Summer of Hush by R.L. Merrill

Summer of Hush by R.L. Merrill

A rocker with a crush

An intern with a secret

A meet-cute

A band attempting to make a comeback after a tragedy occurred

A group of metalcore musicians who are all awkward and adorable and a supporting cast of bands and crew who will make you laugh, swoon, and maybe even tear up a time or two.

Hush is back… and it’s about to get loud.

After two years grieving the death of his best friend, Silas Franklin is back on the road with his metalcore band, Hush. With a new member, a brilliant new album, and a headlining spot on the last cross-country Warped Tour, life couldn’t be better—unless Silas could meet the intriguing music blogger known only as the Guru. Silas has followed his blog for years and feels the Guru might be the only person who “gets” him.

For years Krishnan Guruvayoor has reported on the metal scene as an anonymous blogger, and he’s just landed an internship on the Warped Tour as well as a potential position with a well-respected music magazine. His best friend arranges for him to meet singer Silas Franklin—but only as Krish the Intern. Their chemistry is instant, and Krish is thrilled to get to know the man behind the music.

The rock star and blogger quickly go from meet-cute to cuddle session, but secrets, overprotective bandmates, meddling media, and a terrible accident all conspire against them. Can their romance survive the summer of Hush?

New Fiction! “Last Lullaby” in Crescendo of Darkness

Music has the power to soothe the soul, drive people to obsession, and soundtrack evil plots. Is music the instigator of madness, or the key that unhinges the psychosis within? From guitar lessons in a graveyard and a baby allergic to music, to an infectious homicidal demo and melancholy tunes in a haunted lighthouse, Crescendo of Darkness will quench your thirst for horrifying audio fiction. is proud to present fourteen tales of murderous music, demonic performers, and cursed audiophiles.

Please enjoy an excerpt below from Crescendo of Darkness.

“Last Lullaby” by Emerian Rich

An opera diva is haunted by a dangerous secret which threatens to end her career and her life.


Sleep, love, it is not yet the dawn,

Angels guard thee, sweet love, til morn!

~”Berceuse de Jocelyn” by Benjamin Godard, 1888

 1893, London, England


Opera Diva, Claire Gravois, the famed French soprano will be performing her farewell concert at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Saturday evening…

Claire studied the newspaper photograph taken of her only a year before. Her strawberry blonde hair had been styled beautifully that day with it swept up into a cascade of curls falling over her shoulder. Although the photo was black and white, she remembered the vibrant color of the dress. It had come from the opera closet and she only wore it once for the publicity shot. Vibrant crimson with intricate beading across her bosom, the dress had brought out her green eyes, making them look ethereal in the grayscale photo.

A tear fell from her eye. She was haunted by her once vibrant skin, the confident smile, and the bright eyes of her still photo. It had been taken the night she was given the lead. A night she’d never forget, for not only had she received a standing ovation, it was also the night she had first seen HIM.

“Miss Gravois,” the stage director called, knocking on her dressing room door. “The newspaper man is here. Are you ready for him?”

She stashed the newspaper clipping under her jewelry box and took a deep breath.

Oui, send him in.” Claire’s gaze fell to her wrinkled hands and she pulled the long lace of her dressing gown sleeves over them. She was barely twenty, but her skin looked like that of a fifty-year-old woman. If she turned to look into the mirror to her right, she’d find her face just as aged, but she dared not. Not before meeting with the press.

She closed her eyes and remembered the vision of the girl from the photos. The girl who looked her age. The girl who had the confidence to become the most adored soprano in all the world.

A moment later the stage director opened the door. The newspaper man was rather tall for the doorway and reminded her of a marionette being handled by a child as he ducked into the room, clumsy limbs and all.

“Miss Gravois?” He held out a hand to shake, but she did not take it.

Oui.” She sat up straighter at her dressing table, back to the mirror.

“Or should I call you Mademoiselle?” He tipped his hat and took a seat opposite her.

“Miss Gravois is fine.”

“Thank you for agreeing to see me. I know you must be busy with rehearsals.”

If he only knew she hadn’t sung in two weeks for fear of using her voice. She just smiled as he stared at her curves. Men mesmerized by her beauty was nothing new. Even before her stardom, men couldn’t keep their gaze from her cascading hair, her bombshell form, and her shapely legs. When she was a chorus girl, they felt they could conquer her. As a famed diva, they were a little less willing to risk the price of putting their hands on her. Even in her aged state, they still stared with a hunger that sometimes scared her.

“You are just as beautiful as the rumors say.”


“They tell me you are retiring. The concert on Saturday will be your last performance before you retire?”


“Why would you retire now, when your career is going so well? When you still pack houses and fetch quite a fee for entry? You aren’t ill are you?” His gaze was finally locked on her eyes instead of her other assets. Did he see the wrinkles there she tried to hide with makeup?

“No.” She swallowed back the lie. “I am simply…quitting while I’m ahead, you might say.”

“Good.” Relief swept his face. “What do you plan to do after?”

A good question. What would she do when her life-long passion was no longer available to her? She swallowed back tears, praying he didn’t notice.

“I shall return to my family home in France.”

“Will you still be in the music field? Teach perhaps?”

“No.” One thing she was certain about. She’d have to give up music completely. To be around it would be too tempting. “I’m not sure what I shall do to occupy my time. Right now, I am concentrating on my farewell concert, not after.”

