As The Storms That Fated Us spends its 12th week as a Amazon Best Seller I can't help but feel thankful for my readers support and the people who had a hand in helping to make all of this possible.
One person that played a part in my creative process just happens to be the mastermind behind the riveting scores on ABC’s Castle.
Listening to music while writing is a vital part of my creative process. It allows me to shut out what is going on, no matter where I am at the time, and depending on the lyrics, it could serve as an inspiration for what I am working on.
I never had any issues with making up worlds of fiction that I was able to write out into several chapters over a few days' time. So when I unexpectedly developed chronic migraines, I couldn't understand why my mind suddenly went blank just like someone had wiped my brain clear of all my thoughts.
To go from writing every night for the past two years to not being able to construct a sentence that makes any sense when I read it back to myself was very frustrating to say the least. Even my motor skills took a massive hit. My hands refused to cooperate whenever I placed them on the keyboard to type because my eye and hand coordination was completely off.
My brain became vulnerable to my migraine episodes. The chronic pain I was experiencing also brought on a series of unforeseen symptoms: sensitivity to light or sounds, visual distortions, partial loss of sight, tingling and even numbness of the face or extremities on the side where the headache develops, difficulty finding words and/or speaking, confusion, and vertigo.
Every day was a true challenge to what I was able to accomplish. There were times I became overly frustrated with my health, but I wasn't ready to give up on publishing another book. I had an incomplete manuscript sitting in front of me waiting for revisions from an editor that was very understanding about my condition and was willing to be flexible on my deadlines to submit my work to her.
With a malleable time frame, I waited for the days where I was able to think as clearly as I could to dive into my manuscript. Of course it was easier said than done. There were some mornings that I couldn't bear to stare at my cell phone or laptop screen, even on the dimmest setting, due to issues with my sensitivity to lights. If that hurdle wasn't enough to deal with, I also had issues with noises causing my pain levels to escalate and give me a whole other array of medical issues.
Some people need complete silence to do certain tasks, but I've never not been able to have music playing in the background while I write. It is an important element needed to help evolve my characters from being oblivious about their feelings for someone to falling head-over-heals in love with that person.
I had already spent months compiling a playlist filled with artists whose lyrics transformed my imaginary world into words I was able to type out onto my blank laptop screen. However, when I sat down to work on my manuscript, those same songs I singlehandedly picked no longer sufficed. It wasn't that I didn't like the music, it just became difficult to hear the words at the same time as writing.
The chronic pain with vision issues and dizzy spells inhibited by my migraines already put me into a state of confusion. The lyrics playing in the background alone made it feel like ten people were talking to me at once. I became so distracted that I found myself unable to concentrate on reading my manuscript, let alone working on revisions.
I had 80,000+ words needing to jump off the pages and grab hold of the reader. I wanted them to feel like a part of the story and connect with one or all of my characters. In order to make that happen, I needed to find the right type of music to communicate the tone throughout each chapter.
I guess you could call it coincidental luck that the little music dilemma I had was solved after spending an afternoon watching a show I saw previews for but never saw an episode. It's not often I'm able to watch a show or movie and immediately fall in love with it. Castle was the exception.
Immediately I was drawn in by the cop drama because of two reasons. I loved the witty sense of humor that writer Richard Castle (It had nothing to do with the fact this man is a world renowned author...okay maybe just a little bit) brought into his arrangement to work alongside the lovely, most daunting, maddening woman Detective Kate Beckett (I kind of stole a few of those words out of Castle's angry rant when he expressed his love for her). The two of them make for one awesome dynamic duo when solving a case to capture the killer, but they're even better as each other's love interest.
Which brings me to my second reason I absolutely love the show Castle.
Being a newbie to this detective/drama, I needed to watch each episode to get all caught up to the current season. There were times I wasn't physically able to view the episode, but I could still hear the funny and sassy banter between Beckett and Castle. Then there was the music playing in the background. That unbelievably beautiful melody being played by piano or an array of instruments made the characters' emotions feel like your own.
