Once Upon A Time…

I read something recently that said when someone is changing what they do, they need to tell a story to help their fans understand. It may be too late to explain myself to Gymshoes fans who don’t understand that I’m an author, too, now that I’m back in print in ebook form. So, here’s my story:

Once upon a time there was a wordy girl who had too many words. Some of the words she put into poems, some she put into stories and some she put into songs. One day while making music for some of her words to live in she made some other music. This wasn’t music she could sing to, but as the old saying from American Bandstand went, “you can dance to it”. So she did. This was music she could dance to, daydream to and listen to when she put her words into stories. Most of the time when she made Gymshoes Music the stories she told did not have words. She missed words. She had more words than songs would contain so she wrote more long stories. She still dreams music and writes songs. Some of them even have words. She has always been a writer of stories. Music is but one way of telling them. πŸ˜€

There. Does that help? πŸ˜€ Many (perhaps most) creative people have multiple outlets for their creativity. I’m fortunate in that both books and music are creative outlets which can be made available to the general public. They’re sometimes even complementary to one another. So grab an album and a book, kick back and go elsewhere for a while. Welcome to my imagination! πŸ™‚

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New ebook release

For those of you with ereaders (or who read ebooks on your laptops and tablets), the last of my older books, Joshua Mansfield and Sheri Zod, has been released as an ebook. You can read more about it on my author site, A Truant Disposition. It may be especially interesting to those of you who follow Gymshoes music because the novella (it’s shorter than my other novels) includes songs, one of which there’s a recorded version of by Undead Monkey (melody line is different from mine). It’s a contemporary fantasy, more in the magic realism school of literary fiction than Tolkien (sorry, no elves). Though this is the fourth of my older novels to be released as an ebook, it was actually the third book I wrote. It’s a good rainy afternoon sort of book. I hope you enjoy it. Might go good with some of my Gymshoes music…If there’s a track that strikes you as good to go with this ebook, drop a comment, I’d like to know what you think! πŸ™‚

Yes, It’s Supposed To Sound That Way

Some you, new to Gymshoes Music, may listen to the first track of Sand In My Shoes and think: is it supposed to sound like that? Yes, it is and I’ll tell you why. πŸ˜€ Gymshoes music is (mostly) not live, not natural; it’s a one-person artificial studio construct. I’ve done stuff that’s real and rootsy (A Tropical Depression) and incorporated natural elements into my soundscapes (“The Beach At Sunrise”, “A Piece of Fiji” for example), but mostly that’s not the idea. Gymshoes music is mostly about creating something that can only be created in the studio. It’s about manipulating sound and rhythm, about editing bits and bytes. Some of you may sneer, but I have a somewhat punk attitude about it: like early punk musicians, I don’t have to be able to play these instruments—it’s legitimate not to.

I recall a discussion about a drum part with former Undead Monkey collaborator Hockinfinger. The band has never had a drummer more than briefly (something that breaks my heart as I’m a very rhythm-oriented girl who wants a long-term drummer). I worked up a complicated overdubbed drum part and he objected (rightly in this case) that no human drummer could play it. His criteria for creating a drum track was the limitation of what a human drummer could do with two hands and two feet. I can understand that. It depends on how real you want the track to be (and what the song needs).

On the other hand, Gymshoes music is not supposed to have that level of reality. πŸ˜‰ I’m one person and though I might lay down a bit of percussion, I’m not a drummer. Doing strictly studio work means that I don’t have any limitations! I have overdubbed rhythm on a lot of the songs precisely because I can do something digitally that can’t be done in the real world! Artificiality is integral. So embrace the hopped-up guitar and manic polyrhythms!

Most contemporary music is a product of technology one way or another. If you’re listening to me play acoustic guitar in my living room, there’s no technology involved. If you’re listening to an mp3, you’re up to your neck in technology. πŸ™‚ I play acoustic guitar, write songs with lyrics instead of samples—like A Tropical Depression—and enjoy rootsy music. But with the exception of A Tropical Depression, Gymshoes music is mostly fun manipulating sound and rhythm. So, yeah, it’s supposed to sound that way! πŸ™‚

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Summer Fun Sale!

My new ebook is scheduled to be released July 19th and Idiolith, in conjunction with Smashwords, is running a coupon sale of my other ebooks now through the 19th. They’ll be approx $3.74 (25% off) for the next 2 weeks with the coupon code on the Smashwords site. Smashwords ebooks can be downloaded in many formats so you can read them on any ereader–or on your computer.

Want a little music to listen to while you’re at the beach reading ebooks? Don’t forget last year’s summer album, Sand In My Shoes. Want something more rootsy and that will do a bit of good too? My EP A Tropical Depression still benefits the Red Cross. There’s been some very heavy weather this year (not to mention the Japanese earthquake and tsunami!) so please don’t forget to give to the Red Cross whether you have the album or not.

