Sunday, August 25, 2013

Keys and the Keyboard

A lot of people use music while writing. Veronica Roth, author of Divergent and Insurgent and the upcoming release Allegiant, does quite frequently. She actually posted her playlist in the back of her books during a Q&A session.
Can I just pause to say that this girl was 24 when her book was published?
Plus, she's so humble and down to earth about her success. If interviews are
to be believed, and I believe them, she is an incredible woman who definitely
hasn't let all this hype and success change her. It's a shame when that happens.
She also listens to a lot of Flyleaf. Awesome.


It's those authors that make you go, "wow, I bet they're tons of fun to hang out with", that I really love. People say that about me all the time. Right?

Photo: Workouts are going great, despite my lack of free time. Although, when I agreed to try the new "Hairy Chest 3000" regimen, I was unaware how literal the advertisement was.



Actually, that's Bella, and she looks like the stuffed fox that shows people the Car Fax. Currently, as I'm writing this, she's licking my big toe. I cannot fathom what appeal that offers to her, but whatevs. It's a free toe-licking house over here. To an extent. Actually, it's not. Never mind.

Yes, I get I'm not funny. Why can't I just ever have my moment? Angst, damn, and blast it, why can't I be interesting?

Okay, so, perhaps I'm not as awesome as Veronica Roth. But there's more to being an author than standing around with our colorful bombast and waiting for worldwide praise, which is something she and I, and a lot of other people, totally get. (Although, does using the word bombast in a sentence actually make me somewhat bombastic? I'm not sure. That's troubling.)

Anyway, what Veronica Roth and I also get is the influence music has on mood while writing emotional or action-packed scenes. She writes to Flyleaf and a lot of other really intense songs, and I agree with her methods. Now, sometimes silence is an author's best friend, as is Scotch, but other times I just pace and listen to music to get inspired. Then I write while the song continues on loop. This happens a lot. So much so that I'm surprised I haven't eroded the floor and fallen through the basement ceiling.

There's so much good music out there, but I've narrowed down my choices to a couple songs I adore.

This song is perfect. In the Twined series, a plethora of betrayals rocks the heroes' worlds. The initial piano introduction, coupled with the somber, hopeless tone and the line, "felled in the night by the ones you think you love", perfectly captures the sadness when you realize that sometimes, you put people in positions where they can hurt you... and they take it. Trusting is scary at times, we all know that.

This woman. ARGH. LOVE HER. Again, she seems like a hell of a good time. Her messages are always so wonderful. Sara's songs "King of Anything" and "Love Song" have been my favorites since she poked her head into my life back in, like, 2008. This cheerful, dance-like-nobody's-watching salute to bravery conveys the kind of message The Fainting Goats needs to get across. It's hard to frown when you're already smiling. I've heard rumors that she wrote this song to help a friend of hers come out. If that's true, another round of applause for this woman. I have plenty of friends who have faced this issue, and I supported them the best I knew how. Sometimes, all that's left is to lose yourself in something. Preferably funky street dancing.

I like different versions of popular songs. That temple-pounding hit of Zedd's is really popular right now. That's why I love the vulnerable sound of the acoustic "Clarity". It's amazing how tempo change and piano can take the same lyrics and melody and convey a totally different feeling. The original song I would save for a motivational scene in my book, where the characters' goals are near accomplished and they're parading forward despite the hardships. This version is more akin to a bittersweet scene of remembrance. Again, brilliant songs and brilliant material has been birthed from their influence. So cool.

Lana's voice has always been haunting. The latest song she's done, "Young and Beautiful", can be found on The Great Gatsby soundtrack. It's sad that The Great Gatsby was Fitzgerald's magnum opus, yet he died thinking he was a failure. This song emphasizes eerie tones and runs more than anything, and tells a hypnotic, swaying tale about love and sadness in summertime. "Summertime Sadness" is amazing, and helps me write scenes with a strange detachment, where the messages of my work lean a bit more towards the ambiguous side. If Scott could see his work now... 

"Booty Swing". When I told my friends I constantly listened to a song called "Booty Swing" while writing a certain book, they asked, "How many sex scenes does that novel HAVE?" In response, I let them listen to the song. In a magical blend of old and new, "Booty Swing" is absolutely what I need when my books crave a little spice. The upbeat tempo and catchy beat makes my writing flow. I listen to this song at least once per book.

Well, there's still a lot of work to do today. I'll pop my iPod in, or a CD if I'm feeling old school, and get to it. So many ideas, so little time. I suppose that's an ideal problem to have, isn't it? Thank god I haven't yet dealt with the alternative. That would drive me mad.

Get your creativity revving, listen to a song, dance in public, and don't let your dog lick your big toe. Talk to you soon. Best wishes.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Full Time Writing

Seriously, this feels good.
So, thanks to a long sought after myriad of good fortunes, I've been given the opportunity to quit my oppressive, degrading job (seriously, half of the plot points in the Scarlett's sequel are inspired by just how shitty some people can be, which both saddens me and works somewhat in my favor on an unfortunate note. Also, on a side-ish note, I guess I just confirmed the Scarlett's sequel. More on that later.) in favor of staying at home and writing twenty four seven so that I may catch up on the progress my job has hindered.

This is a day of joyous praying mantis celebration.

