Tune-In Tuesday: Let It Be

Welcome back to another Tune-In Tuesday installment! 😀

Today I wanted to go back a bit in music history to visit with my favorite band of all time.

The Beatles

We each have that one song, or that one band, movie, TV show, or toy from our childhood that instantly plants a smile on our lips and warmth in our hearts. The Beatles are that band for me. Their music was the first I can recall ever hearing. They were the first band I desperately wanted to see in concert (I was about 12 years too late for that one). And their albums were the first I ever turned to in times of personal turmoil.

From divorcing parents, to schoolyard bullies, to having a broken heart, to being carefree and dancing around the house like no one was watching, the Fab Four were there for me.

Here’s one my favorite songs from The Beatles–Let It Be.

Enjoy!

 

 

And for those of you who have enjoyed my trips down “Cover Lane”, here is another great version of this song from the movie, Across the Universe.

 

 

Happy Listening and Writing, everyone! 😀

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

Advice to My Newbie Author Self, Part 4: Become a Sponge

Welcome to another installment in my ongoing series: Advice to my Newbie Author Self. Before we get started, I’d like to you on a trip down Nostalgia Lane for a sec.

Do you remember Magic Capsules? Oh, those were so much fun. I’d open the package and immediately throw one (or all) of the capsules into a glass of water. Then I’d sit and wait, and wait, and wait a little more–like the impatient person I grew to be–and then suddenly … voila! I had spongy dinosaurs! 😀

Fast-foward to almost 30 years later, and all I can think about it how we as writers should learn to become more like those Magic Capsules. And this is why I love, love, love analogies!

Magic Capsules = The Writer

Regardless if we’re just beginning our journey to publication, or if we’ve been on this road for longer than we’d like to admit, at some point we realize that this road becomes less rocky once we become a Magic Capsule–as in we learn to absorb every piece of writing advice we come across.

Why the learning curve though? Why does it tend to take us so long to learn to absorb the fantastic writing advice? Because, like the Magic Capsules, we have a shell. Many writers are introverted, so we hide behind a thin shell of protection when we first begin our writing journey. Everything’s new, everything’s fresh–the words, the stories, the characters. So when we first begin, we simply focus on getting the story written. We block out everything else–family, friends, online community, etc. Which, to be honest, is how it should be when we’re first starting out. How else are we going to remain committed to finishing a draft if we’re distracted? *grin*

But after we type The End, it’s time to shed our shell and let the inner writer grow, flourish, and absorb.

Water = Writing Craft Books, Blog Posts, Critique/Editing Partners, Writing Craft Courses, The Witing Community, etc.

Once we let our outer shell dissolve, it’s time to begin absorbing the fantastic plethora of writing tips, advice, tricks, and techniques. When we’re open to receiving all of this wonderful guidance on our writing journey, our heads begin to feel like the sponge crammed inside one of those Magic Capsules.

Oh, my head’s spinning. OMG, I’m so overwhelmed with writing craft awesomeness it’s insane. Holy hell, somebody get me a glass of wine–screw it, make it the whole bottle.

For some of us, feeling super overwhelmed with information and advice makes us want to shut down, turn off the listening ears, and crawl back into our shells. BUT, like the Magic Capsule spongy dinosaur, we canNOT fit back into our tiny shell anymore. It’s impossible to shrink our thinking back to the tiny bean-size capsule it was before. Impossible. So what do we then?

Proper Care #1 = Developing Thick Skin

At some point, sponges wear out. They become frayed at the edges, small pieces of sponge fall peel and fall off, and they’re no longer as effective as they used to be. This is the same concept for all of us writers. If we don’t develop thick skin in order to properly care for our spongy minds–or spongy muses–we’ll become frayed at the edges, burn out will ensue, and then we’ll begin losing pieces of our writing soul. One small fraction at a time. So thick skin to guard our precious writing souls and muses? Absolute must.

