A Music Flood

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First, I’d like to apologize to my followers on Twitter. I fan-girled a bit too hard last weekend, so everything on my feed probably made no sense unless you watch Shadowhunters. Things should normalize now that the winter finale has aired! However, I did realize Twitter is a lot more fun than I remember. I may have to play there a bit more as I piece together my haiku chapbook.

I digress. While in the process of fangirling, I’m continuing to discover new music as I branch out from the artists that revitalized my iPod a few weeks ago (see Music Drought Averted). It’s amazing what new music can do for the muse. I’m feeling a fresh wave of creativity, despite complete exhaustion caused by the day job.

Here are a few of my newfound favorites:

Artist: Kina Grannis

One song and I was hooked! I found this artist through one of the actors on Shadowhunters, (see, fangirling can be productive). She does a lot of acoustic covers of popular songs, but she also releases original music. Her voice is angelic and I love her sound.

This is the song that got me:

I visited her youtube channel and found she truly is a gem. I downloaded her album, Elements, but you can stream the entire thing through youtube – Just click on her name: Kina Grannis. Give it a listen – you won’t be sorry! I highly recommend exploring her channel as it is packed with some amazing music.

Artist: Talos

  • In Time

This song is as beautiful as it is haunting. Be forewarned, it digs right into the soul. There is a NSFW word in the lyrics, so you know … earbuds.

Artist: LEISURE

  • Got It Bad

I just love the funk factor of this song. My foot just starts tapping and I wish I had enough cool in me to sing along.

Artist: Sundara Karma

  • Indigo Puff

There are two versions of this song floating around. The original has a bit more funk, which I love, while the LAYLA remix is a little more pop infused. I love both for different reasons, but the lyrics are what pull me in the most.

Original Version:

LAYLA Remix:

Artist: Tiny Deaths

  • Ever

This song has such a nice vibe. It’s a little more pop than I usually go for, but it makes me smile every time I hear it.

The more I go exploring, the more I seem to find! I may have started with the threat of a music drought, but now it’s more a of a flood. I love how one artist leads to another if you’re willing to follow the trail and have an open mind. 🙂

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c.b.w. 2017

Music Drought Averted

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The last few months have been quiet for my iPod. I was so bored with my music collection, it just sat unused in my work bag. This is weird for me, because I usually have a soundtrack for everything. Whether its for writing poetry or grading papers, I have a playlist for it!

However, even the best playlist can grow old without a fresh infusion of music. It’s been a while since any of my favorite artists have released new music and I haven’t really heard anything good on the radio. It’s all the same stuff!

Then, as luck would have it, I started watching Shadowhunters on Freeform. I’m a die hard fan of the book series, The Mortal Instruments (by Cassandra Clare), so when I found out there was a television series based on the books, I was all over it. Not only do I love the show, but I started to notice it has a great soundtrack.

Thanks to the magic of the online fangirl community, I was able to track down a number of my favorite songs from Shadowhunters. It’s amazing what just a few new songs can do for a music drought.

Here’s a selection of what I’ve dug up so far …

Artist: Ruelle

  • This is the Hunt
  • Monsters
  • Where Do We Go From Here
  • War of Hearts
  • Storm

This artist is my favorite find. I’m busy exploring all of her albums and I’m continually blown away. Her music can be both ethereal and hard hitting, but the lyrics are quite poetic.

Artist: Metanoia

  • Faux Tales

This is a really cool piece of electronica. There may not be any lyrics, but it is intensely moving. Rather than stir excitement on the dance floor, it invites contemplation of deeper emotions. Plus, it’s attached to one of my favorite characters on the show.

Artist: Majik

  • Save Me

A great little indie song that stirs all the “feels” and pitfalls of love. As I write this, it’s on repeat on my iPod. I’m thinking of adding it to my playlist for my current novel project.

Artist: Allman Brown

  • Between the Wars

A stirring song that brings another round of “feels,” but in a different way from Save Me. It’s all about wanting to stay safely ensconced in love, when everything seems to be falling apart. Deeply melancholic, with an incredibly beautiful melody.

Artist: Dream Folk (Extreme Music)

  • Light Comes Back

Another indie song that skirts the border between ethereal and folk. It’s an uplifting reminder that better days are just around the corner.

The more I dig into these artists, the more amazing new music I find! It’s such a simple thing, but music really does wake up my muse in all aspects of my life. Thank goodness, the music drought is officially over!

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Are you listening to anything good? Please share!

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c.b.w. 2017

Favorite Thing Friday: New Music on My Old iPod

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Somehow I got bored with music. Never mind that I have two iPods (don’t laugh) loaded with almost 4,000 songs. For months, I haven’t been able to get into any sort of music aside from a few tracks I added to The Muse’s sequel playlist.

