Tag Archives: music

“But life is just a party, and parties weren’t meant to last.” —Prince, 1999

Parties Weren’t Meant to Last

“But life is just a party, and parties weren’t meant to last.”

Prince, 1999

Prince passed away yesterday; he was fifty-seven. Between the fan tributes, listening to the nonstop playlists on KEXP, and watching buildings lit in purple as tribute around the world, I’ve found myself musing over his loss and how I handle the death of someone like Prince.

2016 has been a rough year for music already; we have lost some incredible titans: Maurice White, Merle Haggard, Phife Dogg, the indomitable David Bowie, and more. The internet as a whole allows all of us to share in moments together, and following each loss comes an outpouring of love, respect, and sadness. It’s beautiful to see how many people are touched by the creations of a single individual.

I was talking with a friend of mine this morning about how I handle moments like this differently. I didn’t know Prince personally, so I don’t cry, and I don’t generally get emotional. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care. My emotions just go in a different direction. As I reflect on Prince’s life, I find myself inspired.

The quote I pulled from the lyrics of 1999, really resonated with me this morning—like a party, life doesn’t last. We are here on this earth for a finite time, and we’re lucky enough to live in an age where we can pursue whatever we wish. Often people squander this. I know I have. I can’t begin to calculate how many hours in the past I’ve wasted.

For me, the death of a titan like Prince doesn’t depress me. Sure, I will miss seeing performances like the halftime show from Super Bowl XLI, but looking back on his life and seeing what he was able to do in only fifty-seven years leaves me in awe. Prince’s life shows us what can happen when you are willing to put aside distractions and pour 100% of yourself into your creations. Look at his impact on music. Look at his influence in songwriting. Look at how he inspired so many generations of performers. A skinny kid from Minneapolis, Minnesota profoundly changed music forever. We won’t forget that, and that’s incredible. That energizes me, motivates me, and it makes me want to put aside all distractions and do the same.

The party of life may not last, but if you throw a good one, the memory will never fade. Rest in peace, Prince. Thanks.

Wild Territories: JazzSaints of the Bell Forging Cycle

The Jazz Saints Of The Bell Forging Cycle

Red Litten World is out the door. The third adventure of Waldo Bell is now in the hands of you, my incredible readers. This puts us halfway in what I currently expect to be a six book series. (You can find out more at bellforgingcycle.com – hints abound.)

Since many of you have been asking, I thought it’d be fun to start a series of blog posts where delve into some of the decisions I made with the world building of The Bell Forging Cycle. It’ll be a space to offer a little more insight into places, people, and cultures of the Territories and share a little more of my process.

First up… the jazz saints.


If you’re a longtime reader, there is no doubt that you have noticed that Jazz often plays a subtle role in each book. It’s the background notes of Lovat. It’s the sound emanating from the radios, it’s the crackly voice behind the static. Film noir is often punctuated by Jazz, and I wanted that same feeling of noir to punctuate The Bell Forging Cycle.

Throughout the series, you’ll find that the jazz musicians of our yesteryears are treated like saints within the Territories. (How Jazz came to fulfill this role is an ongoing mystery.) They carry titles with their names, often born of religious themes. Over the generations since the Aligning their songs have shifted from that of entertainment and are treated as something closer resembling today’s hymns or canticles.

I thought it would be fun to chronologically explore some of the songs that show up within the books. As I do, I’ll go into more details explain why I chose them, and why I thought they fit in the world. First up…


Billie HolidayGloomy SundayBillie Holiday

Mentioned: The Stars Were Right – Chapter Two

Of course, it’s Billie Holiday who get’s the distinction of being first. Early in The Stars Were Right Wal hears the noodle cart vendor whistling the first few bars from this iconic ballad when he’s on his way to meet Thad. In a lot of ways I picked this because it sat the mood, Lovat is a damp gloomy place most of the time and especially in the lower levels. I figured it’d be fun to use a song as haunting as this like this to really amp up that feeling.


