Some of the best music I have heard in the last few weeks. Enjoy:
(I own Nothing. Thank you to the YouTube creators and artists)
***April 2012, Disclaimer. I was listening to Gotye months before the above song was being played on every top 40 station in existence. Just saying.
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
~Charles William Eliot
I received a beautiful Charles Dickens hardback for Christmas, complete with five novels. Oliver Twist, A Tale Of Two Cities, David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol (my all time favorite) and Great Expectations. The weight alone, 1483 pages, is impressive. The gilded pages and heavy dark cover indicate it’s value and overall worth in a time far past.
I also received an iPhone 4gs and with it, a storm of headaches. Half of my iTunes library, to which consists of over one thousand songs, got wiped out. Panic was quickly replaced by anger, replaced by heartbreak. My music. I can’t put into words how important it is to me. How would I replace it all? How would I even remember all of it?
An illustrated copy of Tolkien‘s The Hobbit, a hugely scaled hardback encased behind glass at a local bookstore, spoke to me. It was probably two feet in width and height, under lock and key. I wanted it the second I saw it, untouched and unowned. Books like these are treasures and meant to be treasured and adored. Now it seems they are a dying breed. I bought the book in all it’s 1977 glory.
I’m reading the fourth book in the George R. R. Martin series, A song of Fire and Ice, A Feast for Crows. I’ve been downloading them one by one onto my Nook. It occurred to me over the holidays just how upset I would be if this series, a sure to be classic in its own right, was somehow lost behind the black screen. Irretrievable. Like my music.
If I lost my novels, these treasures of mine — the thought makes me ill. I love the ease and convenience of my Nook. But what about my Dickens, my Tolkien? Is it the same if I have downloaded copies of these masterpieces?
Here’s the glitch with technology. Everything can get backed up, copied, protected. But like with my music, there are no guarantees. And even if there were, is it the same when these legendary authors are hidden behind the black screen? Not for me it isn’t. The history gets lost somewhere in the technology for me. I need the paper for these stories to remain alive and true. Weight, storage, inconvenience — all of those reasons we have to stop buying paper and start downloading — I agree with. Until we start messing with the classics. I’ll take those in all their hardback glory.
The whirlwind that the holidays become leave my head spinning and in need of normality. The trusty laptop, my Mac Pro, which I love, is my absolute savior. It’s like a loyal pet waiting at my front door as I turn the key in the lock. It shines up at me, “Where have you been?” It whirrs into beautiful illumination. The cloud lifts. My mind clears and all is right again. Ahh.
They lure me inside and force me to buy, buy, buy! Books that I should, I guess, be buying on my Nook.
Yeah, I bought one. A Nook. I failed to mention that fact about….six months ago. I broke down. Technology lulled me into its grip. Honestly, I bought one because:
1. I’m a writer and we need to stay current.
And 2. I thought for the sake of research and further education, it would serve an excellent purpose. I didn’t want to lug around a lot of books on craft and research material.
It was great at first. Then the inevitable happened. I started downloading novels. Of course I did! Do you realize the price difference? The ease of paying and BOOM, there’s your book. Waiting to be read. I love that!
But….I miss bookstores. I miss turning pages, the smell of paper, the feel of a book in my hands. I’m a reader and part of that love is meandering through bookstore isles. Browsing. Searching.
So yesterday as I continued my Christmas shopping, I found myself in Barnes and Noble. I could have only bought the two paperback books on my list, the ones for kids who don’t own ereaders. I could have gone on by only purchasing a Nook gift card for my mom, but did I?
I saw a gorgeous hardback copy of the book I intended my mom buy with that gift card on her own Nook. The soft light gleamed off the black cover, I inhaled the sweetness of paper and picked it up off the shelf. All $18.99 of it. 400 pages of…ahhhh. I had to buy it. It was calling me!
So there. My defiance toward ereaders is based on my pure love of heavily perfumed, weighted paper books. They are why I write. Why I’ve always written. Why my shelves at home are stuffed full of books I’ve read time and again. They give me a sense of pride. For myself and for every writer whose blood, sweat and tears poured into those pages.
Soon I will also join the ranks with my fellow indie, self-pubbed and trad authors with books available on every manner of ereader imaginable. But, Barnes and Noble, and all of you mom and pop bookstores and shops….you had me at hello and you’ll keep me ’til goodbye.
It was the flu. The fever crept in mid-week—after the sore throat and lack of energy sent me to bed. The fever kept me there for days.
Since my writing has been in a better place than it has in months, the timing was really bad. You see, I don’t function well when I’m ill.
