Rock ‘N Roll, Baby!

You never know when you’re going to run into your next adventure. Could be a trip to the store or to Santander, Spain.

As a writer, I’m always on the lookout for an adventure, even while shopping and flirting with a fireman over frittatas at Freddies!

Now that would be an adventure I’d like to embrace. Ahem, as well as the fireman. Pardon me while I digress and maybe fantasize a bit. Hmmmmm. Okay, I’m back!

Might something like that make it into one of my books? You bet!

I think it’s time I took some of the adventures below, that I’ve by turn loved, lived and survived, and use in a few books, yes?

I landed in the Memphis City Jail, as a child living in Tennessee. Okay, it was pretend, and my dad and sis were by my side, but still!

I’ve been presented that huge cardboard Publishers Clearing House check – and the little paper one I cashed – which funded my move to Or-ee-gon in ’96 (look a bit younger, eh?). Packed up my son and a twenty-six foot U-Haul and headed for a new adventure! Hey, at least the brakes on the U-Haul went out just as we crested the mountain pass when in Oregon, not on the way down. Now, THAT was an experience! Pre-cell phones, too.

getting-the-check-name-redacted

Barrel raced my Appy in gymkhanas and rodeos.

cropped-running

Enjoyed living within blocks of Waikiki Beach in my 20’s – didn’t enjoy Hurricane Iwa. She was a big blowhard!

Rocked & rolled in San Jose during the 1989 6.9 earthquake and was horrified by the damage and death-toll.

1989-loma-prieta-earthquake

And in my late 30’s, I was thrown face-down to the ground amidst vines of grapes by a rowdy horse that danced his hooves on my calf and twice on my butt – do you supposed he meant to stomp the grapes? Good thing I had (okay, and have) a substantial rear and strong, muscular calves! Weight-lifting paid off!

Note to self – identify all loud bug-zappers before riding bareback. Didn’t stop me from girl’s night at the Saddle Rack the next night (didn’t dance, darn it) and yup, I got back in the saddle!

scared-horse vineyard

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is just a smattering of the myriad adventures that have graced my life. What about you? Share some of your experiences. Check back occasionally to enjoy new hijinks. I’ll update as I encounter that next hunky fireman, or that next big surprise!

Rock n’ Roll, ya’ll!

Gemma

Romance, Hide! or Where to Bury the Body?

I can’t help it, when I think of a place, or an activity, my brain acts like a squirrel facing down a speeding semi on a two-lane highway – bouncing around from romance to where the heck can I hide?  Or, is that a good place to bury a body?

shovel

 

That’s a writer’s brain for you! We’re always conjuring scenarios in our heads. Show me a sandy beach, and I picture walking hand in hand and stealing kisses, or diving into the water and swimming for my life so that guy with a knife giving chase can’t get his hands – or that blade – on me. Hope to hell he can’t swim!

couple kissing beach swimming in ocean

 

 

 

 

Maybe on a hike through the trees near Mr. Hood, I hear rustling in the bushes. Two lovers making out, or am I prey being stalked by four- or two-legged predators ready to pounce?! Do I run? Climb a tree? Where’s a hollow log to crawl into when you need one?

Dark.Forest forest with girl

 

 

 

 

Anything and everything is a weapon to me. I was prowling a second-hand store recently and saw a hand-crafted pick. Couldn’t resist grabbing it as a prop for one of the weapons in my paranormal romance. Let the coroner have a field day trying to determine what gouged a hole in the corpse he’s examining.


handmade pick

I think having been raised by a WWII veteran who was, by turns, a flight engineer, MP and physics instructor in the Navy in the forties and fifties – not to mention he was the guy who set up all the Sikorsky training facilities for the Navy – has aided and abetted my writer brain. My earliest memory of his lessons on situational awareness and self-defense goes back to when I was five. I bet the lessons started when I was in the cradle!

 Karate Kick

 

 

 

So, you readers, writers and folk who don’t do either, what’s going through your mind when you’re driving, hiking, swimming, jogging – or kissing? Come on, share! This writer wants to know!

~ Gemma

Check out some of the interesting books below on some of the subjects above…

 

 

Originally published under my other writer alter-ego, Fiola Faelan, and updated for this post.

Portland or Bust….Behind the Scenes with Romance Author Gemma Blake

How about a ‘behind-the-scenes’ glimpse into Gemma’s trek to the Great Northwest? 