If I can be sincere, the job was pretty horrible. Things are tough nowadays, and I understand that. I'm realistic. Many times I've sat down and reminded myself to have multiple plans reserved in case this author dream of mine doesn't work out, and I'm not cocky enough to assume success is guaranteed. My roommate and I both worked at the same store. He held a management position. So I stayed employed there a year past my limit in order to help him get the store back into shape, considering he didn't inherit the establishment at its prime. I put a lot of work in that place, did a lot of things that a peon at my pay standard wouldn't do, and after I was taken advantage of and cheated out of five raises, I just had to find another job somewhere else.
I still felt guilty. My buddy was so miserable, as were so many of my friends who work there, that I had to stick around as long as I could take it. For their sake. But eventually, you have to look out for your own happiness. When I was walking out the door, he said, "Listen, we've got some bills paid off. Extra income is coming in, and we've monitored the finances. We're stable. In return for your help, I'm willing to work for a while and cover our bills... so you can stay at home and write."

And my jaw hit the floor. Was he being serious? He was. As a now twenty-year-old author who is barely breaking through the surface in the self-publishing world, I have been given the greatest gift someone in my position could ever ask for. The stability needed to focus exclusively on your dreams in order to make them a reality. My friend is giving me the greatest gift while sacrificing his happiness, just as I did for him. I'd never expected this sort of gift. That's where this piece from the Scarlett's sequel came from.

  Jaime's breathing nearly ceased entirely. She'd never been so high up before. Heights. Dizziness. With only feeble-looking metal beams warding off death by descent. Roller coasters embodied everything she feared as a free-spirited girl. A ride to a set destination, an on-the-rails ordeal--a terrible journey where she could not choose her own path. Her hands gripped the front bar even tighter, if that were possible.
      "Keep your eyes open," Brady said, nudging her with his elbow. With all the coma-inducing panic, she forgot this nightmare was a partnered affair. "You'll learn something."
      "What could I possibly learn from this?" she asked in a pitiful voice, her eyes remaining shut. "This is a fear of heights. Acrophobia. Additional terminology includes altophobia, batophobia, hypsiphobia, aeroacrophobia, which may prove more appropriate since the latter term applies to a fear of high-up open places in general--"
      "Jaime, enough. Stop analyzing everything and just open your eyes."
      "I'm fine the way I am."
      "Are you?" he asked. "Are you happy where you are in life?"
      The question startled her. It was the same thing she asked herself every night during her 3 a.m. reflection. It was the same question she could never truly admit the answer to. Until now.
      "No." What was it about terrifying heights that could make a person so truthful? "No. I'm not. And I'm scared to admit that because if I'm not happy, then that means I must have done something wrong. I am terrified that nothing in this career path is guaranteed. Now that I finally have what I've always wanted, friends, I'm wasting priceless moments that I could be spending with them on some venture that may or may not be worthwhile. Lastly, I am so very terrified of regretting my choices. I am terrified of always waking up at 3 a.m."
         Through the sound of clanking, Jaime felt a sharp upward pull. Her heart dipped back towards her shoulder blades as the cars tilted upwards, climbing the mountain of regret she had forged in her mind. Sweat formed at her temples, nearly cooled in an instant by the chilly winds.
      Brady said, "You look around and see the people who hold equal pieces of your heart sacrificing everything for your dreams. You see Ashton, Meg and the others all fighting tooth and claw to survive, fighting to help you deliver your potential to the world. And you're right, that fear of failing them is a terrifying thing to withhold."
      "What if I've made the wrong choice, Brady?" Jaime asked, eyes still shut. "When you choose one path, you forfeit a million others. What if I chose the wrong one in a million?"
       "These people are willing to do anything for you, dedicating every moment of their lives to the Jaime Williams cause. If we had more tickets left, they'd be right on this coaster with us, riding every step of the way by our side. But it isn't the ride that tells you where to go. You can help your friends reach the places they need to be. It's in your hands now. It has always been."
      Could that be true? Yes. Jaime saw it now. Everything she'd done, from falling into that depressed funk, letting the restaurant take over Bryant's life, buckling under instead of rising strong, those were all her decisions. She gave those hardships her blessing. And now, Jaime wouldn't be the only one who would pay the consequences, should she give up and let the tribulations take her.
      Her friends had just as much to lose. Have sacrificed too much for her to topple under pressure.
      "I don't know if that's inspiring or terrifying," whispered Jaime.
      She felt the pressure leave her body. Now, the feeling was weightlessness. She was at the top of the mountain, the peak of the ride. It was up to her to keep her eyes closed, or...
      "To be a successful author," said Brady, "a successful person, you must feel equal parts inspiration--"
      Jaime opened her eyes. The roller coaster had peaked to reveal the layout of the town of Heightway against a beautiful pink and light lavender sky.
      "--and fear."
      The nose of the car dipped, hurtling downward. The wind screamed, the sound of her accelerated heartbeat booming in her ears. Faster and faster, unpredictable, a rush of life so intense it could raise the dead and breathe joyous vivacity into saddened bones. No more feeling worthless and wallowing neck-deep in the mucky swamps of doubt. It was time to take life in her hands. It was time to forge a path filled with verve and friendship. Because some dreams were meant for sharing.
      Jaime's eyes stayed open for the remainder of the ride. And at one point, she even let go of the bar.

I have named this sequel The Fainting Goats. After I re-edit the first Scarlett's and the first Twined, the latter of which will now come included with the short back story called "The Scion's Ascension", which features a young Cisaro and how he took over as the head of a very prestigious Twined Family.

Once the edits are finished, I will be moving forward with posts, updates, and continue writing The Fainting Goats, Dead No More, Utopius, and a Twined side-story called Intertwined.

For now, I am free to pursue writing as a full-time career and I'm very grateful. I won't waste this opportunity. You guys have reacted positively to this news so far, so thanks again for the continued support.

Best wishes,