50k words dance

I like round numbers. And 50k is the NaNoWriMo target. So it’s pretty exciting to me when a MS gets to 50k, like Isla#3 just did — even though it will be at least another 20k words before I’m done. And it took me almost six months to get this far, not one.

When I tweeted my victory, Wendy made the following suggestion:


So, gentle reader, I would like you to imagine me dancing like this (only with less coordination and more singing along; Jamiroquai is very catchy!):

If my manuscript were a song…

Yesterday I entered Lucid Dreaming in Pitch Slam. The theme is one of those musical talent shows, like Australian/American/Armenian Idol. You audition (send your pitch) and if Simon Cowell doesn’t hate you, you move on to the next round. The agents, if they make requests, do so as record executives.

I know, right? How cute is that? 🙂

Anyway, as well as providing details like genre and word count, I had to name a song that sums up my manuscript.

For Lucid Dreaming, that was easy. (For Isla, I’d have a lot more trouble.) It’s Enter Sandman by Metallica. But it has to be an orchestral version, because violins. VIOLINS!

Ahem. What song would you choose for your manuscript/s or WIP/s?

Editing to music

I don’t write to music much (unless I need it to block out some other, more annoying sound — like my son watching kids TV). Usually it’s about the silence for me.

But I can edit to music. This song is what has gotten me through NaNoEditMo. Well, this and the rest of the Perfect Tripod album it’s from.

Shared for your aural enjoyment. (Also, I have a MASSIVE geek crush on Scod, the guy on the far right with the glasses. This is one reason I can’t write romance — most romance readers seem to prefer beefcake. I don’t do beefcake.)

Winter Warmers blog hop

Once upon a time, a wonderful writer and blogger named Blue was tagged in a blog hop called the Summer Sun Award. Because Blue is a rebel, she decided to go along with the blog hop, but when she tagged people to participate she flipped it on its head, renaming it Winter Warmers.

And, in a great sense of irony because it actually is summer here next month, she tagged me. 😉

Favourite song with winter in the title or lyrics.

Confession: I could only think of Winter Wonderland when I pondered this question. And it’s ok, but not my favourite. Then I thought, hey, maybe I could make the question “favourite song about winter or Christmas”. Then I chose White Wine in the Sun by Tim Minchin, which (when I listened to it as I was preparing this blog post) made me cry.

Gee, thanks, Tim. :p

Ironically, it’s about an Australian Christmas anyway — white wine in the sun might not go down so well at Christmas in England. Which makes it about summer. I’m a rebel like that.

Favourite book about winter

My most recent favourite would have to be The Memory Game by Sharon Sant. It’s not about winter, per se, but winter plays an important role.

Here’s the blurb:

18741309If there is a hell, I think maybe this is it.’

Weeks after fifteen-year-old David is killed by a speeding driver, he’s still hanging around and he doesn’t know why. The only person who can see and hear him is the girl he spent his schooldays bullying.

Bethany is the most hated girl at school. She hides away, alone with her secrets until, one day, the ghost of a boy killed in a hit-and-run starts to haunt her.

Together, they find that the end is only the beginning…

I should warn you, though — this book made me cry like a baby!

Favourite “hot” winter film

I’ve been sitting here thinking and thinking, and I’ve got nothing. I’m just not a film person. The only cold scene I could even think of from a movie that I love is from Fellowship of the Ring, where they try and cross the mountain, and Legolas is showing off by walking on top of the snow.

So I’ll say pass to this question and lose a point. And know that once this post is up, I will think of ten or twelve different answers.

Favourite winter memory

Duns Castle. My future home.

Duns Castle. My future home.

In 2011, we went to Scotland. It was a scorching Australian summer here, so we arrived in the depths of a northern hemisphere winter. All the locals thought we were barmy for choosing that time of year to visit, but that’s alright. Besides, we stayed in a castle for four nights, and who wouldn’t love that? It would’ve been perfect if it had snowed, but it held off till the day we left.

That being said, what’s not to love about a roaring fireplace someone else has stoked when it’s freezing outside?

I also have an enduring memory of driving along a country road through an area where it had snowed, and seeing a tree totally covered in snow and ice crystals. It was breathtaking.

