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Teaser Thursday- Love Like Vampires

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By the time they went back inside, Shane was breathing easily and the tightness in his chest had let up. None of the arguments among the band had become too serious, at least not with their current lineup, but he was always afraid they might, and then everything would fall apart. He and Thaniel had been through it with five different guys already, guys who wanted to write songs that didn’t match the band’s style, or who were pissy because Thaniel let Shane have too much say in how the band ran.

Thaniel had always had his back, even when their first drummer had called Shane a “fucking faggot” the day Shane came out. Shane had had to hold Thaniel back from beating the shit out of the guy.

Good times. Shane hadn’t exactly enjoyed being treated crappy merely because he’d finally had the guts to admit something most people had figured out years earlier. Having Thaniel not only accept it but defend him had helped.

Right now, the band had it pretty good. Their current lineup gelled, and everyone agreed on musical style and where they wanted the band to go. Bryan and Jace were too laid back, and Todd was too busy, to care who ran things, as long as they didn’t have to. They all had about the same level of skills, and none of them gave a damn about each other’s sexuality.

But something was broken. Shane couldn’t put his finger on it and didn’t really want to. He only knew the band wasn’t as connected as they had been, and that might mean Love Like Vampires would fall apart.

He took another breath as he and Todd followed Thaniel to the area they’d been assigned to hang out in during Jareth’s part of the show. The argument had ended. Everything was cool.

Bryan and Jace were already in the designated spot, sipping bottles of water and talking to one of Jareth’s musicians. Both of them stood mostly still, mellow expressions on their faces. At least Jace wouldn’t get on anyone’s nerves for a while.

“Ready for this?” Bryan asked as they took their seats. “This is where we’re heading in a year or two if we keep it up.”

“I sure as fuck hope so.” Thaniel slid down in his seat and grabbed a bottle from the cooler between his chair and Bryan’s. “Two albums and a ton of frigging shows, and we still aren’t hitting what we should be.”

“We’ll get there.” Shane took the seat on the other side of Thaniel and mentally prepared the usual pep talk. Every single time they played a show, Thaniel ended up griping about what they should have been doing. From the second the guy had said, “Hey, we should start a band,” he’d had plans. The plans hadn’t worked out yet, and it irked the hell out of Thaniel.

Music-y Stuff

Since I haven’t been working a lot on writing (because the ideas just aren’t flowing well), I’ve been working more on music. I’ve posted on here a few times about my musician friend and the songs we’re writing together, and I’ve posted a trailer or two that he and I did the music in.

We’re working now on a few cover songs, and more originals. It’s fun, and it’s relaxing. Writing used to be that for me, but once I started getting published, writing became more pressure. Now music has taken up the “something relaxing” role in my life, and I’m trying hard to keep it that way. I don’t need to have my songs widely available, or to perform in front of thousands or even hundreds. I do want to perform in front of an audience, and that’s another thing my friend and I are working toward, since he has a lot of experience performing live.

Our original songs run the gamut from one about a drug addict begging a vampire to turn her and then committing suicide when he walks away, to one from the point of view of someone leaving a controlling/abusive partner. We’ve done tentative recordings of a couple of them, and hopefully soon we’ll have the recordings finalized.

Meanwhile, it’s just fun. And it gives us something to do to spend time together, which is never a bad thing.

Book Trailer- With Every Touch

I’ve probably shared this on here before, but I felt like sharing it again because I’m really proud of the music in it. “Break the Fall” is my song. Literally. I composed the bass guitar part, and my musician friend composed the lead and rhythm guitar parts based on the bass. I also wrote lyrics and composed vocals, but since I love to complicate things, I can’t actually *sing* the vocals properly yet (the last chorus with its key change trips me up every time), so I’ve only used the instrumental version in the trailer.

But still… that’s my song. And me playing bass on the recording. So I wanted to share.

Someone to Believe

When you grow up being constantly told you can’t do things, it’s really hard to believe in yourself. Because of that, just making an attempt to learn something new, or to build a skill, can be scary. What if all the people who told you that you would fail were right?

