Anatomy of a Soundtrack – Bluebird

So since you all know how much I love soundtracks to my novels, I thought I’d do some posts about the songs I choose as I choose them.  And instead of starting with something obvious for Taylor-made (like “Coin-Operated Boy” or “Tailor Made”), I thought I’d start with a Malinda song.  Probably ‘cuz I want to write some scenes for her, but she’s not around yet.

So here’s the background on Malinda.  She bought a Simulant named Justin to be her boyfriend, then was unable to keep him (for financial reasons, though this might change) so she returned him, even though she was utterly in love with him.  Justin was recycled into Taylor, who is programed to love Rosie and to be Rosie’s ideal boyfriend.  And then Malinda sees him one day….

Malinda had some songs early on in the making of the soundtrack.  Her first songs were shared with Rosie–jealous girls in a love triangle.  I was so psyched to consider Beyonce and Shakira’s “Beautiful Liar” because I love the sound of that song, but while it worked okay from Rosie’s POV (she considers Taylor a liar at that point), it didn’t for Malinda, and besides, there’s that awkward name-dropping in the song.  The next logical choice is “The Boy is Mine” by Monica and Brandi, but while I always like this song once it gets going, there’s something about the beginning that makes me want to skip ahead.  In the end, I decided to give Malinda her own song instead of sharing a love triangle song.

Big surprise, there were a couple of Glee candidates (actually, I don’t use a lot of Glee songs in soundtracks, tbh, because I associate them too much to the plot of the Glee episode to think about them subjectively, most of the time).  I pictured Taylor singing “Take Care of Yourself” to Malinda.  And as I was listening to “Rumors/Someone Like You” for about the thousandth time, I realized it could be Malinda singing it.

Except, I don’t see Malinda singing that spiritedly about stealing a boy away (“rumor has it I’m the one you’re leaving her for”).  I see her as the girl who gave up the boy she loved and completely regrets it.  In her case, the boy doesn’t even exist anymore, except as a locked-away memory in Taylor’s head that keeps leaking out.  And while she’s hopeful that he’ll dump Rosie and come back to her, she’s not about to brag about it to Rosie, the way “Rumors/Someone Like You” does in the end.  And I see her as a more quiet character who needs a quieter song.

Originally, the song Malinda ended up with was being auditioned for Rosie (whose ex-boyfriend really did die), but the more I listened to it, the more I realized it was Malinda’s.  A lot of time I’ll audition songs for a soundtrack that I don’t know the lyrics to, but that I have a sense might fit the character or scene.  Most of these end up not making it, but I’m amazed how often I’ll find the perfect song based on the slightest hint of a line I caught at some point while listening to it.  While I’m not a huge fan of “Jar of Hearts,” Christina Perri’s “Bluebird” was a free download on iTunes, and I downloaded it and forgot about it.  For some reason I saw it on my music list and had this feeling it belonged on this soundtrack, so I stuck it with the Rosie songs to audition (most of which have been discarded since).

Since moving it to Malinda’s songs, I’m 99% convinced that Malinda’s theme will be Christina Perri’s “Bluebird.”  Give it a listen and tell me what you think.

Lots of love,



Teaser Tuesday – Awkward date

I know, I haven’t updated the blog since last Tuesday, but I do have two more days before my blogging week ends (I go Thursday to Thursday) so I promise at least one more post in the next two days. Maybe I’ll do a Workout Wednesday or a Lots of Love Thursday.  Ooh, I think the latter.  I have some things to love this week 🙂

It’s Teaser Tuesday.  This weekend I was challenged to write 10K on Saturday.  I didn’t make it because Roomie’s parents came down and distracted me for half the day, but I did get over 8K written in just that day.  So lots of new scenes to choose from this week.  I was considering always teasing with non-Taylor scenes.  Taylor’s been having dreams of two Simulants, one built to be a boyfriend and one built to be a soldier.  I seem to hit one per week, at least, and I think they’re my favorite scenes, but I decided on another scene this week, even though I wrote at least three of those scenes this week.

So instead you get part of Taylor’s date with a girl who’s not Rosie.

She leads me inside. The restaurant is packed and loud. At first I think this is good because she won’t expect us to talk, but then I realize she probably will and we’re going to have to yell at each other to be heard. Not really pleasant.

