Tag Archives: Author: Linda Palmer

About Music …

Music moves us. Whether it be to make us happy, sad, or (in some rare cases) violent, music affects our emotions. The authors of the Write Room have shared their thoughts and feelings about music and how it shapes our lives. (Dellani Oakes)

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Daddy’s Music by Linda Palmer

I didn’t realize how cool my daddy was until after my mother died and we had him to ourselves for five years. He was very quiet; Mother was the go-between. Yet without me realizing it, he made me who I am today. A huge influence was his love for music. Daddy, who played alto sax in high school, loved the sounds of Lawrence Welk, Paul Mauriat, James Last, Leroy Anderson, and Mantovani. He was also into Broadway musicals, so my sisters and I still know every word of Camelot, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, South Pacific and a slew of others. Daddy went from vinyls, to eight-tracks, to tapes, to CDs, with quadraphonic in there somewhere. He had great sound systems in his cars, and I loved long Sunday afternoon rides listening to whatever musical score was his favorite at the time. (Can anyone else out there recognize every song from Midnight Cowboy?)

I’m eternally grateful for his eclectic tastes, which ultimately impacted mine. There aren’t many music genres I don’t like, and I’m always up for listening to something new. So thanks, Daddy. You get full credit for the chills I get when music truly moves me. I just wish you hadn’t pawned your saxophone to pay down on a house all those years ago. I’d love to hear you play it.

 

Let the music play on by by Jon Magee

“If music be the food of love, play on”, wrote William Shakespeare (Twelfth Night Act 1, scene 1, 1–3)

Music has the ability to move us—our memories and our imaginations. So many times, I’ve heard a song on the radio, on a commercial, or during a movie, and found myself transported to another place and time. The lyrics and the melody remind me of a moment I’ve experienced, a memory I haven’t recalled for ages, and I’ll feel everything that I felt back then.

I am not musical in terms of having the ability to play any musical instrument, but I do have an appreciation of music and have enjoyed the listening to it from an early age. I have no doubt that music has been a great means of communicating to the world in many ways. When I am writing, I have often used the memory of music and singing as a means of setting the scene for an era, or to bring out the expressions of emotions set in the heart of the characters whether it is the expression of love or the feelings of sadness.

Even the Philosopher of the 1960’s, Mr Michael Jagger, used the medium of song as he shared his philosophy of life with those who supported him. Along with a group called “The Rolling Stones” he sang “You can’t always get what you want, You can’t always get what you want , You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime you find you get what you need”. Clearly that would be true in many other walks of life. Looking back through the ages it was the singing of particular songs that became the heart of the peace movements and many political campaigns too, as well as the religious revivals through the ages. When people recall the Wesleyan revivals they would often equate it with the music of the Wesley brother and Toplady. Likewise the same vein may be applied to the Welsh Revival, and not forgetting how Moody is a name that is still linked to Sankey.

Music is also the great leveller of life too. Our singing abilities may not be as good as others, but the needs expressed will be something that can touch us all in one form or another as we sing or listen. We all identify with the words “all you need is love” as the Beatles put it. Perhaps we can identify with Buddy Holly as he sang of his personal unrequited love experience with Peggy Sue. (Peggy Sue was not a made up name, it was a real person who he knew in his life.) Can we not also sense the heartbreak of the New York mining tragedy as the Bee Gees sang “Have you seen my wife Mr Jones? Do you know what it’s like on the outside?” Music will bring out the cheer and also the tears. In our music will come our humanity and the road many of us take in human life. But above everything, may music be the food of love in our lives!

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Mood Music by Patricia Dusenbury

I listen to music while writing. Jeff Buckley’s audible exhale at the beginning of Hallelujah stops me cold. I hold my breath, waiting for him to begin singing. The line “…all I’ve ever learned from love is how to shoot somebody who outdrew you,” evokes thoughts of love as a power struggle, the things vulnerable humans do to each other. I’m reminded that some things, once broken, cannot be fixed. I’m ready to write about grief and the pain of love lost or, worse, thrown away.

Cole Porter said that Night and Day was about obsession, not love. Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald et al. sang it as a love song, but not U2. Their version captures passion that defies reason. In the video, Bono slides a razor blade across his thumb. I listen and write about physical attraction that overwhelms common sense, love as a form of insanity.

