Saturday, June 30, 2018

Author Confessions

Lately on various social media sites, #authorconfessions has been a trending hash. I was tagged in a few of these posts, but lack of time kept me from reciprocation. So with a few minutes today to kill, I'll make my post here, instead of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snap Story, etc. Besides, this blogger has been absent from post entirely too long!

I'm mental. Not certifiable because I hide it really well:

  • channeling MPD into heroes and villains
  • delusions into story arcs
  • manias into jaw dropping scenes and  quirky character flaws
  • bipolar moods into angsty scenes and happily-ever-afters. 
Writing voices I hear into stories is therapeutic enough to keep me running  errands among you instead of  rocking in a ward somewhere.

Disclaimer. Truly this post isn’t meant to lighten any type of mental illness. Diagnosed mental illnesses plague family and friends I love, including a cousin who for almost two decades has resided in a psychiatric facility. At times, I’ve battled anxiety or depression, and I believe everyone does deal with mood disorders, phobias, and more at some point in life. I admire all who overcome daily and those who support them. My heart breaks for all who don’t and their loved ones who don’t understand or see. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Music is more than a mood

I love when series and movies use music as more than a mood to enhance the setting. My latest of these to fall in love with is Big Little Lies.

Big Little Lies is an HBO miniseries starring Reese Witherspoon as Madeline Martha Mackenzie, Nicole Kidman as Celeste Wright, Shailene Woodley as Jane Chapman, Zoë Kravitz as Bonnie Carlson—all mothers of young children in the same grade. As an act of bullying plays out as one of the many plots of the show, each episode opens with a short clip six months into the future of a murder involving the characters.

A lot of the appeal of Big Little Lies is the soundtrack. Not only does Chloe’s (daughter of Madeline Martha and husband Ed) iPod capture the perfect mood anytime the camera pans to the Mackenzie house, but also many heart wrenching messages are subtly—and sometimes blatantlywoven into the scenes with lyrics.

In episode 6, my heart cracks when Ziggy, son of Jane Chapman, lip syncs  “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” Episode after episode we watch as Ziggy begs any information on his father. We wonder if gun-wielding Jane is actually contemplating murder as revenge on the man who is a mystery not only to his son, but also a nightmarish blur to her, the mother of his child. As Ziggy takes up a choreographic stance and mimics a mic in his hands, she smiles with motherly pride at the first lyrics.

It was the third of September
That day I'll always remember, yes I will

And then her smile falters a little with the next line.

'Cause that was the day that my daddy died

She completely pales when he carries on with the song.

I never got a chance to see him
Never heard nothin' but bad things about him
Momma I'm depending on you to tell me the truth.

**Spoiler alert **
I’m not sure about you, but this is the point where I became positive Jane wouldn’t be the killer in the murder, lingering in the shadows of this show.

Another poignant moment spoken far better with lyrics  than any delivered lines could have ever  done justice to came the night of the climatic fund raiser.

Ed Mackenzie, who has in earlier episodes revealed he feels he comes second to Madeline Martha’s ex-husband Nathan in her affections, takes his place on stage. Even after much practice at home of his intended Elvis cover, "The Wonder Of You", it takes a drink to bolster his courage enough to pour his heart out with these lyrics.

When no-one else can understand me
When everything I do is wrong
You give me hope and consolation
You give me strength to carry on

And you're always there to lend a hand
In everything I do
That's the wonder
The wonder of you

And when you smile the world is brighter
You touch my hand and I'm a king
Your kiss to me is worth a fortune

Your love for me is everything

I'll guess I'll never know the reason why
You love me like you do
That's the wonder
The wonder of you

And then up next is ex husband Nathan with his song choice How’s The World Treating You?"
 which seems to affirm that he feels regret for his divorce with Madeline Martha.

I've had nothing but sorrow
Since you said we were through
There's no hope for tomorrow
How's the world treating you?

Every sweet thing that mattered
Has been broken in two
All my dreams have been shattered
How's the world treating you?

