Thursday, January 25, 2018

What's Your Soundtrack?


HANK  PHILLIPPI RYAN:  The writer world is divided, relentlessly and immutably, into two camps. Not the first person/third person camp. Not the outline/no outline camp. Not even the prologue/no prologue camp.
I mean the music/no music camp.
Those writers who listen to music are fanatics about it. They make playlists, they compile musical emotional journeys, they pick and choose songs and orchestrations that propel them into inspired wordsmithery.
There are others (raising my hand here) who cannot do it.  

I love music, of course, all kinds, and as you all know, I was vice-president of the Midwest chapter of the National Beatles Fan Club.  (It doesn’t get better than that, unless you were Debbie Snively, who was president.)  I can work  perfectly in a boisterous chaotic newsroom all good, but if I listen to music while writing my books, I get distracted. If there are words to the music, forget about it. Those are the only words my brain will handle.
But for the amazing J.D. Allen, (the chair of the Bouchercon board) this wasn’t even a choice. For her, music not only propels her, it inspires her.  And reading her essay? She’s even got me singing.

WORDS AND MUSIC

Music is a huge part of life. I love music and can appreciate almost any genre, pop, country, rock, classical, etc.. Except the one my husband blasts. The Brit, as I call him, loves the liquid metal. Or Death metal as I call it. The killing bunnies and screaming your head off kind of metal.
Having such musical differences is usually not an issue. He listens to his. I listen to mine. All is good in the world until we travel. Then we typically settle on audio books. Because, you know, books. We both love books.
But on those long road trips, we have to resort back to music occasionally, and we switch off. I have to listen to xxx for a little while, and on my turn, we settle on classic rock. He can tolerate that with only a few muttered 'bloody awfuls' under his breath.
Music usually has a spot in or an influence on my writing. Sometimes a song can inspire an entire book or a character. 19 SOULS was one of those stories. My villain, Sophie Ryan Evers, was born of a song. An old Cher song. As I was plotting the book, someone posted the 1960’s video of it on Facebook. The pain in her voice nailed how Sophie had taken her pain and twisted it into an obsession.
Nancy Sinatra first recorded Bang Bang in 1966. It’s the tale of a young girl in love with an older teenage boy who just isn't that into her. We’ve all been there. Infatuated with someone who doesn’t return our affection. Happens every day.
In this case, it’s an adolescent girl who thinks there’s more of a relationship than the boy does. And she doesn’t get over it when he moves on, as high school boys are apt to do. In the song, Cher relives playing good guy-bad guy. In the end, Cher used the metaphor of the good guy shooting her down as the loss of his love.  A love she hasn’t gotten over.
Bang. Bang. My Baby shot me down.
In 19 SOULS, Sophie relives that hurt and desertion every day of her life. Churning in her head, creating an alternate reality. Holding onto the hope that her man will come back and she spends her life figuring out how to make that happen—by any means necessary.
Cher rerecorded the song a second time in 1979 with a modern update and continues to include it on the playlists for her live shows. I played the two versions over and over as I worked on the villain of this book. After all, it would take a crafty villain to outsmart a smart PI Like Jim Bean.
  
HANK: SO how about you, reds and readers? Do you crave a soundtrack for your activities? Do you make a soundtrack? What do you listen to? And why?
And a copy of 19 SOULS to one lucky commenter!

Private Investigator Jim Bean is a straightforward, to-the-point man. He likes his cases to follow suit. But when his latest client asks him to find her missing brother Daniel, Jim has no idea how complicated his life is about to become.
As he falls deep into a manipulative game of cat and mouse, Jim uncovers the horrible truth about his client. Now he must set things right before her plans leads to the loss of innocent souls…even more than it already has.
About J.D. Allen
J.D Allen’s a Mystery Writers of America Freddie Award-winner. Her Sin City Investigations series launches with 19 Souls February 8th. She has a short story, in the ANTHONY AWARD WINNING anthology, Murder under the Oaks as well as Carolina Crimes. She’s the chair of the Bouchercon National Board, a member of MWA, PI Writer’s of America, and president of her local Sisters in Crime chapter. She’s an Ohio State Univ. Alum with a degree in forensic anthropology and a creative writing minor.

