The Music of Memories in December
I can’t write in a vacuum. There always has to be some kind of noise around me, most often, music. If you asked me about my process, I’d confess it’s kind of like a crack addict. I feel the need wash over me, and I grab my laptop, my iPhone, a pair of Bluetooth headphones and blast music while I pound away at the keyboard. I don’t stop until satisfaction fills that empty space in me. While I never plot a story, I do create a musical playlist before I start writing, and I add to it as I go along or as a song strikes me that I feel adds an element I hadn’t considered before.
I start with theme songs for the main characters. These particular songs will help me create personalities, backstory, and emotions for the players. After I have those, I layer in happy songs for the lighthearted scenes, sad songs for the blacker scenes, poignant songs, and so forth. You’d think with “December” in the title, the playlist I created while writing this story would be full of Christmas tunes. Guess again.
Here’s how the playlist for Memories in December looked (with links if you’d like to sample songs you’re unfamiliar with or play along at intervals in the book to see if you can figure out how they fit):
Siobhan’s theme: Hunger by Florence and the Machine
Althea’s theme: It’s Got to be Real by Lisa Stansfield
Jimmy’s theme: Often by Robbie Williams
Justin’s theme: Be My Mistake by The 1975
Lou’s theme: Out of the Blue by Vertical Horizon
Additional songs for mood, setting, and characterization (in no particular order): Perfect by Jon McLaughlin, Beneath Your Beautiful by Labrinth with Emelie Sandé, Crazy by Kat Dahlia, Apocalypse by Cigarettes After Sex, This is Me (from the Greatest Showman) by Keala Settle and ensemble, Black and White Movies by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Newborn Friend by Seal, Sand In Your Shoes by This Providence, Snap Out of It by Arctic Monkeys, Wear Me Out by Skylar Grey, Cry by Angie Aparo, The Age of Aquarius by The Fifth Dimension, Born Bob Dylan by The Veronicas, Out of Reach by Gabrielle, Haunted by Poe, Thursday by Jim Croce, Every Other Man by He is We, At Last by Lou Rawls and Dianne Reeves, Out of My League by Fitz and the Tantrums, Anna Sun by Walk the Moon, Buttercup by Hippo Campus.
See what I mean? Not a single holiday tune in the mix. Check out the songs. See if you can figure out what song played when I wrote a particular chapter. For example, The Age of Aquarius inspired this little scene in Chapter 3:
On my wedding day, I walked toward my groom in an ivory-colored Gunne Sax dress to hide my little belly, a floppy Scarlett O’Hara-style hat with sunflowers around the brim, and bare feet. I’d always dreamed of an outdoor wedding in a field of daisies and butterflies. An elementary school’s football field was the closest we could get on short notice. Instead of the daisies, we were surrounded by star jasmine, their peachy perfume wafting on the humid air. My butterflies were mosquitos, whose drone created a steady buzz in my ears. Archie wore his army fatigues with a single sunflower pinned to the point of his collar. The shoulder-length shaggy hair I used to love to run my fingers through had been shorn off nine weeks earlier when he’d first come down to Fort Polk for basic training.
No family had taken the trip to Louisiana with me, so my father wasn’t there to give me away. Mom and Dad were less than thrilled with their daughter being in the family way without the benefit of marriage, which, I argued, should have made my wedding a relief and a time of celebration for them. But, no. I’d shamed them unforgivably, so I was on my own. My maid of honor turned out to be the girlfriend of Archie’s best man, a squad mate he’d met in basic. The newly wed Mr. and Mrs. Archie Bendlow spent one wedding night in a local Holiday Inn off the interstate, then he was back on base to continue infantry training and I drove home to New York alone. Well, not entirely alone. Baby and me, ready to take on the world.
Not bad, right? I hope you’ll enjoy the eclectic variety of music that got my creative juices flowing! If you’re on iTunes (I’m not a fan of Pandora or Spotify), I can share the playlist with you. Just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Publication Date: November 7, 2019
Siobhan Bendlow is struggling with her recovery from an eating disorder and the financial downturn of her photography business. The last thing she needs is to become the sole caretaker of her wacky grandmother. Especially since the man of her teenaged dreams, Jimmy Vais, has moved back to town, newly single and available. So has his pesky younger brother, Justin. One Vais is fun, but juggling two is a problem.
Althea Bendlow may be in her seventies now, but she still craves all the things she wanted in youth: joy, comfort, laughter, and happiness for her loved ones. If gaining the latter means performing some matchmaking magic for her only granddaughter, she’s up to the task. As long as her own past doesn’t keep distracting her, in the form of Captain Lou Rugerman, a man who meant the world to her for one night only.
Welcome back to Snug Harbor, where the memories of a lifetime can become the dreams of tomorrow…
**easily read as a standalone!!**
I kill houseplants. There. Now you know one of my greatest shames. I'm not boasting. I just figure that if you're reading this, you're looking for more than how wonderful life is as a writer. You get enough of that elsewhere. Ditto for political rants, how to lose thirty pounds in a week, and creating gorgeous crafts with nothing more than twine and soup cans. My goal is to connect with you, dear reader, even if you're not a writer, not a New Yorker, not a mother, not a female. We're human (unless one of us is a spambot), and what we have in common is flaws. So here are a few more of mine:
I sing all the time. I sing songs most people don't know--jingles from television, crazy stuff I used to listen to on Dr. Demento, Broadway and movie soundtracks, and I can even bum-bum-bum through instrumental music. I sing in the car. In the shower. While I'm grocery shopping. And I headbop while I sing. When I'm not singing, I talk to myself. Just ignore me and move on. You get used to it after a while.
I don't eat my vegetables. Seriously. I only started eating salad about ten years ago, but I'd still rather have a cookie.
Given the option, I would live in a mall where I would never have to worry about freezing temperatures or too much sun. I'm extremely fair-skinned and could burn under a 60-watt light bulb.
I can't sleep without background noise so the television's on all night. If it's too dark and too quiet, all I have are my thoughts. And even *I* don't want to be alone with my thoughts.
Don't ask me to Zumba, line dance, or march in the parade. I have absolutely no rhythm.
I color outside the lines. Not because I'm a rebel, but because I suck as an artist. My artistic ability is limited to being able to draw Snoopy sleeping on his doghouse. And I don't even draw that well.
Regrets. I have more than a few.
My favorite activity is sleep, and I'm pretty good at it. I don't clock a lot of hours, but I can powernap like a Persian cat and rejuvenate within ten minutes.
I consider shopping and dining out excellent therapy for anything wrong in my life.
My feet are always cold. Always. My husband of more than a quarter century claims it's because I'm an alien sent to Earth to destroy him. (He might be right about that.)
Coming to my house for a visit? Unless you've given me plenty of advance notice, be prepared. My floor will not be vacuumed, there will be dishes in my sink, and I only make my bed when I change the sheets once a week (I'm climbing back into it ASAP. Why make it?) Housecleaning is not high on my priority list. Okay, to be totally honest, it's not on the list at all.
I can resist anything...except ice cream.
Since this is our first date, I figure I've revealed enough secrets for now. But if you've read this bio and think I might be the author for you, pick up one of my books or stalk my website: www.ginaardito.com.
Two $15 Amazon gift cards
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!