"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

And to all...


Forgive me, Mr. Claws. I'm afraid I've made a terrible mess of your holiday.

I’ve leapt into the 90s with this quote. I do love me some Nightmare Before Christmas.

2023 has been busy and surreal. On the plus side, we were all kept running to vacations, to weddings, to engagements and activities galore. On the minus side, there was a minus side.

I think it’s all going to even out with enough miles behind us.

We do have a new member of our family this year. We are fostering a delightful 10-year-old Cairn terrier named Nessa. Think Toto from the Wizard of Oz. She is still quite spry for her age and has told our 2-year-old Corgi Piper that she wears the crown in this group. Nessa’s owner is sadly quite ill, so we are treating this foster like an adoption unless a miracle happens, and the owner is capable of taking care of her again.

Trips, so many trips this year. We were in Big Bear for a wedding, Chicago for a library conference, and Temecula for another wedding. We also took our week in the mountains, which was delightful, came home to repack and fly off to Hawai’i. We were on the big island in Kona with my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and nephew, plus all of my sister-in-law’s siblings and their families. We didn’t really do any touristy stuff, but I enjoyed the feeling of being in this big chaotic jumble of a family, not to mention all the food.

Dale got to go to Angels’ spring training camp, where he did a lot of ushering. There were a couple of nights when I had dinner at Craftsman Pizza and tried to find him on TV during the game. Alas, I never did. He also volunteered at the U.S. Open Golf Tournament, although he missed this year’s Boston trip to play golf with his friends. His mom is requiring a lot more help these days and he’s been on-call to take care of her, our developmentally disabled cousin who lives with her, and the house they live in. He still manages to golf and to coach a team in the local parks and recreation basketball league.

And I see him every now and again.

My year started off strong. I had an author booth at a lot of festivals, I was guest speaker at the National Federation of Women’s Clubs Convention, which was thrilling, and Dhani and I finished in the Top Ten at the AQHA Level 1 West Championships. And then my semi-routine mammogram discovered breast cancer. It was Stage 0, contained, and all I had to have was surgery. No radiation, no chemo, just five years of monitoring and hormone-blocking meds. The next time you see me, I may have grown a beard.

Marcus is still working the day job at Cal State Long Beach while he plants himself in the world of barbershop. It seems that the Newfangled Four are constantly traveling around the country singing, competing, and making goofy videos. They came in 6th at this year’s International Barbershop Competition, and vow that next year, they’re aiming for the top. He’s also still in two choral groups, but I’m afraid his days as part of Westbeat have come to a close. I will miss seeing him perform in Downtown Disney, but a guy’s gotta pace himself. In the meantime, he’s having fun as an amateur bartender, whipping up unusual and tasty concoctions. I may have to hire him for my next soiree. 

In the Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter tells Alice she’s lost her muchness. “You used to be much more…muchier.” I’m thinking these days about the muchness of life and how many times I didn’t do something because I was overwhelmed by how much energy it took. Then COVID came along and I realized how many things I missed out on because I thought I’d get to them later. And this year, going through breast cancer, I wondered if I’d have a “later.”

So, don’t wait. We know life is fragile but it’s hard to believe when we’re sitting here, hale and hearty. Take the vacation. Go to the concert. Stop by the little shop you admire. Invite a friend to join you. Use up every scrap of every minute of every day. To quote Auntie Mame: “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.”


Fill your plate!

The Carlines

Monday, August 28, 2023

Having it all

 Author. Singer. Actor. Artist.

We've all heard the response when we said we wanted a career in the arts. "That's great, but you should have a backup plan."

Accountant. Teacher. Nurse. Tech. The Backup Plan.

Not making a living as an artist, needing a day job while you pursue your dreams, sounds like failure. You're supposed to reach for the stars, pour your heart and soul into your desires, knock on every door, chase every opportunity until your book is a bestseller, or your song hits Number One, or your movie is a blockbuster. Anything less than that is a big fat ZERO, and so are you.

BUT...what if the day job isn't the Backup Plan? What if you can be an accountant with a weekly singing gig and be happy?

A podcast I listened to recently made the case for the Parallel Job. As long as artists are creating art, we are not failures. Our day job is not what we've HAD to do to put food on the table--it's a parallel role, an additional plan we put into motion to enhance our lives.

