Writing With Music: Yay Or Nay?

Today it’s time for me to address the age-old question: should you play music while writing or not?

First off, there is no should. Some people thrive on silence while they write, some require background noise, some want sensory overload while they attempt to churn out words. Personally, I fall into the latter category. If I don’t have a playlist with several songs that fit the mood and the theme of the story I’m writing, I feel lost and can’t add the required depth to the story.

However, when I have a really specific plot, it can be hard to find songs that work for me. I’ve only found one song that fits a certain plot of mine. The weirdest, and greatest, thing is when you’re just minding your own business, listening to some music, and suddenly THIS SONG FITS MY WIP PERFECTLY OH MY GOD.

One band is my go-to source for WIP-related songs. It’s the British band Ten, fairly unknown outside of a small circle of devoted fans (I have an eccentric taste in music). Ten is perfect for me since I love well crafted lyrics that avoid clichés, incredible melodies and hooks, heavy guitars and sexy voices. Once I had outlined an entire seven novel fantasy series (it’s about halfway done, before y’all ask). I had always skipped this one song on one of Ten’s albums and for some reason it came up and, for once, I didn’t skip. And no lie, that song fit the series to a tee. I mean, from the lyrics via the mood to the voice and instruments. It was as if it was specifically written for that series.

When things like that happen, it can give your motivation and inspiration a huge boost. Even now, when I hear that particular song, I immediately want to work on that particular WIP. It’s a strange sensation. And that makes me wonder how people write without music.

So, do you guys write without music? What is your reason?

And I leave you with one of my favorite songs from my favorite band:

It Ends This Day – Ten

Interview with Regan Summers!

Soooo, guys. I’m super excited, because the third book in a series I love (the Night Runner series), is out. To celebrate that occasion, I’m hosting its author on my humble blog. Many thanks to Regan Summers for graciously allowing me to embarrass her!

About the book (CLICK THE PICTURE!):FallingFromTheLight_1600x2400

Phoenix, AZ

All Sydney Kildare wants is a minute in the slow lane, some time to decide where she’s going with her vampire lover, Malcolm Kelly. But after sitting out the last battle, the powerful Master Bronson is giving orders again, and he isn’t above blackmailing his former courier to get what he wants.

With Mal sent to track a vicious killer, Syd is forced to infiltrate a pharmaceutical company responsible for a drug that turns vampires into real monsters. She’s unprepared and alone, but fiercely determined. If her investigation doesn’t satisfy the Master, Malcolm will pay the price. A wrong turn throws her into the middle of a vampire power play. Caught between twisting forces, with their freedom at stake, she’ll have to decide what’s more important: love, power or revenge. But choosing what feels right might turn out all wrong.

94,000 words

About the Author:

Regan Summers is the author of the romantic urban fantasy Night Runner series. As a native Alaskan, she’s used to long, cold nights but thinks they’re better with a helping of sexy vampires. Don’t Bite the Messenger, the first in the series, was a finalist for the 2013 EPIC eBook Awards in the paranormal category.

And now, without further ado, TO THE TALKIES.

Yo, Regan.

Yo to you as well.

Thank you for volunteering to be on my shark-infested blog. I know it takes a lot of courage, and I want to commend you on your bravery. Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Thank you for having me! *adjusts shark tank* I was born and raised in Alaska, in a household without cable television. I spent most of my childhood imagining I was a unicorn or an Arctic explorer or a leopard that had been adopted by the Boxcar Children and was expected to help support the household. This is what a lot of darkness and a house full of books will do to a child. Eventually I learned to discern imagination from reality, and I have been disappointed ever since. As I got older, and playacting shipwrecks and space travel started to be frowned upon, writing became a necessary conduit for my imagination. I also have a husband, a son, a full-time job, and a recently-shorn cat.

So, YOUR BOOK IS COMING OUT. I’ve personally devoured the first two books and cannot wait until this third magically appears on my e-reader. For those who don’t know, I’ll let Regan fill you in on her awesome trilogy:

Thank you so much for saying so! *looks directly into the camera, awkwardly adjusts tie* The Night Runner series focuses on Sydney Kildare, a 20-something human who had a rough beginning, turned into a bit of an adrenaline junkie while working as a courier for vampires, then decided to get out of the running game while she was ahead. This is a world where vampires aren’t only “out”, but are also intricately connected with humans in a few key areas. They’re economically powerful, politically savvy, and have great PR people. They also have a tiered hierarchy based on power and their willingness to use it.