Proper Care Tip #2 = Selective Implementation

Here at my house, we have a total of four sponges that we use on a daily and weekly basis. There’s one for dishes only, one for kitchen counter top cleaning, one for floor scrubbing, and one specifically for scrubbing the bath tubs. We could use 1 for all of these tasks, couldn’t we? Technically yes, but just the thought of washing my dishes with the same sponge I just used to clean the counter (most times with diluted Clorox) sickens me.

But the point is, we could use a single sponge for all our dirty tasks. But we choose not to.

While it’s great to absorb every single piece of information out there in the Writing Universe, it’s usually not a good idea to implement all of it. Most advice/techniques/critique notes can be contradicting to one another, and most simply aren’t going to suit our personalities, our writing styles, and/or our story’s needs. Writing is subjective and everyone will have a different opinion of what we should write, how we should write, when we should write, which pubbing route we should take, and so on, and so on, and so on.

Selective implementation is simply tuning out all the outside voices whose advice does not work for us at this time, in this moment. What works for them, may not work for us. So we absorb the ideas that are being shared, then we take them home, spread them out on a table, and selectively implement what works for our story, our characters, and even our careers. We do this by listening our inner voice–our gut.

If we do all of this–crawl out of our shells, absorb the world and knowledge around us, take proper care of our minds/muses–then our sponge is most certainly destined to not only last a lifetime, but we, as writers and authors, are destined for greatness.

What about you? Do you see your writing brain as a sponge? Do you absorb all the knowledge surrounding you each and every day (online, critique notes, etc.)? Have you ever tried to implement too many pieces of advice at once? Do you listen to your inner voice on a daily basis?

I’d LOVE to hear from you! 😀

Miss my earlier posts on Advice to My Newbie Author Self? Here’s a few links to get you caught up:
Patience, Young Padawan
Buh-Bye Self-Doubt & Introverted Tendencies
The Dream vs. The Reality

Advice to My Newbie Author Self, Part 3: The Dream vs. The Reality

Many times as a newbie author–heck, sometimes a seasoned author–we get a whack in the head, or a face-full-o-concrete from a little thing called reality. For many of us writers, the moment we type “The End” on our first full manuscript is the moment we sit back and begin to daydream about huge book tours, TV interviews, movie deals, having our favorite band write a song inspired by our novel.

Yes, I seriously imagined that last one.  🙂

The Dream Scape

At the start of our writing journey, we set goals. These goals can range from, “I’m going to snag a large, multimillion dollar contact,” to “I’m going to as famous as Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and Danielle Steele.” Even our family and friends will say things like, “Don’t forget about us little people when you become a big and famous author.”

After thinking these goals, we sometimes sit back and imagine how our first TV interview would go. Maybe it’d be on Good Morning America. Maybe it’ll be Matt Lauer. OR … maybe it’ll be with Baba Wawa herself. Oh, that’d be so awesome, wouldn’t it?

Dreaming and imagining future interviews, movie deals, and everything in-between is okay. Day dreaming is what our imaginations do. And our imagination is what made us an artist in the first place. So turning that part of our brains off is impossible. And even if we could our imaginations off for a moment, would we even want to? Hellz no. Because we’re artists. We’re writers. And we can’t imagine going a second without the vivid imagery our brains conjure at various times of the day.

However …

At what point–and when–do we draw the line in the sand between dreams and reality?

When should we reign in our imagination? When should we begin telling ourselves, “Ya know, it’d be great to nail that TV interview with Baba Wawa. And it’d be great to sit on a movie set and watch my characters come to life. But maybe I need to think small-scale. Baby steps. How about I snag the title of published author first?”

The answer to those questions are for each of us to decide. Maybe we don’t start telling ourselves to slow our day-dreaming-roll until after we knocked down by a brutal critique. Maybe we pull our heads out of the clouds when we attend our first local RWA chapter meeting.

