‘If you can’t live it yourself, the song will take you there’
Once a week I host a writer who uses music as part of their creative process – perhaps to tap into a character, populate a mysterious place, or explore the depths in a pivotal moment. This week’s post is by award-winning contemporary western romance writer Linda W Yezak @pprmint777
Soundtrack by Chris LeDoux,
One touch of a button on my CD player, one second of the galloping beat of Hooked on an 8-Second Ride, and I’m there – dead middle of the rodeo arena. Dust, cowboys, bulls so big they measure a foot and a half between the eyes. The smells of cotton candy and popcorn vying against ranker odors. The chorused groan of the crowd when their favorite crashes to the ground just an instant before the buzzer. The booming voice of the announcer echoing through the speakers. ‘Sorry folks. Maybe next time.’
The lyrics tell me all I need to know about the bull rider. But it’s the beat, the raw, driving, feral beat of adrenaline, that shows me how it feels to sit aback a brawny Brahma with tension steeling my nerves and determination throbbing through my veins.
This one song by Chris LeDoux puts me there, ready to ride. Doesn’t matter that I’m female. Doesn’t matter that I’m too old. With that song, I’m a young man with jangling spurs and a hat firm on my head. I feel the animal shift under me, feel his restless power, smell his dirty hide. My hand’s secure in the braided rope, my teeth are clamped. All it takes is one short order barked at the gateman: Pull it!
The gate swings wide, and the bull explodes from the chute . . .
That’s the wonder of music. If you can’t live it yourself, the song will take you there. It will lift you out of your skin, whisk you from where you are, and settle you where you want to be like nothing else, except maybe a gripping novel.
City girl – and Chris
When I was writing Give the Lady a Ride, I employed a variety of tricks to keep me in character, to inspire me, to immerse myself in this world I’d created. Although my mother’s family owned a ranch, I’ve never lived on one. Although several friends were involved in the rodeo, I’d never participated. So I needed all the help I could find to get this city girl on the ranch and rodeo arenas. I didn’t have a soundtrack of different artists. All I needed were my Chris LeDoux 20 Greatest Hits and Chris LeDoux: The Early Years CDs.
His cowboy and rodeo songs, like Hooked on an 8-Second Ride and Stampede, kept me in my setting, but all his music – not just his western genres – also played a huge role in my characterisation. Through his lyrics, I gained an insight into the personality of a ranch/rodeo cowboy. He’s a practical joker and a little on the wild side. Loves his friends and family. Loves the land. He’s high tempered and foolish sometimes, quietly wise other times. Quick witted. Resourceful.
Is this an idealised portrait? No doubt. But when the hero in your romance novel wears boots and a Stetson, a little idealism doesn’t hurt.
More than any other tactic I employed, music put me where I needed to be, introduced me to personalities and a lifestyle I’m not familiar with, and provided a rhythmic realism to my bull riding scenes. (Thanks, Chris. RIP.)
Linda W Yezak holds a BA in English, a graduate certificate in Paralegal Studies, and a bucket list as long as her arm. Among the things on the list is owning a stable full of horses, and since that’s not likely to happen any time soon, she includes horses in each of her novels, from her contemporary western romance Give the Lady a Ride and her current work, The Cat Lady’s Secret, to her work-in-progress, a contemporary western romance series tentatively called Family First. Until the day she can retire with her husband to their land in Central Texas and ride to her heart’s content, she’ll continue with her writing and freelance editing careers. Find her on Twitter @pprmint777, on her blog, 777 Peppermint Place, and on Facebook as Linda Yezak. Give The Lady a Ride won the 2011 Grace Award for romance and is published by Port Yonder Press through the SkySail imprint.
#1 by Murray Pura on June 5, 2012 - 9:49 pm
love to have a copy of this! FACEBOOK
#2 by Linda Yezak on June 6, 2012 - 12:45 pm
Thanks tons for stopping by, Murray! Good luck in the drawing!
#3 by Dana Pratola on June 5, 2012 - 9:49 pm
Music can be so important for getting and maintaining the feel I’m looking for in a story. Great tips for staying in character. Although if I stayed in close contact with some of my characters, I think my family would have me committed. BTW, I love catching up with you on Facebook 😉
#4 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on June 6, 2012 - 12:15 pm
My family too, Dana! And my friends…
#5 by Linda Yezak on June 6, 2012 - 12:47 pm
Ha! How funny, Dana! Thanks for the comment, and good luck in the drawing!
#6 by Linda Yezak on June 5, 2012 - 10:18 pm
Thanks for this opportunity, Roz. I appreciate being a guest here!
#7 by K.M. Weiland (@KMWeiland) on June 5, 2012 - 10:19 pm
I had a feeling Chris LeDoux was going to headline this post! He obviously works his magic on you, because I can taste that arena dirt every time I read part of Give the Lady a Ride.
