NaNoWriMo: Music to Write Books To

I’ve talked a little bit about music as a productivity tool, particularly in regard to outlining.  Today I would like to talk about music to write books to.  I personally have trouble listening to music with lyrics when I am writing.  I just start thinking about the singer’s words instead of my own.  For this reason, I tend to favor movie soundtracks or video game soundtracks.

Modern movie soundtracks tend to have many sedate passages with no clear melody or rhythm so there are usually only one or two tracks that work with my writing play lists.  What I had found works the best when it comes to movie music, tends to be soundtracks written between 1965 and 1990.  There is usually a main theme catchy and memorable, repeated in several different variations across the soundtrack.  There may also be a memorable villain theme or a sweet love theme, which may appear several times.

I usually did not give enough face time to my villains for them to rate their own play list of villain themes, but sometimes a play list of love themes comes in handy.  Most of the time, I turn to a game soundtrack that is driven and adventurous, repetitive enough and catchy enough to keep the fingers galloping over the keyboard, sinister enough to include the villain, romantic enough for the love story.  This soundtrack is Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, by Michiru Yamane.

I like her soundtracks to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Castlevania: Lament of Innocence even more as music than I do Curse of Darkness, but for me they’re too closely associated with my memories of playing the games when I was younger.  For some reason I never got around to Curse of Darkness, so the tunes are still fresh for me, and I can associate them with whatever I’m writing.  I particularly like these tracks: Baljhet Mountains, Garibaldi Courtyard, Garibaldi Temple, Mortavia Aqueduct, Mortavia Fountain, the Forest of Jigramunt, the Cave of Jigramunt, and Cordova Town. Most of the rest is too sad, too silly, or too harsh and dissonant for my tastes.


NaNoWriMo Toolkit: Music To Outline Books By

A lot of people listen to music while they work, and I am one of them. I’ve seen all kinds of theories about what kind of music is good for what tasks, but all I know is what works for me. For mindless data entry, I prefer stirring, exciting music that grabs my attention and takes me away to another place, like Jerry Goldsmith’s soundtrack to The Wind and The Lion, or James Horner’s soundtrack to Krull. If it’s the soundtrack to a movie I know really well, like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, or the Indiana Jones movies, it doesn’t seem to work as well.

But there are tasks that I find stressful or intellectually challenging, that involve math or problem-solving. And then, there’s outlining my novels, which is a little bit of all four. (Less math than some things, but it does come up.)  For outlining novels, and for those other tasks, I have a secret weapon: Baroque Favorites by the Jacques Loussier Trio.

Jacques Loussier is a French-born jazz pianist who performs classical music, from the Baroque era to Debussy, in a “cool jazz” style. He’s the leader of the trio that bears his name; the exact lineup has varied over the years but always includes a percussionist and some kind of bass player. A lot of people swear by his take on Bach, which honestly doesn’t do that much for me. Other people like his Debussy; personally I feel that Debussy is already so abstract that “jazzing him up” doesn’t yield interesting results.

I think the reason his interpretation of Baroque music works so well for me is the nature of the source material and the way it interacts with the improvisational qualities of jazz. In the Baroque era, there was an emphasis on making music both emotionally pleasing and intellectually stimulating. Music was intended to command the listener’s attention, in a way that busy working people often do not have time for.

Loussier’s approach makes Baroque music simpler and more approachable in some ways than it was originally intended to be. He arguably makes it calmer as well: the style of jazz he aspires to is all about conservation of emotional energy, because getting excited about things is profoundly “uncool.” The result seems to be music that stimulates the mind without demanding its full attention, and also calms and focuses the mind at the same time. (That being said, do not listen to Loussier when you are tired. You will not get the full effect!)

So, that’s the kind of music I outline novels to. I also find it helpful when I’ve written myself into a corner and am trying to write myself out again. It’s not passionate enough to help me stay in the “zone” when I’m writing the fun parts, but that usually requires a different kind of music all together…and that is a post for another time.




Fixed version of The Pomegranate Lover is now live…and (temporarily) free!

