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.
It seems like I always include fantastical things in my books, so these three things seemed–I don’t know…interesting.
Dolphins Talk — In Dolphin Girl, Jane speaks with the dolphins. I don’t know if you saw this piece on the TODAY Show about the beluga whale named NOC (pronounced No Sea), who learned how to vocalize in a lower octaves, which sound remarkably human. Here’s a link to YouTube where you can listen to the whale’s conversation. I wonder what he’s saying? Any guesses?
Guardian Angels Exist — In Winging It!, Grace is an Angel-in-Training who is skipping school to try to earn her wings while serving as an apprentice. In yet another clip from the TODAY Show, here’s a real-life guardian angel. In fact, I’m writing a new story for Grace where she spends a bit of time in the hospital with her Assignment. Look for Gifted! soon.
Wishes Granted — In My Wishful Thinking, Logan and her best friend Emily share a genie, who grants anything they desire. Sorry but I don’t have a clip from TODAY (yet). But I did have a few wishes granted. Namely that the proof of the paperback arrived today and it’s ready to go and the ebook is already for sale at Amazon. And! My Wishful Thinking is a POTW (Pick of the Week) by Orangeberry. All in all, some nice wishes granted.
In my last post, I mentioned that Lo, the main character from My Wishful Thinking looked like Katy Perry, and probably this song is why.
The story is set during the summer before Lo’s senior year of high school and a critical scene happens on July 4th. Plus, there are a bunch of ways the genie, Eugene, resembles a firework. This song is upbeat and inspirational, so why do I always tear up when listening?
Maybe I’m thinking about Lo.
If you’re interested, there’s a giveaway over at Goodreads for MWT. Just head here to enter.
I’m pretty enthusiastic about this blog hop and thankful that Kai Strand asked me to participate. Not because I think one of my books will be The Next Big Thing, but rather, because this hop is about a lot of authors getting together to share their readers and to help them to find other great authors to read. That is very, very exciting! And, who knows? Maybe one of the authors will be the next big thing, and I’ll have had a hand in helping them.
If you’re just joining the hop, the dealio is that each author is supposed to anser ten questions about one of their works, either a book or work in progress. I decided to focus on My Wishful Thinking, which is set to release later this month.
So, without further delays, here we go —
What is the working title of your book?
The title of my upcoming book is My Wishful Thinking. It’s the story two best friends who must share a lovable, but nerdy, genie.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’ve suspected for a while that a lot of the ideas for my books come from T.V. shows I watched as a kid. Somehow pieces of those shows are buried deep in my subconscious, and I end up twisting them into something new, and, hopefully, more contemporary. I guess that means this book came from the show “I Dream of Jeannie.”
What genre does your book fall under?
It’s definitely a lighthearted teen/YA book set in our world with magical elements. Is that urban fantasy? Magical realism? I don’t know for sure, but it’s a little like “I Dream of Jeannie.” 😀
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Can I pick someone other than actors? Because the images in my mind are personalities or celebrities but not necessarily actors. Lo, the MC needs to look like Katy Perry, but act more like Pink. She’s a little hard on the outside, but pretty gooshy when you get beyond her exterior. For Eugene, I’d pick a young Prince Harry. He’s respectable with a little mischief lurking. And, I’ve always thought of Em as Erin Sanders, who played Quinn on Zoey 101.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
This is cliché, but – Be careful what you wish for.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Self–published, although I prefer the term indie-published because I do contract out the cover, the editing, the formatting, etc.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Ha! Depends on how you look at it.
If you count from when I first had the idea, and started outlining and wrote the opening scenes, then it’s two years.
But the truth is I didn’t work on this for a solid two years. After I did all that getting-it-started stuff, I put it on the back burner and worked on other things. While any project is on the backburner, it stays on a very low simmer. Actually, I do this with all my books, and I probably have about twenty things simmering right now. That can seem overwhelming at times, but at least I won’t run out of ideas.
For this one, I might have gotten an idea about one of the wishes the girls made, or a little revealed to me about who an antagonist might be.
Then, from the point I took it off the backburner and decided to cook it up, it was five to six months of regular writing to finish the first draft.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
It’s similar in tone to my novel Winging It! It’s also a little like Sarah Mylanowski’s Gimme A Call in that they main character is trying to re-shape their life for the better.
Uh, probably that TV Show, again – “I Dream of Jeannie” — but seriously, I really enjoy writing books that are light, include some heart, and if I can include something a little bit magical. Besides, who wouldn’t love to have a personal genie?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There is a more serious thread about Lo’s parents’ divorce and her single mom who is struggling to do a good job at parenting. My parents split up when I was in college and while nothing in my life was as messy as Lo’s (both my parents are great!), I remember wishing then that they’d get back together. I think that’s normal, and actually common, so for anyone who has been through that, maybe they’ll see some of themselves in Lo.
Before you go, I hope you’ll stop by Kai’s blog to read her post from last week. And next week please check out these five fabulous authors/writers:
All great in no particular order, or ….actually in alphabetical order by last name 😉
It seems absolutely amazing to say this, given that I thought it was doomed to be a dusty drawer book. While it’s been awhile since I was a new parent, I can’t help but think how much all the ups and downs of this past year are like having a new baby. So, here are some of the similarities I’ve noticed.
1. Sleepless nights.
Coming up with scenes for the next book? Remembering something you forgot to do? A Kindle Select free run, anyone? Are these the things that woke you up or kept you up? They were for me.
2. Checking to make sure the baby is alive.
The book equivalent of tiptoeing into the nursery is signing into KDP to check your sales. If you hit refresh-refresh-refresh, you probably were the type of parent that would wake your baby just to make sure.
