10 Songs to Inspire Your Creativity

When I write, I need to be in a distraction-free zone. While that probably sounds like a no-brainer, you’d be amazed at the type of challenges I encounter when I sit down to write. Whether it’s my precious Welsh terrier’s urge to go outside every fifteen minutes (only when daddy is writing, mind you), or the neighbor’s children holding “screaming” contests on their trampoline, my brain is under constant attack from outside stimulation.

So, where can a writer turn during times of interruption and rising hostility?

The hills are alive…

When I need some quality, uninterrupted writing time, I turn to music. Music selection boils down entirely to a matter of personal preference, but for me, I find that louder, more aggressive music distracts me instead of inspires.

However, there is no wrong answer. Use whatever works best for your situation. Musical inspiration can come from any number of sources. For example, my friend and fellow author Bernard Schaffer created a playlist of Morrissey songs to fuel his creativity while writing Whitechapel: The Final Stand of Sherlock Holmes.

Enter Hammock…

When I write, I need something calming and melodic that I can get lost in. Most of my books have been written while the pleasing sounds of Hammock poured through my speakers. Hammock is pure ear candy, and quite easily the most beautiful music I have ever heard.

Hammock’s music penetrates deep into my soul and brings forth a new layer of creativity in me. It’s like seeing the world through shades of vibrant color and passing seasons all at the same time. While these may seem like lofty claims, the proof is in the very first Hammock song you hear.

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The Playlist…

While you could start literally anywhere within Hammock’s expansive catalog of music and find pure bliss, here are ten of my all-time favorites that repeat often throughout my creative process (in no particular order):

  1. In the Middle of this Nowhere (from Oblivion Hymns)
  2. The More You Drink From the Well, the Higher the Waters Will Rise (from EPs, Singles and Remixes)
  3. Tape Recorder (from Departure Songs)
  4. The House Where We Grew Up (from Raising Your Voice… Trying to Stop an Echo)
  5. My Mind was a Fog… My Heart Became a Bomb (from Oblivion Hymns)
  6. Tristia (from Chasing After Shadows… Living with the Ghosts)
  7. Maybe They Will Sing for us Tomorrow (from Maybe They Will Sing for us Tomorrow)
  8. Dark Beyond the Blue (from Longest Year)
  9. North (from EPs, Singles and Remixes)
  10. Blankets of Night (from Kenotic)

The next time you find yourself stuck and in need of a creative boost, I strongly recommend you give Hammock a try. Their music has made a world of difference for me!

Happy writing!

Guest Post: Desmond Kalish

Guest post by: Desmond Kalish, protagonist from Noble: New World Order

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Um… hello, world? Is that how people usually start these things? I don’t know; not much of a blogger. I wasn’t given a whole lot of context when asked to write this guest post, so bear with me as I fumble my way through it.

I guess I should start with the basics: my name is Desmond Kalish, and I am twenty-eight years old. Christ, this is already starting to sound like a Match.com profile. Talking about me is tricky. I can tell you that I’m a former police officer with the Charleston P.D. in West Virginia, but beyond that, most of my dossier is classified.

Noble: New World Order tells the tale of the most challenging year of my life. During my time as a cop, I dealt with my fair share of drug dealers, gang bangers, and murderers, but I’d never seen anyone like the Street Sweeper before. The whole city was on high alert with that psychopath on the prowl, and Charleston isn’t a place that scares easily.

I didn’t know it at the time, of course, but the Street Sweeper case was only the beginning for little ol’ me…

Meanwhile in Kansas, a man named Father Gibbard toiled away in secret on a plan to manually induce the Armageddon. I know, right? You’re probably thinking the same thing I did when my employers first told me, but I assure you, he’s legit. If you think that sounds farfetched, wait till you hear about his children. Yikes. Definitely not a family portrait JC Penney could capture.

A person can’t go through what I have and come out the other side unscathed. Even now, I don’t think I’ve fully processed the events I’ve witnessed. I’m thrilled to be where I am, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t get here without experiencing moments of both triumph and loss. Although I live and breathe, those I lost along the way are never far from my thoughts.

