The Governess Was Wild

Writing to Music

1A version of this post previously appeared on Tina Klinesmith's website when she graciously hosted me for the release of The Governess Was Wicked.  Music is a big part of my writing process, but ironically it doesn’t come into play until I’m editing a book. For some reason I can’t write to music, but I love listening when I’m working through revisions. The music helps evoke a mood. It keeps me on track with the emotional direction of a book and makes it easier for me to jump back in after a long day of work and real life.

I wrote my Governess series at what felt like a breakneck pace. I would be writing one book in about three weeks, taking a week to edit it, and then using the remaining week to do a polish pass before sending it off to my editor. All the while, I was usually also tackling developmental edits for the previous book. Because all the books were going at once, I ended up lumping all of the playlists I’d started for each book together and created this one big list.

Here’s the playlist I listened to to hundreds of times while working on The Governess Was Wicked, The Governess Was Wanton, and The Governess Was Wild along with a short description of my top five favorites under the embed:

  1. “Superpower” — Beyonce

Hands down, this was my go to song, especially when I decided to completely rewrite the last half of The Governess Was Wanton. “Superpower” is slow, dreamy, and sexy. It never quite crescendos, and it’s perfect to put on loop while wearing noise cancelling headphones (not that I would know). Every time I hear it now I’m immediately transported back to the world of the Governess series.

  1. “Work Song” — Hozier

Here’s another moody, sexy song. It’s a quiet, reverential love letter and felt absolutely perfect for my story about a slow burn, years-long love in The Governess Was Wicked. Even more of a bonus, it’s by Hozier. I fell in love with his album back in 2014 and think he makes some pretty perfect writing music.

  1. “Hello” — Adele

Every book needs a dark moment, and this felt like a great accompaniment part of all three of my books. Adele manages to pull out such deep, fraught emotion in her songs that it’s hard not to get wrapped up them. I put this one in particular on my playlist because it’s about grieving the death of a relationship. While some of her other songs are also powerful — especially “Someone Like You” — this one fit the books better.

  1. “Love Me Like You Do” — Ellie Goulding

If I had to make a list of rules for romance novel playlists it would probably read something like this: every playlist must have a sexy song for the very sexy times, an angsty song for the dark moment, and a joyful song for the “realization of love and reconciliation” moment. This is my joyful song. There’s something about the buildup throughout the first verses that just sends it soaring about halfway through. It’s perfect for that big “he loves me” moment.

  1. “XO” — Beyonce

Another Beyonce song (one of three but who’s counting). This also falls solidly into the joyful zone. Like, “sing at the top of your lungs because this is your anthem of love” joyful. It also has a big, swooping crescendo, and the lyrics talk about her lover being as “bright as ever” and finding him “in the darkest night.” It’s the perfect way to end a book about love and romance.

The Governess Was Wild Is Out Now!

Readers, The Governess Was Wild, the third and final book in my Governess series is out at ebook retailers now! Here's a quick look at the book: The Governess was Wild

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When Lady Margaret Rawson is caught trying to elope with the thoroughly unsuitable James Lawrence, Lord and Lady Rawson decide it’s time to send their daughter away from the temptations of London. The job of delivering the headstrong girl to the family’s isolated Yorkshire estate naturally falls to her governess, Jane Ephram. It should be an easy task, but with the wild Lady Margaret, nothing ever goes according to plan. To make matters worse, Lord Rawson has made it clear that if anything happens to his daughter along the way, Jane will be dismissed without a letter of reference. When Jane finds Lady Margaret’s inn room empty and the charming Lord Nicholas Hollings’s horse missing one morning, she must embark on an adventure of her own with the devilishly handsome baron. Will Jane and Nicholas find Lady Margaret, the scheming Mr. Lawrence, and the missing horse, or will they discover something else entirely?

For more about how the Governess series came to be, go here. To see who I'd cast as characters in my book, head over to XOXO After Dark for a GIF-filled look.

And to listen to a podcast where I talk all about governesses and why I decided to write the books, check out the XOXO After Dark Cast.

How the Governesses Came To Be

The Governess was WickedAsk a writer, “Where do you get your ideas?” And you’re just as likely to get blank stares as you are answers. Many of us have no idea where the ideas come from. They just gel somewhere in the back of our subconscious in some mysterious process even we don’t fully understand because if we did you can bet writing would inspire a lot less hair pulling. If you really want to know where books come from, you’ve got to think of a book like a recipe and ideas like ingredients. You toss a whole bunch of ideas together that you’ve gathered from books, movies, the news, anywhere, and if you’re lucky you wind up with a cake…err…book.

I have no idea where my new Governess series came from, but I can tell you exactly where I was when it sparked. I used to take the 6 train up to the South Bronx every morning to get to my old job. It was an unusually cold day in late October, and I was worrying about what I’d do for NaNoWriMo. Like any good writer, I was armed with my trusty notebook and a pen, ready to write. I just needed an idea.

I got off of the train and headed above ground to wait for the bus that would take me last few miles to work. I probably hunched down into my coat because I’m always cold from October until April. Then, for whatever reason, an idea struck me. What if I wrote a book about a governess?

The Governess was WantonI love dukes and duchesses and all of the shenanigans they get up to in romance novels, but for a long time I’ve been wanting to change up that story. I've always been fascinated by women who lived on the fringes of respectability in Victorian England. Governesses, doctors, teachers, spinsters, small business owners. All of these women were different because all of them did something a woman wasn’t supposed to during this era: they earned their own money.

But despite my fascination with governesses I knew that I couldn't write just one book and call it a day. With my agent’s very sound business advice to think in series in mind, I began to sketch out basic plot lines for two other governess stories. I gave the heroines the names—Elizabeth, Mary, and Jane—that they would go to publication with. I gave them each a different kind of hero (their men’s names didn’t stay the same). By the time the bus pulled up, I had the kernel of an idea.

I kept working and working at my first governess book until I finished a draft and sent it off to beta readers. It came back bleeding with comments, but there was something in it that seemed worth pursuing so I kept at it. Little by little, a draft emerged. My agent was interested. I wrote my scribbled notes for Mary and Jane’s books into synopses. I rewrote those synopses many, many times, learning and re-learning what would make for a good, sellable book. If I wanted to be a writer who could eventually sell on proposal,

Finally the full first book and two subsequent synopses went out on submission, and a couple months later my governesses found a home and a wonderful editor.

The Governess was WildNow that the books are launching this fall, it’s strange to think about the fact that it all started because I was standing at a busy bus stop in the middle of the Bronx, trying to get to work and scrambling to come up with a NaNoWriMo book idea.

If you want to write, I may not be able to tell you where to find ideas of your own any more than I can tell you how I come up with mine, but I can give you these two pieces of advice: keep an open, curious mind and never travel without a notebook.

From now until 9/30 I'm giving away two huge prize packs to celebrate the release of The Governess series. Enter to win below!

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