“Well, you’ll have time to decide then. I hope you’ll keep our readers informed if your plans change.”



To read the rest of this story and thirteen

other horror music shorts, check out:

 Crescendo of Darkness

Direct link:

Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson

Cover by Carmen Masloski Press

 Let music unlock your fear within.

Music Inspiring Writing: Selah Janel

Welcome to my blog series all about how ♫ Music Inspires Writing ♫

Today my guest is Selah Janel a writer and music lover.

If Music be the Food of Love, Play On

By Selah Janel

“If music be the food of love, play on,” says the bard, but I think sometimes we forget how much music influences our daily lives, and our personal art. As a writer, it cocoons my workspace, puts me in that ‘ready to enter my inner universe’ mode, gets me comfortable feeling the emotions I need to feel to write whatever I’m working on. It validates, encourages, in a uniquely personal way that not much else can.

My personal tastes are all over the map. Growing up, I studied classical voice, and I still like to listen to Benjamin Britten, Purcell, Samuel Barber, Mozart, and on and on from time to time. I love musical theatre and did my time in that world, too, so soundtracks aren’t out of the question. I’m a die-hard classic rock fan, so that’s always going to happen. Still, writing music doesn’t necessarily pull directly from those catalogues. It’s obviously music I write, but I want things that will transport my mind to where it needs to go.

I love instrumental albums. David Lanz, Brian Eno, David Garrett, David Bowie’s instrumental work – I’ve had them all on repeat at different times, because they let my thoughts take the foreground while keeping my emotions on a steady simmer. I love moody artists like Delerium, Tina Malia’s Shores of Avalon, and Emily Autumn for similar reasons. If I need to just sit down and go, I’ll tap one of those, or sometimes pull up artists I’m super familiar with, like Led Zeppelin or Bowie’s massive catalogue, because it’s like having a friend sitting with me, egging me on, but not distracting me. I’ll edit to things like this or to big band, stuff that’s more background and not likely to have me falling too into the story or wanting to rehash things unless they objectively need it.

I don’t know how other people work, but I also have albums and artists that I don’t necessarily write to, but I character build or zone out to. G Tom Mac is my go to example – I love the emotions and textures in his music, and the narratives are open enough that I can apply them to a lot of my manuscripts and characters. If I’m having a problem with a sequence, I’ll play certain songs that remind me of those characters on repeat and let my mind go. Sixx: AM is another great group for this. I may not write with them playing, but their three albums give me loads of ammunition for my characters to work out their issues.

Sometimes it depends on the book. For an urban fantasy rock themed book, I wrote mainly to Zeppelin, Motley Crue, and AC/DC. The name of a short story collection I co-authored, Lost in the Shadows, is from a song title. While none of my pieces were written around songs, to me and S.H. Roddey, the title embodied our philosophy for the book and for ideas and genre in general, that it’s okay to go off the beaten path and delve into a place that others may not get or view as mysterious or apprehensive. That was in definite tribute to the sheer amount of time I’ve at least spent blasting that song during study sessions in college and later during late-night show builds for different places I’ve worked.  For other manuscripts, I name file titles/sequences by the song titles that either inspired them or that remind me of them. I just never know when a lyric or a bit of melody or something is going to catch fire and keep driving a scene into something more. I love that. I love having that support, that momentum, that inspiration from other artists, whether they know they’re giving it or not.

Music is a gateway for me, a spell to the lands that are in my head but not accessible in the real world. I find it fascinating that songs that may have been written with one intent can mean something entirely different when they’re in my ears, and inspire something that I make that is also totally different. That’s magical to me. It’s amazing that a few pitches and sounds and lyrics can mean so much to people as it is, but in a closed room when I’m focused on a manuscript or scratching at a notebook, it means so much more. It’s not always easy to keep working on manuscripts that feel endless, and although people mean well and try to be encouraging, there’s something about writing to music that screams ‘you are not alone, you have all these others with you, just get it out.’ I don’t know if it’s some semblance of permission or just the fact that I like the insulation and don’t want to be bothered when I write, but if I’m having trouble, music is definitely a huge step in overcoming block and getting words on paper.


0908_Selah_Hedshots_60CSelah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. The many people around her that supported her love of reading and curiosity probably made it worse. Her e-books The Other Man, Holly and Ivy, and Mooner are published through Mocha Memoirs Press. Lost in the Shadows, a collection of short stories celebrating the edges of ideas and the spaces between genres was co-written with S.H. Roddey. Her work has also been included in The MacGuffin, The Realm Beyond, Stories for Children Magazine, The Big Bad: an Anthology of Evil, The Big Bad 2, The Grotesquerie, and Thunder on the Battlefield: Sorcery. Olde School is the first book in her series, The Kingdom City Chronicles, published through Seventh Star Press. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own. Catch up with Selah at,, or @SelahJanel on Twitter.

Thank you Selah for sharing your thoughts!

So what music inspires you to write? Share yours in the comments below and tune in here next time when one of my friends shares their music inspirations.

Music Inspiring Writing: Suzanne Madron

Welcome to my blog series all about how ♫ Music Inspires Writing ♫

Today my guest is Suzanne Madron, a writer and music lover.