It’s not all noir. I also use music to evoke time and place. My mysteries are set in New Orleans and the bayou country. Jazz, blues, Dixieland or zydeco – it depends upon what I’m trying to write. I put on the music, listen, and I’m back there. Ditto the songs popular when I was in high school and college.

There’s one vivid musical memory I’ve not used – not yet. Years ago, I walked into an ice cream parlor in Palm Springs. Three middle-aged women (younger than I am now) sat at the counter, eating overpriced ice cream. They licked it off their spoons with evident pleasure, while Tom Jones’ What’s New Pussycat played on the jukebox. Whenever I hear that song, I see those women, and I smile. One day, they’ll be in a book.

 

As a child, Patricia Dusenbury read under the covers into the wee hours. Despite sleep deprivation, she managed to get through college and a career as an economist. Now retired, she hopes to atone for all those dry reports by writing novels that people read for pleasure. 

Her first book, A Perfect Victim, won the 2015 EPIC (Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) award for best mystery. The sequel, Secrets, Lies & Homicide, was a top ten finisher in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll. A House of Her Own, which will be released October 16, completes the trilogy. http://patriciadusenbury.com/

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Timpani by Kenneth Weene

My Junior High School Music teacher pulled me aside and offered a simple solution to our dilemma. “Kenneth, don’t sing, just mouth the words and I’ll give you a passing grade.”

Thankful to end the embarrassment of all heads turning towards me whenever I hit a “note” that had never been heard before, I agreed to acoustic exile.

In boarding school I tried out for the chorus, which shared concerts and dances with girls’ schools. The chorus director assured me if ever he found a piece of music that included my one note repertoire he’d add me to the roster.

Not being able to sing didn’t dampen my love of music. I think I know when somebody else is on tune. I love the sense of tempo, especially when timpani lead the way, which immediately suggests classical music. Not surprisingly, my favorite composers are from Eastern Europe. Dvořák, Bartok, Scriabin, Shostakovich, and Mahler are my big five. Say Slavic music and I’m ready not just to listen but viscerally take part—feet tapping, hands waving, and head bobbing. Drawing on my Junior High lesson, I sit at the rear of a section where my gyrations won’t disturb others.

Driving is one of the better times to listen to music although I do have to be careful not to take my hands of the wheel and conduct or tap the rhythm on the gas pedal.

Driving through the Rocky Mountain National Park my musical selection was Mahler. Perhaps Dvořák would have been a better choice, The New World Symphony, but I love the sweeping grandeur of Mahler and it went perfectly with the majesty of the mountains. We rounded a bend. Grazing in a small meadow was a herd of elk. The music, the mountains, and the elk came together in the moment.

Without thought or care, I began to sing along. The inhibitions learned in adolescence dropped away and for the moment I was one with the music.

Which brings us to the most important part of that sacred moment. My wife did not cover her ears. She did not stare at me and shake her head. No, she smiled sweetly and said nothing.

Finally, when we had passed the elk and the last notes of that symphony had faded from the CD player, she commented. “That’s a relief. The way you were singing I thought one of those bulls was going to get in the car and try to mate with you.”

 

Writer, poet, and social commentator Kenneth Weene is generally an easygoing fellow, but arm him with an imaginary baton and chaos can ensue. You can find Ken’s books at http://www.amazon.com/Kenneth-Weene/e/B002M3EMWU

 

Transported by Music by Trish Jackson

Music truly is the language of the soul. I can’t imagine anyone in the world not being moved to tears at least few times in their lives by a musical score or a song. Music brings back memories; music calms us; music ignites a flame in us. To quote Wordsworth. ‘Music is the universal language of mankind.’

Music also has a way of transporting us to another place and time. Every now and then you may hear a song you haven’t heard for years, and immediately be taken back to the time when the song meant something to you. You can clearly picture the scene and even smell the scent of it.

I grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) Africa, where every young person in the entire country—or so it seemed—listened to the LM Hit Parade on Sunday nights, broadcast from Lourenco Marques (now Maputo) in Mozambique.

I was a boarder at high school because our farm was too far away from any town for commuting. Like any boarding school, we had to obey some strict rules. Radios were not allowed to be on after lights out, and in those days they didn’t come with earphones. Armed with a flashlight and a sharp tongue, the duty matron patrolled the dorms in the dark, and if a radio was on, it was confiscated for the rest of the semester.

