A Little Background Music, Please


April 2020  

A Little Background Music, Please

Or, as Sebastian said in The Little Mermaid, “we got to set de mood.”

Studies have been done resulting in the perfect background music to help students do their homework, to help people sleep better at night, and to stimulate the senses. But have you ever selected music for your novel?

When I was researching a scene in Book Two of my trilogy, I needed a duet for my main characters to sing together at the old piano forte in Wales in 1899. I mentioned it to a friend who was very into music (and like me, very Irish), and she pulled up a Welsh (Gaelic) folk song that sounded perfect, called “The Maid of Llanwellyn.” As luck would have it—or God’s perfect timing—I found a copy of it recorded by Kate Rusby, an English folksinger. It set up a contrast in my turn-of-the-century parlor and suited the country, the times, and the theme. Playing the CD in the background, I rewrote the scene until it brought tears to my eyes. And it was good.

If I’m cleaning, I like to put on music with the moves—like Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music, White Boy” or James Brown’s “I Feel Good” or my all-time favorite, The Temptations with David Ruffin doing “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.” And if I’m reminiscing about the one who got away? Dan Fogelberg’s “Longer Than” or Savage Garden’s “Truly Madly Deeply” or (if I really want to wallow) “So Sad The Song” by Gladys Knight. If I want to sing along (not very well, but my heart’s in it), then it’s John Denver— “Country Roads,” “Sunshine On My Shoulders, or “Annie’s Song.” And if I’m in a thinking mood? Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” or Jesse Cook’s “Gravity.”

My play list is varied and covers all colors and moods, but I always see what I write like a movie, whether it’s a short story or a novel. And movies have background music. So, I try to “set de mood” by picking music that fits the moment. Put a CD on and WRITE!

Thanks for walking through the corridor with me.




The Mindkiller


March 2020  

The Mindkiller

My son is a Dune fan, big-time, so I’m familiar with the phrase “fear is the mindkiller.” But, be honest. Don’t you think everyone will remember March of 2020 as “The Year of the Pandemic”?

That one month seemed to last forever. No one knew what was happening, what was going to happen. We still don’t. Like everyone else, I’m hoping we’ve made it through the worst part. As a writer, I’m surprised no one wrote a novel called “The TP Wars.”

The first week was the worst, when there were long lines and empty shelves, but I see it as a wake-up call for our over-indulgent society. I believe we’ve learned a lot about what does and doesn’t matter. Institutions we considered infallible simply closed down. While President Trump may be right in seeing Covid-19 as a war-time enemy, it’s been my experience that a war creates jobs; it doesn’t demolish them. And, while businesses might recover, I share a lot of my friends’ opinions that nothing will ever be the same.

Given what we’re going through and may yet endure, being fearful or anxious is certainly understandable. Matthew 6:27 says, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Again, feeling anxious is normal, but don’t let the stress level reach a point where you can actually feel your blood pressure rising. Celebrate your ability to take a deep breath, and pray for those who can’t. You won’t be of much use to yourself or your loved ones if you let fear destroy you, so be serious but calm. I’m amazed at how polite, how generous people have become in the stores and on the streets — more so than before Covid-19 became a reality.

Maybe it’s true, and everything we know will have changed, but what if it’s a change for the better? And if we come out of this, as I believe we will, what could it hurt to celebrate life? Wouldn’t those who’ve loved us wish it so?

Thanks for walking through the corridor with me. And we will make it through this.