Tune-In Tuesday: Follow Me by Muse

Yes, I’ve been absent for quite a while. But I have a really great excuse. And I’m returning with music. 😉

I won MCRW’s Melody of Love Contest in the Paranormal category, and with that win I received a FULL manuscript request from an editor. SQUEE! So now I’m on an oh so damn tight deadline. So I’ll most likely continue to be in and out online for another few weeks.

So…now for the song of the week. 🙂

Enjoy!

 

 

Tune-In Tuesday: Peace of Mind

We’re taking it back this week on Tune-In Tuesday to an old favorite by Boston: Peace of Mind.

The good thing about writing playlists is you can have such a variety of music–from Boston to Thirty Seconds to Mars, from The Beatles to Muse, from Madonna to Evanescence. I, for one, really enjoy the good vibes and inability to sit still when bands such as Boston, AC/DC, and Foreigner come on the radio.

Enjoy!

What about you? Are there any old tunes that you just have to have in your writing playlist? What are some of your favorite bands from “back in the day”?

Tine-In Tuesday: The 2nd Law–Isolated System

Welcome back to another installment of Tune-In Tuesday!

This week, we’re visited the world of my current work-in-progress, RETRIBUTION, with a song from Muse called “Isolated System”.

For those of us who’ve seen the movie World War Z, this song is going to sound eerily familiar. This song is not only the opening music for the zombie-flick, but it played throughout the film, mostly during transitional scenes.

Enjoy

 

 

Tune-In Tuesday: Covers & Re-Makes (Feeling Good)

Music, novels, movies, and TV shows. These modes of entertainment have plenty in common, but for today we’re going to focus on one in particular:

The Re-Make

As writers we hear quite often that there are no true original plots, only fresh twists and takes on old, existing plots. This is true, and it got me thinking on how truly original most music is these days. You can turn on the radio and listen to a brand new single and think, “How are these artists coming up with these original tunes? Holy Genius I wish I could come up with something like that!”

Well, similar to novels, movies and TV shows, music also recycles their story/theme threads. And just like novels, what makes the theme original is the presentation, the feeling driving the music, the unique word choice, and the artist who used the tools available to them to create something original and magical.

I enjoy working with analogies (I bet nobody could tell, right?), so this analogy right here totally blew my mind when it occurred to me. Because I never stopped to think of music in these terms. Never actually stopped and literally compared tunes to novels in the literary/creativity sense. Before now, music was purely a heartbeat, a way of life, or getting through the tough times and mainly a background noise that helped to inspire scenes and characters that I love.

Now I feel incredible inspired in a very different sense of the word whenever I hear a song. And I hope you do, too. 🙂

And in the spirit of Re-Makes and Covers, here’s one of my favorite tunes, expressed 4 different ways by 4 different artists (Muse being my absolutely favorite in this bunch)–each one unique and entertaining in its own way. 😀

Enjoy!

MUSE


 

MICHAEL BUBLE


 

GEORGE MICHAEL


 

NINA SIMONE

Tune-In Tuesday: I’m Not Alright

I’ve been a Shinedown kick lately, so today’s song comes to us from … you guessed it, Shinedown. 😀

This song is from their latest album, Amaryllis — which I highly recommend for immediate purchase and download.

Cover for Shinedown's Latest -- Amaryllis

Cover for Shinedown’s Latest — Amaryllis

Have a listen of “I’m Not Alright”:

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Still not convinced that this album is worth immediate download? Listen to more tracks from the album over on Grooveshark. 🙂

*Tune-In Tuesday is a weekly post for musical sharing. Whatever song’s keeping you sane or lifting your spirits, please feel free to leave a comment and share. The more tunes the merrier. 🙂

I love hearing from you! What songs, soundtracks or albums are you being creative to these days?

Tune-In Tuesday: Panic Station

Welcome back to Tune-In Tuesday!

Today’s musical choice comes from one my favorite bands of all time, MUSE. This is their latest single, Panic Station. 