For them, my work must carry on.

Noble: New World Order – Coming Soon to paperback and Kindle

Hulegaard Books Podcast – Episode 08: Michael Shean

In this week’s episode, I am joined by Washington, D.C. based author, Michael Shean. Michael and I talk about how he’s turned a history of nightmares into a positive, his impassioned thoughts about equality for sci-fi writers, and a deep dive into the world of his flagship series, The Wonderland Cycle.

All this and more in episode 08 of the Hulegaard Books podcast. Let me know what you think about this week’s show in the comments!

Hulegaard Books Podcast – Episode 07: Matthew Cox

In addition to the release of his debut novel Division Zero, Matthew Cox and I also discuss finding an audience in the sci-fi genre, dabbling in high-fantasy, and his upcoming collaborative series with Hulegaard Books podcast favorite, Tony Healey. And just for fun, we talk about video games, too. :)

All this and more in episode seven of the Hulegaard Books podcast below. Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments!

Noble: The Video Game?

In a hurry? Jump straight into the Ashley Falls game.

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Anyone still with me? Okay, here’s the backstory:

My love affair with video games started from the moment I first took an Atari 2600 joystick into my hands. The television screen filled with images of blocky tanks, a yellow blob munching on power pellets, and a plumber (with a ridiculously proportioned nose) jumping over barrels. I never looked back.

Despite being told time-and-time-again as a child that video games would rot my brain, the exact opposite happened. Believe it or not, video games actually fueled my creativity. I wasn’t content to simply hear that the princess was in another castle, I wanted to know why; my first lesson in “show versus tell.”

What details early video games left out of the story, I filled in on my own. Before I knew it, I had volumes of Super Mario fan-fiction, and that passion to create eventually bled over into other favorites, like, The Legend of Zelda.

Fast forward to 2014 and I’ve now written five original books. However, I realize that not everyone has the time or attention span to tackle a 300-plus page novel. So, I got to thinking: how can I shoehorn that experience into a more bite-sized proposition? The answer: video games!

Using the StoryNexus toolset, I have created a free, plot-twisting adventure based on the events of my debut novel Noble. While it is possible to achieve the canon ending from the book, the story unfolds as you make decisions, and your choices shape the eventual outcome. There are six possible endings, so replay it and see other ways the story could have ended!

Have fun, and if you enjoy the game, pick up the book for the complete experience.

Hulegaard Books Podcast – Episode 06: Liz Borino

The conversation gets hot and heavy this week as I’m joined by romance author Liz Borino in episode 06 of the Hulegaard Books podcast!

Liz talks about the differences between writing gay and straight romance, her thoughts on the perils of self-published authors bypassing a professional editor, and her marketing advice for independent authors trying to breakthrough.

Check out this week’s episode below, and be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments.

Hulegaard Books Podcast – Episode 05: Simon John Cox

In episode 05, I’m joined by English writing talent Simon John Cox. In addition to discussing his short story Still from the Edge of Oblivion anthology, Simon speaks candidly about his goal to become traditionally published, his thoughts on the value of reader reviews, and his poignant take on the challenges self-published authors currently face.

Check it out, and be sure to let me know what you think in the comments!

Edge of Oblivion Available Now on Kindle

Over the past few weeks, you’ve likely seen me posting several updates about the Edge of Oblivion anthology. I’ve been enjoying chatting with other authors about their stories featured in the collection, but I haven’t really done much speaking about my own; and I work in marketing for a living, folks. :)

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Edge of Oblivion

First let me say this about the anthology: I love it! It’s chock-full of engaging, twisted and sometimes creepy tales by some of the most creative writers I’ve ever had the privilege of reading. Whether you enjoy Twilight Zone-caliber mysteries, time-bending head scratchers, post-apocalyptic tales of futures to come, traditional ghost stories or pornographic sci-fi (yes, I’m looking at you, Tony), there is a little something for everyone.

