Music Monday — Lenny Kravitz “Fly Away”

Before he was Cinna in The Hunger Games, Lenny Kravitz was an incredible rocker.  Actually, he’s still an incredible rocker, but some of you may only know him as an actor, and you really owe it to yourselves to get to know his music.

So, why is “Fly Away” this Monday’s song?

Well, because it’s always, always always, been a favorite of mine. And, I’ve always thought it’s the perfect song for Grace from Winging It!  She wants her wings for exactly this reason!

Also, I have to fly away today, making this post much shorter than normal.  I’m off to finish some work on a newsletter that’s about to go out to the folks on my mailing list.  If you haven’t signed up yet click here.   I absolutely will not spam you.  If I do things right, it’ll be about twice a year that I send an update on upcoming releases.

Even if you don’t want to clickety-click, you should make time to watch this video of  “Fly Away”.  The audio is not quite as good as the original, but it’s waaay cooler. Promise.

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November 5, 2012. Tags: , , , , , . music. Leave a comment.

Music Monday — Novel Pacing like The Beach Boys

Music Monday is back after a long hiatus and we’re going to go completely old school today circa 1966 or 67 with The Beach Boys.

As we quickly approach the end of summer, I thought it’d be nice to have one last hurrah. I’m fairly certain all of you have listened to the classic “Good Vibrations” at some point in your life. It’s catchy, upbeat, retro and perfect for summertime.

But how closely have you listened?

Because, it’s a much more complex song than it sounds on the surface, and in fact, that’s part of the genius of it.

I love the harmonies on this song—not only on the vocals, but also what is being done instrumentally.  It’s incredible the way Brian Wilson wove parts of this song together, which is what I aim for when writing. (I fall short, but aim for it, anyway.) While harmony could be a topic for its own post, I really want to talk about this song as a model for pacing.

“Good Vibrations” is a long song by the standards of the 1960s.  Three minutes was what musicians were supposed to shoot for and it’s over four, so it definitely broke some pre-conceived notion of what a song was supposed to be. Still, beyond its length, the the unusual way its paced is remarkable; sometimes happily upbeat, sometimes melancholy, sometimes building toward a climax.  After a quick listen I counted at least seven significant changes to pace and could probably argue for more if you include chorus or  transitions.  The ones I’m counting occur at 1:50, 2:18, 2:55, 3:09, 3:28, 3:46 and 4:00.

What’s amazing is that all of these distinctly different tunes blend into one practically perfect song.

If you look purely at timing, the changes occur at fairly regular intervals.  There are also two times where the song echoes the good vibrations rif  from the beginning:  it happens during the piece that begins at 2:18, and again at the piece that begins at 3:09. One thing is certain when you listen for pacing–the changes are not predictable.

When I think about trying to translate that kind of structure into writing, my brain feels like it might explode.

It’s not an exaggeration to say Brian Wilson is a genius. I think he took huge risks with this song, although we probably take them for granted because the song has become so familiar.

So, how does this help me or you—any writer or reader or music fan?  It helps me to think about looking at my novel holistically.  Can I take readers through a series of different emotions? Can I tell a story without it becoming too predictable? Can I look for places where an echo might unify things?

For readers or music fans I hope it provides some insight into the truly remarkable things that are possible when we create.

Now, I hope everyone enjoys this version of “Good Vibrations.”

September 17, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . music. Leave a comment.

Music Monday — Adele’s Someone Like You

I was absolutely thrilled to see Adele’s sweep of the Grammy’s last night for a couple reasons.

First, she’s a nice contrast to the antics of singers like Lady Gaga.  The lady admittedly has a lot of talent talent, but she actually distracts us from her music with whatever the the get-up du jour is.  Also, for me, Adele beats the pants off the electronica, auto-tuned sound that is so popular right now.  While it’s great for dancing, is it really music?  Does beat = music?  I’m not sure.

In the end, the main reason I’m happy for Adele’s success is that I love her soulful style of singing.  Chasing Pavements and Rolling in the Deep are beautiful songs, while this one, Someone Like You, gives me goosebumps every single time I listen to it.

It’s remarkable how she can reach our hearts with with one nuance; one note.  And, when I think about what I’d really like to do with my writing, it’d be to create those same kinds of goosebumps for my readers, even if it’s only one line in one book.  Now, that’d be success.

Bravo, Adele. This song, by any standard, is a success.

February 13, 2012. Tags: , , , , , . music. 2 comments.

Music Monday — A Great Big Pile of Leaves

My last post was too long and I’m kinda sleepy, so instead of rambling, here — just listen to these guys.  I really like their sound!

Later, Gator.

January 17, 2012. Tags: , . music. Leave a comment.

Cyber Music Monday — Talking Heads

This Monday post is under the wire since Cyber Monday was crazy busy.  And, this past weekend I got to play with a Kindle Fire, which is very, very cool.  Or very, very hot.

Whatever.  This is definitely the song for it.

November 29, 2011. Tags: , , , , . music, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Music Monday — Foo Fighters

This weekend my To Do list was outta control.  The blog tour, along with other newly-released-book stuff, along with NaNo, along with youth soccer, along with “Fall Cleaning”, which is the Florida version of “Spring Cleaning”, because we can finally open up our houses and air them out.

So, here are a few updates on the blog tour.  Last week I visited Ashley Paternostro’s La Bella Novella blog to yak a little about my foray into NaNoWriMo land.  Also, there were a few updates to the ongoing Ultimate YA Reading Group tumblr where I’m the Featured Author for November, namely some Fun Facts and Part 1 of an interview.  This week, I’ll be at Meredith McCardle’s very smart and stylish blog, where I ramble on and on about jobs.  Yeah, I wonder why I’d have that on the brain. *smirks*

And, I’m pretty sure, though not 100% positive, that Part Two of the interview will be up at The Ultimate YA Reading Group.  Next week I visit with Kristina Miranda and Mindy Alyse Weiss at their thought-provoking blogs.

