Do you iTunes?

Good morning, readers! My name is Sandy James. I’m so thrilled to be guest blogging on The Pen and Muse today!

I often wonder if authors have some exotic strain of attention deficit disorder. The more I talk to writers, the more I realize we need constant input. I’m not talking about feedback, although that is also vital to a good writer. What I mean is noise. I know very few authors who can sit and write in peace and quiet.

I have to listen to something when I write, but if I let the television buzz in the background, it’s sometimes too distracting. My children saved me from the hell of silence by buying me an iPod and teaching me how to use iTunes. Now, whenever I write, I always have the noise I need.

What kinds of songs do I listen to that help inspire my stories? Depends on what I’m working on at the time. If I’m trying to grind out a scene, I’ll try to find songs that match the mood. For example, one of my biggest projects right now is a four-book urban fantasy series. Lots of action scenes, so I find I enjoy listening to very loud, upbeat songs. Think 80’s hair bands. Yeah, I know. My age is showing. But what’s better than a good power ballad for some butt kicking scenes?

For the authors out there: Have you ever set a soundtrack for one of your books? You know, a song that portrays the story in your book? It’s a challenge to find just the right song for a story. I’d be interested in hearing some of your choices. And I’ll share a couple of mine…

The book that is always going to be closest to my heart is Murphy’s Law because I was able to write about horseracing, something I enjoy tremendously. My husband and I own a small stable of Standardbred racehorses, and this book allowed me to share that with readers. For Murphy’s Law, I would choose the song “Shameless.” If you’ve never heard it, look up either the Billy Joel or Garth Brooks’s versions. They’re both phenomenal. The lyrics tell the story of a man who finally finds the one thing he can’t walk away from, the one person he would get down on his knees for. Oh, yes. This is definitely Seth Remington’s song. I get goosebumps every single time I hear it.

All the Right Reasons takes my readers back to the racetrack, but the soul of that book is the bond between Joy and Lucas. Lucas is a soldier back from Iraq, changed and bitter, feeling guilty over losing a friend. Joy becomes the presence in his life that welcomes him back, not only to his home but to his own heart. The song I would choose for All the Right Reasons is Don Henley’s “Taking You Home.”

This is a fun game once you get started.

Now it’s your turn to share your music! Name the song that “is” your favorite book, whether you wrote the story or just enjoyed reading it.

My thanks to Pen and Muse for hosting my entry today!

Denise Alicea
the authorDenise Alicea
This blog was created by Denise in September 2008 to blog about writing, book reviews, and technology. Slowly, but surely this blog expanded to what it has become now, a central for book reviews of all kinds interviews, contests, and of course promotional venue for authors, etc


  • I love an element of music in my writing. One of my favorite songs is Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper. I know it's been remade, but no one sings it like Cyndi. I love 80s music too, but I don't have an iPod. I just turn my stereo up loud so I can hear it upstairs and my neighbors can enjoy it as well.

  • Hi, Kelly! I love that song! Takes me back to high school, which really shows you my age.
    😉 Cyndi sang Time After Time with Allison on American Idol this season. LOVED hearing them in a duet.

  • Hey Sandy,
    I totally agree with always needing music in my background. I have found an awesome free website that you might want to check out too… You type in an artist that you like and it plays not only that artist but it finds similar artists. I have a channel dedicated to Disturbed, Enya, Jim Brickman, Frank Sinatra, and some 80's hair band too. I love it!!!
    Loved All the Right Reasons…nothing better than a scarred emotional hero being rescued!!!

  • I'm one of those peace and quiet writers. If the TV's on, I get totally distracted and sucked into whatever show or movie is on.

    I do use music for inspiration. Whenever I hear a song that reminds me of my story or of a character, I download it into a folder for that story on my laptop. Sometimes if I'm having trouble with a scene or I feel like I need to reconnect with a character, I'll listen to their music. It always gets me over the hump.

    And, for the record, there's nothing wrong with music from the 80's.

  • Hi, Wendy! I'm so glad you liked All the Right Reasons. I've been so very blessed with reviews for that book. Romance Junkies Blue Ribbon Favorite, CoffeeTime CTRR Award, Two Lips Recommended Read. Those honors just blow me away.
    I love your eclectic choice in music. It reflects mine. I have a 320 song mix that I use the has quite a few of the artists you mentioned.

  • Hi, Celesta! Thanks for stopping by Pen and Muse! I agree that TV is a distraction. During the summer when I'm trying to write, I don't ever have the TV on.
    And, yes, there's nothing wrong with 80s music. It's just…different. Takes someone our age to understand. 😉

  • Hi Sandy! Great post. I love iTunes for its versatility and easy use. Well I can bloat all I want, LOL. I work for Apple. You should check out the workshops at your local store, they are free and done in groups. You are most welcome to post on here anytime. 🙂

  • Thanks, Denisse! I'm thrilled you hosted me today, and I'd love to come back from time to time. 🙂

  • I'm a peace and quiet writer, since that quality is so hard to come by these days. But I agree that certain music can inspire you. Do join us again, Sandy!

  • Oh, I will, Miriam! I love guest blogging, and I've always followed The Pen and Muse. 🙂

  • Hi Sandy! I'm a music lover and can't write without it. I usually don't have a single song per book, but I have a genre of music. My vamps get something along the lines of hard rock, or "angry music" as my friends say. My Fae series gets good ol' Celtic tunes. Sorcerer…well they're soemwhere between rock and pop. When the song clicks with the story, it's the greatest feeling and the story flows that much better.

  • I only listen to music when I'm walk/jogging with the dog. I'm a big fan of Irish rock music, like The Young Dubliners. I don't even turn on the radio in the truck, because I do my best plotting while driving (or while in the shower!) In order to write, I must have silence, so I get most of it done after my son goes to bed. Makes for a lot of late nights!

  • Irish rock. Wow. I'm going to have to grab a couple of those off iTunes and see what they're like. Sounds like we plot the same way. Anytime I'm busy doing something mundane, my mind kicks in. I'm sure people see that glazed over look I get and think I'm a space cadet. 🙂

  • Hi, Kara — my Bookstrand sister! Celtic tunes, huh? Sounds like I'm missing some great music from across the pond. 🙂

  • What an interesting post, Sandy. I love peace and quiet – but paraxodoxically I love to have music on in the background – even when I'm doing something like mucking out!

    I love 'Princess Leia's theme' from Star Wars and think of it as the theme for my heroine in 'Starquest'. Another song that would suit her is "I will find you" by Clanad. It is exactly right for the theme of the story, and I actually have it on my'Starquest My Space'!

  • Hi Kelly,

    One of the most inspiring songs for me when I am writing the "BLACK MOMENT" is ANGELS, by Within Temptation. The song has such heart and soul and it just brings out the raw emotion! In me anyway! I actually have my writers playlist on my blog- that's the link if you want to check it out!!!

    Great post!!

    Andrea :O)

  • Oops, I'm sorry Sandy I meant to type your name but I had just finished reading Kelly's post! duh!!! Sorry again!


  • Ms. Sandy, what a GREAT idea to choose a theme song for your novels! I never thought of doing such a thing–yet my favorite films all have background music. I'm amazed you can write listening to music and not get distracted! That must be an ADD thing to be sure! I have an ADHD child that can only do his homework with awful music blaring from the stereo. Whatever works!

  • Hi Sandy,
    What a great idea to use theme songs for you books. Loce your covers.

  • Hi Sandy,

    I can't work with music in the background. Maybe I have too noise in my head already! 🙂
    But I do love my Itunes and Ipod. My iPodspeakers are broken right now and my CD player is broken in that it does not play my burned CD's anymore, so I'm having to listen to my I tunes on the computer.

  • Oh, Sandy, I also wanted to say that Murphy's law sounds good. I worked at a racetrack for 8 years during my college years. You definitely meet all kinds of interesting folks.

  • Hi, Lyn! Paradox indeed. Sometimes I feel the same way — craving peace and quiet then not liking it when I get it. 🙂

  • Hi, Andrea — and don't sweat the name. I'm definitely going to check out that song and your blog!! Thanks for stopping by!!

  • Thanks, Danielle! My own son has ADD, although it's much better now that he's a senior in college. He learned to adapt, but he's like your son — always needing that background noise.

  • Thanks, Danielle! My own son has ADD, although it's much better now that he's a senior in college. He learned to adapt, but he's like your son — always needing that background noise.

  • Hi, Margaret! I really got lucky with my cover artist — Jinger Heaston. The cover she designed for my first book — Turning Thirty-Twelve — won the Preditors & Editors Best Book Cover for 2008 Ebooks. I love all of my Damaged Heroes covers, too!

  • Hi, Julie! My kids bought my iPod three years ago, and I always tell them it was the best present I've ever received! Couldn't live without it now.
    And you're right, there are definitely some fascinating people working at racetracks. 😀

  • Sandy, 80s hair bands are totally awesome. 😉 Actually, I enjoy them more now than I did back then.

    When I write, I generally stick with classical or celtic or instrumental movie soundtracks so there are not lyrics distracting me. When I edit, though, I'm likely to have my pop mix radio playing with 70s, 80s, 90s, and current pop hits. More and more I write to silence, but it depends on the day.

    As for novel theme songs, I used Sawyer brown for "Finishing Touches" because they suit Jenna, and tons of 70s songs for "Rehearsal" since it's based then. There is one theme song that runs through my head for the newest (next to come) book: Sword and Shield by Sister Hazel — incredible song that so fits the hero!

    Oh, I love Garth's "Shameless" also!

  • Hi, LK! Good to see so many Classic Romance Revival sisters here today!
    I have something I call my Ultimate Mix. 350 songs that cover such a broad range of artists and genres that if someone saw it, they'd think I had multiple personalities because no one person could like all those types of songs. 🙂

  • Hi Sandy! I have more to catch up with you on releases!

    I'm deaf so I don't use the audio and we all are here but my daughter but sadly she's not much of a reader but loves her music. I believe her phone has an IPod within it. I have no idea who she listens too, LOL. Now is the time to fine out 🙂

  • Hi, Caffey!! I have some friends that have iPhones too, and they are just like iPods. Except they're a phone, too. And I also think you can use one as an ereader. Handy little gadget, ain't it? 🙂

  • All the kids in my family have iPods, me, I listen to my favorite radio station on the PC, or pop in a CD. I grew up with family and noise, so always need something in the background, TV or music, sometimes when I'm in the mood when I read, too, low and soft.

    That Lauper song, Time after Time is a favorite of mine, too.

  • Hi, Pam! I don't think I worried about background noise when my kids were still living at home because they always provided plenty! Now that my nest is empty, I need something to fill the quiet. 🙂

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