Second Post! Playlists!

I know. Two posts in one day!

No, the sky isn’t falling. Hell hasn’t frozen over. The Seventh Seal hasn’t been broken. (Really Demi Moore is alive and well.)*

Basically, blame Melissa Olson. She is working on the follow up to her debut novel Dead Spots and was looking for songs that readers felt personified Scarlett, her protagonist. This had me considering music, and my playlists. Well, that and the fact that I had no idea that Macklemore and Lewis were playing in Milwaukee last night. How did I not know this?

But I digress. *deep breaths*

The problem here is that I read 1-2 novels a week. I read Dead Spots a while ago. Which means Scarlett is blending into a haze of protagonists from a lot of different other novels. This is part of the reason I don’t wait before starting the review as a general rule. Especially for Wicked Lil Pixie, as those are full reviews.

At the same time, I have been working with a number of go to bands that have been sitting on my playlists quite a bit lately. I’ll drop a few of them into the post here. Leaning towards ones with videos I can post, because who doesn’t like music videos?

Bad Ass Female Protagonists (or Villains)

For this I have been going towards Halestorm and In This Moment. The songs are rough, raw and have that growling female vocals that just scream (literally in some instances) power to me. So, I’m just throwing this out there for Melissa as this is what I remember without confirming by re-reading a chapter or two. These songs say “powerful female protagonist” to me.

Halestorm – Love Bites

In This Moment – Adrenalize Me

Halestorm – I Miss the Misery

In This Moment – Blood

Other Protagonists (mostly my male ones)

For the most part, I have songs that feed into a theme I am going for. In most of my stories the heroes have at least a bit of the feeling of being a freak. Not normal. To this direction, a lot of the songs lean towards being not normal or supporting the dual nature of a person. Which, when you think about it, is a lot of academic thought put behind the motivation and inspiration of a cool song.

Halestorm – Freak Like Me

Wayland – Welcome to My Head

In This Moment – Welcome to the Gun Show

Volbeat – Sad Man’s Tongue

Wayland – Reno (best video I could find – unreleased song – next album)

Volbeat – Still Counting

Honkeytonk Monster Hunter (inspiration)

In this instance I not only do a severe jump in genres, but this is a one-for-one. The artist singing these was the direct inspiration for the protagonist. Not much else to say here, other than… “That boy can sang!” 😉

Ben Dukes – Down in Flames

Ben Dukes – Old Fixer Upper


For the purposes of Melissa Olson, the top section on bad ass female protagonists works best. But it is far from the only playlists I work with. In an effort of full disclosure, most of my Halestorm and In This Moment songs are for my female villain/serial killer. But I stand by their uses. After all, the villain is the hero of their own story.

Duke’s Playlist

I know, I’ve been talking about it for a while. At this point, I’ve been knocked far enough in the dirt that taking a break to complete the playlist and post it wasn’t going to hurt me much. I’m still working on a way to link it so that you can go to iTunes and purchase it. Not as point-and-click as I thought it would be. Although you can go to iTunes and pick up Down in Flames by Ben Dukes. Of the seven songs on the playlist, three of them come from that album and they helped me to shape the story while waiting for playlist suggestions. Well that and the Johnny Cash song, since I knew that one would be there.

I’ll list them all individually, but once I have the direct link to the playlist, I’ll link it through the playlist title below. At least two of the artists have passed, but I’m sure Ben would appreciate anyone taking to his music.

Under the Hood – Duke’s Playlist

  • When The Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash
  • The Lord Knew Me First – Ben Dukes
  • You’ve Got To Stand For Something – Aaron Tippin
  • I Can’t Pray – Ben Dukes
  • A Southern Boy Can Survive – Hank Williams Jr.
  • Down in Flames – Ben Dukes
  • This Cowboy’s Hat – Chris Ledoux

Note: I may have screwed up the order as I was doing this from memory. If so, I’ll correct it.

