My Writing Soundtracks

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Music can influence us in so many ways, can’t it? It sets the mood around us wherever we are, like restaurants and gyms, playing soft and romantic for eating or rhythmic and robust to get our blood pumping. It makes us remember certain eras and events like proms or graduations. It can make us excited or bring us to tears, reminding us of the specific times we’ve shared with people. Whatever the situation, music is in our lives whether we want it to be or not.

All kinds of music have been in my life from the moment my mother first held me in her arms.  I began singing  and performing on stage at a very young age. I’ve always loved music and I even had my first record player at age four, a Fisher Price one that I played kid records. I loved that thing and there wasn’t a time where I couldn’t be found dancing all around my room or jumping on my bed to Disney songs or The Sound of Music. Even as my sisters and I grew, music was always playing at our house. My dad would set a soundtrack for dinner every night as we sat at the dining room table. It was always some soft, melodic tape or later CD, like Phil Driscoll or Kenny G. My mother would play her favorites while she cooked, cleaned or created her artwork. We listened to everything from Neil Diamond and Kenny Rogers to Gladys Knight and the Pips and Debby Boone. And Christian artists like Sandi Patty, Carmen, the Gaithers and Amy Grant. The classics were a big part of our life too. My mother was a show singer in madrigals  so we knew all the operas and musicals as well.

Music fits into my professional life as well. Being that I write historical fictions, one of the first things I do when I start creating a story is build a playlist of music from that era and play it while I’m writing.  In the case of Beneath the Wall, I play songs from the 1960s, especially the more Vietnam era musicians like Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Lynyrd Skynyrd & Buffalo Springfield. imagesOne song in particular, For What Its Worth, played continuous while I was writing scenes where the troops were stalking through the jungle or patrolling the territory. For some reason that song really helped me feel those kinds of scenes. The bass drum set the tempo like footfalls on a march. The high pitch sounds of the wavy guitar being plucked creates a really hot, irritating atmosphere as if being surrounded by heat and humidity. Add in the lyrics and it’s telling a story about a soldier being scared and paranoia all around. I just love it. It sets a such a mood. I’d turn it way up and just live in the jungles of Vietnam with the Marines surrounding me. In fact, as I was writing this blog, I had on Maroon 5, an easy playlist to have as white noise, but I was getting no where until I switched over to Buffalo Springfield’s song and once again I could go to the place my mind needed to be to describe that song for you.

Same with The Blue Lute, there are two eras represented in this story, 2001 and 1928. I jumped around from songs I listened to in college to old jazz songs. But when Part II of the Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 4.52.28 PMbook up to write, I needed a feel of both of the eras mixed together. (Don’t worry, I won’t give it away). So I found this wonderful album by Christina Aguilera.  It was called Back to Basics and in it Christina mixes the more modern sound of music with the horns, a plucked stand-up bass, and muted microphone  of the 1920s. If you haven’t heard it already it sounds a lot like the kind of smoldering music one would have heard at a sultry lounge club. Oh I loved it! Save Me From Myself is one of the best songs that captures this dual era feel.

1974_when_music_was_good_t_shirt-r919f976045244dd8bf271c68c4940fcd_8041a_324The other day I had just passed a significant era change in my newest work-in-progress Separated Souls – the 1970s and what was the first thing I did… download a whole bunch of 70s music to it’s own playlist. I have the Carpenters, Simon & Garfunkel, Neil Diamond, Diana Ross, James Taylor, Eric Clapton, Abba, Billy Joel, The Bee Gees and Captain & Tennille. In all honesty, this isn’t my favorite era for music, but we’ll see what song comes to the surface as I write about the story of Maggie Charles and Sam Phillips.

For authors and readers a like… I’m sure you also have some musical accompaniment to your writing or reading… what are some of your musical influences that effect your work?

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THANK YOU!

With the release of my new book baby, I have some very special people to thank for making The Blue Lute possible.

Author Christina Tetreault

Author Christina Tetreault

First and foremost, to my accidental cousin, Christina Tetreault, this book was a beast a year ago, topping out at 180,000 words. For the non-author people reading, that’s about 800 pages. It had a full recounting of Brandon’s first day in 1999, as well as a whole subplot that isn’t in the new version at all. Christina took time away from her own books and family to read through and help me cut it down to about 120,000 words. Without her I wouldn’t have been able to tame the beast. I am eternally grateful. It was a task that I didn’t think was possible but she helped make it possible!

