Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dreaming in Music With British Musicians, Sam Bradley and Marcus Foster

I am first, a writer, second, an artist, and third, a musician/singer songwriter. Because I’m so busy writing, I don’t often get to my artwork. However, I am able to listen to music even though I don’t have time to create my own songs much anymore. Music inspires me though and drives my writing. Which brings me to Sam Bradley and Marcus Foster. Due to a flurry of travel and business meetings, I have missed seeing my favorite Brit musician/singer-songwriters Sam Bradley and Marcus Foster on tour in the U.S. this spring. And it has been frustrating because I really love these guys. I love their music. Their wit. Their personalities. Their performances. Their friendships. Fans have been sending in pictures, videos and reports of their shows and I’ve been grateful. Taking this one step further, I’ve listened to their music and used my imagination to “Dream in Music” with Sam and Marcus. In doing so, I have traversed the terrain to enter into new realms of heart, new realms of adventure, and a new realm of awareness about these 2 artists.

Listening to Sam Bradley’s music is like taking a ride on a roller coaster without holding on…with your hands high over your head. It’s a thrill. You’re giddy and giggly. You swoon, you dance, you cavort. His music is punched with melodic sounds and soulful insights. It's breathtaking, surprising, and takes you beyond the ordinary. And when I dream in music with Sam, the experience is even more multisensory because dreaming is multidimensional. I hear his voice – like colors lilting on the wind – singing Details, a song that’s featured on his EP, Zuni, (a top-of-the-charts song on iTunes). The lyrics transport me to a non-ordinary dream world where angels and devils roam freely. Heaven and hell, upside down…angels wishing you well when they put you in the ground…sending you further down….I stumble over a large over-turned tree lying gutted, roots exposed to the sky and it feels like a knife plunges through my solar plexus. But it doesn’t hurt. I don’t bleed. I am the angel in an upside down world…And I run faster now, swept into a vortex of thoughts and feelings. Details offers an intimate glimpse of that life or death feeling and demonstrates Sam’s development as a songwriter. It shows how he takes ephemeral moments and places them at the crossroads, where music and the darker corners of the human heart intersect.  

Listening to Marcus Foster’s music is like dropping through a trapdoor in a barn loft that’s covered with prickly hay, and falling headlong into a featherbed floating in air. When I dream in music with Marcus, I hear “I Was Broken"…I am running and swishing through golden wheat fields and the wind is rushing at my back and I fall into the sky where I meet up with the moon and stars. And they make me whole again. I am not sure I want to wake up. Dreaming in music is like the air that I breathe and loving music along with the artists, Sam and Marcus, is like an intimate relationship. Because music is intimate. It is where these artists give it their all – love, time, energy, blood, sweat and tears because music is who they are. It’s as important as the air they breathe. And we friends and fans love them back as hard as we can.
Since Sam and Marcus have known each other since Sam was eight years old, they’ve been BFFs and their camaraderie during this short U.S. tour is ever-present. From all the fans’ stories, pictures and videos, these two Brits display that they’re down-to-earth good souls, silly goofballs, and self-deprecating at every turn. They’re comedians. And at the same time, they’re skilled, soulful musicians who really bring it when they perform on stage.
And when they're not on stage? Well, let's just say traveling cross-country in a van isn’t for the faint of heart. It can be brutal and make even the toughest of souls cranky. (Anyone remember Oprah Winfrey and her bestie Gail when they did their road trip one summer in the U.S.? They bickered and got on each other’s nerves like crazy). But not Sam and Marcus. They’re easy-going and fun, and they’re serious about music because that’s where their hearts are centered. When we are centered in our hearts, when we act in accordance with our truest nature, we access and express who we are. We do it automatically, creatively, and consistently. Growing is a process of strengthening and healing cracks in our lives so we can encounter and embrace our destiny. And that’s evident in Marcus and Sam’s songs. Their music heals the cracks in our lives. And it is their destiny. Our destiny is to know them, appreciate, support and embrace them.
Most of us are not raised to actively encounter our destiny. We may not even know we have one. We may be doing what our parents told us we should do, or what society expects of us. As children, we are seldom told we have a place in life that is uniquely ours alone. Instead, we are encouraged to believe that our life should fulfill the expectation of others. We are brainwashed into listening to others’ versions of ourselves. When we survey our lives, seeking to fulfill our destinies, we often see we had a dream that went glimmering off into the ethers because we believed that dream was beyond our reach. Many of us would have been, or at least might have been, done, tried something, if . . . if we had known who we really were. Thank God for Lee Lindsey, Sam’s mum, (a singer-songwriter in Vancouver and Britain) and for Mrs. Foster, Marcus’s mum. Thank God that Sam and Marcus have families who encourage them to live and dream in music.

