90 songs to try out some of those Dolby Atmos features. Oh, yeah, I’m much more excited about that. Here’s the song I’m going to be working on:

Now that’s my kind of story – a whole lot more fun than character sheets and outlines.

 

 

“Don’t Judge the Past by the Present” and Other Advice for Writers

“Don’t judge the past by the present.” – The wisest thing my mother ever said.

Today there’s a lot of judging about the past in the media. As I mentioned in my previous post Writing for Today’s Reader, there is also a lot of rewriting of history in today’s movies, TV shows, and plays.

The thing is, if you haven’t lived it, you might not know the true meaning of it. So often I see this on “The Voice.” The younger singers, even if they’re not that young, weren’t around when the song was first around and so they don’t get the nuances or know how to fully emote. Their technical skills are incredible. But the song falls flat because they don’t know how to convey the emotional meaning of the song.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. And one of the books is Dawn Eden’s The Thrill of the Chaste. We’re both Catholic converts and I’ve enjoyed two of her other books (My Peace I Give You and Remembering God’s Mercy). In “Chaste,” she mentions the song “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” by the Shirelles. She says this:

“She’s not looking for affirmation so much as absolution. All her man has to do is say he loves her–then a night of sin is transformed into a thing of beauty.”

“If the Shirelles tune were to be written today, the singer would likely have to lower the bar down to “Will You Respect Me Tomorrow?”–if even that.

Dawn is a talented writer but how did she miss the meaning? Perhaps because she wasn’t around when the song was first around. All she knew were the facts of who wrote it, who recorded it, when it was released, etc. But having lived through that time, even though I was just a kid, I knew–we all knew--that the real meaning behind the question of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” was really “Will You Respect Me Tomorrow?”

I don’t know how old “John from Nashville” on Songfacts is, but he got it right when he said, “This song is a clever way of saying ‘Will you respect me in the morning if I go home with you tonight?’ ”

My advice to writers? Talk to people who actually lived it, if at all possible. Instead of quoting tweets, for example, dig deeper to find the real meaning and the work will stand out.

Choosing Fun (#cruising #amwriting)

I gotta say, Carnival Cruise Lines has an awesome slogan of “Choose Fun” now being rolled out as “Back to Fun,” which is what we’re all looking for, right? I gotta tell ya, watching Ordinary Adventures “Symphony of the Seas” vlogs, I cried – so missing cocktails by the pool at sea!

I’m trying to get into the cruise mood to edit the third novel in the 3-book cruise series starting with Real Women Wear Red, continuing on to Real Women Sing the Blues to, hopefully, “Real Women Are Good Enough” (aka as “She’s Not That Good”). As much fun as “She’s Not That Good” sounds to me, I’m thinking I should stick with the “Real Women” precedent from the other 2 books.

I tried publishing it episode by episode on the new Kindle Vella, but have noticed my readers aren’t into that so I’m publishing it as a book, like all my others.

But after taking a music break, I don’t know… I may have to put this project back on hold or at least keep it on the slow path. I need my music!

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.

If Politics is the New Religion, Then Twitter is Church

I read somewhere that “politics is the new religion” and a light went off. So that’s why we all seem so divided and verbal about it today. This is a recent thing. Even if my childhood was long ago when people agreed not to discuss “politics or religion,” until recently, people really didn’t.

I’ve been trying to delete Twitter for some time (been off Facebook and Instagram for years – yay me!), but I keep going back for more of the Twitter Kool-aid. I keep believing the lie that somehow I need it. “Just this one,” I tell myself. I need one social media. YouTube doesn’t count, right?

But people on Twitter are annoying, to say the least, that it’s affecting how I feel about people. It’s giving me a somewhat skewed idea of who people are. This is not real life. There are plenty of lovely people out there. But social media (and reality TV shows) puts the idiots in my face. And they’ve never seemed more idiotic than during this pandemic.

Just yesterday somebody tweeted something like, “Have you ever known just looking at a person that they must be Republican?”

