Music is a powerful thing. It excites, calms, energizes, and acts as a fortune teller?
Recently, my inner soundtrack has been trying to tell me things. Not creepy, emotional vampire earworm kind of things, but more like a secret codes to my inner psyche. On days I’m feeling confident and optimistic I might get Katy Perry’s “Roar” or Colbie Callat’s “Try.”
On days where things aren’t going so, hot I might get P!nk’s “True Love” where it talks about how much she wants to throttle her significant other.
So, there are these parties I don’t want to be at
These last two months have ushered me through a whole lot of experiences that I wouldn’t personally choose. Nothing bad, but not my thing. I’m not super social by nature, as navigating the whole social thing tends to be exhausting. This is the text book definition of being an introvert, by the way. We don’t mind being in public or with people, but we find it tiring and need time to rest and recover before doing it again.
This was the song that played endlessly in my head for six weeks:
I’m at a party I don’t wanna be at And I don’t ever wear a suit and tie Wonderin’ if I could sneak out the back Nobody’s even lookin’ me in my eyes Then you take my hand Finish my drink, say, “Shall we dance?” Hell, yeah You know I love you, did I ever tell you? You make it better like that
Don’t think I fit in at this party Everyone’s got so much to say, yeah I always feel like I’m nobody, mm Who wants to fit in anyway?
“I Don’t Care” by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber
The first time I stopped to think about why this song might be stuck in my head I didn’t get past the first phrase. “I’m at a party I don’t want to be at.” Most of these social events were formal parties, with dresses and shirt and tie. Unlike any other party, layered on top of being required to socialize with people you don’t really know yet, there’s that added awkwardness of wearing clothes that aren’t terribly comfortable, heels, and makeup. Ick.
So yeah. It was a party I didn’t want to be at.
But, there’s hope!
But then I read down further into the song and saw that there’s this cute moment where the person who doesn’t want to be at the party finally hooks up with their girlfriend and they dance and have a good time.
My dearest hubby makes these events worth going to. Even when he’s super busy with whatever responsibility he’s been shackled with, he makes a point to be sure I’m having a good time. [Thank you sweetie, you’re the best.]
The other song I’ve had stuck in my head is “Sweet, but Psycho.” Fellow authors will understand. Sometimes the stuff that goes through our heads for a story are a little out there.
What was the last song you had stuck in your head? What do you think it says about you?
Everyone wants to hear some fantastic story about how their favorite books came to be. While it would be easy to say that a dream angel gifted me with such a powerful idea that I stayed up for the next three nights feverishly writing down every beautiful word until my fingers bled, it wouldn’t be true. The fact is, Stonebearer’s Betrayal came into the world much like an unruly apple tree.
It started with an idea, parts of which were tactfully borrowed from my favorite fiction tropes. This idea burrowed into the soil of my imagination and poked at my waking thoughts from time to time. When the time was right, I watered it with my attention until it started to grow, and grow, and grow. It was an ugly thing, overgrown, shapeless, and crowded by weeds. Over time I learned to prune away each unneeded character and subplot. It hurt but was necessary to allow the healthy branches to grow strong and bear fruit.
I still remember the moment when I decided I’d give this whole writing thing a try. In the sleep-deprived weeks and months following my daughter’s birth, the stress of caring for a newborn, paired with exhaustion, tacked on to also having a toddler to care for, pushed me past the breaking point. I had to escape. Some women shop. I dive into worlds created by the written word.
It was on one of these dives when I noticed that my reading experience had changed from when I was younger. I used to allow stories to eat me whole and I would only come up for air when I absolutely had to. As a parent, the distractions and needs of a busy family came first. I couldn’t dive deep, yet I craved that immersive experience.
So I started writing. During nap time I typed away at dark ideas wanting to be explored. Every late night feeding was a chance to imagine different story twists and possibilities. It kept me sane and gave much-needed release. Years later, and a lot of learning about the craft of writing, I finally felt ready to let someone else take a look.
And … it wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great either. Inside the bloated and unwieldy story there were ideas that accidentally got sucked into the void alongside whole side stories that didn’t really matter. World building ideas needed to be solidified and developed and character motivations needed lots of shining up.
Bit by bit, year after year, I made agonizingly slow progress as the chapters and scenes started coming together and behaving nicely with each other. The big turning point was when my youngest started to attend school and I could have a few hours of undisturbed headspace to dig in and finish.
The book went under contract when he was in kindergarten and was published when he was in 1st grade.
Where did some of the key ideas come from? I’ll admit, this book is my love letter to all my favorite books and TV shows I used to enjoy as a teen. I adore the Wheel of Time and Lord of the Rings, alongside pulpy favorites such as Highlander: The Series and Kung Fu: the Legend Continues. There might be a dash of Life in the ER as well…
Currently, I’m eyeballs deep in finishing final edits on the sequel and letting the characters drive the story to where it was always meant to go. Man, this is going to be good.