Every once in a while I get in this funk and it’s hard to get out unless I find the time to do some major shopping or sit down to listen to samples or freebie streams. Winter Break gave me a chance to do that and I ended up finding some great new music to add to my Classic iPods (more on these dinosaurs later).

On the pop and rock end of things, these are some of my new favorites:

Ed Sheeran – X

Ed Sheeran – +

Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 1

The Script – No Sound Without Silence

One Republic – Native

So far, I’m digging every one of these albums, especially Ed Sheeran. I knew I liked him based on what I’ve heard on the radio, but I had no idea his albums were so good. There’s a song for every mood, yet they all string together beautifully. In particular, X explores a number of different styles without losing the common thread that connects every song.

Guardians of the Galaxy was hands down my favorite movie of 2014 (aside from Grand Budapest Hotel), so I was thrilled to get my hands on Awesome Mix Vol. 1. Part of what made that movie so great was how vintage music was integrated into the storyline and soundtrack. Even though I already had a couple of the songs in my collection, it was worth picking up this CD for the rest.

While loading my new music onto my old iPod, I poked around the iTunes Store and found even more goodies to add to my playlists.

For my BritFolk playlist, I found new-to-me music from one of my all time favorite artists, Johnny Flynn. A couple of years ago he composed the soundtrack for the indie movie, A Bag of Hammers. It wasn’t available for download until now! As expected it is all kinds of awesome.

For The Muse’s sequel playlist, I had jotted down the name of a song I heard on the radio and it dawned on me that I should look for it on iTunes. I found it and ended up liking the entire album. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness offers an interesting mix of modern pop with a throwback feel of the 80s. The song, Cecilia and the Satellite is helping me dig deeper into my main character as I set up his storyline.

While all of this new music is fun, I’m also reminiscing with my iPods. When Apple stopped selling the Classic iPod I think I had a small stroke. I’m not a fan of streaming or cloud storage when it comes to music, because I’m not always plugged into the internet. I like my music downloaded and accessible without being tethered to an internet or 4G connection.

Just the other day I pulled out my 5th Generation 2006 Classic iPod. I took it to work and my students snickered at it’s brick-like appearance until I showed them it’s 80GB storage capacity. Those snickers quickly turned to gasps of awe. Then, I showed them my 6th Generation 2008 Classic iPod. I thought their heads were going to explode when they saw it had 160 GB of storage space. Yeah, the screens are small and there’s no touch screen, but for me nothing beats having enough space to keep my stuff!

My new music plays beautifully on my antiquated iPods. The fact that they both still work perfectly after 9 and 7 years respectively, is pretty remarkable given the average life-span of electronics these days. All I can do is hope that Apple launches a new generation of something that is Classic iPod-esque.

Until then, I’ll be jamming to my new favorite music on both of my Classic iPods!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2015

Playlist For A Sequel

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As I wait to hear back on the query letters I’ve sent out for my novel, I’ve been keeping busy with another little project.  Over the last couple of months, I’ve been filling up another Novel Notebook with research, brainstorm blocks, image collages, sketches, research notes, and a playlist  for the sequel to Novel #2.

At the core of my writing process is music. The playlist for Novel #2 proved to be an immensely powerful tool in helping me shape characters and mood. Overall, 94 songs served as the soundtrack for the “movie” playing in my head from start to finish. As I embark on writing the sequel, I intend on using this tool once again to create a stronger emotional sense of my characters as they undertake new journeys and to aid me in creating an atmosphere that is a bit different from Novel #2.

Novel #2 is all about falling in love and fighting for what matters most in life. There is struggle, but also strength and determination. Therefore, the music on my playlist was often ethereal to reflect the nature of Ian’s identity, but also to emulate the euphoria of falling in love. In addition, songs with a strong beat and empowering lyrics dominated the latter portion of the novel to represent a fierce conflict that rages both internally and externally for my characters. Aside from storyline songs, the playlist also included music for individual characters. In particular The Beatles, Junip, and Death Cab for Cutie represented my main character, Amanda.

The sequel follows a different plotline in that it’s a step beyond the “origin” story for Amanda and Ian. They now find themselves in a new struggle that is defined by several factors:

  • Falling in love is great, but it’s not always easy
  • Confronting past “demons”
  • Once you have what you’ve always wanted, it isn’t what you imagined
  • Issues of identity

A new journey means new music, but there still has to be ties to the familiar in order to maintain continuity.  The mood is a little darker, but it’s not overwhelmingly heavy. As for my characters, they are experiencing growing pains, but they retain their core personalities. To make a playlist to accommodate these issues, I started by selecting songs on the old playlist that I consider to be overall theme songs. These are songs that will work for the entire series as they reflect Amanda and Ian’s bond and the big picture journey they are traveling.

