If I Don’t Tell the Story, Who Will?

Reading the novel Lucy by the Sea (Elizabeth Strout) in the author’s very autobiographical style stirs up all kinds of memories and ideas, not only in my experience with Covid, which was so different from the main character’s (and author’s?) and probably from so many New Yorkers, that I’m driven to write bits and pieces of something that may or may not make it into a book.

One piece sitting on one of my hard drives is called “If I Don’t Tell the Story, Who Will?” Perhaps, it’s on a backup drive because I can’t find it on my newest computer. So I decided to write this new piece:

If I Don’t Tell the Story, Who Will?

The last time I “spoke” to my father was actually through email. I’d posted a photo on Facebook of him (with camera, next to Joe) with Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, the one he had given me and said I had permission to post on my website even in a book as requested by somebody writing about Marilyn Monroe. Well, he asked me to take it down from Facebook. For some reason, it was a problem for my half sister, the one who was his daughter, not my other half sister, who was my mother’s daughter.

It brought back those heartbreaking memories of when I was a kid and had first heard that my dad was not my dad, that he was Sherry’s dad and I had a different dad. My grandmother (my mother’s mother) had given me a letter and photos, but my mother insisted I give them back, that they would “hurt” my step dad, who I called dad.

So to have my real father so many years later, the one I had searched for and found and met and was doing everything I could to create a relationship with, ask that I take down that photo was just too much! I deleted Facebook for the last time and never communicated with him again.

A year later, I sent him a Christmas card because I didn’t want to part that way but he died the next year and I don’t even know if he got the Christmas card as he was in an assisted living facility before his death. I only discovered my dad was dead when my aunt (my uncle’s widow) saw it on Facebook and told me at the same time that the rest of the world found out. This is why I hate Facebook.

Writing as Therapy

Writing used to be therapeutic for me. I processed a lot of stuff during that time of discovery by writing and blogging. And did I need to do that back then! You’d think I’d be finished by now. But every once in a while, some old feelings are stirred up and become too draining to write them in a book. It’s no longer therapeutic. Besides, I told that story in Myths of the Fatherless (the “cleaned-up” version, I might add… what if I told the whole story…) And that’s the idea behind “If I Don’t Tell the Story, Who Will?”

Even my wip, She’s Not That Good, is giving me migraines during the editing process. My editor kindly suggests I stop the project. But I’m feeling a bit stubborn and want to finish it. But will I have the stamina? Perhaps, one chapter at a time.

Music as Healer

Instead, I find music more soothing. It keeps me anchored in the present, instead of the past. It conquers the past. it’s like my brain has been rewired from writing to music and can’t really turn back. And if it’s true that you should “put your ass where your heart wants to be,” well, that is certainly where my heart is.

50/90 2022 Is On! #FAWM #50/90 #Songwriting #Challenge

Fifty-ninety is on its second week. In case you don’t know, 50/90 is the summer songwriting challenge of FAWM, where you are challenged to write 50 songs in 90 days starting on July 4. Last year, for the first time, I completed the challenge. In fact, I wrote 60 songs. This year we’re in the midst of moving cross-country so I’ll do what I can do. Speaking of which, here is my first song: “Nasty Lies.”

Jaclyn Excerpt and 50/90 Track Peek (#50/90 #music #amwriting)

Because we’ll be on the road at the beginning of 50/90 (50 songs in 90 days challenge), I’ve done some prep work. And one of the songs I’m working on is called “Jaclyn,” who happens to be the leading lady in “Jaclyn,” the novel. I know, I know, I keep saying I’m no longer writing and then I can’t help myself.

Anyway, here’s a riff from the track followed by an excerpt from the novel.

Jaclyn
Excerpt

Chapter 1
Los Angeles
1965

Jaclyn watched Beau carefully, reading his deep set deep blue sea eyes, open, trusting, and his relaxed demeanor, all six feet two inches spread evenly over the recliner’s body. He didn’t suspect a thing. She was sure of it, and reading people was what had empowered her to do the things she did.

She almost regretted doing what she had to do next.

Finishing the last of her beer, something she indulged him in when it behooved her to garner his favor, she stood up and asked, “Want another?”

He flashed her his boyish grin the way he did when he was off duty, on one of the rare occasions when his head wasn’t full of the gruesome details he encountered on a daily basis as a police officer in Riverside, California, one of the roughest squads in Southern California outside Los Angeles, that is.

Fooling him was all the sweeter because it was his job to read people. She was that sure of herself, and that knowledge kicked her even higher than she already was when she was in the middle of one of her lies. But then, what wasn’t a lie when it came to Jaclyn? She was born to lie. She giggled whenever she floated that phrase around her head.

She carried the empties to the kitchen, popped the top on another bottle and handed it back to Beau. “It’s time to pack,” she said and sauntered down the hall to their bedroom, careful to wiggle her ass in the sexy way he liked it because she was pretty sure he’d turn to watch.

Another woman might have leaned down to kiss him, but she didn’t go for public displays of affection, even in their own home, unless it was necessary to achieve her end. Besides, Beau was more into using his mouth for kissing other parts of her body, something he excelled in. So why waste a kiss?

