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:

Blogmas, Day 27: Make Mine a Hemingway (#blogmas)

I’m a bit late with today’s blogmas post, but we were having such fun out, I just now got around to posting.

I think this is one of the best parts about the Holidays – that time after Christmas before New Year’s when we often take a day off and hang out at a favorite restaurant.

Today’s choice was Tommy Bahama’s Cafe in Las Vegas Town Square, one of our favorite hangouts where tourists meet locals. It’s extra fun at Christmas with the decorations and holiday events. Happy Hour is daily and the bar lounge is cozy and offers live entertainment.

But we were there for lunch. And what a lunch it was! Delicious, amazing food, great service, the kind of tropical atmosphere where you think you’re on a Caribbean cruise (or back living in Florida).

I’d totally planned on having a glass of wine with lunch but when I saw the Hemingway (rum martini), I had to have it. Scallops and shrimp with lemongrass and curry sauce over almond rice – divine! Rich had the classic Mai Tai with ribs, mashes potatoes with cauliflower mix, and a slaw with cilantro!

The shops are always fun, and we picked up a couple of trinkets before discovering there’s an Ethel M’s outpost right next door! So we had to purchase a box made up the latest favorite booze candy flavor – the dark chocolate with tequila – and the dark chocolate salted caramel – making friends after spreading the word.

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Blogmas, Day 26: Starving Artist vs Thriving Artist (#blogmas)

Blogmas was so much fun, I, like many of you, have decided to extend it for a little bit longer. And as I grapple with plans for 2020 (as many of you), I’ve been doing a lot of mad reading.

My current read is Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins, and I’ve made some interesting discoveries as he makes many points about the “starving artist” vs the “thriving artist.”

Like maybe I don’t have to choose and shouldn’t choose between going all in with music or writing. I should be pursuing both. I can’t seem to help myself anyway, so I may as well give myself permission. The real challenge, I think, is getting up-to-speed on the music so that I can juggle both.

Here are a couple of insightful quotes I found:

Your art is never beholden to a single form. You can always change and evolve, and the best artists do this regularly. They understand that in order to thrive, you have to master more than one skill.

Starving Artists believe that to make a living you must make money off your art. But Thriving Artists don’t just live off their art. Like good investors, they keep diverse portfolios, relying on multiple income streams to make a living. Rarely do they go all in on any single area of work. The challenge, then, is knowing what investments to make and when.

Good advice, I think. The thing is, I can’t really stand over either one and demand it pay off. I do the work, put it out there, and then the return on my investment comes as a surprise when I least expect it. My job as an artist is to suit up and show up.

 

Blogmas, Day 25: Ghost of Christmas Past (#blogmas)

Standing in the toy aisle of ABC, a discount warehouse store in Southern California where we did our bi-monthly grocery shopping way before there was Walmart or Costco or Target, I inhaled the scent of plastic dolls brightly packaged and stacked on ceiling-high shelves. There was something magical about Christmas, even the small piece I got to celebrate.

Presents would definitely be stacked on a wall in the living room once they were revealed from their hiding places such as the hall closet. Creative shapes such as giraffes and other creatures would entertain the kids. Perhaps they wouldn’t notice there was no tree, decorations, or that the presents would be opened on the day or two before Christmas.

Visiting the neighbors across the street, I was mesmerized by the silver tree decorated just inside the front door with strings of Christmas cards hung across the top, and presents underneath. And the romance of the beautiful Christmas carols I sang with the school choir with my mother and brother in the audience was a night to remember. My step dad was usually missing, but, then, he often worked at night.

Somewhere around New Year’s neighborhood parties would hold sway. Roy Orbison on the stereo, mixed nuts, ruffled potato chips and French onion dip served in gold-leaf dishes set the stage. After too many Screwdrivers and other cocktails, the parents would sleep in and we’d get out of bed hoping to share in some of the spoils from the night before.

“Hello ‘der” told the story of somebody’s mom and somebody’s dad when the day finally greeted them after crawling out of bed. A Polaroid photo of another dad with one leg out of his pants revealing his boxers revealed more to the kids than they’d planned on.

I was thankful I had gifts and no matter what day we opened them, at least when we returned to school in the new year and when kids asked what I got for Christmas, I had answers to give. My mother said one year they were tempted to put up a tree, but what would happen if my Jehovah’s Witness grandmother should show up and see it? I remember what happened when she caught us with an American Flag for Flag Day.