Inspiring Music

by Suzanne Madron

When I started writing it was a diary, which was boring in comparison to some journal entries I’ve made since those first small books with small locks and tiny keys, hidden from the prying eyes of younger siblings. By high school my writing had evolved into a series of very artistic notes to friends passed in the hallways. We had a kind of daily newspaper with reports from each of our small group and they included artwork, the ever-popular ‘mood-O-meter’, and technicolor passages if we happened to be bored in art class. In true teenage fashion, we had lists of music we had discovered, and our favorite songs of the day. There was a lot of Nine Inch Nails, Fugazi, The Cure, the Ramones, The Damned, Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Misfits, Alice Cooper, Ministry, Danzig, Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly, Killing Joke, KMFDM, Dead Can Dance, Sisters of Mercy, Nick Cave, Shriekback, and then this new band called Nirvana. I know, I know, spot the goths.

In fact, it was because of Shriekback that I got the inspiration for my first novel, Nemesis. They have a song titled “Nemesis” (if interested in seeing the video,you can view it here – caveat, it was the ‘80’s and it is very much an ‘80’s video), and while listening to it in my room as an angsty teen, I drew a picture of what would later become the main character of my Immortal War Series. In my senior year, I wrote the first draft of Nemesis after being tricked into using the new ‘laptop’ computer (read: a giant unwieldy beast of a thing that had word perfect and solitaire installed) in AP English. I spent nine months glued to the screen and listening to music, the words flowing into the keyboard and onto the screen. My English teacher loved it. My theater teacher loved it. The select few friends who got to read the original draft loved it. I kept rewriting it. I created a small soundtrack for it a la mix tape, and the songs were mostly Sisters of Mercy songs at first. The Some Girls Wander by Mistake boxed set took over for the backdrop to my rewriting of Nemesis and the subsequent books, but I needed more. The mix tape made way for the burned mix CD, which was replaced by iTunes.

By then I had been rewriting all of my novels for over a decade. Fields of the Nephilim bumped Sisters of Mercy on the new NEMESIS playlist, and “Darkcell AD” and “One More Nightmare” were on repeat until the Mourning Sun album came out. The playlist evolved and grew as my iTunes library grew, and included all the bands above and absorbed VNV Nation, Covenant, Combichrist (which I used as a soundtrack when writing the short stories that eventually got included in the Cover Stories Euphictional Anthology), Rammstein, KMFDM, Sister Machine Gun, Rosetta Stone, SKOLD, Carfax Abbey, Rome, and Deathstars.

The playlists for the other books are even more varied and include Skruncha-roo, Fever Ray, Paradise Lost, Dethklok, Eivor, Arcana, and Gorillaz, to name but a few. It’s hard to nail my taste down to just one style of music, even, because my pseudonyms all have different tastes. For example, Xircon prefers loud and fast. Punk rock and metal populate that playlist. James Glass prefers Big Band, Dixieland, and old Jazz and Blues, though he’s been known to wander into Nick Cave territory. The lists can go on and on, but this is a decent primer of what soundtrack is playing in my head and outside of it half the time when I’m not plagued by the themesong from Bubble Guppies.

~ Suzanne Madron


Photo on 12-31-15 at 5.47 PMSuzanne Madron is the latest incarnation of Suzi M. She has written several novels, many short stories, and created multiple pseudonyms under which to write. Her more popular pseudonyms include James Glass (The Metatron Mysteries) and Xircon (The Lazarus Stone [Conspiracy Edit]). All of her work can be found on Amazon, and select editions can be found on Barnes & Noble and iTunes.

Suzanne lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, son, and House Panther. In her spare time she likes to turn the step tracker app on in her phone while she’s in the car and let it think she’s a cheetah.

Suzanne Madron Amazon Author Page

Suzanne Madron Facebook Page: Suzanne on Facebook

Thank you Suzanne for sharing your thoughts!

So what music inspires you to write? Share yours in the comments below and tune in here next time when one of my friends shares their music inspirations.

Music Inspiring Writing: Leigh M. Lane

Welcome to my blog series all about how ♫ Music Inspires Writing ♫

Today my guest is Leigh M. Lane, a writer and music lover.

Choosing the Right Playlist

by Leigh M. Lane

Jane RevivalI’m not sure how common this is, but I seem to change with the wind when it comes to using music as inspiration for my writing. I discovered the benefits of matching music with writing when I was in my early teens. I remember my sister and I would have various tapes (yes, we played tapes back then) at the ready, with a boom box (it was the ’80s) to the right of the computer.

We had different selections for different types of scenes—mood music, if you will. Vampires killing a roomful of people? Put on a little Metallica or maybe some early Queensrÿche. Building up tension or working on a chapter with a little drama? INXS, U2, or R.E.M. were usually good choices. Writing a scene that’s a little more lighthearted? Fleetwood Mac or Def Leppard. Provocative or fantastical? Pink Floyd, of course.

Over the years, my musical palette has expanded quite a bit, but my use of music to enhance my writing process has become much more limited. Strangely, there are times when I require near silence in order to write. Sometimes, I’ll turn the music on in the next room over to make it more ambient. There are still times, however, when I engulf myself in an album in order to set the right mood for a scene or story.

A good example is the music I chose to inspire a short story for a clown-themed horror anthology set for release later this year. No, “To the Shock of Miss Louise” didn’t help me along (sorry, you’ll only get that reference if you’ve ever listened to The Lost Boys soundtrack—great selection of songs, until you get to the end, and then *bam* carousel music). While some of the songs on that soundtrack might have served me well, I was looking for something a little more … violent. You see, I’d opted to include a little torture porn in this story, and not just anything would do. The perfect choice? Marilyn Manson’s Mechanical Animals. I think it did the trick. You can let me know once the anthology, Painted Mayhem, is released.

