Hamilton.

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Since Hamilton came to Disney+, I’ve watched the entire play about ten times. I’ve watched the first half an additional ten or more. The second half tends to make me weepy and I’m not always in the mood to cry.

Each time I watch Hamilton, something new seems to stand out to me.

Here’s a few things I’ve noticed.

1. Christopher Jackson’s face during the final song while Eliza sings about his story and slavery.

2. The brilliantly subtle moments of foreshadowing woven throughout.

3. (or technically, 2a) Burr’s ‘like I said’ comment at the first scene in the bar where Hamilton meets Lafayette, Mulligan, and Laurens.

4. The Bullet. If you know, you know.

5. David Diggs. His pure joy in performance.

6. Brilliant word play and musicality.

7. Leslie Odom, Jr’s masterful performance.

8. The emotion evoked by Renee Elise Goldsberry in Satisfied.

9. Jonathan Goff’s laugh after One Last Time.

10. The interplay between Hamilton and Samuel Seabury during Farmer Refuted.

Late to the Party.

I’m currently writing Cosplay Killer an MM Cosy Mystery featuring two men who are into video games, music, and musical theatre.

In doing research, I had to brush up on some Broadway stuff. I’m not massively into plays. It’s never been my thing, though I have a lot of friends who are. I knew a little about Hamilton from friends and also because I think Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius of a wordsmith.

So, I found this video of him performing Alexander Hamilton at the White House.

I watched it twenty times. I was mesmerized. History has always been an obsession of mine and I was entranced by his performance.

Now, I’m autistic. I frequently fall down rabbit holes into new obsessions. And I haven’t had a new ‘special interest’ in a good while.

And I certainly didn’t intend to find one while researching a new cosy mystery series.

But there I was, going from one video to quite literally watching every Hamilton thing I could find on Youtube. Now I’ve listened to the soundtrack of the original cast a hundred times at this point.

Christopher Jackson and Lin-Manuel Miranda performing One Last Time are particularly brilliant.

The things I do for book research.

 

 

 

Walking to the Beat of Your Own Drum

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I thought it would be fun to think about the theme songs for some of the main characters in my various books. I picked out a few favourites. And, in some cases, songs jumped out at me for those particular characters.

In completely random order.

– Woody (Pure Dumb Luck) – A tie between ‘Humble and Kind’ and ‘Real Good Man’ by Tim McGraw

– Francis (After the Scrum) – ‘All I Want’ by Kodaline

– Elaine (Misguided Confession) – ‘This Is Me’ from The Greatest Showman

– Mac (One Last Heist) – ‘Let Your Heart Hold Fast’ by Fort Atlantic

– Bishan (The Grasmere Trilogy) – ‘Ode to Joy’

– Iggy (Here Come The Son) – ‘Sympathy for The Devil’ by Guns & Roses

– Fie (At War With A Broken Heart) ‘Ring of Fire’ by Johnny Cash

– Ivan (Forged in Flood) – ‘Killing in the Name’ by Rage Against The Machine

– Ivy (Ivy/Blackbird Anthology) – 93 Million Miles’ by Jason Mraz

– Dusk (Found You) – ‘Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude’ by Jimmy Buffett

This was fun.

I might have to do it for other characters.

 

 

From straight pantser to ever so slightly plotting along.

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I used to be a straight pantser.  (Someone who writes by the seat of their pants instead of plotting with an outline, etc.)

Never did anything, not even writing down character notes, before starting a novel. My mind liked it, but my manuscripts became a bit of a nightmare to edit. It’s hard to keep track of characters, plots, and timelines when NOTHING is written down.

And your memory is a bit shit.

Now, I do better.

I plot a little. I’ll never be a true plotter. Outlines bore me to tears. So, I’ve found a compromise that works.

Stage One: Faces, Names and Places

Three things I usually do before anything else is to pick the location of a story, the novel title, and visual references for the characters.

I’m not a very visual person, so I definitely need an actual image to picture while I’m writing.

Stage Two: Build out a Book Bible.

I use thin A5 Muji notebooks and fill out little character questionnaires for the main characters along with notes about family/friends. I also jot down a loose timeline. I find this helps keep the novel on track, but also with writing newsletters and blog posts once I’m done with the book.

Stage Three: Media.

Before writing, I build two essential lists. A musical playlist, my current WIP has a mostly country music playlist. I also create a TV/movie list. I find watching shows or movies based around the theme of what I’m writing can really help me get in the mood.

For The Royal Marine, for example, I watched a lot of Bake Off. For the Grasmere trilogy, it watched Poirot, of course.

Stage Four: Let’s Play Pretend

This is the stage where I’m usually supposed to be giving myself a writing break, but I’m chomping at the bit to write.

Stage Five: Write

Self-explanatory that involves a lot of coffee, sobbing, and hitting my head against the keyboard.

If you’re a writer, are you a pantser or a plotter?

 

A Soul Full of Music.

I don’t know about other authors, but I can’t write without some sort of noise in the background. Usually, I listen to music.  Every novel I’ve ever written has a playlist associated with it.  Each one is unique to the main characters of that particular story, though often a few of my favourite songs sneak into the list.

The Caretaker, for example, ended up with a rather blues and jazz inspired playlist, which you can find on Spotify.  It has a few modern songs in it. I think the one that evokes everything about Freddie & Tens is probably Bonfire Heart by James Blunt, an odd choice given the other songs on the list.

It just–there’s something about the lyrics that caused me to listen to it on repeat for a significant portion of writing Freddie & Tens love story. It reminded me of Tens, I think, how this younger man comes into his life and does quite literally light the spark in his heart.

 

10 Ways to Avoid Book Launch Exhaustion

Maybe it’s just me, but book launches are highly stressful and exhausting. Since I couldn’t figure out what to blog about this week, I thought I’d come up with a list of ways to help avoid exhaustion and also how to stay sane during the release of my latest romance novel, The Wanderer.

So, here are ten ways to avoid stress and/or relax when you are stressed out:

  1. Tea. Lots of tea. All the tea. Particularly if it’s Republic of Tea’s Lemon Chiffon Green Tea. So Good.
  2. Bath, a long soak can do wonders.
  3. Indulge in a good book, this week I was reading some free flash fiction.
  4. Naps. Don’t judge. Naps are brilliant. 
  5. Write. Sometimes, the best way to relaxing during a book launch is to continue working on your next project.
  6. Video games. My current favourite? Mass Effect Andromeda, hands down, the best game that I’ve played in ages.
  7. Indulge in binge watching on the telly. What am I watching lately? Hunted, Lock Up, The Great British Bake Off.
  8. Avoiding Goodreads, nothing more stressful than reading reviews lol.
  9. Get time away from the computer.
  10. Music. Nothing releases stress like singing loudly and badly. lol

What about you? What do you do to alleviate stress? If you’re an author, do you find book launches to be stressful?

 

Five Musical Things for Monday

This Monday, I thought I’d share five songs I’ve been listening to while writing this past week:

  1. LEJ – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLmDvvfYpCE
  2. Adele – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fk4BbF7B29w
  3. Cimorelli – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpZ82oU_UQc
  4. 7th Ave – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp28RylttZ0
  5. Kodaline – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtf7hC17IBM

What are you listening to this week?