Walking my way into spring

Walking my way into spring

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

It may not look or feel like it, but it’s spring in Sweden. The sun is rising a little earlier and setting a little later every day. The sky doesn’t always look like that pale and frigid shade of blue that signifies winter. Whenever I go for a walk, I try to remember to take my headphones with me so that I can listen to a little music along the way.

I hardly ever listen to the radio anymore so I never know what are the latest or hottest tunes these days. So what am I listening to? Some oldies but goodies.

I am not a big Natasha Bedingfield fan, but “Pocketful of Sunshine” does get me walking at a great pace and it sure does put me in a good mood.

 

I still LOVE INXS and “Dancing on the Jetty” has been stuck in my head for days.

 

And a little Jill Scott never hurts, especially when it’s “Golden”.

What about you? What are you listening to?

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Sounds from the Stage

Sounds from the Stage

I grew up watching musicals, raised on Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. You name it, I watched or listened to it. My mom loved them (my dad… not so much). And the soundtracks, whether original cast recordings or special guest stars, were magical. I have a ton of them in my collection and they turn my car into my own personal stage. You can’t be in a bad mood or get annoyed with a traffic jam when singing along with “By Jeeves” or “Love Changes Everything”. 🙂

Les Misérables accompanied my high school years. The drama and feelings were real when singing along with “On My Own”. (My absolute favorite Marius was Michael Ball. That man can sing anything at all and I will buy it.)

And then, and then, came Phantom of the Opera. “Think of Me”, “The Music of the Night” (Can we all just take a moment to appreciate Michael Crawford’s voice there?), and “All I Ask of You”. O-M-G. Love.

Cats, Aspects of Love, Chicago, Sunset Boulevard, Rent, Evita, Wicked, Avenue Q, A Chorus Line, Hamilton, the list goes on and on, I could talk about (read: gush over) music and lyrics F-O-R-E-V-E-R.

With growing up watching people in movies and in plays randomly breaking into song, I’d like to end this post by saying that I was pretty disappointed when I realized that most people in real life — aside from my theatre-loving friends — did NOT do that too. I still think this should be a thing that everyone does. 🙂

Nightcall

Nightcall

Imagine the story you are about to write will be made into a movie (we can dream, right?) and this song will be on the soundtrack. What’s your song?

Mine is Nightcall  by London Grammar for the adaptation of Tattooed Hearts.

When I was writing Tattooed Hearts, “Nightcall” was on constant repeat. The opening line of the first verse I’m giving you a nightcall to tell you how I feel . . . created so much suspense.

The song captured the mood of Tattooed Hearts. The lyrics told my characters story.

Almost every morning with my coffee on my desk, I’d put on my headphone, listened carefully, and tapped into those emotions—joy, sadness, triumph, love, regret. The lyrics would swim through my cerebral cortex, like a wakeful dream as the words poured onto the blank pages.

Whatever the song made me feel at that time, I’d write the scene that conveyed that same emotion. Each verse captured so much tension,  they embodied Forrest’s and Claire’s anguish, the betrayal that tore them apart, the lies that destroyed their dreams, and the love between them that remained unforgettable. Immeasurable.


There’s also a scene when Forrest watched Claire—the love of his life—performed LIVE for the first time. Her voice carried a level of sadness, a longing, drugging everyone as she sang each word of “Hopeless by Dionne Farris.

She covered “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls,

Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds,

and “Ordinary Love” by Sade

I’m one of those authors who have a playlist for each of my novels. While I prefer to write in complete silence, once in a while I come across a specific song that moves me and my imagination. The lyrics fit the scene, touch my characters. And I just can’t help but channel that song into inspiration.

Check out Tattooed Hearts  playlist and perhaps one of the songs may take you back to a time in your past; mine that memory for inspiration and write about your own experience.

XOXO

Word Soup

Word Soup

 

This is my inaugural post on The Spice Aisle (yay!) so I figured it might make sense for me to introduce myself. I’m Nia Forrester, and I write what I like to call ‘romantic realism’. I use that label because think it’s important to set clear and honest expectations for your readers up front. And since I break a lot of the rules of the romance genre, I never want folks to start one of my books expecting one thing, and then be crestfallen because they get something else entirely.

