Tracy Banghart

Tracy Banghart's books on Goodreads

Rebel Wing Rebel Wing (Rebel Wing #1)
reviews: 118
ratings: 199 (avg rating 4.18)

By Blood By Blood (By Blood, #1)
reviews: 50
ratings: 88 (avg rating 3.97)

Moon Child Moon Child (Prequel to By Blood)
reviews: 27
ratings: 49 (avg rating 3.86)

Storm Fall Storm Fall (Rebel Wing, #2)
reviews: 27
ratings: 41 (avg rating 4.22)

What the Sea Wants What the Sea Wants
reviews: 5
ratings: 20 (avg rating 3.10)

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    Entries in writing (28)

    Tuesday
    Jan112011

    Writing Music

    I know a lot of writers who post their writing soundtracks for certain novels – I think it’s so interesting to see what people are listening to, what kind of music gets them in the writing mood.

    For me, I have a process that seems to work really well in creating the perfect “soundtrack” for each novel.

    For every manuscript I’ve worked on, I’ve first created a massive playlist that I listen to during initial drafting. I choose albums with the right vibe, message, or esthetic for the time period and characters I know I’ll be writing about. My first novel, about small town plagued by a serial killer who may or may not be a vampire, had a playlist full of low-key, soulful (some of it eery) music, like Neko Case, Duffy, and Vampire Weekend. The second novel, about a girl who spends the summer in Oxford, had some Brit pop mixed in – Robbie Williams, the Beatles. The manuscript I’m working on now is a fantasy/scifi, and as such has a lot more instrumental stuff.

    As I write, when specific songs start standing out each time they play, I add them to a smaller WIP “soundtrack”. And that’s what I listen to during revisions.

    And not just during revisions. I listen to it in the shower, in the car, when I’m sending emails. For the length of time it takes me to revise, I listen to the same 2+ hours of music over and over again. The benefit? I associate the music so closely with the WIP that the songs immediately take me into the world of the story. So when I’m driving or in the shower, I’m thinking about my characters, their motivations, places where I need to polish, clarify, rework. 

    The current WIP’s soundtrack is particularly fun, I’ve found…it’s a mixture of cool instrumental music that I imagine playing as the soundtrack of the “movie”…and songs with words that evoke certain emotions (longing being the primary one – says something about the nature of the story, I guess) and help me sink into my characters’ heads and hearts.

    Here are a few of my favorite songs on the “To Find You” soundtrack:

    Steaming – Sarah McLachlan
    Prophecy – Harem
    Run for It – Delerium + Leigh Nash
    I’m on Fire – Bruce Springsteen
    Fake Empire – The National
    Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
    Hands All Over – Maroon 5
    Passione – Nicos
    I’ll Be Your Lover, Too – Van Morrison
    Love the Way You Lie – Eminem feat. Rihanna
    In the Shadow of Life – Niyaz
    Halo – Beyonce
    Climb On (A Back That’s Strong) – Shawn Colvin
    Call and Answer – Barenaked Ladies
    I Run – Rosie Thomas

    How do YOU pick the music for your novel soundtracks? Do you have a system that you stick with every time? Or do you find music distracting to the creative process?

    Thursday
    Jan062011

    Going Home

    Today was a rough day for me in “writing world”. I won’t go into the details; suffice to say it wasn’t one of those days when I fly high on the act of creation, convinced I’m following my destiny into the blaze of a magnificent sunset. Um, nope. Not one of those days.

    But, you know…somehow the thing that got me through was writing anyway.

    Ever since I was about five, writing’s been the thing I do. Tonight I spent a couple hours going through old journals, stacks of typed poems, books of hand-written stories. Personal essays from writing camp, old, crumpled pages of stories about the flying squirrel that lived in my bedroom wall when I was little, and poem after poem about storms. I really had a thing for storms when I was ten.

    As I was looking through all this old stuff, ruminating on today’s setback, I found myself thinking about a cheesy movie that came out when I was in college, called Center Stage. It was about a group of ballerinas at dance school. There is one scene that always plays in my head when I’m having a bad writing day, when the publishing industry is killing my soul, when the green-eyed monster rears its ugly head. I couldn’t find a clip, but basically the gist is…Juliet, one of the instructors, takes a moment to speak with Eva, a rebellious student who is always pissed at the director of the school. Juliet tells Eva that she’s right – that the director/choreographer is egotistical, callous, arrogant. But that it doesn’t matter. Because most directors are. She says that the unwise dancers blame the director, or their fellow dancers, or something else. But the smart ones return to what matters. She pats the dance bar…”here” she says. “They come home.”

    I think her advice works just as easily for writers. When I’m feeling down, when I want to blame someone else (or myself) for my expectations not being met, for my failure, or even my lack of confidence in myself, I try to take a deep breath and write it out instead. Because the truth is, it isn't anyone else's (or my) fault. The world doesn't owe me anything. 