Miles DavisI Waited for YouMiles Davis

Mentioned: The Stars Were Right – Chapter Eleven

I’m a big fan of cool jazz, and there’s no one cooler than Miles Davis. Referred to as “Brother Davis” by Wal, I wanted to have a song that worked for the scene where Wal waits to meet Hagen. The fact that Wal recognizes the song also hints at his inner workings. He’s not someone who goes on at length about Jazz and its musicians, but he clearly is able to recognize particular songs even instrumentals. I liked that, it was a little detail about his personality that wasn’t too overt.


Duke EllingtonTake the A TrainDuke Ellington

Mentioned: The Stars Were Right  – Chapter Nineteen

Okay, I am cheating here a bit. I don’t actually mention the title of this track, Wal just hears a maero whistling a tune he recognizes as coming from “Saint Ellington”. In my mind those that song will always be Take the A Train, or in Wal and Hagen’s case I guess the A-monorail.


Count BasieA Hard Day’s NightCount Basie

Mentioned: Old Broken Road – Chapter One… sorta.

Okay, so I’m kind of cheating twice. In the bar scene during the opening of Old Broken Road. Wal mentions very briefly that an old jazz number is playing on the piano. In early manuscripts, I had called it out as a “W. J. Bassy number” but ended up cutting it. Look, let me have this one, it’s the only Jazz mentioned in Old Broken Road. (Basie also gets a brief mention in Red Litten World chapter six as well.)


[!] Note: The next few numbers are mentioned in Red Litten World. While they’re not exactly spoilery, you might want to hold off reading further until you’ve finished the novel.


Continue reading The Jazz Saints Of The Bell Forging Cycle

Red Litten Tracks - Music that inspired Red Litten World

Red Litten Tracks

We’re now one week away from the release of Red Litten World, so I figured it’d be fun to share a playlist of songs that inspired me during the writing of the book. If you’re a longtime reader you’ll know I have done this before with the other books in The Bell Forging Cycle. Personally, I always find it fun to see what music influences a writer. So I enjoy sharing these with everyone. You can listen to Red Litten Tracks using the embedded Spotify player, or visiting any of the links below.

Spotify | Rdio | YouTube

Aaaand… here’s the playlist. As with previous playlists, you can click on any of the names below to read about the band on Wikipedia. If you want to listen to the song, the song title links to videos on YouTube.

  1. Man ManLoot My Body
  2. Sleater-KinneyNo Cities To Love
  3. Echo & the BunnymenThe Killing Moon
  4. PixiesSilver
  5. Louis ArmstrongWest End Blues
  6. Dark Dark DarkDaydreaming
  7. Iggy and the StoogesGimme Danger
  8. Coleman HawkinsBody and Soul
  9. WintersleepOblivion
  10. WolfmotherNew Moon Rising
  11. The Temper TrapSoldier On
  12. Crooked StillAin’t No Grave
  13. Jack WhiteThat Black Bat Licorice
  14. Soko — We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow
  15. Bang Camaro — Out On The Streets
  16. The Cramps — What’s Behind the Mask
  17. Marvin Gaye — Inner City Blues
  18. Dave Brubeck — Unsquare Dance
  19. The National — This is the Last Time
  20. Phantogram — Black Out Days
  21. Polk Miller — Old Time Religion
  22. Jace Everett — No Place To Hide
  23. Run the Jewels — Blockbuster Night Part 1 (Explicit) 
  24. Kaiser Chiefs — I Predict A Riot
  25. Marty Robbins — Big Iron
  26. Snooks Eaglin — Saint James Infirmary
  27. Interpol — Evil
  28. The Bastard Fairies — The Earth Died Screaming
    (Note: This was a cover of a Tom Waits song by the same name. However, The Bastard Fairies don’t have a video for this cover. So instead I’ve linked to the original song.)
  29. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club — Rival
  30. Four TopsSimple Game
  31. Death from Above 1979Black History Month
  32. Agnes ObelPass Them By
  33. Ben NicholsThe Last Pale Light In The West Lyrics

Did you enjoy this playlist? Check out the playlists that inspired the previous two books in The Bell Forging Cycle:

The Tunes Were Right

The playlist for my first book The Stars Were Right, starting off with a smooth jam from Marion Black and mixing in an eclectic mix of jams from Johnny Cash, Scorpions, Andrew Bird, and more.

