Wednesday, March 22, 2006

scoring a book

I was talking to somebody the other day about music. Not in a general, "Don't you like music" kind of way, but in a "What music do you play while you write a book?" kind of way. Each author finds a different source of inspiration. Some need absolute silence. Some tv's. Some only music without words, or only baroque(my critique partner Elizabeth Grayson-Karyn Witmer).When I'm writing my books--especially the character-driven books-- I use all kinds of music. The interesting thing is, I usually find one CD and then play it non-stop throughout the whole book. My children have been known to run screaming from the house the minute "Last of the Mohicans" hits the sound system.
For my Kathleen Korbel "Some Men's Dreams", it was Nickel Creek. Over and over and over again. For my Eileen Dreyer "Sinner's and Saints", which is set in New Orleans, you'd think it should have been jazz, blues. Maybe a little Winton Marsalis or Harry Connick. Nope. Evanescence. For six solid months. If you haven't heard Evanescence, it's a dead cross between Puccini and Linkin Park. Brilliant stuff. Evocative. Rawly emotional. The soundtrack for Sinners. I tried using Braveheart once, because the music is beautiful. But I coudln't concentrate on the book, because I got so depressed. "Oh, there's where his wife dies" I think, then, 'Oh, there's where he's betrayed by the Bruce". It really interferes with the writing.
Right now I'm working on two different, but very similar projects. Both involve paranormal, and both are fairy erotic. I find that I'm using similar music, although changing a bit. For the fairy book, which right now is entitled Daughers of the Myth: Dangerous Temptation, I have a selection on the 5 disc CD changer. Two Loreena McKennitt. Nobody puts me in a celtic mood like Loreena.( And on Elemental, I get to play along on my bodhran, the Irish drum that is a very nice stress reducer) . Those are slotted between Evanescence(Never assume that you wear yourself out on only 6 months of the same CD. Especially if it's good stuff), Dave Matthews Some Devil(SO evocative for me) and Melissa Ethridge's first album(raw sexuality). It's the perfect mix for what I'm doing there.
Now for The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes, I just skip the Loreena. That's because Loreena brings a softer, dreamier edge to my work, which just doesn't work in the Miss Fortunes. So it's Evanescence (raw emotion) Dave Matthews (I have no idea, but it makes me write better) and Melissa Ethridge(raw sexuality). I also on occasion throw on a little Chris Isaacs(I did mention that I was using a lot of sensuality stuff) or Fiona Apple(read previous parenthesis).
I never know what the music is going to be until I get a ways into the book. I try a lot out, like the Braveheart. But once I'm settled, it never changes. For up to six months.
Well, it's back to work. Well, actually, the bodhran song has come up. So I'm going to whack at a goat skin for a while, and THEN get back to work.

eileen/kathleen the evil twins

Saturday, March 18, 2006

erin go bragh

Okay, so I'm really not posting exactly on March 17. You really don't think that a girl named Mary Eileen would have time on the exact holy day to sit at her computer, do you? Actually, my day isn't as wild as it could be. It's mostly a family day, where my siblings and I meet at any non-Irish establishment in the city. Non-Irish because St. Louis excells in St Patrick's Day, and none of us want to mingle with all the amateurs who are out tonight. We eat, we have a few, and we raise a toast to my mom. And then, any other day of the year, we visit the hallowed halls of any of the several pubs in town that have an O' in the name. Or a Mc. My favorite of these(and impossible to even get within a city block of today) is a lovely place in the Soulard area of town called John D. McGurk's. McGurk's is a music pub. And not a "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" kind of place. More a collecting for the widows and orphans fund for Sinn Fein kind of place. In fact, it is legendary for its music. Wherever I go in the world, if I find a music pub I would like to sing in(finding the pub is the problem. There's never a question of my singing.), all I have to do is tell the musicians that I've sung at McGurk's in St. Louis, and I have carte blanche. And there's nothing I love more than sharing music in a real Irish pub. In fact, Tess Gerritson, who plays the fiddle, and I are thinking of forming an Irish equivalent of the Rock Bottom Remainders. Now all we have to do is convince Erin Hart's husband Paddy O'Brien(one of my very favorite Irish musicians in the world--a legendary button accordian player whom I knew long before I knew Erin) to join in.
For now, though, I'll just sing to myself as I return to my lovely fairie, who have astonishingly turned into quite a randy lot. Amazing how little time it takes to get back in the habit of writing love scenes after a hiatus.
So slainte, everybody. And may I share with you my favorite Irish prayer.
May those who love us love us,
And those who don't,
May the lord turn their ankles
So we'll know them by their limping.