Last week I got an alert from YouTube that a new vid had been posted by the band, and boy was I ever not prepared for this video. LOL! Don’t get me wrong, this video is awesome and these guys clearly had a fantastic time filming. But talk about psychedelic, man. 😉

Hope you enjoy!

 

 

Like what you heard? 

More Muse music vids are over on their YouTube channel, here’s a link to their latest album over on Grooveshark. Enjoy! 🙂

*Tune-In Tuesday is a weekly post for musical sharing. Whatever song’s keeping you sane or lifting your spirits, please feel free to leave a comment and share. The more tunes the merrier. 🙂

I love hearing from you! What songs, soundtracks or albums are you being creative to these days?

Song of the Week: Sing for Absolution by Muse

Happy Monday, everyone!!

This particular song is a go-to whenever I have a hard time getting the muse the cooperate.

For instance: I sat down to write this past Saturday and the muse decided he would not stick around after I got started.  I turned this song on, set it to repeat, closed my eyes,  listened for a couple of rounds, and poof! There he was standing next to me, whiskey in hand, ready to continue from where we’d left off.

Hope you enjoy this one!

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This Week In Favs……….

10) “8 Pieces of Advice About Writing Worth Listening To” by Lisa Hall-Wilson on Girls with Pens. We’ve all heard this advice before, but we can always use a reminder of the best writing tips out there – ex: Keep Writing and Show Don’t Tell. I’ll be the first to admit that I keep a list similar to this on the wall behind my writing desk. Do you?

9) “The Art of Stringing ‘Em Along” by Katie Ganshert. As writers, we have characters or backstories that we want to get out there. We want to share all we can about them with the readers. This article reminds writers to hold back because holding back = hooking the reader. In other words….. avoid the info dump! I always find that when I start a re-write I’m deleting a TON of words, placing them in a separate word doc entitled ‘Excerpts for Elsewhere’, then weaving those details one by one back into the story to string along the reader.  

8) “Changing Scale: Looking at Your Story From Different Angles” by Janice Hardy. This is HUGE. I don’t know about you, but I’m so inside my own head that I fail to approach my story from a different angle. Sometimes I’m all about the micro, and other times, I’m all about the macro….and this varies from scene to scene, chapter to chapter. In other words, my focus flip-flops. I’m a pantser, so it’s not like I have the entire story plotted before I begin, so after reading this, I will focus on one at a time as I work through my WIP….as a whole and not chapter by chapter.  

7) “8 Ways to Write Better Characters” by Elizabeth Sims on Writer’s Digest. Ahhh….. I’ve been working on something a bit similar to these tips so I had to share this article with everyone. I’ve been working on getting to know my characters better. When we first meet our characters, we know nothing more than what they’re willing to share with us. I’ve been doing some character interviewing lately and I’ve been absolutely surprised by the many personalities screaming from within my head. They’re definitely making sure I hear their opinions, which in turn, means I have a much better understanding of each one and I can weave in a few of those discoveries as I edit.

6) “Sub-plots, Main Plots, and Digressions” by Beth Hill. This article is one of the best I’ve found in reference to plotting – a must-share. Please get over there and read this article. Other than Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, I feel I have close to all the information I need to create a successful main plot – and sub-plot…..but then again, as writers, we’re constantly learning so it may be too soon for me to say that, huh?

5) The next-to-last So You Think You Can Dance goodie! **Spoiler Alert** This week was the finale and congratulations go out to Melanie for winning the competition this season. She was my favorite from the beginning and is such a beautiful inspiration to watch on stage.
I’m so sad and don’t know what I’m going to do without my weekly dance fix. *tears up* But next week will be the last week I’ll post any SYTYCD clips, which will be from last night’s finale. This means I need to fill this space with another type of video. I’m thinking TOSH.0 clips?!? I don’t know….we’ll have to see what comes to mind. Until then, I’m open to your ideas 🙂

This week’s TOP performance – and it was hard to choose since we’re down to the BEST dancers in the bunch – comes from Marko (contestant) and Lauren (an All Star and last season’s winner). This is what happens when great dance meets beautiful music:

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4) “10 Things I Believe About Writing” by Jordan Dane on The Kill Zone. Um….I’m a little late to the party on this blog since I’m just now discovering it, but that just means I have a lot of catching up to do and I don’t mind that. Especially not with the list of amazing writers this blog has! Similar to #10 this week, this is another list of advice that writers should listen to. The one that hit me the hardest was #7: “Trust Your Talent”.” We ALL need to be reminded of this. Like Jordan said, we’re human beings and we’re going to have self-doubt, but we need to trust our talent!

