Staying Upbeat in the Writing, Travel, Disney, and Cruise Community

During this difficult time, I noticed that writers are actively seeking out other writer’s books, asking where to buy them, and cruise/Disney vloggers are actively uploading vids that are uplifting. I love this.

One of the cruise vloggers (Scott Singer Cruises) I subscribe to uploaded a vlog from his 2019 Alaska cruise this morning. I noticed it really picked people up. For me, too. So I started sorting through some of my travel and cruise videos and uploading them.

And why not combine both – my love for travel, cruising, and writing books set on cruise ships and other touristy locales. Here are some links you night be interested in:

Travel Blog (Two4Disney) – Covers Disney, Cruising, Las Vegas, and other Travels with a link to my novels, too.

Two4Disney on YouTube – A few of our travel adventures uploaded in small bites. More to come. Not much of a channel yet, but why not subscribe and let’s build this thing together.

Screamie Birds Studios – My writing/music web site where I keep you up-to-date on my latest music and fiction creations.

 

Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon, the Book, the Poem, the Tour, and Now the Song (#FAWM)

You may recall that I’d just finished a publicity tour for my psychological suspense novel, Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon at the end of 2019 before starting FAWM on February 1st. Well, during the tour, I’d written a poem about the book here.

So, naturally, I turned that into a song for FAWM 2020. Check it out. I hope you like it – the song, poem, the tour, and the book. 🙂

FAWM 2020 (#FAWM) Playlist

FAWM 2020, my third FAWM (February Album Writing Month), is over and I survived – lol! From various EDM subgenres to Rock to Blues to Disco, I managed to create 16 songs, including 1 collab, and a poem that was completely rewritten by the time it made it to the finals with some music.

Here’s a playlist of my 10 favorite songs for FAWM 2020.

One Chapter and Half a Song a Day (#FAWM)

In my last post, I was debating whether to FAWM (February Album Writing Month – write 14 songs in 28 days) or not. After all, I really need to finish editing draft two of my wip. But today is the last day of January. Tomorrow is February 1st. What will I do?

The first thing I’m going to do is “suit up and show up.” The other thing I’ve come up with for a little more direction than just showing up (which can be powerful) is to edit one chapter a day (seems doable) and write half a song a day. The latter is where I must trust that by showing up, the half song will come to me.

The real trick is not to over think. “Analysis is paralysis” as they say.

 

#1 EDM Artist in Las Vegas on Reverbnation

Wow! The thing I thought would never happen happened! Screamie Birds is now the #1 EDM artist in Las Vegas on Reverbnation.

I’ve bounced around between #2 and #10, but mostly keeping steady at #2. Last week I went from #2 to #3. But now, for the first time I’m the #1 EDM artist in Las Vegas on Reverbnation. I thought it would never happen! So stoked! Time to create some music!

Book in One Hand, Transistor Radio in the Other

This is how I’ve been describing myself since I first started writing and publishing on my web site. The funny thing is, later in life I met my father and discovered this whole musical family of mine. In fact, several family members are friends with Metal Christian group Stryper and Michael’s mother told me that the first time she saw my grandfather, he had Uncle Steven in one hand, and a transistor radio in the other. Talk about coming full circle.

Anyway, I found this 50th birthday video with his parents, and I can see why they would be friends with my grandparents and family. Each discovery helps me piece together my identity and the connection I have with my musical family, taking it all in, looking for the path to my future.

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 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 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 21: 2020 Hopes and Dreams (#blogmas)

I mentioned in an earlier post that I would write about my hopes and dreams for 2020 and what’s changing and what’s not. But all I can think about now is that my dream for 2020 is about a house. And getting through this in-between place.

The place in-between is almost always a tough place to be. Long nights, fitful sleep, trying not to dream too much about the future. Writing middle-of-the-night poetry.

Just when I think I cannot endure yet another countdown, another new build (oh, woe is me, right?), okay, maybe in my defense I will say that we just went through this two years ago. Two years ago we’d just moved into our new house in Florida. Yep, after selling our house in Vegas, we moved clear across the country, squeezing our stuff and our little family of four (two are cats) into a small apartment in Florida.

For seven months there we were, bedroom dresser in the kitchen (bedroom was too small), boxes packed in storage, hauling our groceries to the third floor dodging lightning and thunder. And then halfway through the build, watching, watching, watching, evacuating to Nashville (Hurricane Irma), watching, watching, watching. It seemed like the process took forever. And now here we are back in Las Vegas waiting for a another new house to begin again. Yes, woe is me. What a problem to have, right? But we all have our daily struggles.

The real problem is what you have to live in during that in-between place. This place is rather funky. That’s one way to put it. The one saving grace was the casita I was using for my studio. Not just my own space inside the house where I could set up my own writing and music studio, but it was outside the house in a separate building. I loved that space. My space. But now it’s got problems making it practically unusable. We’ve put in a work request. But will they fix it? And when? Ah, yes, that is the question.

Thinking back to my childhood, I remember leaving our first brand new home when I was six and moving to a new city near the beach in Southern California. We were living in a small apartment waiting for another new house to be built. I celebrated my seventh birthday in that apartment, that apartment where I got my first electric organ. I had that thing for years. I don’t remember now what happened to it.

Anyway, as a kid, I didn’t notice how hard it was to live in a temporary place while waiting for the new house to build. As a kid, I remember the excitement of touring the new house in framing and choosing my bedroom. As I kid, I remember the apartment swimming pool where I learned to swim (where I cracked my chin on the side of the pool and had to get stitches.) But I also remember my mother struggling with the in-between situation, especially when the landlord complained about my brother and me being too nosy or throwing paper out the slider or something that kids do, right? Ha!

I remember other people’s new builds. Like when my step dad’s sisters were building new houses on their ranch properties in the Central Valley. Talk about scary places to live. They seemed like rundown shacks to me. I didn’t even want to visit them there. But I also remember the brand new beautiful homes they built and the fun times we had visiting them over the years throughout their lives. I even wrote a song about one of them, and called it “Road 24.”

I see looking back that even the in-between times are good. The Florida apartment I thought I’d never endure? Well now I look back and hold onto those memories because Skipper was still with us back then. He celebrated his 18th birthday in the new house and loved it so but now he’s gone and so my memories of him blessed that Florida apartment. In that Florida apartment he was still with us.

I wonder now why we moved to Florida if we were just going to move back to Vegas. If we hadn’t left, we’d still be living in our comfortable house and not going through all of this. But we’d have also missed out on that amazing two-year Florida adventure. And I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that.

So I try to be patient, enjoy the moments and the memories we’re making in this “in-between” place, and look expectantly toward the future, the new house in 2020, setting up my new studio where I will be, hopefully, making music, making memories, and writing stories. I can’t really choose between writing and music after all.