Favourite winter holiday destination

Somewhere warm. Unless it’s a castle.

What books will be in your suitcase this winter?

Well, given winter is just over six months away, that depends how slowly I read. It may be something on these shelves.

My to-be-read shelf has conducted a hostile takeover

My to-be-read shelf has conducted a hostile takeover

I’m also certain I’ll be reading and re-reading some of my own books in the interim, because Isla’s Inheritance comes out in the Australian spring, so there will be ALL OF THE PROOFING TO DO!

And I tag…

Stacey Nash

Katie Teller

Emily Mead

Karen Soutar

Lauren Spieller

Musical inspiration: Tripod vs the Dragon

Tortured bad guy inspiration. This. Watch it.

It’s from a (mostly) comedy DVD called Tripod vs the Dragon. I’ll give you one guess which one she’s playing.

(Note: there are two copies of this on YouTube — I’ve linked this one because it’s better quality but if you are watching this with small people around or the f-bomb bothers you, don’t watch the last two seconds of the clip. The song is safe though.)

I was made in darkest night
Of chalky ash and children’s fright
I do not think you know what you behold
I was made of aching hurt
Of fairy tales and bloody dirt
I hope you do exactly as you’re told

Siegfried and Saint George
Potter, Baggins, Beowulf
Were tempered in my forge
So I say to you and yours

All caught fire in the ivory tower
In the marble arches
In the dust and darkness
And I have you on my mind

Once a mighty tree was grown
For you to know all that is known
I hope you hear exactly what I say
And by your sword a branch came down
And where the blood fell to the ground
It is my cradle and there I must stay

And should ever you return
Well I must confess my story to be true
You will be burned
And I hope that you have learned:

All caught fire in the ivory tower
In the marble arches
In the dust and darkness
And all caught fire in the ivory tower
And I have you on my mind
You’re on my mind
You’re on my mind

I could watch this on repeat all day, if only YouTube had a repeat function. (Someone get onto that, will you?) I have the DVD too, but that’s less convenient. :p

Interview: Melissa A. Petreshock, new adult author

Today I’m interviewing Melissa A. Petreshock, whose debut novel, Fire of Stars and Dragons (book one in the Stars and Souls trilogy), comes out with Swoon Romance in March 2014.

Your Stars and Souls trilogy has dragons, vampires, elves and at least one demigod. If you could transform into any of those types of critter, what would you choose and why?

Definitely, it would not be an elf. I’m not a violent person, and they are a warrior race. The deities hold themselves to such a high set of standards, though they do often fall short. I think I’d be setting myself up for failure there. Lol. The dietary restrictions of the vampires might be difficult for me — too many things I’d have to give up. I’d have to say a dragon, though I’m not sure how they’d feel about a female dragon among the brotherhood. However, I’d love to be able to travel and have a serious distrust of airplanes. I will fly on them, but they make me extremely nervous. Just to be able to shift from human form to dragon form and go wherever I wanted to would be cool.

Melissa A. Petreshock

Melissa A. Petreshock

Is the world of Stars and Souls, which you describe as 22nd century sovereign America, an Earth-like parallel, or a fantastical future Earth? How did you dream it up?

Technically, it’s a bit of both and slightly dystopian. Essentially, it is this world only the year is 2189 when it opens. All supernatural beings have come out of the shadows and made themselves known to the public during a revolutionary period in Earth’s history. America has seen significant changes. The supernatural beings have taken over, creating a monarchy, so we now live in United Sovereign America with the nearly 2500 year old vampire King Corrin ruling. Being less powerful, the humans have become rather repressed within society, particularly women; though the laws are intended to “protect” them, that’s not how certain women feel, despite this way of life being the only one known to them for generations.

The concept is a combination of pure fantasy and a fantastical statement of political and social views. It’s a magnified and extreme concept of corrupted power, dysfunctional leadership, and the desire to make a difference. As well, my female main character Cait is a defined statement to young women that it’s not necessary to allow yourself to be pegged into a hole determined by society. There is more within you than outside influences may tell you, and sometimes it takes just a little support, encouragement, and a lot of courage to face the world head on, no matter what obstacles you face.

If you could give one piece of advice to a writer starting their first novel, what would it be?

