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'You little, insignificant, good-for-nothing, upstart, pert, chattering puppy!'
(by JohnnyX91 at DeviantART)
frisson |frēˈsô n |nouna sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear; a thrill :a frisson of excitement.ORIGIN late 18th cent.: French, literally ‘a shiver or thrill.’
This is a great word to describe that unique moment when your heart beats in your throat and your equal measures scared and exhilarated.
Someday, I’ll have a work day where I don’t get Let It Go stuck in my head. I’m not complaining, I’m just saying, it has to happen eventually.
(via Laughing Squid.)
Previously in Let It Go
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Considering I love cats and that I'm pretty much of the idea that cats don't have owners, but that they chose the human who is best suited to take care of them, like a king paying a favor to a peasant, I was in line with the plot of Aloysius, the witch's familiar who is turned into the angelic beauty Alain, or maybe he is turned back? In Alain's form he falls in love with Luke, a young vet who doesn't know Alain's true form, and who doesn't question Alain's feline "quirks", on the contrary, he finds them endearing.This was a "cute" fantasy romance, meaning that, it wasn't really pushing on the dangerous factor, but more in highlighting how pretty and flamboyant Alain was, how beautiful all supernatural creatures are, from male witches to elves to familiars who change shape. It had a some sort of yaoi flavor, maybe also due to the cover, but it was also something else, more subdued, I clearly remember that the cat-boy is indeed a recurrent theme in the yaoi novels.Cataclysmic Shift was a light romance, a very pleasant read, especially if you are a cat lover; I don't think the reader had to dig and forcefully find a deeper meaning, if not the pleasure to spend some hours in a fantasy world. It was also naughty here and there, and truth be told, there were times when I didn't need it to be, I was happy enough with the innuendos, but that is entirely me, and instead, if you like some naughty sexy scene, you will find it here.Publisher: Loose Id LLC (July 23, 2013)Amazon Kindle: Cataclysmic Shift (The Aloysius Tales)Series: The Aloysius Tales1) Spell Cat2) Brush with Catastrophe 3) Cataclysmic ShiftMore Reviews by Author at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Reviews
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It's probably hopelessly unrealistic to hope that anybody would be willing to take a quick (as the deadline is at the end of the month) beta-ish look on my 30.000+ words Vikings smallfandombang fanfic, right? Right.Apart from that: how the hell did I manage to write a story that takes up 62 pages in word? *eyes printer, wondering if I even have that much ink left at the moment*This entry was originally posted at http://oneiriad.dreamwidth.org/410531.html, where it currently has comments.
I got a book recommendation in my e-mail from someone I have friended on Goodreads. Okay, that happens occasionally. I click through to check out the book.What I see is that only one other person I know has reviewed it, and they're just boinging because it's out, rather than talking about the book itself. There are a bunch of reviews from people I don't know. Okay, I can work with that, usually, and with a 4.65 average rating with over 50 ratings, that usually means a pretty awesome book.Except there's a weird sort of uniformity about these reviews. The very first one has links to a bunch of vendor pages where you can buy the book -- who besides the author ever does that? -- and some animated GIFs, and a lot of generic squee. And hey, there's another review a ways below that with... links to a bunch of vendor pages. Same format. o_O Lots of generic squee, and quite a few "OMG I got my ARC!" type comments. Some mentions of a coming blog tour. Very little actual discussion of the book itself, of parts people like or dislike -- you know, the useful stuff that shows up in a useful review.Huh, smells like a street team.Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with a street team. My understanding is that the term came out of the music business, where a street team is a group of people who hit the streets in a town where a band is coming to play a gig soon. They talk up the show, put posters up everywhere, make it look like there's a lot of buzz and excitement about the band, make people want to come hear them, make it feel like the show's going to be awesome fun and everyone should be there. Street-level marketing. Oh, and the street team is usually paid, even if it's just in T-shirts and show tickets and stuff.A lot of writers are using street teams now to build up buzz about a new book. They form a group of fans who are willing to go out and generate buzz when a new book comes out, fans who are usually paid in free books and maybe some swag. And seriously, if a writer has enough fans to form a street team, that says something about their writing right there, so that's cool so far as it goes. Having a bunch of people read your book early and post reviews right away, whether on Goodreads or Amazon or their blogs or anywhere else, can certainly help build buzz, and that can be a good thing.( Read more...Collapse )
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“Twilight, I’m sorry, is about a very unhealthy, toxic relationship. [The protagonist Bella] falls in love with this guy and the second he leaves her, her life is over and she’s going to kill herself! What message are we sending to young people? That is not going to help this world evolve.” – Divergent star Shailene Woodley speaking to Teen Vogue.
Hollywood is all about comparing one thing to another, especially when it comes to young adult properties (does that really ever help?), in order to cash in on the previous success. Whether it’s comparing “love stories” or pitting the lead characters against each other, it’s nice to see Woodley addressing the issues straight on.
(via Gossip Cop)
Previously in Women in Film
At the recent Cinequest Film Festival, author Neil Gaiman spoke with cautious optimism about the Sandman adaptation currently in the works at Warner Bros., one that he has no direct control over.
Unlike many other film adaptations of Gaiman’s work like Coraline, American Gods, or Stardust, Gaiman does not own the rights to the characters or story of The Sandman. Like the majority of comics artists working within established comics universes, he completed his work for the groundbreaking series under a work for hire contract that does not allow writers or artists to retain control over original characters or designs. As a writer of many books and comics that fans would love to see realized on screen, Gaiman is open about how he’s reached a point in his career, professionally and financially, that he can say no if a studio or team has a take on his work that doesn’t do it justice. I suspect, for example, that this is one of the reasons why American Gods has been so slow to reach screens.
