Music to Write By…

It’s Wednesday, you lucky people, and that means it’s time for Wednesday Ramblings. This week, the gang (Bronwyn Green, Kris Norris, Jess JarmanJenny Trout, Gwendolyn Cease, and Kelly St. James) and I take a look at the music that we write by.

Music is a big inspiration for me. It’s almost Pavlovian…turn on the tunes and out come theWhat I need to write... words (a lot faster than when I have nothing but silence, that’s for sure). I will admit that, on occasion, the music flavors the words (in one memorable instance, an angry song on a playlist gave me a very angry protagonist), so I have learned that my soundtracks need to be fluid. If the songs I chose the first time around don’t work, I’ve learned to move ‘em out and try again.

My current WIP deals with a boy, a deadly virus, and a very nasty military man who would like to have said virus for his very own. With the home stretch in view (final ten chapters or so), I’m in the process of tweaking my musical inspiration just this week. Sometimes a single line can make or break a song’s spot on the list. Without further ado, I give you the current Reservoir playlist. The songs below are not listed by preference. It’s more of a historical timeline.

First up, the Jake Lonergan theme from Cowboys & Aliens. Nicely Western with some fine electric guitar, this theme matches my setting, which is the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana.

Extreme Ways by Moby is in the #2 slot. Its other name is the Bourne Theme, and you’d know it immediately if you heard it. It plays at the end of each of the four Jason Bourne movies (Bourne Identity, Bourne Supremacy, Bourne Ultimatum, and Bourne Legacy). It’s catchy.

Nickelback puts in two appearances with If Today Was Your Last Day and This is How You Remind Me. When I say deadly virus, think Lassa Fever. Hence, If Today Was Your Last Day.

Weathered by Creed is next. ‘Cause we are rusted and weathered, barely holding together. That line and a little guitar work brings this one into play.

U2 shows up with Red Hill Mining Town. One spoiler of a line puts this song on the list. Ask me after Reservoir is published what it is. :)

Ed Sheeran is a big winner in musical inspiration this time around. Both Lego House and I See Fire from the second Hobbit soundtrack shape this manuscript. The theme from the first Hobbit (Song of the Lonely Mountain) also makes the list. It’s the whole mountain/fire theme that speaks to the plot of this WIP.

I’m Still Here (Jim’s Theme) from Treasure Planet shows up. Slacker teen makes good? I’m so there.

Burn it Down by Linkin Park. Heat destroys viruses, folks. Easy peasy.

My ’80s is showing…Cry Little Sister by G Tom Mac and Africa by Toto come in toward the end of the list. What can I say? They just speak to me.

Light Up the Sky by the Afters is contemporary Christian. After you read Reservoir, listen to the song. One whole chapter is inspired by this song alone.

That’s about it for this playlist. There used to be 16 songs, but the current tweaked list comes in at a fighting weight of 13. When the computer comes out, these are the songs that come on. I listen to lots of other music that I find helpful (Skillet, Luminate and One Republic come to mind), but when actually writing, this is the soundtrack.

I will admit to this one guilty pleasure, however. It doesn’t show up on the playlist, but it’s close enough at hand that I can get when I need it for dance breaks with the girls. Weird Al…Party in the CIA. Just. Because.

What music is your inspiration? and for what kind of projects?








A Few of My Favorite Things: Movies

Rural Internet update for those interested: (If not, skip to the next paragraph now.) Our ISP came over and moved our little antenna thingie–from the top of the old TV antenna on the farmhouse to the light pole by the barn. So far, so good! Keep your fingers crossed. Lots of spring storms to get through yet.

It’s Wednesday, you lucky people, and that means it’s time for Wednesday Ramblings. This week, the gang (Bronwyn Green, Kris Norris, Jess Jarman, Leigh Jones, Jenny Trout, Gwendolyn Cease, and Kelly St. James) and I take a look at some of our favorite movies.

I had more favorite movies when I was teenager–the kind I would watch over and over again (Star Wars anyone?). Now that I’m older, I find that I have fewer favorites, but more movies that I just plain enjoy. Apparently I am now more easily entertained. Although that seems unlikely looking back at my younger self; I’ve always had leanings that way.

I have identified two broad trends in my watching habits of late…Westerns and cult favorites. The first may have something to do with men in dusters, the second to DH and my sense of humor. In some cases, there is a strange overlap between my two categories.