Most of my writing tends to be much more cerebral, however, for which I’ve found David Bowie, Tori Amos, Joe Satriani, or a classical composition by Mozart or Dvořák fits the bill. And, if all else fails, I’ll turn on the classic rock station through my local cable provider … and take my chances that the Bob Dylan selections will be sparse (sorry, Dylan fans). Classic rock almost always lightens my mood, and the words always come more freely when I’m in a good mood.

My most recent venture has been more difficult; finding the right music to write by has, for the most part, eluded me. I started writing a cyberpunk novel a couple weeks ago, and I’m still not sure what music is best to enhance that genre. It’s dark, with some dystopian elements, but also very lighthearted in places. Obviously, whatever music I choose needs to spur my creativity; the sci-fi aspects demand complex world-building. Oingo Boingo’s Dead Man’s Party is a good start, I think, but I need a wider selection to cover the darker aspects. Have any ideas as to what might fit? I’d love some suggestions.


Corset4Lisa (Leigh M.) Lane has been writing dark speculative fiction for over twenty years. She has ten published novels and dozens of published short stories. She is married to editor and educator Thomas B. Lane Jr. and currently resides in the outskirts of Sin City.

Her published works include the traditional Gothic horror novel, Finding Poe; the World-Mart trilogy, a dystopian tribute to Orwell, Serling, and Vonnegut; the dark allegorical tale, Myths of Gods; urban fantasy trilogy Revelations; and the dramatic horror novella series, Jane the Hippie Vampire.

Thank you Leigh for sharing your thoughts!

So what music inspires you to write? Share yours in the comments below and tune in here next time when one of my friends shares their music inspirations.

Music Inspiring Writing: Michele Roger

Welcome to my blog series all about how ♫ Music Inspires Writing ♫

Today my guest is Michele Roger, a writer, music lover, and musician.

♫ Notes and Storytelling ♫

Michele Roger

michele2As a published author of two novels, (The Conservatory and Eternal Kingdom: A Vampire Novel) as well as a musician and composer (Finalist for Best Classical Composer at the 2015 Detroit Music Awards), most people ask me about how music and writing go together in my world.  While other successful authors will tell you that they listen to certain music while they write, I have a confession to make.  I can’t do it.  I can’t listen to any music,with words or without, while writing.  I feel very flawed to admit this.

There is a class musicians are required to take in school where they have to write down (in note form) the music that they hear played by the teacher.  I have become so good at it, that even a student humming will throw me off, if I am making notes in their music or writing something musically.  The same goes for writing stories.  My page starts out as a plot and turns into song lyrics from the CD or radio, if I have it playing.

So what is an auditory musician with a story to tell supposed to do?  Well, over the years I have developed a strategy.  Honestly, I am very jealous of the writers who can play music while they write.  Meanwhile, I must write in silence for the “magic” to happen.  But here is my routine for deriving inspiration from music.

In my last book, Eternal Kingdom, there were a ton of hand to hand combat scenes.  I wanted some music that could inspire me, as well as help me, figure the speed of the fight.  Music tends to give me meter.  It prevents me from rushing the story.  When I have an idea of how I want to write the scene, I begin by leaving my tablet behind.  Yes.  You read that correctly.  To write well, walk away from the work.

micheleInstead, I pop in my ear buds and take a walk.  As the music plays ( I chose a lot of heavy metal and vampire rock to inspire my fight scenes.  Think ‘Concrete Blond’s’ album, “Blood Letting.” ) As I walk, the music blares, the scene roughly plays out in my head.  As I head back home, I replay the same music and the scene comes in to focus, with finer detail.  By the time I return home, my nervous energy is expelled, my scene is hashed out in detail in my mind and I sit down to my tablet to write.  In silence.

Music can also help clear a block in writing.  If I can’t think of what a character might order at a bar while waiting to meet someone, I tend to play smokey jazz music and turn the lights down in my office.  Nora Jones often helps in this kind of ‘aching heart, longing to meet someone’ kind of scenario.  I sit in my recliner and imagine the scene playing out in the club or bar.  The music moves the story bar tender from my character, to the liquor lined up behind the bar, to the concoction she pours into a shaker with ice and eventually into a glass.  The character tags a sip.  The story moves.  What my imagination could not produce for the character alone, the music draws it out and colors it in.  Again, when the scene is fresh in my head, off goes the music and on goes the tablet where I recreate the images with words.

The reverse is also true.  Let’s say I’ve been asked to write a short love song to play for a bride as she walks down the aisle.  I need to put my head in hers, if I can.  I will often turn to books and authors who cover romantic, young love.  Depending on the bride, I may read certain chapters of Jane Austen, or some of the Love Sonnets, or the steamy works of Veronica Franco.   I might ask her what her favorite book is, and read parts of it to capture a bit of her spirit in the song written specifically for her.

The process is entirely different when a book inspires music composition.  Often, I have the chosen book in one hand and my lap top with the Muse Note music composing software open in the other hand.  I’m humming and reading the chapters and writing the music and referring to the chapter in what must look like a jumbled up cha cha dance between paper and glowing screens across my desk.  Never the less, the song is finished and printed.  I take it down to my harp and practice it, tweak it and prepare to perform it. Later the piece of music is wrapped and prepared to give to the bride on the day of her wedding, after she has walked down the aisle to it.

