Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Music

I feel weird writing a story about music. I can never truly do it justice, since it creates an amazing atmosphere for me. When I’m writing, I always have some kind of music playing in the background. And it usually dedicates the mood of the piece that I’m working on.

My husband recently said in an interview on Adorning Schemes that music doesn’t really influence his music. My writing isn’t necessarily affected by other authors either, but I’d like to think that my writing is improved the more I read. I learn more words, I learn better ways to phrase things, and I learn good vs. bad pacing, which I can then emulate in my own style. Regardless of that, my writing is probably more affected by the music in my ears than by other writing. It’s amusing to me that my husband’s musical influences tend to be things he reads and sees, and my influence is the music that I write to.

Some frequent bands on my playlists: M83, Visitor Seven, IAMX, Mumford & Sons, Filter, Blue October, Rise Against, Senses Fail.

A lot of people tell me that they can’t write when they are listening to songs with lyrics – but I find myself in a complete, alternate reality. The story has a backdrop of sound, and my writing flows along to the words.

Music has always been visual to me. The lyrics wrap around my brain and seize my neurons, forcing me to think about distant, non-existent places. This works for music without lyrics too. But it doesn’t work for music with very straightforward lyrics.

Some people might hate me for saying this, but the particular song that comes to mind is “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye. The line, “When I think of all the times you screwed me over/But had me believing it was always something that I’d done.” Where does that put me? Nowhere. I’ve already been there. If I want to listen to a song that could literally be about my life… well, I wouldn’t. I want to be transported somewhere new, not forced back into old thoughts.

I’m not sure if that makes sense or not, but I find myself drawn to lyrics that are very visual. I’m going to use Senses Fail’s "Yellow Angels" as an example: “I see the sky and then the ground / Kaleidoscope of light and sound / Catching flashes of my life / Just then the house lights all went out.” All of those lyrics have some visual element to them, and you can put your own meaning behind the lyrics. But for me, it brings a thousand different images and ideas into my head.  I'm flooded with "what ifs" and visual cues that I could based an entire novel just off of those lyrics.

Music has always been a large part of me and how I interpret my own internal thoughts. That’s why I'm drawn to most of music that I still listen to. I probably will continue to love weird floaty music (M83, Visitor Seven, Unkle, Sneaker Pimps, IAMX), my more mainstream somewhat indie stuff (Iron & Wine, Imogen Heap, Blue October) but also keep my punky/harder musical tastes (Rise Against, Against Me!, Bouncing Souls, Senses Fail, Thursday). They are complete opposite ends of the spectrum, but that’s the way I like it. Whatever my writing calls for, I can tune into one of my Pandora stations and find the mood that I’m looking for.

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for London

Standing Tall and ProudI have had the very fortunate experience to travel to London twice in my lifetime, and I hope that I get to go at least one or two more times.

The first time that I went, I was a second-grader, still being totted around by my mother's hand.  Don't get me wrong, I still saw a lot of awesome stuff, but it was all focused on museums, castles, and torture devices (shudders).  And because the London Marathon was happening, all of the above ground stuff was kind of cut off, so we took to the subway.

But the second time I went, that was a life changer.  I remember London being beautiful.  I remember enjoying it, but not like I did the second time.

I was twenty-one, barely putting on my legally-able-to-drink-in-the-U.S. boots, and I headed off with my best friend (and cohort over at Adorning Schemes) to do a 30 day tour with EF College Break.  I think that trip solidified our already-epically-awesome friendship into the heterosexual-lifemates realm.  Even if I get annoyed with her, it is more like she is my sister.  She could almost literally do no wrong at this point (though, I don't encourage her to test this).
London Eye 2
We arrived in London as our first stop and spent three marvelous days there.  We arrived drunk because no one warned us that "Hey, we have unlimited wine available on British Airways."  Then we spent the whole first morning hanging out in a park, trying not to fall asleep because we were already running on a whole day of no sleep.  But we made it!  Until the ridiculous early bedtime of 9pm.

We attended a Welcome Dinner at a real life English Pub, and boy... was it difficult to get vegan food, but they succeeded.  I actually never thought I would like eating a baked potato doused with beans, but somehow England made that work.  We went for our first night out on the town and had VIP access to a bar with the 90 other kids on our tour.  Our tour guide, Dave, took us on a walking tour of the city.

All BoysBut I think one of the more fun aspects of London was when we got lost.  We were trying to find this old punk club, and finally found it after hours of walking.  Thing was, when we got there, we were so intimidated that we didn't even go inside!  Instead, we headed to the strip/flea market huge thing and shopped.  We swung by a vegan cafe, which you paid per pound of food, and ate to our heart's content.

At some point, we went into a museum and got completely separated from each other.  I ended up getting directions from some really nice guys who were drinking in public - what a concept!  They were actually so nice that I wanted to take them home with me (like you would bring home a cute puppy, don't think bad thoughts here).