So, Westerns. Any of them. Especially if they have a younger Clint Eastwood, Viggo from, or a man with a duster in them. I want to write a Western some day. The whole concept…sparse dialogue, bigger-than-life characters, the culture of violence…fascinates me. Appaloosa is one of my absolute favorites. Take a West Point graduate with an 8-guage shotgun and pair him with a gunslinger with word-finding difficulties. Slow them down to the pace of the hot dry West and see what happens when a woman compromises their acute sense of right versus wrong. Love it!

Rooster CogburnHow about the new True Grit? Jeff Bridges rocks Rooster Cogburn.

Now…on to cult favorites. Raising Arizona. The Big Lebowski. The Men Who Stare at Goats. For the most part, DH and I are Coen-brothers junkies. When we’re really lucky…as in the case of the new True Grit…the Coen brothers do Westerns.  I also just the_men_who_stare_at_goats01realized Jeff Bridges is in three of the five movies I just mentioned, so maybe we’re just Jeff Bridges junkies.

So, that’s me…a rather strange mix. What’s your current trend in movies?

Hiyah! Take That, Stress!

Our topic this week is stress and how to combat it (at which point, I strike a pose and deliver a karate chop to stress’ midsection). Unfortunately, I’m not that great at dealing with stress. Mostly I run around gritting my teeth, clenching/unclenching my sweaty fists, and muttering under my breath. Not only does this not relieve my stress, it makes me appear a slight bit teched in the head. To top it off, there are some in this blogging group who wrote their blogs days ago–I won’t mention names, Bronwyn–creating a little stress for those of us who prefer the incentive of a deadline!photo(47)

I digress, however. Back to stress. Yes. And combating it.  Yes.

Really I got nothin’. But I reached deep and pulled out…ta da…

The porch hammock!



There’s is nothing like a gently swinging hammock to make you relax. Once you get the motion down, that is. Hammocks can be a bit like horses–they’ll throw you in a minute if they think they can.

As if that’s not enough…I also have the crazy green chairs on the porch.

See, I like to sit on my porch with a big cup of coffee and a kid or a book. It’s very relaxing, especially when the vultures are hanging out in the dead tree across the road. Nothing like local wildlife to add to the ambiance. If you can ignore the fact that the vultures are only hanging out because there’s no carrion stinky enough to attract them, they’re quite peaceful to watch.

The porch…top notch stress beater!

There’s also gardening. At this point, I attempted to upload a pic of my fabulous DH busting some sod in the front flower bed, but alas the home Internet decided to konk out. So instead of uploading said photo, I clenched my fists and muttered a little.

My last stress buster…hitting the pool. I like to swim laps. Lots of them. As much as I love the farmette, it was a real blow to lose access to a pool big enough to swim laps in. Again no pic (reference above about sketchy home Internet). Also, my hands started to sweat here.

So…since I seem to have lost my ability to finish up this post, take a look at the blogs of my partners in crime. Bronwyn Green, Kris Norris, Jess Jarman, Leigh Jones, Jenny Trout, Gwendolyn Cease, and Kelly St. James.

While I wait, I’m going to go sit on the porch and grit my teeth.

UPDATE: I had to stop at McDonald’s on the way to my day job today to post this. Ahhh, rural Internet. But the counter girl was very friendly and the coffee was great. How about you? How do you combat stress?










If It Was Fun, They Wouldn’t Call It Work

Yup, that’s right. The topic this week is fabulous (and when I say fabulous, I mean not fabulous at all) jobs we’ve had.

I’ve had a number of strange jobs over the years. First and foremost, you have to understand I grew up on a farm, so my early jobs were rural jobs. Then I became a forensic anthropologist, and my clients–in a manner of speaking–were the dead. Dealing with the dead and the natural world tends to let down some buffers that I have grown to appreciate very much.

This isn’t a full listing of all my career choices, but just the high points, so to speak.

Asparagus picker: This entailed sitting on a wagon being hauled behind a tractor. The wagon held four of us about eighteen inches off the ground plus had rooms for boxes at our sides. Little metal bars poked out straight ahead of us with an L-bend at the end. We sat at the edge of the wagon with our feet out on the stirrups, leaned forward, and snapped off asparagus stalks as they rolled between our legs and under the wagon. We then piled them in the boxes, all oriented in the same direction. My sister kicked ass at this job. Me? Not so much. Still, I did my best. Plus side: It paid relatively well. Minus: My hands smelled like asparagus for six weeks or so each spring. Mmm. Yumm.