Got no plans for next Sunday
Got no plans for today
Every day is blue Monday
Every day you're away

Every sweet thing that mattered
Has been broken in two
And I'm asking you darling
How's the world treating you?

Listening to those lyrics, Ed knows he’s been right all along about his 'first love fire still burning' suspicions.

Big Little Lies is one I’ll be watching a second time, hoping to catch little things I may have missed the first time. The soundtrack and songs aside, the biggest acclaim I feel this series has is the diverse ways in which these women each with very different upheavals in their lives see themselves, are seen by others, and the ways that they act accordingly.

The playground plot of bullying serves as both a mirror and a catalyst to even bigger things going on behind closed doors.

There were more than a few ways in which I felt disappointed during the finale, but for every loose end seemingly left dangling, and every backstory that should have been expanded a bit more to explain the ending, I give just as many props and nods for the way in which the deep and dark subplots are exposed and handled as they come to light.

Notable subjects tackled head on in a worthy way for such a short series is rape, spousal abuse, bullying, marital affairs, alcoholism, and even human trafficking.

I’ve yet to find a full soundtrack for what seems to have easily been up to a hundred songs, but here’s a couple of lists.

My favorite cover in Big Little Lies is hands down Zoe Kravitz’s cover of “Don’t.”

Friday, February 24, 2017

Riddles and Rhymes

A Reality in the Fiction episode

If you've read the D-Strings trilogy of the Silver Strings series, you'll remember a lot of emphasis is on song writing. A lot of conversations stem around verses and song writing and each chapter begins with a snippet from one of their songs. In Rising Sun, the first in this series, Matt and Jules collaborate. In Half Moon, Jules stays in the biz writing for other bands, and it's here she branches  out into a completely different style than when co-composing with Matt. 

At some point, Jules is reflecting on how her song style has changed. She admits to stringing together words and meaningless phrases that sound good together and that "To her surprise, these meaningless, yet poetic songs [became future chart toppers.]"

The reality in the fiction is this. Musician's for years have been saying the same. Time and time again, they're asked to explain a song that truly has no meaning. John Lennon continually laughed at the misconceptions of and the attempts to decipher his lyrics. Here's one of the many times Kurt Cobain spoke about lyrics being just that--lyrics nothing else. 

(2:30) I notice people expect a thematic angle to our music... they want to read into it... i was just writing pieces of poetry... pieces of poetry... garbage that would spew out of me... and then i find myself having to come up with explanations for it...

And that sums it up nicely!

Excerpt from Rising Sun, Half Moon, Rock Stars, Silver Strings D-String trilogy.

“Can I ask you something?” Matt brought his hand from her hair to splay his fingers through hers.


“Which album is better?”

“That’s an impossible question…” She considered and reconsidered, wanting to give him a real answer, but she really couldn’t decide between the two. They were both just as great in different ways. “I love them both, just as much.”

“If you were going to be stranded on a desert isle, which one would you take?”

“A desert isle? Like with cactuses and scorpions and geckos?”

“Now, his hand went back to her hair, but it was to pull. “A deserted island, Gilligan. And it’s cacti.”

“You’re not a real professor you know…”

Toying with one of her ponytails, he raised his brows. “Oh really? So why did you work so hard for that ‘A’?” When she blew out an exasperated breath, irritated that he had bested her, as usual, in their repartee, he shot her a victorious grin before tugging on the ponytail. “You’re changing the subject.”

“Well…” she mused, “You mean, I know I’m going to be stranded? In advance enough to plan out my album collection?”

“Cari…” Matt warned, in that coated-with-the-sex-rumble which always came from deep within his throat. “You’re fixing to get it… and get it good…”

“It’s an impossible question… I mean it…”

“Just try…”

Another loud sigh expelled through her lips, this time from frustration at the situation. How could he seriously expect her to choose between the two albums? But there he was, patiently waiting. She could feel his anticipation of her answer in the darkness.

“The first one, I love for the lyrics, the way the words flow. I guess if everything else disappeared but the words, the songs would still be phenomenal.” She reflected on the two albums and chose her words in careful honesty. “The second easily has the best guitar riffs I’ve ever heard—EVER. To be honest, I don’t understand the words to half of the songs. I’m not sure they’re real words. But every time I hear any song from that album, I want to grab the guitar and start ripping.”