3) “How Do You Deal with Difficult Characters?” by Jami Gold. I have to say something first: Thank you, Jami! As I mentioned above, I’m in the middle of interviewing my characters. I’m stuck on two characters in particular. Strapping these two guys down and torturing them will not open them up so I’m just frustrated with them. I knew they were going to be this way since they’re both incredibly evil and manipulative. This was a well-timed article. Now, I ‘m just going to either ask another character to interview them, or ask other characters to share what they know about these two stubborn-and-withholding characters. Who knows….maybe I’ll dream about them both tonight and wake up in a cold sweat with the answers.  

2) “The (Not So) Dreaded Synopsis – 5 Tips To Set You Free” by Roni Loren. FINALLY!!!!! A break down on writing a synopsis that’s not intimidating or overwhelming!!! The last synopsis ‘how-to’ I read left my head spinning, but this one? This one leaves me feeling pretty darn confident to where I‘m ready to sit down and face the beast. Thank you, Roni!

1) “Afterthoughts on the Epilogue” by S.P. Sipal. I translated this article into sort of a ‘How to Write an Epilogue’. It made me think on my own idea I’ve been tossing around for a while: adding an epilogue to both give a peek-in-the-box of my character’s future lives and to leave the story with an option to re-visit in the future. Which makes me wonder….will JKR re-visit the world of magic in the future?

Don’t forget to check out yesterday’s post, “First Sentences…..And a Giveaway”. Please be sure to leave a comment and enter for the giveaway!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!!

Happy Reading & Writing!
Melinda

This Week In Favs……….

10) “On Distractions” by Nathan Bransford. “You can’t write if you don’t live.” <—This is some of the *best* writing advice I’ve ever heard! As writers, we set schedules for our writing so as to ensure we’re writing everyday to get something on the page – myself included. But Nathan’s post runs right along with the schedule I set forth for myself last week in taking 30 minutes during the work week to write while using the other free-time to spend time with my hubby, sister, work-out, and/or read. My weekends have a bit more time allotted for writing, but I still carve out time to spend with my friends who are always a source of inspiration for me. Okay, so yes, when we’re deep in the writing we want to grab onto it while the Muse is singin’ loud and proud, but what happens after the Muse’s song is over? LIFE!!! That’s what happens. A chance to recharge your battery so you can come back to your Muse when they’re ready, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and recharged to take down the next part of the story.

9) “How to Be a Better Writer: Today” by Angela Kulig at Angela WRITE Now. This is a new series by Angela that focuses on how you can be a better writer TODAY – or as Angela put it: “…how you can be more gooder!” :0) Angela left us with five points on how you can make yourself a better writer and each one holds a nugget of truth on what we as writers should do. My fav? #2 ‘Learn a new word that means the same thing as another word you already use too much.’ I’ve been trying to use different words in my WIP lately. Thesaurus.com has become my best friend. This even made me start thinking about how I use the word ‘awesome’ too much in my daily life and don’t realize until the hubs says something. My new word to replace that one? ‘Stupendous’! <—I can’t take credit for finding it though…he did the legwork for me. :0)

8) “How to Write a Query Letter” by Rachelle Gardner. Ah! The ever important query letter that stands between you and obtaining representation. I have to admit that I haven’t even thought about my query letter yet. I’m still in the editing process, and frankly, it’s a little daunting. If you’ve read the posts on QueryShark, then you may understand why I say that. Countless books have been written about how to write a query letter (I have two sitting on my bookshelf), but I rather enjoyed reading Rachelle’s quick and easy tips for a great query. Somehow, they’re not as intimidating to me anymore, which means that I may just start writing one as soon as this next round of editing is over. **Rachelle has more posts on Query letters and they can all be found right here. 