I’m neither Democrat nor Republican so I wasn’t offended by the statement. But that view, in my opinion, is taking politics way too far.

I deleted (deactivated) my Twitter account again today. I don’t want to be a member of a cult.

The other social media trouble spot I have is with Youtube and YouTubers. For me, that usually means the Disney vloggers and cruise vloggers where, after a while, I must question their value. I receive value from musicians showing me how to use Ableton Live or LogicPro.

But the reason I say I don’t receive much value from Disney and cruise vloggers, is that their experience is not your experience. Besides, at closer inspection, you realize their content reveals them to be either too stupid, too dishonest, or too lazy to educate themselves on their topic (not all, but way too many).

They’ve so fooled people that people send them gifts and money as if that will give them some kind of similar experience. My experience is always different from theirs. But sometimes I’m tempted to peek in when I can’t have that experience. What I’ve discovered is that by watching their experience, my experience is less than.

Full disclosure: I have a YouTube channel where I upload videos from my travels, or book trailers for my novels, and include some of my music. And I don’t mind others who do that. But not the ones who are aggressively marketing their channel, who will use click-bait headlines, the ones who make it their daily job to come up with just about anything to get views, often giving dishonest reviews, those who hold live chats where people send them “super chats” and they may or may not interact with you if you don’t (mostly not).

I confess, I watch them way too often. It’s been unbelievably tough during this pandemic, my head is still swimming, and I think a lot of us have leaned on YouTubers to get us through this. I know my channel got a lot of subscribers during this time, and are probably now busy unsubscribing – lol! I know I am.

I’m much better off if I spend my time in my studio, writing songs, producing tracks, writing stories, and reading. My latest find that I can’t wait to get to? The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection
(found on Author Roni Loren’s blog when she was trying to focus her life away from the internet and to encourage her son to spend quality time unplugged.

This is just one book on her list. I’ve read a few of these and find them fascinating how the internet and social media is changing our brains. Now that’s scary. But I’m hoping it’s just more inspiration to get me away from all of it, including YouTube.

Managing social media and other distractions is even more important for writers and other artists. After all, “Solitude courts the muse.”

 

 

Music Playing on an Endless Loop in my Head

Musicians, tell me, when you’re working on a song, does it play on an endless loop in your head? If so, how do you cope? I asked my Bass playing uncle about that one time and he said there’s nothing to be done. Yikes! Maybe I should skip this music stuff and return to writing fiction, although sometimes my sentences would play on a loop, too, especially when editing.

But I so love music. And the loop doesn’t even have to be running when I’m working on a song. Just listening to music will do that to me, especially the songs I love most and get stuck in my head.

I’m starting to realize the truth to what my father said when we were getting to know each other that “All my kids play the drums.” That was such an epiphany for me!

At first I was content programming drums in my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), but now that I have a new Launchkey, I find myself drumming right before bed. I come upstairs and I can’t resist the colorful “Vegas mode” (yes, it’s really called that) lights, sit down in front of my keyboard and start drumming.

I’m starting to exhaust myself and FAWM hasn’t even started yet (February 1).

 

 

Chasing the Muse at 5 a.m.

It’s 5 a.m. and my head full of song ideas feels like it’s about to burst. The muse is calling quite inconveniently. I’d love to obey and sit in my music studio and start belting out some lyrics while fingering some piano chords. But that would disrupt the household – my husband who is sleeping before getting up to start his work day (at home) and the cats (one cat loves to sing along with me). Even without hubby now working full-time at home during this global situation, it wouldn’t be kind to start blasting music at this hour – lol!

The countdown to FAWM is upon me and I don’t feel prepared. Every song I write to keep my skills limber seems to suck! I have imposter syndrome – lol. I’m starting to feel like Brandi, the leading lady in “She’s Not That Good” (my wip I’m editing and posting bits of here).

I don’t feel comfortable wailing in my studio with my husband sitting in the next room over working. We’re a close couple but I’m used to having the house to myself during the day. Perhaps I should sit and edit my novel instead of music right now. It’s a quieter endeavor I can do any time, night or day, alone or in a crowd. Life was simpler before music. Ha!