Buy Links
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/19-Souls-Sin-City-Investigation/dp/073875403X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516313047&sr=1-1&keywords=19+souls

Midnight Ink: https://www.midnightinkbooks.com/cart.php?action=add&ean=9780738754031&qty=1&submit=Add+to+Cart



90 comments:

  1. Congratulations on the new book, J.D. . . . it sounds quite intriguing and I’m looking forward to reading it. It sounds like the match-up between Sophie and Jim Bean is going to be very interesting . . . .

    Ah, music . . . it’s all [almost] good, especially if I can actually understand the lyrics. We often play music, but I don’t make soundtracks.
    What do I listen to? If I’m playing CDs, then we have many to choose from: classical, Jackie Evancho, Il Divo . . . if it’s vinyl, then it’s Julie London.
    Why? Because they’re familiar, because I enjoy them, because they make my heart smile . . . .

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    1. Nothing like hearing a favorite song, right? xox

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    2. Thanks, Joan. Interesting and a bit creepy!

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  2. Congratulations on 19 Souls. Sounds intriguing and I love the name of your PI. My first thought was what were his parents thinking, my second, oops, he's fictional.

    We laugh about music at our house. My husband claims to love both kinds, country and western, but he can name any classical piece he hears, even snippets in old movie soundtracks. I'm rock and roll, from the 60s and 70s please. When it comes to writing though - dead silence is necessary.

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    1. Oh, Kait, what a wonderful reaction--guess he felt real to you!

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    2. Hi. Kate.
      There’s a story to that name. Takes a couple of books to get to the bottom of it!

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    3. I'll be there, JD, who could resist.

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  3. Kudos on the new book and the launch of a new series, J. D. It sounds like a lot of fun.

    I don't suppose anyone here on Reds will be surprised that I'm a soundtrack kind of writer, but that didn't happen because I work for the world's best wind band. I actually got over that whole "I can't write if there are lyrics" thing way back in the days when I wrote commercials for a country radio station. There was always music--with lyrics--in the background, whether I wanted it or not. If there wasn't, something had gone terribly awry. So I learned to find my words, and ignore their words. These days, with fiction projects, I almost always find music to put me in the right mindset, whether that turns out to be Saint-Saens' Symphony no. 3, with its grand, crashing organ, or the west Texas zen of The Flatlanders. Music takes me where I want to go.

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    1. Isn't it amazing how that works? Because of a deadline, I had to write once at a picnic table on the lawn at Tanglewood, with the BSO practicing Rachmaninoff on the stage. Luckily, I was in a fight scene, and I have to admit the experience was pretty great. But at home, it doesn't work.

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    2. I do better with background noise when I write, but need the story of the song for inspiration beforehand. I have a friend that needs loud chaos. She writes with her three kids around, boggles my mind.

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  4. First of all, congratulation on the 19 SOULS. I remember both the Nancy Sinatra and Cher version of Bang, Bang. Boy, women had some hair in those days, right? I did too, but not so much now. Ha! Music - I will admit that I am much more into audiobooks these days, but I do have a playlist that is my 'comfort' list. I listen to it when I'm anxious (like on a plane sometimes). My daughter could always do better with her homework when she was listening to music. Me, not so much. So I guess I'm a silence person. And we live in the land of country and western (both kinds of music) too! LOL

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    1. I used to try to convince my mom that I could ONLY do my homework with music. She did not buy it. :-) But, like your daughter, I insist I am right!

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    2. Kay,
      Not just the hair.... those costumes!,, And she can still pull them off. I bow to her,

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  5. Congrats on the book, it does sound quite intriguing and something I'm sure to check out!

    I love music so I do tend to listen to it when I do writing or just driving in the car. And of course while I'm at work. Sure sometimes I'm not in the mood to have music playing but most of the time I want something on.

    As for what I listen to, well it is a mixed bag at times. I grew up to The Statler Brothers greatest hits doing Sunday morning chores as a kid. That morphed into 80's Top 40 music courtesy of American Top 40. Then came the true musical love of rock and metal music.

    So I can go from country to pop to the greatness of Iron Maiden and Savatage.

    My love of music extends to going to concerts and writing about it. I write CD and concert reviews for KNAC.com (an online radio station based in California), plus I do CD reviews for a message board called Classic Rock Bottom. Those reviews cover stuff that doesn't fit KNAC's format.

