Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I don't really feel like writing a blog post today, but as I promised myself I would write one a week, I will do so anyway.

Not much to report. Work has been hectic. Construction on the new (old) house my boyfriend and I bought started on Tuesday. Book two is moving along splendidly.

That is when I actually get a moment to sit down and write...and it doesn't end with me staring at the computer screen.

Like now.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


At a multi-media blog post. Should be simple, riiiight? Let's hope my internet skills don't fail me. Fingers crossed.


Today I would like to share some of the musical inspirations behind "Benajah's Keeper." I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's a soundtrack--I originally tried to find a song for each chapter, didn't work.  I will say that if the book were ever produced into another medium (movie, nudge nudge), these are the songs/artists I would hope/beg/demand were included. 

Either way, each of these songs have significant value. To me they not only represent Evanna, her comrades, and many of the themes woven throughout the book, but they have pulled me out of numerous writing ruts. Sometimes all it takes is a listen. And I think that's just great.   

So here we go, kind-of-sort-of in listening order:

1) Spectrum- Florence + the Machine; Ceremonials

This song pretty much sums up how I imagine Genesis. Oddly enough, I wrote that bit way before I heard this song, and if I'm being honest, I really hated the song originally. But the more I listened to it, the more I identified with it. Or, I guess, the more I identified the story with it? 

I should note that Florence is probably my most favorite performer/musical act right now. I'm kind of obsessed. The fact that I chose one of my least favorite songs of hers for this list...yeah, she just that awesome. 

"When we first came here,
We were cold and we were clear
With no colors on our skin,
We were light and paper-thin.
And when we first came here,
We were cold and we were clear
With no colors on our skin
'Til you let the spectrum in.

Say my name,
And every color illuminates.
We are shining,
And we'll never be afraid again."

2) Half a Week Before the Winter- Vanessa Carlton; Harmonium

Vanessa Carlton is a guilty pleasure of mine. What can I say? I'm a sucker for piano. Side note: the other day a girl at worked asked who sang "A Thousand Miles" (legitimately did not know). I was flabbergasted, mostly because that song is SO overplayed. But then I thought about it...and realized that I'm old. That song came out when I was in 8th or 9th grade. Lame. 

This song, however, is one that you don't hear at every grocery store or home improvement center on a daily basis (ahem). It's a bit haunting in sound, different from her more pop-y stuff. And I feel like it's a good introduction to Keeper and Evanna. Kind of sums up their relationship. 

"He sits behind a desk of mahogany,
He whispers dreams into my ear.
And though I've given him his empire, 
He delivers me my fear."

3) Scarborough Fair

This is really just a general suggestion. I'm not a big fan of the Simon and Garfunkel version (even though it's the one I'm linking), and ultimately, if I had my way, Florence would be doing a cover. But that's a long shot. 

I mentioned it last post, but this is the song that gives Messiah his last name. I've always been fond of it--I used to drive my parents nuts playing it over and over and over on the piano. That and Greensleeves, but I digress. No matter what version, male or female vocalist, etc... the important part about this old folk song are the lyrics. Two people have been separated and only a series of impossible tasks will bring them back together. And it's wistful in a lost love/memory sort of way, so there's that.

I imagine this playing in most of the dream sequences, in case you were wondering. 

"Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parlsey, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
Remember me to the lass who goes there,
For she was once a true love of mine."

4) A really awesome mashup

Again, just a general suggestion, but if someone were to make mashup of Katy Perry's "ET," Lady Gaga's "Monster," and Ke$ha's "Blow," the end result would be the music playing at the club/party that Evanna first meets Rian and Messiah. Despite being pop, all three songs have characteristics that remind of Rian. Being fun helps, too. 

So who loves me enough to do it? 

Instead, I give you this mashup:


5) Fear and Loathing- Marina and the Diamonds; Electra Heart

A friend of mine turned me on to Marina and the Diamonds. If you haven't given her a listen, I highly recommend it. So fun. 