When I was growing up, no matter what I said I wanted to do, I was told I would never manage it. I wasn’t good enough, or talented enough, or dedicated enough, or whatever. People made fun of me for my dreams, as bullies will.

I’m not saying any of that to whine, by the way. Just setting the stage.

When I was a kid, there were three things I wanted to do. I wanted to teach. I wanted to be a published author. And I wanted to write songs and perform them in front of audiences.

Despite everyone who told me I couldn’t do those things, I’ve done two. I used to teach; I had to stop due to health issues. And obviously I’m a published author, since this is my author website…

But I had people who believed in me when I did those things.

When I was in elementary school, the special education teacher asked my classroom teacher if I could tutor a couple of her students during the school day. She told me over and over what a great job I did, especially when I managed to help one of her students understand long division, something they’d been working on for months. And when I was in high school, my guidance counselor arranged for me to give up a study hall to volunteer in the special education classroom at the adjacent elementary school. There, again, I was able to help students make progress, and was told by the teacher and her aides that I should go on to become a teacher myself.

In kindergarten, since I already knew how to read, the teacher wasn’t quite sure what to do with me. One day, I showed her a story I’d written. From that point on, writing stories became part of my reading program. She had me read books from the classroom library and write my own stories based on them. In high school, my tenth grade English teacher enjoyed my stories so much that when she required us to keep journals, she allowed me to keep a journal for one of my characters instead of myself. And when I met my husband, I let him read a couple of erotica stories I’d written, and he told me I should keep writing, and that I shouldn’t hold myself back out of fear if I really wanted to be published.

Now I’m working on the singer-songwriter thing. And I don’t seem to have anyone who believes in me. At least not out of the people who’ve heard or read my songs, or heard me sing. (Except the vocal coach who told me I have a beautiful voice and can definitely make it onstage. But I can’t afford to have her keep telling me that at $50 a lesson…)

A friend told me I need to fight for myself on this. That I should ignore the “haters” if I believe I can do this. But that really isn’t easy when one of the “haters” is my guy who’s helping me with the music. And it isn’t easy when I was brought up to believe I would fail no matter what, and fighting for myself was… not a smart thing to do.

I’m still trying. I just wish someone in my “real” life believed in me.

Tech Rant (Again)

I’m sure I’ve ranted about technological issues on here before, because I have a lot of them. Technology and I are definitely NOT close friends.

First of all… my YA pen name, Jo Ramsey, has not had a website in nearly three weeks. It was working great, then all of a sudden became a 503 error page instead of the website. My hosting company told me it was a WordPress issue, and that even if it wasn’t, I wasn’t paying for website support and therefore they couldn’t do much for me. They told me to go to WordPress for support.

WordPress apparently doesn’t have a support helpline, or if they do, I couldn’t find any contact info. They do have support forums, but when I tried to read the posts about how to fix 503 errors… I might as well have been reading cuneiform.

Back to the hosting company. I uninstalled WordPress and reinstalled it, because they said that might fix the problem. It didn’t. I still get a 503 error, and now all the information that was on my website is completely gone, lost when I uninstalled WordPress. (I checked internet archives. Because I had the site set up so “robots” couldn’t crawl it, the site is not archived anywhere.)

I’m paying a friend of my 19-year-old to come over, read the WordPress forums, and try to fix the site. Hopefully that will work. If not, I have no clue what I’ll do.

And then, on another type of technology, last week my “person” loaned me his recording machine so I could work on the vocals of a song we’re doing together. The instrumental tracks were all done; I keep redoing the vocals because they haven’t been right yet. The machine has an auto-tune function, so my plan was to record the vocals and apply auto-tune to see if that would give me the desired results.

Person also gave me the manual for the machine. I read the pages on the auto-tune function’s use four times before I started, and then followed each step to the letter.

Somehow, instead of ending up with a tuned recording of the vocals… I lost the previous vocal track AND the three instrumental tracks.

The machine has “lost” recordings on us before, and Person has been able to recover them by removing the memory card and reinserting it. We’re hoping that will work this time. If not, fortunately we have the instrumental of the song saved as an MP3 (which I did so I could practice the vocals), so we can import that back onto the machine.