But the only thing standing between Sandman and the silver screen is Warner Bros.’ intentions, so how does Gaiman view the impending adaptation? “There was a saying when I was a kid in Sussex,” he told the Cinequest audience, “‘I’ve lived too near the woods too long to be frightened by an owl.’ Right now there is exciting ‘Sandman’ stuff happening, but I can’t help thinking that I’ve been here before.” But he also gave the movie’s creative team, as it stands now, some compliments:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, of all people, is an enormous ‘Sandman’ fan. He and David Goyer talked about it, they’ve come up, I believe, with a treatment of what they want the story of the first movie to be. They are talking to an incredible writer [Jack Thorne], who I coincidentally already knew, because he did the movie script for The Ocean at the End of the Lane, so I’ve met him and loved his treatment of my work. And Wednesday afternoon I will be spending with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and talking Sandman! That’s pretty much everything I know. Now you know as much as I know.
The story of the “first movie,” eh? That’s promising indeed.
(via Comic Book Resources.)
Looking forward to Fox’s Batprequel Gotham? An official synopsis has been released. Not looking forward to Fox’s Batprequel Gotham? The synopsis has been released anyway. You cannot escape.
The synopsis, available in full at /Film, starts with two paragraphs describing what we already know—it’s an origin story of sorts for James Gordon and various Batvillains, including Catwoman and the Penguin. The Riddler, Two-Face, and the Joker are also name-checked, though those roles have yet to be cast.
Then we get into the not-so-boring stuff:
Growing up in Gotham City’s surrounding suburbs, James Gordon (Ben McKenzie, “Southland,” “The O.C.”) romanticized the city as a glamorous and exciting metropolis where his late father once served as a successful district attorney. Now, two weeks into his new job as a Gotham City detective and engaged to his beloved fiancée, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards, Open Grave, “Breaking In”), Gordon is living his dream – even as he hopes to restore the city back to the pure version he remembers it was as a kid.
Good so far. Wanting to restore the city to the way it was under a beloved father. Batparallels.
Brave, honest and ready to prove himself, the newly-minted detective is partnered with the brash, but shrewd police legend Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue, “Sons of Anarchy,” “Terriers,” “Vikings,” “Copper”), as the two stumble upon the city’s highest-profile case ever: the murder of local billionaires Thomas and Martha Wayne. At the scene of the crime, Gordon meets the sole survivor: the Waynes’ hauntingly intense 12-year-old son, Bruce (David Mazouz, “Touch”), toward whom the young detective feels an inexplicable kinship. Moved by the boy’s profound loss, Gordon vows to catch the killer.
Emphasis mine. First mini-Bruce Wayne has “tragic gravitas,” now he’s “hauntingly intense.” Gotham, you keep presenting ickle Bruce Wayne as the emo-est of baby superheroes and it’ll make it really hard for me to take you seriously. So by all means, continue. What’s next: He’s a 12-year-old with “sorrowful dignity”? One of those hairflap-obscuring-the-eye haircuts? Does he attempt to glare his teachers into not assigning homework because “what’s the point, it’s all meaningless anyway?”
As he navigates the often-underhanded politics of Gotham’s criminal justice system, Gordon will confront imposing gang boss Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith, The Matrix films, “HawthoRNe,” Collateral), and many of the characters who will become some of fiction’s most renowned, enduring villains, including a teenaged Selina Kyle/the future Catwoman (acting newcomer Camren Bicondova) and Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor, “The Walking Dead,” Another Earth).
I have nothing of substance to say here. I just want to have a little excited dance party about Gotham casting Jada Pinkett Smith as a mob boss named Fish Mooney.
Although the crime drama will follow Gordon’s turbulent and singular rise through the Gotham City police department, led by Police Captain Sarah Essen (Zabryna Guevara, “Burn Notice”), it also will focus on the unlikely friendship Gordon forms with the young heir to the Wayne fortune, who is being raised by his unflappable butler, Alfred (Sean Pertwee, “Camelot,” “Elementary”). It is a friendship that will last them all of their lives, playing a crucial role in helping the young boy eventually become the crusader he’s destined to be.
A crusader who will only get more hauntingly intense and tragic gravitas-y as the decades go on.
Several weeks ago, fellow Historical Novel Society member Cora Lee shared an idea that she’d been having fun with for a few months and asked if any of us would like to play along. She took the idea of “Flat Stanley” and gave it a historical twist, creating “Flat Arthur”– a two dimensional version of the multi-dimensional Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington (1769-1842).*
Would I like to play along? Oh yeah! Over the next few months, Flat Arthur will travel with me hither and you. (Mostly to one library or another. Sorry, your Grace.) You can follow his travels and travails on my Tumblr site.
You doubtless know Wellesley as the general who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, the feat for which he was created the 1st Duke of Wellington. Here are a few bits about Wellington that you may not know:
Stay tuned for more Wellington tidbits and Flat Arthur sightings.
* Here’s the blog post in which she introduced the idea for those of you who aren’t familiar with the original “Flat Stanley”.
**He could have given his name to something much less dignified than boots. The emperor Vespasian introduced public lavatories to Rome, where they are still known as vespasianos.