Only the seniors were allowed to have the radio on after lights out expressly to hear the LM Hit Parade on a Sunday night. It took a while, but I finally made it to my senior year. At the time in 1969, songs like Soldier Boy by the Shirelles, Crystal Blue Persuasion and Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells, and Touch Me by the Doors were somewhere near the top, and whenever I hear any of those songs, I am back to our dorm in the darkness. I can still feel the excitement as the countdown progressed.

In 1974, the radio station was closed down during the Portuguese revolution, and the facilities were nationalized. I thought that was the end of it, but surprisingly, with the advent of the Internet and Internet radio stations, it has since been revived, and they play all the old songs from their former era. http://www.lmradio.net/streaming.html

 

Trish Jackson writes rural romantic suspense and romantic comedy, which always includes pets. www.trishjackson.com

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Inappropriate Musical Tastes by Dellani Oakes

I have inappropriate musical tastes for a woman my age. There, I’ve said it. It’s out in the open…. Apparently, I should be a fan of Michael Bublé and Harry Connick, Jr. While I like some of their music, it certainly isn’t my favorite, or even in my top five. Okay, let’s be honest, not even in my top twenty. However, women of a certain age, are expected to like certain things, but I don’t fall into that category.

That sort of misconception started in my late thirties. I had to go for an extended MRI, nearly three hours of thudding and clanking, because I’d developed tinnitus in my left ear. When I got there, the young men running the test asked me what I wanted to listen to.

“What do you have?”

They listed off a few albums and I wrinkled my nose.

“Got anything good?”

“We’ve got some Steely Dan,” one remarked, somewhat hesitantly.

“Which album?”

“Um… Aja and Greatest Hits.”

“That sounds good. Anything else?”

They had some Jethro Tull, but that was as exotic as the choices were. Good enough, far better than the other things they offered. They were pleased, because they mostly had to listen to Big Band and Buddy Holly all day.

“It’s good to have someone in here who appreciates good music,” the other told me as he set up the CD player.

However, when I had to go back a few years later, for an MRI on my neck, the girl didn’t even ask. She put the radio on easy listening. Radio in the first place, not my choice. Too many commercials. And easy listening? Do I look like I want easy listening? Where is the Hendrix, the Zeppelin? Bring on the Floyd! A pox on easy listening! It puts me into a pop induced coma in which I shall surely languish until someone plays metal.

I’ve decidedly surprised people with my eclectic musical tastes. On one such occasion, I had to go get my tires rotated. I’d been listening to a Rammstein CD in the car, and had left it cued up to the song I wanted to hear on my way home. I didn’t think about the fact that someone would turn on the car and have it blast from the speakers when they moved it to the service area. I was in the waiting room, reading my book, when the young mechanic walked in, looking expectant.

“Black Kia Optima?”

I stood up and he took a step back, clutching his chest.

“Wow, not what I expected,” he said with a grin.

“Why?” I wasn’t sure if I should be offended or not.

“Well, based on the CD in the car, I thought it would be some guy my age.” He laughed loudly. “You don’t really look the type.”

“Oh, what type do I look?” The challenging tone was unmistakable.

He chuckled, taking another step back. “Not the type to like heavy metal. What band is that?”

“A German group called Rammstein.”

“It’s really good. I hope you don’t mind that I listened to it while I worked on the car.”

“Not at all! I’m glad you liked it.”

“I’m gonna look for more of their music. That’s some good stuff.” He smiled, shaking his head. “Really wouldn’t peg you for listening to that kind of music.”

I took a step toward him, talking quietly. “I also like Jimi Hendrix, Rob Zombie, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and Iron Maiden.”

“No shit?” I didn’t think I could have shocked him more if I’d put 50,000 volts through him.

 

I wrote this while listening (inappropriately) to Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Tool, The Diamond Light, Pink Floyd, Noah Gundersen, X Ambassadors with Jamie N. Commons, and Marilyn Manson. Would you like a play list?

Dellani Oakes is a (mostly) appropriate author who thinks inappropriate thoughts as she listens to music she shouldn’t like. How do you know when Dellani is awake and working? There’s music playing, (inappropriately loudly).

Movie Kisses

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For me personally, everything is on a kiss.