“Favorite songs?”

“Oh c’mon already… that’s too hard, and you know it. I did what you asked…”

“Not exactly—but good enough, better maybe…”

“Thank you!” She breathed the words dramatic. “Why the quiz?”

“On Precious Jewels, every song is from something.”


“Something about you. I know you had to have figured that out.”

“Every song? I mean, I knew two. Three, really I guess.”

“Three?” Matt squeezed her tighter, his earlier tension gone. Knuckles brushed her neck, and her fingers were massaging on his scalp. “Three? Damn girl, this is going to be fun. You got homework to do.”

Every song? And you called me a stalker. Can’t you just tell me? What they mean?”

“That’s no fun…”

“I could make it fun…”

“No doubt about that…” he growled, reading the look in her eyes.

His gaze changed, and his every movement stilled. “Can I ask you something else? Something about your songs?”

“Sure.” But in mistakenly thinking he was speaking of Julian songs, she was unprepared for the question.

“When you recorded ‘Rightfully Mine,’ were you… were you crying, cari?”

The room faded, and she was back in the studio, Marc and Candi having left her to record in private, the technician a silent entity behind glass. The feelings of that day assaulted her. Sitting alone in that room with the world beyond the glass partition had seemed symbolic. Possibly sitting, where only weeks ago, Matt had but hadn't cared to stay.

“I'm sorry, Jules.” His arms encircled her, tightening with emotion, and she realized she had nodded in answer to his question. “After almost every session, I drove to the beach or to my room at my old man’s house and cried my eyes out.”

“Can we not talk about this?” It hurt too much. It was the past, and they were in the present. She was done with hurting.

His lips brushed hers gently, again and again, until the kisses were possessive and demanding, until the pent up emotions hanging in the moment were lost in lovemaking.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Get Rocked! In Vegas' Rock Casualty in the Making

Get Rocked! In Vegas

The pitch was each author write a new story about existing characters in their series. A story in which the characters of every series included would be together in one place!

When approached about this project, I was stoked. I was ready to get back to writing and excited to be writing with the authors in the set: Jenna Galicki, Jade C. Jamison, Theresa Hissong, Lashell Collins, Jennifer L. Allen, Bella Jeanisse, Maria Bernard, Sadie Grubor, Kacey Hamford, Toni Kenyon, Lindy S. Hudis, and Gina Kincade.

This fervor lasted until I actually pulled up that blank MS Word file and put my fingers to the keyboard. I was stymied. Who would I write about. What side story from Silver Strings Series could I tell that hadn't been told already in Storm Cells?


Marissa is a previous casino dealer. With this in mind, I decided on an alternate reality Jack and Marissa story. The premises would be destiny: If Jack and Marissa had never crossed paths at the Hang Fest, would destiny have still brought them together? Would a blackjack dealer restarting her life in Vegas have hooked up with a metal musician passing through Sin City with his band?

I couldn’t stop thinking about this. Intrigued, I wrote out the bare bones of the story and a few chapter samples. I pitched this plot to several close author friends. The all around consensus was that Jack and Marissa have been done to death.

“Besides, you haven't yet completed E-Strings.”

With a heavy heart, I shelved the project.

Instead, I remembered a tweet turned reader discussion, a couple of years back. The original tweet went something like “Hey, are you going to write June's story?”

Truthfully, I’d never considered June. But this child Jack and Marissa wanted badly enough to put emotions, time, and money into for years—this beloved little sister Tristan picked out a present for at a truck stop toward the end of his great adventure—this precocious older sister to the miraculous accident baby Zoe—June had worked her way into the heads of readers! A dozen or so replies to this simple tweet was testament of that.

To readers who began the Silver Strings Series with D-Strings, I beg you, don’t think about timelines. New rule for Silver Strings. Timelines only exist for an orderly sequence of events. Think of Silver Strings timelines in dog years!