Worm picker: You know those little cottage cheese-looking containers at rural gas stations filled with night crawlers? For a brief–and it was brief–period, I picked worms for those containers. It was what it sounds like. A shallow ditch was filled with mulch and soil and covered over with leaves. It was also salted with worms. Once the bed has time to mature, kids were hired to crawl alongside the bed and fill the cottage cheese containers with fifty worms. Remember my asparagus-picking champ of a sister? Yup, she kicked butt at this one too. Me? Not so much. I had a bad tendency to lose count around thirty or so. Then I would have to dump the squirmy little critters out and recount. I usually lost five or so escape artists each time this happened. I also was known to get to fifty and then accidentally spill the container. Did I mention this career was short lived? I’m having a hard time coming up with a plus side for this one. It wasn’t one of my success stories.

Decomposition research facility: The title speaks for itself. I got one word for you–maggots.

I don’t know if I’ve grown soft or if I’ve just developed an appreciation for those buffers I mentioned earlier. I enjoy dirt less these days and hot showers more.

Be sure to check out my partners in crime for some of their fabulous (and by fabulous, you know exactly what I mean) job experiences. Bronwyn Green, Jess Jarman, Kris Norris, and Gwendolyn Cease!

How about you? I know we don’t have the market cornered on bad jobs. Give us the scoop on your worst!

A Few of My Favorite Things: Books

Yay! It’s time for Wednesday Ramblings. Be sure to check out my partners in crime for this tag team: Bronwyn Green, Kellie St. James, Jess Jarman, Kris Norris, Jenny Trout Leigh Jones, and Gwendolyn Cease! This week we’re looking at some of our favorite books.

I’ll be honest. A version of this post was published earlier on my blog under the Monday Musings blog group. However, I have made a few additions. Read on.

Ooh, where to start…Tolkien

How about here? Tolkien! Both The Hobbit and the trilogy. Hobbits, dwarves, elves, glowing blue swords. Throw in a ring, a dragon, some Cracks of Doom and beautiful writing and you have an epic.


What about The Stand by Stephen King?

He can rock a killer plague like no one else. This book is really a foundation piece for me…good versus Evil (and yes, that’s with a capital E and pronounced Eville!).


Then there’s Rebecca. Who doesn’t get the shivers from Mrs. Danvers? I never dream of Manderly, but I sure wish I would.


To Kill a Mockingbird. I won this gorgeous copy in a library reading contest. I even named one of our horses Scout (although DH also pointed out that was the name of Tonto’s horse). I finally introduced my 15-year-old to this one last fall, and she adores it as much as I do.


Then there’s Catch-22.  This particular copy has been to both Vietnam and Laos–packed in my footlocker for one trip and DH’s for the other. Looks like it. Probably smells like it too. And looks like it smells like it.


Hotel Paradise by Martha Grimes. I can’t find my personal copy at the moment for a picture. It’s similar to Catch-22 above. Bought in a Bangkok bookshop for the flight home to Honolulu back in the day, it looks like crap. But it’s all love. The narrator reminds me of Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird.

My latest fave was introduced to me by Bronwyn: Maggie Stiefvater. I like most everything she writes, but especially The Scorpio Races. And Shiver. And…well, pretty much anything by Maggie Stiefvater. She’s lyrical. When I grow up, I shall write like Maggie.

So those are some of my favorite books. If you haven’t read any of these, I encourage you to choose one of them and dive in. All of these books have inspired me in one way or another: Good versus evil, the power of one individual to change the world, suspenseful settings, irony. I like to think my own writing carries the stamp of some or all of these books. And the writing itself never fails to inspire.

How about you? Have you read any of these? Did you like them? If not these, what’s your recommendation?

Cover Reveal!!

Today, authors Bronwyn Green, Jessica Jarman, and Jenny Trout unveil the cover of their upcoming anthology:
If Ever I Would Leave You
(July, 2014)
Keep reading for a chance to win an Arthurian-themed DVD prize pack or a $25 Amazon gift card!