But enough about that. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time during my run on The Spice Aisle to bore you with details about my “process.” This time though, I want to talk about my relationship with music. ‘Dinner Music’ sounds so polite, so it’s actually kind of funny that I’d get assigned to this feature because: the music I like most in the world, and which inspires me creatively is probably the least polite in all the world. Hip hop. That’s where I find my brightest sparks when looking for ideas.

What inspires me about that genre is the absolute rawness of it, the realness of it, and the word-soupy-ness of it. Hip hop artists pay attention to rhythm, rhyme and cadence above all else. And to do that, they use words in unconventional ways, and sometimes even make words up. They’ve changed how we use language in ways that even literary fiction writers–those connoisseurs of the written word–have not managed to do.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Like … what are they even saying, right? But the fearlessness of their creativity is undeniable, even if you hate hip hop … I don’t have to like what you create musically, but I’ll always love the creativity itself.

For someone who loves words as much as I do, but is sometimes frustrated by my inability to make them convey the mood and feel I want to communicate, I really dig it that the really talented hip hop artists are brave enough to do with words all that I cannot. Well … at least not yet.

Love & Light,

Nia

P.S. I lied. I actually do know what they’re saying. So if you’re curious, hit me up and I’ll send you the lyrics. 😉

 

Getting all holly and jolly

Getting all holly and jolly

Sorry I am a day late posting–I was so busy writing the end of Near Enough to Hold, I lost track of days. 🙂

When I was in college, I worked at the Gallery II in Center City. To be more precise, I worked in B. Dalton’s in the Gallery II in Center City. I loved working in a bookstore, I hated the crappy pay. The benefit? My employee discount on all the books I could ever want. I also worked one year as an elf at a local department store at Christmas to earn a little extra money. Being an elf wasn’t always fun. Small children can be very naughty and their parents can make you wish you’d learned the Vulcan Death Grip when their self-centredness knew no bounds. The upside? The pay was good. The downside? Dealing with screaming kids, an itchy uniform and the constant rotation of Christmas carols. It was nonstop Christmas carols from November 1 until December 31. I was convinced I’d go postal if I heard Wham’s “Last Christmas” one more time. Now add to this the hysteria of stressed beyond belief people buying gifts they don’t really want or need and you can imagine how decidedly unfestive I was that year.

 

It took a while to get over my anti-Christmas carol sentiment. Nowadays, I can’t wait until I can begin listening to Christmas carols. I even have a favourite Christmas carol. Well, I actually have two. 🙂  One is “Carol of the Bells”; the other is “Up On the House Top”.  Both remind me of growing up in Philadelphia.

 

All I have to do is hear these two songs and I am transported back to being a kid out Christmas shopping with my dad, sitting on the floor by the eagle in John Wanamaker’s and watching the Christmas Light Show, and dreaming of what presents would be waiting under the tree for me. It’s been years since I spent Christmas in my hometown of Philadelphia, but hearing those two songs gets me all holly and jolly and brings the wonder of Christmas in Philly back to me in an instant. Hmm…now I am hungry for an open-faced turkey sandwich from the Amish deli counter in Reading Terminal…

What about you? Which Christmas carols are your faves?

Writing to the Beat

Writing to the Beat

Whenever I start a new writing project, I select a new playlist. After spending months with my hockey and baseball players, I was returning to my rock stars.

But when it came to the music, I was coming up empty. I didn’t have a playlist.

Aaahhh! (Cue the panic button.)

Usually, selecting music for my playlists is easy. (Often, it’s a single song on continual repeat.) But I couldn’t find the right mood. I know a lot of that had to do with other events in my life that were draining my energy and pulling at my attention. And writing under those conditions is super hard. I needed some inspiration–FAST.

And so, I turned to Youtube.

In this book, my rock stars are going on tour, so I searched out some live concert inspiration. And here is a sample of what I found:

Have you heard Babymetal singing with Rob Halford (of Judas Priest) at the 2016 APMAs? Dude, it’s awesome. I love everything about it.

I am enjoying the Foo Fighters’ new Concrete and Gold album. And I so loved this clip, from the 2017 Summer Sonic festival, where they brought Rick Astley on stage:

And then there’s Guns N Roses from their Not In This Lifetime tour, singing with Pink:

And one more. This one’s a little older, but I love it. A duet with Amy Lee from Evanescence and Lzzy Hale from Halestorm:

I’m happy to report that these, along with countless other live performances, helped a lot.  This book’s playlist is pretty eclectic, but it’s rejuvenated me along the way. Music has the power to inspire and to heal, and I’m grateful it did both.