London was ridiculously silly, and fun, to get lost in.  It was such a great experience, and such a beautiful city (as you can see from my photos).  There are so many more photos that I took (200 I think?) that just didn't make the "perfect shot" cut, but still, the city captivated me, and I sincerely hope I get to go back someday.

What about you?  Where is the one place that you hope to go back to again?  What prevents you from going back often?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Kitten

My husband hates that I call my cat a kitten still.  But in a way, I don't think he will ever grow up.  I want to take the time to introduce you to my Munster cat.  Also known as "Kitten Face" and "Little Face."  He's my baby and I've had him since he was seven weeks old (tiny face!)

Someone rang the doorbell.  Was that the doorbell?  Mom?  Mom?  Mom?  Was that the doorbell?  Grrrrrlll...  Who is out there?  Why am I asking?  Why aren't I hiding under the bed?!  Run!  Run!! HIDE!  Oh my goodness, they are inside.  Mom, who is that?!  MOM!?  MOM!!!!  Phew... I made it.  Under the bed.  Just in time.  Who the heck is out there?

Bird.  There's a bird.  Bird.  Bird.  Look, look, it's a bird.  I can't reach it, so I'm going to chirp at it.  Eek ekekek.... ek.!  Do you think it knows that I'm hunting it?  Holy crap!  That bird is huge!!!  MOM!!! MOM!!! WHAT KIND OF MONSTROUS BIRD IS THAT?!  A CROW?!  IT'S BIGGER THAN I AM!!! MOM!!! MOM!!! MOMMY!!! MOM!!!  Ekekekekek!

Don't mind me... I'm just going to... purrrr.... stretch... purrr.... purrr... stretch... move slightly to the left... And yes!  I have taken the pillow again!  And Mom's still sleeping.  Sweet.  ZzzzZzzZzz... Oh, shoot, hi Mom!  No, I didn't steal the pillow...  purr?  Purrrrrr?  Purrrrr.....  She shifted me out of the warm spot.  No matter.  Stretch, purrr, move slightly to the left and ahhhh...zzz.....

My cat freaks out at the following:
  • Large Men
  • Crows
  • Other cats (chase chase chase)
  • The gate opening
  • The doorbell (on tv or in real life)
  • Knocking (on tv or in real life)
  • Windbreaker or snow pants (the sound)
  • Me not coming home at exactly 5:20PM
  • Not being able to get grass
  • Getting grass
  • Rakes, brooms, shovels (he won't even be within INCHES of them!)
My cat has the following weird quirks:
  • He drinks out of the sink and cries until you turn it on
  • When he drinks "normally" out of cat dishes, he puts his paw in, then licks his paw
  • He sleeps on the same spot on the couch, if you are sitting there, he just sleeps on you.  He will not sleep on  you if you are not in that exact spot.
  • He sleeps on my head, on my pillow, or upside down next to my head with his head nuzzled into my shoulder when I'm sleeping.
  • He knows how to wake me up and get me out of bed to do things that he wants.  Example:  I have a craft nook that he reaches his paw in and scrapes everything out of the nook.  When I tell him to stop, he looks at me and meows, with that look on his face that says "I will when you do this for me."  If I don't get up to appease him, he goes right back to it. 
  • He really likes to get onto the top of the highest point in the room - include the door frame when possible.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Jeep

Another Excerpt from The Unanswerable

We stretched in the morning summer air. It was sweltering, which was good and bad. While our water bottles were running dangerously low, everything else was in good condition. We had been traveling through ash and rubble for days. Every time we got to a new town, Alisha's eyes lit up. They sank just as quickly when we saw the abandoned houses, pilfered goods, and flattened stores. Every town had been the same thing, destruction. We needed transportation. We needed more water. We needed food.

So when we got into Fulton, I wasn't expecting anything to be different. She scraped the ash off of the road sign. "We might as well know where we are." Alisha dusted to soot off on her jeans, which didn't really help. We were covered. "I really want to find new clothes." She spat into her hand and tried to rub off some of the mess, it only made it bundle up into black chunks on her hand.

"I really want to get out of the north east. The last newscast I heard said that the virus had hit there the worst. That's why they bombed so far out... I guess."

"You're lucky you heard the news one last time." Alisha kicked a stone. It bounced in the ash like it was skipping on water, causing small wind ripples across the street. "I didn't even see any of this coming. I ran outside after the first explosion. The apartment complex across the street was engulfed in flames."

And that's what you get for being completely unaware of your surroundings... kids. We walked in silence until we got to the town. The buildings looked more windswept than destroyed. "Maybe this is the end of it." I walked to the first house. While the ash had smacked into the side, blacking out the windows, the inside looked like it was picked clean.

I kicked the door open, a sharp pain shot up my hip. I still wasn't used to all this physical activity. Living a cushy office job was probably the worst possible career for someone in this world. Other than some cushions left with the couches, there didn't seem to be anything else. Alisha crept in after me and marched around. She disappeared through a doorway and I heard cabinets open and shut.

"Nothing - no food... no anything. Oh! The tap still works!"

I heard the running water, "I don't know if I would-"

"Ew!!!" She came out, her hands blacker than they were before. "Is everything around here destroyed?"

