The WDKY Original Songs (Or Snippets Thereof)

Songs. Snippets of Songs. Ideas for Songs. My characters, especially Ava and Maggie, have a lot of them. Here's a few of my favorite passages from the books.

Bombshell (Ava, from BOMBSHELL)
I relive the day, revel in it. We finished the songs for my demo, and “Bombshell” is the song I was born to sing. I swear, Kenny had tears in his eyes when I recorded the vocals. I have tears in my eyes now.
“Money, baby. Money,” he’d said.
I sing it, my breath hitching as my imagination shifts. Now Collin’s teasing me with the pressure of his hand.
“Bitch a bombshell, blowing up on me. You the ignition to her TNT. Mortar flying, I the enemy. Bitch a bombshell, but she ain’t the half of me.” A heavy crash of instrumentation and percussion in the chorus on the word bombshell: “Bitch a bombshell, baby. Bitch a bombshell, baby.”

Stranger (Ava, from STUNNER)
Stranger, stranger, here you linger, stranger, stranger, full’a danger, who are you to me, why cannot you let me be, stranger.

Stunner (Ava, from STUNNER)
I count a beat in four-four time against my leg then start to sing. Maxine is first to join me, on the snare drum. Joe follows quickly. The crowd quiets until you can hear a pin drop in the auditorium. The Five Cs. That’s what this song is about, without putting it in exactly those words. The things that impact me most, the body blows, the highs, the lows, the love, my home, the missing pieces of myself, all of it.
Things get hazy
Head goes under
Fight it baby
You’re the stunner
I miss Collin as I sing, and I can hear the poignancy of my need for him coming out in my voice. Goddess of the morning after. Yes, that’s true. But I’m so much more than that, and with him I can be all of Ava. I adopt a totally different attitude in Stunner, a woman who feels the pain of the morning after, and isn’t afraid to let it show.

Are you ready for some Maggie in LIVE WIRE, SICK PUPPY, and DEAD PILE?

Maggie imbibes ~ Maggie radiates ~ Maggie transforms

Speaking of imbibing, we'll be lifting a glass along with her in a giveaway of a big ole gift basket of Koltiska Distillery merchandise (liqueur-infused coffee, mugs, and more). The winning readers in my Reader Appreciation Retreat Contest will attend a Maggie Trilogy Celebration at Koltiska in Sheridan, Wyoming, as well!

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Unreality (Ava, from STUNNER)
Chen rescued my puffy eyes and I survived my interviews, but they were even more excruciating than usual. I denied, denied, denied. When they were over, Louella suggested we channel my pain into music.
I hesitate. I want to beg off to wallow, but Louella cuts that avenue of escape off.
“You think right now this press is bad, and it’s not fun, but the good thing is that it’s protecting who you really are. Let them print the unreal stuff, and you keep the real you private.”
My jaw falls. “That it.”
“What’s it?”
“We write about the unreal.”
So it turned out we actually had a productive writing afternoon—Unreality is the tentative title of the song we roughed out—until I begged off for a nap. I sobbed myself to sleep, only to toss and turn with a nightmare that restarted every time I closed my eyes. In it, a zombie ripped my breast off with his teeth. It was gory, disturbing, and not too hard to understand.

Gone (Ava and Katie, from KNOCKOUT)
I float a lyric out on the wind, one from “Done Gone,” a song Katie helped write. “I was there, but now I’m not.”
Katie turns back to me and sings the next line in her high, twangy voice. “Done gone, done gone.”
“I’m the one who won’t be caught.” My hands get into the action, my long nails carving a hole in the sky as I automatically perform the number.
“Done gone, done gone.”
We harmonize on the chorus. “I’m done gone, done gone. Done gone, done gone. Baby I’m good and done gone, done gone.” The air between us vibrates as our voices weave together. They create something bigger and better than either alone, and something I’ve never found with another singer. My heart soars.

Pretty Is (Ava, from KNOCKOUT)
The longer I sit, the more paranoid I become, until I’ve had enough. I have to give my mind something else to do. I force myself to sing through my entire tour set list, softly, under my breath, and when I’ve worked my way through it, I start on the songs for the upcoming album. I pause as new lyrics interrupt the words flowing from my mouth by memory.
I type them into a memo on my phone as I say them. “Pretty is, as pretty does, throwing punches, just because.” I hum a few notes. I can send it to Louella later, see what she can do with it. I hit save and start singing again.

