Simply Following Rivers

Likke Li 2I’m still replaying and enjoying the YouTube live performances I linked to in the new Smashwords edition of my new novel d4. I sought and found a clip of each my main character Ariel’s nine favorite songs that I believed captured some of the personality of the artist as well as their wonderful music.  Eight of the nine videos were from concert performances from around the globe.

For for Lykke Li’s  “I follow Rivers”, however, I discovered a wonderful German site called ZeitOnline. Among many other things, they offer these simple performances by the artist in an ordinary setting. I’ve fallen in love with their style. It is extra fun that my main character’s full name is Ariel Zeitman. Weird or what? Check out this totally unpretentious version of “I Follow Rivers” performed with only a lone guitar, a hand held percussion instrument, and a fellow singer who claps along to keep time.  Can  you imagine running into this group performing on the sidewalk? An excerpt from the book d4 is below to show how the song appears in the story.

From d4:

“I wish I understood precollections better,” Ariel said. “When I’m touching you I see lives from the far future, and when I’m near you and touch things that you touch, I get some precollections about you. There’s never been anything about Mikkel, though. The truth is that I know very little about the man and even less about what motivates him. Do you want me to try to find out more?”

“No!” It came out a little harsher than Siarnaq had intended. “I want you to stay as far away from him as possible. Please. Promise me.”

“Hey, you do understand that I have to deal with him for work right?” Ariel’s tone was heavier than she meant it to be, filled with shades of “don’t tell me what to do.” She reminded herself that Siarnaq was only being concerned. “I’ll stay out of the mess between the two of you, though, no problem.”

“Thanks,” Siarnaq said no more.

“Let’s stay in touch about this,” Ariel finally added, working to soften her voice. “Call, text, email, I know that you do all of those. I’ll keep my ears open and if I learn anything about Mikkel that could be useful to you, I promise I’ll let you know.”

Ariel felt sadder than she expected she would when she hugged Siarnaq goodbye, and once she was on the plane she found herself gazing at Greenland’s white coastline as it receded in the distance. Lykke Li’s “I Follow Rivers” came on as she hit the “On” button on her mp3 player, and Ariel wondered idly if she could possibly enjoy life as an Inuit. Was she capable of following Siarnaq? Was she capable of following anyone? As the song ended, Greenland was nothing more than a tiny white dot on her horizon and she had no answers.

With the second song of each book, I pick up on the intensity of the theme a little more. Click on to read about x0’s “We are the World“, y1’s “Party Like it’s 1999“, z2’s “Only the Strong Survive“, and c3’s “Heads Carolina”.

You can get d4 on smashwords here for only ninety-nine cents.

Seeking the Heart of the Song

I’m getting d4 ready for publication at Smashwords.com. This always takes longer than I think it will. The formatting requirements are more rigorous than those at Amazon.com and with my first three books I gave up and had a very nice people at Stunning Books handle the formatting for me. It was money well spent, to be honest, but I’m a stubborn sort and I was determined to learn to do it myself eventually.

Ellie GouldingThe other issue with Smashwords is checking the links, and removing any that Smashwords affiliates will not allow. Usually forbidden links involve direct connections to other booksellers such as Amazon. This is a problem for me because the electronic versions of all of my novels contain references to nine songs, intended to be a sort of soundtrack featuring some of the favorite music of the main character in the novel.  When I publish the books on Kindle, I insert a link to the Amazon.com location where my readers can listen to the music. At Smashwords, this link has to go.

I’ve experimented with other solutions. I want my readers to appreciate and possibly buy music from these artists and I am mentioning the songs in my book because I really like them. For my first novels, I had the Smashwords link take the reader to a webpage or at least a good fan page for that musician. When I ran into problems finding suitable links for some, I tried connecting to a performance of the song on You Tube.

With d4 I’ve taken this a step further. For each of the songs, I’ve tried to find a live performance that I think shows a little of a the personality of the singer and the band. I’ve had a lot of fun seeking these out. Often the quality isn’t as good as the more glossy clips, but I’ve picked each video for a reason. I just love Ellie Goulding’s very human introduction to her song “Lights” at Coachella 2014. Hopefully you will too. An excerpt from the book follows.

The work portion of the trip would all be at the end, so Ariel tried to enjoy the beginning of her little vacation. She packed a few good books and her warmest clothes, and delighted in a window seat as she watched the late afternoon sun set on her way into Iceland. She found a favorite song on her mp3 player and listened to the pretty shimmer of Ellie Goulding’s voice singing “Lights” as the giant Vatnajökull glacier gleamed beneath her when the plane dipped below the clouds. Ariel thought that perhaps she had never seen anything so beautiful as the various shades of blues that glistened off of the ice in the light of a sun moving low in the winter sky while the song played softly in her mind.

She joined her group at the Reykjavik airport for the evening flight on to Nuuk. The small band of mostly Icelandic travelers was quiet, but friendly, and she felt thankful to live in both a time and place where a woman could easily travel alone. Nuuk was just a quick stopover, and the next morning they boarded the pint-sized plane for Ilulissat, the main tourist destination in Greenland.

Ariel stepped off the plane to her first view of the barren rocks mottled with bright colored lichens that make up the tundra. She had never set foot inside of the Arctic Circle before. Tiny flickers and flashes erupted as her boot touched the ground.

My premonitions are stronger here, she noticed with surprise. The cold dry air? The earth’s magnetic field? There had to be a reason. She added it to her list of things to try to figure out later.

The fact is that I started each of my novels off with a special song. Click to read about x0’s “Time After Time“, y1’s “A Whole New World“, z2’s “Fame“, and c3’s “A Texas Kind of Way“.