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.

 

Acapella Elvis

Acapella Elvis

 

All hail the king!

Okay, I’ve been a huge fan of Elvis Presley since childhood. And while I love so many of his songs, my all time favorite has to be Can’t Help Falling In Love.

One of my favorite new music groups is Pentatonics.

And when the two came together about a week ago…♥

So tell me, what classic song would you like to have redone by what new musician or group? Let me know in the comments down below.

Grammy-bound!

Grammy-bound!

by Xio Axelrod

Next month, the music industry will descend upon the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles to celebrate what they consider to be the best releases from the last year. There’s always some controversy, but opinions are subjective. And like belly buttons, everyone has one.

One of my favourite bands, twenty one pilots, performing one of my favourite songs from 2016, “Heathens” – a Grammy nominee. [Read more…]

Music To Make My Brain Work

Music To Make My Brain Work

I’m often asked if I listen to music when I write. And the answer is a definitive YES! But what kind of music I listen to varies by the task I have in front of me.

Editing, for example, can ben done while I listen to music with words. I have several stations programmed on Pandora like Maroon 5, or the Imagine Dragons. Even the Doobie Brothers. I don’t mind the familiar music while I’m tweaking and perfecting.

If I’m creating, I need something that’s purely instrumental. Again, Pandora has several options for me. Cello Concertos, Piano Sonatas, or my current favorite, a station named Requiem for a Dream (I found the last extremely helpful when writing a battle scene).

But for those days when I really have to crunch the the words, I log into my Brain.fm account, opt for the Focus section and really go to town. The Binaural tones truly blocks all other noise out and lets me write up a storm (today’s word count in about 2.5 hours was 3200. It really works). Check it out when you have a chance. I’ve even used the sleep option on those nights when I can’t seem to shut my brain off.

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Auralgasm

Auralgasm

by Xio Axelrod

Hey again! The last time we spoke, I was at the tail end of a period filled with travel. Yep, I saw more airports bathrooms in 2016 than I ever want to see again. *ahem*

T’is the season for hanging out with good friends, eating good food, and listening to good music. Okay, so, not all holiday songs are kind to the ears, but there are a few gems out there.

carolers

One of my favourites is O Holy Night. I’ve heard, literally, dozens of versions of the classic hymn, but none have struck me as deeply as this haunting rendition by Nils Bech. The string arrangemet is gorgeous on its own. Add Nils’ ethereal falsetto on top, and it produces and auralgasm. Check it out!

No, your ears aren’t deceiving you. It wasn’t in English, but you already know the words. Right? At least the chorus, lol. Amazing, isn’t it? I hope you enjoyed it.

Wishing you and yours a lovely holiday season!

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Duran Duran, I Love You

Duran Duran, I Love You

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 07.21.41Yesterday was Duran Duran Appreciation Day and somehow I missed it. I am not sure how this happened. I was a teenager way back in the 1980s. Yes, I am showing my age and that’s okay. I still remember the first time I heard a Duran Duran song–it was “Hungry Like the Wolf” and we’d only just got MTV at my parents’ house in West Philly, but I hadn’t seen the video yet. My dad was the keeper of the remote control and he wasn’t interested in music videos. No, I *heard* “Hungry Like the Wolf” on the radio. I can’t remember the name of the station–maybe it was Hot Hits WCAU FM? I just remember experiencing insta-love with the song and trying to figure out when I could buy the album even though I’d only heard that one song.

Well, once I actually saw the video I was hooked. I know I wasn’t alone. I think every girl in school was gung-ho for Duran Duran, and we all had our favourite band member. I was partial to both Simon Le Bon and John Taylor. 🙂 How many of my teenage dreams were fuelled by “Hungry Like the Wolf”? Probably too many.

At some point I remember going to Plastic Fantastic, the record store that used to be located on 40th Street in University City, and buying my coveted copies of Rio and Duran Duran. I was such a Durannie that I bought them on vinyl *and* cassette (which was perfect since I could listen to them on my Walkman). Later that summer, I bought the Duran Duran video album. I think it probably corrupted me. 😉

My parents shipped me to Virginia for the summer and Duran Duran came with me. I converted a couple of my cousins to Durannies, listened to “Save a Prayer”, “Hold Back the Rain” and “New Religion” non-stop, screamed along to “Planet Earth” while in the shower and generally drove my grandparents insane. In between reading books I probably shouldn’t have been reading at the time (it’s what happens when you find your aunt’s copy of Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying), I was trying to write my own short stories and singing along to Duran Duran. It was the soundtrack of my summer.

Of course, I wasn’t *just* listening to Duran Duran. Around the same time, I ‘d discovered WKDU, Drexel University’s radio station and they’d introduced me to the Psychedelic Furs, Black Flag, the Sex Pistols, Kraftwerk, Joy Division, the Cure and Echo & the Bunnymen. Somehow, I managed to get my friends on Spring Garden Street to listen to some of the same music I was only just finding out about. In between listening to LL Cool J, Run DMC and Schoolly D, we were also digging Duran Duran and the other new bands from Europe that college radio was introducing me to.

Fast forward to the mid-1990s. I was in Richmond, Virginia working on my master’s degree and suddenly, after a few years of somehow not listening to Duran Duran, I heard Simon Le Bon’s voice singing “Ordinary World”. It was the first song from the new period of Duran Duran that I loved since “Land” and “I Don’t Want Your Love” from Big Thing.