Don’t Bite the Messenger begins with Sydney preparing to leave her job and Alaska just as a vicious vampire hive stages a coup against the Master of the territory. During that she meets Malcolm Kelly. He’s a thief who pissed off Master Bronson and ended up bound in servitude. He’s charged with minding Syd but all she wants is to get the hell out of Dodge. They should go together like oil and water, if you set the oil on fire, but they are drawn to each other for reasons other than looks or sexual attraction. And it’s an interesting development, seeing them recognize and tentatively move toward each other in the midst of all these vampire schemes.

Let’s talk about Sydney for a bit. I was surprised that I was so taken with her, since I’m usually very critical of the way FMCs are written. She’s so multidimensional, strong, but still a human being with flaws, fears and idiosyncrasies. How do you craft your characters? What’s your process?

What is this “process” of which you speak? I tend to start a story with a vague chain of scenes in mind, and a sense of the core of a character. Syd’s one of my favorite types of people to read about. She’s intrepid, spontaneous, and follows her pleasure. This is not to say that she’s fearless or thoughtless. Not at all. She fully recognizes evil in the world – maybe because it gets in her face often – and that’s why she embraces the opposite. She’s also fierce, no matter the odds, which I find makes it easier to root for her.

Speaking of process: PANTSING OR OUTLINING AND WHY.

Ahaahaa. I was just talking to a friend about this. I call myself an outliner, but that is a LIE. I do write outlines. I even write entire first drafts by them. And then I revise until the real story comes out. So I pants, but within a framework. 

Be honest. Are you a little bit in love with Malcolm?

No, I’m not a little bit in love with him. *dons dark glasses so you can’t see my heart-shaped eyes* I really do adore him, and it’s not just because he’s gorgeous and, um, skilled. It’s because, once he decides on something – whether it’s protecting someone incapable of protecting themselves, or loving someone who might not even love him back – he throws himself into it. And he doesn’t do it because he’s powerful and it’s not that difficult for him. He tries so hard, even when it jeopardizes his own tenuous position. There’s something so brave and optimistic about that. I just love it.

How did you come up with your version of the vampire race?

I’ve always been interested in the mechanics of the vampire, which I haven’t seen discussed much. Mine are strong, and each has their own particular talent. But the thing I focused most on is their energy – what it is that keeps the undead ambulatory and, more importantly, allows them to think and form new memories, have feelings, that sort of thing. While it’s not discussed at length, my vampires’ energy very much differs from humans’, which created unique opportunities in this series. And that’s all I’ll say about that. :-) 

Your world is pretty dark and grim. (I LOVE IT.) Is that a conscious choice, or a natural tendency? Can you tell us something about the atmosphere of the third book?

You know, I never considered this world dark. I was really quite surprised when the reviews for Don’t Bite the Messenger started coming in. I thought the book was so fun! But I tend to fixate on things that make me laugh, and I can endure (or make my characters endure) quite a lot in between funny moments. So I guess it’s a natural tendency. Though I will acknowledge that Falling from the Light is a dark book. It was difficult for me to write, so I guess that makes it extra dark?

I asked you how you got into writing. What makes you continue?

The stories need to be told. If I didn’t write, I’d probably hang out at a bus stop shouting tales at passersby. And they wouldn’t even be edited. It would be awful.

Cap or Bucky? WHY?

Oh, MAN. What a question! What’s so great about Cap and Bucky is them in relation to each other. And Cap’s chest. I mean, his principles. Principles, not pectorals. Bucky’s a hot mess of violent tragedy – both given and received – and that’s just too interesting to turn away from.

Find Regan online at (and please do, because she’s hilarious):

Website: http://regansummers.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Regan_Summers

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5350866.Regan_Summers

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReganSummersAuthor

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/6nFaH

What It’s Like Inside My Head, or The WIP Machine

Some of my writer friends call me the WIP Queen. At least, I’m assuming they mean WIP and not Whip. Because that would just be awkward. I swear I didn’t tell them– Anyway.

When I told my friend slash alpha reader Derek* about my intention to write a blog post about this subject, he said, and I quote: “That is a fascinating topic. I find your head amazeballs. Shaped like a giant inflated pumpkin balloon. Full of weird thoughts. Passions and desires. Snacks.”

Giant inflated pumpkin balloon aside, all of these things are true (and possibly deserving of their own blog posts at some point in the future). However, first and foremost, my head is filled with a WIP generator. While that might sound blissful to some, it’s a pain in the behind.

