Top 10 Playlist for #NaNoWriMo

While I haven’t signed up officially to do NaNo this year, I have committed to finally finishing She’s Not That Good this month. I’m in the final editing stages of this particular draft (I’ve lost count), and should have it off to my editor next week. And then the next round begins… will this be the final draft before end of year release? I doubt it – lol! But each draft brings new clarity to the story.

So, if you’re doing NaNo and even if you aren’t, I’ve got a recommended playlist for you. This artist, Wolf Kier, is currently my favorite. His songs – lyrics, guitar, bass, drums, and vocals – really stand out for me. The first few times I heard him, I thought “David Bowie.” So check out my top 10 favorites on YouTube.

Pink Fur Collar

Like a Fool

One Day Out of Memphis

Bury Mary

Mrs. Wilson

A Girl Like You

She Brings Me

Miss You More

Love’s Exquisite Mystery

Then Comes Five

Oh wait, there’s one more favorite I can’t leave off the list. Consider it a bonus – lol!

Real This Time

And then there’s Summer Number One

See if you can find your favorites!

Switching From Music to Writing (#amediting #amwriting #amreading)

Now that 50/90 is officially over and Rocktober is winding down, it really is time I get back to editing “She’s Not That Good.” And I am – yay! For some reason it takes me all day to warm up to opening up my wip, whereas with my music, it’s so much easier to get started – just bang out a chord or play a loop and you’re off and running!

Reading helps me get started writing. Shorter rather than longer seems to be my style. So I’m seriously thinking this book is going to be a novella – it seems to suit the story and shorter novels are more of a thing with digital books. My last book (Raining Men) is a novella.

Here are 3 books I’m reading on writing:

  • Writing the Novella by Sharon Oard Warner
  • The 90-Day Novel and The 90-Day Rewrite by Alan Watt
  • The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson

What I’m reading for pleasure and for inspiration:

  • My Name is Lucy Barton: A Novel (although cited on one site as a novella) by Elizabeth Strout
  • Sorry Not Sorry by Sophie Ranald (similar to the style of “She’s Not That Good”)
  • Baby On His Hollywood Doorstep (example of category historical romance) by Lauri Robinson (have enjoyed her flapper novels)

I’d really like to finish this book by the end of the year. Fingers crossed!

Synthwave Takeover Plus Addicted to the Alexandra Mallory Series (#amreading #amproducing #notwriting)

I’m now on book 10 (The Woman in the Storm) of the Alexandra Mallory series by Cathryn Grant. I’m hooked! Binge reading. This is so unusual for me these days. To find one book, let alone a whole series I can get so immersed in. That’s because Cathryn Grant is a brilliant writer. And it doesn’t hurt that we have such similar backgrounds. I can so “relate” to the character, setting, the writer’s voice, writing trajectory, Silicon Valley career, super strict religious background etc. (see Writing is Murder: Motive, Means, and Opportunity).

Ironically, though, I think that is who I used to be. I’m now immersing myself in electronic music, my passion far stronger than writing, as it turns out. Cathryn inspires me to think about getting back to writing, but as soon as I sit down at my desk, I see my music keyboard and microphone and get totally lost in creating some music. Other than an occasional scene, my wips just can’t get any traction. Music has always been my first love and once I said that out loud, I had to ask myself why I was pursuing a career in fiction instead of music.

Speaking of music, as I prepare for 50/90, I’m also excited by Sonic Academy’s “Synthwave Takeover” going on in the month of June, starting today. Don’t think I’ll be able to participate in the remix contest, though, since we’re getting ready to move cross country. But SynthWave is an interesting, retro genre that I’m more than a bit interested in. Who doesn’t love 80s music? Especially in a new, fresh way.

“The Woman in the Water” Excerpt (#amreading #bookreview)

I’ve recently discovered a fascinating psychological suspense author Cathryn Grant. She makes some interesting insights into the human psyche through her characters. And I love her writing (although she may use “shoved” a bit too often – lol).

This passage from The Woman in the Water (the second in a series) especially spoke to me. Maybe because right before Covid, we had downsized and the smallness is really getting to me, especially now that we’re both working at home full-time. But I’m not as comfortable leaving the house, pushing through crowds and being around people as much as before Covid.