Today, all of that is behind me. Today, I embrace Christmas trees, cards, carols, and all the bright lights to somehow give myself what I had missed. It’s never quite enough. What is enough is living the promise I sang in those songs about Bethlehem and mangers, wise men, drummer boys, silver bells, and bright stars. But most of all, Little Lord Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Merry Christmas!

 

Blogmas, Day 24: War of Art (#blogmas)

War of Art by Steven Pressfield was one of the books circling the Writing Community back when I first started writing. For some reason, I recently dug it out (on Kindle) and reread it. And then I downloaded the follow-up book Do the Work. I highly recommend it if you have any desire at all about pursuing art as a profession instead of a hobby or anything in-between.

I’ve been juggling writing and music, unsure about how to pursue which one. Is one my profession and the other hobby or both professions or both hobbies? What do I really want to accomplish with either?

One reason I did the December book tour for Déjà Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon and #Blogmas featuring all of my books, was to see if I could get my writing career back moving in the forward direction it had been moving before social media and the new algorithm, before the saturation of other books and writers, before fantasy and vampires and erotica took over the world (or whatever it was that halted that forward momentum), to see how serious readers and the Universe are about me as a writer. But, perhaps, the real reason for the turn was to turn me toward my real calling, which just might be music.

I’ve tried to pursue both, but I really think you need to choose one or the other if you’re going to pursue any as a profession. Besides the tours, as a good-bye salute, I’ve also made sure all of my books are available in paperback as well as Kindle. Some had only been available in digital form. I guess I’m wrapping things up to prepare the way to move on.

Of course, if the world clamors for my books on Amazon, breathing new life into my writing career, okay, then I’ll get that message to keep providing new books. Otherwise, I’m going to assume music is my future calling and 2020 is the time to go all in.

 

Blogmas, Day 23: The Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon Book Tour Wraps Up (#blogmas)

Since the book tour extends beyond Blogmas, I thought I’d list the last 4 stops on this post. And then I can talk about other things to wrap up Blogmas for this year.

Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon Book Tour Final Stops:

Monday, December 23 – All the Ups and Downs

Thursday, December 26- Jazzy Book Reviews

Friday, December 27: Gimme the Scoop

Friday, December 27: All About Books

And that’s a wrap for December’s book tour.

That leaves two more days of Blogmas. Hopefully we can find something fun to talk about. See ya real soon!

Blogmas, Day 22: Booze Candy at the Cactus Garden (#blogmas)

One of our annual traditions here in Las Vegas is to visit the lights at the Cactus Garden (Ethel M’s) and to pick up some booze candy – lol!

Each year we try to get there around dusk to beat the crowds before the night bursts into full swing. Each year I take photos but the lights are difficult to photograph well, at least with my iPhone – lol! But each year I try anyway, I can’t resist – it’s such a fun Christmas outing.

There is an assortment of liquor or non liquor candy collections or you can build your own, but this is our favorite:

They must be eaten within two weeks. Oh darn!

Blogmas, Day 20: Missing Dad at Christmas (#blogmas)

As it turns out, Blogmas seems to be one big promo of my Déjà Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon book tour, not to mention my other novels. But the one novel I haven’t mentioned yet is Letters on Balboa Island, the most meaningful book I’ve written. And the one my dad absolutely adored. This may be the second Christmas without him on earth, but truth be told, I’ve never spent Christmas with my dad.

The story of my search for my father and what I discovered it all meant to me has been documented in Myths of the Fatherless. It was written early in the search and I’ve been thinking of updating it at some point, perhaps it might be helpful to me or to someone to include the introspective time I’ve had since then. The difficult part for me now is that it’s over. There’s no more hope that things might turn out differently. But I can appreciate the time we did have together.

LETTERS ON BALBOA ISLAND

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.

Blogmas, Day 19: Carnival’s Latest Fun Ship: The Panorama (#blogmas #cruising #carnival #panorama)

In the midst of all this holiday busyness and blog tour is the launch of Carnival’s latest Fun Ship, the Panorama, a long-awaited Vista-class ship to sail out of Long Beach. Finally, Carnival has given us West Coasters a brand new ship.

