Introducing: The HIDDEN Community Playlist

If you follow me on Twitter or FB, you may have seen me mention which songs are on my writing playlist for the day. These change, based on the scenes I’m writing. I’m always looking for more songs to write to, so I turned to the lovely community over on my Facebook page, and asked them which songs scream Hidden to them. They did not disappoint! As of this morning, there are nineteen songs on the Hidden Community Playlist over on YouTube. Here’s a list of the songs, as well as some of the comments from the readers who suggested them.

(NOTE: If you haven’t read all three books yet, you might not want to read the following list, because, spoilers! You can still enjoy the playlist, though! :) )

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  1. Mother by Terry McDermott
  2. Welcome Home (Sanitarium) by Metallica
  3. Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls (reader comment: when Nain and Molls first get together, to which I say YES!)
  4. Round Here by Counting Crows (reader comment: the loft in general)
  5. My Immortal by Evanescence (reader comment: end of Lost Girl. Absolutely. This was on repeat for me during the end of book 1, first half of book 2)
  6. Someone Like You by Adele (reader comment: Nain, after he finds out about Molly/Bren. Yep. Perfection.)
  7. Say Something by A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera (reader comment: for the end of HOME — Molly/Brennan.) This was the first time I heard this song, and it made me weepy. Perfect.
  8. I Miss You by Incubus (reader comment: Bren to Molly after she leaves him)
  9. Let It Be Me by Ray LaMontagne (reader comment: Bren to Molly when he’s trying to convince her to let him be Robin to her Batman)
  10. Love Remains the Same by Gavin Rossdale (reader comment: for HOME in general)
  11. The Test by The Chemical Brothers
  12. Don’t Know What You Got by Cinderella (reader comment: final chapters of HOME)
  13. Another Love by Tom Odell
  14. Piece of My Heart by Janice Joplin (This suggestion was dead on — I had this on my playlist for most of Broken.)
  15. Devil Inside by INXS
  16. Shake It Out by Florence + The Machine
  17. True Love by Pink featuring Lily Allen (Love this song. This says Molly/Nain to me “you’re an asshole, but I love you!” which is why I put it at the top of this post) :)
  18. Welcome to the Jungle by Guns n Roses (Yes. This was on my playlist for Lost Girl. Perfect.)
  19. Young Blood by Sophie Ellis-Bextor (I hadn’t heard this song before this morning. It is so Molly/Nain I can’t even. Wow.)

So that’s the community playlist so far! Please don’t be shy about suggesting songs for me to add to it. You can add them to the comments here or over on FB, or give me a shout on Twitter. I am not picky at all about genre/time period, at all.

Huge thanks to everyone who has played along so far — this has been great fun and you gave me some great new songs to listen to.

 

 

HOME: The Playlist

I’ve joked on Twitter that a book feels real for me, that I’ve reached the point of no return, when I’ve made a playlist for it. I’m only kind of joking, I guess. I write to music, as I know many writers do. Part of my process of getting into a book, once I’ve done the outline and gotten started on the writing, is to put together a playlist. Each of my books has a tone to it. Lost Girl is very kick-ass, stadium rock in tone. Broken is a little heavier, a little more introspective. And Home….well. Home is a hot mess of emotion. Lots of anger. Sadness and loss. Yearning. And a little bit of brightness. Certain scenes/sections were written with certain songs on repeat, and, for me, at least, it helped keep my tone consistent. Though I will admit that there are a few songs on this list I don’t want to hear again for a very, very long time.

I am also aware that I’m probably showing my age a bit with this playlist. Yes. I’m a 36 year old woman who still believes nothing music-wise will ever top the 90s. Now get offa my lawn! :)

Here is a sampling of five of the tracks on the Home playlist.

1. Eminem – Survival

This was also on the Broken playlist. I kind of consider it Molly’s theme song, and I listen to it a lot during fight scenes and other confrontations. Molly has a lot of those, so….yeah.

2. Nine Inch Nails – Every Day is Exactly the Same

There were several sections of this book that were written to this song.