    And because, in the end, it isn’t about a book deal. Or having fans. Or even seeing my name in print. It’s about having something to say. It’s about the joy of putting words together, of watching characters come alive in my mind, on the page.

    It’s about coming home.

    This is a bit random but tonight, in my rummaging, I found a poem that I wrote the summer between high school and college. It’s pretty bad (apologies!), I have no recollection of writing it, and I can’t remember what was going through my mind at the time. Still, all these years later, something about it struck me.

    Perfection

    I have never met a person
    With straight fingers
    Or straight legs
    Knees and knuckles always
    Get in the way.
    Sometimes you can pretend
    With gloves or jeans
    But the deformity is always there.
    Of course, people, I suppose
    Aren’t supposed to have
    Straight fingers or legs
    But isn’t it always the impossible
    We try to mold ourselves
    Into?

    There’s something a little sad to me about this poem. I find it interesting, knowing how insecure about my body I was back then, that I chose “straight fingers and legs” to talk about…I’m certain I never wished for straight fingers or legs. Cuter figure maybe, thinner thighs, but straight? But doesn’t that sort of go to the heart of the issue, just the same? The search for perfection, the fact that that search for the impossible doesn't really make sense?

    We are, none of us, perfect. Not perfectly shaped, nor perfect writers.

    And I think that’s okay. I think it’s okay that our knobby knuckles and knees get in the way. As long as we keep trying to get better, as long as we keep “going home”…back to the craft, back to the act of putting words on paper…”perfection” doesn’t matter. The knuckles and knees, the bruises and bumps from not quite making it up the publishing mountain – yet – are what make us beautiful.

    Are there any words of wisdom or mantras you keep in mind for your rough days? Anyone besides me ever think about that part in Center Stage? Anyone besides me ever SEE Center Stage? ;-)

    Monday
    Jan032011

    Happy New Year, Part II

    Just recently my best friend – we shall call her BETA ONE (this because she was the very person to ever edit any of my work – lucky her. Our shared past is littered with overly dramatic poetry, flowery romantic intrigues, and a singularly TERRIBLE “novella” entitled The Informer) – and I were discussing our philosophies about New Year’s Day. BETA ONE pointed out that she always finds the first few days of the new year depressing – it makes her think of time passing – but that she loves the week between Christmas and New Year…it’s, in some sense, a week out of time. Everything slows down; there’s no work to be done, no obligations to fulfill beyond those dictated by family (and those are usually fun!).

    I feel very differently. For me the week between Christmas and New Years is the week I feel most aware of time passing. This year it's a decade, really, that is drawing to a close. The last week of December seems to take forever, giving me plenty of time to ruminate on how quickly the rest of the year – the rest of my life - seems to be passing by. And then I get to January first, and the world is full of promise again. It’s a new year! A fresh start! What wonderful, incredible things could happen in the next 365 days? I’ve always been an “anticipator” – planning ahead, longing for the future. Of course, as I get older, increasingly I find myself wishing I could slow down, stop and appreciate each moment a little more.

    My budding writing career is a good way to practice this “slowing down” technique. Everyone says the publishing industry moves at a glacial pace and, from my experience, I have to say “everyone” is right. I’ve found that the only thing that keeps me sane when waiting to hear back from editors about a submission, or my agent, Wendy, on something I’ve sent her to read (though she’s amazingly fast, which I SO appreciate), or beta readers on a new manuscript, is appreciating each small step in the process. It’s true that if you don’t like the writing part of creating a book, you are probably in the wrong field. The act of getting published will not make up for the hours and hours you spend actually doing the work of writing if you don’t enjoy it.

    I am NOT a patient person. Ask BETA ONE. Or my husband, who shall be known henceforth as MAJOR HOTSAUCE. And yet, between my fairly new role as an Army wife, and my experiences so far with the publishing industry, I’m learning. Slowly, painfully, with much kicking, screaming, and general gnashing of teeth, I’m learning.

    My resolutions for 2011?

    To continue my education in being patient. On MY terms. I will focus my attention and angst on those things I can control – how much time I spend writing each day, the desires and needs of my characters. What I can do to support MAJOR HOTSAUCE during his latest deployment.

    To exercise more. Because passing out at the end of the day after one of MAJOR HOTSAUCE’s CrossFit workouts is better than laying in bed half the night, staring at the ceiling, wondering what the heck editor X is thinking about my novel, or what Wendy will say about the latest work in progress.

    To enjoy. Enjoy writing. Enjoy each step in the publishing game. Enjoy the sunlight on my face, the familiar strains of my favorite songs, the loving, slobbery kisses of THE KIDS, ie, my dogs.

    Which do YOU like better, the last week of December or the first week of January? What are your resolutions for 2011? What experiences or moments are you determined to really enjoy?

    BETA ONE celebrating the new year!Thanks for stopping by! And prepare yourself for our inaugural "Awkward Picture Day" post, coming Wednesday!

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