Needless to say – it’s been busy.

To top it off, I needed a Music Monday, but what would reflect my current frame of mind?  Then, I was running an errand when my eleven-year-old decided we should listen to the Foo Fighters “All My Life”.  YES!  Yes, yes, yes!  This was the song. He and I screamed along with “Done. Done.  On to the next one.” in what was truly an awesome mother/son moment.

So, kick back, listen and yell with me, “On to the next!”

There, I feel much better now.

I hope all this rambling about my to-do list doesn’t make me seem ungrateful. It probably does.  But really, really, really I am so thankful to be able to do the blog tour. In fact, it’s been a year of reasons to be thankful.  One more thing on my to do list this week is to have a heap of turkey, mashed potatoes, meat pie and cranberry.  Then I can sing again: done. done.

November 21, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . music. Leave a comment.

Music Monday with Author Shana Norris

I’m thrilled to have Shana Norris, author of  Something to Blog About, Troy High, The Boyfriend Thief and the soon-to-be- released Surfacing here for Music Monday.  Like me, Shana links her writing with music and I’m curious to see what song she’s going to pick for our listening pleasure. Take it away, Shana:

I’m one of those writers who can’t actually listen to music while writing. I need quiet so I can focus, yet music is still an important part of my writing. When I’m working on a new idea, one of the first things I do is create a playlist for the book that I use during brainstorming. The playlist may change over time as I get to know the characters better, but I always have a group of songs that help me get into the mood of the story.

My newest ebook release Surfacing, a YA paranormal which will be available on November 15, takes place on an isolated island along North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The book has a very quiet, lonely feel and I wanted that to be reflected in the playlist. Most of the songs are soft and quiet, except one: “Santa Monica” by Everclear. It was the first song I added to the playlist and I knew it had to be there. It was one of the original inspirations for Surfacing, the song that helped put images in my head before I ever started writing the story. I can still see my main character Mara whenever I listen to it. It may seem a bit odd next to the quiet songs in the rest of the playlist, but “Santa Monica” is the perfect depiction of Mara’s feelings in the book.

The video for this song looks like it would make an awesome story!  Here, everyone, check it out:

Yep, that definitely makes me want to read the book!  If you’d like more info about Shana or her books, here ya go:

Shana Norris lives in North Carolina and likes to imagine all the secret things living in the ocean. You can visit her online at www.shananorris.com.

October 31, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . guest post, music, YouTube stuff. 1 comment.

Music Monday — Taylor Swift

So this might seem really, really, really different than  the songs I ordinarily feature on Music Mondays.  But, I love the high school first love feel of this song.  I blogged here about how Linkin Park’s song Numb feels a lot like the story I tell in Dolphin Girl.  But if that song tells the story of Jane’s family and her struggle with isolation, this song tells the story of the romance with Sam.

One is edgy, one is sweet.  Smoosh ’em together and you’ll get Jane’s vibe.

October 17, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . music. 3 comments.

Is your muse like my muse?

What is your muse like?  Do they show up when you least expect it? Unannounced, like a relative or friend that barges in when you’ve got a ton of other things to do?

Or do they sometimes whisper so softly that it’s hard to hear them?

Have they ever take a vacation and forget to tell you they’re going?

Mine–and I love him or her–does all of the above.  But the thing that really blows me away is that sometimes mine can be a bit show-off-y. You might wonder what I’m talking about here. So I’ve got to tell you this one story.

I mentioned in an earlier post, right here,  about two times my muse has shown me something through music.  This story is about the second time.  I’ll save the first time for later.

So, a few months back, I was working on  my novel, Dolphin Girl, and I was thinking about how a theme in the book dealt with her being tugged on by an undertow or pulled along by a current beyond her control.  While I was thinking, a song came on the radio, an old song that I hadn’t heard in a long time.  “Numb” by Linkin’ Park.  Do you know the song?

Anyway, the lyrics “under the surface” and “caught in the undertow” along with some others really hooked my imagination.  This song completely summed up exactly how Jane, the main character, was feeling! I couldn’t remember ever seeing the video, so I wrote Numb on a slip of paper and set it aside to look up the video later.

Fast forward a couple of days, maybe a week, and I find the paper–LOL, yeah, that’s how I roll with my muse–and decide to watch the video.  Can you say creeped out?  I’m embedding the video below so you can watch it, but I’ll just mention that in the book Jane is an artist who has always her sketch pad with her.  The relationship with her mother is stifling and she’s got some issues with cliques at school. Beyond that, there are a few other doozies that are eerily, eerily similar. I literally shivered when I watched this video.  ‘Cause my muse was showing off, that’s why.   So, if you’re maybe a little curious about the book or about the song, here it is.  Oh, one more thing, if you know my writing, pay attention to her first sketch.  No, it’s not a dolphin, but you’ll see. Shiver.  See?  Show off.

October 6, 2011. Tags: , , , . dolphin girl, music, YouTube stuff. 3 comments.

Music Monday with U2

Jane, the main character in Dolphin Girl, definitely gets herself stuck in a moment.  Don’t we all?  So, this song has always felt like it’s a good fit for the book .  It’s a beautiful song with a beautiful message.  Hope you enjoy it.

September 19, 2011. Tags: , , , . dolphin girl, music, YouTube stuff. Leave a comment.

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