    I also write a series called The Cassette Chronicles for Limelightmagazine.com. I carry a bunch of CDs to work every day and take stuff in the car with me as well. I listen to music on vinyl, cassettes and CDs.

    I DO NOT DOWNLOAD MUSIC!

    So yes, I love music.

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    1. Thank you, Jay, for not downloading and, by extension, not pirating. Musicians need to make a living.

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    2. You are our go-to guy for music, Jay!

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    3. Gigi, well I'm an old fashioned fuddy duddy. I pay for my music. I'm acquaintances with some musicians and have met a lot of others so I know how important it is. My brother on the other hand...

      Hank, I wouldn't say I'm the go-to guy. I just know a lot because unlike everyone else here, I have no life.

      By the way, I thought it was only celebrity deaths that came in threes, but apparently concert touring finales are the new "comes in threes".

      First Neil Diamond retires because of a Parkinson's Disease diagnosis, then Slayer announces their farewell tour and then comes a three year goodbye from Elton John.

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    4. I also pay for music. My husband, a professional photographer, has battled theft of his photos for decades, and both of us are writers, too. I know how hard it is to get paid for intellectual property, and how easy it is to steal it.

      Back when our two youngest kids were in college I was horrified and appalled to find that both of them were downloading music and movies. We had a little talk about that.

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    5. Jay.

      I pay for music, movies, and books too. I’ve been known to dress people in public for pirating.

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    6. Karen,

      Glad you had a talk with the kids about the pirating. I'm not opposed to receiving free books in the form of the ARCs I get to do reviews but otherwise books, movies, TV and music are all paid for not taken.

      J.D., I don't interact with enough people in real time to have a chance to dress them down publicly but I'm glad you do.

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  6. I am squarely in the NO-SOUNDS-other-than-the-keyboard-clicking writing camp. But I can relate to this. Love that song and now of course it's going to be in my head all day. Along with These Boots are Made for Walkin'... and Half Breed.

    Congratulations on 19 Souls, J.D. I think getting into the head of the villain is a he challenge so this makes a huge amount of sense to me.

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    1. Yeah, I've been singing it for days now...sigh. .HOw about Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves? Yeesh.

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    2. Half Breed!!!!!! Definitely in the listening to music camp. On a Joni Mitchell jag at the moment, soon to be interrupted by Cher. This Cher/Tina Turner duet of "Shame Shame Shame" never fails to cheer me up if anyone needs a three minute break today:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnHBO9FY4Ic

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    3. Thanks for the link, Wendall... Those two, to die for.

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    4. Hallie.
      I did end up in a deep dive back into Cher through the process. She is an amazing woman. And Bang. Bang. Is in my head often even this long after writing the book.

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    5. Bang, Bang is a great song indeed, but like Hallie and Hank, I am a no-soundtrack girl. Once I'm done writing, absolutely. But I need silence when I'm at my desk. Even neighborhood kids playing down the street is too much for me.

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  7. My reply seems to have been shuffled off as spam by Blogger again.

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    1. Did you write something else, Jay? we see your comment! Let us know what's happening...

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    2. I didn't write something else. My original reply would not show up when I went back to the site about 1 hour after I posted it. Tried reloading etc, didn't show up. I have no idea. Crazy darn technological terror!

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  8. Wow, sounds like you did an amazing job of getting inside the mind of Sophie--love hearing about how the song led you directly inside. I can't listen to anything, period. So easily distractible it isn't funny.

    Would love to hear more about the book--and also, what it's like to be chair of Bouchercon!

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    1. Yes, I'd love to hear about that, too, Lucy!

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    2. Chair of Bouchercon is a privilege and an exercise in herding cat! Lol. Really...they are an amazing group of people who work hard volunteer hours to make the convention the best it can be.

      P.s. You can read an excerpt of the book on both the amazon site and Midnight Ink.

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  9. What a fun idea, to use old songs as inspiration. And, oh, yeah: Half Breed. Cher at her best. More books to add to Mt. TBR!

    Like Hank, I can't have music with words, but some of my best writing--the automatic kind that takes place in the "zone"--was done with a background of piano music, no lyrics, by two different artists. Later, I found that the soundtrack of the movie Shakespeare in Love was also good for writing.