Their U.S. tour is almost over. And soon, Sam, Marcus and Marcus’s talented and lovable keyboardist, Jack Standen, will be going home, away from the fans where they'll go back to recording and writing songs. (I’ve gotten rave reviews about Jack at the shows! Seems like the girls really love him!) Sam and Marcus’s next show is Monday, April 16th at Ninth Ward in Babeville, Buffalo, New York. Go see them, everyone…And, when you can’t be at their shows, listen and dream with them in music! You might just open up to worlds you didn't know existed!
Yes, I am first, a Writer, second, an Artist, and third, a Musician/Singer-Songwriter. And above all of these, I am a Dreamer.
Please visit Marcus Foster’s website at: for more info about their tour. Sam Bradley’s new website is currently under rehab. 
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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day Everyone!

I am part-Irish. Of course, I am also part-French, part-Welsh, part-Scottish and part-Native American Indian and heaven knows what else! But my mother’s maiden last name was Thompson. You can’t get much more Irish than that. Maybe that’s why I love all the Irish and Irish-influenced foods we have in America. Corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, Irish stew, potatoes in every form and fashion, Irish buttermilk scones…all delicious, and all foods that I enjoy both in the U.S. and in Ireland!

When I first traveled to Ireland, people warned me that the food wasn’t good, but I never understood what they were talking about. I had some of the best food ever in Irish pubs and country kitchens throughout the Emerald Isle.

Ireland is a place I love and I plan to go back there some day. I can’t wait to see the rolling green hills flecked with sheep and the massive rocky cliffs that overhang the sea. I can’t wait to feel the frothy spray of sea on my face while winds howl and riff through the sand dunes. I can’t wait to lie in the meadow grassland and scrub high on a hill and watch clouds chase one another in the sky. Ireland is a mystical place where dreams are forged and ancient Druid lives are remembered. Ahhh, but I digress…We were talking about St. Patrick’s Day.

According to, concerning St. Patrick's Day, the person who was to become St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Wales about AD 385. His given name was Maewyn, and he almost didn't get the hob of Bishop of Ireland because he lacked the required scholarship. Far from being a saint, until he was 16, he considered himself a pagan. At that age, he was sold into slavery by a group of Irish marauders that raided his village. During his captivity, he became a Christian and adopted the name Patrick. He escaped slavery after six years and went to Gaul where he studied in the monastery under St. Germaine, Bishop of Auxerre in Burgundy, France for a period of twelve years. During his training he got the notion that his calling was to convert the pagans to Christianity. His wishes were to return to Ireland to do this. But his superiors, instead, appointed St. Palladius. Two years later, Palladius transferred to Scotland and Patrick was then appointed as Second Bishop to Ireland.

Patrick was quite successful at winning converts. And this fact rightfully upset the Celtic Druids, who had their own native religion. Patrick was arrested several times, but escaped each time. He traveled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches which would aid him in his indoctrination of the Irish country into Christianity. His mission in Ireland lasted for thirty years. After that time, Patrick retired to County Down. He died on March 17 in AD 461. That day has been commemorated as St. Patrick's Day ever since.

Though originally a Catholic Holy Day, St. Patrick's Day has evolved into more of a secular holiday. Today, people celebrate the day with parades, wearing of the green, and drinking beer...and of course, kissing! One reason St. Patrick's Day might have become so popular is that it takes place just a few days before the first day of spring. Some say it's the first "green" of spring.

