Guest Chick: Olivia Blacke

Becky here, to welcome Olivia Blacke and her pugalicious pal, Baileycakes to Chicks! She’s talking about focusing today, so get your fill of Baileycakes before you start reading.

Total Silence or Total Chaos – How Do You Focus?

Everyone has their own way of doing things that works best for them. Whether they are crunching numbers or writing their next novel, some people need complete silence and others can’t work without a little white noise. And then there are the completely chaotic folks (it’s me, I’m chaos) for whom the louder, the better.

I need it noisy when I’m writing. Run all the appliances. Open the windows and listen to the traffic outside. Pump up the music. The noise forces me to focus, to concentrate on what’s going on inside of my head rather than whatever bedlam is going on outside of it. Music literally makes the world fall away so I can write.

I know a lot of folks can’t work with music (especially music with lyrics) on, because it’s distracting, but it’s my jam. Literally. One of the tricks I rely on is associating a playlist with a book or series by listening to it exclusively while I write. That way, I can hit play and I’m instantly back in the same headspace as when I last sit down to write. Two notes into Beyoncé’s Crazy in Love” and I’m Odessa Dean, bopping around the streets of Brooklyn in Killer Content and No Memes Of Escape, waiting tables and solving murders.

Then, I started writing Vinyl Resting Place.

In the Record Shop Mysteries, Juni Jessup and her older sisters own Sip & Spin Records—a family record shop/coffee café. When they’re not solving murders, the Jessup sisters spend their days playing music while serving up fun, music-themed beverages. Juni wears cool vintage concert T-shits. There’s always a different artist playing on the turntable. And then there’s the adorable drink specials with names like Java B. Goode, and when it is mentioned, guess what song gets stuck in my head?

In the cozy mystery Vinyl Resting Place, (release date December 27, 2022) there are 12 punny song-based drink names, 4 songs that all have special meanings or offer clues to solve a mystery, 9 different concert T-shirts, and 13 artists played or talked about in the record shop. And just like “Johnny B. Goode,” every single musical reference becomes a new earworm as I work.

So now, I’ve got P!nk blasting in my headphones while I’m writing a scene where my main character is singing along to “Hey Jealousy” on the radio. Taylor Swift is telling me to “Shake It Off” in my ears while my characters are thumbing through Jimi Hendrix albums. And don’t even get me started on the Baby Shark song—talk about an earworm with staying power!

In short, I can’t listen to music while I’m writing the Record Shop Mysteries. But at the same time, I’m constantly listening to music that’s playing in my head. And if I get stuck, I surf YouTube looking for the perfect song that fits a specific mood, or end up spending hours shuffling Spotify.

So if you ever happen to see me while I’m supposed to be working, but instead I’m sitting back with my headphones on and my eyes closed, I’m not taking a break. I’m writing. Honest!

What about you? Do you listen to music when you work, or do you need absolute silence?

OLIVIA BLACKE (she/her), author of the Record Shop Mysteries, beginning with Vinyl Resting Place, and the Brooklyn Murder Mysteries, finally found a way to put her Criminology degree to good use by writing quirky, unconventional, character-driven cozy mysteries. Olivia is a little nerdy, a lot awkward, and just the right amount of weird. She is a recovering ex-Texan who resides with her husband Potassium and Baileycakes, their roly-poly rescue puggle. When not writing, reading, or spending way too much time on social media, Olivia enjoys Amigurumi crochet, scuba diving, collecting tattoos, watching hockey, and baking dog cookies. She wants to be a unicorn when she grows up.

Vinyl Resting Place blends murder, music, and macchiatos in a delightful cozy mystery.

When Juni Jessup returns to her small Texas hometown, she and her sisters put all their beans in one basket to open Sip & Spin Records, the ideal place to enjoy musically-themed coffees like Espresso Yourself while listening to great music and town gossip, until – record scratch! – a body deader than disco falls out of the supply closet during the grand opening.

Family is everything to the Jessup sisters, so when their off-beat uncle is arrested, they’ll do anything to help, including putting Sip & Spin Records up for collateral. Unable to face the music, Uncle Calvin takes off, leaving the future of the shop in peril. Can Juni and her sisters catch the real killer before the trail – and the coffee – goes cold?

20 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Olivia Blacke

    1. I’m the same, Grant. I like the quiet now. Probably because for so many years our house was jackhammer loud, all day, every day. Now it’s so quiet here I’m startled if I drop a Kleenex!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Congratulations on the upcoming release, Olivia! And welcome to the record store-set mystery crowd. My first record store mystery came out in February, so three cheers to us!
    I go back and forth on this topic. Sometimes, I need the silence to concentrate. Other times, I want music to keep the energy going to bang out the words. In that case, it’s usually something like JJ Grey & Mofro or Michael Franti & Spearhead. Rock on!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Hi Olivia, and thanks so much for bringing sound cheer to Chicks today! Your new series sounds awesome (straight to the TBR!) and I adore the Brooklyn Murder Mysteries. (I lived in Williamsburg with a friend back in the 80s, ha–North 6th St. has changed just a tiny bit and my son and DIL live there now). I don’t usually listen to music for early drafts–but under deadline, I go straight to a series-related playlist. I wrote my short story “Fly Me to the Morgue” listening to Rat Pack hits and Big Band for my Ladies Smythe & Westin Mysteries (FL retirement community). Lately it’s been the Riverdance soundtrack (I have it memorized, so it’s less distracting). Oh, and as I mentioned recently, ditto for the Vince Guaraldi Trio/Charlie Brown Xmas album. For me, I think maybe the music takes the stress away. (*Runs for headphones*)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Williamsburg really has changed since the 80s hasn’t it?
      What is it about loud & chaotic that makes it easier for some people to concentrate?


  3. While I’m writing, I’m good with instrumental or songs in a language I don’t speak — which is anything other than English and the few words of college French I remember. I sometimes listen to Sigur Ros songs, which are in Icelandic.
    Olivia, thanks for hanging out with us today!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Olivia, can’t wait to read the new book! I bet it gets me full-on dancing, lol. As to me, I’m a silence girl. I even wrote about that in my Monday post. I guess this is music week at Chicks! Let’s see what Friday’s post brings.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have to have absolute quiet when I write; otherwise I can’t help but listen to what’s going on around me, rather than concentrating on my own work.

    Thanks so much for visiting the Chicks, today, Olivia, and I so love the name of your new book–ha!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Olivia, your new series sounds fabulous! CONGRATS!!

    Silence is golden for me when I write. I think it’s because I spent years with my desk right below the office’s largest speaker. It was so loud, I used to wear headphones with nothing playing through them, while I worked!

    Thanks so much for hanging out with us today! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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