Fear and Loathing is one of her more "mellow" songs, for lack of a better term. I love the message, the sound. Pretty much everything. Oh and I love that I can literally hear the words coming from my characters. Like a good heart to heart between Zak and Evanna. 

"I've lived a lot of different lives,
Been different people many times.
I live my life in bitterness
And fill my heart with emptiness."


"Got different people inside my head.
I wonder which one that they like best.
I'm done with trying to have it all
and ending up with not much at all."

6) Daylight- Matt and Kim; Grand

That "punk-peppered" music Messiah is such a fan of? Well, this is it. To me Matt and Kim embody what is Messiah. Genial, fun, free, a bit of reckless abandon. He might be a little rough around the edges (the "starving" artist appeal shall we say?), but really when it comes down to it, he's got his shit together and he knows what he wants. 

You can thank the Bicardi commercial for this gem, by the way. 

7) Never Let Me Go- Florence + the Machine; Ceremonials

Aaaand we're back to Florence. But the imagery is just too good to resist.

"And it's breaking over me.
A thousand miles down to the sea bed,
Found the place to rest my head.

Never let me go, never let me go.
Never let me go, never let me go.

And the arms of the ocean are carrying me, 
And all this devotion was rushing out of me.
And the crashes are heaven, for a sinner like me,
But the arms of the ocean deliver me." 

8) Existentialism on Prom Night- Straylight Run; Straylight Run

This is probably my all time favorite song. I can think of a million and one reasons why I love it so much, but when I list them they seem silly. I will say that I am a big fan of Existentialism. Most people find it a very pessimistic stand point; I find it uplifting.

I imagine this song playing the morning Evanna wakes up in Messiah's house, at a time when she's caught in between her life at Benajah and her life in the "human world." A bit of reflection, perhaps?

"When the sun came up,
We were sleeping in,
Sunk inside our blankets, sprawled across the bed,
And we were dreaming.

There are moments when,
When and I know it and the world revolves around us.
And we're keeping it, keeping it all going,
This delicate balance,
Vulnerable, all knowing.

Sing like you think know one's listening.
You would kill for this, 
Just a little bit, just a little bit.
You would kill for this."

9) Degausser- Brand New; The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me

Oh, Brand New, how you do me in. When you're not being scream-o (exhibit A) half the songs on "Daisy"), you have such emotionally jarring music (exhibit B) most of the songs on Devil and God). And I can't get enough of it. 

Degausser is such a poignant piece of music to me. It makes my skin crawl. It gives me chills. It's dream crushing and heart wrenching and...okay, you get it. 

This song would play as *spoiler* Evanna drags Rian's body through the trees and ultimately dumps him off the cliff. Can you hear it?

"Take me, take me back to your bed.
I love you so much that it hurts my head.
I don't mind you under my skin,
I'll let the bad parts in, the bad parts in.

Well, you're my favorite bird and when you sing,
I really do wish that you'd wear my ring.
No matter what they say, I am still the king.
And now the storm in coming, the storm is coming in." 

10) Blue Lips- Regina Spektor; Far

We wrap up with Regina Spektor. There is a plethora of Regina songs that inspire me (ex: Samson), but this one resonates with me the most. To me, "Blue Lips" is about being human. The ups, the downs. Moments of strength and moments of weakness. And if "Benajah's Keeper" is about anything, it's about learning to accept all of these things. And so, I give you the "credits" song.

"He stumbled into faith and thought,
God, this is all there is?
The pictures in his mind arose
And began to breathe.

And all the gods and all the worlds
Began colliding on a back drop of blue.

Blue lips, blue veins."

So what do you guys think? Are there any songs that remind you of Evanna's plight? If so, I'd love to hear them!

PS This is the song that's driving book #2 right now. Because I feel like throwing all the "when is the next one coming out???" commenters a bone. Not much of one, but hey, it's something.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


As a good name. Okay, that might be a little over exaggerated. There are lots of important things that go into good story telling/writing. However, I'm not kidding when I say that names are pretty close to the top of that list for me. A name should make sense. It shouldn't be chosen simply because it looks good, especially if it looks weird next to all the other names in a book (I once read a book where the main character's name was Raven and her younger brother was Billy. Drove. Me. Crazy.).  It should help build the character. It should mean something.