This time last year we were building a new home, living in a rental much to be desired but the saving grace was the casita – a separate building I used for my studio. I could blast music any time, night or day. Wow! That was awesome! The best part about that rental house. It was perfect for FAWM.

I woke up with so many musical ideas, but they’re starting to fade. This is really frustrating. But they probably weren’t that good – they just seemed like it at 5 a.m.

At best, I can write this blog post, write notes to myself or work on lyrics, I suppose. But as I read this back, it sounds like one big whining session, and I’m so sorry for that.

But, wait, I’ve started to work on a song using my DAW and headphones and I think I’m onto something. So, yeah, it’s always best to find some way to catch what the muse is throwing your way, no matter the circumstances.

4 Weeks ’til #FAWM2021

Today, the first Monday of the new year marks 4 weeks until the beginning of FAWM. And I think, for me this year, that means creating an album of remixes using some Latina House samples I’ve purchased from Sonic Academy.

Remember that TV show “Semi-Homemade” where Sandra, I think was her name, took some sort of dish already kinda made but then added her own touch to it? Well, that’s the kind of cook I am. In fact, I’m discovering that I’m also really digging the concept when it comes to music. At least for now.

So for the next 4 weeks, I’m going to be preparing for that. Gathering my samples, translating/rewriting lyrics, etc. for song ideas. That means I won’t have time to continue editing SNTG during the week. Instead, I’ll be posting my chapters on this blog over the weekend. Stay tuned for Chapter 1.

In the meantime, here’s a piece of a song that I’m working on remixing. Next step: recording the lyrics in English.

Music Production, Writing, Reading… Running Out of Coping Mechanisms

Watching videos of people enjoying the Christmas festivities at Disney World, well, I can’t help but feel a little jealous. With California’s strict reopening guidelines and Disneyland’s reluctance to open up any of the parks (i.e., Knott’s Berry Farm) until now, and the cruising industry’s slow road to recovery, Nevada getting close to lockdown again, well, I’m going a little crazy. I mean, who isn’t, right?

I’ve spent these last 8 months at home working on music, switching back and forth between Ableton Live and Logic Pro, the latter due to the 10.5 updates. And now with news of Ableton Live 11 coming out soon, well, there’s even more for me to dive into. But there’s also a lot of stress with all of that learning and it wears me out. So I’ve taken time to read and even work on a couple of manuscripts I’ve started writing. But nothing, really, after all these months, is really working toward peace of mind. Prayers and positivity help, of course, but when there’s an underlying or maybe not so underlying crisis happening, it’s really hard to escape.

I think many of us felt a bit of relief when Biden won, even if we weren’t big Biden supporters, if only because, in my case, I did not want to sit back and watch the lunatic, aka the Narcissist for another 4 years. His behavior since the election validates everything I know about Narcissists. And once you’ve had an experience up close with one, you don’t need a psychology degree to get it. Maybe you get it even more than somebody who has just studied it. Experience is a great teacher.

So with heavy handed governors issuing mandates (sometimes necessary, but, perhaps, not done in the best way) and a lunatic for a president, it’s like reliving a dysfunctional childhood all over again. The artist’s spiritual life and food and drink and rearranging the furniture a zillion times helps for a while, but I’m running out of coping mechanisms.

Today’s joy, though, was picking up my latest copy of Electronic Musician. Just reading the masthead made me smile, reminding me of my early days in San Francisco working in production on Mac User magazine. So cool to see my name listed as Production Manager. That took me to McGraw-Hill Publishing in Berkeley, but the most fascinating part of that was sharing the building with a music studio and seeing a glimpse of artists like MC Hammer getting out of the limo. The MC Hammer dancers lived in an apartment complex down the street from mine.

And so, when all is said and done and things are back to normal and I can cruise the high seas and relive my childhood at Disneyland, well, in the end, it’s all about the art, the music, and the spiritual journey I am on.