Having gotten the corrected file live, I am celebrating by making the book temporarily free, from today until September 23.

The “Look Inside” seems different from what I remember, but I’d read somewhere that Amazon’s Look Inside had been glitchy lately in general. Anyway, here is the link, as promised:

Embarrassing Mistake Corrected

*Puts on Tia Baden hat*

“The Pomegranate Lover and Other Stories” went out with some embarrassing formatting errors in the final story. I have now corrected them, recompiled the file and re-uploaded to Amazon. My apologies to anyone who was inconvenienced by this. The corrected file should go live sometime tomorrow, and I will try to post again with another link to Pomegranate Lover’s Amazon page.


Pomegranate Lover on Amazon!

*puts on Tia Baden hat*

Yay! The kindle edition of Pomegranate Lover went live on Amazon Tuesday or yesterday, and today the print and kindle editions linked successfully, so that you can now access them both from here. This is a collection of short (sometimes very short) stories I wrote on and off between 2005 and 2008 or 2009, and it includes “The Pomegranate Lover,” “The Prince of Horai and the Paper Sword,” “Like Father Like Son,” “Smokesteel,” “Sword of the Kear,” and “Blind Man’s Bluff.” The total collection is about 53-54 pages long, $2.99 on Kindle and $6.99 in paperback.

I am uncertain about how aggressively to promote this; I may do a Kindle Countdown Deal or a Freebie deal of some kind, and I will announce it here if so, but since I don’t know how soon I will revisit this pen name, and the genre is different from my current set of writing projects, I’m unwilling to burn promotional money on things like Bookbub, etc.


The Pomegranate Lover at Createspace

*Puts on Tia Baden hat*

A lady who loves pomegranates meets the bard who brought the fruit into her country, and discovers his terrible secret. A Japanese peasant saves a magical princess and becomes a Prince in the mysterious land of Horai…at a terrible price. Alexander Hamilton senses a ghostly presence as he prepares for his final duel. A pirate captain must intimidate a sea serpent long enough for his men to find a way to kill it…Collected here together for the first time, are Tia Baden’s mythic tales of love, honor, and revenge.

The Pomegranate Lover and Other Stories is now available for purchase at Createspace. The print edition should go live at Amazon sometime next week, and at that point I will upload the mobi file and see if the two editions link in a timely fashion.

Pomegranate Lover Cover Reveal!

*puts on Tia Baden hat*

My short story collection “The Pomegranate Lover and Other Stories” is almost ready to go live. I’ve ordered a proof copy of the paperback version from Createspace, and if I can live with what I did to the cover on that version, I will approve the print version and upload the mobi version to Amazon. In the meantime, here is the cover art for the ebook.

“The Prince of Horai” is now free for a limited time!

It has always been free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers, but for today and the four days after that, it is free for everyone.  This is mostly an experiment to understand how this type of promotion works at Amazon, and there will not be any serious marketing push to accompany this.

You can download “The Prince of Horai and the Paper Sword” here on Amazon US.

Slight Change of Plans…

*Puts on Tia Baden hat*

It’s looking like the other short stories I had planned to put out under my “Tia Baden” pen name are too short to release as stand-alones.  (As in, it would take people longer to download them to their Kindles than it would to read them.)  I will instead focus on getting them set up as a collection of short stories on Amazon and Createspace, and on editing the first two books in my urban fantasy/paranormal romance trilogy, planned to go out under my “Mel Dunay” pen name.  (The third one in the trilogy is probably going to be rough-drafted during NaNoWriMo this year).

Introduction to Jaglion Press

Jaglion Press is owned and operated by an author who writes as Mel Dunay, Tia Baden, and Micah Chase.  Its first publication, a short story titled “The Prince of Horai and the Paper Sword,” is available through Kindle Unlimited.  Jaglion Press plans to release several more short stories on Kindle over the coming months, to test the market and get a feel for the publishing procedures on Amazon, then put out a short story collection on Kindle and Createspace.  This will be followed by the first book (title TBA) in Mel Dunay’s urban fantasy/paranormal romance trilogy.