Ready, set, NaNoWri- , er, NaNoEdMo

*Crawls out of first draft slag.*

Suffice to say neither January nor February went according to the revision plan, but that’s the good thing about being an unpublished, un-contracted writer – you determine the deadline. If you need more time to fix the story, or talk yourself off the “All these words are complete shit” cliff about fifty times, you have it.

Finding a revision process that works for me has been the most frustrating thing. I’ve littered my desk with scene cards, post-its, notebooks, and craft books. I still don’t know if any of that will do any good, but hey, at least I’ve got a more cohesive, concise outline! I’ll just have to throw myself off the deep end and figure out what works. Much like drafting.

And to help kick me into the pool’s edge, NaNoEdMo begins tomorrow! It’s similar to NaNoWriMo, only it’s for editing/revising rather than drafting, and the goal is 50 hours rather than 50,000 words. Granted, 50 hours doesn’t sound like a lot… until you’re staring down the barrel of a character who won’t cooperate. Now, I’m not very good at making and sticking to my own writing goals, but NaNo’s have always worked for me. So thank heavens NaNoEdMo has a similar suggested structure. Just a touch over 1.5 hours a day for 31 days will get you to 50 hours. Substantial rewrites, grammar/spelling errors, and the like all count as acceptable “edits” for the event.

If you’d like to join me in revision nightmares funtimes, you can sign up at http://nanoedmo.com/ .
** If you have problems registering, contact the Webmaster (see Contact Us page) and he can help set you up.

 

See you all after the first breakdown! Har har har….

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2014 / 2015 Housekeeping – Pt. 1

Let’s just say I’ve fallen behind on putting up book reviews. I mean, behind. We’re talking 10 books from 2014 and 3 from 2015 – by release date, because I’m pretty sure I read more than three books this year…

Anyway, in the spirit of moving to a new year, time to get those puppies done! *Note – may be some spoilers in the reviews, so be warned!

 

1). Crimson Son by Russ Linton – A superhero story that doesn’t center on the super hero, Spencer is the son of Crimson Mask (the world’s most powerful augment), but doesn’t have any powers. Spencer’s one part cynic and two parts hormonal teen, which made connecting with him a bit of a struggle. The pacing, at times, seems to drag despite the urgency of Spencer’s quest. But the extended list of characters, from Hurricane and Hound to the Black Beetle himself, help round him out. It’s a story of survival, finding the truth, and, in a way, coming home. The truth and reality Spencer gets in the end aren’t butterflies and rainbows, but it’s enough for him to begin to heal.
Rating – 3.5

 

2) Premonitions by Jamie Schultz – I don’t know whether to call this a supernatural heist book, or maybe just urban fantasy heist? In any case, it was a fun read. Getting to know Karyn and co. takes a bit of time. There’s kind of an obligatory typecasting – there’s a silent guy who serves as the muscle, a magic-user who’s a bit more neurotic, Karyn as the leader and pre-cognitive Ace-in-the-hole. And then you have Anna. I still don’t know what Anna’s purpose is, other than a foil to Karyn and possibly the main gun. Strange to say, the highlight of the book is Karyn’s addiction. To keep her pre-cog abilities from rendering her to a comatose state, Karyn has to take an illegal drug called Blind. Her source dries up at the time shit is really hitting the fan. Seeing Karyn’s breakdown and flight from her team hit all the right notes. Her struggle is what brings the book together, and whether she gives in or overcomes it, well… you’ll just have to read!
Rating- 3.5

 

3) Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier – As always, Juliet is a master of elegant prose and fantasy with a historical feel. Blackthorn and Grim are two unlikely companions, but work well together. The premise promises to be interesting throughout the series –  saved from execution by the Fae, Blackthorn must give help to anyone who asks. If she can do this for seven years, she’ll get her revenge on the very man who imprisoned her in the first place.  Her first task is to help save a company of women nearly drowned in a local pool. It turns out one of them is betrothed to a local prince, and when she doesn’t fit the mold or personality he expected, he elicits Blackthorn’s help too.  It’s not a heart-pounding pace, and sometimes Blackthorn’s attitude makes it difficult to sink completely into the story, but has a happy ending typical of Marillier’s work – somebody ends up happy, but maybe not the titular character.
Rating – 3.8