And I might argue, that parallel job is necessary to artists. Even the creative brain needs to take a break now and then. Rest enables the creative ideas to bubble to the top, keeps the heart and mind from burning out. Working with numbers, with people, with objects allows our creativity to wander. And when it wanders, it sometimes picks up pretty rocks, interesting leaves, and a new idea or two.

The podcast also made a case for creating art for art's sake. So many authors are locked into a series or a genre because that's where their readers are so that's what they sell. Singers stay in their country/rock/jazz lane because every song has to reach for the top of the chart. Artists who find a niche (geometric cows, luminescent landscapes, splatter patterns) are encouraged to "paint more of that."

But maybe you don't always need to monetize your creativity. Maybe sometimes write something just for you. Sing a song for your baby. Put on a show for free. Do something that allows you to let go, feel the wind through your soul as you reach inside yourself and hitch it to the breeze. 

Keep the day job and do your art. Your success comes from juggling multiple tasks, from doing things to the best of your abilities, and from feeling the freedom that comes with self-expression.

Art, and life, are to be enjoyed. Get out there and enjoy them!

Sunday, August 13, 2023

I have no regrets

Y'all know one thing about me, and that is I'm a lady of a certain age...that age being older.

What you may not know is that I went to Las Vegas last weekend with three of my friends. We were having a farewell to one of the gals, who is moving out of the area. I'm not much of a Vegas baby. I'm too pale to enjoy the pools, and I don't gamble. The only things I like to do there are eat and go to shows. But I was happy and willing to spend a weekend with friends.

Vegas' motto is "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." Not when I come to town. I will confess all and feel no regrets.

NoMad Library Restaurant

Our weekend included shopping at fabulous stores, eating delish food, touring the Princess Diana Exhibit, ziplining down Fremont Street, and seeing the show, "Thunder From Down Under," where I ended up on stage with half-undressed young men. 

I'm pretty sure I know which one of those activities you want me to tell you

I wasn't excited about seeing Thunder, but I've never seen the show and I didn't want to complain. We were tucked into a lovely booth in the back of the theater where I figured the dancers would be far away.

Apparently, I was wrong. They like to include the whole room.

The show was as I expected--dancing, ripping off shirts, ripping off pants, etc. The audience was overwhelmingly filled with bachelorette parties and each lead dancer picked a young woman from the audience and did suggestive dance moves with her. Rinse and repeat.

I think I had just checked my watch when I saw the emcee come off the stage toward an older, white-haired woman. Her name was Judy and he asked her to accompany him. She declined. We tried to encourage her ("Ju-DEE! JU-DEE!) but she wasn't having it. So he smiled and said, "That's okay, Judy. I think I see someone else in the crowd who might accompany me this evening."

Then he wandered all the way to the back, all the way to our booth, and held his hand out to me. I could have said no, but my motto has always been, "Sure, I'm not doing anything else."

He ushered me to a tall-backed red velvet chair in the middle of the stage, wrapped a boa around my neck, and asked me if I wanted "an experience." My first thought was, "Thanks, I've had some." I mean, I'm not a nun, right? Then he asked, "Would you like the boys to dance for you?"

Oooohhhh. THAT'S what he meant.

The boys came out in shirts and pants, dancing to 70s disco music. It's so cute they think that was my era. At some point the shirts came off and they kept dancing. Every once in awhile they'd come over to me and smile and I'd smile back and it was just a very smiley kind of thing. 

At some point I noticed they weren't on the stage anymore but the emcee was. He faced me and put my hands on his tush. I didn't squeeze but I did hold. Then he turned away from me and stood in front of me with his hands away from his sides.

I'm such a dork. I didn't know what he wanted me to do. At last, I held my arms out between his waist and his arms, my palms extended in an "I'm clueless" pose. I guess that was the right thing to do because he took my right hand and ran it down his chest, into his pants. Not too far, though. There are laws about that.

At various times he would lean in and let his cheek touch mine (faces, people!) so that it looked as if he was kissing me, but his lips never touched me. That's when I realized it was all "smoke and mirrors," even the suggestive dancing. Each time he leaned in, he asked if I was doing okay. I assured him I was fine.