Don’t write to the market. Always write the story you believe in, the story you feel in your heart and in your gut. Fads in the market come and go, but if you believe in your writing wholeheartedly and put the work into it, eventually you will find someone else, be it an agent or a publisher, who has the same enthusiasm about it. I went out on a limb by writing what I did, totally unique romantic heroes and incorporating political/societal statements in the underlying story, but my publisher fell in love with it. I signed with Swoon because Georgia had the same excitement in her voice when we spoke on the phone that I feel when talking about my work.

You describe yourself as a music addict, and have the 32-song playlist for Fire of Stars and Dragons on your website. I’m in awe and a little jealous, because I usually write in silence! What song are you listening to in your writing right now, and what sort of scene is it for?

Oh my… With 13 chapters finished, Blood of Stars and Gods already has a 20-song playlist, but the second book will be longer than the first. I’m absolutely a music addict. I have over 50GB of songs on my laptop and download stuff regularly. If I didn’t have a specific method for choosing songs, I’d have to write in complete silence, and I do edit in silence. Words flow with music, but edits require deep concentration. At least that’s my process.

Choosing the right songs for the scenes I write makes the difference between being able to write with music playing or not. They have to fit the emotional tone or events within the scenes or chapters of the book. If you listened to the entire playlist for Fire of Stars and Dragons, you’d have a great sense of the feelings the characters experience before you ever read a word of the book.

Currently, my iTunes is set to “Love Alone Is Worth the Fight” by Switchfoot, which after the way chapter 13 ended, comes into where the specific character I’m writing for stands both in his emotional state and the reason behind actions you’ll see him take. He isn’t willing to give up, even though he’s facing what seems like insurmountable obstacles. If the greater part of your destiny is predefined, what is worth the risk of consequences to fight for what you want and believe you deserve? Where does the line between right and wrong fall when you’re sure your goal is justified?

What book release are you looking forward to in the next three months?

Well, I have several friends releasing books soon, and I’m looking forward to all of them. One of my beta readers, Zara Hoffman’s first book, The Belgrave Daughter comes out on 14 October. A terrific friend of mine, Joshua J. Johnson, has his first book releasing on 29 October, a middle grade book called Bones on the Surface that I’m looking forward to reading with my 9yo son. Erin Albert’s The Prophecy sounds incredibly exciting, and so does Kristen Strassel’s Because the Night, both November debut releases. Then Josh also has Soulless, a thrilling YA novel coming out on 30 November . These are all on my Goodreads TBR shelf.

I’ll confess though, I’ve now received eARCs of The Belgrave Daughter and Because the Night, so I really only have to wait for the others. 😉

About the author:

Debut New Adult paranormal/fantasy romance author, Melissa A. Petreshock lives on a small farm in rural Kentucky with her genius husband, three exceptional children, and their feline overlords.

When not inhaling or exhaling words, she subsists on unnatural doses of coffee, sarcasm, and music. Melissa can often be found singing and dancing around her house or randomly doing Zumba routines, if not playing Wii Just Dance with her kids. She also fangirls The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Falling Skies and True Blood like a total freak.

Spending most of her time weaving myths, reality and imagination into a fantasy of dragons, deities, vampires and elves in a world she created, Melissa often forgets she lives where there are no dragons or faeries in the woods surrounding her house. (But she never stops hoping…)

You can find her at her website, on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, & Instagram. (NEEDS MOAR SOCIAL MEDIA!)

About the writing:

Stars & Souls Trilogy is a New Adult fantasy/paranormal romance set in a world filled with shapeshifting dragons, a powerful demigod, an ancient vampire monarch, and a sassy human chick keeping them all on their alpha male toes.

Fire of Stars and Dragons… Undying love. Timeless bonds. Eternal consequences.

Coming March 2014 from Swoon Romance

In 22nd-century sovereign America, archaic laws declare 21-year-old Caitriona Hayden a neglected dependent following the death of her uncle, landing the sassy and self-reliant high society young woman in the midst of a trio of quintessential alpha male suitors in a world where human females should be seen and not heard.

Theo Pendragon claims her as his ward, ordained to guard her through to a long-awaited destiny unbeknownst to Cait, but finds more than he expected when passion ignites within the dragon for the first time.