 

4) Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews – This is the one we’ve been waiting for, guys! The book where we finally get to meet Roland, Kate’s notorious father who eats, sleeps, and breathes magic – and it lives up to the hype, though in a different way than expected. Kate is as sharp and sarcastic as ever as she tries to unravel the mystery of who actually killed a Master of the Dead. Hugh returns, still a giant pain in the ass. Packed with action, sprinkled with a few dark moments, and we get to see more of what’s in store if Kate fails against her father. It didn’t hit me as hard as Magic Slays or Magic Rises, but from this point, the clock starts ticking to when Kate will have to actually fight her father.
Rating – 4

 

5) The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley – Wow – this one was a ride. Plant magic, parallel worlds converging, and gender-bending societies made this a helluva standout in epic fantasy. The multiple POVs lend well to the broad scope of the problem – to the worlds converging and the threatened destruction/subjugation. Though Lilia is a problem child, she promises to be more important as Oma grows closer in the sky (meaning book 2, Empire Ascendant). Parts of the book reminded me of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness in the way Hurley deals with gender identification and roles. The ending did feel a bit rushed, and not as clear as it needed to be in explaining what Lilia was doing. That said, it’s a refreshing addition to the epic genre.
Rating –  4

Side note: Hurley is one of the writers whose blog you should be following if you aren’t already. She gives bluntly honest, down-to-earth insight on her struggles and successes as a writer. Especially great for young writers or aspiring writers who think they’re going to make it big with one book and then not need to have a day job to support their writing.

 

6) Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews – Woooo buddy I needed a cold drink after this one. This new series by Ilona and Gordon promises to be a scorcher. They build another impressive world where magic is hereditary, and houses form out of the families with the greatest abilities. Nevada is good at being a private eye, helping keep her family afloat so they don’t lose their home and livelihood. Even though she gets in over her head, she does what’s necessary to level the playing field. She’s not a chosen one. She doesn’t come from a great house. She doesn’t get rescued. She’s headstrong, but not in the same way as Kate from the Kate Daniels series. With Mad Rogan in the mix, I can’t wait to see the fireworks in the future books.
Rating – 4.5

 

7) Clariel by Garth Nix (biggest letdown of 2014)

Nix’s Old Kingdom books were probably the biggest reason/inspiration I got into writing. The world is so different from the standard dragons and wizards; magic is free, potent, and dangerous not just to the living, but the dead as well. There are gates in death, and those who die aren’t truly at rest until they pass beyond the final one. I hoped Clariel, would give a greater picture of the Old Kingdom before the Great Charter Stones were broken with royal blood, before the role of Abhorsen became incredibly important. I guess it does, to some extent, but fails to explain any of it. Clariel is unlikeable throughout the whole story; she has virtually no arc or development. She continuously ponders about ditching her parents’ ambitions and living in the forest as a ranger, yet does nothing about it. The plot is shallow, and the antagonists’ motives/plans are so easy to read it’s honestly like watching Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith all over again. But those things, really, aren’t the biggest letdown – that award goes to the world building. The story takes place mostly in Belisaere, with Clariel’s mother taking position there in some respect to her goldcraft. Very, very little is done with respect to building up the guilds, their history, and their importance to the city and King. Basically all the magic and wonder created in the other Old Kingdom books is completely missing here. It’s just unpleasant all the way around.
Rating – 2

 

8) The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (favorite of 2014)

