Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Guest blogger: Kristi Gold

You Ain’t Just Whistlin’ Dixie

Dear Playfriends,

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I’m thrilled to be back at the Playground for a visit! And in case you’re wondering about the title of this blog, I’m not here to discuss Southern sayings, (although my great-grandmother’s name was Alabama Safronia Brown who hailed from—you guessed it--Alabama). I’m going to talk about music, and the aforementioned title, which happens to be a song performed by The Bellamy Brothers, is among my favorites.

First of all, I have very eclectic taste when it comes to my choice in music—from country to classical and quite a bit in between. Secondly, music has been a part of my life since my mother sang to me as a child. I’ve always marveled over songwriters who manage to convey a story complete with emotion using very few words, when it takes me hundreds of pages to do the same, if I’m lucky.

That love of music seeped into my creative endeavors years ago when I began my first book. I would stick a Jon Secada cassette into the home stereo (remember those?) and write away. Later, I progressed to CDs, portable players and eventually to listening on my computer. With the advent of music downloads, my life is now so much easier. In fact, before I begin a new story, I set up a playlist that carries the same title of the book (before the title changes, as it almost always does). Invariably one of those tunes becomes a “signature” song for the book. I wrote a gothic romance for Silhouette Desire called House of Midnight Fantasies with the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack playing in the background. Wicked Game by Chris Isaak pretty much summed up my hero in my most recent release, His Best Mistake. And Love, Look What You’ve Done to Me by Boz Scaggs somehow always ends up in every playlist as inspiration for love scenes. However, if I’m not careful, I accidentally choose some ditty by mistake that can take me right out of the story. Try writing a hero’s pivotal declaration of love during I’ve Got Friends in Low Places. And don’t get me started on the comments I’ve received from my kids because in my enthusiasm I’ve broken into song. Wearing headphones. I can’t carry a tune under normal circumstances.

On the cosmic front, I’ve actually discovered a couple of those signature songs after the fact. Over a dozen years ago, I began a book that I put aside for another project. A few years later, my daughter turned me on to Sarah Mclachlan, at which time I came across her song entitled Full of Grace. The name of my book? Fall From Grace, that I finally finished and sold a decade later. The lyrics hauntingly conveyed the story. Like I said, cosmic. But then again, I feel there is something very magical about music.

In my experience, I’ve met more than a few authors who--like me—use music to inspire. I even have one friend who made me listen to Pachebel’s Canon in D (her story’s signature song) in it’s entirety before we walked into the post office to mail our manuscripts (which were both subsequently rejected although I don’t blame Pachebel). All that said, I’m always interested in learning if any authors out there find music too distracting. Any readers who listen to music while they read? Any particular song remind you of a book or vice versa? This curious, tone-deaf, music-loving author needs to know.

Again, it’s great to be here!

P.S. Kristi's latest book, His Best Mistake, is on the shelf now from Harlequin SuperRomance. You can comment today and be in the drawing for a free copy. You can learn more about Kristi, her backlist and her take on alpha heroes at her website,


Smarty Pants said...

Morning, Kristi! Welcome.

I love music and I am very much affected by it. The wrong song can change the whole mood of what I'm writing. At the same time, the songs don't always make sense, but somehow they fit the characters.

When no song suits, I listen to a creativity cd with instrumental songs. I have to have some noise.

Playground Monitor said...

I can only listen to instrumental music when writing -- usually that same creativity CD Smarty Pants has. I got some new CD's this week that have stuff for relaxation, sleep, healing, awakening, meditation and creativity. I'm going to see if it will jump-start the muse.

When I wrote my book for NaNo I stumbled across "So Close" from the movie Enchanted. It was the signature song for that book. But now I can't listen to it without sobbing.

Welcome back, Kristi!

Marcy said...

Hi Kristi,
Although I have a signature song for the ms I'm working on, I can't listen to ANYTHING while I'm writing. I'm too easily distracted, I guess.

Kristi Gold said...

Morning, everyone, and who stole spring from Texas? I hopped (fell) out of bed to a rather chilly morning. But I did rememberto wear green--my fave thermal shirt embroidered with PePe Le Pew and Penelope-gotta love those silly skunks. Not that I'm in danger of getting pinched by anything except perhaps a bra strap.:)

Marcy, I do know a couple of people who are like you and need full concentration when they write. In all honesty, I have ripped off the headphones if a scene isn't working and the music's becoming more interesting.

PM, my sister scored her entire manuscript to instrumental music and it's almost always an integral part of my playlists. And SP, I know exactly what you mean about songs that don't always make sense. Sometimes I listen to one just because it gets the creative juices flowing, not because it relates at all to the story.

Just for grins, here a couple of my favorite highly-recommended instrumental movie soundtracks: Cold Mountain, Somewhere in Time, Pearl Harbor.
I'm always open to suggestions,too.

And if any of the above lacks in coherency, I stayed up until after 4 a.m. sprinting (belly crawling) toward a deadline. I could use some coffee administered through and IV.:)


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hey, Kristi. I get where you're coming from; I do EVERYTHING with music on. Except maybe ride my bike, but that's because I'd rather not get hit by a car...

No need to enter me 'cause my TBR's out of control again. I'm really dropping in to let you guys know I've posted this at Win a Book. Thanks for the e-mail -- and the links!

PC's Mom said...

I can only listen to music I'm familiar with when I'm reading. Otherwise, my ADD brain is too busy listening to the music and I end up having to re-read the page.