#8 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on June 6, 2012 - 12:14 pm
Katie, I’d never heard of Chris LeDoux, but I certainly enjoyed discovering him while I cued up this post. And judging by Linda’s authentic detail in this post. her novel must be a rollicking ride
#9 by Linda Yezak on June 6, 2012 - 12:48 pm
I had so much fun writing that book, Roz, but researching it was a real kick!
#10 by Cheryl Linn Martin on June 5, 2012 - 10:33 pm
Great post! I can totally see how the music would inspire and help you, Linda! I listen to TV a lot–I love mysteries and I write well when I have them on. Hmm . . . maybe it’s the mysterious and ominous music that’s moving me along! Yaaay, Linda!
#11 by Linda Yezak on June 6, 2012 - 12:49 pm
Thanks so much, Cheryl. I appreciate you stopping by!
#12 by Linda Yezak on June 5, 2012 - 10:51 pm
Who else but Chris? He’s still my fave! 😀
#13 by Donn Taylor on June 5, 2012 - 11:07 pm
Good writing, Linda. You make me feel the ride on that animated dynamo. Quite a far cry from my protagonist who has musical hallucinations!
#14 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on June 6, 2012 - 12:16 pm
Musical hallucinations? I like the sound of that…
#15 by Donn Taylor on June 7, 2012 - 9:03 pm
Yes, Beethoven and Schumann both suffered from musical hallucinations. Schumann thought he was taking dictation from the ghost of Schubert. I researched that for my protagonist in “Rhapsody in Red,” whose life is like a movie mismatched with the sound tracto another.
#16 by Linda Yezak on June 7, 2012 - 9:45 pm
I didn’t know that. Thanks for the historical tidbit, Donn.
Rhapsody in Red is on my to-read list. I *love* the cover!
#17 by Linda Yezak on June 6, 2012 - 12:50 pm
I’m honored you stopped by, Donn. Musical hallucinations! Ha! Love that!
#18 by Jody Bailey Day on June 5, 2012 - 11:42 pm
What a great post! Gives me insight into how to use music for inspiration. Thanks!
#19 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on June 6, 2012 - 12:18 pm
Jody, it’s a fantastic way to write. There are plenty more folks on this site who describe their own ways of using music. It’s also a lovely way to get to know a writer’s work
#20 by Linda Yezak on June 6, 2012 - 12:52 pm
Thanks, Jody. Roz has had several guests on this site who’ve written about how music affected their writing. Check out K.M. Weiland’s and James Scott Bell’s posts in the side bar!
#21 by Ann Gaylia O'Barr on June 5, 2012 - 11:49 pm
I don’t generally listen to music while I’m writing, but I do take paper and pencil to church. The music there often turns me on, and I jot down ideas. Other times, just listening to music anywhere brings out the ideas.
#22 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on June 6, 2012 - 12:19 pm
Ann, what a lovely idea. I also get ideas if I’m in a theatre audience waiting for curtain up. There’s something about the tingle of anticipation.
#23 by Linda Yezak on June 6, 2012 - 12:53 pm
I agree with Roz, that’s a *great* idea! Thanks for sharing, Ann!
#24 by Cindy Swanson on June 5, 2012 - 11:55 pm
Great to get the background to the story. I found your blog through a post on Facebook. Keep up the writing as there can never be too many books!
#25 by Linda Yezak on June 6, 2012 - 12:57 pm
“There can never be too many books”–a woman after my heart wrote this! Thanks for stopping by, Cindy, and good luck in the drawing!
#26 by richbullock on June 5, 2012 - 11:59 pm
Thanks for the inspiring post. My second novel began with an idea from a song on Pandora. One track let to another, and pretty soon my lead character was the female lead singer for a symphonic metal band in Europe! During the writing, I listened to a few of those groups. I could procrastinate all morning, but if I put on one of those songs, it was like Pavlov’s dogs: I was instantly in the writing mood and frame of mind! I now find music essential.
#27 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on June 6, 2012 - 12:21 pm
Rich, what a great tale. Now, can I find an excuse to use Euro symphonic metal…?
#28 by Linda Yezak on June 6, 2012 - 1:01 pm
I’ve never heard of symphonic metal–like brass? Trombones, trumpets, tubas, etc.? Great story, and great plug for Pandora. Love that site!
#29 by richbullock on June 8, 2012 - 4:28 pm
Linda, you can check out the group Within Temptation on youtube.com. Not for the faint of heart, but interesting themes on angels, redemption, evil, etc. Not Christian. Many groups are wild heavy metal, while others, like Within Temptation, are milder and use choral backup as well as symphony orchestras. Overall, very operatic in presentation.