Part historical, part suspense, and with what seems like a speculative element thrown in – it’s an unusual, but fantastic combination. Nella begins as a romantic hoping her new husband will love her, and by the end she’s no token wife. She truly becomes a head of the household, at least what’s left of it. The miniatures are as stunning as the writing is beautiful. And I still don’t know who the miniaturist is! What floors me, though, is how much this book brings to mind British and American literature taught in late high-school and undergrad. Oddly, it reminds me of Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler. But better, way better than the Dickens, Chopin, and the like taught in college. Seriously a fantastic read,  and I can’t wait to read Burton’s The Muse coming out later this year.
Rating – 4.8

 

No, I didn’t count wrong. The other five reviews will be put up in the next week (probably while I’m procrastinating revisions). Maybe I’ll stop letting them get so out of control this year!

 

Read on, write on, eat cake. Happy New Year!

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Life Lessons – the dentist

If you have a bad experience with a dentist, don’t wait more than a year to find a new one. Especially don’t wait five.

Short story time!

My first root canal (~5 years ago) went poorly. I received no pain medicine ahead of time, and they had to numb me three times before I could no longer feel the drill digging through an old filling. After the roots were out, the dentist felt the need to marvel at them with the assistants while I sat patiently angrily waiting. When it came time for the permanent crown a few days or maybe a week later, they filed or drilled down a healthy tooth on the top to get the crown to fit.

Needless to say I never went back.

About five years and one checkup later and I now need:

-wisdom teeth out(granted, knew this was coming)
-two root canals

And that’s just what they’ve highlighted as the most pressing issues to take care of. Knowing my history with cavities, if I’d gone sooner they probably could’ve gotten by as just needing fillings.

I do brush and floss, I swear. Some people are just more prone to cavities, and other people more susceptible to gum issues.

If nothing else, the new dentist and hygienist we’re going to now seem to be wonderful. They explained everything, assuaged my worries about the wisdom teeth, and didn’t bombard us with every little thing wrong – just the most urgent issues. For tomorrow’s root canal, I’m optimistic that it’ll be a much smoother and less painful process.

 

So yeah, don’t put off dental healthcare, it’ll just come back to bite you in the ass later.

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Crimson Peak / Writing Epiphany

I was going to review Crimson Peak… until fellow DFWCon-er Rachel put up this post. She hits every point I could’ve possibly hoped to make, then adds a frigate full of sad-eyed kittens. Take for example –

I’d like to draw your attention to one other point that I didn’t notice until my second viewing, but when I did, it broke my damn heart. At the beginning, when Thomas takes Edith to the party and convinces her to dance with him, he says: “I’ve always closed my eyes to things that make me uncomfortable. It makes them easier.” Consider that for a moment in light of the abuse the man’s faced at the hands of his sister. And then consider the two times we see him in a sexual situation, with Edith he had his eyes open, and for all the animalistic sounds we hear leading to when he’s caught in the act with Lucille, he doesn’t.

I. Can’t. Even.  *Looks at Thomas Sharpe and mourns.* Damn you, Hiddleston, look what you’ve done to us!

Long story short – I loved the movie. Loved. The moth-eaten manse of Crimson Peak is creepy, yet stunning. Creaks and groans, red clay oozing from the walls, corridors framed with dagger-like protrusions. At first the spirits act like the trailers want you to believe – on the periphery, meant to scare or harm Edith. Which is a shame, because I spent way too much time (like a lot of people, I suspect) waiting for when the ghosts would do more, instead of absorbing the character turmoil on the screen.

Thomas, Lucille, and Edith, it turns out, are exactly what I needed to understand why my current WIP felt off.

(Okay, you got me. It was mostly Thomas.)

Up until this October, I had the worst time with my story’s MC (main character). From day one she’s felt more like a canvas I splattered with attributes and shallow feelings than a genuine human. I tried character questionnaires, and uncovered the parts of her back story pertinent to the story to no avail. It always seemed like my answers were forced on her. She makes it through each plot point, but there are times when I can’t tell if it’s because of her agency or my authorial hand pushing her through them.

Added to this was the sense that I needed to make the story darker somehow, and not knowing how to go about it.

