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Writing Music

I guess I'm on a music kick this week! Today is all about writing music. I wanted to share some of my favorite soundtracks for writing and get some soundtrack suggestions from you! 

While writing It Took a War I listened to the Gettysburg soundtrack and made separate playlists on youtube for different emotions such as calm/sad (Men of Honor, Reunion and Final), suspense/battle (Armistead is Hit, Battle of Little Round Top), and patriotic (Fife and Drum, Main Title). Gahhh this soundtrack is amazing!! Also, the movie is SO GOOD.

For Ain't We Got Fun, I didn't listen to a soundtrack until more toward the final letters. I listened to Miss Potter, and one of my favorites songs from it – When You Taught Me How to Dance. I seem to listen to Miss Potter for quite a few of my projects. It just love it!

In 2011 when I participated in NaNoWriMo and wrote a novel about the American Revolution titled Riding Through Raindrops, I listened to Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, and the Anne of Green Gables soundtrack. Not only are these songs beautiful, but they bring back memories of cozy November days spent pouring over my book, eating chocolate and drinking scandalous amounts of coffee and tea while trying to make the word count for the day. My life was so stressful, as you can see. =)

For my current WIP I've been listening to instrumentals by Helen Jane Long, Schindler's List, and Sophie Scholl: The Final Days soundtrack. But mostly Schindler's List. I haven't seen the movie yet so the music doesn't bring any unwelcome images into my head...I hear the movie is intense. Ahh the music gives me chills! Also, it reminds me of the Olympics when that teenager from Russia did that amazing ice skating thingy. Yeah, I know all the technical terms.

A few other soundtracks I enjoy are War Horse, Gods and Generals, and instrumentals by Brian Crain. Oh! And I just had an epiphany! I really should write while listening to the soundtrack of one of my all time favorite movies...Emma (2009). My playlists are ever growing!

What about you? Do you listen to music while writing? What soundtracks do you enjoy?


Favorite Civil War Songs (V.1)

I have to laugh at myself when I think of the music on my ipod...Civil War music, Irish, Newsies, and even some German resistance songs. Totally normal, right?! =) I have a weakness for Civil War music. There's just SO MANY SONGS AND I WANT THEM ALL! Another weakness? I love Confederate songs. Even though I'm a Union reenactor and from NY, those southerners know how to create some epic songs. The hard part is finding a singer on iTunes who can do the song justice. They're usually old men with...ahem...pretty bad voices, opera singers (whhhaaat?) or both...at the same time. Horrible. So after searching and searching and listening and listening, here are a collection of my all time favorites. I could go on and on so maybe I should make this a series so you're not too overwhelmed with Civil War songs at one time!

Jim Taylor is easily my favorite Civil War singer. I really wish he had more Civil War albums.

 And this one...
Oh, and this one!
Also, Going Across the Mountain is awesome. I can't find a youtube video, but it's on spotify. 
Bobby Horton is also great and all his versions of Dixie are pretty grand. 
His Union Dixie is one of my favorites, but again, can't find it on youtube. You can listen to it HERE.

This is a favorite song of both mine and my sister's....it's fun to sing!
Another favorite is Oh Shenandoah. The best version of it can be found HERE. SO BEAUTIFUL AHHH!
The Battle Cry of Freedom. Both Southern and Northern versions are awesome!

Tenting Tonight. I actually own a different version of this song, but I really love this version as well!

 I just saved you the trouble of wading through terrible singers on Youtube and iTunes and wherever else you might be searching for Civil War songs. You're welcome.

Are you one of the few people out there who listen to Civil War era music for fun? If so, what are some of your favorite songs?

Research Process

 When writing historical fiction, it can be overwhelming with the never ending wealth of information to sort through and apply to your story. I don’t claim to be an expert on researching, but I’ll share what’s helped me and hopefully it will help any of you historical fiction authors out there!

Let’s start at the beginning.

After I pick a time period to write about, I start reading fiction and non-fiction books about it. I get books from the library, but I also love buying used books on Amazon so I can highlight in them. I organized my writing bookshelf so that all my Civil War books were together and easy to access while writing.

I also do a ton of research on the internet and bookmark pages like crazy. Since I was writing about the Civil War, I searched videos on how to load a musket and on Civil War drilling. I also used civilwar.org and they have an amazing animated map of Gettysburg which helped immensely. I printed out articles, highlighted the sections I needed in them, then stuck them in my research binder.

Research binders are wonderful. It makes the writing/editing process much less stressful. I divided the information with little tabs labeled with things like, Camp Curtin, Drills, 11th PA, Army Life, and Enlistment/Rally. I scanned and printed pages out of books, printed internet articles, made (somewhat) organized notes, and highlighted certain passages. It's made life a whole lot easier.

I found all the names of the guys who served in Company I, 11th PA. I used some of these names to create characters. For instance, Joe has three good friends in It Took War. One of them is Oliver Willyard. According to this list of names there was a David Willyard, but I liked the name Oliver better for this particular character. The others were Will and Johnny Story. Those were actual names of guys who were in Company I. I have no idea if they were related, but in my book I made them brothers.

- 4-
Pinterest. It’s awesome. I didn't use it much for It Took a War while writing, but I've been using it for my next book and it’s great for collecting old pictures and quotes. If you don’t have Pinterest, you can create a private blog to collect all your character pictures, inspirational writing quotes, plot ideas, website links, etc. That’s what I did with It Took a War.