It doesn’t matter when we stop and come back to reality. What matters is that we do, at some point, take a look at our writing journey from a realistic standpoint.

I recently had a conversation with a mother and her oldest son. Mom told me that her youngest son wants to be a published author. Older son told me that he felt bad because he might’ve discouraged his younger brother by telling him, “It takes hard work and it doesn’t look like a goal you’ll achieve quickly.” My response? Well, I said that maybe little brother should’ve discovered that reality on his own. However, I also said, “You’re definitely right about what you said, though.”

Because that’s the reality.

Now it’s just a matter of the younger brother’s perception. If younger brother wants to become a published author bad enough, he’ll accept the reality as a challenge and face it head-on. And throughout his entire journey to becoming published, he’ll continue to dream of the day that he signs a publishing contract on a daily basis. 🙂

So the perception question is: Do we fall now? Do we face reality now, in that first moment of typing “The End?” Or do we allow ourselves to hold on to those BIG publishing dreams as long as humanly possible and run the risk of doing more damage to our hearts at a later time?

For me, personally, I wanted a cold, hard dose of reality as soon as possible. The more time I spend day dreaming of meeting Matt Lauer in person, the more my heart’s going to crumble when I realize I have a snowball’s chance in hell at that ever happening. The more I keep going through life believing I’m already the best at my chosen profession, the more I’m going to look like an idiot. And I already embarrass myself enough as it is, thank you very much. 😉

So even though I waited a little longer than I might’ve liked to get my dose of reality, I still sought out the facts and welcomed the smack of reality. Searching out articles like “Author Reality: Today’s Book Publishing Industry” is my way of bringing myself back down to earth. Which is just my style since I’ve never really been one to make large decisions without facts (in life, not writing–that’s a whole other topic). After I got the facts, I knocked a few items off my “ultimate goals” list. And now my goal list is a bit more in line with what’s realistic and possible.

Though I still dream of having Michael Sheen playing one of my first characters in a movie one day. 🙂

Michael Sheen

Yes, you will play one of my characters on the big screen one day, Mr. Sheen.

Note: The best part about being a writer on a journey like this is that there are many of us who prefer to keep that high dream alive and on the top of the goals’ list. And that is A-OK. Because we’re individuals, and what works for one of us, motivates and drives one of us to do and be our best, may not work for others.

Which means this particular debate–the dream vs. the reality–is an individual decision. One that only we can decide.

I’d love to hear from you! Which side of the scale do you fall? Do you have an ultimate goal for yourself? Did you shoot for the moon, or did you pull back a little? What was your “published author daydream” when you first began this journey?

Previous Advice to My Newbie Author Self posts:
Part 1: Patience, Young Padawan
Part 2: Buh-Bye Self-Doubt and Introverted Tendencies

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?

Tune-In Tuesday: Beautiful With You

Last week was a tough week. Between the Boston Marathon bombing and the explosion in Texas, it just didn’t seem as though things could get any worse.

Ah, but they could … and they did. At least on my end. My friends were dealt with terrible news. Then as I tried to be there for them, I learned a harsh reality: people change and friends grow apart. Most times there’s nothing you can do. People reach for their dreams, take different paths at different speeds in life. And all of that is completely okay.

It’s life. It happens. And that’s when it’s time to focus on the positives in life. The amazing memories you have that’ll make you smile.

The wonderful and loving people in your life that’ll be there and love you no matter your flaws or your mistakes. Which is why I chose Beautiful With You by Halestorm for this week’s Tune-In Tuesday.

Take it from Lizzy Hale–there’s nothing more beautiful than the one person who gets us like no other, and loves us for who we are on the inside. 🙂

Beautiful With You

Have a listen of “Beautiful With You”:

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Like what you heard? 

More Halestorm tracks are available via my Falling in Love/Smexy Songs playlist 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?