    When we travel by car, which we do at least three times a year, we have discovered audiobooks, although it's not easy to choose one we'll both enjoy. However, it is handy to have Sirius stations. We both like oldies, and Steve, bless him, doesn't care if I belt along with the songs, since my fool memory holds song lyrics like nothing else. He remembers a lot of the artists, although sometimes we're both surprised who sang certain songs.

    Driving to classical music would put me straight to sleep!

    Chair of Bouchercon. Yes, I want to know more about this, too. Sounds like a Herculean task. Or Sisyphean!

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    1. OH, I sing too. Pitiful! But yes, so agree, WHY do I remember all the lyrics, and not anything important?

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    2. I love audio books when traveling. One of my favorite readers does the Johnathan Graves books by John Gilstrap. So good.

      Anyone can volunteer for a bouchercon at the local level. Then you’ll get a better picture of the National level..

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  10. Huge fan of BANG BANG, huge fan of JD ALLEN, and a huge fan of 19 SOULS. Enough said...for now.

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    1. Tease, much Kristopher? Love to you as well!,,

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    2. HANK here: Oh, that sounds..promising! And yes, he is SUCH a tease!)

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  11. Thanks for a really interesting take on music and writing. Good luck with the book, JD!I'm a no-music writer. If it has words, it's a distraction. If it doesn't, I get into the writing and don't even hear the music. BUT. I am a terrible typist. Terrible. So both spell-checking and proofreading by eyeball are important, tedious parts of the process.Music gets me through! Could be jazz, classical, Broadway, old folk music (I dig out my Ian and Sylvia discs), power women ( Bonnie Raitt, Melissa Etheridge, and yes Cher of course) Almost anything except mid-century rock and roll,my husband's endless car music.

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    1. You’re welcome, Triss. Love me some Bonnie Raitt.

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    2. I used to be a huge fan of Melissa Etheridge. I've seen her live four times and even had invites to an aftershow party she held after finishing up a two night stay at Great Woods in Massachusetts years ago. I like her earlier stuff and still listen to that but kind of went away from her later material.

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  12. I enjoy music but enjoy it most of all on road trips. When I am home it is soothing. I listen to Leonard Cohen's music daily since it gives me hope.

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    1. HANK here: Oh, yes, he was wonderful. I love that the music lives on.

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  13. J.D., 19 SOULS sounds fascinating! Did you know there's an entire genre of fanfiction called "songfic" consisting of stories written around a song? Some are inspired by the mood, and others use the song as a plot skeleton. It's fascinating to me to see two ubiquitous aspects of our daily culture - pop music and TV/movies - join together to form a third kind of art form.

    As for me, like a good Episcopalian, I follow the middle way. I sometimes write to music, but only classical. Nothing with words! On the other hand, I listen for songs that remind me of characters and events in my work-in-progress, and I often have a playlist for each protagonist. It's kind of fun to be driving Youngest to school (and from school, and to rehearsal, and to a friend's house, etc, etc.) and hear one of Russ's songs. Or Hadley's song. It keeps my characters in the forefront of my mind.

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    1. What kind of playlist does Russ have? Inquiring minds want to know!

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    2. I have a romance novelist friend who started a series from the country song, The House that Built me.

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    3. Ahhh J.D., I love me some Miranda Lambert.

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  14. I'm an "it depends". I have written several books to soundtracks, but they've revolved around music. Otherwise, I tend to find music distracting when I'm writing--unless I'm in a coffee shop and then I like it as part of the background buzz. Hmm, this has me wondering if the book-in-progress should have a soundtrack...

    JD, good luck with the book! It sounds terrific!

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    1. Churned out a lot of words to Starbucks white noise.
      Thanks for the well wishes!

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    2. HANK here: Yes, why is writing in Starbucks just fine? That's a puzzlement...

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  15. Hi, JD! Welcome and congrats on 19 Souls!

