Thursday, August 12, 2010

Is There Music in Your Writing?

Today, Donna, my cyberdaughter, is so graciously hosting me on my Virtual Book Tour for my latest YA historical novel, Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines. I've written a post about music in my writing. But first, a short bio.

When Beverly was a child, she hated to read. Even though her eighth-grade teacher sent her poem “Stars” to a high school anthology, and it was published in Young America Sings, she hated to write. In spite of her rocky relationship with the printed word, she attended Midwestern University, read more books than she ever imagined, wrote tons of papers, and graduated with a teaching degree. Imagine that. As a teacher, she also read a lot. Reading Dr. Seuss and other great children’s books to her sons and to her students made her realize what she’d been missing: reading was fun. Now, she reads and she also writes. Her stories and articles have been published in leading children’s magazines. One article was reprinted in a Scott Foresman PreK-K Anthology. Her “Breakthrough” article appeared in the June 2007 issue of Writer Magazine. She has five novels for tweens and teens published with four more under contract, along with a picture book. Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, a YA historical fiction, is her latest release.

Music in My Writing

One day I was working on my current young adult story when one of the major characters surprised me by saying he had learned to play the guitar. Now this was not in my original plans, but I went with him¾who am I to question my characters? In one scene, so far, he and a friend play their guitars. We will see where this new thought leads.

I started thinking about my other stories and whether they contained musical elements. To my surprise, music is part of four out of five of my books. In Listen to the Ghost Matt, one of the major characters plays the saxophone and piano. Jennifer, the pov character in Secrets I Have Kept, plays classical music on the piano, and Casey, the other pov character writes country ballads and strums the guitar. Then Rebel’s mother runs away with the drummer in a rock band in the novel Rebel in Blue Jeans, and Lizzie, from Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines plays the guitar. Though the music isn’t the main point of each story, it’s there, adding to the details of the characters’ lives, telling us a little more about their likes and dislikes.

So music does play a part in most of my work. And I believe it goes back to my early years when I took piano lessons. Twice a week I spent 30 minutes in Mrs. Patton’s home, sitting at her piano. At the time, of course, I’d rather have been outside playing with my friends. My parents wanted me to play the piano, and I did my best. Today, I’m so glad I did. When I’m tense and my world is going in ten different directions at the same time, I can sit at the piano, play some of my favorite tunes from the 50’s or my favorite hymns from today, and I relax and soon I’m ready to face the day with an improved attitude and sometimes ideas for new scenes or lines that popped into my head from the songs.

In addition to the piano, I once played the clarinet in the junior high and high school bands. At the time I enjoyed the music but never considered how it might affect my future life. From my experiences, however, I believe that writing is much like playing a musical instrument. I started from the beginning, learning the basics. With music, on the piano for instance, it’s treble clef, base clef, whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, rests, sharps, flats, and all the parts that go together to make a song. Then I advanced in my knowledge of music and put the parts together with words and lyrics and melodies. Soon my music was telling a story. Yes, someone else wrote the words, but when I was on the stage, playing for my recitals, I still relayed the message to my listeners.

With writing, I began with words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, commas, periods, and question marks. As my skills grew and developed, I put the parts together, introduced the characters, and added a plot and theme. Soon I was telling a story to my readers.

Sometimes, what we do as adults reflects back to things we enjoyed in our childhood. Is there music in your writing?

Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines is the story of Elizabeth (Lizzie) Stamford and her family's daily struggle to survive a changing way of life during the American Civil War. This is a story of fear, courage, and understanding that people, no matter where they live, have the same needs: love, peace and security.

Publisher: Twilight Time Books
ISBN 1-60619-112-8
YA Trade Paperback
$14.95, 152 pages
June 15, 2010

Available at the publisher, at Amazon,
or your favorite book store can order it
for you.

Thank you, Donna, for hosting me today.

Leave a comment and be entered in a drawing
for a signed copy of Caves, Cannons, and

Happy reading.


  1. Beverly (cybermom):

    It's a pleasure hosting you today. Your colorful background always amazes and intrigues me. How interesting without you realizing it how instrumental (no pun intended) music is to your writing.

    Warmest regards,

  2. Donna, thanks for hosting Beverly. Beverly, loved the interview. I play the flute and the piccolo -- took lessons as a kid and still play -- and in my current work in progress the main character, a 7th grader, is a musician. I'm not sure if the characters in future books will/won't play.


  3. What a fun post! I learned something new about Beverly.

    That is one of the fun things about following these virtual book tours. All the stops are different and you can learn so many new things about the authors and their books.

    Thanks and have a great day!

  4. Dear Donna and Beverly,
    Thank you for your warm and interesting comments about the use of music in your writing, Beverly. As a musician myself, I am inspired by your words. I hope to read your new book, the title is intriguing, and it sounds like the story is also.
    My best wishes,
    Suzanne Marion
    (Suzanne2 in the CWCC)

  5. LOL. Thanks, Donna. I appreciate you allowing me to share my thoughts today. I think your pun works very nicely.

  6. Hi, Peggy. Some of my friends played the flute in high school. Sometimes I wish I still had my clarinet, but sold it years ago.

    You never know what those characters will decide to do. The boys in my current WIP weren's musicians to start with. Then one day ...

  7. Hi Susanne,

    Yes, I'm telling all. Now I have nothing left to reveal. :)

  8. Hi Suzanne,

    Nice to meet another musician. About all I do these days is play the piano. It helps to relax me when I'm stressed.

    I'm glad you like the book's title and hope you enjoy reading it. Thanks for your comment.

  9. What a great interview. I think the new book sounds facinating and can't wait to read it. Blessings to both of you and your writing. You are touching hearts.


  10. Thank you for your kind words, Terri. I hope you enjoy Caves.

    I appreciate your comments.


  11. Fascinating interview.
    Thanks for the read.

    Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

  12. Hi Margot,

    Thanks for stoppy by. Have a lovely evening.

  13. Gee, I can't even spell. That should be stopping by. Guess I flunk, huh?

  14. Great interview, ladies! Thank you.

    Glad you are back safe and sound, Donna. I hope you had a great vacation!


  15. Bev, I played the clarinet and piano, too! Amazing how many writers are musicians, too. Lots of different outlets for creativity, I suppose. :o)

    All best with your tour as it winds down.

  16. That's one thing I enjoy about these tours, Beth. You learn so much about not only the author but the friends who leave comments. We do have a lot of musicians/writers.

    I wonder how many are artists too.

    Thanks for visiting.


Thank for you taking the time out to visit with me and to learn about my writing career.

Please be sure to leave your blog address so I can reciprocate.

I look forward to visiting you too.