Cue Thomas and Lucille, characters extraordinaire. The slow reveal of wicked things they’ve done to survive, glimpsing where those dark roots took hold and how they flourished to an eventual, likely unavoidable, fall. Their back story amounts to little more than breadcrumbs, but we don’t need to be shown more – their habits, motivations, and actions can easily be traced down that rabbit hole. Therein lay my answer, and also, the realization how desensitized I (and maybe we, as a nation) have become in our little bubble known as America.

I mean, how fucked up is that my mind went to some kind of magic event/apocalypse or making the world dystopic just to send the story on a darker path? There’s so much violence and hate in the world as it is… without any magic or other supernatural bullshit involved. People end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Each day is a tragedy for somebody, whether it’s a car accident caused by a drunk driver or a kid accidentally suffocating him/her self trying to do some new fad stunt to fit in.

Needless to say, the events around the world since I started this post 1.5 months ago reinforce part 1 of the epiphany – the source material or “inspiration” needed to darken my fictional world already exists. I don’t need to make something else up when people are far too cruel to one another already.

For part 2 – as will happen with epiphanies, I can’t really put into words -why- it clicked on a character level. All I know is that after seeing Crimson Peak, I understand my MC. She isn’t just a skeleton. She’s not whole either, but she feels much more real and separate from my own self now than she ever did. Once I started seeing her as a person, shaped by her past, present, and her goals for the future, she started answering the questions I had for her. She is more cohesive in my mind, more apparent (I think) in the narrative. The choices made in regards to obstacles (plot) feel more like what she would do and less like me pushing her in the right direction.

Granted, all of this came about after I finished up the 1st draft of book one. So I’ve been putting this newfound insight to practice for book two (my 2015 NaNoWriMo project), but this also means extensive edits for book 1.

*Sighs. Buys all the coffee.*

 

If there is one moment in Crimson Peak where, I think, the epiphany on creating whole and real characters took hold, it would be when Thomas has to break Edith’s heart. It’s a cliché moment – he crushes her romantic ideals for the two of them so her father won’t reveal Thomas’s secret – but then veers from the stereotype. Thomas asks her what she knows of love and goes on to berate her overly optimistic, childish view of it, yet it’s almost like he’s speaking to himself. Like he’s afraid of the spark Edith ignited in him – warm, bright, the promise of acting in his own interests. This is a completely alien concept compared to the love Lucille has shown. And as much as he fears Edith finding out their secret, he’s more afraid of the change she offers. She rattles his core foundations. Doesn’t Lucille know what’s best? Hasn’t she protected him all this time?

His emotions aren’t just stemming from having to break Edith’s heart, but because he knows the bleak course he will return to without having her in his life.

 

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Meatballs

I have a confession to make – I love my crock pots.

There’s nothing more relieving than throwing a bunch of stuff in a slow cooker, doing nothing to it for the next six or eight hours, and then getting a complete meal or side dish out of it. Perfect for the lazy or those who have more productive ways to spend their time.

Part of my NaNo prep this year was finding ways to spend that free time more wisely. Over the last year I discovered I didn’t set enough boundaries for my writing time. So I fixed that – made a schedule, ran it by the husband, and bam. Writing time protected whilst still making time for chores and snuggling furkids.

I would’ve cut workout days too but alas, I’m doing pretty well on all the weights and it gets me out of the house. Massive amounts of free time + me = more ways to procrastinate and make excuses. I apparently need some kind of pressure other than just a word count goal, and leaving the other parts of my routine in place helps that feeling of having to fight for writing time.

Thinking about exercise led me to food. Workout days felt especially tight and stressful having to cook something after getting back from the gym. Hour at the gym, hour for dinner, then cleaning up, showering… it cut into my writing time pretty regularly.

Crock pot meals became the perfect solution.

