Music for Your Face

I made a Spotify playlist for Asteroid Made of Dragons! It was fun for me to do. FUN I SAY. I’m a recent expatriate from Songza (RIP) and I hate Google Play Music, so I’m fairly new to this as my streaming music font of choice. I’m — okay with it? Still learning my way around and making this playlist was a good venue for that. One thing that is annoying is there doesn’t seem to be a way to control the order of the songs on the playlist, so I can’t put them there in proper  ‘I burned you this CD mix’ order. SO – below I’ll put them in the intended order, along with a little description of which character, scene, or concept from AMOD made me pick it.

Fair warning, this is heavy on late 90’s and early 00’s pop, as that was when I was in high school and college and a lot of my musical inclinations coalesced. This whole exercise started when I realized that ‘Freak of the Week’ by the Marvelous 3 was an excellent backing track for the Rime and Jonas plot line in the book. Probably some light spoilers below if you want to be 100% PURE for your first read of the book.

 

Hit Parade – BRADIO

If anyone’s curious, my mental image of the book is flat-out anime – so I would want the feel of an anime opening theme. I also keep my age-old tradition of beginning and ending the mix with the same artist. I would have put ‘Flyers’ up front, but Death Parade beat me to that pretty soundly, but I’ll steal it as my closer. This song is just super goddamn fun, the anime titles would have the Players in the cart, arguing over props – while inter-cutting images of the Main Characters doing whatever they were doing 5 minutes before they appear in the book.

Science Genius Girl – Freezepop

Xenon! The best – my archaeologist goblin with a heart made of nerd. I was determined to have a brand new main character for this book, one who does not express their might through any sort of combat – only in her quest for knowledge and prodigious drinking prowess.

Freak of the Week – Marvelous 3

Our Heroes, Rime and Jonas – this would play during the fight scene with the golem after the semi-botched bank heist.

My Name is Jonas – Weezer

No reason.

Burden in My Hand – Soundgarden

The Squire’s Dark Secret. This song doesn’t quite fit the tone for all of the revelations about what made Jonas flee from Gilead – but it’s a song that will be important later, so I’m wedging it in. Side note – in Aufero this is a song from Gilead, something of a Low Ballad that soldiers sing when deep in their cups.

Karma Police  – Radiohead

The fight scene on the ship, where Rime goes a wee bit too far involving lightning and half-ghost pirates.

Postcards From a Midwestern Salesman – Dayroom

Linus, the dread knight of duty. The lyrics don’t quite fit – but the feeling of age, of time, and of being completely weary do.

Gotta Be Somebody’s Blues – Jimmy Eat World

Ah! In the anime, we would use a TOTALLY different art style for this flashback to the ‘caging’ of the dragons – mimicking the ideographs and stylized depictions on the urn, with this rad, RAD song in the ground.

Are You Jimmy Ray? – Jimmy Ray

Sideways’ theme song. Also perfect for when he’s drunk and sunbathing between murders on the cruise ship.

Longview – Green Day

Just for whenever Rime and Jonas or Mercury and Xenon are just kind of wandering around. Lyrics don’t fit, but it’s my favorite Green Day song, so deal.

Fuck and Run – Liz Phair

Rime loves this song. Just sits in her room, with her headphones plugged in and listens to it on repeat.

Desperately Wanting – Better Than Ezra

I like this song. Yep, that’s it. There’s precious little romance in the book – some beginnings, some endings, and a good deal of platonic connection.

Low Man’s Lyric – Metallica

Jonas returns home. Lots of dog imagery for this kid. Just a song about feeling like dirt for all the crap you did. Also good for while he’s in the dungeon.

Gimme Sympathy – Metric

Xenon at the Weary Titan bar. Just kind of drunk and lost, man.

Pacific Rim (Main Theme) – Ramin Djawadi ft. Tom Morello

Rime IS A JAEGER AND THE ASTEROID IS A KAIJU.

Gotta Get Up – Harry Nilsson

Asteroid Response Team.

So Clear – Junip

Entering the Asteroid, also the feeling of unraveling all the weirdo Precursor mysteries and secrets that are crammed all over the damn place.

Power of Two – Indigo Girls

No comment. Probably about Mercury and Xenon, but also applies to Jonas and Rime.