***The comparison with Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, is irresistible. She embraced the nickname after it appeared in the headline of a piece in the Soviet newspaper Red Star, three years before she became Prime Minister. You can’t blame her: her previous political nickname was “Thatcher the Milk Snatcher,” earned when she cut free milk for schoolchildren from the budget during her tenure as Minister of Education. But I digress.
Dear Chairs and Committee members of Loncon 3 and all future Worldcons:
Could you please, please, please and for the love of all that is good and sweet in this world, stop announcing Hugo nominations on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter? Seriously, it’s absolutely idiotic.
Here’s why, from the point of view of someone who did marketing professionally and also worked professionally in journalism, and who is also an author and fan who wants to see the Hugo Awards get the media recognition they deserve (i.e., me):
Saturdays are a dead zone for publicity. News organizations are on skeleton crews. Blogs update sparsely if at all. No one reads newspapers, news sites, or watches cable news on Saturday because they’re sleeping in, are outdoors, or planning their Saturday night. Anything that happens on a Saturday is generally forgotten by Monday morning, when everyone goes back to work.
There is a reason why governments and corporations release all their bad news on Friday at 5pm — because they don’t want people to know about it. The only reason they don’t release it on Saturday is that even PR people are home on Saturday. Saturday is where news goes to die. Saturday is where you go when you want no one to know what you’re up to.
Mind you, that’s any Saturday. But of all the Saturdays in all of the calendar year, the very worst possible Saturday to announce anything is the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter. Because it’s the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter, that’s why — the Saturday sandwiched between two major religious holidays, which means the “weekend” that week starts on Thursday and Sunday’s news cycle is swamped by the most important Christian holiday of the year — Christmas is noisier for longer, but Easter is concentrated. If you’re the Pope, Easter Sunday is great for you, news wise. If you’re not the Pope, not. Certainly anything that happened the day before Easter is toast.
If I were a crooked politician who had been caught murdering kittens while masturbating to a picture of Joseph Stalin, then the day I would choose to have that news go out into the world would be the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter. That is the only scenario on which that day is optimal for the release of information. Conversely, if I were a publicist with a client who wanted the world to know what they were doing, and the client said “Hey, I have a great idea! Let’s release the news of our biggest event on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter!” I would stare blankly at the client while I counted to ten in my head, followed by “Well, we could do that, but –”
Now, this is someone’s cue to jump in and note that the reason for announcing on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter is because it’s a nice little treat for all the fans who attend Easter weekend conventions. This is a poor reason, from the point of view of publicizing and marketing the awards. The fans at conventions are already pre-sold on the idea of the importance of the Hugo Awards and will be excited about (or, if they don’t like the slate that year, annoyed at) them and will talk about them at length no matter when the nominations are announced. That being the case, the goal should be to get the Hugos into the consciousness of the larger public. You won’t do that by releasing the information on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter.
If the conventions were on any other weekend, I could possibly see the argument for releasing the information on Sunday — it wouldn’t be optimal but then at least the announcement would land in a cycle where the news would still be reasonably fresh for Monday (releasing news on a Saturday for a Sunday news cycle is not a great idea — remember that most news orgs and blogs are running skeleton staffs, and your usual contacts are probably at home). But there is no good day on the Easter weekend to release any announcement, and Saturday least of all.
That Worldcon organizers announce their premier bit of news for the benefit of only a handful of fans at the expense of harnessing the power of the press really does not make any sense at all; it’s putting the cart before the horse. Nor does it even serve the larger interest of the fans, other than most insular of them. To put it another way, if you gripe about how the Hugo doesn’t get enough attention but don’t see why releasing the news about the nominations on the Saturday of Easter weekend is problematic, you might be part of the problem.
Releasing the information on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter also makes it harder for nominees and their publishers/organizations to publicize the Hugo nominations they get. Yes, when the Hugo nominations are finally announced, nominees happily go to Twitter and squee about them and publishing house publicists do the same. But again — on a Saturday, when fewer people are looking, and on the deadest Saturday of the year. Then when the week starts, the authors and the PR people have to try to sell to the rest of the media a story that’s already two days old. It’s literally old news, which diminishes the native interest in the story and also, even if the media outlet takes a nibble, the amount of space they are willing to devote to the story.
Yes but what about io9 and Locus and the SF-oriented media online? They run it on Saturday when it happens! Yes they do, and I assure you that they wish they could announce that stuff during the week, when their readership is significantly higher and the story will get that much more play. Because, again, by the time the weekdays roll around, it’s old news. The only stories they have left to play during the week are the annoyed reactions by people who are unhappy with the nomination slate. Which is to say, releasing the nominations on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter all but guarantees that stories complaining about the Hugo Awards will get bigger play in the SF-oriented media than the actual nomination announcement itself. And that is no way to run a railroad.
If I were in charge of announcing the Hugo nominations, I would announce them 10am Eastern on the Tuesday before Easter. Tuesday is a fine day to announce things you want to see get play in the media because it gives news editors plenty of time to slot you in, it gives publicists plenty of time to make announcements and get on the horn to their media contacts, and it’s during the week when the whole rest of the world might be paying attention, along with the fans. And then the Easter weekend cons can still play with the news, with panels and possibly other special events. Everybody wins.
If for some reason I couldn’t do that Tuesday, I would release on (in order of desirability) Wednesday, Monday or Thursday. Under no circumstances would I release on Friday (a holiday) or Sunday (Easter, for God’s sake). I would lick a wall socket before I released the news on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter.
