Goodbye July or “What I Did While Trying to Make Disneyland Dining Reservations”

This is the story of how I wrote yesterday’s poem and turned it into a song early this morning while trying to make Disneyland dining reservations.

The night before last I was awake during the night looking at the calendar on my iPhone trying to make Disneyland dining reservations (which is such a crapshoot these days), realizing I couldn’t make September ressies for at least one more day, if I was lucky. Staring at the month of July, I was thinking about how July may be my least favorite month – certainly living in the hotter states I’ve lived in like Southern Nevada and Central Florida. Will July ever end?

I then jotted down those lyrics.

Last night I was awake during the night doing the same staring at the calendar thing, trying again to snag Disneyland dining reservations, and I thought, “I must write the music for those lyrics.” I did snag some ressies, so then I got up at around 4 am and recorded this song, trying not to sing too loudly so I wouldn’t awaken my husband and cats – lol!

It was a lot of fun and came out better than I thought it would. Hope you enjoy!

#Free Download of “Real Women Wear Red,” the Prequel to “She’s Not That Good”

When 40-something Kate “Cyn” Francis changes her name, her hair color, and her age in order to snag a younger man on a Caribbean cruise, the last thing she expects is to fall overboard for a Cary Grant look-alike.

Sandy Brown, 20-something and eager to get over a broken heart, is also looking for love.

Millie Evans, having recently sold her publishing empire, is on a succession of one-week cruises, looking to reconnect with a past love.

But this is no ordinary love boat. Three women, three generations, all connected in an unexpected way. And it’s more than sharing the same motto that “real women wear red.”

Free download for the next 5 days.

Read She’s Not That Good on Kindle Vella here.

Episode 4 of “She’s Not That Good” Live on #Kindle #Vella

 “In that moment, I knew I could no longer listen to those who whispered ‘She’s not that good.’ “ From now on, I knew I was a normal, every day, real woman, and real women were good enough. – Brandi from She’s Not That Good, a “Real Women” series.

I’d gone back and forth about naming this book–I’d thought about “Real Women Are Good Enough” because She’s Not That Good is really book 3 of the “Real Women” series (Real Women Wear Red and Real Women Sing the Blues. But it’s also a standalone–you don’t have the read books 1 and 2 to enjoy book 3–and “She’s Not That Good” just sounds catchy to me – as if it was a song – lol!

On the plus side, if you really enjoyed the previous books, well, here’s the long-awaited Mexican Riviera chapter, or should I said episode? You needn’t wait any longer–it’s now being released episode by episode via the new Kindle Vella.

We’re all learning how to navigate this new Kindle Vella episodic fiction series, but what we know now is that the first 3 episodes are free. Starting with the 4th episode, you need to unlock the story via tokens. So now… the rubber hits the road with episode 4.

So, with excitement and trepidation, episode 4 of She’s Not That Good is now live. I’ve noticed that I’ve had a few reads on the free episodes. Will somebody spend their tokens on episode 4? Guess I’ll find out.

Read Episode 4, “Embarkation Station,” here.

 

“She’s Not That Good,” 1st 3 #Free Episodes on #Kindle #Vella, Are Live

Kindle Vella is Amazon’s new episodic fiction series (similar to Radish and WattPad), and nobody really knows how this thing is going to work. But I do know this: the first 3 episodes are free and after that, if you’d like to keep reading the series, you download them with tokens you purchase.

I decided to go ahead and make the first 3 free episodes of She’s Not That Good available on Kindle Vella now with new episodes uploaded once a week. I still haven’t decided which day of the week that will be. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about:

She’s Not That Good (A Humorous Romance Novel)

Failing to launch an adult career, Brandi Redwine searches for something she is good at. After chasing music and an ex to Nashville, she returns to San Francisco feeling like a loser. Her best friend steps in and recommends her for an opportunity to compete for a job onboard a cruise ship in Mexico. Her high school sweetheart is also on board, and his girlfriend is also in the competition. Will Brandi’s future rest on one final performance, or will she realize she is good enough as she is?

Available Episodes (remember, the first 3 are free):

Episode 1, “She’s Not That Good”

Episode 2, “An Unlikely Job Search”

Episode 3, “Cruising for My Future”

“She’s Not That Good,” Episode 1, Now Available for #Free Download on #Kindle #Vella

Yes, I’ve gone and done it. I decided to give serial fiction writing a try and have uploaded my first Episode of my first book (She’s Not That Good) here.

In case you don’t know, Kindle Vella is a new thing Amazon is trying – similar to other serial fiction sites such as Radish, etc. The first 3 episodes are free, and then if you want to continue reading the serial you use credits to purchase them.

Episode 2 will be available next Friday, July 23 and every Friday after that until this series is finished.

Hope you’ll give my books a try.

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.

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.

 

“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.

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.