To wit, this is the process that usually occurs, while hiking, cooking, showering, snoozing, et cetera:

  1. A line pops into my head. Dialogue, or a first line of a first chapter, or a description, or maybe a faint idea of plot.
  2. Oh, that would make a cool short. But should I go route A, or route B?
  3. Dammit, I can’t choose. A divine sign that I should do both?
  4. In the span of an hour at the most, Route A and Route B both grow at a breakneck pace from short to novella to novel, adding characters and background and plot threads, until it’s a series of at least five books in the same universe with an ever expanding plot and character list.
  5. Lather, rinse, repeat.

This has led to a writing folder with 51 WIPs, at last count. Only 51, because I ignore the ideas that don’t make my writer boner go SPROINK immediately. And just about 14 of those 51 are shelved. For the others, I still get ideas, I still brainstorm, I still write. I find it hugely frustrating that I will never be able to finish all of them in my lifetime, and that the way my brain is wired means that I’ll come up with another 100 or so in the next decades that may never see the light of day.

To combat this, I’ve come up with a strategy. I focus on one WIP. That’s my main squeeze, my bb, my magnum opus. As long as I make my daily word count for that WIP, I’m allowed to play around with others. Which is necessary. The next WIP I’m going to focus on, when my current one TRUE COLORS is done (just three more chapters), is very lighthearted. I won’t be able to only write that one without also dabbling in some grimmer worlds. But that’s a topic for next time, darlings.

*Derek is not for sale. Mine.

Writing Versus Chronic Illness

Full disclosure: I have a chronic illness that causes me daily pain (yay) and tires me out easily (more yay). Latest diagnosis shows that it has to do with hypermobility in my joints. I also suffer from chronic migraines, which means I have anywhere from 10-20 severe migraines per month. Let that sink in. I’ve had them for 20+ years now, so I can manage around them, but they’re still a freakin’ PITA.

Because of this, I am too great a risk for employers. They feel I could explode in the workplace and that’s just bad manners. That’s why I started my own company copywriting, translating and editing about nine years ago. It’s going pretty well. Freelance work is uncertain, but I’m able to work from home and mostly set my own hours. Woke up with a migraine? No problem, I can take my meds, start work later and work until midnight. (Most of the time, although sometimes I have deadlines that just don’t allow any leeway.) Because of the uncertainty of the work, however, I have longer hours and work weeks than normal people. Alas, I can’t remember the last weekend I had off.

I don’t mind. It’s better than doing nothing, and I do fine.

When it comes to writing, that’s when it gets tricky. Like, super tricky.

After a long, 14 hour work day, everything hurts, I’m exhausted and I sit at my laptop and tear out my hair, going, “Bluuuuuh. Writing is soooo stupid. Uuuuugh.”

When I leave that phase in the rearview mirror and enter a more reasonable stage (for certain values of reasonable), I think, “I worked all freakin’ day. I’m in pain and I want to go to bed. I’m allowed a break. I don’t have to write. It’s a hobby, not a job.”

That’s where I go veering off the tracks. See, it IS a hobby, not a job. I worked all day, my body is killing me, maybe my head feels like a goddamn supernova on crack, so I deserve some time for myself, some time to spend on my hobby. Which is, you guessed it: writing.

When I don’t write for a while, I get cranky. I get depressed and restless. It’s interesting how easily I (and maybe some of you) dismiss that when it’s time to put pen to paper or keys to screen and actually do it. No time, too tired, too hurty, too much self-pity, too sad, too ugh.

When you’re chronically ill, it’s easy to feel like life owes you — or at least should ease up on those ridiculous demands — because you’ve been dealt a relatively shitty hand. It doesn’t. The only one who can make your life better is you (and possibly Chris Evans), and writing is good for you. So why not push through that pain and exhaustion and do it? It gives you an outlet, it keeps your mind busy and it’s just plain fun.

I promise, it does get easier the more you do it!

Whoa, dude.

So, I just realized it’s been over a year since I posted my last blog post.

A lot of things happened in the past year, most of them fairly to very shitty. It’s been bad, ‘s what I’m trying to say, to the point where I’m just hanging on from day to day hoping a ray of light will break through.

Uh. Yes. Also, I get a little bit carried away being gloomy sometimes.

Meanwhile, I finally finished the EvilPants edits and am working on a query. I just need to find time to streamline it. Work is not helping.

I also started a new WIP since my last blog post (WHERE DOES THE TIME GO). In fact, that one’s at 89K and I’m aiming for 100. I’ll toss up a discussion of that one later.

So, for those brave troopers who are still reading this, I AM STILL ALIVE. HI.