Honestly, crock pot dishes are great for any week that’s going to be hectic.  I usually make a double batch of whatever recipe, ending up with ten to fifteen Tupperware containers worth of dinners for the rest of the week. Chili and pot roast are our go-to dishes. We’ve done pulled pork before too, but it takes a bit more manual labor than just portioning everything out to containers.

Of the three recipes I picked for NaNo this year, my favorite dish is one that will be on our menu probably every month. Behold- Honey Garlic Meatballs!

I kid you not, this is the best slow cooker recipe I’ve found to date, so I have to share. It knocks chili out of the water. Massacres pot roast and pulled pork. Makes potato soup look like thin and milky gruel. And no, that’s not because my recipes for those other dishes are bad – the meatballs are just so good.

They’re savory, a little sweet, and the garlic scent is mouthwatering. (If you don’t like garlic, I feel sorry for you.)

It’s pretty cheap to make, too, for as many meatballs as you get. You can get 32oz bags of frozen meatballs for $7.99/bg at Kroger. Many of the flavor additives are probably already in your cupboard. So let’s round up – for $20 you get a giant crock full of meatballs. Make a big batch of mashed potatoes (also an easy crock pot dish!) or rice to go with it, and you’ve got dinner (plus some lunches) that will likely last you a full week.

They’re great for work potlucks too, just sayin’.

So, for anyone in the final throes of NaNoWriMo fighting for ways to optimize your time – look into doing batch meals like this. Many of the recipes take 30 min or less to get going in the crock, and then you don’t have to worry about cooking for close to a week. Spending an hour for dinner per day may not sound like much, but when you consider that half of that time(maybe more) is often just cooking the meal, there’s a good chance stress will manifest just from other everyday things. Seeing how dirty the counters are, dishes piled in the sink, floors needing to be swept, TPS reports due… and feeling like it all falls on your shoulders alone. A crock pot meal won’t necessarily solve those other stressors, but it may keep them from being triggered in the first place.

 

What time saving practices did you put into action for NaNo? What are your favorite slow cooker recipes?

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NaNoWriMo – Week One

So it’s that time of year again. No, not the time of pumpkin spice everything and Uggs, but for NaNoWriMo. (For more info on NaNo, you can go here.) This is my second year participating, and I am loving it. Of course, I decided to do this year a bit differently by actually prepping in October. Said prepping led to accepting that I’ve done a piss-poor job on the world-building side of this project from the get go. The remedy will be an ongoing process that will require numerous edits and drafts to fix. Book one is a serious problem child, but it’s on the back burner for now.

What is this year’s NaNo project? Why, it’s book two of my urban fantasy series project. I started book one in last year’s NaNo, and finished up the draft just a couple months ago. I think I’ll be able to get book two drafted in a shorter span, though we’ll see how that goes when I dive back into revisions of book one.

Anyway, so far take #2 of NaNo has been a fun experience. The world and characters are starting to make more sense. I’ve been very adamant about my writing time, and it’s paid off (except for yesterday, thanks to a trip to an Irish pub and general exhaustion). I reached my highest daily words written today – 4588! Having NaNo start on a Sunday -Daylight Savings to boot – also paid dividends; I stayed up til midnight, got some words in, then continued on in the later afternoon, to the tune of 2500+ words for opening day.

Not going to lie, ending up with 4 – 6.5 hours a sleep several nights on end isn’t easy. But late at night is the best time for consistent writing that I’ve found. Until I can make a new pattern that results in similar productivity earlier in the day, it’ll stay that way.

