Most of the work I’ve been doing on my novel has been between 10pm and midnight, when the four older kids are asleep and baby Leo is drifting off, either in his swing or his crib. The city is quiet then, and the fans are on, and the air coming through the screens feels like October.
Sunday night was one of those late nights when the stories were alive. I took a break from revising to think about the front matter of the book – what kind of quote or poem or lyrics would set the tone for the story? At that moment, the chorus from one of my favorite songs played on my writing playlist: Over the Rhine’s “Poughkeepsie.”
I’d ride on the backs of the angels tonight.
I’d take to the sky with all my might.
No more drowning in my sorrow,
no more drowning in my fright,
I’d just ride on the backs of the angels tonight.
That’s perfect, I thought to myself. Not only does it depict a major theme in the story, it almost illustrates one of the important scenes. I typed it out in the manuscript, centered on a blank page just before chapter one. Then I thought to myself, Wouldn’t that be nice?
I looked up Over the Rhine’s website and saw they have a licensing agent. I had wanted to write them directly, but instead I wrote the agent a short email explaining what I wanted to do.
I didn’t expect to hear back. I’ve written and co-written other books where we’ve wanted to use musician’s lyrics, and usually we never hear back, or if we do they want $1,000 in exchange for us to use their lyrics in the first 2,000 copies.
I went back to revising the novel. Then I went to bed.
The next day, around 11am, something strange happened. Over the Rhine liked one of my earlier Facebook statuses where I mentioned they would be headlining the playlist I listen to while I’m writing. Maybe you didn’t read that correctly.
OVER THE RHINE LIKED ONE OF MY FACEBOOK STATUSES.
That’s strange, I thought.
Then, a minute later, I heard the little !ding! that signifies an email magically flying through space and landing in my inbox. It was a name I recognized… Over the Rhine’s licensing agent. I felt sick to my stomach as soon as I saw his name – surely if he got back so quickly it was with some kind of a standard rejection email. I didn’t want to open the email. I sighed. I clicked it open.
I nearly fell out of my chair.
Dear Shawn, Thanks for your note. Over The Rhine is granting you permission to use this song in the specific way you described below on a gratis basis. Kind Regards, Michael
It may seem like such a small thing, but to me, in that moment, it felt like I had just received one of the kindest gifts possible. And, this may sound even stranger, but it felt like the tiniest of affirmations from the universe that I actually SHOULD go ahead and publish this book.
Thank you, Linford and Karin. Thank you.
(Support one of my favorite bands of all time by purchasing their albums HERE.)
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Here is an update on the novel, and then a request for your feedback.
I’m planning on launching the Kickstarter at the end of September, and it will run for 30 days. I’m using that method to hopefully raise around $3,000 to pay for the editing, cover design, marketing, and the creation of the digital formats of the book.
For those of you not familiar with Kickstarter, you, the reader, will have the opportunity to purchase advance copies of the book as well as some other cool rewards/services (I’ll be offering some of my other books, some writing coaching, even one package where I’ll help you self-publish your very own book)…but none of the money that people donate comes to me unless I raise the entire amount. Stay tuned for more on the Kickstarter campaign.
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Now for the question. I’d like to get your feedback on a few different titles I’m considering. I know this is kind of unfair because you don’t really know what the book is about, but maybe in a way that’s good because I’d like to know which title sounds the most intriguing to you, the title that would make you pick up a book and consider reading it. So here are a few titles I’m considering. Let me know in the comments which you prefer and why, or what your general thoughts are on the matter.
The Day the Angels Fell
Samuel Chambers and the Tree of Life
The Last Amarok