Bronwyn Green
A year after Tabby Nolan’s sister vanished from the Lake Michigan shore with her boyfriend, Liam, Tabby visits the spot where the two were last seen– and finds herself pulled into the crumbling world of Avalon.
Since his disappearance, Liam has been trapped in the mythical land, with no link to the world he knew. Now, their shared memories of Tabby’s missing sister are all they can cling to as Avalon dies around them.
But Tabby doesn’t want to be a replacement for her sister, and her growing attachment to Liam feels like a betrayal. As Avalon fades around them, Liam and Tabby must rely on each other– or be lost with the ancient kingdom forever.
Albion’s Circle: The Deepest Cut
Jessica Jarman
For nineteen years, Anna has been plagued by dreams of lives lived only in legend. Finally free from the family that believed her hopeless and worthless, she’s ready to start her life over—alone.
When Anna meets an enigmatic stranger claiming to be the legendary wizard Merlin, she is forced to question the very reality she’s struggled to accept. With the mythic figures from her dreams intruding on her waking life, Anna learns that she’s been reborn to fight an ancient evil alongside King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.
Caught in an ages old conflict, Anna is the key to stopping a dark magic that will destroy the world—and Merlin wants to make sure that this time, Anna isn’t alone.
A Choice Fit For A Queen
Jenny Trout
writing as
Abigail Barnette
For perpetual overachiever Madison Lane, a summer studying Arthurian mythology in the Welsh countryside with professor Thomas Evans is a dream come true, and the adventure of a lifetime.
Of course, the enormous crush Madison developed on the professor after a semester of his lectures at U of M has absolutely nothing to do with her desire to learn more about the enduring legend of Camelot. At least, that’s what she’s telling her parents.
When Madison meets fellow student Rhys Crewe, sparks fly, throwing her plans for wild fling with Professor Evans completely out of whack—as do her unexpectedly complicated feelings for Thomas. With tales of Arthur and Lancelot haunting her every waking moment, Madison has to make the most difficult choice of her life.

Jessica Jarman is an author, blogger, and rather
obsessive fangirl. Having grown up in Upper Michigan and currently living in Minnesota, she is a Midwestern girl through and through. And wouldn’t have it any other way.

When Jessica isn’t working to get words on the page, she passes the time with her amazing husband and four children, attempting to be crafty (and failing miserably), squeeing uncontrollably over her favorite shows or curling up with a good book.
Bronwyn Green is an author, blogger and compulsive crafter. She lives Michigan with her husband, two sons and three somewhat psychotic cats. When not frantically writing, she can be found helping in her youngest son’s classroom or binge-watching Netflix while working on her latest craft project.
Abigail Barnette (Jenny Trout) is a writer, blogger, and funny person. She has written award winning and bestselling erotic romance as Abigail Barnette. Writing as Jennifer Armintrout, she made the USA Today bestseller list with Blood Ties Book One: The Turning. Her novel American Vampire was named one of the top ten horror novels of 2011 by Booklist Magazine Online. She is a proud Michigander, mother of two, and wife to the only person alive capable of spending extended periods of time with her without wanting to strangle her. Visit her on twitter (@Jenny_Trout) or at her blog,

Behind the Scenes of My Latest Project (AKA Geek Girl Alert)!!

Yay! It’s time for Wednesday Ramblings. Be sure to check out my partners in crime for this tag team: Bronwyn Green, Kellie St. James, Jess Jarman, Kris Norris, Jenny Trout, and Leigh Jones. Joining the madness this week is Gwendolyn Cease!

Today we discuss behind the scenes of our latest project. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit to definite geek girl tendencies.  Although I’m having a great time researching my WIP, I could see where it might not hold the same fascination for all.

Subject matter? A killer virus. Not just any killer virus, but a hemorrhagic fever (think Lassa Fever). Because who doesn’t love a good plague?

Hello? Anybody still out there?Virus hunters of the CDC

Really, I’m talking can’t-put-down reading. Armed with my orange Sharpie highlighter, I get to dive into books like this one…

Stick with me. Because if you thought that one was good, check out this one.




Or how about this video?





Used booksellers everywhere have become my best friends as I search out info on the first outbreaks of Ebola (1976), Lassa Fever (1969), Marburg (1967) and the Sin Nombre hantavirus (1993).

I also work at a hospital and I must admit to a little lab coat stalking as I worked out who were the infectious disease docs. Then, yes, I walked up to them and said amazing first lines like, “Can I talk to you about the life cycle of a virus?” Or how about this beauty, “How do you feel about convalescent plasma?”

I. Am. A. Geek. (And that would be a capital G no matter how I punctuated it.)

How about you? Any burning questions about viruses I can answer for you? Better yet, what’s going on behind the scenes of your latest project?