Though I'm fairly new at this author thing (I still choke on the word...), one of the questions that I consistently get asked is, "Where did you come up with all the names?" As this is a subject I am so passionate about, I figured I might fill you all in.

First, I should say that my biggest aid was a book I found on Amazon called "Best Exotic Baby Names" by Allison Jones. This is seriously the best name book I've found, despite not being very long. It's loosely set up by alphabet and gender, but for each name it not only gives the origin but the root of the name, the derivatives, and their meaning. For instance the name 'Nikoteleia' is listed under 'Teleia'. Teleia = pefection. Nike = victory. Nikoteleia = pefect victory. The only problem with this is that I often lose just took me 5 minutes find that and I've looked it up a hundred times.

But not all of the names came from this gold mine. Several of the names that appear in the final, published version of "Benajah's Keeper" are the same as they were in the very first draft. That's not to say their characters didn't change drastically. Here are some examples:

Zak: The original Zak was nothing like the one that guides Evanna through her journey in "Benajah's Keeper." In fact, he was total fluff. He was the tag along friend of Tierra, more or less a female version of the Zak we know today. When I revisited the story four years later, I came to the conclusion that Evanna simply didn't need two vampire friends. Especially because she didn't really want any friends at all...

Rian: I'm fairly sure that I chose the name Rian originally because I had a crush on a kid named Ryan. Highschool, you know? And it was soooo edgy to change the spelling. Turns out Rian is a legitimate name, meaning 'king.' Rian's last name was originally Doreland, a name I'm pretty sure I made up. When finalizing the characters, I began to look for a more meaningful last name for my villain; I stumbled upon Delmar, which means 'of the sea.' And it just worked with the ocean imagery, the circularity of the story, while maintaining the same sort of sound. Boom, Rian Delmar, King of the Sea.

The Scarboroughs: Messiah was always Messiah. Noelle was always Noelle. Lucky for me their names just fit. In the first draft, however, Noelle and Evanna had their first spiff in the family owned fish and chips restaurant. I believe the chapter ended with something like, "Messiah, get away from her. She's a vampire." Very dramatic.

Like most of the characters in the book, neither Noelle or Messiah had last names at first. I chose Scarborough almost entirely based on the traditional ballad "Scarborough Fair." If you are not familiar with the song GO LISTEN TO IT NOW. Educate yourself. You'll be thankful.

Keeper: I'm throwing him in here for the hell of it. The 'Keeper' of Benajah was always called 'Keeper,' he just didn't originally have a name other than that. As the story grew, it became necessary that he gain one. And so Abram--meaning 'high father'--came into being.

That's pretty much it for characters that kept their original names, but here are a few more insights:

-Solada did not exist in the first version. Nor did Serah or Nikoteleia. Between the three of them, the remaining parts of the original character Tierra (minus Zak's bit) were divided.

-I did not decide on the name of Benajah until very late into the rewrite. Even after I had narrowed it down, I bounced between several names before making it the official name of Evanna's home.

-Asael was originally named Gabriel. The meaning of Asael ('God has created') just fit better. That's not to say we won't be seeing a Gabriel later...

-Many of the fluffier names in the book (like Messiah's "long list of girls") are real(ish) people. Rachelle, Danielle, Jessica, Alyssa, Dave, even Emilia. Tannon was a kid in my gym class. The name Serah comes from a combination of Serry and Sarah, two good friends of mine. One of them is even a red head.

-Evanna (versus Wrenna) was the hardest character to name. In the first draft, she was deemed Ebony Flame/Flammette. That was the first thing to go, though it was not for a very long time that she got a new [vampire] name. I'm not sure where I first heard the name. I might have just randomly stumbled upon during one of my internet searches (the kind that alway scare my family and boyfriend). It might have been when I became aware of Evanna Lynch, the actress who plays Luna Lovegood (my favorite Harry Potter character). Whatever it was, I'm just happy I found it.

Until next time...