Anna Friel, Actress

There is nothing better than a good movie or TV kiss…if it’s done right. In my opinion, the perfect ones are about timing, emotion, risk, and repercussions, all of which impact the plot. I’m definitely a connoisseur and have actually recorded a DVD of my favorite lip locks. My granddaughter and I have been known to video perfect kisses and text them to each other. Obviously, we’re both hopeless romantics.

Below is list of my top five flawless kisses as seen on the big or small screen. (I’d be blogging for weeks if I tried to list them all.) These scenes are all on YouTube, by the way, so if you’re curious, check them out.

  1. Catching Fire

If you’re familiar with the Hunger Games movies, you probably know where I’m going, but here’s a brief set up. The time is post apocalyptic, and the USA aka Panem is under the control of President Snow, who demands that two unlucky participants from every district compete in vicious, to-the-death games. Their purpose is to entertain the rich while reminding the oppressed who is in control. At the end of the competition, Catniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark cleverly threaten a double suicide at a point when one should kill the other and be declared winner. The crowd goes wild, of course–young love, ill-fated romance. Although Catniss is in love with someone else, she and Peeta must keep up the charade. In retaliation for their beating the system, President Snow hosts another game in which all previous winners will compete against each other. Catniss is not popular with the other champions even though some of them mysteriously align with her and Peeta. They think she is faking it, probably because she is. Peeta, however, is not. He has loved her forever.

The perfect kiss comes when Peeta runs into a force field and is killed. While another contestant in their alliance of four does CPR, Catniss basically freaks out. Peeta is revived. She swoops in and gives him a kiss from the heart—one that is instinctual, passionate, and honest. Their companions realize that Catniss really loves Peeta. And the best part? Catniss and Peeta realize it, too. Perfect.

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2

This is the seventh and last installment in the Harry Potter movies. By now, we know that Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley are in love, though they keep the romance low-key. Their world is literally crashing around them as Hogwarts is bombarded with evil spells and invaded by giants, spiders, Deatheaters, and Dementors (soul suckers). In the middle of the chaos, Ginny and Harry see each other and share a split-second kiss before they each race off in a different direction to continue fighting the evil. We see their love; we see their courage; we see their priorities. We realize in that moment that doing the right thing means great personal sacrifice. Perfect.

  1. The Saint

Brief setup: Simon Templar is a thief trying to reach 50 million dollars in his bank account so he can move on. Dr. Emma Russell is an introverted, slightly eccentric scientist who has almost conquered cold fusion. She keeps her equations on small cards and is constantly working to rearrange them and get the sequencing down, the final step to free fuel for everyone.

Simon’s next assignment? Steal the formula so that someone will get very rich selling instead of giving it the world. He’s ruthless. She’s too inexperienced to see it. From the moment he begins his tailor-made seduction, her wide-open heart works a miracle in him. And by the time she knows his truth, they’re both in deep, inconvenient love.

What’s most wonderful about their kisses, especially after they’ve bared their souls to each other, is that they’re always smiling or laughing as their lips touch. And the final kiss in the movie is the best of them all because she knows she has him and he honestly doesn’t mind. She has all the self-confidence in the world. He’s found his heart and changed his ways.  Perfect.

  1. “Bones”

Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan is a forensic pathologist. Former sniper Seeley Booth is an FBI agent. They work together to solve murders. Over the course of the series (which just ended its tenth season), the two of them fall in love and marry. When they’re together at the FBI headquarters, they maintain a strict professional façade. In fact, someone who didn’t know them would never guess they’re in love.

In an episode in season six, there’s some very bad stuff going down. Bones is being threatened by a serial killer; Booth is struggling to concentrate on the job he has to do. They are talking in the hall at the FBI offices when he suddenly catches her in his arms and kisses her like there’s no tomorrow (which is a possibility). Of course she kisses him back. We see his rebellion and determination, with a dash of fear. We see her confidence in her guy. The FBI sees two people very much in love. Perfect.

  1. The Lake House

Kate Forster, a doctor, lives in a beautiful house on the lake. Alex Wyler, the architect who built the house, lives there, too. The problem? They’re two years apart in time and communicate via letters they put in the mailbox. Though they brush shoulders a time or two in person, it’s as strangers. Does this make sense? Not really, but as we watch these two lonely people fall in love via their letters, we easily accept that glitch in time and desperately want them to find a way to bridge it.