Old Broken Playlist

You’ll feel the dust on your skin and the hard pan beneath your boots in this playlist for Old Broken Road. Featuring tracks from folks like Future Island, BRMC, Woodkid, and Louis Armstrong.


So there you go! The latest playlist for my soon-to-be-released novel, Red Litten World. I’d love to hear what you think, feel free to leave me a comment or shoot me an email with your thoughts.

Remember, you can still preorder Red Litten World on eBook for Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, and Kobo devices. Pre-order copies will arrive on your reader on launch day. There’s also still five days left to enter for a chance to win a free signed trade paperback of Red Litten World during the Red Litten World Giveaway. Super easy to enter, winner will be selected this Friday!

Seven days!

Friday Link Pack 10/10/14

The last Friday before the launch of Old Broken Road is upon us! That means it’s time to share a few interesting links I’ve found throughout the week. Some of these are mentioned on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Let me know! All right, let’s get to it:

Old Broken Road:

Old Broken Playlist
Check out the music that helped inspire my upcoming book!

Pre-Old Broken Road Launch Giveaway
Need to get caught up on The Stars Were Right before the sequel drops? Enter my latest Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy!

Old Broken Road Swag Packs are now in the store!
Three new Old Broken Road themed bookmarks, new set of stickers, and a rad button! All you have to do is pay for shipping. (You can also send a SASE, details are on the Free Stuff page.)

Writing:

The Exact Amount Of Time You Should Work Every Day
Did you know the absence of a proper lunch break can actually lower productivity? This University of Toronto study looks into what is the right amount of time to maximize your work.

19 Unintentionally Disturbing Moments From Kids’ Books
From Mister Dog to strange commands about murdering lambs, these made me laugh. So go on, touch the cow. Do it now.

The Genre Debate: ‘Literary fiction’ Is Just Clever Marketing
Elizabeth Edmondson of The Guardian argues that Jane Austen never imagined she was writing Literature. Posterity made that decision for her. Good stuff.

Random:

The Butterfly Effect, Literally
The Nerdwriter (one of my new favorite YouTube Channels) explores the butterfly effect, on, well… butterflies.

Rise And Shine – What Kids Around The World Eat For Breakfast
A New York Times photojournalism piece on the foods kids eat around the world. Really I am just repeating what the headline says, but click through, it’s fun.

Morbid Mondays: Maps Of The End Of The World
Atlas Obscura explore the maps of Revelations created by Baptist Minister Clarence Larkin in 1919. I remember seeing copies of these in my grandmothers house. Instant nostalgia for me.

The Problem With Wearable Technology, According To “Blade Runner” Designer Syd Mead
“Fashion is a temporary affectation. Fashion that’s timeless is actually a practical response to need. ” Loved reading about Syd Mead’s thoughts on the current state of wearables. Mead is an incredible artist and designer and it’s clear he put in a lot of thought when he created his vision of the future.

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family
I’m featuring this again. Mainly because this is the story where I found the Old Broken Road epigraph. Also, it’s good.

Gif of the Week:

This pleases the shiba

Old Broken Playlist

Old Broken Playlist

Old Broken Road launches next Tuesday! We’re officially only one week away! So, to tide you over until it’s launch I have assembled a playlist of songs that helped inspire the book. It available to listen for free everywhere:

Check out the full playlist on Rdio ≫
Spotify | YouTube

Below is the full tracklist. Click on an artist name to find out more about that specific musician/band or click the song title to listen to that particular song on YouTube. I’ve tried to link to Wikipedia articles, but my taste is eclectic so if a band doesn’t have a Wiki page I tried to find the next best link.

