NaNo Day #4 : Soundtracks! Every good story needs a soundtrack!

4 11 2015

Another 73º day today. Beginning to think I might need to throw the bones or consult the Norn about what’s going on. This weather is just downright unsettling.

So. Day 4. Everyone is going full steam along. Or maybe you’ve hit the first wall. You’ve abandoned your skeletal outline because the unexpected character did the unexpected thing and the story veered left instead of right and now the WHOLE DAMN THING IS CHAOS! CHAOS I TELL YOU!

Um.. or maybe that’s just me. I usually hit a bit of rough terrain after the initial few chapters, because my brain decides to throw a spanner in the works and suddenly I’m rejiggering the brilliant plan I had to fit in the even more brilliant plot twist.

Sometimes when I hit these snafus, I start building a few soundtracks to keep a theme of sorts. Music is kind of the glue that holds my writing together. The genre of music, the rhythms and the moods, all can calm the waters and keep the ship righted and following the right stars. Fight scenes need a certain tone, romantic scenes…well that depends on the TYPE of romantic scene, if ya know what I mean. Character building can be helped by specific songs as well. Theme songs if you will.
Mind you, I have just as many writer friends who insist that they cannot write to music with vocals because it’s too distracting, so your mileage may vary. Some insist that silence is the way to go (Not for me–silence just amplifies the ambient noise and with cats,…there’s a lot of “What are you two DOING!” that goes on.)
iTunes and Spotify are fabulous for building playlists. Maybe soundtracks are your thing. Or ambient sounds.

Whatever works for you, take a few moments out to think about it. Because if building a soundtrack helps build some personality traits for a problematic character, or adds some dimension or atmosphere to a location you can’t quite visualize, it’s as good a tool as any to combat the dreaded writer’s block or dry well of ideas.

So here’s today’s wordcount. Today I did 2113 words.


Processing the process

30 09 2010

Weather: High: 71º & partly sunny. Heading into Fall with lovely chilly temps to follow.

I’ve been lax in my blogging, but I have a viable excuse.

I’ve started the submission process. Of course I’m tentatively sending out queries to agents first, parceling them out at a snail’s pace.

It’s kind of grueling and exhausting and nerve-wracking and, to be bluntly honest, I keep having to stifle the urge to abandon my efforts and run screaming.

It’s not that agents & editors are mean people  and I expect them to return my newbie efforts with a slap and a scornful statement of derision. It’s that I have researched and read advice and done everything I can to fit my queries to the requested formats…and I’m terrified that with one badly turned sentence, I may have shot my chances of getting published. It’s the self-flagellating perfectionist in me that keeps making my chest tighten when I hit the send button.  It’s still too early in the process to know whether I have done well or badly. It will be a few weeks before I get a rejection or, ::crosses fingers:: a request for a partial or, heaven hopes, a full MS.

But this is the process. I have it on good account from others far more well versed in publishing that it never really gets any easier.

It leads to second guessing your story. And wondering if you were a fool to pick up the pen in the first place. I read horror stories from various agents and publishers about receiving queries from people with egos & arrogance that would make Narcissus blush.  At least in this situation, I am spared.

We’ll see. Hopefully my stories will find a home.

Of course, I’ve now headed into that scariest of second phases: My next book. Book One (When the Lights Go Down) is really the first book of a Trilogy. I have the second book well under way, though it’s not coming along as easily as the first one. And the third book, well…it’s been outlined.

On the non-writing front, Brian and I are still struggling to get our house ready for sale and get ourselves moved to Seattle. Considering the time of year, we are now having to move our plans to next year.  (Trying to drive through the Cascades in winter in a Jetta? Yeah, Donner Party comes to mind.) We’re trying to paint the situation as more time to get things done, but we’re understandably dispirited. Still, nothing’s a done deal until we’re 6 feet under, so still we keep moving forward.

Speaking of the husbeast. He had finished a number of stained glass pieces. You can visit his website and I’ll give a heads up when the pieces are available for sale. It should be any day now.

And that’s the news that fit to print. I’ll be blogging more frequently now that I’ve jumped into the publishing process with both feet. Let’s hope I have some good news to report soon.

My earworm for the week:
Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na) by My Chemical Romance


Monday and the cycle starts again.

9 11 2009

Weather: High: 64º & cloudy. WTF is up with this temperature rollercoaster?

So– First up: NANOWRIMO Day 9: Wordcount total: 17231. So still ahead of the curve.

Just ordered this compilation for myself:

Sepiachord Companion Includes such fantastic bands as Vernian Process, Jill Tracy & Abney Park (who according to the Good Captain, will have a new album out in a couple weeks, thank the Steam Gods!)

Brian’s still waiting on official confirmation for a freelance position, that could lead to a full-time job. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.