She opened her suitcase and carefully placed neat rows of clothing and toiletries, and was about to close it when she felt a presence. She looked up and might have been tempted to jump, except for being skilled in hiding her visceral reactions. Beau was leaning against the bedroom door frame watching her.

He took a pull on his beer, leaned his head back, and grinned a different sort of grin. It was a bit of a sick grin, the kind of grin a cat might flash a mouse when he was about to pounce.

For the first time, she felt shaken, willing the uneasiness coursing through her legs to stop. She almost acknowledged his odd look and insist on an explanation. Put him on the defense as she often did. But her cool head prevailed and she continued as if she hadn’t noticed a thing.

Jacklyn clicked the locks on the suitcase, turned to Beau with her usual sweet smile, “Honey, help me get my suitcase to the car,” she said, as if everything was as normal on this day as any other day, although she can’t remember when she last lived what might be considered a normal day. But, perhaps, this was how all people lived their days, in a state of concealed chaos.

“What’s your hurry?”

“Honey, I’ve got a plane to catch. You know that.”

He looked her up and down, put the beer down on the dresser, and pulled her by the waist toward him, his strong hands rubbing up and down her ass. He whispered in her ear, “One for the road?”

***

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Kathy

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.

Fantasy Studios: A Piece of My Berkeley Days (#music #producer)

So when I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area, at one point I was freelancing as a production editor at McGraw Hill Publishers in Berkeley, who were leasing a suite from Fantasy Studios, at least they were in the same building so I’m assuming that’s how it worked.

The three things I loved about that:

  1. Working for a publisher
  2. The sunset views of the Golden Gate Bridge where we stopped what we were doing every night to take a breathtaking look
  3. Fantasy Records (we would sometimes see big names arriving in limos)

Well, I hadn’t thought about any of this in quite a while until I was listening the other night to  KCSM, a San Francisco Bay Area Jazz station on the internet (my favorite Jazz station), and she mentioned Fantasy Records, the home to many, many jazz artists, not to mention bands like Creedence Clearwater Revival, etc). And she mentioned one of the artists had recorded a particular song at Fantasy Records. It’s now gone, but the memories live on.

Who knew all these years later I’d be a published author and creating/producing my own music?

Sunset Behind the Golden Gate Bridge

Fantasy Records Lobby

#AmReading Plus “Does Natural Talent Matter in #Music?”

First off, let me say I’m now on book 6 (The Woman in the Bedroom) of the Alexandra Mallory Psychological Suspense Series by Cathryn Grant. I have mixed feelings about the series. For one thing, the heroine is a serial killer, which is a bit of a turnoff for me. But I am drawn to her because I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 23 years and it really takes me back there. As fun as it was in my younger days, I’m so glad to be gone now.

Cathryn really nails much of the Silicon Valley/Bay Area culture, although misses it in subtler ways, maybe because she didn’t live it in the early days like I did. And I’m pretty sure most people there are not serial killers – lol! But now that the character has left the Bay Area, my fascination with the series may have ended… or not. This series is addicting.

Now I’m pursuing music madly in preparation for 50/90, practicing the keys. My first instrument was an electronic keyboard that I got for my 7th birthday. So I guess I’ve been an electronic musician since then. I tried the violin, guitar, and piano but my favorite was the electric keyboard. Decades passed but my love for electronic musicianship has returned, stronger than ever. And with the tools available now, it’s simply incredible.

But with that comes a lot of things to learn, to try and master. It can feel overwhelming as we wonder if we’ll ever get any of it right. I think we often hold back, fearing that we’re not good enough. But it is so important to get your music out there. That’s how you grow. And so I thought I’d post this encouraging video from Studio Live asking the question, “Does Natural Talent Matter in Music?”

When I Met My Father

When I met my father, I had to reorder everything I thought I knew about myself. About him. About her.

I sat in the back seat of his car, directly behind him as I listened to the timbre of his voice, not the rich baritone I’d become accustomed to growing up with the man I thought was my father, which was just one thing I could barely wrap my head around.

I stared at the back of his curly white hair, noticed the blond, freckled forearms, so unlike the brown skinned other dad, who I could never look like. Or be like.

As the weekend progressed, I saw more and more of myself, not just physically, but in our interests, the jam on our chin at breakfast, and the way we respond to the world, the impulsiveness, the quick but short-lived temper. But mostly the music. The music blasting from his headphones as he sat alone in his recliner, totally immersed in the sounds flooding his ears. Mostly jazz and RnB with an occasional pop song by Bobby Darin.

This week we inch forward to the overwhelming praise and worship of mothers, whose job is very hard, no doubt about that, but, still, things are not always as they should be. Far from it. So, I’ll pay tribute to the romantic, larger than life man who was and is my father who never stopped loving my mother. Who said, “I’ll always have San Francisco.” I believe she still loved him at the end, too, if it is possible for her to love at all.

So here I sit at 5 am, missing my dad, and thinking about these 2 favorite Bobby Darin songs.

Beyond the Sea Live version with a drummer solo