3. Less social life and free time.
You receive an invitation to hang with friends, but you’re involved in something else for the book. It could be a blog tour, or promotion, or interview or, or, or…
So you decline and watch over your book instead. If only there were book babysitters, then you could still go out and phone home ten times to see how things are going.
4. You must fight the urge to over share.
When you do finally go out, you must fight this with all your will power. You know those parents that have hundreds of pictures and want to tell you about diaper changes. Don’t be that person. No one cares that you need one more review before ENT will feature your book. No one.
Well, maybe other authors at KB, but that’s it.
5. The weight you put on is worth it.
The biggest, most disappointing difference is that you don’t immediately lose weight when you release a book. But really, who cares about buying new clothes? You wear a lot of sweat pants when you write, anyway.
Take heart. It will come off, but it requires a determination that you never needed bb (before book or before baby, whichever you prefer).
Babies need strollers, binkies, bottles, and lots and lots of clothes. Books need covers, a web site, editing, social media, and blog posts with adorable pictures like this one.
7. The support you get from others (and who gives it) surprises you.
You think grandma will be the biggest fan of your baby (and maybe your book, too). But it doesn’t always happen that way. In fact, a lot of your support comes from those who are going through the same trials at the same time.
8. Nothing is just yours any longer.
With babies, you are required to share more. With writing, the book is what you share. And sharing your book is waaay scarier than sharing your stuff, because now you’re out there for everyone to see. Don’t fret. It’ll be okay and you’ll even get used to it.
9. You let go of perfection.
Your house is not as clean, because there are so many book-ish things that need your attention first. When you find the time to clean, you’d rather write. Not only are you forced to handle house stuff differently, but also somewhere in that first year, you realize your child – the book – is not perfect either.
Oh, well. Nothing is.
10. The second child doesn’t get as much attention.
You fully intend to not fall into the trap of not giving as much to your second book (or your second child), but it happens the all the same. Because you still love your first book and you can’t just drop it like a hot potato, so now your love is spread around, perhaps a bit thinner. It’s not that you love it any less, but it can never be the one and only.
11. You believe once again in the things you believed as a child.
You begin to believe in magic and luck. Perhaps you’ll be visited by the book version of the tooth fairy–the Amazon fairy, who deposits sales into your KDP account late at night while you sleep.
12. It doesn’t really change you.
With a baby you’re now A MOM. With your book you can call yourself AN AUTHOR (if you want). But those titles don’t change who you are at your core. Your values are still the same. And as much as we all would like the event to magically transform us, and make us better than we were before, it doesn’t.
So, here are my top twelve. There are others and maybe you even have a favorite.
Each book only gets one first birthday, and to celebrate this one for Dolphin Girl, I’ve lowered the price to 99 cents. You can find it here at Amazon
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.”
A super quick post today. At the beginning of August the LA Times ran this story ,which asserts dolphins are like junior high school girls because they hang out in cliques based on certain social behaviors.
I thought the article was really cool, especially since I used pods in Dolphin Girl as a metaphor for cliques, but I think the LA Times got one thing wrong. Cliques don’t just exist for junior high school girls. They exist in high school and adulthood, boys and girls, men and women. I consider political parties, religions, special interests or any way that someone might label themselves as the definition of an elite social group.
It seems we don’t outgrow it when we turn fourteen. Or fifteen. Or even sixteen.
My cliques are: wife, mom, mom of teenager (because this is a special badge of honor), sports mom (this badge requires an even greater commitment), Catholic, writer, reader, storyteller, indie-pubbed, daughter, aunt, sister, dog lover, dolphin lover, music lover, cookie baker, dieter, art appreciator, …etc.
What cliques are you a member of?
It seems hard to believe that four years ago I was hard at work on a major revision of Dolphin Girl, pulling apart every chapter in an effort to make the story more focused. In the book, Jane, the main character, has a crush on a popular athlete Sam Rojas. In the original version, Sam was a baseball player.
During the revision, I spent a lot of time thinking about why Jane felt a connection with dolphins and why she felt a connection to Sam, too. I believe I had an a-ha moment during Michael Phelps’s 200 butterfly in 2008.
It went something like this – Omigod, he’s Sam.
Phelps even looked a little bit like the way I’d already written Sam—tall, gangly arms, boyish grin. The only problem was Sam played baseball and he needed to be a swimmer so that dolphin girl Jane could have her dolphin boy.
Out of the Olympic swimming, came huge slashes to the manuscript and new chapters. I obsessed about everything Phelps-ian. In one of his races his goggles filled with water, so I used that. Sam shows Jane how to use the goggles before her swim with the dolphins and he tells her it sucks when you get water in them. And, at a swim meet Jane is there to photograph Sam as he swims the fly. She wishes momentarily that she could be on the bottom of the pool to capture his swim from a dolphin’s point of view. If you’ve spent any time watching NBC’s coverage, they definitely have the dolphin-cam.
All of this proves, that writers write when we’re not in front of a computer, which means no one should feel bad about slacking. Life is our material.
I’ve been spending a lot of time watching the Olympics and Phelps…and other sports, too. Dolphin Girl is already written and I doubt there will be any kind of sequel, but who know what material might come from other events.
At the beginning of this year’s games, I was heartbroken (like some other Phelps fans, I’m sure) with his fourth place finish. Fourth in the world didn’t make him a slouch, but I wanted more for Michael/Sam. So…I was extremely happy that the games turned around for him. It’s been wonderful to follow his success and as he swam the medley relay last night, I hoped that Phelps might swim one event—a fly—in Rio.
But, if he doesn’t, there’s always YouTube. 🙂