Twenty-two years has come and gone since I packed up the twenty-four foot U-haul and eleven year-old son for the trek to the Great Northwest. It had taken me much too long to realize how toxic Silicon Valley was for both of us, but was ascribing to the ‘better late than never’ theory of forward motion.

Once in a while you may get mired in doubts about making change – forge forward anyway!

 

When you have family members who make bad decisions, and you realize that by staying you’re enabling their decisions as well as becoming a victim to those decisions, the hard decision is the best – to say, “To hell with fishing, I’m cutting bait.”

It’s okay to remove yourself from bad situations – it’s not your responsibility to try to fix their issues, especially when they don’t want to have them fixed – only enabled.

The two years previous to the move was spent researching and traveling to find that perfect spot to settle down. For those of you young enough to only know “Googling”, research at that time consisted of frequent visits to the library, subscriptions to newspapers from far away cities, and interviewing people from those areas.

Origin of google: 1998; after mathematical term googol. I still go to the library, and googling something will never replace the experience of actually being there!

When I found a likely candidate, travel was booked. My son and I would land and pretend we lived there. I’d book a hotel in non-touristy areas and we would settle in for several days. I had a blast traveling with Cy!

Interesting places! Tucson, Austin, Corpus Christi, Seattle, Pendleton, Tempe, Phoenix, Paso Robles, Sacramento, Redmond, Spokane, Eugene and last but not least, Roseburg! Whew! Wait! And Portland!

Portland was one of those cities. It fit much of the criteria on my list of must-haves, and even my list of nice-to-haves. What clinched it was a board member of the company I was working at. He heard I was interested in moving and said he could offer me a job for three months.

Lists, gotta love lists: Air quality, lower crime stats, good schools, diversity okay but not the best, affordable to a single mom with no child-support, job for three months, mild weather, only a little rain. Wait! What? Okay, not sure how I missed that the rainy season is from October 29 ½ til July 5th, but oh well.

Having always had a fearless ‘I-can-do-anything streak’ I snatched up the job, made arrangements, packed the truck and put it in gear.

It was an interesting trip! Oh boy, was it interesting. On I5, at the top of the Siskyou’s, and smoke fills the cab of the twenty-four-foot truck. Miraculously, we were just approaching an off-ramp. If you’ve driven that freeway, you know just what a miracle that was. Stepped on the brakes.  Wait! STEPPED ON THE BRAKES. Oh shit! Put my foot to the floor on the brake pedal and the emergency brake. Truck rolled to a stop. Right at the top of the off-ramp. Whew!

This is where dad’s training came in handy – always have rations, something to protect yourself (he may have called them weapons), and blankets or coats or sleeping bags. Okay, I didn’t have the gun, but pretty much the rest.

 

 

We’re in the middle of nowhere! Picture this – it is BEFORE mobile or cell phones. I’m looking for change and a pay phone. You know, the kind that Superman used? Finally found one – another miracle – after tramping across a field to a campsite.

 

Unfortunately, Superman wasn’t using that particular phone booth at the time, so we were on our own.

 

 

U-haul arrived a few hours later, fixed the brakes – man, I pictured them failing after cresting the rise and screaming DOWN the mountain. Sweat beads on forehead.

Was I nervous driving the rest of the way? Hell yes!

I digress. We get on the road again, six hours later, spend the night in Grant’s Pass, and arrive in Milwaukie, Or-ee-gon mid-day the next day. I pull in front of the cute, nineteen-thirties house I’d rented, looked over at Cy, and said something like, “I didn’t quite think this far ahead. I’m not sure how we’re going to get the heavy pieces out of the truck.”

What? Something was missing from my list?

 

Yup, I’d moved over seven-hundred miles away where I knew NO ONE except the man I was going to work for, and I didn’t know him well enough to even let him know we’d arrived, much less ask for help unloading.

Another miracle arrived in the form of a neighbor and her fourteen-year-old, very tall and strong son. We were saved!

Sometimes neighbors can be amazing.


 

And the rest is history – twenty-two years of history! We of course have had our ups and downs – every roller coaster ride does –  but let me tell you – the moral of my story is:

Be fearless! Make your own destiny – even if you get slapped down along the way – get back up.

BE FEARLESS! It’s worth repeating….

~ Gemma

 

(originally posted as my alter-ego, Fiola Faelan)