It was a little like having the young guy at the grocery store ask me if I needed help getting my bags to the car.

He took my hands and lifted me from the chair, saying, "Now we're going to bow."

Bow? I thought. What's a bow? I remembered just in time, we bowed, and he escorted me to the edge of the stage. 

The crowd all cheered and gave me high-fives, told me how entertaining I was. I took that with a grain of salt, since they'd all been drinking. But it was fun.

And now I have a boa.

Monday, July 10, 2023

The memories I wasn't looking for

 Like Barbra says:

This is what happens when you go through your old photographs looking for an old photo. I didn't find what I was looking for, but I found others that made me think and laugh and reminisce and even broke my heart just a little bit.

Naturally, I needed to share.

This is Samirah.

She and her family took care of Marcus while Dale and I worked, all the way up until we had to tear ourselves from her loving hug and send Marcus to elementary school. Her family is from Lebanon and Marcus was their little prince. They doted on him and included us in their orthodox Christian traditions, sharing their food, inviting us to their son's wedding, etc. While he was with them, Marcus could at least understand Arabic because they spoke it in the home, and one of my favorite things to do with him was say, "busa" so he would kiss me.

This is my cousin Max. 

He lived in Missouri with his mother, Aunt Dovey (her real name was Little Dove) and he'd come visit my grandmother in Illinois every once in a bit. We loved it when Max visited and Grandma was always ready to receive traveling guests--her skill as a hostess still awes and evades me! The thing is, I'm reasonably certain Max was gay. At one point he had a friend, also named Max, who would accompany him on these trips and Grandma was always grateful that they never complained about sharing a double bed when they visited. He had The. Best. Sense. of Humor. Ever.

This is Alyssa Barnes.

This picture both makes me extremely happy and devastatingly sad. We lost Alyssa to that damned demon Cancer at much too young an age. I see this picture and see immediately what a goddess she was, and I'm gutted that she didn't live long enough to show us what wonders she could perform. Here's a link to what I wrote about her loss: https://gaylecarline.blogspot.com/2016/04/you-do-not-write-away-heartache.html

This is my family.

These are photos of my hubby, looking joyful, and my nieces and nephew with Marcus, all surprisingly sitting together, mostly smiling and looking at the camera. For kids, that's a win!

If time permits, why don't you leaf through some of your old photos? Memories are good things, whether happy or sad. They show the path we have taken to get where we are.

Friday, June 30, 2023

A quick short note

 Hey there, Peeps!

Just a quick note to tell you I'll be in Anaheim this Sunday, July 2nd, with my Big Booth o' Books. Look for me from 11-3 at the Ebell Club!

I hope to see you there!

Monday, June 19, 2023

Happy (and contemplative) Juneteenth!

These blog posts are usually done commando-style, as in I don't spend a lot of time crafting my words, so I'm hoping this turns into something coherent.

It's Juneteenth today and I'm thinking about it. Or maybe it's more like noodling (a step up from thinking) or even contemplating (exponentially increased thinking).

First of all, I'm looking forward to the day when the holiday has an official song and specific decorations and activities--I know these things are superficial and yet they give a holiday a "yes, this is an official established holiday" feel. Apparently, red food is featured for Juneteenth, so I'd love to see red velvet cakes and strawberry soda at the front display of my local grocery store. It's past time for national traditions and observances.

(As a complete side note, I used to enjoy strawberry soda and vanilla ice cream floats with my grandfather and now I want one.)

Second of all, I'm thinking about the meaning of "systemic" racism and why so many people bristle at the term and insist that America is no longer racist and everyone is born with the same chance at success and if anything, black people get more advantages because of Equal Opportunity laws and quotas and so forth.

I don't consider myself a scholar on the subject, I'm only an observer of what happens around me, and I see it (like everyone else) through the lens of my own experiences. Here's what I have experienced:

My parents were racially biased. They weren't white supremacists, they just discounted the abilities of black people. My mother was fond of saying, "It's not their fault, they can't help the way they are." So when I married Dale, they had opinions about my mixed-race marriage. But I know these people and know that they would not have had the same opinions if I had married an Asian man, or Hispanic, or Indigenous. That would have been seen as exotic and exotic is always welcomed.