The kiss comes at the end of the movie. Kate learns that the reason the lake house was available to rent is because the former owner (Alex) died in a horrible accident. Can she save him if she warns him? She puts a letter in the box begging him to stay away from the accident site, wait two years, and come to her at the lake house. Will it work?

As she huddles by the mailbox, hoping with all her heart, the red flag on it goes down, and the door opens and shuts. Does he have the letter? Will he come? We hear a pickup truck approaching. Alex gets out of it and walks to her. She says, “You waited.” He swoops in for a kiss that reveals how long two years can be, how much they love each other, and how joyful their forever after is going to be. Perfect.

 

Linda Palmer has been a shameless romantic for as long as she can remember. Her first crush was on Roy Rogers, with Flash Gordon, Robin Hood, and Zorro right behind, all of them way too old for her. She began writing for pleasure in the third grade and has letters from her teachers predicting she’d be an author. Though that was never actually a dream, it was something she did naturally and eventually with intent. Silhouette Books published Linda’s first novel in l989 and the next twenty over a ten year period (writing as Linda Varner, her maiden name). In 1999 she took a break to take care of her growing family. She learned that she couldn’t not write, however, and began again, changing her genre to young adult/new adult/adult paranormal romance, written under her married name. Linda now has a lot of novels and novellas available as ebooks and in print. As for those hero crushes, she admits she still has them, but now they’re all too young for her. Her website is www.lindavpalmer.com. Facebook her: Linda Varner Palmer. Twitter @ lvarnerpalmer.

A Rose by Any Other Name by Linda Palmer

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Have you ever read a book that was full of stuff you’d never heard of? By stuff, I mean made-up names for places or things in the author’s imaginary world. Maybe you were reading SciFi. Maybe it was fantasy. Maybe it was another genre. Doesn’t matter. What does matter is whether or not these made-up words took you out of the story.  Did you have to think every time you came across the word? Did you have to remind yourself what it meant before you could picture what was happening?

Nothing bugs me more than made-up names that make no sense and, therefore, cannot be remembered. I’m not referring to character names here. It’s the reader’s job to keep up with the book’s players, though I will say that becomes a challenge when everyone’s name starts with the same letter. For example, I love Stieg Larrson’s Millenium trilogy. I really do. But almost every person in the story has a last name that starts with a B, and when you’re an American, sloppy speed reader like me, keeping them straight is a big fat job. A similar book is Dr. Zhivago. So many P names. There was no spotting the first letter and knowing who’s in the scene. I had to concentrate, which, now that I think about it, wasn’t such a bad thing and could be why the author did it. Way more likely, though, the names were simply appropriate for the time and location of the stories (and I should quit whining and stay tuned in).

But I’m not here to blog about that or to criticize any author’s nomenclature. I mean, who am I to do that? What I do want to do is praise the writer’s I’ve read who got it exactly right.  In other words, all their made-up words work because they make sense.

I’ll start with Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy. First, I want to say right out that I think Collins is brilliant. What a tale she has spun. Love, hate, fear, loyalty, betrayal, death, victory. It’s all there, and the amazing thing? It’s so easy to step into the world she made and feel what her characters felt. I give full credit for this to her skill in weaving together things we know with things we can barely imagine. And her nomenclature is a big factor in this.

For example, if you read the word trackerjacker in the appropriate context, it is very easy to guess that you’ve just met a killer insect.  Tracker in a deadly situation such as Katniss’s is definitely ominous. Paired with jacker, which brings to mind yellow jackets, it’s downright scary. I hate to be stung by anything, okay? So I cringed when I saw trackerjacker. It couldn’t be good. It just couldn’t be. And it wasn’t.

Another example from the clever Collins is mockingjay. We know what a mocking bird is and what they do. We’ve all seen and definitely heard blue jays. By combining mocking and jay, Collins has given us a noisy bird that taunts the players or tributes as they’re called (in another stroke of genius). According to Merriam-Webster, a tribute is something you say, give, or do to show respect. Another meaning is an exorbitant charge levied by a person with power of coercion. While tribute isn’t a made-up word, it’s the perfect choice to describe the citizens from each district who have to fight to the death. President Snow, the leader of Collins’s fictional Panem (the perfect name for this ravaged country, by the way), pretends that the tributes are simply showing respect by participating in the Hunger Games. The tributes know very well that participation was never optional and the ending will not be pretty. One word; two shades of meaning; readers who get it.