Okay–work & writing have sucked out what little brain matter I came in with. Sigh. Off to the train and more writing + CASTLE!ZOMG! tonight.

It’s Friday. And I’m talking about writing stuff again.

23 10 2009

Weather: High: 58º and RAINY. Like SEATTLE RAINY. Seriously.

It’s been rainy this week, but mostly a light drizzle. Today its been RAINING. With some volume and force. I love this weather, just not on a work day. I’d rather be home with the laptop, sitting by the window and letting the sound and visual of the rain falling envelope me while I’m writing. Sigh. But this is not to be, at least not today.

What sucks additionally is that my cube here at work has NO access to a window. I can’t even see the rain. Just the migraine inducing fluorescent lights over head (hisses) and the soul sucking burgundy walls of my cube. Which, thank the gods, are wallpapered in pictures of musicians, family photos and the Muses. 🙂 Oh and several snarky signs. Makes my life much happier. 🙂

Not recent, but you get the idea.

Not recent, but you get the idea.

And no, my desk is not as messy as it seems. TRUST ME.

Laura Anne Gilman posted on twitter about how a proposal was using every bit of her history degree & added that  she was glad she saved her textbooks.  It’s funny how many writers I’ve spoken with have made similar comments. I’m a book pack rat and I’ll tell you, like Laura Anne, I’ve found more often than not that it’s been a boon. My college degree is something of a bizarre Frankensteinian mish mosh (I started out pre-med, then switched to communication. My electives are…well, ECLECTIC.) Needless to say I have a ton of biology, chemistry and statistic books nestled in among the mythology and esoterica.  I went through a phase where I collected books on epidemics (The 1916 flu, the Black Death, Ebola outbreaks, you name it!). Then I started picking up books on genetics, both 101 and more advanced versions of the topic. Amusing anecdote: These were all for a vampire novel I was working on at the time. It’s still on the back burner and will hopefully see the light of day, so to speak, in the future.
I also have a ton of books on the occult, supernatural and almost a library unto itself on paganism & witchcraft. (Kinda the go to area for me and the husband on the High Holidays. 😉 ) The reason I’m pointing all this out is that sometimes, the inter-webs may be the most convenient way to research things for your novel in progress, but I think we forget that we might have better sources in our home libraries, or the public libraries, or even in our own heads.
Wikipedia can be helpful, but honestly? Use it as a stepping off point. Try some books from the time period you’re writing about. If you’re looking for a neat little known fact about a place your setting your story, contact their chamber of commerce or the tourist center. Sometimes they’ll have brochures or fact booklets to add some color to your story. (Thanks to Terri Osborne for that one!)

Writing is one of those phenomenally unique endeavors where we can get source material from virtually ANYWHERE.  So I guess what I’m  suggesting is step away from the computer once & awhile and pester your local reference Librarian. Believe it or not, they actually wish MORE people would. And you might find out those old college textbooks have more interesting things in them than you remembered.

Some websites that actually have electronic copies of useful texts (Not pre-digested information) : Has an AMAZING wealth of electronic texts on almost any area of religion, spirituality and philosophy you could ask for.

Project Gutenberg Another great source of electronic texts. (nearly 30,000 books here for FREE)

Perseus Digital Library More digitized scholarly works

Medieval Sourcebook Lots of full texts from the medieval period

Sometimes reading the actual source text is more revelatory than someone else’s Cliff’s notes analysis of the text. 😉

So. Weekend is splayed out in front of me. In between going to look at bridesmaid dresses (OY!) and the usual housecleaning, I have a bunch of writing goals planned for myself. Also, next Friday is my 4th Wedding Anniversary, so I’ll be incommunicado on Friday and Saturday. Saturday night I’ll be handing out treats to the wee children. And NaNo starts on Sunday. ZOMG! I’ll be updating my wordcount here daily. Even if that’s all I post that day.

If anyone reading this wants to be a fellow masochist writing buddy, my writing handle over at the NaNoWriMo site is Fairygothmother.

NOW PLAYING: Bleeder (industrial Strength Mix by Seb) — Zombie Girl

Wow. This week has kinda sucked.

2 10 2009

Weather: High: 58º & rainy.

So I haven’t really posted much this week. Work has been a flurry of catch up and h0me life has been a rollercoaster of bad news and bad health. My whining, let me show you it.

Last night we lost power during the storm that rolled through, starting at 8:00 and finally getting it back at 5:30 this morning.  Candlelight, me sewing and my husband scribbling away in his notebook caused me to comment: “Sigh. I love the 1800s.”

The ultimate bad news was that my husband’s uncle passed away.  So we will spending a lot of time at wakes and the funeral over the next few days.

