Posts Tagged ‘cruise ship’

Music has always been a source of inspiration for me, especially when writing, and I like it in almost any flavor: rock, pop, jazz, opera, classical, folk, hip-hop, holiday, inspirational, metal (although I tend to stay away from speed metal), show tunes, Barney (well, maybe not Barney)…you get the drift.

When my husband and I were hosting our radio show, “Live with The Lost Italian,” I would choose the music for each segment. That is, the “intro” and “outro” according to my producer friend, Dustin. For two and a half years, every Friday night I would hunker down at my laptop and sift through iTunes, looking for the perfect song to enter and exit each segment. I would search words that were related to our topic: tomato, soup, peaches, hotdish, cheese, fried chicken, etc.  Sometimes it wasn’t so easy, and I’d have to find a backdoor route, like using a phrase instead of just a word: I love tomatoes, soup is my life, green asparagus, and so forth. You would be amazed at all the songs out there, just waiting to be discovered.

When I have a big project coming up that requires inspiration, writing or otherwise, I turn to music. (I’d have to exclude bookkeeping from this list, since I would probably only associate it with lullabies. Zzzzzzzz…..) I compile playlists around what I think I need to feel to be inspired. When I was writing a speech for a fundraiser for the F-M Opera Company, I needed music that would give me courage. “Gonna Fly Now” from Rocky works wonders; “I Still Believe” by The Call moves me every time and often works its way onto many of my playlists (I always get choked up at the lyrics “For people like us, in places like this…); “Eye of the Tiger” ridiculous, but true…

I had about a dozen songs like that, and I would listen to them over and over in the days leading up to the event. Only one of them was actually an opera song: Pavarotti’s “Nessun Dorma” – I threw this in just to keep me focused on the mission, but holy cow, is it inspirational!  These tunes helped me create the imagery and atmosphere I needed in my head in order to reach my goal. Oh, and by the way, that playlist has pushed me to raise over $200,000 for the FMO in just five nights over the past four years.

For my novel, I really wanted to seek out new music, especially tunes from Norway and Ireland. Turns out, not so easy to find Norwegian rock on iTunes. I had to dig a little deeper, so I clicked over to Google (oh Google, how I love thee!), and started to search. I stumbled onto an article in Wikipedia about Norwegian music. I clicked through the links to different bands and sampled their music, until I found BIGBANG. Heralded as Norway’s best live band, I tried to find their website, but got directed instead to an outdated Facebook page and an entry on MySpace. I returned to iTunes and, BAM – there they were. I listened to only a few tracks before finding “Wild Bird” from the Edendale LP.

Upon hearing the opening count “En, To, Tre, Fire” I knew I was hooked (the rest of the song is in English). As I continued to listen, I couldn’t believe my discovery – it’s as if they wrote the song specifically for this book. I love, love, LOVE this song. When I listen to it, I can see my story unfold in my mind, almost as if I’m watching a movie. I can see the location, the characters, the challenges – all from one song. I downloaded the song immediately, and it has become my anthem for this project.

I’m a big believer in serendipity, which must run in my family because my sister, Carolyn Solares, writes a great blog called “Signs and Serendipity.”  There are times when you just know something is right. The band’s name, for instance: BIGBANG. I needed inspiration to create my story, and when I found this song, it was as if a “big bang” went off in my head. Esoteric and hazy images of characters and varying plotlines suddenly shot into focus. My mind cleared in order to make room for the stage of my story. 

And in case I needed any more signs, two days after finding the song, I discovered this little nugget. I have had this novel in my mind for the past year, and have referred to it as my “Lightseeker” story. Part of it takes place up in the Lofoten Islands of Norway, and I was doing some research on the types of birds that inhabit this part of the world. I’d spent time in this area when I worked on cruise ships, and the bird life is prolific. Puffins, Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Arctic Terns, etc.

I remembered seeing Arctic Terns in both the Arctic and Antarctic, but I couldn’t remember what they looked like. I went back to my old pal Google for some help. I don’t remember what search term I used, but I followed a link to someone’s personal website, only to find a poem at the top, entitled: “Arctic Terns – The Lightseekers.” Okay, that’s pretty serendipitous…and the name of my novel’s anthem is “Wild Bird.” How’s that for inspiration?