I could detail more instances of Collins’s clever choices, but I want to move on to the Queen of Nomenclature—JK Rowling. I know I’m not the only reader fascinated by her creativity. There was a much-publicized lawsuit over an unauthorized Harry Potter lexicon containing all the made-up names of characters, ghosts, spells, and critters in her series. I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes or break the law. What I want to do is point out how her made-up names usually makes sense in that they conjure an image based on familiar allusions or root words.

Honestly, there are so many that I don’t know where to begin. I’ll focus on my favorite terms in no particular order. First is Diagon Alley, the magical place where Harry shops for school supplies.  Diagonally, itself, makes me think of something that isn’t straight, something sideways or askew. When she split the word, it became perfect for a street just a little out of the ordinary. Directly opposite to the fun of Diagon Alley is the danger of Knocturn Alley. Nocturnal equals night equals dark equals scary stuff. No explanation needed for the shady area where the not-so-nice wizards hang around. A third favorite is Dementors. One look at that word, and I knew I was about to encounter some bad, bad dudes.

Then there are the spells. Alohamora to open doors. Expelliarmus to disarm an opponent by sending his wand flying. Cruciatus to inflict excruciating pain. And let’s not forget the wildlife, those wonderful animals with their perfect names. Hippogriff, grindylows, blast-ended skrewts for example. So easy to imagine because of Rowling’s inspired word choices.

In addition,many of her characters have names that match their personalities—Luna Lovegood (big hearted girl who’s just a little loony), Professor Gilderoy Lockhart (he’s gilded, a fake), Severus Snape (definitely severe and not a little snaky). The list goes on and on.

I have a series of paranormal books that have some made-up names for things. In particular, one book, Wolf Way, was about a fictional Native American tribe. Since I didn’t want to disrespect anyone, I tried to avoid all Hollywood clichés, beginning with the name of the tribe. I didn’t want to use a real tribe that might be insulted by a mention. So I dissected actual tribal names and shuffled until I came up with Quantauk, which I then Googled and didn’t find anywhere.  Of course, that was years ago. If I Googled again, the result might be different. The bottom line is that I came up with a word that reminded me of Quapaw or Mohawk, well known tribes, without actually using (and accidentally disrespecting) anyone.

The point of this blog? I think there’s a good way to create your fictional world and a not-so-good way. While the creativity and fun of making a new word cannot be denied, don’t get carried away. A glossary isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially in fiction. It never hurts to link a new word to something the reader knows. An instant mental picture can result, which makes the writer’s job a whole lot easier.

 

Bio: Linda Palmer has been writing for pleasure since the third grade and has letters from her teachers predicting she’d be an author. Though becoming a writer was never actually a dream, it was something she did naturally and eventually with intent. Silhouette Books published Linda’s first novel in l989 and the next twenty over a ten year period (writing as Linda Varner). In 1999 she took a break to take care of her family. She learned that she couldn’t not write, however, and began again, changing her genre to young adult paranormal romance. She has twelve full-length novels out as e-reads and in print and there are always more in the works. She also has many novellas and short stories available.  Linda has been a Romance Writers of America finalist twice and won the 2011 and 2012 EPIC eBook awards in the Young Adult category. She married her junior high school sweetheart many years ago and lives in Arkansas, USA with her family.

 

Website: www.lindavpalmer.com

Link to Wolf Way: http://tinyurl.com/q2hcfkz

Photo credit: © Can Stock Photo Inc. / dizanna

Affirmations by Linda Palmer

 

RightTrack

Time and again, I’ve noticed that when I open my mind to a new idea and begin to propose, plot, or write a new book, I start getting what I call “affirmations”(others might call them coincidences) that I’m on the right track with my story and character decisions.

This began in my Silhouette Romance days and three particularly useful affirmations associated with a proposal I was working up. I wanted my hero to be conflicted about illegal immigration from Mexico into Texas, which made doing his border patrol job very difficult.  I realized I didn’t know what branch of the government controlled that. At the time, the internet wasn’t available, so the world wasn’t at my fingertips as it is now. Before I had a chance to go to a library to research my question, I ran into a man who had Border Patrol on his cap. We were both donating blood, which meant neither of us could go anywhere, so I was able to ask him a lot of questions that he graciously answered.