For example, Firefly by Delerium is the ultimate song that inspires Amanda and Ian’s journey as a whole:

At the same time, I am selecting songs that are unique to the plot and character development of the sequel. To achieve continuity, I’m looking to the same bands for new music that has a familiar feel. Delerium was the central component of Novel #2’s playlist so I combed through all of their albums and found a perfect new mix. Additionally, the band Junip has since come out with a new album, which is great news for Amanda!

Here’s a selection of what I’ve got so far . . .

Delerium – Semantic Spaces

  • Flowers Become Screens
  • Metaphor
  • Resurrection
  • Incantation
  • Consensual Worlds
  • Metamorphasis
  • Flatlands

Delerium – Single Tracks

Junip – self titled

Tempted (Conjure One Mix) – Collide

The Beginning – Joey Fehrenbach

Kaleidescope of Memories – Simmonds and Jones

The Cedar Room – The Doves

Russia – Magna Carta

First Snow – Emancipator

The Daydream – Tycho

Once I get this playlist loaded on my iPod, my muse will have the juice it needs to start writing the first draft!

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For more posts on creating the perfect music mix, see The Daily Prompt: Mix Tape Masterpiece

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c.b.w. 2013

Give That Novel A Soundtrack!

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As a writer who relies on music to kickstart my muse, I am rather fascinated by a trend in Young Adult fiction whereby authors share a playlist for their novel.  This is absolutely brilliant as the audience for YA fiction is addicted to earbuds and personal music players.

I count myself among this pool of earbud addicts, mainly because when I read a book it plays like a movie inside my head. When I was younger, I would imagine music or pick songs to listen to while I read a book, all in an attempt to further immerse myself into a character’s mind or within the setting of a story.

Naturally, I relied on the same practice of turning to music when I began writing. Just like the books I read as a kid, both of my novels play like movies in my head. And yes, there is specifically chosen music for certain scenes. This process is nothing new in the writing world, but it is interesting to see writers making their playlists public.

The first time I came across an official novel soundtrack was when I read Twilight. Stephenie Meyer didn’t necessarily list the songs in the book itself, but she thanked specific bands in her acknowledgments and often spoke of specific songs that inspired scenes between Edward and Bella, (particularly the band Muse). Later, when The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide was published, Meyer released her playlists for every book in the series. Both the reader and writer in me devoured the music that pumped life into Twilight.

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A small portion of Stephenie Meyer’s playlist for Twilight.

For each song listed, Meyer went as far as quoting specific scenes from her novels. For those of us who have read Twilight more than once, this playlist gives us yet another reason to pick it up again.

More recently, I read Divergent by Veronica Roth. In the back of the book, she provides a playlist of songs and connects them to details in the story. After listening to a few of the songs, I gained a much deeper sense of the atmosphere and mood. Even though the writing was fantastic, an official playlist added a new dimension and gave me another way to enjoy the book.

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A peek at Veronica Roth’s playlist.

Some YA writers publish their playlists via the internet. For example, Becca Fitzpatrick created public playlists for all four books in her Hush, Hush series. She linked them through Spotify and will soon expand to iTunes. Her website even encourages readers to listen to fan-created playlists as they read.

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Click to visit Becca Fitzpatrick’s website.

Fitzpatrick’s strategy not only enhances the novel, but it builds a community among fans. More importantly she creates a strong connection between author and reader.

On the flip side, it can be argued that good writing shouldn’t need any “bells and whistles” to connect with readers. To this I say, the YA market is all about knowing your audience. This is a generation who can carry music with them wherever they go and they do. They listen to it at home, while walking to class, out in public, on the bus, etc. In a sense, the music gives them a world of their own.

For the YA reader, adding music to a book makes complete and total sense. A novel soundtrack gives them the ability to connect and relate to the characters and story on a personal level. Not only can they fully immerse themselves into the book, but it becomes part of their world. The music is what ties real life and fiction together.

From a fangirl perspective, having an official playlist for beloved characters allows the magic of the story to play over and over again. When it’s not possible to sit down with the book, a reader can revisit the characters and story whenever and wherever she pleases. It falls along the same lines as Twilight t-shirts or Hunger Games posters in that the young adult audience thrives on connections wherever they can find them. When writing a series, creating this kind of fanaticism is pure gold.

YA writers have a massive opportunity to create intense fervor for their books by offering another level of emotional investment. As I put the finishing touches on my YA novel, I’m leaving a little room on the last few pages to create a playlist that will give my readers the ultimate experience.

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c.b.w. 2013