So, in short: The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter is the worst possible time to announce the Hugos, is bad for the Hugos, and is bad for the nominees. Please stop doing it that way. Get the Hugos the attention they deserve as the pre-eminent award in science fiction and fantasy. That means announcing them beyond the small group of science fiction and fantasy fans attending conventions on Easter weekend.
Just, you know, consider it, please. It’s not too much to ask.
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Cosplayer Zoisite-Virupaksha would, and boy are we glad. At her deviantART page you can see other Merida cosplay, both Pixar’s version and modern-day (including a shot of her on the Iron Throne, and whoops, I have a few favorite for whom I think should rule Westeros now!), but this biker gang version is our favorite. She and Daryl Dixon should join forces and use their crossbows to wipe evil off the face of the Earth.
(deviantART via Fashionably Geek; Photos by Jade)
Some actors, like Iain Glen, Emilia Clarke, and Sophie Turner channel their characters. And then there are Jack Gleeson and Gwendoline Christie. I really just want to sit down and have coffee with them.
The world is full of righteous indignation. The problem is, there are an infinite number of sides. The end result is that everyone is someone's target.
We’re delighted to report that Kari Sperring is the Guest of Honour at this year’s Novacon! The convention will be held at the Park Inn Hotel in Nottingham, from November 14-16, 2014. Still early days, so details are thin on the ground, but be sure to check out the Novacon website, Twitter and Facebook page for information over the coming weeks and months.
Kari is the author of two acclaimed fantasy novels, LIVING WITH GHOSTS and THE GRASS KING’S CONCUBINE. In case you weren’t aware of the novels (shame!), here is some information and reviews…
LIVING WITH GHOSTS (DAW Books, 2009)
This highly original, darkly atmospheric fantasy novel immerses readers in a world where ghosts and other malevolent spirits seek entry into mortal realms— invisible to all but those who are not entirely human themselves. Drawn into the ancient city of Merafi, yet barred from entering by an ancient pact sealed in blood, these hungry haunts await their opportunity to break through the magical border and wreak havoc on the city’s innocent denizens.
And as a priestess and prince weave a sorcerous plot to shatter the pact and bring ruin on Merafi, only a failed assassin-priest who is now a courtesan, a noble lord married into the ruling family of Merafi, an officer of the city guard, a woman warrior who was the former lover of a now-dead lord, and the ghost of that lord himself stand between Merafi and the tidal wave of magic that may soon bring ruin flooding down upon the city.
Here’s some of what critics have said about the novel…
‘… a brilliantly atmospheric novel with complex yet understandable characters and a dark setting filled with sensation. A recommended read for those with a taste for something a little different.’ – Mithril Wisdom
‘The characterization in particular is well above what I normally expect from SF&F. The magic is interesting too: very subtly done… a very impressive debut. Here’s hoping there are more books to come.’ – Cheryl Morgan
‘From suffering husband to sneering dominatrix, there’s a character for every taste in Ghosts, but the vulnerable, bisexual Gracielis is by far the standout… the characters are so appealing that you hang on every twist of their carmined lips… [a] beguiling, bewildering novel…’ – Strange Horizons
‘… if you love a tale that concentrates on the feelings and emotional aspect of the characters then this is a book for you. Well written with the authors enthusiasm clearly coming through the tale its definitely a story that will remain with you long after the final page is turned.’ – Falcata Times
THE GRASS KING’S CONCUBINE (DAW Books, 2012)
A return to the same amazing and atmospheric world of LIVING WITH GHOSTS, a story set several hundred years later.
When a wealthy young woman, obsessed with a childhood vision of a magical Shining Palace, sets out with her true love to search for a legendary land, she discovers the devastated WorldBelow – the realm of the Grass King – and the terrifying Cadre, who take her prisoner, and demand she either restore the king’s concubine… or replace her.
Here’s a selection of the critical response…
‘Readers who are looking for a beautiful and original work of fantasy should pick up THE GRASS KING’S CONCUBINE… an enjoyable read, and I think that fans of thoughtful fantasy should give THE GRASS KING’S CONCUBINE a try.’ – Strange Horizons
‘This is a rather wonderful book… a beguiling sub-plot… Sperring has created an unusual world that surprises at every turn, giving the pleasures of high fantasy whilst avoiding the worn-out tropes.’ – Living in the Maniototo
My therapist shared something interesting earlier this week. With the caveat that this is all a bit simplified, and human brains don’t fit into neat lines and graphs, it still helped me to think a little differently about depression and anxiety and stress, and to understand both myself and certain other people in my life a little better.
She started by drawing the following graph:
This fits pretty well with my experience. There’s a relatively straightforward relationship here. The more depressed you are, the less productive you are. (Giving lie to the myth of the tortured artist who’s most productive when they’re depressed.)
Next, she drew a graph of anxiety.
This one also made sense, once we talked about it a bit. If you have absolutely no anxiety, you end up with a lot less motivation to produce anything. Take away all of my deadlines, and I’m definitely less productive and more likely to spend an evening bumming around on the couch watching Doctor Who. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
On the other hand, too much anxiety can be crippling, with the far extreme being someone who can’t even leave their room or home.
So basically, we want to minimize depression and find a healthy and moderate level of productive anxiety. Got it. So far, so good.
What gets interesting, at least for me, is looking at the implications of the two models. If depression is more of a linear thing, it means you have that straightforward goal of getting as far to the left as possible. This also means small steps to fight the depression are more likely to have small steps in improving your productivity. It tends to be a long, slow battle.