A second affirmation involved my need for a believably lonely stretch of highway. I wanted my heroine to stop and change a flat tire for the hero, whose entire arm was in a cast. If there was a lot of traffic on the road, someone else would have done the job already. She had to think that she was his only hope. I found the answer to my dilemma when the woman who sells me make-up stopped by my house and began talking about her recent vacation. Out of the blue, she said that she’d driven down a road for over an hour without seeing another car. I got out an atlas. She pointed out the road, which was—you guessed it–in southern Texas.

The biggest affirmation of all was release of Dan Seals’ incredible song “Bordertown,” which sealed my determination and captured the exact mood I wanted. These affirmations gave me a boost, and I moved on with a little more confidence.

Stormswept, first published by Wild Horse Press, was an early YA paranormal romance resulting in so many affirmations that I listed them. In that book, a character that is in the military is called up to help repair damage from a hurricane that I randomly named Farrah. My affirmation? Right after I chose that name, a woman  popped into my day-job office wearing a name tag that said “Farrah.” Coincidence? Maybe, but also an affirmation because she was actually looking for another office, and I could easily have been away from my desk the moment she showed up.

A second example from that book was my decision to have my heroine enrolled in classes at a culinary institute. I immediately received two affirmations. First, I started seeing ads for a culinary institute while watching “Ghost Hunters” on the SyFy channel. Second, I heard one of my coworkers on the phone talking about her cousin actually enrolling in one. If I hadn’t already made that choice for my character, I’d think that hearing about the institute subconsciously made me choose it. But it just didn’t happen that way.

More affirmations popped up after I decided that my heroine would be cooking breakfasts at her sister’s B&B. I not only got a random e-mail from Kraft foods full of breakfast recipes, one of the characters on “Big Bang Theory” talked about a B&B.

A final example is my choice of “mermaid” as a nickname the hero gives the heroine. After I decided on that, I immediately received three affirmations. First, the movie Mermaids starring Cher came on television. Second, there was a story on the news about a prosthetic mermaid tail created for a woman who didn’t have legs so she could swim. Third, I overheard a coworker saying her husband called her that.

By far, the book that has resulted in the most affirmations is Titanium, my latest release from Uncial Press. I received so many that I can’t even remember them all, but a couple stand out that aren’t spoilers. My book is about a US Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom. The first glimmer of a plot resulted from a song I heard in the movie Pitch Perfect: “Titanium” by David Guetta featuring Sia. That led to the word titanium popping up everywhere in one form or another.

I’d just decided a graphic novel series would play an integral part in the story when my nephew brought over his Batman collection. I’ll admit right here that modern graphic novels stump me because I can’t figure out who’s saying what. (Oh how I miss the Archie and Dennis the Menace comics my daddy used to bring home.) So while I didn’t necessarily “get” Batman, I did get an affirmation that I was headed in the right direction.

The hero of my story has an injury resulting from his time in Afghanistan, with some PTSD to further complicate him. Right after that plot decision, a “Sixty Minutes” episode dealt with new treatments for PTSD. Even better, the treatments were only being offered at the Little Rock VA Medical Center, which is about thirty miles south of me.

Sharing some of the other affirmations would give away my plot, but I got enough of them to assure me that I’d done the right thing in writing this book of the heart.

Now I know it could be argued that I’m more aware of these affirmations because I’m immersed in my novel (sort of like when you learn a new word and then you suddenly see it everywhere), but it feels like so much more. Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight saga says she got her idea from a dream. Well, no dreams for me so far, but I do get affirmations straight from my personal muse, and her thumbs-up never  fails to encourage and inspire me.

 

Bio: Linda Palmer has been writing for pleasure since the third grade and has letters from her teachers predicting she’d be an author. Though becoming a writer was never actually a dream, it was something she did naturally and eventually with intent. Silhouette Books published Linda’s first novel in l989 and the next twenty over a ten year period (writing as Linda Varner). In 1999 she took a break to take care of her family. She learned that she couldn’t not write, however, and began again, changing her genre to young adult paranormal romance. She has twelve full-length novels out as e-reads and in print and there are always more in the works. She also has many novellas and short stories available.  Linda has been a Romance Writers of America finalist twice and won the 2011 and 2012 EPIC eBook awards in the Young Adult category. She married her junior high school sweetheart many years ago and lives in Arkansas, USA with her family.

 

Website: www.lindavpalmer.com

Link to Titanium: http://tinyurl.com/nj66kok

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