3. NIrvana – Territorial Pissings

This was probably the second-most played song during the writing of Home. “Just because you’re paranoid don’t mean they’re not after you.” Yup. :)

4. Hole – Dying

This was huge during some of the later scenes of the book. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

5. Destiny’s Child – Survivor

Doesn’t really fit with the rest of the playlist, does it? It’s okay. Like I said, I go for tone, and this was exactly what I needed for some parts of the book, especially the very end and the epilogue. While in some ways, the last chapter is heartbreaking, I felt like it was very much Molly saying good bye to one part of her life and embracing her role as a hero.

So, that’s that. There were actually 16 songs on the Home playlist (which you can see here, if you’re interested) but these 5 were the ones I played the most.

“Forever Night” Q & A

The first part of Shanti’s story, Forever Night, went out to newsletter subscribers yesterday afternoon — I hope you’re enjoying it so far! There are a couple of quick little things I wanted to address about the story:

Time Frame/Reading Order

Forever Night takes place partially within the time frame of Home, and a little bit after, serving as kind of a bridge between books three and four. It should be read after Home, because it contains spoilers about aspects of that story.

Length/How Often

Right now, the plan is for Forever Night to be a novella-length work, around 40,000 words. Subscribers will receive new installments of the story via email every other Friday.

Forever Night Inspiration Board

As I do with the other books, I also have a Pinterest board with images that inspired the characters and other aspects of the story. You can find that here if you’re interested.

Will Forever Night be available as an ebook?

Yep! Once it’s finished, it will be edited, prettied up, and offered as an ebook along with the rest of the series. It’ll probably be listed as “Hidden, Book 3.5″ or something like that so people know to read it after Home, and that it’s not a full-length novel like the rest of the series.

Are there any other Hidden side books being planned?

Maybe. There will probably be a novella after book five. I’m not sure yet.

I hope that answered any questions about this little side story. If there are any others, please let me know in the comments. Thanks, as always, for being amazing. Have a great weekend! ♥

Focusing

I just wanted to post and let everyone know that I’ll be around, but I really need to be focusing on writing book four right now, so I’ll be drastically limiting my Twitter and Facebook time. The URL blockers have been installed in both of the browsers I use, and I am ready to mostly retreat into my little happy writing bubble.  I’ve been enjoying chatting it up, but I think we can agree that I need to be writing. :)

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them here on the blog or email me at email@colleenvanderlinden.com. You’ll also be hearing from me via my newsletter — remember, the first part of the Shanti story, Forever Night, will arrive in your inboxes on Friday!

 

Hidden FAQ: Molly’s House

I love getting reader questions about Hidden, and Molly’s house and neighborhood are one of the aspects of the story that has garnered some curiosity. Most recently, one of my lovely readers (Hi, K!) asked if there was a particular house and neighborhood I had in mind when writing Molly’s house. The answer to that is YES. Also, one UK reviewer questioned whether I was writing a dystopian future in Hidden, because the mentions of empty neighborhoods and slow/non-existent police response seem very, very unbelievable.

To which I say…not if you’re from here. :)

So, a couple of things inspired Molly’s house in the story. I used my grandma’s old neighborhood in Detroit as the general inspiration for Molly’s neighborhood. I will say, though, that my grandma’s old area isn’t quite as empty as Molly’s. There is still a house here and there, though many of them stand empty. Here’s a screenshot of Google Street View:

linnhurst and queen 2

 

See that little blue house? My grandma’s old house used to be right next door to it, to the left. It’s long gone now, probably since sometime in the 90s. That blue house, when my grandma lived next door, was owned by a little old lady named Esther. She used to grow green beans on the chainlink fence between the houses, and I very vividly remember sneaking a few of them every once in a while.

For anyone interested in checking things out via street view, the closest Google Maps-featured thing to my grandma’s house was the St. Jude Parish in Detroit. If you search that, it’s on Seven Mile. Her house was off of Seven Mile and Hayes. As I said: the neighborhood isn’t quite as empty as what I depicted in the story, but it’s close. Some blocks are more inhabited than others. Some neighborhoods in Detroit are far emptier, but since I spent a good part of my childhood in this particular area, this is what I chose to use as my model.