I am the Fire (Ava, from KNOCKOUT)
I need to work on the songs for next week, but as soon as I step into the dark studio, all bets are off. I flick on a soft lamp, light up some incense, and activate a water feature. “I am the fire, the fire on the mountain,” I whisper. I remember that feeling of escape and freedom on the trail when I danced past the sugar mill. I start scribbling and humming, my imagination fueled by Taylor and his ’Lise.
For three hours, the show goes off with barely a hitch. I’m a bundle of nerves as I take the stage for “I Am the Fire.” Not only is it a new song so the crowd won’t know it, which is always tough, but it’s the number Karen and Chen have dubbed “the redefinition of Ava’s goddess.” We’ve added some orchestral studio musicians to deepen the emotional power of the statement the song makes. My heart swells as the band plays the intro. I walk to the center of the stage on bare feet in an angelic white Roman goddess gown. I am Vesta. Gold cuffs ring my arms from wrist to elbows, with a matching necklace on my collarbone. A gold braided belt nips in my waist. My curls are piled high and spill down my back out a crown of golden leaves.
The crowd gasps and murmurs. By now, they know me well enough as a performer that this is not the Morning After Ava they expect to see. The stage lights shine down on me like moonglow. My crown is a halo. The music lifts me like I have wings, and the words begin to soar from my mouth.
When I sing the chorus, orange, yellow, and red lights bathe my white gown.
I am the fire, the fire on the mountain
Let me rage, let me burn
Can’t be caged
It’s my turn
Just as I reach the last chorus, I see Collin appear in the wings. I put my hand over my chest, and I change the words for him.
I am the fire, the fire on the mountain
For your love, let me burn
Can’t be caged
It’s our turn
When I finish, the theater is so quiet I think for a moment I’m lost in time, by myself in a summer meadow, singing like a druid to a moon. Then the place explodes. The crowd surges upward. The ovation goes on so long, I finally just leave the stage to keep the show on schedule.

Whiskey Sour (Davo, from BUCKLE BUNNY)
He unpacks his guitar and tunes it. He clears his throat a few times. He has a serviceable voice. Not enough to carry a band, but he’s a good backing vocalist.
“Does it have a name?”
“I call it ‘Whiskey Sour.’” He strums the intro chords, then launches into his song.
Maggie keeps her face neutral. It’s a nice song. Catchy lyrics with a beat that makes you want to move your feet. But it’s straight-up country pop.
When he’s done, he puts the guitar on his lap. “What do you think?”
“It’s good.”
“Would you play it?”
“It’s not my vibe.”
“But did you listen to the words?”
“Whiskey sour, harsh and sweet?”
“Yes. You’re the Whiskey Sour in the song. It’s about a woman who’s been hurt, but she’s tough.”
“Okay, thank you.”
Davo puts the guitar on the bed and makes a move toward her.
She backs up a step, but the other bed stops her.
“Can’t you see, Maggie? I’m crazy about you.”
She places a palm on his chest, with the slightest backward pressure. He doesn’t budge. “Davo, stop. That’s not who we are.”
“I know, but it’s who I’d like us to be. We could be great together.”
“We are great together, just like this. Only a little less.”

Plastic Cowgirl (Maggie, from BUCKLE BUNNY)
She doesn’t have time to ruminate on the state of affairs, because at that moment she sees Kaylee Storm walk in.
She looks at Brent. “Son of a bitch.”
Brent follows her gaze and plucks the Jaws theme.
Maggie met Kaylee earlier in the summer, at a different event, and she’s not a fan. Kaylee’s just had a song break into the country charts this month. People cheer for her as she parades around the saloon. Grimacing, Maggie cues the band to play her original, “Plastic Cowgirl.”
Into the mic, she introduces it. “Something makes me want to play this one. Hope you appreciate ‘Plastic Cowgirl.’”
Kaylee’s hugging and high-fiving and doesn’t seem to notice Maggie’s cutting song choice.

Tread Marks (Maggie, from BUCKLE BUNNY)
Maggie dips the fingers of her left hand into the Vaseline she keeps at her feet, then wipes the excess off on a hand towel. She calls out the name of a song from her first album. “‘Tread Marks’ on three.”
Quickly, Davo says, “No, that will break the vibe. Let’s do a few covers while we’ve got the crowd with us.”
Maggie gets the mandolin, calls out the count, picks the opening, and launches into “Tread Marks.” When it’s over, there’s a smattering of halfhearted applause, and the floor has emptied. Cristiano brings the shots.
Maggie says, “Goody. Plenty for me.” She does two.