I’d love to hear your suggestions on other bands I should check out.

 

Every Little Thing He Did Was Magic

Every Little Thing He Did Was Magic

From Sting.com

I’ve had a lifelong crush on Sting…first when he was with the Police and later when he launched himself as a solo artist. His harmonics and lyrics have always fascinated and surprised me. He isn’t afraid to experiment with sound and rhythms. Some of his boldest work has been his least acclaimed, but they’ve been CD I listen to over and over and over again.

Here are two of my favorites.

Songs From The Labyrinth was performed on a lute. Songs that told a story of life and love in the 16th Century. Tales of courtly love, and allegiance and intrigue.

An album dedicated to Sting’s favorite season, according to his website. “If On a Winter’s Night… presents an arc of songs that conjures the season of spirits, resulting in a haunting, spiritual and reflective musical journey.” Soul Cake on this album is maybe my favorite.

I still remember when the Police hit it big. Their music was revolutionary (Who can forget Roxanne or Message In A Bottle), at least to my way of thinking. And I know it made for hours and hours of great listening. Even still today.

I know I listened to If On A Winter Night on repeat while writing Hate, the 5th book in my Goddesses of Delphi series. Even though it wasn’t Christmas time. The haunting, soulful melodies helped set the tone for me on several crucial scenes. BTW – Hate releases today. I probably should have dedicated the book to Sting. LOL

That song…you know the one I mean

That song…you know the one I mean

I keep getting songs stuck in my head. When it happens, I can become a bit obsessive with said song and need to hear it multiple times per day. It happens to all of us, right? I am reminded of an episode of Married with Children when Al Bundy is trying to remember a song but he can’t recall any of the lyrics or the song title…just the melody, which he tunelessly shares with anyone he thinks will listen. No one knows what he’s talking about, not even the guy at the record store who knows everything. At times, that’s how it is for me. I tell the hubster about a song, he doesn’t recognise it, I insist he must surely recognise it, hum it for him, he smiles and shrugs.

Yesterday, there were a couple of songs stuck in my head. It took me all day to remember the title of one of them, but I didn’t bore anyone with the usual game of “What’s That Song Called?” So what’s stuck in my head this week…?

 

 

 

 

So what about you? Which songs are stuck in your head?

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Battle Music

Battle Music

I am in the process of editing the next book in my Paranormal Romance series, and there is a riot scene in the heart of the book. I enjoyed the research, actually found the videos I watched informative. But when it was time to write the actual scene, I struggled to find the correct way to string the words together. The words wouldn’t come, because the last place you’d ever find me is in the heart of a demonstration or riot. In this case, I’m just not a joiner.

After a couple of false starts, I turned on my Games Of Thrones Pandora station and it was smooth sailing from there. The song selection helped channel the emotion and sense of threat I wanted to convey. Here are a couple of examples:

Here’s another amazing offering I discovered on the station. This really helped focus the emotion I wanted in the scene. It builds to a great crescendo.

And there’s this – did you know if you search YouTube for ‘angry music’ you get and incredible assortment of powerful and threatening options?

I don’t write angry things very often, so it was nice to find some options to help me through. But for the record, I’m an 80s woman. Give me the Doobie Brothers or The Eagles any day of the week.

 

Let’s Get it On

 

 

A lot of writers use music to set the scene. Especially when it comes to those scenes. A little musical accompaniment as you try and get your freak onto paper.

True confessions! I don’t write to music. I need absolute silence or I start singing lyrics into my hairbrush. Then the fantasy starts in my head and I’m rocking the power ballad to over 20,00 people at Madison Square Gardens. The book lies forgotten and unloved as I am suddenly adored by thousands of slathering fans as they stand enraptured by the power of my thrilling vocals.

All in all, best to turn off the Spotify and let me do this in silence. But fear not. I asked my good friend and fellow Wordy Woman, Cynthia St. Aubin for her top 10 songs to write sex by.

In no particular order she came up with this.

 

 

 

 

Make it Rain by Ed Sheehan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnhaKUBgJSE

Cry to Me by Solomon Burke https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPWCbthc9tw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And what musical list would be complete without:

 

There you have it. Cynthia’s top ten grooves to get her in the mood.

 

What would be on your list?