Music Playlist...for a Book? Why not?

Ever hear a song and it reminded you of something you've read? Every once in a while that happens to me, and apparently to the beta readers who test-read my book a few months ago! The betas have been sending me names and links to songs that remind them of Will and Julia, or the story and we're getting quite a list together. I mentioned a few songs in the book, others came to us listening to the radio or our ipod, or watching a TV show. Someone suggested I create a Soundcloud stream to accompany the book...I'm sorry, what the heck is Soundcloud? But what a great idea! A book with a soundtrack! Since I'm Soundcloud inept, I added YouTube links for each song that reminded me or a beta of the book. Do you have any to add? Use the comment box below!


Songs mentioned in the book

Lenny Kravitz.  Yes, please!

Lenny Kravitz.  Yes, please!

Lenny Kravitz Believe

UB40 Can't Help Falling in Love with You

Etta James At Last


Songs added by Betas

Train  Feels Good At First

Angus & Julia Stone For You

Jake Owen What We Ain't Got

Ed Sheeran  I'm a Mess

Ingrid Michaelson Breakable

A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera  Say Something

Lady Antebellum All We'd Ever Need

Phillip Phillips  Home

Anais Mitchell Flowers

Sheryl Crow  First Cut is the Deepest

Lady Antebellum Can't Take My Eyes Off You

Ed Sheeran  Kiss Me

Five for Fighting  100 Years


My choice for a theme song (you know, if it's ever made into a movie!):

What's in a Name?

Today, I received the paperback copy of my book in the mail. My book! MINE! It looks as professional as any of the hundreds of books on my shelves, and I wrote it.  Feels good, yes it does.  My seven and nine year old daughters were pretty excited too, and the first question they asked was how I came up with the name of the book, and the names of the characters.  

Good question girls!

The title, What if I Fly? came to me before the first chapter was complete. I had it in my head that this book would be about people who learned to take chances and overcome the obstacles in their way (self imposed, as well as those caused by others). I was reminded of a poem that's quite popular on the web. I won't share the whole thing (copyright laws and all), but the lines that came to mind went like this: What if I fall? Oh, my darling, what if you fly? That kind of summed it up for me. Take a chance.  FLY! What would happen if my characters broke their shackles and took off? What if I fly? 

                    Romeo and Juliet

                    Romeo and Juliet

The main characters names are Julia and Will.  Those came to me pretty quickly as well.  Romeo and Juliet is one of the first established themes in my story (another one is the Red Sox...completely unrelated, but it works!).  Will is named after the Bard himself, William Shakespeare, and Julia is...well, Juliet Capulet from Romeo and Juliet. Not very original, I know. With their surnames, I paid homage to JFK when I selected Will's, and Julia's last name is just plain Italian, and that's what I wanted.

After the two main characters, it was much harder to come up with names that could stand on their own two feet, and are unique enough not to be confused with other characters. On top of that, I didn't want to use the names of the significant people in my life, and I'm fortunate to have many. So, no Joes, Jasons, Jennifers, Johns, Jessicas, and tons of other names that don't begin with J! I did end up with a Tommy, so my apologies Tom.  The character isn't you, promise!

For the rest of the characters I had to dig deep into the history and entertainment name banks. Here is the inspiration behind some of the secondary characters names.

My mother on the right, and Aunt Eleanor back in the day!

My mother on the right, and Aunt Eleanor back in the day!

Ellie is named after two of my favorite Eleanors, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Mrs. Roosevelt (not to mention my mom's favorite aunt). All very strong women. Then there's Gabby...well, that character just likes to gab. And Avery, oh, evil Avery. She is the anti-hero of the story and she's named after a death eater from the Harry Potter series.  Seemed fitting.

I also took this opportunity to pay tribute to some people close to me who have passed.  My Aunt Linda, who left us last year gets a mention, as do both of my grandmothers, Mary and Grace. My dear friend Maria, who was taken far too soon, has a role (though the character is absolutely nothing like the real Maria!)

I have a Brad (Pitt), Ted (Williams), Frank (Sinatra), Sandra (Dee), Carol (Burnett), Mitchell (Joni), Ruth (Babe), Charles (deGaulle), Debra (Harry), Claire (Molly RIngwald's character in the Breakfast Club), Sloane (Ferris Buellers Day Off), and a Mr. Peterson (also FBDO).

There are more, but it's time to put the girls to bed.  Goodnight moon.

Gone with the Wind? (I don't think so!)

Never give up!  I watched a wonderful movie called Whiplash this year.  It's about a boy and his dream to become a great jazz musician, the odds stacked against him in the form of a sadistic conductor (can we say mind f**ker?) and the little voices in his head pulling him in different directions.  It was inspiring and got me wondering about my own dreams.

When I was young, I had one.  I wanted to be a famous actress, the next Barbra Streisand.  I wanted to bask in the adulation of my audience till I took my last breath.  I packed my bags after graduation and headed to New York, full of hope and promise. took exactly one audition for me to change my mind.  I froze and gave up in the blink of an eye.  My lifelong dream was gone with the wind.

I’ve had goals since then, but dreams?  I had to think long and hard about that one.  I reached deep within… and realized I do have an actual dream.  Compared to my fantasies of singing with Babs, it's relatively new, made as an adult, not a six year old singing in a garage. 

I wanted to write and publish a book.

I've been itching to do this for at least a decade, but never made the time.  This past year, time was made for me, so I took the leap.  I sat down, let my imagination wander and the story came pouring out of me.  It’s not Pulitzer Prize winning material, but it's a solid story and I’m proud of my work. 

I love the writing process.  Getting lost in another world, creating characters out of thin air.  They are real in my mind, they live inside my head.  I suffered with them, I exulted in their victories. I watched them stumble and fall, then pick themselves up and dust themselves off.  I put the obstacles in their way, and I had the power to make their dreams come true.  The story could be anything I wanted it to be.  I was able to play God for a few months.  And I have to tell you, I’m hooked.

I even loved editing the hundreds of drafts which followed (though punctuation can kiss my proverbial ass!). When I polished off the final draft, I had two choices.  I could stick it in a drawer and cross it off my bucket list… or… I could go the distance and publish my book, share my story with the masses (the masses being women looking to escape reality and get lost in a good romance!).

Writing my three-hundred page+ masterpiece was easy compared to the next phase of the process.  Selling my book. For a very brief spell, I tried out the traditional route.  I sent out a few query letters to agents (apparently you need one of those before a publisher will look at you)...and waited, hoping and praying my labor of love, as a friend described it, didn’t end up stuck in a drawer forever. How good do you think the chances are of a publisher magically appearing at my door with a two book deal and a six figure advance?  Now that’s a dream!

I received a few rejection letters (ouch, those hurt. Even if they were based off a three paragraph letter, not my actual book) and decided to go the non-traditional route.  As my parents can attest, I've never done anything traditional in my life, why start now? Ah, it felt good to shake off those shackles and take back the controls! 

So, I'm going for it!  I'm putting my baby out there.  And let me tell you, it's scary.  It's like publishing my diary for everyone to read...except (bonus) none of it's true, but you get the gist.  I'm essentially courting criticism.  But, I ask you...what's worse?  The criticism of others? Or regret?

I feel like the drummer from Whiplash.   There isn’t a conductor standing in front of me, belittling me, telling me I’m not good enough. I'm sure those critics will come and try to wreak havoc with my mind. But I have the wisdom of a few decades behind me and when it comes down to it, I don't really care what they have to say.  I have a little conductor living inside my head, saying much worse.  And I would like to share the sentiments of that drummer to the conductor inside my head…

F**k you.  You can’t stop me.