Out of Tune

Michelle D. Argyle shares all information about her novel about a twenty-year-old girl who wants to be a country music star like her parents, but she can’t sing in tune.

“Everybody Loves Country Music — They Just Don’t Know It Yet”

“Everybody loves country music — they just don’t know it yet.”

That’s something my brother said to me about ten months ago. That was the point I started listening to country music in earnest because I was writing Out of Tune, my “country music book.” I wasn’t too keen on country at first, but now my car’s radio station is permanently stuck on the local country music station. It’s all I want to listen to now. I was converted, so to speak.

There are lots of different kinds of country, so it’s kind of silly to me when I hear someone say they HATE ALL COUNTRY. There’s country folk, bluegrass, classic country, country pop, country rock, etc. There are a lot more genres than that, but those are the main ones I’ve found.

COUNTRY FOLK

Think John Denver. Who doesn’t like a good John Denver song every now and then? “I’m leeeeeavin’ on a jet plane!!!!”

Country folk has been described as a mellower and gentler form of country music with more emphasis on song writing than vocals. Many of the artists described as country folk are respected more in mainstream country circles for their song writing abilities. The lyrics of the songs tend to be more thoughtful and emotionally complex than mainstream country. ~ Wikipedia

BLUEGRASS

Think the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? Think “You Are My Sunshine”. Alan Jackson has a fantastic album dedicated to Bluegrass titled, The Bluegrass Album.

Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and a sub-genre of country music. Bluegrass was inspired by the music of Appalachia. It has mixed roots in Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and English traditional music, and also later influenced by the music of African-Americans through incorporation of jazz elements. ~ Wikipedia

CLASSIC COUNTRY (whee!)

Think Johnny Cash. Have you seen Walk the Line? Yeah, go watch it.

The classic country format can actually be further divided into two formats. The first specializes in hits from the 1920s through the early 1970s (thus including music that is older than almost any other radio format in the United States), and focus primarily on innovators and artists from country music’s Golden Age (including Hank Williams, George Jones and Johnny Cash). The other focuses on hits from the 1960s (including some the above-mentioned performers) through early 1990s, some pre-1960 music, latter-day Golden Age stars and innovators such as Waylon Jennings,Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard) to newer recurrent hits from current-day artists such as George Strait, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and Reba McEntire. ~ Wikipedia

COUNTRY ROCK

THIS is the country my husband adores — yet he claims to hate country. (Shhh, he doesn’t really hate country if he likes this stuff) Think The Eagles and Bob Dylan.

Country rock is a subgenre of country music, formed from the fusion of rock with country. The term is generally used to refer to the wave of rock musicians who began to record country-flavored records in the late 1960s and early 1970s, beginning with Bob Dylan and The Byrds; reaching its greatest popularity in the 1970s with artists like Emmylou Harris and the Eagles. ~ Wikipedia

COUNTRY POP

If you “hate country,” this is probably what you hate. Think Garth Brooks, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban. This is the country I mostly listen to, but I get back to the roots of country and listen to folk and bluegrass as well.

Country pop, with roots in both the countrypolitan sound and in soft rock, is a subgenre of country music that first emerged in the 1970s. Although the term first referred to country music songs and artists that crossed over to Top 40 radio, country pop
acts are now more likely to cross over to adult contemporary. ~ Wikipedia

So chances are, you don’t really hate country. You  just think you do because you haven’t given it a chance yet. I know I thought I hated country since I grew up in a tiny hick town where country was the rule, not the exception. Country is more popular than I’ve always thought, though. When I announced over a year ago that I was going to write a “country music book”, I was blown away by how many people said they love country. I think since country truly does reach down to the roots of who we are, it has the potential to touch everyone.

Oh, and if you’re a Firefly fan, I feel strongly that you’re country at heart.

Do you hate country? Love it? I’d love to hear where you stand on your music preferences.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in About Me, Out of Tune

Sneak Peek — Out of Tune

michelle-d-argyle-out-of-tune-cover-web

Twenty-year-old Maggie Roads’ parents are legendary in the country music world. She wants nothing more than to follow in their footsteps, but the limelight isn’t reserved for singers who can’t carry a tune, let alone keep a rhythm.

When her parents tell her they’re getting divorced, Maggie decides it’s time to leave home and take her future into her own hands. Moving in with Cole, her best friend and sometimes boyfriend, might not be the best of ideas, but she’s got to start somewhere. Their off-and-on romance gets even more complicated when Maggie crushes on her new voice teacher, Nathan, who unlocks her stunning potential. A sensational music career of her own is finally within reach, but Maggie might need more than perfect pitch to find what she’s really looking for.

Out of Tune is a clean novel suitable for young adult to adult readers.

It’s a little less than a month before Out of Tune is officially released. For a long time I’ve gone back and forth with this book — especially when my publisher told me they were closing their doors and that Out of Tune would be mine to do with as I pleased. At the time, I had submitted the novel and it was with my editor there. It was a tough decision, honestly. I think Out of Tune is marketable enough to publish with a publisher (dare I say even a big publisher?), but now I was faced with publishing it on my own.

You have to understand that I thought this book was going to come out in the spring of 2014 with my publisher. My little heart was set on it. I had already made plans, and since I had some good momentum built up with my other books, I didn’t want to throw this one into the querying trenches and cross my fingers that maybe an agent would sign it in a decent amount of time, and maybe they’d think it didn’t need to be completely rewritten, and maybe they’d pitch it to some great editors at great big houses, and maybe it would sell and maybe it would come out before 2016 or 2017 (yes, big publishing is that slow). All of it was a Big Fat Maybe, and well, since I have momentum, why would I do that with this book when it was already with an amazing editor and I know how to publish my own work, already have a business set up, and even a good cover? So that’s where we are, and I’m excited that Out of Tune will be released December 3, 2013.

