Of Miracles and Music

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A Novel in 13 Stories

Mexican tax lawyer Luis Villalobos is lured to the tiny island of Curaçao anticipating a fast track to the cusp of an already stellar career. But the paradise we expect is so rarely the paradise we find.

The author, Guilie Castillo Oriard, is a Mexican export herself; she transferred to Curaçao “for six months” — and, twelve years later, has yet to find a reason to leave. Her work has been published online and in print anthologies, such as Pure Slush’s 2014 A Year In Stories and gorge. THE MIRACLE OF SMALL THINGS is her first book.

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THE GIFT OF MUSIC
by Author Guilie Castillo Oriard

When I worked in the corporate world, I kept a sleek set of iPod speakers on my desk. During office hours, music was mellow: ballads, soft jazz, easy pop. Volume appropriately low. But come 6 (or 7, or 8… we put in long days), the decibels got free rein, and the genres shifted to the Dark Side. (Yes, Pink Floyd. Smashing Pumpkins. Lenny Kravitz. Pearl Jam. AC/DC. The Brandenburg concertos, maybe the Four Seasons. Rock it, Antonio.)
+++In those last, solitary two or three hours, I got through double the work than I did in the previous ten. Less interruptions. Less calls. Less colleagues wanting to chat or bounce off ideas. But my money, for Most Influential Cause, is on the music.
+++Because music makes me happy, and it does so in a way that has nothing to do with what the world insists is happiness-inducing: money, relationships, possessions, achievements. Music puts me in the right here, in the now, and the happiness I get—from the beat, the harmony, the poetry in the lyrics—comes from nothing else than the miracle of being alive.
+++That happiness—that bliss—does wonders for my concentration. It puts me in the zone.
+++But that’s not the only gift music brings. Though I only discovered that when I’d been writing fiction full-time for a couple of years.
+++This happened: I couldn’t get a scene right. A man at a moment of melancholy. Of that weird kind of nostalgia for what never happened. And… it sounded teenage-sulky.
+++No. No.
+++This man doesn’t sulk. He’s a kick-ass, superstar tax attorney. Someone in love with the adrenaline of board rooms, the thrill of working under maximum pressure, of discovering a legal loophole at the eleventh hour to save a client (and their millionaire bank accounts).
+++I was ready to throw the whole thing out. But my iPod, in all its wisdom, chose that moment to bring Leonard Cohen to the surface of its shuffle ocean.
++++++ He wants to write a love song
++++++ An anthem of forgiving
++++++ A manual for living with defeat…
+++This man was, to paraphrase Roberta, singing my scene with his emotionless words. The whole gravelly, pseudo-upbeat mood of the song nailed the atmosphere I wanted.
+++I put the song on repeat, and rewrote the scene from scratch. And there it was: the nostalgia without the sulkiness, the sense of defeat without the self-pity.
+++Since then, I make Writing Playlists: scene-, mood-, even character-specific.
+++In the same way we read poetry to get in touch with our edgiest, most succinct, cut-to-the-marrow syntax and lexicon, I believe through music we’re able to delve ever deeper (and more accurately) into ourselves. Music brings out magic in us, whether through memory or emotion, or both—and through imagination.

How does music influence your own creativity?
If you’re a writer, have you ever used music in a similar way?
How do you get in the zone? Any tips you’d like to share?


RSM LogoReally Slow Motion – ELEVATION – Until The End – Jesse Clinton

Pélagie’s coming down the walk with Al. They both smile when they see Luis, but only Pélagie speaks. “So this is your secret lair, Mr. Hotshot Tax Attorney?”
+++ Luis wants to lob back the banter, but his glibness has gone the way of the wooly mammoth. Emotion is building at the base of his throat, and he realizes that what he wants, more than his bed or the snugness of his duvet, more even than to feel well again, what he needs, actually, is this woman’s arms around him. Which is mad, beyond unhinged, and not just because he’s never felt those arms, has no idea how they’d feel, and how can he need something he’s never had; no, all of that is true, and valid, but the reason it’s certifiably insane to feel this way is because Pélagie isn’t just out of his league: she’s a different sport altogether.
+++ He takes hold of Al’s collar. “Thanks for bringing him back.”
+++ Pélagie squints at him. “You look—not well. Bad cold?”
+++ “Dengue.” There’s a certain pride in not being vulnerable to just any common virus. He kind of wishes it was malaria now.
+++ The square of skin between her eyebrows furrows. “How’s the fever?”
+++ “Under control.” He shrugs.
+++ She comes closer, lifts her hand. Before he can back away or say anything, she’s touching his forehead. Cupping his cheek. Small and cool, that hand quiets the tomahawk army that’s taken up residence in his skull. He leans into it, closes his eyes.