And so it is on this day that I want to wish all my friends, my creative counterparts and others, a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I’d like to invite you to join me in a day of celebrating with all green foods! Yep, I’ve decided to “go green” today. That means I’ll be eating cabbage, broccoli, cucumbers, green peppers, green onions, lettuce, asparagus and spinach – all with green tea. For dessert, I will have a green Granny Smith apple. These are all foods that are nutritious and are featured prominently on ANY diet you choose whether it’s vegan, low-carb, the Paleo Diet, the Dukan Diet, or whatever. You simply cannot go wrong with green foods. And even the diets that tell you to not eat fruit will generally allow a Granny Smith green apple because it’s not too sweet. And, I'll probably go out and spend some "green" as a way to celebrate this festive day as well!

And yep, I'm open for "kisses." After all, it's St. Patrick's Day and as I mentioned...I'm Irish!

If you find yourself out at a pub having a green beer or two, or home having a heaping bowl of Irish stew, remember to have fun and not worry too much about it. You can get back to your healthy foods and “diet” tomorrow. I’ll leave you with the ole saying: “May the luck o’the Irish be with you!” Have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

“St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.” ~Adrienne Cook

Music: Currently listening to the album "Sigh No More" by Mumford & Sons

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I Am a Ghost

I am a ghost. I stand in the shadows of celebrities and bestsellers. Ghost. I stand in the obscure corners of the world of time and space and I observe and listen…and I write.

In 2010, the movie, The Ghost Writer, by Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski (The Pianist), starring Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan hit the big screens. I was so excited that there was a movie about someone like me! In the story, Ewan McGregor plays an unnamed ghostwriter who signs on to pen the memoirs of former British prime minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). The money is good, but there’s a catch: the ghost’s predecessor perished under mysterious circumstances (his body washed up on the shore in an apparent suicide). So, does that mean Ewan McGregor’s character is in danger? I get chills just thinking about this. The movie was great and a fairly good representation of a ghostwriter’s life in many ways. Except we don’t always traverse through danger and deserted islands to get our stories. Not always.

Besides denoting the human spirit or soul, both of the living and the deceased, the Old English word, Ghost, is used as a synonym of Latin spiritus also in the meaning of "breath" or "blast" from the earliest attestations (9th century). For me and my clients, "ghost" means I am their ghostwriter. A hidden spirit no one knows about. I don't go on David Letterman and promote my books. The authors do. Confidentiality clauses prevent me from doing this. And I don't mind. I write clients' stories, their books. I step inside their shoes, their homes, and their hearts, and transform into whoever they want me to be.

I have been writing since I was young and learned how to read and write, and I've been a professional ghostwriter for more than 15 years. In addition to ghostwriting and editing books, I also write, direct and produce videos which include travel videos, music videos, book trailers-videos, inspirational, and marketing. And, I author several online music and pop culture columns for fun, as well as write a movie blog. I have been a professional writer, book doctor and editor for more than 25 years. I have written everything – radio & TV commercials, blogs, online columns, documentaries, websites, podcasts, screenplays, book proposals, personal books, short stories, newsletters, blogs, magazine articles, newspaper articles, songs, poems…you name it, I have written it. But about 15 years ago, I began to mostly ghostwrite books for clients as there became a great demand for this kind of work. I’m not the only one. There are an estimated 4 million listings under the Google search term ghostwriter. It’s a competitive business, but for the adventurous types, it’s perfect.

As a ghostwriter, I have to be an actress, a chameleon. I have to be able to take on the role of my client and write in that person’s voice whether it’s a male or female. I often have to travel the world to meet my clients and tell their stories. I have written books for Muslims who de-program terrorists, Afghanistan folks who escaped the Taliban, businessmen, U.S. soldiers from Iraq, Hollywood celebrities, sports figures, entrepreneurs, celebrities, attorneys, Navy Seal experts, fitness gurus, spiritual leaders, wild west figures, doctors, Mafia leaders, musicians, emerald and drug cartels, prison inmates, and more. You wouldn’t believe the people I have met. Some great and some not-so-great. Some patient and some not-so-patient. But they're all interesting!