I’ve been in therapy and on medication for depression for about two years now. This has had a pretty large impact on the depression, and when you look at my productivity these days … well, I’m doing two books in 12 months instead of my usual one. Smaller improvements have led to smaller changes in productivity, like being able to keep up with washing the dishes. Again, it’s not a perfect graph, but it makes sense to me.
I sketched in two sample changes in mood. If the depression improves by X, productivity also improves by X. That tends to hold true whether you’re really depressed or in a generally good space. (Yes, I’m simplifying the math and assuming a 1:1 slope.)
Anxiety, on the other hand, resembles a bell curve. That means any given change in your anxiety can have drastically different results, depending on where you happen to be on that curve.
Look at this next graph. Both of the horizontal lines, indicating a change in anxiety, are the same. The vertical lines, showing change in productivity, are not.
For someone near that ideal middle-ground, a small increase in anxiety of amount X could have a relatively small impact on productivity, perhaps X or even X/2. On the other hand, if you’re more anxious, the same increase of X in your anxiety could have a much larger impact, hurting productivity by a factor of 2X, 3X, or more.
Likewise, for someone who’s struggling with anxiety, removing just a small stressor could have a very large impact, and help exponentially.
And the exact same increase in anxiety can actually boost productivity for someone to the left of the curve as much as it hurts someone to the right.
This was an AHA moment for me. I spend a fair amount of time working with people and trying to motivate them, whether it’s my employees at the day job or my children at home, and looking at that Anxiety graph helped to crystallize why the same tactic can have very different results for different people … or even for the same people at different times.
Someone on the left side, who seems to be slacking because they don’t really care? Maybe their anxiety needs to be turned up a bit, by talking about potential consequences. On the other hand, for someone on the right side of the graph who’s already close to a panic attack, potential consequences are likely to push them even further, making things that much harder for them. In that case, trying to take a little of that anxiety off their shoulders can help tremendously.
I see some of the same effects with the way stress and anxiety intertwine in my life. There’s a certain middle ground where I can add or remove things I need to get done, and it doesn’t have much of an impact. But once I hit that tipping point, just a small increase in stress can drag me down hard.
Like I said at the beginning, this is a bit of an oversimplification. Human beings tend to be pretty complicated and messy. But seeing depression and anxiety drawn out like this was really helpful for me, so I figured I’d share it in the hope that it might help a few of you as well.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
Music & Literature: Write, Read, & Roll
Hey gang, it’s Lynette Mae. The release of Rebound prompted a few discussions about the links between music, lyrics and the longer written word. So, I thought it would be cool to have rocker Cole Armocida tell us about how she’s inspired to create her incredible music. For me, this project opened up creative spaces in my soul and the power has been nothing short of amazing. Now here’s Cole to start us off with her musical inspirations, and I’ll chime in later with some additional thoughts.
Get lit and make music.
No, that’s not what I mean. Not all musicians create under the influence. Lit, as in literature. Yes, I’ve been inspired by some books to write lyrics. Inspiration can come from a storyline of a novel, a character, or even just one sentence. Movies, television shows, news programs, and magazine articles can inspire song ideas. Recently, a commercial set something off in my head with one sentence. It can also happen with a combination of media. You never know what will charge your creative brain.
I’ll give you an example of how a book partially inspired a song I wrote and recorded a number of years ago. It came from a combination of factors. Imagine a cafe. Two women are waiting in line for coffee and discussing a workplace situation. I’m within earshot, trying to read a story about an office romance. Another regular patron is sitting at a table nearby, legs crossed and facing outward to give me the full side view, and her index finger is gliding along the rim of her cup. Yeah, I’m not getting much reading done. I’ve been on the same paragraph since she walked in and sat down.
She was an attractive woman who frequented the cafe. Think Julianne Moore mixed with Amy Adams. Yes, a red head. One conversation, which she initiated, became many over a few months. From word one, her light flirtation accelerated to the first stages of seduction. Now, at this point, I was on guard because every auburn haired woman I meet emanates trouble. Trouble, which can feel good, but trouble nonetheless. I won’t use names so we’ll just call her “Red”. Well, Red worked in a nearby corporate office and what started as a late morning visit to the cafe, became late-morning and late afternoon visits. The exact times I would take my breaks from work.
I’m reading and enjoying my coffee, I have Red sitting nearby intermittently throwing lines at me, and I overhear the one woman on line say to the other, “Oh, I think she’s just testing my waters.” – The other woman touches her colleagues arm and says, “Yeah, well, be careful.” – Bingo! I stood up, bid Red adieu, left the cafe, and took all three factors to write the song titled, “Testing My Waters”. For this song I wrote down some lines that popped into my head right away. Once I was home, I plugged in my guitar, tuned up, and began playing random notes and chords. It is something I tend to do without much thought. I allow my hands to do whatever happens and it has resulted in the creation of quite a few songs. This would be one of those songs. Four notes on two strings and how my hands just happened to play them became part of the intro to the song. Within one hour, “Testing My Waters” was complete. The combination of the overheard discussion of the cafe patrons, corporate office-seductive-red head, and the book I was reading, resulted in one of my all time favorite songs I have composed to this day. Though I chose not to re-record the song for my CD, Lifeline, I may release the original recording one day.
A song on my CD, Lifeline, is another example. I wrote a song based on a story I’ve completed. The song is called “To Die For”. It’s more of a hard rock tune than the other songs on the CD, but I absolutely love playing that song. It’s also a great tune to workout to when you need to pick up the pace. The manuscript it goes with? My WIP (work in progress). It’s complete and ready for edits, but I would call it more of a WSILBMATTFS (work sitting in limbo because music always takes the front seat).