I give it a try. “People like to come here on dates?”

“Yeah. It’s great, isn’t it?”

I shrug. A hostess seats us at a booth, and we knock our knees together trying to get in the booth. “Sorry,” I say.

“No big.” She turns to the waitress and says, “I want a raspberry Long Island ice tea.”

The waitress writes that down, and I’m too busy figuring out that she’s okay with a seventeen-year-old ordering alcohol to realize that she wants me to give her a drink order next. After a second or two of being stared at, I say, “Oh, I just want a water.”

After she leaves, Kara grabs my hand and grins at me. “You’re so vanilla. It’s cute. I think you might have actually blushed if I had ordered ‘sex on the beach.'”

“She didn’t even card you. Did you see that?”

“And that’s why everyone comes here.”

Oh. It seems like a dumb reason to choose a restaurant. It made more sense when I thought it was because it was medium-level expensive and quality.

“I, uh, need to look at the menu.” I take my hand away to open the menu. It’s true. I have no clue what they serve here. The answer: everything. “What do you usually get?”

“Oh, a salad, usually.”

I look at their salads, but they have so much stuff on them and no guarantee of the quality of produce that I decide against them. There’s sandwiches and entrees that would look like a three course meal to some people. I end up ordering a burger because it’s advertised as grass-fed beef. It does give me hope for the rest of the restaurant’s food.

“What do you usually eat?” Kara asks. “You’re a mystery because you do some healthy stuff like Rosie, but you also make cookies with Hershey’s kisses.”

“I eat all sorts of stuff. I do like to be natural or organic when I can, but sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes it’s good to treat yourself to something a little sugary.”

She smiles at me as she sips her drink through the straw. “Everyone needs a little sugar sometimes.”

I’m reminded of Rosie’s words about the BOIS. All sugar, no substance. That’s what this date is.

“Some people like it better than others,” I say.

“But you like it sometimes. You’re open to trying things out. Not just sticking to your one narrow way of thinking.” She twirls the straw between her fingers, then passes the drink across the table. “Go ahead. Try something new.”

I look down and chuckle. “No, that’s okay. Really.”

“If you say so. But you’re missing out.” She licks her lips, making her lipstick shine rather than weakening it.

I push the glass back to her side of the table, but it taps against the empty bread plate and tips over, liquor spilling all over her half of the table and running into her lap. She screams and jumps out from the booth.

Hope you enjoyed it.

Lots of love,


Teaser Tuesday – Justin and Malinda

This week I worked on Love Sucks edits instead of Taylor-Made.  Since I don’t know if I can post those, you get an excerpt from last week.  So this is the first non-prologue scene with Justin and Malinda.

(ETA: Context: BOIS are androids built to fight in the place of human soldiers.  The company that created them, also created a boyfriend model to capitalize on the technology.  Girls can create the guy they think will be perfect for them, from looks to personality.)

Her raven black hair falls into her face as she cocks her head to the side and laughs a little. “What are you doing?”

I sigh. She’s moved. She wasn’t supposed to move. For like twenty minutes, she’s been watching the news, her face all screwed up with worry at the list of boys reported missing this week. Only once they started sending BOIS to replace the troops did the full reports come to light. The numbers were staggering, everyone said.

Every night she turns on the channel with the new names. There’s nobody she’s waiting for, she says, but she thinks someone should mourn and pray for all the soldiers.

The news has taken a break to show some feel good movie about soldiers coming home, which is why she’s turned to me, tears still in her eyes, even though she’s smiling at me.

I put down the pad I’ve been drawing her on and wipe a tear off her cheek. “Why do you watch it?” I ask. “It makes you so sad.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” she sighs.

“Is there a name you’re waiting for?”

She shakes her head. “No one. Are you worried I have a boyfriend I’m waiting for, hoping he’ll come home?”

“No.” I’m surprised. It had never occurred to me. She bought me, she loves me. She wouldn’t do that if there was another guy she loves. “No, I’m worried you make yourself so sad. Don’t be sad. I’m here.” I cup her cheek and kiss her. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” she whispers.

I show her the picture I was drawing.

“Oh, Justin, it’s beautiful.” She’s smiling and it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. More beautiful than anything I can draw, no matter how many times I might try to capture it in a picture.