eileen\kathleen, the evil twins

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

a side note

This will be quick, because I'm behind on my deadline due to a rash of thunderstorms and tornadoes that interrupted my work for two long days(no, I wasn't affected. I can't remember that many tornado warnings in one day through one state, though. It was overhwelming). Anyway, I thought I'd drop in a quick note about an anthology I'm in that will be out soon. I haven't had a chance to put it up on the web page, since I'm in the middle of a redesign, and can't seem to get anything else done.
The anthology is called Deadly Housewives, and it's coming out from HarperCollins. I was asked to submit a story that didn't involve dead husbands or neighbors. As a matter of fact, the editor, Christine Matthews asked for something different. Maybe, she said, a romance, since she knew I wrote them(she didnt' know it had been four years since I'd written a love scene, but there are some things you don't share with any editor. The mantra in publishing--and acting, from what I've heard--is, "Sure. I can do that." Christine was on a time crunch and asked if I could do a 20 page story in a week. I'm happy to say that an hour later while in the shower, the whole story came to me. It's called "Vanquishing the Infidels", and it is more a fictional memoire(nods to James Frey) based upon not just my family, but my mom.
I decided that I couldn't think of anybody more deadly than that five foot one inch Irishwoman. And so I wrote of an incident that happened when I was six, and she defended me against a crazy adult who shoved me off my bike. The story is family legend, which I think should be immortalized. It is wrapped in much of our family lore. All of it true--as true as an Irish storyteller can make it. I've only changed a few names--like the English war bride down the street, and mistaken one thing. I've always remembered the final confrontation, but I always thought I"d made it up. That I couldn't have been there. So I wrote it from another point of view(also absolutely true). I found out from my brothers last week, that I was right in the first place. I was there. Go figure. But that's how memoirs go afoul...well, and the natural need to make a story as interesting as possible(the big surprise for me when I did family geneology was when the story turned out to be TRUE).
So now I go back to deadline. I'll have more on the fairy book later. Just know that I'm having one of the most fun times I've ever had writing. I just love world building! Especially since my fairies(with apologies to Nickie Hilton) are hot!
eileen and kathleen, the evil twins

Thursday, March 09, 2006

changing fortunes

So, why am I writing romance again? The truth is, I never stopped. Well, I never wanted to. I love both suspense and romance. I love to write both. Loren Estelman, a wonderful mystery\nonfiction\western writer calls moving among genres "literary crop rotation." I really like that, because you reall do use different talents in each genre.
I like suspense because I can really delve into the dark heart of the soul. I can have really, really imperfect protagonists(my favorite male lead so far is a sociopathic lawyer in Bad Medicine and Head Games. He's not a bad sociopath, he just doesn't have the moral code of normal people, and he knows it). I also love to write action scenes. In fact, I'm so enamored of them that I find myself putting them in my romances. I mean, otherwise they're just standing around talking to each other....well, almost all the time. I'm terrified my audience will get bored. But put a bullet through the window, and you can keep them busy for pages.
I like romance because I love a happy ending. I love the hope that is the message of each and every book. I love writing about relationships. And I sincerely love writing character based novels, which romances are much more than suspenses. I love romance language. If for no other reason, I'd continue to write romance because I love alliteration. And you simply can't get away with that over in suspenseland.
Right now I'm writing romance because of the vagaries of the industry. My suspense numbers didn't grow the way my publisher wanted me to. So they've asked me to put
a hold on my suspenses for a bit. I'd already had ideas for some romances, so I pitched those to my agent and my romance house--or rather Kathleen Korbel's house-- Silhouette. They said yes(thank heavens. I have SUCH student loans to pay off. The bain of having smart kids), and so I'm settling into a trilogy for them called Daughters of Myth, which used to be called Mab's Daughters until the sales department found they didn't have a clue who Mab was. Ah, well. The first of the books, still untitled, but I think sales is leaning toward Dangerous Temptation(not hugely original, but it gets the job done) to launch the newest Harlequin line, a dark paranormal line that goes by the name of Nocturne(now, that I like). It is also, by coincidence, if you've followed my Kendall series at all, the final book. Zeke's long-awaited visit with the fairies.
So I'll keep you up to date on the progress. And I'll just tell you this for now. I realized the other night that it's been four years since I've written a love scene. At first I was quite stymied. But then, I realized that (if you'll pardon the concept) all in the rhythm. It really is like riding a bike.

Eileen and Kathleen, the evil twins

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

work hours

If you read this regularly, you'll come to see that I tend to post these things deep into the night, when most of the sensible world is asleep. There's a reason for that. I'm a night owl. Always was. I used to blame it on the fact that when you grow up in a two-bedroom house with ten people, late night is the only time you can control the TV. Then it was my nursing career. My favorite shifts in the ER were evenings and nights. The very best? 5PM to 3AM. That's generally when all the fun stuff happens--and the supervisory staff at home with their families instead of getting in my way.
But when I quit to write--well, I quit because I burned out. I found myself backing a doctor against a wall with a scalpel in my hand and realized I just wasn't having fun anymore--but I was writing full time, I realized that I had no more excuses. I simply don't function in the morning. When I was still working they'd literally have a pool going to see if I showed up with my uniform on inside out.
Now, it's a simpler issue. No matter how hard I try--and believe me, when deadlines loom, I try like a trojan--the only thing that happens if I try and use the computer before at least 3PM, is I sit at the desk until drool collects in my lap. I can't even answer the phone before noon. Usually because I've been up til 4 or 5AM, and am just too sleepy to be coherent. No one in New York is allowed to call me before then. It's not that I'm surly. I just can't remember that I've talked to anyone(if my husband calls, he makes me tape a note to the bathroom mirror with his message).
I tried again today. Yes, I have deadlines, and my husband is out of town, which means my schedule is my own. Drool collected, I clutched my thesaurus like a liferaft as I struggled for words I knew perfectly well yesterday, and nothing happened. Nothing. On the other hand, it's about 1:30AM, and since Midnight I've edited two chapters and written five new pages. And I"m just getting warmed up.
So, while some of my best friends are morning people, I'd much rather bay at the moon. Or have my characters do it.