Codename WTZ: The Music

I can’t write without music.  I know, zero surprise.  But I can’t.

The first step in my writing process (after the initial idea, of course) is building a writing playlist.  For those who don’t work this way, it may seem like a diversion.  “Shouldn’t you be outlining?  Developing character studies?  Doing research?”  Yes, yes I should be doing all of these things.  In fact, I am doing them while choosing the playlist.

I write cinematically, for lack of better term.  Every scene plays out in my head like a film.  My morning commutes are often spent with my eyes closed, picturing my characters and letting things unfold–winding them up and watching them go.  Every great film has a perfect score and/or soundtrack.

In building a playlist, I am defining my characters.  What music do they like?  Do they care about music, or is it another distraction in our digital world?  Do they have anthems?  What is the main mood of each one?  Music defines that.  Music also shapes the tone of the story.  Is it dark and gritty?  Brooding with a slow build?  Is it frenetic or playful?  Choosing the music that will accompany me through a lengthy process sets the vibe of the project.

Once the first raw draft is on the virtual page, I then set out to create the soundtrack.  Writing playlists are usually 200+ songs deep–unwieldy beasts meant for a shuffle.  The soundtrack, which I share on a book’s details page,are the songs that are directly referenced by characters or set the particular vibe of each chapter.  They’re the core of the characters and their journey.  Sometimes, my favourite songs to write a project to have no set place in the final soundtrack.  Sometimes, I endlessly repeat them to get that draft done. Either way, the soundtrack is distilled to the critical pieces for the next step:  revisions.

All of this is to say that my new project, codename WTZ, is entering revisions now, and I’m very excited.  Taking a few months away from the story has given me new insights into scenes that felt rough or incomplete on first go.  It’s also given me time to hammer out the soundtrack for the journey.

So, what does a team of security guards groove to while slaying zombies and dealing with demanding corporate lawyers? Take a spin below and find out!

Does your protagonist need a pet? The value of animals in writing.

Most of us have heard about the health benefits animals can have for those who care for them.  Scholarly articles round up studies that show that pets offer therapeutic value for people struggling with depression or chronic illness, as well as soothing loneliness and isolation.  Ask any pet lover and they’ll tell you how much they treasure their companions, or tell tales of animals that simply “know” when they’re hurting.

As the owner of three cats, I can tell you about many times where they offered comfort in difficult times.  Recovering from abdominal surgery a few years back, I was bedridden and in pain.  My oldest cat, Gravity — never a lap cat, but affectionate — gently walked up to me and laid down, resting her head perfectly between my incisions so as not to cause pain, one paw stretched to gently cover the sorest spot.  A second cat took residence between my feet.  Their love was of great comfort.

We know about the power of the bond with a pet.  So why do pets seldom come up in the discussion of supporting characters?  With their lack of human language and their honesty, animals can serve several critical roles in a book.
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Meet A Character: Andrew Daniels

New to the Autumn Brody series?  Welcome to the paranormal world of Casteel Preparatory Academy’s finest.

Previously, I shared glimpses into the two women Autumn counts on for support and advice in Change Of Season.  This time, let’s take a look at the mysterious guy Autumn can’t stop running into on campus — often literally.

Name:  Andrew Daniels
Age:  18
Birthplace:  Whitby, Ontario
Years At Casteel Preparatory Academy: 1.5
Specialty Major:  Film
Visual Casting:  A young Logan Lerman

Logan Lerman

Andrew — a politically-minded Film student with a passion for documentaries — is somewhat of a recluse at Casteel Prep.  Having come to the school at age 17 after the death of his parents, he’s opened up to no one, aside from a fellow Film student and his favourite instructor, Gretchen Frey.  It’s not that he’s anti-social.  He’s just decided that it’s better to be alone with his grief than risk making connections that can be fleeting, as he’s learned from painful experience.

That is, until he spots Autumn on campus.

Andrew sees himself reflected in Autumn’s isolation.  Can reaching out to her help him with his own emotional pain?  Will she ever let him try?

What’s On His iPod?
Renegades Of Funk – Rage Against The Machine
Clap Hands – Tom Waits
King of New Orleans – Better Than Ezra
Round Here – Counting Crows
Someone Saved My Life Tonight – Elton John
Say When – The Fray
Fade To Grey – Jars of Clay
Butterflies and Hurricanes – Muse
The Fragile – Nine Inch Nails
One Headlight – The Wallflowers

Choice Quote:  “I know that someone’s hurt you deeply. I know you need to find your way through that. I’ve had to make my own journey back from hell. I just want you to know that you don’t have to be alone.”

Meet Miraj

Meet Veronica

Change Of Season re-releases in an extended edition April 8th, 2015.