“I have a good subject. Do you want me to keep drawing?”

“Yes, but…” Her eyes shine at me like stars. “…please make me look happier in it?”

I will do anything to make her happier.

Hope you enjoyed.

Lots of love,


Love Sucks’ Soundtrack – Finished

Thanks to the Greed Giveaway and decisions made on the novel between my editor and me, I feel confident enough to share the final Love Sucks soundtrack with you guys.  Now, here’s a note before I start.  I wrote LS waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 2008, so all of these songs are older, even the ones I added when I made my major revision in 2009.  I tend to make the soundtrack during writing and revising, and finish it off a couple weeks later.  I pretty much have to find an absolutely perfect song, from lyrics to the type of sound for that story/scene/character, for me to substitute it into the soundtrack after I’m done writing and revising the book.  Anyway, yeah, the songs are a little older (<– also the title of the closing theme).

Here’s the finished soundtrack:

  1. Broken Heart – Motion City Soundtrack (Opening theme)
  2. Another Mystery – Dar Williams (Mailee’s theme)
  3. See You Again – Miley Cyrus (Mai and Joanne and Logan)
  4. Anything I’m Not – Lenka (The quest)
  5. Gravity – Sarah Bareilles (Mai and Eric)
  6. Learn You Inside and Out – Lifehouse (Mai and Lo)
  7. Bathwater – No Doubt (Envy)
  8. Fake – Shinedown (Wrath)
  9. Ka-Ching! (Red) – Shanie Twain (Greed)
  10. Slow Dancing in a Burning Room – John Mayer (Pride)
  11. Let You Down – Default (Mai and Lo)
  12. Too Much Food – Jason Mraz (Gluttony)
  13. Extraordinary Girl – Green Day (Mai and Lo)
  14. Goin’ to the Dance with You – Kristin Chenoweth (Mai and Eric)
  15. I’m so Sick – Flyleaf (Sloth)
  16. To the Moon and Back – Savage Garden (Mai and Lo)
  17. If it Kills Me – Jason Mraz (Logan’s theme)
  18. The Conversation – Motion City Soundtrack (Eric’s theme)
  19. Human – Blake Lewis (Lust)
  20. Make Me Over – Lifehouse (Quest’s end)
  21. I’m Yours – Jason Mraz (Mai and 😉 )
  22. Older – Colbie Caillat (Closing theme)

Can you believe that once upon a time, I didn’t have songs for most of the Sins, and now they make up half the soundtrack?  (Well, because I can do math, just about a third, but still).  And if it seems like Lo gets more songs than Eric, that’s only because half of Eric’s songs are disguised as other things.

I’m excited to have a soundtrack to share with the world for a novel that is actually going to be published.  I could share “Fireflies” too, but it’s an awfully long playlist for a short story, even if I cut out the songs that don’t apply anymore.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the playlist, and had fun guessing what the songs mean for the novel.  Any songs on there that you absolutely adore?  Let me know!

Lots of love,

P.S.  I had links for half the songs to YouTube lyrics vids, and then YouTube and WordPress both decided they hated me.  I’ll try to come back and add them in the future, but my patience is shot.

Winner of the Greed Giveaway

Hey, you guys.  Hope you had a great Valentine’s Day with lots of romance, or at least a lot of chocolate (it has no calories on V-day, didn’t you know?)

There were so many great entries.  I downloaded a lot of them just because I really liked them, and some I already had.  Thank you for all the suggestions, everyone.

But there was one song that was absolutely perfect for the scene.  She’ll be glad she came in with that one last entry.  I know I am 🙂

The winner of the Greedy Song Giveaway is:

Megan Verhegghe

for Shania Twain’s “Ka-ching”

Uncontrolled spending when the spender doesn’t have money fits the Greed scene in Love Sucks to a T.  Thanks, Megan.  And thanks to everyone who contributed songs.  I had a lot of fun listening to them.

Megan, I’ll send you an e-mail with a list of the remaining books from my Bye-bye Borders Extravaganza, and you can choose the 10 you want.  Plus, I’ll send you When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen as soon as it’s out on the 28th.

Thanks, everyone!