I chuckled as she wiped her hands on the cushions, leaving deep stains on each. Then I saw it. A small metal object that reflected the light. "Hold on, Alisha. What's that?"

She looked down and smiled. Her hand curled around the object and tossed it towards me. The keys jingled in my hand as I caught them.

"Garage." We both said at the same time. We scrambled over the couches and busted the door down to the garage. There it was, the most magnificent thing I've seen in my whole life.

"Why does it have to be open?!" She whined.

I walked around it and kicked the tires. "Still good. I say we take it." I grinned and leaned myself against the jeep. It had no top on it, and the top wasn't anywhere to be seen. But it was a vehicle, a set of wheels, and something that could probably still get a grip on the mess that is outside.

"Ugh." She threw her pack in the back. "We are going to die from ash inhalation."

"Probably," I tossed my pack in and jumped into the driver's seat. I pushed the key into the ignition and cranked it. The engine roared to life. "At least now we can do it in style." I put on my best grin.

"You give a guy a nice car, and he reverts into a five-year-old." Alisha rolled her eyes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Introvert

The Myers-Briggs personality test and I have always hated each other. Why? It has always told me that I am directly in between being an introvert and an extrovert. One year, I got an 11E, 10I and the next, 11I and 10E. My college would put us together with other people with our same "personality" type. I was able to spent one year with Extroverts, and one year with Introverts.  While the Extroverts were more fun and loud (and I laughed a lot), I felt like the Introverts were easier for me to communicate with on a genuine level.

I used to date Extroverted guys. I found myself extremely drawn to people that were the center of attention. I wanted to be right there with them, in the middle of the action. But the relationships never lasted long. While being with an Extrovert is a fun "treat" for me, it's kind of like eating Girl Scout cookies. The pleasure only lasts halfway through the box, and then you started to get sick because you've over-indulged in the experience.

When my husband and I started dating, there was something immediately different with the relationship. There was mutual respect for space, mutual dependency and desire to spend one on one time with each other, and an immediate, incredible attraction that never faltered. And virtually no jealousy on my end - which is saying a lot because I used to be a highly jealous person.

That's when I realized that I actually am an introvert. While I love people and being in groups, while I love concerts and crowds and the energy that emanates from the throng of people, I still need time by myself. I need one on one time with my significant other, and I crave nights at home on the couch - alone.

The best thing I could have ever done for myself was to partner with an introvert. Extroverts are shiny, deadly boxes of cookies - the girl scout kind where you can never stop eating until you realize you are sick to your stomach on deadly sweetness.

But introverts? Mine has become a life partner who gives me one or two cookies a day and never lets me overeat and tells me how wonderful I am without spoiling my appetite with sweetness.

But that's me... and I really like cookies.

Tomorrow I will be posting another excerpt from The Unanswerable.

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Hawaiian Honeymoon

In less than two weeks time, I will be basking on the beach with my husband taking our very belated, but much deserved, honeymoon in Hawaii.

I want to post all about this trip when we get back, but here are some awesome things that we are planning on doing while we are down there:

·         Waikiki:
o   Visiting the Dole Plantation and getting lost in the pineapple maze
o   Submarine Tour
o   Sunset Boat Cruise Dinner
·         Maui
o   Road to Hana
o   Resort / Snorkeling / Beaching It!
·         Kauai
o   Waterfall/Kayak Adventure
o   Kauai Luau
o   Horseback Ride/Hike to another waterfall
o   Beaching it/Getting lost

I have never been to Hawaii before, so needless to say, I am very excited about it.  I will be sure to post a lot of awesome pictures and some ramblings when I get back!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

April Goals

As you have probably noticed, I have a lot going on this month - making it one of the most stressful months since college finals (seriously).

But I wanted to take the time to outline my own April Goals, since I feel like I need to get it off my own shoulders and push it out there into blogger world.

  • Finish editing Rioss - must submit to a contest that ends before I get back from Hawaii
  • Find more beta readers for Rioss
  • A to Z Challenge on this blog
  • A to Z Challenge on Adorning Schemes (thankfully, I have Llora helping me out over there)
  • Keep up with reading/commenting on A to Z challenge blogs
  • Keep up with WIP500 (hopefully writing more of The Unanswerable or Kingdom of Obsession)
  • Read and post reviews from my "to be read pile" challenge list 
  • Finish my April Giveaway
  • Prepare the post about Matilda (the next book in the Books that made me love reading challenge)
  • Script Frenzy with Llora (100 page comic book script in a month)
  • Continue digging up the horrendous back yard
  • Go on my honeymoon (April 21, and I won't be back until May)
  • Submit Ruhe to another agent (preferably sooner rather than later)
  • Find some time to breathe
You guessed it.  My deadline isn't the end of April.  My deadline for everything is the morning I leave for my honeymoon.  April 21st - and it is - gasp - already April 8th

Want to hear my May schedule?  That one is simpler.  WIP500 - write synopsis - edit - query.

Oh, and sleep.  May = sleep month.