I’ve read that music begins for very young children in the same place in the brain where language develops.  While many schools of thought consider music to be mathematical, I tend to lean towards the language/music pairing as more true.  Both are vehicles to tell a story and both words and melody have been doing so since humans first felt words tumble from their lips.


Michele’s work can be found:

The Conservatory

Eternal Kingdom

SEARCH Magazine Food and Travel Articles:


Thank you Michele for sharing your thoughts!

So what music inspires you to write? Share yours in the comments below and tune in here next time when one of my friends shares their music inspirations.

Music Inspiring Writing: Dahlia DeWinters

Welcome to my blog series all about how ♫ Music Inspires Writing ♫

Today my guest is Dahlia DeWinters, a writer and music lover.

Music as Ins

by Dahlia DeWinters

Ah, music.  The melodies that soothe the savage beasts, inspire poems by moonlight and raise babies’ IQs, right? But really, how powerful is a song?  Being a woman of a certain age, I was raised on seventies and eighties music. When they play those songs on the oldies’ station, I can remember sitting by the radio, fingers poised over the “record and play” buttons, waiting for Casey Kasem to stop talking over the introduction of the song I wanted to record.

From the American Songbook to Elvis to The Beatles to Public Enemy and beyond, I will listen to it all.  In my head, there are only two kinds of music…good and bad.  I don’t pigeonhole my musical tastes by genre, by age or by whatever, because you never know when you’ll find the piece that inspired.

As a writer, I’ve found that music helps push you in writing.  If I’ve been working on a scene and feel that I’m not getting it just right, I click over to my playlists, which I’ve had the wherewithal to label “Love”, “Angst” and “Anger” among other emotive descriptors.  One click, a glance at my scribbled notes, and soon I’m on my way, typing away on the scene on which I was stuck.

Or at least, that’s the way it works in my head….that is not always the reality.

DD_ATD2_OneMoreForTheRoad_coverinNevertheless, music does pave the way for ideas, inspiration and the odd thought that pops into one’s head at odd times.  Thank goodness for the notes app on my phone.

So, let me share with you a little of my magical, musical process.

Starry-eyed romance, whew.
  With these songs, it’s the lyrics that grab me the most.  Just that one perfect line can make the song.  For example:

Hey, Soul Sister –  Train. “The smell of you in every single dream I dream…”

Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol. “All that I ever was/Is here in your perfect eyes, they’re all I can see..”

The One –  Elton John.  “When stars collide, like you and I….no shadow blocks the sun…”

Waiting for You –  Seal. “There has been no one brighter than you/I can’t deny these things that I do/Feels like the world’s at stake, yeah/I have been waiting/I have been waiting for you….”

And from the American Songbook:  All the Things You Are (Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II). “You are the promised kiss of springtime that makes the lonely winter seem long…..You are the angel glow that lights a star…..the dearest things that I know are what you are….” I prefer the Sinatra version.

Combine those words with the powerful music, and how can you not get all gooey inside?

Angst.  Oh, the visions of teenagers clutching pillows and crying until their chest aches.  I don’t usually have angst…but when I need it, here are my go-to groups/songs.

Sounds of Silence- Disturbed

So Lonely – The Police

Love is a Battlefield – Pat Benatar (also, Promises in the Dark)

Separate Ways – Journey

All by Myself – Eric Carmen

All Cried Out – Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam

Wicked Game – HIM

Twilight Zone – Golden Earring

Fight/High Energy Scenes?  I got you.

Mama Said Knock  You Out – LL Cool J

Land of Confusion – Genesis and/or Disturbed

We’re Not Gonna Take it – Twisted Sister

Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2 – Pink Floyd

Rebel Yell – Billy Idol

Fight the Power  – Public Enemy

DahliaDeWintersHeadshotOf course, I’ve got tons more, but this post is to give you just a taste of what inspires me, moves me, motivates me.  Like what you read and want to read more?  Certainly you do!  Check me out at!



Thank you Dahlia for sharing your thoughts!

So what music inspires you to write? Share yours in the comments below and tune in here next time when one of my friends shares their music inspirations.

Music Inspiring Writing: Loren Rhoads

Welcome to my blog series all about how ♫ Music Inspires Writing ♫

Today my guest is Loren Rhoads, a writer and music lover.

How Music Inspires My Writing

by Loren Rhoads

lost-angels-frontWhen I start a new project, I usually search for an album that summarizes the feeling of the writing.  If I’m lucky, I find audio inspiration that can put my brain right back into the same channels time after time, something that primes my imagination whenever I sit down to work.

Some albums I’ve listened to so often that I can no longer stand to hear them when the work is done.  That can be helpful, if I ever need to go back and revise – or pick up the thread to write more work in that universe. Some albums, like Dead Can Dance’s Within the Realm of A Dying Sun, I’ve listened to so often that I’ve sucked all the juice out of them.  They’ve lost their power.

One album that never lost its magic for me is SPK’s Zamia Lehmanni (Songs for Byzantine Flowers).  SPK was an Australian industrial band from 1978-1988 formed by Graeme Revell.  Revell played keyboards and the percussion that propels their sound.  He eventually moved to Hollywood, where he’s written soundtracks for The Crow, The Craft (also great to write to), the Riddick movies, and much, much more.