My editor Debbie Williams said it best with a comment similar to, 'Matt and Jules would’ve remained rockers while in their rockers.' A nod to this rocker pun, and to rocking with a soulmate in the decades to come is played out in Rock Casualty. The rocking chair on the porch becomes a nightly routine to Crey Stone—and June Loren.

Here's your story, June Bug!

Rock Casualty Blurb

With this ring… or not?

June and her metal-music-god have an open relationship. No drama. No complications. That is, until down on one knee, he suddenly declares himself monogamous. On the night before their wedding, convinced there's no way this man-whore musician who spends 200+ days on the road is faithful husband material, she tears off her rose colored shades and escapes to Vegas.

One-time rock star Creighton spent the last few years fighting his demons. After getting kicked out of his band Soul Rift, and a stint in rehab, he needs more than a little luck to get his life back on track. The GET ROCKED IN VEGAS Festival is the perfect opportunity to redeem himself. But when he’s sidetracked by a beautiful girl on a losing streak at the Blackjack table, his world is turned upside down… again.

Hard liquor and heavy partying lead to a night Creighton Stone and June Loren wish they could remember, especially since the next morning they wake with more than a hangover. The gleaming platinum rings on their fingers suggest they had more fun than a one-night stand.

Everyone knows
'What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.'
What happened in Vegas?

Rock Casualty Excerpt

My gaze snapped from a fixation on his mouth, to his eyes, and then away. Every pink and yellow shade on a palette streaked the sky. The sun was a great orange orb sinking fast. “Do you remember? Any of it? The chapel or ceremony?”

“All I remember is luring you into the bedroom.”

“Luring me? No, that doesn’t sound creepy at all…”

He grinned at the mockery and defended, “Yeah. Well, I was pretty direct about it. Asked you if you wanted to move our party to the bedroom. You said sure.”

Sure. I said sure. Of that, I had no doubt. Neurons fired lobe-to-lobe as I strained to recall the conversation or anything beyond. “Did we?” My eyes landed on the zipper of his jeans and then skittered away. “I mean I know we didn’t, but did we…” For the first time, I realized just because we hadn’t completely hooked up didn’t mean we hadn’t done other stuff. An imagination of my knees between his Nike-clad feet sent my stomach into one of those flip-flops that seemed to be happening a lot around him.

His brows furrowed slightly. “I don’t think anything happened. But then again, who knows? If it weren’t for the rings, we wouldn’t even know—well you know—what we know.”

“Maybe it’s good we don’t remember the wedding.” I was beginning to think replaying the marriage in my head would be more bittersweet than embarrassing.

“Know what I wish I remembered?” His eyes darkened with an intensity I’d seen earlier at the restaurant. “I wish I remembered the part that goes, ‘You may kiss the bride’.”

“You may kiss the bride.” My words were an instant and instinctive whisper in the spell of a moment.

Our lips brushed, once, twice, before melding together. The kiss was wild and sweet as we tested, tasted, and finally consumed.

My phone rattled again, and I removed my hand from where it curved his neck long enough to wrestle the device from my pocket and toss it aside.

I knotted my empty fist in his shirt, and swallowed his hungry groan. Nothing existed in the world except his lips against mine. His tongue tangled with mine. The stubble on his face against my chin. Our shallow pants synchronized, becoming increasingly ragged until dizzy from the deprivation of breathing, we pulled apart.

The distance between the mountain rise in the distance and the bottom of the sun had narrowed even more.

“Damn, I’m sure I would’ve remembered that.” His breath caressed my face, and the hoarse and husky words caressed my ears.

“Yeah,” I agreed. I was sure I’d never been that moved by a kiss.

Show Some Rock★Star Love!
Like and/or Comment this Star Trailer by Theresa Hissong
Thanks to 5 Stories for the loan of this great song! 
Much ♥ to the band's page too!

We'd love you to join us on Facebook for more Get Rocked In Vegas

Friday, March 11, 2016

Fact From Fiction: Bird Island

Uncovering the truths in the story telling

Bird Island?