I write both fiction and nonfiction books. And what is the process? Varied. Some clients give me notes scribbled on a napkin and others give me a sentence or two and say, “I want you to write a book about so and so…” From one sentence, I have created 600-page novels. Some give me more extensive outlines. And yes, some of the stories have been boring - so boring I could barely stay awake writing them - and others have been "on-the-edge-of-your-seat" exciting. Not all of the books have been bestsellers, but a good portion have and that’s rewarding for me. A wise man once told me that if I make others successful, I will be successful. And that is true.

People always ask me: Why don’t you write your own books? Well, I do. I have. I am. But, while I write my own books, I have to make a living since I'm single, so I serve as a “Ghost for Hire.” In addition to ghosting for clients, I offer marketing, branding, coaching and consulting services to help get their books to market. I coach them on every aspect of the publishing industry as most don’t have a clue. I also work with top New York literary agents and publishers as well as Hollywood film agents, and have helped negotiate six-figure advances for their books. Most people don’t know where to start when they want to write and publish a book. That’s why they need people like me. The Ghosts. I can tell you this: It’s a tough business. But, many businesses are. And it’s one I love very much.

A Few Tips for New, Aspiring Ghostwriters

For all of you who want to become ghostwriters, here are a few tips: First and foremost, do not under-price yourself. Never! You should always get paid in advance of each section of work. No exceptions! (Clients can and do disappear sometimes!) You can structure a payment plan for the client if that helps. And always, always, have the client sign a professional Agreement/Contract that outlines your services and fees, your responsibilities and their responsibilities. (The Author’s Guild has some excellent sample Agreements you can use). Since I also write book proposals and marketing plans, and edit and develop books as well as ghostwrite them, my fees range from $4,000 to $6,000 to $25,000 to $100,000 per book. I also critique books for clients and those fees are generally no more than $200 per 200-page book. Fees are flexible, depending on the project. The fee for ghostwriting a book or writing a book proposal includes finding an agent and publisher for my client. I write a book proposal for nonfiction books which includes sample chapters and a marketing analysis. Most of the time, a client will divide his/her payments into thirds. Sometimes, a client pays one-half the fee up front and the balance when I’m halfway through the project. My fee is flexible and generally depends on the type of book it is, if any of it has been written in rough draft, and the client’s budget. I have learned that the more a client pays, generally, the easier that person is to work with. The ones who pay the lower fees are the ones who will drive you crazy. I don’t know why, but this is true.

Second, it helps if you know the publishing industry inside and out. Learn about agents and publishers and connect with them as much as possible. Learn about Kindle and all the new online opportunities and digital publishing, self-publishing and print-on-demand. Learn about Social Media and creating trailers for the books much like a movie trailer. It’s a new world out there and many people are having a lot of success through these new publishing venues.

Third, invest in a killer website. Promote your site by buying Google Ad Sense ads and through Social Media. You have to market yourself which may include advertising in writers’ magazines and online.

Fourth, establish boundaries with your client up front. You will get to know your client very well though this process and will probably be available for him/her almost 24/7. But, that doesn’t mean that you should sacrifice time with your family and friends. I’ve had clients who clamored for my attention when I was with loved ones who were deathly ill, or even during holidays like Christmas and New Year’s. And they’ve demanded my attention even when I was sick in bed with the flu! It has been a big lesson – and a hard one – for me to learn how to establish boundaries so they don’t invade my privacy. Your client is and should be a priority, but there are limits to what you should do or not do. The client does not own you. Being able to meet a client’s expectations is important, so establish some firm rules and guidelines up front.

Realize that you are going to have to be flexible and this means the client may want to fly you to their location. I’ve traveled all over the world to meet clients and it is fun, but can be draining if you schedule too many trips within one month. With the availability of Skype, you can often “meet” with your clients online and not have to travel. But if you enjoy visiting new countries and cities, then the travel is fun. Never let the client coerce you into paying for your own travel expenses though. He/she should buy your airline ticket, reserve your hotel room, and provide funds for food and incidentals.

Enjoy the writing process. Enjoy learning about something new and becoming that “person” for a while. Take on your role as the actor who lives and breathes the story. Each book you write is “practice” for writing your own novel, your own bestselling book someday. And remember, if you make your client successful, then you’re going to be successful. Happy clients mean good referrals and there’s nothing better than getting a great paying job through word of mouth.

