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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Debra Salonen: When the music moves you


I used to be the kind of writer had to have absolute silence when I worked. I would hear other writers talk about playing their favorite symphonies to get them in the mood to write or, maybe, they'd listen to sexy music when they were writing a love scene. This wasn't me.

Then, a few months ago, something odd happened. I was writing Cowgirl Come Home, my July "Big Marietta Fair" release.

The story was moving along fine. I felt like I knew my characters well and had a firm grip on how the story would unfold. Then, I went to the gym one morning.

The instructor of my workout class (my daughter) shared a new song that she really liked. I hadn't heard it before. I didn't know the singer. I wasn't really paying that much attention, to be honest. But, suddenly, the music got in my head. You know that feeling, right? The song is there and the words start to connect. The lyrics started telling a story that somehow blended with my story. I could see a scene between my hero and heroine start to unfold in my mind.

Honestly, it took all my self-control not to run to my phone and start jotting down notes. But I realized that the song was a key.

I asked my daughter for the name of the song and the singer. She said, "Forgiveness by Toby Mac."

I managed to finish class before dashing to my car. I pulled out my phone and downloaded the song. Once I got home, I sat down at my computer, turned on the music and listened to the scene that I began to imagine in the gym.

It was just one song but it changed my process.

I decided to try listening to music while I wrote. I began with instrumentals and then branched out to indie singer/songwriters on iTunes radio. Every once in a while a song would catch my attention and I'd realize it sounded like something my characters would be listening to. Gradually, those songs became part of my book's playlist.

Now, I do this automatically. I enjoy being able to see--and hear-- what my characters are listening to. And I've enjoyed being able to share the music of their lives with my readers.

Below, you'll find a link to the playlist for Nobody's Cowboy, my new book that is releasing on Friday. Nobody's Cowboy Playlist

Warning: this playlist is an eclectic hodgepodge.

Why? Because Austen and Serena, my hero and heroine, arrived fully formed in my world (or I arrived in theirs). They're strong-willed, unique individuals with clearly defined tastes.

Some of the songs reflect Serena's independent thinking (The Kongos Come With Me Now) and some her parent's influence (Nina Simone's Feeling Good). Her herd of alpacas seem to favor Country music, so you'll see a Keith Urban and Lady Antebellum on the list. Austen always has his ear open for new artists and likes to know what his nieces and nephews are listening to, so Bruno Mars and Sam Smith popped up.

But, Serena and Austen both have a sentimental side, too. Dance Me To The End of Love will definitely be playing at their...well, you know. This is romance novel. And these two truly deserve a happy ending.


Do you make playlists? Does music figure prominently in your life? What are you listening to now? I would love to gift a $10 gift card to either Amazon or iTunes to one lucky winner this week. And, I hope you'll remember to look for Nobody's Cowboy, releasing Friday.

28 comments:

  1. I seem to be listening to a lot of MOZART FOR BABIES right now. It is beautiful.

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    1. Sounds lovely, Mary.

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  2. I am listening to a lot of oldies but goodies, like Bobby Darin, Bobby Vee, Bobby Vinton, The Chordettes, The Diamonds, The Four Lads, Frankie Vallie, Lesley Gore, The Marvellettes, Neil Sedaka, Paul Anka, Petula Clark, Ricky Nelson, Rosemary Clooney, The Tokens and The Turtles. (These singers all became popular before or close to the time I was born, but I still appreciate their music.)

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    1. Did you see the play/movie about Frankie Valle? Awesome. I love those artists, too. More my sister's era,but good stuff.

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    2. I would love to see Jersey Boys. I DID see a version in my local theatre last year and just loved the music.

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  3. I've been making playlists since way back to the old Napster days.

    I have several with individual old favorites songs.

    I also have several by group: The Beatles, The Moody Blues, The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Blind Faith, Jethro Tull, Bon Jovi, Hootie and the Blowfish, Creed, John Denver, Simon and Garfunkel, Loggins and Messina, CSN&Y

    I currently like to listen to Passenger, Jason Mraz, Ed Sheeran, John Legend, and Maroon 5.

    I like musicals: Phantom of the Opera, Rent, Grease, Mama Mia, Camelot, West Side Story, Across the Universe

    I've tried to play the piano and the guitar. I'm tone deaf. I wish I could sing. I love music. I'm constantly listening to music when I work in the house, outside in the yard, while I cook and while I eat.

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    1. Laurie G, we were twins separated at birth, obviously. LOL. I agree completely.

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  4. I like the oldies rock & roll from the 50's and early 60's plus country from classic to current hits.

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    1. At a 50-yr 0ld bday party this weekend, we listened to 8-track tapes. Johnny Cash was huge. ;-)

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  5. I have to write with silence, although I always end up with songs that "go with" the story. I loved the post.

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    1. Thanks, Liz. Gotta honor our process.

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  6. I don't make playlists, but I must have background music on all the time! I have tinnitus, and music drowns out the static/ringing--plus, I love listening to music.

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    1. My friend had tinnitus and it was no fun--nor was the brain tumor they removed, but the ringing went away and she's great now. Do you use headphones?

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  7. I am not much of a music person, might have it on in the background while cleaning and always on in the car.

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    1. Cleaning? What's that? Brhahaha...I need a maid.

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  8. I love listening to music and my most recent favorite song to listen to is Bastille's Pompeii. It is playing now.

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    1. I will check it out. Thnx, Lil.

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  9. Music is such a huge part of my life. It tends to influence all areas of my creativity. My current playlist is eclectic, ranging from One Republic, Green Day, Queen, Taylor Swift, Alabama, Switchfoot, and Weird Al.

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    1. Christina, Wierd Al's new album is a riot!!! Love WORD CRIMES!

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  10. I listen to whatever's playing on the radio. I don't really seek out music and I have to have quiet when I read. So I guess I'm the exact opposite :) Thanks for sharing!

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  11. I don't make playlists. Eek, I'm not that technologically advanced! But I do listen to music a lot, including James Taylor, Fergie, any kind of country and even some songs by Eminem and Kid Rock. I guess my music tastes vary!

    Happy almost release day to you, Debra! xoxo

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    1. Jen, you're the winner of the $10 gift card. Email me or DM on Facebook so I have your email addy and let me know if you prefer iTunes or Amazon.

      Congrats. Thanks for hanging out and talking music with me.

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  12. I am listening to a lot of oldies but goodies, like Ricky Nelson, Bobby Sherman,Bobby Vinton, The Beach Boys and John Denver.I don't make playlists,Thank you for the opportunity to win.I enjoy reading your books.Have a wonderful week.

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  13. I love listening to music but it's mostly background noise for me. It always has been, since my preteen days even. I don't do playlists, mainly because I hadn't thought about doing it.

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  14. Erin, Emma, Jen, and Eileen, sorry for the group comment but I am playing catch-up. Took my grandgirls to a movie yesterday. We saw Guardians of the Galaxy and loved it. The MUSIC was fab. LOL.
    Deb

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  15. I always listen to music! I do it while reading, before going to sleep, while cooking, while studying, doesn't matter! I'm currently listening to Strauss waltzes, The Script - If You Could See Me Now and Linkin Park - Roads Untravelled are this century's obsessions :D

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  16. Two new things to investigate, Alina P. Thank you!

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  17. Darn, I keep doing something wrong. Wrote this three times.

    The winner of the gift card is Jen.

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