Zamia Lehmanni’s music is a dense layering of anthropological tapes, industrial noise, keyboards, and percussion.  I like that each piece from the “Invocation” to “The Doctrine of Eternal Ice” has its own personality, although the tone throughout remains nice and dark.  In fact, the music dances over the border into ominous territory.  The underlying drone raises my hackles, which is exactly the mood I needed to work on the story I had published earlier this month, “Sakura Time.”

When my husband Mason and I went to Japan in 1999, we focused our trip on meeting Japanese doll-makers.  Sinister one-of-a-kind art dolls were pioneered by Katan Amano, who created dolls like a demonic blond with silver eyes and corpse-colored skin, who wore a kimono the color of spilled blood.  After Katan’s early death, Ryo Yoshida continued to teach her style of ball-jointed china dolls.

Two things stuck in my head after our trip. Yoshida told us that he had been investigated by the police years before, while a serial killer terrorized Japan.  Horrified and inspired, Yoshida had recreated one of the crime scenes with his dolls.  The resultant photograph was a little too realistic for the police.

Following that conversation, one of the china dolls we met in Japan was a hyper-realistic toddler-sized beauty who – her owner revealed – was anatomically correct.  The way the collector behaved when he undressed her for us creeped me right out.

I wanted to write a Japanese ghost story, like The Ring or Dark Water or the old Lafcadio Hearn tales.  I wanted the ghost to be perverse and dangerous, truly evil.  Murderous.  And I wanted to use what I’d learned about Japanese art dolls.

To get myself into the mood, I put on Zamia Lehmanni again.  I’ve used it as a soundtrack to several other stories about Alondra DeCourval, my young witch who is too angry to be afraid of much of anything.

I’m not sure I got more than a minute into “Invocation” before the words started to flow.


loren-rhoads-photoLoren’s website:

Fright Mare: Women Write Horror on Amazon:

Thank you Loren for sharing your thoughts!

So what music inspires you to write? Share yours in the comments below and tune in here next time when one of my friends shares their music inspirations.

Music Inspiring Writing: Snakeappletree

Welcome to my blog series all about how ♫ Music Inspires Writing ♫

Today my guest is an old friend, Snakeappletree.




“It’s the one thing I have got; and even that is an illusion.”

snake2I am a musician myself so the creation of an experience, a landscape, a world, a soundscape, through multi-sensory is a huge part of what it is all about. I am inspired by a lot of different and diverse musical genres. Taking elements of one and weaving it into another is a natural progressive part of being an experimental musician; I apply the same ethos to literature.

As I saw the post requesting writers to come forward and describe what music inspires them, I happened to be reading this: David Bowie, Outside an album which came out very shortly before I was sent to Art School an event which split up my band and added to the trauma for which many writers and other creatives are famous. Those formative experiences are a large factor in developing the need to express feelings through whatever form.

The references in the wiki about Bowies albums Outside and Diamond Dogs, two albums which have greatly inspired my approach toward both writing and music. Unintentionally I suppose this is a tribute to his recent death from cancer. Bowies ability to pick up something immediately and re-work it is inspirational, an ability which Mozart was also famed. That level of genius is inevitably going to affect people.

Diamond Dogs is based on Orwells 1984 which so many people have said, was intended as a warning and not as a guide. We are facing a near-future where these feelings of impending totalitarianism being engineered around us make us feel insignificant in our ability to do anything about it, to prevent such eventuality. As creative people we remember how the last time Fascism swept through Europe, it was the creatives and intelligensia who were rounded up and shot because they posed a threat to the new rulers.

We can all see that things are going the same way. No amount of writing, no amount of music and singing about it, is going to help change things. That is a sad lesson from history; the only effectual method is as Che Guevara proved, a short bloody coup and instigation of something different, which in some ways is more human while in others is less humane.

These are real issues we need to be facing, instead of wasting our time living in ignorant bliss, making ‘goods to the value; with our highly trained skills and natural talents. The stress of facing reality has an impact on the arts, on our productivity. We are not yet machines. We face the so-called transhumanism evolution which is an enslavement system. We read releases by the military confessing that ufo and alien visitors to this world are actually a reality after all, but nobody cares because we have bills to pay and cannot afford them. We have islamic migration demanding Sharia law to replace Common Law of our Ancestors which itself is ignored by a fascist government. It is a dark time in many ways, and we can see that the hedonistic era during which musicians and writers were able to warn us of the near-future, is gone now.

What can we do, but focus on getting ourselves out of the mess. The strange thing is that this sentiment is felt all across the globe, by the 99% of people who are not the wealthy caste. Were all the notes to be played at the same moment, we would have discord. Were all the words to be written on top of one another, we would have discord. Were all our bodies cells to grow in the same place at the same time, we would have cancer. Were all the money to be placed into the same bank account, we would have starvation everywhere.

The imbalance is extreme now, and as such this awareness is directly feeding both literary works of art and musical masterpieces. For the real artists, those who can see what is happening and permit it to affect their works as inspiration, becoming a time-piece speaking for Our generation. For everyone else there are corporate house styles the same now as they ever were. Kids are discovering this stuff for the first time and experiencing the same elation as the elders did back in the day. I see my own maturing role in all of this and how little an impact one person can actually make on changing the world for the better. We all feel like that because this is a generation of manufactured, socially-engineered apathy.

