Happy Thursday!! Today we have Meg Benjamin (a fellow Samhain Publishing author) with us and she's talking about music and writing and how they go together in her world. She's also sharing an excerpt of her latest book with us, and YES, THERE IS A CONTEST!
For the contest portion we're going to challenge you a little bit. Whoever makes the best comment in the comment section (as judged by Meg who will be around) will win an ARC of Wedding Bell Blues. And come on, we all love to get our hands on ARCS so we can read the stories before anyone else. You know you do, so get creative and get to commenting. Make them fun!
And now, with no further chatter from me, here's Meg!! Hello HoR Readers! It's great to be here, I hope you like what I've come up with.
Music and Silence
At the end of Finder, Emma Bull’s author bio has a neat thing: the soundtrack for the book. These are the songs she listened to while she was writing, and it’s pretty extensive (also, from my point of view, sort of obscure). Bull is obviously one of those writers who likes to listen to music while she writes. I had a creative writing teacher who was like that once—he always used the same Mozart concerto, and when it reached a particular passage, it was his cue to begin writing.
I’ve frequently wished I were like that, too. It seems so cool—listen to the music and it jiggles your brain right into the story. Unfortunately, I can’t do it. When I write—and when I read—I need quiet. It’s always been that way for me. I’m one of those annoying people who will tell you to quiet down in the library, or ask you to turn down your music if you’re related to me and you’re in the room next door to my study. I don’t need absolute silence, of course. If I did, I’d never get anything done. Right now, for example, I’ve got some energetic finches cussing each other out just beyond my window. But that’s the kind of music I can always manage to blot out.
I think part of the problem is that when I listen to music, I like to listen to it. I want to hear the words along with the rhythm. That leads to some conflicts with my DH when I turn on my iPod in the car—he likes a soft background mutter, while I like it loud enough to listen to what’s being sung. One of the joys of
That doesn’t mean I sit in rapt silence while I listen, as you do in a concert hall. But the things I do while listening usually take a different part of my brain than reading or writing—playing computer solitaire, for example, or chopping onions. When I write, I need to concentrate, and the music seems to be filling the same channel in my brain as the words I’m trying to find.
Music can put me in the right mood for writing, though, even though I turn it off when I actually start work. And those songs sometimes show up in the books, as a sort of thank you to the artists for helping me get going. James McMurtry’s Red Dress shows up in Wedding Bell Blues because I wanted a really sexy song for Janie to dance to, and that song definitely qualifies. Joe Ely’s Cool Rockin’ Loretta is in Venus in Blue Jeans as a dance-around-the-shop-feeling-good song, which it really is. Some writers, like Jennifer Crusie, seem to include songs and singers in their books they want to clue you in on, like Dusty Springfield or Kirsty MacColl. If my references to McMurtry and Ely make people go out and listen to their stuff, I’d be delighted.
But I still can’t listen to music when I’m actually writing. For that, I have to listen to the music playing in my head! So I wish I could give you the soundtrack for my books. I wish there was a soundtrack for my books. But I can’t. My mind just doesn’t work that way. You’ll have to be satisfied with listening to the music my characters listen to. Apparently, they don’t have the same problems that I do!
So—this is what the characters in Wedding Bell Blues (July 21 from Samhain) are hearing. All of them are available on iTunes if you’d like to hear a sample.
Emmylou Harris, “Cattle Call”
James McMurty, “Red Dress”
Lyle Lovett, “If I Needed You”
Patsy Cline, “Faded Love”
Ray Wylie Hubbard, “Without Love (We’re Just Wastin’ Time)” (actually,
Willie Nelson, “Yesterday’s Wine”
And here's an excerpt for the book you're trying to win!!
Wedding Bell Blues
Pete Toleffson and Janie Dupree have to dance at the wedding reception since they’re best man and maid of honor, respectively. Pete’s a non-dancer, but Janie’s going to help him practice.
The music on the radio changed to Lyle Lovett and “If I Needed You”. Janie extended her hands. “Come on, it’s not that bad.”
“Yeah, it is.” Pete sighed, but he moved toward her, taking her hands. “This isn’t a waltz.”
“No, it’s not.” Janie smiled. “It’s just beautiful.” She swayed back and forth lightly, letting the music move into her bones.
After a moment, Pete began to move with her in a sort of tentative way.
Janie shuffled lightly to the left and back again, taking the rhythm from the music and pulling Pete gently in her wake.
He stumbled, half-catching himself, but Janie kept hold of his hands, sliding back and forth easily, humming along with Lyle. The tension began to fade in his arms.
On the radio, Emmylou Harris started singing “Cattle Call”. Pete stopped in his tracks. “What the hell?”
Janie laughed. “C’mon, it’s a waltz. Dance with me.” She extended her arms.
Pete pulled her closer, one hand at her waist, the other holding her hand out rigidly. After a moment, he began leading. Emmylou’s sweet soprano yodeling followed them around the yard. Janie found herself emphasizing each downbeat, enjoying herself immensely as Pete’s arms began to loosen slightly.
The music slowed and shifted to another slow one. Without thinking, Janie moved closer, letting Pete slide his feet alongside hers. She could feel the hard muscles of his shoulders beneath her fingers, flexing slightly as he moved her in careful circles. She let him push her along, keeping her spine straight but moving steadily closer until their bodies finally touched.
She hadn’t meant it to happen, really. Pete came to an abrupt halt, his shoulders stiff again. Janie started to move, but his hand at the small of her back held her in place. Then he began to dance again, more slowly this time. Another waltz began to play. Apparently, the DJ was psychic.
Janie could feel the smooth plane of his body pressing against her breasts. An ache had started low in her body that had nothing to do with exhaustion and everything to do with Pete Toleffson. She closed her eyes and let her cheek rest against his chest for a moment, feeling warm skin and smelling faint hints of sweat and aftershave, letting herself relax against the hard muscles of his chest and thighs.
One muscle was very hard indeed.
What the hell was she doing? Janie’s head popped up abruptly. Pete Toleffson was staring down at her, his eyes obscured in the dim light. “Something wrong, Ms. Dupree?” he murmured.
Janie shook her head, feeling a weird bubble of panic rise in her chest. This was just a dance, after all. She danced all the time.
Pete’s fingers spread against the small of her back, nudging her closer as their bodies moved slowly back and forth. Her hips brushed against him, and she was aware again of the hard shape of his erection.
Okay, she wasn’t imagining it—something was definitely going on beyond a quick turn around the backyard.
The music faded and changed to a muted commercial. Pete stopped moving.
Janie felt as if she were standing on the edge of a precipice, looking down. She could step back. Or she could leap over the edge and fly.
Pete’s hand moved from the small of her back to cup her cheek, and Janie stood very still, looking up at him. His eyes were dark in the dim light of the backyard, but she could see the fire behind them as he moved closer. Then his lips touched hers.
Wedding Bell Blues can be found at http://samhainpublishing.com/romance/wedding-bell-blues.
All right, peeps, get to commenting!