Monday, March 23, 2015

Welcome Lynn Townsend today

Top Ten Songs that Have Special Meaning for Blues

Hi there, ::drags podium over:: can everyone hear me? Can everyone see me?

(No, you're too short.)

::climbs up on stool:: Sorry... better?

My name is Lynn Townsend and I'm—among other things—a m/m romance writer.

(What other things are you?)

Smart ass in the back there, thank you... Often, when I start working on a project, I put together a playlist for that project. These are songs that mean something to me, or to the characters in my novel. By playing these songs over and over again while I work, I create a sort of sub-environment where the real world slips away and I can be transported into the world where my characters live and breathe.

Confession: part of this is also because I'm a serious music fan and I have a condition called tinnitus that causes me to hear noise in my head whenever there's not some background filler. Occasional the noise in my head is even louder than the world around me and I can't hear things like air conditioning running, or conversation. I've never in my life sat in silence. My head is always buzzing. I listen to music almost all the time so that I don't go batty...

Further note: you can develop tinnitus by being over-exposed to loud sounds, but as I've had the condition all my life, I don't think that's what happened, unless my mom put me in a kettle drum when I was an infant.

So, on to my top ten songs for Blues.

10 – I Guess That's Why They Call it The Blues, by Elton John

Blues is the second in a trilogy of novels about two young men, Beau and Vin, who are in college, and the troubles they go through while discovering the men they are becoming...

As the second novel, Blues is a lot darker than Roll, the first novel. Beau and Vin's happily ever after comes crashing down around them as they try to deal with the volatile emotions of first love, rejection, jealousy, and depression.

9 – Okay, I'm going to cheat a bit here; I put a bunch of songs in the playlist that are all related to each other and I'm just going to list them all here; Hate Me by Blue October, Vodka by Korpiklaani, The Bottle by Pat Green, That Smell by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Oliver Reed by Mikey Mason, and Blame it on the Bottle by Pasedena.

Vin is an alcoholic. I wish I could say that addiction is a problem I know nothing about, but that would be a lie. And I've often been angered by addiction in fiction novels. A lot of times, it seems that a character has an addition right up until the time that it's inconvenient to the plot and then it goes away, or he magically gets better.

I wanted, in this book, and to some degree in the next novel, Classic—which will be released September 2—to deal with the reality of alcoholism. It doesn't... go away. Even when a drunk manages to stop drinking, the fear of relapse, both on the part of people who love him, and his own fear, is a constant. A drunk might get used to it, but even years later, that worry is there, just a bit, just on the border.

Blues is the novel where Vin's drinking problems really start being a problem that ends when he finally admits the problem and starts getting help.

8 – I See You, by Luke Bryan

Beau is from a farm in west Tennessee, so there are quite a few country songs on my playlist, to get the feel of the area where he's from, the sort of music he grew up with. He's also a dancer. Country line dancing, a little ballet, jazz, etc. He took lessons with his cousin Kate, who eventually became an actress—side note, she's in a television show called Victor in the novel, and my weird brain refuses to shut up about it, and I have three partially completed scripts for the show. So, not only does this song have the feel of a country, redneck area, but the lyrics also get into the core of some of the novel, where Vin feels like he can't go anywhere without seeing Beau, who he's hurt very badly.

I can't go anywhere, I can't do anything
No I can't close my eyes without you in my dreams
You won't leave me alone
Even though I know you're gone
I look around for someone new, but I see you

7 – Breathe (2 AM) by Anna Nalick

One of the reasons that I wanted to work in New Adult as a genre is that everything seemed so much more to me, in college. Love was more passionate, hatred was more vivid, joy was the best thing ever, grief was the kind that broke your heart... I didn't love college while I was there. Married at 19, divorced by 21, almost failing out of school, parental problems, roommate problems, money issues. But everything had a color and clarity that I've never experienced again.

Being an adult has a giant suck attached to it, and that's the lesson that “this, too, shall pass.” You know that after a while, you learn that very little is actually the end of the world, and your emotional spectrum kinda dials it back a bit, just so you can continue to survive.

Sometimes, though, sometimes I miss those days of power and passion...

6 – Already Gone by Kelly Clarkson

You know that I love you so
I love you enough to let you go

5 – Obsession by Animotion

In the midst of Beau and Vin's worst times comes Chaz, the transfer student, who is extremely interested in Beau. Extremely to the point of being a bit stalkery and rather aggressive. My beta readers yelled at me a bit about him, and I understand their concerns, but as above, things feel differently when you're right in the middle of them than they do from the outside, or from the lens of looking backward. It's hard to recognize potentially manipulative or abuse behavior when you're hurting and someone's offering relief.

People in college—and some of them even later—make bad decisions based on what seems like a good idea right now. What feels good right now.

4 – I Like It by Enrique Iglesias (featuring Pitbull)

A couple years ago, one of my best friends wrote a cute little short story off a writer-prompt that had Pitbull—the singer, not the animal—as one of the prompt words. Now, admittedly, I have a huge music collection, some 27,000 tracks the last time I checked... but at the time, I'd never heard of Pitbull. So, I went to look him up, because that's what I do.