The typical social response is to blame the victim and sweep it under the carpet. And that is not what we need. We need new socialist leaders to rise and get the message across. We need writers to have an impact on the readers, to energize us to prevent dictatorship. People who have voice and are recognized and not afraid to die for the cause of freedom, or face imprisonment for it; yes, here in the western, civilized world. As a teenager I thought this would be possible through music, through selling image, through writing which would outlive me.

So I listen to music which resonates with how I feel and I create music and words which are the same. I listen to Mazzy Star after a relationship break-up and Solfreggio tones because they are much more impressive than any ego-vibes, no matter how skilled. Healing sounds which clear the mind and allow me to rise up, say what I need to say and feel good about it. Energetically re-programming myself with sacred soundwaves because it serves me better than to buy into some other persons for-profit enterprise.

It does not change the world, but it changes my world. Is that selfish? Perhaps. I do not have the spare income to fund projects and other peoples hedonism, I barely have sufficient of that to fund my own. This is the result of a staged economic recession. Resonant frequencies help me to get through it and they do bring clarity to my writing, a more focused headspace from which I can construct better stories.

And that is what it is all about.


Snakeappletree is published in SL Goth magazine February edition.
Other sci-fi stories are published in Bright Metallic magazine.
blog site:

Cyberpunk community soundtrack 2015 features 2 of his tracks
Bright Metallic magazine:
SL Goth magazine: and

Thank you Snakeappletree for sharing your thoughts!

So what music inspires you to write? Share yours in the comments below and tune in here next time when one of my friends shares their music inspirations.

Music Inspiring Writing: Sumiko Saulson

Welcome to my blog series all about how ♫ Music Inspires Writing ♫

Today my guest is Sumiko Saulson, a writer and music lover. She has taken this opportunity to let one of her character speak for her in a very amusing and entertaining post. Enjoy!

Why my favorite band isn’t the same as my author’s

By Flynn Keahi

(With apologies to my writer, Sumiko Saulson)

My name is Flynn Keahi.  I am thirty-two years old today, but I was twenty-six years old when I was born two years ago in 2014. I’m not a time traveler, not exactly. I’m a fictional character. My biological mother’s name is Samantha Keahi, but my literary mother is Sumiko Saulson. I’m the central protagonist in her novel Happiness and Other Diseases, the first book in a dark fantasy trilogy called Somnalia.

While I am not Sumiko herself, I am influenced by her choices, thoughts, preferences and actions. For example, she’s looking over my shoulder while I write this article, editing my sentences, making sure I don’t issue any spoiler alerts.

Love and Rockets “Mirror People”

Sumiko’s favorite bands have varied over the years. Depending on which decade you asked her, she might have told you Joy Division, Public Image Limited, Love and Rockets, or… nothing, really. She tells me she was so upset when Love and Rockets broke up that she stopped having favorite bands. Her loss, if you ask me.

I asked her what her favorite Love and Rockets song was, and although she couldn’t give me a definitive answer, she did tell me that she though Mirror People would be appropriate for this article.

She says that in a way, I am her mirror. I’m a reflection of how she feels about her existence in her world as a person with bipolar disorder. She also says that I’m the person she sees when she looks in the mirror who isn’t exactly herself. She tells me I’m an aspect of her personality, but to be completely honest, I refuse to believe her. I think I’ve taken on a life of my own, and I refuse to be reabsorbed into the Sumiko borg mind complex.

Red Hot Chili Peppers “Otherside”

As for me, my favorite band is The Red Hot Chili Peppers.  I like other bands, don’t get me wrong. I’m into System of a Down and Slipknot, and I know what you’re thinking, RHCP is kind of old school. But I love me some Flea and that funky slap bass. Besides, my author kept playing “Blood Sugar Sex Magic” while she was driving up and down I-80 writing me. It reminds her of her hometown, Los Angeles. It also reminds her of her family. Her brother Scott loves the Chili Peppers, and he sings Chili Pepper songs with his daughter Franchesca at karaoke.

My preferences help her remember who I am as an individual character. They keep me distinct from other characters she has written in the past. They help her remember ways in which I am a separate entity even though I stem from the same source. They keep me real for her.

“Otherside” isn’t my favorite Red Hot Chili Peppers song… that’s “Snow (Hey Oh),” which Sumiko says is annoying as hell. She refuses to let me link it to this article. She’s such a snob. So I picked my second favorite song, “Otherside,” which is very portentous, if you’ve read Happiness and Other Diseases. I can’t tell you exactly why without spoilers, but it does have something to do with the dream world and the world outside of dreams where we materially exist. You’ll find out when you read my story.

The Cure “Charlotte Sometimes”

Today, I told Sumiko that my favorite song is “Charlotte Sometimes” by The Cure. That might seem odd to you, given that I just said RCHP is my favorite band. It doesn’t seem that strange to Sumiko because she knows my love interest in Happiness and Other Diseases is Charlotte Metaxas.  The song reminds Sumiko of us, and not just because Charlotte was named after the song. The lyrics of the song also remind her of our love story.

In Happiness and Other Diseases, I’m in a lot of trouble because I’m under attack by Greco-Roman dream spirits called oneiroi and somnalia, respectively. They are the sons and grandchildren of Somnus, the god of sleep. Not content to remain in their dream world, they try to enter the waking world in corporeal form through nefarious means, such as human and animal blood sacrifice. I’m one of the few human beings aware that they are real, but no one believes me because I’m bipolar.