Author Magan Vernon

Author Magan Vernon

HS-logoMoving on to a dear friend of mine, Magan Vernon, who also helped me with word cutting and a lot of the 2001 student dialogue. Apparently, guys don’t say things like: I heard that test on the Civil War is going to be a doozy.  Yeah, I have an old mind. Thanks Magan for adding youth to my Matthew McGraw! I’d also like to thank, Kate Larkin who assisted in a line by line correction of my lovely confusion of past and present tense among other things. Heck, all the ladies (and one gentleman) at the Central Illinois Chapter of the Romance Writers of America have helped me in so many ways, it’s impossible to not give you all credit. You guys are the best!

Frank Taylor age 3 playing his guitar

Frank Taylor age 3 playing his guitar.

Frank Taylor age &# w/his guitar.

Frank Taylor age &# w/his guitar.

Now, I always mention my best friend in the whole world, Dawn Taylor, for getting me started in fiction writing, but for The Blue Lute, it was her husband, Frank Taylor,that gave me the vast knowledge of being a musician. In fact, I even got lessons from Frank after I bought my very own acoustic guitar to help me write about Brandon’s career and love of music. Frank, you are just awesome – have I told you that?

Corey Calise & Matthew Edel

Corey Calise & Matthew Edel

And speaking of husbands my sister’s husband Corey and his best friend Matthew were also a terrific source of knowledge on growing up in New York. Corey grew up in Staten Island and just listening to his thick S.I. accent brought the story alive. Matthew,on the other hand, who works and resides in the city taught me all the ins and outs about the subway system, and what bridges and routes to take at the best times. The only thing that would’ve been a better source about New York would’ve been me actually going there, which I couldn’t, so thank you!

The Reynolds - Matthew & Christina

The Reynolds – Matthew & Christina

Another husband and another Matthew (there are 3 Matthews who were involved in the creation of The Blue Lute and funnily enough, none of them are the reason I named my character Matthew), Matthew Reynolds, my friend Christina’s love, I know you don’t know this, but you are the image of my Matthew McGraw. So thank you for the mannerism and look of my fun-loving character. Christina, thank you for the very early help on the book too. Your influence is deep within the basis of The Blue Lute.

Grammar Guru, Mandi Miller

Grammar Guru, Mandi Mille

You were there from the very beginning along with my Grammar Guru Mandi Miller. Thank you for always being there when I need you, helping me through those tricky sentences. Those early days mean just as much, if not more to me than the final days.

Mary Hart Cousin & Fellow Nerdian.

Mary Hart Cousin & Fellow Nerdian.

To my other cousin, sweet Mary Hart… thank you for walking me through time travel and all it’s problems when they got too twisted up in my mind. Seriously, I think you may be my only friend/cousin who would understand stuff like that.  It must have been all those years watching movies and tv like Dr. Who, Back to the Future, Star Trek and Frequency.

 

 

Do you know how cool Kerry McQuisten is… knowing that I am such an American Patriot and that The Blue Lute was dedicated to the men and women who were victims of 9/11, my dear publisher made it possible for The Blue Lute‘s publication birthday to be none other than September 11th.  Screen Shot 2013-09-14 at 10.10.07 AM I teared up at the sight of that date on Amazon. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I am so grateful to have had you with me through this journey! Thank you for giving me my dreams come true!

 

 

 

 

I also have some awesome friends & fans that without them none of my books would have gone as far as they have.  Graeme Sewell, Shawn Nordhoff, Lucy Wright, Katherine Logan Lowry, Sydney Jamesson, MJ Schiller, Laurie Larsen, Leanna Furlong, Kari Martin, Maryon Shaw, and so so so many more!! You are all so wonderful and whether I’ve met you in person or just through social media – you are a friend for life!

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Well, I could go on and on and on with all the people I want to thank, but I have to curb myself some how, so let’s imagine the Oscar orchestra has started playing their music…

Last but not least, thank you to my family for all their love and support with all my books! Bean, Bits, Kelli, Shawn, Tyler, Liam, Kristin, Corey, Macci, Pook, Jim and Sharon – I love you so much!

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And finally to my little family of Jon and Cameron: My boys, my loves, my heart…I couldn’t have done ANY of this without you. Thank you for your the support of my dream and the tolerance of my work at all hours of the day and night. Thank you for loving me and dealing with a cluttered house and cereal nights those times I have been stuck on the computer. One of these days I’ll take a break… but tell that to my brain, because I still have a million ideas!