As some of you may know, my first novel to acquire an agent and publishing deal was Real Women Wear Red, set on a Caribbean cruise. Those were exciting times. RWWR got a lot of attention and still, to-date, is my best-selling novel. I wrote a sequel, Real Women Sing the Blues, also set on a cruise ship (this time Hawaii). My current wip (She’s Not That Good) is set on a cruise ship (Mexican Riviera), and even Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon has a cruise scene or two in it.

The holidays are one of my favorite times to cruise. It’s a really nice way to get together with family or even as a couple or solo – easier to take the holidays if you’re out to sea surrounded by other friendly cruisers.

So if you can’t get away on a cruise this year (I know I can’t), why not sail vicariously through one of my novels? Check out my Books page or the list of books in the sidebar.

 

Blogmas, Day 18: Two Stops for Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon (#blogmas)

Today I’ve got two stops:

Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon is the book feature at:

  1. T’s Stuff
  2. The Bookworm Lodge

The tour is heating up before the year winds down. At the end of the tour, I’ll talk about some changes I’m considering and why, and my goals for 2020. See ya later!

Blogmas, Day 17: Interview at A Blue Million Books (#blogmas)

As it gets closer to Christmas and the deeper I get into this blog tour, the less I seem to have to say about, well, anything. lol! So I’ll let my interview featuring Déjà Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon on “A Blue Million Books” speak for me.

This site is fun and very friendly to Indie Authors. Who knows what you may find over there?

Blogmas, Day 16: Guest on “As The Page Turns” (#blogmas) for Deja Vu Book Tour

We’re back on track with the book tour for Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon and today finds me as a guest on “As the Page Turns.” How fun is that?

I must confess, as this is my first Blogmas, I started to worry that I wasn’t focusing on Christmas exactly the way Blogmas may be intentioned. But I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the anticipation of Christmas than hanging out with other bloggers and book lovers, sharing my love for writing and reading. Of course, I hope that you’ll find one of my books that interests you, maybe for yourself or as a gift for somebody else. I’d love to hear from you to see what you thought.

See you on the next stop!

Blogmas, Day 15: The Tom Jones Club Peek (#blogmas #lasvegas)

The Tom Jones Club Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Italian wine drinkers:
Sexy (40 percent) and stylish (37 percent)

 “Viva Las Vegas” reverberated through Lucky Stryker’s head as she buckled her First Class seat belt on the Paris to Las Vegas flight with a brief stop in Orlando.

An attractive, but boring-looking, off-the-rack, three-piece-suited businessman approached the aisle she was sitting in.

His path was blocked by the nerdy looking man one row behind her on the opposite side, taking all day stashing an over-flowing carry-on, a computer, and a backpack. The businessman was forced to lean into her.

“Excuse me,” he apologized, “I’ll be out of your way in just a moment… I hope.”

Lucky laughed. “No problem.” She couldn’t help but notice the way his ordinary suit pants outlined his perfect butt perfectly—even if butts weren’t her thing. As he turned toward her, he flashed that Cheshire-cat smile without saying a word. She was intrigued, noticing his sky-blue eyes crinkle as he did so. She was a sucker for a great smile on a man. There was a lot of talk these days about the butt, but for her, it was all about the smile and the eyes. She looked up to study his eyes, but when she turned her head to get a closer look, he swung into the seat behind her.

Small talk, small, talk, quick, think of some small talk. But then she was relieved of the pressure to initiate something witty when she felt his mouth brush against her ear. And then he said, “Going for business or pleasure?”

“Oh, a little bit of both.” She felt weak in the knees, even though she was sitting down.

“You gamble?” He asked it as if he was talking about something other than slot machines, craps or roulette.

The flight attendant took that moment to offer Lucky a glass of champagne. She accepted, but overheard him decline and ask for a glass of Sangiovese instead.

“Now where were we?” He was not to be deterred. She liked that in a man.

But before she had a chance to answer, a sultry brunette wearing a short, sparkly white dress approached his aisle, and muttered something about needing to squeeze in next to him. After all, his attention shifted to her—no wonder—he was drinking a glass of Sangiovese. Italian wine drinkers tended to be sexy and stylish. In this case, it seemed to say more about the kind of woman he was interested in than about any style he might  possess.

In comparison, she felt dowdy in her black leather skirt. Somehow it couldn’t compete with sparkly in Las Vegas. She’d have to keep this in mind when dressing for tomorrow’s business meeting.