The reason I love “Charlotte Sometimes” is that I know that Sumiko used to play it on the jukebox at Sparky’s 24 Hour Diner in San Francisco over and over again when she was sick after 9/11.  Like many songs Sumiko loves, “Charlotte Sometimes” was written about a novel by another writer.  The book, by Penelope Farmer, is about a girl named Charlotte who communicates with another girl named Clare from another time through a diary. After a while, she starts to have trouble remembering who she actually is.

The struggle to maintain one’s own identity while living in a dream world is one I can both literally and figuratively relate to. In my life, I’m under attack by real supernatural entities, but I also deal with a psychological disorder. Both of those things make it difficult for me to assert who I am and maintain my identity.  As a character, I have a single identity, but as the product of an author, I experience a certain duality. Sumiko is and is not my Charlotte. She isn’t me, but I’m not in the position to tell my own story without her. She’s my author and I can only communicate through her. It’s confusing for both of us, and Charlotte, sometimes.

Siouxsie and the Banshees  “Melt”

“Melt” is a song my author listened to over and over again when she was writing me. “Melting man” was actually a nickname that one of the other characters in the book gave me at one point.  I’m reluctant to get into it, since she wrote me as a somewhat shy and closeted sexually submissive man, but the song has some connection to my romantic relationship with Charlotte. It also has something to do with how I got into trouble with the Greco-Roman pantheon in the first place. Come to think of it, I’m too embarrassed to talk about it. Let’s change the subject to another Siouxsie and the Banshees song instead.

Generally speaking, Sumiko listened to more Siouxsie than anything else when she wrote me. One other song of particular significance was “Sick Child,” which discusses melancholia.  That’s what they used to call depressive disorders, especially bipolar disorder. My author was never able to determine a specific historical or literary reference for the subject matter. However, it is notable that the song’s lyrics are consistent with 17th Century views of the disorder, its causes and treatments. They are particularly evocative of Robert Burton’s “The Anatomy of Melancholy.” References to music, touch, and snuff use as treatments are specific examples of this. John Keats said “The Anatomy of Melancholy” was his favorite book.

I didn’t really like these songs when Sumiko first started playing them for me, but she keeps singing them to me and Charlotte. I have to admit, that’s pretty romantic. I bet you wish you had an author to sing love songs to you.

Slipknot “Duality”

By the time Sumiko got around to writing the sequels to Happiness and Other Diseases, she and I were both feeling a little more agro, for reasons. I’m not allowed to get into the “reasons” because spoilers or some such nonsense.  Let me just say, my girl Charlotte’s family is half Greco-Roman gods, and they’re nasty business. Once you get on their radar, all kinds of bad starts to happen in your life. I could blame it all on them, but Sumiko’s my author. I’ve been giving her a lot of attitude lately. Can you blame me?

She keeps telling me to tone it down. She says, “It could have been worse. How would you have liked being written by George RR Martin, or Stephen King?”

I’m like, “Woman, you’ve got to be kidding me. Not every author is a serial killer. I could have been written by Jane Austen, or Charlotte Bronte, or Anne Rice.”

But Sumiko insists that I’m developing pretentions, and none of those writers are the least bit interested in me. These writers have a lot of attitude. They’re very difficult to deal with.

“Duality” is a much more angry sounding song I relate to as a person with a mental illness. That’s just for starters, because I don’t want to even get started talking about the Flynn Keahi/Sumiko Saulson identity crisis. At first, Sumiko was happy that I was helping her to write a well-received series. I helped this woman to develop a following, but does she appreciate me? Oh no! She says that Sera, the protagonist of “Warmth” was popular before I was ever born. She says I’m too demanding, always pestering her for sequels. She says I’m giving her a headache.

For one thing, she told me that Somnalia was going to be a trilogy. I don’t think it should be a trilogy. I think she should just keep writing sequels. She gets pissed off at me, and insists I’m taking up valuable real estate in her brain. She argues with me a lot, and I’m not trying to say anything, but since she’s the only one people can see, everyone assumes she’s insane. They’re prescribing her antipsychotics to get rid of me. I’m a little ticked off about that.

Luckily, I have some good music to listen to while Sumiko tries to get rid of me.

I’m hoping that you can do me a solid, and write her an email or leave a blog comment protesting her nefarious attempts to write about other characters. She’s really pissing me off.


Flynn_004Flynn Keahi biography: Born in Honolulu, Hawaii and raised in San Mateo, California, Flynn a fictional character who is half Chinese and half Hawaiian. He attended UC Davis before symptoms of bipolar disorder forced him to drop out. He went on to work in a series of computer graphics temp jobs before being attacked by hostile Greco-Roman dream spirits that wanted to drain all of his psychic energy and leave him a lifeless hulk.


sumiko armbandSumiko Saulson is the author of three sci-fi/horror novels, Solitude, Warmth, and The Moon Cried Blood, and short story anthology Things That Go Bump in My Head. Born to African-American and Russian-Jewish parents, she is a native Californian, and has spent most of her adult life in the Bay Area.

Thank you Flynn (and Sumiko!) for sharing your thoughts!

So what music inspires you to write? Share yours in the comments below and tune in here next time when one of my friends shares their music inspirations.