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The Music of Never Let Go

I write to music. We’ve talked about this before (and here and here) but I don’t know if I’ve ever truly articulated what that means. More on that below. First, let’s tackle the meat of this post: the music of Never Let Go.

It really boils down to three main songs, and then a handful of “soundtrack” songs. The most important of which is the inspiration song. This came on the radio and BAM! Two years of wondering if I’d ever write another Jake and Eve book was over. Yes, I was writing another book and this was what it was going to be about:

“Like I’m Gonna Lose You” by Meghan Trainor, featuring the amazing John Legend was the crux of Jake and Eve’s married life. They spent so many years apart that they are so very keenly aware of how lucky they are to be happy.

The scene hit me like a bolt of lighting (appropriate, I know!) Eve standing at a cold sink staring out the window thinking about how hard she holds onto Jake, loving him like she might lose him. He comes up behind her and whispers in her ear. I wrote the book from there.

But like every other book I’ve ever written, the inspiration song is just that: inspiration. I don’t actually write to the song. This is what I actually listened to while writing:

It’s this verse in particular

I’m a hold my cards close

I’m a wreck what I love most

I’m a first class letdown I’m a “shut up, sit down”

that screams “Jake” to me, but there are so many more lyrics in this song that make it his story through and through.

And what has happened with every single book I’ve ever written? (about halfway through writing) I hear a song that stops me dead in my tracks. THIS SONG is THE SONG!!! It is the story I’m writing and everything I feel when I making words! I fall in love and listen to it like a broken record until I finish writing. For Never Let Go, it was this song:

“This mess was yours, now this mess is mine,” is the heart of Jake and Eve’s story, more so in this book than the other two. “You’re the reason that I feel so strong, the reason that I’m holding on.” *dies* “Mess is Mine” is the song of Never Let Go. Period.

To listen to my entire Never Let Go soundtrack and hear all the music that inspired the book, visit my Spotify Playlist here.

So, at the beginning of this post I mentioned that I don’t just listen to music when I’m writing. I don’t simply find inspiration in songs. I swear I have this out of body experience when it comes to music. I always have. For as far back as I can remember. I see entire stories when I hear a song. The music may only last for three minutes, but in my head it is so much more. A few lines become entire backstories. Entire worlds. I can see hundreds of pages of context from that one song.

Before I could write, I would act out these stories by dressing up. I would force my poor sister to play along. Elaborate sessions of make-believe were all carried out to a soundtrack. Namely Olivia Newton-John, but there were others.

When I got older I realized I didn’t want to act out these stories I saw, I wanted to write them (I just didn’t have that tool when I was younger.) The first time I was taken away and wrote an entire book to a CD was the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack. I would put on my headphones and listen for hours, making up books in my head.

It isn’t any different today, except that I actually do write entire books based on the stories I see in my head after listening to a single song.

These are the songs that transported me to the world of Jake and Eve in Never Let Go. I hope it helps transport you into their world as you get ready to read their final book. Let me know what you think of the songs and the book (out May 24th, 2016!)

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The Kids Are All Right

School is back in session! This means a couple of things. Number one: I have a regular work schedule again (thank the heavens above!). Number two: I know my kiddos are in good hands for the rest of the school year. Yes, I’m happy to report three solid months of worrying who their teachers and classmates would be has resulted in good placements for both of them. (Because it is clearly a 1:1 correlation between my hours spent worrying and the results that had nothing to do with it.)

I’m busy working on TEMPT3 this week! Here is a look at the music, food, drink, and television helping me get this work done!

Music:

Music inspiration for the week comes courtesy of Imagine Dragons covering Taylor Swift’s Blank Space mashed up with Stand By Me. The singing starts around 1:30 and it is so freaking fantastic!

Food:

I’m using one of my staple go-to moves to get through the week: crock pot chicken breasts.

What is this, you ask? The simplest of hacks! I slow cook a sheet of chicken in the crockpot for about 6 hours (along with one cube of chicken bullion and 1 cup of water). When it’s done I shred the chicken and use it for: quesadillas, chicken salad sandwiches, nachos, chicken tacos, Asian chicken salad, and… chicken. I typically get 1-2 dinners and up to 2 lunches out of this (depending on how much chicken I actually cook and how much we stuff into the quesadillas). Which means that I get two days worth of cooking out of one crock pot. Winner!

Side note: this freezes very well. I divide them up into quart-sized freezer bags in the amount I need for another meal and freeze! Voila! Thaw in the microwave for quick use, or pop into the fridge the night before/morning of. Easy peasy.