I’ll leave you with a little teaser for the detective’s playlist. Enjoy…

Back in the Land of WiFi

I’m not even being trite. The further up you get in Door County the less connected you are. I spent a whole week with nary a G to speak of. Verizon is a great service, but even they have their limits. Our friend’s kid took out his flip phone at one point and proudly claimed, “I have 3Gs.” I just looked at him and said, “Prove it. Do something with them.” 😉

Honestly I could have traveled about 5-10 minutes south of Fish Harbor to a coffee shop that offered WiFi for my iPad (still no 3G-4G there), but the point was to get away. Also the closer one in Ephraim reminded me of The Victory more. It was also a cash only place. A little less Brooklyn, but still eccentric. Leroy’s Coffee Cafe, and I’m guessing Leroy is an ex-surfer or ex-skateboarder. Between that place and The Good Egg, Ephraim is an excellent vacation spot. Really, most of Door County is.

My writing highlight of Door County (aside from some kick ass scenes that make the book harder to finish but the story better) came from day three of showing up at the coffee shop at 7am to write until 9-10 in the morning. A long line had formed so I set up my stuff and started getting ready to write. When the line was gone I walked up and ordered my coffee. The barista was fixing it and asked if I was writing a book. My gut reaction was to say, “No, I just really like coffee.” Then I remembered she was fixing my drink.

Another highlight that came back to bite me in the ass was when I was told that television signals were able to be picked up in the park. This was awesome for me as Ben Dukes was making his debut on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. If you remember back earlier this month, I blogged about how his bit on the show as a worker was my inspiration for my protagonist in my Camp NaNoWriMo story. So we cranked up the antenna and did a channel scan. Sure enough we had a CBS channel. Unfortunately it was fuzzy at best and storms Wednesday night knocked it out entirely. On the upside, I had the DVR set, so I caught the show on Sunday when we got home. Also, the clip is already up on his YouTube channel.

For the record, Down in Flames is one of my favorite songs from his album. Also, the playlist for Dukes will be coming out shortly. The one for my other protagonist is only about half done.

Now on our way to Chippewa Falls (Lake Wissota specifically) we passed through Cadot. My wife texted this to my sister (who had already been camping there with her husband and our cousins for a day) and she requested we bring her some Country AND Western. (Country Fest was going on in Cadot this past weekend.) I told her to text her back with “done” but I don’t think she did.

You guessed it. As we were driving to the boat launch so my wife could scope out photo opportunities, I advanced through the iPod to play the Johnny Cash song that made the playlist (When the Man Comes Around) and Down in Flames. Also, as we were leaving the Leinenkugel Brewery on the way back to the campsite, the first song on the shuffle was When Do We Start Drinking, also by Ben Dukes. My sister may never make a smart ass request of me again. Oh who am I kidding? I know damn well she will.

So this morning I sat back in my usual spot. The Victory. I busted out as many words as I could in the hour and a half I had. About a thousand. Well under my normal amount. But it was my first day back. Also there were multiple people pacing up and down across the tables. Multiple. All of them. Stalking like a caged friggin’ tigers. As I was writing about the Big Bad™ in the story… you guessed it… stalking up and down like a tiger. Seriously, it was freaking me out. But I digress.

I was back in the Land of Connectivity. The Nirvana of WiFi. And what did I do? I sequestered myself into a WiFi Wasteland to write. On the upside, I am coming up on 40k total. So that means, charity story update time.


  • I’m nearing 40k.
  • The story will likely top out at 53-56k with the scenes left to write.
  • Editing, revising and writing between the scenes might get me 60-65k. For my genre that is a bit light, but it is still novel length.
  • I have a couple more people to write into the story.
  • The ending is solid in my mind. (Although I haven’t written it yet.)
  • Dukes is fleshing out well. He’s becoming the young Obi-Wan to my detective’s Qui-Gon.
  • I met my revised goal of $300 raised, but I’d like to give the top spot a run for their money. (I’m currently second.)
  • To offer incentives, until the end of this week I will continue to give the care package to any donors. The person donating the most I’ll send the playlist for Dukes to them. Or just Ben Duke’s album, since half of it is in the playlist.
  • As always, anyone who donates $5 or more will get a copy of the ebook.