My writing brain has ground to a halt. I’m having difficulty constructing any semblance of coherent sentences. I’ve printed out the MS and am attacking it with highlighter and post-its. Re-writes were going do well… until I hit the wall.

I think in general between fighting off colds and having all this conflagration of stressful events has finally burnt out a few brain cells. The apathy has sunk it’s claws in me again. Hate when this happens. It tends to take a monumental effort to get back up out of this damn pit. I’m not wallowing, I’m just annoyed with myself.

So. Two weeks after getting the new Muse and Three Days Grace albums I’ve pretty much played them into the ground.  And I’m still not sick of either. THe music on both has proven to be good writing tuneage. Especially the 3DG album, in light of how it’s corresponding to the story re-writes that I’m doing. Coincidence? I think not.

Ah well. Gotta dash. I’m hoping that once this weekend is done and some things are settled, my mind might proffer better blog content. Bear with me folks, I’m not always such a drag. 🙂

Now playing: Three Days Grace – World So Cold
via FoxyTunes

The Music Cocoon

24 09 2009

Weather: High: 77º & cloudy. I swear, Weather Gods, you’re getting to be a broken record. I can haz 60s nao pls???

So, as you can tell from the subject line, I’m gonna wax verbosely about music AGAIN. Can’t help it folks, it’s an obsession.

As I’ve gotten older, I’m finding myself less inclined to get defensive over the music I listen to or the bands I happen to like. Not that I ever really did, mind you.  I do find, however, that I’m getting a little more easily annoyed with critics who dismiss a popular band out of hand, merely for their popularity, while trumpeting about an obscure band, merely because of their obscurity.

Music for me is always about personal taste. I honestly don’t believe anyone’s tastes trumps anyone else’s. I absolutely think that people can recommend or dismiss bands based on their personal opinion, but for anyone to state that their taste somehow supersedes all others because they can quote music theory chapter and verse? Well, they’re missing the point.

Music is not something that fits into neat little boxes.
It’s personal. It’s emotional. And therefore what resonates with one person will not resonate with another. As in most art, what music resonates for you will be what speaks to your heart, your philosophy, your culture and your experience. Joe Critic doesn’t have access to your take on those things, so his opinion, even if well informed, doesn’t have to proscribe your musical tastes or be a cause for defensiveness about what bands you follow.

My music library spans most genres, and probably contains at least 50% content that most people would describe as “guilty pleasures”.  I find that most music I listen to with any kind of frequency resonates on an emotional level for me.

When I talk about the music cocoon, I’m talking about that headspace where the music envelopes you and creates an atmosphere that completely blots out everything else.  It has little to do with volume, though loud is sometimes a good thing. 😉 It has little to do with complexity, because sometimes a simple piano ballad, if well done, can be as overwhelming as a full string section and layered harmonies.

Music is one of the few pure forms of escapism we have. It can transport you, raise your mood, give you energy, relax you or help you fall in love. It’s the literal soundtrack of our lives. Never apologize for what you listen to, and definitely never let anyone dictate what your tastes should be. You can always expand your listening horizons. Never contract them.

I love rock music as much as I love classical. And I love techno, industrial, classic rock, jazz, musicals, R&B and about every subgenre in between.  I’m a song person, rather than a band or album person, though I do have some bands that have earned my unwavering loyalty. (I’ve been a Depeche Mode fan for 25+ years!)

Ultimately, music informs pretty much every word I write in some way. I have writing mixes for particular stories and particular characters. Music molds my writing. Permeates it in a very specific way. Because I write visually, every scene plays out like a movie in my head. And all movies need music. 🙂

Music is a cocoon. Something you can wrap yourself in, lose yourself for a while, and emerge as a changed person. It’s up to you whether you allow yourself the experience and how deeply.

So excuse me. Gonna go wrap myself up in some quirky prog rock with side dish of dark alt rock and commiserate with my muses.  🙂

Now playing: Muse – I Belong To You/Mon Cœur S’ouvre À Ta Voix
via FoxyTunes

Plotholes & Con Crud & NEW MUSIC, Oh MY!

23 09 2009

Weather: High: 77º and partly sunny. WTF?! WEATHER GODS! It’s BLOODY FALL! How about some cool temps??

Have slipped in my blogging duties. Must get back into the daily habit. Though I do have a viable excuse for my recent lack of inter-webby presence. First, I’ve been fighting con crud, that lovely post convention soupςon of sinus congestion & raspy cough. Second, between bossless week, last week and teaching two a day classes this week, I’ve been a wee bit SWAMPED at work. Sigh.
So-::cracks knuckles::- Lets’ see what’s been going on in my demented world.