If possible, go to the place you’re writing about. But this isn't a must. I’m blessed that my sister lives near Gettysburg, so I've been there many times to research for my book. If you can’t get to the place you’re writing about (my next book takes place in Germany...I really want to go there, but I’m not sure it’s a possibility in the next year or so) take a virtual tour. Look up pictures, watch videos, make authentic food, listen to music, and ask others who have been there what it’s like. 

Listen to music from the time period you’re writing about. I bought about every single Civil War era song available on itunes (maybe I’m being a little dramatic). I listened to them while washing dishes, while cleaning the house, while working out, while in the car, while writing, etc. They brought the Civil War more alive for me when I was listening to songs soldiers would sing on the march, at rallies, or at camp.

Don’t stress. If you’re writing historical fiction, remember that it’s fiction. Of course you want your book to be historically accurate, but don’t let the research process stifle your creativity. Research, but then stop and just write. Have fun with it! You want your love of history to shine through and spark that interest in someone else.

If you're a writer, what's your research process like?


This blogpost was first published on A Northern Belle on December 15th, 2014

IT TOOK A WAR Audiobook Trailer

Good morning! I have some really exiting news today. The audiobook of It Took a War is now available for purchase on:

It's such a strange and awesome feeling to see my book on iTunes! Like, WHAT?! =) I created a trailer so ya'll (oooh, Emily Chapman's southerness is rubbing off on me) could get a taste of the audiobook. So grab yourself a cup of coffee, and let me know what you think! The narrating and audiobook production credit go to Guyon Brandt.

And if you'd like to help spread the word about the audiobook, I would appreciate it SO MUCH. Just fill out the form below! Thanks in advance, you awesome people!!

Have a wonderful Saturday full of donuts and Newsie dance parties. It's the way to live.

The Readers Of IT TOOK A WAR

One of the coolest things about being an author is seeing pictures of people with my book. It's so surreal, and awesome, and really the greatest thing ever. So, I asked readers to send in pictures of themselves with my book. Here are some of the readers of It Took a War. I'd like to do another post like this soon and if you'd like to be included, send me a picture! I'd absolutely love to see it!! (authoremilyannputzke(AT)gmail(DOT)com)

 Emily Chapman of Entirely Bonkers. She was a HUGE help in the editing process! 

My awesome older sister from The Art of Making a Home. And she got the first copy of my book before I even got it. I received a proof copy, made changes, ordered a final copy, and Jamie got her's before me. Crazy, what?! (Oh, P.G. Wodehouse keeps sneaking into my writing.)

Alyssa Faith was the winner of the Civil War Christmas Bundle Giveaway! 

 My friend, Manny, a Franciscan friar! I stole this picture off his Facebook page so hopefully he doesn't mind...I mean, it's not like I pulled out a picture of him wearing a wig at summer camp, so I think it's all good.

My little sister being all excited and stuff. She's the one I read the first draft of It Took a War to. =)

Ahh! So cool! If you'd like to pick up a copy of my book, it's available in paperback and kindle on Amazon, or you can wait for the audiobook which will be available later this month! 

Thanks for reading!!


These Are a Few of My Favorite Blogs

Hannah Mary recently did a post of her favorite blogs. I was like, "Hey! I should totally do this and give a shout out to my favorite blogs!" So that's what I'm doing today. It was hard to narrow it down to a manageable number, so to read more of my favorite blogs, check out the sidebar. 

This is my older sister's blog and she writes about her 4 beautiful children. Her posts are sure to put a smile to your face. And make you laugh. She's one of my favorite bloggers EVER.  =)

This blog is written by my friend, Emily Chapman. She's an extremely talented writer (and editor) and we're publishing Ain't We Got Fun together this summer, if you didn't hear the news! OH YEAH!!!

My sister-in-law is a beautiful writer. She was one of the editors for my book It Took a War. She writes about what's on her heart and does so with such eloquence. OH AND SHE'S HAVING A BABY THIS SUMMER! Her friend, Garcia, also guest posts and her posts are also lovely. 

I'm gonna echo Hannah's comment about this blog. I always learn something new after reading Susanna's blog. She also has great book recommendations. And get this. She's going to Europe this spring! I'm excited to read her posts and learn some new things!

So much to like on this blog. Fictional feasts, book reviews, movie reviews, photography...Hannah is awesome. And she lives in Ireland so that's pretty darn cool. =)

Meghan is a published author and is currently sharing a novella she wrote on her blog! She's also writing a Civil War series about Pennsylvania, so we're basically kindred spirits. 

This blog is written by one of my best friends, Michaela. She lives on a farm with 7 younger siblings, writes awesome book reviews, and does Civil War reenacting. She's one of the coolest people I know.

Jack writes about her current literary works, and her post titles are quotes which I think is cool. She loves Unbroken (Aww yeah!!) and I'm a beta reader for her WWII novel, Brother-In-Arms!!! 

Rachel writes delightful posts and novels. She also is an incredible artist. It's through Rachel's blog that I found other awesome bloggers, two of which I already mentioned, Meghan and Jack.

                      Oooooh my gosh. Her photography is the bomb dot com. She inspires me.

Ahhh! This blog makes me happy. The Goodwins are a young couple who had a Civil War wedding, homestead, have a log cabin in TN, and have a really adorable baby and another on the way. Seriously, read this blog. These people are awesome!

Susannah doesn't update very often but when she does the posts are SO GOOD. She writes about everyday things with such joy that I don't think it's possible to leave her blog without a smile. Also, her wedding. Go look at the pictures. They had cotton candy and face painting. I KNOW. 

You should definitely have a look at these blogs. What are some of your favorite reads?