Sometimes I think I should live in a technology-free cave…

New Book Trailer

I wanted to share the trailer for my male/male novella Stepping Stone Not Doormat because in addition to just liking the trailer, it marks my musical debut, so to speak. I composed and played the bass line in the song used in this trailer, and I also did the sound engineering. And I’m probably way too proud of that. LOL

Bass-ic Facts

Just to be clear, that’s bass the instrument, not bass the fish…

Four months ago, as I may have blogged about before, someone close to me handed me a bass guitar in response to my whining that I needed a hobby. All he gave me was the bass and the instruction, “Figure out how to play this.”

He’s a musician. He’s been playing guitar for over a quarter century. He plays entirely by ear.

I didn’t think I would be that good. But…after four months, I’ve learned the bass line for three or four classic rock songs, composed two songs of my own including lyrics, andlast week, my friend let me create and record the bass line for a song he was putting together for one of my book trailers.

We have plans…and I’m not going to say more, because I don’t want to jinx anything.

But meanwhile, I’ve progressed far enough that I decided it was time to have a bass of my own instead of using his. So this beauty is all mine…

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And I can’t wait to learn to play more!

Musical Interlude

Well, not really. Not yet.

I’ve been on an “I need a hobby” kick for a while now. Writing used to be my hobby, until I started earning money at it; now it’s a career, and isn’t as relaxing as it used to be.

A friend of mine who is an excellent mentor to other authors said that between the writing, my kids, and my relationships, I don’t really need a hobby because I have a lot of things filling my time. She kind of has a point.

But in the evenings, when I’m finished my work for the day, sometimes I get bored if I’m only sitting there watching TV. By that point, I’ve been looking at a computer screen off and on all day, and my eyes ache too badly for me to be able to read a book, which sucks because I used to love reading while watching TV. So I kind of want something I can do during that time, when I’m trying to relax and wind down before bed, but am still a little too revved up brain-wise to be able to just sit there.

Last week, I mentioned to my someone special that I wanted a hobby that wouldn’t involve using much vision, that would help me relax, and that I could do simultaneously with watching TV.

He suggested I learn to play the bass guitar.

Bass Guitar

He’s a guitarist who has played in several bands over the years, and has done some recordings with at least one of those bands, as well as doing some solo stuff. He thinks that, because I can sing mostly on-key, I can learn an instrument. I think he also made the suggestion because music is a huge part of his life, and he wants to share it with me.

I’ve played instruments before. My late grandmother was a piano teacher who gave me lessons for a couple of years, until I rebelled. I learned to read music from her, but also did pretty well playing by ear. From ages 10-13, I played the flute in my school band. I’ve also had a wee bit of vocal training; I was in my high school chorus, where the teacher actually worked with us on proper breathing, inflection, etc., and a decade or so ago while singing in my church choir, I was given voice lessons by the organist, who was also a professional vocal coach. So performing music, whether singing or instrumental, isn’t something I’m entirely unfamiliar with.

But I’m not sure about the whole bass guitar thing. I’ve gotten myself into the “I won’t be able to learn” mindset, which sucks. The same day my guy and I had that conversation, we talked about how someone can do anything they set their mind to–as long as they don’t believe they can’t. But I’m believing I can’t for reasons like “I won’t be able to remember the fingerings” and “I can’t play when my 16-year-old’s home because she’ll be able to hear it even without an amp and she won’t be able to tolerate the noise” and “hubby’s going to complain about having the bass in the living room”…many, many reasons.

I’d like to get over all of that and give it a try. My guy has a bass guitar he isn’t using that he’s offered to let me borrow indefinitely–and it’s even my favorite color, royal blue. He said he’d show me how to get started, though that’s good and bad because I’m more embarrassed to try in front of him, given his guitar skills, than I am to noodle around at home, but I trust him enough and know his musical skill well enough to know he would be able to teach me.

So it’s something I’m thinking long and hard about, and hoping to overcome being my own obstacle so I can give it a go.