On the writing front, I’ve finally started the epilogue for “When the Lights Go Down“. Which is a small victory unto itself. Of course, I’ve also started some rewrites, which unearthed a rather vexing couple of plotholes. I’ve fixed the most egregious of the two, but the remaining one will require some rather fine tune adjustments throughout the manuscript to eliminate the minor mentions related to it. So…I have more work than I realized before I can get into the regular re-write function.

Also, masochist that I am, I’ve decided to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year.  I figure I can use it as a sort of writing sorbet…to cleanse the mental writing palate before heading back into rewrites. If I use it well, I might be able to bang out a novella I can shop around as well. ::checks for jacket I can hug myself all day long in:: Yep, all set. November insanity, here I come.

On the home front, Bri and I have finally started the full court press to get the house in shape for sale. We’re also starting our job hunt in Seattle in earnest. I know it’s gonna be a tough slog in this current market, but I figure, between Bri and I, we have a wealth of work experience in a variety of fields. ( I just wish I’d kept my programming chops up to speed!) .  Our current debacle is trying to finance new carpeting for the basement. (Yes, the same carpeting we yanked up last year after our mini-flood.) We need to still get the outside of the house power washed, do some touch up painting, finish the yard landscaping, and then do a few thousand cosmetic things INSIDE the house. We’re hoping to have the house on the market come March or April, with an eye towards moving in the summer. We’ll see if our best laid plans come to fruition.

Music squee:

So I’ve obtained a crapload of new music and all of it has been just amazing. First off, got the new Muse album, “The Resistance”. There aren’t words. SO FECKING AMAZING. From soup to nuts one of the most brilliant albums I’ve heard in ages.  It has echoes of Queen in it, but Muse has their unique stamp all over it. It’s prog rock, but lacking the usual pretentiousness that gets that genre mocked. It’s intelligent, and social commentary, and just massive in scope. There are straight ahead rock songs (Uprising, Resistance, MK Ultra, Unnatural Selection) , Quirky gems (I Belong To You/Mon Cœur S’ouvre À Ta Voix, Undisclosed Desires) and of course ZOMG EPIC ORCHESTRAL PIECES! (Exogenesis: Symphony parts 1-3) . It’s eminently listenable from beginning to end. And yes, it’s already embedded all over my writing mixes. (“Undisclosed Desires” has become Devon & Sara’s theme song. LOL!)
Here’s the video for “Uprising” , Zombie Teddy Bears & All!

Next I got the new Three Days Grace album, “Life Starts Now”. It BLEW ME AWAY. Seriously. These guys get dismissed out of hand by a lot of hipsters and indie critics and I just do not understand the hate.
Adam Gontier, their lead singer, has an amazing voice, and this time around, he gets to use ALL his range. The last two albums have been heavy on the dark hard rock they’ve made their trademark. This album feels a little more hopeful. And the music has just expanded creatively as well. 3DG are masters of the good stompy rock riff. They EXCEL at it. But Life Starts Now is riddled with experimental sounds, non-standard timings, pianos, strings, and harmonies using more than the standard chord structures.  My favorite songs change day to day. Yesterday I was blasting “The Good Life” with it’s AFI-like choruses and stompy bass & drum rhythms.  Today, I seem to be constantly queuing up “World Gone Cold” with it’s eerie chorusy-guitar intro and amazing vocals by Adam. (ETA: Apparently I’m not alone–the song is in the Top Ten on I-Tunes Rock singles already!)
Honestly there isn’t a bad tune on the whole damn album. The songs are brief, the longest barely nudging 5 minutes, but they’re layered thickly with sound and meaty guitar work.  Barry Stock, the lead guitarist, has put down some amazing riffs all over the album. And the rhythm work from Neil Sanderson (on drums) and Brad Walst (on bass) is sturdy, yet takes creative turns as well. There are echoes of Alice in Chains here as well, but 3DG has definitely put their own unique overlay on them, making it something entirely their own.
For a third album, it’s a fantastic step up from a band that gets less credit than it should.  (Of course, I might be a little biased, considering how much their music has played a hand in getting my book written. 😉 )
Here’s a vid of Adam talking about the recording of “Break“, the first single.

Also got the new : tatsu ep : from Faith & the Muse. Amazing as always. It’s a taster for their new album, : ankoku butoh : that will be released on Halloween this year. SO LOOKING FORWARD TO IT! (It will also come packaged with a DVD & book. Squee!)
Since there are few vids for F&TM, they posted snippets at their website.
Click here to see “Cantus”.
They’re an amazing band!

Well I think that brings us up to date. OH and I FINALLY got our Writers’ Cabal shirts made. Here’s what the logo looks like:

Writers Cabal VD

Yup. Looks wicked awesome!

Hopefully our ranks will swell. 🙂

Now playing: Three Days Grace – World So Cold
via FoxyTunes