At the time, I brushed it off as being hypocritical and didn't give it much more thought. We already had a contentious relationship and I had stopped looking for their approval. But lately I'm asking why? Why was a Japanese spouse okay and a black spouse not? If it was about race, why wasn't it about all races?

I think I know the answer: because historically black people were slaves and even though they were freed, it didn't alter the fact that they had been treated as less than human. Even though my parents were not alive during the Civil War, even though slavery was no more than words in history books, the idea persisted. Black people were property and property does not think or dream or feel, and "they can't help it."

Once I start going down this path, I begin thinking in bigger and broader terms about our various societal systems. Systemic means "fundamental to a predominant social, economic, or political system." The most important thing about it is that it's so ingrained in a society that no one recognizes it. My parents would never have seen the historical footprint in their biases. 

Think about Wall Street. The people who started businesses and built corporations and took them to the stock market originally were white European men, speaking English, playing golf, wearing structured suits and ties. Women breaking into that world had to wear structured skirt suits to be taken seriously (and forget golf--even when they could get into the country club, they have to hit from the women's tee). Men (and women) of color had to abandon the formal wear of their countries and put on suits, play our games, speak our language. We don't even think about this, we just accept that this is the uniform for doing business.

What else did we inherit from the patriarchy that we don't need anymore?

All because Juneteenth made me think and noodle and contemplate. I guess that's how I observed the holiday today.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

A brief interlude and long post while I try to catch up

 Hi, there! Long time no post, eh?

My apologies. For being enormously busy, I've felt like there wasn't much for me to talk about, until now. So let's get down to it...what's happening?

This Saturday, I'm having a Very Peri Sale online. That's right, my Peri Minneopa Mysteries are on sale. The first book in the series, Freezer Burn, is yours to grab for free. The other four books (yes, ALL FOUR) are 99 cents apiece. Five books for $3.96! I'm pretty sure you can't order anything from Starbucks for under $4, unless it's a coffee, plain and tall.

But that's not all in the online world...

I'm performing an experiment with IngramSpark. I'm packaging all of the Dragon Shadows Trilogy as one e-book, PLUS adding a bonus short story with it, for $7.99. I know what you're thinking. Those books are currently 99 cents on Amazon for Kindle. Why would anyone pay almost $8 for all three, even if there is an exclusive short story included?

I'm going to tell you a secret: I'm planning to raise the Amazon prices. That 99-cent-deal was to try to hook as many readers and get as many online "deals of the day" as I could. Now it's time to up the price and charge what they're worth.

The plan is to release the trilogy on May 16, but we'll see if I get the short story completed.

Here in the physical realm, things are happening, too.

On Friday, May 19th, I will be the breakfast speaker at the California Federation of Women's Clubs Convention, being held at the Doubletree by Hilton by the OC Airport. I'm honing my speech (in my head) every 20 minutes or so. I hardly ever speak from notes--I find that even when I write them all out, I don't look down at them.

Once I am finished speaking and selling books, I hop in my car, pick up my horse trainer and drive to Scottsdale, AZ where I compete at the AQHA Level 1 West Championships. Dhani will already be there. We get there on Friday, ride Saturday, drive home on Sunday. This gives me about a half-a-day to prepare my house for my guests to arrive and spend a week going to Disneyland. They will be here from Monday until Saturday, where the hubby will take them to the airport because I'll be...

In Yorba Linda, at the Expressions event. Music, a food truck, and vendors--and I'm the only author. I usually sell anywhere from 12 to 24 books in this 4-hour block of time. Why do you need to buy your paperback directly from me? Because I discount it and autograph it. There, you have no more arguments.

But I'm not done. In June, I'm at the Placentia Shop Small Boutique at the Placentia Round Table Women's Club. I did this event in December, had a lot of fun, and sold a lot of books. I'm looking forward to it!

If all that sounds busy, it is. I have lists of lists, to check off what to do on what day to keep me organized for each thing. In the meantime, there's been one extra item added to my calendar:

I have to get a biopsy.

I've had dots in my left breast for a couple of years now. The doctors monitor them every 6 months. At my last mammogram, the tech said if they still haven't grown, I can go back to yearly mammograms. She left the room to consult with the radiologist.

You know it's not good when the radiologist follows her back into your exam room. My dots had grown.