Lots of love,


Teaser Tuesday – Cheesy Romance Style

So, for Valentine’s Day, I worked really hard to finish a scene that’s the beginning of the romance between my MCs, but I’m just not satisfied with it.  So you’re getting a different scene I wrote this week.  If the below doesn’t sound like a cheesy romance novel, I’m not doing my job.  Constructive criticism or even more fun romance novel descriptions of Rosie in the comments are appreciated, really 🙂

Here’s what Rosie looks like to me.

We start with her eyes. Her irises are like tiger’s eye in color, varying shades of brown. But under them is a fire that excites me. It shines through the lighter brown, flashing at me when she’s angry or happy. They glow like a lighthouse, welcoming me home.

Her sleek chestnut hair flows down her back from her flowered hair tie like a dark waterfall that fills my soul with desire for her.

Her lips are soft and pink with some sort of sparkly shine. The pink reminds me of cotton candy, and I want to taste them and find out if that’s what they taste like. Hidden behind them, of course, is the jewel in her mouth, today a beautiful sapphire blue.

The cheeks of her heart-shaped face are always as rosy as her name, like a painted doll, but not so fragile, of course. Besides those spots of color, her golden skin reflects the warmth of the sun back to me.

When she talks, she uses her hands a lot, which are soft with elegant fingers. Likewise, I know that inside her combat books there must be dainty, delicate feet. Her petite figure suggests I’m right about this. It makes me wonder how she manages such a confident stride across the room. To be honest, her lithesome body just beguiles my senses with each march across the classroom during PET-BOIS. I love watching her walk.

In all, she has the most perfect figure, face, hands, legs, hair, and eyes I’ve ever seen.

Rosie is perfection.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lots of love,


P.S. It’s the last day to enter the Greedy giveaway.  So head on down the blog and bring your songs about greed!

Tell Him, Tell Him, Tell Him, Tell Him Right now

Just a reminder.  Tomorrow is the last day of the Greedy giveaway.

Okay, down to business.  Writers, if you have an agent and you have a question about subbing, there is a very simple solution to the problem.  A wonderful solution that un-agented authors don’t have the luxury of.  It is simply this:  Talk to your agent.

I can’t tell you how often I see agented authors asking questions on Absolute Write that their agent would be better positioned to answer.  Just yesterday I saw three different questions where the answer was “talk to your agent.”  Things like, “I have a list of editors we’re subbing to.  What books did they edit?” (Your agent should know this before subbing). Or “My old agent had this clause in their contract, so what does that mean for my newly revised novel now that I have a new agent?” (Hopefully, the new agent knows what this means since she has to deal with it).

I think that once you are agented and/or published, there are so many great questions or experiences that a writers’ community can answer and share.  Frustrations over the next step, sounding boards for your next book, worries over revisions that seem hard but necessary, and many many more.

But when it comes to the specifics of subbing your book, you have to talk to your agent.  Other authors, even other agents and publishers, aren’t going to know the answers.  Especially because it seems like these questions always come out vague (trying not to disclose details in public) and then everyone’s just trying to guess the situation before the answer even gets considered.

Then there are the people who come online and complain about what they think their agent is thinking or doing but without discussing it with the agent.  It’s understandable.  Us writers are a neurotic bunch, and that includes me.  We can read so much into the simplest of lines in an e-mail from an agent.  We get hysterical about a week of silence, particularly if we just sent them revisions or a question.  We (understandably) freak out if an agent doesn’t like the current draft of a book.  “OMG, my agent must haaaate me!  She wants to drop me!”  If we’re not happy with some aspect of the relationship, we whine about it to our writer friends.

But you don’t know what the agent is thinking unless she actually tells you.  So talk to your agent.  Don’t assume things are awful.  Don’t assume you know exactly what she’s thinking.  You can bring up your potential problems to your writer groups and friends, and they might have excellent advice for what you think is going on.  But until you talk to your agent, you won’t know what she’s really thinking, and you can’t really know what to do about it.

That’s what agents are here for.  To talk us down from being the neurotic writers we all really are.  Seriously, I think it’s in the contract. 😉  Well, okay, maybe not, but don’t let yourself put a wall between you and your agent.  Use the relationship.  And if you have any questions or doubts… tell her right now.

Lots of love,