Keep your eye on my Truant blog “Idleness” for more info on the upcoming ebook. This one is a bit different. It includes songs, one of which was recorded by my band, Undead Monkey. Eventually I’d like to get the whole set recorded (the one that was recorded, “Incandescent Life” doesn’t have my original melody line). There could be an enhanced ebook edition of Joshua Mansfield and Sheri Zod at some point in the future, but there’s nothing in the works right now and no plans to do it, so don’t wait for that! The ebook (like all my ebooks) will be available in the major online stores (Borders excepted since they’re going bankrupt).

I hope everyone is having a good summer and that my ebooks and music can contribute to that. πŸ˜€


This is it. “ThunderDog” which is now on the Download page will be the last rain track for a while. I have other projects to work on—and I don’t want to tempt fate by working on Rainmaker during hurricane season. πŸ˜† LOL This track is a study in contrast: the rain is very quiet, light, soft, but the thunder is really crackling. So much so that it spooked the dog who can be heard to give a few barks near and far on the audio, as she moved back and forth, to and fro, in agitation at the storm. The occasional bark isn’t a big part of the audio, but I think gives a context to the storm, makes it less like a sterile recording in isolation. There is a danger of monotony with a project like Rainmaker. All rain and all storms don’t sound alike, but they’re similar enough that often what makes a track stand out are the non-storm elements, like frogs, birds, dogs, cars. It create a world in which this rain is happening. I’m still sifting through previous years of of field recordings and hope to bring you more free tracks (see the CC licensing restrictions on the Download page) either in the fall or next spring.

In the meantime I’ll be working on that long ambient piece I mentioned some time back as well as a couple of book manuscripts. My author website and blog is updated more frequently and is a bit more general in subject matter than this blog and I encourage you to pop over and take a look. There will be a certain amount of overlap but most of the material will be new because I blog there more often than here. So add A Truant Disposition to your rss feedreader.

Bad Timing & Far Worse Disasters

I have the worst timing. Last year I released Sand In My Shoes, a sunny, beachy album around the time of the Gulf Oil Spill, when no one was going to the beach! This year I’ve been working on the Rainmaker project again because we’re in a severe drought, but the same anomalous weather conditions that have caused an unprecidented drought here have caused massive flooding elsewhere. While we’re—figurative speaking—“dying” down here, people are literally dying elsewhere. The most recent episode in the rampant freak weather is the tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri. I’ve been to Joplin, went through there on a family vacation when I was a kid. It was sunny, people were friendly. Now there’s a dark could over Joplin and some of the friendly people have been killed, injured, and lost everything.

I can’t stop the disasterous weather. I can’t change it, no matter how many rain tracks I listen to. The storm I was waiting for passed over us dropping only a light rain, not even enough to measure, though parts of Houston got more. I’m giving myself one more week to produce another rain track, then hurricane season will be upon us. I’ll not tempt fate after that. This same “bubble” that’s not allowing rain to reach us will push hurricanes away, too, but with the freakish weather I expect it won’t last and we could go from drought to flood.

I have many times urged you to give to the Red Cross. People need help. You can’t control the weather. Most of you can’t be there, in person, doing disaster relief work in areas which have been hit by floods, tornados (or hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc) but you can support the people who do this good work and support the people who have lost their homes—and to a great extent their lives—by giving to the Red Cross. It’s the best organization for providing rapid response with food, water, and shelter when a disaster hits. And lest you fall prey to “disaster fatigue” because it seems like something terrible is always happening somewhere, remember that someday it could be you who’s getting wrapped up in a blanket by a Red Cross worker.

Even if you don’t live in “tornado alley” or near a flood-prone river, or on an earthquake faultline—even if you live in the dullest, safest place on earth—you could still find yourself personally grateful to the Red Cross. A friend of mine, in my hometown, once mentioned that when a neighbor’s house burned down the Red Cross turned up immediately to help them. When you see apartment fires on the evening news do you ever wonder what happens to all those people who are standing there sobbing and shaking in the middle of the night with nothing but the clothes on their backs? The Red Cross—that’s what happens to them. There are other organizations that help, too, many of which are faith-based non-profits, but these vary from community to community (and if it’s a community-wide disaster they’ll be hit as hard as everyone else). The Red Cross is everywhere. They’ve been doing disaster relief longer than anyone else and they’re damn good at it.

(My EP A Tropical Depression still—always— benefits the Red Cross. Available from most online stores. I would urge other artist to do albums and gigs benefitting the Red Cross.)

Big Rain

The sky has clouded up, but the 3 month drought hasn’t yet been broken—at least not at my house! Today I’ve released another free rain track, “Rainmaker”, which is just a monster track. Over 15 minutes long, with rain turning into a sudden downpour around the 9th minute. That’s not an edit, folks! That’s real! πŸ˜€ So click over to the Download page and grab some big rain!