Always drawn to the pursuit of knowledge rather than the heat of desire, powerful demigod Dante cannot deny everything his future holds in Caitriona.

America’s monarch, ancient vampire Corrin, has no interest in the frivolity of love, yet marrying Cait could be the answer to his continued survival.

Thrown from studying for college exams to facing matters of life and death, eternity and destiny, loyalty and love, revenge and deception, Cait must choose a husband knowing the consequences are eternal, the love undying, the bond timeless.

Blood of Stars and Gods… Blood saves. Blood lies. Blood runs between sacrifice and gain.

In progress. Release to be determined.

Routine as an aid to writing

thurschilbadgejpg(This is a Thursday’s Children post, but I’m posting it Friday morning. Hey, it’s still Thursday somewhere in the world!)

The stereotype of a writer at work is often that of a person with a laptop in a coffee shop, observing the clientele and sipping their latte as they tap away at the keyboard. I am not that writer. I am getting better at tuning out background noise—I have a preschooler, after all—but I’m only really able to write under those circumstances when I’m really in the zone. On a normal day it’s a struggle, and I usually only write once my son is in bed and the TV is off.

Until recently, I also had a housemate. His computer was in the same space as mine and he was mad keen on World of Warcraft—so while I prefer to write without music I used to fire up whatever was on the hard drive and put headphones on, to block out the sound of orcs being slain or whatever he was doing at the time. I didn’t usually need to have the music up loud, but just had it on as white noise.

The thing is that for a while there was only one album on my hard drive. I don’t like to use the CD player in the computer because it’s old and sounded like a jet engine preparing for takeoff (even through the headphones). I could have copied some other music onto the hard drive to have it available, but I never got around to it and, after a while, playing that particular album was habit-forming.

CaptureAnd that is why I can’t hear the violin at the start of the orchestral version of I’m in a Cage by Tim Minchin (from Tim Minchin and the Heritage Orchestra) without my brain shifting gears into writing mode. I wrote my first two books—Isla’s Inheritance and its sequel—to this music. I’m hesitant to describe the album as the actual soundtrack to those books, because the music isn’t actually related to the story (I didn’t write a comedy, for a start)—but the album was the soundtrack to my writing.

My current work-in-progress is mostly being written to the blissful sounds of a quiet house. I did experiment with some other CDs (played in the CD player—I’m so old-fashioned), but none of them grabbed me. It seems I can only write to silence or Tim Minchin.

Hey, whatever works, right?

Do you have particular music you play to get yourself in the mood to write, or other routines that you always follow? Do you struggle without them?

Click here to see this week’s other Thursday’s Children blog posts.

Music habits while writing..

I got to thinking about my music-listening habits while I am drafting. With Isla’s Inheritance and the sequel, I either listened to nothing at all (when you have a small-child noisemaker, silence is very restful!) or to Tim Minchin live—one of the concerts with an orchestra.

It wasn’t that Tim Minchin’s comedy music style was particularly appropriate for the books, just that it was the thing I chose when I first started drafting, and I came to associate it with writing those books. I play it quietly—just enough to block the background noise of traffic or people moving around the house. My writing sessions tend to be short by necessity so usually I’d get through the full album by the end.

But I thought maybe when I write something different I ought to branch out, that maybe a new musical style could help me capture the voice for a new book.

Which got me to wondering how other writers approach music when writing. I love stickybeaking into other writers’ processes. It makes me feel more normal. 😉

So I asked some of my tweeps about their writing habits when it comes to music, and here is what some of them said. (Two or three others said they write with silence, or with the TV as background noise, but I haven’t included them here because, well, MUSIC!) I hope you find them as interesting as I did.

If you’re inclined to share, please leave a comment about your approach.


So it would seem that, these days, more and more writers are releasing music scores with their books. The music being what they listened to during the writing of said books. To me, as a wannabe writer, this said that if I wanted to write amazing literary masterpieces, then I needed to listen to amazing music as I wrote as well.

I hit upon one snag. I love to sing along to all the songs! Now this wouldn’t be a problem, but I end up spending most of my writing time bopping along to the tunes, singing at the top of my lungs (even when I wear headphones) into an imaginary microphone, and generally annoying everyone who happens to be in the house at the time.