Stonebearer’s Betrayal is available in print at all major online retailers and in ebook exclusively through Amazon.com.
Today, friend and fellow ginger Daniel Swenson comes on the blog to talk about his most influencial podcast guest in the ten years he has run the Dungeon Crawler Radio podcast. Daniel and I met through our connections in the Utah writing community and have plenty in common, including a passion for fantasy fiction, a love of meeting inspiring people, and a shared publisher, Immortal Works Press.
My question to Daniel – Which podcast guest has influenced you the most over the years, and why?
The question of who has been the most influential person in my podcasting and writing career was one that was a bit difficult for me to narrow down as I have met many amazing people over the last ten years that I have been doing my podcast Dungeon Crawler Radio. When I first started, I had these grand dreams that I would meet all the authors that I had come to love in my formative years. And amazingly enough I was able to fulfill most of those dreams. So, to narrow it down to one individual was quite a challenge, but in the end when I finally decided on who that individual was, it was quite obvious and apparent.
As I’ve said, I have met many amazing and talented people over the years and this is in no way to discount them because many of them have helped shape my life in one way or another. However, the one person who really stands out in my mind that made the most impact in my life as a person, a podcaster, an interviewer and a writer has to be author R.A. Salvatore. It was during those Awkward High School years that I discovered Bob’s first Drizzt novel, The Crystal Shard. The book was set in the Dungeons and Dragons Forgotten Realms setting and at the time was published by TSR. The cover was fascinating, on it was a burly dwarf with a massive battleaxe, a huge human barbarian easily hefting a warhammer in both hands, and a dark elf was crouched on the ground examining a blood trail. I knew right then and there I wanted to know what happened within the pages of this book.
I devoured every book R.A. Salvatore put out and they always found a way to effect me emotionally on some level with the events going on in my life at the time. It was amazing. Fast forward fourteen years later and I was two years into running my podcast and we’d had some success with interviewing author like Larry Corriea, Dan Wells, and Brandon Sanderson before their careers took off. It was around this time I gained the courage to email Bob and see if he would be willing to come on the show to talk about his latest book. To my amazement, he said yes and we planned when he’d come on. The show was beyond amazing, there I was talking to the author equivalent of my hero and it was like we had been friends for years, he joked with us, he spoke to us about writing, he gave us and the listeners some really great advice. He was also very interested in what we had to say regarding our insight with his novels, the characters and our questions about writing and he was very gracious and responded in kind.
Bob continued to come back on the show year after year sometimes as much as twice a year depending on book release and each time he continued to leave great advice on writing and being a decent human being.
With each visit I wrote down the amazing advice given and tried to incorporate those things into my daily life, my writing for my gaming campaign and the podcast. The advice given was so impactful that I am sure it is part of the reason the podcast has been so successful and authors like R.A. Salvatore and so many others have wanted to return over and over again. But more importantly, it was the advice given about writing and the need to write that really changed my life as it had given me the foundation I needed when I began to write my first novel. All those lessons over the years had been the greatest writing class anyone could ever hope for.
I am grateful for the friendships I have made over the years with individuals in the writing and gaming communities due to my podcast and writing. I still continue to meet amazing individuals everyday and I hope that through my podcast, my writing and when I speak at events that maybe I too can spark the joy of being creative in someone else like Bob helped ignite in me.
About Daniel Swenson
Daniel Swenson is a fantasy writer that enjoys writing about dragons, guns, swords, magic and more. Daniel’s debut novel The Shadow Above the Flames came out in 2017 and was an Amazon Best Seller. The sequel, A Dragon’s fate will be release in June of 2019. Daniel is also the creator and host of the Hugo-nominated podcast Dungeon Crawlers Radio.
How do you save the world from two monstrous entities? A power-hungry corporation and a newly awakened dragon…
In a world left reeling at the loss of fossil fuels, and after giving years of service to the military, Henry Morgan just wants a normal life. But between nagging feelings from his past and a strained relationship with his brother Rick, “normality” always feels just out of reach.
The Union Forest Corporation puts profits ahead of safety and with a dragon on the loose threatening to kill innocent people, something incredible happens…
Henry learns that Rick is among the force of elite commandos sent by Union Forest to battle against the dragon at the drilling site, he’s forced back into the roles of soldier and protective older sibling. He’ll do anything he can to save his brother . . . including risking his own life at the hands of a ruthless corporation. Henry may be the only person who can keep the world safe from total annihilation…
If you like fast-paced thrillers, brutal dragons, witty heroes, and evil villains, then you’ll love Daniel Swenson’s first novel – The Shadow Above The Flames. It’s a high octane thrill ride!