Question on the Hour: What place does Music have in Your Writing?

 

photo by Amanda Standfield

 

Do you listen to music when you write or is the room dead silent?  Do you use a special mix with specific songs or do you pick a genre and then let Spotify or pandora pick the playlist?  Do you prefer songs with lyrics or are you into pure instrumentals?  Can you write only with music or only in silence?

For starters, my music service of choice is Pandora.  Ever since the service came out, I loved its evocative name and the way the service introduces me to new music has always intrigued me.  Countless hours in college fiddling with the radio settings and “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” different songs, forged a lifetime bond with this service.  I keep some channels so fine tuned that some songs I like don’t play on one station, only the other.  All this personalization is perfect for writing because I can pinpoint what kind of emotion and tempo I want while I write. 

As a general starting place, I listen to pop/dance music when I write.  The fast beats encourage the words to flow fast and constant.  Most pop/dance is repetitive and uncreative (sorry), which helps me get to a state of mind without coloring my prose.  Unless as you read this you’re thinking “oh no no no, don’t phunk with my heart,” Black Eyed Peas make consistent appearances on this channel.  The best part of my dance music motif is that when I get stuck on a certain scene, I can stop writing and start an impromptu dance party!  Nothing drives progress like an endorphin hit.

That said, I have a short story I inspired by one specific song.  To write it, I looped the one song the during the whole writing process—hours of the same song, and I still find that song mysterious and inspiring.  Something about its slow start that transforms to frantic drums and ends abruptly –

For reference, while I like pop/dance just fine but they aren’t my go to genre.  Except Lady Gaga whose amazing, my music preferences just for enjoyment include hard rock, metal, alt rock, grunge, and folk.  Angry and loud or pensive and angst (but never Emo they feels are manufactured).  I like songs I can channel feelings through and release.  Problem with this kind of music is that sometimes it makes me feel too much.  The writing becomes too personal or I’m too busy wallowing in an emotion to refocus on what I meant to do.  I might occasionally listen to a folk or rock station briefly so I can capture that bit of that depth my writing, but I don’t want to live there.  Writing or reading a story that’s all brooding anger and open wounds sounds terrible and exhausting for everyone involved.

Do your music preferences match what you listen too?  If you use a writers’ playlist, what does it reveal about you as a person or as a writer?  Follow up thought: do you longer works have playlist?  What about your characters?  My favorite creation, Roxi, has a playlist and I wonder how many other authors’ creations take on a life of own through music.

February Roundup: Calls for Submissions

First, few caveats.  I did not include any publisher who asked for a reading fee.  I also didn’t include grants, contests, or publishing offers that were region locked to an area outside of Northern Alabama.

 

What I did include were all publishing offers I could find that I thought may have appeal to any current members of our writing group.  That said, some of the calls for submissions seems like they may be less stable or professional than other markets.  I did try to exclude anything that appeared like an obvious vanity press, but there are some calls here I wouldn’t submit to.  Use your own discretion.

 

Due Feb 15th 

 

Deciduous Tales– “We are looking for horror and dark fiction with well realized characters, a strong voice and literary merit between 1000 and 5000 words. Query first for any story longer than 5000 words.”

 

Due Feb 16th

 

Black Button– 2000-6000 words midwestern themed horror and dark fiction.  Integrate family dynamics.

 

Due Feb 28th 

 

Dark House Books– Has 2 calls!  one is a 2500-5000 words cozy to cozy-noir stories featuring libraries and librarians the OTHER poetry, flash, short fiction, and creative nonfiction reflecting the theme of sanctuary, refuge, shelter, or asylum, from the perspective of those offering, seeking, denying, or destroying it. From Bangladesh to the city animal shelter, all are welcome, as are all genres.

 

Red Rabbit Press– 3000-6000 words military scifi

 

Parsec Ink– 5000 words on music in fantasy, horror or scifi

 

Beneath the Waves– 5000-8000 words on water/ transformation/ sea monsters

 

Nafarian– 2500-5000 crimes with a twist

 

Due March 1st 

 

If This Goes On– up to 5000 words at least 1 generation in the future but further out is preferred and it needs to relate to current political issues $.08/word

 

Body Parts Magazine– Flash up to 1000 AND short stories up to 8000 words theme is “primal fears” looking for horror, dark fairy tales

 

“This Book Is Cursed“- Up to 7,500 words the theme is “this book is cursed” includes tombs, theater curses, sports curses random vengeance curses

 

Hex Gunslinger–  1000-1500 flash, 1001-7499 short story, 7,500-17,499 novellette and 17,500- 40,000 novella speculative, mysterious, and romantic weird western tall tales! Framed as an unearthed secret library years after the civil war, each story should hold the ethos of western expansion beginning in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase, and ending around the 1850s not necessarily restricted to a North American audience. Do not take manifest destiny as a mantra to live by. Shape a world with all the magic and mystery of the frontier without letting the ugliness of conquest be consumed with fantastic whimsy. We want wide open plains where violence ruled, underground movements brewing with tension, and the Wild Wild West in all it’s beauty and madness. Bring us your stories marking the age of the gold rush, injustice, genocide, mass immigration, transcontinental railroads, vigilante justice, telegraphs, outlaws, gunslingers, slick talkers, setting suns, and the impending civil war that would rip a nation apart.  They want Pulp fiction, Weird Western, Cattlepunk, Southern Gothic, Folkloric Monsters, Occult Magick, Slipstream, Cowboys & Aliens, and so on

 

Baba Yaga Anthology– 7,500-20,000 words. Kate is looking for stories from Baba Yaga’s point of view, or the point of view from those she helps or hurts, or from anyone who might be a protagonist worthy of the Baba Yaga story. You can set the story in the past or present. The story can take place anywhere in the world. It can include romance or action or tragedy or comedy.

 

Dark Water Syndicate– 5000-8000 words “We are interested in short horror fiction about people who sneak into abandoned, forgotten, shunned, or cursed communities and survive to tell the tale. For example: Centralia, Pennsylvania—the mining town abandoned because of an uncontrollable underground coal fire; Love Canal—the New York neighborhood declared off-limits due to extreme environmental pollution; and Pripyat—the Ukrainian city evacuated after the Chernobyl disaster. The emphasis is on communities—a haunted house or other such localized place is not large enough to qualify. The place or people in your story must be fiction, must be told in 1st person and must be a present day adventure

 

Horror Short Story Contest– “Entries must be 2000 words or less, typed in 12 point Times New Roman and include your name, age, and contact information.”