As far as the house itself, and the general feeling of desolation I’m trying to depict with Molly’s house, this photo from Detroit photographer James Griffioen says it all:

mollyshouse

 

That house is in the exact style as my grandma’s old house, and the area around it pretty much depicts what Molly’s neighborhood looks like in my mind. She mows and maintains a small part of it, but in general, this is it. Molly’s house is in good shape, because of the work she’s put into it, but, yeah. Oh, and if you’re curious about how common this is, take a look at this WebUrbanist post showing more of Griffioen’s “feral” Detroit houses.

So, that’s Molly’s house and neighborhood, and the real-world places that inspired them. It’s kind of funny when I think about it, how much of me, personally, is in this story. Not so much in Molly herself, but in the places I’ve chosen to set certain things. Though Molly and I do both have one thing in common: we both worked really, really boring office jobs at Wayne State University for a while. ;)

Thanks for the question, K!

 

Hidden FAQ: Molly’s Name

One of the things I’m noticing as reviews start coming in is that Molly’s name seems jarring for some people. Here are a couple of examples:

“Main character – Molly. The name alone conjures images of a little girl in pigtails. NOT!”

 

“Enjoyed Molly whose name did not fit the persona.”

I found this interesting. I’ve kind of always seen Molly as a rather no-nonsense kind of name. When I hear the name “Molly,” I think of spitfires like the late, great Molly Ivins. I think of “the unsinkable Molly Brown.” And I think of my favorite (other than my own, I mean) fictional Molly, the fierce Molly Weasley.

I’ve mentioned before that I wrote several drafts of Lost Girl over the course of four years, and with each draft, Molly’s character evolved quite a bit. As she evolved, her name changed with her. First she was Jace, an empath with a mysterious past, who meets Nain through a friend. She was too passive. Too wimpy. Then, she was Megan for a couple of drafts, but, again, she wasn’t quite there as a character yet. I wasn’t satisfied. She was tougher, but only in a very general way. She wasn’t as rounded as I’d wanted her to be. A couple of drafts later, the character evolved more into the Molly you know now: tough as nails, kinda scary, but with a vulnerable, sweet side that very few people ever get to see. Good, but battling plenty of darkness within her.

As for the name, that was really luck. I was writing one morning, working on a scene with the new, improved “Megan.” And Nirvana’s cover of the Vaselines song “Molly’s Lips” came on Pandora, and it was like a lightbulb went on for me. This was her. Molly. I rewrote her as Molly, and it just felt right.

This is an example of one of those times when we as storytellers would do well to remember that even though we’re the ones telling a story, that’s only half of the equation. A story isn’t really told until someone hears or reads it, and that person comes to it with a backstory of his or her own, and that affects how our story is read, in large and small ways. It doesn’t mean we need to do anything differently. I just think it’s one more interesting, kind of magical thing about this whole writing gig.

As for her last name…my grandma’s maiden name was Brooks. It just seemed to fit. :)

So, there’s the story behind why I chose Molly’s name. What did you think when you first started reading Hidden? Did the name fit the character for you?

Thanks again — another awesome release day!

So, basically you guys are wonderful. Home became available on Amazon on Friday, and within hours, you pushed it into the top 100 bestsellers in three categories, including the biggie (for me): urban fantasy. Holy crap. Thank you so, so much!

And I’m starting to hear back from readers as they finish, and the reviews are a mix of “this is awesome” and “I am SO PISSED right now.” Ha! Success! :)

So thank you for that, and please feel free to let me know what you think! As I’ve mentioned before, Amazon reviews are also really, really helpful for newer, less-established authors especially, so if any of you are willing to post a review over on Amazon, I’d hugely appreciate it.