    I go back and forth: sometimes having music while I write is great, but sometimes it's a distraction. I build playlists for our auto trips, typically based around a couple of artists plus a lot of other stuff that feels compatible. I love all sorts of music, especially jazz and R&B. My wife is an old folkie, so we do a lot of switching back and forth--whoever is driving gets to choose. So we go back and forth between traditional tunes on hammered duclimer and Earth Wind & Fire. I can listen to my favorite jazz albums (Kind of Blue, Further Definitions, Digital Duke, Turn up the Heath, many others) over and over. At home I listen to a fair amount of symphonic classical music, but the changes in volume are a bit much for the car.

    I'm with Jay and others on not stealing music. Physical media are certainly getting less popular, though--when I bought a new car last year I had to wait a few days for the dealer to find me one with a CD player!

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    1. Ducilmer? When driving? ZZZZZZZZzzxxxxxxxzzzzzz. Lol

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    2. HANK here: Oh, Jim, we love folk music, too!

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    3. It’s lovely but probably not for my books.

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    4. Jim Collins,

      Physical media may be less popular but it will never fade for me. I don't own a reading device or any kind of music playing device that would require me to visit the iTunes store. AND I NEVER WILL!

      I love that you had to wait to find a car with a CD player. I have a loaner car right now while mine is in the shop. And it's got all these bells and whistles, but I can't even figure out how to turn on the radio.

      When people ask me what my dream car is my answer is always "Whatever gets me from Point A to Point B and back again...with a CD player."

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  16. I'm not so organized as to make playlists, but listening to a particular type of music can put me in the mood for a particular character. And if I need energy, I have old standbys of rock like Areosmith for that.

    But the best synergy I ever had was needing to write a fight scene. I put on the soundtrack to Pirates of the Caribbean. The swashbuckling sounds were a perfect backdrop.

    I need to buy new headphones so I can zone out again.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. Sounds like a great soundtrack for fight scenes. I’ll have to try that one!

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  17. I'm just back from YouTube where I had to acquaint myself with "Bang Bang," the earlier versions and the live concert extravaganza. Cher really is a "go big or go home" kind of woman! Thanks for the introduction, J.D., and congrats on 19 SOULS. It sounds like a great read.

    I don't like to listen to music while I work, although if the task is more administrative than creative, I may listen to classical. Like Lucy, I find it too distracting. I'm fascinated by the idea of having a soundtrack for one's WIP or a particular character, but I fear figuring that out would send down another distracting rabbit hole!

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    1. This made me laugh but it's true. Creating a soundtrack would just be one more way - I have a long list - to procrastinate and call it work. Uh, like being here instead of in my WIP?

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    2. Ingrid.
      You know, the music seems to find me as I go. I don’t actively creat the soundtrack.

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    3. HANK Here: You know, I think Alafair Burke makes soundtracks. And she's certainly doing something right!

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    4. Ingrid, Classical music?

      So much for that headbanging, devil horns throwing rocker chick image I had of you.

      Just kidding!

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  18. Congratulations on the new book.

    I can't imagine listening to music while writing, while reading, or while doing anything else except maybe cleaning house. Or driving. It is pretty much classical all the way in this house although we do make excursions into classic rock. And we consider the Beatles as we do the trinity. Holy. Plus Ringo.

    I have trouble reading, much less writing, unless it is perfectly still and I am completely alone. Is it my old brain I wonder? I can concentrate on precisely one thing at a time. Period.

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    1. Used to be that way, but deadlines and goals made necessity the mother learning of writing in public.
      Thanks for the congrats!

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  19. Congrats on the new book!

    I'm another "it depends" person. I can't listen to most music and write--my ADD kicks in and I start singing along or wanting to dance a bit. But I do love Cusco CDs--South American music with lots of flute and pan pipe music that provides lovely subliminal inspiration. Works well with writing fantasy. And no music while reading--again, too much distraction.

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    1. As a dyslexic, music while reading is impossible. Even white noise type music. Weird.

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    2. HANK here: Music while reading? Impossible. Impossible! But my husband does it all the time.

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  20. Congratulations and best wishes on the new book. When I listen to music especially R&B I escape from life and enjoy the interlude.

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  21. I'm a no music reader. Music distracts me. I have piles of CDs I throw in the car to play as the mood hits me. Lefty Frizzell, Merle Haggard, The Chieftans, Il Divo, and Queen are the current pile riding in the back seat. I don't like modern jazz or rap. My style of jazz is what Satchmo sang and played. Prince and ZZ Top and Les Miserables may be riding around with me next week!