Speaking of music taking the front seat, I received a phone call one day from my good buddy, Lynette Mae. She wanted to send me what she had written so far for her WIP, Rebound. We discussed the storyline and she wanted to know if any of my songs would fit with the storyline. I told her I would read what she sent over and let her know. Well, LM has this way of hooking you and reeling you in as a reader. I always find that her writing style immediately pulls me in and I feel like I am there in the scenes. I sent her a message and asked her to send me more. It didn’t take long for me to go into my studio, pick up the guitar, tune it, and yes, let my hands move around the fretboard at random. Again, bingo. A few chords, and the lines just flowed on the paper. I shared the lyrics with LM to see what she thought and was thrilled with her response. What I realized, after I composed the music and lyrics, not only was the song for the main character, Conner Maguire, but also for myself.
The words and music became this soul-warming inspiration to fight and move forward no matter what happens in life. Hey, this isn’t just a song for Conner and me, it’s a song for every person out there going through life’s unexpected changes and challenges. Challenges. It hit me. I can’t spend money on this recording. I’m still paying down costs incurred with the first CD and start up of the label. I thought about doing a live video performance but with all the music in my head, just me with my guitar wasn’t going to cut it as a release. I would not be satisfied with that stripped down performance. I turned in my chair, and the first thing I saw was a stack of CDs I usually listen to while I’m working out. The CD on top was Black and White America by Lenny Kravitz. Lenny Kravitz often plays all instruments on his recordings, as does Prince. As the song, Rebound, says, “The real test upon you, give one cleansing breath”. That’s what I did. I started by programming the drum line, using drum software. I didn’t have all the microphones needed to properly record my drum set. I continued, recording all the guitars, bass, keyboards, and vocals. I mixed each track, recruiting my wife as a second set of ears to assist me in the long, hours-consuming, sometimes frustrating process. When I felt I had the final mix, I mastered the song for distribution through CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon.
I was so inspired, I took on another new project. Using the experience of doing my own music videos, and some fabulous film footage by Lynette’s nephew, Chris, I put together the book trailer for LM as well. The entire experience was extremely fun.
Well, now that I’ve shared how literature inspires my songwriting, let’s hear from Lynette Mae on how music inspires her story writing…
“Rebound and reload…” music fades. That’s my cue.
Get music, create lit.
I love using musical references in my work to give the reader a time reference and it helps give a sense of the character or set the mood. Cole forgot that when I sent her the intro to “Rebound” I included a little line where Conner is listening to indie rocker, Cole Armocida, while working out. I did originally want to use a song from her Lifeline CD, but then Cole blew me out of the water by actually writing a whole song. That was incredible, but then something even more amazing happened to my creativity.
While I love including musical references, I always thought I preferred to write in silence. Radio and TV are too distracting, I told myself. I need to focus with no distractions. That’s what I thought. Rebound was like no other story I’d ever written and it challenged me in ways I never anticipated. Some days I feared it would never be published. Truth. Then an army buddy of mine suggested a soundtrack for Rebound. We’d discussed the secondary character, Coach Shawn Tyler, a disabled Iraqi War vet. I was struggling with exactly how to portray Shawn. AJ didn’t stop at the suggestion; she sent me a list of songs the next day, with a note that I should add others I felt would connect with the characters or story.
Her choices were spot on and when I added a few of my own, I suddenly felt Shawn coming alive. Inspired, I added a couple for Conner. From then on, I listened to the Rebound soundtrack every minute I was writing. I realized that the right songs would capture the mood, and rather than distracting, they inspired me beyond anything I’d ever experienced. When Cole finished the song “Rebound” and played it for me the first time I nearly cried. It captured the spirit of Conner and Shawn, and the message of humanity and hope for us all. That, folks, is what it’s all about.
Readers: Do you ever relate songs to your favorite books? How so?
Authors: Do you have a playlist for your WIP’s? Does music charge your creative brain? Tell us about it.
About Cole Armocida:
Cole Armocida hails from Pittsburgh, PA and currently lives in New York City. At an early age, Cole’s music education was enhanced by her parents’ jazz and standards albums and her siblings’ classic rock albums. Her mother is a trained vocalist who performed as part of a trio for radio shows and met Cole’s father while performing in a theater production.
Singing since the age of four, Cole began playing in bands as early as thirteen, performed many live shows, and opened for some national acts with her band in Pittsburgh.
Cole’s CD, Lifeline, and her new single, “Rebound” is available through CD Baby, iTunes, and the Amazon Music Store. The New York City based company, WACBIZ, run by industry veteran, Suzanne Hilleary, licenses Cole’s music for film and television.
Do you know what I love? Writing conferences. They inspire me. They invigorate me. They connect me with other writers who are as passionate about words and stories as I am.
Do you know what I dread? Writing conferences. They terrify and overwhelm me. They make me wonder why I spend thousands of hours with people (i.e. characters) who don’t technically exist. Writing conferences make me phone my husband, mid-conference, and cry, “As God as my witness, I’ll never be hungry write again!”
A few weeks ago, at AWP, I found myself in the throes of this conference-induced, Oscar-worthy melodrama. Come with me, and I’ll share some highlights . . .
