Christmas Music to Write By – A Scandinavian Playlist

Because it’s almost Christmas, and because it’s been a while since I’ve posted some Nordic music on my blog, I thought I’d put together a short little Scandinavian Christmas playlist. Enjoy!

Sissel Kyrkjebø – “O Helga Natt” – Norway


Frostrósir – “Fegurð Heimsins” – Iceland


Tarja Turunen – “Maa On Niin Kaunis” – Finland


Secret Garden – “Fionnuala’s Cookie Jar” – Norway (and Ireland)


God Jul, Hyvää Joulua, and Merry Christmas!

My Name in Music

I saw this meme on Facebook the other day that asked you to use your name as an acrostic, spelling out your favorite bands or singers with each letter of your name. So, since I’m low on blog ideas this week, here are five of my favorite singers/bands/musicians, one for each letter of my name. (My first name only. I could do my middle and last names, but then we’d be here all day).

G – Gjallarhorn (Finnish and Swedish folk-rock)

R – The Rankin Family (Canadian family singing Celtic and folk music)

A – Angelit (Sami singers from Lapland, Finland)

C – Christopher Franke (composer, well-known for composing the epic score to the TV show Babylon 5)

E – Eivør Pálsdóttir (Faroese singer, specializing in multiple styles of music and songs in multiple languages)

Feel free to leave a comment with your name and your favorite bands!

If you like soundtracks, then give a listen to these tracks by the instrumentalist on my list:

Music Review: “Just the Two of Us,” Secret Garden

After nearly 20 years of composing and performing, the Norwegian-Irish New Age group Secret Garden is going back to the basics, as it were. Secret Garden’s latest album is titled Just the Two of Us, and features Rolf Løvland on the piano and Fionnuala Sherry on the violin.

Even though Rolf and Fionnuala have performed with other musicians, singers, and orchestras for all of their other albums, a duo of piano and violin was always at the heart of their music. For their ninth album, they created a simpler, more intimate experience for their listeners.

Every melody on this album is a delicate resculpting of tunes that would be familiar to long-time Secret Garden fans: “Awakening,” “Song from a Secret Garden,” and “Papillon” are some of my favorites on this album. Two new pieces are featured for the first time here: “En Passant” and the title track “Just the Two of Us.”

There aren’t any of Secret Garden’s upbeat Celtic jigs or songs with full choirs on this album. This easily could have been called “Ode to Simplicity,” as one of the tracks on the album suggests. I feel that Rolf and Fionnuala achieved what they set out to do – create new life while revisiting the past.

If you’re looking for a soothing instrumental album, full of variety but without any jarring musical surprises to interrupt relaxation or enjoyment, then I would highly recommend Just the Two of Us.

Secret Garden’s website

“Song from a Secret Garden”

Christmas Stories

Just a brief post for Christmas week. I hope you are enjoying the holiday, getting to spend it doing things you love, with the people you care about most.

As I was reflecting on two of my favorite things – writing and Christmas – I remembered a fun holiday movie from a number of years ago: Beauty and The Beast: Enchanted Christmas. My favorite scene/song from that movie is “Stories” – Belle realizing that the power of good storytelling might just be the trick to reaching the Beast.

Beautiful animation, beautiful words, beautiful meaning. A good story, like good music, can transcend time and culture and bring us all closer together.

Enjoy the song, and enjoy the holidays and the rest of 2013. Merry Christmas!

These are a Few of My Favorite Words

As a writer and amateur linguist, I love words. People often ask me what my favorite word is, and so I thought I’d answer that question by providing a short list. Of course I couldn’t pick just one word, right? So, in no particular order:

Laulu – this word means “song” in Finnish.

Though I’m not a singer, I love music and song; and to me, this word itself sounds like a song. It’s the perfect onomatopoeia word. Approximate pronunciation: lahw-loo. (I say approximate, because remember I’m a self-proclaimed amatuer linguist, not a translator).

Tusarnituq – this in an Inuktitut word meaning “beautiful sound.”

Not really onomatopoeia this time, but pretty close; it’s a beautiful word (pronounced just like it’s spelled, as far as I know) and the meaning is what I especially like. English, rich in adjectives as it is, doesn’t actually have an individual word for something as specific as a beautiful sound.

Ljósmóðir – the Icelandic word for “mid-wife.”

Literally translated, it means “light-mother.” Approximate pronunciation: lyohs-mothr (Icelanders, please – gently! – correct my poor phonetic spelling, if you’d like). Anyway, I first encountered this word on this blog; Icelanders frequently vote this as the most beautiful word in their language, and I agree. Not only does it sound beautiful to the ear, but the definition embodies the beauty of bringing new light and life into the world.

Wonder – yes, finally time to put an English word on this list.

“Wonder” is all about awe, discovery, amazement, and deep thoughts. I try to live my life with a sense of wonder – appreciating the beauty and awe of the world, and always curious and exploring. And, since several other words on my list are about music and sound, here’s a beautiful song all about the wonder of life and hope.

What are some of your favorite words? Please share!

What Do You Want?

With this year drawing to a close, I’ve been reflecting about what I’ve done with my blog thus far, and where I’d like to go in the future. And I want your feedback! I have a good number of subscribers and followers of my blog, as well as daily hits from web searches, so I must be writing at least a few interesting things. But I’d like to provide (or keep providing) content that you want to read.

So, if you could, please take a minute and give me your thoughts! You can answer these questions, or make other suggestions, too! Comment here, on Facebook, Twitter, or email.

  • What have been some of your favorite posts? Why?
  • What would you like to see more of in future posts? Music reviews? Writing how-to’s? Travel? Nordic stuff? Something else?
  • I’m thinking about doing some giveaways next year. Until I have published books that I can then discount or give away as prizes for contests or raffles, what are some things you’d like to see as gifts or prizes? And for that matter, what sort of raffle or contest would be fun?
  • What’s your favorite way to follow me or get new posts? Do you subscribe to my blog with your WordPress reader or email? Do you follow me on Facebook or Twitter? Or did you stumble across this post from a link or a Google search?
  • And finally, do you have any questions for me? I do my best to answer quickly, whether it’s here or on social media. Let me know what you’re thinking and where we can all go together for another year of blogging!