The last time I was sick, really sick, was probably two years ago. Thank god for that because I kind of turn into a giant brat. I’m generally mad for the duration. And I don’t think clearly. That’s likely due to a combination of cold medicine and head congestion.
So as I’m trying to pull myself back into a productive state of mind, I’ve come up with a few motivational triggers that have helped.
Reading unlocks your brain and gets the writing current flowing again. And if you feel awful, you can read in bed.
Yeah, I know. But once your energy returns, exercise. Run, walk, whatever. It is one of the best ways to get back in the saddle.
For me this is obvious. But not for everyone. If listening to music triggers certain responses or emotions, use them. Music is great for generating ideas.
Yep. If you’re finding zero inspiration, sometimes going over your WIP with a skeptical eye is the best motivational tool.
Thankfully, my foggy head has cleared and standing for more than an hour is no longer torture. I have a lot of work to do.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Today I am going back in time a little bit to The Smashing Pumpkins and the ridiculously talented Billy Corgan. Adore, in my opinion, remains the last great album from The Smashing Pumpkins. Although Siamese Dream holds a close second, the lyrically masterful and melodic lull of Adore reigns supreme. Here are just a few of my favorites:
Live performance with Billy In Paris:
**Thank You to YouTube and the creators of these videos
This has been the most productive writing week I’ve had in months. Literally. Harnessing a writing streak however, can be an impossible task, so when it strikes, run with it. Here are some repercussions of what I call ‘writers hold.’
1. You have consumed more coffee or hot tea than your body weight.
2. Pajamas become proper work attire.
3. Your laptop has attached itself to your hand.
4. You wake up at three in the morning because your unconscious mind just unlocked the key to Chapter Ten!
5. You realize the dishes haven’t been done in days and you haven’t left the house in over 24 hours.
6. You start talking to yourself. Out loud.
7. You are in pain from the neck down.
8. You have amassed over one hundred unchecked emails and you don’t care.
9. Your blog posts become increasingly random and more sporadic.
10. You have no idea that your boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, child, roommate is talking to you.
11. You don’t know todays date.
12. And you are thankful as hell for all of these things because they spell…PRODUCTIVITY.
The best spam comment I’ve read all week:
“Call me wind because I am blown away by your post!”
Glad I could help.
Here are a few tracks I’ll be writing to this week:
**Thanks to YouTube for videos (none of which belong to me)
I am thankful for the gift of words, the gift of insight and imagination. For my love of books and the ability to spend hours reading them.
For friends who stand by me, even when they think I’ve lost my mind or disagree with every decision I make. You keep me upright.
For my family and their unyielding encouragement throughout my life. I would be lost without you.
For my health and sanity.
My ability to run again after my second round of physical therapy.
For music that vibrates my core and spills through me with every beat.
For my cherished memories of times and people past. I miss you.
For the chill of Autumns approach and the fall of red bruised leaves.
For all the gifts I cherish and hold dear in my life, I am truly grateful.
And of course for all of you who read, listen, like, comment and care about what I have to say, even when its utter nonsense. Thank You for listening.
What role does a title play in the overall feel of a book? Does it pull at your heart-strings, begging you to pick it up or is the cover more important as a draw?
Since I am now in the position of weighing my options in regard to changing my title (or clinging to it with both hands), I’ve given the whole process quite a bit of thought.
There are a good amount of book titles out there that have little or no relevance to story content. Good books. Books that I’m sure had original titles, titles that fit and worked, only to be changed in order to draw more readers.
In the YA fantasy/paranormal genre they seem more prevalent. So here’s the question: Should the title represent the story? Or should the aim of a title be to draw more readers regardless of its relevance to the book?
Example: Twilight. Stephenie Meyer intended the first book of this series to be titled FORKS. It represented the town obviously, but it also represented where Bella was in her life. Stuck at various cross-roads, trying to do the right thing, make the right decisions. Put aside the fact the we are all comfortable, and there for biased to the Twilight title, and ask yourself if it really works. Does it have any real relevance to the story? It makes a great sounding book. It fits the cover nicely. It sold millions of copies.
How about Beautiful Creatures (Darkness and Chaos), a favorite series of mine, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. These books are magical and dark and delicious. They also have a different title. The original one. SIXTEEN MOONS (and Seventeen and Eighteen). Titles that fit beautifully with the storyline. But those titles aren’t the ones we see.
How about JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? Pretty clear that her titles (and covers) could not be more perfectly matched to the story.
That all being said, I am assuming it’s the romantic paranormal side of YA that tends to fall to luring titles, regardless of story content. Pretty covers sell. Put a catchy title on that pretty cover and you just increased your odds of selling a book.