Thursday @ 7:30 a.m. The first full day of the AWP Conference: I spend the morning making my kids’ lunches and half-listening to them practice their violin. Trying to look professional but not preppy, writerly but not weird, I try on roughly thirty-seven outfits before settling on a casual dress and a scarf that can hide or reveal (audience depending) my cross necklace. Uncomfortable-but-funky shoes. Black tights.
Now running late, I yell at my kids who are moving at the speed of sloth. I hug my mom when she arrives to stay with the kids. I gather my notes for the panel I’ll be sitting on. I remind my son to get his soccer stuff in his backpack and his basketball stuff in the car. I remind my daughter to talk to her music teacher about choir and her soccer coach about a new jersey. I remind them both to eat their fruit because I don’t pack that stuff in their lunches for my own amusement. I text my husband: I CANNOT DO THIS ANYMORE, THE JUGGLING OF WRITING WORK, PAID WORK, AND MOM WORK. I hug my mom again, and run to the bus stop. Already my tights are falling down. I am trying not to cry.
8:15 a.m. On the bus however, I attempt to inhale peace and serenity. I’m better, I text my husband. Thx 4 supporting me. Upon arrival, I feel cheery-ish. Optimistic. But I’m at the conference for only ten minutes when I find myself locked in a stairwell. For what feels like hours, I pound on the door. I start sweating. I worry I’m going to miss my panel, my dinner date with writing friends, my children’s graduations and weddings. I choose to focus not on the fact that I have a cell phone and could simply phone one of my writing friends. Rather, I imagine how, fifty years from now, someone will discover my skeletal remains, my AWP badge still hanging around my bony neck.
But hark! The sound of a door opening. The jingle of keys.
“Hello?” I call. “Help! Hello? I’m locked in this stairwell!”
A man emerges, eyes me suspiciously. “How’d you get in here?”
I point to the door. “There should REALLY be a sign on that door if we’re not supposed to use it!”
He’s still eyeing me, almost as if I’m an AWP terrorist, so I move my scarf to reveal the cross necklace. I hope this will help (not hurt) my case. “I was hoping to get some cardio,” I say, trying to smile. “By taking the stairs.”
Still wary, he pulls out a key and frees me. My hand hurts from pounding the metal door. Sweat marks stain my dress. The crotch of my tights is around my knees.
8:30 a.m. Pulled mostly back together, I attend a fabulous session where I learn the importance of plot structure.
9:30 a.m. Pulled 100% back together, I attend a fabulous session where I learn the importance of ignoring plot structure. Yes! Instead, I’m to focus on Character, on Subtext, on the Hum and Beckon of the story. These panelists are all at least 100 IQ points smarter than I. I have never heard of them or their books.
10:30 a.m. I sit on my panel where I try to offer something to the lovely audience members who have chosen to spend 75 minutes with us. Really though, as the only unpublished panelist, I can only offer humor, humility, empathy, and, I hope, hope.
12:00 p.m. Buoyed by post-panel endorphins, I sit my introverted tush on a comfy, semi-hidden couch, eat my home-brought PB&J and satsuma oranges, and try to find the Plot AND the Hum and Beckon of my work-in-progress.
After an hour, I’ve found neither.
Plotless and Humless, my hands sticky from satsuma juice and strawberry jelly, Ron (the mean-voiced, not-real dude who sits inside my head and whispers mean stuff), starts in: Why are you even here? Why are you trying to be a writer? You can’t even keep your tights up!
1:00 p.m. In the restroom, I wash stickiness from my hands and give myself a pep talk, after which I hike up my tights and head to the Book Expo where hundreds of smaller publishers have their beautiful books on display. Wandering the aisles, it occurs to me that some day I might have a book on a table. Enter Ron. Really? You think you can ever be an author? Look at how many books there are! You think someone’s going to notice your book?
Apparently Ron sneaked past security without a green lanyard and badge.
I tell Ron to go suck it. I remind myself that I want to talk to several publishers who might be a good fit for my books. I hand Ron a poop-flavored lollipop and a copy of The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe so he’ll be silent for a few hours, and off I go.
Some editors are kind and savvy, people I would trust with my books. When they ask to have my agent send my work, hope pushes green sprigs through cold, wet ground. Editors want to see my work!
But other editors act like I’m chewed gum on the bottom of their shoes. They don’t care that I have an agent. They think I’m not edgy enough. See these funky shoes? I want to tell them. Tell me these aren’t edgy! But the hipster-editors have gone back to studying their iPhones.
I, an edge-less shmuck, wander until I arrive back at my semi-hidden couch. Hiking up my sagging tights, I hear it, the gentle whisper of not-Ron: Go listen to writers reading their work.
I do. I listen to Amy Tan and Erik Larson and Janna Cawrse Esarey. To Karen Finneyfrock and Peter Mountford and Bonnie Rough. These are writers who believe that Story is holy, a necessary part of being human. Hearing their words helps me remember why I have chosen this profession. Their voices help me trust I will find Plot and the Hum and Beckon of my work-in-progress. I will.
Isn’t that what’s most strange and exhausting about writing conferences? That we can experience an hour of fist-pumping gratitude and excitement, followed by three hours of terror and whelm?
Or maybe I’m the only one.
But based on the faces of many conference-going comrades, faces that look like they’ve been buckled into a three-day roller coaster, I don’t believe I am the only one. And for that I am grateful. It is terrible to be alone in a locked stairwell, but it would be far worse to be the only drama queen at a writing conference, the only one with saggy tights, with changeable emotions, with a penchant for melodrama.
Now you! How do you successfully ride the waves of writing conferences? Do you struggle to juggle presence at a conference with presence on your home front? What’s the best thing that’s come out of attending a writing conference? Please share!