#30 by Linda Yezak on June 8, 2012 - 4:34 pm
Oh my goodness–is that what you meant? Giggle! Now I feel like a total idiot! I’ll check out Within Temptation, because I’m curious now. Thanks for setting me straight!
#31 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on June 8, 2012 - 8:04 pm
#32 by Kristen Stieffel on June 6, 2012 - 12:23 am
That’s awesome, Linda. You do a pretty good job of capturing the atmosphere there, yourself. 🙂
#33 by Linda Yezak on June 6, 2012 - 12:54 pm
Thank you, Kristen–and thanks for dropping by!
#34 by suzannewilliamsphotography on June 6, 2012 - 1:44 am
Saw this at GFNA on Facebook. I have always said every book has its own soundtrack. Often, I hear a song and it fits right into what I am writing. Great thought!
#35 by Linda Yezak on June 6, 2012 - 1:03 pm
I tend to play the same song over and over. Drives everyone nuts! Thanks for the comment, Suzanne and good luck in the drawing!
#36 by Ladette on June 6, 2012 - 1:46 am
Facebook sent me over! Very interested in this.
#37 by Linda Yezak on June 6, 2012 - 1:03 pm
Thanks, Ladette–good luck in the drawing!
#38 by Judy Burgi on June 6, 2012 - 11:52 am
This sounds like a great read. I’d love to win a copy of it. I saw this contest on FB! 🙂
#39 by Linda Yezak on June 6, 2012 - 1:04 pm
Thanks, Judy! Good luck in the drawing!
#40 by Lori on June 6, 2012 - 3:44 pm
Good stuff, Linda! I felt as if I had been transported from my Caribbean home to a rodeo arena, and I’ll admit I’ve never found rodeos particularly interesting. I sense a change on the horizon. 🙂 So glad I decided to check my email today.
#41 by Linda Yezak on June 6, 2012 - 11:58 pm
That’s quite a leap from the Caribbean to a Texas rodeo! Thanks for stopping by!
#42 by Julie Link on June 6, 2012 - 6:00 pm
I caught part of an interview yesterday with Brent Bill and Beth Booram, authors of Awaken Your Senses: Exercises for Exploring the Wonder of God. Not unrelated. With that interview and your post in mind, I will try listening to instrumental music as I write devotionals. (Can’t listen to anything with words–I’ll start singing along!)
#43 by Linda Yezak on June 6, 2012 - 11:57 pm
I know what you mean, Julie. Usually, I’m the same way about singing along. I kept the music low when I was writing, and cranked it up any other time!
#44 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on June 8, 2012 - 8:05 pm
Glad Linda’s post was so inspirational for you, Julie. Thanks for stopping by!
#45 by Terri Clark on June 7, 2012 - 12:48 pm
Looks like a book I want to check out!! Facebook
#46 by Linda Yezak on June 7, 2012 - 9:43 pm
Glad to hear it, Terri! Good luck in the drawing!
#47 by Clarice James on June 7, 2012 - 5:19 pm
God must be trying to tell me something. Over the past few weeks I’ve heard more about listening to music for writing inspiration than I ever have before! I’d better start listening–to God and to music!
#48 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on June 7, 2012 - 9:01 pm
Clarice, we talk about writing and music here every week – nice to meet you!
#49 by Linda Yezak on June 7, 2012 - 9:42 pm
Music can be a terrific writing-session enhancer. Thanks for stopping by, Clarice!
#50 by Alice Trego on June 8, 2012 - 11:56 pm
Most excellent post, Linda, and I also love Chris LeDoux! I never would have guessed that you listened to his music while writing your award-winning Give the Lady A Ride 🙂 But after reading this I can see where his two songs would put you in the frame of mind that you needed in order to bring your reader in.
I love listening to Native American drum music when I write some of my stories. Hard for me to write when there are lyrics to music. The drum music seems to instill a peace within myself so I can become the character I’m writing.
I’m a bit late to this conversation because I’m not on Facebook every day. Glad I decided to “listen” today!
#51 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on June 9, 2012 - 8:11 am
Late – but nevertheless welcome Alice! I know a few other people who write to drumming. Thanks for dropping by.
#52 by Linda Yezak on June 10, 2012 - 10:33 am
It’s awful, but I’m not familiar with drum music outside what they show in the movies–and I doubt that’s authentic!
Thanks for stopping by, Alice!
#53 by Linda Yezak on June 12, 2012 - 11:14 am
Since I didn’t get a response from my ads placed with Twitter and LinkedIn, I choose three winners from my Facebook ads: Murray Pura, Dana Patrola, and Suzanne Williams. Congrats to all, and I’ll be in touch to send you a copy of Ride.
Only one responded from my Goodreads ad, so, Alice Trego–congrats! I’ll be in touch!