Fall Behind Me – The Donnas

Parting of the Ways.

Flyers – BRADIO

End credits and a sky-cycle.

 

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The Riddle Box – Music

“You know a lot of things. I say it, so you can hear it. It is very important that we all know this about you, yes?  You know a lot of things. Things and springs and wheels and the click-clack of numbers falling in a row. But music?” Geranium tapped a staccato beat, two fingers on the pulse of his wrist. “It cannot be known. You can’t contain it, you can’t weigh it, you can’t put it safe on a shelf or bury it down in a hole. There is a reason that the Songs of the Lost still haunt us, that the simple melody in children’s games hum and burn in our temples as we clutch the pension-staff and stumble our way towards the grave. There is a reason that I walk penniless and proud down dark roads, with only my guitar as companion, as every true Bard of Gate City must.”

“What does –”

“Quiet now,” the bard raised two fingers to his lips. “Listen and remember. It binds as it breaks, it slips up the tallest castle walls and shivers its way into the darkest of hearts. It burns as bright as the sun, warm as an oven while I stand on the stage. I sing and every eye is mine and every heart is mine and every secret unfolds and the music drinks tears and shines and shines and shines. One song, the right song, one song for every heart. Even if they’ve never heard it, even if the song hasn’t been written yet, there it is, quarter notes and red blood on the parchment. And when the wind is at my back, I can see it. I can hear it.”

The bard’s eyes shut tight.

“And if I can sing your song, I can break your heart.”

Rime interrupted sourly, “Ridiculous.”

The Riddle Box – Cover Reveal

At last – no further preamble – here is the cover illustration for The Riddle Box!

Cover Illustration - Mike Groves @poopbird
Cover Illustration – Mike Groves @poopbird

Yes! Bask in it’s glory. So many thanks to Mike Groves – poopbird.com – for his fabulous design.

Thank you for enduring the flood of activity from the blog, but I’m afraid there will be more to come as the release of the book in August gets closer.

Shares, presses, tumbles, and retweets very much appreciated – but please always credit Mike Groves/poopbird as the artist.

Stay tuned at this spot for more ramblings, poorly planned self-promotion, and pretty good recipe for peanut butter cookies.

Please follow this link to add The Riddle Box to your Goodreads queue!

Can’t Stop the Music

One morning, I heard a story on NPR.

As is often the case [and as my Beloved can attest] I have no memory of any of the specific details. I don’t remember the name of the city, or the name of the reporter, or the name of the country it took place in. All I can remember is the shape of the story.

A city on a crossroads, a mix of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. Musicians found each other in tiny bars, in parks, in hidden nightclubs. And they played. They combined their styles into something new,  a new song, a new kind of music. I remember it sounded like a kind of heartsick jazz, but electric and wandering.  A crossroads of melody, an exploration more than a fusion. It was new, so new — and it only existed in one city in the wide world.

Then the War came. I don’t remember the dates or the enemy or the cause. The musicians fled, or hid. Their religions or creeds or skin colors a danger. And the new music was gone.

War crushed the music under his boot.

Art by Kay Nielsen (1914) from the book, EAST OF THE SUN AND WEST OF THE MOON.
Art by Kay Nielsen (1914) from the book, EAST OF THE SUN AND WEST OF THE MOON.

Years later, a wanderer came to the city. A woman, a musician’s child. She stumbled into an antique store to buy a mirror, a memento of her journey. Her father came from this city and had filled her young ears with tales of the time before, and the music he had once played. The peddler wrapped the mirror for her and the woman told him about her father. The peddler stopped and laid the mirror down on the counter. He vanished into the back room and returned with a box, a box of old photographs and sheet music.

[Almost none of this was in the broadcast, this is what I saw in my head while I listened.]

“I played with your father,” the peddler said.

And the woman had an idea. She asked the peddler if he knew if any of the old musicians were still in the city. He did. Her idea grew brighter.

Phone calls and letters and emails and the woman’s feet pounding down the dusty streets of the city.

The musicians came together again. They came together and they played. For the first time in decades.

The new music, the melody of the crossroads, the forgotten jazz of the dusty city.

The NPR story played clips of them performing in New York, apparently they’ve been touring for the past several months. But that’s not the point of this story.