7) “Why Prologues Don’t Work” by Kristin Nelson. This struck a chord with me because I’ve been thinking about turning the first chapter of my WIP into a prologue. After reading these points from Kristin, I am definitely re-thinking that idea. While I’m still *considering* the idea, I now know what definitely doesn’t work so I can aspire to write a prologue that does. This is a list I believe every writer should have saved somewhere just in case their story calls for one. Ya never know…by having these tips handy, you could be the one to break the mold by writing a fabulous prologue one day!

6) “Conflict vs. Tension” by Becca Puglisi on The Bookshelf Muse. I love reading about other writers’ epiphanies! Becca’s is especially important as it points out the difference between conflict and tension. You may have conflict written all-over your MS, but that doesn’t mean the page-turning tension is there, does it?? Nope, not one bit! Becca’s tips for writing a MS full of tension are spot-on: Conflict in every scene, primal stakes, and clear emotional responses. This is yet another post that made it into my ‘book of knowledge’ (aka: three-ring binder full of printed blog posts with tips and tricks for a writer about the craft).

5) You guessed it! Another So You Think You Can Dance goodie! I bet you’re wondering why I chose to include these dances on my list. Here’s why:
Inspiration can be found in many different ways, people, songs, books, etc. For me, inspiration can be found in both music and dance. The young dancers of So You Think You Can Dance are 100% purely inspirational to me. Their dedication, their ease of movements and their infectious personalities all inspire my writing in some way, shape of form. Most Wednesdays, it’s a new song to add to my writing playlist because of how it was expressed on stage, but other times, it’s the emotion that the dance evoked inside my heart.

Ok, enough of that…bring on the dancing!

After seeing Sasha dance the 2nd routine of the night with All Star Kent – last year’s runner-up – the show was O-V-E-R for me. I was just absolutely….done! This dance was all about two people and the wall their relationship has hit and all the emotions they feel as they’re fighting to get to the other side of that wall. Tyce Diorio, the choreographer, is another one of my favorites and I just…I just love his work to pieces. I really really hope you enjoy this routine:

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BUT! Another something-magical happened! The very last dance of the night featured contestants Caitlyn and Marko and WOW! If you remember, the song, “Heavy In Your Arms” was one of the Songs of the Week here on the blog. The interpretation of that song here was AMAZING!! Here’s the premise: Marko is an over-bearing, controlling man and Caitlyn is trying to escape him so she can find her own voice. I’ll let their dance tell you the rest:

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4) “Things I Never Considered About Being a Writer” by Lisa Gail Green on Paranormal Point of View. Learning from other writers is one of the many things I LOVE to do and Lisa’s post hits all the other highlights of why I enjoy being a writer (other than the magic of writing). Everyone is so open and willing to share their knowledge: my family and friends are behind me 100%, I welcome constructive criticism and/or rejections and strive to learn from them, and the people I’ve met and connected with are absolutely amazing at what they do.  I’m proud to have been able to interact, learn from, and call them a ‘writer friend’. In regards to learning, there’s a similarity in writing and practicing yoga: you’re always learning, always a student. You may be able to teach others about a few things along the way, but there’s always room for us as writers to grow and learn from one another.  

3) ”The Flaw in JKR’s (Brilliant) Plan” by S.P. Sipal at Harry Potter for Writers. So….I guess there’s hope for me? LOL! Seriously though, when it comes down to it, I agree with Susan here: “…noting these mistakes JKR made gives me hope. It reminds me as a writer that I don’t have to be perfect (though that is no excuse to not strive for excellence). What is absolutely required, however, is to thrill my reader as JK Rowling did that these imperfections just make the work sparkle more brilliantly.” Nobody and no story is going to be perfect….but we sure can try and rest easy at the end of the day if it isn’t. Don’t you agree??