So, get to work people. Tell your friends, tell your neighbors. Tell anyone and everyone. If enough of your friends, family and neighbors sign up, I’ll send you a care package too!

To donate, click on the Camp NaNoWriMo tab above, the Sponsored Camper stamp to the right, or simply go to

Meet the Duke

So I said that I would be posting something about the new story and it’s main character. Admittedly I’m still getting the feel for him and his voice, but I want to introduce you all to Duke Benjamin – the new protagonist to join my Wisconsin state police detective. To properly introduce you though, I need to take you back to when I was inspired to create him.

I’m sure you’ve all read my “about” page in which I talk about getting into watching The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Well, around the end of February there was an incident where an audience member was ejected from the show. He yelled out, “I love you Kelly Bundy!” For this an Audience Coordinator escorted him out. The next night Craig Ferguson had the AC in question on the opening of the show. I’ve embedded the video below from the gentleman’s YouTube account.

So I had this picture of Ben Dukes roaming the countryside and ejecting people from their own homes. This morphed into a guy who was a country western version of the mariachi from Desperado. A weapon toting badass with a guitar case full of sharp pointy things. Country singer for pay, bounty hunter and monster hunter by trade. So thus, the second protagonist for this story was born.

Of course some of this came by linking up to his Twitter account and seeing the video on YouTube. Basically the singer with the guitar case weapons cache was born from seeing his videos where he plays his music. He’s an Audience Coordinator (I just love the sound of that) and also a singer/songwriter. Check out his YouTube page and you can see some videos of his music.

Now normally that would be the end of it. I was inspired to make a character, I made it, I used it. But this time around I was pledging out parts of my story. I decided to self publish the book and allow people to have characters named after them. For more money I allowed them to bribe me so that I let their character live. In one case I offered a bribe not to have a character named after a friend killed by spiders. So far none have taken me up on the “not dead” bribe. But this gave me an idea.

I contacted Ben Dukes with the information on the story. I told him about how in plotting the story I wanted to introduce this character he inspired and asked if (in the nature similar to the others) he would like the character named after him as well. His response was that it would be great to be adapted into a weapon toting badass. Additionally he is helping to give me ideas on music that would relate to the character for my scene writing. Specifically he gave me the name of a Johnny Cash song used in a zombie movie – When the Man Comes Around. Don’t ask me why I hadn’t thought of this in the first place, but I didn’t.

This morning was the shift at the coffee shop for the barista I have code named Rockabilly Barista. And I’m not lying here. She has spurs on her boots. Spurs! She also has a penchant for playing Johnny Cash on their sound system. And yes, Johnny Cash was playing this morning. And yes, When the Man Comes Around was totally playing when I walked in. That adds serendipity to my story right at Day 1. I mean I knew I had a better than even chance of JC being on the system, but what are the odds that one song would be playing when I came in?

So I sat down with my triple Americano, a cinnamon roll (forgot my damn lunch and breakfast at home), my iPad, a new journal for notes in this project, my writing totem (Monkey!) and my first merit badge. The merit badge was a no-brainer. It’s awarded for writing a friend or family member directly into your story. Hell, I knew I was doing that before I even started! Just over 1200 words later I’m not at my goal (1667 minimum for the day), but I’m getting the voice on Duke down. Getting a feel for the personality as it were. Now I just need to know that girtty nasty stuff that led him to become a self-trained monster hunter.

I’ll have more offerings throughout the month revolving around the book. I’m also going to release the playlists on iTunes for the story once I solidify them. Keep checking back for all sorts of DVD extras. Until then, anywhere I mention Ben Dukes here will link to his website and you can check out his music.

Update: Since working this blog I may be leaning towards Dukes as a nickname for the character. If I do, I may not name him in this book. Or, I will give him a name that is only used once or twice. Playlist is nearly done, I just need to figure out how to make it so I can link it in a blog for people to sample and purchase.