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We lost a dear friend of ours on Thursday, and my mind has been flooded with images and memories of him for the past two days. I plan to write about it at some point in the next week, but I want to let the grief settle a bit so that I am clear in my intention.  I want to find the right words – the perfect words – to express what he meant to us. This was no ordinary man in our lives, this was someone…exquisite. An angel, of sorts. And so all I can tell you right now is that the piece will be called “The Man at Table 34.”

On the writing front, I have been giving myself a hard time today, because my word count hasn’t progressed since Monday night. After mentally browbeating myself, I decided to take a look at what I did accomplish this week.

On Monday, I completed a chapter that was really testing me.  The section I had to finish was mostly dialogue, and I think I was a little intimidated by that. I almost decided to put it off till Tuesday, and just go to bed. But instead, I sat down at my computer and switched my brain to neutral. An hour later, I had almost 1,300 words, and my chapter was done. And I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

On Tuesday, I launched a writer’s group with my mother and sister-in-law, which is something we’ve talked about doing for a while. We shared writing ideas, worked on plans to collaborate on a series, and enjoyed a great bottle of Martinelli Zinfandel in the process. Oh, and I can’t forget the *yummy* cheese & meat tray from my friends at  The Green Market. All in all, a pretty good night.

On Wednesday I got caught up on some “real” work. I do the book work and other “behind the scenes” jobs that go along with owning a restaurant. Before we had our son I worked in the restaurant alongside my husband almost every day,  and I dearly miss being with our clientele and staff.

In every job I’ve had till now, I have always been actively engaged with the public. Never in my life did I think I would be a bookkeeper. Ever. Let me stress this again: Not. Ever. When I worked on cruise ships, I was not the Purser; I was the Cruise Director. And there is a BIG difference in the type of people who gravitate toward these positions. But, I can work from home and choose my hours, so I guess it’s a pretty good trade-off. Anyway, while my novel did not progress on Wednesday, I did my book work and got some bills paid. Whew!

On Thursday, I met my marketing deadline of the week and launched my blog. Sure, it was time I could have spent writing, but I had every intention to spend the evening hurling words across the keyboard like a madwoman. Sadly, right around 6:00 pm I learned about our friend’s death, and I just couldn’t focus on writing fiction anymore.

Friday was one of those weird days. You know, the kind that seems like you have all the time in the world, only to find that it’s suddenly 7:30 pm and you’ve had limited productivity. Or zero, as it happens. I did get in a great game of charades with my six-year-old son, Giovanni, though. That was pretty fun.

So now it’s Saturday evening, I’m here at the keyboard, and I don’t know what to write. I’ve spent the afternoon playing games on our Wii with Gio, and thinking about my book when it wasn’t my turn. But now I’m looking at the pink post-it note fixed to my monitor that says, “87 DAYS ’til JUNE 1st,” and I can’t stop looking at it. What happened to 112 days? Or even 97? Back then, 80-100K words didn’t seem so daunting to achieve by my self-imposed deadline. But 87 days? Yikes!  It’s seriously time for me to get writing – which I will, right after I play another round of Wii Bowling with my son.

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Hello and welcome to my blog!

I’ve been writing in one way or another since I could properly form a sentence, but I’ve rarely written just for myself. I’ve written tons of marketing copy, speeches, and newsletters. I have begun many different fiction projects, only to leave them langusihing in a folder, yearning to be loved enough to make it to completion. But my enthusiasm would fade with the distraction of daily life, and my efforts were just that – efforts.

In January, after a two and a half year run on live radio, my husband and I made the decision to end our weekly two-hour show. It was a painful decision, but the station we were with was choosing to move in a different direction and we just felt it was time for us to move on, too. We absolutely loved hosting a show together, and I will forever cherish that experience. But I knew then, and know now, that it was the right decision. 

However, I found myself missing this creative outlet, and wondering what I was going to do to express my inner-artist. With tons of time now available in my schedule, I decided that it was time to knuckle down and write the novel that has been permeating in my mind for the better part of the past year.

Last month, I began writing my novel, and my goal is to complete it by June 1, 2011. This blog will document my journey as a fledgling writer, and will also feature frequent excerpts from my daily life, just to keep my writing skills fresh. You can find these stories in the section I like to call “Up in the Crow’s Nest.”

I hope you enjoy today’s story, Gio’s Silver Dollar, which was inspired by my son’s new smile. Please feel free to stop by anytime!

– Sarah

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