Serial Fiction for Newsletter Subscribers

I was trying to think of a way to thank those of you who have signed up for my newsletter, and my husband and I were thinking that the best way would probably be to offer free stories to you, via the email newsletter. So that’s what I’m going to do! I’ve been playing with a Shanti story for a while, figuring I’d publish a spin-off novel or novella about Shanti’s part of the story, especially considering the way things stand at the end of book three.

There are a couple of reasons I think this will be fun: first, those of you who are missing your Hidden fix between now and June (when book four will be out) can hopefully have some fun reading about Shanti and her new role. There will be cameos by Molly and the rest of the team, obviously, but this will be Shanti’s story.

Second: I mentioned last night on Facebook that I teased my upcoming paranormal romance series toward the end of Home. So I think this Shanti story will do a good job of tying Hidden and Detroit Bites (my working title for the new series. I’m not sure if that’s going to be the final series title or not) together. They share the same world, but each series will definitely be its own thing. Detroit Bites will be more on the paranormal romance side of the spectrum than Hidden is. However, because this is me, there will be badassery involved. So, there’s that.

If you’ve already subscribed to the newsletter, you’ll receive new chapters of the story every other Friday. I’m writing this in addition to book four, so I want to keep the publishing schedule sane, but still frequent enough that you won’t forget what happened in the last installment. If you want the Shanti story and haven’t subscribed yet, you can sign up here.

My plan now is that the Shanti story will be published as an ebook after I’ve finished publishing it in the newsletter. But you guys will be the first ones to read it! The first chapter will be sent on 2/14.

So that’s that! Thanks again for everything. You are amazing. ♥

Home: Hidden, Book Three is Available NOW!

Hidden_Home_SeriesCover_200Surprise! We were planning on a Monday release date for Home, but things went so smoothly with the final edits and layout (thank you to my amazing husband!) that we’re able to release the book in time for the weekend instead!

So, if you’ve read the first two books, and are wondering what’s next for Molly (and how the hell she’s going to get herself out of her current mess!) you can find out now.

Home is (so far) my favorite of the Hidden books. It was the most difficult to write, but I am proud of it and I hope you guys love reading it as much as I loved writing it. This book brings the first major arc in Molly’s story to a close. I feel like Lost Girl, Broken, and Home have been about Molly discovering herself and where her loyalties and boundaries lie. The end of Home introduces the next major arc, which will deal with the repercussions of everything that’s been revealed and has happened in the first three Hidden books. Right now, I have five books planned. If I feel like the story warrants it, and if it seems like readers want more and I still want to write about Molly, there will be more after that. We’ll play it by ear and see!

I hope you’ll let me know what you think! Leave a comment here, drop me a line at email@colleenvanderlinden.com or give me a shout on Facebook or Twitter. You could also consider leaving a review over on Amazon — those are very helpful, and very much appreciated.

Happy Friday, all! I hope you have a great weekend.

 

Finishing HOME

I am in an uncomfortable place right now. Home will be released in a few days, and I’ve been working on the next book in the Hidden series for a few weeks now, on and off, between revising Home. And, just like with Home, and with Broken before that, I’m in a slump. The words come sluggishly. Stubborn. It feels like I forgot how to put one word after the other, as if everything I’ve done up until this point has been a fluke. Clearly, I cannot write.

I’ll get over it. This is a normal part of my process, I’m starting to realize. I need a few days to let my subconscious sort through the plot. I’ll find my way. I’ll write hot again. But I need to get through this phase first.

While I’m stewing and remembering how to write, I’m catching up on my blog reading. This morning, one of my favorite authors EVER, the lovely Marjorie Liu, wrote a post telling her story about finishing her latest, Labyrinth of Stars (February 25th can’t come soon enough!!) and she invited us to share our stories about finishing our most recent work. So here’s mine:

I thought Home was finished back in early December. Put it aside, then read it again a couple weeks later.

Oh, hell.

The ending I’d written was too clean. Too perfect. And not at all Molly. Nothing is ever that simple for Molly. I was writing kind of a wish-fulfillment for her. And it just didn’t fit.

Scrap the final third of the book, start writing again, being true to the story and my characters. Stand aside and let the story unfold as it should.