Getting Armed and Ready for a New Author Site & Blog

Usually when writers set out to start a blog, we get so excited over the idea of getting out there and sharing our journeys that we make the mistake of not truly researching all the options out there for an author site and/or blog.

Who has two thumbs and made that mistake three years ago? *whistles and looks away* 😉

When we’re finally ready to put ourselves out there, we can sometimes go with the first blogging platform we’ve discovered. If we have an overly zealous type personality, we may also find that we’re chained to our computer whenever a new story or character crosses our paths with no idea of where the story’s going (I’ve done that one, too. It was a total, nonsensical mess).

So the question out there for many new authors can range from “Where do I start?” to “What should I blog about?” Those were my main questions, and I failed to do my research. The results ended up being okay, but not great. In almost 3 years, my stats on Blogger were: 26,000 page views, 175 posts, and 60 followers. Those stats aren’t bad, but they’re not great. They’re not where I would’ve pictured myself three years into blogging.

When results aren’t what we’d hoped for, that means it’s time to rethink, re-attack, and re-boot.

Where Do I Start?

There are many, many, many resources out there with advice on the pros and cons of the different blogging platforms. We just have to know how to find them. We can either Google search blogger vs. wordpress (which is what I just did to find the previous link), or we can turn to other author-bloggers that we’ve come to know and trust (A suggested place to start would be with Jami Gold, Paranormal Author. Here’s a link to her posts on author websites).

Once we’ve compiled all the information on our site possibilities, it’s time to get serious, sit down, and make a decision. These decisions range from super simple to oh-my-god-my-brain’s-on-decision-overload. Here’s an example of the decision-making process I undertook about three years too late:

  • Am I going to stay with Blogger or go to WordPress
  • Will I purchase a domain name (ex: yourname.com)?
  • Who will I host my domain name with?
  • What’s my vision for this new site?
  • Am I going to learn coding (HTML, CSS, PHP) so I can design the site on my own? Or will I just use a template from my chosen platform? OR should I hire a designer?
  • How soon do I want this new site up and running?

Once all these decisions are made, it’s time to get started on creating our site. And once our site’s created–look how shiny and purdy it is!–it’s time to start blogging and connecting with our audience.

What Should I Blog About?

Yet another mistake many beginning bloggers make is that we get out there and start blogging without really know how to connect with the audience. Some of us don’t even ponder on those all-too-important questions of: What types of posts will roll out the welcome mat to readers? What kinds of topics will help forge a connection? Why in the world would someone want to read my damn site in the first place?

For my journey, I, once again, started asking these questions way too late. *headpalm* But once I started asking, I turned to Social Media Jedi, Kristen Lamb. I picked up her Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer three months ago. If you haven’t read it, I highly suggest you give it a read. Even a seasoned blogger will find many golden nuggets within her book’s pages. And after you’ve read the book, check out the posts on her site with many, many more blogging tips.

Within the pages of her book and the posts on her blog, we’ll find the answers to all our questions … and more!

The best part of reading Kristen’s book, for me, was the realization that she has made these mistakes too, and she was there to help me rectify them. Which is a huge reason why I’m here on a new site and new platform with new lessons and a new approach to sharing and welcoming insights, lessons and information. 🙂

If we now take all the information we’ve absorbed (well, after we’ve survived the head spinning–sorta 😉 ), we can now set sail into the world of social media, author sites, and blogging because we’ll be armed and ready with information, insights and confidence. *wields shiny new sword*

I’d love to hear from you!

Do you currently have an author site and/or blog? What steps did you follow regarding your site/blog’s set-up and design? Do you have any advice for authors who are new to the world of author site/blog creation? Do you have any best practices or tips you’d like share?

Keeping Positive to Keep Moving Forward



Paramore on the Honda Civic Tour
Summer of 2010
Picture by Me 🙂
I’m a huge music junkie. No doubt I’ve done everythingto hide that fact. *sheepish grin* One of my favorite bands is Paramore. I’ve seen them in concert twice, usually listen to their albums while driving across the state for the day job, and yes, many of their songs are in my writing playlists.