The 7-7-7 Meme!

The amazing Regan Summers tagged me for this meme. The rules are: Go to page 7, 70, or 170 of a current work in progress or recently published work and chose either the first complete paragraph or 7 lines of dialogue to share.

I chose the novella I’m writing right now, working title WING AND A PRAYER. Zach and Anna have just met.

“Then why are you here?”

“Pastor John is in the hospital.” He smirked. “We’ve been over this. Not three minutes ago.”

“Funny.” She faced him and grabbed a blue and white cupcake from the basket. She bit off a small bite with straight, small white teeth and waited until she’d swallowed it. Her tongue snaked out to lick her full lips. “I meant, why have you followed me out onto the lawn?”

Transfixed, Zach needed a moment to understand the question. He shifted, caught in that dangerous territory between half-hard and fully erect. Shit, that would be embarrassing. They would never let him live it down. “You work with the children,” Zach improvised. “Regular contact between us is important. Until Pastor John returns.”

Anna nodded, an amused twist to her mouth. “I give that excuse a five.”

“Out of five stars?” Zach arched an eyebrow. A twinkle danced in her pretty blue eyes. Electricity sparked between them. He became aware that he was holding his breath.

She laughed, throaty but not affected or mannered. “A scale of one to ten.”

So, there you have it. Try not to faint. Now, the rules say I gotta tag seven more people. I pick… Chelsea Mueller, Jilly Glass, Joshua Roots, PJ Perryman, Sadie Dane, Sara Peal and AC Masterson.  Have at it!

Blog Hop #2!

I have been tagged, I’m it. This is a fun game for authors because we rock. Being “IT” means that you share information about your “work in progress” also known as “WIP” The Rules 1.) Give credit (including a link) to the Author who tagged you. 2.)Play by the rules, therefore you most post the rules! 3.)You MUST answer all 10 questions (below) some are quite hard but do your best. 4.)List five other Authors with links at the end that you have “tagged” so that the game can continue.
The Link Back
I was tagged by  PJ Perryman who is the fantastic author of Drench the Wench and Kiss of the Marquis. She also has the fortune of being boss and member of Blushing Mischief, the author group responsible for A Spank in Time.
Q1.) What is the title or working title of your WIP?
When In Rome. I always like puns or ‘jokes’ for titles.
Q2.) What genres does your novel fall under?
Historical erotica, or as I like to call it: Roman Poarn.
Q3.) What actors (Dream Cast) would you choose to play the characters in a film version?
Good question. I hadn’t thought about that yet. I usually only cast my longer WIPs in my mind.
For Melis, I like a host of brunette starlets, of which I like Vanessa Hudgens the best, because she has an innate likability, has amazing hair and she looks like she has spirit:
Image
For Marcus, I like Ed Quinn, because I like Ed Quinn, he looks good nekkid and he can play arrogant like nobody’s business:
Image
Ed, if you’re googling yourself: 1) stop doing that. 2) yes, I am a perv, but mostly harmless. 3) call me. call me hard.
Q4.) What is the main outline for your book?
It’s a short. I’m not OCD enough to need an outline for a short. But the basic premise is (Ed, close your eyes and stop reading now, unless you want your innocence to be corrupted): A slave girl in ancient Rome barters for her freedom with her master.
Q5.) Will your book be Indie published/self published, or represented by an agency and sold to a traditional publisher?
A Spank In Time 2: The Spanks You Missed will be published by Blushing Books, publisher of much naughty merriment and of two of my other shorts, Corporal Punishment and One Bite Of Passion. Coming to an internet near you soon. You will know when.
Q6.) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? 
It’s just a short, a little over 6K, but… About three months. Because work decided to be insaaaane. And also, my body decided to be sick. And also, sexy shorts usually take a long time for me, because I want to get the mood right and every word counts.
Q7.) What other books in this genre would you compare your book to?
Uh, none. Or maybe the previous two collections by our author collective Blushing Mischief, A Spank In Time and Thrill Of The Hunt.
Q8.) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I love drifting off to ancient times and I find Roman society immensely intriguing because of its savagery and its advanced politics. Plus, thanks to HBO and Starz’s Spartacus: The Boning, we all know Romans loved to hump everything with a heartbeat, so combining the two seemed natural.
Q9.) What else about the book might pique readers’ attention?
The rest of the stories, amazing and diverse contributions by the our wonderful Blushing Mischief members.
Q10.) Five other Indie Authors you have tagged
I’m linking the rest of the BM gang, who have done this same blog hop: