Saturday, July 22, 2006

Top Ten Songs

Michele tagged me with this one. I’ve picked the top ten songs that are in the last ten that I’ve bought. Made the activity easy! LOL.

You can see my tastes run heavy toward country music.

Best I Ever Had - Gary Allan
Believe - Brooks & Dunn
Must Be Doin’ Something Right - Billy Currington
If You Could Read My Mind - Gordon Lightfoot
Standing Still - Jewel
Baby Girl - Sugarland
Honky Tonk Badonkadonk - Trace Adkins
My Give A Damn’s Busted - Jo Dee Messina
Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way - Leann Rhimes
Lizzie and the Rain Man - Tanya Tucker

Lizzie and the Rain Man is a great “story song”. The heroine Dena in Starlit Destiny can make rain, and this song inspired that idea in my mind as much as anything because I’ve loved this song for thirty years. When I was a kid my best friend and I used to dance in the rain. We used to talk about controling the weather. This song wasn’t a conscious thought when I was writing the novel, but the ideas ideas in this song are part of who I am and so that is part of the reason that paranormal aspect is in the story.

But there are some other songs that have showed up in my writing in some way or the other. “Wild Angels” by Martina McBride shows up in Double-Crossed Lovers. Here’s the scene. Last night there was an amazing thunderstorm that reminded me of this scene too, so I’ll post it here.

They left the Interstate as the sun slipped behind the Rockies, the peaks silhouetted against a wild array of orange and yellow-streaked clouds. Kate lived within eyeshot of the tallest peak in North America. But just because the Rockies were dwarfed by Denali, they were magnificent in their own right.

“This is something else,” she told Hope. “Not at all what I expected. But lovely.”

Hope nodded. “I’m glad you think so. This time of year is heavenly.”

Not so heavenly. The air glowed with a hazy, yellow quality. The humidity clogged her lungs making her wish she’d insisted on renting an air-conditioned vehicle. A film of moisture built on her forehead, making her feel dizzy, causing her stomach to roll. Even with the window open there was no relief. She wasn’t used to heat and humidity like this.

Kate gazed at the boiling clouds above her. There was a decided electric snap to the air. The thunderheads grew quickly, darkening faster than the sunset. Kate had never liked thunderstorms. Not one bit.

Just as the clouds burst, Hope pulled into a gas station in Columbine Creek. “With it dark and rainy, I better double check on my directions.”

They both got out, running to the convenience store, approaching the young lady behind the register. There was a silver stud violating the attendant’s lower lip.

“Can I help you?” the girl mumbled, her eyes narrowed at Kate’s unabashed appraisal.

“The ladies’ room?” Kate asked, embarrassed she’d been caught staring.

The girl pointed. “But you gotta buy something.”

When Kate returned, Hope was paying the attendant for a pack of chewing gum. While she counted out change, the young woman jabbered about the directions. Kate tried to ignore the way the girl toyed with the stud in her lower lip. “Can’t really miss it. They got, like, a really big sign.”

“I appreciate your help,” Hope said.

“Make sure to tell Billy that Sandra said, ‘hey!’”

“William Cross?” Kate asked, her mind on the old image on the web page.

“Who else,” the attendant said.

Before she could explain, Hope grabbed her by the elbow and dragged her toward the door. “We’ll do that,” Hope said.

Ten minutes later, a thunderstorm in full swing, Hope pulled into the ranch’s dirt driveway. The windshield wipers matched the beat of Martina McBride’s “Wild Angels” on the radio, and weren’t keeping up with the torrent of rain.

Kate peered at the neon sign as they drove past it, the bright colors shimmering like Las Vegas in the droplets of water on her passenger-side window. The sign was flashy by any standards, but especially out of place here considering the ranch touted a wilderness experience. “It’s obscene,” she said. “Are you sure about this place?”

Hope looked over at her and smiled. “It’s too late to back out now.”

The second it took to look away from the road was too long. A cluster of cattle blocked their way, their unblinking eyes reflected the truck’s headlights.

Hope cursed a blue streak as she slammed on the brakes. The truck’s hood lunged down, the back end sliding in mud. They weren’t going to stop in time, and the complacent cows just stood there.

What kind of ranch lets their cows run loose like this? Kate considered.

In a vain attempt to save the truck, and the cattle, Hope swerved, aiming toward the opposite side of the road, missing the animals by mere feet. After the truck jerked to a stop, they breathed a sigh of relief in unison.

Kate’s breath caught in her throat as the passenger-side front tire met with air.
The truck’s headlights lit up a rocky ravine. Kate watched the light jerking up and down on distant pines as the truck wobbled.

Hope screeched in terror, instinctively scrambling out of the truck. Kate held her breath as the truck rocked violently. She couldn’t get out. The release on her seatbelt was stuck.

Panic flooded through her.

Hope reached back in, motioning with her hands wildly. “Come on, Kate!”

The truck inched forward.

“Get out, now!” Hope yelled.

She yanked on her seatbelt, throwing her friend a helpless look. Without thought for her own safety, Hope leaned across the bench seat, yanking on the seatbelt.

Oh, God, don’t take us both! “Hope,” she said softy, knowing her friend’s efforts were in vain. “You have to....”

“No!” The horror in Hope’s voice was unmistakable.

Kate stared at her friend. She felt the fear reflected in Hope’s eyes. “Hope, I love you. But, you have to stand back.”

Reluctantly, Hope stepped away from the truck. It was raining so hard within an instant she was soaking wet. Still, visible tears pooled in her eyes.

Kate stopped breathing when her world fell out from beneath her.

When she made contact again, hers head snapped back, and then forward. She tasted bittersweet blood flowing down her throat in a warm flood.

The truck gained momentum, completing crunching rolls. The seatbelt locked tighter with every movement, stealing the air from her lungs. Dizzy with pain, she could focus only on the sickening sounds of metal crumpling like paper. One instant she was hanging free, then her body jarred back against her seat with torturous force.

An amazing calm spread through her body. A series of vignettes flashed before her eyes. Her mother decorating the tree one Christmas Eve; her father slamming the front door in anger after he’d just beaten her mother to a bloody pulp; Hope on a tour they’d taken of Gettysburg; a cowboy riding through a columbine-sprinkled meadow ringed by a stand of quaking aspen. Then she saw the sepia-toned portrait of two Confederate soldiers posing with their parents....

A blast of energy tore into her. A million shards of light streaked across her vision stopping any thought. Heat engulfed her as the light condensed in an overwhelming radiance that consumed her body and soul.

Kate floated, drifting in a white haze. The pain was gone.

Her mother appeared – her smile was part of the light. Momma?

The light disappeared; the pain returned. Momma, it hurts. Oh God it hurts.

I know, honey. But, you’ve got to hold on. It isn’t time for you to join me yet. Go back....

She saw his eyes. Her soldier turned cowboy. He stared at her, beaconing her to join him.

Momma! No, don’t leave me again....

The white fog faded to gray.

Then black.

Then, there was nothing.




If you know the lyrics to Wild Angels, the idea that an angel is tossing these two together across the bonds of time makes sense whey I said that song was on the radio.

Anyway, speaking of inspiration....

I read a nice review of Starlit Destiny recently where the reviewer said it reminded her of Star Wars. Though I can see why, when it comes to inspiration in the movie realm it was old westerns that inspired the most Star-War-ish elements of the story. I wasn’t thinking of Tatooine when I created Tahn Ror and Nevdha. I was thinking ... Nevada. Someone warned me not to use misspellings of real places, but no one has commented on that in reviews.

When I wrote the story I had just finished the first drafts of Double-Crossed Lovers (though it is so rough I never have finished it) and was basically writing cowboys in outer space. Also, I had already begun traveling to Reno, and it’s now where I live.

In the opening scene of Starlit Destiny Krys wears a cowboy hat and bandana, and he hunkers down squints out over this desert planet and thinks it’s too “damnable hot”. A few hours back my thermometer was reading 104. I love the desert, but it is too damnable hot outside.

George Lucas made the word blaster famous, but I used the term for the weapons in my story despite Star Wars and not because of it. I was warned by sci-fi afficionados that using another term would be desirable. But I didn’t want to do that because cowboys say “blast” and Krys talks like a cowboy. I wanted to play with words, so I ignored the warnings.

Krys talks like a cowboy in other ways too. There’s a scene where Dena nearly shoots a blaster and the laser nearly hit’s the partner Jaret and Krys says... “She couldn’t hit the broadside of a barenghetti.” There’s an old cowboy saying about a fellow with a bad aim couldn’t hit the broadside of a bull with a bucket full of banjos.

Actually, I took the weaponry name warning to heart a little bit. I am using what amounts to light sabers in the follow-up, but calling them light swords. My thesaurus came in handy. :)