The Woman in the Water
by Cathryn Grant

“A large home provides a chance to lock yourself away from the chaos. Inside your house, surrounded by a decent-sized piece of property, there aren’t any panhandlers or solicitors. There aren’t any madmen ranting extreme political views, unless you choose to turn on the TV. You don’t have to smell loathsome perfume and cologne, or hear music that rips the nerves right out through your skin. There aren’t any people talking in loud voices, drowning out your own thoughts or quiet conversation with your dinner companion. There’s no litter and filthy sidewalks, no dog shit and broken glass, no threats to your physical safety.

All of those things are more or less first-world problems but that doesn’t lessen my aversion to them. With a quiet, well-secured, spacious home, you encounter the world on your timetable, your terms. Instead of having humanity shoved down your throat, you can brush up against it as you please, taking small sips. Humanity is like a martini—nice if sipped slowly, knocks you on your ass if you absorb too much too fast.

The world is a crowded place. It’s overrun with traffic and barking dogs, unimaginative strip malls with unkempt facades, cars sitting in front yards, screaming children, and unwanted odors.

But a beautiful home isn’t just about what you want to avoid.

Human beings were meant to possess space and beauty. We feel that in our souls.

Sure the crush of people going to a baseball game has a certain excitement—the sheer mass of humanity with all their thoughts moving in a similar vein. There’s energy and connectedness. The crowds surging through Times Square or down Bourbon Street, a giddy appreciation for the variety of living souls and the noise of conversation—a thousand minds verbalizing their thoughts, small bites of the things they have to say caught as you pass by, usually forgotten, sometimes remembered as clearly as if they were speaking directly to you.

But overload causes frayed nerves. Lack of control over your environment leads to despair.

When there’s adequate space, breathing becomes relaxed and comfortable. You don’t feel the crush of your possessions piled on top of each other, towering over you, moving closer as if they want to swallow you alive. There’s room for closets filled with shelves and cabinets and drawers. When the space is too small and all your things are exposed, it begins to feel as if insects have invaded your home. You hear their jaws grinding as they move ever closer. Your skin crawls, and your limbs twitch with a frantic desire to escape the sense of confinement.

Despite the thrill of crowds at sporting events and inside bars and clubs, the human body needs space like it needs water and food. Standing in a park or at the peak of a mountain gives a feeling of calm and freedom. A large house does the same thing. A spacious bed where you can stretch out, even when someone is lying beside you, even a tall man who takes up a lot of room with his height and the heft of his muscle. A shower large enough for two, and a long counter with an enormous mirror where you can dry your hair and put on makeup without tripping over each other, a mascara wand shoved in your eye.”

“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.

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. What do I mean “I think?” Of course, I am. And I’m almost finished editing She’s Not That Good. Stay tuned to Screamie Birds Studios here at for the release date.

Drummer Dottie Dodgion Leads Me To Ableton Live/Push2

So I’m thinking I need to know more about drumming since the drums seem to be my favorite instrument in electronic music. I searched online for “female drummer,” thinking I’d be able to relate even more since the music industry is so heavily male. And who do I find but Dottie Dodgion who drummed with all the greats in her time until she was 91. We’re talking the 50s/60s when a female drummer was unheard of. I also discovered she died just this last September.

And then I discovered her autobiography The Lady Swings: Memoirs of a Jazz Drummer. So, naturally, I snapped that up, and I am completely enthralled with her story. And completely humbled. Her father was a drummer so she internalized all that he knew and did, besides having inherited those genes, and a lifetime of learning and practicing and loving her instrument.

My father said, after I met him later in life, “All my kids play the drums.” In fact, his grandson, my nephew, earned a degree in Jazz Performance at Fresno State. You guessed it – he played drums.

And then my life started to make a lot of sense. My uncle said “Now that you know you’re a Holmes, you’re going to want to pay attention to music.” I’ve always loved music, sang and played the keys, guitar, violin when I was young, but didn’t really do much with it as an adult beyond turning the radio up loud, windows rolled down, racing my black Pontiac down Cornell Road in Portland, Oregon.

Although most of the music I create usually falls into the “House” category of EDM, I love all genres, including Jazz. Naturally (I keep using that word), I desired to know more about it and downloaded the Peter Magadini Jazz Drums tutorial from Groove3.

I’m totally intimidated, realizing that being a traditional drummer is beyond me (or, at least, my interest), but I can learn a lot by knowing as much as I can about the drums by studying different genres.

I also realized that this is where Ableton Live shines over Logic Pro, at least to me, when it comes to programming drums using the drum rack and Push2. I am finally motivated to spend more time learning Ableton and Push.

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.