Anywhere, there's a scene in the novel where Beau and Chaz are dancing together, sort of a competition dance-off thing, and this is the song that I was imagining when I wrote that scene.

3 – Alien like You by The Pigott Brothers

One of the common themes of the whole series, the Rainbow Connection novels, is alienation. Being abandoned by your family, by old friends, by your life, by people you thought you knew, you thought loved you. And finding home and sanctuary and common ground with other people in your tribe.

2 – I Don't Want to Go On With You Like That by Elton John

I have these friends, a married couple, N and M, who are the sweetest guys ever, and who actually lived in my house for a while when they were between permanent homes. They're really like the best guys... love em.

N's read quite a lot of my material, and he's funny to talk to because he's on the different side of the spectrum than what he considers the “hetero-normative narrative.” He uses big words. When he read Roll for the first time, there's a scene in there where Vin decides not to seduce Beau right away, N laughed at me. “Oh, that never, ever happens... if we want sex, we just go for it. None of this friends first nonsense.”

N and M have an open relationship, and I'm all supportive of whatever makes them happy. Admittedly, m/m is often written by women for women, so there is a different narrative that has to come into play; some of it's a romance vs. lit fic thing...

But I did want to cover that sort of thinking in my novels, to point out that some people are different from the hetero-normative ideas of jealousy, exclusivity, and faithfulness. Let's be serious, even with m/f couples in real life, we don't always act the way we think we're supposed to. Certainly very little like romance heroes and heroines. But that's what fantasy is for... Chaz is my nod in that direction, along with Hector.

Now the thing with Chaz is that I admire him. His last scene in Blues continues to move me to tears because he sees something completely different from what Beau sees, and I think that's desperately important.

1 – Vindicated by Dashboard Confessional

I am Vindicated
I am selfish
I am wrong
I am right
I swear I'm right
I swear I knew it all along
And I am flawed
But I am cleaning up so well
I am seeing in me now the things you swore you saw yourself

The end of the novel, after what's been described as an early review as

I would love to say this book was a joy to read but it wasn't. I don't mean this in a bad way. It was just such an anxiety ridden book, so full of angst.

This song kinda sums up the final chapters of the book and sends us into Classic...

 Blues by Lynn Townsend
A Rainbow Connection Novel, Book 2
genre: Contemporary New Adult Romance
Published by Torquere Press

Sometimes finding yourself means losing everything else...

Rising sophomore Beau Watkins gave up everything to be with his boyfriend, Vin. Beau is disowned by his father, tormented by his brother, is rapidly running out of money, and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. On top of that, his boyfriend seems to see Beau as little more than a live-in maid. Troubled by word of his missing father and fighting nightmares of his own, Vin Reyes turns to alcohol to drown his pain. What's worse, a handsome transfer student is a little too interested in Beau. Vin throws away everything that's made him happy with both hands, terrified of his own feelings of inadequacy.

When Vin and Beau's happily-ever-after turns into a train wreck of drinking problems, resentment, insecurity, jealousy, and violence, they both try to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives. Their mutual friends, Hector and Ann-Marie, try to help the two young men as best they can, but neither want to listen. Beau accepts a morally questionable job offer to pad his finances and Vin starts a downward spiral of self-destructive behavior that sends him right for rock bottom. Can Vin and Beau win through doubt and guilt, jealousy and recklessness, to find their place in the world? 


"Yeah, um," Beau said. "What, exactly, is this um? 'Cause don't get me wrong or nothing, I want you more than anything in the world, but -- and I ain't like to be sayin' no, regardless -- but Vin, I gotta know. What is this? If it's just a thing, man, I need to know that."

The door held him up, remarkably. The naked longing, fear and desire mingled on Beau's face, about drove Vin to his knees. "It's never been just a thing with you. Not ever."

"So what is it?"

"You know," Vin said, "in AA, they tell us that alcoholism is a disease of relationships. How we deal with ours; with our love-life, with our parents, with our friends, and with alcohol. That alcoholics kill relationships. That's what we do. We don't usually kill ourselves; more's the pity. We walk away from drunk driving accidents. We walk away from the people who love us, drive them away until we're left, alone, wondering what the hell we did.

"My mentor, and the people in my meetings, they'd tell me, right now, to walk away from this. That I can't possibly have anything with you, not now. Not while I'm trying to fix myself. That it would be better for you if I just stayed away from you. That you don't deserve everything that I'm going to put you through in the next few years. That I'm not ready to give my heart to anything but the bottle, and that all you'd be is a rebound relationship from the booze.

"For your sake, Beau, I wish I was a stronger person. I wish I could either let you go, or be the man you deserve --"

Whatever the rest of what Vin was going to say was lost. Beau kissed him, not so rough this time, gentle, sweet, but still needy. Slow and kind and every time Vin tried to talk, to explain, to say anything at all, Beau kissed the words away until Vin could do nothing else but shake and kiss him back. "Stop saying that. You're everything. Everything to me."

Buy Links Amazon Kindle and Paperback

About the author

Lynn Townsend is a geek, a dreamer and an inveterate punster. When not reading, writing, or editing, she can usually be found drinking coffee or killing video game villains. Lynn's interests include filk music, romance novels, octopuses, and movies with more FX than plot.


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