2) “The First Sentence as an Amuse-Bouche” by Therese Walsh on Writer Unboxed. We’ve all experienced and dealt with the pressure of trying to come up with that amazing first sentence. One that’ll hook the reader from the get-go and never let them go. But, unfortunately, sometimes we stare at a blank page and watch the cursor while we try to think of how to start our next WIP. My advice? Scrap thinking about how you’re going to start the next project. Just start it! Once you’ve reached the end, that perfect first sentence will come to you and hint at the fabulous character arc the reader is about to experience. The first sentence of my WIP didn’t come to me until the moment I typed The End: “Today was the day I wish I had the immortal gifts of my characters.” <—Is it making you go ‘hmmmm’?

1) “Meta-Emotion: How We Feel About Feelings, and How it Can Affect Our Writing” by Sarah Fine on The Strangest Situation. This post was a wonderful insight into how we as writers feel about feelings and how it leaps into our writing. This is one of the many reasons why I feel like I have to become my characters when I’m writing them. I’m pulled into their minds and feelings, leaving my own on the door step as I take a walk in their shoes for a day and witness a vastly different set of emotions and thoughts. If I didn’t, there would be a whole lotta author intrusion going on and that’s just not attractive. No one feels the same way or handles situations the same way I do. Not my family, not the reader, and most certainly not my characters. This post reminded me of that.

**Bonus Link!!**
Here’s a little humor to start your weekend off with. It’s a ‘Public Service Announcement’ that gave me a fit of giggles while I was reading it though mostly that was because I was nodding my head as I read through most of Patti’s signals of the condition.
I’m on the road to recovery. :0)

Here are a few updates to go along with this week’s favs:
Off the Blog: Overall, this was actually a great week! On Monday, I went back to work (after a 7 work-day vacation) and I wasn’t nearly as overwhelmed by emails like I thought I would be. I’m still behind on a few things, but they’ll get done sooner rather than later. I even started my new ‘Finding the Balance’ schedule and so far, so good there!
On the Blog: It was an awesome week for writing. I had a hard time picking a ‘Top Ten’ – or top nine if you remove a space for a SYTYCD clip. I even had a stroke of inspiration this week and wrote a post on writing with multiple POV’s. I’m crossing my fingers that this will happen again over the weekend so I’ll be all set on posts next week! :0)

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!!

Happy Reading & Writing!
Melinda

This Week In Favs……….

10) “The Big Post of Querying” by Kat Zhang on The Katacomb.. This particular post was in response to a question posed to Kat in regards to how she went about querying – which is a daunting task that I think all aspiring authors tend to get the heebe-jeebes about (I know I do). I love Kat’s honesty in her postings. It’s incredibly refreshing and it’s encouraging to hear that within two months of querying, she found herself an agent. I think I’ll be looking to follow some of the advice she gives here. I also couldn’t stop laughing at this twitter conversation she posted. Thanks, Kat…hope you survive the reenactments!

9) I’ve discovered a great writing blog: Miss Snark’s First Victim: A Blog for Aspiring Authors. This particular blog caught my eye as I was reading Kat Zhang’s post (see #10 above). The ‘Authoress’ is anonymous, but she holds monthly (except for June & December) “Secret Agent” contests (aka First Page Shooters) where aspiring authors can send in the first 250 words of their MS, and the Authoress will post 50 entries for comments from other writers and the ‘Secret Agent’. This particular blog is a 2009 winner of the Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers, and I’m enjoying perusing through the first pages of other writers and learning from them on what works, and what doesn’t work. This is definitely one contest I may find myself entering once my current WIP is polished.

8) Susan (aka: Harry Potter for Writers) is now offering New Editorial Services! I guess I know who I’m going to seek a critique from when it comes time to start sending out queries. Believe me, I trust Susan to be completely open and honest when it comes to critiques on queries, synopsis, and first chapters. Her posts prove she’s got a knack for breaking down the writing and pointing out, not only the good sections, but the trouble sections as well. If I can make her want to read my MS with my query or synopsis, then I know I’ll get some requests from agents in the query process.