Remember that ghostwriting for clients is a business. Respect that and treat it like a business. That’s the only way you’ll survive. But enjoy every moment of being a Ghost. You never know who you might meet.

If You Would Like to Hire Me

If you would like to hire me as your ghostwriter, give me a call. We will discuss your story, your budget and if I'm the right fit for you. You just never know. Your book might be the next bestseller! And no matter what, I can guarantee you, it will be an exciting, rewarding adventure!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Escape to An Autumn World of Creativity

I wrestle with a sentence in the novel I’m working on. It won’t behave. I grapple at it, stronghold it, and still, it won’t cooperate. I take a sip of tea and stretch my arms. At my window, a golden light slivers through the blinds, beckoning, and I give up. I put on my shoes, run a brush through my hair and zip down the stairs, grab my car keys and I’m out the door to take a drive on this beautiful autumn day.

Autumn always inspires me. Perhaps it’s the riot of color that’s so intense, I cannot “see” enough. Perhaps it’s something deeper. It’s just what I need to replenish my creative well – to get inspired to continue writing. I had nearly forgotten that driving or walking out in the beautiful countryside on an autumn day is intoxicating. I had forgotten how it nourishes every tiny corner in myself. And I need it desperately.

As I’m driving, I listen to one of my favorite British musician’s CDs – Marcus Foster’s “Nameless Path,” and the music soars through me and the golden sunlight so completely that I can barely contain myself behind the wheel. Everywhere – everywhere – red, burnished-copper and yellow trees clamor in a chorus for my attention over the hillsides. Sunlight shimmers like diamonds on the leaves. A few float in front of me, laughing at my naïveté. And I free-fall into the beauty head-over heels into this autumn world of wonder where creative thoughts explode and inspiration takes hold.

As writers, musicians, artists, sculptors, dancers, travelers – it serves us to consciously and continuously find windows to the world of wonder. To the world of creativity. We must locate places that open the trapdoor to our imagination and allow the breath – the soul – the story – the music – of greater worlds to enter our too-claustrophobic lives. Whether it’s an autumn drive, our favorite music, or a walk into the world, we must find these doorways beyond our ordinariness. Imagination is not linear. It needs to step beyond ordinary time and space. We all need a window for the imagination – for the writer in us – for the musician in us – for the artist in us. We need a time and place to roam carefree through the autumn countryside on a golden sunny day that’s peppered with orange pumpkins and scattered dreams.

So often, we try to force ourselves to face a harsh and difficult world when we might, instead, soften both ourselves and our world just by slowing down…slowing down with the beauty of the day, with the music of our heart. We all worry rather than ruminate. We fret rather than speculate. So often, we feel there is so much we yearn to do and so little time to do it.

We are all far more multiple and rich than most of us assume. We are far larger and more colorful, far more powerful and intricate, far more deep and far more high than we often concede. It is one of the mysteries of the creative life that when we stop and become willing to listen, the “still, small voice” seems to grow louder. I “listen” with my drive into the autumn countryside. I “listen” while music opens the trapdoors. This is when the well of creativity is filled.

For now, I am full of story, full of music, full of autumn wonder. I am in love with the gold, the red, the yellow, the clouds, the sun, the moon, the air, the sky, the trees, the music. I am in love with life.

We are the children of our landscape;
It dictates behavior and even thought
In the measure to which we are responsive to it
~Lawrence Durrell

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Hello Friends,

Soon, it will be Halloween and I can't wait. I love this time of year. Mountains of orange pumpkins are piled high outside the door at Whole Foods. Reminds me of when I was a little girl and dressed up for Halloween. I loved being "someone else" for a while.

Autumn is the most wonderful time of the year for me. It inspires me and helps me to dream. The crisp, refreshing air, the brilliant, azure blue sky, the red, amber and gold leaves shimmering on the trees.

Take a moment to breathe in the beauty of these days. Let your senses come alive with the autumn colors and enjoy.

I wish all of you the best. Know that life is good.


Monday, April 21, 2008


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