On a personal note, I read Keri Knutson’s “Jingle, Jingle” right before bedtime. I would strongly advise against doing that. :)

The Tunnel

So, that brings us to my contribution: “The Tunnel.” Tony Healey, the man behind the Edge of Oblivion anthology, was one of the biggest supporters of my short story compilation Strangers. He contacted me last year and told me about his vision for a speculative fiction anthology. He’d been kicking around the idea as a fundraiser opportunity for The Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

I was beyond flattered when Tony said that “The Tunnel” fit perfectly within his vision and asked for permission to include it. Naturally, I jumped at the chance, especially since all proceeds were being donated to charity. I’ve heard from readers that “The Tunnel” was their favorite Strangers story, so I welcomed the opportunity to get it out in front of a new audience.

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Strangers on a Train

The concept behind “The Tunnel” was pretty basic. From my own travels, I have heard a plethora of local legends and myths about particular towns and buildings. One that really stood out for me was the tale of the Moonville Tunnel in Ohio.

It’s a great story in its own right, but being a writer, the gears started spinning. Using the real world history of Moonville as inspiration, I wrote “The Tunnel,” which explored the dark side of a seemingly innocuous train ride from Cleveland to Cincinnati.

A young artist named Colin swaps stories with Herbert, an old-timer with a love of the rails, to entertain themselves over the long trip. However, a series of strange events occur as the train nears a tunnel known to locals as the Starlight Mile.

Show & Tell

The Edge of Oblivion anthology is a steal at $2.99, but don’t just take my word for it. Here’s a quick taste of what you can expect!

 

An excerpt from “The Tunnel”

“Well then, what about you, Mr. Herbert?” Colin shut his notebook and set it down beside him. “I imagine you’ve heard some great stories in your day. Do you have a favorite?”

“I’ve traveled far and wide for many years. I have heard thousands of different tales, but if I did have a favorite, I think yours may have just topped it.” Herbert removed a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his nose. “However, now that you mention it, I think I do have one that’s appropriate. Let me ask you, do you like scary stories?”

Colin reigned in his jubilant expression and looked at the old man cockeyed. “Um, I guess so.”

“Splendid! Then I think you’re really going to love this one. It’s a story that originated in Ohio. Come to think of it, it happened on this very train route.”

Colin rolled his eyes and said, “Please don’t tell me this is going to end with a train car full of blonde bimbos and a hook stuck to the outside door handle.”

“Of course not,” Herbert said. “This is a story about the tunnel.”

“What tunnel? We’ve already passed through several.”

“Indeed, young Colin, there are many tunnels on the path ahead, but nothing like the Starlight Mile.”

“I’ve never heard of that and I’ve lived in Ohio for years.” Colin folded his arms across his chest.

“Well, no, Colin. I wouldn’t figure that you had. The story reveals a time in history that Ohio would rather forget, but us old timers? We know the truth.”

“Are you sure?”

“Ah, I always appreciate a good skeptic. You want proof, and I will oblige. I want you to count to thirty and then look out the window. If I’m telling you the truth, you will see a hill lined with old stone markers.”

Colin humored the old man and counted off to thirty out loud as Herbert looked on. When Colin reached the number thirty, he turned to the side and looked outside. “All I see are a bunch of trees, Herbert. I’ll give you credit, though. You had me going for a—”

Colin stopped short after a break in the trees gave way to large mound of earth. Stone markers littered the path up to the top of the hill, just as Herbert had said.

 

Buy Now

Get Edge of Oblivion for your Kindle today!

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Happy reading!

Hulegaard Books Podcast – Episode 04: Courtney Cantrell

How is writing short stories like foreplay?

Courtney Cantrell joins me as my special guest in Episode 04 of the Hulegaard Books podcast! We talk about the just-released Edge of Oblivion anthology, being a full-time mom and writer, the challenges of writing a first draft, and getting inside the mind of a deranged character. Very enlightening discussion!

Speaking of the Edge of Oblivion anthology… did I mention that it’s available now on Kindle?

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Be sure to comment and give me your feedback on this week’s episode!