Category: music

Review, Interview and Florence and the Machine

There’s a few things I want to point out today.

1-Kristin, over at My Bookish Ways, gave an awesome 4/5 hat review for Intervamption. I’ll be guest blogging for a paranormal/urban fantasy event on the site in late August or early September. I’ll keep you posted on the deets as I get ’em.

2-I did an interview for Kaitlyn at Nocturnal Readings. If you’re interested in the inspiration for Intervamption or which character is my favorite, that’s the blog to visit.

3-I’m blogging over at Pensfatales Friday, tomorrow, August 5th. The post topic is “SEXY” and it was oh-so-much-fun to write!

4-Florence and the Machine is totally bad ass…in case you didn’t know already. I found the video below on youtube last night, as I was reeling through songs to listen to while I write Vampires of Crimson Bay #3. It’s obviously not an official video and because of that, I’m not sure how long it’ll last on my page before it’s pulled. If you get to view it, count yourself lucky. It’s true artistry. No Lady Gaga theatrics. No KISS pyrotechnics. No Beiber side-swiped hair. Just a voice that can shiver you to your toes.

(Edited to add: you have to click the black screen to cue video.)

And just in case that one doesn’t last long, here’s another.

Wow. Just wow.

A Writing Sunday with Ray, Jude and Willie

I’m gearing up to start Book 3 in the Crimson Bay Series. Ray LaMontagne (a new find for me), Jude (a long-time favorite) and Willie Nelson (who doesn’t love him?) are really helping me out as I finish up some minor plotting details. Combine the three songs–Hold You in My Arms, I Know, Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground–and you may have an idea as to the concept of Book 3…

Now excuse me while I open up my blank word doc and rotate these three songs to get me goin’. Happy Rainy, Inspirational Sunday to You.

Lady Gaga’s Born This Way and Madonna’s Express Yourself

Madonna’s Express Yourself has always been one of my favorite videos. I’m talking all-time, folks. The ripped men (something about a grease-monkey…*sigh*). The pouring rain (the men are wet the whole time for crying out loud). The brilliant imagery (from the cat to the gears to the boxing match, I could go on and on…). Madonna’s gawgeous outfits (though she was mostly half-covered in satin sheets {they’re very romantic, but what happens when you’re not in bed-Ha!}). Her rough and tough, manly yet feminine dancing on top of those stairs. The message. Awesome. Take a gander and slip back into the 90’s:

Doesn’t that just take you back? When videos were seductive without being slutty. (Enrique Iglesias, I’m lookin’ at you and your “Tonight I’m F ‘kin You” garbage.) I’m sure it didn’t take me posting a youtube video for you to remember one of Madonna’s top songs. You probably recently heard Lady Gaga on the radio and thought Born This Way sounded mighty familiar. Have a listen (it’s the chorus that strikes me most):

Even PopEater and the Washington Post caught the similarities between the melodies.

I’m not a bitter fan. I don’t think Lady Gaga stole the song. The lyrics are different. The music is too. This is nothing like Vanilla Ice stealing “Under Pressure”‘s beats from Queen. (Minus adding the little “da da da da-da-da dum”. Gimme a break.) I simply think she was inspired by Madonna’s song and structured her tune around what made that one great.

Don’t we all do things like this as artists and writers? Don’t we study others’ work, discovering what made them “work” and apply it to our own masterpieces? I know when I read I keep a pen and paper handy. I don’t write verbatim. Ever. I don’t even write specifics that strike me as being great (Like, THAT WAS A GREAT LINE. I may think that, but that line is “his/her” line. Not mine. Much like Madonna’s song is Madonna’s and not Lady Gaga’s.) But when I’m reading a novel and, say, start reading fast, I make myself stop. Flip back through the last few pages. Re-read. Focus on WHY my speed increased. Did the sentences become choppy? Was it action-packed? Was there an increasing amount of tension in the dialogue? Likewise, when I get butterflies, I write down what happened. Not exactly, of course. I pause, go back, and figure out when the relationship between the hero and heroine changed into something I was feeling rather than reading. Sometimes the masterful things that happen are so subtle, if you keep reading, enjoying the pacing and story, you lose how the author accomplished the feat of pulling you hook-line-and-sinker into the story.

(Keep in mind I haven’t been able to read the same since I started writing. YES some of the enjoyment is taken out…but dissecting story structure and writing dynamic has ALWAYS been one of my greatest interests. It was one of my strengths teaching English, I think. And, I hope, what will make my work eventually bash into shape.)

What do you think? Do you think Express Yourself and Born This Way are the same? Did Lady Gaga rip-off Madonna’s melody? Did she make it her own?

How do you study craft? Do you dissect what works, like I do, and then apply it to your own writing? Or do you simply write what strikes you and To Hell with how everyone else is doing what?

Sights for Sore Eyes *Part One*

After slamming a gazillion words into my WIP the last few weeks (okay not a gazillion, but geez, it felt like it) I realized I couldn’t see straight. So I took a trip up to Jackson, a quiet old-fashioned town nestled in the Sierra Nevada’s, where the air smelled like pine and snow and Christmas and I let all my Nano worries fall to the mountain floor.

I found the 1897 Train Station up there, which still runs train rides during the day and a few Santa filled ones at night. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of my train, but I did manage to snap a pic of the steam train from the Back to the Future III film.

It makes its home there along with a few other steamers that are just too cool not to ghost your hands along. The three mile long trip snaked through mountain passes, between towering pines and chugged along open valley flats. The views were so beautiful…

There was even a violinist on board, serenading the passengers. He was AWESOME.