The point is why I had to turn my head away from my carpool buddy, so they wouldn’t see me tearing up. This story got me, even though I can’t remember any of the details.

Because the shape of the story is this: the Music won. Just like it always does, like it always will. War and Death and Time and Decay and Rot lost. They fucking lost. The primal powers of the cosmos defeated by a melody. The last magic in the hands of the human race, the best product of our wayward minds and stutter-light souls.

And that’s why it moved me. The NPR story that I barely remember.

I don’t talk about my beliefs. But let me say this. I believe in the Music.

Let all we make be the Music, that turns aside the grip of the universe, that outpaces the weapons of War and Death, and shines brighter through Time and the Dark.

This was a weird story.

Thanks, NPR.

Spell/Sword Kindle Edition – FREE

For a limited time, of course.

Spell/Sword

FREE KINDLE EBOOK ON AMAZON

8/30 — 9/3. 2013.

Labor Day Weekend and some change. It coincides neatly with my trip to Atlanta for Dragon*Con — I’ll be wearing my Self-

Kindle Version
Kindle Version

Promotion Helm of Shamelessness +3. I’ve printed up a ton of business cards to give to people letting them know about the deal.

The ebook has always been free to Amazon Prime members, and DRM free to boot — but now I’m doubling down. Anyone and everyone can own my book at no cost other than the time it takes to download it.  Even if you don’t own a Kindle, you’ll be able tor read it on your Mac, PC, iPad, smartphone, tablet, etc — via the free Kindle app.

Amazon  Reviews

Goodreads Reviews

I’ll be tooting my horn a good deal in leadup to the promotion — hopefully convincing you that my book is worth nothing.

More information about Spell/Sword : Buy the Book

Genre Legends Given Brief Reprieve by Vainglorious Upstart

I’m too busy learning lines to work on Riddle Box this week, I’m behind schedule and that sucks for me.

But it’s good for you — I’m talking to you, the Joe Abercrombies, Neil Gaimans, and Patrick Rothfussessess of the world.

I’m giving you a break – I’m slowing down my minotaur-octane fueled march to genre supremacy, for like two weeks or

The devil's gaze!!!!
The devil’s gaze!!!!

something.  You have some time without me BREATHING DOWN YOUR NECKS.

Use it wisely. Build  the walls of your worlds tall and strong. Give your protagonists the most fiendishly devised magical weapons, backstories and clever sidekicks. DRAW A FANCY MAP OF YOUR BEAUTIFUL CITY WITH ITS RICH PAGEANT OF HISTORIC LORE SO I CAN KICK IT DOWN.

Because I’m coming. Me, Jonas, and Rime. And Sideways. And the pigs. And the magic chickens. And my rock and roll bard crooning on his ebony guitar, Lady Moon-Death.

WE ARE COMING. SWORDPUNK IS AT YOUR EXQUISITELY CHISELED AND WELL-WRITTEN GATES.

But you know, not for a week or so.

Consider yourself advised.

Abracadabra

Art is a magic spell.

With each line, each lyric, each spatter of paint, each glob of clay we cast it. Careful and mad we summon the spirits once again, the true power of our race, that we may act as conduit to the Unknown. Even the dullest brute among us calls out to the demi-god of the television remote, the demon of the freeway, the howling eidolon that lurks in stones and stars and the thousand turns of dumb luck.

But artists are the true shamans.

We need it to mean, we need it to matter. With matter we shape the energy latent, the paths untaken. Some see God in the scratch of the violin, some seek God in the twist of wire and glass. Others just want to show the pain, the rain, the song of the train. All energy, all magic, passing through our hands in an instant then gone.

But if we cast proper, cast careful, cast well…the spell can linger. The shape and form of enchantment can suck in air, and its hands close as if by reflex and it shambles forward into the world to wait for a new victim, a new audience. What we make with true hearts can ward and weave the world, sing it quiet into a better form, shine as a light in the dark, cage the dark beast for a time, hum and giggle like a wine-drunk fairy.

So take it serious, take it real, pound your bones to meal. Stomp and stammer and crash and clamor.

Sing a song, write a tale, draw a thing. Dance or build or break or live.

Make it. Make the thing. Cast your spell and keep your eyes clear. Open the gate in the back of your spine and let the magic work.