 

Some things that have helped make this first week a success:

  1. better understanding of the MC and world I’m trying to make. (This ties into my Crimson Peak review/epiphany post that is still in-progress)
  2. a short list of scenes I know I want in the book, or at least want to write
  3. new music thanks to Spotify (spurred on by Delilah Dawson’s post on finding new music; I too had the same issue with using Pandora, but no longer!)
  4. asking a friend to give me an idea what to write and ditching it, but coming up with a plausible alternative that spider webbed outward
  5. coffee
  6. jotting down ideas, or at least thinking about the story every day (especially at work)

 

Short of the pre-NaNo meet and greet that was held by our local chapter a couple weeks ago, I haven’t gone to any write-ins. It makes me feel pressured – to be funny or charismatic, to write something off the top of my head. It’s an odd feeling and I don’t know how to tell my brain to stop, so I’ve just stayed home. Even though the cats bite my toes and plop in my lap to mess with my earbuds, the writing space finally feels like my zone. I’m in my groove. Characters are working. Things are breaking. The story is stitching itself together like a hodge-podge quilt.  That’s not to say I don’t get out and socialize with other writers, but that it takes me a long time to feel comfortable. And the more people you throw in that pot, the longer it’s going to take me to reach that point. Maybe towards week three or four I’ll try a write-in, but at the moment it just feels like a bad idea to divert from the pattern and expect the results will be less than stellar.

 

Anyway, week one tally: 15123 words. I’m ahead of NaNo’s goal by one day, and have been toying with the idea of trying to get to 60k instead of 50k by the end. It’s a stretch, I think, but would only take a bit over 2k / day to reach it. Hard, yes; do-able, I think so. Just have to keep writing with reckless abandon.

Its all going to be crap when it’s over, but there will be nuggets in there somewhere, too.

 

Are any of you out there doing NaNoWriMo? How’s it going? What are your steps to success, or, what do you feel like is pulling you down? Need any musical inspiration? I’m all ears, let me hear what’s going on with ya!

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Finished (first) draft stats

Draft one/book one of the UF project is done. It’s not perfect; the plot has little tears in its seams, and the main character continues to feel not quite right. But it’s done! The long slog to draft two (and three, and … however many more it takes) will follow after NaNoWriMo.

For now, though: STATS!

 

Word tallies:

  • NaNoWriMo 2014: 50,017 words
  • personal FebNoWriMo = 36,947 words
  • CampNoWriMo June = 12,131 words (this is what I actually logged on the site, but the file itself and the count sheet I used both have a decent variance from this number)
    Final count: *113k words

*About 5k worth of bonus scenes aren’t included in the total, and another couple thousand scenes’ worth were taken out that will be moved to book two.

 

Timeline:

  • conceptualized – Oct 2013
  • CH1 written/submitted to NTSFW in Feb 2014
  • made NaNoWriMo goal 2014 (50k words)
  • came up short of secondary NaNo goal (goal was 40k in February)
  • made CampNaNoWriMo goal (12k words)
  • wrote another 20kish July – September
  • 1st draft finish Sept. 24, 2015
  • concept –> 1st draft = less than 2 years
  • actual “drafting” phase (NaNo) –> 1st draft = less than 1 year

 

Just a refresher, it took ten (that’s right, TEN) years to finish the first draft of my epic fantasy, which weighed in at 128k words. That the UF took less than a year (depending on how you look at it) to draft, and is only 15k words short from that is kind of mind-boggling. If you had told me two or three years ago that I could draft a full novel in a year or less, I would have smiled and nodded, but inwardly been like Yeah right, there’s no way I can write that much in a year!

Finding a process that works to get the words down on the page makes all the difference.

 

Any burning questions about the drafting stage of this project? Any other numbers or stats you’d like to see? Want to know what song I played on repeat the most during this endeavor? Ask away!

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Writing with Music: A Careful Dance

Okay everybody, it’s that time again. Curse these stinkin’ Mondays, making you WORK. And now I’m going to make you do more. No rest for the wicked, no rest for the writer.

Fine, you can have one margarita before you start. ONE.

 

This week’s theme is: A Careful Dance. Today’s music courtesy of Lindsey Sterling –

 

Some prompt ideas:

– a character must tango, literally or figuratively, with someone they perceive as an enemy

– a thief steals something, is spotted, now must run for their freedom and/or life

– space freighter captain navigating through enemy airspace, barking commands at his or her crew while trying to keep the ship and cargo intact

 

For me, the song seems like it would fit a historical piece or section, especially if the character or mood needs to be a little sassy. Whether it’s a young woman who has to dance with a proposed suitor at a ball to make her guardian happy, or a sky-captain grappling onto another airship in a surprise attack, this song should work for both character or plot-driven scenes.