On Sunday I ran across a photo of Hayley Williams, lead singer of Paramore, on Facebook where it appeared as though she got a new tattoo. (Don’t want to post the pic here since I can’t locate the copyright license for it.) This tattoo may be one she’s had for a while and I’ve just never noticed, but when I saw it, it struck a chord with me. Call it coincidence, but I just so happened to be pondering my writing journey and thinking about how badly I want my writing career to succeed … then that pic came through on Facebook. And of course I noticed the tattoo right away because I myself have two of my own and enjoy checking out others’ artistic expressions.

The tattoo I’m referring to is on her left forearm and it says: Accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative.

Considering what Paramore’s been through over the last fourteen months with the loss of two original band members, Hayley’s tattoo is no doubt speaking from her personal experience of having to deal with the usual breakup issues (you know, the stuff where the ex says XYZ that isn’t necessarily true and yada, yada, yada). No matter what type of breakup it is, there will always be negativity associated with separations rooting from a difference of opinion and direction.

One of the reasons why I’ve always loved Paramore, and particularly Hayley Williams, is that they haven’t been afraid to say what’s needed to be said. A song like “Ignorance” may punch you in the face with lines like, “You treat me just like another stranger,” but that line’s quickly followed up with, “Well it’s nice to meet you sir, I guess I’ll go. I best be on my way out.” In other words, thanks-nice-to-meet-ya-I’m-outta-here, and I don’t want or need your negativity. When I’m angry at a situation, this is one of my go-to songs. 🙂


The awesome pic the hubs
took of me while I jammed
Another reason why Paramore’s listed in my top favorite bands is because of their determination to keep going, even during the rough times. Band members/friends come and go, a clashing of opinions and/or direction will happen, and sacrifices will always have to be made. And I’m sure that there may have been several moments where the remaining band members have thought about quitting (I don’t know the band, so this is purely an educated guess from a fan). But, obviously, they haven’t quit. They continue to persevere and keep going.

One way Paramore’s done this is by eliminating the negative and accentuating the positive.

They’re still a band and they’re still recording music. Even though they’ve lost two major band members, the three remaining members are moving forward and focusing their efforts on making a positive album – which is scheduled to be released in April – and giving their fans what they want a need.  

As a human being, an individual, an artist, a woman, and a wife, I’ve taken a long hard look on the inside after seeing Hayley’s tattoo yesterday, and I’ve pulled a lifelong lesson and will now strive to live by that same motto tattooed on Hayley’s arm. The lesson has been there all along, right in front of my face, right in front of everyone’s faces. It’s a known law of the universe that if you put positivity out into the world, positivity is what you’ll get back. *the epiphany moment where I slap palm to forehead*

So as a show of commitment to myself and others of this particular change in my life, I put it out there on Twitter. Kristen Lamb followed up with a response to this new-beginning-proclamation of mine:

 

As always, WANA Mama Kristen is there to help support artists when they need it, and she’s 100% right-on with this response. It’s exactly what I needed to hear. And I actually like the way Kristen put it. So maybe I’ll end up adding another tattoo to my mini-collection in the near future? 🙂

The bottom line of my post today is this: Keep positive no matter what happens, no matter how negative others are around you, no matter how many lemons life throws at you. When you do this, you’ll continue to move forward on your life’s journey.  

And always remember: “It’s not the way you plan it, it’s how you make it happen.” – Paramore from “Hello Cold World 

So from this day forward, I’m going to keep moving forward by keeping a positive mindset. And I hope that many of my friends, both online and in real life, will hold me to this. ‘Cause God knows I am in no way perfect. 🙂

 

Your turn: Have you struggled with keeping positive? Have you had those moments where you’ve recommitted yourself to the journey you’re on? What’s the best advice you’ve been given to help you stay positive?