Rising Sun, Half Moon, Rock Stars

Jules wadded her paper and swallowed her last bite whole as they started over the long causeway connecting the mainland to the particular beach their house occupied.

“See, if you look in the water up here, you’ll see a little bitty island, just big enough to stand on. In fact, my dad took us out there once on a friend’s boat and let us stand on it—” Her excited patter tapered off as she searched the emerald green water below them.

“I don’t see it. Am I supposed to see it yet?” Beside her, Matt peered over her shoulder into the choppy water.

“Yes, it’s right… should be right there…” She scanned again and again. “Marc, do you see Bird Island?

Bird Island’s disappearance was not the only change.

Entire buildings were gone as if they had never existed. Almost all of the houses she remembered were gone, a few of them replaced by skeletal structures that would eventually be new homes.

Jules had known about Hurricane Eloise in September, having watched its progress while in a few different hotel rooms. She’d never seen a newscast or newspaper with a picture of the damage. Her father had later told her, many homes were affected, but theirs had withstood the wind and the surge.

Affected, her father had said. Not gone.

Silently, she exited the car when Marc came to a stop at the underside of the pier-and-beam structure house, out of the sun. Through the years, this area had gone from being a carport, to a screened-in porch, and apparently, with no sign of the screen now, back to a carport.

Taking as many of the brown bags as she could carry, she eyed the lighter wood at the lower half of the beams while Marc pointed out what she was seeing would have been the water level during the storm surge. The line was above her head.

What is this Bird Island mentioned in Half Moon?

The True History of Bird Island

above picture from

Crab Island is an underwater Island located on the bay side of the Destin bridge. It’s a world favorite "beach" to countless tourists and locals. Because the currents are too strong to walk or swim to it from the coast, it’s only accessible by wave runners or boats. It is waist deep to most adults. Adding to the fun is an inflatable slide and several floating food venders. But this party destination and place of family fun has an interesting history.

Viewable from the bridge from Destin to Fort Walton and known as “Bird Island” through the seventies, it was a miniature sandy island big enough for only about 50 seagulls to stand on, thus earning its name. In 1974 Hurricane Eloise flattened beach houses, eroded the beach on the mainland, and washed Bird Island underwater permanently.

The name is said to have changed from Bird to Crab Island by children on a school bus crossing the bridge each day. “There’s Bird Island,” they exclaimed prior to the hurricane. And after the hurricane, the same exclamation met retorts of “There's no birds! It's 'Crab Island” now." Eventually, the name stuck.

Over the decades, Crab Island grew larger with the passing tides, hurricanes and storms, but it never again peeked above sea level. Boaters and wave runners found it to be a beautiful shallow place to anchor and swim in this ‘waist-deep swimming pool.’

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Decade Differences: Love Makers and Breakers

In Rising Sun, Half Moon, Rock Stars the setting is the 70's. When researching this decade, I was amazed at how much technology has changed in a short time. I know I've done these posts before, but thought I'd begin adding them in again--the throwback to that era.

Tonight is about phones.

"She missed Matt, and there were times when she would've called him had a telephone been as close as the tips of her fingers." 

In Chapter 10 of Half Moon, Jules is on a trip with her mother drinking away relationship worries and rethinking her relationship with Matt. If cell phones had been around then, would this chapter have ended differently?

Hmm, I'm thinking a resounding yes!

Chapter 10 of Rising Sun falls during a year when rotary dial phones were being phased slowly by households into push button, and presumably, more quickly into businesses.

Excerpt from this chapter:

“Think I will get this.” Jules fingered a shiny orange, sleeveless top picturing it under her black jacket. Holding it up to her chest, she swung around to the mirrored column.
Starla let out her signature squeal of approval. “Makes your hair pop.”
And, hopefully, Matt’s eyes pop. Jules smiled at the secret thought. They were just friends, but that didn’t stop her from wanting to look good for him.
They left the store after Jules actually paid for her shirt. Star drove Jules to her therapy appointment and then sat in the waiting area, thumbing through a magazine until Jules was done. Since they had been fifteen minutes late, it was only a forty-five minute ordeal.
The therapist, upon hearing Jules’ parents were back in town, was interested in the so far elusive appointment with them as a family unit. Jules let her know that realistically, it would most likely never happen.
“Why don’t I just give them a call now, since they are both home, you said?” Nodding, Jules picked at the color on her fingernails, listening with interest to the soft bleep of each digit as her home number punched into the sleek phone with buttons instead of a rotary dial. The conversation with her mother was over in less than a minute. With her usual stoic face, the woman jotted something in her file before looking up with an actual sympathetic smile, which threw Jules off guard. “I’ll see you next week then?”
Jules couldn’t muster a return smile, and with a mumble of acquiescence, she rushed home with Star to practice.
Their gig planned for the next night was at a rising young starlet’s home. Marc asked to be included, offering to help them set up, and of course, they didn’t deny him this. Marc had, after all, introduced Matt into the band, was Jules’ sibling in blood and bond, and they welcomed the help. Candi’s obvious glee was something Jules tried to ignore.

Chapter 11 Half Moon. The fight

Remember--or your parents will--when you could slam the receiver down in a fit of rage? Somehow "end call" on a cell phone is not as satisfying...

Excerpt from this chapter

The next fateful ring of the phone came just days later during those wee hours, which could be called night or morning.
“Hey…” The quiet word was a hesitant breath from Matt’s side of the line.
“What do you want?” Unlike his, her voice, fed by the alcohol in her system, was strong.
“To hear your voice.”
Breathing stopped, her throat clinched, and she felt the faint crackle in destiny. Later she would look back and remember it strongly, but that night it was fate’s feather brush, and she stupidly and senselessly ignored it. “Why? Already sick of Donna’s hoo-ha?”
The silence between them stretched. Either he was declining to answer, or she’d rendered him speechless by the mere fact that she knew of his duplicity. Foreigner’s ‘Hot Blooded’ pounded softly through her speakers, a song which had been one of their favorites as a couple.
“Don’t,” he finally spoke, barely above a whisper. “Don’t, Jules. Do that. Don’t…”
The alcohol, the fury, the embarrassment, and the hurt—all of it was a fog in her brain. She would never remember anything except bits and pieces of what was said afterward. Ignoring his ‘don’t’ plea, she raged at him. Horrible things about him not being able to wait to screw someone else. When he denied it, she said something about the kiss—that he couldn’t deny kissing someone else THIS time. At one point, she thought she heard her brother pick up his line, but Matt had begun screaming back at her by then, and it was a clicking sound swallowed, and forgotten in the anger of the argument.
Matt ended up hanging up on her accusations, but even that was done in perfect Matt style. All yelled out, he said something like, “I’m hanging up now. Call me if you grow up.”
Even though Matt had already disconnected, she slammed the receiver into its cradle, again and again, and finally threw the entire phone across her bedroom, ripping the cord from the phone jack in the process.

Payphones! Still around but scarce and definately not a dime anymore!

Excerpt from Half Moon Chapter 10 Pop Rocks and Other Obstacles

Jules began the drive home and realized within two minutes that she shouldn’t be behind the wheel. She wanted to call Matt to come get her. She wanted to go home to him. To his home which should be their home. To the couch, or the bed, or whatever Matt had tonight. The payphone was even in her hand with a dime in its slot when she remembered their last conversation about her drinking, and she replaced the receiver. Buying a coffee, she iced it despite the store clerk’s revolted stare. Carrying it to the car, she chugged it in her usual manner before twisting the key.

That's all the phone examples I could think up on the spot, but I remember the story being riddled with busy signals, long distance charges, and times when an easy phone call would have smoothed over a huge relationship rift.

The differences over the decades is part of what makes this story evolve how it does.

Rising Sun, Half Moon, Rock Stars 

Silver Strings D-String Set Trilogy

They are friends in public, lovers in private. In an age of sex, drugs, rock and roll, they want it all. But 'all' has a different definition to everyone. What happens when sexy drummer Matt Loren wants bandmate Jules Breaux as more than a bedroom plaything? Is her love more than a four letter word? 

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