Kristi Gold said...

Thanks for stopping by and posting the link. And let me just apologize now for the glaring typos in my last post due to sleep deprevation. Guess that's why they invented coffee and copy editors.:) And I agree that bike-riding and music don't mix in heavy traffic.

I also concur, PCM, that listening to music while reading can be a huge distraction for me unless it's completely in the background. Apparently my brain functions in two different realms when it comes to reading and writing. That is when it's actually functioning.:)


Anonymous said...

happy st patricks day...

would love to read this fabulous book...thanks for the chance

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Liza said...

Hi Kristi! I'm a reader only, and listen to music all day at work and when I read(sometimes tv is on in the background). I know at work, the music becomes more like background noise and it helps me focus more.

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

Angel said...

Ah, music. One of my favorite things to inspire creativity. Each of my characters has their own theme song, which I've talked about on the blog before. I listen to them over and over to get myself in the character's line of thinking. The words as a whole don't always apply to the character, but usually most of them do and the mood of the story fits. If that makes any sense.

That being said, once I start writing, I stop listening to music. Instrumental only from that point on. And I can't listen to it through headphones, because that is too close, too distracting.

Some friends and I were talking yesterday about music and how, when writing away from home, the music is distracting in some places, and not so much in others. For instance, I can't write in a Starbucks. I can edit there, but not write, because they play music, with lyrics, too LOUD. Drives me crazy. But the cafe where my sister and I do write out plays music, with lyrics, and usually gets really crowded and loud at lunchtime, but it doesn't bother me. It's like I don't even hear it. There's also 2 food courts at malls in town. One of them I can't write in, the other doesn't bother me at all - even though its loud.

Go figure.


Kristi Gold said...

Thanks for stopping by, Karen, and good luck!
Music helps me focus too, Liza. And if I'm reading and ignoring HGTV, then I know it's a great book.:)

Very interesting stuff, Angel. I guess whatever works best is the best way to go. I do wonder if the auditory vs. visual thing influences habits when it comes to music. I'm personally very auditory as opposed to visual. I can't take notes in a workshop (couldn't in school, either) because I a) can't read my writing and b) absorb much more just by listening. Of course, now that I'm getting older.... I don't think I want to go there.

And while I'm on the auditory subject, has anyone heard of a program that reads your text in several different languages? Someone mentioned it at the last RWA meeting but I didn't catch the name of the software. Might be kind of fun to hear your hero speaking French.:)


Vicky said...

Hi Kristi,

And yes, I'm the Pachelbel fiend who made you stay in the car until the Canon finished playing.

For me, music is like stimulus/response behavioral psychology. The minute I put on the Bose sound cancellation headphones & crank up the iPOD, my sluggish brain cells light up like a Xmas tree with one word: WRITE.


Chloe said...

I love the music from Phantom of the Opera! I can understand why you could write a gothic romance listening to it. I love all sorts of music but I can't read while music is playing because it distracs me.

Playground Monitor said...

Geez, Vicky. Is this something you learned to do or is it a habit you developed. I'd give anything to have my brain cells screaming "WRITE!"

Kristi Gold said...

Hey, Chloe! Nice to see another Phantom fan.:)

A quick question, Vick. When your daughter marries, is she going to use the Canon? If so, I predict some major sobbing. And promise to leave the church even if it's still playing after the ceremony. Otherwise, you might miss the reception:)

And Ms. M, don't feel alone. Right now my brain is only screaming SLEEP!

Problem Child said...

I'm tardy, but I'm here! But I've been a good writer today and spent all day (okay, most of the day) head down in the WIP. And yes, I do have music playing.

I can't do music with lyrics or else I'll get distracted, but I have a wide selection of instrumental (and I never listen to them unless I'm writing. I'm hoping to eventually train my brain to *write* when it hears instrumental or New-Agey music. Like Pavlov's dogs :-))

Today I've listened to my Creativity CD so much I'm over it and moved on. Now I'm listening to "Bach Meets the Beatles" which is a really cool rendering of Beatles songs in the style of Bach. (With no lyrics, of course!)

Thanks for being here, Kristi! It's been a while!

Playground Monitor said...

Now see... I can't write to an instrumental version of something I know the words to. Even if it's a Bach-type version of the Beatles, I'm going to be singing "Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away" and that defeats the purpose.


Roxann Delaney said...

Ahhhh, music! A big YES on writing to music...or anything else. Specific songs have sparked ideas for scenes and characters, both. Right now it's Foreigner's Until the End of Time that defines the hero to a T.

We used the Canon in D at my oldest daughter's wedding. Beautiful! (She let me pick the music.) For anyone who isn't aware and loves the theme song from Somewhere in Time it's Variations on a Theme by Paginini. I have 3 different copies of it. *grin*

And the playlists continue to grow.

With words, without words, music soothes the savage...muse. ;)

chey said...

Happy St Patrick's Day! Thanks for the chance to win.

Kristi Gold said...

I'm glad to be here, PC! Thanks for the invite and congrats on being a good writer today. Wish I could say the same for myself:) The Bach/Beatles concept sounds interesting. Another to add to the list.

Rox, you've got me beat. I only have two versions of VTP. I just remembered the soundtrack to Out of Africa also has some fantastic music to write by.

Since the day is waning(along with my mind) I just wanted to say a big thank you to the Play Friends for having me and everyone who took the time to stop by and visit. I truly feel at home when I'm on this fabulous Playground.

The best to all!