So, what do you think? Choose the title that fits the storyline and hope it appeals to your readers? Choose the title that grips you as the writer from the start? Or choose a title (and cover) that targets your genre regardless of relevance to the book?
I know, I know. Be savvy enough to meld them all (EXCEPT relevance, I can’t move past that). Just answer the question;)
My weekend task….erect the Christmas lights. I have about 75 strands in varying lengths. All in one big tangled mass. Every year I end up needing to replace about half of the stock. No matter how much I complain that this year, I’ll wind them up in neat little bundles and protect their delicate bulbs, it never happens. After the days it takes to assemble them all over my yard, the last thing I want to do is take them back down. I generally use force. Force tends to damage them, along with the brittle branches and leaves that come loose and entangled in the wires. I drop them, strand by strand, into an oversized Tupperware with the leaves and twigs still jutting out, no rhyme or reason, and every year, I end up with this:
I managed to find a few cords to plug-in for the photo. I didn’t shoot the ones still in boxes or in piles of ‘burnt out’ vs. ‘half still work’ (you can still use those) on the floor.
Have to admit though, they are so pretty all lit up. I’ve considered just hanging them like that from tree limbs. You know, like giant unorganized ornaments. They’d be beautiful at night;)
Could I be any more excited about The Muppets coming back to theaters? No, probably not. I LOVE them. I LOVE Jim Hensen. And I am thrilled that The Muppets will grace us with their hilarious and magical presence once again.
Welcome back guys;)
Here on the blog I am dedicating monday as Music Day. I will post my current playlist or songs that I feel are particularly good this week (or just the songs I’m writing/listening to). Although I love new music and try to stay current, I also love the old stuff and will be posting that as well. Thanks for listening.
PHANTOGRAM: Don’t Move
WASHED OUT: Before
FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE: Only If For A Night
FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE: Shake It Out
When I finished my first novel I tucked it way for a few weeks to simmer and set. Then my break-need set in as well. I’d completely burned myself out. I knew it was coming on for quite a while. Fast forward to a few months later, and regaining entry has proved more difficult than I expected.
There is a disconnection that happens when you leave a WIP to rest a while. The positives are seeing your piece with fresh, often scrutinizing eyes. The negatives–what you see may or may not be something you like or can even use. Not all we create will be worth a damn in terms of publication, regardless of the time spent–weeks, months–years even.
In my attempt to pick up where I left off, many aspects are working quite well, while others, I see now, must be scrapped. I shall need to rewrite my first chapter for instance. A daunting prospect as it has given me trouble since day one. I would scrap it too if I could figure out how without losing needed story elements. It just refuses to roll off my tongue in the right way. My playlists are providing some needed inspiration and with any luck will carry me through the 25 or so pages.
Any tips for re-entry after letting the novel stew a while? Ideas to trigger to inspiration?
Today I’m going to go down a slightly different post path. As the weariness of blogs by writers becomes more and more apparent, I feel the need to talk about what I’m doing as a possible means of clearing the clutter from my brain.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my WIP. That’s a good thing because a few weeks ago all I wanted to do was leave it stuffed in a drawer. I still haven’t brought myself to edit anymore or even continue working on the sequel…but I’m feeling better about moving in that direction.
This morning I drug out my old playlist for memory triggers. One of the problems with leaving a WIP for a while is coming back to it later. Finding the same inspiration you left weeks or months before isn’t a guarantee. Listening to playlists is a sure-fire way back in for me. Granted, that doesn’t mean I’ve started writing yet. Only that I’m walking the path again.
The truth is, novels take so much emotional strength to create–and sometimes I simply run out of it. Staying in a particular mind-set for weeks on end–well, let’s just say consumption isn’t always a good thing.
So after riding that dreaded bike of mine for 10 miles this morning, my brain flooded. Without a prod or push, it flowed freely. That hasn’t happened in a long while. So here it flows, onto this page. And again, I’m being guided by that voice in my head. The one that for over a year refused to shut up. It woke up. Or maybe I did. Either way, I’m closer.
Angus & Julia Stone: Down The Way–The Devil’s Tears
Broken Bells: Broken Bells–The High Road, The Ghost Inside
Silversun Pickups: Swoon–The Royal We, Draining, Catch and Release
A Silent Film: The City That Sleeps–You Will Leave a Mark
Blue Foundation: Life of a Ghost–Stained, Enemy, Talk to Me, Watch You Sleeping, Hero Across the Sky.
Placebo: Running Up That Hill
The Fray: How to Save a Life–Look After You
Washed Out: Life of Leisure–Feel It All Around, New Theory
Temper Trap: Conditions–Sweet Disposition
Just to name a few triggers that helped to unlock the vice this morning.