© Guilie Castillo Oriard 2015

UntitledTHE MIRACLE OF SMALL THINGS
Available Now:
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Truth Serum Press
What People are Saying about MIRACLE
Tastes of MIRACLE


author photo HRGuilie Castillo Oriard is a Mexican writer and dog rescuer living in Curaçao. She misses Mexican food and Mexican amabilidad, but the laissez-faire attitude (and the beaches) are fair exchange. And the island’s diversity provides great fodder for her obsession with culture clashes.
+++ Her work has appeared online and, in print, as part of several anthologies. Her first book, The Miracle of Small Things (Truth Serum Press) was published in August 2015. She’s currently working on a full-length novel.
+++ She blogs about life and writing at http://guilie-castillo-oriard.blogspot.com and about life and dogs at http://lifeindogs.blogspot.com/.

author photo HRElevation Writing Contest

Swing by Dec. 1st to enter our music-inspired writing challenge for a chance to WIN a digital copy of RSM’s ELEVATION album and signed copy of guest judge, Guilie Castillo Oriard’s The Miracle of Small Things!


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12 thoughts on “Of Miracles and Music

  1. It’s an honor to be hosted on your blog, Sam… I’m an admirer of your style, and to see bits of me and of MIRACLE here, among all the other gorgeousness, is… well, kind of formidable, actually 😀 And for you to have taken the time, among all your commitments and deadlines, to help me brainstorm for this… I can never say thank you enough. You’re a fabulous friend, and I’m honored to count you among mine.

    Can’t wait for the contest to begin!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Miraculous tour in blogs! | Truth Serum Press

    • I hear you, Crystal… Music makes my writing world go round, too 😀 Though there are times when I need silence, too. I suppose, like most writing-related stuff, no rule is set in stone.

      Thanks for the visit! (And I’ll pass the compliment re the cover to the publisher… He’ll be happy to hear it 🙂 )

      Like

  3. Music stimulates creativity! I used to do the same thing at the office, working overtime, alone. Crank it up, baby! 🙂 Still doing that at home too, when writing and even with something as mundane as housework. Ever try dusting to Rod Stewart’s “Hot Legs”? You’ll be done in no time. 🙂 I’m thoroughly enjoying your book Guilie!

    Nice website, Sam. I’ve added it to my subscription list,

    Like

    • “Hot Legs”—I will try that. TOMORROW 😀 Music is soul food, no doubt… And I’m totally *not* surprised that you work with music, Debbie; I’ve known for a while now that you and I are music soul mates 😉

      Thanks so much for the visit! And I’m THRILLED you’re enjoying the book!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m inspired by music and use it to write, even reference it in the writing as an influence on my characters. I loved your excerpt Guilie, wonderful! I’ll be back for the flash fiction challenge.
    Congratulations, Guilie!

    Like

    • Music can be such a powerful influence, right? I’m so glad you enjoyed this, Yolanda, and I’m thrilled you’ll join the challenge! It’s going to be a lot of fun, I think… Though, to be honest, I’m not looking forward to judging—eeek! Haha. Thanks for visiting! And sorry about the late reply… Somehow the subscription to comments didn’t quite work as expected 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Love the excerpt, Guilie, and LOVE The Miracle of Small Things! I like to write in silence since I end up singing along and wandering off to the music if it’s playing. But, as I wrote each of my novels, one song emerged as the story’s “anthem.” I’d dance and sing my way around the house before writing, or would listen to it again and again if I needed motivation. For “Marina Melee,” that song was Crosby, Stills & Nash, “Southern Cross.” For “Ye Gods!” it was “I Believe in Miracles” (Hot Chocolate). The anthem for my latest, “The Un-Familiar” (due out in late spring/early summer 2016) is “Demons” by Imagine Dragons. The theme for the third in the chupacabra trilogy (“Ye Goddess”–still in the outlining stage, but the song has already established itself) is Hozier, “Take me to Church.”

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    • LYNNE!!! I’m so happy you stopped by! And I’m sorry I almost missed your comment; the “subscribe to comments” option didn’t quite work—so I’m really glad I came back to check 🙂 I get what you’re saying about silence… Music is a powerful thing, and as such it can totally be distracting. But it’s funny how you found one song — and just one — that kind of embodied the manuscript… I find that really cool. (And now I’ll never be able to reread MM without humming Southern Cross, haha.) How awesome that even when only outlining you’ve already found the anthem for the last in the Chupacabra series… I love those books, Lynne. Your trademark wit is all over the place, but the sensitivity and tact with which you make the animals the true protagonists… That’s mastery of craft. So, of course, it makes me enormously proud that a writer I admire LOVES my book 🙂 Thanks so, so much for the visit!

      Like

  6. Hello Sam and Guilie! Love this post. I’m really feeling immersed in the sights and sounds here. I’ve written to music and am amazed at the different results from different tunes. It ups the creativity for sure. I’m a bit of a lagger on this tour, but better late than never! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • And I’m a lagger at replying to comments! Denise, I’m so glad you came by, and that you enjoyed the post. Here at Sam’s that immersion in sights and sounds you mention is a constant… She’s such a gifted artist in so many ways—and she puts together these collaborative efforts that take everything (writing, visuals, music) to the next level. I’m glad to hear you also enjoy experimenting with writing and music; indeed, different tunes can produce really different results 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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