Lucky settled back into her seat, relieved to have his attention elsewhere. She reached into her bag, and pulled out a novel she had picked up in the gift shop in Paris.

“My dear, excuse me, but can I ask you a question?”

She looked up to see an older, well-preserved woman dressed in all black—expensive capris with a sleeveless sweater revealing a substantial amount of cleavage. Lucky couldn’t help but notice her tanned legs leading to well-manicured toes surrounded by a pair of black rhinestone slides.

Now she didn’t usually notice these details on another woman unless she was her competition, so she was surprised by her reaction. But there this woman was, standing right next to her in the aisle, and she felt compelled to invite her to sit down.

“Is this your seat?” Without hesitation, she scooted right past Lucky and settled into the seat.

The flight attendant was mixing a drink in the row in front of them, so she turned to the woman and said, “How about a drink?” After so many years playing the hostess in the wine industry, she automatically put people at ease by offering them food or drink.

“Sure. I’ll have a pink gin fizz,” she said.

Lucky made eye contact with the attendant, indicating I’ll have another glass of champagne. The first leg of the flight—Paris to New York—had been long, but that was only the beginning. The next leg stopped in Orlando, where it seemed everybody who got on the plane had been at Disney World and had Mickey Mouse balloons, stuffed toys, and bags.

This woman was welcome company compared to who could have sat next to her.

Their drinks arrived, and the woman took a slow sip, put down her glass, and turned toward Lucky, which was a bit uncomfortable in the closeness of two airline seats, even if they were in First Class.

“What’s your question?” Directness was her specialty, a trait that wasn’t always received well. But while she was waiting for the woman to answer in the few seconds that passed, her mind raced back to the families she saw board the plane. There was something sweet and comforting about the way they were connected, the toys, the fun written all over their faces. It was something so basic and real, and she felt disturbed that she was responding this way.

“I heard you mention the Desert Sands. Are you by any means attending the Tom Jones Convention?”

“The what?”

“For the Tom Jones Club. You know who Tom Jones is, don’t you?” Oh, sure, she’d heard of Tom Jones, but a club and a convention?

“I’m assuming you mean the performer and not a fictional character, although when it comes to sexual escapades, it might be a toss-up between the two.”

“Yes, I see, you do know the man. Well,” she said in that throaty way last seen in Hollywood B movies of older women who smoke and drink and sleep around too much, “this is the Tom Jones Convention.” She gestured toward the pin on her sweater that somehow managed to escape Lucky’s perusal earlier. Maybe because it was black on black and blended in with her sweater. As she took a closer look, she noticed the pin was intertwined with a pendant with a picture of a young child. And Lucky recalled a similar picture from her childhood.

Lucky thought again to the families on the plane, the look of pride on the mother’s face as she held her little one’s small hand, and imagined what it would be like to have a child of her own. This was new to her, this thinking past the moment, of longing for children.

“Oh, there’s a convention? No, I’m here for a business meeting. Here to close a deal.” Lucky crossed her legs as she did whenever she was feeling rather proud of her business acumen.

It was an old habit, born out of necessity competing in a man’s world. What would she do without her identity as successful business woman once this deal was over and done? Was she over and done? Or was it just a chapter in her life closing? She took another sip of champagne.

“Oh, I see, you’re one of those women.” Her “BS” meter went off—clang clang—this was exactly why she didn’t warm up to most women.

“What does that mean, ‘one of those’?”

“Oh, you know, career women who don’t have time for men. I’m not implying you don’t sleep with them, but you don’t have time for a long-term commitment. You don’t see the value of having a man around. You’re self-sufficient.”

“So, tell me,” Lucky began, noticing this woman’s ring finger was empty, although every other finger seemed to sport a ring. “Are you married? Because I don’t see a ring on your finger either.”

“I was once.” Her gray eyes glazed off to a distant place as if she were recalling a tragic time in her life, and she fingered the pendant with the picture of the little girl. Lucky wondered if something tragic had happened to her. What did that feel like, to unconditionally love another human being so greatly that the loss of one would break your heart?

“Oh, I’m so sorry.”

“No need to be.” She snapped out of it. “I now have the time to freely pursue whatever I want to. Like organizing trips for other women to go to Vegas on a whim, see Tom Jones, hang out with their girlfriends and other fans of Tom Jones.”

“So tell me something else, is there really a whole convention?”