Oh yes, and that other problem, I get no writing done because I am majorly distracted by my singing/miming prowess. However, I have found the solution to this problem. Music with no lyrics. Classical, piano or gothic (look it up on Youtube, some is rubbish, but a lot is inspiring) tend to get my writing juices cranking. I even find that, if the piece I am listening to is particularly moving, so are the words I write while listening to it. (Well, that’s just my opinion anyway, and like most writers, I guess I’m fairly biased.)


For me, accompaniment is usually ambient: classical, orchestral, strings, or, my personal favourite, movie soundtracks. Typically I find that if I know the words to a song there is temptation to sing them aloud, and that even if I resist that temptation my mind still goes to words it knows rather than create new ones. With classical this is never an issue!

But sometimes, when the occasion is right, I also select music by scene: hard rock for training or a fight; bass-heavy for a party; indie or swing for the playful; artists and songs that suit a certain character to help flesh them out.

Regardless of what I’m listening to, I often use music engines such as 8tracks that allow you to search for playlists by tag: “epic”, “alternative”, “girly”, “50s”, “badass”, or heck, even “writing”!


For me, listening to music while I write is like having the soundtrack to the film that’s running through my head. It started off that I’d have whatever music I loved at the time playing while I wrote. For my first book and its sequel, it was The Rasmus–an alternative rock band that I’d fallen in love with. With later works, they’ve either been influenced by the latest album I’m listening too, or I’ve started writing them and added an album as the story’s unofficial soundtrack. My steampunk superhero romance has Linkin Park’s Living Things, my gritty space opera The Dirty Youth. My YA scifi novel had My Chemical Romance and Elliott Minor.

At the moment I’m looking at buying some soundtracks from my favourite sci-fi series and films so that I have music without the distraction of lyrics – there’s nothing worse than typing out a really great line only to realise you’ve lifted it straight from the song you were just listening too. Inspiration is great – copying is not!


Mostly, when I’m writing, I listen to instrumental music, so the words don’t interfere. But it has to be just the right kind. Classical, in my mind is too loud and harsh, and movie soundtracks are ok, but primarily for the sweeping, dramatic scenes. Usually I want something that is a more earthy and airy and a little less battlegroundesque.

These are some of my favorite artists and albums for that purpose, listed from most relaxing to most energising:

  • Mum – Finally We Are No One
  • Robyn Miller – Myst Soundtrack (yes I used to play this, yes I listen to the soundtrack)
  • Sigur Ros – Anything and everything Sigur Ros
  • Little People – Mickey Mouse Operation
  • Sunlounger –
  • The Future Sounds of London – Lifeforms  and Accelerator
  • Nightmares on Wax – Carboot Soul, Mind Elevation
  • Bonobo – Black Sands
  • Explosions in the Sky – All of a Sudden I Miss Everything

… also a smattering of things from Buckethead, RJD2, Mark Farina, Telepopmusik, Bibio, Caribou, Thievery Corporation, Four Tet, The Orb and Sia often show up on my playlists. Sometimes I sneak in a bit of things with words, and if I do they are invariably Lykke Li, Junip or Iron and Wine.


When I write, I find I do it best accompanied to the sweet sounds of silence. I’m so obsessed with words that even listening to background music can pull my focus to the lyrics in the song and what it all means. Before I know it, I’ll be so out of my manuscript I struggle to get back in. Silence just works so much better for me. More often than not, the only thing I like to hear while drafting is the casual clink of my wine glass against my teeth (ouch).

However, there is the odd exception to this rule: and that exception goes by the name of Swift. Taylor Swift.

Yes, I know it’s embarrassing, and it’s not like I know ALL* the words or anything, but I feel like she’s the quintessential emotional wreck that a lot of the time my characters seem to be. Whether I’m after a heartache, a strong stance, a romance or a fiery heat of the moment exchange, Taylor is passionate about it and that can definitely put me in the mood to write if I’m stuck in a moment. I just have to make sure my characters avoid saying never, ever, ever, ever…

*All meaning all. I’d say I’m familiar with a comfortable 99%