I consumed ridiculous amounts of coffee. I listened to Eminem’s “Survival” on autoloop.

I had a few days where I wrote seven to ten thousand words. Those left me bleary-eyed and wondering if any of them would hold up once I looked at it again. When I finally wrote the final words, I was sitting at my desk, in the same seat in which I’ve written the entire Hidden series, and I felt drained, yet excited. I was full of nervous energy, energy that I had been putting into my writing. I didn’t know what to do with it. I ended up shoveling snow, folding laundry. Cleaning under the furniture.

Trying not to obsess over whether I’d just messed the book up or not.

The good news is that when I did look at it again a week later, the words felt true to me. I told the truest story I could, and that’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do. Just because my characters are fictional doesn’t mean they don’t have their own truths. They must. Otherwise, cardboard characters and cookie-cutter plots result.

Wrote more, revised like mad. And now, I’ll just wait until Monday, until my first readers start reporting back, and hope that the ending felt as true for you as it did for me.

So, there’s my story. Not the most exciting thing, maybe, but I know I fought for every word.

 

 

 

One Week Until HOME!

Hidden_Home_SeriesCover_200One week!

Monday, February 10th is the release day for Home: Hidden, Book Three. Here’s the description, along with some of my favorite blurbs and reviews, which will also be included in the Amazon listing:

Vigilante. Telepath. Godslayer.

The Angel.

Molly Brooks has never been one to shy away from a fight, to hide from what needs to be done to protect the innocent.

Even when it ends up costing her everything.

* * *

Molly was beginning to have the type of life she’d only ever dreamed of: friends, family, rewarding work. Respect.

Love.

And her actions put her world, and every person she loved, in danger.

So she did what she had to do: she protected her world from war. A war she caused, a war fought because of who she is, and what she is capable of. She never could have imagined that in doing so, she would be taken away from everything that mattered most to her.

Lost in a hostile world, away from everyone and everything that ever mattered to her, Molly has to find a way to make peace, and then she has to find a way make her way back home.

Assuming she can survive that long.

When and if she gets there, will the world she loves still be the same?

And the bigger question is: will she?

* * *

Praise for the HIDDEN series:

“LOST GIRL is smart urban fantasy with the perfect balance of humor and emotion. Vanderlinden combines witty dialogue and an original premise, using the crumbling urban landscape of Detroit as a backdrop for heart pumping action with just the right balance of romance. A great debut effort, and a series I’m eager to follow.”  --Elizabeth Hunter, best selling author of the Elemental MysteriesElemental World, and Irin Chronicles series

Great heroine in a very entertaining story, a new take on this genre and very welcome too. A kickass heroine who takes no prisoners. Entertaining and recommended, can’t wait for the next installment!” – Tilly via Amazon.co.uk

Demons. Monsters. A girl of mysterious origins who kicks ass using supernatural powers. Humor. Romance. Violence. Memorable characters. Good and evil and a hell of a lot in between. There’s a lot of good stuff in here.” – Alex Hansen, author of The Weather Man and The New Devil 

Molly is such an amazing character. As a reader you are drawn into her story, feeling emotions with her. Molly is a force to be reckoned with, and you experience her anger, frustration, and happiness. It only going to get better from here.” – Jayna Longstreet, via Amazon.com

This is the best urban fantasy/horror series I’ve ever read. Full of fantastic characters who are both terrifying and sympathetic. The melding of modern day society with creatures from myth and legend is very well done.” – Kellie Roach, via Amazon.com

* * *

I am really excited about the release of this book. So far, it’s my favorite of the series. It was also the most challenging to write. I felt like I pushed myself quite a bit with Home. Some of it was recognizing my own stubbornness, and then being willing to kill my darlings. I’ve mentioned before that I had the book finished in November. And then I read it, and HATED the ending. So I ended up scrapping and re-writing the final third of the book, which then required re-writing entire sections of the earlier parts of the book. It’s a stronger book than it was, and I hope readers enjoy it.

So, there we go: one week! I am dying to hear what you guys think of Home!