So, in all that excitement, here’s some more information about the creation of Out of Tune — the official novel that has made me a Huge Country Music fan for life.

BOOK TRAILER

Yay! There’s a book trailer for Out of Tune! 

IDEA

The idea for Out of Tune came to me probably about six or seven years ago. I have always wanted to play the guitar. I still don’t have one, but I would like to get one some day when I can afford it, and I’d like to take some lessons and learn how to play a few songs. Maybe even sing. Gulp. But the closest I could get to for the moment was write a story about a girl who plays the guitar and sings. When I started thinking about plot possibilities and themes and conflict, I decided, well heck, what if this girl can’t sing? What if she’s so bad that everyone, even her parents, are embarrassed for her? It all took off from there.

The funniest thing of all is that I knew I wanted this book to be about country music, but that I didn’t really like or know country music. I mean, I know it, kind of … because I grew up in a town where the high school is next to a dairy farm. Yes. Cows. Every football game was bathed in the scent of cows and fresh manure. We won a lot of games because of that since the other teams weren’t used to it and we were. Probably half the population of my high school owned cowboy boots, or at least a hat and a pair of Wranglers. And a lot of my friends listened to country music. Every dance played a  lot of country. I even knew how to line dance. But … I resisted country with every fiber of my being. Now, though, after immersing myself in country music for almost 11 months since starting the novel, I love country more than any other music. I got back to my roots, and I’ve finally accepted them. Because of that, Out of Tune is very close to my heart.

TIME

I started writing Out of Tune in January of 2013, this year. I finished it the first week of March. I even queried the dang thing, with some interest but not much luck. I also submitted it to Rhemalda Publishing, my publisher at the time. After some initial revisions, they told me I needed to rewrite the entire novel. It was written in first person present (not my strongest POV), and they wanted it rewritten in third person past. So I tried it for a few chapters, realized they were correct, and rewrote the entire novel in a few weeks. It was so much better, and I’ll be forever grateful to them for their suggestions and help.

EXCERPT

Want a little peek inside Out of Tune? This scene takes place after Maggie has moved in with her best friend, Cole. He’s in a band, and she’s been waiting patiently to sing with them … even though Cole is all of a sudden not as supportive as Maggie thinks he should be.

'Click Here to Read the 'Out of Tune' Excerpt'

 

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Out of Tune

Accepting Yourself as a Blind Author

I’m deep into revisions on my novel, Out of Tune, which I submitted to my publisher a few weeks ago. I waited and waited for an answer and received a lovely editorial letter thick with the message, “Your book is great! But you need to change all this stuff before it’s ready for publication.” And it’s some big stuff. Ouch, because I thought all the big revisions I did before sending it in were enough. Wrong. So, that’s what I’ve been busy doing lately because #1, I want a publishing contract for this book so bad, and #2, I want to get this book out of my way so I can continue working on my new novel, the forgetting book.

As some of you may know, I tried to query Out of Tune awhile ago. I wrote the thing in nine weeks back in January and February, and can you believe I thought it was a great novel at that point? These were my thoughts:

This book is so good! I ADORED writing it, so it MUST be great. It won’t need that much work at all. Remember Pieces? I wrote that one fast too and it all went so smoothly, even with revisions. This one will be the same! I’m growing so much as an author. I SO ROCK! I’m going to query this and get an agent and go super-big super-fast and my life will be all sorts of happy-unicorns-and-cupcakes-sugar-induced awesomeness.

Yeah, kind of forgot that Pieces is a sequel/companion to an existing book. Characters already solidified. Backstory already completed. World already created. Out of Tune is a whole new story, a whole new world, a whole new set of problems.

I was so blind.

I was stupid and queried it way, way, way, way too early. I had beta readers for it before that, and I did some big revisions, but nothing painfully extensive. Obviously, I didn’t get an agent. I think I screwed up some good opportunities I probably won’t ever get back, so yay for me. You know what I was thinking? Really? I thought:

The more I write, the faster I should get, the less work I’ll have to do on each novel.

To an extent, that might be true, but I was blinded by that thought. I let it give me an excuse to be lazy and arrogant. So, I realized if I want a book out in any decent amount of time, I’d better submit Out of Tune to the publisher of my other books instead of chasing after different publishing opportunities for the next year or longer. And I love my publisher, so it’s not like this is a bad thing, far from it. But now that I’m slogging my way through some heavy revisions, embarrassed out of my mind that I queried this book in such a horrible state, I’m learning my lesson that every first draft I finish is going to suck. This is what I said to a friend last night:

It’s just … you know, after doing revisions like this (and it’s not like I don’t go through this with EVERY book), I go to work on a new book, and I’m terrified. I keep thinking, I’m going to do everything wrong and there’s no way to stop it. The only thing to do is just write it and then fix it later, no matter how long it takes or how hard it is.

I’m blind. In every first draft I write, it seems like I’m totally 100% blind, traveling through an unknown world, charting things I have no knowledge of, and most of it will need major reworking.

I’ll admit, I feel completely foolish putting up this post, because most of this seems like it should be obvious to any author. I just thought that since I’m writing my tenth novel, I would have figured it all out by now. Apparently not. So learn from my mistakes, I suppose, and accept your blindness and keep writing anyway. Unless you’re so brilliant that you churn out perfect first drafts. In that case, can we switch brains?

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Out of Tune, Pieces, Writing Process