Drink:

This week is brought to me by Smithwicks! I love this beer, but it’s not something I like to drink all the time. A six pack every few months satisfies my craving!

Television:

The Anne’s are binge-watching Sons of Anarchy! Yes, we’re a decade late to the game, but we are totally hooked! I was skeptical after the first couple of episodes, but DANG does this show hit its stride after that! Jax’s speech to Tara did me in and I’m so hooked it’s not even funny. The complexity of the characters is what sells this show. I’m excited that there are so many seasons to watch!

All right… I should probably finish writing this book! Thanks for stopping by!

Imagine Dragons and Old Manuscripts

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This weekend Nate and I went to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. We go every year, stroll around the World Showcase, hand in hand, drinking and eating our way around the world. We try to go at least once without the kids, and once with. Since we were alone, we took the car. My old car (and Nate’s current car).

I say my car because I still love that thing. I bought the car for the engine. It is a fantastic engine. I giggled maniacally when I test drove that baby. And so, to this day, when we leave the house without the kids, we take the car.

And drive fast.

With the music up. Because what I didn’t fully realize back then, was that my car has a badass stereo. The kind that blows the clothes off women (to quote a movie we both love). So here we are, flying down the highway toward Epcot with the music blaring. If you couldn’t guess from the title above, that music was Imagine Dragons. One of our all-time favorite bands.

We yelled at each other over the music, suddenly reminiscing over what each song meant to us, and that reminded me of how we found Imagine Dragons in the first place: I was writing my first manuscript.

I’d given myself a thirty day challenge to actually finish a manuscript. My problem has never, ever been the writing, or even story ideas. If our recent move taught me anything about myself, it’s that when I say I’ve always been a writer, I mean I’ve always been a writer. I now have two shelves in my office dedicated to the seemingly endless stream of notebooks, journals, and printouts of books I’ve written throughout my entire life. I knew I’d always been writing, but until it was stacked in front of me, I don’t think I fully appreciated the concept that I have always had a notebook on my nightstand, and that I’ve always written stories in them.

So anyway, I gave myself this thirty day challenge. And all the while, I was sitting in bed each night (and each morning) with my laptop in my lap and Pandora playing on the television. I was obsessed with Alex Clare and had it tuned to that station every time I was writing. Thanks to Pandora’s super cool algorithms, it started playing me this hot, new up and coming band: Imagine Dragons. I loved Radioactive. I still remember the day Nate came sliding into our bedroom, “This song is the theme song for Butterfly Rebellion.” I smiled, “You bet your sweet ass it is!” I’d already written several chapters to the song.

But it was this other song, Demons, that kept coming on. It haunted me. This song was my song. That first, short manuscript suddenly blossomed into a massive, thoroughly overdone hunk of junk in revisions. Because this song was haunting me. Compelling me to write something deeper, something about that fear we all have about our inner demons, and how we want to love someone without hurting them.

I still put this song on every book soundtrack. In two-ish years I have interpreted the lyrics in a dozen different ways and found meaning in so many different ways. If you ever want to know what’s going on in my head when I write a romance, listen to Demons.

Another song on the album, On Top of the World, is also super meaningful to me. This chorus in particular is what has kept me going through months of zero sales, bad reviews, and doubts:

And I know it’s hard when you’re falling down
And it’s a long way up when you hit the ground
Get up now, get up, get up now.

Needless to say, Imagine Dragons is kind of inextricably linked to my thoughts of my first manuscript and the beginning of my writing career. And so Nate and I are taking this long, lovely walk down memory lane to the music of Imagine Dragons when I realize everything that first, terrible manuscript has done for me. I eventually shoved it in a drawer and started from scratch a story called The Storm Inside. I used the bones of that first terrible manuscript, and everything I learned while writing it, to create the book that became my first novel. But most of the manuscript stayed locked away in that binder (I assumed never to be seen again).

But the thing is, all that extra stuff I wound up writing after falling in love with Demons, it was good stuff. Wrong, terribly written with a weak heroine, and an overstuffed plot line of too much drama, but good stuff, nonetheless. It kept tickling the back of my mind–I’d left too much behind.

I eventually pulled it out and rewrote that manuscript into Tease. I love the story it became in the end, but I wasn’t ready to write that story two years ago. It was something that needed time in a drawer to stew and remix into something better.

Tomorrow night, First Draught will be talking about old manuscripts. I will be remembering that first manuscript, Imagine Dragons, and everything that has come along because of them. Please join us at 8:30 pm (eastern) or on Youtube anytime afterward.

Also, the food and drink at the Food and Wine Festival was all fantastic and I can’t wait to go back with all my boys to watch Sister Hazel in two weeks!

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