Again, don’t spend all your writing time today/tomorrow doing this. Ten to fifteen minutes, just enough to get your juices flowing. To grease your brain gears for your own project. To spark an idea. Seriously, there is no pressure! I won’t even tell my hundred-plus ponies if you didn’t do it.  I will tell the cat, though. He’s not so forgiving. He’ll be all up on your face wondering why you weren’t feeding him if you weren’t writing, either.

Enjoy!

 

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Writing with Music: Going Dark

While I haven’t talked much about my actual writing process, one thing is almost always a constant – music.

Music lets me see, hear, breathe the atmosphere I’m trying to get across on the page. It helps me pace a scene, lengthening sentences to build tension, or speeding up when a character is about to get into trouble. Sometimes, a song will crystallize a character or event so perfectly, that the rest of the scene flows around it like it has a life of its own.

TL;DR – If you’re having problems getting into a scene, or suffering from blank page syndrome, listening to music can be a good way to help you visualize the section and get started.  Don’t believe me? Well, it’s time to experiment!

 

Here’s how this works – I’ll post a link to a song on Youtube, along with a couple of prompts or ideas to get you started. This is not necessarily to make you write more, but to get your brain juices flowing. If it turns into a new idea you want to flesh out later, great! Practice is perfect, and this is just another method to help get the practice in. Think of it as a writing prompt.

I have some… eclectic musical tastes. Even if the song I post isn’t your style, it should jog your memory enough to spit out one that’s more your speed while making you think about the same mood/atmosphere/tone.  *Sometimes I may post a second song; this isn’t to make you do two exercises, but so you have another option if the main song is too heavy/crude for you.

Ready? Let’s go!

 

Vacuity by Gojira

(Side note: I personally don’t like the bridge that follows the second chorus, so I usually just repeat the first two minutes)

 

The theme this week is Going Dark. Here are some sample prompts:

– write a scene where a monster or beast hunts a victim; alternatively, a scene where a character is fleeing something/someone

– a scene where your antagonist (or protagonist!)  gets his/her hands dirty

– someone watching a violent storm or other act of god approaching a shore, destroying an island village, or ripping through a city

 

*Alternate video – Animal I Have Become by Three Days Grace

 

Take five or ten minutes, and see what you come up with. Where does the song take you? What kind of scene did you write? In that scene, what does the character (or narrator) see, hear, smell, taste, feel? Did you get a sense of urgency or anger? Or did the song(s) bring out an atmosphere of fear or foreboding?

I hope this helps, at least to spur some new ideas if it doesn’t warm you up for a work-in-progress. Remember, too, that whatever you jotted down doesn’t have to be perfect, shouldn’t be perfect. Draft quickly, cut it all up and sew it back together later.

Since I’m the instigator of this, I’ll share a snippet from my messy tidbit.

 

“Up now. Time to catch the tide.”

“Have you lost your mind? Those things are out there!”

“Hah. That noise you hear is coming from behind us, gaining fast.”

“The floor is swaying beneath my feet, so much that I might not even make it to the boat without losing the fare my little coin could get.”

“Oh no boy. That smacking you feel b’neath you is the Lord of the seas ‘imself.”

“So he’s trying to kill me too?”

“Nah, he’s keeping them at arm’s length. But we hafta go now. I don’t have that much favor with the beast.”

“What kind of beast?”

“The Kraken, man. Who else could rule the seas?”

This is a really bare-bones example of my jotting. I mainly wanted to get the dialogue and important details down before I forgot them. It will be easy to go back later and add character names, action tags, and flesh out the scene since the gist of it is solidified in my head now.

*If you like the exercise, what you wrote, or have a suggestion for the next installment, feel free to leave a comment!