  1. Nirvana – Where Did You Sleep Last Night?
  2. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Beat The Devils Tattoo
  3. Future Islands – Spirit
  4. Family Wagon – Hard Times
  5. The Avett Brothers – Head Full Of Doubt/Road Full Of Promise
  6. Steve Earle – I Feel Alright
  7. Shearwater – Breaking the Yearlings
  8. Dead Man’s Bones – Lose Your Soul
  9. The Black Angels – Evil Things
  10. Papa Mali – Sugarland
  11. Mourning Ritual – Bad Moon Rising
  12. Woodkid – Stabat Mater
  13. Royal Blood – Out of the Black
  14. The Cave Singers – Dancing on our Graves
  15. Okkervil River – The Valley
  16. Townes Van Zandt – Nothin’
  17. Matthew and the Atlas – I Followed Fires
  18. Karen Elson – Stolen Roses
  19. The Mountain Goats – Psalms 40:2
  20. Mark Lanegan – Gray Goes Black
  21. Buck 65 – Who By Fire
  22. Louis Armstrong – Life is so Peculiar
  23. Bruce Peninsula – Crabapples
  24. Jake Bugg – Lightning Bolt
  25. Johnnyswim –  Don’t Let It Get You Down
  26. The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow
  27. TV on the Radio – Wolf Like Me
  28. The Eels – Fresh Blood
  29. The Dead Weather – So Far From Your Weapons
  30. Jace Everett – Burn for You
  31. The Stray BirdsHeavy Hands

As with the playlist for The Stars Were Right, I had a blast putting this together. It is interesting for me to listen to them side by side. I think each does a good job in carrying the tone of the book. You don’t have to take my word for it. You can find out what I mean when Old Broken Road drops next week. ;-)

What do you think? Don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below or shoot me an email and let me know. I would love the feedback!

The Tunes Were Right

The Tunes Were Right
Shortly before I launched The Stars Were Right I assembled a playlist of music that inspired the book. Over the last few months I have messed with it off and on but now I think it’s at a place where it’s sharable.

Check out the full playlist on Rdio ≫
Spotify | YouTube

As a collection it’s a pretty eclectic mix, but Stars is a pretty eclectic book so in that regard I think it captures the tone. If you don’t want to stream the whole playlist you can listen to any song you want individually. I have the full playlist listed below. Click the artist name to find out more about that specific musician/band or click the song title to listen to that particular song on YouTube.

  1. Marion BlackWho Knows
  2. Titus AndronicusIn A Big City
  3. Billie HolidayGloomy Sunday
  4. Lotte KestnerFake Empire
  5. Lynyrd SkynyrdSimple Man
  6. Dropkick MurphysPrisoner’s Song
  7. Johnny CashRusty Cage
  8. Iggy PopThe Passenger
  9. MountainDon’t Look Around
  10. M83Midnight City
  11. Screamin’ Jay HawkinsShe Put the Wammee on Me
  12. Miles DavisI Waited for You
  13. ScorpionsThe Zoo
  14. Portugal. The ManPurple, Yellow, Red, and Blue
  15. Tom WaitsHold On
  16. Andrew BirdFake Palindromes
  17. Modest MouseFly Trapped In A Jar
  18. Those Darlins – Western Sky
  19. PixiesHey
  20. Tom WaitsCold Cold Ground
  21. Okkervil RiverWestfall
  22. Scout NiblettKidnapped by Neptune
  23. The Black Keys & RZAThe Baddest Man Alive
  24. The StoogesSearch & Destroy
  25. The Dead WeatherDie by the Drop
  26. Townes Van Zandt – Snake Song
  27. Bob DylanFixin’ to Die
  28. Noah GundersenOh Death
  29. The Flaming LipsLook…The Sun is Rising

And that’s it! I had a lot of fun making this, so look for more playlists in the future. Don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below or shoot me an email and let me know what you thought! Would love the feedback!

If you haven’t read The Stars Were Right and want to know what this playlist is all about you can buy it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or from pretty much any ebook store.