Lost Art of Second Chances, music, Writing

Book Soundtracks

Last week, I talked about music that I listen to during the drafting process. Usually, when I’m drafting, I listen to instrumental music. Lyrics just confuse the issue.

Writers use a whole bag full of tricks to wrestle their stories onto the page. I’ve tried all kinds of things over the years—free writing, Artist’s Pages, collage, casting…the list goes on. One of the tricks that consistently works for me is to create a soundtrack for the book. Because they are not usually instrumental songs, I usually use the soundtrack to keep my head in the story while I’m away from my keyboard, not when I’m drafting it.
The Lost Art of Second Chances is a dual narrative. Lucy’s story is set in modern day but Bella’s story covers from the mid-1930s to just before the opening of Lucy’s narrative in the present. That’s a lot of musical ground to cover. Part of both Lucy and Bella’s narratives are set in Tuscany.  Just as I started writing Lucy’s story as my 2011 National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) novel, I found Jim Brickman’s Romanza CD. With one exception, it’s instrumental. I played this album a whopping 57 times during the drafting process.
I also made a playlist for Bella and Lucy’s story. In the final draft, their chapters are more or less interspersed. I wrote them independently though—Lucy’s story in 2011 and Bella’s in 2014.

These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You) by Frank Sinatra
Always Something There to Remind Me by Naked Eyes
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy by Bette Midler (I know the Andrews Sisters did this originally but I had the Bette Midler version)
Dreams and Disasters by Owl City
A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square by Harry Connick, Jr. (Just like Bette, this is the one I had)
There You’ll Be by Faith Hill
Give Me All Your Luvin by Madonna
Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive by Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters
Sway by Michael Buble
Crazy for You by Madonna
Moonlight Serenade by Frank Sinatra
Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi
That’s Amore by Dean Martin
Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and the Comets
Your Love by The Outfield
Mr. Moon by Dick Hyman (from Moonstruck Soundtrack)
We Don’t Need Another Hero by Tina Turner
Surfin’ USA by the Beach Boys
In the Mood by Glenn Miller
Shooting Star by Owl City
Save the Last Dance for Me by Michael Buble
La Vie en Rose by Louis Armstrong
Put On Your Sunday Clothes by Michael Crawford (from Wall-E)

Lucy and Jack are a second chance at love story. They were teenagers in the 80s so I chose the Madonna, Bon Jovi, and other 80s hits to reference their high school experiences. As I was also a teenager in the 80s, this was a bit risky because I have my own associations with these songs. Still, they remind me of being in high school and work for me.

The Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble, and Glenn Miller definitely harken back to the WWII era, which is just passing out of living history. Rock Around the Clock and Surfin USA connect to specific scenes in the novel and parts of Bella’s life.
I add to the soundtrack throughout the writing process as I find tunes that are appropriate.
What do you think? Any songs I should add?

music, Writing

Writing with Music

Do you write with music? I love to listen to music as I write but only instrumental. Lyrics are too distracting to me as I capture the story. I do use all kinds of songs in my story soundtracks but I don’t typically listen to those while writing. Those are more an out-and-about to keep my head in the story when I can’t be at the keyboard.

I’ve always been told that I have eclectic taste in music. My husband and I combined all our CDs into iTunes years ago. Between our widely varying choices and Fox’s kids music, I think our iTunes is perpetually confused. At least, I’ve never had very good luck with genius playlists. So, as a result, I’m always on the hunt for new writing music. I thought I’d share some of my favorites and new finds with you today. Next week, we can talk about story soundtracks.

First up, some favorites:

The Boston Pops. My mother is from Boston and both she and my father love the Pops. My sister and I grew up listening to them. We even saw them in a holiday concert a few years ago. If they ever come back to DC again, I’ll be there. My favorite non-holiday Pops offering is the Celtic album. But, how can you go wrong with the Pops? All the albums are great.

Celtic Album

Jim Brickman. Some of his radio hits do have lyrics or are piano covers of pop hits that my brain supplies the words for each time they play. Can’t remember the name of the person I just met or the title of the book I want to buy but song lyrics are all in there. I also saw Jim Brickman in concert which was an excellent show. Some of my favorites albums by him are:

By Heart NoWords Unspoken

I’ve also recently discovered Brain Sync and have the ones for focus and creativity. They seem to work very well. I did need to purchase headphones for those because listening with earbuds so long was hurting my ears. I got these Sony ones for less than $20 and they work great.

Soundtracks can be a great choice for instrumentals. Some of my particular favorites to compose to are:

Pirates of the Caribbean


Pride and Prejudice (BBC) and the Kiera Knightly version too.

P&P1 P&P2


How to Train Your Dragon


Harry Potter:




The Lost Art of Second Chances includes a World War II storyline so I’ve been listening to a lot of WWII era music. Glenn Miller is the perfect accompaniment to writing the war time scenes. I especially love In the Mood and String of Pearls.


I also just discovered the Piano Guys. How great are they? Their newest album just came out last week and went right on my Christmas list. They have several other albums and I’ve had those on nearly non-stop as I race to the finish line on The Lost Art of Second Chances.



How about you? What do you listen to as you write? Got any suggestions I should try out?



Becoming a Writer, Writing, writing challenge

Writing Challenges

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is one of the biggest writing challenges of the year. The concept behind Nano is to write 50K words in a month at a breathtaking pace to outrun the inner critic and editor. At 1,667 words per day, there’s no time for anything but the words. I’ve done Nano multiple times and won twice. It’s a wonderful, if exhausting, experience.

nanowrimo FB cover
I’ll definitely sign up this year and be writing at least part of the month. We’re going on a long-awaited vacation during Thanksgiving week and I’m pretty sure that Fox and the Pilot would object to me typing through it. Also, it happens to fall at the editing rather than drafting point in my process this year so…we’ll see. If I get though The Lost Art of Second Chances, than maybe I’ll start something new.


While Nano is the biggest and probably the best known writing challenge, my favorite is the monthly one on Twitter at www.writingchallenge.org  I’ve been using it to write Bella’s story in LASC.


The concept is simple. Write 500 words per day or edit for at least one hour a day and tweet your results using the monthly hashtag. This month is #octwritingchallenge. Because participants are supposed to check the hashtag and root their fellow members on, the community is supportive and fun. I also like that it addresses not just the drafting process but also the editing time needed to whip a manuscript into shape.

October marks my second month participating in the challenge. If you’re writing or editing your masterpiece, come on over and join us!