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Food Journal – Top 5 Restaurants in San Antonio

Remember that last post a few months ago where I talked about a food blog? Well, here it is!

Brief preface and/or disclosure – I have been to San Antonio exactly once in my life. In April. For three and a half days. Naturally we couldn’t try every restaurant, but picked based off of general TripAdvisor consensus and friends who live in the area. So if you get all butthurt because your super favorite isn’t on this list, let me know in the comments and I’ll try it out the next time we go.

 

#1 Ácenar

This was my favorite of the entire trip. A good friend recommended it as the one place on the Riverwalk that wasn’t overpriced or over-exaggerated, and she knew what she was talking about. The patio had a nice breeze coming in from the river, and a vibrant albeit relaxed atmosphere. Fantastic food and service, delicious margaritas. Just go, right now.

Acenar - Spicy ShrimpSpicy Shrimp – hubby’s dish. Not spicy in the least, but definitely creamy goodness.

Acenar - Duck CrepesDuck crepes –  I don’t know what’s happening on the top of it, but boy, that cheese was something else. It had a sweetness to it that brought the whole dish together. The corn crepes didn’t give have any chalk-like taste or texture that I usually get from corn tortillas.  This is definitely on my list of must-eats whenever we go back to SA.

 

#2 Bakery Lorraine

This little bistro/bakery is one of many gems nestled in the increasingly popular Pearl Brewery area. It’s quite the hot spot for lunch, so be prepared to wait for a table if you get there late. The sandwiches are huge — my husband and I split a Rueben (or some other such roast beef sandwich) and were almost too full to go to Cured (see #3). In addition to breakfast and lunch, they have a number of different pastries and baked goods. Make sure you try the macaroons!

Welcome to Pearl

I didn’t get any pictures of the building or food itself, so you’ll just have to trust me. Don’t skip this place on your next San Antonio trip.

 

 

#3 (Tie) Azuca & Cured

Ok, you got me. I couldn’t decide which of these I liked better. DEATHMATCH!

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Entry to Pearl, not Cured.

Cured – another neat little establishment in the Pearl Brewery area. Inside its brick walls, industrial-style lighting, and warm hardwood floors give it a cozy yet modern vibe. You can see their charcuterie meats hanging in a glass case right when you walk through the front door, and they don’t disappoint. Our favorite was the Mortadella and a citrus marmalade accompaniment. We also tried the Blue Ribbon Burger; it looked a little small, but is the perfect size for a second lunch.

Graffiti = awesome.

Azuca – offers another take on Mexican/Latino food. It’s not in the immediate downtown/River Walk area, which makes it a good choice if you want to try a less touristy place. Like #1 and #3, they have a diverse menu – pork belly, ceviche, and paella are just a few examples. Fair warning, you probably won’t have any room for dessert.

 

 

#5 Boudros

We went back to the River Walk for this one. Mostly because I’d read they had tasty drinks, and it wasn’t far enough into the trip that I was tired of drinking. I tried the Strawberry Caipirinha first, but it was a little too tar. Not enough strawberry. The Prickly Pear Margarita, though… well, have a look.

Prickly Pear MMarita

 

Almost too pretty to drink. Almost.

Food-wise, the Gulf Coast Seacakes we split as an app rivaled the oysters from Ácenar. Past that, I honestly don’t remember what I had. But even if you don’t go for the food, you have to go for the Prickly Pear Margarita!

 

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Skip it – La Fonda on Main

While it’s a lovely restaurant with wonderful service, the food really didn’t impress me. Compared to the other places we experienced the days prior, La Fonda doesn’t offer anything new or different. It has your standard Mexican fare – enchiladas, chile relleno, etc. – but nothing that sets it apart. The locals love it, so be prepared for the place to be packed and loud the entire time.  It’s a good place to get your feet wet in Mexican cuisine, but otherwise I’d recommend skipping it for better flavors around the city.

 

 

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