He swore he could play any Christmas song requested from memory with either his violin, the banjo strapped to his back or the harmonica in his pocket. I rattled off a few tunes, trying to get him to trip up, but he knew them all. Let me tell you, he Rocked the train and Made the trip. I wish I’d gotten video of him playing on the train, but when I got home I youtube’d him and found this:

*If you have a few minutes and appreciate blue grass, give it a look. In between the random talk, there’s bouts of musical genius.

On the way back, I wandered around the train grounds a little…okay a lot…and found this sun-kissed spot…

I wish I’d brought my notebook or a better camera. This was taken with my phone and did not do nature justice. It was a beautifully chill night with the promise of snow in the air. Frosted grass crunched beneath my feet. The water was still, the thoughts flowing. But I had to move on. It was too damn cold to stay for long.

After leaving Jamestown I headed east and dropped down into Sonora. I stopped at Dorthea’s Christmas Shoppe, a quaint little place just outside of town. Dorthea’s has the most unique Christmas decorations EVER. You know, the handmade ones you can’t find at Target or Walmart or any other big chain. I get a few ornaments there every year so that no two ornaments on our tree are the same. Makes for interesting Christmas Day talk about who likes which best, what year we bought it, how old the kids were, etc, etc. Here’s the two I bought this year:

*Once again, the pictures don’t do them justice. They’ll sparkle right up with the Christmas lights.

On my way out of town, trying to beat the sunset, I saw this…

…and had to stop to take it all in. That tree is as red as the church.


I Don’t Belong Here

If you’ve noticed the title from my blog post matches the first Pink song playing on the MixPod below. It’s also the perfect theme song for my WIP, if ever there was one.

So today I’m going to answer the question, “Do you listen to music as you write?”

I wish I could say I stick to one routine. Maybe I’d be more inspirational that way. Instead all I have is the wishy-washy truth. I listen to music when the words are flowing. When the dialogue is snappy and easy and riveting and the plot pieces fall into place like a giant, well-laid-out puzzle board. When the writing is difficult, when I need to focus on something to make sure it comes across in just the right way, the music goes off and the headphones come on (to drown out any and all outside noise).

I honestly will listen to the MixPod playlist every day. Every. Single. Day. When I get to a part where the writing becomes labored I switch it up or turn it off. For the 3 manuscripts I’ve written (can’t believe it’s been that many in a little over a year), a song seems to stand out, emerging through the others, speaking to me and the developing story.

For Nine Days in Joliet, my contemporary romance (the unpublishable one), I listened to WinterSong by Ingrid Michaelson over and over again. I’m talking thousands of times on repeat. Looking back, it made perfect sense for the story I was writing. WinterSong became my muse.

For Dark Tide Rising, I mostly listened to Starlight by Muse. I’m sitting here trying to remember the lyrics to see if they plug into the story, but I honestly can’t remember. I think it was the tempo and beat that had me going, not so much the words. Odd, but it worked.

For my WIP, the song of the manuscript is I Don’t Belong Here by Pink, hands down. I’d never heard the song before a few days ago. I was trying to find something else to link up in the MixPod and sampled the first few seconds of the song. It only took a single line for me to add it. Since then it’s on my computer all day. Yeah, I’m a little hooked.

*Side note: Have you ever met those people who eat the same thing day in and day out for, like, years? They’re content to eat some bland dish like it’s the greatest tasting thing on the planet until one day they just tire of their choice and switch for no apparent reason. Yeah. That’s me. I think I’ve eaten a granola bar for breakfast every morning since college. (We’re talking 8 years, people.)

Anyway, the lyrics just seem to fit right, leading me in the right direction without having a tug of war over where my logical brain wants the story to go versus where It wants to go.

If you listen very carefully to the words of the song you might be able to find out the premise for my book–the black moment. Humor me for a minute: I think everyone’s been denied, broken up with, rejected, etc, at some point in their life. (If you haven’t, lucky lucky you. The rest of us are silently plotting your demise.) It sucks to hear someone say they don’t want to be with you anymore; that they can’t be with you for whatever reason. What if you knew in your gut they were acting in what they thought were your best interests? Wouldn’t that knowledge hurt more than a normal breakup? Because not only are you still being denied, broken up with, rejected, etc, you’re actually having the most important choice of your life taken from you–the choice of who to love.

When Pink sings “I don’t believe you when you say you don’t need me anymore, so don’t pretend to not love me at all” my heroine knows EXACTLY what she’s singin’ about. The complete lyrics are here.

So YES I’m listening to music as I write. Right now. What are you listening to?

I rock!

We got Rock Band for Christmas. Did I mention that? Christmas morning was the first time I’d ever played that type of game at all. Guitar Hero never looked fun to me. Music School (or whatever it was called) sounded lame. But I was persuaded to give the drums from Rock Band a shot.

And let me tell you…I rock!

I am more than disappointed that there are no Blink songs to play. Whose wise idea was it to create a drumming game and leave out songs featuring one of the most brilliant drummers of all time? Not too clever. Anyway, I found a song by Blink’s lead singer and if I try not to listen too closely I can pretend Travis Barker is on stage rockin’ out. It’ll do for now.

My baton twirling experience has come in handy the last three weeks I’ve been playing. As I’ve gotten better, I can twirl the drumsticks between my fingers in between beats. Yeah, it’s pretty sweet.

Now if I could only get the head bang down.

If you’ve got three minutes to spare, you need to watch Travis Barker do a solo. Gives me chills. INSANE.