“Well, it’s rather small now compared to years before. Actually, it gets smaller and smaller with each passing year. Because, you see, most members are my age or older. Although, you’d be surprised at all the young people who are going to his concerts, buying his albums. He’s really had a comeback.”

“But they’re not just convention-goers, is that it?” Lucky was drawn into this woman’s story, maybe because, as a woman, she was feeling restless.

“That’s it, you’ve got it.” She told entertaining stories about how the club began, including some of the highlights over the past thirty years or so. Lucky started to fade, and needed to be quiet with her thoughts. People often thought she was outgoing, and she could be, but too much interaction drained her. She was more introverted than people knew.

“Well, I don’t mean to be rude, but I have to prepare for an important meeting tomorrow.”

“I understand, dear. Here’s my business card. I’ll be staying at the Desert Sands. Give me a call if you’d like to discuss a business deal of my own.”

She took her card, looked at it briefly, and dropped it in her bag. “Mona Lisa,” it said. Like that’s really her name. Funny she should accuse her of being that kind of woman, although she’d been known to give out fake names, too. Maybe this woman, Mona, saw something of her younger self in her. She ran into this all the time—she knew the type. Women who approached her as if they had the greatest opportunity, but, instead, she had learned, these were opportunists, not opportunities.

She put on the headphones to her iPod and played an Elvis collection. That seemed appropriate, didn’t it? Elvis, Las Vegas, and Lucky. Wasn’t that what Vegas was all about anyway? They said that if you threw a rock, you couldn’t help but hit an Elvis impersonator. But the impersonators didn’t do him justice. He was so much more than an icon of a man wearing a gaudy white jumpsuit and Elton John-sized sunglasses. He was so much more than Tom Jones ever could be.

Available on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback formats.

Blogmas, Day 13: Not What It Used to Be (#blogmas)

Honestly? I’m struggling with Blogmas. My blogging habit is not what it used to be. When I first started blogging in 2005, I think it was, I had so much to say. So much of my true self had been repressed. So many things needed to be said. That I needed to say. That other people weren’t saying. And didn’t want me to say.

By the time social media hit big, I felt like I’d said it all and if I hadn’t, other people were saying it. And now maybe we have too much being said on social media.

Then I realized I still have things to say. I’m just expressing myself in a different way. I’m telling my stories through art, which in my case, is books, music, poetry.

And that’s pretty much what you can expect throughout the rest of Blogmas. The rest of my publicity tour for Deja Vu… Excerpts. Poems. Music.

Artists sharing our hearts. Mining our lives for our art.

Are you doing Blogmas? How’s it going for you?

Blogmas, Day 12: Previously… (#blogmas #wip)

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’m working on a rom com novel I’m calling “She’s Not That Good.” I shared the blurb yesterday and here’s a bit of an excerpt on today’s post, giving a bit of back story before the story actually begins for real, which will probably get cut.

She’s Not That Good
Excerpt (wip)

Previously…

I love my job. The commute is short, well, relatively short for the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s in the South Bay, which is convenient for where I live in Fremont, just across the Bay. It’s in one of those low-rise two-story buildings surrounded by trees and grass and sidewalks, perfect for taking power walk breaks or just to stroll. There’s an amazing onsite cafeteria, well, actually three cafeterias if you count all the buildings on the campus. There’s even a piano bar next to the onsite Starbucks. And did I tell you I work with one of my good friends? Not exactly my BFF but a friend I used to work with at another company. It’s perfect. Well almost.

Oh, the less than perfect part isn’t about the job itself. I love that. I’m in book and web production of the marketing arm. It’s part creative, part technical. I love that because that describes me pretty well. Creative. Technical. Partly. Is that a thing? Well, I can say this: I’m not one of those nerdy types that has to have all the latest technology gadgets, but I do love the ones I love. And they might not be the ones you might think of. Not the social ones. I’m not that social. Okay, so maybe I am a bit nerdy not in the ‘PC’ kind of way, but in the introvert kind of way.

The one shortcoming of my job? I’m not in a committed relationship. I’m a gun for hire. What they call a “contractor.” No paid vacation, holidays, or even a promise of tomorrow. Okay, that’s true for a lot of people, especially in California, the “for hire” clause, which can be terminated at a moment’s notice. But most employers won’t just dump you. No, they’ll build a case against you.