I was working on my thesis and babysitting, trying to earn a few extra bucks since my assistantship was definitely not helping me make ends meet. I loved “Ordinary World” from the moment I first heard it. It ended up being the soundtrack for my thesis. I am pretty certain that at least two of the short stories in my thesis were inspired by the video, if not the song.

Now fast forward again and Duran Duran are still making music that creeps into my life and gets stuck in my head–and yes, I love it. “Come Undone” inevitably ends up on playlists for my new writing projects, as does “Pressure Off”. Their music is still inspiring me as I write and I still adore them.

How do they do it? They keep reinventing themselves and staying relevant. They never do the cheesy “80s Night” tours or cruises that some other bands have had to do. Whatever magical elixir they’ve found, I am willing to drink it down as long as they keep making music that ignites within me and keeps me feeling inspired, carefree and bedazzled.

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My Affair With Fall Out Boy

Last fall, I was taking a walk through the neighborhood. I had my Imagine Dragons station on Pandora, the weather was a cool 68 degrees. Pretty much a perfect day. I’d even chosen a alternate route for the day; I turned right out of my drive, instead of left. Maybe that’s what made the difference. Usually, when I walk with music, I don’t pay as much attention to the words as I do to the cadence. But that day. I heard the words of “Centuries” by Fall Out Boy.

Video Credit: Vevo

“Some legends are told

Some turn to dust or to gold

But you will remember me,

Remember me for centuries”

I remember getting chills as the idea for a new series gripped me and wouldn’t let go. I increased my pace to a jog, my mind racing more quickly (I’m not a fast runner. Well, really I’m not a runner at all). I had to get home and put the thoughts on paper. Because this series, about finding inspiration, was going to be great. I also spent an hour or so on You Tube listening to all their music, looking for whatever other inspiration FOB could lend.

And all because of one song I have four books written in this new series. That’s all it takes really, to find inspiration. Simple words, or pictures (We won’t discuss my idea based on an album cover from the late 70s). And now, any time I hear anything by FOB the volume goes up and I dance with a wide smile on my face. And I always listen to words now when I’m walking or driving, or just sitting on my deck enjoying sunshine.

What song inspires you?

Go-to Tunes

Go-to Tunes

Go-to Tunes

We all have playlists — for working out, primping for a night out, relaxation, driving, etc. But do any of your songs cross over? 
Here’s a song that pulls double duty for me: “Eye of the Tiger”.
I’ve seen the Rocky movies countless times over the years. Maybe there’s an extra affinity because he’s from Philly and he’s Italian…I don’t know…but I like them.
This song works not only for working out (it’s on my running and kickboxing playlists), but it’s also background music when I’m writing or editing against a deadline. If Rocky can run through South Philly and up the Art Museum steps (if you come to Philly, you HAVE to run up those steps!), and can train like crazy in all sorts of weather, then I certainly can bust through whatever task is at hand and pound it into submission. 😀
 
For your viewing pleasure, here’s Jensen Ackles from Supernatural lip-syncing the lyrics. Enjoy 😉

And one full of Rocky highlights:

What are some of your go-to tunes?
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Why Music and Books Rock!

Why Music and Books Rock!

girl lying on grass and relaxing with book and music

Credit: Depositphotos

by Carrie Elks

For me music and books go together like… Fred and Ginger, Gin and Tonic, um songs and words? Anyway, whatever the best comparison is, that’s what turning on the stereo and settling back into the sofa with my Kindle in my hand means to me.

When I was a kid this involved the mix tape (remember those?) For those of you under the age of *ahem* 35 or so, this curious thing was the forerunner of the iPod (remember those hehe?), and involved hours of trying to cue your record player up with the tape recorder, pressing pause whilst simultaneously trying to put the needle on the vinyl, then swearing profusely when you only realized halfway through the record that you’d forgotten to hit the record button.

Thankfully, nowadays things are so much easier. In our house we’re fully connected, able to operate the stereo from an app on our phones (it’s a Sonos system, for those of you that are interested) and play either something from our extensive music collection – all digital of course – or use Spotify.

I have to admit I’m a late convert to the Spotify app. At first I thought it was just a way to access music, but I’ve found it offers so much more. Click on the ‘moods’ offering any day and I can find the right playlist to fit how I’m feeling right then, or even better, I can match my music to the emotions of the book I’m reading. They also have playlists that change daily, from Monday Motivation to Feel Good Friday (which I’m listening to right now as I type this blog – go Bryan Adams!), and these usually contain a mixture of oldies but goodies, plus a few more modern tunes to mix things up.

Of course, it also gives me a chance to catch up with the latest releases, in order to impress my teenage children. I have to admit feeling a certain sort of smugness when I can sing along with their favorite hits, making me the coolest mom in the town. Okay, I’m lying completely here. They’re nothing but embarrassed when I start to sing, but hey, this is my blog and my fantasy. Give me a couple more seconds and I promise not to shame them any more.

One of the best playlists I’ve found for when I’m reading a heartbreakingly emotional romance book is the Most Beautiful Songs in the World playlist. I’ve put a link to it below. The next time you pick up a book, switch on the stereo and decide to shut out the world, I recommend this one!

 

Creating a soundtrack…for a book?

Creating a soundtrack…for a book?

by Xio Axelrod

Forget Tomorrow features an embedded soundtrackA soundtrack for a book? It’s not really a new thing, but it isn’t done often. It seems like we may be seeing it more and more, though. Pintip Dunn’s debut release Forget Tomorrow was released with embedded audio. (Gorgeous stuff!) And Stephen King has been known to add music to his books from time to time. [Read more…]