7) In conjunction with #9 in this post: “First Page Tips from the Pros” by Becca Puglisi on The Bookshelf Muse. Now, if you’re not following The Bookshelf Muse, then as a writer, you’re seriously missing out!! I literally spent about 5 hours so far this week perusing through their thesauruses again. I might as well take the time, paper and ink to just print every entry on emotions, character traits, settings and weather. Each one comes in handy during each stage of the writing process – especially editing.    
 
6) “Conquering Writer’s Block – When the Writing Gets Tough, the Writer Gets Tougher” by Lydia Sharp on The Sharp Angle. There are no words…..literally. I just can’t come up with how this perfectly gives a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a novel.

5) Another So You Think You Can Dance goodie!!! As we get closer and closer to deciding who America’s favorite dancer is, the pieces continue to get better and better. This week, I had 4 dances that I really wanted to highlight here, but I will settle with just 2:

Jordan & Tadd: This routine, choreographed by the wonderfully talented Travis Wall – no, I don’t have a crush. He’s just THAT good! I looooved this piece. Intensely beautiful!

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Melanie & Marko: These two dancers were previously highlighted for their outstanding ‘statue dance’ a few weeks ago (if you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a link to that post). These two dancers have proved time and time again that they are the ones to beat in this competition, and once again, I had goosebumps!! The song they danced to, “Skin and Bones” by David J. Roch? Wow! That one has now been added to my writing playlist, and I have the perfect scene to run it on a loop to while editing!

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4) “The Beauty of Books: Why The Literary vs. Genre Debate Isn’t Necessary” by Roni Loren of Fiction Groupie. Roni’s post on Wednesday, “How Fast Do You Have to Write to Build a Successful Career?”, moved a fellow blogger to comment, which then sparked into this wonderful post, opening the door to a great topic of discussion. Why don’t we let this one speak for itself, shall we? “The value and beauty of books is what they do for the reader. So if someone reads a literary memoir about the Holocaust and it makes them connect with the past and feel the anguish of what those people went through, that’s a powerful thing. However, if a woman is reading a romance in a hospital while she cares for her sick child and is able to escape from the current sadness in her own world, that is just as powerful in my opinion.” Right on, Roni!

3) “When a Character Won’t Cooperate” by Karen Essex, guest post on Writer Unboxed.  Listening to your characters is one of the most important things you can do when you’re writing. Karen learned this the same way I did: wanting my MC to be a strong, no holds-barred, independent female from the get-go. But then Avalyn spoke: “Where could I go from there? Why would anyone be interested in me if I didn’t grow into that?” A-ha! *lightbulb dings over my head**initial opening scene chucked* Listen to your MC, Muse, or whatever you call it! You may not like what they have to say, but somehow, they know what’s right and wrong in their story!

2) “Should We Write To Trends?” by Lisa Gail Green on Paranormal Point of View. This is exactly why I love the writing community. Everyone is open and honest and THEY GET IT!! Especially Lisa. Just because dystopians are hot right now, does not mean I should start writing it. Why? 2 reasons: 1: It may not be hot in two years when the times comes for the book to hit the shelves, 2: It’s not what’s in my heart! What is? Paranormal Romance (PNR) and Urban Fantasy(UF). Those genres are what make me tick. I enjoy reading them (although I will also read other genres also…if they’re THAT good), thus I thoroughly enjoy writing them. It’s a world I’m comfortable in. I can lay it all out on the page when I’m writing in this genre. Thank you, Lisa! YOU ROCK!

1) Here’s a fun video that I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I did. It’s called ‘Plot Device’. Description: “A young filmmaker obtains a mysterious device that unleashed the full force of cinema on his front lawn.” Writers, readers and movie-lovers alike will enjoy this. I found myself cracking up a few times. It’s a little long (at 9 min), but well worth the time!

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Happy Reading Everyone!!!

Melinda


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