N. Renee Brown

Part-time Author, Full-time Book Junkie

Word and Tune, Hand in Hand?

It must be something in the air or water or weather, but lately everyone in my reader (and remind me later to do a neat little update on my latest net gadgets) has been talking about writing and music and I just wanted to take a moment to chime in.

Here are a few interesting tidbits about me/friends/writing/music…

I had a very talented friend who was majoring in music education, she was able to play the piano, sax, clarinet, flute, and drums (and I’m sure many more I just never had the opportunity to witness). She took part in an experiment dealing with memorization.

She was put in a soundproof room and given a list of items she had 30 seconds to memorize it. When she was done they gave her 30 seconds of silence then asked her to recite all the items she could remember.

Next they did the same thing with numbers.

She did very well on both of these, surprising even herself.

Then they turned on talk radio softly in the background, gave her a different set of items and then numbers.

Again she did very well.

THEN they piped in a piece of classical music, again softly in the background and again gave her a different set of items and then numbers.

She bombed.

She was trying to concentrate on the lists at hand but her mind kept deconstructing the music. She told me later she found herself straining to hear the notes being played INSTEAD of concentrating on the lists. She was shocked that a piece, one that she had played often and knew well, could do that to her especially when she KNEW she had to recite these lists again.

We tried it on our own, we set up a little area (granted not as silent as the place she had been in) and gave me a list of items and numbers.

I did great on the silence.

I did great on the music.

On the talk radio, I could not stop myself from listening to what was going on! I thought I was paying attention to the lists, I thought I knew what to watch out for and was able to drown it out…not so friends, not so!

Actually, she quizzed me on what the radio had been saying right after she asked me about the second list and I could tell her EVERYTHING they had been talking about.

Another interesting tidbit with me and music.

I used music heavily to help write a short story that sold to a small (at that time) webzine. I played the same song over and over to keep me in the mood and in the mind space for the story. I did it from start to finish, the walkman on LOUD and my fingers doing the talking.

It wasn’t a half bad story, and at the end I put a credit to the song that had given me such inspiration.

Unlike now, when people like Rachel Caine and Carrie Vaughn put not just songs but playlists at the beginnings of their books, no one I was reading was crediting music in their creation process.

I went out on a limb.

I took a chance and stuck it in there.

And I got laughed at.

Respectfully, the editor asked me what that credit was and if I had intended it to be there. He assured me that sending him a working copy of the piece with my “personal notes” in it was fine, but did I really want him to publish some strange credit to a rock band at the back of the story?

Unfortunately, being new to the publishing arena and not really having a voice or the experience with which to stand up for myself, I took the credit out.

Well, here today, let me put it back in.

Thank you for the inspiration…The Cranberries – Electric Blue

Find your peace and live it…music or not!


Playing Catch Up.

I’ve fallen off the face of the earth, but don’t think I’ve stopped writing.

Actually, I’ve fallen off the face of the earth because I have been writing! I’ve got a deadline, I’ve got to finish 100,000 words on my novel, “In Harm’s Way” by Memorial Day (which is currently 7 days away)…thus all my energy and all my spare time have been poured into my novel.

Good, yes?

I do have pictures for all intervening Photo Sundays…so I haven’t really fallen off that bike, and I’ve written quite a bit on Hawaii. Thus my journaling has not really gone away, it has just been unsuitable for this forum.

So, here is the first of my new posts and if I can keep up my pace on the novel, perhaps you will see a few more before Balticon (currently 5 days away) and absolutely a few after. With Balticon having such a diverse and lively writers track I am sure to have quite a few things to say and people to report on. Well, without further ado:

The World’s Nicest Authors!

Sometimes it’s not the quality or the quantity that you write but who you are that will influence people to not only publish your work, but buy it as well. I know quite a few self-proclaimed “mid-list” writers that I am sure got their foot in the door by virtue of being who they are.

These people are charming, amusing, sweet, and seem to take an honest interest in the people around them. They look at fans, fellow writers, editors, agents, etc and while they may instantly think “what can they do for me” you will NEVER see it in their eyes and if they decide you are not going to be able to help them you will never suffer the brunt of that.

People like Carol Berg, Maria V. Synder, James Daniel Ross and Tee Morris will always earn my money the hard way and I will always gladly give it. Not because everything they turn out is a bestseller, they have misses just like everyone else. Not because I know everything they write will turn into the next Harry Potter, yeah right I could only wish that for them. Not because every book they churn out is a gem that will change my life and I will treasure it forever, come on people I’m being honest here very few books will ‘CHANGE’ my life no matter how much I wish they would.

BUT BECAUSE they are people worth supporting, they are the meat and potatoes that keep me sustained between this instant classic and that horrible dredge. They are people I can speak to, and compliment without believing that the words I speak go in one ear and out another without even creasing the overindulged mind in between…trust me I’ve met a few like that. They are just good people that not only deserve to make a living doing something they love, but they aren’t half bad at it as well.

So, next time you are walking around a conference or meeting an author (mid-list or not) just remember that what people see out of you may well influence how they feel about you when it is your turn in the spotlight. Don’t write people off because you haven’t heard of them…give them a chance and when they blow that chance just walk away. It’s not worth the hassle of fighting and it’ll make you look like the bigger person to everyone involved.

Back from the peace,