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  22. Your style sounds as eclectic as mine. Listening to Jonny Cash last night, Taylor Swift today.

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  23. 19 Souls (love the title!) sounds terrific. I will look for it, J.D.

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  24. Kudos on the new book and a new series! J. D., I love the name Jim Beam. Does he hang out with Old Granddad? Sorry, I couldn't resist.

    Your book sounds like one I want to read. I also sometimes use a song to put me in the mood to write a particular scene in an novel. I used Led Zeppelin's 1975 "Kashmir" to help me with a dark/dangerous/urgent scene, and it worked.
    Good luck to you J.D., hope this new book takes off and is a runaway seller!

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    1. Haha, Saacer. He uses that kind of comment to help him judge people! You’ll have to read to get the low down on the name. Thanks for the well wishes!

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  25. I'm so looking forward to 19 Souls in February, so soon to be upon us. I love the cover of the book, and being from Kentucky, I wholeheartedly approve of the name Jim Beam.

    I admire those who can write and read listening to music, but I just can't. On rare occasions, I can have some soft jazz in the background while I read, but too often I get into the beat of even that and become distracted. I am in awe of those authors who compile playlists for their books they write.

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    1. See his name in Bean. Not Beam. It’s part of the book too!

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    2. Oh, so sorry, J.D. I was looking Sasscer's post where she had Jim Beam and thought that was the name. I should have checked back to your post. Always glad to have the correct info.

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  26. Congratulations on 19 Souls! Sounds great!

    I'm also in the no-music-while-writing camp. I may not need absolute silence, but definitely not anything with lyrics.

    On the other hand, I'm almost incapable of housecleaning or organizing my office or any task of that nature without some kind of music blaring. And like everyone else, it's either an audiobook or music or switching back and forth on any road trip. I think my tastes may be even more wildly eclectic than those mentioned already. There's a series by the jazz pianist Claude Bolling where he paired with classical artists (Yo Yo Ma, Jean-Pierre Rampal, many others) for titles like "Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano" or "Suite for Violin and Jazz Piano" that I adore, and I own most of them on CD. My most common radio station is a contemporary country one. My most often visited Spotify channel is Reggae. Paul Simon's Graceland is a go-to for me, too. And of course, I love classic rock -- the soundtrack of my youth. I love Bang, Bang, and Half Breed, but Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves is probably my favorite old Cher song.

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    1. HANK here: WOW! We are sisters in every way. I love that Bolling/Rampal record. (Record?) . And Graceland.

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    2. Thanks, Susan. I love to crank it up to house clean!

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  27. Very excited to check out 19 Souls, J.D.! I love the premise. As for music, sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. I find movie scores help when I can't get the emotional quotient I need but then again, I require silence to write dialogue or I get distracted. Loved reading all of the answers to this debate. Clearly, I am Switzerland.

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    1. I’m excited too! Hope you get a chance to check it out. And Switzerland is a great place to be.

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  28. I have always had music in the background but now I find when I am doing any sort of brain activity (thinking?) it's a big distraction. In the car, yes; doing housework, big yes!
    But I love when an author has a character listen to and talk about what certain songs mean for them. That tells me the author really knows that character.

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    1. You get some of this creepy woman’s musical taste in there.. and she wants to know that of him as well.

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  29. Just for kicks, since everyone else is listing some of their musical inspirations or writing must listen to artists, here's what I have in my bag right now:

    Ozzy Osbourne
    Riot
    L.A. Guns
    Fates Warning
    Snakecharmer
    Jack Russell's Great White
    Gary Hoey
    Thunder
    Pride of Lions
    Target
    Joel Hoekstra
    The Dead Daisies
    Sabaton
    Accept
    Don Barnes
    Babylon A.D.
    Whitford/Holmes

    And I will be stunned if anyone here knows even five of these artists. Most of these I've done reviews of as well.

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    1. Oh, I've only heard of three of them! Yeesh.

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  30. AND the WINNER . is Judi! Contact me at h ryan at whdh dot com with the subject line "won 19 SOULS!" And I will send your copy instantly! Hurray!

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    1. Congrats, Judi!!
      Hope you enjoy it.
      And thanks to Hank and the Jungle Red ladies for hosting me this week!

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