I Hate Cowboys (Maggie, from SHOCK JOCK)
Maggie pats a four-count against her leg, her toe and head matching time. To the tune of “I Hate Cowboys,” she launches into the lyrics she’d written during the commercial break.
He sends me Jack,
He sends me blow
To get me ready for his show,
Then treats me like a truck stop ho.
As in her single, she speaks the next line, but with her new words. “But do his wife and daughters know? Seriously, somebody call ’em, y’all.”  Then she breaks into the chorus.
I hate DJs—none more than Aaron Cryor—I hate DJs.
He won’t play my song
Til I suck his dong.
She switches back into the real words of her song.
I hate cowboys—especially bull riders—I hate cowboys.
Their buckles look funny,
And they call their girls bunnies.
I hate cowboys. And DJs.
And cowboys.
Maggie strums an imaginary chord and holds it with her note, shaking the guitar that’s not there for the last sweet remnants of sound.  “I hate cowboys.”
Damn, that felt good.

Troublemaker (Maggie, from LIVE WIRE)
He waits, holding eye contact. Maggie takes in his red flannel shirt and overalls. He’s nearly as wide as he is tall, but not fat. Stocky. Muscular. Boulder-like.
She sips the Koltiska. It’s good. Different from Balcones, but she’s suddenly ready for things in her life to change. She imagines this is what it would taste like to drink out of a cold, clear mountain stream. “Thank you,” she says to the drink buyer.
“I’d know you anywhere.” His eyes grow squinty. “You don’t remember me, do you?”
Maggie shakes her head. “I’m sorry—should I?”
“I met you in Minot. At the North Dakota State Fair. Back in 2002. My name is Rudy Simon.”
“Hello, Rudy. Wow, a long time ago.”
“You said you’d play a song for me. ‘Troublemaker.’ Then you didn’t.”
His words don’t stir any recollections, but she doesn’t doubt him. She played a lot of shows in 2002. She also drank a lot of Jack and Coke. “I’m sorry.”

Stranded (Maggie, from LIVE WIRE)
When he left, Maggie had poured herself another drink and done something she hadn’t done in ten years: written music. The song that came to her is far from complete, but she’s calling the work-in-progress “Stranded.”

Double (Maggie, from LIVE WIRE)
After dinner, Andy leaves. His revelation about a bloody Hank has Maggie wound up. She crawls in bed with her guitar and songwriting notebook. Sipping Koltiska on ice, she hums a melody to match her mood, then picks it on the guitar in G minor with augmented chords, which Louise sings along with.

When you tell your truth
It comes in twos
That way you
Don’t have to choose
Now your double
Is my trouble
Make it go, make it go away
She jots down the words then writes “Double” by Maggie Killian at the top of the page. By the time she finishes roughing out the song, she’s deliciously, gloriously, totally drunk. The empty Koltiska bottle sits on the bed beside her. Even in her inebriated state, though, she knows when she’s on to something, and this song is something. It’s moodier than most of what she used to write. Hell, she’s moodier than she used to be. She’s a closing-in-on-middle-age woman with a life that’s gone off the rails. She’s earned her moody creds. Fuck happy. Fuck ironic. Fuck everything.

Too Much Koltiska Last Night (Maggie, from LIVE WIRE)
“Maggie Killian.” Maggie sets up a cup and a hazelnut cream pod, and starts the Keurig. She’s starting to drag. Too much Koltiska last night. The beginning of a song.

Never mind Don't Call (Maggie, from LIVE WIRE)
Maggie smiles, despite her day and her own damn self. Most nineteen-year-old boys don’t ask formerly famous musicians to play “Amazing Grace.” They ask for her big hits. “Buckle Bunny.” “I Hate Cowboys.” “Never mind, Don’t Call.”
Or Miranda frickin’ Lambert.

I Hate Cowboys (Maggie, from DEAD PILE)
Wally claps her on the shoulder. “You’re amongst new friends. And I’m not sure you have much cover to blow. Now, give us a treat.”
She makes eye contact with Andy and nods at him. Into the mic, she says, “I Hate Cowboys, key of E. This one is for my friend, Andy.”
Just as she launches into the music as familiar to her as her own breath, she sees Andy isn’t looking at her. He’s looking past her. She glances back and catches Penny’s gaze locked on Andy. A chuckle escapes her, but she ends it in time to sing the lyrics Hank inspired so many years ago. She strums and sings along to the accompaniment of the blue grass musicians, aware a buzz is growing in the room. How long has it been since she sang this song in front of humans? Ten years? Twelve? When she reaches the ending, she sings the chorus one last time.
I hate cowboys—especially bull riders—I hate cowboys.
Their buckles look funny,
And they call their girls bunnies.
I hate cowboys. I hate bull-ridin’ cowboys.
She shakes the guitar gently, drawing out the sound of the last note.
The saloon patrons are on their feet, cheering. Calling her name. The gig is definitely up, her secret out. Andy basks in the glow and nods at her. Wally claps her on the back so hard she falls forward from the stool.

Oh, my gosh, how I love my musical women. I hope you do, too. 

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