As a contractor, I have none of that. For example, I was contracting at one of the biggest internet companies of its time, doing two different jobs, reporting to one manager, but working for the other in a diplomatic position. You see, manager one didn’t like the response time of manager two’s group, so manager one put me in the awkward position of trying to please both groups. And when I bonded with group two, deciding to spend most of my time there, manager one sent HR after me, firing me on the spot and escorting me to the door. I can’t tell you how horrific that felt like I was some kind of criminal. All they had to do was say, “You’re not that good,” and I would have gone gladly.

So back to this near-perfect job. I’d gotten wind of the fact that they were trying to get rid of the full-time employee that worked with my friend, and my friend, Georgi, let’s call her, hinted that when that happened, the job would be mine. And when I hinted that I wanted to take a few days off to see my sick grandmother in Southern California, she encouraged me, as if they would take that time to fire said person, and when I got back, the job would be mine. Sounds too good to be true, right?

Did you see this coming? I didn’t. But this is how it went down. I take off Friday night to visit my grandmother, and by the time I return the following Thursday morning, the undesirable employee is gone but, now get this, the person sitting in his chair is Darla, another friend of Georgi’s. Her excuse? Darla was there, ready to start, and I wasn’t. Unbelievable, right? My job satisfaction dropped from a nine to a zero. I felt so betrayed. I immediately began looking for another job and, well, that brings you up-to-date, and you can read about that fiasco in the next chapter.

 Except that I’ll add that you should have seen their antics when I told them I was leaving. Suddenly, I was so desirable. They really laid it on thick, and part of me wanted to believe them. Because I never heard anybody there whisper, “She’s not that good,” not even when they tried to explain why they hired Darla in my absence. They made me feel like I was a valuable member of the team. Except when I wasn’t invited to meetings, meetings where, behind closed doors, I heard whoops of laughter like they were having the time of their lives. No, I began to hate contracting and that lack of commitment. Except when they hired somebody else while I was gone, gone on a trip they encouraged me to take.

Oh yes, they were underhanded, backbiting, all the while smiling and praising me to my face. I think I almost prefer the upfront telling me I’m not that good or even the whispers among themselves, whispers I can still hear. “She’s not that good.”

Blogmas, Day 11: She’s Not That Good (#wip #blogmas)

One of the questions that comes up in interviews or book tours is, “What are you working on next?”

I haven’t really said because I’m working on three or four things: two wips and writing songs, taking advanced classes in a couple of different DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations). But, hey, that reminds me of my main character in one of my wips.

Here’s a peek into her story, at least in its current draft state:

SHE’S NOT THAT GOOD

Brandi Redwine didn’t know her musician father growing up, but she knows her mother hates her love for music. Although she’s been told numerous times that she has a great ear for music, she can’t stick with any one instrument long enough to learn how to play it. At least, not very well. But that’s not all she’s not that good at.

After failing at job after job after job, she continues to search for something she can finally be good at, and she thinks it might be music after all. But after a disastrous stint in Nashville with her lying, cheating ex-boyfriend, she returns to San Francisco feeling like a loser. Especially when she can’t seem to keep a job there either.

Her best friend steps in and recommends her for an opportunity to compete for a job as part of a team building  event onboard a cruise ship. Auditioning for job after job within the company, she realizes her high school sweetheart is on board, and his girlfriend is also competing for the same contract. Brandi is even more demoralized when she realizes she isn’t that good at any of these jobs either. Ready to give up, she begins playing around with writing songs, working with the piano bar pianist and a dance club DJ, discovering her love for music production.

She finally starts feeling like she’s getting somewhere, but everything is resting on that final performance: not only her potential job but the entire company’s future. The stakes are even higher the night when she feels the pressure to live up to the family name. Will she be able to find her purpose in life? Will she find a future with her high school sweetheart? Will she ever be good enough?

Blogmas, Day 10: The Dark Phantom Review Interview (#blogmas)

Day 10 finds me being interviewed on The Dark Phantom Review for the Déjà Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon publicity tour. Love the name of the site – The Dark Phantom. Spooky, huh? Check it out.

I have to say I’ve enjoyed writing my first suspense novel. It seems I see suspense around every corner and it was time to put it on the page. I’ve got another suspense in progress, but I tend to alternate between writing suspense and fun, frolicking, romantic comedy. I can’t scare myself too much – lol!