Kicking off THE BLUE LUTE BLOG TOUR

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LINKS TO THE BLOG TOUR:

Simply click the blog title and it will link to the corresponding blog.

Blame it on the Muse – 9/13

Novelist Eryn LaPlant – 9/14

USA Today~ Happy Ever After – 9/15

Christina Tetreault’s Happily Ever After – 9/15

** Big Raffle – Enter to WIN a Blue Lute Gift Package **

Babbling About Books, and More! – 9/16

Aloha S.O.S – 9/17

** Stop by with a comment and WIN a chance at a FREE Ebook! **

Reading by the Book – 9/18

** Stop by with a comment & WIN a chance at a FREE Ebook! **

Candy Coated Book Blog – 9/19

** Stop by with a comment & WIN a chance at a FREE Ebook & Some Blue Lute Swag **

MJ Schiller’s Blog – 9/20

Love Romance Passion – 9/23

The Positive Side of 9/11

Once again time has rolled around to this horrific day in history, September 11th. Every year since it happened I get sad and anxious all over again, thinking of the events that occurred twelve years ago. Some years I’ve simply cried all day, some years I’ve retreated to a private solace, and some years I’ve become panicked at the memories. This year I want to do something different. Something I haven’t tried before… I want to be happy.

I know that sounds strange and maybe even irreverent, but there are some good things that came from this awful day. Not many, but maybe thinking on these positive actions can displace the sadness and anxiety that is associated with this date.

This came to me this morning as I laid in bed, and turned on Facebook. My good friend Aimee Moore’s status was the first thing I saw.  It read: “Let’s Roll.”  “Let’s Roll,” the battle cry of Tom Beamer on Flight 93, as he and a bunch of other passengers aboard a doomed flight, charged the terrorists, sending the airplane into a field in Pennsylvania instead of the White House. “Let’s Roll,” was probably the most courageous and valiant story that came from the attacks. Our heroes beat the bad guys. Yes, we lost lives, and yes, it was tragic, but it was the first positive response we’d heard that day. And reading that made me think, you know, there are plenty of positive things that came from 9/11 happening that we couldn’t see at the time, because we were so wrought with grief.

In a world of the Internet and email (remember social media wasn’t quite born yet) we were already becoming a more withdrawn society. We had news at our fingertips and communication with others instantaneously thanks to cellphones and email. Who needed to see each other when you could just pick up a phone or send an email and talk to someone from the comfort of your home? September 11th brought people together. Families left work to be with their loved ones, co-workers leaned on each other in tears, and neighbors, who were strangers, sought peace in one another. We were united as one against the people who hurt our nation.

Along with that it brought a renewed appreciation for law enforcement, the fire department, and the military. Suddenly, the cops weren’t just people keeping the peace or there to pull you over for a speeding ticket. Firemen weren’t just pulling kittens out of trees and dousing run-away kitchen fires. The military weren’t just over seas running drills and guarding us from far away. No, the police and firemen worked together in New York and D.C., pulling people out of the burning buildings, leading the ones who couldn’t see away, and worked tirelessly day after day recovering the victims, so their families could rest their weary souls. As for the military, what didn’t these men and women do? They were immediately called to arms, protecting our borders and flying our flags high, ready to fight. I was in California at the time, right next to Miramar – the Marine Corp Air Station, and the second the news broke that it was a terrorist attack, I heard those jets scramble. I felt safe knowing these guys had our back, front and sides!

Last, but not least, it brought Patriotism back to a nation that was pretty blasé about their country. Flags were flown, country songs became anthems, and the Star Spangled Banner became a song that was no longer just something we sang at sporting events. We united as a nation and showed our pride against a sect of terrorist who thought they could scare us and break down our resolve.

Finally, for many it brought God back into the everyday. Our president asked us to pray for our country and we did. We turned to our churches or religious leaders for advice and comfort. We didn’t just go to church to hear a sermon of hellfire and brimstone. We already had that brewing outside. We went to church for encouragement from God and allowed Him to work in our lives so we could heal from this oozing gash. He moved in people, and little by little we came through.

So in conclusion, yes, it was an awful day. We saw people die, buildings fall and explosions in places we never thought possible. We will never ever forget this kick in the gut, but maybe we can at least try and see what good came from it.

A nation united, a small town celebrates. Plano, Illinois

A nation united, a small town celebrates.
Plano, Illinois

 

 

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