It wasn't until season five's finale "Always" that I was completely blown away by the score as it set the perfect tone for an epic kiss between a writer and his muse. I actually got goosebumps as the piano's notes harmonized that very moment as one of the best kiss scenes I have ever seen between two characters on TV. I found myself cheering with tears in my eyes (something I rarely do while watching a show or movie). Any time a scene or music (in this case both) has the power to move you into any kind of emotional state, it is really that good.
Needing help to find ways to keep my creativity leaping off the pages of my book, I decided to do the next logical thing: find other scores by this remarkable composer. So I went online to seek out the genius with the gift of bringing a creative spin to the scenes on Castle. What I found was a person who had quite an impressive list of scores for other television series: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Last Resort, The Unit, and Terriers.
Three-time Emmy-award nominated composer of film and television music, Robert Duncan, takes his imaginative skills to create some of the most amazing pieces of work I've ever listened to. Whether his choice of instruments happens to be a grand piano, trumpet, guitar, or junkyard items he's found from all over Los Angeles, rest assured what you're going to hear will be some kind of brilliant masterpiece.
When it came down to picking out which of Rob's compositions would best fit the scenes I was working on in Storms, I first went onto his website where a playlist already existed and listened to a series of scores from different shows. I also found Last Resort and The Entitled Soundtrack on ITunes and selected which ones went with the angsty dialogue I wanted to portray throughout my book.
After spending a week listening to Rob's riveting compositions, I found several that helped me amplify the lies, deception, and misunderstandings my main characters dealt with while trying to stay alive in a cottage that is literally falling apart just like their friendship had during their senior year of high school.
Among those scores I chose Every Girl, A Slayer from Buffy the Vampire Slayer as the perfect theme for the emotionally tortured heroine Tia. Dylan's Theme from The Entitled was the perfect fit for the vengeful, ex-best friend Carson. The Pilot Suite and Sam Attacks Booth from Last Resort set the tone for the blizzard taking its anger out on the cottage by destroying it one shingle at a time. If Your Were Here from The Entitled gave off a suspenseful vibe while I worked on the scene where Tia and Carson were surprised by an unwelcomed intruder.
Of course during those intense, passionate fueled moments I Just Want You from Castle and In My Veins by Andrew Belle streamed repeatedly as my background music. (If you're Team Caskett then you know why those two songs complement one another).
When I was close to wrapping up the last of my revisions, I decided to reach out to Rob and personally tell him how his music played an intricate part in my creative process. I even acknowledged him in my book with a thank you and the physician in chapter seventeen was named Dr. Duncan. Not only did Rob appreciate the thoughtful gesture, he sent me a selfie with him holding a copy of my book. For being a major fan of his work, that was definitely one of the highlights of this year.
I hope this is the year Rob finally snags an Emmy.
His artistic talents more than proves he's truly deserving of one.
To learn more about Robert Duncan's work and listen to some of his amazing scores visit his website.
A HUGE THANK YOU goes out to TJ MacKay, Founder/Publisher of InD'tale Magazine, for allowing me to write my very first article that shares with their readers how I try my best to manage living with chronic migraines and cluster headaches.
It is my goal to spread awareness about the headache disorders that effects millions of people. If we can't end the negative stigma surrounding our condition then we might not ever be able to receive the necessary funding that could lead to finding a cure for this genetic disorder.
Headache On The Hill 2014 – Washington, D.C.
Speaking to huffpost live’s nancy redd about the dangers of living with chronic migraines
My appearence on Huff Post Live with Nancy Redd to discuss how chronic migraines has changed my life.
The Storms That Fated Us reached #1 on Amazon's best seller lists for Hispanic American Literature & Fiction and Hispanic American Literature. The novel also peaked at #13 on the Multicultural & Interracial Romance best seller list.
The Storms That Fated Us is going to be very different from all my other, earlier books; that much I can tell you. Interested? Take a sneak preview now.