You’re in Love? That’s Precious! Not.

July 14, 2017

Aw. I can see it from a mile away . . . the twinkle in your eye, the blush in your cheeks, the spring in your step. . . You’re in love! That’s adorable. Now, cut it out. Don’t get me wrong, fellow authors. I’m thrilled you’re in love with your manuscript. If you weren’t, you’d never make it to the second chapter. And I have nothing against love, per se. Love is beautiful, love is exhilarating, love is amazing, blah, blah, blah. It’s not that I want you to fall out of love. It’s that I want you to realize this euphoria won’t last. It can’t last. And if you expect that it will, there's no way this relationship will go the distance. So take a deep breath and a step back. Regard your beloved with a clear-eyed gaze. It’s the only way to make it to the finish line. I know you’re not interested in this ice-cold splash of reality. You want to revel in your feelings and shout them from the rooftops.You want to stay up all night rhapsodizing about your...

Thanks for the Memories, West Point

July 6, 2017

All of my novels contain autobiographical details here and there, but my upcoming book, “All the Wrong Chords,” taps deeper into real life than any other. The plot isn’t autobiographical, but lots of the characters draw heavily from those who most influenced my formative years. More than that, the novel’s fictional town of Oakboro, Georgia is basically a dead ringer for my hometown of West Point, Georgia. In fact, the town is practically a character of its own in the book. I know lots of people idealize their hometowns, but, gosh, mine really did seem ideal. When I was growing up there, West Point was a small textile town whose mill employed virtually every adult in the area, either directly or indirectly. Those jobs covered the gamut from weavers to machinists to engineers — the mill even employed a staff physician — so while great wealth was elusive, a solid middle-class income was in reach of virtually anyone, with few class distinctions delineating high s...

The Music in My Characters’ Heads

June 25, 2017

The internet is filled with all kinds of surveys bent on sussing out the real you. Your favorite color or favorite flower or favorite whatever is supposed to provide clues to your unfiltered self. But I think I have a more reliable method for putting my finger on someone’s pulse and gleaning what makes them tick. I want to know what kind of music they like. I’m not talking about sweeping generalizations, such as NASCAR fans’ supposed affinity for country music or teenage goths’ association with emo. I love lots of music in both genres, for instance, and I’m not exactly a poster child for either Sturgill Simpson’s or Elliott Smith’s target demographics. I’m talking about a deeper dive. I’m intrigued by specific melodies or lyrics that resonate with someone’s soul. Of course, our musical tastes can change with time and circumstances. But the songs that you’ve tucked into your psyche for all time into for one reason or another — reasons you’re probably not ev...

Does This Dress Makes My Butt Look Big?

June 16, 2017

Please excuse me while I take to my bed for a few weeks. Okay, not really. But if I were ever inclined to crawl into a hole and hibernate for a spell, this would be the time. This is when reviews will start trickling in for my upcoming novel, "All the Wrong Chords." There are several stages in book production, some tedious, some exhilarating and some downright terrifying. I'm in the thick of the most terrifying stage. Several months before a book is officially launched, the publisher will produce a few thousand advance copies and send them to reviewers. If all goes well, the reviewers will do backflips over the book and build buzz. It all goes predictably, some reviewers will love it, some will hate it and some will pronounce it decidedly meh. If all goes horribly, the bad reviews will pile up so precipitously that the earth will tilt off its axis and I'll spin into a black hole of shame and oblivion. (Can you hear me, Major Tom?) Well, the world won't really spin off ...

Making Music

June 16, 2017

In my upcoming novel, All the Wrong Chords, eighteen-year-old Scarlett Stiles joins a band during a summer with her grandfather. She's trying to push past the grief of her brother's recent death, and it doesn't hurt that the band, the Beastings, is fronted by the hottest guy in town. I interspersed lyrics from the Beastings' songs throughout the novel, and my brother (musician/writer/producer extraordinaire John G. Hurley) wrote the music and recorded them. Words can't explain what a blast this has been, and I'm thrilled to announce that the album will be available soon on iTunes. Check out the first single from the album and lemme know what you think: https://soundcloud.com/user-710816222/sailing-on...

A Journey of a Thousand Miles. . .

June 16, 2017

Today's to-do list: Come up with a great idea, commit it to an outline, then write a 70,000-word kick-a$$ novel. Granted, I won't actually accomplish all that in one day. But the list has taken up urgent residence in my brain, and my brain has dutifully committed to an action plan. An unmanageable action plan, but an action plan nonetheless. The result? The same feeling I get when I'm knee-deep in laundry, clutter and unwashed dishes. My high-maintenance brain's only focus is the desired outcome: a clean house, or a finished novel, or whatever. Its message, delivered with all the subtlety of a drill sergeant, is, "GET TO WORK AND MAKE THIS HAPPEN!" It doesn't care to be bored with the tedious details. But the devil is in the details, and major projects involve so many of them that it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Here's my strategy for dealing with this potential avalanche of anxiety: First, I humor my brain. ("Oh, you want me to write a novel/clean my house/solve world hunger,...

Mourning My Imaginary BFFs

June 8, 2017

Oooooohhh, Zach and Scarlett, how I miss you! Zach and Scarlett, the main characters in my upcoming young-adult novel, "All the Wrong Chords," have been my imaginary BFFs for the past year. What stellar hang-out buddies they've been: Zach, with his unassuming sweetness, Scarlett with her razor-sharp wit, the smoldering chemistry that each is too shy to act on. . . I've dreamed their dreams, captured their nuances and basically lived their lives for months now, and their abrupt vacancy from my brain is daunting. Much has been written about "flow," the creative state of mind that transcends time and ego so completely that you feel more like the passenger than the driver of the journey you're creating. Oh, how this book flowed! I've never loved characters so completely, unabashedly and unconditionally, flaws and all. And this book includes an additional source of joy: Zach and Scarlett are in a band, so music is basically another character in the book. (The soundtrack will be availabl...

BOOK TITLE cover

That Wristwatch on a Pay Phone

June 8, 2017

"Breaking Bad" junkies remember that shortly before Walt White's last trip home to settle his scores, he stops at a gas station to make a call from a pay phone. After the call, he glances significantly at his wristwatch -- a gift from Jesse Pinkman, his hapless partner in crime -- then takes it off and leaves it on top of the pay phone. The camera lingers on the abandoned wristwatch. Oh, the symbolism! The poignancy! Walt's time has run out. His bond with Jesse has been broken. He's leaving everything behind. What a deep and powerful metaphor! Not. "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan laughingly explained in an interview that the scene was a last-minute addition to the episode for a purely pragmatic reason. The last scene of the series had already been shot, and an astute crew member noticed that the wardrobe department had forgotten to outfit Walt with the watch during the shoot. He wasn't wearing it, and he should have been. Oops. How to explain its disappearance? Enter the gas s...

© 2017 Christine Hurley Deriso