There's a large probability that they are benign. If they are not, there's a 99.99% probability that it's completely curable. I'm currently waiting for them to call and schedule the biopsy which doesn't sound like fun but they promise me will be "almost" painless. I do wish one of the shots they'll give me is bourbon. I feel like I have Schrodinger's breast. Until the biopsy is done and results are in, I have cancer and I don't have cancer. No one ever asked the cat how he liked being in that box, but I know how he feels.

I wasn't going to mention the whole biopsy thing at all, but you're going to hear about it one way or another, as in, "Whew, I dodged a bullet," or "Hey, could you just take a deep breath with me and tell me it's all okay." I might as well let you know that if you're talking to me and I look distracted, I might be picturing myself in a box with a cat.

At the moment, I can't worry about it. I got too much to do.

If you're in the area, come by and see me at my booth. If you're far away, do check out my online happenings. And take good care of yourself.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

A brief diversion on writing

 I was oh-so-honored recently to be one of the guest speakers at the Southern California Writers Conference, held over President's Day weekend in San Diego. I did my best to interest and inspire the crowd, and they seemed to like me.


In the Q&A portion of the program, my buddy Rick Ochocki asked about my writing style/voice, saying that within the many genres I've written, my voice seems different for each one. It's true--my humor books are light and conversational, my mysteries are more excited and driving, and Rick pointed out that my fantasy trilogy is sensual in style.

I thought I was writing in the dreamy style of the fairy tales of my youth, but sure.

My answer was that I read across genres, and I learn to recognize and incorporate the style of whatever genre I am writing.

But I started to look at what Rick called "sensual writing," and here's what I believe: when I write any kind of romantic/dreamy book or scene, I'm looking at tension. Many people are hooked into a story when there is tension of any kind, from the tension building in a chase scene to the tension building between two people as they fall in love. Or at least in lust. 

The best tension in the world is that moment, that breath, before the next thing happens. The lovers are so close, they can feel each other's heartbeat--you know they will kiss. The hero raises the bomb's wire to cut--is it the right one?--you know it will be. The moment is a microsecond.

Imagine your favorite food. You raise the fork to your mouth. The aroma fills your olfactory sense. The fork full of lobster/chocolate/etc. touches your tongue lightly, barely brushing your tastebuds. You know how it will taste, but this small slice of time divides your life into before and after. Before you experienced deliciousness and after you indulged in it.


And it is only a microsecond, a breath, half a heartbeat. You can't hold the fork up without biting down eventually. You can't make that moment last.

That's what I try to write, from that breath to the next. I'm not interested in the mechanics of bodies, and I'm too clinical to enjoy flowery euphemisms. I want to know how each character feels in that moment before they indulge...in anything.

So, Rick, that's a more complete answer. Hope it helps.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Just one week

 This is the end of a long road. Who knew that I'd be telling one story across three books, for three hundred thousand words? Give me just a moment to say, "I'm amazed."

Join me next Friday for the release! In the meantime, pre-order your copy here:


Sunday, January 8, 2023

What's new, Pussycats?

Well, 2023, for one, right?

I'm hoping your new year has gotten off to a boffo start. If I use "boffo" enough, can I bring it back into fashion?

My fantasy trilogy, Dragon Shadows, is coming down the home stretch and I couldn't be more excited! You can pre-order your copy of the last book NEW DRAGON SOARING here:


Or you can wait until its release on Friday, February 10th and buy it then.

"But Gayle, I don't want to wait," you plead.

I know, and I aim to please. NEW DRAGON SOARING is complete and copies are on the way to my humble abode. Join with me in praying that they arrive by January 27th because on January 28th, I will be at the "Handmade with Love" festival presented by the Yorba Linda Arts Alliance Foundation from noon to 4 pm at the Yorba Linda Town Center.

Here's the flyer:

If you're local (or local enough) I hope to see you there!

If, for some insane reason, you haven't gotten 'round to getting the first two books, here are those links (or contact me to get your own autographed copies):



Otherwise, my next adventure will be in February at the Southern California Writers Conference in San Diego, where I shall have more copies available.

Life is delicious, Peeps. Savor it.

Proud Member of ALA!

I support fair and equitable library access to ebooks and so should you.