The Soundtrack of Your Life: TGBOL 2.3

What follows is my newest chapter in The Great Book of Lists. Thank you to La duchesse d’Erat for this excellent challenge.

This week, we are going to dip into a dimension we haven’t written about yet : music !
But we’re not going to write about any music. We’re going to write about the music themes and songs that are engraved in our dearest memories that can evoke a memory faster than anything else, or make you feel good and giddy. What music is so intertwined with your life and personality that you can play it in your head without actually hearing it? What musical pieces remind you of a particular time in your life like it was yesterday?

The Great Book of Lists 2.3: The Soundtrack of My Life

This has been my favorite list to create so far. I could have added at least another fifty songs, but I tried to really think about the music I’d choose as the soundtrack to a slideshow of my life.

1. Kenny Rogers “The Gambler”
When I was young, a restaurant near my house had jukeboxes at every table. I begged my parents for quarters so I could sing this song at the top of my lungs. (And yes, I can still sing every word of it!)

2. Simon & Garfunkel
I grew up listening to Simon and Garfunkel songs with my parents, and I continue to be a fan. I couldn’t choose just one song, so this is a medley of hits.

3. Survivor “Eye of the Tiger”
My high school mascot was the tiger, so this song was played at EVERY event during those years.

4. Roxette “She’s Got the Look”
This became my rock climbing song. I’d get nervous before climbing, but hearing this put those nerves to rest. I don’t climb as much as I used to these days, but this song gives me that confidence boost when I need it.

5. Harry Connick Jr. “Wink & a Smile”
This is the first song my husband and I danced to at our wedding reception. It’s from the soundtrack of one of my favorite movies, Sleepless in Seattle.

6. Dido “Thank You”
This is “our song,” the one that I always think of when my husband comes to mind.

7. Jason Aldean “Big Green Tractor”
This song reminds me of my sons. They were both tractor fans when they were young and sang this song with little-boy gusto!

8. “The Gummy Bear Song”
Admittedly, this is one of the most annoying songs I’ve ever heard, but my son loves it. I can’t hear it without smiling—and then plugging my ears!


Your turn! What songs would you choose for the soundtrack of your life? Join us in the Great Book of Lists challenge and share your music memories! 

Postpartum: How to Go On After Completing a Novel


ClkerFreeVectorImages from

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here—but I’ve got good reason. I’ve been in the trenches finishing the first draft of Novel #2. I’m happy to announce the official birth of a 93,333 word manuscript on May 22. It may be sacrilegious to write this, but writing a novel really is quite a bit like the birth of a child for me (and I can say that since I’ve done both twice now).

Now, before you think I’m crazy, let me share the similarities. This second book has taken me somewhere near the nine-month timeframe to draft. During that time, I’ve faced plenty of discomfort, nervousness, paranoia, and complete lack of control—all words that I would have used to describe both my pregnancies. And just when I started to wrap my brain around this new little being inside of me, it was time for said being to pop into the world.

As excited as I’ve been to finish my second book, I’ve been going through an odd sort of separation anxiety this past week. First, it was my playlist that I had to say goodbye to. I’ve had the same Pandora channel playing while I wrote for nearly the duration of that recent project, but when I turned it on this week, it didn’t feel right anymore. The music seemed jarring, and I found myself distracted by it rather than inspired.

The loss of the music wasn’t as monumental as the loss of my characters. Over this past week, I’ve had to come to the realization that I won’t be spending the same amount of time with them ever again. It’s bizarre to admit it, but those characters are like good friends by now. I’ve spent nine months in their heads (or is it that they’ve spent nine months in mine?), and even though I have a great deal of editing left to go, our relationship is on the downslope. I know fully that soon I’ll be engrossed in a new project—and these characters will go back to just being what they are—figments of my imagination.

We recently celebrated the birthdays of my two kids, complete with cake, balloons, presents, and all the fanfare such events require. Yet, there is a piece of me that mourns another year of childhood behind them.  Just as I have to trust my children to go out into the world—to be who they are—I have faith that this new novel will do the same. Make Mama proud, Baby!

Okay, now tell me, do you experience separation anxiety after you’ve completed a major project? How do you let go?

Hearing a Novel: Creating a Novel Playlist

music note figure

Peggy_Marco @

The book Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult has a line that simply reads, “Every life has a soundtrack.” In recent days, I’ve become a convert to the idea that every book has one, too.

I understand that this is by no means a new or original idea. I remember giving it some thought a while back when I wandered through Stephanie Meyer’s website. She actually posted a playlist for each novel, sort of a snapshot of the music she listened to while writing. At the time, I remember thinking that it was quite odd for her to post such a thing. Who would want to know what she listened to while she wrote? What difference did the music make since it wasn’t as if it was a movie (yes, I realize it would eventually become a movie, but this was way before that point). A novel is a visual experience rather than an auditory one, isn’t it?
I suppose I’ve betrayed myself as a reader in that last line. I am a visual person, so when I read, I don’t generally “hear” the book. I guess I’m a visual writer as well, focused on the words rather than the music that informs them. Maybe that’s why this soundtrack idea was really challenging for me to wrap my brain around. However, this playlist thing seems to be taking over the literary world. Erin Morgenstern and Jennifer Egan, both best-selling authors whose work I’ve enjoyed, even have playlists on Spotify to give context to their books.
In wandering some of my favorite writing blogs, I found out that the idea of a playlist, or soundtrack, for a novel has become fairly commonplace, but I was still a bit curious about why someone would go through the trouble to do this. After all, isn’t writing a novel about WORDS rather than music?!
After a good deal of research, I think I’m starting to get it. Young Adult writer Christina Farley says she creates a playlist to establish the mood of a piece and to maintain a consistent tone. I wasn’t conscious of this, but I have sort of accidentally done this in my first two novels. I am a devout Pandora listener, and I was rather perplexed when what I normally listened to—the songs that were the backdrop for Novel #1—were far from what I wanted to listen to as I wrote Novel #2. I’m not much of a country music fan, but somehow, I’m drawn to certain country artists as I write this time. I couldn’t have explained why if someone asked me… but I’m starting to understand now!
So, okay, maybe I have some background music in my head for my books, but a playlist? Really? Do I need to go that far? Rob Reid writes in Wired Magazine that he found each of his characters had a different playlist, which helped to define them—and some of this characters even have very different musical tastes than he does. Ink Out Loud has this incredible discussion of how to think about the playlist for a novel, including themes for specific scenes, characters, and even the places depicted in the book. When I really got thinking about it, one of my favorite novels from 2012, written by a former Miami University colleague of mine Jason Skipper, Hustle, was saturated with music references. I’m not sure if Jason has posted a playlist for the book somewhere, but I’m sure he easily could. I’ve even heard he’s been persuaded to sing during his readings to bring that playlist into the foreground.
Whoa…  my mind is reeling. Each character could have a song? Or maybe each scene? My book could be like a movie? This sounds a bit overwhelming—yet I’m really intrigued.
Suddenly I’m looking back at my first novel and hearing a solo piano playing behind Preston’s words, something feisty—and a bit sultry—blaring out of Tess’s radio as she drives to her photo shoot, and the strains of something a bit melancholy tinged with a bit of anger as Grace reads the letter from Jon’s lawyer. Suddenly, I’m HEARING my novel… and it sounds amazing!

The best resources I’ve found so far for creating a playlist for a novel include Pandora, Playlist, and Spotify. Do you include a playlist on your website or blog for your books? What has worked best for creating and sharing that playlist?