Photo courtesy of Flickr’s Kirby York.
Sarah Callender lives in Seattle with her husband, son and daughter and is currently working on a novel titled BETWEEN THE SUN AND THE ORANGES. Sarah is a terrible house-cleaner, a lover of chocolate and hats, and a self-professed cheapskate who has no trouble spending money on good chocolate and hats.
Drums. Drums in the deep.No, wrong book. Winter storm warning, still forecast of 6" to 12" of snow in our area, perhaps with some mixed precip. Another week and we'll be done with this. Then it'll be "spring storm" instead. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss . . .Air temperature 32 F for the newspaper walk, calm, overcast. Good supply of black ice to make life interesting.
When you say “I don’t have enough time!” … are you always telling the truth? (Be honest.)
Is it possible that you DO have enough time – more than enough – but that you’re wasting it on stupid things?
Let’s get brutally clear about what must be removed from your plate.
Maybe it’s bad habits. Maybe it’s the little things you do all the time. Maybe it’s a limiting mindset.
It doesn’t matter what it is. It matters that you begin with awareness.
Here is my list of top 10 Time Wasters for entrepreneurs who know it’s time to Uplevel their business…
#10 – Bookkeeping
Yes or no:
A] Do you toss your receipts in little piles, telling yourself you’ll get to them soon?
B] Do you announce every April that you’ve got to keep better track of your invoices?
C] Are you considering a QuickBooks course at your local college?
If you answered yes to ANY of these, you need a bookkeeper.
The reason you stink at this stuff is NOT because you’re a procrastinator. The reason you stink at this stuff is because YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO! If you were meant to be a bookkeeper, you’d be one!
#9 – Customer service
In the early stages of your business, it’s good to connect with your prospects and clients and directly respond to them. However, if the routine emails and calls swallow up hours each week, let go and hire someone to take over.
#8 – Running errands
One of my clients is a successful realtor. Last week, she ran a “quick” errand to put a lock box on the door of a house. With traffic, this errand took 90 minutes.
This is a classic case of: “By the time I show someone how to do it, I could just do this myself.”
If you do this activity once a week, you just wasted TEN 8-hour days of high ROI work you could be doing each year.
Will it take you 10 working days to show someone how to run your errands?
#7 – Housecleaning
The simple act of hiring a housekeeper can save marriages, heal relationships with kids, and make you believe in God. That’s all.
#6 – Blame
Blaming anyone (including yourself!) for your results or your actions is pointless. Instead, take your power back and own your results. Create a weekly habit of getting back on track with your priorities and your focus. We all get off track. We all have excuses. Keep up the habit of seeking solutions, not blame.
#5 – Worrying about competitors stealing your content
The days of intellectual property are mostly gone.
(And I say this as somebody who has had entire blog posts cut and pasted with a new byline on other websites.)
Here’s what’s truer than theft:
No one can steal your energy.
The people who steal your content crack me up because – try as they might – they can’t steal the energy and intention that is behind the content. AND, even if they get a client from your content, they most likely wouldn’t be able to deliver on the promise. Not really.
And besides, your job is to just keep getting ideas and putting them out there. Your loyal fans and readers will come to you when they find someone ripping you off. By that time, you’ll be on to something else.
#4 – Endless alerts
How many alerts are pinging, binging, ringing, blooping, bleeping or vibrating your ass in any given hour? (Or even as you read this.) Turn them off. They’re making bad chemicals happen in your brain. They’re distracting your focus. And they are turning you into an anxiety-ridden rat.
#3 – Half-Ass Delegation
Here’s a 7-Act Play in one paragraph:
Hire someone. Be excited. Tell him a few things to do. Get busy the next day. Forget to show him other things to do. Get frustrated because he didn’t do what you wanted. Call friends and complain that you can’t find good help these days.
Try this instead:
When you hire someone, tell him EXACTLY what you want him to do. Lay it out in step-by-step format with desired results and timelines spelled out clearly. Take time each day to continue the training. This requires consistent clarity and focus. And it pays off.
#2 — Looking at your unsubscribes
How many times do I have to tell you to stop doing this?
Your unsubscribes are none of your business. Turn off that alert NOW.
Then, hire someone to manage your list and keep an eye on your unsubscribes.
(And yes, she will inform you the day your whole list decides they don’t like you anymore and collectively makes a mass exodus. In the meantime, the three people who unsubscribed this week can go out for cocktails together and talk about you.)
#1 — Taking the word “solo” literally
Solopreneur or solo business owner means that you run your own business. It does NOT mean that you should “go it alone.”
You can’t succeed without support from someone who is already successful at what you want to do. It’s time to reach out, hire a coach, get a mentor, or surround yourself with other successful entrepreneurs.
Now, share with me!
What are you doing (sometimes or often) that is wasting your time – and when will you stop?
The Evinrude Fishing Saucer concept boat designed by Brooks Stevens and made for the 1957 New York Boat Show.
Designed by Brooks Stevens
I feel like I should say more than that, but really, that’s all that matters. If you swing by Goodreads, you can sign up for a free giveaway of the newest Miriam Black book, The Cormorant.
So, you should go do that now:
Goodreads Giveaway Link for The Cormorant.
Make with the clicky-clicky.
Maybe get a free book.
MAYBE GET A FREE PONY.*
* no pony.
I've got a little something from an urban fantasy-ish wip I've restarted this week.( Snip!Collapse )